Author Archives: sallyhinchcliffe

Could you go car free? Would a free breakfast help?

Friday 22nd September is World Car Free Day and we’ll be kicking it off by holding our annual Bike Breakfast at the Council HQ in English Street.

Whether you already cycle regularly or not, why not take the opportunity to hop on your bike – and swing by for a free hot roll and drink on your way to work, school or college?

We would love to see a Dumfries which is less dependent on cars not just on one day of the year but every day – but that its going to take time and a lot of investment in alternatives such as more bike paths and better public transport.

However, for one day only, at least we might manage a few less cars on the roads – and a few more bacon rolls and happy well-fed cyclists.

tandem trike

Come along – and bring a friend 

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Lucky for some on our penultimate summer ride

The Heathhall Forest ride is always a popular one, and this year was no exception, with thirteen of us turning out for a spin up the Caledonian Cycle Path and on into Heathhall Forest and the dirt track. We met at the end of the Whitesands as it was YouthBeatz in Dock Park (and we were happy to see that the pedestrian crossing lights have finally been repaired).

Pausing only to rescue an errant frog from the cycle track, we reached the forest in good time – and then the real business of the day started: finding out who could go fastest around the track.

trying the track

Setting off determined to beat her brother round the course …

This was by no means confined to the kids present either  – as our tail-ender Richard proved that it is amazing what you can do with a folding bike.

track trials

Richard putting his folder through its paces

The determination among some of the more competitive members of the group meant that several rounds of the track had to be completed before we were able to gather everyone in one place for the traditional group shot.

group photo

Fortunately, there were enough brownies to provide the energy for the ride back. Indeed, the short term sugar boost was enough that we were hard pressed to keep up with the kids on the ride back. It’s amazing how far you can go on a chocolate brownie…

Next weekend is our last summer ride, the traditional Mabie Forest expedition which is our longest and most challenging route. But once that’s over that won’t be all as we are already planning our September Bike Breakfast – and a few other chances for cyclists large and small to get out and about on two wheels. Watch this space.

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Rain, what rain?

group photo at the start

Ready for the off!

10 intrepid riders gathered at Devorgilla Bridge yesterday, raring for the ride to Durisdeer, and hoping that the forecast for rain for the next few hours was unduly pessimistic on the part of the Met Office.

Needless to say, for once the forecast was bang on, and the less said about the rain the better (if only because every time someone said ‘well at least it’s not raining too hard’ it got wetter).

climbing up to Ae

Still cheery in the rain

That said, we were a cheery, if damp bunch, enduring both the sort of weather you only get in the height of a Scottish summer – but also the scenery, and the wonderful mostly empty roads that make cycling around here such a pleasure.


The scenery is always worth it …

The rain (and the resulting chill) was too much in the end for one rider, who sensibly opted for a hot bath instead, but nine made it as far as the church in Durisdeer, where we were very pleased for a chance to sit down, dry off, and make the most of the teas (and extra glad that we beat the minibus to it, so didn’t end up having to queue).

durisdeer tea

Enough cake for you? Not a crumb was left though, we’d certainly earned it…

At that point, our youngest participant bailed out, having not quite dressed for the weather, and got a lift home, but we were happy to be guided home by Tom Hanley of the CTC D&G group who had also ridden out with a small group for tea.

at tea at tea

All in all, it was a good ride, but it would have been better without the rain! As one participant suggested, ‘next time, let’s do it in the summer when the weather is better …’

As soon as we find out when that will be, we definitely will.

Thank you to the good people of Durisdeer for not minding being descended on by a dozen sodden cyclists!

More photos via John Henry on Instagram

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Whirlygigs and hill climbs!

Despite a forecast of showers this afternoon, we actually had some nice sunny weather for our sixth ride – a jaunt up the Glen, to see how far up the hill some little legs could manage. With some stalwarts on holiday and the rival attractions of the Dumfries show, six of us showed up this time around


We had no bubble machine on our ride this Saturday – but we did have a whirlygig that Richard had picked up at the Dumfries Show

After negotiating the crossing at Dock Park (never that great at the best of times, the pedestrian light now doesn’t come on at all, so we had to cross against the lights. We’ve reported this twice now so hopefully it will get fixed before YouthBeatz), we had a pleasant ride down the Whitesands, and all the way along the Maxwelltown Path to the end where we took a breather and girded ourselves for the climb up the Glen

taking a break

Quick pitstop at the end of the path

This was our first chance to try out the relocated crossing of the Garroch on the other side of the roundabout. The sightlines are certainly improved

new Garroch crossing

Waiting to cross at the Garroch Loaning crossing

And if one of your party accidentally looks a bit like a police officer, it turns out the cars just stop for you to cross …

Garroch crossing

Richard put out his hand to warn the kids not to cross with such authority an oncoming car stopped instead! Perhaps that’s the answer?

