Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Just had to get on the bike

I spent all day writing a report at home and by 5pm I needed to just get out, get some air and complete some errands (buy shampoo, post a letter, sign off on a storage unit). So I got on the Trek and started pedalling uphill and down.

I used Woolwich Church Road which is a fast moving road. I made a mental note to avoid it in future during the weekdays during the evening rush hour as this is the I must get home now traffic. It is fine at the weekends and outside the morning and evening peak traffic times.

My red Mary Janes go very well with the new purple raincoat.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Looking after a bicycle - the bare minimum

A thousand years ago when I got my first bike  l learned from a book how to fix punctures and replace tyres.  The bike I had back then had a basic three speed Sturmey Archer hub and removing a wheel was pretty easy.  But as  I said that was a thousand years ago. The only flat tyre I have had on the Brompton was when I damaged the valve recently.  If I do any real damage to this bike I can just fold it up and take it where I need to get to and put it into the boot of the car and take it to Compton Cycles for any repair. 
I am now more lazy.  I keep putting off booking a place on the cycle maintenance class that runs on a Tuesday evening in my area.  I now have the Trek and it will be easier to learn to change the tyre and do a repair myself than walk around London with a flat. 
In the meantime I keep up, when I remember, with the bare minimum for bike maintenance.  Keep the tyres at the optimum pressure.  This stops unnecessary tyre wear as well as keeps you speeding along.  I learned the hard way that you work twice as hard with a poorly inflated tyre.  I also learned that I don't have the strength to pump a tyre with a hand pump and I think they are only designed to re inflate a tyre to get you home after a puncture repair. The one I got with Brompton got twisted up in the spokes when it slipped off and I haven’t bothered to replace it.
My new standing pump does the job but is more effort than my foot pump. I feel as if I’ve been working out in the gym every time I use it.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

I can't do that

I was on my Brompton and I saw this cyclist doing his thing (swift repair) with the wheel. I was impressed.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Wearing purple

I don’t have a bike vest. I only used one when I was doing my cycle training last year when it was compulsory along with a helmet. I do have a florescent sash/belt that I wear when I am wearing my black coat while cycling. I generally rely on colour or the outfit to ensure I am seen. My light coloured rain coat is beginning to wear out, so I went to look for another one, same colour but I was swayed by a vivid purple one instead. It does the job, I got noticed in traffic.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Going uphill in Greenwich Park

Yesterday London hosted a mass participation cycling event. I had seen the posters but I forgot all about it. Of course I support the idea of getting more people on bikes but I am not sure I would be inspired to do this by the sight of hundreds of cyclists in identical florescent vests and helmets. I took the Trek through Greenwich Park where I saw small groups of cyclists on their way home. They looked like they were having fun. As I was on the Trek I was able to cycle up the steep hill to the Conservatory. I usually have to walk with the Brompton, so I was very pleased with the achievement. At the exit gate a local resident was collecting signatures to stop the closure of the park to prepare for the Olympics. I don’t want the park to close either.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

New boots no 2 that kept out the rain

These are the other pair of boots I got from Marks and Spencer recently. They are made of black suede, my favourite material for shoes and boots. I wore them for the second time today and it poured with rain at lunchtime. I had the Brompton and I got really wet went going down the Strand and then later in Tulse Hill. I was only wearing light raincoat, not a special mac and a beret. M&S state that these boots are waterproof and I have to say yes they are. My feet remained dry and warm. My coat also protected me as when I took it off and my hat I was dry. I need to remember that it is ok to cycle in ordinary clothes in the rain. Once I accepted the rain was not going away it wasn’t terrible but there were moments when it was just easier to walk because the road surface was too slippery.

My brown bag from Esprit also kept out the rain

Sunday, 13 September 2009

New boots pair number one

I saw these boots in Marks and Spencer and I got them. Last year I put off buying black leather boots until too late in the season. Back then I was lucky to get a pair in ‘New Look’ but I’ve now worn them out and I will keep them to do wear in the garden.

These boots are tough but not heavy and go well with black tights and dresses. I tried them out on the Trek today. I didn’t have any problem with the pedals. But the Brompton may be different.

Oh yes, I got another pair of boots in black suede a week after these.

