Tuesday, 15 November 2011

NCN 524 Nuneaton / Tamworth - we have a route

I went out with Sustrans area manager Ed Healey yesterday and we rode the proposed route for NCN 524 from Nuneaton to Tamworth and its looking good. The proposed route is here http://ridewithgps.com/routes/818820.

It took us a while to figure out the best way out of Nuneaton station but in the end we settled on the south of the ringway heading clockwise. Marginally long than the anticlockwise route, but cycle paths and crossings are good and there are plenty of places to hang signs.
Once off the ring road, the minor roads worked pretty well. A little disappointing that the bridge where we cross NCN52 does not have good access to the towpath (quite a few steps). However there are reasonable links to the next bridge where access is better. Whittleford Park (pictured) worked OK although surface was not great in places and we still have to find the best exit place from the park near Bucks Hill. Places to stick signs also look a little limited.

Once on the North Warwickshire cycle way its all pretty straightforward although we are planning to deviate from it for a short while as we think we have found a better route. After the bridleway at the end of Ridge Lane we propose to take the first left which gets us off the fast B4116 Coleshill Road sooner. We rejoin the North Warwickshire cycleway just west of Baxterley.

From here the route through Wood End is fine (a bit hilly) and the lanes through Whateley are very pretty. Once we are in Tamworth its cycle paths all the way - all with good road crossings. We choose a route to the west through Dosthill, the river and along Peelers Way. This seems to give a good balance of speed, ease of signing and safety.

So there are a few details left to iron out. Ed needs to get sign on from the councils. We then need to to a detailed signing survey (what signs do we need, where can we stick them?) before finding some willing volunteers to do the signing.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

East Midlands Region Group Coordinator Meeting

On Sat 22nd Oct ,Group Coordinators from the East Midlands met up in Derby. Les Sims who hosted the meeting has produced some notes, but there were a few other points I thought it would be useful to feedback.

Derby Cycling.
Derby has some great cycle routes. Coming from the south it was an easy (albeit quite long) ride to get to our meeting place at Derby station. Signing was very good with lots of traffic free routes right into the town centre. For a pre-meeting ride we cycled out to Etwell along NCN 54 much along an old railway track. At Etwell the route joins NCN 68 the Pennine Cycleway which will take you a hilly 355 miles to Berwick! It was only fairly recently that I became fully aware of the extent of this route. A well kept secret.

Meeting Points

Simon Geller who is the secretary for CycleNation gave some feedback on their recent annual conference in Sheffield. I must admit I had not heard of them before. They are an umbrella organisation for regional campaigning groups. You might want to check them out http://www.cyclenation.org.uk/index.php

Freshairmiles rides
I think there is a general problem in recruiting people onto rides - particularly novice riders. The key learning points from the discussion seemed to be:
- do something other than just a cycle ride - e.g a historical tour
- talk about time rather than mileage
- aa series of rides rather than a one off

FreeRange Kids
Dave Stevens from Sustrans outlined this campaign. It brings together a number of initiatives Sustrans has been doing for a while - "safe routes to schools", "diy streets", "bike it". There was a discussion about how ranger groups can support the campaign. There seemed to be a mixture of top down actions (e.g. policy and campaigning) and bottom up - lobby for a particular local issue (e.g. a cycle path to a local school).

As much as I like Coalville

If you are travelling north on NCN 52 (as I was) and you want to go to Melbourne or Derby and beyond then NCN 52 will work for you taking you from Ravenstone through Coalville, Whitwick and Grace Dieu to meet NCN 6 at Osgathorpe.

Thats fine, but not great if you are in a hurry - there are a number of off road sections and it is slow. Using NCN 52 /6 to get from Ravenstone to Worthington (the start of the Cloud Trail) on NCN 6 measures 9 miles. Use minor roads through Sinope, Coleorton and Newbold and the distance come down to just over 5 miles!! Yes there are a couple of quite busy roads to cross, but mostly they are quiet country lanes.

