Friday, 28 May 2010

It's taken me a couple of days to notice the new transport minister... and it appears he's a nobber

Oh dear. According to an interview with the Evening Standard it would appear he's too scared to cycle in London but, at the same time, thinks cyclists aren't aware of the dangers. Hmmmmmm

'Perhaps they need wingmirrors'? For what? To be distracted by instead of learning behind properly?

He's frightened by the way 'we' pull out around other cyclists 'unaware of the car behind' is he? Perhaps he should be more scared of the cars behind 'us' cyclists who refuse to acknowledge our signals as we pull out and seem intent on running us over for having the audacity to cycle quickly. These are often the same cars whose drivers berate others for going too slowly.

There there dear, get into the cool dark interior of your Jag and it will all go away.

Lady Julian has done a magnificent post on this subject, enjoy.

The pupil has become the master...

Last night S and I bumped into bicycleslut on the way home. She accompanied us part of the way on a gorgeous red Brompton and the three of us pootled home. It was only as we hit the A4 cycle track that I realised our average speed was up by about 4kph and I anxiously looked at S to check she was ok. Of course she was. In fact, she looked positively radiant so we continued at the increased pace and dropped her home.

This morning S and I set off once more and I found myself looking behind for her only to realise she was out in front and we were making record time. By the time we hit Hammersmith she was going like a pro. But then we hit a snag or, rather, it nearly hit her. The traffic up to the one-way was stationary and S decided, quite wisey, that she didn't fancy going up the left-hand-side of the large lorry in front of us, so she stopped.

I heard a nasty roaring whine from behind me and a motorbike decided he'd squeeze past us. He was too close when he passed me, but by the time he got to S, his wheel was halfway up onto the pavement to get past and he missed her handlebar by a couple of inches at most.

I was worried and, trapped by a car, could only look on as S carried on up to the ASL box. I was confused as normally she's happy to queue. She handled the lane change with aplomb and I caught up at the next light. I turned to ask if she wanted to stop for coffee.

'He said I was going too slowly!'


'I caught up with that motorbike and said could he try not killing me next time and he said I was going too slowly!'

It transpired that S had gone up the ASL to tell said motorbike that he had come too close and he had no idea what she was talking about, so oblivious had he been to what he'd done. Far from upset, S was enraged that he'd been so careless and put her in danger for nothing. She'd caught up with him so he hadn't saved any time.

After we'd arrived at work, showered and got coffee we were laughing about his micropenis, so there's no lasting damage. I'm proud. She didn't swear or get overly aggressive, she simply alerted him to the fact that he'd been driving dangerously and, with me far behind, then got on with her commute and crossed a large and difficult junction alone without letting him ruin the rest of her day.

What a gal.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Nothing to talk about....

A smooth ride in with S, so nothing to report, how boring.....

**Edit: 100 posts so far this year, hurrah! Long may the wittering continue.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Trackstands and leaf blowers

Hi guys, yes you, the ones with the trackstand attempts.

Let me let you in on a secret people: that whole attempting to stand upright on a wobbly stationary bike; the slow creeping forward that's made at least two of you fall over in front of me; that super extension of the neck and swivelling motion to see all junctions; the sudden halt as a car comes haring round the corner; the near misses with cars; the being sworn at by drivers; all of it can be avoided.

Yes, wait until the light's green and you can cross the junction without all that palarva. Simples.

Oh and Mr Council Road Cleaner Man, thanks for cleaning the streets, but using your leaf blower to direct the dust, dried flowers and leaves and road crud right into my face? Not cool.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


Having been asked about gloves, here are some thoughts.....

Definitely wear them! I started developing unsightly callouses without and I have been assured by those more experienced at falling off that your hands often go down first so they're vital to protect you from road rash.

I used to own some Altura Synergy gloves. They have gel in the pressure points and make for a very comfy ride. Said gel did start to escape after a couple of months of every day wear but, having spoken to a couple of other people, it would appear that this happens with other gel gloves and for £17.99 a pair (less when they're on sale) I didn't worry too much about it and just replaced them.

