Monday, 31 December 2007

December Riding

I'm not sure that a 10:1 ratio of commuting to proper riding is great... Nice to finish the year with a proper ride, albeit a short one.

Proper rides: 9 miles
Commuting: 90 miles (riding to work and back, plus various jotting about)

Total: 99 miles

(Total so far for 2007: 1684 miles (140 miles per month))

Swaledale Off-road

New Years Eve off-road in Swaledale with my brother. The first ride we've done together for years and my first time back in Swaledale in 22 months. Hard to believe we used to ride together up there every Sunday.

From Langthwaite over Reeth Low Moor, up Surrender to Great Pinseat, down Hard Level Gill and then over Low Moor again. Only 9 miles, but great to be up there again and great to see that it can be ridden on a singlespeed.

Distance: 9 miles
Surface: Off-road
Time: 2 hours (probably less, but we forgot to check what time we set off)
Weather: Dry
Bike: Inbred ss (with 2.1″ tyres, 32:16)

Friday, 14 December 2007

1661 miles

I couldn't let the palindromic mile count that I reached after riding home from work today pass without a post.

Next week, there's probably only three days when I'll be riding to work (Christmas parties on Tuesday and Friday), which has me on track for 1676 miles for the year, unless I fit in an extra ride sometime before the end of the year. I need to do an extra 24 miles to match my guestimated total of 1700 miles for 2006.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

1600 miles

On the way home from work yeaterday, I passed 1600 bike miles for the year.

Friday, 30 November 2007

November Riding

No proper rides, but a full month-worth of commuting. Just 11 miles short of last November's total. I need to do 115 miles in December to match last year's guestimated mileage which should be doable.

Commuting: 126 miles (riding to work and back, plus various jotting about)
Business: 31 miles

Total: 157 miles

(Total so far for 2007: 1585 miles (144 miles per month - on course for 1728 miles for the year))

Monday, 26 November 2007

John Stamstad

1996 Outside magazine profile of John Stamstad: That Which Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stranger.

"High intensity--pain--makes you think twice about what you're doing," says Stamstad. "It takes an enormous amount of strength to win a two-hour mountain bike race, but no matter how hard you ride, you never get to the point where you say, 'God, I don't know if I can make it.' In longer races you always reach the point where it's easy to stop." Stamstad's secret seems to be that he eliminates the quit-or-not-to-quit argument altogether. "I just make the decision before the race that I'm going to finish, no matter what," he says. "That way, I never have to decide whether to quit, because it's just not an option. If you go into a race saying, 'If I get really tired, I'll just drop out,' no matter how mentally strong you are, you'll take the easy way out."

He's currently a Patagonia Company Ambassador for trail running.

I am a normal guy who thinks that doing ‘extreme’ things is actually a normal human activity to do. If you look at the last few thousand years, going for an all day trail run is more normal than say, drinking beer and watching football (though I do that too). Deep down I think we all feel the need to explore and generally when I explore the physical word it leads to an emotional adventure as well.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Bloody students

Get back to work!


Friday, 16 November 2007

The preliminary preparation which must precede training

I'm somewhat lacking in the "sufficient sleep to throughtly recuperate mind and body" department...

Though training in its full sense requires a certain amount of time and attention, as well as the observance of some definite rules, the preliminary preparation which must precede it is a simple affair, and in fact is just what everyone desiring to have a sound body, capable of performing all its functions properly, ought to undertake. It involves little more than regular hours; sufficient sleep to throughtly recuperate mind and body; good, wholesome food; great moderation in the use of stimulants; and regular, daily, brisk, outdoor exercise. Such a system as this is so extremely modest that it is hardly worth the dignity of a name, and probably would not receive one were not the conditions of modern life so complex and harassing that simple and natural ways of living are almost unknown.

From: Cycling For Health and Pleasure: An Indispensible Guide to the Sucessful Use of the Wheel, by Luther H. Porter, Dodd, Mead, and Company, 1896

This week's Wisdom of the past from Matt Chester.

Mileage update

Improving, but could do better.

On the way to work today, I passed 1500 miles for the year. On the way home from work tonight, I'll pass October's mileage total.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Singlespeed Definition

SS is all about being under prepared and drinking beer. The less technology and effort the better. I don't remember Vikings having Thrust and Blow Meters on their battle axes.
SS'ing is pain, regret, poor gear choice, hangover-laden excuses, facial hair, negligence, piss-poor maintenance, death, and mad skilz that most certainly pay the bilz.

Rich of Team Dicky posts a comment, after Dave Harris fits a Power Tap on a singlespeed.

[via Cellar Rat]

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Great Milk Stout Ride 2007 - Official Report

I've already written about my Darlington - Great Milk Stout Ride - Darlington ride, but I get a special mention in the official report so I'm posting about it again: 5th Great Milk Stout Ride – 30 September 2007 (pics).

How do online bike shops make any money?

I just bought a few things from Wiggle: a new bike light, the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioche and a reflective rucsac cover.

* The lights were cheaper than buying the separately as they were in a combi pack.
* All three items were listed for lower than the RRP.
* There's an extra 20% off lights in November.
* There's an extra 10% off all orders over £50 in November.
* P&P was free.
* I got a fiver off my order with an e-voucher that they'd sent me because I'd not bought from them for a while.
* Hamsterley Trailblazers get 10% of the order, because I used their affiliates link to go to the shop.

How the hell do Wiggle make any money?

Update: Everything arrived this morning, with a free pack of Haribo jelly sweets. The lights are bloody bright!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

October Riding

A rubbish month for riding. I lost four days of commuting with a bad knee. I lost another week with a chest infection and another week with half-term. No proper rides and just two trips for work.

the worst month since records began!

Total: 75 miles

(Total so far for 2007: 1356 miles (136 miles per month - on course for 1627 miles for the year))

Friday, 26 October 2007

No bike ride, but the veg patch gets closer

Instead of going for a ride this morning, I did some more digging. I finished digging over the second bed, made a brick pathway running between the two beds (using bricks we've found in the garden over the years), transfered some more rabbit-poo goodness into the beds and put the two wooden ends to the first bed.

Each of the two beds if 2.2m by 1.2m, so we've got about 5.25 sq m of growing space in these two beds. The old bed is 2.3 sm m and the small patch outside the back door is about 1.5 sq m. So that's about 9 sq m of growing space in the back garden.

(I did make a quick trip to work and back this afternoon, for a massive 5 mile ride...)

