It is not every day that you get to cycle with Britain’s most successful Olympic champion by your side.
But lucky youngsters had the chance to do just that with the Capital’s very own Sir Chris Hoy. He even jumped on a tiny bike to help encourage the excitable children to pedal along with him.
The six-time gold medallist was back in his home city as part of a major cycling event in the Grassmarket, and eager fans of all ages queued up for autographs and photographs.
Sir Chris’s visit coincided with the Edinburgh leg of the men’s Pearl Izumi Tour and the women’s Matrix Fitness Grand Prix professional series.
Youth races and an amateur ride kicked off the events on the 1.3 kilometre loop around the Grassmarket, taking in Victoria Street, George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row.
Sir Chris gave youngsters a spin on his new children’s bikes on an inflatable test track, before riding a few laps of the race circuit with 50 fans who were drawn at random in a prize draw by Evans Cycles.
He told the Evening News: “It’s great to be home, even though it’s a flying visit. I’m just back for a few hours, I’ve got a charity dinner up at the Balmoral and then back to Manchester.”
He said he could not stay longer as he is motor racing at Silverstone this weekend.
Sir Chris added: “It’s been a busy week. We’ve been to Brighton, London, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh – this is a three-day whistlestop tour. We launched the whole range last year and we’re launching the kids range this week.”
He said he wanted to promote the philosophy that people should cycle for fun, and build on that if they are keen to take it further.
Sir Chris said the location of yesterday’s professional races – which were staged in the Capital for the first time – was unbeatable. It’s great. I think it’s a unique setting and it’s a beautiful spot,” he said. “The tour is going round the whole of the UK but I don’t think any of the venues are quite as cracking as this. When you’ve got the Castle right in the background as well, it’s beautiful.”
Fans travelled from near and far for a chance to meet Sir Chris.
Gordon Clarke, 41, from Gorgie, brought his four-year-old daughter Annie for a shot on the track before Sir Chris signed her cycling helmet. He said: “I was telling the kids he was the fastest man in the world, and that impressed Annie.”
Bruce Stirling, 50, was there with his children Finlay, five, and Iona, two, who also gave the mini-track a try.
Mr Stirling, from Polwarth, said: “It’s not often you get to cycle with an international superstar. It’s great to see.”
Sue McKeever, husband John, and children Caitlin and Alex travelled from the Lake District. The 47-year-old said: “I think I was more excited to see Chris Hoy than anybody else.”