Preparing for Winter

I spent some time at the weekend switching the hill climb bike into winter mode. Having finally recovered from the ale rave, I’m now ready to start some serious base mileage.

Vigorelli Path/Track
with Carradice Super C

It’s got some lovely touches, apart from being a beautiful steel frame. The mudguard bosses are hidden underneath the chainstay bridge and the front fork, keeping the lines clean with no need to drill the rear brake bridge. The Brooks is extremely comfy. I think i might switch the bars back to a set of cut down bullhorns; the drops look nice but it’s not the best position when you don’t have hoods, the curve is a bit awkward.

The Super C takes everything i need to carry, with quite a bit of room left over. It’s an essential purchase and stops my back from getting sweaty. Saddlebags are one of the most amazing things I have ever used. I stick my things in a tote bag inside the super C so i can hoick the lot out when i get to the other end. We have secure bike parking, which is nice.

The light on the front is a hope vision one. I have had this light for 4 years now. It’s absolutely perfect for the dark lanes. They are seriously cheap at Wiggle at the moment. The back light is a bontrager ember and a smart lunar. The combination of two flashing lights makes me feel a bit more comfortable.

I’ve just about got used to the 68″ gear again, which is nice. I was worried for a bit.

Get Yourself Seen!

It’s definitely dark out there at 6.15am. The crepuscular inkiness of just a week ago has been slowly subdued by the aggressive and encroaching hours of darkness. I have been using a Hope Vision 1 for the past 4 years now and it is the best light in the world ever. Stick some decent nicads in there and it’s all the light you’ll need. My Dad (of ‘shit off a shovel’ fame) used to call them nicads, so i now find myself calling them nicads in recognition of the fact that I am slowly becoming my dad, but hopefully without the long ponytail and slobbering dogs. The light is of sufficient strength that you have to point it downwards lest you blind the oncoming traffic and it also serves to encourage car drivers to dim their lights before they’ve come round the corner. It’s cracking, highly recommended. However, with a great light comes great responsibility, and to be blunt about it, I’m fed up with being blinded by commuting cyclists in town pumping out more candlepower than a Bastille day son et lumière. Being seen is one thing, being blinded by your fellow road users is another thing altogether.

If this doesn’t make you want dig out that chopper and fire up an ever-ready box lamp then nothing will… the middle eight is arguably the apex of british songwriting over the last 50 years.

I also won some lights in the VC Walcot hillclimb last weekend so promptly stuck these little beauties on the front and back. They strobe quite nicely and with the Hope Vision i feel suddenly a whole lot more visible on the lanes of North Somerset.

lights marginally less bright than incredibly bright club kit 

The only issue i’ve noticed is a similar ‘raising of the game’ amongst car manufacturers. Gone are the anaemic and milky halogens of yore. Nowadays no car is complete without a set of retina-detaching, high-pulse, 6 billion lumen headlights that steer around the corner and blind the hapless cyclist – even when dimmed. Twice this morning I came across some sort of vorchsprung technodrang wagon with lights taken from a CIA interrogation room, but on full beam. I had to stop at the side of the road because i couldn’t see a darn thing. After the car went past (probably bemused by the angry, fist-shaking, blind cyclist) i was left with two pulsing blotches in the centre of my vision for about 5 minutes.

On the way home today a van driver was incredibly considerate at one of Bristol’s hairier junctions. He then stopped a little way up the road. I made a point of stopping and saying thank you. He laughed kindly, said it was no problem and seemed a little relieved that I wasn’t a crazy mentalist. Belle said later that it’s good to thank people for doing good things.


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