Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

Another cycling problem

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

My cycling for exercise continues, but not entirely without incident. I had a day off from exercise on Saturday, when the furthest I went was to walk to the bottom of our garden, perhaps around 30 yards. I got more exercise from the twenty or thirty times a day I walk up and down the stairs, though its only 13 steps.

Staines Reservoir South

Sunday I did get on a bike, for a leisurely ride with Linda, mainly along cycle paths and bridleways. We locked our bikes at the bottom of a footpath that leads up the side of one of the Staines Reservoirs to the path between them. It’s apparently a top bird-watching site, but all we’ve ever seen there is the occasional duck and gull. There was a small bird sitting on a post too far away to identify but possibly a pied wagtail, common around here.

Spot the bird – possibly a duck

We cycled on and took a path to Stanwell Moor, returning to Staines along the bridleway which leads down beside the King George VI reservoir, rather bumpy for cycling but usually deserted, though for some reason we met several largish family groups walking back from Staines Moor. People do go there to paddle in the River Colne in hot weather.

Wraysbury River and M25

Monday I again went to Stanwell Moor, but taking the rather better bridleway beside the M25. It gets a little narrow after a small Thames Water site beside the Wraysbury River, and I put on a face mask for this and the next section where its seldom possible to keep proper distancing when passing others – though there were very few I passed going in either direction. It’s difficult to know why the river is called the Wraysbury River (or Wyrardisbury River) as it doesn’t go to Wraysbury; a stream from it does flow to join the Colne Brook which does – or why locals have always called it the Wraysbury River rather then the River Wraysbury – which Google maps confounds by changing between the two at the Staines By-pass, but the many streams of the lower Colne are altogether something of a mystery.) I made a short diversion at Leylands Lane walking along a narrow footpath that leads to a weir on one of the at least 3 streams of the River Colne here, then retracing my steps to Horton Road to go past the former mill on the main stream there before continuing on to Stanwell Moor Road to return to Staines along the now resurfaced cycle path. What used to be an often painful ride with concrete blocks not quite meeting every few yards jolting the buttocks is now smooth tarmac and a pleasure to ride.

River Colne, Horton Road, Stanwell Moor

Tuesday I decided it was time to face a proper hill again, rather than just the odd railway and motorway bridge we have in our part of Middlesex, and made my way up Egham Hill and Middle Hill to Englefield Green. This time I changed to my smaller chainwheel before the ascent (I’ve learnt it takes a little nudge from my heel to actually get it to move), and while I didn’t find the hill easy arrived at the point I gave up last week feeling much healthier. But I was very much panting for breath, far more than normal. Though I’ve fortunately not had real breathing problems, whatever virus I’d had and still haven’t completely shaken off has clearly left me with some reduction in lung function, and I needed to take a few minutes to get my breath back before continuing on the gentle rise.

Cemetery, Englefield Green

Once at the top it was a really pleasant ride through the village, stopping briefly to take a couple of photographs at the cemetery, then again as I went downhill past Royal Holloway College, and I was really enjoying the ride along the shady undulating road towards Virginia Water when disaster struck. Finding a steeper than expected short section of road I pulled rather enthusiastically back on my gear lever to change down, and shuddered to a halt with a loud grating sound. There is a stop on the rear dérailleur which should have prevented the chain going too far, but somehow it had jumped over the largest sprocket into a narrow gap between that and the spokes and was jammed solid.

Great Fosters

I pulled the bike to the side of the road and found an old glove I carry for dealing with chains, and tried to pull the chain out. It wouldn’t budge. I pulled and pulled – nothing. After several minutes I carried the bike across the road to where there was a pavement and continued. I was feeling pretty desperate; not only could I not ride the bike in this state, but I couldn’t even wheel it – I would have to carry it to move it. I tried harder, now using both hands and not caring about getting oil on me, and took the chain off the chainwheel so there was more to get a handle on. I could now try from both ends of the jam. Finally I got one link out, pushing it away from the wheel as well as pulling, and was encouraged. I thought I could help it a little by turning the wheel, and kept on. Eventually another link came free. I tried harder from the other end of the jam and got another link free, but it was still stuck almost a third of the way round inside the sprocket. I kept trying and finally several links from the other end came free, but there were still two or three firmly stuck. They had to shift I thought, and used all of my weight to jerk the chain out and finally it yielded. It had taken me 20 minutes to free it.

I carefully rerouted the chain to its correct position and set off, taking things easily in case there was any more damage, but it seems to be OK and I got home without any problems though half an hour later than planned – and needing to wash myself and my trousers to get the oil off. I checked the gear setting carefully before my next ride.

Fortunately, Wednesday’s ride was uneventful.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


More exercise-2

Sunday, May 24th, 2020

Thursday I did another photographic ride, quite a lot on various footpaths and exploring small park and woodlands, more than covering my ten miles but at a more leisurely pace. The temperature was well up in the twenties and there was little or no wind and it got very hot in the sun. The pictures here come from this ride.

