Never underestimate the power of one wheel drive!


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Friday, 17 December 2010

Catriona Patel

I have been catching up on news etc. today and one thing that caught my eye was from November. It revolved around the trial of the driver responsible for killing Catriona Patel as she cycled to work in London-
from The Mail online

I read the article with horror as I believe I know one of the paramedics who attended the scene.

I was absolutely horrified as my reading into this incident progressed. The driver, Dennis Putz, was over the drink drive limit at the time of the incident, was involved in a mobile phone call and had a string of convictions, jail sentences and disqualifications relating to driving offences. What the hell was he doing behind the wheel of a vehicle of any sort, let alone being employed to drive a large tipper truck on urban streets?

At least Putz has been jailed for 7 years and banned from driving for life

To cap it all, his employers Thames Materials recently had another vehicle involved in a fatal incident, where one of their tippers collided with a number of vehicles on the A4 near Heathrow, including a taxi, one of the occupants of which died of his injuries.

Something appears to be wrong somewhere.....

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Fuzzys' On The Road Again

I am settled in to the new job now and have got back in the saddle.

This morning was my first cycle commute since 11th November.

It may have been cold. It may have been slushy and wet. Some drivers may have been arses but, Gods, I've missed riding!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

How many!?

I started logging my mileage on 30th September 2005, logging all rides I do with the mileage from my computer. if I haven't got a computer, I map it and round down to the nearest mile.

I use Cyclogs as my logging site of choice and, since earlier this year, started to log on Bikejournal also as a back up.

As you can see on the left hand sidebar, I keep a running mileage total by month and year on here. I just decided to include a Running Total of miles since I started logging. I'm up to 17,924.85. I have cycled nearly 18 thousand miles in the last 5 years. I am well chuffed with that!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The end of the road?

As I write this I am preparing for a change of job. I will continue as a Copper but will be moving from my current posting to do a similar job but at a different level. This change takes effect on 15th November- a little under a fortnight away.

All good I hear you say and, to a major degree I concur BUT, one of the requirements of my new job is that I become what we call an 'Essential User' on the car front. This means that I have to use my private car for work. Not a problem as I get an annual alowance to offset insurance and other costs plus a mileage allowance. Well, I say not a problem but, the downside is that I need to have immediate access to the car all the time I am at work. This could mean the end of my cycle commuting! Not a happy state of affairs. I am looking at the possibility of being able to leave the car at work during the week, using the bike to get too and fro Monday evening to Friday morning and taking the car home at weekends. I hope it works out.....

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Secret continues

I seem to remember early in September, posting about a ride I did on Arran and promising to post about the second ride. Sorry for the delay but here it is.

A couple of days after the first ride I met up with a neighbour of the friends we were staying with. Ian is his name. He is a forestry worker and a Highland Games competitor so a tad on the healthy side.

We decided to do the Northern loop out of Brodick. The route takes you North (as if you hadn't guesed) along the coast towards Sannox with lovely views back towards Brodick

and occasional sightings of local wildlife

The above image is of a wooden sculpture. Good isn't it? There were a dozen or so other tourists trying to photograph the seal!

As we rode, we met a couple of youg guys who it turned out, were doing a self supported End to End, doing the Lands End to John O'Groats version. They had arrived the previous day and were taking in the island before going back to the mainland the next day and heading for their next stop- Loch Ness

Ian is on the right in red and black. I didn't catch the names of the two lads unfortunatley. We rode together until we reached the Youth Hostel at Lochranza where they were staying. They were on holiday from school and having a bit of an adventure. Well done them. I hope they finished ok and had the experience they anticipated.

The route was all coast road until we left Sannox, where the road cut inland a little and started the long climb up The Boguillie. Though only to 200 meters, it was over quite a long distance, so sustained but no too steep. Once again, the countryside and views were beautiful

Sorry about the crappy photos' but my point and shoot was letting me down a bit.

Once we had topped out, there was a nice smooth descent towards Lochranza and, in true Secret Cyclist style, it was Yahoo Banshee Warrior time as I tucked in over the top tube and gave it loads of wellie. We then rode into Lochranza where our end to enders peeled off, leaving Ian and I to continue our ride. Lochranza is a pretty little place tucked away in a little bay to the west of the Northern tip of the island, known as The Cock of Arran. I think its location must have been quite significant once upon a time-

By now, the geography of the island was demonstrating its effect on the weather. It was dry and bright on the East side of the island but, the West side was the opposite. The mountainous spine of the island was keeping the weather on the west side and wew were riding in a fine drizzle. Not to worry though becuase the riding was very pleasant and the views kept the spirits up

This was the last picture I took on this ride as the camera didn't like the wet.

We rode south along the coast again, through the little vilages of Pimmill, Dougana and Tormore, a nice flat road where, if you were minded, a bit of a chain gang could get going but, Ian and I were just out for a pleasant ride. As we approached Blackwaterfoot, we turned off the main drag and cut inland towards Shiskine and The String, which wold give me the opportunity of doing this road in the opposite direction. The drizzle had kept it up so the roads were wet, though not too bad. The String in this direction presents a longer, shallower ascent up to its 235 meter summit and the effort needed to make the climb had the added benefit of keeping the body temperature up, shrugging off the cooling effects of being wet.

