Thursday, March 29, 2007

Possibly the best thing you will ever buy for your bike

Almost every cyclist I know has the following story. You buy a bike and start by using a hand-pump, mostly because you've probably used one before and they only cost about 3 quid. With a reasonably amount of elbow grease you inflate your tyres to what seems like "pretty pumped up".

Then one day you plug in a pump with a gauge on it and find that you've been riding around for 6 months on half-inflated tyres. You now inflate them to the correct amount and the first time you go out on the bike again, it rides like the day you bought it! Nothing will sap the speed you cycle at like riding around on under-inflated tyres.

I currently have one from Decathalon for £20, which works fine but is a complete pain to connect and disconnect from the tyre. I used one of these from Wiggle at the weekend at it was much easier. Definitely worth the extra 10 pounds I think.

PS Don't forget to keep your hand-pump for when you're out and about.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Devon Coast to Coast Prep. Part I

Some friends and I have decided to do the Devon Coast to Coast in June this year, so did our first preparation ride on Sunday. Went for the nice, straightforward 18 miler to start with, the Heron Trail. As most of my long distance rides have been on my own, I have to admit I'd forgotten how fun it can be cycling with other people.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a camera, so have no amazing pictures to display, however we did see some nice, rolling estuary countryside, a baby rabbit, a castle and some excellent mispellings on a pub poster. The route would be of particular interest to bird lovers, as it passes not one but two RSPB bird reserves. Otherwise though it was a most pleasant trip.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Prepostorous Puncture

Last weekend I got a puncture and while feeling around inside the tyre for the tack or thorn that had caused it I found this.

It was almost totally inside the tyre, with only maybe 1mm protruding to the outside world.

This must be a world record for largest item found in a tyre.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Free Bike Checkup... Brockwell Park. According to Lambeth Cyclists

"Lambeth Council has organised a series of Dr Bike's, in Brockwell Park,
run by Cycle Training UK.

There's one this Sunday 18th March 12-4pm. We should be up by the cafe."

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Velorution is a cool little bike shop with a difference. If you ride in London, chances are you ride (and were sold) something pretty sporty, either something closely related to a racer (something designed for cycling at 40mph through the French country side whacked up on EPO) or a mountain bike (designed for pulling "gnarly" moves in the great outdoors). The Velorution philosophy seems to be that neither of these designs are especially designed for riding around the city in comfort and style, and so they've looked to the Continent for bikes and inspiration (think the kind of bikes you seem in Amsterdam). The intention is that these are the kind of bikes you could ride in your work clothes (not lycra) and need little maintainence.

Some of them are absolutely gorgeous, and it's quite refreshing to walk around a bike shop where most of them have 7 gears, not 27. Unfortunately such style does not currently come cheap, but who knows maybe this could be the beginning of a sea change in London bike culture.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Getting Out of London

One of the best things about having a bike in London, is being able to take it out of London! The best books I've come across so far, are the Philip's Cycle Tours ones. The rides tend to be around the 20-40 mile mark, with a range of difficulties and all of them are circular. The directions are pretty clear and feature Ordnance Survey maps, so if you're used to them, you'll be fine. The book also lists the nearest station so you can get there and back.

My only quibbles are that I would prefer a few longer rides, and that the mix of difficulties varies from book to book (some seem to have more easy or difficult ones than others), so check before you buy that it has the right level for you.

Around South London
Around North London

Friday, March 09, 2007

Bike Powered Radio

The Bike Show is an excellent weekly online radio show covering the world of biking in all it's many forms. Shows have covered the London Bicycle Film Festival, the forthcoming visit of the Tour De France to London and experimental bike music (!!), as well as more practical London cycling matters such as avoiding accident blackspots and how bicycle storage in the Capital can be improved.

Listen on Resonance FM, 104.4FM in Central London, Monday nights 6:30pm or listen online anytime

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bikes In the Papers

You may have noticed that the papers (well, Guardian, Observer and Independent) went bike nuts at the weekend. The Guardian supplement was particularly good with reviews, articles and lots of routes. You can access it online

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Hopping Down To Brighton

I cycled to Brighton yesterday. Not on the annual, organised bike ride, but just following National Cycle Routes 21 and 20 (see National Cycle Network map, big pdf). The route is mostly on quiet roads, backstreets, paths, etc (even going through a multi-story car park at Gatwick!). 67 miles from my house, which is the furthest I've ever cycled in ridden in one day. A few big hills, and a little bit of off-road (I wouldn't recommend parts of it on a racing bike)

One of the best bits is that the route largely follows the trainline to Brighton, so if you have difficulty (and you have planned well) can always bale out early.

It's mostly very well sign-posted, but I'd still strongly recommend getting the official map . In particular, once you get to Crawley, you get the impression the signposting guy only had ten signs left to last him till Brighton and he decided he'd better use them sparingly.

Friday, March 02, 2007

London Journey Planners

One of the things that can be most intinidating about cycling in London, can be finding a cycle-friendly route. Two sites that I've found very useful are:

TFL Journey Planner


London Cyclemaps (down at the time of writing)

My impression is that the Transport For London site (you have to go into "More Options" and select "Cycle") seems to favour official cycle routes (either on roads, or through parks, towpaths, etc), whereas Cyclemaps prefers backroads. But the best thing to do is try both, and pick the one (or combination of both) you prefer.

And if you prefer paper maps, don't forget you can get free cycle maps from LCC and TFL (and often your local bike shop)