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Meet Pedal Power's latest ambassador
AN IMPORTANT part of the Guardian’s Pedal Power campaign is sharing stories about Northwich cyclists and why they enjoy life on two wheels.
We like to call these people our Pedal Power Ambassadors, as by agreeing to tell their tale they can inspire more readers to hop on a bike and give it a go.
Our first Pedal Power Ambassador was Claire O’Brien, who started cycling for a charity challenge and is now a keen member of Weaver Valley Cycling Club, as well as a safety campaigner and a big part of the inspiration for our own Pedal Power.
We have also featured everyday cyclists Mike and Sue Hornby, who like to use their bikes as an uncomplicated form of transport for short trips.
This week we would like to introduce Hartford man Guy Rands, whose life has been transformed by the humble bicycle.
WHEN Guy Rands injured his knee playing rugby nine years ago, cycling became a vital spoke in his rehabilitation process.
Now the sport has become integral to the 39-year-old’s life – as a hobby, in his family life, at work and as a way of inspiring others.
“Although, like most people, I’ve always cycled and had a bike from a young age it was only really when I got injured when I was 30 and had to have reconstruction on my left leg that I had to make the decision whether to continue with rugby or not,” said Guy, a deputy headteacher at The Grange School, in Hartford.
“I decided not to but I wanted to get back to full fitness from other sports.
“So I used the three disciplines of running, swimming and cycling to improve my leg strength and maintain cardio vascular fitness.”
Guy, who likes a challenge, started to compete in sprint triathlons, gradually increasing the distances until he was able to take part in Olympic-distance triathlons of 1,500m swimming, 40km cycling and 10km running.
He also took part in his first half ironman event last year.
But the married dad-of-three is equally as happy swapping his road bike for a mountain bike and hitting the trails in Delamere Forest with his sons James, 11, Edward, six, and William, two.
“There’s a number of reasons why I enjoy cycling,” he said.
“For me there’s nothing better than getting up first thing on a Sunday morning when everyone else is asleep and going out when it’s just getting light and there’s no-one on the road.
“You also get to see so much when cycling –you’re seeing the world from a slightly higher position and can enjoy the spaces around you.
“Cycling can be demanding from a cardio-vascular point of view but you can ride at a pace you want to and it’s broadly accessible to most people.
“And it reminds me of being a kid.”
Guy is also busy inspiring the next generation after setting up a cycling club at The Grange, taking small groups of sixth form students on Wednesday afternoon bike rides both on and off road.
“I was surprised by how many students chose to take part,” he said, “And I was surprised by how many of them enjoyed it.
“I’ve decided to expand it next year, both the time they can ride for and hopefully encourage even more people to take part.”
He added: “I believe passionately about the benefits of exercise.
“Anything that gets people exercising on a regular basis is essential.
“Part of the reason why I’m keen to support the Pedal Power campaign is that anything we can do to inspire anyone to exercise more regularly has got to be a good thing – it’s a no brainer in my mind.”
Guy has discovered a talent for helping others to set themselves goals and go on to achieve them.
So much so that he has set up a not-for-profit company, the technical term is a Community Interest Company (CIC), which he’s called Concept X.
“I had been organising things for friends to great effect and I thought if I set up a CIC what that allows me to do is formalise that and also raise funds to stage events,” he said.
“I want to inspire more people to get out, get fit, feel good and do some good.
“Concept X is about designing a variety of outdoor physical activities for people to take part in.”
He explained that a CIC was different to a limited company because it is about community benefit, not private advantage.
His first big event is a coast-to-coast bike ride in one day, on August 17, and he is looking for cyclists to join him.
There is an entry fee of £60, which gives riders access to advice, guidance, expertise, workshops and route planning from Guy, as well as going towards the organisation of future events.
He is also keen to work with individuals and teams on events they have in mind but need some help to organise.
Guy said: “It’s about taking someone’s ideas and making it happen for them.
“By organising something for someone else and help to realise their dream, hopefully it will inspire them to share their dream with others.”
To get in touch with Guy email firstname.lastname@example.org.