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last ‘bike’ post for a while…

screen-capture-3
I’m a tad tired of banging on about ‘riding my bike’ – and I expect u r too.
And so, last ‘bike’ post for a while (perhaps).

I use the phrase ‘riding my bike’ because the term ‘cycling’ has accumulated so much baggage over the last year.  I do not see myself as a cyclist any more than you consider yourself a driver. I simply ride my bike to work and back. And go for the occasional spin round the block.

As mentioned before, I have made the transition from a road-based cycle commute to a person-based cycle commute.  It’s an ongoing work-in-progress, it’s taken a year so far, to reform my mindset from a driver’s road-based travel to a more contented alternative.

Driving habits are too dangerous for most roads to accommodate pedal bikes.
The drivers’ mindset/habit is not healthy (indeed often unhealthy), whether driving, riding, walking or just waiting in a queue.
It’s hard to remove oneself from the ingrained mentality of gotta be, gotta have, gotta be in front, gotta move on, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really really, really wanna zigazig, I need to be somewhere else, I need other… It’s linked with the ‘idea’ of success, achievement and ambition. But is it wholesome, necessary or truly successful?

There is an alternative which requires two things:
(i) to realise a renewed perspective on the act of travelling and being.
(ii) implementation of travel facilities (new ways) that accommodate modes other than motor vehicles.

I ended a previous post: I’ll have to risk the possible prang at 10mph on an estate road rather than the potential ‘prang’ at 30mph on the best road. This is misjudged and perhaps should be: I now seek to travel in a more amiable way.

I also ended a previous post: A new route with many low speed hazards and manoeuvres. Old route occasional high-speed potential killers. This is misjudged also and perhaps should be:  While there are hazards to be aware of one now seeks to negotiate rather than manoeuvre.

I ended a previous post with 4 questions:
Should cyclists freely share space on the road?
Current answer: yes, but equality is currently rarely achievable.
Should cyclists be given road-quality cycling space elsewhere?
Current answer: I think it’s possibly a workable healthy alternative.
Should cyclists be happy with 3rd rate white-lined gutters?
Current answer: no, where possible they should be implemented, but note; road users frequently don’t observe ‘white lines’.
Should cyclists just shut up and get on or off their bike?
Current answer: perhaps cyclists might pipe down, but that’s a subjective anti-lycra opinion – More importantly people who are so inclined should where possible get on and off their bikes and discover new ways.

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Kill cyclist’s enthusiasm? First weekend round of year…

Out for the first round trip of the year. (last weekend was just a trolly ride to the leisure Centre)

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Such a different ride to the daily commute – out in the country, on roads (actual roads!), letting your body drive the bike and ride!

In comparison, “the daily commute” is a dodge-fest, a series of trolly rides between and around numerous obstacles, detritus, and  incompatible structures and traditions.

It’s been a while since I rode out on the ‘open’ roads. I used to ride them on the commute but considered them too dangerous and so in September switched to the ‘cycle-path’ jungle.

Riding today brought me to entertain the old road again.

The problem with the cycle-path v mechanical-pedestrian v automobile route is that it seems a series of compromises:

  • It seems to say as a cyclist you  should be on the road not the pavement but you are not a motor so you need your own painted-line cycle-path to be in.
  • Then they advise to “claim your road” you are a road user, and you should ride in the road like the other traffic.
  • Some ‘authorities’ even advise caution about cycle-paths: “If there’s a cycle lane on the left, Owen advises caution: make sure before using it that the lane is sufficiently separate from the traffic?” 
  • Most routes are a combination of shared pedestrian path, cycle path, road and other. If it’s an unfamiliar route it’s near impossible!
  • When you ride the pedestrian path you pass numerous people cycling on the road.
  • On the Shared path you get daily comments and gestures to “get on the road!”.
  • When on the road you get regular comments to “get out of the way”.
  • When on the road you have to decide, am I compatible with the traffic or should I cut my losses and not risk death.
  • Two or more driver’s vehicles in collision = insurance claim.
  • Cyclist and driver’s vehicle in collision = serious injury or death.

As I say sometimes it’s near impossible – other road users do not have to constantly decide where do/should i fit in here?

#keepcycling ?

Anyway the ride on the relatively open country roads of Leicestershire was again a joy.

#keepcycling !

 

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Consider the birds of the air?

Yes, I’m occasionally guilty of unhealthy attitude, impaired perspective and disappointing reaction, aren’t we all?

Consider the person in front and the one behind?

