There's no stopping Earlston's Rusty Bikers
You never forget how to ride a bike but getting back in the saddle is often not easy.
Enter the Rusty Bikers, a cycling group in Earlston made up of people who haven’t riden for years yet who own a bike which is only gathering dust in the garage.
The wheels of this particular initiative have just started to turn and those involved are wondering just how far it will go.
“The original idea came about where all the best ones come from – the pub,” said Trevor Bryant, a local cycling coach who works with schools and organised community bike rides.
“We were having a meeting of the Earlston Community Development Trust about six months ago, talking about organising a bike race for youngsters and someone said they wouldn’t mind getting back on their bikes.
“I went home, set up a Facebook page and within a week we had 15 people signed up – now we have 25.
“It really was a case of them getting their rusty bikes out. I replaced a few inner tubes and did a lot of oiling and greasing.
“We did an initiation session in one of the local school playgrounds just to make sure everyone was safe.
“But it didn’t really take off until recently when the weather was better, running on a Wednesday and Thursday evening.
“We have a lot of young mums, and a few others, and they are loving it.
“There’s a lot of talk about who’s got the sorest saddle and there’s quite a bit of chattering on the Facebook page about who climbed what hill and who kept going through the rain.
“It has such a social element to it and that’s the key thing.
“There is no way people race home from work at 5pm, give the kids there tea and go out cycling without some peer group pressure.
“That motivation from their friends is the catalyst.”
Affectionately known as Rusties, grown-ups are also welcome to bring their children along, who are nicknamed Shinies.
Starting with easy rides around the Cauldie Mill Meadow, the group has already tackled more demanding local hills and has a ride to Mellerstain and a trip to Glentress planned for the near future.
Margaret Powell of Earlston admits that she didn’t have much of an exercise routine before joining the Rusty Bikers.
But after a few months of weekly bike rides, she is really enjoying it and feeling fitter.
Mum-of-one Margaret (52) said: “I drive to work, sit in an office all day and then come home. As the wee one has got older, he goes out with his friends more in the evening so it’s easy to slip into a habit of not doing much at all.
“The Rusty Bikers is really social and very relaxed, and it’s just a case of going on Facebook and asking if anyone fancies a bike ride.
“It’s great and my son comes along too. With other people being involved, it definitely spurs you on.”
Fellow Rustie Lucy Couper (47) said the group is “great fun” and enjoys it when son Cameron joins in.
She said: “I have a bike but could count on one hand the number of times it had been used. I wouldn’t push myself to go out and ride if it wasn’t for everyone else.
“I cycled from Earlston to Lauder with my son recently which was insane but we did it.
“The group is now really building up our stamina. We take on the hills and it’s hard but you know that everyone is finding it hard, so you keep going.
“It’s really all thanks to Trevor, he’s a great coach and a wonderful motivator.”
Trevor, who is a British Cycling Activity coach and mountain bike trail leader with Cycling UK, believes that the idea could now move up a gear.
He added: “We have invited people from Lauder and Blainslie area to join our Facebook page so they can follow the banter and find out when our next adventures are taking place.
“We are not a formal or affiliated club, have no committee, and it is completely free.
“We just want people to come along, have fun on a bike and enjoy the benefits to health and well-being that cycling can bring.”
Members of the group are now getting so involved in the activity that the name of the project may have to change, as all the bikes are no longer rusty!
Lucy added: “I am actually investing in a new bike, and I know two of the other women who have new bikes.
“We are all really enjoying it.”
To find out more, visit the Rusty Bikers’ Cycle Group on Facebook.