I’m Georgina Gaul from Wexford and I’m a Community Bike Ride Leader. This is a voluntary role. I completed my ‘Ride Leader’ training early in 2020 just before the Covid restrictions were put in place. I realised during lockdown that I had a skillset that I could use to offer people an option to get out and get active in a safe space.
Initially, It was a little scary because you really didn’t know if anyone at all would show up. I should never have worried, the rides are extremely popular and get booked out very quickly. There’s a maximum of 8 participants per ride leader. With an associate leader you can take up to 16 people.
I’ve met some really great people over the almost 2 years that I’ve been leading rides. I feel I’m the real winner. You definitely get back what you give. You only volunteer when you are free to do it. This could be once a week, once a month, once every two months. It’s entirely up to you. The ride leader gets to choose the route, the ride length, the date and start time. It’s very easy to fit into your own day to day life.
We have had some beautiful days out and the scenery is very often spectacular. It’s lovely being able to share that space in time with other people that genuinely appreciate it as much if not more than I do.
I’d go as far as to say I have made ‘friends’ with some of the people that have come out on the Community Bike Rides and I think that’s great.
During the Summer we try to do what we call ‘Destination Spins’ where we drive to our start point and cycle around a whole new change of scene and get to enjoy unfamiliar surroundings. I welcome input and ideas from the cycling participants. Who doesn’t love an adventure?
Initially, I wasn’t as confident bringing people out as I am now, this came with time. We suggest to people to practice on their friends and family if they are nervous about bringing strangers out. You don’t need to bring an entire group of 8 either. You can start with 2 or 3 people and as your confidence grows, your groups size can too.
If this is something you think you might like to do you can contact Cycling Ireland and submit your details. When a training course is being held close to your area, they will contact you and let you know. It’s really very straight forward. A free 1 day training course that anyone who can ride a bike is capable of completing. You will then need to get Garda Vetted through Cycling Ireland. Even though the rides are 18+ you may have a vulnerable adult on your ride.
Genuinely, It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I certainly haven’t looked back. My advice would be ‘Go for it!’
Gorey, Wexford, Ireland
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