Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Cycling Safely

Another couple of articles, boy are they increasing, this week. Both in the times regarding safety.

Bascally both about with the rise in popularity of cycling, but the lack of cyclists taking responsibility. Thre people pointed out the ipod zombies article. Addressing the issue of cyclists riding with ipods on full volume, oblivious to thier surroundings. A standard danger admittedly, but just as bad are pedestrians as distracted and drivers even more so. I used to barely ever ride without music, but now will only really ever have tunes in rare occasions, and never on busy roads, even less so on quiet ones for that matter.

The other article is along the same lines, but a bit more about cyclist taking responsibility. The part that i picked up on most was that for the cycling revolution to really take hold then cyclist will need to obey the rules. Now I'm trying to be as good as possible, will always stop for a red, though i may once n a while creep off before the green so long as nothing is coming. But it would definatly be a good thing if there were more training for cyclists and a fair bit more awareness.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

What's the point?

Of long distance rides that is. Reading this article in the Guardian the other day goes some way to explaining why I wouldn't really submit myself for another long distcnce charitry bike ride. BAsically though it would still be a challenge and good way of raising funds, i couldn't quite justify what some people may think of as a bike riding joly for me. I think that things like London to Brighton and other organised events are very worthwhile, and even though there may be some charity fatigue, these events still help raise huge amounts of money for very worthwhile charities.

From the comments in that article though I was lead to the website for "This is not for charity". Another interesting trip which looks like great fun, and though teh fella has a manifesto which is admirable, I can't help thinking he's a bit too angry and idealistic. Essentially it's a self involved anc chosen kind of act to ride solo round the world or any kind of long distance, and as lonely and hard as it could be (and i've not even ventured to other cultures) it is a "lifestyle choice" and a bit much to expect the rest of the world to change because your eyes have been opened more!

Not really sure what my point is, but all these rides look like fun. The one thing i don't get with this and other world traversing rides as to why they go through EnZed. Obviously i can understand why you'd want to cycle round NZ, it's fucking brilliant.
The Road to Greymouth.
Fly Eye View
A True Kiwi Experience
But it's completly outr of the way of everywhere, and not really cycleable to or from from any other land mas, you're obviously going to have to cross a mass or water at some point, but over to a tiny island in the middle of the South Pacific seems a bit uneccessary no? and also a real shame if you're just going to cane through 100miles + a day insetad of actually enjoying it!

Anyway, each to thier own.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Bike Paths

In an effort to ensure that I don't get too complacent with my updates, worth posting about the story i read in the times, and repeated here, today basically saying that bike paths aint necessarily the way forward in all situations. It may help encourage some onto the roads, but in fact offers a false sense of security. Similar to the situation where it has been stated that motorists give less room to cyclists wearing helmets, this new study say that often inappropriate cycle paths can inspire territorialism on the part of both the cyclist and the motorist. With bike riders feeling they must stick within the painted section of the road (often contending with potholes and drains), and drivers assuming that they can use all of the road upto the painted line, which invariably leaves no space for the rider.

Essentially as with the issue with helmets, the best way to make sure that cycling is safer is going to be with more training. Well along with a more forward thinking transport system and all that jazz, which I'm sure I'll be able to describe more succinctly in the coming years.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

What's a Blog?

Well It's been quite a while. Since starting the idea of this blog, to keep track of odds and sods i find online relating to cycling The Guardian have started quite a comprehensive blog updating it with comings and goings and pertinent issues. So rather than just bookmarking all their articles, or extracting links I've just been reading that and will come back to this more regularly I hope once I start to get a bit more involved again.

Haven't struck out on any great adventures this summer, the last biggish ride was my reverse London to Brighton, or the Hove to Hackbridge as it was for me. I left from Hove in the morning and made my way to Ditchling Beacon, and from there i just tried to go where i would imagine would be the opposite direction to where the official London to Brighton had gone the previous day. There were a couple of wrong turns and my new wheel had become incredibly loose so i was having to stop and tighten spokes every mile towards the end in order to keep it going.

A ride to Barcelona had been mentioned, but a lack of work or money has put the kybosh on that, for me at least.

No, the new direction for me in the current climate is to re-educate. Rather than just try and improve transport issues, particularly with cycling, i have applied and been accepted to Uni, and though it will be tough just surviving, I hope that in the long run I will be able to contribute more with formal education and training rather than just by winging it, as I always have.

By moving to Bristol I also hope that I can get involved in the whole Cycling City thing. I've read it being slagged quite a bit but hope with my project management experience I may be able to get involved and see from the inside what works and what doesn't. After all the whole idea of going into full time study at 30 is a bit daunting and I've gotta make the most of every opportunity and give myself the very best chance of getting the best job when i get out. As well as educate myself about how to carry out that job the best i can when i get there. From where i sit now I hope to be able to look back in 30 years time and pin point improvements in transport and specifically cycling facilities thanks to my input.

