Locked On

Following on from the story the other day about a bike theft at Lichfield City train station, a quick thought about bike locks

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I’ve spotted this Charge Mixer locked up around town recently and noted how the owner locks not only the frame but the wheels as well. Our bikes might not be worth a huge amount but it’s not fun or cheap to replace a wheel and hugely inconvenient. In the big cities you often see the saddle removed for the day though i’ve never seen that in Lichfield.

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My everyday lock for around town cost less than a fiver and has a flexible cord, great for locking two or three bikes together to a stand or railing for a while. Most cheap locks are easily breakable to a determined thief, often it is enough to just push the bike firmly and the pressure causes the lock to pop. I have another more expensive D lock with a steel cord for other days though it is a lot heavier and bulky to carry. Whatever you use make sure you lock it to something suitable, unlike this photo I took last year where the bike could be lifted and just carried away.

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Re:Cycle – Half term but still learning

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It’s been a busy half term week and it’s been good to see so many people out on their bikes enjoying the good weather that has appeared every now and again. We gave our first bike to a local family, a six speed 20 inch wheel mountain bike style upgrade for the daughter as she had outgrown her old single speed bike. Mom and Dad both cycle and they get around together really well as a little team using the road. I had advised them to try and get a decent pump to make sure their tire pressures were correct, helping to prevent punctures.

With the savings they made by not having to buy a new bike they got themselves a track pump with a pressure gauge. They rang me up asking if we could show them how best to use it as they had only had a hand pump previously. Moms bike has the high pressure Presta valves so we did a demonstration before she had a go herself. The other bikes were Schraeder valves, a bit more straight forward and Dad had a go at them, finding out the correct tire press from the markings on the tire wall. The pump has a movable red arrow to make it easier to see from a distance so you know when to stop. Five minutes later we were done, skills were shared and practice is all that’s now required.

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Vickers Bicycle Lounge

From the little city to the big city last night in the company of Ian Covey from the Vickers Bicycle Company to the Bike Lounge at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath.

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Envisioned in Lichfield and made in Great Britain the Vickers Roadster was on show for touch and feel following an introduction from Ian and a number of tough questions from the audience.

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Bike Lounge is a monthly event going for just over a year now, bringing together people with an interest in cycle culture with a range of speakers and events. There was some chat on twitter a while ago about doing a similiar social event in Lichfield and a sympathetic landlord was identified. Last night there was a chance to hear updates on a variety of local campaigns, music and chat. Maybe not every month but it might work as an occasional evening in the little city too.

Winter sun

First good day in ages and I was up bright and early to meet some of the other volunteers from the Cycle Rides For All. Couldn’t resist a spin up the empty precinct just before 8am.

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It looks like the programme is going ahead full steam, more details to come soon on this years rides. We’ve added a couple of new routes and did the short one to the cafe at Fisherwick Lakes via Huddlesford. If you ride with your kids it’s the perfect introduction to riding together on the road in a group. If you are just getting going and fancy a little trip further afield it could be just the thing for you. More volunteers are welcome, indeed with a 100% increase in numbers last year to an average of 40 per ride we are in danger of becoming victims of our own success.

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Later on back home I took one of the girls down the cycle path to the park while her sisters went to the pictures. Loads of people out and about, plenty of kids on bikes too. I noticed the new petanque/boules court i’d not seen before by the cafe.

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It’s with a little trepidation you open an email entitled ‘Man Down’. But I clicked it and it was indeed bad news. One of my colleagues who I had gone out with first thing was knocked off his bike shortly after we had parted in Lichfield. He got the full spinal board treatment on the way to Good Hope in the ambulance though thankfully it looks like nothing worse than a twisted knee. Details are sketchy but apparently the driver ‘didn’t see him’ due to the sun. Get well soon Marc.

Fionntra’s Rough Guide

Contributor to this blog Fionntra has sent in an excellent guide to starting (or restarting) cycling. He’s working on a more detailed version we hope to be able to print off and give to the people who make use of the Re:Cycle project if required.

It’s one thing to get hold of a bike, another to get hold of the right bike for you, and more importantly again to be able to get into cycling in a way that suits you and your body. Fionntra talks about how he returned to the saddle after decades away and how he built his fitness back up to where he is now, not the cyclist of his youth, but enjoying riding as much as ever.

