Wednesday, 27 February 2008

I am so unfit

I’ve to take another day off the bike because of sore legs, sore everything. I need to do a regular workout just to be fit enough to make a daily local trip. I plan to go running this weekend and will see if I can fit in some yoga.

(Well, that is what I would like to do.)

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Sick Brompton

I've got a little trouble with the lights on the Brompton. The dynamo lights are not staying on or I'll get one light on and not the other. At first I thought I wasn't pushing the switch correctly as I was doing with the quick release lever, but no it's not me.

I have called the bike shop and I will take it in on Saturday. I have to leave the bike which is not good.

Monday, 25 February 2008

My Brompton - Week 3

I’ve had my Brompton for just over a couple weeks. I am still getting used to handling the bike but that would apply to any bike I had.

I know I am repeating myself but, it is easy to fold and unfold (now that I discovered how to use the quick release lever.) It is not light but I can carry it for short distances. The eZee wheels are brilliant. I use them all the time when moving the bike through public areas.

Although I brought a bike cover at the time I got the bike. I haven’t had to use it. But then I have not had any long distance train journeys.

The pannier is still brilliant. The bag block that holds the bag somehow sits independently on the front and so it does not affect steering in any way. The pannier is large enough for me to carry everything I need. I then to pack the ‘world’ but generally this is ok if travelling by car and now I can just as much by bike. The plus is that I just unhook the bag (this clip is a bit fiddlely to find underneath) and then throw the whole bag onto my back by using the shoulder strap. I then fold the bike and push it to the next destination.

I like the dynamo lights but I do have extra flashing lights that I clip on and take off when I fold the bike, because this is London and I want to live to my next birthday.

I have one small beef. For some reason the reflector holder on the folding pedal has broken on one side, which means the as some point soon one of the reflectors will fall off. I will be negotiating with the bike shop for a replacement. I would expect a pedal to withstand a lot more than my shoes.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Cycling in new boots

Went for a ride in my new boots this morning. I adjusted the route I took yesterday to Charlton House so that I had fewer hills. I went all the way to North Greenwich tube station. The Dome always looks fab in sunlight.

My time is getting a little faster, 45 minutes instead of an hour one way. I also stopped to take photos. I still have to get off the top half of hills but I’ve learned how to turn around in a small space. (Still not steady).

The boots were fairly comfortable (new leather needs to be softened), but it took a little while to get used to the feel of them on the pedal.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Ankle boots

I got these boots from Clarks. Reduced in the sale from £60 to £35. My sister says I have too many shoes and needing boots to ride in is a weak excuse to fuel a shoe addiction.

New Route?

I woke up with a tension headache. With the prospect of two long car journeys later in the day (Bluewater and Stanmore), I decided to get on the Brompton and check out the route I had downloaded from the Transport for London website that takes me from home to North Greenwich tube station without fast traffic.

As I discover, the downside are more hills, but mainly doable. I have not been on the bike for three days and my legs are not sore anymore.

Along the way I noticed for the first time all the little cycle route signs, but the route map is now out of date in a couple places. Greenwich council has put in some one way roads.

I didn’t get to North Greenwich but I got as far as Charlton House library and then back for breakfast. Headache gone.

Didn’t wear any heels, but I was nice and comfy in my M&S Ugg style boots in black suede.

Friday, 22 February 2008


One of the of things that nearly put me off cycling to work is arriving in a sweat just before I start work. The following works for me
1. Make sure I use lots of antiperspirant on biking days
2. Clean clothes. ( Bad smells comes from bacteria/dirt in clothing.)
3. Cycle slow going into work. (It is also downhill)
4. The more I cycle the more stamina I gain and less energy/heat I generate.
5. Carry a small pack of unscented baby wipes for just in case.
6. Carry small atomiser of perfume
7. Keep antiperspirant in desk drawer.
8 Carry water and drinking while travelling keeps me cool.
9. Give myself plenty of time (see 3.)

I find that I arrive a little flushed but not damp or soaking. The final leg of my journal is only 5 minutes on the flat.

On the way home is a different matter. It’s uphill and I arrive damp and I just strip off and head for the bathroom.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Back in the car

Because of work commitments I have not been able to cycle for the last two days and I can't use the bike tomorrow either. Wah!! Even though my legs can do with the rest I miss my little Brompton. It was weird sitting in traffic in the car yesterday. I kept thinking 'why am here and hurry up.'

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

East End at night

I cycled back to London Bridge Station from Roman Road in Bethnal Green at 10 pm. I was hurrying to get the train back home. It was cold and the roads were clear of traffic. I was still surprised that I was cycling and I wasn’t falling off. It is getting easier. Between Broadgate and Liverpool Street there were road works with a huge crane in the road. But like the other cyclists I just sailed through the No Entry and Diversion signs and only got off the bike when I had to go onto the pavement to get pass the crane. (Cycling is great.)

Sadly I didn’t get time to take photos of the view from London Bridge at night, only three minutes to get the train.

Monday, 18 February 2008

First time for the Brompton in the West End

I was running late and had to use my Brompton to get to the train station. My final destination was Oxford Circus. It was lovely to ride down Oxford & Regent Street again. I had totally forgot that there are so many one way streets in the West End and I to keep getting off the bike to walk down short one way streets. I later used the Tube to get to from Goodge Street Archway. No time or energy to find out how to get to my meeting by bike, and the point of the Brompton is combined travel. I am getting used to carrying and unfolding. I don’t need to go to the gym to do resistance work.

