Friday, 29 October 2010

Wibble Wobble

Wibble wobble, jelly on a plate.

This is a cycle lane cut through in Ashton Moss. I can't imagine it really being of much use, since if you are cycling down this side of the road you are probably leaving Ashton and going down this route sends you to the side of Manchester road which is heading back into Ashton & vice-versa.

At least it's free of litter, leaves, broken glass and so on.

Can we have a nice wibbly segregated lane each side of every major trunk road now please? - those will actually get used a bit. Or if thats a bit expensive, maybe some boring straight ones.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Thinnest road in Manchester?

It's a smelly little cut through called Smithy Lane behind the Kendals multistorey car park. Probably the only double yellow lined side street in this area of Manchester where you won't find a flash car with a fake blue badge on dumped on it.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Manly DIY on a ladies bike (pt 5)

Before thinking about painting, the Hopper frame and mudguards needed a bit of work doing to them. The rear mudguard had a big split in it and was massively out of shape whilst the front one just needed reshaping to the 406 wheels. The frame needed the kickstand plate welding back on as the original welds had rusted through and it had snapped off when I tried to remove the kickstand. This same plate also holds the mudguard on.

I’ve never welded a single thing in my life and it’s about time I had a go. So my brother came over with his  MIG welder and we set about getting things ready.

This is where the plate snapped off.

Cutting the rusted bolt off the broken plate.
Old welds ground down.

Ready for welding

Some spot welds to hold it in place.

Feel free to laugh all you want my horrific piece of welding but bear in mind this is the first time I’ve even held a welding torch. Doesn't help that I couldn't see a thing through the welding mask.

An ugly weld looks the same as a neat weld when you’ve ground it down.

The mudguard was a different beast. The metal is very thin, so I didn’t risk doing this bit myself.   Here is what the split looked like after grinding off the paint.

During welding.

Ground down. Not perfect so we plopped a bit more weld on it and ground it down some more.

Both mudguards also needed widening to accommodate the fatter tyres on the 406 wheels. This was just done gently with pliers down the edges and a bit of hammering.

Now that the mudguards were wider the rear needed chamfering so that it would fit between the chainstays to bolt on to the newly welded kickstand plate.

Still all a work in progress. But here’s the rear wheel.

And the front wheel.

Welding is a very satisfying, as is all that grinding and cutting. I might have to find more excuses to do it in the future.

I wrote this post a few weeks ago and in the meantime I've aquired a couple of Triumph Stowaways (rebranded Raleigh Twenty) and I can see this bike getting neglected in favour of those, but they will all be sorted eventually.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The upright shall inherit the earth!

You have to have your wits about you when walking in the city centre. If it’s not chuggers, surveys, leaflets or the big issue it’ll be someone else determined to release the moths from my wallet. Luckily my blank expression resembles a scowl which generally keeps them at bay. Unfortunately for a colleague of mine a ninja-like force in the fight against evil has begun to prowl the streets of Manchester in search of unsuspecting mugs who haven’t learnt the politest thing to do is to tell them to bugger off (except the big issue guys, I'm generally nice to them).

So I present to you the prophecy that ‘all Suffering’ is ‘SOON TO END!’ (as long as you become a Jehova’s witness).

The illustration is just fantastic. Not a car in sight, although no bicycles either but there is a horse. And a moose. And don’t forget all those pumpkins, apples and poppies. Poppies = opium, which could explain alot. Strangely it seems to be both autumn and summer at the same time.

The interesting bit is that although the Jehova’s seem to be a little behind  the times with the general drift of cutting edge marketing techniques, they are right on the money when it comes to cycling. Who will survive when the end comes?, why it’s going to be the upright cyclists of course!. Those wicked car drivers will be ‘cut off from the very earth’ and those who have learnt of the upright will have everlasting life (or at least an expectancy of 2 years more than average). ‘the world is passing away’ car drivers, time to give up sitting in a queue and get some fresh air.
.....Or maybe they’ve just been making too much use of those poppy seeds.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Hat Weather

Being a huge statue on top of a pretty high stone plinth is rather dangerous and frankly it's a health & safety nightmare, especially with all those cyclists racing around nearby on that cycle path over to the right there. It's also bloody cold this morning. So that's why some kind & sensible folk have done a good turn and provided King Ed with a snazzy new plastic hat. Not only is he now entirely safe from all possible dangers but it should keep the chill off his bald patch on mornings like this.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The crap side to cycling in Llandudno

As promised here is the crap side of cycling in Llandudno. As with many seaside resorts cycling is banned on it's promenade. According to Gogarth ward councillor Margaret Lyon cyclists are a ‘Danger’ to pedestrians. It’s unfortunate that she doesn’t realise she is talking complete bollocks. 

