Tag Archives: Cycling

Cycling in the Snow

Normally my main source of transport around my city is my bike.  I go everywhere on it.  And I’ve been trying to still go everywhere on it today, when it’s been snowing for most of the day.  I was alright cycling into town this afternoon, I went along a main road which didn’t have any snow on it, and it was fine.  The snow was still falling, which was slightly annoying when you’re cycling into it, especially when it goes into your eye, but it was ok.  Then I locked my bike up in town for an hour or two, whilst i did some odd jobs.  I returned to find my bike under an inch of snow.  I took a photo of it on my phone and if I figure out how to get photos from my phone to my laptop, then I’ll show you.  I brushed it off, and cycled home.  I went slowly, because I was on less main roads, and the snow had stuck, but it wasn’t v.thick on the ground.

Once I’d shaken off the snow and eaten, I wanted to go up to Mr B’s.  I didn’t really want to cycle unless necessary, but given that more snow and freezing temperatures are forcasted tonight, and I’ve got to get to work in the morning, I figured it would be better to cycle to Mr B’s tonight, and then I’ll be walking distance from work in the morning.  The only flaw in this plan is that Mr B lives up a big hill.  So I’ve discovered that trying to push a bike up a slippery paverment is very difficult.  The only thing that I could hold onto was my bike, which isn’t stable given it has wheels and it slips around all over the place.  I had my walking boots on, and just about managed it, but it was quite difficult.  Most of the way I just went slowly, aside from the big hill, I only had to get off and walk at one point, when I was trying to cycle on a footpath with compressed snow, ice and a slope.  When my bike started skidding, I decided I was saver on my feet, although then my bike and my feet skidded.  Anyway, I got here eventually.  And within the time I’d allowed, before Mr B would come and look for me!

Knocked Off

I was cycling home from work this morning after working all night, and as I was cycling down a bike lane I spotted a pedestrian on the side of the road, looking as if she was about to cross the road but without checking the way I was coming. The road was a one way road for cars and a two way road for bikes, and the first thing she was stepping into was the bike lane. I rang my bell and started to brake, but it was too late – she walked straight into me. Knocked me clean off my bike, into where the cars would soon be driving. My right elbow, right leg and head all made contact with the ground, although luckily I was wearing a helmet so my head remained undamaged. I quickly got up, worried about the approaching cars, only to receive the blunt blame for this accident from the seemingly uninjured pedestrian. She claimed I was on red. No – the cars coming the other way are on red. I am a bike. And that set of traffic lights had a little green bike picture on it. That means bikes can go. I wasn’t that rude to her face though… I said I was sorry, but that I did ring my bell and I was on green. She handed me my front brake handle that was lying on the ground and stormed off, without any apology or checking that I wasn’t significantly injured.

I got myself onto the pavement and inspected my injuries. Nothing too bad, just a stinging graze on my elbow and the beginnings of what I think will be a massive bruise on my leg. I was pretty shaken up though – I did let a couple of tears fall down my face as the shock and tiredness from the night hit. I thought I was going to have to walk my bike home, which would take at least half an hour, but I wanted my bed so much that I cycled home (slowly) without a front brake. Luckily I didn’t have to go down any big hills.

Cycle Rage

I’ve been cycling a lot recently. To and from work, to town, to church, to friend’s houses, everywhere. Unless its close walking distance or someone is giving me a lift, then I cycle it. And with that comes general annoyance at car drivers. There are a large number of cyclists where I currently live, so you’d think that the car drivers are used to us and give us plenty of space, etc. But no. Not a lot of the time. It bugs me. Its not uncommon for me to get road rage when I’m cycling, even though I never used to when I was driving.

What sparked this little rant was when I nearly got knocked out by a plane of glass this afternoon. I was cycling along slowly because I was trying to find a specific shop along the road, and I wasn’t exactly sure where it was. I then spotted it on the other side of the road, so I pulled over and stopped about 1.5 metres behind a parked van. The van was obviously a window fitting business, and it had a rectangular piece of glass attached to the side of the van, sticking out about half a metre behind the end of the van. Before I had chance to dismount my bike, to cross the road to the shop, the van started reserving fairly quickly. The glass and the back of the van was coming straight at me. I frantically tried to move myself and my bike backwards as quickly as possible, but I couldn’t keep going backwards at the same speed as he was coming towards me. And I think I must have been in his blind spot. There was a guy over the road who spotted this situation and started shouted ‘WOAH!!!’ to the van driver. I don’t think he noticed, but thankfully he didn’t continue reserving, and pulled out forwards, enabling me to breathe a sigh of relief. But as you can guess – it didn’t do my general opinion of drivers any favours.

