Saturday 17 January 2015

Cycle Training

I passed my Cycling Proficiency back in 1980, I think it was.  In those days, there was far fewer cars on the roads, less journeys made by car and they did not travel as fast.  The bike training was in the playground, around cones, and up and down.  We learned hand signals - including one for 'slowing down' which I don't think I ever used.  

The training is now called Bikeability (National Cycle Standards), and comes in levels 1-3; 1 being very basic and probably the level I did with CP.  Level 2 takes you around side streets with some talking time, demonstrations and then riding time.  Level 3 is then for the more scary stuff - roundabouts and large junctions.

Today's training is about confidence, road positioning and positive manoeuvres.  It is not just for schoolchildren and young people.  I spent some time with an instructor last year - in 50 yards I had done several things 'wrong'!  We talked over points and walked through some positions in a quiet side junction.  We then rode about a bit, before heading back to Chester (in his van) to stand and discuss roundabouts whilst nervously watching the cars fly around Hoole Roundabout.  Then we rode round it - which was (to be honest) much less scary than looking at it!

Cycle Experience is a company who deliver such training, and have been commissioned by Cheshire West and Chester Council to deliver sessions locally to us, for free.  So I arranged a couple of sessions for the ladies.

Talking to the group



...whilst being watched


more practicing

knowing when to stop and wait

talking through roundabouts

Riding roundabouts

I learned a few pointers, and it is well worth taking part in a course like this.  There may still be some courses on until the end of March 2015, check the Cycle Experience website.

I did gather some quotes from the ladies:

"Remember to look behind, look behind and look behind!"

" Do things [when riding] that make people know you are doing things"

" Very, very good [training] - enlightening"

"[the training gave] Confirmation you are doing the right thing, gives you confidence to ride with authority"

"Body language - can be seen by all road users"

"valuable to understand why we do something"

"Good to get some individual feedback [on riding]"

Saturday 10 January 2015

Girls in the Gales

Janaury, and a happy new year to you all.  Last month was cancelled, so when this month's ride date approached and the weather began to turn windy, with stormy gales, I did wonder if we would be able to ride.  Several people dropped out, including a few leaders; but a stalwart 12 made it to the cafe, and I changed my plans according to the weather.

The original plan had been to go to the Boat Museum in Ellesmere Port; but the direction of the wind would have been across us there and back, so with the aid of a rather groovy weather app I found the prevailing wind direction and speed (and with the help of some facebook friends I worked out which way to head - if it is a NNW wind then we need to head in a NNW direction); so our destination was changed to Eureka cafe, planning to be blown home again.

Feeling windblown already at the start!

We set off along the Greenway - I figured that as it was off road it would build our confidence in the wind, and takes the traffic element out of the equation for handling our bikes.  

It was fine, and easy going. 

We left the Greenway at Blacon, although I was a 'stop' too early so we had to wend through a couple of streets to pick up my route again.

As we were now 'rolling', the wind was not too bad at all.

Gusty on some bends, but with warnings everyone did really well.

We went down a 'private' road past a few farms, I remember this being closed off during the foot and mouth outbreak several years ago.

I did worry a bit (and warned the ladies) that as we climbed the bridge to cross the main road that it may be worse on top as it is more exposed - but it was not bad at all!

At the end of the road we re-grouped for a photo, and then turned along the lane to Woodbank and the main road.

On reaching the main road I did explain how we were going to ride safely along it, as it is fast and can be busy.  

In a short while we all made it safely to the Eureka cafe, which except for two gentlemen was completely deserted!

Another group photo outside the Eureka cafe!
Capenhurst - and a 'pinfold' visible on the left of the picture.
Now, after a short re-trace back up the A550, we again joined the lanes - but this time with a roaring tailwind!!!  Brilliant, and so worth the mornings efforts.  So much so that Collette at one point considered that the wind must have dropped now - but I pointed out that it hadn't at all, and this is because it is behind us.

Following route 56 back meant we had to negotiate the gates - but taking each gate in turn (one person holds as the rest of us go through) smooths the flow of the group. 

Crossing the A41 near Backford/ Mollington
All in all a very pleasant morning, 18 miles and 12 riders.  It was a bit like 'the olden days' of the Fab ladies as there was just the one group!  And what beautiful sunny weather again :-)

Good drying weather!

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