Wakefield District Cycle Forum - promoting and campaigning for cyclists
Wakefield District Cycle Forum
Wakefield District Cycle Forum
Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists

WDCF Newsletter Spring 2024

Edition No. 65

In This Edition

The Lake District comes to Yorkshire

WoW Rides and more

Open Country re-opens

Becoming a Bike Mechanic

Ruby and Rhubarb

Rycroft Event

Workday Words

Cycling in Portugal and Spain

The Lake District comes to Yorkshire

We’ve had a really soggy start to 2024. The WoW has become a tour of the Waters of Wakefield, with new ponds appearing at field edges everywhere and any sunken spots rapidly filling up with water.  Where previously the light sparkled off fields of polytunnels, now it’s little lakes glinting in the sun.  Steep uphill climbs have become downhill torrents, with floodwaters washing away path sides and concealing hazardous dips in the track. 

Andy’s Workday Words featured later has something to say on the subject and I urge you to read and respond. Meanwhile you’ll see that it is possible to wrap up well and enjoy the weather.

WoW Rides and more

To help newcomers who haven’t been able to book a place on a WDCF WoW ride but want to give it a go, the council are providing new WoW signs in up to 40 locations.

The photo shows Lou Galloway indicating one of the places for a new sign and the direction it will point. Meanwhile, the Our Year pink version of the WoW map has been installed in the map stands at Anglers, Newmillerdam, Pugneys and Walton Park and new stands are in course of preparation for the Hepworth Wakefield and another as yet undisclosed location.

After a splendid start to Our Year of WoWs in January, featured in our last newsletter, the numbers in February and March were reduced to 20 in February and 21 in March respectively.  Fortunately, the number on the latter ride included some experienced ride leaders, as the March ride started with two punctures, which needed sorting before the ride could start, to be followed with another couple of punctures en route. 

A tyre which failed part-way round was considered too unreliable to continue and that cyclist was accompanied home by a ride leader. The mud on many of the paths was greasy and the depth of it in places concealed rocks, kerbs and other obstacles.  As a result, 4 people fell over at some stage, including our tandem, but damage was limited to bruises, both of shins and ego.

This year represented an important anniversary for cyclists in Wakefield District.  It’s ten years since the site of the disused Chevet Branch Line became a cycle path, now forming an important section of the WoW.  Sandy Clark, pictured below, as one of its creators, said a few words on the WoW to mark this.



The council recently consulted on removing the narrow, off-set A-frame at Portobello, which is at present the only way to get along the bridleway short of limboing under the gate across the road. We responded with suggestions and have now been advised that in removing the A frame, it is now the council’s intention to alter the gap adjacent to the gate as much as possible in order to improve the access for as many users as possible.  We’ll be testing it on our tandem and will report back.

March also brought our first Wakefield Wheel of the year, a circular ride of 38 miles with more on-road riding than the WoW.  This is not publicised on Eventbrite but is featured on our rides leaflet.  Eleven of us set off at 9 am from Nostell on what was still a muddy ride, with Malcolm leading and Tim on his first ride as back marker.  Our only casualty this time was Tim’s wife Kerry but she came a cropper near their home, so it was an easy choice for her to leave us at that point.

The weather was more amenable than last year’s Wheel, but the ride was taxing non-the-less. All finished with a justified sense of achievement.

Open Country re-opens

If you don’t want to limit your cycling to the weekends, can’t find anyone prepared to come out with you in the evenings, don’t fancy washing your bike when you get back to base at 8 or 9pm but would be happy to go out with a friendly and supportive group, piloting a tandem with a passenger with sight impairment or learning disabilities, then Open Country is at hand. They do have a few electric assist tandems and some of their visually impaired stokers are fearlessly ferocious pedallers, so you won’t be doing all the work.

Open Country’s Wakefield Cycle Group have now come out of their winter cycling hibernation and their evening tandem rides, carried out under the name ‘Wakefield Tandem Club’, have restarted. This year, Ella will be running the Wednesday rides, mostly taking the tandems in their bus to various local locations. Beth will be running the Thursday rides, generally starting from Thornes Park. See the poster  for contact details.

