Could you cycle 10 miles every day? Norman Gregory, a 99-year-old World War II veteran, is urging people to follow his lead this March, as part of a cycling campaign from Love To Ride Suffolk
World War II veteran Norman Gregory and his good friend Norman Kelly, better known as the ‘Cockfield Normans’ are avid cyclists – doing at least 10 miles most days and will be leading the way with ‘Ride it Out’. In Norman Gregory’s own words, ‘if you don’t make yourself get up and go out when the weather is ok, you will get worse so you have to keep at it. If you don’t exercise you rust!’ ‘Ride it Out’ promises a fun way to get back into cycling, with the arrival of spring. The warmer weather and brighter days provide the ideal opportunity to get back on your bike and enjoy all the benefits that go with it.
Each week there will be a new way to appreciate a bike ride for Suffolk residents to join in. Whether you want to ride every single day or just dip your toes – there’s a place for everyone in Ride it Out.
The 99-year-old war veteran has cycled an incredible 5,000 miles in the last year. He has some inspirational stories to tell, such as his ride from Suffolk to John O’ Groats and back (1750 miles) in 1939 when he was just 17. He says: ‘I was delighted to be asked to be an ambassador for the Love to Ride Suffolk initiative. I have cycled all my life so appreciate the benefits it can provide and hope that I can help inspire more Suffolk residents to get out on their bikes.’
Meanwhile, 70-year-old Norman Kelly took up cycling in 2006 after returning to Suffolk from Africa where he had worked for eight years as a tea planter. He says: ‘I’ve never met a doctor who disapproves of cycling and regular exercise and I’m looking forward to supporting the Love to Ride Suffolk programme along with my good friend Norman Gregory.’
This brighter weather has got me thinking I must clean it down and get back in the saddle
Cllr James ReederSuffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Prevention
Cllr James Reeder, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Prevention, adds: ‘It’s been tough for many to stay active during the recent restrictions, particularly over the colder months, so ‘Ride It Out’ is a fantastic opportunity for people to really kick start their fitness goals in the spring. Physical activity also gives our wellbeing a boost, as well as being a sustainable way to travel or commute. Whether you ride a little or a lot, ‘Ride it Out’ has something for everyone.
‘I have to admit since the colder weather my bike has rarely been out of the garage. The last time it came back very muddy! This brighter weather has got me thinking I must clean it down and get back in the saddle.
‘With our two Normans leading by example it’s certainly encouraged me get on and do it! Their stories are a real inspiration for anyone contemplating getting on their bike.’
The four themed weeks, beginning on Monday March 1, are:
Ride HEALTHY – Week 1 is a chance for you to get back in the saddle and enjoy the all the health benefits of riding a bike. You’ll sleep better, live longer and smile wider – it’s scientifically proven! Even just a 10-minute bike ride will get your heart pumping more blood to your brain which can help improve problem solving, imagine what riding for longer will do.
Ride RELAXED – Week 2 is all about shifting down a gear and enjoying the ride. It’s easy to concentrate on how far or how fast but bike rides should be about quality not quantity. Taking the time to ride at your own pace, take in your surroundings and just enjoy it. You’ll also lower your stress and anxiety levels and feel more optimistic.
Ride GREEN – Week 3 is a chance to swap a regular journey for a bike ride. Not only is this great for the planet, you’ll be freeing up space, on the road and public transport, for key workers. Whether it’s grabbing groceries, switching the school run or converting your commute, Love to Ride will share their tips!
Ride FREE – Week 4 is all about adventure because staying home doesn’t have to mean being stuck. The adventure can be big or small like heading to a new place, riding at night, going off-road, cycling with a friend…there are so many possibilities, that’s why they’re called freedom machines.
There will also be some fantastic prizes on offer for completing the four weeks. From t-shirts to holiday vouchers to a new bike, there are many reasons to get back in the saddle. You can take part in Ride it Out by registering for free at lovetoride.net/Suffolk. Share your good vibes and bike rides via social media by sharing pictures, rides and stories using the hashtag #RideItOutTogether (prizes may also be awarded for outstanding posts!). When you register with Love to Ride you can set goals, track distance, earn badges, share photos and stories and encourage others to ride! There’s also a range of information on everything from bike maintenance to planning a route. Registering takes just 30 seconds and is free, so join in the fun at lovetoride.net/Suffolk