Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Cycling weapon of knuckle destruction

I really like Cycling WMD's reaction to this tool.
No more sliced knuckles.

Image from Cycling Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Changing chain rings always seems like a great idea, and it usually seems to go well until you're down to the last couple of bolts when suddenly in less than a blink of an eye you've exposed the bone on two knuckles.
I once made a tool out of an old hacksaw blade that helped keep the bolts steady, but it didn't completely save my knuckles - and the hacksaw blade was pretty uncomfy to hold...

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


I was going to do a quick post about some cool bag maker, based in Brooklyn.

But then I just saw this on twitter and thought I should share it quick.

Mr. W - Epuron from TRAUMSTOFF on Vimeo.

A complete contrast to Will Self's brilliant A Point of View piece in 'Praise of Wind Turbines' on Radio 4 the other week. Listen here .

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


8pm and I've just sat down.  I'm mapping out procedures and HACCP and god knows what else at work at the moment, and my mind is fried.  Sunday's long afternoon roast dinner, beer and Lego session seems like a life time ago...so it was great to find an email from Grant Robinson in my inbox just now.

I love to follow the blogs of photographers.  They aren't the most prolific, but when they post its always worth the wait.  This latest from Grant Robinson is from a Bike Speedway event in Sheffield (I think).  You can see more here.

Its all about the atmosphere, the speedway pro tyres (who knew?), the track flange hubs, the handle bars, flat frames...love it.

I meant to post this video from Cycle Oxford about Speedway earlier in the summer.  Speedway looks addictive and ultra competitive.  Lets get a track next door to the pump track.

Cycle Speedway 2011 - Horspath Vs Poole from Cycle Oxford on Vimeo.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Tubes & Tools

Lou just stumbled across this Swedish bike forum,while she was looking for furniture, or something...

Frame parts from here: http://www.framebuilding.com/ (Warning this website is stuck in 1998).

Sunday, 9 October 2011

New Geek of the Week

Wow.  A few weeks ago I discovered the MAKEzine blog, which is a full of incredibly talented and committed hardware hackers and 3D printer using types.  I'm currently sat behind my desk, preparing for an inspection tomorrow (yes its 20.45 on a sunday night), but I felt like taking a quick peek at Make while I waited for a document to print.  15 minutes later I've just finished watching Michael Egger make a Video Bass and felt compelled to share it with more than just my Dad, Brother and Twitter followers.

Its 15 minutes long, but its just great to see the lengths to which he goes to make his guitar.
I've never seen Plywood being bent like that - I had no idea it could be that simple. Think I might start a mid-century furniture workshop...or build a boat bike.

Building the Videobass from Michael Egger on Vimeo.

(But, ha, it looks like he can't weld very well).

Friday, 30 September 2011

Wooden Cargo bike by Art & Industry

Another incredible project by two people just getting on with it.

One a boat maker, the other a bike fanatic.  Its a bit like a boat with wheels.


Wednesday, 28 September 2011


So maybe in the TV series of Back to the Future, the Doc could have made a bike that could reach 88mph and travel in time.  Maybe it would look a bit like this...


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Cobble Wobble

This Sunday I'm taking the family to see the Cobble Wobble in Frome. Chris Akrigg won last years uphill sprint competition. Chris is Ru's mountain bike hero. Every time he gets on his bike, he says "I'm Chris Akrigg". Charlie is Danny Macaskill.

2010 Cobble Wobble from chris akrigg on Vimeo.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

NYC Bike Jumble and Bristol Bike Polo

This is how to jumble:

NY Bike Jumble: May 14, 2011. from NY Bike Jumble on Vimeo.

Bike Polo
I went for a quick spin while the boys were having tea (battered fish and home made chips). I nipped up to the Bristol Bike Polo tournament and watched the last 15 minutes of the final game. No idea what the teams were called, but the men in red bra tshirts won with a golden goal in extra time. The grey shirts fought back from 3-1 down to equalize with minutes to spare, but a crash 4 minutes in to extra time left the grey team 2 men versus 3, and the goal was inevitable. Both teams were seriously skilled, but the red bras had the better confidence and communicated well.  I reckon my old '95 Marin Palisades would make a pretty good polo machine to start with.  Just need to get down to Dean Lane.

