It is fairly safe to say that a fair number of us have cycle less, or not at all during the winter, and it is also safe to say that we have ALL been waiting for the nice weather to spring up onto our bikes and enjoy pedalling to our favourite destinations! Whether it is for pedalling to work or shredding the trails, to cycle your weekly shopping home or to compete at your local sportive, if your bike has been left in the shed for a wee while, or even worse, if it has been out during grit and salt season, there will be a couple of things you will want to look at before you set off with peace in mind.
M Check - this can all be done at home, by yourself, without tools-
(It is called an M check because your checklist goes up and down the bike from front to rear, in an M shape.)
Budget Biking's aim is to encourage more persons of meagre financial means to cycle, freeing up money which would needlessly be spent on public transport or even worse on Taxis. We are talking of short journeys to the shops and other essential trips. In order for this to happen we need certainty of outcome (reliability) and a load carrying capability.
The inner gaiter, reduces frequency of punctures, extends tyre life by 30% as they can be ridden until paper thin without the risk of a blowout.
Materials and tools:
Bread and bikes don't have many things in common at first glance, one is made out of organic matter, grown from the land, and the other is mostly made of steel and other metals, or carbon. But making and eating bread and riding your bike have one thing that unites them both: they are some of the most simple, modest, yet enjoyable ways to spend your time. Mix some flour, water, salt, and yeast, jump on the saddle, knead, pedal, rest the dough, speed downhill, stretch the gluten, climb summits, prove, stop for some tea, and fill the space with the lovely smell of baking bread, before enjoying a steaming slice with butter, and resting after a long ride.
Riverside Bakery started from our home in Riverside, when Tom, Nil, and myself, Théo, decided to take our passion from cooking and bread making to the next level and to start tagging along with the vegetable bag scheme at the University of Stirling.
So Every Thursday morning, we would bake our sourdough breads, leave them to cool, pop them in our bags, and cycle to the university for our delivery. None of us had a car, and to be honest, delivering bread by bike soon became an integral part of what we did.
We live in a beautiful place here in Stirling, and it is often easy to forget how close we are to quiet natural places amongst the hussle of our daily lives.
Often, two wheels, a steel frame and a packed lunch are just what it takes to go out there and explore our surroundings!
I learned to cycle at an early age, encouraged by my Dad’s love of bikes. I remember him patiently teaching me, first of all with stabilisers and then helping me as I wobbled along slowly for the first time after they were removed. Then, at university in St Andrews, everyone had a bike, and I was no exception. Mine was a beautiful latte colour Coventry Eagle frame, with drop handlebars and chocolate covered foam tape, made up for me by the then Stewart Wilson cycles, and it was my pride and joy. Then, I left university, got a job and then a car, and the cycling stopped. For the best part of thirty years.
Three years ago, I suddenly decided completely out of the blue that I was going to buy a bike. I purchased a hybrid with straight bars. Cycling a bike is a skill which never leaves you, right? Yeah right. I got the bike out of the boot of the car, hopped on (well, struggled on) wobbled to the opposite side of the road, hit the kerb and came to a somewhat undignified halt. At that point, I decided that my cycling would be done somewhere where the neighbours couldn’t see me.
That summer, I thought I was amazing as I headed out for my 6 miles cycles, thinking I was doing a really good workout. I had to pedal a couple of times, then coast for a bit, so unfit was I. The following year, I saw information about Stirling Cycle Hub, and the newly inaugurated Meanders, and decided to give it a try. The social side of cycling with others quickly gave me the cycling bug, and that year, I completed the 25 mile Pedal for Parkinsons. The Meanders also helped me through that sad year, as I had lost my Dad to Parkinsons just after the cycle.
Cycling to work isn't enough? Let's cycle to our holidays too!
There never was a place so remote, so out of the way than the Shetland islands, this is why, after my very positive previous adventures on the Scottish isles, it seemed like a great idea to take it further north, north of the uk, north of Scotland, north of the north sea, north of the 60th, just a bit more north and we're going south!
At Stirling Cycle Hub we are supported by incredibly fantastic volunteers. It is thanks to their dedication, enthusiasm for cycling that we’re able to encourage more and more people into the saddle every year.
