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.

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 and PortsmouthCTC.org.uk.

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