Heres a link to the route in more detail http://ridewithgps.com/routes/783263/ choose the map background to be "OSM Cycle" to see the NCN at the same times.

I'm not suggesting a reroute, but it might be useful to establish this as a route in its own right. What do others think - particularly Joe, Keith

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Audax first timer

I had an aim this year to do 100 miles in a day - not sure why, but it seemed like a good idea. I knew I didn't want to do it on my own so I started looking around for local events. I found a number of organised Sportive and Audax rides. I struggled to find the difference, but as far as I could establish Sportives were more serious - riding hard and fast and not stopping much and Audaxs more relaxed - plenty of tea and cake stops. So it was an Audax for me.

My son Kevin and I found a convenient 150km Audax starting out of Derby (where he lives) on a gloriously sunny day at the beginning of October. Registration was simple and easy (and cheap) and we were sent a route cue sheet and also a link to a downloadable GPS route. Kevin spent many happy hours with his smartphone / GPS and failed. I went low tech and found a plastic bag, a piece of hardboard, a cable tie and a couple of bulldog clips - fantastic.

We set out from Derby about 8:30 after a welcome tea and biscuits. Just 31 riders - I had expected more. There were 5o for the 100km ride which started a little latter. First stop the cafe at Moira 50km away which we arrived at without mishap about 2 hours later. We stopped here for tea and cakes - very nice.

Replenished we carried on west through Staffordshire and some very pretty lanes and villages to our next stop and check point another 50Km away at Bramshall. All was going well and we were nearly there when Kevin got a "snake bike" puncture on a fast downhill. Spare tube out we thought we would have it changed in 5 mins. Not so - Kevin had deep profile rims and we had short valve stems. After much faffing about we were rescued by a fellow rider who had a spare with longer valve stems - 45 minutes wasted though. We were glad of the next checkpoint to clean up, get some sandwiches and to recount our tail of woe.

Refreshed we set off on the final 50km now heading broadly east back towards Derby. A bit of tricky navigation for a while but well described on the route cards. Then onto Long Lane which was a 10km slog. After this a final few kms back into Derby where we were welcomed with a lavish spread of tea, sandwiches and cakes.

A great day out and one which we will certainly repeat. Everbody was very friendly and very helpful and we were made to feel welcome. Sometimes we rode on our own, sometimes we joined up with other groups, but we did not feel pressured to go any particular pace. At the end of the day we had been in the saddle for almost exactly 6 hours and had taken about 8.5 hours (would have been less without the puncture stop). Because of the cafe stops it felt more like 3 50km rides rather than a 100 mile ride and was easier than I had anticipated. That said we weren't fit to do much afterwards than collapse to the nearest pub for a welcome drink and more food.

If you want to try it out the Audax UK website has a list of events and a map view will show you what is going on near you. http://www.aukweb.net/events/ and here is our 150km route http://www.bikeroutetoaster.com/Course.aspx?course=300955

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Route 52: Coaville 6 São Paulo 5997

About a month ago, I came across possibly the most exotic cycle tourist to grace Route 52 for many a year. Hermando is a traffic cop from São Paulo, Brazil and was looking lost and tired between Barton and the Beans and Odstone (where the 52/63 meet), hoping to get to Derby. Anyway, he looked too tired to get to Derby, so I took him back to ours, out for a pub dinner and then let him kip in the spare room.

The shame at Hermando getting lost on my patch has motivated to improve the signage from Congerstone to Worthington. I've replaced all old-style or vandalised signs. I've put some confirmation signs in after junctions. I've put up 20-odd destination patches, most of which replace existing arrows and tell potential users about what is actually of interest on the route eg. mileage to towns/cities (Derby, Loughborough, Coalville, Nuneaton, Market Bosworth) and visitor attractions (currently Battlefield Centre only.)

I hope we can have a look at signing as a group and see what we can get sorted out.

