Friday, August 31, 2007

La Bas

La Bas, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

I must apologise for not posting context for my more recent images - I've been a little bit busy, largely repairing my daughter's bike (every time she falls off it, she seems to lose a piece from it).

Most recently, she managed to mess up her front brake (in that one side came off completely - the housing carrying the cable through, I think it's called a brake noodle, had also broken). Using bolts &c supplied by the excellent Bicycle Boutique (in Manchester, just behind the Sugden Centre off Grosvenor Street) I've made them good as new.

Bicycle boutique also supplied the natty new brake hoods I've fitted to my tourer (my main commuting bike). New tape for the bars will be the next treat this bike gets, I think. I rode my hybrid again (the bike to which I was fitting mudguards) yesterday, and was amazed by how sluggish it feels compared to the tourer - the seating position feels somewhat odd too, after riding drop handlebars.

This week will mark the second week of my commute to work on the bike, an experience I've largely enjoyed, despite occasional and momentary bowel loosening terror thanks to my fellow road users. I'm not sure how many car drivers read my blog (or how many people full stop), but in the interest of fostering greater understanding;

1) Yes I do know there's a cycle path. I generally prefer to use them when they aren't so pitted and potholed that bits fall off my bike when I ride through them. I also prefer not to use that one where the camber is so steep that I end up fighting it alll the way just to stay off the kerb. I also don't like using the ones with broken glass strewn liberally across them. Rest assured I do use them when it's safe to.

2) I do have to come away from the side of the road/out of the cycle path to pass parked cars. I try to do this in good time because I don't want to suddenly swerve in front of you. I'm sorry that I'm straying into the bit of road you regard as yours, but I'm not up to jumping vans/cars/lorries in a single bound just yet.

3) Yes I am quite a long way from the kerb. I do this because when I cycle nearer to it, some people (not you, I hasten to add, I'm sure you're very responsible and considerate) take it as an invitation to pass me with barely a cigarette paper's width[1] between me and their vehicle. Cycling where I do also gives me room to manouver out of your way/someone else's way should there be a need to. I might also be keeping out of glass/potholes/grids. I'm not trying to annoy you, I promise, as I'm very aware of the discrepancy between the sizes, weights, and speeds of our vehicles, and an annoyed person + their car is not a combination I'm anxious to deal with.

4) It does help if you don't roll your car into the marked cycle waiting bit at traffic lights. If I can get in there, I can clearly indicate whether I'm going ahead, left or right to you, and I know that you or another driver isn't going to turn left in front of me. Speaking of traffic lights, whizzing past me, nearly sending me flying, just so you can arrive at a red light two seconds before me seems a bit pointless, don't you think[2]?

5) If you're waiting to pass me, please do so by following about a cars length behind, if not more. Sitting just off the right side of my back wheel means that I can't turn right (I may need to), that a pothole might bounce me into you and reduces my capability to give us both room in the event of something happening ahead. Please also pass me giving plenty of room (at least half a car's width is terrific), for the latter two reasons.

6) A huge thank you to the many considerate and patient drivers I've encountered - I try to acknowledge people that wait for me to pass parked vehicles &c where I can - it is much appreciated. Sadly, I only have to encounter one person who isn't like you for something very bad to happen - hence my somewhat defensive style of riding.

[1] This happens particularly often on narrow roads - if you can't pass me where I am, it is not safe to pass me when I'm nearer to the kerb, believe me.

[2]Grey Xsara Picasso, Turves Road, Cheadle last night - I hate people who pass me next to traffic islands - neither of us have enough room in case of emergencies, and the draft from passing so close can quite easily send me into the kerb or another car.

No picture post last night, because I finally got 'round to developing the roll of HP5+ that has the last of my holiday shots, and PaD shots on it. I've decided to go back to my roots with this roll, and dev in 1+29 LC29, which you may remember (or not) was where we came in with this whole homedev lark. I'm not sure how many rolls I've done in total, but there's still something very satisfying about unspooling the negs and leaving them to dry - I guess peering at them trying to figure out what you have is the closest film comes to chimping.

I shall be scanning the cut negs tonight, and then hopefully posting the final days of the PaD challenge.


brendadada said...

I always cycled around Birmingham. But when I can up north, the hills were daunting, but mainly the traffic is so fast and aggressive. I folded my Brompton nearly 3 years ago after an a*se in a 4x4 shouted "gerrof the bliddy road, you c*!". Frightened me witless, I can tell you. I'd get back on now the memory has faded, but it has a flat tyre and it's a right faff to get them fixed.

I do miss it though. It's some compensation that the public transport here is so spiffy.

John the Monkey said...

Urgh - if it's any consolation, I suspect the person in question said as much to many other road users that same day, regardless of their mode of transport. One of the interesting things about riding in Manchester is that until I hit my local patch, I'm usually moving faster than most of the traffic, so generally I can catch up with anyone who wants a discussion about use of the road at the next lights (Mr. Grey Xsara, for example).

Generally it's about finding the right route - I'm never traffic free on my commute (apart from one little bit through the local park) but a chat with the guys at the bike shop put me on to some lower & slower traffic roads, rather than the dual carriageway I went on on my first outing.

And as for punctures... they're not so bad. Riding on kevlar banded tyres (I think they're branded "tourguard") can help lessen the chances somewhat - scwhalbe also do a tyre with extra thick rubber on the inside (the guy in my bike shop sticks drawing pins in them to demonstrate how good they are). If you think you might use the bike again, do fix it, or replace the tube, as letting it sit on the flat will damage the sidewalls of your tyres.

Thanks for commenting too, it's nice to know someone's reading this :)