Safiya’s experience of Active Travel On Holiday By Bike

Safiya was just one of our group who’d never camped before. This is her account of the event! The City Council is keen to promote Active Travel because It will help to boost the health and wellbeing of Leicester residents, reduce pollution and promote safety for all.

Friday evening.

All set for the night.  You can tell I’m a novice, when the others saw my chair, they said that’s not a chair it’s a throne! That made me laugh,  looking at the images now, it’s huge. Very comfy. 

Instant noodles, pasta packs and soup but I really was out of my comfort zone, it took me longer than normal to prepare my dinner!

Cleaning my teeth – Miswwak Natural Toothbrush

I took my Miswwak with me to camp! This is a  natural toothbrush that my fellow campers did not know about, so here it is! 

A Miswak is a small thin twig, derived from the Salvadora persica tree. The Miswak’s natural properties serve as chemical plaque control.  It’s easy to carry, disposable, biodegradable, and eco-friendly. No need for toothpaste ( less to carry), and it’s healthy. Read up to learn about this natural product. You can buy on-line and they come vacuum packed. We’ve been using these for over 1400 yrs! 🙂  

Miswak natural toothbrush

Overcoming my fears ?                          

Time to switch off the lights.  I settled into my tent and was just hanging the lantern over my head so I could just organise my stuff – and there it was! The biggest spider I had ever seen!

I had to calm myself quickly and so I named the spider ‘Steven’ it worked, and then there was another so that was Steven’s wife!  I managed to get them both out.  After, that I was unable to get to sleep.  I could hear a fox crying. But, I did eventually get to sleep.

Saturday Morning. What a beautiful view to wake up to! 

The River Soar next to the Outdoor Pursuits Centre
Lovely sunny day for our cycle ride.
Early morning scene at the camp site.

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day to cycle around. 

Getting ready to ride around Watermead Park with one of the two cycling groups organised that day.

Safiya’s setup at the camp.

I joined the led ride with Peter and Kevin, this was my first and I enjoyed it very much. My confidence was building and I look forward to joining more of these.

The Watermead Park group preparing to leave the Outdoor Pursuits Centre for King Lears Lake
Up near the Woolley Mammoth

I didn’t ride all the way up the hill to the life-sized sculpture of a woolly mammoth, but I certainly sped down and stayed on my bike.  Susan & Maryam, my instructors at Ride on Sistas, would have been proud! Excellent control.  I was proud of myself, didn’t fall and had excellent smooth brake control!

?

King Lears lake
The group chatting about camping up at King Lear’s Lake

This was fun! I made a suggestion to Peter. I said we had the before-ride photo of the cycle group, but it would be cool to have the after image – looking exhausted! We agreed it with the group and so I got to say “ACTION!”

Everyone totally exhausted
And “Cut!” – that’s Kevin
Masala tea bubbling away, and the spices’ aroma filled the air around us.

I made ‘masala tea’ and shared it with bloggers, around-the-world-cyclists and like-minded individuals who shared their camping experiences and tips.  I was in another world, so calm, not once did we talk about our work and that’s exactly what I needed.

Late evening chat
More late evening chat!
My water supply to cook with and tea towel to dry the pots that I used.

Safiya recently finished one of her sessions with ‘Ride on Sistas’. Everyone’s talking about my masala tea 🙂

Looks like I have inspired others to take part in this cycle camping activity. Some have made it clear that will only come if I’m there to make the masala tea!?.

Perhaps we could have one day when I can come and make masala tea like a taster’ for everyone.

I think this might just work, of course, it’ll have to be a Saturday or Sunday and at the Outdoor Pursuits Centre (local ) we can kill two birds with one stone, help the centre get the customers it needs and get the publicity that will help to attract more participants trying out “Active Travell with a cycle on holiday”. ?

Saturday Evening

Getting the fire going.

Cycle Camping Weekend

This is a post written by one of our Cycle Camping try-out participants, Sarah Moola.

Back

In the last few years as our young family began to grow, my husband and I have found ourselves cycling more and more. My husband, Zubair, had been a strong cyclist as a teenager but given up when he started driving. I knew how to cycle but hadn’t done much more than race up and down the road as a child. But with rising petrol prices, broadening waistlines, busy schedules that left no time for the gym, and Leicester’s impressive cycle infrastructure, we found ourselves leaving the car at home more and more.

Sarah arriving at the campsite with her fully laden bike. Her partner Zubair is in the background.

