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!
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.
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?
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’?
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.
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 email@example.com and he’ll add you to his list of volunteers to be contacted when help is needed.
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.
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!