Monthly Archives: October 2010

Syston’s hilly loop

Last night I went for a really nice short ride on the hilliest route I can find from Syston.

Syston out to the Barkby Road then Barkby, Beeby, South Croxton and back to the Barkby Road.

If you want better hills then probably the only option is to ride this backwards but after 5 miles (about Beeby) stop and turn around as the section between Beeby, South Croxton and the Barkby Road is the hillier bit.

Lovely quiet roads (saw less than 10 cars when riding after 11pm) although I won’t be riding this when there is ice about.

Quite pleased to have averaged 13.3mph on my Bullitt although my top speed of nearly 28mph was about the maximum that I felt I could with my lights. Lights with a proper main an dipped beam are going to be needed, power keeps going up but unless we want blinded drivers we have to point them too low for maximum speed when the road is clear.

By the way I realise that a total climb of under 500ft is not exactly hilly by most standards 🙂

Better than queuing :-)

This afternoon I went over to the Royal Infirmary in Leicester again. This time I went via Starbucks at Thurmaston for lunch with Jane as a special treat (might even have bought some new smaller jeans if Burton’s had any for people my size).

Going to the Royal Leicester is around about 15 miles as a round trip. It is a very nice trip with very little road riding now that I have sussed out the route better.

But that takes a long time you might think. You might think it would be much quicker to drive. On the other hand one visitor I spoke to had spent 45 minutes queuing to get into the Hospital Car Park. I just swept straight in and there was plenty of space in the (free) bike rack by the hospital entrance. In one ward where I was visiting I could even look out of the window and see my bike 🙂

With short visiting hours available a potentially long queue makes visiting by car very hard to plan.

Plus I arrived refreshed, awake and unstressed which hopefully means I was able to be a better minister while I was there. Also I was able to enjoy a skinny stem ginger muffin at Starbucks without worrying about my weight 🙂

On top of all that I did not hold anyone else up, take space in the car park from others who had come a long way, or cause any pollution.

Being good for other people and the planet has never been this enjoyable before 🙂

Bike transport wins all round!

Don’t forget to do the zip up

I felt a bit silly today. It was raining hard when I rode the 1/2 mile to Syston Methodist Church for the lunch club but I didn’t do the zip right up on my jacket. So I had a v-necked wet patch below my dog collar. Looked very silly and of course everyone noticed and commented 🙂

Other than that I am getting more used to wearing the right layers and cycling at the right speed to avoid getting too sweaty and wet even in normal clothes. So this morning that was to Birstall Methodist Church with very wet ground and drizzle. On Sunday afternoon it was to Leicester Royal Infirmary which was just over 7.5miles in jeans and a clerical shirt.

Cycling for transport like this should be absolutely nothing special although it is so often seen that way in the UK. Actually it was very pleasant as so much of the route was on segregated cycling facilities and I got to ride on a part of the cycle network I have not used before. But I have needed to get a lot better at cycling slowly without feeling rushed so as to arrive dry(ish) in normal work clothes.

One of the things that does seem to be helping, just as I hoped, is my Brooks Flyer Special Saddle. As I had hoped it is very comfortable but also due to the shape and the shiny and slippery leather it seems to not wear out ordinary trousers as quickly as other saddles I have used.

Bullitt 01Another thing that helps is riding a big cargo bike like my Bullitt, while it is fast for a cargo bike (which basically means I ride at similar speeds to most cyclists except those fully kitted up on road bikes) it does not punish me for riding gently. My sportier bikes tend to suck me into riding faster than I need and being the fat and unfit person I am that makes me sweat a lot.

Plus the Bullitt is so quick and easy to take out. The locks sit in the box all the time, I just throw whatever bags or boxes of stuff that I need in and off I go.  Plus of course I keep my coat in the box as well which means I always have it with me and if it stops raining I can simply throw it back in the box. To make things even easier I will be buying the Infiniti3D security stuff as soon as it is available as it will make locking up the Bullitt much easier – just use a U-Lock or my Almax Series III chain to fasten the frame to something really strong.

