Dynamo, Lancaster & District Cycle Campaign, brings you the first in a new series of articles which they hope will show that cycle commuting can be enjoyed by everybody – at all ages and speeds. Here Hilary Smith, an everyday cyclist who commutes from Lancaster to Heysham Nature reserve, advocates slow cycling
Cycling commuting does not have to be high speed, sweaty or stressful!
Being a lady in the Over 60s age group with a lifetime of using her bike as first choice of transport, I can recommend a slower speed with time to take in the scenery and wildlife, while still improving fitness.
Over the last three summers, a seasonal job at Heysham Nature Reserve running environmental activity days for families enabled me to enjoy some lovely cycle rides to and from work.
It is a journey of seven miles, taking around 40 minutes. It may be longer depending on the wind, and what there is to see on the way. Though it can take this long in a car if the traffic through Lancaster is bad.
I cycle from South Lancaster on my Isla Beinn bike loaded with a pannier of files, food, and, on the way home, some shopping. Not much lycra is needed, just padded shorts to make my otherwise comfy Brooks saddle even softer. With our usual Lancaster summer weather, a waterproof coat and over-trousers are occasionally needed.
Once over the Millennium Bridge on to the fantastic cyclepath towards Morecambe it is a fairly flat route and I favour turning off on to the cyclepath next to the river past The Golden Ball at Snatchems.
There are few people, dogs, children or other cyclists to avoid, so I can enjoy beautiful views of Clougha, Ingleborough, the Lune and, depending on the tide, birds to watch.
However, you have to check tides as the road does get flooded occasionally and you can end up with wet feet.
This route is a couple of miles shorter than staying on the cyclepath to Morecambe and then along the Promenade to Heysham village.
However, the downside is the main road to the port. But it is wide and smooth with an easy gradient so you can travel quite fast, and hopefully traffic can see you a long way ahead. In bad weather a high-viz waistcoat and lights are recommended.
There are some interesting trees and shrubs along the verge to take your mind off the traffic.
My other commutes around Lancaster: shopping, theatre, meal out, or swimming are always done on my 30-year-old Coventry Eagle, in civvies or even smart clothes. Lancaster is great for cycling once you get to know the cycle routes – shown on the excellent ‘Let’s Cycle Lancaster & Morecambe’ leaflet.
Slow cycling is cheap, no parking problems, it’s often quicker than driving, no expensive clothing and equipment is needed, just panniers for your shopping.
And remember, you can always get off and walk and take in the scenery!
Hilary Smith, Dynamo member