Friday, 30 April 2010

Man surprised to read about his own death on a cycle forum

I was reading the very well known Bike Radar forum and was depressed to read about another fatality - this time in Leeds. There was a moving tribute thus:

Hate to get all maudlin, but saw the worst of sights yesterday on my cycle to work. Was happily freewheeling down the Otley Road into Headingley, then just past Woodies there it was – some poor guy over the bonnet of a VW Polo, sheet over him, ambulance staff not doing much of anything, pedestrians pale and crying.

It was his cleats that got me – shiny new red Look cleats on his shoes, the only part of his body which was visible from under the sheet. He must have started out that morning, fussing over how new and awkward they felt on his pedals, maybe worrying he’d aligned them wrong and they were screwing up his knees. Then it all changed.

Easy to see what had happened. He must have been bombing down the bus lane, and a car coming the other way had turned right; neither had seen each other due to the heavy stationary traffic.

It doesn’t half hit you hard seeing something like that. I felt naked and exposed after it, and looked at other cyclists on the road like we belonged to some sort of fraternity.

Anyway, be careful out there roadies. Slow down for those blind junctions, and assume everyone else on the road is an idiot.

Lots of nice comments, then this:

Just to say hello and i was they guy on the bonnet of this crash, i am ok, not dead, it was just a suspected back break hence the blanket and non movement - bikes bugged, but i am fine now.

Then this a bit further down from someone else:

Must be weird reading on the internet that you're dead. Pity about the bike.

I found it quite extraordinary - but the tone of the forum seemed to be that it's pretty standard stuff to come back from the dead! Have a look yourself, if you like, at Bike Radar

Thursday, 29 April 2010

This floating footbridge really tested my karma ...

I've got the old helmet cam working again - has anyone been down on the Regent's Canal recently and come across this walkway? You're expected to dismount and obviously most don't. Would you? BTW - some people may be offended by the T-Shirt the woman in front of me is wearing. I thought it took a bit of guts to sport something like that!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Don't trust me - I'm just a blogger

A nice anonymous person just pointed out very politely that I'd completely got my terms muddled. I've been happily banging on about "fixies" as if I knew what they were, but of course it turns out that I don't. I kind of thought that anything on wheels with just one gear was a fixie - but in fact a fixie is one where you can't freewheel and (I now think) has the brake as part of the pedal system ... (correct me if I'm wrong!).

The moral of the story is don't look for clever answers here - it's just a place to air issues to do with biking. I see myself as an enthusiastic amateur who picks up little bits of knowledge over the years. The real experts are out there! I suspect I need you more than you need me!

Love and karma all around. As they may have said in the 70's.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Now that's what I call a commute ...

Happened across this - a perfect antidote to all of us London commuters moaning about traffic!

pleasant commute from lucy Martin on Vimeo.

Where do cycling accidents actually happen?

This is a depressing post I'm afraid - but my attention was drawn to this map on a site called City Beast. Many of you may know about it already. But it logs all the fatalities and serious accidents which have happened in recent years, and shows the roads where most collisions have taken place.

I wasn't too surprised to discover that Theobold's Road, which I've blogged about quite a lot, is one of the most dangerous.

If you dare, have a look. And then avoid half the roads in London!

Monday, 26 April 2010

My bike has now got just one gear ... it used to have 24

This one's really for Paul, but may have some interest for others wondering what to do with a knackered old bike ...
I've gone on before about the idea of converting a multi-gear bike into being a "fixie". My main reason was that I was getting a new bike and it didn't seem like it was worth the money to buy a complete set of gears, chains etc. So my oft-mentioned brother-in-law did a conversion job for me.
The result is very nice. A simple bike which feels like it isn't going to go wrong. Lighter too. You have to make a bit more effort but he's set it on a low enough ratio that I can get up most hills without difficulty. When you go downhill you feel like a bit of a prat as your legs spin round at an alarming rate - but hey, I'm used to looking like a prat. Anyway, I said I'd take some photos, so here they are, hopefully showing the important innards:

Friday, 16 April 2010

Volcanic ash making London quieter?

I keep expecting to breathe in gobfuls of Icelandic ash, which is apparently spewing out of a volcano and blanketing Northern Europe in dust.

Well, the net effect for me is - there are no planes, and London is suddenly quiet! It's rather lovely. (sorry, people who were booked on once-in-a-lifetime holiday taking off today).

In other news, I'm now back on my first ever London commuting bike - my brilliant bro in law converted it, a few years back, to a one-speed after the gears got knackered and I knew I was getting a new bike.

Having tuned it a bit and pumped up the tyres, I'm quite enjoying being on fat wheels, with wide handle-bars, quite unable to go fast down hills ... it's a good way of enjoying a quiet London.

In case anyone's wondering what the hell I'm going on about - ash, Iceland etc - all planes in the UK are currently grounded due to volcanic ash in the atmosphere - see BBC News, for example.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

I do still exist, just been away

Sorry about the radio silence folks. I thought I'd done a clever update from my travels on my new phone - but clearly it's not quite as clever as I thought.

Status update: my increasingly frustrations with my old Specialised hybrid have led me (see previous posts) to take a radical step and I've now ordered ... a new bike on Cyclescheme.

With these things, I always worry that you guys out there will immediately go "ha ha, the fool, he's ordered the one bike which we know is useless - why on earth, etc etc". So please be nice, when I say I've ordered a Giant Seek Zero. Does that mean anything to anyone?

The main things I like about it are: it's got disk brakes (they're kind of new to me, but it seems they are much better in the wet and last much longer than the usual V brakes). And - it's got a kind of enclosed gear hub - so again all your gears are covered rather than exposed to the elements.

I cycled in this morning on my old Specialised and it's a nightmare - whenever I pedal hard the chain slips. I fiddled around with all sorts of screws and suchlike last night and made it a bit better, but I fear the fundamental problem is ... my teeth. They're worn down and the chain can't take it. Here's photographic evidence. Give me advice if you can tell me straight away I need to replace it all. Though with the new bike coming in a couple of weeks, I'm not sure it's worth it ...