It was too hot on Thursday night for me to sleep well and I woke on Friday not feeling at my best, with a slight stomach upset and feeling just a little chesty. It was a pleasant temperature – 19 degrees – but rather windy as I set out at 10am for my exercise ride. Wind is a pain for cyclists though it helps to have it behind you but it always seems to be more of the time against, and adds to the effort. I’d decided on a route through some back streets and I got lost, ending up in a dead end behind some houses.

I stopped and got the map out, and found I had cycled too far up a hill and would have to go back around 600 metres. Next I had problems with my gears, finding a very steep short rise and being unable to change down to my lower set on the smaller chain wheel, and coming to a halt. Eventually I managed to move the chain, but made several unsuccessful attempts to start of the steep rise before having the sense to ride across to get started. I struggled up, and at the top simply collapsed. My heart was racing, I was panting heavily for breath and felt slightly sick and rather shaky, and I had to keep sitting on the pavement for around five minutes before I felt well enough to get up.

I thought about giving up and turning for home, but decided since the hill ahead wasn’t as steep and I’d now got my gears more or less sorted to try to carry on. I crossed the main road and struggled on up the hill until I was more or less at the top and then stopped. I was still feeling pretty rotten and decided there was no point in carrying on. I turned around and made for home by a slightly more direct route. For the first half mile I didn’t even have to pedal. But I didn’t quite make my ten miles, just a little over seven before I reached home for a rest on our sofa.

Perhaps I will have to rethink my exercise schedule, though it may be enough just to make myself take it a little easier on the hills and give up and walk rather than forcing myself to ride. It would be easy to avoid hills altogether by staying in south-west Middlesex, one of the flattest areas of the country. All the hills here are man-made, railway and motorway bridges and a little over-generous infill of some gravel sites and none present a great challenge to even elderly cyclists.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Tax Rebellion

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Travelling around London as I do is often frustrating, with traffic often blocking the streets rather than moving through them. If I had any sense I would have picked up my folding bike, a Brompton, and took it with me to get to this protest at City Hall, the home of the Greater London Authority, more or less next to Tower Bridge.

My journey had started badly, with my train into London arriving around 25 minutes late – impressive for a journey which normally only takes 35 minutes. If I’d brought the bike I could have jumped on it and still got to City Hall on time, and if I’d been thinking more clearly I would have rushed down to the Jubilee line station to take a train to London Bridge, leaving me with just a short walk.

But when I’d planned the journey I’d given myself plenty of time, and the bus had two advantages. First my National bus pass meant it was free, and secondly it took me almost to the doorstep of where I was going so I decided to keep to my plan and take a bus. It was a bad call, and as I waited longer and longer at the stop I wondered whether to give up and go back for the tube, but finally the bus arrived and I got on. The first half mile was fine, but then we hit more traffic.

I ran up the path towards the protest, and saw the die-in starting from a couple of hundred yards away. I hadn’t missed it completely but it would have been rather better to have arrived and been available to photograph the start of the event.

The protest was to declare a tax strike against the Greater London Authority, withholding the GLA element of their council tax until they abandon projects which will cause environmental degradation and hasten ecological collapse. They want a citizen’s assembly to re-write the London Plan to stop all infrastructure projects polluting London’s air and invest in measures to cut carbon emissions and encourage healthier lifestyles

Many of London’s problems were made much worse by the abolition of the GLC by Margaret Thatcher back in 1986, leaving the city without any proper overall authority. The GLC under Ken Livingstone had made a good start in improving public transport in the city, but things more or less came to a halt, only to pick up again when he returned as Mayor with the newly formed GLA in 2000. Rail privatisation in 1994 made matters worse, with so many different companies responsible for overground services in the area – and recent franchisees seem even less competent than their predecessors.

The development of London in most respects also took a setback with the election of Boris Johnson as Mayor, who was able to claim the kudos for Livingstone’s cycle hire scheme, but was generally ineffectual, as well as wasting time and considerable money on a garden bridge that served no purpose and few wanted.

Progress with better cycling facilities has been slow, though much of the blame for this lies with the boroughs rather than the GLA. Some boroughs have been clearly anti-cyclist, and a strong lobby from cab drivers organisations has opposed innovation. Progress has been very piecemeal.

The Green Party has of course been pushing for better cycle facilities and other changes that would make London a healthier place, and both Sian Berry and Caroline Russell spoke. There were also protesters against the Silvertown Tunnel, which will greatly increase traffic on both sides of the river, particularly in Greenwich. This has now been given the go-ahead by Mayor Sadiq Khan who seems to have rather less concern for the environment even than his predecessor.

I don’t know how successful – if at all – the tax boycott has been, but I’ve heard nothing about it since. I think it would take rather more than this single protest, where many of those present will not have been London council tax payers, to get such a boycott going on a scale large enough to have any real effect.

XR London Tax rebellion


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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