Cyclists enjoy exploring Sundre’s nature trails while improving their physical and mental well-being
SUNDRE — Although the Sundre Bike n’ Ski Club has been running weekly men’s rides for several years, efforts are now underway to build interest and momentum for a weekly women’s ride as well.
Spearheading the informal initiative, Melissa Shippy told the Albertan on May 18 during an interview before embarking on a ride with fellow club member and friend Carla Thulien, whom she had previously attempted a ride on Sundays during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions resulting public health.
“It felt like the only thing we could do,” Shippy said, adding that there was decent turnout, but plans for a recurring weekly ride ended up being put on hold.
Since then there has been a level of interest expressed in trying to start a weekly run so the women can go at their own pace without feeling like they have to follow the men’s group.
“Some of my friends have said they wish they had a ladies ride just so it wouldn’t be so intimidating,” Shippy said.
Started earlier in May, the weekly group hikes have so far been mostly attended by a few members. But the rides remain relatively new on the radar, and Shippy hopes over the next few months to build interest and momentum for the weekly rides that are expected to continue through the summer and fall.
Depending on the size and ability of a given group, rides usually last around an hour, but can potentially last a little longer depending on the interest and energy levels of riders, she said.
When asked how she would describe the rides on a scale between a leisurely outing and a physical exercise excursion, Shippy said they would try to strike a balance between the two, but tend to lean a bit towards exercise because the idea is largely to be active and exercise to maximize the health benefits.
“It’s about pushing yourself,” Shippy said, adding that there are a lot of hills to overcome on some trails. “You have to ride your bike up the hill or push your bike up the hill – and it’s good to push your bike. That’s how we learn.
Thulien added that they could also adapt their pace to match more novice riders who want to try it.
“Even if they’re not super fast, it doesn’t matter,” Shippy said, as long as “they’re willing to give it a shot.”
However, the group will not be on streets or cobbled paths.
“We’re not really interested in riding on (paved) trails and roads,” Shippy said.
Also, the rides are not just about physical activity and can offer anyone who joins the opportunity to further develop their cycling skills, including changing gears smoothly and knowing when to use them, a- she declared.
Plus, the extensive network of nature trails provides plenty of ground to cover, she said.
“It’s just about exploring,” she said, adding that while they will repeat some of the same trails to better learn the terrain and gain confidence, the group also aims to occasionally tweak their routine for a change. of decor. .
“That’s the interesting thing, you take your bike on lesser-known trails.”
Responding to what they love most about cycling, Shippy said: “It helps me focus – when you’re cycling you can’t think of anything else.”
In other words, being out on the trails on a bike helps clear your mind of clutter, she said.
“And it gives you a real adrenaline rush,” she added.
The endorphin fueled experience also induces a natural high that can leave a person exhausted but also euphoric.
“It’s just a nice feeling to be done,” Shippy said.
Thulien seemed to agree, but added, “For me, I’m doing it for my sanity.”
“That’s where I come to play,” said Thulien, who lives and works in Didsbury but likes to entertain in and around Sundre.
The group gathers at the Sundre & District Auqaplex parking lot on Wednesday evenings before 7 p.m. when the cyclists are heading to the trails. The men’s rides take place every Tuesday from the same time and place.