25 April 2007

Repair or replace?

For the second time this year, last night I went to the bike rack, ready to go home in a hurry, only to discover my bike had a puncture. Inspection of the tyre quickly revealed a tiny and sharp piece of glass.

I always carry a spare tube with me. Trouble is, I never repair them afterwards. I have tried, but without success - so I take the easy and safe route of just slapping on a new tube every time.


24 April 2007


I was being given a lift today, to Whitefield tram station (long story: bike at the workshop, three spokes needed fixing overnight, etc). In my hurry to get out of the car while the traffic lights were at red, I swang the door open without looking... and heard the distinctive sound of knobbly mountain bike tyres with disc brakes on wet tarmac. In what seemed an eternity the chap managed to stop, just.

To the unkown cyclist: I apologise for this. I commend your relative politeness given the circumstances - no expletives were used, no shouting. I fully understand how you must have felt. I'm glad you had quick reflexes and stopped in time. I hope I am that lucky when my turn comes.

I hope to do better next time.

20 April 2007

Nuts and bolts

When I retire, I plan to spend a day picking up all the bits of scrap metal that, ignored by motorists but very visible to the cyclist, litter the kerbs of the streets and roads of Manchester - especially the main ones.

Motorway roundabouts (like J17 of the M60 in Prestwich) and busy intersections like New Bridge St and Cheetham Hill Rd, near Manchester Victoria Station, are full of the stuff. Nails, bolts, nuts, hooks, pins, the odd bit of someone's old car. Once I even spotted a carefully rolled length of rope, complete with hook at the end. I wish I'd stopped to collect it as it looked pristine that morning. The following morning it had been thoroughly trampled on by passing traffic, and even now - months later - you can spot the odd bit of rope lying around that junction.

19 April 2007

Someone else's bikes...

My neighbour's uncle, a single man in his late 50s or early 60s, passed away after a short illness. He was a keen cyclist, and left his bikes and gear to my neighbour - who has no immediate use for them. He asked me if I wanted them, but sadly I do not have the space to keep them, and I'd hate to see them rot in the back garden. I kept a bag of tools for myself, but as for the bikes, all I could do was find a home for them among work colleagues.

It always takes longer than expected. Finally, after a month, today I drove into work with the two bikes in my boot, the front quick-release wheels removed. One is a classic racer with fancy pedals. The other one is a Harry Hall touring bike with a funny, very short and straight handlebar. Both are in pretty good nick, save for the tyres which have suffered and will need replacing. They must be 20 to 25 years old, with gear levers down on the frame rather than on the ends of the handlebars. Leather seats. Beauties.

17 April 2007

Family ride

Slowly but surely we are getting into family cycling. We took advantage of a visit to my wife's Dad in Rugby to complete our set of bikes with my late Mother-in-law's one, a beautiful white lady's Raleigh, a real classic. We borrowed it and hit the disused rail track, or used a very good, segregated cycle path to Dunchurch - both reasonably easy rides so we could all keep together, including Luke (aged six) in his little bmx. We even did a bit of a country ride, with my father-in-law rather than my wife, though we had to split so my brother-in-law and his son could do a longer version. In glorious weather, it was all good fun. The only problem, for an overprotective parent like myself, was that in these supposedly quiet country lanes one realises how affluent little Rugby and its environs is - plenty of people driving sports cars around, some in a rather reckless way.