Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Democracy in Action

The strapline of this blog is “Cycling, London & Life” and to date, cycling has predominated so far, but I’d like to do a bit of the “Life” stuff today.

Over on my main blog I posted a picture of the self-styled “Democracy Village” (like this) and said that I was please that our elected officials were taking it away. A frequent habituĂ© of London Daily Photo, Imajoebob, took the time to leave a long comment, the rest of this post is my response, which visitors here may not be interested in so…

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

I'm a packhorse, sometimes. A review of my panniers.

From Panniers and Such
Regrettably I often have to cart my laptop and all manner of other things around on my cycling perambulations. To do that, I use two Altura panniers with which I am pretty happy. But as is the way, I'm always interested to hear what the options are.

Photos with review comments are here

The first is the Altura Urban Dryline. That is about 3 years old, and it has ceased being dry for the last 18 months or so. Sure, it keeps light rain off (what wouldn't?) but in a downpour it will get wet from the bottom up. May not help that I don't use mudguards, but the chief cause is the abrasive London dirt. The only ones that might be more waterproof are the Ortlieb, and at twice the price I can't see that being value , unless they can do more than 3 years. From what I've heard and seen, that would be a lot even for them. So, I carry plastic bags into which things get stuffed if they need to.

The other is the Altura laptop bag. My one doesn't have a "dryline" (huzzah!) instead, it has a plastic cover which makes the whole thing waterproof. The storage facilities (pockets) on it are brilliant, especially the outside pocket. Why do so few bags have them? I suppose its because they would affect the waterproofing.

Given the life they have (the rack can attest to that), I am very impressed with the way they have held out.

In short I would definitely buy both again.

Whoops, I did it again

Last time I said I didn't mind if I didn't repeat my 100k-in-a-day commute, but I did.

As it happens, yesterday was a beautiful day, and even though I was lugging at least 15kg in my panniers and had done 80Km the day before, it put a real smile on my face. What's more, there was even a (light) westerly to ease my way home. That trip by car or public transport would have been a real drag.

It is funny how relative distance is. This time, now I knew where I was going, seemed much quicker than last. Also the half of the journey that I am most familiar with seems to go a lot quicker than the westerly half, even though it contains the cross town ride. The halfway point is out by Shepherds Bush/Hammersmith, when I hit there it feels like I'm almost home. Whereas, plugging along the Uxbridge Road, the A4 or whatever seems to carry on forever.
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Sunday, 6 June 2010

I've Got a Bell and I'm Gonna Use It


But will it make any difference? My bell, as you can see, is industrial strength and can be heard. In fact, I can produce a veritable symphony of sound from it, from a subdued "ting ting" through a police-y siren type of ring to a full blown tram noise. I always try to select the appropriate noise, for example a quiet, alerting sound on a shared use path, but it rarely does any good.

This last week commute has sen the full gamut. The I'm-walking-towards-you-on-a-bike-path-and-I-can-see-and-hear-you-but-I-will-do-nothing (by Uxbridge Road, Hillingdon). Through the we-are-walking-across-the-bike-path-but-we-are-foreigners-and-so-when-we-eventually-realise-one-of-us-will-jump-forward-one-back-one-will-stand-stock-still (Hyde Park) to the I'm-cycling-on-a-bike-path-that-I-know-has-a-blind-bend-and-I-can-hear-your-bell-but-I-won't-ring-mine-becasue-that-would-spoil-the-surprise (Hayes Bypass). There were more, but all just variations on a theme.

I have to say that it just amuses me these days and I take it all in my stride, but with it all why do we bother?
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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Today I Try to Educate a brace of Numbnuts

The first was going through the City. There’s one point where one side of the road is taken over by long term building works for an office block, forcing two way traffic onto the other side. Not very wide, and traffic had ground to a halt as a site vehicle, a pallet truck made its way along. I was stopped behind a bus and it was moving towards me, signalling to turn right to enter the works area.. The next car had stopped to let the lifter through. Numbnut 1 decides (too strong a word, I don’t think he decided anything) to carry on cycling even though the lifter was already turning in. He did notice when he had a rather close call, and he mouthed off abuse at the driver “you f-ing pr-ck”. So as traffic started to move, I cycled with him and told him, the lifter had been signalling, it was on obvious building site and hazard and in fact, he was the prick. As he had his iPod plugged into his brains, I don’t suppose he heard me as I stopped at a red light and watched him sail through two, blithely oblivious.

Numbnut 2 was later on the ride, by Acton. I’d been riding a lively pace with a messenger on single speed from Notting Hill, and we were stopped at traffic lights and road works. There was a dumper truck, in the middle of the road, angled about 45 degrees to the left and signalling left. I turned to my momentary companion and said “I think we’ll let him go first” and we both laughed. Then, Numbnut 2 sails up, from the outside, close down the side of the truck (ie, in the trucks blind spot) and proceeds to cycle round the nearside corner of the truck on the red light. Had the light changed 2 seconds earlier, he would have been roadkill. So when the truck had gone and I was passing him I just said “You really are a dork” Didn’t have time for any more, as I was still riding lively. I don’t suppose he really knew what I was talking about.

Just how DO some cyclists survive?