1st October 2019–14th March 2020
During the first six months of the reporting period, we ran our normal winter monthly programme of short, medium and long rides over the first three Saturdays of each month.
A total of 16 rides took place, with one more cancelled due to bad weather. The rides were extremely well attended, with up to 20 women. We were particularly pleased with the strong turnout on the ‘short & steady’ rides well into the winter; 20 and 17 riders took part in the first two such rides of 2020.
Activities During Lockdown
Cycling UK cancelled all group riding activities from 17th March 2020, and so we abandoned our programme of organised rides. Instead, we supported our members in three ways:
- The BikeBuddies WhatsApp group: see below.
- A web page containing a collection of routes to give people ideas about where they might ride.
- Our regular monthly newsletter circulated by email and published on our website and Facebook pages.
An early response to the challenges of lockdown was the formation of BikeBuddies, a WhatsApp group to which Isis Cyclists were invited to sign up, although it was not a formal Isis Cyclists initiative. BikeBuddies had three main functions:
- Social. Members were able to stay in touch with each other and keep up with what others were doing.
- Mutual support. Members offered suggestions for routes and gave each other helpful hints.
- Arranging ad-hoc rides. When the lockdown was relaxed, we used the group to arrange rides in accordance with the rules. These were private rides arranged between participating riders (initially two, but later six); they were not organised by Isis Cyclists.
BikeBuddies remains very active, with 53 participants as of 18th February 2021. However, it has tended to attract our more confident and independent riders, rather than regular ‘short & steady’ riders.
Group Rides in Autumn 2020
Cycling UK’s permission (in late August) for group rides to resume came too late for us to formulate a programme for September. Even so, we were able to organise a last-minute 50-mile challenge ride to Lechlade on Sunday 6th September. Riders organised themselves into groups of six, starting from different places at different times; everyone met up by the river for a socially distanced picnic.
At a meeting in September the leaders’ group decided to provide a limited programme of short and medium rides on the first and third Saturday mornings, with either two or three groups of six riders each: i.e., up to 15 riders plus three leaders. Rides were organised in keeping with Government restrictions and adhered to a risk assessment based on Cycling UK’s template.
We were able to run our planned programmes in October and December. November’s programme was cancelled to comply with the second lockdown, and no group rides have been possible in 2021 so far.
We found that the medium rides were better supported in the autumn than the short rides. As a result, when we are able to restart our rides programme it is the less confident riders that we will need to support and encourage.
It has been a challenging 18 months, but a period during which we have discovered the potential of messaging apps for organising rides and even recruiting new members. However, we also recognise the challenges that lie ahead in encouraging some of our less confident riders to get back out on their bikes. Many may have lost fitness and confidence, and so we will need to be patient and build up numbers for these rides slowly.
18th February 2021