Monthly Archives: December 2011

Projected total miles for 2011

I have just done a little adding up and looks like I am going to achieve 4,800 recorded cycling miles in 2011.

That is way, way more than I have ever done before and represented 13.1 miles per day on average.

Very pleased with this.

Obviously the next target will be to break through 5,000 miles in a year, not sure it will be very effective to make that a target for 2012 though – targets don’t generally work very well for me 🙂

Christmas Holiday riding around Ross-on-Wye

We arrived at the Premier Inn at Ross-on-Wye yesterday afternoon, just three of us having left older teenagers at home revising.

I had time for a short ride exploring the way to Ross-on-Wye from the hotel avoiding major roads:

Today I just rode into Ross-on-Wye to meet the family for lunch, later we visited Symonds Yat for a walk and Monmouth for dinner.

In the morning I plan to ride to Chepstow, just planning the route now.

Double success :-)

Wow, I am very impressed with SPA Cycles and the Post Office. As detailed in Neat solution I ordered two special brake bolts on 22nd December at about 11pm and they arrived this morning 24th December. Fantastic service, thanks to both of them!

So I couldn’t resist fitting them 🙂

I have wanted to fit mudguards to my Trek Pilot Road bike for years and a long time ago I bought some brilliant SKS mudguards, but I have never been able to fit them due to the way the brake bolts use a long allen nut through the frame to reach the relatively short brake bolt.

Rather foolishly (this is me after all) I started the upgrade without fully thinking through how long it would take to completely dismantle the brakes (in order to replace the main bolt). It was a bit fiddly (once I noticed the grub screws it went more easily). When it came to putting it back together in an ideal world the front brake bolt would have been 5mm longer and the rear one 10mm shorter. However with a bit of bodging I was able to reassemble the brakes and put the bike together with the new mudguards fitted.

Things got a bit tight for time towards the end as I had forgotten some family were turning up just as I needed to be going out to the 4pm service at Rothley made worse by the fact I was still finishing the bike in the front hall as they arrived 🙂 Still I was finished just in time.

I am delighted to report that on the first outing the mudguards worked perfectly and for the total of 8.6 miles I averaged 16.4mph which meant I was in time for the service at Rothley and then the Christingle at Syston (see This time last year I failed). That was good news as we had a lot of extra people this year in Rothley which was great but would have been very embarrassing if I hadn’t got there in time.

As always I find peoples responses to my travelling by bike interesting. Lots of older generations relate to it well as it is how they used to get around. But very consistently people who do not ride bikes overestimate distances and how long cycling to places takes. Remember I am not some fit racing cyclist in full gear on a lightweight road bike but a middle aged, somewhat overweight bloke wearing a clerical shirt and work trousers. I do tend to wear trainers and if I am going to be riding fast I do take a replacement shirt – but there is no Lycra or clip on shoes and I always have at least one pannier of stuff.

Back to modifying the bike. In terms of fitting the brake bolts and mudguards one of the bodges is due one of my few irritations with the Trek Pilot. At the back there is only one set of holes at the dropouts. When you want to fit both a rack and mudguard this is less than ideal. The mudguard stays end up forcing the rack mounting away from the dropout which puts extra stress on the bolts. Fortunately the Tubus Locc rack has extra holes above the ones used to fix to the dropouts and so I have the mudguard stays fastened to the rack which is fastened to the frame. Sadly over the years the mounting point thread on the left dropout has worn out, fortunately on that side it is not a problem. I use a long allen headed bolt mounted with the head on the inside and a nut on the outside. There is no space to do the same on the chain side so I am not sure what to do when that thread wears out (maybe use it as an excuse for a new bike?).

Anyway two successes today 🙂 Mudguards fitted and I managed my Christmas Eve services by bike 🙂

Plus so far two full services celebrating Christmas in very different ways. Just 11:30pm Holy Communion and 10:30am Christmas Celebration to go both in Syston Methodist Church – all welcome even if you don’t join me in cycling to them both 🙂

This time last year I failed

Christmas Eve last year was the only time I drove the car for work within the boundaries of the Leicester North Circuit during my first year in the appointment.

