Saturday, 29 March 2008

Madness. Petrol is now over a £1 a litre. Even if I wanted to go back to the car full time I can't afford it.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Rest days

I was back on the bike on Tuesday. My journey time to North Greenwich station was about 40 minutes and on the way back about 45. (I was carrying stuff for work.) I really enjoyed the ride and once again I got up Westcombe Hill. The Timbuk 2 bag holds everything I need and works with my red H&M coat. But by Wednesday I was really tired and a little sore. I could not do the North Greenwich run and just took the bike on the overground train. When I got off the train on the final leg home it was raining. Something I had avoided all day in my short trips around Tottenham so I was wet when I got through the front door. Until I get used to it I need rest days to help me recover.

I still refuse to buy any lycra.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

My Brompton squeeks

I don't know why but my Brompton squeeks a lot when I first start to use it. It's fine by the end of the ride. It does mean that people on cycle paths can hear me coming.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Easter Sunday

No cycling today.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Lesson Two

I had my second cycle training lesson today with J and N at the Royal Arsenal. I made it to the class cycling through freezing sleet. Fortunately this cleared by the time I arrived and once again I was doing U-turns, emergency stops and signals. I have now passed Level 1 of the Cycling Proficiency test and J took me out onto the road and we did junctions and roundabouts. I was so cold by the end of the class, but if I can cycle in the cold I can do it when the weather gets better.

Some one very new to cycling joined today and I was full of admiration at her patience and determination in learning how to cycle from scratch. Made me more keen to keep going.

Friday, 21 March 2008

An interesting cycle path. It is a path on a pavement next to the pedestrian pavement.

A Good Friday

Although we were warned about bad weather and snow this weekend. It didn’t happen today so I cycled down to the Dome via the Thames Barrier. It was sunny, very fairly windy at first and at one point I had to get off the bike to avoid the wind throwing me off. It took me 45 minutes to get the North Greenwich tube station including stops to take photos.

I took my fast route on the way back and for the first time I cycled all the way up Westcombe Hill! I was really pleased with myself and my legs. I realised that the worst part is the beginning of the hill and I was doing this before and then getting off at a mini roundabout to walk the rest of the way. The wind had dropped so I wasn’t fighting the elements. Time on the way back 35 minutes.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Cars and trains

Back in my car and later the train today. More bad weather in the afternoon, bad weather expected this Easter Weekend. But I really regretted not taking the risk anyway as I missed the 20.11 train home and then a points failure meant no direct trains back to Greenwich. If I had my bike I could have gone to Lewisham or Blackheath and then cycled the rest of the way.

Messenger Bags

I caved in a brought a messenger bag, this time made by Timbuk2. I accept that my lovely bag by Jost cannot carry everything I need for work and it is not waterproof.

This bag is a lovely Burnt Orange and while it doesn’t have as many pockets as the Jost it does have a nifty key holder to stop me fumbling around at the end of a journey. The white plastic lining allows me to see everything and will deal with any ink pen leaks which I will have at some point.

Unlike the Jost bag the Timbuk2 is comfortable across my back and shoulders. The Jost was OK but not for long journeys.

I admit that my bag collection rivals my shoe collection. I don’t have expensive bags but I believe that my bag should fit the occasion and each is different and so are my bags. I don’t understand those women who only have two, work and best. Why? But then I also don’t understand spending a mortgage payment on a designer bag. Why?

I have just read a funny essay on the dilemmas of finding and using a handbag by Nora Ephron, called ‘I hate my purse’. It’s in her book ‘I feel bad about my neck.’ ( I could write about how much I love my bags.)

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

ipod & Me

For safety reasons I don’t advocate listening to any MP3 player while cycling and I didn’t plan to use my ipod. I prefer to pay attention to what is going on. I got one for Christmas two years ago, but It was months before I found a real use for my ipod. (I had to go into hospital and being flat on my back and in pain required some distraction.)

Still I found that listening to music (at a low level) while cycling was a real boost to my sense of well being on the hills and getting home in the cold when I am a little tired after 8 hours at work.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Getting faster and stronger

To my shock I found myself at North Greenwich tube station in 35 minutes this morning. A month ago it took me an hour. I was carrying a lot of stuff (book, magazine, sketch book, fruit, water, phone, make-up, ipod, pencil case, Moleskine, digital camera, bike lock and Oyster card) today and I need to reduce the load. It takes me about 8 minutes to sort out the bag, lights and folding the bike. I am stronger and find it easier to navigate escalators and stairs while carrying the bike. More than once I have wished that brought a lighter Brompton. Still I am getting resistance training every time I have to lift the bike. Whoever said that cycling is only good for working out the legs did not own a folding bike.

On my return journey it took me 45 minutes to get back. (More hills.)

