What and where is The Cloisters?

The Cloisters is a beautiful new building which complements our ancient and much-loved church, St Mary’s, Stansted. It provides additional facilities: a church cafe, a venue for group meetings, an overflow facility for larger events, refreshments and toilets. It was completed in 2015, and we paid off the outstanding loan in May 2017.

I haven’t ridden my bike for years, will the Ride be suitable for me?

Yes, however you would be advised to choose either the Cruise (13 miles) or the Classic (23 miles). The Challenge does require a certain level of training and fitness. The Cruise and Classic are on quiet lanes. Practice a little first, and you will enjoy the ride. It is your responsibility to make sure that you are medically fit enough to take part in the Ride. If you have a medical condition that may be affected by exercise (particularly a heart condition) or if you are in any doubt about your health, you must get clearance from your doctor before participating.

My Mum says that when sitting on the saddle of my mountain bike I should be able to touch the ground with both feet. It feels silly riding like this, could she be wrong?

If you do this, you will not be using the thigh muscles properly, and you will also be straining your knees by sitting too low. Your saddle should be level and high enough so that your leg is not quite straight at the bottom of the pedal stroke with the ball of the foot on the pedal. When you need to stop, slide forward off the saddle, then put both feet on the ground. To do this safely, avoid wearing a long coat or anorak that might prevent you sliding forward, trapping you on the saddle. In the right position you will go further or faster with less effort.

My Granny says ‘Never use the front brake or you might go over the handlebars’, could she be wrong?

It must be a long time since she last rode, because this is dangerous advice. Like a car or motorcycle, a bike’s most powerful brake is the front one. Always use both brakes, but on dry tarmac the front brake should do most of the work. Just like driving a car, make sure you can stop within the distance you can see, important in narrow lanes. If it’s muddy on the road, slow down.

What clothes should I wear?

Wear bright clothing so that you are visible. Ensure that your trouser legs are not too loose so that they get caught in the chain. Ideally wear shoes with stiffer soles to concentrate the force of your legs into the ball of the foot, which should be central on the pedal. Trainers are fine, but keep the laces well clear of the sprocket and chain. All riders of any age must wear a hard shell cycle helmet. In a headwind on a flat road, baggy clothing will slow you down and spoil your ride. You should always wear gloves to keep your hands warm as they cut into the breeze, and to protect them in the unlikely event of falling off.

What refreshments are available?

A breakfast snack / drinks will be available to purchase before your ride. A Ploughman’s lunch is provided free of charge at the half way stop. In addition one or two refreshment stops are available in the morning and afternoon of your ride. Afternoon tea with home-made cakes is provided free of charge after the ride.

Should I bring food and drink?

Bring a water bottle and a bracket to hold it. You will have plenty of chances to refill your bottle on the ride, and there will be adequate snacks and lunch provided at the intermediate stops on the route.

How should I prepare my bike for the Ride?

Ideally take your bike to a local bike shop to be serviced first, the sooner the better because they get busy as the weather warms up. Both brakes must work. Clean and oil the chain. Inflate tyres to the pressure stated on the sidewall of your bike tyre.

Will a puncture finish my ride?

No, but if you have a puncture, please stop immediately to avoid damage to the inner tube. You need to buy and carry with you a spare tube in the correct size, as printed on the outside of the tyre. Most punctures can be fixed in ten minutes. Some of our marshals or other riders can help with repairs, and many punctures can be repaired without removing the wheel at all.