Tuesday, 22 December 2009

It's Snow Joke



A cold snap across Europe has left Manchester with slushy/icy roads for the last few days. The first day the roads were as the picture above - I decided to take the car to work! It wasn't too bad driving but took longer than a normal cycle commute as everyone seemed to be driving with a modicum of sense at least.

Trying not to let the weather beat me I decided to cycle if at all possible. The next time I was due to commence work I was starting a set of night shifts and the main roads had been cleared to a degree (by ploughing everything into the cycle lanes). I gave it a go on the bike. I left earlier than normal and had extra clothing in case I needed to get off and walk. It only took 20 mins instead of a normal 15 min journey time. I went extra slow around corners and on the side roads but had no problems at all.

Due to leave for a night shift in half an hour and will be taking the bike again. The roads are maybe a little more slushy after fresh snowfall today but it hasn't frozen yet. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Amble About

Warkworth Castle from Amble Harbour



My planned ride to Peel Tower had to be cut short as I had other more pressing commitments landed on me that day (and the weather was horrible). I still managed a 10 mile ride but felt disappointed with myself if truth be told. So I was determined to have a long ride at the weekend.

We got to the in-laws on late Friday evening and I woke fresh and raring to go on Saturday. I already had a cycle route map and a GPS route planned on my SatMap, the bike was checked over and the weather was dry. I set off at about 10.30 hrs and suggested to family they could meet me in Amble around 12.30 hrs for fish and chips before I set off for the return leg.

Getting there I reckoned was going to be 22.5 miles of mainly road/cycle lane with a smaller proportion of traffic free Bridleway/old railway path. I arrived in Amble after 95 mins having covered 24 miles and only having stopped at junctions/lights or to open/close gates. The route was generally good although the cycle paths through Ashington are designed for the benefit of cars on the whole and I was a bit put out cycling the coast section (on tarmac) to suddenly find I had to cross a three gated muddy fields sans cows before being able to return to firmer ground.

Arriving at Amble I felt fine and looked forward to meeting the family. Unfortunately the family had other ideas and were still pottering around at home (I made better time than they expected they explained!!) so I had my repast while I waited for them to arrive. When they made an appearance after an hour we headed to the beach to let the Golden Child have a play in the sand then retired to the cafe while I had a cup of tea and they had lunch. At 14.30 hrs I left them and retraced my tyre marks into the now sinking sun. I wanted to complete the coastal, unlit section while there was still some natural light - most of the inland section being navigable by street lights.

The ride back was harder. There was a slight head wind along the coast, the inland section had a distinct overall ascent and I was cold (note to self: must get some waterproof cycling socks). Still, I got back in 110 mins. I had done 48 miles of cycling and apart from cold feet and a bit of a neck ache didn't feel too bad at all. Even the next day didn't present any stiffness and I could easily have done it all over again.

I know my charity ride is still seven months away but I feel really excited by the prospect of a week of cycle touring. I plan to get some longer training rides before it and will even try for a two or three day fully kitted up/camping out trip if time allows.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Commuting Is Not Enough

Peel Tower, Holcombe Hill




The beauty of cycle commuting to work is I have been fitting my 60 mins of aerobic exercise into a work day. I tend to do 3 long days or 4 nights per week so the "shift" is either 10 or 14 hrs long. When I'm not at work I am either looking after my little girl or out with my wife on the days she in not working. However, things have recently changed and it is easy to tell the difference with a distinct lack of energy and a slight drop in mood.

You see I have just started work at a site nearer to home (3.5 miles instead of 6.3) with less hills to get there as well. The upshot is an extra 30 mins in bed of a morning but the downside is after 5 trips of the new commute I don't really feel like I have done any exercise (hence the drop in energy/mood). I arrive at work fresh as a daisy but feeling ready to up the pace rather than stop. My nearest and dearest tells me to get out of bed earlier and do a longer route but I am not a morning person and the extra 30 mins is really nice so this is not a realistic option. I am happy to take a longer route home but after 14 hrs and the possibility of doing it all again the next day I doubt I will be doing this every shift.

