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Coming up in May…

March 31, 2012 in Joy Rides

.. the Marvellous May Ride!  As seen in today’s The Independent 50 Best Spring Days Out, we’ve got an extra special Joy Ride coming up in May.

Here’s the official blurb…

The Marvellous May Ride; A genteel bike ride in the glorious Cambridgeshire countryside.

Organised monthly by Beg Bicycles, the Marvellous May Ride will be held on Sunday 13th May and will take in the lovely countryside just outside Cambridge, ending up with a proper pop-up ‘afternoon’ tea in a meadow after the ride.

The Joy Ride itself is free, because we simply want people to come along and enjoy a nice bike ride, but we will be asking for an (optional) donation of £7.50 minimum to enjoy the pop-up tea – in a bell tent in a meadow with bone china and a gramophone!  Stop watches are strictly banned.

The ride will start at 10.30 and we’ll cycle around the lovely countryside around Cambridge.  Please email us at hello@begbicycles.com to register a place whereupon we will be able to tell you the start point location.

 

Bikeminded indeed….

March 30, 2012 in Bicycle inspiration, Enjoy the ride, Press, Sites we like...

We know the UK isn’t quite Amsterdam or Copenhagen yet, and that we have a long long way to go to be able to create the utopia of cycling that other countries enjoy – but inroads are being made.  There are leaders in this world – and then there are the followers… and in terms of forward-thinking, bicycle infrastructure-focused types, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London is a pioneer in the UK.  It was with great pleasure that we hooked up with them recently and agreed to do some mutual introductions and we’re REALLY looking forward to interviewing them in the next few days and telling you more about the great work they are doing in their borough to make cycling a more accessible, desirable and safe option for their residents and commuters.

In the meantime, here is an interview Catherine did with them yesterday on their fantastic blog, Bikeminded about BEG….  You can read the full interview here.

Look out for our interview with Bikeminded coming next week…

 

 

Joy Riding through Spring

March 29, 2012 in Joy Rides

OK… so we know it feels like spring decided to give us a miss this year and we’ve fast forwarded straight from February to July, but we had two spectacular Joy Rides in February and March.  Delighted to say we’re having a fantastic turnout… there were 14 cyclists for the February ride, and pretty soon, no corner of Cambs will be left unexplored (so that last bit is rather an exaggeration but…).  Esther is really on the ball and writes these fab blog posts after each ride – and then I fail to get them up on the blog… so here is a double whammy, Joy Rides Special reviewing the February and March rides!  Take it away, Esther…!

 

March  - A Blooming Lovely Joy Ride

Mother Nature has been so kind to the Joy Rides so far, and the March ride on Sunday 25 March was no exception.  The day started with a pea souper fog, but by the time we were pedalling, the skies had cleared to reveal a bright, cloudless blue with brilliant sunshine.  Which was very timely as this ride was all about celebrating the glorious arrival of spring.

We started from the visitor car park at Imperial War Museum Duxford (already filling up quickly as visitors arrived to enjoy a day out at the museum) and cycled up to Whittlesford, turning into picturesque Newton with its thatched cottages and expansive fields.  From there we cycled to Thriplow and already started to see hosts of golden daffodils as we reached the road sign welcoming us to the village and saw the church spire in the distance.

We also had more than one occasion to enjoy the freedom and thrill of whizzing downhill in the spring breeze – there really is nothing to better it!

After a gentle tour of Thriplow, we cycled back to Heathfield and then finished back at Imperial War Museum Duxford where, laden with tea and cake, we sat outside in the sunshine and watched one or two historic aircraft practice flying.  We could happily have stayed there all day!

A blooming beautiful daffy joy ride was enjoyed by all!  Thank you so much to Malcolm for the fabulous cycle route and to Kay and Malcolm, Bea and Mel, Niki, Lizzy, Sarah and Vicky for making the ride so enjoyable.

The next ride is on Sunday 22 April.  More details to follow soon …!

 

 

A Springtime Sunday in Cambridge and Grantchester  - The February Joy Ride

What a wonderful way to spend a gloriously warm and sunny spring Sunday! 14 of us met at the Trumpington Park and Ride and then cycled in the sunshine along the guided bus route, into Cambridge and along the Backs.  We could not have picked a better day for a bicycle ride – it was warm, sunny and everyone we passed seemed to have a smile on their face and a spring in their step.