Thursday, 25 October 2007

The Good Life

We made a start on our veg patch today. We dug up turf from the side of the house, roughed up the "soil" underneath and then shovelled on the soil from where the rabbit pen used to be; seven years worth of rabbit poo and bark chips have made brilliant soil! We've returfed the old rabbit area with the grass we dug up.

We finished digging for one 1.2m by 3m bed today and I'm going to put in another tomorrow. There's space for another two or three the same size if we need them. We've got a small area outside the back door we can use for herbs and salad leaves, plus the area we used this year for tomoatoes and sweetcorn. I'm going to build a wooden edge for the beds, using the wood from the small rabbit pen.

E was a brilliant help, finding worms to put in the beds to make the soil better. L took off her shoes and socks and wandered about in the dirt barefoot.

I'll try to snap some photos tomorrow, but I'm also going to try and get out on the bike; I'm in danger of not hitting triple figures this month!

Edit: I just worked out that I've only done 43 miles so far this month. I'll be doing another 18 over Monday and Tuesday next week, plus 5 on Saturday to get to West Park and back. That's 66 miles, so I need to do 34 miles tomorrow at least.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

September Riding

Started the month with the Hell O' The North, and then finished with the Great Milk Stout Ride.

Proper rides: 166 miles
Commuting: 95 miles (19 days riding to work and back)
Business: 16 miles

Total: 277 miles

(Total so far for 2007: 1281 miles (142 miles per month - on course for 1704 miles for the year))

Darlington - Great Milk Stout Ride - Darlington

Rode to Hamsterley to take part in the Great Milk Stout Ride, 26 miles around the forest, and then rode home again.

Distance: 66 miles (20 - 26 - 20)
Surface: Road/off-road/road
Time: 1.5/3.5/1.5 = 6.5 hours
Weather: Dry
Bike: Inbred ss (with 2.1″ tyres, 32:16)

Monday, 24 September 2007


Try to live simply. A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength. Do not be persuaded into buying what you do not need or cannot afford. Do you keep yourself informed about the effects your style of living is having on the global economy and environment?

- Quaker Faith and Practice, Advices and Queries 1.02.41 (scroll down)

We've got a copy of the Quaker Faith and Practices book at home. It's great to dip into.

I read Thoreau's Walden a couple of months ago, after seeing it mentioned so much in a lot of the blogs I read. A lot of what he wrote on simplicity really chimed with me, and I keep being reminded of things he wrote when doing something completely unrelated.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Hell O' The North 2007

My second go at the Hell O' The North ride saw me cut an hour and a half off last year's time. Crap weather again, especially considering yesterday's sunshine. Riding the singlespeed was fine, apart from some of the more gradual decents where I just couldn't keep up with the geared road bikes. I see a geared road bike in the near(ish) future...

100 miles. 2500 feet of climbing. Three Counties. Two chocolate milkshakes. 8 hours 35 minutes. One gear.

Distance: 100 miles
Surface: Road
Time: 8 hours 35 minutes
Weather: Wet and windy, but warm
Bike: Solitude (34:18 singlespeed)

Update: My right knee has died
Update (03/09): My right knee's still bad. I swore a lot on my ride home from work. Otherwise, just a bit of a sore neck - my legs feel fine.

Friday, 31 August 2007

August Riding

Some proper rides, and two weeks of commuting gives me the biggest total since May, but still not a huge monthly total.

September should be better, with a century ride on Sunday, a full month of commuting and the Great Milk Stout Ride towards the end of the month. Should be 300+ miles.

Proper rides: 144 miles
Commuting: 28 miles (11 days riding to work and back)

Total: 172 miles

(Total so far for 2007: 1004 miles (125.5 miles per month - on course for 1506 miles for the year))

Monday, 27 August 2007

Center is not a destination

there is something special about the ebb and flow of life that I'm happy to be a part of. Injury stokes the fires of passion. Challenge brings new understanding. Failure leads to future strength and resolve. All of these phrases describe how life itself is rarely centered. You rarely experience the "perfect moment" when everything comes together. Instead it's a series of events that often swing wildly from one extreme to another. Or sometimes all you get is a gradual change until one morning you have to put your jacket on for that brisk fall commute. Center is not a destination. It's something to wave to as it passes it by a few times a year and I wouldn't have it any other way.

- Slip Angle - Finding Center

Riding a bike almost every day is a great way to notice the natural ebb and flow of the seasons. Having kids seems to have made life's swings seem even more extreme :)

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Darlington - Hamsterley group ride - Darlington

Rode out to Hamsterley on the road to join in the Trailblazers August ride. It's good to get to ride with a group, and try more technical riding than I usually do on my own. Managed my fastest time to the forest, kept up with all the people on bouncy-shifty bikes and felt really good riding home, too. In a bit of pain now though; shoulders and neck rather than legs though, which beer and sleep should fix.

Distance: 55 miles?
Surface: Road/off-road/road
Time: 1.5/3/1.5 = 6 hours (plus 45 minutes waiting for the group to arrive, and 45 minutes of tea and burger)
Weather: Changeable, but generally warm
Bike: Inbred ss (with 2.1" tyres, 32:16)

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Fixing Teesdale

Rode from home to Egglestone, then on to Middleton-in-Teesdale, then via Grassholme and Hury reservoirs to Barnard Castle and then home again via (some of) Sustrans route 52 (map).

Too slow though. I'm definately not doing the Hell O' The North fixed, but will give it a bash singlespeed.

Distance: 65 miles
Surface: Road
Time: 7 hours
Weather: Nice and warm, sunny
Bike: Solitude fixie (with 45c tyres, 34:16)

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Fixing Eggleston (Day 3)

Rode home. 24 miles, mainly downhill. My hands hurt; I think I need to move the saddle back a bit, and tilt the nose up a little.

Distance: 24 miles
Surface: Road
Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Weather: Nice and warm, sunny
Bike: Solitude fixie (with 45c tyres, 34:16)

July Riding

An average month, mileage-wise. Looks bad for July, which should be a major month, but I've been off work since the sixth and we went away on a bike-free holiday for 11 days. Plus, all my 'proper' rides were fixed, which must count for more. I need some big rides in August to get me ready for The Hell O' The North century ride on the first weekend in September.

Proper rides: 100 miles
Business miles: 0 miles
Commuting: 20 miles (4 days riding to work and back)

Total: 120 miles

(Total so far for 2007: 832 miles (119 miles per month - on course for 1428 miles for the year))

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Fixing Eggleston (Day 2)

Went for a ride while the others went shopping or had a nap. Just two hours, but on nice steep and narrow minor roads (map).

