All together now

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Fun ride out on the Lichfield Dérive tonight, better than the soaking we got last month. I saw today that Birmingham has embarrassingly had to cancel its Skyride planned for later in the year. A shame that an opportunity for cyclists to ride on a car free route has been lost. Events like the The Big Vintage Ride and the Lichfield Jolly may not need road closures but are still fun and free events for people who enjoy cycling together in a big group.

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We ended up at Martin Heath Hall at the invitation of Lichfield Juggling Club where some of us got the chance to have a go and learn some new skills. It ended up a surprisingly mild evening too.

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Lichfield Dérive meets Lichfield Juggling Club

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This Friday the latest Lichfield Dérive takes place, a city centre cycle ride that meets at Speakers Corner at 6:30pm on the last Friday of every month. We ride together for an hour or so to the accompaniment of a bike mounted mobile sound system in a fun and free event open to all cyclists.

The ride will end with a meet up at Lichfield Juggling Club, held every two weeks in the back room of Martin Heath Hall off Christchurch Lane between 7:30 and 9:00pm. The juggling club is always open for new members and this Friday they are holding a free open session for people to come and try out plate spinning, diabolo, poi, juggling and devil sticks. Advanced skills include stilt walking, slack lining and fire breathing. But not on bikes.

More information on the Lichfield Dérive can be found on their Facebook page

Cycle Rides For All – this Sunday from Lichfield to Packington Moor and back

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This months Cycle Rides For All is a new ride out to Packington Moor Farm cafe, a great little nosh stop. Graded a 4 (on a scale of 1 to 4), this is the most demanding ride of the year due to some good hills, but all are welcome to this free event accompanied by trained volunteer marshalls at a family friendly pace. Meet at Freedom Cycles in the bus station at 10am for a 10.30 start.

BAF Cycle Tour

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Back home after a long and wet day. I was asked to help organise a cycle tour of Eastside in Birmingham by a friend as part of the Birmingham Architecture Festival. The theme of the ride was art and regeneration, looking at how the artistic community has colonised the vacant spaces and how their presence has helped to make the area more attractive and ultimately expensive to be in, sometimes forcing the creatives to move on to other locations.

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Despite the horrendous weather we had a bunch of keen cyclists happy to venture out in the tea time traffic to visit some points of interest in the Digbeth area including the viaduct that goes nowhere that became Birminghams high rise cattle pen and these days unreachable urban green space.

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We started from the Eastside gallery and heard Gavin Wade tell of his vision to turn the viaduct into a new public space, driven by and inhabited by the creative industries in the area.

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Next stop was a tour of Grand Union gallery and studios where we heard how they had taken an unlettable, burnt out warehouse and within it created warm, light customisable studio spaces for a collective group of artists at an affordable rent.

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By the time we emerged the rain had relented letting us finish our journey through the Curzon Street tunnel to finish for refreshments at The Woodman, right next to the proposed terminal for the end of the Birmingham bit of HS2. Another imminent surge of investment and change for an area that has seen much over the last few hundred years, or as Gavin put it, another layer. A really fascinating and worthwhile trip and proof that a cycling tour is a great way to get around and see things. perhaps we might do something similiar in Lichfield some time?

Burton Cycling

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A friend pointed me towards a new local social media cycling site just up the road in Burton. Simon decided to set up the Burton Cycling facebook page to try and encourage people to meet up regularly and go cycling together. He started the page at the end of April and has already done a ride with friends up to Derby, but then…

Just as I started following the page Simon fractured his toe and on doctors orders is off his bike until it has fully recovered. Gutted would be an understatement. I messaged Simon about his site and tried to encourage him to keep going while he recovers, the summer is a long way from being finished yet. He told me how he has been into cycling since being little, moving through BMX’s, learning to customise and respray them before getting his first mountain bike and gradually building up the distances covered until now he has his sights set on exploring the area around where he lives with rides planned to Tamworth, the National Memorial Arboretum and Lichfield.

Simon rides for fun and fitness, he was down for the charity ride in Coopers Square on 7th June for a 30 minute slot towards the 110 mile target, but that was before crocking his toe. When he gets going again he tells me to expect to see him down this way sometime. If you live in the Burton area don’t forget to check the Burton Cycling page out.


