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!