A bike fairy is born

They say ‘when a bike is stolen, a fairy dies’; so I’d like to think that when you give a bike to someone ‘a fairy is born’. Hence yesterday a bike fairy fluttered into life as we met with Jane and Ruby (Mike’s sister and niece) so that we could hand Mike’s old (but much-loved) lovely, red, hand built, steel Orbit bike on to Jane. This will hopefully give the bike a new lease of life with Jane as it’s been stored hung up rather underused in our outhouse for quite a few years. It was a bit sad watching it go, but good to know that it’s going to a good home (and thinking of all that extra space we’ll have for more bikes!).

Cycle hire sir? Visa? That’ll do nicely!

In London for the weekend – thought I’d picked up my bike hire key (it’s normally in my Oyster card holder), but I realised once at Paddington that unfortunately, I must have shoved it in the pocket of my trousers when we went to the Proms last week. Thankfully, it is now possible to use the bikes with a credit card, so with a bit of patience we were soon on our way. Still only costs £1 for 24 hours as long as you’re no more than 30 minutes on a bike at any one time.

Lots of fixed-wheeled cyclists in London, all very trendy and zippy. Michael loves them! I know it’s very bad to race, but I can’t help myself sometimes. Especially when I’m on a London cycle hire bike (they weigh a ton), I nearly beat another cyclist tonight, but a bus got in the way. Would have been no good if I’d had to stop in a hurry, once you pick up speed (which you’re not meant to of course), you’re off like a velo-missile! Back to a more sedate pace tomorrow I think.

Join the Bristol cycle hospitality challenge

Tonight I chaired the Bristol Bike Forum, the first time I’d managed to get to a meeting for ages. I guess it is inevitable that when you get a bunch of hardcore cyclists in a room it all gets a bit geeky. I had attempted (and failed) to try and get more women to go along to try and improve the feel of the meeting, for some reason they didn’t seem to be very attracted by endless talk of this pot hole or that advance stop line. I can’t imagine why, it’s all so thrilling! My heart sank tonight when very near the start of the meeting, one attendee said ‘I’d like to discuss anti-social cyclists’. We all know they exist, but it’s not like there are thousands of them – what about anti social car drivers or anti social pedestrians? (Yes I was once knocked off my bike by a rogue pedestrian!). It wasn’t exactly what I’d intended spending my evening talking about. Thankfully, that agenda item was deferred to the next meeting – mark the date in your diary now: 29 Sept!

On a more positive note, I mentioned WarmShowers under any other business. I was a bit surprised that very few people at the bike forum had heard of it. It had a very positive reception and it was even proposed that we make it one of the forum’s aims to make Bristol the most cycle hospitable city in the UK by having more WarmShowers hosts than any other city. So that is the challenge, will you be part of it? All you have to do is join WarmShowers, (if you haven’t already) – become a host and live in Bristol obviously. I’ll be keeping a note of the number of WarmShowers hosts between now and September to see how we do.

Sweet smell of…

Sweet peas! The sudden warmth has meant they are going crazy. I’m picking bunches of sweet peas from the garden every day. They bring back memories of my brother’s wedding, I think Richmal’s aunty put two big bowls of sweet peas by the church door as people went in. I’ve not had very much time for the garden at all this summer (work, work, work) and I fear what it will look like when we return from America. We’ve been very fortunate that a friend has agreed to house-sit for us, but I don’t think he’s much of a gardener – maybe I’ll be proved wrong … are you reading this Rauri?!


New shoes

Posted by Matthew

New shoes arrived today, nice shiny new Specialized road shoes – my first pair of road bike shoes for road riding. I’ve worn shoes with cleats for a while, but they’ve been mountain bike shoes, which means that you can easily walk in them when you’re off the bike as the cleat is recessed into the sole of the shoe. The new shoes have the cleat sticking out so they are far more efficient for road riding… but much harder to walk in!


Buying new shoes is not easy at the best of times, but cycling shoes are particularly hard to buy. They are not very stylish and certainly can’t be compared with Jimmy Choos, but I’ve gone with a very plain black pair. I was momentarily tempted by the patent red pair, but then thought no, too Wizard of Oz and so put them back on the shelf. So now I have shoes and bike, just need to put the two together and go for a test spin – the only trouble is I’m probably not going to have time to until next Monday :0( At least when I do go for a spin it will be to go and see my friend Polly – and I might even get to meet her man too, for some reason she has kept him well away from me – can’t imagine why.

