WALLINGFORD Festival of Cycling 2018 came to a ‘crazy’ end last weekend as thousands of spectators lined up to watch a comical soap box race.

The free festival looked like a scene out of wacky races as a dinosaur, souped-up wheelie bin and other bizarre contraptions sped around the South Oxfordshire course to the delight of onlookers.

Returning for its fourth year, the three-day festival also featured a cycling show and a selection of other attractions attended by thousands.

But this was the event’s first ever soapbox race, held on the town bridge and won by the ‘Wallingford Blends’ from the fire brigade.

Team Puma, from the RAF, won the award for style, while the children’s team ‘Boom Box’ were recognised in the performance category, in which all the competitors were judged on a 30 second performance to music.

The event raised money for Oxfordshire MIND, a mental health charity, and Style Acre, an adult disability charity based in the town.

In total more than 1,000 cyclists of all ages took part in the weekend festival and cycled a combined total of at least 18,500 miles - despite the hot weather and World Cup matches.

The pump track, a continuous circuit of bumps, jumps and turns, inspired 150 young people on scooters and bikes.

Festival co-founder Tony Sefton said: “The event was a great success – which was down to a combination of more than 100 committed volunteers, support from the town and district councils and our local sponsors such as Grundon waste management, Rubie’s Fancy Dress and the Old Counting House small business centre in Wallingford.”

Beginning as a one-day festival in 2014, volunteer organisers have been aiming to ‘inspire as many people as possible, young and old, to get on their bikes’.

Mr Sefton continued: “We were delighted to include the Style Acre inclusive ride, with adapted cycles, as part of the competitive criterium races in which cyclists completed laps around the town centre on Sunday afternoon.

“With our varied festival programme of events, we wanted to show how cycling can be for everyone, no matter your age or ability. Our youngest riders were aged two and our oldest rider was 85.”

Speaking ahead of the event, Dylan Evans, active communities manager at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Together we are making South Oxfordshire a fitter, healthier and happier community where everyone has the opportunity to enjoy outdoor sport.

“It is wonderful to see that the festival has now grown into a three-day event and by working alongside a local charity, Style Acre, we are able to offer an Inclusive Ride on the Sunday, making this a truly accessible event.”

The festival is expected to return next year.