According to Cycling UK, over 10 million people get on their bike at least once a week – and the figures are growing, as we turn to pedalling for fun, health, exercise and even commuting to work or school.
If you’re tempted to dig out the lycra, we got the lowdown from Heidi Hammond, secretary of Hythe Cycling Club, and husband Trevor. Trevor got into cycling when football got a bit hard on his legs, and Heidi refused to be the cycling equivalent of a ‘golf widow’. Both used to cycle to and from work in New Romney and Dungeness from their home in Dymchurch.
Heidi was one of the founding members of Hythe Cycling Club, back in 2015, and they now have around 85 members a year, ranging in age from early 20s to riders in their mid 70s!
“We wanted to provide a group which caters to all abilities, and provide a way for people to get on their bikes with other like-minded riders and explore our wonderful area. With the flat – but usually windy! – Romney Marsh and the rolling hills and Downs behind and beyond, we can tailor each route to suit the wind and weather conditions and the fitness and appetite for a challenge of the various riders.
“We plan so that quieter roads and lanes make up the majority of each ride, passing through the beautiful and ever-changing Kent countryside.
“And, because we start and finish our rides at the Hythe & Saltwood Sailing Club, we all enjoy the post-ride refreshments from Loaf by the Sea, and catching up post-ride on the club deck!” Heidi says.
“We go out every Sunday morning, unless the weather is positively Biblical or it’s too icy, and we try to make sure we’ve got a tail wind to take us home… Group sizes are usually around six to eight people, for safety reasons, and depending on the group we’ll do between 35 and 50 miles a time.”
ALL THE GEAR, GREAT IDEA
We asked what you need to join in. “Most people have a lightweight road bike with drop handlebars. A helmet and hi-vis are essential of course, and lycra clothing does tend to be the most comfortable” Trevor says. “But for new members, and those just starting their cycling adventure, as long as the safety elements are in place, you can build up as you get more experienced. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get started, you can just jump on your bike and enjoy the ride!”
Groups are categorised as Steady, Intermediate, Intermediate Fast, and Fast, so riders can be sure they’ll be with people at a similar level. In the summer, the Club runs Introduction rides, and some for women only under British Cycling’s BREEZE programme.
“Riding in a group is a special technique” Trevor explains, “and it’s much easier to learn from other experienced riders. We’re very welcoming, not in the least intimidating, and for newbies there’s always someone who will help them out with hints and tips.
“Some people really get into the technical aspects of cycling and the bikes themselves, whereas others see the bike as a tool to get where they want to or do what they want to do.
“That’s the thing about cycling – it’s whatever you make of it!”
Membership of Hythe Cycling Club is £20 for adults, free for under 21s, and a family membership (two adults and one or more under 21s) is £35. Membership entitles you to join as many Club rides as you like, and also includes corporate membership of Hythe & Saltwood Sailing Club – a great bonus for many! “Lots of the Sailing Club members have joined us too” says Heidi, “so there’s a great camaraderie here.”
For more information, check out www.hythecyclingclub.org.uk.
To find other cycling clubs in our area, visit www.britishcycling.org.uk/clubfinder.