The 52/63 links pretty much all of the visitor attractions in our area together: Grace Dieu, Snibston Discovery, Battlefield Line, Battlefield Centre, Conkers/Cycle Centre/YHA/Camping, Moira Furnace...we should aim to make people feel that they are on a 'network' which connects these visitor attractions, towns and little villages together. We also need to make sure signing is very clear where routes meet (52/63 and 52/6). Currently, the highways signing only really tells you which village is next. So, I can see why Hermando got lost!

However, our number one priority as a group should be improving the signage to...Belcher's Bar. It is a small hamlet near Ibstock just after the 63 crosses the A511. It does exist, it is on the maps and my Gran confirms that it is called Belcher's Bar. For comedy value, we need to get some destination patches for it ASAP!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

All towns should be like this

Tamworth seems to have 2 claims to fame. It is apparently the fattest town in the UK (you heard it here first) and it has some of the best cycle facilities I have seen in a town. Clearly the fat people should be getting out and using them. So why was I on Tamworth anyway?

Well as you may have seen on previous posts we are looking to establish a route between Tamworth and Nuneaton. We surveyed the whole route a month or so ago but there were issues getting through Nuneaton and also around the Whateley area outside Tamworth there was a nasty stretch on Trinity Lane adjacent to the M42. So I set off to Tamworth to see if there was a viable westerly route through Dosthill / Whateley area and the answer was yes there is.

I have described the route below, but first a word on Tamworth town cycling. Pick up a copy of the Tamworth cycle map (PDF here) and you are immediately struck by how many green routes there are. These are off road segregated cycle paths that take you around and through the town. Sure some are by the sides of roads, but many are through parks and open spaces. Whats more they interlink, they have good road crossings, are well signed and well surfaced - a delight to cycle.

Anyway enough gushing, what about the route?

I have not mapped out the route yet, but with the description below you should be able to follow the route easily on the Tamworth Cycle Map (see link above).

From the station, the route initially follows the cycle path along Saxon Drive before getting away from the road onto paths through the park and past the Snowdome. The route then broadly follows Peelers Way. After crossing Peelers Way the route joins some quiet estate roads for a short stretch before picking up another off road path alongside the River Tame. We then join another quiet estate road again which takes us to Dosthill Park. From here we follow a cycle path along the Tamworth Road, before crossing over the road to take another cycle path alongside Hedging Lane. The end of Hedging Lane is a bit of a pull up, but nothing too bad and the cycle path ends a little before the right turn into Hockley Lane. Hockley Lane leads into Whateley Lane which is a delightful single track lane which takes you through Whateley (a little hilly) and across the M42. A short right / left dogleg takes you across Trinity Lane and you are then on your way to Wood End and Nuneaton beyond.

A good route methinks I would be interested in your views.


PS If you decide you have to see Tamworth why not take a trip to see the Staffordshire Hoard. Its free, but you have to book. Better still if you are going to Camp Conkers, Shawn will take you there.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Into Nuneaton on a bike

In a previous post I talked about a "reccie" to survey the proposed NCN route between Tamworth and Nuneaton. The route into Nuneaton from Hartshill / Chapel End proved a bit of a headache on the first outing as we battled along major roads. A more detailed look at the Nuneaton Cycling map and some routes posted by Nuneaton CTC (here) suggested there was a better way. So I set off to find out.

This is the proposed route cycling into Nuneaton. From Chapel End it doglegs across the main Coleshill Road (there is a crossing nearby). After the dogleg it picks up Waggestaff Drive (not shown some maps) and uses quiet estate roads to get to Bucks Hill.

