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?

Thoughts?

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

Jeeeeez!!!!!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyNhn4YOPvo

Slip, sliding away.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBvUBQWK0w4

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

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Indicators

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?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxnZxFd3O50

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.







video 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?

videoI 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:
http://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/hullandhumber/index.php/Home

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:
http://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/index.php/Follow/RaceViewer

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6IyGAvbOs4

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKF8-RyQn94

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvMiXtB09YQ&feature=related

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

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/8242631.stm

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abGkTuLstu8

Bonjour

Just a quick hello and welcome to my blog