The problem is a 4pm Christmas Service at Rothley followed by a 5pm Christingle Service at Syston. According to Google Maps the distance is 3.8 miles

This year is different, we have no snow or ice, the weather forecast is dry. So I can use my road bike and really go for it

More seriously you don’t save a lot of time in a car. Neither Church has a car park so you have to factor in time to walk to/from the car at both ends. With my bike I can cheat and take it inside at each end – that means no delays caused by locking it up. Also with 16 months experience cycling around the area Rothley has moved a lot closer to Syston.

So door to door we are looking at between 15 (16mph) and 20 minutes (12mph)  depending on how easy I take it. With a 30 minute service planned at Rothley it turns out I have about 10 minutes to wish people there a Happy Christmas and 5 minutes at Syston to compose myself to welcome hoards of happy kids. I don’t know why I gave in last year.

An inspiring example

Yesterday I was inspired by someone I visited. A widower in his late 80’s, he hadn’t been feeling too well so he went to the doctors, got a prescription for extra medication and went to the chemist to collect it.

The thing is.

He cycled to the Doctors and to the Chemist. Not only that but he chose to support the local independent chemist in the next village who he has used for years. This meant a round trip of about 5 miles.

He could have used his mobility scooter but says he gets too cold on that and it makes his knees and ankles seize up so it is difficult to walk when he gets to the destination.

He says he rides slowly but it gets the air into his lungs and he feels better.

The only downside is that he still rides with a traditional gents frame and getting on and off the bike is getting harder.

So what’s your excuse for not riding a bike?

Neat solution

I found this: Allen Key to Nut fit Converter Bolt from SPA Cycles thanks to Velovision Magazine.

Hopefully it will allow me to fit mudguards to my Trek Pilot Road Bike which will make it far more useful in winter.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

Aggression gone mad

I have just returned from Leicester City and my route took me through Thurmaston Village. This is a traffic calmed road with a separate bypass and so is really only a through route for buses.

Yet this road seems to collect aggressive & dangerous drivers.

On this short stretch I had 5 cars overtake me in dangerous ways. All far too close to me. All having to brake hard immediately they passed me because of stopped traffic in front of them (in several cases I had to slam my brakes on to avoid going into the back of a car that had just overtaken me).

The stupidest driver gave me the finger and mouthed something at me because I stopped at a pinch point to give way to an oncoming car that had right of way. I was following a stream of dangerous drivers (who had all impatiently and dangerously overtaken me in the preceding 1/2 mile ). All these pushed through the pinch point where they were supposed to give way to an oncoming car. When I stopped to allow the car with right of way to come through they car behind me pulled out to overtake me where I was stopped at the pinch point and so completely blocked the way for the car who had right of way.

What is it with car drivers that they no longer think any of the law applies to them?

How are we ever going to improve our road safety when aggressive gormless idiots like these are allowed to drive?

Car drivers slow themselves down

This may all seem obvious given the general lack of self awareness on the part of car drivers. However, it is worth pointing out ways in which car drivers inevitably cause their journeys to become slower over time through their bad/dangerous driving habits.

Everytime a driver overtakes a cyclist in a way that the cyclists feels is dangerous there are a number of ways that will cause delays in the future for the driver.

1. Some cyclists will stop riding a bike because they feel unsafe.

At this point they will increase congestion and thus slow the driver down in the future.

Every mode of transport that the cyclist switches to will cause more delay for the driver (with the possible exception of walking). The obvious case is where the cyclist starts using a car rather than their bike. However, switching to public transport will often result in more delays for car drivers than a bike. For example buses will take longer to fill up at bus stops, will need to stop more frequently. If they switch to the train (or in London the underground) then with the current levels of overcrowding on many lines it is likely that someone else will tire of the overcrowding and switch to a car.

2. Other cyclists will become more assertive.

This is what I find myself doing. I notice that when cars overtake when I do not feel it is safe I respond by taking the road more often, by moving out from the kerb so that cars cannot overtake when I don’t feel it is safe.

The more cars behave in ways that threaten my safety the more likely I will pull out earlier into the centre of the lane when

  • approaching islands in the middle of the road
  • when there are bends with poor visibility
  • when there are cars coming the other way
  • when there is a queue of stationary or slow moving traffic ahead

so each scary driver directly causes delays for the drivers behind.

