17 December 2008
All my possible exits from town are shopping areas (Deansgate, Shudehill, King St / Corporation St). People come out of shops laden with bags and boxes, and they just go for it. I have to be constantly on my toes - it all slows me down.
Reaching Great Ducie St is such a relief - at least then all I have to contend with is motorists.
08 December 2008
Welcome to our second C2C preparatory ride: we chose what may well turn out to be the coldest morning of the year. Initially, thick fog seemed would be our main problem. Think again. After my mates jettisoned my sensible suggestion to go to Peel Tower and back, and opted to repeat the route we used last time - the one I found muddy and difficult for my city-leaning hybrid bike (and my definite road-cycling preference). The moment we left the road and headed down to the cobblestoned canal towpath in Radclife I knew there'd be trouble. True enough, going down a ramp I hit a sheet of ice and fell - nothing major, but did find back at home I had a small gash on the left knee. Minutes later it was the other C2C veteran, Ian, who fell heavily on his side - the trouble is, when you are on soil, any ice breaks under your weight and you are mostly OK, but ocassionally you run over a concrete slab covered in a perfect sheet of ice.
25 November 2008
The other day, cycling in the rain down a long, quiet road, I noticed that the water made a 'line' that, when going in a straight direction, would be fully aligned with the centre of the wheel (see picture, Fig.A). Then I noticed that when I made small adjustments, little turns of the handle bar, the water line didn't follow the direction of the wheel - it stayed in its previous position, like a gyroscopic compass pointing to the true North.
I tried asking my more scientifically trained school friends of all for their input. All I got were recommendations to watch the road and comments about age finally getting to me. How disappointed Galileo would be...
17 November 2008
Things have moved on quite a bit since the picture included here - so it was high time to widen his horizons... a little. We went to St Mary's park in Prestwich, then (after the obligatory play on the climbing walls and spider webs) crossed the A56 and went into Prestwich Clough. It was muddy and bumpy, but the afternoon was clear and sunny in that November way, the paths lined thick with golden leaves and flanked by mighty trees and the somber tombstones of a cemetery. Plenty of people about though, so no chance to stop for a much needed 'wee'.
This was me capitalising on the pre-C2C bike ride of three weeks ago, when I first cycled that way, so I had hoped to make it to Radcliffe. Sadly, it was getting dark (and cold) so we bailed out at Clifton Rd and back to Prestwich, more or less completing a circle.
My boy was exhilarated - the world just got bigger! Cold and hungry, but happy. Same with me. Worth every mile.
04 November 2008
I didn't take a camera on this first ride - nor was the day a good one for photos. Three of us went to Radcliffe, first down the cobblestoned canal path (I suffered - had just had my bike serviced and parts changed for £78!) then along a muddy cycle path (suffered some more - now I need to clean it to prevent rust and another £78 bill!) and down Route 6 to Prestwich, then back home on normal roads. Couple of hours, good fun, it worked well as a way of getting re-acquainted with touring cycling.
There is, of course, much bread to slice from here to May 09 - logistics, transport, accommodation, which the size of the group makes into a more complex enterprise. More about this in due course.
26 October 2008
Let's face it: I am not very good at maintaining my bike. I clean it every now and then - far less often than I really should. I lubricate what is visible, but the invisible stuff I just daren't tamper with. And twice a year I take it to be serviced, placing it in the hands of competent bike mechanics in the hope they'll be able to undo months of neglect.
Well, next week I shall be doing just that. Yesterday as I hurried home to prepare for the weekend (it's half-term this week, we are visiting my father-in-law) I noticed my wheel has buckled a bit - it is wobbling and needs attention. Just over a year ago I was having to get the wheel trued as spokes kept breaking. A new wheel put that right and I hadn't had any trouble... until now. It cost me 50% of the original bike value (it's a cheap one).
Then, back in April this year, as I prepared for the Coast to Coast, the service had to include a complete replacement of the chain, chainrings, cassette, the works. It cost me as much as I'd paid for the original bike - and it really felt like new.
Anyway, this wednesday I shall be making my way to the shop again, getting the bike ready for the winter.
