Friday, 22 May 2015

View from the settee

I only managed one tiny ride this week; into Nelson for the Pendle cycle forum.
Wow there's a lot of cycling events there in the next few months. In the run up to this year's Colne Grand Prix and the Tour of Britain's second day stage through Ribble Valley & Pendle, there will be rides on which will tandem with the Lancashire Cycle Challenge (many of which will be listed on the new Cycle Lancashire website).  Pendle Cycling festival runs over summer until Sept, the brochure can be found here, but as additional rides are listed, they will go on the Cycle Lancs site.  I wasn't in time to list the RSF rides in the brochure (what with giving birth and new mum duty), but I'll be leading some beginner rides and at least one big ride.

If you haven't heard of the Lancs Cycle Challenge and you ride a bike, where have you been over the last three years? Work places compete to win prizes in the hope to encourage new people to ride a bike and to up the mileage of current cyclists.  It's not just commutes that count, all rides over the three week period in June count, so get your work place registered and have some competitive fun!  No chance I'll be winning any prizes this time since there won't be any commutes for another couple of months for me.

And if you're not local, but love cycling Pendle is a brilliant base to enjoy a cycling holiday; it's right next to the Yorkshire Dales & Ribble Valley, not to mention that it's a stones throw from Calderdale so if you like climbing hills you could not be disappointed. Equally if you prefer gentler rides the Leeds Liverpool canal forms a beautiful corridor to tailor leisurely rides from. We have great off-roading too; the Pennine bridleway and Mary Towneley Loop are all in the vicinity. Lancashire really is a great place to visit & cyclists and walkers who live here know how lucky we are.  We're now fully connected to the rail network from Leeds, Manchester (via Burnley) and Preston so visiting with your bike is easy!   Can you tell I'm missing my bike miles? ;-)

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Infrastructure & Equality Musings

One of my hats is some rudimentary voluntary stuff for Cyclenation (a federation of cycling groups who offer support and a voice at national level for smaller groups).  I posted a link that I thought might have been of interest to cycle user groups, to the governments Cycle Proofing Working Group. which sparked up a discussion with a lady who felt the document is too weak with its language and who commented that:
"There is insufficient consciousness in cycling community of equality act 2010, the public sector equality and its potential power. All the more important post election. Use it or lose it."

Certainly accessibility issues to cycling infrastructure are commented on at the local authority user group that I attend, but this comment did really make me think. Looking at the Act, when it comes to the transport section, cycling doesn't even get a mention here. This is now something that strikes me as obviously missing following my pregnancy where I struggled to walk, but was perfectly fine cycling, making me realise that bicycles really area a great way to improve the independence of certain groups that the Act serves, and that's not beginning to think about adaptive cycles. 

There is a section of the Act about Advancement of Equality & the duties of local authorities, which made me rethink the 'potential power' mentioned. 

As an able bodied person, I don't really give much consideration to accessibility of cycle infrastructure other than the times me & my husband have had to hoik a loaded tandem over barriers on cycle routes, or that wonderful terrifyingly steep long staircase on the Trans-Pennine-Trail (which is a route that people tour on with loaded bikes) where I had to manhandle my panniers, then my bike down it, which was unsafe for me as a reasonably fit young adult. 

The musings have brought the Act to the forefront of my mind and hopefully now it will be something I will think about at cycle user group forums. I wonder how much consideration is given to it at road / cycle infrastructure design meetings and whether there is always representation from a range of user groups. 
Perhaps this is something cycle user groups should be asking at each meeting with local authorities etc. to bring it to the forefront of more people's thoughts.  Surely cycle infrastructure that is built on the 'power of the Equality Act' would be far superior to most of the infrastructure that heads our way at the moment.  

Although in Preston, the latest redesign of the main road through town won few praises from cyclists or people with disabilities following consultation. A compromised design to try to appease both groups ended up making it more dangerous for both. Perhaps had there been some longer consultation, the design could have worked better and satisfied everyone. But as I'm sure many people involved in cycle user groups will know, time limits and what is deemed as realistic can frequently be the key to authorities securing funding to complete any work at all. The government want to see a design & local authorities often present a design that they know that they can complete rather than anything that is bold and really challenges designs.


Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The familiar loop

I missed the weekend's club ride on account of two overnight feeds. By the time I'd come round properly there wasn't the time to make a full day's adventure so I did the trusty old loop around Black Hameldon, Worsthone & Widdop Moors. 

I used to do this loop often when I lived at home with my mum (as opposed to home with the husband - mum's still feels like home). It's a very natural feeling 20-odd mile loop, it flows well, you dont have to think about navigating, so you can just enjoy the views as you glide along once you've climbed up to the tops.
Unless of course there's a headwind, which at some point will be the case; you don't build windfarms on moors like these without a good reason. 

