York Cycle September Story

“I love to help people,” says Karen Lofthouse. “I like to make a difference.” In September, she’ll be doing just that on two very different bike rides.

As a recent cycling gold medallist in the Invictus Games UK trials, she’ll be setting off on the 7th September for a 980-mile nine-day ride from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for The Princes Trust.

Cycle commuters Karen Lofthouse of TSP Projects (in red) and Alice Thatcher of I Travel York

And before that, there’s her everyday five-mile cycle commute to work at engineering consultancy TSP Projects, where as her company’s Love to Ride cycling champion she’s encouraging her colleagues to make more trips by bike for this year’s Cycle September challenge.

“The journey for me is to inspire others,” she said, “just as I’ve been inspired by other competitors at the Invictus Games.”

Five years ago, Karen broke her leg while skiing for the RAF, where she then worked as an air traffic controller. The injury was so severe she wondered if her life in high-level sport was over. She tried cycling, and after a crank adjustment for her injured leg from York CycleWorks, she was able to start competing again.

“I’d been struggling after my injury, but getting out on my bike made me recognise all those positive day-to-day benefits of mood and happiness and getting out into the fresh air that cycling brings.”

She’s been working with her company on workplace cycle challenges, and on a good day reckons nearly 20% of staff ride to work. She says companies can make cycling more accessible by installing decent bike parking so riders know their bikes are secure, and by making sure cyclists have both time and proper facilities to shower and change clothes after their commute.

City of York I Travel Planning Officer Alice Thatcher also points companies to the free bike loans available though the TryBike scheme, along with adult cycle training for those less confident on the roads or wanting to hone their urban cycling skills.

“Companies can also get involved in cycle path clean ups and litter picks with us,” said Alice. “The local McDonalds stores are helping us already, and say their staff really enjoy getting out and helping their local community.”

As Cycle September approaches, Karen and Alice are asking companies to nominate their own Love to Ride cycle champions to help and advise staff about how to make their first rides to work.

“I try to inspire colleagues to get out on their bike like I did, and feel that sense of achievement, even if it’s only by cycling a mile or two,” said Karen. “I say, give it a go and see what it’s all about, see if cycling can make a difference to you, like it did for me.”

For more information:
www.lovetoride.net/york
www.itravelyork.info/cycling
www.getcyclingevents.org.uk/TryBike

Sign up for Cycle September at lovetoride.net


Mind is the Ride

Submit your story on our new Stories feature for a chance to win one of two copies of Jet McDonald’s excellent book ‘Mind is the Ride’. Submit before Friday 2 August to enter. UPDATE: Congratulations to Graham S. from Macclesfield & Matt B. from Farnham, who won a copy each!

Does riding a bike make you smarter? Reading Jet McDonald’s new book ‘Mind is the Ride’, we’d be tempted to say: Yes!

Jet is pursuing ideas about what bikes can do to us when we ride. So when he cycled 4,000 miles from the UK to India and back, he didn’t want to write a straightforward travel book. Instead, Jet takes the reader on an imaginative journey from West to East through the philosophies, cultures and people he meets on the way.

illustrationof bike pedals

In his quirky and exciting style, Jet shares great bits of wisdom, funny moments from the journey and ideas about what riding does to us (and our minds!).

Each chapter is dedicated to a bike part and beautifully describes how it relates a specific philosophy but it’s always done in an engaging and entertaining style. Such as when he describes Freud’s ideas about alpha and beta males when he meets a group of drunk hooligans in Vienna!

Illustration of touring bike

Mind is the Ride is an exhilirating story about the joys of riding bikes and we’re delighted to giving two copies away.

Read the extract below and share your bike Story with us before 2 August 2019 to enter the prize draw.

“The bike itself, in the form we know it, has only been around for 150 years. But there is something so right about the way that a bike connects to a human being that there must be a timeless notion of what it means. ‘Bikeness’ may have less to do with the object itself than with how we connect to it. The first roll down a hill on a bicycle, balance intact, is the joyous swallow dive of youth. Before the bike existed we had no learning-to-ride feet-off-the-ground epiphany, because there was no pedal to push, and yet that moment seems familiar, ageless and universal now because it is a part of being human. Our bodies long ago evolved to ride a bike, it’s just the mind had to catch up to invent it.”

Mind is the Ride is published by Unbound.

Growing the National Bike Challenge in the USA

Why 37,000 people are riding in support of a Bike Friendly America

May is ‘National Bike Month’ in the US. Since 1956, Bike Month celebrates the joys and benefits of riding to encourage even more people to ride. Bike Month also marks the first month of the ‘National Bike Challenge’ which runs from May to September.

Every year, tens of thousands of people across the country take part in the National Bike Challenge to support a Bike Friendly America and see which state, community, business, team, and rider can ride the most. So far over 34,000 people have ridden for the Challenge this year and we’re looking forward to the final count when it’s all finished in September!

The League of American Bicyclists has been promoting Bike Month and the National Bike Challenge for years but in 2018, we partnered with the League to offer the Challenge on our dedicated bike challenge platform. Last year in the Challenge 43,000 people rode nearly 21 million miles – that’s 841 times around the world!

The National Bike Challenge is hugely popular with communities across the country who have traditions for taking part with and competing with each other to see who can ride most locally and to see which community can ride the most in the country.

It’s not just about the (friendly) competition though! By taking part and having fun in the National Bike Challenge, participants are also inspiring others find that old dusty bike hidden in the garage and (re)connect with the joys of cycling. When people begin riding more and driving less, it makes our communities healthier, happier, less polluted, and we can more easily connect with each other and our surroundings.

Community fun

In any cycling challenge, it’s important to reflect local needs and cater to local audiences.

At Love to Ride we’ve been offering custom-made local sites for communities and bike advocacy groups since the beginning. The flexibility with the Love to Ride platform allow communities to have their own custom site which can be flavoured with custom URLs, local leaderboards and custom route info.

2019 is our second National Bike Challenge and we’re super excited to see how far people, workplaces and communities will manage to ride over the summer months as we approach the finale in September – as part of the Global Bike Challenge (see below). We will be supporting everyone on their riding journey, no matter if they haven’t been on a bike for years or if they ride 100 miles a week.

Love to Ride really does have something for everyone.

September is ‘Cycle September – the Global Bike Challenge’

The grand finale in the National Bike Challenge takes place in September, where companies will be encouraged to sign up for the Global Bike Challenge and compete against other businesses across the globe to see which company can encourage most people to ride in the world!