u3a - Cycling Spotlight - Yorkshire & the Humber

Beverley & District u3a - Recycled Group

by Helen Kitson, Group Member

The mental and physical benefits of cycling: fitness, fresh air, fellowship and fun, are well known. I’d like to highlight here some less obvious benefits which our members have enjoyed over the years. 

For some, recovery from their own or distraction from their partner’s serious illness has been an unforeseen bonus. The discovery of new interests has been another. Members have joined other u3a groups such as dancing or singing through the contacts they’ve made. We’ve developed new knowledge about the local area, its history, café culture, hidden stories and wildlife. We produce weekly reports, mostly brief but sometimes detailed and full of research and humour, with different members writing in their own style. One spin-off has been long-distance rides organised through a local company with discounts. We like to do special occasion rides too, to celebrate key anniversaries or events, such as the Tour de Yorkshire or Armistice Day.  

Hints for leaders? Our group was started by our first leader Dave Williamson, aka ‘Big Wheel’ in 2014, and he kept the rules simple: wear a helmet, bring a spare inner tube, and stop at regular intervals so no one gets left behind. We now have two groups, including an easy cycling group which does shorter 10-15-mile rides and the standard group which does from 25 upwards, progressing in distance as the summer wears on and people get fitter.  We now have plenty of e-bike riders. During Covid times we’ve operated on WhatsApp groups, an official one for organising rides and a separate social group for those who want to keep in touch and share cycling stories.   

Quotes from Recycled members: 

  • The benefits of cycling are, keeps you fit, good companionship, and finally getting out from under your partner's feet! Chris Sz
  • I've got lots out of the group, but in particular, the camaraderie and doing the C2C which was daunting for a newbie but most enjoyable and we got a free power shower in Sunderland, unfortunately, fully clothed!! Mark Nicholson
  • I joined the Recyclers soon after retirement. The hustle and bustle of a busy teacher’s life had gone and I found myself quite alone. The BR group was instantly welcoming and provided me with a group of chums who were just great fun. Getting to know different people was refreshing and interesting. I looked forward to our Friday jaunts with relish with the high point for me completing the Coast to Coast run from Whitehaven to a rather damp and bleak Sunderland. Whilst the pandemic may have disrupted things temporarily there is always someone who responds to the call, ‘weather looks nice, anyone up for a ride?’ John Mather
  • I would like to say that it’s a very good way for anyone coming into the area to get to know the ‘locals’ in every sense of the word, the people and the area. I wouldn’t have found half the number of places (feeding stations) by myself, the villages and hamlets are lovely as well. And to top it all the ‘Recycling’ members are a very welcoming group of people. Paul Sears
  • Having worked with mainly ladies, the male camaraderie has been my memorable gain from the Recyclers together with the nicknames created to distinguish various members. Ladies have come and gone but the stalwart Helen rides on and on when not breaking wrists, ribs or any other bodily parts and it’s good that Big Wheel’s daughter Jane now regularly rides shotgun to Helen. A great bunch of like-minded individuals provide the fun and friendship like no others. Chocks away Ginger! John Boddice
  • A reason to get up in the morning, meeting up with fellow re-cyclists, looking at their faces and seeing the happiness that we all feel and at the end of the ride, feeling tired and pleased and thinking, now, that was a GOOD day! John Kilner
  • Exercise in the fresh air is, without doubt, beneficial for our physical well-being but more important than that is the camaraderie and friendships which are vitally important for our mental well-being. A win, win situation obtained with just a little effort. Wonderful. Derek Clark

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!