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Archive for February, 2011

Last week I lost my iPhone. I didn’t report this here earlier because I was too distraught to type it out loud. I stuck a lost post on gumtree in hope but truthfully, I am not hopeful.

The reason it’s pertinent here is that I was either cycling when I lost it or lugging my bike around my half-locked-up office. Its last known whereabouts was in my cycling jacket’s pocket. I turned it off vibrate, put it in my pocket and zipped up said pocket. Or did I? If I did, it could easily have worked free as all the jacket pocket zips have a loop of elastic for easy opening on the top. If it didn’t, it fell out of my pocket while I was faffing about with the bike cupboard of woe.

I hate the bike cupboard of woe. I’ve managed to avoid using it for the nine months I’ve been in my job but a spate of bike thefts made me rethink leaving Bella in the corridor on my floor. So for the last few weeks I’ve lugged (after all she is a steel-framed old Raleigh) her down the extra flight of stairs, round the impossibly tight three-door turn and into the usually-over-crammed room where the bikes are supposed to live.

It is woeful for several reasons.
1.The extra stairs, both on entry and exit.
2. The extra 5 minutes that it adds, flipping me from “bang on time” to ” a bit late”.
3. The three-door fiasco. The walls now have an extra set of blue lines from every bash I’ve been unable to avoid.
4. When I finally arrive, the cupboard is usually full of bike and boxes.
(5. And it smells a bit weird.)

On the night in question I was retrieving my bike from the cupboard, through the labyrinthine system of doors thanks to the cleaner locking all but the spiral-staircase access route. I was late, I was flustered – ever been 5″2″ and tried carrying a Raleigh up a spiral staircase? I had a couple of extra bags, and there’s a good chance in all my overcarrying, the phone slipped from my pocket and now is in the mitts of one of the cleaners. Not to place blame.

Option two is that it fell out of my pocket while cycling. And while cycling from Islington to Trafalgar Sq by some of London’s busiest roads and thanks to my impatience, often in the centre of the road, between cars on dark side streets. It was also raining a bit.

When I arrived to discover it was missing, I came the nearest I ever have to a panic attack.

Tips? Don’t put expensive things in your pocket and then cycle. But where do you put your iPhone when you cycle? If only I had one of these. Advice accepted.

And if you’re the bastard who’s playing scrabble on my account, GIVE ME BACK MY PHONE.

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My nemesis the wind

Pouring with rain or blustery? Pouring rain every time please. At least you can cover yourself from the rain and emerge like a butterfly from your waterproof cocoon on arrival. The wind just destroys me. In town it always seems to be nose on, no matter where I am going… Odd. I wonder if it’s because all the buildings create a wind tunnel, channeling the wind around the city and into my face. I sometimes feel like a kid being held by the forehead and peddling peddling peddling but getting nowhere.

How I feel in the wind

How I feel in the wind

I arrive at work red in the face, puffed out with hair everywhere (despite being under my helmet) and ready to collapse. Not the best start to the day. I change into my smart(er) shirt and plonk myself down on at my desk and hope no one asks my perspiring face any questions. Bloody wind.

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A wet cyclist

It hasn’t rained in the morning in London for so long I can’t remember where I put my waterproof trews.

When I do find them I remember why I put them away.

Style and waterproof are not synonymous adjectives for clothing.

It actually doesn’t rain as much in London as you might think. I have been rained on less than 20 times in nearly a year. Which is good odds though hard to concentrate on when you’re blowing raindrops out of your eyes and resorting to drying your socks on the back of your computer.

Wet cycling

Great pic I found on Flickr - not tried it with a brolly yet!

The first day I got my kitten I was so worried about him that I decided to peddle it home in lunch time to check on him and race back. At the time the commute was a pleasant canal-side jaunt that took 20 minutes door to door. So 20 minutes to get there, 20 minutes to discover the little cat was absolutely fine and fast asleep, and 20 minutes back again. Except on the return journey the heavens opened and the towpath took on the appearance of the canal and I returned to work drenched, clammy and grumpy. If a change of clothes had been to hand, a cup of tea and a biscuit would probably have righted the mood but as instead, tea provided a warm lifeline as I shivered out the rest of the afternoon.

Last night I checked the Met Office app which predicted rain. So I should have got my trousers out the night before. This morning, it was indeed raining. The worst thing about cycling in the rain is thinking about it. I love this guide to cycling in the rain on the Tredz blog. Especially the tea tip. Once you pull on your waterproof togs and get on with it, it’s not so bad. It’s only water. Don’t wimp out, there’s tea at the end.

As a girl, when you see those rain drops, it’s time to ditch the heels. I can’t afford to buy new waterproof shoes or covers so I generally go for trainers that dry fast and leave a pair of work-sensible shoes or boots at the office. Slippery pedals and road and high heels don’t mix. I will talk about heels in general at a later date.

