Active Travel Tales – It’s Good For You!

There were some very satisfied looking riders in The Hub last week as the news story broke that Theresa May had conducted a major study and realised that cycling had major health benefits!…

The real story about cycling’s health benefits came from a study by Glasgow University. It found that regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41%, the incidence of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46%. It was great to see the report shared widely across national newspapers and news media to add to the messages and research that Sustrans have been producing for many years.

So how can you go about cycling more?

As many of our members can tell you first hand, cycling has brought benefits to their lives in many ways beyond just the certified health benefits. We understand that not everyone will become a cyclist overnight so we have a number of different rides and services to help you become more confident and motivated to cycle at your own speed.

The first step is very important. Simply come and give it a go! Our Easy Riders ride is set up to welcome people who haven’t cycled for a long time or aren’t very confident cycling. You don’t need to worry about cycling in to the Hub to join the ride. To begin with, use whatever transport is most comfortable for you and borrow a bike from us for the ride. The rides only cover 5 or 6 miles and include a café stop halfway. And the speed is controlled so that nobody is left behind. Many of our volunteers and participants have all been in the same position as yourselves – you might start off unsure how to use your bike or how far you will get on your bike, but over time you will realise just how much your confidence will have grown. Come for a ride and a coffee and you’ll see how much our volunteers relate to your situation!

What the report won’t have told you is how good some of the cycling infrastructure is in the Tees Valley. Admittedly there is room for improvement, but I was pleasantly surprised that I could get from the Hub in Stockton to Hemlington Lake, almost entirely on cycle paths. Another benefit of joining our rides is that you might suddenly realise how many great places can be reached safely from your doorstep.

Weekend Family Ride/Easy Ride

It was great to see some new faces, both young and old, enjoying being on 2 wheels on our ride at the weekend. We stopped to feed the ducks in Ropner Park before using the greenway along the railway line to get to Preston Park. Away from the road it was great to see the younger riders really riding with freedom. Please encourage your family and friends to look out for our family rides throughout the year. As proved, cycling is a good habit to get into at any stage in your life!

Stepping Out In Stockton – Malton Away Day

88 walkers enjoyed another good Away Day last Friday under the guidance of our committed walk leaders. The trip was nearly at full capacity and everybody completed the 3 mile walk along the River Derwent. Even a stray young cyclist joined the troop for a while although that was because he’d taken a tumble from his bike in the woods! As the Glasgow study concluded, regularly walking also benefits your health. If you wish to participate in any ‘Stepping Out In Stockton’ walks please visit us in the Hub to get the walk programme for May and June.

Many thanks to all the volunteers who make our activities possible. You make many people very happy each and every week.

The Hub Team.

Active Travel Tales – Re-sprung

Irish trip1

It has been a while since our last blog post, probably because it has been a busy couple of weeks with lots of rides, walks, and sunshine. I can’t not mention the sunshine!

Unfortunately, the one walk from Norton Medical Practise that I did get to join got hit by the rain! However, because of the other good weather we’ve already had nobody seemed to think anything of it. The route made up for the weather with some lovely quiet paths away from the roads and crossing the fields around Lustrum Beck. Please get in touch if this sounds like your cup of tea!

Back at The Hub, we were busy last Thursday hosting some Sustrans employees from Belfast who were interested in the Hub’s work formula. This included meeting some of our great volunteers, from the mechanics performing M.O.Ts, to the Pedal On volunteers and participants. Eric gets a mention yet again for making everyone feel welcome and comfortable (…) by arriving in an outfit of shades of emerald and green just for the occasion! Please come into The Hub to see the group photo taken on the day which I can’t post here because I haven’t got everybody’s permission.

Finally, a warm welcome to our new volunteer mechanic Chris! Mountain bikes are his main area of interest but he has shown he’s very capable with any bike, recycling donated bikes to be given away to those in need. He has also been busy alongside our other volunteer mechanics keeping The Hub fleet of bikes in good nick!

Thanks to everyone involved over the past couple of weeks.

