Tag Archives: cycling

Some towns are friendlier than others

As a commuter I spend a lot of time in traffic, correction a lot of time sitting in traffic watching the road around me. Since venturing back on the bike I’ve found that I notice cyclist more in that I don’t just register that there is a bike and I need to take care but I notice what sort of bike it is, male or female rider, helmet or not and what sort of accessories are on the bike as well as make model and colour if I’m close enough.

Today I went to Reading and noticed lots of cyclists. Is  Reading  a very bike friendly town ?There are cyclists everywhere, people commuting with children and dogs on the backs, people with laptops and briefcases sticking out of baskets, some in work clothes some in Lycra…lots of them.. whereas on my current commute to Solihull I hardly see any.

I know there are cyclists in Solihull, we have bike racks at work so someone is obviously cycling. I also know there are cyclepaths in Solihull as the Council tell me there are and provides a nice big friendly booklet about them… but I can’t find any of them…no cyclepaths and only 1 cyclist spotted just as I got to the office and our organisation encourages people to get on their bikes…

In Reading the cyclepaths and cycle routes are very obvious and well signposted and there are lots of them…some of them even tell you how long by bike it will take you to get from where you are to somewhere else.

Loads of cyclepaths seems to = loads of cyclists

On the journey back through Henley, less than 10 miles down the road I only see 2 cyclists in Henley, as I cut through the town centre from one side to the other, plus two stationery bicycles. There are no obvious cycle routes in the town centre, I spot a couple but they are on the outskirts and peter out as you approach the town centre…

Do more cycle routes mean more cyclists ?  Or is it unfair to compare Henley to Reading since it is much much smaller…

However cycling to the Reading office has never been an option since its about 70 miles from home… and by the time I got to work it would be time to come home. Solihull is a possibility though as even unfit Slug that I am I could feasibly manage 25 miles and with a bit of practice possible do it within 2 hours…

Why  I don’t cycle on Wednesdays

For some reason cycling clubs seem to like the roads round our village and usually on a Wednesday the roads are peppered with people in lycra until after about 9pm.

When I puff by in my t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms I can feel the disapproval coming after me in waves… how dare I be sharing the roads with these serious cyclists… don’t I realise what the need to get round me will do to their times !!! How dare I be seen on a bike without a ludicrous amount of lycra…

I had naively assumed that cycling was a broad church that welcomed all comers and we were all equal in the eyes of other cyclists…oh how wrong can a slug be…

I haven’t tried cycling off road yet so I don’t know if I will be welcomed by MTBers but the road lot really don’t like seeing a slug on a hybrid pedalling along as fast as she can go. As for the more specialised bike shops and how the staff react when you get a middle age couple nosing around… well (and I don’t just mean the Daventry one I mentioned some time ago)!

OK I know not all cyclists are quite so snobbish. I am fortunate to work for an organisation that promotes cycling as a form of low carbon transport. We also have quite a few rock climbing acquaintances who are keen cyclists and will happily share their knowledge about different models/brands/equipment… even though they are usually at different ends of the price bracket to us.

Generally I find that if you talk to someone who cycles on a one to one basis they are fine but if you come across a group of cyclists forget it… they are just not very welcoming. Is this a new thing or has it always been there ? Having had very little to do with bikes or cyclist since the age of 18 I have no way of telling

That aside, if I have to cycle on a Wednesday then I avoid the routes I know will be infested… it’s taken me a lot of personal courage to get this far and I can do without grumpy men in tights thinking they own the roads…

 SCHOOL’S OUT.FOR. SUMMER

Tuesday is my day. My day for bike riding. On Tuesdays the Boy has karate after school,  but school is out for summer and so is karate. The Boy wanted to go with me but I turned him down. He’s only been cycling for a year and is not very fast. Worse though is that he has the road awareness of a house brick… but thinks he knows it all because he’s been on the Bikeability course.

Cycling is not new. I have been trying to be more active for some time now since Christmas but the cycling has only been going for about 1.5 months

The first time I went out I took my first ever selfie as I wanted to see how bad I looked. I managed to do what we call “the circuit” which is about 4.5 miles in 30 minutes. A couple of days later I had it down to 25 minutes but it’s been slow progress since then.

PHOTO

Every time it stops hurting I nudge it up a bit so I am now up to 7 miles… but pretty much every road out of the village involves a hill so I’m not too disappointed with progress… and I can now do most of the hills in 3rd.

But with karate over until September I am going to have to find something for the Boy to do as he needs to be active and kids these days don’t have the same opportunity for being naturally active… I know that it cannot be cycling because cycling together will just frustrate the both of us… and as for swimming… well I’ll leave that for another day…