PEDAL POWER AROUND PETERBOROUGH BYWAYS
On a typical summers day for 2016 – overcast and threatening rain – the Cycling on Wednesday group gathered at the Peterborough Lido in Bishops Road to have a pleasant morning cycling the paths and cycle ways of Peterborough aiming for a nice tea break at the halfway stage at Hill Farm in Alwalton.
The turnout was very good with 18 of the regulars plus an out of condition Roving Reporter.
Jean Stamford, the group leader, with an eye for safety, made a list of each of the attendees so that all the way through the ride, should anyone go missing, there was a reference to check back on. One of the tenets of the group reflects that of the Marines – “We never leave anyone behind”, which gave this reporter a little more confidence.
Those in attendance on this day were Jean, Peter, Brian P, Elvin, Peter D, Jeremy, Adrian, Hazel, Barrie, Frances, Beryl, Lynn, Matt, Dave, Brian S, Bob, John H and Frank. As you can see from that list the group more than covered the split in gender, and the age ranges ran from what appeared to be fairly young retirees through to some that had more practice in the retirement game – I wasn’t indelicate enough to ask for ages as well J.
There was a mixture of fairly standard exercise clothing right through to a few lycra clad limbs – however the reporter was probably the least sartorially prepared, turning up in just jeans and a T-shirt. I was also struck by the fact that every rider had a cycle helmet on, much to my shame as I don’t possess one. Whilst it isn’t compulsory to wear a helmet the group do take safety as a serious topic and even though I wasn’t made to feel uncomfortable for not wearing one I must point out that I came to the conclusion that my rebellious nature wasn’t perhaps a way to go these days – anyone can fall off a pushbike, and that fall could seriously dent your cranium. The types of cycle steeds on display ranged from lady’s shopper bikes through to good old drop handlebar bikes, taking in various styles of mountain bike types in between.
We set off at 10 sharp taking to the cycle paths alongside the River Nene and then swinging away to the North West towards Bretton. We had to cross a couple of roads, but in the main stuck to cycle paths. Not being a local lad for very long I spent a fair bit of time thinking “Where the heck are we”, but even when I dropped back a couple of times there was always someone who eased back with me so I wasn’t left to drift off on my own, so getting lost wasn’t an option. A sudden realisation of where we were hit as we passed the Fitzwilliam Hospital in Bretton, so I was orientated again. By this time we had covered about 4 miles at a reasonable pace – the group aren’t road-racers, but they keep up a decent speed of about 8 – 10 MPH, but with brief stops at major changes of direction in the route.
By the time Bretton had swung into view the odd spot of rain had become a fairly persistent drizzle and the lack of appropriate clothing was starting to become a problem for the reporter with jeans that started to feel more than a little damp, but the others simply donned a waterproof jacket, or in Elvin’s case a full cape that covered everything – if you had a paper-round in the 60s you know the cape I speak of – it covered you and the papers and the bike – clever Elvin J. Me – I put on my pac-a-mac and pressed on.
The regulars must have started to get the impression that their “new boy” was beginning to flag and I had a regular turn-over of company all chatting about their exploits on the bikes both within and outside of the group. Tales of daring-do taking part in charity rides and stories of how the group all watch out for one another both within the rides and also away from the group. The general impression of the group was that they were a caring bunch of people who enjoyed a weekly pedal around the local area taking in the countryside scenery.
The next 2 miles were a long slow uphill incline to Milton Golf Club, and a combination of heavier rain, a lack of suitable clothing and a general lack of fitness on my part meant I started to feel guilty about stringing the group out too much, as I was only there to run the article. I’m sure if my biking over the past 20 years had been more than a half mile to the shops and back the course would have seemed a breeze, so reluctantly I decided I could no longer hold them up. As we approached the A47 at Castor I decided to call it a day and let them press on. However, sticking to their “We never leave a group member behind” I wasn’t allowed to just watch them cycle off into the distance – I was left in no doubt that they would stay with me until they heard me make telephone arrangements with my wife to bring the car to pick up the crest-fallen reporter and his trusty steed, which they did
To round up – if you join the Cycling on Wednesday group they are not speed merchants – but they do keep up a pace throughout if possible. Weather doesn’t deter (most of) them – come rain or shine, in the words of the Queen record “The show must go on”. They are a sociable bunch – and finally they are well run with regard to safety. The routes seem to vary in length, but you will be looking at a good 2 or 3 hours pedalling away with a stop for refreshments somewhere in the middle. I believe that they encourage as many riders as possible to organise a route which keeps the rides interesting as each person will try to find something new.
So if you enjoy riding your bike and have a reasonable fitness level the Cycling on a Wednesday group may be just what you are looking for – I can thoroughly recommend that you contact the group organiser and give it a try.
Take a 12 minute video ride with the group - click here