Category Archives: transport

Go faster wheels from TheHappyCog

This week has been a great test of my go faster wheels from TheHappyCog. In fact of course these are not just Go Faster wheels they are also:

  • Go more serviceable wheels (thanks to the Hope Pro4 rear hub which is beautifully easy to service)
  • Go lighter wheels (0.5kg saving)
  • Go better lit wheels (thanks to the Schmidt Son28 dynamo powering a B&M Luxos IQ2 front Light)
  • Go fewer punctures (at least in theory due to tubeless Schwalbe Pro-One tyres)
  • Go noisier wheels (the Hope Pro4 freewheel lives upto their reputation for loud freewheeling)

So on Monday I rode 64 miles to Cliff College in Derbyshire (just north of Chatsworth House) for a meeting which finished at 4pm on Tuesday when I rode home again. I carried just under 12kg of luggage in 2 Ortlieb Classic panniers.

Going there it was:

  • 64.0 miles
  • 4:50:12 Moving Time
  • 4,232ft of climbing

Coming back:

  • 64.1 miles
  • 4:28:58 Moving Time
  • 3,589ft of climbing

On the way there I had to walk one section just before Birchover (about 20% and wet+gravel). Coming home I went around Stanton in-Peak to avoid a 25% climb.

I kept being surprised at how fast I was going (8 personal records going and 38 coming home). That despite quite a large part of the route being new to me (on the other hand quite a lot I have only ridden once before making the PR’s easy to get).

One that stands out is a 1.1 mile segment between Barrow-on-Soar and Sileby. According to Strava I have now ridden this 8 times. This time I knocked 10 seconds off my best time despite it coming 60 miles into a ride carrying 12kg of panniers.

I’m not anywhere near my fittest (been focusing on losing weight and not done many miles this year). I am a bit lighter than my last best time (but much less than 12kg of luggage lighter). The key differences are

  • the wheels with their “deep”ish aero section rims and rotating weight saving
  • the tyres (28mm Schwalbe Pro-One instead of 32mm Durano Plus)
  • lower stem so that I am a bit more aero

I can’t quantify the saving due to each of these, however, 2 out of the 3 are related to the new wheels 🙂


Another work cycle tour: Syston to Cliff College

This is my route for tomorrow (and in reverse on Tuesday) as I have 24 hours of training to be a Methodist Superintendent Minister (and yes I have heard all the jokes already):

102.68 km route with 1,565 m of climbing. Check it out!

Source: Syston to Cliff College – VeloViewer

That is 64 miles and 5,100 feet of climbing in old money 😉

I’ll be on my renewed Whyte Suffolk, hopefully having packed very light (for me). The weather forecast is good which is extra icing on the cake. I went to Cliff for a conference in September but due to various circumstances I got a lift halfway there although I did ride all the way home. I have since tuned the route a little, with hopefully some quieter roads by skirting Derby differently. Going on my Whyte rather than my Bike for Life does mean travelling lighter but it should also save a fair bit of time.

There are some big/steep climbs on this route but also some gorgeous views and very quiet roads.

These rides will also be significant as, if all goes well, they will mean me achieving an Eddington number of 60 (riding 60 miles on 60 different days) which I just failed to complete by the end of 2015.


Some November calculations

As tomorrow is my day off I’ve just been calculating my travel expenses for November.
  • 4 car journeys (none possible by bike due to volume of stuff) total 229.8 miles at 45p per mile = £103.41
  • 52 journeys by bike total 336.96 miles at 20p per mile = £67.39
Savings from cycling:
  • cycling 336.96 directly saved the Church £84.24 this month.
  • cycling also saved me money as 45p per mile does not cover the full cost of buying and running a car when you don’t use it much for work. On the other hand 20p per mile is far more than the running cost of a bike (around 1 or 2 pence per mile) so contributes towards the purchase price. If this were annually then it would be about £725 a year above the running cost or a £1,500 bike every 2 years. It does make a very expensive Bike for Life look like good value though. The full cost of even a £5,000 bike is earned in around 3.5 years. Mine is now 3 years old and good for another 30 years which makes it an excellent bargain 🙂
  • It also used around 12,000 calories (around 15 full roast dinners) which is very approximately 1.5kg (3lbs) of body fat. Those figures are very rough indeed, however, it is undeniable that cycling 336 miles in a month does help with my weight management and general fitness.
  • It also saved in the region of 130kg of CO2 emissions.
Disclaimer: the cycling figure contains 2 adjustments. One a reduction as I chose to take a longer route to Market Harborough for fun. The other an increase as once due to tiredness Jane came and collected me by car and I have only charged as if I had cycled home.
So far this month 393 actual miles cycled in total which means I haven’t done as much leisure cycling as normal. Still a better month for work miles so it balances out.

