Major Nichols Centenary by Alan

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Anthony Taylor, winner of the 1969 All-Rounders  Championship has reminded Major Nichols owners like me that Tuesday 16th September would have been Major Nichols 100th birthday.  He was born in the shop at 5 Reform Street, West Bromwich and remained there until 1970 before being forced to move to 46 Durban Road, Smethwick where he continued making frames of great quality until the Milliennium. He died in 2005. So raise a glass and toast a talented master craftsman and engineer who added greatly to our midland racing scene.

Wall wasn’t built in a day


I learned something new today – the Roman word for shopping (* answer below) on the excellent Lichfield Discovered event at Letocetum. With a daughter obsessed with archaeology we went along to learn from the knowledgeable volunteers who spend much time looking after and continuing research on the site.

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We’ve been a couple of times before but the genial explanations helped make more sense than just having a guide book. We toured the village looking at how much of what remained of the bath houses and mansios has been reused in various buildings near and far.

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Fascinating snippets of information including the marks of tile makers found here and at other sites elsewhere in the country. While walking along the edge of a field on the public footpath my daughter did an impromptu spot of field walking and turned up a fragment of tile. Back at home while scrubbing it there was talk of a test pit in our garden. Wouldn’t it be great to have a community dig somewhere in Lichfield? I’m sure that could be another great free event to participate in, just like this Lichfield Discovered one. Thanks to all those people who give their time to put such events on.

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* Answer – Tesco.

Hanging with The Hooky

Doing this blog and using social media you come across all sorts of things and people you wouldn’t normally bump into on your regular rounds. The quick and instant nature of messaging and sharing online allows you to make contacts and network, in some cases it can help you to promote your blog or product to lots more people.

Someone I follow on Twitter retweeted a bit about a Staffordshire man called Harry and his bike stand thehooky. Over the months i’ve exchanged the odd message with Harry, retweeted some of his stuff too. That’s how this social media lark works best I reckon, outside of old conventions connections can be made quickly and information shared. I messaged Harry to say I was going to be at the Cycle Show at the NEC next week and was hoping to bump into him and say hello. I’m going with a friend to look some more at recumbent trikes for him but unfortunately Harry will only be there on the trade and press day launching thehooky, so we won’t get chance to meet.

This week Harry very generously offered me five free tickets for the show at the NEC to give away to readers of this blog and in return I thought it would be good to tell a few more people about the product he created.

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In return for giving away the tickets I thought it would be good to try and garner some feedback on his invention. I’ve met a few people in the Midlands who have tried to bring something new to the cycle market and have seen how despite many months of hard work promoting their ideas, networking and trying to find people to purchase them, sometimes it doesn’t work out. Harry is already working on version two of thehooky and if I can’t rustle up any sales some constructive feedback might be just as useful. So, I shall introduce you to thehooky below and priority for the free tickets will go to those who can email or post their thoughts on the product that I will pass on to Harry. There is an email address on the contact page of this blog or you can get in touch with Lichwheeld via Facebook and Twitter. All the best Harry.

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“As a Cyclist who likes to clean and maintain his bike I was frustrated that to do the job properly meant buying an expensive workstand that needed to be put together each time and couldn’t just be left lying about in the shed ready for use.

Leaning my pride and joy up against a wall or plastic garden chair just didn’t do it either, I wanted some way of raising the bike up off the ground so that the wheels and drive chain could be rotated.

So,we have thehooky. Designed and manufactured in the UK, thehooky is made from exterior quality Birch faced plywood from sustainable sources and is easily and quickly self assembled.

It is designed to fit on a standard wheelie bin and can be used with an empty bin for light bikes, although for heavier bikes it is preferable to have some weight in the bin”

You can purchase thehooky from Harry via ebay here. If you would like to get in touch with him directly on Twitter you can find him here.

St Giles Hospice Fundraising rides

Some photos from the beginning of yesterdays short ride for St Giles. There was a 60 mile, 25 mile and 13 mile ride all finishing about the same time back at the hospice where participants were rewarded with a barbeque. Some 300 riders took part raising over £20,000 for the local hospice to help them carry out their work free of charge for those who use their services. Well done to all who took part. These were the first ever organised bike rides from the hospice and hopefully it will become a fixture on the calendar.

