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

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 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. and here is our 150km route