Once at the summit, we were then confronted with the steeper, shorter descent in to Brodick. It was still drizzling and the road on the East side of the mountains was now wet as well. I still tucked in and gave it wellie, though maintained a slight air of decorum, keeping the speed under control. Because of the wet I only managed a 49.1 mph descent. I'd love to do this in the dry!

After getting to the bottom of The String, it was a short run in to Brodick and a nice cup of tea. A loop just shy of 38 miles with gorgeous views, quiet roads, great climbing and cracking descents.

I love Arran. Don't tell too many folk though otherwise the place will get swamped!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

About my Secret

Sorry about the delay. Stuff going on and so little time yadda yadda yadda.....

Anyway, last post I wrote about a secret location which I would share with you if you promised not to tell. Well, I'm going to hold you all to that promise. The secret location is the Isle of Arran, of the west coast of Scotland, tucked in between Ardrossan and the Kintyre peninsula-

This is a beautiful island. For me as a road cyclist, there are a handful of routes to explore, with the bonus of it being impossible to get lost. I say this because there are a very small number of roads that lead anywhere other than into small residential closes or to remote farms. There is the main island circuit road of around 57 miles and two other roads that bisect the island. These roads provide a number of options-

Each of these routes starts at the main town (big village) of Brodick.

The Island Loop- the full 57 mile loop.

The Northern Loop- Via Lochranza and then cutting across the island on The String Road from Blackwaterfoot on the west side of the Island.

The Southern Loop- Via Lamlash and Sliddery, again cutting across the island on The String Road.

The Northern Loop can be extended by cutting across the island from Sliddery to Lamlash via The Ross Road.

The Southern Loop can be shortened by using The Ross Road as opposed to The String.

Any one of these options can be interchanged to make longer r shorter routes (a figure 8 ride doing north and south and cutting across The String or The Ross?)

Each route can be ridden clockwise or anti clockwise, providing different challenges such as climbing steeper sides of the ascents.

I did two rides whilst I was there. The first was thew shortened Southern Loop, starting at Brodick, over The String to Blackwaterfoot and then back over The Ross to Lamlash-

To start with, The Ross goes up

and up

and up

but ends up providing stunning views back down towards Brodick

and onwards towards Blackwaterfoot

a pretty little village looking towards the Kintyre Peninsula and, on a clear day, the coast of Northern Ireland

I then headed south towards Sliddery along the coast road

(looking back toward Blackwaterfoot) before cutting back across the island via The Ross and through Glen Scorrodale

which eventually started going up

and then dropped down towards Lamlash

which is just a short boat ride from Holy Isle

It was then about half an hour back to Brodick where, after dinner, this was my view whilst doing the washing up

A 31 mile loop and lovely all the way.

Some of the road surfaces are a bit iffy, particularly on The Ross. The descent into Lamalsh is steep and fast but I wasn't confident about it's quality so took it a bit easy. A few laps and a bit of familiarity would soon see Yahoo Banshee Warrior descending though. One 'moment' was on this descent. I had walked across a couple of cattle grids because they were the large gap type but, as I reached the bottom of the last descent I saw another approaching- fast!. I grabbed big handfuls of brake and stopped with a couple of feet to spare. I bloke was just getting out of a van as I did this. He commented that it could have got interesting to which I agreed. He reassured me though that all would have been well. He was leading a Scout camp and there were several young folk dying to practice their first aid!

I will post about the second ride when I come back from my holiday.

See you all in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

I have a secret

I have just returned from a break at a secret location. This location has some tremendous cycling routes and stunning views.

Once I get my photo collection sorted and if you promise not to tell anyone (don't want just anyone finding out) I may share some of it with you.

As a taster, on the second of the two rides I did, the second half of the ride was in rain and drizzle. Therfore the descent I rode was taken a little on the 'cautious' side, mostly freewheeling. I still topped out at a smidge over 49mph!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Butterfly and Clarion got married

On Saturday 31st July 2010 I rode from my home to Didcot Parkway railway station.

What possesed me to do this I hear you ask?

I rode to Didcot Parkway railway station to meet up with fellow cyclists with whom I am aquainted at yacf. Included in the cyclists I was to meet were Butterfly and Clarion. They ahd got married earlier that day in London and had then ridden their tandem (in complete wedding regalia) to Paddington where they boarded a train to Didcot. We then had a wedding convoy to a camp site in Watlington where the happy couple hosted a wedding reception BBQ/ campover. A really good idea and a tremendous day.

Thanks to Charlotte (aka Bicycleslut) who took the photo.

Many more can be found here along with a flavour of the day.

Congratulations again to Butterfly and Clarion.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Tour is over

Well, that's it for another year. The dust has settled (hopefully) on the latest installment of Le Grand Boucle and I sit here waiting for next year.

