Saturday, 26 December 2020

Tales of strange machines from up north

A report from Ian Prince on 19 December, riding a low level ICE tricycle in Sheffield

Having escaped London for work prior to lockdown, I thought I had still better carry on riding as I miss the Saturday rides. 

So now being up north, it is entirely appropriate that I entitle this “ICE in the North”.

The racing Brompton certainly gets the hammer whilst in London as it has done since I upgraded to it a decade ago from my more utility Brompton. However, despite it being fine for everything, I use my other bikes (rule of n+1) when elsewhere. 

Having gone ‘laid back’ this summer properly for the first time (years of envy dissipated instantly) I gently set up all the lights on the ICE trike for a short late afternoon ride into town today. Probably a similar distance to CTC SW London beginners Saturday rides. 

‘Riders eye view’

Whilst it is entirely different to riding a diamond frame bike or even a Brompton, I love the stability and when I do eventually venture out on an icy morning, I have no fear of being tipped off or slipping off on black ice. I even have in reserve for such days a studded 700c rear tyre to maintain traction. 

So....a mere 7.75 miles later in the pitch black tonight, but with four front and two rear lights, the experience was good, dare I say relaxing! Artificial daylight and the picture above was with only 50% of the lights on and at low beam too. 

Whilst my longest ride on it in the summer months was over eighty miles, I am getting into the swing of this style of cycling, even increasing speeds as it becomes the “new normal”. I have sights set on the Peak District Winnats Pass and Yorkshire Moors Sutton Bank next year, but we shall see. 

Its a long ride for it to visit Surrey although I have done that before over a number of days on the road bike in the past. Car assisted is not really feasible due to its length though so it may not be appearing on the beginners rides any time soon. (Plus getting through gates and barriers is not really practical with a tricycle 2.2m long). 

And the question everybody asks about feeling vulnerable low down....well yes it was a concern having tried out a variety of recumbents over the years, but its not until you pass 500 miles or so does it become “automatic” to ride this way. It is strange how motorists do seem to give a wider berth and be more patient than when stuck behind a bike. I think we need a psychologist to carry out a doctorial study as to why. (CTC should perhaps find some funding to pursue such matters?)

Hopefully I will get some more solo miles in over the Christmas and New Year break....more stories and pictures in the offing perhaps for the blog? 

............and a follow-up report on Christmas Eve

Cycled to work today on the ICE trike. 

Cardboard cutout of Rishi Sunak in reception suitably seasonally decorated along with Covid 19 hand sanitation point in the background, and Xmas tree sum up the year. 

Luckily here, we were announced as remaining in tier 3 today, so less onerous than London & SE but still can do daily exercise and travel to work where homeworking not possible. 

Actually no one else in the business centre today, so Covid risk less than in Morrisons or Sainsburys! 

Cant leave the ICE trike outside though, far too tempting at Christmas (or anytime) for those who know what it is! 

the Chancellor considers Road Taxing alien vehicles

All best for Christmas and New Year. Hope you can manage to get awheel “for exercise“ over the seasonal period. 

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Little did we know.....Sutton pod from Beddington Park, 19 December

Meeting Dave the other week on Clapham Common showed me how reachable that common is from Sutton or Beddington for a Saturday ride.  As it has never been on the regular itinerary, I devised, and offered the Sutton Six, a ride there with which to sign off the Christmas break with something different; out along the Northern Line, back along the Thameslink Sutton Common loop.

We prefer to finish rides in the daylight, or near-daylight, so I agreed with Colin that as we already had a full group of six signed up, we would leave the Park before the traditional time.  We decided upon taking sandwiches and a midday departure.

The weatherman had lied again, and the cold rain which his computer model predicted the previous evening would be long gone to the east, was with us right until we left home; most of the ride was in changeable weather.

Ray had had difficulty keeping up before he peeled off to ride to work at the North Pole.  Still, the long ride was good for 'is elf. 

The Wandle Path and Morden Hall Park were slippery with leaves and sticky with mud and I realised that the slightly more ambitious Plan A, which would bring us home through Putney Heath and Wimbledon Common was best abandoned.  We got to Phipps Bridge tram stop before we had to stop being nonchalant about the increasing drizzle and threatening sky and don our waterproofs but in traditional style the rain stopped as soon as we did so.  At Merton Abbey Mills we left the Wandle Trail and used the Cycle Superhighway up the A24 to Clapham Common, where we bought tea and sat on a park bench pretending we were warm and eating our sandwiches.

