Monday, 20 June 2011

Cycle to Sunrise Festival - Our Winners account

We recently gave away some tickets to Sunrise festival, our Winner Gary Bee cycled from Cheddar as part of his prize, read his brilliant account below. 

Cheddar, Somerset to Sunrise Festival! Nr Bruton, Somerset

It was Wednesday and tomorrow, Sunrise Festival was starting in a field near Bruton in Somerset. My friend was driving to Bath so i hitched a lift with him to Cheddar and decided to camp in the gorge there for the night.

We woke up in the morning, looked out the window and WOW! It was so beautiful, we drank tea and went for a climb up the cliffs to the top to look at it from above and admire the views...I can’t begin to describe how beautiful it is up there, here are the photos.

 I looked down the gorge at the road that swerves beautifully down to the village and thought how wicked it would be to bomb it down it on my bike and when we got back down to the van looked at the map to see how far it would be to cycle to the festival from Cheddar. It was about 22 miles. It was a beautiful sunny day. Game on!

I made a small bag of food and water, drank another tea and said chou chou to my friend as he headed off to Bath. Strapped my bag to my bike and off I went we had camped near the highest point in the gorge and the ride down to the village was fantastic!

Cycling at high speeds round the bends....weeeeee!! It was so cool...I would have been happy as Larry just to stay there for the day going up and down the gorge! But I had a festival to get to! So off I went.
At the bottom of the gorge was the village of Cheddar which had a lovely feel to it, there were caves to explore and some lovely old cottages and ponds, with the huge cliffs of the gorge to set the backdrop.

 I hit the main road on the other side of the villiage and headed to Wells.
The ride to Wells was rather pleasant; the road was smothered with the wonderful smell of fresh elderflower practically all the way! The ride was a nice steady set of rolling hills with a good view over Somerset and Glastonbury Tor sitting pretty on the horizon. I thought it would take a long time to get to Wells but when I was thinking i was maybe about half way there was the sign welcoming me to the city! Awesome!

I realised that it was going to be a lot quicker ride than i had anticipated, so i decided i had plenty of time to stop in Wells, be a tourist and have some lunch!
I decided to head straight to the cathedral as i thought there would be plenty of space and hopefully some grass around there to sit on so I cycled through the city keeping my eye on the spire as my guiding light.

 I ventured onward towards the spire but before we got to the cathedral I found a castle! wow! there was a castle in Wells! And it had a moat! A moat! It was very beautiful! And there were swans! But you had to pay to get in through the gate, and i didn’t have a battle ram or catapult, so I went on to the cathedral. There was plenty of grass there for me to chill out on for a while.

The Cathedral was big and Cathedral-like with a huge green in front surrounded by quaint little cottages. It was a great place for lunch!

I decided from Wells I would go via Shepton Mallet to the festival, and after a good hour of relaxing in the sunshine me and my trusty steed took to the road!
The road out of Wells was a bit new and wide with fast cars, which was a bit disappointing and I thought maybe it would be like that until Shepton Mallet but it was no more than a mile before being back on the windy country roads I love! There weren’t many hills on this bit of road and it followed up through a woody valley most of the way. It felt completely different to the first part of the journey between Cheddar and Wells which was quite open with good views; Wells to Shepton Mallet was more of a cosy ride through a valley. Both were delightful in different ways.

When I arrived at Shepton Mallet I decided not to stop but to carry on through onto the festival. I went through the town and stopped on a nice bench on the other side so that I could have a little water before carrying on. After Shepton Mallet the road opened up again and there was a nice steady downhill run for a few miles on the way to Bruton with views across the fields. Until now there were no hills that I’d found particularly challenging but in front of me there was a massive one! My legs wept! But I was up for it!! And with determination and enthusiasm I made it at least half way (!) before getting off and walking! It was steep and long!

But, there was a festival nearby and I knew I wasn’t that far now! (though I did wonder how many more hills like this there were on the other side of the hill before the festival!!) I finally arrived at the top of the hill, and, at the top of every BIG hill, you must never forget, there is a BEAUTIFUL view!! I looked back across in the direction I came...I could see for miles!! It was like a prize for conquering the hill!

I cycled a little further and came to a junction and decided to stand on a gate to see if i could see the festival from my hilltop view...and there it was!! Sunrise Festival!! YES!!! But there was one big valley between me and the festival! No problem!

