Saturday, 10 November 2012

Don't tell me what to do

I own four bikes at the moment. Three standard road bikes and a mountain bike, the latter is slowly dying a rusty and corrosive death in my shed alongside a hybrid bike bought for Mrs Mendip Rouleur when she had a short-lived burst of enthusiasm for cycling about six years ago.

Although I'm not riding much at the moment, today's ACG ride was my first and only one of the week (and btw the week runs from Monday to Sunday), and I have only ridden 661 miles since I came back from the Pyrenees at the beginning of September. With the sportive season drawing to a close, and frequent trips to London during the week, and my Dad at weekends, there have been few opportunities for long rides, commuting and social rides respectively.

And my motivation is not really sparked yet by the thought of 2013, well it is in one sense. I am very, very excited at the thought of going to watch the Tour de France in the mountains, my favourite mountains too. And doing some riding with Stuart will be great fun too, and a couple of the days will be really demanding. But it's not a "challenge" in the way that this year's trip was.

So when it's wet, a bit cold and the roads are very muddy and full of leaves, it is hard to get out and ride. And it also means that the bike gets a nice coating of mud and grit, and when the really cold weather comes, it will get a salt wash as well. So all this punishment is a bit of a disincentive to riding, and I have been half-looking for a "winter bike" for the last 18 months. Only thing is, I can't really justify a fourth road bike, especially as the third one is locked in my sister-in-laws garage in Ireland, and would do the job for me.

The idea would be to have a second-hand bike, or one coming to the end of its days, that could be ridden into the ground, never cleaned, and robust enough to take the Winter punishment. As well as fast enough to get me about at a reasonable speed. And yes, maybe even to ride the Hell of the North Cotswolds on. Looks like I need to bring the bike back from Ireland.

Today was an ACG ride, and I decided to do this as today's route. A few hills, some flat, the seaside, and a nice downhill at the end to finish. And there were seven of us to boot, great company and lots of opportunity to chat as well as go on the front. Very, very muddy. And yes, I cleaned the bike now so it's almost as good as new:

Except with just about everything new apart from the frame, cranks, pedals and wheels.

In other news this week I have been sucked into a Twitter debate about helmet compulsion. That's weather they should be compulsory, not the compulsive wearing of cycling protective gear. Although with the accidents that have happened this week, to Saint Bradley and Shane Sutton no-one is safe. Even before then I had been reviewing my safety apparel on the commuter run, after seeing how hard it was to pick out cyclists now the clocks have gone back.

Last week I added these to some of my spokes:

Spoke reflectors. Very uncompliant, but I hope they will reduce my sideswipe accident risk.

The Twitter thing. I posted a reply to someone advocating making helmets compulsory for cyclists. I always wear one, it's my choice, but I know that compulsion, besides being wrong on a philosophical level, actually deters people from cycling. Which causes more health problems from loads of fat kids playing x-box. I speak from personal experience.

Besides, there are very few bike accidents caused to heads without cars being involved. So do we insist that pedestrians wear them? It's only sensible, because if they trip over and bang their head, or worse, get hit by a car mounting the pavement, it will keep them safe. No-one would ever go out walking.

But opponents can't see it. The answer is simple. Make roads safer, tackle driver behaviour by culture change, make cyclists obey the highway code.
Enough, I have a life that needs attending.

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