Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Winter blues

As the weather gets colder, it is all too easy to forget riding a bike.

For some it is....

For me, there's nothing quite like a crisp morning ride to get warmed through. With temps hovering around zero, it is watching for ice, not the cold that is the main problem.

Last Sunday I met a few people for lunch in Pocklington, and I rode there with a bloke called Damian from Beverley. It was his first proper ride since getting his new bike. We rode a lumpy route there, but on the way back I got him to ride up a big hill to get the climbing out of the way. We were then treated to 6-8 miles of downhill and gentle rolling hills instead of a constant 14 miles of up and down by reversing the earlier route.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

New film out

Brilliant film by the bikedarlington blog team.


How's the @rse doing?

When I first started really riding lots of miles 4 or 5 years ago, I used to get a bit of a sore bum. The last 2 seasons have been the highest mileage-wise, but no real problems. Even so, I decided to buy a Brooks saddle (B17), and have done about 30 miles on it so far.

My initial thoughts are good. The 'load' seems to be spread over a wider area, thereby reducing pressure 'hot spots'.

My only gripe is I tend to slide forwards a bit, but am putting that down to 'newness'. I have moved the seat forward a few mm on the rail, so time will tell.

I did tilt it back one notch on the seat post, but that instantly put pressure (that I did NOT enjoy) on my gentleman's selection, so I tilted it forwards again.

Windy autumnal ride

Well, didn't manage to convince Mandie to come for a ride, so did a 22 mile pootle around the lanes.

3 cars over took me on the first 21.75 miles of the route, and 6 overtook me on the last 1/4 mile stretch!???

Set the self-timer, press the shutter, run back to the bike and pose.....

.......it's a pity about the focus?

I always think this area looks like the fields of Flanders? This spot is about 2.5 miles from home, and is what call my 'private' training ground.

Summer ride

I found this short video of me pulling Roisin along in her trailer. It is on the back roads near Tophill Low nature reserve in East Yorkshire

Not a car in sight, no lycra in sight, no helmets in sight, no hi-viz (nanny-state, risk-assessed) tabbards in sight.

This is the essence of cycling to me.

Happy Halloween

As this was Roisin's second Halloween, and the first that she would have an idea what was going on, instead of last year's 6 month old gurglings, I decided to get a bit arty/crafty and make her a lantern.

I ended up doing two.

Sorry for the late post, but just found the pics.

Job done....

Well, if I can de-grime my bike, then anyone can do it. A big bucket of (hot) soapy water, a big brush and a dollop of patience.

Picture proof to follow for all non-believers.

Makes me want to ride it now.

Have almost talked Mandie to go for a ride to a local garden centre that has a lovely cafe with a wood-burner blazing away.

A nice big mug of hot cocolate beckons.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Cleaning time

This weekend the bikes get a thorough clean up. The racer will be de-grimed and put away for the winter, and my commuter hack/tourer will be polished to get it ready for winter. I will also get out the turbo trainer so on the odd days I don't ride outside, I will do an hour or so inside to keep the fitness going.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Bums on seats daahlings.......

Got me a new Brooks saddle:


Done 2.5 miles on it so far, will keep you informed as to how it beds in.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Mmmmm it's getting cold out there...

So, as I scraped a thin layer of ice off my car this morning before going to work (don't worry I returned to use the bike this afternoon) I thought, 'The roads will be slippy, better take care'.

Obviously such risk assessing didn't take place in the mind of the driver of the small silver Citroen I saw in the hedge bottom a mile down the road. It looked like it had rolled and every panel had a 'textured' look to it. There was an abundance of 'police aware' tape on it so I carried on.

Just before I finished work I could hear all manner of sirens out of the window.

"What's going on?" I asked our driver, just pulling into the yard.

"There's a car on it's roof just out of the village", he replied

I rode a slightly different route home on my detour route to get miles in, and could see over the fields that the crash was in the same place as the one that morning.

Well, at least that's two of them that might now give icy conditions a little more heed?

