Monthly Archives: December 2010

I’m Bike posting every day in 2011!

Having started this separate bike related blog in the summer I have decided to make it a proper commitment.

So starting right now.  I will be posting on 42bikes at least once a day for 2011.

At times I have kept daily blogging going for quite a while on 42: My Life, the universe and everything so I know it won’t be easy, but I also know I enjoy doing it and this public commitment should help me with that enjoyment.

As 42 bikes uses wordpress.com I am going to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll enjoy the journey through 2011 with me. Otherwise come and join us, the water here is warm 🙂

Riding in the New Forest

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We have had a short break in the New Forest staying at the Travelodge at Stoney Cross on the A31.

Although they don’t mention it anywhere if you ride East in front of the Little Chef you can get to a bridleway, within 200m there is an underpass. You are then on the cycle track network. Or you can use minor roads to Minstead and beyond.

Today I rode 34 miles of which about 25 were off road. All in the fog but very nice, pretty warm.

A lot of the gravel cycle tracks were very wet and sticky.

One coffee stop and lunch with the family at Brockenhurst (The Buttery was good).

I was getting tired towards the end and my rear light has partially succumbed to the gunge so I came a directish route from Lyndhurst when a more roundabout way would have been more pleasant.

While the network of cycle routes is quite good sadly they have not yet done anything like enough to provide safe routes to them.

My gear all worked well. My new Goretex waterproof was excellent. One of my shoe cleats came loose so it was fortunate that I was using pedals with a flat side.  Sadly I did catch my warm Altura tights on a bramble and got a hole.

I’ll add the route map later, can’t figure how to do it on the wordpress Android app. [Update: the map is at New Forest route]

How long is enough?

I have been trying to get a straight answer out of car loving libertarians (see The joys of poking an Ants nest « 42 Bikes and Four x Four’s To The Rescue) I have come to realise that it may be impossible.

The question is simple.

How long should the driving license be suspended for a driver who has killed someone (a pedestrian, a cyclist or a fellow motorist), been prosecuted and found guilty (IMHO the charge should be manslaughter but is generally dangerous or careless driving or similar).

My view is simple. If you are responsible for driving a vehicle and you kill someone (and are found guilty of a driving offence by the courts) then you should have your driving license taken away for life with no appeal or shortening under any circumstances.

Why would we let a proven killer drive again?

The Libertarians are unable to answer the question.

So what do you think?

Snow problem for a bullitt cargobike

Today we have snow, Leciester has got off lightly but with some snow in the night and snow all morning we have maybe 5cm of snow.

So it was a good opportunity to try by new Schwalbe winter tyre with studs.

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I had decided to only buy a front studded tyre. Maybe this was a mistake as it turns out to be fantastic. I rode a couple of miles to Thurmaston in quite heavy falling snow with 5cm on the ground over mixed terrain of cyclepath, side roads and main roads (surfaces included everything from virgin snow, to packed snow and deep slush) with some gentle hills. The front tyre was amazing, it did not slip at all and was very confidence inspiring. I found myself using the front brake while going downhill on packed snow with no problem at all. My only problem was losing traction with the rear wheel when going uphill, some big sideways slides but no falls.

On the way home I called in at Starbucks (getting practice for January as I was given a set of dated 50p off vouchers, one per day). Sadly the cars were busy queueing to get in and then struggling to find spaces, cargobikes have no problem though 🙂

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After Starbucks it was over the road to Asda to get the Turkey and a few other bits. Poor car drivers were again queuing and then having to walk through the wet slush. Cargobikes get special treatment right by the entrance 🙂 The Sleigh disguise seems particularly appropriate in the snow carrying the ingredients for Christmas lunch.

You get plenty of great comments from kids, I heard one Mum explaining to her son that I had borrowed Santa’s sleigh.

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Back home the shortcut avoiding the long queue to get out of the Asda car park means I beat all the cars home as well.

After the recent discussion about 4×4’s, I was feeling very sorry for the 4×4 drivers as they were stuck in the same queues as all the other cars. Must be frustrating to spend all that money and then have a bike zoom by, coping with the snow better than anyone else thanks to a £35 tyre.

The joys of poking an Ants nest

Over the last couple of days I have been enjoying myself poking an Ant’s nest.

In this metaphor the Ants are the drivers of 4×4 vehicles and the ant’s nest is a blog called Anna Racoon.

It all started with three very different blog posts that I read fairly close together.

