Tuesday 31 December 2013

The coolest dude

If you get a chance I urge you to go and see the Paul Smith show at the London Design Museum. The show runs until 9-March-2014.

Mr Bedscyclist likes product design, all things bicycles, quality and a bit of individuality so I admire Paul Smith's designs and products immensely.

The exhibition features several rooms recreating his design studio
and many of the collaborations including his Rapha jersey from the 2007 Tour de France grand depart

Of course, there is a striped mini on display and an entire room full of framed paintings, drawings and photographs...

And there is a very special Pinarello Dogma 2 customised with a few subtle stripes, an autograph and a little doodle.

I want one!


Friday 20 December 2013

Christmas greetings

My favourite cards and compilations for Christmas...

My Christmas e-card from Brompton
http://www.specialized.com/bc/microsite/holiday/ is an amazing compilation by Specialized using bicycle parts as instruments

Friday 13 December 2013

No longer as wet as an otter's pocket

For those with a dirty mac or waterproof jackets that are no longer...

I wear a waterproof, high-viz jacket on my Brompton commute all year round, so four days per week, 45 weeks per year. I'm on my second yellow Altura Night Vision Evo jacket in three years and it gets washed every week with the full waterproofing lasting for only about 6 months.

I started looking at alternative jackets, some considerably more expensive than the Altura and the waterproofing qualities explained for each are probably comparable to the Night Vision. However, one vendor recommended a regular treatment using their branded re-proofer followed by a tumble dry. I don't own a tumble dryer so I searched for an alternative water re-proofer and found...

You spray it on the jacket after washing and whilst the jacket is still damp, then just leave it to dry.

The weather today was slightly inclement and the rain was beading on my jacket. I am pleased with the result and plan to continue treating the jacket on a regular basis.

I wonder how many hits this blog post will get ;-)

Thursday 28 November 2013

Metric Century Challenge

A big pat on the back for me. I completed the metric century challenge this year!

You must ride one metric century (100 km, 62.18 miles) in every month to successfully complete the full challenge.  Only single continuous rides of at least 100km qualify, not a daily or weekly total of several shorter rides that exceed 100km. Tea stops are allowed, nay encouraged.

I rode over 20 metric centuries throughout this year, with the Prudential Ride 100 counting as two because I rode from my hotel in Gants Hill to the start, did the 102 miles to the finish and then cycled back to Gants Hill to collect my car.

Ride like you're wearing dirty underwear

The tragic deaths of cyclists in London is topical news and worrying since I'm also a London cycle commuter.  My journeys are now whilst it is dark or (worse?) with the sun low in the sky and quite blinding.  To mitigate the risks of becoming one of the statistics, I have re-considered my routes.

Whenever possible I used to cycle (considerately) along the Thames Path but signs have been erected to say that cycling is prohibited and the once bridle towpath has been renamed the Thames Walkway. The 'no cycling' signs do appear to be rather amateur, the sort you can buy from B&Q and I'm not aware of any local bylaws imposing the ban on cycling, however there is the possibility of a £50 on the spot fine if they are genuine.

My favourite route is to traverse the bridge at St Katherine's Dock and cycle over the cobbled roads through Wapping. It is not always easy to get into the right hand lane at the traffic lights on Tower Hill and the ASL is always full of mopeds and motorcycles.  Once across, the right hand filter lane for the Tower Bridge has traffic lights which don't work until there is at least a couple of taxis waiting in line to trigger the sensor.

Alternative routes?

I have tried The Highway route out to Canary Wharf and, in the morning with rush hour traffic, I have witnessed a few incidents. On one occasion a tipper truck swerved to overtake a cyclist ahead of me whilst another tipper truck was in the outside lane of the dual carriageway. The wing mirrors of the lorries collided clearly demonstrating that the carriageway is not wide enough for two lanes of traffic and cyclists.  The drain covers on the road are also treacherous as many of them have collapsed due to the weight of the trucks going over them. The authorities attempt to fix them overnight, sometimes temporarily by covering them roughly in tarmac but for cyclists it is an obstacle course. To cap it all, there is a cement works near the entrance to the Rotherhithe Tunnel and their trucks spill rocks and cement along the road, sometimes in mounds as big as mole hills.

The CS3 starts at the Tower Gateway, behind the Royal Mint, so approaching from Upper Thames Street a cyclist has to go around the Minories or dismount and take to the pavement to safely get to the start of the blue route.  Once on the CS3 it is superb; it is marked out well, has traffic lights across junctions and has white lines painted to indicate where to give way. The only issue is that it is narrow and cyclist coming from the opposite direction come quite close to you.

