Thursday, 25 December 2008

Ladywell Fields


I went cycling before breakfast and the opening of presents. I ended up at Ladywell Fields which is behind Lewisham Hospital. Very cold. Kept warm with my faux sheep skin boots.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Cycling at Christmas

I made a last minute trip to Woolwich. I still cannot get over how much easier the hills are since I have the CORRECT TYRE PRESSURE. I am all done for Christmas and I off this evening to spend the holidays with family. I will take the Brompton in the car. I used to go for a run on Christmas morning (not every year) and it is good to go for a walk before dinner. This year I will be on the Brompton!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Last day job no 2


Yes. I can finally stop working and just do Christmas. I am struggling with papers from my second job. I had to go to court and then I went to Selfridges to get stuff olives (very busy in the Food Hall) and magazines for when I want to collapse on the sofa. The Brompton has been really handy over the last couple days. Once a week there is some kind of delay on the trains due to an incident or signal failure and the train get re-routed onto another line. On Monday I got as far as Blackheath but I just go out and cycled home. Took 30 minutes.

Riding is much easier now I have pumped the tires. Must do this regularly.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Pump it up


I decided to pump up my tires as I had to carry something heavy on the Brompton today. (Christmas present.) I went to the Brompton site to check what the tyre pressure should be and I discovered that I have been cycling on almost half the pressure I needed. Cycling on the wrong pressure makes cycling a lot harder and damages the tyres. Previously I have just been checking the pressure by poking the tyre. If I can dent it then pump it up. Wrong. Tyres need to be very very hard.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Drinking & riding


I went out for the Christmas dinner (work) in Soho last night. I knew I wasn’t going to drive because I was going to drink some wine. I am not a big drinker or even a regular drinker so I immediately feel the effects of a little wine. I opted to leave the Brompton behind although I could have taken it as I only had one glass. The good thing about having a bike is that you can just walk it home if you can cycle and best thing about a Brompton is that you can get a taxi, bus or train.

I don’t think it’s illegal to cycle while under the influence of alcohol, just risky.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Last day at work


Today is my last day travelling up to Seven Sisters to work before the Christmas break. I got some mince pies at London Bridge Station to share to at work. There was a huge queue at the M&S and no where to lock the Bike so I just wheeled it around. Love my bike and love my Timbuktu 2 bag that can and does carry everything I need.

Friday, 12 December 2008

I need the boots


It has been unusually cold before Christmas this year. There has been frost on the ground when I have left in the morning. I’ve been very grateful for my fur coat and long boots that I brought a while ago from New Look which are sturdy but still stylish. Because of my big coat I can’t get any of my reflector bands around me except my ankles.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Four wheels bad two wheels good


I have spent the last two days in my car doing the old journey to work. Mistake. On Tuesday I travelled into work via the Blackwall Tunnel up to Hackney and Stamford Hill and then Steven Sisters. I made this trip at lunch time. This is the best time to make this trip, very little traffic unless there is an accident. I had to use the car because I was running late due to an earlier meeting in Penge. Of course the trip home was different. I spent 90 minutes getting home which is the usual time it would take after 5pm.

Again this morning the trip in wasn’t so bad. In fact I left at 8am about 45 minutes later than I would if I was going by bike.

But this evening. Aarrh. It took over 2 hours to get home. An hour just to get through Stamford Hill and then another hour crawling along the A12 to get to the Blackwall Tunnel. I had to use the car again today because I had to do a couple collections including picking up my big fur coat which had been repaired. This trip only served to remind me that I hate making the journey to work by car and even though my trip by bike and public transport also takes 90 minutes or longer if I stop off to go somewhere I am physically moving and getting some exercise. The train or tube may be packed but I can still read, or draw. People drive aggressively because they just want to get to their destination and it is easy to fall into this mindset too.

