Bike in the evening (and to the pub!)

Another week goes by, another bike week challenge completed. It was such a lovely, sunny day last Friday that after work a beer garden in the sunshine seemed essential. The boy was already at a local pub with work friends, so I hopped on my bike and cycled a couple of miles up the road.

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A couple of hours, a cider and a meal later, cycling home was bottom of my list with a full stomach and the light fading, so we bundled my bike into the car and drove home. A lovely summery evening. Perfect start to a week off.<br

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Bike on an organised ride

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To mark the end of Bike Week 2013, Winchester held a Cyclefest event in the centre of town for all things bike related. We cycled in, registered our bikes with the Police, got some free Kendal mint cake and then took part in a very leisurely 6 mile bike ride.

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The ride started from outside the Guidhall, along the newly resurfaced National Cycle Network 23 to Hockley Viaduct and back. This was a family-suitable event so the pace was perhaps a little slow for our tastes, but we cycled home just the two of us a little more speedily.

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The route was tarmac-ed the whole way (good for my thin tyres!) and it was a lovely, dry day for it. I was actually quite glad it wasn’t overly warm as the ride would have been a lot less enjoyable!

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Please excuse the hideous quality of many of these photos. My camera was safely stowed in my panniers, so these were taken at speed using my phone whilst cycling one handed (safety first).

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We cycled out of the city centre along one of the many Itchen tributaries.

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Over the viaduct!

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Appropriate footwear?!

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Wildflowers were in full bloom- how gorgeous is that poppy?

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The viaduct makes a great viewpoint over the Itchen Valley

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Happy one more Bike Week Challenge is complete!

Bike date

Another week goes by, another belated Bike Week challenge ticked off the list. This time? Bike date. When I planned the challenge I was thinking of combining this one with bike to the pub or bike into the countryside, but last week I came up with an idea that gives this one it’s very own post.

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Being the first day of the Tour de France, and with Mark Cavendish tipped to start the race in yellow, however nice the weather it was clearly going to be an afternoon for staying in so we made it an at home lunch date with a Tour de France picnic, Eurosport on the TV and a selection of TDF magazines.

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And what a stage it was! Orica-Greenedge managed to get their tour bus stuck under the finish banner (oops) and chaos ensued. I don’t think I can give a good enough description- have a look at the photo here. Following #busgate on Twitter was very, very entertaining, but the confusion led to several nasty crashes. 

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And what better way to follow up a summer picnic than with a bowl of home-grown (thanks Mum!) strawberries?

Bike into town

So, I messed up. When I originally set myself the Bike Week Challenge, with 9 bike themed things to try between 15th and 23rd June, I had totally failed to remember I had two days in Leeds with work, with no bike. Oops. I’m a little behind with the challenges, so they may not all be completed in Bike Week itself, but it has spurred me on to try different cycling things than I may otherwise have done, which I guess is the point of the challenge really.

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That putting the challenge in context, I actually undertook this challenge before Bike Week had begun on a day off. After a couple of days of rubbish weather spent at home catching up on sleep and the blog, I hopped on the bike to cycle into town with no real aim in mind. I barely have to pedal to cycle into town as it is pretty much all downhill and only a ten minute or so ride. I took the scenic route along the river rather than the more direct, less beautiful way. You’ll have to take my word on this front I’m afraid- cycling alone makes it entirely impossible to take any photos without causing some kind of damage. I was hoping to get a remote controlled shot of me with the bike, but no luck- the out-takes are hilarious. So, here’s my bike almost in town.

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Side note- really need to shorten my brake cables- my bike currently has antennae! 

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Luckily, there are plenty of bike parking spots in the centre of town, so I locked up my bike  round the back of a flower stall whilst I wandered around town.

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Although I set off into town without much of a plan for my day, I remembered that there was an event on at Winchester Cathedral- A Symphony of Flowers. A quick google on my phone came up with some pretty impressive pictures, so I decided to give it a go. Truly amazing- expect a few posts to follow. After I’d seen the thousands of flowers inside the Cathedral, I had a look around the nearby marquee and took part in a quick flower arranging lesson with a lovely lady from NAFAS who helped me create a table arrangement. I wanted to create something that looked very English Country Garden-y and I think I succeeded?

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This seemed like a great idea until I realised that the arrangement would not get home in one piece if I took it on the bike. Really didn’t think that one through! Well, it turns out that cycle helmets don’t just protect heads from damage- my helmet turned out to be the perfect way of carrying my flowers home unscathed. I just had to push my bike home instead.

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I also got so many lovely comments from complete strangers when I was carrying this round town finishing off a few errands, which was really great. It’s so unusual to get compliments from people you don’t know- I passed people in the street who commented and had several chats with cashiers when I bought a few bits and pieces. An unexpected addition to my day.

Can’t remember what the Bike Week Challenge is? Read my original post here.

Bike to work

Monday morning- time to crack on with getting through my Bike Week challenges.

Today’s task? Bike to work.

The reason I don’t bike to work really is that I live so close. It’s about a ten minute walk, so cycling doesn’t really make the journey any shorter by the time I’ve dug the bike out of the garage and then locked it up at the other end. I’ve only cycled once before but for Bike Week I figured I’d give it another go.

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The journey was great. I barely had to pedal and there was next to no traffic- excellent. My issues with the bike commute? Clothing restrictions! I wear a dress to work most days and when cycling that just isn’t very dignified. So today I not only had to plan what I took to work with me (i.e. no more than I could carry), I also had to make sure I had on a suitable outfit. A lot more thinking than I usually engage with in the mornings.

Having arrived at the office and negotiated balancing around the side of the traffic banner, it was time to get into the dingy car park where the bike store is. This is virtually underground, with a roller shutter that rises painfully slowly. Then, when you are finally in, the bike parking is in the dingiest, darkest corner of the car park. Hmm.

How was the rest of the day? I felt quite smug with my helmet sitting on my desk, quite virtuous that I’d packed in a minute workout before my working day (hardly). But, when it came to the journey home, breezing past grid-locked cars, and getting back a lot sooner than I would if I’d have walked I really did enjoy my cycle commute.

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All in all, I think I might try to cycle more often. Especially if I have to head to the gym or somewhere afterwards- it makes getting about a lot easier but perhaps I need to make sure I use a backpack that day or invest in some new panniers. And, yes, I am aware how depressing the photographs are…

Have you ever cycled to work? If not, is it something you’d try?