Some photos from last Sundays ride can be found on the Lichfield Jolly page above. Some people asked why we were doing it. The answer is because we can, because it’s fun, because it’s free and easy to organise and because it puts a smile on peoples faces. See you again next year.
I left Cologne on the Rhine Radweg and made good progress as far as the huge Ford factory on the outskirts, so large that it has 3 stations on the S Bahn. Here I became hopelessly lost and added several kilometres to the trip! Suffice to say there are huge new industrial estates, blocked roads, new motorways etc etc etc, none of which of course are shown on my old map. Anyway I made it through and after a night in Düsseldorf made it to the charming hostel at Kevelaer from where I spent a day visiting Xanten. The Roman Archaeological Park has fascinating reconstructions of parts of the site plus an indoor museum with the excavated baths in a climate controlled environment under a fabulous roof mirroring the baths’ original footprint.
From Kevelaer the road led me back towards the Netherlands at Venlo but not before I spent a night as the only individual guest along with 130 children at the wonderful Hinsbeck Nettetal Jugendherberge. High on a hill, it is a special Circus Hostel! Inside the public areas are decorated with mobiles of clowns, cyclists, trapeze artists etc and all the bed linen is circus themed. The children were there learning circus skills, including riding unicycles and on the Saturday would be putting on a circus show for their families in the real red and white striped big top behind the hostel. Wonderful fun for all. Also on the door were the C*M*B* marks of the 3 Kings from Epiphany. Next week another group of children arrive.
I quickly made it back into the Netherlands at Veno but only really realised because I could no longer understand what people were saying or read the notices but more importantly because the signing on the cycle routes suddenly showed a massive improvement and the Knoopunte system started again. Usefully they are now putting small signs about 100m from each Knoopunt informing you that you are nearing it. This helps to avoid the annoying business of riding past a point and missing the way. However, it’s not foolproof and a spot of day-dreaming can lead to many unwanted Kilometres.
On the way through this rather hilly, wooded area of the Netherlands with which I was not familiar I stayed at the recently sold hostel at Valkenswaard with its cell like bedrooms and antiquated plumbing. Nevertheless it was friendly and clean. On to Tilburg, once known as a pioneering cycling city but because it did not seem very different to any other Netherlands town I had a look and according to this article from 2014 that is no longer the case; apparently things can go backwards as well as forwards, even in cycling mad Netherlands.
At Bergen op Zoom I met a german lady of about my age who was also on a long summer tour on an interesting Velotraum bicycle. Last year she had spent 6 months cycling alone and enjoyed it, despite being warned by her friends and family that she would come to a bad end at the hands of ‘nasty people’. We understood each other! She was heading out to Middelburg at the very western edge of the Netherlands where a whole series of islands have been linked by bridges all with cycle paths.
From there I’ve zig-zagged my way up the Netherlands staying in various hostels and B&Bs until yesterday I reached 1475Km and Texel in the Frisian Islands. It’s long been a dream to spend the longest days of summer here so you can imagine my disappointment when I woke on June 21st to pouring rain. Even the dutch were sheltering. However by 10.30 it cleared and I had a great day cycling the dykes to the northern tip of the island. It’s a beautiful place and also home to the magnificent Texel sheep.
Highlights of the trip so far have been:
Staying in the Rotterdam cube houses, which now house the youth hostel.
Crossing again the northern polders, a quiet land of huge skies, to Den Helder and the ferry to Texel. In the Shropshire lad, Houseman wrote: Clunton and Clunbury, Clungunford and Clun, are the quietest places under the sun. Noord Holland and Friesland could challenge for the title any day.
And finally on a very hot day there is sometimes the delicious smell of water falling on hot tarmac and you know you could be in for the treat of a free shower from a whirling sprinkler irrigating the fields!
We look forward to publishing the final instalment with some photos and a round up of Marion’s thoughts.
The volunteers of Lichfield Re:Cycle have been working hard matching the fantastic donations to the growing list of people who have approached or been referred to us for assistance. Rest assured we will get round to you eventually but the demand is high at the moment. Here is one story from this week from volunteer Adam:
“I found a home for another bicycle yesterday, for Naheed who was riding a really tatty mountain bike, the brakes were non existent, cables rusted, calipers seized and out of 21 gears she had about three. The tyres were down to the canvas, with a big split in the sidewall and the front wheel was wobbling and had a spoke missing, not the best thing to transport your kid safely to nursery in a rear child carrier with!
She was using this as her get around town everyday transport, and was a very good case for Lichfield Re:Cycle to step in and help out. Naheed is now the proud owner of a bright blue Claud Butler that was donated to us for as long as she needs it. A nice strong bike with a very comfortable upright riding position, ideal for getting around town and doing the school run. We found a sidestand that fitted nicely, and one of our trustees gave her a very big chrome ‘Ding Dong’ bell to scare pedestrians with. She can now carry on riding with her boys to school. In the attached photo she was about to set off to collect her youngest from nursery with her older son on his bike. Naheed also donated to the project which was gratefully received.”
Families cycling together is one of the areas we want to be able to offer support and advice. We are working on another bike that will have one of the child seats we have been donated lately. During the holiday time we will be experimenting with the Bike Train, where some of our volunteers will cycle to pick up families and take them on a ride around the streets and area they live, giving them confidence to cycle together on the road and plan the best routes for them.
We will also be holding regular skill sharing demonstration sessions all over the district where the volunteers will turn up and be available for advice, small repairs and adjustments and to be able to show people how to maintain their own bikes. There is a page on the Lichfield Re:Cycle website with dates and locations that will be updated and added to regularly and more details will also be posted on our Facebook page.