Hope springs eternal.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Operation: Rescue Kipper

My 18 month old daughter, Roisin, has a little stuffed toy dog called Kipper. Last night we went out to the local town's bonfire and firework display (which Roisin slept through!!) and, unbeknownst to us, Kipper fell out of the pram somewhere twixt the car and the bonfire.

Mandie realised this morning when we couldn't find Kipper. All Roisin's other toys were there; Hartley Rabbit, Phillip Dog, Bugsy, PG Monkey and Dongle Rabbit, but alas no Kipper.

I then set off on my bike to get to the showground to try and find Kipper. It was a cold but clear morning, and the legs took a little warming up, but a mile or so in and I was like toast. Hot, sweaty, red-faced and out-of-breath toast maybe, but toast non-the-less. The 5 miles to the showground where we parked the car passed by in a blur, and I made my way the the spot we parked the car the night before.

Blinking into the strong early morning sunshine, I scanned the area where we parked the car the night before.

There, with his little beige legs stuck up out of the grass, was kipper, not damaged at all, and just a little damp to the touch due to the overnight mist and light rain.

A quick hurried phone call to Mandie to let her know I'd found Kipper, before jumping back onto the bike, and riding a longer way home for a cheeky 'training session'.

I got home and presented Roisin with Kipper.

At this point the story really needs a description of the teary face of joy and squeals of delight when she was re-united with Kipper.

Sadly this was not to be. Roisin duly threw him on the floor and carried on riping pages out of a magazine spread on the floor.

Was the ride worth it?

Too right.

She got Kipper, but I got another 22 miles in the bank!!

Friday, 6 November 2009

R.I.P. Chris Benn

Possibly the nicest bloke I have every met. He was a real down to earth bloke that loved a pint on a Friday night, and loved motorbikes, a passion we shared. I don't wish to dwell over his passing - suffice to say he was robbed of his life.


I will always remember with affection how, for a small bloke, he could drink me under the table. Also, the last time I was ill through drink it was due to (unsuccessfully) trying to keep up with Chris.

So many happy memories. Cheers mate.

His parting shot as we went to our respective abodes after our Friday night 'sessions' was a quote from his favourite film, Mad Max: "See you on the road, Skag"

Well, it is with a heavy heart that I am sat here now, on a Friday, looking at his picture and pulling a teary smile - "Yeah mate, see you on the road"

It's raining again

And you know what? I couldn't give a monkey's.

I rode away from work this afternoon and came to a junction. Go straight on and my (dry, warm, cosy) house and sofa are 2 miles away.

Turn right and I can do a detour.

Well, I didn't go stright on, despite the rain.

I turned right and did 21 miles, and loved EVERY wet minute of it, because I can feel myself getting fitter with every pedal revolution.

Yee haa.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Double take....

That's what people at work are doing now.

They know I ride my bike as much as I can, but are seemingly surprised to see me ride on all directions of roads to and from work.

I do this to add miles onto the commute and to stop it getting stale, but they think my 'normal' 2.5 mile commute is 'extreme', so when I say I did a quick 15 miles before work, they think I'm crazy!

I think they're mad paying the taxman 40-50 pounds a week in petrol when they can easily do some of their journeys on a bike?

Who knows?

Monday, 2 November 2009

So good I did it twice....

........my commute, that is.

Well, not exactly. I rode the normal 2 1/2 miles to work this morning, and left just before 5 to come home. I detoured on the way home and got 14 miles in total. I felt quite up for it again after I'd had my tea, so went out and rode it again, in the dark with only barn owls for company.

Beautiful moonlit night for a ride in the country lanes.

28 miles total for the day.


Me is happy.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Nice long ride

Went out yesterday for a nice long ride. Rode south towards the Humber Bridge, then followed the river (and Sustrans route 65) west towards Selby. I then followed the 65 north to York along the Solar system bike path. At York I turned east to Stamford Bridge, then onto Pocklington before climbing up through Millington to Huggate and then home. Little tired, but a good hot 95 miler. Chuffed.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Too close for comfort.

On my way home I approached a junction where I turn right. To describe the road, it is a single carriageway 30mph limit downhill approach, bending to the left with a T junction to the right.

