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New H bars

Alas I gave in… to the Jones’…

Last July I moved from the a stock straight Specialized handlebars, to a too cheap not to try £12.50 (delivered)  XLC City + Trekking handlebar. They enabled a more upright sitting position that i was looking for.

As said before, my riding style over the last few years, has changed from:
i. Trying to co-exist with traffic, riding a bike with a similar driverly attitude and outlook.
ii. Aiming to being more aware of place and adopting a more contented, mindful way…

I have always eyed the Jones H Loop Bar – it’s got a unique classic design, for more comfort, that allows the rider to sit up more. The price was always a restriction, but now the same style comes at a lower price without the ‘loop’.

The  Jones Bend H-Bar® 660

The old cheap bars.
The old cheap bars.
The new Jones Bars
The new Jones Bars
New bars over old.

The are giving me another 2 inches back and out! Nice!

Thanks to the Bikemonger.  Just what I was after!

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Still on my bike…

Today’s ride home was wind-assisted* with a rare west-sou-westerly coming up from the homeland pushing me home.

Feeling the wind carry me along today was edifying – I was assisted onwards by natural forces… the same natural forces that are wreaking havoc elsewhere in the country.

When outside forces are against us, we often feel it; we feel the pressure, the agitation, the discontent. We struggle to move forward, we bemoan the conditions, we blame the others, ourselves, the past… yadda yadda…
When we’re assisted by outside forces we rarely celebrate the achievements, the ease, the enlightenment, the freedom, the power, the glory… it’s often not so noticeable.

Then again, was the natural force moving me onward a blessing? Was it wanted? …it pushed me on, increased my speed, my usual jaunt home became braced and different from the norm… who knows?

Nature is a raw wild thing. Nature can be magnificently unforgiving, hard and cruel, as well as gloriously healthy and healing.

How ‘natural’ are we, I wonder?

As you know, I stopped tracking my rides with Endmondo back in July last year.

I have of course still been getting to and from work by cycle (75miles a week). Bowing to peer pressure I started tracking my rides with Strava. Not sure why I’m tracking again, ‘cos I’m not really interested in the competition, but the record is good to have.


*at least I think I was wind-assisted – however it could have been the mother-in-laws’ leeks-in-cheese-sauce. And very nice it was too!

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Ohhhh (oh oh oh it’s magic*)

In the immortal words of Howard from the Great British Bake Off “oooooo it’s really annoyin’!”

The BBC’s Winterwatch last night was twittering about Cultural Transmission  and stuff and how animals learn stuff and copy etc. Before you know it we’re all wearing jeans, shopping at Tesco and eating crisps. Heaven forbid.

Yesterday I commented that: “There are a lot of cyclists out there that need to take a second look at the way they cycle, and there a lot of drivers out there that need to take a second look at the way they drive…” – myself included!

I’m reminded that “there’s no manifestation in another, which is not also in ourselves, no act or attitude in another, which is not also found in us…” (Simon Parke One-Min.Med.)

Publicly and personally, it’s a daily task to be aware of who we are sharing our world and space with. There will always be people we disagree with and we will always have issues with certain things we encounter.  But in public, common sense and the rules (or the law) are there to maintain a level playing field.

When playing sport if you disregarding the rules you are penalised for good reason. If you disagree with the rules, so be it, it might be a valid point, and there are ways of negotiating this.

I’m on the PHONE!

“Teach the children well…”, not as I say but as I do…

I think blatant or overt disregard of the rules is not helpful.

But hey what do I know?  “Each to his own”, “we need to accommodate everyone”, “they do it differently”, “multi-cultcha and all that”, “it doesn’t apply to me”, “horses for courses”, “what hole?”, “I know a better way”, “Look kids!”

I recently counted:

– Numerous drivers disregarding the law – speeding, dangerous and seemingly ignore-ant drivers.
– Ten people cycling at night with no lights, and obviously no protective or visibility wear?
– A few cyclists not even cycling dangerous weaving on and off the road.
– One crazy coot cycling without any of the above and on a mobile phone?
– Two cyclists seemingly ignoring the road markings?