The Ride Leicester group rides have been a real turning point for us. We have met other cyclists and learned routes, tricks and tips that meant our go to transport is now cycling. Yes, we have become those people.

Then in August of this year we heard of something new… cycle camping! With Ride Leicester, Peter Simmonds had organised a cycle camping taster session where we could borrow equipment and camp in a group with plenty of experts on hand to help us out, right here in Leicester.

Neither me or Zubair had ever been camping, but a few months earlier we had given glamping ago. We had enjoyed it but weren’t sure about taking the plunge and buying a tent, wondering which one would suit us and whether we would even use it! This taster session seemed the perfect thing to help us make up our minds.

Peter assured us he could sort a tent, so we set about gathering sleeping bags and mats. We borrowed what we could, uncovered a few cobwebby items from the attic, and found a handful of things on Facebook market place for a bargain price. I wasn’t sure what my 1 year old would need sleepingwise so found a largish gro-bag and some foam floor tiles which I hoped would do the job.

Aside from sleeping gear I had learned from our glamping experience how quickly the temperature drops at night and how cold it gets even on warm summer days. So I gathered a collection of coats, jumpers, thermals and wooly socks to cover all four members of the household. I even brought a wooly hat for myself! Add in some snacks, the baby carrier, nappies, a pared back toiletry bag and Zubair and I stared at what seemed a huge pile of luggage that we were somehow to fit onto our two bicycles, as well as two children.

Most cyclists that do cycle camping tend to carry their luggage in frame bags and panniers, and try to mimise the weight as much as possible. With kids to haul, going lightweight was a lost cause, but we did have a bit more space for luggage. Our five year old went in her usual seat on the back of my bike, leaving my gigantic front basket which is normally filled with her school bag, coat, snacks, pine cones, teddies etc. We piled all the sleeping bags and mats in there and secured it with some bungee cords.

The clothes and coats we squeezed into the back of the child trailer, while a few odd bits and pieces including a box of Cheerios for breakfast, actually went in with the 1yo. We reasoned that they doubled as toys. Last minute addtions like locks, chargers and the baby carrier (we nearly forgot it) we put in Zubair’s panniers and I’m proud to say we actually had a little room to spare!

The event started on Friday night but we had agreed that it might be too much to try for two nights with the baby, so decided to join on Saturday morning instead. With all the luggage to plan we were relieved to see that Kevin (another of our cycling friends and an elite ride leader) was doing a feeder ride from Victoria Park to the campsite, meaning we didn’t need to worry about planning a route. Somehow or other we got to Vicky park in time and met Kevin at the top of Peace Walk. Our adventure had begun!

In lovely sunshine, Kevin guided us on a relaxed route through Abbey Park, past the Space Station and on to the outdoor pursuits centre. Taking it slow, on calm cycleways and away from the road, we hardly noticed our extra luggage. The baby somehow got the plastic bag of Cheerios out of the cardboard box and was waving it at us through the window, while our five-year-old marvelled at the ducks on the canal.

It was around eleven when we met the happy campers at the Leicester Outdoor Pursuits centre. It was reassuring to be with some familiar faces and we knew that if anything went wrong we were just a few miles away from home. Peter showed us our tent, a smart blue one with two sleeping compartments and a middle sort of covered porch. I had been picturing a sort of triangular military style tent in which we would all sleep like sausages so this was a pleasant surprise. We ditched our excess baggage (clothes and equipment, not children) and joined the rest of the group for a ride around the nearby Watermead Park. We headed up to the mammoth to take a photo and then out a bit further before stopping for a chat and snack by the statue of King Lear. We thought Peter and Kevin were going to treat us to a rendition but they politely declined. Back at camp we lounged in the sun and chatted to the rest of the group, having a nice rest as I for one had cycled about 12 miles since the morning with my five year old in tow. The group was a real mix with some ladies from the Ride on Sistas cycling group, others from the Let’s Ride group, Jo and Debs of Brakes and Cakes, real veteran cycle campers, and a whole host of others in between.

At 3pm Peter had kindly organised a bell boating activity for those of us that were interested. I had never done bell boating before but wanted to join in with the five-year-old so poor Zubair had to stay with the baby, but he was a good sport about it. Bell boating turned out to be great fun, going up and down the River Soar, paddling, chanting, laughing and now and then getting stuck in the weeds.

Back on dry land it was five o’clock and our thoughts were turning towards dinner. We had contemplated pot noodle or trying to sort a camping stove but with space at a premium and no idea how much havoc our children might cause, we went for a soft option and ordered pizza.

