Monday, 17 December 2012

Unboxing of the Road Hawk Ride Head Camera

The New Road Hawk Ride "Digital Rider Protection System" arrived today. Pick the actual camera unit up and it strikes you just how compact and lightweight the thing is. 22mm diameter, 78mm length. 32g. I'd wager you'd never notice the extra 32g strapped to your head.

First off, the features are described on the box:

Diary of a New Cycle Commuter - Week 4 - As Cold as Ice.

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

Looking out of the window in the morning the pavements were a bit icy. The road was fine though so I decided to go for it. All good except for a bit of shared use pavement that obviously hadn't been gritted. As I was at the start of the path a cyclist was coming the other way and shouted to be careful as it was really slippery. Cheers mate I shouted back. I was taking it easy, not making any sudden turns and all that, but the rear wheel still went away from me at one point. I caught the slide though and carried on unscathed, pleased with my cat like reflexes and thankful to the cyclist going the other way. Obviously I know that ice is slippery, but perhaps his warning helped subconsciously prepare me for any "moments" on the ice.

As I was re-joining the next road section of my route I saw a child cyclist coming the other way, I shouted the same slippery ice warning to him as well.

Monday my face was really cold, and with Tuesday even colder I wrapped a scarf across my face and round my head before securing it in place with my helmet so it wouldn't uncover my face mid ride. I also took a different route to work avoiding the icy shared path. Slightly uphill, busier as it is on road, but more satisfying as it goes past three packed bus stops. You can't help but notice a few envious looks from the commuters and school kids not making as swift progress as I am.
Tried the same route on the way home but the traffic was crazy and it required a lot of filtering on a fairly thin road which just slowed me down.

Fed up with unnecessarily carrying my Kindle to and from work, I decide to download Kindle software at work so I can read on my lunch break without the need for the extra weight in my backpack.

On Tuesday I augmented my cycling attire with the head scarf, today I decided it was the turn of the light on my helmet that was pointing too far to the right.
The strap goes in two holes in the top but unfortunately the way the holes are lined up, when it is pulled tight, the light points off to the right a bit. To combat this I destroyed an office stress ball and jammed bits of foam in the holes to make it point towards the front. Success.
Took the road route into work and the shared path on the way back once the ice had melted. More success.

Coldest day of my commute yet. According to metcheck it was supposed to feel -4. I'd agree with that. It was a dark morning as well. However, the head scarf and stress ball altered light mount combined to give me a pleasant ride.

Didn't cycle as I had to take home the accumulation of Christmas presents in my desk. Had to stand up on a coughy spluttery tube instead. The bike is clearly the best way to get to work.

Lessons Learned
Think about extra, less obvious weight reductions I can make to my pack, like downloading Kindle software.
Cyclists help each other in treacherous conditions.
Stick to gritted roads when it's icy.
Stress balls have many uses.

Previous articles in this series can be found here.


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Friday, 14 December 2012

Wiggo for Sports Personality of the Year!

Bradley Wiggins heads the shortlist for Sports Personality of the Year this Sunday, and for the second year running, a road cyclist has a real chance of winning it. Wiggins is up against some great sportsmen and women, including two other cyclists, Chris Hoy and Sarah Storey. As good as they are, Wiggins achievements this year have been above and beyond that of any other nominee.

Arguably one of the toughest sporting events in the world, the 1,282 mile, three-week Tour de France was won in some style by Bradley Wiggins. Dominating his competitors, Wiggins wore the leader's jersey for 15 of the 21 racing days. No Olympic track gold medallist has ever gone on to win Le Tour de France. No British cyclist has won Le Tour in it's 109 year history.

Levenes Cycling Solicitors, Colin Martyr and Tim Beasley
show their support with some of Wiggo's trademark sideburns
Shortly after, he won gold in the Olympic road time trial with a similar dominating performance to become the joint most decorated British Olympian ever.

Wiggins has spent 2012 enthralling Britain. Outside of the sport, he's doesn't get caught up in the celebrity lifestyle that can come with sporting success. He's a true inspiration and according to Chris Boardman, is the "greatest British cyclist of all time."