I also saw a lot of other cyclists some fast and some slow like me and there were bikes parked all over the place.

Cycle lanes

After one week I have mixed feelings about cycle lanes. They are a godsend on the fast sections of the Woolwich Road, but they just stop and start for no reason. Some are just plain silly or useless. But I am still glad we have them as they remind motorists that they SHARE the road.

Here is a photo of a silly lane on the Charlton Road.

Getting from A to B

The Journey Planner on the Transport for London website is great. I gives me a rough guide on how to get from A to B in a variety of routes and at different times. It’s not perfect but its good enough at the moment. Even better is being able to co-ordinate my travel with public transport.

Monday, 18 February 2008 01:12 AM

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Boots to ride in.

It's still too cold to wear shoes and so I am wearing my boots to get around. I generally live in boots for most of the winter.

The brown suede/leather boots were last year's favourites brought from Marks & Spencer, The Italian Collection. The black suede boots are this year's love from Hobbs. I wear them so often I am in danger of wearing them out too soon. Both boots are heavily sprayed with leather protector which works for bad weather.

What I like about my bike - Week 1

It feels like I am riding a full size bike. It is easy to fold. It is easy to push around, like a trolley. The M type with 6 speeds and dynamo lighting means that I can travel up and down hills (stamina permitting) and at night. It is easy to store indoors and I don't have to worry about theft. The front pannier is great. It carries everything I need and doesn't hinder any steering. It clips off quickly and I can sling it over my back with the shoulder strap and then collapse and carry the bike.

Quick Release Catch

I have been folding and unfolding the Brompton for a week and I have only just noticed there is a quick release catch that allows me to flip back the back wheel in a second. I had been turning the whole catch until it released and then flipping the bike in half. 5 seconds saved.

Drawing while travelling

When I can get a seat and no one is looking too closely. I draw.

Weight 12st. I've put on 2lbs because of the sudden increase of muscle mass. My thighs are sore but feel like rocks.

Getting faster

It was cold this morning. My feet were nearly frozen by the time I got back. Decided to cycle to North Greenwich with the sightly adjusted route I had learned from the TFL website. Being cold is good news because it means that I am getting stronger and fitter (no sweating and pounding heart). It took 1 Hour and 25 minutes. My best time yet!

Saturday, 16 February 2008

I oiled the chain for the first time today. I just went to Halfords and brought a can of oil spray with 'teflon' in it. Expensive and it keeps off water and dust.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Travelling by tube

So far I have managed to get through relatively unharmed. I have to work out where to stand on the platform in rush hour so I can get on with the bike. I can wheel the bike with the handle bar up to the platform but I it needs to go flat when on the tube. I can carry it for short distances and lifting it isn't a problem. The Brompton takes up less space than most of the trolley suitcases I see on my journey. Staff are happy to open the gate for me as I wheel the bike through which is also smaller than the average pram. Crowded platforms leave me anxious that someone is going to curse me, but I just keep saying sorry and other travellers are ok with the bike because they are also staring at it.

I usually get a seat on the Victoria Line after Oxford Circus and I can eat my breakfast banana and read.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

I am still tired. My tired is tired. My only hope is that I will get stronger and gain more stamina and confidence. I took me just under 2 HOURS going and 2 hours on the WAY BACK. I was slow because I was so tired.

I am getting a bloody good workout on each day twice a day.

How did I do this before? I am stunned that I even cycled from Forest Hill to LEWISHAM on a daily basis. Either traffic is FASTER or I'm more anxious.

I really must MASTER the gear system and my balance and speed.

Do I get back on tomorrow.?

Friday, 8 February 2008

I am going to die

I am really tired and a little ill. I brought my Brompton today and I LOVE IT. It is a wonderful ride. But I am really unfit and I live in an area of fast traffic and HILLS. It took me just under 2 hours to get to and from North Greenwich tube station. I had to get off and walk for a part of the journey. I live near some WONDERFUL views. The journey alongside the RIVER was fabulous. I am not sure I would do the same trip in the dark. I will use the bike to get to work tomorrow but leave plenty of time to get there.

I will try the busy route along the Woolwich Road to the DOME, North Greenwich. I will not do the right turns along the big road. Not confident yet. I can just get off and cross the road when I need to. I am doing the busy route until I can build up my stamina and do the hills.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

The Beginning

Obession. After talking with D at work I am now obsessing about getting a folding bicycle. A Brompton M3L to be precise. I WANT IT NOW.

Getting a bike is good idea. It's expensive but still a good idea. My current journey is tough. When I drive I to leave very early to ensure that I get to work just before 9am. If if I go by TRAIN it the same and I either way I'm still at risk of delay at some point in the journey. A bike gives me a huge flexibility of routes - with an Oyster Card. I can't do the whole route on TWO WHEELS, it's too far.

I discovered that I can get to North Greenwich tube stateion and then either go through Central London for £2 or go via Stratford for £1 up to Seven Sister.

I could save up to £7.40 a day. I currently pay £9.40 for a day return. And it the whole system goes DOWN I just get on the bike.

Sounds great. The minus is the cost. Plus I worry that it will just another FAD for me and I won't be cycling this time NEXT YEAR. It's crazy to start cycle again at my age.

I am not giving up my CAR so a good folding bike will supplement me getting around in these crayy days of increasing congestion on the road and trains.

I am being carried away an elaborate FANTASY I have of whizzing around looking effortlessly stylish. Reality will be very very differen and I often let myself get caught in the web of 'when I I get this or when I get that'.