29 January 2008

Be under no illusions...

At last Friday's little conflab of cyclists in Albert Square ('Critical Commute') an experienced cyclist I met answered my question about the Coast to Coast: "be under no illusions"...

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


There are nights when 'it' just works. 'It' being... everything! All the traffic lights are green, the wind blows in your direction, the cock-up fairy seems to be on holiday and the bicycle just purrs along nicely, steady on the wet tarmac, the rain having stopped just as you leave work for your nightly commute. Cars make way for you and before you know it you are home. And then you take your son to see Bury FC beat Norwich and get through to round 4 of the FA Cup!

One of those nights. Tonight.

13 January 2008

Preparations have begun...

Fellow school parent and friend Ian and myself met yesterday to coordinate details of our proposed Coast to Coast bike ride - we plan to do it in May 08; we also discussed two or three training one-day rides, logistics, maintenance tuition etc.

We'll see - we are both enthusiastic about it, and our wives are suspiciously supportive.

10 January 2008

The wind that shakes the barley...

Boy, was it windy this morning! Going into Manchester is meant to be the easy journey - downhill most of the way. The wind however was blowing in a straight South to North line - and it was strong.

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

comment on Matthew Parris' article of 27 Dec

Dear Mr Solis,

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:jorge.solis@ntlworld.com] 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

Jorge Solis