I need to start doing some longer runs in prep for the Pennine Cycleway next year so I am going to start trying to fit in some road cycling when the Golden Child is in nursery of a morning. While she generally goes for just 2.5 hrs this is enough to get out and about for 20-25 miles or so. I am starting tomorrow and will be heading via Bury up to Peel Tower at Holcombe Hill and back.

So I hope to feel energised at the end of it rather than just knackered. If it goes alright I will be doing a 44 mile return route from Morpeth to Amble along the Coast and Castles route at the weekend (visiting family up north).

The way shifts for Christmas are going plus December family commitments this is the most extra I am likely to get this year. I do have an invite for a local ride with Coco who lives nearby so will have to really put aside some time in the New Year.

Watch out Coco…!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Near Death Experiences

Twice in the last couple of weeks I have come close to death or serious injury while cycle commuting. I am sure we can all recall experiences that cause some concern whilst using the roads in whatever mode, but I am talking really close to being taken out big time!

Both instances are similar and both caused me further upset and anger because the driver in each case thought what happened was entirely justified. One even seriously thought she had done me a favour. Let me explain.

Cycling along a 30mph (48kph) road. In one case within a road based cycle lane i.e. a painted white line forcing you into the gutter/leaves/debris at the kerbside, the other just sharing the traffic lane. Both times in daylight but poor viz due to rain and spay. Doing about 18-22 mph (about 29-35 kph). Wearing a high viz yellow, reflective striped jacket, a helmet with a reflective chevron band and with two Cat Eye rear flashers and one front flasher - highly visible in other words!. Both drivers accelerate past me, positioning themselves about 3-6 M ahead, then brake and turn across my path into a side junction. In both cases I had to brake hard to avoid being flattened/mangled as two solid objects obviously cannot occupy the same space and I would obviously have come off far worse than the car.

I challenged both (each time they were turning into a driveway or forecourt area and so had stopped). The first said she was safer doing this rather than waiting behind me to turn because she accelerated hard, braked hard and turned sharply therefore managing to get in front of me and turn across my path just before I reached it! The second was a rude, ignorant, young driver who insisted he had the right of way as a car driver and then got angry with me because I had dared to touch his car window to speak to him.

For those of you who may not be clear what the relevant law says here is part of the Highway Code (remember this is the UK and we drive/ride on the left side of the road).

The Highway Code rule 167

DO NOT overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users. For example

  • when you would force another road user to swerve or slow down
  • stay behind if you are following a cyclist approaching a roundabout or junction, and you intend to turn left

So my question is: What should I do about these instances?

My first thought/reaction at the time is to drag the offender out of the car and show them how angry I really am but social and legal restrictions inhibit me. Later, I feel like getting a helmet mounted camera and using it all the time so can film future idiots and so go to the police with evidence. An expensive, time consuming option but one that would give me great video for the blog.

I look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Reflective Reflections

Background
Cycling home from work at 22.00hrs in October. Some street lighting but it is dark.  I am wearing a HiViz/yellow jacket, have a refective band around my helmet, reflective strips are stuck to various points on my bike, my panniers have big reflective patches and I have two front and two rear flashing lights. I have been told I look like a Christmas tree but personally I believe I am much more jarring than that!

Situation
Passing a road side pub. Several men stood outside smoking and drinking. Abuse and profanities shouted towards me. None returned.

Analysis
I stand out. They are in a group and have likely imbibed a considerable amount of alcohol (and so feel brave on both counts). They are prats.

Reflection
I am noticed by drunken men when I am cycling at night. I feel a little safer.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Cycling On The Rails

The bike park at Oxford railway station



I was in Oxford for a couple of days earlier this week to teach on a course. Deciding to go by train rather than car and knowing the hassle of getting into Manchester centre in the morning and Oxford centre in the evening and also having stayed at the hotel previously, I thought it would be good to cycle to and from the train stations and between the course centre and the hotel. Of course that meant I needed to reserve a bicycle space for the train journeys but that isn't a problem is it?

Cross Country Trains says on its website:

"You’re advised to reserve a space for it before you travel – bike reservations are free and can be made at the same time you buy your train ticket.
On all our trains we have two reservable bike spaces. Bikes for which no reservation has been made will be accepted on a first come, first served basis and subject to space being available."

