Sunday, 5 October 2014

#Coffeeneuring 2014: Ride 1

Destination:  Jake's Cafe, Woodside Animal Farm, Woodside Road, LU1 4DG
Date:  Sunday, 5 October 2014
Hot drink of choice:  Cappuccino
Total mileage:  7km
Bicycle:  Riley the Enigma

Today was all about easing back into cycling, three weeks after my medial glute muscles staged a mutiny, causing all sorts of havoc for my knees -- as if they aren't Grumpy enough all on their own! And then I had a 24-hour vomitting bug on Thursday/Friday. So all in all, I have felt a little fragile but determined to get on my bike for no good reason other than 'just because', not because I had to get to anywhere. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

What Determines "Ride Quality"?

Bicycle frame as architecture

I started writing this post nearly 18 months ago, trying to make sense of what makes a bicycle comfortable to ride. At the time, the particulars of geometry fascinated me. Later that year, my drive to find a bike that would let me ride longer and further without pain led me to having a custom titanium touring frame designed and built, and then a complete bespoke bicycle built up around that. 

After a year with the custom titanium bicycle, I have found myself wondering how much of my satisfaction with this bike is the result of the geometry (and size/shape/proportion) and how much is down to frame material (and tubeset). Would a steel frame made to exactly the same plan have done the job just as well as titanium has? 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Dreaming (Cycle Show 2014 at the NEC, Birmingham)

It doesn't happen at every cycling show that I see something I really want, but it did at this one. 

Stainless steel. 
By Mark Reilly. 

(C) Adam Bell.


And it did for Adam, as well. 

I was a bit shocked when he said "my next commuter?" at the Van Nicholas stand but then he reminded me that his bike parking at work (unlike mine) is totally secure.

In that light, the Amazon bike rather makes sense, especially given its potential as a tourer. 

Hmm, well, we can dream, can't we? 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Cycling For Everyone (Cycle Show 2014 at the NEC, Birmingham)

Adam and I travelled to Birmingham on Thursday to attend the first day of the Cycle Show, held this year in Birmingham at the NEC Exhibition Halls. We left home at 7.15 to cycle 12 miles to Leighton Buzzard to catch the train to Birmingham. (My knees were in nearly unbearable agony all day -- walking and standing didn't help -- so we got a taxi when we disembarked from Leighton Buzzard on our journey home.)

I have had mobility issues on my mind all week as I seek treatment for the current knee crisis and find myself looking to the medium and long term changes that may come. I don't want to do "less" but I may need to do things "differently". Whether that means different ways of doing the same things, or doing entirely different things, I don't know. But I am trying to keep an open mind and pay attention to what comes my way, so that when the time comes that I am no longer able to cycle (a) the bikes I do now, (b) the distances I do now, at (c) the frequency I do now, I won't face a dead end and feel bereft and deprived from the activities I have grown to love and indeed rely upon. I want to know there are options, even if I can't at this point predict how my mobility will change or know what options may work for me.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Mystery Bike

There is a "new" bike in my future. The build has started and I hope will be finished this weekend. 

It is an interesting concept combining certain features I love from very different schools of thought on what a bike "should be". No doubt a few readers will be amazed while others will be horrified! 

I can't wait to unveil this new "brain child" of mine but what I can show you, for now, is a rather unremarkable collection of parts that will be fitted. 

There is one component there that may hint at what's going on. Care to post a guess? :)

Thursday, 25 September 2014

A Change Of Season... And Back (#ScotTour Day 7)

Cresting the 'backbone' of the island

This day was a replay of the previous, in a minor chord. 

We re-traced our 'steps', this time on our bikes rather than on a bus. So we saw almost exactly the same sights... but at a slower pace. 

But the crucial difference today was the weather. Whatever and wherever we had yesterday, today it was the opposite. And while we enjoyed some sunshine and warmth while on the move, the mist and chill rolled in from the sea just exactly when we got off our bikes for a little sightseeing. Its timing could not have been worse. While I had taken arm and knee warmers and wore a somewhat-weather-resistant gillet, Adam (who to be fair does not feel weather fluctuations as I do) was in shorts and a short-sleeved jersey and opted to leave his jacket in our room. So in a reverse of fortunes, he suffered while I... not so much. Unfortunately, his discomfort forced us to cut short our visit to the Skye Museum of Island Life and we opted not to walk up the hill to the Kilmuir Cemetary (and Flora Macdonald's grave) at all. 

So here are some photos from our day. It was wonderful to fly along quiet roads unencumbered by loaded panniers! And except for that badly-timed hour at the Museum, it was very nearly a perfect day to be out on a bike. 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Amiiee's 40 Mile Smile #determined #icandothis

Ready to Ride
(C) Ryan Browne.

This is a ride report on this year's 100 Mile Smile Ride

No, it's not, not really.

This is the story of Amiiee (pronounced the same as "Amy", no connection with the French "Aimee").

The story of a girl who Does.Not.Cycle. The story of an impulsive, stubborn teenager who announced one day a few weeks ago that she wanted to ride 40 miles of the 100 Mile Smile Ride on Sunday, 14 September 2014. The story of a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve but always "has her Game Face on". A girl who chose her own challenge, sought no counsel, did nothing to prepare for it and then chronicled it on the day on social media under the hashtags: 


Me? I just wanted a day out and since the weather was looking good, I fancied a ride on Lorelei. But basically, I was along for the ride, keeping Amiiee company, ready to shore up energy levels and flagging spirits as needed, wayfinding and generally just making sure we didn't get lost.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

On the Tourist Trail: Portree and the North End (#ScotTour Day 6)

Midway through our cycling holiday in Scotland, we took a second day off the bike to get to know Portree and the area a little better...

To be honest, my knees were complaining quite a lot, which posed a bit of a dilemma for me. Taking a day off cycling makes little difference, and walking instead of cycling is in fact worse. But I did feel in need of a rest, or at least a break, even though the town I chose to take that break in is a hilly one. Either way, my knees were not going to have an easy time of it.

Nonetheless, the harbour drew us like a lure.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Catching Up... And Moving On

Sorry for the lack of new posts in the past few weeks! It's been crazy busy at work, with our small team of 6 legal brains working flat out way past normal leaving times. I leave home at 7.45am and have been getting home around 9.30/10pm with nothing but dinner and sleep on my mind. We all agreed over drinks in the pub last night though that it feels we are over the hump of it now, so normal hours and a normal life should be possible again for the foreseeable future. 

So, I hope to finish my reports on our Scottish cycling holiday in June and have them up soon for your reading and viewing pleasure... a bit of inspiration for your own next cycling holiday, perhaps? 

Nonetheless -- the cycling here at home carries on!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Announcing: A Viking Invasion

Yes, I did it:  I ordered a Viking Bromley singlespeed mixte from Parkers of Bolton, taking my chances with buying via mail order. 

Opening the box.
(Is there anything else as exciting as taking
delivery of a big cardboard box
that by its shape and size screams NEW BIKE?!)

If you are thinking of doing the same, here are a few points to consider. 

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