World champion cyclist inspires North Yorkshire children with her story

School children heard the story of a champion cyclist, who started out cycling on a shopper bicycle and had to be persuaded by her father to enter her first race at 13 – before becoming a world-beating winner just a few years later.

Front row, Mandy Bishop with pupils from Mill Hill Primary School in Northallerton. Back row from left, North Yorkshire County Council leader, Cllr Carl Les and Hambleton District Council leader, Cllr Mark Robson and Hambleton District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Cllr Bridget Fortune

Mandy Bishop is touring schools in Yorkshire this week to talk about the forthcoming UCI Road World Championships and her journey to winning the Elite Women’s Road Race in 1982 - the last time the international race visited Great Britain.

She took her winners’ rainbow jersey and gold medal to Mill Hill Community Primary School in Northallerton on Monday morning (9 September), which was the first stop on the Rainbow Jersey Tour of Yorkshire schools.

Northallerton is hosting the start point for the Men’s Elite Individual Time Trial on Wednesday, 25 September. From there, Mandy Bishop visited Richmond Methodist Primary School. Richmond will host the start of the Men Junior Road Race on Thursday, 26 September.

The world championships begin in Yorkshire on Sunday, 22 September, preceded for the first time by the Yorkshire 2019 Para-Cycling International on Saturday, September 21, which will act as a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The nine-day sporting event will involve 1,400 cyclists from 90 different countries, from the US to Syria and Guatemala.

Mandy said it promised to be a rewarding sporting event with something for everyone: “Yorkshire is great at putting events on because they have been doing it for a number of years with the Tour de France and Tour de Yorkshire,” she said.

“The road world championships has cycling events from time trials to road racing,  junior races, right through to elite - so we have a much wider range of competitors racing in many cycling events which gives people the opportunity to see different types of racing. It captures people’s imagination even if they’re not cyclists.

“If you’re watching the race at the roadside, you get the atmosphere; the caravan, cyclists and team cars going by. The atmosphere is great and hopefully it will also encourage more young people to take up cycling.”

Mandy showed the pupils her gold medal and 1982 winners’ jersey. She also showed children the modern Lycra jersey of her local cycling club, which she wears today and displays the UCI rainbow piping on its sleeve.

Riders can wear rainbow piping on the sleeve cuffs and collar of their team journey for the rest of their lives, as testimony to their world-beating achievement.

North Yorkshire County Council leader, Cllr Carl Les said: “It has been great to see so many local school children so captivated by Mandy Bishop’s inspiring story and their excitement about the pending world championships. We’re all looking forward to the county taking to the world stage in a few days’ time and the fantastic coverage for North Yorkshire.

“Our communities like to make their own events of the event. Race viewers will not be disappointed - North Yorkshire is promising to put on a fantastic show and provide a warm welcome to the race.”

Councillor Mark Robson, Leader of Hambleton District Council, said the excitement for the race is building.  “All the businesses in Northallerton and along the route to Harrogate are getting ready for the race – we have bunting and rainbow coloured flags everywhere and shops have adopted the countries that will be represented at these championships,” he said.  “To see the schoolchildren also so enthusiastic about it was wonderful.”

And in Richmond, the District Council Leader, Councillor Angie Dale, added: “Everyone one of the children in the Methodist School hall today was enthralled by Mandy’s passion for cycling and the world championships – we are very excited to be welcoming the junior men’s elite cyclists to our town.”

Yorkshire 2019’s jersey tour will be visiting more schools in North Yorkshire this week, including Tadcaster’s Riverside Primary School – one of the start points for the Para-cycling International races, which will kick off the nine days of racing.

On Friday the rainbow jersey tour visits Western Primary School in Harrogate and Holy Trinity Junior School in Ripon.

This story was published 10 September 2019