I booked my train ticket one month before travelling but was unable to reserve a bike space due to a 'technical error' on the website. I then rang the helpline to book one and was told all the spaces were booked for both legs of the journey. As I couldn't risk not being able to bring my bike back I reluctantly decided I would have to forgo the bicycle element of the trip.

And the result? Well despite giving it an hour on the Manchester Metrolink tram to travel 6 miles I only just made the station after being crushed in an emergency stop and on the return in Oxford I made it with only 2 mins left thanks to a taxi that was 20 mins late - a journey I could have done in half the time on a bicycle.

And what was really annoying was there was a completely empty bike rack on the carriage! Thanks a lot Cross Country Trains.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Racking The Changes


I already have a Blackburn rear pannier rack which has been adequate for my needs for the last few years carrying smallish, often half empty panniers. However, I have found my new Ortlieb panniers, when full, sometimes catch on my heel which is really annoying. I can't move the bags any further back and so had already decided to get a Tubus Logo rear rack with the new bike. It allows panniers to hang further and lower over the rear wheel, so lowering the centre of gravity and stabilizing the load. It also seems to be the one for most touring set-ups. As I have already got a new Brooks B17 saddle for transfer to the new bike (a report to follow in a few weeks or so) I decided to get a new rack and fit it to the Marin for now. What a difference!

The rack was easy to fit in about 10 mins, looks like it could hold a smallish mountain, is lightish (not much different to the Blackburn) and really changes the bag position. The result is no more heel catching and a significant improvement in the feel of the bike, particularly when pushing or going slowly. I did balk at the price (£83.00!!) but am really pleased with it now I have it. As a bonus it also has a plate to fit a rear light to which is very useful. I now have a second rear horizontal rear flasher to complement the vertical one on my seatpost and the difference in visibility to traffic is dramatically improved.

I always think you can't be too visible for some motorists and with lots of dark night and early morning commutes over the next few months it will make me feel just that bit safer. I have certainly noticed some traffic giving me slightly more room when overtaking, so that's not a bad thing.

One more step nearer to my dream bike.

Friday, 2 October 2009

It's going to be a Santos

A Brixton Cycles employee?



Well October is here and I have a new job. Still with the same employer but also with a promotion so happy to stay put for the next few years (if I hadn't have got the job I would have been looking at other prospects in the area). The only problem is I am still waiting for my employer to start the cycle to work scheme! I'm going to give it a few months and try to apply some pressure in the meantime but if it still not up and running by 2010 I'll just bite the bullet and buy without any assistance.

A downside of the new job (there aren't many if any colleagues are reading) is I have changed to a different location and have cut my 13 mile return commute with hills to a 6 mile, flattish route. A shorter commute and less hilly - what a bonus I can imagine some people thinking! Those of you that enjoy your cycling though will know 3 miles is barely a warm up and without a hill or two there is little aerobic challenge. Still, it's a small price to pay for the promotion and as the Golden Child has just started Nursery School five mornings a week the wife and I have some extra 'non child care time' that can be utilised as needed. Looks like I will be looking for some fun routes to do.

Pretty much decided on a Santos Travelmaster for the new bike. 700cc wheel size, aluminum frame in pearl white, a Rohloff hub gear system and Magura hydraulic rim brakes. There are only four dealers in the UK according to Santos website. The nearest to me, in Ilkley, only deals in Santos tandems and the remaining three are all down south; Brixton Cycles in south London, MSG Bikes on the south coast and Ben Hayward Cycles in Cambridge. Despite having the least slick website and not offering (demanding?) a computerised, pre order measurement service at the shop (so needing at least two visits), I have decided to go with Brixton Cycles. It is the easiest/cheapest to get to by train and I had a really good chat with one of the guys there. He sounded pretty switched on and has ridden a Travelmaster for a few months and so could advise from experience.