Last week was Volunteers’ Week and Hubber Susanne chatted about the amazing volunteers with some of those who take part in our regular rides. And this is what they said …
These are just two small thank you messages amongst many, many more.
I am not very good at goodbyes. Whenever I have to start packing my suitcase while visiting my sister in Paris or my family back in Chile, my tummy goes tight. To overcome this feeling of sadness, I re-play in my head all the good moments we had and this seems to help. They mostly involve eating croissants and swimming in the pool though.
Bonjour! Today I would like to share with you one of the best routes I've ridden so far this year:
A recent Sunday in March, I had signed up to go up to West Lothian to help a friend skin a polytunnel for the upcoming vegetable growing season. For me, accepting to help out a friend on their farm is often the start of an exciting bike trip in the Scottish countryside. Sometimes, there is no need to go far away to the Alps, to fly to the four corners of the (round) world, or to spend lots of money on a trip. Adventure can start right at your doorstep if you decide it to be that way!
I can remember the surprise when my father gave me my first mountain bike at age 14; I was ecstatic and pretty overwhelmed. That was the beginning of my love of bikes, my independence and my adventurous streak.
Bikes have since been pretty much a constant in my life using them to commute on, to relax and unwind on and have adventures on. Some of my adventures include; touring to the North West of Scotland carrying all my gear just to get a hot chocolate from the most fabulous hot chocolate shop, mountain biking across the Cairngorms, cheeky trips along the canal when I should have been at university and mountain biking around some our fantastic trail centres with friends (always with cake afterwards). When asked if I’m a mountain biker or a roadie, I’m sort of both, bikes are just great! I even acknowledged my bikes in my PhD thesis!
I’m Tasha and I cycle as my main method of transport on a daily basis. I am writing this for anyone who is thinking about commuting by bike, and would like some tips on how to get started. I am firstly going to discuss important purchases I have made, then the routes I take, and finally the challenges I have experienced.
My first bike was a small yellow one based on the children’s TV program called “the twennies”. It had once been my brothers and then it was passed down through all my older cousins until it was my turn to have it. I didn’t really like cycling at that time and it sat in the garage for years until I gave it to one of my younger cousins. My next bike was also a hand me down from my brother, it was a boy’s spider man bike that I was embarrassed to be seen with. It wasn’t until some point around two years ago that I started using my mother’s bike, that’s when I realised how much I really enjoyed cycling, no one in my family really likes bikes so I would often go to my cousin Morgan’s house and we would cycle together, we spent the whole summer holiday going to different places doing different things. I enjoyed cycling so much because of the freedom that came with it and the way we could go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. When it was time to go back to school I nagged my mum to let my cycle to school in the mornings and eventually she said yes.
I’m Cath Abbess; I’m 14 years old and a cycling fanatic. I have been cycling for as long as I can remember, some of my first memories are of me learning how to ride my bike.
The reason I love cycling so much is probably because of my dad and the Wallace warriors (Stirling bike club junior section). My dad taught me how to ride my bike and works as a cycle trainer, he loves bikes and that influenced me a lot. My dad persuaded me to go to the Wallace warriors when I was about 6-7. They taught me; how to improve my bike skills, basic bike mechanics and how to race.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of getting a shot of a wee electric bike. Thanks Stirling Cycle Hub!
This, as you can imagine, makes me very very happy, a little "like a kid in a candy store"
I squealed and smiled from ear to ear.
IT WAS AWESOME!
I have rescued an old Raleigh road bike from the big shed of our friends at Recycke-A- bike here in Stirling. It was pretty much love at first sight I would say. I just knew this one will be my very first “Bike Revival Project” ever.
It has to be said that I am not a trained bike mechanic or anything like that. I have average knowledge of bike maintenance.
First of all the folk at Recyke-A-Bike gave me a prep talk: Steel wheels need to be polished, gear cable shifter to be replaced, gear cables changed completely, tyres changed, inner tubes replaced. I was lucky and the brakes did not need any work so I had to focus on the gears.
Off I went and started … well started with what wasn’t too difficult. I cleaned the steel wheels.
