Pedal Press Autumn 2004





All articles welcome for inclusion in next issue of Pedal Press to be sent in MS Word by email or disc to the Editor


More Becomes less…

Cyclists have the freedom to travel on much of the Queen’s highway. In many cities, including on Merseyside, there are a variety of often highly imaginative engineering features installed specifically for the benefit of the bicyclist. Traffic calming, signage, 20 mph zones, have been shown in some (but not all) studies to increase uptake of cycling. In many cities and towns there has been reallocation of road space, as widely advocated by cycling and walking organisations. Examples include a cycle lane painted on the road, or a pedestrian zone. Some busy London streets sport segregated bicycle lanes demarcated by high kerb stones, with similar affairs found in Barcelona, Vienna and Gothenburg.

Such schemes do go some way towards allaying real and perceived fears. Training in road craft is an excellent way of honing a cyclist’s skills and improving safety. Nonetheless, while cycling remains thankfully an unregulated activity, training cannot be applied to everyone who may dust off a bike and saunter down the road on a whim. Methods of keeping HGVs at arms length from cyclists, while the latter negotiate our busier roads, therefore still seem to have a place.

Yet while reallocating road space to cyclists and pedestrians may be desirable, a surprising thing seems to be happening on our highways. The motorist is striking back, reallocating road space from the pedestrian and cyclist, to the motorist. As the number of motor vehicles continues to rise, there is a not unexpected, increased demand on parking space, both around shopping and leisure facilities, and in residential areas. Many narrow residential streets, not designed for 2 or 3 car households, now have scores of vehicles parked, partly or completely, on pavements and on cycle lanes. Pedestrians, perhaps with prams, may need to walk into the road to get by. Disabled and partially sighted individuals are at somewhat greater risk. At the same time our walkways are being ground into a sorry state: we must all pick up the bills arising from this practice. The costs amount not only to the repair of kerbs and pavements, damaged by far greater weights than passing pedestrians, but also to medical care and litigation arising from injury due to tripping.

As a cyclist I am liable to a fine if found cycling on the pavement. Since it seems difficult to park a car on the walkway without driving it over the kerb, the evidence of a transgression in such circumstances is plain to all.

So why is enforcement such a problem?

Derek Gould

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Muesli Eater writes from Liverpool:

High-viz jackets:

Cyclists who ride in the Liverpool University area will be delighted that the Mulberry St Contraflow Cycle Lane is now finished. This is not some kind of miracle, but follows at least four formal complaints from the MCC and discussions about it at two successive cycle forums, plus a gathering of fluorescents with clipboards spotted by member Rebecca Lawson.

Following my report in the last Pedal Press the Boys from the Red Stuff managed to do their business, but then painted cycle logos on the lane the wrong way round. This is a tiny bit critical on a contraflow lane. Having realised the error of their ways the logos were removed. The wrong type of signs were also taken down and the correct ones put up.

It’s a mystery why this has been such a saga. The City has previously installed contraflow lanes without any fuss. Anyway, now we have it, so enjoy it.

Advance your Stop Lines:

Do you know of any Advance Stop Lines which are not properly coloured in, don’t have cycle logos, or where the coloured surface is wearing off? If so please let me know so we can take it up with the city engineers.

The same applies to cycle lanes where the colouring is coming off.

Road Rage:

Those of you who become gibbering maniacs when you see some twit blocking the Queens’ Highway while parked on yellow lines, in a mandatory cycle lane, or on the pavement in Liverpool can phone the Parking Services on 225 2913, or write to them at PO Box 988, Municipal Buildings, Dale St, L69 2WY, or simply phone Liverpool Direct on 233 3001.

No Cycling:

As part of their plans to make the City Centre more pedestrian, cycle, & public transport friendly, Liverpool is proposing to close Dale St & Water St to cyclists by closing the road to all vehicles (which includes cycles) at the Hatton Garden junction and the Town Hall.

MCC has formally objected on the grounds that the scheme contravenes the City Council Cycling Strategy.

Friends of the Parks:

MCC members should note that Princes Park & Sefton Park both have Friends groups. We should support their work, especially since many of us live within wobbling distance of these parks. Many Southenders use them for commuting, and of course the National Cycle Route goes through both areas.

