Cycling is one of the easiest ways to exercise and stay healthy, and you can do it almost anywhere, too. That’s why we’re celebrating Bike Week, to inspire you to get outside and on your bikes to #GetThatFeeling this summer!
So, what is Bike Week?
Bike Week is an annual UK-wide event to promote cycling, showing people how they can add cycling to their day to day routines. Cycling has absolutely loads of social, health and environmental benefits, so it’s a great chance to encourage people to put on a helmet and cycle to school, to work, or just get out there and have fun on two wheels.
We’ve spoken with some newly-converted cyclists and some seasoned riders to find out what inspired them to start riding in the first place. We wanted to know why cycling is such an important part of their lives and why they enjoy it so much!
First up is Yvonne, mum and fledgling urban cyclist who works as nurse for the NHS.
Yvonne’s Cycling Story:
“I always loved cycling as a kid, but like many women I stopped as a teenager as I was worried about my image and what my peer group might think of me. When we were buying my daughter’s first bike I spent ages looking at the women’s models too. My husband noticed and bought me my own new bike – the first in 25 years!”
“I was delighted and petrified all at once! I got my friend to take it home in their car as I was too scared to ride it home. After some wobbles around the park and some beginner’s rides with our local cycling group, I was hooked all over again! I realised that I needed to be a good role model to my daughter and show her why cycling was so great.”
“Cycling puts a smile on my face! I find that living in an urban area it is often easier and quicker to get around by riding through lovely parks and quieter cycle paths. Cycling can be whatever you want to be as well: a fitness challenge, a relaxing way to socialise, a shopping trip, and even the way you commute to work. You can’t say that about many other things!”
Next meet Riyad, a well-travelled cyclist and blogger at FitTechnica
Riyad’s Cycling Story:
“While many will describe cycling as an obsession, I believe that for me it’s more of a passion. It’s that passion that cyclists find almost impossible to subdue, and is often highlighted by their sheer incredulity at anyone who chooses not to ride a bicycle!”
“I’ve cycled all over the world. I’ve ridden through the barren wastelands of Slick Rock in Moab and the lush green mountains of Coed-y-Brenin in Wales. I’ve followed on the wheels of Le Tour up to the ski resort of Courchevel, and journeyed from Sydney to the beaches of Wollongong. Each and every one of those rides was special in its own way, but then again, every single bicycle ride is.”
“It doesn’t always need to be about the challenge. Sometimes it’s just about enjoying the ride and seeing the world fly past you with nothing but the strength in your own body driving you along. Sometimes it’s just pure, emotional joy.”
“The benefits of cycling go far beyond those I’ve touched upon here. When I’m riding I leave all the stresses and worries of my life behind me. I cycle because it’s part of who I am, and I hope it always will be.”
Next up is Jules, an avid mountain biker, mum and school teacher. She’s a British Cycling Breeze Champion and encourages women to join in on one of the weekly organised ride-along events around the UK.
Jules’ Cycling Story:
“I’ve been cycling since I was a child as it was a means of getting around before I could drive, but when I left school I stopped. I got back into it again as an adult when a friend introduced me to mountain biking.”
“I enjoy a challenge, and mountain biking can be a mental as well as a physical one as I am constantly having to think about how I’ll ride or conquer the trail.”
“Now, mountain biking is my favourite form of cycling. I have to concentrate so much on the bike when riding that I forget about any worries I have and just get away from it all. I’m very lucky as I live in Cumbria and I’m able to ride in stunning countryside, too. I also enjoy cycling on the road as it can be sociable and a fun way to spend a few hours.”
Next meet Andreas, blogger and commuter cyclist at LondonCyclist
Andreas’ Cycling Story:
“When I first moved to London I looked up my journey in to work on TfL’s route planner. At the time there were no cycling directions and I assumed that the tube or the bus was the way to go. I did the journey for a week or so and realised this wasn’t going to be for me. I bought a cheap second hand bike and a D-lock and started riding in to work. It took less time, saved me money and I got in to work feeling energised. I never looked back!”
“I’m not a big fan of being bound to timetables and I like arriving at my destination and parking my bike exactly outside. It’s a really nice way to see more of London. For short journeys I’ll always favour my bike.”
Next on our list are Shell and Gav, proud parents, cyclists and founders of GetOutWithTheKids.co.uk
Shell and Gav’s Cycling Story:
“Gav started cycling from a young age. It was a way to explore and grow independence. This grew into a passion for both mountain biking and road racing.”
“As a family we cycle when we can. Cycling as a family is a bit different as you have to accommodate everyone’s abilities and speed. Child seats and tag-alongs are great, but the real fun comes when your kids can ride on their own.”
“We avoid the roads when possible and stick to traffic-free routes. Long and scenic cycle routes such as the Monsal Trail in the Peak District are excellent for families. It’s also good fun taking the older children on the local mountain biking tracks and seeing them learn both new skills and gain confidence in their bike handling abilities.”
Finally, we have Alison Lewis, Breeze Champion and volunteer. She also organizes local rides in Brighton from her blog.
Alison’s Cycling Story:
“I’ve cycled on and off ever since learning to ride as a teenager so that I could cycle to school (back in the 1970s). My current obsession with cycling started in 2011. A friend came off her bike badly whilst out on a ride with me, and I got to thinking that I probably could have prevented it as I was the more confident rider.”
“I took myself through the training to be a National Standards Instructor with Bikeability, and then looked around for ways to use it as I didn’t want to do it as a full-time job. I started coaching at a local youth cycle club where was trained as a Breeze Champion and then it all grew from there.”
“I love being outdoors in the fresh air and noticing the seasons change. I also enjoy discovering new places on a bike, whether it’s towns and cities I‘ve not visited before or quiet unspoilt bridleways far away from traffic and noise.”
“My passion to encourage more women to get on bikes has raised my profile locally, as I lead lots of Breeze rides and free coaching sessions. I get a real buzz from seeing women increase their skills and grow in confidence on their bikes. Just last Sunday we had 15 local Breeze participants taking part in their first ever sportive – many did the 20 mile option, some the 40 miles, and a few rode 68 miles.”
If you’ve been inspired by any of our cyclists, why not find out about local facilities, rides and events in your area? For more information, visit the British Cycling website. This is where you’ll find up-to-date news about Breeze and how you can take part, either as a volunteer or just for the ride! There are over a thousand female volunteers throughout the UK organising free local bike rides, helping to get women from of backgrounds to take up cycling.
Remember, Breeze rides wouldn’t be here today without the passionate dedication of volunteers. Get involved and see how you can make a difference to your life and the lives of others by cycling today. You can find out more about Breeze Rides over on the British Cycling website or with GoSkyRide.