As our six-week 'Returning to Cycling' programme draws to a close, Bike Minded coordinator, Patrick Tumilty, reflects on a successful start to the New Year...
When Christmas’ festivities are over, many of us choose the New Year to try something new. This may mean sashaying to a Samba class or signing up for French lessons. January can signal the perfect time to train for your first 5km run or give you the resolve to reduce your meat intake.
Habit change is incremental and requires an investment of time and energy, as well as perseverance. Even if you’re feeling motivated, new challenges can still appear daunting. I enjoy running, a simple exercise which I can happily engage in alone. However, experience has taught me that I get so much more enjoyment from running when I’m surrounded and supported by friends. Encouragement or a helping hand goes a long way.
"This is one reason why Life Cycle offers social, group bike rides as part of our Inclusive Cycling programmes. Thanks to our funders, The Henry Smith Charity and Bupa, adults in Bristol can enjoy these rides at no cost".
Spending time outdoors on two wheels while connecting with others is a real pleasure and provides a significant boost to one’s wellbeing and fitness.
Although travelling by bicycle in Bristol is less expensive than owning a car or motorcycle, some people face additional barriers to joining and benefiting from our group rides. Some don’t own a working bicycle, while others may be new to the city and not yet familiar with the best traffic-free routes. I regularly speak to people who are interesting in joining Bike Minded but who hesitate over worries about their physical fitness or feel anxious about being the new person in a group.
"For people who are relatively new to cycling, or who feel out of practice, we have recently delivered six Returning to Cycling rides from The Create Centre in Hotwells".
To keep things simple, these short rides happened on the same day and time each week, leaving from Create and heading out along the traffic-free Festival Way to Long Ashton Community Centre. At Create, Life Cycle has several professionally serviced bicycles and e-bikes you can borrow to use on our rides. Four of our attendees opted to try out a Raleigh Motus e-bike (whoosh!). Another five borrowed a step-through bike and relied on their own pedal power to stay warm during the crisp winter weather.
Our experienced and friendly Ride Leader, Nick, made everyone feel welcome and kept the pace of the ride comfortable. Dedicated volunteers like Hilary and Harold have lent support to those who needed it and ensured no-one got lost or left behind! Finally, the staff at LA Café have been amazing and we’ve all enjoyed their delicious food.
We were really pleased with the success of the rides, both in terms of their popularity and also how much people enjoyed them:
“I really enjoyed the ride today, it was great to get out and have some fresh air, exercise and good company. The group felt safe and well organised and I felt very welcomed. The whole experience has really boosted my mood and I'm very grateful, thank you” - Lisa
One of our aims at Life Cycle is to empower people to start cycling independently. I hope we can repeat these Returning to Cycling rides. It would be wonderful to see them replicated in other parts of the city, so more people in Bristol have the opportunity to get active, to meet new people and to experience the freedom that cycling can bring.