Happy days – I made good progress.
But this wasn’t going to make the wheels go round – just shiny.
So I had to tackle the big stuff to get this bike rolling. Shifters and gear cables. I decided I was not going to do this all by myself. I live in Edinburgh so I took my lovely wee lady to The Bike Station Edinburgh “Fix your own” session. I spent a Saturday morning there and had the best time. They are so well equipped with all the tools you would want and great volunteers that can give you advice if need be. You get your own workstation and set of tools. The best part is that they have bike stands which make working on your bike so much easier.
When you're cycling under winter weather, cold is colder, rain is wetter and the wind is windier! And the faster you go, the more true this gets.
At the cycle hub, we got an early warning that we will indeed get a winter this year, just like last year, I know... So, we had a general wee chat about clothing for this season, and thought the best would be to ask those directly involved in winter cycling, here is what all the different responses were:
The list below is as comprehensive as possible and tries to take into account a reasonable budget for a decent quality. There are of course many more options, and we hope this article helps you asking the right questions about what you need and don't need according to the way you cycle. Everyone's needs are different, and these are only suggestions.
Often people ask me why I cycle everywhere in and around the city.
I guess it has a lot to do with the way I was brought up. It was absolutely normal to cycle for day to day journeys with my other family members. For many years we even did our shopping with our bikes and did not use a car. So I got very used to using my bike and also to cycling on the street from an early age.
My parents passed on their knowledge about cycling to me and every time I cycled with them I copied their behaviour and they taught me about signs, traffic flow and much more.
To put it in a nutshell: I feel cycling can make one so happy (see big fat smile in pic below), give you freedom and you even get fit and all this only requires having a bike. And nowadays if you do not have your own bike in a city, you just hop on a NextBike or a Bike&Go and you are ready to roll. This is gonna sound cheesy to some people but for me cycling is something pleasing, liberating and very often simply beautiful. Cycling has entered my life at an early age and became part of my everyday experience. When I have not been on my bike for some days because I am abroad I start to miss being on the bike. I also find getting around without bike is much more hassle (I get very nervous when I have to wait at a bus stop…).
For a lot of us cycling can be serious, fun, leisure, passion, hobby, one or the other or all at the same time. In any case, no matter how many miles we have under our belt at the end of the week, pedalling on a two-wheeled frame is part of our lives. Bikes have been around for long to transport people mainly, but also things! Here is a brief overview of heavyweight cycling, and how to extend the purpose of your trusty companion.
Cargo bikes, trailers, front and rear paniers, bungee cords, and other precarious attachments, those are the way to transport independence and immense satisfaction!
Thanks to everyone involved in the National Cycle Network 20th Anniversary Tour
OK, so we have finished, we have had a chance to celebrate, relax and unwind, to soothe and soak our aching muscles and to pour over the fantastic pictures immortalising (for us) the wonderful week we have just spent cycling on the National Cycle Network. So what’s next, The Ladies 100k challenge this Sunday? The Stirling Festival of Cycling in August? Plan something equally huge for next year? Hold on a minute, first of all I want to thank everyone who made this event such a pleasure to plan and complete.
Yesterday we cycled down the beautiful NCN7 from Inverness to Pitlochry, we travelled through some stunning scenery, picturesque villages and towns and past ancient standing stones. Massive thanks Mr and Mrs Shepherd for their fantastic hospitality and another massive thanks to Alan and Mary for coming out for a ride.
Awesome, today was just awesome. Even our film director said so. Yes, we had a film director, a film about the great National Cycle Network is on its way to Hollywood but I can't reveal any more information. It's hard being a professional cyclists and a film star:
Inveraray to Fort William via Oban. That’s what today entailed for our 5 intrepid Le Hub NCN Tour explorers of Scotland’s cycle paths. 86 miles. 1 major hill. Many little ones. 2 ferries. 2 sore knees. 1 change of clothes. 3000 calories burnt. 30,000 calories consumed. All in all we are half way through our journey, and feeling pretty happy with ourselves.
Day Three started with a weather check out the window proclaiming “It’s not rain, it’s midgies”. Sadly, although the previous night had laid testament to the potential for this, it was in fact rain. All day. But we are tough, and skin is waterproof, so off we set from this here hostel right here.
