Here is our latest article for My Shrewsbury Magazine about escaping the town by bicycle.
Getting out of town by bicycle.
We often get asked by families…How do we ride out of town without going on the main road? Well, we certain wouldn’t advocate riding on the A49 or A5 with children, or as an adult unless you really have to!
…Apart from riding along the Severn, through the Quarry and joining the old canal path to Uffington, are there any other fun routes out of town?
It is true to say that this route is excellent, especially if you are new to cycling or riding with youngsters. It’s flat, mostly away from traffic and is very scenic as you follow Wilfred Owen’s Golden Meadows. This “well trodden” route also gives you access to Haughmond Hill with it’s amazing vista of the town and Shropshire Hills beyond, plus you can easily pick up the National Cycle Route to ironbridge. While this route is beautiful and a local classic there are other ways out of town which give the rider quick access to our network of meandering country lanes on the outskirts of town.
Here we are going to give you another option, suitable for Children and family rides, plus some advice on how to ride safely.
Starting in the Quarry Park by the Boathouse Footbridge, head up Porthill (sorry for starting on a gentle incline), you can either ride up the hill past the Shrewsbury School day houses or turn right, then left along Woodfield Road, in the direction of the mini traffic island at the top of Porthill. There is a cycle lane across the island for riders cautious in traffic. This cycle lane is frequently used by local students of Meole Brace School and the Priory School as they commute and it’s a wonderful sight in full flow!
Go straight over the round-about and continue along the road, where there is a partial cycle lane. The pavement here is wide, so if you have little ones, you may wish to use it. In this current climate of cycle advocacy and limited car use and movement of people, the rules on pavement cycling are relaxed, just be respectful of pedestrians. Continue over two mini roundabouts and then take the next left along Nobold Lane. This is a lovely quiet lane, with only a small amount of residential traffic and you immediately feel like you are in the countryside on the outskirts of town. Especially when you reach the Mousecroft Woodland and Pond, 1/2 a mile along on the left hand side. This is a great spot for a rest or pic-nic, while you watch the Swifts take a drink on the wing from the Lily pad covered pond.
From here you can retrace your steps back to town or follow the lane back through Meole Brace, or the more adventurous can ride on to Hook & Gate and then ride over Lyth Hill with it’s spectacular view…but that’s for another day.
As a family that rides bikes everyday, I have been asked by a number of people for some advice on family cycling in Shrewsbury. Here are some useful points…
1. Cycling is the perfect activity for travel and leisure during social distancing and these strange days. It’s easy to stay away from people and groups on a bike!
2. Shrewsbury has some great cycle lanes and quiet roads. The roads are even quieter during lockdown, you just need the confidence to go out!
3. If you are riding with children, are new to cycling or returning to cycling after years away… keep it simple, don’t be over ambitious and stay close to home for the 1st rides. Build up your confidence by riding in your Garden if you have space or at your local park.
4. Use the cycle lanes for roads that have them or the pavement if you have little ones. Just be respectful of pedestrians, most people don’t mind especially if you are with children.
5. If you’re riding on the road, be mindful of your surroundings. Don’t ride in the gutter, where there is lots of road furniture to make you wobble, like drains and man hole covers. Give yourself some space and control your space and then motorists will respect that. It takes practice, but once you get more experience you’ll be flying to work, school or play!
6. Make sure your bike is mechanically sound. If you are unsure, take it to one of the local bike shops. Most are open as essential services. A helmet and gloves are essential plus carry some water and a snack for energy. A pump, multi tool and spare inner tube are also very useful if you are feeling adventurous.
7. I always wear bright clothing, so you can be seen. It doesn’t have to be Lycra… just normal people in normal, comfortable clothes.
8. In Shrewsbury we have the Quarry and the ride out to Uffington which is a perfect route to practise on. There are also some lovely short rides to Mousecroft Pond along Nobold Lane and many cycle lanes that crisscross the town.
9. The secret to riding with Children is prep. Get the bikes lined up and ready to go and have their kit ready so you bounce out quickly. Have a plan, an end destination or an ice cream or treat incentive en route. For Adults a pub stop is a great option!
10. When riding from home, have 1 adult at the front or the eldest child and 1 adult at the rear so you book end the little ones and can control them in a mini rolling Peloton. Make all hand signals bold and visible.
Talk to each other, communicate, chat and sing. It’s a great way of encouraging riders and letting pedestrians know you are around.
Have fun guys! Riding bikes is an amazing way to see the town, it gives you a totally different perspective… visually, spiritually and psychologically!
See you on the roads guys!
At the end of all this madness, we will be running some group and family guided rides!
If you have any questions, let me know. I will be going into this further in the next My Shrewsbury magazine with some specific routes for getting out of town into the wonderful Salopian countryside!
Viva la revolución