IT BE THE SHIPWRIGHTS WAY CYCLING WORLD MAGAZINE • JULY 2013
HARK TO BOUNTY
A YHA OBSESSION
YORKSHIRE AND GLASGOW TRY SICILLY, MALTA AND GOZO • HEBRIDEAN HOPSCOTCH • MORE TANDEM TIME • CORNWALL • A FINE BORDEAUX AND MORE ... CW_JULY_2013_Cover_FINAL.indd 6
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Editor’s Letter Views from the Editor
12 Café Society in the Dales - Part Two Ellie leads on 16 Informalistas More to cycle racing than riding a bike 20 Sicilly, Malta and Gozo Islands in the Sun 24 Long Straight Road - Part Two Fish, rotten eggs and a leaky tent 28 MLJ More from the BCQ as Mark reaches the Shetlands 30 Nearly the Jurassic Coast … where cycling meets the sea
54 Avast There! The Shipwrights Way ...and much more Hampshire cycling 60 Cornish cycle tours In the footsteps of Lanyon Rowe 62 BHF L2B 64 Simon’s Law The Cycling Solicitor says... 66 Siempre! Glasgow’s cycling cafe 70 Tandem Time All Aboard! 76 Hark to Bounty! - Part One The attraction of a hidden village 80 Reviews
82 Hebridean Hopscotch From Castlebay to Stornoway
38 Going for Pembrokeshire A spring sportive
88 National Parks Week Top riding in our finest scenery
42 Products and Technical Tried and tested by Michael Stenning
92 Vintage Vacations A taste of the good old days
50 So, How do You start a cycletouring business in France? The wine helps …
94 Holiday Time Holidays in the Forest
52 Orbital Festival time at Goodwood
96 Cycling in the Blood? Veins
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AVAST HISTORIC DALES?THERE!IT'S TANDEM TIME
CYCLING WORLD MAGAZINE MAGAZINE••MAY JUNE2013 2013 CYCLING WORLD MAGAZINE • JULY 2013
IT BE DURHAM, THE OCCASIONS TRY TEESDALE SHIPWRIGHTS WAY AND WEARDALE WORLD CUP? CORONATION? CYCLING?
A NEW SERIES
EYE-OPENER HARK TO
A DAY WITHBOUNTY JD TANDEMS A YHA OBSESSION
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Welcome Welcome to CW for July 2013
PAN AND PALES REMINDERS OF AND ECHO CAFES
A FAVOURITE RIDE MIDWINTER YORKSHIRE IN ENGLAND YORKSHIRE GLASGOW ICELAND AND
WHY NOT TRY;OF THE SUFFOLK, THE DICKENS ANCORREZE, AFTERNOON OUT •SLOVENIA, DALES BY MALLORCA • HAMPSHIRE’S • ALONG LOST TRY SICILLY, MALTA AND GOZO • HEBRIDEAN CAFÉ • RALEIGH REUNION • COAST TRY LINCOLNSHIRE, LANES ROUGH STUFF IN THETIME WEST MORE HOPSCOTCH • MORE TANDEM • AND CORNWALL FRENCH•PEDALS, ABERGAVENNY AND MORE ... ... • A FINE BORDEAUX AND MORE ...
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With some lovely sunny weather – at least where I have been – I couldn’t help wondering whether I had been out in the blaze too long when I read that Jeremy Clarkson has been encouraging people to take up cycling. Good news all round.
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I recently had a lengthy conversation with two cyclists who told me about the stretch of road we were sharing. I remarked on the wonderful views from the narrow strip of tarmac. “The route is a lot better than it used to be,” replied one temporary companion. The other added an explanation, “There used to be two packs of farm dogs that were a menace around here, but the only one left now is deaf and blind and doesn’t even notice us.” Smooth-black, recently repaired surfaces were interspersed amongst pot-holed and loose surfaces. “I wonder how awful those bits must have been to be selected for repair.” “The worst thing is heading down hills like the one coming up. Risk getting speed up with these craters around? Not me.” I followed the advice. The season is here when Church and Village Fetes and Festivals provide tea and cake at happy hour prices. Some of the finest cakes around are likely to be found at such events. Equally you might not get to sample the winner of the cake competition and have to settle for second third or even fiftieth place. Calling in, one sunny afternoon, at a fete in a tiny Norfolk village, we were greeted with such hospitality – probably because we were strangers – that we even got our tea for free. We spent a good deal of money on the tombola and went home with a flower vase that divided opinion in the household for several years. Such is cycling, though with Le Tour coming up it must be said that there is more to cycling than pedalling along country lanes and eating cake in village halls. The multi-stage races hold an unusual fascination even for those who have little interest in cycle racing per se. Even before Sir Bradley won the whole affair last year, the Tour de France was the one road race that had a chance of making the mainstream media. Now there is a riot of coverage in print and on-line. Cycling is trendy. The big question for the future is that can we make cycling a “style”? After all, “trends” go out of fashion, “style” never does. Many merry miles.
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Cycling World Magazine Limited Crown House, John Roberts Business Park, Pean Hill, Nr Whitstable, Kent CT5 3BJ Tel: 01227 378390 Fax: 01227 784079 All material contained within Cycling World Magazine is protected by copyright. No material may be reproduced or used in any way without prior written permission of the publisher. © Cycling World Magazine Limited 2012 ISSN: 0143-0238 Competitions: Rules of entRy These rules apply to all competitions in Cycling World Magazine. Only one entry per household. Employees of Cycling World Magazine Limited and the relatives, plus employees of companies involved in the magazine are not eligible to enter, entries that fail to comply with these instructions will be disqualified. No Cash alternatives can be offered in lieu of prizes. All entrants must be UK residents and aged 18 years or over. The prize will be the particular item specified in the competition details. Winners will be notified within 7 days of the draw date. The editor’s decision is final. All postCARds: Each competition entry requires an individual postcard of a regular size, oversized cards will not be accepted. Please supply name, address, telephone number and email address (where applicable). Indicate cycling preference. Competition entries should be sent to: Cycling World Magazine, Crown House, John Roberts Business Park, Pean Hill, Nr Whitstable, Kent CT5 3BJ. For a list of winners and previous competition answers, please send an SAE to the above address specifying the date of issue in which you are interested.
Registration has opened for The London to Canterbury Cycle. Cyclists can choose from a 65 or 80 mile cycle challenge, starting in London and following the picturesque Pilgrim’s Way route, through the Kent countryside and finishing in Canterbury. The annual ride is taking place on 15 September and entry is £35 per cyclist. Money raised will benefit The Children’s Trust, a national charity which provides care and therapy to disabled children and a rehabilitation service for children with an acquired brain injury. To register or to find out more visit www.thechildrenstrust.org.uk/LTC or call Lauren on 01737 364323
www.cyclingworldmag.com | Cycling World 7
over tHe top? Cyclists who fancy blazing a trail ahead of some of the world’s best riders can try out Honister Pass the day before their heroes. This year’s Jennings Rivers Ride, Sunday 15 September, will take on some of the same roads that the Tour of Britain will follow on Monday 16 September. People of all ages and abilities can choose between four different cycle challenges from a 10 mile treasure hunt for families, a 38 or 55 mile adventure or a massive 75 miles over three Lake District passes. Gavin McDonald, Director of Rather Be Cycling which organises all the cycling aspects of the Jennings Rivers Ride, said: “It’s fantastic to have an entire stage of this year’s Tour of Britain in Cumbria to look forward to and brilliant to see some echoes of the past as well - as the race has visited Keswick before.” Gavin has an encyclopaedic knowledge of cycling history, he continued: “The 1958 Tour of Britain, the race’s original name before it became The MIlk Race had a split stage centred on Keswick on its lap of Britain. Stage 5 of the ’58 race was a time trial from Carlisle to Keswick and Stage 6, the same afternoon, was a road stage. Departing from Keswick, the race took in the climbs of Newlands and Honister passes before it headed south to finish in Morecambe. By all accounts there were a few incidents on Honister - so let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself in that respect. The stage was won by the Belgian rider Norbert
Coreelman who finished alone and well ahead of the chasing peloton.” Entry is via the Cumbria Community Foundation website www.cumbriafoundation.org/riversride - choose between: The Jennings Rivers Ride is a series of four stunning cycle sportives with routes to suit all abilities. The rides start and finish in Keswick and reveal some of the UK’s finest scenery from the heart of the Lake District all the way out to the Irish Sea.
tHe oak aNd tHe asH England’s Ancient Trees under threat. This is the time of year to spot diseases such as ash dieback, but there are plenty of other threats to our ancient trees... The Woodland Trust is concerned that almost 84,000 ancient, veteran or notable trees are in danger from a multitude of pests and diseases. Amongst these are 7,000 treasured ash trees which could be at risk from ash dieback. More than 115,000 trees, some of which have survived for more than 1,000 years, are registered on the charity’s Ancient Tree Hunt website and the majority of these could face direct threats from pests and diseases. Ancient trees are the natural equivalent of listed buildings; they’ve stood for hundreds of years and witnessed historic events while watching silently in the background. Many, like the 11 metre girthed Big Belly Oak in
the Savernake Forest, have played a major role in our history and folklore, and can never be replaced through replanting. There are at least 15 known diseases and pests that pose an immediate threat. These include acute oak decline and the oak processionary moth, phytopthora kernoviae which affects oak and beech, and dothistroma needle blight which affects Scots pine. Austin Brady, head of conservation at the Woodland Trust, said: “Losing some trees to diseases and pests is all part of life and death in the forest, but to lose our precious ancient trees would be absolutely terrible. We need the public to help by getting into the great outdoors, looking at trees and checking them for signs of disease, so we have as accurate a picture of the situation as possible.”
With spring finally here, the next tree to come into leaf will be our iconic ash which is threatened by ash dieback or chalara fraxinea. At this time of year one of the easiest ways to see if a tree is suffering from ash dieback is to look at a young branch and scratch a little of the bark off, if it is green underneath the tree is healthy, if it is brown it is not. Watch out for wilting on the leaves, which may, during summer, become more blackened but still stay on the branch, diamond-shape lesions on the trunk or a balding crown. To find out more about spotting ash dieback and other tree diseases already present in the UK, or to record possible disease in an ancient tree near you download the Tree Alert app or visit www.forestry.gov.uk. To find out more and help save our trees, visit: www.treedisease.co.uk
8 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
aMr News Chris Dormady, a self-confessed cycling addict, is taking on not one, not two, but three 100 miler bike rides in 2013. Whilst clocking up these 300 miles he will be raising funds for children’s charity Action Medical Research. The first, the Suffolk Sunrise 100, has already been done, so he only has the RideLondon-Surrey 100 (4 August) and the Essex 100 (1 September) to come. In 2007 Chris’s first baby son Charley was born. Instead of ‘wetting the baby’s head’ and enjoying the early days of fatherhood with Charley, Chris was to go through the most diﬃcult period of his life. Charley was born with a very rare genetic condition, Trisomy 13 Mosaic (also known as Patau syndrome), which causes severe intellectual disability and physical abnormalities in many parts of the body.
After a rollercoaster of scans, tests and operations, Charley sadly died at just 16 weeks old as a result of complex heart problems. “Nothing can ever be as diﬃcult as that again,” says Chris. He started cycling after a knee operation in April 2008 to help his recuperation and to get fit again. Part of a group called The Punch Bunch, based in Essex, Chris cycles regularly and once a month goes away for a long ride or mountain biking. “Although I got into cycling to keep fit, I wanted to do something special in memory of my Charley. Action organises some great rides and I also get the chance to raise some money to help them fund research into rare diseases and other conditions that affect babies and children,” says Chris. www.action.org.uk
froM bats to bikes The first UltraBike was commissioned by the makers of the BBC’s Miracles of Science programme, fronted by Richard Hammond, in 2012. The programme showed how the abilities of bats to see in the dark have been copied to develop the UltraCane, an electronic cane for the blind and visually impaired which gives the user tactile feedback to avoid obstacles. The developers of the UltraCane showed how the technology could be extended to allow blind people to experience the freedom and fun of solo cycling in safety. Millions of viewers watched a gripping sequence as blind Bristol University student Dan Smith safely negotiated his way along a woodland cycle path on the first ever UltraBike, made especially for the programme. The UltraBikes are fitted with specially designed ultrasonic sensors which detect obstacles in the cyclist’s path. The rider receives constant directional feedback of obstacles through vibrating buttons on each side of the handlebars, to allow safe navigation around the cycle track.
Above: Blind cyclist Barrington Chambers with the UltraBike Right: Enjoying a new feeling of freedom
www.cyclingworldmag.com | Cycling World 9
rising early Fancy a sportive with a difference? The Early Riser Sportive, held in the New Forest National Park combines a festival weekend with a first-class sportive. As part of The Early Riser Festival of Cycling and Music, event organiser Cyclofanatic – the organisers behind the ever successful Meon Valley Riser and the New Forest Rattler – are hosting a sportive on Saturday 3rd August starting at 7.30am from the festival’s location of Avon Tyrrell in the New Forest National Park. The sportive will offers three distances of 48, 76 and 100 miles and entry is included in the price of the festival tickets. Revellers will have the chance to get some beautiful miles under their belts in the stunning location of the New Forest National Park and have a wide choice of festival entertainment, combining the great outdoors, cycling and music for an idyllic summer party weekend. There will be an array of other cycling events on both the Saturday and Sunday (with camping overnight), from mountain biking competitions, to Rollapaluza, to tandems and Bikeability for those looking to improve their skills and for the children at the festival. There’s even a pedal-powered disco and a range of acts across the main stages. The Early Riser Festival of Cycling and Music is held in the grounds of Avon Tyrrell Outdoor Activity Centre. To book your tickets, go to http://www. earlyriserfestival.co.uk
cHocks awaY, roGer The Air Ambulance Service is launching the latest in its line of successful recycling initiatives and this is one that all the community can get involved with. The Bike Place will revamp and recycle preloved bicycles, customizing them to suit the individual’s choice, creating one-off bespoke bikes and adapting machines for those with a special need. The scheme is being launched by Roger Lovell, formerly of Leicester based Cyclemagic, a not-for-profit organisation which ran a similar type of service for 13 years before closing in July 2012. Roger said: “I’m delighted to be working with The Air Ambulance Service to get this incredibly worthwhile scheme up and running. Not only will we be providing bespoke bicycles to people all over the country, we will also be raising money that
will help save lives. Sales from our specialist and adapted bikes will go directly to the Charity, which receives no Government or National Lottery funding, to help fund the three valuable services they run. We’ll also be promoting the benefits of cycling for people’s health, environment and welfare through events and community outreach programmes so we really will be helping a wide breadth of people across the country.” The Bike Place will be based at The Air Ambulance Service’s warehouse in Kegworth. Justin Thompson, Recycling Manager for The Air Ambulance Service, said: “We’re incredibly excited about the possibilities of this scheme and we’re thrilled to have Roger and his expertise on board to help make this a success. There are lots of different developments planned for The
Bike Place, so, if you have a passion for cycling or want to help a lifesaving Charity, keep a look out for ways you can get involved.” The Air Ambulance Service is the umbrella organisation for three services: Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance, Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance, and The Children’s Air Ambulance. The Children’s Air Ambulance is England’s first helicopter transfer service for critically ill children and babies and will vastly cut journey times, ensuring children get the treatment they urgently need as soon as possible when it launches soon. If you have a bike that you want to donate or if you’d like to find out more, please call 09454 130 999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
10 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
Following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal The Cycle Hub and Saddle Skedaddle requested that people to send in their now unwanted books, to produce an art installation for the Newcastle / Gateshead Late Shows – www.thelateshows.org.uk The pile of donations included a US Postal Service Bike and signed yellow jersey as worn by the disgraced star. The question remained… what exactly should be done with it all. This was it. Tear out the pages of the books and stick them to the floor of The Cycle Hub. People attending the Late Shows would then tear out extra pages, write their comments on them and then paste them to the floor. This Lance Armstrong ‘installation’ explores many themes: how could a man go from having the world at his feet to the feet of the world on top of him; even a sporting icon can end up on the floor – literally; what is truth; the subjectivity of our personal histories; the transient nature of fame. www.thecyclehub.org www.skedaddle.co.uk
bike, bus, boat Exploring the Lake District by bike has never been easier with the new-look ‘Bike Bus’ service, which got underway at the start of May. Stagecoach’s 800 Bike Bus, supported through the GoLakes Travel Programme, runs the full length of England’s largest lake, Windermere and has been specially converted to carry up to 12 bikes. It’s a great way to get to the start of a ride, as well as being a convenient back-up for tired legs at the end of a busy day out on two wheels. Cyclists and non-cyclists alike can jump on and off the brand new Stagecoach vehicle at a range of popular locations, as part of a brand new route, including: Ambleside Kelsick Road), Brockhole, The Lake District Visitor Centre, Windermere train station, Bowness-on-Windermere Pier, Fell Foot Park, Newby Bridge, Lakeland Motor Museum, Lakeside & Havethwaite Railway. The Bike Bus even links in with timetables for a specially adapted ‘Bike Boat’ ferry service from Brockhole to Wray, run by Windermere Lake Cruises, with room for up to 12 bikes. To help inspire passengers about the range of cycle routes along the way, two handy new leaflets have been produced to complement the service. Called ‘Rides from the Bike Bus’ and ‘Days out from the Bike Bus’ leaflets, these bite-size guides are printed on waterproof paper. For 2013, the Bike Bus will run: 4th May-14th July (Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays) and 20th July-1st Sept (Daily), 7th Sept – 28th Sept (Weekends only) Download the full timetable at: http://www.golakes.co.uk/travel/NewBike-Bus.aspx
New routes aNNouNced for 2013 Moor 2 sea sportive Last Year CW featured the Moor 2 Sea sportive. Just Events Ltd have announced that, this year, there will be a choice of three routes for their 2013 edition of the event which takes place on September 7th. The ‘Inspire’ (60 km / 37 miles), the ‘Challenge’ (104 km / 65 miles), and the ‘Extreme’ (180 km / 112 miles). All routes start and finish from the Conference Centre at Exeter Racecourse in Devon. The ‘Inspire’ route is a new addition to the Moor 2 Sea Sportive and has been introduced as a more achievable challenge for those new to Sportive cycling and endurance events. The route is mainly undulating but still takes in a respectable 3000 feet of climbing with gradients up to 16% on the final ascent to Haldon Belvedere. Both the ‘Challenge’ and ‘Extreme’ routes have been
completely revised for 2013. “We could not be certain how construction work for the new Kingskerswell Bypass would affect the local road network in September so we took the decision to completely avoid this area.” explains Event Director, Stewart Bergman. “We have also listened and responded to the excellent feedback from our riders, tweaking other aspects of the routes to devise what we believe will be the perfect course for 2013.” he adds. Distances for the new 2013 routes remain unchanged. The ‘Challenge’ is 104 km (65 miles) and takes in a demanding 6,600 ft of climb whilst the ‘Extreme’ is a gruelling 180 km (112 miles) with over 11,000 ft of climb and gradients up to 25%, a true test for any endurance athlete. Full details of the route have been published on the event website www.moor2sea.com
www.cyclingworldmag.com | Cycling World 11
THE DALES | FAMILY RIDE
Café Society in the Dales Ellie Korkal continues to lead Dad, Neil, into cafes ...
e woke up early to a cold and crisp day. Breakfast was soon dispatched, the sun started to shine and we were looking forward to the days cycling. It’s here the plans changed, Ellie wanted to stay at the campsite for three nights rather than move around because she liked it so much. I must say I had to agree. Having not to pack up everything was an added bonus. We decided to cycle over to Grassington then onto Kettlewell and back. Of course a cafe experience would be the focus of the day. Not having the Pino and trailer fully loaded meant that we could enjoy its performance even more. Light work was made of any gradient we met and the speed increased both downhill and on the flat, much to Ellie’s enjoyment. The Pino is so responsive and comfortable either fully laden or with only day rations. The day’s cycling was to be a pleasure.
We passed through Hebden on the way to Grassington, but, unfortunately, the Old Schoolhouse cafe was closed. If we had a mountain bike outfit we would have taken the old mines route and dropped into the top of Grassington. Today, however, we remained on the road. Grassington attracted the inevitable crowd as we sat and enjoyed our cafe moment. One onlooker had actually ridden a Pino. Worryingly, he was technically informed and knew more than we did! We acknowledged his commentary with the odd nod and occasional murmur. At times we really did not have a clue about what he was saying, much to our embarrassment. However, we were soon on our way taking the back road through Conistone and onward into Kettlewell. Kettlewell is another village steeped in history. It is believed that it was once known as Cetal Wella, which means
bubbling spring or stream in Anglo-Saxon. The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book, too. The Cottage Tearoom was visited, with enthusiasm, and lunch was quickly enjoyed. We then walked round the village popping into a variety of shops and chatting. For those individuals who have a particular interest in ‘Olde Worlde’ village garages, where every corner tells a story and offers something superbly interesting, then the garage in Kettlewell is worth a visit. Ellie soon wised up to the fact that the garage owner was a classical motorcycle enthusiast and it wasn’t long before I was chatting at length about the various gems he had tucked away. Needless to say Ellie redirected me. We purchased provisions in the local village store and were soon on our way, as time was moving on. The mileage was not high but this was not the purpose of the trip, taking our time observing the views and chatting to local people was the
12 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
THE DALES | FAMILY RIDE focus – not forgetting the cafes Another evening arrived and the campsite ritual was repeated with the added bonus of an evening walk along the river as the sun went down. Unexpectedly, we were joined briefly by a colleague from work and his young son. A game of football-cum-rugby, not too sure which, took place with the adults as reluctant referees. The New Inn did not disappoint for dinner and campfire stories were read again; it wasn’t long for bed was calling. That night it rained and it was unusually cold, for me it was particularly uncomfortable because of the small tent we were using. As per usual, Ellie slept soundly, while I, frustrated, listened to the slight, whispering snore that emanated from within her sleeping bag. Morning eventually arrived and, thankfully the sun was shining. Kilnsey Fisheries and Kilnsey Pony Trekking Centre where destinations that day, so breakfast was soon consumed and it wasn’t long before we were on our way. Unfortunately, I had got the timing wrong and thought out pre-booked pony trek was happening at 10.30 but it wasn’t, I realised it was booked for 10.00. This meant some hard pedalling was needed and we had to miss out on our planned stop in Grassington. Ellie got stuck in and was pedalling as hard as she could; we completed that morning’s distance without stopping and arrived just in time. Ellie had been pony trekking here before and was looking forward to it. It is a very friendly centre and a lot of time is spent with the children and the horses. The trekking route takes the small party out over the fields and along the side of the River Wharfe. Good views of Kilnsey Rocks can be had and we spotted climbers on the face slowly working their way up. We also spotted a hang glider high in the distance gaining height over Mastiles Lane. Once the trip was completed with chatted with the onlookers who were again very interested in the Pino, as per usual Ellie embraced the role of public relations officer. We then pedalled the short distance to Kilnsey Fisheries; we had lunch at the wonderful cafe and then went for a walk on a nature trail. Again, Ellie has visited this venue before but there is so much to do that you never get bored of it. It’s certainly worth a visit and when you get to the end of the nature trail children can go and say hello to the piglets on top of the hill. If you fancy some fishing you can catch your dinner in the local trout ponds, something Ellie has done before. At this point in the day it was particularly warm so we decided to cycle back the way we came and visit Linton Falls on the way out of Grassington. We noticed them the previous day and having never
been there we made a point that we must stop and have a look. We didn’t approach the falls on the Grassington side of the river, but went down to St Michael and All Angels Church at the bottom end of Linton and crossed the footbridge, parking the Pino by the trees on the river bank. It wasn’t long before both Ellie and I were in the water, the water level was low so it was safe and there were plenty of people enjoying the tranquillity of the spot. As the afternoon progressed we decided that we would also visit the church on the way back to the campsite.
This was a particular poignant experience for Ellie because she asked lots of questions about the purpose of the church and why people are buried there; we spent quite a lot of time talking about this. We looked inside the church and the welcome book, with Ellie leaving her own little message in the latter. We also visited the war memorial which is situated in the grounds of the church. Again this was poignant moment because we spent time talking about the meaning of war and the sacrifice of the men and women who have died in them. As meaningful as
www.cyclingworldmag.com | Cycling World 13
THE DALES | FAMILY RIDE this experience was, time was getting on and we had to head back to the campsite. The last evening on the site was spent, once again, walking along the river and rummaging around the local barns as night fell looking for bats. Conveniently as always, we found ourselves very close to the New Inn, another evening mail was enjoyed, and we sat outside by a wall, eating and watching the world go by. This was the end of our third day and we were feeling very tired so an early night was had. Ellie was soon wrapped up in a sleeping bag, snoring quietly. I sat outside the tent reading and trying to pick out the satellites as they moved across the evening sky. Sleep soon arrived. Yet again the night was damp and cold and the morning arrived with a bank of cloud sitting over the valley. We decided to have a light breakfast and pack up quickly as this was our final day; we would have to head for home sometime. As ever, Ellie organised things so it wasn’t long before everything was packed away and the Pino was fully loaded. After a day without gear pedalling and controlling the outfit with full kit aboard took some getting used to. The truth is, though, that it takes but a few minutes to get used to differences in bikes, so it was not long before we were back into our stride, Ellie providing the usual ongoing commentary. We dropped into
the Cavendish just outside Bolton Abbey, but we were too early because it was not open, so we headed on to the cafe opposite the Devonshire Arms. Unfortunately this, too, was closed; we were just too early. Ellie suggested that we keep going because we had only had another six miles, or so, to do before we got back to Ilkley where we planned to drop the Pino off at JD Cycles’ Ilkley showroom. The decision was made and we headed off to Ilkley. It was not too long before we were pedalling up the High Street. This was a rather entertaining experience because nearly everybody stopped what they were doing and stared at us. Ellie rewarded the observers with lots of waving and smiling as we swung into the courtyard at JD Cycles and parked up. We soon unloaded and said thank you to Jamie and Mitch for letting us drop off the outfit here, they would take it back to JD Tandems in Gargrave at some point in the next few days. Ellie suggested that it will be nice to finish the tour with a visit to one of the local coffee houses, a quick game is of spoof was had with Ellie winning, and a venue was chosen. This did seem to be a rather appropriate way to end our tour and allowed us to reflect on experience. It wasn’t long before Katie collected us and we were soon back home with lots of stories to tell over our evening meal. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before
the conversation turned to where we wanted to go tandem-touring next. And so the process began again; next time we should go for longer and increase our daily distance; we should also try and be more independent not relying on the hospitality of local Inns and cafes so much. We decided we would be more self-sufficient and cook our own meals which should also help keep costs down. Ellie still regularly talks about our adventure. What was so special was that she contributed significantly. Although she was only six years old at the time, and only that just, she was able to pedal her own body weight and took part in both the planning and day to day decision-making. Even better, she knew the campsite routine like the back of her hand. The whole experience was an education in itself. A tour such as this is something we would recommend to anybody who wants to move away from the ordinary. If this is something that takes your fancy, a Hase Pino outfit would certainly be what we would recommend. We had absolutely no problems and were able to manage the Dales terrain we encountered and the uneven road surfaces that were so commonplace. We had no aches and pains and the ride was incredibly comfortable. Our suggestion would be giving it a go, you never know where you might end up.
14 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
BE ALERT! LOOK OUT FOR YOURSELF WITH BIKE-EYE
WITH PAUL WAGNER | INFORMALIstAs
INFORMALIsTAs There’s more to riding a bike … even when Paul Wagner goes racing
y ears are burning! I have never raced, nor have I ever been even remotely competitive, but it seems that in my enthusiastic advocacy of leisure riding I may have given the impression that I’m dead against cycle racing per se. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not over-enthusiastic about track riding but I follow stage races like the Tour de France quite keenly, although I have to say that I prefer the Vuelta, but that’s entirely a personal thing. I really appreciate the spring classics, they are tough, and the Paris – Roubaix left me breathless this year, although how you can say that Fabien Cancellara won and Sep
Vanmarcke lost I’ll never know. After 150 miles together over the most punishing surfaces, to be a bike’s length behind the other chap, and that for only the last few yards to the finishing line on a banked track, is an equal performance to me, and I don’t care to split them. No, my current problem with cycling has simple roots. A couple of months ago I offered the opinion that most club riding is currently fitness orientated. That, and the general over-emphasis on the sporting aspect in the press, with its heroes and heroines, winners and losers, encourages people who really should know better, to pose around in clusters wearing all the
Above: The peloton rides over me.
gear and comparing expensive bikes, while giving out a general air of superiority. Their outlook towards cyclists with a more untailored approach is not helpful and sometimes newcomers feel very out-ofplace. It can even put some people off before they start, and lest you should think that I’ve had a bad local experience that has coloured my judgement, I have met this attitude in many areas in the last few years. Not so long ago we were all cyclists together, but things have changed. An increasingly competitive, elitist, ‘I’m better than you’ mind-set is developing, and I don’t like it. Anyway – that’s enough of that, once and for all. I’ll move on to more agreeable things.
