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.
A wonderful utility bike and I salute the owner.
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.
A great morning.
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.
It just goes to show, build it, and they’ll come.
May 19th - Bike rack, Telford station. A child’s bike. Can’t really fault the technique, but it’s an unusual approach. Perhaps they’re antipodean.
April 25th - This one’s for Trevor in Oz. You may miss life here when it’s sunny… but not on a went Friday afternoon.
A horrid ride. They guy soaking me in the last 10 seconds just clinched it.
The audio is the remarkable ‘Rain Dances’ by 1970s prog-jazzers Camel. Recording used at normal speed.
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.
April 13th - Up on Cannock Chase. The ears. That’s all.
Sorry for the poor quality - caught by the bike cam, some way off. Heavily zoomed, and slowed down for clarity.
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.
Soundtrack ‘Ritual Dance’ by Michael Hedges.
March 9th - At Sittles, north of Whittington, a surprise. It’s amazing the things you get overtaken by in country lanes…
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!
December 4th - Also in South Wigston, a postie’s bike. I was intrigued by this one as it shows how heavily loaded these things are these days - and why they’re being phased out in favour of electric carts and vehicles. Postmen and women these days deliver far more parcels and packets than they used to, and less letters, which make for heavier, bulkier delivery pouches.
This bike is interesting, too; not the usual design I see around, this is a step-through and has 3spead hub gear, with Bendix hub brakes. The water bottle made me smile, too…
September 30th - This is incredible - bike geeks will love this. A Fahrrad Manufaktur small wheel bike, spotted on a Solihull bound train. The owner - a beardy, leathery old cycle tourer - said it was one of only 3 in the country. I certainly can’t find any details of this model online. It seems to combine all the disadvantages of a folding bike with the disadvantages of a larger one, but look at the way this is loaded. That’s a remarkable loading technique - note the tea-flask and pannier.
I guess this appeals to the Moulton crowd, and it is a unique, fascinating bike - dynamo lights come on automatically in low light, and it’s rocking a 14 speed Rohlhoff hub, with a Brooks saddle. This is no cheap machine.
Sadly, the owner alighted at Small Heath, and I didn’t get long enough to chat to him about it. But it’s a remarkable steed. I hope I meet him again.
August 29th - The bike parking at New Street Station is still rubbish. Theoretically covered by CCTV, thefts are rife and stripped bike carcasses appear every day. If you need to park bikes in Brum, don’t park here. If you do, learn to lock your bike properly. What’s happening here is that thieves are stealing bikes who have one wheel locked by undoing it, then nicking a compatible wheel from another bike, and riding the composite off into the sunset.
New Street’s bike facilities are a disgrace.
Learn to lock your bike properly.