With more and more people taking to two wheels at the weekend, increasing numbers are also getting on their bike as a healthy and stress free way to get to work or school. All Terrain Cycles gives some tips on staying safe on the roads
If you’ve caught cycling fever over the summer and are keen to keep on pedalling through the winter, riding your bike on a regular school or work run, could be the answer. As well as being more environmentally-friendly, cheaper and time efficient as you’ll spend less time stuck in traffic, you’ll also be fitter and probably arrive at your destination in a better frame of mind.
Unfortunately, many people are put off commuting by bike because of the amount of traffic on the roads and the attitude of some motorists, but for cyclists with a little experience, road sense and confidence, this shouldn’t be a problem. Start by picking the safest route you can, use cycle lanes and back streets wherever possible; and make sure you do a test run over the weekend when the roads are relatively quiet.
It might be better not to get overwhelmed by trying to cycle every day, but instead set yourself a goal of once a week and then build up from there. It is also worth having all your gear and bike ready the night before so that you’re not under time pressure in the morning. Always be prepared for all weather conditions and make sure you have a waterproof with you, as well as a puncture repair kit!
The more confident you are, the safer you are, so make sure you get lots of practice to improve you bike handling skills, even if it’s on trails before you venture onto the road. You need to feel comfortable looking over your right shoulder, signalling and moving out – a common error is for riders to lose control of the steering as soon as they take one hand off the handle bars and look behind them; make sure you don’t swerve when you signal!
Also, think about your position on the road – it’s actually safer to ride further out from the kerb. If you ride too close, you risk colliding with the edge of the pavement or having to veer out to avoid highway drains and potholes. Riding a good 3ft from the kerb also deters drivers from trying to get past you when there really isn’t room. According to the Highway Code, motorists are actually meant to give bikes at least as much room as they would a car when overtaking. Don’t be frightened of traffic, hold your position on the road and only give way when it is safe for you to do so. Parked cars are another potential hazard – if you can see someone in a parked vehicle as you approach, give it a wide berth in case the driver hasn’t seen you and opens the door into your path.
You should also be particularly careful of lorries and buses – with large blind spots both in front of the vehicle and down its sides, cyclists trying to sneak through the traffic are particularly vulnerable. So stay behind them! Beware of left-turning lorries and cars turning onto the main carriageway from side roads, particularly on the left, as it’s easy for drivers not to see a cyclist.
While this may all sound a little scary, we are talking about worst case scenarios and for most people doing a short commute around town, as long as they’re aware of the potential hazards, their journeys should be pleasant and incident free. In fact, cycle to school initiatives mean that that there are more children riding to school – it’s certainly sensible for a parent to initially cycle with their child to make sure they’re competent on the road and comfortable with the route. Remember that as children are only passengers in a car, they often have little appreciation or understanding of protocol on the roads, so make sure you teach them.
A final word of advice – do all you can to make sure that, as a cyclist, you can be seen. There’s a huge range of special high visibility cycle gear available incorporating fluorescent fabrics and reflective strips. Bike lights have also come a long way in the last few years with powerful rechargeable LED lights giving great visibility – don’t just use them at night, they’re essential for commuters at dusk, early in the morning or in poor weather conditions. And, of course, don’t even think about getting on a bike without a good quality, well-fitted cycle helmet!Author: Tony Booth
The UK now boasts some great trail centres for off road enthusiasts. Tony Booth of All Terrain Cycles takes a look at some of the best in the North
With the end of the summer in sight, many cyclists are putting away their road bikes and turning to mountain biking during the colder months. For all but the most dedicated of the lycra clad devotees, taking to the roads in wet and icy conditions on extremely thin tyres doesn’t have quite the same appeal as scrambling through the woods on some chunky MTB treads!
As well as Britain’s network of bridleways and country lanes, we’ve also seen the emergence of dedicated off road trail centres with purpose-built and way-marked trails and great facilities for cyclists. These have been a huge boost to the sport in recent years and we are fortunate to have some of the best in the UK here in Yorkshire or within easy reach.