I wake up. My left knee is complaining as I swing my legs out of bed and onto the floor. This is not the kind of reaction I want from my body after only the first day of cycling on the NCN Tour. I check the flexibility and general feel of my muscles and limbs. Everything is responding well. Just my left knee. Ah well, I’ll have my apple, cinnamon and Nutella porridge, finish it off with some ibuprofen and apply a large quantity of Deep Heat to the problem area. Good to go!
Well its 23:48 and we have made it to our accommodation in deepest darkest Paisley. We have managed to squeeze a lot in since arriving at the Hub this morning over 14 hours ago. I don’t really know where to begin but we have a lot of people to big up for helping made what was a fantastic first day such a success.
BIG UP SUSTRANS
BIG UP RECYCKEABIKE
BIG UP NEILSTON DEVELOPMENT TRUST
BIG UP BELLES ON BIKES
BIG UP GLASGOW BIKE STATION
BIG UP RIVERSIDE BAKERY
BIG UP FORTH ENVIRONMENT LINK LOCAL FOOD NETWORK
BIG UP CAFÉ SIEMPRE
BIG UP THE SUSTRANS RANGERS
BIG UP ALL THE PEOPLE WHO CAME OUT TO SUPPORT US ON THEIR BIKES
BIG UP ALL THE PEOPLE WHO CAME OUT TO SUPPORT US WITHOUT THEIR BIKES
So we have cycled mainly on the NCN 754 and the NCN 764 with a little bit of 76 thrown into the mix. The majority of the route has been fantastic, mostly 3 meter wide tarmacked cycle track.
Iona will be joining us for the ride taking some pictures along the way, here is what she is looking forward to:
"I'm pretty pretty really excited and nervous about our upcoming ride around the NCN's of Scotland. I'm looking forward to the challenge, lunch and dinner, the top of The Rest and Be Thankful, meeting the project people, and seeing the Loch Ness Monster. I am less looking forward to sore legs and feet, Graham in lycra, Ray missing mountain biking and Amparo's snoring (only joking!)"
Travelling is great. Travelling by bike is awesome. Travelling on the NCN around Scotland with your friends & colleagues and on bikes is just amazing! (even though they might spell your name wrong or put someone else on the picture),
I am looking forward to:
"What do you think about us celebrating the 20th Anniversay of the National Cycle Network by cycling round Scotland on it?" or words to that effect was what Graham had proposed at one of our weekly team meetings. Sounds like a fabulous idea I thought not quite taking into account the logistics, mileage or timescales involved in such a venture. So it has come to pass that the Hub team will be cycling just shy of 500 miles in 6 days round the cycle network of our beautiful country that is Scotland.
At Stirling Cycle Hub we encourage and support people to get on their bikes! We are passionate about cycling in all its forms and about the benefits it has both for the individual, the community and for the environment.
A big part of what we do is creating, planning and running a series of events across the year to encourage people into the saddle. Last year we ran over 50 individual events or led rides in and around Stirling and almost all of them used at least a section of the National Cycle Network. We also organised led commutes for people starting out cycling to and from work and over 75% of the routes we planned for these included sections of the NCN.
Our events are tailored to the needs of all cyclists, from those starting cycling for the first time or those returning to cycling and looking to re-build confidence
It’s one year since I started working at Stirling Cycling Hub and as I have said before, this is the best job ever. (Apologies to my previous employers & colleagues)
I love everything about this job, even when my other colleagues’ levels of cleaning are substandard. I get free lunches for every bread crumb or unwashed mug they leave (I don’t want to mention names)
I love the fact that I am so much fitter now & that I can eat as much cake as I want. I can now cycle very long distances like nothing. I am also much faster than I used to be and if we are talking feminism here, I cycle as fast as my male colleagues do. But I know, this is not a competition. It’s about realising that you can get fitter and at the same time have fun and it’s because of your own improvements. This allows me to commute to work at least once a week, something that I would have never considered before since my commute is 18 miles each way and very hilly. Commuting to work saves me money, which makes my holiday budget bigger. I’ve also cancelled my gym subscription since I don’t need to go anymore as my commute keeps me even fitter than the gym did. I am so much healthier and haven’t been ill for a while now.