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Monday, 10 December 2012

Diary of a New Cycle Commuter - Week 3

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

Week two was full of punctures. I only managed two of the five days, hence skipping straight to Week 3 here.
With this in mind, I thought I'd check for a flat Sunday night, sure enough, fourth flat in nine days. Patch and pump it up ready for tomorrow.

It was one of those mornings I wish I had a head cam (one is on the way). Nothing in terms of particularly bad misses, just two idiots in the space of ten seconds. First one was a cyclist, I'm waiting at red in the ASL, a fellow cyclist filters up to the lights as well. Instead stopping and waiting, he does that thing where you snake back and forwards in the ASL waiting for green because you don't want to stop and put your feet down. Amber, he's not paying attention... Green, his snaking has taken him right in front of me. So now my getaway is compromised. Cheers. As he tries to power off, his foot slips off the pedal and he has ends up having to put it down anyway, which in turn stops me, and the queue of cars behind.

20 meters up the road, there’s a school, lollypop lady, and of course "KEEP CLEAR" school markings and signs. Cutting a long story short, it was a MGIF (must get in front) driver who then immediately pulled in front of me to park up on the school markings. Swerving around the car I tapped my head whilst looking at the driver to ask what she was thinking? To her credit, she held her hand up in apology.

Up ahead I caught up with Mr Snakey Cyclist who was waiting at a light, with his foot on the floor. Had to fight every fibre of my being not to start snaking in front of him.

A friend text me to tell me they saw me this morning and that I looked like a fool with a light on my helmet. I replied to tell them that I didn't care, that people seeing me was the point and I saw them and that they looked stressed in their traffic jam. I got a "good point" in return, and my fifth puncture in 11 days on the way home.

Replaced the inner tube and once again checked the inside of the tire. Nothing. For the first time, checked the outside of the tire. Sure enough, two shards of glass embedded in the rubber. Doh indeed.

Apparently there was about twenty minutes of snow overnight which caused absolute travel carnage on North London's public transport. Not so for the bike! Quite satisfying flying past the queues of extra cars.

The day after the ridiculous BBC "War On Our Roads" documentary. Got called a tw*t, got spat at (they missed) and a pedestrian intentionally stepped in front of me. I wondered if it had anything to do with the show, as up until now, I'd had no problems like that.

Again, wished I had a head cam. On the way in I witnessed a very gentle shunt between two cars, they pulled into a side road, both drivers got out and started arguing. One pushed the other, the other pushed back. This is what happened:

"Don't be silly mate"
"I'm not being silly mate, you're being silly"
"I'm not being silly, you started being silly when you pushed me"
"You were being aggressive so I had to push you. I'm not silly"
"You are silly, you drove into the back of me"
"You slammed your brakes on you silly tw*t"
(Both check for damage)
"There’s no need for us to be silly about this, there's no damage"
"Well, I'm not being silly."
"I'm not being silly either"
"Oh for f**ks sake, we're both being silly. Let's just forget it."
(They shake hands and off they go.)

Lessons Learned:
Check the outside of tires for debris after a puncture.
Expect the unexpected.
Drivers in queues are "silly".
The stress level of cycling into work is nothing compared to that of the motorists I've seen this week!

Previous articles in this series can be found here.


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Thursday, 6 December 2012

WAR! Cyclists v Motorists! Well done BBC...

I assume most of us watched the BBC1 show "War on Britain's Roads" last night?
The show opens with the thought that, if Bradley Wiggins, best cyclist in the world can get hit, then what hope is there for the rest of us?! Putting people off cycling done, the rest of it was antagonistic from start to finish.

The first of the talking heads is the harshly edited cyclegaz. He "likes to go fast because he can". Sigh. Clearly put there to grab non cyclists' attention, the very fact that the show opens with such an arrogant line just showed the tone it was going to take for the next hour.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Diary of A New Cycle Commuter - Week 1

Last month I wrote about how I had ordered myself a bike on the Evans Cycles Bike2Work scheme with the intention of commuting to work. Well, it finally arrived and after a wobbly refresher round the park last Sunday, cycle commuting began on the Monday. I got a Specialized Sirrus hybrid, which after adjusting one of the brake pads that was rubbing on the wheel, I am loving.

More articles in this series can be found here.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

"Dogging" in Ludlow - Part 2

Part 1 here.