It's a straight run from the Clapham Common bandstand via Broomwood Road to Wandsworth Common, which has an unhealthy ratio of non-cycling paths but which we crossed legitimately.  Trinity Road proved a mite more difficult to cross until a cycle friendly van driver let us in, and we used the Magdalene Road, Ravensbury Road and Revelstoke Road route to Wimbledon Park.

Home Park Road was steeper than usual but the gradients were in our favour from there to Lower Morden, where the skies began to darken and not entirely because of the impending winter evening.  The dousing began on the way up to St Helier and by the time we got past the hospital into Carshalton the roads were merely tarmac rivers and ponds but it does not matter too much if the last few miles are wet and one has a warm shower and an immediate change of clothes.

We had said our goodbyes at the top of Rose Hill, turning our attentions to our plans for families at Christmas and talking cheerily of our next ride, which would be in the New Year.  Little did we know (though there had been hints in the morning news) that within an hour our Christmases and our rides would be scuppered and that our pleasant, if wintry, Saturday afternoon might be the last time we rode in the group for a while.

Group riding suspended

Welcome, everyone, to Tier 4!  Further details of the Covid-19 Tier 4 Regulations are awaited but the Club Committee's interpretation of the rules is that group rides are banned again.  You can exercise "without restriction" by yourself or with members of your own household or just you and one other person from Tier 4, so long as you stay within Tier 4 (which is a pretty extensive area).  However, solo or duo cycling trips to Oxford or Bournemouth and beyond are out for the moment.

Happy Christmas!

Sunday, 13 December 2020

Culcha for the Sutton Six on 12 December

The temperature up a degree or two, the rain in the air but just about holding off, we met up in Sutton as usual at one, the better to be home while it was light.  When the leader announced that we were going to the White House, some thought it a bit far, but it was not, of course, that White House, but the one atop Richmond Park, which turned out to show the leader's ignorance; it's the White Lodge.  We were off for a tangential brush with culture, the nearest any of would get now to admission to the Royal Ballet School; a peek through the bars of the elegant gates.

We went through Worcester Park to the better of the two tunnels under the A3, the one that has a cycle lane through it and a rideable slope at each end.  The Traps Lane climb was the only real hill and the ride to the Park was a pleasant one.  Through Ladderstile Ride we got into the park with the polite acquiescence of a few pedestrians through the "airlock" gate that takes two bikes at a time and were soon enjoying the park itself, anti-clockwise on the perimeter road (so much the better for its traffic ban in several places) until we reached the cafe (and, vitally, the free loos) at Roehampton Gate.

Not all of us had a cup of tea but we agreed that there were sufficient seats outside to make the cafe a safe experience.  It was too cold to linger, however, and soon we were off, continuing our anti-clockwise progress until we turned up the hill past the rugby pitches to the Ballet School itself.

Les Sylphides

A quick photo opportunity for the four who stood in range of the viewfinder, and we passed the snack bar up there (our Plan B if the Roehampton Gate cafe had proved more crowded than we liked).  The leader dropped something and in picking it up was nearly decapitated by a cyclist who was powering through the 10mph pedestrian area at something like three times that speed but, hey, he missed!

Home past the wandering deer and Thelwell imitators at the riding school, through Robin Hood Gate, along the A3 cycle path, past Raynes Park Station, through Lower Morden and up to Rose Hill, where we went our several ways.

The rain held off; indeed the setting sun became a bit of a hazard, it was nowhere near as inhospitably cold as last week, and we achieved our goal of home in the light.  Altogether a well-spent afternoon; a few metres over 40 Km door to door.  We even saw an aeroplane!

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Nonsuch to Epsom but home by train! Saturday Dec 5th

 From Ian Prince

So what did yesterday bring....

.......the delight of once again being (legally) allowed to group ride, even if our group dissipated to four, even before we left Nonsuch Park for Epsom. No challenges for the Brompton on the short ride to Epsom, even though our accompanied junior member found a hill too much even though he had a lot more gears than I did. Really good to see his Mum dealing out good roadcraft to him at the age of nine. 

