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This is going to be a bit of a rant, following on from the building hand-wringing about getting all minced up on the roads.  Apologies for offence caused, but, fuckit.

The sides of lorries are FUCKING DEATH ZONES.  AVOID THEM.

That is all.


Does this need a "You wouldn't jump into a woodchipper?  You wouldn't dangle your legs in lava?" public service advert?  ARE PEOPLE REALLY SO FUCKING THICK?

Yes, I know they are, or in a hurry, and yes the road shouldn't be a mindless grinding machine lubricated with the blood of Our Tribe but by FUCK on a HOLY FUCKING FUCKDAY the stories I read are all - to my jaded eye - avoidable.  

I'd bet a fat pot that these are the same people who wear a fluo vest and a helmet on backwards and then jump red lights having ticked the boxes and thinking they're safe but with THE ROAD SENSE OF A BLOODY BADGER.


STOP DYING LIKE IDIOTS! You're making me look bad.  

"But how," I hear them ask, "How do we learn this, that you so-smug on your ivory seatpost claim to be Great Wisdom?  Evil Government doesn't train us!  Waily waily!"

You can just fuck off, you spineless whining pussies. I learned the way you bloody should: I acted like a dick and got scared by a near miss.  The difference is I PAID FUCKING ATTENTION.  Get out of your bubble of false safety, get that stupid plastic hat off SO YOU FEEL AS VULNERABLE AS YOU ARE and get a few scares.  That'll teach you. 

And if scares aren't your type, get the fucking bus or grow a pair.  (Ovaries will do fine; it's the weirdly prepubescent indolence of the permanent manchild that irks me here: just take control of your own bastarding safety)  There are some adult training courses and they are good, but this isn't rocket science. 

Victim blaming?  You fucking bet I am.  I'm fed up biting my tongue.
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People have been asking me what I think about this.  I think it's rubbish, and here is why:

The death rate is so vanishingly low that a law specializing in death by dangerous trousers is more urgently needed.  Seriously, we have an accident category for them in A&E and everything.  

The crime is already covered by manslaughter. Only a petrolhead would fail to spot that, because they have special super-lax and weakly applied laws to make them feel better about screwing up.  Or maybe they have spotted it and are keeping stum in case they feel "the full force of the law" themselves.  Imagine how people would drive if they expected a manslaughter charge for killing people? 

It's a tribal sop to Clarkson Man, who feels aggrieved by fuel prices and such, and who likes to see those naughty cyclists kicked.  This fits in with the current Hammond transport vibe, which is so petrolheaded that it looks like he wants to replace Hamster Hammond.  That would make Cameron into Captain Slow, which is a pity because I like Captain Slow, but he is posh and they are all mates.  Yes, your transport policy is being run by Top Gear. 

Note that every discussion you have with anyone about this proposed law changes within a couple of sentences from death to red lights and chavs on the pavement. It's nothing to do with the issue. It's pure vacuous politics and it stinketh.
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My big ride takes me past the Bristol massive.  Tuesday 3rd May I'm coming from Glastonbury to Bristol; Wednesday 4th I'm going over the Bridge to the folks in the Forest of Dean.  If anyone fancies riding along with, gimme a shout (or maybe an evening roll up the Bath Path? or other random pub-related locations?).  My speed at all times will be... sedate
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Bike Snob sounds off on the slippery puke that is Martin Erzinger, mister "too rich to punish" hit-and-run, and his "new car smell" drivel.

It's becoming increasingly clear to me that if you were addicted to humanity's shortcomings, and in order to feed your addiction you were to to take 21st century America and freebase it so that only its worst elements were left, you'd wind up with the quivering little gooey blob that is Martin Erzinger, which you'd then proceed to smoke and inhale. In any case, the patent absurdity of the "new-car defense" aside, I must say I'm tremendously disappointed in the current state of our rich people. At least "back in the day" they were ruthless in an above-board way, like robber barons, Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons," and the people in "Boardwalk Empire." Now they're just a bunch of cowardly whiners who can't handle the smells of their own luxury cars. Frankly, I think that when a human has devolved to the point where even the richly-appointed interior of his new Mercedes is too much for him, he's really not qualified for life in the outside world and should spend the rest of his life in a small enclosed area like the milk-fed veal calf that he is.

