Get On Your Bike

Bicycles were quickly adopted after their introduction in the 19th century and today still remain as popular as ever, with more than a billion worldwide used for recreation, transportation and sport, writes Tracy Hargreaves

People have been riding bicycles to work since the initial bicycle heyday of the 1890s and the first documented cycling race was a 1,200-metre race held in May 1868 in Paris, which was actually won by an Englishman.

But bikes have come on a lot since then, technology has improved, designs have evolved and bikes are much lighter and with a bike to suit practically everyone, there’s no excuse not to give cycling a go.

Our success in cycling has grown year on year, with probably one of the best results for the UK in the Olympics last year and with home grown talent Bradley Wiggins on our doorstep, this will have spurred a lot of people on to take up the sport.  But it’s not always about racing and competition. For most people, it’s about getting outside in the fresh air and keeping fit.

So, when trying to decide on the best type of bike, think about these questions:
Who do you ride with? What do they ride? What have you had in the past that you liked? What have you had in the past that you disliked? What would you like to do with your new bike?

There’s road bikes; touring; trial; mountain bike; hybrid; BMX; tandem and tricycles.to name just a few. If you are buying a bike to ride with a group of friends, buy something similar to what they ride. You will not be able to keep up with road bikes if you are on a mountain bike or cruiser. And a road bike cannot go on the dirt or the sand.

If you enjoyed a three speed as a child, you may find this a fun bike again. If you disliked the road bike you bought a few years ago, perhaps a mountain bike would be better.

Sometimes cycling on your own is good, but a lot of the time being part of a cycling club is the best way to go riding. Not only is it a great way to meet like-minded people, but it’s a chance to find new places, you wouldn’t have found in a car.

There are plenty of clubs around to choose from and Visit Lancashire’s website www.cyclinglancashire.com  is the ideal place to get started to find local routes and where you can hire bikes.

British Cycling’s Let’s Ride, offers led rides at various levels from beginner upwards, including women only ‘Breeze’ rides.

There’s also the 21 mile “Greenway” that encircles the city of Preston. The Preston Guild Wheel, links the city to the countryside and is both a walking and cycling route. It has been a great addition to the city and has seen hundreds of families get on their bikes to cycle some, or all of the route.

Once such club which welcomes new members is Chorley Cycling Club. Chorley Cycling Club disbanded in the 1960’s and was re-formed in 2011 by a small team of friends. The club is now growing with up to 200 members and can be seen at races and time-trials across the northwest and beyond, as well as on its regular social and training rides around the Chorley area.

The club has teamed up with Chorley Council, Chorley Schools Sports Partnership and Chorley Athletic and Triathlon Club to offer regular training sessions for junior members. Coaching sessions take place every Tuesday at Astley Village.  The junior wing of Chorley Cycling Club is open to all juniors from eight or nine up to age 18, with its senior members anywhere up to 70 years of age.

Mark Sheffield is the club’s chair. He said “Our junior section is relatively new. At this time of year we run indoor sessions at a local primary school, but in spring we will move outside to places like Astley Park trying to keep to a traffic free environment.

“In the summer, we get together with Ribble Valley Juniors and use the facilities at UCLan sports arena between May and September. Then we will also organise a few family rides, week day evenings or Saturday mornings, where we might meet up in Whittle le Woods, cycle through Cuerden Park, Avenham Park and then onto the Guild Wheel.

“In terms of the senior side, there are lots of different rides for different levels. We start with the ‘intro’ which is aimed at people who haven’t cycled with a group before. Then there’s ‘progression’ which is slightly longer and faster and further levels on top. It’s just a great way to keep fit and enjoy a good social side too.”

With the government and local authorities investing more in cycle routes, cycling has become more popular than ever. On Saturday 15 April, the Chorley Grand Prix will return once more as Britain’s professional cyclists race off on a 116-mile course around the Chorley Borough.

To find out more about Chorley Cycling Club, visit its website www.chorleycyclingclub.com or its Facebook page.

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