It seemed to me an interesting combination of posts. I mentioned this on twitter:

and started joining the comment thread on Anna Racoon: Four x Four’s To The Rescue. Well it seems that I accidentally turned myself into a big stick poking a very angry nest 🙂

Anyway I have continued in the “conversation” after all the about page says:

This web site is moderated to remove libel, naturally; but also moderated to remove brain dead comments like ‘First’, or foul mouthed rants that contain no humour or relationship to the current news. I don’t remove comments on the grounds of disagreeing with the commentator’s opinion. I like opposing views, they are a positive thing – it’s called debate!

The conversation has ranged quite widely and in places been interesting and in others frustrating.

Those who know me personally or from my original blog 42: My life, the universe and everything will be impressed that the folks at e Anna Racoon have picked up so quickly on the sort of person I am:

  • “This Dave W is really poisonous — even by the standards of Socialism.”
  • “Having checked out his web site Pericles, I find that he is a man of God, a Minister, a man suffused with the conviction that he speaks with the authority of God in human form.”

As I engaged with the conversation I tried to respond to comments such as:

Do you have any statistics on the number of car drivers who have died trying to avoid cyclists weaving in and out of the traffic?

Have any cyclists been banned from going anywhere near their cycles for 3, 4 or even better, 5 years after such an accident?

Do we have figures for the number of cyclists under the influence of drink or drugs?Is there a road test for cyclists before they join the trained motorists on the roads, or do they just come out of Halfords and learn as they go along?Does anybody check whether cyclists know their left from their right before they languidly put an arm out to signal that they are going in completely the opposite direction at a roundabout?

Having met a cyclist barreling down a road one way road at considerable spped and been forced to a halt as he swore at me for spoiling his fun, I have always wondered……

This encouraged me to go to the latest government statistics published in September 2010 for 2009. (pdf file here). I hope nobody is surprised to discover that the statisticians don’t present detailed figures showing that car drivers are being killed in large numbers by cyclists as further suggested by Anna Racoon:

We motorists are soft hearted fellows, and quite often hurtle into each other in an effort to avoid the sacntimonious twat in the helmet weaving about in front of us – the fact that he never gets the blame for the accident in government statistics is beside the point. We really should stop trying to avoid cyclists and stray dogs in the road, it’ll be the death of us.

I also hope that with me you do not believe this omission from the statistics to be due to a conspiracy rather than a lack of any evidence.

Anyway I found it interesting that:

From Table 23a

0 pedestrians killed by cyclists. 64 Pedestrians seriously injured by cyclists.
248 pedestrians killed by cars. 3805 pedestrians seriously injured by cars
Total all vehicles = 357 pedestrians killed. 4753 pedestrians seriously injured

That means 1.3% of pedestrians seriously injured are injured by cyclists (no cause of satisfaction for cyclists, it should be zero). However, it seems to me that this is significantly different to the way it is portrayed in the media who imply cyclists are a major hazard to pedestrians (remember zero pedestrians killed by cyclists, 248 killed by cars and 357 killed by all forms of motorised vehicles).

Also note from the report:

“Exceeding the speed limit was reported as a factor in 5 per cent of accidents, but these accidents involved 17 per cent of fatalities. At least one of exceeding the speed limit and travelling too fast for the conditions was reported in 13 per cent of all accidents and these accidents accounted for 27 per cent of all fatalities.”

So at least 27% of all fatalities have speed as a factor. I don’t think that will surprise any cyclist and I suspect many of us believe that this is under-reported in many cases.

One crumb of comfort might be had in the analysis of drink driving. My understanding of a table in that section of the report is that at night (after 10pm) 75% of pedestrians and cyclists who die on the roads are over the drink drive limit. Note these seem to be based on quite small samples.

However, I think it might suggest that the fatality figures for both pedestrians and cyclists are significantly increased by pedestrians and cyclists being killed when drunk (at least over the drink/drive threshold).

I think that means that the risk of being killed, as a cyclist who does not drink and ride, is actually lower than the total figures suggest. It surely means that drinking and riding (or walking) is perhaps more dangerous than we realise, that drivers do not take into account that cyclists and pedestrians late at night might be drunk and thus unpredictable and unsteady.

In conclusion I started to write some rather sarcastic remarks about Libertarians. However, I changed my mind and instead I simply suggest you go and observe them in their natural habitat.

How important is efficiency?

Vik writes:

One thing I have learned slowly over the years is that an efficient bicycle is really important if you want to use your bike for transportation and utility: Efficiency… « The Lazy Randonneur.

It is a good article and well worth reading as Vik has a lot of experience of a wide variety of bikes and also varies the setup of his bikes a lot.

However, I am not completely convinced. In my experience most people do not maintain their bikes as well as Vik does (and when the bike is a simply a tool for a transportation why should you).

