When I got the bike out on Thursday, the back wheel was a little flat, so I topped the air up and made my way to work, the tyre stayed up to work and back, but obviously it needed investigation.

Saturday morning the tyre is completely flat, time to put the puncture repair kit to good use.

First hurdle, the set of spanners I bought has smaller and larger sizes but not the one I actually need for the wheel nuts and the “spanner” provided with the bike won’t shift them 🙁

Quick trip to B&Q sorts that out and armed with a rudimentary knowledge I fumble my way through the process, however I can’t find the cause of the micro-puncture.

Quick jaunt along the canal again and everything seems fine…

This morning, come out at 4:30am to set off for work and the back wheel is flat again, guess I’ll have to do it all again this afternoon, till then I’m gonna have to use the car as a backup 🙁

Did a couple of practice runs this weekend, one a nice flat route along the canal, the other a test of the route I’m planning on using up the hill to work.

I’m still finding that the slightest gradient has me gasping for air, but I’m sure that my stamina will build up in time.

On the advice of one of my work colleagues, I’ve raised my saddle and upped the pressure in the tyres. Since the bike came with none of the tools I need (such as a pump) I’ve had to pick them up over the weekend. The tyres, which felt solid to the touch were actually half the pressure they needed to be.

The adjustments seem to have made some difference, but maybe that’s just the placebo effect.

Well I got to work, so I’ve got to get back!

The intelligent route obviously didn’t work, so maybe its time to try brute force and ignorance…

The route I use when I’m driving is fairly straight, but has a climb up a hill each way.

Using a combination of ride a bit, push a bit I got up the hill, but riding the last bit tired me out a lot more than I expected.

Reaching the highest point of my route, I decided to stop for a moment to catch my breath. Coming to a stop outside the Post Office I put my leg down only to have it decide it wasn’t playing. Slowly, still sat on the bike I keeled over and was left horizontal on the grass verge, people in cars waving to me as they went past.

However, despite the pushing and lying down, I made it home in 35 minutes 😀

Put the bike together last night, so this morning I’m taking the plunge and making my first journey to work.

How hard could it be? I used to ride for miles when I was a kid.

I’d allowed an hour to get to work, about a 4 mile journey by car I elected to take a slightly longer but flatter route to work.

By the end of the street my legs were on fire, but at least I’d managed to get the infernal thing going in a straight line. The downhill bit was easy, but the first climb to the beginning of the country lane winded me within seconds!

Oh well, push the bike for a little bit and on to the flat lane. No problem until I come to one of those weird barriers they put up, only way through was to get off and push the bike through on it’s back wheel.

The next bit looked perfectly flat to me, however the bike (and my legs) obviously didn’t think so. After a couple of stops I made it to a nice downhill stretch, I knew there was a hill at the other side, but build up a bit of speed and hopefully I could get a start on it.

Oh no, some sadist has decided to put another gate right at the bottom of the dip forcing cyclists to get off and start the climb from a standstill 🙁

I ended up walking most of the way to work, pushing the bike and took an hour and a half 🙁

Well after 25 years I’ve decided to buy myself a bike to save some money on petrol.

The original idea was just to get to work and back, but after the usual strange conversations at work, the question was asked, how far would it be to ride from home to Australia.

The answer it turns out (minus the underwater bits and making the route interesting) is about 12,800 miles.

So, just for the hell of it, I’m going to be keeping a log of my mileage and seeing how long it takes me to cover that distance!!

A rough calculation (based on 6 mph, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week) comes out at about a year, after 17 days, I’m averaging 5.7 miles a day so more like 6 years!!!

View On Yer Bike in a larger map

(PS, the date I’ve given this post to maintain a timeline is the day I got my bike so I can add a few additional observations of my first few days)


on November 22, 2010 in Hardware | No Comments »
Whilst moving house I realised how much space all my books actually take up. I’d seen the Kindle advertised on Amazon and decided to take the plunge. I started out using the free application for the PC and was happy with the ease of use, so eventually stumped up the cash for the reader.

I’m glad I did, my first worry was eye strain through reading off a screen, but this doesn’t seem to be a problem since the e-ink isn’t backlit (If you want to read under the bedclothes then you’ll need a torch – although you can get a case with one built in). The screen is nice and clear and you can adjust the font size to suit.

The menus are easy to navigate, and if you want to add books that you’ve got from another source it shows up as a flash drive when you connect it to your PC and happily adds these books to your list.

If you keep using the reader on your PC it will also synch across both platforms so that it will pick up where you left the book on the other device.

There are a few negatives, none of which are a deal-breaker.

To start with, the reader itself has all the personality and charm of a pocket calculator, this is easily (though expensively) fixed with the addition of a leather cover  – available in a variety of colours – which give it the look and feel of a proper book.

I’ve also found that the power switch is in a place where it gets caught when I put it in my coat pocket, if it gets snagged for over 15 seconds the unit reboots. It then goes back to the last bookmark which is where you last came out of the book rather than where you are up to.

