Sunday, 16 August 2015

New Lease On Life: Tom's Marlboro

A story from the Luton & Dunstable Cycling Forum's Bicycle Recycle program...

Here is one of the bikes from a van-load of about 20 that came to us from a Sustrans project in Luton when it wound down. This was the only road bike in the lot:  a Marlboro Medallion which had a mid-1980s lugged steel frame, steel-rimmed 27 inch wheels, 5-speed with downtube shifter, unbranded brakes. Completely unremarkable in every way. 

Tom is my boss. He lives about 10 miles away from us and is often on the same train as me each morning into London.  He has a young active family. They live just off a shared use path built on a disused railway line. The family has one car. Tom has for a number of years commuted between his house and the train station using an "old beater" chosen deliberately for its calculated lack of appeal to bike thieves. Or so Tom thought. Until two weeks ago when, just before he and his family went away for their summer holiday, he left it unsecured at the train station and came back that evening to find it gone. 

After the chorus of "Oh, Tom!" had died down at the office, I said "you know, we might have something in the Recycle program that might suit you. It's quite ugly but that's probably what you want?"  "Is it pink?" asked Tom hopefully. "Hmm, I can't remember exactly. I don't think so but it's on the lurid side."  "Oh, good."  Tom left the office early that day to set off on their holiday but I emailed him a photo (the one above) that afternoon and he thought it might fit the bill. Within minutes, he had made an appointment with Adam to come have a look. 

After a good service... and replacing the old worn out tyres with good quality nearly new tyres (albeit deliberately mismatched)... and replacing the bent aluminium stem with a rather nice GB branded steel one... which necessitated finding another handlebar (with grubby but better quality bar tape still intact)... the bicycle may now be rather better looking than Tom wants! 

No need to worry. Tom and his daughter have pronounced it perfect!

The Recycle project has put 30 bikes back on the road this year.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Strange Yet Familiar: Lesli's 1985 Trek 420

When confronted (yes, "confronted" -- there's no other way to describe the 'smack into a brick wall feeling' of getting that call from siblings halfway round the world saying it's time to come home if you want to have that one last visit with your elderly and increasingly frail parents) with an unexpected one week stay in Oregon this summer, I realised two things almost immediately. One was quite obvious really -- this was going to be emotionally a very difficult time. The second decision followed hard on the first but for many would not have seemed so obvious:  I would need a bike to ride. 

Saturday, 1 August 2015


Most of the bicycles donated into the Luton & Dunstable Cycle Forum's recycling program are pretty predictable:  old 10 speeds, mountain bikes and 'bike shaped objects', almost all from the lowest tier in terms of price - and quality. 

There is the occasional exception, such as the Kerry children's bicycle that came in last March.

Today, we got something equally unusual:  a Bickerton folding bicycle. 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Caught Between A Rock And A Slippery Place

I've worn out my Shimano R320 shoes. The uppers have held up well but the rubber nubbins on the soles have worn down and are not replaceable, and the ratchet clasp on the main strap has weakened to the point that it slips loose as I ride.  

Meanwhile, the Speedplay Light Action cleats fitted to them when new are pretty worn, with one bolt missing and the others so worn down they'll have to be drilled out if I want to recover the blue wedges between the cleats and the 3-hole-to-4-hole adapter plates. 

My immediate inclination was to buy exactly the same again... only to find that the R320 shoe has been discontinued in favour of the latest incarnation, the R321 which, unlike the R320, does require heat molding to the feet. I'm not inclined to go down that route -- after all, feet swell and even change shape throughout the day. (And... it's really difficult to find the all-black colourway in stock!)

So I decided to step back for a re-think. 

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Another Cycling Blog... That Isn't A Blog

Sorry it's been quiet the past few weeks here. I have several product reviews coming up but meanwhile have been busy designing and building the new website for The Fridays aka the Friday Night Ride to the Coast 'crew'. 

It's nearly ready pending tests of the newsletter system but hasn't yet gone live. Here's a sneak preview of the home page. 

Yes, this was created on the Blogger platform but will be published to a custom domain. No, it will not work in any way like a blog! It has a static home page, for one thing, and new articles will not appear there but under 'Latest News', with appropriate lead-ins from other pages on the site and indeed other websites. 

It's been fun re-learning HTML code and I'm very pleased with the result, both in terms of appearance and functionality. 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Action 100 Charity Ride on 30th August

I have just received news of a charity ride at the end of August to raise funds for Action Medical Research, the well-known children's charity that has Paddington Bear as its mascot. I have never posted on the blog before about such events, though I do participate in at least one charity bike ride a year myself. 