I am back on the Brompton tomorrow.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Fake fur


It is cold this week and I given that I had to make a couple trips back to Shepherds Bush I got out the faux sheepskin books brought from M&S last year. I got a pair in black but I have worn them out and now they are only good to potter around the garden in. I didn’t wear these ones at all and I was about the give them to charity but decided to hold on. Yes I am glad I did. They work well with straight leg (not skinny) jeans. I wear them over the boots with a folded cuff.

I have also wearing my mother’s very old circa1950s fake fur coat. My sister had it but wasn’t wearing it. She also has another fake fur coat which is much better and she doesn’t wear that either. So I am cycling slowing in fake fur, a wooly hat and Timbuk2 bag slung over my shoulder. Actually I am not that slow.

I am warm and toasty.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Brompton spotted in Waterstones


I saw this Brompton parked by the shelves on the 5th floor of Waterstones bookshop in Piccadilly. It looks like a super light weight version. I was carrying too much stuff to bring mine in so I left it locked to the railings outside.

What I love about the Brompton is the you have a choice. Do I bring it into the shop or can I leave it outside?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Cycling in Shepherds Bush


I have a work visit at Shepherds Bush today. I stopped off at the new Westfield Shopping Centre on the way home. I was pleased to see parking for bikes just outside. Got a couple, open mouth stares and ‘That’s handy’, while people were looking at the Brompton.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Regent Street Christmas lights


I had to go the Apple Store on Regents Street this evening and I saw the Christmas lights for the first time. They are a series of floating in a row down the street.

You see so much more on the seat of bike.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Long journey but it's ok


I had a long journey home tonight. I left Tottenham at 8pm only to arrive at Charing Cross Station at 8.40pm just as an incident had occurred at Waterloo East and the whole network had come to a stop So I unfolded the Brompton and cycled around the corner to Westminster tube station. Jumped onto the Jubilee tube and went home via North Greenwich. When I got out the Dome, now known as The O2 Dome was awash with lights. It then took me 35 minutes on the bike to get home.

In March I would have done the same journey but I would have taken twice as long, been afraid of cycling at night and given myself sore legs and knees.

The Dome looking like a space ship.

Monday, 10 November 2008

May you live in interesting times


There is a proverb that says ‘May you live in interesting times’. On the one hand this appears to be a blessing and yet when you actually consider the reality of this it could be also be a curse.

This week has been very interesting in that wow this is wonderful and aarh my brain is exploding. I was very busy cycling around getting to work, working on reports, going to court. Then the World changed with the stupendous election results in the USA. The one day I didn’t use the Brompton but was happily texting and talking on my mobile on the train about the election. I was last on the bike on Friday. Tottenham is in the middle of road works replacing the water drains, that were the curse of Greenwich last year. I have been wearing boots and suede shoes this week, despite the weather. Harder to carry the bike up and down stairs in heels but doable. This weekend I have rested. Back in the car only because of the wet weather (I’m looking for that killer rain cape.) I also back drawing and making art as I’m determined to enter a piece for an open exhibition this coming weekend.

Taking the Brompton on the Northern Line to Barnet County Court

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Autumn on the Common


The clocks go back today which means when I leave at 7.15am in the morning I won’t have to get out the bike lights.

Friday, 24 October 2008

This thingy bit that keeps the chain tight


Just outside Seven Sisters tube station my chain had come off. I could still cycle but I could hear and feel it wasn’t right. Usually if I back peddle this will guide the chain back into the right position. However this didn’t work and when I flipped the bike into fold position the chain came off. By this time I was inside the tube station and had plenty of light to have a look. Having never having removed the back wheel before I had no idea how the chain should be. I turned it upside down, put the chain over the large sprocket but it was still loose. I was about to give up when one of the male tube staff came up and said the bloody obvious, “You’ve got a loose chain and pointed at the bike.” I was too angry to say ‘sod off’. Then I noticed the thingy bit, which is an arm/lever. Ah Ha! The chain goes around the thingy bit. 30 seconds later the chain was back on. I had to work out which way the chain went around the thingy bit.

