u3a - Cycling Spotlight - South West

Wells u3a - Cycling Groups

by John Wheat, Group Leader

Wells u3a has two cycling groups – one which doesn’t shy away from hills and offers rides typically of thirty miles or more. The second ‘Easy Cycle Ride’ group provides for novices and the more ageing members who prefer a shorter ride (around 20 miles), avoiding most of the hills and led at a gentler pace. In both cases minor lanes are chosen with as little traffic as possible and, if available, cycle tracks are used. In the Wells area, there are a number of disused railway lines which have been converted into cycle/pedestrian tracks. E-bikes are welcome in either group. 

The rides of both groups almost always include a coffee stop and a lunch stop at either a pub or a café. However, during the current Covid restrictions we have found either a takeaway café that provides outdoor seating or a secluded spot for a picnic. Details of the ride are emailed to members as an invitation to participate. 

If all our rides started from Wells we would have a considerable amount of repetition – to the point of rides becoming boring. So, probably only a quarter of rides start on home territory and the rest are with car assistance to a starting point some miles away. This does mean that members have to be able to transport their bikes by car/van or share transport – but there is rarely a problem in this respect. 

In pre-Covid times we typically had about eight riders and the maximum for any one ride was about fifteen. We are aware of the difficulty motorists find in overtaking large groups, together with their frustration and ultimate dangerous driving as a result. We, therefore, ask our members to split up into lesser groups of, say, four riders when traffic conditions require it. We discourage cycling two abreast when that would unreasonably obstruct the passage of motorists.  

A back-marker with knowledge of the route should be appointed. This is particularly important for a large group. Alternatively, a small group can be managed by the leader doing a head count at each point where there is a change in direction. Leaders should carry a mobile phone with an emergency contact list for all riders. 

Under Covid restrictions, we are limited to groups of six cyclists so members must declare their agreement to the risk assessment together with their wish to join the ride. If more than six wish to ride, we inform the applicant that he/she will be riding either in the first group of six or the second which will leave a quarter of an hour later with a second leader. Twelve riders is the limit for Covid rules. 

Finally, cycling is definitely good for one’s health both physically and mentally! 

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!