Perils of the Road - Swindon Wheelers - Presented by Paul Wood (Novice Section leader) and Howard Beane
Swindon Wheelers formed in 1923, making them one of the oldest clubs around, always welcoming new members and taking the club forward in this exciting age for cycling they Currently have around 162 members.
Each weekend they lead rides across Wiltshire and the neighbouring counties with four groups to support everyone from beginners to the most experienced. Some members compete in time trials, sportive, audax rides, cyclo cross events and other competitions. The world is going cycling madand Swindon Wheelers have also taken trips to ride as groups in the French Alps and the Pyrenees.
Paul opened the show by declaring ‘Drivers don’t like cyclists; but we should all use the road in harmony’
The attitude and education of road harmony is different in other countries; Belgium has TV cycling adverts, showing how cyclist should act responsibly on the road and how drivers should leave a 1.5m gap between vehicle and cyclist. Other countries also have rules and laws to protect cyclists. The UK does not.
Cycling has many benefits:
· For enjoyment
o Opens up the mind
· For health
o Cardio Vascular exercise
o Every week 50-60 riders meet up for a ride out
o 4 groups
§ Novice 40 miles
§ Novice + 50 miles
§ Intermediate 60/65 miles
§ Fast 70/80 miles
o Always meet at same café before return ride home.
· Exploring countryside
o Visits out to the Cotswolds
o South Downs
o Time Trials,
§ 10 mile/25 mile etc
o Road racing
o Sportives – 3 distances, 40, 60, 100 Mile ride outs
Bikes can vary in price, a reasonable bike can be obtained for as little as £250, Paul's Carbon example retails at around £2500 but serious completion cycles are around £11,000. The ‘cycle to work’ scheme has encouraged many bikes to be sold at around £100 to £1500.
The stiffness of carbon fibre soled shoes ensure maximum energy is transferred through the sole to the pedal and clip systems lock the shoe to the pedal so cyclists can push down and pull up on the pedal.
Helmets again vary in price, a pro system costing around £400 – 500
Lycra is worn to ensure excess clothing material does not act as a ’parachute’ at speed and some cyclists do shave legs to ensure dirt is not trapped in any cuts and grazes.
Spares and tools, Cyclist will carry; First aid kit. Space blanket, money, inner tube, pump, energy bars
Lights, (some of which can now exceed the lumens output of most cars!!), Swindon Wheelers contact card and cycle medic card.
Routes and Training
All ride leaders are British Cycling Federation trained to cover most eventualities. Including 1st Aid and Route planning and Riding skills. All riders start in the club in the Novice group and cannot move up to other groups until various road disciplines have been demonstrated including, Tuition of riding in groups, Communications, Wheel positioning, riding in pairs (outside rider always slips behind) and signalling.
Car drivers seem to assume cyclists can hear them, this is not always the case. When cyclists have to move avoid potholes and drains drivers do not appreciate what they are doing. This causes issues and abuse from some drivers.
Ride leaders determine routes per group and consider weather conditions 24hours before; tThey will not ride in fog. They tend to ride LH loops to avoid RH turns and crossing vehicle path.
Cycle paths are sometimes used, however, if they have not been designed by cyclists they have obstacles such as kerbs and are often populated by pedestrians and dogs on extended leads.
Cyclists when riding in line/group will use various hand signals to communicate between then to indicate turn left, turn right, slow down, pothole, obstruction, hazard horses etc.
The standards of roads cause many issues for cyclist with thin tyres. These are typical for those of us who are motorcycle riders too. Namely Pot holes, ruts, track repairs, trench repairs, mud, leaves, ice, Diesel and gravel. And of course weather conditions play a significant effect on the road, fog, wind rain , ice etc.
Relationships with other road users vary. Horse riders are generally friendly. Runners have similar ideas. Today, lorry drivers are more professional and offer good width between cycle and lorry
Car Drivers in general seem to have no respect for others; often hurling abuse to each other and may not consider another persons’ point of view. Some deliberately slow down to affect cyclists, spray washers and close space down, particularly at junctions.
Note: it was indicated that cyclist will progress up along the LH side of vehicle at junctions.
Paul concluded the roads are to be used in harmony and that Swindon Wheelers do all that they can to try and alleviate any issues.