Lesson 1. Use anger to keep going rather than taking it out on someone. Lesson 2. Go to bike maintenance class.

The red cape


I got this cape some months ago from Velorution. Sadly is looks better on the hanger than on me. 1. It has a hood that is just too large and this means it slips across my vision. Not safe. 2. It is too short at the back. 3. The extra long front to allow you to drape the cape over the handle bars is also not very safe to use. If you put your hands through the loop under the cape to hold it in place your arms are restricted from signalling. 4. The material is too stiff and restrictive for comfort.

In it’s favour. It kept me dry and it’s Red.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Slow cycle to market.


I was ill with tummy cramps for most of the day so I was wrapped up in front of the television watching old James Garner films. I had to do the weekly shop by bike instead of using the car. The pain finally passed at 4pm and I pumped up the tires, got out the large pannier I rarely use now and packed my lights. I got to the supermarket in 30 minutes and I was done in 1 hour. Felt better for the fresh air and slow peddling.

Love the fact that my Brompton is free standing when I need to stop and get something out of my bag on a train and I don't want or need to completely fold it.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Reflectors


It would seem that once again I will have to replace a reflector on the folding Brompton pedal. The case surrounding the reflector always cracks or breaks off. I am considering contacting Brompton to find out why this happens and ask whether there are any heavy duty reflectors they make. This is third time I have to replace this and I got the bike in February. I am too embarrassed to go back to Cromptons because the second time they said that this happens all the time. Do I have to buy a stock of them and just replace every few months?

Thursday, 16 October 2008

One more reason to cycle more


Got a parking fine because I overstayed by 8 minutes at meter. A meter that was on an empty residential street. I got annoyed but what is the point. I’ve got a bike and I just need to learn to use it for long distance journeys.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Brompton with mud

I had to leave the Brompton behind today, and I missed it. But I said hello to two fellow Brompton owners on my travels through the West End. One was a very tall woman at London Bridge wearing a long skirt. (I wanted to know how she managed to keep the oil and dirt off.) The other I met when I arrived at court and we had quick chat while we went through security. She said that her Brompton was a bit muddy at the as she had been cycling off road at the weekend. Of course I wanted to know how sturdy the Brompton was and she said that she had done a tour across the Pennines (without her Brompton) but someone else had taken theirs and didn’t get any puncture.

On my way back I saw two more Bromptons whizzing by. Is it me or are there more Bromptons out on the streets?

Other folding bikes


Occasionally I see other folding bikes. You can tell a Brompton by the arch of the curve in the frame. There are other folding bikes who also now have a similar curve. I also notice that they too are beginning to come in other colours like red. I’ve no problem with other folding bikes, I think that more of us on the road and on taking our bikes on trains the better.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Golden


I always get tricked by weather in September into believing the warm weather is gone and it’s time to get out boots, gloves and coats. Yet in October we get a couple of really warm sunny days everything looks and feels golden.

Bikes on trains & tubes


Just read an interesting article on the BBC News website which was posted in May 2008 on how commuters are beginning to get angry about folding bikes on trains.

Hmm...

So far I haven’t had much difficulty with the Brompton. I always say excuse me or sorry if I bump into someone and generally I have found people are very helpful. I think this is because I am a woman and not wearing the Lycra uniform. I look just like everyone else but I am carry a bike which is smaller than most suitcases.

The tricky bit is getting off and on the train and the worse time is the mornings. It is hit and miss as to whether I can get to the luggage rack on the new style trains. Sometimes I make it but someone is already sitting in the top section. I then just ask if I can park the bike underneath which involves them moving their legs. Trouble with this is that I when I need to get off I have to get the bike out and then manoeuvre to the door without knocking into anyone. Lots of ‘sorrys’ and ‘excuse me’ are involved. I also opt for a carriage 2/3 down rather than the front. By the time I have partly unfolded the Brompton the crowd has passed on the platform I am at the back and out of the way.

