The Big Bike Ride
If you are reading this, then you have found your way to WDCF’s updated website- we hope you like it. We haven’t produced the usual colourful rides leaflet this year, outlining the date, time and standard of all rides, but all the information about the next four months’ rides now appears on the Events and Rides pages of the website.
We are introducing two new steady rides –one from Pugneys on the second Sunday of the month and a second from Nostell on the third Saturday. In addition, easy rides from Thornes Park will start in July on the 3rd July at 10.30am, followed by the 7th August and the 4th of September.
The Tuesday evening steady rides from Pontefract Park have started again, leaving at 6pm (18.00) from the Aspire Car Park on the second Tuesday. Rides starting from Anglers have been suspended for the time being but the easy rides from Nostell generally call in there if you want to visit the café or wave at the witch on her broom.
We will be adding Cafes to our Clubs and Shops pages. If you would like to recommend a friendly supplier of hot food, who is happy to serve a collection of men and women in shorts at short notice with reasonable speed, do get in touch. Similarly, if your local cycle shop isn’t listed, let us know.
Open Country, a Wakefield charity based out of Thornes Park and a partner of ours, has produced its first ever Wakefield ‘Breakfree’ pack to inspire and inform people of the area’s many accessible routes. Although the pack has been launched with disabled people in mind, they are perfect for families with young kids and pushchairs, anyone who might struggle with exercise and older people with mobility problems.
The pack features 12 short trails around parks, nature reserves and reservoirs across the district including Newmillerdam, Pugneys, Walton Colliery and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The individual route cards give a detailed trail description of the terrain, gates or barriers, the gradient as well as features of interest including play areas, wildlife watching opportunities and water features. The route cards also list if there is a cafe and WC facilities and whether these are accessible to all.
The pack is free to download from the website at www.opencountry.org.uk/breakfree. Groups and individuals with disabilities can also get a free printed version of the Breakfree pack by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ella Dixon is Open Country’s Wild About Wakefield Project Officer and has commented: “The new Breakfree packs aim to break down some of the barriers to participation in the outdoors and demonstrate just how easy it is to access some great places on our doorstep. We’re lucky enough to have 560 kilometres of Public Rights of Way and permissive paths available to walkers and cyclists, as well as 7 country parks and 16 nature reserves. Our Breakfree packs feature the most accessible of these places, detailing everything you need to know to make an experience in the outdoors more enjoyable.”
Kathryn Mudge, Active Communities Manager at Yorkshire Sport Foundation, says: “The pandemic has widened the inequalities that already exist and it has been particularly difficult for people with disabilities or mobility issues to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits we know come with being active. As restrictions continue to ease, we hope the packs Open Country are providing will give individuals and families that opportunity to explore Wakefield and be active once again.”
Cllr Jacquie Speight, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport at Wakefield Council, is backing the Breakfree packs. According to Wakefield Council’s State of the District report published in January 2021, only 26% of adults walked for at least 10 minutes five times a week (date from 2018-19). In the same timeframe just 7% of adults said they cycled at least once a week. Nevertheless, WDCF notes that the council continues to hamper access to the countryside for all with the plethora of kissing gates and narrow ‘A’ frames that seem to sprout up like weeds without any prior consultation.
For more information about Open Country’s work across Wakefield, visit their website at www.opencountry.org.uk/wakefield-project
Organising WDCF’s contribution to British Cycling’s Big Bike Ride was a bit like a swan swimming past- all calm and serene on top but paddling like mad underneath. We thought we had it all organised, but then every email brought a new hiccup or withdrawal. It put me in mind of the Agatha Christie novel based on a children’s rhyme, now a play called ‘And then there were none’. It didn’t get that bad, but inspired the following piece of verse:
Eight Ride Leaders had routes planned – what heaven!
One had to isolate and then there were seven.
Seven Ride Leaders and eight rides- what a fix.
One hurt his hand and then there were six.
Six Ride Leaders glad to be alive.
One’s hip went and then there were five.
Five Ride Leaders thinking, ‘We need more’.
One had visitors and then there were four.
Four Ride Leaders getting a bit deranged,
When someone said, ‘my visit’s rearranged.
Five Ride Leaders going round the bend,
When someone said, ‘I can ask a friend.’
Six Ride Leaders wondering what to do,
When someone said, ‘My ride is short- I can do two.’
Seven rides sorted but eight is what they’d like,
When someone said, ‘I’ll borrow a bike’.
So, on a beautiful sunny day
The Big Bike Ride got under way.
