Blog

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!

 

 

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Schedule for September

Bike Breakfast Poster
Poster for our Big Bike Breakfast – click on the image for a printable version, to share at your workplace or with friends

After a busy summer of family rides, we’re not letting up in September! This is a quick reminder of everything that’s going on, so get your diaries out and make sure you don’t miss out!

  • For those who want to get more involved in campaigning, on Saturday 8th September, join We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote and the South Ayrshire Paths Initiative for a campaigners’ workshop and networking day. This is free, but if you’re planning on attending please book to reserve a place as spaces are filling up.
  • On Sunday 9th September, Buddies will be opening their Buddies Bike Barn with a ‘come and try’ session from 1-4 pm. This isn’t just for people with additional needs – apart from anything else, some of these bikes are tons of fun, so come along to their new site in the Friars Vennel to see what they’ve been up to and discover their range of new bikes, trikes and other pedal-powered contraptions.
  • On Monday 10th September it’s our monthly meeting so if you’re interested in getting involved in what we do or just finding out more, then come along to the Riverside Bar in Dock Park at 6pm.
  • On Saturday 15th September, for those who fancy a longer ride than our summer jaunts (or indeed our winter rides), why not join us on a Cake Raid on Penpont? This is a 40 mile round trip, so it’s possibly for the more committed among us, but it will include a slap up meal. Meet us at Devorgilla Bridge on the Whitesands at 11 am if you’re up for it.
  • Finally, on Friday 21st September, we’re holding our annual Big Bike Breakfast – this time at its new home on the Whitesands (outside the Coach and Horses pub). Whether you’re riding to work, school, college or just for a bit of fun, join us for a free breakfast, hot drink, and a chance to (politely!) tell the council what you think of cycling in Dumfries.

Phew!

 

Cake Raid 2018: Penpont

durisdeer tea
Durisdeer Church Tea

Last year, following a discussion in the pub (source of all great ideas, but also a fair few bonkers ones), we held our inaugural Cake Raid on the Durisdeer Church Teas. This turned out to be even more epic than we’d originally planned, due to it being extremely wet, although still good fun, for a certain value of fun …

climbing up to Ae
Cheery in the rain during last year’s raid

The tea was also excellent, evidenced by the fact that it disappeared almost before we could take a photograph of it. However we’ve heard that Penpont Church’ does a Saturday ‘tea and light bite’ which is even better (don’t be fooled by that ‘light bite’ – our spies report that you could well end up too stuffed to ride home).

Penpont also has the advantage of being slightly closer than Durisdeer – while last year’s ride was around 49 miles, depending in which route people took back, our planned route will be just under 20 miles out and just over 20 miles back, via the lovely quiet back roads around Irongray, Dunscore and Keir.

We’ll meet at 11am at Devorgilla Bridge on the Whitesands, aiming to get there shortly after the doors open at 1pm. This is approximately a 10mph pace, but nobody will get left behind, so don’t worry about the speed. However, it is just over 40 miles, or four hours of cycling, with a fair few feet of climbing, so if you’ve not done this distance before,  you might want to arrange a bail-out option at Penpont.

at tea
Soggy but smiling …

Hopefully, the weather will be better than last year, but this is Dumfries and Galloway so come prepared – it’s easy to underestimate how cold you can get in the wet even on a mild day. We’ll aim to run the ride whatever the weather, unless we decide it’s not going to be any fun.

If you’re interested, let us know (as a courtesy, we’d like to give the organisers a rough idea of how many hungry cyclists they’ll be playing host to) either in the comments or via Facebook.

Want to see more cycle paths? Let our MSP know!

Emma Harper MSP
Emma Harper, on her bike at last year’s bike breakfast

Here’s a quick simple thing you can do to encourage the powers that be to invest more in cycling infrastructure, especially locally! Emma Harper MSP wants to hear from people about what they’d like to see done in the region, so she can take that to our new Transport Secretary. You can reach Emma easily on her official email address (emma.harper.msp@parliament.scot) and if you’re a bit stuck for words, you can borrow our email below – just add your own examples after ‘For instance’ of where you’d like to see something change. We’ve had a great response to a recent Facebook post about Community Links funding, so we know the demand is out there – but our politicians won’t know themselves unless we tell them, so get writing!

Dear Emma Harper

I’m emailing to ask for your support to bring more high-quality infrastructure for both cycling and walking to our region. As you know, the best way to encourage people to cycle and walk more is to give them safe conditions to do so, preferably away from heavy and fast traffic. This in turn means fewer car journeys, less pollution, a healthier population and also gives children and young people freedom to get about without being dependent on their parents to drive. In our beautiful rural areas, it also has huge potential to increase tourism without putting too much of a strain on our resources and infrastructure.

I’m delighted that the Scottish Government has already announced more money for active travel investment, but progress is painfully slow and Dumfries and Galloway is in danger of missing out. Because of the need to provide match funding, the council is only bidding for a few Community Links projects a year. Even when bids are successful, they are often then held up or even cancelled because of objections from landowners who haven’t been properly consulted.

We already have some great locations for cycling and walking but there are some glaring omissions which mean people who would like to cycle more have no safe alternative to driving – even for some quite short journeys. For instance, ….