I have used the CS3 route twice this week and I think it is perfect for my tootle in to work. It is a different story for those in a hurry - cyclists overtaking others can be inconsiderate and the curses are frequently colourful and I witnessed an accident between a cyclist and a car on Wednesday morning. A mountain-biker overtook me safely but not paying sufficient attention to the road ahead given his speed. He collided with a car doing a strange manoeuvre, reversing out of one of the side roads. Thankfully no one was hurt but the incident was like watching a slow-motion train crash - predictable.

My wife asked me what advice I would offer to contribute to a radio phone in discussing cyclist's tips on travelling safely. I did the normal thing trying to think what aspects of experience, common sense and being well equipped I might offer to help reduce the risk of ending up in hospital with a nurse stripping you back to see the injuries, or, worse, the mortician.

I have given it further thought now. When I was a child my mum told me to always wear clean underwear in case I was involved in an accident and ended up in hospital as it would be a disgrace for a nurse or doctor to see you wearing anything but spotless Y-fronts. So, my tip to cycle commuters - ride assuming your pants are going to be an embarrassment.

Monday 11 November 2013

Lights fantastic

When you receive compliments from pedestrians and motorcyclists you know you've chosen wisely.

I returned to work after a half term holiday and the return to GMT which now requires the use of lights on my commute.

My front lights...Hope Vision 1 and a Blackburn Voyager
The Hope light takes four AA batteries and the Blackburn takes two CR2032 batteries

My rear lights...Lezyne's Femto and Micro Drive.

The Micro Drive is charged from a USB connector and the Femto takes two CR2032 batteries.
I carry spare AA and CR2032 batteries to keep my lights fantastic on trips.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

The passing of the Posties' Pashley

My Post-person no longer delivers my post by bicycle in the morning. They now wheel a trolley around the local roads and my post is delivered in the afternoon.

I think it is a shame, but the Royal Mail must have determined that the Mailstar bicycle was no longer effective, apparently due to the increasing number of parcels requiring delivery.  Rather than look at design solutions on the bicycle they now use trolleys with the Posties ferried to the area by vans.

Does it make my ex-Postie Pashley trike more collectible?

Thursday 24 October 2013

Steel is real...rusty

Carbon frames, Titanium frames and Stainless steel frames are beginning to appear with lifetime warranties. This is unquestionably good and I hope the vendors remain in business long enough to support any claims. However, I can't recall seeing any offers of lengthy warranties on steel framed bicycles and I suspect it is due to the risk of  "tin worm"/ oxidation/ red rot/ corrosion.

With about seven steel bicycles in my collection rust is a bit of a concern, especially on my Brompton, Basso Viper and Condor Tempo which I need to/plan to use when the weather turns foul.  My main worry is the inside of the tubes so I began looking into spraying Waxoyl inside the frames, after all it was the thing to do for older cars.

Technology has advanced since the 90's and I found the latest recommended rust preventative tested on the very good Road.cc website.

It was a bit pricey but it should hopefully be sufficient to apply to most of my steel framed bikes and if there is any remaining then I've still got a couple of old classic cars which might also benefit.

I just need to find some time to do the jobs.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Early MiB?

When I was younger paintings by L.S. Lowry (not the originals) were hung in the family home and in my Grandparents'. I recall scanning the individuals painted in each picture trying to spot unusual hats or something slightly different from any of the other paintings. I also used to count the number of matchstick dogs for some reason.

I still admire L.S. Lowry's work and went to the Tate Britain exhibition today. The exhibit was very popular and it was a little difficult to see all of the paintings in detail but, where I could, I found myself trying to find unusual looking features and I even started to count the number of dogs.

For the first time ever I spotted a cyclist and I took a cheeky photograph souvenir with my iPhone. Laurence Stephen Lowry painted a picture of a Rapha Condor JLT cyclist...you can definitely make out the white armband on the black jersey:

Sunday 6 October 2013

Born again Basso

A new wheelset, new brake callipers and totally re-cabled.

I procrastinated on a new hand built wheelset, considered a used set of wheels with Chris King classic hubs and finally decided on a pair of Shimano C35 wheels. I couldn't afford the Dura Ace clinchers so decided on the RS81 Ultegra version.  The RS81 is the new 11 speed hub, but to fit a 10-speed cassette is straightforward - you fit the normal 1mm spacer ring and a new 1.85mm spacer that comes in the bag of spares with the wheels.


The old Ultegra callipers had seen better days and a good friend gifted me a pair of 7700 Dura Ace callipers in like new condition complete with Swissstop green brake pads.

I re-cabled the bike with the new Jagwire road pro kit in a carbon silver outer effect and finished the re-build with black Lizard Skin DSP bar tape.

It is a beautiful bicycle and I am looking forward to using it again and getting out for a long pedal, however I am toying with the idea of selling it - shock horror.