It's going to be an exciting Christmas!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Cycling Cold Turkey

In London for 2nd half of holiday. No cycling for 6 days and surrounded on all sides by commuter cyclists. Going quietley mad!!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Cycle Route 68



Have dropped The Golden Child at the sister-in-laws for a couple of nights while the wife and I do some walking. We are in Northumbria and keep coming across marker posts for cycle route 68 -AKA The Pennine Cycleway.

The roads and forest tracks look great and my wife read me correctly when she asked if i'd like to be cycling it now. I had to say yes but qualified it by adding that was only if it was a choice between walking and cycling as a solo activity rather than a coupley one.

I think I got away with it!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Weekly Averages

Got a Cateye Strada trip computer last week. Averaged 100 miles at 14.5 mph on various commute routes since. A higher number of miles than normal due to shifts but happy with the speed as I like to coast to lights and hit them on green rather than wait at them on red.

Most of time i was between 16 - 22 mph with uphills at 8 - 13 mph. The hills are getting easier though!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Dutch Bike Shops

Eric Schuijt runs a bike shop in Amsterdam called DeVakantiefietser, which i think means Holiday Cyclist. The website is in Dutch but Google can translate to English if required, although the original meaning is sometimes a little mangled.

The guy specializes in touring bikes and stocks both Koga and Santos along with various others. Not only does he sell them but he tours them as well. The video below shows him and a friend cycling/pushing their bikes through Patagonia.

This is a man I can do business with. A trip to Amsterdam is looking more and more likely then. I just hope his English is better than my Dutch (won't be hard!).

Another moblog

The Golden Child

video
Just checking out the new phone but as have child care duties about the nearest i'll get to a bike today.

Posted 10 mins after shooting video while still in the park.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Moblogging

Got a new mobile phone and provider as my old one owed me nought and T Mobile just cut my loyalty discount - tripling my monthly bill!

Upshot? Can now moblog with ease, as with this entry, so will be trying some pics and video while out and about.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

New Bike...but when?

Well, getting back to work after the holiday I found my employer - despite trumpeting an environment friendly travel policy and being a huge national concern - doesn't actually take part in the cycle to work scheme! Speaking to the manager concerned I learnt it maybe happening by the end of September...maybe. If it is up and running they will partner with the cyclescheme company and so will provide up to £1000.00 in voucher form to use at participating dealers. Cycle Sense in Tadcaster does participate so that is some relief anyway as they are my local Koga dealers. There is a twist though...

I have been looking at various forums on the pros and cons of various touring bike set ups and the more I read the harder it becomes to make any final decisions. Also a second contender is now up for consideration - Santos bicycles - another custom builder in the Netherlands. (The website is in Dutch but they plan to have a English language version up "...by the end of the Summer...". Your guess is as good as mine!)

A couple are cycling the length of the Americas on a pair of Santos Travelmasters and documenting their travels on www.worldonabike.com. I must admit it was Mark Beaumont's record breaking round the world cycle that switched me onto the Koga and this trip has highlighted the Santos bike. Both Koga and Santos would no doubt provide more than the bike I need for commuting and what are likely to be shortish tours in Europe but I still want to choose the most appropriate bike for me and that means researching all I can (It's half the fun!).

Still, I need to confirm my potential job change this month and have a employer scheme to use before I will consider spending hundreds of pounds on a pushbike. I also have a perfectly acceptable bike set up for commuting in the Marin and my Pennine Cycleway isn't happening until July 2010 so I have time I can bide.

I have just ordered a Brooks B17 saddle from Wiggle though, so I can at least start to break that in!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Family Cycling - The Return

The Golden Child, rental trailer and the old workhorse



Well we went to bed last night to a forecast for heavy showers today, got a thunderstorm in the night and strong westerlies this morning. The forecast was to improve over the day so we had a lazy morning and then went into Keswick after lunch. The weather had brightened, the wind lessened and things were looking good.

As we drove south though things decided to look the other way and the weather turned black - Borrowdale disappearing behind a curtain of rain. We only had a limited rental window left the for the trailer so as soon as we arrived at the car park I shot off to collect it. The decision to cycle the path could be made when the rest of the group arrived.

Leaving the car park the heavens decided to open. I don't mind being soaked as I soon dry out when cycling but thought the rest of the group would have vetoed the excursion in my absence. However, the shower was short lived and they were just about ready upon my return. The day was looking good again.

