Since Early 2020, Joan Potts has led a phenomenal 163 Community Bike Rides. Joan’s group of now regulars, christened ‘Pottsies Peddlers’, have made Omagh, Tyrone a hub of Community Bike Rides activity over the last three years.
Always catering for beginner cyclists, or those hopping back up on the bike after some time out, Joan’s Group Rides have created over 1,000 participations alone, a staggering statistic for just one person!
Joan’s story is not only an example of Community Bike Rides Leaders making an impact in their community, but also of the symbiotic relationship that can be created between a cycling club and Community Bike Rides.
Indeed, when Joan signed up to Community Bike Rides in 2019, she was already a member of her local club, Omagh Wheelers.
Joan had initially hoped that becoming a Community Bike Ride Leader would allow her to “gain confidence” which would help during her club spins and when she completed Ride Leader Training in October 2019, she wasn’t long about getting her Community Bike Rides up and running!
“I knew there were a few people that I was friendly with that might start riding a bike again if I took them out so that encouraged me. I tapped into friends; my sister is even one of the cyclists now. I also invited people from my work, I encouraged them to do 2 miles, 3 miles, whatever!”
Having recruited a core group of family, friends and work colleagues, Joan and her group set off around the Tyrone countryside, often twice or three times a week, visiting towns like Seskinore, Fintona and Drumquin.
Soon, Pottsies Peddlers began to grow organically as her original participants began to tell their own family and friends. It didn’t take long for Joan to need a ‘Support Leader’ on each ride, as she increased the number of places available, as was necessary given the demand!
Improving on the regular now as part of Community Bike Rides, some of Joan’s group were hungry for even more.
“Four of my Community Bike Riders moved across to Omagh Wheelers, so that was good! They wanted to challenge themselves more, they wanted to do a few more miles and they wanted to belong to a club because they would do other activities.”
“But then, they still wanted to go out with me (with Community Bike Rides), they still wanted that more relaxed or shorter spin and the coffee stops and the talking along the way. They wanted to continue doing that, they wanted to have a foot in both places.”
The connections between the Wheelers and Community Bike Rides didn’t end there. Not only were Community Bike Rides Members becoming club members, but the opposite was also happening, with long standing members of the club joining Community Bike Rides.
“I have a girl who was with Omagh Wheelers, she still is, but always tries to come out with us (Community Bike Rides) because we are going at a more appropriate speed for her. Another girl comes out with us too because, maybe she can’t get out on Sunday with the Wheelers and she wants to get out and do some miles.”
What has blossomed over the last few years is a harmonious relationship between the Wheelers and Community Bike Rides, predominately through the work of Leader Joan Potts.
This came to a fitting crescendo at Christmas, when a number of Joan’s Community Bike Rides group picked up awards at the Omagh Wheelers end of year prizegiving.
“That was really satisfying for me, they were amazed at how much they had progressed. It was a big thing for them to be in a club and win an award.”
To date, Joan’s group continue to enjoy the best of both worlds, regularly taking part in both Community Bike Rides and club spins with Omagh Wheelers.
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