‘I could only manage three miles when I started’: Amazing success of North Walsham cycling club

North Walsham Velo members gather at the town's Market Cross before one of their Sunday morning ride

North Walsham Velo members gather at the town's Market Cross before one of their Sunday morning rides. Picture: NORTH WALSHAM VELO - Credit: Archant

A cycling club set up two years ago in north Norfolk by friends who wanted to lose weight and get fitter now has some 120 members.

Every Sunday morning dozens of cyclists gather at North Walsham's Market Cross to take part in North Walsham Velo's weekly rides.

Members travel from as far afield as Fakenham, Great Yarmouth, Norwich and Holt, according to club chairman Duncan Hood.

But the popular club is struggling to find somewhere it can call 'home' and expand.

'We currently finish all our rides at the King's Arms Hotel and they have been superb hosts – but we need premises where we can house training bikes, hold maintenance and repair sessions, and where members can meet,' said Mr Hood.

There seemed to be nothing suitable in North Walsham and their only remaining hope lay in a piece of Spa Common land owned by North Walsham Town Council.

'We are in discussions with the council, but we haven't heard anything for a while,' he added. 'We're a North Walsham-based club and we'd like to find somewhere in North Walsham if we can,' said Mr Hood.

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He said the club had evolved after a conversation with a friend, Graeme Turner, about cycle rides and in a bid to get fitter. When they first began, Mr Hood could only manage about three miles, but had steadily increased his fitness and stamina.

Now the club organises rides aimed at differing levels of ability, from 10 miles up to 100 miles, taking cyclists all over the Norfolk countryside.

'We have people who just used to cycle socially and now do 100 mile rides. Everyone has improved their fitness and lost weight, as well as made new friends' said Mr Hood.

Last year four members had qualified for the presigious UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) World Championships in Perth, Australia. Two went and one, Gemma Williams, finished in an impressive 17th place.

The club has also recently appointed a welfare officer, meaning that they could now expand even further, recruiting members under the age of 18, and taking vulnerable people on rides.

Anyone who can help with a possible site for the club or wishing to join can contact Mr Hood on 07551 00 59 56 or visit www.northwalshamvelo.co.uk

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