Never underestimate the power of one wheel drive!


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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Dutch Police bike training day 2009

On Thursday 17th September 2009 I flew to Schipol Airport in The Netherlands where I was met by my friend Tommy Hammelink, a bike patrol officer from Den Haag (The Hague). For the next two nights I stayed with him at his old fisherman’s house in Scheveningen, a coastal suburb of Den Haag. The area Tommy has settled in is really pleasant, his house being situated off a quite car free cul de sac. Thursday evening Tommy decided a tour of his manor was in order so he broke out his Montague 'Paratrooper' folding bike which he has converted into a marked Politie bike and his pride and joy, a Surly Pugsley snow bike with balloon tyres. He let me enjoy the Surly for the evening and it was great, rumbling around the streets of Den Haag with folk doing double takes at the bike! It was a fun bike to ride.
He showed me around the Police Station he worked at and also the local HQ where the Embassy security teams work from. We then made our way to a city centre restaurant for a dose of steak and chips. Lovely grub.

The next morning we put his patrol bike and the Paratrooper in his car and drove to Amsterdam Police HQ and training centre where we joined close to 250 other like minded officers, most from around The Netherlands but also including at least 4 officers from Belgium and 3 from Germany. The day was spent around the training centre and Amsterdam City centre streets where, in groups of 8 to 10 bikers, we descended on waiting instructors and 'suspects'. At each Town centre location, we were briefed about an 'incident' involving our suspect who we then had to deal with. I don't think the suspect came quietly on any occasion. One of the stands was to deal with an aggressive drunk who was sitting on a town square bench. This suspect seemed to be the strongest of all that we dealt with and he put up a good fight. This stand was being keenly studied by the local 'celebrities' who were by that time, reasonably well into their jars. They gave a good critique of the way officers dealt with the suspect- probably from a professional background! I think quite a few visitors to Amsterdam came away with photo's and video of massed bike patrols dealing with bad guys and girls in the city. I had a really good day and learned a lot about how the Dutch do their thing.

The day finished with a BBQ at the HQ after which Tommy and I returned to his house, changed and took a walk to a beachfront bar for a relaxing drink.
On Saturday morning, Tommy broke the Surly out again and we took it for a ride on the beach. This is about the only bike I think I could make progress with on soft sand. Going was hard but possible. The transition form softy to packed sand was very noticeable and, when I rode off of the beach and onto the concrete slipway, that change was like lighting the afterburner on a supersonic jet!

Thanks for a great couple of days Tommy!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Saved by Sports Beans!

Yesterday I had a meeting to attend at Golden Lane in the City of London. Being the sturdy type that I am, I decided to cycle in. I rode into work yesterday morning (10 1/4 miles) and did a couple of hours work. During this first ride I suspected I would have resistance on the way to London as the wind was in my face. Sure enough, when I left the office at 11:00 a.m. the wind was blowing from London. Anyhoo, I had a nice ride for a couple of hours, along the A4 past Heathrow, into London, leaving the A4 at Hammersmith, heading to Kensington Gardens/ Hyde Park where I cut through to the Bayswater Road and Marylebone Road before heading into the City arriving at 1:00 p.m. on the dot.
The meeting lasted a couple of hours and, after 20 minutes of post meeting chat and catching up with folk, I left to reverse the route home.
True to form and conforming to the well known fact that the wind is always from the direction of a cyclists destination, the wind had changed to a South Westerly, in my face again. Not a problem for I am a hardy cyclist!
My preparation for the days riding had included an early start to my lunch before leaving the office, a bottle of energy drink consumed on the way into London, a cup of tea, a can of full fat Coke, a Snickers and the rest of my lunch at the meeting venue and a bottle of energy drink to consume on the return ride.
The return was fairly uneventful (apart from a couple of folk in cages suggesting I get off their road and onto the cycle path- not an option due to the glass and crap and all the side roads I would have had to negotiate) until I got to the stretch of A4 between Langley and Slough. At this point, with about 13 miles to go until home, I suffered the scourge of all cyclists, a bad case of 'The Bonk'. My legs ran out of go completely. I think it was the fact that I had been riding into wind for the whole day, that and because I had my commuting luggage on the bike as well. In the space of about 400 yards I descended from pootling along at about 15mph average to struggling to maintain 10mph. Concentration was going and I was starting to wobble a bit too much for my liking. I then had a flash of inspiration. I remembered that I had a small bag of Sports Beans in my jersey pocket. These are jelly beans with an extra carb kick. I stopped at the side of the road, ripped open the packet and nommed the Sports Beans in one go. 5 minutes later I felt my energy returning and my concentration level improving. The energy boost got me the last 13 miles home. I don't know what I would have done without them- probably curled up in a gibbering ball of pitiful humanity and got on the phone to SWMBO to beg for rescue but, thanks to Sports Beans, I made it home. A mileage tally for the day of 77.79 miles- all of it into wind.
Lets hear it for Sports Beans !!!!!!!