Conference travel coming up :-)

I’m attending a conference at Cliff College starting Friday lunchtime and ending Saturday lunchtime.

Fortunately, it makes a great cycle ride there and back. Current route is just over 63 miles so I might need to go the wrong way a few times to increase it a bit 😉 I’ve made it go on minor roads to increase the climbing to just over 4,500 feet as light training for the BearBones 200. It will mean a bit of an early start though.

You can see the route on Strava and it will tick off 2 of the remaining 7 60+ day rides to get my Eddington number up to 60 by the end of the year 🙂

As I’ll have finished preparing my Bike for Life for the BareBones 200 I think I’ll sort out my packing to use it in light weight bikepacking mode (essentially 2 drybags in WildcatGear Lion and Tiger harnesses plus my Lioness bag for bits). I might add an Alpkit Stem Cell for snacks.

And for anyone interested the conference is “Marriage and Relationships: facilitation training event” for the Methodist Connexion 😉


Why such dangerously aggressive driving?

At lunchtime today I was heading home from the Harvest Festival Service at Rothley. Going up Hallfields Lane approaching the traffic lights at the Red Lion I was catching up a mix bunch on bikes.

Not sure who this group were (some looked like they were dressed for a Tweed ride, some clearly didn’t cycle much) but what I don’t understand is the way drivers were treating them.

Some of them were very slow going up the hill, but they were in single file. They didn’t jump the traffic lights and they had ride leaders who were keeping an eye on them. When they got split up by the traffic lights they regrouped by waiting in Hickling Close.

So this was a group of ordinary people in normal clothes out on bikes on a beautiful autumn Sunday lunchtime.

Yet drivers were being hatefully aggressive to them, swearing at them, hurling abuse and passing far too close (even when it was obvious they were going to be stopping for the car in front any moment).

What is it about driving a car that creates this aggression, hatred, violence, anger? Why do drivers get to believe that that have rights over everyone else?

Closer to home as so often is the case drivers basically abandon their cars all over the pavement, blocking corners and blocking dropped kerbs. Then other drivers try to force their way past people on bikes forced into the centre of the road by the parked cars.

All this from people causing deaths through pollution, through the crashes they cause and through wars and other injustices over oil.

Drivers should be approaching the rest of society on bended knee, begging our permission to take over our space, poison our air, squander limited resources and put our lives at risk through their lack of care.

Enough of this injustice!


Little loaded test

So I stepped in to talk to a Senior Fellowship Group this afternoon. As I expected those who were setting up were asking me about my sabbatical so it was fortunate that I had planned to talk about it a bit.

That meant I took projector, laptop 25 metre extension cable and a whole lot of camping stuff to show them. So I threw everything quickly into 4 panniers. Hence:



It was one of those nice afternoons when I had time for lunch after a morning meeting before riding gently there. On the way back I was able to take the scenic route home still giving time for a few jobs before my evening meeting. Very nice:

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
02:37:53 00:46:48 8.55 10.96 22.37 206.69
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

I am learning to cope with hills

Today was quite a hilly ride from Launde Abbey to Oakham and back (1,472 feet climbing in 12.1 miles) on my Bullitt Cargobike. It was also very windy with a headwind all the way back. I have done the ride many times before in the 8 years I have been coming to Launde Abbey for our District Retreat, but only once before on my cargobike (and that was before I had the cargobox).

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
02:18:47 01:23:34 12.06 8.66 45.63 1,473.10
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

While I am still not very fast:-) I think I have made a lot of progress since I wrote Getting defeatist me up hills for years ago. I’m not sure I’m a lot fitter and the weight I was hoping to lose at the time didn’t stay off, so I am a similar weight now.

