Sunday, 31 May 2020

The joy of cycling


Cycling today I was reminded just how good it is. I wasn’t far from home but I was surrounded by great views. The weather was just right: no wind, the sun moving in and out of white fluffy cloud. And this route didn’t have too heavy a vehicle content. I know how lucky I am, and as I have said many times before, it’s a great way to unwind.

Cycling is accessible to many, they just have to try. And it’s not just the fully able bodied. I’m not totally sure this guy was disabled but it does show what can be done if you are. A recumbent, propelled by arm power.


Not cycling everyday is going to be a challenge when I go back to work, I wonder if a short loop will be possible at lunch time.

I go through periods of not being very motivated, I still get out and feel so good when I get back.

I stopped to take this one this week. The phone for when you were mobile of my youth.
Yes youngsters; when you were out of the house, this was how you contacted your friends. If they weren't in you had to rely on their mum taking a message. Then continue on to the pre-agreed meeting point, hoping they would be there.

red phone box
a rare sight

The next picture was taken a few yards from the one above.

post box gate

And then there is the occasional lager when I get home.

hop house 13 lager


Sunday, 24 May 2020

Behind the scenes


I stopped to take a picture of my bike and forgot about the camera on the handlebars.

In the background if you follow the road into the distance, it's the top of a steep hill.

As I cycled away I realised there was now footage of me faffing around to get the shot I wanted. I'm happier behind the camera so BTS is rare.


Before you ask; I forgot that in my mouth was the bag I use to keep the camera dry. It looks like a weird transparent beard. It's only a short clip; I was there for a several of minutes.

I think this will be my default road route, not much traffic, just over twenty miles, a few good hills and I'm only out for an hour and a half.

And a picture taken not far from the above; it felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. But in fact it was just outside Bletchingley with lorries on the A25 visible in the distance.

countryside near bletchingley with the A25 in the distance

Missed the rain on Saturday, chilled out away from the road.

daisies

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Monday, 18 May 2020

Sports camera

When I started cycling as an adult about ten years ago I never thought I'd buy a camera to record my rides and report bad driving.

After a few close passes I bought a GoPro Hero. Eventually the battery wouldn't hold a charge for very long - it wasn't long to start with - so I looked at the alternatives. The GoPro brand is the Apple Mac of action cameras. Expensive, maybe not as feature rich as others but are easy to use; they are almost the default option.

Summary: Expensive, ok picture quality; poor in low light, short battery life, very easy to use.

gopro hero
it's had a tough life
My next purchase was a bad choice. It's a generic bullet camera based on a Sony chip. The picture quality is great, better than my old GoPro. But the rest is worse.

Sony bullet camera

I bought it because the retailer said battery life was around four hours, and could be swapped when flat.

The disappointment started when it arrived. One of the two batteries was DOA. This was quickly replaced, so that at least was helpful. Unfortunately neither lasted close to four hours. Other sites said it should run for around two and half hours. The best I got was ninety minutes.

I ordered two more batteries from another supplier, one was DOA. Again the charged life was not as advertised.

Less than two months later the batteries started to fail, eventually only one would hold a charge. Then that started to be troublesome; it was time to look around again.

A further problem I had relates to ease of use; setting the date and time, video record length and whether to show the timestamp. You have to attach the camera to a computer and edit a text file. What I didn't realise was that swapping batteries or memory card resets the above to factory default. The forums I read say this is not an issue with everyone. For me it means that if I had a spare battery, changing it or the card mid ride meant it reverted some or all of the settings.

Another issue was the supplied handlebar mount. It is so springy the camera continually flaps about. If it did have image stabilisation there is no way it could compensate. I tied it to the mount I had used for the GoPro. It was a bit of a bodge, velcro and bluetack, but it worked. The helmet mount was okay, but I could never get it straight.

Summary: Good picture quality except in low light. Poor battery life, and user experience. Cheap.

I went for the Cycliq fly 12. Mainly for the battery life. I looked at others with similar promises, but wanted to go with a recognised name, hopefully to avoid build quality issues.

Cycliq Fly12


I had heard the mount was fragile, it seemed okay to me. Although, it is the only camera I know supplied with a safety tether.

The issue seemed mostly to be caused by the twisting action to disengage it from the handlebar clamp. I decided to use the GoPro mount already on my bikes. It would mean I could just undo the bolt, rather than risk a twist. I also didn't need to buy another clamp.

Nothing is ever straightforward however; the mount isn't quite the correct width. I can't tighten the clamp enough the stop the camera moving when I hit a big bump. I'll have to find a shim.

