Wakefield District Cycle Forum - promoting and campaigning for cyclists
Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Author: Meg Andrews

WDCF Newsletter Winter 2023/24

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

The New Year

Santa Rides galore

Feasts and Festivities

Our Year starts with a WoW

Eventbrite explained

Anniversaries:

    Chevet Branch Line

    Sandy and David’s Seat

Foreign News

A New Year

Last year held the dubious honour of having the most rides cancelled in the history of the Forum. 

2024 didn’t start well either with Gerrit and Henk leading to floods in parts of the country, high winds and locally, soggy, muddy, slithery rides through pools of water weren’t a lot of fun.

Nevertheless, we’ve had some sparkling Santa Rides and the New Year started with a WoW. 

There are articles from Malcolm Morris, David Keighley and Meg, leading to slightly more words than pictures in this edition, but it’s a close-run thing!

Santa Rides Galore

For many years the Forum has organised a couple of Santa rides each year, where members decorate their bikes and themselves in festive fashion, with tinsel, baubles and lights, to celebrate the upcoming festivities. 

Traditionally, rides have set off from Nostell NT and Queen’s Mill Castleford, with a hot drink and mince pie fortifying riders en route.  This year, rides from Eastmoor and, more informally, Ryhill were added to the list.

The Castleford ride included a sleigh’s worth of reindeer and plenty of twinkling lights.  We even managed to squeeze in a spot of culture at the Henry Moore and Allison Drake artworks celebrating a couple of local heroes.

The Santa ride from Nostell NT was also well attended and riders were well fed and entertained in an exclusive room at Anglers, complete with sleigh.

The inaugural Eastmoor Santa ride was more restrained, both in number and decoration but there were some splendid Christmas jumpers on display.

 Ryhill’s last ride before Xmas represented a final opportunity to finish the mince pies and flaunt the baubles before packing them away until next year.

Feasts and Festivities

Christmas is a traditional time for family get-togethers, office parties and the like. For many years, the Forum too has had a Christmas dinner together, with crackers, paper hats and, more recently, a quiz.

In 2023 we decided on a change, as so many people’s December is crammed with family visits, Christmas shopping, clashing invitations, carol singing and calls on available cash and time. The 25th January was chosen as the date for our festive meal at a hostelry where turkey and the trimming, as well as Christmas pud, were still available, together with other less seasonally limited choices, namely Dimple Well Lodge Hotel, Osset.

You can’t hold back people determined to party, however, and Facebook was soon peppered with details of an informal Christmas gathering at the Bluebell, Valley Road, Pontefract on the 8th December.

Here are a couple of photos of  some cyclists without helmets letting their hair down!

Come the 25th January, Dimple Well Lodge did us proud.  We were able to meet up in a separate area, exchange news and admire each other’s  outfits before moving to a private dining room. This was graced with a long table, decorated with lights and crackers, which seated all 29 of us.

Thanks to our organisation team, consisting of Mark, Lisa and Janet, we each had a coloured slip of paper with our respective menu choices on it, avoiding the common confusion of: ‘Who ordered the salmon?’, ‘What starter did I choose?’ and ‘Who’s eaten my sticky toffee pudding?’ 

The staff were friendly and attentive, the conversation was good and the food was delicious.  What’s more, we managed to finish our meals more or less simultaneously. 

The crackers provided paper hats, some dismal jokes and spare pencils for the now traditional quiz, ably presented by Neville.  This was a mixture of general knowledge, the highway code affecting cyclists and the odd, sometimes very odd, quirky or trick question thrown in. The team consisting of Sharon and family plus David Leigh, called the Two Timers, scooped the pool, winning a box of chocolates and a very long dated Christmas pudding.  The chocolates were shared round the table, leaving everyone to speculate whose table the pudding will grace next Christmas.

Thanks are due to Dimple Well Lodge, our organisation team and quiz master for a very enjoyable evening.  More photos appear on our Facebook page.

Our Year starts with a WoW

2024 is Our Year for Wakefield District and you’ll see the Our Year logo and pink lettering all over the area. As part of the Moving Festival, WDCF has agreed to put on 12 WoW rides over 2024, with a Big WoW event on Sunday 4th August at Pugneys with 7 led rides of varying distances along the WoW route.

The first WoW of the series took place on Sunday 7th January, starting at the gardens of the Hepworth Wakefield. Nearly 40 people turned up, of whom almost half were new to WDCF.

With a total of four ride leaders, Malcolm, David K, Neville and Andy, it was decided to split the group in two, with half riding the WoW clockwise and the rest anticlockwise. Fortunately, the name of the route is palindromic, so it works either way. The clockwise or C team had the easier group and the best way round but no camera crew.    The A team, which included a tricycle, a tandem, some teenagers and three generations of the same family, set off into the glare of low winter sunlight, which only took the chill off a little.  

The illicit barriers on the bridleway at Portobello caused major problems, particularly for the less orthodox vehicles. 

Fortunately, the cyclists involved are independently mobile and help was at hand.

Few of the others were able to emulate the pair shown and convert their bikes to unicycles to get them through the narrow, off-set A-frame. 

After some impromptu lessons on how to change gear to get up steep hills, all made it to the top of Slack Lane. 

These delays did, however, scupper Malcolm’s plans to have the A and C teams arriving separately at Anglers, the chosen refreshment stop.  The staff there coped admirably with the unexpected influx, although the till broke down yet again.

A subsequent puncture on the road to Crofton sewage works was dealt with by the A team as swiftly as the rigid tyre wall would permit.

The C team managed the whole of the WoW, whilst the A team prudently avoided some very muddy, puddly uphill stretches and impending darkness by curtailing the route slightly. Nevertheless, a good time was had by all and lessons learnt for future WoWs.

Eventbrite Explained

As part of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council’s “Our Year” celebration of Wakefield’s Culture, WDCF were asked to organise a WoW Event in August, based from Pugneys Country Park. With the emphasis on showing off The WoW route, 7 rides of different lengths have been organised, up to and including a complete circuit of The WoW, to start at different times during the day to allow completion in the early afternoon.

To keep numbers safe and sensible, it was suggested that we use Eventbrite for organising a maximum of 15 participants on each ride plus a leader and back marker for each one.

In order to get the year off to a good start and make the best use of the advanced publicity from the Council, we also agreed to use Eventbrite to promote the monthly WoW rides starting with January 2024.

The response was almost overwhelming. There were 25 places made available and they had sold out between Christmas and the New Year. With 25 bookings plus leaders and back markers, even splitting the ride in 2 and going around the WoW in different directions, we numbered 36 in total! One of the largest rides we’ve guided in some years apparently.

Despite the cold, wet and muddy conditions, both rides covered as much of The WoW as they dared. We learned a lot from the day and everyone seemed to bear with us and enjoyed themselves.

We’ve seen some of the new people again during January and a few names keep popping up on the Eventbrite Bookings for future months.

From March, we’ve organised 2 simultaneous WoW rides per month with 15 places on each of them with ride leaders to cover. Even though we try not to turn away people who turn up for our rides, there comes a point at which safety comes into question and we might have to. With that in mind, we have concluded that The WoW rides from March onwards will need to be strictly ticket-only. We do hope that if you want to join in, you can book and enjoy the ride, hopefully in better weather. Tickets for each ride go on “sale”  6 weeks before the event, so don’t leave it until you’re expecting to see the Facebook post the week before, as it could be too late.

Anniversaries

Chevet Branch Line

The official opening of the cycle route along the Chevet branch line was 8 March 2014, so its 10 year anniversary will occur this year.

The Chevet Branch Line project was a large one for the Forum to manage with a total value of just under £100,000 and over 5 kilometres of new bridleway over the land of four different landowners. Wakefield District Cycle Forum provided a small amount of the funding for the scheme but the project was only possible through grants from the Paths for Communities programme, administered by Natural England on behalf of the European Union and the UK government, and assistance from our major partners Wakefield Metropolitan District Council. 

The Chevet Branch Line is a disused railway line and constitutes one of the longest stretches of ‘missing links’ identified by Forum members. These ‘links’ join up other existing cycle paths with a view to building a continuous network of traffic-free routes for cyclists throughout the district.  The Line forms an important stretch of the WoW route.

Sandy and David’s Seat

Those of you who regularly cycle through the Nostell Estate between Foulby/Nostell and Anglers Country Park will have noticed a bright blue bench overlooking one of the small lakes, which you pass by on your way. Maybe if you are on your way round the ‘Wheel’ you might choose this spot for a rest and a drink from your flask. The bench had its third anniversary on 31 December 2023.

But how did it get there?  As you might know, one of the main aims of Wakefield District Cycle Forum (the Forum) is to develop a joined-up, traffic-free network of cycle paths in the Wakefield District. The path which passes by this bench sits next to one of the paths constructed by the Forum with a grant from the National Lottery and funds from its own Path Fund.

The bench has a small plaque with the Wakefield District Cycle Forum engraved on it. Much larger are two names incorporated into the back of the seat. The names, Sandy and David, are not, as some people may think, there to commemorate the lives of a devoted couple who are no longer with us. Less romantically they represent Sandy Clark and David Keighley, the Forum’s ex Chair and vice-Chair, who were largely responsible for the construction of the path.

Sandy and David made the decision to install the seat in a place that not only commanded a lovely view but also had happy associations for them. It acts as a memorial seat but, unusually, one which has been, and hopefully will be for some time, enjoyed by the two cyclists to whom it is dedicated. Usually while enjoying a pork pie and a flask of coffee.

To mark the third anniversary of the seat David acquired two trees, a dogwood and a flowering cherry, which, with the help of our Workgroup leader, Andy Beecroft, are now planted on each side of the seat. These will add some colour to the location in spring and winter.

Thanks have to go to Nostell Estates for permission to install the path and the seat on their land.

Do enjoy a little sit-down on the Sandy and David seat when you are next passing.

Foreign News

Although many committee members have been away over the past few months, I’ve not had any reports of recent cycling holidays to pass on.  Cherry Oldham, however,  couldn’t resist hitching a ride when she saw this bike on her recent trip to America.

Thanks to a recent post on our Facebook page by Lisa, I now know you don’t need to travel abroad to see this cycle. It, or an identical copy of it, is at London Bridge.  The animals, apart from the occasional human rider, include an African elephant, a chimpanzee, a hippo, a rhino, a lion, a zebra and a mountain gorilla- all animals at risk.

Although suitable for a large and disparate family, I can’t see it catching on in Wakefield District – it would never get through chicane, let alone an A-frame or kissing gate!

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WDCF Newsletter September 2023

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

Facebook

Summer Events      

Cycling Holidays:

An overview by Sandi Kinkead

Riding the Rebellion Way by Neville Andrews

Open Country

Round The Wheel by Malcolm Morris

       

Facebook

It’s heartening to see the increase in traffic on our Facebook page over the past 12 months or so. Apart from our ride co-ordinator’s regular timely bulletins about upcoming rides or rare cancellations, you’ll find people posting about non-Forum rides they’ve been on recently, often with maps, warnings about hazards encountered on routes and requests for advice or assistance.

People post details of cycling holidays outside Yorkshire or even abroad and photos of Fun Days or their new tyres. Rather bizarrely, some-one complained about the number of photos featuring bikes. For them, here’s a photo of a collection of Austin Healeys whose drivers had assembled for a Rally at the first hotel we stayed at on our Rebellion Way trip.

Summer Events

Many of you will be familiar with our renowned Holiday Wednesdays, which take place every year at Nostell NT on each Wednesday of the school summer holidays. We publicise these on our Rides and Events leaflet and Facebook page, while the National Trust features them on its Nostell website.  We also get emails from parents asking if we’re doing the skills course again as their child enjoyed it so much last year.

The event requires a sturdy cohort of volunteers to build and man the circuit with its well-loved features- the low barrier to duck under, the poles to weave between, the roundabout which some set off round the wrong way or miss out altogether in an attempt to improve their  timing, the magic curtains and the rattly bridge, not to mention the two stop signs where bikes are abandoned, in the first case to rush over and move a cone from one rod to the other and in the second to run over and squeeze the horn to stop the time clock.  Riders can claim a certificate showing how long it took them to get round or postpone asking for this until they are confident they can’t do it again that little bit faster. Youngsters compete against siblings, their own earlier time or some against their time recalled from the previous year, although we do point out that we can’t guarantee that the trail is identical to that put up the previous week let alone last year.

Apart from course construction, volunteers are needed to obtain riders’ details and parental consents, adjust and hand out bikes and helmets (and claim them back afterwards!), manage the queues, time the circuits, prepare and issue certificates, deal with chains that have fallen off and other minor mechanical problems and finally take it all down afterwards.  We also hand out Rides Programmes, maps and advice, as well as colouring sheets for those resting between rides.  Like swans swimming, it all looks serene but there’s a lot going on under the surface.

This year we also assisted the council with their Kidz Club at Thornes Park, setting up and manning a skills course for two sets of children and then leading groups on circuits round the park. 

Malcolm was able to assist one young chap Noah (who’d just acquired his own bike but didn’t yet have enough confidence or experience to try the skills course) find his feet-or should that be wheels.  By the end of the session, he had cheerfully covered two miles.

Apart from encouraging youngsters to cycle, we’ve also had stalls at various public events to publicise what we do and persuade people to join or support us.  In July, a small group, consisting of Sandy, Meg and Neville, attended the Pontefract Liquorice Festival in the vain hope there might be some free samples. 

Sandy did win a pina colada on the adjacent tombola stand of the housing charity MHA, which did clarify why ‘Methodist’ is no longer spelled out in their title.   We had a number of visitors to our stand and gave away ride leaflets, maps and information.  Many grandparents were interested in Holiday Wednesdays for their grandchildren and others took ride details for visiting adult children who are keen cyclists. 

Finally, we did speak to people who were interested in coming on Forum rides themselves including some lapsed or rusty cyclists.

We also attended the Havercroft and Ryhill Fun Day in the grounds of the Community Learning Centre there. This is right next to the Havercroft Sports Centre from which our monthly rides start.  We were able to publicise these, the final holiday Wednesday of the year the following week and, for more practised riders, our monthly WoW rides.  Lou Galloway (Health Improvement Officer – Cycling at WMDC) came along to help and was able to point people in the direction of other assistance for would be cyclists that WDCF is not involved in.  It was an overcast but hopefully productive day.

I did find out from the Wakefield District Housing stand that all new housing built by them now includes a bike shed capable of holding up to 3 bikes – a step in the right direction.

