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.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016


L to R: Hector Blazquez Hernado and Luis Sancho Gonzalez
Cycle touring is not only a great way to see another country, but also to meet and get to know its people. One initiative that makes this even easier is a free worldwide hospitality exchange network called

Started in 1993 Warm Showers is run by volunteers and funded through voluntary donations. Numbers signing up have increased every year with over 25,000 registering in 2015. Currently there are 88,676 members and 38,419 hosts worldwide. 46% are based in Europe and 36% in North America.

Here’s how it works:

·         Cycle tourists and hosts sign up on the website for free.
·         Hosts indicate the type of accommodation offered and usually provide a little information about themselves.
·         An interactive map and search tools help travellers find hosts on their route.
·         Cycle tourists send a private message to potential hosts through the website.
·         Hosts let the enquirer know whether its convenient for them to stay on the night requested.

The hospitality offered is down to the host. It may be a couch or floor to sleep on, a bed for the night or somewhere to pitch a tent.  Some hosts offer an evening meal and breakfast, but its not expected. Unlike airbnb, hosts aren’t allowed to accept any payment. Its also expected that guests are true cycle tourists and don’t turn up in a car or by public transport.

The number of hosting requests you get tends to depend on whether you’re on a well-cycled ‘tourist’ route. We’ve been registered for 9 years and have probably only been able to host about half who have requested accommodation. In that time we’ve had an American on a European tour, a Chinese guy who cycled over for the London Olympics, a Spanish vet on a year long world tour and three Brazilians who cycled from Land’s End to Orkney one January as part of their training for a planned world circumnavigation through both poles using bikes and snowkites. We’ve just welcomed another two guests, Hector and Luis from Madrid. They flew into Birmingham, bought a couple of secondhand bikes and, over 4 days, cycled to meet up with a friend in Lynton, North Devon.

Way to go!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Bicycle maintenance

Bicycle maintenance 'M' check
Here’s a few facts that may surprise you. 42% of us own a bike.  In 2013 bike sales exceeded car sales by over a million. The British may still be well behind the Danish, Dutch and Germans, but cycle use has increased every year since 2008 meaning we now cycle more than the French. That said 63% of us haven’t cycled in the last 12 months.  There’s a lot of unused bikes in our sheds and garages!

As the weather improves and the British cycling team inspire us by winning yet more medals in the Tour De France and at the Rio Olympics perhaps more of you can be tempted to get your bike out and get some exercise in Worcestershire’s wonderful countryside.

If you do, it’s best to do a full bike check to make sure its safe and mechanically sound before you ride it.  The M-check is something we’ve covered before and is a useful way to make sure you check everything’s in working order. You can find details here  on the Sustrans website.

If there are problems you can’t fix and your bike needs repairing or a service here’s a list of local bike shops and mobile cycle mechanics you can take it to.

Barbourne Bicycles, 35 Barbourne  Road  Tel: 01905 729535
F Lewis Cycles, Arch 50, Farrier Street. Tel: 01905 26455
Onbike Ltd, 52-52 Upper Tything. Tel: 01905 611774 (electric bikes only)
Worcester Cycle Centre, 8 & 9 College Street. Tel :01905 611123

Back On Track, Unit 2, 6 North Malvern Road. Tel: 01684 565 777
Detour Cycles, 78 Worcester Road. Tel: 01684 891555
Malvern Cycles, 271 Worcester Road. Tel: 01684 577238

Echelon Cycles, 124 high Street. Tel: 01386 550606

Missing Link Bicycle Company, 2 Coleman Road. Tel: 01905 312567

Mobile Bicycle Mechanics
Cycle Worcester, 127 Columbia Road. Tel: 01905 429836
Daves Cycle Repairs, 24 Station Road, Fernhill Heath. Tel: 01905 454728
Happy Bike, 41 Ronkswood Hill. Tel: 07763 106847
Mobile Cycletech, 95 Droitwich Road. Tel: 01905 888333

Worcester Bicycle Repairs, 4 Lapal Close. Tel: 07402 663699
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