A little leaf clearing …

The forecast for this morning was pretty dire – but that didn’t stop Cycling Dumfries members and supporters from turning out at the station at 10am today to help clear the buildup of leaves that was threatening to overwhelm the station path.

getting started
Getting going. Apologies for the quality of the photograph, but it was a dark November morning and the camera struggled with the lack of light

In fact, we were so keen to get going so the work actually started early!

more clearing

With 8 helpers and a nice assortment of rakes, shovels, brushes and brooms, we were able to make a nice job of it and it was clear that, under the encroaching vegetation, the path was actually quite a bit wider than you might think.

making a difference
It’s very satisfying to make a visible difference after a couple of hours hard work

Quite a few passers-by and dog walkers complimented us on the job we were doing, which was appreciated! Sometimes this path can be a bit problematic, especially if you’re in a hurry for a train, so it was nice to see how much space there actually is, once the path’s been properly cleared.

It being Remembrance Sunday, and the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, we paused at 11 am to observe the two minute’s silence and hear Rhian read a poem from that war – Falling Leaves – that seemed suitable to mark the occasion.

As well as being slippery, wet leaves can be heavy work, so we decided to call it a day after about two hours, with the path much improved along its whole length (although the edges could still be cleared back at the Edinburgh Road end).

path afterwards

All in all, a job worth doing and a job well done. Thanks to everyone who turned out in the rain to help!group photo



Can you help? Leaf clearing Sunday 11th November

Can you join us on Sunday 11th November (from 10am) for a little DIY path clearing action?

Castledykes after
Clearer paths mean there’s room for everyone

Winter isn’t just coming – it seems like it’s already here, and as ever, there are still leaves on the paths around our cycling and walking network. Wet and frozen leaves are pretty slippy things so – given the continued lack of gritting on most of the off road paths – clearing them away helps keep cyclists and walkers safe (and also makes more room on our shared paths for everyone).

Every year we report issues with slippery paths and encroaching vegetation, but we’re also happy to take matters into our own hands if it helps!  That’s why we’re planning another leaf clearing day of action after the success of our last one last year.

If you can help, join us from 10am on Sunday 11th November at the station, ready to tackle the station path and beyond. If there are any paths you use which are particularly bad, let us know so we can prioritise our efforts. We will observe the traditional 2 minute silence at 11, or if you’re attending a Remembrance Day service, you may join us later.

Join us and Buddies on a Halloween Spooktacular

For families (or those who are still big kids at heart …) we have a Halloween treat in store for you on Wednesday 24th October

Buddies Halloween Ride poster

Join our buddies Buddies for an afternoon of Halloween thrills and chills. Starting at 2:30 with face painting fun at the Buddies Bike Barn (on Friars Vennel), we’ll then be taking a ride out at 4 for Dock Park – all along cycle paths so no fear of the traffic…

… There might be other things to fear though! By special appointment a few ghoulies and ghosties might well be waiting in the park, so if you’re of a nervous disposition be warned!

This is a family friendly ride, but children must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Bring your own bikes, or contact Buddies beforehand if you need to rent one of theirs – they have a range of options, including just standard bikes.

A note: although Buddies is an organisation for adults with learning difficulties, and the Bike Barn offers accessible and inclusive cycles for those who need a little extra help to get cycling, the members are very keen to share this event  (and the Bike Barn) with the whole community, so please do come along!

Meetings, Meetings

Just a quick reminder (for those who don’t keep an eye on our little sidebar thingy) that we will have our last scheduled monthly meeting of the year on Monday – 6pm at the Riverside Bar, Dock Park.

And a reminder of our AGM – for all new, old, lapsed and wannabe members on Saturday 20th October. We’ll be at Buddies’ Biker Barn at the Vennel from 3pm for anyone who wants to learn more about this fabulous new facility for cycling in Dumfries – and the meeting proper starts at 4. Tea, coffee and – inevitably – home baking will be provided.

Autumn fun: Halloween rides and AGM …

It’s October and as we wind down from summer and get ready for our autumn and winter programme, it’s time to take stock of the year we’ve had and look forward to the year to come.

We invite all members (or those who want to join us) to attend our AGM on Saturday 20th October, at 4pm at Buddies Bike Barn on Friar’s Vennel. If you come along early (from 3pm) there will be a chance to try out some of the adapted and accessible bikes that Buddies have on offer. These are great fun regardless of your cycling needs so do pop along and have a go.

buddies bikes

There will be more details to follow – but this is also advance notice of not one but two Halloween rides.  Our traditional Halloween After-Dark Ride will be celebrating the clocks going back in our usual fashion with a ride on the Sunday the clocks go back to laugh in the face of the long winter lights. Join us on Sunday 28th October for with 26 spooky miles out under the (hopefully) stars around the Glenkiln Reservoir and back through Speddoch. Lights (and warm clothes!) essential.