Some days I wonder why bother to consider who we are sharing our world and space with? eh?

Cultural transmission… oh lordy… save us.

Van in the box – but hey who cares!

Woman on a bike no lights – I’M ON THE PHONE!!

Ignore the box – he did so I’m gonna too…


*Oh, ho, ho It’s magic, you know Never believe it’s not so It’s magic, you know 

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On yer bike!

I try and keep cycling posts to a minimum, ‘cos riding a bike is just a way of getting from a to b and should be normal but…

A friend of mine asks… How many drivers pass too close to people on pedal cycles?

screen-capture-1I do not use major city roads so am not ideally placed to comment but in my subjective experience about 1 in 5 do pass too close when passing people on bikes. 1 in 10 pass very dangerously close.  I film all the 7miles x 2 commutes I do ever weekday – I’ll check when I have time!  But 1 in 10 is too many! Fine for fit, strong, attentive ‘cyclists’ but for the average person in the street that could pop to the shops on their bike, the traffic is not acceptable. Forget getting the kids cycling!

Some academic research is interesting if you’re that way inclined.

When you are on a bike and are experiencing dangerous driving, occasionally it takes superhuman discipline to not get very angry!

I agree with the below, on any ride into town:

  • some drivers will pass dangerously close.
  • some drivers will overtake prematurely.
  • some drivers will cut in too soon.
  • some drivers will follow too close behind cyclists.
  • some will drive at inappropriate speeds.
  • some will use phones or hair brushes etc while driving.
  • there are also the instances where drivers deliberately menace, bully, or antagonise other road users.

It takes significant concerted tolerance, concentration, and both physical and mental strength to stay safe cycling regularly on Britain’s roads.

That’s why I believe separating hard-fast motor vehicles from mortal vulnerable people on bikes is what’s needed if the healthier* option of cycling is to be encouraged.

One might ask… Why do we not care about other people’s wellbeing?  Why do we only think of ourselves?  Why is illusory personal gain so celebrated?

Yes there are laws and new ones can be created or perhaps existing laws might be actually enforced. There will always be bullies, there will always be the uneducated, there will always be ignorance –  we need laws and education to help with this.  But also we will always be ‘people’. We are faulty, but we can aim to be healthier people.

On our roads, all I ask is for a little consideration…

  • consideration of ourselves.
  • consideration of what we are doing
  • consideration for others (might naturally follow).

All I ask is for a little consideration, but perhaps I ask for too much.

*healthier: much has been written on the benefits of increased cycle use, on personal, community & economic levels – google it – cycling is good….

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I was asked by the BBC “Did I think cycle infrastructure was a good idea?”

March 2017 – again the BBC called me asking about my experiences of ‘riding a bike’ in and around Leicester … Read more here from March 2017: People on bikes again


August 2016 Again, BBC Radio Leicester called me “Do you think Leicester’s a model cycle city… yet?” #CycleCity Leicester


May 2016 Again, BBC Radio Leicester called me “What do you think about proposals for more cycle lanes…” #CycleCity Leicester?


October 2015 BBC Radio Leicester called me “What do you think about proposals for more cycle lanes…” and stuff…


Jan 2014 I was asked by the BBC “What do you think about cycling on pavements…” and stuff…


Nov 2013 I was asked by the BBC “Did I think cycle infrastructure was a good idea?”

Riding a bike:

  • You will save money.
  • You will get fitter and be healthier.
  • Over time you will start to see the world differently.

Where it’s available, I always use segregated cycle ways – vehicles and bikes don’t mix.
It took a year of cycle commuting to realise this.

With political will it is possible to separate people on bikes and people driving motor vehicles fully where speeds and volumes of traffic are not safe to share.  “Safe to share” requires less than 20mph (measured not the limit) and less than 2,000 PCU (passenger car units) per day. See

Where sharing is needed, people on bikes need protection;

  • better law enforcement (strict liability, stronger penalties for dangerous and careless driving, more enforcement).
  • better in infrastructure (slowing speeds, making junctions safer).  Cyclists need far better design, implementation and maintenance of segregated facilities, especially at junctions.
  • better vehicle design

 Thanks for the input from 42bikes for some of this.


