Bye for now

Friends and followers, I have decided it’s time to let Pedalling on Regardless go and give this site a decent burial.  I hope you have found some items of interest or use to you, but I feel I have run out of steam and can’t maintain a cycle-specific site anymore.  My interests have widened over the last two or so years and it’s time to close up shop.

The domain name and registration is due to end in mid May and I will not renew.  Thanks for all the encouragement, likes and comments over the years and I hope our paths may cross again sometime in the future.  All the best….

Cycling – free under the air

When Jacqui and I started cycling we were both in reasonably high pressure jobs. Cycling on day runs of short tours had to be fitted in as time and work allowed.

However, we soon came to see cycling as a way of releasing us from the pressures of work.  We knew that two hours into a run we would begin to relax.  We referred to cycling as our ’emotional laxative’: it freed up bits of us physically and mentally and helped us relax.  This relaxing was very obvious and happened pretty well ever time we went out for a few hours or days on the bikes.

IMG_0829
Translation: No Dual Carriageways Ahead

At the time we though this was down to the rhythm of pedalling and the physical demands of the exercise.  We both knew that exercise was a good way of reducing stress and assumed that was what was going on.  Cycling seemed to reduce our stress, ‘in the moment’ and overall.  Jacqui has done yoga and meditation for years: I knew something about ‘mindfulness’ and so we assumed that cycling was a form of mindful activity that put us in touch with our breathing and so our thoughts.

Likewise, when I used to commute to work, the cycle home was always a chance to re-visit the battles of the working day, celebrate the ones I’d won and re-run the ones I had lost.  I never failed to come home more energised and refreshed than I had left work.

I put this down at the time to the emotional release that came from physical exercise and the rhythm of the ride. But now an alternative explanation has presented itself.

I am reading, Richard Louv’s, “Last Child in the Woods: saving our children from Nature-Deficient Disorder”.  It’s fascinating, in part because Louv has the ability to use words to say what others have felt for themselves, but have not been able to express, so his reflections reframe his readers’ experiences.

His big point is that children and adults alike benefit from being in nature – out in the wilds if possible.  Nature opens the individual’s senses and lifts their spirits.  As he puts it, “The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses”.

Photo on 25-03-2017 at 09.56

By Louv’s ideas, nature is part balm, part stimulant and altogether an anti-depressant. So. is it possible that this was what was going on when we were out on our bikes?  Could it be being in nature for a few hours or days works the magic, rather than the exercise I thought was the key? Did my cycle-commutes home relax me because my route home took me along the Aberdeen seafront?

One well-remembered fact speaks to the truth of this.  Just beyond Aberdeen’s football stadium a tunnel takes you through onto the esplanade.  I never once made that turn onto the beach-front without a whoop of joy as I saw, heard and felt the force of the North Sea waves as they came to shore.  Whatever the weather conditions, however good or bad, the effect was always the same – a sense of elation and release, immediate and powerful in the same moment.

Next time we are out on the bikes we will have something else to talk about: but in truth whatever the answer, it will only be another reason to be thankful that its possible to be out there on the bike, hearty and reasonably healthy – pedalling on regardless, if you like.

 

Back in the saddle

I’m in recovery. From a head-cold and a bad case of the winter doldrums – as far as exercise goes. I’ve kept busy in the workshop over the months since Christmas, but the bikes have hardly seen the light of day.

Today I cycled to the university and Sports Village.  That makes for a nice six and a half K downhill run.

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 17.16.25

At 21 minutes in traffic it seemed fast to me: I wondered why?  Any guesses?  All will be revealed.

My physio had directed me to the gym.  He wants me doing resistance exercises to strengthen calves and gluts – in the hopes of ending my chronic recurrence of calf tears.  I dutifully did my 3 reps of 1 minute ‘pushing’ against a ‘dead’ treadmill set to a decent incline.

I thought I’d have my first go on an exercise bike.  I have avoided them like the plague in the past.  To be honest, I was a bit surprised.  I dialled up a run through Provence: and with a mate alongside it was almost enjoyable as we chatted away.  I might well add this to my winter fitness regimes in the future.

Then it was back on the Thorn for the cycle home.  I know it’s uphill: what goes down must come back up, but somehow I had not noticed the strong tailwind on the outwards leg.  I sure noticed it on the way back!

However, it was good to reflect on a day spent with exercising at the heart of my plans. I need more of these days.

This got me thinking about how, in the blues of the winter doldrums, I have frittered away time. Too much sitting in front of YouTube, unfocused in way too many ways: too little time learning or doing stuff that mattered.

