Visit beauty spot and get on your bike for fun ride

MANY people would usually choose four wheels over two – especially if it is the typical bank holiday weather of rain, showers and general downpours.

Friday, 6th May 2011, 9:00 am

But with a record amount of bank holidays this April, and an unprecedented run of sunshine, lots of Dunstablians made the most of the new Dunstable Downs Cycle Hire facility next to the Chiltern Gateway Centre.

The set-up is a welcome addition to the National Trust site, which seems to be slowly adding to its visitor opportunities.

Run by siblings Rob and Phil Bigwood, the brand new business opened at the beginning of April, with decidedly chilly winds and few customers.

But by Easter weekend, the hire centre and the sunshine had attracted numerous passing customers, with visitors to the beauty spot making the most of the bikes on offer.

And the pair – who are both cyclists themselves – hope that the successful start will lead to a booming trade this summer, as the hire shop will run every weekend and bank holiday from 9.30am until 5pm until October.

Rob, who lives at Woodside, told the Gazette: “Most people take the bikes for an hour or half-an-hour and take in the sights. We’ve aimed it towards the families and that’s what we’ve had so far.

“But we’ve already outdone our expectations so we are quite pleased. We’ve got the right vibe with people saying they will be coming back. If this takes off here we would like to try it at other National Trust sites.”

Dunstable Downs Cycle Hire has 20 bikes in total including adults and children’s cycles, bikes with child seats and tag- alongs for youngsters who are still mastering the art of riding without stabilisers.

And the bike trials are as difficult or easy as you make them. If you are looking for a mountain to climb on your bike, there are plenty of hilly spots. But for those of you hoping for an easier ride, there are also gentler slopes to scoot along.

And hurtling along an off-road path with stunning views of Aylesbury Vale is a cheap and cheerful way to spend a Sunday afternoon at just £5 for an hour.

“I think the location is really beautiful,” said Rob. “We don’t have a lot of places around here like this. I’ve been in the area for four years and Luton and Dunstable get a bad reputation which is a shame. People don’t realise things like this are here. It’s a nice place to work.”

This summer the National Trust is hosting a cycle challenge at Dunstable Downs for family groups and seasoned pros – and you can now hire a bike to take part.

The events are being held on June 19 and July 24 and will see a family ride of 25 miles through the countryside and 50 or 80 mile circuits for the more experienced cyclist.

> Bike hire prices start at £5 for adults and £4 for children for one hour.

To make a booking email [email protected] or just turn up on the day you want to ride.

Riders must leave a deposit of £50 for the bike or a credit card, driving licence or passport.

For more information on the cycling challenge visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cycling