Cycling Holidays

An overview by Sandi Kinkead

Having joined the Forum several years ago, my life seems to have been taken over with cycling.  I have successfully completed my ride leader training and lead an Easy Ride from Agbrigg Community Centre as well as back marking a ride from Thornes Park.  I have met many new friends and now even go on cycling holidays several times a year.  It’s been an amazing adventure so far.  The picture is of Cherry and me in the Cotswolds on a guided ride to Uffington White Horse and Dragon Hill. 

We were lucky that on the day we were there they were doing maintenance to the White Horse and visitors were allowed to help tidy up the limestone lines and do a spot of weeding.  As it was such a hot day, I left this to Cherry and our guide, Andy!  I had a little rest in the sun!!

We had lots of great rides and the weather was sublime for the entire week.

We have also been on 2 holidays to Holland, one to North Norfolk and our next holiday is to Derbyshire and the Tissington Trail.  

I can highly recommend cycling to anyone looking to enrich their lives physically, mentally and socially.  Start small with easy rides and before you know it you will be off on many adventures.

Riding the Rebellion Way by Neville Andrews

We recently completed the Rebellion Way in Norfolk.  This is a 232 miles circuit of the county along forest trails, bridleways and mainly quiet country roads with some sandy off-road sections.  The weather was kind, the previous weeks scorching temperatures had subsided, and the torrential rains had not yet arrived.  We were very lucky.

As this trip coincided with our 50th wedding anniversary, we did the route in style, staying at proper hotels and having the luggage moved between them by taxi. The longest day was 36 miles and some were considerably less.  This left plenty of time for taking in the wonderful scenery and even some off track excursions to visit interesting churches, castles etc..  The route is not signposted and I would recommend downloading the gpx plot from the Cycling UK website.  This only let us down on a couple of occasions and with a bit of common sense – no, we definitely don’t want to cycle up the driveway of that bungalow, we soon got back on track.

The normal start is from the railway station in Norwich but we chose Kings Lynn instead as it’s nearer and left the car at the spacious Knight’s Hill Hotel.  With an afternoon to spare, we decided to cycle the RW route into Kings Lynn and back.  I’m very glad we did, as by the time we got back from cycling the full RW route, we were happy to miss that bit out and go straight to the hotel for a well-deserved rest before heading home.

The first call on the trip was at Castle Rising, with one of the best preserved Norman keeps in the country, then on to Old Hunstanton via the Sandringham estate for an overnight stay at Le Strange Arms hotel, which wasn’t strange at all.

On the way to Wells-Next-The-Sea, we took a diversion to the pretty Ringstead Downs nature reserve.  Unfortunately, we overshot the entrance by a mile.  Fortunately, the way back was down the  steep hill we had just cycled up. 

Then followed a very long straight road through the extensive grounds of Holkham Hall – very reminiscent of Castle Howard, before reaching Wells and our next hotel, The Globe.

One of our concerns when stopping overnight was securing our bike.  The travel company had been assured by all the hotels that secure storage was available.  Generally, the hotels were able to provide some space for the bike but sometimes this just meant a room that wasn’t been used.  In all events, we had no problems, even if sometimes the immovable secure object we fastened the lock to was a dining chair!

The next day we called in at Walsingham Abbey for a pleasant stroll through the grounds whilst the custodian, herself a keen cyclist, kept a close eye on our bike.  People can be very kind.  Lunch was at The Shrine of Our Lady where I had a bacon sandwich and Meg had proper vegan fare.

For our anniversary, we stayed at The Feathers in Holt.  On going to the room, we found a very large box, a cake and a bouquet of flowers.  So that’s why our kids wanted a detailed itinerary!  Wondering how we were supposed to transport any large presents, the box was opened and three large helium balloons popped out.  Although we strapped these to the bike next morning for a photo, it was so windy that morning they represented a hazard and had to be left at the Feathers.

Next stop was Sheringham, a very busy seaside town.  It was especially busy that Saturday as there was a Morris dancing festival in full swing when we arrived.  We had to push the tandem through the various groups scattered across the town, with some onlookers showing more interest in our bike than in the dancing.

After Sheringham, the trail goes uphill through the woods of Beeston Regis Heath.  This was the only place where we lost our way.  Almost immediately after turning right along Calves Well Lane, look for a narrow dirt track on the left going into the woods.  If you are lucky, you may see a cardboard sign on the grass pointing the way.  There are many criss-crossing tracks through these woods but keep going generally east and you will eventually reach Sandy Lane.

Lunch was at Felbrigg Hall after which I took the tandem for a walk around the garden while Meg explored the hall.  Then on to Blickling Hall. Unfortunately, we were unable to stop and make the acquaintance of Ann Boleyn’s ghost, who apparently appears all dressed in white carrying her dripping, severed head.

A night at The Black Boys in Aylsham, reportedly named after King Charles II, was followed by one of my highlights of the trip: cycling alongside the Bure Valley Railway and being rewarded with the sight of a steam engine going full pelt.

Now halfway round the RW, we spent a pleasant couple of nights in Norwich at the Maid’s Head. We enjoyed a full day in Norwich on foot and explored the cathedral and the fascinating castle museum.  There was slight panic in the morning when we were about to resume the trip, as the bike wasn’t where we had left it, in the ‘secure’ meeting room.  The hotel had needed the room and had managed to move the bike, with a locked back wheel, down two flights of stairs and around a 180 degree passage.  Secure indeed! 

From Norwich, we cycled the longest day of the trip at 36 miles, to reach The Bell Inn at Rickinghall.  Slightly off the main RW route but the accommodation was worth the detour. 

This section of the route crosses the infamous Wacton Common.  On our visit this was dry but covered in knee high grass, which necessitated a messy clean of chain and sprockets. 

We also chose not to wade through the ford at the River Waveney but instead took the narrow bridge a little way upstream.

On the way to Thetford, another slight diversion to see the Tympanum in the nave of St Margaret’s Church in Tivetshall St Margaret.  This was created in the reign of Elizabeth 1 in 1587 and is one of the earliest examples in England. The painted boards stretch across the church, wall to wall and from the top of the rood screen to the roof.

Crossing Middle Harling Heath caused a bit of a problem with two kissing gates.  The first was very deep and surprisingly easy to negotiate. The second, however, wasn’t deep enough to allow the gate to swing and we had to take off the panniers and front wheel to get through. None of the three kissing gates we encountered on the RW would open fully so the Radar keys we brought were no help.

Thetford is the home to Dad’s Army and the town boasts several lifelike murals on various buildings.  This area was also the powerbase of Boudicca of the Iceni and the spectacular Thetford Treasure, now in the British Museum, was found nearby.  The stopover was at The Bell Hotel, yet another old coaching inn.

From Thetford the RW passes an active military training area, Grimes Graves – closed at the time of our visit and the Desert Rats memorial with a Cromwell tank on a plinth.  Then to the village of Oxburgh with the moated manor house of Oxburgh House (NT) nearby.

At Castle Acre there is a choice of two attractions, that of Castle Acre Priory and the castle itself.  Both splendid sites but due to lack of time we opted for the priory and its audio tour.  This is a well preserved Cluniac monastic site dating from 1090 with a small but interesting museum.

Then on to Swaffham for an overnight stay at Stratton’s Boutique Manor Hotel which was slightly odd with two ceiling height wooden pillars in the bedroom, but very welcoming.

The next section to King’s Lynn proved the most challenging of the whole route, possibly not helped by the fact that this was our 10th day of cycling – something we had not previously attempted.  Just after East Winch there are sections of deep sand, some of them uphill and, after nearly coming off a couple of times, we resorted to pushing the bike.  No photos – too tired.  By the time we reached the ruined church of St James at Bawsey, the track, although sandy, was firm underfoot and we made good progress.

Thankfully, that section was soon over and we carried on back to our original hotel for an overnight stop before heading home.

We both thoroughly enjoyed doing the Rebellion Way and will look to doing some more long distance routes in future.  It’s a fantastic route which most people seem to do in 4-5 days, but we did like the extra time to be able to branch off or linger whenever we felt like it.  We didn’t see a single A-frame  in all our time in Norfolk.

We can thoroughly recommend the company that organised this trip for us.  CycleBreaks sorted the hotels and luggage transfers and even provided a detailed daily itinerary which included points of interest.

Open Country

Neville and I have recently taken our tandem on a couple of Open Country rides.  Both we and they want to improve access to the countryside for all and we support each other’s efforts to obtain the removal of barriers on Wakefield’s cycle routes.  Having published their posters seeking voluntary pilots for their tandem rides in previous newsletters, I thought it might be helpful to know a bit more about what is involved. 

Our first ride started well from their base near Thornes Park. Their tandems are Orbit, like ours, but blue not black and with no electric assist.  We set off to Pugneys and cycled from there to Newmillerdam, finishing up with a circuit of Rabbit Ings, before returning to the start along virtually the same route. Unfortunately, when we’d got about half way, the heavens opened and we were all thoroughly soaked, despite some of us having waterproof jackets and showerproof gloves.  The pilots tended to be better protected than their passengers but no-one complained. 

On this ride the passengers were largely blind or partially sighted, which meant that there was generally a constant stream of conversation with the pilot explaining the route, warning when to duck and urging the passenger to pedal hard when a steep bit necessitated this.  The route taken avoided the nasty hills at Newmillerdam and we only came across two A-frames.  The section covered by Barnsley MDC was easier in that the only obstructions were generously spaced chicanes which the tandems negotiated without difficulty.

 It was all very friendly and good humoured. Both parties on the tandem seemed to get a lot out of it and the sodden clothing at the end didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for the next ride, although it did take 3 days for my shoes to dry out! The ride was just short of 18 miles at an average speed of 9 mph with no refreshment stop.  

Our second ride was in Barnsley with Bob, after meeting up at The Ash Inn, Wombwell. It was Open Country’s inaugural ride from Barnsley and had 5 pilots, including Neville, and two stokers, including me, so one pilot stayed on his solo bike while the other two spares teamed up. It was the first ride out too for a brand new shiny red electric tandem. Our blind stoker Diana was always keenest to keep moving, urging, ‘Come on, what are we waiting for?’.

It turned into a pleasant run along the TransPennine trail to the RSPB reserve at Old Moor and then back along Manvers Way, a total of just under 11 miles. With all the tandems safely stowed, there was time for a drink and a chat in The Ash Inn’s beer garden. Open Country now have two electric assist tandems and would still like more pilots.  They run rides from Newmillerdam, Thornes and Wombwell starting at 6pm and finishing around 9pm during the summer and early autumn, finishing when the clocks change.  If you’re interested, you can find out more at www.opencountry.org.uk/wakefield-project/   or email wakefield@opencountry.org.uk  

Round the Wheel by Malcolm Morris

WDCF offer rides of different distances from different venues over the Wakefield area, within the ride programme. Whilst the Easy Rides are the staple of the forum calendar, occasionally rides venture a bit further, such as the Thornes Park Steady + and The WoW Steady.

Whilst some of the rides touch on bits of the Wakefield Wheel route, there haven’t been any forum rides that have taken in the whole of the route for a few years now, despite it all being navigable. Prolonged wetter weather will probably make significant bits of this a bit dodgy but they are OK during the summer months.  

Having ridden on and around it fully recently with a small group, to review the conditions and signage etc, we now feel able to offer this as a Forum ride once again. As the wetter wintry conditions will soon be upon us, we are going to offer the ride this year from Nostell NT just the once on Friday 8th September, starting at the early hour of 09:00, if you’d like to join us.

Depending on feedback and enthusiasm, it is currently proposed that this might be offered in 2024 as a ride for the 5th Saturdays, when they occur, for which there have normally been no rides planned.

It’s 38 miles, starting from Nostell, and heads out anti-clockwise, off-road, across the fields to Normanton. There is a short, on-road, section to head towards Altofts and out towards the Aire & Calder Navigation. It’s flat-ish along the tow-path to Stanley Ferry and on towards Stanley. Then the steady incline starts, up the path of the old railway line. It’s not too steep but it does go on a bit, so find a gear that you can push and wind away or be prepared to walk up the last bit of it at least. After Lofthouse Gate there is a nice winding country path through the woods ending up alongside the M1 and then down a quiet lane. After Carr Gate the route drops down into the valley and inevitably has to come up the other side, into Kirkhamgate. This is roughly ½ way around and feels like the top of the world. Don’t be put off by it, but it’s only fair to warn you that the loose and rocky surface on the descent, after going under the motorway, needs to be respected. It is passable safely with the speed and care that your bike type and line choice allow. If in any doubt, walk over the worst of it. The rest of the route is nothing like as uneven as this. It’s then another gradual incline until we get to Ossett and some very welcome downhill, but it is on the road until we go through the park. A few quiet roads and we’re through to Horbury and descending to Green Lane and the path along the Calder and Hebble Navigation towards Thornes Park. We turn back along the side of the A636 towards Pugneys and thread through the little park towards Slack Lane. I won’t fib, this is going to be an effort, as it’s steep, reasonably long and is probably nearly the 30mile mark, but, as Andy often says, “That’s all the climbs pretty much done!” 😊

A quick zip down the Chevet Line and back on ourselves to Cold Hiendly and up to Pugneys, and into Nostell NT via the new tree-lined path and that’s it. There’s even a special T-shirt available, for a very reasonable £5, to mark the occasion (I’m not on any commission, but I’ll be having one 😉).

Being such a large ride and depending on the needs of the riders, there are many café options and we might need several. See you at the start.

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WDCF Newsletter June 2023

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

A new website is launched

Volunteers wanted

Green Libraries Scheme

Preparing for summer

The WoW wows

Another new path completed

A new website is launched

Wakefield Council has commissioned a new website to bring together a plethora of information about cycling in the Wakefield District.  The site, called Cycle Wakefield, can be found at cyclewakefield.co.uk and provides valuable information and resources about all things cycling, including advice, trails, routes, tips, education, and much more.

Cycle Wakefield is collaborative title for the diverse group of cycling enthusiasts, dedicated to promoting cycling in the Wakefield area, who’ve been involved in creating and supporting the new website and what it stands for.  It is made up of a range of organisations including Wakefield Council, Wakefield District Cycle Forum, SUSTRANS, Open Country and other cycling clubs and groups.

The site was launched during National Bike Week (6 – 12 June) on the 6th June from the garden of the Hepworth Wakefield.  An intrepid group of 14, including 3 tandems two of them from Open Country, Councillor Mohammad Ayub, who started work as the Council’s new Cycling Champion that day and whose role will be to raise awareness of and support for cycling initiatives and organisations across the Wakefield District, John Gallagher WMDC Health Improvement Specialist and Lou Galloway WMDC Health Improvement Officer.