So, I spend my afternoon preparing and priming some hand-tools, sowing some seeds and when I needed a break off my feet, reading Peter May’s, Coffin Road.  All good stuff.

And tonight I am here, writing and planning tomorrow around some exercise and more doing. As I said, back in the saddle and setting a direction forward.

What Traffic Fumes Do to Our Children

 

Should cars have etched into their windscreens the message that “Driving may seriously damage our health” just like cigarette packs carry the same message?  I suspect it is becoming ever clearer that they do.  I gave the bikes their spring clean and fettle this week.  Just in time it appears.  It’s time to target more bike miles and fewer car miles.  At the very least.  Thanks to Rachel M for putting this my way and to the original poster.

Source: What Traffic Fumes Do to Our Children

Then, as if brought on a magic carpet this commuting guide arrived in my mailbox from Greener Scotland.

To Via Verde or not?

We did about 65 K today from Guardamar del Segura to Murcia. Our plan was to follow the Via Verde bike and hike corridor to Orihuela and then take to the road.

We Made a promising start. The cycle road was a bit rough, but it was great to be traffic free. Then the headwind caught us on the exposed sections and the combination of rough surfaces and headwind slowed us to a crawl.

We stuck at it, however – until the lack of signage in every village and getting lost drove us to distraction.  We were falling more and more behind schedule and getting more and more tired.  We needed to make a change to give us some edge and advantage.  We chose to take to the roads.  They were, smooth, more sheltered and brought us decent signage.

We arrived in Murcia about 5 in the afternoon and slumped, thankfully into the comfortable embraces of the Nelva Hotel.  Lovely for softies like us and worth every penny.

image

I guess we are just not cycle track types.  Who is?

CTC and Hi-viz clothing: as clear as they think?

Some ‘expert advice’ in response to a letter in the current CTC “Cycle” magazine caught my attention: and rather got my dander up. CTC member David Watson wrote in lamenting the organisation’s unwillingness to recommend cyclists wear bright clothing and the current fashion for very dark cycle apparel.

In response, Cherry Allan comments that  CTC would be happy to recommend wearing hi-viz or ‘day-glow’ clothing if there was any evidence it made cycling safer: as they have found none, they are not willing to do so. Several comments are made to support this stance, but none of them throw much light on matters.

Firstly, hi-viz is not to be recommended because it might lull wearers into a false sense of security. Well, yes it might, but equally so might a dozen other factors or inclinations.  Is there any evidence that this is the case?  I thought we were taking an evidence-based approach?  No evidence is advanced for this proposition. Quite why someone concerned enough about their safety to wear hi-vis clothing would then assume wearing it made them safe I cannot imagine.  In my experience the wary stay wary.

Next comes the statement that cyclists have been killed or injured while wearing hi-vis clothing. I don’t think this is an argument of any kind. For all we know the unfortunate cyclists might have failed to take a corner at speed with no other party involved: or the drivers concerned were colour-blind, or for that matter, blind drunk.

In relation to both of these points, nobody is saying that having hi-viz will guarantee your safety: only that it might make you easier to see. Defensive cycling and vigilance are still a big part of staying safe.

The ‘expert’ goes on to say that suggesting people should consider wearing hi-vis is somehow, ‘pandering’ to the lobby that seeks to blame cyclists or suggest they have somehow contributed to their accidents and injuries by not wearing protective gear or conspicuous clothes.  This is a big red herring in this debate. The issue is whether these items contribute to personal safety or not.  CTC is confusing its purposes here: taking a sensible attitude to conspicuity ought not to be seen as somehow reducing the effectiveness or potency of their campaign for other measures to make cycling safer.  The one campaign is in no way dependent the other.

The CTC spokesperson ends by saying that their policy is informed always by the best available evidence and repeats they have found no evidence of hi-viz kit contributes to safety and they want to take an evidence-based approach to all issues.  The trouble is, there is, as they say, no evidence to hand either way on this issue, so what are we to do?

Well, in the absence of evidence, surely it’s not a bad thing to fall back on common sense? If drivers see you, they are less likely to hit you, always assuming they are not doing so intentionally. If in doubt, play it safe: err on the side of common sense and caution. Be bright and be seen.  What’s the down side?  I just cannot see one.

Certainly we two will continue to sport our hi-viz waistcoats.  They are second nature to us now and we don them as routinely as we do our helmets. We feel naked without them.  Even in bright and sunny climes, where we are often almost unique exceptions.  The only down side is that all our tour photos show us wearing the same gear!