I go home from Charing Cross and I just need to make sure that I am on the platform before the train comes in and this way I will get a seat and be able to park the bike out of the way. I could get on at London Bridge but this means that I will be standing for most of the journey home.

Going by tube involves other strategies. The only time I am guaranteed a seat is between Kings Cross and Seven Sisters where the train is either empty has very few people. The Brompton is small enough to tuck beside my feet and I opt for a seat by the doors. When I travelled completely by tube starting from North Greenwich this was a nightmare. It involved a struggle to get on the train, a struggle to get space and a struggle to get off at Green Park to change for the Victoria Line. Lots of stairs. I did this trip back in the early days when I just got the bike and I was tired, sore and thought I would have a heart attack.

Although I have the same right to travel on a train it is about consideration to non-bike commuters because they don’t have the option of cycling and in the end I want to convert a few to using a bike.


On the platform at Seven Sisters

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Taking time off from worry


Work is draining. I have got lots of stuff to do and like everyone else I am worried about everything. I thought ‘sod this’ and I cycled to the Dome this morning. I haven’t done this journey since my first weeks after I got the Brompton. It was a beautiful day. I got to North Greenwich tube in 30 minutes, no sweat. As usual the station was closed for engineering works. (This station is rarely open at the weekends.) The O2 was open and security guards admired the bike while at the same time warning me that I could not cycle on the forecourt (private property). The building work has expanded alongside the Dome which has closed the cycle path just before tube station. A new college is being built.

I cycled back along the Thames Path to the Thames Barrier. There were boats on the river outside the Yachting Club, I passed runners and parents cycling with their children and the Ecology Park was blooming. Once again I was surprised at how much fitter I am since February. Slopes that I couldn’t do before without effort were easy. I remember struggling just to find my balance while cycling around tight corners.

Sadly the path ends at the Barrier and I had to get back onto the main road. There was a traffic jam just outside the Woolwich ferry but I cycled between the cars (a previously scary feat) and left the queue behind. I cycled home along an empty dual carriage- way.

Note to self. Stop listening to the news and get on the bike instead.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Another yellow Brompton


I met another Brompton cyclist outside London Bridge this morning. This is where I get off the train and join the City traffic to Liverpool Street. There is generally a row of cyclists waiting at the lights just before the turn onto London Bridge. The yellow Brompton came up behind me and I saw it when I was doing my ‘look back’ check. I said that I loved the colour and the owner said thanks. He added that it was a last minute decision but he was pleased with it. He said bye as he passed me when we went over the Bridge.

What I love about owing a Brompton is that generally other Brompton users say ‘hello’.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Another trip through the park


Once again I sailed through Greenwich park at dusk.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Super strong, maybe.


I have been back to carrying my Brompton around the tube system this week and I noticed how much easier it is to carry up and down stairs, even when I am carrying a load of stuff in my Timbuk2.

I could always carry the Brompton but it was an real effort to do so at the start. My knees and arms would hurt and I would need to pause to catch my breath. I did wonder if I should have brought a lighter frame as I thought I would never get used to it. But is really was just a matter gradually building my strength and stamina, which I have. (If I was in my 20s this would be a breeze.)

Now I can carry the bike with one hand, no problem.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Beautiful & tough


I am not built to wear very high spiky shoes and so I am really glad when I come across a pair of shoes with a solid but elegant heel that I can wear all day and cycle in. These are my one of my favourite shoes. I brought them from Hobbs in 2003 and are still going strong. I have waterproofed them as they are nubuck suede. Of course I wear them with thick black tights and they make my legs look better.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Riding through Greenwich Park


I opted to ride to yoga class rather than take the bike on the train this evening. On my way to Woolwich Common I somehow had managed to get dog mess on my boot and consequently on one of the peddles (ugh). However a quick clean up with a couple wet wipes and I was back on my way, past Charlton Park and eventually Greenwich Park.