Distance: 16 miles
Surface: Road
Time: 2 hours
Weather: Nice and warm, sunny
Bike: Solitude fixie (with 45c tyres, 34:16)

Monday, 30 July 2007

Fixing Eggleston (Day 1)

Rose up to Egglestone to meet up with the rest of the family, who'd travelled up by car in the morning while I was at a funeral, to stay with A, A and M. The ride up seemed easier than last time, when I'd been on the Inbred. Don't know if that's down to the bike or the fixed gear.

Distance: 24 miles
Surface: Road
Time: 2 hours
Weather: Nice and warm, sunny
Bike: Solitude fixie (with 45c tyres, 34:16)

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Green consumerism

Green consumerism is becoming a pox on the planet, according to George Monbiot. Reading the free Ethical Living magazine we got free with our veg this week was interesting, after reading this article.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Fixing Hamsterley

Rode to Hamsterley Forest and back; about 20 miles each way on the road. While I was there I did a circuit of the Skills Loop (slowly and taking the chicken runs) and had a ride along the Grove Link. I need to do some tweaking of the saddle position, as I keep sliding forwards putting pressure on my hands.

Distance: 50 miles
Surface: Road/off-road
Time: 3 hours, 50 minutes
Weather: Nice and warm, sunny
Bike: Solitude fixie (with 45c tyres, 34:16)

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Fixing Barmpton

First proper ride on the Solitude in fixie mode. Scared by some cows, and got rained on.

Distance: 10 miles
Surface: Road/off-road
Time: 1 hour
Weather: Nice and warm, followed by heavy rain
Bike: Solitude fixie (with 45c tyres, 34:16)

Monday, 2 July 2007

Sunday, 1 July 2007

June Riding

Suckage. My 30 rides in 30 days attempt fell flat on it's arse and SSUk ended up with a broken bike.

Proper rides: 15 miles
Business miles: 0 miles
Commuting: 105 miles (21 days riding to work and back)
Misc: 10 miles

Total: 130 miles

(Total so far for 2007: 712 miles (119 miles per month - on course for 1428 miles for the year))

Bookending the weekend

Friday evening: gala dinner to raise funds for a group of Darlington young folk to travel to Lesotho to produce a film to raise awareness of AIDS in Darlington. The Mayor was there. Very swanky.

Sunday evening: burying a body* in the back garden.

* of a rabbit

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Note to self

Clever online calendars only work if you put the correct times in...

Monday, 18 June 2007

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Great Divide Race is go

Today is the start of the Great Divide Race. This is a self-supported race following the Great Divide bike trail, from the Canadian border to the Mexican border.

The Great Divide Race is a self-supported, solo competition following the 2,490-mile Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Traversing Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, the route demands over 200,000 feet of climbing along it's length. Competitors carry all equipment necessary to negotiate the backcountry, restocking on food and other supplies from the small towns along the route.

You can follow the race via the Great Divide Race blog and listen to the riders' phone-ins on MTB Cast.

Friday, 15 June 2007

The Great Divide Race starts today

Today is the start of the Great Divide Race. This is a self-supported race following the Great Divide bike trail, from the Canadian border to the Mexican border.

The Great Divide Race is a self-supported, solo competition following the 2,490-mile Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Traversing Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, the route demands over 200,000 feet of climbing along it's length. Competitors carry all equipment necessary to negotiate the backcountry, restocking on food and other supplies from the small towns along the route.

You can follow the race vie the Great Divide Race blog and listen to the riders' phone-ins on MTB Cast.

No Impact Man

No Impact Man:

A guilty liberal finally snaps, swears off plastic, goes organic, becomes a bicycle nut, turns off his power, composts his poop and, while living in New York City, generally turns into a tree-hugging lunatic who tries to save the polar bears and the rest of the planet from environmental catastrophe while dragging his baby daughter and Prada-wearing, four seasons-loving wife along for the ride.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Matt Davies

I've just discovered, via Facebook, that one of my old uni mates, Matt Davies, is Lib Dem councillor for Fortis Green ward on Haringey Council.

SSUK 2007

Last weekend I was down at Ashton Court in Bristol for Bristol Bike Fest and this year's National Singlespeed Mountain Bike Championships. I might get around to writing more here, but in the meantime there are some photos in the SSUK2007 Flickr group pool (including one with me in). Basically: bikes, beers, jousting.

It was my first off-road ride on the Solitude and it was great, even with just 1.6" tyres and a fairly rooty/rocky course. Obviously, I wasn't as fast as all the people with bigger tyres, but I wouldn't have been anyway.

Of course, I only managed 3/4 of a lap - I must have lost a couple of chainring bolts, which caused the chainring to die quite spectacularly. I had a nice push/freewheel through Bristol to get the train home...

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Commenting problems

It seems that there's a problem with comments on the site - you get dumped at a 'page not found' error message.

It might fix itself, or I might eventually get around to upgrading the site, which might also fix it.

Solitude almost finished (again!)

Why didn't I ride yesterday? The 287V levers arrived for the Solitude, which means I now have a working bike after setting them up last night. I've fitted the lever for the front brake and hooked it up to an Avid V brake I had in the garage. The rear brake's still a canti but is really badly set up because there's no way of adjusting the cable tension like on flat bar levers. I was going to fit a V brake to the back as well, but I didn't have a road-type brake cable long enough. I might call in at the bike shop on the way home to remedy that.

So, this morning was my first ride longer than just up and down the street: 2.5 miles to work through traffic on the route I usually ride on my singlespeed.

I didn't die! (But I was scared.)

I clipped a pedal on a kerb when filtering slowly through traffic, but stayed upright and on a downhill the pedals got away from me a little and I ended up just having to life my feet and coast to a halt, but otherwise there were no real incidents.

I'm undecided about whether to keep it fixed for SSUK this weekend, or whether to flip the wheel and ride it singlespeed. I think the combination of a new bike, drop bars, rigid forks, 42c tyres and my first fixed off-road ride might be a bit much for me all in one go, especially when I'm not the best technical rider anyway... I'm not sure I fancy riding a fixie loaded up with camping gear through Bristol either...

30 rides in 30 days - Day 3

No ride today. I suck.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

30 rides in 30 days - Day 2

You know what, I don't think I'm going to be able to fit in an hour a day without bending the rules a little...

I had a Cycle Forum meeting at the Town Hall tonight at 6:15, so I went a long way round to get to it from work, going via home to drop off my new laptop. It was an hour's worth of riding, if you include the time I was at home eating cake and seeing Sarah and the kiddies as riding.