The promenade is very wide and only rarely gets crowded at the pier end, even on a busy summer weekend. The rest of the stretch is spacious, flat and smooth and could easily accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians without any problems. The Parade is the road which runs alongside the seafront promenade. Its busy, has lots of pinch points at crossings, has parked cars and coaches on both sides of the road and is generally about as nightmarish as you could hope for in a crap British seaside road. Anyone with a shred of common sense will just get off that road and go down the Promenade and enjoy the view, but you can’t, because it’s banned.

For some god knows why reason it had been suggested that the flower beds be removed in order to accommodate a cycle lane along the promenade. This was probably suggested by someone who most definitely didn’t want any kind of cycling on the promenade – why?, because it’s a stupid idea, guaranteed to get residents up in arms and foaming from the mouth. There isn’t a need for a ‘lane’ of any kind, simply taking down the no cycling signs and providing access at a few well chosen spots would be enough.

A local resident called Mike Pritchard was the spokesman for ‘Save our Promenade’ (probably a loud mouthed one man band) who seemed to think a ‘cycle track’ (interesting choice of words there) on the promenade would result in some kind unimaginable apocalypse.  Instead the final result is that cycling is still banned on the promenade and cyclists are expected to take Maesdu Road to get to the West shore. In the process making use of wonderfully crap cycle facilities like this dropped kerb and shared pavement in order to cross the busy A470 roundabout. 

Anyone fancy braking to slow for the tiny dropped kerb with it's well positioned railing whilst you've got a white van man up your arse?
More detail here, here and here if you want to read about it.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Fallowfield Loop Barrier

At some point over the weekend a new piece of barrier has been installed here on the Fallowfield Loop (it's the brown upright section on the left). Previously it had been just a stump holding up the end of the barrier, which people would navigate around, hence the worn ground. This new section means you now have no choice but to shuffle awkwardly through the opening on the right - I prefer the other barriers either side of this one which allow you to simply cycle through slowly with little hassle, it's a shame this one (and some others) is different.

*Update for Mr.C.
Or you could follow the vandals example and bust the lock. This was a few weeks ago. Was nice while it lasted!.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Frosty morning = no bikes

Normally this rack outside Tesco on Deansgate is ramjam full. Just a tiny bit of frost this morning and it's empty!, just one lone bike locked to the lamppost nearby.

My general extrapolation is:

  1. No segregated cycle paths therefore Vehicular cycling.
  2. Vehicular cycling is shit therefore specialist clothing gets worn.
  3. Specialist clothing is shit in the cold therefore frost = no bikes.
Thanks to mudguards & chainguard I was nice and warm in trousers, padded raincoat, gloves and scarf, shame these cyclists couldn't do the same. But thats why Vehicular cycling is so shit.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Cycle response unit

I've finally spotted one of the Manchester cycle ambulances when I had my camera handy. Unfortunately it's not a spectular shot of the rider in action, but nevermind. This is in the city health centre in Boots. There are a few different bikes, if you believe this old press release here there are 5 bikes and 10 paramedics manning them. 

Monday, 18 October 2010

Great Orme - Llandudno

We stayed in Llandudno last weekend so I stuck the Brompton in the boot of the c*r and took it with us. A full loop of the Great Orme is roughly 9km. Most of that is on the toll road which is a one way road around the coast on one side and slightly inland on the other. It’s free for bicycles, so you can spend all day going round and round it if you feel like it. There is a café at the top of the biggest bit of climbing and you can also take a diversion towards the summit station if you fancy a bit more climbing.

Some fantastic views on the way up. It’s not a difficult climb, although my legs and the brompton are obviously more used to cycling than some of the tired looking folks I passed on the way up.

On the way up there are a few dramatic overhangs like this one. The area is quite popular for climbers, but they mostly stick to bouldering away from the road.

There is a Hotel near the top of the climb which was originally built as a lighthouse. The café is just a little further in this view.

Here’s the lighthouse closer up.

It’s reasonably flat around the top. You can see here how high the climb is, having started at sea level.

Nice view from this spot just before the decent starts.

Someone had tried to get his money’s worth from the £2.50 toll and managed to make a complete dick of himself. Bits of car front end, wing mirrors etc were strewn down the slope behind the wall.

This is why the decent is so great, it twists and curls nicely and you know there won’t be anyone coming in the opposite direction.

The whole route around the toll road have distance markers painted on the kerbing.

