Author Archive (Alan)

Fast food but no parking

It's Wednesday so I'm at home. I'm not usually here on Wednesdays, but I have a mission. My poor Ruby Bike is hemmed in by cardboard boxes full of papers and stuff I have retrieved from my late brother's house. The weather looks dodgy, and his car is on my drive. Or I could take […]

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We didn't mean to go to Stevenage

An unexpected family issue needed my urgent attention in Stevenage. I could have gone by taxi, train, car or any number of modes. As Brown Bike had never been to my home town, but had heard about the marvellous cycle tracks, he was eager to go. So off we went.

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An ordinary day on the bike

This is not a story about bike-eating triffids.

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Surgery stand shock

Brown Bike nearly fell over in excitement on today's drug run. Such outward displays of emotion can be risky in traffic or even without traffic so I discourage them. As I was wheeling BB at the time, negotiating a flower bed and narrow gateway, we were reasonably safe but I had to sharply remind him […]

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Winter Wobblies

I'd forgotten how hard it is to ride on snow. While it is still loose, it's like pedalling through sand but it rolls into snowballs under the mudguards and around the brakes. Compacted snow is worse, nearly as slippery as ice but twice as bumpy so Brown Bike and I do our famous imitation of […]

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The World Comes to Papworth

I've only been a patient at Papworth Hospital once, a couple of decades ago. In those days it was known as the best heart hospital in the known universe. My GP, also located in Papworth, sent me for an x-ray. (My left hip, if I recall correctly.) After I got lost in a maze of […]

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Small Ring

Local bikes mock Brown Bike's smallest chainring. "What use is that?" they say. "We live in SW Cambs, not Switzerland." BB politely replies to these local bikes, which are mostly MTBs (and BB is a tremendous snob), that he does sometimes venture to the badlands of the north. Besides, teeny-tiny bottom gears are sometimes handy, […]

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Ruby's drug run

Ruby Bike was feeling somewhat neglected. Possibly because I had been neglecting her. Autumn weather, and I really needed to kit her out properly, all the usual excuses. She overheard today's weather forecast: a bit of sun might break through the thick blanket of cloud. That's me, she said, I'm the summer bike, right? But […]

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Musings on a day of a few overlapping halves

The cupboards are becoming bare so I'm off to Morrisons. It's daylight but the sky is murky enough for a hi-viz jacket. I wait until the day has warmed up somewhat, but I want to be home in time for Radio 4's Sunday afternoon drama, and some of the household clocks have gone back so […]

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Balmy in Biggleswade

The sun fought to burn through the pinky-purple haze when Brown Bike and I set off at 7am this morning. We avoid travelling before 9am because we are not keen on commuters. They know these country lanes forwards and backwards (but mostly not sideways). They know the exact speed they can take each corner, and […]

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Cameras and Cambridge

Brown Bike has returned from holiday and is back at work running errands. We had planned on a trip to Cambridge for yesterday, but the forcast was for rain, rain, possibly thunderstorms and more rain. We had enough of that on holiday, so we put it off for a day. (As it turned out, we […]

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Tour to Skipton and Back

A year ago I got on Brown Bike, fell off the other side, and broke my hip. Since then BB has been doing sterling service ferrying me to the hospital, doctors, shopping, meetings and the usual mundane activities, plus a few fun rides. But he's a tourer at heart and we both needed a holiday […]

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"History is now and England"

I've been fooled before by aerial photographs, so I pedalled off to check that the A1(M) north of Huntingdon really does still have the adjacent old road, and that it is usable as far as Sawtry. It's an important part of my trip north and I wouldn't want to backtrack so early. I also wanted […]

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Magic Liquids

For a while now, I've wanted to raise Brown Bike's handlebars. I bought him brand-new in (I think) 1992, but the frame is dated 1987. He isn't a standard Raleigh model, but has a "Special Products" transfer. I don't know when he was built up, or by whom. When I bought him, I couldn't shift […]

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A Late Longest-Day Ride

It rained a little yesterday morning but the forecast was dodgy, so I waited until today which was sunny and warm when we set off at 10am. I decided to get to the supermarket the long way round, along country lanes. Then I decided it was so nice I would go a very long way […]

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First Year Free

Gosh, doesn't a year go by quickly? Katie's gearbox broke a year ago and I haven't driven a car since then. I've pushed through the problems of a broken hip. Even with the time off, I've cycled more miles in the last year then I used to drive. I've tried not to become a fanatical […]

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A Noisy Ride to Reach

Brown Bike disapproved of my brilliant idea of strapping bananas to his rack. As we whizzed down Madingley Hill into Cambridge, he dropped them into his rear wheel, chewed them up and spat them out. We were joining the Cambridge Cycling Campaign and Cycle Cambridge ride to Reach Fair. It was a decent turnout, perhaps […]

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The Joy of Slow

I have no experience of group riding and how this works alongside motorists. I work out theories of how to do this but wanted to see how it actually works. So I went out with a CTC Senior Cyclists' Group. At 53 I may not be particularly "senior" but nor am I massively fit. Starting […]

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Personal Best

I don't really do numbers. I'm not competitive even against myself, preferring to enjoy the scenery and weather. I even enjoy cold windy rain, so long as I'm in suitable clothes. The numbers are less important than the ride. Perhaps this is an excuse as my numbers are pretty horrendous. But I usually zero the […]

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A tale of two tyres (or four or six)

Ignorance was bliss: I thought I was happy with Brown Bike's Schwalbe Marathon 28mm tyres.

