Saturday Jul 18, 2009

Cycle helmets or brakes

I've just straightened the rear wheel on the bike of a friend of my daughter and while I was at it checked over the rest of the bike. This leads to my top tip for parents of children who cycle (which IMO should be every parent of an able bodied child).

Before you start worrying about whether your child is or is not wearing a helmet1 make sure that the brakes on their bike work. Not just when the bike is new but regularly.

1See http://cyclehelmets.org for whether you should worry about that at all.

Monday Jul 13, 2009

Cycling route from Farnborough Main to the Sun Office

In case anyone wanted to cycle from Farnborough Main railway station to the Sun Microsystems offices at Guillemont Park here is the route I take.


View Larger Map

Thursday Jun 25, 2009

Why a fixie

Why a fixie1?

A few people have asked me this so here are the reasons for a fixie:

  • They are alleged to improve you pedaling.

  • They are supposed to make your legs stronger.

  • People say you are more in touch with the bike on a fixie

  • People say they are fun to ride. Quite why is hard to understand why would this be significantly different from just picking a gear and sticking to it. For a single speed bike with a free wheel I would agree except a single speed there is no way to give in up hills without getting off.

My additional reasons were:

  • I had noticed I generally ride in 3 gears during the winter so wondered if I could make it on a single speed.

  • Bike to work made it very affordable.

  • I wanted one.

Now having one I agree they are fun more fun than I ever expected and even though I don't think I have mastered it yet I do understand about it being in touch with the bike. Going up hill there is nowhere to hide I don't know if it is making me stronger but it feels like it.

It certainly has improved my ability to "spin".

1Obvioulsy the answer that you can never have too many bikes I assume will not wash. Indeed I have that problem at home since the house rule is that I can only have three bikes. The brompton, luckily, does not count leaving some others. However since under UK law a bike that has no pedals is not a bike I only have three sets of pedals so I'm o.k.

Tuesday Jun 23, 2009

500 fixie miles

I've now commuted 500 miles on my fixie. Riding with a single gear and no freewheel has proved to be more fun than I expected. I've managed to stay on the the thing despite it having a pretty good attempt to throw me on three occasions:

  • Trying to “freewheel” as I went over a speed bump.

  • Trying to “freewheel” going round a roundabout. Very exciting as I got lifted up at the same time as the rearwheel stepped out.

  • Going down hill and letting the speed build up and my legs not being able to keep up, in the wet all went very wobbly.

All these happened on the first two commutes since then I have mastered not freewheeling and can control the speed going down hill and spin at a rate that I previously thought impossible although it is much easier to use the brakes.

  • Track standing is harder on the fixie than on a freewheel bike. I think this is just lack of practice as it is getting better.

  • Gettting too close to the kerb is frightening as that pedal is going to go down relentlessly so narrow gaps are narrower.

  • Judging whether there is room for another turn of the pedals before you have to stop is more important than I relised. If you get it wrong then your foot is stuck at the bottom of a pedal stroke so starting is really hard.

  • Getting your foot clipped in once you are moving is impossible, better to get clipped in before putting the power down. Another reason to perfect that track stand.

  • I've not scraped my pedals going round corners, Yet.

Sunday Jun 14, 2009

Passing the Baton

When I was about 16 I used to ride around Surrey and Sussex a lot on my bike. Sometimes on my own and sometimes with friends. It allowed me to miss the Wedding of Lady Di and Prince Charles by going camping the entire weekend, little did I realise I would get complete symetry and miss her death as well.

On one of these cycling trips I was on my own, tired and struggling up a hill out of Horsham (I assume I was returning from Worthing as I used to cycle down there quite often and since I was on my own I must have been visiting my Great Aunt who lived there). As I struggled up the hill a cyclist who was much older than me (probably in his forties) pull along side and asked how I was. I replied something like “knackered” at which point he put his hand on my back and pushed me up the hill. I was both thankful for his kindness and appaulled that an “old git” was pushing me, a teenager, up the hill.

