Day 4 of #30DaysOfBiking

Catching up with my blogging!

Some days a man’s got to wash the car, mow the grass, etc. Today was one of those days! So, with a cleaner car and a neater garden, just time for a ride around the block!

Route here on RideWithGPS.

Summary Day 4 – Bike: Brompton, Distance: 1 miles, Cumulative total: 9 miles.

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Day 3 of #30DaysOfBiking

Much easier today in that I was going to cycle to a meeting anyway!

So the ride on Day 3 was to a committee meeting of CTC Northampton, the local member group of the UK’s Cyclists’ Touring Club.  And via a little bit of shopping at my local supermarket, Waitrose in Kingsthorpe.

I’m having a little bit of an argument / complaint / polite discussion with the supermarket.  They have reduced the number of cycle-racks and moved them away from a window where they could be seen from the café inside the store.  I’ve now had a couple of conversations with the customer service people and their manager.

I took a photo and posted it on social media.

The bike-racks in their new position

The bike-racks in their new position

Here are some of the comments that followed:

1 That’s a bit disappointing. I would have thought that Waitrose had a sustainability officer who should be encouraging and incorporating green efforts from their customers. Better signage might help and also better bike racks. CCTV, space for cargo bikes,panniers etc (I saw better examples of units at The London Bike show so will go check my blog for a reminder) Also removing the trolleys rather than the allocated space would be my expected approach, not the other way round. Waitrose do listen to their customers so perhaps if enough peeps requested cycle storage they might consider it? Here’s hoping…!

2 My local branch knew all about the free bike-trailer scheme operated by their Chichester branch!

3 Our local Waitrose removed the bike racks from a covered area to put trolleys there that were previously in the store foyer. I complained but they said tough, there was bike parking elsewhere (in a narrow section unprotected from the rain). I always leave Alfie where the old bike racks were, freestanding of course! (A reference to a recumbent trike.)

4 No bike racks. No trolley scheme. Not up round ours, Nothing on the plans for the new store either, and it will be ‘wrong’ side of town centre race track DC too. grrr.

5 Bike parking at my local Waitrose is ropey as well. I don’t give a damn because I park my bike IN the trolley. Actually, if they were really serious about the sustainability thing, they should launch guarded bike parking.

The assistant brought the manager to me and said to him, “This gentlemen always cycles here. Sometimes he brings his foldy bike in. Sometimes he parks a proper bike. He’s a regular customer.” To be honest, I hadn’t noticed the lady before! Loved the foldy/proper distinction she made!

Today, I was on the foldy bke.  Spoke to the manager (he was excited by the bike; I don’t think he’d seen a Brompton before; he was really interested!).  The store was empty.

Plenty of room

Plenty of room

And then it was on to my meeting where another member is taking a different approach.  Instead of complaining to Waitrose, he’s been complaining to the County Council as the planning authority.  When the shopping centre was built, he wondered, did planning permission include the provision of a certain number of bike racks?  Can they be reduced by the supermarket without consultation?  Have they broken the planning agreement?  I hadn’t thought of that line of reasoning!

Really the meeting is about planning weekend rides and social events – and seeking opportunities to promote cycling.  But, once in a while, our campaigning side comes out!

Summary Day 3 – Bike: Brompton, Distance: 4 miles, Total: 8 miles. Weather: cloudy evening with hint of rain after the meeting. Route here on RideWithGPS.  I did ride home afterwards!

Day 1 of #30DaysOfBiking

30 Days of Biking – a simple sounding challenge: just to ride a bike once a day every day in April.

Main 30DOB site here.  Blog here and on Tumblr here.

Day 1 – Bike: Peugeot Princeton, Distance: 2 miles, Weather: spring warmth.  Daffodils very noticeable.

I tried this challenge last year and didn’t succeed. Managed to ride a bike in France, Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands but not every day in April 2013.

I’ve got an added impetus this year.  I put my name forward to the good people of 30 Days of Biking in Minneapolis and I’ve been asked to write the 30DOB blog for 20th April and so I’ve got to keep going.

Today was a very simple ride, very like the ride I made on 2nd April last year – a visit to my nearest sub-post-office.  And today’s photo is very similar with my everyday bike leaning against the post box.IMG_0369It was a parcel today.  I turned 65 last birthday and I’ve decided to de-clutter, starting with the loft and, where it looks practical, putting unwanted items on eBay.  And so I was off to post a Kenwood Chef Coffee Grinder attachment to someone in Putney.

Here’s my route on Endomondo.  I’m going to try to start most days at The Obelisk.IMG_0001

and here’s the detail of the information plaqueIMG_0002

I pedalled through the pocket park and then down to the post office.  I returned through Kingsthorpe Cemetery which, as well as having my Dad’s grave, has those of Lucia Joyce (James Joyce’s daughter) and Violet Gibson (“The Woman Who Shot Mussolini“).  Do see the inspired blog by a dog-walker who observes the cemetery closely!

A reading at Lucia's grave - Bloomsday 2007

A reading at Lucia’s grave – Bloomsday 2007

And then I was home!

 

Happy 1st Birthday, Critical Mass Northampton!

On Friday evening, in common with most Critical Mass meetings throughout the world, Critical Mass Northampton met for a ride – and with a difference because this celebrated a year of rides. It was CM Northampton’s 1st Birthday!

We shared this 1st Birthday with Critical Mass Tetovo in Macedonia and exchanged birthday greetings!

