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Papa’s Got a Brand New Bike

Papa’s Got a Brand New Bike

I’m not one to concern myself too much with the opinions of others but there comes a point when enough people point out that your bike’s front fork only appears to have 2 of the 4 inches of travel that it’s supposed to have, that it probably makes sense to take a look at it.

This tipping point was reached in January and I set about trying to service my front fork, it’s worth pointing out that despite having owned this fork for about 7 years and it serving on two different bikes it had never been serviced. It should have come as no surprise that it did not want to be serviced. Like a grumpy old man who refuses to bathe it put up quite a fight. After a couple of hours wrestling with the brute Jim and I gave up and got drunk.

After Googling this issue all the advice was “hit harder with a hammer”, this approach also works for smelly, defiant old men. I was rewarded with limited success. By repeatedly whacking rebound adjuster the tubes eventually released the stanchions, however the process crushed a thread making reassembly impossible. Time for a new fork.

In search of a new fork I inadvertently happened upon the dream bike frame sitting on ebay for very little money. It was 7 years old but still a lot of bike. Figuring that I could harvest most of the bits off the old bike and seeing as I had to buy a new fork anyway I decided it might make sense to start a new project.

For the most part this has been a good plan. Aside from a few incompatible parts having to be returned the build has been successful and I now have a Santa Cruz Tall Boy LT. I did have to borrow a seat post off competitive Jim as my dropper post was 0.5mm too big for the new frame.

It’s first outing was last Thursday and it was not the bike that let me down but my light. Despite the battery being on charge all day the light did not come on when I tested it before departure. It being the 11th hour and with fellow bikers waiting for me I decided to head off and hope someone could lend me a light.

Pete lent me a very decent light but it had to be bar mounted. “So what?” I hear you cry. The problem with this is that your bike is not always pointing where you want or need to see. A bar mounted light moves as you react to the terrain where as a helmet mounted light can remain pointing ahead to reveal the trail regardless what your bike is doing.

The result of this is that you have to take snap shots of what’s coming up as the light on your bars follows the wheels and swings wildly across the path ahead of you. It’s tantamount to using the force.

I gingerly picked my way down the first descent, The Flowhouse, using a combination of strobe effect lighting and memory. I had a slow motion over the bars moment half way down when memory failed me but there was no harm done.

Our second descent was The Devil’s Elbow, a fast rocky path that I’d not done for years. A couple of times I thought I was done for as the wheel straightened out and revealed the boulders and drops ahead too late to do much about avoiding them. It was with a tangible sense of wonder and relief that I reached the bottom unscathed.

Having expected to stumble out of the woods carrying nout but a handle bar and spitting out undergrowth; to find myself at the bottom with my homemade bike in one piece was quite a bonus. It bodes well for next week’s adventure – Bike Park Wales!

Cyclists don’t pay road tax so it’s OK to knock them off their bikes.

Cyclists don’t pay road tax so it’s OK to knock them off their bikes.

This is a philosophy I was unaware of until the outraged Twitteratti got hold of the issue following a tweet by Emma Way who had posted the following on the 19 May 2013:

“Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier – I have right of way he doesn’t even pay road tax! #bloodycyclists”.

Perhaps more disturbing than the obvious concerns about irresponsible driving, is the perceived moral high ground associated with paying “road tax”, which hasn’t existed since 1937 and there has been no correlation between vehicle tax and expenditure on roads since then. How many motorists are bowling around with a similar sense of righteous indignation imbued by paying a tax they don’t pay and doesn’t exist?

I consider myself a careful driver, and more importantly a polite and considerate one. I’m a believer in the philosophy of road karma, which goes like this: I let someone pull out, this puts them in a good mood and makes it more likely they will be generous and considerate to other road users. My goodwill is passed on through the driving community making the roads a safer, nicer place to be. Maybe this is naive, but on many occasions, when I’ve left room for an exasperated soul to join the main flow of traffic, I’ve seen them pass on this favour to another driver at the next junction – instant road karma.

How many times have you seen driving that has made your blood run cold? Where centimetres have been the difference between getting to where you’re going and a catastrophic pile up, usually as a result of an impatient “person” in a high powered saloon weaving in and out of traffic in an attempt to gain a couple of extra metres. How many times have you wanted to say to another driver: “get out of my arse”, “would it kill you to use your indicators”, “why are you trying to kill both of us?”, “please stop driving like a twat!”

Can the police be expected to pursue matters of road etiquette? Of course not, I wouldn’t expect them to as most people drive like they have Miss Daisy in the back of the car when they see a copper. It’s the everyday road user that bares witness to the potential carnage caused by a basic lack of manners and maybe they should be the ones to record it.

It’s no good fumbling for a pen or trying to remember the number plate of the car that’s just forced you to swerve into the outside lane of the M1, because they couldn’t be bothered to check their mirrors or indicate. We all know that without evidence there is no case. So why not give all car drivers the tools to gather court worthy evidence?

With the advent of instant upload tools we can easily share moments of our day with anyone and everyone, is it beyond the realms of possibility to take this technology and build it into a car, as standard. Why not mount a couple of HD cameras in a car, one facing forward and the other facing backwards and constantly record journeys on a hard drive? Enable the driver to highlight moments of dangerous driving from the drivers console and then synch these segments of footage to a smart phone for sharing with the police at the end of the journey. I like to think that just the threat of having your obnoxious driving caught on film, by anyone, could act as an incentive to be a bit nicer to other road users.