Cruddy mobile footage of the final

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Muddy Legs

Been out for a ride on the glorious new(ish) trails in Ashton Court tonight. One of those rides where every hill can be conquered and the trails flow. Its hard not to flow on the new trails, truth be told. I'm trying not to be snobby, but I can't wait for all those vintage 1997 Saracen riders to either give up or upgrade.

Pump track progress:

So with my new found effortless flow (ahem), I'm looking forward to Brunel's pump track opening at the end of September. Last week I had a look at feedback/test session, and its clear I have a pretty big skills gap. Its three minutes from work, so I'm planning lots of visits while the kids are at school.

Pink Bike had a competition with Rock Shox to re-design some graphics. There are 10 short listed designs. I really wanted to like Dan Sharpe's design because hes from the UK, but the whispy guy with the strawberry ruins it for me.

My short list.

...oh, and some how my legs were still muddy when I got out of the shower.  How does that work?

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Cross Crazy 1950s

Just came across this on Cross Crazy.

"Its as much running as it is running, like."

"There's Wes. That's Garlic - he manges a Tesco store now. He had a transplant..."

Monday, 8 August 2011

Traffic Cycle Design



Especially the Lianna Longtail.  Everyone needs a bike that can give lifts.  And the Spencer Mountain Single speed, and the Coupled Cross...

Monday, 1 August 2011

On One?

Brant Richards re-joined On One today, after 2 years away doing Ragley and working for Chain Reaction Cycles...and now once again I find myself browsing the On One site designing a bike that I can afford.

Affordability is so much easier to justify when a bike is versatile.  So I'm building an easily serviced commuter that doesn't mind being left out in the rain.  Looks amazing, but plain enough to deter thieves.  Is excellent, no, breath taking, off road.  Endlessly practical for year long touring trips in South America and Asia.  Light enough to race, but strong enough to last a life time...  arse.

Actually, I'm in the mood to rebuild my ancient Raleigh Sprint in to a bit of a town bike.  Just need some bigger tyres and a riser handlebar.

Thursday, 28 July 2011


Wow, its been ages.  New job is very great.  Steep learning curve, as expected, and no hiding among the team for a few months, either.  There is no team - so straight in at the deep end.

Been getting in to fine tea and learning to make coffee properly.  Milk is now used only on cereal and in white sauce for pasta.  More beverages, later.

New commute to work is practically a freewheel on the way in, and a steep sprint on the way home.  Met some great people recently.  People in to bikes, food, tea and coffee.  Going to pitch our tea to Lookmumnohands in a few weeks.  Shame the Tour has already finished.  But what a Tour?  Andy, you were robbed last year - but this year we saw some pretty poor character.  Nice one Evans.  Shame Wiggins crashed out.  I was hoping for a repeat of the '09 race, when it was like the Cav and Wig show.  Mr Thomas looks good for the future - but stay on the track for 2012, that's my advice.

New favourite teas:  Pouchong, Mi Lan Dan Cong, Roasted Long Juan Tie Guan Yin, Raw Puerh.
Still digging mint, too.

One day I'm going to learn to manual like a 4xer.  In the mean time I better learn to jump.

More Mountain Biking Videos
Video lifted from Hard Tail Nation.

Monday, 13 June 2011

More from Bespoked

I bumped in to a great project a few months back called The Bicycle Academy.  I read the blog and couldn't quite believe what I had stumbled upon.  Brian Curtis teaches you to braze bike frames, and in the process you donate the frame you build to those that need it.  The best Curtis frames are made from T45 tubing - which is used for making really high performance things in the Aerospace industry, and...lets save all that for another day - or maybe just have a look yourself?

No need to file

So, on Sunday, I met Andrew, who started the project.  I shook his hand and demanded that I be near the top of the list and pledged to give a donation.  This is the thing that I am most definitely going to do, and this here Blog is going to be the thing that makes sure I do it.

One builder I spoke to on the day said that he went to a course run by Dave Yates, and has been building hobby frames for mates for a few years.  He's now taking orders from real customers.

Kajak Custom showed this around-the-world-trip mountain bike.  Designed for Rohlhoff and gigantic mud tyres.

Titanium Burls - with gussets and bulging down tube.