Sefton Park is looked after by Friends of Sefton Park (contact Jean Hill on 728 7391 or
HILLJ664@aol.com). Princes Park is looked after by Friends of Princes Park (contact Friends of Princes Park, 2 Windermere Terrace or zinger@tesco.net ).

FOPP did an effective Litter-pick during the summer.

Above us only Sky:

Liverpool Airport hold an “Airport Transport Forum” every so often, to which MCC is invited. This forum deals with issues surrounding getting to the airport. Unfortunately this takes place during working hours, but if you’re interested in attending on behalf of MCC give me a ring on 727 0088

Richard Hebden

What Does the English Regions Cycling Development Team have to say about the performance of Liverpool Council?
Find out at http://www.nationalcyclingstrategy.org.uk/assets/go_2004/North_West/Liverpool.pdf

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Southern Coast to Coast.

Cathy and I recently completed a rather wonderful bike ride from Bristol to Eastbourne then London. A sort of a coast to coast, but perhaps unusually we managed to avoid cycling on roads. It started easily enough on the Bristol-Bath railway path, (Oh, if only the LoopLine could be like this), then followed the Kennet and Avon canal.

A loop on bridlepaths took us over a few hills to Avebury. This very odd place has standing stones the size of 2 bedroom apartments. More bridleways took us around Salisbury plain to Stonehenge. A great way to arrive at this amazing monument, but spoilt, somewhat, by the bright pink tour bus that blocked the view. Further south we climbed the “Old Sarum” outside Salisbury, and from this ancient hill fort we could see a line heading, perfectly straight, towards Winchester.

This was called the Monarchs Way and is partly bridleway, partly old road. Easy to get lost but fantastic to follow with ancient paths through woods emerging onto high ridges with breath taking views.

After Winchester the line continued but now it’s called the South Downs Way. 100 miles all off road of off road challenge. It’s well sign-posted but a tough ride with severe ups and eyeball watering downs.

You could try it on a road bike, but you’d be mad to try. Our ride was one of those you dream about. Sunny skies, great meals, soft beds in cosy B&Bs and a constant tail wind. A week we didn’t want it to end. So it you fancy an alternative view of the sinful, overcrowded south and have a mountain bike, then give it a go.

Neil Kay

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Riding the Lôn Las Cymru August 2004

Our computer read 260 miles over five days, starting from Cardiff Bay and finishing under a clock in Holyhead.
It was August but we experienced torrential rain and some strong winds. I guess it could have been worse - we could have been in North Cornwall.
The Lôn Las Cymru is considered one of the toughest of the long distance routes that make up the National Cycle Network. It includes mountain chains, some excellent old railway paths, beautiful river estuaries, fabulous bridges, magnificent castles and cycling alongside sandy beaches.

Day One: Cardiff - Brecon.

The worst day was the first. We had booked accommodation outside Cardiff City Centre and it took us about 40 minutes to arrive at the start at Roald Dahl Plass and the offices of the National Assembly for Wales; there is a beautiful Celtic ring for your official start photo. Cardiff County Council provides info on the web about cycling in Cardiff - http://www.cardiff.gov.uk/cycling/routes.html . Incidentally Cardiff Bay has some great places to eat and I can recommend the Bosphorus as a fine Turkish restaurant with a lovely view.

The Taff Trail is easy to find on its way out of Cardiff and there’s a chance to go past the Millennium Stadium, another of Cardiff’s more recent additions to its skyline. Unfortunately we were a little complacent about the map initially and relied on the Cycle Network signs for Route 8 and the Taff Trail signs themselves. Nevertheless, the morning passed reasonably with a bumpy track beside the Taff with perhaps two unnecessary diversions including a hill climb and an unscheduled visit to Caerphilly! Here, as everywhere, sympathetic locals gave us some useful route advice and we finally ended up at a half decent pub in Merthyr Tydfil after passing through the valleys of Pontypridd and Aberfan. Just before a long climb out of Castell Coch we paid our first visit to a cycle shop where I bought a replacement bolt for my seat post as the thread had become worn.