In pre-launch publicity, Councillor Ayub said:

 “We are excited to be part of the launch of the new website and celebrate National Bike Week. The new website will be a valuable resource for cyclists in Wakefield and beyond, helping them to explore the beauty of our region and enjoy the many benefits of cycling.

We hope that the new website will encourage more people to take up cycling and explore the many wonderful routes and trails in our area.

Cycling is a fantastic way to stay active, connect with nature, and enjoy the great outdoors, and we are proud to support and promote this healthy, fun, and eco-friendly activity.”

The new website features a section on cycling safety, with tips and guidelines for riders of all ages and abilities and also includes maps highlighting popular cycling routes and trails, as well as information about local events, clubs, and organisations.

In addition, the website offers resources for those interested in cycling education and training, including information about bike maintenance, gear, and accessories.

Links on the Cycle Wakefield website could help those who are not yet ready for our Easy rides get started or those who can happily complete all our Steady rides find something cycling related to do for the rest of the week.

For more information about Cycle Wakefield and the new website, please visit cyclewakefield.co.uk.

Volunteers Wanted

Open Country, a charity that helps people with disabilities to access the countryside, is looking for tandem pilots. Ella Dixon, speaking for them, explained: ‘We are based in Wakefield, about a mile south of the city centre.

We tend to cycle between 12 – 20 miles, sometimes with a pub stop, around the green spaces in Wakefield. We don’t require a big commitment and just need to know a week or so before so we can find a suitable stoker (back rider). You can come as much or as little as suits you. 

We cycle every Wednesday and Thursday 6-9pm, and the season started on the 5th April.’ 

If you would like more information or think you might like to become a tandem pilot for Open Country, please call Ella on 07426 716677 or email: wakefield@opencountry.org.uk 

Green Libraries Scheme

WMDC has recently signed up to the ‘green libraries’ scheme.  The initiative aims to encourage more people to use a bike or walk to libraries instead of driving, thereby helping to tackle environmental concerns and reduce vehicle emissions. Reading a book uses less electricity than the tv, tablet or kindle and taking it back when you’ve read it is even simpler and more eco-friendly recycling than washing out a milk bottle.

You can find your local library at www.wakefield.gov.uk/libraries-and-local-history/ .  There’s even a list of community libraries in the Related Pages section.  

Bike repair stations have been supplied at Airedale and Stanley Libraries.  WDCF attended a publicity event at Stanley Library on the 29th April with a bike doctor contingent from The Brig from Altofts and the police bike marking team. 

Although no-one wanted to come on an impromptu short ride with us, we were able to assist a nervous rider get round the car park successfully and hand out ride leaflets and advice.  We will be visiting Airedale library for a similar event on 24th June so, if you’re in the area, do come along.

Preparing for summer

This spring has produced swathes of yellow cowslips, followed by drifts of azure bluebells.  A wealth of May blossoms highlights field edges as we loop round the lupins, bedazzled by bright broom.

Unfortunately, despite the very wet weather we’ve experienced recently, some are predicting that this summer will be as hot as last year when on 19 July 2022 a new record UK high of 40.3C was recorded at Coningsby in Lincolnshire. An official drought was declared in large parts of England in August, as low-water levels and tinder-dry conditions gripped the UK.  Locally, cornfields caught fire and hosepipes were banned until earlier this year.  

Burgeoning blossoms or a sudden shower can make sappy spring growth droop, so you may need to duck on paths that were easily passable a few weeks ago.  A helmet will help avoid twigs in your hair and shades can protect your eyes in more ways than one.  Young nettles sting ferociously so leggings can be useful and gloved hands are better for pulling up the ones near an ‘A’-frame or kissing gate.

When planning summer rides, bear in mind that woodlands and treelined canals or old railway lines are much cooler than open fields or town tarmac.  Make sure you’ve got plenty of water with you and, when applying sunscreen, don’t forget the tops of your ears. The ventilation slots in cycle helmets can produce some interesting tan lines if there’s nothing underneath to ward off the sun!

When collecting a group together, whether at the start of a ride, at the top of a steep hill or before crossing a busy road, consider assembling in a shady spot, rather than in full sun.  Stop periodically for water breaks and be aware that an ice-cream, a nice cup of tea or a cool pint can be very welcoming at the end of a hot ride.

The WoW Wows

This year’s decision to replace the monthly Nostell Steady rides with a circuit round the Wonders of Wakefield on our iconic ride of that name has proved popular and the use of a variety of starting venues has made it easier to introduce the ride to new participants.

The June WoW ride set off from Agbrigg Community Centre at a slightly slower pace than is usual for a steady ride. Sharon, Mags and Lisa, stalwarts of our easy rides, courageously rose to the challenge of our iconic 21 mile route, joined by one new potential member, others who’d not ridden with us for some time and the usual suspects.

After problems with gear changing, Sharon swapped her bike as we passed Nostell.  This was followed by a tyre virtually exploding as we crossed Metcalfe’s field of rape, which was ably fettled by the team. The third and final occurrence was a puncture as we were leaving the Walton to Agbrigg path to return to the community centre, so that bike went straight in the car to go home.  

Despite these mishaps, our easy riders stayed the course and a good time was had by all.

One rider who moved into the area recently from the south of England commented that she hadn’t realised there were so many lovely things to see round here.  We knew and we’re happy to share.

Another new path completed

(A short item on a short route with a long series of photos)

 The new path was the idea of David Keighley, who negotiated the appropriate permissions with Lord St Oswald and arranged the contractors. WDCF did the preliminary site clearance and financed the work.

 

A small working party, Andy Beacroft, David Keighley, Neville and Meg Andrews, cleared the way for contractors, Bedford House Estates, to construct a picturesque, short, treelined cycle path to move move one of the access points from the A638 Doncaster Road at Foulby to the permissive trails across Nostell Estates, to a more convenient point with better sight lines. 

Andy’s merry band hacked back vegetation and moved the line of a fence to allow access to the path whilst preserving the boundary with the adjacent school.

The contractors, who had already proved their worth on our Agbrigg path, swiftly produced a shady direct route. 

All it needed then was signage and Sharon swiftly seized a hammer to knock in the necessary nails. That done, the path was immediately put to good use.

 

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WDCF Newsletter March 2023

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

Rides Programme Changes
Pontefract Park
New Rides
     -Agbrigg
     -Rycroft
     -Eastmoor

New For This Year- Monthly WOW Rides

Changes to the Highway Code
Going Dutch
Something Completely Different

Rides Programme Changes

The weather in January of this year was typically British and very erratic. We had mild sunny days with tiny snowdrops peeping out at the edge of the path, lasting cold when the frost stayed by day and night and there were concerns about evening peak time electricity supplies and then heavy persistent rain bringing threats of flooding.  Storm Otto brought high winds that continued into February, bringing down trees and scattering small branches and debris across the paths.

We had to cancel a couple of easy rides – muddy paths next to flooded rivers aren’t conducive to inspiring confidence in more nervous riders and the alterative of taking to the roads instead was impracticable when sudden gusts risked flinging someone into the path of a passing bus.  In light of this sort of experience, it has been decided that in 2024 there will be no easy rides scheduled in January or February.  If a ride leader, having consulted their seaweed and wind sock, decides they’re happy to proceed with a steady ride then the ride will be advertised on our Facebook page a week in advance and, in the absence of hell or high water, will go ahead.

Catkins have been shaking their tails since January and crocuses are now joining daffodils in the verges.  Farmers are flailing their hedges before the birds start to nest so you’ll need to keep your eyes open for blackthorn twigs, as their thorns are ferocious. If you are riding past the lake at Anglers Country Park, we recommend that, for the moment, when starting at the visitor centre you go anti-clockwise round the lake or, for those of you just used to digital time pieces, fork right when you reach the water.  

Pontefract Park

On the 3rd February, the committee of WDCF received an email from an officer of Wakefield Council reading:  ‘Unfortunately, all cycling activities at Aspire@ThePark are to cease for the time being .. due to issues regarding the current byelaw that is in place.”

The committee sprang into action.  Our Rides Co-ordinator wrote in response seeking clarification and posted such details we had at that stage on the Forum’s Facebook page, provoking more interest than any previous post or survey had done.

Veteran member Doctor Sandy Clarke commented ‘What a joke. The cycleway round the park was one of the first we had done after the Forum became active.  Will I get arrested when I cycle through the park tomorrow? Why don’t they just suspend/repeal the Bye-Law?’

Our Chair asked for  sight of the byelaw referred to and visited Wakefield Library seeking a copy of it, where she was referred on to Pontefract library .  They agreed to search for it, but couldn’t find any trace. Meg asked that in the meantime any  enforcement action be suspended.  By Monday 13th February, two byelaws made in 1926 and 1952 had been found and copies sent to us.  Details were immediately posted on our website and Facebook page and copies sent to Pontefract Library, for which they were grateful.

Basically, the byelaws prohibit cycling in the park except in designated areas and accessing those areas.  The designated areas are the route from the park gates off Park Lane to the racecourse and then down the edge of the racecourse the furthest from the highway to the track which forms a T-junction with a path going one way under the motorway and the other way over it. Access to this route from Aspire is also allowed.  A map showing the permitted route can be found on our campaigns page, together with the infamous byelaws.

The problem was raised and resolved with the situation clarified within 10 days at the cost of just one ride and a few more grey hairs!

New Rides

Agbrigg

Sandi and Cherry continue with the Agbrigg rides which started last year after we completed the Agbrigg to Walton path which starts nearby. 

It has been a slow start but the ride is well supported by members. Sandi is building up a good relationship  with the local community centre which should help gain new riders.  WMDC has provided some bike lockers and the Forum has supplied some loan bikes so non-bike owners are welcome to join the rides.

Rycroft

The first official WDCF Rycroft ride set off on Sunday 15th January 2023 from the Rycroft Leisure Centre, which is in Mulberry Avenue Ryhill WF4 2BB. 

Havercroft (the site of the kissing gate pictured, which won’t open fully even with a radar key, and the horse step over with rails round it so a horse can’t get over it!) and Ryhill are adjacent, so the Leisure Centre, which serves them both and has parking, loos and refreshment facilities, including a licensed bar, merges the two names to form Rycroft. 

We had a good turnout for the first ride including a couple of local riders.  They happen to be longstanding members of the forum and had seen one of our posters in the library.  It was nice bright spring weather and the one puncture suffered enroute was soon repaired at our Anglers refreshment stop. 

The February Rycroft ride followed a storm which snapped branches off and brought down trees, one falling across the proposed route.  

Fortunately, the ride leader had checked the route on Friday afternoon so the ride was able to proceed as planned although with a short diversion.

Eastmoor

Wakefield District Cycle Forum has introduced some new easy rides this year. One of these rides begins on Saturday the 8th April and starts from St Swithun’s Community Centre, Eastmoor WF1 4RR at 10.30am.  It continues on the 2nd Saturday and the 3rd Friday of each month.

These Rides are for beginners and those that haven’t cycled for a while.  All are welcome so please come along and join us. If you have a bike that’s good – just turn up.  

If not, we have a limited number of bikes to borrow for the ride.  To book a bike email :- rides@cycling-wakefield.org.uk

For further information on our rides please visit our website, cycling-wakefield.org.uk or Facebook page, facebook.com/groups/WDCF1 

The photos show some of the views we may see on our Eastmoor rides.  We look forward to showing them to you.      

New for this year- Monthly Wonders of Wakefield Ride

New for 2023, we will be leading a ride around the Wonders of Wakefield route on the 1st Sunday of the month.  In March & April we will start from Nostell Priory but in May the start moves to Walton Park.  Check Facebook for the latest details before you set out to join us..

The Wonders of Wakefield – the WoW, is a picturesque 21 mile, mostly traffic free cycle trail passing some of the most important sites of historic and cultural interest in the district.  See where Richard of York gave battle in vain – and died.  It also introduces the visitor to some of the best of Wakefield countryside and the variety of wildlife that lives on the edge of the city.

The route is circular and can be done in either direction but for a first time, it is advised that anti-clockwise is preferable.  It is also possible to traverse the route in sections or to cut it short should the weather prove inclement.

The leaflet can be downloaded from our website: https://cycling-wakefield.org.uk/maps/

Changes to the Highway Code

The term ‘hierarchy of road users’ is a new addition to The Highway Code. It was created to prioritise people who are most at risk if an accident were to happen, and so pedestrians are classed as the most vulnerable. Within that category, there is added vulnerability given to children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The full hierarchy is as follows: 

  1. Pedestrians
  2. Cyclists 
  3. Horse riders 
  4. Motorcyclists 
  5. Cars 
  6. Vans/minibuses 
  7. Large passenger or courier vehicles like buses and HGVs 

You may be surprised to find that cyclists are deemed more vulnerable than horse riders, although in a collision between the two I’d expect the cyclist to come off worst.  We are generally more predictable than horses and giving them a wide berth is safer for both sides.

The new rules state that drivers can cross a double white line (usually prohibited) if the cyclist is going under 10 miles per hour, provided that it is safe to do so – they must not endanger drivers on the other side of the road, or the cyclist. In theory, therefore, if the cyclist is doing 12 or 13 miles per hour or more, the articulated lorry behind should stay there until the double white lines cease.  In those circumstances, I’d be tempted to drop my speed below 10mph just to see the back of them.  The rules are logical.  Double white lines occur in places where overtaking is likely to be unsafe and the faster the cyclist is going, the longer the overtaking vehicle will be in the wrong carriageway.

When overtaking, vehicle drivers are required to leave at least 1.5 metres between them and the bike, and if they’re driving over 30 miles per hour, they should leave even more room. To quote Michael Caine, it seems, ‘not a lot of people know that.’ Cyclists need wobble room and space to avoid drains and road debris.  The faster a vehicle is going, the longer it takes to stop or take avoiding action and the more likely it is to drag a cycle into its slipstream.  This is not a hazard car drivers face if a cyclist passes a line of traffic stuck in a traffic jam or overtakes an empty parked car when there is a driver coming the other way on a residential street.

Useful links

Going Dutch

North Holland by Boat and Bike

We had to postpone our planned ferry crossing to Rotterdam many times because of Covid but eventually in September 2022 we managed to arrange a trip that combined accommodation and meals on a river boat with cycle rides around different areas of North Holland.

We travelled from Hull to Rotterdam on the ferry, with our tandem safely stowed inside the car, and drove to Amsterdam to meet the boat.  Once there our bike was safely loaded onboard along with the boat company’s hire bikes – sturdy Dutch type models, with a fair proportion of e-bikes.  Needless to say, we had the only tandem!      