Greenwich Park was lovely. It was the end of the day just before sunset. I have never been there at this time when it just local residents strolling or walking their dogs and commuter cyclists on their way home. I had a gentle freewheel down the hill and out of the park.

I wish I had come back to cycling sooner.

Safety and Scary Statistics

I came across a web site by a charity created to promote road safety in the UK. There is section on Cycling and the use of helmets. Of course it is an advocate of compulsory use of helmets and it gives stats from 2006. It strongest cases are from the Royal College of Medicine and the Royal College of Nursing who support the use of helmets in the minimisation of head injuries and death related to head injuries. This section also carries personal stories designed to scare you and it works, for five minutes.

But then I went to check out the details of the statistics and compare them to other road accidents.

I discover that as a woman who is over 20 I am least likely to suffer a fatal accident on a bike. A quarter occur to those under 20 and a fifth occur to men. I also discover that my risk as a driver is higher than if I was on my bike. (Nine people die on the road each day due to a car accident compared to one person, likely to be male, every other day on a bicycle.)

The charity makes the point that because drivers are not trained to see and account for cyclists this is greatest risk to safety. This tells me that we cyclists need to continue to change the culture in regards to cycling and sharing the roads. Any regular driver in the City at rush hour is now used to seeing packs of cyclists at junctions and in bus lanes. Changing the culture means getting on our bikes with, or like me without a helmet.

On my street I was the second commuter cyclist. (The people next door have mountain bikes but only use them off road so they don’t count.) I have now noticed that two more cyclists have joined the fold. One also has a folding bike and the other has a child seat for his toddler.

I accept that I do take a risk when I get on my bike without a helmet. But I also take a risk when I get in a car or walk the street. I still say that cycle training is a better protector for a cyclist than a helmet but if you are a child or a novice or lacking in confidence or fancy the look of them then wear a helmet.

Bye bye Flatties


The weather has been great this weekend but there is a cool edge in the breeze. You can smell the change of season and see the leaves turning golden. I have already got out the boots but it is now to put away my soft leather flats into storage until Spring. I usually wear them with jeans and I don’t like cold ankles.

I got these shoes from Office last year. They have a different shape to other flat shoes and the ankle strap means I don’t have to worry that they will fall off while pedalling.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

New Boots


Although I now accept the folly of buying cheap shoes these boots from New Look are one of the few exceptions to this rule. They look fabulous and are comfortable to cycle in. They go great with black tights and skirts as well as with rolled up jeans. Winter is sorted!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Conkers are here so it must be Autumn


I picked these up while cycling yesterday. I love the brown shiny surface and get real pleasure of just holding bunch of chestnuts (conkers) in my hand and carrying them in my pocket. It’s like being 9 years old again.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Cyclist in red


My jaw dropped open when I saw this woman on her bike. She had red hair, red jacket, red skirt and red shoes with heels. Did I mention she was wearing red? I thought she was a wonderful anti-dote to the yellow high viz and black lycra.

You go girl!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

It's not a black thing

On my way along the platform to get my train last night at Charing Cross with the Brompton I was asked a question by a black man. He said, ‘Where are you from?’ My response was a quizzical ‘Excuse me?’ He then said ‘You don’t get many sisters doing what you do’. He was referring to the bike & cycling. I said that I did know a number of sisters who did cycle. But then he said ‘They don’t look like you’. This made me laugh. He added that ‘They all look the same.’ I assumed that he was referring to the standard uniform of the ‘I need to show I am a serious cyclist’ which is black Lycra, reflective vest, back pack and helmet. This was true I wasn’t wearing the uniform. I was wearing, my cream H&M raincoat, with cream coloured wooly beret from Topshop. I was in jeans that I had folded up to my calves and my black suede Hobbs boots. I also had my black leather gloves from M&S and slung across my back was my much loved Timbuk2 bag.