Saturday 28 September 2013

Cycling fiction

Joking aside, I'm struggling to think of any cycling related fiction other than Lance Armstrong's books which notoriously got moved shelves in libraries and book shops.

I enjoy reading cyclist's autobiographies, doping confessions,  anthologies and historical biographies but, I have to say, I loved 'Consumed', the cycling novel by Jonathan Budds.

The plot is superb, the writing insightful and it is one of those wonderful books that gives you the impetuous to seek out more good literature. If only there were more cycling-related fictional books.


...and an odd photograph I took of a big Porkie, thrown in just because ;-)

Friday 27 September 2013

Goldilocks gearing

Gearing: sprockets and chainring size is a personal thing. After all, we can't all push a 58 like Tony Martin. And, over time and changes in strength and fitness, what might have been just right is no longer ideal for Goldilocks.

I swapped my 2 speed Brompton for a 6 speed earlier this year and the BWR (Brompton Wide Ratio) hub fitted with the standard 16T and 13T just wasn't right. I have never used the lowest ratio on the 3-speed hub (but I might if I ever decided to ride up Alpe d'Huez on the Brompton); in the middle and on the 16T I pull wheelies accelerating away from traffic lights and the jump from the 13T in the middle to the 16T on the high ratio felt too wide.

What to do? The new Brompton chainset makes it a simple task to swap chainrings, however replacing the worn chain gave me the cheaper opportunity to replace the rear sprockets with something different. So I decided to try out a 15T with a 12T.

The 1, 2 and 6 speed Brompton hubs have the same spline fitting as Shimano. Brompton sell a 12T as a replacement for the single speed but I couldn't find a 15 tooth from them (other than for a 3 speed hub fitting).  But you can buy individual sprockets to replace worn parts to cassettes, so I purchased a Shimano 9-speed XT 15T sprocket.
Fitting both sprockets on the hub was straightforward and the gear change with a new (same length) KMC X8 chain is perfect.

The proof is in the porridge pudding. Today's commute with the new gearing was good; Pulling away from traffic lights on the 15T-middle was fine and didn't need the immediate change up as previous. The ratio between the 12T-middle and the 15T-high feels much closer and, I could be wrong, the Silly Commuter Race pace felt quicker.

Let's see how they wear.

Monday 23 September 2013

A (very, very, very, very) special day

Yesterday was the final stage of the Tour of Britain and a wonderful opportunity to see the riders close-to.

Not only do you get to wander about the area where the team buses park and have a close look at the team bikes but the riders pass by at slow speed on the their way to signing on.


Then you can walk around the route whilst the racers smash around the 10 laps at over 50kmph average. If you are lucky you might manage to get a cast-away bidon (thank you team NetApp Endura).

Then if you are very privileged and you get an invitation to Rapha's Tour of Britain celebration party after the race (as my son and I did) then you get to hold the trophy, mingle with Ian Stannard, Bernie Eisel, Matt Hayman, David Lopez, Kristian House, Mike Cuming, Richard Handley, John Herety, Will Stephenson and Luke Mellor and many more. Star struck :-)

Sunday 15 September 2013

RIP wheels

I have started to give my Basso some TLC. It has been neglected for some while and I shall probably use it throughout the Winter which appears to be approaching rather suddenly.

The Basso had been cannibalised for parts during the Summer; 1" steerer spacers for my son's bike and the saddle for Brompton racing. Whilst re-assembling it I noticed the rear brake calliper had seized, the rear freehub was in a nasty state and there was an obvious cause of the puncture to the front wheel...


The rim is so worn the tyre pressure has made it give way and, what with a kaput rear freehub, I have to admit the wheelset is dead.

They were handbuilt for me by John Poyzer in 2007 and have served me well. I have ridden the cobbles of Flanders on these and up many tour climbs and they have covered thousands of miles. RIP.

What should I replace them with?

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Go Beastie, go!

Follow Graeme Obree's progress as he tries to conquer the human-powered land speed record in Battle Mountain, Nevada.


Monday 9 September 2013

Puzzling prices

I'm unsure whether I bagged a bargain or not in Halfords...

Their website advertises GT85 at £3.00 (apparently saving £3.24) yet in store it is priced at £4.95.  However, in a bargain basket it is marked at £2.49 providing you buy another item.


Sunday 8 September 2013

Feeling flattered

The Tour of Britain starts on the 15th September and I shall be glued to the television watching the highlights each day.  I will be cheering on the MiB whilst also hoping that Wiggo, Dowsett, Stannard and Cav all do well on the various stages.

Had I been able to take the time off work I might have experienced the full race in the Commissaire's car as I was asked if I might consider being the C Comm.  I have no idea what that would entail but it was flattering to be asked.