Even so, coming back, it took a while before we could find a gap in the traffic as the road was busy with cars coming away from the show. It will be interesting to see how this crossing works when the hospital is up and running

coming up the hill

Coming up the hill to the first bench

Once on the Glen Road, and past the Kilnford traffic, we had a fairly quiet run up the hill, which even our youngest riders tackled with ease. Having stopped at the first bench to admire the view and sample a few ginger biscuits, we pressed on to another (new?) bench further up, and then on up to pretty much the top of the road. A good effort all round!

Then it was just a case of whizzing safely down and back the way we had come for a ride that ended up being a bit longer than the advertised eight miles. An excellent way of enjoying an unexpectedly sunny afternoon.

Tomorrow we’ll be tackling some rather longer hills on the Durisdeer Cake Raid – if you’re up for 49 miles then please do meet us at 11:45am at Devorgilla Bridge. And if you’d prefer something a little shorter and easier, our next summer ride is on the 12th as we run out to Heathhall Forest and the skills track, always a favourite with the kids.


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Rain Stops for our Summer Ride!

After last week’s washout, we were hopeful for a break in the rain this weekend and it duly came – indeed we even saw some sunshine!

Eleven of us gathered at Dock Park this afternoon for our jaunt to the 12 Apostles. This is one of our more challenging rides, as it involves a bit more road riding as we make our way through Lincluden and down the Irongray Road. We were grateful for a patient driver who not only followed us down the Irongray Road at a slow pace, but also all the way down into Newbridge too, as one of our back markers made a fairly cautious descent of the hill.

12 Apostles

Exploring the stone circle at the 12 Apostles

Once at the 12 Apostles – the biggest (if not the most spectacular) stone circle on mainland Scotland – it was a largely sunny afternoon, and we had a chance to chat and share home baking (Jim had brought peanut butter cookies to supplement the coffee and walnut cake) while the kids vanished to the far end of the stone circle.

group shot

For our group shot, we chose the largest monolith. You can’t do this at Stonehenge …

We found a nice side gate which would have saved us pushing our bikes through the long grass, but it had been carefully designed to make getting even a small kids’ bike through it impossible, so we returned out of the field the way we had come.

curly wurly bridge

Pausing at the top of the bridge

Crossing the A76 at Newbridge, we detoured off the (rather fiddly) official cycle route to go round on the quiet road past Jock’s Loaning and then over the A75 by means of the curly wurly bridge.

Then we were almost home – so it was time to break out the bubble machine and lay down a nice trail of bubbles for the rest of the ride to follow. Happiness is a bike that blows bubbles …

bubble-blowing bike

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August Dates for your Diary

group shot at the 12 Apostles

(and a July one – a reminder that our next summer ride is on Saturday 29th July – to the 12 Apostles, hopefully in better weather than last Saturday!)

We’re half way through our summer rides and August is looming, so this is just a quick reminder of some dates coming up in August.

First, it’s our regular monthly meeting on Tuesday 1st August, 6pm as usual at the Coach and Horses. Please come along for a very informal gathering – a chance to chat bikes, help plan our events, and raise any burning cycling (or walking) issues you may have.

On Thursday 3rd August, as part of the Nithsdale summer holiday activities, there’s a family bike fun day in Dock Park – details here (along with loads of other events).

And finally, as well as our regular Saturday Summer Ride, on Sunday 6th August we’re running a much longer ride – our ‘cake raid’ to Durisdeer. This will be around 45 miles, but with a stop at the church in Durisdeer for their regular afternoon tea, which comes highly recommended. If you’re worried that it might be too long, the D&G CTC group will also be riding there, but from Thornhill via Drumlanrig (details on their ride list).  It should be a bit of fun and a chance to try a longer distance, but all at a gentle pace. And just think how much cake you’ll have earned by the time you cycle there and back!

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Rain stops play

So last week we braved the gathering clouds and the rain stayed off. This week – not so much

rain on the river

“Does it look as if it might be a bit brighter over there?”

We’re not afraid of a drop or two of rain here in Dumfries – and we have persisted with our summer rides even on the dampest of occasions – but we do have our limits and that limit is when we decide a ride isn’t going to be any fun. Although five of us showed up at the rendezvous in Dock Park (and promptly sheltered under a tree), we were none of us quite hardy enough to go ahead and ride in the pouring rain just for the fun of it.

Waiting for the rain to stop

After spending fifteen minutes or asking each other if we thought it was easing off (it wasn’t), the rumble of thunder put the seal on the deal: today’s summer ride wasn’t going to happen, and the weather gods agreed.  Time to share a bit of cake (Rhian’s banana and date creation definitely cheered up the afternoon) and cut our losses.

Next week let’s hope for better weather as we head out for the 12 Apostles.

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