The accommodation was in a comfortable twin room on the upper deck with ensuite facilities and  a large opening window.   We had been advised not to take hard luggage and there was plenty of space to store clothes and equipment, together with the essential jelly babies and muesli bars.    The boat – MS Serena, is owned by a German company and most of the passengers were from Germany but the staff were friendly, helpful people from the Czech republic. 

At the last minute we were warned that the company were not able to cater for vegans and this nearly led to us cancelling the holiday.  In the event, we provided our own oat milk and Flora sachets and the staff were brilliant and managed to provide innovative vegan meals for Meg.  One of the staff even provided her own jar of peanut butter for Meg to make suitable lunchtime sandwiches.                                           

As soon as everyone was onboard, the boat set off for Hoorn where it moored for the night.  Each day saw us at a different starting location but the daily process remained the same.  An evening briefing, in English, gave details of different routes, points of interest along the way, a map of the town we were cycling to, together with the location of the boat, and a deadline for getting there.  We were also provided with a booklet of route maps and an itinerary for each route.  The highlighted routes varied from 15 miles to 40 miles but we never did more than 24 miles on any day.

The following day, the bikes were offloaded by the staff – 80+ bikes up and down a steep ramp twice a day – all done without a single word of complaint.  We were generally on the road by 10:00 and most of the other cyclists seemed to be swallowed up by the countryside, leaving Meg & I to our own devices – magic!  We did occasionally bump into other cyclists from the boat but would exchange a friendly greeting and then carry on with our own route.  GPX files had previously been provided, which proved useful at times, but the well-known Dutch system of waymarked posts was usually very easy to follow

For anyone wanting the Dutch equivalent of Garmin Connect, Komoot etc., I recommend downloading the ‘Fietsknoop’ app.  It is free, unless you wish to store multiple routes, and is easy to use.

Cycling at our own pace, the deadline for returning to the boat was easy to adhere to and we were able to visit museums, cafes and the obligatory windmill. 

One of the highlights was a visit to the massive Woudagemaal steam pumping station near Enkhuizen.

Meg & I were the only English speaking visitors but the brilliant tour guide from the boat had arranged for us to have our very own Dutch engineer guide.

The weather remained kind for the most part, not many strong winds and the only real showers occurred on the last day when most of the passengers stayed onboard – not us!

Sadly, and all too soon the last day saw us cycling from Zaandam to Amsterdam and being suitably impressed by the simple bike routes through a major city and the free ferries.

The car was available on the quayside and on Saturday we set off back to Rotterdam via The Hague, calling in at the Gallery of Modern Art, with an extensive exhibition of works by Anthony Gormley.

If anyone is thinking of planning something similar and would like more details, please get in touch via info@cyling-wakefield.org.uk

Nev & Meg Andrews

And now for something completely different

Members of the committee are generally sustained in their deliberations by sustenance provided by their host – tea, coffee, water and sometimes cake. Ruth’s lemon drizzle cake in particular was very popular.  After an unexpected bill from Ackworth Parish Council (later cancelled), committee meetings are now held at Pugneys, where only liquid and entirely non-alcoholic refreshments are provided. Complaints have been received recently about the absence of my homemade flapjacks, which are vegan friendly and, if you use the right sort of oats, gluten free, as well as very easy to make and tasty.

You will need:         140g dairy free spread

120g   soft brown sugar

2 tablespoons of golden syrup

175g   rolled oats and

150g   mixture of chopped nuts, raisins, chopped apricots, pumpkin seeds etc

The oven should be at 140C if it’s a fan oven or 160C for an ordinary one. First melt the spread, sugar and syrup over medium heat then take the pan off the heat and add the oats, fruit and nuts. Mix them and tip everything into a lined 20cm square baking tin or loose bottomed cake tin and flatten it down.

Bake for 30- 35mins until it’s lightly golden and crisp round the edges, cool slightly and slice. I usually cut it into a medley of sizes to suit different appetites. The flapjacks will keep in a tin for up to three days (if you hide it!).

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WDCF Newsletter December 2022

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

MICE Cards
AGM
Campaigns – Vision Zero
                   – Barriers
Christmas   – Our Tree
                   – Our Dinner
Santa Rides
Cycle training in Canada
Tale of Two Benches
Rides Programme 2023

MICE Cards

What, you may ask, is a MICE card?  The ‘M’ is for Membership. New members when they join WDCF will get a membership card and cards will then be rolled out to our existing members.  This will avoid confusion for those who just join our Facebook group and think this makes them members.  When you pay the fee (at present £5) and sign the application form, you become a voting member of the Forum and eligible to stand for a place on the committee.  Our indemnity insurance only allows non-members to come on 3 rides before they join, so the distinction is important.

On joining any ride with us, you are asked to sign in, giving your name and a contact number for use in an emergency, with confirmation that you are over 18 and indicating if you are a member.  A surprisingly high number of people have problems recalling the mobile number of their nearest and dearest- or that of the person they most trust to come to their aid if something untoward happens.  It’s hardly surprising when you think that most of us have those we ring most often on speed dial and rarely actually dial, or rather press, their number.Mice card

To avoid the embarrassment of having to put ‘999’ because you can’t recall your brother’s mobile number, we are combining an ‘In Case of Emergency’ card with the Membership card to make MICE. If you’re carrying the card, on the ride registration form you just need to put MICE in the contact column and make sure it’s somewhere easy to find if you get knocked out by a low hanging branch and need to be collected.

AGM

The minutes of our AGM are available on our website on the Membership and Meetings Page. The committee membership is unchanged apart from the ratification of David Leigh as treasurer following Joyce Roche’s retirement earlier in the year.

The minutes usefully outline what we’ve done over the last 12 months, including our attendance at Wakey Green Trial in the Ridings, pictured below, and our proposals for the future. 

     

It was agreed that the minimum age for participating in a Forum ride without an accompanying adult be dropped from 18 to 16, which might encourage some younger riders.

The 2023 AGM was provisionally fixed on Thursday 28 October at 18:45 at Wakefield Town Hall so now’s the time to save the date.

Campaigns

Vision Zero

For 2023, Wakefield District Council is gathering information about road safety issues for cyclists in the district.  They don’t propose to wait for next year to start but would like information now, whether it’s cycle lanes that are persistently parked on or those that stop suddenly leaving riders in a vulnerable position with no easily discernible safe onward route, junctions where a wider exit from the side road would make it easier and safer to join the main road or traffic lights where sensors to change the light don’t react to a solitary cycle.

Information can be sent to cyclingsteeringgroup@wakefield.gov.uk or if you send it to info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk, we’ll collate it and send a combined response or you could do both!  Data will help WMDC form its plans for the work to be done next year.  Cycling is cleaner, healthier and cheaper than most other forms of transport and doesn’t contribute to global warming.  It needs encouraging for the sake of the nation and the planet.  Please help us promote it as widely as possible.

Barriers

One of Wakefield District Cycle Forum’s dreams is to have a barrier free Cycle Network within our district so the Forum have started to compile a list of locations where cyclists have to stop to negotiate a barrier, for example A-frames, chicanes, gates, etc.

With the number we have found so far, I think we’re quite a way from that yet, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

To see the ones we’ve covered already, please see the list below and accompanying map. If you know or come across any more within the Wakefield District area, please email info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk with type and location – a photo would also be nice if possible. 

Barrier map
Click to enlarge
  1. Trans Pennine Trail off Navvy Lane, just in Barnsley area. (A-Frame)
  2. P.T. off Navvy Lane towards Wakefield. (A-Frame)
  3. Off Haw Park Lane entrance to Haw Park Woods. (A-Frame)
  4. Off Cow Lane (Gated chicane) cyclist need to lift bike over.
  5. Off Cow Lane towards Brier Lane. (A-Frame)
  6. Off Shay Lane. (K-Frame)
  7. Off Hare Park Lane. (K-Frame)
  8. Pugney’s Road. (A-Frame)
  9. P.T off Welbeck Lane. (A-Frame)
  10. P.T. Accesses to Canal tow path. (A-Frame)
  11. Newton Avenue to Umpire Close. (A-Frames)
  12. Bridge over the River, lots of steps both sides.
  13. Cycle path south off Whinbeck Avenue. (A-Frame)
  14. Cycle path North off Whinbeck Avenue. (A-Frame)
  15. Cycle path off Gleneagles Drive. (Gated chicane)
  16. Cycle path, Pontefract Park. (A-Frame)
  17. Cycle path, Pontefract Park. (A-Frame)
  18. Cycle path, Pontefract Park. (A-Frame)
  19. M62 underpass. (A-Frame)
  20. Off Pugneys Road cycle path towards Sandal. (A-Frame)
  21. Cycle path, Sandal & Agbrigg Station. (A-Frame)
  22. Cycle path, Sandal & Agbrigg Station Walton end. (A-Frame)
  23. Spring Mill Lane, Wakefield Road end. (Gate with access at side)
  24. Spring Mill Lane, Golf club. (Gate with access at side)
  25. Access to canal side cycle path Fairies Hill towards Wakefield. (Difficulty Gate)
  26. Cycle path, Wood Green. (A-Frame)
  27. Cycle path, Pasture Way. (A-Frame)
  28. Cycle path, Chestnut Grove. (A-Frame)
  29. Cycle path Aketon Road, (Very narrow chicane)
  30. Access to Fitzwilliam Country Park Wentworth Terrace. (K-Frame)
  31. Access to cycle path from Mill Lane. (Very narrow chicane)
  32. Cycle path into Tup Lane. (A-Frame)
  33. Nostell NT. (Gate)
  34. Anglers lake cycle path to Santingley Lane. (Kissing gate)
  35. Cycle path, Haw Park Woods. (Kissing gate)
  36. Bridge over the River. (Steps both sides)

David Keighley

Christmas

Our Tree

As part of its Christmas festivities, Nostell decorates the house and invites a select number of local groups to spruce up a tree in festive gear for display in the courtyard. 

Here’s some of our elves hard at work recycling bits of bicycles , baubles and tinsel to create a splendid cycle themed tree in our signature blue.

Why not call in to have a look next time you’re passing?

Our Dinner

We had a splendid Christmas dinner in smart surroundings at the King’s Croft Hotel, Pontefract.  The settings were convivial, the company good and the food delicious. 

Our  hosts had provided a delicious menu catering for those who preferred red meat, fowl, fish or plants.  Calls for extra gravy were swiftly satisfied, as was the cry for Christmas crackers.

After Christmas pud and brandy sauce (the most popular choice) or some other sweet offering,  came coffee and the chair’s resume of the year. 

The fantastic finale was Neville’s Christmas quiz with a question for each year of the current century, although a fair few of the questions were older than that.

The prize, a bottle of gin kindly donated by  Roger Moreton,  who was unfortunately unable to attend, was won by  Beth Kaye, Darcie Leech and Adam Tennant.         

Thanks are also due to Janet Taylor, Mark Beswick and Meg Andrews, for their combined efforts in arranging the meal, Cathryn Vaughton for the photos and Kings Croft for the food and the microphone, without which the quiz would have been even harder.

Santa Rides

Having dressed yourself beautifully for our Christmas dinner, now’s the chance to dress up your trusty steed for one-or both- of our celebrated Santa Rides.  Riders are expected to be suitably and warmly attired.  The picture shows a couple carrying out a ‘Elf and safety’ check on the route.

You can choose to join us  at 10.30am at Nostell on the 11th December, where you will see our Christmas tree featured above, or Saturday 17th at 10.30am at Queen’s Mill.  A hot drink and a mince pie will be provided, but not necessarily at the beginning of the ride. 

The smartest bike and most festive costume will be rewarded with cheery smiles and waves from passers by.

Cycle Training in Canada

My son, Daniel, lives in Ottawa, Canada with his two children and partner, Kelly.

Since the snow melted last April, Daniel had been trying to teach his five year old daughter, Eva, to ride a bike. He had little success after several months, so to avoid the possibility of injury he had given up trying and fitted her bike with trainer wheels.

Like most parents who work full time and are not involved in education the long school summer holiday is a challenge. The summer holidays in Canada are even slightly longer than in the UK.

To cope they enrolled Eva in a number of Summer Schools through August.

My wife and I arrived in mid-August to ease the burden on Daniel and Kelly for the remainder of the school summer holiday.

The last Summer School Eva attended was what we would call ‘Bikeability’. It was run by an outfit called Pedal Heads who hired a Jewish Community Centre/College to deliver the training.       

The course was run over five mornings and cost the equivalent of £190. (Nothing is cheap in Canada except motoring and urban public transport).

The course was obviously worth it as in less than two mornings Eva was a confident rider. Her trainer wheels were gone and the instructor was able to run with Eva until she was “launched” and continued to pedal. (I assume that this is the standard method for teaching children to ride unaided).

In the subsequent weeks she improved her skills and is looking forward to longer distance cycling (with adult supervision) from next Spring. (Cycling between October and April is not too much fun in Ottawa as temperatures can drop as low as -30 degrees centigrade.)

Mark Beswick

Tale of Two Benches

Earlier this year we told you that the bench celebrating the life of the late John Harvey had been commissioned.  It has now been erected and a small plaque added,  It looks very smart and, like Sandy and David’s bench, will be well used.

A second bench was put up nearby by WMDC, the Italian  custard coloured concrete bench featured in an earlier newsletter.  This seat was not universally appreciated and last month some-one tipped it over, thereby revealing that only gravity was keeping it in place.  The incident has been reported so watch this space.

Rides Programme 2023

We are currently supporting our extensive programme of over 120 guided rides with an ever decreasing number of Ride Leaders.  If anyone reading this would like to help, either as Backmarker or as Ride Leader, please get in touch.  I can be contacted via ‘info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk’ and am more than happy to explain what’s involved and the support you can expect.  Remember that if there’s no-one willing to go in front, the ride can’t happen.

The Forum receives an annual grant from WMDC which helps us to provide kit and training and keep our loan bikes running.  It also enables us to champion new safe cycle routes and keep the existing ones open.

For 2023, WMDC have changed the emphasis on the rides that they require us to provide.  We have also been tasked with providing Easy rides from two new locations – Ryhill & Eastmoor. The focus now is on Entry / Easy rides and getting more people active through cycling.  For this reason, we are prioritising beginners’ rides and these are the ones that will be published in the leaflet for next year.  The website will still show all rides and each ride will continue to be advertised as an event on Facebook.

The Steady rides will continue but we desperately need new volunteers who are willing to train as Ride Leaders– all expenses paid.

