Annette Pattinson is encouraging women to join the JoyRiders cycling group, which runs women-only cycle rides and has just celebrated its first anniversary.
In May, JoyRiders Oxford celebrated its first year of running free, women-only group cycle rides led by trained female volunteers.
In that time, we ran 33 rides in and around Oxford with 50 individual participants.
Our rides usually start in a community location outside the city centre and head into central Oxford or towards a neighbouring area or nearby green space.
We choose quiet routes, connecting up quiet roads, shared paths and cycle paths where they exist. Sometimes we start in the city centre and do a ‘relay’ to a nearby town - recently Abingdon, Kidlington and Yarnton, for example - meeting local riders there who cycle back the other way with us.
Our Beginner+ rides are perfect if you’ve recently started riding or are returning after a break and want to build your confidence.
We ride for 30-45 minutes, stop for a refreshment break and then pedal back to the start.
We ride at a steady pace - newcomers are always welcome and no-one will be left behind!
The rides are at weekends and in the lighter spring and summer months we also run shorter Twilight rides on weekday evenings.
Our riders are motivated to join us for their own individual reasons, whether it’s for fun, health or everyday journeys. Sometimes it’s the social aspects as much as cycling itself. Although a cycle gets you from A to B, actually it does a lot more than that: it connects you to your immediate surroundings and local area as well as other people.
Having met for the first time, riders from different parts of the city have realised they actually grew up just around the corner from each other or went to the same school. Recently, two riders recognised each other from when they were in neighbouring beds on the maternity ward. Their children are now doing their GCSEs!
In addition to joining rides just for fun, some riders have a specific goal they want to achieve by cycling, such as taking their children to school or riding to work. If that’s you, we can help you find a route you like, offer advice on carrying things on your bike, dealing with a flat tyre, locking your bike securely and other practical questions, or point you in the right direction to find out more.
If you don’t ride a bike yet, you’re in good company - lots of adults are keen to learn to ride, often so that they can ride with their children.
We can put you in touch with cycling groups and projects around the city where you can learn.
Once you’ve started on your cycling journey, it’s amazing how quickly you can find your way around on a cycle. With a few key routes up your sleeve you can soon get where you want to go and get other benefits along the way.
It’s a great way to explore your city and find green spaces on your doorstep you didn’t know were so close or easy to reach.
After joining a ride in your local area, you’ll soon be able to join rides from the city centre and elsewhere.
A year into our rides, we’re proud that some of our regular riders have decided to train as ride leaders to support other local women to gain confidence on their bikes and discover the same fun and freedom their bikes have given them.
To look out for rides near you, follow “JoyRiders Oxford” on Eventbrite.
To contact us about starting a ride from your community or organisation, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.
Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.email@example.com
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