Well begun..

..is half done.

That’s what I was taught growing up. Unfortunately, that didn’t bode well with my plans to write a post-a-day through 2011. Began well but broke down in middle of 2nd month when a string of bad news and unplanned travel hit me. I did try to give it a shot a couple of times after that but never got going.

Nonetheless, I don’t let any setbacks dissuade me (or I won’t be here, or anywhere, today). So, here I go with another plan – 30 days of biking. Yes, the challenge is on and today was the first day.

Today was also the (hopefully!) last day of test riding bikes for purchase. So, between test rides and the rides to/from the two shops, I rode about 15km today. That was the ‘well begun’ part from me. Let’s see how the well done part turns out.

Continue reading “Well begun..”

Well begun..

30 days of biking


I’ve signed up for #30daysofbiking and am eagerly looking forward to it. If you are into cycling, were into cycling at some time in your life or would like to (re)connect with cycling, I suggest you give this a try. There are no constraints on what to ride, how long to ride, how to ride, who to ride with or where to ride. The distance is up to you. Just ensure that you get on that bike at least once every day irrespective if it’s a ride around the compound, to the grocery store or a 600km audax. Really, what are you thinking? Just go to 30daysofbiking.com and sign up. Then ride, and share…

In other news. The bike has been in pretty sad state lately with a lot of muck and the badly bent back wheel. I took care of some of its problems today. Spent over an hour cleaning the bike thoroughly – with a brush & a toothbrush to get the muck and dust off, then with a wet cloth to wipe the stains and finally with WD40 to clean the really nasty stuff including the greasy grime accumulating between the gears and sundry other unreachable places. Of course, I later spent another half an hour thoroughly cleaning my makeshift bike garage (a.k.a. Rags’ kitchen and the only room in our apartment without carpeting). The effort was so draining that I was dripping sweat almost all through in this not-so-warm weather with heating off but I loved the outcome. It is a special feeling to see the bike smiling at you all cleaned up like it was when I first got it home.

Since I’m planning to buy a road bike sooner than later, I’ve decided to put full mud guards on the hybrid so I can use it comfortably in all weather conditions for city commutes. Getting that full mudguard set was the second task of the day. Popped in to the new Halfords outlet that has opened up just around the corner and signed up for their bike care plan. If you have a bike, are not sure you can service everything yourself and have an Halfords nearby, I suggest you too sign up for their bike care plans – costs just £18.99 for an year’s contract which includes free labour on any parts fitting (bought from them or elsewhere) and some free servicing too. Given that the alternatives, Evans Cycles and Cycle Surgery, had both quoted upwards of £20 for fitting these mudguards, the bike care plan has paid for itself already. So tomorrow (or day after, if things get really busy), I should get the clean and shiny bike back with a full set of mudguards.

Yes, that still leaves the issue of bent wheel and I really need to research first which wheel I want to get. Of course, the bike care plan shall help there too since I can now buy my first choice wheel from the place which has it cheapest and then get it built & fitted at the neighbourhood Halfords, FoC. :)

Boarman Road Team BB30 2011 Road Bike
Click image for larger size

Finally, while at the store, I also saw one of the road bikes that is in my ‘short’ list of 10 bikes – Boardman Team BB30 with 105 groupset and a really sweet price point of £999. The bike has got some really good reviews on both road.cc and in the (I think) Cycling Active. On a subjective note, of all the bikes I’ve seen so far, this is the only one whose colour scheme (Gray body with White & Yellow decals) I really liked. Of course the bike, like most road bikes these days, pairs the 105 in rear with a compact chainset while I want a triple if I go with 105. I’m sure though that this can be resolved. The bigger issues lie elsewhere.

First, Boardman sells in the UK exclusively through Halfords and the guys and Halfords told me that they do not allow test rides. This is a big issue. How can I spend a kilo pound sterling on a bike without even test riding it? At the minimum, I need to feel how comfortable I am with the fit and the riding position as well as get an idea of how responsive it is on corners and climbs. Despite falling in love with the bike on first sight (compared with not being attracted to some other bikes on my list despite seeing them many times in stores), I will not purchase it without a test ride. What a pity to rule this bike out :(

And that is not the only issue. The other issue relates to geography. If I buy this bike, I intend to use it for a few years. However, given our situation right now, we aren’t sure how long are we in UK for. A global brand like Trek is unwilling unable to service its warranty in UK on a bike bought in India barely an year ago. Will Boardman, a British brand with a no-test-ride policy, even entertain my warranty servicing requests if I move to another country tomorrow? I’m not so sure.

Thus, despite all that it has going for itself, this bike drops from top 3 to rank bottom in my short list of road bikes. Sad.

