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TOPIC: Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 1

Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 1 30 Nov 2014 21:54 #548

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author
This post is a short introduction to a regular report on what it's like to bike on Enfields' streets. My aim? To give other potential bikers and the mothers and fathers of potential bikers an idea of what it's like.

Here's the story so far. After a gap of 30 years or more I've taken up cycling again. I would like to say that I was inspired by the Council's Mini-Holland bid, and I had been wishing that I could be part of a cycling renaissance, but the truth is that my next-door neighbour offered to lend me his newly acquired Dawes for a while which turned out to be very similar to the bike I had ridden all those years ago. I couldn't resist it.

Since then I've bought a new bike of my own - again a Dawes, but a more staid design as befits my 77 years - and have begun to get a modicum of fitness which so far has allowed me to complete round trips of 30 kilometres or so despite a four week break made necessary by a minor operation. I shall find considerably longer journeys perfectly within my reach; older people can get a lot out of it.

I shan't be dressing up for this, no helmet, no high visibility jacket during daylight. This is about being able to simply hop on a bike and use it conveniently and safely without fuss - basically I shall be a pedestrian on wheels which is how it must be if cycling is to become an everyday tool for local travel.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Clare Rogers

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 1 04 Dec 2014 12:32 #554

Paul Mandel Paul Mandel's Avatar
Really David. No helmet and light-coloured or fluorescent clothing. Perhaps you haven't read the Highway Code (rule 59). tut tut.

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 2 05 Dec 2014 21:01 #556

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author

And so I come to the magic moment in my recent return to cycling; that moment when I got my leg over - if you'll pardon the expression - the cross bar and saddle, and began to peddle. Well wobble actually ........... it was a very uncertain start.

That first Sunday afternoon I simply cycled around some of the local streets on the Lakes Estate; the ones which are quiet with little rat-running. I was pleased to have started, but less than pleased with my performance. Nevertheless it was a start, and over the next few days I promoted myself to Green Lanes with its traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, and roundabouts. Oh those roundabouts! What a mess I got into with the gears (on the frame of the bike as was the fashion when my borrowed bike was built) as I tried not to be too much of an inconvenience to drivers; courtesy works both ways.

Of course I had to give the bike back, but now another friend lent me his wife's bike - that's how it is on the Lakes Estate. What a revelation! It was heavier than the previous bike and a so-called woman's bike, but the advances in technology were amazing to me: the gear changes were now on the handle bar and wonderfully positive and easy to use, and the brakes, oh those brakes. So positive, so easy to was then that the decision was made: I would buy a bike of my own.

More about that next time. But the lesson I take from my experience is that, although time and age had robbed me of my earlier skills, enough remained for a new start. The rest soon joined them, and now I approach roundabouts with confidence, sure that I won't get in the way

If you don't cycle do try it. The traffic is unpleasant on Green Lanes and roads of a similar ilk, and on streets that have become rat-runs, but many streets are very pleasant, as are the routes through parks. And bear in mind that, although you might wish the noise and pollution of traffic to disappear, council officers assure us that Enfield's streets are safe and getting safer. What needs to change is the weight of traffic and its speed/acceleration...................and as the fruits of Mini-Holland become available you can play your part in change.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Clare Rogers

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 3 08 Dec 2014 21:51 #561

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author
To buy a bike of my own I needed help from someone who could interpret my cycling aspirations in the context the modern bike, and one of my wife's fellow football fans was just the man; experienced in the saddle and a collector of interesting older bikes. We went together to a fantastic shop where owner and customers all seemed to know everything about the local history of cycling, and many customers where more interested in rebuilding and preserving the wheels they already had than buying the latest thing.

But it was the latest thing I wanted, and I chose a bike from a manufacture's catalogue which looked very like the one I'm astride in the photo gracing(?) the previous installment of this venture into cycling. The exception was that the coloured flashes were maroon not yellow. Delivery to the shop would be in a few days time, and the shop owner would set it up to suit me. Job done?