Life

I realise I haven’t posted very much recently. Lots is happening in Real Life. Lots of changes. But mostly good ones. Having found a fab man and an almost house, its looking good. But I thought I’d tell you about my adventure the other night…

I was visiting the Almost House on Sunday and had gone out for dinner with the Almost Housemates before we started making our way separately to church. I was on my bike and they were in the car, so they agreed to take my bag for me, and meet me there. I set off on my bike, with my map, before realising that my big thick cycling gloves were in the bag that was in their car. I thought I’d be ok…. until it started snowing. And my hands went numb. Changing gear with your arm muscles is interesting… Then I got lost. My map showed clearly a cycle path coming off the road, and towards the town, but I couldn’t see it in real life, at all. After a quick phone call to my new guy and he told me you had to cycle through a block of flats car park to find it, I got over that hurdle. Don’t ask how I managed to use a phone with numb hands, I’m not sure myself. Then it went ok for a few minutes, I didn’t know exactly where I was going, but I could work it out. I reached the outskirts of the centre, and was just negotiating a Big roundabout (thankfully via the pavement / subway), when my bike stopped. Completely. It made a clang, and then refused to move. I clambered off, and soon realised that one of my elasticated spider things which secure bags on the back, had come off and wrapped itself around the back wheel spokes. I flipped my bike upside down and tried to remove it, but with numb hands and in the snow and dark, it wasn’t going anywhere! I rang my boyfriend back (I was also meeting him at church, supposedly within 5 minutes by now) and after talking about it, we figured the best thing to do for me to lock up my bike where it was, and for me to go straight to the pub next to church and warm up.

So I left my bike at this roundabout, and walked the 20 minutes or so across town to the pub where I warmed up with hot chocolate and cider (not together!). Thankfully I happened to have a spare, although muddy, set of clothes, in my bag. So as soon as the service finished, I got my bag back and was able to get some dry clothes on. My hands had impressively warmed up before I made it to the pub, thanks to my fleecy jumper, but my jeans were soaked through with freezing water. With the dry jeans, lovely friends and a bit of jumping around, I soon got the circulation going properly again.

My bike was slightly more interesting. Its booked in for a (complementary) service in the shop it was bought from on Wednesday. So I figured that they could fix the back wheel. If I could get it across town, with a disabled wheel. And when I was working 12 hour shifts Monday and Tuesday. Theres a reason I called my new guy fab – I gave him the keys, he retrieved it, removed the elasticated spider thing, cycled it to the bike shop, booked it in for the service, and even remembered to tell them about the slightly dodgy second gear! 😀 So all I have to do tomorrow is collect it.

New bike and Yummy Treats

I collected my new bike this morning! Its fab! I can ride up hills without too much effort and everything works beautifully.

For my birthday last July and when I graduated, I was given some money to put towards a car for work. But parking anywhere is so impossible here, and I’m so central that I don’t need a car, so I decided to spend the money on a better bike. This one is much better quality, should last a lot longer and I had 25% off the retail price!

There was some debate over what I’m going to do with my old bike. I was tempted to give it to a local homeless charity which does old bikes up for homeless people. But my parents pointed out that my sister and I are often complaining that there isn’t a bike at home suitable for us to use, when we’re at home (on holiday) and wanting to cycle somewhere. So it’s going home. Given that I had some money spare with the sale in the shop, I decided to leave my v.old lock and lights with my old bike for home use, and buy myself some new ones. So earlier this afternoon I fitted the new fittings onto my new bike. And now it really is set to go!

