Tag Archives: Rothley

So many beautiful road bikes but

This morning I had to drive to and from Rothley for the morning service as Jane won’t let me cycle until this cough improves. On the way there and back I saw more more beautiful road road bikes than I have ever seen out and about before but sadly what is needed is not beautiful lycra clad people on shiney road bikes but ordinary people riding ordinary bikes to work, to school and to the shops.

No country has moved to riding bikes for everyday transport from cycle sport.

The increasing numbers of recreational cyclists are not bad news, it is great to see more people enjoying riding bikes, but sadly alone this is not the change we need to see.

It was also sad to see a number of drivers failing to wait until it was safe to overtake and many others passing far too close.

Redefining normal to find a better life

Our perspective can change. Yesterday felt normal, but I know that a couple of years ago it wouldn’t have seemed possible.

Yesterday was planned with a quiet morning and then getting busier, the plans didn’t quite work yet the result was still a better life.

The morning started well with a lie in (always a favourite with me!). Then email and other exciting admin stuff.

The first meeting of the day was at 2pm, the far side of Markfield, some 13miles away (nearly all uphill). So I set off a little earlier than really needed which meant after a lovely ride through Rothley, Cropston and Bradgate Park I could enjoy a lunch stop at the Old Post Office Cafe, Newtown Lynford (superb toasted triple decker sandwich, huge coffee and walnut cake and a great coffee). Thus fortified I continued up the hills to Fieldhead, then Markfield and to my destination a few miles past the M1, near Coalville. I got there early and was on my way again a little before 4.

That meant I was too late for afternoon visiting at the Royal Infirmary but with all the downhills I was in plenty of time for the Cycle City Meeting at Leicester Town Hall at 5pm despite an errand for Jane on the way.

Leaving the Town Hall just after 7pm, meant that I could now visit the original person in the Royal Infirmary plus another being “processed” by A&E. So a couple of hours there and home before 10pm.

Just over 34 miles in total and despite some heavy showers during the day I only needed my waterproof on for about 10 minutes.

If you had suggested a couple of years ago that I would ride 34 miles (including climbing over 1,000 feet) in normal clothes, on a day with rain forecast, for 2 meetings, hospital visits and an errand  I would probably have thought you crazy. But by working on my expectations, by practising and through the choice of my bike for life I have redefined my understanding of normal. In the process I now experience a better quality of life. For example:

  • While a car might seem faster the stress of driving into Leicester for a meeting at 5pm makes it no fun.
  • I got some beautiful and inspiring views, especially Bradgate Rd from Newtown Lynford to Anstey (although you won’t see it from a normal car as the hedge is too high).
  • I gained the nice quiet reflective time while pedalling gently uphill to prepare 2 sermons for Sunday and a School Assembly for today.
  • I was able to eat a lovely lunch without worrying about putting on weight,
  • I didn’t contribute to Leicester’s appalling problems with air quality
  • I didn’t cause any congestion in the City so didn’t make anyone elses day worse
  • I got some exercise which the doctors and statisticians say is really good for me
  • I saved my employer, the Methodist Church £6.80 in travel expenses plus 4 hours of car parking (same again)
  • During what has been a busy few weeks I got some excellent help with de-stressing and relaxation (for free)

Oh and it was FUN.

Changing my understanding of what is normal has dramatically improved my quality of life!!

For the record some of the features of my Bike for Life that help change normality include:

  • Belt drive keeps me cleaner
  • Rohloff 14 speed hub gears give me the gear range to get up hills without a struggle
  • Full length mudguards with mudflaps keep me dry even on very wet roads
  • Brooks Select B17 saddle is comfortable in normal clothes
  • Dynamo lighting means nothing to worry about if delayed so end up riding home in the dark

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.

A gentler ride

After doing my own personal time trial for two evenings I went for a more gentle ride this evening.

Turned out it was exactly 23 miles with 950 feet of climbing (oddly I descended over 980 feet but ended up at still at ground level when I got back home). My average speed was 15.1 mph.

