Monday, 29 March 2010

Bike Shaped Object

Monday 29th March 2010... the day I overtake an electrically assisted bike shaped object which looks a bit like a mopped but isn't.

I had been following this machine up the Rodwell Trail and decided that I just had to try out my 'bent legs and their new found muscles... as you can see in the video, the pilot of the electric device pedals to help the batteries get her up the 1:50(ish) gradient of the old track bed but to no avail - mere electricity is no match for a pair of finely tuned 'bent legs!!!

Given all the extra effort one would have to put in to move the battery weight around when the charge drops I often wonder if there is any net benefit at all in these machines.

Bike Shaped Object (BSO) is a slightly (well OK very) derogatory term used for the <£100 machines you can get from national chains - they tend to:-

be heavy;
have full suspension for no apparent reason;
not particularly well made or finished;
be and ridden for 3 weeks until boredom or in the worst cases actual pain - from the completely bad setup - sets in.

A BSO is technically a bike because it has two wheels... however the rest is mmmm well you probably get the idea by now.

As an aside I find it a trifle odd that this point in the commute is about 50% of the way to work, yet takes 1/3 of the time taken for the whole journey.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Traffic on the trail

What ever next? Pedestrians using a shared path? how very dare they? it is only shared after I have finished using it!!!!

Well actually it was a bit of a comedy of errors.

Woman stops to empty her dog at the rubbish bin just by the junction.
I pass her and start the descent off the embankment. I notice the chap in Hi-Viz struggling up the hill and manage to control a fishtail - the rear wheel locked up and slid on the white paint of the give way sign - he fails to decide exactly where he is going to walk until almost too late...

Today was the first day that there was any significant traffic on the Rodwell Trail and it just had to be at the most awkward section (from my point of view) though earlier on I had met a council truck driving along emptying the rubbish bins... getting past him was fun and I was glad that the Orca is much narrower than the upwrong handle bars.

All in all good fun and no harm done to anyone. Just after this I was caught out by the 30s lights - they changed much more quickly than I was expecting which makes a change.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

30 Seconds

Just how long is 30 seconds anyway?

This is a terribly boring video where nothing much happens, though at about 15s in I comment about the lights....

One second is scientifically defined in wiki for those that are interested.

My personal definition of 1 second is 1/30 of a lifetime spent waiting at traffic lights. This is the first time using the Rodwell trail commute that I have been held up (though not by much apparently) at these lights.

I suspect that a lot of road rage comes from the time distortion effect of the road - things that actually are insignificant (in this case a delay of 1/2880th of a day, 1/6th of a 3 minute egg or 1/100th of a Dr Who Episode) are magnified to a problem which only total annihilation of the cause will solve.

Humans are funny creatures at the best of times, and the act or travelling seems to make us more animal than necessary.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Test for Lois

Well Lois wanted a link to the blog post, so I Googled around a bit and found Twitterfeed it is a service which posts each blog post to my facebook wall and provdes a link as well.
All being in order there should be two updates about this post, one from blogspot email which will just say "[Me and My Orca]Test for Lois" and the other will have a link in it I hope.

Wet II

No video for this one, cos it was so wet I had to take the camera off the helmet before setting out - relatively cheep though the Muvi is I wouldn't want to have to buy a new one just yet.... one can get a waterproof housing for it but at £30 it is rather rich for me.

Anyway back to the erudite prose... rain. I have a love/hate relationship with the vertical wet stuff... I love it when it is happening to other people, or the outside of the building/tent/wherever I might be but I dislike it falling on me when riding any bike and the Orca particularly...
"Why so?" I hear you cry... well I know you only get wet once but the rain seems to bring out the worst in car drivers so they tend to pass rather too close (not on camera - see above!) and they also tend to drive rather more unpredictably. The other reason for not liking it is that I notice my feet slipping around on the pedals rather more than is comfortable and for a while I was pedalling with my trainer on the wrong side of the M324 SPD pedals.

What to do about the slippery shoes? For my birthday I will be buying some Shimano MT32s (or 42s) unless of course someone recommends another SPD compatible shoe that works well as a trainer as well, even with cleats attached.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Rodwell Station

Rode through here on Tuesday and attempted to post the video about 3 times since then. i will add meaningful txt sometime.
This is Rodwell Station

Sunday, 14 March 2010

How rough is a road?

In the case of Lanehouse rocks road in Weymouth the answer is Very. It is uncomfortable enough on the upwrong and it feels worse on the Orca.

The camera shake, once I get past the keep left bollard, is almost completely down to the road surface which has been getting worse and worse over the last year or two.

The other side of the road isn't much better - in some ways it is worse because it is marginally less bumpy however there are 'tram line' type defects in the road surface.

The road surface in both directions is why I have doubled the length of my commute - and got more opportunity for video footage.

We will see what happens in the next year or two as the 2012 Olympic sailing is taking place in Weymouth bay with the marina in Portland Harbour being the base for the sailors. Lanehouse is one of the designated Olympic routes so should get a refresh as far as the roads are concerned.

I am not holding my breath.

Friday, 12 March 2010

How Much Road?

The Highway Code Rule 163 says that drivers, when overtaking cycles, should leave at least as much room as they would when overtaking a car. I assume that the Silver boy with leaxarse lights leaves a couple of inches between him and any car he overtakes...

Later on he seems to need rather more road than anyone else... and overtaking him I return his earlier compliment.

As he was the only driver who seemed to have a problem with my road position and filtering I wonder how big he thinks his rather small car actually is?


Rain is inevitable - this is the first rain for a fortnight here.

