Thursday, 28 June 2012

Trafford, Twitter and the Transpennine Trail

Sunday saw the return of the Seamons CC Family Bike Ride.

Most of the club has been on the usual Sunday morning jaunt and were now out as a group enjoying their favourite pastime with their nearest and dearest.  Wives, husbands, children and Grandchildren met in Dunham Massey to get muddy along the Transpennine Trail and then off to the Rope and Anchor for a drink while the kids played.

I love the TPT.  I use it often to commute up to work and we are very lucky to have such a long well maintained traffic free track to use in our area.

However, it doesn't come without its drawbacks and these were very much highlighted on our Family Bike ride with my club.

I will show you what I mean

My first section is very overgrown with nettles.  If I take H down here either in his pushchair or the bike trailer, his face gets stung.

This is my first obstacle.  A kissing gate onto the new estate.  It had been broken and someone had taped it shut to prevent it banging.  This prevented the RADAR lock being undone to allow the gate part to swing completely open.  Thankfull after a few emails badgering Trafford MBC they have fixed it.  Bingo, we can pass though here complete with trailer.

So on I go.  About a mile along I actually get to the Transpennine Trail in Altrincham.  Here is where my problems start.  And this is the part of the Trail that Trafford are responsible for.
Personally, I dont think there is any excuse for having such a gate that blocks access for so many.  The trail is many many miles long and throughout the stretch I ride within the control of Warrington Council, I have no such problem

So once I have negotiated this.  I ride for about a mile and a half and I reach the car park where our family ride started.

This has a tiny gate through onto the trail.  You can just about fit a person through it.  Sadly my picture doesn't show the scale, but needless to say, you couldn't get a wheelchair through and you certainly cant get a trailer through.

This shows that although you can lift your bike over the horse styles, they are actually quite high in places.  I struggle with my own bike.  After having back surgery I need to be careful.  Picking a bike plus a trailer plus a toddler up over this is impossible,

The lock could so easily be changed to a RADAR key!

A short distance along after the car park, we get to the Rope and Anchor.  A lovely pub, but be warned, you may need to sell a kidney to eat there.

This is my most considerable foe.  A double set of gates.

Once past these, I am freeeeee!!!!!! Miles and miles and miles of trail with only the odd A-Frame through Warrington to slow me down.  But I can get through these.  They are wide enough at the bottom to allow you to negotiate them with a single trailer.  They also are fine if you are on a tandem or with a tagalong.

So why oh why cant Trafford use these??????

If you are a wheelchair user, would you let me know if you are able to get through these sorts of barriers?

I have complained via twitter to Trafford who say they're looking into it, although I have heard nothing since. I also have a couple of councillors and Slater Heelis Solicitors in Sale have kindly offered to look into the legalities of the Trafford barriers.

We await the outcome.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Getting Moving: Greater Manchester Cycling ManifestoManchester Friends of the Earth | Manchester Friends of the Earth

Getting Moving: Greater Manchester Cycling ManifestoManchester Friends of the Earth | Manchester Friends of the Earth

I just wanted to post a link to the Manifesto that Friends of the Earth have drawn up to get Manchester Moving.

It sounds great!

Breeze Champions

I am now a Breeze Ride Leader!  Woo hoo!

So what on earth is one of those?....(the imaginary reader in my head asks)


"The Breeze network  is British Cycling’s new national network of bike rides for 
women. Supported by Sport England lottery funding, Breeze will deliver tens of 
thousands of cycling opportunities for women across England. 
These fun, recreational group bike rides will be led by women for women.  The 
Breeze network empowers women to change the face of cycling for good and leave 
a lasting legacy. Over the next three years British Cycling will train over 1,000 
women to become local Breeze champions with a Ride Leader qualification. This will 
result in over 80,000 women cycling."

It forms part of the Closing the Gap campaign.

