Monday, 28 March 2016

RE-BLOG: London Cycle Infrastructure Safari next Saturday, 2nd April 2016

from the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain website: 

London cycle infrastructure safari, with Ranty Highwayman - 2nd April

Superhighway Embankment London

The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain will be joining the Ranty Highwayman on a cross-London Infrastructure Safari, on Saturday 2nd April.

The ride will start at Tower Gateway, where the eastern end of east-west Superhighway meets CS3, at the junction with Royal Mint Street - location here. Meet at 11am!

The ride will take in the east-west Superhighway itself, the north-south Superhighway, and Superhighway 5 at Vauxhall. The ride will finish with a look at Vauxhall Walk, and a visit to a pub. More details on the Ranty Highwayman's facebook page.

The full trip is expected to be around 10-15 miles - with regular stops to examine the new infrastructure, as we go, and for lunch and coffee.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Operation Body Swap: RESULT

Yes, it's done! And yes, it is a complete success. 

Lorelei is the London Town Bike, on the road the whole of this past winter. She's a pleasure to ride and completely reliable, having needed not so much as a brake cable adjustment in the past five months. 

Petra is the Modern Retro Road Bike, on the road for the past two weeks and just a dream to ride. 

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Review: SHOWER'S PASS Rogue Hoodie

In my search for a new waterproof jacket this winter, I had a look at the current offerings from Showers Pass. While in the end I went with a Craft 'cycling specific' waterproof jacket, I also bought a second jacket intended for more general purpose use off the bike but also suitable for casual cycling: Shower Pass's Rogue Hoodie.

The Showers Pass website describes the Rogue Hoodie thusly: 

A street wise, bike friendly, and fiercely weather resistant technical hoodie, the Rogue Hoodie is like your favorite sweatshirt, in a flattering women's cut. The Rogue features a 3-layer waterproof softshell Artex material: the cozy fleece lined fabric wicks sweat away from skin, while the outer fabric and waterproof membrane keep wind and light rain at bay (seams are not sealed). 

An employee favorite here at Showers Pass, we wear the Rogue for fall and winter bike commuting, hiking, camping, on the slopes and around town – over a T-shirt when it’s 50 degrees, or layer up a few wool baselayers for colder conditions. Bike friendly features include a slightly dropped tail to protect against tire spray, longer sleeves with wrist gaiters, reflective accents, and a large back pocket with light loop.

The reference to Artex material meant little to me. ((Isn't Artex a material for covering walls?) My expectations to be honest were fairly vague and low:  basically a sweatshirt type jacket with some kind of weatherproofing. Not truly waterproof and certainly not breathable enough for 'spirited' prolonged riding, but cosier than your usual cycling waterproof jacket (most of which aren't designed to deal with chill as well as wet). 

I've got to say, this jacket has confounded and exceeded expectations in every way. I'll deal with specific features shortly but firstly I want to try and categorise this jacket, as I've never worn anything quite like it before. 

Sunday, 13 March 2016

#Errandonnee 2016 Challenge: Ride 12 (Sunday London Ride)

Errandonnee #12
Date: Sunday, 6 March 2016
Errand:  Sunday London Ride
Category:   Social Call/Ride
Destination:  Hyde Park Corner, London, to Fatboys, Trinity Buoy Wharf, London 
Distance: 37.3km (23.4km on ride itself + 13.9km getting to it and back home again)
What I learned/observations:

The day dawned (or, more accurately, the darkness gradually lifted on an extremely foggy morning) and we were out the door by 7.30am to catch a train to London to join friends for the long-running Sunday London Ride. We were shocked when our calculations suggested that we haven't been on one in three years!

We decided to use the new East-West Cycle "Superhighway" aka Crossrail for Bikes to make our way from Blackfriars towards Parliament Square. I am disappointed to find that this brand new, not yet finished, cycling "superhighway" is woefully inadequate. I don't know when the plans were drawn up but bi-directional provision within the width of one car lane is simply not good enough. After years of dangerous over-capacity, the Tavistock route has been upgraded to one full-width lane in each direction -- and that's not a so-called "superhighway"!

Saturday, 12 March 2016

#Errandonnee 2016 Challenge: Rides 7-11 (The Herald of Spring)

Date: Saturday, 12 March 2016
Steed: Petra the Puch Princess
Total Distance: 19.4km

Overall Lesson for the Day: I love doing business with local people, whose names I know. 

Errandonnee #7
Errand: Haircut
Category:  Personal Care (2)
Destination:  Charisma Hair & Beauty Salon, Caddington, Bedfordshire
What I learned/observations:

Not a lesson or observation as such but I realised this morning that Kay, the owner of Charisma, has been cutting my hair for over 3 years. At intervals of 3-4 weeks, I probably see her more frequently than anyone else I know who does not actually live with me! (Which is fine, because she is lovely.)

