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Cycling

    Cycling

    Lets Ride Birmingham and cycling with Sir Chris Hoy

     

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    It is not often you can say you got to go cycling with one of Great Britain’s most successful Olympic athletes of all time!

    As part of Lets Ride, a fun, free, family-friendly cycling festival, which saw several key roads closed for most of the day, sponsors HSBC asked people what cycling meant to them.  It was a quick Facebook post and I didn’t think much of it until I got a notification asking me to email – low and behold I’d only gone and won!

    Winning meant I got to bring a plus one along and my first thought was my cycling buddy Rich who is responsible for making me cycle far further than I thought I could.  We also managed to wangle an invite for his daughter, and co-incidentally enough, when I went to meet them all three of us were wearing some sort of pink cycling attire…like a very odd band.

    Given the early start on a Sunday, I cycling into town to meet up with Rich and Lizzie, on what turned out to be a gloriously sunny day – the weather could not have been nicer. Though I did not have enough sun cream meant I was a little pinker than I’d have liked by the end of the day, by my cycling stripes on my arms are coming along nicely.

     

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    We headed off to Browns for a breakfast event where we heard speeches from British Cycling CEO Julie Harrington, Chris from HSBC – who are moving their UK HQ to Birmingham as soon as the building is finished, and then the main man himself, Sir Chris Hoy.  Once speeches had finished, it was time to collect our things and head off. What I didn’t realise was it meant that we would be at the start of the line to celebrate the opening of the event.  We did a lap round the course, which took in Calthorpe Park, a good chunk pf the Pershore Road – up to the cricket ground and several side roads in the city centre.  Afterwards we posed for some photos and I managed to get Sir Chris to do a quick video to Immy, who couldn’t be at the event but is one of the people who inspires me to cycle more.  I loved that my good fortune meant I could use it to say thank you to people who really deserve it.

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    I have cycled down the Pershore Road one when it was open, on a Bank Holiday Monday and it was quite clear that I was fast than I’d ever usually cycle.  Despite being quieter than normal, being on a main arterial road was stressful and for the most part the car drivers were kind to me.  Cycling around Belgrave Middleway, which I’ve watched brave cyclists do from the comfort of the bus, was even more terrifying and I’m not sure I have the guts to do it regularly.  But being able to cycle around it where the only other traffic was fellow cyclists was bliss, the sort of simple joy that makes your heart happy.  I did three loops in the end, stopping for an ice cream whilst watching some physics-defying mountain bike acrobatics.

    Afterwards, pink, sweaty and my soul nourished, I headed over to Impact Hub for some of the talks they were hosting as part of the Design Festival.  Mind, Body and Soul…it was one of those rare days when all three were happily contented.

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    This was my award-winning entry…

    What do I like about cycling? In the year, since I took up cycling I have fallen hopelessly for it. I’ve had some health problems over that time and I don’t ‘look’ like a typical cyclist, but cycling has given me a freedom and peace of mind that I didn’t possible. When I’m overwhelmed, getting out on my bike gives me time to clear my head and regain some focus. It’s taught me to love where I live and explore further. It’s allowed me to find an active way to travel to work which sets my day but so much better than an energy-draining wait in congestion-heavy traffic. It’s helped me re-connect with old friends, and make new ones. It’s helped build my self-worth and stopped me being so hard on myself, because I did it – I got up that hill, I cycled further than I thought I could. What do I like about cycling? What don’t I like about cycling might be an easier question to answer!

    Cycling

    Not quite fifty

    With a couple of days booked off work, the plan was to head out cycling with my friend Rich and chase that fifty mile trip that we were so close to last time.

    The weather clearly had other ideas.

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    Cycling

    Cycling to the cinema

    Photo by Carpathianland (via flickr)

    I’d planned to go on a longer cycle today, up to Waseley Hills to try that bloody hill and then off to Earlswood for some cake.  Instead, I slept for ten hours and realised I should probably listen to what my body has been trying to tell me all week and figured a bit of a relaxing day was in order.

    So I decided to go to the cinema…but then I realised that to get there on time by best option was to cycle. So I did.

    The journey itself is a cut short version of the one I do into work, so something I’m really familiar with and only about four miles.  Whilst usually I wear cycling gear, I went for a half and half approach this time with a base layer and jersey with rolled up jeans (they kept catching so I stopped and rolled them up), and my helmet and gloves.  Much as I admire the people that can look all casual cycling along on their bikes, I just get sweaty, even on journeys I’ve done loads of times before.

    I chained my bike up outside, which made me a bit nervous as it’s the first time I’ve left it anywhere that isn’t at work, home or somewhere I can see it.  But there were a few other bikes there, and I was chaining mine up whilst someone else was so that made me feel a bit less anxious.  I checked on it between films and all was fine.

    Getting home was a bit problematic as Birmingham city centre seems set up to dissuade cyclists – from the Market which has made New Street impassable, to the ‘cyclists please dismount’ sign along the path through the Paradise Birmingham and Centenary Square developments, and the cyclist dismount sign onto Corporation street and accessing New Street Station.  On a plus side, once I’d gotten my bike to the station a very helpful guard offered up a suggestion on where to take my bike so I could get it on the train home.

    Whilst I missed getting out on the bike for a few hours, and enjoying the autumnal sunshine (although still pretty chilly), I think a short cycle and an afternoon in the cinema was the right call.

    Birmingham, Cycling

    Cyclist at a red light #2

    For every time a motorist tries to tell me all cyclists go through red lights…

    Although I just took this photo on my way to work to show the cyclist waiting, I’ve realised it’s quite a nice photo of some nice sustainable methods of transport – walking, cycling and public transport.