It’s Bike Week! (Well nearly the end of now, but hey).
A week-long excuse to shout even more loudly on this blog or on my Insta, Twitter of FB page about how much I love cycling, and how you can too, if you’re wanting to start (or restart) but not sure how.
It’s a well-known fact* that cycling makes the world a better place. Not only is cycling great for your health, cutting the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer in half if done regularly; it’s also really good for the environment, reducing traffic and air pollution (which is now the world’s biggest killer, taking more years off your life than smoking!).
*source: Tess’ brain, and lots of science, innit.
You don’t have to be a lycra-clad, Strava-obsessed race fiend to enjoy riding your bike.
Cycling for transport is a great way to build physical activity into your daily life and it’s basically how I started.
Commuting by bike to work or around town is basically free exercise, and often quicker & much cheaper than driving or public transport. It’s the best way to wake up and you get to your destination invigorated from the fresh air, full of endorphins, more productive and focused throughout the day (well that’s what I find, anyway).
I took up cycling for transport once I grew out of cycling for play and stopped razzing round the BMX track as a kid. I had a bike to get to uni and work, and then when we moved to Brighton 10 years ago (best place ever, never leaving, THE END), I bought a hybrid before moving onto my first road bike to go on longer rides, and my love for the wheels blossomed from there.
Nowadays, alongside still using my bike to get *absolutely everywhere*, I’m rediscovering that playtime and childlike joy.
Thanks to my awesome cycling club Brighton Mitre and the #oneinamillion that is Alison Lewis making big scary things feel doable, I’m finding new ways to enjoy cycling, like Time Trial, and circuit racing (watch this space to see how I get on).
When I need a good dose of the green stuff I swap the road for the mountain bike to hit the singletrack both locally and further afield at the trail centres in Wales, or riding the South Downs for big, lovely, lung-busting climbs and miles and miles of wide open space.
And when I really want to treat myself, I take my wheels to the most blissful week in road cycling paradise, for an amazing cycling holiday in Spain!
I just love the freedom and joy that cycling brings me.
And I want to help others to feel that love too.
As I’ve mentioned previously here on my little corner of the internet, British Cycling’s goal of getting one million more women riding bikes by 2020 has been helped massively by its women’s ride initiative, Breeze.
Over 2,000 trained volunteer Breeze Champions lead fun and inclusive women-only rides across the country for more than 250,000 participants, and I’m proud to have recently trained to become one of them.
I’ve wanted to learn how to lead rides for a long time, but for one reason or another, not got round to it yet. I’m pretty good at that actually, not getting round to stuff, but I finally pulled my finger out and joined the British Cycling Course to earn my Level One Ride Leadership Award.
I’ve joined 10 other new Breeze Ride Leaders in Brighton and Sussex to help lead women-only cycle rides for all abilities and distances.
We’ve planned a brilliant programme of summer rides for all levels from absolute beginner right up to more confident riders building up to their first sportive or taking the next step to join a cycling club, with routes starting from just over three miles to 40.
Our This Girl Can beginner traffic-free rides will take you through beautiful woodland bridleways, on disused railways (Downs Link), on seafront cycle paths and quiet back roads, for women looking to get started with cycling.
The rides often have two or more qualified leaders, sometimes just one if a smaller group, and follow routes that are either traffic free or on quiet roads, always with a coffee and cake stop built in to bring a lovely social feel. The thing that’s kept me cycling and into any sort of fitness is the community and the friends I’ve made, and that’s what Breeze is all about too.
It’s not about riding fast, or getting dropped, smashing it up hills or gunning for those segments on Strava.
It’s all about those coffee stop chats, and first-time rides – the first time you ride 10 miles, conquering your first big hill, the first time you discover a new route that’s right on your doorstep, and the first time you meet your soon-to-be new friends.
Breeze is judgement-free, fully inclusive and welcoming for women of all ages and abilities. All you need is a bike – it doesn’t matter which kind – and the ability to ride.
Fellow Brighton Mitre member and newly qualified Breeze Champion Maria has also written a brilliant blog about why Breeze needs to exist and what’s made her want to become a leader.
We’d love you to come and join us on one of our upcoming rides – especially if you’re a beginner – check the This Girl Can Beginner rides labelled on the ride list below.
Take a look at the ride list (don’t forget to follow our Facebook page) and sign up for free at letsride.co.uk/breeze to join a ride (registration takes 2mins) 🙂
We've been busy creating more beginner / back on your bike / build your confidence Breeze rides!THIS GIRL CAN labelled…
Want to know more?
See a Breeze Ride in action and hear from participants in this video we made with Active Sussex & This Girl Can:
**HSBC Breeze Rides are run by British Cycling and take place all over the country. Visit www.letsride.co.uk/breeze to find your nearest ride and follow HSBC Breeze on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. (Don’t forget to search on social for your local pages too).
Have you heard of Breeze before?
And if you’ve been on a ride before, what reassurance can you give to newbies?