Dr Dave On Why Riding to Work Makes You Lucky

Dave Lehane, a Love to Ride Champion at Page Hall Medical Centre in Sheffield, tells us why riding to work has made him lucky

“You’re lucky” I hear this often at work in relation to my weight. For the record I’m a 47 year old GP, who stands at 6’1” and weighs 73 kg (I’ll stop there before it sounds like my dating app bio). The reason I’m supposed to be lucky, you see, is that at work we have a cabinet behind reception that often has a box of treats, sitting there, just waiting to be eaten. I struggle to walk past without indulging. So you see I am lucky, but not for the reason people think at work, I’m lucky because I cycle to work and have done for the last 19 years.

Sweet temptation...
Sweet temptation…

My bike has always been a source of fun. I can remember messing about on my bike as a kid. Pulling skids, trying wheelies and doing jumps over bunkers at the pitch and putt course (clearly not to be encouraged). As I’ve got older the fun has changed and occasionally it’s more of the type 2 fun, but it’s still fun.* I can honestly say I have never enjoyed running and swimming doesn’t hit the right notes either. But a bike is fun!

The health benefits of cycling (other forms of exercise are also available) are well documented: reduction in cardiovascular disease (Stroke, Heart Attack) and reduction in Type II Diabetes and improved mental health. What’s more, because the bicycle does not impact upon the health of others due to its minimal environmental impact (my wife states the phrase “zero emissions” cannot include me), the health benefits apply to more than just the person on the bike. There is also very new and exciting recent research showing that cycling benefits some patients suffering with Parkinson’s Disease by improving symptoms by up to 30%.

So I’m lucky because cycling allows me to get to work faster than on the rare occasions when I have to drive.

I’m lucky because it allows me to clear my mind. Cycling is what’s known as an “active meditation” because it’s hard to worry about other things when your mind is occupied with riding your bike.

I’m lucky because it’s exercise that has become part of my daily routine and improves my physical health.

And finally I’m lucky because riding my bike to work means that I can eat the odd chocolate biscuit (or five) without too much worry…

Dr Daveon his bike - Sheffield is famous for its hills...
Dr Dave on his bike – Sheffield is famous for its hills…

*Type 2 fun = the type of fun you experience after the event has past. This can sometimes take  a few days to develop into fun.

University of Worcester launches innovative bike share scheme

One of the Country’s largest city-wide electric bike (e-bike) share schemes will launch in Worcester today (February 12), thanks to a partnership between local organisations.

The Woo Bikes scheme is initially being piloted by staff and students at the University of Worcester but will be open to other employers in the City.  The ambition for the project is for it to be rolled out to other parts of the County in the future.

The scheme is a partnership between the University, Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, Worcestershire County Council, Worcester City Council, and technology firm Gtech.

It is hoped that the Woo Bikes will provide a convenient, low cost, healthy option for getting around Worcester.

The scheme will incorporate the University’s current Bike Loan scheme, which has more than 60 members and a supply of 50 pedal bikes.  The 50 e-bikes, which can be hired for a 24-hour period, are equipped with a lithium-ion battery, allowing the bike’s motor to give people a boost when needed as soon as they pedal.

More than half the cost of the £87,000 University-led scheme is being met by the LEP with funds also coming from the County and City councils and the University. The bikesare being provided by Gtech, while Spokes, a project within the Kidderminster-based Emily Jordan Foundation charity, will maintain them.  Fleet Innovations, in Kidderminster, will provide GPS tracking.

Long-term, one of the key aims of the scheme is to encourage more cycling.  Special events, organised and run by University students, will promote the scheme more widely in the City, with have-a-go sessions from April, and weekly taster sessions on campus to encourage the University community to sign up.

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said:  “The Woo Bikes scheme is a fantastic initiative that is already drawing support from local Worcestershire businesses in a unique collaboration. We are delighted to have invested in this scheme to provide the city with access to Gtech’s innovative sustainable transport.”

Katy Boom, Director of Sustainability at the University of Worcester, said: “We are delighted to offer these e-bikes to our students and staff as a convenient, fun and healthy means of travelling and to lead on such a significant project for the City.  Our students have been assisting with this exciting project, which also builds on our reputation for and shows our commitment to sustainability, having been rated as one of the top five green universities in the country in a recent survey.”


