Sunday, 15 January 2017

Bikes for Children

Bikes are often on the present wish-list, but as children grow so quickly its often tempting for parents to buy a cheap one. Unfortunately cheap bikes are poorly made and often as heavy as an adult bike. This means they don’t last and are difficult for a child to learn on and use. As a result they often end up unused and rusting before being consigned to the tip.

From the age of around three, there are several ways for your child to develop and gain confidence before going solo on two wheels. Trikes are a good way to get used to pedalling without having to learn to balance. Tag-alongs, attached to the back of an adult bike, are great when you want to take children along on a ride with you. Balance bikes, with no pedals, help a child to learn how to balance and steer without having to worry about pedals and gears.

At some point however your child will need to learn how to cycle a ‘proper’ bike. Stabilisers are often attached to a child’s first bike, but they can delay them learning how to balance the bike so, if used, gradually raise them off the ground as they get more confident.

The national cycling charity, Cycling UK, provide a useful guide to buying bikes for children but here is a quick summary of their top tips:

·        Buy a bike that fits your child now.
·        Make sure its not too heavy.
·        Suspension is dead weight and unnecessary.
·        More gears aren’t better.
·        Semi-slick tyres make the bike easier to pedal.
·        Handlebars should be higher than the saddle.
·        Brakes should be easy to use.
·        Cheap bikes are a false economy.

Islabikes and Frog Bikes make some of the best children specific bikes. The former can be test driven at their Ludlow HQ.  Several of the local independent bike shops stock or supply the latter.

Cycling on DVD

Cycling DVDs

Here’s a quick round up of recent cycling films and documentaries that make good stocking fillers for the cycling enthusiast in your life. You should be able to pick most of them up for under a tenner.

The Program. Certificate 15 (2016)

A bio-drama based on the Lance Armstrong doping scandal and how it was revealed by the Sunday Times journalist David Walsh (Chris O’Dowd).  The film chronicles Armstrong’s career from fighting cancer, to his racing successes and eventual downfall when his cheating and lying is finally exposed. Ben Foster plays a very convincing Armstrong.

On Yer Bike: A History of Cycling. (2015)

This is a 2 DVD historical collection of British cycling on film. Produced by the British Film Institute it features entertaining short dramas, animations, advertisements, newsreel items, and public information films with clips dating from 1899 to 1983.

Bicycle. (2014)

Why is the bicycle back in fashion? This documentary film explores this and tells the story of cycling in the land that invented the modern bicycle, it's birth, decline and re birth from Victorian origins to today. Covering topics like bicycle design, sport and transport it includes interviews with cycling notables such as Chris Hoy, David Brailsford and Gary Fisher.  There’s even a sequence of Chris Boardman at Echelon Cycles, Pershore.

Other cycling DVD’s released in the last 4 years include:

Cycling with Moliere. Certificate 15 (2014) French with English subtitles

The Kid With a Bike. Certificate 12 (2012) French with English subtitles

Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist. Certificate 15 (2014)

Janapar: Love, on a Bike. Certificate 15 (2013)

Mark Cavendish: Born to Race (2012)

Bicycle Movies Vol 1: The Short Film Collection. (2012)

Bicycle Movies Vol 2: The Last Kilometer/Moon Rider/Severn Deserts.  (2014)

Saturday, 12 November 2016

The Worcester Whirlwind

Worcester celebrates Ernest Payne, the local cyclist who won gold at the 1908 London Olympics.  But there is another ‘Worcester’ cyclist who, 9 years earlier, became world champion and held seven world track cycling records.

Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor was born in Indiana in 1878. His father worked as coachman for a wealthy local family. Aged 12 his father’s employers gave him a bike. He quickly became such an expert trick rider that a local bike shop paid him to perform stunts wearing a soldier’s uniform - hence his nickname ‘Major’.

 Marshall won his first race aged only 13 and by 15 he’d beaten the one-mile track cycling record, before being barred from his local track because of his colour. A year later he won his first big road race, but after racial threats and being banned from competing in Indiana he moved north to a more racially tolerant Worcester, Massachusetts.

In 1896, aged 18, Taylor turned professional and was soon known as ‘The Worcester Whirlwind’. President Roosevelt was one of his biggest supporters.

Over a six-week period, in 1899, he set seven world track cycling records and went on to become world champion after completing a mile from a standing start in 1min 41secs - a record unbroken until1927.  In doing so, Taylor became the first African-American world cycling champion and only the second black man to win a world championship in any sport.

Taylor participated in a European tour in 1902 winning 40 of his 57 races and beating the English, French and German champions. He was still breaking world records when Ernest Payne won his Olympic gold in 1908, but retired in 1910 aged 32.

Earning up to $30,000 a year by the time he returned to Worcester at the end of his cycling career, Taylor lost it all in bad investments before dying a pauper in 1932, aged 53.

Worcester’s US twin town, Worcester, Massachusetts, still commemorate his achievements. In 2006 they renamed one of the City’s main streets Major Taylor Boulevard and in 2008 a statue (see photo) was erected in his honour in front of their Public Library.

