A Cycle Touring Festival. Really?

Pendle Hill

Pendle Hill on route to the festival

A Cycle Touring Festival? Really? It does sound a bit unlikely doesn’t it? In actual fact though it proved to be a huge success and very enjoyable indeed.

I’m not really surprised. Whenever we meet other tourers when we are away it inevitably leads to great conversations and many wonderful evenings in pubs or hostels swapping stories and sharing tips about gear and locations. The idea of bringing over two hundred cycle tourists together in the same location for a weekend could only ever result in much, much more of the same. Add to that some great food, a stunning location on the banks of The River Ribble in Lancashire, tales of amazing journeys by bicycle from all around the world and a couple or three beers and you have a heady recipe for a memorable weekend.

Two hundred cycle tourers on a hill and not a bike in sight.

Two hundred cycle tourers on a hill and not a bike in sight.

Although most of the speakers and slide shows revolved around amazing journeys, often around the whole world, there was no sense of feeling second class if your longest tour was a week or two in the Dales. I loved the fact that when you started talking to somebody you really didn’t know if you were going to end up discussing bikes on Virgin Trains or running out of water in the high Andes mountains. I particularly enjoyed the various snippets of conversation that I overheard as I wandered about. Things like; “then we ran out of money in South East Asia” or “we are touring novices, we’ve only done one trip. From Chorley to Istanbul”.

It’s tempting to make reference to the high points of the weekend but to be honest that implies that there were contrasting low points but there weren’t. Apart from when it was hammering on the tent in the middle of the night I wasn’t even aware that it rained for most of the first twenty four hours. Such was the quality of the entertainment and conversation all day long.

We have come home with a real feeling that we are part of a genuine community. We have made new friends, caught up with old ones and enjoyed some great laughs, mostly related to the ridiculous predicaments that cycle touring tends to generate. As a measure of how outstandingly friendly and generous people were Gill and I expressed an interest in trying out a tandem for touring and before we knew it we had not one, but three offers of a loan of one from tandem owners. The trust and generosity were truly moving.

Dinner with friends old and new.

Dinner with friends old and new.

The same message came over in talk after talk and in countless conversations; the world is full of kind and generous people, all you have to do is ask.

Pendle again but on the way home.

Pendle again but on the way home.

There is only one way to measure whether such an event was a success and that is to pose the question would we go again. The answer is a resounding yes from us, as it was from everybody I asked during the weekend. Well done to Laura and Tim and all the folk who helped to make it such a great weekend.

No reflection on the extremely well organised festival.

No reflection on the extremely well organised festival.

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One thought on “A Cycle Touring Festival. Really?

  1. Hi Gill and Tony,
    We met you at the Festival, I think it was during the tandem presentation, but didn’t get much of a chance to chat – there was so much going on! Like so many of the people we met you were very unassuming – little did we know of your achievements!
    We’ve never done any touring, but it’s something we’re keen to try, especially now after the festival, which was our first ever ‘cycle camp’ trip having biked it the 33 miles from home in West Lancs on our tandem. We bought ours from JD Tandems at Gargrave. The staff/owners couldn’t be more helpful and friendly. Nothing is too much trouble and they have a good selection of tandems available for test rides. We were out on one of there bikes all day on our second test ride.
    Tandems don’t suit all couples but we took to it straight away and absolutely love it. Not only does it ‘neutralise’ the difference in rider abilities but it creates a real togetherness. You work as a team, helping each other and there’s a different sense of achievement when, for example, you’ve had a particularly hard ride or challenging climb.
    There are downsides of course. Tandems are less easy to transport, expensive and slower up hill than solo bikes, (though they are also faster down hill and even on the flat.)
    JD don’t make specific touring tandems, there’s are described as being suitable for ‘light touring’ but a good test ride will give you an idea if it’s for you or not…….
    Cheers for now,
    John and Tracey

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