The rain kicked in at the beginning of the afternoon and we struggled to find our way through the Brecon Beacons. The Taff Trail seems to have versions for walkers, cyclists, horse-riders and lost tourists! The version we took included another needless climb to Lyn Neuadd Reservoir before descending the wrong side of the next reservoir through Talybont Forest. A puncture just before Aber Village left us cold, wet and frankly filthy for the last few miles to Brecon along the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal towpath.

We had pre-booked our accommodation in a mixture of pubs and b&b’s, but found ourselves moved from the cycle-friendly b&b in Brecon to one of the most eccentric households I have ever stayed in. Let’s say none of us slept well in uncomfortable beds in cramped rooms filled with obscure paraphernalia. When Mandy tripped on the tiger’s head joined to its skin on the breakfast room floor we thought eccentricity was going a bit far.

Day Two: Brecon - Rhayader.

Next day, the rain started from the beginning. Just short of Glasbury, we descended through some narrow lanes where the hedges had just been cut. Four punctures in three bikes in about 100 metres seemed a bit excessive! Trying to change inner tubes, and find thorns and splits in between showers delayed us considerably. Torrential rain drove us into a small pub in Aberwdw about a mile off the route. Fortunately the landlord allowed us to use a small marquee at the rear to leave our bikes in and to change.

After about four small power cuts and spectacular claps of thunder, amazingly, we emerged to enjoy quite a pleasant afternoon with a lovely ride beside the River Wye into Builth Wells. We had to endure a very rough section of trail just after Newbridge which held us up before reaching our overnight stop at Rhayader where we stayed in the very welcoming and appropriately named Liverpool House on Liverpool Road.

Day Three: Rhyader - Machynlleth.

After a visit to a friendly bike shop where Mandy had some helpful adjustments to her brakes and we bought some spare inner tubes, I found I had a slow puncture a mile or two down the road making it six punctures in total since we left Cardiff! The morning passed pleasantly through the Wye valley before we began a long and tough ascent through the Coedwig Hafren Forest. The views were magnificent as we passed old mines and the wind strengthened as we struggled to an old drovers’ pub in Dylife. The climb up may have been tough to the highest point on Lôn Las Cymru but the descent to Machynlleth was amazing. With the Dovey Valley laid out before us and Snowdonia looming in the distance, we hit frightening speeds as the wind threatened to blow us off the road altogether.

Machynlleth is the ancient capital of Wales and we had time for a proper look around before using Tourist Information to book us into a farmhouse with a converted barn two miles out of town. ‘Marchlyn’ provided our best accommodation of the week complete with proper secure shelter for our bikes although we could have done without another 200 metre climb up a bumpy track at the end of a hard day.

Day Four: Machynlleth - Harlech.

Rain and more rain on our fourth day as we passed through slate country and the village of Corris, and a very tough climb into the Snowdonia National Park. Another fast descent greeted us towards Dolgellau as Cadair Idris loomed off to the west. I was so cold and wet by now we stopped at the Welsh Ambulance Station on the approach to Dolgellau. I changed whilst the others found a toilet. We had decided we wanted to visit Portmeirion in the afternoon so we pressed on without a lunch.

The Llwybr Mawddach Trail is a beautiful old railway track which led us by the Mawddach estuary towards Barmouth and eventually over the 150 year old Barmouth Bridge. We were tired by now, and on reflection the decision to press on in the rain for the 12 or so miles to Harlech without a break was a bad idea as my grumpiness increased. Anybody who knows me well will appreciate an early lunch is essential for my metabolism. The Rum Hole Inn at Harlech was not inviting from the outside, but we couldn’t have wished for a more hospitable landlady who took some of our muddiest clothes before returning them later that afternoon, cleaned and pressed. Harlech Castle is outstanding but we took the opportunity to grab a taxi and spend a couple of hours at the architectural folly which is Portmeirion.

Day Five: Harlech - Holyhead.