I recall doing my cycling proficiency test at the age of eight and my own mum had to accompany me, as the instructor said if I crossed a busy traffic light junction on a main road by myself, I probably didnt need cycling proficiency. 

Mum therefore came along each week and I passed with flying colours, I think losing a point for doing a trackstand waiting for traffic lights to be changed.(I should have put my foot down!). 

Anyway, it did me no harm although it wasnt until much later and the need for independence before I could drive, did I get more seriously into cycling. 

When I started work away from home though that was the major breakththrough. I even bought my first long term girlfriend a bike, but she never caught the ‘bug’ even if she did come along when I had persuaded Yorkshire TV to film us and twenty others for National Bike Week. 

Strangely though she still has that same bike and rides it regularly so it cant have been a bad investment in the 1980s! 

Back to Saturday....after a food and coffee stop at I think it was “Esquires” in Epsom, sad to say our accompanied enthusiastic nine year old was a bit over enthusiatic on the down escalator (ironically a favourite song title of mine from a band I knew well in Manchester where I lived there in the 1980s...”up the down escalator”). 

Still you are only young once and on this occasion, I luckily went and summoned first aid from Epsom Library staff who were great and brought down two first aid boxes of gear to patch the poor lad up. 

Once outside, my Brompton seemed sluggish as I wheeled it through the pedestrianised shopping centre......ah ha, a flat. 

Obviously a problem with CTC rides as I sustained on in the back tyre in the summer at East Molesey boat club. 

This time it was the front. How anyone gets a puncture in a shopping centre carrying the bike is beyond me, but it must have been sustained earlier in the day on the way to Epsom. 

So default to Epsom station for a train ride back to Sutton (our little wounded soldier and his Mum deciding to do similar but to Worcester Park). 

Upon getting back to Sutton, it was straight down to Balfes (the erstwhile Pearsons) for the usual entertaining chat with Jim and a new inner tube. Unfortunately they had a special offer on a very powerful front light, so being the king of every possible lighting combination for nearly fifty years, I succumbed. Well 1600 lumens isnt bad for a bike (I hate bikers without lights), and cheaper than Amazon too. 

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Brrr! Certainly not Kingston, Jamaica! The Sutton pod, 5 December.

We adapted our original idea, to go to Bushy Park, in order to see the Kingston lights this week, the first weekend since the second Lockdown.  We reckoned that if we left Sutton Library at one we should be able to make a round trip of it before darkness fell.

We took a familiar route through Worcester Park and Tolworth.  It was pretty cold and grey and I was very tempted by the coffee shop at Long Ditton but we carried on through to Hampton Court Bridge, and had coffee there, figuring that although it is traditional to get two thirds of the ride done before the break, Kingston would be crowded with newly-released Christmas shoppers.

Paul, Anna, Roger, Ray, Ken & Maggie in the cold garden awaiting the hot beverages!

In one way we were lucky to get the table for six in the garden but sitting still, albeit with company and a hot drink, was not keeping us warm and nobody was eager to linger.  The temperature had dropped a few degrees when we came out and there were indigo clouds that hinted at snow.  The theory was that if we got moving we would keep warm but the east wind blowing along the river cut right through you.  Isn't it amazing how that mixture of damp wind and impending sleet can make a few degrees above freezing in England more uncomfortable than much lower temperatures on foreign mountaintops, even if you are lucky enough to be wearing Merino wool.

It was perishing on the towpath and in that other delightful English phenomenon, the north easterly wind became a south easterly one as soon as we turned across Kingston Bridge.  So by the time we got to the centre of Kingston none of us was much interested in dawdling to see the lights; home became the priority.

The home route was past the cemetery and through Berrylands before we began to go our separate ways on the south side of Worcester Park Station.  Who should we meet at North Cheam Sainsbury's but Sue Bellamy, fresh from a long walk but grumbling about her Strava failing to record seven miles of it!

We did get back in daylight, just, and we felt we had had a really pleasant if bracing exercise.  Door to door just over 43 kilometres at something over 15 Km/H.  For us to linger at those lights the temperature will have to rise a touch!