Welcome in Weymouth

CreamTea-300x224Yet another gorgeous day on the Costa del Dorset and our first point of interest on the Sunday family ride was the church depicted in Moonfleet – the smuggling tale I think most of us read at school. I certainly did. I can still picture the cover, seems like yesterday, or perhaps the day before.

Our leader Badger, so called because they eat from his hand, told us the story of the terrible storm of 1824. I think the black and white locals see more in him than just a source of food – certainly not the irascible old soul of Wind in the Willows, but he exudes country knowledge from his thickset frame.

We left Butter Street to complete the literary references with more views of Chesil Beach, detouring through a campsite just to check directions to a very well deserved cream tea in Abbotsbury.

A steady ride, at a steady pace, but it has to be said it was challenging for everyone and the climb out of Abbotsbury particularly so. The ride had pretty much turned into a ramble except for one of the Wessex crew on a purple Brompton who was fair flying up the hill.

Earlier in the day I’d been marvelling at the range of movement in the purple Bromptoneer’s left knee. When I asked what type of knee it was, she said it was the normal type, same as the right one. What I’d taken to be the foam cover of a prosthetic leg was actually a pressure sock helping pump the blood back up following an operation for thrombosis. Yet another example of a cyclist overcoming a disability, this time with electric assist – a Nano Brompton. I might be a purist, but I’m a purist who is getting longer in the tooth. In Dorset, electric assist is less a cop out, more an enabler.

PlumptiousPath-300x224Winding its way through Weymouth to Portland, embossed on the landscape like a scoliotic spine, is the Rodwell Trail. An old railway line, it’s a superb path, has wonderful views, but getting on and off it anywhere other then the start or the finish requires some serious effort.

On Saturday the trail took Brigitte and I almost all the way from the station to the CTC AGM venue in Portland. It also passed within a hundred metres of our B&B which made navigating a breeze – once I’d figured out the right point to get off that is.

Our first CTC AGM; I was there to represent ICF, Brigitte was there to ensure I didn’t make a bolt for it. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve gone AWOL.

Putting a motion forward to the AGM was the idea of Roger Crosskey our Campaign Officer.  We have a number of campaign aims, but we chose to focus our resolution on the infrastructure that excludes disabled cyclists…

That CTC promote: the removal of existing physical barriers to disabled cyclists; the inclusion of disabled cyclists in the design methodology of new cycle infrastructure; the publication of information detailing where exclusion exists in cycle infrastructure.

As Roger predicted and contributed to, the discussion at the meeting was interesting, and the issue of excluding the less able was brought to the attention of a much wider audience; the motion was passed by over 10,000 votes. We are currently planning our next steps in the barrier campaign.

In total it took more than four hours to complete the nine items on the agenda which left precious little time for a kip before the evening social. Having got up at five to ride into Oxford station Brigitte and I were beginning to wilt.

From our B&B we had a glorious view across Portland Harbour to the venue, and sipping a Buck’s Fizz on the balcony of the National Sailing Academy the view back across to Weymouth and the cliffs was even better. So nice in fact I could be tempted to return for the paralympics next year – to watch that is.

Along the coast from the Osmington White Horse we could see the old Pontins holiday camp where Cycleability Wendy had been a Bluecoat (there’s a story waiting to be told!). And a little further along from that the campsite Round Britain Graeme was spending the night at.

One of the highlights of the evening was meeting Graeme and his partner Katy. Katy drove Graeme over to meet us before the dinner and we caught up with his journey so far. All too brief though because it was soon time to get seated for the dinner and the awards ceremony.

My other reason for making the trip down to Weymouth was to pick up the South East Region Volunteer Award. Along with Caroline who was picking up a regional award, brought along by Wendy, who it turns out is a previous regional volunteer of the year.

Who would have thought there was so much glory to be had in the cut and thrust of cycle parking and signage? Judging by the commendation a lot of the nominations must have cited my involvement with the Inclusive Cycling Forum, but to be honest I’ve mostly just been a conduit for that. I guess there must be quite a few people out there who just really appreciate having a group that represents them.

So much so it seems, the 2011 CTC Volunteer of the Year Award went to the West Oxon RtR Rep, WitneyBUG and Inclusive Cycling Forum Chair. Nobody was more surprised than he. Really.

WeymouthBeach1-300x224Crawling up the last section of the post-lunch hill out of Abbotsbury there was plenty of time to reflect on the view, the previous evening, and the changing world of cycling in the UK. Things certainly are changing. Will everyday cycling sound the death knell for the club run? Only if we run out cafes for us all.

Otherwise, wherever there are people, bikes and cakes there’ll be rides like these. The best ones finishing with an ice cream on Weymouth beach.

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