Looking at the rest of this week: the parts I need to finish the Solitude should have arrived today so I should build that up tonight; Sarah's out tomorrow night and I need to be in for the kids and pack ready for SSUK; and I'm spending Friday at work or on the train to Bristol; so, getting in an hour a day ight be trickier than I thought...

Distance: 5.5 miles
Surface: Road
Time: (not) 1 hour
Weather: bit chilly
Bike: Inbred Singlespeed (with 2.1″ tyres, 32:16)

(Also rode to/from work/town today, which is another 5 miles.)

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

New Toy

I got a new laptop, to replace the Sony I've had for the last four or five years, which no longer has a working right-click on the trackpad and whose battery gives up after three or four minutes use. It's a Dell Latitude D520, running XP Pro. It has just over 2000MB of RAM more than the laptop I had at uni 10 years ago...

Monday, 4 June 2007

30 rides in 30 days - Day 1

My original plan was to take a long way home from work for my first ride, but I had to get home quickly/early. Instead, I went out for an hour just as the sun was setting, after cooking tea, cutting the grass and reading bedtime stories to E and L.

I just did a short ride out to Barmpton on the road, off-road to Brafferton and then back home on the road. Saw some cows, loads of sheep a few rabbits and a pheasant.

Time for a beer.

Distance: 10 miles
Surface: Road/off-road
Time: 1 hour
Weather: Nice and warm evening
Bike: Inbred Singlespeed (with 2.1″ tyres, 32:16)

(Also rode to/from work today, which is another 5 miles.)

Sunday, 3 June 2007

30 rides in 30 days

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to ride my bike every day for 30 days.

I ride almost every day anyway, for getting to work and back, but for the purposes of this task/challenge a ride only counts if it's at least an hour long. Two rides of 30 minutes don't count - it must be a continuous hour.

I'm going to be riding some longer routes home from work, fitting in some off-road riding too, rather than just heading home by the shorted route.

Obviously, I'll report on my progress here.

Oh, I got the idea from the Swobo blog: How to avoid the bummer life: 30 rides in 30 days.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

May Riding

Best month since October, and with three proper rides too! Only 16 miles off-road though; I think I might be a roadie.

Proper rides: 92 miles (Three rides: HamsterVI (48 miles (16 of them off-road)) and Eggleston and back (44 miles))
Business miles: 9 miles (one 9 mile trip, road)
Commuting: 90 miles (18 days riding to work and back)

Total: 191 miles

(Total so far for 2007: 682 miles (136 miles per month - on course for 1632 miles for the year))

Monday, 28 May 2007

New Media in Darlington politics

In the last year or so, and particularly in the run up to the local elections in May, I've been reading/using a variety of local websites, both political and non-political. One of these sites, Councillor Nick Wallis's blog, has been nominated for a New Statesman Award. In the comments of his blog, a small discussion of the way parties locally are using the web started, which I started to add to. The comment got really long, so I turned it a post here instead.

I think what people are looking for from newmeedja is honesty and interaction, which is where I think Nick has things right with his blog. If he keeps on posting as he has been, people will come and read it. Posts like those about the Springfield School site or where he posted pictures of new bike lane features and then responded to questions raised are particularly useful examples. These posts also give a good insight into what Nick's doing as my ward councillor and in his role within transport; which will help people make decisions when it comes to polling day.

I'm not sure that a ward level is the right level for the parties to aim at in Darlington as the number of residents is just too small (especially when you discount the technophobes). A town-wide site, which makes it possible for people to look at specific areas of interest or geography, would be more useful - the Darlington Lib Dems have done this to an extent, but their site lacks the interaction of Nick's blog.

The local Tory site had some interesting features, but was a little haphazard. Most of the updating took place within the Feedback section, but it wasn't possible to reference individual posts when responding and the feedback received was added infrequently, making conversations stilted. The site had some videos added, and a 'blog', but there was no way of commenting upon individual posts.

An interesting local site is This is set up as a community site, although it is run by new (and New?) Labour Councillor Mark Burton. The site has a fairly lively forum, and seems to be attracting a different sort of contributor from the more obviously political sites.

The discussion about new media Nick's blog was started by Graham Robb; a name I've seen on the Town Liar forum but who I didn't really know much about. From Graham's posts on Nick's blog, I've discovered he's a bona fide political PR guru, and that he has a My Space account and a slick-sounding Internet TV studio.

I'll be following the local New Media goings on with great interest, and possibly even taking part myself, centering the Bike Darlington blog. I'm interested in seeing how free online tools can be used by campaign groups like ours, making use of free and/or cheap online services and technology. I feel a summer project coming on.

Update: I forgot to mention local Conservative blog Darlington Tory. Newly-elected Lib Dem Councillor Mike Barker has also just started a blog, which I look forward to reading.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Darlington to Eggleston and back (over two days)

We were all at a 30th birthday party for Andrew last night, out at Ann's parents' caravan at Eggleston. So, I rode up there yesterday and back today.

Distance: 44 miles
Surface: Road
Time: About 2.25 hours out, and about 1.75 hours back, total of 4 hours
Weather: Warm on the way there, overcast and drizzly on the way back
Bike: Inbred Singlespeed (with 2.1″ tyres, 32:16)

Monday, 21 May 2007

Darlington to Hamsterley, HamsterVI Enduro

Yesterday I rode to Hamsterley to take part in the HamsterVI six hour enduro. My original intention was to ride to the forest, do the enduro and then ride home again. I was going to take the 'race' itself fairly easy, maybe even stopping for a couple of hours for a long lunch, since I was going to be doing 50 miles on the road on top of the enduro itself. things didn't quite go according to plan...

The ride to the forest was fine; I felt a bit weak on some of the hills, but that's to be expected when my last proper ride was in January. Similarly, the first climb was ok, I took it easy and pushed some parts but still overtook quite a lot of the slower geared riders.

The first decent was a really steep singletrack decent heading straight down a very steep hill, on a very narrow loose trail. As technical trails aren't my strongest point, I slowed before the turn off to allow anyone near me past before I started down the trail. I rode more of the top section than I thought I'd be able to but was really out of my comfort zone.

Half way down the hill, I heard a rider approaching from behind. Fast. He called out either "look out" or "out the way" or words to that effect. As there was a section approaching that I knew I wouldn't be able to ride, I tried to get out of his way by pulling off the line on the trail with the intention of putting my foot down and leaning over to keep the bars out of his way, so that he could get past and carry on. Unfortunately, I misjudged this and caught my front wheel on something and fell onto the trail. The other rider hit me and went over the top of me, with his bike landing on my back and head, the bars neatly wedged into a vent on my helmet.

