Sunday, 5 December 2010

How to lock your bike

...It might seem like a stupid thing to spend time writing about, but every single day I see a bike that has either not been locked or has been locked in such a way that even the most ill equiped cycle thief could walk away with a new toy. After several years of absent bikes, stolen wheels and missing seats this is how I tend to lock mine.

First, make sure you've secured your seatpost and saddle- always the first thing to go. I tend to take out the quick release as well- seems a bit silly to make the thiefs job easier!

Use a lock to attach the front wheel to the frame and then preferably to whatever you've locked the rest of the bike to.

Finally, get a substantial chain- the thicker the better and lock your rear wheel and frame to the immovable object you're locking your bike to. Make sure that you take up the slack in the chain- locks are easier to remove with a hammer if they are resting on the floor.

Monday, 25 October 2010

....surely its too cold for cycling?

Despite my promise, its been a couple of weeks since my last post- not because i've given up on the idea of completing the Lejog, but simply because life has once again interferred with my overambitious plan for uninterupted exercise.

The reality of balancing getting ready with the normal routine of being available for children and the earning of money has finally dawned on me. The recycling project continues to grow and demand more of my time, despite the change in weather there has been little reduction in the number of bikes requested although we have seen more childrens bikes being requested- i'm assuming for christmas- so far we've managed to meet the demand for bikes with the bikes donated but are hoping for more childrens bikes in the next few weeks to pass onto various projects across the city. This week has seen the start of advent and with it has come a steady stream of running from nativity play to choir practice and onto christingle service, just a visit to the cathedral to go and then hopefully they'll be a little time left for christmad shopping and then possibly a little bit of cycling.

The ice and snow this week gave me an excuse to spend a little more time in the garage fixing up the bike for winter training and possibly for the eventual journey. Winterising my bike so far has consisted of the usual bike checks plus the addition of some little mudguards, some bright lights and some nobblier tyres, its still quite comfortable and reasonably light.

To be honest,when I think back my first two weeks of planning and exercise (despite all warnings) led me to overdo everything and left me feeling exhausted and deflated. Fortunately one thing I have managed to get right is leaving enough time to properly prepare, so despite my initial overexhuberance I should still be on course to be ready for the summer.

Take care for now, happy christmas planning!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Busy busy....

Its been a busy week, unfortunately its been so busy its not left much time for training, this week has been a week of travelling and meeting people. We've been working hard over the last few months to make as many people as possible aware of the recycling project, enabling them to pass on the cycles that they no longer want- you can find out more about Coventry Recycled Cycles and the project here

I'm not sure exactly why, but this week has been one which has been filled with both donations and requests for bikes- happily we've been able to match most of these to each other but this has required lots of too-ing and fro-ing across the city (thankyou Lisa and Bob). Despite the time it absorbs its lovely to see the immediate difference it makes to those that recieve a free bicycle and its fantastic to know that the bike that has been gifted has been saved from being 'recycled'( squashed and melted) and instead has been re-used.

We were lucky enough to meet with one of our local councillors Nigel Lee this week, who himself a keen cyclist donated his unwanted bikes to the scheme having just benefited from the 'tax free bikes' scheme- we'll hopefully be rehoming them later this week.

(Me and Councillor Nigel Lee)

Running the scheme has taken me all over the Midlands, to places and people that i'd not have seen otherwise. This week we popped over to Tamworth to meet Rob and his wife who donated not only a bicycle, but also tools and a pump. We also had a mini-adventure which took us on the train to meet Alan in Droitwich, a place which (I have to be honest) never drew me to visit but turned out to be lovely.

Going to Droitwich offered the opportunity to try out the basics of travelling on a train with a bike- something which had previously filled me with fear but which turned out to be surprisingly easy. I met a fantastic guy on the train back (who had many more cycling years under his bike than me) who talked all about the bicycles he had had built specially for him- although now retired he still had two identical bikes one which he had used for work- and one which he kept for 'best' . I was really touched by the way he talked about his bike which still hangs in his garage and that he would periodically go to gaze at- he described this as ' his own piece of art'....i might try hanging one of my bicycles in the house just to see what lisa thinks!

I'm hoping this next week will bring a little more cycling...lets see what happens!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

...I'm sure I used to be fitter!

Thought i'd start of today with a picture of my kit, all very exciting- particularly my tiny tent my bargain £7 trangia set and my amazing spork!....but am beginning to worry about where i'm going to put it all...I may have devised a solution...but more about that later....

Well, the training has started, its started very slowly but it has started. Over the next few months i'll be building up to completing my two proper training routes several times a week- so far i've planned a Rugby and a Coventry jaunt.

This is the Coventry route: So from binley woods cycling into Coventry along the binley rd, into the city centre past the memorial park towards Kenilworth, along the kenilworth rd into Kenilworth...i'm thinking that at this point a short cake stop might be called for.....then back on the bike and off past Mike Vaughan's bike shop and through Kenilworth town towards Leamington....just before Leamington town centre I turn off and head towards Princethorpe (which i think is the longest part of the journey) from there it a trip along the fosseway back towards Wolston, from beautiful Woston its a short peddle up the brandon hill and home again!

Bike route 715975 - powered by Bikemap

...and this is the Rugby route.

I'm less familiar with the Rugby route, once some time ago I foolishly agreed to accompany my son to school on his bike for a meeting with the headmaster- in the short few miles it took to get there i nearly died, several times as a result of over eager car drivers but mostly as a result of the seemingly never ending hills..i can't remember much of the meeting, all I do remember was the sound of my (obviously unfit) heart beating in my head and the slow cycle ride back home again!

So anyway, not deterred by that experience i'm following the same route towards rugby town centre, from rugby i head off towards dunchurch following a lovely route which runs out towards Draycote water, then its through Kites Hardwick and down towards Southam. From southam i head once again towards Princethorpe, once in Princethorpe i then follw the same route towards Wolston, through Brandon and back home again...hopefully alive and in one piece!

Bike route 715981 - powered by Bikemap

On paper Coventry looks to be the better ride...less hills, nicer roads, familiar territory and a little shorter!....but i'm a long way from 25+ mile daily journey's yet. Over the last few days i've been cycling short trips out, it amazing how quickly fitness disappears and how hard it is to regain what you've lost, so lots of shaking legs and burning lungs at the moment!

So anyway....back to the solution to all my pack carrying needs....I've been scratching my head trying to decide on which bike to take and how to carry all the bits i'll need- as i'm not staying in B&B's or having my luggage carried i'm going to have to economical with what i take and decide on the best way of carrying it all. So far its either on the john atkins with a trailer, with panniers .......or on my cargo bike that i've been putting together

Its a bit like an xtra cycle without the expense and made from stuff lying around the garage, I saw a picture of one somewhere- if i find the link i'll post it. I have to admit, it looks a bit weird but it works really well and is at lot easier than pulling a trailer, not sure i want to trial a DIY bike across the country though!

Hoping to start going to see people and talk about the journey soon, more cycling this week, i'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

..what to do first?

Having not done the Lejog before and with a mountain of planning, organisation and sourcing to do its really hard to decide what to do first. What i'm beginning to realise is that something which can feel like a very personal and momentous feat, is something that is completed by thousands of people each year, on every manner of transport, both quickly and slowly. What I'm also beginning to understand is that 1000ish miles is a bit of an abtract thing- unless you actually sit down with a map and calculate how far places are, its hard to understand the reality of the distances involved.

Yesterday I read all about how Eileen Sheridan (apparently a coventry cyclist) completed the whole journey in just under 2 1/2 days in 1954, makes my 20 day journey seem leisurely! There are thousands of accounts which spring up as soon as you type 'Lejog' into google. Most of these are helpful and full of useful information- a good one is PedalPower Adventures which details an amazing journey, but I think my favorites so far are George and Bens account of them 'borrowing' their way across the UK and the Jogglefool blog which was one of the most honest and funny accounts that I have read so far- have a read you'll laugh- I promise!

This first week has mainly involved planning my training routes, alongside impulse buying of 'essential' Lejog goods. So far my Lejog kit has extended to include a pannier set, a cycle computer and a very fetching T-Shirt (free from vistaprint) emblazoned with 'Coventry recycled Cycles- Lejog 2011'- so there's no backing out now, i have the t-shirt....and incidentally the mug (which was also free!).

I still haven't picked a bike to go on yet, I can't afford and don't want a new one, i'm hoping my John Atkins will make it with a service and a prayer, its a little battered and tired, but then so am I! The training proper starts tomorrow, so if i'm still conscious when i get back i'll let you know how it went.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

The beginning of the beginning of the journey...

Well, this is the beginning. I'm not sure how many, if any people will read this, but i wanted some way to record the whole journey that'll end up with me standing on the very tip of scotland- a wonderous place that i'm ashamed to say i've yet to visit.

I'm 7 months from starting the journey from this sign all the way up to John O'Groats- if you squint at the picture thats 874 miles of least. At the moment 7 months doesn't seem very long, i've a head full of things I need to prepare, everything from choosing a bike to how many packets of noodles i'll need...and how much they'll weigh...and what i'll look like after 20 days of noodle consumption. It seemed like a good idea a week ago, three weeks, just me on a bike, my tent and the open road, today i spent some time looking thinking about bum-ache and now it all seems a little less rose tinted!

The journey is important to me for lots of reasons,the opportunity arose because after several years of trying I finally left a job that I loved, hated and which proved unhealthy; so without a current occupation I have the free time to go. I'm also recovering from ME and really need something to aim for- I still unsure what recovery is, whether you ever become what you once were and whether aiming for Scotland is wise, but I want to try- I have a feeling that the journey is going to amount to far more than the 20ish days spent pedalling my battered old John Atkins bike up and down the hills of the UK. Finally, I guess I wanted to let people know the potential of cycling and the amazing things you can acheive on a (recycled) bike. I know i'm not the first person to discover Scotland on a Cycle and in a tent, but I have ridden bicycles forever and can't think of a better way to discover the world...can you?

Over the next few months i'll be updating and counting down, so check back and see how things are going.