Saturday, 28 March 2015

All Wired Up

I have an ambivalent relationship with bicycle gadgetry. I've used cycling computers practically from the day I (re-)started cycling as an adult in 2009, but I've spent months at a time without any, and haven't had one on my main commuting bike for several years. I log a general estimate of commuting miles on the mycyclinglog website but am not really interested in any other data coming out of my daily commute.

On my 'good bike', however, I've always been interested in how far and fast I go -- though I am by means speedy nor am I what is known amongst audaxers as a 'Mileater'*. Nonetheless, the 'best bike' gets the best miles and I do like to know what I've been doing, in concrete as well as visceral terms.

The first few years, I used Cateye cyclo-computers. My first two computers (on the Brompton M3L) were wireless but found they sometimes fail to record what you're doing but likewise sometimes pick up interference from nearby devices, so just weren't reliable enough. I switched to wired versions and ran those on the Cross Check and Pacer quite happily. 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

A Vintage Mystery: Kerry Bicycle Company

What is it?


The LSTF-funded Travel Choices project in our area is coming to an end this summer. One very successful initiative (largely run by Adam) over the past year has been the bicycle workshops. This has included people bringing in their own bikes for free-at-point-of-service checks and then having it serviced/repaired by one of the project's mechanics, or learning how to service/repair their own bicycle themselves using the workshop's tools and having a mechanic on hand to assist and answer questions. 

The other aspect of this Travel Choices initiative, run through the workshops, was a donation scheme: bring in your old bicycle and donate it, then choose another one that suits you better from the ever-growing stock of bicycles donated by others. This effectively recycled a number of bicycles through the community. Each donated bike got checked over, serviced and repaired to the extent needed to make it road-worthy. Any bicycle that could not be made safe to ride would become a donor, 'cannabilised' for any useful parts. 

With the project coming to an end, the two local councils are working on transitioning their resources into "legacy" projects that can be run by local volunteers. The Luton and Dunstable Cycling Forum has been a key partner throughout the Travel Choices project, so it is the obvious contender to take over some of the activities that the Travel Choices project had run. And so the Forum finds itself the recipient of a lot of the cycling-related stock and inventory. 

And thus it came to pass that a van-load of donated bicycles (and boxes of components) was disgorged on our driveway this week!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Mini Reviews of Women's Bib Shorts - Some Brands "Get It", Some Don't

Some time ago, a discussion about womens bib shorts came up on the LovelyBicycle! blog. The usual issues were covered: lack of availability generally, lack of choice for sizes and body shapes and of course the inevitable challenge of the Toilet Break, or as some manufacturers delicately if somewhat obtusely put it, the "Bio Break"*. 

At some point in the middle of the discussion, I was struck with the impulse to dig out all the bib shorts I owned and take comparative photos. So I abandoned the computer for 15 minutes, dashed upstairs, upturned a few drawers, arranged various samples on the bed, snapped a couple of shots, then uploaded them to a photo website so that I could post a link to share with the other ladies in the discussion. On each of the two photos, I jotted down the brand and style name of each item, a link to where they can be bought (ideally where more details are provided directly by the manufacturer) and then a summary of what I personally thought of each pair. 

A suggestion was made that I blog about this myself. I certainly intended to but somehow it didn't really make it onto my To Do list. 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I had a clear-out of all the cycling kit that I don't wear regularly, for one reason or another. When it came to the bib shorts, I realised my experiences over the past few years have refined my preferences considerable, down to the point where I really only ever wear Gore branded bib shorts or bib longs.** So everything else went into the Outbound bag. And I decided it might be helpful to capture and preserve my "overviews" (not "reviews") in a more accessible place, i.e. here on the blog. 

So without further ado - I present a selection of bib shorts of various designs, highlighting where I think some manufactures have successfully figured out the whole Women's Bib Short "thing" and where others are just playing a Gimmick Game

Sunday, 15 March 2015

#Errandonnee 2015 Challenge: Rides 6-8

Errandonnee #6
Date: Friday, 13 March 2015
Errand:  Get drugs (!)
Category:   Personal Care
Destination:  Local pharmacy
Steed: Lorelei the Puch Princess 
What I learned/observations:

I had my timing wrong and reached the village just at school leaving time. The streets were heaving with children... and with people driving their cars for the school run. I saw two other people on bikes: one a young lad cycling slowly on the sidewalk keeping pace with his mum who was pushing a stroller and a small girl about 5. The other was a teenage boy who lives near us, who walked by our house just as I was leaving home. He was hammering back up the street towards the village again, riding no-hands as he shrugged into a jacket. Late for his after-school job, I reckon. I envied his no-hands skills and was pleased to see him putting them to practical use rather than showing off!

Deja vu! Today was warmer and the bike has been rebuilt

Friday, 13 March 2015

#Errandonnee 2015 Challenge: Rides 1-5

Here's my first batch of Errandonnee rides. I haven't really got to grips with the new controls. In the absence of specific food/drink categories and given my current unavailability for any ride that could remotely be construed as "social", I foresee too many errands being categorised as Personal Care when they are anything but! (If only I were looking after myself as well as my anticipated over-use of this category might imply...)

Errandonnee #1
Date: Sunday, 8 March 2015
Errand:  Get Cash
Category:   Personal Business
Destination:  ATM in Luton town centre
Steed: Riley the Enigma
What I learned/observations:

When an ATM is unable to dispense cash, it will still take you through the entire menu right up to selection of the amount you want before telling you so. Why can't the cash option be disabled or displayed as unavailable right on the main menu?

Take 1:

Saturday, 7 March 2015

#Errandonnee 2015 Has Started!

Up to my eyeballs in coursework with a final law exam looming in just 3 months, much in "real life" is passing me by. For example, this year's edition that fabulously fan "Farewell Winter, Hello Spring" cycling challenge called the Errandonnee started on Thursday. 

30 Miles over 12 Rides in 12 Days.

The "rules" are designed to get those creative juices flowing and get you out in the fresh air with that trusty steed which may have been languishing (just like you) a bit too much through the winter. 

Much of the fun happens on the Facebook page, where people from all over the world post photos every day from their pedal-powered outings. And the Twitter hashtag is #errandonnee. (That's 2 Rs, 2 Ns, 2 Es.)

So where will you go? We want to hear about it! 

selection of #errandonnee photos on Twitter today

Though perhaps the burning question is:  You carried WHAT on your bike??!

@rachelcannon lobbied for the addition of this new category to this year's challenge.
I wonder what else she has up her sleeve?!

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