At the time, the only injury I was aware of was to my left shin which was bleeding a little, but otherwise we were both unhurt. The other guy was obviously not very happy at having fallen off, but we both got up and carried on.

After that, i couldn't really get going again. I finished that lap and did one more, walking the whole of the decent where I'd crashed. When it came to setting out on a third lap, I decided an ice cream and a can of Coke were a more attractive offer, so I didn't head out again. I hung around the start/finish area until the end of the race, then accepted an offer of a lift home.

Yesterday afternoon, I put the poor performance down to a lack of fitness, because I've done no riding except commuting since January, even though the same was true last year and I was still fit enough to start straight into some pretty long rides straightaway. Or, I thought it was just being outside my usual technical riding comfort zone which put me off doing another lap. Once at home though, I started finding other injuries and overnight and through today I've seized up more and more, so I think it was more down to the results of the crash that I couldn't keep riding.

So, not the best ride.

Distance: 26 miles on the road, followed by 16 miles off-road (Total of 42 miles, 67km) - Update: I realised the ice cream run was 6 miles, so I did 48 miles really...
Injury list: a hole in my left shin, which I think is from the other guy's chainring; a bruise/graze on my left ribs, which I think is from the front tyre; a stiff neck; and sore shoulders
Surface: On- and Off-road
Time: 1.5 hours to the Forest, plus about 2.5 hours in the forest, total of 4 hours
Weather: Warm, occasionally sunny
Bike: Inbred Singlespeed (with 2.1" tyres, 32:16)

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

April Riding

Proper rides: 0 miles (That's three months running now.)
Business miles: 18 miles (two 9 mile trips, road)
Commuting: 55 miles (11 days riding to work and back)
Misc: 12 miles (a couple of trips to town, parents' house pulling the trailer, B&Q, etc. This is a guess, so I picked 12 to make the month a nice round number. It's about right though.)

Total: 85 miles

I am no longer allowed to call myself a cyclist.

Two weeks off work, with loads of marking to do, has reduced my mileage to almost nothing. The marking should go away in 2 weeks time though.


Saturday, 28 April 2007


There were three separate news stories on my Google homepage today, which give me some hope:

* The Guardian: Welcome to Modbury. Just don't ask for a plastic bag - we don't need to wait for big business and governments to do something, let's just get on with it
* The Guardian: UN: we have the money and know-how to stop global warming - it's not a hopeless task
* Wired: China Vows to Work Harder to Control Greenhouse Emissions - no text there at the moment, that I can see, but even the headline gives hope

I needed that after reading some crap on forums recently.

(Off to meet my MEP soon to talk bikes and trains.)

Tuesday, 24 April 2007


No posts for ages, as I've been snowed under with work.

Somehow this month is shaping up to be my worst month on the bike since I began recording my miles. It's looking like I'll have done 55 miles in the month despite brilliant weather, two weeks off work and an almost rideable new bike. Looking back to last April's blog posts, it looks like I did similarly rubbishly last year. I have two weekends left, so I've surely got to be able to do enough to keep me in triple figures.

At least I'll be well rested for the Hamster6 Enduro on May 20th...

Friday, 13 April 2007

Solitude build nearly there!

I had the BB and headset installed on the Solitude today, so I finally got to see it as a bike.

There's no brakes yet, and the chain was on the freewheel side of the hub when I collected it from the bike shop, so I couldn't ride all the way home, but I rode the odd uphill section. Wow, the bike feels like it fits like a glove straight away. Normally, when I swap from my Inbred to my Kona or back it takes a while to get used to the new position, but this feels just right. I didn't even need to tweak the saddle height, after fitting it while the bike was still in two halves using the measurement from my Inbred.

I flipped the rear wheel to the fixed side when I got home. I had to lose another link from the chain to do it. I took the chain tugs off at first, but the rear wheel slipped just riding it across the garden, so they went back on.

Not being able to freewheel will take a bit of getting used to, but I've done a few trips around our street and up and down some kerbs with no problems. No brakes fitted yet, so I can't ride it anywhere I might need to stop in less than a couple of bike lengths.

I think 36:16 might be a tad too high a gear for round Hamsterley, but I've an 18t freewheel on the other side of the hub and 36:18 is just a bit higher than I run on the Kona. I'd probably be wanting the freewheel for the more technical stuff in the forest anyway. 36:16 feels like it'll be great for on the road and on the bridleways round here though.

I need to sort out a cable hanger for the front brake, and some cables. Then, once I've got the position of the bars and brake levers dialed in, I'll be able to tape up the bars and get in a proper ride on it.

I'll get some photos up once it's completed, but it looks pretty much like Alex's bike in the first and third photos on his recent blog post.

I'll be riding this bike at HamsterVI next month, if I get round to entering before it fills up.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Stop shopping... Or the planet will go pop...

'Many big ideas have struggled over the centuries to dominate the planet,' begins the argument by Jonathon Porritt, government adviser and all-round environmental guru.

'Fascism. Communism. Democracy. Religion. But only one has achieved total supremacy. Its compulsive attractions rob its followers of reason and good sense. It has created unsustainable inequalities and threatened to tear apart the very fabric of our society. More powerful than any cause or even religion, it has reached into every corner of the globe. It is consumerism.'

According to Porritt, the most senior adviser to the government on sustainability, we have become a generation of shopaholics. We are bombarded by advertising from every medium which persuades us that the more we consume, the better our lives will be. Shopping is equated with fun, fulfilment and self-identity. It is also, Porritt warns, killing the planet. He argues, in an interview with The Observer, that merely switching to 'ethical' shopping is not enough. We must shop less.

The Observer: Stop shopping... Or the planet will go pop...

Some really good links at the bottom of the article too, and mention of a TV programme: Big Ideas that Changed the World: Tuesday 10 April, 7.15pm, Channel Five

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

New purchases, and a sale

(Originally published on Bike Darlington - The Darlington Cycling Campaign blog.)

Today we became a seven-bike family (four of them are mine). My wife got a free bike from her brother which has been sat in his garage for a couple of years. It fits her and is serviceable enough, although it's not the best bike in the world.

Since she wanted to be able to take out youngest around and about on it, we were thinking of a rack-mounted child seat, but when we was Halfords were selling the two-child trailer for 30% off, we bought that instead. This has the advantage that we can fit both kids in, as well as shopping and toys, and it seems pretty waterproof. It also converts very easily into a pushchair, which will come in useful.

