Join us this Tuesday (29th July) for an absolutely free Lichfield Myths & Legends cycle tour. Kate from Lichfield Lore has provided us with a dozen sites in the city and we will get to a few of them on the ride. Kate has sent some details of what we might be talking about that can be found on this seperate page above.
For those who can’t make the tour but might like to visit some of the places under their own steam, we have produced a free short guide and map. If you can make it we are meeting at the Captain Smith statue by the fountain at the Bird Street end of Beacon Park at 7PM. All being well we should be sat outside the Hedgehog Pub on Stafford Road by about 8:30PM.
I got up early this morning to slog up Pipehill to await the arrival of the Boldmere Bullets phenomenon on the latest leg of Le Tour de Boldmere. They were on stage 7 round Cannock Chase and I could see from their route on Strava they would be swinging by the roundabout on Pipehill some time after 7:30. As I approached the roundabout I just missed the first group as they whizzed through but five minutes later the next group arrived.
I first came across the Boldmere Bullets in an article a couple of weeks ago. I’m not a roadie, though I do ride a road bike. In Lichfield there are loads who go out socially and competitively with Lichfield City Cycle Club or from the Freedom Cycles and Run & Ride shops. You can’t have failed to see the Zipvit kits around the lanes north of the city or the groups of mainly young men pushing each other on. I’ve heard stories from those who go on the rides about how they try to drop each other and about the hierarchies within some of the groups. I enjoy riding with others but in a way that supports the whole group. Dick swinging antics just don’t appeal at all to me.
So hearing about the Bullets and their description of themselves as a collective intrigued me. One of their stated aims is that they don’t drop riders on a ride, encouraging new riders to join and not feel they are letting people down. Instead they have designated riders who will ‘taxi’ any riders home who can’t meet the pace of the different bunches. With confidence and a few rides newbies would soon improve their pace and find their place in one of the groups. In a less supportive environment they may not return after one bad experience. They describe themselves as a totally free, resource based collective. Not sure what that means but it seems they are able to build relationships with local companies and sponsors to bring benefits to cyclists in the collective. Their aim to build a stronger cycling culture is one I share and it looks like they may be able to be outward looking and inclusive in the sometimes narrow world of fast road riding.
They claim to be the Midlands biggest Strava group. I don’t use Strava, I have a thick phone not a smart phone, but as well as Le Tour and an impressive collective amount of miles rode each month, they are having fun with the format too. I’ve been thinking about some fun short rides for Strava round Lichfield including one on the cobbles round the Market Square and down Bird Street. Maybe it would work if I stuck a tablet in a bag over my shoulder. The volunteers in the collective seem to be paying close attention to nurturing a wider cycling community with women only rides and ones for families planned. They’ve got themselves some natty looking kit and even their own beer to buy at one of their regular social do’s. I’ve been invited over to meet them and hope to get down to Boldmere sometime in the next few weeks to talk to some of them in person and report back on what they are like. So much to ask them about, i’m really looking forward to being able to do it.
Lichfield Dérive tonight and I missed it, was stuck in a field putting up tents. The last Friday of the month Critical Mass style ride meets at Speakers Corner at 6:30PM for a bit of fun. Got home to find these words, photos and a video from someone who was on it.
“Going past the skate park and all of a sudden there was 15 or so lads on bikes who joined us, being playful and helped us to stop a bit of traffic around town. Then on Christchurch Lane they got the chance to show off a bit. (VIDEO HERE)
Then after they said ta-ra and made their way back to the park we rode round for a bit before thirst and hunger took over. It was fun, wish the BMXers had stuck around a bit longer. Maybe next time.”
It’s been two years since the Cycle Rides For All volunteers did the taster ride from Beacon Park. That day there were over 70 people taking part in this free, family friendly short ride of just 3.5 miles. Trained volunteer marshalls ride with the group at the front, rear, alongside and also ahead to give the group a smooth run on the roads and cycle paths of Lichfield. With all the hype surrounding the tour and the Commonwealth Games at the moment and the recent good weather as many people as possible are encouraged to come along with their bikes and join in. Meet at The Swinfen Broun Pavilion in Beacon Park (on the other side of the lake to the playground) at 11AM, not the usual 10AM start.
Another day another pre-ride, this one for Cycle Rides For All on Sunday. It was a night of long shadows so I took the camera and set out early.
I’m not a bike nerd nor claim to be an expert but this was just the nicest thing i’ve seen around town for ages.
It feels like the height of summer, a perfect evening for a cold drink and a chat.
Preparation ride out tonight for next weeks Myths & Legends cycle tour in the company of co-collaborator Kate from Lichfield Lore. Several months ago while whittering away on twitter a discussion about superstition melded with the realisation that the 29th of July 2014 would mark the centenary of the installation of the Captain Smith statue in Beacon Park. Hastily a ride was called and here we are a few days away from the date. I don’t know if there will be a civic ceremony to mark this, to be honest if there was I wouldn’t be that interested.
What excites me are the people and projects who do stuff because, just because. No explanation or permission needed, just a spirit of inquisitiveness and fun. That’s what I get from reading the Lichfield Lore blog so it has been great to fuse that enthusiasm for the stories surrounding our local buildings, sites and history with the power of the bicycle and the capacity to visit several in short succession. And then ride to the pub afterwards.
Kate has chosen places where over the years stories have been told and legends have been formed and we sometimes don’t know what the real truth is any more. Is this a cannon ball hole on St Chads church? Apparently here has been much debate about the reason the Captain Smith statue ended up in Beacon Park when Stoke on Trent was his home town. Hopefully we can explore at least a couple of these stories on the tour with chance to discuss further at the pub stop planned at the end.
On the way home we spotted this group loitering on Dam Street by Speakers Corner, standing in a circle each looking at their smart phones. Reluctant to spill the beans they eventually confided they were the green team playing a game called Ingress. If they hadn’t told us who knows what stories we might have imagined to explain the strange sight. Then they were gone, off towards another portal by the cathedral. Join us next Tuesday at 7pm by Captain Smiths statue in Beacon Park for a fun free ride around town. Who knows we might learn something. We might even find a portal.