A CITY cycling club is expanding activities after a surge in interest during the coronavirus lockdown.

Worcester St John’s Cycling Club is keen to encourage people to continue on their bikes after restrictions end.

Introducing the club’s “cycling for all” initiative, WSJCC secretary Terry Nolan said: “Whereas the cycling boom of the past decade appeared to draw those wishing to emulate stars such as Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas in the Tour de France, or Olympic champions Victoria Pendleton, and Laura Kenny, lockdown seems to have been different, attracting people who are simply rediscovering the freedom, joy and health benefits from

riding a bike.

“ Bike sales have gone crazy during and many old bikes have been dusted down and brought back into service. What a shame if, when things return to ‘normal’, those bikes were to be put back in the shed to gather dust. I sense that many folks who would like to start exploring farther afield are perhaps nervous to do so in case they get hopelessly lost or suffer a mechanical problem.

“Cycling clubs are not all about speed, racing and lycra, indeed the mainstay activity for most members are the group rides that venture out mainly at weekends. It’s fair to say that some rides can be a bit rapid and may cover many miles, so we have recently introduced five ride categories to cater for everyone, from beginners and returners right through to those competing at the top levels. And guess what! It is the shorter and slower rides that have proved to be most popular, where people find their confidence and fitness touring the quiet Worcestershire lanes in the company of others, with the mandatory coffee and ice cream stop thrown in for good measure.

“There are now between 10 and 12 organised rides a week spread over four days and each led by qualified ride leaders with intimate knowledge of the largely traffic-free back lanes and byways  But it is clear that many people are nervous about cycling on open roads, especially as traffic levels increase, that’s why we have linked up with Bike Worcester and Worcestershire County Council to provide courses in Safe Cycling Training

for Adults.”

To help riders develop their skills and confidence, the club’s British Cycling-qualified coaches provide free courses at beginners and intermediate levels, while for children there is the WSJCC Young Riders Training Award Scheme. The club said it has been a great success with most activities off-road, where the emphasis is on fun and developing bike skills.

On reaching the age of 12, youngsters can progress to carefully managed road rides down quiet lanes.

“They really love it,” added Mr Nolan. “There’s no doubt we’ve gone full à la carte:  for aspiring champions, there are time trials, road races and off-road racing to test their mettle, but with a full social calendar, cycling weekends away and trips to Europe, there is enough to whet anyone’s appetite. The cost is peanuts, so see our website to join and chat with membership secretary Dave Walker.”