We've had a play with it in the street, but not taken it on a longer ride yet. Once we put four stone of children in you can feel it but it's much easier to pull than riding a bike with heavy panniers fitted, which is what I expect a seat would feel like.

Tomorrow is the big test, when she takes out eldest to the town centre. Thinking about the route has shown to us again that there are still major gaps in the cycle network; pavements will be ridden on at times. If "The Magnet problem" is ever solved we will have an almost traffic-free route from home to town, but for now when faced with a choice between riding on a badly laid out bit of road with the cars or on the pavement we'll be choosing the pavement option I'm afraid.

So, that's the new purchase, what's the sale? Our car. We hardly use it but it costs us a fortune, so a week on Saturday it will make its final journey with us, to some friends in Leeds who are buying it off us. After that we will be car-free.

We've been lucky in that we made decisions which mean we had already minimised our car use: we chose to buy a house close to our family, I only applied for jobs I could get to on public transport, we live near to local shops (and only a ten minute walk from Asda), and we tend not to drive unless we have to. We'll see how it goes, and will report back here.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Solitude Update and Some Links

I'm not going to be using bits from my Kona and Inbred to get the Solitude built up after all. On Saturday I put in an order for Sugino XD cranks, a Surly 36t chainring and some chaintugs to HubJub and for a Brooks saddle (black), a seatpost and some pedals to Chain Reaction.

I just added a load of Bike Links in my siderbar, over there on the right. They're are pretty much the bike-related sites I read every day.

Saturday, 31 March 2007

Just call us Tom and Barbara

Had a brilliant family day today. We walked to the shops, with E and L riding their bikes, to get a WiFi adapter for the old PC I salvaged from work and a new toilet seat. When we got home, S cut the grass while me and L did some gardening and E slept.

We moved a couple of plants from the back garden to the front to make room for a small (2m x 0.7m) vegetable plot. I used a left over piece of wood to make it into a slightly raised bed, and laid down the cardboard box my Solitude came in as a weed-suppressing mat and covered it in 3 or 4 inches of compost from our composter.

The idea is that the cardboard stops the grass and weeds below from growing up through the new soil on top, which we use for growing veg. After a while the card will rot down, but by then the weeds below will also have rotted. I saw it on TV on It's Not Easy Being Green last year and looked it up online. S was sceptical, but it actually looks OK since you can't see the cardboard.

We've not planted anything yet, but will be growing peas, tomatoes, salad leaves and other stuff.

When E woke up, she helped for a while, then S, E and L made dough for pizzas and bread. We had the pizzas for tea, and will have the bread for breakfast tomorrow.

Brilliant day!

Friday, 30 March 2007

March Riding

Proper rides: 0 miles (again! No proper rides for two months running is pathetic.)
Business miles: 45 miles (five 9 mile trips, road)
Commuting: 105 miles (21 days riding to work and back)
Misc: 20 miles (a couple of trips to town)

Total: 170 miles

Some riding for work trips and having no holiday this month has helped keep the mileage up a little but work and preparation for Darlington Cycling Campaign stuff (the Symposium and being guest speaker at the Lib Dem's meeting) has stopped me getting out for proper rides on a weekend.

I have two weeks off work for Easter starting now, so I should get some riding in; hopefully at least one long ride. I need to cover at least 68 miles to make up for not commuting.

Update: That's actually the most riding I've done in a month since October. That either means it's not as bad as I thought it was, or that I didn't ride nearly enough in any of the last five months.

Update 2: So far this year, I've ridden 406 miles (650 km). That's an average of 135 miles (221 km) per month. At this rate I'll do 1620 miles (2592 km) in 2007, compared to 1700 miles (2720 km) in 2006.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Solitude build gets nearer to completion

Last night I put my tyres onto my wheels. I put the rear wheel and saddle/seatpost into the frame. I connected up the front wheel, forks, stem and handle bars. I couldn't join the front of the bike to the rear, but I got Sarah to hold them together so I can get an idea of the finished product.

It's going to be one beautiful bike; I can't wait to get it finished.

(Pushing a wheel around, connected to some bars could be the Next big Thing in MTBing. I'm so niche it hurts.)

Monday, 26 March 2007

Solitude build a step closer

On Saturday morning the stem and chain i ordered from Wiggle arrived. On-One are currently processing my order for brake levers, canti, innertubes, sprocket and lockring.

If I use some crappy Wilkinsons 700x35 tyres I have in the garage and take the saddle and seatpost from my Inbred and the cranks/chainring off my kona, I only need a headset, BB and brake cables to get the frame built up!

Update: My On-One order arrived today!

Friday, 23 March 2007

Massive Westminster security breach - Won't be on mainstream media

yesterday afternoon, a lone protester drove her car through the main gates into the westminster compound, her aim to perform a citizen's arrest on tony blair. this was a massive breach of security, but police are anxious to keep it quiet for all sorts of reasons, so i doubt you'll hear about it on mainstream media.

- Indymedia: Massive Westminster security breach - Won't be on mainstream media

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

I've turned into one of those people who write letters to their local newspaper

I've just sent a reply to a letter in today's Northern Echo, which was about a photograph of me in Monday's paper. Last night, I was guest speaker at a local Liberal Democrat meeting. On Saturday, I was speaking at a meeting of 50 people I helped to organise.

How did this happen?

Tuesday, 6 March 2007


I'm here. Suffice to say that I have not been well since October + I'm sorry again for prolonged waits. I am building bikes & 700see does exist...although I opted to start over after major anxiety looking at the original issue #1. The new issue #1 is more like a novella in length (same # pages, but different layout resulting in much more content). More soon.

Brilliant news from Matt Chester about his 700see bike zine.


Matt's added a preview of some of the zine:

The universe sits floating within us. It vibrates and resonates, tones and overtones crescendoing in great expositions of supposed clarity - always influenced by boxes of radiation under control by keyboard and keypad like so many fingers over the holes of a recorder. Maybe an open note is in order, a great powering down, an end to detachment by external means, an end to isolation by pulling out the earbuds and letting the screen go black. A softness. A release. A hazy focus. Who knows?

Maybe one can know all when one feels small.

Friday, 2 March 2007

Babs To Brisbane


My aim is to travel from the UK to Brisbane for one of my best friends' wedding. Plane travel is so environmentally damaging so I am looking for another way. I also think that by travelling over land and sea I will be able to understand our world better as I will connect with the people and landscapes and not just look at the departure board in the airport. Any tips gratefully received!! Departure date 1st September.