3. Cyclists will take action

We see that more and more when cyclists feel threatened by car drivers they are turning to technology, particularly the use of video cameras so they can catch and report dangerous drivers.

Getting caught on a video like this will cause your journeys to slow down. Hopefully it will be because your license has been taken away and have to retake your driving test before being allowed to drive  again. In less serious cases it would be good if your insurance company could see the video and increase your insurance premiums. One day it may mean that you are restricted in what you are licensed to drive – no more fast cars for people who have demonstrated an inability to use them safely.

As the price and inconvenience of technology continues drop the more that dangerous car drivers who frighten cyclists will be caught on video and the greater the consequences of being caught red handed on video will be.

4. The car driver will kill or injure a cyclist

Inevitably the more often a car driver overtakes a cyclist in a dangerous way the more likely it is that they will kill or injure a cyclist. Killing or injuring someone is going to delay your future journeys.

It will delay the current journey (unless you wish to leave the human race by ignoring the person you have just hit – in which case the consequences will hopefully include prison where you won’t be making any journeys).

Delays to your future journeys will come from the weight of responsibility and guilt on your shoulders for the death/injury you have caused. It has the potential to affect every part of your life.

Delays will come from the legal consequences of your actions. Time lost in the police investigation, in the court case & in the time off work. They will come from the penalties  such as loss of your driving license and maybe the loss of your freedom and your job.

Conclusion

Making car drivers more self aware and more willing to consider the the consequences of their actions is not an easy thing to do (if it were then they would not be buying gas guzzling SUV’s or cars able to do 120mph or driving their kids to school etc).

Yet it seems to me that our policy makers,  police & courts have significant opportunites to make our roads safer by making the consequences of dangerous and inconsiderate driving much more visible to drivers.

We need much more severe consequences for drivers who kill or seriously injure others. We need to be much better at catching and prosecuting dangerous drivers and stopping them continuing with their behaviour.

Only when all drivers are made aware of the impact their driving behaviour can have on their own lives is there any change they change their behaviour.

A safe Bullitt in a storm

Yesterday was not the best of days in terms of weather! Leicester escaped the worst, but we still had some heavy rain causing localised flooding and for a while high winds.

2011-08-31 15.18.48So it might not have seemed the ideal day for riding a Bullitt Cargobike with a large cargobox on it.

However, Jane had gone into Leicester by train and I had promised to carry the Christmas Shopping home after I had completed some work.

So I rode to Rothley for a meeting. It was raining a fair bit and the wind was a strong front crosswind which is about the worst direction as it both slows you down and buffets you sideways. Yet the Bullitt continued to be stable and reassuring to ride. It was even nice enough for a bit of singing in the rain 🙂

It rained very heavily during my meeting in Rothley, by the time I left the rain was stopping and the wind had died down a bit. So the ride into Leicester via an errand in Birstall was straightforward, even if the roundabout in the centre of Birstall was flooded (fortunately on the northbound side so didn’t affect me).

I was able to park in the Town Hall Bike Park (still free at the moment) and collect bags of Christmas shopping off Jane to load in the cargobox. Just before the Bike Park closed I filled the box with the rest of the shopping and moved the bike to outside John Lewis where we met up again. Finally we went for a Chinese buffet with the Bullitt parked outside Cafe Rouge.

After the meal Jane headed off to the station while I took all the shopping home. The evening had cleared up so it was much calmer and dry – except of course that much of the cycle route floods. Fortunately the Bullitt will ride though water several inches deep without the rider getting at all wet. The combination of the long wheelbase, cargobox, good mudguards with added Brooks mudflaps works brilliantly. While my fixie has excellent mudguards and mudflaps when the water is deep you get it diverted by the front tyre straight onto your toes.

Through Watermead park there were plenty of twigs, small branches and wet leaves all over the cycle path. The Bullitt is extremely sure footed in these circumstances. Much more so than either my fixie or Trek road bike (the front wheel can easily slip sideways when you cross a twig on a corner). The Bullitt feels just as secure as my full suspension mountain bike in these conditions.

When the weather is bad it is so easy to believe the idea that cycling is impossible or crazy yet the reality is that it is still convenient and fast. Rain and wind always seems worse in a car than on a bike.

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