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.

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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!

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!

 

 

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.

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!