Thursday, 30 June 2011

Stopping the poop

For the last few months my dog (Woody) and I have had a tussle for ownership of the vegetable patch.

He clearly thinks that as the ground has been lovingly dug, that it has been prepared for him to use as a toilet. Each day he removes the few brave seedlings, tramples the strawberry plants and carefully deposits poo where my vegetables should be . Today (when I once again caught him on the return journey) I decided that it was time to fix the problem. I did consider a number of solutions (some of which would have proved uncomfortable for for pooch) but finally settled on this, a bicycle wheel fence. Made of nothing more than old wheels, hazel rods and old inner tubes for ties.

So now that pile of buckled wheels that I didn't want to throw away will be looking after the raspberries, strawberries and nasturtiums, yum!

Monday, 27 June 2011

20 minutes to Draycote Water

Who knew that Draycote water (our largest local bit of inland water) was so near to Coventry- I certainly didn't. On my last sunny free day I wanted to have an expore so after failing to make sense of my new bike GPS , I dug out an old OS map which i'd been given in exchange for a bike repair. Much to my surprise, little more than a handspan from my house was a big blue blob on the map- Draycote Water. I'm not sure how, but over the last few years I must have cycled past it a million times- which must be quite hard to do as I think its 2 miles long and 1 mile wide- I also later realised that our friends smallholding is just down the road.

Anyway, I'm glad I've finally found it because the ride there and Draycote Water itself is beautiful. The journey there was mostly easy, a short ride through Brandon into Wolston and from there the major part of the ride was on a single track road (coalpit lane) on which I didn't meet a single car or lorry and which had open fields on either side. As the lane had a meandering rise when I looked back I could see Wolston and then Coventry in the far distance- fab.

The only slightly scary bit was when coalpit lane joined with the A45 for a short stretch, its only for about 2 or 3 minutes until the turning for Thurleston, but its was enough. Once at Thurleston, you can see the water from much of the village.

Then its just a short walk past the old windmill and church

Through a farmers field and you're there!

Fantastic and definitely worth the journey.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

A fantastic day at the Green Fayre

Well it was a windy, wet and early start for me and the guys organising the Green Fayre, 7.30am standing in an empty bit of the Memorial park with nothing but a pile of unbuilt stalls and a hoard of 'boot camp' fitness folk to keep us company. The Fayre was in a fantastic position this year and it didn't take long for things to take shape.

As soon as the stalls went up, people starting arriving, the music and food marque appeared and in the blink of an eye all was ready and waiting.

From 11am onwards there was a steady stream of new people, i'm not sure how many people attended in the end, but it was constantly busy.

It was lovely to see so many people, parent and children cycling to the Fayre- encouraged somewhat by the presence of Dr Bike and the free bike checks.

I did manage to spot this lovely tandem at Fayre, a handbuilt bromwich adapted at the back for a little one

There's a definite feel of the Glastonbury green fields of old at the Green Fayre, it's really relaxed and inoffensive, which is a welcome relief. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the event, there was some great music, fab food and I had some great conversations with many truly interesting people...roll on 2012!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Glad i'm not at glastonbury?

Can't believe its Glastonbury again, another year gone by and another summer just beginning. This year I've done the sensible thing and stayed at home, not only did i save myself the £200 it would cost to get in, i've avoided the festering pools of mud, half eaten kebabs, beer cans and thankfully there's no fear of drunken folk crashing through my home and landing on my bed this weekend...That said, i'm still tuning into the coverage, having a sneaky peaky at what i'm missing- BB King's just finished a stonking set that would have made my weekend......who am I kidding- even in its modern beer fueled form i'd love to be there, if only to hang out in the green field and once again hear the wonderful sound of the Wandering Ska Solar Powered Sound System

Anyway found out these great bike hack pics from my last venture to the festival, its amazing how many uses the bicycle can have when you're not allowed to bring a generator

Brilliant free phone charging. There was a whole rank of these, 20 mins of cycling equated to about a bar of charge on your phone- you can find the instructions on how to make your own here.

Found this guy working away in the green field, living out of his van and working off this homemade, pedal powered grinder/ polisher to make jewellery, fantastic.

Green Fayre tomorrow- looks like the glasto weather has settled over coventry, but don't let that put you off don your wellies and get down to memorial park for a look.

Monday, 20 June 2011

what a difference a day makes

Lisa has been after a 'dutch' bike for quite some time now- after a recent trip to London (where she saw beautiful bike wherever she looked) she spent the afternoon on Ebay looking for a local bargain. We've looked before but to be honest there are very few bargains to be had on ebay and usually anything vaguely swoopy gets very expensive very quickly. Oddly when she looked this time she found a bike and it was just down the way in Kenilworth, it only had a few minutes left so she bid on it and won it for the princely sum of £20.

