March 1st - one of the markers of spring is leaving early on the first Saturday in March to visit Erdington Bike Jumble. A lovely ride in spring sunshine through the Roman Way estate, Sutton Park and Boldmere, then an hour or so browsing tat (mostly) spending huge sums (£3 this year) and chatting to old pals, passing acquaintances and debating bike stuff.
This year it clashed with a similar event in Long Eaton, and it was a little poorer than usual. However, the catering this year was ace - fresh fried pakora and samosas as well as the usual bacon rolls. Don’t mind if I did.
Always nice to see other people’s rides, too. That Major Nicholls fixie is a lovely bike and well loved - you can just tell.
I did like the Moser frame. Whoever bought that got the beginnings of a nice bike there.
February 15th - A rough day. Weather was bad, with a high wind and periodic, squally rain. I needed to get some shopping in, and popped to Morrisons in Burntwood. I found myself on The Sportway, the drive to the Rugby Club that runs alongside the Chasetown bypass.
This is a good tip - I know this route well. Just where the grass is on the foreground corner of the cycleway, there is a huge, wheel-swallowing pothole unseen under the water. Because I know it’s there, I give it a wide berth. Someone coming this way for the first time, wouldn’t know.
My point is this: in this weather, be careful riding through puddles. They can hide a variety of nasties - from tire-shredding debris, to holes, to uncovered drains.
Take it easy and be wary.
February 3rd - In Aylestone, Leicester: a little bit of utterly nonsensical cycle ‘infrastructure’.
This is so bizarre, I have nothing to add.
January 29th - Micro asphalt is a pain in the arse. There are several installations of it in Walsall that I know to. The system is simple; a thin layer of resin-based coating is applied to a poor road surface, levelling the dips and sealing cracks. Unlike conventional tarmac, this is a chemical adhesive process. It’s way cheaper than resurfacing fully, and purportedly much more effective than tar and chipping.
Sadly within Walsall, in places it doesn’t seen to have gone too well.
Manufacturers claim a life of 20 years for an application, but this stretch in Green Lane, Shelfield is only a couple of years old, and is already forming potholes and ruts like a ploughed field.
It’s actually easier to see the effect on a wet night, as the water pools in the ridges and dips. Riding over this is afoul and makes steering unpredictable.
This road is now worse to ride than before the new surface was applied. Nice work, Walsall. Nice work…
January 26th - Beware, canal towpath walkers and cyclists. As pointed out by Warren Parry on Facebook a week or so ago, the brickwork on the embankment edge of the Wyrley and Essington Canal between Catshill Junction and the Silver Street Bridge in Brownhills is falling away.
A considerable cavity is opening between the towpath and the edging brickwork, large and deep enough to take a bike wheel or foot. I guess it’s caused by a combination of the weather and general erosion.
I shall contact the Canal & River Trust tomorrow to report the problem. In the meantime, watch where you’re going!
January 24th - Speaking of rubbish… On the way to Chasewater, I noticed this discarded inner tube in the scrub on the canal embankment at Ogley Junction. I found this depressing, particularly in light of the previous post. A synthetic tube like this won’t biodegrade, and will present an entrapment hazard to wildlife. It was clearly replaced for another, so why toss it? Put it in your pack and take it back home.
The same goes for your bottles and wrappers. You brought it with you, please take it back.
The scumbags who do this really piss me off. One of the joys of cycling is the environment. What’s the point if you just foul it with your own rubbish? Arseholes.
22nd January - In Birmingham, I was intrigued by this venerable old Claud Butler well locked up outside Moor Street station. When this was new it would have been a very expensive bike indeed - the brand was considered the Rolls Royce of bikes back when I was a lad, but not so much now. This seems fairly true to the original, too; down tube shifters, tight angled quill stem, lugged steel 501 frame and cotterless cranks.
This is clearly a favourite ride for someone, and looks like a well loved and well ridden steed. It’s also a remnant of a great cycling tradition.
January 19th - Sometimes, a solution to a problem is so simple that you wonder why it’s not in common use. At the bike jumble the day before, I got two of these water bottles (known as ‘bidons’ to pretentious roadie arses everywhere) which have a dome cap that loosely clips over the nozzle and remains attached by a band around the collar of the bottle.
