Celebrating the value of volunteers

As a small charity with a vision for a cleaner, healthier, and more active Exeter, volunteers are key to Ride On’s success. 

People volunteer as bicycle mechanics, bike foragers to find bikes we can fix up and sell, rickshaw pilots to take elderly people out on rides and fund-raisers to help organise more social and fund-raising events.

Gaining practical and transferable skills, as well as work experience can prove invaluable in finding a job. Lending a hand and developing your existing skills and knowledge is incredibly rewarding and great fun!

To give you a taste of what volunteering at Ride On is really like we put the questions to volunteer, Anna Ross who is gaining lots of new skills.

What does your volunteering involve?

I’ve been working on bike mechanics and maintenance in the workshop.   I help to strip down donated bikes, some of which can be in very unloved states! We clean them up and work out how to refurbish them so they can be passed on, matched with new customers, and loved again.

I have also been writing a volunteer handbook for new volunteers and helping produce a volunteer development programme. 

What do you enjoy about volunteering at Ride On?

 I really enjoy seeing our bikes go to new homes and helping people find the right bike for their needs. I love the variety of everything you can get stuck into at Ride On, and the encouragement I’ve received to give things a go and get involved. 

I feel valued and confident that I can make a difference about something I am passionate about. At the start I simply liked the idea of learning a new skill with bike maintenance which I could use on my own bikes but having quickly got involved in so many other areas I am so excited to be able to promote Ride On further within Exeter and hopefully start new initiatives. 

What are your hopes for the future of Ride On?

​I’m excited to be able to pass on what I’ve learnt at Ride On to others, especially the chance to get more women, and anyone who doesn’t feel confident in a workshop or using tools, involved in bike mechanics. 

My goal now is to set up women’s bike maintenance sessions along with some other volunteers, to get more women into the workshop and empowered to learn these skills and fix their own bikes. 

We’d also like to promote Ride On as a cycling hub within Exeter, where anyone is welcome, whatever their cycling ability or background. I want to help spread the word about everything that goes on at Ride On, especially when we are back up and running fully. And ultimately get more people onto bikes and cycling regularly, not just in Exeter but around Devon. 

If you’re interested in volunteering at Ride On email [email protected] telling us the kind of volunteering you are interested in doing. We will then take it from there!

We love volunteers, so there are lots of opportunities to volunteer! You can give as much or as little time as you can spare.

Notes for Editors

Ride On – Cycling for All

Ride On is Exeter’s hub for all things bike related. If you need a bike call us on 07544 314749 to make an appointment and come and look at our refurbished bikes for sale.

We also provide bicycle maintenance courses and Ready to Ride sessions for key workers, including basic bike maintenance and set up. 

Due to Coronavirus the weekly Bring Your Own Bike DIY maintenance sessions are not running, but Ride On’s Fix it at Home initiative consists of some useful and informative videos, especially for gear indexing and brake adjustment issues. See the website for details www.rideoncycling.org 

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Twitter @RideOnExeter

Instagram @RideOnExeter

Registered charity: 1174055


Women’s workshop sessions

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 we have some very exciting news to share! We will soon be setting up dedicated sessions for women in Exeter to come into the Ride On workshop and learn bike maintenance skills. All experience levels are welcome and the aim of these Women’s Workshop sessions is on friendly encouragement to do something new and meet like minded people. There will be no judgement, no pressure and plenty of tea and cake! 

Who are these sessions for?

We want these sessions to be as inclusive as possible whilst providing a needed place for underrepresented groups of people in bicycle mechanics to come and have a go. They are aimed at anybody who identifies as a woman, or has a non-binary gender identity. This could mean transgender any of the many other various identities which are not ‘male’ or ‘female’ in the traditional sense. We want to be absolutely clear that we include women of colour, trans women, non-binary people and any other women who may feel discriminated against in some areas of feminism. We want to create an inclusive space, full of enthusiasm and friendly encouragement for trying something new. 

Why have sessions aimed just for women?

Growing up, women aren’t typically encouraged to fix bikes or given access to knowledge about mechanics in general. As a result, women can feel like they can’t fix things for themselves, or think it’s a man’s domain. All this can also be true for people with gender-variant identities. When the majority of mechanics are men, it can be hard to step outside of the comfort zone and into their shoes to give it a go. We want to create a women-led space where you are empowered to learn about your bike, share what you know (or just get on with it yourself!), all without the pressure and machismo that sometimes exists in male populated spaces. We hope to encourage more women out on their bikes regularly, and for their bikes to be in better condition and nicer to ride, to build towards Ride On’s aim of a healthier, greener Exeter. 

We also want this to be a community and social space, where women can come together to do something they may have never done before in a space free of judgement and pressure. Women and men learn differently, so being women-led and for women specifically, we aim to address this so that the workshops are valuable and specific to those who come along. Whether it is to learn a new skill or have a space to do a skill they are already passionate about but might feel like they don’t have an outlet for at present. 

What can I expect?

We will finalise the date and time of the first session over the next few weeks. Sessions will be around 2 hours long and include a mix of a structured, mechanic-led lesson about a certain skill and some free time to use what you learn on your own bike, or address any other issues you might want to learn. Participants are encouraged to bring their own bike along to the session to work on, but don’t worry if you don’t have a bike yet or are looking for a new one, as we have a good selection at Ride On that can also be used. It is good to get to know your own bike first so whatever you learn is specific to that bike. We have all tools required available for use in the Ride On workshop, and parts are available to purchase as required. 

Places will be strictly limited at first due to distancing restrictions, but we hope these will ease over the summer so we can gradually open up more places. Keep an eye on our social media channels for further updates on the Women’s Workshop and how you can get involved. If you have any questions or would like to know more about the Women’s Workshop then you can email [email protected] for more information.