Pam: We’ve met a couple of times before, the first time at Colchester Free Festival last August and then again at the Bikeability training in October.
Polly: Yes, we came to the Festival with my parents, and because we’d read about the Cycle Town free parking and the prize draw, we thought we’d try out the bikes. It was only a month or so after we started cycling together as a family, but we thought we’d give it a try. We were so pleased with our efforts; we managed to cycle all the way there and back. We did ride to Colchester on a few occasions but stopped at the end of October because of the weather, we also rode to Wivenhoe in September, it’s another trip you can do pretty much all the way on traffic-free cycle paths.
Ned: The surface on the track from Rowhedge to Colchester Hythe isn’t suitable for road bikes, you need a mountain bike.
Fin: I got a BMX from Re-Cycle but found it hard work without gears, so then I got a mountain bike.
Ned: Lots of gears! Good! Marin mountain bike. (Ned likes his bike its technical with lots of gears)
Rob: I already had a mountain bike, and we went to Re-Cycle to get bikes for Polly and the boys. We found her a Falcon mountain bike, but as she’s fairly short the seat post was too high, even when it was moved down. But Re-Cycle was great, they soon found another seat post and replaced it, this was really great service.
Pam: So Polly and Rob, have you always been regular cyclists?
Polly: No! I used to hate bikes, even though my Dad is a keen cyclist – he rides a fixie these days, and we joke that whenever he buys a new bike, there’s a rush to see who’s going to get his old one.
Rob: I used to live in Dorset and I’d cycle from home into Poole, but I wouldn’t say cycling was really a big part of my life, even after we moved to Rowhedge in 2013.
Polly: When we got the bikes from Re-Cycle I didn’t really think we’d get into it in the longer term. We saw the Re-Cycle sale on Twitter and it all just happened from there.
Pam: So Ned and Fin, what do you two remember about starting to cycle?
Ned: We went to Rowhedge rec a lot, you can go fast and get up enough speed after the downhill bit for crossing the grass on the rec. And I like doing off-road dirt track cycling; I think I’m quite good at it.
Pam: And what about the Bikeability training that you did last October, did that help?
Ned: I remember you need five points of contact when you cycle on the road … both hands, both feet and seat.
Fin: It sounded a bit big and scary at first. It was a proper training course, and there were adults doing it too. But we did plenty of practising first, and when we were doing the test bits, it was just doing cycling, it was easier than I thought.
Rob: And it was good fun as well, wasn’t it?
Fin: Yes. And we learnt things we didn’t know before, like ABC and the M check.
Pam: So tell me more about what that means.
Fin: ABC is Air, Brakes and Chain, you need to check them every time you go out on your bike.
(With a bit of prompting, Ned and Fin then jointly come up with the all right answers for the M check)
Ned: When we were in Year 3 or 4, me and my friend Sam and Fin used to cycle round in circles, one handed, doing tricks and high fives, so we found the Level 1 training fairly easy. But it was more difficult going out on the road, there was so much more to remember.
Rob: They did really well, but doing Level 1 and 2 in one go was a lot to take in, and they only passed their Level 1. But it was good they did both, so when they have another go at Level 2, I think it will all come back to them pretty quickly.
Pam: So what do you think were some of the most important things that you learned?
Ned: Being too close to the kerb. Most people stay too close to the kerb all the time, which is the primary position for when the road is wide. We learned about the secondary position, which is when you take the lane on narrower roads to let car drivers know it’s not safe to overtake you.
Fin: And we learned to look behind before you indicate, you need to let drivers know what you’re planning to do.
Pam: That’s really good. We’re doing some more training in the half term holiday, so I hope you can come back and have another go at Level 2. And after that, what adventures do you have planned for the summer holiday?
Polly: Well, we have a few places in mind. We want to go to Friday Woods to try out some off-road cycling, and we’d really like to get as far as Abberton Visitor Centre and the Zoo if we feel confident enough to manage the short stretches on the busier roads. So I think I need to do Level 2 as well!
Pam: Rob I spotted you at the Colchester Bike Kitchen last weekend, what was the problem?
Rob: I popped in as my gears needed adjusting and I wanted to change a break cable.
We’re really grateful to Cycle Colchester for asking us to be interviewed, you’ve got us back into cycling again in time for the good weather!