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Haven’t you got better things to do?

Keithlard goes bikling

As part of essential investment in plant and equipment for Project Hott, I bought myself a bike :D

It is this bike:

The man at the shop was super helpful and friendly, and with his advice and Steve’s I got all the right accessories including lights, a big badass lock, Pitlock skewers that stop you taking the wheels off without the key, a garishly coloured helmet, and a special saddle that is electronically coded to my personal arse! OK not that last one. But hopefully it will not be nicked, even though I am too nervous to leave it anywhere out of my sight, so it is probably coming to bed with me later!

I have woken up with a few strange bed companions in my time, though most of them were at least recognisably human.

So I bikled back home from work, and it only took 0 hours and 25 minutes! That is super quick really as it takes longer by tube. And it was uphill. I am hugely unfit obviously but I did not find it too bad, so that is encouraging.

They were great at the shop and tuned up the bike and fitted all the accessories for free, and I get a free service after a month. So everyone should get all their bikes and bikling accessories from Jason at Cycle Surgery in Camden. That concludes this commercial messidge.

Now I am relaxing with a cold beer and Indian snacks! So it was a good day all around really.

Wizzo for bikes!

I went out on the bike today and it was great! I cycled round some of my normal walking routes, through the woods and visiting Henrietta’s pond, then over the golf course and down past the substation onto Totteridge Common, round by the rugby club, through the allotmints and back along the brook. The bike stood up very well to the stony, rutted, hard-baked mud trails and a lot of shaking and bumping. I think it is likely that I will break before the bike does.

The only annoying bit, predictably, is having to ride on the road and being hassled by car drivers. You have two choices as a cyclist:

  1. Ride practically in the gutter so that cars can pass you, while you’re bumping over drain covers and colliding with incautious pedestrians, being squeezed and scraped by huge vans and lorries. This is dangerous as you are invisible, both to people overtaking you and to people waiting at side junctions. While riding past parked cars there is a constant risk that someone will blindly open their door and put you in hospital.
  2. Take a commanding position just to the left of the centre of the lane. This forces motorists to consider you as something to be overtaken, rather than simply squeezed past. They have to wait until there is actually room to overtake, which is much safer, but clearly infuriating to drivers as they roar past at one million revs, honking and gesticulating.

I’ll take a few honks, to be honest. I’m rather baffled at the fury that cyclists seem to engender in the average driver, but it’s better than being invisible. The curious thing is that when I’m driving I have absolutely no problem dealing with cyclists. I keep well back until I’m sure that I can pass them safely leaving plenty of room, and then I overtake smoothly and efficiently. What I don’t do is edge closer and closer to the cyclist’s back wheel, hoping to intimidate them into moving over, or falling off. I’ve never found myself delayed by being behind a bike - in fact, they’re usually strolling past me while I fume impotently in a long traffic jam. Perhaps that’s what some drivers find irritating.

I was curious about what the Highway Code says about road positioning for cyclists. Apparently, nothing at all - other than such helpful advice as not to carry things which might affect your balance, such as grandfather clocks, or fridges.

Wikipedia says “In the 1960s and 1970s it was common for novice cyclists to be instructed to ride as close to the nearside kerb as possible. It is now understood that this encourages dangerous overtaking, by acting as a tacit invitation to overtake and by giving a false impression of the amount of space a cyclist needs. Modern practice places the cyclist much further into the traffic stream.”

I do not remember what they told us when I did my Cycling Proficiency but it is probably irrelevant as that was in 1868. Keithlard’s cycling advice is to ride where you need to for safety, and tough luck for any cars behind.

I do not know what you think.