Looking forward. Tomorrow, I shall hopefully get my current bike back with the new mudguards on it. Also, time, mood and weather permitting, I shall head to a few other bike shops to feel and (fingers crossed) test ride some of the other models on my short list.

You, in the meanwhile, should sign up for #30daysofbiking, get your bikes cleaned and serviced and get ready to roll.

30 days of biking

Just the 2nd ride…

Ride 2, 2011 - Regular Circuit

I am trying but my mind is still not at rest, hankering back to memories and people in India. Staying home alone didn’t seem a good idea in such a case so I headed out on the bike again yesterday, despite the 3-7°C temperatures – only my 2nd ride of the year. Took almost the same route as last time just removed Camden & Chalk Farm and added Kensington Gardens.

It was a fine 42km ride with an average speed of 22kmph despite all the traffic lights, pedestrians in the park and a south-southeasterly wind, though the max heart rate of 186 was a bummer.

On the other hand, the ride did what it was supposed to – took my mind off stuff and stole away a few hours of alone time. Worked out really well on that account :)


Just the 2nd ride…

42 less cars…

42 less cars...

Love the idea and execution of the campaign. Simple, yet hard hitting… on several counts. Great job Brompton!

Wonder when will the building/office managers and town planners realise a simple fact and provide more (and secure) bike parking. Even if we were not to consider folding bikes, I’m sure I could easily fit in at least 7 full length bikes in that parking space. And we’re talking hatchback parking here, the long sedans, SUVs and limos take up much more.

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42 less cars…

Number plates for cyclists

Abbey Road Baptist Church

I have always believed that one thing that has helped car companies fend off most competition from alternate modes of transport is their ‘ownership’ of the roads. They have, very successfully, made the common man believe that roads were invented for cars to be driven on. They have made him forget that while the history of cars on the road is barely a a century old, the roads themselves have been around since at least the times of Romans. And they have used this new memory to force through restrictions of usage on other vehicles similar to those on cars, despite the vast variance in their size, power and nature of use. And this – the privilege to consider roads as automobile-driver’s right – is not something they will let lowly cyclists, pedestrians or segway riders take away from them easily.

With their bottom lines improving, I was expecting the American car companies to soon go on a war against urban cycling and this, prompted by them or not, is the best news they could have heard:

New York City’s cyclists will be required to register their machines and carry a number plate.

The young Republican, doesn’t help to his or his party’s reputation as big fat Elephants who fail to understand anything not helpful to big business or the rust belt:

Displaying a deep understanding of urban cycling culture and a commendable appreciation of the difficulty of carrying a wallet whilst riding, Councillor Ulrich suggested that many riders involved in accidents are without identification because “they’re in Spandex or whatnot.”

Left to me, the appropriate punishment for this young councillor would be to make him live a few weeks in Girona watching dozens of ‘spandex’ covered cyclists rove around practicing for, say, the Giro. Then make him live for 6 months in a city like Amsterdam or Copenhagen with his much loved cars occupying the roads in harmony with the thousands of cyclists.

Update: Another article on the road.cc website points to similar targeting of cyclists by lawmakers on US’ west coast. Seems like the lobbyists for car companies are already back in full flow. As for the points addressed in this second article, I’m split.

I support restrictions on using headphones/earphones while cycling as they tend to hamper ability to concentrate on traffic on road – whether automobiles or other cyclists. However, the same is also relevant in cases of pedestrians, specially joggers, using the headphones. While cycling on a shared path, I have been forced to stop plenty of times by a someone jogging in middle of the path oblivious to my approach behind him. Of course, they don’t hear my bells and trying to cycle past them is potentially dangerous for both of us. So, if safety is the only concern: do ban those headphones, but not just for cyclists – for everyone using shared paths or roads.

On the other issue – banning young children from bike trailers – I would just like to salute the incredulity of the statistic conjured up to support the ban: percent of riders biking to work at least three days a week have some sort of crash that leads to an injury. On first reading, it sounds acceptable. Now read it like this: If you ride your bike to work at least 3 days a week, sometime in the many years that you continue to ride, you are going to have a crash related injury. Yeah, right. I’m sure there’s a higher probability of some such injury if I walk to work 3 days a week for rest of my life – from some dog rushing at me to slipping on the ice to stumbling on an uneven pavement block. I think I should stop walking too, then. Not happening.

But then, in that country, given the state of that country’s public debates right now, anything can be pushed through under the guise of safety – either public’s or the nation’s. Won’t be too wrong then to pass a few cyclist-unfriendly laws as being for the safety of automobile-industry.

Continue reading “Number plates for cyclists”

Number plates for cyclists