Also on the up side is being in Bristol I can hopefully get out to some proper mountains once in a while, as well as getting to grips with the urban riding thing again.

More than anything this entry is a message to myself in 5 years to see if the time was well spent. I hope so.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

SW to B'Ton Via SDW

Had my most strenuous cycling weekend in some time this weekend. Leaving from South Warnborough on Friday morning I had a rough course written out to take me to Cocking, where I would pick up the South Downs Way, and follow that to Devils Dyke and down into Brighton.

Joining the South Downs Way

Though I made a wrong turn on the roads between Liphook & Midhurst I managed to get to the turn off for the South Downs Way Just after 1pm.

After having stopped off for some lucozade and brownie in Cocking it gave me the boost to ride up the hill and on for the first 5 miles or so of the South Downs Way.

South Downs Way

It was a perfect day, hot, but slightly overcast to give relief from the worst of the sun's heat. And it was very good to be on the relatively empty trail. Before my lunch break I only saw 3 other walkers and a tractor. I got to a spot at the top of an incline and stopped off for my sandwiches.

Shortly after my lunch and brief photography session I was joined by a group of about 8 cyclists who had ridden from Winchester that morning. Then coming the other way a guy on a fold up bike came up the hill Geocaching.

I let the other group go ahead, packed up and followed the signs down the hill. The route is very well signed all in all, and most of the trail is pretty intuitive really, but there are a couple of spots when you're careering down a hill and cane it past a signpost and have to hope that you've not missed a turning. Luckily i didn't have to turn back on myself throughout the trip.

After my break and first few miles I was slowly realising that the 'Ups and downs' may be a more appropriate. There weren't really any mad hills, though i do have to admit to having got off and pushed on 3 occasions, partly due to a lack of match fitness, and a little more weight than I had hoped to be carrying (on myself and the bike). All in all it was a reminder of how much more of a challenge it is riding the ups and downs rather than all the relatively flat roads and bridle paths around that I have been recently.


By the time I got to the familiar territory of Devils Dyke South Downs I was pretty knackered and hankering after a beer and a shower. The temperature had dropped considerably and I was later than i had hoped to be. I rested for a short bit and hoiked my way back down hill into Brighton. If I had not been slamming it down the hill so fast I sped right past the sign for the regional route 82 which would have been a more cycle friendly route, but I stuck to the traffic being familiar with these roads by now.

I got into the hotel showered and sucked down a couple of beers pretty promptly. Whadda Day! Means I now only have the first 30 miles of South Downs Way from Winchester to Cocking and I've covered the whole thing. I'm pretty sure that with a little more training I could do the trail end to end in a long day with no baggage, it's just the requirements for a little support and a change of clothes. To be continued...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Cycling Matters and Cycling Matters

Well, I'm clearly not quite into the full swing of this blogging malarkey yet.

Just to keep 'in touch' there was Critical Mass, a few country rides, more research and more news stories as well as a little road foolishness.

I was riding out today and did make abad manouver undertaking a car in a dodgy position. Not really any justification and i should really know better, but when the driver of the car overtook and took exception to me vocally, and it must be said relativly politely, it firstly made me angry to be put in my place, and then i realised i needed to be put in my place. Bad ben.

Anyway, perfect time of year for lots of riding, still researching various movements trying to improve cycling, but because of employment knockbacks haven't been too inclined to note too many of them.

Will try harder!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Looking for the next adventure

While planning a wishful ride form Hampshire to Morocco later this year I started doing a bit more looking around at some of the other adventurers out there. And there are allot. A while back I read Moods of Future Joy and Thunder & Sunshine around this time last year, whilst loafing on a sofa in a Wellington windy winter having just recovered myself and my bike from the bike/car interface in February. It really is an inspirational read. I was very taken indeed by it when I first read it, and sent the author an email to say thank you, even though I really wanted the adventure to be my own. His website is also a good source of information on other tourers and intrepid pedalling adventurers.

I also had a cursory look at the website of a friend of mine from Sydney this week: mushypea.net has chronicled some of his adventures in Tibet, Australia and other places. Last time we caught up in January to go riding in Ourimbah an hour or so north of Sydney Dave was planning the Gulf to Gulf ride straight up through the middle of Australia. Nutter, I must admit I was slightly dubious as to weather they’d make it fully, that’s some pretty harsh terrain. But I was happy to see that they did, and all in the name of a good cause.

Looking around at these and other adventurers, mostly doing it for one cause or another I have to try and plan an angle for myself. Though not necessarily hoping to go off on a round the world trip for years on end, I defiantly have a few more tours in me, but finding a way to do this, and somehow link it into some sort of career is the next step in my career planning. Of course that all depend on what job I get, but here’s to hoping that one way or another it will enable me to ride around foreign lands, either as part of the job, or just facilitate me having enough spare time to do that on the side. And to be able to do it in the name of a good cause would be the ultimate uturistic goal.