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A 2021 update on the below:
Driving ~7.5 miles @ 7.5mpl, £1.45p/litre, costs £1.45 each way, that’s £ 14.50/week.

A 2018 update on the below:
Driving ~8 miles @ 7.5mpl, £1.26p/litre, costs £1.35 each way, that’s £13.50/week.


2017 update to the below:
Now ~9.6miles, 7.5mpl, £1.18p/litre
= £1.51 each way = £15.10/week

A 2015 fuel costs update to the below:
7.7 miles, 7.7mpl, £1.08p/litre
= £1.08 each way = £10.80/week


I’ve said it before and OK, it’s not about ‘time’, or ‘cost’, but just for the record:

7.5 mile commute into Leicester

On Monday (sometime in 2013) my bike was in for an annual service – and when you commute by bike, everyday, through all seasons, take my word for it, it’ll need a good service!

So Monday I took the bus: Novel
It took a bus 55mins! (+10min walk), Tickets £2.60 x 2, week ticket £25
(return is £6 duh!), £100/mth

On Tuesday I thought I’d try the car: humm, sedentary…
Car journey took 29mins, fuel £1.32 x 2, £13.20/week,
£52.80*/mth +legal* £37/mth, total £90/mth
+ Car maintenance costs**

Back on the refurbed bike on Wednesday! Ah! You know you’re alive – energy!
Bike, 34mins, fuel banana 20p. £1/week, £4/month
+Bike maintenance costs**


So Car 29mins, £14/week +costs,
then Bike 34mins £1/week +costs.
then Bus 55mins £25/week +patience.

*7.5 miles, 35 mpg, £1.35/litre = £1.32 fuel (£52.80/4weeks)
Annual legal costs: tax £100, insurance £300, mot £50 = £450
**Car and Bike maintenance costs, no comparison at present but could be similar on average.

2015 UPDATE : 7.7 miles, 7.7 mpl, £1.08p/litre = £1.08 each way = £10.80/week

2017 update : Now ~9.6miles, 7.5mpl, £1.18p/l = £1.51 each way = £15.10/week

2018 update : ~8 miles @ 7.5mpl, £1.26p/litre, costs £1.35 each way = £13.50/week.

2021 update  ~7.5 miles @ 7.5mpl, £1.45p/litre, costs £1.45 each way = £ 14.50/week.

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Cycle way provision ? Leicester

There’s a variety of provision between East Goscote and Leicester City:

The good:

The bad:

and other stuff.

Compare the above with typical Dutch provision, thanks Dave Warnock:

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New handlebars

New Bars: XLC City + Trekking handlebars
New Bars: XLC City + Trekking handlebars

After two years of riding, slowly realising new perspectives, and challenging my own preconceptions and assumptions, I have made another change to the routine standard.

Two years ago my bike came with a stock straight Specialized handlebars, with a 8° degree back sweep.

They’ve been good, but I occasionally fancied a more relaxed position and over time I’ve considered changing the bars.

My riding style over the last two years, has changed from:

i. Trying to co-exist with traffic, riding a bike with a similar driverly attitude and outlook.


ii. Aiming to being more aware of place and adopting a more contented, mindful way…

There are a lot of alternative styles of handlebars on the market – I wanted something more comfortable that allows me to sit up more. Seeing the 45° sweep of the Jones H Loop Bar  on a friend’s bike, I admired the unique classic design, but shivered at the unique classic price tag.

I was looking for something with a similar sweep.

I came across a few makes that had a similar spec, but the basic simple set below at £12.50 (delivered) stood out like an option too cheap not to try!

The XLC City + Trekking handlebar is made of “6061 aluminium”, they state that they have an “cranking of 59°” and a width of 610 mm. Not sure what a cranking means? I guess it could translate to a sweep of 31°.

Whatever… they are great!