However, mentally I think I have made progress when it comes to climbing hills. I don’t panic that I won’t get to the top. I am able to relax into plodding up for however long it takes and if I get off to walk it is no longer the end of the world (although I didn’t have to walk at all today). I can now look ahead and see the top in the distance without that frightening me.

My limited amount of running (my first 5k since May yesterday) does seem to help, especially when it comes to standing on the pedals when you can no longer spin in 1st gear.

All this has been without specialised, dedicated and committed training. Events like the Ford Fiesta help, but generally I think it is the combination of just riding for transport and adding longer rides into the mix. Learning to relax and not get so stressed also helps and part of that is knowing that I and the bike are reliable and so it does not matter if things take a bit longer.

Oh and two other points about today’s ride.

a) I wasn’t wearing any cycling specific clothing. T-shirt, light fleece and Acclimatise Fleece, normal casual trousers, trainers.

b) I’m not too tired after. Ready for an evening session on the retreat.

Neither of these would have been true 4 years ago.


A good bike choice :-)

So after deliberations I did use my Bullitt Cargobike to ride 15.7 miles to Launde Abbey today.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:30:25 01:27:18 15.67 10.77 31.32 836.61
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

This is why:


By that I mean that you can’t tell that I have a weeks clothing, laptop computer etc etc all securely locked in the metal cargo box.

That means I can enjoy the ride without worrying that all my possessions are on show.

And no I wasn’t quick but I did manage to cycle up all the hills (and at 14.8 miles it does get to 19.2% which is quite steep enough for me on a loaded bike).


Hospital visiting is a great excuse :-)

Sadly this week when we discussed who was in hospital at our staff meeting it turned out we had four church members in hospital, in four different hospitals. So this afternoon I got a lovely ride out to Melton Mowbray to visit E in the tiny (one ward) hospital there.

They actually had the best bike rack of any of the local hospitals, but mine was the only bike in it. Given what a horrible place Melton Mowbray is to cycle through I’m not surprised. It is a good example of Leicestershire’s approach which is to randomly assign footways as shared use without any thought about their suitability, the convenience or safety of cyclists (or pedestrians) – all to benefit King Car.

Apart from the bit inside Melton Moybray (“The Rural Capital of Food”!) the rest of the route is very pleasant  so I couldn’t resist a slight detour on the way home 🙂

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
02:50:06 02:00:26 27.28 13.59 30.20 1,131.89
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.



Leicester City failures create more danger

Yesterday evening I went to the Leicester Cycle Campaign Group’s regular meeting.

On the way it was nice to be able to celebrate a triumph over the idiocy of Leicester City Council and Sainsbury’s as after over a year, numerous letters, mentions at every Cycle City meeting and a Freedom of Information request they have actually removed the posts from the middle of the shared space around the new store on the Melton Road.

However, as I approached Belgrave Circle (where the flyover used to be) a bus nearly sideswiped me off my bike (First Buses, number 26 at about 6pm). This was in the two lane section approaching the roundabout, where the new cycle infrastructure has not yet been opened. The bus was in the outer lane, over taking me and approaching static traffic (closer to us in my lane). When 2/3 of the way past me he suddenly came sideways into my lane (about 1/3 of the way across the lane) before weaving back into the right hand lane.

I was already slowing because of stationary traffic ahead at the red light. He knew I was there as I was in the primary position, lit up with 3 very bright front lights and 3 very bright rear lights, he had pulled out around me.

The City Council website still says

3. What provisions are being made for cyclists and pedestrians during and after the project? 

Safe pedestrian and cycle access will be maintained throughout the works. Once complete, improved cycle and pedestrian access will be provided. There will also be marshals on site to direct cyclists and pedestrians to safe routes.

This is untrue. Despite a number of complaints to customer services there has never been any support for cyclists throughout these road works, this incident is but one of many which is unsurprising on a roundabout with 2 lane approaches and 4 lanes on the roundabout.

Since November the Leicester Cycle Campaign Group have been trying to discover from the City Council what is actually being built for cyclists at this junction. It is clear that it is significantly different from the drawings we have been shown (which included a central segregated cycle track) but it is not at all obvious how it will work (for example there are trees planted in what looks like shared space and how northbound cyclists will use it is very unclear). So far our requests not been answered.

My route was:

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
03:53:19 00:51:47 10.49 12.15 21.70 341.21
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

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