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The Bike needed Tender Loving £s

guard You may have noticed my tweet last week that “the bike” needed some TLC (and some TL£).

Alas the wheels (rims and hubs) that came with the  specialized crosstrail sport disc 2011 were ‘average’ quality and arguably not up to the job.

It’s been 2 years since I bought the bike. It’s done its best to combat the conditions experienced but the rear wheel – the one that takes the most pounding – gave up last week. The front forks are sprung so that takes a bit of impact out for the front wheel.

The rear wheel’s rim was cracked in 3 places where the spokes enter it and the freehub’s splines were considerably worn – an ex-wheel!
This week’s tally: an ex wheel, the car’s rear ex-tyre and an ex-washingmachine! Arggh!  All this week!

In Oct 2011 my initial foray to the suggested “cycle-route” was shocking!
In August 2012, I moved off the death ride route (normal roads) to the shared “cycle facilities”.
The bike now has to deal with a lot more grit, debris, crap, tree roots, curbs, potholes, etc. I’m learning to accept it. I now concede the new route is arguably the wiser option.
The winter obviously sees a lot more debris and wet crud. So although I survived last winter I’ve now opted for the full guard on the rear, I just had a splash guard before. This might protect the mech and chain set a tad. More dedication to cleaning is needed too! Hufff!

I am no bike expert, so I rely on people’s advice and the LBS – City Cycles Thurmo
After two years it’s now got:
A new back wheel: Mavic A119 rim and Shimano FH-M525A hub.
In the summer we had to replace the considerably worn SunTour/SRAM chain set (ring, chain and cassette); with a Shimano megarange CS HG41.

So yes, annually the £ has to be spilt somewhere, but just remember there’s no Tax, MOT and insurance and the previous ~£54 a month fuel costs are now zero.

I bought off the shelf, but on retrospect- if you’re buying a new bike, spend more than you can afford (invest) for a bike that will be used daily – in the long term, the bike is the sum of it’s parts!

#keepcycling

As mentioned, I concede that the cycle facility route is the wiser option – I guess I’ll report again on that in due course.

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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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cyclists are foolish? raw rant…

Commuter cyclists are foolish?

Jules Richards  ******, when a car passes toooo close & tooo fast on a narrow country road and the potential circumstances flash through your mind, you stop at the lights and ask could you give me more room next time… a verbal slanging match ensues, culminating being told to sod off! You feel worse than ever and the week’s started well. ****ed off, feel like the crap in the road I have to ride through. Why do I ****ing bother?

[friend] I know how you feel, Jules!

Jules Richards  I feel awful! onward… I really don’t know why I am so stupid, just do what everyone else does… eh? “common”? sense. Or do what you feel like and ride against the wind – Sometime’s it’s invigorating but when challenged by other “travellers” often one feels on limb and a bit foolish. When you’re on a limb anyway it doesn’t take much for the limb to break. Cycling can be freedom, but also can be tense, dangerous and a stupid thing to do, given the circumstances. I’m not surprised people want to stay in their “auto”mobiles.

Arghijklmnopqrstuvw…x…y…. z.

[friend] I don’t cycle as much as you do, but sometimes circumstances lead me to realise the risks I’m taking and I wonder, if the worst happened, would I think it was worth it if I looked back? Think these things even more with two teenage boys cycling on the roads. The Big Picture: we can’t let fear drive cyclists off the road – there are so many reasons to cycle. But the Little Picture – with you and loved ones in the frame – sometimes doesn’t look as clear. Sorry this has happened to you today

Jules Richards on verge of giving in and buying a car.

[friend] A couple of weeks ago after being overtaken just before a blind corner I also asked a driver to be more careful. During the abuse he said that next time he would kill me. 

I do not understand why anyone would even think that let alone say it.

But I can’t afford to buy a 2nd car for health, wealth and environmental reasons. 

I am going to revisit cameras though and then report them all

[friend]  I haven’t really had any altercations with drivers, tho I did once shout at a bloke driving a Chelsea tractor and talking on his mobile. When he drew up later, he lent over and spat at me through his passenger window.

It is bizarre the amount of contempt/hatred British men feel for cyclists. In France, in my experience, you get only consideration from drivers and encouragement from pedestrians – because most of them cycle as well. In Britain, there still seems to be a deep-rooted attitude that the manly thing is to drive (ie sit in a comfy chair and let an engine do all the work) and only little boys and twats ride a bike.