Or maybe there is something I am missing?

Are we lost yet?
A sight for sore eyes…

 

 

 

 

Getabout in Aberdeen City and Shire

When finishing my run in the Duthie Park yesterday I spotted this lot and went in about to investigate.

Can't Start Too Young!
Can’t Start Too Young!

It turned out to be an introduction to cycling event organised by Getabout – A to B in Aberdeen City and Shire. I have to be honest, I had never come across Getabout before, but I am pleased to find them.

They had a range of goodies on offer, bike bells, mugs, maps, leaflets, pens, reflective strips and vests and were very keen to chat to existing or would-be cyclists.

Cycles of all sorts and sizes
Cycles of all sorts and sizes

It turns out they have a whole suite of Travel Tools to help us get around by sustainable transport in City and Shire  – mostly alternatives to owning and using cars.  Best of all to me was information on a new smart phone app for the Complete National Cycle Network – I’ll need to try this out and report back with a review, but in prospect its an excellent idea.

You can find their website via this link – Getabout Aberdeen and Shire

Cycle Safety: separation or segregation?

Three cycle safety stories caught my eye this last week and they did not make for comfortable reading. It seems that the route to more popular and safe cycling may be more long and winding than we thought.

 

Firstly, in The Herald came the story that the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in Scotland is now running at its highest level for over five years: Provisional stats for 1012 suggest that cyclists make up 1 in every 14 seriously hurt or killed on our roads. Almost 900 cyclists were involved in serious incidents across the year.

 

English: Beware pedestrians Cyclists be warned...
English: Beware pedestrians Cyclists be warned! I wonder why there is no safety barrier? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Secondly, it appears that we cyclists are a growing risk to another vulnerable road user group – pedestrians. According to a piece in, “The Conversation” British government data over a period of 9 years to 2012 show cyclists killed 23 pedestrians and seriously injured a further 585.

 

I find this latter figure extraordinary, but both cycle and pedestrian casualties point to the same problem. In Britain, in contrast to, say The Netherlands, pedestrians, cyclists, cars and heavy vehicles have to use the same congested and contested routes.  Too often this contest and congestion  pits them against each other.

 

However, a third story suggests separation itself may be a mixed blessing. An evaluation of the proposed London SkyCycle Route begs the question: will separate but not equal  prove again to be a mask for apartheid, segregation and institutional disadvantage for cyclists?  Is the point to put us out of harm’s way, or out of the car drivers’ way?

 

I suggest that against the car, we cyclists and pedestrians ought to make common cause.

 

 

 

 

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The Bicymple – just genius!

I suspect it is never going to make anyone a fortune, but I have got to say that I love the bicymple and the thinking that goes into it.  Too many people take things too seriously these days and this looks like a nice corrective.  Good luck to her and all who venture forth on her.

A Cyclist’s Tale of Two Cities

I confess I was pretty dismayed when I read of the Mayor of Liverpool’s decision to pilot the abandonment of bus and cycle lanes in the city.

BBC Liverpool Coverage
BBC Liverpool Coverage

My gut feeling was that this was a backward step and further evidence of the pro-car, so-called populist politics we are coming to expect these days.

So I was pretty relieved later in the same week to come across The Traffic Commissioner for New York’s account of their recent experiment that firmly pointed in the opposite direction. In recent years and months they have set out to ‘re-imagine and re-invent’ their streets as shared resources for people, cycles, busses and cars – with great success. In summary, they have:

  • used paint and temporary materials to create 50 pedestrian plazas
  • converted 26 car lanes into open squares
  • built 57 miles of speedy bus lanes
  • created 350 miles of bike lanes
  • introduced 50 miles of new parking protected cycle lanes
  • provided 6000 rental bikes which now see 35000 average users each day who have cycled 7 million miles between them since the introduction.
  • seen a 49% increase in retail sales along bike lanes
  • seen a 50% decrease in cycle and pedestrian injuries
  • seen a 170% increase in economic activity in the areas concerned.
Figures Speaking for Themselves?
Figures Speaking for Themselves?

So I started out pretty depressed, but ended up impressed and even a little optimistic. If New York, capital city of ‘the bottom line’ can manage this, then surely any city can?  Unless, perhaps, you are Liverpool and managed by dinosaurs pointing the city backwards to the future?

Janette Sadik-Khan’s TED Talk is well worth watching – thought-provoking and funny.