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.