After picking it up, I cycled over to the organic farmers market and bought local cheese, freshly baked bread and homegrown mushrooms. This afternoon I walked up the hill and went to my regular local fruit and veg shop, and stocked up with food that I didn’t buy this morning at the market. And I discovered Burnt Sugar, in the Oxfam up there. They claim to be set to do what Green and Blacks did to chocolate, to the sweet market. Its all fairly traded, carbon neutral and very yummy! I treated myself to a bar of their fudge, and have made subtle obvious hints in reference to their honeycomb and chocolate easter egg. 😀

Bike Ride

I’ve just got home after a fabulous bike ride. I set off early afternoon, prepared to further than usual, with food, drink, map, compass and extra layers. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so I can’t show you any photographs. But I can show you a map. I set off from my house, and cycled to Blackpill, where i went up through Cylne, past Killay, Dunvant and up to Gowerton. This section was all off road, through woods, and mostly flatish. It was really pleasant, listening to the birds and going along gently. The second half of this path was new to me, I’d only ever got as far as Killay before, because I lived near there last year. When I got to Gowerton, I was feeling a bit lost. I didn’t really know how I was going to get home. I could have just gone back the way I’d come, but I felt that was boring, and I fancied getting out onto the Gower.

Before today I’ve never taken my bike out on the Gower. Previously I had decided that I wasn’t fit enough for it. And today proved that I was correct. I set out on the North Gower road, but found it too busy (especially when the ideal cycle path, decided to just stop), so I turned off a smaller road which was sign posted Three Crosses. On the map, I could see that between myself and Three Crosses, there was a biggish hill. But its a lot easier to look at the contour lines on a map and to convince yourself that you can do it, than it is to actually cycle up the hill. Well, I did what I could – I took regular breaks and pushed some of the way. The views were absolutely amazing though. I was sorry I’d left my camera at home at this point. When I finally got to the ‘Welcome to Three Crosses’ sign, you have no idea how glad I was.

All the effort climbing up the hill, was worth it when I zoomed down the other side, down into Dunvant. I managed to break my maximum speed on my bike – I was going at 24.7 mph, which on a bike is quite fast! I *think* the section when I was going that fast, was down what seemed like the biggest hill in the world, and then I suddenly realised there was a roundabout at the bottom of the valley, and a similar sized hill going up the other side!!! Oh bugger. Argh!!! Lets just say I am so glad there weren’t any cars going around that roundabout when I got there.

The rest of the journey was quite simple. I just came back along the roads and through the park, back to my house. I now feel completely knackered. And my knee isn’t entirely happy. My whole body kinda aches a little, like it does after a long hike. But my bad knee is aching more than anywhere else. I need to find out from my physio whether the pain I get after cycling / hiking lots, is good pain (its strengthening the muscle) or bad pain (its pushing the ligament too much).

Overall it was a good afternoon. But now I’m going to go and have a bath and find some food before going out to a wiblogger’s birthday party.

Tips for De-icing Bikes and riding in the frosty weather

After cycling to work every day for the past few weeks, I am now an expert in this field, so decided to share some of the knowledge I have aquired along the way. The neccessary items as listed below can be bought from most good outdoor/bike shops.

You will need:
* 1 bike
* 1 towel
* 1 windproof, warm coat
* 1 pair of windproof gloves
* 1 pair of normal gloves (if very cold)
* 1 fleecy headband
* 1 cylce helmet
* 1 pair of long rainbow coloured socks (well, i suppose they don’t have to be rainbow coloured, but it is preferable)
* warm clothes generally
* 2 lights, if cycling in the dark – one white and one red.

1. Take the bike, from where ever it has been overnight (in my case, our balcony) and use the towel to brush off any ice or frost that is on the seat or on the handle bars.
2. Wrap yourself up – ensure you are wearing the warm clothes, put on the windproof coat and gloves (if its very cold, put another pair of gloves on under the windproof pair, but ensure that movement to the fingers can still be maintained, otherwise braking might be interesting).
3. Put the fleecy headband over your head – ensuring it covers up your ears, and then put the cycle helmet over the top.
4. Secure the lights on the front (white) and the back (red) of the bike.
5. Now, you’re ready to go. Cycle carefully, especially if there is ice on the roads. As the cold wind rushes past you, make a mental note of cold parts of your body, and try to wrap that area up better the following day.
6. When you arrive at you’re destination, secure your bike however appropriate, and remove the cycle helmet and excess clothing – I can guarrentee your cheeks will be red and you will need to allow your body to cool off after the energetic ride.
Good luck!

