Friday, 28 May 2010

Possibly the worst place for a cute bunch of ducklings to roost - the towpath

You would have thought a group of young ducks would have enough to worry about without their parent deciding that the canal towpath is clearly the "des res" of the decade. I'm pleased to say that as I cycled up to this group, all the cyclists were slowing down and giving them a wide berth - as were the pedestrians who all stopped to have a good look. The ducks seemed completely oblivious to any danger and didn't seem to move an inch when a bike went past. I'm hoping that soon the whole family will decide they need a swim and chose somewhere a bit quieter for their rests.
I suppose it could have been worse - on one of London's new "bike superhighways" or ... the fast lane of the M25.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

That London "heatwave" - part 2

Thanks to those of you who pointed out that the best way of getting over the heat is to ... wait for a day, and watch London go back to being rather cold and British. And also to those who noticed that 30 degrees hardly constitutes a proper heat wave - perhaps 40 would be more like it. Still, us British have got to dream at least that we live in the tropics every now and then.

But anyway - I'll certainly come away with one really good tip from Catherine - put your water bottle in the freezer an hour or two before setting off on your journey - and hey presto, an ice cold drink all the way home.

Happy cycling everyone.

Monday, 24 May 2010

How to keep cool on your bike in this London heatwave

30 degrees, they say. I've just come from a meeting and had ten minutes outside. I nearly fainted with heat and I'm not doing any excercise. On your bike, you're generally a bit cooler because the wind is like a fan. But what else can the cyclist do?

1. Carry a bucket of ice around on your bike and plunge your head into it at every traffic lights:

2. The bucket might not be practical. You have to find a balance between stripping off (ooooh, sunburn horror) and wearing too many clothes (ooooh, way too hot). I find loose clothing best
3. Have a rest more often. Preferably under a tree.
4. Consider carrying an extra water bottle of some kind. I get through my normal one before I get half way home in heat like today's
5. Cool down the pace
6. It's a good opportunity, if you don't normally wear one, to put on your helmet. It protects you from the sun as well as the roads
7. Consider a hankerchief or something to put on the back of your neck - if you wet it, it will keep you nice and cool, and stop the sunburn

Has anyone else tried anything?

Friday, 21 May 2010

Hilarious - 12 (real) new products for your bike

Brilliant photos of new products you never knew you wanted for your pride and joy, like this. They can be found at Toxel

Glory, Glory ... and talking to strangers on bikes in London

Days like today are what cycling was invented for. A perfect sunny day but not boiling hot. It was all I could do to stop myself greeting every fellow cyclist with a cheery wave and a "good morning" ... actually perhaps I should start that and see what happens. Somehow the idea that you can actually talk to a fellow cyclist seems a bit unlikely. Have you guys ever tried it? As documented in blog posts past, cyclists do occasionally exchange words with strangers - but it's normally when the weather is extreme - snow or driving rain.  But when it's sunny? Come on cyclists - did you talk to a stranger today? Confess.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Banksy is not the messiah - he's a very naughty boy

I'm loving some of the graffiti along the Regent's Canal in London. This one is just West of Camden Market. I'll put up a couple of others I've spotted over the past few months. Links to sites which show more would be appreciated!

and here are the others:

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Dave Cameron has a new problem: he can't cycle to work any more. We offer him tips

 The only reason I'm reasonably fit is because I cycle to work, then home again. The ride is exciting, often dangerous, occasionally infuriating, exhilarating and, let's face it, mostly a lot of fun. While on my way to work, my mind gradually empties of domestic issues and I arrive feeling ready to focus on matters of the office. On the way back, work worries slowly disappear as the more immediate threat of a juggernaut or an errant pedestrian come to the fore. Cycling is a great chance to be completely alone with your thoughts (yet enjoying a bit of cycling comraderie) and get some excercise at the same time.

Now I'm not thinking that in the last few months our Dave genuinely "commuted" every day from his home to wherever he was going. But I do know that now he's got a pretty major problem. He works in the same place he lives. 10 Downing Street. And even the trip to Westminster is a short stroll. I guess there's a slight environmental benefit to working in the same place as you live - but I worry for his fitness especially with all those fancy banquets and suchlike that Prime Minister's have.

