Retiree pedaling cycling to peers

Sustrans ranger and retired teacher Olwyn Fonseca is spreading the two-wheeled gospel among fellow retirees.

Olwyn Fonseca, a liaison ranger for UK sustainable transport charity Sustrans, set up a week-long series of routes in York to encourage older people to become more active.

The gentle rides included a mid-point cuppa and proved so popular with adults of all ages that they will now take place every month.

Mrs Fonseca, who has been retired for 18 years, said: "Most people think cycling clubs are for those who point their nose down to the floor and power along at high speeds but this group is all about providing a gentle way for people to get back on their bikes, and improve their health in a fun way.

"They were originally set to run for one week but we had riders turning up to two, three or even four of the five rides so there was obviously a regular need.

"The routes are undemanding and are an ideal way for people to discover the National Cycle Network. We take our time getting around and people are often surprised to find out at the end that they have cycled ten miles."

Rides are scheduled for the first Friday of each month, and the first took place in November along the National Cycle Network from Clifton Bridge to Shipton. The next event will run from Millennium Bridge to York University on December 7.

More than 2,400 rangers help Sustrans maintain the cycling and walking routes around the country, and around 150 are liaison rangers like Mrs Fonseca, who co-ordinate local groups and act as the link between Sustrans, local authorities and groups of rangers.

Liaison rangers encourage their group to organise workdays and cycle rides, keep the group motivated and up to date, organise sociable meetings and manage relationships with local land owners, signing authority and Sustrans staff.

You can get more information on route mapping or even volunteering via the Sustrans website.

Sustrans needs your help

The cycling charity is currently asking riders to support its bid for £50million in National Lottery money.

The organisation's Connect2 programme aims to transform local travel, by making it easier to walk and cycle for everyday journeys, bringing significant health and environmental benefits.

Connect2 consists of 79 projects to create practical and accessible walking and cycling routes around the UK. The programme is up against five other organisations competing for the £50million grant in the Big Lottery Fund's Living Landmarks: The People's Millions competition.

The winner will ultimately be decided by a TV vote in December 2007. To find out more about Connect2, and to register your support, visit the Connect2 website or text Connect2 to 80010.

© BikeRadar 2007

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