In This Edition
The New Year
Santa Rides galore
Feasts and Festivities
Our Year starts with a WoW
Chevet Branch Line
Sandy and David’s Seat
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.
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.
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.
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!