I was passed by just about every cyclist out there too. But all the guys riding solo did look like they were out there to train rather than to admire the views.

It being May 10th, it was this year's Cyclofemme date, getting out & showing some lady cyclist solidarity was called for; skirt, but no heels today.  Maybe some ladies in cars passing might have thought 'huh, I dont need all that sporty gear, I might give it a try'.

Thursden Valley

Widdop Reservoir

Pendle Hill behind Briercliffe

Friday, 8 May 2015

Seeking out climbs

A sunny evening so of course I took the chance to cycle up to Mum's for a brew. 
Maternity leave means no cycle commuting, which is the basis of my cycling fitness. Round here it's a bit hilly and it's the hill climbing fitness that I don't want to loose. So on my opportunities to ride, I'm picking the steeper hills on each route.

And last night's beautiful weather was an ideal opportunity to take the extra scenic route from one side of town to the other and back.
Happily in spite of significantly reduced cycling, I got up all the hills no problem. In fact two actually felt easier than usual. Perhaps my legs are less fatigued now I'm not cycling every single day or perhaps all those hills (the really steep ones) that I avoid when I'm traversing town during busier hours on the roads, have become less steep when I compare them to the routes I choose for days out exploring.

It was lovely to go this way again. I usually pick the most direct route to save time- on work days that is because my daily commute is already 30 miles all together and the fact that I need to pop to mum's most days means I choose to go through the town centre and save time for practical reasons.

But this way is far more lovely, the extra hills do mean nicer views and it means pedalling away from the town centre out towards the fields.
There is a field of horses who always come up to say 'hello' and I always oblige and stop to pet them; it's ideal as this is just before a section of freewheeling. And it's the ideal place to text Stephen to put the kettle on before the last drag.

No matter which way I go, there is always a big climb to get home.
But there is always a cup of tea waiting for me when I get through the door. 
The top of the climb. It starts far below where you can see here

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

To the wrong side of Pendle

My identity regained for an hour or two
The babe's at home with Dad on duty.
My steel French steed gleams in the sun
We head for lanes filled with spring beauty.

Blacko Tower looms, I freewheel beneath
On to tree lined roads dappled with light.
The shade a relief as the climbing begins,
A few breathers as my legs feel the bite.

I reach the top to see Pendle ahead,
The road silent, spinning forward, carefree.
A Dales vista opens up in the distance
A glimpse then the road drops sharply, weeeeee.

Cornering wide and feathering the brakes;
Bluebells, lambs, new views at every bend.
The world around livens, Sunday cyclists a-plenty.
Clitheroe Castle now in sight, I near the end

Beside the Ribble, past the cement works, the last leg.
One final climb through town to the castle gate;
Cherry blossom above, bright against the blue sky.
A big smile then a kiss, my baby and husband await.

Friday, 24 April 2015

And a sunset ride

And the second ride of the day - a drab sunrise this morning, a drab sunset this evening.
22 miles to a meeting to form a committee regarding aiming to get a new greenway sorted out in the area. It will be a lot of work and will be a slow process, but if we're successful it will be really wonderful.

10 miles to the meeting then 12 off-road dark miles to mums and home. Felt great, although my legs were feeling it after the recent spate of rides, but that's what it's all about; no pain, no return to cycling fitness gain. And I had the first stitch I've had since PE lessons at secondary school... a loonnng time ago. Had forgotten how much they hurt.

Good morning bicycle, good morning world


Dawn chorus. Baby's fed
Short ride to catch the sunrise
It did not blossom


I'm back on the bicycle in full force... as much as I can be with a 7 week old. I've managed a whole 63 miles in the last fortnight. Wow. Unimpressive. But it's not about mileage targets, more the wind in my hair and enjoying the countryside. And trying to maintain some cardiovascular fitness since motherhood seems to mean I'm largely confined to a chair underneath a baby.

I ventured out with the ctc last week for the first time. About half way round I was starting to feel it, but then a road club ride is a different beast to a RSF ride or even a solo ride. My thighs and forearms have dwindled away somewhat which affected climbing the hills. But I didn't dismount and perseverance is the key. 

Since then I've just had very short rides of a handful of miles each since I can fit them in around feeding times and Stephen's working day most easily. Evening blasts and this morning's chilly ride to try and catch a good sunrise - turns out I was about 20mins early- as I got back into bed the sun did in fact bloom into a glowing fireball.

We managed a lovely walk to the pub for tea last weekend and Frank was very well behaved indeed.
He's starting to have a bit more time where he's happy to quietly take things in and do a bit of chatting to us. 
And we're getting plenty of lovely smiles now too. 

This weekend is due to consist of three more rides although the weather forecast is a bit bobbins, but these are rides to places (a meeting and a pub gig) and a club ride I'm leading, so back to cycling business as well as cycling pleasure. Time to reproof my rain gear and dub my boots. Pennine weather as usual.