The Hub


Billie Fleming Tribute Ride

On Saturday, 8 riders enjoyed 40 sun filled miles as a tribute to the wonderful Billie Fleming, who died in 2014, aged 100.

In 1938, Billie, on her Rudge bicycle, cycled every day for one whole year, clocking up almost 30,000 miles. On a typical day, she would cycle between 80 and 100 miles on her 3 speed bicycle.

It goes to show that you don’t need an expensive bike to enjoy cycling, just some motivation to give it a go! In return you can be rewarded with a great tan, a sense of achievement, some new cycle pals and adventures to new and beautiful places not far from your home!

Billie Fleming ride 08.04.17

Away Day Walk – Malton and Old Malton.



Friday 21st April 2017

Come with us to visit the very beautiful village of Malton and Old Malton. This walk follows a circular 3.0 mile route around the village and returns beside the ever lovely River Derwent.

With two hours approximately after the walk, you will have a wealth of things to do as Malton has a deserved reputation, as THE food destination in North Yorkshire. From delightful patisserie, and traditional sweet shops, to the Talbot Yard Food Court, you’ll not be short of things to do and eat!

Bookings can be made on Tuesday 4th April for The Friends of Stockton Health Walks members, and Thursday 6th April for non-members. Don’t hang around – I think these tickets will go quickly!

Coaches will leave Ragworth Neighbourhood Centre at 9.30am and will arrive back at approx. 3.30pm.

Tickets are £6 for members and £8 for non-members.

Call 07528 326094 to secure your booking.

Come and have a grand day out with us!


A familiar sight, in unfamiliar scenery.

DSCN0018Above is the familiar sight of our volunteer Eric in his Hub Marshals Jersey… on the Isle of Bute in Scotland! Eric has taken the Hub to many places over the years and this time found himself completing a ‘wonderful, 100 miles over the 3 days in glorious sunshine and often spectacular scenery’ on the Isles of Bute and Cumbrae.

Eric thanked one of The Hub riders Alston who mapped out his routes on Bute, (he spent the first 18 years of his life holidaying on the island) and Sustrans for providing a route around the cycle friendly Island of Cumbrae.

Thanks Eric for sharing your experience!

Active Travel Tales – Come Dine With Eric

With some lovely weather this week, our riders have been out putting Stockton’s cafés under pressure with bumper orders!

‘Easy Riders’ leader, Eric, shared his ‘Come Dine With Me’ style story following Thursday’s ride which took in the Newtown Community Resource Centre.

The tale begins with Eric entering the café – eager as a dog with a bone – to order his coffee. Fortunately, the walking group already sat in the café, opportunely finished their drinks and departed allowing the Easy Riders to converge on the counter on mass. A small snag in the café hit and run/cycle plan, was that the café’s boiler was out of action. This meant that a kettle was the sole source of all beverages but could only produce enough for 3 cups of coffee at a time. Orders came and went and Davey got in ahead of Eric’s order and so did everyone until poor Eric was last to be served! Is this how we treat our Ride Leaders! Eric had to resort to pouring cold water into his finally produced coffee so that he could finish it quickly and resume the ride!

I won’t share Eric’s rating for his coffee because we don’t want it to reflect on the community centre and because Davey is to blame! Let us know how you all rated the ride. Thank you to the Newtown Community Resource Centre for accommodating all the riders.

In other news, we had new riders across all of the rides and new members joining the bike parking at the Hub, so an all-round positive week for cycling! This Sunday sees the first weekend Hub ride of the year. The ride circles Teesside Airport covering 19.5 miles leaving the Hub at 10:30am. Please get in touch if you want to come along, we’d be glad to have you!

The Hub


Meet The Volunteers – Ian.


This is the first of a number of interviews and conversations with our prized volunteers and participants from the Hub. The idea is to give people thinking about volunteering or joining our activities a feel of what it means to be: a member of the Hub, a cyclist, a walker, a volunteer.

As anybody who knows Ian would expect, this ‘interview’ consisted of a number of questions but in the course of the conversation that ensued, only three formal questions were asked! I have structured Ian’s thoughts and insights under headers as well as the questions we got round to answering.