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WITH PAUL WAGNER | INFORMALIstAs Me and the raCing gaMe
Top Right: Promotions girls freezing in Pollensa – we were in tee shirts and shorts!! Bottom Right: Big Mig’s flip side.
For more than a decade Jean and I spent the first month or so in every year cycling in Mallorca, and one of our holiday highlights was always the Vuelta a Mallorca, (more recently called the Challenge Illes Balears), the first professional stage race of the year, which takes place every February. When I first encountered it in 1995 it was a jolly, coffeehouse affair, with the riders mingling with the punters at the start, having their photographs taken, kissing babies and generally promoting the sport, but in more recent years the whole thing became much more focussed and, strange though the thought may seem, competitive. May I regale you with a few tales of those early days, which were so enjoyable and relaxed? Each stage is treated with joyful seriousness. The preparations are a dress rehearsal for grander days to come later in the season. After they’ve put up the barriers and the public address system, they have to test the PA for sound. Huge blasts of loud music are de rigeur, while a big TV presence and a babble of over-blown pre and end-of-race commentaries all add to the general pandemonium. The police, both the Guardia Civil and the Policia Municipal, are there in full splendour but sometimes there’s a side show; ‘The Greens’, as the Guardia are known, can strut their stuff better than most – with them it’s pretty much an art form, and it’s fascinating to watch their little dramas whenever something, however trivial, occurs. It can be pure theatre! After a full introduction of the riders the stage would get under way, and if you cycled across country you could sometimes watch the racing several times. The whole thing made for a most exciting day out and we never got tired of it. One stage finish took place on the Puerto Pollensa seafront, and Jean and I rode there with a group of riders from our hotel. I used to carry a small voice recorder with me to make notes on (I still do) and I discovered that it would record general sound quite effectively. As the full rolling circus approached then hurtled by, with people cheering, motorcycle outriders horns wailing and the bunch whirring, I switched the recorder on. About half an hour after the finish we all sat at the roadside in the sun, having a beer and just delighting in winter abroad. I quietly rewound the recording and switched it to ‘play’ – sound full on. ‘They’re coming again’, one of our number squeaked, and about thirty people, of several nationalities, jumped up, went to the kerb, and peered down the road again. It was a full ten seconds before they realised that the race had actually finished some time ago and anyway, the sound was coming from behind them. I didn’t know
where to put myself. Most of them saw the joke immediately but there were one or two who were truly po-faced and behaved quite disagreeably. It was brilliant. I still laugh about it now. On another occasion, and in another year, the ‘Pollensa seafront’ finish travelled the full length of Pollensa Bay from Alcudia, and you could hear, and then see the publicity wagons, the peloton and the backup crews approaching from several miles away. Suddenly there was a heck of a bang in the marina behind the finishing line, and a rolling billow of black smoke rose from one of the boats undergoing a winter overhaul. It was well ablaze and all hell broke loose. A rumour went round that someone was trapped on board but nothing could be done until the fire brigade arrived. Where were they stationed? Alcudia. Added to the back of the approaching circus was the unmistakeable sound of the fire engine, lights flashing and crew poised, but they were stuck behind the race and they weren’t permitted to pass in case they interfered with the sprint finish. It was the slowest emergency response that I have ever seen, but the whole affair was typical of the island’s enthusiasm for cycle racing – and to hell with the consequences! Fortunately the trapped workman turned out to be a figment of someone’s imagination, nothing more. Pedro Delgardo presented the day’s prizes
but I haven’t the faintest idea who won, as I couldn’t get near the finish for people and anyway, I was too busy watching the drama in the marina while avoiding the acrid fumes. It was at the race in 1996 that I first developed the art of third-rate cycling photography. There was an absolute buzz of riders at the ‘signing on’ in
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WITH PAUL WAGNER | INFORMALIstAs
Pollensa Town. It was a beautiful day, clear, sunny and warm. SLR at the ready, I positioned myself to capture Miguel Indurain (Banesto) – Big Mig to the aficionados – in close-up as he approached. At this time he had won several Tours de France and he was the dog’s cojones, or the cat’s whiskers for those of a more genteel disposition, so this would be a great addition to my photo album. He came slowly towards me, all toned, smiley and yes, he’s big all right – but just as I pressed the shutter he saw a professional photographer covering the race for the papers so he looked towards him, not me. I got a lovely picture of the back of his head. He could have been the Queen of Sheba for all you can see of his features; although I guess the Queen’s legs would be a bit more womanly. Next year I tried to persuade Erik Zabel (Telekom), to pose with my holiday folding bike while I took a picture, but he refused, presumably for fear of offending his sponsors. I stood in front of him leaning on it instead, and the late and much lamented Bob Thom took the picture for me, with Erik smiling in the background. Bob was staying at the same hotel as me, together with Ian Steel and an extremely lively bunch of their friends. Happy days. In 2002 I nearly found myself in fast company. I went into the Tourist
Top Left: Joseba Beloki’s lamppost Top Right: Crossing the Alcudia finish line Below: Where else would you want to be?
Information Office in Alcudia and in my best Spanish, asked the woman behind the counter for the race details – there’s always a hand-out giving start and finish places and times – you know the sort of thing. For some reason she looked at me in disbelief then disappeared into a back room, where I could hear her talking earnestly on the phone. She was gone for best part of half an hour, and when she came back she looked at me sorrowfully and said ‘I’m sorry, I have asked the authorities but you are not permitted to ride. You can watch, but the race is closed’. She’d spent all that time trying to get me onto the start line. My Spanish is usually adequate so what went
wrong that time I’ll never know. Never mind. A couple of days later I had the satisfaction of punching the air as I crossed the finishing line alone, half an hour ahead of the field. OK, I had a head start so there was no prize, but I was happy to receive a smattering of applause from some of the race officials. My downfall came later the same week. I stood on the footpath on a traffic island, poised to take a great close-up of the bunch heading out on the day’s stage, only for the riders to decide for some strange reason that they wanted to be on the same bit of footpath as I was on. They rode over me. In 2003 Joseba Beloki (ONCE) was the connoisseur’s choice to beat Armstrong in that year’s Tour de France. I persuaded him to pose for me before the start of one stage, and he obligingly stood there as I composed my masterpiece. I had all the time in the world but I managed to capture him with a lamppost growing out of his head. After that, I gave up trying to immortalise cycling’s legends. Nowadays I just take pictures. I have so many happy memories of my winters in Mallorca that I could write a book about it, but the Vuelta a Mallorca gave me some of the best. No, I’m not against cycle racing at all, but I think cycle racing may have it in for me!
18 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
Bath to Bournemouth bike ride CYCLING HOLIDAYS
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THE MEDITERRANEAN | CYCLE TOURS
All images courtesy of VisitMalta and AirMalta
Island-hopping in the Med
alta is at the heart of a series of projects funded by the European Union to support the development of sustainable, environmental tourism - MaltaGoesRural and Sustainable Interregional Bike Tourism (SIBIT) encourage travellers to explore off the beaten track, especially by bicycle. The MaltaGoesRural project promotes Maltese rural heritage through a network of walking and aims to improve accessibility in semi-rural, rural and natural areas. With three new walking tracks already launched, there are six more to follow throughout 2013. Two of the current routes can only be followed on foot, but
the Windmills Walk, which passes through the picturesque villages of Zurrieq and Safi, can be followed on foot or by bike. Travellers can take it at their own pace, photographing the bluest seas, watching farmers working in their fields and villagers going about their daily life, or stop to enjoy a traditional Maltese platter. MaltaGoesRural tracks are colour-coded according to difficulty and are thematic. Clear signage is dotted along the routes for easy navigation. For each route, the MTA have produced maps along with aps that will be available in English, French and German. On a broader scale, the SIBIT project, funded through the Italia Malta Programme, aims to promote cycle touring by linking Sicily, Malta and Gozo. Covering over 1000kms of cycle routes, the SIBIT tracks incorporate the region’s wealth of history and culture. A range of tracks have been mapped out according to suggested levels of experience, from beginners to advanced, passing many of the Maltese islands’ landmarks. From the ancient St Pauls Grotto and Catacombs through to a spot of shopping in the Ta’ Qali Crafts Village, or cycling along the coast line in Gozo, there really is something available for everybody. A network of hotels with dedicated facilities is gearing up for the influx of
cyclists. To make the cyclist feel even more at home, the speed limit in the Maltese Islands, in urban areas, is 25 mph and, on country roads, 40 mph. Gozo is a short ferry trip from Malta’s most northerly point. The third island in the archipelago is Comino. This is the
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THE MEDITERRANEAN | CYCLE TOURS
Courtesy of SIBIT
smallest of all the inhabited islands and has a tiny permanent population. There are three smaller uninhabited islands. Most of the tourist sights are on Malta and Gozo. As with many Mediterranean islands, their history runs from ancient times, through periods of conquest and war, drawing in influences from east, west south and north. The capital city, Valletta, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with astonishing baroque architecture. Yet, there are other towns that show the influence of rule from Byzantium, Rome, Phoenecia, Arabic North Africa and Aragon amongst others. The Ġgantija Temples, on Gozo, are believed to be the oldest freestanding buildings in the world, even predating the Pyramids. Not surprisingly, these are another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Seems like there is an awfully rich mixture in a relatively small dish; perfect for a cycle tour with lots of flavours and, the usual fine Mediterranean climate. Local specialities include Pastizzi, a savoury filo pastry pasty filled with either rich ricotta cheese or mushy peas; Fenek, a rabbit stew which is Malta’s national dish; Kunserva, a sweet concentrated tomato paste which is delicious spread on bread; mqaret, packages of sweet pastry filled with dates and a spices; ftira, theMaltese answer to pizza – a type of flatbread topped or filled with potatoes, eggs, grated cheese, tomatoes, anchovies, olives, ricotta and Maltese sausage and Gozitan cheeselet from Gozo. Malta also produces its own olive oil, honey and award-winning CISK lager. There are five main wine makers in
Malta. A good time to sample Malta’s delicious wines is at the Delicata Wine Festival, held in August and September, in Valletta and Gozo. However, in August cyclists from colder climes might find the temperature on the high side. This could be another spring or autumn tour – or even winter? For visitors from the UK, English is, along with Maltese, the official language. Another selling point is that the Maltese Islands are, according to the UN, amongst the safest places on earth. In fact, in 2011, they were rated number one for safety. For more information on the Maltese Islands visit: www.maltagoesrural.com www.medinbike.com www.visitmalta.com
www.cyclingworldmag.com | Cycling World 21
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A cruise along the famous Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, provides daily opportunities to explore new places by bike. Make exploring on two-wheels a truly memorable experience. Your journey will also take you past Medieval towns including the famed and impressive 13th century castle in Carcassonne.
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The Scottish Highlands provide a backdrop of incredible beauty along the Caledonian Canal. Much of your time will be spent on lakes (lochs) nestled in the rugged valleys along the Great Glen replete with breath-taking scenery , hilltop castles, quiet waterside towns, cosy pubs and rich, melodic bagpipes! Your cruising route will provide access to amazing cycle trails, including those around Fort William which hosted the Mountain Bike World Cup 2013.
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ICELAND | cycle TOURS
ThE LoNg, STrAIghT roAD PArT TWo
A cycle tour in Iceland, where nature rules and alcohol is pricey ... Paul McKelvie pedals on as the way becomes less straight …
eeling quite well rested after our overnight stay in Höfn, we are heading for Breiðdalsvik which is the next main town. From Breiðdalsvik, the road is gravel and therefore completely unsuitable for our wheels and tyres so the bus will be the only option. The cycle to Breiðdalsvik takes us round a wide fjord and the wind, ever changing, seems always to be against us. We seek refuge from it and find shelter beside the smallest church I have ever seen, which has a beautiful view, sited as it is, on the edge of the fjord. We peek in and see the small rows of pews. It must hold no more than 20 people. Like many churches today, and Iceland is no different, congregations in this mainly Protestant land have fallen sharply. We have lunch and move on just as the rain is starting and manage to set up our tent in Breiðdalsvik in a veryy light drizzle. The weather is not looking good though.
It is around three a.m. and I awaken to the sound of dripping. There is rain getting in everywhere and, to my horror, I feel the bottom of my sleeping bag is cold and wet. The rain is severe and it goes on and on and we resort to putting a pan below the drip and towel down the other leaks to stem the flow of water. This is every camper’s nightmare and there is no option other than to bear it out. Thankfully, we have the early bus to catch and in the morning we get everything together as fast as we can. Mývatn, our next stop, is around 150 miles away and we hope that our journey westwards will bring some respite from the rain. We take the front wheels off the bikes, store our machines in the hold of the bus and hop on board still soaked through. It is hard to explain the feeling of warmth and safety a bus can give you when you have had such a horrible and miserably cold night. The simple pleasures are the best and I find it pleasant to look out at the
‘monsoon’ from the volcanic-ash-stained windows of the bus and to see the patterns the rain makes on the windows. The bus drives through some barren and quite beautiful landscape on the way to Mývatn. As we get nearer, we can see steam rising from the numerous areas of geothermal activity that this area is famous for. We also have fine weather and the option of a couple of campsites in Mývatn. Things are looking up. The bus stops and, as we get off, we can see a number of other cyclists waiting to get on. Do cyclists ever cycle? Feeling a bit guilty, we move on quickly. The town has a well stocked mini supermarket, a tourist information office and a few nice little craft shops selling local goods. We buy some provisions including the 2.3% ‘beer’, the strongest thing they have, and dry out our clothes and tent. Life is good again and as our pitch looks onto a beautiful lake, we could almost be
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ICELAND | cycle TOURS
Top Right: Resting after Dalvik Right: Skógasandur
in a sort of green paradise or oasis. We are even undaunted by the strong rottenegg-smelling sulphur that pervades the atmosphere in this area. Everywhere you look you see steam rising and large pipes twisting their way down the mountains - and it is these pipes that carry energy from the earth to heat Icelandic homes. Tomorrow, we have a day off and, as walking tourists for once, we plan to do a tour of the geysers and the boiling mudfields. Feeling refreshed, we move on again and are now, ever so slightly, making our way northwards and nearer to the Arctic Circle. Iceland lies just below it but the small island of Grimsey, just north of the mainland, straddles the Circle. En route, we will stop in Akureyri which is Iceland’s second city with a population of around 15,000. There is a long and winding, almost never ending descent into Akureyri and from the top, we get our first view of the cold Greenland Sea. Apart from the small island of Grimsey to the north, there is really nothing out there apart from Greenland, polar bears and loads and loads of ice. I have never been so far north before and, as the sun is shining, the view north looks actually less hostile than it should be. The sea however is a icy blue and looks very, very cold. With only a brief stop in Akureyri, we are again pedalling north in the direction of Dalvik. The road is small and windy and unfortunately for us, there is a fish festival going on this weekend which usually attracts around 30,000 people - quite a lot of people for a country with a population of only 280,000. The road is crammed with every type of vehicle apart from bicycles and we have a few near misses from towed caravans and the crazy monster-truck drivers. After a hairy twenty miles or so, we arrive in Dalvik to a festival like atmosphere. There are people and vehicles packed into every conceivable piece of land. The official campsite is a non-starter for us and, by chance, we bump into a friendly Icelander who is standing on the street drinking a beer. Everyone is drinking here. So much for the strict licensing laws. The man tells us that we can camp anywhere and he directs us to a great little area in the fields just behind the town. It is private and safe and we quickly set up camp and join the festival goers. The festival has a really friendly atmosphere; basically the idea is that festival goers can visit the local people in their houses and they will be provided with some fish soup and a few light snacks. Everywhere, there are people in thick Icelandic jumpers queuing and there is music on every corner. Curiously too, and for decoration I hope, there are rows and rows of fish heads hanging in nice little arrangements on garden fences. The stench
of fish is everywhere and the festival seems to mirror the nations reliance on the fish industry - fish is Iceland’s biggest export. We have a few beers, eat some snacks but avoid the fish soup. The party is in full swing but we are dead on our feet and reluctantly, we retire to our tent. We have an early departure from Dalvik harbour for Grimsey, which will be our most northerly point. We are going as foot passengers but there are no secure facilities for leaving our bikes. We are directed to hide them between giant containers and as Iceland feels very safe, this is not really an issue for us. I don’t really know what an Icelander would do with a bike anyway as I have not seen one Icelander cycling since I
arrived here. This is car country! We hop on board the short but robust tug-like ferry with around twenty other day trippers and depart for the three hour journey north. It is cold on the deck and most people go below, but we can’t resist the chance of spotting the big whales that abound here. The minke whale is the most common, but there are also the humpback and the majestic blue whale here, too, and I am hoping to catch a glimpse of the biggest animal that has ever lived. We watch patiently through our binoculars but are not in luck and catch only a fleeting glimpse of a distant fin of some animal from afar. The boat glides into Grimsey
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ICELAND | cycle TOURS harbour and I feel the uniqueness of arriving in such a remote northern community. Grimsey has a population of around ninety and, with its hundred metre high cliffs, a massive population of birds with over sixty different species. There are a wealth of arctic terns, fulmars and kittiwakes here, but it is the puffins with their rather worried looking expressions that the people come here to see. They are obviously used to the curious tourist and they pose nicely for us. In the distance I can see the point that marks the crossing of the Arctic circle. The juncture however is a bit disappointing and somewhat of an anti-climax with nothing to see other than the usual signposts and distances for places like New York, London and Tokyo. I don’t quite know what I had imagined it would be like. Probably something as infantile as strong winds, ice and polar bears on the other side. It is none of these, and the weather over the Circle is as fine and warm as the ‘south’. Feeling rather warm after our tour of the ‘north’, we make our way back to the harbour for lunch and wait for the ferry to depart. Grimsey is lovely in its remoteness but I can imagine that all the space here can be suffocating and actually, a little depressing. There is a kind of edge of the world feel to the place. I could not dare to think what Grimsey would be like in the cold and dark winters when the sun hardly rises. If you want true remoteness, then this is it. After arriving back in Dalvik and staying
Top Right: Crossing the Sandur Below: Village of Djupivogur
one more night, we depart early before the festival people and are now steadily pedalling back to the south of Iceland and to where our tour had started. We are right on schedule and as the weather is fine, and for the first time, we even put our cycling shorts on. This only lasts for half an hour though and the cooler wind soon returns as we make our way to Blönduós. The further south we are going, the easier the cycling is becoming and this is, I think, not only down to the more gentle terrain, but also to our improved fitness levels after around 600 miles of, seemingly, turning the pedals into the wind. We arrive in Blönduós in fine weather, find the campsite in the centre of town and go for a stroll. There is a tiny local museum and the thing that catches my eye is the stuffed polar bear in the corner. The bear had been shot on the beach here in 2008 and was so emaciated and unpredictable in its behaviour, that it would probably not have survived ‘repatriation’ to Greenland. The bears often float down to Iceland on breaking ice from Greenland and with future rising temperatures, this will become a more regular occurrence around the island in the coming years. We have roughly 200 miles to go, but after an overnight stay in Blönduós, I notice a major problem with my bike. The weight from my body and luggage has damaged my rear tyre which is worn through to the canvas. I do not have many options here as far as a replacement tyre goes as these small villages do not have cycle shops. The next big place will be Reykjavik and I have to make do for now by swapping the front and rear tyres and hope that the road surface is kind to me. Luckily, my tyre has lasted and we are now very near to Reykjavik. Unfortunately, there is a huge tunnel under the sea from Borgarnes to Reykjavik and cyclists are prohibited from travelling through it. Again, we hop on the bus and, after a long twenty minutes in the tunnel, we are dropped off unceremoniously in the centre of the city. We quickly find the same campsite that we
had used before and turn in for the night. Tomorrow we will visit the capital. The city, although very modern in its architecture, also has a few older parts. It also has a wealthy, confident atmosphere and it is hard to imagine that Iceland has had major problems with its economy and banking system so very recently. There are shops and fast food outlets on every corner and restaurants where you can try delicacies such as whale, shark, seal and everyone’s old favourite - sheep’s testicles. We pass on the food and, instead, opt to see whales in their natural environment by booking a whale watching tour. You are almost guaranteed to see one or two and we get very close to a minke whale. Of equal interest however, is the display of diving gannets right next to the boat; shooting silently like arrows into the water. Overall, we are impressed by Reykjavik. It is a relatively small city which reflects the island’s population, but it has a nice feel to it and there is certainly enough to do here for a number of days. Alas, our time in Iceland is almost over and as we cycle back to Keflavik airport, I reflect on the journey. We have cycled just over 800 miles in our time here, have encountered a full range of weather conditions and landscape and viewed nature and wildlife in all its rawness. We have also been left with many new memories, including giant geysers and volcanic wastelands and have never been far from the smell of the egg-like sulphur which pervades much of the air in Iceland. There were also huge glaciers, icebergs and lots and lots of boiling mud and we had even crossed the Arctic Circle. Not too bad for a trip of almost three weeks. Overall, Iceland will appeal mainly to the tourist who has an affinity with nature and who is not easily discouraged by bad weather. It is such a diverse, unique land. It is a place that I would thoroughly recommend. Don’t forget to take plenty of money with you though and be prepared for wide and lonely spaces. Lastly, don’t forget to pack your thermals.
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mark jacobson | comment
bcQ 13: sHETLanD - IT’s as Far norTH as YoU can Go! Mark Jacobson goes to the limit...
arthest north in the British Isles, and the road SOUTH from the capital town crosses the 60th parallel! Lerwick is the capital and port of entry for the ferry from Aberdeen, an overnight crossing of about 13 hours. It is quicker to fly! The runway at Sumburgh Head crosses the neck of land linking that to the mainland, sea lapping at each end. I went by boat, following a rather disastrous rail journey from home. Just as well I used the folding bike: with my first train cancelled, the rest of my bookings fell away, as would any cycle bookings made. No bike booking, no bike in van. As usual after an overnight journey, my first day would be quiet. A bit of shopping, some gentle cycling for exercise, a lot of sleep. I took the opportunity of locating the first of my six Shetland BCQ clues, there along the seafront at the Victoria Pier, wording taken from a distinctive memorial.Clickimin Broch, an ancient fortification, is also close to Lerwick, beautifully situated on a promontory that juts into Loch Clickimin. Sunday dawned breezy. Not being too sure of refreshments being available I took picnic food with me: heading to Sumburgh, some 25 miles into the breeze, I knew of only two potential cafes and one hotel. Not everywhere is open on Sundays and the season was nearly over, too. Shetland is not too fertile, much of the terrain being either heather covered heath or else peat bog. I saw a few pastures with sheep or cows, one or two horses, a small number of Shetland ponies and one field of rolled straw. Almost reaching Sumburgh I turned aside to cross the narrow mainland to St Ninian’s Isle, which is joined by means of a doublesided beach. Here I solved the second of my clues. Not much further on I reached
Sumburgh. In passing the airport a number of typically small planes were active. These are the main passenger flights to Scotland. Beyond is Sumburgh Head, a huge lump of rock surmounted by a lighthouse, forming the southern tip of mainland Shetland. Here I found my third clue for the Quest. Mainland Shetland is a long, generally narrow, island, widening with a western bulge towards Papa Stour, and another to the northwest to the dramatic cliffs of Eshaness. Further north lie two big and inhabited islands, Yell and Unst. North of Unst is a rock called Muckle Flugga supporting a lighthouse which, when manned, was the most northerly British residence. Before ‘flying’ back to my camp site at Lerwick (wind would be pushing me along ever so hard), I took refreshment at the Sumburgh Hotel, amazed at the low price for a pot of tea and giant cookie. The strong breeze, gusting to force 6 (30 mph) at times, certainly helped me back, at one time recording 36 mph on my trusty Brompton. Next day began with a thick fog. The breeze continued, so I decided to take advantage of using a folder by cycling northwards to Toft, at the northern end, collecting three clues to finish the Shetland Quest, and return by bus. Shetland buses do not take full sized bikes! On leaving Lerwick on the main road, amidst fairly continuous traffic, I came upon James, another cycle-camper who was heading directly from the ferry for Unst. Thereafter I turned westward for Whiteness and a BCQ clue, searching through the damp gloom, bike lights glowing brightly. From there I crossed back to the main road, taking then a minor one eastwards to Brettabister, and another clue. This
route is quiet, narrow and hilly, and eventually rejoins the main road nearer the northern end. At Toft I turned back. There is no refreshment here, only a small shop at Mossbank, or a hotel along the western road through Sullom Voe. I took the latter road to find my final clue, before returning to Mossbank for refreshment and to await the bus. While standing in the shop consuming a baguette and cup of tea, a van arrived with the milk delivery. In asking the driver, I obtained a pleasant lift back to Lerwick, folded bike amidst the milk crates! Far better than waiting a further two hours for my bus! Hurrah for my Brompton. With all six clues solved, I could turn my attention to some travelling further afield, hoping to visit Eshaness. I would either have to camp over or get up and back in a day, utilising buses. The camp site there, at Braewick, is apparently very exposed. The bus to Hillswick, nearest to Eshaness, departs in the afternoon and returns in the morning! The service to Brae would be more useful, but Brae is about 22 miles form Eshaness! Ideally I would travel out on the Tuesday, returning the next day. This was not to be. Tuesday was forecast for storm force winds up to force 10, that is, up to 70 mph. Not for cycling, not for camping on an exposed site. I had to content myself with staying in Lerwick and not cycling at all. I learned later that James had been crossing Yell on this very inclement day: he was blown off the road into a deep ditch. Unhurt but wet, he had to get his bags on to the road before recovering the cycle. The next day was beautiful but I had arranged to travel on to Orkney that evening, as the day after had yet another strong wind warning, with plenty of rain.