Most women cyclists on my travel route stick to the uniform which is the same as male cyclists. When I am sitting behind a bunch of fellow cyclists at traffic lights London Bridge or close to Liverpool Street I am the only woman in ordinary clothing and everyone else dressed mainly in black Lycra look the same.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Yoga class


I have started yoga class. It’s a course for beginners in Astanga Yoga and this time last year when I was recovering from abdominal surgery I could barely walk let alone this kind of exercise. I used to go a Iyengar yoga class but stopped when I moved house five years ago.

I was able to keep up with the poses and movements and I put this down to regular cycling and carrying the Brompton. (I now have strong thighs and arms.) I brought a special eco-friendly yoga mat which has a non-slip surface and I got this mat cover so that I can sling it over my back and cycle to class. I am getting fit for cycling through the winter.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Back in Boots


With the rain and chill in the air I have returned to my black suede boots. This is their second and probably last year of service. I have been to Hobbs and found a replacement, (the heel is different) but they are a little pricey, so I need to save up. In the mean time I plan to wear these boots into the ground.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Remembering

I didn’t forget the significance of today and the anniversary of what happened in New York. I just didn’t think there was a link between that and cycling. But then I recalled there was a chain of events. What happened in New York lead to what happened in London in July 2005 and the immediate consequence for a lot of commuters in London at that time was to go out an buy a bicycle. Sales in bikes shot up overnight. I was anxious about travelling by Tube but I did it any way. It was at this time I began considering whether I could cycle again.

Cycling in the rain 2

Today I got really wet. I knew when I set out that it would rain but decided to cycle anyway. I was working from home today but I needed to collect a parcel from the post office. It rained hard but I didn’t mind. I just focused on not going too fast because the water on the break pads would prevent me from stopping quickly. No, I would not have done this trip if I was going into the office.

I must remember to clean the dirt off the bike this weekend.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Ortlieb Zip City


I’ve been using this bag for a week. I ordered it in July and it finally arrived at Velorution. Ortlieb do a range of two tone colours but I got it in white because I need it to be seen and it is waterproof. I initially wasn’t happy with it but I am getting used to it. It does not have any inner pockets like my trusty Timbuk2 bag and no handy key ring on a ribbon so you aren’t hunting in the bag for keys. Even worse it does have a back strap that anchors the bag to stop sliding but for some weird reason Ortlieb have decided that you need to permanently anchor this strap to the bag (you have to unscrew a button and place the strap and then replace the button. On Timbuk2 there are a number of D rings around the bag which allow you to decide where you want to place this strap and you are able to remove it when you don’t need it and prevent a dangling extra.

I am working around the lack of pockets by just using my own zip pockets to hold what I need. In it’s favour It is tough, the right size and it looks good.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Cycling in the rain.

For the first time since I got the bike I opted to cycle to work in the rain. I usually leave the bike when I know it will rain or it is raining. This is because I don’t have proper rain gear and I don’t carry spare clothes so it means staying damp for the morning. However it wasn’t raining hard and my hat and raincoat kept of most of the rain. I would not have been any drier if I had just used an umbrella. I was fine and the rain had stopped when I got to Seven Sisters.

I decided to do this because winter is coming and I have got to get used to poor weather and poor light so might as well get used to light rain.

Friday, 29 August 2008

It's getting darker


Today was my first journey to work with the Brompton in three weeks. There was very little traffic and very few cyclists but that is probably due to the fact it is the last week of August people are likely to still away on their holidays. But it was dark when I got up and 6am and the Sun was setting as I got off the train in Woolwich this evening. I had to use my lights on the trip home. Summer is over. I now have to start packing my clip on lights and reflector bands. I will also start looking for boots to cycle in.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Fit Flops


I don’t cycle in flip flops. This summer I have seen other souls on bikes in flip flops but to me it feels like going naked.

