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!). 

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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. 

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