Where will your bike take you this summer?

We’re gearing up for our summer ride programme – as usual, starting in July, we’ll be running family friendly summer rides every Saturday in July and August. No need to book – just meet at Dock Park (at the car park) for a 2pm start.

Group shot on the way back

This year we’ve revised the programme slightly, adding a route to and around the Crichton, and reordering some of the July rides, but the principle will be the same. Each ride is suitable for everyone – from nervous beginners and families with young children, to people who just like to get out and ride sociably at a relaxed pace.

Conquerors of the bridge

Starting at just over three miles, and building up gradually to 11 miles (out to Mabie Forest), our rides use Dumfries’s cycle paths and quiet back streets and rural roads – while riding in a group gives the additional security of ‘safety in numbers’.

curly wurly bridge

All of our rides have a break in the middle, sometimes at an interesting spot (or a nice view) with a chance for a rest, a chat, a little bit of litter picking if need be, and – most important of all – a wee treat.

If you’re new to cycling or new to the area they are a great way to meet other cyclists and find new routes. And if you’re an old hand, perhaps they’re just a good reminder of how beautiful a region we live in!

speedwells

Either way, we hope you come along!

 

 

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Buddies Bike Bonanza – can you help?

Big Bike Bonanza poster
At the end of June, Buddies will be holding a sponsored bike ride with a difference – they’ll be taking their fleet of adaptive bikes out on the road for a three day circuit of the (relatively flat) roads from Greenlea to Glencaple.  Twenty-one miles over three days might not seem much of a challenge – unless you’ve ever ridden a rickshaw trike, side-by-side tandem, or wheelchair transporter.

The aim of the event is to raise money for Buddies’ Bike Barn – but also to raise awareness of the bikes, trikes and four wheelers they have available so the ride will be stopping off to visit schools and village halls en route (as well as stopping for refreshments at every opportunity). Buddies will also need a few riders on conventional two-wheelers to accompany some of the members on their own bikes for some of the route.

If you have strong legs and fancy a challenge and can do a morning or afternoon on the 24th, 25th or 26th June (Monday – Wednesday) then let Buddies know! You’ll need to give them a ring on 01387 256312 so you can be added to the schedule (you may need to try a couple of times before you get through).

June meeting – and a ‘bike bonanza’

bike and flowersMay is almost over – and hopefully you’ll have had a chance to enjoy some of the fine weather it has (mostly) brought! With summer just around the corner, it’s time for our next meeting on Tuesday 4th June – 6pm at the Coach and Horses. Please join us if you can, to help plan the summer’s activities and also to discuss any issues you’d like raised – or just enjoy some general bike-related chat. All welcome.

Meanwhile some advance notice for those of you who fancy a challenge with a difference – or want to help out with fundraising for a good cause – Buddies will be taking their collection of adaptive cycles out on the road at the end of June for a Bike Bonanza – a sponsored ride on two, three or even four pedal-powered wheels out around the (relatively flat) roads to the east. As well as helping to raise money for the Bike Barn, this will be a chance to raise awareness about the project and let people see the range of bikes available. More details coming soon, but if you might be able to take a spell pedalling, or can help out more generally, then let us or Buddies know.

 

Are you ready to Moooove?

So – after two planning meetings and many, many, many dairy related puns, we can finally announce the Dumfries Pop-Up Pedal on Parliament event: The Mad Cow Ride

cow

Dumfries’s cycling (and walking) network suffers from one persistent flaw – while there are some good off-road paths and routes, as soon as it comes to crossing the road you’re either on your own or stuck waiting forever for the green man, usually fenced in on an island in the middle of speeding traffic. When the new hospital was built, staff wishing to commute by bike couldn’t get a toucan crossing of a busy road because it was too difficult – but cows get their own crossing of the A75!

Waiting for a gap in the traffic
Waiting for a gap in the traffic – all too familiar if you cycle (or walk) in Dumfries

So we’ve decided, if coos get crossings, let’s be coos! Come dressed as a cow for a tour of Dumfries’s worst crossings – for pedestrians and cyclists. Join us at Dock Park for an 11am start, and we’ll wind our way round some of the worst crossings in Dumfries via Cuckoo Bridge, McDonalds, the new hospital, Dalbeattie Road, New Abbey road and the complete lack of a crossing coming out of the station. We’ll end at the council offices to tell them the current situation is udderly ridiculous and we demand to be herd …

If you don’t have a cow costume (and who doesn’t) we’ll have a cow making workshop on Easter Saturday – watch this space.

If you want to join us, you can sign up via Facebook (if you use it) or just keep an eye on this site for more information and come along on the day.

Spring is here already – meetings resume

In our excitement over Pedal on Parliament coming to Dumfries, we totally forgot that with the clocks going forward again this weekend, it’s time to resume our monthly meetings!

After a brief flirtation with a different day and venue, we’re reverting to the first Tuesday of the month – and back at the Coach and Horses.