Dumfries and Galloway was originally the home of cycling, and it could become a byword for active travel with proper investment, amounting to just a fraction of what a road scheme would cost. If the Scottish government is serious about seeing 10% of journeys by bike, as it has said, then it needs to start investing now in filling these (and other) gaps in the network.

I hope you will pass this message on to the minister and help us make our region one of the healthiest places in Scotland.

Foraging and flight on our final summer ride

We’ve had a great season of summer rides this year so it’s really sad to write up the last of them, but at least we ended on a good one! Another baker’s dozen turned up for our ride out to Mabie Forest, the longest (at 11-12 miles) of our summer rides. As well as some folk who have been coming on and off all summer, there were some new faces too, which is always cheering!

Group shot on the way back

The ride to Mabie Forest is a new route put in by the council and Sustrans a few years back, but it’s never been signposted, so even people who know Mabie Forest well don’t necessarily know there’s an almost-entirely off-road route from the centre of town to the sneaky back entrance beside Mabie Farm Park. Riding alongside the Dalbeattie Road isn’t always the most relaxing place to be, but it’s separated from the fast traffic and this year the path itself was clear of horse poo (which had proved a hazard last year …). The final section is along a single track road, and the few cars we encountered were fine, happy to wait until we’d reached a passing place to go round us. We also rode past the Dumfries Model Flying Club and were able to watch their very impressive remote-controlled planes taking off and flying around, which was a bit of a bonus.

Attempt at a group photo, but with diminished numbers as some participants could not be recalled from their blackberry foraging

Once at Mabie Forest,  there was again no litter to be found – but the sight of large ripe juicy blackberries proved irresistible to some members of the party, so much so that our traditional group photo was missing a few participants. We’d much rather be picking hedgerow fruits than other people’s rubbish so this was another bonus!

We came back via the same route, waving to the model aircraft flyers, and noting other good blackberrying spots as we went. These are the kinds of things it’s much harder to do in a car which is why we love getting out and exploring by bike (not to mention the cake …)

coming back
Coming back from the Mabie ride

Our summer rides may be over, but things are busy in September so keep an eye on the site. And make a note in your diaries for Friday 21st September, when we have our annual Bike Breakfast! We’re ringing the changes a little this year and holding it on the Whitesands (outside the Coach and Horses) so it’s easier for people to get to and on a major bike commuting route. See you there!

Buddies Bike Barn – Open Day!

As many of you will know, we’ve been working with Buddies Dumfries for two years now, and it’s been a journey for all concerned.

What started as a project to give Buddies members a bit more independence has grown legs – or rather wheels. Not only have some of the members who we’ve helped get pedalling independently gone on to win medals, Buddies have been working to bring cycling not just to their members, but to anyone in the area who might need a little help to get pedalling (or simply to get out on a bike). After two amazing open days when the whole of Dumfries seems to have had a go on an adapted bike or two, they’ve now got themselves a base on the Vennel within easy reach of the Whitesands and Dock Park and the rest of the cycle network.

 

We made this little video to celebrate – and get a flavour of what Buddies Bike Barn has to offer but because there’s no substitute for experiencing things for yourself, Buddies are celebrating the opening of the Bike Barn with an open day on Sunday 9th September where you can see what sort of cycles they have on offer to rent. As well as a wheelchair bike, which allows anyone who can’t get out under their own steam to at least enjoy the fresh air and maybe join other family members on a group cycle ride, there are trikes (including an electric trike), side-by-side tandems, pedal-powered go-karts and also some standard two-wheeled bikes for people who simply don’t have a bike of their own and want to see if cycling is for them.

See you there!

 

 

Chasing our tail on our seventh summer ride…

We don’t ask much of our ride leaders at Cycling Dumfries: a bit of common sense, some baking (homemade or otherwise)  – and to arrive back at the start with the same number of riders as they started out with.

groupshot at the forest

This Saturday the number was 13 – another bakers’ dozen keen for the trip out to Heathhall Forest and the skills track, which is always a favourite with the kids (large and small). It was our first ride of the summer up the Caledonian Cycle Path, so a chance to explore another corner of town, and a key route out to the north for commuters and leisure cyclists alike.

new link to the Caledonian cycleway

It was good to see that the new housing estate already has a nice link into the path – this will also form a route through to the Lockerbie Road along the residential streets of the new development, for those with a very good sense of direction, anyway!

Once at the forest, there was time for a couple of laps of the skills track (and a bit of an informal time trial …) where we discovered the speed-enhancing powers of chocolate brownies. We were also all ready to do a quick litter pick but once again there was no litter to be found in the forest itself, which in itself is encouraging news.

Conquerors of the bridge

On the way back – having tackled the bridge with the steep spiral up (always a challenge for those with little legs and no gears) AND the climb up to the Moffat Road, we almost came unstuck on the final leg, when four of our tailenders went off-piste via the station path and a short cut through town. Fortunately, our own tail ender was with them (that’s why it’s important to have someone at the back) and could guide everyone safely back to our Dock Park starting point.

Our next ride will be the last of our summer rides, which is always sad, but we’ll cheer ourselves up by riding out to Mabie Forest on the off-road path – a bit more challenging than our previous rides, but still very doable if we take our time. Whether you’ve been joining us all summer, or haven’t quite made it out yet for one of our rides we’d love to see you, so do come along.