Cycling vignettes – 01/02/12


Very cold cycle into work as it was below freezing. I bought a (fairly cheap) high-viz jacket a month or so ago and it’s surprisingly warm considering it’s not all that thick. It also keeps out the wind which when cycling along the Thames (along Millbank) is really important as the sub-zero breeze coming off the water is really icy.

I’m noticing that at this time of year there are very few ‘normal’ cyclists around (by normal I mean ‘people like me’). Instead, it’s predominantly the hardcore cycling set. These are male, 20-35 who have all the gear and favour racing ‘road’ bikes. Also, and as an observation, if you asked me to state the ratio of male:female riders I see on my morning or evening commute, my estimate would be 10:1. Women just don’t seem to cycle anywhere near as much, certainly not on the cycle superhighways anyway. Instead it’s the ‘snowboarder’ set, youngish, sporty, lycra-clad, competitive men who cycle as fast as they can as if their lives depend on it. I imagine this is very different to commuting by bike on the Continent, in say, Amsterdam, Berlin or Copenhagen – but then – we know all that.

Anyway, I had ordered a fairly cheap ‘ding-dong’ old fashioned large, 80mm chrome retro bell online  which came in today, so I fitted that at lunchtime. The tiny bell that my bike came with is too fiddly to be useful and as I work in the West End, pedestrians are a constant obstacle to deal with as they rarely look where they’re going.


Was turning lights on and gearing up to leave the office on my bike when one of the exec directors passed by me and asked about my bike. He remarked how big it looks (it’s a frame size large). I left with a colleague who has a folding bike, so yes, in comparison it is large!

Cycled from the office down a side-street only to hear a ‘clang’ as something fell off the bike. Slowed down and did a U-turn (luckily there were no cars on this quiet street!) and it turned out that the D-lock had fallen off. Whilst having been distracted by this senior colleague when I was gearing up to go, I hadn’t properly fixed and locked it to its bracket. Oops. A young couple picked up both parts and brought them over to me.

Very cold cycle home. The gloves I bought online (with a beanie) a while back are not any good below about +5c and this evening it was below zero on the cycle home. Will need to get new gloves soon as I could feel my fingers going numb.

Ding-dong bell worked well. VERY loud. It does tend to buzz/ring a bit (!) when going over bumps which may take some getting used to but that’s due to its size.

In not so good news, I read that there was a serious accident between a Boris Bike and an HGV today. Amazingly – and thankfully – the cyclist was not seriously hurt.

7 thoughts on “Cycling vignettes – 01/02/12

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  1. I’d like to say I’m a cyclist, but life doesn’t permit me to at the moment 😦 that said, I cycled to work for 5 or 6 years, and as soon as my husband and I work at different workplaces (so I don’t have to drive him to work) I’ll be back on the bike.

    I know another female regular cycle commuter who is not me, so I guess the ratio is pretty dang low, like you say… Regarding ‘normal’ vs ‘hardcore’ I found it was something that grew on me slowly. My normal jeans and casual clothing that I wore whilst cycling, for example, wore out on the inner thighs from brushing against the saddle, so I replaced it with lycra… I discussed cycling with colleagues, next thing you know, I’ve bought cleats and new pedals… much of the hardcoreness is practicality, really. A wicking shirt is so much nicer to wear in the heat than a cotton shirt that just soaks up the sweat and leaves you wet.

    Watch out, you’ll never even notice the decline 😉

  2. You are brave and I think of you cycling every time I read of the accidents.
    You may need to invest in some ski gloves – not the bulky ones but the light weight – almost nylon looking that are a special warming material.
    Now have you tried cycling in snow yet? I am always amazed when I see people doing that here!!
    Ding dong…..

  3. I’m an older “got hard core” this past summer (20-30 was long ago, 35 not so much but enough to matter). I have all of the gear, the little boots, shoes, pedals, jacket, gloves, I’ve got it all… I can ride comfortably down to 0 but I’d rather ride on my trainer in my office when it’s colder than 3. It keeps me young both physically and mentally. I just love going fast. Happy riding (but stay safe for crying out loud, I can’t believe all of the horror stories I’ve read about over there).

  4. Yochannah – I think I’m already in decline! Have bought quite a lot of kit all told. I am looking forward to easing off the gloves, jackets, etc as we move into spring. Hope you’ll be back to cycling again soon!

    Birdy – I bought some new (though fairly cheap, but windproof) gloves today. The more you pay, the thinner they get. These aren’t TOO bulky. Haven’t cycled in the snow yet but have cycled in subzero temps much of this year which is bracing!!

    BG – glad you’re still enjoying it! Yeh, I think you start to acquire more and more gear without even thinking about it. It is very good for you mentally as well as physically, I agree.

  5. Whilst I am envious of your newfound love of cycling – I think about doing it all the time but never actually do anything about it – I think you are TOTALLY insane to ride in London, remembering it as fondly as I do 🙂 Stay safe! x

  6. Hen – It’s not as bad as it sounds when you get to know your route! I ought to try jogging in one day, too!

    Mancais – it’s enjoyable isn’t it?

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