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Paul Harper

Paul is an avid cyclist from Taunton. As a member of Cycle Somerset, you can often find him high on the Quantock Hills or cycling up to Fyne Court, enjoying the diverse Somerset scenery with friends and family.

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Tell us about yourself

Can you tell us a little more about why you love cycling and how you first got into it?

Having just celebrated my sixty-ninth birthday and fully retired for some time, I have remained active and involved in sport and outdoor activities. I still play five-a-side football (outdoors) every week (twice weekly once restrictions are lifted on indoor venues), but now my real love is cycling. Although I have always cycled it has become central to both my fitness and social activities.

I have always cycled but until the last few years not particularly seriously. It is something the whole family did and if we went on holiday somewhere we always took the bikes. With the advent of retirement, I suddenly had a lot more time and opportunity to get on my bike and dedicate more time to cycling (my wife is also a keen cyclist). I became a member of Cycle Somerset and haven’t looked back, becoming a Ride Leader and helping to edit the newsletter.

Where are your favourite places to go outside in Somerset?

Many places have plenty to offer but Somerset is such a beautiful county to enjoy in terms of being outdoors, simply based on diversity, variety and contrast. On any one day you can be high on the Quantocks or wandering on the levels, and on frequently an extended ride might mean you are taking in far flung vistas before hurtling down narrow lanes toward the coast.

Do you have any favourite cycling routes in Somerset?

I love the Quantock Hills and nothing beats a cycle up to Fyne Court or, in the other direction, a trip to Langford Budville for a coffee at The White Post cafe. Once you are out there on extended rides your knowledge and appreciation of all the little villages and the lanes that link them expands exponentially. Particular favourites being anywhere on the Somerset Levels, Drayton, the loop to Bishops Lydeard and back, an extended ride to Watchet and up the long valley via Elworthy and anywhere in the foothills of the Blackdowns.

What advice would you give to people who want to get into cycling?

If anyone is interested in getting involved in cycling or a return to it after a break, I would recommend joining a good club like Cycle Somerset, but there are others. My club organises a series of sessions called “Back on Your Bike” (run by Dr Jonathan Sladden) and over a number of weeks enables a small group of riders to go from beginners, or returners, to competent cyclists over longer distances up to twenty-five miles, but more importantly become life-long, active, participants.