22 October 2008
View Larger Map
There was I, at the traffic lights, a miserable morning as miserable as they come, rain and low temperatures, fingers numb, feet soaked in shoes I must soon change - you know the score, I've moaned about it before. But the discovery of this light cheered me up a bit - something for nothing! Unless it belongs to you, reader, in which case do feel free to reclaim it (you just have to tell me what colour and shape the casing is).
14 October 2008
View Larger Map
That was it. For one of these little thugs spoiling for a fight, that was enough pretext to chase me to the next set of traffic lights. I saw him coming but my reaction was not to run away. The pillock got to me. I got down from the bike and placed it between me and him. I wanted to avoid a fight - all the self-defense books will tell you that is the best course of action, especially with a teenager as (a) they may be carrying a knife and (b) even if you prevail, their under-age status will make things difficult for you. So, I went by the book - open hands in front, conciliatory language, stand your ground. The whole thing was over in the time it took for the lights to change to green - the teenager left muttering further abuse, and I was left, shaken - but free to continue my journey.
On the plus side, the incident put a spring in my step, so to speak - I did good time, uphill to my home. On the other hand, I am annoyed, angry, pissed off. Part of me knows I did the right thing - but the other half feels it was unfair, that a little shit got away with it, will be bragging to his lumpen, redneck friends about how he managed to 'scare' a grown man.
Either way, I will be looking over my shoulder for a while. Perhaps I should vary my route out of the city centre - or perhaps I should say 'bollocks' to it and stick to my guns? For to give in to fear is to lose twice.
06 October 2008
I pass one such building this morning. Employees in cheap suits and Primark skirts file out, merry in conversation, some lighting up a fag as soon as they can see no roof over their heads. Some have coffee paper cups in their hands. Colleagues who were rushing in, thinking they'd be late, slow down and smile as fate, this time, plays them a good card with which to start the day.
03 October 2008
To be continued?
View Larger Map
01 October 2008
She cycles a city-style, proper ladies bike - it used to be a creamy white one, now I've noticed she's upgraded to a black one (or did the other one get nicked?).
She wears no special cycling gear, no helmet. Leather shoes, cords, a quilted coat. I think when it rains she wears a raincoat of some sort. No rush, no silly manouvres around traffic. Down the road she goes, towards Town.
30 September 2008
It's not that it didn't rain in summer - it did. But today the rain drops were icy, for the first time since perhaps March. The road is much noisier when it is raining hard - the cars, their tyres on puddles, the rain, the wind. The journey is much more tiring. The difficult, busy junctions much more intimidating.
Stand fast and take heart, spring will come again to rescue us all.
22 September 2008
A fellow cyclist was stranded on the side of the (internal) road, seemingly struggling with a flat tyre. I offered help ("Yawright, mate?"). Then joined in the struggled, trying to appear knowledgeable but realising that, three years on, I'm still a newbie. But there again, this chap had only bought his bike on Saturday and was already venturing on a 20-mile inaugural journey of self-discovery, all on his tot with a pocket puncture repair kit, mini-pump and naught else.
First I display my knowledge by making his presta valve work ("here, you unscrew the tip like so"). Then I dispell the notion he had that his bike was tube-less ("here, you pull the tube out like so"). Then I manage to identify a whooping big puncture, and repair it... and then I make my big mistake, for I fail to look for any more punctures. We just left the guy to put the tyre back together, and cycled on.
When we cycled back past the spot, 30' later, he was still there, this time assisted by seriously experienced hands who had identified more punctures (we was still polite and grateful, good chap).
Eventually we saw him cycle on his way - I hope he made the 20 miles back home, and I hope he, like I did in my time, felt the satisfaction that comes from realising you've joined a loose but real fraternity - the People of the Pedal, so to speak.
18 September 2008
and are trying to raise awareness of the fact and its possible consequences.
Alas, I fear our weak and timid approach to enforcement will mean any change in behaviour is short lived - a bit like when they started fining drivers for talking on their mobiles.
17 September 2008
It is more common than you think. Reading the paper, texting, doing your eyelashes: the amount of people who think it is OK to do that while driving, albeit slowly. I notice because often these are the drivers who end up encroaching into cycle lanes, drifting into them when they realise they need to move but haven't got all of their mind on the road.
Maybe I should try it on the bike one day - spread my paper out at the traffic light, and watch their reaction.
