It’s been a while since I last posted something original on my blog and it’s been a while since I’ve been cycling around Winchester on Ernie. The riding hasn’t stopped however and I continue to cycle on Ernie all over the place. This post is about the adventure’s we’ve had thus far.
The first few weeks I rode Ernie from Chippenham to Calne to try and maintain my fitness levels and I even commuted with him to Swindon. However, I somehow injured my knee and this stopped me from riding for at least a week- from that point onwards I had to take it easy. Once my knee got better I began riding again from Chippenham to Calne on my last few days of placement. On the last day I raced a couple of students on mountain bikes and was winning until I reached a cattle grid… Ernie doesn’t cope well on such big ruts. I also did some tune-ups (well my dad did most of the crucial stuff); Ernie’s chain was cleaned thoroughly and re-oiled, the gearing mechanism was tweaked as it had been playing up, the brakes were made to be more responsive and the handlebar/fork stem was tightened. Since these tweaks the performance of Ernie has greatly improved.
Riding around Calne has been pretty easy as it’s completely flat… compared to Winchester. I feel a bit more noticed with such a bike especially when folding it up outside of shops. In Winchester people were getting pretty used to seeing folding bikes but the locals around here find it bewildering. Taking Ernie to work at a holiday club has been funny as the staff have all been having rides. The cover has been necessary when Ernie has been stored because of the dangers of paint and glue being dripped on him.
I do need to do more riding as my fitness and my weightloss may be coming to an end at the rate I’m going. There are three routes I can cycle that I like. One is to go to Chippenham and back, another is to go around the Calne bypass and the third takes me around country lanes to Quemerford end. Here’s a map of Calne to demonstrate:
While I prepare myself for my next main blog post (and it won’t be a declaration of love to someone just to win a game) I thought I’d post a video of my antics in a skatepark which I’ve been meaning to do this for quite a while. In the terms of computer experts I am a complete n00b at this style of riding. Anyway enjoy!
So here we have it- government official folding bikes! It kinda makes up for the cuts in Public Transport, although maybe not, because I still lose out and they have equal the amount of fun that I do. Thanks goes to @nellyagain on twitter for highlighting this in the first place.
Do you think they’ll adapt that red treasury briefcase to fit on the front Luggage clip. There is definitely a benefit to having a Brompton in government if you get too tired you can fold the Brompton up and place it in the back of the Jaguar.
I can now safely say that I am an all-weather-cycle-commuter- be it sunshine, rain, hail, heavy winds, snow and ice, I have ridden through it (until it got too severe). But over the past couple of weeks in this lovely hot weather I’ve really been getting my sweat on. It’s not too much of a problem because most students smell and in the shop I work at you can only smell the pasties.
However what about those inner city people whose body odour must be none existant in their numerous board meetings?
Would such a thing be obscene in a place of work?
How about showers?
I think, and I could be wrong in which case I could be soon corrected, Wiltshire County Council has showers at their offices. Wouldn’t it be great if cycle-commuters could have a quick shower before they began working their shift at any office? Of course, my ideas are highly unlikely to heard (although Coca Cola mixed with Cherry Sourz was unavailable and untasted anywhere until I once ordered it in Jax in Chippenham and now I can order it everywhere… I never get credit for that) and this is only in the early stages but I think the idea, although distant and weird, could one day be feasible. There are three reasons for my logic:
The Equivalent of a Multi-story Car Park
1. The car park. Was there such a thing as a building several stories high for the simple utility of storing a car before the car was invented? No. Such buildings came about because there was an increasing demand for a place where the future of transport could be stored. So if cycling becomes really popular and becomes the new future of our transport will places be built for the housing and services of the people and their bikes. Already in some cities large parking areas for bikes are becoming available- could showers be viable too….
The Automated Toilet. At the moment I'm too scared to use one.