Typically the precipitation decided to start as I was approaching Snipe Gate - and had the road been flatter, or at least downhill all the way to the industrial estate, I would have escaped it all but no - with two 1st gear hills in between me and the dryness of work I was bound to get damp.

Near the end of the ride I come to a traffic lighted junction - just outside Chickerell Camp. Not usually a problem. However some car driver thought it would be an idea to try to overtake me where the lanes are clearly painted on the road... I held my ground and he fell in behind as he should have done in the first place - completing his overtake a couple of seconds after the video stops...

What is so important that a 5s delay means you have to abandon sense and any adherence to the highway code?

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Leaning in to the curve

Just a short video from near the end of the lunchtime run out to Snipe Gate. Whizzing down a gentle slope, I come across a mini roundabout. Up till today this has been a bit of a slow point but for whatever reason I relaxed and rather than slowing down I just went for it - and got a decent lean in to the curve. Seems like I am getting a bit more confident... This may be a bad thing.

No Video :(

For some reason the camera failed to record the trip to work today. Sad days because I had my first ever bizarre behaviour by a car/driver on my commute by Orca.

Three lanes of traffic approaching a roundabout... nice big arrows on the road ( Abbotsbury Road Roundabout... Google StreetView )
I was positioned just to the right of the line separating the straight on arrow from the left turn arrow - for I was going up the side of the lake rather than into Abbotsbury road. A white van over took correctly and I thought no more of it, then I hear engine noise to my left... "Hello" thought "I what's going on here? that doesn't sound like he is going left..." As I entered the roundabout the car on my left crept along side me and left the roundabout by the straight on exit....

Sigh - is there any hope for car drivers like that? there are even great big arrows painted on the road to help them work out where they are meant to be. S225 HCG I suggest you get your eyes tested and read the highway code - I know you are not a locally registered car (CG is a Southampton area VRM... the Parents used to own HCG192S many years ago) so perhaps not using the clearly indicated lanes is endemic to Southampton?

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Traffic Light Gnome

The TLG is a rare creature, usually found looking the other way when cyclists approach traffic lights. This gnomic inattention causes the lights to invariably be red against the cyclist.

As you can see, right up until I get to the lights, the gnome is indeed ignoring me or indeed taunting me by cycling the lights to green and back when I have no hope of reaching them.

By some miracle he looks in my direction and I spy the lights for the other (main road) stream of traffic going amber/red so I actually speed up - only a little... this is a 'bent and I am going up hill! - in mild panic just in case the gnome changes his mind rather more rapidly than usual.

Just after the left turn the main road goes up hill quite a lot - however after the stress of the normally red lights I usually don't notice the hill!

P.s. if this appears twice in the blog I will delete the one I think most appropriate - I have already posted this once from YouTube but it is showing a marked reluctance to appear.


There is something about cycling that encourages competition... especially when going up hill.

For various reasons recumbent bikes are not so quick uphill as upwrongs - however that can change if the 'engine' puts it mind to it. As this particular engine has only recently been transplanted into the 'bent world I reserve my final judgement - ask me again at Christmas or there abouts.

I was quite quick at hills on the Marin Fairfax, however the Orca brings me back down to size somewhat... I usually make hills at something approaching walking pace so 2 or 3 mph.

The upwrong rider did bid me good morning as he flashed past at high speed up the hill... I didn't have the heart to point out that it was, in fact, afternoon.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

First Time Nerves

Simon is a colleague from head office. Apparently there has been much scoffing at the Orca so he thought "how hard can it be?".
Riding a recumbent is, initially, very like falling off a bike, repeatedly - well on two wheeled recumbent bikes it is anyway. At least one is close to the ground and falling off doesn't hurt that much - to his credit Simon doesn't fall off.

Why SPDs?

This short clip shows why I am definitely going to get some MT32s. I got the wrong gear when cycling up the hill and spun out. As I was going slowly at the time there was no major calamity though I was lucky that all the traffic in the world didn't decide to pay a visit (see blog entry passim) though a truck did pass by shortly after. Can't wait till the birthday, then a whole new field of falling off will become available to me as I forget to clip out or fail to clip in properly!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Falling Off Workshop II

Yes, this is the second time I fell off the Orca. The first was in the dark and the helmet cam didn't pick up too much detail.
This falling down moment is much better lit and shows what happens when you are travelling slowly on the 'bent and pull on the tiller and are in a slight panic about all the traffic.

Speaking of traffic, why does it always wait until I am about to do something tricky before making an appearance? Roundabouts, uphill sections, T Junctions. No traffic at all until I get there then all hell breaks loose. Just have to get better at riding the 'bent I guess.

A Bit Close Mate!

Two cars overtaking... The first seems to think that I am about to get out of his way, or something equally silly; the second is much more typical of the overtakes I am experiencing at the moment.

I suspect that, over time, motons in Weymouth will get used to the recumbent and treat me like any other bike. Until then I have the luxury of wide overtakes and a deal of wariness from the petrol driven population.

My First Ride on my new Orca

This was the first time I took my own Orca for a ride. Down the lane behind Future Cycles in Forest Row, round the car park and back. The video is jerky because the camera was wobbling about on the helmet.

New Bike - New Blog!

Well here we have another mundane addition to the blogosphere - a blog dedicated to my adventures on my Orca

No, an Orca isn't just a species of dolphin but a very capable - if a trifle heavy - recumbent bike designed in the Netherlands and imported to the UK through Future Cycles

This blog will attempt to catalogue my 'bent biking experiences until I get bored with blogging about the new machine.