Where are we based?
The White House at Lock 21 in Maryhill Glasgow lay unused for many years but Free Wheel North is creating a cycling hub here where people of all ages and backgrounds can come along to join a ride, to get their bike fixed, get some information about cycling or to get a coffee and a chat. We welcome people in and engage them in cycling, whether they can ride or haven't ever been on a bike. Cycling has mental and physical benefits which can be achieved out cycling as part of our group or working away fixing a bike that's broken.
What do we do and who's it for?
Our current led rides run twice a week, Mondays and Wednesday. Due to increased demand, regular and increased attendance of riders, the rides team has adjusted the led rides programme over the last year to integrate skills sessions for new comers and also longer rides to cater for the more experienced riders. People in the area can come along to the rides and don't have to have their own bike, they can use one of ours. Beginners rides help people build their confidence and stamina. The rides offer a social environment for those who may not have the opportunity or confidence to meet others. It allows the sharing of advice and information to help people stay active, the encouragement from others helps motivate individuals who struggle to stay active. The variety of destinations and attendees on the rides help to keep the rides new and fresh. Free Wheel North helps people to build their confidence on the bike, offers advice regarding clothing and accessories, and can help with any mechanical issues, meaning that people start using their bike in every day travel, instead of taking the car. The routes show people where the cycle paths are and how they can get to different parts if the city safely on their bikes. More people are now commuting , and choosing to make more of their journeys by bike. In 2019 we had 914participants on our rides from the White House. Through activities at our site at Glasgow Green and at the White House we engaged 49,475 people in cycling activities. If we can get more activities happening at the White House then these numbers will keep increasing, meaning that more people are out enjoying cycling, and enjoying all of the physical and mental health benefits that come with it.
What do we need funding for?
We have been developing the building, but need to get more activities going. We need help to get the café finished off, kitted out and up and running. We have many people coming and going running different rides at different times, trying to put on different events and workshops, but the building needs an activity coordinator to keep everything running more regularly and smoothly. This funding will allow us to kit out the White House to cater for community groups both inside the building and in the activities, and will to allow us to extend our opening days and times. Once we are able to finish off the café and employ a coordinator, the hub will be able to start taking on volunteers, being more productive and to start bringing an income into the building. There is a lot more that could happen at the White House but we need more funding to get it happening. This funding will help to cover staff costs for activities, overhead costs to allow us to run them at the White House and will cover costs of final works to get the café finalised and up and running so it can start generating an income.
What else do we do?
Our bike workshop has steadily been keeping all of these riders on the move over the last few years. Our mechanic has built up a strong relationship with cyclists in the local community, offering sound mechanical workmanship and keeping costs affordable. He has taken on 2 volunteers and provided training and mentorship to two people who are now competent in various aspects of bike repair. He has delivered maintenance sessions to those from the group rides who have become confident on the bike and have been inspired to become self sufficient and competent in basic roadside repairs .
What do we do in the community?
Free Wheel North has been involved in Car Free days and Street Play days in Glasgow. We hope to take part in more of these and to encourage and engage people to join in. We know how important it is to have these community days to get people outside and communicating with each other, away from phones, tablets and other devices. Mental Health is an important topic in society at this time, and we aim to help people find time for themselves by taking part in activity. Devices can have negative impact on individuals health and we help them to explore other forms of activity. There are no pre-requisites or specific skills required to take part in our activities , they are open to everyone, all ages, all abilities, and all genders. The White House will become an information centre for Active Travel, a place where people can come and find out about all things cycling and how to get involved. It is emerging as a cycling hub, with more and more people coming in to find out more about our activities. This funding will help us expand the services we offer by allowing us to employ more staff and to run more rides and activity sessions. We will be able to offer more one to one sessions route planning to help people plan their commute, loan bikes out to individuals or groups , and help people over come any other barriers they have in cycling.
Free Wheel North Testimonial 1
I started going to the FWN led rides several years ago. I had been cycling fairly regularly , but in a pretty aimless way. I saw the led rides advertisement at the White House and decided to give it a try. At first a run across the city to Pollock park seemed like a slog. But gradually I realised that I could go further, and that with proper planning and breaks , like on the FWN rides I was able to stay out for as long as I wanted. As my confidence and fitness improved I started taking on runs I would never have considered. This year I have gone round Arran, cycled in Orkney , Perthshire and in Tenerife .
The biggest challenge I set myself, with support from FWN , getting my bike ready was a charity run from Glasgow to the Scottish Parliament and back the same day. Over 115 miles all on the canal paths. Before going on the led rides 15 miles was a big run.
I also feel confident enough after ride leader training to take young family members and neighbours on local rides .
Two years ago I made a big decision, I sold my car and now cycle just about every day, throughout the year. Free wheel North have helped make me a happier, healthier and more confident person.
Joe now also volunteers at the cycle track at Glasgow Green helping and encouraging others to cycle
Free Wheel North Testimonial 2
I have had a bike as long as I can remember, my Dad was a cyclist, going out with the Glasgow Clarion every weekend. He introduced me to freedom to be found on wheels before I went to school, firstly on a tricycle then with a secondhand two-wheeler which weighed a ton, had no gears & too big for me to sit on the saddle. Most of the children in my street learned to cycle on that bike! I got a Coventry Eagle, 21” frame for my 10th birthday.
I continued to cycle into my adulthood on a variety of bikes. I had to give up cycling for about 10years after a bout of glandular fever followed by years of chronic fatigue, being pensioned from my job in my early 40’s. I started cycling again, slowly slowly before completing several charity bike rides for Marie Curie Cancer Care. I loved long distance cycling & covered many miles Gdańsk to Warsaw, Warsaw to Vilnius, London to Amsterdam, Yosemite to San Francisco. Along with training and commuting to my new job I thought I’d overcome the chronic fatigue till I suffered a major relapse & career number two & cycling were over. After a couple of years I got back on the bike & went along to the opening of Free Wheel North at the Whitehouse. Over the last two/three years I have gone along on rides, usually on a Monday morning.
It’s a great group to be part of, friendly riders, knowledgable & approachable leaders who have the safety & enjoyment of the group as their priority. While the group is very helpful there are times I can’t make it, sometimes for months, but due to the flexible approach taken by FWN, dipping in and out is feasible & removes pressure from riders juggling health problems having to cancel a subscription or be unable to complete a course.
FWN is a very accessible group, it provides health boosting cycles, good chat & banter, cycle care advice, road safety information and an introduction to parts of Glasgow I didn’t know existed. It is open to all, the group is very diverse. You don’t even need a bike as they can provide them. Going out with this group is a very positive experience, even when we’re laughing about being soaked through. I always go home feeling much better than when I started out. A great resource!