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You want Change? Time to stand up and be counted!

This week's Blog post is by our Committee Member Alison McWhinney, our Safeguarding Officer.

I use my Italian Cyclo Parma shopping bike (complete with basket and panniers) for errands around Bangor.

Sunday cycling sessions see me partnering up with an experienced cyclist on a tandem. The first tandem rider is known as 'the Captain' and the second rider as 'the Stoker'. If we had a £1 for every time someone calls out 'she's not pedalling at the back' we could buy an e-tandem. I also use my Brompton folding bike to explore far-away greenways.

At the 2014 Brompton World Championships at Goodwood Motor Circuit I finished first in the "Dirndl Class" – which to be honest, had a single entry…

Last year I set up Gals on 2 Wheels as I understand how challenging it is to gain bike skills, confidence and experience to cycle safely on today's roads. My aim is to bring women and their families together, signpost cycling coaching opportunities while gaining cycling experience and having fun during a group ride.

Frustrated by the lack of cycling infrastructure across what Ards & North Down Borough Council declared 'The Cycling Friendly Borough' I felt the need to make more noise. Cycling friendships introduced me to Critical Mass campaigning and researched the concept.

Critical Mass is a form of direct action in which people travel as a group on bicycles at a set location and time. The idea is for people to group together to make it safe for each other to ride bicycles through their streets. The history of Critical Mass is explained here.

Critical Mass rides started in San Francisco and crossed the Atlantic to London. I decided to join the one in Belfast with buddies and had a great time.This turned out to be a fun family cycle, attended by a range or cyclists and bicyles, including bikes adapted to carry their owners’ beloved dogs. Whistles were sounding, we were all singing to the tunes belting out on a portable sound system and bike-dancing on our saddles. Never had I so much fun whilst riding my bicycle.

Fortunately, in March, cycling buddies came together for Bangor's first Critical Mass ride-out on a bright, cold and dry Sunday morning. The age groups ranged from kindergarten and primary school children to 70+ years old. We all enjoyed the scenic cycle loop, loud music, whistle blowing, bike-dancing, new cycling friendships and craic.

The second Bangor Critical Mass ride-out will take place on Sunday 28th April. This is an opportunity for like-minded cyclists to make their voice heard. This way, you not only take part in a social ride-out but also can lobby local government that more needs to be done to make ANDB a truly cycle-friendly borough: councillors need to follow through on what they promised us years ago!

Show your support in Bangor by coming together with a range of cycling friends. By doing so, we will have a fun group cycle and highlight to ANDB Council and to Stormont that Bangor citizens want to cycle safely everyday.

If you are a parent, why not share this information with your local primary, secondary school, college or youth organisation?

Here are the details:

  • Sunday, 28 April @ 9am: gather at the car-park opposite Bangor Train Station

  • 9.30am: depart on a flat scenic route of approximately 4km

  • Children must be aged 9+, be accompanied by a parent on the ride and be able to ride a bike at a pace fast enough to stay with the group

  • Fancy dress is optional, bring a whistle to make some noise. There will be music played en route

  • Jon the Pedaler will be at the start & end points to fix small bike problems

  • Around 10.30am the ride will finish at the McKee Clock. Bring a drink and a snack to eat and take the opportunity to chat and make new cycling friends.

  • Please note: neither I nor ANDCCG is organising this event - this is for information only. All participants ride at their own risk.

If you are interested in joining Gals on 2 Wheels or want some tips on how become a more confident cyclist, have a look at our group's Training page and ping me a message.

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