That, my friends, is a thing of beauty.
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"Gonna ride my bike until I get home.", that's not right.  It might be what he's singing, but it's not right.

"Gonna ride my bike until I get old."

...closer.  But there's plenty of riding left in old legs.

"Gonna ride my bike until I grow cold."

Now you're talking.
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I was going to write up something epic, but Charlotte has beaten me to it so here, clicky and marvel at the derring-do derringly done

(update: the result has been corrected since C wrote this)
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Next year, I'm forty and my do-it-all bike is ten (even though he's a bit like Trigger's broom now).  I know sixty is the new forty, but it's an excuse for a midlife crisis ride and in the UK,  that means Land's End to John O'Groats.  I quite hope to do it with friends, for chunks of the ride at least, if any of them can stand me wittering on for that length of time. 

LEJOG is 880 miles, give or take, and I'll probably take it easy over three weeks with a rest day or two, tentatively in May as that's the bike's birthday; basically, in the nice months because wintry Scotland is as grim as a grim thing.  I will be camping: this is one of those take-your-home-with-you gigs, because it makes me smile (the camp-over after Dunwich still makes me smile despite the Night Of The Earwigs). 

After talking around, I'm going to go uphill.  Coming from wild-and-lovely to crowded-and-familiar is what you do after an expedition, not during it. Plus I'll have a tailwind.

Read more... )
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Once again the Dunwich Dynamo is done: once again the Gathering of the Clans with every tribe under the cycling sun represented: from the veteran mile-devourers who get itchy if they do less than 200km to the boyfriend-girlfriend dares, longest ride of their lives; from the pace-line roadies never dipping under evens to the little Asian girl on a classic sit-up-and-beg; from the rusty old shed five-speeds to custom artisan bikes; carbon and steel, aluminium and titanium and even wood (yes, wood: the Pedersen had wooden rims); the athletes and the pub-crawlers, all cycling life is here.

Once again the ride forms its own Critical Mass, tapering to the Epping Snake, (hooking up with Em and her messenger pals, scoring a Snickers and a quick refill) pubs staying open longer this time (entrepreneurs all the way: late-opening pubs, ad-hoc bacon butty tents, cabbies touting for return van hire).  After the first fifty the snake is segmented and the rolling groups form and re-form; after about seventy or so, they've set, and now the dynamic is shedding, spalling, a sweaty and slightly hallucinatory comet coming in for a beach impact.  Got to keep in the group, got to keep the group sharp, or you end up in the existential Lonelinesses between groups. 

Once again the first road-sign for Dunwich, just after the last bad hill, and the chase down to the beach happy as dogs in a park (you've made it once you see that sign) where the blessed balm of the North Sea waits to soothe the centurion arse.

This year we took camping gear, to pitch behind the dunes, and rolled along slow and implacable as glacial retreat: a peloton of mostly knife-wielding lesbians and circus people, tandems with trailers that looked as if they'd contain a calliope and a Big Top.  It changed the ride a little: extended the timescale, made it very relaxed, made the arrival a part rather than the ultimate goal.  Camping fun was had: Night Of The Earwig, dawn swims, fire toys, the world put to rights over a bottle of scotch.  Even so, as always, the core of the thing is the same: they came, they rode, they overcame adversity, they went home smiling.
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Elsewhere there's a discussion about drivers parking on bike lanes - specifically, short-stop drivers like post vans.

See, this is one of those things that makes cycle lanes daft.  The obvious place for anything to stop is the side of the road.  Nobody's going to park in the middle of the road, or two hundred metres away.  Things stop on roads.  A and B are arbitrary points that can be anywhere, after all.

If a cycle lane is drawn on the edge of the road (and it has to be because they're for timid riders who are scared of going too far from the illusory safety of the kerb) then it's always going to be obstructed ad-hoc. 

