Monday, December 29, 2008

Woolworths Christmas Eve 2008

Woolworths Christmas Eve 2008, originally uploaded by mike1727.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bike recycling

Superposition, originally uploaded by annyia.

I'm looking for a hack bike for the winter since I don't have a bike which takes mudguards. I have little or no money to spend on this..

Ideally I'd like to build up or removate an old bike, preferably at a bike recycling scheme. Does anyone know if there are any in Hertfordshire?

Alternatively if you've got a small framed road bike to give away/sell very cheaply please get in touch.

St Albans Cycle Campaign public meeting

stacc meeting flier, originally uploaded by mike1727.

Come along and see what's heppening in bike campaigning in St Albans. Mulled wine and mince pies usually end up being served.

You don't have to be a member to come, just turn up.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sports tracker mobile interface: GPS

If you've got a Nokia N series phone with a GPS (or, I think, any S60 3rd edition phone with a GPS) you should give this a try. The app is free from Nokia.
The app calculates speed on the fly and maps it against distance travelled and workout time- it does the same for alititude too. You can then upload this data to the Nokia site where it's mapped, or export in a number of formats, including google earth. Which is nice, or will be when I get round to doing it. If you take photos you can upload them to the Nokia site too, and you can plot your progress to the site live if you want.

I map routes on GIS sometimes.

I've been using the app for a couple of months now and it's generally pretty good. It does miss a few data points- one commute route varies by up to half a mile sometimes, and speed and altitude sometime go titsup too.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Bicycling idioms: Pedalling in semolina

"P├ędaler dans la semoule." from Clocolate and zucchini:

The literal translation is "pedaling in semolina," and it means being entangled in a thorny situation, with the added notion that every effort made to get out of it is fruitless, or makes things worse. In short, being confused and overwhelmed, or being in over one's head.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Drunken cabbie guilty of killing cyclist (From St Albans & Harpenden Review)

Justice, of a kind- if a seven year sentence, presumably reduced for parole, compensates for killing someone.

Drunken cabbie guilty of killing cyclist (From St Albans & Harpenden Review)

A DRUNKEN taxi driver who killed a cyclist two hours after telling a work colleague he was ‘totally smashed’ has been jailed for seven years.

Simon Gatier, 41, of Salisbury Gardens, Welwyn Garden City, was found guilty of causing the death of Neil Smith by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs. St Albans Crown Court heard how on November 30 last year Gatier fled the accident scene, leaving three teenage boys to comfort the 43-year-old victim, who lived in Welwyn Garden City and worked at St Albans City Hospital.

Gatier, who has a previous conviction for drink-driving, lay low for three days before handing himself into police.

Judge John Plumstead said that by driving off Gatier had “behaved in a callous way and showed no remorse.”


“He was highly thought of at St Albans hospital and they have named a corner of a garden there after him. He was sober and was smashed into as he went along the yellow lines of the road - dressed as brightly as he could be with his lights on.”

The judge went on to describe Gatier as a "thoughtless, cowardly man who was driving too quickly" in the circumstances of a wet road at night.

First land access at Sandridge forest

Good news about land access in the soon-to-be-planted foreast at Sandridge.

Now what's needed are some more rights of way to ride on, I'm assuming pedestrians can access all of the new area. It's about time someone talked to the Woodland Trust about MTB access...


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Turbo training season has begun

Autumn's here and with it the waning of the light, so evening rides are going out of the window, to be replaced by nights in front of the TV..

I'm aiming to increase my daily commute riding up to about 1 hour 30 3 days a week using the turbo for 50ish minutes in the evening, trying to find a beginner's training guide and stick to it.

Boredom is the issue on a turbo so I'm loading up my phone with podcasts- Podrunner is good music with podcasts at certain BPMs and intervals too. My own intervals can wait for a bit. Last night's training left me with tirde legs today.

Friday, September 19, 2008

citycycling .how to... build a useable bike path

citycycling .how to... build a useable bike path

The first few paragraphs look normal, read the rest. An admirable look at designing bike lanes from the good peeps at ctycycling.

