Want to walk/cycle, but can’t find a local group that fits your interests or capabilities? Well, why not start your own?
Despite the efforts of the Ramblers, Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) and others, many who would like to get more active in the countryside often find it rather daunting to join an already established group, however inclusive, and may well be nervous about their own levels of fitness and experience, or worried they don’t have the right equipment.
Sometimes, you might want to follow a particular interest – history, nature, literature – and can use this as a good excuse to ring round compatible mates to get some fresh air and exercise, while parents often see a theme, or specific activity, as some of the best ways to introduce their children to the delights of the great outdoors.
Although it is always a good idea, where possible, to try out local walking and cycling clubs and take advantage of their knowledge and expertise, forming your own group can be fun, a good way of getting likeminded buddies together and of meeting new friends, while also providing the ideal excuse to coax everyone out of mid-winter hibernation.
It’s also a great way to stay local: it doesn’t matter where you’re based, there’s something interesting in every locality – historic churches, industrial archaeology, literature, conservation, winter wildlife – and you don’t even need to be in an area of accepted beauty. So, save on fuel and cut your carbon emissions by not driving to the start of a ride or walk.
One really big advantage of forming your own group is that you can set your own agenda and design walks and rides around your own interests: this has the added asset of attracting others who may not be interested in walking and cycling per se.
Walking and cycling are relatively inexpensive, have few, if any, age, gender or racial barriers and are the truest, cleanest and most rewarding ways to travel. So, put those New Year’s resolutions into practice, improve your fitness without going anywhere near the gym, save money and the planet, de-stress, learn something (or share your expertise) and help protect our forests and open spaces from impending environmental and political threats.
With your own group you can go where you want, when you want: just don’t forget to include a pub or cafe stop where you can recoup your calories and help local businesses at the same time.
Coming soon: Boot and Bike’s very own walking/cycling group based at The Book Barge, Barton Marina. Details to follow. Watch this space!