From Breezing Along in the UK to Cycle-Touring Across France

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I loved being a volunteer leader for Breeze. It was just a few hours once a month and it gave me the structure I needed to get out of the house. I shouldn’t have needed an excuse to get out on my bike for two or three hours a month, but the truth is that I did.  

Cycling with other people was great fun, like being a kid again. Women would turn up with all the gear and there was always a sense of giddiness and excitement as we worked up to getting started. That was the point of Breeze: to encourage women to cycle in a friendly environment where they could enjoy riding traffic-free routes at their own pace.

Enter super-gran, “My dad never let me get on a bike as a kid, because I was a girl, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do”. She then needed a quick “m” check on her shiny white bike and her helmet altered before I could give her a “crash” course in cycling. Fortunately, she was amazing and had a broad smile that lit up her face when she cycled.  She gripped on to that bike for dear life and gave it her all, spinning like mad. A life-long ambition realised; super-gran was completely elated!  Seeing that smile on her face felt pretty good for me too.

After leading rides for a year, I managed to go further and further afield, cycling to the start point and back home again.  It was hard at times but as soon as I got on the bicycle, I was drifting away along the country lanes. Cycling once a month was a great escape. My only escape.

Ruth McIntosh

Ruth lives on the edge of Sheffield in a village in north-east Derbyshire. She didn’t choose to be a ride leader for Breeze because she was confident, she did it to commit time to cycling. Her life wasn’t very adventurous at that point, with the responsibilities of being a forty-something mum, teacher and wife being very demanding of her time and energy. Fortunately, she was about to re-discover herself and find a new sense of freedom. For Ruth, cycling brought new opportunities, a chance to daydream through fields of sunflowers and absorb the energy she had lost by bathing in nature.

Excerpt from BIKE Magazine, click here to continue reading the full Touring Across France article

April 2021

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