The Cycling for Health Project was a pilot project set up in 2014 to support people in East Lothian to improve their mental and physical wellbeing. Volunteer ride leaders deliver a programme over 10 weeks to participants who wish to get back to cycling or build their cycling skills. Over the 10 weeks the group participants are encouraged to improve their cycling skills in preparation for cycling on local cycle paths and quiet risk assessed routes.
Finding new ways for people to be active is important and the cycling group is one of a number of CHANGES activities that promote physical and mental health through encouraging physical activity. The positive benefits of combining an activity with the outdoors is well documented and this is something the cycling project can offer . CHANGES is an inclusive project and encourages adults of all ages and backgrounds to take part.
Back in October I embarked on the programme, not having been on a bike for 30-odd years.
The first 4 sessions took place in beautiful Lewisvale Park, Musselburgh, where myself and the other participants wobbled in and out of cones, dropped frisbees and learned to change gears.
By the fifth week, we were considerably less wobbly and left the relative comfort of the park to venture onto nearby cycle paths.
Today, was my final cycle and I can now reach the top of the muddy slope that in week 5 I had to dismount and walk up. I feel fitter, more confident and enthused about cycling than I thought possible.
Currently six volunteer ride leaders support the cycling sessions and two bicycle maintenance volunteers keep the bikes in good working order. Future developments for 2016 include running group cycle sessions once a month to support participants who have completed the 10 week programme to continue cycling. In addition, providing Basic Bike Maintenance sessions to past participants are being planned for 2016.
To take part participants have to be over 16 years old, resident in East Lothian or have an East Lothian GP.
The next programme begins in February 2016 and you can sign up here. I can’t promise you will be as lucky with the weather as I was but you are guaranteed to feel good, become more confident and you will definitely have fun. (A bicycle, helmet and high viz vest can all be supplied, if required.)
Thank you so much to the Volunteer Cycle Ride Leaders, Patsy (who was with us throughout the ten weeks), Ann and Hilda, as well as CHANGES Project Worker, Heather.