A strange anniversary in 2020, with club activities suspended due to the Coronavirus restrictions.
We invited members to reflect on their thoughts and memories about Wheel Easy as a virtual celebration.
Get yourself a nice cup of coffee, a piece of cake and read on….
Dennis Butler is a Wheel Easy legend who, along with Dave Preston, has been an inspiration to us all.
Photo: Gia and Dennis at the opening of the Nidderdale Greenway. May 2013
Ready for a lunch stop and a pasty in the sun along the side of the estuary at Padstow during a lovely day cycling the Camel Trail up to Bodmin and back (June 2016). Geraldine is responsible for me joining WE as, despite intending to start playing golf again after retiring, I met her and Joe at Bond End one day on our bikes and she encouraged me to come to Hornbeam the following Sunday. Rather nervously I turned up and in the true WE style was made very welcome and encouraged on my first longish distance ride. The rest is history and I will always be grateful to her and the Club and its members for all the enjoyment and friendship I have received. Happy Anniversary Wheel Easy!
I’ve been in Wheel Easy from the beginning. It has given me a love for cycling, great friendships and many cycling holidays, so it’s certainly enhanced my retirement.
On the Left: Denis Kaye: Smug selfie taken at the top of the hill out of Askwith!
Centre Stage: Vince Grealy
On the Right: Mike Walsh: outside Buckingham Palace after RideLondon last August – a very enjoyable day’s ride for British Heart Foundation.
As to what I feel about the club, it is fair to say that membership helped me get over my heart attack, introduced me to many new friends and opened my eyes to the minor roads of Yorkshire – what more could you want!
Congratulations on the club’s anniversary to its officers and founding members.
Wheel Easy is a pebble. You drop it into a lake and the ripples go further and wider than you might imagine..
This picture was taken by Richard Leake at the top of Fleet Moss on one of Kevin and Colin’s legendary Away Days.
Keith & Helen Tate, members since c. 2007 (can’t remember the exact year!)
I joined Wheel Easy about 10 years ago but didn’t start to get proper use of my membership until about 4 years ago when I realised what a great club it is – friendly, fun, and just full of really nice helpful people
It helped me with my recovery from a broken hip and has helped to keep me very active right up to the lockdown.
This is a picture of me outside Acorn Bank near Temple Sowerby. This ride embodied everything that’s great about Wheel Easy. It’s always sunny, rides are whatever length you want (this one was about 40 miles), a varied programme and as challenging as you wish. Then there’s all the banter over coffee and lunch.
Here’s to many more years of Wheel Easy. Steve Wright.
I was welcomed into the Wheel Easy club a year last May (just stopped myself from saying « virtually a year ago » !). Quite a few of my lovely French language students are members and have sung its praises.
As I tend to hibernate in the winter, I wanted to get fit to do the London Pru 46 again in July with my sporty daughter-in-law and not be slated as a slow oldie. So I joined with Jane, another student and friend, and off we went to pedal and stop for tea and scones!
Why did I continue? Well, I continued as I was enjoying cycling with some jolly nice people who seemed to know where they were going and they kept going!
One is encouraged without feeling diminished if rather slow up those hills (I’m getting better and I’m a whizz at going down them!). I’ve had a puncture and chain detachment within walking distance of home but each time, some kind Wheel Easy souls have stopped to help so I could continue on the bike rather than on foot.
I was determined to no longer be a fair weather cyclist and indeed I have half-frozen this winter, felt the full blast of Yorkshire winds, shared a laugh with others under leaden skies and heavy rain; and yet I kept pedalling on into the beautiful spring sunshine. I have loved exploring with Wheel Easy and thank all the leaders for introducing me to wonderful routes previously unknown.
During this lockdown period, I am now making good use of the confidence this has brought to lead myself into some glorious countryside up hill and down Dale. I look forward to seeing everyone again!
Thanks Wheel Easy! Keep the wheels turning! Yvonne Davies.
– wearing white helmet, with the blue bike from Wednesday ride 25-9-19
I joined Wheel Easy in 2014 a year before retiring from work and also bought a road bike just before joining. I did have a Hybrid bike just for general short rides. The reason I joined was after looking at the information on the WE website and reading the ride reports I then thought what a good way to keep fit in retirement and socialise when out cycling. My first ride was a 40mile medium plus and then I realised how unfit I was, the tail ender trying to keep up! Now a 137mile Audax is no problem! Chris Rogers.