I’ll leave his introduction on a separate page above.

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Stowe Pool – who pulled the plug out?

Passing Stowe Pool today I noticed the dramatic drop in water level. I am sure it was full when I passed on Wednesday. A quick google search tells me that the water from it flows north via Curborough to the River Trent. I rode past the Trent last Sunday and it was swollen then, surely it doesn’t want any more now. There must be a good reason why the water level has dropped so much? And here’s the answer i’ve just found courtesy of the Mercury.

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I’m in the middle of writing a blog post about the old cycle track in Beacon Park. How about Stowe Pool as a new one with its banked curves?

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Spot the bike fork in the shallows.

Re:Cycling in action

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I’ve had several offers of bikes in the last few weeks, the latest from a Twitter follower who very kindly dropped off this 24″ wheel Raleigh MTB. Bike maintenance isn’t my strong point but what I wanted to achieve with this project was to bring together many volunteers with different skills, so I immediately took it to my number one grease monkey for a look over. I went to check on it yesterday and thought I would share with you what he has done. He has trued both the wheels, adjusted the brakes and lubed the cables. Adjusted the rear derailleur, fixed the handlebars, tightened the bottom bracket. The front changer needs adjusting slightly and the rear tube needs to be deflated and the tyre re-centred, to straighten the valve. The tyres themselves have a limited life due to slight perishing but otherwise it is nearly ready to go. This hasn’t cost anything more than goodwill and time.

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Most of the bikes we have received have required a little more doing to them, mostly new cables and the odd part. The average cost has been around £8 a bike. I would also like to make sure that every bike we give out has a front and rear light and a puncture repair kit if needed. I’ve been thinking about best how to go about getting the correct bike to the right person. As well as doing street corner repair sessions I have been speaking to prominent members of the community about the scheme in the hope that they might refer people who would use it. I have spoken to our local PCSO who was happy for us to link up at one of their events. All of the bikes will be available for a free, no deposit required, long term loan. If people would rather make the bike their own we would happily accept a donation and the revenue from this would fund repairs on the free bikes.

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Meanwhile a very clever friend has made some of these for us. The project is developing and our plans may well change. I wanted to get something off the ground that didn’t require premises, committees and constitutions. We’ve got around half a dozen bikes almost ready to go but we are running out of places to store them now. If anybody has space to take a couple of completed projects for the time being somewhere in Lichfield that would be helpful. This would free us up to accept more donations. If you know any groups or individuals who you think might be interested in giving cycling a go get in touch. We have volunteers who would be happy to do some basic cycle training and confidence building. If there are any adults out there who would like to learn how to ride we can make an adult friendly balance bike to learn on. It needn’t cost more than time and the will to do it.

Let them eat cake

Was such a good day yesterday it would have been a shame not to mark it with a decent ride out. A friend of mine wanted to look at a proposed route for a St Giles charity ride later in the year so we trundled over to Whittington to do the near 25 mile loop. Our first sight of the Tame showed how much water is travelling down it at the moment, these swans are in the middle of a field a couple of hundred metres from the river.

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We did one of the classic local rides: Whitington, Harlaston, Clifton Campville, Lullington, Coton In The Elms, Rosliston, Walton On Trent, Catton, Sittles, Huddlesford back to Whittington. Paused to take a photo of the church at Clifton Campville.

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There are some very grand and impressive churches in this area for such relatively small hamlets. Also saw a notice for a Jumble Sale next Saturday, village hall at 2pm.

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We stopped at a bustling Honey Pot at Rosliston for a piece of cake and cuppa. Lots of cyclists out today making the most of the spring like conditions. The carrot cake was a bit disappointing, a touch wet and the frosting too sweet. Should have had a teacake.

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Spotted this abandoned BMX in a field on the way to Walton. A bit too far gone for Re:Cycle I think.

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After Walton we followed the swollen River Trent back towards the Sittles. At Catton i’m certain we saw a Peregrine Falcon sat in one of the flooded fields before it flew away from us. Back in time for a meeting of the Cycle Rides For All volunteers to plan possible rides for 2014. More meetings, to be held in the next couple of weeks, will decide if and when they take place. And more cake – a fruity, dry farmhouse with a sugar crust and a moist lemon drizzle sponge. Would’ve been rude not to.

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