Reach Ride: report from the Front

This article was published in 2018, in Newsletter 138.

Assembling at the Guildhall

I arrived with Roxanne a little before 9am at the Guildhall and already there was the King’s Lynn Bicycle User Group waiting for us, and one or two others. From this point onwards it got increasingly busy until the departure time.

Directing cycles in Reach.
Image as described adjacent

Most of my time was taken up with welcoming people to the ride, handing out leaflets and explaining the map and the event to first timers. The rest of the time was spent fitting tubes to bikes and inserting flags. I think all the tubes got used up and I ran out of cable ties. I resisted giving Camcycle flags to those who did not know the route, but it was good to have a few of the novelty flags for others, and those did not need such a long pole.

There were more riders than ever before at the start, yet despite this we did not have a problem with market stall vans. It was a good job we got there early, though, to stop them parking on the paved area in front of the Guildhall. The marshals did a good job of creating space for the one or two van drivers who did need to get through.

Nobody could hear what the mayor, George Pippas, was saying! The actual moment of departure always feels a little bit low key, at least to me from the position out in front. I rang my bell a few times.

The ride is forced into single file at the Victoria Avenue underpass, and after that it is really stretched out. There was the marvellous sight of well over 100 riders waiting for us at Green Dragon Bridge.

There was a smaller number at Newmarket Road Park & Ride. Perhaps we need to get a clearer rendezvous point there, as this time they were waiting for us on the footway on the entrance road, which is not ideal. I’d say that it is best for them to be by the Jubilee Cycleway bike arch.

The five-minute break at Quy

Just before the crossing by Quy church the road is wide and I stopped the ride for a five-minute rest. This is usually well appreciated by the riders and with my nieces we handed out some water bottles to grateful riders. Perhaps we should include the stop on the leaflet so that folk are prepared for it. The stop breaks the ride and confirms that it is a gently paced ride, not in a hurry to get to Reach Fair. It also gives people a chance to make adjustments to the bike or what they’re wearing.

Bottisham

I was delighted to see a lemonade stall here -apparently it was there last year but I didn’t notice. I hear they ran out pretty quickly. Great signage here.

Arrival

I arrived at about 11.40am and remained at the cross roads until after 1pm to welcome everyone and direct them to the cycle park.

A few people did not want to leave their bikes in the cycle parking area and went off to find space elsewhere. Robin showed me the figure of 1,092 cycles counted at the event. Very pleasing.

Returning

Return to the Guildhall.
Image as described adjacent

We didn’t have that many set off on the 2pm return. I expect this was because many wanted to stay longer at the fair.

On the way back along Little Fen Drove there were four cars who had driven past the Road Closed sign. I gave them short shrift, and gestured to them to stop, and this was the least pleasant aspect of the event. The Reach Fair website says the road is closed except for pedestrians and cyclists. I think that contact should be made with them to check the status of the road closure as it may not be official.

We had a long stop at Bottisham to wait for more cyclists to join the return posse, but no real clump came that way. I don’t know how many used the alternative route via Quy.

Seven of us made it to the Guildhall at 15.55 for a returnees’ photo. Later on Chris the mechanic, Roxanne and Steve joined us.

It was very worthwhile having the mechanics with us. It has been good to read the thank you’s on social media and the emails coming in. It’s really great that so many people get involved.

Simon Nuttall