Date for your Diary

Push Bike! produces an annual What’s On Guide to cycling events around  Worcestershire. This year we highlighted and helped to promote over 60 events. The majority have already taken place, but there's one that may tempt you to get your bike out, take some exercise and enjoy the County’s wonderful countryside.

Sunday 13 November – RIDE IT Malvern Hills Sportive

A new event that’s being organised by Evans Cycles. It starts form Worcester Racecourse and has a choice of 30, 45 and 70 mile routes.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Cycle to Work Day

cycle commuting

Wednesday 14 September is Cycle to Work Day. You’ll find further information at , but here’s a few top tips for negotiating traffic safely.

Leave that lorry alone 
Never undertake a lorry on the left, especially at a junction and even if there’s a cycle lane. If you do you’ll be in the driver’s blind spot and if the lorry turns you have no escape.

Make eye contact
Making eye contact with other road users, particularly at junctions and roundabouts is a good way of checking the driver has seen you.

Look over your shoulder
Regularly check what’s happening behind you. Always look behind before signaling or changing your road position.

Look ahead
Look well ahead for hazards such as potholes and parked cars, so you don’t have to suddenly swerve to avoid them. It also helps in prepare and position yourself safely for junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights.

Get out of the gutter!
Cycle at least 1 metre from the kerb and further out if its not safe for a vehicle to pass. In this position you’re more visible to drivers, you avoid hazards such as debris, potholes and grates and it’s easier to get out of harm’s way if a vehicle passes too close.

Don’t be floored by car doors
Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened.

Make your intentions clear
Signal and manoeuvre well in advance and only when its safe to do so. Keep a central position in your lane so vehicles can’t undertake too closely on the left.

Cover your brakes
Keep your hands on your brake levers, so you’re always ready to use them. Always use both brakes at the same time. Take extra care when it is wet or icy.

When dark or there is bad visibility you must, by law, have lights on the front and rear of your bike.

As its often cheaper, quicker and certainly healthier to commute by bike rather than car hopefully more will be tempted to give it a try on 14th September.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Teme Valley Cycle Routes

Over the spring Push Bike! has been working with Malcolm Salisbury, Economic Development Officer for Malvern Hills District Council and Andy Stevenson from Worcester University’s Graphic Design Department to pull together and check out six new family friendly cycle rides in and around the Teme Valley.

The rides start at Stamford-on-Teme, Martley, Bransford, Tenbury Wells, Pencombe and Cleobury Mortimer. They vary in length from 5.5 to 8.5 miles and have been carefully selected to use quiet, scenic lanes, include various local attractions and either a café or pub en route for vital refreshments.

Lecturer Andy Stevenson and his graphic design students have done a brilliant job to prepare six very user friendly and well-illustrated route sheets for each ride. These include an annotated map, a route profile, clear direction notes and factual information on local places of interest that will be passed.

The cycle routes, together with six walking trails, will supersede the Council’s existing leisure drive guide. The ‘Teme Valley Tour Guide’ is available free from tourist information centres, libraries, and other public outlets. It can also be downloaded from the Malvern Hills District Council tourism website

The paper guide will be complemented on-line by downloadable cycling (and walking) routes to print off as A4 PDF files or transferring to mobile devices such as phones and i-pads. In the longer term its planned to provide GPX and KML files so the routes can be followed on GPS enabled smart phones and navigation devices.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

"The Worcester Wonder"

Ernest Payne was born on 23 December 1884 at 221 London Road. Payne worked in the City as a carpenter. 

In 1902 “Ernie” started his amateur cycling career as a grass-track racer. In his first season he won 13 of his 14 races, coming second in the other. By June 1903 ‘The Cyclist’ magazine had already christened him ‘The Worcester Wonder”.  About that time he joined Worcester St John’s Cycling Club and trained with his brother Walter on their grass-track circuit at Boughton Park.

He continued to compete until 1910, winning more than 150 races at regional, national and British Empire championships. It is however the Olympic gold medal he won, when only 23, that he’s most famous for.

In 1908 the Olympic Games were held in London. By then Ernie had moved on to cycling on banked velodromes and was a member of the Great Britain squad.  The team pursuit took place over three 660 yard laps of the White City Stadium. Ernie made up the four-man team with Benjamin Jones, Clarence Kingsbury and Leonard Meredith.

Their first race was a walkover when the Belgium team failed to show. In the semi-final they beat Canada (who went on to win bronze) by 9.6 seconds in a time of 2mins 29.6 seconds. In the final Payne led the team to a 10 second victory over the Germans in a blistering 2mins 18.6 seconds.

Payne also competed individually in the 660 yard, 5,000 metre and sprint events. He managed to get to the semi-finals in all three, but was unsuccessful in winning another medal.

Ernest Payne died on 10 September 1961 aged 76. The Worcester Evening News reported his death, but made no mention of his Olympic success. His gold medal was lost whilst serving as a motorcycle dispatch rider in France during WW1, but a replica can be seen at the City Museum and Art Gallery. The statue of him, on the St John’s side of the ‘new’ Diglis cycle and footbridge, is also a fitting tribute to his achievements.

Here’s hoping the GB squad in Rio can add to the 8 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals they won at the last London Olympics in 2012.
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