Monthly Archives: May 2012

What are Bicycle Bells Good For?

P.G. Wodehouse makes delightful use of bicycle bells in the opening chapters of Joy in the Morning, using their musical ting-a-lings to herald a raft of new and hilariously improbable complications into the life of Bertie Wooster as he strolls down the lanes of the pretty, rural village of Steeple Bumpleigh, only to discover, one…

Seeing Red

There are probably few things more irritating to motorists than having to stop for red lights. Most of the time these red lights serve no useful purpose, but merely disrupt the flow of traffic, waste time and energy, and add to the overall frustration of driving anywhere these days. And so it naturally follows that…

Carradice Barley Bag

One of the many things I like about Brooks saddles is the fact that most of their models still come with the old-style saddlebag loops, like those on my B-17. Most saddles these days don’t. Loops are seen as old-fashioned and too cyclo-touristy, not at all in keeping with the mean, keen racing look that…

Sounds of Silence

You can’t hear the twittering of birds in the hedgerows by looking at this photo, or listen to the soft insistent whirring of insects in the tall grass and amongst the cow parsley that’s flourishing along the side of the road – and that’s the point of this post, a sort of wondering aloud why it is that so many cyclists choose to ride with ear buds in their ears and listening to their iPods. Each to their own, of course, and I can understand the attraction of riding to a soundtrack of your own choosing, something to inspire or soothe and make the miles pass even more agreeably, but all the same it is not something I could ever imagine myself wanting to do.

Faithful Landmarks

Nearly every morning, and for quite some time now, I ride past this old coronation clock on the Bexhill seafront. It was put up in honour of King Edward VII back in the days when Bexhill was an elegant seaside resort where luminaries such as Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India came to take the…

Don’t Force It, Get A Bigger Hammer

I’ve always been a reasonably dab hand when it came to looking after my bikes and making them go again when bits stopped working, but a few years ago I decided I needed to learn a whole more. With that in mind I signed up for a two-week residential course in bicycle maintenance at the Bike Inn, up in Lincolnshire, which would lead to my earning a City & Guilds qualification as a bicycle mechanic and wheel builder.

The course was taught by Alf Webb, an old-school bicycle shop owner and mechanic who’d had about fifty years’ experience in the trade and knew all the tricks – the ones that were shrewd and clever and would save you time and possibly money, and he put you wise to the old wives’ tale myths.

Two Englands

There are days when I wonder why I ever moved to England, when I decide this is a crazy place to live: stressful, crowded, expensive, and mindlessly, exuberantly bureaucratic. But then I slip away down the lanes on my bicycle on fine warm spring mornings such as this, with the last of the season’s bluebells still in flower along the roadside and honeyed sunshine dipping through the branches and suddenly I feel incredibly fortunate to be living here, pedaling through such storybook landscapes, and feeling as though I’d ridden into the pages of some cozy old novel. And then, as I spin along these pretty Sussex lanes, I find myself thinking what a splendid place England is and how I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Lugged Stems

Whenever I take my Pegoretti out for a spin two thoughts always go through my head: a.) how incredibly lucky I am to possess such a bicycle and b.) the notion that I am pedalling down the street on a work of Italian fine art; a kinetic sculpture in Columbus Spirit tubing, a lovely lightweight steel drawn in Milan, joined with ornate lugwork, then brazed with silver in Dario Pegoretti’s workshop in Caldonazzo.

It really is a beautiful bicycle, and beautifully finished too, but of all the exquisite detailing on it, the thing that delights me most when I am spinning along the lanes is this lugged stem.

The Magic Step

One of the pleasantest things in the world is to set off on a bicycle ride. It doesn’t have to be anywhere special. An early morning turn along the seafront will do, or even just dropping down to the shops to pick up a carton of milk or a newspaper or to run an errand…

Being Broad Minded on Tyres

As we all tend to do about ourselves, I like to think that I am a broad-minded chap. That may or may not be the case with the general run of things but when it comes to road bike tyres that’s God’s own truth; I am broad-minded. Not for me the super skinny racing tyres…