These Fit Flops are designed to give your legs a work out. I enjoy wearing mine when I am not cycling but I not sure if they work for me, fitness wise. After all I give my legs a better work out through cycling up and down hills.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Leather slip ons


These shoes are by Clarks. They are leather and cool. Like the Air Rifts I can wear them with a lot of things. I like them because they protect my toes and are no problem on the bike.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Nike Air Rifts


I have had these Air Rifts for over two years. They are comfortable and quirky. (The big toe is separated from the other toes.) I can wear them with jeans or a skirt. The can go into the washing machine and dry very quickly. They are getting a bit tatty now and I was going to replace them with a pair of grey/red ones but unfortunately they were under a limited edition and they have now gone. I did try to get a pair at the Nike flagship store in New York but I was told that Air Rifts are not popular in the US and so they only had a couple styles for men.

I am going to hold out until the new season next year. But I think that Nike are gradually running down the range. At one time you could design your own Air Rift.

As for cycling. They are flexible and cool and great for summer rush hour traffic.

Riding again


I went out early this morning, first time in just over two weeks. No back pain. Cycled to my storage unit to get a book I had packed away. Very little traffic because it’s a Bank Holiday. I had a great freewheel down the road and on the way back I worked up a sweat going up hill while listening to the iPod.

I am taking it slow.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Still on foot


I didn’t get to go cycling as planned. This morning I pleased to find myself free of a headache but it was raining! By the afternoon my headache had returned so the bike sat by the door.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Still in the car


It's been two weeks since I've been on the bike. My back is getting better but I am plagued by headaches that last for days. Travelling by car hasn't been too bad because it's the school holidays. I hope to do a bike trip along the river tomorrow.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Care & Repair


Although I am still too ill to ride I dragged myself from bed took more medication and went to the Cycle Maintenance class this morning.

We learnt how to determine the quality of a tyre and wheel rim. Apparently Brompton wheel rims have indicator lines that when they disappear means your wheel is about to go. But this is after a lot of use, about 5000 miles. I’ve got years and years. We removed the tyre on a practice wheel and then pulled out the inner tube. I didn’t do this bit as doing it on a Brompton is more complicated because of the brakes. I did learn about the importance of cleaning and gave the Brompton a good wipe down. I took my cheap foot pump to the class to ask if this was ok to use. It is, and it was easy to get rear tyre inflated. I have previously used the hand pump that comes with the bike. Very hard work.

I got valuable advice on the simple stuff, like making sure I don’t damage the gears which sit on top of the handle bar of the Brompton when I turn the bike upside down to work on. Plus if I am not up to repairing an inner tube. Just carry a spare, replace the tube and then do the repair at home.

So my next task is to learn how to remove the wheels on the Brompton and get them back on. First I have to get some tyre levers. I found out that you can get strong plastic ones and avoid the steel ones as you risk damaging the rim in your efforts to get a tyre off.

I don’t know why I am being such a wimp. I used to do my own puncture repairs years ago when I had a three speed Raleigh Cameo bike! I am just older and more afraid.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Being sick


I have been ill since Sunday. The small muscle spasm in my back that didn’t stop me from cycling on Saturday came back with a headache on Sunday, migraine on Monday, back to back pain and throbbing headache on Tuesday. After more paracetamol the headache ebbed away by the afternoon. The muscle spasm is still there and I am off the bike. Even walking is painful. All I can do is try to find a comfortable way to lie down and sleep when I can. It’s Wednesday and I am still in pain. I couldn’t wait to get home to get into bed again. At Charing Cross Station I saw a woman with a S type Brompton bike on her way home by train. She had added bits to the ends of the handle bars but as I was struggling to walk I couldn’t catch up to ask her about her customisation.

The thing about being sick or unwell is that you feel that it will never end and you quickly forget ever being well and active. When you get better you feel wonderful again and you promise that you will do all the right things to stay well but you don’t. But learning to cycle has given me a degree of fitness and agility that I didn’t expect to have. Not being able to cycle to hard but I have my little Brompton to look forward to and I can’t wait to get better. (The pain will pass, the pain will pass.)

Saturday, 9 August 2008

I've passed!


