27 January 2012

Pedtime story: Dogged by cycle-path gatecrashers

A cyclist was knocked off her bike following a collision with a man who was walking dogs on a cycle track in Cleethorpes, the Grimsby Telegraph informs us this morning.

The woman in question had enough time to ring her bell on three occasions, but evidently not enough time to brake, so we're a bit puzzled as to how the collision managed to occur at all. What dogs was he walking? Greyhounds?

But we're pleased to see that the traditional race in the 'Comments' added to any online article mentioning cyclists - to see who can be first to irrelevantly mention jumping red lights or road tax - was won on this occasion by one Lincs4ever, coming straight in at Comment No 2.

(I'm wondering who'll be the first to say that this incident shows that pedestrians should be licensed, and pay pavement tax, and be forced to have insurance, etc.)

If the chap involved had really wanted to use the cycle path to walk his mutts, he could have followed the example of the man in the picture (top right), snapped last Sunday on the cycle track around Rutland Water.

He was 'walking' his hound on a bike with a ferocious tailwind, meaning he didn't even have to pedal: dog exercising the lazy man's way.

Or, of course, busy woman's (right).

25 January 2012

Tranche Touring: Barmouth to Yarmouth

I've just got back from a week cycling from Barmouth to Yarmouth. I've done two End to Ends - Land's End to John o'Groats, and Cape Wrath to Dover - so this time I did a Side to Side.

My route - about 350 miles, across the middle of Wales and England - took in mountains and fens, countless pleasant villages and towns, and rather a lot of Wetherspoons.

For instance, Bwlch y Groes (top right) is Wales's highest road, at 545m. The name comes from the noise you make at the top.

Out east, things are more two-dimensional. This (right) is near Spalding.

In between are many showcase cycle facilities, such as this wide, well-paved cycle track (right) offering a safe alternative to the busy road east out of Stafford town centre.

There are more details on my Barmouth to Yarmouth, Poole to Goole blog, but this is a quick recommendation for Tranche Touring.

The 'tranche' is the block-release, at certain times through the year, of cheap hotel rooms (£12 for one or two people!) from chains such as Travelodge or Premier Inn.

You can find details of when the tranches are released from sites such as Money Saving Expert.com.

Book in advance when the tranches are released and you can set up a bike tour very cheaply, and with the pleasant prospect of a bath and comfy private room after you've been rained on for six hours.

On the B-Y trip, my five hotel stays all came at £12 or £15 each - cheaper than a dorm bed in a hostel.

Travelodge also seem perfectly happy for you to take your bike into the room with you (above right). My tourer has more loyalty points than me.

15 January 2012

Half time: Green light for unicycles

We were intrigued by this traffic light on the Malton Road, on the northeast edge of York.

It's one of those curious places with a permanent green cycle signal, enabling cyclists to go through the left-hand bike channel whatever the main signal is showing.

Except the signal seems to be for the rear half of the bike only. A unicycle? A child's tagalong?

Somehow, cycle facilites in Britain always end up half-measures.

07 January 2012

Floody hell: York cyclists under water

The stormy weather through the week flooded the Ouse in the centre of York.

High water here is nothing unusual. Indeed, the King's Arms by Ouse Bridge is regularly inundated: a floodometer inside shows levels over the years, the highest of modern times being in 2000. (Because its cellars tend to turn into fish tanks during much of winter, it only sells keg beer.)

Nevertheless, the quick rise of water on Friday morning caught a few people on the hop.

Quite literally, when they found the riverside cycle track by Scarborough Bridge was a foot deeper than they anticipated.

Anyone following the cycle route signs from here to Beningborough along NCN65 would be in trouble. It's hard to pedal in flippers.

York being a real cycling city, nobody queries if you aren't wearing a helmet. In this weather, though, they might raise an eyebrow if you're cycling without a snorkel.

04 January 2012

Sloping off: York's uphill downhill

York's a pretty flat place - it's said that from the top of the Minster in fine weather, you can see at least eight hen parties - but it does manage to have among its modest slopes a Gravity Hill (right).

In other words, an optical illusion that fools the eye into thinking a downhill is uphill and vice-versa. I blogged about Britain's most famous example, 'Electric Brae' in Ayrshire, last year.

York's own magnetic scarp is on Water End, part of the newly-signed 'orbital cycle route' that circumscribes the city. It's at about 9 o'clock on the orbital, at the junction with Boroughbridge Road in Acomb.

The cyclist in the picture looks like she's going uphill, but in fact she can freewheel: looking away fron the camera the cycle track goes downhill, all the way to the where it joins the road at the top left.

Not that any of York's gradients mattered in yesterday's ferociously high winds. Whatever the local topography, you ended up going north-east, with the gale.