“Being a cyclist, it’s never about the destination but about the journey and simply being surrounded by the beautiful scenery that is the Northumberland countryside or coastline is perfection for me.”
Peter Harrison lives and breathes cycling. Starting his passion in his teens, Peter now organises the well-known Cyclone Festival which sees over 3,000 cyclists come together across the region each year.
Even though he lives in Newcastle, his heart is in Northumberland. Having cycled over 650,000 miles in his life so far, it’s safe to say he knows the county inside out yet is still surprised by the changing landscape and visitor’s behaviour.
When catching up, it is clear that what really grinds his gears is the litterers out there.
“I can’t quite believe where the time has gone, but I started road cycling 60 years ago at the tender age of 14! Gosforth Road Club was where it all began and I am proud to say I am Club Chairman there now and hope to be for many more years to come.
“I was lucky enough to turn my hobby into a fruitful career which has seen me travelling the globe working for Madison the Shimano Importers - setting up the first Shimano Service Centres in the UK - as well as teaching both here and in Canada.
“I now organise Cyclone Festival and own my own bike shop in Forest Hall, Cyclelogical which, of course, is also a Shimano Service Centre.
“I adore Northumberland and there are so many places I could recommend from Rothbury to Elsdon to Bamburgh and Bellingham but I can’t say I have a favourite place. Being a cyclist, it’s never about the destination but about the journey and simply being surrounded by the beautiful scenery that is the Northumberland countryside or coastline is perfection for me.
“What I also love is connecting with the local communities and being empathetic to their hometowns and villages. I hate it when I see people littering or not picking up after their dogs, it feels like a kick in the teeth for the people that live in this amazing county. They wouldn’t like it if their hometown was covered in rubbish so why do they think it’s okay to litter here?
“Inconsiderate driving and parking are also issues in Northumberland, there are so many car parks that it baffles me when I see cars parked illegally or in front of cattle grids or farm gateways. People also need to take care when driving along country lanes, particularly if they aren't used to it. I regularly see cars speeding through them at such a pace, it's dangerous for all.
“What’s more, if visitors cycled around the county rather than driving, they would see all the wonders that Northumberland holds, and I don’t just mean the landscapes. Wildlife is abundant from stoats and weasels to deer and pheasants. If you’re on a bike, you are so quiet that you can observe safely and do no harm.
“I hope that people who visit and have a great time treat it with respect at all times and love Northumberland like it's their own.”
For more info on Cyclone Festival, please visit: www.facebook.com/CycloneFestivalOfCycling/