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NEARLY THE JURASSIC COAST Scot “Monkey Boy” Whitlock continues his coastal ride towards the Jurassic Coast … nearly there ... having reached Lymington from Chichester, it is time to cross the sea … and then head for the Dorset Riviera … Day Two: Isle of Wight
Above: Yarmouth Harbour
I woke at some silly hour, predominantly because I was in need of the loo, but also I felt slightly fidgety to be on my way. A quandary arose, did I continue to fidget uncontrollably and inevitably wake my parents or just get up and out on the bike. The weather was the ultimate deciding factor and as I stepped out into the early morning sun, I felt good. My legs were naively unaware of the task that lay across the Solent. The port of Lymington was my passport to the Isle of Wight and is recognised as one of the busiest leisure harbours on the
south coast. My destination was Yarmouth on the north-west side of the Island. I had hoped my view from the ferry would give me an insight into what I might encounter; was it just like England but with a strange twist, we’re they all pagans who relished the occasional sacrifice? There was a definite apprehension mixed with a large amount of stomach knotting excitement as I pedalled into the terminal. I was delighted to find that for a reasonable £12.50 they would transport me and the bike to the island and back. Sarah’s uncle had offered to take me across on his boat, like a modern day
version of Polder, but unfortunately he was away so, as an alternative, Wight Link Ferries performed more than adequately. As we left the mainland, the heavens opened quite severely with the wet stuff, but I soon discovered, rather pleasingly, that this was not the case at my destination. On board I settled down with a hot coffee and read a pamphlet produced predominately for cyclists by the Ferry Company. It was very informative and described the island as ‘Bike Island’ and boasts miles of well-maintained cycle routes but some are more challenging than others, with serious pedal power
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Top Right: Yarmouth Castle Right: Freshwater Bay
required to negotiate the steep gradients. I was pleased to discover that bikes are carried free when, obviously, accompanied by a fare paying adult. They also provide an initiative in partnership with Country Lanes in Brockenhurst called the ‘Bike and Sail’ deal. For just £20 per person you can hire a bike for a day and travel across from Yarmouth and back to Lymington. So no excuse to not stretch those legs! Their commitment to cycling on the Island is reinforced by their annual support and sponsorship of the island’s cycling festival, held every September. I had read that people born on the island are colloquially known as ‘Caulkheads’ but that this usually this gets written as its spoken as ‘Corkheads’; and folklore dictates that to establish a true ‘Corkhead’, a test can be conducted on a baby by throwing it into the sea off Ryde Pier. If it is a true islander they will float unharmed. I hoped that I wouldn’t have to prove my heritage but if the topic arose I would plead ignorance and admit I was a monkey, actually knowing how the welcoming folk of Hartlepool responded when they mistook a monkey for a French spy, I might just keep my mouth firmly shut. The view as I approached the port was dramatic; the natural weathered lines of the defined coastline were so evocative and wonderfully complimented the white chalky cliffs which are synonymous with the island County. Oh and no rain! Oops had I already mentioned that? I happily ingested my caffeine laden beverage which was a definite requirement at this absurd hour. The island is 23 miles from east to west and 13.5 miles from north to south covering a total area of approximately 147 sq miles. It’s diamond shaped and is home to approximately 141,000 people. The island did possess a strange, compelling, slightly hypnotic charm; it’s hard to explain. There was definitely a more laid back feel; it appeared more in tune with its residents and more accepting to visitors and “Monkey lookalike cyclists” in particular. As I pedalled along the gloriously deserted lanes, it reminded me so much of the scenery and landscapes from the movie ‘Wicker Man’, so typical of the highlands of north Scotland. My only company at times were a large community of rabbits which happily occupied the highways; well there was no chance of them being run over. My plan was to follow the ‘Round the Island’ cycle route. I had read that it was well marked with distinctive blue and white signage and most importantly it conveniently avoided the busy roads. But I couldn’t imagine that there were many, anyway. Obviously I had perused several maps and a mental note had been made to try to avoid St Boniface Down, near Ventnor which at 791 feet is the
island’s highest point. I was hoping to find a wonderfully diverse landscape with stunning examples of chalk cliffs, luscious scenery and glorious sandy beaches. I had decided to travel anti-clockwise from Yarmouth encountering the south of island first before heading north and eventually west to arrive back in the delights Yarmouth. I pedalled away from the port of Yarmouth on the B3054 towards Totland. After a few miles I detoured onto the A3055 at Freshwater Bay, this would be my route along the coast to Ventnor. The noise generated by the local shags and gulls, hidden from view in the rocky crevices, was so atmospheric. I found the sound comforting as it reminded me of some great times from my childhood. Sporadically, the terrain became more of a challenge with the expected steep inclines but the scenery was a wonderful distraction and compensation. As I cycled south I glanced back over Freshwater Bay, the setting was stunning, the vibrant white
cliffs standing imposingly over the glorious white sandy beaches. The sea appeared angry this morning and it looked like an ideal location to surf. Depending on the weather conditions most surfers head to the southern beaches but the wide sandy bay at Compton is renowned as having the best winter swells. I stopped briefly for some sustenance at Whale Chine. The hour was still early and there were no vehicles on the road, the only sound was the vocal sea crashing against the shoreline. It was so relaxing. There were gulls and other bird-life hanging ominously overhead preparing themselves for the kill, but they were more interested in the contents of the granola bar than the daft looking monkey holding it. It was at this point that I managed to achieve my second task (Scot had, as ever, asked his children to find him a challenge). Eli had asked for a piece of the Island and I secured a lovely, not too large, chunk of white stone though, no doubt, it would not be big enough for Eli.
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DORSET | cycle TOURS I encountered my first real substantial climb of the day just prior to Blackgang Chine, it was steep and kept on going. I briefly stopped at the viewpoint with its amazing vista. From this point I descended rapidly and after one more climb and descent, I was firmly planted in the heart of Ventnor. The most memorable thing for me about Ventnor was its location, deep in a valley. The realisation as I free wheeled at speed into town was soul destroying, the subsequent trek out of town would definitely not be as quick or as enjoyable. I wandered around the small, friendly town and seafront before acquiring a hot beverage, sat in comfort and people watched. Aren’t some folk hilarious, I was privy to a rather animated conversation between two old ladies about the Olympics and the monopoly the event will have on the television schedules. “Crikey, how can they even consider messing with the soaps, it’s an outrage.” Shanklin was a short distance along the coast from Ventnor. It is regarded as a quieter more refined resort. The promenade definitely didn’t seem as busy and town exuded a more traditional and picturesque persona. I pedalled down to the seafront, the weather and the views were glorious. I sat for some-time enjoying the salty sea air before pedalling back up and stopping by the mine dedicated to the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Benevolent Society. It is a novel and green way to generate funds, and, again, the panoramic views were stunning. I was amazed the rain had stayed away, I had a brief conversation with my dad back on the mainland and he miserably informed me it was bucketing down there; obviously the rumours of a micro climate on the island have some merit. As a side note, the weather was that appalling in the New Forest that my parents had great difficulty getting off the campsite in the motor home; the joys of a British summer and if anybody mentions global
Top : Hythe Pier, train and no cycling Bottom Left: Hythe Pier, cycling Bottom Right: Seafront, Shanklin
warming, I will poke their eyes out quite enthusiastically. Next stop was Sandown, which is regarded as the island’s best holiday resort, an opinion which is only enhanced by the fact that it constantly has the sunniest weather recorded on the south coast. Sandown and Shanklin reminded of the comparison between Margate and Broadstairs. The beach was beautiful. I stopped on the road which zigzagged down to the esplanade; the scenic views of the seafront were typically stunning. From Sandown I continued to pedal north on the A3055 through Brading. The route continued to be a mixture of sporadic hilly sections with sporadic descents followed by, c’mon you get the picture. I eventually arrived in Ryde and so did the mainland rain. The town appeared busy with mainly OAP’s. Fortified with a substantial ham sandwich and a large array of sweets I set off to explore the shops. The experience didn’t inspire so after a cheap takeaway coffee and the enjoyment of dodging the incessant rain I jumped back on the bike and headed west towards Newport, the main town, the County Town. The map gave me an insight into what lay ahead, Quarr Hill, Kite Hill. Oh joy!
I was unusually drained by the time I reached the town and also in urgent need of painkillers as my shoulder was extremely painful. A mixture of getting on in years and a substantially weighted rucksack, I guess. Newport offered a wonderful mix of narrow atmospheric streets and smart Georgian buildings. It offered plenty of top high street names mixed with some lovely boutique style outlets. There was definitely history in the town, with evidence of a third century Roman villa in the area and it was obviously the port and main access point to the delights of Carisbrooke Castle. From Newport I jumped on the A3054 west towards Yarmouth, the end/start point of my island odyssey. The route was slightly less arduous, enabling me to maintain a rather speedy pace and I arrived in the lovely town of Yarmouth midafternoon. I stopped and locked my bike outside a small bakery and set off to explore the town. I happily wandered around the atmospheric streets and halted for a warm welcoming coffee in a cafe hidden away down an alleyway. I had planned to visit the evocative Castle but it closed at 4pm on week days and, as I arrived in the town at 3.30pm, it would have to wait for another time. Yarmouth is the oldest
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town on the island, it was first granted a royal charter in 1135. I loved the quaint narrow streets and the harbour was pleasing on the eye. The place hasn’t changed much since the 16th century, it’s practically the same size and the original grid system of streets created by the Normans in the 12th is still in use today. As I waited for the ferry back to the mainland I pondered upon my experience on the island and why so many people enthuse about its qualities. In my opinion it lives up to its name so impressively; ‘Little England’ offered so much from stunning, award winning beaches, wonderfully bright blue waters and glorious isolation especially in the south part of the island. It was a pleasure to experience on two wheels even though I was tempted to get off and walk. The Island offers something different but also something reassuring familiar and ultimately it’s for you to discover your best bits of this beautiful part of the world and thankfully there were no apparent pagans and the associated sacrifices. The next sixty minutes were a blur consisting of ferry, coffee, Lymington, campsite, sleep. I was exhausted, even tempted to say ‘knackered’ but my Mum might hear, so with a contented smirk on my face I retired early and dropped off with ease. Actually, too easily, and contentedly as the next day, my mother was slightly derogatory about my snoring prowess
The ride from the campsite to Christchurch was enjoyable and event free as the temperature continued to rise. I negotiated New Milton with ease; the town is a substantial size with a good array of shop and amenities. My legs were feeling no negative effects from the battering they took the previous day and I pushed on towards the delights of an early morning in Christchurch. I pedalled over two lovely bridges to the east of the town which provided a glorious introduction. The experience was only enhanced as I encountered the haunting image of the Castle ruins, ably assisted by the sun continuing to rise so vibrantly. I opted to pedal into the grounds of the adjoining park with its mood setting tree cover and finally arrived on the Quay. The silence was stunning and I happily sat
Above: Seafront, Ventnor Below: Seafront, Sandown
immersing myself in the watery surrounds. The aroma of the sea and the soothing sound from the abundance of bird life was so relaxing. I briefly paused in the grounds of the Priory before accosting a local for advice on the best route to Bournemouth, obviously avoiding the busy A35. She pointed me towards the sea before mentioning a steep climb near Southbourne; oh joy! She did try to reassure me that it would not be of concern for a “fit looking chap like me”. Those were her actual words and I was grateful for her belief in my abilities and stature whilst hoping her trust would not be misguided. Thankfully the incline created minimal exertion and associated panting and eventually I had arrived in Southbourne which offered my first real views of the sea and the promenade. I initially followed the Overcliff road at a good pace, my legs were working well and I was enthused by the views of the water. I decided to descend down to the beach at Boscombe. The surfers man made reef was closed and the promenade was deserted apart from the occasional jogger or fellow cyclist. The wind had picked up slightly but was not a concern and after an uneventful ten minutes I was sat in the comfortable surrounds of my usual fast food chain supping coffee and devouring pancakes. My only company were a group of slightly unwashed down and outs relishing in the comfortable and importantly warm surroundings. What a wonderful life I lead I thought; if only they could experience it. Bournemouth is a contrast of completely different lifestyles, it’s sits comfortably on the fence between the traditional delights of candy floss, ice creams, arcades, bingo, buckets and spades, old folk and families
Day Three - Hordle to Weymouth I had a rather impromptu start to the day, mainly due to my premature night. I awoke disturbingly early but from the tiny gap in the blind I was enthused by the weather, eventually the summer had arrived; but would it last?
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and the urban vibrant lifestyle of the modern high earners with the associated high end properties and their inflated prices, but its heyday was definitely in the Victorian era. Nowadays, on most weekends, the town is overrun with stag and hen parties and the associated drunken pandemonium, but I was pleased to read that a survey in 2007 revealed the town had the happiest residents in the UK. I had read that Mary Shelley, the author of the gothic horror Frankenstein was buried in the centre of town, in the graveyard of St Peters Church. I was intrigued so after my coffee stop I rode off in search of her tomb, unfortunately I got horribly lost and eventually succumbed to my incompetence at sufficiently researching the facts before setting off on these fruitless tasks. Rant over I headed back towards the seafront.
Above: Entering Poole Bottom Left: Lower Gardens. Bournemouth Bottom Right: From the Sandbanks Ferry
I freewheeled through the Lower Gardens and its beautiful floral displays, which lead up to the bustling shopping area and, as I passed Bournemouth Pier, en-route to Poole, I glimpsed a slightly manic looking lady walking her dog. She rather bizarrely shouted something in my general direction before tossing down her jacket directly in my path. I swerved and responded with an observational comment similar to ‘What the Hell, you crazy lady.’ The wind had picked up quite significantly as I rode along West Undercliff Promenade. It appeared happy to push me back towards the pier. My progress was slow but I wasn’t going to be disheartened. I stopped briefly for a respite from the incessant pounding by the entrance to Alum Chine and it’s strategically placed pastel coloured beach huts. Eventually I reached the shelter of Poole
Harbour, the sea was out. The harbour is usually a magnet for wind surfers but they do need water, so the area was deserted apart from the occasional jogger or dog walker. I pedalled off in the direction of the Sandbanks Ferry which would be my transport to the joys of the Isle of Purbeck and the Jurassic Coast. The Dorset coastline is one of the best preserved in the country and I hoped it would provide me with a breathtaking glimpse into 185 million years of geological history. The 95 mile stretch is so important that it’s classed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Jurassic Coast officially begins at Old Harry’s Rock in Dorset and continues to Orcombe Point in East Devon. …… And in the next episode we will see if our hero suffers further attack from jacket-toting dog-walkers …. amongst other adventures.
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Letters Dear CW
Perhaps, I should change tack and publish letters as soon as they arrive in order to encourage others. SD)
Too cold for Lycra? May I make use of the letters page to apologise for an error that occurred in my March column under the Informalistas banner? The opening paragraph must have been left over on my computer from something I wrote in January featuring a short break in Wales, so if you thought you had read it before, well - you had. The March piece should have started with “I’m So, the sun’s out, but the weather is still very not sure whether.” Sorry. cold, with the Mountains North of us getting Having said that, I have just been to white; but that’s why we live here it doesn’t Dolgellau again, hoping to cash in on the same snow very often 3 times in 12 winters isn’t too kind of weather we enjoyed last year, but it was bad! not to be. Cold and snow we had aplenty and The photograph with this letter was taken on the drive home was dodgy in the extreme, with our annual pilgrimage to La Torche (about 40 all the roads back to Shrewsbury blocked, but kms) to see the hyacinth fields and this year’s by listening to local radio I heard of a short construction by the Dutch people who run break in the conditions which gave me the them. This year a Chateau from Le Loire region, chance to get back to base via Llangollen. all done in hyacinth flowers, very like the photo While I was away, I read another article in of the Chateau. Plus there are fields of these the papers about British Cycling. It further flowers alongside the road with a fantastic develops the image which you can read about aroma. in an earlier edition of CW. Headed “An Dave Cully, by email Ambitious Plan to Get a Million More Women Dear CW Cycling by 2020”, aims to get more women “Easy Riders” participating “in cycle sport or recreational I picked up a copy of ‘Cycling World’ in W.H. cycling, such as cycling to work or mass Smiths in Worcester. What caught my eye participation events.” about Cycling World was that the magazine is Becky James, one of our top riders, is non-racing and has none of that awful clothing reported as saying, “I think it has a lot to do seen is the rest of the cycling magazines. I with the kit and how women look on the bike am a ‘easy rider’ and dawdle along stopping and not wanting to put Lycra on – but it does to lean on farm gates but still do 50 or 60 not have to be like that. You do not have to miles. I thought the content of the magazine be like us at the elite level. You have to start is GREAT! I have dumped my touring cycle somewhere and just do it for fun. If we can and have a new Dahon 8 speed folding bike realise this ambition it will go a long way to for bus and train use. Please keep the present refreshing cycling’s image so it is not seen as a formula otherwise the magazine will be another sport only for men in Lycra.” cycling magazine. Why no ‘Letter’ page in the I think Becky is saying that the Lycra image magazine? It would be nice to read about other is putting women off – stopping them from ‘Easy Riders’!. getting on bikes in the first place. Why women only is not discussed. It is refreshing to Bill Reynolds, by email see that BC now see recreational cycling as permissible, although they confuse the (It would be great to issue somewhat when they talk about have a regular letters CAMPI8,NG mass participation events and those “men page where cyclists CYCLE IRE 192 IN , IN CHESH R DAYS N IN YOUNGE BROMPTO in Lycra.” Perhaps the organisation is tell each other about AND ON A themselves, their bike and slowly getting the message that riding C2C AND a bike doesn’t mean going at it like a their rides, discoveries ROUGH SMOOTH bat out of hell wearing tight clothing, and favourite cafes. The but they, apparently, still see men as problem is, at present, that there are not enough gladiators rather than the relaxed, casual beings that some of us prefer to letters to run a regular page, so I tend to wait until G IN CL IES be. Their thinking has improved, but CITY CY INESE CIT THREE CH there is a page full – unless only just. a letter is time sensitive. Paul Wagner
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Letter from Brittany For many a long year, I raced, but also when possible toured, your comments about long distance Audax events, made think why I started riding them, it was so I could see lots of countryside at my own pace and not have “Head Down & A... Up”! Before moving to France in 2001, we rode Paris-Brest-Paris in 1999 and, in 2000, we came over 14 times to tour or ride Randonnées. Now due a bit to age and the “Quackl” saying don’t rush about, I trundle about with a camera, see below. I have included a small write-up which I sent to the West Vet Mag, to show Brittany is not flat. “Sunday 10th March saw the 1st randonnée of the season organised by our new Club Cyclo Ranndonneurs Quimper Cornouaille, over 200 took part over 3 distances, 100, 50, 30 kms. We arrived for the 30, and Diane (my wife) said “Oh! I haven’t got my “Casque” (helmet)”, so disappeared off home for it. So I started with three lovely ladies and eight youngsters (from 10 to 14 years old) from the Club, for the 30 kms. I got dropped on first hill; they waited at the top. Then on every hill I sort of hung on to a young lads wheel, he was riding a small mountain bike, until the feed at 12 Kms. The route then turned right at a sign Menez N.... (now Menez in Breton means mountain) - so bad news. It was 1 in 5 or 6, decidedly steep, so “à pied” with most of the group, but being somewhat younger they had to wait at the top. Then a good descent followed by a hardish climb only just off the back; an exciting steep descent and upwards for about 1 1/2 kms. It was about 15%, my calf muscles were screaming so the others had plenty of time to recuperate, waiting for the “Poor Old Sod”. It was then a nice ride, wind on the dos (back), along a plateau with a super descent down to the river valley and then a gentle climb into Quimper, BUT, to get back to the HQ, you had to climb a gentle hill! In “Granny ring” (26) & 25 rear, I went rapidly off the Back again! They waited and we all cruised into the HQ. About 20 minutes later a feverish and exhausted “Directrice” staggered in muttering that she had walked many hills and needed rest. So into the voiture, home and to bed for her, I just sank into the chair in the veranda. Due to fatigue I was allowed (perhaps ordered) to cook the evening repas, which I was informed was steak. So, for entrée, goats cheese wrapped in bacon on brown bread (done in the oven). Plate de Jour Steak with tomatoes covered in bread crumbs (baked in oven) and sauté Pomme de Terre’s, and for Desert Tart Tatine des poires (upside down pear tart with lots of runny caramelised sugar). I get my “Cub’s cooking badge next week.”
PROXY • CYCLING BY TIC TO PENMON IDIOSYNCRA A FAMILY RIDEOUGH THE TREES •WITH JOHN TRAYNOR LIGHT CHASING THR TRAVELLING CAMPING •
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GOING FOR PEMBROKESHIRE Richard Griffiths chatted to riders and had a grand day out and about … as did, it seems, everyone else …
he 2013 Tour of Pembrokeshire was a sell out with 1100 riders making the most of beautiful blue skies and a good character building Welsh breeze amongst the hills and coastal villages of North Pembrokeshire. During the days prior to the event, the county’s roads were teeming with cyclists and there was a steady stream of cars carrying all manner of exotic two wheeled transport, the mood was one of anticipation and excitement: the 2013 Tour of Pembrokeshire had arrived. The event had been a year in the making and the attention to detail was evident as riders arrived in St David’s and passed smoothly through registration at the Grove Hotel on Friday the 26th of April - in preparation for the event next day. On Saturday morning the 100 mile riders left Oriel y Parc at 07:00hrs, marshals, stewards and volunteers helped them
through timing stage one and out onto the course with the minimum of fuss. At 08:00hrs, the 75 mile riders started and, finally, they were followed by the 50 mile participants, who left between 09:00hrs and 10:00hrs. During this time the sun began to beat back some early clouds and the weather set fair for a classic day’s cycling. Dewi Jaimangal-Jones, a seventy-five miler, said, “ Really well organised and a great atmosphere throughout the event. Starting the different distances off within specific time periods worked well, so lots of people doing the same distance riding together. All the helpers on the event were fantastic.” Andy Elias, another sventy-fiver, was equally enthusiastic, enthusing about the “Fantastic course, very challenging but very well organised with friendly and helpful marshalls.” These two were far from alone – whatever
38 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
PEMBROKESHIRE | CYCLE TOUR
the distance. And this was an event to relive in more than the memory. Out on the route there were professional photographers to capture the day with rider photographs available via the Tour’s website. In addition to this a film was being made by promotional videographers hotandfresh. co.uk, following riders around the course and charting the ups and downs of their day. By the time everyone was out on the course the sun had really begun to shine and the riders’ thoughts soon began to turn to food. Having a good feed-station to aim for can really help a rider get the most out of their legs and the five Tour of Pembrokeshire feed-stations really seemed to hit the spot. As riders paused for their essential sustenance, stories were swapped and friendships forged; sunshine, good food and great company did wonders for the spirits on what was at times a gruelling course. Each feed-station had its own character and riders often found it hard to leave, especially in the sun trap at Pontfaen in the Gwaun Valley, followed as it was, by one of the most testing climbs on the course. The food provided ranged from good Pembrokeshire produce, mostly home-made, such as; ham wraps, beef faggots, boiled potatoes, dhal pasties and Welsh cakes, to the more usual mainstays of bananas, Soreen loaf and Torq bars. Riding the hundred mile route, Rob Evans picked out the ride as “A tough challenge,” but remarked that, “Pembrokeshire looking stunning. Good feed stations. We especially appreciated the Welsh cakes!” More unusual than Welsh
Cakes amongst the culinary delights of the sportive table were “boiled tatties.” Andy Pilau, said, “I have coeliacs disease, so the boiled tatties were a saviour!” The atmosphere on the quiet roads was really upbeat with locals and supporters along the route cheering and encouraging the cyclists, whilst other road users were patient and courteous. Riders of all three routes were treated to some truly stunning views, punishing climbs and wonderful sweeping descents. On the 50 mile route, the daunting ascent from the Gwaun Valley floor to over 900 feet above sea level caused some trepidation amongst riders. Whilst on the 75 and 100 mile routes there was the challenging 25% climb out of Llanychaer and, of course, the long sapping climb up to the highest point on the Tour of Pembrokeshire, Bwlch y Gwynt, at 1317 feet above sea level. In the end all routes led back to St David’s and the welcome sight of Ramsey Island in the distance and then the splendour of St David’s Cathedral. A short ride through Britain’s smallest city brought the riders to the finish line at The Grove Hotel where riders received a rapturous reception. The atmosphere in the finish area was magical as riders met up with their families and friends and relaxed on the
lawns at the hotel and Oriel y Parc letting the afternoon sun soothe aching limbs. Along with their course times riders were given a commemorative locally made wooden coaster and a much appreciated hot bowl of traditional Welsh Cawl, served with bread and cheese, at Oriel y Parc café The event, which brought over 3000 visitors to St David’s was completely embraced by the locals. Pete Rowell, proprietor of Bryn Awel Bed & Breakfast felt that, “The Tour of Pembrokeshire Cyclo-Sportive was a resounding success for us. As a cyclist friendly accommodation provider and for the City as a whole it attracts lots of visitors to the area to take part, spectate and support the event and gives us the chance to showcase the peninsular. It was great to see so many people enjoying the sunshine. We were very pleased to support the Tour and accommodate cyclists who were taking part, all of whom have already said that they’ll be back.” “I rode with my wife this year, her first Sportive and she loved the run in to the finish through St David’s (other than the fact is was uphill!), said Jeff Partridge, adding that the whole experience was simply “brilliant!”
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Sunday 15 September
SepT 14 TO 29
Saturday 28 September
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PUNCTURES | products & technical
A CompRehensive guiDe to punCtuRes, RepAiR … AnD AvoiDing them Michael Stenning goes back to basics …
espite considerable advances in tyre and tube technologies, the common or garden puncture remains alive and frustratingly well. Ideally the dreaded hiss would be a thing of folklore, or kind enough to wait until you’d reached the comfort of home but in reality, Murphy’s Law dictates it will strike during Monday morning’s rush hour scramble, or hauling full touring ensemble through a remote corner of Uzbekistan. That aside and regardless of context, at bare minimum you’ll need a patch kit, two resin tyre levers, decent hand pump (or Co2 inflators) and a 15mm wrench should your steed feature bolted axles. Carrying a spare tube prevents wasted time (not to mention catching chill on a freezing February morning) especially should the puncture prove irreparable. Tweezers, superglue and commercial/home brewed tyre boots make for swift extraction of sharps and running repair of damaged rubber. Before I wax lyrical about the pros and cons of various tyre casings, pumps, gauges and other relevant gadgets, lets get you back on the road…
This allows the wheel to pass cleanly from the dropouts without fouling pads. Many newbies go giddy at the proposition of tackling a rear wheel for fear of it being an oily, complicated ordeal but taking a calm approach it’s all over and relatively grime free in a matter of minutes - so long as the transmission’s relatively hygienic. On a derailleur-geared bike, engage top gear (big ring on the front, smallest rear sprocket.
loCAting the punCtuRe Most punctures are the result of sharps burrowing into the casing over the course of one or several rides, rather than massive, unexplained blowouts (although these can also strike without warning or preventable measures). Starting at the valve, progress methodically around the tyre tread, inspecting for embedded grit, glass, thorns
Removing the Wheel Find a clearing, alley or similar safe haven to commence surgery. Start by disengaging the brake’s quick release mechanism, typically a button depressed at the lever or tab/straddle wire integral to the mechanism. Release the brake … and don’t forget to put it back afterwards
Biggest ring smallest sprocket
Avoid turning the bike upside-down since this will compress cables, scratch shifters, computers, lights and other accessories needlessly. Open the quick release or undo the track nuts and with one hand gently holding the derailleur back, pull the wheel free. Hub gears can fox old hands but Sturmey Archer and Shimano’s popular Nexus work to broadly the same principles. Select top gear to induce maximum cable slack before carefully disconnecting cable rod and chain. Now you can remove the wheels as described above, taking mental note of their tension. Be mindful of any small washers, guarding them with your life! Top tip: If you’ve a camera/phone take pictures of how things disassemble in case you forget during refitting.
etc and purging any on sight, even if they’re not the culprit(s) on this occasion, they’ll almost certainly give grief later on.
Hub gears – no worry
42 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
PUNCTURES | products & technical Blow-out
tuBe RemovAl & leAk loCAtion Depress the valve core to expel any remaining air. Unscrew the little brass retaining-ring (if fitted) and engage the first tyre lever a few centimetres opposite the valve stem and its companion some five or ten centimetres further along. Depress the first, lifting the bead proud of the rim before deploying the second in a sweeping clockwise motion to dislodge the remainder. With this side completely free, carefully extract the tube in its entirety, plug on the pump head and inflate gently, listening for escaping air. Sometimes cuts are obvious and tears can crop up around the stem, especially on willowy Presta types designed for deep section road wheels. Passing the tube’s surface over your lips is often the fastest route but failing this, it’s a case of immersing in a stream or trickling some water from your bottle over until bubbling denotes the spot. A short celebratory whoop is permitted now but keep your thumb on that hole while detaching the pump head with a swift, confidant tug (never twist) to avoid risking further damage. If bubbling or tears are emanating from the valve, then the tube is essentially bin fodder - the same goes for blowouts/large gashes.
eFFeCting RepAiR OK, assuming the last scenario doesn’t apply, its time to roughen the affected area using emery paper or dedicated aluminium “scuffer”. Apply a small drop of vulcanising solution, smearing around the holes’ immediate vicinity, leaving it to cure from gloss to matt. Now introduce a patch of similar proportions, smoothing it down between your fingers for thirty seconds or so, longer in really chill conditions to ensure good adhesion. Run your fingers around the tyre’s inner casing, checking for any sharps, inspect the rim tape for any protruding spoke heads, splits or similar clues, too. Alternatively, cotton wool swiped around the inside of the tyre casing will identify sharp points and may be desirable to pricking one’s finger on some sharps to be found lying around.