As I rode down the hill into the 30 limit there was no traffic behind me. I signal right and move to the centre of the road (hatched markings) opposite the junction. There are a few cars travelling towards the junction from the opposite direction, and turning left (up a slip road without indicating).

As they are doing this I cannot turn right for fear of getting collected by one that might actually be carrying on on the road I am on.

As I am there I see an artic coming towards me and the junction. Most cars that have passed could have slowed down and allowed me to cross, but didn't. As this truck approached I saw the last thing I wanted to see, an artic approaching from behind. I was now stood astride my bike, arm outstretched to the right, rear lights flashing, bright cycle clothing and in daylight, and worst of all, smack bang in the middle of the hatching. The two trucks basically passed me simultaneously. I was in the 4-5 foot gap between them.

I know I could have stopped to the left, and cross the road as a pedestrian, but in my village vehicles do not stop to allow people to cross. If they see you edging for a gap they accelerate to close it, leaving you stood at the side of the road for up to 10 to 15 minutes before a sufficient break in the traffic (both ways) allows you to cross.

I have no problem with people driving through my village, but surely a competent and safety conscious driver would see a vulnerable lump of flesh stuck in the middle of the road, and think to let them cross?

causes of this:
a) my impatience to turn right, and poor road positioning, I should have held up the traffic behind by being in primary. (as I approached there were no vehicles behind me for 500m)
b) selfish, speeding drivers turning left off the main road with no indication, making it impossible for me to make the turn.
c) drivers with no regard to their surrounding (village, built up area, vulnerable road users wanting to cross)
d) trucks that could have stopped to create a safe opportunity for me to do the turn, instead of making me possibly the most scared person in East Yorkshire for 5 seconds.

I know I did something wrong, and in future will turn right sooner, hold traffic up behind to do it, and walk along the verge to cross the junction.

But, and this is where you come in, what should I have done, what would you do?


My own are mixtures of my anger at my own stupid impatience and anger at the selfish twots blindly turning left up the slip road at speed (in a 30) with no indication. They always do it, and cannot see what a consequence of their inaction could be. Also, was it really necessary for two 38ton artics to basically sandwich a cyclist in the middle of a road, just to save the 5-10 seconds of journey time it would cost them to allow me to cross?

Friday, 18 September 2009

A new use for Ski Jumps



Slip, sliding away.


I do hope this is not fake, because it appeals to my adventure sports orientated background.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


Can someone please tell me what the point of having them is, if no-one uses them?

I regularly see people driving along, braking and just turning into junctions, across traffic, and plain stopping at the side of the road with no indication what so ever.

I wonder why this is? I assume they have a driving license, so have had to pass a test which would require them to indicate. I think it is both selfish, and also indicative of a total ignorance to their surroundings.

I had one last night - negotiated a right turn and 2 roundabouts with no indicators, so I over took it as it was going slowly (45 in a 60). In the next village it caught me up (speeding - 40 in a 30) and I guessed it would be going the same way as me (due to its general direction so far).

So instead of indicating at the junction I just braked and turned left. The driver of the car behind did the same - no indication, but blew its horn at me, over took and flashed its indicators on and off - as if to tell me to indicate!!

Mmmm. It's ok for you to drive around like the new recruit to MI6 secret service, but as soon as someone doesn't indicate you don't like it?

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Next year's holiday being planned.

And drum roll.........................drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

It is Holland.

Whilst my beer swillling, pink, bloated-bellied contrymen are jetting to Spain to indulge in a weeks alcoholism to wash down 'Full English' breakfasts, I am riding round Holland. I think Late April will be the date, to coincide with the tulip fields blooming. I hope to ride from Hoek Van Holland north, over the Afsluitdijk, through the cow pastured Drenthe region. I hope to go to Assen, a town I visited a number of times on my motorbike. Pop in to visit my dutch colleagues in Almere. And to visit Gouda, but other than that I am open to suggestions, and am there for about 5 days, so hope to see plenty.

What was she thinking?


A demonstration of the attitude towards cyclists in this country. The woman hit the cyclist, then said he was at fault for being there????

I am sure people in Holland would cringe at this.

BTW, it's not me in the video but, given the roads I ride on and the speed of vehicles, a clip with a wing mirror would kill me.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go....