They enable a more upright sitting position.

The new position seems to enable a grip and pull on the bars that helps exert more pressure on the pedals, when you need that extra surge.

With new Ergon grips I am really chuffed with the new set up.


Just what I was after.

New Bars: XLC City + Trekking handlebars
New Bars: XLC City + Trekking handlebars

The old bars.
The old bars.


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Missed a birthday… 3250miles / 12mths.

It was two years ago, May 2011, that I purchased my Specialized Crosstrail Sport Disc 2011.


Here’s an update on the bike’s needs so far…

  • If you are commuting you really need to carry ‘stuff’, hence a multi-purpose the rack on the back for my two panniers.
  • You also need decent mudguards if you want to stay relatively dry and clean. Not an easy fit on this bike but my workaround has worked well to-date.
  • Even in the day, I use a Serfas ‘True 250′ USB front light. A nights charge last me a week. I consider it invaluable. Both to be seen coming in the daylight and to light your way in the dark.
  • And my rear light is a strong CatEye TL-LD1100. Rechargeable batteries last a good while.
  • Another essential, and I can’t recommend it enough, is a decent bell. I now have a Widek Chrome Ding dong Bell 80mm and In my opinion anyone cycling among pedestrians or city streets should have one fitted as standard.
  • Another good idea are reflective spoke thingies, they stand out when any light shines on them.
  • For a birthday, I was gifted a Brooks Flyer Special. A little extravagant but nice!
  • Of course there’s the daily banana for fuel!

Over these 2 years, the bike’s needed various replacement parts;

  • After 7 months it needed a new chain and cassette.
  • After 14 months I replaced Specialized Borough Xc Sport Tyre 700×45 with 700x32mm Schwalbe Durano Plus. These tyres have been fantastic over the last 10mths.
  • After 15 months the considerably worn SunTour/SRAM chain set (ring, chain and cassette) was replaced with a Shimano megarange CS HG41.
  • After 1 year 7 mths the stock back wheel rim cracked and freewheel was worn. The replacement tough new Mavic rim has been good to date.
  • After 1 year 11mths, the bike had a April 2013 full spring chemical clean, and full service.

It get’s quite a pelting from 15 miles around daily commute through all weathers, and very poor road surface. It picks up a lot of crud off the road, especially in winter. Despite this, last August’s chainset etc is still up for another 6 months+ hopefully.

Since the service, the bike is riding really well…

Here’s the stats

I started recording my rides on my old bike back in Feb. 2011.

  • I totalled 3051 miles recorded over first 12 months riding. (Feb ’11 – Feb ’12)
  • Over the last year, June ’12 through May ’13, I have ridden about 3250 miles.


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Inspired by “Free Wheeling” – Think again, and cycle again.

Never in a month of Sundays... !Inspired by “Free Wheeling” and the “thoughts of a welsh brummie

Another, celebration of cycling:

Like many, I started cycling up and down along the kerb as a youngster in the early ‘70s. A Mini Moulton, a Grifter, a Chopper and then a Raleigh Sun Solo if my memory is correct. In my early teens I documented daily rides in Cornwall, from Camborne via Redruth around Carn Brea and back, to gain the ‘physical’ element towards my Duke of Edinburgh Award.  I think this was my first taste of the freedom experienced when travelling on a bike.  I also spent a few teenaged summers with frequent cycle trips to various beaches – a privilege afforded with our family home viewing both the north and south coasts of proper (West) Cornwall. It was a typically average initial experience of cycling, but cycling has always been ‘on my list’ of things that I enjoy.

I can’t recall when I ‘left the bike’ in the garage. But as many do, it stayed there for quite a while. I didn’t take it to university in Cheshire. I bought a new bike with a insignificant lottery win in the early 1990s but alas it didn’t see much use. I did take it out a few dozen trips around Rutland Water and the like. Pre-rugrats, Em and I took our bikes (on the car) on a quick tour of the New Forest and Dorset and we made a few outings here and there but the bike were really a neglected accessory. We had the children and the bikes were lost in the garage under the increasing pile of outgrown children’s ‘stuff’.