The route took me to Wanlip, Birstall, Beaumont Leys, Newton Lynford, Swithland, Rothley, Crossington, East Goscote and back to Syston. Mostly very quiet. It includes a few stiff climbs (especially on the fixie).

Pleased to find that the Brooks B17 saddle is comfy. By the end though my shoulders were quite stiff as the fixie has the lowest handlebars of any of my bikes. A hour and a half like this makes a lovely end to the day.

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.

Exhausted cycling leads to reflection on the A6

A combination of some busy days and working rather late meant that today I was exhausted, a pity then that it was busy with doing some training, a lunchtime meeting, a couple of errands and then running a pancake party for 60 people (plus in that I had to fit in the preparation for the training and the party as the last few days have been pretty busy.

So in that mix of busyness and exhaustion I needed to get to Rothley, then Birstall, then the city centre. Finally I needed to take a whole load of stuff to the pancake party just down the road.

It is a measure of how things have changed over the last few months that I didn’t consider using the car. Mind you it was a beautiful day, so I popped on my sunglasses and headed out. Sadly I was running a bit late so it was rather an exhausted sprint to Rothley (not a pretty site, huffing and puffing up the hill in 2nd gear). From there on I took it very gently, still in total it was 18miles today.

So still feeling very tired. But at least I should have done enough exercise to work off the pancakes 🙂

I suppose that if I have a point it is that it is not very important whether I feel strong or fast on any particular day. Instead I got to enjoy being able to say hi to people as I gently passed them, I got to enjoy the sunshine and I got my jobs done without hurting anyone else or damaging the world they live in.

As I was tired I went a direct route which meant I rode along a stretch of the A6 as I wanted to pop into Halfords. So very bike unfriendly and yet so much space that could be re-allocated to make a straight, flat (at least from Watermead Way) and safe route into town for people on bikes. Not only that but to make the changes would make this a far nicer place for the people who live there and more profitable for the struggling businesses along this major route (see walkit.com — Spend on high streets according to travel mode).

Sometimes it seems to me that we have ceased to notice just how ugly and unpleasant major roads make our towns and cities. Why do we want to have such dirty, noisy, smelly, unsafe things dividing our communities?

Leicester is building a big park and ride car park  where the A6 meets the A46. Wouldn’t it be great if as a result they transformed the A6 from there into the centre. One lane only each way for cars, vans, lorries. One lane each way for buses and a wide cycle lane each way. Remove all the extra lanes for right turning cars. Redo all the traffic lights to provide bikes and buses with higher priority. Remove all on street parking and make sure cyclists and pedestrians have level prioritized crossings of every side road and driveway. Then see how the shops would start to thrive with people feeling safe to nip to the local takeaway/newsagent/… on foot or bike. Notice how much cleaner and quieter it would be. Notice how much faster it would be to get into the city by bus than it is now by car.

You could even upgrade and re-route the cycle paths through Watermead so that people on bikes could get in and out of Leicester from Birstall avoiding the hills and even from Rothley or Crossington or Sileby & Syston.

Instead we have the sad situation of a shop like Halfords with a large Bike Hut inside and no cycle stands outside because the roads cut it off from people coming to a bike shop by bike.

Leicestershire highway maintenance block cyclists again

Today they were replacing a sign on the A6 between the A46 and Rothley.

So this being Leicestershire they completely blocked the shared pedestrian/cycle route for most of the day with no provision at all for pedestrians and cyclists. After all this is only a dual carriageway that is used as a racetrack and of course there was no warning and there is no alternative cycle route anyway. So much for this being a valued part of a national cycle network.

IMAG0391

IMAG0390

Note that the cones block off nearly a whole lane. However, the cranes and people lifts from their vehicles overhung most of this. Also the cones were not at all obvious coming from the south.

When going north there was a sudden gap in the cones to allow vehicles to enter/exit the junction. This was right at the back of the bigger lorry so there was no warning and no visibility when coming from the north. Of course nothing was done to provide a way over the kerb and raised grass verge either.

There is not even the normal excuse of not knowing this is a cycle route. In the first picture you can see the sign for a shared use path within a few feet of where they are working.