Remounting tyRe AnD tuBe Assuming everything’s sorted, slip one tyre bead aboard the rim, observing directional arrows and similar specifics as appropriate. Add a few strokes of air inside the tube, greatly reducing the likelihood of it getting pinched, making refitting easier into the bargain. Ease the valve gently through the drilling and scoop the tube carefully inside the tyre and refit the other bead. This stage shouldn’t require tyre levers, at least until the final section. Push the valve stem upwards and work round the tyre sidewalls using your fingers to confirm correct and even seating. Squeezing the tyre into the centre of the rim and pushing around the tyre with thumb and fore-finger may allow you to squeeze the tyre over the rim without using a tyre lever. Pull the valve through again and inflate proper. Most standard hand and mini pumps will manage around 60psi into a 700x25/28, 45 in a 26x1.75, which is better than nothing but very much limp home territory nonetheless and inadequate for most road/touring rubber needing between 85 and 130psi-nearer 160psi if running tubular tyres. Therefore, I advocate high
are the way forward and needn’t break the bank. Minor, short-term under inflation might offer increased traction in icy/ slippery conditions but care is needed since significantly reduced pressures can easily lead to rim and tyre damage.
tuBeless These have become increasingly mainstream within mountain biking circles for very good reason since they allow phenomenally low pressures without succumbing to pinch flat/”snake bite” wounds. Repair is relatively straightforward but requires a dedicated patch kit and greater care to avoid compromising the system, which is only viable when completely air tight. Having removed the wheel, pinch the sidewalls together and pull towards the rims’ centre- this will release the bead whereupon nimble fingers can pluck it free (avoid tyre levers since even the most gentle types can compromise the airtight seal). Examine the casing internally for sharps, purge as necessary before roughening, gluing and patching as before.
Once the standard Midi and mini pumps by which all serious road tyres were judged, tubulars are much lighter, offering an intoxicating blend of speed and agility. However, roadside punctures are an absolute nightmare since they’re stitched together, then glued quality frame fit models such to the rim. Removal is fairly straightforward as This SKS Wese XL is capable of pressures assuming the adhesive hasn’t weathered but exceeding 115psi in most contexts. On day rides/training runs I go for one of will otherwise require deployment of strong solvent. the midi designs, capable of similar output Assuming the tubular specific repair kit and easily slipped away in a rack bag. and pump aren’t snoozing in the spares Integral gauges seem appealing but have drawer, getting back on the road passing affinity with reality. Standalone needn’t be as traumatic as it sounds. models such as these (Revolution & SKS) Basic repair kit
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PUNCTURES | products & technical
Peg your patch
• Treads can harbour sharps-remove these using tweezers and fill cuts with superglue Get the chain tension correct
Engage the pump, delivering a few strokes to see if you can identify the injured section-otherwise it’s a question of playing hide and seek with it fully removed. Either way, grip the tyre with both hands, breaking the seal by rolling it back and forth. Hopefully it relents; remove the base tape, which usually adheres to the rim courtesy of tenacious latex glue, revealing the stitching. This will need cutting using a sharp blade, allowing access and moreover surgery to the wounded tube. This next stage is broadly similar to conventional wired on designs i.e. roughen, glue. Patch but ad some talc to prevent inner and outer sections sticking. Re stitch the casing following the existing holes (dental floss works extremely well in a pinch) tethering it closed as if sewing buttons. With a little luck, it will now remount and stay put long enough to see you home again. Permanent repair means stripping, cleaning and refitting with fresh rim cement. Phew… Knew there was a reason why I left tubs behind in 1988!
tread. Incorporate this into weekly pre-ride routine. • Keep tyres correctly inflated Manufacturers usually engineer some tolerance to rider error/gauge inaccuracy but wheezing along with 30psi inside a hoop designed for 105 or walloping 90 into those intended for 65 is asking for trouble. Most inner tubes are made from various grades of butyl but some racers use Latex, which are ultra light and remarkably strong. Butyl should be checked and topped up weekly, Latex lose pressure frighteningly fast, requiring daily inflation and is easily confused with puncture(s). • Cracks, grazing or bulges in tyre sidewalls are signs of imminent and potentially catastrophic failure. Similarly kinked, leaky/sticky valves are another ticking time bomb-replace immediately.
• Take this opportunity to check supplies/ condition of patches, glue, pumps, tubes and other essentials. Replenish as appropriate.
tyRe FiRst AiD…the Joy oF Bespoke pAtCh kits Spare tube(s) and decent means of inflation should never be overlooked. Most seasoned riders deploy the spare as default for several reasons. First and foremost convenience-why sit around in the freezing cold, when you can simply slip in a fresh one, repairing the original from the comfort of home, or while nursing hot coffee and carrot cake at a nice café’? Therefore, my standard kit consists of: High-pressure pump, CO2 inflator, two cartridges, spare tubes, tyre boots, and single extra long tyre lever. On longer rides, I add some electrical tape, plastic clothes pegs and wipes for cleansing my hands.
Michael’s ususal ensemble
ReFitting Wheels Puncture demon successfully exorcised, it’s a question of reintroducing the wheels, observing correct order of washers and similarly small but often significant components. Snug the quick release or track nuts snug, checking the rim is aligned centrally within the frame/forks, correcting chain tension with fixed/singlespeed transmissions. Reconnect brakes and confirm everything’s shifting and stopping properly before scooting off again.
Weekly Routine In an ideal world, we’d simply glide round every thorn, shard of glass and pothole. Alas, this isn’t always possible. Should situations dictate riding through something invasive, stop at your earliest convenience and use your hand to brush them from the
44 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
PUNCTURES | products & technical WeekenD/touRing As before but with spare (folding) tyre, rim tape, Presta to Schrader converter (allowing the use of garage airlines in emergency), traditional glued, as distinct from glue-less patches simply because they’re where my faith lies and of course, a good quality torch always comes in handy. Sometimes, really nasty gashes or full on blowouts relegate the original to chainstay or top tube protector service with significant damage inflicted upon the tyre. Pension off any resembling pin cushions - two, possibly three patches are the limit before integrity’s compromised. Emergency tyre boots are common fare in deluxe patch kits but easily made by cannibalising old favourites. Don’t overlook tagalongs/trailer specific spares either. Case study: puncture plague
The worst outbreak of punctures I’ve ever experienced in the course of a single ride was six flats within the space of a mile consumed three spare tubes and retired a set of premium quality folding expedition tyres…. On another occasion, a rim’s unexpected, gradual failure around the weld induced successive, irreparable flats. Tubes and patch kit more or less depleted, I had the option of stuffing it full of grass and riding home but since the rim was basically scrap, carried on regardless!
top Buys & options FoR the punCtuRe pRone Floor pump
Every home/workshop should have a track pump. These ensure relatively effortless and accurate inflation to around 160psi and cheap but cheerfuls start at under £20 three bog standard inner tubes. Recouping their investment countless times over since correctly inflated hoops are more efficient, less puncture prone and kinder to rims, spokes and hub components too.
on tiny nicks. However, in my experience, this tends to go off and really vicious sharps can blow the tube to smithereens, leaving a really, really sticky mess! Slime
puncture Resistant tyres
These have been around for at least twentyfive years but it’s worth remembering not all are created equal. Aramid casings are amongst the toughest but there’s some trade off in terms of rolling resistance but academic where reliability is paramount. Nylon belts clip along quicker, so a better option for pared to the essentials road and audax bikes. Prices start from £20 each and I’ve had particularly favourable results using Specialized, Continental, Schwalbe, Panaracer, WTB and Geax. inner tubes
Latex are considerably stronger than butyl but this is reflected in the price and thinner materials mean they loose pressure very quickly, which is somewhat inconvenient for touring, commuting and utility contexts. Those filled with goo that races to fill small holes, as they appear sound perfect on paper and to their credit work very well
Thorn resistant types work by employing ultra thick butyl and are remarkably reliable but induce a fair bit of rolling resistance and are only available in wider 700c/26inch sections. Removing the core from Schrader valves permits aftermarket sealant products to be added, should you wish. preventative tapes
As old as the hills, these basically line the tyre casing, theoretically presenting a further barrier against debris. However, if tyre pressures aren’t correctly maintained they can slip, causing precisely the problems they were supposed to alleviate. emergency tyre Welds
These work by forcing a mixture of sealant and compressed air inside the tube, temporarily fixing the puncture for a few hours-the idea being to replace the tube having reached home. Prowess is limited to around 60psi, less with mtb rubber and £10 doesn’t sound particularly good value until its balanced against a parking fine, or childminder’s late fee. solid tyres
Floor or track pump
Another concept that won’t die is the solid tyre. To the uninitiated this sounds like Nirvana - punctures consigned to the vaults of history. All too often these demand the strength and agility of an Olympic gymnast to persuade aboard the rims and reward with a harsh, punishing ride that kills components and user enthusiasm with frightening haste.
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products & technical
spA CyCles DeRWent sADDleBAg Spa Cycles Derwent saddlebag stirs mixed emotions in me. Aesthetically it’s the perfect finishing touch to a period classic (or reproduction) but from a practical perspective, bijoux dimensions mean we’re talking day ride/fashion accessory rather than serious touring companion. Prised from its presentation sack, first impressions are of impeccable refinement. However, closer inspection suggests a utilitarian hide, which is staggeringly at odds with the Harrogate shops’ range of saddles. On a pragmatic level, this isn’t glaringly obvious, should last many years with basic care and will cultivate an authentically antique patina into the bargain. Straps needed generous helpings of dressing before they’d weave compliantly through saddle loops and buckles. Then again, opportunist tealeaves will hunt easier prey while you’re enjoying a well-earned cuppa or answering nature’s call. Peering inside reveals a single 163x 65x 70 mm compartment with faux suede lining that offers some welcome soundproofing. Best endeavours crammed in a spare tube, multi tool, tyre levers, patch kit, AAA batteries and CO2 inflator by which point, it couldn’t take a message, let alone mini pump! Uniform stitching and decent overlap are definite plusses, while a satin centre plaque completes the vintage feel - an LED tab might have
sChWAlBe WinteR stuDDeD tyRes Not snow tyres in the strictest sense, Schwalbe winter are designed to cope with pretty much everything the darker months hurl our way. Tipping the scales at 998g apiece, 50epi (ends per inch) Kevlar belted casings and operating pressures between 2 and 5 bar (70psi) denotes extremely rugged rubber. I was surprised to learn these are in fact budget versions of the Marathon Spike, which has 50% more of the tungsten carbide studs. A heavy chevron tread pattern is designed to scoop the powdery top layer of snow aside, whereupon the studs bite deep into the ice beneath, delivering traction. Schwalbe recommend running them in on metalled roads for forty kilometres (24.85 miles) maintaining a steady cadence and avoiding harsh braking wherever possible. This establishes the studs so they won’t breakaway upon first contact with ice, although replacements are readily available. Over asphalt, their gravelly overture and notable heft are very apparent and some very minor squirm was detectable when cornering but this soon settles and nothing in comparison with a traditional mountain bike knobbly.
some practical merit but isn’t essential, since the hide provides an excellent anchor-point for blinkeys. Nipped tight, the little bag does exactly what it says on the tin devoid of annoying sway with minimal toolkit jingle over inclement surfaces. Sheltered beneath the saddle, everything’s remained bone dry despite some very soggy outings so tools shouldn’t succumb to the dreaded orange taint and treats should remain tasty come rain or shine. Michael Stenning Verdict: Fetching and affordable finishing touch for period classics but hardly a touring staple. www.spacycles.co.uk
Most tyres of this genre boast 2.2 or 42mm profiles, which is arguably better for very deep snowfall common to Scandinavia or North America, but precludes mudguards. Comparatively slender 1.75 and 30mm sections mean they’re a very reciprocal mix with touring, cross and rigid mountain bikes dressed in full-length chrome plastics. Our first outing in the snow was truly liberating, although obviously, it’s important to maintain a smooth, steady riding style devoid of sudden movements. The Univega has literally handled as if it were on rails, sleepy rural backwaters easily negotiated at speeds between 12 and 15 mph, to about 17 through busier provinces. Traditionally, sudden acceleration, say when entering the flow of traffic at roundabouts/ junctions can induce pregnant pauses before tractions’ resumed - this remains the case, although much less pronounced than some models I’ve used. Slushier spells unleashed my provocative side, over-inflating slightly and bringing a trailer loaded supermarket goodies to see if they’d dance the samba when pushed to 25mph on 1 in 4 descents – Tubby the Tourer held its line impeccably while I just sat demob happy. Boggy woodland cut-throughs suggest they’re pretty capable off road, although a 1.9 cross-country knobbly rolls notably faster. Strong casings with reflective
sidewalls hold their own through concrete jungle too, so while Aramid remains the standard by which durability is measured, you’d be seriously unlucky to succumb to a puncture, let alone structural failure. Michael Stenning Verdict: Pricey but nonetheless superb tyres for those determined to ride safely through the worst weathers. www.schwalbe.co.uk
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products & technical
puRe Bike WAsh 1 litRe £7.99 Pure is Weldtite’s range of ecologically friendly bike goodies including protector, degreaser, wet and dry lubes and a grease-all free of petroleum based solvents and similar nasties. Judging by my gleaming fleet, their bike wash should give many household names a run for your money. Precise ingredients are something of a trade secret a’la Coca Cola but I’m assured they’re kind to delicate finishes and Mother Nature. However, it’s not recommended for helmets/visors since common chemicals too easily compromise their structural integrity and for these reasons, I’d be inclined to avoid regular contact with leather saddles/accessories too. For the uninitiated, bike washes work to the same principle as the pre-wash setting on modern washing machines, softening ingrained gloop ready for the sponge or soft brush dipped in clean, tepid water. With these close by, flick the nozzle to spray and squirt liberally over filthy steed(s) from a distance of thirty centimetres, working top to bottom and allowing gravity to play its part. Leave fizzing away quietly for thirty seconds and rinse clean, repeating as necessary. Stockier than some yet without exception, rear triangle and bottom bracket regions required two and sometimes three blasts at close range to have the desired effect upon sophisticated wet or ceramic lubes. However, exchanging the bottle’s trigger for one with a high-pressure stream setting reaped considerable improvement, suggesting this and not the solution would benefit from tweaking. Deliberately exceeding waiting times on various painted, plated and anodised surfaces revealed a pronounced lack of streaking/similar residual blemishes compared with established competitors - only one derived from concentrated citrus fruits trumped it. Continuous use on five machines of varying genre suggests a litre should last a typical rider with three bikes around three months, more used intelligently. 200ml refills that, diluted with water make one litre cost £5.99, so cultivating a neater, faster acting mix is possible, although proceed more cautiously around seals and similar rubberised components. Michael Stenning Verdict: Fast acting and economical bike wash capable of giving established brands a good run for your money. www.weldtite.co.uk
seAl skinZ thin WAteRpRooF soCks £27.95 These are the thinnest and arguably most suitable for cycling in Seal Skinz’s mid-length range, lending themselves beautifully to other outdoor applications too, which may swing the balance for those needing to justify the asking price. Having used various incarnations of their socks in the past, I was surprised by the comparatively supple, organic feel, which I can only attribute to thinner density. Fully waterproof to the cuffs, we have a sophisticated sandwich system consisting of an impermeable nylon/ elastane outer wall, a second waterproof, and breathable membrane with tactile merino wool wicking sweat and moisture from the skin. This conspires to keep feet cool, hygienic and blister free. Fit is sensibly snug, large gracing my size nine’s beautifully, comfort enhanced by supportive elasticated instep and Achilles’ sections. These have a thermal rating of two, very much the mid range, which should suit most seasons, save for mid summer. That said; this is also dependant upon wearer circulation/sensitivity. March can be a very tricky month climate-wise but they’ve proved themselves handsomely in most situations. I started by pairing ours with my mountain bike booties and headed out for a four hour mixed terrain saunter. Despite tumbling temperatures, my feet remained extremely comfortable, although given the average foot sweats half a pint per day, fibres have to work very hard and I was conscious of faint clamminess before wicking commenced. Stopping for a breather at the beach proved the ideal opportunity for a quick dip in the North Sea. Booties removed, I stood in the freezing waters, largely oblivious as the waves lapped at my calves. This proved a slightly surreal, curious sensation but by no means unpleasant. External fibres dry expediently, too, so soggy insoles or mucky footprints shouldn’t be an unwelcome feature of the kitchen lino. Subsequent outings in race slippers have been equally satisfying, torrential rain entering their extensive mesh panelling, yet my feet completely dry without the encumbrance of overshoes. However, faux leather and similar synthetic uppers had a more pronounced effect upon their breathability, feet notably clammier over similar distances at comparable pace. Michael Stenning Verdict: Great socks with obvious appeal for training, touring and mountain biking but work best with natural uppers. Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large www.sealskinz.com
www.cyclingworldmag.com | Cycling World 47
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020 8763 1991 www.bikeplus.co.uk 100s of brands, 1000s of products
A faster, More Secure and Enjoyable way to shop. Please note, although it is coming soon, the CTC discount function is still not up and running. Also as our site is being updated on a daily basis, remember to press Ctrl + F5 on your keyboard GP1 grip
Maximum comfort and best possible pressure distribution in a grip designed for all types of riding with a flat/riser bar. Turn the grip to get the correct support platform position. Allen Key Lock-on fitment. Approx 202g. Small-Medium: GP1-S Medium-Large: GP1-L
ERGON GP2 grip (was GC2) Multi-position grips with integrated cold forged aluminium bar ends. The shape of the grip is the same as the GP1. The bar end and support platform can be independently adjusted to suit riding position and style. Allen Key Lock-on fitment. Small-Medium: GP2-S Medium-Large: GP2-L
GP5 grip (was GC3)
Developed for touring riders looing for full length, integrated bar ends to complement and ergonomic grip design. The shape of the grip is the same as the GP1. Includes a new high precision alu clamping system. The barend and support can be independantly adjusted to suit riding position and style. Allen Key Lock-on fitment. Small-Medium: GP5-S Medium-Large: GP5-L
Pro Gel Night Vision Shorts Progel stretch multi density insert. High visibilty reflective trim. Leg grippers. Fluro Panels.
£35.99 Spring Special £27.99
The best 1 size fits all helmet. A firm favourite. well ventilated & easily adjusted. Bike Plus recommended! 5 Colours. 1 size.
Minoura SGS-400 Bar extension
If you need extra space for lights, computers other bar mounted equipment, the new space grips are stronger & sleeker than ever. available in two bar clamp sizes: 22-29mm 28-35mm
NEW,, INTRODUCTORY OFFER PANARACER NEW Brand new product from the well trusted brand Panaracer. Designed to rival all other touring and commute tyres out there. The super thick tread and coloured inner layer of the TourGuard Plus combines the best in puncture protection and great riding performance. Give them a try! 26 x 1.5, 26 x 1.75 700 x 28, 32 & 35
Tour Guard Plus
For a limited time only SCHWALBE
Durano Plus Wired
With the same puntcture resistant system as the Marathon Plus, but in a light, smooth tread, this tyre is excellent for fast paced touring and commuting. Sizes available: 700 x 23/25
Race Lite Hardcase Exceptionally fast and grippy tire with an outstanding ‘Hard Case’ puncture protection system.
One size fits all.
BBB Hardwear Overshoe
NeoSkin waterproof layer on top of 3 mm neoprene offers the best protection against the cold & rain. Glued seams, 100% leak proof. Kevlar reinforcement between sole & reflective YKK® zipper. Shoe cover bottom reinforced with two-piece kevlar material. Velcro reflective strap for a secure fit, enhances night safety. Sizes: 37 - 48
3 for £12!
BEST SELLING PUNCTURE RESISTANT TYRE. Reflective sidewall. sizes: 16x1-3/8, 26x1.5,1.75 700x25,28,32,35.
Limited time offer: 27 x 1-1/4 tyre:
Some would say there is no better lever. One side slots on to the rim, the other hooks under tyre bead, then simply grip and lift bead over the rim. Small enough to go in a jersey pocket. RRP: £9.99
SCHWALBE Marathon Kevlar SCHWALBE
D th Po to w a C sy R
All sizes available including long valve options, just specify your tyre size and we’ll work out the best tube for you. RRP: £5.99 each. MIX & MATCH SIZES!!
Eight Panel Design Rapid Moisture Transport Seamless Anti-Bacterial Insert Leg Grippers Elastic Waist High Back Machine Washable Small (28” - 30” waist) Medium (30“ - 32”)
A sm re a w m ra 2
Coolmax Bib shorts
2 for £45! £14.99
Jack Track Poncho
Sizes available: 700 x 23/25/28 27 x 1-1/4 RRP: £19.99
Rigid Puncture resistant yet lightweight tyre. Offers excellent grip in all conditions. Attractive amber sidewall. Sizes available: 700 x 23/25/28/32/37 26 x 1.25/1.5/1.75 RRP: £24.99
FREE DELIVERY WHEN YOU SPEND £50 OR MORE CW_JULY_2013_Ads.indd 48
XSmall < 5.1 ft Small 5.1 - 5.5 ft Medium 5.5 - 5.8 ft Large 5.8 - 6.1 ft XLarge > 6.1 ft
PANARACER Pasela Tourguard SPECIALIZED
£54.99 £39.99 £34.99 Protects upper leg from rain and cold wind. Parachute material weighs only 140g. Folds up small.
Great for cooler days out. The Roubaix fabric is designed to both keep you warm and wick away moisture to keep you dry. 4 way stretch Roubaix Thermal Brushed lining Breathable Flat seam RRP £44.99
Special offer 700x35:
Complete rain suit with reflective Details. Medium Large X-Large XX-Large RRP £59.99
This versatile Bib-Tight is great for cooler days out. The Roubaix fabric is designed to both keep you warm and wick away moisture to keep you dry. 4 way stretch Roubaix Thermal fabric Brushed lining Breathable Flatseamed comfort RRP £49.99 Zip front Machine washable
2 for £42!
Small: up to uk 7.5 / Large: UK 8 upwards.
Roubaix Waist Tights
The Ergon PC2 is the first non SPD-type pedal to have been designed with the ergonomic demands and the biomechanics of the user in mind. The result is impressive. A new type of pedal with features which will increase power and comfort and help avoid aches and pains associated with traditional designs.
Super Roubaix Bib Tights
CONTINENTAL Gatorskin BONTRAGER Ultimate wire bead training and racing tyre. Uses latest technology against flats. Aramid breaker and duraskin sidewall. Protective hield over the entire casing prevents cuts, slices and abrasions. Natural rubber tread works well in wet/wintery conditions Sizes: 700 x 23/25/28 27 x 1-1/4 RRP: 26.99.
Fits normal as well as cycling shoes. Velcro back with reflecive strip. Cut-away sole. Made in Wales Size 3-13 RRP: 19.99
Classic Race Jersey
Reflects intense white light from any angle. Simply clip onto your bike, bag or clothing for excellent added safety. -No power needed. -Just 22 grams! -Soft unbreakable construction. -3M Scotchlite. -Approx 165mm
Excellent optics for low light conditions. Protect your eyes from dirt and UV without cuttung light. Polycarbonate Lens, Off-Centre Water-Repellent Lens Ergonomics Pads, Megol Details for a non slip fit. Includes Soft carry case and Hard carry case
more products everyday!
Visit our website!
Th wi Lig cle an RR
Marathon Plus Fed up with punctures? This is the tyre for you! Heavier than the kevlar but much tougher! Ultimate puncture resistance. Reflective Sidewall. (Sizes as marathon except no 27x1-1/4) RRP: £34.99
Fi b th RR
All major cards accepted. min £5 spend Prices and specification are correct at time of print P&P Costs and are subject to change. Orders under £25 = £2.50 p&p Order over £25.01 = £3.50 p&p Despite efforts with consistancy, specification may Orders over £50 = Post Free U.K. mainland only vary from images and specification shown. Large items such as Frames, Bike Cases, Home Trainers, Wheels, Workstands = £9.00
CTC May Right page.pdf 1 5/10/2013 4:12:06 PM
429 Brighton road, South Croydon, CR2 6EU
12.5% to all CTC members see here for details:
QP (quoc pham) ‘Fixed’
flat soled leather shoe, Black
QP (quoc pham) ‘Fixed’ Exustar Stelvio
flat soled leather shoe, Brown Leather SPD compatible shoe.
SPECIALIZED Sport Touring SPD shoe
SPECIALIZED Elite Touring SPD shoe
Front roller plus
Waterproof front panniers
Also ideal as smaller compact rear panniers as the mounts will hang on most rear racks too. 25l capacity. RRP: £95.00
Meteor & Comet Rechargeable light Set. Never buy batteries again!
Does what it says on the tin! Pocketsize cable lock to secure your bike while you stop for a coffee! Combination system. RRP: £11.99
Front: over 200 Lumens! Rear 35 Lumens! Includes USB cables, Bar Mount, saddle mount, helmet mount & post mount. Moon have done it again! Unbelievable power in a neat waterproof pair of units. Simply connect to any USB port to quickly charge.
The closest you will get to a ‘Keo’ style road pedal with an SPD cleat system. Lightweight, aerodynamic and maximum ground clearance. perfect single sided SPD pedal for road and touring. RRP: £49.99
£76.99 Sale only £59.99!
Sale only £65! £29.99
Qyoto 820 Premium Quality Bar bag
Chainsets & accessories
The long time favourite lamp is now available at an unbeatable price! Designed to run with the schmidt hub but will work with any 6v dynamo hub. Supplied with prefitted cable and fittings. Requires bracket. RRP: 59.99
SCHMIDT E6 Dynohub lamp.
Cranks, Chainrings, Spiders, Bolts, Bottom Brackets, Tools and more!
ORTLIEB Ultimate 5 Bar Bag
Our best selling bar bags. Typical high quality from ortlieb. Includes handle bar mounting kit. Oversized clamps available. Many Colour options!
Sylvan Pedals Touring Road
FREE PARKING AT OUR STORE
Dont be a dogs dinner! Save a fortune on clothes and body parts. Inaudible to the human ear, uses a high pitch tone to alarm and deter dogs. Also ideal for training your dog! Pocket size with a belt clip. RRP: £39.95
Security Skewer set
Individual coded key. Key uses 14mm spanner or any allen key/bar through the side drilling.
The ultimate touring pannier rack. Ultralight stainless steel tubing. Multi- adjustable fittings. side bar ideal when using panniers and a trunkbag combined. Amazing 40kg load limit! 10 year warranty!
There are many locking skewers out there now but we think these are the best way of securing your wheels by far. Made from unbelievably tough materials & boasting the simplest but most effective design, also light and easy to use.
Epic Stainless Steel rack
Beautifully simple. Formed acrylic section snugly grips your map and keeps it secure on the bar. Supplied with brackets and screws. Approx 90mm x 150mm
When looking for a basic functional pedal with a traditional design, you need not spend a fortune or sacrafice
Firm favourites at this price, CR-MO axle, quality bearings and an all alloy cage. Available in both the traditional road shape or touring. RRP: £26.99
Beautifully Crafted apple RRP: £14.99 sized bell. Delightful“two tone” chime.
The Best selling SPD pedal out there. Trusted Engineering and a smooth easy to use mechanism. We sell hundrds of these pedals to experts and 1st time SPDs alike. Definately a favourite of ours here at Bike Plus! Cleats included. Black, White or Silver. RRP: £34.99
A modern looking and lighter version of the M-324 pedals. All alloy body with Shimano’s higher quality SPD mechanism for smooth entry and release. A set of SH-51 cleats is SPD one side, traditional flat touring pedal the other. included. A popular pedal for those looking to use a variety of RRP: £59.99 shoes. Make life easy when learning to use SPD’s. Includes silver SH-56 multi release cleats. RRP: £54.99
With a polished body, end cap and axle, the prime sylvan pedals are smoother and more sophisticated than the standard sylvan pedals. For those that appreciate performance and great looks. With allen key axle tightening and Ti colour cage. RRP: £32.99
System EX ding dong bell. 83mm!
MKS Prime Sylvan Pedals Touring Road
RRP: £69.99 Our price: £62.99 (10%) CTC price: £61.24 (12.5%)
Altura night vision jacket
Please note, this does not apply to products already discounted beyond 12.5%.
This comfortable and ventilated Lighter and sleeker than the sport touring. Added SL buckle makes for quicker shoe blends performance adjustments even while on the move. features with the added off-bike Glossy heel and striking detail make stability of the SlipNot™ sole. this a great shoe for the Supple leather-like performance rider. synthetic upper with Euro sizes 38-48 punched and mesh ventilation. Euro sizes 38-48 RRP: £90.00 RRP: £75.00
The renowned Stelvio 705 is back in stock. Traditional leather laced upper. Grippy walkable rubber sole. SPD compatible when cover removed. sizes 37-48.
When ordering from bike plus, make sure you are getting at least 12.5 % off the retail price.
Leather Leather Stainless Toe Clips Half-Clips Toe Clips (pair) (pair) (pair)
TK456 Track pedal with toe clip & strap
823 spd pedals
Despite the very reasonable price, these pedals have stood the test of time very well. Great pedal for any use with good all round performance and durabilty. Supplied with wellgo SPD cleats. Compatible with shimano and other SPD style cleats. Only 360g a pair too! RRP: £21.99
TOKEN TK458 Road pedal
with toe clip & strap
Nice quality pair of pedals with steel toe clips and leather straps all preassembled.
Silver body and black Track Style cage. RRP: £39.99
All silver Road Style cage with rounded ends. RRP: £39.99
P&P Costs Orders under £25 = £2.50 p&p Order over £25.01 = £3.50 p&p Orders over £50 = Post Free U.K. mainland only Large items such as Frames, Bike Cases, Home Trainers, Wheels, Workstands = £9.00
£51.99 £13.99 £14.99 £9.99
Nice quality pair of pedals with steel toe clips and leather straps all preassembled.
Prices and specification are correct at time of print and are subject to change. Despite efforts with consistancy, specification may vary from images and specification shown. All major cards accepted. min £5 spend
CYCLE BORDEAUX | cycle tOURS
SO, hOw DO YOU StARt A CYCLE-tOURing BUSinESS in FRAnCE? Graham Davidson from Cycle Bordeaux explains …..
t’s easy really. You leave the UK at age 19 with £60 in your pocket and imagine that you are going to spend the winter in southern Italy budgeting only for a loaf of bread, a flask of wine and any ‘thou’ that cares to share your romantic poverty (aka tent). Needless to say a week in Paris emptied the wallet and the advice that you could get work picking grapes down in Bordeaux was a lifeline. Three days of hitch-hiking got me to Langon and spending my last 50 centimes on a postcard I stopped everyone I met with the words ‘oo eh se chateau?’ By great good fortune I reached, not my target, but a small family chateau in the Sauternes where I worked, hard, dined fabulously and drank far too much of the chateau’s vin ordinaire. I should have married the daughter. Wind forward 30 years, and seeking some relief from extended parenting and the onset of late middle-age, I revisited this part of my wasted youth. With a bike that matched my age and a rucksack borrowed from my eldest I did not discover the Bordeaux of my youth but found an equally attractive, if far
more prosperous, countryside. Having decided on one of these ‘escapes’ to find out if I could still hack the harvest, I was travelling between two vineyards in a van when, through the rear windscreen, we spotted a walking group being led by a bossy individual on a tour of the vineyards. Slow– witted though I am, I realised that if people would sign up for route marches through the vineyards how much more likely
Chateau de Lantic, Martillac
Chateau Camperos, one of the favourite overnight stops
were they to sign-up for tours that simply required gentle pedalling? And so I invented cycle touring as a holiday activity. Well, at least until I went on the internet and realised that others had been doing it for years. The upshot was that after a long winter spent studying every cycle tour on offer in Western Europe and a summer in Austria spent meeting, greeting, fettling and bag-moving, I moved to Bordeaux and hung out the shingle “Tour Operator for the discerning pedaller”. CycleBordeaux.co.uk was born. Of course, you may choose to offer tours all over Europe and perhaps beyond but that is a different sort of business – online retailing - and needs a greater degree of IT knowhow than I possess. 60 miles around Bordeaux is the area we know best and specialising in that keeps us up-to-date and never far from our customers. We stretch as far as Bergerac for one tour and once a year escort a group tour from Bordeaux to Bezier. This Atlantic to the Med ride is a sort of working holiday where we aim to dine well and sleep in soft beds. The fact that it is all canal towpaths doesn’t embarrass me.
50 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
CYCLE BORDEAUX | cycle tOURS
Was it all based on serendipity? No, Bordeaux has direct flights from a good number of UK provincial airports (about 10 during the summer peak) and is an easy train journey via Paris for those with the time to enjoy the trip. Perhaps best of all it is blessed with a long-distance cycle path leaving from the heart of the city that offers our guests worry-free cycling for that first day when they are getting used to a strange bike, (and country) and often making their first ever cycle tour. The fact that Bordeaux’s grape-juice comes in so many varieties is not exactly a handicap either. So that is all there is to it really …. except of course for the long days exploring all the possible combinations of routes and overnights and rejecting 90% of them because they are not level enough, are too complex to navigate, too boring, have too much traffic, too poor a surface or the accommodation is too small, has not got a pool, is too far from a restaurant, is not attractive, has a host (or dog) who hates cyclists. No, I made up the last one. France is a country where cyclists are venerated (or at least any French cyclist who has won a Tour de France stage) and drivers, for example, are far more considerate of cyclists than is the case in the UK. A good tour is not so much about what you include as what you leave out. It is about ensuring your guests are not persuaded by the brochure gush that every chateau visit is ‘not to be missed’ when some may be poor value for money and time. And naturally there are some obscure little gems that do not feature in the brochures at all. These we may point out and they can be the memory that you treasure decades later. Of course, we do not always get it right. My harshest critic is Kate, who looks after the back-office in Birmingham and then comes over in September to be the van-
driver and ‘picnic director’ for the BordeauxBezier tour. I say ‘picnic director’ but she is just waiting for the TdF Tour Director’s job to become vacant and meanwhile practices by giving me a hard time about the distances, drinks breaks, evening dining, saddle sizes, route choices ... One thing that I had not fathomed when I started was that ‘one size does not fit all’ and that you need a variety of tours to satisfy guests who are often sophisticated and demanding buyers. Some are only willing to forsake their careers for a few days and want to cram in as much Bordeaux as possible in that time, while others seek only to ride gently, arrive early and dine slowly. And of course a tour for a dedicated oenoephile (wine buff) looks quite different from that for a family who want off-bike activities for young children. Did I mention that you will receive inquiries from small groups of friends or families who seek, what appear to be, totally incompatible features? One couple crave poolside loungers while the Iron Man contestant has to do a fast 30k before breakfast. Two others in the party are culture vultures and will leave no abbey or castle unexplored, while a third has a list of essential chateau cellars to visit and sample. Well if you want to be a niche operator, and a bespoke tour arranger you will find a way of devising a tour that satisfies them all. Of course, you will only ever be as good as those who provide your guest’s accommodation. Some of ours can best speak for themselves: “Being in the deepest part of the countryside, nobody ‘just passes the door’ so we know that our cyclist guests are looking for the tranquility and ambience that La Monerie offers.” Brigitte Bergeon (Virtuoso hostess and gardener). “If you truly love France, you ride the bicycle to visit us. Only on the bicycle do you feel the true French heartbeat. Only on the bicycle do you get the appetite to truly
appreciate my wonderful cooking.” Ronan Talbot, chef proprietor of L’Auberge La Cremaillere at Villandraut. “Many people wish to stay in the village during our musical festival so we do not accept any guests.” Marie-Jo, café-owner, festival animatrice, chambre-d’hote host and French logician. “A large house such as this needs the buzz of guests enjoying themselves and we know our cycling guests are always happy to reach us. We are equally happy to receive them and share our pleasure in the wines and culture of Bordeaux.” Brigitte et Paul, proprietors of Chateau Camperos. Final thoughts? You’ve researched the routes, chosen the best accommodation, have the right bikes and all the accessories, written up your tour notes and laminated the maps, polished your website til it glows, have a trustee in place to receive customers’ payments, looked in depth at what your competitors are offering and booked your position in Google adwords. One final step: ask some, critical friends to come across and ride each of the tours – you may be surprised by what you discover and if it entails some radical surgery to a cherished route be grateful that they made the criticism and not your first paying guests. Courage mes braves, courage! Editors note: The proud proprietor of cyclebordeaux.co.uk can be reached at Graham@cyclebordeaux.co.uk or on his skype number 044 (0)121 288 1950. Most early mornings he can be found in-line skating along the Bordeaux riverfront - do not attempt to approach as, while he may look confident, he has yet to master braking ….. (obviously, still searching for his lost youth).
Top Left: Bordeaux for the family; the Waterfields (courtesy of Grandad Waterfield) Right: Wait until it opens; traditional café, traditional cuisine
www.cyclingworldmag.com | Cycling World 51
orbital | festival
rbital Cycling Festival 2013 at Goodwood Motor Circuit 26th to 28th July is set to be the most exciting cycling festival in the UK this year. With a historic venue and a huge array of races, demos, displays, exhibitors and much more the organisers are aiming to grow Orbital into the European version of the iconic Sea Otter Classic event. There is something for everyone with races for adults and youths, family rides, plenty for smaller children to do, camping, exhibitors to peruse and even a 200km Audax in the form of a night ride from “Look Mum No Hands!” café in London, all the way to Goodwood via Brighton. For those who want to sample the prolific Goodwood Motor Circuit at full cycling speed, the race programme includes a Road Race, 20km Time Trial, Keirin, Fixed Gear Crit, Scratch Race, 3.8km Flying Lap and Eliminator race, all on the safe, wide, smooth and marshalled race track at Goodwood. The track is perfect for first timers and more seasoned racers and the full race and ride programme is open to Men, Women and Youths. Also with a competitive edge is Rollapaluza roller racing in Paddock Expo. The race track will also be used for the 2013 Brompton World Championships and Brompton Treble: Brompton Eliminator, Brompton Sprint, and BWC 2013. There will also be an urban style Paddock Race as well as a fantastic cross race for cx bikes and mountain bikes, making use of the perimeter track around the race circuit. Alongside the competitions there are gentler pursuits. The Goodwood Motor Circuit is such a fine race track so it’s great that everyone can experience it. There will be CTC + Sustrans
Family Rides on the Saturday and Sunday. This is intended to be mass participation leisurely fun on the circuit for one and all. Families (and anyone else for that matter) may want to use the numerous picnic areas around the track as well as the many spectator vantage points. There will be plenty for children to get involved with, too. For two to five year olds there will be balance bike training and workshops. Go-Ride Racing and Go-Ride training on a safe, enclosed go-kart track for those over six years. Other activities and events for young people include DMR Pumptrack Challenge, Rippers for 10 years+, Cognation Pump Track workshops with Scott Beaumont and other pro riders, Flatland BMX workshops with Matt Hemmings, Road and track racing – Youth B, Youth A and Juniors (full race programme), Sustrans Bike Bling, CTC &
Sustrans Family rides, perimeter track around the outside of the circuit (when not used for cross race). A few metres from all the action on the track, sitting alongside the very plush Jackie Stewart building, is the Paddock Expo – the beating heart of the festival. This will be used for exhibitors, big and small, to showcase and unveil all their latest products, gadgets and finery for cyclists to peruse, enjoy and indulge in. This area will also be used for engaging shows from the ever popular Animal Action Sports display plus Flatland BMX, reverse steer bikes and other attractions. You’ll also find a fine selection of coffee, cake and catering here including: “Look Mum No Hands!” cycling café with Dark Star beer on draught, Sushi and noodle bar, Pizza cones! Oat Hut – organic porridge and flapjacks - Goodwood Grill with organic burgers and steaks. Just 800m away from the race circuit are 680 pitches for tents, with toilets and hot showers available. The campsite will also have a Hog Roast on Friday and Saturday evening. Look Mum No Sleep! - The aptly named “Look Mum No Sleep!” is a Café to Café Radonnée adventure ride that takes in 200km of roads from “Look Mum No Hands!” in Old Street, London, to “Look Mum No Hands!” at Orbital Festival. As an Audax, this certainly isn’t a race, but as a night ride it’s not for the faint hearted. With cake and tea stops along the route this is shaping up to be an epic ride in every sense of the word. See you there! More Info: www.orbitalfestival.com facebook.com/orbitalfestival twitter.com/orbitalfestival
52 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
HAMPSHIRE | CyCle Tours
AVAST THERE! Rough-Riding to the Red River, on the Shipwrights Way, and more ... Stephen Dyster headed down Hampshire’s latest cycle route … eventually …
entered Hampshire in its northeast corner, close to where it meets Berkshire and Surrey. What better place to do so than at a bucolic ford on a tiny lane near Lower Common, Eversley? The river was the Blackwater; a sluice gate and a weir, a wide pool of brown water, were shaded by willows, with a lone cottage standing by. This is not the Hampshire that most of us think of at the first mention of the county’s name. Further south are the downs and the pure chalk streams. Here the landscape was the same as the Berkshire and Surrey heaths; sandy and forested, splattered with large towns and
beloved by the military. On the journey from Wokingham I had already passed Arborfield barracks, Sandhurst is nearby, and not far away is Stratfield Saye. The last was given by a grateful nation to the Duke of Wellington and would have made a neat detour had I not other objectives in mind. It must be said that there was one problem with the bucolic ford and its peaceful lane. Like many hereabouts the carefree cycling along these little roads only leads to busy main roads and, worse, rat-runs for speeding traffic. The straight course of some heathland roads encourages speed. Then once beyond the A30, it all changed. The roads were quieter
Above: By the little River Rother
and the rush of traffic from all directions was on the main arteries – where it belongs. With the happy prospect of country lanes sweeping southward, I could even forget my annoyance with the Biffa lorry driver who, waiting to turn right onto the road I was travelling along, waited until I was a few yards away before pulling out directly in front of me. No, let the anger go and enjoy the pastures by the River Hart. Sadly the number plate was too filthy to read. With the M3 disappearing overhead the heath and woodland continued, seemingly for mile after mile. Names became
54 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
HAMPSHIRE | CyCle Tours
Top Right: Officially on Right: No danger of getting lost at Barley Pound
more rustic; Winchfield, Dogmersfield, Crookham Village – there was no Crookham City. Some twenty miles from the edge of London, it was surprising how quickly the commuter belt was left behind. There was clearly concern over the way things were going, though. Pausing by the Basingstoke Canal, near Crookham, attention was drawn to a poster put up by the Face It campaign. Claiming that Hart District used to be the happiest place in the UK to live in, it predicted gridlocked roads, shortages of school places and such dire prognostications. This countryside is unspectacular, but always attractive. This gentle England merged easily into the North Downs just beyond Crondall. Crondall, a large village, with pub and apparently flourishing village shop, was once a much more significant place. Today it is a fine old mix of architecture with some narrow lanes and beautifully pollarded trees in some of the gardens. One would not wish to give the impression that it is a throwback – it isn’t – however, the shop did sell bags of TuttiFrutties. I had not seen these childhood favourites for many a years. It felt very much like a holiday. The North Downs begin just to the south of Crondall, but there is not the steepness one might expect. A hedge-lined lane climbed gently along a valley and up on to a narrow ridge, where, with views of Farnham ahead, I turned onto a narrow road running by Powderham Castle, Barley Pound and up to some five hundred feet. The views were broad to the south – courtesy of a recently cut hedgerow – a short diversion to the north revealed equally fine vistas over the Hart District. It didn’t seem too distressed – though I am not a local - and I hope it remains a happy place to live. The countryside had become much more dramatic. By now I was getting close to my initial objective, the start of the Shipwrights Way. This has one terminus at Bentley Station – right on the platform if you arrive by train. However, the station is well outside the village and it was too interesting a place to ignore. The Church had a remarkable avenue of yew trees, whilst apple blossom filled the enclosures and gardens. A white footbridge, doubtless to allow the people at the manor to cross the sunken walled road running down the hill without meeting the village hoi-poloi, was lit up in contrast to the shaded lane beneath. Such little sights can, for me, become the most memorable. So, some twenty-four miles, half a bag of Tutti-Frutties and seven-hundred and fifty words after setting out I arrived at the beginning of the ride. There was a certain amount of trepidation as I opened the gate and entered onto the tarmac surface of the Shipwrights Way. Recently opened, the Way is described
as a mainly off-road route linking Bentley Station to Alice Holt Forest Centre and onward to the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth. Oaks from Alice Holt were taken to the coast to become the Wooden Walls of Old England, whether at Portsmouth or elsewhere. The route is described accurately on the website as being mainly off road and much of it is traffic free. Some is on forest tracks, there are sections of rail path, some byways and bridleways; the surface run the gamut from easy going to distinctly tricky all terrain. Some sections are on lovely country lanes and there are no on road sections on busy main roads. Despite being told that the route was largely off-road, I had brought the old Supergalaxy touring bike with 28mm tyres.
After all, I guessed, this must be a route which eschews the technical and will be more akin to some extended rough stuff. As it turned out, I only needed to push three times, though, at others, progress was slow and bumpy. Were I away just to ride the Shipwrights Way I would, next time, take the MTB, if only to save my aging wrists. Alice Holt Forest Centre has a café and a variety of facilities, but was quiet on this Friday afternoon. The going so far had been on a tarmac track and an earth surfaced bridleway. The weather had been generally dry, despite the odd recent shower, and one could see that this might become badly cut-up. More reason to take a mountain bike, next time. The next section was all on forest
www.cyclingworldmag.com | Cycling World 55
HAMPSHIRE | CyCle Tours
Top Left: Broad views from Weavers Down; Sussex and Surrey Left: Yew arcade, Bentley Church
track of stone and gravel surface. The weather had clouded over and amongst the trees was a nicely sheltered spot to be. Eventually “Cradle Lane” was reached. This is one of those lovely old byways that were formerly more important thoroughfares. Sinking between verdant banks, crossing a bridge next to a ford, and ascending to a surfaced road, it was a delightful ramble. The surface along Cradle Lane was easily manageable, but would have been difficult on a tourer after bad weather. Smooth tarmacadam, following a bumpy track, brings the illusion of speed. Not for long, as a bridleway headed across Broxhead Common. With a short descent into a sand trap, awareness of a hidden danger soon quickly developed. Distracted by the attractive sloping pastures and mixed woodlands, my steering suddenly slewed violently as the front wheel hit a sandy bunker. Broxhead Common is an important habitat for a number of species, but my immediate focus was on staying upright. I took my time and listened to the birdsong, though my ignorance is too great to tell you much more of the singers. It was not the last on this section, but I did manage acceleration sufficient to overtake a couple out walking their dogs. As we chatted, I dismounted, and the gentleman told me about his pre-surgery cycling exploits. He had ridden many a mile all over England, but wherever and however often he went a-touring he always missed the “Surrey” hills. We agreed that the whole area would surprise anyone who was unacquainted with it, both with its beauty, hilliness and peace. We parted as he offered a single direction, “Turn right just before those sheep.” Dutifully, they grazed peacefully and barely moved a muscle as I turned right. The signposting was excellent anyway, but it is always reassuring to have confirmation that one is on the correct right of way. Then came the “missing link”. The reference is not to any of my close relatives. The Shipwrights Way currently maroons the traveller on the B3004, near Lindford and Bordon. The next “official” section is in the pipeline, but is not yet open. I had studied the map prior to setting sail and had mapped out a route. On arrival though, and with time pressing on, course was changed and a decision, based on the apparent lack of traffic on the B3004 was taken to follow that road all the way to Liphook. This avoided fiddly navigation. It was an error. What I had witnessed was a gap in the traffic the like of which was not to be seen all the winding way to Liphook town centre. Being Friday, a little after five o’clock, several drivers seemed to be infuriated that my moderate fifteen miles an hour was going to delay their weekend jollities by a few seconds. I
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HAMPSHIRE | CyCle Tours
couldn’t help feeling sorry for them. After all, they were speeding through woods full of birdsong and all they could hear was their sound system and all they could see was the boot of the car in front – or my backside. Liphook has a cycle shop and a weird mixture of architectural styles. Importantly, it has refreshments. The next stage, to Liss, is a longish one with some rough going. It is also a stretch which struggles to keep itself in Hampshire, running almost on the Sussex side of the border. At first it heads past Liphook golf course on the way into the grounds of Foley Manor. Follow the signs carefully. You will rapidly find yourself at the statue of Hugh Rose, Commander-in-chief in India and First Baron Strathnairn. He was prominent amongst the commanders who put down the Indian Mutiny and was clearly a soldier of personal bravery having put out a fire in an ammunition dump during the Crimean War. The plumes flowing from his hat must have been an impressive sight when at the head of his men, though close inspection of their representation on the statue couldn’t help but make me worry about the cabbages which were almost certainly, at that very moment, under attack by pigeons swooping into my undefended back
Above: The Harrow Inn Below: 1 The Spain, Petersfield
garden. Passing by lakes and climbing onto Weavers Down, the going become rougher. Along the margins of Longmoor Camp, there were sandy sections and a deeply rutted hundred metres that required pushing. The latter would have been fine on an MTB. The compensation paid for such limited hardship was generous. Away across the county boundary were immense views to Hindhead and Blackdown. Well worth going slow and gawping. Eventually hitting the road again I
pushed on along the narrow and wooded Brewells Lane. Almost every country road seemed to have its own name around here – a feature which meets with my strong approval. It seems to speak of the past, the people and their occupations. There was a direct route to Liss, but I did as I was told and followed the Shipwrights Way signs that diverted me to Liss Forest. I did not regret breaking the habit of a lifetime, as the approach to Liss, along the Way, was along a disused rail line. Not one of those lines that offer views of cutting
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HAMPSHIRE | CyCle Tours banks choked with scrubby saplings and spindle, but a well-surfaced track by the nascent River Rother (this is the “red” river of the rather ambitious title), its splashing iron-tinged water pausing to tarry in glades of wild garlic, before running on. Liss is much smaller than Liphook, but will offer you all you need, unless you are especially fussy. The branch railway would have joined the mainline near Liss station. The heyday of the branch was in the days immediately before and after D-Day, when men and materials assembled at Longmoor Camp were rumbled down the line to take part in the greatest amphibious military operation ever undertaken and, then, to secure the beachheads and make the advance. From Liss to Petersfield the Shipwrights Way maps offer a choice of routes. I followed the one that offered the firmest surface. Despite a section alongside the busy A3, the scenery was very good and some half-timbered cottages, hidden away by a stream took the eye. Crossing the main road again brought a sudden sense of déjà vu. As the day had pressed on I had lapsed
into “sign spotting.” A pub appeared, hidden in a small cul de sac, by a country lane. The Harrow Inn? Yes, a check of the map confirmed it. This was the Harrow Inn at Steep; a charmingly traditional pub, hidden away amongst the hedges. It was here, on the way home from playing cricket in Southampton and due in Manchester at midnight, that we suddenly realised it was 11.00 pm and no-one was fit to drive. We got to Manchester, after a night sleeping in the cars, at midday. Well, it was an away game. Externally it seemed that the Harrow Inn had changed less than me. I was tempted to have a pint, but cycle touring isn’t cricket, so I headed into Petersfield to find my Bed and Breakfast. And what a delight the town and No:1 The Spain were. The Spain? Allan Tarver, who says that he provides “a bit of chat” whilst Jennifer Tarver is the real host, explained that there were various theories about the name. One related to the AngloSaxon for “lamb”. As this is South Downs “sheep” country, it may have been that this was an enclosure or even a market area. Another suggestion was that this had been the “posh” end of town in the
Left: Bucolic spot amongst much busier roads
medieval period and that the houses were tiled rather than thatched. A “Spain” was, apparently, a type of tile. The room was comfortable and I was dust-encrusted. Also I was almost late for dinner. A rapid shower, fresh clothes and a brisk stroll across up to the church and across the market square got me to the Old Drum in time to sit by the fire, eat a pile of beautifully cooked tapas dishes, from a menu with an imaginative North-African slant, and sup a gloriously refreshing couple of pints. Not the cheapest place, by any means, but I felt that I had done something adventurous and deserved such a feast. Petersfield is roughly half-way along the Shipwrights Way. I looked at the map as I sipped an espresso. The Old Drum, jointly owned by friends-since-school, Simon Hawkins and Robin Canty, is a beautiful sixteenth century inn, lovingly restored. It has quickly won awards and its open fire was perfect accompaniment to rumination on a fine day and the prospects for the next. HG Wells used to do the same, apparently. Well I recently had a snack in the same graveyard that Charles Dickens et fils once picnicked in, but, in choice of venues for dinner, I am in the HG Wells camp. I suppose that it is entirely possible that Wells arrived at the Old Drum by bicycle, too. Back at No:1 The Spain, I tried to get into writing some copy, but the bed was too comfortable. I fell asleep before reaching the bucolic ford where I had left Berkshire. And so, with belly bulging with spiced lamb, ham hock with split peas, felafels, hummus and good lot of best British chips, the big question is not so much will our hero make it to Portsmouth as will he be able to eat his breakfast and, if he does, will he be able to mount his bike without splitting his shorts? Only time will tell.
InformatIon I stayed with: Jennifer and Allan Tarver, at 1 The
Spain, Petersfield, Hampshire GU32 3JZ Tel: 01730 263261, www.1thespain.com I feasted at: The Old Drum 16 Chapel St,
Petersfield, Hampshire GU32 3DP, Phone: 01730 300544. firstname.lastname@example.org Information on the Shipwrights Way gathered from and downloaded at www.shipwrights.org.uk This includes a full set of route maps. Relevant OS maps include Explorer 133 and 120. More general tourist information can be found at
www.easthants.gov.uk/tourism. There is also a tourist information point in Petersfield Library, in the Square.
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Living Weaving Heritage
In beautiful Hampshire
Working Silk Mill Cafe Museum Shop Groups Welcome
2 for 1 admission - when quoting CWM valid until 24/12/2013
Open all year. Closed Mondays and Christmas week.
www.whitchurchsilkmill.org.uk 01256 892065
cornish cycle tours | cycle tours
cornish cycle tours
Photo courtesy of James Ram
Lanyon Rowe enjoyed it so much that he thought you would like it, too … seems he was right …
ith stunning scenery, landmark attractions and a renowned gastronomic reputation, Cornwall is the perfect playground for cyclists on a UK break. Rugged coastal paths, quiet country lanes and a craggy shoreline studded with golden bays and picturesque fishing villages, the county is also home to some seriously scenic cycling routes. Combining his passion for cycling and his native Cornwall, Lanyon Rowe set up Cornish Cycle Tours in 2007, offering self-guided tours that take in many of the best parts of the county. “I used to take a holiday once a year and cycle all around Cornwall,” said Lanyon. “I thought that it seemed a good idea for other people to do too, and that’s where the idea for Cornish Cycle Tours was born.” “Cornwall has so much to offer and a bicycle is one of the best ways to see the county. A cycling holiday gives visitors the freedom and the flexibility to explore at their own pace.” Cornish Cycle Tours offers both leisure
and sports tours: recreational cyclists enjoy low-mileage routes where scenery and food and drink have influenced the itinerary, while sport cyclists can challenge themselves on some long rides and tough climbs. Tours range from three to eight days, so visitors are able to choose from a leisurely weekend or week of intense cycling. Proving to be one of the most popular routes in Cornish Cycle Tour’s portfolio is the ‘Cornish Tour’. The route has been designed and personally trialled by Lanyon to show the county at its best. The tour takes in the small fishing towns of Padstow, Penzance and St Ives, as well as the popular Eden Project (which offers a discount to those arriving by bicycle) and spectacular coastal views along the two mile stretch of Watergate Bay. Starting in the small town of Wadebridge, cyclists are issued with a detailed map of their route, which totals around 177 miles, and daily step-by-step instructions. Lanyon said: “I’ve tried to include
Above: Sport Tour on St. Breock Down Below: Pause for breath on the breathtaking Cornish coast
some areas in the route that a lot of people miss when they come to the county, like the coastal path around Geevor Tin Mine and the village of Botallack. They’re stunning areas but they’re just not as well-known as some other cycle paths around Cornwall.” As well as the quieter routes, the tour incorporates some of Cornwall’s most popular trails. A firm favourite with both
Photo courtesy of James Ram
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cornish cycle tours | cycle tours
Photo courtesy of Cornish Cycle Tours
visitors and locals is the Camel Trail between Bodmin and Padstow. The 11 mile trail is virtually level, following the route of the old Bodmin to Padstow railway line alongside the Camel Estuary. Waiting at the end of the trail is an array of restaurants and cafes that have given Padstow its foodie reputation. Whether it’s tucking into Rick Stein’s renowned fish and chips or a sophisticated lunch with Michelin-starred Paul Ainsworth at Number 6, Padstow is a must-visit for foodies. Cornwall has a wealth of natural beauty: St Michael’s Mount on the south coast is a tidal island, cut off from the mainland twice daily by the tide. At low-tide the island is accessible by foot, while ferry boat trips make the 350 metre journey from Mounts Bay at high tide. Cyclists have the option to ride the Cornish Tour over six or eight days. It is also available as a sports tour, spanning four days and covering an average daily distance of 59 miles. Accommodation along the routes has been hand-picked and includes a
selection of charming and high-quality guest houses and inns within small Cornish towns and fishing villages. The nature of Cornwall’s landscape means that many routes involve hilly sections, sometimes challenging even experienced cyclists. With a desire to cater for everybody, Lanyon has, earlier this year, introduced a fleet of powerassisted electric cycles for hire. “Our new bikes are popular with groups of people who have varying fitness levels or experience of cycling,” he said. “Very often we have couples and one will hire an electric bike to be able to keep up with their partner who may be quite fit and experienced. It gives them the opportunity to both enjoy the tour without it feeling too tiring.” The bikes have a very quiet electric motor at the back of the bike which is powered by battery and activated upon pedalling, giving the rider a little bit of extra power just when they need it. Batteries can be recharged overnight so the bikes start each day fully powered. For those who are looking for a
Top Left: Something tough? Hustyn Hill, near Wadebridge Top Right: Leisure Tour on the Camel Trail
Photo courtesy of James Ram
Left: Power Assisted Bikes help make challenging rides more accessible
weekend adventure, Cornish Cycle Tours offers the three-day Penwith Tour, which takes in the most westerly point in England at Land’s End. Covering St Ives, Penzance, Mousehole and Lamorna, the tour takes in St Michael’s Mount, as well as the impressive Minack Theatre, where the auditorium and stage is carved into the cliffs above the sea. From here, there is an easy, gentle ride to Penzance and the neighbouring town of Newlyn, both of which have large harbours, big fishing fleets and an abundance of cafés and restaurants. The tours include transfers to and from Newquay airport or the closest mainline railway station, as well as daily luggage transfers, so all guests need to think about is the day of cycling ahead of them. Lanyon provides a briefing at the beginning of the tour along with detailed route maps and emergency contact numbers. Emergency support and cycle repairs (when hiring) are both included in the cost of the tour. The Penwith Tour is £275 per person, which includes two nights’ accommodation and transfers. Cycle hire is an extra £30pp, while electric cycle hire is an extra £60pp. The same tour is available with three nights’ accommodation for £385 with an extra £45pp for cycle hire and £90pp for electric cycle hire. The eight-day Cornish Tour is £780 per person, which includes seven nights’ accommodation and transfers. Cycle hire is an extra £105pp or £210pp for electric cycle hire. The same tour is available with five nights’ accommodation for £615 per person with cycle hire costing an extra £75pp or £150pp for electric cycle hire. The four-day Cornish Tour is £385 per person with three nights’ accommodation plus £45pp for cycle hire. To view all the tours and for more information about Cornish Cycle Tours, visit www.cornishcycletours.co.uk or call 01637 880710.