Almost opposite is the entry to the off road cycle tracks into Whittleford Park, unfortunately there are 5 or 6 shallow steps to contend with. The (large) kissing gate is not as bad as it first seems. Having read the CTC route description again it looks as though there could be a better entrance a little further up the road - I need to check this out.
There are various tracks through Whittleford Park - I'm not quite sure I chose the right one, but it was very pleasant. There are a few "restrictors" to deal with, but not too bad.
At the exit to the park (by Willow Road) the route joins estate roads towards Nuneaton centre. The proposed route crosses the NCN52 canal section along Vernons Lane, but unfortunately this is only accessible via some steep steps. The canal is however accessible at the next bridge both up and down so I need to check out the links better.
At the end of Fife Street the route crosses a park for a short distance before emerging on Pool Bank Street. A short distance on a shared use path and the route joins the (Roanne) Ringway. A shared use path then goes clockwise around the ringway until you get to Asda rounabout. Here there seems little alternative but to join the main road for the last few hundred yards round to the station.
Coming in the other direction from the station the route needs to be slightly different because of the one way system and has to follow a loop around Regent Street and Back Street. Not great to cycle but there are some shared use pavements and crossings that can be utiled most of the way and it is only a short distance.

So in summary I would say that this is a good route. It is reasonably direct and doesn't have too many crossings. I want to go back and look for a better way in to Whittleford Park and investgate the links to NCN 52. All comments welcome.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Hinckley (freshairmiles) Rides 2011

We have spent a very pleasant couple of Tuesday evenings exploring the lanes around Hinckley. The original idea of the rides was to provide a sociable cycling activity for a number of cyclists who had recently been trained by LCC.
Uptake was a little disappointing (holidays were almost certainly a factor) but those who came along said they enjoyed it.

The 19th July saw a group of 5 of us cycle the lanes out to Stoke Golding, a refreshment stop there and return by a different (hillier!) route. The evening ended with a drink back at the Milestone.

The 26th July saw a group of 8 of us tackling a slightly longer route. We used the path by the side of Stoke Lane (is this a cycle path?) to take us to Dadlington. Here we resisted the newly reopened Dog & Hedgehog and instead had squash on the village green (what willpower!). From here we took an undulating (OK it was hilly!) route back through Stoke Golding and Wykin. We even managed a mile or two on Route 52. The evening finished with a drink back at the Milestone.

Yes we would have liked to have got a few more people out but I think everybody enjoyed themselves. What next?

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Tamworth to Nuneaton on a bike

View Tamworth to Nuneaton in a larger map
Shawn and I had a very pleasant afternoon out recently in the company of Ed Healey (Sustrans area manager for West Midlands) and Katie AT (Sustrans Volunteer Coordinator south). We were a little off patch but were doing a "reccie" on a new planned NCN route between Tamworth and Nuneaton. The proposed route here was put together by Ed and Patrick Davis (retired Sustrans Area manager for East Midlands).

My first time to Tamworth on a bike and I have to say I was impressed. Plenty of off road cycle paths provided an easy route out of town. (maps here if you are interested). Nuneaton was a very different story - the cycling provision here is very poor and we struggled to find an acceptable route from Hartshill to our intended destination at Nuneaton Station. Suggestions from anybody who knows Nuneaton well would be very welcome.

The only other real problem area was around Whateley south of Tamworth. Here a promising link turned out to be a footpath rather than a bridleway and we needed to cycle for a stretch along Trinity Lane which was none too pleasant with lots of heavy traffic. We want to look at another route (to the West) out of Tamworth which should avoid this bit of road.

The meat of the route was very pleasant utilising parts of the North Warwickshire Cycleway and passing by Hartshill Hayes Country Park

So a bit more exploration needed, but overall this looks promising. Ed sees that this could be Ranger signed. The Nuneaton group has a new Group Coordinator (john Gabriel) so this could be a project that they would pick up, however I'm sure they would welcome help from us. I plan to get in touch with John shortly.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Watermead Park and NCN 6

Oh the benefits of retirement. Jane and I had a free day today so we decided to take a trip out to Watermead park in Leicester and see how Sustrans have been spending their Connect2 money, and at the same time we (well me anyway) wanted to try out NCN 6 through the middle of Leicester. Well what a great day we had. Watermead is a great place - lots of water!, great cycle tracks and hardly anybody there.