My current short finger gloves are also Altura, but they're from the Gravity range. I can't find the ladies ones on Wiggle at the moment, but that's where I got them from, again on sale. They don't have gel padding but as I'm mainly on-road that works for me. I sweat a LOT, therefore I like gloves that can be cleaned without damaging them and I don't tend to spend a great deal on them on the basis that if they start to smell, I can get new ones.

For those who fancy smarty ones in leather or the like, Knog do nice ones available from Cyclechic. The Love Hate ones in red and white are my favourite. I dunno if they'd be great for sweaty commuting though as leather can get hot.

I'm not an Altura junkie as such (I own clothing and kit but various other brands) but these are the gloves that seem to suit me and I also own a pair of long-fingers from their brand. They are fleece with grip in convenient places. Again, because I get hot I need ones that can be washed and they allow air in so stay comfy as well as warm.

Hope this helps....

Monday, 24 May 2010

A weekend in the country

This weekend I toddled off to the Chilterns for a weekend of patter songs and drunkenness. The venue is not too far from High Wycombe and, as I knew I'd probably be late and was taking the train, I was reluctant to call for a lift. So Reg came along too.

The weather has been glorious and when I left High Wycombe station it was balmy and beautiful (if one looked away from the passed out drunk guy who'd thrown up on himself). The station is on an incredibly nasty hill so I was anxious not to go the wrong way and exhaust myself. I, of course, then went the wrong way. Once I'd walked Reg back up the hill we embarked on the right course and headed into the country.

I had my bright reflective seatbelt on and had my lights just in case because it's all tiny country lanes (with remarkably smooth tarmac) and cars come haring round the bends. It was mainly uphill but the inclines weren't too steep.

Around 20 minutes of wonderful cycling later I hit THE HILL. The venue for the weekend is up an enormous hill. It's near vertical in places and no one even walks up it. Well I did. I decided it attempting to cycle it wasn't worth the pain and, with my lights on in case of cars coming up, I set off.

A few cars passed me (I moved over for all of them as I had my ears on high alert). What I thought was very sweet was that a cab driver, having dropped off his charges and turned round, pulled over with his window down saying 'Keep going, you're nearly at the top and you're doing really well!' before giving me a cheery wave and disappearing down the hill.

I arrived late for the first rehearsal and ran in in lycra. Moomin had collected my music and attempted to hide her worry and assumption that I'd had a disaster. Reg was duly propped against some fencing for his first experience of being outdoors overnight and Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore was wrestled into submission.

I had a fab weekend seeing people, singing and admiring beautiful small children and, in a flash, my time there was over. Moomin drove a lot of my stuff home to keep down the weight and I headed off into the early afternoon with the sun bright above me and so much suncream on I glistened.

It was mainly downhill to the station and it was gorgeous. One rude station staff member and a missed train later (I couldn't see the bike carriage) I was speeding towards London with a fellow singer who I haven't seen for years.

As we approached Wembley I suddenly realised it would probably be easier to cycle from there than to train to Marylebone, cycle to Paddington and take another train. I whipped out the incredibly useful mapping system on my phone to get my bearings and was soon on the road to Hanwell.

When I arrived I drank a pint of water and had a very cold shower. Blissful.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Excellent article on cycling while pregnant

The Guardian Bike Blog again but this time it's a fab post by a pregnant cyclist.

A tricky topic handled really well.

Check it out.

Must... stop... racing... A2... gasp...

Yesterday I cycled in with S before enjoying an eight-mile ride across London for a meeting. At A2's suggestion I crossed Richmond Park and it was AMAZING.

I didn't know there were cycle and pedestrian only roads through the centre. Smooth tarmac and gorgeous surroundings. Enormous Red deer were right next to one section and they sat looking menacingly beautiful with enormous spring antlers as I slowly pedalled past to take in the sight. They're HUGE close up, but while I kept a respectful distance and kept moving just in case they seemed happy to let me pedal past.