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bhf | L2B Night Ride
all-nighter In the dark and at dawn; over the Downs and through the Weald; summer moonlight and the chorus of birdsong at first-light; relief or ecstasy; the BHF L2B night ride has it all, overnight on July 13th to the 14th.
ast year the BHF invited CW to ride in the event. Setting off from midnight, in waves, it was fascinating to ride through areas of London I’d rarely thought of cycling through. Whilst there was the odd drunk wobbling across the road to provide added interest, there were far more people standing either mystified by the passing parade of cyclists on all sorts of bikes or fully in the know and looking out for friends or family. They were all full of encouragement. Climbing over the North Downs
comes as the outer edge of the suburbs is reached. Testing? A bit, but really not too bad as the climb comes early enough to be conquered by fresh muscles and euphoria. The South Downs at dawn were much more of a challenge. In between is the Weald. This isn’t flat either and you’ll undulate along your merry way with blazing lights, well-organised and resourced feed stations, markers and marshals to guide you along. The Surrey and Sussex countryside will surprise those cynics who might dismiss the south of England as flat and urban.
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bhf | L2B Night Ride
If the moon is full, then you will have a very different view of the peace and quiet of the dark woods, rolling hills and quiet villages along the way. Do say thanks to the marshals as you pass. They are out there all night watching for you and signalling the route ahead. They may be at an isolated crossroads or standing in the heart of a silent village, or waiting for you near the end. Do be careful on the descent to the seafront at Brighton. The euphoria of dawn and the relief of topping the South Downs to bring the sea into view easily combine to make one drunk with desire to race to the finish. The roads are open and the traffic is starting to come back to life. Taxis ferrying the party-life of Brighton back home forms the bulk, but others are awake, too. Make sure you are. As the finish is reached you’ll accelerate to cross the line and grab some food and
drink or sit on the beach and wonder what to do a four or five or six in the morning in Brighton. Last year, the editor decided to cycle to Winchester and had a lovely day in the saddle – even when he realised that he had not unfolded the map properly and his destination was double the distance. There may well be easier ways home. It is possible to book bike and rider onto a coach bound for Clapham Common, but don’t expect the railways to help. Flunking the challenge in 2012, the railway decided to convey no bicycles at all. It is worth considering how you will get home and arranging thing in advance. Night riding is fun, brings a totally new perspective on the landscape and there are few better ways to do it than this. Or try the off-road ride in the daylight on September 21st, www.bhf.org.uk/get-involved/events/ bike-rides/london-to-brighton.aspx
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prolegal | THE BIKE SOLICITOR
SIMoN’S laW Simon Edwards is Principal Solicitor at Prolegal, and acts for cyclists in personal injury cases. He campaigns for improved cycling infrastructure and advices cyclists through www.thebikesolicitor.co.uk
ycling is not as simple as jumping on your bike and getting from A to B. There are a myriad of issues that cyclists face on their journey. It may be that you have always wondered about what your rights over road usage actually are, who is negligent in which situation and what new legislation you face, but have never had a coherent answer. For this month’s column, I have chosen our top four topics to help clarify some of these niggling questions.
1. What does the Highway Code mean when it says that motor vehicles overtaking cyclists should leave the same space as a small car?
Motorists should leave the recommended 1.5m between their vehicle and your bicycle when overtaking. Interestingly, although the wording of Rule 163 of the Highway Code states simply that the motorist should give cyclists “at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car”, the illustration in the Highway Code shows a car overtaking a cyclist by moving into the opposite carriageway. This is undoubtedly the safest way to overtake, particularly at high speed. On smaller or busier roads, this may not always be possible but you should always be left with the 1.5m gap. In Spain the law requires this practice, and in France the overtaking vehicle must leave at least a metre between cycle and car. 2. Is it true that speed limits do not apply to bicycles?
It is true in the sense that the Highway Code does not impose a specific speed
limit on bicycles. However, as a road user, the general obligation that all road users travel at a speed that will allow them to stop within a safe distance of another vehicle applies to you. Certainly a cyclist who failed to keep a safe stopping distance and hit another vehicle or a pedestrian as a result would be considered negligent and liable to pay compensation in a civil claim. In terms of prosecution, a cyclist can be prosecuted for cycling too fast on the basis that this is either dangerous cycling (contrary to s.28 of the Road Traffic Act 1988), or cycling without due care and attention (s.29). Cycle racing on public roads, except in authorized events, is also an offence. 3. I recently had a bike stolen from outside my house. I was about to take it to the bike shop to have the brakes, which were not working, replaced. If the thief rode the bike and was injured, could I be held liable in any way?
This type of question is always welcome to lawyers, as it gives us a chance to speak some Latin. Ex turpi causa non oritor actio is the relevant doctrine, a more or less literal translation being “an action does not arise from an immoral cause”. So, in this case, the thief cannot pursue a claim where the cause of his injury is his theft of your bicycle, not your failure to keep the brakes working. 4. What are your views on the “strict liability” campaign currently underway in Scotland?
In most of the rest of Europe (the only exceptions outside the UK being Romania, Cyprus, Malta, and Ireland), cyclists are given additional legal protection. The proposal in Scotland is that they introduce a similar system of strict liability for vulnerable road users. Campaigners argue that an injured cyclist should not have to prove that his injuries were caused by negligence on the part of the driver of the motor vehicle. This would be good news for cyclists. The term “strict liability” in this campaign, effectively means that the law assumes that the driver was at fault and the cyclist does not have to demonstrate in court that the driver was negligent. The main benefit of this is that instead of the injured cyclist and his family having to fight cases through the courts for months, often years, the cyclist’s solicitors can immediately start putting together a care and treatment package to assist the cyclist’s recovery and rehabilitation. The other benefit, of course, is that faced with the high likelihood that injuring a cyclist could lead to a prosecution or at least impact directly on their no claims bonus, motorists take a lot more care to avoid hitting them. Simon Edwards, Principal Solicitor at city law firm, Prolegal. If you have any questions about cycling and the law that you would like the Bike Solicitor to answer in this column, please submit them to email@example.com
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www.orbittandems.co.uk CyclingPlusOrbitTandemsAdvert.indd 1
Exclusively retailed through JD Tandems Unit 1 Cawood House, Asquith Industrial Estate, Gargrave, North Yorkshire BD23 3SE 01756 748822 | www.twitter.com/orbittandems
siempre | cycling cafe
Top Left: Window dressing Top Right: Classy bikes mingle with equally stylish clothes Bottom left: Urban art tin the garden Bottom Right: The locals gather to watch the race
Jill Phillip takes time out of the saddle …
ust as it’s unwise to judge a book by its cover, it’s usually imprudent to make preconceptions solely on the basis of a name. But, in the case of Siempre Bicycle Cafe, the exception very definitely proved the rule. A bicycle cafe: an Elysian mirage emerged from my screen! Two of my favourite things, under the same roof and in a familiar area of my native city to boot. I was already hooked, but when further research revealed a relaxed urban cafe, strikingly decorated in a palette of distinctive colours, an array of sumptuous pastries beside a state-of-theart coffee machine and a couple of rows of fashionable, distinctively styled cycling clothes for women - yes, women! - I couldn’t wait. My bicycle and cafe obsession has deep roots: cycling has been my passion
since I learned to ride, not particularly for competition, but predominately as a form of transport, means of fitness and source of pleasure. Combine that with an infatuation for good coffee, cultivated during endless teenage hours sipping “frothy coffee” from glass cups in numerous Italian cafes, an unhealthy fondness for baking and consuming calorific cakes, then, for good measure, throw in a predictable female fixation with clothes and fashion and you get the picture. I wasn’t disappointed. Emerging from the gloom of the subway, Siempre’s vivid colour and wide windows provided a welcoming beacon in the face of a sharp wind and slanting showers. Situated on the Dumbarton Road, in the heart of a major regeneration area of Glasgow’s West End, its location right next to
Kelvinhall Subway is yet another of its unique aspects. According to founder Kirsteen Caldow: “Being right next to the station allows Siempre to provide a different type of ‘park and ride’ facility, where people can leave their bikes securely and then have the option of using the urban transport system.” A well-placed hatch also offers busy commuters the choice of food and drink to go, but close proximity to urban transport wasn’t the only reason for the location of the cafe. “We chose it carefully,” explains Kirsteen. “The building was derelict and had been for a number of years but we could see the potential for the area and for the community. We chose Partick as this is our neighbourhood. We live here and are passionate about the place and the
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siempre | cycling cafe
people in it.” Although Siempre has been open for less than a year and its surroundings are still under construction, plans for its outdoor space further reveal this integral approach to its neighbourhood. “Ultimately, we are developing the outdoor area to provide a convenient and attractive place for cycle parking; with wall hooks,lighting and murals combining to make it a fabulous space, day or night,” says Kirsteen. But as Siempre is about engaging the whole neighbourhood, long term plans also include the construction of raised beds to create a community garden where local people can plant flowers and vegetables, as well as a roof garden to grow herbs for the cafe. One section will be designated as a training area for kids, where they can learn to ride in safety and a communal space will provide welcome outdoor seating for locals and visitors. Siempre is not just about bikes though. The morning I visited its tables were occupied by an eclectic mix of students on their laptops, a couple discussing a business proposition and several parents with babies - the roomy interior is buggie as well as bike friendly. According to Kirsteen, the cafe is equally popular with older customers who like the baking and teenagers who pop in for a nutritious smoothie and all are as welcome as the club roadies who regularly gather to watch screenings of continental bike races. Indeed its food, which is rapidly gaining a reputation for creativity and quality, also displays Siempre’s mission to do things differently and ethically. “We believe in healthy organic (and tasty) food and, as such, provide a menu made up with organic (where possible) quality ingredients. We make our food fresh (it is not imported in) and ensure it is sourced through an ethos based on equality and fairness, in all its forms, be that cooperative working, carbon friendly
production, or flat financial principles,” explains Kirsteen. “All our suppliers are local, so that money is recycled back into the local area, and share a similar ethical ethos, but we don’t support certain multinationals, such as Coca Cola, on economic and health grounds.” Taking its name from the famous Che Guevara line, ‘ hasta la victoria Siempre’ ‘always until the victory’ - Siempre celebrates the joys of cycling in all its forms. From helping sustain a healthier lifestyle, to accessing the great outdoors, to racing until you drop, cycling is, and always has been, for everyone. Even the colour scheme, composed of Kirsteen’s favourite hues, has been chosen carefully to represent those principles: “I wanted the area to have a strong female presence, so clearly we have to have pink! Although, as far as cycling is concerned, thinking pink is not female exclusive and is equally associated with the Giro and legends like Pantani. Purple shows the depth, imagination and richness of what we believe in, brown combines the earth and coffee mix, while blue represents trust, honesty and loyalty; values all too often missing from many businesses. Entering from the front door, a range of bikes, of all genres, mingle tastefully with rows of equally stylish and practical cycling gear for men and women. This space is also where bikes are sold and repaired and Cal, who oversees the technical side of Siempre, explained this aspect of the business while repairing a wheel and selling components to a steady stream of customers - he also told me that several regulars read Cycling World! The visual contrast with the traditional bike shop and its dark, oily, macho image could not be more striking, but make no mistake, Cal, like Kirsteen and every other member of staff, is a bicycle aficionado,
and everyone associated with Siempre is as passionate about cycling as they are about coffee and cakes. Glasgow may not spring to mind in quite the same way as, say Cambridge, Bristol and even Edinburgh when we think of cycle-friendly cities, but although much work remains to be done to create a safer and easier environment for cyclists, the city has a long and proud cycling history. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries thousands of its citizens escaped their grim industrial conditions and escaped to the surrounding countryside each weekend on two wheels; Glasgow’s location at the edge of some of the country’s most spectacular scenery providing an inbuilt advantage. Today there is little shipbuilding or heavy engineering left, but its industrial legacy has bequeathed a network of disused railway lines and canal towpaths that enable today’s cyclists to ride, completely traffic free, from the city centre to the banks of Loch Lomond. It is from route that, on my next visit to the city, I will make the short detour to Siempre, on my way to the Trossachs, smugly satisfied that my exertions will fully justify another slice of their delectable millionaire’s shortbread, washed down by an excellent flat white. I might even allow a little time to try on some of their fab gear before I leave. Top Left: Siempre’s baristas are as passionate about their drinks as about their bikes Below: Bistro Box - perfect to share - or just have it to yourself!
Find Siempre at: 162 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow Contact: http://www. siemprebicyclecafe.com/ Tel: 0141 334 2385 Follow: F: https:// www.facebook.com/ SiempreBicycleCafe T: @siemprecafebar
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TANDEM TIME | CYCLE TOURS
BARN STORMER T
Moreton-in-Marsh to Great Coxwell
his month Phil and Helen Muir take us on a ride not far from their home in South Warwickshire, touring along the border between Oxford and Gloucester through beautiful Cotswold villages along some very tandem friendly roads. If you want a ride that will meander through picturesque Cotswold scenes with traditional English country pubs and picnic stops a plenty – then this is the one for you. Phil and Helen drove to Moreton-inMarsh, and parked at the very convenient public car park adjacent to the station (£3.40 all day, free on Sundays). Although you can get a train to Moreton, the Great Western services do not carry tandems. If you need feeding up before you set out on your adventure the small town has several cafes and restaurants including Tilley’s on the High Street. Start your journey by riding east out of Moreton, over the railway bridge before turning right, at the Wellington Inn, into Evenlode Road. The route now follows this gentle, picturesque lane through Evenlode. After
4.5 miles take a right turn just before you reach Adlestrop. Continue to the A436, take a left and then turn right on the lane to Kingham. After passing through Kingham take a left onto the B4450 and then take a right to Shipton. There are a number of alternative routes along delightful lanes that will take you to your destination. However, Phil and Helen chose to turn right after one mile, heading over the level crossing, passing through Milton to the steady climb through Upper Milton to the A424. Join the main road from Stow for a one mile descent into Burford and the Windrush valley. There are plenty of refreshment opportunities in Burford and respite can be had in the garden of the Priory Restaurant away from the tourist bustle. Ask nicely and the tandem can go into the garden with you! Climb out of Burford on Tanners Lane, cross over the A40 and head towards Westwell. Just before the village turn left. Carry on for four miles on almost flat lanes all the way to Kencot passing the Cotswold Wildlife Park.
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TANDEM TIME | CYCLE TOURS
Kencot is a real delight, so don’t miss the small village green by the church where a bench makes a very useful picnic spot. However, don’t get too used to tranquillity as you may well see an enormous RAF C17 Globemaster transport jet take oﬀ from nearby Brize Norton Leaving Kencot you soon enter Broadwell and then Langford. Here you keep left on the lane to Grafton and then onto the A4095. From the junction it is just three miles south to Faringdon, however you could take a break at The Swan Inn on the Thames by the Radcot Bridges. Alternatively wait until Faringdon’s stunning little market square which also has a number of cafes and coﬀee shops.
As you enter Faringdon look out for the 140ft high folly on the ridge. From here it is not far to Great Coxwell, which is approached via the Highworth Road (B4019). The lane down from Bradbury Hill leads to the Great Coxwell Barn. You can’t miss it. As impressive as any cathedral and just as ancient, it dates back to approximately AD 1310. You will now be heading back towards Moreton. Return to the B4019 and head west, over Bradbury Hill. Turn right in Coleshill onto the lane to Buscot at which you take a left and follow the A417 for one mile into Lechlade. If you haven’t been fully refreshed already, Lechlade oﬀers plenty of choice. When you are ready to leave, take the Burford road north, before
turning left onto the lane to Hatherop. After one mile, turn right at the minor cross roads. Just over a mile later enter Southrop. Follow the signs for Eastleach Turville, a classically quiet Cotswold village, which lies just a mile further on. Leave the village, passing over the River Leach, and keep left on the minor lane to Holywell. After 1.5 miles turn left at the crossroads. Stay on this lane for three miles crossing a number of roads, including, lastly, the A40, after which you descend into Little Barrington. Turn right into Great Barrington and then left, taking you north up a
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TANDEM TIME | CYCLE TOURS steady climb to the Rissingtons. The summit of the road is reached after four miles, at Wyck Beacon. Cross over the A424 and, after one mile. pass the village of Icomb. The village is well-worth exploring, so take a minor detour to check it out. If you’re ahead of schedule, Bourtonon-the-Water, one of the most picturesque Cotswold villages is just a hop, skip and pedal away.
Keep left after Icomb, join the B4450, heading north, towards Stow-on-theWold. Make the short climb and turn right, to the Oddingtons. If time permits, and you fancy a further climb, continue on here for a visit to Stow-on-the-Wold. Phil and Helen’s route, however, continues through the Oddingtons and picks up the A436 east, crossing over the railway and turning left to Evenlode, reversing the outward route
taken earlier in the day. Despite the lengthy 68 miles, this is a very gentle ride with only a few gradients of note and almost all of the ride on unclassified lanes. There are plenty of opportunities to shorten the loop. However, we’d recommend the whole as a great day out. Every village is picture perfect and linked by hedge and stone walled lanes; it would be hard not to enjoy it!
The Tandem Club Rides and Events Thursday 15 August 2013 Lancashire
JULY Sunday 7 July 2013
Essex and East London
Sunday 18 August 2013 Colchester at 10.00 - 40 miles, average
Saturday 13 July 2013 West Country
Mangotsfield village car park at 09:30am - 40 miles, average
Sunday 14 July 2013 Wessex North East
Lancashire East Solent & IOW West Yorkshire Milton Keynes Surrey & Sussex South East Wales
Mudeford at 10:00am - 20 miles, easy Morpeth Leisure Centre at 09:30am - 45 miles, average Priest Hutton village hall at 9:00 - 40 miles, easy Compton Tea Rooms at 10:30am - 35 miles, average Otley Buttercross at 09.30am - 50 miles, average Earls Barton at 10:00am - 35 miles, average Polegate at 10:00 - 40 miles, average Cardiff at 10.30am - 12 miles, easy
Saturday 20 July 2013 Taunton
Creech St Michael at 10:00am - 40 miles, average
Sunday 28 July 2013 Three Counties
Romsey Station at 10:00am - 40 miles, average West Yorkshire Crosshills car park at 09.30am - 60 miles, hard Leicester Charnwood Market Harborough at 09:30. 35 miles, average
Loughborough at 09:30. 35 miles, average
Saturday 24 August 2013 West Country
Stoke Gifford at 09:30am - 45 miles, average
Sunday 25 August 2013 West Yorkshire
Ilkley Old Bridge at 10.00am - 30 miles, easy
SEPTEMBER Sunday 1 September 2013 Wessex Wessex
Lymington at 10:30 - 31 miles, easy Lymington at 10:00 - 62 miles, average
Saturday 7 September 2013 West Country
Bitton Railway Station at 09:30 35 miles, average
Sunday 8 September 2013 Lancashire
Beacon Fell Country Park at 9:00. 40 miles, average West Yorkshire Gargrave JDs at 9.30 - 60 miles, hard Surrey & SussexBanstead at 10:00 - 40 miles, average
Saturday 14 September 2013 Wessex
Dibden at 09:45 - 40 miles, easy
Sunday 22 September 2013
AUGUST Sunday 4 August 2013 West Yorkshire
Appleby Station at 9:00am - 45 miles, average
Gargrave JDs at 9.30am - 60 miles, hard
Saturday 10th – 17th August 2013 The Tandem 2013 - UK National Rally will be held in Lympsham, Somerset, with a week of celebration of tandem riding and family entertainment.
Otley Buttercross at 9.30 - 55 miles, average
Sunday 29 September 2013 Leicester Charnwood
Bourne, Lincolnshire at 10:00 35 miles, average
These rides have been organised by The Tandem Club UK. It is simple and inexpensive to become a member to join the rides and events with a wide range of member benefits. To find out more about these (and more) rides, events and membership, visit www.tandem-club.org.uk. It may be necessary to book your spot on a ride, so please contact the organiser before attending an event.
72 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
TANDEM TIME | CYCLE TOURS
Expert Advice : Bars and riding position If you’ve been bitten by the tandem bug and you’re ready to get a bike set up for you and your riding companion – then it’s time to read on. Tandem experts Ruth and John from JD Tandems and Orbit Tandems will be breaking down the what, why and how of tandems and tandem riding so that when it comes to you getting your first bike – you’ll get the perfect ride for you. This month, Ruth and John are taking you through the world of bars and riding positions on a tandem. Although you can read all of the advice and listen to every rider around – there really is no substitute to thinking through what you want and testing it out before you fork out for your shiny new machine. In reality, the riding position doesn’t have to diﬀer at all from a solo, however the agenda is often a more relaxed aﬀair, with stops to take photographs, enjoy the scenery and visit local cafes. So often the front rider will choose a riding position based more around comfort than aerodynamics. When you break it down, on a sliding scale from the ultimate-aerodynamic road riding position to a bolt upright ‘Meerkat’ riding position – less than 10% opt for both of the extremes with over 80% of riders falling somewhere in the middle and focusing on comfort as their main criteria. This leaves the majority of riders with a comfortable, yet workmanlike, riding position with the upper body still very much leaning into the bars for control (especially on those tricky downhill sections) yet also allowing the riders to easily lift their head to take in the scenery
and communicate with their co-rider. All good tandem retailers should be able to get your bike fully set up for your heights and preferred riding positions. When it comes to your choice of bars for your tandem, you can get exactly the same bars that you have on your solo bike fitted to your tandem. In reality, your choice is again down to usage and what you are comfortable with. Whether you want road drops or flats – the decision is yours to give you the comfort and control you need. There is, however, another option for the stoker. Although you may still use traditional drops or flats, the vast majority of modern bikes are now set up with stoker bars that are designed specifically for the rear rider on a tandem. Stoker bars are typically connected to a stoker stem and clamped around the pilot’s seatpost. As all of the controls are normally at the front of the bike, these are designed for maximum comfort and to give the stoker the chance to easily switch between a variety of riding positions. Depending on the stoker’s reach, the height of their bars will need to be altered and can sit higher, lower or level with the pilot’s saddle. This will all be governed by the relative sizing of the team and again should be set up by your bike shop. In terms of recommendations on the front, for relaxed comfort take a look at flats or riser bars with Ergon GP5’s; for trail riding you may want to consider wider width riser bars; and for fast road cycling Pro bars and stems are a good option, these come in a huge range of lengths, widths and shapes and they come in variety of
John the Pilot, from JD Tandems
price ranges according to whether they are aluminium or carbon. For the stoker, JD Tandems stoker bars and the Satori Dali bars are great choices. Next month, we’ll talk to our experts at JD Tandems and Orbit to learn about the important subject of brakes and braking techniques on a tandem.
TANDEM TEAM PROFILE (tandem): Years riding (tandem): Pilot: 8 months Stoker: 2 Riding together since: November 2012
Name: Pilot: Catherine O Leary (37 years old) Stoker: Sarah Caffrey (37 years old) No of years riding (solo): Pilot: 3 Stoker: 0
How and where did you get into Tandem riding? As I [Sarah] have a visual impairment it’s the only type of cycling I can do so I’ve convinced Catherine (a rowing friend) to be my pilot. She’s a complete natural What bike do you ride? Dawes Galaxy What is your favourite ride? Richmond Park on a sunny day.
How often do you get out on your tandem? Twice a week Stoker: News from the back – what’s it like as the stoker of the team? It’s the only type of cycling I’ve ever known, there has to be a huge amount of trust and friendship for it to work. I can tell immediately whether the pilot is a confident or experienced cyclist by how they handle turns, speed and communication etc. In 5 words sum up tandem riding for you: Freedom, friendship, fun, trust, teamwork.
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TANDEM TIME | CYCLE TOURS
TANDEM TIMELINE Peter Weeks from The Tandem Club and Ruth Hargreaves from JD Tandems explain how it all began …
andem riding has been a pastime and passion for riders for 100s of years - but where did it all start? Many believe that the original concept, if not the inspiration for the modern tandem, evolved from three or four wheeled machines known as ‘courting bikes’ in the 1880s. These would predominantly have two larger wheels up front with a smaller ‘rudder’ wheel for steering at the back. The lady would sit up front with her date pedalling from the rear. Could these be called a tandem? Almost definitely not; they seem to be closer to a cycle rickshaw or a tandem tricycle than a tandem bicycle. It was in the late 19th Century that engineers really took to the challenge of making a solo bike work for two – and in many ways it was the developments in the world of solo bike technology and design that made this possible. Early sketches, by a student of da Vinci, for a ‘bicycle’ date back to 1490. In 1790 the first bicycle was invented in France, but it didn’t look anything like a modern day machine. It had wooden wheels, no pedals and could only go straight ahead. This was improved in 1817 with the inclusion of steering followed by the addition of pedals which saw the birth of the ‘bone shaker’. 1870 saw the Penny Farthing take centre stage before engineers created something that was much more recognisable in modern day cycling – the ‘safety bicycle’. Invented by John Kemp Starley (1885) the basic design, which hasn’t changed much since, saw the arrival of wheels of equal size, inflatable tyres, pedals and chain drive to the rear wheel. In 1885 Starley exhibited his Rover Safety bicycle at the Stanley show. English inventor, Daniel Albone, saw it at the show and adapted the idea to produce the Ivel Safety cycle in April 1886, which went on to sporting success. Albone then invented the first tandem safety bicycle, with Arthur James Wilson, in the late 1880s. And so the modern tandem was born. Bicycles became hugely popular among both men and women and it did not take long for manufacturers to see the special appeal of a bicycle made for two.