For those with littler legs, we’ll be joining forces with Buddies for a pre-Halloween fancy dress ride in Dock Park on Wednesday 24th October. More details to follow but there will be face painting beforehand – and a very high probability of seeing some ghoulies and ghosties on the ride itself…


night group shot
Who knows what you might encounter …

Braving showers on our Big Bike Breakfast

parking at the bike breakfast

It’s fair to say we haven’t had a great September weatherwise, so we were worried that it might put a dampener on this year’s bike breakfast But even as trees downed by Storm Ali were still littering some of the cycle paths, we still saw a record turnout for our first breakfast on the Whitesands this morning – and a mid-breakfast shower did nothing to cool anyone’s enthusiasm (especially when there were bacon rolls to be had).

tomato ketchup and bacon rolls
Pupils from St Michael’s getting down to the serious business of their bacon rolls

This year we were partnering with local businesses and organisations to hold the event on the Whitesands, which is right on the main commuting route into town, so our thanks go to the Coach and Horses for providing the space and the Dumfries Ice Cream Parlour and Coffee Bar for keeping up a steady supply of bacon rolls for our hungry guests. The Visit Scotland Tourist Information Office opened their doors early to provide overflow bike parking – which was very welcome when a contingent of 23 pupils and 5 teachers and helpers from St. Michael’s showed up on their bikes.

It was good too to have the Dumfries Cycle Cops along (even though, sadly, they had to go and answer a call just as their bacon rolls arrived).

map of issues in the town
Identifying problems and gaps in the network on our ‘gap map’

The council were also there asking people to identify gaps in the network and other barriers to active travel as part of their street audit (watch this space for more information) – people weren’t shy at coming forward with suggestions for how things could be improved and there were lots of good conversations being held if the buzz in the air was anything to go by.

MSP Colin Smyth
MSP Colin Smyth

It was nice to have Colin Smyth MSP and his daughter show up (our youngest participant and still on her stabilisers!) – we always appreciate it when local politicians come along to talk to our members and other cyclists and we hope they get a good insight into how they can make it easier to walk and cycle around the area, whether they’re councillors or MSPs.

chatting at the bike breakfast

It was interesting to see the spread of people who cycle to work, school or leisure in Dumfries – as well as the St Michael’s kids, there were three other cycling families, and also a good mix of men and women, and young and old.

St Michael's Pupils
St Michael’s pupils setting off to class

All in all another successful event – thank you to everyone who made the detour to come along

Second Cake Raid a Success!

We weren’t entirely sure who would join us on Saturday on our second annual cake raid – but in the end eight hungry cyclists were prepared to risk the chance of rain and join us for a 40-mile round trip to Penpont for the fabled church tea.

heading out

Having gathered at the Whitesands, we set off for the Irongray Road by way of the Maxwelltown path and Hardthorn Road, picking up our eighth rider at the Routin Brig where the sun came out for our first group photo (apologies for the quality of the shot!).

Group photo at Routin Brig

From there, we rode out to Milton and then turned right to swing around the back of Dunscore and onto the back road to Moniaive, before joining the Clone Road to Penpont. Although this is an A-road, it was not busy and in fact the few drivers we encountered mostly passed us with courtesy so it was a pleasant and quite quick ride – the thought of the waiting lunch was clearly spurring participants on.

In the end, the rain caught us just as we were coming into the outskirts of Penpont so we were glad to see the signs leading us to the church hall and the welcome that awaited us.  As a special treat, the lunch was themed around pancakes with both sweet and savoury options – all of them pretty delicious, as you could tell from  the silence that fell on the group as we tucked into the food.

scones and scotch pancakes

The church teas didn’t stop there though – there were also scones and two further kinds of pancakes, as well as the wonderful cake trolley and of course tea and coffee. Everything was home made (and much of it home grown) and all in all we would highly recommend it.

cake trolley

It was a very well fed group of cyclists who waddled out of the church hall ready to tackle the 20 miles or so back to Dumfries.

group leaving the church tea

Even a renewed shower couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm, although the pace was noticeably slower on the return route, which took us through Keir Mill, Glen Midge and Dunscore before dropping back down the the Irongray Road and back into Dumfries.

If all this has whetted your appetite, don’t forget that it’s our bike breakfast on Friday – join us on your bike at the Whitesands between 7 and 9am outside the Coach and Horses for a free hot roll and tea or coffee – we can’t quite compete with the Penpont Church Teas, but it should be a good start to the day!