Archives for category: News and Events

Yesterday, I took part in my first Sky Ride Local led ride, which was awesome. What wasn’t so awesome was the stress involved in buying a bike rack for the car, finding out how to install and use the bike rack, and tracking down a false cross bar for my Trek Allant WSD to get it onto the bike rack. We ended up spending a lot more on it than we intended, and then spent the entire journey watching the bikes bounce perilously up and down in the window. And we wound up late (thanks to having to take a last minute trip to town to get said crossbar when my local cycle shop’s offering turned out to be totally unsuitable), which stresses me out more than anything…

Winsor by Compass

This is the route we took, and the ride was called ‘Winsor by Compass’. It was a 14.3 mile course called ‘Ride Steady’, which is a long, yet relaxed, trip.

This was our leader, explaining a bit about the journey and giving us some basic safety rules. Basically, it boiled down to: pay attention!

This is Rachel, kitted out with her Sky Ride tabbard. Her mountain bike had the distinction of having the fattest tyres in the group. There was a real mix of bikes there, from Dutch style bikes (complete with a pink wire basket, which I think you can see above in the group shot!) to racing and mountain bikes.

This is Omar – he bought his bike through the Cycle to Work scheme – something I’d love to do but is not really happening when you work from home!

We travelled on the Test Way for part of the trip. Coming to this from a bit of a walking background I always find it amazing how much ground you can cover on a bike compared to walking. Obvious, I know, but the pace is so much faster and you just get to see so much more! On the other hand, on a trip like this, you don’t get much of a chance to take photos or stop and look at the scenery. Mind you, considering these organised rides are completely free, I’m more than happy to forgo taking endless snaps on my phone!

Most of the ride was along pavement or roads, but we did have a section that was pretty rocky and covered in sharp stones. Someone ended up getting a puncture, which was pretty scary, to be honest! Luckily they had equipment to fix it with them, but I didn’t have anything, so I spent the rest of the stretch worrying about what would happen if I got a puncture too… I really need to get a repair kit!

This was far more typical of the sort of road surface we were traveling on – my bike likes this better, and so do I!

As you can see, I’m still wearing my blue helmet – I haven’t got a replacement for it yet (news on that later, I hope!). The good thing about it is that it is very breezy and doesn’t make my head get all sweaty!

Also, my bike computer decided to stop working yesterday too, which is pretty irritating considering how new it is. I’ll have to take it back to the shop and see if there’s something that can be done about it… In other news, I have a new bag (which you can still buy in the sale here, if you’re interested!). I totally wouldn’t have had a new bag if the bike rack purchase had happened first…

So. my first led Sky Ride Local was a blast, and I can’t wait for Sunday for the next one, which is in Itchen!

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You may remember me posting about the Big Bike Celebration in Southampton at the end of June. Luckily, my bike arrived just in time for me to be able to attend with my friends Rachel and Lorraine, and we had a great day at Weston Shore!

There was plenty to see and do, including a chance to go on some more unusual bicycles, plus plenty of led rides – more on that in another post!

There were loads of stalls, too, and although there weren’t as many selling things as I expected, the Sustrans stall was brilliant, and the guys working there were amazing. They had loads of great maps and information leaflets, and I came away armed with a bagful to go over in the weeks ahead!

This was by far the weirdest contraption I’ve ever seen – a bicycle powered by several people which went up and down the central pathway seemingly all day. I didn’t get a go on it, but it looked like fun!

Even the mayor turned up – he doesn’t look that happy here but I’m sure he was having a good time…

The weather was pretty good – warm but not too hot. As you can see from Lorraine’s picture, above, we did come prepared with coats, but ended up not needing them!

…Although, occasionally the sea breeze got a little bit nippy…

All in all, it was a great first outing for my bike, which proved incredibly comfortable – so much so that my friends are now lusting after a comfy saddle like mine! I have to say, the Allant really is a very comfy bike to sit on.

