On yer bike – the Dagenham cycling classes that welcome everyone
PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 May 2015
Horror stories of jammed junctions, angry drivers and unforgiving lycra have so far prevented me from as much as touching a bicycle tyre in the traffic hellspot that is London.
But these concerns melt away on arrival at the Jim Peters Stadium in Dagenham’s Mayesbrook Park, where I meet an assortment of equally amateur cyclists.
From toddlers eagerly anticipating a trailer ride, to mothers who haven’t biked for more than twenty years, we all have a common goal – to take the brakes off (not literally) – and regain our cycling confidence in a safe environment.
“A lot of them do it for fitness, and some learn to ride so they can go cycling with their kids, who learn at school,” Barking and Dagenham transport officer Nick Davies explains.
A number of parents, including Angela Lopez (see below), initially came to accompany their children at their one-on-one 30 minute sessions, but have been inspired by the welcoming environment to get back on the saddle themselves.
“We have about 50:50 men and women, which is fantastic,” says Nick, as we watch one of the trainers, provided by Dagenham-based Vandome Cycles, help adjust a woman’s bike seat height.
“The instructors, bikes, helmets and venue are all there – so people can just turn up without worrying about punctured tyres or not having the gear.”
As we talk, a handful of children are determinedly skirting a ring of cones put out by a trainer, who times their efforts, while an adult beginner gets the hang of it and manages twice around the track without falling over.
This is the ideal entry point for those who want to build up their confidence on wheels, but aren’t quite ready for intimidating main roads. Once they have built up their confidence on the track, attendees are gradually encouraged to cycle into the spacious Mayesbrook Park. If they want, participants can sign up for the level two or three classes – where they can get to grips with road safety, one crossing at a time.
Social Cycling takes place every Wednesday from 4 to 7pm at the Jim Peters Stadium in Mayesbrook Park, Dagenham. You can turn up on the day, or register for a free one-on-one class in advance by emailing email@example.com
A further session focusing on inclusivity, Cycle 4 All, offers free drop-in cycle sessions on Tuesday evenings from 4 to 7pm at Mayesbrook Park. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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