Lots of great photos from the longer rides on the St Giles Hospice Facebook page here.






Abnalls again – A Bromford Deal

Managed to scoot up Abnalls Lane late on this afternoon to the top of the lane to get a view from that end. As you can see from the photos it is quite clear – not one but three signs warning motorists that the lane is for access only.

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Following my post earlier in the week I received a couple of responses from someone at Bromford Housing Association after I mentioned one of the vans I had observed using the lane was driven by an employee. Comments made on that post suggest that all Bromford employees will be made aware of the traffic restrictions and shouldn’t be using the road as a cut through in the future.

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We stopped and had a look at the gate at the top end. The latch holding it in place was still intact and we wondered about how it might be better secured in the future. Apparently it used to be locked with chain and padlock with cyclists able to go past the gate on the verge. It would be good to see the routes to the side of the gates re-established and a more robust mortice style lock used perhaps. Just as we were speculating a car flew round the corner from St Matthews Road. It would have struggled to stop if the gate was closed. A locked gate would be good but education of road users will be needed also.

UPDATED 12/9/14 Received an email from the person who requested enforcement from the police:

“… although I have been cycling the route for 20 years I can’t remember a time when the gates were locked.  I feel that would be an extreme measure particularly as it is a public road.  It would also be difficult to identify all those who make legitimate use of the lane and there could well be an issue for emergency and agricultural vehicles for which it can be the most sensible route. (I am not a health and safety extremist!).  There was a police crack down, which was effective for a time, some years ago, but that was before the large estate at the former St. Matthews Hospital was built.  This has considerably increased the traffic volume.
Education is the real answer and, probably more effective, would be increased use of the lane by walkers and cyclists as they feel safer.  If it were safe, it could be full of children travelling to school and other adults to work.  The route does seem to be much quieter over the past week and there has been reduced ‘back-chat’ from drivers if they arrive when the gate is being or is closed.  Sadly, those who open the gate and drive through rarely stop again to close it.  Hopefully if the police continue their enforcement programme throughout September there will be a lasting effect.”

Sidetracked ~ Another Away Day by Fionntra

My favourite ride is about 18 miles round the end of the Dingle Peninsula in the West of Ireland. The fabulous countryside is a working one and shows its scars and history and shares them with you if you stop and look. That lesson applies back in Lichfield too. Then there are the side roads and tracks.


Yesterday was a beautiful late summer’s day. So I rode off with the intention of detours and to take some snaps. I stopped up the hill to show off the beautiful little mountain Marthin, (pronounced Marhun) and the splendour of the Brandon massif, Irelands second highest Mountain.



Next stop was Padi O’Sea’s to take a snap for a friend to see the changes from his cycle tour in the 80’s. I dived down to Fionntra Strand over Naked Man Bridge and on to the beach filled with Legends from the deep past about a mighty battle.



Next up the hill and round the coast road to stop at Fan (fahan) ford and It’s unusual wall to let a coach pass me.



Then to my halfway stop to admire the view of the Blasket Islands at Slea Head and shrine. Just a few yards later the whole of Dunmore Head and tiny Coomenole Strand of David Lean’s Ryan’s Daughter fame appear.



Then a stop to photo the unique Kerry Blue Stripe sheep!



And a nice tea stop opportunity.



Up and over the next hill and down to my next diversion to Dunquin’s tiny harbour which was and still performs as the gateway to the Blaskets.



The Spanish Armada Memorial was fine.



I tried a new route and this took me across to the Blasket Centre, a fine and much underused facility and quite a blot on the landscape really. The route is not for road bikes unless you walk but the Giant on slicks managed grass path, stony paths and track well enough.



There was a view to the house the Cranberries built sold to Dublin Bankers. Say no more!



A fair old climb then to the top and and cruise up to Clogher Head and more fabulous views including this one where you can just see the Ryan’s Daughter School house. Freewheel and stop to view Clogher Strand and Sybil Head but time was pressing so a fast ride to Ballyferriter, almost all downhill and a last climb up back home.