But obviously, it has its limitations, so you won’t be seeing any stunts like this from me in the near future… (Or ever…)

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It’s a very exciting time to be into cycling in the south – even if you didn’t decide to get your knickers off for the Naked Bike Ride today, you can still join in the fun on Saturday 25 June at Weston Shore for an amazing variety of bike-related events. And, you not only get to wear your clothes, but I’m pretty sure everyone else will be wearing theirs, too.

I spoke to Thea Bjaaland, active travel project co-ordinator in Southampton, about the event, and she helpfully gave me these flyers to share with you. She also told me that last year, this event attracted 2000 people – amazing! There are some great activities planned, including some led bike rides which look like fun – I hope to get a place on one of these (they’re first come, first served – and you don’t even need to have your own bike, as bike and helmet hire for these are free!).There will be food stalls as well, and Thea promised ice-cream, which should be enough to entice anyone to attend. A variety of organisations will be present, including Sustrans, Southampton City Council, Solent NHS Trust, Southampton Cycling Campaign, Transition Southampton, Active Nation and the Veteran Cycle Club. We’re pretty lucky to have so many organisations working together on an event like this.

The event takes place between 11 and 4 on the Saturday, near the Pitch and Putt. There’s parking available, but I reckon you should come on your bikes – right?

My thanks go to Thea for her help in gathering this information!

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Riders assemble for a ride organised by the Lo...

Image via Wikipedia

Although I pretty much missed most of it, it was fun to take part, even in a limited fashion, in the Southampton Cycle Challenge – a month long celebration of cycling in my home town. The idea was that you log your journeys made by bike and are then automatically entered into a prize draw to win all kinds of goodies. Thanks to my trip to Hythe, which I logged, I won a cinema ticket, and a friend of mine won a snazzy red cycling jacket, which was pretty good! You could also compete as companies, and the companies that cycled the most in the month long period got some prizes as well.

Just because the cycle challenge is over for the time being, doesn’t mean that there’s nothing going on for cyclists around these parts. Obviously we have the Naked Cycle Ride on Friday, but the Southampton Cycle Challenge also has a handy list of events here which form part of a ‘Cycling Festival 2011’. I know that in the US, May is National Bike Month, but in the UK, we have National Bike Week, from June 18-26.

There are loads of biking community workshops, events and fundraisers listed on the page, so hopefully you’ll be able to find something that interests you!

World Naked Bike Ride - Albany, NY - 10, Jun - 01

Image by sebastien.b via Flickr

Last week, I received a very peculiar invitation from an old friend. Although I don’t have a bike (yet), I have been going ON and ON about cycling for weeks to anyone who will listen, and so naturally people realise now that the only way to communicate with me is on my level, i.e., talking about bikes. For this one friend, the World Naked Bike Ride combined an interest of his with one of mine – the perfect combination, you might say…

So, it turns out that last year, Southampton played host to a World Naked Bike Ride, and everyone liked it so much that they thought they’d have another one – and it takes place on Friday (10th June, 2011). There’s even one organised in nearby Portsmouth, although there’s also a petition being signed to try to prevent it from happening as well. It turns out that these bike rides have been happening here since 2007 – AND I NEVER EVEN KNEW. You learn something new every day.

As I have no bike, I’m going to have to politely decline the opportunity to cycle around the city in my birthday suit this Friday – but what about you? Anyone planning to join in the naked bike ride on Friday?

World Naked Bike Ride, Southampton, 10 June. Visit the site here.

skyride 2010 - press shoot

Image by StuartWebster via Flickr

If you live in the Southampton area, and you fancy joining in with the very excellent SkyRide this year, make sure you register in advance by going to GoSkyRide.com and signing up. It’s totally free, but you need to make sure you have registered for safety reasons, so that the organisers know how many people are turning up, and can plan accordingly. You will also be issued with a fluorescent yellow safety vest, which you have to wear when cycling on the route.

The event takes place on Sunday 14 August, and starts at 10 am (although last year, I arrived a bit later than that and it wasn’t a problem). If you’re busy on that day but still local to the area, check the link above for some smaller organised rides (also free) which are taking place between now and the end of August. And, if you’re not from round these here parts, you can still be involved in the City SkyRides – check here for more details of your nearest event.