I thoroughly enjoyed this years instalment ad will write more when time allows.

Friday, 9 July 2010

I survived.

On Monday I posted about Yin and Yang and Karma and stuff just before setting off for home.

Just to put your minds at rest- I survived but, no thanks to the lawmakers known as Murphy and his evil henchman Sod.

Murphy saw fit to make sure EVERY traffic light was at red and a lot of junctions were occupied whilst Sod just wound up his lungs and spent the whole journey providing me with my very own private 15mph headwind.

To cap it all however, a mad Scientist somewhere must have failed an experiment which caused a warp or a tear in the Space Time Contiueinueinueinum. That is the only explanation I have. What happened was I was negotiating a roundabout and as I did so, a car that should have given way failed to. Why the theory about the warp or a tear in the Space Time Contiueinueinueinum? Well, as the driver failed to give way to me, he also failed to even look at me. The only explanation I can come up with for this is, he didn't look at me because I wasn't there. The only possible explanation for me not being there must be because I was viewing our universe from a parallel one on the other side of the warp or a tear in the Space Time Contiueinueinueinum.



The Tour de France!
Wow, what a great first few days. The stage across the cobbles used during Paris- Roubaix is probably one of the most exiting stages I have ever watched.

Bring it on!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Should I be scared?

I am about to leave the desk and get ready to ride home.

The problem is that, what with Karma or Ying and Yang, this could be payback time.

The ride to work this morning was flawless. Each junction I came to had no approaching traffic on the major route so I didn't need to give way/ stop. Each roundabout I came to was clear to the right so I didn't need to give way. Each set of traffic lights I encountered was either green or changed to green on my approach so I didn't need to stop. Each vehicle that overtook me this morning did so giving me loads of room.

If you don't hear from me for a while- Murphy must have caught up with me.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Me and my big mouth!

Remember the question I asked at the end of my last post?

A reminder- Whats not to love about this cycling lark eh?

I'll answer the question for you now shall I?

Headwinds. That is whats not to love about this cycling lark.

My ride home last night was into wind all the way. Not the end of the world but it doesn't half detract from what should have been a fine ride.

To cap it all, when I got home I decided to hit the gym before my evening meal. I got changed and walked down to to the gym intending to do 45- 60 minutes on the weights and sit ups. I signed in and was just about to start when a mate, who is a spinning instructor said that there were 3 spare bikes for his class about to start and that I should join in. I tried to cry off but he persuaded me against my better judgement.

My mate is also a colleague and I often wonder why he does spinning insrtuction. I think there are two prime reasons-

a) He is a bit of a babe magnet. H is the type of bloke that makes women go weak at the knees. I have seen him walking through the crowd at Ryal Ascot and suddenly get grabbed and have his tonsils tasted by a succesion of young fillies. Spinning gets him within striking distance of pretty young things.

b) He likes to cause pain. Ever been to a spinning class?

Last night, he caused me pain. I wasn't prepared for spinning. I was wearing training shoes and had no towel with me. I enjoy spinning but like to use clipless pedals. Clips and straps and me don't get on. I can't sprint unkless 'clipped in. When the class was doing sprints I had to make do with winding up the resistance and 'climbing'. It was horrible. I was blind for a lot of the class because of the sweat getting into my eyes.

I won't let him persuade me aging (until next time.....).

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Cracking ride this morning Grommit!

This mornings commute encapsulated just about everything I love about riding a bike.

When I dragged my tail out of bed at 5:30 this morning I took a peek out the window to see what was going on with the world (I always do this so that I am steeled for whatever surprises Mother Nature may throw at me). To my surprise I saw that the ground was wet- overnight rain. Wahey! The lawn might survive a few days more yet thought I. Having completed the recce it was time for prep so off I went to the bathroom to do what us rider folk need to do first thing in the morning (fear not Dear Readers- no graphic descriptions here). It was then time to head downstairs to make my lunch, make a cup of pre ride tea, feed the cats, eat breakfast and get ready for the ride. Not necessarily in that order- apart from the last bit. I absolutely refuse to wear a helmet whilst feeding the cats or making lunch (though leather gauntlets might be a good idea for feeding the cats).

Once it was time to leave the house I decided that as it wasn't raining I wouldn't do the wet weather gear. My route this morning was via Winter Hill which involves a good early climb out of Marlow and is a route I love. From the top of Winter Hill it was a descent through rural roads into Cookham where I turned off towards and subsequently through Maidenhead. Whilst riding through Maidenhead it started to rain. How did I feel about that? Do you know what? I couldn't have given a hoot. Rain at this time of year is something I thoroughly enjoy riding through- waterproofs or not. In fact, I probably had a few folk heading for cover because I found myself singing as I rode. Not just to myself though. At times I was belting it out at the top of my lungs- quite a horrible prospect if you have ever heard me sing. The playlist included "Sunshine on a rainy day", "Starlight" (Muse), "Things can only get better" D-Ream) etc.

The 'First rain for a long time' smell was very strong and very pleasant.