It has also been decided that we should try to limit the number of cyclists per Ride Leader on any ride and to this end we will be introducing a booking system for use by Forum members.  This should enable us to call for back-up should a ride prove to be very popular.  We will still welcome non-members who turn up on the day.  Elsewhere in this newsletter, there is an article about the new MICE (Member In Case of Emergency) card.  These will be issued on the first ride and members will be expected to bring them every time.  This is the same process that WMDC Active Walking groups have to adhere to.

Finally, in case you hadn’t got the message – we need more Ride Leaders (and Backmarkers)!

Neville Andrews
WDCF Rides Coordinator

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WDCF Newsletter September 2022

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

Agbrigg to Walton Path

Events  – Holiday Wednesdays

              – Thornes Park

              – Agbrigg celebration

Rides

Bike Marking

Reporting Close Passes

Workdays

AGM

At Last- Agbrigg to Walton Path

After a long campaign, reported in previous newsletters, and some trials and tribulations along the way, the new Agbrigg to Walton path has now been completed and is already being put to good use. It was officially opened in the presence of Council Leader Denise Jeffrey, the local MP Jon Trickett, local councillor Usman Ali, representatives of Agbrigg and Belle Vue Community Association, including their director Peter Hirst, Wakefield District Cycle Forum, Friends of Walton Colliery Nature Reserve and the Wakefield Express.

It’s not entirely over yet.  Comments were made about the difficulty crossing Oakenshaw Lane to get to Walton Country Park.  The speed limit is 60mph and the crossing point is between two blind bends.  We have suggested extending the 30mph limit a fairly short distance to cover the area would be a start, plus a raised crossing and some warning signs. 

Whilst fit cyclists shouldn’t have much problem, wheelchair users, parents with pushchairs and the more infirm are in danger of getting run over. The hard of hearing are also at more risk but that vulnerability will extend to us all as the usage of electric vehicles expands.  Unfortunately, road schemes in other parts of the city seem to have increased the traffic on Oakenshaw Lane apparently starting as early as 7 am.  We pointed out that it would help active travel immensely if the situation were remedied.  The manager of WMDC’s traffic team has been asked by the Service Director for Environment, Street Scene & Climate Change, Gary Blankinsop, (who kindly arranged for both the redundant and new kissing gate at Agbrigg to be removed) to consider the proposal and come back to us.  Their response will be passed on as soon as we get it.

Events

Holiday Wednesdays

After a lengthy hiatus due to Covid, WDCF has been able to resume its much missed August Holiday Wednesdays at Nostell. 

These popular events are completely free to participants and involve an information stand, unusual bikes to try, a ride round the park and, most important, a cycle skills course.

Children can use their own bikes or one of the Forum’s to go round the circular course, complete with twists and turns, a roundabout, move the cone, bumpy road, magic curtain and finally a horn to stop the clock.  Children can choose to be timed and compete against themselves or their friends or try for the fastest time of the day.  Certificates are awarded to all taking part who want them.

Thornes Park

This year, in addition to our six Holiday Wednesdays, we have been involved with two Kids Cycle Days at Thornes Park.  These formed part of an inexpensive holiday play scheme run by WMDC during the summer school holidays.  We ran morning and afternoon sessions at the athletics track for two groups of children each day, starting with a timed skills course.  It was somewhat windy the first day, resulting in an escape attempt by the gazebo, fortunately foiled. 

The children then tried out a variety of adapted cycles, including hand cycles, tricycles and quadricycles, one of which some adult leaders managed to overturn. Finally, the children tried bursting water balloons by cycling over them.  They had much more success with this on the second week as the balloons didn’t keep blowing away and they had more water in them so were easier to burst.

Agbrigg Celebration

To introduce the Agbrigg to Walton path to the community, a three day event was arranged, starting with an evening stroll from Agbrigg to Walton Country Park on Friday 29th July.  On Saturday morning, there was a rainy walk leader training whilst our comfortable WDCF gazebo offered information, publicity, a bike doctor and shelter.  Future Selph had organised a bike themed family treasure hunt, attracting more visitors.  On the last day, a choice of a morning stroll, guided cycle rides morning and afternoon or pond dipping was offered.

To build on these events, we ran a series of short introductory cycle rides on Saturdays 13th, 20th, and 27th August from the Community Centre to Walton Country Park. We negotiated the delivery of a collection of bikes and bike lockers to the Community Centre for these and further events which are planned to include rides, maintenance sessions and ride- leader training.

In the past, we have attended a number of galas and fetes and would hope to do so next year.  Volunteers are always needed to set up the gazebo and the course, help the children find a suitable bike and helmet, making any necessary adjustments, time the riders, ensuring they go the right way round the roundabout, hold the bike while they move the cone from one stand to the other, hand out information leaflets, man the small tombola we run to raise funds, lead the ride round the park and help put everything away at the end.  We are grateful to all of you who have turned up to assist over the summer. Both new and experienced volunteers will be welcome next year.  It’s a good opportunity to introduce your non-cycling spouse or partner, children and grandchildren to WDCF and wheely good exercise.

Rides

We are more than fulfilling our commitment to WMDC to provide 50 guided rides a year and now have regular rides from  Aspire Pontefract Park, Anglers Country Park, the Darrington Hotel, Nostell NT, Queen’s Mill Castleford and Thornes Park Wakefield.  We’re also looking into providing rides from new venues including Agbrigg Community Centre.

If you are interested in becoming a ride leader, we provide training, a smart orange vest, first aid kit and a pair of radios.  The more leaders we have, the lighter the load on each of them so please consider volunteering.

This piece is peppered with ride photos.  If your ride isn’t featured then feel free to email photos to me at news@cycling-wakefield.org.uk and I’ll try to fit them in the next edition, if Facebook doesn’t get them first!

Bike Marking

West Yorkshire Police have teamed up with Bike Register® to encourage the registration of cycles owned by West Yorkshire residents.  Every year thousands of bikes are stolen and even though many are recovered it is almost impossible to reunite the bikes with their owners due to a lack of recorded information.

Bike Register® run the National Cycle Database, a Police approved database that allows anyone with a cycle to register it for free with a serial or frame number. However, that alone will not make it a hard target for thieves so we encourage owners to mark the bikes with one of Bike Register’s Security marking kits– a visible deterrent that reduces the chances of being stolen and increases the chances of it being returned to the owner in the event of a theft.

Details are held on a secure online database which all UK Police Forces have access to. It is certified to ISO 27001 standard.

Follow your local Police Neighbourhood Team on Social Media sites for details of cycle marking events around the Wakefield area where you can have your bike marked and registered for free or purchase a pack from the Bike Register site www.bikeregister.com or any good bike store.

Owners obviously still need to follow good crime prevention advice to reduce the chances of becoming a victim by using an appropriate standard lock for the surroundings.

Please see West Yorkshire Police Pedal Cycle Security

WDCF are considering a cycle marking event later this year.  Details will be on our Facebook page.

Reporting Close Passes

An increasing number of cyclists have a camera attached to their cycle helmets. This is not to bore relatives with a minute by minute record of a ride in the sunshine along the banks of the Barnsley canal or to show off their prowess getting up the hill to the plague stone in Ackworth in record time.  It’s to deter close passes, to record bad driving that creates a risk to others and possibly to gather evidence for potential use in court in the event of an accident.

On most occasions, particularly on the off-road trails WDCF favours, nothing happens and the record is simply discarded.  Sometimes, however, a vehicle overtaking a cyclist comes dangerously close or the driving is so poor that a collision was narrowly avoided.  In those circumstances, it’s worth reporting the matter to the police via the Safer Roads Media Submissions portal, which can be found at West Yorkshire Police Safer Roads Submissions.

It only takes 5 or 10 minutes and you will need:

  • Your personal details, including address, postcode and contact details,
  • Details of the vehicle involved including time, date, location, vehicle registration mark, make, model and colour,
  • When and where the incident happened, 
  • Details of the device used to record the footage,
  • The footage in digital file format. 

You must be willing to attend Court as a witness if required although, looking at West Yorkshire Police’s statistics, a high proportion of cases finish up with an educational course rather than a court appearance.  Don’t put the post on Facebook if a case is going to be pursued.

I’m not suggesting we all turn into Jeremy Vine, but there seem to be a lot of drivers out there who need educating,  especially  in light of the paucity of safe, segregated cycle routes in local town centres.

Workdays

Whilst workdays have remained low key, we have completed various tasks over the past few months and I would like to thank the small but dedicated group of members who regularly turn out to address issues on the network that we all use and enjoy.

Since the last newsletter report we have completed further edging works to the TPT in the canal cutting at Walton, installed the John Harvey memorial bench between Methley and Castleford and attempted to improve the drainage to the trail between Nostell and Anglers.

The channel and ditches will hopefully improve the condition of the path on the Wonders of Wakefield route between Nostell and Anglers where run off from the adjacent fields erodes the surface during wet spells. It remains to be seen how effective our work will be as it has barely rained since we put it in ,so further work may be necessary.

In July we completed a condition survey of the signage to the WoW route. It is a few years since this has been done and it was apparent that a more regular maintenance programme will be necessary in future. This will apply to the Wakefield Wheel route as well which is yet to be surveyed.  We have already started to address the problems on the WoW. The picture below demonstrates a rather splendid new sign on the WoW / Wheel between Nostell and Anglers, courtesy of David Keighley.

We have a stock of signs for both routes and intend to bring the signage up to scratch on these popular trails.

Workdays were suspended in August as it is a busy month with events but we will be restarting in September. Notice will be sent out as usual to members who have expressed an interest in coming along. If you feel that you can spare a bit of time to get involved let us know via email at info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk and you can be added to the circulation list. It’s not all digging holes and heavy work so come along if you can.

Andy (Work Group Coordinator)

AGM

Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun?  I was surprised to see that our last AGM was held as long ago as Wednesday 22nd September 2021, so we’re due another one soon.  If you’d like to be more involved in the organisation of the Forum, there are a variety of roles to consider.  The full list reads:

Chair – Chairing meetings. Liaison with partners in conjunction with Vice-Chair and other officers. (e.g. NT, Sustrans, TPT, Public Health)

Secretary – Arrange meetings. Prepare agendas. Produce minutes. Record resolutions and actions. Produce annual report

Vice-Chair(s) – Deputise for Chair. Liaise with partners (jointly with Chair)

Treasurer – Run bank account. Oversee income and expenditure. Produce regular account statements

Auditor – Audit accounts

Membership Secretary – Record and keep membership records. Circulate to membership when required.

Statistics Secretary – Record statistics for rides, events, etc.

Funding Officer – Identify funding sources. Make funding applications

Publicity and Communications officer – Produce press releases. Newsletter. Leaflet production and distribution

Facebook Administrators – Run Facebook page

Website Manager – Manage the website

Rides Manager – Keep records of ride leaders/helpers. Organise ride leaders/helpers’ meetings. Co-ordinate cover when necessary. Organise training.

Events Manager – Co-ordinate volunteers for events. Liaise with partners. Organise transport when necessary.

Workgroup Manager – Liaise with RoW/Highways. Organise volunteers and equipment

Council Liaison Group – Liaise with highways and planning. Liaise with Pan-Yorkshire and National cycling organisations. Liaise with other public cycling organisations.

Safeguarding Officer – Dealing with any safeguarding issues that might arise.  Offering relevant advice as support as required.

The committee isn’t as large as this list suggests and many of its members carry out more than one function.  For example: the Chair produces the newsletter, the Treasurer acts as Statistics Secretary and the Rides Manager is also involved with the website and Facebook page.  All positions come up for election at the AGM so if there’s one of them you’d be interested in, let our Secretary Mark Beswick know.

Members will be receiving notification of the date, time and venue for the AGM in the near future. If you’ve got ideas to promote cycling locally or for changes which you feel would benefit the Forum or you just want to see everyone,  do come along.

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WDCF Newsletter June 2022

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

Jubilee Celebrations

Season’s greetings

Campaigns

               Cycle Wakefield

               A Frames

Rides

Workdays

Another Survey

Jubilee Celebrations

Although we have a few Georgians amongst our membership, most of us are true Elizabethans, ie born during the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. On the seventieth anniversary of her accession, the country is celebrating with a Platinum Jubilee and of course WDCF will be part of it. 

On Friday 3rd June, we will be holding an early ‘Holiday Wednesday’ and joining the celebrations at Nostell NT with our information stand and popular Cycle Skills course.

On Saturday 4th June, why not don red, white and blue for our easy ride from Thornes Park?  There’ll be tea and cake to celebrate at the end of it.  Wear a crown if you like but please don’t bring your corgi- their legs are too short to keep up!

Season’s Greetings

We’ve had some lovely weather recently, now the April showers have receded, and the season’s change has been magical.  Bushes are burgeoning with May blossoms now that the flowers have dropped from the blackthorn.  In places, paths are pink with fallen petals from the cherry trees and in others, rivers of bluebells flow through the trees.  These can be seen in the woods at Nostell and at Newmillerdam, as shown on the photo.  New birds have arrived at Fairburn and St Aiden’s bird reserves and twitchers, anxious mother ducks or wandering ducklings can all present a hazard.

Why not get out and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the season, whether on one of our guided rides or with some friends?  We’ve rides of three levels starting from six different venues now, so it’s easy to find something to suit and a new area to explore.

Campaigns

  • Cycle Wakefield

Those of you who are more experienced riders and have travelled further than Wakefield and District have probably come across websites of our near neighbours CycleBradford (cyclebradford.org.uk) and CycleKirklees (cyclekirklees.org.uk). 

Not to be outdone, our own local authority is planning a new cycle website to be called Cycle Wakefield.  Ideally, this will prove an access point for all cyclists and those interested in cycle matters in the district for information about cycle clubs, cycle routes, pump tracks, BMX tracks, mountain bikes, bikeability, cycle shops, children’s bikes, cycle friendly cafes, bike repairs and bike repairers to name a few.  There will be links to websites like ours and a new logo.

The Forum is represented on all the various committees and subcommittees and can be relied on to put your reasonable views across if you let us know what you would like or what you feel is missing at present.

Bradford aimed to be the Capital of Cycling.  What do you think Wakefield should be working towards from a cycling point of view?

  • ‘A’ frames

As tandem riders, we have more problems than most with ‘A’ frames, kissing gates and other impedimenta allegedly essential to prevent quadbikes and unlicensed motorbikes using cycle routes and bridleways. Our difficulties as are nothing compared to those of users of mobility scooters, tricycles, twin pushchairs and tagalongs however.

