Here’s my bike

Mybike

I’ve had my new bike for four weeks now, so I thought it was about time I took a photograph — though please do excuse the camera case perched on the seat and my gloves sitting on top of my bag!

As you can see she’s a lovely silver thing. I’ve swapped out the pedals for platform ones, added silver extra-light race blades and a black rear rack. I transferred the lock, lights and bike computer over from my old bike.

The bag I carry is an Altura Arran, which fits very snugly on the back and can hold a surprising amount of stuff: I’ve been known to fit two whole outfits plus my phone, wallet, digital camera etc in it. I keep a puncture repair kit, pump and spare front light in the top pocket — just in case — and the rear end sports a detachable red light, which I generally use in "flashing" mode to save on batteries.

Nice bike — but should I insure it?

Tonight I spied a fellow cyclist with exactly the same bike as mine.

"Hey, nice bike," I said as we sat side by side at the traffic lights.

"Oh, thanks," she beamed, completely oblivious to the fact I was also riding a Specialized Sports Sirrus.

I waited a beat to see if she would notice, before adding: "It’s the same as mine."

"Oh, it is! Snap!"

I laughed.

"Great bike," she enthused. "This is my third one."

"Third? Really?"

"Yep, the other two got stolen. So be careful, the thieves like these bikes too!"

And then the lights changed and she was off. And now I’m paranoid that someone’s going to nick my new baby, which makes me wonder, should I insure it? Sometimes I wish I didn’t start conversations I can’t finish!

What happened to hand signals?

Signals
This morning I had to cross a busy junction that has no traffic lights. I stopped to let a succession of cyclists to my right go past. Little did I know that ALL of them (seven in total) were making a lefthand turn into my road. Not one used a hand signal to let me know this, so I was sat there like a total plonker for no good reason. I was furious.

What happened to common courtesy? What happened to using a hand signal when initiating a turn? Do I look like a mind reader? Honestly!

I’m seriously thinking of getting a t-shirt made that reads A HAND SIGNAL WOULD BE NICE! But I’d probably be wasting my money…

Going the extra mile

When I rode home tonight I thought I would make the most of the spring-like weather (and the extra light now that it’s daylight savings) and go on a little diversion.

Instead of riding through Hyde Park I decided to go around the top of it, adding an extra mile to my usual commute.

It was very pleasant riding. The sun was low in the sky and was filtering through a fine mist, giving everything a faintly orange-pink glow.

I followed a dedicated cycle path skirting the North Ride. Riding through a field of longish grass studded with giant bare-branched plane trees, it was hard to believe I was in the middle of Europe’s largest city. I could almost convince myself I was out in the countryside somewhere — until the roar of a Porsche brought me back to reality.

All up, the diversion added less than 5 minutes to my journey. I think I might make it a semi-regular route: I could do with the extra exercise and the extra time on the bike. I couldn’t think of a better way to wind down after a hard day at work… (Well, I could, but it involves consuming vast quantities of alcohol, and that’s not what this blog is about!)

Busted!

There’s a first time for everything: this morning I saw two cyclists being booked for whizzing through a red light!

Foolishly, they did it right in front of a parked police car at the Trafalgar Square end of the Mall. Police regularly sit in this location, checking the speed of motorised traffic, and I have often seen them ignore the cyclists jumping the lights, because they’re too preoccupied with their hand-held speed guns.

This morning they must have been pretty bored though. When the cyclists whizzed through one policemen jumped out of the car and tried to flag them down, while the other turned on the blue light and gave a blast of the siren.

I bet those cyclists got the fright of their lives.

I only wish that police would watch the red lights along Kensington High Street, they’d have a field day booking all the cyclists that don’t understand that red means STOP not sneak-through-because-the-law-doesn’t-apply-to-me.

Cycling 10: Jeremy Riggs of Jezzers Jaw Jabberings

Jeremy Riggs’ blog, Jezzers Jaw Jabberings, is subtitled "Pointless blatherings on anything and nothing — mainly nothing". Yet as a fellow London cyclist I find that his cycling posts — especially this one — are particularly erudite and so I thought I’d subject him to the same terrible 10 questions I’ve asked other cycling bloggers over the past six weeks or so…

How long have you been commuting by bicycle, and what made you decide to do
it?

I’ve
only just returned to
commuting by bike in the New Year. I’d wanted to give it a go for
ages but decided to start when the company I work for joined the
Government-backed Cycle-To-Work scheme.  I used to ride to work when
living in Montserrat
in the Caribbean some years ago. Then I needed a mountain bike for the
journey,
as many of the roads were pretty rough and ready and steep. I still
have
my mountain bike and before signing up for the new bike made sure I
could get
up the worst hills on the way to work. 

One of the other incentives for
getting back on a bike was searching through the blogosphere and noticing how
many other people do it on a regular basis.

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