For a ‘wheely’ good way to get fit and have fun with the family, take part in one of the many National Bike Week events, writes Susan Welsh
IN THE 1980s, politician Norman Tebbit famously encouraged the unemployed to “get on your bike” and look for work.
Today, his famous quote could be applied to anyone looking to save money, get fit and take up an activity that brings the whole family together.
With petrol prices rising, many have rediscovered the joys of cycling. A new bike can often cost less than a tank of fuel, while others have turned to two wheels in a bid to get fit and healthy.
According to the organisation Cycling Scotland, gentle cycling uses fat as fuel. Using your bicycle to make some journeys, such as riding to work or picking up the paper, will help you to lose weight and shape your body, but getting back on two wheels is also fun.
Cycling has many fans, including Scottish interior design gurus Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan, who have given their bikes a makeover and are encouraging others to do the same and get their bikes out from sheds and garages in preparation for Team Green Britain Bike Week, which runs from this Saturday, June 18, until Sunday, June 26.
Research has shown that a quarter of Scots have unused bikes that are hidden away in sheds and garages and many of these require minor repairs, such as getting punctures fixed, brakes adjusted and gears tuned.
This year’s Bike Week is holding Britain’s biggest bike fix, an ambitious attempt to fix as many bikes as possible during one week.
The opportunity to get your bike fixed is just one of the attractions of Bike Week as there are over 250 events taking place across Scotland.
Ian Aitken, of Cycling Scotland, said: “This Bike Week, we want Scots to rediscover the thrill of riding a bike, and encourage those with an unused bike to get it out of the shed or garage, fix it up and find out how good it feels to cycle as part of their everyday lives.”
Colin said: “’We live between Canada and Scotland and love how our homeland is finally catching up with our north American cousins regarding cycling.
“In Toronto, cycling is easy thanks to bike lanes, picturesque cycle paths and a relaxed attitude from other road users and we’re finding more and more dedicated lanes here, and more cyclists on the road, than ever before.
“Cycling is great as you can explore more, gain fitness and meet more people. In short, you’ll be more travelled, slimmer and have a greater number of friends.
“What’s not to like?”
The aim of the week is to get more people cycling, more often, and the programme has something for everyone in it, from schools and businesses to family activities and events for those who have never cycled before.
If you haven’t ridden for a while, or know little about bike maintenance, take your bike to a local cycle shop where they will give it a general service.
A basic bike check at home includes checking the tyres are pumped up, the brakes, gears and chain are working properly and the handlebars and saddle are at the right height for you.
Throughout the week, many local cycling groups are running organised rides while free cycle safety check events will take place at a variety of places.
These include free family cycle rides along the Caledonian Canal pathway, starting from the Tomnahurich bridge in Inverness and heading for the Dochgarroch lock gates before crossing and coming back on the other side.
These take place at 6pm on June 21, 10am on June 22, 2pm on June 24 and 10am on June 25. Call 01463 712530 for further details.
Dr Bike free safety cycle checks will be held at Lifescan, Raigmore, Inverness, at noon on June 21 and 22. Call 01463 712530, and at 9am on June 18 at Rothan, 9 Howmore, South Uist, Tel: 01870 620283.
On Wednesday, June 22, at 9am, those who enjoy cycling to work can tuck into a free breakfast, and meet fellow-cycling enthusiasts, by riding along to Great Glen House, the SNH building on Leachkin Road in Inverness.
Events taking place in Aberdeen include a two-hour workshop for families at which they can learn basic bike maintenance, cycling skills for on and off road, games, road safety and a family-paced bike ride.
Suitable for children from the primary one to seven age group, accompanied by an adult, it takes place at Hazlehead Park at 6pm on June 22, meeting outside the park’s cafe. Call 07939 139926 for further details.
A similar event takes place at Kellands Park, Inverurie, meeting next to the old tuck shop, on June 20, starting at 6pm. Call 07939 139926 for more information.
Easy-paced cycle rides, aimed at beginners and those who haven’t cycled for a while, will take place in Aberdeen on June 19, at Seaton Park, starting at 10am, and in the Duthie Park, meeting near the pond at 10am, on June 26. The contact number for both is 01224 734799.
In Elgin, a bike roadshow will take place on the Plainstones, on June 24, from 10am. Events here include fix-it bike sessions, bike tryouts, bike-powered smoothie making, competitions and bike sound systems. For further details call 01343 562516.
On Sunday, June 26, the Moray Great Bike Ride pedals off from Elgin’s Cooper Park at 12.30pm on Sunday, June 26.
The annual bike ride sees people taking part in satellite towns and villages including Cullen, Portknockie, Findochty, Portessie, Buckie, Portgordon, Duffus and Hopeman, as well as the main ride in Elgin.
This year, those participating will raise money for the North East Sensory Service which provides services to more than 2,500 people in the Grampian area with severe visual impairment and/or deaf or hearing impairment.
Anyone interested in supporting this event should please contact Graham Stewart on 01343 554 146.
For more information or to find an event near you, visit www.bikeweek.org.uk.
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