So all I have to do now is remember to do up the jacket zip when it is raining 🙂

Syston Methodist Church to Rearsby Convent

Yesterday I rode to Rearsby Convent for the first time. Lovely place and lovely people making a great setting for as quiet day.

As always a day that is made better by being gently woken up and refreshed by a nice ride to get there.

The ride includes one of the best stretches of Cycle facility around here.

Starting at Syston Methodist Church you follow several minor roads (with a cut through between two estates) that are marked as a safer route to school. I don’t like the nomenclature and sadly the people living in these residential streets seem to take no notice of these markings.

However, when you reach the Melton Road there is a wide dual use pavement that goes as far as East Goscote and which includes an underpass under the A607. This is generally a good cycle facility by British standards. However, there are still problems.

  • it does not include marked priority for cycles when it crosses New Zealand Lane. There should be a hump for cars to enter/leave this side road with marked priority for cyclists & pedestrians.
  • The bridge over the stream when you come into East Goscote is too narrow for two way traffic especially when it is combined pedestrian and cyclist.
  • As with all cycle facilities in this country the ends are a problem. There is too little thought put into where cyclists should go next. This is particularly obvious when coming into Syston from East Goscote and wanting to go straight into the town centre. It is not clear that the pavement after Parkstone Road is no longer a shared use path, there is no cycling facility from this point and you are abandoned on the wrong side of the Melon Road.

We had come back from our half term holiday (yes Leicestershire has school holidays at a different time to everyone else) on Friday evening so that I could go to this circuit quiet day yesterday. Very glad we did as it was a really good day.

Habit failed after 46 days

Yesterday I did not cycle. There are plenty of excuses (packing away folding caravan, driving to Leicester from Cornwall via visiting eldest son at Oxford), but there will always be excuses.

So today I start from zero again, this time with a target of cycling 46 days in a row to beat.

Very much like Christian faith really. We fail, we are forgiven and we start again (and then repeat the cycle constantly).

Today will be cycling to Rearsby Convent for a Circuit quiet day, got to leave soon so had better finish finding out where Rearsby Convent actually is 🙂

Riding the Cornish Mining Trails

Had a lovely ride this morning from Carnon Downs Caravan Site down to Devoran (via Point) and then along a stretch of the Mining Trail.

A beautiful route of mostly off road riding on good quality tracks (if it has been Twelve wet then mudguards will be helpful to keep your bike clean). Went past the Bissoe Cafe and Bike Hire and then onto Twelve Heads.

Sadly I made two navigation errors by not noticing the “Mining Trail” signs in two places, so first I went on off the main route towards Portreath. Then later I missed the “Mining Trail” as I only saw the Sustrans National Cycle Route 3 and ended up following a (minor) road route past Gewnnap Mine to Redruth. I went down to the bottom of Redruth but once the route started climbing up the other side decided that was far enough and retraced my steps.

If I had realised I could download (PDF) a detailed map first then I would probably not have gone wrong 🙂

Anyway I stopped at the Cycle Cafe at Bissoe for a welcome Bacon roll, coffee and chocolate thingy on my way back.

It was a lovely day and I was on my Pearson Touché fixie (although note I now have “courier” style handlebars as pictured plus mudguards and a rear rack). What really pleased me was that despite this being anything but a flat route I did not have to walk at all. I might have been panting like it was going out of fashion by the time I reached the top of what seemed like endless steep climbs but I did actually make it to the top. I am very confident that I would not have been able to do that a few weeks ago. This habit forming is really working!

I did have one funny incident though. On the climb back to Carnon Downs Caravan Site up Point Road I fell off. Not sure what happened 🙂 Probably pulled too hard on my left hand and pulled it off the handlebar thus throwing myself off the bike. Whatever, I toppled over (going very very slowly at the time) and sat down for a few moments getting my breath back. No harm done although a lady who passed in her car while I was getting up was very concerned that I was ok.

One of the very nice things after a ride like that is the beautiful shower facilities at Carnon Downs Caravan Site, they are lovely and warm and have lots of private bathrooms with loo, wash basic and shower with oodles of hot water.