16 September 2008
A cyclist overtook me yesterday on Heaton Park. As he did so, he jovially mumbled a few words, in that tone the experienced use to address fledgelings like myself. He certainly looked a seasoned cyclist - good but not new road bike, all lycra but no helmet, saddle bag not panniers, cleat pedals, a certain tanned and weathered finish to his skin - the works.
12 September 2008
View Larger Map
Luckily they had almost run out of the stuff, but I still told them off, politely and hoping the light would change soon. They threw the empty can at me.
Then, still annoyed at this, I get to the end of that road, where I turn right into Shudehill to reach Swan/Miller St and go North to Whitefield. As I often do, I positioned myself in the middle, between the lane that must bear right (so I turn on the inside of it, with the traffic) and the lane that must turn left (so they are out of my way and I of theirs). Alas, this cupcake driving a silver SAAB (T393 NEG) had other ideas, or perhaps he has no idea. I could hear him coming down the hill, chav car, engine rev'd, music blasting. He barged into the left lane hoping to make the light as it changed to green and overtake (or rather, under take) the traffic waiting to turn right.
He didn't count on pesky cyclists like moi. More rev'ing of the engine, the pillock actually tried to go further left than me and then cut across, but there just wasn't the room, so he had to get in line, at least until the next traffic light.
11 September 2008
So, I lean forward, apply more leg power to the task, breath purposefully and generally set myself up to perform and give it my best - I attain what I think is my best speed. Just then, another cyclist overtakes me, effortlessly riding past me. In a few seconds he is 100 yards ahead of me. I then try to patch the self-esteem gap ("hey, it's not as if I'm racing him!"). Yes, yes. You and I know only too well that I would have loved to catch up with him - if only I could. The best I could manage was to keep within the same traffic light bracket (now, he did jump red lights!) but after St. Anne's Sq. I really lost him - long may he continue lost.
View Larger Map
09 September 2008
Yesterday I saw another unusually dumb creature on the road. This time, it was a cyclist. Clad in bright yellow helmet (Ok, it's a free country), baggy, oversized jean shorts .... and enormous wellington boots (now, hang on a minute!). Really. I can't imagine a worst way to cycle, unless you are rushing to help people in a mildly flooded area (perhaps he was!). But what irked me the most was that this chap gladly overtook me on my left, at a busy junction - there I was, heeding every seasoned cyclist's advice about positioning yourself well away from the kerb, and this kerbil-gerbil here thought 'oh well' and slipped through!.
And to crown the evening, just then another bloke did it again. This one was dressed incongrously in posh trousers and shirt, with a laptop-type briefcase slung at the back, riding an old racer on too high a gear (ah, newbie) - but, of course, youth made up for his foolishness and he sped ahead of me all the same. Again, he did so on the inside - eventhough I spotted him and tried to close in on to the kerb to let him do it the right way, he wouldn't. Only when I opened up to stop at a traffic light, he took his chances - he was never going to stop at red - and he was off.
Moral of the story? Cyclists, we are our worst enemies, and most of us don't know it. We want to 'encourage' people to cycle more (or so say the self-proclaimed campaigners) but lack both the moral leadership (of good example) and the empathy with our 'target audience' and so achieve very little. Just like squirrels stashing nuts away.
07 September 2008
In October I am planning to put it in for a service, ready for the winter. In the meantime, I've replaced batteries on my LED lights - and next time I will replace the big old lights from my father-in-law, which I like to have as back up.
I'm still wearing shorts, eventhough I've seen other cyclists have began wearing trousers. I'll try to stick to shorts until temperatures fall to single figures. We'll see.
29 August 2008
It was a sedate affair - my bro-in-law doesn't do rushed cycling, there's no pretension of performance, and once I got to Witney I realised that's very much the ethos in Oxfordshire - not only in the city among university students, but in the country among the 'common' folk. Cycling is for everyone, and in their own terms - just a way to get from A to B.
For Luke, his biggest bike ride to date, and something to build on. I was a bit miffed we didn't even break sweat.
View Larger Map
20 August 2008
Ok, it's nothing to do with me - my paltry 140 miles doing the C2C (in 3 days!) are next to nothing compared with the 200 days this chap spent on the road doing an average of 100 miles a day, often overcoming the challenges thrown by difficult environments. But I can't help feeling inspired by his achievement. Time to start planning the next ride!