Re:Cycle on tour

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Thanks to Alan, John and Simon Stilts who cycled over yesterday to bring Re:Cycle to the good people of Whittington.

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Trailer packed with kit we took the up and down lane to take up an invitation to attend the monthly local food and craft fair. Thanks also to the folks who came along with their cycling questions and offered us more donations.

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Apologies to those parents who were told that their kids needed a bigger bike. We gave demonstrations on how to look after and repair your bike, gave plenty of advice and got to pump up the smallest tyre i’ve ever seen (36 PSI by the way).

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If you’re doing a church fete, fayre or another gathering this summer and think this sort of thing might be useful, drop us a line. Will fix bikes for tea and cakes.

Roman Originals

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Letocetum is another one of those local places that i’ve never been too but have rode past many times. With a daughter obsessed with archaeology it seemed the perfect time to drag the family up Claypit Lane (good practice for next weeks Cycle Rides For all to Packington) and to freewheel down into Wall. Picnic on the foundations of the old mansion and bath house with the local moggy for company.

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A grand ride out spoiled only by an aggressive ‘professional driver’ back in town on the way home, who insisted on trying to overtake a family group on a blind bend and objected to seeing a cyclist ‘in the middle of the road’. Can’t have read the post from the other day, or read this excellent piece on why we choose to do it. Never mind, I wonder if chariot riders were just as impatient down the old Watling Street?

Lichfield Re:Cycle to Whittington

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It’s been a busy week for the Re:Cycle project. Here are a couple of the donations received recently for the rogues gallery of unloved bikes needing a new home. We are operating like an agency matching these rides to potential new owners who are looking for one. A pair of 20 inch wheel bikes suitable for 5 to 7 year olds probably. Please get in touch if you think you could take them on a free long term loan. Hopefully we will be giving away three mountain bikes by the end of the weekend, two donations and one picked up on Weston Road before the scrappy got to it. One is for a lady who wants to ride to work at Fradley, two others for teenage boys who have outgrown their old bikes. They need to go this weekend to make room for two or three pledged bikes coming in.

The project is ticking over nicely. Alongside the donated bikes we have been asked to work with local PCSOs at a bike safety event in July in Lichfield and hope to contribute to some events being held for the users of the skate park in Beacon Park. Someone got in touch this week asking if it would be possible to show them how to change their gear cables and set up their gears. On Saturday we will be cycling over to the Whittington Local Food and Craft Market as we have been invited to offer our services. Expect free minor bike repairs, skill sharing demonstrations and advice. Bring your bike along or just come for a chat. It all happens in the car park of the Bell from 9:30 until 1.

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The Lichfield Jolly

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Advance notice of a little event next month, imagined just for the fun of it. To celebrate our local cycling culture there is going to be a fun ride called The Lichfield Jolly on Sunday 15th June. The name was suggested by Ian Covey, owner of the Vickers Bicycle Company, based here in Lichfield. Ian has promised to come along on one of his stylish Roadsters. There will be a vintage theme for the ride, but all are welcome – young or old, modern or vintage – we just wanted to do something that will put a smile on a few faces.

If you have an old wreck or a prized specimen in the shed then this is the chance to show it off. Perhaps you enjoy a touch of tweed or like to wax the old tache. Maybe lacing up a corset or riding in a dress is more for you. Old bikes, new bikes, dressed up or not. All are most welcome, families too.

An hour or so of gentle riding together around the city centre streets taking in some of the classic Lichfield sights, the Cathedral, St Chads, and Beacon Park to name but three. Finishing up somewhere for well earned refreshments. We hope to have the Lichfield Dérive bicycle sound system along, with perhaps a classical music and chap hop soundtrack.

Since I started doing this blog just over a year ago I’ve connected with several people via social media, Ian included.  The aim is to end the gentle ride in a beer garden, maybe at the George & Dragon on Beacon Street.

Come one and all, excuses will not be tolerated. Lets celebrate something and nothing with a grin, a spin and a little chin chin.

There is a Facebook page for the ride here.