The Brisk Ladies ! – and Helen’s landmark birthday celebration.
Wheel Easy’s 14th anniversary coincides with my 50th anniversary of competitive cycling and longer of calling myself a cyclist. I started riding with the CTC aged 13 and was soon youth hostelling, picture below of the touring group (me on outside front).
Harrogate became a feature of my cycling long before I moved up north, in the 1990’s. The picture of me racing in Harrogate town centre was taken in the late 70’s, the Harrogate Cycling Festival was a highlight of my cycling year, I especially enjoyed the town centre racing. The picture shows me cornering into the now pedestrianised Cambridge St. passing John Collier’s.
My cycling has ebbed and flowed but when I moved to Harrogate I joined Harrogate Nova and the now defunct Knaresborough RT and was proud to represent them. Due to arthritis I reduced my cycling dramatically until I joined a sponsored ride on impulse. I was recommended Wheel Easy as a place to get fit having hardly cycled for a few years. I completed the Harrogate to Holyrood ride but more importantly my desire to ride was rekindled.
I don’t worry too much about how fast or far I go anymore; honest. These strange times have helped me realise or remind me of a couple of things. Knowing whatever the weather someone else will be daft enough to put on their wet weather gear and turn out on Wednesdays or Sundays and what a great motivator and encouragement that is especially when it is someone who has become a good mate through Wheel Easy. The camaraderie of a club run is a very special thing, I love the interaction: Rider A: ‘It’s OK I can carry on when I’ve fixed this’ Rider B ‘It’s OK we will wait’ Rider A ‘No it’s OK’ Rider B ‘Just fix the thing before we all get cold’ (Stands back and comments on Rider A’s lack of technique). The EG’s in particular have been there for me, but thanks to everyone who has helped rekindle my enthusiasm, I am enjoying my cycling more than ever!
I joined Wheel Easy in February 2008, when a 0-30 mile group was started on Saturday afternoons. I was immediately smitten by riding in a group and meeting all the lovely people who encouraged me. The next day I survived my first Sunday ride of around 17 miles in awful weather but wasn’t put off.
After several years of solo cycling I joined Wheel Easy in 2014 on a recommendation from Max Graham. I’d always been a bit sceptical about group riding but Wheel Easy turned that around. Should have done it earlier. Pictures are from a trip I did with my son from Ypres to Albert along the WW1 Western Front. Mike Smith.
I joined in late 2010, probably because Richard had already joined and I wanted to find out what I was missing! Wheel Easy has brought me friendship, fun and fitness and has had a huge impact on my life. Liz Pugh.
Photo: Appleby to Berwick trip 2012.
I had had a bad prang on a brand new bike (straight from the shop, riding home!) Malcolm encouraged me to join (“it’s all downhill!” I think he said?!!) To help me build my confidence he very kindly offered to take me on a solo ride up by Kearby…
I joined and rode initially with the Poddlers (in those days no coffee stop was allowed, so I didn’t last long there!) then the Wednesday ride, and often with the folk (from left to right) in the photo (Stewart, Richard P and Tim from c.2011-2012?) Initially I was on a(nother!) challenge called: “Harrogate to Holyrood” and Wheel Easy seemed a good way to get in some enforced practice, though it wasn’t really any effort – too enjoyable! The mix of a delightful group (what else should I say!?!) regular coffee stops and cheese scones, combined with some of the best scenery in the country was just too good to miss!
I joined WE in August 2011 after retiring and having not cycled since my student days. The aim was to get fit and meet new people. At least one of those has been achieved! I love going riding with like-minded people and sharing banter both on the road and in the cafes.
Also, people are very supportive of each other – which I have found out when I had a heart attack last year. The love, support and encouragement that people have given me to enable me to get back on my bike was wonderful and hopefully I can repay others in the future.
