IT'S THE WEEKEND: The bikers who keep it social
11:10am Saturday 5th October 2013 in News
Newport Social Cycling club organiser John Wheat, with from left, Diane Potter, Sue Earnshaw, Trevor Strudwick, (ok), Vince Beacham and Carol Wright (1046442)
THE health benefits of cycling are well-documented and with it being one of the cheapest modes of transportation available, it is little wonder that so many people are taking up cycling as their latest hobby.
Cycling gives you a healthier heart and immune system, can help you lose weight, tones your muscles and can help reduce stress and anxiety.
But besides the benefits to your health, the environment and your wallet, cycling has an important social aspect to it, with leisurely rides for all the family being suited to chatting and enjoying scenery as you comfortably whizz past.
And with both historic landmarks and serene countryside within minutes of many of Gwent’s towns and city of Newport, it is an ideal place to explore on two wheels.
One of the more established groups, Newport Social Cycling Club, grew out of the Sky Ride Local initiative, in which Newport rider John Wheat trained to take people out on their bikes safely in groups.
As this drew to a close, he didn’t want the experience to go to waste, so using the contacts he’d already made he set up a social cycling group, which is neither a race, nor a league.
The group, which has now been established for one year, follows a number of different routes around the city and once a month will go to Cardiff, either to the bay or Castell Coch.
Catering for its 94 members aged eight to 80, the group goes out come rain or shine, and Mr Wheat, 46, has encouraged his family to come along too.
The rides turned out to be so popular that a new mid-week ride has now sprung up, catering for people who are able to go out during the week such as students or those who are retired.
Visit www.facebook.com/NewportCycling for details about joining.
Social cycling is now such a buzz word on the cycling scene that even established racing clubs are branching out, all in a bid to get more people out on two wheels.
Sue Hollin, ride leader with the Mon Wheelers ladies cycle ride, recently set up a free group just for women in Monmouthshire because the fast pace of a competitive or club-based ride can put some people off, she said.
Mrs Hollin, who has been riding for over three years, said the group can cater for a range of fitness levels and will follow the pace of the slowest rider.
A normal club route is 50 miles so Mrs Hollin picked a 25 mile route around Usk with no big hills for the group’s first outing – after all, it is a social ride, she said. Call Mrs Hollin for 07832 915442 for details on how to join.
There are now 654 social cycling groups established across the UK, taking keen amateur riders out on some 2,750 rides, as part of Sky Ride’s social cycling network, the biggest in the UK.
So what are you waiting for? Make the most of your free time at the weekends and get out and see Gwent on two wheels.
It is a fact that bikes can get stolen, but there is plenty you can do to make sure yours doesn’t become another statistic. Check out these security tips from Sky Ride for keeping your pride and joy safe.
Bring your bike indoors whenever possible, at home, store it in a shed, garage, or inside the house if you can. Many workplaces have dedicated bike shelters or storage rooms. If not, there are often unused spaces where you can park your bike safely, if you ask nicely.
Choose a safe place to lock up where it's well-lit and where it'll be constantly overlooked.
Lock it to something solid if you can't find a dedicated bike stand. When locking your bike up to bollards and signposts, make sure that the bike can't simply be lifted over the top.
Don't risk it: it might be tempting to just pop to the corner shop for a pint of milk and prop your bike, unlocked, outside the shop. But it only takes seconds to steal a bike.
Fold it up - compact folding bikes like Bromptons do away with the need to worry about bike theft. In most cases, you can just fold up your bike and carry it with you.
Buy the best bike lock you can afford and look for 'Sold Secure Gold' rating. You can also use two different types of bike lock, such as a heavy duty rigid 'D lock' to secure your bike to a stand, and then a chain lock to secure the wheel to the frame.
Remove or secure easily stolen parts and accessories, and be sure to get insurance.
* If you are just starting out, buying a bike can be a daunting prospect. Here is a beginner's guide from Sky Ride to the different types of bike on the market.
Road bikes are lightweight and usually have thin tyres and drop-handlebars. They are suited for speed and long rides on tarmac, but are not ideal for use off-road, and often lack the ability to add mudguards or a rack. Average cost is around £400.
The mountain bike is the most popular type of bike on the market because it can go anywhere, thanks to its strong frame and wheels, powerful brakes, knobbly tyres and wide range gearing. While slower than a road bike on tarmac, a mountain bike can be easily adapted for road duty by swapping to slick tyres. Starter mountain bikes begin appearing at around £250 to £300.
If you are pushed for space or would like to combine your cycling with other forms of transport, a folding bike could be ideal. They pack down small and will fit in car boots, on trains and under desks. Decent quality folding bikes begin at around £350, but cheap folding bikes are often poorly designed and poorly made.
Upright ‘Dutch’ bikes are perfect for popping out for flattish rides or on fairly short, sedate commutes. They are usually fitted with full mudguards and fully enclosed chains, making them perfect for anyone who wants to cycle in every-day clothes. Town bikes often come fitted with racks, dynamo lights and sometimes locks, making them complete, ready-to-roll packages for relaxed, short-hop town riding. Brakes and gears tend to be simple and enclosed, making for a low maintenance, reliable ride.
THE Argus has teamed up with Halfords, Newport to offer our readers the chance to win this fantastic BMX Trax Bike worth £79.98.
As part of the prize, the very helpful staff at Halfords have offered to assemble the bike for our lucky winner.
The Trax BMX Bike is the ideal entry level BMX bike with fantastic value for money.
Featuring a strong steel frame and powerful V-brakes, the Trax BMX is perfect for beginners and those new to BMX riding.
Equipped with alloy rims, the BMX has robust wheels for landing jumps and tricks when your riding becomes more advanced.
To be in with a chance of winning, just tell us which type of brakes are featured on the BMX Trax: a) E; b) T; or c) V.
Send your answer, name and address on a postcard to Halfords Competition, Editor’s PA, South Wales Argus, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP20 3QN or you can enter by text. Start your message with HALFORDS, leave a space and then send your answer, name, address and telephone contact details to 80360. Messages cost 50p plus your normal operator text charge.
Service provided by Newsquest Media Group.
Terms and Conditions at southwalesargus.co.uk/competitions, and all these conditions apply. Closing date: 20th October, 2013.
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