Wrapping bars and dressing wounds

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It has been a while since I last wrote. I’ve had one of those periods of time when it is one thing after another, and I’m constantly trying to recover from the last thing when the next comes along. The most recent thing was that I came off my bike on the way to work. One minute I was pedalling happily around a corner in the park, and the next I was hitting the ground hard.

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Pumps and tyres

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I thought I would provide a bit of an update on my bike, the Sprocket Rocket, after riding it in all weathers for about 8 months. I have to say that my appreciation for this bike increases the more I ride it. It is a pleasure to ride, even when it is dark, wet and cold outside. As I mentioned in my original article, it is a bike that wants to go fast. Even though I have ridden it many times, it always surprises me when I first get on and it seems to leap away down the road like an excitable puppy. At the risk of anthropomorphising inanimate objects1, it feels as if it is always calling to you, “Come on! Let’s go!” I’m not particularly into speed, and certainly not into competing, but it makes it a fun bike to ride.

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Candy 1 Pedals

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I mentioned when I wrote about my new bike that I fitted pedal straps — specifically, Restraps. I really like them, and have used a similar (but slightly more flexible) style of straps before on my recumbent bike. However, after using them for a couple of weeks, I found that I had great trouble getting my second foot into the strap. I tried tightening it, loosening it, entering from different angles, but nothing really seemed to help.

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Sprocket Rocket

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I had a cursed rear wheel. After 8 years, my old Fahrrad Manufaktur bike developed a rear wheel puncture problem that defied rational explanation. I had 3 catastrophic punctures in quick succession, with only two journeys (not even return journeys) between each of them, except the last which happened in front the bike mechanic, while the bike was just sitting on its stand in front of her. Pffft! Instant flat tyre.

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Heave To The Towpath

Wind tends to be the perpetual enemy of the cyclist. When you are battling a headwind (and by some quirk of meteorology, it always seems to be a headwind, whichever direction you are cycling in), you feel like Sisyphus. While we were touring around the Isle of Mull by bike some years ago, Mr. Bsag persuaded me that it would be a good idea to go out for a ride in a gale force wind.

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Holland

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I'd never been to Holland before, but I'm sure I'll go again after a week there for a conference and other work business. The people are very friendly and generally laid-back, the towns are pretty and there seem to be quite a lot of nice open spaces, parks and woodlands. But the best two things about Holland are the trains and the cycling environment. We travelled on the train a few times, and apart from one journey where the carriages were over-full and we had to stand, the service was wonderful.

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The wheels nearly came off

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Something weird and slightly creepy happened this week. It all started in an innocuous, if slightly annoying, way. Riding my bike home from work, I found that the back wheel was incredibly stiff. There was a lot of friction, even when freewheeling, and various clunks and creaks were coming from the hub. I checked (so I thought) for any obvious problems, but I couldn't see what might be causing it. I was forced to conclude that my Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub gear was having problems, and needed servicing and perhaps some new parts.

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Shadow sister

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[Something I wrote in my head at the end of last week, cycling home.] The bright full moon is floating down the river, trembling and fractured by the breeze. A rider's lamp behind me spawns my shadow sister, moving in front of me, solid and hunched against the chill. She weaves left and right, now skimming across the grass, now sliding over the gravel path. I'm fascinated by my projected self, encountering the future ahead of me, but keeping me company on this cold, dark night.

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Chopper

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As I cycled through the park yesterday, I saw a young lad on a bike which had the unmistakable outline of a Raleigh Chopper. He was sitting back on the banana seat, hands loosely on the ape-hanger bars, sweeping graceful, joyful curves across the path in the late evening sun. He had a huge grin on his face, and it made me smile just to see how much he was enjoying his ride.

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