12 August 2008
Sharing the road with cyclists? Perish the thought.
07 August 2008
16 July 2008
This morning, as I got to the junction of Portland St and Princess St, my eye was caught by two yellow rickshaws, gleaming new in the morning sun and neatly parked outside a building that had been under renovation for a while. Well, both rickshaws belong to a new boutique hotel, the Ying Sang Oriental.
The hotel isn't open yet, and I wonder what role the rickshaws will play. Will they be part of a gimmick, to cycle aimlessly around town so people hear about yet another hotel, after so many have sprung up in the last 10 years? Will they ferry guests to restaurants, shops and other attractions in the city centre? Can they carry me and my luggage to Piccadilly?
Watch, as they say, this space. Let us.
14 July 2008
Of course, the proof of the pudding will be when the shop opens and the traffic these roadworks are a preparation for reveals itself in its full glory.
08 July 2008
and then give it a go - why not?
It was not one vehicle, but a whole host of them: six motorbike outriders, three police Zafiras and, in the middle, a little black car with someone presumably important inside (now idea who).
The funny thing was, one of the outriders got to where I was, ahead of the others, and stopped, then stared at me. Then it clicked: my stopping and waiting, which I thought a good and sensible civic deed, in the eyes of this chap had turned me into a threat - perhaps he thought my water bottle may conceal some explosives or something? Anyway, it all lasted mere seconds, as the motorcade sped up past me and lost themselves into the distance.
27 June 2008
I turned up fashionably late (not entirely my fault) to find that only one other fellow was there - an old hand, let us say, on these rides. So the two of us cycled into town, to meet a handful of other cyclists. I can't help thinking that the impact of the whole activity is negligible. Even the far more successful 'special' critical commute last 18 June (during Bike Week), which gathered larger numbers and had sponsors with tents offering coffee and free bike tagging and water bottles was, relatively speaking, small beer.
Now, considering how much time others spend promoting cycling and campaigning for it, I do not mind at all joining in these rides and trying to get more visibility. I do it in part to make a minute, microscopic contribution to the cause, but also for networking purposes - to get to know other cyclists, pick up a few tips, let off steam with people who understand you, etc. Today though - save for the chap from Prestwich - all the sociable bods with whom I usually end up chatting seemed to be absent, and the group seemed to be made up of the usual 'core' lot of hardened 'campaign' veterans. I'm sure it is not their intention, but I always feel a bit of an 'us and them' atmosphere when they arrive from Chorlton or other South-Manchester locations.
As for the 'campaigning' claim, I have to wonder. Surely 'campaigning' is about taking a target group of people from awareness to persuasion - and yet much of what I hear (in the GMCC discussion list, in their newsletter, at rides like today's) is hollier-than-thou preaching.
Again, I'm very conscious of the fact I do not devote the time to engaging with the campaign - and so I can hardly fault those who do, if like today I feel excluded from their number!
18 June 2008
I just made it - had to drop the car for MOT and service, so had said I would not make it, but did. It was the largest 'Prestwich' group I'd ever seen - 11 souls in total. We ended up not at Albert Sq, but the Peace Gardens, where we were treated to cycling freebies, free coffee and healthy breakfast, free bike security tagging by the Police and other good stuff.
On the other hand, while this is great as positive re-inforcement for existing cyclists, I wonder if this is the best way to promote cycling among non-cyclists. Drivers and pedestrians will just have seen a bunch of cyclists in unusually large numbers, brightly dressed in the rain, dithering at cross-roads and traffic lights over whether to keep together at all costs (eg by jumping lights) or split the group and then wait for the tail to catch up. The freebies, the gathering, the camaraderie of being with other cyclists will be entirely lost on them.
13 June 2008
There's been ups and there's been downs, but mostly I have enjoyed it thoroughly, and hope to continuing doing so for years to come.
09 June 2008
Also, like most British cities outside London, Mcr is too 'flat' and scattered to make public transport cost-effective and sustainable. Cities need to be more densely populated: time to give up the gardens!