It's been a long time coming but the Hub's resident spanner monkey has finally managed to sit down and bash some computer keys to bring you the second part of the bike building blog. By now you've probably forgotten all about Part 1 but you can reacquaint yourself with my 'what you need' ramblings here. As previously discussed you should be in possession of all the bike parts you need to start, a comprehensive bike toolkit and a workstand. A large amount of patience, a set of CSI style rubber gloves and an adequate supply of tea and digestive biscuits are also advisable. You're now ready to build!
I arrive to work with messy hair. This a certainty, because I cycle to work. It’s not far; just Stirling to Bridge of Allan. It’s a leisurely cycle and it takes me 10-15 minutes, dependant on whether there’s a testy headwind in the air or the wind is chasing my back just nicely. If you cycle to work, you’ll know how people react when you cycle through bad weather. ‘You didn’t cycle in THAT?!’ Yes, I did! - Change of trousers or a muddy bum for the rest of the day, it is then. I may get a little wet/muddy/cold sometimes, but I’m sure that you cyclists out there agree that it’s worth it all for these reasons:
YAY. No travel costs. Bike = cost efficient. - You will save money!
WOO. No waiting at the bus stop. You can arrive bang on time! No longer will you be dictated by the timetable which gets you there either painfully early or dreadfully late.
OOOH. Workout! You can exercise BEFORE and AFTER work without a great deal of thought. Most of us struggle to fit exercise into our busy daily lives, and if you make cycling to work part of your daily routine then you’re moving that little bit more, and getting fitter as a result.
That feeling of the wind in your hair, YEAH.
This blog post is about Stirling Cycle Hub and how they helped me get into cycling. Quite a while ago now, I spotted the hub and got really excited. Like really, really excited. I’m always excited by new places opening up, but I was even more excited because I had just bought a bike. (RIP, my poor wee second-hand mountain bike!) I was cycling to uni and back but I wasn’t so confident on the roads. So the hub appealed to me. I was intrigued.
I started cycling to work regularly about 4 years ago and I can honestly say that back then, I felt like a bit of an oddball, the people I worked with thought I was insane cycling for just under an hour each way. My wife and family although happy that I was doing something to keep fit sniggered clearly thinking, yeh we will see how long this lasts and I never really saw any other cyclists on the road either in the morning or on my way home.
The route I take has changed quite a bit since then. At first, before I was aware of National Cycle Routes and the like, I tended to be cycling along bigger trunk roads and the experience wasn’t the best, still I stuck it out, finding apps and maps which highlighted better possibilities, trying out those possibilities and either adopting them or forgetting them (ended up in a field one morning, covered in cow dung and 1 hour late for work). Eventually, though I settled on a route I like which is enjoyable but also direct enough to get me into work without too much faffing about! I’ve got a couple of busy roads at either end but it’s mostly on quiet country roads and cycle paths past the world famous Cockiebendie Castle. This route itself has changed and been improved over the years, sections have been closed to traffic making them a lot safer and more pleasurable, kerbs have been lowered at specific points and signage has been improved. Don’t get me wrong, I would love a traffic free cycle path from my door to my work but given that’s not likely to happen unless I build it myself, I’m pretty happy with the route and it’s been noticeably improved by work done by Sustrans, Falkirk and Stirling Councils.
If there was a place I could describe as heaven, it’ll be this city.
There were two main reasons why I chose to go on holiday to the Danish Capital:
Like most heavens do, this one also had to be reached by air! (SORRY)
…And then the gates of heaven opened and it was bikes bikes bikes…all over the place!
Working at the Cycle Hub has allowed me to take part in many cycling events throughout the year; Pedal for Scotland (PfS), Carron Valley In The Saddle 24, Strathpuffer 24 and the Christmas night light ride. Doing all these events meant that I had to do some training. Most of the training for these events was done through work. Whether it was commuting to and from work, riding the Thursday Morning Meander rides and building my miles up with the Hub Club Rides. The training for the Christmas Night Light Ride was just trying not to pass out from the heat inside the Santa suit.