So join us at 6pm on Tuesday April 2nd for a quick meeting. As well as further planning for our POP event (announcement coming soon!) we also need to talk about the Environment Fair in May – and start to think about our summer ride programme!

Don’t forget either that tomorrow is the Dock Park bench unveiling which will have plenty of bike related fun. If you’ve got a child who’s new to cycling (and maybe struggling to get pedalling on their own) the iBike team will be doing a ditch the stabilisers session from 12-1:30

Ditch the stabilisers

And Buddies will be at Dock Park from 11-3 with their amazing assortment of pedal powered machines, ready for anyone to have a go

Bikder Buddies event

Headwinds, literal and metaphorical …

It’s not often we have a mountain biking champion on one of our rides – but with Lee Craigie joining us for yesterday’s ride to Dalbeattie for the Cycling UK Networking meeting, we were in exalted company. As Active Nation Commissioner, Lee prefers to have her conversations outdoors as much as possible, so she was happy to join us, plus Suzanne Forup and (the potentially confusingly named) Craigie-Lee Paterson from Cycling UK Scotland for a rolling chat that ranged almost as widely as we did on our 18-mile ride to Dalbeattie.

en route to Dalbeattie
Which way now? Suzanne, Craigie-Lee, Lee and Sally contemplate the Old Military Road. Photo by Steve Jefkins

Unfortunately the weather was pretty challenging – we were more or less resigned to it being cold and wet, but up until the night before we were at least forecast a tailwind. This very much did not materialise and in the end it took us almost 2 and half hours to ride into Dalbeattie, where we arrived battered but unbowed with just five minutes to go before the meeting was due to start.

The networking event itself was a great success with a really good turnout of people and lots of new-to-us faces, so there were many great connections formed over the course of the afternoon. It’s hard to sum up the three hours of discussions and presentations but a few things stood out:

  • Our region has such huge potential for cycling, for transport, sport and tourism – we just need much more joined up thinking and policy to take advantage of that.
  • There is also huge opportunities to use cycling and active travel to improve people’s health – and this is an area where places like Dalbeattie (and D&G more widely) are actually leading the way.
  • On the down side, time and again we heard examples of things that suggest the powers that be just don’t quite get it – from a lack of room to dry clothes in schools (perhaps because they didn’t believe kids actually would cycle to school in poor weather?) and missing bike racks for hospital visitors and outpatients – to a lack of understanding by tourism bodies of the potential for cycle tourism of all kinds.
  • More positively, we were reminded time and again of the joy that cycling can bring – from all-ability cycling in a park to recalling our favourite routes around the county – and the eagerness of everyone in the room to share that joy.
  • Most importantly of all, there were many connections made and common interests found. Hopefully these will grow and strengthen through events like these to try and fulfil some of the potential we see in the region.

Watch this space for more information – including all the great routes people shared on our map.

The meeting was actually over all too soon – but some of us had a long ride before we were home – some more epic than others!

Springlike weather for our last winter ride

group shot on the Whitesands
Getting ready to start on the Whitesands

This time last year we enjoyed a sunny but oh-so-cold outing to New Abbey – this year the weather was quite different, still sunny but mild and that’s probably why we had a baker’s dozen show up ready for a trip out to Sweetheart Abbey and a lunch at the Abbey Cottage Tearooms.

Our planned route of 25 miles had some ups and downs before we’d be settling down for lunch, so with a younger participant (as well as a few older ones who weren’t confident of their winter fitness) we decided to reverse the route and do the shorter leg first. That would allow people to decide after lunch which route to take home.Turnoff to Kirkconnell Flow

Accordingly, we headed out on the route of our Mabie Forest Ride, and then kept going past the forest and onto the New Abbey Road. This isn’t an appealing road to take a youngster on (or anyone on a bike, frankly) so we added a little detour past Kirkconnell Flow which cuts out most of the A-road miles through some twisty corners.

Unfortunately, this was where our nemesis, the puncture fairy first struck (she was along for the ride, we discovered later), so the group had a chance to catch their breath and ready themselves for the sharp climbs (and stunning views) this little detour offers.

top of the climb
Waiting at the top of the climb

With the group all together again, we sailed down into the New Abbey where the tearooms offer a nice courtyard to park bikes – and quickly found a table for 13 where we could keep an eye of them out of the window.

After lunch, the ride split, with a smaller group opting for the more direct route home, and a larger one continuing up to Beeswing and then up to the Old Military Road. Unfortunately, this larger group also contained the Puncture Fairy who, thanks to a dodgy batch of inner tubes, stopped us twice more on the road to Beeswing. Fortunately, in mild February sunshine, nobody got too cold and it was pleasant to have the opportunity to take a break, pull out some maps, and plan fresh adventures.

 

Group at Sweetheart Abbey

We’re sad that this marks the last of our winter rides – but it’s great to feel that spring is on its way. Our next adventure will be in Dalbeattie for the Cycling UK networking day – please do sign up if you’re interested, and watch this space for an opportunity to ride there in company