A question often asked is “How do you keep coming up with cycling stories? ” By faith and trust of being provided with stories and from God given opportunities in meeting other people sharing their passion and new found freedom in cycling.
Recently at a 60th birthday I met a bunch of such inspiring cyclists , I had to pursue their story. They call themselves the Wandering Woodvale “Widers” a name that originated from a discussion about what to call the group and resulted in a humorous “play on words”. When trying to say Wandering Woodvale Riders the word riders became mispronounced as “widers”.
They ride each Thursday for a couple of hours, meeting outside 185 Booth Road Woodvale meeting at 8 am during daylight saving and 9am at other times. Although they are but a small group they are very much a community of cyclists which was so encouraging to hear that the cycling experience was being benefited in a rural community setting.
For example last week they had 11 riders, 4 women and 7 men. Age and gender makes no barrier in this rural community with some riders over 70 and members of the group includes some of the riders’ friends who come out from Bendigo.
Many of their rides are through the Whipstick Forest visiting numerous historical sites like the Pot and Drive water channel and landmarks of interest such as Monument Rock. The rides are best described as social usually being followed up with coffee at a member’s house to continue the much valued community spirit.
The group radiate out in all directions to Huntly, Raywood, Campbells Forest, Eaglehawk, Maiden Gully and Marong, mainly on quiet gravel roads, stopping often to regroup and chat and share the moments of life’s ups and down of the week.
It all started when 2 friends decided to have a social ride in the Woodvale area and other residents became aware and asked to join them. Using the bush telegraph and posting details on the Woodvale community noticeboard so the invitation to ride reached a wider audience and it began to grow from these simple but affective beginnings.
Initially they only did short rides but as stamina increased these were built up to 20 -30 kilometre rides. One member had been on the Great Victorian Bike Ride prior to moving to Woodvale and his glowing reports convinced two of their members to enter in 2007 and 2008 and their enthusiasm for the experience resulted in 6 members participating in 2009. Regular training rides made the group more visible in the area and promoted the activity. Overall health and well-being has improved. The ride builds a sense of community, awareness of what is going on in the area and personal news is shared and friendships develop.
Physically bicycle riding is not jarring on the knees as is the case with running. One of the older riders commenced with the group as a result of being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease late in 2006 and after a debilitating regime of chemotherapy for 6 months decided it was time to get fit and maintain a better level of health. He bought a mountain bike and has been riding with group since September 2007. His level of fitness improved to the extent that he joined the other participants on two of the Great Vic. Bike Rides (At no stage did he give up and need to be picked up by the Sag Wagon).
The average age is about 60 and basis of the ride is, social, non-competitive, caring and supportive. The “Widers” are made up of 5 women and 8 men with 2 husband and wife couples who enjoy the shared experience. When asked the question of what inspires them to ride the words shared were poetic and hence this poem came to be the answer.
We wait all week for Thursday, to come around soon please,
Just to have our ‘Widers’ faces caressed, by the invigorating Woodvale breeze.
We set out with vigour and zest, to explore our history of old,
Passing nature’s carpets of wild flowers, with splashes of wattle all gold.
Our fitness on the increase, blood pressure and diabetes on the run,
We all control our weight loss, and no one denies we all have fun.
New comers are all made welcome, with the input of all and no one denied,
We are not at all competitive, for fun and fitness we can be relied.
The ‘Woodvale Widers’ country hospitality, is sure to be a reality,
We finish with a cuppa and reminisce, now that is genuine Woodvale hospitality!
See you on the road soon God willing