Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Starting the year as he means to go on, with a win in the Tour Of California. I'm also pleased to see some particularly catchy categories in there - "California Travel & Tourism Commission King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey". Give me "The Yellow Jersey" any day :-)
Friday, February 13, 2009
My mate Barry and I cycled the Thames Valley route from Staines to Oxford this weekend (with an overnight in Pangbourne). As you might expect, the weather added some interesting aspect to the ride, but it was still do-able (with some pushing, some slow cycling and some giving up the official route and just taking the road). It's a mixed route taking in Thames-side cycling, some lovely rural bits on Berkshire and a bit of the usual "creative accounting" off-road routes that Sustrans specialise in (through housing estates, car-parks, etc)
4 Bad Things About This Weekend.
1. Mysterious Exploding Inner Tubes. Before we'd even left London, Barry had destroyed two inner tubes (waking up his neighbours in the process). Had they got caught on the rim ? Was there something sharp inside the tyre? Was the gauge on his track pump a couple of bar low? We suspect the latter, but can't say for sure. Oh well, it only seemed to set us back an hour-and-a-half.
2. Snow and Ice. A lot of the route was surprisingly clear or gritted, but anything that took us through Windsor Great Park, round the back of Didcot Parkway or down pathways into Oxford was a treacherous landscape of thawed and refrozen snow. Good job I put my new slick tyres on last week!!
At best this took our average speed down to 3 or 4 mph while we struggled to keep upright and at certain points we just had to get off and push.
3. Trying To Get Our Bikes On A Train From Reading to Pangbourne With 50 Million Reading Town FC Fans. Barry got on, I could not. At least it meant I got to bomb along the A34 on the bike trying to catch-up the train.
4. No Local Beer in Pangbourne. Half the fun of a bike ride away from home is being able to drink Ye Olde Goat's Nadger's Ale from the local brewery. Only London Pride and Courage in the otherwise good George Hotel, although I did end up remembering how much I like London Pride.
4 Good Things About This Weekend
1. Cycling Through The Snow Covered Landscape of Berkshire. Most of Sunday morning involved cycling down nicely cleared country-lanes, surrounded by pristine snow-covered fields and woods. In particular,
at one point we came out of a wood onto a hillside that seemed to look down onto much of Oxfordshire, with Didcot Parkway being the only thing to break up the white blanket covering the landscape. London seemed very far away and it felt far more like the Peaks or Lakes than the South-East.
2. Slicks Coping On Ice and Snow. No punctures either
3. Wildlife Following Us. As well as rabbits running across the frosty fields to our side, a bird of prey (possibly a Buzzard) followed us on-and-off for a couple of miles around Wallingford. Obviously we must have been looking weak and vulnerable at this point (at least until our pub-lunch)
4. Getting 15 "Mornings". When overtaken by the local cycle club out for their Sunday morning run.
Overall it was a good ride, with the Sunday morning the undoubted highlight. Inevitably for a Sustrans route going through urban areas, some of it tended towards alleys and pathways that can reduce your average speed somewhat and aren't necessarily that picturesque. If I was doing it again, I'd probably try and swap some of these out, for more rural lanes.
If you go expecting something like the C2C or the Devon-Coast-to-Coast, you'll probably be disappointed by the extent to which our crowded corner of the island is now dominated by man's footprint, but for an easily-organised weekend out of London, it was a lot of fun.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Yesterday, while recovering from the cold I caught while cycling in the snow to Oxford at the weekend, I heard the following interview with Brompton Cycle's Will Butler-Adams. It's pretty fascinating, I didn't realise they were still actually built in London (Brentford, a mile from where I went to school)
BBC iPlayer (only valid for a week)
It starts about 1:35 in, so you'll need to fast-forward to that, to avoid the 80s jazz.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
If you try to book a bike reservation through an external ticket seller like The Train Line, and they tell you one isn't available, it may be worth checking with the train company themselves. This has happened to me at least twice, most recently this week. In both cases, bike reservations weren't available NOT because the train was already full of bikes (as The Train Line said), but because it was a revised timetable and therefore you couldn't reserve anything, seats or bikes, on the train. In this case, the nice lady at First Great Western has advised me we should be ok, if just turn up and stick our bikes on the train.
Mind you, if we have more snow, who knows if the train will actually turn up.