2. The Automated Toilet. Ah the humble toilet! But in automatic form- you mean no-one cleans it?– no sir, hence it’s automatic! Yes indeed. Such Post-Modern design gives me hope that a shower version could be made. Perhaps it could wash, soap and dry you at the press of a button and afterwards clean itself (don’t you hate it when you find a foreign hair lurking in the shower). My dream would be that on a hot and sunny day when you’re that little bit sweaty- well saturated and it’s evidently dripping off your face- you can park your bike up in the multi storey bike park and jump in and have a shower, get changed and carry on with your business filled day. Of course timing might be an issue- how long do be shower for on average- I’ve known people take over an hour and they shall remain nameless, or below 5 minutes. How long do you give people to get changed?
Please note the two Brompton riders
3. The apparent urge for people to use their cars less. If people were serious about ditching their cars they’d stop making so many excuses. Being sweaty is one of them. Unless you live in the town of Bedrock you’re unlikely to make so much effort and energy to make your car move. Steering can sometimes require energy and so can putting your foot down on a clutch and the brake but not enough to make yourself sweat; even then you may be able to put the air- con on. Going in a car is sweat free so why ditch the car and get all sweaty in that hot, hot sun? I believe incentives are needed to make people want to cycle instead, to try to persuade them to at least give it a try and in my deepest thoughts I came up with showers!
Or, alternatively, we could just live the fact that human beings smell and realise that all this nice smelly stuff (which I do love) is just a marketing ploy… but that’s another topic!
While sipping at my hot beverage; a large skinny hazelnut latte (haha I love writing blogs and trying to be cosmopolitan!) I was thinking of five improvements that could be made to Bromptons. Some serious, some not- but either way should be considered.
1. Respoking of the back wheel. The number one problem with Bromptons is that the spokes on the back wheel can break if the roads are bumpy or the rider hasn’t reached peak physical performance a.k.a is chubby. This is a nightmare- when one one spoke goes- they all go! So to combat this I had the spokes crossed. This is the old fashioned way of doing it and spoking machines (according to the man who respoked it) cannot do this. However since I have had the spokes crossed I have not had any spokes broken- so far!
2. Sound system. I could put a battery powered cd player on the rack but it wouldn’t annoy people enough. I need a sub-woofer and proper speakers.
3. Flames- flame decals? I think many urban businessmen want to get pimp out their rides and a good way to start is an awesome colour scheme. Brompton already do a lot of colours but nothing that gives out the impression that one likes to ride with gangstas. Think Fast and the Furious meets Urban Commuting. That ride is so low and dirty!
4. A bike lock contraption. Have a really strong lock that will allow the bike to be attached to something when it’s folded up.
5. Built in straps. As soon as the bike is folded up just carry it on your back. It’s really tiring sometimes carrying it by hand up several flights of stairs.
6. Hands-free mobile kit with bluetooth voice command. Gone are the days where you could gaffa tape your phone to the helmet- now you can manoeuvre your schedule around in the same way you manoeuvre around the traffic in the busy cities with both hands on the handlebar- and whilst looking stylish!
7. Cup-holder. Nothing says “I’ll grab a grande extra-hot skinny sugar-free caramel extra-strong de-decaffeinated machiato to go” more than a cup-holder! Have one on the handlebar stem next to the Hands-free kit with Bluetooth voice command and you’ll be zipping and sipping along the bus lane on your busy Monday morning commute.
So Brompton check these ideas out and your production demand will drastically improve. Congratulations so far on an excellent sales performance so far!
The humble cup-holder. Making early morning commutes bearable
I’m sat at the learning cafe with the urge to write my thoughts on our future. For those Ernie fans out there he’s not with me like he usually would be and I am starting to feel withdrawal symptoms (I’m sure he’s feeling the same), however my housemate has very kindly lent me his bike and that’s chained up outside. The problem is that I’ve got so used to cycling everywhere that I’ve forgotten how to walk (just kidding but it takes so much longer and there’s no adrenaline buzz) and I just don’t have the money to catch the bus at the moment.
