30 August 2012

Mystery is over: Dinosaur cycle parking

I installed this new bike parking in my front yard this afternoon.

It’s a topiary diplodocus: one of the props from the much-admired York Mystery Plays, which finished last Monday. At the after-show party on Tuesday they auctioned off some of the props, which included a set of topiary animals depicting Creation: elephant, snake, shark, unicorn etc.

(Diplodocid sauropods are not specifically mentioned in Genesis, true, which is one of the reasons I was keen to have it.)

And cycling was a part of Mysteries (just as it was part of the Olympic opening ceremony, with those dove bikes). During the Creation scene, angels on bikes whirled in and out of the hedgy megafauna, harvesting fruit in their baskets.

The bikes were auctioned off at the end of the party, too, perhaps offering an alternative to that taxi home for some.

So now, when I invite some of my fellow thesps from the show, they’ll have somewhere familiar to put their bikes when they come for dinner.

24 August 2012

Decorated at the Olympics: Weybridge's bike sculptures

Legacy was a keyword for the Olympics, and Weybridge has celebrated its inclusion in the Cycling Road Race route by putting up some entertainingly decorated bikes at various points, apparently as legacy sculptures.

Here are some at one roundabout we passed (pictures) while I was leading a leisure ride earlier this week.

We stopped for a group photo, pretending to ride the bikes. I nearly got flattened by a lorry mounting the roundabout as I took the snap.

I don’t want to address the question of my own personal legacy in detail just yet, thank you.

Decorated bikes are even at Brooklands, the historic motor racing circuit and museum, just up the road (picture).

And some locals have even done their own bike installations in tribute to the cycling racers (picture).

Or perhaps it’s the only way they can beat the bike-shed thieves.

01 August 2012

Ten Top Yorkshire cycling experiences

It's Yorkshire Day, so here's Ten Top Cycling Experiences in Yorkshire. (That's PROPER Yorkshire, not the post-1974 boundary-meddling nonsense.)

1 Spurn Head
One of Britain's strangest rides: four miles along a windswept sand spit, sometimes no wider than a York cycle lane, to a remote community of austere beauty.

2 Swaledale
A glorious downhill that cuts through sheepy hills and delightful villages such as Keld and Muker and Reeth – the pubs aren't bad either. Entry via Buttertubs Pass (right) is not always flat

3 Scarborough-Whitby railtrail
The views on this coastal cinder-track marvel, particularly from Ravenscar to Whitby via Robin Hood's Bay, stop you in your tracks. As does the often bad surface – you need a mountain bike

4 Humber Bridge
The world's longest single-span suspension bridge that you can cycle over. A thing of wonder – as in, I wonder if it'll ever be paid for

5 York
Probably England's cyclingest city outside Cambridge. Pedestrianised centre is a pain but lovely cycle paths by the river and sometimes under it, a fabulous Millennium Bridge, city-wall gates to cycle through, and a scale model of the planets!

6 Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge
One of a handful in the world: fly across the Tees with your bike for 70p on a cross between a ferry, bridge, tennis court and coat hanger

7 Way of the Roses
Almost all in Yorkshire, this varied and often challenging three-day coast-to-coast takes you from Morecambe, in somewhere called Lancashire, to Bridlington on the seabird coast

8 The North York Moors
A trekker's micro-alpine gem, with flattish offroad tracks criss-crossing the moortops. Lunch at Blakey Inn and climb Rosedale Chimney, officially England's steepest road climb

9 Dentdale
Cycle-camp in the quintessential Dales town of Dent. Explore the Three Peaks and Cam High Road, an astonishing Roman-road bridleway that gunbarrels its way straight over the hills

10 Five Rise Locks
The steepest hill on Britain's canal towpaths? Hurtle (carefully) down by the famous staircase-lock marvel at Bingley, and explore the post-industrial world of Saltaire and Leeds from the saddle.

Happy Yorkshire Day!