One last bike ride before the birth? Possibly.
Yesterday I had a lovely 21 mile pootle taking the 'scenic' route to Accrington for the inaugural Hyndburn cycle forum. I rode mostly off road on a route that I often commute home on in winter, simply because it's mostly away from traffic (albeit miles further). I'd hit early commuter time on the sole stretch of road, so took advantage of the incredibly ambiguous signage that shows a shared use path by way of a blue circular sign only - at no point can you tell where the bikes are supposed to go, or where (if indeed) it ends. Being full term pregnant can have strange effects on your body when cycling; like the need to stop if you get a twinge or boot in the ribs, so the ambiguous pavement/shared path cycling seemed a logical option (esp as it's 12 minutes of uphill on an A-road). Plus I see people cycling on the pavement here regularly, a clear desire line for pedal power to the business parks in the area.
The last stretch was canal and disused railway. A guy who looked the spit of John Simm passed me on an old drop-handle steed as I was taking a photo. Anyone know if John Simm cycles? He is from the area & I once saw him having a barny with his girlfriend in the carpark at ASDA, so it wouldn't be out of the realms of possibility that it really was him. He sped by too quickly for me to sneak a photo.
The forum was very well attended which I hadn't expected. Thanks to Alasdair from the local authority for getting the first meeting off the ground. It was very interesting to hear about the work going on already that I knew nothing of and I'm sure some people would have found initiatives they can tap into for their work.
Hopefully it will pave the way for some joined up work and increased
rates of cycle use in the area over the next few years as the East Lancs
cycle infrastructure improves and things like the Huncoat Greenway finally get completed (of course that is on the assumption that the government does actually provide the funding that's been indicated). And I'm hoping to be able to lend some of my time to a couple of groups to lead some rides in the future. Watch this space, as things develop over the year, I'll be letting everyone know.
It was great that there was such positivity within the group about routes that already exist and how they can be fully utilised. The area really has a wealth of off road sections, though many of these require that people are happy to get a bit muddy. Not exactly Dutch standard, but personally as someone who commutes through Hyndburn to get to the office in a borough at the other side, anything that makes my ride feel safer always gets a thumbs up from me. I am by nature most at home riding off road.
The meeting finished at 8 and by then there was some rain. Mac, hat, scarf donned I enjoyed the tail wind that pushed me along the main road back home. I happily discovered that (as discussed with someone in the parks team) a gate into the cemetery had been left open meaning I could enjoy a traffic free climb away from a truly horrible junction. Alas as I was repositioning my off-road light, I hit the only pot hole in the cemetery full on. Ouch! Luckily, my beaten up Raleigh has bomb proof wheels and the angled stem tends to soak up anything like that very nicely. Another off-road park stretch later and I was enjoying a brew at mum's.
It feels very weird that cycling is still the easiest way to get around. I can't walk very far anymore and can only go at snails pace, but give me my bike and pregnancy suddenly has little effect on my mobility. It reminds me of someone in the cycling club who has trouble with his feet; he's unable to walk far and has a disabled badge for when he's in town etc. but he pulls his bike from his car and is leading rides for the rest of us.
I wonder how many people with mobility problems would even consider that a bicycle could be the answer to them being more independently mobile - probably not many. I know it wouldn't work for all, but I'm sure a significant number of people's lives could be transformed if they tried it out.
And here for a laugh is me feeling well & truly fed up with being pregnant; well a massive bump attached to a 5'1'' tall, 7.5 stone dripping wet person makes you feel like this. Thanks husband for this gem.