Archive for April, 2009

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Bike Commuting Myths – Busted

Tuesday April 28, 2009

Myths relating to commuting by bike:

1. I’m out of shape
2. It takes too long
3. It’s too far

Read all 10 myths at Alan Snel’s blog. Then get out to the bike shop and get yourself a shiny new bike and start the summer with good intentions!!!

[via Bike Commuters]

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Chicago and LA – Photos

Sunday April 26, 2009

Thought I’d post some of my old photos to Flickr this morning.  I’ve posted a set from one of my trips out to the US.

I had a good year and a half of US travel, spending a lot of time out in Chicago and the area just outside of LA, to the north.  The best bit was that it was business so it didn’t cost me anything!  Saw some good sights, met some great people and ate some fantastic food.

The photos posted are from one of my earlier trips during 2006.  They were taken on a two week visit: a week in Chicago and then a weekend and a week in LA.

The photo below is of the Chicago river.

All the other photos are on my Flickr account here.

Chicago - Bridge Opens

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A Bit Of A Hangover

Saturday April 25, 2009

Sunny day outside today.  No biking today though as yesterday was ‘Pay Day Friday Drinks’ where a group of us meet up at 6pm and have a night of fun and laughter… and beer.

It was a late one.  Today I didn’t wake up until 12.15 and I’ve been feeling a little delicate.  Both bikes are therefore not going to see the light of day!  I’ll see what I feel like tomorrow.

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Danny MacAskill – Ummm…

Wednesday April 22, 2009

Ummmm…  I think I need to work on my cycling a fair bit to be able to copy Danny MacAskill.
(BBC story here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/8012235.stm)

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Prof. Stephen Hawking Unwell

Monday April 20, 2009

The great guy is ill and in hospital.

Let’s hope he pulls through and comes back out to continue his amazing work.

Hang in there Stephen.

BBC News: Scientist Hawking ill in hospital
Stephen Hawking website

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Cranberry Juice

Sunday April 19, 2009

After a long ride or a run, in my opinion there’s nothing more thirst-quenching than a glass of ice cold cranberry juice.  It’s strange but true.  It’s a great drink which has a clean, ‘dry’ taste and it really does hit the spot after hard exercise.

I buy Ocean Spray’s Cranberry Classic and keep the fridge stocked up with the stuff to make sure I don’t run out.  Mmm, it’s great.  It’s also supposed to be a healthy drink too with a lot of vitamin C.

Try it after your next ride.

(Oh, I also think it’s good for ‘the morning after the night before’ moments!)

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Ketchup – Cycle Commuter

Thursday April 16, 2009

The ‘Net is great as it gives you an insight into the world of others’.  I like to think that my blog does the same and that the photos I post enables people from around the world to see what it’s like around my part of the world.

I’ve been looking today at the Cycle Commuter blog and at the photos posted there.  The latest post, Ketchup, has a nice selection of images from the author’s commute.  It’s interesting to see how different the area is from Rochester.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the Cycle Commuter blog for more great pics.

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Whitstable – A Long Ride

Thursday April 16, 2009

With a week off work my plan has been to catch up on all the things I should have been doing over the past five months but also to get out on the bikes and get some exercise and fresh air.

The holiday didn’t start well with a cold kicking in on my first day off and a mysterious sprained ankle (?!) on day two – I woke up and could walk!  That lasted a day or two before it strangely fixed itself during another night of sleep.

Easter Monday’s ride was pretty good and got me into the swing of things.  It was the longest ride I’d been on in many years and being able to switch off from the hassles and stresses of everyday life was very nice.

Wednesday was forecast to be a nice day so I got up and prepared the Trek.  Sandwiches, bottle of squash, cash, sunglasses.  My Topeak Aero Wedge DX was fitted under the saddle with a spare inner tube, Topeak Mini 9 multi tool and other bits and pieces.

Today was going to be a BIG ride.  My destination was Herne Bay, which was a round trip of over 60 miles.

When I set off, it was foggy and damp but with a forecast for sun and a great day ahead  I set of in good spirits.  There were to be some big hills on the way and the first one was only a couple of miles away in Chatham so it wasn’t going to be an easy start.

The ride went well and although the roads were pretty busy the majority of drivers were respectful of my space and gave me a lot of room whilst overtaking.  Even when I slowed them right down on the steep climbs they were patient and ensured that they passed safely.  Only one driver, on the return journey, passed far too close and just missed my handle bars – dangerous and idiotic.  However, that was one in many.  So top marks for the drivers of the area.

I’d estimated around three hours to complete the journey and decided to stop on the hour to stretch my legs and have a quick drink for a couple of minutes.  Just under an hour got me to the A249 and I stopped on the bridge over the busy dual carriageway.

My next stop was at a Little Chef road-side restaurant on the A299.  This was a very busy dual carriageway with cars travelling at 70+ mph so it wasn’t fun!  At this time I was very hungry so I thought I’d stop at the Little Chef for one of their Olympic Breakfasts.  The restaurant was quiet and they had no objection to me wheeling the bike inside and propping it up next to my table.  The first thing the waiter said to me as I entered was “You look knackered!” – after a 26 mile ride, I was!

Heading away from the Little Chef, now refuelled, I passed a sign saying Whitstable 7 miles, Herne Bay 11 miles.  Hmm, I thought, Whitstable it is then!

