Saturday, 30 May 2015

Route plotting

Yesterday & today were two days of walking with Frank in the pram round paths off main roads that I use to get home from Burnley and Nelson. Often when sitting in the car or on the bus, I see interesting looking roads and paths, well now I've had some proper exploring time and hope to try and stitch things together for a Rough-Stuff ride. Ideally I'll be out one day next week with the push-iron.

Yesterday I walked down to visit my best friend's mum. I aimed for getting there as much off the main road as possible. A couple of paths I had to turn back on since they got a bit too muddy, another one had a very big staircase and to get round would have meant a massive detour. An elderly lady walking a dog asked if I wanted a hand with the pram. I was reluctant to accept since Frank & pram are heavy and she looked well into her eighties, but she just grabbed onto the front end and started down the staircase. Frank thought this was hilarious. Next path was a lovely little secluded corner with beautiful cottages and gardens that felt like some secret passage straight from San Francisco. It was lovely... and narrow... and a tad overgrown. I mashed the pram wheels to & fro to make headway and again Frank started laughing his socks off at this.

Today's walk was back up home up the other side of the hill, from Pendle Village Mill. I discovered a way to cross the railway and I snaked up & down paths & tracks as we worked our way home.  We even managed to startled a wild deer down a wooded road to some fancy pants houses.
I had a breather (and Frank had a bottle) overlooking one of the nicest views I can think of around here.
It felt good to be out & about exploring new bits of my home turf & I'm looking forward to getting another local ride sussed out.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Family Friendly Camping Trip - Selby

This year's RSF family friendly camping trip was at Selby. And this was my first time there as part of a family and Frank's first camping trip at 11 weeks old.
The cycling was probably the easiest we've ever encountered on a family friendly camp, but this year there were significantly more children riding their own bikes.
Stephen and I took a shift system on Sunday's ride since Frank's too young to be in a bicycle seat. So I stayed in the tent on mum duty in the morning whilst Stephen pedalled, I then met up at the lunch stop and we swapped over.

Ian had ridden over from Southport the day before and since we'd both missed the saturday ride, after the sunday route finished, we blasted around the other route- some strong headwinds, but with a pub stop we had some beery energy. At another pub we passed we heard cheers and saw three other members who had decided to ride to another pub. We regrouped and enjoyed some fun whizzing back to camp.

Frank did really well in the tent- just two extra blankets in his travel cot (one underneath and one and top) and a hat and he slept through til the birds woke him up at dawn.  The only real problem was that everything was too interesting to him, so there were no naps and it took quite a while for him to settle down for sleep.

On Monday I'd hoped to cycle back to Hadfield on the Trans-Pennine-Trail to get the train back from the Manchester area. Ian was going back in the same direction so we set off into a headwind. We managed to loose the trail (possibly a missing sign) so decided to skip part of it and after some discussion with two cyclists in a cafe, a route through some pretty villages was established. This made for some smoother cycling (I was on my mixte so this was ok) and cut off a corner near Doncaster.

The lanes here had lovely gentle hills which made for very enjoyable cycling. We rejoined the trail near Mexborough and made a detour into Barnsley for a McDs fuel stop. Alas as we neared Silkstone Common my muscles were feeling it- there's not much protein in McD's veggie options- that combined with a headwind, a prompt pace, a more road orientated bicycle on rougher terrain and the lack of long-distance throughout maternity leave meant I was spent by Pennistone.

The section between Silkstone & Pennistone was brilliant fun though; really lovely views and fun tracks that was just up my street.

At Pennistone we got on the train. With hindsight it would have probably made more sense to get a proper tea and a rest and carry on for the 14 mile section over the Woodhead Pass & into Hadfield; the trains were an expensive chore (two changes) and three & a half hours later I had to get Stephen to collect me from Todmorden since the train home wasn't going all the way & I didn't fancy getting a fourth train later. I got back home about 10.15pm. The trains put a bit of a downer on what had been a lovely day's riding. But I have an open return so plan on doing a further section soon.

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.