Hands clasped behind head on a springy bed of pine needles, listening to the lazy tap of the Woodpecker making his way around the forest clearing. Gazing out to sea from behind a pie and a pint outside the Square and Compass atop the Purbecks. Riding breeze assisted all the way along Bournemouth Prom to Christchurch for fish & chips.
Just some of the idyllic moments I can still conjure up from a week camping in the New Forest. Not to mention catching up with the New Forest Rally CC regulars at the cheese and wine gatherings. And only one day washed out by rain – a whole twelve hour shower!
The yin and yang of cycle campaigning manifests itself in many ways. A Jeckyll and Hyde existence, extolling the simple virtues of cycles on one hand, complaining bitterly about the reality of using one on many of today’s roads on the other. Watching delightful flicks of high modal share on foreign shores at night, while donning protective equipment to battle alone during the day.
And when we’re not bouncing from one extreme to the other we’re arguing about how the gap between the two can be bridged. Next stop Leicester.
Yet 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.
Cresting the path through the dunes revealed a lot more than just a sea view. Out for a spin in the gap between breakfast and registration the last thing I was expecting to see was an art gallery! But what a fantastic start to the day.
A work in progress it would seem. Riding along the promenade towards Southport I passed some of the Antony Gormley figures modelling T-shirts and rucksacks. They probably make great cycle stands too.
The windmills along the Mersey look part of the exhibition. I wouldn’t suggest putting one on Glastonbury Tor, but they look clean and gently powerful to me – quite relaxing.
And staying over at the Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre was nice and relaxing too. Checking emails on the lakeside veranda with a San Miguel as the sun went down – working late can be such a chore!
Getting a kettle installed in the Palace of Westminster is a big ask of either the antiquated wiring, the modern procedures, or both. Whatever the reason, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson now appears to be in the home straight when it comes to getting a cup of tea into the office without running the risk of spilling it. Winner of 11 paralympic gold medals in successive games, Dame Tanni was appointed as a crossbench ‘People’s Peer’ in March last year.
We’re both early for the APPCG meeting entitled ‘Disablity cycling – how to increase participation’; Tanni’s the speaker. Resting on the green leather bench outside room five I’m glad of the chat, calming my nerves after having barged in on the Coastguard ten minutes earlier.
Westminster Palace is so popular with visitors this afternoon some of the attendees are stuck in a long queue for the security check. Luckily I’d been fast tracked and given a guide to pilot me round the circuitous step free route to the committee corridor – shortcuts for which Tanni, over several months, has now got memorised. Anyway, the rooms are in constant use so Co-Chair Julian Huppert, MP for cycle friendly Cambridge, makes a start and introduces the Baroness.
The concept of the cycle as a mobility aid is taken more seriously in some places than others. Graffiti aside, this sign outside a library in Denmark is the best icon I’ve seen to represent the cultural chasm running down the middle of the North Sea. I challenge anyone to post a picture of an equivalent sign denoting disabled cycle parking in the UK.
Thanks to Cycle Chic blogger, photographer and style guru Mikeal Coalville-Anderson for bringing this to our attention. You can read more about danish mobility aids here in his daily record of life in and around Copenhagen.
Compare that with this story of everyday life in our own cycling capital, where Ann Wright was prevented from cycling considerately along London’s South Bank by a PCSO.
At last, finally out on the trike again thanks to Schwalbe’s Winter Marathon tyres. I imagine many of us are going stir crazy in this weather, waiting for a thaw to avoid injury. Well, I couldn’t wait any longer!
It seems such a long time ago now – pre-winter – before temperatures were all prefaced by a minus sign and we kept the beer in the fridge rather than the microwave. In fact, it’s been a while since I reported on anything in the world of inclusive cycling, but I seem to be getting back into the saddle now, so on with the snow show!
By the time I had a decent mental map of what was where at the Cycle Show it was all over. Even using one of Barry’s handcycles to explore the stands at Earls Court, it took three days before I could unerringly find my way back to an interesting item. Not that I had too much time for browsing, I was there to help out on the Inclusive Cycling stand after all.
Milling around outside The Forum we attracted a number of people interested in the cycles. Tom who works in the building services department there came out for a chat. He’s touring the coast of Britain on a part time basis, picking the route up again at Thurso at the next opportunity.
We were able to introduce him to Chris of the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind. The NNAB’s cycling outings have tailed off recently because they’re down to their last tandem pilot, something Tom has been thinking of volunteering for – serendipity strikes again!
It’s not just the riding that takes its toll on a long tour, it’s the daily grind of packing, checking out, checking in, unpacking, eating, updating the diary or the blog; often the riding is the easy part after several weeks on the road. “Fortunately” there’s the schedule to keep one on the straight and narrow; the accommodation booked in advance, the meetings along the way, the life one normally leads waiting at the other end. It’s the schedule, or the fear of it slipping, that gets the tired limbs moving to do it all again for another day.
And in a small way that goes for those meeting up with Max along the way. I travelled over to Bedford to ride some of the way with him and ended up spending two nights on a campsite in continuous rain! Thankfully it backed off a little for the ride but it was still a pretty damp day.
Our first visit to Sheffield and the first impression is good – the city centre has clearly had a makeover in the recent past and very nice it looks too. We (Brigitte in particular) were less than impressed with the wet tracks of the city’s Super Trams though!
If you follow her blog, or have read the current edition of CTC’s Cycle magazine (pages 20, 49 and 51! ), then you’ll be familiar with yorkshire’s queen of disability cycling and the main reason for our visit.
Depending on your particular requirements, a major obstacle in getting the cycle that’s right for you is cost. And for those that need very specialist equipment that can mean no cycling and a long wait.
Trikes can be expensive enough, but a highly specialised, well designed machine such as Molten Rock’s Boma can be beyond the reach of many pockets.
Martin is no stranger to challenges and raising funds for good causes. Ironically, it was whilst raising money for the hospital which helped him recover from a serious illness that he discovered how liberating and enjoyable cycling with a group can be. Fund-raising for his own Boma however is proving to be far more difficult.
No, but we do have Cycling by Max Burt, the man behind the infamous Yellow Pages advert and the equally successful British Telecom ‘It’s Good to Talk’ series.
Tomorrow morning Max begins a four week, 714 mile ride from Aberdeen to Trafalgar Square to challenge the public’s perception of disability. You can see the schedule and learn more about Max at the Everything Is Possible In Life website.
I’m planning to join him for part of the ride, and if you live on, or close to the route you might like to do the same. If you do, contact Gina to arrange a meeting point.
Unusually, this isn’t a fundraising ride, but rather an educational exercise to further the aims of the charity Diversability. Follow his progress between now and Friday 27th August via Max’s blog, along with his personal insights into disability.