The purpose is simple; it stops mud thrown up by the front wheel from contaminating the bit you drink from. This is a common problem with mountain and cross bikes as you can see, and I’m not convinced drinking from a mud-contaminated bottle didn’t give me the dreadful bout of campylobacter I suffered over new year 2011/2.
In conditions like we’re enduring at the moment, this is a godsend, and ensures I’m not throwing away half bottles of drink due to the fear of the dirty nozzle.
These bottles are marketed by cycle accessory brand BBB and I got two for a pocket-pleasing fiver.
January 10th - Time for another cycling tip. This is one I repeat often, and is very important, so it bears repeating. Following the rain we’ve had, the roads are currently filthy. This isn’t just country lanes, but major roads, too; the Chester Road up to Shire Oak from Stonnall northbound has a band of wet silt stretching nearly a metre from the kerb for several hundred metres, and it’ as slippery as hell. In the country lanes, the wash down has deposited grit, marbles and hedge-flailings containing sharp thorns into the road, right where we cyclists normally ride..
Watch where you’re going. Beware of puddles that could hide deep potholes. Corner carefully, and maintain your space on the road, so you have somewhere to move to if an unseen hazard appears. Carry spare tubes or a means of repair.
Take it steady out there, folks.
January 8th - This is a bit of cycle geekery. I have accumulated over the years some new cyclocross tyres. They’re cross country tyres for road-style bikes. They’re ideal for winter conditions, but tend to puncture easily; being designed for competition, they have great tread but are designed for lightness. Since my beloved Schwalbe Marathon Plus are wearing thin, I thought I’d try out the spares. Instead of putting up with the pictures, I’m going to try this Panaracer ‘Flat Away’ tyre liner, and see if it makes them a bit more of an attractive option.
The tape is soft fabric on a kevlar skin, which is lightly self-adhesive. You just stick it around the inside of the tyre before fitting, and it is purported to stop thorns and other nasties cutting through to the tube.
I’ll admit, I’m sceptical, but it’s hedge flailing season, and I’ll give it a go and see - after all, this stuff is a third of the price of a new tyre and will help me use up some of the perfectly serviceable spares I’ve got hanging around.
Flat Away comes in 26, 700c and 29 versions. Because cross tyres are fatter than 700c, I’ve gone for that for maximum width of coverage.
I shall report back on the experiment. I may live to regret this…
December 25th - Must get the hosepipe out. Reckon the bike would be at least 5lb lighter without the accumulated mud, trail crud and vegetation…
December 17th - In the dark nights and half-light days of winter, decent lights are needed. Searching, bold white in front, and strong red at the back.
In the darkness of the footbridge at Ogley Junction, I noticed how effective they were. Wouldn’t be without them.
November 25th - Ladies and gentlemen, I can make an announcement. This coming winter will be warm, without much snow or ice.
I have guaranteed this by purchasing new snow tyres for this season. Therefore, fate dictates that I won’t need them. Which will probably be a shame, as they look like they mean serious business.
This has been a public service announcement to 365daysofbiking readers.
November 5th - In Shenstone, a timely reminder of the season. The roads were thick with leaf pulp, caused by the action of traffic on fallen leaves. It looks muddy, but it’s also soapy and greasy. Hitting this goop on road tyres can be a sobering experience as it’s apt to steal your wheels from under you; the balsam and sap mix to form a lubricant that remains, even after the debris is removed, so take care anywhere where there are overhanging trees - from up on the Chase, to residential suburbia.
November 4th - Only one set of photos today, as my others went badly wrong, such was the theme of the day. A day of missed connections, late arrivals, things not working and bad chances. I got a puncture on the way to work, and cursed. I had a mechanical issue on the way home.
Still, it was a pleasant enough day weather-wise, and on my way I took the cycle path from Pelsall to Goscote. Pelsall looked great from the Mill Lane Bridge, as it always does this time of year, and the Goscote Valley was equally pastoral. I can think of far worse journeys to cycle.
Here’s a thing, though, if a shard of glass embeds itself in your tyre and pierces your innertube, why is it always coloured glass and not plain clear? Is coloured glass harder or something?