We cycled along the river, passing the great eclectic architecture of the boathouses and taking in the traditional sight of the rowing crews practising on the river.  From there, we cycled down to Newnham and saw the first appearances of spring flowers – snowdrops, daffodils, and a carpet of lavender crocuses.  Just beautiful, and gave us a great sense of the calm and wellbeing that comes from connecting with nature when meandering gently along on a bicyle on such a seasonal spring day.

Next destination on the ride was Grantchester Meadows, where we joined the dog-walkers and walkers enjoying the lovely weather.  By this time it was  very balmy and such a pleasure to feel the warmth of the sun.  We reached our tea stop at The Orchard feeling invigorated and lively but in need of refreshment and sustainance.  So, tea, cake, scones (The Orchard is rightly famous for its scrumptious and generously-sized home-made scones) and other goodies were purchased before we joined the many other partakers of English tea in the lovely Orchard gardens.

After refreshment and a jolly good gossip, it was all too soon time to wend our way through the lovely Grantchester village, and back to the Park and Ride.  A blissful way to spend a Sunday and a lovely memory that will stay with us throughout the working week ahead..

With many thanks to Malcolm P for devising the ride, and to Sarah & Nick, Jess,Kay & Malcolm W, Keith, Bea & Mel, Vicky, Louise & Steve and Sarah R (my cake afficienado!) for taking the time to come along.

 

 

Your Kingdom awaits you…

March 22, 2012 in Bicycle inspiration, Enjoy the ride, Sites we like...

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride, according to John F Kennedy.  It’s all about the journey, the thrill and satisfaction of the ride and less about the destination after all…. but saying that, there are times when one does need just a little bit of inspiration about where to head off to.

We’ve long been fans of a really wonderful resource, This is your Kingdom, “An Insider’s Guide to Lovely Local Things to See and Do in the UK“, an online community where people can both discover and share these invaluable insider snippets of local knowledge. Nothing beats stumbling upon a local gem – something a bit special or unexpected, or even just a reminder of an event, a cafe, a boutique, a market that you’d forgotten all about.  The site can be navigated by county – or by ‘his’, ‘hers’, ‘kids’ etc so it’s really easy to come across something alluring!

 

We were really thrilled when Hannah who runs the site got in touch to ask us for the lowdown on Cambridgeshire (you can see what we have to say here), and we’re delighted to say that you can now win one of our lovely, tan leather old-school satchels (normally priced at £120.00) by entering a competition we are running with This is Your Kingdom as part of their new ‘Back Britain‘ series.    With 2012 set to be a vintage year for the UK, ‘Back Britain’ is a year-long campaign designed to capture the national spirit at this special time and celebrate all that makes Great Britain so very unique and fabulous.

 

For a chance to win one of our satchels,  follow this link to the site and you’ll see how easy it is to win.  The competition will run until early April, so get in there quickly!

Illustrations via {Jess Linares}.

 

A Daffy Joy Ride…

March 20, 2012 in Joy Rides

How can it be less than a week until the next Joy Ride?  Somebody stole March! Where did it go?

Our next Joy Ride is this Sunday, March 25th and we’ll be starting our ride from the Visitor Centre car park at Imperial War Museum Duxford at 10.30am.  Just follow signs to the Visitor Centre car park from the A505.  If you can park in the spaces nearest the entrance, that will help us find each other!  For those of us that are cycling to IWM Duxford, there’s a cycle rack in the cark park.

From IWM Duxford, we’ll cycle around Whittlesford, Newton and take in the wonderfully uplifting sight of the crowds of daffodils in Thriplow village.  From there, we’ll cycle back to IWM Duxford, where Esther’s  got special permission to allow us to have tea and cake in the Mess Restaurant.

If you fancy staying on and looking around the museum, the normal charges will apply.

Hoping to see you on Sunday 25 March – don’t forget that the clocks go forward that day, so it truly will be spring!

Introducing BEG Bicycle Bell(e)s #No.01

March 10, 2012 in Reviews

Undoubtedly, the single most pleasurable thing about being involved in the bike biz is getting to know the people who will ride the bicycles you sell… and make that bicycle an everyday part of their lives.

We have met some wonderful people – and wanted to introduce you to some of them in a regular series of BEG Bicycles Bell(e)s… and Beaus, of course, too! (By the way, if anyone can come up wit ha better title, we’re all ears!)

