u3a - Cycling Spotlight - South East

Bognor Regis - Wednesday Cycling Group

Bognor Regis u3a - Wednesday Cycling Group

by Jill Wellman, Group Leader

The Joy of Cycling  

It’s late April 2021 and we’re cycling in the woods near Angmering.  The trees are a fresh green and there are bluebells in the undergrowth. Two ladies push their electric bikes over the rough path, one of whom is taking care of a very new hip. The rest of us, a mixture of conventional and electric bikes, pedal slowly on and wait at the top for the walkers to catch up. Then we turn the corner and there it is, a carpet of bluebells as far as the eye can see, making our exertions so worthwhile. Mobiles out for photos. Then it’s down into Arundel for a coffee and maybe a bacon sandwich. We’re outside in the increasing drizzle, but we can’t miss a chance to chat and everyone has some protection with hi-viz waterproofs and helmets. Fully refreshed we part to cycle home with shouts of ‘See you next Wednesday’.This is the Bognor Regis U3A Social Cycling group - well, one of them.   

This Wednesday group has weekly rides, usually 15-25 miles, always with a refreshments break, never racing, as far as possible on cycle paths and quiet roads, often making use of the train to get us to a starting point. Not forgetting the wonderful annual week-long trips to France organised by Val & Chris, and shorter cycling trips away to places like Cambridge, the New Forest and Glastonbury.  Watch this short video clip taken on a trip to France; note the blissful lack of traffic: 

 We have found that up to 15 cyclists is a comfortable number on any ride. But after seven years there were just too many cyclists wanting to enjoy the fun, sense of achievement and increased fitness that comes with cycling in a group.

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Enter Bob. He is 92 (yes, 92!), and within a few weeks of joining BR u3a he and his partner had founded a Friday cycling group for those wanting shorter or more local rides. Bob knows the area well, having lived here for many years, so was an ideal candidate to lead bike rides and an inspiration to those of us only in our 70’s. Already the Friday group has around 12 members.   

On a practical note, both groups cycle all year round, although bad weather may scupper the occasional ride. We always have a leader to show the way and a back-marker to make sure no-one gets left behind. For the longer rides, there may be optional starting points so that participants can adjust the distance to suit themselves. Ideas for routes come from various sources, including members themselves, websites, books, OS maps.   

In the words of a few group members:

    • "I really appreciate being part of a cycling group as I love cycling but it is much more fun with other people and lovely to include coffee and cake and growing friendships."
    • "A great way to meet and make new friends and discover new areas."

 

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Bognor Regis - Friday Cycling Group

Bognor Regis u3a - Friday Cycling Group

by Carol Anderson, Group Leader

I had been cycling with the Wednesday cycle group organised by Jill Wellman, Val and Chris Cooper for a considerable time. We were full and unable to accept new members. We also realised there were u3a members who would like to cycle shorter rides until their confidence grew. Jill was keen to start a Friday group but hadn't the time to organise more rides. Bob knew the area well, having lived here for 55 years. He wasn't a member so joined u3a in September and started the group a month later. We started with around 6 or 7 members and gradually increased to 12 to 13 before this topsy turvy world took over. We did continue a little when we were allowed out in groups of 6.

I read in TAM magazine that one member started a walking group within 6 months of joining when she was 65. I wrote that this was nothing like Bob's achievement who started the cycling group aged 90 only a month after joining Bognor u3a! Joanne, the editor wrote that she was very impressed and would like to interview Bob for the next magazine. Unfortunately, a guy named Tim Peake stole his spot as he'd evidently popped into space and caused a bit of a commotion! Bob still had his picture in the winter magazine and, with everyone in lockdown and nothing else to read, he received phone calls from people who saw it from far and wide!

We can't wait to resume cycling again and if anyone feels they would like to join us, we would love to hear from them.

Here are some pictures that we've taken on our rides. The penny farthing one isn't the bike Bob rides!

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The one with masks just made me laugh as it showed the strange times we were living in before the further lockdown.

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As all cyclists know, no ride is complete without a coffee and cake (or even a bacon sandwich!).

All the very best to all our group who are just as fed up with lockdown as we are. See you very soon!

Haslemere

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Haslemere u3a - Cycling for Fun

by Judith Forde, Group Leader

The Cycling for Fun Group was formed in January 2019 – aah, those carefree days!  We have 23 members with varying types of bikes – road, hybrid and e-bikes. Meeting on the 2nd Tuesday and 4th Thursday of each month we have a mixture of rides from 12 – 25 miles with a coffee stop to chat and sample the sausage rolls. Members are encouraged to lead rides when they feel confident enough and will be supported by the group leader to achieve this. This year we have had some lovely rides through beautiful countryside and quiet country lanes. We even visited the seaside, driving to Langstone Harbour to cycle around the harbour, and starting at Rowlands Castle to cycle to Bosham. During the Covid restrictions, we followed the advice of British Cycling and managed to “field” two groups of 6 on our outings during the two lockdowns. It was so good to be able to get out and keep cycling through those times.  

We look forward to another great cycling year in 2021 and welcome new members.  

JudithFordeSEHaslemereHambledonCafe

Arun East

Arun East Cycling Group

By Marion Kinshuck, Group Leader

Arun East u3a Cycling group meets every Friday. We are based on the West Sussex coast close to the glorious South Downs, and many of our members move to the area on retirement. Riding with the group is a great way for new residents to learn about the area and its hidden treasures.

Our members have a broad range of previous cycling experience, but we all share a love for exploring the area where we live (and its many cafes and watering holes) on our bikes. Members ride all sorts of bikes from high spec road bikes to shoppers, some of them powered by electricity, and there are members who sport Lycra, although that is not essential.

Our rides range in distance from about fifteen to thirty miles, and we try to accommodate those members who want a shorter ride by meeting them along the way; allowing them to only ride part of the route. We try to keep to minor roads or off-road cycle routes, although sometimes we can't avoid a short distance on busier roads. Hills are the other big issue for cyclists, and although we don't avoid them entirely, hill climbs are not the reason we ride. When we hit is a hill there is always the option to get off and walk.

We try to keep the organisation of rides fairly informal, with members taking it in turns to lead rides, although it is not compulsory to lead. If you are setting up a new group remember that you don't have to come up with a new route every week. The scenery on a route varies throughout the year so a route that was ridden in the autumn will look very different when ridden again in the summer. Routes also change if you ride them in reverse, a clockwise circular route is a completely different experience when ridden anti-clockwise! All this means that, if you want, you can repeat routes on a three-monthly rotation. In our group's experience, doing this means that members are willing to volunteer to organise a ride, as they don't have to start from scratch, but can lead a ride along a route that they enjoyed previously.

Cycling in a u3a group is a great way to explore an area, make new friends and keep fit. When you are out cycling with friends there really is “gain” without “pain”, you will be so busy chatting that you will just rack up the miles. Why not give it a try!


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Taken on a Bognor Regis Friday Group excursion

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!