Saturday, 29 November 2014

Puch Princess Reborn: Sacrilege? Or Best Of Both Worlds?

This post comes with a health warning... and an apology. 
Some of you may be offended by what I've done with this vintage bicycle. 
For the offence, I am truly sorry. For what I have done... not so much. 

Because this time I listened to what the bicycle was telling me, what the bicycle wanted. True, I curated this build according to my preferences but at the end of the day, I had a 35 year old frame that wanted to go fast but couldn't due to the limitations of its build and/or its rider. 

The rider, I couldn't change any more than I can for any other bike (those grumpy knees!) but the build, I could. 

This is not a restoration but a rebirth as something else entirely.  

Sunday, 23 November 2014

In London Next Friday Night? Come to Sustrans' Long Distance Cycling Evening

Thinking about cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats, the Coast to Coast cycle route or something further afield in mainland Europe? Want to learn more or hear travellers tales from fellow long distance cyclists?

Sustrans is hosting another edition of its popular Long Distance Cycling Evening. This is an informal evening of discussion, hints and tips on all things cycle touring. Learn from experienced cyclists about planning, logistics and their adventures in the UK and further afield... on journeys lasting from a couple of days to a few weeks and even months. 

Speakers lined up for this week's event will talk about their experiences of cycling in the UK and across Brazil, Russia and Australia, and more. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Crankarms: The Long And The Short Of It

This post is about options for crankarms with lengths outside the "normal" range -- particularly those shorter than 170mm -- available in the UK.

Photo: Highpath Engineering

You may be wondering why this question even comes up. For many of you, crankarms in the most commonly available lengths (e.g. in the 170-175mm range) suit you just fine.

But -- if you: 
(a) are a woman and/or 
(b) are shorter than, say, 5'8" and/or
(c) have proportionately short femurs and/or 
(d) suffer from arthritis or other chronic conditions of the hips, knees or ankles...
then you may just find that slightly shorter cranks fit better, give you more power and efficiency and perhaps cause less pain. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Review: FASTRIDER Trolley Pannier

I may have found my perfect commuting bag!

A few months ago (after several months of commuting with my two-bikes-plus-train solution), the thought occurred to me, "Wouldn't it be great if I could pull this pannier along through train stations (between bikes) instead of carrying it?"

I seriously began going through my (extensive!) collection of wheeled holdalls, business cases and suitcases, looking for a suitable candidate that could be reinforced and to which I could fit pannier hooks (Klick-fix for preference).

And then I spotted this on ebay: 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

#Coffeeneuring DNF: Down To The Wire

Photo: paulscho/flickr via

So today was the final day of the 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge

I simply ran out of time to complete seven rides, squeezed between coursework deadlines, relatives coming to visit and a migraine ambush. 

Still, last year I only managed four rides, so I'm pretty pleased with six this year. If I hadn't missed the second weekend altogether and thus found myself playing catchup, I'm sure I could have finished. 

Meanwhile, I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the photos posted up by other coffeeneurs on the Facebook page. There are some very talented photographers out there, pedalling, sipping and snapping. 

I hope the two other UK bloggers (The Pointless Project and Town Mouse) who I know were participating, have completed in style. 

How did you do? 

Same time next year, then? 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

#Coffeeneuring 2014: Ride 6

Destination:  Chilterns Gateway Centre (National Trust), Whipsnade Road, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, LU6 2GY
Date:  Saturday, 15 November 2014
Hot drink of choice:  Black Tea
Total mileage:  25km
Bicycle:  Lorelei the Puch Princess

My friend Tim* joined me for today's coffeeneuring expedition. He was quite intrigued by the whole concept! 

"Wow, a whole 2 mile minimum?!"
Which rules out the cafe in the village, unless I want to take the looooonnng way round. 

"Does it have to be a HOT drink?"
Well, yes.
And then he remembered the "hot beverage" designation, which is impossible for an Englishman to say without one arched eyebrow and tongue firmly in cheek. 

"Did you remember to get a photo?
Yes, I did. 

"Will I get mentioned on your blog for this?"
Well, of course!

*who I had not seen in... let's see... eight years as near as I can figure out, possibly longer. I remember a camping trip in northern France before I started my law degree in 2005. One dear friend on that trip has since died. It seems a lifetime ago. Tim and his girlfriend Kate (later wife) discovered kite buggy-ing on the beaches around the mouth of the Somme on that trip. The trip was also memorable for all the small snails on our campsite that worked their way into my tent, sleeping bag, everything I owned... and came home with me... mostly squished flat. I didn't own a bike, then. Neither did Tim. He 'found' me this year via this blog. Turns out, we've been crossing each other's paths at various local events for the past two years without spotting each other. It's almost uncanny. Meeting up with him again is one of the very nicest things that has happened as a result of this little blogging lark of mine. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Winter Brings My Cycling Indoors

Right on cue, the rain is lashing at the house... and lashing at me when I go out on my bike. 

Almost exactly a year ago, I pondered whether getting an indoor trainer or rollers would be useful in maintaining a level of cycling fitness through the worst of the English winter weather*. 

I didn't pursue the thought last winter but it did stick with me even when the weather improved in the spring. As the summer segued into autumn, I laid a few hints in the ear of my beloved (who is no fool) and so now possess a new set of Tacx Antares rollers.

I had a very interesting first session on them last night and will post about that shortly. But first, here are some tips on setting rollers up and getting started riding them. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

#Coffeeneuring 2014: Ride 5

Destination: The Grove Lock Pub, The Grove Lock (as in, the canal lock), Grove, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 0QU
Date:  Sunday, 9 November October 2014
Hot drink of choice:  Cappuccino 
Total mileage: 42.8km
Bicycle: Riley the Enigma

This was an intermediate level ride hosted by the Luton and Dunstable Cycling Forum, led by Adam. We gathered in Grove House Gardens, our usual meeting place for Dunstable-based rides. We had an all-time high with a turnout of 23!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Review: CARRADICE STOCKPORT Bag for Brompton S-Type

I've had my Carradice Stockport bag for 18 months now so it's time for a long-term report and full review.


As I mentioned in my preview of the Stockport, this bag is styled differently from the City Folder M. It is in Carradice's "Classics" range rather than the "Originals" range. This reflects the more refined look that the Stockport has, with styling a little more appropriate to city/business use than the more "audax-y" look of the Originals range! 

Monday, 3 November 2014

#Coffeeneuring 2014: Ride 4

Destination: The Rising Sun (Public House), Front Street, Slip End, Bedfordshire LU1 4BP
Date:  Saturday, 1 November October 2014
Hot drink of choice:  Bog standard instant coffee. White. 2 Sweeteners. 
Total mileage:  6 km
Bicycle:  Bridget the Surly Cross Check

A very welcome break after six hours at the books.
On a wooden swing in the rays of a Setting Sun, if not a rising one. 
The coffee was instant but I wasn't the one who had to make it, so hey.
As Damo says, "it's all good". 

I had a brief mental tussle over which bike to take. The key factor was the lack of time I had for coffeeneuring today, so I needed minimum fuss: ordinary clothes, ordinary shoes. As I freewheeled out of the village on Bridget, I realised that, for every kind of ride I might do, there is a bike in my stable that does it better than Bridget, but there is no type of riding -- at all -- that Bridget can't do. 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

The Original Swoopy?

You may recall the story of my Puch Emerald, bought as frame + forks + headset (only) on ebay a few years ago, which we attempted to build up as my London Town Bike. 

I've never known what the original factory build may have looked like, but there is a complete bike listed on Ebay UK at the moment, which the seller claims is "totally original and unrestored". 

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