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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays

It seems an age since I last wrote my blog..... and in fact it is
I went away on a course for three weeks and when I returned last weekend winter had finally arrived as well as a few extra (Unwanted) pounds due to my lack of activity.

Last Monday I set off to work with great expectations all be it in completer darkness.
My shorts had been replaced by long johns, my fingerless gloves by gauntlets and my bandanna by a woolly hat. The overnight temperature had caused an icy sheen on the road and my chest to hurt as I breathed in the cold air.
On the first corner I was lucky to keep my bike upright and the enjoyment was frozen out by the need for total concentration.

Starting in the dark and cold and returning in the dark and cold ........ well it is just grim and I am not really enjoying it.

Thankfully my work came to my rescue......with late nights and vehicular requirements I only had to complete 3 one way trips and 1 return commute completing a paltry 68 miles.
I know I need to do more but this sobering realisation will need to be phased in.
There is one big positive though my new bike
My new winter tourer does make this process less painful, its stable and comfortable yet still retains some integrity as a road bike.

There are also other positives.......I can now start looking at my Christmas wish list.
With the increase in the popularity of cycling there is so much out there.
Ventoux have a great site with so real cool shirts I particularly like this one.
With the Travels with my Mule Team expecting to grow bigger and stronger next year I need a helmet to go with the red,white and blue livery

I found this helmet on the Sustrans web site

They also have some funky lights that just clip on to your bars and have a full range of colours to match your bike Finally cafepress do hundreds......yes hundreds of cycling T Shits

Hopefully this week will see an improvement in my cycling mileage and to keep me motivated I will start identifying rides for next year.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bike quango 'Cycling England' to be abolished

Campaigners 'despondent' at the damage they say the decision will do to cycling provision around the country

The rumours that Cycling England would be amongst the logs on the government's "bonfire of the quangos" were confirmed last week with the release of the long-awaited (and dreaded) list from the Cabinet Office.

Next to the cycling quango were the fateful words:

No longer an NDPB [Non-Departmental Public Body] - Abolish body. We have announced a Local Sustainable Travel Fund and will explore ways of marshalling expert input on cycling issues, including to support the Fund

As quangos go, Cycling England is not exactly profligate. It has three permanent staff and overheads of £200,000 - a tiny fraction of its annual budget of £60m. Over three years it has spent £140m.

Malcolm Shepherd, the chief executive of Sustrans, a charity that promotes sustainable transport said the quango has done valuable work. "Cycling England has been a crucial conduit for funding which has touched the lives of millions of people by making it possible for people to cycle for everyday journeys."

He and others are worried that the Local Sustainable Travel Fund will not have the same focus. The government has not yet decided how much money will be in the fund and what restrictions will be put on how it can be spent.

"The new Local Sustainable Transport Fund must not be a smokescreen for wider cuts to the spending that gets people cycling, walking and using public transport," Shepherd added.

Explaining the new fund, the transport minister Norman Baker MP who has responsibility for cycling said:

"We want to give more power and more flexibility to local authorities as we strongly believe that they know best what is right for their communities."

"As there will no longer be a dedicated cycling pot of money, but instead a much broader fund, we feel that Cycling England is not the right way to continue to incentivise and encourage local authorities and others to stimulate cycling."

So what is at stake? The money dished out by Cycling England fits into 3 broad categories. Around a third goes to the cycling towns and cities programme - which has provided funding for local cycling provision in places across the country from Aylesbury to Morecambe.

Around a third went to funding Bikability - a scheme for teaching safe on-road cycling that is the successor to the old cycling proficiency test. It trained 300,000 children last year. According to the Department for Transport, responsibility for the programme will now move back to Whitehall.

Kevin Mayne at the cycling organisation CTC, who is on Cycling England's board said that would be a disaster. "Bikability is a scheme that works on a 'Big Society' basis. Whenever it has been managed [outside government] it has moved forward. When it has been managed by DfT it has stood still...We can be more flexible, we don't have to seek ministerial approval for everything and we have low overheads."

The third tranche of funding is a mish-mash of smaller programmes and nascent schemes that were being worked up for national implementation. Bike 'n' Rail, for example, is a scheme to improve bike facilities for rail passengers. The danger, says Mayne is that schemes such as this will be lost. In the process around £20m of funding for the voluntary sector is at risk.

"It doesn't matter what label to put on it. It matters where the money goes," said Mayne, "At the moment one can't help but be pretty despondent. But ministers still have a chance, if you like, not to wreck this."

Courtesy of the Guardian Newspaper

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Way of the Roses

For the next three weeks my cycling is going to be limited as I am attending a course in Manchester. That means travelling to and throw across the country, taking in the Pennines.
About ten years ago when I had more hair, less weight and and empty cycle shed the cycling seed was first planted. I borrowed a bike to complete a charity cycle ride from Morecombe to Hornsea cycling across the Pennines from the west to the east coast of England.
Last month. I recall it took in some breathtaking scenery, killer climbs and splendid watering holes.
Last month the National Cycle Network celebrated its 15th anniversary by adding a new challenging route to its ever-expanding network of over 12,600 miles the Way of the Roses
from Morecombe to Bridlington.

The Way of the Roses transforms 170 miles of roads and cycle tracks into a spectacular new 'coast-to-coast' leisure route for cyclists and walkers in the North of England. Starting on the west coast in Morecambe, Lancashire, and finishing on the east coast in the seaside resort of Bridlington, Yorkshire, the route passes through magnificent landscapes and past great points of interest along the way including:

Morecambe with its recently restored art deco Midland Hotel and famous seaside state of comedy legend Eric Morecambe
The Yorkshire Dales National Park
The Forest of Bowland
The Lune Valley
Coldstones Quarry near Pateley Bridge
The Yorkshire Wolds
The historic cities of Lancaster, and York with its famous Minster
Ripon with its magnificent Cathedral
Fountains Abbey - a world heritage site (National Trust)
Beningborough Hall on the outskirts of York
Burton Agnes Hall - an Elizabethan stately home in East Yorks
Flamborough Head - a Special Area of Conservation - and an RSPB nature reserve at Bempton Cliffs, where there are puffin and gannet breeding colonies in the summer.
As I already think of next years itinerary this route is already being penciled in for early June.
Who knows I may even be able to attract a few American Mules to take part.