I left the park and headed for the river before crossing one of the locks.

All this was very picturesque but my God I was hot. It was incredibly muggy and the air was alive with the sound of small buzzing insects. I arrived for my appointment sweaty and dishevelled. Luckily, A2 works where I was headed so tucked my panniers away and guided me to a washroom where my carefully packed kit of washing equipment, moisturiser and dry shampoo came into its own. I re-emerged looking far more human.

When business was concluded A2 offered to guide me part of the way home. He knows the area far better than I do so I was grateful for the help. But then it happened. I attempted to race him. I was back in my lycra at this point but I was still laden with two heavy panniers on a mid-range bike compared to his carbon fibre lovely and a small rucksack for luggage.

We whizzed along anyway as we're both fairly quick off the mark but my one overtake (23mph) was an error. Afterwards I panted for some time as A2 discreetly took a notch off the speed to allow me to compose myself after seeing my tomato face and hearing the panty wheeze of someone ill-matched their opponent. He dropped me off and I cycled the rest of the way alone. All in all I cycled around 11 miles home, plus the eight I'd cycled two hours before.

I was a wee bit tired this morning. Probably not a good thing that I had to drop camping supplies to my parents' house for them to drive them to where I'm going this weekend before picking up S this morning. Sigh.... Sooooo tired.....

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Screw the scouts, cyclists are the preparation kings

This afternoon I have to cycle straight to an important appointment. It's eight miles from the office and there's no direct transport link. I don't really have any other practical option other than to cycle.

Prep started last week. I looked into the transport situation and decided to cycle.

The last two days I've been researching routes. Yesterday A2 sent me a perfect one that's not too arduous (read sweaty) and it's pretty as it goes through Richmond Park.

This morning I was up early to decide on outfit (transferable from bike to walking around looking smartish) and 'the kit'. Facial wipes? Check. Dry shampoo? Check. Deodorant? Check. Make-up? Check.

Get to work this morning. Damn! I haven't bought new shampoo (current one makes my hair greasy and gross). Off to Hammersmith Broadway in lycra to pick some up.

I'm now ready, in a transferable outfit with clean hair and all the necessary bits and bobs. I'm also knackered. Zzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Yet another 'why are women so rubbbish at cycling' article

This time it's the Guardian Bike Blog.

The topic is valid (why are more women being hit by HGVs in the London even though they're the minority of cyclists). AND my comment got lots of recommends.

However, I'm sick of this victim-like approach to reporting on female cyclists. The whole 'I'm frightened', 'Cars will beep at me', 'Wobbling around' attitude, personified by Petronella Wyatt, is just so boring. Not to mention offensive. Yes there are some women out there who are nervous, but so are a lot of the men I pass every day.

When will a national newspaper have the balls to publish an article by a confident, competent woman cyclist?

My regular readers will know I cycle around 100 miles a week on-road and am fairly new to the cycling game. Am I a hero? No. I'm just trying to get to work and can't drive.

The pink jersey

I own two Pearl Izumi jerseys, both have pink on but one is really pink. I also own a long-sleeved one that's REALLY pink.

As a rule, pink is fairly rare among the cycling fraternity (and sisternity), particularly among those who wear lycra. This means I'm rather distinctive, especially with my bright yellow 'seatbelt' worn over the top at all times.

Yesterday A2 was in town working from a local office and saw me streak past as he ordered his corporate coffee, our company's chairman often says hello when he sees me out and about, children I teach see me and wave, my parents' church friends mention they've spotted me when they see mum and dad at choir practice.

There's an upside and downside to all this:
  • The upside is that when I complain about evil bus drivers I can tell TfL that I know I've been repeatedly offended against as a personal insult because I don't look like any old cyclist; I must also be on best behaviour a lot, which to me is a good thing as it often stops me from tempting naughtiness.
  • The downside is that when you nearly hit said company chairman because he didn't look when he crossed the road you were turning into you spend the rest of the day worrying that he knows it was you........