 

First to take to the stage is Cathy Olmedillas, the founder of The Anorak Press, an independent kids publishing house, makers of the endlessly creative, beautifully put together happy magazine for kids,  Anorak Magazine and  PLOC, a magazine aimed at younger children and illustrated by 60s French legend Alain Gree.

Cathy lives and cycles in East London.

 

 

Tell us a bit about you and your bicycle?

Cycling is in my DNA, as I spent every weekend of my childhood cheering my dad in cycling races or going on rides with his cycling club. I have been cycling in London for ten years and I love the new cycling scene that’s appeared in the past few years, with its cafes and shops.

I chose a BEG bicycles (a BEG Bella in green) having seen it when one of our Australian stockists, Lark  featured your bikes on their blog and it was love at first sight! I had had ‘sit-up-and-beg’ bikes in the past, but they were all vintage and required a lot of maintenance. I thought that if I got a new one, I’d spend less money in the long run having to fix this and that. That was my way of justifying buying a new bike anyway! A couple of weekends later, I travelled to Cambridge to test it and I bought it! Nothing was going to stop me!

How do you use your bicycle in your day-to-day life?

It’s my number one method of transport around London. I do the school run with it and cycle to meetings with it too. I used to ride with my son at the back in a child seat but in the last four years, he has been riding his own bike.

How would you describe yourself as a cyclist? 

I am a leisurely (and happy) cyclist.  I am lucky enough to live and work in a borough like Hackney, which is brilliant for cycling, as it is not that congested and it has a nice canal to cycle along. Because I have cycled since I was a young child, I am very comfortable on any roads. Although, when cycling in central London, I become a tad edgier and a lot less leisurely but then, you have to be very confident to the point of almost arrogance, because often other vehicles are quite happy to just pretend you don’t exist and force you to cycle too close to the pavements. I have many times bashed the side of white vans to make my presence felt!! Which of course attracts torrents of insults, but I am used to it!

Do you have any little rituals or techniques with regard to your cycling habits? 

My son pointed out that when I brake, I take my right foot off the pedal and swing it back to forth. Until he mentioned it, I hadn’t realized I was doing that! Don’t ask me why, although I suspect I got that habit from an old bike which brakes probably didn’t work too well… Eeek.

Do you wear any special cycling gear when you’re out and about on your bicycle? If not, what do you wear?!

No I never wear anything special to go cycling. I may wear something loose and some flat shoes if I go on a long ride, but for day-to-day, I always wear whatever I plan to wear. It’s especially easy to do that with a BEG bike because you are in a sitting position, so heels and dresses work perfectly fine.

Have you bought any accessories (not necessarily BEG ones of course) specially for this bicycle – or for you personally as a cyclist?

Bella came with everything I needed: a great bell, wonderful saddle and chunky lights. I bought a red satchel last year to carry my laptop around.

What’s going through your head when you’re on your bicycle?

Generally plain happy thoughts! Cycling is such a wonderful experience, it’s cheap, fun, keeps you fit, it doesn’t hurt the planet and it gets you there quicker than walking!

How does cycling make you feel as a person?

Free. Happy. Good.

Any tips you’d like to share with people – ie regarding safety on your bike..?  How you lock the bicycle…?  How you look after it…?

Unlike in Copenhagen where you see unlocked bikes everywhere, London is not safe for bikes. In the last ten years, I have had three bikes stolen. I have three locks on Bella, one for the saddle, one for the front wheel and the back one that comes with the bike. I prefer the U-locks because they are much harder to break and they are cheaper.

Any ambitions involving your bicycle…?

I would love to go on a cycling holiday in Denmark. I love the family cycling culture in Copenhagen and would love to discover more of Denmark on a bike.

Your favourite ride…?

I have great memories of cycling races when I was a kid, although I never took part in them, it’s all the rituals I vividly remember like the men’s shaved legs, the smell of camphor oil, the gross injuries and the muddy winters with cyclo-cross. My favourite ride as a grown-up was with my friends Marcus and Rob last year. We cycled to Dungeness. We had fish and chips there and then cycled to beautiful Rye. Such a wonderful landscape, and believe me, we had plenty of time to appreciate it because the winds were so strong, it felt like we were cycling backwards! When we thought we were over the worst, a hailstorm broke over our heads. We were soaked and tired for most of the journey back, but we had a great laugh. I definitely want to find the time to do more of that this year.

Illustration (of Cathy and her bicycle!) courtesy of { Katie Jean Harvey }

 

Thank you, Cathy!