My work hack. I call him Asthma, bacause of the wheezing sounds I make when riding him.

My daily commute starts around 7. From the end of my road I have to join a large road, which immediately joins a main road at a T junction. The village has a blanket 30mph limit, but is frequently exceeded by early morning cagers.

As you can see here, the traffic is coming towards me, and the van, true to form, turns left up the slip road off the main road and past my road end - at speed with a last second indication. That point is about 50m away, and at 30mph the van would pass in about 3 seconds. He passed in less than 2, a speed I roughly work out to be 45mph. Add to that the fact few drivers indicate this left turn, makes exiting my road a lottery on a bike, and at busy times I have been stood there for 5-10 minutes waiting for a lemming to have the good grace to allow me to traverse the junction.

Once out, I turn left onto the main road and straight into a hill, but I take it easy as I am not warmed up.

With the hill out of the way the road opens up slightly and visibility improves, and with it cagers feel the need for speed.

For once the overtakes weren't bad, but it highlights the proximity of a very vulnerable road user to high speed traffic. It also (for any hindsight enriched traffic planners) shows the ample amount of room to either side of the road for a dedicated cycle path.

The gratuitous 'shadow' shot.

Just over a shallow rise there is a dip in the road with a left hand kink with trees either side reducing visibility. I have witnessed cars and vans overtaking artic trucks through here - with NO VISIBILITY. Mark my words, there WILL be a fatal head on collision here one day, and the local papers and authorties will be asking, "How could such a thing happen?"

Well, I wonder?

I decided to film this bit, and show what traffic is like through the dip/bend.

With the dip out of the way there is a hill into the village I work in to contend with.

If I time it wrong, I get to the village when workers at local factory have a smoke break, and the stench of their smoke drifts into my path as their smoking area is so close to the road. Really nice when gasping for air after the climb up the hill.

Into the village, a bollard in the middle of the road acts as a pinch point, 3 cars in the last year have been overtaking me here, and ended up playing 'Alloy Wheel Ping-Pong' on the kerbing. All because they can't wait 5 seconds.

As a final test, a climb up the hill through the village towards my work gets me nice and warm just before I stop. This morning a car coming towards me did the 250 metres from the 30mph sign (in the distance) entering the village to my works drive in less than 10 seconds, it should have taken 15 or so.I was going to turn right, but their speeding in a residential area (past a primary school) meant I had to wait. The sooner a blanket 20mph is put in place country-wide in residential areas, and rigourously enforced - the better.

And here's the view for the final climb up the drive.

Edit: I have just seen how blurred the pics are; I was riding at the time, so couldn't give them the full David Bailey treatment, and didn't want to stop and be late for work.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Mathematics, cyclist styleee

Quick question.

You live at point A and want to travel to point B.

Point A is 18 miles from Point B.

What is the sum total of a return trip?

A) 36 miles
B) 51 miles

Answer A is correct if you drive a car.

Answer B is correct if you ride a bike and follow a Sustrans route.

I rode along route 1 through Beverley to Kingston Upon Hull, but gave up south of Beverley when the route turned west and I still wanted to go south. I actually humoured the route for a mile or so, but when it turned north back towards Beverley at one point, I U turned and found my own way - albeit with more traffic.

Sustrans means sustainable transport doesn't it?

Wouldn't it be better for cyclists to be given the shortest route, and make cars go the long way round?

Is it me, or does it fly in the face of the whole ethos of sustainable transport, by deliberately making a cyclist's journey longer? (in this case almost 50%)

Clipper Race 2009

Just been to Kingston Upon Hull to watch the start of the 2009-10 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. By Car it would have been a 36 mile round trip. Due to trying to avoid the busiest (dangerous) roads I ended up doing a 51 mile round trip.

My MD is on board the Hull & Humber yacht, read all about them here:

All the best folks, bon voyage and have a whale of a time. Anyone fancies checking out their progress, then here's the linky-bit:

Friday, 11 September 2009

Why and how?

Why do I ride, and how do I ride?

I ride for a number of reasons.