Not quite. My wife - steeped in my ineptitude - wanted to see an image of this glamorous new machine and the following day headed for the website. Calamity!
The coloured flashes were red not maroon; and my wife - a Spurs fan to her core - could not, would not, tolerate Arsenal colours on our premises

Too late to prevent the shop ordering the bike from the manufactures, what could I do? Go on my knees to the shop owner having chosen a model one up in specification (more gears) and distinguished by yellow flashes, or look forward to a divorce? Well I wasn't anxious for a divorce, so I tried the former, and he agreed with scarcely a murmur - the more expensive bike would be ordered for me, and he hoped he could sell the other one.

And so it was. I bought the ancillary kit: pump, lights, high viz jacket, anti-theft locks, and rode the bike home. My exploration of the pleasures and pitfalls of modern urban roads could begin.

More about that shortly.

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle 10 Dec 2014 15:03 #565

Fabulous! I remember very well the feeling of getting back on a bike after more years off one than I care to remember - mine was also a Dawes as it happens, and a fine, solid machine it was too - and the initial wobbliness that gave way to the recollection of "this is how you do it". The feeling of freedom and ease of movement is wonderful, and as you say, Enfield has many green spaces and quieter roads on which to enjoy that.

Which shop provided your new lean machine if you don't mind saying, David? BikeBoutique is still sadly closed for refurbishment according to their sign, and I like the sound of these people as a local option if they're close to Palmers Green. Looking forward to further installments!

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle 11 Dec 2014 09:23 #566

Great series this - I've only just got round to registering on this website and I'm sorry not to have read the previous episodes earlier! Well done for getting back in the saddle. I need to blog about this more myself, but my constant frustration is that however easy I find it to replace car journeys with bike journeys when I'm on my own - as I'm doing increasingly - with my 2 primary school age daughters it's another matter. I don't feel they are safe wobbling along Green Lanes or Fox Lane, so the journey to school in Southgate is either on the pavement or we leave the bikes at home and get the bus. Roll on those cycle lanes - they can't come soon enough for us.

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 4 11 Dec 2014 17:20 #569

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author
Hello Holly and Clare. Good to hear from two followers of the cycling trail.

No more stories and comments just yet; just a couple of bits of information.

Holly I'm sorry my bike shop is not near Palmers Green, it's about a half to three quarters of an hour cycling ride away on the east side of Mill Hill. It was pure luck that my mentor took me there because I garden for a friend nearby so it has been very convenient. However, whether it will remain convenient is a mute point because repair/maintenance is a very different issue to purchases. This matters because there is no chance that I will do more than change the batteries in the lights.

For the record the name of bike shop is CycleLife which is situated on Brittacy Hill. You can find it on the web, although it's not its own website. Which brings me to BikeBoutique because I tried it before I was rescued by my wife's football friend. I was not impressed by their efficiency because they failed to ring me back, but it wasn't long before they began their renovations so that could be part of the explanation. Your further comments would be welcome if you've had good service from them.

Clare's comments on the safety of the through routes are important because they touch on the experience and feelings of many a local parent. At the first consultation meeting about the Fox Lane Quieter Neighbourhood the senior member of Council staff who made the presentation said that Enfield's road are statistically safe, and getting safer, and I believe him. The problem is that the swish of a car passing, of many cars passing, at speed is very unpleasant and threatening sound, which deters me never mind a mother worrying about her children (I'll write about it soon). This unconscious intimidation has to stop, and personally I think an enforced default 30kph (20mph) speed limit would do most to encourage confidence.

Anyway good luck to both of you; I hope you're enjoying your cycling as much as I am.

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle 13 Dec 2014 22:12 #577

The last two bike maintenance/repair jobs I've had done were at Skate Attack on Green Lanes in PG. It wasn't a fast service as they needed to order parts but it was good value and did the job.

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