Thursday, 22 December 2011

Season's greetings for bicycle lovers

Ah, Christmas time is finally upon us, the season of no work and an excuse to gorge yourself on treats! I suspect that my bicycle thighs of muscle (yes they have grown, and no I don't like it!) will turn into bicycle thighs of wobble.  Besides that, I'm going to be getting down and technical by fixing the puncture I got on Tuesday caused by all the glass which seems to be decorating the roads at the moment. I was confident that I had perfected my bike-dodge-glass-manoeuvre but perhaps I need a little more work polishing my technique.  I have been recommended to buy Schwalbe marathon flat proof tyres which I'm going to purchase in the new year, they promise to 'make punctures a memory' - now we're talking! As someone who knows NOTHING about bike maintenance, please feel free to let me know any tips/links etc for changing tyres! I am somewhat clueless about the world of bike maintenance...As clueless as Boris is about #howtomakeacyclingcity

Right, back to Christmas cheer. Have a look at what a received in the post today from a dear friend-

 A package wrapped in bicycle fabric, beautiful! I'm going to turn it into a cushion in the new year.

And if you are a lover of vintage pictures and bicycles then here is a glimpse of retronaut's most recent post, Vintage Christmas Bicycle Ads! These are my favourite:

Season's Greetings to you all, have a lovely Christmas! Don't forget that turkey makes for excellent bicycle fuel!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

My shiny new winter rain coat

The last week has been a microcosm of British winter weather with wind, rain, freezing coldness and a little bit of snow chucked in. It is quite clear that the weatherman/woman now means BUSINESS, so this meant I needed to up my game fast, super fast. So I purchased a new raincoat to help protect me from the worst of England’s elements (well hopefully!) when I’m cycling to and from that place I love so much, work.
Bought from American Apparel for £98, I’d say it is on the expensive side, but who can turn down a nice parka with a warm lining and made in America! This raincoat caught my eye because it has a nice snug lining in a lovely tartan pattern to keep me warm on the windy days. The length is also appropriate for cycling with the coat just finishing at the knee which means firstly, I can wear a short skirt and have decent coverage, and secondly, my knees won’t get cold and wet. WIN!

It has a secure zip and poppers for extra rain protection and it pops right up high on the neck. Team it with a helmet or a hat and it will keep your barnet nice and dry from an icy downpour.

I know, I am headless here. It was a bad hair day!
So the true test my friend is how it stands up to the cold and rain. Well I know it's not what you want to hear but I have been doing a rain dance everyday to entice the skies to open on my morning cycle commute. When I saw grey clouds the other week I thought the time had finally come and sure enough, the rain never happened. Then came Monday this week. The weatherman on the radio promised rain in the southwest of England, not in the SOUTHEAST. So I left my new coat in the wardrobe and wore my winter cosy, thick wool coat. 5pm rolled up and what was there? RAIN! Rain, rain rain and there I was cycling home with my nice new raincoat at home tucked up warm and dry, and me in the cold chilling rain getting drenched. 

Ah well…..! Never trust BBC weather! I learned my lesson and will be more prepared next time. A cup of tea cured my woes of a soggy winter bike ride.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Cambridge - a cycling city

Don't worry cycle friends! It may seem like I've cycled off the edge of London in the last few weeks, but fear not, I have been pedalling around as usual but now with icy fingers, toes and nose in this cold chilly weather!
Cycle parking outside the train station

And what a better way to spend a chilly December day than visiting our neighbouring cycling city, Cambridge. As you may know, Cambridge is recognised as a 'cycling demonstration town', along with other cities such as Brighton and Darlington.  I worked one summer with Brighton and Hove council on their 'journey on' project which aimed to promote the use of cycling and other forms of sustainable transport use in the city. However Cambridge by far exceeds the amount of cyclists than Brighton and they do so in style. It is a true cycling city. 

Wandering around the cobbled streets, I was pleased to observe a wonderful mass of wrapped up cyclists braving the bitter cold weather to the beautiful backdrop of the city of Cambridge. And here are some of the observations I made, they are not fact but just some of the interesting things I noticed:
  • Cyclists freely made use of the pavements in the city centre. I counted 12 cyclists within an hour during non-rush hour using the pavements. Whether this is a good thing or not, it seemed that the pedestrians turned a blind eye in the occasions I witnessed. It reminded me of when I visited Berlin a couple of years ago where cycling on or off the pavement is permitted, a feature of cycling which denotes pure freedom and is ideal to entice more vulnerable people to cycling. Controversial to some but I think it works!

  • Cambridge cyclists are stylish! Men and women alike wore everyday clothes and didn't dress head to toe in lycra. Maybe it was because they were cycling a short distance?? Whatever the reason, they know how to do it well!
  • There is not enough bike parking. Coming out of the station I was witness to what looked like a metal graveyard of rubber and rusting frames. I noticed that many bikes were not even locked to a fixed object. 
  • Cambridge is relatively flat. A cyclists dream. No north London hills to stagger up, however this means no north London hills to cruise down...
  • There are lots and lots of female cyclists. I cycle everyday in London and there is a growing number of female cyclists on our roads, however in the short time I was in Cambridge I spotted more women cyclists than men. Hurrah! We are winning the battle of sexes!

So I can only say that visiting a stunning british city which has embraced cycling only leads to one conclusion, I'm going to move there when I'm grown up. And when I do, I will buy one of these beauties from the lovely Cambridge based company Beg Bicycles:

And I will take to the streets and cycle with all the other stylish cyclists...

Source: Youtube by George69w

Wrap up warm folks, it's going to get colder!