Segregated cycle facilities in London

This Is the LCC pro cycle lanes or not? is a great post trying to work out the position of the London Cycling Campaign on segregated facilities.

Having used segregated facilities in The Netherlands and Copenhagen I am a great fan.

London could have segregated cycle facilities, it would make a huge difference to the number of people who ride bikes.

It worries me that the LCC and CTC will not make a clear stand for segregated facilities. Without these facilities cycling will not grow to a significant level.

Giant Escape N7

I recently bought a new bike for our middle son for basic transport. The Trek Pilot 1.2 that he and I have shared for a few years is not suitable for him to ride around an urban area (Leicester). He needed flat bars, mudguards & rack. I needed him to have low maintenance (as that ends up being my job).

So to fit the trend I am trying to follow I looked for Hub gears and non rim brakes. Not a lot of choice in anything a teenager wants to ride. In the end we came across a Giant Escape N7, it is no longer made but we found one in stock at AJ Cycles in Higham Ferrers.

I have added Giant Mudguards (not really recommended as the stays are too long and need to be cut). Still they are reasonably effective.

I treated him to a Tubus Locc rack as it carries Abus U-Locks. Sadly though the new Abus lock came with a different fitting that is not compatible with the Tubus (fortunately we don’t use the Trek and Giant bikes at the same time too often so normally we can share the lock we already have that fits this rack).

His reactions have been good, finding it an easy and comfortable ride. Works well for someone who has no interest whatsoever in the technical details of a bike but just wants it to be available and work.

Concerns

The only concerns I have with this bike relate to the roller brakes and Nexus 7 speed hub.

Roller Brakes

When I mentioned the Giant Escape N7 in 42: Best Upright Bike back in March 2006 I got a number of negative remarks about roller brakes. I have since test ridden a few other bikes with roller brakes and decided that they were worth trying. Tonight I went for a ride on the Giant Escape N7 from Carnon Downs Caravan Park in Cornwall. From here everything is down 🙂 So I went down to Restonguel Point, Loe Beach and back via Trelissck and Playing Place. That included 14% and 17% descents on wet roads in the rain. The roller brakes were excellent. I could lock the rear brake if I wanted but they gave good control and feedback, held the speed where I was happy and allowed me to stop where ever I wanted. They are not as powerful as disk brakes or well setup v-brakes but are perfectly adequate. I suspect that some people are so used to the outstanding performance of disk brakes that they find anything less powerful scary. These are not the brakes for races aiming to get to the bottom of a steep hill as quickly as possible and stop instantly with no notice. On the other hand they should work for years with little or no maintenance.

Nexus 7 Speed Hub

This seems to have a relatively poor reputation for reliability. My feeling is that for the use my son has it will probably be fine. If it fails then I’ll look at either a Nexus 8 or an Alfine (8 or 11) hub with roller brake. The bike frame and everything else were good enough value that it would make sense to put a better hub in it if this fails.

On my ride tonight I was able to ride up the 17% hill from Loe Beach with no problems – well other than a lot of heavy breathing 🙂 The hub changed gear reliably, although the changes are noticeably less well defined than those on my Alfine 8 speed hub on my Bullitt. Time will tell as to the reliability but the performance to date is perfectly acceptable.

Conclusion

I think it is a pretty good choice for general urban use in the UK. In countries with a better cycling infrastructure you would not need some of the mountain bike influences (26″ wheels with big tyres, heavy duty forks etc) but in the UK with a teenager they seem sensible. Now this is not available I am not sure what the best alternative would be.

Missed seminal habit moment

It is good to note that I have now cycled every day for 44 days.

A bit sad that I missed marking the 42nd day (Sunday) here on 42bikes.

The habit is getting stronger & riding is easier. Weight loss has slowed but slow improvements to body shape continue.

My thanks to habitforge: Forge new habits. Change your life! for helping me so far.

Cycling for England

Very good post at The dog that barks the loudest gets the bone; is it time for a cycling lobby? suggests action to respond to the governments attacks on cycling

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