So why are trail centres proving so popular? They are quite simply a paradise for mountain bikers and cyclo cross enthusiasts, offering a wide range of trails (rideable whatever the weather), and suitable for all levels of skills from complete beginners to the most adventurous daredevils. With well-marked specific trails, colour coded according to level of difficulty, they are a great way of progressing and trying more technically challenging routes. As well as tough red and black graded trails, enthusiasts can also hone their skills in specially-designed bike parks, usually identified with an orange trail marker (orange also indicates downhill runs).
Even if you’re not a seasoned pro, heading for a trail centre with friends or family is a great day out. They offer the chance to cycle off road, so are ideal for children – look out for the green trails which are usually flat, well-surfaced and wide enough to ride two abreast; before progressing to the slightly more difficult blue routes.
It’s also a fantastic chance to explore different parts of the country as well as many offering great bike maintenance facilities and usually a really nice café to refuel with tea and cake after pounding the pedals.
Many of the trail centres have been set up by the Forestry Commission which now boasts 2,500km of trails, often through some of the UK’s most stunning scenery.
Here’s our round-up of some of the best in the North:
Stainburn Forest Trail Centre, near Otley
Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club (YLCC) celebrated its first charity sportive on 14 August with over 300 riders joining organisers Kate Horsfall of Wetherby, Judith Worrall of Thirsk and Ali Tiffin of Leeds in an event which will have raised in the region of £11,000 for women’s cancer charities.
The sportive was supported by Carlton Lodge Activity Centre in Thirsk and All Terrain Cycles of Wetherby, as well as lots of other companies who contributed to this event, and more than 50 volunteers, many from YLCC and their friends and family, who marshalled and helped out at the sportive. The event raised funds for Women v Cancer which comprises Breast Cancer Care, Jo’s Cervical Cancer and Ovarian Cancer Action.
Female cyclists from as far a afield as Ireland and Falkirk travelled to Carlton Lodge Activity Centre, Thirsk, to take part in one of the three rides with options of a 30 mile ‘Cuppa tea and a piece a cake’ ride; a 60 mile ‘Reet Gud Ride’; and a 103 mile ‘By Eck Tha War Ard Ride’ route.
“It was an absolutely fantastic event which was even better than we expected – we filled every place, raised a staggering amount for women’s cancer charities and ate lots of cake!” said organisers Kate Horsfall and Judith Worrall.
“The sportive was everything that we wanted it to be, attracting riders of mixed abilities, but all with a common love of cycling. While we appreciated the many men who helped at the sportive, we felt that the rides really benefitted from being a ladies-only affair. Our cyclists felt happy to give it a go, even if they hadn’t done a sportive before, and it was an extremely friendly event.
“We’d like to thank everyone who helped to make it such a special day including our riders, volunteers and our many sponsors. A big thank you to Carlton Lodge Activity Centre and their staff for hosting the event, it really was the perfect venue and to All Terrain Cycles for their ongoing support, from helping us to set up the club 18 months ago to providing equipment and mechanical help on the day and, it wouldn’t have been possible without them both.”
Tony Booth, managing director of All Terrain Cycles, says: “Congratulations to YLCC for putting on such a magnificent event. It was great to see so many ladies taking to two wheels in aid of such a good cause and no doubt the sportive will be even bigger and better next year.”
The event was supported by a number of local businesses including Carlton Lodge, where Judith works. David Sharpe, chief executive of the activity centre agreed to stage the sportive which has also attracted sponsors including Yorkshire Tea Room, Yorkshire Tea, Office Solutions, Heck Sausages, Paynes Dairies, Masham Sausages and Chia Bars which are donating cakes, tea, sausages, energy bars, milk and office supplies.
The charity Sportive will be held again next year on the 20 August 2017 and details will be released via British Cycling events at the beginning of September .
Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club meets at 10am most Sunday’s at All Terrain Cycles on Audby Lane, Wetherby. Anyone interested in joining the club should visit: www.yorkshirelass.ccAuthor: Tony Booth
… organised by The Mersey Roads Club, took place on 23rd July 2016 at 1300hrs and I was foolhardy enough to take part. It’s straightforward enough, the race starts at Farndon, just south of Chester and works it’s way south to the “Race HQ” at Prees Heath roundabout where most support crews make camp (including my crew of Tony and Mick who by the looks of the picture below were earning a quid on the side washing vehciles…), riders continue down the A49 to loop back to Prees Heath before going down a similar circuit on the A41 with another loop on back roads through to Quina Brook. The race continues in this manner till 2200hrs when the A49 loop is closed and all riders are on the A41. At dawn the route moves on to repeated laps of Quina Brook before finally heading back north to start loops around Farndon.
After much deliberating I chose to use my Kinesis GF Ti road bike with clip on aero bars extended higher to provide comfort and a Swiss Side HADRON 800 rear wheel, it looked an odd set up but it’s an odd race and, although quite a few riders did, I wouldn’t be able to sit on a pure TT bike for 24hrs (not least because I don’t own one!).
I made most of my food, I make my own rice cakes and energy bars and took a selection of other bits and bobs, Prees Heath has a 24hr garage, a truckers cafe and a fish and chip shop so most of your bizarre mid ride cravings can be satisfied and the support crews are well catered for.
I’ve ridden for 24hrs a few times but always on my own and never in a race, I found myself signing up for it following a chat and a few beers with Robert Palmer from The Talbot in Settle, a veteran of Audax he told me about “The Mersey Roads” and it seemed a good idea, as most things do after a few ales…….
The weather on the start line was good and the forecast couldn’t have been better, I started well, the roads were busy although I soon grew to quite enjoy the HGVs going past, their draft giving you a gentle shove. I felt good through the afternoon, I’d planned on a 30 second food grab stop, as and when I needed it as I passed my support crew at Prees with longer stops planned at every 100 mile point. I’d decided to treat myself to a battered fish from the chippy after a 100 miles, there’s not many Time Trials where you can do this.(******
I attached my lights and carried on, I was averaging about 19-20 mph at this stage, I wasn’t wearing my HRM strap as I thought it would get uncomfortable and I was riding by feel anyway. The night section went well, eating a little and often and learning every inch of the A41. I found it easier not being able to see my Garmin, the race is all about the distance but you can’t focus on the numbers, they’re just too big and silly and if you start thinking about 400 miles when your Garmin is only showing 150 you’ll lose the will to live.
All went well till just after the half way point, I was at 215 miles at 12hrs so I was well on target for a 400+ but my stomach started playing up and I found it progressively harder to eat or drink, it’s a problem I’ve suffered from before so I took some tablets which ease the symptoms, unfortunately the lack of food led to a slowing of my pace and just before dawn I found myself in a near bonked state struggling to stay awake, I pulled over into a gateway and had some pretty strong words with myself before setting off again, as I got back to my support vehicle Tony had just cooked breakfast, a double espresso and a bacon butty went down and transformed me, even the voices in my head were happy after that. We were then on to the Quina Brook circuit which only took about 45 minutes a lap and was quite pleasant before we headed north, this road suited me with rolling hills and I was able to tap on quite happily before we dropped onto the finishing circuit. As one of the first starters I was going to be one of the first finishers which suited me as the final loop was awful, blistered roads and a long drag of a hill, after the first loop I was in bits but a can of coke and some motivational support from the crew spurred me on, the numbers ticked round agonizingly slowly, it seemed to take an age for the 23hr point to come round but eventually it did, after that it flew by. The 400 mile point came up and I powered on to eventually get an official distance of 402.49 miles, 26th overall.
A huge thanks to Tony Flanagan and Mick Waplington for supporting me, they were great and were so positive for the whole race, cheers guys!
Next year? I don’t know, I won’t say “never again” but there’s plenty of other daft things I’d like to have a shot at. Strava details of my ride are here. And yes, my bum did hurt!Author: Tony Booth