A number of organisations working with young people in Lancaster came together with Cycling UK to offer a life-changing cycling experience to a group of young people from deprived areas of the city.
Last winter, a programme of cycling activity took place through the colder months, including gym sessions, a mountain biking trip and advice sessions on fitness and nutrition. When the weather improved in spring, the programme switched to cycle training in the local area with a progressive set of rides in the Trough of Bowland, North Lancashire and South Cumbria.
The target for the group was a multi-day ride to Edinburgh in June 2013, made on a fleet of brand new road bikes purchased for the occasion. On the way, the young participants had the opportunity to stay in Carlisle YMCA and New Lannark Youth Hostel before arriving in the Scottish capital. They cycled up to 80 miles a day, not bad for a group who only nine months previously had had no fitness and hadn't used a bike for years!
The team helped produce documentary film from footage about the project and from the ride itself. The film highlights not only the physical challenge, but also the emotional and educational journey the youngsters experienced as they trained in the gym together, rode up the notorious Shap Fell and cemented friendships by fixing punctures and surviving sunburn - all part of the team effort.
In 2014, the adventure will take place again. This time, the team plans to cycle from Tower to Tower; Blackpool to Paris!