All rides were planned with a Ride Leader and one or more Back Markers. Although poetic license has been used and some of the incidents occurred in a different order or related to a Back Marker rather than Ride Leader, with those provisos, it’s all true. The eight rides went ahead without mishap and a good time was had by all. We added 350 miles to the Big Bike Ride total and introduced riders to new routes or variations to old ones.
We’ve had some lovely feedback on one of our Big Bike Rides from a former member who moved out of the area but called in on a ‘flying’ visit. Elisabeth wrote:
‘Thank you once again for allowing me to join you on your ride on 30th May. I had a wonderful time and it brought back many fantastic memories of when I used to be able to join you on a more regular basis. I am really happy here in Wales but I have not been able to find a wonderful cycling group similar to yours. There are a number of clubs for more confident and able riders but nothing of a more ‘social’ nature for less confident or less able riders who want to be largely off road. Your group is so friendly and supportive and you have such a wonderful resource in all those off-road tracks around the district.
Sunday made me reflect on what a great help your group was to me whilst I recuperated from serious ill health which is almost a decade ago now. The value of gentle exercise in beautiful surroundings, with kind people cannot be underestimated and on a practical level, being able to borrow a bike from yourselves just makes the experience so much easier when you are struggling with so many other things. Thank you to you and your colleagues who do such a great job in running the group and keeping all the routes open, serviceable and signposted.’
Elisabeth sums up beautifully what WDCF is about and we are grateful for her support.
After May, when the verges were covered in hawthorn blossom, we’re now into flaming June with swathes of dog roses and elder flowers. I’m trying to make a note of where the latter are most profuse, so I can collect some berries for elderberry wine later in the year. WDCF rides have now started up again enthusiastically. As we are ‘organised rides’ and collect riders’ details for track and trace, we are allowed up to 30 people on any ride, although at café stops we still have to split into groups of no more than 6. The weather to date (and I’m crossing fingers at this point!) has meant that sitting outside does not present a challenge.
June began with a Steady Plus ride from Darrington on Saturday 5th, with 9 riders covering 27½ miles at a cracking pace, followed more sedately by an Easy Ride from Nostell on the 6th. The steady ride from Pugneys on the 13th June was a new venture, thoroughly enjoyed by the 9 participants, 7 of whom appear in the photo.
An Easy Ride from Thornes Park on the first Saturday of the month is another introduction, which we hope will prove popular enough to support its continuation.
Once again, we will be running our popular ‘Holiday Wednesdays’ at Nostell on 28th July and throughout August on the 4th, 11th and 18th between 11am and 3pm. There will be a Cycling Information Stand, where WDCF members will be on hand to give information, maps, leaflets and advice, our famous Cycle Skills Course, where youngsters and others can practice their cycling skills using their own bike or using one of ours and a short, guided ride in the grounds of Nostell again using either your own bike or one of ours.
We will be attending Portobello Gala in Manygates Park on Wednesday 25th August from 10am until 4pm where again we will be dusting down our Cycling Information Stand and setting up our renowned Cycle Skills Course for the delectation of avid junior riders.
At Nostell on Sunday 29th August between 11am and 4pm, we will be holding a Cycling Fun day featuring not only a Cycling Information Stand, Cycle Skills Course and short guided ride but also a Bike Doctor. You are invited to dust off your bike and bring it along to the event, where our Bike Doctor will give it a free bicycle safety and health check.
At all these events, volunteers are needed to help set up the stand and skills course, man both and tidy up afterwards. It’s generally a lot of fun and a chance to meet new people and reconnect with old ones- both more important than usual after the restrictions imposed during the past 12 months or so. If you can help, even if for only a limited period, do get in touch via email@example.com.
WDCF has decided to become formally affiliated to Cycling UK. This will save us over £300 for public liability insurance, whilst doubling the cover to £10,000,000. Our rides can be publicised on their website and we will have access to their training courses. It will, however, mean a limitation of 10 non-members on any ride in our normal rides programme and that guest riders can only attend 3 rides without becoming members of WDCF. As life membership of WDCF costs only £5, this should not act as a deterrent, even in Yorkshire!
Corona Virus has struck the AGM again. The proposed lifting of restrictions on the 21st of June has been postponed and the July date cannot be relied on. To ensure that as many members as wish can attend, we are moving the AGM to the 23rd September 2021. It will be held at 7pm at a venue yet to be finalised. We will give you plenty of notice once an agreement has been reached. If you are coming by bike, don’t forget to bring your lights!
Apart from the usual chairman’s ‘annual’ report, covering the period since the last annual report in 2019 and the treasurer’s statement of accounts, the various officers come up for re-election or replacement. If would like to ask any questions, make any suggestions, stand for any of the posts or just want to see what everyone looks like after months of lockdown, do come along.