Cycling, coffee and cake.. what's better than that?

Road cycling doesn’t have to be about pushing yourself to the limit all the time – it’s also about getting to know like-minded people and keeping fit. Rebecca Dutton spoke to some Shrewsbury riders who spend their Saturdays cycling – and eating cake.

 

Many people find the idea of joining a cycling club where everyone will be dressed in Lycra and going full pelt in all weathers an intimidating prospect.

But the Shrewsbury-based group Paramount Cycle Racing Team is appealing to people of all levels and ages to get out on the road through its organised Saturday morning ride-outs.

Members of the club meet at Stan’s Cycles on Wyle Cop for an enjoyable ride in the beautiful Shropshire countryside. Riders are split into three groups, ladies, skills and tempo, to make sure everyone is happy with the level they will be cycling at.

The atmosphere before the ride is one of excitement and anticipation. People are keen to get their exercise done. They check their tyres, grab energy drinks and listen as the route is explained.

The ladies ride starts at 10 a.m. and they cycle between 15 and 25 miles at a pace of 14-15 miles per hour. The skills ride begins at 9.15 am and they do between 30 and 40 miles at a pace of 15/16 miles per hour, while the tempo ride, for faster members, starts at 9 a.m. and they do up to 40 miles at 18/19 miles per hour.

As the groups trickle back after their rides, they are elated, muddy and tired. They congregate in the coffee shop at Stan’s and their bikes are strewn around the shop. The chatter is constant as they compare notes, share tips and eat cake.

“It’s about getting out in the fresh air, admiring the beautiful scenery of Shropshire and the joy of cycling in all weathers,” said Martin Cowell, one of the ride leaders.

“It’s good coffee too- the best in town. There’s a real buzz in the coffee shop when you get about 50 riders all elated and tired. The atmosphere is electric fantastic and very friend. There are not many shops that would let so many dirty people with their bikes into their store.”

Martin leads the skills ride, aimed at people new to road cycling.

He said: “It’s to get cyclists used to riding on the road in a group and riding safely. It’s about how to deal with hazards and giving people a grasp of riding together.

“There’s a real cross range of people and ages- anywhere from teenagers to people in their mid 50s. Once you’ve got a bike, it’s free and it’s addictive.  As riders progress and get quicker we then move them up to the Tempo ride.  We try and ensure that each ride is made up of people of similar abilities”

Juliet Suddaby, 46, of Shrewsbury, used to ride with the ladies group but now takes part in the mixed skills ride. She joined the club about two years ago, after moving to the town from Toronto.

“It’s often hard for a woman to find a group to ride with because it can be very intimidating,” she said. “I went into Stan’s Cycles and asked if they had women-only rides and I joined in for a few, which was great and now I ride out with the mixed-skills group, which is a bit of a faster pace.

“But I always meet the women afterwards for a coffee. It’s brilliant as all the groups arrive back about the same time and it’s very sociable and we talk about the rides.

“Everyone is really friendly and it’s a great bunch of people. You are all there for the same reason to improve on your cycling but also get to know people.

“The ride leaders are really helpful and look out for you and make sure nobody is lagging behind.”

Mike Jones, owner of Stan’s Cycles, which also sponsors the club’s prestigious Paramount Performance Cycling Racing Team, said the rides are a great way to bring members of the club from all levels together.

He said: “People don’t need to be a member of Paramount to join the riders. “Most people are on racing bikes rather than hybrid or mountain bikes but everyone is welcome to join in.

“The leaders look after everyone and do not leave anyone stranded in the middle of nowhere.

“We love having everyone come back to Stan’s for a coffee and a natter. The rides are really popular because it doesn’t take up all of someone’s weekend. “They get to meet their mates and get their exercise done and the rest of the weekend is there’s.

“Putting a coffee shop in Stan’s Cycles has been the best of both worlds. Cycling coffee and cake- what’s better than that?”

For more information on the rides, which meet at Stan’s Cycles on Saturdays and are run by the Paramount Cycle Racing Team, see www.paramountcrt.org, call Stan’s Cycles on 01743 343775 or see the website at www.stanscycles.co.uk

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Pete White Pete White

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