At present three times more men cycle than women.  In fact the numbers of women riding their bikes is actually in decline.  Getting more women on bikes means:

  • they are more likely to get their children on bikes who may well be the next cycling gold medal winner or Tour winner.
  • It is great for the economy. More cyclists overall boosts sales at our local bike shops. It also empowers women within the job market.  Having a bike enables you to apply for jobs you may not have thought possible due to costs of commuting.
  • Its great for reducing bum size and a bike ride normally includes a cake stop.
  • you are making where you live a nicer place to be.  Once less car as the saying goes.  But its true.  In fact places where people cycle tend to go hand in hand with higher property prices. (although its a bit chicken and egg that one)
  • It is a good stress buster

I really could go on.....
here are some good reasons if you still need some

The course was a full day at the beautiful Velodrome in Manchester.  I am very fond of the velodrome or National Cycle Centre as it is now known.  I worked opposite while it was being built and saw the grand opening.  I have also been lucky enough to cycle there, which has to be said, is one of the most fun things you can do on a bike!

When I say full day.  It was a really full day.  Me and another 14 hardy females rocked up to our classroom at 8.30 ready for Breezing.  The first thing that struck me was how professional it all was.  I am also a UK Athletics Coach, but their courses had nothing on this.  We were all given black British Cycling drawstring bags full of glossy full colour course material and handbooks.  Very swish indeed.  There has obviously been alot of investment gone into the whole of British Cycling, but not nearly as much as other sports.  They use their money wisely and run it very much like a business.

Although we sat in a classroom and most of the course was delivered by PowerPoint, never once did it feel like school.  It was kept quite informal and there was tea, coffee and biscuits on hand at all times.

After some discussions about our roles as Breeze Leaders, being the professional face of British Cycling, verbal and nonverbal communication, good practise and techniques we took to the road.

Being in Manchester, the weather was against us, as we huddled together in the bike stand to talk about helmets and bike checks.  Who knew that bike helmets went out of date?????? Not me.  And now my husband thinks its all a clever ploy to buy more kit.

The practical sessions started slowly with a warm up.  By this time the rain was lashing in sideways (even though it was June, what is going on with our weather?) No amount of cycling about was going to get any of us warm, but it transpired it was all a ruse to see if we could actually all ride a bike.

Off to the open road we cycled as a group, taking it in turns to lead the group through the traffic and safely transport us a one mega-cycle-lorry (it was an effective analogy that kept creeping into the day)

A spot of lunch meant I could catch up with a twitter friend from Sustrans @chapeaubike and then it was back to the open roads of Clayton.

The roads had started to heat up now as Coldplay were playing at the Etihad which is almost next door.  Thankfully as we were still very cold and wet from the morning session, this was a little faster paced.  I took the opportunity to take the group around a busy roundabout.  I love using assertive riding to make the road my own around junctions like this.  Then back to the classroom for some sobering reminders on child protection and what to do if you are on a ride in the middle of the Saddleworth moors with no phone signal and a broken bike and a crying child and a storm approaching and zombie invasion etc etc etc......

At the end of the day we exchanged emails and I am sure I have made a few life long friends.  I really hope we all catch up soon on a ride.

Once my paperwork is sorted, I will be organising some Breeze rides in South Manchester.  I genuinely cant wait.  Especially with the summer holidays only 6 weeks away.  It will be great fun!

Friday, 8 June 2012

A Bit About Me

I am a *cough* mid 30's mum of two fab boys.  Well I would say they are fab wouldn't I? Who doesn't think their kids are great?

I am not the worlds best cyclist by a whole long shot.  I sort of got hooked by not being a very good runner.  I let myself be talked into a triathlon and ended up loving the bike 'bit'.

I live, as the name suggests in Manchester.  In Trafford, south on the city centre.  I would love to say I am one of those yummy mummy types in Hale or Bowdon, but I won't start telling fibs in what is only my second post.

My bikes (so far) consist of a beautiful Specialized Ruby Elite and a Specialized Vita which serves as my main workhorse and commuter bike.  The Ruby is kept purely for a) looking at and going ooooh and b) riding a bit faster than I would on the Vita.

I am a member of Altrincham Seamons Cycling club.

They are a lovely bunch.  A couple of years ago, they started social rides for those of us who dont want to tear around Cheshire at 25mph and offer a more sedate pace, but still a good 30-50 mile ride.  Sadly a few months ago I had a discectomy on my back and I haven't been out with them half as much as I would have liked.  But I am getting fitter all the time.  So it wont be long........

An Opening Shot

All I seem to do at the moment is talk bikes. This is my attempt to rationalise it into one space and hopefully pass on any juicy bits of info I come across.