It’s been a strange time for everyone, and I’m sure none of us realised quite how long our lockdown would go on. All my bike tours and events are cancelled but luckily I have a part-time job as a youth and community worker down here in Cornwall and so I am furloughed from that. This means I am able to do some volunteering.
I asked at a couple of the local pharmacies if they needed anyone to do home deliveries for the vulnerable and shielded (those who are most at risk). And so for the past few weeks I’ve been able to regularly go out on my bike to help out.
I’ve met many interesting people – all of whom are intensely grateful for the help and support they receive from their communities, and some of them, when they spot I’m in bike gear then share their biking stories with me, such as the 82 year old woman who used to ride through the Home Counties on a Sunbeam 60 years ago – I have to admit I had to google that one to see what a Sunbeam looked like. What a gorgeous looking bike it is.
And this week the ninety-year old who first came to Cornwall on a 125cc in the early fifties with his wife riding pillion on the back– his eyes absolutely sparkled at the memory as he related their various mishaps along the way. Sadly his wife passed away four years ago.
It’s definitely been an icebreaker to be turning up delivering on two wheels. I’m lucky enough to live in the far west of Cornwall and my ‘patch’ covers from Lands End to St Michael’s Mount – some of the most beautiful coastline we have in the UK. And in fact for one of my runs, there is a shortcut that I like to use along a cobbled street which I have to judge carefully – it’s not passable at high tide! Yep – the water covers that section of road, so I’ve been riding around the waves as they splashed across the road. I’ve also had sections of off-road for some of the more rural addresses.
There are several great initiatives out there where volunteers are grouped and organised to make the most of the help available. One of those is the Bike Shed Community Response group – which I joined via FaceBook.
It’s nice to feel part of an active biking community, we’re spread out all over the country, so there is bound to be someone near you – let’s see more women involved, everyone is welcome. I also predict that many of these initiatives will be continuing post-virus.
Shortly after I received my Bike Shed bib, I received a phone call asking for all able-bodied volunteers to head down to the beach to help with an urgent situation. I pulled on my bib and bike gloves – although it wasn’t a biking job – I wanted to feel the part! I headed on down to the beach – the previous day a fishing boat (40 feet long) started sinking and ended up wrecked on the beach. 36 hours later and as the high tide was heading in, it was all hands needed to help clear all the debris and timber before it got even more smashed up and impacting the environment. It was very much a community effort as the small team of just four salvage guys were joined by about 12 locals.
We pulled and we pushed for hours, managing to get every last bit up off the beach – with the help of a winch on a 4WD vehicle fitted with extra-long ropes and straps to reach the 200 yards from the top of the beach. The pictures speak for themselves.
I would thoroughly recommend getting involved and helping out.
First published in WIMA GB News June 2020