"In considering the requirements surrounding the installation of cycle paths and cyclane lanes this official guide has been produced as an aid to the process to ensure that best practice is used in all such installations. And when constructing such traffic safety measures it must always be kept in mind the over-riding principle involved: the impact on other road users and pedestrians must be considered and take priority.
The first thing to consider is whether a particular road requires the measures to be implemented. Where a road is very busy this clearly represents a danger to the cyclist and a dashed line to the side of the road will increase their safety level by a level of 56%. The width of the road must be looked at in determining the viability of this. If the road is very wide, and already accommodates cyclists, this shows that the route will be used by lots of cyclists and so the cycle lane is desirable."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

coming to the winning line...Nicole Cooke takes GOLD!!!

First gold- cycling!

BBC coverage here

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Trees on the horizon

tree, sunbeams, originally uploaded by mike1727.

The Woodland Trust is raising £8.5 million to plant and maintain Britain's largest first of native trees in Sandridge, just up the road from home. It's a great scheme- even if the appeal is a bit late- and will link up many areas of established woodland. I ride through the area pretty much every day, it'll be great to see it develop, and possibly get involved in some of the planting too- we've got an oak tree growing in the garden with nowhere else to go..

Access rights for the public are going to be essential. There are some of rights of way around but few linked up bridleways, so now's the chance to get in and try to get some good routes for all users.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sky to sponsor British Cycling

Despite Cavendish's headlinable sucess on the Tour (and shortly at the Olympics), along with medal winning from the British Cycling team at the worlds (and shortly at the Olympics..) cycling doesn't the mainstream press coverage it deserves in the UK. That's probably something do do with it being UK sportspeople competing in a non-football event.

As of today, Sky became the 'Principal Partner' for British cycling, from Olympics to the grass roots in all disiplines. Sky is also sponsoring the London "Freewheel' event on September 21st- a mass ride from 38,000 people on closed roads in the centre of London.

Media sponsorship is good news when seen against the wider scene of Sustrans connect2 scheme providing high profile cycing facilities, ongoing resurgence of the Tour of Britain (in London 7th September), infrstructure building in Cycle Demonstration Towns and a stack of other activities going on. says:

"Every level of the sport is set to benefit from the investment, from the Elite Team of World, Olympic and Paralympic cyclists to British Cycling’s talent development programmes and grass-roots initiatives in schools and local communities. The partnership will cover all forms of the competitive sport from BMX to track cycling and road racing, with the aim of bringing on the elite teams and accelerating the development of emerging talent.

The partnership also aims to build on Britain’s love of cycling with participation programmes in schools, youth clubs and the wider community to encourage everyone to get cycling. In addition to its financial investment, Sky will use its marketing expertise and relationships with one in three families across the UK to help British Cycling to encourage participation in cycling for sport and leisure among people of all ages and abilities. "

Friday, July 18, 2008

..he continues

Cavendish takes stage 13.
Number 4.

It's uphill towards the Alps tomorrow, so a cav win is pretty unlikely. Will he hold on through the Alps in order to to go for the fifth win on the Champs Elysee?

WIll he ride the tour of Britain in September?

Thursday, July 17, 2008


TDF-2008-FRA-CYCLING-SPRINT, originally uploaded by mpmcgaughey.

Impossible to say anything else- go Cav go!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Mark Cavendish, originally uploaded by SPVW.

A Brit with a second stage?

I didn't see it, and I missed watching the highlights, though I'll be watching then later.

But, wft? This isn't meant to happen. Not in road cycling.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

GO CAV! (Allex le Rosbif!)

Tour2008_Day5_18, originally uploaded by sean's jawns.

Atfer frustration in last year's Tour and near misses this year team Columbia propelled Mark Cavenish to the stage win. It was a classic sprint finish- all members of the team at the front of the peloton, dragging the breakaway back and launching Cav towards victory. It was a well-deserved win from a rider making his way up through the sprinterati, let's just hope he doesn't let it go to his head.

