For Sunday cyclists Oundle is a favourite stop along the route

Sam often refuels with cake and coffee at Beans along his 35 mile circuit.

Sam often refuels with cake and coffee at Beans along his 35 mile circuit.

Bikes and bright jerseys have become a familiar sight at weekends, especially outside those twin hubs of Oundle’s social life, Beans and The Coffee Tavern, where cyclists socialise and refuel with calories, caffeine and chat.

On a Sunday morning at Beans, we met cyclists who regularly fit Oundle – and cake and coffee – into their route. Sam, 16, has been cycling for two years. He lives in Yaxley and will cover 35 miles on a good day, usually with friends. Firmly established in his love of the sport he now has three bikes, is a serious circuit racer in London, and regularly trains on indoor stationary bikes – his top tip for adding in practice miles to a busy lifestyle.

We went on to meet Steve and Rich from Market Deeping and Newborough who have been cycling for 20 years. These two happily cover up to 80 miles in a day and each has five bikes for different terrains. Steve and Rich stress how social riding can be, often setting out in mixed groups of 20 to 30 riders.

Constant innovation in cycle design means you can buy specific bikes for particular types of cycling or landscapes, but recently the famous names in the industry have started bringing in bikes in the cross-over category which can be used for roads, for off-road, or just to go down to the shops. These sound a good place to start for a new entrant to the field on a limited budget.

The cyclists we met recommend Gorilla Firm Cycling in Oundle, and Terry Wright Cycles in Peterborough for good quality bikes.

Then there are those who like to mix their cycling with other sports. Adrian and Dan said they cycle a couple of times a week from Alconbury, can cover 60 miles on a Sunday, and mix cycling with running and swimming.

Those cyclists pausing for a well-earned break represent a global lifestyle industry worth $45 billion a year and with 70 million participants. It’s great for gender equality too, with men and women taking up life on two wheels in almost even numbers.

More than a hobby, more than a means of getting about, once you begin cycling, you enter a world of kit to buy, health and fitness targets to hit, adventures to have, and for many cyclists a boost to their social life too.

The health benefits span increased mobility, improved cardiovascular fitness, better posture, healthier weight, and increased lung health. While research proves that anything done socially helps lighten dark moods and chases away wintery depressions.

For all ages, for all levels of seriousness, and for those who want to be alone or those who like to share their fun with others, cycling is on the up and available to you. Here in Oundle there are particularly good roads for this sport, and when you need a break, excellent cafes or pubs to stop at and recharge. As spring arrives – what’s to stop you taking a bike for a spin?

Lily Wolfson
May 2019