Camping in the city does have clear benefits.

While the food was on its way, we got our mats inflated and our sleeping bags laid out. We also took advantage of the showers to wash up and get into our warm clothes as the heat of the day started to fall away. Debs and Jo showed us how they use their stove to make simple but filling meals like pasta, and use herbs and spices so they don’t get bored of their own cooking. We listened attentively while inhaling the pizza – it had been a tiring day!

As dusk fell we gathered in the campfire area and Debs and Jo gave a fun talk on the basics of cycle camping, covering what to pack, how to decide where to go, what to eat, and got us thinking about what kind of tour we might like to take one day. We had opportunities for questions and finished the day buzzing with possibilities.

Then it was time for the biggest test! Were we well prepared enough to weather the night? Our five year old had barely got into her sleeping bag before she was asleep. I settled the baby and then, feeling a little nervous, got into my own bag. My layering had worked — I was nice and warm — and the mat which had seemed a bit deflated, did a good job of supporting me.

Despite being warm, comfortable and with a full tummy, it did take me a little while to doze off,perhaps the novelty of being in a different setting. Soon enough I could hear Zubair snoring away, and I happily drifted off, still with my bobble hat on my head.

Though I can’t say I slept very well, that had little to do with camping and lots to do with my 1 year old’s preference for waking up every two hours. I didn’t feel any worse in the morning than I usually do, in fact I felt elated at having made it through the night. While the kids were full of beans, Zubair had found his air mat had let the cold from the air up, so we agreed that a decent mat for him would be an essential buy for us.

Cheerios for breakfast — we hadn’t remembered to bring a bowl or spoon but luckily Debs offered us one of hers. It took quite a bit of time to pack up the sleeping gear (definitely more time than it had taken to unpack it!) and after taking a few photos we started the journey back home.

Part of what we love about cycling is the ability to stop where you want and detour as the mood takes you. On the way home we meant to pass through the city centre but realised the end of summer city festival was on, so passed a good few hours watching all the different events and enjoying the sunshine.

Back in Victoria park we had one last stop off in the playground and then back home for a nice hot shower and an early night. So ended our first cycle camping adventure.

Favourite parts from all the family:

Sarah: chatting to all the different campers
Zubair: the company
Five-year-old: bell boating and pretending to be a pirate
One year old: wandering around the campsite and stealing peoples’ water bottles
Top Camping Lessons From All the Family
Sarah: wooly socks make for happy campers
Zubair: sleep is very important so make sure you have a decent mattress
Five-year-old: take marshmallows, you can just eat them even if there’s no fire
One year old: watch out for guy lines

Back

Preparing the camp fire.

Active Travel on Holiday – Cycle-Camping Taster Weekend

For 2023’s event see https://traveltalksleicester.co.uk/3146-2/

sponsored by Leicester Wheels for All, Ride Leicester, Community Cycles Leicester and Leicester Spokes.

To see the initial scene-setting blog head over to (opens in new window) (https://traveltalksleicester.co.uk/ride-leicester-camping-weekend-leicester-outdoor-pursuits-centre/

To see a report of this event written by Sarah Mooler, another of our participants, head over to (opens in new window) https://traveltalksleicester.co.uk/2877-2

To see Safiya’s blog report please see this link (opens in new window) https://traveltalksleicester.co.uk/safiyas-experience-of-active-travel-on-holiday-by-bike/

From 26 to 28 August we ran a free Ride Leicester/Cycle City sponsored event at Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre. The aim was to demonstrate how cyclists can help to boost their well-being and cut carbon emissions on holiday. The event was run as a “Proof of Concept” with a view to setting up regular cycle-camping events for cyclists who want to investigate how they might travel actively on holiday. The initiative, also supported by Community Cycles Leicester and Leicester Spokes, has shown how we might launch a programme of events to support Leicester City Council’s active travel policy.

We invited cyclists to register for the event and followed up with an information page (see https://traveltalksleicester.co.uk/ride-leicester-camping-weekend-leicester-outdoor-pursuits-centre/)

The first morning.

Such a brilliant group of cyclists. Thanks to all who came along and took part. Lots of questions were fielded by our experts. Lots of laughs about the ups and downs

The participants preparing to cycle up to King Lear’s Lake.

The group preparing to cycle up to King Lear’s Lake. During the ride we discussed the benefits, pros and cons, good techniques, “best practice” and the highs and lows of cycle-camping that make it such a boost to well-being. We had world-class subject matter experts to guide us! We’d like to do the event every year and establish it as a part of the local cycling scene.