Opening Question: Which one feature of cycling has had the biggest impact on your life?

Ian: “The most recent impact I’ve received from cycling was in my recovery from surgery. I had cancer of my kidney and had to have an operation to remove it. Because I was a cyclist I was fit and healthy and my anaesthetist guaranteed me I would be out in 3 days. Sure enough I was!”

Now the conversation followed the switchbacks in Ian’s train of thought:

“I don’t really like walking much but cycling is great and keeps you fit, although I don’t do it to keep fit. The solo side to cycling is my favourite part of it. Going out on your own is always an adventure and it clears your mind and is just great! To go through the countryside faster than walking but slower than a car is the right speed. You can see so much more. And I love the simplicity of it.”

His enjoyment for bike simplicity includes bike mechanics. Ian has cycled in on a beautiful old style racer – I wish I could remember the exact name of it – full of enthusiasm for the mechanics of it and the paraffin lamp attachments (really cool!). Alongside loving to ride bikes, he loves engineering and mechanics and recently built a bike for £18! That was the outcome of his personal ‘perfectly cheap project’ as he puts it. That and the bikes he’s owned for thirty years (with no sign of age) are the proof that cycling doesn’t have to be expensive and any investments that you do make can go a long way. His most expensive bike costs less than the exhaust system in his motorbike!


Question Two: The Hub couldn’t survive without volunteers. Why do you give up your time to it?

“Because I’m sad! Well me and Caz have been members of the Hub from the beginning and I started volunteering after I had my knee done and I was out of work. It’s just to put something back because I love Stockton.”

On the subject of inclusivity:

“I also love the inclusivity of cycling and volunteering for the Hub supports that. When you ride a bike nobody knows who you are or what you do and everyone becomes the same – apart from the bike snobs. It breaks barriers because you are no longer dressed in a suit or your workmans clothes and we have all sorts of people coming together and enjoying cycling together.”

“On that point I don’t understand why people worry about joining a cycle group and holding people up. People don’t worry about that on a park run so why worry about it cycling.”

“I used to enjoy organising rides fortnightly for people at my workplace going out to Ripley. A lot of people there didn’t have much interest in things but we did the rides for a good while and it was great. That’s what I like doing too – getting people into cycling.”

Some swear words have been removed from the dialogue.

Many thanks to Ian for complying with my questions. If anybody fancies taking the hot seat over the next two weeks please get in touch.

Ian Interview Im

Away Day Walk – Helmsley.


Friday 17th March 2017

The popular Away Day Walks continue with this months offering, a walk around the beautiful village of Helmsley.

The route is a circular walk of 2.9 miles that leaves Helmsley for a walk through the woods, before returning over the fields and beside a stream.

Helmsley has some wonderful places to eat and have a coffee and you will have a full two hours to wander around after the walk to experience these.

The coaches for this trip will leave Ragworth Neighbourhood Centre at 9.30am and arrive back at approx. 3.30pm.

Tickets for this trip are £6 for members and £8 for non-members. Non-members can book from Thursday 2nd of March.

Book your place for this wonderful trip to Helmsley call on 07528 326 094, and we’ll see you there!

The Show Must Go On

The arrival of Storm Doris caused a stir in the Hub on Thursday morning. Paul sat slumped in his chair analysing the weather report, face sullen at the thought of having to cancel the popular ride. Captain Colin was popping outside every 10 minutes with his windometer for a spot check because, “it just couldn’t be that bad”. Or at least, that’s how I imagined it. I was working the later shift that day so arrived to the news that, apart from an early finish time to avoid the forecasted downpours, the show would go on. An enjoyable and importantly, DRY ride, was had by all. It goes to show that prior planning prevents pee wet through cycling.


The Easy Riders ride on Tuesday the 21st had a bumper attendance (23 riders) as demonstrated by the photo. So many riders turned up that we had to use the rear exit to start the ride. Thanks to all the volunteers and riders who were as steadfastly committed and diligent as ever this week, even in the face of Storm Doris’ angry gusts.

On a side note, if you read this blog regularly and think you have something interesting to share on it, then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

The Hub