The Magpie and Sputnik

Another helmet theme …


The magpie is a most illustrious bird
Dwells in the diamond tree
One brought sorrow, one brought joy,
Sorrow and joy for me
Sorrow and joy for me ...(Donovan)

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The Helmet Debate. Again

On the last day of August I fell off my bike. Again.

Parental Advisory - No Helmet, No Problem

A graphic I never ended up using in the promotional material for an event I organised. (It was designed by a former colleague of mine)

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50 Classic Cycle Climbs: Yorkshire & Peak District (review)

I bought 50 Classic Cycle Climbs: Yorkshire & Peak District from a bike shop in Pickering on a holiday last year during which I rode five climbs that had featured in one or other of Simon Warren's 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs. Perhaps for that reason I find it difficult to review this book without comparing it to Simon Warren's work.

50 Classic Cycle Climbs: Yorkshire & Peak District - James Allen

Simon Warren's follow up to 100 Greatest Climbs includes four North York Moors ascents detailed in 50 Classic Cycling Climbs. Only Rosedale Chimney was in the original

The attraction of this particular paperback for the Yorkshire (& Peak District) cyclist is the sheer number of climbs grouped closely together. Simon Warren seemed to ration out the climbs in his first book to offer something to all of the regions. In 50 Classic Climbs there isn't that limitation. (However, in the last month Warren has released the first of what I understand to be eight regional guides: Cycling Climbs of South-East England.)

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New Zealand 2014/15


Tickets were booked in January and dates were fixed. Mary steadily lost ounces all summer in preparation for the trip; I gallantly made up for her losses.

New tires installed in October scraped against one side of the rear mud guard. A rotary tool was used to trim back the edge.

The route was undecided. A map in the living room was covered with sticky notes of possible alternatives. I contacted and asked about routes. Their advice (very friendly): we should be on the South Island. Our plan is to ride the North Island. Indecision, self-doubt, panic. North Island or South? We flip the map from North Island to South Island. Two days later, we flip it back. Their other advice: "Beware of maniacal drivers – not me, everyone else."

Two weekends are spent packing up Lady CoMo. She is padded, wrapped, fitted, cushioned and cradled in her suitcases. Assembly and disassembly steps are listed in detail.

New Zealand 070

Cushioned, cradled and coddled

We do a practice packup of clothes and camping gear. To camp or not to camp? That is the big and weighty question.

One week before departure we check our will and draft a new one. Just in case. I shovel eight inches of snow the day we leave.

The two week NZ weather forecast can be summarized in one word: rain.

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Cycling and (my) pes cavus 'type of feet'

A chiropodist (or podiatrist as they are now known) told me recently I have pes cavus 'type' feet. She said it as soon as I took my shoes off (my feet look normal to me although perhaps my toes do look a bit curled). I went to see the chiropodist because three doctors (general practitioners, or GPs) had told me the foot pain I've had since the start of December is a bit of a mystery even after several blood tests and x-rays. I am not diabetic or overweight, my blood count is normal, my circulation is okay, no arthritis, no gout, etc. I haven't just not cycled for two months but hardly walked except shuffling around the house with bandaged feet. At last this week things seem to be improving a bit; I have got some shoes on.

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Steve Abraham attempts to break the cycling year record…

... or the Highest Annual Mileage Record, if you prefer.

Steve Abraham set off just after midnight this morning in an attempt to beat the record – established by Tommy Godwin in 1939 – of 75,065 miles ridden in a single year.

At the time of writing there are a few links scattered about in various places so this post is simply to draw some of them together. Here are a few:

One Year Time Trial (official web site)
Steve Abraham on Facebook (records the progress of those attempting the record in 2015)
Steve Abraham on Strava
Tommy Godwin Record sub forum on Yet Another Cycling Forum
Steve Abraham on Twitter
UltraMarathon Cycling Association – rules for HAMR

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Park Tool PRS-20 work stand review

Park Tool PRS-20 - T2 profile view

Park Tool PRS-20 Team Work Stand

After years of making do without the benefit of a cycle work stand I finally took the plunge and got one. And a pretty decent one it is too. The Park Tool PRS-20 Team Work Stand felt like a bit of an indulgence when I got it, but now I wish I'd bought one sooner.

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A Cyclist’s Paradise?

“Smooth, open roads. Stunning scenery. English road signs. An ingrained cycling culture. Stellar road safety.”

Do we have your attention yet?

I was lying in bed, flipping through a magazine when I paused over a two-page colour advertisement. Graphically, it was terrible – I had flipped past it at least three times previously. But once I stopped to read the copy I was dumbfounded. So much so that I had to read it out loud to Mary.

I have reproduced (without permission) selected sections below.

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Death Valley Challenge

Day 1: Beatty to Stovepipe Wells

I put as my Facebook status that I was in the VIP lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3 but despite explaining that my wife had been on Simon Mayo’s request show the previous evening and actually spoken on air to request ‘Viva Las Vegas’ for me, I was not afforded access to the said VIP lounge so I was in some mock English tavern staffed entirely by Spaniards. My drinking companions were Phil, whose idea it was to cycle Death Valley and Jim who was Global Adventures guide for the trip. As a nervous flyer I was keen to neck a couple of strong drinks before boarding but was disappointed there was no ice for my G&T(s). (I bet they had ice in VIP.)

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The Touchup

April may be the cruelest month, but November is surely the dullest. It is dark and getting darker, cool and getting colder, frosty and getting snowier. Its one public occasion is sombre. I would lay odds that Shakespeare wrote his “winter of discontent” phrase in November. Grumble.

However, that makes it a good time to tend to the abuse and neglect, a.k.a. stone chips, suffered by Lady CoMo.

Lady CoMo’s paint has suffered from the occasional stone, and (most aggravating) shoes that rub across the crossbar. One cannot dismount a tandem by swinging a leg over its hind quarters without kicking the stoker in the teeth. This is generally considered poor form. Rather, the foot must be lifted, retracted, and replanted, all the while balancing on the other leg and holding the beast steady. Inevitably an unintended brush of the rubber sole against her shiny paint leaves a small, dull abrasion – aye, there’s the rub!

So this November I settled down with instructions from the CoMotion web site to make right the wrongs of our dear Lady.

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