As for cycling... it surely is part of the solution. Part - not the whole solution. Integrated public transport holds more of the answer - particularly when it is cycle-friendly too.
05 June 2008
Sadly, I've also seen one of them laying on the road, paramedics tending to him and wheeling the stretcher out of the ambulance, as the habit of jumping red lights finally seemed to have caught up with one of their number.
You've guessed it: bicycle couriers, that's wha'm talkin'ab'ouhp.
They always look so friendly - but hey, only to each other. The rest of us, the bikommuters and hybrid lovers, the lycra-clad performance cyclists, the BMX brigade, belong to the lower rungs of the cycling world. They, in their 3/4 trousers, riding fixed-gear bikes with funny handlebars, live by a code of their own. Let's face it - they don't cycle to work, they work on the cycle! They earn their living out if cycling, and that must surely focus their minds. As one of them says in a forum, the good thing is that you get to ride your bike all day. The bad thing is ... the same thing!
03 June 2008
20 May 2008
14 May 2008
06 May 2008
Sunday I took the morning though to go with Ian to fetch his bike and have a long 'pre-C2C' ride, which we did and it was a delight, despite of the miserable day. We also used to opportunity to finalise details of the ride - we set off for Whitehaven this Friday, all being well...
... all being well. Monday started with the discovery that my little Vauxhall Corsa, the run-arounder, had been stolen from in front of our house. It ended with my youngest one being sick and poorly (she still is, and I'm looking after her today) and the car being found, with two bent doors and a smashed ignition and steering lock - damage of the sort that wouldn't matter in a new car with fully comp insurance, but when you have a 1992 Corsa, valued (optimistically) at £300 and insure for 3rd party, Fire and Theft only... so now we are waiting with bated breath to see whether the insurers will write the car off (bonkers!). A Scene of Crime Officer is taking fingerprints on the car, outside my house, as we speak.
All this has an impact on my planned C2C ride - I do hope my daughter will recover in time for me to be comfortable leaving my wife to it; and the original plan of me driving both Ian and I to Carlisle to drop the car before continuing on train to Whitehaven may have to change. It may be we do it all by train - perhaps as it should be...
01 May 2008
So, if you call yourself my friend or my acquantaince or have, by error or chance, stumbled upon these pages, don't just go away empty handed, go empty your pockets as well - it is for a good cause.
25 April 2008
Alas, it was not to be. Said gentleman was not in, but a kind but hapless-looking stranger who explained that the shop owner and chief bike mechanic was in hospital (nothing too serious, I hope) and no repairs or maintenance could take place for two weeks or so.
So, plan B then. I took the bike to the Bicycle Boutique - they had helped me recently with something, for free - and I've used them before. I went through my list - full service, handlebar 'grips' (dunno what they're called - the 'horns' useful for comfort in long rides), spares for the journey, etc.
The chap rang me later - the bill was a staggering £126.50!!! I said yes, after consulting with HQ. It is exactly as much as I paid for the bike, less than two years ago! But... why waste a good frame, plus don't have time to find another bike, plus loyalty, etc etc. Not the best month to suffer this waking bill, but there we go - after all, it is my daily form of transport so I must offset it against what I'd pay in, say, petrol, or tram fares.
Coast to Coast? It'd better be good...
22 April 2008
Less than three weeks till the big weekend...
17 April 2008
First of all, in Antwerp lots of people -lots- cycle. Bikes are everywhere, either chained to lamposts or simply propped up against them. Second, the 'system' bears them in mind - roads, traffic lights, pedestrian crossings all seem to have made provisions for the folk in two wheels. Third, cycling there seems just a part of life, not the self-conscious 'cause' we seem to make it in the UK. Most bicycles are of the sort designed for comfort and ease of use, and most people ride them without any special clothing - and positively no helmets. Panniers? Yes. Gears? Yes. Lycra pants and special pedals or shoes? Nope. Rather, men in suits, lasses in high-heels, riding upright, no rush, on bikes not built for speed. I sometimes wonder if in the UK, while we are a diverse lot for sure, the 'competitive' end of the spectrum has pulled us all into a mindset where we all hope to exert ourselves, to perform to some degree, favouring an approach that regards cycling as a sport, a self-contained activity. We don't just 'cycle to work' - we use the journey to work as an opportunity to cycle - or even, to train, ie to improve our performance, perhaps with some arbitrary challenge (the C2C ride?) in mind.