Open large poster in a new tab

Open Country is also involved in improving access to the countryside for all and this year have been improving the surface of the Trans Pennine Trail over Heath Common. We’re grateful for that.

Becoming a Bike Mechanic

Following the departure of Graham West & Steve Valentine, the Forum has been missing a vital component – Bike Doctors.  Others have bravely stepped up to volunteer when required, thanks Andy, but we were unable to run regular Bike Doctor or Bike Maintenance sessions.  The Bike Doctor billboard remained firmly behind in the Stables at Nostell when we ran our ‘Holiday Wednesday’ sessions during the summer.

To distinguish between the two activities: –

Bike Doctor: People turn up with their own bikes and any straightforward repairs are carried out on the spot by a qualified bike mechanic. Minor repairs may include any of the following: –

    1. Brakes – adjust/replace pads and cables.
    2. Gears – indexing, adjustment and cable replacement.
    3. Chain – check for wear, lubricate and advise if replacement needed.
    4. Tyres – Fix puncture. Check tread, air pressure and advise if replacement needed.
    5. Other – Critical torque settings. Check headset & bottom bracket and advise if replacement needed. Check bar end plugs and cable end caps and replace if missing.

Maximum time allowed – 30 minutes

    1. Bike Maintenance: People may or may not bring their own bike but they are shown how to do basic maintenance, followed by a ‘hands on’ sessions where practicable.  The class would last about two hours at an indoor venue and includes: –
    2. ‘M’ check – to identify any issues and make sure the bike is safe to ride.
    3. Puncture repair – remove and replace a wheel, repair an inner tube.
    4. Rim & Disc Brakes – Pad inspection and adjustment.
    5. Gears – high & low limit and indexing adjustment.
    6. Chain, cassette and chainrings – check for wear.
    7. Bearings – check if loose or gritty.
    8. Washing, drying, degreasing and lubricating – why this is important.
    9. Basic toolkit and what spares to carry.
    10. Get you home advice – how to cope with a broken chain/spoke/cable

    Recently, Lou Galloway – our main point of contact with Wakefield WMDC, approached the Forum with a generous offer to pay for two people to qualify as bike mechanics on a course run by Cytech, who provide internationally recognised training and accreditation for bicycle technicians.

    The grant would enable two people to attend both the Level 1 and Level 2 courses at the Cytech training centre in Darlington.  There was no budget for travel or subsistence and each course had a start time on 08:30 in Darlington – some 70 plus miles away.  Level 1 required attendance for 2 days and Level 2 for 2 weeks!

    Malcolm and I volunteered and so began almost 3 weeks of a daily commute from Wakefield to Darlington.  Fortunately, we were able to share the driving and the associated cost.  Thus began, what was for me, an eye opening experience in the mysteries of the various bits on a bike that I’d never considered before.  How many people reading this article can tell the difference between a freewheel and a cassette?  And did you know that a cassette has a freehub?  Confusing or what!

    The course tutor was Chuck Heckman and I cannot praise him enough for his empathy and his ability to answer any bike related question whether it was from a complete novice like me or from one of the much more experienced people on the course.

    The workshop was very well equipped and we each had our own bench and tools.  We were instructed from the very beginning about the importance of torque and that the most valuable tool in the kit was the torque wrench.  Tea and coffee was available at any time and there was a separate room where we all gathered for lunch.  The rest of the people on the course knew far more about bikes than I did and at times the lunchtime conversation seemed to be in a foreign language.  I thought that Pinarello might be an Italian pasta dish but apparently it is a high end Italian bike.  One of the participants even had a converted loft storing 15 bikes – none of which he felt able to part with.

    From time to time Chuck would assemble us at the front to deliver a talk on the various bits of a bike that we were going to be dealing with and then we would return to our benches to carry out the allotted task.  He was always happy to answer questions and explain any of the procedures that seemed a little obscure.  Printed sheets were also made available, which meant that I could study the bits that hadn’t quite sunk in during the talk.

