Our ‘Better by Bike’ series, allows us to share stories of local residents and their experiences on their bikes. This week, life long Twickenham resident Ginnette shares the story of what motivated her to set up a local bike tour company, Merry Pedaller Bike Tours, and her experiences along the way. You can find her website here.
If you’d like the opportunity of a guest spot on our website to write about anything local and cycling related, do get in touch.
Ever felt like you were in the wrong job and not getting job satisfaction? Well this is how I felt having been an electrician for 14 years – I felt I needed something else. After leaving the UK frankly pretty miffed with the country and its weather, I went and travelled for 6 months through some amazing places. However on my return I felt there was no place like home. Having lived in Twickenham all my life I realised what an amazing place I lived in and ok the weather was rubbish but actually we never get extremes like tornadoes, earthquakes, mud slides and intolerable heat waves – thankfully!
I spent the next year setting up Merry Pedaller Bike Tours, buying 15 bikes, completing a bike mechanics course and learning how to work on them. I brought a full china tea set, cushions and material and my lovely mum made cushion covers for me. I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted….providing historic bike tours with a traditional afternoon tea and cake picnic at the end in beautiful locations. Our tours are not directed at the lycra clad cyclists (although of course they are welcome so long as they can go slowly for the day) instead they are leisurely rides for everyone. Yes, these Olympic bike races have been fantastic at getting people cycling but all the gear still makes some people think it’s dangerous or difficult to do….. we say anyone can cycle!
Next I began learning about my area and the amazing history linked to Royalty, Saxon towns and the best bit….. ale making (one of our tours involves ale tasting and the history of brewing in London). I also met with Royal Parks and explained my plans and thankfully they liked what I proposed and granted me a license to run my tours in Richmond and Bushy Parks with all their history as royal hunting grounds. Oh and I learnt to bake the first cakes in my life…learning from my mother in law. People will soon be coming on our tours just for the home made lemon drizzle cake, vegan carrot cake and yummy chocolate brownies!
So for my first summer I’ve had a ball, showing people this fantastic area has been a joy and I have to say the people who choose to come on a bike tour are pretty cool people! Leisurely cycling, pub lunches, chatting with interesting people and finishing in great locations have been great ways to spend the summer. We’ve combined polo matches and horse racing on our rides and I look forward to running some rugby ones and a half term treasure hunt for kids. In the Winter, no afternoon tea picnic, just mulled wine, mince pies and cosy pubs instead!
I would not have been able to attempt this project without my mum’s help- she sets up the blanket, cushions and sets out the cakes in time for our finish and it’s a welcome sight after a day of cycling!
And the best bit is I will start next summer at about no 45 of 265 tours in London on Trip Advisor – the bible for tourists! So hopefully I’ll start getting known more by tourists and will at last be able to pay my mum!