Active Devon’s Lorraine Harris writes about the Active Families Cycling project and how you can join in and feel the health and wellbeing benefits, whilst spending quality time with your family.
If Active Families had been available when I moved to Devon from Warwick nearly seven years ago, I would have jumped at the prospect of joining in.
I had two young children and moved away from family to an area which was unfamiliar and with no support network. I experienced highs and lows and socially, felt quite isolated. I’ve always enjoyed being active, but, with a new job and no close friends or family nearby to help with childcare, fitting activity into an already busy life was a struggle.
Any family time was spent playing with my children and doing all those mummy things. Whilst most of the time this was (and still is) lovely, it can also be mentally tiring.
Understanding what that feels like and knowing how Active Families could have helped, is why I’m so keen to spread the word of this fantastic project.
So, what is Active Families?
Active Families is a project Active Devon now offer. The concept has been born and developed from what was called Active Mums. In September 2015, Active Devon was commissioned by Devon County Council (Public Health & Sustainable Travel) to deliver an Active Mums cycling project.
The aim was to encourage and support more mums to cycle regularly for both health and active travel benefits.
The project was immensely popular and over the past three years Active Devon has supported over 300 mums and their young children.
The Active Families project will offer the same opportunities but now it’s open to mums, dads and grandparents, along with children. We’re keen for families to enjoy quality time together outdoors and feeling happier and healthier for it. Cycling is a great way to do this. To read more about how you can benefit from cycling, see here.
Free Adult Cycle Confidence Sessions
There are several ways you can join in.
To kick start the project we are offering free Adult Cycle Confidence Sessions. If you haven’t ridden a bike for a while or at all and want to boost your confidence or learn how to use a trailer, then this will be ideal for you. Here’s our poster which you can download and share.
They will be held in Tiverton, Newton Abbot and Exeter and will be taking place between the 5th August and the 22th August 2019.
There are three sessions taking place in each area and each session only has either three or four places available, so we suggest you book earlier to avoid disappointment. For specific dates, times, locations and booking go to
Family Cycle Rides
We will be relaunching Family Cycle Rides from September. The first rides will be taking place in Crediton, Newton Abbot and Wonford, Exeter. These rides provide a perfect opportunity for you to be active with your children, ride with other families and enjoy the outdoors together. You get to make new friendships and picnics are a big part of the rides too. It’s all very social and fun.
There’s a small charge of £3 which includes hire of the bikes and trailers, and rides are led by qualified instructors that go at the pace of the group. The rides are open to children up to five years old and they must be accompanied by an adult and ride in the trailers provided.
We’ve had some lovely comments and feedback on previous rides.
Here’s some of my favourite:
“I had hired bikes and a trailer once before with my husband and kids but had never thought I could cycle independently and use the trailer myself (not sure why now!). It has given me much more confidence in my own abilities and made me realise I can go out with just me and the kids. It was daunting signing up to a program when I didn’t know anyone but meeting like-minded mum’s and kids has been really good for me.”
“This project honestly is fantastic. I’m a busy working mum of two who rarely gets a moment to do anything for myself. Having an organised activity that involves spending time outside with your children, interacting with other mums and – really importantly- being active is perfect. I really looked forward to Wednesdays and went out regardless of the weather and just found it was good for my mental health and wellbeing.”
If you’re a qualified Ride Leader, or interested in becoming one, we’re keen to hear from you
One of the highlights of the project, for me, has been watching the journey of those involved. Going from never riding a bike in 10 years to competing in a local group cycling race, along with kids in trailers, I’ve also experienced that journey.
This is often one of the reasons Ride Leaders really enjoy doing what they do. You can be active outdoors with others, feeling happier and healthier, whilst giving families in your community, the same opportunity. To find out more, here’s our poster.
If you’re keen to get involved with our Active Families project or you’re interested in finding our more about becoming a Ride Leader, we’d love to hear from you, so please get in touch by emailing email@example.com or calling 01392 925150
I hope you have a wonderful summertime and happy cycling!
Lorraine Harris is a Project Officer at Active Devon.