    One element of the course was to build a wheel from scratch.  We were given a hub and a rim and then had to calculate the correct spoke length. Having received the right number of spokes of the correct length, the complex task of interweaving the spokes and fitting them into the right holes began.  And no, left and right spokes are not necessarily the same length!.  However, the best bit was yet to come – truing the wheel.  We were told that most standard bike wheels were built to a tolerance of 7mm but we had to get to 2mm – fun indeed.

    There was a very friendly and supportive atmosphere for the duration of the course and I was able to ask for assistance when I inevitably got lost setting something up or forgot which bolt was a left-hand thread.  By the way ‘lefty loosie and righty tighty’ doesn’t always work.

    I think that we all learned something, even those who were already employed as bike mechanics  and I certainly did.  The Level 2 course final exam was to strip down a bike to its basic components, which left only a frame in the bike stand, and then build it all back up again, while truing the bottom bracket and reaming the headset.  We were allowed to leave the outer cables in place – a small mercy.  Needless to say, I was the last to finish the rebuild and most people had gone home by then.  Malcolm unfortunately had to wait for me to finish and was able to eat his sandwiches while I finished the rebuild.

    In the end, we both passed the final test and became qualified bike mechanics.  There is a Level 3 and even two e-bike modules but Level 2 is where I stop.  Hopefully, I will be able to remember most of it when we start the Bike Doctor sessions.  Watch Facebook for details.

    Neville Andrews

    Ruby and Rhubarb

    WDCF meets in the area covered by the Rhubarb Triangle- much safer than the Bermuda Triangle and drier, as the Bermuda version is all at sea.  To celebrate this local pink sweet delicacy, an annual Rhubarb Festival is held in Wakefield.  

    As part of the Our Year celebrations, WDCF had their own stall at the festival, ably manned by Mark, Cherry, Sandy and David Keighley.  David did manage to slip away, however, for a sly tipple with the voluptuous dame Ruby Rhubarb but was caught on camera.


    Rycroft Event

    In February we received an email ‘Calling all communities in Ryhill and Havercroft! Come along to the Rycroft Bike Hub Launch on Saturday 2 March between 11am and 2pm It doesn’t matter whether you have a bike or not or are a keen cyclist or have never ridden a bike – you’ll find a friendly bunch of volunteers waiting to chat to you about what you’d like to see happening at our new Bike Hub! There’s free food, a free puncture kit and other giveaways, and a chance to have your bike checked/serviced (if you have one). For people of any age, this is an event not to be missed.’ 

    The occasion was to promote the start of a series of events aimed at helping those who would like to cycle but lack either the skill or confidence to jump on a bike and ride.  The events are sponsored by British Triathlon and overseen by the Ryhill Leisure Centre.  There is no charge and there are bikes and helmets available to borrow.

    As our monthly Easy Rides from Ryhill weren’t producing any local riders who weren’t already WDCF members, we decided it would be good to have a presence at the event so Neville and Malcolm duly turned up both to promote cycling through our guided rides and to wave the flag for campaigning for cycling infrastructure in the area. They were joined there by Louise Galloway, a Health Improvement Officer with WMDC and our best link with the council.  The bike doctor team from the Brig Altofts were also there.  The weather wasn’t good but the meeting was in a large room at Rycroft Community Centre so children were able to cycle round indoors.

    We hoped that our next Ryhill Ride would be attended by a plethora of locals keen to get on a bike and, under our guidance, explore their local cycle routes. The weather didn’t bode well as it was raining heavily when Neville and I arrived to find a full car park and Malcolm waiting for us.  Sadly, there was some sort of football match on and the locals seemed keener to watch other people rushing round rather than take part in useful, enjoyable exercise in the fresh, but damp, air. At 10.30am, the start time for the ride, Malcolm and Neville were proposing to abandon the ride but Meg prevailed on them to wait another 5 minutes, quoting the propensity of at least one of our members to turn up 5 minutes late for almost every ride. Before extra time ran out, two riders duly turned up, Naomi and Ivaar.