I understand that cycling is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it seems that a lot of my friends are just finding excuses not to cycle more. So I have decided to collate all the excuses I have heard, including the ones I myself have uttered and answer them all one by one so that none of us have any more silly excuses for not cycling! Although, having said that, it does look like it might snow this morning.
First of all, ladies and gentlemen cyclists and bicycle lovers, Happy New Year! May all your cycling related wishes (like wining the TdF) come true 100% this year.
With Next Bike due to arrive in Stirling on the 29th September there has been a lot of interest in the scheme, the bikes, the stations and how it will all work. We therefore thought it would be a good idea to ask several members of the public to borrow a Next Bike for a week and to let us know how they got on.
This is our 2nd blog from one of our volunteers, Amy Copsey. Amy lives in Stirling and works at Raploch Community Campus. She doesn’t normally cycle but decided to take the plunge as her car was off the road for a week. (Nothing to do with us).
With Next Bike due to arrive in Stirling on the 29th September there has been a lot of interest in the scheme, the bikes, the stations and how it will all work. We therefore thought it would be a good idea to ask several members of the public to borrow a Next Bike for a week and to let us know how they got on.
This is our first blog from one of our volunteers, Jane Taylor. Jane lives in Stirling and works for Stirling Council Youth Services. She describes herself as a novice/fair weather cyclist and she regularly cycles approximately 3 miles to work and was keen to see how the Next Bike would compare to her usual commuting bike. We dropped of the bike early on Monday morning and left Jane to her own devices for the week asked her to answer the following questions when we picked it up again.
The Next Bike arriving in Stirling will be a Next Bike!
First bike – Normally Amparo on her Hinde racer! (She really has a competitive edgeJ)
Why did I do it? #womens100
I had to, it was in my job description. If I didn’t do it I’d be sacked!! Honestly, part of this is true. The event was happening before I was appointed for this job. Posters & leaflets had been printed. Besides, I didn’t want to be sacked because I LOVE MY JOB. I am one of those smug people, you know the type, the type that’s happy and likes what they do for a living, the type you hate unless you are one of them.
I am a professional cyclist, not because I have been hired by team SKY on a super ridiculous contract but because I get paid to cycle and more importantly, to encourage others to do so. Therefore amongst the 39 lady riders was my best* friend Jacquie who was encouraged (not forced) to do the Women’s 100K** Challenge. Our objective was to get more ladies out cycling and I hope it was our encouragement and not that they were getting paid by Sky that brought the other 38 ladies out.
I love bikes. I love cycling. I actually quite enjoy maintaining them too. Whether it’s for me, my family, friends or work colleagues I’m more than happy to pick up a set of allen keys and don some CSI-style rubber gloves to give a steed the once over (figuratively speaking). A bit of tinkering here, tightening up of bolts, replacing cables, adjusting saddles and stem, replacing old and worn components. None of it is overly complicated (just have a look at the thousands of instructional YouTube videos) and it’s a real pleasure to see someone cycle their bike again after some mechanical issue has curtailed the happiness and enjoyment that their two-wheeled friend brings them. But where can you go from there? What’s the next step for someone almost at the pinnacle of their bike maintenance prowess? What goal can be set? What can be achieved? Well, why not build your own bike?
Cycling is good for you! It keeps you healthy; it’s good for the environment, yadda yadda yadda.
We all know this, so why don’t we all cycle?
Obviously some people are lazy and would rather travel by boat
Oh! What?! What’s going on?!...She is...She is picking ME out today!! Yeay, it’s me the one that’s been put inside Car. It’s me who is going out today. Touring Cannondale is staying home! I cannot understand this. She rarely takes me out. I’m only ridden when visitors come and yet She’s alone today. She’s definitively taking me as She (tickles!) is removing my front wheel.
Ok, now I think we are in Stirling as I can see Stirling Castle. She’s putting my wheel back and rides me to this cool place I’ve been before, the one with the big maps on the wall. People come in and out. She’s left me by the big map and talks to people. I do hear the words Glen Finglas a lot. 18 miles, easy, see you after 6. Does this mean She’s taking me for a 18 mile trip? If so, I am so happy! So many times Touring Cannondale comes back with a big smile after long trips and I am always just parked in the corner, by the Barbara poster, looking sad. But not today!