First impressions: battery life is much better than my previous devices, it's very easy to use, the picture quality is as good as the Sony, the stabilisation seems to work, not as expensive as a GoPro.

I am using a 32gb microSD card, it's now the limiting factor if I want to record long rides. It does delete older footage when the card fills, and at low res it will start doing this after about two hours. Most of my rides are less than that so I think I may have found a winner.

Here is a video from it. If only more lanes were like this, just birdsong.



The pictures on this post were taken with my "big" Nikon, I haven't used it since my last studio shoot back in March. Just a week before lockdown came into force.

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Saturday, 16 May 2020

Cycling videos

I'll post some videos recorded whilst out and about on my bike; enjoy.

Leafy lane last Friday.
I wish more of my cycling routes were like this. Even had a driver stop to let me through. Happy days.

2019

2018

Deer

Squirrel

Rabbit

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Sunday, 10 May 2020

Friends

cake and tea at flowers farm

I have brought together pictures from some of the many rides I have had with friends. They make cycling so much more enjoyable.














Then there are the cafes.





Couldn't resist stopping to take a picture, big blue sky.

big blue sky

And of course had to include my bike.

bike leaning against a rock at the side of a field

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Sunday, 3 May 2020

View from the saddle

wild garlic and bluebells

As you will have read last Sunday, the routes I am riding are now very well photographed. I started a new theme. A view from the saddle. Although I have to get off the bike to retrieve the camera from the bag. Now Removing the personal need to include my bike in the shot has opened up new angles and opportunities.

Let me know what you think.

This really was from the saddle, apologies for the angle. The camera moves around on the mount, I never know how wonky it's going to be. A steep hill that is worth the effort. Unfortunately the microphone isn't good enough to pick up the bird song and gentle breeze that greeted me at the top.  I suggest you watch it with the sound off. I didn't realise how long it takes me to climb this one, it doesn't even look that steep, but I can assure you it is.


The Enterdent

Wednesday was a low point in the week. The weather had worsened, I resigned myself to getting wet at some point.
black and white hill moody clouds
the dark clouds matched my mood
The rain held off for a while after I left the house, allowing me time to warm up. It was just a drizzle that never delivered a drenching.

A high point of the week was reading North to Alaska by Trevor Lund. A ride from the southern to northern tips of the Americas.

North to Alaska Trevor Lund
got myself comfy for an hour or so of reading
It hooked me straight away, I finished it on Friday. The pace, level of detail and writing style is just about right for me. Each day as I got comfy to read it I find myself wanting to complete one more page before having to stop.

I haven't cycled anything to rival this epic ride, or had to sleep rough; but it does resonate with me. A few years ago two friends and I rode to Paris - no guided ride though - we carried all we needed on the bikes and stayed in B&B's. The route and difficulty not a patch on Trevor's, it did create great memories for the three of us.

Richard made a video from recordings on his phone and some pictures I took.



Another reason for my low motivation wasn't the potential soaking, it was having to ride alone. The occasional solo ride is okay, I can start when I want, ride as long as I feel like, go anywhere. But it's been a long time since an accompanied outing. It's now become a challenge to get out every day, rather than something I look forward to. Sometimes it's just so that I can say I've done it.

There should have been rides to pubs and cafes by now or just the usual outings to drink tea and chat.

pub ride in 2011
pub ride in 2011
Trevor rode mostly alone. I wonder how people related to the stories on his return.

The only comparable routes in the UK are Lands End to John O'Groats, or riding around the coast. The former is one I would love to do, given the time and money. No more than a local warm up compared to the book.

Thursday was a bad day; another puncture and then getting caught in a hailstorm close to home. As always my mood improved after a shower and tea.


Fair play if you watch the above until the end. Two minutes of me climbing through the trees after replacing the inner tube. I repaired the leaky one later in the kitchen.

Last week insects were bouncing off me, this week it was hailstones.

Friday I cycled past more evidence of how poorly some regard the countryside.

wheels amongst the bluebells
wheels amongst the bluebells
I have seen more fly-tipping over the years, it saddens me to see beautiful areas damaged in this way.

The sun returned on Saturday so I went out on the road bike, the previous days have been on the mountain bike.
a lane off pilgrims way
a lane off pilgrims way

I couldn't resist taking another pic of my bike. Followed by a view both ways along Pilgrims Way. 




More insect derived protein was consumed: I was really peppered with them all along the lane. Not complaining, it's better than hailstones.


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