We met at The Racecourse, slightly later at 6.30 p.m. (Usually the rides start at 6.00 p.m.) and many participants joined the “pirate” theme by dressing themselves and their bikes. Sorry! Never thought to take pictures of the best ones. On rider had a trailer with what looked like a cannon from a pirate ship together with a skull-and-crossbones flag!

Riders gather at The Racecourse

Riders gather at The Racecourse

Enjoyed chatting with friends old and new. Good to see David out for probably the first time since his “off” in Walgrave a month ago. Then we set off, about ninety of us at a conservative estimate – plenty of left turns – and the Mass continued through junctions and traffic lights to a pause in the town centre, the square at the front of All Saints Church.

Gathering in All Saints Church piazza

Gathering in All Saints Church piazza

Alex S came up and said hello; I hadn’t spotted him before this and, like my previous CM, we chatted so much that I couldn’t have told you the route we took to our final destination if I hadn’t switched my iPhone app on!

The route is here on Endomondo.

The final destination was The Pomfret Arms on Southbridge. Beer, music, barbecue and cheese plates. Beer from Hart Family Brewery – I sampled the No 9 from the cask.

The bar at The Pomfret Arms

The bar at The Pomfret Arms

You won’t believe I eschewed the barbecue in favour of the cheese plate from St Giles Cheese – Keens unpasteurised vintage farmhouse cheddar, Fourme d’Ambert and Delice de Bourgogne with sourdough bread and quince membrillo. OK, I had to ask about the last item. Turns out it’s a quince jelly made in Spain.

Then home. Four miles on CM, eleven miles door-to-door. Oh, and there were birthday stickers too for the Brompton! Excellent!

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

My first Critical Mass ride

I finally got round to joining my local Critical Mass ride this month.  Critical Mass in Northampton has been running on the last Friday of the month since last summer and sets off from the Racecourse at 6.00 p.m.  Despite the wind and rain, I was there!

I saw three people I already knew and everyone else was very welcoming.  A great atmosphere!

We set off on what turned out to be a figure-of-eight route through the town.  I don’t think I would have remembered the route without a tracker app as I was pretty much in conversation with other cyclists most of the time.Windy and, at times, a little wet!

Windy and at times a little wet!

In just under an hour we were back at the Racecourse and many of us adjourned to The Olde England.At the end of the ride!

At the end of the ride!

More about the origins of Critical Mass here.  Link to CM Northampton’s Facebook page here.  Photos taken from Ministry of Bicycles‘ Instagram feed.

The Sustrans / University of Northampton ride

The event took place last Wednesday and was a great opportunity to meet people.  I met George Pollard, the new Sustrans officer at the University.  And then he equipped half-a-dozen students with bikes from his Sustrans “fleet”.  Two more helpers turned up: John from the CTC and Bill, George’s brother, of Bomberdrome and Ministry of Bicycles fame.

We made a little alternative to the planned route down to the Brampton Valley Way – going through Obelisk Spinney into Boughton rather than down Lynton Avenue to the A508.

 

The students were keen on the fast descent of Brampton Lane and enjoyed the flat BVW going further than they thought.  With of course the result that there was further to pedal back!

The limit of our adventure: the BVW at the Brixworth-to-Spratton road

The limit of our adventure: the BVW at the Brixworth-to-Spratton road

A non-alcoholic break was taken at The Windhover, hosted by George (Sustrans’ expenses exclude the taking of alcoholic beverages.

Refreshments at The Windhover

Refreshments at The Windhover

Then we were off along the BVW towards Kingsthorpe, leaving at Kentstone Avenue before a slightly gentler climb up to the University.  And one little alternative again: straight along Reynard Way to use the toucan crossing of Holly Lodge Drive.

The students all enjoyed it.  The prize for those who had come the furthest went to the three Greek students on Erasmus exchanges!

Route here: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/2183486 and the Greek girls were very pleased to have cycled 20 kilometres!

Recce’ing a ride for Sustrans / University of Northampton

Thursday morning was bright and mild – almost spring-like – and so I decided it would be an ideal time for recce’ing a short ride being organised next week for students at my local university by Sustrans.  I think it’s part of the university’s Environment Week.

The fun part of the ride is to be along the traffic-free Brampton Valley Way (BVW).  The problem is to find a safe route from the university to the BVW – and another safe route back again – for cyclists who may well be inexperienced or nervous in motor traffic.

With friends John and Phil, I’d helped on a smiler ride last year but couldn’t remember the safe route back.  And I have to admit that that part of Kingsthorpe (between the BVW and the Welford Road) is a bit of a mystery triangle for me.

So, I started at the University and got quickly down to The Windhover where the A5199 crosses the BVW and I remembered two pieces I’d read by fellow Kingsthorpe Blogger “baptissimo”.  In his blog “Searching for Lucia” he’d written about a tile mosaic erected beside the path.  And then he’d found another one!

So, instead of just recce’ing a safe way back, I pedalled along the BVW (We’ll be going along there with the university group on Wednesday anyway).  Met three ladies; asked them; no, they hadn’t seen any mosaics.  And then I did – just where the restored railway begins.

A ghostly figure enjoys a cup of coffee

A ghostly figure enjoys a cup of coffee

A quick pedal back; chat with the three women (their dogs must have been slow); onto the BVW going south from The Windhover.  What a lovely surface for that part of the Way!  And then nipping through a jitty into Kentstone Close, it was a safe journey back to the University.

Now the upside to all this is that Carole Miles commented on “Searching for Lucia” and identified herself as the artist.  The mosaics project is called “Marking a Fine Lane” and there are some excellent photos by the splendidly named MacCanonymous here on Flickr.

Here’s the route I’ll suggest to Sustrans: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3924804