I politely asked the men working there if they could sort something out when I first rode past at about 10am, by 12:30pm nothing had been done to make it safer for cyclists or pedestrians. At the time I returned they were operating the crane on the lorry from it’s nearside with nobody watching for passing cyclists or pedestrians. Very dangerous and most unpleasant to pass.

Finally just to confirm for anyone from Leicestershire County Council the vehicles involved on Tue 8th of Feb were FD53 ZCE and NV10 NLF

That light is spot on

Riding back from Rothley tonight I had this comment from a well equipped commuting cyclist (as in good lights looking like they were riding home from work at around 6pm).

“That light is spot on”

I was heading south about to join the A6 to ride along the separated cycle path. As there is only a cyclepath on one side of the road this means I was facing the oncoming traffic (feels like you are riding on the wrong side of the road).

He was talking about my Schmidt SON Edelux light powered by the Delux Hub dynamo.

He is right, the beam is absolutely excellent for cycling even on very dark country lanes, but it also does not blind oncoming cars, cyclists and pedestrians as there is a really clear cut off.

Given the campaign that Vik has been on recently this was good to hear.

Note on the back I ride with two Cateye TL-LD1100 lights. I have followed Jane when using these to check the brightness and so I tune which I have on according to whether I am on or off road as well as traffic & weather conditions. I think these pass Vik’s tests.

Having two lights means that I don’t need to worry about batteries running out, if one light starts getting dimmer then I use only half it’s lights until I can replace the batteries.

Bullitt Cargobike Handling

When you ride a cargobike in the UK you gets lots of people commenting that they have never seen anything like it before. But the next comment or question is almost always related to “It must be difficult to ride”. I am started to get a bit worried about my cycling style (I don’t aspire to Cycling Chic as that seems to be dependant on high heels and short skirts which just don’t suit me) – am I riding my Bullit in a very strange way that makes it look difficult?

IMAG0362

Maybe as in the photo I look like I am riding into a brick wall 🙂

The truth is that the Bullitt is great to ride. The handling inspires confidence, it is predictable, smooth and easy.

For example a couple of evenings ago I went alone on a late night ride of 34 miles with some significant hills (total climbed over 2600 feet). That was mostly on tiny country roads I have never been on before. You don’t do that on a bike with handling that is suspect.

Before that. for over a week I rode my Bullitt around in Santa Sleigh disguise which  had the potential to catch the wind quite dramatically. While in this guise I did an 8 mile round trip to Rothley. On the way back I was doing 25mph on the cycle path at the side of the A46 slip road (between the A6 and Wanlip) which was covered in icy snow, the Bullitt didn’t care and was still rock steady. On another section of the A46 cyclepath I had hgv’s going past at 60+ mph with no proper separation, the Bullitt didn’t wobble at all. Note I did have my studded front winter tyre fitted at the time.

IMAG0306

IMAG0313Over the years I have ridden many different types of bikes. We have for example owned 3 tandems, 4 recumbent trikes, mountain bikes, folding bikes, city bikes, & road bikes with everything from no gears to 81. On holidays with The Company of Cyclists (you can still see pictures that include us on the holidays page) we were able to try many bikes including cargo bikes and pedicabs.

So with the benefit of this experience I have to say that the handling of the Bullitt has surpassed my expectations. I knew I wanted the practicality and the potential for speed (compared to other cargobikes). What I did not expect was such cycling pleasure, comfort and speed – (people riding mountain bikes around town are easy meat 🙂

In the past when I mostly rode a recumbent trike people would look suspiciously at you lying there in comfort and ask “Is it uncomfortable”. I would usually reply that it was like sitting in their favourite armchair (Trice Tandem X2) or like riding your bed (Trice XXL trike) and the most difficult thing was not snoozing too long at traffic lights.

When riding the Bullitt I am sorted for an answer to the “Is it slow?” question, that was easy “It is called a Bullitt for a reason” 🙂

Now I need a standard response to the “It must be hard to ride” comments that people keep making. Something more friendly than “No it is not, you idiot” 🙂

Any suggestions?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: