By SOPHIE MCCARRICK [email protected]
When a person purchases a bike, the goal is to get active and fit. However, after a couple of cycling trips, most people end up storing the bike at the back of the garage and forget all about it.
With hopes of changing the fate of all forgotten bicycles in the Algarve, Paul Beesley, owner of Activity Algarve, formed a tri-weekly Get Back On Your Bike (GBOYB) group to encourage the local community to get back in the outdoor activity scene.
He told the Algarve Resident: “When I first started the business back in 2004, I never dreamt there would be such a market for weekly bike rides. But we’ve seen a dramatic increase in numbers as people generally have realised that cycling is a great way to keep fit.
“However, there is still a bit of a misconception as people think they have to be ultra fit to enjoy this fantastic activity, which they don’t. So last September we started GBOYB and it has been a real success.”
The sport of cycling has recently been hit with a boom of interest and is worldwide becoming ever more popular.
The European Cyclists Federation states that if you “cycle for an hour you will live an hour longer”. True or not, this has been backed by the National Health Service (NHS) which says that there are undeniable mental and physical benefits from cycling such as weight loss, stress reduction and improved fitness levels.
The GBOYB group is all about encouraging people to get out of their “unactive” ways, enjoy the natural pleasures that the Algarve’s countryside has to offer and, most of all, to stay fit and healthy while making new friends in an enjoyable atmosphere.
Riders of the group range from ages 16 to 70 and all have different cycling abilities, however, they all enjoy the same experience.
A regular rider of the group, David French, said: “I joined GBOYB and soon became hooked. Besides spending a very pleasant few hours on a Sunday morning, you get to see parts of the Algarve that you would never normally see. It’s extremely sociable and it certainly moves your fitness on. I’ve just completed a coast-to-coast ride of 215 miles back in the UK – something I would never have done without the experience of my Sunday rides. Not bad for someone who is 59!”
Recent cancer sufferer Veronica Walker, who is also part of the team with her husband Alan, said: “When we joined GBOYB I was concerned about my fitness as I had been ill and also had some chemo which had left me very weak. The cycling did me a world of good – I got stronger and stronger as the weeks went by.
“My husband has had two knee replacements and he also found his legs getting stronger. We both enjoy the company of the other cyclists – they never made us feel awkward about being beginners. I very much appreciated the way Ray Sweeper helped the stragglers at the back; he has such a good attitude and helped me a lot,” she concluded.
Easy to challenging
ides with GBOYB are weekly starting from various points along the Central Algarve and prior to all rides, participants subscribed to the group’s mailing list will receive overviews of the upcoming routes.
Every Sunday morning, rides alternate between easy and intermediate routes, and Wednesday evenings present an intermediate but fast paced route for cyclists, with the only challenging ride taking place on a Saturday morning.
To take part, it costs €5 per person and cyclists then just need to turn up with their own bike and helmet.
Diane Lowe, a cyclist from the group, said: “I am completely hooked on the rides. They have helped me gain back fitness after a health scare last year. I love the outdoors and I can’t think of a better way to really take in and appreciate what the ‘real Algarve’ has to offer. With like-minded people, it’s all smiles and laughs on the rides. You just come away with a real feel good factor.”
Group leader Samantha Diamond said: “They say you never forget how to ride a bike, so if you have ever ridden one (and even if you haven’t we can teach you), why not just try it? It could, after all, make you live longer!”
For more about Activity Algarve and the GBOYB rides, please contact Samantha Diamond on: 914 665 870 or email: [email protected] or visit their Facebook page by searching ‘Activity Algarve Bike Rides’. Keep posted about their events by checking the Algarve Resident’s weekly What’s On section.