Take to your bikes this winter

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As the leaves turn brown and the dark days and nights creep in, Lee Valley Regional Park – in cooperation with Epping Forest District Council – will be running a series of enjoyable, weekly Cycling For Health bike rides this wintertime, encouraging visitors to get outdoors, get fit and stay healthy on just two wheels whilst enjoying the park.

The first two-hour, guided bike ride of the series begins this week on Wednesday 2 November, departing from Fishers Green Car Park in Waltham Abbey at 10.00. Meeting points for subsequent rides include Chingford Plain, Nazeing’s Clayton Hill Country Park and the London in Bloom 2016 award winning site Gunpowder Park, recently honoured with gold level scores and named ‘Country Park of the Year’.

Cycling Back of group

Cyclists lucky enough to own a bike will need to pay just £3.50 to join one of the 20 group rides scheduled until the end of March. Riders eager to join but without wheels are welcome to hire a helmet and bike for just £7.00 per person which includes the ride fee.

Matt Ewings, Cycling Development Officer at Lee Valley Regional Park Authority said:

“The Cycling for Health programme provides lots of opportunities to not only get outdoors and get fit, but to meet new people and discover new cycle routes throughout the park. Even if the weather is a little grey and wet, cyclists will enjoy the park’s varied landscape and ever active wildlife. We hope the programme encourages our new and regular visitors to cycle in the beautiful park.”

The park will also host a special Bike Maintenance Workshop at Gunpowder Park from 9.30 until 15.00 on Wednesday 23 November, offering cyclists expert advice and tuition on how to look after themselves and their bikes. The two-hour indoor workshop will include bike safety checks, guidance on how to change a wheel’s inner tube, demonstrations on brake and gear adjustment and tutoring on the upkeep of a bike’s drive chain.

Participants at the workshop will then set off for a rewarding two-hour ride to explore the surrounding area and stop off for lunch at a local café on the route. Places for this special event are limited and booking is essential – cyclists are advised to secure their place in advance for

the price of £13.50 per person. Riders attending the workshop will also receive a complimentary bike puncture repair kit.

Covering distances between 10-15km, every group ride has been categorised into either an easy, medium or hard difficulty level taking into account the route’s gradient and will also venture across a variety of ground terrains such as tarmac, solid earth and redgrow. In addition to discovering new cycle routes, participants can also take advantage of the session’s rest break to refuel and meet their fellow riders.

Cycling offers numerous health benefits for riders, young and old, regardless of experience or difficulty. Hopping onto a bike for just one hour a day can burn up to approximately 650 calories – the equivalent of two large slices of pizzas or a bowl of luxury ice cream.

In addition to keeping riders fit, cycling can also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease – one of the UK’s biggest killers taking over 160,000 lives a year – by up to 50%, whilst improving mental health and wellbeing.

To book your place, visit www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/cyclingforhealth or call 01992 564226 for more information.