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An Equinox Ride

I'm a day late celebrating the equinox but I've had toothache. It started when the dentist fixed a problem I didn't know I had, and this became infected. Up, down, left, right, you name it. Sorry, too much detail. Instead of an antibiotic, I'm on an antimicrobial. Is that a different name for the same […]

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Exercising

The left leg is good. It works well, takes my weight, bends properly, walks and pedals, and generally gives me no grief. Fit and forget, you might say. I've nothing against my left leg. Remember classic Pete and Dud? "The problem is, neither have you."

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Of Kissing, Car Traps and Hoggin

Inspired by Mick's semi-century, I tried to have a go. However, I didn't get out of the house until 11 am and wanted to be back in daylight, so I didn't have the time. That's my excuse. Besides, I spent a while exploring the delights of Cambridgeshire's Guided Busway. And my odometer has a manual […]

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Minor maintenance

Brown Bike's odometer and speedometer have stopped working, although the cadence function is fine. I suspect a busted wire, but when I compare the two sensors and spot a tide-mark on the chain stay, I realise the wheel sensor has slipped backwards. Easily fixed.

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Two Bushes and a Bogey

Fenstanton is the birthplace of John Howland (c1591). He may have worked in Leiden, Netherlands, before at the age of 29 sailing with his boss on the Mayflower to the New World. On the voyage, Howland fell overboard but was rescued. If he had drowned, the world would now be very different. He married a […]

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Cantabrian Footsteps

I want to live in a huge but single-storey house that I can cycle round. Forget this walking lark. Walking is difficult and "uncomfortable", as the medics call it. It's been this way since before Christmas. The problems are either soft tissue (in which case I should exercise more) or dying bone (in which case […]

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A quick spin

On New Year's Eve I hurtled around the village preceding a local loop. This was about 12 km (7.5 miles) which I did in 3 min 22 sec. That's 214 kph (134 mph). A personal best. And, if I'm not mistaken, a world record for human powered vehicles. Click on the piccy for the viddy.

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Après snow

It is two degrees Centigrade, there was rain overnight and now it is foggy. The roads have salt, slush and that slippery black stuff I dare not name. My larder is still well-stocked, and my hip has been in "discomfort" (as the medics euphemistically call it) since I went by bus to the supermarket before […]

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Dem Bones Dem Bones

My recent cycling ambition was to travel to my eighteen-week fracture clinic on my bike. Not, you understand, to actually cycle around the clinic and X-ray department on the bike, though it is tempting: Addenbrooke's is a big place. Recent icy weather put the kibosh on any cycling, so I couldn't build up to the […]

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Being car free

I've been car-free for six months now, counting from when Katie's gearbox failed. Things I miss: Comfort, especially being sheltered from the weather. Fast startup and shutdown time. The car took about 15 seconds. A bike takes a few minutes, including heaping on clothing, checking lights and tyres, strapping the crutch on and wheeling the […]

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Papworth Everard

Papworth Everard is a large village in South Cambridgeshire containing a hospital renowned for heart transplants.

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Top Gear

Hospitals are like garages. I would take in my treasured old heap with a minor problem and they'd say, sure we can fix that, but the hoodgiewotsit is knackered and that's a teeth-sucking job.

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Let me eat cake

I'm running out of fruitcake. True, I should cook it myself. Or I could wait until Monday and take the bus to the supermarket. But it is a sunny and reasonably warm Sunday, and I did eight miles yesterday, so I reckon I can cycle it.

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Brown Bike comes home

My friend Fran drives me home from the committee meeting. Brown Bike has been in Fran's garage since 3rd August, and now he is in the back of Fran's car. He is returning home at last. Fran parks Brown Bike near my back door, assures me he has behaved himself in the garage, and drives […]

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A big little ride

At the bottom of my driveway I sit on Ruby Bike's saddle, which is lowered so my left foot comfortably reaches the ground. That foot has pushed me here. That leg has become agile from doing the work of two.

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Ode to a bicycle

First draft (and probably the last). With grovelling apologies to John Keats.

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A change of plan

A Lycra-lout on a fancy Dawes encountered a beast with vicious jaws.     He gave it a thump     with his Blackburn pump, and now the beast gently snores.

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Chopping and Folding

The CTC has a handy guide to help me distinguish between trekkers, tourers, audaxes and other marketing terms. Roadsters are now called "city bikes" and racers are now called "road bikes", in much the same confusing way that crossbars are now called "top tubes". I need to learn this new language so my LBS can […]

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What do you do with a jealous bicycle?

I once had a girlfriend who referred to her moped as "Horse". Strangely, I never met Horse, but I imagined something old and large, with plenty of character. Bicycles are the same. Perhaps more so, because a bike is an extension of a person, a remarkably simple machine that converts leg movement into speed and […]

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