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Boring analytics

So, I have been totally lax in checking the blog's analytics. They basically tell me how many people read my musings, whereabouts they are and how they've come across the site.

Last year I discovered a scary, but hilarious, number were looking for 'boys pissing', 'labia' and 'rogering'. Hmmmmmmmm

But the results are in and this month people have been looking for super boring things:
  • Wheeled weenie
  • BNP Ealing north
  • Roger bicycle
  • One whole bike

Let's throw some spanners in there:
  • Labia
  • Ladies
  • Pissing
  • Boys
  • Rogering
That will do nicely....



It's about bloody time frankly, but the sun has finally got his hat on. Last night I nipped to Hobbycraft to get wool for my latest secret knitting project. Coming back I went through the local park along the cycle track and it was gorgeous. Bees, butterflies and golfers, it had it all. Even a grumpy cab driver this morning couldn't bring me down from the high.

This morning I picked up S and we went via the river but not the long route, which we may do tonight. The sun sparkled on the water and the traffic through Chiswick was fairly light. I even got my shorts out and the legs were on show.

Altogether now... Let the sun shiiiiine, let the suuun shiiiine, the ssuuuuun shhining!

Monday, 17 May 2010

'I was going to say hello...

But you were going too fast.'

I've heard this three or four time recently as I'm often spotted by people I know when I'm out and about on Reg. Have I turned into Speedy Gonweenie? Hmmm I think not.

I have a nasty suspicion my lycra means people are frightened to approach. It's like armour.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Victory for me, not for Mr Weenie

Last night I had one of those sweet sweet moments that occasionally crop up when you commute by bike.

Between Shepherd's Bush and Acton a guy on a phone swerved left and nearly hit me as I came back. He was a youngish bloke and, in response to my shout of 'Watch it you idiot!', he and his passenger waved with saccharine smiles. I waved back with a similar smile and a slightly different gesture. They laughed and apologised, I laughed and thought nothing of it.

It was a popular model silver car so when I passed it the first time I barely registered it. He overtook again but I definitely noticed when I passed it again a mile later. I didn't see him again for a couple of miles and assumed he'd turned off.

I got to west Ealing and, while stopped at traffic lights, two familiar faces peered out from the car next to me and waved, giggling. The window was rolled down, I couldn't resist: 'About time! Where the hell have you guys been?'

The reply came: 'Naaaah man! How many gears have you got on that thing?!'

I shouted back '24' before pedalling off while they stayed stuck in the traffic queue. I didn't see them again and arrived home triumphant.

Car stomping weenie-style.

In other news though, Mr Weenie came off Roger this morning. He snapped the pedal and has grazed his right side on his arm, leg and knee. Luckily, however, he was wearing the cycle mitts I bought him for our anniversary and his hands were spared. Phew!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Shiny shiny and Roger's home!

Mr Weenie has been warned repeatedly about not using my bath products. I often get given sparkly products and he has emerged with an unhealthy sheen several times. Last night though, things went to a whole new level.

Last night he used whet he thought was a bath bomb but was, in fact, a Lush Shimmy Shimmy bar. As a result he has glitter chemically welded to him. We've tried everything to get it off. In addition, everything he touches shines, the sofa, the bed, the cats, you name it. Sigh.

Mr Weenie's arm:

More importantly, Roger is home!

Mr Weenie has decided to start riding him locally and he cam home yesterday. His gears are still a bit out and his front wheel's still got that slight buckle but he's still sexy.

In celebration I took the 10-mile route to work this morning. I was knackered again yesterday so only came halfway to work but with the sun out and blue skies this morning I threw caution to the wind. It was gorgeous. There's nothing like cycling along the Thames when the sun's out. Bliss.

Monday, 10 May 2010

A weekend of wows

It was a bittersweet weekend.