Jam today and jam tomorrow

The temptation of picking my neighbour’s plums became too much today, so as soon as I arrived home it was out with the ladder. Next door have a very overgrown back garden, (in fact the whole house is pretty overgrown as well!). With the exception of some Buddlieia, the only other recognisable feature is the plum tree. Each year it manages to fight its way through the weeds and offer up its branches laden with fruit, hanging temptingly over our back garden wall and into Vicarage Road. Seems a shame to let them go to waste! Plums now picked, stewed and jammed.

With a dissertation to finish and a long cycle ride, I’m having to be quite organised with the preserving this year – especially as I have a prize-winning jam title to defend at the local Best of Bedminster Show. With that in mind I’ve upped the stakes with some additional secret ingredients – but I’m not revealing what they are yet. Let’s just say, I think the Women’s Institute judges will approve!

Belgium visitors

I know I’ve already sung the praise of Warmshowers on here (and probably will do some more once we start our trip), but I can’t not mention the guests we put up on Saturday night. Arend, Mireille and their children Emrys and Kiren, from Mechelen in Belgium were passing by on their way to Lands End. They had cycled from London to Bristol in one of the wettest weeks of the summer, so we were very pleased to host them for the night with a dry, warm bed a washing machine and of course a warm shower.

Thankfully, the weather looks much kinder for them this week as they wend their way down towards Cornwall. They’re travelling at a far more leisurely pace than we’ll be going at which is rather enviable, but it’s hard work: Arend and Emrys are on a tandem with a well-loaded bob trailer, while Mirelle was cycling with Kiren on a pull-along. I don’t think that Kiren was doing much pedalling – but she was quite small, but this meant lots of work for Mirelle. I hope that the Teddy makes it to Cornwall (and back to Belgium) – Kiren was holding it dangling from her handlebars in a very precarious grip as they set off.


Bike envy (Mike not me)

I am a very happy (and lucky) boy, I have a lovely new bike. We collected my titanium frame Van Nicholas Yukon today from Leisure Lakes in Cheltenham. It is beautiful and means that we both have bikes ready for the trip. Poor Mike is very envious as he’s been pining for a new bike for ages and I’m the one who has one. Can’t wait to go out for a ride, but that will have to wait until Wednesday as that’s when my new shoes will be arriving. Anyway here’s a picture of the lovely new bike … this one makes us an 8 bike household now!


Changing plans and changing weather

Today I’d intended to be visiting Coventry to see Dad, Janet and family – picking up my new bike on the way. The bike is ready, but unfortunately I’ve been engulfed in a lack-of-sleep/too-much-work wave or tiredness, so am not really up to the ride. The bike will have to wait and I will need to rearrange a date to see Dad and Janet – although unfortunately it probably won’t be before their holiday to France.

It’s a shame not to be riding today as the weather is lovely and sunny – the first time it’s been like this for ages. This week has been wet, wet, wet, I hope we don’t get too much wet weather along the west coast. August/September is meant to be the driest time of year along this route and it should get drier as we go south. I read an article on the BBC News website about the heatwave currently sitting over the central/east of the USA and Canada. There was a little bit at the end saying that on the west coast they were experiencing unseasonably cool weather. Someone from Seattle was quoted as saying they didn’t know it could be so cool at this time of year. I expect we’ll still find it pleasantly warm compared to a British summer though!

Prom-pt pedalling required!

We’ve been practicing some high-speed cycling today in preparation for our holiday. The only trouble is that travelling at high speed on a Transport for London (TFL) hire bike is heavy going!

After work we travelled up to London for tonight’s Prom (Sibelius No 7, Bartók Piano Concerto No 3 and Janáček Sinfonietta), well worth the effort, but travelling back from the Albert Hall to Paddington to catch the 22.15 return train to Bristol required some seriously strenuous pedalling – but as we did it in ten minutes I’d say that is a promising sign for our USA trip.