Thursday, 25 February 2010

Never, ever take the tube ...

I made a vow to myself yesterday. "I'll never take the tube again." I needed to go by tube for complex reasons, and found myself trying to get on to the Central Line. I waited for train after train after train, all packed. I could feel the stress taking over my body. I found myself muttering out loud. I wanted to scream with frustration. Other people waiting by other doors seemed to be getting on far quicker than me. Mine was the worst place to wait on the whole platform. Is this just what everyone goes through every day? How could anyone not cyle???

Needless to say, because of odd timings and work committments, I had to take the tube again today, so I broke that vow (not good for Lent, I know).

But I'm longing to be back on the bike tomorrow.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Example of poor cycling

I've been mucking about with a camera on my helmet. You'll have to forgive the very poor editing but I thought I would show you this incident where a cyclist just pulled out right in front of me. Bear in mind I was wearing a very bright reflective sash, and had a light with brand new batteries flashing - and that he actually looked at me before manoeuvering right into my path. Nice work! I don't want to moan - I must say at the time I almost found it funny because it was so blatantly silly.

Monday, 22 February 2010

How many bike shops would mend a child's scooter?

There was something faintly ridiculous about going into a bike shop with a little blue scooter meant for a 3 year-old. But the steering mechanism had gone wrong and I couldn't for the life of me get the main bolt off to have a good look at it. So I found myself rather sheepishly entering an establishment just off Broadway Market to ask if they would mind having a look at it.

I am fairly convinced that if I had gone to Evans, or Cycle Surgery, or any of the big ones, I would have been laughed out of court (though I'm willing to be swayed if anyone has contrary evidence). But I went to a rather unusual place called Lock 7. They took me seriously. I had coffee and a pain-au-chocolat (it's a rather odd mixture of being a bike shop and a cafe). The friendly mechanic duely took it apart, consulted me, tried a few things, fiddled, unscrewed, tightened. He spent a good 20 minutes on it. In the end he could get no further than me, but that's not the point. He gave it a go. And they charged me a tiny £1 for their time! You can imagine that I left a nice tip. And the coffee was generous and excellent.

While I was there, I overheard a couple of people chatting. I gathered that the most heinous crime in cycling is this: a family of four, all on seperate bikes, rode through red "at that junction on Chancery Lane - you know, that REALLY dangerous one". I can't say I know that junction, but I'll now look out for it. Apparently it's ... the worst in London.

Friday, 19 February 2010

What's the point in a Pusha ... bike?

I was intrigued to see a small group of people in Victoria Park, East London, walking along next to a shiny new looking white bike. There was a woman on the bike, kind of riding it, but making very heavy weather of it. When I looked at the bike more closely (well, it didn't need to be that close, to be honest, as it was pretty obvious) I saw that the bike had no pedals. Just a sort of running board, like a scooter, or on the side of those wonderful old cars. This particular lady was having a lot of trouble making the bike go. I think the principle is that you sort of scoot using your feet on the ground, then glide along.

The big question is ... why? I wouldn't have thought you could pick up any speed, and wouldn't it be irritating to have to keep running along the ground? I'd be interested to know if anyone's tried one, or could throw some light on what advantage they could have over a "normal" bike. The company, Pusha, do have a website though I found it slightly imprenetrable and it froze after a few clicks.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Felt a bit blocked ... now free???

I have been cycling quite a lot and had a lovely ride in this morning. Cold, fresh, very little traffic on the streets - something to do with half term. But I have been a bit reluctant to write. I've realised that it's because I've put a few people on the email distribution list for this blog - and I now see that I've been worried about clogging up people's email with my ramblings. So from now on I'm only going to email updates on this blog to people who ask - not to anyone I think may be interested.

It also allows me to bang on as usual and feel that I'm not causing inconvenience on email - and if people don't like the blog, they at least have the chance of leaving.

I've been trying out my new "helmet cam" - it takes good video. My next challenge is to take out clips rather than put 3.1 gigs on the blog (!) and bore you senseless with the whole journey. So - look out for clips.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Penguin feet - for Nat

I said I'd post up evidence of how much I look like a penguin when I wear my new waterproof overshoes ... (see "How to Waterproof your feet"). Well, in some secret recording in the shower room, here's evidence taken by me looking down at my feet. Or should I say - flippers:

Best tyres to avoid punctures?

I don't normally post twice in a day, but I haven't been on for a few days and I have a few things stored up. This one relates to tyres too (see below). I regularly got punctures and I remember it being miserable - I got so many, in fact, that it almost put me off cycling.

So I went to the bike shop and demanded the most rugged tyres they had. (Slightly reminiscent - though only slightly - of the "Withnail and I" scene where he demands "the finest cake and wine money can buy"). They fitted me with Schwalbe tyres. I think I can safely say (and this is so clearly tempting fate that I'm almost not going to say this at all) that I haven't had a puncture in more than a year, and that's riding in fairly rough London conditions sometimes 20 miles a day.

Chatting to a friend at work (a different one to the Brompton one) he revealed that he's just switched to Schwalbe after a miserably high number of punctures in the last few weeks. I'll give an update on how he gets on (in fact he reads the blog so you could just comment here!) because it would be interesting if there was a pattern emerging and whether it's really worth spending the extra money. And by the by, my Brompton friend also has Schwalbes ... not quite sure what that means though.

The strange case of the exploding Brompton tyre

I was chatting to a friend at work yesterday and he relayed a strange story. He does a commute into work on his Brompton, then folds the thing up and parks it in his office.  He said that - for the SECOND TIME - a tyre exploded in the office with a pretty loud bang, somewhat alarming co-workers in the area.

The explanation, he says, is that a shard of glass had probably become embedded in the tyre earlier that morning. Then, as the bike warmed up in the nice cosy office, the pressure built up, culminating in a big bang. Apparently the pressure on a Brompton is pretty high anyway. No idea why, but possibly it needs to be for such tiny wheels.

Anyway - rather alarming but fascinating. Any one else had an exploding tyre in the office before? (!)