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Get Active: Gear up to healthier living with Stratford bikes and brunch

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 May 2015

The ladies who biked and brunched, including Breeze champion, Claire Townsend (second from left).

The ladies who biked and brunched, including Breeze champion, Claire Townsend (second from left).

Archant

The best thing about cycling has to be how accessible it is. You don’t have to be fit, it’s cheap, it’s easy – it’s just like riding a bike.

Journalist Anna Silverman tried out cycling at the Velopark in Queen Elizabeths Olympic Park, Newham for the Newham Recorders Get Active campaignJournalist Anna Silverman tried out cycling at the Velopark in Queen Elizabeths Olympic Park, Newham for the Newham Recorders Get Active campaign

According to Transport for London record numbers of people are peddling their way to good health around the capital these days.

However, if you’re anything like me, it’s those confidence-shattering bike-death statistics that are keeping some off the roads.

But the prayers of cautious cyclists everywhere have been answered – woman can pedal into the weekend at new sessions called Bike and Brunch at Lee Valley VeloPark on Fridays.

The one mile road circuit track which winds scenically around the VeloPark, crossing the River Lea, is traffic free and closed to the public.

It’s the perfect location for beginners to improve their technique or for more experienced riders to work on their time.

“These sessions are all about helping people build confidence,” said Breeze champion, Claire Townsend, who initiated the programme at the park.

“That’s the beauty of cycling, it’s not just the fitness, it’s the confidence we build to tackle hills and go on longer bike rides or go out on the road.

“The great thing about this is you can do as little or as much as you like. One woman who came earlier said she hadn’t been on a bike for five months and she did five circuits and said, ‘right that’s enough’. And that’s great – that’s five miles.”

As we enjoyed brunch after a gratifying hour and a half on the track, keen cyclist, Kirstie Cousin added: “From a calorie point of view you’ll burn a hell of a lot more than you would do in yoga.

“And in cycling you can get faster with age, whereas with running and other sports you just get slower.”

The Friday sessions are supported by Breeze – the British Cycling’s national network who organise local bike rides for women.

Breeze was set up in 2011 to get volunteers trained up to take woman out on trained rides.

“It’s all about recreational bike rides – and it’s great for the velopark to get more people using the circuit,” Claire added.

“There’s something about cycling that does something for women. It’s very accessible for all ages and there’s no barrier. Plus it’s friendly and you can do it around other commitments.

“When we’re out on the circuit we want to make sure people know we’re there for them and we’re going to help them if they need it.”

Bike and Brunch sessions cost £5 and cyclists who don’t have their own bike can hire one at the centre for an extra £5.

For more information on the Bike and Brunch sessions, as well as other cycling opportunities on the velodrome track, BMX track, road circuit and mountain bike trails, go to: www.visitleevalley.org.uk/velopark


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