From STW:

She is now heading back towards the UK and due to a couple of complications has chosen to fly from Oz to Bali. In order to offset this she intends cycling the final leg of her journey, South France to Wales.

Plan is to take 2 weeks, starting 7th April.

"..... South of France to Wales. If anyone has any advice or tips, lives along the way or would like to join me/put me up along the way then please let me know"

Possibly a bicycle in south of France, suitable for av. height woman (read short, but im 6'0, so 5'4"/5'5")
Accomodation - anything between the Med and the Channel.
Company, support, like minded cyclists.

Can anyone help?

Red Noses Illegal! (near Parliament)

Click here to find out how to avoid arrest on Red Nose Day

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Off-road Fixin'

There's a new out today.

Highlights of this penultimate issue include Martin King's voodoo-free how to on converting a computer to measure cadence, and an extract from a new short story by Michael Stenning, along with the usual slew of interesting bikes and ride reports.

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

February Biking

Proper rides: 0 miles (pathetic!)
Business miles: 9 miles (1 trip, road)
Commuting: 80 miles (15 days riding to work and back (twice on the day I forgot my lunch))
Misc: 20 miles (guestimated)

Total: 109 miles

A tragically small number, especially given that I had a week off this month. Must try harder.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Low Energy Bulbs

australia has banned the normal light bulb. so in the future you will only be able to buy low energy light bulbs in auz.

europe aren't going to follow, they just pledged to reduce carbon emissions by a further 20%.

although a positive move, it's not the clear and simple message australia have sent out to their citizens of commitment to slowing climate change.

instead of a vague 20% reduction this single step gives every australian citizen a clear example and direction to reducing their energy consumption.

why can't we have some clear simple leadership instead of rehashed and respun figures.

- Howies blog: a footstep to follow

We've replaced just about every bulb in our house now. Why haven't we banned the normal light bulb yet?

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Vintage cyclocross

A post on STW linked to a Fixed Gear Gallery page, which contained some photos from this site on vintage cyclocross which contains a link to this cyclocross article by Eugène Christophe, which I've probably linked to before, but deserves to be linked again.


The goal was simple: go as light as humanly possible and take bike travel to the mountaintops. By utilizing the latest breakthroughs in ultralight gear, we — Matthew Lee, Bob Allen, and myself — were each able to ride with fifteen pounds of equipment or less (not including food) for a four-day ride along a mountain-choked ridgeline.

- Excellent slideshow of a four-day lightweight bike-packing trip in Montana.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Want free books?

Why not mooch them off me?

You'll need to sign up and register some books first, have a look at the website.

[via Tom]

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Hamster VI MTB Enduro

6 hour mountain bike enduro event in Hamsterley Forest
Event held on 20th May 2007
(Practise and Registration on 19th May)

The venue is set in the Northwest part of Hamsterley Forest, with fantastic views from the highest part of the course. The course is about 8 miles in distance consisting of fireroad climbs and singletrack descents.

The Event is all about how far can you go within the allotted time of 6 hours. To qualify for spot prizes you must complete at least one lap of the course.

Camping and event village in the forest (camping £5 per person payable at the event)
Entry fee £25 pre-enter or £30 on the day
Bike tech and Commencal demo bikes in event village

- More info on the Hamster VI website

Friday, 2 February 2007

The real reason you're broke

If you're constantly broke and can't figure out why, the answer may be sitting in your driveway.

- The real reason you're broke

[via Dave Nice, via Kent]

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.

Unhappy Meals by Michael Pollan (and an annotated summary of the article at Megnut) [via Kottke]

Thursday, 1 February 2007

William Spencer Hollarado!

If Chris can post loads of snowboarding videos, I can post this cool skateboarding video. I don't think I've heard Bon Jovi in a skate video before. There are some great tricks in this video, like a cross between skateboarding, parkour, snooker trick shots and The Matrix.

Five minutes for the planet

All over the world people will be simultaneously turning off their lights and electrical appliances on the 1st February, to mark the forthcoming publication of a landmark report on climate change by the world’s top climate scientists (see

Please take part in this global signal to politicians across the world that we can stop climate chaos and they must lead the way. To take part in the UK please turn off your lights and non-essential appliances from 18.55 to 19.00

New York will see the lights go out between 13.55 and 14.00 local time, 19.55 and 18.00 for Paris, Bruxelles, and Italy, 13.55 in Ottawa, 10.55 am on the Pacific Coast of North America, 1.55 and 2.00 in Vietnam.

Five minutes for the planet comes from the Alliance for the Planet (a group of environmental associations based in France)

- iCount

January Biking

Proper rides: 30 miles (1 ride, mixed on- and off-road)
Business miles: 27 miles (3 trips, road)
Commuting: 80 miles (16 days riding to work and back)

Total: 127 miles

Update (Jan 2008): I just added the numbers up again, and found they add up to 137 miles!

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

In which I have a bit of a rant

What started as a link to an article in the New york Times about how New York is lagging beind the rest of America when it comes to non-car transportation, turned into a bit of a rant in my latest post on Bike Darlington: The City That Never Walks.

The pedestrian and cyclist is taxed every day: by delays and emissions. Though we think of it as a luxury, the car taxes us, and with it we tax others.

I've been quite busy at Bike Darlington recently, with all the Pedestrian Heart stuff going on (Can I ride my bike in the Pedestrian Heart? - Part 1, Can I ride my bike in the Pedestrian Heart? - Part 2 and Can I ride my bike in the Pedestrian Heart? - Part 3) and the articles in The Advertiser and The Northern Echo.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Change of biking plans


Aviemore, Scotland,
1st & 2nd September 2007

Which means I can't go.

I just looked at the train times from Aviemore to Darlington. I could get back for work on the Monday, but it would mean a seven hour wait in Edinburgh and going straight from the station to work. And that assumes I can get booked onto the right trains, given the silly two bike rule we have in the UK.

Teaching is great for holidays, but we don't get to choose when they are. I'm probably going to have to wangle some unpaid leave to get to SSUK in Bristol in June, but because of when it is in the year it shouldn't be a problem. But, September 3rd will probably be the day that our first year students start, which means there's no chance of some swaps or leave.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

2007 Biking Plans

What started as a comment on Alex's blog, grew bigger than I intended, so I've nabbed it to post here too. Efficient!

My riding plans for 2007 and filling up. There's a six hour enduro in Hamsterley in May that I'm doing. From the people who brought us the SSUK trails, so it should be great.

