Groups celebrate Bike Month in Sudbury by hitting the trails together
June is Bike Month and in Sudbury, local groups are encouraging cyclists to get out and stay active.
For some, biking is a way to make friends, stay active and clear their minds.
“A good part of it for me is mental health,” said cyclist Julian Rickards, who was out for a community ride with Bike Sudbury on Thursday.
“I find especially cycling to work in the morning, more so than riding home in the afternoon, it sets my mind at ease. Whereas if I drive into work I’m fretting about what I have to do, what I didn’t do yesterday.”
Bike Sudbury hosts weekly group rides across the city, giving cyclists with a range of experience a chance to be a part of the community and expand their knowledge of the road.
“It’s the opportunity to see some of the good cycling infrastructure that the city has started to put in and to get people comfortable biking on the road,” said Rachelle Niemela with Bike Sudbury.
“A lot of people are just really nervous. What signals should I use? Where should I bike? How do I pass a parked car? What do these strange markings on the road (mean)?"
Niemela said the group rides offer a chance to educate newer cyclists on how to be comfortable while obeying traffic laws.
Cyclist Chuck Miller, who has been biking on and off since he was a teenager, said he is still learning with every ride.
“It never hurts to be a little more informed," Miller said.
"We all need a little bit of something. I learn something every time I come, as well.”
Rachelle Niemela of Bike Sudbury said improvements have been made to the city's cycling infrastructure. (Photo from video)
Niemela said Bike Sudbury focuses on urban cycling, which includes road riding and trail riding.
“When you’re in a group, like one behind the other, it’s not as scary as just being alone on this road with the cars passing you right?" she said.
"There’s somebody at the back who is the last man -- we never leave anybody behind. So there’s always a ride leader and a sweep in the back."
Bike Sudbury isn’t the only option for people wanting to get active with a group of friends. Cycling Grannies is another option in the city, focused mainly on women -- and the occasional husband who tags along.
“We are always open to people trying it out,” said Janet Spergel with Cycling Grannies.
“Some have tried it out and found it a little hard, but we do have two groups. The easy riders are the group that I belong to and we like to limit our riding to about 15 kilometres -- 20 kilometres max. But the other group tends to like to go further, like three-hour cycling is nothing uncommon for them.”
The group started as four friends but has grown to about 50 members.
“We’re always welcoming, we try to give them a little bit of input as to what we are, and there’s a social aspect," Spergel said.
“Biking is so important to me because I like the social aspect of it, first of all. I love the coffee. And I just feel that it makes exercise easier and it’s so important at our age to be out doing different types of exercise and the social aspect of it makes it more fun and not just like work.”
Both groups, Cycling Grannies and Bike Sudbury, are working to improve cycling in the city.
On Tuesday, Cycling Grannies is installing a bench along the Lake Laurentian Conversation Area so other people can enjoy the view.
Meanwhile, Bike Sudbury is working to create a trail network so cyclists can move all around the city more easily.
“I really appreciate the efforts that Bike Sudbury has made to improve biking infrastructure,” said Miller.
“I totally like the fact that their goal is to have connected trails and routes all over and I can’t wait for it all to happen.”
Bike Month will include a bike ride with Mayor Brian Bigger on Thursday and a bike exchange at some point this month as well through Bike Sudbury.
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