Cllr John Smith, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Health and Well-being at Worcestershire County Council, said: “Cycle hire schemes can be a good way to encourage cycling, for people who want to gain confidence on the roads or find the initial cost to be a barrier.  This project, incorporating easy-to-use electric bikes, will give people a convenient, low cost option for getting around Worcester.  It can also increase people’s fitness levels which will help with their overall health and well-being.”

Cllr Geoff Williams, Worcester City Council’s Place and Economic Development Sub-Committee Vice-Chair, said: “The City Council is proud to have played a part in this innovative scheme to give residents and visitors more choice in how they travel around our city.  It will add to Worcester’s growing reputation as a healthy and active city.”

Nick Grey, Founder of Gtech, said: “I really like this idea. It’s great to see people working together from several organisations with the shared aim of improving the transport of the city in a forward-looking environmentally friendly way.  It helps us at Gtech too.  We like as many people as possible to try e-bikes, so a personal thank you from me, to all involved.”

For further information on Woo Bikes, visit www.worcester.ac.uk/discover/bike-share.

A Dad’s Tale

We’re delighted to welcome to the Love to Ride CityConnect team a brand new cycling ambassador. Since engaging with Love to Ride CityConnect when we launched in 2016, Rich ‘Wozzy’ Warren has been one of our star participants, winning the much-coveted, limited edition Chopper for his incredible effort in encouraging others to ride. Here’s his story:

Everything’s just fine… isn’t it?

Seven years ago, I was obese, but that only came to mind whenever I looked at myself. Daily office (in)activity levels meant I could achieve everything I thought I wanted to do. However, as my son got old enough to walk then pedal a bike, I realised I needed to do more and I could be a much better role model for him.

False Start

I bought a bike through Cyclescheme thinking it would help me lose weight as I reminisced about a childhood of cycling everywhere. It turned out living halfway up a hill really knocks your motivation when you’re overweight and unfit, so the bike very quickly ended up in the garage as a spider playground.IMG_0371

One important point to note that I have only really understood in recent times, is that I when I did ride, lots of people smiled. I used to envisage they were thinking “ha, a fat guy on a bike” but I nowadays realise it’s really “good for you, I want to encourage you because you’re making an effort”.

0 to 6 miles

After a few years I decided to lose the weight through dieting then spruced up the bike and did a few local canal rides before considering riding to work. It probably took a month or more from thinking about commuting by bike to actually riding. It was easier to make an excuse than find out all the details about bike storage/access, changing/showers, clothing storage and probably impinging on existing rider’s space.

Starting with the odd ride to work on nice sunny days through to a first full week probably took about 3 months. If I didn’t ride, I would be in a lovely comfy car, listening to music whilst sat in traffic. However, bit by bit I’d notice cyclists more on the road and how they get to town way quicker. Also, as I became familiar with the route, I enjoyed it more and noticed how much cheaper the journey was – though the difference was soon spent on early-days bike accessories (lights, lock, jacket, shorts, bike upgrades).

After maybe 6 months or more I felt a traitor to be commuting by car so that was reserved for the days when you logistically can’t help it – for me that was getting my son to hospital appointments.

Commute > Leisure > Challenge

IMG_20140908_193416After around 9 months since first getting back to the bike, I decided I needed a road bike to do distance rather than the go-anywhere mountain bike. That changed everything. Within 4 months I did my first century, 9 months I rode London to Paris and 18 months later I was riding 200 miles Leeds – London solo non-stop.

My previous comprehension of distances had totally crumbled and the reality that you can get to places by bike rather than car was born.

The Bigger Picture

A couple of years of self-indulgence was enough for me – I’d used my zero-to-something for supporting charities. People were now getting used to me being ‘a bit odd’ plus the time needed to push further would have conflicted with my family life. Therefore, I switched focus to help others discover the joys of riding while I still remembered and had great empathy for what it takes to get going.

Love to Ride was the first platform I used for that specific purpose – I remember monitoring the encourager, distance, most rides and new rider league tables through Cycle September to try and keep our company near the top. We had a good existing base of cycling at the office so we used that to encourage others to come along.

Following Love to Ride’s Cycle September, as a company we improved/enlarged the bike storage facilities and used prize vouchers to buy tools and other useful bits to support everyone riding in. The company remains one of the stronger ones in the area at each Love to Ride initiative!


‘Lapsed cyclist’ Becky sets sights on Hopetech Women’s Enduro

Becky Cumberworth still remembers the magical moment when she learned to ride a bike. “I was furious with my mother for letting go!” she said. “But then I realised I was riding on my own… it was a wonderful feeling.”