Around that time there's a planned club group ride from Hamsterley to Reeth; 37 hard off-road miles from Weardale to Teesdale to Swaledale. I've been reading too many blogs I found via Dave Nice, so I'm half-tempted to ride the road to the start (20 miles) and home again (30 miles). Maybe solo later in the year though, not sure the middle miles would be fun with a fresh-legged group after 20 miles and knowing there's 30 to go.

There's SSUK and SSWC to look forward to as well.

I'm hoping to do a fixed road century in September; it nearly killed me geared last year, but the weather was the worst they could ever remember for it.

I'm also eying up a possible big loop made out of parts of the Sustrans C2C and W2W routes, with some linking sections, starting and finishing in Darlington. Or maybe organising a Tan Hill and back ride/race, a la Trans Iowa.

Lots of plans, but as we all ken, The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men Gang aft agley, so we'll see what happens. (I'd forgotten Burns' night was today until it was too late to organise haggis, but it does give me an excuse for wee dram of a slightly underage Ardbeg.)

Can I ride my bike in the Pedestrian Heart?

The answer is getting clearer:

Can I ride my bike in the Pedestrian Heart? - Part 1
Can I ride my bike in the Pedestrian Heart? - Part 2
Can I ride my bike in the Pedestrian Heart? - Part 3

Global warming will happen faster and be more devastating than previously thought. Fact.

A report encompassing the work of thousands of climate experts says that "global warming will happen faster and be more devastating than previously thought". "The really chilling thing about the IPCC report is that it is the work of several thousand climate experts who have widely differing views about how greenhouse gases will have their effect. Some think they will have a major impact, others a lesser role. Each paragraph of this report was therefore argued over and scrutinised intensely. Only points that were considered indisputable survived this process. This is a very conservative document -- that's what makes it so scary."

[lifted completely from Kottke]

Sunday, 21 January 2007

You've got to ride it to believe

Todd at Clverchimp has posted quite an old video showing Selling the Revolution, a thirteen-minute documentary from 2000 about launching the then-new product, the Xtracycle.

I'm on the Xtracycle mailing list, so I might see if I can arrange a local test ride with someone on the list.

Anyone who hasn't seen an Xtracycle before need to take a look. If you're looking for a way to extend the way you use your bike, these are for you.

Monday, 15 January 2007

Riding Advice For Beth

Riding Advice For Beth from Kent Peterson. But, it might work for you too.

To much stuff and things

On the day you read this the same volume of trade will take place as occurred in the whole of 1949

We now make as many phone calls in a day as were made in the whole of 1983

(source: new scientist magazine)

Howies: anyone know where the pause button is..

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Windy local ride

A local ride today; about 30 miles, give or take.

Very windy; enough to bring me a to a standstill at one point, and to blow me across the track at another. Off-road sections were wet and squirmy.

Distance: 30 miles (48 km)
Surface: On- and Off-road
Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Weather: Windy, very windy. But, dry
Bike: Inbred Singlespeed (with 2.1″ tyres)

Friday, 12 January 2007

Windy! Whisky! Wheels! Widing wound up!

Really gusty winds here today. I got blown sideways across the road on my way home from work, even though I'm certain I kept the bars straight; just blown sideways.

There's a quiter, drier patch forecast between 6 and 9 am tomorrow, according to MetCheck, so I'm going to try and get up early tomorrow and ride. I'll get my kit ready tonight and see what happens. But there's Belgian beer in the fridge and Ardbeg Still Young on the shelf...

The wheels for my Solitude frame arived on Wednesday. Surly hubs, laced to Mavic MA3 rims. I've decided to use the chainset I have on my Kona, since that'll mean I can get the bike built up a month or two earlier. I have a seatpost and saddle on my Inbred that I can use, so I'm getting there. I'll probably get a stem, BB and headset in February. That just leaves tyres, tubes, brakes, a sprocket, a chain and some bar tape to finish it.

Commuting mileage this week: 15 miles (Mon, Tues and Fri - in Manchester on Wed and Thurs).

(I just noticed that Mactually had its second birthday on Monday. First Post.)

Thursday, 11 January 2007

The Running Man

"The human body has limitations," Karnazes says. "The human spirit is boundless." Your mind, in other words, is your most important muscle. As a running buddy told him: "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow!! What a ride!"

- Wired Magazine: Dean Karnazes ran 50 marathons in 50 days. He does 200 miles just for fun

Monday, 8 January 2007

The human equivalent of a cow being stunned by a captive bolt pistol prior to slaughter

Any member of the public who voluntarily pays to read magazines stuffed with candid photographs of celebrities walking down the street clutching shopping bags is suffering from an acute form of mental illness that hasn't been diagnosed yet, but surely will if there is an atom of hope left in the world, because a civilian flipping through Heat in their lunch break is the human equivalent of a cow being stunned by a captive bolt pistol prior to slaughter - except the cow, at least, dies for a purpose.

- Charlie Brooker on Celebrity in The Guardian [via Tygerland]

Darlington Cycle Campaign

In case toy can't get enough of me here, I also post on Bike Darlington, the Darlington Cycle Campaign blog.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

No gears for 2007

In my garage I had two complete bikes: my geared Inbred and my singlespeed Kona. The Kona was, really, my commuter bike but last year I hardly used the Inbred, because I kept getting out the Kona singlespeed. This is silly, because the Kona's 12 years old and, after two years of commuting, knackered. The Kona's been getting more and more knackered; the rear rim's worn out and needed replacing and the front wheel was completely shot, plus the headset needs some sorting out, I think. But I don't want to spend any cash on them, because I'm trying to get the Solitude frame built-up.

I'd been given some free replacement wheels for the Kona by JeffH on the HTB forum, which would have got it up and running again for no money, but it just seemed silly getting the Kona going again when the Inbred was sat unused. Plus, having done my round-up of rides for 2006, I realised that some of my longer and harder rides were done on the singlespeed.

So, last night I took all the gear bits off the Inbred, put on JeffH's wheels and the singlespeed cog and tensioner from the Kona, as well as putting back the front V brake in place of the disc that I've never really got properly sorted. I still need some narrow chainring bolts so I can get rid of the big and little chainrings, and the brakes need some new blocks, but I now have just one working bike, and it's a singlespeed.

The singlespeeded-Inbred will be my do everything bike until I get the Solitude built. I'll be riding it to work, riding it on solo rides and on group rides. One bike with one gear.

So, there's my first New Year Resolution: No gears for 2007.