Well, Bike Week in Portsmouth has drawn to a close and what a great week it has been! The rides have been excellent and varied although the weather could have been worse!
Last Sunday a good crowd visited several food growing projects across the city. The Charter Academy had a beautiful and flourishing garden. The Landport community garden demonstrated that if you are a flat dweller you don’t have to have an enormous allotment in order to grow your own fruit and veg – they have a number of small plots in raised beds. The Porter’s Garden at the Historic Dockyard provided an oasis of calm and beauty. The ride was organised by Portsmouth Friends of the Earth who had produced a leaflet especially for the ride.
Monday evening was wet and windy so it was rightly decided not to cycle down to the seafront for ice cream. Steaming hot tea was the order of the day.
On the dot of 8.30am on Bike2Work day (Tuesday) 18 cyclists from the University of Portsmouth set off from Eastney swimming pool battled against a headwind along Southsea Promenade cycle route to the Denis Sciama building in central Portsmouth. It wasn’t all bad, however, as the sun was shining and there was coffee and Danish pastries waiting everyone who took part in the now annual Uni-Cycle Ride.
The Guildhall Square was the location for the Bike2Work Day event organised by Portsmouth City Council’s Road Safety and Sustainable Transport team. Dr Bike from Cycleworld was there checking bikes and giving advice (although they need more practice in the folding and unfolding a Brompton bicycle!). Hampshire Police were security marking bicycles whilst PCC provided lots of information with the range of nine and growing self-guided bike ride leaflets available. They also ran a bike obstacle course for people to test their skills. Portsmouth Cycle Forum were on hand to talk about bike routes, campaigning and their bicycle recycling centre at the Stacey centre. Cemex brought a hi-tech HGV into the square to give people the chance to see how difficult it is to see cyclists from the cab or a lorry. It had many safety features – auto detection of obstructions and CCTV cameras to assist the driver.
Thomas Ellis Owen Ride
Thomas Ellis Owen was an architect and property developer who purchased boggy land in the early 19th century and created the garden suburb known as Southsea. His aim was to create the countryside in the town and this is all explained in a newly published guided cycle ride leaflet from PCC. John and Sue Pike led an excellent and informative ride around the leafy lanes. We learned that St Jude’s Church was built as an afterthought in order to attract people to buy Owen’s houses.
Thursday saw the launch of another new self-guided ride leaflet with the subject being Portsmouth’s trees. Just a few metres from the starting point in the Guildhall Square is Victoria Park which has more than 20 different species of trees, the tallest being the Black Poplar at 33 metres. The route included many tree-lined residential streets, including Curson-Howe Road, Frensham Road and Essex Road. The ride ended at Milton Park although we took the opportunity to see the listed walled garden off Gisors Road.
Fish on Friday
Fishy Friday evening was dull and damp but a dozen or so intrepid cyclists set off on the Portsmouth Cycle Forum ride following NCN22 (The Pilgrims’ Way) and NCN2 to Portchester Castle, the finest and best preserved Saxon shore fort which was built by the Romans in 3rd Century. After cycling around the castle and admiring the extensive views across Portsmouth Harbour to the Isle of Wight we tucked into fish and chips at Mother Kelly’s restaurant on Southampton Road.
Summer Fair & Picnic
We were back in Victoria Park on Saturday enjoying the green-themed stalls and entertainment at the Summer Fair & Picnic. Portsmouth Cycle Forum was there offering bike checks, information kiddie’s bikes from the recycling project. Electric bikes were available for inspection (and sales!) and the music stage was powered entirely by solar and bicycle power. There was an excellent turn-out and PCF members counted no fewer than 8 City councillors, all of whom stopped by for a chat. It has to be said that none were of the blue persuasion (Mr Cameron take note).
Hayling Billy Express
The grand finale was on Sunday when 31 cyclists departed from Platform 9 and 3 quarters at Canoe Lake Station for the Hayling Billy ride. For those reading from afar, the Hayling Billy was the train which ran from Havant to Hayling Island and its route is now a popular leisure trail. The train from Pompey, led by an appropriately decorated “8-Freight”, steamed through the mist along the seafront to Eastney Point where we caught the ferry to Hayling Island. There were too many of us for one ferry but the kind ferryman ran an extra sailing so that we all crossed the mouth of Langstone Harbour. The ride then set off along the leafy lanes of Hayling to join the Billly Trail and our sunny picnic spot on the sea shore.
It was a superb week and thanks go to Amanda, Nicola and Jayne at PCC as well as all the others who put so much work into making Team Great Britain Bike Week 2011 such a great success. Roll on 2012.