Our ride had become seriously disrupted by the acquisition of the stray dog. We turned back towards the village, me pushing the bikes, my wife cradling Fido like a baby. We poked around the village. It was as deserted as a zombie movie set at high noon. Fortuitously, my wife found a bit of rope draped over a fence and we now at least had a lead. First step on the slippery slope towards dog proprietorship.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

"Dogging" in Ludlow - Part 1

Taking a break for a few days in Ludlow, Shropshire, my wife and I decided to pull in a cycle ride in what is known as good cycling country. A quick scan of the internet revealed that bikes could be had at Pearce Cycles and so at the appointed hour we appeared, lycra clad, for fitting up.

Pearce Cycles is slightly outside Ludlow on the east (probably the “wrong”) side of the town. I am not sure if it is a cycle shop, cycle factory or simply an arsenal of bikes being stockpiled for the day the inevitable petrol wars break out, but anyway they did a good job of finding something suitable from the hundreds on site.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Road to Falling in Love with Cycling Again

River Lea (Image - Christine Matthews
I used to cycle a lot when I was younger. Mostly family bike rides along the tow paths and nature reserves of the river Lea and the dirt tracks of Epping forest. Getting a bit older, I used to cycle to friends’ houses all across London and when I got my first proper job, I became a cycle commuter. Well.. For one day... It was hilly, cold, wet, windy, and I fell off and smashed my shoulder up on the way home (my fault). I hated it, never wanted to do it again and learnt to drive instead.

For six years I never looked back. I was dry, warm and relatively safe(r). I moved further away and the 30 minute cycle commute became an impractical to cycle 35 mile drive. Plus, I lasted five years before my first accident. (wasn't my fault)

Friday, 12 October 2012

Getting Back in the Saddle & My Battle with Clips

Failure to Unclip + Unsympathetic Friend = This Photo
We've all come off our bikes at one time or another. They say that when you fall off, you should get straight back on. That’s good advice because the longer you go before you get back on a bike after having come off, the harder it is likely to be.

I carry the burden of not being very good at unclipping. Evidence of this can be found on Facebook thanks to a “friend” who was quicker at whipping his camera out than I was getting up again. I dusted myself down, accepted the ribbing, got back on and begun to plan my revenge. The fact that I wasn't very good at unclipping was down to me.  It was a funny moment but it did dent my confidence just a little bit as I was just getting used to SPDs. I'm still using clips though and getting better at it with each ride.

Sometimes however, it’s not as simple as that. We all react differently to the shock that comes from falling off and you cannot always laugh things off so easily. And just telling somebody to get back on might be as insensitive as telling somebody to “pull themselves together”.

Where you come off your bike because another road user has negligently knocked you off, there is another problem you might have to contend with – your fear that it might happen again irrespective of your own skill and care. It’s an understandable fear. You relive the incident in your mind and if you come to the conclusion that there was nothing you could have done to prevent the collision; it’s only natural to think that it is going to happen again. There are some bad drivers out there.

Any anxieties can be magnified by unsympathetic attitudes. We all know somebody who thinks we’re mad to be cycling in the first place. When you've had an accident, they think you’re certifiable if you even hint that you want to get back out there.

It need not be all doom and gloom because there is help out there. If you’re in an accident caused by a motorist, you can claim reasonable medical costs including the cost of therapy. In some cases, psychological help might be beneficial but it could just as easily not be medical therapy as such. You might just need some cycle training sessions to get your confidence back. That’s not to say that there was anything wrong with your riding before the accident, but going out on the road again with a confident rider will help restore your own confidence.

I've had clients who have benefited from some confidence building lessons and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. For example, one of my clients couldn't unclip fast enough (those damn clips again!) as a car emerged from a side road without stopping and drove into him. His confidence was knocked considerably and he was having a problem riding in clips. The accident wasn't his fault and it is doubtful that if he had got out of his clips he could have done anything to avoid being hit. But the mind can play tricks and after the accident, unclipping was becoming an issue that made the difference between a pleasurable ride and an anxious one.

There’s a stigma about mental health in the UK and it often prevents people from seeking help, but if the accident wasn't your fault, you can make the responsible party pay for the treatment you need.

Meanwhile, I'm still riding in my clips and it’s been 200 km since my last clip related incident!

written by Levenes Cycling Solicitor, Tim Beasley

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