Sky Rides have been running around the country for several years, and this year Lincoln has (finally) joined in with a series of Sky Ride Local events for us to take part in. These are organised rides supported by British Cycling Ride Leaders. Some are just a handful of miles at a slow pace suitable for all ages, others are 30+ miles; all are social group rides designed to give you opportunity to get out on your bike with like minded people.
British Cycling and Sky have come together to get a million more people riding their bikes regularly – and everyone’s invited. Whatever your age or ability, and whatever kind of bike you ride, we’ve created a whole range of ways for you to get involved. From big traffic-free events in towns and cities, to local neighbourhood rides; from women-only bike rides and support, to routes and workshops; there’s something for everyone.
There have been several weeks of Lincoln Sky Ride Local events already but it wasn’t until last Sunday that I had the opportunity to take part in one (I really must stop filling up my diary so quickly!). I booked on the “Lincs Leafy Lanes” ride, a 32 mile ride starting from Newark Road and heading out into the Lincolnshire countryside.
Described as “challenging” due to the length of the ride I was actually quite nervous. Not least because I only have a mountain bike – I know I can lock out my suspension turning my hard tail into a rigid frame, but those wide grippy tyres and mountain bike gearing does make fast road biking harder work than it might be on a slim and light road bike. Thankfully when I arrived at Rustons (a nice three mile warm-up) I wasn’t the only one with a mountain bike; although I was unsurprisingly in the minority. Everyone seemed very friendly and once Brian, our Ride Leader, had gone through the briefing we got on with the business in hand.
It was just a couple of miles until we were well into Lincolnshire countryside; one of the reasons I love where I live. We headed out on mostly small windy lanes with very little traffic through Auborn, Haddinton, Swinderby, Brant Broughton (where we stopped at a pub for a decent length break), Stapleford, Bassingham, and Carlton-le-Moorland, although not necessarily in that order! As we rode along, we chatted about cycling and it was great to get to know my fellow riders and find out what motivates them to cycle. Everyone seemed to simply enjoy getting some exercise outdoors – most had done a Sky Ride Local earlier on in the season and all really appreciated that there were now rides like this one being organised in Lincoln.
As this was my longest ride for quite a few years my second main concern was whether I was fit enough. Thankfully “challenging” didn’t refer to the pace, which was a nice steady 11mph most of the time, up to around 14mph on occasion when the group collectively increased the revs (at which point I wasn’t quite as chatty!). After 30 miles 11mph does seem like quite a pace but my legs seemed to enjoy the consistent rhythm and the social aspect made the distance feel much less taxing than if I’d have attempted the route on my own. There is a culture of never leaving a rider behind and Brian and the two Assistant Ride Leaders asked regularly if everyone was ok; and I was rather chuffed with myself that I could always answer “yes”. The last couple of miles back into the city into a headwind did pretty much finish me off, but I still managed to cycle home afterwards making my total ride 38.7 miles – I earned my meal out that evening!
I am so pleased that I booked onto this ride – I thoroughly enjoyed the route, the challenge and the social aspect too. Brian, our Ride Leader, was knowledgeable and friendly, and it was lovely to be out riding with a group. I definitely recommend Sky Ride Local to everyone.
There are just a couple of weeks left of this year’s rides, so if you’re quick there is still time to get involved. I’ve signed up for the Breeze Sunday Brunch ride on Sunday morning, a 30 mile ride starting from the Angel Coffee House in the city centre and am looking forward it. Care to join me?
I really hope we see Sky Ride back in Lincoln next year, with even more rides of varying distance and maybe even one of those big city events I’ve seen in places like Newcastle and Leeds.