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Now is a wheely good time to reconnect with your bike

In the wake of the Coronavirus crisis, Newground Together, part of Together Housing Group, is helping people rediscover the joy of cycling. 

When the Prime Minister asked us to stay at home in a bid to stop the spread of the virus and save lives in his address to the nation last week, he did allow us the chance to leave our homes once a day for exercise.  

As a government-approved activity, cycling (at a distance from others) is one of the simple pleasures we can still enjoy. 

Newground Project Officer James Kenyon runs a regular cycle workshop at The Annexe in  Stubbylee Park, Bacup, and ocassionally runs workshops at Shadsworth Hub in Blackburn. 

As a social enterprise specialising in environmental services, Newround works in partnership with refuse sites across Lancashire to access discarded bikes. In six to eight weeks, participants can completely restore a bike, which they can then take away with them for free. 

While these workshops are on hold during the crisis, James has released an online video showing how to do a 10-point check on your bike. 

Cycle shops are allowed to continue trading as an essential service, alongside supermarkets and pharmacies, under the government’s lockdown measures. However, James says nearly half of the UK already own a bike but just don’t know how check it’s road-worthy if it’s been sat at the back of the shed or garage for years. 

James said: “Around 42% of people in the UK own bikes but don’t ever use them. 

“It might be because the bike has a flat tyre and you have no idea how to repair it. Or maybe it’s because you feel you’re lacking the skills or knowledge to ride safely. 

“Our workshops are all about overcoming those little barriers and to help you feel more confident about cycling.” 

In addition to learning practical skills such as how to repair a puncture or how to adjust gears and brakes, the workshops are a chance to meet like-minded people and can have a positive impact on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of those who come.  

While the workshops are on hold, therefore limiting the social aspect, there has never been a better time to get out and about on your bike to keep fit and lift your mood. 

James added: “Bikes allow people to maintain isolation while providing important respite from being indoors. Cycling gets you out in the fresh air but it’s very rare to be in close proximity to others. 

“Cycling also has an important role to play in keeping the country moving, allowing those who still have to go to work, collect supplies or visit vulnerable people to travel with a reduced risk of contracting or spreading the virus.” 

A participant who completed one of James’ cycling courses, said: “I believe that the heart is like a car’s motor. It is one of the most important parts of our body and the heart needs constant training, but people sometimes forget about it. A bike is good and enjoyable way to keep fit. Sadly, sometimes bicycles break so you need to know how to repair it. I believe repairing a bike is something everyone should learn! It’s the same as cooking or sewing a button.” 

John Collier, 18, added: “I love the freedom riding a bike gives and being able to fix bikes is a useful skill. I have the confidence to travel that little bit further as if anything goes wrong, I won’t be stranded and will know what to do. Cycling is my favourite form of exercise, so having my bike to exercise during the quarantine is helping keep my spirits up.” 

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