Monthly Archives: March 2011

100 mile bike preparation

Following my decision to ride 100 miles to a meeting (see Taking the 100 mile plunge) I have been sorting out my Trek bike.

My Trek is a Pilot 1.2 and is now about 4 years old. Very similar to the one pictured here (the stem and brake hoods look a little different on mine).

I have had a rack on the bike from the beginning. It’s a Tubus Locc which is fantastic. It has a special holder for older Albus U-Locks as well as a light mounting and low pannier rails.

Sadly I don’t think you can get Albus U-Locks that are compatible with the Tubus Locc any more.

For this long ride (between 110 and 120 miles on Friday, 10 miles on Saturday and about 120 miles on Monday) with luggage I felt the bike had a few problems which I have been working on.

  • The rear wheel which is a nice one from Shimano with 28 straight pull spokes is too light weight. What is more it is already my second wheel as I broke spokes on the previous one riding to another meeting. Rather than break this nice light wheel I have ordered a heavier duty touring wheel from my local bike shop.
  • IMAG0442I wanted to be able to use my Ortlieb handlebar bag, but the standard bracket fouled the gear cables. So I ordered the bracket extension. At the same time I ordered the map pocket. This has solved a couple of problems. I can now have 3kg of stuff handy (reducing the load on the rear wheel and balancing the bike better)  and I can put my Samsung Galaxy Tab in the map pocket running Google Maps with the route loaded. The Galaxy Tab has a much better battery life than my phone and I get a 7.1″ map 🙂 You can see the result:
  • IMAG0439.jpgHowever, this means there is nowhere to put the front lights (normally mounted on the handlebars. The solution I am trying is to use Sugru on the front fork to create a mounting point for my Cateye front light (I want to mount 2 small on the left and one larger on the right). The first mounting point is on and is now drying. Hopefully ready to test tomorrow. The light is very low but it needed to be where the fork was narrow enough for the strap to be long enough to fit diagonally so the light can point downwards. This feels somewhat experimental so we will have to see how well it works.
  • The remaining issue is still battery life for the Galaxy Tab. I am hoping to sort this with a Biologic Recharge powerpack. This is a battery pack that can be charged in a variety of ways. In the long term this will be used on my Bullitt cargobike and will be charged by the Schmidt Delux hub dynamo (that will mean I have self contained power for my phone and Galaxy Tab while out and about without a need to remember to charge everything fully beforehand). In the short term I am hoping that if I leave home with it fully charged it will give enough extra power to the Galaxy Tab to last a day of navigation. Of course I will be stopping during the day and will be looking for places with mains power to top up the charge.

That completes the changes I have planned. I will be using my normal Ortieb Back Roller panniers (Sustrans branded ones) and my racktop bag for the bulk of my luggage.

Next step will be to use the Trek as much as possible over the next week to make sure that I am acclimatised to the riding position.


Record expenses :-)

I have just completed my travel expenses for February and March. I am pretty pleased with the results for 2011.


Miles cycled for work: 208.55

Miles driven for work: 51 (one journey)


Miles cycled for work: 214.85

Miles driven for work: 0  yes that is zero 🙂


Miles cycled for work: 368.3

Miles driven for work: 44 (that is 2 journeys for Circuit work. Separately there is an additional 102miles for one journey for the District)

That makes grand totals for the first quarter of 2011 of

Miles cycled for work: 791.7

Miles driven for work: 95

That is a direct saving to the Church of £158.34  (it costs the Church an extra 20p per mile if I drive). The actual saving is much greater as I don’t have to pay for car parks.



A quiet cycling day

Today was very quiet on the cycling front, just 1 mile for work/shopping. Instead it has been rather busy work wise and a bit of a waiting game with a few bits on order.

I was thinking a little about having passed 6 months using my Bullitt Cargobike. Little has changed since my First Impressions, except to note the amazing reliability. There have only been three breakages. One is the recent puncture, another is that I managed to snap a pitlock security bolt I fitted to the seat post (not original equipment), the last is that I bashed the cable for the cateye computer (was routed under the frame and I bashed it lifting the bike over one of silly cycle path barriers, think I snapped the wire).