A cracking 10.39 mile bimble at an average of just over 16mph.

Whats not to love about this cycling lark eh?

Monday, 28 June 2010


England- Ye Gods, the pain!

A conspiracy amongst useless players, blind officials and the dinosaur who allegedly runs the game.

You'd think I would have learned a long time ago NOT to invest too much emotional energy in my teams.

Well, I haven't and now I sit here, in despair.

Roll on the new season when the pain can start again.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Cycle patrol on a budget?

Some of you out there will know that I am a former Bike patrol Cop. Back in the day, being properly equipped and having a good bike underneath me was very important.

Hell, I will put my hands up and cough to being a fully paid up Kit Monkey.

I would hazard a guess that most Bike Patrol Cops can a) understand that and b) join the club.

Anyway, despite no longer being a full time practitioner, I still keep my eye in. I also write a regular piece for the International Police Mountain Bike Association (IPMBA) quarterly news magazine. To help with this I subscribe to some news alert services.

The other day, I found this blog entry

I had a read and found myself quite humbled. 12 hours a day, 7 days a week! Equipped like that? Much Respect to Aaron!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Attacks on cyclist

We often hear about verbal and sometimes physical attacks on cyclists in the UK, often caused by road rage or general yobbish behaviour. We should than our lucky stars however. In some parts of the world, they have more challenging assailants to deal with.

In Alaska for example, the local Ursine population has the odd pop at riders.

Think on.......

Sunday, 13 June 2010

An observation about descending

The other day I decided to vary my route home from work. Instead of doing the 10.26 mile ride along the A4 from Burnham towards Maidenhead and then turning right towards and subsequently through Cookham and Bourne End, I opted for the just under 8.5 mile route directly north out of Burnham, past Cliveden and then down the hill into Bourne End.

I have ridden parts of this route many times, especially the hill adjacent to Cookham (Bourne End Road/ Hedsor Hill) and, when descending, have found it to be a bit uneven and some of the corners off camber. On my Cannondale R800 this is sometimes a little squirly and uncomfortable which has led to me descending in banzai mode, as opposed to BANZAI!

Anyway, on the ride home the other day I was aboard G G G G Granville, my steel framed Ridgeback Voyage touring bike. Definitely not a racing snake machine but, I tell you this for free, when hooning down the hill, he was solid and planted. I wonder if the racing legends that run the teams for the Grand Tours are missing a trick? What would happen to Bradley Wiggins time coming off The Tourmalet if Dave Brailsford was waiting at the top with a Team Sky badged Voyager for him to descend on?

Friday, 4 June 2010

Another reason for hard hilly climbs to be favourite...

Whilst engaging in a hard hilly ride the other day I remembered a major factor contributing to their 'favourite' status. For every up, there is a down! Hooning down hill after a good lung busting ascent can be bonkers fun!

I tend to give it my all when the road falls away and as you saw in an earlier post, 50mph+ is not alien to me.

Sometimes things get a little squirly but that only adds to the rush. I fully expect that one day, the slightly squirly feeling will develop into the cyclist equivalent of an unrecoverable tank slapper but, until that time, BANZAI!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Enjoying the ride

I was thinking the other day- what type of riding do I enjoy most?

To get the answer to this question I had to work out what types of riding I do.

I broke it down as follows-

1) Commuting
2) Errands
3) Leisure

I then had to break some of them down further-
Commuting a) Geared and b) Fixed
Leisure a) Pootle b) Hard

I then had to break the leisure rides down a bit more with each category having a flat or hilly category.

Once I had done that I could then think about what was my favourite.

For the Commuting rides, once you remove the fact that I am riding to work 50% of the time which is going to have an obviously negative impact on the ride I was left with the riding itself to contemplate. I have a couple of routes that I can use to vary things and have no particular preference. What I do currently have to use as a guide to my feelings is the fact that Stig, my fixed bike is currently ill. The sprocket started to slip under load the other day and I thought that maybe the sprocket had become unscrewed under leg braking. When I got him up on the stand and examined him however, I discovered that the thread on the hub had stripped and was knackered. I went to turn the wheel and screw the sprocket on the other side and found the thread on the sprocket was suspect so I had to garage Stig whilst I sort out a replacement sprocket. The last couple of commutes have been on my Ridgeback tourer. There is no doubt about it, riding G G G G Granville to work is still fun but nowhere near as enjoyable as riding Stig.

Fixed Commuting wins that contest.

Errands are what I call jumping on the bike to pop to the shops or into the next town to sort something out. They could be as short as a mile return or as long as the 76 mile return trips to hospital appointments in London- basically a ride with a purpose other than enjoyment or earning a crust. I enjoy each and every one of these rides, for a different reason in each case. The quick dash to the shops I enjoy because it is a stolen moment on the bike. The trips into town for whatever reason because I’m revisiting areas that I may not have ridden for a while. The hauls into London because they are always a bit of an adventure- packing my lunch for a swift solitary picnic in Regents Park or because I have on previous appointment trips arranged to meet up with folk I have got to know on yacf or its predecessor ACF.

