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Read Wolf's insirational story about how cycling has transformed his mobility. Find out about the e-bikes he has built, his campaigning for better cycle links particularly between towns and his lobbying for ebikes to be recognised as a mobility aid. 'Getting the bus is causing me big problems, but cycling is good. Going to work by bus I’m sitting down for an hour and a half and I’d have to take painkillers before going to work, but not when I’m cycling.'
PN: Have you always been a cyclist?
WS: I started cycling as a child, when I was seven or eight, a mate let me have a go on his bike and I fell off! But I was hooked, so my parents bought me a second-hand bike and painted it with RED gloss paint. We had no idea how to maintain it, so it didn’t last long, I remember using Sellotape to fix punctures. So it lasted for maybe a year or so, then I didn’t cycle again till my teens. Then I got a BMX bike and I can remember cycling from Farnborough to Windsor on it, through Windsor Great Park. And I went out with my school mates in the evenings and that carried on till I started college. I used a mountain bike to commute to college at first, and then I started getting into motorbikes. Workwise I was having to travel further afield, so a motorbike just made sense.
PN: I know you only started cycling again more recently, how did that come about?
WS: Well, I have a damaged nerve in my hip, it’s been like that for twenty years. Treatment just made it worse, which was the risk I’d had to accept. Then in 2005 I got a bone cyst, and the surgeon suggested having another go at the leg, which meant I had to learn to walk again. I was doing physio, and I noticed my leg was getting better after using the cycle machine, so in 2010/11 I thought I’d try riding a bike again. For twenty years, I’d missed out on cycling, and so I got an old eighties style mountain bike, with a beautiful rainbow coloured frame. I got on and tried it, and the gear ratio was just right, and it only cost me £30. Then I decided to challenge myself and ride a mile to the nearest supermarket to get a can of cola to drink. Then I slowly extended the distances, and started going to Admirals Park to stop for a drink and then cycle back. Then I went further, but I had to deal with the hill; now I can do it without any effort, but then I’d have to walk it. Then I made it to the town centre, and then to Chelmer Village. And then I started carrying shopping; and then I bought a trailer and was carrying 20/30kg bags of cat litter! Two years later, I did my first ride out of Chelmsford, to Kelvedon, as part of my pledge for 30 Days of Biking. I rode to Kelvedon along Colchester Road, through Baddow and Hatfield Peverel, then along the shared path along the A12 via Witham, and back onto the A12. After that I signed up for Pedal For The Js. Hatfield Peverel is the worst bit, it’s single carriageway, with a national 60 mph speed limit and no lighting. I’ve been trying to get Highways England to extend the shared path from Witham along the A12, and go on to Baddow. We need a continuous route along the A12, not having to go off at junctions, you could get from Mark Tey to Witham in 45 minutes at an easy pace.
PN: I wouldn’t have thought of cycling along the A12, are there many people who use the route?
WS: Yes, I see people walking on it between Marks Tey and Kelvedon. There’s a garage with a burger place on the A12, and the bus doesn’t go past the service road to it, so if you work there and don’t have a car, you have to walk along the A12. I’d like to see a cycle route along the whole A12. My trip to work in Chelmsford is 22 miles each way, and it takes me the same time as on the bus; I average 15mph with three gears on my eBike. Could easily be faster & easier to travel with any bike on a continuous cycleway route along the A12 between Colchester and Chelmsford.
PN: So tell me when you first started using an e-bike?
WS: I got it a year ago, as it really helps on hills, and I started using it in April; the A12 road surface damages the skinny rims, but the e-bike is designed for cycling within towns & cities like London. The e-bike I’m building is more like my Townie 'Cruiser', and the seating is much more comfortable. The 'Cruiser' has 21 gears, I’ve had it for two years. I’ve used it to cycle out to Maldon and to Flatford, and then I did Pedal for the Js on it. I got it from Cycles UK in Chelmsford, when they did a try out bike session. It's an Electra, which has the pedals further forward. My new one will have 7 gears and I’ll be getting a conversion kit from Cyclotricity through Andy Woolf. But I’ll need to sell my current e-bike first! It’s a Momentum Upstart, which had automatic gear hubs and I’ve replaced with a manual one as it wasn’t changing at the right time. It was not good for long distances, as soon as it hits 5mph, it jumps up a gear and then when you hit a hill it takes too long to jump down, and drains the battery power quicker. Much better now it has manual gears.
PN: So how many bikes do you have now?
WS: I’ve got 4 bikes now, only one has hub gears and I like these gears so much I am planning to make all my bikes to have hub gears eventually. My top one I built from scratch, from a frame, but I can’t ride it now, as my right leg is now like the left leg was three years ago. Getting the bus is causing me big problems, but cycling is good. Going to work by bus I’m sitting down for an hour and a half and I’d have to take painkillers before going to work, but not when I’m cycling. I think it’s so unfair that you get a mobility grant for a car, but not for an e-bike. The English Federation of Disability Sports (EFDS) got in touch with me about three years ago, as part of their Get Out Get Active campaign - I did a video with them about the benefits of cycling. And I’m also in touch with Wheels for Wellbeing. I think any type of cycling should be seen as a mobility aid, I blog about this on Facebook and use #CyclingsEasierThanWalking and #BeyondTheBicycle.
I don’t do cycling as a sport, I do it as my main form of transport, it’s a way of life. If anyone’s interested in knowing more about my campaigning I’d be happy for them to get in touch.
get in touch.
If you are would like to contact Wolf or follow his campaigning, here are his details:
Blog page: http://the2wheeledwolf.blogspot.co.uk/
If you share Wolf’s passion for bikes, here’s a bit more on the bikes he has had over the years including the ones he has built himself.
The Roadrunner which I built from scratch from just a frame. http://the2wheeledwolf.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/project-roadrunner-evolution-of.html
Electra Townie 'Cruiser' my main bike bought 2yrs ago this month for better ergonomics.
Bickerton folding bike 'lil Foldie' which I won with an Active Essex Twitter competition. http://the2wheeledwolf.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/meet-my-lil-foldie.html
Momentum Upstart ebike which I got help to get by crowdfunding & bought 2nd hand. http://the2wheeledwolf.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/i-asked-for-your-help-with-many-thanks.html
And now a Electra Cruiser is on order to build my next eBike. :-) http://the2wheeledwolf.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/for-sale-one-awesome-ebike-my-dutchess.html
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