Over the months I’ve been editing this publication, I’ve produced pictures of some of the gymnastics needed to get a nonstandard bike through a narrow ‘A’ frame and text about the curse of kissing gates. 

This month, for a change, here are pictures of two inexpensive alternatives used successfully on Castleford Greenway. 

The Sustrans notice is welcoming, whilst warning cyclists of the presence of horses and pedestrians and vice versa.

Rather than a Capital of Cycling, should Wakefield be promoting itself as ‘Active Travel -open to all’?

Rides

With Covid now in the background but still in the mind of most of us, the attendance on rides has picked up considerably.  We now regularly get 12 – 20 riders turning out, even on some easy rides.  For the first quarter of this year, we organised 36 rides with a total of 421 participants, 12 of whom were new to the Forum.

The full rides programme, up till the end of April next year, is shown on our leaflet which has just been printed and is available from local libraries, sports centres, doctors’ surgeries and selected shops.  If you can’t find one at your local centre, let us know and we will supply them.  The leaflet can also be downloaded from our website via the link on the Rides & Events page.

The next four months of the rides programme is advertised on our website – https://cycling-wakefield.org.uk/events-rides/  and all rides are advertised on Facebook, usually a week in advance – https://www.facebook.com/groups/WDCF1.

This year sees the start of both an Easy and a Steady ride from Pontefract Park where we meet outside the entrance to Aspire.

Remember, we have free loan bikes available at Pontefract Park, Nostell NT, Queen’s Mill Castleford and Thornes Park.  They may not be the latest technical spec but they do come with wheels, pedals and brakes.  Just email before the ride to book a bike and turn up 10 minutes early so it can be adjusted to fit.

We welcome new riders and would particularly like to hear from anyone who would like to become a Ride Leader.  We will provide certificated training, a superb orange safety vest with lots of useful pockets and a free first aid course!

On the 14th May we held our annual John Harvey Ride, where 21 people turned up to commemorate the life of a late stalwart of the Forum. 

The picture shows them assembled at what we hope to be the site of a bench commissioned by the Forum to remember John.  The bench will be very similar to Sandy and David’s bench at Nostell and locally made. 

By way of contrast, here’s a bench produced by an Italian company recently installed by Wakefield M D C on Castleford Greenway near Green Row Bridge.  The two sitting on it (who you may recognise) don’t seem to appreciate it much but it won’t rust.

Graham West, shown suitably atyred and not tyred at all, has been holding bike maintenance courses for WDCF at Pugneys.  They are free of charge, fun and very helpful but you do need to book.

If you hurry, you can book for the course on the 28th May or failing that there’s just  one more on the 25th June and Graham will also be at the South Hiendley Gala in July.

Workdays

The opportunity has been taken to spring-clean our stock of bikes that we lend out to those attending our rides who have no bike of their own and wish to try before they buy or who would have difficulty bringing their own bike to the start of one of our rides.

Apart from checking the brakes, gears, tyres and tyre pressures, we’ve been fitting mudguards and bottle carriers and replacing the odd bell that no longer rings.  Andy Beecroft, Workgroup Coordinator, is pictured here servicing one of our bikes at Aspire.

Workgroups have also been out improving the drainage across one of the tracks on the Nostell Estate which turns very boggy when it rains.  The location is ‘luck contrived patch’ if you’ve got the What3Words app on your phone.  For the future, there’s plenty of work still to do on the Trans Pennine Trail.  If you’d like to assist, contact Andy on info@cycling-wakefield.co.uk and he’ll add you to his list of volunteers to be contacted when help is needed.

Another Survey

WDCF receives funding from WMDC to put on a rides programme. The grant comes from the Healthy Travel & Transport section of the Health Improvement Department.  From time to time, the department sends out surveys to check that ratepayers’ money or the appropriate government grant (ie taxpayers’ money) is being well spent.  We are due for a new survey shortly and the questionnaire will be sent out to all members as soon as we get it.  The council wants to know how you feel cycling has affected your health.  I urge you to complete and return the survey when you get it as there will be another one coming along a few months later.  Ideally these will show that thanks to cycling, walking or whatever exercise you choose to take both your physical and mental health are gradually improving.

Sandal Castle
Uphill to Sandal Castle

One of our members, when asked whether cycling had improved her mental health, responded very positively:

‘Several years ago, I had a mad idea to purchase a bike through the Cycle to Work Scheme (not having ridden since at school, and even then not very well).  I worked as a secretary for the NHS, which is not a very active job and felt that I needed more balance in life as I seemed to be working and very little else.  

I found that due to inactivity, I was suffering from aches and pains. Physically and mentally my world had shrunk considerably.  I wasn’t depressed but I was aware that my lifestyle was not good for me in either respect and I needed to do something proactive to address this.  I tried walking, which most people seem to enjoy, but unfortunately it didn’t do anything for me.  I did quite enjoy being outdoors though.

This is when I found the Wakefield District Cycle Forum.

And this is where the mental health part comes in.  I nervously turned up at Nostell Priory, having manhandled said bike into car (a feat in itself being a Mini!), wearing normal suitable clothing, and met a bunch of people similarly dressed waiting to welcome me.  We set off and rode through the woods and into a wonderland as far as I was concerned.  Immediately, the freedom of being on a bike, pedalling away with the breeze on your face, was like therapy to me.  I had no idea it would have such an effect on me.  I wasn’t thinking of work or finances, or family issues or anything else apart from looking around at the countryside and staying on my bike!!  Seven miles later, with a cafe stop in between (I could not believe I had ridden 7 whole miles), I was so invigorated I could have done it all again.  The company was lovely and there were no hills, just a small slope or two which I managed fine.  My confidence was boosted and I knew there and then that this was going to be a permanent fixture in my life.  And it has been!  The group is fantastic and I have made many great new friends.  I am now trained as a ride leader so that I can encourage anyone who was as reluctant or nervous as I was, and they can benefit from the effects of cycling on their life.’ 

As a diabetic, I find cycling regularly improves my blood sugar levels, as well as allowing the occasional sweet treat if extra effort is required.  Others have found that when a dodgy hip, defective knee joint or impaired lung capacity make walking difficult, they can still get out and about quite happily on a bike.  When caring responsibilities or work pressures make it difficult to socialise, a couple of hours cycling through the countryside in friendly company can set you up for the week ahead, even if it rains!

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WDCF Newsletter March 2022

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

Christmas Festivities 2021
A New Survey
Rides
Agbrigg to Walton route
John Harvey’s bench
Workgroup Update
Looking back to 2011
Looking forwards

Christmas Festivities 2021

In the December 2021 newsletter I promised, ‘Wet or dry, there will be a photo feature in our next newsletter’ so here’s a photo of our Christmas riders at Anglers.  I’m afraid the group got a bit spaced out at Queen’s Mill- sorry I mean very socially distanced, so I haven’t got a photo of that ride but I’m sure you’ll be able to picture it.  It was a crisp winter’s morning with no snow or rain, although David Leigh did his reindeer impression again.

The arrival of the Omicron variant of Covid in Yorkshire put the Forum’s 2021 Christmas dinner in jeopardy.  After due consideration and bearing in mind the size of the dining room at Kings Croft, it was decided to go ahead but all were requested to carry out a lateral flow test first.  Although the crowd of people in the foyer was a bit daunting, it was immediately clear that these were attending a separate event in a different dining room, and over 30 masked cyclists in festive outfits made their way through to the King’s Dining Room. 

We were grouped in tables of no more than 8 and had ordered our choices beforehand, so mingling with staff was kept to a minimum.  There was no singing or dancing, which is a shame as it would have been good to see Sandy swirling his kilt. 

David Leigh marked Sandy’s retirement from WDCF committee with a speech (shortened by the fact that much of what he would have said had recently featured in the December Newsletter) and the presentation of a choice bottle of whisky.

Thanks, and a bouquet of flowers, were given to Janet Taylor for organising the dinner so ably. Meg also said a few words, lamenting the effects of Covid on the 2021 rides programme but looking forward to improvements in 2022. After a delicious meal, enhanced by the company of long missed friends, we moved on to a two-part quiz ably presented by Neville, leading to groans at some of the sneaky questions. John and Ruth (pictured later at Sandal Castle café) ably won first prize but there were cheers from partisan family members when Isabelle Leigh won the tiebreaker for second place with lightning speed. 

A New Survey

Other publications have crosswords or sudoku.  We’ve got a survey.  If you’ve finished your Wordle for the day and can’t face trying a Quordle, Wakefield Council is undertaking a survey around its key services. The Sport and Leisure team trying to assess residents’ attitudes, views and perceptions of physical activity and would love to hear from everybody; young people, adults and older adults who live in the district.

We all know how important cycling is, how it’s good for our physical and mental health, kind to the environment and fun but to make sure WMDC knows this too, please complete the survey by visiting https://tinyurl.com/haveyoursay2022.  It doesn’t take long!

Rides

A new rides programme has been introduced so that there is an Easy  and a Steady ride each weekend on the first four weekends of the month, with each Saturday and Sunday alternating between Easy and Steady rides. Our popular challenging Steady Plus road ride from Darrington on the first Saturday of the month continues unchanged.

On the second Tuesday of the month there will be a Steady ride from Aspire in Pontefract Park followed by an Easy ride from Nostell on the fourth Tuesday.

You may be slightly confused in the only month this year where the first Sunday of the month precedes the first Saturday. After some discussion, it was decided that it will be easier for people if the first Saturday is always an Easy ride and the first Sunday a Steady so in May (did you notice the hint earlier?) after a Steady ride on Sunday 1st May, there will be two Easy rides the next weekend and two Steady rides the weekend after.  Don’t worry if your brain is hurting by this stage.  Our rides will all appear on the Rides and Events page of our website and again on our Facebook page a week or so before the event.

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel several rides at the beginning of the year due to some appalling weather.  Although it is possible to dress to avoid the cold and rain, as the photo of John and Ruth outside the café at Sandal Castle on our very wet ride there demonstrates, strong, gusty winds present different hazards.  We aim to introduce new riders to the pleasures and freedoms of cycling and seeing some-one else blown into the canal or under a passing car rather detracts from this.  Riding with the wind behind you can be exhilarating but, as all our rides start and end at the same point, at some stage you will be battling into a headwind which isn’t as much fun. 

Reconnoitering for future rides, leaders have found a number of branches and even whole trees that have fallen across cycle paths and some surprisingly deep puddles, all of which present problems if you’re not expecting them. Notice of all the cancellations was posted on Facebook and a ride leader was present at each starting point on the day to alert anyone who hadn’t got the message (or read the weather forecast) and turned up.  No-one did and the feedback on Facebook was all positive.

The line-up of riders in front of Nostell Priory suggests we have all put on a lot of weight over Christmas.  In fact, it was very cold and we’re wearing many layers of clothing. 

The ride photos demonstrate how many riders wear fluorescent yellow jackets. When you have a line of 15 or 16 cyclists following you, it’s difficult to check everyone is following unless the back marker stands out in some way. To make it easier, all our ride leaders and back markers have been issued with orange vests with the Forum’s logo, a pocket for a radio and space for a name badge.  There’s also room for a handkerchief, phone, energy bars, jellybabies, house keys or whatever other small items they choose to carry.  Orange vests also assist newcomers to identify who is looking after the ride.  You will see from the photo how smart they look:

If you’re not leading or backmarking a ride (or sitting on the back of the ride leader’s tandem!) we would ask that you don’t wear an orange vest, as that would defeat the object.  If you really covet an orange jersey vest, why not talk to Neville about training as a ride leader?

The John Harvey Memorial ride, usually an annual event, will take place in May of this year. The date and details will be in the rides schedule in due course. As part of the Queens Platinum Jubilee celebrations, on Saturday 4 June participants on the Thornes Easy Ride will be served appropriate celebratory refreshments. We are also planning an additional “Holiday Wednesday” event on Friday 3 June, full details of which will appear in the next newsletter.

Agbrigg to Walton Route

At the end of November last year, WDCF were advised by WMDC that no water voles were found by the survey the council had arranged and paid for and that they would make us a grant to cover the cost of sorting the path out. 

We have signed the agreement to undertake the work and received half of the money up front.  Don’t worry, we’re not seeking volunteers to build a gabion.  We’ve got a quote to carry out the path work which precisely matches the amount of the grant. Our contractor has been instructed to go ahead and we await developments with bated breath. 

Thanks are due to all involved in getting this project back on track, including Peter Hirst of Agbrigg Community Centre and the now helpful team at WMDC. We plan to involve the local community in the opening celebrations in due course and of course you’ll all be invited too.

John Harvey’s Bench

At last approval has been granted for the proposed site of the bench we have commissioned in memory of a much missed colleague.  The bench has been commissioned and we hope to unveil it on or around our John Harvey Memorial ride,

Workgroup update

Workdays since our November leaf clear have been very hit and miss for various reasons. It is the intention to restart our path maintenance work as the weather improves. We still have some outstanding edging work to complete in the canal cutting at Walton, some light trimming to the vegetation along the return route through the woods at Nostell and some drainage work near the railway bridge also at Nostell. As ever, if you are out and about and notice anywhere you feel a bit of maintenance is required, please get in touch via Facebook or email info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk.

It was decided that, instead of working on the path network this winter, we would clean and service our bikes at Aspire as they were in a bit of a state. On our first workday, we gave all the bikes a good clean and drew up a list of what was required to bring them up to scratch. Items such as mudguards and bottle holders have been purchased and, despite a few cancelled sessions, we should have the fleet in good fettle when the crowds return in spring.

We can report that thanks to WDMC (Environment, Street Scene and Climate Change) we now have a home for our trailer and equipment at Pugneys. Since we had to move the trailer from Tadman Street Depot, it had resided on David Keighley’s drive so he will no doubt be relieved that he can get his wheely bins out now without trouble. Currently Mark Beswick’s vehicle is our only means of moving the trailer so it would be good if all you members out there who are caravanners could consider offering your services from time to time. I’m sure Mark would appreciate it.

I intend to continue to circulate information concerning workdays to the select list of willing volunteers so if you fancy a spot of manual labouring as exercise, please get in touch via Facebook or email info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk and I’ll add you to my list.

Andy Beecroft Workgroup Manager

Looking Back to 2011

Researching through our past newsletters, I found the following article, published 11 years ago:

‘Wakefield District Cycle Forum has been campaigning for over two years now for an agreed set of standards for cycle infrastructure both on the highway and on off-road paths. At the last meeting of the Cycle Forum on 18th January 2011 Tracey Brewer, Group Engineer Highways Development, reported that a new Cycle Strategy had been completed and, after consultation with other Wakefield Metropolitan District Council departments, would go forward for approval to the Council Cabinet.