Despite the great start, like many adults in the UK, by the time Becky started high school cycling had been socially engineered out of her life. None of her friends rode to school, there was no safe cycle infrastructure to ride on and being told she was ‘dangerous’ on her cycling proficiency test massively dented her confidence. And that was that… cycling got ‘locked away’ in the childhood memory bank, possibly for good.


But in 2014, the Tour de France Grand Départ came to Yorkshire and, inspired by the event, Becky knew she had to give it another go. Fortunately for her, a recent upgrade to the local canal towpath by CityConnect provided a safe route to regain her confidence and she soon joined lovetoride.net to stay motivated and encourage others at Leeds City Council where she works.

“When Love to Ride came along, people at the council were suddenly talking more about cycling and sharing stories of people winning prizes for riding and encouraging. It’s great to see this happening in the workplace”, said Becky.

Spurred on by her achievements on the canal, Becky decided she wanted to explore the local hills and attended a Mountain Bike Skills Course for beginners with local provider MTB Cycle Yorkshire. “The course really built my confidence and inspired me to ride more”, said Becky. Even better, she’s now encouraged a neighbour to give it a try and they’ll both be heading up to Gisburn Forest on 14th October to take part in the Hopetech Women’s Enduro (there are still a few places available for those inspired to give it a try!).

“I’ve never ridden an Enduro event before, but I’m really looking forward to meeting and learning from all the other women taking part in this grass roots event which is all about having fun and giving the sport a try in a friendly environment.”

Apart from her mountain bike, which Becky bought from her local bike shop Chevin Cycles in Otley, she hasn’t got any special equipment for the event… in fact she was quite proud to report she’ll be riding it in her running gear!

“Taking part in lovetoride.net has encouraged me to take my cycling to the next level. I’m so glad I took that first step to getting back on the bike and I’d encourage other lapsed riders to give it a try – you never know where it might take you!”


Love to Riders Reminisce about Transcontinental Triumph

As registrations opened recently for the 2018 Transcontinental Race, two Love to Ride South Yorkshire members from Sheffield reflected on becoming the first ever women’s pair to finish the 2,500 mile ride from Belgium to Greece.
“It’s probably the most high profile adventure race in the world,” said Ang Walker. “And we wanted to see if we could do it!”
Julie Bullen added: “Women my age in their 50s do doubt themselves, about what they’re capable of. But I’d say don’t limit yourself.”
Unlike other long distance cycle races, the Transcontinental allows no support crew for riders, and provides no official route to follow. So Julie and Ang had to carry all their own equipment from the start in Belgium through Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Romania, Serbia and Macedonia to the finale in Greece, having climbed the equivalent of five and a half mount Everests en route.
Challenges included being chased by dogs in virtually every Romanian town and village, sleeping in fields, and plotting a route to avoid the busy Eastern European roads where drivers had little understanding of long distance cycle riders, and tended to overtake inches away, smiling and waving as they passed.
“We knew we weren’t going to enjoy all of it,” said Ang. “But we wanted to enjoy some of it.”
Highlights included the stretch from Venice to the Dolomites, the German Alps, and passing the monasteries on the rocks of Meteora in Greece. And the many ‘dot watchers’, the cycling fans following each rider’s GPS signal on the online route map, who’d come out to encourage the cyclists along the way.
Both women had cycled long distances before, across Australia and the USA in Julie’s case, while Ang had competed in the legendary Paris-Brest-Paris race in 2015.
The Transcontinental 2017 schedule last summer involved cycling 150 miles or more a day, with around four hours of sleep, and then setting off at 5 am to avoid the traffic and keep as close as possible to the checkpoint timings along the route.
Julie and Ang finally arrived at the finish line in 19 days, 21 hours and 5 minutes. This year they’re taking on the Normandicat race in May, which will involve cycling 560 miles through Normandy over 3 days.
Julie is retired, while Ang is now back working as cycling project manager at Sheffield’s Recycle Bikes, and winning top place and other accolades on South Yorkshire’s Love to Ride programme. “Wherever I am, riding a bike just puts a smile on my face,” she said.
Julie reckons plenty of other women could do what she and Ang achieved. “I think you’re more resilient and more determined as you get older. As long as you do the training, and you’re physically right, you can do something like this.”
> Registrations for this year’s Transcontinental have just opened: www.transcontinental.cc