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


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.