I don’t recall what made me do it, but one Sunday morning in Early 2011, I said to Em “I’m going round the block on my bike!”. A quick but knackering ride around a few villages, but boy was it invigorating. No kit, no cycling paraphernalia, no agenda… just me wheels and a road (and a few sweaty inclines).  

To the prospect of ‘cycling to work once a week?’, I recall adamantly thinking ‘never in a month of Sundays!‘ – it was seriously not an option. 

However, after a month or so I found myself riding to work and back daily.

Two years later and a lot’s changed. I invested in a new bike early on, and we eventually decided to sell the family’s second car. I’ve been through the phase of supposed “must have cycle-wear” that is foisted at you from the pseudo-cycle-subculture – (ignore most of it – save some money and soul).  I have been through two winters of cycle commuting, and frankly the thought of it can be far worse than the reality!  I’ve slowly moved towards more of a cycle-based or more pedestrian frame of mind while cycling. Initially the prospect of the “cycle-route” seemed silly and again ‘not an option’. Due to my indoctrinated vehicle/road based mindset, it took a good while to see sense and use alternative routes and cycle provision where available and fit for use.  It’s an ongoing lesson and the prevailing attitude ‘out there’ can be survival of the fittest. Steer clear and let them fight it out I say. The current state of cyclist awareness and road/path design/provision is another discussion.

Cycling has it’s perceived negative moments, but to be honest if you are prepared, it’s all relative. What is “a soaking” from a heavy shower?  (actually quite rare) Just a rare soaking.  What’s riding in the dark with adequate lighting?  It’s fun, it’s invigorating, it’s enlightening!!  What’s having to be part of the push and pull of other road users?  Give it space and it’s edifying.  Yes some things are a challenge. I am no fanatic, but I rode to work daily this winter though the snow and ice and kept my combat shorts on this year – shorts (and thick socks) are easier! The perceptions is worse than the reality.  I am learning daily.

Coincidentally, a few years ago, I started looked at a my (mid-life) physical and mental habits and practices. At a desk from 9-5, I saw almost zero daily exercise. The nature of my work was “head down and get on with it”.  My work environment sees no visitors and its cut-off location means little opportunity to escape for the occasional brief distraction.  Probably many jobs are similarly suffocating.  These, and other genetic/chemical factors, led to a diagnosis of ‘clinical depression’ (another story). On the whole, I was probably a good example of covertly ‘unfit and unhealthy’.

BBTBBAfter much reading and sharing, adopting new routines and practices (including ongoing mild medication), two years later sees the start of a different outlook. Many other things have been part of the experience, such as; world-music singing with a large choir; the study of aspects ‘mindfulness’; the awareness of one’s diet of foodstuffs and also ‘consumption’ generally; new realisations about how one’s mind works.  But cycling has had a significant role to play in the generation of a new physical, mental, (and possibly spiritual?) mind.  Riding a bike induces endorphins and exercises the breathing and the mind. Riding a bike is only one of many things that helps me rise above and duck below the ongoing ‘stuff’ that the world breeds. The experience of cycling has many facets and I can recommend reconsideration to most people!

I do suggest you try to think of it as “riding a bike” and not necessarily “cycling” – the “cycling” subculture can be another dragon which can consume – steer clear of dragons. 🙂

The Times has been running features around “Cities Safe for Cycling”. I like many others encourage you to have a look!

I am not a follower of the sport of cycling, worthy though it is. Just as an average driver is probably not a follower of Rallying or Formula 1, exciting though they are. I am not a lycra lover. I don’t (anymore) try to beat my time! I don’t think you should have to “dress like a cyclist” to ride a bike – practical ‘normal’ clothes can be found to suit most purposes. It’s just riding a bike to get from a to b.

The simple act of riding a bike is good for so many reasons – personally, socially, mentally, physically, community, interaction, pace, progress, ambition… all can be fed by a new way (an old way) of experiencing things…

Think again, and cycle again.

Just get on and ride.