Reconsidering one’s perspective can be a slow process. Perception can be blurred and clarity can be lost for a while. Perhaps that’s why sometimes it might be hard, seem not possible, or even not an option.

Is deference compatible with difference?  Is love compatible with life?

I’m starting to consider if riding a bike is incompatible with modern road attitudes. It’s compatible with the written rule of the road but all too often that (common sense) is forgotten in the heat of the moment.

Having moved from road-cycling to commuting on the cycle-path/back-road route, I find you encounter more of people and more real-life. The previous route was a traffic route, even though it was part rural and mainly b-roads etc it was flowing traffic, and in retrospect the mindset was ‘driverly’ – arguably it had to be, to join with the flow. After a year, I came to realise that someone cycling might not survive with the current general dominant attitude of ‘drivers’ (on this route) and to be safer, I moved to the new route.

On the new route I now interact more; I ride a “5 lollypop-lady route”, I say ‘morning’ etc to 4 of them. I pass children who exchange smiles and ‘youff speak’. I meet dog-walkers with various salutations. I exchange gestures of acknowledgment with drivers at numerous junctions. Generally people are glad to be alive when given the opportunity. However, on the new route, I also see all sorts of all sorts, yes there’s still the problematic driverly attitude, but also there are still crazy cyclists, unobservant pedestrians, dizzy kids, and unconsidered attitudes.

It seems obvious to say that the challenge is not drivers, it’s not cyclists, it’s not pedestrians, it’s not young people, the affluent, arty, sporty or any other group, stereotype or sub-culture…  The challenge is perspective and attitude – both mine and yours.

It’s not one’s mode of transport, one’s choice of attire, one’s hairstyle, age or preferred drug – it’s one’s perspective, attitude and reaction.
It’s the not just my attitudes that need discipline (love?), it’s also the attitudes one encounters… it takes two to tango. Yes, some attitudes are just hard to believe. It often seems difference has usurped deference and survival of the fittest, brightest, shiniest, richest is often perceived king (or queen).

Yes, I’m occasionally guilty of unhealthy attitude, impaired perspective and disappointing reaction. Even with good intentions, in the heat of interaction, reactions can be inconsiderate. I guess the key is aiming to stay warm but minimise the heat?

Thoughts;
In the heat of interaction “I AM” - Images cause Assumption which causes Motivation (and reaction).
Alas, you will always find some attitudes and characters that are intolerable.
The interaction between things is what makes them fecund.
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Another way?

So we have found a possible alternative… not so pleasant but I guess it does the job… for now.

Two commute routes

Cycle commutes.

http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/qzq6ypfydSY

I guess the cars (& vans) win?!  I have been forced (for the sake of the children) to look for an alternative to the best route via road.

So a different route in to work, as an inebriated foolish crow might fly.
It’s half a mile (a few minutes) longer. The jury is still out, there are some obstacles to get the knack of and no school children at present – it’ll be a different matter when the oh so well mannered and respectful students are on the prowl.

I’ll miss the morning skys and sunsets etc as the view from up on Barkby Thorpe is often vitalising.
I guess I’ll also miss the inclines that get the blood pumping.

The new route has poor, fractured, token cycle lanes from syston to Round Hill School but then a good bit of new cycle way (sans kids) to Thurmaston Citycycles junction. We then weave through the golfing estate. Then it’s back on familiar ground over Troon Way and via Gleneagles onto Catherine St.. Cycling in the city is still ‘on road’ – I don’t find city drivers too bad on secondary roads (the primary artery roads can be different!).

After nearly 2 years of cycling, the reason I’ve left the ‘country route’ as the crow flies through Barkby (+Thorpe) etc  is that “the automobile traffic rules!”. It’s not worth the risk!
In my humble experience/opinion, probably:
80% of the traffic – most traffic observes cyclists, reduces speed and gives room when passing.
15 % of the traffic – it’s hard to tell wether they see you. They do not reduce speed, but luckily they do not hit you. The manoeuvres vary from revving engines and inappropriate gears, giving space too late when overtaking (they give plenty of space to the invisible cyclist in front of me), and the all too often “let me past ‘cos I need to copulate with the car in front!” speeding past you up the tail of the car in front just to brake late! I’m not going to mention mobile phones, make-up mirrors and nose picking.
It’s the 5% that are the worry – these fall into two camps:
1. “The Aggressive”: Not slowing, indeed, often accelerating faster (than the limit?) to pass you. Not giving any extra room ‘cos I guess they don’t care? (God knows if they see the cyclist). The impatient contemptuous ignorant dickwit attitude that cyclists are a pain in the front bumper and must not be tollerated and must be passed, blocked or bullied.
2. The “Ooops Sorry I Didn’t See You”: this is possibly the more worrying, “sorry. I misjudged it”, or “I didn’t see you”, is not going to help scrape you off the floor or put your head back on your torso. It’s people that are just not aware (anymore) of their responsibility when driving a vehicle – I guess they are “new drivers”, “infrequent drivers”, “careless drivers”, “distracted drivers”, “over confident drivers?”, “ill prepared drivers”… I don’t know, but there are too many of them on the roads.