As well as the excellent reliability of the base Bullitt Clockwork (only required maintenance has been oiling the chain and washing the whole bike a couple of times) I have also been very pleased with my upgrades. All (apart from the pitlock seat bolt) have been reliable and are still fitted:

  • Brooks Flyer saddle.
  • Ergo Grips
  • Pedals
  • Extra water bottle fittings
  • New chainring & cranks in order to fit a Hebie chainglider
  • Front Schmidt Delux dynamo and Edelux light

That is after 1086 recorded miles in 2011, plus around 500 mile3s before that.

Very, very pleased I took the plunge and bought the Bullitt 🙂



Puncture and cycle paths

It is no surprise that Leicester’s cycle paths have now achieved their main goal in life – that of causing me a puncture. As much of the surface is covered in glass it is a miracle that this is my first puncture since moving here in August.

So sometime yesterday towards the end of my detour home from the morning service at Rothley (is just under 8 miles normally, I did over 24 miles) a shard of glass got through the tyres. Fortunately, it was slow enough that I noticed it going soft over the last couple of miles but got home before it was completely flat.

I fixed it without removing the wheel from the bike (why do the guides in magazines and on the internet rarely mention doing this). Of course the hole was easy to find as there was a big chunk of glass still in the tyre. Sadly I noticed that although no other bits have got through there are quite a lot of cuts in the tyre. My guess is that I will have to replace the tyre before long as reliability is more important to me than wearing it through to baldness.

So yesterday evening I used my road bike to get to Birstall for the evening service. Today after fixing the flat I had lunch out with Jane on my way to Glenfield Hospital.

I tried the BikeHub routing application again on my Htc Desire (Android) phone. The main problem is that it drains the battery so fast that I can’t use it for more than about an hour. The route was pretty good though, I probably would not have found it without the routing. Sadly there were a few cycle path barriers that were a big pain on the Bullitt Cargobike.

Total today was just over 16 miles.


50 per cent rise in deaths on Oxfordshire roads after speed camera switch off

Ahead of the switching back on of Oxfordshire’s speed cameras on 1 April Thames Valley Police force has revealed that road deaths in the county rose by 50 per cent in the first six months in which speed cameras were switched off compared to a similar period the year before. via 50 per cent rise in deaths on Oxfordshire roads after speed camera switch off |

Surely the message is obvious. People are now dead (one extra person per month just in Oxfordshire) because the cheapest way of stopping drivers speeding was cut back.

We need the cameras back on everywhere!

We need more cameras and we need to invest in other ways of slowing down drivers everywhere!

Just one example of a mechanism that does not work is on the Melton Road between Syston and Thurmaston. There are the signs that flash 30mph when a car goes past breaking the speed limit. The signs hardly ever go out. I ride my bike on this road nearly everyday and it is an unusual day if a car or van goes past these signs without lighting them up due to their speeding. This is a road with the main entrance to a school on it and it is used by people walking & cycling between Syston and Thurmaston (including the only direct route from Syston to Thurmaston Shopping Centre). The speed limit should be at most 20mph and it should be enforced properly.

Speed kills and the government cut back on the most effective way we have had of reducing speeds to save almost no money (speed cameras are almost self funding unlike speed traps that require staffing).

Of course it would be better to actually re-engineer the roads to make them slower and make safety of pedestrians and cyclists the priority. But instead our politicians would prefer to spend our money on treating obesity and funding tax cuts for motorists.

Shame on all those who demanded or supported shutting down speed cameras.


Taking the 100 mile plunge

Oh dear, I am now committed to my first ride of more than 100 miles in a day.

I am due at the Royal Holloway College by lunchtime on Saturday 9th April for a Methodist Council meeting. To reduce time pressure I have booked myself in a reasonably close Travelodge for the Friday night. That leaves me something over 100 miles to ride on the Friday (my day off) to get to the Travelodge and hopefully only around 10 miles on Saturday morning to get to the meeting.

The meeting finishes at lunchtime on Monday, so I’ll ride directly home which should mean arriving home in the middle of the night 🙂

One of the challenges is going to be whether I can carry everything on my Trek Road Bike. For the meeting I will take a netbook instead of my laptop, but the meeting papers are heavy and bulky (1.5kg of A4 paper). I have in the past broken spokes by overloading this bike, although I am now 10kg lighter myself.

To help balance the load I would like to fit my handlebar bag (normally used in my full suspension mountain bike). But I have not yet worked out how to combine that with front lights.

The alternative is to go on the Bullitt Cargobike, it has a number of advantages such as the lighting, cargo capacity and reliability. However, it is also slower and it is possible that I would meet hills that would defeat me.