I struggled initially to find any maps, but eventually stumbled across this leaflet http://www.leics.gov.uk/watermead_connect2_print.pdf which shows the proposed scheme. We decided to try and cycle from just outside Cossington into Watermead. This is shown on the map as a new path but unfortunately it was not really much more than a footpath. I don't know if anything will be done about it in the future - we talked to some other cyclists who use the route regularly from Silesby and were very keen to see it upgraded. Anyway we managed to ride a bit and walk a bit and once we reached the River Wreake we managed to cycle and just had to lift the bikes up a few steps at one bridge.

We had a very nice pub stop at the White Lion at Birstall which is pretty much where we picked up route 6. From here NCN 6 follows some very pretty waterside including Abbey Park which was lovely. NCN 6 across the city itself is also pretty good. Plenty of twists and turns to keep off busy roads, but it is all well signed (well done Leicester Rangers). A little way past De Montford Uni, NCN 6 joins the Great Central Way to get you out of the centre of the city to the world beyond.

At this point however it was time for us to turn around as Andy Murray was soon due on court for his quarter final. We made it home just in time and a win for Andy capped a great day out.

Festival of Leisure Sustrans stand

The previous post from Shawn told you about the Fresh Air Miles ride at the Festival of Leisure at Church Gresley. Take a look on the Derby Blog to see the stand we manned over the weekend. Well done to Shawn and Ben for organising. A big thank you to Les for providing and transporting the stall and thanks also to Keith and Eric for their help over the weekend.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Festival of Leisure Bike ride. The Conkers Circuit

The fresh air miles ride around the Conkers Circuit was sparsely attended (4 rangers, 10 enthusiastic members of the public) but was enjoyed by all. Here is a picture record of a passable first organized ride for the Gresley Rangers- the weather was scorching (35C) but everyone was up to the challenge and all went away with smiles and pleasant memories-I hope!

first the briefing-everyone listen up! Ben!

All set for the off- now were's the local MP when you need her!

The girls enjoying a much needed rest at the Navigation-Half way now!

How come the leader is at the back?-Top side Albert village Lake.

Speeding around the lake to check out....

The vociferous rescue dogs...Newfoundland??

Back at base. Les please put the kettle on we are proper parched!!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Stoke Golding cycle group is born (again)

Way back when we were young and fit we used to go to Jim Burn's keep fit class at St Martins. When school was out for summer hols we jumped on our bikes pedalled the lanes and had a chat and a pint or two. They were good evenings. Now many years on I decided it was time for a rebirth. So I made a few phone calls to other ex keep fitters and a few other likely (and not so likely) people. Response was positive although quite a few said "but not this week".Anyway on Thursday 19th May the first ride got under way with a small but select band of people - myself, Geoff, Bernie, Colin & Nick.

We took a very leisurely ride into Market Bosworth following National Cycle Route 52 through Shenton and Far Coton. We stopped at the Red Lion for a well earned pint or two before cycling back. There was much debate on which route to use back, but the concensus was "no up hills please", so we ruled out the gated road and came the direct way through Shenton & Dadlington. We were all set to go home when we learned that Steve was in the newly reopened Dog and Hedgehog so we stopped of there for another drink.By the time we left it was well and truly dark and we all realised that our lights were not as good as we thought, but we old made it home in one piece and vowed we would be there again next week.


PS. Heres the route we took http://ridewithgps.com/routes/465983 - an easy 11 miles

Route 6 / 52 Familiarisation Ride - 11th June

Bike ride Saturday 11th June – Route 6 and 52
Castle Donington/ Wilson/Worthington/ Coalville/Worthington/Derby/Long Eaton/Castle Donington

Riders :- Alan, Ben, Keith

This ride was organised to bring-about a better understanding of each other’s routes.