Many manufacturers oﬀered tandems in their range and the word ‘tandem’ soon came into general use. Tandems were popularly known as a vehicle of romance − a lovers’ bicycle – but in the age before the mass-produced car, a tandem was often a practical low-cost means of transport for a couple, sometimes even fitted with a light sidecar to carry small children. Having a range of gears is even more important on a tandem than for a solo. Tandems were quick to adopt hub gears and the early versions of derailleur gears that emerged from France. By the time of the First World War the tandem had secured its place in the bicycle world. Tandems continued to sell in steady numbers up to the 1950s, when their popularity began to decline in line with the bike market as a whole. At the time bikes were becoming unfashionable and were widely expected to be a casualty of the rise of cheap motoring. Indeed the Tandem Club was formed in 1971 primarily to provide otherwise unobtainable spare parts and technical
advice on how to maintain older machines. But as interest in cycling as a leisure activity has exploded, so has the interest in tandem riding. The Tandem Club has since developed and extended the range of services it oﬀers and currently the club has a worldwide membership of over 4,000 members. Now with specialist tandem manufacturers, such as Orbit Tandems, bringing expert knowledge and experience to the latest machines – the modern tandem is precisely engineered, delivering performance that would match any top-of-the-range solo bike. Over 1000 new tandems are now sold in the UK every year. Image courtesy of Grace’s Guide
74 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
Sunday 4th August 2013
Cycle with Weston Hospicecare on a 10, 25, 50,75 or 100 mile distance
Take part in this fantastic cycle ride and help raise £7,500 for Weston Hospicecare by riding a 10, 25, 50, 75 or 100 mile distance. Call 01934 423960 or visit www.thestrawberryjam.org.uk Entry: From £5 to £30 @WHCHospice
Weston Hospicecare Fan Page
Registered Charity No. 900328
FH - Cycling World ad 190 x 130mm v3:. 13/06/2013 15:29 Page 1
Staying with Forest Holidays in luxury cabins set exclusively on Forestry Commission land – means you can choose to cycle through woodland with our forests offering fantastic terrains for off-road cycling. Though all Forest Holidays locations have wonderful forest trails for cycling nearby, for a seriously fun mountain biking holiday, stay at one of the North Yorkshire sites and explore the nearby world-class Dalby Forest trails. Perfect for groups of cyclists.
Summer cycling holidays in the forest
Special offer for Cycling World readers Enter FHCYCLE13 to save 10% on all cabins booked by 1 October 2013. Visit www.forestholidays.co.uk or call 0845 130 8223.
SLAidBURN | YHA
hark to bounty! part one Tim Bird reminisces on trips to Slaidburn and the joys of the YHA ...
r Above: 1934 YHA poster (courtesy of the YHA England and Wales)
eturning home to England after some years abroad I took up a job set amidst the limestone hills of the Craven district in North Yorkshire. That first spring I eagerly unfolded my new maps on the kitchen table and, whilst sipping tea, surveyed the local territory for suitable adventures. The Yorkshire Dales to the north were familiar to me from boyhood outings but south of my new home lay an unknown area, the Forest of Bowland; 150 square miles of gritty high moors, drained by fast flowing rivers, encircled by pastures, woods, and farms. The map revealed a number of lonely roads, threading their way unfettered across the moor tops. I followed one road up, over and down to a village called
Slaidburn. I stopped with a jolt and found myself struggling to recall a long forgotten memory. Aha! I had been to Slaidburn once before, nearly thirty years ago and I smiled as the memory came flooding back. One Easter in the early 1980’s I made a plan with Dave, a college chum, to ride our bikes north to the Scottish border. No matter that neither of us had done any cycle touring before nor had we anything really suitable to ride. We took our steel road bikes and fitted them with carriers , mudguards and panniers. The latter, on my steed, were hand made from cotton army knapsacks lined with plastic bags. Dave lived near Southport on the Lancashire coast and I was situated a little further north in Kendal, near the Lake District. We
debated where we might start the adventure and agreed to meet midway. Dave suggested a suitable lunchtime rendezvous might be in Slaidburn, Lancashire, at the Hark to Bounty. Well, as far as I was concerned, he might as well have been talking about somewhere in the South China Sea. Where on earth was Slaidburn and what was the, curiously named, Hark to Bounty? A few weeks later, a damp drizzly morning found me cycling on a narrow strip of tarmac into unknown territory. I swear that day crossing the Bowland Hills was as much of a thrill as any subsequent foreign travels. I laboured through the mist into the unknown, across high heathery moors, disturbing grouse which exploded forth croaking “gobak, gobak, gobak!”
76 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
SLAidBURN | YHA There followed a swift descent through a rugged valley, between austere pines before I emerged from the murk into an enclave of rain-washed greenery. I swept across a bridge and was quite suddenly upon Slaidburn , tumbled unexpectedly into the very heart of the village. Behind me there stood a war memorial, to the left a youth hostel, ahead the village shop, and to the right a fine old pub, the Hark to Bounty. All lay within a stone’s throw of one another. Seated outside, under the pub’s sign, was Dave, supping a pint of bitter, his laden bike leant against the wall. Thus began my introduction to a unique village that now has a special place in my heart. As for our tour, it was a success but not at all in the way I imagined it would be. After a snowy bitter cold first night camped at Horton in Ribblesdale, Dave easily persuaded me to abandon canvas in preference for the softer beds of inns, their warm fires and tasty refreshments. Through daily sluicings of cold rain and stinging sleet we cycled north up the Pennines still hauling our now redundant tent, stove, and sleeping bags. Every day at lunchtime we squelched into a pub or hotel for beer and hot food which made the horrendous weather bearable, even laughable. Dave had the right idea and the cheque book! Thus we continued in good spirits in spite of the weather. We rode into new villages and towns, not knowing from one night to the next where we might sleep, to finally arrive at the border town of Kirk Yetholm. Warmed by these recollections I decided to renew and improve my acquaintance with Slaidburn. Accessible by a number of roads from the Settle area, Slaidburn is somewhat off the beaten track so traffic is usually modest, which adds to the cycling pleasure. Some approaches to the village flirt with the Bowland Hills, skirting them and nibbling
Top: The Hark to Bounty Left: The war memorial, Slaidburn
at the edges whilst others strike boldly into the heart of the high moors, climbing relentlessly, shedding houses, hedges, cows, pastures, signposts and hole-in-the-wall farms until you are left alone to dodge ragged sheep who, untrammelled by fence or wall, wander crazed on the high heatherbound twist of asphalt. I like best a trip to Slaidburn that combines both. By late October I begin to watch the weather carefully, ready to snatch a couple of last glowing autumnal days away on my bicycle. Finally the skies settle down and the kitchen garden no longer needed my tending hand. Planning to spend a night away in Slaidburn, I drop a tin of mackerel, some pasta shells and a bag of oatmeal into my cycle panniers. Not forgetting my toothbrush and glasses I’m now ready to wheel out Super Gal for a weekend cycle hostelling. Departing the village where I live I take the old High Road, a narrow walled lane that winds through green sheep-nibbled pastures before plunging, via Constitution Hill, into the confines of Settle market square. Here pedestrians, cars, tractors, quarry trucks, quad bikes, buses and cyclists jostle for entry and exist. Mudencrusted wellington boots rub heels with “let’s-stop-for-coffee” designer pumps and well-waxed leather hiking boots. Settle is a working town as well as a tourist destination and gateway to the Dales. Halting to purchase a pork pie from the butchers I spot a beautiful green demountable tandem parked outside the local bike shop. The captain and stoker, from the Midlands, tell me they are cycling the “Way of the Roses” coast-to-coast route having started this
morning from Lancaster rail station. Close by a muddy huddle of mountain bikers thumb a map whilst across the road a minipeloton of lycra-clad roadies are stacking their bikes outside the Naked Man Café. A few week earlier I’d spotted a pair of yellow, “his and hers”, Brompton bikes, beacons of British engineering, unfolded and fresh off the morning Leeds-Carlisle train, they kept reappearing as the couple explored back and forth on the town’s narrow streets and back alleys. I cycle out of the market square via the “narrows”, a traffic constriction resulting from the cheek-by-jowl ancient layout of the town, to cross the river Ribble, its dark waters aerated by a weir and flanked by former textile mills. Beyond the bridge and separated from Settle town by the river but so close as to appear contiguous, lies Giggleswick village. The unusual name appears in the Domesday Book as “Ghigeleswic” and most likely means the dwelling or dairy farm of a man called Gichel. “Gig”, as it’s known to locals, displays a pleasing pattern of lanes and streets centred on the 15th century St. Alkelda’s church and is overlooked by the historic Giggleswick School whose playing fields and rather stern buildings dominate the surroundings. My route through the heart of the old village passes Hearse House. This unique historic building looks like a small, ornate garage and once housed the horse drawn parish hearse. The road crosses Tems Beck and follows it for a short way. The charming stream, wavy with water weed and quacking an occasional
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SLAidBURN | YHA duck, is traversed on foot by a number of delightful flagstone clapper bridges. I arrive swiftly at the foot of Craven Bank Lane which was the first turnpike road into Settle. It is now largely forgotten and burrows upward shouldering past wooded limestone knuckles and Giggleswick School chapel. The latter, an imposing Gothic building, is copper domed and set on a prominent rocky outcrop making it a landmark for miles around. A brief respite in the steep uphill allows inspection of the school’s secluded cricket pitch and pavilion which sets me yearning for warm summer evenings. The narrow lane soars up again and the expanding view northward reveals sweet grazing and alabaster crags whilst ahead, to the south, lies sour, rushy gritstone country topped with dark, peaty moors. After carefully crossing the busy A65 I cycle along Paley Green Lane toward Giggleswick railway station. Yes, surprisingly Giggleswick has its own railway station, though set a mile distant, across open fields. I once took a rail trip south departing from Gig station and on presenting my ticket for inspection in some far flung metropolis the ticket inspector burst out laughing, “I can’t help it!” she giggled, “Fancy there being a place called Giggleswick!” At Storth Gill Bridge I turn upward heading west on a circuitous but unmissable quiet lane. I’m bound for Rome; not the Italian city but its namesake, a local farm called Rome and its neighbour, Farther Rome tucked close in by Rome Crag. Crisp leaves crunch under my wheels and flies buzz, disturbed by my passage whilst they feast on the mawkish yellow ivy flowers that clad the roadside walls. Tall beeches burnished by the sun extend a magnificent copper canopy overhead whilst below, chalky scalloped strike marks on the road surface suggest horses are nearby. I hear
their distant clip-clop and soon approach two women on horseback. I whistle a bit to give them warning. Halting to let me pass, we get chatting and I discover that the riders and horses, the latter named Tallulah and Red, are from Rome farm. Enquiring as to the origin of the farm’s name and hoping for a delectable story possibly encompassing religious mania or a torrid love affair, I’m disappointed. Tallulah’s rider declares, shaking her head “Ah don’t know, p’raps summat t’do wi’ a Roman camp nearby?” Even more curious to me is that two miles away, lies Israel Farm. What was going on around here? Anyway, I delight in their names and two more treasures are yet to come as I pedal toward the uppermost
Above: The King’s House, YHA Left: Plaque outside the King’s House
pastures. Here are the farmsteads of Lower and Higher Wham. These were Norse settlements, the folk preferring the more rugged hill country and the name, Wham, is derived from a Norse word for an area of temporary summer hill grazing. Appropriately enough the farms lie along Wham Lane which, having reached the high moor, now turns and passes through a closed gate. The lane, weeping iron stained tears, weaves between damp rushes and coarse boulders before crossing the peaty waters of Dubs Beck and pausing for another closed gate. Ahead and now walled in, the lane ambles amongst high fields giving lovely views of the Pennine giants: flat-topped Ingleborough and prow-like Pen-y-Ghent to the north. Southward across Rathmell Common peep the massed conifer tops of Gisburn Forest largely obscured by squelching acres of upland peat bog punctuated by rocky excrescences that culminate in lonely Whelp Stone Crag. I re-cross Dubs Beck at a favourite small bridge where I always stop for a fig roll and I munch away perched on the parapet admiring the dark waters carefully channelled between hand built walls. So much craftsmanship went into the landscape a generation or more ago when many more folk made a living in the countryside. I’ve halted here on hot sunny afternoons, thirsty and sun-baked and also late at night in bitter frosts with stars vaulted overhead and pitch-black ponies stamping nearby. Seeming to most people a detour via nowhere, cars are absent and the lane is left to walkers, horses, and cyclists who may admire the red berried rowans that embellish the verges.
78 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
SLAidBURN | YHA There are signs of modernity in this ancient landscape. Not long ago a major gas pipeline tore through the fields heaving down walls, muddying roads, severing footpaths and carving a gargantuan trench. Nature has quickly healed the damage but other innovations such as windmills, mobile phone towers and the ubiquitous plasticwrapped silage now dot the landscape. The high point now past on my detour, I freewheel downhill away from Upper and Lower Sheep Wash Farms following the strengthening waters of Dubs Beck which becomes Rathmell Beck, flowing toward the site of a former sawmill. Swooping into the beck bottom I switch direction sharply and start climbing back up toward Gisburn Forest on Hesley Lane whose wooded dank walls are shaggy with moss and crusted with leafy lichens. Higher up amongst open grazing again I rattle across silted-up cattle grids, passing trim farmyards and others whose outpouring of rusted cars, expired engines, and mouldering bales threatens to swamp the way ahead. Hesley Lane becomes Higher Road which in turn morphs into Longtons Lane, delivering me to the few dwellings clustered around the elevated crossroads at Tosside. A flurry of activity nearby at the Dog and Partridge pub catches my eye. Some muddied and sweating mountain bikers wash their bikes and sprawl on benches behind the pub where a café and shop dedicated to their needs has sprung up. Others, newly arrived, pump tyres and assemble gear before scrunching off vigorously into Gisburn Forest whose massed trees stretch like a rumpled green blanket to the north-west. It is the largest forest in Lancashire and has become an immensely popular destination for offroad cyclists. Although a relatively recent creation, its emerald ranks have swarmed far across marginal farmland, exchanging the acres of wet rushy pasture for secluded
Above: Facilities at Tosside Below: Tallulah and Red
songbird glades, dark forbidding pineneedled plantations, knotty oaks and quiet winding trails. The forest’s summer time ditches, twitch pinkly with ragged robin chaperoned by slender birches amongst whose roots, in season, bilberries fruit and heather blooms. At night the stars crowd above the wooded rides and their sharp piny scent mixes deliciously with occasional draughts of sweet-smelling honeysuckle, treating the nose of passing nocturnal cyclists to a unique olfactory experience. I continue my journey, pedalling along the quiet B-road toward Slaidburn, now a few miles distant. Westward the Bowland fells bulk across the horizon and I make rapid progress over exposed hilltops before a swift descent into softer, greener, tree-studded surroundings. Here I find Slaidburn village nestled against the River Hodder and after crossing the bridge, I turn up a slight incline and pause to pay my respects at the sombre war memorial. Wheeling my bike a few yards further on delivers me to the centre of the village between the hallowed trinity: the Hark to Bounty pub, the King’s House hostel and the village shop. Each a few strides from the other and all in architectural harmony. As the day is drawing to a close I park my bike
round the back of the hostel and nip to the shop, passing through the green doors to purchase bread, broccoli and milk plus a couple of local postcards. The village shop does a particularly good postcard of the war memorial set against a curious cirrusstruck sky. The King’s House belongs to the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) and stands opposite the shop on the busiest corner of Slaidburn, at the junction of its two principal thoroughfares, Church Street and Chapel Street. The hostel building appears outwardly rather bland due to the later addition of a cement rendering but inside is a wealth of character. It was formerly the Black Bull Inn for at least a couple of hundred years but it stands on one of the oldest inhabited sites in the village, dating back over a thousand years. The proprietors in 1768 were the Winders, one of whom, Peter, was a Dogwhipper at the nearby church. In those days farmers took their working dogs with them when attending church services. Peter Winder was paid an annual salary to keep any unruly dogs in order during service and to expel strays. The former inn retains its cobbled yard, cobbles being nearly universal once, giving good drainage and a firm surface in wet weather. Flanking the yard are former stables (one is now the cycle store), wooden outdoor benches, and a large circular concrete feature. I puzzled over the latter for some time before learning it was used for re-setting the metal bands on carriage wheels. Nearby, overhead, is an unusual projecting roof which once served to shelter passengers, arriving by carriage, from inclement weather. A back door in the main building opens onto a large sunken kitchen into which I descend to stash my food and get a brew on. The way through into the main building is still locked but it will be opened shortly (at 5pm) by the warden. Meantime, holding a mug of hot tea I wander back out to the front to watch folk stopping by the shop for last minute purchases. On the front of the King’s House, bathed in warm evening sun, I notice a small metal plaque which reads: “This youth hostel is one of many in this country and abroad where young people, regardless of race or creed, may spend the night. The buildings are diverse in character but they have a common purpose: to help all, especially young people of limited means, to a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside.” I find myself stirred by the sentiment and whilst by no means young anymore and in possession of modest financial means, I recall the pleasure this hostel has given me during my outdoor adventures over the last decade, both by bicycle and on foot. So, with a tin of mackerel to look forward to, we leave Tim’s reminisces, until next time.
www.cyclingworldmag.com | Cycling World 79
Reviews Wayne’s Tour – A Big Bloke’s Tour de France Wayne Howard | Inspiring Excellence in conjunction with Writersworld Ltd | ISBN 9780956953209 | 287 Pages £XX.XX
ayne Howard was an Inspector with Lancashire Constabulary until his retirement in 2004. Motivated to dream up and carry out his project of cycling the Year 2000 Tour de France Route at the end of his service he decided to dedicate the ride to the memory of two colleagues with whom he had served at the Constabulary Training Centre, Keith Butterworth and Mark Jukes, who had both sadly lost their fight against “The Big C.” He did the Tour also to fundraise for the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, which provides additional facilities and equipment for Cancer Patients in units throughout Lancashire and South Cumbria, and in this he was exceptionally successful managing to raise £10,700 for this registered charity. For every copy of the book sold additionally a further donation of £1.00 goes to Rosemere. Wayne subtitles his book “A Big Bloke’s
Tour de France” and given that he stands over six feet and has the build you might expect of a former successful wrestler and ball player this is a fair description. Add to that that he was not in the first flush of youth when he started his Tour, has a “glass back” and knee problems and previously had no experience of real mountain climbing on a bike and you begin to understand the magnitude of the task he set himself. Wayne’s book takes you through all the stages from how he got the idea, set about getting a suitable bike, trained, raised sponsorship, organised transport and support and then tacked the gruelling ride with its killer climbs, extreme weather conditions and long days in the saddle while suffering “saddle sores” and dehydration at the same time trying to cope with the problems of navigation and route finding in France, Switzerland and Germany.
He is honest about his feelings both physical and emotional while doing the six week ride and does not attempt to gloss over any “relationship difficulties” he had with his volunteer driver and supporter Andy Ogilvie, who I feel must have had the patience of saint at times! The book is good - but Be Warned Wayne is a Motivational Coach with a liking for puns and word play and his writing style reflects this…in Spades. Gerry Frisby
The Tour De France…To The Bitter End Edited by Richard Nelsson | Guardian Books | ISBN 9780852653364 | 362 Pages £9.99
his hefty paperback is drawn from sports reporting in The Guardian and The Observer and includes articles dating from 1903 until mid way through 2012; articles by such legendary writers and characters such as Christopher Brasher, Michael Davie, Geoffrey Nicholson, William Fotheringham, Richard Williams, Phil Ligget and, of course, “Jock” Wadley are included. The publisher’s press release introduces the book with the words “Drawn straight from the pages of the Guardian and the Observer, this is a comprehensive history of The Tour as it happened, from humble beginnings to doping scandals…” and this is indeed a fair summary of the book and its contents. As well as a history of The Tour for its fans, I also found this book an interesting history of the styles of sports writing, the changes in Britons attitudes to Continentals, and the increased knowledge of and growth of interest in European Road Cycling generally as well as The Tour in particular – in the early pieces featured in this book each writer found it necessary to introduce his article with a paragraph explaining what the Tour
was, and what the terms, such as Peloton and Domestique meant to a Britain more interested in Test Match Cricket and Football than in road cycling. Times do change…and some of the descriptions of our French neighbours characteristics and mannerisms would not now be considered correct or acceptable. That said each article is a piece of history written at the time and to my mind merits its inclusion in a comprehensive work. As well as chapters covering results and well known episodes from the Tour’s history there are a lot of articles of more general interest such as “How Paris Saw The Finish” dated 1933, coverage of the first British Team to compete in 1955, a report on Jacques Anquetil’s victory in 1957 when Reg Harris came in third, a lengthy piece entitled “Drug Pedalling” from 1964, contemporary articles on Simpson’s Death in 1967, a very interesting piece on Team Raleigh’s extraordinary success in 1978 and the implication this had for Raleigh’s continental Sales…and so much more. This book was published in 2012 and almost the last featured article is titled “Case
Closed: Armstrong’s Record Will Be Left for History To Judge” when the U.S.A.’s official enquiry into doping was prematurely ended on grounds of cost…since then of course events have moved on dramatically and history has indeed had its verdict. For the amount of good reading this book provides on cycling’s historic moments the price is low and the value high. Definitely a book for anyone with a serious interest in cycling. Gerry Frisby
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outer hebrides | CYCLE TOURs
hebrideAN hoPsCotCh Mike Smailes shows the easy route to island hopping in the Outer Hebrides
Above: Horgabost, Harris Right: Howmore, South Uist
he first time I pedalled across the nine islands that are crossed during the journey between Stornoway, on Lewis, and Castlebay, on Barra, I did it the hard way. I stayed in hostels, rough-camped on beaches and ascended hills at snail’s pace with my heavily laden recumbent trike. At the end of the week, having had to schlep back to the starting point, I needed another holiday to recover. As an overweight sixty-something holiday marketeer who wants to stop for an occasional cigar and prefers a clean, fresh bed at night, I resolved to make life easier, not just for casual cyclists like myself, but also for committed cycle touring fanatics. The result is Hebridean Hopscotch’s “Freedom of the Isles” bike holiday programmes, which include rented bikes specially selected for suitability to the
journey, comfortable overnight stops at sensible distances apart, pre-paid ferry travel (plus air tickets if required) and a complete itinerary package booked by expert local travel advisors. If, like me, you’re not so keen on struggling up slopes, you can opt to travel on a Woosh bike with an efficient electric crank-drive motor to assist you for forty or more miles on a single charge. On the other hand, if you prefer to ride your own cycle, the holiday company will happily supply the packages without the bike rental. On a typical Hebridean Hopscotch bike holiday, you would begin with a seventyfive minute flight from Glasgow to the Isle of Barra. This is an experience in itself. The Twin Otter aircraft seats only fifteen passengers and you can enjoy amazing views of Scottish highlands and lochs. After
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outer hebrides | CYCLE TOURs
Top Right Woosh Sirocco
a short sea crossing the island comes into view as your pilot circles and gently lands on the hard packed sand of the world’s only beach airport that handles scheduled flights – where the runways of this huge beach are washed twice a day by the tide. Your bikes are waiting at your hotel or guest-house and at least one full day of touring Barra is essential to appreciate the island, which has a population of a little over a thousand. A complete circuit of the island’s single track ‘main’ coast road is around thirteen miles. On it you pass through about half a dozen little villages and settlements, each with its tiny harbour and a mix of old and new cottages nestling by the sea. The eastern coast is mostly rocky, with many inlets where the sea is usually calm. To reach the west coast, there’s a gradual climb up and down Barra’s central highland ridge before you reach the sandy beaches that receive the pounding Atlantic surf. There are several short diversions that may be taken from the main road, where you can discover more villages, sandy beaches and coves, as well as the causeway to the Outer Hebrides southernmost inhabited island, Vatersay ,
Below: Fishermans Mass Sunday, Castlebay, Barra
population under 100. From Barra, you take a forty minute ferry crossing to the island of Eriskay. Like all the other Outer Hebridean ferry journeys, this is a highlight of the holiday, especially on a calm sunny day with seals basking on the rocks, gannets diving for fish and, if you’re lucky, dolphins providing even more entertainment. On arrival at Eriskay, which is even smaller than Barra, your first challenge is the steep (though thankfully short) hill between the ferry terminal and the village – it’s a breeze with an electric bike, but some serious pushing with any other. In summer, Eriskay is awash with wildflowers, especially on the machair by its long sandy beach, and is a lovely place
to wander and perhaps enjoy refreshment at the Politician Inn, named after the ship that foundered here, giving inspiration for the story and film, Whisky Galore. From Eriskay, a mile-long causeway connects to South Uist, a gently undulating island with some high hills forming a spine along its twenty-seven miles of length. There’s plenty to see, including the white shell sand beaches that run along almost the entire west coast, fascinating crofting country with mysterious ruins and a small township at the centre, Lochboisdale. Between ferry sailing times, the road at this southern end of the Uists is especially quiet, making for a delightful ride alongside the Sound of Barra with its small sandy beaches and tiny hamlets.
