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Sunday, 17 August 2014

Electric Bike Ride Round Kielder Water

Kielder Water in Northumberland is a man-made reservoir which has a multi-user track that stretches 26.5 miles all the way round. On Friday I had the amazing opportunity to ride the Batribike Diamond Pro electric bike on that track.

The weather was overcast as we arrived at the Tower Knowe Visitor Centre and car park just below the dam on the southern shore. We packed our cameras, waterproofs, bottled water and apples, to sustain us on the adventure, and set off. We had decided to take the clockwise route, starting on the shady side and saving the sunny northern shore for the return journey.

I was immediately impressed with the surface and width of the track. My research had shown that it is suitable for cyclists, walkers and wheelchairs and I would definitely agree. The track does occasionally meet a road but apart from car park areas we did not share any part with road traffic – it was a very safe route for all.

We started along the waterside and then headed into the trees. The route was very well way-marked and the handy little map that we picked up in the visitor centre told us where to find sculptures and other points of interest around the route.

Some of the roads that we met showed a different history of the area, before it was a reservoir.
The end of the Road!
There were also new bridges to carry the route round. This curved suspension bridge was a lovely sight as we came out of the trees.

Kielder Water itself was obviously the star of the show and we had some lovely views as we rode round.

This wooden head had stairs inside so you could climb to the first floor and look out of the eyes!

I had assumed that the route would be fairly level as it is a waterside route, but actually it is quite undulating with some quick ascents and descents. The Diamond Pro took them all in its stride, I did have to increase to max power and drop down the gears for the steepest ones but this was not a problem. I was very impressed with its performance. We were about two thirds of the way round when we me a lady coming the other way on a Batribike Diamond LCD. We said hello and how are you doing. She said that she was very pleased that since getting her Diamond she rides further than she did before.

We soon reached some giant reclining chairs and stopped in the sunshine to eat our apples.

The open stretches of track were bounded by heather, Willowherb and waving grasses and were full of Finches that rose like swarms of butterflies and fluttered along in front of us.

We finished the ride across the dam and back to the car park as the skies became a little darker. A great day out and a good workout for the bikes.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Poppies at the Tower, and Ride London

Yesterday the alarm went off at 3.00 am. It was time to get up and head into London! Batribike had once again been invited to demonstrate electric bikes in Green Park for the RideLondon Free Cycle event.

It was still dark as we drove along the Embankment and I used my phone to get a quick picture of the London Eye all lit up.

Then onward down the Mall in the dark as the barriers went up.

We arrived at the BEBA electric bike test area and unloaded, as it began to get light we got set up and ready for the day. We were in a different part of the park this year but the designated test ride area certainly meant that lots more people came to have a try out and see what electric bikes were all about.

Once again I took the opportunity to ride the FreeCycle route. The Mall looked different in the daylight and it was nice to be out riding the Batribike Diamond Pro.

This time it wasn't just the taking part that was on my mind. I really wanted to see the WW1 memorial poppies at the Tower of London. The Tower is the turning point for the ride where the cyclists sweep round a U-Turn bend. It was quite crowded here and I edged across to the side of the road and dismounted onto the pavement.

Everyone wanted to see the poppies and the pavement was crowded with tourists and cyclists trying to catch a glimpse of the sea of red ceramic poppies that form the start of this major art installation Bloodswept Lands and Seas of Red.

I got my bike across to the railings and peered across the greenery for my first look. Wow! It was breath taking, and emotional too.

I wheeled my bike through the crowds to get to a lower level for a better view. I was going against the flow of tourists who seemed bemused by the sheer numbers of cyclists pushing their bikes.

The poppies are amazing. 888,246 of them are being ‘planted’ by volunteers. Each one represents a British or Colonial military fatality from the First World War. All the poppies will be in place and the moat filled by Armistice Day on November the 11th. The roof of the White Tower is black, so the view from above will be of one immense memorial poppy.

It was time to complete the ride and I headed back to Green Park.

There were certainly lots of happy ‘electric smiles’ as visitors tried out the various bikes.

Finally it was time to pack up and head home. We left the park at 8.00 pm just fifteen hours after we had arrived, but what a great day, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in London.