So what advice can us cyclists chuck his way? Here are some tips - feel free to add:

  1. I've spotted Jon Snow (Channel 4) and Boris Johnson (London Mayor) cycling to appointments. Take a leaf out of their books when it's a short ride 

  2. Go anonymous. With a helmet, a mask and sunglasses, no-one will have a clue who you are. That's good for security
  3. Sneak out at night. Night riding is fun and in London it can be more peaceful. Just make sure you have some good lights - and tell Sam what you're up to or she might get suspicious
  4. Tell your office staff and security people you have an appointment which in reality you don't have. That will give you an hour of free time to ride
  5. When you go on holiday, go somewhere cycle-friendly such as the Isle of Wight
  6. You're now pretty friendly with the Queen - I'm sure that garden at Buckingham Palace has plenty of room for the occasional ride-about
  7. Make the most of your weekends - strap the old bike on the back of the official car when you go off to the countryside and burn off your energy down the bridle paths of Gloucestershire or wherever
  8. That's enough cycling tips (Ed).

Anyone else out there have any thoughts on the DC cycling problem?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Is it OK to notice what other cyclists are wearing?

Had a lovely cycle in this morning along the Regent's Canal in the sun. I was struck by how co-ordinated this cyclist was - she had a suede coat with a furry trim, a fancy looking leather saddle - and the thing that really caught my attention - a matching handbag on her left handle-bar, apparently co-ordinated to go with the saddle! Now that's what I call class. If you're the person who was riding, I hope you don't mind being snapped like this, but I thought it was damn stylish and others should learn!

Friday, 7 May 2010

First glimpse of new bike ...

I wonder if I'm alone in thinking that having your first ride on your new bike is an almost religious experience? Hopefully not because you're uncomfortable on a hard pew, but because there is something amazing about being the first person to ride on a new machine. You have to meet each other, get used to quirks, foibles, fumble awkwardly looking for the place it keeps its gears ... I think I'd better stop that analogy.

Well, I picked up my new Giant Seek Zero from the lovely people at E Chamberlain bikes. I took a couple of photos in the shop (I know, a bit sad, but as I said to the guys there "it will never be this new again so I must take a photo!") and set off on the Regent's Canal at Camden.

First realisation - it only has 8 gears. That's because it has hub gears (i.e.they are in encased rather than being exposed at the back). That felt strange. My new paniers (yes, I had to get those too - my old ones have lasted for about 10 years and are now ridden with holes) made a rattling noise which was mildly annoying. The brakes (disc rather than V-type) are surprisingly unresponsive - you have to squeeze quite a long way before they act, but when they kick in, they're very good. And what about the ride?

Well, great. I felt like I was flying when I reached a good flat empty bit of canal. You can really go fast. And I love the fact that it's so easy to change gears - you can even change down when you're stopped at a light. My verdict after a very short commute - an excellent bike, but one which will take a bit of getting used to!

The disc brakes

Distinctive wide look at the front

Giant Seek Zero at E Chamberlain's in Camden

Bus on fire this morning - Camden

The road was closed this morning in Camden - turns out a bus was on fire. I arrived in the "aftermath":

Pink explosion after hailstorm

Remember the big hailstorm the other day? I took a couple of pictures showing how the hail had caused an explosion of pink blossom - in this case on this car.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Keeping your jacket smart in a backpack

I know the entire www was in a fever of anticipation after yesterday's entry about smart clothes. So, the trick with a jacket is to put it in plastic - the kind you get at dry cleaners - then fold neatly and flat much like a shirt. Try to keep it flat as it goes into the backpack. I think I looked almost smart today and not crumpled. And if you knew me you'd be surprised by that.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Smart clothes ... In your backpack?

Slightly worried - have to wear jacket and tie at lunch tomorrow - is it possible to get all your smart clothes in a backpack without looking crumpled and scruffy? Don't really want to tube it. Any tips? Otherwise will let you know what happens tomorrow. KC