By having a short day to Harlech, we had left ourselves the longest ride of the Lôn Las Cymru with 66 miles left to Holyhead but at least it wasn’t raining. We finally managed a respectable 15 mile an hour as we headed off over the small bridge over the Dwyryd and then over the Cob into Porthmadog. We had decided to stay on the main road for a short section to save time and maintained this for a few miles before joining the Lôn Eifion trail to Caernarfon. We had cycled our first thirty miles courtesy of a breakfast box from the Rum Hole and, to be honest, there’s only so far I can do on corned beef sandwiches! So I was relieved when we found a friendly café opposite the castle and I could refuel on a bacon and egg sandwich washed down with a mug of tea.

There was another short sharp shower before we emerged to find yet another railway path, the Lôn Las Menai, which took us beside the Menai Strait towards Bangor. All credit to the planners who managed a circuitous route to free us by the suspension bridge taking us over the water and into Anglesey and our final rest at Llanfairpwllgwyngyll. Anglesey is not flat, despite the profile on our NCN map, but we found the finish at Holyhead in time for the 1549 train and handshakes and hugs all round. Charlotte Church, Tom Jones, Cerys Matthews, Ian Rush …. we’ve seen your country.

Robin Ireland

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Sefton Section

Back to school

The cumulative effects of gradual changes in the local environment are often not noticed by those closest to them. Returning to my old school after over 20 years I was surprised to notice how so much of what had been playground had become car parking spaces - small areas where we used to gather at lunchtimes were now marked off into neat parking bays. The bike sheds which had been so well used (and not just by cyclists) had been similarly converted. The significant and detrimental effect this has had on the school environment seemed remarkable to me but quite unremarkable to those who had been teaching at the school for the past 20 years. I was told that car-parking provision had actually been reduced recently so maybe the lesson has already been learned!

Bike to work benefits

My employer has recently decided to start offering bike loans to employees wishing to buy a bike (and associated equipment). The value of the loan (with no interest) will be deducted from employees pay over a period of months and, importantly, before income tax and national insurance. This is a significant benefit to existing and aspiring cycle-commuters, and is allowed under Inland Revenue rules. Details can be found on the Inland Revenue website at www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/pdfs/ir176.htm

Changed priorities

I was pleased to see a further improvement to junctions in the Bootle area. The roundabout at the corner of Marsh Lane / Hornby Road has been converted to a signalised junction complete with advanced stop lines. The width of the approach cycle lane to the advanced stop lines is disappointingly narrow; being about the width of my handlebars just outside the railway station but this junction is generally better for cyclists and pedestrians. The detailed design of junctions is critical to the safety of cyclists and it is hoped that cycle audit of all junction improvements - as set out in the (still draft!) Cycling Strategy will gradually enhance the safety of the entire cycle network of Sefton.

Action on new routes

The extension of the Crosby prom cycle route from Crosby Leisure Centre to Hall Road Coastguard station has recently been agreed at the Crosby Area Committee. This is one of the less controversial cycling-related proposals to come before them. Where proposals have required the reallocation of road space from motorised transport to bikes agreement has not always been reached in favour of cycling. There is, however, an opportunity when such proposals come before local area committees for local people to be heard before a decision is taken. This is an opportunity which appears too good to waste and, with a little help from my friends, I will endeavour not to.

Cycle Forum

The next Sefton Cycle Forum is on Tuesday 9th November 2004 in Bootle Town Hall in Oriel Road, Bootle starting at 6.30pm. All are welcome (nay encouraged) to attend. See minutes of the previous forum on http://www.sefton.gov.uk/content-3705 for an idea of the issues discussed.

For more information on any of the above or if there’s something I should know about please phone me on 0151 932 1643 or email me on peter_roome@bigfoot.com

Peter Roome

And finally....

What Does the English Regions Cycling Development Team have to say about the performance of Sefton Council?
Find out at http://www.nationalcyclingstrategy.org.uk/assets/go_2004/North_West/sefton.pdf

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Wirral News

Wirral Way Upgrade

No further progress on the upgrade to the main section of the Wirral Way from Thurstaston visitor centre to West Kirby. It is now believed that the contract has been let but a promise of completion by October this year, given some months ago, is definitely a 'non - starter'. We are trying to find out revised dates from our new cycling officer.
Also part of the upgrade scheme are links from the existing Frank Lewis Cycleway at Church Lane to the visitor centre in Station Road and from the end of the Wirral Way at West Kirby onwards to Hoylake Station. Our compliments to the new cycling officer for a job well done on the new surface of the Frank Lewis path.
Plans have now been agreed to upgrade an existing footpath at the side of the West Kirby to Hoylake railway line prior to a contract being issued.