We set off from Castle Donington on a beautiful sunny day, through groups of young ‘ Download Fans ’ attending the rock concert at the Donington Park Circuit. We were quickly onto Route 6 at Wilson along Forty Foot Lane and enjoying steady progress towards Worthington. Over the A42 near Breedon on the Hill, then on to Worthington looking at the Worthington Lane entry to the car-park noting its missing sign. Back to continue on Route 6, a quick look at the Cloud Hill (very deep) Quarry and on to Top Brand. Here the Cloud Trail becomes The Garendon Trail and we continued on to Osgathorpe, through to where Route 6 meets Route 52. A right turn and down to the A512 facing the Grace Dieu Priory, crossing to start the Grace Dieu Trail alongside the wood (not forgetting the Iron Maddona). On leaving the trail straight-on through Thringstone/Whitwick following Route 52 signs through the splendid Hermitage Country Park to the A511 island. Straight-on up Whitwick Road to the Council Offices at Coalville, across to the temporarily signed Route 52 through the town and stopping for a well earned cup of tea at Snibston Discovery Park.
We continued along Ashby Road to the next island to turn right down the hill to Swannington and Peggs Green. Straight across the A512 island to Griffydam and along Top Brand to turn left down Bull Hill into Worthington. A quick look at the lock-up and this time returning to Route 6 via Manor Drive. The wind was with us and we made very rapid progress to Derby by-passing Melbourne/Kings Newton then along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Swarkstone Lock. Turning here through Chellaston alongside the River Derwent to Derby where we had to pick our way through a very fancy wedding going on at the register office.
A quick look round the square and back on to Route 6 towards Borrowash (Route 6 splits in Alvaston Park). We take a right turn off Route 6 to visit Elvaston Castle, then on through Borrowash and Draycott to return to the route through Breaston and on to Long Eaton. Through West Park over the Erewash Canal, pointing out Route 67 to Shipley Country Park and the continuance of Route 6 to Nottingham and beyond. We turn right along Tamworth Road and get onto the path along the Erewash Canal to Trentlock. Starting here by the Cranfleet Canal is the Trent Valley Way alongside the mighty River Trent to Attenborough/Beeston/ Nottingham and the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont.
We turn right going the opposite way alongside and over the Trent to Sawley Cut/Sawley Marina, where we get on a path by the B6540 to Castle Donington. A glass of beer at the Crown Pub to celebrate a good ride/a good day out and then down Back Lane to Castle Donington and the cars for home. - 51 miles


Sunday, 3 April 2011

Bicycle Thieves

Today, I came face-to-face with the cyclist's worst enemy, the bicycle thief. On locking my supermarket-bike up with my Abus chain lock (65 Euros of German steel) and a cheap wire lock for the front wheel, I remarked that the Bianchi men's mountain bike and a good woman's mountain bike next to my bike were secured by a relatively thin cable lock. When Kimberley and I came back to my bike, we saw two Italian men, one pretending to be on the phone, the other chopping through the wire with the pliers. A busy piazza, loads of people around, nobody cared. By the time we had ran over to the lazy police at the other end of the piazza, they had just gone, and the police didn't even bother radioing anyone. I am sure that this sort of crime will be on the increase in the UK, so I would just like to remind you all to be careful where and how you lock your bike up, don't leave it for too long and to invest in the best locks money can buy.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Useful Information?

I have accumulated a range of information links relating to cycling in Leicestershire and beyond. I decided it might be useful to share what I have got with the wider world. I have created a "Useful Information" page on the blog, you will see a tab to click under the banner picture. I am sure you folks out there have a lot more you can contribute, so suggestions please.
I thought maybe we could tie this in with Free Your Bike cards that we collect at events so that we can email on. Its not much use on paper without the links.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Deepest Leicestershire

I took a trip out along route 50 in Leicestershire the other day. Never heard of it? neither had I. Well in actual fact until last summer it was reginal route 77 which has now been resigned as National Route 50 by John Woodward a volunteer ranger in the neighbouring Leicester group. Apparently some 233 signs were involved - you can read more about it "The Movement" newsletter from Sustrans. From the little bit I cycled John has done an excellent job.