Team Columbia, ex High Road, ex T-Mobile. Shame we lost the sponsorship, otherwise today would be party time at work.

With three riders in the top 10, Bob Stapleton's prediction of a high performance team in January last year was just right.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Armchair tour de France

Tour de France Land Art, originally uploaded by Anduze traveller.

ITV 4 is doing a good job with Tour de France coverage this year, and expanding into covering the Tours of Britain and Ireland in late summer/autumn. TDF coverage is the time-honoured 7pm-8pm highlights spot, combined with weekend live coverage. If you've got Sky or Virgin cable you can click through to live coverage using the red button.

Beyond race coverage, ITV are showing some cycling related material too. After the highlights program on the opening day they showed a documentary about a British competitor in the Race accross America, followed by The Science of Larnce Armstrong the other night and Chris Boardman's 'The Hour' coming an a week or so. A year's worth of normal terrestial TV cycling coverage in a month..

Monday, July 07, 2008

St. Albans Grand Prix - 2008

St. Albans Grand Prix - 2008, originally uploaded by Jason Means.

That's St Albans, West Virginia.

I want to move.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The curve of courtesy

citycycling has a good piece this issue, writing about the differences in overtaking behaviour driven by traffic conditions/roadspeed and the blissful effect of dropping traffic volumes caused by school holidays, which are soon to be upon us.
In general, drivers lighten up a bit during summer holidays, giving cyclists and pedestrians a bit more space in urban areas, but put in the country lanes- or anywhere where traffic conditions are really light and there aren't many cyclists (some) drivers still drive like arseholes.
Read the article- and citycycling.

Back on the road

I'm two weeks into my return to cycling. My legs are tired and I've covered maybe 60-70 miles this week with bugger all weight loss- though there may be signs that muscles are slowly firming. Oh well, things are going to take time I expect now I'm past 40- the age at which returning to fitness and losing weight see to take longer than previosly experienced.

Riding's ok; country lanes around here are good to ride, but the hills- such as they are- have me reaching for the lowest gears, especially the steepish hill out of Wheathampstead and the little steep bastard at Waterend (where I got a rest fixing a puncture last week) have me reaching for the granny gear. Still, at least this week I've started using the big chainring on the flat, having forsworn it last week in an attempt not to cripple myself. More of the same next week, 10-15 miles on the way home in just under an hour at a nice slow pace, then starting to throw in a few lunchtime rides the week after. Sadly my heart rate monitor is still knackered so no stats as yet.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Variations on a theme

The first from a comment on , the second from Sam's blog way way back. Melded together the'd work better. I'll get round to it sometime.

Ladies and gentleman, doing the commute of '08 : Ride a bicycle!

If I could offer you only one tip for the future; cycling would be it. The long term benefits of bikes have been proven by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering rides.I will dispense this advice now...

Enjoy the power and beauty of your bike
Oh, never mind.
You'll not understand the power and beauty of your bike until you've stopped riding it, but trust me, in twenty years you'll look back at photos of yourself you'll recall in a way you can't grasp now how much fitter and how fabulous you really looked.

You were faster than you remember.

Worry about the future.
Worry, but know that just worrying is about as effective as trying to solve climate change by driving a 4x4 in town.

The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind.The kind that side swipes you at 5:30 on the homebound commute.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Don't be reckless at traffic lights and junctions.
Don't put up with drivers who are reckless with you.


Don't waste your time on traffic jams: sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind.
The ride is long and in the end its only with yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive; forget the Congestion Charge.
When you succeed in doing this, tell EVERYONE.

Patch your old inner tubes, recycle your old tires.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what bike to ride, the most interesting people I know didn't know at 7am what they wanted to do with their commute. Some of the most interesting 40 year old's I know just get out and ride.

Take plenty to drink.

Be kind to your knees, you'll miss them when they're gone – so don't ride singlespeed.

Maybe you'll race, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll go touring, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll ride off road at 45, maybe you'll ride a velodrome 'Taster' on your Stag Night.