I missed Mr Weenie a lot but went out a lot too.

After wine at a leaving do on Friday night I carried Reg up and down many stairs, took him in a lift and eventually arrived home knackered only to have sleep evade me as I subconsciously waited for Mr Weenie to come home.

Saturday morning I took George the tandem to my parents' house. Moomin and I giggled our way through Ealing backstreets to music school, where various children oohed and aahed at his magnificence. Moomin agreed that hills are easier with two pushing.

Afterwards it was rugby time and I set off with my sister and dad to the Stoop in Twickenham to watch the Harlequins beat the Sale Sharks in an excellent game that involved a lot of beer and shouting. I've never been to a pro game and it was really exciting and masses of fun. I've always liked the attitude of rugby supporters and, many hours later, when I took a cab home, the driver agreed they were lovely. Originally from Leeds and not a rugby fan, he'd not worked the first few match days just in case. When he eventually did, two rival fans were in the back and he was feeling uneasy. His fears proved unfounded though as they debated both teams' performance in an amicable fashion. He now loves being called to pick up both players and supporters.

Eventually Sunday rolled around and, unfortunately, it was time for George to go home. His owner had very kindly said he could be left with the nearby bicycleslut. I had coffee with her and Julian and met their beautiful quails and chooks. I was sent off with a King's ransom in quails' eggs, three of which I had for breakfast. Mmmmmmmmm mini egg goodness....

To top off this most excellent weekend I then visited a secret bunker. A secret bicycle bunker. So secret I can't disclose anything. But.....

My goodness, it was amazing. Bikes of all shapes and sizes adorned the walls and even the ceiling. None of these new pre-built ones either, but lovingly restored ones, other rescued ones awaiting restoration, custom builds with beautiful metalwork and many more. It was magnificent to behold and somewhat humbling.

All in all a fab weekend, now all I need is for Mr Weenie to come home!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Congratulations Steve Pound...

He's managed to hold the Ealing North seat.

I'm not a huge Labour fan, but I do like Steve Pound, he knows everyone and gives a genuine s*it about his constituents. He was untouched by the expenses scandal as he hadn't done anything wrong and any MP secure enough in his manhood to dress as a Cheeky Girl at a parliamentary event is a good egg in my books.

With a hung parliament upon us and the ensuing mess I'm genuinely pleased that at least one decent MP is in place.

Edit: My goodness, he increased his percentage by 3.5%! Class act.

Unfortunately the BNP also stood and got 1,045 votes. They came fourth out of seven parties.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Cycle lanes... you're doing it wrong

There are many things that frustrate me about cycle lanes but a few things top the list:
  • Bad design that puts you in danger (ones in the door zone for example).
  • When they're not protected from people parking in them.
  • When they're not laid properly.
That last one is a real bugbear. In Ealing there are a couple of sections on the Uxbridge Road that are directly in front of new developments/building sites and they're rubbish. Not only that, but many of the sections that have been dug up for water/pipe maintenance are relaid as bone-jarring bumpy tarmac not fit for a badly done driveway.

There's a new section before Ealing Common coming from Acton, and just before the Tesco garage. I went on the shiny new blacktop yesterday and nearly came off.

When will the council demand that those who dig up cycle paths must put them back in usable format? They should be level, safe and at least as good quality as the main road surface, if not, better.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Whoa! You f*cking idiot!

I'm sorry silver car, but if you change lanes without looking or indicating and nearly hit me, I shout.

Granted I was already cross but still.

Last night Reg's back tyre felt very squidgy but, seeing no puncture, I decided to pump it a bit. The valve broke. It's a presta valve and the middle bit snapped clean off. I decided to chance it and cycled home on it.

However, after getting home and receiving anniversary pressies I forgot all about it. (Thanks Mr Weenie, I woke up to the dulcet tones of Chris Moyles after getting the clock radio I wanted.) Mr Weenie received chamois cream and padded undershorts. He laughed at both but couldn't resist trying on the latter. He then strode round the house saying 'It actually feels like I've pooed myself!'