No room

I went to Spitalfields Market this afternoon after a quick trip to Atlantis Art Store to get some nib pens and black ink. It is great to see so many cyclists out at the weekend but it is tough trying to find anywhere to park. I was using the Trek today so I didn’t have an option but walk around until I found room on a street sign. If I have the Brompton and I can’t find a space I will just partly fold it and wheel it along.

We need more bike stands.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

My first flat tyre on the Brompton

I was fed up using my foot pump and I went and brought a standing tyre pump. Unfortunately I got a faulty one. I had trouble getting it on and off the valve and down went the tyre. I went back to the foot pump but discovered the valve had been damaged as all I got was the hissing of air.

I can get my money back on the pump but I have to buy a new inner tube.

Lesson: Cheap equipment can end up being more expensive. Same lesson applies to shoes.

The Ortileb Shopper

I took the Trek out today. One of the last sunny weekends before autumn kicks in. I used my Ortlieb Shopper which snaps on and off and turns into a tote or shoulder bag. Waterproof too. I got it from Velorution where I also brought the Zip City bag. I wanted something I could take off quickly when I parked the bike. The all black colour works very well. Once when I was in the West End someone asked me where I got the bag, not realising it was a bike pannier.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Saving money

I keep forgetting to use my Oyster travel card. I’m generally in a hurry to catch a train and I just automatically go to the station instead of going to the Docklands Light Railway in Woolwich. But a one-day travel card is £10 before 9.30 am, which is bit of waste of money when I am cycling around the centre and not using the card. I heard that by next year we will be able to use the pay as you go Oyster card on all trains. About time. I don’t mind travelling on the DLR in the mornings but on the way back I want the option of a direct train and a seat from Charing Cross home.

I saved £5. I need the cash to pay for my shoes.

No problems standing in the new Mary J shoes on the Tube.

Another pair of Mary Janes

I got these shoes last week from Clarks. They have a hidden platform and a cushion insole which makes them very comfortable for heels and perfect for standing around all day or cycling.

Yes, I have another pair of Mary Janes. These are my second pair of black Mary Janes from Clarks too. But to me there is a difference and I love them both.

I like cycling in Mary Janes because I don’t have to worry about loosing a shoe in traffic.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Cute but I didn't buy them

These Mary Jane shoes are moulded plastic by Vivienne Westwood for Melissa. These were in Topshop. I didn’t check the price but I don’t think they are expensive. Very comfortable & elegant but I am not sure if they would stand up on the Brompton pedals. (The folding pedal has a serrated edge that cuts into some of my shoes soles.)

I will think about them.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


Convenience from Amsterdamize on Vimeo.

I have just found this great site through the Transport for London Cycling website link page. I was surprised that despite the fact Amsterdam rivals Copenhagen for it passion for cycling that they did not have their own blog celebrating the joys of cycling ‘sans’ Lycra. Well, Marc Van Woudenberg has now corrected this with  Amsterdamize. The blog is less about fashion and more about advocacy. It is a reminder for those of us who live in cities where everyday (non sport) cycling is still considered unusual that it is possible to have a city that truly supports cycling for everyone. But it is changing for the better in London. Slowly, but it is changing.

I love the film ‘Convenience’ on the blog. As someone who travels regularly with a folding bike through various London stations I envy the ease of commuting shown in this film.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Cycling in flat shoes

I often find flat shoes too flat for comfort if you have to walk long distances in them. However this is not a problem on the bike. These Mary J’s from Topshop are very comfortable. The closest to wearing slippers. But because they are made of fabric they are only a fair weather shoe. I like the look when I wear them with black tights.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Cycling in skirts

A little while ago I found a helpful article solving the problem of cycling in skirts. This isn’t a problem in winter as coats keep everything down and I wear black tights. But in summer I wear shorts under my dresses to cover the thighs.

Cyclist Lisa Foster reveals the secrets of cycling in skirts in her post, The Diva’s Guide to Biking written for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. She also gives her view on cycling in heels but I already knew that stuff.

The Diva secret to keeping your skirt down when the wind blows is to anchor it with a safety pin to a garter around your thigh. I use a black hair band. I have used this all summer and kept my modesty in tact. It is a great idea and I am spreading the word now before I get back into my black tights full time.