After reading David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries I gained a real idea of how extensive cycling can be. This man rides around some of the most dangerous cities and gives some really interesting insights into the lives of cities that you wouldn’t gain if you were to drive around one. He almost treats them as if they were living organisms. I’ve also started to enjoy this treatment of cycling- I used to hate it; people would laugh at you for wearing a helmet, you’d get hot or soaking wet depending on the weather conditions and then there was always the worry that someone would steal your bike or steal parts from it. However since being in Winchester, being older and owning a folding bike I’m not really bothered about what people think about me- screw ’em- if they walk it takes them ages to reach their destination, if they catch a bus then they’re limited to waiting for their alloted time to travel and if they drive then they have to endlessly fork out money to maintain and keep their cars running on the road. I’m not against other forms of transport but it is a pet peeve when people start degrading my form of transport. When I first started riding Ernie I gained a lot of funny looks- ‘why is your bike shaped like that?’, ‘why do have such a silly looking bike?’, ‘aren’t those wheels a bit too small?’, ‘where’s the real bike?’. I’m sure I’ll get all those comments when I return back home. Those kind of comments soon disappear whether people get tired of asking me, or they see I don’t actually care what they think, or that they see the usefulness of my bike- I don’t know. However since cycling I disregard the bad comments, accept that the rain may fall on me, accept I might get cold (in the winter time- freezing), accept that there are big hills and accept that roads aren’t as safe as they should be. Even better I enjoy it! I feel amazing when I get off that bike and- ladies- I’ve lost 2 stone in half a year and am starting to get toned legs; which just makes me feel great. I also love the views- you’re that little bit higher than a car and you can see so much more. Cycling also allows you to contemplate, to clear your head and that has been so helpful at times.
So where are we going with transport? I’d like to start off by saying that I don’t hate cars. Actually they’re great and I do love them. So when I write this I’m not putting in a bias because I don’t happen to own one. However the problem is that I think we’re becoming over dependant on them, everyone wants one and cannot seem to live their adult lives without the need for one. We’re marketed at by car manufacturers because we’re quite frankly besotted by them and the government joins in with their car scrappage scheme because they see that they’d make huge losses without them. They all scream out- if you don’t have one you’re screwed- you can’t do anything! I think to myself how can I possible get to somewhere far away that I usually go to by car? I joined my parents on holiday in Wales by going on the train and overall I found it very enjoyable on the way up (apart from waiting 2 hours on a railway station that was -7 degrees celsius not their fault but weather conditions) but on the way back home I found it deeply frustrating to get on an overcrowded train. I think since the 1950’s, and (would you look at that) the invention of the car, our transport system has gone to pot. To go buy trains means four words; expensive, infrequent, unreliable and overcrowded- it’s a shame. I do see people try to sort it out now but I feel it’s a little too late to do something amazing. Of course this varies from the area you live in. To travel tomorrow (8th April 2010, 0955) from Chippenham to London would cost, with a 16-25 railcard, £36.65 for an open return. From Winchester- £19.20. With the former price do you still wonder why people buy cars? It’s a shame.
I’m not sure about global warming but I do wonder what on earth we’re doing with all those exhaust fumes and where and how we’re still managing to get copious amounts of oil. I wonder how how much we will have to pay to use cars and I wonder how much longer this can continue. Does the future of transport rely on us to ditch the car? My answer is that I hope not but I don’t know whether that’s down to the marketing of cars or whether it’s because I can only see the current state of our transport system. My little utopia vision is that a lot more people dig out their bikes from their sheds and see the benefits of riding a bike around their cities and towns instead of cars. How fun it can be to work out how to take your shopping home on a bike. I’d also like to see a better railway system- you can’t realistically demand people to ditch their cars when they go on holiday or visit relatives but you can entice them. I’d like to see these alternative (actually alternative spells out not as good) transports combined- buses with bike racks (there used to be, in my hometown, a bus that had a magnetic bike rack on the back which was really clever but they got rid of them as they weren’t used) , cheaper folding bikes, even more cycle lanes, more incentives (not just that but better advertising- ‘it’s as good as a car’ would be a start), better instructing on how to ride a bike and how to maintain one.
Oh and whole areas to park your bike! Like here at Oxford station:
This view always gets me slightly excited.
Most of all I’d like to see the car as an ‘alternative’ transport instead of it’s current status as superior transport.
There’s nothing much more I can say on the matter, I can’t convince someone outright that using a bicycle is fun- it’s hard work to begin with, I realised how out of shape I was, how much I hated the rain and the cold but in the end you get over it. Maybe by viewing these posts on my blog you might gain some incentive to get your bike out and give it a try for short distances.