This morning, as I awoke, I remembered the inner tube. I duly got up and decided to work in the front room rather than go outside in the cold. With Reg tipped up, Mr Handsome decided to 'help'. As I wiped the oil from his nose I couldn't help but giggle.

My hands are sore after a hard weekend's riding and each time I thought I'd got the tyre back on I heard the defined 'SchmoCK!' sound of it popping back out further round the rim. I got it back on eventually and all was complete. I washed my hands and set off.

Only for you, Mr Silver Car, to nearly hit me then wave with a sly grin as I shouted. Grrrrrrr

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Gorgeous George and a Friday disaster

On Friday morning I picked up a beautiful and marvellous machine.

After the March FNRttC's tandem success CC and I were keen to give it another go. Charles had lent us the last one (Miranda) but he was prohibitively far away to collect and drop it off.

The lovely Bicycle Slut had responded to my question of whether she knew of a tandem I could borrow with the response 'Of course!'. Her equally lovely partner the Lady Julian has parents in Harrow and they were willing to lend us their Dawes.

I set off to their house full of hope and they didn't disappoint. I arrived to see a red and black beauty sitting in the drive with huge puffy tyres and sit-up handlebars on the back. J, Julian's dad, talked me through the various bits and bobs before announcing he would drive me home with it. Reeling from the shock of the niceness I climbed into the car and we headed off.

Not only is he cool enough to own a tandem, he also keeps bees. What a guy.

Back in Ealing I took dad for lunch and then cycled the newly christened 'George' to my house. It was surprisingly easy to maneuver and balance.

That night the signs were not auspicious. It hammered it down at around 9pm and then drizzled. At Hyde Park Corner I was dubious. CC arrived looking bedraggled having been drenched as she left the house. The rain eased and we decided to go for it. George is a comfy ride and we set off with aplomb. It's a fairly flat route and, frankly, apart from a heavy shower as we left London, the ride went without incident until we neared the halfway point.

There had been an accident. A shunt had a domino effect and A2 was the final victim. He smiled bravely and waved us on. We waited for him at the service station.

He arrived and said he was ok, we iced the right elbow he'd fallen onto and we had coffee. But then it happened. The colour suddenly drained from his face and he looked very unwell indeed. I decided to get bossy and ordered him to lie down. We found a quiet spot and raised his legs. I went to get ride leader Simon and the decision was taken to call an ambulance.

They came quickly and Simon called the rest of us to attention. We would continue under the co-leader's direction. CC came over. She had decided to go with Andrew as I could pilot the tandem alone and, as she didn't have a bike, she could take care of A2's and get him home.

We said goodbye and I joined the rest of the group. Many calls of 'Where's your stoker?' were answered and we set off.

I had forgotten about the big hill. The Bread and Cheese is steep and nasty with a false ending that fools you into thinking it's over before going steep again. A charming policeman took my pannier and we set off. I made it. I even passed someone.

The back of the ride broken I was able to get George to Southend with only a couple of hairy moments, mainly involving tight turns. I wolfed a hot breakfast and thanked all I could for their support. I'm fairly sure a few of them had stuck with me to make sure I'd be ok.

Luckily, Bicycle Slut and the Lady Julian were also on a tandem (a hugely swanky custom build) and, as they live near me, we decided to head home together.

Getting two tandems on a train is tricky but, apart from a very drunk rude man (he called us Conservatives, the very nerve), we had a nice train journey home chatting about all sorts. Back in London they led me in convoy with another bike back to Hyde Park where I decided to take the train from Paddington rather than cycle home.

The final challenge was carrying George down the stairs at Hanwell, it sapped my last bit of energy and, once indoors, I stepped into a hot shower before sinking into the bed with Mr Handsome purring along side.

It was a challenge I rose to, but when Mr Weenie arrived home and decided to get into bed with me for a nap, I was glad it was over.