A Moroccan ride is a target. But I have to look at ways that it can benefit others and be marketable, rather than just a few mates going on what could be referred to as an excessively long bike ride. It would be much nicer to have a bit of purpose as well. Though I find it hard trying to raise sponsorship from others when everyone knows I just like riding my bike so much.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

New Zealand by Bike

This time 2 years ago I was nearing the end of my trans New Zealand bike ride. There was no specific mission or challenge other than I was in Auckland and wanted to leave, I liked the sound of Wanaka for winter and fancied seeing some of the country inbetween. I had a bike and panniers and tent (not that the tent came out once on this trip) and the inclination to ride in late Autumn to get around as much as possible.

Now I'd worked intensly hard in Auckland for a few months, holding down a day job in a factory that essentially makes rubbish, working in an Irish bar which i didn't enjoy much except for my collegues and some of the more interesting clientelle, and also worked various hospitality jobs on the weekends which had it's ups and downs, all the while living in a 19 bed dorm of a no better than below average backpackers.

In my own way i felt that i worked so hard that I tended to over reward myself, gorging on steaks and bacon and muffins and milkshakes all through the counntry. I met some astoundingly cool people, and a few brainless backpackers. Rode up mountains and along rivers. Wathced the sun rise and set many times. I sang loudly in the wilderness and laughed to myself more than just a little.

I passed many places and turn offs that i said I'd come back to in future, to re visit or explore anew. Some of these I did, but many I didn't, or at least, I haven't yet. But that's budgets for you, and in my case, I have crippilingly expensive tastes, in some things at least, but i lived a fine life on the road.

New Zealand is a fantastic place for touring my resources when i started off weren't much more than the Lonley Planet guide to Cycling New Zealand, which though a good motivator before and indicatior of some gradients on he road, was too specific in it's routes and places. Apart from that I picked up free local maps in infomation centres and asked around locally about the best route for the day or week, and where the best breakfast, luch or dinner was there or down the road.

Half way through the South Island i picked up a copy of peddalers paradise which i found to be a very useful book indeed for planning routes for the end of this trip and subsequent trips. It just lays out the facts of what roads go where, and what's along those roads in terms of terrain, getting supplies, food, camping, lodgings and anything else that may be relevant to a touring cyclist.

As many people will testify NZ can truly be a Pedalers Paradise, it is peaceful on the roads, and towns are generally just the right distance away form each other to set achievable targets depending on fitness and itinerary.

I've put together the details of my journey in Google Maps this week, and it's been fun re living my adventure. Thinking about the next again. the maps are in 4 stages as below. Still need a bit of refining, as does the full account of my ride, but any comments or feedback are appreciated, even if it is just to point out appaling spelling or grammar :o)


Section 1: Auckland to Taupo

View My New Zealand Adventure in a larger map

Section 2: Central North Island to Tasman / West Coast of South Island

View My New Zealand Adventure in a larger map

Section 3: South Island West Coast

View My New Zealand Adventure in a larger map

Section 4: Glaciers to Queenstown

View My New Zealand Adventure in a larger map

Monday, 11 May 2009

Introduction and Intentions

Having returned recently to the UK in "the worst financial meltdown in blah..." my search for employment has thus far been fruitless. Having had a somewhat varied, and you may say, unfocussed employment history, I have in the last year taken steps to at least decide which direction I want to go into in the future.

I have always loved cycling and feel strongly that increasing its popularity and accessibility would be of great benefit to us all. I have no intention of writing endless ranting blogs to no-one about the idiocy of some polices, though I’m sure that this will occur.

My main objective is to keep a track of cycling news, developments and policies, as well as logging some of my rides and bookmarking other interesting cycling resources online. The aim of this is to educate myself, and hopefully others, and ultimately be able to use this blog as a sort of resume so that i can find a worth paying occupation involved in what I love.

To start off some news stories that caught my eye relating to cycling in the last week.

One of the 'biggest' was that of David Cameron, leader of the opposition having his bike stolen, again. But what inspired a bit of a rant in it was a comment piece in the Observer on Sunday, indicating that he isn't a 'true rider' as he doesn't wear lycra and preen over every gramme of weight on the bike. Ideally this is exactly the kind of attitude that needs to be avoided. Not tribes, but that cycling is open to all.

Other counter productive news that the post office are intending to replace bikes with vans. Talk about back pedalling. Not only increasing carbon emissions, but the initial outlay is going to be huge as well as the old erosion of social cohesion from communities no longer having a dedicated postman for their area.

A more positive article was citing a study that indicates that more cyclists mean less incidents. Kind of obvious really. But something to aim for.

Another little link i just came across is Dave Gormans upcoming tour by bike. Good stuff.

So this is what i'm aiming to keep a track of here. We'll see how it evolves.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Sunny Springtime Saturday 50 Miler

A very plesent ride through rural Hampshire. Cruisy country roads, no major hills and a few nice country pubs on the way.

View Winchester Ride in a larger map