Farcycles provides a home for cyclists in South West Oxfordshire
The Farcycles is not a club but a community affiliated to Cycling UK (formerly the CTC). The community is made up of people who like to cycle in a group but in a less formal way than the mainstream organisations and clubs. In other words, it is a bunch of like-minded bikers, both female and male, who join up for the companionship of riding together.
Unlike the more formal organisations, we do not ask for subscriptions to The Farcycles. This means that we only carry insurance for organisers and helpers. We do, therefore, expect individuals to make their own arrangements as they see fit (this is probably most easily obtained by joining Cycling UK: https://www.cyclinguk.org/). Affiliate membership of Cycling UK can be obtained at a substantial discount by using Farcycles’ membership of that organisation (almost half price).
There is also no formal leader for individual rides although routes are circulated to a list of friends in advance (and nominated individuals are allocated to being as helpful as possible on each specific outing). The routes are completely optional suggestions – the way the route-setter might go if he or she was on the ride - it is each person’s choice if he or she wants to follow the suggested route.
The routes are devised to try to cater for a wide range of skills. What we have found in the past is that many people are intimidated by the idea of participating but very quickly realise that they are capable of a lot more than they thought they were.
For this reason we try to encourage budding cyclists to participate in entry level rides if they are in any doubt as to whether they can tackle the longer distances. Most cyclists soon decide they want to go further and the longer routes are the most popular.
Because none of the rides is formally led, individuals are encouraged to look out for each other. To date, this has been Farcycles’ strength. However, our laissez faire approach does not, in any way, mean that any cyclist should behave with anything other than the utmost respect for other road users and for each other’s safety. All cyclists are recommended to look at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/DG_069837 for guidelines on how to use the road, singly or in a group.
All current rides start from Faringdon’s Market Place. We generally go out on every Saturday of the year, irrespective of the weather. This is made possible because our list of friends runs to about 160 households of whom 20-30 people turn out on any particular week.
The core Saturday rides all start promptly at 9 am. These are:
• A “Blue” ride of 20-25 miles that aims to travel at 12-13 mph.
• A “Red” ride of 40+ miles that often follows some of the same route as the Blue ride, with some extensions. Depending upon who turns out on a particular day, the Red ride has a splinter “Violet” group that travels at 13-14 mph, with the keen beans usually averaging 15-18 mph.
Additional, more casual rides are held during the warmer months on Sundays, (currently at 11 am)
• A short ride of 10-12 miles which usually stops for tea (or a beer) along the way. This ride is known as Dust Off Your Bike (DOYB) and is designed to get people back on the cycles or to help those who want to start riding from the beginning. The ride host will decide on the route on the day, making a judgement on the capabilities of the participants.
A Farcycles representative takes part in all three rides to encourage participation and provide some level of assistance. Because we don’t ask anybody to commit to pitching up on any particular day, people who are keen to go for the two shorter rides are encouraged to use the Facebook group to communicate with each other to ensure they have companions for any given ride. We BCC the weekly email list to avoid it being picked up and used for spam.
Occasionally we also organise special events ranging from the mildly competitive to the very laid back, such as pub rides. Have a look at our Facebook page for pictures (and, by all means, load your own). Oh, and in good weather we may also go for a bit of off-roading on Wednesday evenings.
Our flagship event is the annual Farcycle FollyFest Sportive that provides a platform for cyclists to challenge themselves in a sociable way and that raises money for local cycling infrastructure.
Finally, the Farcycles came together to promote cycling in our area because it is fun and it is healthy. It is also very sociable and many new friendships have formed from its existence. Everyone is welcome. Just pitch up when you feel like it. There is no commitment other than a smile and to look after your own wellbeing and that of your fellow travellers.