It’s getting late and we still don’t go. What’s going on?
After an incredible year working at the cycle hub I am very sad to say that I am leaving. I've had an absolute blast - thank you to ALL OF YOU. Before I go, I wanted to share with you my favourite Stirling Cycle Hub memories:
As you know, part of our role at Stirling Cycle Hub is to make it easier for cyclists to better link their cycling with other forms of transport. As you also know, a big part of the push on increasing cycling in Scotland is through encouraging cycle tourism. Let's face it, we all know that cycling is clearly the best way to see Scotland's wonderful and stunning scenery!
For this reason (and because we love getting on our bikes) we decided to do a bit of cycle tourism of our own with the purpose of reporting back in a fun but informative manner, thus providing an invaluable resource for the would-be cycle tourist.
So, where to go and how to get there? "Bealach Na Ba? Too far and too hard!" "Rest and Be Thankful? Not far enough." "How about Arran? Magic, sounds great, and we need to get a boat so it will feel like a proper voyage!"
So Arran it was!
"Known as Scotland in miniature" (said in a Neil Oliver accent), the Isle of Arran's hills and mountains are a mecca for roadies and mountain bikers alike. Having a nice mix of roadie, urban and mountain cyclists in our team we decided to plan out a road cycle taking in the two biggest road hills on the island, The String and The Ross. We spent a matter of minutes planning the route and came up with the map below:
I started working at the Hub through Community Jobs Scotland and it's fair to say I have really enjoyed it. I've learned so much since I started including customer service, route planning and how to risk assess a route. I've spoken to many visitors to the Hub and given out leaflets and advice on routes.
I'm really looking forward to the event that I have planned which is called "The Pineapple Picnic". I recently rode and risk assessed the route with Iona. We tried going through the Dunmore Woods and ended up getting lost. We cycled through wet cement, found a couple of creepy cabins and an abandoned church. It's safe to say I was bricking it.
We then noticed that the path signs which were pointing in every direction all just said 'path' on them. Every single one! That wasn't much help but we eventually found the building as we were standing in the middle of an empty field. I spotted something poking through some trees and quoted "I've never been so happy to see a pineapple in my life"! It took us about two and a half hours just to find the building but it's a lovely location for a picnic and a stunning building. Thankfully we've got a far better route for getting there now. The ride will be on the National Cycle Network and quiet back roads and is 26 miles there and back to the Hub.
The summer has gone, the leaves are falling from the trees and the dark nights are closing in! Most sane cyclists are currently trying to squeeze out a few more weeks of cycling action before the bikes get packed away in the garage to gather dust until the spring but not this cyclist! Last year I discovered the cosy wonders of full length cycling leggings - toasty! I also thought it wise to put on a few pounds for the winter to help with insulation.
Obviously hard core mountain bikers and roadies will be out there right through the winter, but to commute to work in the driving rain and freezing cold is another matter altogether. It takes a bit of planning, commitment and warm gear but as I found out for the first time last year, commuting in the winter can be even more enjoyable and rewarding than during the summer months. For me the most rewarding thing is that fresh feeling you get when you’ve been out exercising in the cold. You know, the red cheeks, the glowing warmth as you settle in at the office. There's nothing more invigorating than a cycle in a cold winter morning that blasts the cobwebs away in the extremely fresh air followed by a hot shower.
I mentioned to my fellow cycle hubber Graham a while ago that I was planning on attempting the Rapha Women’s 100 challenge, an event calling on women around the world to ride 100kms on the 7th of July. He suggested making it into a hub event - I don’t often take part in group rides and had been planning on riding the 100kms on my own, but the idea of sharing the challenge with other women also challenging themselves fills me with excitement. And so we are now only 3 weeks away from the grand Stirling Cycle Hub Women’s 100 challenge and I’m happy to say that we’ve already had loads of women signing up.
