The old bike is all about transport, but not only that. It is also about being on the road together, a mild and friendly form of community. This is why we organise an annual bike ride to Reach Fair. It is a great way to get to the historic village, and to meet friendly cyclists on the way. The distance is about right (twelve miles there, fifteen back), it is very flat and it is mostly on cycleways and quiet roads. Without really trying most should easily arrive within two hours having enjoyed the riverside in Cambridge, the back route suburbs alongside Newmarket Road, riding past the airport runway approach, the open views of the country and passing through the villages on the way to Reach.
For the third year running we'll be led from the Guildhall by the Mayor of Cambridge. Cllr Sheila Stuart will start us off, and she has to be at Reach by noon to proclaim the fair open. Her fellow councillors and executive officers throw pennies to the poor villagers and children love to scramble to get as many as they can. The village springs to life with children dancing around a maypole, the music of morris dancing, fairground rides and a variety of tents throng with people buying food and ale.
Hundreds of other cyclists are there too having also chosen to ride from the neighbouring villages without any goading either from us, or presumably anyone else. Over the years we've been working on this bike ride it has developed from the original 20 / 50 idea, which offered two rides, to the fair or all the way to Ely and back. Since the new bridge opened over Swaffham Bulbeck lode that has offered an attractive circular route back to Bottisham and so we've decided to focus on and enjoy the fair as the main event.
As mass organised rides go this is about as simple as it can be for you the potential rider. It is not a charity ride, there is no registration, no fee and all you need is a roadworthy bike, water and food. We spend months planning the event, designing the leaflet and telling the various authorities that it is happening. Finally we ride the route a few days in advance and cut back branches and sweep up any sharps we notice on the way. We even established an ethos that says that no motor vehicles are used in the planning or execution of the event, see the newsletter article.
This year we're using the Cambridge Cycling City brand to promote the event to acknowledge that it is a joint operation between the Campaign, local councils and business. Full details of the ride are at cambridgecyclingcity.org.
If you want to help with the recce ride please sign up here