By Lena Austen
I first heard about Breeze Rides about 7 years ago when I saw a small poster in a bike shop in Sussex. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but followed the link on the poster and booked my first ride. When I turned up at the designated car park I met my 2 leaders and several other women; some had ridden with groups before, others were local park riders, but the range of experience in the group was never a problem...
I was on my trusty mountain bike, knobbly tyres, rack and two panniers, another rider was on a very sleek carbon road bike (a Cube, white with pink bar tape, cos I know you’re wondering), and the other bikes fitted somewhere in between, but it didn’t matter because this ride was a short “getting used to group riding” ride and the description had said all types of bike would be suitable for the ride.
Riders were of all ages, sizes and levels of fitness, and (as is often the case!) there was no correlation between value of bike and skill of rider, but we all managed the 13 country miles to our tea stop. New to Breeze? Please note, the tea stop is a core part of Breeze rides; it is usually just after halfway round so that your second “half” is shorter, you get to warm up or cool down (depending on the weather) and you get cake. But better still, you have the chance to share experiences with the other riders and to get advice from the leaders about events, bikes, clothing, riding tips, and to have a laugh – these are very social rides. Refreshed, we completed our circular ride.
Since then I have met some of those riders many times, and scores of new riders too. I have ridden on road bike-only rides through the Surrey Hills, MTB trails along the Arun and through Ashdown Forest, and indeed returned to that original route for solo training rides. For a snapshot of what is available, in January I did a 16 mile MTB ride in Sussex, a 28 mile road ride in SW London, a 25 mile ride to Shepperton, 25 miles to Ockham and 50 miles to Shere. I searched for these rides based on distance from my home postcode, and went with 4 different groups, 4 different leaders, each of whom was an enthusiast who volunteers because she wants to make cycling accessible, wants to help you try something new or build on your experience. Fast or slow, long or short distances, I think there is a ride for everyone – why not try it?
Here is the link to get started: www.letsride.co.uk/breeze. It takes a moment to register, you can search by postcode for rides near you, and it’s all free.