Another challenge is routing. I am not completely happy with the automatic routing options on either my Garm 705 or Android phone. So far the alternative is creating the route ahead of time probably using Google maps. But that means finding a way to use a saved Google route on my Htc Desire Android phone (and massively extend it’s battery life).

Still that gives me some things to think about over the next few days 🙂


Leicester Critical Mass

This evening I went on my second Leicester Critical Mass and it was a lot warmer than last time 🙂 The theme this time was Brazilian Fiesta (to show solidarity with Brazilian Cyclists who were mown down by a car driver recently) and we were told:

Don’t forget your boa, your headdress, your spangles and your shimmer…

Needless to say I “accidentally” forgot all those things.

Still it was a nice ride. I was told there were about 140 riders, certainly more than last time I went.

For mew one of the important outcomes is that the ride highlights how the Leicester road system cannot cope with just a few cyclists (on routes in and out of Leicester we should be getting 150 cyclists an hour every day).

Another is the variety of people present, from children upwards with seasoned campaigners and neophytes mixing for a good time. As well as variety in people there are also lots of different bikes. Pashleys, Bromptons (interesting mix ranging from the beat up to the totally cool and trendy that match the outfit), fixies, bmx, mtb’s, road bikes, cargo bikes, bike trailers, bikes with child seats, town bikes, tandems, …

The atmosphere is good with just a small number of car drivers expressing frustration at being held up for a while (it does take a while for 140 cyclists to pass especially because we keep getting held up by cars and buses).

Anyway I took some pictures:



While I had a very pleasant ride to and from the city centre (with Critical Mass it was 18 miles) I did take these pictures of two cars parked on double yellow lines on Bath Street. As I took the second of CT55 FRL a young man busy parking his red Audi on the double yellow lines. I asked him why he was parking on the double yellows and he claimed to have a disabled parking badge. When he saw me taking a picture of the car already parked he told me it was his car as well so it was also covered by his disabled badge. It must be a severe disability for him to need to park two cars outside the pub!

On my way there “YK04 SHU” was parked illegally.


On the way back “CT55 FRL” was parked illegally (notice how close to the traffic lights this illegal parking is) and the red Audi was in the process of also parking illegally. Interesting that all 3 cars were Audi’s:


Note there was plenty of legal parking a bit further along Bath Street.

The daily grid of dealing with car, van, bus and HGV drivers that break the law, drive dangerously and ignore vulnerable people is a good reminder of why we need major change in the transport policies to lead us towards a safer infrastructure for our children. If Critical Mass can help in anyway then it is worth supporting.

Sadly everyday we get news that demonstrates that the UK government are committed to making things worse when it comes to transport. Consider the recent decisions:


One bungee to save them all

Started carrying a bungee with me when doing the shopping. It does not take much to keep things on a cargobike at 15mph compared to a car roof at 80mph 🙂



80 mile day done

As I have mentioned in a few earlier posts today was a longer ride for work.

In total 40 miles each way to the Methodist Church Northampton District Ministerial Synod at Wellingborough.

Anyway turned out to be no problem. Rode all the way there and back with my friend Adam from Loughborough on his Trice recumbent trike (he had already ridden the 10 miles to my house by 6:20am). Adam was suffering a little with tummy problems which meant we arrived in Wellingborough a few minutes late.

Recumbents (particularly trikes) and Road bikes are somewhat incompatible going uphill as the road bike is so much lighter and does not have as low gear, so I had to go ahead on a few of the steepest hills. Other than that it was lovely weather and a most enjoyable ride.

There were a few stupid driver incidents. One was a very dangerous driver as we came into Syston. I was turning right at a mini roundabout and was at the middle when a car decided to go straight on from my left. I managed to turn and stop on the centre of the mini roundabout while they went through exactly where I should have been. I had two front lights on and was also lit up in Adam’s front light beam (very bright Exposure light). Neither of us could quite believe what had happened. Sadly I was too shaken to get the number plate.

Overall though a very good day (the Synod content was good too) and I found it comfortable and easy going. No pains or strains and no bike problems at all 🙂


Good breakfast / bad breakfast

The good thing about planning to ride 80 miles in the day is that you can eat as much breakfast as you like 🙂

The bad thing about planning to ride 80 miles in the day is that you have to eat more breakfast than you really feel like at 6am 🙁


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