Groundhog Day

Yesterday was Groundhog Day and though the set of results from the rodent celebrities of North America were mixed, their verdict was that spring was on its way (save for poor Woodstock Willie whose appearance was cancelled due to a snowstorm). 

A Sustrans volunteer ranger has also recenlty emerged from his own hibernation and this lunchtime he finally got around to replacing a sign on NCN Route 6 (see reason for its absense below).  I haven’t been active of late and to be honest my hibernation has been more than a single season long.  About 5 years ago when I signed up I spent a few weekends getting to know the Rangers along Route 6 from Salford up to Blackburn.  Most of the time ‘we’ went up the valley to ‘them’ but I grew frustrated that time together was being wasted on get to know you sessions rather than doing any work.  We also travelled around at ridiculously low speeds.  We were too large a group spread over too large an area. 

I prefer to act as a loner, I’m a bit of a maverick and will do things my own way thank you very much.  I’ve been interested in the development of Routes 6 and 55 through Salford which I stand by as very useful and interesting routes.  In recent years I have helped sign Eccles New Road and reported a Route 6 sign to the fire brigade that I once found alight and other such good stuff.  A couple of weeks ago, after a discussion about Ranger coverage in the area at the Salford Cycle Forum meeting, I felt guilty enough to go out running one Saturday morning armed with a claw hammer and a wallpaper stripper to remove some superfluous signs from Prestwich Forest park now that permanent signs have been planted along an improved and slightly more direct route.  It took much of an hour to remove just 6 signs and I began to realise why I hadn’t done this sooner.

Signing is an absolutely thankless job.  One sign missing, twisted, shot to bits, felled or torched and the whole cycling experience of people in the area seems to be ruined and be warned that fellow Rangers are the most critical.

At the forum I committed to finding out who was active in Salford and of my contacts from 3 years ago I haven’t found anyone yet.  NCN 6 isn’t in a bad state now that the signing is complete, and once it’s light at either end of the working day, I’ll return to regular patrols  along it and redirect 3 of my work colleagues along the route instead of taking the more direct Bury New Road based routes.

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About holmesinho

Happily married father of 2 living in Prestwich 5 miles north of Manchester, England. I cycle most days though mostly commuting and also enjoy running and triathlon.
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One Response to Groundhog Day

  1. Jonathan says:

    Lovely day yesterday, but the weather in Manchester today is back to the same old (groundhog day?) grismal – grey and dismal !
    So I’m holding you responsible for tempting fate 🙂

    I hear what you’re saying about being a Sustrans ranger – working independently or in small groups is often more effective, combined with the odd pub/curry meet-up – useful for comradery and exchanging info/tactics.

    Good idea re. taking the colleagues on the quieter route once the surfaces improve – I think that’s the answer to getting more people cycling.
    When their bike handling, fitness and confidence is improved then then roads can be less daunting.

    Here’s the way activism works in Bristol, watch out for the People’s Front!
    http://bristolcars.blogspot.com/2011/02/south-gloucestershire-bollards-who-are.html

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