There is no contest here- I enjoy them all for their own reasons.

Leisure rides are those that I do on my days off- the Sunday morning loop on my Cannondale ‘Best Bike’. I classed them as Pootle or Hard to describe the way I tackle the ride. If it is a nice comfortable ride just for the hell of it, this is a Pootle. If I go out and want to tear up the roads (usually after watching an epic Grand Tour stage or other race footage), then it is a Hard ride. The flat or hilly bit is self explanatory. Living in South Bucks, on the edge of the Chilterns, most loops take in some degree of ascending and the accompanying descents but, if I want to do a good hilly ride, I can do loops with at least half a dozen climbs ranging from about half a mile to a mile or more with gradients ranging from about 6% up to 20% or steeper. Now, when I have decided to do a hilly loop, often I find myself experiencing the Alien Chest Burster feeling I mentioned in a previous post. Some of the climbs are tough and I feel like I am dying as I tackle them and if you were to see me as I summit, you might be tempted to reach for a handy defibrillator, just in case. I am absolutely certain I look nothing like someone should look if they are having a good time.

Te feeling I have after a good hilly loop is much better than the others. Don’t get me wrong, the others are damn fine rides however.

Having looked at all the evidence. The conclusion I have come to is that I enjoy all my riding for various reasons but, the riding that gives me the MOST satisfaction and enjoyment is the hard hilly leisure ride.

Perhaps there is something I like about the pain…….

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Feeling the Love

The other day I posted this on YACF-

What I sent to Andrews of Tideswell by e mail a short while ago-

To whom it may concern.

This e mail is to thank the driver of your coach that made a big difference to my day yesterday. I did not get the registration of the vehicle concerned but hopefully the details of the incident will be enough to identify the driver and pass on my regards.

Yesterday afternoon (23/05/2010), probably at around 3:00 p.m. I was cycling on the A4130 between Hurley and Henley on Thames (heading towards Henley). I was aware of a coach behind me. The driver of the coach showed patience and courtesy, waiting behind me as we descended a hill (I am quite fast when descending but many drivers still force their way past). He continued to wait until there was a good, safe passing opportunity.

Often drivers pass cyclists far too close (I have often been passed on empty roads so close that I could easily touch the passing vehicle) and I include professional goods vehicle and coach drivers in this. Your driver however knows his stuff and he ensured there was plenty of space between us. This is where the story gets interesting. When your driver was about half way through his passing manoeuvre I saw the front of a silver car appear at an entrance on the offside of the road ahead of us. This driver of this vehicle was obviously only looking to their right as they started to emerge from the entrance, turning towards us, into the path of your coach.

Many drivers confronted with what your driver had to deal with would have forgotten my presence beside them and pulled back into the left lane. This would have required me to bail out by riding into the bank at the side of the road and crashing. Your driver did not do this. He was fully aware of me at all times and dealt with the situation by doing 3 things that I was aware of- 1) Started braking. 2) Sounded his horn and most importantly for me 3) held his position until we had both stopped. Once the coach had a clear road, your driver pulled away and continued on his way.

I did not get the chance to acknowledge your drivers skill and professionalism directly to him so hope that you can identify him from the route and time detail. If not, perhaps you can bring this e mail to the attention of all your drivers in order that he gets to see it. I am sure that the right man will recognise the incident.

Thanks again to your staff.

Well, this morning I got more 'Love' from a driver. The pilot of the O2 shuttle bus that was running between Maidenhead and Slough was behind me at traffic lights. These lights are at a point on the A4 which is, to be frank, bloody awful. My dental bills are bad enough without shaking the fillings out of my head over ruts and potholes. I therefore stick to the middle of the road until I clear the dodgy surface. The shuttle pilot waited patiently behind me, no over revving or tailgating until I pulled over to secondary position. I waved an acknowledgement as he started to pass and got a cheery wave in return.

O2 will be getting an e mail from me later!

Monday, 24 May 2010

The Only Way Is Up!

No folks, relax. I'm not talking about the catchy little ditty by Yazz!

What I'm talking about is busting my cherry for hill climbing on my fixed gear.

I have been riding Stig, my fixed wheel conversion pretty much exclusively since early January this year and had not tackled any even slightly daunting uppage, let alone what I would consider a challenging hill.

Anyway, Saturday saw me invited to a friends surprise 60th birthday hog roast (the hog roast was the surprise, not the fact that it was his 60th!). I had a feeling that I might be led astray and have more beer poured down my throat than would be legal, let alone wise, to drive home on. I decided to ride Stig to the bash. My rationale being it would be a damn sight easier to push Stig the 5 miles home than to push my Mazda!

Come time to wend my way home I was right. Too much beerahol to allow me to drive but I was sober. Being sober and thinking straight however can often be very unrelated and Saturday evening was one of those occasions. As I left the party, the options were turn right and have a nice flat 10 mile pootle home OR turn left and have a big hill in the way. I remember my thought process perfectly. "Fuzzy, you have never ridden Stig up anything more demanding than the bridge over the Thames. What are you, man or mouse?"- "MAN"- cue left turn and after 2 minutes my arrival at the bottom of Marlow Hill.

