Bank Holiday commuting

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It was a Bank Holiday Monday here in England today but there was no rest for the wicked — I had to go to work as per normal, because the printing press stops for no one!

Fortunately, the best thing about going to work on a Bank Holiday is the lack of traffic on the road. When I cycled in at 9am there was nary a car or a bus or a taxi on the road. As a result I shaved more than 5 minutes off my usual commuting time, and that was without really trying.

Coming home at the other end of the day was slightly busier (see the photograph above of traffic queueing to go around Parliament Square at about 7.30pm), but it was still pretty quiet.

The only grief I had was caused by another cyclist, who cut in front of me at the lights, then took off at a snail's pace, cut me up a bit more, then proceeded to turn left without signalling. I gave him a piece of my mind — well, I rather sarcastically shouted, Thanks for the hand signals!

Total distance: 12.41miles (19.96km) | Ride time: 1hr, 07min and 01sec | Average speed: 11.1mph | Top speed: 19.2mph

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A month of cycling: 100 miles, a broken computer, a service and a chest cold

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I'm not sure where August has gone. The month has whizzed by — and I'm ashamed to admit that my cycling mojo has been slightly on the wane. On average, I have only been cycling twice a week and last week I did not cycle at all. But that's largely due to a hectic social calendar (I don't cycle in when I'm going out after work), rotten weather (look at those clouds in the photograph above) and a horrible chest cold that is still lingering almost 10 days after I caught it.

In fact, I think I came down with the cold after cycling in the world's greatest downpour on Thursday August 18. It didn't help that I had a sore throat when I got on the bike, but by the time I'd struggled home six-and-a-half miles in the wettest conditions I've seen in quite some time I was slightly feverish. A hot shower, a change of clothes and a mug of tea made me feel a little better, but by bed time I wasn't in a good way.

Other events that happened this month:

★ My bike computer broke — well, the mechanism that reads the wheel's movement and "beams" it wirelessly to the computer on my handlebars stopped working. I think I knocked it taking my bike lock off one evening. I then rode home without any figures being registered. And then, when I was taking the bike out of the lift, the mechanism fell off — luckily I heard it hit the ground so was able to rescue it. I had to get my Other Half to reinstall it for me. Thanks, T.

★ I got my bike serviced. I took it to the London Bicycle Repair Shop in Southwark, which I've used before: it's cheaper than Evans and the service is definitely more personalised and quick. No need to book your bike in about six months in advance, you simply turn up before 10am and they'll have it ready for you by 6pm. It cost me £82 all up: £58 for labour, £15 for a new chain, £3 for a new gear cable and £6 for new brake blocks. That's about the equivalent of a one-month ticket on the tube, so I better claw back the cost by cycling as much as I can in September!

Total distance: 99.56miles (160.2km) | Ride time: 8hr, 59min and 16sec | Average speed: 10.9mph | Top speed: 20.4mph

Product review: Polaroid sunglasses — Contender P7121B

One of the key pieces of kit for any regular cyclist — whether of the sporting, commuting or leisure variety — is protective eye-wear.

In the past I have struggled to find a pair of sunglasses suitable for cycling. My day-to-day Ray-Ban sunglasses might look good, but they tend to slip off my face when I get sweaty. And there's nothing worse than cycling along one-handed while you use the other hand to push your eye-wear off your top lip and back onto your nose!

I also find my Ray-Bans aren't suitable for high-glare conditions, and sometimes, if I'm cycling in dark shade it's almost impossible to see through the lenses.

I often can't be bothered with the hassle, so tend to cycle without eye protection. As a result I've lost count of the number of times I've had insects fly into them — ouch! And god knows I have struggled with that horrible "hairy" pollen that falls from the London plane trees every May, resulting in red, itchy eyes. And dare I mention the odd bit of gravel that has flicked up and caused me to duck, lest it land in my eye?

But then I discovered it doesn't have to be this way. Polaroid has produced some cycle-friendly sunglasses which sit snugly on the face — their Contender P7121B model also offers interchangeable polarised lenses, so you can select the lenses to suit your cycling conditions.

I've spent the past six weeks wearing the sunglasses during my daily commute and here's what I think of them.

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What I like about the sunglasses

  • They fit snugly and wrap right around the face without marking my skin or creating sore pressure points on the bridge of my nose or top of my ears — they do not slip, even under the most sweaty of conditions!
  • They are light weight — I often forget that I am wearing them after having parked my bike up, because they are so light
  • The interchangeable lenses mean you can change the lenses to suit the weather conditions: dark grey lenses for bright, sunny conditions; amber lenses for high glare conditions; and clear lenses for low light conditions. 
  • The lenses offer 100 per cent UV400 protection so I know my eyes are being properly protected from the sun's most damaging rays — I'm fussy about the kind and type of UV light that sunglasses filter, which is why I generally buy expensive high-quality sunglasses for fashion wear.
  • The lenses are polarised, which means they offer glare-free vision — no more squinting and being unable to see a thing in front of me!
  • They come with a lightweight case — and a cleaning cloth — to store the lenses and frames together.

What I don't like

  • The amber and clear lenses, coupled with the black frame, aren't particularly flattering — they look a bit like you're about to do some spot-welding! (The grey lenses, by comparison, look pretty rock'n'roll.) I certainly wouldn't wear these sunglasses out-and-about — they look too "sporty" for normal fashion wear.
  • The frame might be lightweight, but when changing the lenses I've been worried that I might accidentally snap something by mistake. It feels just a little too flexible.
  • It would be helpful if the glasses came with a material bag so that when out cycling you didn't have to take the whole case with you — you could simply pop the glasses in a bag and tuck them away when not needed.

Overall opinion

I love these sunglasses! I love the way they fit, I love the interchangeable lenses and I love the glare-free vision they offer. But their styling could be made a little more under-stated and subtle — that way I might wear them just as much off the bike as I do on the bike.

Where can you buy a pair?

You can buy Contender P7121B sunglasses for £89 direct from Polaroidsunglasses.co.uk and other leading retailers.

My sunglasses were supplied to me for review purposes by Polaroid. This is the second set I tried. The first were faulty, but the firm were efficient in ensuring a replacement was dispatched to me promptly.

Sneek peek of August’s cycle blog rankings

Here we go again — it's time to reveal who's where in this month's UK cycling blog rankings:

1 London Cyclist Blog
2 i b i k e l o n d o n
3 Quickrelease.tv
4 London Cycling Diary
5 Ride UK BMX
6 Cyclists in the City
7 wiggle blog
8 Ride Earth – Tom's World Bicycle Travel Blog
9 Gordon Valentine's blog
10 Blike – Cycling – Mirror.co.uk
11 apsykes.com
12 London Cycle Chic
13 Tredz Blog
14 Moving Target
15 Velorution
16 Dunks Blog!
17 Fixed Gear London's Weblog
18 Southsea Fixed Gear Fight Club
19 Cycling Info
20 Biking Brits

Ranking made by Wikio