 Within the Strategy will be incorporated standards for highways developments which should mean that all new and renewal of the highways’ infrastructure will incorporate features such as cycle lanes, advanced stop lines and feeder lanes for cyclists at junctions with traffic lights. We should also see the reduced use of A-frame access barriers, which should allow easier access to cycle paths and bridleways.

 Tracey is also working with the Cycle Forum to improve off-road cycle paths through the planning process. In future, all developers will have to comply with the strategy and include cycle friendly infrastructure in developments. This would include new cycle paths where they have been identified as potential routes by the Council and Cycle Forum. The strategy also includes agreed standards for cycle parking in new developments. We hope this is a new step in a positive relationship between Council and Cycle Forum.’

Have developments since made us cynical? The Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2021, also titled Local Plan 2036 mentions cycling 14 times, generally in a positive fashion.  We can only live in hope.

Looking Forwards

In May 2021, Transport for London installed new traffic lights at 18 crossings across London in a trial to see what effect they had on people walking and drivers. The signals are different to the norm in that they show a continuous green signal to pedestrians until a vehicle is detected approaching the crossing. The signal then changes to red for pedestrians, allowing the vehicle to cross the junction before returning to a green signal for pedestrians.    

The results of the trial suggest that the pedestrian priority signals reduced journey times for people walking and made it easier and safer for them to cross. By reducing the waiting time for a green signal, the total time saved by all pedestrians at the average crossing in the trial was 1.3 hours a day.  

People walking were 13 per cent more likely to cross on green, reducing the risk of a collision with a vehicle, while compliance by people driving stayed the same. Apparently, the new signals had virtually no impact on traffic, with only minimal increases in journey times for buses and general traffic. The largest increase for buses was only 9 seconds and for general traffic only 11 seconds – hardly noticeable. Some sites even showed improvements in journey times for motorists. 

Would something like this work for shared crossings in Wakefield for cyclists and pedestrians? Possibly, although when crossing Doncaster Road earlier in the week the constant stream of cars meant a pedestrian, cyclist or horse rider wouldn’t get a chance to cross without the opportunity of pushing a button.  In areas with lighter traffic, in crossings near schools or hospitals or at the edges of a pedestrianised areas, it’s certainly an idea worth looking at.

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WDCF Newsletter December 2021

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

Christmas Festivities

General Meeting

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

Retirement of Sandy Clark

‘A’ frames – We are not alone

Rides

  • Update
  • Ride Leaders training

Workdays

Christmas Festivities

We’ll be holding two Santa rides this year.  Both are easy rides starting at 10.30am and you are welcome to bring your children or grandchildren with you.  The first is on Sunday the 5th December setting off from Nostell Priory and the second on Saturday 11th December from Queen’s Mill Castleford.  You are encouraged to decorate yourself and your bike in festive fashion.  We are planning mince pies and a hot drink and hope that Santa will be able to join us.

Our last pre-pandemic Santa ride was rather damp so we’re hoping for better weather this year.  Wet or dry, there will be a photo feature in our next newsletter.  If you are planning to borrow a bike, why not turn up early with some tinsel to pimp your ride!

General Meeting

Not many turned up for the General Meeting of the Forum on Thursday 18th November apart from the committee and the proposed updates to the constitution were the only thing on the agenda. These were uncontroversial and had been fully explained in the notice for the meeting.  The only amendment suggested was accepted without issue and the changes were then passed unanimously.

Thanks are due to all who attended and to Ackworth Parish Council who allowed us to use the meeting room.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

One of the respondents to the local authority’s questionnaire, mentioned in our last newsletter, outlined their difficulty in specifying how often they visit Anglers’ Country Park as they and their spouse only ride their bikes in the summer.  I truly think that they are missing out.

I have already waxed lyrical about springtime rides and the transition from celandines to violets and from bluebells to buttercups, with blackthorn blooms followed by burgeoning may blossoms.  In autumn, now the elderberry wine has been bottled, the plump sloes picked for gin making and the blackberries jammed into pies, we’ve still got the beautiful palette of autumn leaves to marvel at both in the trees and as we crunch over them.  The sun seems lower in the sky and dazzles but in sheltered spots you can still feel its warmth.  Myriad of migrating birds are more visible through the bare branches and fungi flourish.

It’s going to get colder and we’ll all put on pounds of extra layers to keep warm. We’ll enjoy wheeling through our winter wonderlands together, with or without snow, cracking frozen puddles, fuelled by coffee, cake, hot soup and the camaraderie of colleagues.  Cycling truly isn’t just a summer pastime.

Retirement of Sandy Clark

Dr Sandy Clark has let it be known that he wishes to retire from the committee of WDCF and to relinquish his post as Campaign Officer.

A trawl through our old newsletters reveal that Sandy has been with WDCF from the start.   The beginnings of the Cycle Forum were laid in 2001 when a motion was passed at the Pontefract Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) annual meeting in Ackworth to start a campaign committee, which was to develop into a cycle forum. The founding committee members were Steve Kidd, Sandy Clark, Graham Lawrence, Bill Houlder, and Des Hampshire. The first action of the committee was to organise a set of rides to illustrate the good and bad points of what the council had done for cyclists. These rides started at South Elmsall, Castleford, Pontefract and Thornes Park. Council officer Andrew Fowler attended the first ride and with the CTC campaign committee set up the Wakefield Cycle Users Forum as a consultative forum to Wakefield Metropolitan District Council (WMDC).

The initial achievements of the Cycle Users Forum were under threat when the council, in 2007, decided to axe the Cycle Officer post, which the Forum had successfully argued for, and the healthy transport team. It was this action by WMDC that convinced Forum members that an independent Cycle Forum with its own constitution, volunteers and funds was needed. Wakefield District Cycle Forum became an independent organisation in March 2008 and its first newsletter appeared 6 months later.  Dr Sandy Clark was chairman with David Keighley as vice chairman, a partnership that has continued to this day. WDCF was constituted to take on an active role to promote cycling in the district. They managed to ensure that the entire budget allocated to cycling in the Local Transport Plan was actually spent on dedicated cycle schemes.

WDCF began by looking at some of the existing cycle network and wondering if, with a little effort on the “missing links”, then perhaps a couple of tracks might be joined. One of these links would join a section of cycle track behind the Academy School in Crofton with a section of road running down to Yorkshire Water Treatment plant, under the short rail tunnel and out into Walton Colliery Nature Park. This would avoid cyclists having to ride on the road underneath a railway bridge which was always tricky for bikes and road vehicles to share. It would also provide a mainly off-road ride down to Sandal and Agbrigg station. Yorkshire Water were definitely against the move to open up the tunnel near their treatment plant and Network Rail had little interest in removing the barriers which had been placed at the entrance to the tunnel. WDCF enlisted support from the local MP Jon Trickett, Walton and Crofton Parish Council, local walking groups and Northern Rail. Although Jon Trickett played an influential part in helping to get the attention of Network Rail, Sandy Clark took a central role in bringing these parties together and as it turned out, he was the heartbeat which kept the project going.

In 2013, Sandy Clark, still chairman, project managed the Chevet Branch Line Bridleway Project to turn a disused railway line adjacent to Newmillerdam into a bridleway with an all-weather surface for multi-user use eventually linking the Trans Pennine Trail at Old Royston to Newmillerdam Country Park and Wood Lane.

More recently, Sandy has led the campaign to upgrade the track between Agbrigg-Oakenshaw Lane to provide a traffic free route between a local community centre and Walton Country Park.  He has been vociferous in his opposition to barriers on cycle routes, pursuing a claim to the Local Government Ombudsman which led to WMDC being ordered to consult interested parties and think again.

Sandy edited the newsletter for some time, which meant that efforts and achievements were attributed to the team as a whole and his name rarely appeared.  He is keen that David Keighley’s contribution, particularly in regard to the routes over Lord St Oswald’s lands at Nostell, are not overlooked.  He attributes much of his success to their teamwork.

Personally, I have found Sandy helpful and supportive. He is keen to encourage nervous riders and willing to divert from the route of a guided ride to take someone back by a gentler route or to lead a breakaway party on a more testing diversion.  With Sandy’s encouragement you find yourself taking on more and more, starting with backmarking or producing items for the newsletter, progressing to ride leader or editor.  The steps may be baby steps at first, with Sandy’s support in the background, but he’s happy to see you run in due course.  I am told that he can be forceful and irascible at times, which may be what a narrow A-frame needs.

Sandy will still be a ride leader and (*spoiler alert for our younger readers) dress up as Santa Claus for at least one of our Christmas rides.  We wish him a long and smiling retirement.

‘A’ frames – We are not alone

Jack Turston writing in Cycling UK’s October/November magazine on the Taff trail between Pontypridd and Cardiff, commented:

‘From Llandaff onwards there were many more people on the Trail. including lots of other families with young children – a sure sign of a successful traffic-free route.  In Ponicanna Fields we saw side-by-side tandem quadricycles from Pedal Power, the Cardiff charity which maintains a fleet of specially adapted trikes and bikes for children and adults with disabilities. 

One really good aspect of this section of the Trail was the absence of the kind of barriers installed by over-zealous local authorities to keep motor scooters from using paths reserved for walkers and cyclists. While a nuisance for people on standard bikes, these barriers are a disaster for those with non-standard cycles such as tricycles, tandems, handcycles, recumbents and cargo bikes, as well as users of wheelchairs and mobility scooters. The removal of barriers along our route has been a boon for people like Cardiff resident JP and his disabled son, who ride a Hase Pino, a semi-recumbent tandem.’

We wish that WMDC were as wise when it comes to the accessibility of cycle routes!

Rides

  • Update

For the three month period from September to November, the Forum ran 29 guided rides with an average of over 11 cyclists per ride.  The three most popular events were: –

  • 19 riders – Steady Sep 25th Queens Mill, Castleford
  • 18 riders – Steady Oct 23rd Queens Mill, Castleford
  • 17 riders – Easy Nov 7th Nostell NT

Unfortunately, we did have to cancel one of our rides due to adverse weather conditions – snow & ice.  However, thanks to the determination of the intrepid Ride leader, this event successfully ran a few days later and attracted nine hardy cyclists.

A highlight of one of our early rides this season was David Leigh’s 500th ride with WDCF.  David regularly leads our steady ride from Queens Mill, Castleford and Tuesday’s steady ride from Pontefract Park. He is often on hand too to take over if some-one can’t lead a ride due to holidays or has bike problems.  David’s support of the rides programme is invaluable and his work as membership secretary essential. He often leads us to unusual places like Councillor Henry Daley’s  Memorial Garden in Walton Country Park Memorial shown below:

In November we arranged for Cycling UK to run a Ride Leader training course.  Some of the concepts were new to those attending but under the watchful and patient eye of our trainer, we all soon became adept at the concept of ‘snaking’.  Nothing to do with reptiles, just an efficient and safe way of negotiating junctions with a group of possibly not very experienced cyclists.  The course was enjoyed by all even with the numerous short steep hills and multiple junctions.  You should soon be seeing some new faces at the front and back.

Apart from the regular attendees, we do continue to attract new cyclists on our rides but we would like to reach a wider audience.  Advertising is currently limited to the website and Facebook but we hope to reach more people once we can produce and distribute our events leaflet in Spring next year. 

  • Ride Leaders training (Linda Holmes)

When asked if I’d like to take part in the ride leader training run by Cycling UK my first reaction was ‘I’ve already done ride leader training for Wakefield District Cycle Forum – why would I need to do it again?’  But, after a little encouragement from Neville and Sandi, I agreed to join in.

I’d never been to Pontefract Park before, and didn’t know the immediate area at all.  When Sandi and I arrived our Cycling UK trainer was already at the bike stands waiting for us all.  Sandi had given me a lift to the venue and had brought her own bike, but I borrowed one of the Forum’s bikes.  We eventually altered it to fit me, but I found the limited gears a challenge on the hilly one-mile circuit we were to train on.  Nevertheless, I managed to do the circuit a few times, even though I needed to stand up on the pedals to get up one of the hills!

Having done previous training apart from Cycling UK, it was the differences in approach that stood out to me.  The main difference was Cycling UK’s use of the ‘snaking’ method of changing direction during a ride.  In this the person who is the Back Marker becomes more of a Ride Manager.  It is this person who will keep an eagle eye on the Ride Leader for signals in changes in direction, and then signals and moves out first to protect the people on the ride.  The Ride Manager will also move up to the front of the group alongside the Ride Leader when the group needs to turn from a minor to a major road, to tell the group when it is clear for them to move out.  This simple change in role from merely making sure no one falls behind to becoming a sort of ‘shepherd of the flock’ has a great impact on increasing the safety of people on the ride, and makes the Back Marker’s role a crucial one.  The training route, though short, included all possible variations of junctions and turns; as our trainer said, ‘If you can lead/manage a ride on this route, you can do it anywhere’.

Our trainer was really calm and reassuring, and the perfect person for raising the confidence in ride leading for our group. I would heartily recommend Cycling UK’s Ride Leader training to all WDCF ride leaders and back markers, however long or short a time they have been with us.

  • Ride Leaders training (Sandi Kinkead)

If you read my previous article, you will know that I started off as a complete novice cyclist who knew nothing about cycling, for example where to go or who to go with.  I was nervous of roads and consequently hadn’t been out anywhere until I discovered the Forum.  I have gone from strength to strength since then and now go out alone as well as with friends who I have met through the Forum. I even know a couple of routes now! 

However, I digress!  This is about my experience of Ride Leader training.  I decided to do this as it seemed to be the same hardworking people leading and back marking, week after week.  I thought it was time I did something to help out even if it was  only a little contribution, so was happy, but nervous to participate in the training when asked. 

We first did an online training session from home which was ok, albeit I struggled a bit with saving and moving from one section to another.  I got it done in the end. 

Then there was the practical training which I have to say I was nervous about.  I still feel fairly novice as I am not someone who has ridden bikes all my life so don’t know many routes etc.  I have learned loads from going out on rides with the group, which helped a lot with the practical training.

We met at Pontefract Park and did a session in a quiet part of the car park first of all.  This was all very easy.  How to prepare riders for a ride, checking bikes and doing safety checks etc.  Then a session round cones practicing what we would eventually do on a real road.  That was quite good fun and the instructor had a smashing sense of humour. 