Eco-friendly Road Rage

Since being on placement in Neath, I have been cycling to the station in Swansea and catching the train to Neath. I have discovered that I get road rage when I on my bike. I am constantly swearing under my breath and getting really annoyed at many of the car drivers as I cycle through the centre of Swansea. But I reckon its eco-friendly road rage because a lot of the time I’m getting annoyed because of the pollution and general bullying attitude a lot of the car drivers have on the road. I’m only a little cyclist! Its probably brought on due to the stress of trying to cycle up the big hill, ensure I’m going the right way, in the right lane and I’m not going to get knocked over in the process. My Dad often gets annoyed at car drivers when he’s cycling, I don’t know whether he would describe it as eco-friendly road rage, but I think its rubbed off onto me.

On another aspect of my daily journey to Neath – I really have to make sure I don’t fall asleep on the train. I am used to train journeys being about 5 hours long, so when I get on a train I go into automatic day-dreaming mode. Several times I have re-emerged in the real world, to find myself at Neath station, and gone ‘argh! – I need to get off!’. I’m sure I’m going to wake up in Port Talbot or even Cardiff one of these days!

Grrrr, car drivers can be so disrespectful of cyclists

I've just cycled up the hill from uni in the dark. I had a debate whether it would be safer to go through the park or up the road. I decided on the road because although I've survived worse situations than Singleton park at 11pm (I grew up in central Manchester), the road is much better lit and practically empty. Most of the way up I was ok, but suddenly, for no obvious reason a car tooted his horn 3 or 4 times at me. This completely scared me – I practically jumped out of my bike seat. I turned my head to see what all the fuss was about, couldn't see any reason for the driver to react in that way (though my instincts said it was a some sort of sick practical joke for a vulnerable cyclist). When I turned my head back to face forward, my bike was heading straight for the pavement – I luckily reacted quick enough to avoid this obstacle. I doubt if the car driver would find amusement in this ‘joke' if I had crashed into the pavement and he found me under his wheel. Grrrrrr, car drivers annoy me so much sometimes.

We watched ‘The Incredibles' tonight, and afterwards we were discussing what super power we would choose, if given the opportunity. This isn't something I've given particular thought to (unlike some, I was never into comic books), but after cycling home I have decided. Its not exactly ‘super', but if I had the power to do so, I would make it compulsory for all drivers to have substantial experience of cycling on roads, before they could pass their driving licence. It would probably considerably reduce the numbers of cars on the roads.

Oh, BTW, do any bicycle doctors out there know the best way to sharpen up the quality of brakes? Living in Swansea you have to use brakes a lot more than in Manchester, and the front brake isn't quite as sharp as I would like it to be.

Ow!!!!! Maybe falling off my bike wasn’t the best thing to do.

Just fallen off my bike. I skidded on the path from the park into uni. Don’t worry, apart from a few cuts, a suspusious looking lump on my knee and being slightly shocked by the experience, I’m ok. Thank you Matty, Grandad and Bimble for your support.

The weird thing was that when I fell down I was actually planning a blog in my head. Maybe I should concentrate on cycling next time, instead of thinking about blogging about cycling (does that make sense – it did in my head). I can’t really remember what I was planning on blogging. I know it was something to do with cycling. I think i was going to have a rant about car drivers who think they own the roads and they don’t give cyclists enough room and respect. Do they not realise how easily i could move slightly further away from the pavement and SMACK. That would be worse than falling over in the park. I was brought up to be confident when cycling on the road. My Dad’s attitude is basically to make the cars slow down – he’s fairly stubborn on his bike, likes to show bullying car drivers, he won’t be bullied. Thats all very well, but cars are bigger than his bike, and this attitude can be rather worrying at times. I am obviously careful when cycling on the roads, but I am much more willing to slow down and give way to pedestrians (and cute birds in the park) than I am cars (but often they give me no choice, other than to stop).

As a student nurse, I highly recommend Orange Divine chocolate bars for helping with shock after an accident. It keeps your blood glucose levels up and its fairly traded!