The sky turned blue (in small patches) as we left the old railway station - me with child/trailer, the BIL with child/tag along, the wife with her old tank of a bike, the sister with her sub £70.00 "full suspension" bike and the two eldest nieces with their little bikes.

The incline at the beginning is the steepest section but it didn't cause us any problems. I just dropped to the front middle ring and put my head down - the trailer was noticeable but not too difficult, a bit like riding with full panniers and a bit of head wind. Everyone else made it up still cycling although some were puffing more than others.

Once past the wooden path section, which clings to the cliff above the River Greta as the route goes below the A66 flyover, the rain started, got heavier and also decided to approach from a 45 degree angle. The youngest niece, exposed on the tag along, was not enjoying it but the Golden Child was having a great old time eating biscuits and shouting "faster Daddy". We were about halfway to Threlkeld and decided to press on and hope for better weather for the return. If better weather was not forthcoming the BIL and I could always leave the kids/mothers at the pub and return to Keswick for the cars.

As we arrived at the pub the rain now decided it was a good time to stop and the Sun even made an appearance so, after welcome refreshments, the concensus was for all to return on the bikes. The youngest niece strongly vocalised her opposition to this but was quickly vetoed by her mother who for some reason didn't fancy being left in the pub for an hour or so. Me? I have no problem being in a real ale pub for several hours or so but probably not with either my daughter or youngest niece so I can see her point.

The Sun had had enough by the time we set off and the rain had returned after resting for exactly the time we had been inside. We decided to split into two groups as we only had 45 mins to return the trailer. My wife and I went ahead so I could leave the Golden Child with her while I went to unhitch at the bike shop, the rest of the group following at a more sedate pace.

The return journey was kinder with the weather in the end and when I met up with the rest of the mob I found they had actually all had a good time. Returning to the holiday home (and Ninny Nanny who we had left having a bath that morning) we found it had been glorious weather there and hadn't once even threatened a spit of rain.

That's the Lake District for you!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Kiddie Trailer

A day of walking today.

Attempted Catbells but a combination of an ailing 'Ninny Nanny' + several young children forced a bailout from the saddle between the two peaks. Better safe than sorry I always say.

Did go into Keswick to book the kiddie bike trailer for tomorrow. Keswick -Threlkeld - Keswick railway path here we come!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Family Cycling


Me (left), the BIL and his two eldest



Loading the cars at the end of the ride


We headed to Keswick today to cycle the old railway line to Threlkeld which is now a walking/cycling path and part of the C2C route. By we I mean me, the brother in law (BIL) and his two eldest girls. The wives decided to join us for part of it along with the youngest niece (5) and my daughter (3) - bad idea!

We descended to the path from the busy dual carriageway with the two youngest girls on kiddie bikes/stabilizers. As soon as my daughter left the tarmac and started on the gravel section she didn't want to carry on any more and the tears ensued. I offered to tow her on the Trailgator I had brought along and which she had resolutely refused to use prior to this point and she, to my amazement, said yes. Well she managed 5M and the tears became a torrent and the wails became a wall of noise. She actually didn't like it one bit.

So? The BIL, two nieces and myself did the return trip and had a great ride. The two wives and two respective youngest children went back to the Horse and Farrier pub in Threlkeld to meet 'Ninny Nanny' (the BIL's mother!) who we had left nursing a half pint of bitter, reading the Mirror and gently muttering to herself.

And me? I had to tow the golden child's pink, tasselled kiddie bike to Keswick and back to various passing comments from those we past along the lines of "you've lost one". Very funny for the first couple of times but wearing after the next five comedians had made their stab for the Perrier.

And the upshot? The wives liked the bit they did so much we are going to do it all again this week but I have to tow the golden child in a rental, tow along, kiddie trailer.

Happy holidays!

Monday, 24 August 2009

New Bike!!

Spoke to my wife about our plan to buy a "runabout" car this year. We both had a car before getting married but have only run one between us for several years. She misses the independence (especially when she has our little girl while I'm using the car for work).