Marlow Hill used to form a daily part of my commute to work. I would descend on the way in and ascend on the way home. This used to be on an 8 speed double road bike though. Saturday was on a 42x16 69" fixed. On one descent I broke the 50mph barrier-
so I knew the hill was a challenge. By the time I got to the top however, I felt like my lungs had done an Alien Chest Burster impersonation. I made it without stopping though! The only close call was the traffic lights about 3/4 of the way up. If I had to stop at them I would never have got moving again.

The ride down the hill to home was entertaining! Hooning down hill on a fixed wheel, clipped in on SPD's is an 'Interesting' experience!

Friday, 21 May 2010

You know it makes sense!

I had a cracking commute in to work this morning. Nice clear skies and the temperature was just right (bib shorts, light base layer, short sleeve jersey and arm warmers).

The roads were fairly clear of traffic. Rabbits hopping around the grass verge, cows peering over the fence at me, herons stalking fish in the reeds of the streams adjacent to the road, swans and their cygnets and ducks with their ducklings in the Thames. The sun rising over Cliveden House and illuminating the mist hanging over the meadows.

I though to myself, is this the only sane way to travel to work? I suspect I will say yes as I ride home this evening, past the queues of vehicles waiting on the A4 because of the roadworks on Maidenhead Bridge (or because it is POETS Day).

Cycle commuting- what a way to travel!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


Having watched the last couple of stages of the Giro d’ Italia, there were lots of images of fallen cyclists and torn lycra and blood and road rash.

Now, like a lot of you cyclists out there, I have had my fair share of falling from the steed situations during which I have suffered varying levels of lumps and bumps and road rash. I then got thinking about the diverse downsides of these injuries. The thing is, for every downside I could think of at least one upside-

Bashed hip or thigh causing you to walk with a limp for a little while- get it right and folk will be falling over themselves to help you.

Broken collar bone- think of the tales you could weave about the way you smashed your body to bits but recovered and bravely cycle on.

Cuts and abrasions- these leave scars and (apparently) Chicks dig scars.

I then got to road rash.

Road rash can also leave scars and as I said, Chicks dig scars.
The problem with road rash is that it weeps and weeping road rash has a nasty side effect- adhesion.

When I get road rash, it is generally on my hip or the outside of my thigh and buttocks. I clean it up and try to get on with my life.

The problem with getting on with my life is that it involves things like wearing clothes and sleeping. I get dressed, pulling on lycra bib shorts for the ride to or from work, or underwear (I don’t do commando other than when wearing cycle kit) and the weepage from road rash sticks to the garments. I go to bed (I subscribe to the Marilyn Monroe sleep wear ethos- she wore Channel No.5 I wear whatever body spray or aftershave I have in the bathroom) and at some stage in the night roll on to my side. The weepage from road rash sticks to the sheets.

Unsticking from sheets or lycra hurts.

I hate adhesion.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Giro d' Italia

The Grand Tour season is upon us and the first of the Grands is underway- The Giro d' Italia.

Of the three Grand Tours, I regularly watch the Giro and the Tour de France. The Vuelta a Espana has yet to grab me. I don't know why but that is the way it is.

The Giro started in The Netherlands this year. I watched the prologue in Amsterdam on Eurosport and have got to say- brilliant ride Bradley Wiggins! Cadel Evans has done himself no harm either.

I watched the stage 1 highlights (Amsterdam to Utrecht) on Eurosport last night. Ouch! It was carnage. I don't remember seeing so many significant crashes in one stage. I'm not sure if anyone was seriously hurt physicaly but, the splits in the bunch that the crashes caused have certainly hurt some of the riders GC times. Bradley lost the Maglia Rosa (leaders pink jersey) because he got distanced after being on the wrong side of a crash.

I don't know whay there was so many crashes- well, I lie, the traffic islands and road furniture caught lots of riders out but, I don't know why they were caught out. They knew the route was littered with hazards and have radios so they can be pre warned of approaching dangers. Something wasn't working though.

Makes for interesting racing.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Yehuda Moon and the kickstand cyclery

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over at yacf many a cyclist partakes in a bit of web browsing. A site that recieves plaudits from a diverse bunch of crank turners is the comic strip Yehuda Moon and the kickstand cyclery

Worth a visit and a bit of a chuckle.


Thursday, 22 April 2010

Best bit of cycling kit?

I was thinking the other day when I was considering whether to spend more money on more kit- what is the best bit of cycling kit I own? Now, when I ask this, I am discounting actual bikes as cycling kit. What I was considering was things that I wear, things that I carry, thingst that I fix to my bike and things that I use to fix my bike.

There were a few candidates- my Tacx Spider workstand

was certainly in the running, as was my Altura Airstream jacket but for me, the hands down winner was my Exposure Joystick light-

(mine is red by the way).
I wear mine on a helmet mount-

This light is the dogs wossnames. it is light, bright, rechargeable and cable free. I have mine on the helmet because it gets me noticed. I have it on flashing mode and this seems to get noticed as it is higher than the general background clutter.