Whatever you do don't congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either. Your safety is THE priority, so is everybody else's.

Enjoy your bike, use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or what other people think of it.It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Turbo-train, even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room.

Read the Sustrans directions, even if you don't follow them. Do not read cycling magazines, they will only make you go buy another bike.

Get to know your byways, you never know when they'll be gone for good.

Be nice to your brakes,they're your best friend on the road, and the item most likely to save you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with practice they too could ride to work.

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and cycling style.

The older you get the more you need gears and the lungs you had when you were young.

Ride in London once,but leave before it makes you hard. Ride in northern England once,but leave before it makes you live there.


Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise,tires will puncture.

You too will get old and when you do you'll fantasize that when you were young bicycle were reasonable, tires never punctured and it never rained on long rides.

Respect old Hillclimbers, don't expect anyone else to tow you.

Maybe you'll have a road bike.Maybe you'll have a hybrid.But you never know when either one might need maintenance.Don't mess too much with gear indexing or when you are due a chain, you'll need rings as well.

Be careful whose lube you buy,but be patient with those who supply it.

LBS's are a form of nostalgia dispensing things from an Aladdin's Cave- wiping off the muck & fixing the tired components.Ebay just recycles them for more than they are worth.

But trust me - on the riding!


Ladies and gentlemen of the community of cyclists... wear lycra.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, lycra would be it. The long-term benefits of lycra have been proved by professional cyclists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.

You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about converting the drivers. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by ingesting a packet of Gu. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on your Tuesday commute.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's bikes. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on stoplight sprints. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old PowerLinks. Throw away your old PowerBars.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know where you want to go on your ride. The most interesting people I know didn't know at two miles where they wanted to go on their rides. Some of the most interesting 40 mile rides I know still don't go anywhere.

Get plenty of carbohydrates. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll mountain bike, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have a fixed gear, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have to push a 39, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your your pedals like Lance Armstrong climbing L'Alpe D'Huez.

Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your bike. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument ever invented.


Even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the cue sheet, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read bicycling magazines. They will only give you upgrade fever.

Get to know your bike shops. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your mechanics. They're your best link to a smooth drivetrain and the people most likely to fix it when it starts to grind.

Understand that riders come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on.

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the better you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were a newbie.

Bike in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.
Bike in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths: Hills will rise. Pacelines will splinter.

You, too, will get tired. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were fresh, hills were reasonable, pacelines stayed intact and cyclists respected their drafts.

Respect your drafts.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a windless route. Maybe you'll have a friend willing to pull. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you take off your helmet it will look like you were a band member from the early 1980s.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the lycra

Thursday, June 05, 2008

This is why I haven't posted for a while

Profile., originally uploaded by mike1727.

I had a stroke on January 19th. Nothing too radical-I have no mental or physical consquences- but it was a hell of a shock.

I'm now back at work, so no harm done in the long term.

Don't you just hate it when

Someone else does work that you got hauled off once you've made some useful pre-studies...

Mobile phones expose human habits
By Jonathan Fildes Science and technology reporter, BBC News

People's movements were not as random as predicted
The whereabouts of more than 100,000 mobile phone users have been tracked in an attempt to build a comprehensive picture of human movements.

BBC news story

"It would be wonderful if every [mobile] carrier could give universities access to their data because it's so rich," said Dr Marta Gonzalez of Northeastern University, Boston, US, and one of the authors of the paper.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

The harvest.

The harvest., originally uploaded by mike1727.

Christmas brought with it once again about a cubic meter's worth of assorted childrens' toys, which all needed to be found a home somewhere in the already-bulging cupboards. This year the 'finding space' activity (think of it as a storage space defrag) included a foray into a previously-untouched cupboard, viz my odds and ends repository. Lurink therin was a very old digicam (750kilopixels, wow)which I picked up years ago. It's too old to be worth using, so I pulled it apart for Pat's collection of laser optics.

A very satisfying job, it's not often I get the chance for some wanton destruction..