Train nonsense in Cambridge

Fuji on Cambridge trainI’ve been freelancing in London for the month, but I came back to Norwich this weekend for my father’s wedding. I decided to go through Cambridge; the train left just after work, and it’s not far to Kings Cross from the office.

I usually go through Liverpool Street, but I thought this might be quicker. It turned out to be a lot slower, and I missed part of dad’s wedding-eve meal. Thanks for that, National Express.

I got to Cambridge – halfway there – and tried to change, but I wasn’t allowed on the train. Apparently, “union rules” say that only 4 bikes can be carried at a time. On a train carrying more than 300 people.

I’d have to wait another hour for the next train, the guard told me, when another four bikes could be taken. I looked around the platform and saw 10 waiting bikes. It didn’t look good, so I offered to break the bike down and put it in the overhead compartment – “still a bike, not allowed”, he said.

While I was waiting I watched a train pull up, which belonged to another company. I saw 21 bikes roll on. Capital Connect apparently have a more bike-friendly strategy than National Express. Continue reading


Bring me simple stats, stat!

Fuji on Primrose HillI’ve just read a wonderful article on Wired about Nike+, the stat-tracking system for runners – which made me realise how archaic cycle computers are.

Basically, Nike makes a shoe with a sensor which measures how long your feet stay on the ground when you run. This allows it to track how fast you’re running – there’s an easy calculation that’s accurate to 5%.

This data is collected by your iPod and automatically uploaded to the Nike+ website when it’s synced. The site lets you track how far and fast you ran on each outing – complete with simple, pretty graphs.

Brilliant training and motivational stats, with minimal effort.

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Sheringham, shingle and Black Shuck

Fuji at SheringhamI rode out to Sheringham today, taking the most circuitous route possible without either leaving Norfolk or doubling back on yourself. A large, county-sized game of Snake, if you will.

Dan and I must learn to plan routes.

Still, a hard ride, some great food at the end, and a little dip in the sea to boot. It was marred only by an encounter with the legendary dog-beast of East Anglia, immortalised in song by the Darkness, Black Shuck.
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Bamboo frames and the Guardian Bike Blog

Calfee bamboo bikeI reviewed a Calfee bamboo bike this week for the Guardian’s new Bike Blog.

It was an unusual experience, and an unusual bike, but it’s certainly no gimmick – it rode superbly.

I won’t get into that, though, as I’ve covered it in the article itself. All I’ll say is that it was a great bike; really precise, but comfortable enough for a long ride.

The problem is that for a lot less cash I could have a custom Mercian, or pick up an old Merckx in good condition. I think I’d rather do that, but that’s just personal preference. I’m very impressed with what Calfee is doing with bamboo.

As for the blog, I’m pleased the Guardian are taking it on. It seems to be hitting the right note so far, covering things that commuters want to talk about; blind-spots, bike-theft and Boris Johnson. All mixed in with some quirkier reads like this £3,000 bamboo bike review.

How not to lock a bike #1

bike not lockedI’ll admit to coming out of a shop to find that I’ve locked my bike to nothing but mid-air, but at least what I was aiming for was sturdy.

This, on the other hand, was doomed to failure from the start.

Talking of locks, if you ever come back to your bike to find that a cheap frame has been “accidentally” locked to yours, beware. Thieves often do this so you’re forced to leave it overnight, then they come for it and break your lock.

Ride to the coast, sans sunscreen

Cromer pierA quick spin to the coast today with Dan on his aging GT.

It spent several years faithfully serving Dan’s brother while he was a messenger in London, but is so small that it crams his spine into a question mark.

The sort that comes at the end of a sentence like, “when will I be able to walk again?”

Still, great weather and great countryside – nicely topping-up my fresh-air reserves before I spend the next fortnight in London.

Note to self; next time take swimming shorts, and sunscreen.

Stats: 30 miles, 13mph average, 37mph maximum (fixed@48:16), deer spotted: 3 (2 still alive).