To be honest, at £20 I wasn't expecting very much, a further conversation with the owner revealed that since getting a puncture last year it had lived outside( through the winter) leaning on a woodpile waiting for someone to fix it. Anyway, when i picked it up it looked like this:

Complete with cobwebs!

A poke around revealed rotten cables, seized gears, ruined tyres and a broken seat, wherever chrome had been there was now a healthy smattering of rust and flakey chrome- on the upside all the bearing were fine as were the brakes and the frame and paintwork just needed a wipedown.

So I spent the day today removing the broken bits, cleaning rust, fixing puctures and putting it all back together again- now it looks like this:

Beautiful, swoopy and best of all cheap!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Team green britain bike week

We're at the beginning of 'Team Green Britain Bike Week', which is promoting cycling across the UK for the week of the 18th -26th June. There's lots happening- even a few events that you can attend locally to fix and chat about all things bike- not least the wonderful Green Fayre where Dr bike will be present along with (I think) a couple of the local cycling groups.

Have a look at both sites, they're full of useful information.

Friday, 17 June 2011

A great reason to break your arm

Every day for the last 8 months i've been cycling the school run

Its not too strenuous; its a lovely way to start the day, chattering with my daughter as we roll down the big hill to school. We've managed to cycle all the way through the winter and have somehow managed to dodge the worst of the rainstorms (which as any parent knows usually occur around dropping off & picking up time)

This all looked like it would come to a dramatic end (for 6 weeks at least) when my daughter broke her arm. It was amazing really, a small trip and then a soft landing onto grass was all it took to snap both bones in her arm- every weekend until then we'd spent off-roading or bouncing up the bike jumps with nothing more than the odd scratch.

We started the next week with a mix of walking and extortionate busfares (I don't drive), by the next weekend we were thoroughly fed up and much poorer, so off i went to the garage to look for a solution. I already have a tandem which I use periodically,but this was far too big for my daughter, but a quick go on the back proved that she could 'stoke' fine and it didn't cause her any discomfort. So with a couple of scrap bikes (an adults at the front and a teens at the back) I improvised a rough tandem- the only difference being that it was attached at the forks and pivoted in the middle.

It's more stable than your average tag-along but was still too flexible for her to ride at the moment. That said i'm thinking of adding a few more on to see how far the 5 of us can get in the next rugby cycle fundraiser.

When i figured it out, if i caught the bus each day to school with my daughter- even if i walked home, walked to pick her up and then we both walked home it would cost £5 a day/ £25 a week and £150 for the 6 weeks of busfare we were going to need. So with this in mind off to ebay I went and found this beautiful machine

In the end it cost £120 and is brilliant, we've just finished our first week on the tandem and i'm not sure we'll go back to our school bikes when her arms better.

If you'd like to see how much cycling could save you check out this cycling cost calculator

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

...still here!

Shouldn't I be in Scotland by now?...Several months ago i'd hoped that with some winter training and a little luck i'd have completed the Lejog. At that time I had quite a few goals between where I was and where I wanted to end my journey. I've achieved most of what I set out to but I've been unable to get myself organised enough to actually go this year.

Thankfully i'm cycling again, which has come as something of a relief- although physically i'm not as able as I thought I could once again be, i'm enjoying the freedom of being able to get around under my own steam. This is something which is greatly underestimated until you can no longer do it- my advice for all those with dusty bikes and some time on their hands is to go out for a ride whilst your body allows you to have a choice....obviously check the bike first and make a judgement about whether its safe or not!

What I have found quite difficult about the Lejog, aside from the logistical dificulties of absenting myself from my family for two weeks and the physical effort required-has been the sheer cost of taking part. If travelling individually one has to allow for initial travel to cornwall, food/ accomodation/ spares (for two weeks) etc and the return- which I estimated at approximately £500 (if the journey was completed with a large amount of camping along the way). If you were to choose a guided tour you can join in for between £1300-£2000, these take the organisation out of cycling the lejog and look great but aren't for everyone and are certainly not for me. The other option is the charitable route, which is great if a charity you're really passionate about is trying to raise money- but isn't a cheap option if you just fancy a bike ride, most ask for at least £2000 in fundraising.

I love cycling because of simplicity and its accessibility. I like the idea of the physical challenge of travelling from one end of the country to the other but even at its cheapest the £500 I would use in completing the lejog would be better spent on repairing bikes to give away, rather than supporting me on a sweaty jolly across the country! I'm really hoping that next year i'll find a way to go and will continue to try to build on my fitness but am now going to try to focus on more local challenges.