If you don’t agree that these types of driver/people exist, try and share the roads with them from the position of a cyclist.
When you cycle, all your senses are engaged in the activity; you are “cycling”, not thinking about the radio, the windows, the make-up, the phone, the back seat, the glove box…  “you are cycling”, and you are intently engaged with where you are – you can’t miss the careless perilous incidents and obstacles when they’re encountered.

So the Queniborough-Barkby-Leicester road is too dangerous – it will only take one incident to put me in hospital.
Jury’s still out but for now, I’ll have to risk the possible prang at 10mph on an estate road rather than the potential ‘prang’ at 30mph on the best road.
New route many many low speed hazards and manoeuvres. Old route occasional high-speed potential killers.

Should cyclists freely share space on the road?
Should cyclists be given road quality cycling space else where?
Should cyclists be happy with 3rd rate white-lined gutters?
Should cyclists just shut up and get on or off their bikes?

Forgive me I know not what I do.

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Zzzzzombie like tendencies?

Triggered by an article I read recently in ‘Australia’s most widely-read bike magazine’ Ride On, about cycling with earphones… I just had to comment!
Ride On states that they find that “ear-bud earphones set at a reasonable volume still allow riders to clearly hear the warning sounds of other riders.”
I just had to comment. What a ridiculous article! As one comment put: “Safety when riding is paramount and the only person who loses in bike/car accidents is the cyclist. Music covers up sound and distracts…” I agree.
Sorry but I am a cyclist and did previously use earphones daily… since Feb this year I have not and will not wear them while cycling.
Ride On’s claim that when using earphones you can still hear other sounds is a probable fact, but in doing this they are foolishly promoting the activity of earphone use while cycling.


I purport that the act of journeying is or should be an interactive activity. The addition of audio-entertainment to such activity is dangerous or at least restrictive. Whether in a car, on a bike or by foot the use of earphones inhibits the potential for interaction with the world. Yes, indeed, this could lead to potential incident with other road users but more importantly it leads to an insular, individualistic culture and the AA’s zombie like tendencies. It leads to an “us and them” attitude and not “humanity”…
The AA has has urged cyclists and pedestrians – and drivers – to pay attention to the road  [the journey] rather than be distracted by music. Edmund King, president of the AA, also commented on the Injury Prevention study, saying:
“We can’t stop the march of technology but we need to halt the iPod pedestrian, cycle and driver zombies.  Whether on two feet, two wheels or four, too many people are suffering from iPod oblivion.
“When on the move our brains have much to take in and using technological gadgets means that our brains can’t always concentrate on so many things at once This is when we walk into traffic; don’t hear the truck or drive cocooned from the outside world.
“The US research suggests that this problem may be growing so we all need to use common sense to ensure that technological cocooning doesn’t endanger our lives or the lives of others.

I have commented before about our attitude as road-users and indeed a general social attitude. Unless I’m mistaken, an ignorance is a key trait here. Ignorance is bliss?
Considering our use of cultural opiates (in the sense of anything that causes dullness or inaction or that soothes the feelings). We all imbibe stuff that will colour our perception, some more than others.  The radio, a podcast, music, TV, food, art, knowledge, and other stimulants/sedatives (as well as coffee and cheese) can all be stimulating and creative, however they can also act as a distracting eclipse and induce ignorance.


When journeying with or past others, i think it’s best to aim for an open mind and a considerate perception.
We all too readily ignore that which is beyond our perception or conception. We all enjoy a moment of bliss? But not while we are journeying with and past others!
Music can be a distracting eclipse and induce ignorance. The ignorant might excuse themselves with the notion of innocence?
Ignorant? innocent? bliss? contentment? enchantment? joy? beatitude? well-being…
Heaven help us all!?

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best cycle tyre for daily commuting use?

