16 February 2009

Training session in York

York, this is York. Please ensure you have all of your belongings with you when you leave the train.

What, all of my belongings? There’s racks of CDs in our house, and boxes of stuff up in my mum’s attic...

But today I was in York for work, so I just had to check out the station’s cycle parking (right). It puts the London termini to shame: Sheffield stand after Sheffield stand, as far as the eye can see.

The station also boasts this historic tilework map (right: click on it to see it in detail) of the rail network of north-east England as it was in the olden days, circa 1900.

You could get everywhere in East Yorkshire by train; most of it was uprooted in the Beeching era, and quite a few of them are now railtrails (Hull to Hornsea, part of the Trans Pennine Trail; and the wonderful Scarborough to Whitby, one of the country’s most underrated).

There's a discreet notice on the map warning you it might not necessarily reflect the sparse coverage of today, just in case anyone turns up thinking they can get to Withernsea without facing a very long ride into a cold easterly.
And finally... thanks to Northern Rail for opening up the bike closets (right) in their two-carriage trundlers, such as those plying the Hull-York backwaters. Previously, the space you see was closed up. Getting a bike in - especially one with handlebars the size of the antlers on a Highland manor's trophy head, like mine - was as cumbersome as trying to get a bike with handlebars the size of the antlers on a Highland manor's trophy head into the bike space on a Northern Rail train.

And finally and ultimately... hooray for National Express East Coast, whose website makes it easy to book not only your ticket, but also your bike reservation: all you have to do is tick a box.

Except of course it books you into Coach B, quarter of a mile away from your bike at the other end of the train. Not the most convenient situation when you get to Doncaster with only 30 seconds to sprint down to your bike. I couldn't run a four-minute mile, even with a considerable shortcut.


  1. When I last took my bike with NXEC I hopped into First Class, picked up my free newspaper, and then proceeded eight coaches back to my seat in, probably, Coach B....

  2. My train up on Saturday morning was jam packed, so I had to use my reserved seat in coach B. But I also knew that my change at York would only give me 30 seconds to get to the bike. So I started making my way back in good time.

    But the train was even fuller now, having ingested the contents of some other service which had been cancelled or been abducted by aliens or something. So getting back the length of the train, along corridors packed with families evidently emigrating with all their possessions, schlepping two panniers, was a bit of an adventure.

    Still, if they ever bring back It's a Knockout, I'll be able to play my joker on the Vestibule Assault Course round.

  3. and bonus points for getting through the restaurant/first class section (about three carriages in all), with plump non-cycling busnessmen standing in the corridot putting their suit jackets on slowly and unable to understand why this lout with a pannier wanted to get past....