This is a special challenge to me personally. Until recently the idea of my being able to ride a bike for 100 kilometers in July looked impossible. Nearly two years ago I had a bad landing while climbing at Dumbarton Rock and damaged my ankle. Over the next year things got progressively worse until I first had to stop climbing (noooooo!) and then cycling (double noooooo!!). I was devastated! I spent several months waiting for surgery to get things fixed up, while desperately trying to find a replacement for my beloved pastimes. My family and friends were great and kept me amused, while to my neighbours horror I took up the banjo, but despite my entertainment and newly found strumming skills I still really really missed exercise.
Once I had got fixed up and into rehab I was told that it would usually take around 6 months to a year to get back to sport. I took it upon myself at this point to prove this wrong! I started doing rounds of the park on my crutches every morning (to the amusement of the other locals who kept pointing me in the direction of the local ski centre). Once the boot had come off I stuck to my physio regime religiously, pushing the stretches and strengthening exercises harder each time. When I eventually got to take my first tentative turns on an exercise bike I was totally over the moon! Each week I have added more and more to the list of things I can do again and now I’m back to fully functioning and appreciating every minute of it. The Women’s 100 will be 6 months and 1 week after I had the surgery so regardless of whether I finish the ride (and I will!), just taking part in the challenge will be a definite cause for celebration for me.
We have just taken delivery of a Genuine Postal Delivery Bike from circa 1920. It's purely for signage purposes as having attempted to lift it I can confirm it's either made of Iron or Lead and there is no way I will be attempting to ride it up even the slightest incline!
In fact having just come back from a holiday of eating, drinking and not very much else the combined weight of this bike and my belly contravene the HGV Road user levy act of 2012 and it would therefore be illegal for me to attempt to ride it without some form of combined heavy load/wide load signage attached to my lycra shorts.
Many thanks to Recykeabike for nursing her back to her former glory.
This bike got me thinking, although she was unquestionably the pride of the post offices fleet in the early 1920's, she is rather past her peak and was left to rust for years before being lovingly restored.
There are many different ways you can be considered a cyclist. You can be a commuter weaving through the rush hour on your urban tailored hybrid, a road racer with silky smooth legs pounding out the RPMs on an insanely expensive carbon steed, the fixed gear or single speed fixated rider of the metropolis cafe culture, the body armour clad suspension toting mountain biker or quite simply you can be a kid riding around on your prized bicycle that you got for your birthday. Whatever you’re riding, if it has two wheels (yes, I know cargo bikes have more), pedals, a recognisable bike shape and you ride it for pleasure then you’re a cyclist (many cyclists however are unaware of this natural phenomenon).
On the whole we cyclists are quite a social bunch and as a result we like to congregate. Not just to compete or to discuss our common interest but a lot of the time it’s for the friendly banter, the friendships that develop and the resulting adventures we have. We’re nice like that. In fact many of us may well frequent several different cycling groups at the same time, connecting both our cyber and real lives Matrix style, or moving from one group to another at different times in our lives.
As we pedal through those lives most of us will probably choose to align our cycling beliefs with our favoured discipline be it on-road, off-road or something that falls in-between or possibly on the outer fringes of these. We’ll probably mix it up a little from time to time but every cyclist is a friend and someone to discuss cycling with over coffee and cake. And that’s great. People (including us cyclists) mature with age. Our attitudes and preferences to cycling can and will invariably change alongside that. The beautiful thing about being a cyclist is that whatever you ride, wherever you ride and whatever age you are, we have a common love for all things two-wheeled.
Well folks we are now officially open! We have had a whirlwind of a weekend since our official opening inner tubes were cut by Transport Minister Keith Brown and have met so so many visitors to the hub. In fact we’ve been talking so much about cycling over the last three days that we have all gone practically hoarse!
This Blog will be regularly maintained and updated with our views, opinions and observations on all things Cycling!(Our views, opinions and observations may not always be well informed or indeed perfectly accurate however they will all be in the spirit of the greater Cycling community and we appreciate all comments in the comments section below J)
Over the last few weeks we have been working hard to get the preparation work done for our Grand Opening on the 3rd May and everything is starting to come together!! It’s been kinda like building a bike using a vintage broken down frame and adding all new wheels, brakes, gears and everything else.