Richard Horton loves to ride his bicycle – and is working hard to get youngsters road-safe, fit and healthy with his cycling group.

The founder of Cockermouth Youth Cycling Group decided to start running the sessions in December 2017 after attending a ride leadership course and feeling inspired to get children off the couch and on their bikes.

Richard, from Deanscales, wanted his own children to benefit from what he’d learnt on the course, and set about teaching Tom, 12, Rosie, 10, and Isabel, eight, how to be safe when cycling on the road and building their confidence on bike rides – and, of course, improving their fitness.

From this, Cockermouth’s first Youth Cycling Group was born, with youngsters aged from eight to 16 getting involved and becoming more competent cyclists with each training ride and endurance session.

The Netherhall School teacher said the group said its hopes to encourage everyone to fall in love with cycling

“Everybody wants their kids to be healthy and get out on their bikes, but nobody has the confidence to go out alone,” he said. “So this group provides parents and kids a stress-free way to learn road safety and enjoy being outdoors on bike rides.”

He quoted comments he has received from parents about his group: “People have told me it can be so difficult to get organised and get the kids out the house and develop healthy habits, and the group helps with this so much.

“I’ve had people say: ‘this whole thing’s going to take off, it’s just amazing!’ and it’s really great to hear.”

Parents are also welcome to tag along for the ride every Saturday morning, when the group meets at Cockermouth School before heading on out for a couple of hours of fresh air and fun exercise. In fact, the more parents get involved with the sessions, the more groups can go for a ride, as with around 25 members looking forward to their weekly cycle plenty of ride leaders are necessary to ensure each person is enjoying the ride safely and is happy with the route.

Richard said: “Everyone can volunteer to get involved and be trained as a ride leader, especially as we’re hoping the group will continue to grow, so any help is definitely welcome.”

The group hope to take part in the racing championship at Carlisle’s new cycle track at the end of the year and were awarded £4,000 by HSBC to buy rollers for the young cyclists to train their endurance and speed at their Friday evening sessions at Cockermouth Leisure Centre.

HSBC UK also led a guided ride for the group on March 10, showing them new routes and supporting the riders.

Robbie George, recreation education officer at HSBC UK British Cycling, said: “The rides are delivered nationwide by a passionate volunteer workforce, who give their time to give recreational riders a great experience on the bike.”

The opportunities in West Cumbria are endless, and even if you’ve passed the Sweet 16 milestone, you can still join the Derwent Valley Cycling Club, like all the youngsters who have passed the group’s age limit.

It’s never too late – or early – to start your cycling journey, and if you or the youngsters in your life want to ride a 20-mile route like Richard’s 12-year-old son, you definitely can with the help of Cockermouth Youth Cycling Group and Derwent Valley Cycling Club.

The Youth Cycling Club meets every Friday evening, 7pm-8pm, at Cockermouth Leisure Centre for endurance training, and every Saturday morning, 10am, at Cockermouth School. Membership costs £15 per person, with a £2 cost per session. For more information, head to the Cockermouth Youth Cycling Group Facebook page – and he’ll tell you, in the friendliest way, to get on your bike!