Friday, 11 March 2016

#Errandonnee 2016 Challenge: Ride 6 (Life Behind Bars)

Errandonnee #6
Date: Thursday, 10 March 2016
Errand:  London Commuting
Category:   Work (2)
Destination:  Fitzrovia, London, W1
Distance: 2.3km
What I learned/observations:

Had a guy in a sharp suit and trenchcoat in the Tavistock cycle path this morning -- on his scooter. I can't see I'm too pleased about mixing dissimilar vehicles in the same space but I suppose it's better than having motorised scooters in the cycle lane as is allowed in the Netherlands. And given the choice of footway, cycleway and roadway and considering his overall speed, the cycleway no doubt made the most sense to him. (No photos of him, unfortunately.)

Malet Street between RADA and Birkbeck College.

Bedford Square, where the cycle countraflow is officially on the footpath.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

#Errandonnee Challenge 2016: Rides 4 & 5 (Urban Night Riding)

Errandonnee #4
Date: Monday, 7 March 2016
Errand:  Evening Commute from Office to Train Station
Category: Work (1)
Destination:  St Pancras International, London
Distance: 2.3km (each way)
What I learned/observations:

I often wish I had my camera to hand when I'm commuting. From time to time, I do stop to photograph things that catch my eye, but these have tended to be on my morning commute and therefore in daylight.

Tonight saw my first attempts at taking photos in central London from a moving bicycle. In the dark. With gloves on. Of course there were 3 bad shots for every half-decent one. Good thing I took quite a few!

I quite like the area I work in (Fitzrovia). It's a buzzy mix of old and new, not at all 'sterile' like the City. 

Liberated from her usual bike stand (just out of sight to the left).
I intended to take a photo of Lorelei at the stand, with the glorious Charlotte Street Hotel behind,
but a couple was standing there having a rather heated debate (in another language)
so I unlocked in a hurry and moved a few yards away.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

#Errandonnee 2016 Challenge: Ride 3

Errandonnee #3
Date: Sunday, 6 March 2016
Errand:  Luton & Dunstable Cycling Forum Ride
Category:   Social Call/Ride
Destination:  Luton to Shillington and back
Distance: 44km
What I learned/observations:

1. Amiiee is one heck of a strong rider. She rides an old-style mountain bike with 21 gears and uses just one. She only rides her bike once or twice a year -- usually a 20+ mile ride with the Forum, nothing else. She wears a mixture of gym kit and streetwear, with a borrowed cycling jacket over the top. And almost without exception, she does these rides after a hard night on the tiles, while all her mates are asleep and/or nursing serious hangovers. I just couldn't even.

Monday, 7 March 2016

#Errandonnee 2016 Challenge: Rides 1 & 2

Errandonnee #1
Date: Saturday, 5 March 2016
Errand: Go to my Quiet Place to Study for my Exam
Category: Education (I propose changing "Work/Volunteering" category to "Career/Vocations")
Destination: Thompson Close, Harpenden
Distance: 4km
What I learned/observations:

Some days, the portability of the Brompton trumps* all other considerations.

Errandonnee #2
Date: Saturday, 5 March 2016
Errand:  Collect Fresh Raw Milk from Local Man With Small Herd of Jersey Cows
Category:   Non-Store
Destination:  Crabtree Lane, Harpenden
Distance: 1km
Steed: Lucy the Brompton
What I learned/observations:

1. Timing errands in between hailstorms can be tricky - but is so worth it.

2. Also, mid-way through the day is not the ideal time to realise you should have worn (or carried) waterproof trousers - see point 1.

*And so we mourn the loss of a perfectly good word, forever spoiled by one of the most horrifying personalities ever to seek public office.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Something Rather Remarkable

I've just been browsing through the tandems on UK Ebay (as you do) and stumbled across something quite unusual -- 

Wire sculptures of riders on bicycles. No, not just bicycles but a wide range of human-powered wheeled vehicles, from city bikes to BMX bikes to tricycles to recumbents (and recumbent trikes) to tandems to velomobiles. 

Have a look for yourself HERE

Here's a sampling of views of a few of my favourites. 

the tourer

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

When A Bicycle Can Do MORE Than A Car

This recent post by Edinburgh Cycle Chic has attracted a lot of attention. It features just one example of being able to fit more onto a bicycle as cargo than could ever be shoe-horned into your average passenger car.

We have a few examples in our household too, featuring our own Circe Helios.

The Helios easily handles the weekly shopping trip for a household of four adults.

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