After my recent flirtation with a cycling challenge in Scotland, I was persuaded to take part in Newcastle’s Cycling in the City/ This Girl Can, spooky ride along our beautiful Newcastle quayside together with our plucky cycling Halloween ladies, at 6pm. The quayside looked gorgeous as always, with the Sage music centre all lit up and the Millennium Bridge showing off with its multi coloured lighting display. The lady cyclists had dressed for the occasion and their costumes were fab. With the exponential growth of chains like Poundland (where a blood stained apron or glow in the dark wig can be purchased for the aforementioned sum) and the trusty B&M Home Bargains (where things sometimes cost slightly more than a pound) – no one need ever feel under dressed at this time of year again.
|Who took our bikes?|
Jan had a frog peeking out of her pocket, a broom stick tied to the back of her bike and small pumpkin lights adorning the frame. Nina was almost unrecognisable as the pumpkin witch and we all tied glow sticks onto our wonderful wheels. I was particularly envious of some flashing glow in the dark dreadlocks. Some of the glow sticks suffered collateral damage during the excursion but most made it to the end of the evening. My bike, which was very easy to ride was provided by the lovely Cycle Hub and I even remembered what to do with the gears this time.
|Flying along for Halloween!|
We set off in high spirits to ride across the Millennium Bridge from the Newcastle side and then turned left along the Gateshead side of the mighty Tyne and up to Bill Quay Farm which is a lovely destination to visit in the daytime, when it’s open. Some people were worried that we would wake the farm animals up as we pedalled past shouting ‘bollards!’ every now and then, but I think they will have suffered worse than that living in Gateshead (only joking!)
|It’s a Dreadlock Holiday|
The only issue was that now in the UK at 6pm it is very very dark. The quayside itself has some lighting which was fine, but quite a lot of the cycle ways on the opposite side of the river had no lights at all, and so we were relying on our own bike lights and the ride leaders bigger, better lights to guide the way. This, along with the wet leaves everywhere added to the very spooky environment.
It doesn’t help that my night vision is very poor and at some points I couldn’t see a wheel in front of my face. But the ride leaders Yvette and Liz remained calm and steady shouting out ‘bollards!’ at the appropriate moment (there were an awful lot of bollards of all shapes and sizes along the route) and keeping the group together, mostly…
|Does anyone know where we are?|
I like the concept of a led ride very much. You have safety in numbers and the ride leaders know where they are going and where tricky junctions or hazards are. Also, if your chain comes off – this did happen to a couple of people – there is always someone handy to help you reattach it. These ladies only rides are very popular and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed myself despite the slight risk factor of not being able to see.
|Witches on the way!|
Cycling is great exercise but it’s also a really nice social activity when you’ve got others to go pedalling with. We all made it back in one piece and were welcomed back to the Hub café where there were free Halloween cakes and coffee waiting for us and no one had died of fright. For more information about the led rides programme contact Cycling in the City.