October 7th - An odd bike spotted in a rack near work. It was so odd, I had to take a closer look.
It’s a Kettler city bike. Kettler are, I believe, a German brand with an office in Redditch selling into the UK. It’s a large bike, and looks very heavy indeed. Dynamo lights powered by a bottle, rather than hub generator and rim brakes - the rear an unusual crossover cantilever design mounter under the chainstays - mark this bike out as being a cheap model. More expensive steeds of this type would have hub brakes.
The bike clearly needs some love - the chain was as dry as old bones and red rusty, as were many of the components. I’m tempted to pop back just to lube the chain. It must squeak like hell in use.
September 11th - Less charming than the sunflower, but fascinating to me, just under a bridge in Pleck, I pull up to a halt to allow a rat to get out of my way. Brown, and in good nick, it loops around the path before diving into a drain hole in the bridge underwall. If you watch closely, it briefly pokes it’s nose back out of the hole.
Rats are a fact of life with canal cycling, and there are lots in urban areas. Previously, I’ve seen them swimming here. Humans have a symbiotic relationship with rats, and we’ve co-existed for millennia.
I don’t find them repulsive, I find them fascinating. Their adaptability and nimbleness are fascinating.
Worth watching full screen. Click on the little square box on the vide toolbar.
July 19th - I see this wonderful Christiana cargo bike about a lot - huge covered box on the front, hub gears, massive bell and brooks saddle. It’s built like a brick outhouse. I often see it in Pelsall. Today, it was parked up outside Aldi in Brownhills.
These are tremendously popular in northern mainland Europe, as well as other brands like the Dutch Bakfiets. You often see children being conveyed to school in them by parents over there - but here, this is clearly on a shopping trip, and a rare thing indeed.
July 12th - Shopping in Lichfield in the morning. The city was humming, and crowded with lots to see, including the local MP who was posing foppishly outside a cafe.
The parked bikes were interesting - that maroon ladies Oxford is an interesting beast, and very continental. Roller hub brakes, basket carriers, 3 speed and a dutch lock, it’s in good nick with an interesting front light. A real utility bike, and it looks well loved - it’s actually a far better bike than many of the heavy, cumbersome Pashleys and knockoffs that seem so popular with ladies at the moment.
The Charge single speed is an interesting steed, too, I’ve seen it about a fair bit. I had thought it was fixed wheel, but it’s fitted with a flipflop hub; this is fixed one side, and normal freewheel on the other. This one is set up on the freewheel side, so it’s not really the bike of a fixie hipster.
I often wonder how many of these fashionable bikes are sold fixed, and then flipped to freewheel within hours, never to be changed back… riding fixed is bloody hard.
That rust needs attention, too…
The sand sculpture of the dogs was ace, and seemed to be a busker style thing. You could see the work and skill that went into that - and like a sandcastle, to be ultimately destroyed. It was worth a few bob for the artist.
June 20th - Passing quickly through Lichfield, I spotted this interesting folding bike locked up. It’s a cheap Brompton copy, but nonetheless a fine bike, with some neat engineering solutions. Remarkably well designed luggage, too. Interesting to note the rider felt confident enough to leave the luggage attached, and his jacket hanging on the post…
May 22nd - Leicester again. I love Leicester, it’s bustle and cosmopolitain air. One of my favourite aspects of this interesting and engaging city is the station - not huge, but a good, airy atmosphere, comfortable and excellent facilities. Every time I come here, the amount of cycle parking has increased - there are now 10 of the bike parking carousels here, and still cyclists are having to use the railings.
This excellent provision - you’d not see anything like it in Birmingham, for instance - is reflected on the streets, where I see far more cyclists, despite Leicester Council not seeming to keen on cycle lanes or silly coloured tarmac.
April 13th - Back up on the Chase for the first decent, dry ride in what seems like an age. Still the heavy wind, but a joy to fly down Rainbow Hill to Moor’s Gorse. Note the young bloke who overtakes me. He was absolutely flying. I topped out about 35mph and bottled it. He just floored it. Respect. Music is Lindsay Buckingham’s ‘Don’t Look Down’ from the chronically overlooked ‘Out of the Cradle’ album. Video is real time.
March 24th - I noticed this Volt Metro folding electric bike parked in the racks outside Darlaston Library as I passed. It looks like a decent design; disc brake front, V-brake rear, motorised rear hub (I think) with derailleur gears - it even has suspension fork and seatpost. Dread to think what it weighs, but it’s an interesting bike.
March 23rd - The Chase is still very muddy. This is a normal speed clip, from Castle Ring to Stonepit Green this afternoon. Top speed about 30mph. I was absolutely plastered in mud. But by heck, it was funn.
January 18th - Today, I popped down to Lichfield’s first bicycle jumble. I love a good bric-a-brac sale like this, and Erdington is on my list every year. I arrived at the Martin Heath Hall fashionably late, when things were well underway. It was banging. Loads of folk there, and not just the old nodders like me, but youngsters, fixie kids, tourers and hipsters. Loads of stalls, good tea, and plenty to tyre kick and haggle over. I actually spent more than a tenner, too, which is unusual for me.
It was good to see Vickers Bicycles here too - their Lichfield made roadsters are a modern classic, as was the rather new-looking Charge fixie parked up outside.I loved the vintage lighting - from acetylene to Ever Ready, and I was seriously considering the Sturmey Archer five-speed hub gear (note the two cables).
A fine hour or so in the company of other cyclists, and my compliments to the organiser, Martin Cartwright. Lets hope for many more!
BrownhillsBob biked every day for the thirty days of April 2011, part of the #30daysofbiking project, but enjoyed the process so much that he carried on. Over three years down the road, he's still cycling every day and recording a little bit of every journey.