 I decided to go freestyle and risk getting lost on the country lanes thinking that the contours looked easier if i went around the valley on the ridge of the hills, it felt good inside so off i went down some farm lane with an optimistic smile! And it turned out perfect!! There was one hill on that route but it was not even a fraction as challenging as the previous! I rode for another half hour getting a peek of the festival through the gaps in the hedge every now and then; getting bigger and bigger, closer and closer!! And HEY PRESTO!! TA DAAAAAA!! I arrived!!! SUNRISE FESTIVAL

Party time was about to begin!!! ....but that’s another story!!!

Many Thanks again for getting me to Sunrise 2011, Cycling Somerset.  The experience of cycling there has made it extra special and something I will certainly never forget! It was a wonderful way to start the festival!! And I want to do more adventurous rides now!! Thanks and thanks again!!


Would you cycle to a Festival,or have you done in the past? we'd love to hear from you. 

Friday, 10 June 2011

Get Bike Week off to a flying start with a free service!

Bike Week will soon be here (19th-27th June) and we've had a fantastic offer from local mechanic DC Cycleworks to get your bike in tip-top condition - free servicing for 20 bikes at your workplace*!

Ace mechanic Dereck Cutler will come to your workplace for a day or half-day on Monday 20th June and will service your bicycles for free while you are at work.  It's an excellent offer because a service in a bike shop would usually cost £25-30 per bike.

If you'd like to request Dereck to come to your workplace, please add a comment to this post, telling us:
  • Your name and contact details
  • Whether you would like Dereck to come for a full day or half day (see below)
  • The name and address of your workplace - please note this MUST be in Somerset only!
  • A couple of lines about why Dereck should come to your place!
We will do a draw from the entries received at 4pm on Thursday 16th June.

Here's the other things you need to know:
  • You must ensure you have enough people to take part in the servicing - a minimum of 9 people for a half day, 18 people for a full day. You will need to send us a list of  participants by Friday 17th June.
  • You must ensure you have an agreed space for Dereck to work in. This can be inside or outside, provided it is on a level surface and (if outside) can accommodate a gazebo measuring 3m x 3m.
  • *The way it usually works is that people all drop their bikes off to Dereck first thing in the morning and collect them in the afternoon. This is why it tends to suit workplaces as people are in one place for a long time. We will be happy to consider other venues (e.g. schools, clubs) where this is also the case - please contact us if you want to discuss.
  • Please make sure your proposed venue is in Somerset!

Dereck bringing a dodgy bike back to life!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Cycling Clothes for Women: Part 1 (Mountain biking)

This week, I had to face the fact that my trusty old mountain biking shorts are no longer trusty - just old. I'd been trying to ignore this fact to put off facing the ultimate test of endurance... trying to find some decent women's cycling clothing.

I can't understand why this is so difficult. I appreciate that the proportion of women mountain biking is small compared to men, but there are some of us out there and the popularity is growing. Yet the range of women's clothing stocked in bike shops seems to be incredibly small and almost always consists of the same 3 options:
1) Something in tight lycra
2) One pair of freeride shorts in black, size XL, that are basically mens shorts
3) Something with flowers embroidered on them*.

I don't think I'm particularly fussy. My requirements are:
  • Not Lycra
  • Not neon
  • Made of decent, hardwearing material
  • Fit properly (for women)
  • Distinguishable from mens shorts by something other than the addition of flowers
Thats still leaves a fair bit to play with, I would have thought, so why the dearth of options? There are loads more options for men, and they are far less picky than women! A quick look at Chain Reaction (large online retailer) lists 60 baggy short options for men and just 6 for women.

Ideally, I would prefer to try and buy from an actual shop than an online retailer if possible, but I haven't found anything local with a decent selection. I went along to Six Cycles' women's evening in Taunton last week to see if I could find something there. They are nice guys and had gone to lots of effort to make the place welcoming to women (free wine and nibbles!) but unfortunately the clothing range was still rather limited.

Until I uncover my Somerset Eden of women's cycling clothing, I think I'm going to have to stick to the online options. For any other women out there looking for some decent suppliers of non-hideous mountain bike shorts, I suggest the following:
Any other suggestions would be gratefully received!

*I had to laugh at Helen Pidd's review of the Apollo Haze women's hybrid in Thr Guardian a couple of weeks ago, in which she said "When it arrived, I thought they had sent me a child's bike by accident. How many grown women would really choose a metallic lilac number with tacky flowers transferred on to the frame?". I feel the same way about cycle shorts.