From rusty reject to riding again: how NHS porter Eric got back on his bike after 15 years

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Eric Daye at the pop-up bike session held by the Urban Cycle Centre at Prestwich Hospital earlier this month.
Rich Wevill's picture

From rusty reject to riding again: how NHS porter Eric got back on his bike after 15 years

The Big Bike Revival for Key Workers has provided funding for Dr Bike workshops at hospitals around the country. It was at one of these events that grandfather Eric Daye was inspired to start riding again.

In his younger days, Eric Daye used to regularly ride 10 miles each way to his job in Bury.

However, after getting a job further away in Trafford, he switched to a car, and the cycling stopped.

Eric, 66, says it had been 15 years since he last rode a bike, and when he took his two-wheeler out of the loft to inspect it, the words that sprang to his mind were "rough and rusted".

A Dr Bike event held at Prestwich Hospital where he now works as a driver/porter gave Eric a chance to get a service for the bike, and think about getting on the road again through the current pandemic.

Nationwide Cycling Academy helped a number of other frontlne and NHS workers to keep riding at the site, which is overseen by Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust. 

He said: “My colleagues were joking about what a bad condition it was in but the guy fixing it put new brakes on and sorted the gears out. I have been out a few times and I have ridden nearly five miles.”

It is still brilliant. If anyone else is like me and hasn’t ridden for years but is thinking about doing it again, I would definitely encourage them and just tell them ‘get on their bike’.

Eric admitted, he was apprehensive on his first ride: “When I first went out I was scared because it had been a long time since I had done it. I was knackered when I got to the end of the ride but I keep going out and now I am noticing I am getting a bit fitter.”

Eric says the journery to the hospital is around three miles on a (mostly) flat route, with a couple of small hills.

He also hopes it might give him another activity to enjoy which will keep him outside, as his main hobby is an indoor pursuit. “I play a lot of snooker, but cycling is great, because it is really good exercise,” he added. Another benefit is that is also offers potential for precious family time, as Eric's daughter and grand-daughters already cycle.

Traffic levels have gradually been returning to pre-lockdown levels on the roads Eric uses, and he says he can see why so many people are rediscovering the pleasure of riding. He said: “It is still brilliant. If anyone else is like me and hasn’t ridden for years but is thinking about doing it again, I would definitely encourage them and just tell them ‘get on their bike’.”

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