Predominantly for fitness. I have been regularly cycling for the past 5 years after almost 20 years of slobby inactivity. Just to put the record stright though, in that time I was riding sports motorbikes, skydiving, gliding, surfing, and climbing. I was active, just doing nothing that picked up the heart rate.

I cycle to give myself a hobby, something to do to keep me out of trouble.

I also do it to save money. My commuting fuel bill was about £15 - £20 a week. Since August 2008 I have put about £60 in the car - just over £1 a week. I have gone from a fuel bill of between £750 - £1000 per year to about £52 a year. I am now looking to sell my car and organise my life without one.

I suppose I also do it to be bloody minded, as I work with colleagues who poke fun at me for riding, so I like to prove them wrong that it can be done.

How I do it is a different kettle of fish. I ride defensively 95% of the time, ever watchful for the next cager to give me a 6 inch flypast at 60, or for the dreaded moment when I wonder if the artic rapidly approaching has actually seen me?

Only 3% of my rides (almost 3000 miles this year) have been what I could call enjoyable. Those 90 miles (3%) have been on cycle paths off the road, dedicated traffic free zones, where I felt I could relax and enjoy the sport I love.

And that is from a keen cyclist. No wonder it is so hard to convert people, when a regular cyclist spends more time watching his back, than appreciating the ride.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Sky Ride

This is a venture by British Cycling and the broadcaster SKY http://new.britishcycling.org.uk/skyride/news/article/20090528-sky-city-ride-Sky-City-Rides-0

I went on one in Leicester, and have a few observations to make.

As a 'serious' cyclist I found it was too slow, and even with me dawdling, I was travelling too fast for the situation, so I kicked back and chilled.

Then there were the 'free reflective bibs' being handed out, and encouraged to wear by the bloke on the PA. The course was on closed roads, one way, with other cyclists taking part as the only traffic. I rebelled and didn't wear one, as I thought it was a bit too 'nanny state' and 'risk assessed' for my liking.

Then there was the helmet issue. Almost every man, woman, child and dog was wearing one. Personally, I do wear one when screaming downhill on my racer or in heavy urban traffic. I don't when dawdling along a country lane (99% of my journeys by bike), and didn't on the SKYRIDE, much to the consternation of some officials, and the PA man, whose regular, "Get your free reflective vest and wear a helmet" announcements tarnished the spontonaeity of the event for me.

As I had to travel to Leicester to take part, the 140 miles had to be done by car, and the approach to the venue in Leicester, early on a Sunday, was backed up with traffic. I could see people getting frustrated, and then to realise it was because of bikes that they were being held up can't have warmed them to the biking culture, as is the whole ethos behind a SKYRIDE.

I believe the events are just a promotional gimmick for SKY and British Cycling to promote their brand, and nothing to do with getting cycling increased as a mode of transport.

The only way in my opinion to do that is to invest in cycling infrastructure, and make the 3 mile drive into the city an expensive, time consuming and un-economic option.

Sustrans and their national network of cycle routes (a few old railway lines and some stickers on road signs on country roads is not enough. We (the people and the planet) demand good quality cycle paths away from traffic.

As other bloggers have stated, give them the facilities and they will come.

Coning off a city centre once ayear on a summer Sunday is NOT good enough to get people cycling.

Why pay more?

Last week I had a landscape gardener do a bit of bush trimming. I then had to pay him, but he said anytime. I rode to his house tonight to pay him, and he was shocked to hear a) I had ridden 11 miles to get to his house, b) I was going to ride 11 more to get home, and c) I didn't want to waste fuel driving a car (and costing more money) when I could happily and safely do the same journey by bike.

We have a hard core of bikers in this country, but given the state of the economy, it won't be long before more people wake up to the wastefulness of today's society, and make some changes in their lives.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Oasis split up.


A lot of people were upset about the recent Oasis split, not least of them Hitler.

The subtitles might be NSFW.

It's getting a bit cooler in the mornings

There was condensation on my breath as I toiled up the hill out of my village this morning. Nevermind, I was warm by the top, and cruised to work no problems. It was lovely riding home too, in the bright sunshine and blue skies.

Schools ban the 'School run'

Well, it would be a good start.