OK cycling fans… Nominations for the best tyre for daily commuting use?
I’m used to and very pleased with the stock Specialized Borough Xc Sport Tyre 700×45 that came with the bike. And to be honest they’ve been good but will need changing soon.
The tyres are for a hybrid styled specialised crosstrail sport disc 2011

So types for daily commuting use: ?
SUBURBAN ROADS; as commuters are aware too often suburban roads are fraught with off-road style obstacles, grit, debris, thorns and potholes.GOOD GRIP:

for the wet, oil and grit.
DURABLE: as used twice daily.
SPEED: good reasonable speed, not too much drag.
PUNCTURE RESISTANCE: The SBXc above only had one puncture in 14mths. But, do I have the tube to thank for that? The tyres are peppered with cuts after a year of suburban roads.

I’m told a wider tyre (a larger contact area) offers more comfort, are less prone to punctures(?), and will provide more grip. I do like the ‘idea’ of the semi slick(?) smooth in the centre with knobbed on the sides.

Nominations for the best tyre for daily commuting use?
What have you got?
What do you recommend?

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whipping to submission…

A friend commented recently “Everywhere we look nowadays, someone has intruded some advertising message – as often as not, full of carefully crafted deceit and manipulation”“Specifically those little ads that get placed on roundabouts, a constant nagging ‘Look at me! Remember my name! Write down my phone number’, when you’re supposed to be watching the traffic or, if you’re in the passenger seat, you’re admiring the flowers and shrubs…”.  I was minded to add “‎…or you’re on your bike, arguably ‘more-aware’ of your place in things and watching out for distracted drivers with encapsulated passengers… (trying not to be sucked in to the lycra-gofaster-nutritionbar cycling sub-culture… )”

the road

As I cycled in this morning… drivers were pressing to “get past” and to “get there faster”… the majority of traffic follows the flow but a significant percentage just can’t get there fast enough. I encounter people either gripping the wheel and whipping the car to submission, or casually driving with abandon and carelessness ignorant of others’ position and need.
Drivers are not the only culprits, cyclists too sometimes just can’t wait, jumping lights or slaloming around pavements. Also pedestrians; dodge cars while crossing busy roads (with kids in tow) only yards from a crossing.  Like the proverbial lemmings it seems only too easy to be sucked together towards the void…
“Not I” I hear you say? We’ll it took me a long while to wake up to a different reality. And it takes a regular refreshing to remind one of perspectives and attitudes that can so easily be warped by the constant nagging “look at me” etc.

A wise person once said “life’s not about finding yourself, but about creating yourself”.
I’d mould that to remind us that life’s not about getting somewhere, but can be about being.
Looking for something results in finding stuff.
Creating being, might result in being found?

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Toyah the Toyota is gone…

Toyah  the Toyota has served us very well since 2000 – 12 years of reliable motoring.

But I have just sold her to a new owner. We are a one car (one bike) family.

I bought my first car in the late 1980’s- A 1963 Volkswagen Beetle called Beatrix. (You never forget your first!)

Beatrix the VW Beetle
Beatrix the VW Beetle

I bought a second VDub Beetle called Lemon a few years later. (yes she was Yellow)
A few years later, I thought I was a bit more grown up with a Ford Orion (no name).
And then a Mazda 626 – great car! If a but ropey!
I think I had a few carless  (and careless!) student years.
I then bought a Ford Escort, called Freddy.
And then in 2000 I bought  Toyah the Toyota…

Toyah in the NewForest
Toyah in the NewForest

And then last February (2011) I started riding my bike to work and Toyah was a once a week affair, usually Emma taking her to work.

We’ve put it off for 6 months, but over the winter she was used less than once a week and we have finally said goodbye.

For the next year I will hopefully save:
Insurance £210, Tax £125, and MOT £40: that’s £375 over the year.
By cycling to work I will not buy £50+ worth of petrol a month: that’s >£600 over the year.
Of course there’s servicing  and wear and tear which with a car can be considerable – but the ancillary costs for a bike are less.

But let’s just say I hope to save £900 over the coming 12 months.

And then there’s the exercise and perhaps immeasurable health benefits: a good aerobic activity twice a day.
The daily endorphin hits are invaluable. Read more here 

Happy daze?

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Listen.. can u hear breathing?.. r u alive?