I noticed more cyclists out and about. A sign that Spring is on the way.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Helmets & Hats

I wore a helmet for the first time yesterday. As part of the condition of getting free cycle training you have to wear a helmet which the trainers can provide if you don’t have one of your own.

I don’t like helmets. I love hats and will continue to wear my berets which I can squash into a bag when I need to.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Taking lessons

Despite the fact I have been riding for a long long time. (Ok with lots & lots of gaps.) I had my first riding lesson this afternoon courtesy of the Cycling Training Team at Greenwich. It is free, thanks to Transport for London (TFL) and our Mayor Ken (not sure if he will get my vote yet) Livingston.

With the patience of J & L I learned how to cycle around small cones, signal with confidence, stop on line, do a U turn and my favourite, look behind to check traffic.

The classes run every weekend at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich. (Another major attraction that I had no idea about until today.) I still need to practice but already my skills on the road are up 100%.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

'Think' shoes

Got another pair of shoes this week. These are by the Austrian company ‘Think’. Very comfortable, beautiful, well made and appease my addiction for suede. I didn’t get them to cycle in but to take to New York next month.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

The weather is still windy and wet.  So I am off the bike and on the train this week.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

M&S Boots

Black M&S suede boots. They keep my feet snug and warm. They keep off the rain and scrub up well with a little cleaner and stiff brush.

One month on the bike

After one month I can finally sit in the saddle without pain and I've learned how to pedal without strain. Secret -use the right gear! I’ve decided to stop trying to tough it out with the steep hills. Some hills I can get up but others there is no point, walking is just as fast and less strain on the legs. I even found myself giving hand signals. I can’t do this all the time as it is tricky keeping your balance on a folding bike, the centre of gravity is not the same as a full size bike. I think I am ready to take some official lessons!


I had my first ride in the rain. I spent twenty minutes sitting at a bus stop waiting for the rain to ease up. Saw two cyclists in wet weather gear speed by. One of them was a woman with a child in a little trailer (all enclosed). I felt like a wimp.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Off, On, Off, On

The dynamo lights were still playing up but thanks to the skilled hands at Compton Cycles I think it is now sorted. I hope.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Sight Seeing

Back on the Bike to do a quick trip to Tottenham Court Road to collect my very tiny (and cheap) lap top that had arrived.

I cycled from Charing Cross Station up Charing Cross Road, up Tottenham Court Road, but walked back to Oxford Street. I then went down Regents Street to Piccadilly Circus and I walked through Leicester Square, back to the Station.

I am not sure if I am more scared of cars, pedestrians or other cyclists. Everyone seems to be going faster than me at times.

On the bike I noticed how much the area had changed. It appears to be now entirely given over to tourists and all the businesses are aimed at them. One thing that made me sad was seeing the closure of the Swiss Centre. It used to have a lovely little display of revolving little puppet like figures that came out when the clock chimed on the hour. Very twee but fascinating.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Red Brompton

I saw this Red Brompton next to it’s owner while queuing for a hot chocolate in a cafe on Tottenham Court Road today.

It looked as if it is well used. No rear rack or Ezee wheels.


I did 45 minutes of yoga with the help of an old DVD and it felt so good. It made me realise how stiff and tight my legs had become despite being stronger. I have been putting so much effort into pedalling and yes I am building muscle but I need the counter balance of doing something that stretches me out. It’s true that strength is useless without flexibility.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

First service

My Brompton has had the first service and hopefully the lights are now working properly. (I forgot to ask what had happened.) The broken pedal reflector has been replaced. I’ve put a rear light bracket on the seat post which puts the second light up high. The next service is due in about six months, depending on how often I use the bike, which is twice a week at the moment. I have found a local maintenance class and I will book for some basic training. One of the benefits of having a folding bike is if anything goes very wrong I can fold it up and get on public transport.

While I like to carry everything I need and everything I think I may need, truth is I can’t continue to do this and carry and ride the Brompton. Well not until I get really fit.

So I have been looking for suitable bags to sling over my shoulder. I still love my Brompton pannier but I would like to just be able to sling something over my shoulder and go.

So the hunt is on for the perfect bike bag or bags.

So far I have looked at Crumpler messenger bags. Been to the great shop on New Oxford Street and I even brought one. But I took it back. The strap was too stiff for my shoulder and back. Crumplers seem to made for either very strong people who will carry everything or delicate people who just need their keys and wallets. I exaggerate, and having looked at the website I just need to find the right Crumpler for me.

In the mean time I have gone for a bag by Jost. I love it but just a tad too small for my everyday work journeys but great for just popping to the shops trips. Lots of lovely pockets for those things I can never find in a big bag!

I will also continue to use my lightweight Muji shoulder bag. I love this bag but it is too soft and not rain proof for the bike.

Photo of Black Jost bag