u3a - Cycling Spotlight - North West

Lymm & Thelwall Cycling Group

by John Bower, Group Leader & u3a Subject Adviser for Social Cycling

Before you go riding it is worth thinking about a few simple points to help you and your fellow riders keep safe & be able to help each other enjoy the rides. 

Check your bike before you ride ABC -

  • Air: check tyres are pumped up and wheels & tyres look OK. 
  • Brakes: make sure they work & are capable of stopping you. 
  • Chain/Cassette: make sure your pedals, chain & gears work effectively. 

Make sure you are personally ready to ride -

  • Breaks/Rest: are there suitable arrangements for breaks/recuperation during the ride?
  • Clothing: wear clothing suitable for the ride environment & weather. 
  • Drinks: a container for holding a drink is very useful to have, especially in Summer. 

Always carry spares to get you home - you can’t always rely on others being able to help you, but you might be able to help others! Check whether your group leader can offer simple maintenance tips/guidance or knows where there might be basic maintenance courses you can attend -

  • Spare tube(s): it is easier to change a tube than try to find & repair a puncture on the side of the road. 
  • Pump/Inflater: to reinflate tyres if you have a puncture. 
  • Multi-tool: with Allen/Hex/Torx keys, Screwdrivers, Spanners, etc., to fit screws, nuts & bolts on your own bike, (things will come loose when you least expect it). 
  • Cable Ties: they come in handy to attach/secure items that come loose unexpectedly. 
  • Old Inner tube: in case your tyre sidewall splits/gets cut, (put a piece under the slit & it will stop your tube poking out & puncturing - an old toothpaste tube or even a new polymer £5 note will do just as well!). 


If you are going to be leading, know the route you are going on -

  • Plan a Route: it is important to have a good idea where you are going with the group & consider offering a different length of ride, on-road/cycleways/routes, etc. 
  • Share the Route: sharing the route before you ride is useful. 
  • Route Profile: share the route profile – (some people don’t like hills so let them know what is involved!) 
  • Re-routing: plan routes that can be modified/shortened if the situation changes. 
  • Cafe/Drinks: plan a midpoint cafe stop as a goal & it is pleasant to stop & chat a while. 
  • Build Up: don’t overstretch on a route, build up the distances over time or provide different routes. 
  • Pace: plan on the pace being suitable for all members on the ride. 

Riding together; everyone -

  • Check the Route: is the ride suitable for yourself & your current riding capabilities? 
  • Pace: it is not a race, be mindful of others in the group, they may be slower or less able. 
  • Togetherness: leave no one behind – (you are all in the group together). 
  • Help out: if you are able to, help others resolve any issues they may experience during the ride. 
  • Friendly: being friendly & chatty with others whilst out riding is good, (it will usually be returned with the same response &, if you need help, that may be useful). 

The more chatty & fun a ride is, the less the participants tend to notice the physical effort they are putting into a ride. 

Being Chatty & Friendly helps their well-being, the physical effort ultimately helps their fitness. 


If you want to send in stories and images of what your local cycling group has been doing, please do so here and we will showcase more groups!