They can be a bit pricey but, if you are looking for really good lights, the Exposure range is well worth a look-
Exposure lights

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A change of tack

Over recent months, the Cycle Patrol fraternity amongs British police has come in for quite a bit of stick. The first aggro episode related to what was called the 93 page manual on how to ride a bike. This firestorm about nothing seems to have been lit and stoked by The Sun- obviously the Glitteratti of the Celebrity World hadn't been up to much in the preceeding 48 hours or so otherwise pages of rubbish about who had been seen clandestinely "talking" to who or which Premier League footballer had been arrested for what would have taken priority.

One of the journalists who wrote about this non event was Peter Walker of The Guardian. He went on to ask Is a 10 hour cycling course for Police a waste of time? which, when read closely is actually a genuine question. he wanted to know whether or not it WAS a waste of time. I responded to this and explained that the training was not about learning to ride but learning to use a bike as a tool. I suggested he have a go at training and he was interested. A friend from the City of London Police at Snow Hill, James Aveling (fellow instructor) contacted him and invited him to try a condensed version of the 4 day CoLP course. Peter accepted and subsequently posted about why he was foolish to mock police bike training. A number of things came out of this. 1) He learned what the training was about. 2) He learned some new skills. 3) He has written an article that supports the training we do. He also admits openly that he was wrong in his original cricism of the training ideas. Saying so publicly takes guts.

Respect to Peter Walker.

Monday, 29 March 2010

The importance of recycling

Recycling has many benefits. Not only does it help towards saving the planet and making us feel better about ourselves, it can save a crap load of stress.

When Knuckles, my now deceased Saracen Morzine which I used as a commuter was dealt a fatal blow (reversed into by a truck which knocked me off and put a hefty dent in a seat stay) I dismantled him and saved as much as possible. As a result, his front wheel, complete with deflated tube and tyre were hanging in the garage roof.

What relevance is this? I hear you ask. Well, when it came time to leave for work this morning I was busy doing things at home that needed doing before I left. This meant that I was running about 30 minutes late (I usually get to work about 30 minutes early). It was at this time that I discovered Stigs front tyre was flatter than a hedgehog that got run over a fortnight ago. Cue much effing and blinding and the odd "Oh No!!! What am I going to do now?" cos I knew changing the tube would take a while but then a was hit with a flash of inspiration- Knuckles front wheel!

I ran to the garage, retrieved the wheel, swapped them out and inflated the replacement. I got to work, showered and entered the office dead on time.

That is why recycling is important.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

She's right you know....

In this article my friend Bicycleslut advises regular check of ones steed or things could get a bit 'emotional'. She knows her onions! I had an annoying noise from the bottom bracket area of Stig for a little while and couldn't work out what it was. Well, yesterday I solved it. 4 of the 5 bolts securing the chainring to the spider were finger tight or looser! That could have got really 'emotional' if I had been hooning it down a little hill.

Check your tackle riders! You know it makes sense.

Monday, 15 March 2010

The lycra is out!

I don't know how long this will last but, it was warm enough today for me to go for my bib knickers instead of my trousers. I also ditched the long sleeved base layer in favour of short sleeves. A recipe for impending blizzards probably.

I subscribe to a few news feeds looking for bike patrol stories and I saw this in one of the e mails I got sent- very inspirational-

Bike repain man in Afghanistan

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Tap tap tappity bl***y tap!

...and other noises.

This morning as I rode Stig to work an annoying, worrying and irregular tapping noise was eminating from somewhere withing Stigs bowels. It started about half a mile into the ride and sounded like it was coming from the headset area. I knew it couldn't be a headset problem because I was riding in a straight line. I kept looking around the bottom bracket area and trying to see if I could feel any knocking or anything else during my pedal stroke. I couldn't feel a thing out of the ordinary. After about 20 minutes of fretting over whether this was the sound of Stig in his death throes I sussed it out. My left shoe lace dangly bit was a little bit longer than usual this morning. The tappity tap noise was the plasticated end of the lace hitting my water bottle- Doh!

The other noise I heard this morning was a kind of Spoing sound. I can only describe it as the sort of noise made by a tired old mattress or sofa when you sit on it. I looked around again and then relaised what it was. I coud see Snowdrops that had flowered. The Spoing was Spring in the final stages of winding itself up to, well, spring!


Thursday, 4 March 2010

Hey Gang! How is everyone?

I've been out of circulation for a while due to workload (at work and at home) and have been neglecting my blog. Excuse me while I hang my head in shame.........

OK, that's enough shame for one day.

My mileage log is looking more neglected than my blog. Unfortunately Cyclogs, the logging site I use has been experiencing problems and the guy that runs it needs to rewrite some of the code. he is in the same boat as I was and we will have to wait for him to get time to do his thing.

