EACH week the Guardian’s Pedal Power campaign aims to inspire our readers to cycle.
We offer advice, tips, news of events and stories of mid Cheshire’s existing cyclists, who we call our Pedal Power Ambassadors as we share their experiences with our readers.
This week we feature a Pedal Power Ambassador who epitomises our campaign as he has been so inspired by cycling that he is encouraging his colleagues to embrace a life on two wheels.
A TEACHER is inspiring a different generation as he ventures out of the classroom and timetables in cycling for his colleagues.
Simon Howells, head of French at The Grange School, in Hartford, has set up a cycling club for workmates called Vélo Club Grange.
“It’s the chance to socialise with people you work with in a completely different context,” he said.
“It’s showing people that there are all these nice places you can go and ride bikes in Cheshire – some of the routes around here are amazing.
“And it’s particularly about showing people that they can do it, it’s not difficult.
“If I can do it, they can – I’m not a brilliant cyclist by any stretch of the imagination but I enjoy it.”
Simon, 36, only started cycling about eight years ago when he bought a hybrid bike through the Cycle to Work scheme at his former school in Cheadle Hulme.
He quickly got bitten by the bug and found himself doing a 180-mile Coast-to-Coast ride with his workmates.
Before long Simon bought a road bike, started doing sportives and, on moving back to mid Cheshire, joined Weaver Valley Cycling Club.
Simon, who lives in Sandiway and has been at The Grange for three years, said: “I love cycling because I like being out in the fresh air and you see things you wouldn’t see normally.
“It’s a really good way to get to know Cheshire by cycling round the lanes.
“I love the ‘moment’ you get when you’re cycling – once I stopped and saw a big buzzard sitting in a field.
“I watched it for about five minutes and it was an amazing thing to see and something I wouldn’t have seen if I wasn’t on my bike.
“You never go out on your bike and think ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’.
“Everyone’s got their own version of cycling and different things that appeal to them.
“Some are competitive, some like to go to the shops by bike, some like mountain biking – I like being outside and feeling like I’m doing something healthy.”
Velo Club Grange goes out in the school holidays and Simon makes sure there is a shorter route and a longer route for cyclists, which share the same cafe stop in the middle.
“It’s been really good so far,” he said.
“We’ve had six or seven out each time but are hoping to build it up.
“On the first ride I’ve never seen as much rain in my life, the weather has been bad.
“I’m expecting a few more out in better weather.”