Just today we have given this bike to Manon from France who has just started a month long internship with Faurecia at Fradley, walking there each day from Lichfield. She was happy to receive the bike and a lock for the duration of her stay here. Hopefully she will be able to explore the area a little better on two wheels.
If you managed the Cycle Rides For All earlier in the day, keep on pedalling and join us for the 2nd Lichfield Jolly for a bit of fun and a wind down. We are meeting in the Market Square from 4:30pm this Sunday for free cake, rickshaw rides (for the kids or very small adults!), music and more. There is the Lichfield-Roubaix challenge to have a go at too.
From 5:30pm we will ride a slow 4 miles or so together, finishing up at the beer garden of the George & Dragon off Beacon Street. A different route to last year and totally family friendly. All welcome. Feel free to dress up and bring your dingyest bells and whistles.
The latest monthly Cycle Rides For All takes place this Sunday. A new route added last year inspired by my good friend Johns favourite ride. A great 16 or so miles with a bit of terrain and the reward of one of the areas best cafes en route. Meet at Freedom Cycles at 10am for this free ride. More details about the rides can be found here.
We had spotted this a little too late to attend last year, but seeing the reviews ensured we got tickets for this year. A celebration of all things cycling, well as long as it pre 1990! The Festival looked to good to miss. We didn’t go for one of the rides, you can choose from 30, 50 or 100 miles options, but your bike and you must follow the 10 commandments – The 10 Commandments.
- Heroic bikes will only be permitted Road racing bikes built before 1987 both with gears and without gears.
- Heroic reproduction bikes will only be permitted – “Steel frame new construction with vintage look and characteristics may be used if they are assembled using vintage components or replicated parts similar to the original. No mountain bikes or modern racing bikes.”
- Gear shifters must be on the downtube.
- Pedals with toe clips and straps. Quick release are NOT allowed apart from Cinelli M71
- Brake cables must pass outside the handlebars but other cables can pass inside the frame
- Wheels and tyres. Wheels must have at least 32 spokes laced to a low profile rim. 20 mm depth or less, except for the wood rims. Tyres. Both tubular and clinchers with inner tubes are allowed
- Participants with disabilities with specific bikes will be OK to take part as long as they make a specific request to the organisation at the time of registration.
- Specific authentic bikes such as Pashley Guvnors, Speed 5s, Moulton and Bromptons can enter the 30 mile and 50 mile routes. These bikes are not encouraged for the 100 mile route. Other bikes such as military, postman and delivery bikes are allowed for the 30 and 50 mile routes.
- Participants must be dressed in vintage or era specific clothing
- Helmets are not compulsory
These ‘rules’, which are self policing, meant that there are some wonderful bikes and riders on show, with many spending the whole weekend in vintage wear. There are stalls a plenty selling anything you could wish for, and a whole lot more you didn’t realise you did need! A cycle jumble like I have never seen, bands, films, talks, plus loads for the kids. Saturday afternoon was reserved for best in show, Best Dressed Family, Master Miss, Rider… and even Dog, some great efforts made (and some ideas for next year!) If you don’t do one of the rides, the cost is not much more than some campsites would charge, with clean toilets, free showers and Bakewell a couple of minutes walk, it was easy to see why so many attend. The food outlets on site were varied, but some a little expensive. The bar, Thornbridge, was busy but offered lots. We did sign up for the family ride, which was on the Saturday afternoon, this was a short cycle, 5 miles, along the flat Monsal trail, with the turn around point at a café. This was a self guided ride and you could set off when you wanted, but you received a number and a rosette upon finishing which the kids seemed to like. Music and bars finished early, around 10.30, which on Friday meant we were one of the many “parties” back by your tents, but Saturday was much quieter with many people wanting to make early starts on the Sunday rides. This was a most enjoyable weekend, we found little to be critical of, and found ourselves referring to what we would be doing for “next year”, so see you there?
Received the following by email from a local campaigner on cycling issues:
“This is a completely new development/estate, which includes a site for a school. My own feeling is there is no excuse for not integrating cycling provision from the outset but this is most unlikely to happen unless representation to that effect is made to the developers and probably also the council.
…if you feel able, email Taylor Wimpey re the proposed development at Deanslade Farm to encourage them to include cycleways or shared cycle/pedestrian paths throughout the development and links to the nearby existing cycleways.”
This slide from their recent consultation event seems to indicate shared paths within and around the development, although elsewhere pedestrian access is referred to and not cycling specifically. It might be interesting to compare when the full application is submitted. I have touched on the cycle infrastructure in Lichfield before, you can read about that here.
Copied into this email below:
“I was out of the country when the consultation evening was held for the proposed Deanslade development so could not attend. However, I have a query, which is relevant to all new residential developments. We already have the example of Darwin Park, where the cycle route encircles the development but there is not a single dedicated path within it.
I see on the Deanslade proposals there is a cycle route crossing through the development in two directions, linking up with a route around the outside.
Why can all paths in completely new developments, where there is no precedent and no existing foot, cycle or motor traffic to be surveyed for current traffic volumes not be dual use cycle and pedestrian? There might not be a sudden surge of cyclists,; it would take time.
Surely we want to apply planning measures, which encourage people out of their cars and onto their feet and bicycles with the beneficial side effects of reduced demand on the NHS and an improved quality of life.
It is often said there is no demand for cycle ways but we have no evidence to suggest that if they were provided they would not be used. We only need to look at the example of continental Europe, and not just the Netherlands, where day after day cycle ways are packed with all ages going about their everyday business to work, school, the shops and riding as a leisure activity. In my village I see people driving to Weight Watchers; what sense does that make?
Many people do not cycle because they do not feel safe.
Why can it not be tried?”