Here’s the second toll house at the end of the route on the West shore. Then head back round to do it all again :-D

The Orme is fantastic to cycle round, it’s a bit like a bicycle rollercoaster, you tick tick your way up the hill on one side enjoying the scenery, go flying down the other side with a massive grin then head back to the start to have another go. This is a great thing about Llandudno and cycling, there is a crap side though, but I’ll post some photos of that later.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Hyde Rd pothole (one of many)

Potholes are mostly just annoying, but occasionally you across a right bastard. This one has gotten really bad in the last couple of weeks. Get things wrong and ride over that chasm to the right of the grid and you'll be saying hello to the tarmac with your face. I’ve reported this using a service provided by the CTC. If you search around the map on there you can see the little green flags mean a pothole that has been fixed, blue is unfixed (which is most of them for Manchester) and red is newly reported ones, each one provides a history of when it was reported and to who. It’s a quick and easy process to fill in the form and upload an image if you have one. 

I once had a blowout on a front tyre of my car from a pothole a few weeks more advanced than this, so they are not a walk in the park for car drivers either. Let’s see how long it takes to get fixed (that should say ‘fixed again’ – since you can see it has been patched previously), I won't be holding my breath though.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Cycle Lane closed....badly

There is a patch of roadworks on Princess St near the end of Canal St, so they have closed the cycle lane. Fair enough I suppose, since it’s left only a single lane available. The problem is the pathetic excuse for a sign, plonked along with a cone right at the point where the space tightens rapidly. Nobody is going to dismount, if they wanted to walk they would have left their bikes at home. Besides they are entitled to the road just as much as any other vehicle. The sign should be 20 yards back and say ‘ Cycle lane closed – cyclists TAKE LANE’. That way everyone is within the law, everyone gets on with it and nobody gets squashed by cars suddenly swerving left.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Evans cycle parking

The new sign says 'Customer Bike Parking' as if they have some nice new facility installed somewhere....

....but all I can see is the same old hand rail that's always been I missing something?

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Hebie Chainglider (Nexus Part 7)

I've owned a Hebie chainglider for a few weeks now, but have only just managed to fit it last weekend.  Now it's on, it's amazing, but getting the thing fitted has been a complete pain in the arse.

First of all SJS Cycles (and many other stockists) sell the chainglider in two formats. One size fits 38 tooth chainrings, the other is supposed to fit both 42 & 44 tooth chainrings, which is the one I bought. Except this product fitting onto a 44 tooth ring is just a lie. It simply doesnt fit and I suspect the people out there that complain of excessive drag from a chainglider have been duped by this same situation and have forced their chainglider onto a chainring that is too big for it.

It took me a while to decide that it's not me going crazy or being simple and not understanding how it's supposed to fit, but that it simply doesn't fit anything other than a 42.

It's not Hebie's fault, looking closer at their website, the chainglider fits only distinct seperate rings and they don't state otherwise.There is no version that fits both 42 & 44. The one I got had 350 42 stamped on the back -i'ts been designed for a 42 tooth ring - nothing else. Who knows why the stockists they sell it as anything else. (except Velorution who seem to market it properly - I should've bought it from there)

So ok, nevermind. It just means I had to get a 42 tooth ring instead. So I ordered one from a seller on ebay and they sent me a chainring for a tandem!. So that went back for a refund and I got a Stronglight chainset from another seller instead. There are cheaper options available than a Stronglight, but they have the chainring bolted on, whereas the Stronglights are a lovely minimalist piece of kit that is certain to work inside the chainglider.

Here is the bike with 42 ring fitted and chainglider.
The next problem is that the chainglider is designed to fit a variety of sized frames and wheeled bikes. There is plenty of adjustment range on the back, but it was just too long to fit on my 26" wheel bike. So I had to chop some off.

I cut just enough off for it to work without fouling on the rear sprocket teeth.

Once that was done it was very straight forward and easy to fit, everything just clips into place. The plastic it's made from is pretty flexible soft feeling stuff, but it does feel solid and durable at the same time. Getting the inside section that covers the rear sprocket is a tiny bit tricky as it has to go behind the nexus hub gear cassette joint then the back section slides over and clicks into place on four little studs.

There is a demonstration video on the Hebie website to show you how to fit it. That shows the newest model, it has a fancier clipping system than mine which must have come from existing stock of the older design.

Here it is fully fitted.

I'm suprised just how silent and drag free it actually is (i.e. barely any difference from before). I gave the chain a good spray of chainlube before and after fitting. More than I would normally use on an open chain but certainly not a huge amount. Now the whole rigmoral is over I'd definately recommended the chainglider to anyone wanting to fully enclose their chain. But I would say that you need to be prepared to do some of your own work. I'm sure in some cases you can just fit it straight out of the box, but I'd imagine that anything with 26" wheels will require a little chopping, as I've done.

