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Meet Ben Pennington

I’ve cycled since I can remember. My Dad was a whippet-like man who would take us up to the Lake District to have some ‘fun’ climbing the hills. 

I got out of the habit as an adult but the pandemic saw me back in the saddle clocking up miles on a chunky hybrid bike. 

Then a couple of years ago my brother gave me a road bike he wasn’t using any more. It had been so long since I’d ridden a ‘racer’ that I couldn’t find the gear levers at first, but Iconquered my disbelief at how thin the wheels were and was hooked after the first ride. 

It was a rapid descent into infatuation, peaking while on holiday in Mallorca last year. Seeing groups of cyclists flying by on bikes I’d never seen in real life, I decided I really needed tobroaden my cycling experiences. I looked up Southend Wheelers when I got home and joined the club in late 2023. 

I was apprehensive at first. I’d seen ‘proper’ cyclists when I was out on my own; they looked the part and cycled effortlessly, and I worried that a club wasn’t the place for cyclists like me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

Everyone went out of their way to make me welcome, making sure I was comfortable with the Sunday club rides I joined, and the club has a strong social element to it which committee members and ride leaders are deliberate about encouraging. There is something for all types of riders at Southend Wheelers, from racing and reliability rides to track training and cycling holidays.

2024 has been all about trying new experiences and seeing how I can improve, because the best thing about joining Southend Wheelers has been those things I didn’t expect to try. The coaching team are generous with their time and advice; I’ve done three different distance time trials and rode from Southend to Paris this summer on a club-arranged trip. 

Most of all, I’ve moved more, seen more of the horizon and met a lot of really good people.

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