Have you been on a bike since you left school? Do you remember the freedom and sense of adventure riding a bike can give you?
A while ago, I took a friend out for a ride at Haldon Forest Park, near Exeter. She hadn't been on a bike since she was at university, and wanted to get a bit fitter and lose some weight.
Haldon is a great place to get back on a bike after a long absence. The trails are purpose made. They are graded by difficulty, so you shouldn't find yourself faced with anything that is too difficult for you (skiers among you will recognise the system. Green is easy, and suitable for beginners; blue is moderate - for those with basic off road riding skills; you need to be proficient to graduate to red, and prepare to be scared on the blacks).
I took Vanessa on the green trail where she started off a bit wobbly and quickly gained confidence, then onto the easier of the two blue trails. Half way round she was laughing with joy. In her email to me afterwards she said: "thank you for such a great time! I'm still feeling the after effects in my bum, but my goodness, that was terrific fun".
That afternoon with Vanessa planted the seed of an idea in my head. I know that there is something really special about cycling, but there are also lots of barriers to getting back on a bike. Especially for those of us who are getting a bit older! Traffic is a big barrier. Having the kit is another. Worries about cost of buying a bike a third. And it's always more difficult to find the motivation when it's just you, on your own.
So I've put together a new weekly ride for people who'd like to get back on a bike, but are struggling to get started. It's called Bike Yourself Fit. It is aimed at women of a certain age. There will be a regular group ride every Tuesday at 10am, at Haldon Forest Park, where there's a very nice cafe if anyone wants to sit down for a coffee and chat after the ride. If you haven't got a bike, there's a friendly bike hire place on site and they also provide helmets. There's a maximum of eight places per ride.
I hope that some people may want to progress to try the more difficult trails, in which case I'll start a second group for the more adventurous. But there will not be any pressure to do so. After all, what's not to like about a gentle social ride once a week. It's a great way to discover the joy of cycling.
Bike Yourself Fit starts on Tuesday 15 May 2018 at 10am. Prices are on the website. Please share this blog if you know of anyone who may be interested, and do get in touch if you want to find out more, or to book your place.