Meet our volunteers: Charly Pearce, ride leader with Queers on Wheels
Charly, who is based in London, is a ride leader for Cycling UK affiliate group Queers on Wheels, which provides a safe space for people from the LGBTQ community to enjoy cycling together. She explains why she took on the role and what volunteering adds to her life.
We also tell you how your group can order some rainbow laces to celebrate Rainbow Laces Day on Wednesday 6 December.
What made you decide to volunteer your skills, time and energy to help other cyclists?
I really enjoy planning and dreaming about my next routes and adventures, taking inspiration from other riders or going out to check out a bridleway I’ve not been to yet.
Queers on Wheels is a predominantly London-based group, but we’re always up for exploring different pockets of the UK and beyond so I figured why not show them some of the spoils of my local area? Plus I’ve done plenty of rides where I’ve followed the leader so it’s only fair to take my turn!
How much time are you able to commit?
It’s just an ad-hoc thing for me really, mainly on weekends.
What is the impact of your volunteering?
If someone else catches the cycling bug as a result of having a nice time on a ride with us, that’s a big win.
I love cycling – both with groups and by myself. I love that there are so many different types or lengths of ride you can try, but it can be intimidating to get started.
It’s important that people see others from under-represented groups leading, learning, sharing knowledge, showing confidence
Charly Pearce, ride leader with Queers on Wheels
It’s a male-dominated sport – groups of men can be intimidating when you come from an under-represented group. Just showing up, being visible and taking on the ride leader role can give others confidence to be what they can see. I’ve heard plenty of women say that they lack the confidence to lead a group ride or even go for a ride alone.
I think it’s important that people see others from under-represented groups leading, learning, sharing knowledge, showing confidence.
What are the greatest challenges you have encountered?
Even though I’ve done a decent amount of self-supported long-distance bike tours, I’m actually really disorganised and let’s say… directionally challenged, so even when I have routes on my bike computer I get lost so much!
I’m very much used to that being part of the adventure but I know others can be frustrated by this. So when I’m leading a ride I worry that they will be frustrated if things don’t go to plan.
The other greatest challenge is a relentless headwind.
What are you most proud of?
Being part of a community which is actively encouraging others to try cycling in a fun and supportive way.
On one of our rides in Kent someone got a puncture who’d never fixed one before. Rather than one person muscling in, taking over and getting it done as quick as possible it was used as a teaching point to help the rider learn how to fix it themselves with guidance. I love that supportive atmosphere.
How has volunteering in cycling enhanced your own life?
I’m part of a community that’s both local and global and I love that.
Volunteering with QoW has helped me spread the love of cycling and pay forward some of the spare tubes, knowledge, tools and snacks that have been given to me over the years!
What would you say to someone considering volunteering in cycling?
You’ll make friends, make memories, share stories, feel good and enable more people to have adventures with nice folks.
You won’t regret it.
Find a volunteering opportunity
Whether you would like to lead rides, help organise events, set up and run a new cycling group, get involved in campaigning or complete small online tasks (micro volunteer) – we can support you to volunteer in a role and at a level that works for you.
Take a look at our volunteer pages to find an opportunity near you today.