The other thing is that by default the Kindle places all your books in the main menu. You can group the books into collections (by author for instance) but this is a manual process and rather time consuming especially if you get a fraction of the way towards the 3,500 books the device can hold.

The books also remain in the same directory on the device, far better, IMO, would be to have the device recognise folders as collections and automatically create them. On the flip side, I’d like it to create folders to match the collections I create and move the books there.

Since the books are DRM protected, you can’t actually lend them out or sell them on like you would a paperback copy (although there are ways round this) which makes me believe that the prices Amazon charges (often the same as a physical book) aren’t entirely fair.

Amazon sells two versions of the Kindle, but for most users the cheaper Wi-Fi version will be enough, the only reason I can see to pay the extra £40 for the 3G connectivity is if you don’t have an internet connection at home.

The Kindle has a battery life of 3 to 4 weeks and charges happily from any USB socket, so it is very travel friendly and is certainly going to take up a lot less of your weight allowance on the plane, although I’m not sure I’d be happy leaving it on the sun lounger whilst I took a quick dip in the pool.

Not all books have been converted over to the Kindle yet, but there is a good selection and especially if you’re into classic literature there are a wealth of books available for free, and it’s always worth checking the site for limited time freebies that are used to advertise various authors.

In a sickening twist to the election campaign, Labour has targetted 250,000 women to receive postcards warning that a Tory government would kill them by delaying treatment for breast cancer. Many of the targetted individuals have personal experience of the disease.

There is some question as to what data was used to select these people for the personalised mailshot, but even if it was from statistical analysis rather than access to medical records such an advertising campaign goes well beyond the usual war of words between the two parties.

Targetting these people is bad enough, but surely it would have been far mare palatable to promote the proveable improvements in care brought in by the current government rather than the speculative decline under a future one.

AC/DC had Bon Scott and Angus Young, the rest of the band (visually) faded into the background, the heirs to the throne Airbourne, have Joel O’Keeffe a frontman infused with the ghost of Scott and the spirit and energy of Angus.

Erupting onto the stage with ‘Raise the Flag’ the crowd immediately roused out of the stupor induced by the two support bands and the stage was set  for an hour and a half of high energy rock. With hardly a pause for breath Airbourne powered through their set.

Halfway through ‘Girls in Black’, the band go into an instrumental as Joel jumps off the stage to run the length of the front row, playing all the while. Next thing he’s disapeared, we can still hear his guitar, but he’s disapeared into the crowd. A moment later he’s back, not on stage but coming down the aisle in the circle across the front row of the balcony and out through the emergency exit stage right!!!

Back on stage the energy never seems to dim whether leaping from the drum riser or rocking from the top of the amps, O’Keefe is never still, behind the mic for just enough time to belt out the lyrics before he’s off again.

Just when you think things can’t get any better ‘No Way But the Hard Way’ lights another fuse and the crowd errupt somehow finding a hidden reserve as the band leave the stage with ‘Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast’

The pause before the encore is brief, the rest of the band starting a heavy riff and getting a little limelight before O’Keefe leaps back onto the stage with renewed energy to lead the band into ‘Runnin Wild’ and the final number ‘Stand Up For Rock ‘N’ Roll’

Labour have unveiled their new election poster depicting David Cameron sat on the front of a red Audi Quattro. Depicting the oposition as a cult hero probably isn’t the message they were trying to get across, but give most people the choice and Gene Hunt (non-pc, detective from hit series Ashes to Ashes) would probably gain more votes than any of the party leaders.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Mr Cameron would take Britain back to the “meaner and more brutal” Britain of the 1980s. I suppose this is supposed to be worse than the namby-pamby Labour years when criminals are let off with a slapped wrist and a fine that they’ll never bother to pay.

Had to come back and edit this one…

Labour unveiled their poster at 10:40am

By 2:45pm the Conservatives had retaliated with their own take…

In case you can’t read the small print “Idea kindly donated by the Labour Party”

Astronaut Captain Charles “Chuck” Baker is on a mission to boldly go where no man has gone before, the supposedly uninhabited Planet 51, so he is rather suprised to find himself in a small town in 50’s America, with one important difference, the residents are green.

Being the era of sci-fi B movies, the residents of Glipforg are terrified by the prospect of being turned into zombies by alien invaders of which Chick is their first real example. With the aid of Lem and his friends and space probe Rover, Chuck has to get back to his ship within 74 hours or be stranded on this distant planet.

This animation is obviously aimed at the younger generation, and the storyline and style will keep kids enthralled for the duration. But hiding in the background is a humour that adults will understand and kids won’t. Just the thing to keep the adults entralled as well.

If your a fan of sci-fi, then there are plenty of references to classic movies, from the alienesque dog Ripley who pees acid to the handbook on what to do if your town is attacked by a 50-foot woman. The film follows the B-movie cliche with the obvious twist that the human is the “alien” on this world, faced with the shoot em first, ask questions later mentality of the inhabitants.

If you have kids then buy this movie, if you haven’t then borrow some first.