This is not a post about the Tweed Run

Anyone for tea?

Anyone for tea?

About two and a half weeks ago I took part in the Tweed Run. I was going to write about it on this blog.

I started a post. It’s still sitting there in my drafts – a bare skeleton of a post with a few complete paragraphs to flesh it out. I’d like to finish it. I may still finish it (hopefully before next year’s Tweed Run).

But in the meantime I’ve been so extraordinarily busy with my course I just haven’t had time. It’s there on my To Do list popping up every day – ‘Finish Tweed Run post’ – and then every day I guiltily push it over into tomorrow’s tasks.

When I have 10 articles to research and write for my portfolio before the end of May, two exams to study for in the next two weeks and two hours of practice for shorthand every day, not to mention all the reading for my other classes – and that’s before I even think about getting some work experience – then anything not strictly related to my course gets pushed further and further down the list.

So I write this as a form of a apology, in the hope that at some point in the future I’ll be back to writing more often – though I have no idea when that will be, nor what format any future writing will be in.

In the meantime, I’m going cheat a little by posting up an article I wrote for London Cyclist a couple of weeks back. Hope you enjoy it.

The end of the affair?

Will my love of cycling return with the spring?

Will my love of cycling return with the spring?

The insistent buzz of my alarm woke me with a start. I reached out into the pre-dawn darkness to switch it off, then snuggled back down under my duvet. Getting out from the cosy warmth of bed has been proving a challenge of late, and on that particular morning my legs were having none of it. ‘C’mon guys,’ I urged them after five minutes had gone by. ‘You can do it.’ Nothing. Another few minutes went by with no sign of movement, so I made them an offer: ‘If you get me out of bed I won’t make you cycle into college today.’ That got their attention. Continue reading

Have puncture, will fix it

Puncture - just what you need on a Friday evening

Every cyclist’s worst nightmare – particularly on a Friday evening

5pm, Friday 31 October: the end of another week. The only thing between me, my sofa, a glass of wine and an evening spent ignoring the local trick or treaters was my ride home.

But, as pushed down on Eva’s pedals and set off across the work car park, I quickly realised something wasn’t quite right. Her back wheel felt alarmingly bouncy: what should have been firm and supportive was instead distinctly wobbly.

With a sinking heart, I got off to inspect the wheel. Though I was pretty certain what had happened, I still gave the flaccid tyre a quick squeeze just to confirm it.

Yep. A puncture. Continue reading

Cycling, driving and convenience

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The Peak District – where I saw more people out on their bikes than I did in the centre of Sheffield

Given how long I’ve been living and cycling here, you’d think I’d be used to how many cyclists there are in London. Maybe it’s because I don’t get into central London very often – especially not during rush hour – that, whenever I do, the sheer mass of bikes flooding through the traffic always takes me by surprise.

I had the day off work recently. After visiting the Imperial War Museum for the afternoon, rush hour found me at the intersection of Waterloo Bridge and Aldwych. As I waited to cross the road, I watched in amazement at the phalanx of cyclists whizzing past. At every red light around me there were even more – at least twenty or thirty, maybe more, at each junction – bursting out of meagre advance stop boxes and snaking back through the traffic.

Compare that to my experience when I went up to Sheffield to deliver the trusty steed to his new retirement home. Continue reading

Bike dreams (part two)

Cityglide or Specialized - which is it to be?

Cityglide or Specialized – which is it to be?

In last week’s installment, the prospect of yet another expensive repair to the Trusty Steed led me to think about retiring him – and my idle daydreams of a beautiful new bike took a step closer to becoming reality

Ah, the beautiful Norco Cityglide 8…so pretty and yet so practical. Could this be my bike of dreams?

There was only one thing for it. I had to take it for a test ride.

In my experience, there are two possible outcomes to a test ride. One is that I fall hopelessly in love, and can think of nothing else but how wonderful the bike is and what a difference it will make to my life – with the inevitable consequence that I cannot rest until I’ve bought it. The other is that a bike I’ve spent days drooling over turns out to be rather more prosaic than I’d been imagining, and my dreams are left in tatters. Continue reading

Bike dreams

The ever faithful Trusty Steed - but is it time to retire him?

The ever faithful Trusty Steed – but is it time to retire him?

Dear readers, I have a confession to make. I have cheated on the Trusty Steed.

It started, as these things usually do, innocently enough. One quiet afternoon at work an email advertising Evans Cycles’ end of summer sale landed in my inbox. I had nothing pressing on my to do list at the time, so I clicked through.

As I glanced through the array of slightly-cheaper-than-usual bikes, one of them caught my eye. The Norco Cityglide 3 – a beautiful powder blue, three-speed town bike. Not a brand I’d ever heard of before, but never mind that. My head had been turned. Continue reading

On drinking and cycling

Drinking and cycling - how much is too much?

Drinking and cycling – how much is too much?

It’s 5pm on a Friday afternoon. I’m just shutting down my computer and washing up my mug when a colleague wanders through.

“A few of us are going for a quick drink. D’you fancy coming with us?” she asks.

I pause for…oh, about a nanosecond to consider my response before accepting the invitation.

I grab my helmet and keys, then hoist my Ortlieb bag on my shoulder. “You’re going to take your bike to the pub? Will you be alright cycling home?” my colleague asks, concern in her voice. Continue reading

I am woman, watch me charge

Tavistock Place cycle path - does it need a fast lane a pootle lane?

Tavistock Place cycle path – does it need a fast lane and a pootle lane?

It was early Saturday night, and I was heading out for the evening with a friend. He was over visiting from Mississippi, a hot and humid state where the pace of life is considerably more laidback than here in London. Heading up the High Street to catch the bus, I became aware that he was no longer by my side. He was, as I saw when I turned to look back, a good few paces behind me.

“C’mon!” I urged. “Can’t you walk a bit faster? We’re going to be late!”

“Can’t you walk a bit slower?” he replied as he finally caught up with me. “Why d’ya need to rush everywhere?”

I don’t rush, no matter what my friend might think. Continue reading

This, above all, is why I cycle

The ladies' pond on Hampstead Heath

The ladies’ pond on Hampstead Heath

Ripples on the surface of the murky brown water reflect a kaleidoscope of colours – blue, from the almost cloudless sky above; green, from the leafy trees, bushes and rushes enveloping the pond; brilliant white where the sunlight catches on the water’s surface, and the occasional flash of red from the lifeguards’ bright shorts and shirts.

A gaggle of geese glide gently by, seemingly oblivious to the swimmers bobbing and splashing around them.

From the platform at the water’s edge I take a tentative step down the ladder, then two. As my toes touch the water, I let out an involuntary yelp. It’s cold. I pause for barely a second, gathering up my resolve, then launch myself in. Cold is, after all, why I’m here. Continue reading

Of bike storage and gyratories

No room at the inn?

No room at the inn?

I moved house last month.

I mention this not merely to explain why things have been quite quiet on this blog lately; what with packing, organising the logistics of the actual move, unpacking, sleepless nights worrying about the move and then, in the new place, getting used to sleeping in a strange room, the subsequent headaches from the stress of it all, and then – once I’d finally settled in – the horrible summer cold that sneaked up on me when I wasn’t looking, I didn’t have the time nor the head space to write anything.

No, I mention this because the move has had two wholly unexpected bike-related consequences. Continue reading