In any case, Ellie's email was so charming and not at all pushy... and I do believe this is a ride that may appeal to a few readers and is certainly a good cause... so here you go!


25 June 2015

Charity seeks riders for Action 100 cycle challenge

The Action 100 cycling challenge will take place from Bristol to London this summer and children’s charity Action Medical Research is calling for riders to sign up now for the event on Sunday, 30 August.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Rock Creek Weekend

(Arachnophobes may want to give this post a miss...!)

I write this sitting at my desk at home in Bedfordshire. But this time a week ago -- and a whole world away -- I was sitting next to a camp fire in the forests on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon.

My trip 'home' centred around final goodbyes to elderly parents in failing health. But almost as precious  in my memories will be the camping trip that brought me and all four of my sisters together for a "girls only" weekend retreat.

We drove from our parents' home in Roseburg up the North Umpqua River, passing a seamlessly shifting panorama of scenes from our childhoods. I say 'childhoods' because the age gap between eldest and youngest is 19 and a half years, and our memories from this area span all of that plus another 20 years, then (for several of my sisters) after a long gap, another 7-8 years of hiking in these mountains, camping along its streams and 'ridge running' its spider web of old logging roads.

I was travelling "light". I had my (re-packed) carry-on bag from my flight, plus this:

We took two vehicles, each carrying only two people but towing one of these:

My youngest sister's family-built teardrop, after she sprayed it
inside and out with ant & spider poison (a precautionary step that paid off)

Monday, 8 June 2015

Life's Latest Lesson: Don't Panic

Based on the way my knees felt, I returned home after our three days of cycling in France thinking I may need to start preparing for the next round of knee surgery sooner rather than later. 

Backstory -- or, how Grumpy Knees Came To Be

I had an arthroscopy on my left knee in October 2010. There was so much damage to the cartilage (which started degenerating when I was a child), the surgeon said: 

  • I have removed as much as I dare and still leave you a little bit of cartilage for at least some 'cushioning', but what's left is still quite damaged; 
  • Further procedures like this will not be an option (for this knee; for the other, rinse and repeat); 
  • Frankly, if you need another invasive procedure, that will be the end of your cycling*. 

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Tandem Dreaming

FNRttC Burnham © The5MileCyclist 2013 

Adam and I love our Circe Helios Duo and we've done two Friday Night Rides to the Coast on it. However, the value it brings to our life lies much more in its cargo-hauling capabilities. We haven't used it in tandem mode enough to get my stoker position and fit completely sorted to my satisfaction. What we have is okay for 50-60 miles and it's an easy set-up when swapping out from cargo mode the day before a tandem ride. 

However, I do ponder from time to time the possibilities that might present themselves if we had a road tandem with the sizing for captain and stoker optimised for us. At the moment, it's no more than idle speculation and musings, as I linger over stories, reviews and photos on other blogs, such as --

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The Fridays' Tour de Normandie 2015 -- Day 3: Honfleur to Dieppe (via Harfleur, Le Havre and Rouen)

Posts about previous days of this tour: 

Sometimes things don't go to plan. 

Sometimes I argue with my body, knowing I need to win. 
(Usually, my knees are playing at being drama queens and need to be told to "shut up".)

Then sometimes the body says something to which there is no possible reply; it's game over.  

On a drab, damp Monday morning, about 5k out of Honfleur -- having (yet again) had little sleep, conquered a migraine in the wee hours, then fallen down the stairs on the way out of our accommodation -- the body spoke and that was that.

Let me rewind a few hours.

My day started at 5am -- with a migraine. An injection followed and two hours later I was very nearly recovered, from the migraine at least if not from the cumulative lack of sleep which was almost certainly its trigger.

We had to be dressed, packed, loaded and round the corner to the meet up point at 8am. We had plenty of time, as we had bought a few groceries in Houlgate the previous day, so ate "breakfast" while we packed without losing any time.

All was going well until the very last minute, when, arms full, I descended the narrow steep angled staircase and somehow missed the last step altogether. Down I went. I didn't drop anything but my head hit the wall. (By the way, that's how I discovered where my errant Polar cyclocomputer was: in my cycling cap. And briefly between my head and a wall. Ouch.)

I sat against the wall for a few minutes taking stock. I hadn't lost consciousness and didn't feel dizzy. Psychologically shaken but fairly certain I hadn't broken or sprained anything, I stood up and loaded my bike.

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