Vicki's story: From nervous cyclist to community cycle club leader

Vicki Jackson and her community cycle club

Vicki's story: From nervous cyclist to community cycle club leader

Like many people, Vicki Jackson had always loved cycling but a fear of traffic and lack of confidence in her fitness meant that she was restricted to short distances and off-road routes. That all changed when Vicki went along to a Dr Bike session organised by Cycling UK and Hampshire County Council's sustainable travel programme.

After hearing about how Community Cycle Clubs aim to get more people active and socialising, Vicki immediately saw the potential for setting up a club at the Melrose Community Association in Basingstoke where she worked.

To get started, Vicki attended Cycling UK’s group ride leader, maintenance and bicycle fleet management training. She persuaded a good friend to join her and - with a new bike, a helping hand and pool of bikes to lend out to residents - Vicki was and ready to start her club.

That was back in July 2015 and since then Vicki has been offering weekday morning five-mile rides to encourage local residents to be more physically active, and for those who haven't cycled in a while to get back on their bikes. And she loves it!

The cycling club really is an all-round great motivator for a locally minded community like this one.

Vicki Jackson, Community Cycle Club Leader

“I have learned new skills and my own confidence in cycling and fitness levels have increased massively,” said Vicki.

“Before, I would have avoided cycling on roads because of fear, but I tackle them now. That said, I always incorporate a variety of cycle pathways and quiet roads into my routes. People on rides often face numerous barriers to cycling so supporting them to overcome these is a great way to serve local people.” 

In addition to the weekly rides for example, Vicki also offers she offers one-to-one skills coaching for those who lack confidence, might be a bit wobbly or feel otherwise intimidated.

“Providing a non-judgmental environment is important especially if somebody is used to being told they are too unfit or too fat," Vicki said. "I remember one person who, despite being constantly told that they weren’t up to it, took part in a series of one-to-one sessions with me. They enjoyed it so much. Their fitness levels increased, they bought themselves a bike and they are now cycling on their own. To me, that is a wonderfully empowering story.”

People on rides often face numerous barriers to cycling so supporting them to overcome these is a great way to serve local people.

Vicki Jackson, Community Cycle Club Leader

Vicki has also been motivated to use her knowledge from setting up the community cycle club and has now set up a Computer Hub for local residents to learn computer skills. Vicki is planning to target her computer group to promote the cycle rides and is already delivering family rides, as well as rides in partnership with the local branch of Slimming World.

“It’s really helpful for me if people turn up at Melrose and say, oh I’d like to go out cycling in a particular area as that prompts me to explore areas I hadn’t thought about. The cycling club really is an all-round great motivator for a locally minded community like this one,” Vicki said.

To find out more about Vicki's community cycling club, visit Melrose Community Association. For more information about Cycling UK's Community Cycle Club programme, please email Head of Development for England, Laura Hales.

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