Two knitters from Ripon have inspired the creation of nearly 3,000 miniature cycling jerseys, as they prepare a colourful welcome for the UCI Road World Championships in September.
With cycling’s equivalent of the World Cup arriving in Yorkshire in September, many North Yorkshire communities are already busy planning their celebrations for the global event.
The UCI Road World Championships take place between September 22 and September 29 in Yorkshire and will be preceded for the first time by the Yorkshire Para-Cycling International on Saturday, September 21, which will act as a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Each day’s race will finish in Harrogate, with the start points for the races including Harrogate, Ripon, Northallerton, Richmond, Tadcaster and Wetherby.
Some communities are already preparing their welcome for the race. They include Ripon residents Carol Dunkley and Hazel Barker.
The two friends began creating knitted bunting for the town in October last year, shortly after Carol’s son, cycling enthusiast Neil Dunkley, spoke to them about planning celebrations for the race. Neil owns Moonglu cycle shop in Ripon.
Carol and Hazel soon created hundreds of tiny white jerseys, with UCI coloured stripes, to be strung across railings, shop windows and buildings across Ripon. The two are from Ripon Community Poppy Project and last year helped create vivid poppy displays throughout the city.
Carol said: “Neil told me the cycling championships were coming to Ripon next year and showed me a picture of the jerseys. Within hours I’d knitted my first string of jersey bunting.
“We put a picture on his website and it went viral. We had people from all over the country asking for the pattern so Neil put that on the website as well.”
Now the project has taken on a life of its own, with requests for the knitting patterns from all over the UK.
Up to 80 knitted jerseys a day being sent to the cycle shop, from local knitters and those further afield. People living locally can pick up a pack from the shop containing a pattern and several wools to create their own bunting. Carol estimates they have between 2,000 and 3,000 jerseys.
Hazel added: “The buntings will go on railings, the bus station, the town hall, in the Spa gardens and outside the clock tower.
“We’re trying to get across the enormity of what is going to happen when the championship races arrive. We’re happy for our pattern to go anywhere; we just want as many people as possible to get on and help create this.”
After the race, the bunting will be stitched together to form baby blankets, which will be sent to communities in need overseas, where families frequently bring new-borns home wrapped in newspaper for warmth if they can’t afford blankets. Larger bunting vests will be sent as jumpers for babies and toddlers.
Carol and Hazel have also created some UCI knitted teddy bears, which will be hidden in shops windows in Ripon throughout the race. The hidden bears will all be named after some of the leading international cyclists and form a bear treasure hunt through the town.
The cycling race is set to bring hoards of cyclists, support teams and cycling fans from across the UK and further afield. Approximately 1,400 of the world’s top cyclists from at least 80 different countries will be taking part. Each national team will bring with it dozens of support staff. An additional 5,000 amateur cyclists are also expected to take part in the race’s sportive through the Yorkshire Dales.
The race will be broadcast live by the BBC to an estimated audience of 250 million.
North Yorkshire County Council chairman, Cllr Jim Clark said: “The arrival of the championships is a once-in-a-lifetime sporting event.
“Carol and Hazel have been working hard to ensure Ripon provides a warm welcome when the race arrives in the county in September and will no doubt inspire others to plan their own celebrations and events.
“The race will bring with it a huge national and international audience and many will be seeing North Yorkshire’s towns and villages for the first time. I know communities up and down the county will be pulling out all the stops to ensure people are left in no doubt what a welcoming, beautiful county North Yorkshire is.”
To celebrate the countdown of the UCI Road World Cycling Championships’ arrival, North Yorkshire County Council is giving people the chance to win a UCI bear, knitted by Carol Dunkley, plus a hamper of goodies from across the county. To enter, simply suggest an appropriate name for Bear here.
In the run-up to the championships, the bear will be travelling around the county, visiting the towns, communities and landmarks soon to be on the world stage. Follow North Yorkshire County Council on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to follow his travels.