There are so many well-documented benefits to bicycling, it really is a mystery why we’re not all out there right now pedaling to our heart’s content — and for our health. Aside from increased cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and flexibility, cycling also leads to improved joint mobility and decreased stress levels. It’s affordable, easy and most of all, fun. Plus, there are plenty of local organizations available to help you get going, whether you’re looking for a social network for day trips and fun outings, longer rides or even more serious competitions. In other words, ready, set, PEDAL.
No matter where you’re based, there are many different clubs and organizations that offer different events, including casual weekly rides, competitions and even incredible charity events that give back to the community and those in need.
The Hamilton Cycling Club runs weekly club races and hosts the Ontario Cup-level Good Friday Road Race for enthusiasts young and old. This longstanding club has been operating since 1881! Despite their origins as a road cycling club, since 2010 they have taken serious steps to increase their involvement in mountain biking. One big part of this includes their efforts with the Hamilton Conservation Authority to build single track trails at Christie Lake Conservation Area.
Freewheel Cycle in Dundas offers a variety of weekly shop rides in the warm season and a number of special events throughout the year. With four different weekly rides, there’s a shop ride for everyone. And the best part: they’re free! Just sign the online event waiver, grab your helmet and bike and you’re good to go!
If you’re looking for recreational and touring type rides, you’ll want to look into joining the Ancaster Velo Club. They offer a friendly environment for structured group road riding where cyclists can improve their cycling skills and fitness, and enjoy cycling by associating with other cyclists. They have rides for almost everyone including easy-paced, mid-paced and fast-paced group rides. During peak cycling season, they offer two weekday rides starting at 6pm and weekend rides starting at 9am for each group.
The Share the Road Cycling Coalition is a provincial cycling advocacy organization dedicated to building a bicycle-friendly Ontario. They work in partnership with municipal, provincial and federal governments, the business community, road safety organizations and other non-profits to enhance access for bicyclists on roads and trails, improve safety for all bicyclists, and educate citizens on the value and importance of safe
bicycling for healthy lifestyles and healthy communities. Share the Road began in memory of OPP Sergeant Greg Stobbart, the husband of founder Eleanor McMahon, who was killed in a cycling tragedy in June 2006.
Share the Road works to engineer legislative change in Ontario, unite cycling organizations from across the province and work with and on behalf of municipalities to enhance their ability to make their communities more bicycle-friendly.
So, if you’re looking for an awesome, life-affirming exercise that provides more health benefits than you imagine, plus social interaction and a wonderful way to give back to those in need, cycling opportunities in our area are plentiful and provide you with all that and so much more.
by Allison Dempsey
Hamilton Cycling Club, Hamilton
Freewheel Cycle, Dundas
Ancaster Velo Club, Ancaster