Well today I managed to pass the baton on. A teenager came out with us on our ride today and on the way back from the cafe blew quite spectacularly. Not able to keep up on the flat even in the tow of the other riders unless we slowed to a crawl, which we did, then we got to a hill and I saw my chance. I realised I had been waiting 28 years (or so) to pay this favour back and so I pushed him up the hill.

Sunday May 31, 2009

Hard May Flyer

Today was the 2009 South West Road Club's May Flyer. I vowed this year to not try and get on the wheel of a fast group early on as that enevitably leads to pain later in the day. I kept this up for about 30 miles which meant I was riding mostly solo but humming along nicely when a pair of faster riders caught me and I did catch their wheel until the halfway point. After that I was quite quickly dropped and so that allowed me to enjoy the headwind on the return journey.

I was at least pleased that the route goes through Peaslake thus avoiding Pitch Hill on the way home or at least it did last year. This year it did not! Taking us up Pitch Hill and then down around Peaslake along Lawbrook Lane which also has a sharp climb in it. All this when you still have Coombe Bottom to face.

Not sure how long it took me, but it was a long time, much longer than last year. I failed to zero my bike computer before the start and I have mislaid my GPS!

I was planning a slight detour for my 1000th blog entry but time has not allowed me to finish the entry before a normal cycling entry arrived. The detour may appear later.

Friday May 22, 2009

Fixie!!!

Today was my first ride to work on my Sun's new bike. This year my bike to work bike I have chosen a single speed fixed wheel bike. Fixed wheel bikes are supposed to improve your pedaling action and that is my excuse.

I've not ridden a fixed wheel bike since I was a teenager when a boy at school had one and I rode it a bit. However that was all before clipless pedals. I don't even recall if it had toe clips but I suspect not as I was considered a bit odd for having them.

I was expecting hills to be a problem having no gears going up, but in reality the problem is when going down where I've not managed to just relax my legs and let them spin or effectively use them to slow the bike without it all being a bit scary. Once I had got my self scared as my legs were whirling round it was not instinctive to use the brakes to slow the thing down. All very odd.

Traffic was less of a problem than I expected and I managed to get into the habit of slowing before junctions so I could just roll upto them. Since there is no freewheel you can't just lift the pedal to the top of the stroke to start again so you end up planning where you want to stop. It came as quite a suprise how far you move forward on a single pedal stroke.

The real surprised was how long the journey home took. I have no computer on the bike so I was only able to time myself approximately using my watch but it was 1 hour 10 minutes which was quite pleasing. I'm pondering whether a slightly larger gear might be a good idea.

Thursday Apr 23, 2009

Good advice from the Department for Transport for Drivers & Cyclists

Here is a moderately good page from the Department for Transport for cyclists and drivers. It's good. It seems odd that drivers want cyclists to know that they drive to fast (Motorists usually travel faster than cyclists and may have less time to take account of hazards.) and don't look enough (Motorists may not always see cyclists), which while true is not really what drivers should want to cyclists to know.

If however some more motorists read this and understand it that would be a step in the right direction. The best thing about this is that it comes from the Department for Transport which does not have a reputation for being pro cycling.

Sunday Apr 19, 2009

Horsham and around

Today we had six riders out today and headed out over Coombe Bottom At the top of Coombe Bottom one rider turned for home but the rest of us continued over Pitch Hill towards Horsham. Just outside Rowhook one rider took a bath in an enourmous water filled pot hole. Fortunately no harm done. In Horsham food was required but no open Cafe could be found so we had to make do with a corner shop and then headed for Henfold Lakes.

The nasty 10% hill between Horsham and Rusper was a bit of a shock but once over we had good run to the Cafe. Henfold was very busy, there was a CTC group that arrived while we were there so the place was awash with bikes.

My invitation to include Ranmore on the ride home was declined due to tired legs so we went the flat way through Dorking and Leatherhead.

Ended up with 70 miles done and I think I have been sun burnt (very mildly).

Sunday Apr 12, 2009

Ride to Windsor

With it being Easter this was always going to be a short ride. Family commitments abound for all. We had two new riders but that still only made five. We headed out to Windsor via Ascot and the usual "sprint" through the park which left the new riders in for a bit of a surprise when it all kicked off.