Wirral Cycle Map

A new Wirral Cycle Map is being published in the spring of next year. Andrew Hodgson and Roland Graham have submitted suggestions to Wirral Borough Council for new cycle rides on this map. Sonia Oldershaw has also passed on ideas from our friends in the Wirral Cycling Group.
The new map should be available, free of charge, from local libraries and council 'One Stop Shops'. We recommend that people keep a sharp look out for these new maps as the last issue was very popular and was quickly snapped up by local pedal pushers.

LA21 Group Seminar

Wirral Local Agenda 21 organisation is firmly committed to pushing the borough down the sustainable pathway of life. To this end its 'Transport Topic Group' has decided to run a cycling seminar in 2005. They would like contributions from the Merseyside Cycling Campaign and other cycling organisations. Although a firm date has not been fixed any contributors, or listeners, are advised to call Roland Graham on 625 - 9094 for further details. It is hoped to have more news of the event in the next edition of Pedal Press.

ALDI Lorries

The new ALDI distribution depot now under construction on the old Marconi site at Neston still poses problems for Wirral cyclists.
Although, we have objected to ALDI proposals to route heavy lorries via Barnston Dip on their way to the M53 junction at Woodchurch little progress has been made by Wirral Borough council in taking action. It is now many months since the Highways Department asked consultants to draw up a scheme for banning vehicles over 18 tons from using the road. We suspect that they may be backtracking on the problem.
In order to make progress the MCC has decided to send a donation to the local "NOTOALDI" Campaign who have organised spirited opposition to ALDI and are looking for ways to pay engineering consultants Singleton Clamp who are giving technical help and advice. A report has now been produced giving practical alternatives to the proposals from ALDI and information on this may be obtained from their web site www.saynotoaldi.org.uk

Cross Dock Cycle Route

We are still pressing for the new cycle route linking Seacombe and Woodside ferry terminals via Twelve Quays. The council has taken on board many of the ideas of Andrew Hodgson but progress is painfully slow. Any suggestions on how we can speed things up would be welcome. (Perhaps pins and wax dummies would effective?)

Hot news This has now been approved!

Cycle Stands

Not an exciting topic but Wirral Group is slowly nibbling away at the problem of handy cycle parking. We are currently submitting letters of objection to local planners about lack of cycle stores or stands on many new build projects. A lot of these objections have meant new flats and commercial premises are including cycle parking in their finished buildings. We are now locked in a dialogue with Wirral planning department on how best to persuade architects and developers to include cycle parking at the initial design stage so that we won't have to chase up so many schemes that ignore cyclists needs.

John Cranny

And finally....

What Does the English Regions Cycling Development Team have to say about the performance of Wirral Council?
Find out at http://www.nationalcyclingstrategy.org.uk/assets/go_2004/North_West/Wirral.pdf

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St Helens and Knowsley News

There is no news from these areas in this edition. If you have any news for the next edition please send it to PedalPress

What Does the English Regions Cycling Development Team have to say about the performance of St Helens Council?
Find out at http://www.nationalcyclingstrategy.org.uk/assets/go_2004/North_West/sthelens.pdf

What Does the English Regions Cycling Development Team have to say about the performance of Knowsley Council?
Find out at http://www.nationalcyclingstrategy.org.uk/assets/go_2004/North_West/knowsley.pdf

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World Heritage Site Bike Ride

You probably didn’t hear about this because the press release never reached the press! However, we can report that Liverpool held its first ever World Heritage Site Bike Ride on 3rd October 2004.

As you may have heard, Liverpool’s Waterfront is now a scheduled World Heritage Site alongside Stonehenge, Avebury and the Great Wall of China. To celebrate Britain’s World Heritage Sites, Sustrans have been promoting a series of rides over the summer to try to encourage more cycling visitors. The Liverpool ride was part of this series. It was lead by John Hinchliffe, Liverpool’s World Heritage Officer, whose flag flying bike led the way. We stopped at many points to hear all sorts of interesting facts on Liverpool’s history and learnt of more Liverpool firsts. I’m afraid I lost the main group while fixing a puncture, so missed a lot of it, but will no doubt be there next year to learn more. There may even be a leaflet produced before 2008! So keep watching this space.

