Get Cycling Community Initiative
Gerard Northrup spent 30 years teaching cycle safety to school age children from all around the country, but when it came to retiring he didn’t quite feel ready to give up his old life as a teacher.
“Cycling is one of those fantastic past times that most people can continue throughout their later years, provided that they stay in good shape. It’s a hobby that has relatively few demands on the body, as long as you’ve got average mobility and access to a bicycle you’re good to go! When I retired from teaching last year, I didn’t ease into my new life of leisure easily. Although I certainly appreciated having plenty of spare time to go on longer rides, I missed the community nature of instructing large groups of people.”
Gerard started his Saturday morning cycle group after hearing about the success of Parkrun. This running initiative has introduced thousands of people to regular exercise and is known for motivating irregular exercisers into engaging in communal activity. Gerard wanted to create a small-scale cycling version of Parkrun which would give people of all ages the chance to cycle in a group and gain confidence in covering some real distance on bikes.
“Cycling in a large group can be so much fun and the community aspect can prove to be a huge motivational boost, especially for more secluded folks who don’t get out much. It doesn’t get talked about much, but the UK is currently dealing with a real obesity crisis that is threatening to cost the NHS (and the taxpayer by default) a fortune. For so many people, young and old, exercise is a chore that has no benefits, other than being ‘good for you’. I set up the cycling group to offer people in the local area the chance to get some regular exercise, fresh air and social time which should hopefully inspire them to get more active in their spare time.”
Since starting his community cycling group, Gerard has seen numbers grow from a humble handful to around 30 cyclists, all of whom vary widely in their skills and fitness. The routes that he plans wind through local parks, so all types of bike can enter and the pace is kept varied so everyone feels comfortable.