Pipe bender at Downland Cycles
More again, later in the week.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Sunday at Bespoked

Today I went to the Bespoked Bike show at the Paintworks, in Bristol.

Lee Cooper had some lovely Sturmey Archer 3sp Fixed-mobiles, with handmade wooden mud guards.

I chatted to Mr Paper Bicycle about his ingenious design.  Forgoing traditional chain stays in favour of a massively robust chain protector, and at the same time making a strong step through, for the Post Office.

Fresh Tripe had their bike parts on Butchers trays.

The Donhou stand was simply gorgeous.  I was quite surprised by the paint finish on one brand that I was looking forward to seeing, but Donhou surpassed themselves.  The scriptive logo on this frame is embossed under a few layers of clear coat.

I snapped this Paulus Quiros towards the end of my visit.  Wonderfully understated - especially compared to the Titanium mountain bikes on the stand next door.

Lots lots more to show and tell, later.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Bespoked Bristol

I'm going to the Bespoked Bristol show this sunday, after lunch.

The UKs first handmade bike show - following in the almighty footsteps of NAHBS.
A bike geeks dream is here in Bristol.  I cannot wait.

There'll be stuff like this...

...and I'll be hoping to talk my way in to someone's workshop to have a look about and take pictures and hopefully to convince them to let me have a go.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


I've taken another step closer to realising my mid-week mini adventure.

Last week I started to assemble some kit and I found that my gas had slowly leached away.  So I now have new gas and I've worked out how to pack the burner, the gas, the matches, a spoon and some pasta in a little saucepan.  I'll take some pesto in a freezer bag and then pour the cooked pasta in the bag and mix it up, to save on washing up.  I might also chuck in some chunks of chorizo. 

What shall I have for breakfast?

Monday, 30 May 2011

CLIC 24, 2011

The CLIC 24 hour mountain bike event is held on the Mendips hills each May. I usually realise I've missed it when I see streams of cars heading back in to Bristol with muddy bikes bearing race numbers.

This year I decided to volunteer as a marshall. At least this way I could contribute in some way to the charity which raises money for Children living with cancer and leukaemia. So, two saturdays ago, I took a 9 till midnight shift and stood in a high vis jacket, waving at people.

There was a great atmosphere in the start/finish area. The sort where strangers talk freely to one and another, and happily lend mobile phones and pass around mini mars bars. Two parents escorted their 12-13 year old kids out on a lap at about 9.30pm. Around two hours later I saw them return, and the Dad muttered..."Not doing that again".
Despite this - I can't wait until I can do similar with my boys.
Heres a video of my boys in training, last summer.

Apparently the event raised close to £30,000, already.

Catching up with Boneshaker

Adams Carvalho illustrated the cover of one of the recent Boneshake magazines.

I just lifted this great video straight from the BS blog.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Science Cafe

On monday night I went to a lecture in a comfy cafe by a retired Professor, all about metals.  I learnt some interesting and technical things about grain size, quenching and alloys.  It all made perfect sense at the time - but unfortunately I can hardly recall a single reliable fact, at all. 

Towards the end of the lecture I asked a simple question about welding and why it is that some people claim that a weld is stronger than the original metal.  I got a great answer that detailed a myriad of variables that would influence the strength of the weld.  Then an elderly guy near the front swung around and recommended I had a look at The Welding Institute website (TWI) and find out more.  He stopped me as I was leaving and we had a chat.  It turns out he is a lecturer himself, and he gave me a quick run through of a presentation he has given about Additive Layer Manufacturing.  ALM seems to me to be the most exciting technology of the moment, and there are sites in Bristol that seem to be at the cutting edge.  It was such a privellege to chat with a man who was obviously nearing the end of his engineering career, but was still so passionate to share in his wonder.  He couldn't remember the last time so many technologies had converged with such rapid developments.

With ALM you can have an MRI scan of your hip bone and the ALM machine will print you an identical replacement.  Or the ALM could render a 3D scan of your brain so your surgeon can practice removing that pesky tumour.  They estimate they could design planes using 95% less material...
And why bother importing all that stuff from China - when you could print it here?

Friday, 13 May 2011


...so over the last few days I've been writing two near identical blog posts.