I am averse to spending money without good reason and since cycling to work think we don't need a second car, particularly as we live next to a Metro Station and on a main bus route. However, I do have my sights set on a new bike (see my Dream Bike section) and suggested to my better half that I buy a bike for commuting/touring instead (thoughts of the Pennine Cycleway next year), she has the car for her own use while I'm at work and I convert my Marin back to a mountain bike for messing around on i.e. put knobbly tyres on and take mudguards off. She said yes!

I am going to order a Koga Signature in the next month or two using the cycle to work scheme. Just need to confirm my current work situation (might be changing employer soon) and then will have a visit to the local UK dealer - Cycles Sense - in Tadcaster to firm up frame size and get thier opinion on some decisions to be made. Do I go for front suspension or use rigid forks along with a suspension seat post instead? rim brakes or disc brakes? is a "butterfly" handlebar as good as made out or just posey nonsense?

The choices to be made!

Brotherly Love Part II

Got out early today and did the same route by myself.

Managed to average 15.4mph and reduced the circuit time from 56 to 42 mins!

Noticed the difference in the legs this time but really felt i had managed some exercise.

We are just off the for the pootle version now as he is out of bed.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Brotherly Love Part I

Went for a ride this AM around the area we are staying (just north of the Lakes). It is mostly flat with quiet country roads. I planned a 10 mile circular route and hoped to complete it in under 40 mins.

Invited my brother in law along for the ride, not expecting him to be so keen to join me. He has an old racer, used to cycle to work up to a year ago and on top of that he is taller and leaner than me. I expected him to set the pace. How wrong could I be?

I set off first as I knew the route and within 1/2 mile had opened a fair gap. I thought he was happy to have a gap on the twisty roads but realised after another mile the distance was increasing despite slowing my pace. I stopped and let him catch up and then tucked in beside him. He was working hard and had a bit of a sweat on. I didn't want to make a competition of it (despite my inclination) and so we finished off the rest of the circuit at a nice pootle.

We got back in 54 mins and averaged 12mph. I am planning the same ride tomorrow and hope to do it by myself at some point this week and see what times I can achieve - brother in law willing!

Friday, 21 August 2009

Pedestrian Pillock

Deansgate circa 1930
Trams don't operate on this street now and the cobbles are long gone

My last of ten consecutive nights shifts tonight before my holiday so on a bit of a high. This one (and the first) are actually additional shifts i do on an ad hoc basis. So instead of heading to Bury tonight i turned left and blitzed 6 miles down the A56 into Manchester city centre.

20 mins and i am on Deansgate making about 18mph. Very little traffic as the road is partially shut due to roadworks but a fair number of pedestrians about (Friday evening in the city centre!!). It is still light but i have my front flasher on anyway. Then it happens. A male youth steps into the road without once bothering glancing in my general direction. Even though he is crossing my lane and oblivious to my presence i am not concerned - i have seen him and there is a 5M gap between us - stop pedalling, aim for the gutter area,  pass behind and he'll be none the wiser. Or so i thought!

He must catch my flasher in the corner of his eye. Something makes him look anyway. All of a sudden the situation is dramatically changed. My flasher is now a full beam headlight and he is a frozen rabbit. Stay frozen i think, there is room for me to pass, start using the rear brake. No good - he decides maybe the middle of the road is not a place to wander into without thinking and so makes the decision to dart back to the pavement from whence he came. My route is now cut off. I will hit him if i carry on. Both brakes on hard. Lock the back wheel up. Turn away from him. Try to minimize the damage.

I slide to a halt with less than 10cm to spare. How i didn't flatten him i will never know. The look on his face was priceless - part gormless and part stunned with a smattering of embarrassment. He mumbled something i didn't listen to as i cycled round him. I realize my feet have not left the pedals, i have avoided a potential nasty collision by dint of my observation and riding skill, it is my last night shift and i am going to the Lakes for a weeks holiday tomorrow. I don't even tell him he is a pillock - he knows already. I feel really good.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Saddle Options

Since my recent saddle problem and the borrowed saddle/seat post, i have really noticed the benefit of a saddle that, well...fits! My old saddle is fine for comfort but is starting to come apart at the seams and i was thinking of getting a new one anyway.