The Route starts at Willoughby Waterleys (love that name) south of Leicester at its junction with Route 6. From here the routes heads south through some lovely country lanes and one day will deliver you to Maidenhead!
The reason for the outing was to meet up with a prospective volunteer who lives in Stoney Stanton. Rory James from Leicester was also there as Route 50 (or rather part of it) is a logical extension to his patch.

We only had time to cycle a few miles down as far Walcote as darkness was setting in. A quick temporary repair of a sign at Walcot and then we were on our way back. Another time I want to try and get out a bit further (towards Rugby) and explore. Patrick Davis (Sustrans Area Manager) has asked if I will check out a couple of bits of the proposed Route 53. All a little bit out of our patch, but its nice to get out and see a new area.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Liaison Ranger Conference - Bristol March 2011

I attended the Bristol Liaison Ranger Conference at Bristol last weekend. The format of the weekend was an afternoon ride on the Friday followed by presentations and workshops the following day. There was a total of about 70 Liaison Rangers there (another 70 were at the Liverpool conference the previous week). Overall an enjoyable and useful weekend and despite funding issues (see below) the weekend was very upbeat.

I can give some more detail when we meet, but here are a few snippets for now:

Sustrans and volunteering in numbers ...
There was lots of recognition and thanks for the huge contribution made by an army of volunteers. In numbers ...
2704 Rangers, (3239 total volunteers) across 210 Groups
25% female; 11% age 26-40; 32% 41-55; 33% 42-64 and 23% active
average volunteer gives 4-5 hours / month
13000+ miles of NCN, 57% of population within a mile of the network

Volunteer Roles
Work has been done to more formally define roles other than the traditional "Ranger" role. The Liaison Ranger is now called a Group Coordinator and roles have been defined for signing champions; publicity; media; workday organiser; ride and walk leader; fundraising. Along with this the recruitment and induction process has been overhauled.
We should think which of these roles we might want to establish more formally in our group.

Sustrans Funding
Sustrans continues to get central funding from Scotland and Wales, but the central funding from England which came through (the now defunct) Cycling England has ceased. The government has given some interim funding for 2011, but going forward Sustrans will need to negotiate with (120!) local authorities.

Other Groups
There was a slot where other groups gave a 60 second update on their successes in 2010. What was apparent was the diversity of what groups focus on and get involved in e.g: Dr Bike; public bike rides; local campaigning; route maintenance (some quite heavy work); route development; ecology. This was borne out by chats with other people - the groups reflect the local issues and the interests of people in them.

Other Snippets
- Sustrans now has some limited capacity to do ride leader training
- they seem keen for groups to get involved in local planning issues that impact local cycle facilities (I went to a workshop on this)

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Hooray - Leicester Cycle Maps are on their way

Hi everybody

Had a email today from Josh Wilce at LCC to say that the NW Leicestershire Cycle Map (now called Coalville area) is at the printers is should be available by the end of March. You may remember that Keith and I were involved in the development of this map. The map is one of a range of 6 maps which also includes reissued Hinckley and Bosworth and Loughborough maps. There are also new maps covering Market Harborough and Melton Mowbray. And, wait for it ... a Leicester Map (shock horror).

I have seen a PDF of the Coalville Map, but I have not seen any of the others - I am also not sure on the availability of the others, but I believe they were all to be issued at the same time as part of their "Choose How You Move" campaign. I have asked Josh for a stock of the Coalville Maps and a handful of each of the others. If we are going to do a Skyride stall again then we can stock up for that nearer the time.

I am guessing that I won't have these in time for our meeting on 3rd April, but hopefully they will be available soon afterwards. I will keep you posted.


Thursday, 3 March 2011

Would you be Bonkers for Conkers?