Deciding to join Wheel Easy was one of the best decisions I have made – and also it only costs a fiver a year! Kevin Douglas
I’ve always enjoyed cycling but like many you get out of the habit due to other commitments during your life. Thanks to the Tour of France I was motivated to get back on my bike but it wasn’t until I retired in 2017 that I gave it a real go and in August 2018 my wife saw a load of riders at Low Bridge gathering and asked ‘who what’ are you?. They duly explained and she came back telling me what I was doing on the next Sunday !!. So it came to pass that I rode up to Hornbeam slightly apprehensive and duly joined the Poddlers ride under Jean’s leadership and loved it. Another ride again with the Poddlers which was a little more hilly and I was hooked. I realised I was perhaps a little better/fitter than I thought and immediately stepped up to the Medium and Wanderers rides. This was a bit more telling and I did have a few moments of concern but my fears were totally unfounded as I was never left behind and always encouraged by my fellow riders without really realising it. Eighteen months later I ride most Sundays and Wednesdays and just love it. The people, the banter, the laughs, the coffee stops and the support is fabulous. I love being part of this group. I’ve even done a couple of leads. So Happy Anniversary Wheel Easy. Thank you and hope to see you all soon. Colin Broadbank
In September 2009 my husband Glyn met Eric Waters on a ride looking at the new C2C route. Eric told Glyn about a group of mainly ladies who cycled a few miles every Wednesday morning in Harrogate. I had just started cycling, so in October 2009, with some trepidation, I joined the Poddlers group, and I have never looked back. The group, both male and female, were very welcoming and encouraging. Caroline was obviously the main ‘mover and shaker’ of the group, and I am now proud to call her my friend. Even last year, after a skiing accident and a broken shoulder, and no cycling for a year, I still met up with the Poddlers at coffee time. I can’t wait to be back with them. Jen Appleyard
I think I joined the amazing Wheel Easy in Spring 2008 around the time of retiring. I had done some what seemed like very long rides with Caroline, John Wood and a lovely lady whose name has vanished into the mists of the elderly memory. Climbing up to Cut Throat Lane together was some achievement and then came Wheel Easy – leisure, no competition, no lycra and lots of excellent company. Wednesdays and Sundays became very special including one memorable moment when, for some reason, I was interviewed for local radio – I interpreted my presence as a representative of any overweight, not so young ladies seeking fun and a little fitness. Twelve years on, the message would be similar thanks to incredible encouragement, friendships and a bit of perseverance. 40 miles with hilly bits , once a derisible notion, are quite possible. Coffee and scones stops , Safari Suppers and Christmas lunches might not be the key to becoming Slimmer of the Year – companionship is the real key! Thank you, Gia and Malcolm. Sue Downes.
I believe I joined in 2009. I saw in the local newspaper that one of the meeting points was Low Bridge Knaresborough so I became an EG. Although I initially thought those were the initials of the Ride Leader!
Over the years I moved to and fro between EG’s and Hornbeam Groups and had the real pleasure to help lead quite a few away tours with great company, usually involving about 12 other members. This included C2C and the North Pennine Sustrans routes. I also completed Lon Las Cymru with Colin Thompson. In recent years a group of members used to do a regular York to Scarborough trip, and even used folding bikes on one occasion! It was always good weather on these trips and the photo was taken approaching Scarborough in an over 60’s garden… which seemed appropriate. Wheel Easy for me has meant great company, lots of coffee stops and super Yorkshire scenery! John Russell
I started out riding solo on my 30 year old steel framed Raleigh, graduated to a Specialized Roubaix and joined WE in May 2016 on the recommendation of a former colleague. In the 4 years since I have completed 169 WE rides, the longest being to Bridlington last year. I cycle for fitness, but most of all fun which WE members supply in abundance!