Boys can just change, rub a hand over their hair and look fine. We (or I at least) not so much. We have the problem of hair, make up, skincare and creased clothes. And I work at a super relaxed dress-code-less office. Here’s how I cope:

Handy to have at work:

    A small towel
    Little back-up pack of make up essentials
    Body spray
    Curby gribs/hair elastic/comb
    A jumper. It’s always colder in the office than on the bike

Hair: No matter how cool your helmet, it’ll have holes. Great in the hot weather when you need your head to breathe but soggy in the rain. The moment you feel a great big rain drop cold on your scalp you know the game’s up. The best I do is have a variety of emergency hairstyles to combat wet-fringe. Curby grips and a comb at your desk are essential tools and really, if you’re dedicated, you’ll get a helmet-friendly hairstyle. Cycle helmetless? Your whole head will be wet and that’ll teach ya. (Again, the helmet debate will be visited at some point..).

Make up: Ruined. Do it at work. Or don’t wear it. My daily face is reduced now to a slather of moisturiser, a brush of the eyebrows and on arrival at my desk, a pouf of powder to mop up the shine. How the mighty have fallen. All that Clinique and Benefit I have not resisted over the years lain to waste…But if you’re less lazy than me and can be bothered to get into work 10 minutes early, you can do it in the loos of course.

Clothes: I wear a tank top underneath my hi-vis waterproof jacket. At work I change this for a shirt/smart tshirt/something-i-haven’t-just-sweated-in. If it’s not raining I just cycle in trousers or jeans. If it is raining, I fold up my shirt and jeans/trews in a plastic bag and put them in the basket and don my sexy grey waterproof trews. These make me invincible.

Sensitive skin and cycling are not happy bedfellows either. Stay tuned for my answer this this conundrum tomorrow. Complete with picture of me in my ninja attire. It’s worth the wait, I promise.

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Cycling extends life?

TFL cycling ad campaign

Is this true?

Really? Have you tried cycling down Shaftesbury Ave at rush hour? (No? Very sensible).

I don’t know anything about this campaign and as I’m already wheeled I guess it’s not marketed towards me but is it really true? Possibly, if you stop being a couch potato, get cycling, realise hills are a challenge and revolutionise your diet to amend for this then perhaps it is. But if you’re quite fit anyway, will putting yourself in the wheelway of lorries and absent minded drivers extend your life?

Sometimes the sheer joy of flying down Inderwick Road with full knowledge and avoidance tactics of the pot holes is all I need to think life is wonderful. But sometimes when I’m getting yelled at because a van driver isn’t looking and tries to turn left onto me, I wonder if such bouts of rage cut my days on this earth by a little bit every time.

It’s a cool poster though and the more people that cycle, the less cars there’ll be and the more aware (potentially) they will become. London Cyclist has a really cool round up of all the TFL promo posters. I always loved the one of London landmarks as bike bits.

So, on yer Boris bike.

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A bump

Two weeks ago I had my first biking accident.

Not my first mishap, had a few of them, but my first genuine cycling accident. But because it gave me a concussion I can’t say what happened.

I can say that it has made me re-think my position on cycling. On drinking and cycling, on bike lights and visibility, on potholes, and on downhill.

A couple of Tuesday nights ago, I arrived home with bruised ribs and shoulder, a broken (plastic) ring and scraped knuckles, a bleeding knee, cut hip and a ripped hi-vis windcheater jacket. I also arrived with an egg on my head which explains why I don’t remember how I acquired any of the previous injuries. My bag (in which was stored my iPhone, wallet and passport) was missing but I had managed to safely bring home the box of Bran Flakes that were for some reason in my backpack. I had a concussion, was talking gibberish, couldn’t remember where I had been or how I’d got back, let alone what happened. I was too dazed to care that I didn’t have my bag and promptly went into shock and was wrapped up warm by my boyfriend and sat on the electric blanket while I shivered.

Perhaps if I remembered more I’d be more put off cycling but actually I’m really just revealed I wasn’t hurt worse. I had to take two days off work, went to A&E to have my head checked and stayed off the bike for a week. The following day the police called my office to let them know they’d found my bag. It’d been found on the doorstep of a lady called Rachel. She handing it in complete with everything it had contained. Two weeks later I’m back to normal. I’m even going to attempt yoga tonight.

Since then, I’ve bought new bicycle lights (Cateye loops very snazzy), a super duper new titanium helmet (Bell very sexy). And I’ve started this blog. Which I want to fill with cycling gear info, reviews, stories, photos, great things about cycling, safety stuff and cool cycling clothes like these. On yer bike.

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