The whole concept is a recipe for butthurt on all sides.  Cycle lane users get butthurt because their lane is blocked.  Delivery drivers get butthurt because all of a sudden they can't park any more to do their drop-offs.  The council get butthurt from both sides.

And I get butthurt listening to "wah sad cycle lane" tales.  Use the roads like grown-ups.
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Okay bike folks, it's time for me to do my annual gee-up and advertising post for the Dunwich Dynamo.  A ride through the night to the coast - sounds lovely, right?  Lots of riders, very informal, plenty of sillybikes and very serious bikes and all sorts of speeds and vibes. 

The ride heads out from sunny Hackney (near the Lido) and soon wends into Epping Forest before snaking blinky lights along the country lanes.  There's a formal midway stop, and lots of informal stops, then dawn in the Suffolk villages all pink and timbers and cock-crowing, before hacking over the heath to the sea, the tea, and well-deserved rest.

If you're up for a first century ride, it's a memorable one.  The actual distance is around 200km - 120 miles - ish.  It's still tough: it's a hundred miles and you have to stay awake, after all.  But it's a good kind of tough, doable rather than silly tough.  Grins and aches are matched.


Jul. 12th, 2009 07:35 am
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There's a prototype Lightlane in existence now.  It's a laser projector that paints an image of bike lane markings immediately behind a bike.  Teh intertubes thinks this is a cool toy.

It's just that, a toy.  Let's break it down to problems and solutions:

Problem: Rider believes cars are passing too close.

First off, are they, or does the rider need to HTFU?  A lot of nervous nellies think they're being buzzed close to DETH but are in fact just riding on roads.  Hence the pressure and enthusiasm for green paint everywhere.  This is the first group of people to whom this device would be marketed (and for whom it would, universally, fail).  It's the same target market as the orange plastic lollipop.

Let's say that the rider does have some nerve, but is being buzzed.  The canonical solution to this is to ride in a vehicular style: take the lane, ride at traffic speed where possible, obey all road signs.  Become a motorcycle.  This absolutely works.  It takes some stones to get started like this, but it's worth the investment in nerve. 

But say that your rider is in deep urban terrain and close-quarters mixing is inevitable.  Let's face it, you're not going to go from Marble Arch to the London Eye without getting a bit close.  In these quarters the projector is useless because it is projecting onto the vehicles themselves, and even if it wasn't, traffic is so dense that drivers can't see the projected image.

Interestingly the "theory of big" -- the wider you are, the more space you get -- means that the plastic lollipop is actually better than this techno-dingus.  It still screams  "timid rider" -- blood in the water to a taxi driving shark -- but the extra visual bigness acts on driver collision-avoidance autopilot.  Bright strips along the outside edges of panniers, flappy goth coats, two tail lights set apart, all do the same thing.

In summary, then, it exploits and then fails its target market.  The only cool thing about it is that you could scavenge the laser for a head-mounted dazzler weapon. 

andygates: (triathlon swim bike run animation)
Today's race was okay. Swim was just okay - what I'd predicted, but not smooth. T1 was a comedy catastrophe with one shoe going flying off into the road - so even though I was holding evens for much of the bike course (translation: staying at 20mph) I lost so much time that my bike leg suckethed verily. Very lonely out, too, so the usual mental-focus issue (speed drops if I don't have people to chase or Hulk Smash to fuel my speed) applied. Then it was T2, quick as you like, and onto the Dreaded Beach Run (roughly 1k beach, 2k woodland, 2k beach), which took about 8 minutes on top of my best, like most folks, and came it slow but solid. 1:26:45 total.  And I finally got a T5 out of my Suunto.

Thing is, that didn't matter 'cos there was great amusement to be had with an evening of lasagne (nom!) bike fettling and pinball, then a sparrowfart dash across the Levels to set up and go before the sun got to "roast grockle" temperature. [ profile] skean , [ profile] xeeny and [ profile] despaer were in tight competition and the result came right to the wire.  [ profile] skean started in the wave behind me -- underestimated his swim-fu -- and I  was pleased to have held him off until we were back on the beach with the last 2k or so to go.  