Don Thompson

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Bicycle Maintenance….quick notes

Fixing a puncture:

Remove Tyre:

Note profile of rim, tyre beads.
Start away from valve. Hook lever under tyre avoiding the tube. Hook onto a spoke. Push bead to centre of rim all around tyre.
Second lever. Push bead to centre of rim again. Pull lever around. Remove valve from hole.
Remove tyre completely. Check position of valve in relation to tyre.

Find Hole:

Remove tube. Inflate tube till fat. Listen and feel with side of face. (Water as last resort). Mark hole and deflate. Check tyre. Position of hole in tyre should indicate where to look on tube for possible nail, thorn, glass etc..

Fix Puncture:

Choose patch. Mark size on tube. Roughen surface removing ridges. Glue tube and patch. Leave to dry till dull. Stick. Chalk surface using grater.

Replace tyre:

Inflate tube slightly to make round. Position tube in tyre. Check direction of travel of tyre. Fit valve and 1st bead. 2nd bead by hand only. Push bead off rim and fully deflate tube in order to help getting tyre on by hand only. Ensure tyre is seated in the rim. Push valve in to avoid getting tube caught. Pump up hard.

Replace wheel:

Line smallest cog with chain. Pull back derailleur. Push in wheel. Ensure wheel fully back and straight in frame. Bolts a little on each side. Turn over then reconnect brakes.

Maintenance Classes

Following the success of the cycle maintenance classes last year, “Cycling Solutions”, are proposing to further classes this winter.
It is hoped to run both basic and intermediate classes on a weekday in the evening between 7-9pm. The basic classes run for 3 nights and cover the kinds of things that may go wrong on a ride (punctures, brakes and gears). The intermediate classes run for 5 nights and cover how to service you bike. Visit http://www.cyclingsolutions.co.uk for more information.

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Readers Write

I cycle about 12 miles a day for work, three days a week, using part of the Transpennine Trail Link Route 56 south of the City. Coming home one hot August afternoon, anticipating the cool leafy shade on Woolton Road, I crossed Queens Drive and chugged sweating towards Woolton. I slowed down past the parade of shops anticipating pedestrians crossing near the Halfway House and enjoying the scenery.

Traffic was flowing past to my right, when a car pulled over and stopped in the cycle lane immediately ahead of me. I came to a rapid halt. As the driver changed gear, the reversing lights came on and the car began moving towards me. I stayed where I was, amazed.

After several attempts to reverse into me, the driver got out of the car and pointing to an empty parking space beside the cycleway said, “I need to park in that space,”
“And I need to get home.”
“I need to park there, you have to move.”

Perhaps I should have done the friendly cyclist thing and moved, even if it did mean exposing myself to a steady stream of commuter traffic & possible injury. Perhaps I should have made allowances for age, sex, and the heat. Then again, maybe it isn’t reasonable to expect to be able to cycle in a cycle lane.

Fiona Langdon

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Electric Bike

The Campaign’s electric bike has been on the move again. Its last resting place was on the Wirral, where its user was so impressed he decided to buy his own Giant La Free.
It’s great fun and well suited to anyone who may not be able to ride as far as they would like. It’s available to be borrowed for short periods by any member or, at a push, elderly relatives of members. To contact Neil phone 0151 727 4583

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Photo Opportunity

New NOF route Leeds -  Liverpool Canal Sefton Council are implementing a new route, funded using New Opportunity (lottery) Funding. Although parts of the route have been well contructed the canal sections are poorly made and, north of Fleetwoods Lane (see photo left), not made at all. Nothing has been done for weeks to resolve this. Are we to assume that this is a new Mountain Biking route?

If you have any interesting, amusing or informative photos please send them to Peter Roome peter_roome@bigfoot.com

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All articles welcome for inclusion in next issue of Pedal Press to be sent in MS Word by email or disc to the Editor

© Merseyside Cycling Campaign 2004