Swindon Sky Rides are back by popular demand this summer – and the Melrose family are riding high on the news, having taken part in one of the free cycling events every weekend last year.
The range of guided rides cater for all ages and abilities and residents are invited to book now by going online at www.goskyride.com/swindon
So successful last year, local participation levels in the national initiative saw Swindon ranked fifth highest in the country.
Mum-of-two Claire Melrose, from Penhill, hadn’t stepped foot on a pedal since childhood but was persuaded by her husband Will to give it a go. She now owns more bikes than Will and can’t wait to join in the cycling festivities, which start in June, with her whole family.
Claire, aged 32, said: “Although I was a bit anxious at first, I took to it almost straight away and absolutely loved it. We ended up joining a Sky Ride every weekend because it was so much fun and a great way to spend quality time with the kids.”
Last year nearly 600 budding and experienced cyclists took part in the rides, which start at venues across the Borough and are an opportunity to not only stretch your legs but also discover hidden beauty spots.
“You get to see all the beautiful parts of Swindon and feel so much fitter for it. I can’t recommend them highly enough. My new hobby came as a complete surprise. I would never have dreamed of doing this, let alone enjoying it. But I regained my confidence in no time and discovered that there were so many benefits,” she said.
“It was so good to be motivated to get out in the fresh air and also get fit. I lost a stone over the summer last year and felt amazing. We couldn’t wait for the next one.”
Their daughter Ellie, aged 10, was equally enthusiastic and son Corey, aged five, joined in thanks to a bike trailer. Making it an even bigger family affair, Claire’s parents Sue, aged 62, and Ian, aged 65, got back on the saddle to boot.
Claire said: “Mum was a bit nervous initially but soon got into the swing of it. Anyone really can join in the fun – you don’t need to be an expert or have expensive kit. Will’s parents are getting on board this year too and we’re already looking forward to taking part.”
The rides, funded by the Sport England Tri-Active Project and Swindon Borough Council, vary in distance and level of difficulty, and are held on Sundays throughout the summer. Organised by the council in partnership with British Cycling and Sky, places are limited so early booking is advised.
Cllr Keith Williams, Swindon Borough Council Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Leisure, said: “I am delighted that the Sky Rides are returning to Swindon this summer following their tremendous success last year. They really are a brilliant free opportunity to enjoy the social side of cycling and also experience the health benefits. The Melrose family certainly entered the spirit and I’m pleased they are gearing up to take part again with even more members of the family this time. Their enthusiasm and commitment is fantastic and clearly catching on.”
More information about the Swindon Tri-Active Project, which encourages people to be more active by teaching them to ride a bike, swim, walk and run, is available by going online at www.swindon.gov.uk/tri-active, calling: 01793 465404 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org