A good time was had by all.

Introspection behind the cut )

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Here's a thing: the Times Online took the UK statistics for bike crashes (reported to the police, and where injuries were reported - ie, serious ones) and made a map  (here it is fullscreen).  I can name the ones on my commute, and you won't be surprised to hear that unthinking, speeding, dangerous idiot drivers were involved in 'em.

Don't let this deter you.  Treat it as a reminder to stay sharp.  We are mammals in the age of dinosaurs: quick, smart, and destined to inherit the earth -- but also squishy.  Whiteladies and the Gloucester Road in Bristol aren't really gutters of blood.  :)

And if you feel the urge to get campaignin', Roadpeace are the org who challenge Britain's casual acceptance of this carnage. 

andygates: (Default)
...and this is why an open dataset and tools rock.
  1. Using the 'tagwatch' pages of the OSM wiki, pull down an OSM data file of shop=bicycle.
  2. Load it into the map editor, JOSM, and trim off anything outside UK/Europe.
  3. Load that into GPSBabel and convert from OSM to GPX.
  4. Use your POI loader to stuff the data onto your GPS device.
That's really nifty.

andygates: (Default)
Me, that is. Quite a lot slower.

Pics and video behind the cut :) )

Track riding is a traditional club jolly in the winter months. If your tri club arrange a session, give it a go - it's great fun.
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Last year I realised that I've been cycling for a quarter century.  I wanted a tattoo to mark that... but what to get, when every bike would exclude some other sort of bike (even a "cogs 'n' chains" design would kybosh the penny farthing!)?  Eventually I settled on a bit of Science, the power formula for bikes, which describes how hard you have to work to overcome the various resistances I've resisted every week since I was eleven.
Pics after the cut )
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Yay! I'm famous! Sorta... Treehugger, the environmental blog, have used a phone-snap of my excellent helmet hair the other summer as an illustration for a piece on the evils of helmet hair.

Irony:  I don't normally wear one, and that was a leisure mountainbiking trip, entirely non-essential, which I drove to on my own.  A little training before the Loch Lomond triathlon, I think.

Double irony: the survey is bogus.  "No one wants to arrive at work covered in sweat and smelling like body odor" addresses, at best, a perceived problem, not an actual one (ride slower, you dorks).  But it's a perfect excuse, making it sound like you care and putting the weird bike tribe down while not having to do anything.  The real reason people don't bike is inertia.  But "I can't be arsed to investigate the possibilities" doesn't come up often on forms.
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We've got a lovely new bike shed. It's all see-thru curvy stuff, covered Sheffield stands for 40 bikes, room for 10 more if they're cosy, with staff-ID swipe access. It's also covered by the All Seeing Eye of the Maternity department's CCTV. Sweet.

So I was at the Grand Opening Photocall today (staff zine and local rag, councillor, chairman of the trust, etc) and I swear, I had to bite my metaphorical tongue so hard it drew blood. Because all that the cyclists seemed to be talking about was how they need special lanes and special this and special that... and how their son won't wear a reflective jacket... and how drivers are so mean.

Nothing about what a lovely ride it was this morning, or how ace and cheap and fun it all is. Just special-pleading "I am a deserving mouse, please give me facilities because I am scared" stuff.

I did butt in, of course, pointing out that there will never be 100% facility coverage so everyone needs to learn how to ride confidently in traffic, take the lane, be comfortable looking behind them, and all that. And, to be fair, the local cycle-training lady did say that that's what they're training the current crop of kids to do. Sweet.

But dear gods, the rest of 'em. Fluorescent-coated helmeted bloody mice, they need nothing so much as they need to grow a pair and get out there doing it.

I felt exactly the same kind of disconnection as I do around velvet pagans. 

And that makes me sad and angry.
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Spoiler! )
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It's that time of year again: the Dunwich Dynamo. A bike ride from the pub to the beach - a pub in Hackney to a beach in Suffolk, as it happens, with 120 miles in between.  This is the sixteenth year it has run.


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