My mileage is also taking a bit of a beating. I am sure I am nowhere near the mileage I was at same time last year. To be honest, I haven't been enjoying my saddle time so much recently. Part of the reason for this I think was that I wasn't reaching my targets. I have decided now that I am going to bin the target of 300 miles per month. I will still log my miles but not get so worked up about reaching the 300 miles. I am going to get back to getting the miles in because I want to ride- not because I need to reach a magic number. Another reason for not enjoying the riding is because I am getting hacked off withe the weather. I don't mind riding in the cold or the wet, or even the odd cold wet ride but, this winter seems to have been going on for ever! Now the days are drawing out and the weather is improving, I am starting to get the buzz again!

I had a good ride home the other evening. I am still on Stig and am developing a bit of a taste for riding fixed. Anyhoo, as I was riding along the Bourne End to Marlow road, a roadie on a nice Scott (CR1 I think) blasted past me. I hadn't heard him coming so was a bit startled. Anyway, he started to pull away so I tried accelerating to keep up (yep, you got it- Commuter Racing mode was well and truly engaged). He was on soot and titanium chimera whilst I was on a steel and luggage laden fixed so I was on a hiding to nothing but I kept trying. When I reached the A404/ A4155 roundabout though, he had sat up and I managed to pass him. Had I caused him to blow by working hard to reel him in or was he resting? I know what I think.........

Monday, 18 January 2010

Mind that ho..........!

One downside to the recent snow filled fun has been the effect the snow and ice has had on the road surfaces. Roads the country over are falling apart now, with potholes of varying sizes, from putting green cup size up to Grand Canyon scale behemoths.

These potholes can be sneaky buggers, hiding at the bottom of innocent looking puddles or lurking in the shadows cast by bike or following car lights. One of the things we try to teach when taking bike patrol courses is that puddles should be avoided when riding for just this reason. Hitting a big pothole at speed can really ruin your wheel, if not your whole day.

In fact, potholes caused a couple of moments of consternation on my commute in this morning. Today was the first day back on Stig, my fixed wheel road bike after relying on Jeeves whilst dealing with the snow. I found myself trying to set up to bunny hop or ‘soften up’ on the pedals and handlebars to ride over a pothole. Cue the “You dumb idiot, you’re riding a fixed” bouncy on the pedals and rapid unplanned deceleration moment.

I’ll get used to fixed eventually!

Anyway, returning to the potholes, if you have problems in your area visit to report it. They will make sure the right council is notified.

Ride safe folks.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Snow poblem...

As I write, I am preparing to get changed and ride home. 10 and a smidge miles and the white stuff is still falling from the sky. Yay!

Last night I did the same thing. When I started the ride, all the roads had a good coating of snow. I was on Stig and his 700 X 23 road tyres were able to cut through the snow and get grip on the road beneath. The ride was great, the snow had that sound deadening quality that makes me feel like I'm riding through the inside of a quilt. What little traffic that as on the road took it easy and gave me loads of room when passing- if it could go fast enough to pass that is. The ride was pretty much incident free, just a few loose moments as I negotiated the odd wide compacted wheel track. 50 minutes of glorious fun. The only problem was getting the snow out of the vents in my helmet.

The ride into work today was on my utility bike, a 1990’s 7 speed steel framed nil suspension MTB. I have decided to call him Jeeves as he is my ‘Bike that does’. Anyway, the main roads were slush covered with the side roads either slush, compacted snow or a combination of both. Once again the ride was incident free. This time however, the motorised traffic was a tad faster than last night. As they overtook, sometimes they did so with one set of wheels in the thick slush line- cue slush explosion from under the car/ truck etc. I managed to avoid getting coated. 47 minutes of having a blast.

Unlike a couple of folk I know, I don’t own a Surly Pugsley. One day maybe……

Never underestimate the effectiveness of one wheel drive.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Well, Stigs transformation is complete-

The next images are of the conversion that I did-

42 tooth chainring moved to the outside of the spider

with flat spots filed onto washers to space out the now too long chainring bolts

The business end

and a none too shabby chain line considering I did no spacing of sprocket, chainring, bottom bracket etc.

My first ride of 2010 was aboard Stig. I'd never ridden a fixed before so limited myself to a loop of slightly over 13 miles which took in flat, slight ascending, more pronounced ascending (last 100 yards of Marlow Hill in High Wycombe) and some descending.

A few things became evident-
1) Riding fixed certainly requires better anticipation than a freewheel bike.
2) With the current set up, 23.5 mph is the max comfortable descending speed.
3) Trying to freewheel when riding a fixed is an ‘odd’ experience.

The anticipation relates to many things, arriving at traffic lights as they change to green to allow a good launch, unweighting the saddle at the right point in the pedal stroke when negotiating speed bumps etc.

The descending speed cadence at 23.5 mph was as fast as I could comfortably maintain. Faster had me bouncing in the saddle. I thought this odd as hooning along a flat at 24.5 mph was not uncomfortable in that way- just lung and muscle busting.

This fixed lark could be habit forming.

More reports as I get the miles in.

Happy New Year folks.