Women Who Ride

Following on from our borough insert feature, Anita tells us what cycling means to her.

I have been cycling since I was seven, using my bike to get to school both at primary and secondary.  I have been a London cyclist off and on for the last 25 years.  When my son Merlin was born I was keen to be able to cycle with him as soon as possible.  He was on the back of the bike in a child seat as a baby and used to love the cycle rides for sleeping.  He started with a balance bike and has been on his own bike since he was 4, sometimes with a tow bar in the early days and now cycles to secondary school as well as weekend and evening rides with me.  It is important to me that he is a confident cyclist and feels safe as well as being active and in the outdoors.  We have been on cycling expeditions up the Lee Valley and to Debden House for camping on our own and with Newham Woodcraft Folk.

When I took on my current job it involved a lot of changes and one of those was committing to becoming a daily cyclist as it was the only way I could fit everything in with both work and childcare and also saved me the cost of the annual travel card I used to need before.  I work as a Baby Feeding Specialist for Barts Health in Tower Hamlets, cycling for work involves more than just commuting as I am not only cycling to work but around during the day to visit clients, move between work places, attend meetings and trainings.  Cycling is the most efficient way to get around, when I work with students who are not cyclists I usually give them a 15 minute head start on public transport and usually still arrive ahead of them.  I use the Cycle Super Highways but also the canal and riverside paths.

I cycle in all weathers.  Wearing specialist cycling clothing and shoes isn’t really an option as I can’t change easily every time I visit clients in their own homes so I have had to come up with a work wardrobe for cycling which can take me from my bike to a hospital ward, meeting or client’s home.  I’m not cycling fast aiming to get a best time on the commute but aiming to arrive in good time without breaking out in a sweat!  Knee length skirts and dresses that are not too wide nor too narrow are great as they keep clear of the chain and wheels and dry quickly if caught in the rain!  Long leather boots are good in winter and can be wiped down after a muddy cycle along Limehouse Cut!

I am a keen Geocacher (www.geocaching.com) and go out on cycle rides after work seeking out hidden containers around London or attending events.  This has taken me further afield by bike than ever before and using google maps to find cycling routes to geocaches has expanded my cycling knowledge, fitness and confidence in London taking me on routes I never knew about.  I also combine train and bike for longer journeys.

I am now trained as a Ride Marshal and Ride Leader with London Cycling Campaign and hope to be able to encourage more women to gain confidence in cycling.

Brewery Ride

We had asked riders to book into this ride as it has been very popular in the past. However, several booking were either cancelled or were simply ‘no shows and we numbered just 9 riders, including two who had not booked. This was however a good number for the ride as we had two marshals, Ken and Robin, and were able maintain a tight group for the ride.

The weather was cool by dry and despite some traffic around Blackhorse Road and Hackney Central we were able to make good use of the Waltham Forest cycling infrastructure, the river Lea towpath and the Hackney Parks.

We managed three stops, namely, Wild Card, People’s tavern (Laines) and Truman’s, taking the traditional route in reverse. We had planned to stop at Redchurch, but the shutters were down and there was no sign of life. Other notable changes, Pressure Drop are moving from their current location in Hackney Central, to the same industrial estate as Beavertown currently occupies. Forest Road had a lively taproom, worth a stop on a future ride. Three Sods and the Bethnal Green Working Man’s Club were also not open.

The ride continues to evolve and there are still more brewery’s to visit than we have time available on an afternoon ride, but it is fun to try, and also to experiment with different stops

Click on the photo below to be taken to Robin’s pictures of the day – & the link to see the ‘live’ route.  Thank you Robin!

https://www.relive.cc/view/1186780708

Steve riding RideLondon 100

As some of you know, our ride leader Steve is riding the RideLondon 100 this year for AAA.  Please sponsor him if you can.  We are building a relationship with AAA, supporting their weekend cycle club, so this is a cause that we are very happy to promote!

From Steve:

I’m am riding 100 miles for a very worthy local cause; to help young people in need and promote cycling.
Can you help us raise money for the Ambition, Aspire, Achieve Cycling Hub for disadvantaged and disabled children and young people?
Please donate to their JustGiving Crowdfunding Page:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/AAALondon100?utm_id=1&utm_term=AKXN9byDN

Thanks for your support

No lycra required!

With our first official ‘Women’s Ride’ coming up, we’ve been chatting about the things that put women off getting on their bikes.  There are many things – and the next issue of London Cyclist magazine will have a feature on this.

It’s pretty obvious that infrastructure – or lack of it – is a huge factor, but it’s more than that.  Some women feel threatened by having to share a cycle lane with more confident, faster cyclists, others are concerned about the safety aspect of using quieter routes through parks and along towpaths.

Some are just put off by the clothing!!

The infrastructure and safety aspects are harder to tackle quickly – but the clothing one is not.  It is perfectly possibly to ride a bike in your normal clothes!  If you’re just doing a short journey, it’s really easy – you’re not likely to get too hot and sweaty and saddle comfort isn’t really an issue.  If you’re doing longer rides – commuting or travelling around for work – and are worried about comfort, it’s not much harder.  There are some great brands out there who have started to think about simple things like nice light floaty tops that don’t make you all sweaty and shorts or trousers that are cut so that there are no seams where you don’t want them.  There are also some very stylish padded knickers out there – one particular brand you would hardly know they were padded to look at them.

