Saving the world
Two New Contributors
How cycling came into my life
How cycling came back into my life
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.
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.
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’ .
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 email@example.com and we’ll put you in touch with the organisers.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!