Slight rain did not dampen the ride and the tail wind on the return made for a fast and furious return to Molesey.

53 miles.

Sunday Apr 05, 2009

Solo cycle

I was a bit late to the meeting point and there was no one there. I decided to guess which way they had gone, or more accurately I used the old trick of choosing a route that if they had gone that way I would catch them. This took me to Cobham and then through Effingham and up Coombe Bottom. This week was much warmer, my water bottle was clean and there was no repeat of the problem of last week. Having still not caught them I went in search of what I now know is called “Weare Street” a delightful road that I have been taken along but never really known how to find it. One day Street view will fail to show the beauty of the place, you really need to be on a bike to apprieciate it.

I was very pleased to find it with only one mistake and then having ridden it turned left when I should have turned right. Fortunately both mistakes lead me very quickly to places I recognised and so I was able to rectify the error. Having a map would have solved the problem but is really not worth it if you know most of roads.

Ended up at Henfold Lakes for a Cup of tea where I met another rider who had also been late and not found anyone. We rode back via Ranmore Common.

Ended up doing 60 miles and was back at 11:30.

Sunday Mar 29, 2009

Bad Ride

Today was much colder than I expected and so as we cycled out through Stoke d'Abernon I was beginning to get cold, especially my hands. Going up White Down I started to feel strange when I stopped at the bottom at Raikes Lane and it all started to go wrong. Feeling faint and sick I could go no further and when the other riders arrived they boyed my spirits by telling me I looked really pale. They flagged down a car (which had bikes on the back) and pursuaded him to take me to Dorking, where there would be a Cafe. I was quite confused, confused enough not to worry about leaving my bike.

I got to Dorking and met up with the other cyclists one of whom had ridden the few miles pushing my bike. In the Cafe warm sweet tea while I waited to be rescued.

Now I'm home and still not feeling right I'm reasonably sure it was not the cold but instead something I drank. I had stupidly not cleaned the brand new water bottle I was using before using it.

Big thank you to the anonymous driver who lifted me to Dorking.

Sunday Mar 22, 2009

Summer bike ride

Why is it that riding a bike that is lighter, more aerodynamic, has better gears & brakes and does not have a generator on the front wheel leaves me more knackered than riding my winter bike. I know, it just wants to go fast so you end up thrashing the engine which is the same one as on all my bikes.

Today I had to be back by 10 so I only had time for a short ride.

58km and an average of 26.2km/h. This includes all stops as the computer on my summer bike is awaiting three, yes three new batteries, I should have stuck to wired computers. So all from the GPS.

Saturday Mar 21, 2009

Summer bike back on the road

I've just completed one of the best jobs of spring. Putting my summer bike back on the road. This year it has the obligatory new chain and cassette (I ended up splashing for the Record cassette as I could not find a Chrous one), new cables and jockey wheels. Here is a top tip if your bikes gears no longer change as positively as they did when new,replace the cables and jockey wheels. I also replaced the G springs and the broken front brake spring.

The things I never thought I would wear out were the bottle cages:


I'm not sure the picure does it justice but almost half the profile of the bars have worn away which has had two effects. The cages no longer hold bottles securely and the aluminium wearing off on my water bottles means they look horrible. So I have new carbon fibre (but thanks to the credit crunch not Campagnolo) cages:


Finally the obligotory new handlebar tape and I'm done. The tyres are still good for a few more miles.

As always even just getting on it to test things are o.k. is a dream compared to my winter bikes. The trouble is it leaves me with no excuses for being slow.

Tuesday Mar 10, 2009

Where do cycle accidents happen?

Now here is a step in the right direction from the Government. They have just published the location of all the injury accidents where pedal cycles were involved for the years 2005-2007.

You can downlown load a spreadsheet that contains them here: http://innovate.direct.gov.uk/2009/03/10/pedalling-some-raw-data/. I now have to work out what to do with them to plot them on a map. I'm still a bit amazed at this openness.

Thursday Feb 26, 2009

Fill that hole RFE

Fill that hole is a web site set up by the CTC for reporting pot holes and road defects so that they can be reported back to the relevant authority. You don't have to be a cyclist to use it and all road users benefit from it's actions.