One of our members and regular marshals (soon to be ride leader too) rides miles around Tower Hamlets every day in her job as a breast feeding specialist.  Wearing a helmet & sometimes gloves is her only concession to the fact that she’s on a bike.  In fact when I bumped in to her earlier this week, she looked positively glamorous in her summer dress and heels!

Our ride later this month will very much be embracing the social and relaxed aspect of cycling – wear whatever you will be comfortable and feel yourself in.

Don’t forget, if your bike needs a bit of TLC ahead of the ride, we’ll be at the Forest Gate Festival on the 15th – bring your bike along and learn how to do the basics (fixing a puncture etc).  If you’ve got a friend who would like to come on the ride but doesn’t have a bike – they’ll be able to hire one from our lovely friend (and Newham Cyclist member) Nigel at View Tube Bikes.

TfL & Mayor of London’s Strategic Cycling Analysis

This is a fairly substantial, but hugely important document.  The committee will be reviewing it, but there is some big stuff in here and it would be good to get thoughts from as many people as possible.  It’s also worth reading Simon Munk’s (LCC’s infrastructure guru and Waltham Forest campaigner) blog which gives a good summary.

strategic-cycling-analysis

A Celebration of Cycling

On Sunday morning, thanks to the nomination I received from the group, I got to ride in a celebration of Women’s Cycling, on closed roads in central London as part of the events preceding The Women’s Tour.

It was a short ride but the women taking part were all there because of the part they play in inspiring other women to ride – whether by providing training, or leading rides, or campaigning to make the city a place where women feel safe to cycle with their children.  Some of the other LCC local groups were represented as was LCC HQ. There were bikes of all shapes and sizes – cargo bikes, side by sides,  an elliptical bike and even a penny farthing!

Both the Mayor of London and his walking & cycling commissioner, Will Norman, were there to wave us off as we rode out on part of the route that was ridden much faster later in the day by the elite women in the final stage of the Tour; along Piccadilly, Regents Street, Haymarket and around Trafalgar Square, before finishing on Pall Mall.

 

Update on tomorrow’s ride

From Robin:

Did a trial run from Ramsgate to Canterbury yesterday (it was very nice) and have slightly updated the route & tried to remember any notable features/hazards:

SRA ticket office opens at 09:00, we should be at the front of the queue with cash in hand! Very slow lift will only take 2 bikes down at a time, and there are a lot of stairs. Train departs 09:16, arrives 10:27.

From RAM station ~10:45, dip down to the seafront; a couple of sections here might be rather busy, but I don’t see much of an alternative and it’s not far. WC on the seafront before we climb back up on the shared path to the clifftop. We then follow an off-road path along the coast to Sandwich, passing the Viking ship (WC) and then skirting the Pfizer industrial estate. A quick go around the surprisingly picturesque Sandwich one-way system (WC), and then out into the countryside; relatively quiet roads should let us hear the skylarks. No hills in the first 2/3 of the distance, but don’t get complacent.

A brief diversion to the Mermaid pub in Bishopsbourne for lunch. I guess we will be there approx. 13:00-13:30. They have a couple of tables out the front, but more in the sun-trap garden at the back. Terrible phone reception here for some reason. Don’t know how busy it will be, but we should be able at the very least to get a beer / orange & soda with a packet of crisps. The menu is on their website http://www.mermaidinnbishopsbourne.co.uk/. If on offer, would be best not to have a full Sunday lunch with pudding, because after the pub ~14:30 are… the Duck pub, where we won’t be stopping, unless WC, Ian Fleming’s house, and…

…a couple of hills, both up and down; none are Mont Ventoux, but it would be sensible to check that both gears and brakes are functioning well beforehand. One section has grass up the middle and is adorned with some flint pebbles, and bonus potholes, but manageable on all bikes. Reward of the hills is a lovely long run back into Canterbury, with a view of the Cathedral in the distance.

We do have to cross a couple of big roads on the route, but the nastiest bit is probably the last few hundred metres into Canterbury including large roundabout.

I’ve ended at another Shepherd Neame pub in Canterbury, the Millers Arms ETA ~16:00, to refresh before heading to CBW and the ~1 hr train back to SRA. Trains: 14:43* / 15:25 / 15:43* / 16:25 / 16:43* / 17:25 etc (trains marked * require change at Ashford and take 15 mins longer). Could easily go straight to the station if the times don’t match up nicely.

Route is here, for some reason it comes up as 50km, but it’s really ~40km / 30miles: http://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=kntddwmavaesqwvh

 

Bike stall success

We had a great day on Saturday at Woodgrange Market, helping a number of people of all ages and from all backgrounds get their bikes back on the road. One of our favourite visitors was Jan who had not ridden her bike for 4 years and wanted to get back on it.  She had a lovely dutch Gazelle bike which had a flat tyre & needed some general TLC.  We helped her replace the inner tube & get the wheel back on her bike.  She was spotted riding around Forest Gate the next day!

Our aim is to teach as many people as possible – especially women – to deal with basic problems, in particular fixing a puncture!

A few weeks ago, Woman’s Hour had a whole feature on cycling including this great video with Jenni from London Bike Kitchen which does just that, with some great tips & tricks!

Our next stall is on Saturday 10th June – see you there!