So off we went, out into the real world.  He said it was only a section of a mile long but gosh, it was quite a step up from riding round cones.  To start with, we had to ride up a hill and stop at the top at a junction, turn left on a road which was on a slope, then fairly soon after, make a right turn!!  Easy enough if you are on your own but with a row of baby ducks (fellow cyclists) behind to keep an eye on, not so easy.  We had been taught that the back marker would see you signal right or left and then he/she would cycle up to the front to usher all the baby ducks across the road.  Again, not necessarily easy on a road on a hill!  There were lots of other quick turns and manoeuvrers after that so not a straight road in sight, much to my dismay!

Anyway, everyone did brilliantly but I have to admit I said I would like more practice before having a go which he said was fine.  As I am going to be leading/back marking easy rides, hopefully I will be on routes with much less traffic until my confidence grows. 

I found the training very helpful though and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Workdays

At the AGM in September, Andy Beecroft was appointed Workgroup Coordinator. As things hopefully start returning to normal, Andy will be organising workdays to carry out maintenance on the cycle network. He will be liaising with Wakefield, Sustrans and TPT to ensure that we work in a coordinated manner. We will also carry out servicing work to our stock of bikes and equipment to ensure that it is in good order when required.

Andy circulates future workday details using a select list of members who want to be involved so if you feel like you would like to come along get in touch via info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk

Our bi-monthly work mornings restarted on 22nd November with the annual leaf clear in Barnsley canal cutting near Walton. Six volunteers turned out on what was a lovely sunny but cool morning. Conditions were perfect for the task which was completed in record time due to the current dry spell. The cutting is particularly susceptible to leaf build up which makes this section of the trail extremely muddy and slippery if not dealt with. There were several passers-by both on wheels and on foot who expressed there appreciation of our work. Well done team.

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WDCF Newsletter September 2021

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

AGM

Summer Blues 

Campaigns

  Barriers consultation

  Saving the world

  Historical campaigns

Rides

Cycling UK

Two New Contributors

   How cycling came into my life

   How cycling came back into my life

Christmas dinner

Annual General Meeting 2021

After a series of postponements, our first AGM since April 2019 finally took place on Wednesday 22nd September 2021 in the august surroundings of St Giles’ Church Pontefract.  Thanks are due to our outgoing chairman, David Leigh for arranging this facility.

The meeting began on a solemn note when members were reminded of the death in October 2019 of Dennis Bell from a heart attack and asked to record thanks for what Dennis had done for the Forum. His first ride with us was in February 2014, when 46 people attended – the second largest ride in the Forum’s history.  He soon became a keen ride leader, a stalwart of workdays and a bike doctor with a detailed knowledge of cycles.  Thanks were given for Dennis’s contribution.

The AGM turnout was disappointing at only 14 out of a membership of 1,189.  We do now have a new Chair- Meg Andrews, assisted by two Vice Chairs, Cherry Oldham and David Keighley.  David Leigh remains Membership Secretary and retains responsibility for Statistics.  Mark Beswick continues as a very able Secretary for the group whilst Joyce Roche as Treasurer, overseen by Neville Andrews as Auditor, ensures the books are in order.

Sandy Clark takes the new position of Campaign Officer, a post to which he is ably suited.  Meg Andrews retains her responsibility for publicity and communications, whilst David Keighley continues as Events Manager, Neville Andrews as Rides Manager and Website Manager and Davids Leigh and Keighley with Neville Andrews and Angie Boyd  look after our increasingly busy Facebook page.  Andy Beecroft has agreed to act as Workgroup Manager and amongst other things will be looking into insurance cover for workdays, which we hope to resume now that the redundant 2 metre distancing requirement no longer makes these impractical. 

Summer Blues

Sadly, Covid reared its ugly head again. After ‘Freedom Day’, case numbers locally went through the roof and reluctantly the decision was taken to cancel the planned and much anticipated Holiday Wednesdays at Nostell and our attendance at Portobello Gala.  Close proximity to large numbers of schoolchildren posed too much of a risk to our vulnerable volunteers.  Perhaps next year we’ll be able to find more foolhardy and fitter candidates to adjust the bikes, hand out helmets and wield the stopwatches after our celebrated twisty circuit has been constructed once again.

Campaigns

   Barriers Consultation

Those of you who read the Ombudsman’s final decision on our complaint about the kissing gates installed at Haw Park Wood will be aware that he found that the Council did not consult properly before it replaced the gate, so that cyclists have lost the opportunity to comment on the changes and have suffered a loss of access (see our Campaigns section for a link to the report).

The Council had agreed to consult on the changes, retake its decision and issue guidance to staff.  When no sign of any consultation appeared, despite strong prompting from us, WDCF went back to the Ombudsman.  As a result, the Council has now sent out a survey which you can access at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WRSKSQT but your response must be in by 12th October 2021

Question 1 gives a choice of impediments to progress, none of which appeal, but the list does include ‘other’.  Initially it was impossible to insert a response in this box but after our intervention, this has been corrected. I put ‘Bollards’ in at this point (as a helpful suggestion not a comment on the other proposals!).

It’s a great pity that the response to question 4, asking why people visit, is limited to one choice and will therefore present an incomplete picture. Our last trip through the wood allowed us to get some exercise outside in the fresh air, while reconnoitring a new route for a future ride which would help a collection of others get outside and connect to nature, which I calculate would have allowed me to tick any of six different boxes.  Knowing whether people are coming for the benefit of their physical or mental health would surely help in planning facilities in the area, although I’m not sure of the relevance of the question as a whole when it comes to means of making access difficult or impossible for some visitors.  There aren’t options ‘to try out my new trials bike’ or ‘because I’m not insured to drive my quadbike on the road’!

Nevertheless, it would be helpful if you could complete the survey.  At our AGM, the option of simply removing the kissing gate, leaving easy access for cyclists proved the most popular, followed by  ‘Bollards’ .

   Saving the world

The Conference of the Parties, more commonly known as COP26, will be taking place in Glasgow between the 31st October and 12th November 2021.  Its focus this year will be climate change.

A group of 12 walkers will be setting off from Spain on the 28th  of September with a view to publicising the event by holding a set of assemblies as they march across the country.  They will be travelling between Darton and Leeds via Wakefield on the 15th October, hoping to arrive at Wakefield Cathedral at around midday for a rally. 

‘All very interesting, but what’s this got to do with me?’ you may be asking.  If you missed your chance to be in the peloton for the Tour de Yorkshire, local organisers are  hoping for a team of cyclists to act as an advance party to let the public know the walkers are on the way.  You may even be given use of a megaphone.  If you are interested, email info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk and we’ll put you in touch with the organisers.

   Historical Campaigns

You may well be familiar with our Campaigns page on the website, having been diverted there in an earlier post to read the ombudsman’s decision. 

If you scroll down the page, however, you will find details of past glories.  If you’ve ever wondered how the Wonders of Wakefield route was created or how the co-operation of Lord St Oswald lead to links with Walton Country Park, this is the place to go,

Rides

After months of famine, the rides programme is now going well with 16 on a recent Queen’s Mill Easy Ride. The weather and the state of the terrain varies, as you’ll see from these photos of a ride from Pugneys and one from Nostell.  After months of isolation, it’s good to see these happy  faces.

Since we were released from lockdown and rides restarted properly, we have had 70 individual riders of whom 30 were new to WDCF. A full programme of rides is running although the Thornes Easy Ride is scheduled to stop after the October outing.

We have riders willing  to back mark but still need volunteers to come forward as Ride Leaders.  Training and support will be provided.

The website has details of the full rides programme and each event is announced on Facebook.

A full leaflet will be produced for the 2022 programme of rides along the line of that last issued in 2020.

We have bikes at Nostell, Thornes and Castleford that can be borrowed for the duration of a ride.

Loan bikes at Queen’s Mill, Castleford have been moved to a new location on the site refurbished by members and have been serviced.

It is hoped to get the rest of the bikes serviced soon, ready for next year.

Cycling UK

WDCF is now affiliated to Cycling UK and our website with details of all the rides will be linked to theirs. 

Our rides will be covered by their Organisers Liability cover, a significant saving on our existing insurance, although we have to tell them first if we are expecting more than 200 people on a ride.  In that event, I would expect a significant outlay on flags and bunting too! 

There are a couple of new rules that affect us.  There should not be more than 10 non-members on any ride – that’s people who are not members of  WDCF, there’s no obligation for individuals to join Cycling UK.  Similarly, a non-member should not participate in more than 3 rides.  As life membership of WDCF costs only £5, less than the price of a gallon of petrol, this should not be a deterrent.

If you want to join Cycling UK personally, if you quote our Affiliation number 90215242 the price reduces to £28, a saving of £20.  You’ll then get their newsletter, third party liability cover and some retail discounts.

Two New Contributors

1.   How Cycling came into my life

Well here goes!!  I am pleased to have been asked to provide something for the Forum newsletter to indicate how cycling came into my life and what impact it has had.   I have never done anything like this before (writing for newsletter or writing for anything for that matter) so please forgive me if I waffle on a bit!

I found the Wakefield District Cycle Forum after speaking to my son one day.  I had bought a new bike through the Cycle to Work scheme five years previously and was too nervous to ride it.   I didn’t know where to go even if I did have the confidence.  So, this lovely new blue/silver bike sat gathering dust in the shed.  I’d been out on it a couple of times but no further than a mile or two.  My daughter took me on a ride one day, she’s fit and I felt like I was dying, huffing, and puffing behind her.   It knocked my confidence so that I didn’t dare attempt going out again.  And I certainly didn’t enjoy it.  Never told her that of course.

One day I was discussing it with my son and he said I should either get on and ride it or sell it and let someone else enjoy it. That was the kick I needed.   I was also nearing retirement and wanted some outdoor activities that would keep me a little bit fit.  I’m not into the gym or sports particularly so thought cycling may be ok for me.  I didn’t want to sell my bike and lose a lot of money either so I decided to make an effort to find a group to ride with.  I had no idea anything like the Forum existed. 

When I first searched, all I found were lycra clad groups of mainly men who did road cycling, at speed.  This obviously was not for me.  I was just about to give up when the Forum website popped up.  I thought it would be the same as other groups but no, it was refreshingly different.  It said it was for anyone first of all, which meant that I wouldn’t be scared to join in.  It said nobody would be left behind and that they would ride at the speed of the slowest.  They also had ‘easy’ rides for compete beginners or those returning to cycling like me who were lacking in confidence.  The website sounded like it was a lovely friendly bunch of people and I was very keen to meet them and give it a go.  So, I decided that I was going to join my first ride.

As a side note, I had joined a walking group a few months prior to this and met a couple of ladies who said they were interested in cycling too.  So I mentioned the Forum and said I was going on such and such a date and we agreed to do it together and meet there.

When it came to the day of the ride (an easy from Nostell), I really didn’t want to go, nerves took over.  Sounds silly, doesn’t it?  I think loads of people feel like this though.  It feels like climbing a mountain sometimes to do the simplest thing.  The only reason I pushed myself to go was that I had agreed to meet these two ladies.  Guess what???  They didn’t turn up!  Ha, but I did, and I have never looked back since.

The first hurdle I had to overcome was getting said bike in the car!!  I could have borrowed a Forum bike but wanted to ride my own trusty steed.  Again, this seems such a small thing to some but for me it was challenging; getting the front wheel off, lifting it in; which way to do it!  Getting it out again blah blah….  But I did it.  Patted myself on the back for that.

I met the group outside the house at Nostell and was welcomed by everyone.  I felt that I was part of the group immediately.  Everything was explained to me about where we were going, who was the ride leader and who was the back marker and what hills there were if any (just one small one) and off we set.  I was nervous that my stamina would not be up to a proper ride but I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed myself and completely forgot about stamina.  The other riders were so supportive.  Some, like me, were new so I didn’t feel at all out of place.

The wind was blowing in my hair, breeze on my face and off we went.  The ride seemed to be over in no time at all, 7 miles I think it was but to me it was like achieving 700 miles in confidence and joy.  I could have done it all again there and then. 

That was about 4 years ago.  I dipped in and out whilst still working but since I have retired, I have joined in with gusto.  I have met loads of lovely new friends and a little group of us are planning some days out and even cycling holidays.

I’ve since bought my first e-bike which has made it even more fun.  It just means that I can now ride anywhere with anyone and distance, hills etc are easy.  It’s my main hobby so why not I said to myself!!! 

I hope this encourages anyone who is thinking of having a go to do so; I’m sure you won’t regret it.  As I mentioned above, the Forum even have bikes that you can borrow at some of the meeting places.  You need to book one but it’s free so just give it a go.  Who knows where it will take you?  Next adventure, here I come.  Happy cycling to you all and thanks to all members of the Forum for all the work you do in keeping this going for the rest of us to enjoy.

Sandra Kinkead

2.   How Cycling came back into my life

It was March of 2020, after a wonderful dog walk followed by refreshments, when I met David Keighley of Wakefield District Cycle Forum stopping for the legendary café pitstop. This was the start of my cycling journey.

At nearly 50 years old and having not ridden a bike since I was a teenager, although I was enthusiastic about joining an Easy ride, I was also extremely apprehensive, with fears and doubts about whether I would indeed be able to.

My first ride was from Castleford Mill to Fairburn with ride Leaders Neville and Meg Andrews and back marker Sandy Clark. They were all very welcoming and reassuring, which helped tremendously to settle my nerves. Although I was unable to complete the full ride, I was supervised on a shorter route to wait for the rest of the group.  I received encouraging support which helped me and therefore I did not let this deter me. I have continued to ride with the group and can now in fact ace all the hills, with 100% encouragement and support from the group.

Following on from my cycling success and sharing my journey on Facebook has encouraged friends to come along with me on rides. They all started with the initial fears and now like me look forward to the next ride.

From me and the gang we would like to give a big “thank you” shout out to the team at WDCF.

Sharon Kaye.

Christmas Dinner

Having had a cycle tour to see the tulips in Holland, an anniversary meal and a 90th birthday family gathering all scuppered by Covid, I’m crossing everything in the hope that a planned Christmas Dinner/ Reunion for WDCF will go ahead.

We’ve made a reservation for a four course meal at the Kings Croft Hotel in Pontefract on Wednesday 15th December at 7 pm.  The menu, which has options to suit carnivores, vegetarians and vegans, looks very tasty and omnivores are going to be spoilt for choice.

We’ve got the room to ourselves and will be able to spread out sufficiently to keep people comfortable.  If you would like to join us  (I promise it will be more fun than the AGM!) please email info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk and we’ll send you a booking form and request for a post-dated cheque for £20 to pay for the meal.

I look forward forward to seeing you all in paper hats rather than cycle helmets!

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