Two wheeled weekend by Simon

So, the last weekend in September was looking good as far as two wheeled adventures went, the Lichfield Derive on Friday night, The Cycle Show at the NEC on Saturday, the “alternative” to the Sky ride in Birmingham on Sunday and topped off on Monday with the Mass Cycle around the Conservative Party Conference. Things didn’t get away to a good start, late away from work saw me fail (again) to get to the Derive, but an early start on Saturday saw me up bright and early and soon amid the shiny bikes at the NEC. I entered the show at the children’s / electric bike end, which had tucked away some nice examples of “Hand” built frames, it seemed a strange place to put them?

There was lots to see, particularly busy were a company selling “high end” second hand bikes, but from a personal point of view, the Handmade Bike Show, back in Bristol for 2015, was a better event….. and better value for money if you had to pay the show price and then the car park fee.

So, on to Sunday and the Birmingham Bicycle Mass Ride, this was set up as the Sky ride in Birmingham was cancelled this year. Rolling down to Millennium Point a few minutes before the 2.00pm start time, I had expected to see a big group of bikes and riders ready to go….. not just the other six riders that arrived before me! We duly set off a “mass” group of seven, zig-zagging the cycle lanes in the City Centre and then taking a route to Edgbaston. It was in fairness a good route and I did feel for the organiser. So with just seven of us… you would not imagine too much could go wrong?, within the first mile we had a well and truly jammed chain, my Cycle jumble “bargain” Brooks saddle fell apart half way round and towards the end of the ride a bike had BOTH brake cables snap!!

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Monday and the “mass cycle”. I didn’t know what to expect from Sundays ride in Birmingham, Push Bikes in Birmingham had been pushing the event well, but following yesterdays turn out I wondered how many would be there. In the end the turn out of, I am guessing 200+, was as good as could be expected. There was a good mix of age, gender and bike types –  trikes, recumbents, dogs in trailers, I was extra happy to see TWO Mercians! The ride its self was quite short and we spent more time “waiting” (sometimes hard to see why!) than riding, but there was lots of banter and chat and all seemed to be enjoying it.

The Police “looked after” us stopping traffic and keeping us moving. The event was to highlight the CTC campaign Space for Cycling and there were several MP’s in attendance, both Transport Minister Robert Goodwill MP and Shadow Transport Minister Richard Burden MP, plus several councillors – Goodwill stated, “We spend our time trying to find things that we disagree about – and although there are a number of those, cycling isn’t one of them. We need to get the Cycle Revolution that the Prime Minister talked about last year really on the road.”

The aim of the CTC lead campaign is to increase government spending to £10.00 per head, (per annum) raising to £20.00, to bring us in line with other European Countries and the Transport Minister was keen to advise us there is an announcement due in the next few weeks that “we” would all be pleased with……. We will see!

Still spinning by Alan

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Well, back from Ireland and I needed to get myself in a frame of mind to brave the local byways and the city.
Had a starting spin on Wednesday and another on Sunday which didn’t go quite to plan. Just short ones. I had fun tagging onto the back of a threesome road team of a dad and two daughters for a while just to see if I could manage the 20+mph they were generating. I let go close to Fradley and suffered an impact puncture after hitting a stone in a rough section of road and had to stop for repair.  Thanks to all the guys and a young motorist who stopped to offer help. It was much appreciated. Tyre changed using new multitool kit and wheel re-attached but the A Brake refit defeated me as the new multitool lacked the right sized allen key until Ron from Aldridge stopped and had one to fit for a 30 second cable release,refit and adjustment. Thanks Ron.
As I arrived at Fradley Junction the threesome road team was just leaving but a bit of banter in passing raised a laugh and even after finding the train included an 11 year old lass, the prospect of a pot of tea and a cake was still good.
The last leg up N54 was uneventful but for passing a nice old guy I guess in his 80’s out for a spin and watching an aggressive driver nearly coming to grief on the Canal bridge believing that after he had screamed past me he had the right of way, failed to slow for the crest and found another car already there. It was close! The language was foul and unnecessary and spoiled a pleasant afternoon.

Trillions of bikes

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Went to the Cycle Show at the NEC today, not really my thing but glad I can say i’ve been at least once. There were, as you would expect, hundreds if not thousands of bikes to see but if you are going over the next few days I won’t post any spoiler photos, instead just look at one bike maker among many.

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As I mentioned the other day i’ve come across many people who are trying to bring something that they think is different to the cycle market. I spoke briefly to Lawrence, owner of Trillion Cycles, based in Solihull. The build quality of his frames were excellent and they finish the bikes with decent components or just sell the frames if you want, that come with a limited lifetime guarantee. There was one to try on the test track and though too small for me was well balanced and the bike looks great for the price.

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Elsewhere the absolute highlight of the show was something that took me by surprise. I’ve been helping a friend who is looking to get a recumbent trike but has a problem with a faulty tendon meaning he struggles to push on one foot. For a while we have been looking at a variety of possible solutions. We saw these pedals on another trike and asked the person on the stand where they were from. Oh those, he replied, they are weighted, self righting pedals from an exercise bike. They may be the solution he has been looking for.

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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

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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.