Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Wot no biking? Coffee, ID Cards & Dinosaurs

Bank Holiday Weekend: Family trip to London - in dreadful weather. We stayed with my brother and his family. It was really good to see spend some them. Went to Redbridge Green Fair. It was very wet and soggy - but did find out about the anti-ID card campaign. Also picked up some Zapatista Coffee, which I'm told is "excellent". More info here .

At the Green Fair looked over some Metropolitan Police bikes with my brother. There was a very "keen" community support officer who gave us a guided tour of the bikes. Much amusement! After dishing out some police balloons to the kids he then promptly gave chase to our group (on foot) and informed us that he was going to take them away from aforementioned children as there was a health and safety issue! Result - 1 child in tears and an important lesson learned no doubt.

Took in the Natural History Museum which was absolutely heaving - but worth the visit. Dinosaurs are good - if you get the chance go see.

Also got to the Doctor Who shop in East Ham - kids loved it and we spent a fortune.

No biking done but did discuss a future trip to Scotland with brother - likely to be in October.

As you can see the pictures in the header didn't work out as I hoped so I reverted to the basic! Oh and no progress on the google maps yet!

Friday, 25 May 2007

Google maps

So whilst googling for this very blog (sad I accept) I come across Cyclinginboulder
Yeah I know its in Colorado USA but this guy uses Google Maps to great effect to show cycle routes where he lives. So thats what I will endeavour to do.

So I tried but can't get it to work. I'll have to get to grips with kml files I think.

I do have the Cassop Vale route sorted out with a written description, grid references and photos. Its ready to go!

If you are interested in the natural history of the area we ride through on that route then this will tell you.

I'm going to to try and add some pictures to the header title of the blog today.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Durham Big Ride

A great family day out - it says here. Hmmm... Remind the kids of that if its pouring down, and their bums and legs are sore and they are fed up.....

But seriously folks (!) - there is a big ride in Durham for all the family on 16th September 2007. Actually there are two rides - I guess that's a little big ride and a big big ride.

Go on! You know you want to!

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Mad dogs, horses and flies!

Great tea-time ride today. Great weather - lots of sunshine but not too hot - added to the enjoyment! P and me got out after he finished work and we tackled one of our favourite "doorstep" routes. After much discussion as we started by the time we got home we decided it ranks as moderate route due to a couple of steep climbs along the way and the distance (19 miles). The fact that I took a spill probably confirms that grading - although strictly that was my own stupid fault when I stopped to take a picture of a turning on the route:
I'm still pondering the best way to put routes up here! So far I think I will use OpenOffice's Write - convert to PDF and then on to jpeg. Jpeg can be posted as an image which can then be opened and printed out. Write will save as Html but that doesn't get around the problem of enabling routes to be easily printed out.

The title of this posting refers to:

  • The big bad barking dogs you encounter on route - they are behind a fence.... except once they got out!
  • Horses - apparently young 'uns can be a little unpredictable. Yes they can be!
  • Flies - a huge one and an open mouth sucking in air as I powered up the hill. You get the picture...?
This week I'll format the route and see if it works!

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Rain limits play... and a route for little beginners.

Lots of rain severely limited the opportunities to get out on Sunday.

A brief trip out in the morning took in Rennys Lane to Sherburn to Running Waters and then back towards Shadforth and then homeward bound via Crime Rigg. A few pictures taken and I'll illustrate a route map with those later in the week.

The afternoon saw a trailer bike outing with youngest daughter by railway path to Langley Park and return. This is just over 8 miles and relatively flat although with a few "swoops" to liven things up a bit. These are where bridges are now missing.

The trailer bike is an Edinburgh Bike Co-operative Revolution Glider trailer bike. We have black ones to match my politics. It connects to the seat post of my "old" Kona NuNu and pulls along nicely. Both girls offer added "jet power" at times and to give them credit it does make a difference.

This was the longest that youngest daughter has done so far. Previous outgoings will have been no further than a couple of miles maximum. Due to the torrential rain and hail we'd experienced over the last few days there were a number of puddles and she asked that we go through them all. I was happy to oblige and soon we looked as if we could have come out of Glentress - smiles and all! A drink stop at Langley Park and we turned for home.

Route details:
Suitable for: All - families and children, especdially those just starting out or as a warm up for others. Can be extended easily!
Starting Point: Broompark

  • Approx 3 km (2 miles) by road from Durham City centre (A690 south west to the Stone Bridge roundabout, then west on the B6302)
  • Grid Ref. NZ 251 415
  • There's plenty of car parking. No other facilities. Pub and garage at Stone Bridge Roundabout. Pub in Broom 1km past location.
The route itself is simple - follow the Lanchester Valley Railway Path to Langley Park (Grid Ref NZ 211 457 ). Langley Park has shops and pubs in village centre which is a short distance from the route. Diggerland is at Langley Park and the railway path runs adjacent to it for a stretch.
The return is simply that! Turn around and come back.