The group pretends for the camera to be exhausted after the led ride up to King Lear’s Lake.
Leicester Spokes arrives to pick up participants for their 40 mile ride.

Originally tweeted by Peter Simmonds (@PeterSimmo) on August 28, 2022.

We ran two rides for our participants. One was a 40-miler road ride with Leicester Spokes. The other was a ride entirely on car-free cycleways up to King Lear’s lake led by Peter and Kevin. We would welcome more pictures of this if anyone has any! The afternoon was spent Bell Boating at the Outdoor Pursuits Centre. It is just one example of the kind of things you might want to do on holiday. Cyclists are, as a group, quite keen to try out adventure sports while on vacation! So it proved for our own group of try-out cycle campers. Below is a shot showing excellent and stylish on-board discipline with the paddles.

Preparing for Bell Boating on Saturday afternoon

The evening talk in the Bushcraft Area by Debs was about how to get the best out of cycle camping with a range of know-how tips and tricks.
Valeria’s well-travelled tent. Like Debs and Jo she has travelled widely including the Arizona Desert and Kurdistan.
A great shot of the Bell Boating event. Its the kind of outdoors event that you can try out at the Outdoor Pursuits Centre.
Final tweet from the taster event
The arrival of Sarah and her family of four. Great packing!

You can read about Sarah’s camping experience at this link >

Camping Weekend (26 to 28 August)

– sponsored by Leicester Wheels for All, Ride Leicester, Community Cycles Leicester and Leicester Spokes

This information is for those who have registered for the event. (Registration is now closed)

For further details about the Outdoor Pursuits Centre see https://www.lopc.co.uk/

The event is a Show and Tell about Active Travel on holiday with a cycle. It is for those who have already booked their places at the event.

Background We want to show how easy it is to choose whether to cycle, walk or bus on holiday. This event is about how to holiday sustainably on a bike. It is aimed at anyone who wants to use their cycle to go on a holiday with a low carbon footprint. The event will be held at Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre. We aim to be as inclusive as possible and particularly welcome people (families and individuals) who have never cycle camped before. The event starts at 17:00 on 26 August 2022. The event plan is outlined below.

ArrivalBetween 17:00 and 19:00 on Fri 26 August 2022 come down to the Leicester Outdoor pursuits Centre where we will be ready to greet you.
VenueLeicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre, Loughborough Road, Leicester LE4 5 PN
17:00From 5 pm: set up camp (We can help with this if you are unsure what to do. Please just ask one of the team)
19:30Get-together in the Bushcraft Area Introductions etc
Saturday
10:30The arrival of Leicester Spokes to pick up anyone who would like to join their 40-mile ride. The anticipated return time is 14:30. It is an open ride for anyone who can cycle at an average of 12 mph. There will be a lunch stop.
11:00Cycling session for people who would like a short ride (and therefore not participating in the 10:30 event, above). This will be tailored to the requirements of the group members. The distance will be short and designed to get us back to the centre by 13:00.
15:20Bell Boating event which starts at 15:30 (Restricted to those who have pre-booked and completed the consent form – Report to the LOPS Reception where Peter will be waiting for you. )
18:00Cycle Camping Show and Tell Debs and Jo (https://brakesandcakes.org). The show and tell will include excerpts from their global camping tour (see brakesandcakes.org )
20:30Social – in the Bushcraft area. Bring your own food and drink
Sunday10:00 Get together – and the wrap up session. How did it go. Should we run the event again. What went well. What could we do differently.. Those wishing to stay Sunday night are welcome to do so, however they must have left the site by 09:00 Monday morning. This is due to other LOPC children events taking place on Monday.
Table of events – Active Travel by Bike – Taster event.

We want to encourage Active Travel through cycling. In this case cycle camping in a low carbon way. The organisers regard this innovation as a “proof oif concept” if the concept works well we envisage running it again with the benefit of lessons learned from this year’s.


Twitter thread:-

Leicester City Council has a policy of promoting Active Travel which includes the aspiration of attaining a “15 minute” city. Here is the extract:-

The Leicester Transport Plan 2021 – 2036 sets out an ambitious programme of transport improvements for the next decade including transforming our railway station to provide
an impressive new gateway into Leicester, delivering an exciting new Greenlines electric express bus network and establishing a world class city wide network of cycleways
and paths, aiming for a ’15 minute’ city where people can access a large range of facilities in 15 minutes using sustainable transport.