THE father of cycling star Becky James says cycling fever has hit Abergavenny as the festival kicks off next week.
David James, 51, is a member of Abergavenny Road Club and has organised parts of this year’s fringe events at the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling which starts on Monday.
The James family not only have two cycling stars in Becky, 22, the double Commonwealth Games medal winner and Rachel 25, the double medal winner at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships but two emerging young stars in Ffion, 16, and Megan 14.
Ffion takes part in mountain bike competitions and Megan competes is the under 16’s road and cyclo-cross competitions. Both Rachel and Becky will be competing at this year’s Commonwealth games in Glasgow.
Rachel is a tandem pilot and has previously won world championship with Sophie Thornhill and will be competing in the games with Welsh athlete Rhiannon Henry.
David James, said: “We will get to see them both in the Commonwealth games which is fantastic as they are competing for Wales.
“It all started for Becky in Delhi and now she will be competing against her English and Scottish colleagues.”
“Their success has inspired youngsters to join the cycling club, especially young girls. It’s fantastic.”
The whole family are members of the Abergavenny Road Club and Megan, along with her mother Christine, will be taking part in the Champion Sportive.
Mr James said: “We all started cycling as a combination of things, Becky’s school at Govilon had an after school club and at the time I was spending my time in Bristol hospital with Beth so I bought a bike and the kids started riding.
“We took them all to Coed Trallwm Mountain Bike Centre near Builth Wells and they all loved it. Becky was about 11-years-old and Gareth about 12-years-old.”
Mr James has organised this year’s Deri Dash which will take place on Tuesday evening and will be a hill climb up to the James’ property in aid of charity. The 0.56km hill climb will be at a 19 per cent gradient.
He said: “We raised £1,600 for the Teenage Cancer Trust last year, this year we have chosen St David’s Hospice Care as Christine’s mother passed away in February. The St David’s nurses were incredibly supportive to her.
“We are expecting it to be quite a popular event with more than 100 cyclists taking part. Last year’s climb had around 57 entries and it has already doubled with more expected to turn up on the day.
“Riders from as young as six to 70-year-olds took part, everyone tries to see how quickly they can do it. It will be a great atmosphere with people dressing up for the occasion. “
Spiderman joined the race last year and George North, Welsh international full back will be climbing the hill for charity. The winning time for last year was 1min 37sec.
There will be food stalls and bucket collections at the end of the race.
Mr James said: “The whole festival is a fantastic celebration of the sport. The festival has gotten bigger ever year, it will be massive this year.
“It will bring lots of people to the area, Abergavenny has really become the centre for cycling. The whole town is getting cycling fever, shops are decorating their windows with tyres.”
The youth circuit will take place on Friday around the town for under 16-year-olds. The closed circuit will be outside the Grofield pub in Abergavenny.
HeIt is a very popular event with the youngsters, it’s grown year on year. In the first year we had 56 entries and now we have 155 entries for this year’s competition.
“The children love it.”
The film night which starts the week-long festival off will take place on Monday at 7.30pm and will be showing three films including Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist which will be the Welsh premiere. The mountain bike ride will take place on Wednesday from the Abergavenny Leisure Centre and the circuit races will take place on Friday including the traders carnival race.
Mr James said: “The carnival race is a fun one, some of the traders are quite competitive and others are just cruising around as if their on floats.”
Bill Owen, organiser of Abergavenny Festival of Cycling, said: “Cycling has been a culture within Abergavenny over the past couple of decades and has seen many young people grow into adults with riding bikes in their DNA.”