    Pre ride checks had exposed the wet and slippery nature of the usual route to Anglers Country Park, so with the consent of all 4 riders, Ivaar making clear his anxiety to get set off without further delay, we abandoned the disused railway tracks and set off along quiet roads.  Naomi’s friend hadn’t been able to join her as she had gone to the Lake District.  Looking at the number of new ponds that had appeared, it seemed as though the Lake had come to us.  Entering the car park at Anglers, we were grateful for the free wheel wash provided- or it may just have been a very large puddle. By the time we left the café, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining.  No-one had fallen off or had a puncture and we all had a good time.

    Workday Words

    After a very frustrating wait, we are planning to restart general workdays shortly. As most will be aware the paths and trails out there have suffered as never before this winter with extensive and repeated flooding causing all sorts of problems.

    What have until recently appeared good, solid trails have deteriorated and now need a good fettling to return them to a robust condition.

    Initially our main focus of attention will be the network on Nostell Estates land, letting WMDC continue recent good work on public routes, including installing the track across the grassed area at Stanley Ferry from the cottages to the road bridge. In preparation, we have had a load of road planings tipped in a central location and will require plenty of ‘hands on deck’ once we can get at it.  David Keighley and Geoff Banks  are shown filling the channel scoured out next to the wooden drain installed last year, while the writer, Andy Beecroft, takes a brief break to record the scene.

     Notice of workdays will be posted as an event on our Facebook page so keep an eye out for when this occurs. If you notice any particular issues on the network when you are out and about, let us know and hopefully we can sort it.

    Cycling in Spain and Portugal

    Like many others we were depressed by the January weather and decided we needed a break somewhere warmer. A friend had suggested the resort of Monte Gordo, at the eastern end of the Algarve in Portugal.

    We arrived on a sunny Sunday and were impressed. Our friend had said cycling was a big thing in the area and therefore we planned to hire bikes for at least half the holiday.

    On the second day we walked across to the cycle shop opposite the hotel and hired two bikes for three days. Whilst road bikes and mountain bikes were available the vast majority for hire were Dutch sit up and beg style. The makes – Torgano City 700 and Orbita – were unknown to me.  (We learned that a very high proportion of holiday makers in the area were Dutch, contributing to the popularity of cycling).

    Monte Gordo lies 3 kilometres from Vila Real de Santo Antonio which is on the Rio Guadiana. This substantial river forms the border between Portugal and Spain.

    We decided that Ayamonte, in Spain would be our first goal. As we set off, we were immediately impressed with the on road segregated cycling provision. We cycled to Vila Real de Santo Antonio and caught the very reasonably priced ferry across to Spain. We looked around the town, had lunch and then set off for Isla de Canela, an island at the mouth of the Rio Guadiana. As we had experienced in Portugal cycle facilities were pretty good with separation from general traffic in most places.

    On the way an argument developed between me and my wife. She said it was 4pm and I told her my watch said 3pm. As always, she was right! Portugal is on UK time but Spain has been + one hour since 1940. (Franco wanted to harmonize Spanish time with Nazi Germany and it has never been changed back).

    Accordingly, we turned back and caught the last but one ferry back to Portugal.

    On the following two days we explored the coast, Vila Real de Santo Antonio, the Pine Forests, an extensive nature reserve and the salt pans within it. We particularly liked Castro Marim and its Castle giving views over the surrounding countryside.

    We were very impressed by the facilities for cyclists with separate cycle tracks almost everywhere. Many were up to three metres wide but in urban areas they were sometimes squeezed to as little as one metre. Motorists were generally quite considerate, with Spain marginally better than Portugal.

    The weather was generally pleasant except for one bout of wind and rain (when we weren’t on our bikes!)

    We really enjoyed our time there and our cycling. Portugal is a great country.

     Mark and Ruth Beswick

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