Jules Richards seriously thinking of a camera, have been for a while. Not at ease about having to go that route though.

 

 

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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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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!?

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I was lost, but now am found

“I was lost, but now am found” said my banana.
(pronounced in the Cornish manner ba-na-na, with the ‘a’ as in jam)

The mystery of the lost banana was solved this morning, as mid-commute I spotted it lost and forlorn on the wayside. It must have dropped out of my pannier yesterday!  I got to work convinced that I packed it and was baffled by its desertion.

I muse that:

We guide our baggage through both well and less travelled pathways…

We believe that we packed the baggage, we control the tiller… and know the map…

We are ‘guided’ by soft hegemony and cultural info-tainment…

But still our banana’s can fall from our backpacks and confound, amaze and hopefully cause us to reassess our predicament?

However, I am still blind I see.

PS. Today’s banana was energizing.

15-facts-you-probably-didn’t-know-about-bananas

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2488 Cycling miles this year.

So, just for the record, since April, i've been cycling to work.
Via my Cardio Trainer we recorded:
Sunday 27 Feb. through to Monday 4 July = 851.71miles
I then changed to the Endomondo tracker and clocked:
Tuesday 5 July through  Thurs 22 Dec = 1636.93 miles
So that's 2488 miles recorded this year.
A wheely HAPPY NEW YEAR all!

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An alternative route…

Oh deary me… I’ve calmed down a tad now!
I cycled an alternative route into Leicester today.
For the last 6 months I have cycled the 7 miles routeinto St. George’s Retail Park from Goscote:
But I recently wondered if a less-traffic-ed less risky route via “cycle ways” and “the like, might bean alternative option in the dark or inclement weather.
And so ventured forth:
Oh Dear Me! I bit my lip and restrained myself with myinitial post-ride tweet!
“I’ll write more when I’ve calmed down! Alternativeroute into Leicester using less trafficed cycle infrastructure(?)AB-SOOOOO-LUTE JOKE!”
OK I am ignorant of the facts, and am not in a position to criticise, I should fall in line a let the affluenca drive by, but sorry, it was an absolute joke.
Perhaps because the road route I’ve been used to over thelast 6 months has been a relatively enjoyable casual ride all the way in seecomments here:
But I don’t know what to say about today’s experience.(forgive me, I am not familiar with the technical terms of the attempted cycleinfrastructure)
(a) the quality shared cycle way from Goscote to Systonis unusable between 8-9 as its FULL of school children. Try and use it at yourperil!
(b) the route through Syston, as oppose to the countyroute around it, is ridden with potential obstacles and hazards – It requiresfull attention at all times.
(c) traffic is heavier and faster and arguable lesstolerant of cyclists on this route!
(d) the cycle path area on the road (and the paths lateron) is frequently dirty and dusty with potential puncture hazards, I usuallycycle further out in the road to avoid such.
(e) the suburban junctions are busier and being used moreaggressively than those on the rural route.
(f) having to negotiate cycle ways that go onto pavementsand off pavements and then utilise pedestrian crossings etc is a confusing painin the backside.
(g) the suburbs are not attractive.
(h) the shared cycle way from Thrum to Leicester ispotholed, dirty and in a state of bad repair. Where this crosses junctions etc.protocol is anyone’s guess, confusing and hazardous.
(i) lack of a clear route across Troon Way at the oldThorn Lighting crossroads is laughable and dangerous!
(j) route continues in poor condition
(k) route through park for 2 minutes is nice (and relax)but not sure I should be cycling on the footpath.
(l) off the main Melton Road, cycling through terraced suburbs is OK butconstant vigilance is needed and roads are not in good condition and regularjunctions, parking and hump hazards need careful passage. Not to mentionill-informed parents teaching their kids ‘street survival’ by not usingcrossings and walkways but just jaywalking every-which-way! Don’t get mestarted on that!
(m) the rat-run through the terraces is not idea due tothe parking etc which needs constant vigilance if you’re not to be taken out bya pedestrian or a car-door etc.
The consequence of the above saw me get to work in astate of agitated high-tension, to say the least. If my reaction is subjectivethen the objective facts above are enough to rule it out as a practicalalternative. I usually take 30mins on average to cover the 7miles. This tripalso of 7miles took 40mins. That’s a 30+% longer!?
If city planners (or how ever it is that implements such) expect more people to cycle and use such facilities they areseriously short-sighted or indeed having a laugh!
Back to the country-route tomorrow.