'If you don't exercise, you rust!' - Norman, 99, leads Suffolk cycling campaign

Norman Kelly and Norman Gregory

Youngster Norman Kelly, 70, with his 99-year-old cycling companion Norman Gregory in Cockfield near Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Suffolk County Council

You're never too old to get on your bike - that's the message from Suffolk County Council which is launching a new spring campaign to try to persuade people to get pedalling again as the days get longer and warmer.

Ride it Out launches this month to encourage Suffolk residents to get out on their bikes like 99-year-old Second World War veteran Norman Gregory who still rides around his home at Cockfield with his good friend Norman Kelly. They are known as the “Cockfield Normans” and cycle at least 10 miles most days.

Mr Gregory said: “If you don't make yourself get up and go out when the weather is ok, you will get worse so you have to keep at it. If you don't exercise you rust!”

Each week there will be a new way to appreciate a bike ride for Suffolk residents to join in. 

The four themed weeks, beginning on Monday March 1 are:

Ride HEALTHY – Week one is a chance for you to get back in the saddle and enjoy the all the health benefits of riding a bike. You’ll sleep better, live longer and smile wider – it’s scientifically proven, say organisers. Even just a 10 minute bike ride will get your heart pumping more blood to your brain which can help improve problem solving, imagine what riding for longer will do.

Ride RELAXED – Week two is all about shifting down a gear and enjoying the ride. Take the time to ride at your own pace, take in your surroundings and just enjoy it. You’ll also lower your stress and anxiety levels and feel more optimistic.

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Ride GREEN – Week three is a chance to swap a regular journey for a bike ride. Not only is this great for the planet, you’ll be freeing up space, on the road and public transport, for key workers. 

Ride FREE – Week four is all about adventure because staying home doesn’t have to mean being stuck. 

Mr Gregory has always been a keen cyclist - in 1939 when he was 17 he cycled from Suffolk to John O Groats and back (1750 miles).

He said: “I was delighted to be asked to be an ambassador for the Love to Ride Suffolk initiative. I have cycled all my life so appreciate the benefits it can provide and hope that I can help inspire more Suffolk residents to get out on their bikes."

Norman Kelly, 70, took up cycling in 2006 after returning to Suffolk from Africa where he had worked for 8 years as a tea planter. He said: “I've never met a doctor who disapproves of cycling and regular exercise and I’m looking forward to supporting the Love to Ride Suffolk programme along with my good friend Norman Gregory.”

You can take part in Ride it Out by registering for free here.  Share your good vibes and bike rides via social media by sharing pictures, rides and stories using the hashtag #RideItOutTogether.

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