Walsall Arboretum Community Cycle Club has celebrated a year of running sessions for local people looking to learn to ride a bike, despite a theft just a few weeks after starting.
The club, funded by the national cycling charity Cycling UK and supported by Walsall Council and Walsall Bike Project, has taught the Walsall community, especially retirees, to enjoy getting back on a bike.
Last autumn, all of the group’s new bicycles were stolen from a locked compound, but thanks to regional news coverage and an appeal by Cycling UK, people across the West Midlands came forward and donated their unwanted bikes in time for Christmas.
Lesley Easter, cycling development officer for Cycling UK in the West Midlands, who started and runs the club, said: “In spite of our rocky start, Walsall Arboretum Community Cycle Club has had a tremendous first year, with our dedicated learners turning out in all weathers to cycle together.
“Our eldest participants have been in their late eighties, which is hugely impressive.
“They just go to show you’re never too old to learn something new and reap the benefits.”
Narinder Kaur, 54, joined the club a couple of months ago when she was out running in the Arboretum and spotted the group.
She had never had the opportunity to learn to ride a bike in childhood and as a result had missed out in adult life too, despite her best efforts.
She said: “I had a bike for about eight years sat in my house and I tried to learn but I just couldn’t.
“But in less than a week with the club I managed it and have carried on ever since.
“The freedom of being on a bike is unbelievable.”
For the celebration, the club’s regulars donned party hats and brought food for their weekly session to mark the birthday.