A new event for East Midlands Rangers and their families is planned for September 2011 at the Conkers site.
Les Sims,Liason Ranger for Derby with Alan,Ben and myself along with other enthusiatic Rangers from the Derby and Erewash Ranger groups are organizing a Ranger Event (In fact a camp) at Conkers during September 2011. The event is now firmly in our diaries and will take place from Thursday 7th September to Tuesday 13th September. Camping is available at the site mentioned in the proposal but Rangers (and families) are welcome to join us for odd days or rides. This will primarily be a social get together for Midland Rangers to discuss matters Sustrans, cycling and anything else that comes to mind.

I have cut and pasted a copy of the proposed programme of events FYI:

Thursday 8th Free rides using leaflets. Evening ride led by Burton/Swadlincote Rangers to a local hostelry, preferably off-road for the return journey.

Friday 9th: More arrivals (weekenders).More free rides.Evening - Social gathering in private room at the Navigation Inn. It is "Steak Night" (£3.99) with entertainment!

Saturday 10th: Short ride to Hicks Lodge Cycle Centre for mountain biking.Two longer guided rides. One to Bosworth Battle Field and the Battlefield Heritage Railway at Shackerstone. Led by West Leicestershire Rangers .One to Melbourne/Calke Abbey/Staunton Harold, led by Derby Rangers.
Evening - Pop Concert at The Pokey Hole which is, I understand the Conkers Amphitheatre. The performers are T-Rex supported by The Small Fakers, and tickets are £20. Advisable to book in advance via Conkers (Tel: 01283 760265).

Sunday 11th: Short ride to Hicks Lodge Cycle Centre for mountain biking.Guided ride to National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas and Fradley Junction (Canal).Guided ride to Melbourne for Arts Festival.Weekenders leave for home.

Monday 12th: Guided ride to Abbots Bromley for Ancient Horn Dance.Further guided evening ride finishing at the Navigation Inn for another meal and a pint.

Tuesday 13th: Those still standing leave for home.

One of the main objectives of the camp is to test and refine route maps, planned and designed by Rangers, to pass on a legacy to the Conkers site/National Forest Cycling centre . These will be turned into leaflets and maps for the public to use. The Nation Forest company is interested in covering the cost of designing and printing these. You have perhaps noted that West Leics Rangers are to lead a ride so I hope you will be to support us in doing this.

If you are interested in camping then please contact the Campsite at Conkers yourself to book how ever many nights you wish to stay. Please mention the fact you are a Sustrans Ranger as if we have enough campers they will try to put us all together in one part of the site.

Please put the dates in your diary for now. ask Alan, Ben or myself for more details when you next see us or of course via this blog,telephone or email.
Thanks for reading this far!

Going Bonkers at Conkers September 2011

Thursday, 10 February 2011

2010 Annual Review


We are now well into the new year and developing our plans for 2011 (more of this in a future blog). However before 2010 is finished I thought it was worth a few words to reflect on what we achieved in 2010.

At the beginning of 2010 we met as a group and thought about what we wanted to achieve during the year. Given that the routes in our area are relatively low maintenance we decided that the focus for the year should be on getting more people cycling by promoting local cycling opportunities and organising led rides. Basically we wanted more people to be aware of the local cycling opportunities and we wanted people to have the knowledge and confidence to get out on bikes.

We did promotional events at Bosworth Farmers Markets and also Skyride – the latter was particularly successful and we got to speak to literally hundreds of interested people. However it proved hard work to attract people onto the (Fresh Air Miles) led rides. We had scheduled some shorter “back to cycling” rides but only got 1 taker. However our 15 mile NCN anniversary rides was more popular and despite a few last minute “no shows” we had a very successful and enjoyable ride through the lanes around Market Bosworth.

We should remember that the West Leicestershire ranger group was only formed late in 2009 and that most of the volunteers are new to Sustrans. A year on we now have a really good group of enthusiastic and willing volunteers. As a group we learnt a lot during 2010 particularly in relation to promotion and leading rides and we are now in a much stronger position as we look forward to 2011.

My thanks to all the volunteers for both their time and enthusiasm.
Alan White – West Leicestershire Liaison Ranger