Change of plan took me to Whitstable rather than Herne Bay so I’d have a little more time to relax at the destination prior to heading home.  I was aware of the time and was keen to get home before sunset so Whitstable seemed the wiser choice.

Having grown up on the coast of Pembrokeshire, Whitstable, and the Kent coastline in general, is too bland and flat for my tastes.  There was nothing photograph-worthy in my mind on the seafront.

The town centre itself was extremely busy and I was glad that I could nip through the traffic on my bike whereas the cars sat in near gridlock.  I found a small park with a refreshment hut and sat down to enjoy a well deserved Coke and choc ice.

Then I was off.  Back onto the bike and heading North to Rochester.  This time I was keen to avoid that busy dual carriageway so I followed the coast along the back roads to Faversham.  The sun had by now burnt away the fog and was working on my exposed skin.  I could feel myself dehydrating and all I could think about was cold drink.

It was a great ride.  It wasn’t leisurely, I pushed myself for the majority of the journey and at the end of the return leg I was very tired and began to slow down.  Reaching Rainham I was seriously running low of energy and I slowed considerably but I was still pretty positive and was still enjoying it.  The sense of achievement was great as I headed into my local area and finally reached home.

With the Cateye computer reading 58.88 miles, I dismounted at my house and I was home!  The computer only records actual cycle time and it read 5 hours 46 minutes – no wonder I was a little saddle sore!

The Trek had performed well – as had my now aching legs.

(Flickr holds larger photos from the day)

GPS Track

Coke and Choc Ice

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Easter Monday Ride (30.5miles)

Monday April 13, 2009

With no work today (Bank Holiday) I  left the house at 0730 for a long ride on the Trek.  I packed my GPS receiver, a map and a drink and cycled towards the Castle.

Prior to leaving I’d fitted a Trek bottle cage and my Crankbrothers Power Pump Alloy to the bike and checked the tyre pressures (pumping them up with the Topeak JoeBlow).  I was looking forward to this ride and with no time limit I intended to just cycle and explore.

I headed past the Castle and across the River Medway into Strood and then onward to the Isle of Grain/Hoo Peninsula.  I just took any road that caught my eye and on a number of occasions I had to turn back due to dead ends.  I had a rough idea as to where I wanted to go but no set route.

It wasn’t too cold but the sky was very cloudy and foggy in places.  Only towards the end of the ride did the sun begin to break through.  With these conditions, the camera didn’t come out at all; it was packed but it was so gloomy that it wasn’t worth snapping anything.

It was a great ride and it was fantastic to get out and away from the traffic.  Only birdsong broke the silence for the majority of the ride.

Today’s discovery was *another* castle which I’d never seen before: Cooling Castle, which is apparently owned by the musician Jools Holland.

My geek-side was interested to see that upon arriving home the Cateye computer and GPS both gave very similar distance readings – it’s nice to confirm the accuracy of the cycle computer.  The difference was around 0.2 of a mile.  The journey, as captured by the GPS receiver, is shown below.

The Trek performed well on the ride with no chain/gear noise to interrupt the silence.  However, I did have a chain incident at around the 27th mile.  Changing down to the smallest cog on the front set, the chain slipped off.  Normally, turning back downhill and changing gear whilst pedalling would drag the chain back onto the gears but for some reason the chain had become caught between the gears and the frame and just wouldn’t budge.  I had to stop, up-end the bike and with some grunting and pulling free the chain.  This took about five minutes and left me pretty oily.  Oh well, never mind…  🙂

The route was a little over 30.5 miles in total.

Edit – 15th April ’09 @ 0927: Profile of the route added in response to Robin’s comment (data from GPS track log).

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GM/Segway’s PUMA Vehicle

Sunday April 12, 2009

Last week saw GM/Segway unveil their PUMA (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility) Project, a self balancing two-wheeled vehicle capable of reaching speeds of 35 mph for 35 miles.

I’m a gadget geek so I think this vehicle is pretty cool and the videos of it shows that it’s a great gadget!  (mmm, love gadgets!)   However, I was reading on the Practical Cyclist blog some interesting comments in response to the PUMA and their introductory blurb:

“Imagine moving about cities in a vehicle fashioned to your taste, that’s fun to drive and ride in, that safely takes you where you want to go, and “connects” you to friends and family, while using clean, renewable energy, producing zero vehicle tailpipe emissions, and without the stress of traffic jams,” said Burns. “And imagine doing this for one-fourth to one-third the cost of what you pay to own and operate today’s automobile. This is what Project P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility) is capable of delivering.”

Yes. Imagine that. Let’s imagine this as a series of bullet points, shall we?…  [Robert Anderson – A Practical Cyclist – click link to read more]

Robert makes some good points – read them over on his blog.

But thinking more about this car/vehicle/buggy/golf cart, I think that it could have a place on our streets.  Not everyone has the ability to cycle and there are times when a bike won’t do, so the PUMA could step in and help.

One thing I struggle with on my bikes are larger/bulkier objects and then a car is needed.  Unless… I could buy  a bike trailer…  hmm… interesting.

Link: PUMA on Autoblog (image above is from Autoblog)
Link: PUMA on Engadget

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