Riding for better cycling routes

This is the article we submitted for the August edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

Well done to everyone on the 33rd Hayling cycle ride to Versailles, through beautiful northern France – both riders and support. Another great one, I hear. Why not subscribe to their newsletter to find out about the 34th in 2019. It’s at haylingcycleride.org.uk. Who knows, you might be tempted!

But you don’t need to go that far to cycle in beautiful countryside. Right on our doorstep in Havant, we have one of the best touring clubs in the country. Portsmouth CTC leads 6 to 8 rides a week during the summer, for varying abilities, speeds and distances. And they’re free to members of Cycling UK, the cycling charity.

Closer to home, Cycle Hayling had its own celebration social ride on the evening of Friday 27th July, riding around in a figure of eight round the island. Our goals were to preview the Council’s planned improvements, chat about future ones, and celebrate cycling on Hayling.

Appropriately, we finished in the Ferry Boat pub, so we could toast the revitalised ferry!

These improvements are the culmination of years of hard work by Cycle Hayling, Havant and Hampshire Councils, our councillors and others. So it’s frustrating to hear that they’ve been delayed yet again – from starting in spring, then summer, and now autumn, partly waiting for landowner permissions.

They’ve been ‘within the next few months’ for a long time now. We need the council to finish these so we can move on – there’s so much more to do. We badly need more cycle paths and quiet routes all over the island, where children and adults can be protected from traffic, and gain confidence.

And most of all, we need a good direct north/south route. We’re stuck with a narrow, busy main road from the roundabout at Mill Rythe School to the Yew Tree Inn, completely unacceptable for children or the less confident.

The Billy Trail is too far out of the way and its surface is rough and hopeless in wet weather. We need a route from Mengham to the bridge which is direct, safe, clean and pleasant to ride.

If you missed our ride, do come and visit our stand at the 3 Churches Fete on Wednesday the 8th August. See how fast you can cycle in 1 minute and win one of our new slap wraps! Or just come along and chat about what we’re doing.

And Cycle Hayling is re-launching and re-doubling our efforts with two enthusiastic new committee members. If you have ideas for improvements, or want to help, please contact us, in person or through cycleHayling.org.uk.

Safe, traffic-free cycle paths help us be more comfortable mentally, but many people tell us they would cycle more if it was more comfortable physically. So we’ve compiled a few tips below.

  • Tip 1: Take advice. Good bike shops know their stuff and are keen to have a happy customer. And most cyclists love sharing advice.
  • Tip 2: Ride a bike that fits you. New bikes come in different sizes and different riding positions. You can nearly always adjust things to fit you better. Seats can go up and down, and forward and backward. Handlebars can too, although you might need to change the stem or bar.
  • Tip 3: Get a saddle that fits you. Just as people and bottoms come in different shapes and sizes, so do saddles. We shouldn’t be surprised that there are saddles specifically designed for women. Your sit bones support your weight, so you need to find one that fits them. Too much padding can be as bad as too little. Many cycle shops will let you try before you buy.
  • Tip 4: Practice makes perfect. Your first ride for a while might feel strange, so find a quiet place for a gentle first ride and gradually build up, perhaps distance, speed and maybe hills.
  • Tip 5: Ride regularly. Your body and your brain are surprisingly adaptable – the more you ride, the easier and more enjoyable it gets, and the fitter you will be.
  • Tip 6: Get a mirror. Knowing what’s behind you is a big comfort. I love my helmet mirror, but if you wear strong glasses, that might not work so well, so a mirror on the bike might be better.
  • Tip 7: Learn simple bike maintenance. It’s surprisingly easy to pump up tyres, adjust brakes and gears and check for loose bolts. The internet is your friend! Keeping your bike in tune keeps you in tune with your bike.
  • Tip 8: ABCD checklist before you ride! (Air in tyres; Brakes working/Bars tight; Chain oiled; Dangley bits tidied up).

Enjoy your riding! Do visit our websites: CycleHayling.org.uk and PortsmouthCTC.org.uk.

Cycle Hayling is a volunteer community group to encourage cycling and better facilities on Hayling – please sign up.

You’ll learn to love those big hills

This is the article we submitted for the July edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

Thank you to everyone at the Donkey Derby who popped in to the Cycle Hayling & Portsmouth CTC stand. Lots of you tested how far you could cycle in 1 minute on our turbo challenge, and we had some amazing efforts, especially from kids. Aren’t they competitive! Several adults were off the top of our scoreboard, at well over 40 mph simulated speed. When we asked how they were so fit, they all said ‘cycling to work’.

Not that we had any problem getting to sleep that night, but many people do, and cycling is helping. Stanford University School of Medicine researchers asked some of them to cycle for 20-30 minutes every other day. On average, they fell asleep in about half the time, and slept almost an hour longer and more deeply.

Did you see in The News recently the debate about a cycle helmet law? While we strongly recommend cycle helmets, especially for children, we’re against forcing them by law. Sounds crazy – so why? Because everywhere it’s been tried, it has put people off and cut cycling by 30-40%, making many people less active, with little improvement on head injuries. Thousands and thousands more people will die from inactivity than could ever be saved by cycle helmets. More details at CyclingUK.org/helmets.

Cycle Hayling has just been reviewing the plans for Hayling cycling improvements with the council. Hampshire County Council has the overall responsibility and the money, but they delegate the work to Havant Borough, who have better local knowledge. Overall, two heads are better than one, so we get a better solution, but the additional delays are frustrating, and it’s slipped again.

But before autumn, Legion Field should have a tarmac path from Elm Grove to Mengham Junior School, the play area and across to Hawthorn Grove. It’s currently planned at 2 metres wide, and we hope the council will be able to find the extra money to make it 2.5 metres, to give more room for pedestrians and cyclists to share safely.

