Cumbrian bike industry struggling to recover from floods

Sustrans advising cyclists to avoid Coast to Coast route

Bike businesses at the heart of northern Cumbria's flood hit zone are struggling to recover and unsafe or collapsed bridges have lead Sustrans to advise people to avoid the very popular Coast to Coast, Hadrian's Cycleway and Reivers routes in the area.

There are many bridges on the cycle route in the area that are now not available, including:

  • Low Lorton (completely destroyed)
  • Workington (no bridges available at all, but the Territorial Army have just completed a temporary footbridge)
  • Cockermouth centre (closed)
  • Braithwaite west of Keswick (bridge washed away)

4 Play Cycles was at the heart of the Cockermouth flooding. Owner Adam Stitt told BikeRadar: "I wasn't really expecting any flooding as usually my bike shop isn't in the most flood prone area. I took the day off though, as there was flooding between my house and my bike shop. When I did finally get in a lot of the stock appeared to be just floating on the water, and when the water finally did drop I was amazed at how quickly a lot of bikes and bike parts had rusted. It's almost a 100% write off. It's taken two weeks just to clear things out and itemise what has been lost. I don't think I will be open again until the end of February 2010." 

He added: "At the end of the day though it's only stock to which I have no emotional attachment. Some people have lost much more in the floods than me."

Ironically Adam also organises a local rock festival, usually known by its nickname of CockRock, which raises money for the local Mountain Rescue team who were vitally important in rescuing locals stranded by the recent flooding. It had raised £32,000 at the last count. Although a summer festival there will also be a special charity gig on 28th December and CockRock organisers are putting together a CD to raise funds for flood victims.     

Rannerdale is a small business selling cycling route books, maps and clothing and is also based in Cockermouth's Market Place. It was inundated by six feet of water but thankfully owners Mike Carden and Ian Pollard managed to lift most of their stock to the upstairs or into their homes.

Speaking exclusively to BikeRadar Mike Carden gave an account of the day's events: "The river has never flooded in the 20 years I've been living in the town and although there was a bit of seepage through the door in the morning we received no warnings."

"By the middle of the day a small amount of water had entered the building and we decided to move computer equipment as a precaution - however, we were rapidly overtaken by events. We ended up moving books, maps and other equipment as the waters started to rise very rapidly over the course of about an hour and a half, putting things on desks just to keep them out of the way of the water. We then realised that the tables had started to float and I later found our computer back up tapes floating in an open container on top of the water!" 

"When we came back the following day the watermark on the room showed it had been up to six feet and was only a couple of feet off the first floor where the main server is kept."

"Thankfully some farmers turned up with a pump and pumped the room out."

He remained upbeat though, when comparing their experience to other small town centre businesses: "Some people have lost the use of both their businesses and houses. We are up and trading again already but for many others I'm sure they won't get back on their feet until well after Christmas."  

The Cumbrian flood appeal raised £1m within ten days of being set up and is still going strong.  

Nikki Wingfield, Sustrans Area Manager in Cumbria, said: "The advice we are giving those who are keen to tackle the affected routes in the coming weeks is to start on the east side of Keswick to avoid the closures for the C2C route, and to bypass Workington by train for the Hadrian's Cycleway, starting further up the route at Maryport or Silloth."

"We are in the process of assessing the flooded routes and, once we know the scale of the damage, we can begin the restoration process and make temporary diversions where appropriate."

For additional information and closure details, email Nikki Wingfield.

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