Sarah Wood - Volunteer Ride Leader

Sarah Wood
Sarah Wood from Hampshire is a volunteer ride leader and cycle campaigner
Sarah, a retired teacher, is a National Standard cycle instructor who helps support cycling activities in her area as both a ride leader and local campaigner. She was one of the Cycling UK 100 Women in Cycling in 2017.

Full name, occupation, area you live in and name of group or activity you support:

Sarah Wood, retired teacher now a National Standard cycling instructor from Farnborough, Hampshire. I am secretary to Rushmoor Cycle Forum and also a Rushmoor Breeze Ride Leader.

I also support Rushmoor Borough Council with anything to do with cycling. We have delivered Skills and Confidence Sessions to women and deliver balance and ride sessions in local schools. This is paid work but the setting up and managing has a huge volunteer role. Together with others, I have set up wellbeing rides with the support of NE Hants and Farnham CCG.

What made you decide to volunteer your skills with Cycling UK or a Cycling UK-registered group?

I completed a VSO placement in Guyana. During that placement, I cycled to work on a pink bike. When I returned to the UK, I did not buy a car and continued to ride a bike. A flyer came through my door one day asking for CTC Right To Ride Reps. This was on the initiative of a Basingstoke volunteer, Heather Rainbow. This was in around 2004.

How much time are you able to commit?

For me, it is not about time. I do get paid for some of my cycling work and the volunteer and paid work all kind of merge into one.

Which activity or activities do you support?

I am a utility cyclist first and foremost.  My bike is my transport. So I support any activity which is likely to increase the chance of that happening among others.

What is the greatest challenge you have encountered?

Our culture does not support the bike as a form of transport in the way it should.  Supporting a movement towards that aim is hard work.  The bike has been claimed by the sport and leisure industry, then there is the whole wardrobe/fashions industry that has leaped onto the bandwagon.  All of this, coupled with traffic and the lack of decent infrastructure and thoughts that cycling is a dangerous activity only for the fit and foolhardy. 

Change that in a lifetime.

Describe a typical day in your volunteer role

Each day is very different. This week I have:

  • Planned and written a submission to Hampshire County Council to get some support for Confidence and Skills Sessions.
  • Downloaded the agenda for Rushmoor Cycle Forum AGM. I will be attending that meeting on Thursday evening.
  • Written to Surrey TV regarding video footage.
  • Been in touch with Breeze Riders concerning the ride that is going out this Saturday. 
  • Risk-assessed the aforementioned Breeze Ride with one of my cycling buddies.
  • Cancelled some of my paid work to go to the TABS conference in May.
  • Been to an exercise class with my Space for Cycling T-shirt on and talked about cycling with women in the changing rooms.
  • Had a chat with a fellow volunteer Charlie Halliday and discussed the merits of Isla and Frog bikes in Cycle magazine.

Of all the tasks you have helped with, what are you most proud of?

Getting more women cycling with the support of Rushmoor Borough Council and a few other ride leaders.

What do you get out of the experience of volunteering?

Volunteering and cycling is part of me and I do not really step out of it.

How has volunteering enhanced your passion for cycling and do you have the chance to get out more on your bike?

This is a very strange question. I suppose I do have a passion for cycling but not for going faster, getting the better bike, improving my performance; my bike is to get me about and I feel better and happier for riding about on it. 

Could you describe your volunteering experience in three words?

Volunteering is my way of being (ok that's 6 words but you get the idea). 

What would you say to someone considering volunteering with Cycling UK or its local groups supporting cycling?

I would include Cycling UK in my volunteering experience but would not restrict myself to that. It is best to volunteer for a variety of user groups to get a decent feel for where Cycling UK fits into it all. 


Find out more about becoming a volunteer