I joined Wheel Easy about five years ago to enable me to cycle with people who had the same cycling abilities as me, to meet new friends and to improve my confidence and try cycle routes I would not try on my own. When I began cycling with WE the 15 – 20 miles as a Poddler enabled me to improve my cycling and I soon lengthened the miles that I could cycle. As my cycling abilities improved and wanting to venture further afield a sub group of the Poddlers formed and became the Wanderers. That is one of the great attributes of Wheel Easy as people progress in their cycling abilities there are other subgroups to move between. Over the years that I have been a member I have met a great bunch of people, enjoyed the social chat, laughter and banter which makes WE cycling days out fantastic. The Away Days organised by Kevin and Colin were the cycling highlights of the year and I have many happy memories of cycling up Buttertubs and other hills that I did not always manage to cycle up!! It is with great sadness that some of our cycling friends moved away to pastures new and others have passed away and are now cycling in heaven and I think of Steve Smith with fond memories. As new members have joined WE, new friendships are made and this welcomes people to WE. This is the reason why it is a club for everyone as the name implies Wheel Easy for those who want to cycle leisurely and enjoy good company. Many thanks go to Gia and Malcolm who founded Wheel Easy, the pleasure they have brought to many people over the years creating cycling for all abilities. Liz Frederiksen
The only cycling I had done when we joined Wheel Easy, in the September of the year it started, was cycling a couple of miles to work each day on a heavy old bike. The thought of cycling to Knaresborough was indeed a dream….for me….Hampsthwaite was the end of the world and certainly any way out of Hampsthwaite was up a precipice. Writing anything that resembled report on a computer and sending it anywhere was an impossibility. Now after 14 years of practice I can almost turn on a computer and sometimes send a ride report to someone that deals with it. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY we have both had 14 years of good fun, had several brilliant holidays (thanks Eric and the Appleyards), been made ten times fitter than we would have otherwise have been, seen lots of interesting places and have made some really good friends. So to all the people we have waved at and shouted across our 2 metres distancing during this period of isolation and in particular to Gia and Malcolm for the superb idea and ooomph to set all this up ……. a GREAT ENORMOUS THANK YOU. AND LONG MAY IT CONTINUE. Xxxx Caroline and Max Graham
Chris and I joined Wheel Easy in September 2017, when we were considering taking early retirement. We had used the internet to find out about local cycling clubs. The ones that were near to our home in Baildon seemed to focus on speed and distance, which was not what we wanted. We came across the WE web site, and thought that it this sounded like the club for us. When we came along to our first ride we were made very welcome. I sometimes struggle when riding, but everyone is very supportive and encouraging. I have recently brought a new bike, which has made a big difference. It is worth the trip across from Baildon to ride with this great club.
This photo is us at the top of Five Rise Locks in Bingley. The canal is near our house and provided some nice cycling during the lock down, but we are looking forward to the day we can come and cycle with the club again.
Chris and Chris from Baildon.
Stranded in sunny climes – Mike Bissell
I was one of the early members of Wheel Easy back in 2006 – at the 10 year WE anniversary dinner it was read out that I was one of the participants on the/a first ride.
Even though I live in Harrogate I generally ride with Ripon CC, as I have been a member there since 2001, but over the years I have had a great many enjoyable rides with WE. I particularly enjoyed a couple of Away Day rides (a great concept) in 2019 and I do the Bridlington ride whenever I can.
I retired in April 2013 and following that we bought a house in Florida, near Sarasota on the Gulf Coast. My wife, Laura, is an American citizen and we now spend most of each winter (October through March/April) in Florida to escape the UK winter.
The picture shows me standing in front of our pool in my Wheel Easy top before going on a ride on 1st May – lovely day, little wind and 28c.
I started riding with Wheel Easy in winter 2016 following my early retirement; having not been cycling for a number of years. I didn’t anticipate much cycling over the winter months, but joining Wheel Easy gave me the incentive to get out fairly regularly – and still does. The trusty 1990s Raleigh Randonneur you see in the photo belonged to Phil Hall, a good friend of mine who unfortunately passed away a few years ago. Phil wanted it to go to a good home, after he was unable to ride any more. I am sure he looks on with a sense of satisfaction to see it out and about regularly.
In 2018, I volunteered to revamp and update the Wheel Easy website. It kept me out of mischief during the winter that year – I hope you are all finding it useful. Photo is in Bishop Monkton last week, out for a short ride with my wife.
We moved to Harrogate 3 years ago and had never been in a cycling club before. Joining Wheel Easy has been a great experience. It has given us new friends, an appreciation of the beautiful countryside around Harrogate, and an easy way of learning lots of cycling routes. Marwood has always been a keen cyclist but I hadn’t cycled for many years, so I decided to invest in an electric bike to help me get up the steep hills. I found the club very welcoming despite my lack of expertise and I now love going on long rides all around the area.
Marwood and Judi Smith.
