Co-ordinators: Phil Gordon and Peter Deaville
Meetings: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday from beginning of April to the end of October, various times and locations
The SL U3A Cycling Groups offer regular rides in and around the South Lakes and Eden, North Lancashire and Western Dales. Rides are of varying length and challenge as described below, exploring the quieter roads and lanes of our area.
We are definitely not Tour de France riders although we do offer strenuous rides as part of the programme. Rather, we offer what we call ‘social cycling’; enjoyable, inclusive and safe cycling, whatever bike you ride, with time for chat and refreshment stops.
The two Groups offer weekly rides in categories ranging from ‘gentle’ to ‘strenuous’. All are led by an experienced cyclist and new members are welcome. We can offer help and advice on any aspect of cycling - if that is what you need, do ask.
Our regulars ride a variety of bikes - some are still riding ones they had in their teens, and we have a fair sprinkling of the many types of bike (hybrids, e-bikes, tourers, road bikes).
The Cycling Group has the following structure:
GROUP 1 - Co-ordinator, Phil Gordon
Gentle Rides: 10 - 20 miles; mainly flat with few hills; leisurely pace (average 6 - 8 mph)
Casual Rides: 15 - 30 miles; more hills (some steep); steady pace (average 8 - 9 mph)
GROUP 2 - Co-ordinator, Peter Deaville
Moderate Rides: 25 - 40 miles; steeper hills; faster pace (average 9 - 10 mph)
Strenuous Rides 35 - 50 miles; longer and steeper hills; fast pace (average 10 -12 mph)
Whether you are an experienced cyclist or a newcomer to cycling, do join us. Send a message to Phil or Peter (using the messaging 'Eagle' at top right of this page) and sign up to one or both Groups. You’ll then receive news and details of rides. We look forward to hearing from you.
In 2020 the number of cycling groups increased from two to three. However, following a review of this year’s programme it became very clear that this structure had not achieved the aim of providing the range of rides we had hoped for. Of the 36 rides, 28 were in the moderate group and only 4 each in the gentle and strenuous groups. Hence the decision to revert to two groups.
Nearly half of cycling group members didn’t attend a ride this year and some members have only felt able to join a few rides. Although disappointing, it is likely to be mainly Covid-related and hopefully participation will increase in 2022.
E-bikes continue to increase in popularity. However, riding styles can differ from traditional bikes and so we are planning to offer an introductory ride aimed at cycling safely and enjoyably together. We are also planning some shorter ‘refresher’ ride to help people recover their fitness.
An unexpected and welcome side effect of the pandemic has been an explosion in cycling. If you thought you’d dust off that old bike that’s been rusting away in the shed and get it serviced, or you’d treat yourself to a new bike, you will have discovered that bike shops and suppliers have been overwhelmed over the last year and are only now beginning to catch up with demand.
There has also been a rapid expansion in the range of electric bikes (e-bikes) on sale, which have rapidly diversified from their rather heavy and clunky beginnings to now spanning the whole range of cycling activity. You can get electric folders, hybrid bikes, mountain bikes, tourers, road bikes, even e-tandems, and the better (if more expensive ones) are hard to distinguish from ordinary bikes.
For the uninitiated E-bikes, or more properly, electrically assisted bikes, have a re-chargeable battery powering a motor that is mid-mounted or in one of the wheel hubs. The rider can access the electric power only as whilst pedalling, hence “Assisted”. The degree of assistance is controlled by the rider, or it may be turned off completely, extending battery life at the expense of effort on the part of the rider. The motor only provides power at speeds below 15.5mph, above that and the rider ‘has to rely only on his own effort’. [Modern batteries are adequate for all but the most ambitious days out. And whilst e-bikes were initially a slightly awkwardly niche, for those who fancied cycling but didn’t feel they were fit enough, they have now been embraced enthusiastically by whole sections of the cycling community, with many experienced cyclists adding an e-bike to their collection for off-days, or post injury days, and, interestingly, some research suggests that e-bikers travel further on their outings than traditional cyclists, presumably because of the extra confidence the battery gives. There are E-Bikers in all three of our SLU3A groups.