As stated its relatively flat and well surfaced. There may be puddles in wet weather. Two roads to cross: Aldin Grange: caution as although minor road cars approach quickly around corner, and at Witton Gilbert old station - road ends at path so little traffic except for dog walkers. There was a good quantity of dog turd at Witton Gilbert so careful!

Plenty to see - we saw pigs, hens, sheep ( and lambs) , cows (and calves) and horses. Ruins of old Beau Repaire a former monks retreat, makes a good picnic spot and is just off the route.

So that's first route done! A bit of a cop-out I admit. I'll get something done this week of more interest.
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Saturday, 12 May 2007

Durham City's pedicabs...

Bumped into Stephen Murphy outside Clayport Library at lunchtime whilst doing a bit of shopping. Stephen is the guy who is launching Durham's first pedicab service (that's a bike taxi). I know Stephen from work. We chatted for a while about his plans and the process of getting a hackney carriage licence. The City Council is treating the pedicabs as proper taxis so there is a lot of paperwork that needs sorting out.

Local council are supposed to be encouraging cycling as a healthy, non-polluting, sustainable and enjoyable means of transport. Bike taxis will also add to the attractions of Durham as a tourist spot. Whilst I can see the need for safety checks, in my view any other bureaucracy must be kept to an absolute minimum.

Stephen is looking for other drivers - I'm going to give this some serious consideration. It would be a great way of training as well as having a chance to show off my adopted home city to tourists and visitors. I'd make some money as well, although probably not very much. But I could use that to fund some new bike kit.... or a trip somewhere...

Stephen has a great idea there and one that is good for the city too. I really hope it takes off for him.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Afric Pepperbird - Cycling and jazz (ooh err...)

I've put up a link to Fred Grand's excellent blog Afric Pepperbird.

OK so its news about thin tyre roadie action and jazz reviews but I'm assured that he's going to get back into the rough stuff and onto a mountain bike. And Fred showed me a great route about 12 months ago which I'll post up here in due course (giving credit of course!).

Fred is a keen rider and was quite a racer, holding a BCF second category licence until he retired a couple of years ago. He writes for Sportingo .

Jazz is his "thing" and he also writes reviews for Jazz Review. He also likes Husker Du and the Dead Kennedys so can be forgiven for pretty much everything else.

Oh and he has some great pictures from a recent trip to South Africa.

Well worth a visit!

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Bank holiday outings.....

Two outings today! One as a whole family and an opportunity to try out new bike carriers. Drove the short distance to Broompark picnic area which is now called the "hub of Durham's railway paths". Broompark is about 10 minutes drive from the city centre on A690, past Neville's Cross (jn with A167) and then turn right at the roundabout at the bottom of the hill towards Ushaw Moor and Esh Winning on the B6302. Turn left after .5 mile - its signposted.

is a good place to start if you want to get onto the railway path network. Durham has many miles of old railways that have been converted into paths suitable for biking and walking. At some point I'll provide a link to a map of the railway paths. They are flat and generally well surfaced and traffic free so are great for taking kids on or for clocking up some miles. There are some good rides to be done based around the paths but they are a little staid if you like "proper" off-road adventures!

We had a good time with kids on trailer bikes, and picnic lunch with us, although wifey soon complained of jelly legs and sore bum! I diverted from path with elder daughter and found a smidgen of singletrack through some trees. Elder daughter was whooping in delight and talking about how going fast made her feel "free". Thats my girl!

Bike carriers are new Thule Proride 591s. They seem to work well, although its a bit odd not being able to see bikes in rear view mirror! The bikes are lockable to carrier and in turn are fully lockable to bars, which lock to roof rails. Probably takes 20 - 30 minutes to put bars and carriers on car and attach bikes.

This evening got out for a couple of hours with P. Headed up to quarry workings below Sherburn Hill and then over to woods at Littletown. Downhill/Freeride kids(?) have been in woods adding some jumps to trails there so we gave that a go. I bottled some of it on basis that I have a XC hardtail not suitable for grabbing huge "air", but P enjoyed himself as usual, despite mechanicals with chain and shifting. He really needs to get a half decent bike - he's going to become a cropper on that sports store special he's riding at the moment.

Both the quarry and the woods will feature in some of the routes I plan to include here so I'll not give full details of location here.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

C2C website

While looking at how others put up maps and routes I came across this excellent site about the Coast to Coast (C2C) route. OK so the C2C isn't really a route that I should put on this blog! The idea is to have some new routes for mountain bikers to get out and enjoy and make their own. And the C2C isn't great mountain biking (in County Durham at least) due to its flat nature. But... it exists and its useful for getting to other places by bike, and indeed at least two of the routes I'll put up here will involve parts of the C2C. The website is great and will be of use to anyone thinking of doing the C2C in any small part.

I'm getting a bit worried. Third post and as yet no routes in Durham. Perhaps this blog should be about my attempts to post up some routes, rather than the routes themselves...