Monthly Archives: October 2012

On waiting

You may have noticed a distinct silence on the subject of A Bike for Life in recent weeks. I am in a period of waiting that might have been deliberately designed to help overcome certain character flaws in me.

Some of the choices I have made when specifying my bike have delayed it’s build by Steven at Shand Cycles. We are stuck waiting for other companies to complete compatibility testing before supplying key parts.

I have been spoilt by living in a world in which we can expect almost instant delivery of almost anything. However, there are dangers with that expectation. So often it is achieved through the loss of

  • Individuality: things are available instantly only if we all have the same thing
  • Relationship: things are only available instantly if we abandon contact with people and do not enter into relationships with them
  • Craftsmanship: things can only be available instantly if their production (and sometimes “customisation”) is automated
  • Sustainability: immediate is an enemy of sustainable.. It requires time to be prioritised over care, consideration, thoughtfulness
  • Human scale: instant does not allow small and personal. It requires us to be lost in the machine
  • Quality: Rubbish is quicker to design, make and deliver. Quality always takes time.

All too often we have been persuaded to overvalue immediate gratification. Immediate gratification distracts us from long term value and costs.

Immediate gratification leads us to jump into our cars to get somewhere quick rather than think ahead and walk, cycle, use public transport. Yet the long term costs to our health, our wealth and our communities are huge.

Immediate gratification leads our politicians to bow to the pressure of big powerful business and give in to the lie that lowering fuel costs will aid economic recovery. So they choose that rather than investing in the slow process of making sustainable and healthier choices.

So I am focusing on building my character, on challenging my desire for instant gratification. Learning more patience is good for me, good for my health and good for the people who share my life.

Realistically instant gratification is incompatible with the desire to have a Bike for Life. A bike with real value that is individual and crafted. One where every detail has been thought about and choices made that fit with my goals of supporting British manufacturers, of lowest possible maintenance and of great flexibility.

Am I becoming a more patient person? Time (and Steven’s silence about how many “Hows it going?” emails he gets)  will tell.

Inspired by @v_pendleton and others

As you can read elsewhere, I had an inspiring afternoon in London and ended up enjoying myself browsing in Foyles bookshop.

While there I picked up Victoria Pendleton’s autobiography “Between the lines” and really got stuck into it on the train back to Leicester.

I have found Victoria inspiring for years. She is such an incredibly smooth/fluid cyclist. Absolutely amazing to watch. As someone who rides a fixed gear bike (well did until it disappeared to University with a son) I can appreciate a little just how difficult it is to ride as she does. As I watched the Olympics this summer I could hardly believe how she could appear to be going flat out in a sprint and then still stand out of the saddle and go even faster.  Awesome.

However, she has also always impressed me for the way she has in a unique way managed to mix strength, determination, vulnerability, powerful emotions, professionalism and her integrity in not giving up on being the girl she wanted to be. Although I should point out that the level of being impressed is still not anything like enough to get me to watch Strictly Come Dancing – that would be many steps too far 🙂

Anyway the inspiration led to a beautiful ride home from Leicester Station through Abbey Park and Watermead Park, one of those times when riding a bike seems so effortless, smooth and fast. Absolutely delightful.

So yes the book is good, although 20 years ago all those emotions on display would have reduced me to a quivering wreck 🙂

Surprised by popularity of videos

Well surprised is a bit weak for how I feel.

Over the last week I have uploaded 9 videos to YouTube and I have had way more hits than I expected. Now at 377 views which is amazing.

I have been really enjoying this new form of play, I’ve only once before used any form of video editing. Looks like I have added another time bandit to my portfolio 😉

USB charging madness

This is getting crazy. The list of things I need to charge via USB just keeps growing longer.

  • Mobile Phone
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab
  • Garmin Bike Computer
  • Contour+2 video camera
  • Exposure Joystick light
  • Exposure Strada light
  • Camera
  • iPod

While these have at least all standardised on being USB I still need 6 different cables for the 8 devices.

The space all this takes up and the mess it creates is a real pain. I don’t want to make it inconvenient by charging in some out of the way place (the Galaxy tab needs such a lot of charging that it is plugged in whenever it is by a socket) but I would like to find a way to organise it better.

Any suggestions

Bi-annual Bullitt maintenance

So yesterday was one of those rare days when I do some maintenance work on my Bullitt Clockwork cargobike (last time I did anything significant was when I fitted the 11 speed Alfine Hub gear). Nothing very major but

  • I bled the hydraulic brakes. I had left it a bit long and the mineral oil reservoir was empty on both sides. No wonder they have been a bit spongy recently. This is the nastiest and most tricky maintenance task that the Bullitt requires. Still in 2 years I have only needed to do it twice so no big deal. While I was doing this I cleaned the brake pads (loads of wear left). Hopefully it will be a bit quieter braking now (although I think I’ll try different pads next time).
  • I changed the gear cable and housing. When I fitted the 11 speed Alfine hub I initially got the cable routing wrong (the 11 speed cable wraps around the axle in the opposite direction) and in the process put a kink in. This has made shifting in the top gears a little dodgy recently, hopefully a new cable will fix this. While doing this I put on a new chain as the old one was getting quite stretched.
  • I did some work on my home made cargobox to reduce some squeaks and add some reflective strips.
  • I changed pedals. I hadn’t bothered to switch back to fully flat pedals after using it for touring last year
  • I fitted the “proper” bike mount for my Contour+2 camera.
  • I swapped the feet on the stand over from side to side. This will even out the wear on them as the front edge was getting quite worn away.

One thing it has been good to notice is just how much difference the Brooks Mudflaps that I have fitted have made. In the past it got pretty dirty underneath, now there was no mud at all 🙂

That is all for now. Should be all that is needed for the next few months.

That worked well!

I sent this tweet earlier:

Well the videos have now been watched over 250 times 🙂

Illustrating bad infrastructure

So now I have a new toy. A Contour+2 camera. Somewhat unimpressed with the Windows software, fortunately I have found OpenShot on Ubuntu which works beautifully. The only missing thing is the nice combo video on the contour website that shows the map and speed graphs in the corner using the GPS data.

Anyway, I now have my first four videos on YouTube and even have my own YouTube channel.

I have been playing with the YouTube annotations so I now have three rides that document problems with the local infrastructure.

I quite like these annotations as ways of drawing attention to the problems of bad infrastructure. What do you think?

First video an exciting trip to Stabucks for lunch

Fairly self explanatory. This is riding from Syston, starting just by the railway station, to the Starbucks at Thurmaston. Most of the way I was following Jane.

Notice the stupid overtaking manoeuvres on the railway bridge and the inconsiderate way the people working on the junction at Thurmaston have parked. Also notice how poor the shared route past Roundhill School is.

So Syston Doors please ask the driver of your van FX03LSK to give cyclists more space in the future.

As for the Silver Renault Clio NX06VLH that was a completely stupid and dangerous way to overtake.

That is not a winter bike

At this time of year the cycling magazines always have reviews of “winter” bikes.

The problem is that, at least as far as I am concerned, these are not winter bikes. Essentially they are just road bikes with mudguards. Instead my definition of a winter bike would include the following:

  • Much bigger tyres to cope with hidden potholes and debris washed into the road
  • clearance for studded tyres for snow/ice
  • Automatic dynamo lights front and rear
  • A rear rack and panniers to carry dry clothes in
  • Mudflaps on the ends of the very long mudguards to keep you and other riders dryer
  • Hub gears for less maintenance
  • disk or hub brakes for less maintenance
  • belt drive for less maintenance

I ride my bikes everyday and these lightweight semi racing bikes just don’t cut it.

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