It’s been a while since I uttered some nonsense – that could be good be a good sign… then again…

You won’t fly until you truly let go… you’ll not feel the song until you really hear it… you can’t stretch until you truly wake up…

Easier said than done!?
As Keats inferred, unheard melodies are [probably] sweeter…

A while back I commented: “Listen….. can u hear breathing?… ”
A (heard?) tweet recently mentioned: “Breath is the thread that ties creation together” Morihei Ueshiba

Over the period of lent (I’m not getting in to what that should or does mean), I have gone-without, indeed forsaken, the habitual podcasts etc on my commute to and from work. I enjoy taking in ‘cultcha’ as much as most, be it ‘new music’ or ‘old chestnuts’, intellectual debate or documentary etc.
I’ve occasionally felt the pangs to be ear-plugged (or car stereo) into info- and enter-tainment and inbibe some stimulating amusements (as Neil Postman highlighted) or I guess some digital numbing narcotic. But for the last few weeks I’ve gone without.

‘Entertain’ can mean to hold the attention of, to divert, consider, cherish, maintain…
A favourite bible verse of mine has always been “Where your treasure is there is your heart also” Matthew 6:21 – amongst other things, to me, this means; what you cherish is what essentially makes you, you are what you think and feel, and even; all things fade and therefore so will you…

The Sahara Desert Drive
Em & I being driven through the Sahara - he laughed when we asked for seat belts, then drove like a maniac!

Without the distracting opiate of one’s earphones, one of the encounters on my commute now is birdsong. From light field-song of small twittering birds to heavy crowing in the wooded areas. Even in the town, birds are prolific if one can just notice them. The rowan trees at the end of my commute are always a stage for nature of some sort.
When you cycle, you cannot fail to notice the ‘nature’ of traffic, people and yourself. We rush to get there, we must catch the one in front, we are already at our destination not noticing where we actually are, we disregard rules of the road and society. It’s hard to remain objective but it seems the nature of people in traffic amplifies attitudes that are inherent in all of us. It also amplifies perspectives and priorities….

It may be a stage of life, but recently I’ve found myself entertaining the natural world and creation more than previously. The Sun is such a powerful phenomena, we take it for granted but just think how it really effects your life. Drugs like Coffee, Chocolate, Cheese… that’s another thing. As you know, our household has pets; gerbils, a budgie and fish. I hanker for The Beeb’s Spring/Autumn/Winter Watch. Some of Country File and iplayer’s factual science and nature offerings are tonics to the daily routine. Loving Tim Spall’s “…at Sea” at the mo. Seeing wild birds fly, rabbits, grouse, frogs, cats prowling… weather… it’s life.

Listen….. can u hear breathing…?

Again Mr. Keats put it beautifully:
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty: that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

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Ignorance is bliss

In the handmade gaps within everyday-life, I’ve recently been in Africa, both ancient and modern.  I’ve been escaping into another world created by Wilbur Smith.  I’ve read most of his books, OK they may be a tad shallow but hey they’re entertaining and exciting.  (I s’pose his reads are rather like a dream, detailed and gripping, but without sub-conscious / substance…  I had a corker last night, but that’s another story).  I am still away with the pharies but hope to finish this current dalliance soon.

While commuting recently, passions were again stirred (*trying to not get agitated again*) by other road-users’ *@%”$* ignorance.  As you’re probably aware it was recently very foggy –  the number of vehicles without lights on at 8am on fog-bound country roads was ridiculous!  Combine that with people driving while speaking on handheld phones, again on fog-bound country bends – ignorant!  I’m not going to get into the 5% of vehicles that don’t allow due-room for cyclists while passing them – inconsiderate and dangerous.  Unless I’m mistaken, ignorance is a key trait here.
I have recently been pricked by the proverb “ignorance is bliss” and (again) the idea of “opiates” (in the sense of anything that causes dullness or inaction or that soothes the feelings).
Indeed, we all too readily ignore that which is beyond our perception or conception. We all enjoy a moment of bliss?
I believe the phrase “ignorance is bliss” originates from eighteenth-century poet Thomas Gray’s “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College”  where he plays with ideas of innocence and adulthood…   “Where ignorance is bliss, / ‘Tis folly to be wise.’”
Other learned quotations:
“The happiest life consists in ignorance, Before you learn to grieve and to rejoice.”
“From ignorance our comfort flows, The only wretched are the wise.”
“Since knowledge is but sorrow’s spy, ‘Twere better not to know.”

I find that music, food, art, knowledge and other opiates  (as well as coffee and cheese) can all be stimulating and creative, however they can also act as a distracting eclipse and induce ignorance.

The ignorant might excuse themselves with the notion of innocence?

Ignorant? innocent? bliss? contentment? enchantment? joy? beatitude? well-being…

Heaven help us all!?