The cycling proficiency training finished today. I have passed my level three. We were all given a little badge and a certificate. (I think it’s the same stuff they give out to kids after they pass their tests). I shall wear my badge with pride.

J our instructor gave me a lecture on the risks of cycling without a helmet he means well but I am not persuaded.

We cycled for two hours mainly uphill from Woolwich to Eltham doing more tricky roundabouts. It rained a little but we kept going without a break.

The Greenwich Cycling Training Team are really supportive and even though we’ve finished but we can still come back to keep practising. I still have trouble cycling around cones and in a circle which is necessary for balance and bike control.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Cycle Training Week 3

This week we went hard core. We did roundabouts on a fast dual carriageway. A little scary until you learn how to look and judge what traffic is doing. A lot of cycling is learning to be assertive on the road and paying attention. Contrary to what you fear, most motorists are amiable towards you and as one of our instructors N. a lot of motorists are cyclists too.

As usual I was very tired after the our two hour stint but it was worth it. I don’t know if I would have tackled this without training. I would have never have considered pacing my cycling while looking for a gap in traffic and then signalling and moving out to the right lane to turn. I would have just got to the roundabout and hoped for a gap and if no gap get off the bike and walk around.

We have one more week to go and that’s it, we’re on our own!

Sunday, 27 July 2008

I so love my Timbuk2 bag


I have a number of bags and now a basket but my favourite remains my Orange Timbuk2 messenger bag. It is strong and big enough to carry all my stuff and I can either sling it over my back while I cycle or carry the Brompton or it sits on the bike rack.

Timbuk 2 after a trip to M&S and Sainsburys.

Enjoying the summer


Despite heat exhaustion from Cycle training I got back onto my Brompton and cycled down to Greenwich town centre again. I used my ipod to keep me motivated through the heat but I kept remembering ‘to communicate with the traffic’ so they would know what I was doing and I could be sure that they can see.

The town centre wasn’t as busy as I thought it would be only tourists and cyclists out for a Sunday ride. I guess the locals are either away on holiday or in their gardens preparing barbecues.

I think that cycling is the best way to enjoy the summer. You get the light, sun and your body gets some exercise making you feel better.

The song that got me to Greenwich, ‘Drive in Saturday’ by David Bowie. The songs that got me home, ‘What goes around comes around’ by Justin Timberlake and ‘Fighter’ by Christina Aguilera. Yes they are obvious but they work so I don’t care.

It was the hottest day of the year today.

Black bird at Cutty Sark Gardens

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Cycle training in the sun


Week 2 of the Level Three Greenwich Cycling Course. We cycled from the Royal Arsenal to Greenwich town centre. We took a break at the Cutty Sark and then cycled back along the fast and busy Woolwich main road. At the town centre we cycled around and around the one way system learning to navigate the traffic and multiple lanes.

After the two hour class I was exhausted from the heat but we all really enjoyed the challenge. I just can hardly believe how far I have come with my cycling and my confidence in managing my bike on the road.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Red sky at night


The setting Sun seen from Plum Lane.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Parking


Finding somewhere to park the Brompton in Central London is challenging at times. It’s summer and the peak time for those who want to use their bikes. There are a number of bike parks (U bend type railings) for cyclists but there are not enough. Most of the time they are full and then I am wandering around for a sign post that is small enough to get the Arbus lock around.

Of course I know that having a Brompton means that I don’t have to lock it up any way. I can part fold and wheel the bike around various shops. I do this half the time when I not carrying a lot of stuff and I don’t have to negotiate getting upstairs. But having said that I did get the bike upstairs in HMV Oxford Street on Monday via the escalator only to discover that the down escalator was not working and I had to carry the bike. (Boy, I am strong these days.)

The free paper I found on the train up to Seven Sisters had an small article on Cycling by our new Mayor Boris. Our Mayor is determined to get Londoners to dig up their neglected bicycles and get out on to the road. Boris we need somewhere to park the things when we get off. More bike parks please!