Since starting this blog i have been reading some of the great cycle touring blogs, such as Mark Beaumont's,  and have been impressed by the number of times the Brooks B17 leather touring saddle gets mentioned.

I think i will get one. Just need to justify the cost to my wife. On the other hand maybe i will not mention it to her. I don't have many vices and i did agree not to buy a motorbike when we got married!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Muppet Man

Riding home yesterday morning, i came to a set of red lights with a van stopped in the cycle box. I nipped past him and stopped next to a fellow cyclist. I was first away as the lights changed and was very shortly overtaken (with very little room) by the van man who then pulled over towards the kerb having barely just passed me. He then had to stop completely as the the two lanes of traffic filtered into one and all 4+ wheel traffic was at a standstill ahead. I stopped at his open window and politely but firmly made him aware of how dangereous his driving was. To give him some credit i don't think he was being deliberately idiotic but rather just had no idea of how to drive around cyclists. Isn't that normally the story!

While i was conversing with this muppet, the cyclist from the lights plus another passed me. I caught up with them at the next set, after filtering through the standing traffic, joining them in the cycle box. We briefly commented about the van man and one said he had done exactly the same thing to him at some earlier lights. Who knows? maybe he might be more aware next time? maybe?

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Saddle Problems

The day i was starting my current run of night shifts i noticed there was a little play in my saddle. Attempting to tighten up the required bolt it sheared into two pieces. I went along to Cooksons Cycles in Whitefield to see if they had a spare and arrived at 17.00hrs ( i was due to leave for work at 19.00hrs). They couldn't have been more helpful and while they didn't have the right size bolt they have lent me a secondhand seatpost and saddle while i await a replacement part to arrive. Great service.

Unfortunately, coming home from work yesterday i noticed the saddle - pedal distance had changed and realised the seatpost had dropped 10cms or so since it had been fitted. I don't carry a full range of tools on my commute and so couldn't make the required alterations until i got home. The difference in power and speed was quite noticeable during the ride. I felt like i was riding a little kids bike (although still managed a cyclist on cyclist overtake!). I have now altered my "with bike" tool/spares kit to make sure i don't have the same problem again. Lesson learned.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Pothole Dodging




On my way home from Bury there is a section of the A56 that has several potholes as per the photo examples. These are made worse by the fact they are encountered just after leaving a set of lights and starting up a hill - the traffic setting off from the lights racing to get past the slowing cyclist so giving limited room for manoeuvre.
I have therefore decided to do something about the state of the road where it presents a danger and to this end have filed a report with fillthathole. I haven't had anything back to say there is imminent work planned but have received an acknowledgement.
I''ll let you know how it goes.

Friday, 14 August 2009

GPS Average Speeds

Interested in my average speed on my commute, i set my SatMap GPS unit on the bike on my way to and from to work last night/this morning. Managed an average moving speed of 14.5mph and an average speed (including stops) of 13.9mph.
A little anal i know but useful to see how (hopefully) my fitness continues to improve as time goes on.
It was interesting to see on a long moderate hill section how easy it was to squeeze out that little bit more effort in order to make double figures and on the flat to make 20+mph

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Rush Hour Joy!

Have just started a run of night shifts so will be heading towards Manchester with the rush hour traffic. To make things even more interesting a stretch of dual carriageway (the A56 before the M60) is currently reduced to one lane because of roadworks. I imagine there will be at least half a mile of standing traffic when i get to it. Going to really enjoy filtering past feeling self satisfied and virtuous.

Will try and post some pics of it later this week. Wish me luck.

Setting Up A Blog

Inspired to start blogging since starting cycling a 13 mile (return) work commute from Prestwich to Bury this year. I hope to write a bit about my experiences, vent my frustrations and document changes in fitness levels.

Also planning a sponsored cycle of the Pennine Cycleway in summer 2010 to raise money for the Marfan Trust. I hope to have a following (of sorts) to help inspire me in the preparation and the ride itself.

Anyway, thanks for looking and let me know what you find of interest or what you would like to write more (or less) about.