CYCLING is booming in popularity following a summer packed with two-wheeled success.
And our bike clubs are the perfect place to get involved.
This summer, thousands gathered in Oxford to watch the Halfords Cycling Tour when it rolled into town.
Then in July, Bradley Wiggins became the first British winner of the Tour de France and topped it off with an Olympic gold.
One of those inspired by a year of incredible cycling was Rob Dorey, 16, from North Oxford.
After marshalling at the Bike Blenheim event he started training in earnest, in the hope that he could compete in next year’s 60-mile race.
He said: “I went out for a taster day with the Oxonian cycling club and I really enjoyed it.
“I watched pretty much all the cycling at the velodrome.
“Bradley Wiggins seems to do it with such ease, he can beat everybody in the world and doesn’t seem to be struggling.”
Since the Halfords tour came through Oxford in May, the Oxonian has had a 30 per cent increase in membership and now has 170 people signed up.
Four years ago Dennis McSweeney was 19 stone and, with arthritis in his ankle, couldn’t run to get fit.
Instead he took up cycling and within a year he had lost seven stone, and felt happier and healthier.
Now he’s the publicity secretary for the Oxonian club, which celebrates its 85th birthday this year.
Mr McSweeney said: “I think people want to join but they might be scared they are not going to be able to keep up, so we are going on taster rides where someone will always cycle with you, we won’t
leave you behind.
“If people want to tootle along and look at the countryside they can.”
Oxfordshire members of the Cyclists’ Touring Club were also inspired by the Olympics.
Wantage branch secretary Steve Swanton said: “The road racing at Leatherhead was incredible – one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.
“It was as much a celebration of what Bradley Wiggins had achieved as anything, there was a real warmth and atmosphere. We are very lucky in Oxfordshire because we have got a fantastic network of
back roads, we have got hills and valleys but also a lot of flats to cycle.”
CTC members go on a variety of rides from Wantage, ranging from gentle runs for beginners to more adventurous outings for those who want a bit of a workout.
Mr Swanton, 50, said: “It is a great way of seeing the countryside, you can stop almost everywhere and anywhere, you don’t have to worry about parking.
“Cycling is for everybody, going out and cycling just 10km will do you a world of good.”
To find out more, visit oxonctc.org.uk