All they have to do is write to all parents living within say a 4 mile radius of the school and tell them they will be no longer welcome to drop children off in a car. The they will have to arrange transport, be it public or shared.

Or even, perish the thought, the kids could cycle in or be ferried in on the coolest bikes in the world:



This will unclog the streets, and will have the infectious effect of showing an upcoming generation the advantage of cycling.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Reasons to be 'fearful' 1


A reason to not want to cycle in this country.

Most appalling in my opinion, the judge seeing fit to lock him up for only 7 1/2 years.

The tarrif in law is 14 years for death by dangerous driving. What mitigating circumstances did the judge take into consideration in his awarding of such a lenient sentence?

Well, let's see.........the driver was drunk, and also did a 'hit & run'. He did return to the scene with clothing soiled by the victim's body tissue, and he told the police it was tree sap.

Is it just me, but surely those are aggravating circumstances, that would justify locking him up for the full 14 years at the judges disposal?

Car free

I am toying with the idea of going car free.

As a family we have two cars. Mandie has a Vauxhall Signum, and I have a Smart Car. I work 2.5 miles from home, so cycling there is not a problem, and I do ride 3/4 days a week year round, just need to pop home on the odd day, so I use the car to speed up the trip (rural). I have good wet-weather gear, and am physically up to the task.

Mandie works 6 miles away, and has to drop our daughter Roisin off at nursery 3 miles in the opposite direction. Her day therefore is a 24 mile rural commute. There are no buses, trains or other people to car-share with.

Shopping-wise, our local big shopping centres are either 20 or 30 miles away, with a small town 6 miles away for most of the grocery-type stuff - although this is a 22 mile round trip on a bike as I try to avoid all the main roads.

I think we can justify Mandie's car, but I am struggling to justify keeping mine.

If I sold it I would have a nice little pot to spend on the family, no insurance to pay, no VED, and best of all no petrol to buy (I spend about £10 every 6 weeks or so).

Mmmmm, now do I go for it?

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Curious mindset 3 - Prime Directive

A few weeks ago I had a prat in a 4x4 pulling a caravan overtake me coming through my village. I was doing 30, in a 30 and he crept by, but couldn't get by quick enough for the oncoming traffic, so pulled back in pushing me to the kerb. I punched the side of the caravan and screamed at him. Needless to say he carried on regardless, and by the time I got my composure back to get his reg, another car overtook, pulled in behind the caravan and blocked my view. The car that overtook second gave me PLENTY of room, having seen me hit the caravan and scream blue murder at the driver.

Prime directive - got to get past the cyclist at all costs, even if they are doing the speed limit.

Curious mindset 2

Just got in from a lovely 17 miles in the countryside. Pulling the Spokey Joe trailer with my daughter Roisin in, partner Mandie riding her own bike. Quiet roads, hardly any traffic, in fact only 6 or so cars passed us, so I would count that as quiet. We went to a local farm shop for ice cream and to get some bread and milk. I was the last customer in the shop, and as I walked out I heard a woman say to an older woman, "That can't be safe, the little one in the trailer, bless her..?

Not being the most confrontational person I let it slide. Not 5 minutes later the aforementioned women left the shop with a little girl. They got into a van (no back seats) the little girl on the passenger's lap (no seat belt) and drove off.

Was the irony lost on everyone but me?

Curious mindset...?

I rode into town the other day to pick some stuff up. I got into a conversation with a woman I know. She'd driven the 3/4 mile into town and was looking for a parking place. I had riden 11 miles, with another 10 to go to my dad's house, before 10 miles home. She said she wouldn't bike because it was dangerous on the road. When I pointed out that, if more people did more journeys with bikes in town instead of using the car, there would be less cars/traffic/danger. To this (with no hesitation), she said, "Why should I give my car up, ride a bike and reduce congestion just so someone else can get a quicker journey by car?"

Turning Japane..... Dutch

I don't envy anyone.

I have all I could wish for.

Loving partner, beautiful daughter, psychopathic dog, productive chickens, and a nice house in the country.

What I don't have, is something that is easily rectified: roads like the dutch, or more to the point, cyclepaths like the Dutch.



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