There isn't much info available about the kinds of problems I've encountered with fitting the chainglider, just a few complaints from people who I would guess have tried fitting it to chainrings that are too large or have not done some trimming to make it fit the rear sprocket. So hopefully this post can help anyone thinking of getting a chainglider, because it really does seem like a decent piece of kit to me.

An added bonus is that the hub seems to be running nicer with a 42 chainring. 42/20 is exactly on the 2.1 ratio that Shimano recommend you keep as close to as possible and it's noticeable how the change either side of 4th has improved a bit.

**Small update after 3 months use**
The chainglider is still performing brilliantly through rain, sun & snow. It's there to be forgotten about and quietly gets on with its job. 

I had been giving the chain a quick spray of chainlube through the little hole on the top every so often until a few weeks back when I noticed the chainglider was skipping occasionally on the way home. After taking it off to have a look I could see the chain was pretty dry so I've come to the conclusion that whereas the spraylube it great on open chains it's not the right stuff for inside the chainglider.- Obvious in hindsight, but the spraylube had impressed me so much on my open chains that it was just the first thing I reached for when I put  the chainglider together.

If you think about it, one of the benefits of having the chain completely enclosed is that you can have it bathed in copious amounts of oil without worrying about it going all over your trousers. So I put it back together with plenty of oil on the chain and plenty on the inside of the glider's parts. Then rotated the cranks a few times whilst pouring yet more into the oiling port.

It's now running seriously smooth & I wish I'd just done this right from the start. There was a little bit of excess made its way out of the rear section the next day, but hardly any really.

All in all an excellent piece of kit that lets you just use the bike for everyday transport.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Life's a Beach

I've just found this forgotten photograph from Scarborough (actually Filey beach). The guy seemed to be cycling the whole distance along the beach on his MTB. Not sure why he needed high-viz to do this but you never know when an angry motorist might sneak up on you and smidsy your ass.

Seeing a photo of a warm and sunny beach has made me realise just how cold and dark it has gotten over the last two weeks. Pretty soon I'll be commuting in the dark each way.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Crossing the Mancunian Way

The other day I had an excuse to cycle during work hours as I needed to get from the City centre to the Whalley Range area. The obvious route would be to have gone down Medlock Street and crossed the roundabout to then use the cycle route beside Princess Road, but that would mean navigating the frankly horrible looking roundabout underneath the Mancunian Way (see the roundabout to the right of the googlemap below). I'm fine with that and don't get phased at all by the prospect of crossing a multilane roundabout on a bike and I did quite fancy seeing what the Princess Road cyclepath had to offer.

However thats when I noticed the curved bridge over the top of the Mancunian Way that you can see circled on the googlemap. When you are down in the real world rather than flying around on Googlemaps its really difficult to know that something like this exists. A cyclist would pedal up Medlock St and find themselves with a choice of crossing the giant roundabout or trying to navigate the underground tunnels, neither are great options, when the whole time there is a fantastic facility in the form of this bridge hidden away off down a side street. It is actually part of route 6 of the national cycle network, but thats not much help for Joe Bloggs on his bike who doesnt have a full set of maps and google in his back pocket (fancy phones don't count).

Ok everyone knows and accepts that the cycling infrastructure in this country is generally a bit dreadful, but occasionally there is a gem, and this felt like one of them. The problem is connecting up the dots so that facilities like this form an enjoyable route from A2B (wherever your A and B are). The 'superhighways' in London have had alot of stick, and yes they are pathetic compared to even a basic Dutch cyclepath, but I guess at least they provide a big blue line to follow easily and make best use of the existing facilities.(I'm not exonerating them, they are still pathetic)

At present the only thing on Medlock St that might give you a clue of this Bridge existing is a tiny blue sign on a lampost. Take a look  at the Streetview image, can you spot the sign?. Say you are cycling along here for the first time, your attention is on the cyclelane and the road around you. 4 out of 5 times you are going to miss this sign and carry on up the cycelane (which just ends at a bus stop anyway) and straight onto the big roundabout.

Anyway here's a few shots of the bridge in all of it's completely non-roundabout pleasantness.
A view of the traffic you have just avoided coming into contact with

I'm not sure if this is a 'crap cycling' post, or a good one. The bridge itself is excellent and at least theres no CYCLISTS DISMOUNT signs present. The crap bit its that its effectively hidden away from all but those in the know.