Meet our groups: Cycling Minds
Cycling Minds is located in an area with very limited provision for cyclists, both in terms of places to get their bikes fixed and to purchase parts and providers of cycling activities.
We opened The Link Community Cycle Hub in spring 2022, where we service bikes and also sell new and secondhand parts and clothing, as well as refurbished secondhand bikes. The latter have been very popular, again because the nearest alternative is to make a round trip of 30 miles to the nearest bike shop.
Since we started, we have run numerous community activities (learn, fix and ride), both through the Big Bike Revival, and as part of our own charitable and community work. What we have found is that there are many people who would ride, or ride more, if they felt more confident and the classes we offer are enabling this.
We have also started installing public bike repair stations, the first in the centre of Corbridge and the second at Tyne Green Country Park in Hexham, with more to follow in Wylam and Allendale. These also mean locals without tools can carry out basic repairs on their bikes.
Knowing an established organisation like Cycling UK recognises the value of what we have started makes all the hard work worthwhile
Toby Price, founder of Cycling Minds community cycle club
We have a great team of volunteers who are all committed to getting more people out on their bikes and we are also involved in pushing for better cycling infrastructure in Northumberland. All this has helped raise our profile.
Our charitable programmes – Step On(e) guided e-bike ride programme and Persevere to Succeed workplace training programme – are also being well received by local third sector and public sector organisations alike. These programmes are primarily aimed at 16- to 24-year-olds facing struggles in their lives.
Our Going the Extra Mile award
As far as our success in the Cycling UK Volunteer Awards goes, it’s great to see our work being recognised, especially as a new organisation. We have plenty to be proud of since we launched, although it has been an uphill battle with lots of challenges along the way.
Knowing an established organisation like Cycling UK recognises the value of what we have started makes all the hard work worthwhile.
The challenges we’ve overcome
The first was finding a venue for The Link. Ideally, we hoped to be allowed to set up in a council-owned building with no or very low rent but this didn’t happen, so now we are operating from a venue which is already too small for us and costs a fair amount of money, making our financial position delicate. While we did really well securing start-up funding, obtaining year 2 funding to cover staff and rent costs is proving extremely difficult.
Our rural location is also a challenge as we have a small population to draw on for volunteers and beneficiaries.
Our rides currently start and end in Hexham and are presently limited to a radius of 30km from the town but we hope to extend where we go in the future, especially if we are able to purchase a van.
We have a core group of about 10 regular riders and the same number of volunteers who are regularly involved.
Our favourite route is Hexham to Brampton via Lambley and then back via Greenhead, stopping at Lanacost Priory for lunch – see GPX file below. Our favourite stop is Wheelbirks Parlour in Stocksfield.
What we are most proud of
We are most proud of seeing our beneficiaries getting so much out of their time with us.
For example, according to the organisation who referred a young person with SEN to us: “K’s placement has given him masses and masses of confidence, and improved his communication skills with the public. K now acts more independently and more knowledgeably; when arriving at The Link, he will discuss things sensibly, and come up with new suggestions.
“He is expressing his views – prior to coming to Cycling Minds, this is something he would not do readily. He is getting the chance to develop a lot of practical mechanical skills, which is one of the aspirations in his EHCP. K wants to be a motor mechanic, but it is extremely difficult to find a placement in a garage due to the potential risks, so Cycling Minds gives him that opportunity.”
Making hills a breeze
It’s also impressive seeing how every single person we have taken on our e-bikes comes back with a massive smile on their face and a desire to ride more, even those who are very unfit or have mental health problems. E-bikes really do level the playing field and make riding in hilly areas like ours a breeze.