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outer hebrides | CYCLE TOURs
Hebridean Hopscotch offers a choice of accommodation from bed and breakfast to full-blown hotel in this area if you want to spend some extra time here. Until you reach Lewis, the road is still single lane for much of the journey – you’ll find that motor traffic is extremely light and drivers are generally very respectful of cyclists, waiting patiently in passing places for you to get by. Of course, if motorists come up behind you on narrow roads, you should pull into the next passing place for them to overtake. One of my favourite Hebridean villages, Howmore, is just off the main road in South Uist. There are several delightful traditional thatched cottages, an historic Church of Scotland kirk in original condition, plus a spectacular Atlantic beach. It’s a reminder to me that any – perhaps every - side road is worth exploring and you’ll find villages, harbours, moorlands and wildlife that car drivers and their passengers just pass by. The ever changing views of coast and countryside distract the cyclist’s mind from the frequent ups and downs while the
whispering motors of the electric assisted Woosh bikes take away the effort of uphill or against the wind pedalling. Even I can easily average 15mph without breaking sweat and almost before I know it, I’m crossing the next causeway onto the island of Benbecula. It’s one of the flattest islands, mainly agricultural and a haven for bird life where you should keep an eye out for owls that fly during the day. Some cyclists decide to journey from Barra to Benbecula or just beyond in a single day and there are several excellent accommodation choices in this area. Moving further north over another causeway to North Uist, you’ll find that the countryside changes again. Although road gradients are never particularly steep, some seem to me to be a little higher than South Uist, so you will experience more sweeping views of the sea from the tops and enjoy some gentle downhill runs. There’s a choice of roads around North Uist, one being the Uists’ equivalent of a motorway, a smooth two track highway that traverses the moors with a tiring gradient direct to the township
Above: The stones at Callanish, Isle of Lewis Bottom Left: We want a go, too! Bottom Right: Luskentyre Beach
of Lochmaddy, while the other, which I favour runs up the scenic west coast, with a couple of great stopping points. First is the RSPB reserve at Balranald, where you have every chance of hearing the rasping calls of the Corncrake but very little chance of actually seeing this furtive bird that visits from Africa between April and August. The hills behind Balranald are eagle country and you may cut a corner by riding over them on the narrow ‘committee’ road – I’ve seen golden eagles there on most occasions that I used this road, as well as occasional owls and harriers. Continuing along the coastal route, a super place to stop and picnic is the sandy beach at Balemartin, where there’s plenty of shelter in the dunes of the machair and great view out towards the uninhabited Monach islands. Further on, after passing a couple of small villages and picking up refreshment from the Co-op (never assume there’ll always be a shop just around the corner), your route to the next ferry is well signposted. I always enjoy these final few miles of North Uist, as the road winds past distant views of sandy shores through crofting country that’s still actively farmed. Lapwings soar in the sky and there’s just a chance of catching sight of an otter in one of the small lochans. Berneray is reached by yet another causeway. The beaches are magnificent on this island and you can ride to all of them in no more than an hour. Taking the CalMac ferry from Berneray to Harris is one of the
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JUMP ON OUR BIKE ...bike hire inclusive holidays in the magical Outer Hebrides - with electric bike option, too
Try something different - a complete cycling holiday from one end of the Outer Hebrides to the other, including bike hire and great hospitality at the end of every day (electric-assisted bikes also available). pp We’ll book your accommodation and ferry travel - we even book flights from Glasgow, too, if you wish. If you prefer a flydrive car holiday or to come by ferry with your own car and/or bike, you’ll be equally welcome. For more information call one of our expert local travel advisors or see our website, www.hebrideanhopscotch.com. nights from
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England’s most northerly bicycle shop We’re at the northern end of NCN Route 68, Pennine Cycleway, midway on NCN Route 1, Coast and Castles South and near the Border Loop and Tweed Cycleway
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outer hebrides | CYCLE TOURs interesting points of every island-hopping holiday and even after dozens of trips, I still enjoy the crossing. There’s something special about watching one land recede while the next approaches. The ferry weaves its way between rocky islands through shallow, sheltered waters for an hour - yet there’s only seven miles between start and finish points. Look out for seals on the rocks. Leverburgh is a sensible stopping off point during the journey (with the benefit of being able to sample wonderful fish and chips at the Anchorage restaurant), before continuing the ride past the Harris beaches. These are ranked among the world’s best, especially Luskentyre, which is a huge, sheltered expanse of white shell-sand, backed by dunes and machair, nestled between high hills and reached by a delightful lane from the main road. Beyond the beaches, the main road climbs gradually for about 3 miles through a rugged, rock strewn area, before it topples over the summit to reveal dramatic open views down to the small port town of Tarbert and to the Isle of Skye on the horizon. The elevation is only 400 feet, but with the barren landscape, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re on a mountain top. Swoop down the next five miles with hardly a pedal-turn, even on a non-electric bike, to arrive at the township with its quaint shops and a few eating places. After spending a night or two exploring around Tarbert, it’s time to cross the mountain pass to Lewis. At 2600 feet the Clisham just qualifies to be called a mountain but the pass rises to only about 600 feet – it’s a stiff climb but the ride down
Above: Harris, west coast Bottom Left: Nisabost, Harris Bottom Right: Exploring Berneray
the other side, with more amazing views over the lochs, is a real highlight of the whole journey. On this final leg of the journey to Stornoway the road through rolling moorland is all two-track and is punctuated by several ancient relics of the Norse invasion, plus a seven mile detour to the stone circles of Callanish. The main circle is older and more dramatically situated than the more famous Stonehenge and you can experience the mystery through touch, as well as sight. Just a few more miles, then downhill into the islands’ capital, Stornoway, which is the last stop – with plenty of bars and restaurants to celebrate after dropping the bikes off at the Hebridean Hopscotch office. A flight home via Stornoway’s modern and miniature airport terminal is by far the quickest and easiest return, but there are also ferries to the mainland, connecting with road and rail links from Inverness, for those with more time to spare, perhaps to reflect on this cycling adventure of a lifetime.
inFOrMaTiOn Hebridean Hopscotch Holidays is based in Stornoway and offers complete, individually arranged holidays including transport and accommodation for travellers by air, car, bike and on foot. More information may be found at www.hebrideanhopscotch.com or by calling 0845 230 1236. The bikes: Revolution Pathfinder bikes are supplied for those who want to put in all the effort. Based loosely on a mountain bike style, they’re a little more upright to give a more relaxing ride and better opportunities to enjoy the views. For guests preferring an easier ride, the Woosh Sirocco CD mountain/tourer style bike has been chosen for its extended range battery and smooth power delivery directly at the crank. All bikes are hired with panniers, helmets and basic tools.
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national parks | CYCLING routes
national Parks Britain’s Breathing spaces
hether you’re a Raphainspired MAMIL or a weather-beaten veteran tourer, a training-wheels newbie or a hell-on-wheels mountain biker, some of the UK’s best cycling is to be found within the boundaries of its National Parks. The diverse terrain and
EASY RIDES... Old Logging Way, Cairngorms National Park The Cairngorms is perhaps best known for its rugged landscapes, but tucked amongst the mountain range are moorland, farmland, the UK’s most extensive remnants of Caledonian pine forest, and a number of other spots perfect for a more relaxed pedalling experience. A good place to start is the newly opened Old Logging Way -- a 3.5mile traffic-free route between Aviemore and Glenmore. The route takes you through forests and lochs, with views of the Cairngorms in the background. And for those feeling a little less enthusiastic about tackling hills, the Cairngorms National Park is currently in the process of establishing an Electric Bicycle Network around the park.
scenery offer challenges and joys to suit anyone on two wheels, and National Park authorities are increasingly throwing their full support behind this sustainable mode of transportation. The possibilities for routes are practically limitless but in honour of National Parks Week 2013 (which takes place from 29 July
to 4 August) we’ve put together a list of some of our favourites. The selections go from easy routes suitable for families, to trails that will test the physical integrity of both yourself and your bike. For additional information and specific web links to all of the places mentioned, visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk/top15-cycle-rides
from the route, which also connects with National Cycle Route 27. Clyde and Loch Lomond Cycleway, Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park A 20-mile traffic-free route, the Clyde and Loch Lomond Cycleway runs from Glasgow to the shores of Loch Lomond, taking in iconic sights such as the docks at Clydebank and Dumbarton Castle. With a number of railway stops along the route, it can be broken into even smaller, more manageable sections.
Below: In the Peak District
Tissington Trail, Peak District National Park A leg of the 2014 Tour de France is set to be run in the Peak District, with organisers suggesting two of its hill climbs will be the toughest of the tour. But cycling the Peak District isn’t all challenge. Covering 13 miles of traffic-free pedalling on a former railway line, the Tissington Trail is a relaxed route for cyclists of all abilities. Hire bikes at Parsley Hay or Ashbourne or bring your own. Visit historic Tissington along the way. Public toilets and snacks stops are to be found on the route as well.
Brunel Trail, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park: An easy 4-mile stretch of the considerably longer Celtic Trail, the entirely traffic-free Brunel Trail is a perfect place for a family to stretch its cycling legs. Beginning at the Neyland Marina, the trail’s occasional gentle inclines run alongside the Cleddau estuary, through the Westfield Pill Nature Reserve toward Johnston and onwards. The route is part of NCR4 and continues traffic free to Haverfordwest, a distance of some eight and a half-miles. Granite Way, Dartmoor National Park Accessible by train and with cycle hire available on the trail, the 6-mile Granite Way is an ideal family day out. The route is mostly traffic-free and traverses the Meldon Viaduct, offering incredible views of the surrounding countryside. A number of additional trails split off
©Peak District National Park Authority
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national parks | CYCLING routes
A LITTLE MORE CHALLENGING...
National Cycle Network Route 2, New Forest National Park With much of New Forest National Park in a 40 mph zone, National Cycle Network Route 2 offers a relatively relaxed experience. Additionally, much of the route stays to quiet country lanes. Set off from Southampton just for the ferry ride across the River Test and see how far your legs will carry you. The route crosses train lines to carry you back to civilisation at Beaulieu Road and Brockenhurst. Exmoor Cycle Route, Exmoor National Park Covering a 60-mile circular tour of Exmoor’s undulating scenery, the Exmoor Cycle Route was the same used in the 2007 Tour of Britain, during the South West stage of the race. Filled with steep climbs through the National Park’s combes, each effort is rewarded with spectacular views. On a particularly clear day, one can see all the way to Brecon Beacons National Park, in Wales. Three Rivers Loop, The Broads Accessible from Reedham Railway Station, the 20-mile Three Rivers Loop incorporates views of the Waveney, Yare and Chet rivers. Sticking mostly to quiet country lane, the route takes in a number of sites -such as the Reedham Ferry, one of the few remaining chain ferries in the country -- as well as affording ample opportunity to stop at a village pub. The route is ideal for bird watchers in the spring and autumn.
Moor to Sea Cycle Route, North York Moors National Park Saddle up for the North York Moors’ flagship, long-distance bike route. Connecting Scarborough, Whitby, Dalby Forest, Pickering and Great Ayton in a stunning series of moorland, forest, and coastal loops; there are around 150 miles to explore. But the route is split into 11 separate sections, so you can devise your own itinerary. Most of the route is comprised of quiet roads, woodland tracks and bridleways.
South Downs Way, South Downs National Park Don’t be surprised to find yourself washing mud from your gears after cycling from one end of the South Downs to the other on an almost completely off-road track. Stretching from the ancient cathedral city of Winchester in the west, first capital of England, through to the white chalky cliffs of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head at Eastbourne in the east, the South Downs Way is easy to tackle in short sections or, for the energetic, in one 100-mile adventure.
Above: In the North Yorkshire Moors Left: The Broads
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national parks | CYCLING routes
THE TOUGH STUFF... Lôn Las Cymru, Brecon Beacons National Park Lôn Las Cymru, aka National Cycle Route 8, runs the length of Wales, from Cardiff to Holyhead. Start at Merthyr Tydfil railway station and make your way to the village of Pencelli, about 16 miles into the Brecon Beacons. This was one of the routes favoured by gold-medal road cyclist Nicole Cooke as she trained for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Push yourself to Cooke’s standard or stop for a pint at the Royal Oak in Pencelli before making your way back. The route takes in some of the most iconic views in the Brecon Beacons, including Pen y Fan and Corn Du. Two Valleys Route, Yorkshire Dales National Park There comes that point in every cyclist’s life when he or she imagines themselves winning the Tour de France. Don’t say you haven’t; everyone has. A perfect place to act out that fantasy is the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where the first leg of ‘Le Tour’ will be staged in July 2014. The Two Valleys is a cracking 33-mile road route comprised primarily of two long, steep climbs and fast descents that are a test of both your legs and your brakes. You’ll need to provide your own yellow jersey, but the breathtaking scenery is a prize in and of itself. Reivers Route, Northumberland National Park The famous Reivers Route runs the width of Northern England, from Tynemouth to Whitehaven -- a coast-to-coast journey of 170-180 miles, depending on who you ask. Manageable in a day or two is the stretch that sees you running from Bellingham, on the eastern border of Northumberland National Park, to Kielder, on the western border. On the return journey, swing to the north side of Kielder Water and make your way back to Bellingham via a network of paths and country lanes.
Altura Trail, Lake District National Park Whinlatter Forest, in the northwest corner of Lake District National Park holds the distinction of being England’s only mountain forest. Which, of course, makes it ideal for mountain biking. The red grade Altura Trail throws some 11 miles of challenges your way and takes you 1,600 feet above nearby Keswick. Expect incredible views of Derwent water, Bassenthwaite and Skiddaw. Head to the nearby Whinlatter Visitor Centre for advice on where to fuel up before and after your ride. Penmachno Trail, Snowdonia National Park: In the late 1200s, Edward I built a string of castles in North Wales, hoping to bend locals to his will. More than 700 years later, Edward is dead and his castles crumbling, but the Welsh language, culture and spirit remain. Especially in Snowdonia. A glance at the landscape lets you know people here are indefatigable; they like doing things the hard way. And few things are harder, tougher and more bone-rattling than the Penmachno mountain biking trail. Pack some ibuprofen and all the courage you can muster for more than 18 miles of single track, pitched stone, boardwalk, bum-clenching descents and muscle-
burning climbs. The pay off, though, is an almost scandalous abundance of postcard views. Your pint at the Eagles pub afterward will be well-deserved. Even more cycling information can be found on the National Parks website (www. nationalparks.gov.uk/top15-cycle-rides), as well as information on events and activities taking place during National Parks Week. Merrell are official partner of The UK National Parks. As manufacturers of footwear and outdoor apparel, much of their gear will appeal to the cyclist who also likes to trek, hike and ramble. www.merrell.com/UK
Above: High in the Brecon Beacons Left: Lakeland Whinlatter
DISCOVER SOMETHING NEW DURING UK NATIONAL PARKS WEEK WITH MERRELL Win a pair of his and her Merrell Chameleon hiking boots! This year’s UK National Parks Week theme is ‘Actively Yours’ (29 July – 4 August 2013), and with the help of official partner Merrell, we are encouraging you to get outside and seek new adventures. To ensure you are up to the task and look the part, Merrell will kit you out in his and hers top of the range outdoor footwear including, a pair of Men’s Chameleon 5 Mid Ventilator GORE- TEX™ and a pair of Women’s Cham Arc 2 Rival Waterproof from Merrell’s spring/summer 2013 collection. How to enter: To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the following question: How many National Parks are there in the UK?
Please send a postcard to Cycling World Magazine Ltd, Crown House, John Roberts Business Park, Pean Hill, Nr Whitstable, Kent CT5 3BJ or alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org with your answer. Closing date 31st July 2013. Terms and Conditions Merrell reserves the right to exchange the listed apparel prizes for other Merrell apparel of an equal price.
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T HE GREAT C YC L E & STEAM ADV E EAM NT URE! Severn Valley THE G RE AT C YC L E & ST Severn Valley Cycle Challenge THE GRE ATCycle C Challenge YCLE & EAM P o Severn wST e r t hValley ro u g h t h e S e ve r n Va l l e y b y b i ke a n d t r a i n tNT oCycle r a i Challenge sURE e f u n d s !f o r y o u r l o c a l c h i l d r e n ’ s h o s p i c e . A DV E ADVE NT URE !C THE GREAT CYC LE & STEAM Y C EA P o w eTHE r t h r o uG g hR t hEAT e S e v eT r nH V aE l l eL yE bR y& b i kST e a nC d Y t rM a i nL E & S TEAM G EAT C P o w e r t h r o u g h tt ho e r Sa ei svee rf nu nVdasl l ef oy r byyo bu irk el o ac na dl ct hr ial idnr e n ’ s h o s p i c e . ADVENTURE! Severn t o r a iValley s e f u n d s f o r y o u r l o c a l cA h iDV l d r e nEN ’s hT o sU p i cR e . E! A DV EN T U R E! Severn Valley Severn Valley Cycle Challenge Cycle Challenge
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0844 984 0405 40 MILES | 20 MILES | 10 MILES 0844 984 0 4 0In5par tne rshi p wi th: In p a r t n er sh ip w i th: www. aco rn s . o rg . u k / cycl e 0844 984 0405 Re g is te re d o f f ice : D ra ke s C o u r t , A l c e s t e r R o a d , Wy t h a l l , B i r mi n g h a m B 4 7 6 JR . Te l e p h o n e : 0 1 5 6 4 8 2 5 0 0 0 . R e g i s t e re d c h a r i t y n o. 7 0 0 8 5 9
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In par tnership with: Registe re d office: Drake s Cour t, Alcester Road, Wythall, Birmingham B47 6JR. Telephone: 01564 825000. Registered charity no. 700859 Registered office: Drake s Cour t, Alceste r Road, Wythall, Birmingham B47 6JR. Telephone: 01564 825000. Registered charity no. 700859
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‘Leading Bike’ is changing the denition of a cycling holiday cool comfort, star cuisine, and Dolomite wonders for classy cycling! HOTEL LA PERLA . Str. Col Alt 105, 39033 Corvara . Alta Badia . Dolomites . Italia tel. +39.0471.831.000 - fax +39.0471.836.568 - email@example.com - www.hotel-laperla.it
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Vintage Vacations Aged for ten years for a fuller flavour …
A whole field of retro caravans” became the vision of Helen and Frazer Cunningham, as their hobby became their full-time occupation. The first of them, a 1965 Tradewind Airstream arrived in 2004 and there are now eighteen American and British classic caravans providing accommodation for discerning visitors to the Isle of Wight. Things haven’t stopped there. Always on the look-out for interesting properties the portfolio now includes “The Mission” a colourful “tin tabernacle” chapel dating from 1895 with a “building within a building” including an original 1950s “English Rose” kitchen. Helen and Frazer put heart and soul into providing a really retro-style holiday home with plenty of comfort. Larger groups can hire “The Scout Hall”, at the same time as “The Mission”, which has also been restored using original materials and colours, with the interior being converted into four bedroomed, two bath-roomed, accommodation with an open plan living area. You’ll be getting the idea by now that Vintage Vacations will make your accommodation as much fun as your cycling. Where else could you experience
“Lo-fi fun” in “The Meadow” with “Doris” and a good old bell-tent? “The Shack” is hidden away, with power from solar panels, wind-up lanterns and radio and no electrical socket. Sounds like the perfect place to escape editorial e.mails. The website is full of information, though the location of “The Shack” is kept secret, and is an entertaining read, too. Vintage Vacations also team up for some special events such as; a cook-out with gourmet American street food and “retro yoga” are on offer and there are, of course, numerous other events, festivals and activities on the island. “Our Airstream site is ten minutes cycle from Ryde Hover and Fastcat ferry services and twenty minutes from Fishbourne car ferry terminal,” says Helen, adding that, “We can offer single night B&B stays for those passing through or longer stays for
those wishing to explore the island from an unusual ‘base camp’.” Secure bike storage can be arranged. The site is also close to the main cycle routes, including the “Cycle the Wight” round the island route. Helen and Frazer recommend that, “If your thighs can take the hills, Ventnor is top of our list - great independent shops and places to eat. Vintage-lovers should check out Havenstreet Steam Railway and the Donald McGill postcard museum at Ryde - both within easy reach of our Airstream site.” This is Vintage Vacations tenth season. You can join them for a jolly hol and look back in happiness.
INFORMATION firstname.lastname@example.org 07802 758113 Proprietors; Helen and Frazer Cunningham The Airstream Site is at Hazelgrove Farm, Ashey Road, Ashey, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 4BD.
92 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
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FOREST HOLIDAYS | HOLIDAYS
T Above Left: Having a welldeserved rest outside of the cabin before soaking those muscles in the hot tub. Above Right: A Forest Holiday is the perfect getaway to combine cycling and relaxation Below Left: Relax in your own private hot tub after a day out on your bike Below Centre: The luxury cabins at Cropton are a great base for exploring Dalby Forest
hough all Forest Holidays sites have wonderful forest trails for cycling nearby, for a seriously fun mountain biking holiday, stay at one of the North Yorkshire sites and explore the nearby world-class Dalby Forest trails. And as a Cycling World reader, you can save money on booking your break with a special reader offer... A Forest Holiday is one where you can relax in natural surroundings; where you have the freedom to discover the great outdoors and spend quality time with your family and friends. All of the luxury cabins are set exclusively in idyllic Forestry Commission estates, offering acres of beautiful woodland to explore in each of its unique locations. The forest at Keldy changes dramatically with the seasons, from yellows and greens in the spring, to deep blues and greens in the summer, through to the rich reds and golds of autumn. Cabins at Cropton are set in the heart of the Cropton Forest with its mix of woodland and open glades. Both Cropton and Keldy are only a short drive away from mountain biking haven, Dalby Forest. Dalby Forest boasts miles of expertly sculpted technical singletrack, for the ultimate
mountain biking experience. Trails range from the Adderstone or Ellerburn Cycle Trails, rated ‘green’ (suitable for beginners) to the World Cup Trail and Dixon’s Hollow Bike Park, both rated ‘black’ (expert only), with blue and red trails in between, to suit the whole range of mountain-biking ability. Local company Chasing Trails also offers mountain bike skills courses and training days, for all abilities, in either small group or 1:1 settings. They also offer wheel-building courses, should you want the satisfaction of riding wheels you’ve actually built yourself. Come back after your expeditions and relax in your stunning timber-framed cabin, or take in the wonderful views of the forest from your own private hot tub. Every site also has a Forest Retreat retail outlet selling high-quality local produce, hot snacks, breakfasts, and speciality coffee, so you won’t have to go out again to stock up on the essentials. It’s also a lovely place to relax in front of a burning log fire. If, after the excitement of Dalby, you’re up for further adventures, both Keldy and Cropton have a dedicated Forest Ranger who delivers a unique programme of activities, tailored for different age groups. From Night Vision to Forest Survival, Forest Ranger
activities provide both little and grown-up guests with fun and informative activities based around the forest environment. And for adventure-seekers, active adventures such as canoeing, pony trekking, kayaking, archery, caving, and orienteering can be booked through the Forest Retreat reception. Or why not take a day trip? Cycling to Whitby is easy, and you can reward yourself with those famous fish and chips when you get there… The North Yorkshire Moors offer many, many miles of great touring, too, both on road and with a mixture of rough stuff. Some of the moorland areas are very sensitive, so be gentle with the environment. On the other hand, the hills won’t be too gentle with you, so plan your route well. Eddie Grainger, doyen of North Yorkshire cycle-tourers, always described it as “young men’s country.” Don’t fret, take a look at the map and keep you height. Actually, there is plenty of good cycling for all. A 3-night weekend break in a 2-bedroom luxury Silver Birch cabin with private hot tub in Keldy, beginning Friday 8th November costs £290, only £24 per person per night. A 4-night midweek break in a 3-bedroom luxury Silver Birch cabin with private hot tub in Cropton, beginning Monday 11th November costs £274, only £17 per person per night. You can save on these prices, as Forest Holidays has a great offer for Cycling World readers. Enter FHCYCLE13 to save 10% on all cabins booked by 1 October 2013. For more information on Keldy, Cropton, or any of the other Forest Holidays sites, or to book now, visit www.forestholidays.co.uk or call 0845 130 8223.
94 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
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Journey by bicycle through lore and legend with your guide and storyteller, Andy Hunter Stories: Through stories, travel to the heart and history of the landscape. A story or two along the way each day will include myths, legends, humour and history. Tours: We cycle at a moderate pace which can be adjusted to suit the group, covering 20-30 miles in a day. 2013 Tours: Galloway: 7th - 13th July and Hadrian’s Wall: 28th July - 3rd August. Regular half-day Edinburgh tours. Sustenance: Stopping at cafes, inns or scenic sites to ensure nourishment for all the senses. “Combination of a brilliant holiday, self-reliance, low carbon, physical challenge, good company, and everything organised” Helen, Newcastle Storybikes, 22 Shandon St, Edinburgh, EH11 1QH Tel: 07762 000 039 www.storybikes.co.uk
25/06/2013 24/06/2013 14:46 11:26
VEINCARE CENTRE | HEALTHCARE
CyClINg IN ThE Blood? Even super-fit cyclists can get varicose veins, says expert Dr Haroun Gajraj
how people your varicose veins and they will probably assume you have spent the day on your backside or your feet, not your
saddle. “Get some exercise,” they might say. “Lose some weight.” And for good measure they might ask if you are pregnant, because everyone knows varicose veins are mainly a female affliction, right? Tell that to cyclist Stewart Palmer. He is fit, he is trim and he is very much a man, an Ironman in fact. He has competed in two Ironman events, which involves swimming 2.5 miles and cycling 112 miles before running a full marathon. In a typical week, the 66-year-old cycles 50 miles in the country lanes near his home in south Somerset and this year he’s gearing up to ride the Wiggle Sportive round the Isle of Wight.
Yet he is also one of my former patients. I run the VeinCare Centre, a chain of clinics across the South West of England where I deliver the latest non-surgical treatments on a walk-in, walk-out basis. When Mr Palmer walked through my door last year he had been suffering from varicose veins for more than 40 years. “Whenever I finished a long-distance ride they would really ache,” he says. “But my main problem with them was that they looked awful. Because of the tight Lycra kit with the rubber bands at the bottom of the shorts, they were really noticeable and seemed to bulge even more at the end of a ride. When my great-granddaughter saw them and said ‘yuck’ I knew I had to get them sorted.” Mr Palmer is living, breathing, cycling proof that varicose veins can affect anyone of any age, of either gender and no matter how fit and healthy they are. That’s because varicose veins are not caused by pregnancy, obesity, standing up all day or a lack of exercise (though all these factors can aggravate them). They are caused by an invisible underlying condition called superficial venous reflux. And the only known cause of superficial venous reflux is heredity. So if you do suffer from varicose veins then you almost definitely inherited the problem.
What is superficial venous reflux?
When you’re standing up, the blood in your legs has to flow uphill to get back to the heart. Your veins contain valves that open and close to allow your muscles to pump blood up the leg, defying gravity. However, in people with superficial venous reflux, these valves don’t work properly so blood falls backwards towards the feet, making the veins near the surface of the
Above: Stewart in action Left: Stewart Palmer
96 Cycling World | www.cyclingworldmag.com
VEINCARE CENTRE | HEALTHCARE skin swell and bulge. Varicose veins affect as many as one in three people at some point in life, with the risk increasing with age. But these one in three people are mainly women, aren’t they?
No. In fact one of the best scientific studies – carried out by the University of Edinburgh in 1999 on 1,566 randomly selected men and women aged 18-64 - suggests that slightly more men than women develop varicose veins. My leg veins bulge when I cycle. Have I got superficial venous reflux?
Not necessarily. Some people simply have prominent veins, but especially cyclists and other athletes with a low body fat percentage (8% or less). It is also normal for veins to bulge during exercise. As muscles swell and harden they push veins near the skin up to the surface. As a general rule, veins which are straight and around 4-5mm in diameter are not varicose. Veins which are very wiggly, bunched or greater than 5mm are varicose. If you are worried or unsure, the best thing to do is visit a clinic and have a duplex ultrasound scan which will confirm whether or not you have superficial vein reflux. My varicose veins ache/itch/throb/ look worse after a ride. Should I stop cycling?
No, not unless you want to. Just as varicose veins are not caused by a lack of exercise, neither does exercise cause them. As I’ve explained above you probably have a genetic predisposition to superficial venous reflux but cycling is unlikely to make your condition worse. Indeed cycling boosts blood circulation, which is good for leg health, though not a cure for venous reflux. However, if you are in discomfort, pain or simply unhappy with the look of your veins, you should seek professional help.
3. Wear good quality medical grade compression hosiery Not to be confused with support tights, medical stockings give a certain amount of squeeze at the ankle and progressively less up the calf and thigh – they are graduated. In this way the compression works with the vein circulation. Make sure your leg is carefully measured by a trained healthcare professional to ensure the correct compression is prescribed. What treatment is available and how can I get it?
There’s bad news and good news. The bad news is that because of NHS cutbacks, your GP will almost certainly turn you away nowadays unless you’re in severe pain, bleeding or suffering complications such as ulcers or inflammation. Even then you may well be offered ‘vein stripping’, a painful and controversial surgical procedure carried out under general anaesthetic. The good news is that over the past 10 years there have been major advances in treatments available from private clinics. All of these are walk-in, walk-out procedures that can be carried out in a clinic in as a little as a lunch break, using only local anaesthetic. When researching your options look for a clinic that offers a variety of treatments and doesn’t seem to be pushing one particular technique. Shop around for a qualified and established specialist who makes you feel comfortable, gives you an unhurried consultation and answers all your questions. In brief, the main options are: 1. Laser A thin catheter administers laser energy to heat and destroy the vein wall. Radiofrequency Ablation Heat from a radiofrequency electric current delivered via a thin catheter is used to collapse the vein walls.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr Haroun Gajraj is one of the country’s leading veins specialists with more than 25 years’ experience of treating varicose veins and other venous problems. The founder and director of the VeinCare Centre, he runs clinics across Bristol, Somerset and Dorset and is a regular speaker at venous conferences across the world. www.theveincarecentre.co.uk
2. Medical glue Medical ‘superglue’ is injected into veins, sealing them shut. This new method, still being trialled, can be done is a little as 20 minutes and patients don’t have to wear compression stockings afterwards, a major breakthrough. 3. Sclerotherapy A small needle is inserted into the refluxing vein; then foam is injected, removing the vein lining and sticking the vein walls together. Mr Palmer opted for VNUS Closure, a radiofrequency ablation procedure. “It was no more painful than a filling at the dentist,” he laughed. “The process was very simple, quick and comfortable. I wore compression stockings for a couple of weeks afterwards and stopped training for a few weeks, but then I was back on the bike. “You’d never know now to look at my legs that I’d had varicose veins. I might even enter another Ironman event next year.”
What can I do to prevent varicose veins?
While there is no known cure or prevention for varicose veins, there are various things you can do to alleviate symptoms: 1. Keep active and eat healthily Physical exercise boosts circulation which is good for leg health. Nutritionally, think of your leg circulation the same way as your heart by eating oily fish, nuts and beans and not overdoing the red meat and dairy. 2. Put your feet up Resting your legs higher than your heart for half an hour or even longer will help promote circulation. Keep rotating your ankles.
Above Inset: Dr. Haroun Gajraj
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