Sunday, 20 October 2019

You can plan a pretty picnic But you can't predict the weather

autumn leaves, bike tree trunk

I didn't have a pretty picnic planned, but I hoped to get some cycling in. It had rained most days during the week, I knew I was going to be on my own for Saturday at least. All of these weren't helping my motivation as I woke up yesterday. But as I looked out of the window I could see it was going to be a glorious day. I headed to Westerham, my default target if I have a little extra time. It's twenty two miles there are back, with a few challenges to get the heart pumping. I felt over dressed, within no time I was boiling hot. Considering the past week, I wasn't going to complain.

black and white in westerham
A black and white shot at Westerham
Today was a little cooler, still dry and not really cold. I didn't have so much time, so it was a loop to Tatsfield via a little lane for the picture opportunity at the top of this post; seventeen miles in all. Plenty of fallen leaves, a reminder how slippery the roads can be. This time of year there is always the threat of wet roads, manhole covers and potholes. In a month or so ice and snow will add to the drama. I won't put me off, indoor trainers are no good for me. After twenty minutes I get bored and stop. If I'm out on the road, and stop, I still have to get home. There is no roadside assistance or rescue vehicle waiting for my call to action.

I have tomorrow off work, so I might get a cheeky ride in. The world, or at least Surrey and Kent, is my oyster.

Hope you had a great weekend.

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Saturday, 12 October 2019

Open your mind, only gates need to be kept closed.

close the gate sign

Like last weekend I kept it close to home. It's not cold, but a soaking was not in my plans.

This time I was out on my road bike so I added an extra climb. The route is gently up and down with only one serious climb. It was at the bottom of this hill I noticed the gate in the picture above.

It got me thinking about the many issues in the headlines at the moment. And how the internet generates a lot of discussion. It's a shame most is from closed minds. Maybe people should be fined for not having an open mind. There is nothing wrong with being passionate about your views or beliefs. It only becomes a problem when you are blind to differences.

Think of any subject, do a search on the internet, and you will be faced with polarised groups.

A few good rules I use to decide if I want to comment on an opinion are;

Check for name calling. A sure sign that one or both sides have nothing contructive to say.

Are facts quoted, without any checking? A lot of the time it's biased interpretation, highligting just part of the report, or just plain lies. If enough people share this, it takes on a false lagitimacy.

Another good one is to label people, it's much easier to shout this at anyone you don't agree with than to listen. It's usually a sign you don't have anything else to say.

I'll sign off now.

Be kind, and listen.

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Sunday, 6 October 2019

Dodging the rain

black and white bike on the hill

I went to sleep on Saturday to the sound of very heavy rain, and woke up to it this morning. It was fifty-fifty whether I'd go out or not. It's not the rain that was putting me off so much as the cold. This year I resolved to not be dissuaded by rain. I haven't done bad. But it's not summer anymore, did I really want to go out that much? I knew I'd regret it later if I didn't. I faffed around the house, not ready to give up, but not keen to go out. And then it started to easy off so out I went. By the time I closed the garage door it had stopped. I set off on a very local circuit, if it started hammering down I could return home.

The weather improved the longer I was out, it was even warming up. I was still getting a soaking from the wet road and puddles, no big deal.

I had to concentrate more than usual, some parts of the route was under water, there were slippery wet leaves and manhole covers to avoid. And the potential for potholes to be hidden by deep water.

I made it home safely, very few cars helped.

When I got home I looked at the app on my phone, somehow I had done fifteen miles.

I have been thinking about cycling to work, but it really isn't safe enough. Most of the route would be on Croydon's twenty miles per hour roads. But no-one comes close to that speed, when I am on those roads in my car it can be very dangerous. Like when I'm on my bike, everyone is desperate to overtake no matter how unsafely.

There is talk of subsidising the move to electric cars to reduce polution. It may mean less polution near roads, but it won't make them safer or more efficient. Ultimately people need to be persuaded to use altenatives. The money could be better spent making public transport cheaper, and more plentiful and on improving cycling infrastructure

There just too many cars, electric or otherwise.

This video from my ride could be of almost all roads; full of parked cars with little thought for anyone not in motorised.


My wife is in a wheelchair; how are we to pass along this or any road like it? Maybe by going down the middle of the road! Anyone with a pram would be faced with the same dangerous choice.

We can't go anywhere that is accessed by a minor road, unless we drive.

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Sunday, 29 September 2019

Shimano Tiagra 4700

Shimano Tiagra 4700

Back in May I bought a second hand Giant road bike. I have ridden around two hundred miles on it since. A British summer being what it is, these rides included sun, heavy rain and even hailstones. I said it was a vast improvement over my Carrera. But I wasn't impressed with the brakes. The Carrera has Shimano Sora's which aren't brilliant, but were better. I planned to upgrade, and when the bottom bracket bearing started to seize I took the opportunity to have the Shimano Tiagra 4700 fitted whilst the bike was in for the warranty repair.

I was watching the tour of Britain and during the pre start section an expert and ex racer was explaining the difference between rim and disk brakes; which was better and why. He mentioned disks are more dependable in the wet, could require less pressure to work, and maybe have improved modulation, they could be heavier though and slowed wheel changes. But then he said something that puzzled me; rim brakes were for pros or at least more experienced riders. He said newer riders wouldn't know how to anticipate the delay you get with rim brakes, especially in the wet. So that makes me a pro, I think. Although my mountain bike has twin piston hydraulic calipers and bigger than standard rotors, so I maybe not that much of a pro.

This pic shows the new brakes, it was taken straight after a ride. It's used all year round even in hail and thunderstorms.

What did I think of the upgrade?

The brakes look almost indentical to the originals, but are totaly different. There is no lag, they bite straight away, and are much more powerful with retardation in reserve.

I could modulate the force easily, the original brakes just had to be grabbed as hard a possible to slow down. I'm sure it would be possible to lock the front wheel with the Tiagra's.

When Ross said I'd notice a massive improvement, I was a little sceptical. How wrong I was.

I wonder how much it would add to the price of the bike if they were on there to begin with.


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Thursday, 26 September 2019

Ross Cycles

ross cycles caterham shopfront

A while back Ross at Ross Cycles talked to me about his website. He wanted to personalise it. Emphasise him as the face of the shop.

One of his advantages over bigger establishments is that he is there when you visit. He will do the work on your bike. He'll remember the last time work was done.

You'll likely be dealing with different people every time you visit one of the chain stores, and they may not be as passionate about bikes as Ross.

Sometimes I just go in to talk bikes, or the rides he organises. I wouldn't do that with the chain stores. It's handy that he is only a few minutes walk from my house.

The big companies have left my area. They have moved away to retail parks.

I started to think about what shots would be neeeded. I had also to consider how bright the day would be; Ross wanted a shot of the exterior, I knew the interior would need extra illumination. Hiding the two flashes and bouncing the light off the ceiling worked, after a little experimentation.

There is a section on the website listing the many workshop packages on offer. They all had the same image. I wanted to add variety to the page.

cleaning

adjusting gears

adjusting gears

adjusting gears biked on electric lift

And lastly some close-ups.




Like me, Ross doesn't feel comfortable in front of the camera. For this reason I shot the exterior first, then shots of him working on the bikes. Only when he had relaxed a bit did we do the close-ups.

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