Which is all very well of course - but which we should bear in mind when we moan about how marginalised cycling is in the UK, and look towards 'Europe' (esp. Northern Europe) with envy. If we want to make cycling mainstream we have to separate bicycle-based sports from cycling as a mere form of transport - something routine and boring that everybody can do.
Incidentally, I visited Stockholm last July. Thinking about it now, I get the sense - perhaps wrongly - that cycling over there is sort of half-way between the 'continental' and 'uk' styles, ie I saw as many 'urban' cyclists on 'comfort' bikes as I saw hybrid bikes and chaps in lycra pants. And the odd helmet.
09 April 2008
Last Sunday, going up to Holcombe, a considerably older chap overtook me going uphill. Yesterday, cyclist after cyclist overtook me going up towards Bury from Manchester. Today, another cyclist overtook me going downhill towards Manchester.
Do I detect a pattern here?
06 April 2008
03 April 2008
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no rabid anti-car or anti-motorist jockey per se, but I fear once more poor Johnny Cyclist has been conveniently forgotten. All shall be revealed in due course.
17 March 2008
I have used them a lot in the last year and a half - ever since I heard about them. For me, working in the city centre, their location just off Oxford Road is ideal. If you want value for money, try them. Ring first though - their opening hours are a bit peculiar - I imagine they fit their main clientele, ie students.
They have a website.... or a URL in any case - with email address in it: http://www.bicycleboutiquemcr.co.uk/
I have a phone number for them: 07985 426803
10 March 2008
- Trousers: for comfort, I am going to have to yield to lycra... men in tights, here I come...
- Top: ditto. For city cycling it is OK to wrap up warm as I do, but for the open road I need to keep light
- Sun glasses: would be nice
27 February 2008
To this one, and to all of them, here is my simple wish: may you all end up as chewing gum spat into the urinals of hell.
26 February 2008
25 February 2008
I know times have changed and traffic in the 1950s can't have been as bad as today's, but the 100+ mile journey he undertook from Rugby to Lincolnshire would be demanding by today's standards, let alone the days of fixed-gear bikes with no special equipment. And he did it back and forth in a weekend - set off on Friday night, back on Sunday.
Maybe I ought to try it one day.
20 February 2008
OK, this post is not about cycling, nor is it about Manchester. Over a year ago I reported sighting of a fox cub coming out of Heaton Park. Well, tonight I am in London and had - unwisely perhaps - arranged to meet a friend in St James Park at 7pm. It was dark and foggy, especially once one left behind the main roads and their street lights. What looked like a large cat jumped down from a shed just a few metres in front of me, then proceeded to examine the contents of a rubbish bin. On closer examination, the 'cat' turned out to be an adult fox - who did not look at all concerned about my presence there (more than I can say about my feelings, finding myself in the middle of a park, alone in the foggy evening).
Eventually I found my friend and we went for a drink and a meal. Incidentally, my friend cycles from wherever he leaves in his dormitory town to the station, then arrives to Waterloo and cycles to work (near St James Park). He does so on a Brompton fold-up bike - a beautiful little thing which I would like to try some time.
10 February 2008
Luckily, because she was going so slowly, I don't think much damage was sustained - wounded pride and angry words levelled at her, I suspect - but there were three big lads in her car so I reckon she had her 'insurance' there (and am glad it wasn't me ending stamped against her windscreen and then having to contend with her small army).
Let this be a lesson to us all...
06 February 2008
I can't hope to ever become the source of vast knowledge so aptly and willingly communicated to novices like myself, but I reckon, twenty years from now, if I am cycling as I hope, I will remember Sheldon Brown's website and the inspiration I drew from it in these initial years.
It is also a bit of an unusual road. Most of it belongs squarely to the architectural school of standard 20th century red-brick British Conformism, mostly in the shape of semi-detached, 2 and 1/2 bedroom houses - and very nice some of them are too. But there is a whole row of unusual homes, perhaps built in the late 80s or early 90s, which I'd describe as postmodern - they play with some elements of the traditional home, and so there is brick and roof tiles - trendy and almost green, but tiles nonetheless. And yet they try so hard to be innovative - the sleeping quarters apparently are on the ground floor, the living quarters apparently upstairs. The end of the row is a house where they've extended the ground floor and built a conservatory on top, in effect extending the (1st floor) living room and creating a sort of mini-mansion. Whether this kind of design works is another matter. Would I want to have to lug all food shopping up a flight of stairs just so as to feel 'different'? Perhaps not - so, conformism has its good side too?