So in my opinion Efficiency comes about 4th in the list of important features for a bike. For me (thinking about bikes for transport) the higher priorities would be:

  1. Reliability. Can I set out on this trip and be sure of getting there and back with no problems.
  2. Practicality. Can the bike carry what I need, cope with the hills, cope with being left out in the rain while I am in a meeting, allow me to ride in the clothes I need for the meeting/event?
  3. Low Maintenance. Can I just use the bike without needing to spend lots of time cleaning it, replacing bits, repairing things? If I ride my bike several times a day and everyday through the winter I won’t have time to clean it each time. If I ride a bike 80 miles a week I don’t want to have to adjust brakes every week or two.

How much time will an efficient bike save me on 80 miles a week. If an efficient bike allows me to increase my a 10mph average speed by a 1/3 to 13 1/3mph then I would save 2 hours per week, but at what cost?

My experience is that the cost of getting an average speed that much higher will include:

  • time spent on maintenance as the bike will need to be in excellent condition with lightweight components that wear out
  • it will mean time spent changing before and after journeys as I will sweat more and be unable to wear normal clothes (eg jeans on a drop handlebar bike tend to be uncomfortable).
  • it will mean extra trips as I will find myself unable to be as flexible when the day changes and I don’t have a bike suitable for the extra stuff I unexpectedly need to carry.
  • I will need multiple bikes in order to have more efficient ones for different purposes (ok I have multiple bikes but don’t believe all transport cyclists should need to have more than one bike)
  • the components that are lighter to be more efficient are more expensive and last less time, particularly in bad weather. So I will need to earn more and spend more time cleaning them.

My belief is that these extras add up to more than the 2 hours saving.

However, I do accept that within the constraints of your bike it is worth spending a little thought on efficiency. I would focus on choosing an bike that is easy to keep efficient in the first place (hub or disc brakes, good hub gears, protected chain). Then the two things that are most worth spending time on are

  • tyre choice (find a good compromise between puncture resistance and rolling resistance for example not riding a mountain bike around town with knobbly tyres is a good starting point, beyond that go for big air volume for comfort and speed)
  • tyre pressure. Riding with tyres that are either flat or too hard  is slow, uncomfortable and puncture prone

Then look at the wider efficiency factors:

  • Speed of getting your bike out from home
  • Avoid needing to change clothes to ride
  • Avoid stuff that needs cleaning or maintaining or that breaks
  • Make it quick to secure your bike and leave it when you get to places
  • Make it quick to load and unload your bike

The Bullitt Sleigh

As described in Creating a Bullitt Sleigh I now have a working Bullitt Sleigh:

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This is the side painted by the younger members of Syston Girls Brigade

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Riding it is pretty easy, getting the stand down is the most tricky bit as getting your foot in place t0 push the leg down is tricky. It does creak a bit so next year I’ll put some rubber padding where it touches the bike.

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This is the side painted by the older members of Syston Girls Brigade, sadly they ran out of time to complete their ambitious plans (not helped by the paint taking forever to dry).

I have got some battery powered LED Christmas lights and tinsel to add.

I’ll be using it at the Syston Methodist Church Carol Service tomorrow, plus at the Wreake Community College carol services on Monday. Then I’ll see how many other things I take it to in the coming week (definitely at the Christingle Service at Syston Methodist Church).

It only needs a few screws removing and I will be able to store it flat until next year. By then I will try to get the inside painted to match. Maybe we should add Reindeer sides to Jane’s biks so that she can ride in front of me 🙂

The good thing is that it is still fully functional as a cargobike (although I would need to add some lights as the normal ones are a bit blocked by the Sleigh. I should really have some bells as well.

Record habit

So today was the 47th day in a row of my cycling habit. That is a new record for me, my previous record was 46 days in a row.

I nearly let it slip by as I have come down with a cold and the weather was yucky – that is a technical term for some snow and other stuff.

Still we needed some stuff from Asda so I nipped out this evening, mainly because it is so much quicker and easier to go there by bike.

Feeling better for achieving 47 days in a row. Wonder how long I can keep it going for.

Off to Hospital

Just off to the Royal Infirmary in Leicester to have a Wisdom tooth removed.

In transport terms the Royal Infirmary is a pain. It takes about 30 minutes to get in the car park. So rather than leave so much earlier and hog a space for ages I am going to cycle there – obvious!

However, after the op I am not allowed to cycle (or drive) for 24 hours. So Jane is coming in the car later to collect me and the bike.

As today makes 46 days cycling in a row which equals my previous best I am hoping that I’ll be well enough by the end of tomorrow to go for a quick ride.

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