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

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Cycling for Charity

Every year thousands of people raise money for good causes through taking part in a charity bike ride.

Peter Atkinson, Dean of Worcester Cathedral, is one of them. He plans to cycle 1,000 kilometres around monasteries in Normandy to raise funds for The Friends of Worcester Cathedral. He’ll be following in the pedal strokes of Percy Dearmer, an English clergyman who cycled there in 1897 and subsequently published a travel book based on his journey. For more information and to sponsor ‘The Dean’s Challenge’ pick up a leaflet from Worcester Tourist Office or see

If you want to set yourself a challenge and raise funds for charity here’s details of several local charity rides you could sign up for. Most charge an entry fee and don’t involve raising sponsorship.

Sat 4 June - Get to the Rec A 100 mile ride from Worcester, through the Cotswolds to Bath supporting Acorns Children’s Hospice.

Sun 10 July – Worcester Classic Bike Ride Three 25, 60 and 100mile routes from the Worcester Warrior’s ground.

Sun 21 August – Severn Valley Cycle Challenge Supporting Acorns Children’s Hospice with 20 and 40 mile routes between Bridgnorth and Bewdley with a return on the Severn Valley Railway.  

Sun 4 September – The Elgar Vintage Ride offers a short family ride and 42 mile sportive starting in Malvern Link and supporting Motor Nurone Disease Association.

Sat 10 September – Ride and Stride Bear Grylls invites you to organise your own sponsored ride around local churches for the Worcestershire and Dudley Historic Churches Trust. Alternatively the ‘Towers and Spires’ leaflet (available from the Tourist Office or Cathedral) has 25 and 42 mile routes you could use.

Sun 11 September – Ride for Rory 18 and 36 mile family rides starting in Redditch to support Prostate Cancer surgery in Worcestershire.

Sun 16 October – Bredon Hill Bikeaway 8, 19 and 40 mile routes starting at Pershore College to raise funds for St John’s Ambulance. Date still to be confirmed. For information contact

To help you prepare for taking part in a charity ride, you’ll find lots of information available on the new Cycling UK website

Monday, 23 May 2016

Bikes on Trains (2)

Following on from our last article on the cycle policies of the Great Western and London Midland railways here’s a couple of suggestions for using their trains to explore quiet country lanes further away from Worcester.

Worcester to Oxford

The Cotswold Line Cycle Route (NCN 442) is the latest local addition to the 15,000 mile long National Cycle Network being developed by the national cycle charity Sustrans .

It’s a 75 mile route between Worcester and Oxford that roughly follows the main Worcester to London Paddington line operated by Great Western Railway.

Apart from a 6 mile stretch between Evesham and Honeybourne the route is already fully signed. It passes close to every railway station between Worcester and Oxford. The latter makes it an ideal route for combining a bike and train journey to cover the whole route over a couple of days or for completing sections over a few months.

Full details and downloadable maps are available from the Cotswold Cycling website

Worcester to Droitwich

Sustrans also have two signed routes between Worcester and Droitwich. NCN 45 heads north along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and then uses quiet lanes into Droitwich. NCN 46 takes a more westerly route through the racecourse and Claines.

You may want to join the two to form a 16 mile round trip, but if that’s too far you can use London Midland trains from (or back to) Foregate or Shrub Hill stations to create two great one way cycle routes, both about 8 miles long.

Worcestershire County Council has produced excellent maps of the first 20 miles of the Cotswold Line Route between Worcester and Evesham and the two routes between Worcester and Droitwich. Free printed copies are available at County Hall and may be available in local Tourist Information Centres and some of the independent cycle shops.

Along with the County’s increasing range of cycle maps they’re also available to download from the cycling section of their website  

Before travelling its important to check out the rail operators cycling policy. Either pick up a leaflet or ask at your local station or check out online at or

Monday, 18 April 2016

Bikes on Trains

Using a bicycle and train combination can offer a healthier, more pleasant and often cheaper and quicker way of getting to work or for leisure and holiday purposes.

Unfortunately each rail operator has different policies. To avoid potential problems pick up a copy of the latest ‘National Rail Cycling by Train’ leaflet from the station. Its also available to read and download at 

What prompted this article is the announcement that Great Western Railway is about to change its cycle policy.

Great Western Railway

From 16 May it will be mandatory to make a reservation on all their High Speed trains. Locally this means their faster trains operating on the London Paddington to Hereford route. You’ll need to make your reservation at least 2 hours before either by phoning 0345 7000 125 between 7am and 10pm or at a station ticket office.

Storage for six bikes will be in Carriage A where you’ll need to secure your bike with the strap provided, but not lock it. You’re also advised to tell the train manager your destination.

On their local trains there’s only space for 2 bikes and reservations can’t be made.  No bikes will be allowed on trains arriving at London Paddington Monday to Friday between 07.45 and 09.45 and departing 16.30 and 19.00.

London Midland

London Midland is the other main operator of trains through Worcester with services from Hereford to Birmingham and onward to Liverpool and London Euston.

Their policy is less complicated, but you can’t book a space in advance.  They accept two bikes on each train and if the train is quiet the Conductor may allow more.  The exception is services arriving in London Euston between 07.00 and 09.59 and departing from London Euston between 16.00 and 18.59 when no bikes are allowed.

The good news is that its free to take a bike on any train on the national network. There’s also no need to book and no restrictions on taking a fully folding bike such as a Bromptom.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

The Big Pedal

By the time children leave Worcestershire’s Primary Schools the latest statistics show that 30.5% are overweight (with 17.9% being obese). A healthy diet is obviously important, but a more active lifestyle is also critical if the health of the next generation isn’t going to worse than the last.

Experts say, to stay fit, children need at least an hour of moderately physical exercise a day. Cycling to school is a great way to help ensure this happens. In surveys a third of children say they’d like to, yet only 2% do.

The Big Pedal is a UK-wide inter-school cycling and scooting challenge that inspires pupils, staff and parents to choose two wheels for their journey to school.

Powered by Sustrans and funded by the Bike Hub, the 2016 challenge will run from 18 to 29 April and is open to individual classes as well as whole schools.

On each day of the challenge schools compete to see who can record the greatest number of pupils, staff and parents cycling or scooting to school. A school’s best five days will determine their final position, but they can log journeys on all ten days if they wish.

For schools unable to take part in the main challenge there’s also a one-day version, which can include cycling and scooting activities in the school day as well as on the journey to school.

To celebrate the finale of the challenge there is also the option to join a superhero fundraising day.
All schools will be entered into daily prize draws for rewards including bike and scooter stunt shows, equipment and storage if over 15% of your school cycle or scoot on each day of the challenge.

If you’re a pupil, parent teacher or governor and keen to encourage your school to take part, full information and resources for promoting the Big Pedal are available at
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