I was overweight and decided it had to be sorted out. Now I’d I done a lot of cycling when I was somewhat younger(!) and, on a ride, met a rider who told me about Wheel Easy. Putting his information with that from the website, and a chat with Gia gave me my solution. A few years later and I’m much leaner, have a lot of good cycling friends, and have explored many great places both near and far. John Hackett
I joined Wheel Easy in 2007, when it was still in its first year. I had a largely unused mountain bike gathering dust in the garage, and was attracted to a “cycling club for cyclists that don’t wear Lycra”. I think my first 5 short rides all went to Little Alms Cliff car park and back (8 or 9 miles), on my mountain bike, wearing a track suit!
Later that year I took early retirement, giving me more time for cycling, so I progressed through medium rides to the long rides, and discovered the wonders of cycling in the Dales – ‘cycling in heaven’ as I call it! 3 photos capture what cycling means to me, places its taken me to, and challenges I’ve met.
On the left: May 2009 when I cycled from Italy to Harrogate. I was delayed 3 or 4 days waiting for the St Gotthard pass to be opened after its winter closure. Unknown to me, the opening of the St Gotthard pass traditionally marks the end of the Alpine winter, so I had the surprise of Swiss TV and press coverage waiting for the first cyclist to arrive at the summit. In parts the road had been cut through canyons of snow 30′ high!
Centre: August 2011, when Peter Bradley and I went on a CTC Tour to the Himalayas. The photo was taken on the summit of Khadung La, the highest road in the world at 18,380′.
On the Right: taken with Peter at the summit of Col d’Aubisque in the Pyrenees in Sept 2013 – another of our joint adventures. For me, this was a different type of challenge. 16 weeks earlier I had a hip replacement following a cycling accident ( I blame the tandem!!). I set off not knowing whether my hip and I would be able to cope with 900 miles, 29 cols, and 55,000′ of climbing. So why was it 900 miles, when it is only 500 miles through the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean? Before we set off, I asked Peter that question too! His reply: “Well, if you manage the Pyrenees, I thought you’d like to cycle another 400 miles and finish off with Mount Ventoux as an encore!” So we did! Which brings me to the biggest benefit of cycling with Wheel Easy: wonderful friendships and camaraderie. You can’t beat it! Eric Waters.
Happy 14th Anniversary Wheel Easy!
I joined Wheel Easy on 8 November 2009. Having paid the £3 subs I went with the medium group on a 33 mile route – others in the group included Gia, Alison, Yvonne, Martin and Dennis. We went via Knox to Burnt Yates, Brimham Rocks (where we observed 2 minutes silence) and stopped at Cascades Cafe at the garden centre on A61 near Wormald Green. We came back via Bishop Monkton, Farnham and Knaresborough. I remember being exhausted when I got home.
In recent years Wheel Easy has become a huge part of my life and here’s to the next 14 years! Tim Rhodes
About ten years ago, I was at one of those points in life where you need to plug a hole. A friend suggested cycling (I could barely ride a bike) but I searched around and found WE. The website said they welcomed beginners, I was sceptical, but they meant it. I remember that first ride vividly. Paul Tindle, the leader, was great (he still is!). We chatted about Bruce Springsteen while I laboured alongside him for a 12 mile ride around Beckwithshaw. It was fabulous. I was buzzing. Many years and many miles have passed and I still get that buzz every time I lift myself into the saddle. But the WE story is more than a good bike ride. It’s about companionship and friendship and it has touched so many people, as the members’ stories on this page demonstrate. Thanks Gia and Malcolm for finding the spark to start the fire, and to the WE ‘family’ for enriching my life and that of so many others.
Like many others, I joined Wheel Easy after retiring, keen to enjoy fresh air and exercise. I was an inexperienced cyclist but thanks to lots of encouragement, particularly from Dennis, soon got hooked. I’ve gained so much friendship, fun and happy memories of rides in Yorkshire and further afield. A big thank you to you all, especially to Malcolm and Gia for getting the group started.
This cycling’s all very well but sometimes you fall off and end up in a ditch! So that’s where WE comes in; there’s always someone around to fish you out.
Having read all the great feedback about the club, if you feel inspired to add something of your own, send it in to info@ and we will add it.