A new series of ‘healthy bike rides’ are to be staged in and around Horsham this year.
The rides are being organised by Horsham District Council’s sports development team together with local volunteer ride leaders and follow a pilot scheme set up last year.
A council spokesman said the rides “are free social bike rides for starter-level cyclists. They are a great way to improve cycling ability, socialise with others and develop new skills. All participants need is a working bicycle and the ability to ride.
“A hybrid bike is suitable for all rides but road bikes can be used for ‘on road’ rides.
“The rides are free of charge and are supported by leaders who are trained and experienced to adapt to individual rider needs with aspects such pacing, helping groups gel together appropriately and keeping people safe.”
The rides will be held from February to November and include routes around Warnham, via Pedlar’s Way to Southwater and to Sumner’s Pond in Barns Green, along with a 6K Shelley ride route.
Added the spokesman: “There will be more emphasis on road riding during winter months and more off-road rides during the summer, spring and autumn.”
Horsham District Council deputy cabinet member for leisure Nigel Jupp said: “One of our core aims as a council is to improve the health and wellbeing of our residents.
“I am delighted that the Healthy Rides Programme was so well received last year and has therefore been extended for 2019.
“Our district boasts some superbly scenic countryside and there’s no better way to see it than on two wheels and breathing in fresh air. And as for the health and fitness benefits, few activities can match the fun and low joint impact nature of cycling for achieving personal progress.
“I would encourage as many people as possible to sign up and enjoy the considerable benefits of the programme.”
Last year around 50 people aged from 30 to 70 took part.
Bikes of different sizes and types will be available to borrow free of charge for those who need them.
For less confident or starter riders, training will be available to help people in the confines of Horsham Park.
On some of the rides there is also an educational benefit: the Shelley Rides are led by Thea Bredie, an enthusiast of the early nineteenth century romantic poet Shelley, who shares her knowledge of the birth, christening and work of Shelley during the ride.
Anyone who wants to find out more can contact Ian Ford, Horsham District Council’s sports development officer, by email at Ian.firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 07764 146338 or visit www.hdsd.org.uk and search ‘Health Rides’.