I Just put this suggestion on the http://www.fillthathole.org.uk site:


You should look at getting a twitter feed that can report holes when a certain tag is used.

A phone with a camera, GPS and network link could be used to report holes accurately with supporting evidence from the side of the road.

Also apps for the various smart phones to do the same would be good. I would love to be able to use my Nokia E71 to snap a photo of a hole and then just upload it. The phone has GPS so it really should not involve any extra work.

The next level of having the camera watch the road and automatically recognise holes look them up in the database of known defects and report new one. Possibly over engineering the solution a bit there;-)

Saturday Jan 31, 2009

Risks from cyclists

If you were to believe the papers you would think there was a huge problem cyclists endangering pedestrians. Whether it is cyclists jumping traffic lights or cyclists on the pavement. However llike so many things the truth of the matter is very different. While pavement cyclists and red light jumping should not be condoned the danger it represents is wildly overstated. As a pedestrian or any other road user the the dangers are motor vehicles.

As can be seen from the answer given by the secretary of state for Transport:

Jim Fitzpatrick: The numbers of pedestrians that were (a) injured, (b) seriously injured and (c) killed in collisions with (i) cars (ii) all motor vehicles and (iii) cyclists in reported personal injury road accidents in each of the last 10 years are given in the table:

Number of casualties

 

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Cars











All injured

37367

35054

34199

32955

31490

29276

28116

26680

24963

24169

Serious

8063

7451

7161

6828

6496

5886

5552

5251

5236

5064

Killed

673

608

590

531

534

533

462

470

471

433












All motor vehicles











All injured

43621

41598

40783

39431

37734

35337

33931

32290

30060

29297

Serious

9492

8876

8559

8169

7801

7109

6746

6389

6322

6224

Killed

904

863

851

825

770

767

669

666

672

642












Pedal Cyclists











All injured

309

346

291

258

205

255

235

276

223

225

Serious

72

70

66

60

47

45

49

61

47

48

Killed

2

5

3

0

4

4

1

3

3

4

1. All injured includes seriously injured and slightly injured casualties.



So if you percieve you are in danger from cyclists, watch out for the cars.

Original data here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090126/text/90126w0003.htm#column_14W

Sunday Jan 11, 2009

Replacing Bike springs

It is almost five years since I replaced the original G springs on my right hand ergo lever. Over the summer I had noticed the shifting was deteriating so I proactively ordered a new pair of springs from Sigma Sport along with the new spring for my front brake. After taking apart the ergo lever the old springs were still intact unlike last time but were noticibly less springy than the new ones and so were replaced. It seems the life expectancy is five years or 20,000 miles.

Replaceing the spring in the front brake was quite simple. I was amazed to discover that there are small ball races for the barings on both the pivots however given the price of Campagnolo Record brakes I should not have been.

The bike is still not back on the road as a new chain has to be purchased and in these credit crunch times I'm holding off to see whether to get another record cassette or the cheaper chorus one. I don't think I will be getting any bling this time!

Sunday Jan 04, 2009

Too Cold

When your water bottle freezes while out cycling it is too cold. It was one of those days when as I cycled to the meeting point I hoped no one else had bothered to turn up so I could quietly return to a nice warm bed. Alas even though one of the other riders was thinking the same thing four people turned up so there was no returning to bed.

As we climbed up White Down my hands actually warmed enough to sweat and as we shot down into Dorking the cold froze my hands and face and my hands never recovered. I've not had such cold hands for years. Hardly surprising when ice can form in a water bottle while out for a ride. Even now as I type this hours later they are still feeling odd. However a few hours and some cups of tea and I no longer regret the ride.

Only 65 1/2 km we were home before 11 but did not stop for breakfast.

Sunday Dec 28, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Back in the saddle with my extended stomach after too much food over the holidays. Despite the cold, and it was cold, we had five riders out out this morning's ride. Out over Polesden Lacy and up the Zig Zags, which being a private road were untreated and therefore icy. All in all a very pleasant ride.

38 miles but very slow.

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This is the old blog of Chris Gerhard. It has mostly moved to http://chrisgerhard.wordpress.com

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