Monday, 31 January 2011

Dream bikes & cycling dreams

I have written about this before but last night I again watched the BBC4 doc by Rob Penn ‘The ride of my life’ about his journey to create the bike of his dreams. It reminds me of why cycling is a joy and obsession. But still a long way to go until it safe for everyone to ride everywhere.

I saw this Brompton a couple weeks ago. Bronze metal is currently my favourite colour for my next Brompton. This Brompton has a Brooks saddle and an impressive lock. I want one too.

NB. The link to the see the documentary will only last until Sunday 6 February 2011.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Travelling in rush hour

I was recently asked a question on how I managed to get on a tube train with the Brompton in rush hour. This is my response.

I have learned to repeatedly say ‘excuse me’ and ‘sorry’ even if I haven’t bumped into anyone. I find that it is better to be polite and gently assertive and people will make room if only to stare at someone travelling with a very small bike. I used to get offers from people helping me take the bike up and down stairs which I accepted. I looked and felt very tired in the early days when I was re-learning how to ride. Now I can carry the bike walking up and down escalators but I don’t because of safety issues.

My work takes me across London but luckily most appointments are after the morning rush hour and I don’t have to travel every day. Still there are lots of times when I have to use the tube train at rush hour but the recent fare rises means that I will probably reduce my use of the over ground train which is more expensive.

When I get on a crowded tube train I will use the large centre doors as there is less chance of me knocking anyone with the bike. I will also make a swift move to any corner so that I can park the bike and stand beside it. The newer trains have space for luggage with fold up seats which means if I get one the bike can sit out of the way. If I have to stand in the centre area standing with the bike between my legs is best to avoid the bike falling over onto anyone’s foot.

I can also make use of the ledge seats that some trains have. I did this in the photo above this week. I am sitting on a little ledge but with my feet on top of the frame of the Brompton I have made myself a proper seat.

If I can I tend to avoid changing trains and try to get a close as possible to my destination on one route and then cycle the rest of the way. But this also depends on the weather and traffic. (Do I want to cycle in the rain or heavy traffic? Or do I want to push the bike through a busy interchange?) It isn’t easy but at least I am not one of those poor travellers I see with very large set of suitcases trying to navigate stairs and escalators.

Cycling on a folding bike is not for the nervous.

For those who are interested. I am wearing my new Camper shoes with thick wool & Lycra grey tights from last years H&M collection.

Amendment made on 11.1.10

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Shopping at the sales

I have picked up two pairs of shoes in the sales. The strappy shoes are by Office and I have had my eye on them since I brought my winter boots back in October. They were reduced to half price and I got them for the spring when it finally arrives. The shoe boots are by Camper and I love them. They have the soft springy soles that Camper uses and the heels are not high which means they are comfortable. The words ‘Heels for Beginners’ are cut into the soles.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Back in the saddle

The cost of fuel has gone up by 5 pence since I last filled up my car before the snow hit in December. Train fares, bus and tube fares will reach eye watering prices this week too. Government policy on getting us out of our cars and onto public transport seems to be crazy. The idea is to increase the cost to the fare paying public and reduce the cost to the tax payer which is why government subsidies to public transport is on the decline. But the last time I checked I was a tax payer as well as a user of public transport and having decent public transport is a fundamental as the health service. I want to use my car even less this year but high fares and reduced government interest in a good cycling infrastructure means that this will be an ongoing battle for those of us who love our bikes and just want to get from A to B safely. Still I am up for the challenge and I will be registering for the TFL hire bike scheme as soon as I am properly back on line.

It was good to get back on the bike today; very little traffic on the roads because it was a Bank Holiday and the snow has finally cleared. Cycle lanes are full of tiny holes, grit and debris so it will be tricky going until street cleaning starts up again.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Brilliant Brixton Cycles

The Brompton is now repaired and the job was done by the wonderful cycle collective, Brixton Cycles in Lambeth. Surprisingly I was let down by Compton Cycles who were not open despite the notice on their website saying they would be. I gave a quick call to BC and then I drove over with the Brompton in the boot. It was done inside an hour. Unfortunately the tyre had split so it had to be replaced as well as the inner tube. Total cost £39 including service. I am not sure how I split the tyre but there was a lot of salt and grit on the roads because of the snow and I guess it was something that was going to happen at some point.

Sorry no photos at present. The broadband is down because the box needs replacing and Virgin Media cannot come until Thursday. My back up dial up connection is not strong and often cuts out so I can barely get email. At least my bikes are ok.

Happy New Year!