The road is shaped like a banana, curved gently. I tend to coast on fifth gear until I reach the bend, then it flattens and I have to start pedalling again. When I reach the end I have to be careful - Hazel Rd does get busy some evenings, and it can be difficult to stop properly to avoid it!.
Stanway Rd has something civilised and genteel about it - that's just as well, for as I turn onto Hazel Rd and Ribble Drive the landscape changes a bit - welcome to the 'estate' and chav territory, complete with 1960s pub-cum-'tapas bar' (Enrique's).
03 February 2008
At least the days are growing longer. I look forward to tomorrow, Monday - only one expected disruption on Thursday, otherwise a full week on the saddle. And must start training for my planned Coast to Coast. Trying longer rides, building up distance until I can manage 30 miles in one effort.
29 January 2008
Oh dear. My mate Ian and I better up the tempo of our preparations - at the moment we are going about it with the alacrity of snails on loose sands. Meanwhile, I've developed serious doubts about the suitability of my bike - the Tourismo 24 hybrid. On a rainy and very windy night last week, I was forced to use my front gears (whatever the technical name is) and I got the chain badly derrailed - it has happened before. I'm worried about a bike that can't tap into its full range of gears if I'm going to have to contend with very hilly sections.
Should I buy a road bike? I need to decide. Soon. I've been thinking about a proper touring bike - some people argue they are the ultimate all rounders, the thing to have if you cover any seizable distance. We'll see...
16 January 2008
13 January 2008
We'll see - we are both enthusiastic about it, and our wives are suspiciously supportive.
10 January 2008
It took me 55' to do what normally would take me no more than 45'. The return home, up the hill to Bury, seemed easy by comparison - and took less time.
03 January 2008
Thank you for taking the time to write to me about Matthew Parris's article (My Week, December 7). As someone who regularly rides to work and who likes to go on cycling holidays, I shared your alarm, initially fearing that Matthew had it infor me too. But I think it was immediately clear that he wasexaggerating for effect - and for a good cause: cyclists, as much as anyone else, must share his determination to protect the natural worldfrom litter and pollution.
I have received many similar e-mails and take note of the heartfelt indignation. You may also have seen the piece that ran in the paper onMonday in defence of the cyclist. While I admire the passion of the cycling lobby and myself one of their number, I think we do ourselves no favours when we lose our sense of humour and I hope that you, like me, will continue to enjoy Matthew Parris's excellent writing. That said, two wheels good etc. Yours, James Harding
-----Original Message-----From: Jorge Solis V. [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: 30 December 2007 01:08To: Times CommentCc: Harding, JamesSubject: Comment on M Parris' article "The smug who deservedecapitation"
Dear Sir / Madam,
I'd like to comment on Matthew Parris' article of 27 Dec, "What's smugand deserves to be decapitated?"(http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/matthew_parris/article3097464.ece)and would be grateful if you could pass the comment on to Mr Parris. I am disappointed at the gross generalisations he makes - I cycle to work every day and know that neither myself nor scores of other regular cyclists I know exhibit the behaviours he so carelessly attributes to all of us. Mr Parris' fundamental mistake is to attribute moral traits to forms of transport (cycling, driving, walking, jogging) rather than to individuals. Not all cyclists are the reckless thugs he depicts - just as not all pedestrians (or indeed drivers) are shining examples of highway-side virtue. Indeed, most cyclists are also pedestrian and motorists!.
Good old Matthew is fighting the wrong battle - he'd do better to directhis anger against bad road users, and in support of responsible, considerate ones - whatever the form of transport employed. He would also do well to acknowledge that, in the UK today, when it comes to road design and 'systems' (how traffic lights work, the location, layout and length of bike lanes), cars and pedestrians are taken into consideration far more than cyclists are. An apology from Mr Parris would be quite in order