Hayling Park will also get wider paths to encourage safe sharing. Part of the delay has been the need to protect the roots of our beautiful park trees, so the council is experimenting with new materials.

Both of these will make vital training grounds for new cyclists, especially children, but adults too. Not only do they provide safe ‘a to b’ routes away from busy roads, but they provide a place to practice riding and build up confidence. As always, we need to respect other path users – ‘Share with Care’ as I saw on a sign recently.

Many more improvements for cycling and walking are in the pipeline, although some of them are waiting for landowner approval, and in some cases, money. Watch this space!

Do hills put you off cycling? Well we gave our Cathedral Challenge riders 13 helpful tips, and feedback has been positive. For example, ‘build up your strength and fitness’, ‘slow and steady’, ‘get to know your gears’, etc. You can see the full set at https://www.portsmouthctc.org.uk/tackling-hills/. You might even get to enjoy them. Every hill that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger for the next one.

My personal favourite tip isn’t on the list – breaking hills down into smaller challenges, such as the next lamp post, next tree, next corner. As you do each one, the next one looks more achievable, and suddenly you’re at the top. And it works for journeys too. 20 miles is just 2 miles, 10 times. People say “I could never cycle 60 miles!”, but they might do 20 miles to elevenses, 20 miles to lunch, and 20 miles home again.

Finally, police are reporting many bike thefts, so encouraging us to lock up our bikes securely, even in the garage.

Do visit our websites: CycleHayling.org.uk and PortsmouthCTC.org.uk.

Which is safer: cycling or staying in?

This is the article we submitted for the June edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

Do you remember the first time you ever rode a bike? That magical moment when you stayed upright, just by moving? Most of us learnt as kids, of course.

But it’s never too late to recapture that moment. And never a better time than summer to do it!

More evidence that exercise is the best medicine. This time from Australia, where an extensive study has found indisputable evidence that exercise even helps cancer treatment and recovery.

“If exercise was a pill it would be prescribed to every cancer patient worldwide, and viewed as a major breakthrough in cancer treatment.”

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What’s the best thing about living on Hayling Island?

This is the article we submitted for the May edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

I’d say there’s nothing to beat cycling home over the bridge, with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. Try it! And if you commute off the island by car, why not try it with a split car-share?

What’s a split car-share? Car-sharing is great in theory, often easier in the morning, but much harder to co-ordinate coming home. So why not split it? Share in the morning, and put a folding bike in the boot to cycle home!

You’ll go green, cut traffic and get fit. And the money you save on the car will pay for the folding bike in no time. If riding over that bridge doesn’t put a broad smile on your face, then I’m afraid you are beyond help. See the rest of our web site for more info.

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Take the Cathedral Challenge

This is the article we submitted for the April edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

Spring has sprung! What better way to banish those winter blues and get fresh air and exercise than a bit of cycling?

Did you know Havant has one of the best cycle touring clubs in the country? If you have a bike and reasonable confidence riding on roads, our Cathedral Challenge rides are a great introduction.

They’re friendly, led by experienced ride leaders, and they’re not races – we don’t leave people behind. Last year our oldest rider was 84 and our youngest was 11.

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Save money – ride a bike you’ve serviced yourself

This is the article we submitted for the March edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

It’s common knowledge that cycling can boost your health. It’s 20 times more likely to benefit you than not. But it can also boost your wealth, by replacing car, bus or gym costs.

If you have a bike, you can start saving today. But even if you don’t, with new bikes starting from £100, it could pay for itself in no time.

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Time to get your bike ready for spring

This is the article we submitted for the February edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

Spring is not that far away. Will your bike be ready? Winter is tough on bikes, whether you ride them or they’re sitting idle. Rain and salt on the roads plays havoc with the chain, gears and other metal parts. Tyres go soft.

If you haven’t checked yours for a while, now is a good time to think about servicing it. It’s easier than ever to do it yourself. The Cycle Hayling website ‘Get Cycling‘ menu offers help, or you can use YouTube.

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Ride a bike to get fit and burn off some of those Christmas calories

This is the article we submitted for the January edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

A New Year, time for New Year Resolutions. Riding a bike is a great way to get fit for the new year, and burn off some of those Christmas calories.

Winter sales are a good time to pick up a bargain bike – don’t wait until spring. You really don’t need to spend a lot of money. For everyday cycling on a flat island, a cheap bike will get you there almost as fast. And you won’t be so worried about it being stolen.

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Hop on the Hayling Ferry with your bike

This is the article we submitted for the December edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

Congratulations to Colin Hill and the Hayling Ferry for winning Havant Small Business of the Year, and Greatest Contribution to the Community. Very well deserved.

A bike over the ferry is the perfect way to get to Portsmouth, and when I’ve used it recently, it’s always been full of cyclists. It’s a lovely ride along Hayling and Southsea sea fronts, and pretty safe.

A huge factor in its success has been sticking to the timetable, so you can be sure of making an appointment.

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Get on a bike and get in your smile-miles

This is the article we submitted for the November edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

Did anyone go to the Portsmouth Glow Ride in October? Hundreds of cyclists, from age 3 upwards, cycling along a Southsea seafront closed to traffic, just after sunset, with bikes lit up like Christmas trees. Lots of kids and families. Magical! Lots of smile-miles that evening. And back before the ferry stops. Do try it next year.

If you’d like to cycle around the island, but are put off by the busy roads, don’t assume you have to ride the same route you’d drive. Take a look at a street map. Hayling is crammed full of quieter roads that often run parallel to the ones we drive on. Quieter means safer, more enjoyable and more smile-miles.

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