If you’ve been on a club ride at any point over the last 12 months, the chances are that you’ve met Steve. Here’s his account of his first year with the Club.
As Christmas 2016 was approaching I decided that a new hobby was needed for the following year, with the aim of improving my fitness – due to the fact that I was 50plus – and to give myself another social outlet. As I’ve ridden bikes all my life and enjoyed being out in the fresh air, I thought cycling would be a good choice.
I looked on the internet for mountain bike clubs in Swindon and immediately found details for MB Swindon. Over the next couple of evenings I read everything on the club web page, from FAQ’s to ride reports and decided that this was exactly what I was looking for. Given my age, I was worried that I may not be able to keep up, so I emailed to ask if it was OK if I came along for a trial ride and was told I would be very welcome.
There was a urban ride scheduled at the end of January on the Wednesday evening, riders to meet by the bike racks in John Lewis’s car park… so off I pedalled. When I arrived there were two members already there who made me feel very welcome and around ten riders in total left the car park at 7pm sharp.
About 35 minutes into the ride, I had a mechanical breakdown. OK – my pedal fell off, which was rather embarrassing, so I said farewell and limped home. I decided to join the club the day after and with my pedal repaired I went along to the next Wednesday urban ride, which was leaving this time from Covingham shops, so I drove over to meet everyone again.
I made it from start to finish but, to be honest, by the time we arrived back to the shops I was suffering from very very tired legs. But, with the encouragement from the other members, I had made it. From then on I made it to as many of the Wednesday rides as I possibly could. Although I felt I was relatively healthy, I was obviously lacking stamina but this improved slightly every time I went out. The secret was, and is, to just keep going.
Steve (yellow jacket) braves one of the coldest rides of the year.
The clocks went forward In March and we then took to the Ridgeway on the Wednesday evening rides. The ride leaders would take us to places that I never knew existed and, as someone born in Swindon, I realised what I had been missing all these years. The scenery is stunning and so are the sunsets that we saw during the summer. There couldn’t be anything nicer than doing something you enjoy, getting fitter and riding in such a lovely part of the countryside, and all with friendly, like-minded riders.
A new bike was needed, I thought, so after a considerable time trying to decide what to buy a new hard tail was bought. I also bought some new clothes and padded shorts which are a must!
Over the rest of the year, I’d look forward to the Wednesday evening rides and slowly my stamina improved until I decided I would be able to manage a few weekend rides too.
I realised that there was such a mixture of abilities and age ranges in the club that I would never be stuck at the back by myself and the club always says nobody will be left behind. I went on the Source of the Thames Ride and Micky’s Ramsbury Cafe Ride, which was a good one as we had a stop for a cup of tea and a piece of cake half way round. I did Tom’s Wantage Cafe Ride – another favourite – and many more. Notice a trend going on here!
With my fitness levels improving I decided to venture further, and in October I did a ride with club in Brecon and November in Monmouth, taking in the Wye valley. All proper mountain biking and great scenery with a bit of mud and a few falls thrown in, but all good fun.
The clocks went back in October, so it was back to the urban rides for November and December with some weekend rides as well, weather permitting. Now I find myself riding over to all of the urban ride meeting points instead of driving, so an obvious improvement there. I am never going to be the fastest rider, but my goal was to keep up and now I am acheiving that.
One year on I have just renewed my membership and am looking forward to the summer ahead – getting back to those glorious evenings up on the Ridgeway and doing a few weekend rides. I have even signed up for my first charity ride with some other club members in May – The Wild Boar in the Forest of Dean which is 46 miles in length – so I hope my legs will last out. Did I say I have also bought another bike? Yes, full suspension this time for that extra bit of comfort! Not planning to buy any more for a while now!
So come on and give it a try. There are rides for everyone – even ladies-only rides – and you will be very welcome on whatever ride you choose linked to your own ability.