San Fairy Ann Cycling Club in Bearsted

Joining a new club can be daunting and a bit of a step out from the comfort zone, Natalie Ceeney thought as much 10 years ago. Recalling the events that led her to join San Fairy Ann, Natalie tells CommunityAd “I was turning 40, woefully unfit, and thought I should do something about it. So, I turned up for my first ride on an old bike, hugely nervous – and I’ve never looked back.”

 

10 years on Natalie is now the Chair of the club, utilising her professional management skills to keep the club cycling in the right direction. Quite the rise from rookie to chairperson such is Natalie’s love for the club “I was made so welcome, and I got hooked, and a lot better at cycling. I’ve met some fantastic people who I consider friends, and being part of a club motivates me to get out in the countryside.”

 

CommunityAd had the pleasure of a chat with Natalie about life in the friendly club.

 

From the outside looking in it seems like a fun club to be a part of but at the same time a competitive one, is that the case?

We’re a club for everyone. We have around 400 members, and cyclists at every level from 10mph who ride about 15 miles, through to a racing team and world champion racers! I’m personally somewhere in the middle, and my level is not at all competitive – we ride to enjoy ourselves and sometimes challenge ourselves, but enjoyment comes first. We also have a mountain biking group, and Time Trials for the competitive as well as track racing. We really do have something for everyone.

 

We’re truly blessed to be based in such a beautiful part of the world, aren’t we? As a cyclist, Bearsted and its surrounding areas make for delightful routes I bet?

One of the most wonderful things about cycling in Kent is the countryside. We tend to cycle on side roads where we can, so I’ve seen parts of Kent that I’d never have seen in a car. Also, we (or at least I) cycle at a pace where you can see the countryside, rather than it whizzing by. We cycle all over Kent, with members from every part of the county and beyond. And yes, the routes around Bearsted are rather lovely!

 

Do you think there has a been an increase in awareness of how much our local environment matters since the pandemic took hold?

Nationally, we saw a lot more cycling and walking through the pandemic – in fact, the numbers of people cycling doubled, particularly given how keen most of us were to leave the house, and exercise was one of the only legal ways we could! Walking and cycling locally has undoubtedly made us more aware of our local environment. The challenge will be to make it stick.

 

Have you noticed an increase in people wanting to become a member of San Fairy Ann?

We’ve really only been allowed to cycle in groups again since mid-April, and the weather hasn’t exactly been great since then. So, although we’ve seen a steady trickle of new members, it’s not been a flood. But the nice thing about cycling is we’ve got scope for more people to join us. So now the weather is improving, if you have a bike, get out there! Being part of a club is great fun, and most of us find we enjoy it a lot more than cycling on our own.

 

Could you tell us about why 13th June is a significant date for the club?*

On Sunday 13th June we are running our own ‘Sportive’. It’s an organised ride, but it’s not a race – just a well-marked route with cake stops! You do need to enter – details on our website. The routes are stunning, and we have two options – one at 85km and the longer at 115km. It’s a fantastic day out. You don’t need to be a member to take part, and all profits go to Kent Air Ambulance.

 

Why would you recommend readers give free try-out Sunday rides a go?

Not everyone feels confident just turning up at a group ride. I remember how nervous I was! So we run ‘try it out’ rides on the last Sunday of each month, at 10am in the Marden Library car park, where we take the group on a short ride, at the pace of the slowest, so we can all chat about what’s involved in joining the club. It’s completely free, and even if you don’t join, you’ll have done some exercise. If you’ve got a bike and want to do more cycling, come try us out.

The club is cheaper to join than any gym and as you can see from the photos a lot more fun.

 

For more info visit @sanfairyanncc on Facebook and Twitter, or the San Fairy Ann website.

 

*Article published June 2021.

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