Thank you Blogger for restoring all the data that we feared had gone for ever.  My faith in the internet has been restored.  I bet the guy who broke it absolutely SHAT himself.

Just a shame it was restored after I re-wrote my post...

Wild Camping

...so over the last few weeks I've been reading some great blogs about interesting people doing exciting mini adventures.

Alistair Humprhey's posted about an overnight micro adventure a few weeks back.  He's just followed up with a 24 hour bivy challenge.  Ever since his first post, I've been hatching a plan to leave work one evening on my bike and head for the hills.  I'll take a tarp to make a bivy tent.  My little old camping gas burner to brew tea and fry sausages.  Loads of clothes and a sleeping bag.

Then I read this great post on the Surly blog and convinced myself I needed a whole different bike, and all sorts of different equipment...well of course, I don't. 

But what about bears?  Or, er, spooky noises?

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Subway Sympathy

All of a sudden, whilst walking through a subway near work, I had a hyper sensitive moment of sympathy for the owner of this bike.

Yes its a supermarket bike, but somehow that makes it worse.  People around here don't have much cash, and this burnt up bike turned my stomach.

Maybe the saddle or pedal broke and the owner got mad - or feared what would happen when he took it home.
Maybe someone jealously stole it, then trashed it through guilt.
Maybe it was a gift.
Maybe someone saved up to buy it for themselves.

Or maybe, just maybe, the dare devil who owned it cleared the row of double decker buses, but clipped the flaming ring and tumbled to the ground in flames.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Wouter Scheublin

This looks like the ultimate construction kit to me.  Its made by Wouter Scheublin of the Netherlands.  Thanks to Chiro sangaku for the tip off.

Wouter also makes spring powered car.  Just 20 are being made, so I can't see it passing European toy standards any time soon - but what a thing to make.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Next Time

Visit Vimeo today and they greet you with this video.

This is just great for so many reasons...

La Prochaine Fois (The Next Time) from A76 PRODUCTIONS on Vimeo.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Crown Star

Its Friday night and I'm half way through my first pint of ale.
I spot a friend zipping up and down the street on a bike he just collected for his better half.

Its that time of evening in Spring when you're out stealing the last few minutes of day light - so these photos are unashamedly dusky.

I'd be over the moon if someone gave me this bike.  Its exactly what I'm after myself, though perhaps with a gents frame...

Sam is the second person I know who has picked up a new bike today.  Somebody else I know collected a Lapierre Spicy 516 for a cool £3300.  This second hand (ninth hand?) Crown Star got me quite excited enough.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Homage with Cheese

When I was a boy I would spend time at the weekend doing DIY with my Dad.  We might be fixing fence panels, digging the allotment, constructing flat pack furniture... or I might just be passing him tools while he fixed the car or the boiler.

He'd quietly disappear for 5 or 10 minutes at mid-morning, then reappear with two plates of the most perfectly constructed cheese sandwiches.  Just the most basic and unfussy cheese sandwich.  Everything about it was perfect and each one seemed like a gift.

Dad seemed to treat the sandwich simply as fuel, and would have it polished off in about three mouthfuls. 
I'll have to get him around here for a morning of DIY.

For display purposes, only.  This sandiwch bears no resemblence to the sandwich described above.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Slow Coast

Oh.  I've been browsing Nick's site for a few months now.  Whilst cycling the coast of the UK, Nick Hand has created an interesting collection of images and interviews with some tallented and inspirational people.  Its only now that I write the words Slow Coast, that I realise the double meaning of the word coast.

I've recently fallen back in love with coasting about on my bike.  I've been charging about too much.

This is one of my favourites, about an incredible private collection of vintage road bikes.

Park after tea

We went to the park after tea on monday night.

A quick game of Football, a go on the assault course, and then 'throwing the toy lion in to the blossom tree'.

Thank you camera phone for turning on quickly enough to catch this moment.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Another day off

Just had my second coffee of the day.  Going out with my camera for a play.

Lucky me!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Kelly Kettle

I've had this Kelly Kettle since my birthday last December.

I've tried it out a few times and always failed to keep the thing lit.
I blamed the damp winter twigs.

I took it back to the plot by myself today. There were no excuses because its been dry for ages.

It took a while. About 6 matches and three false starts - but I finally got it to boil. Boiled water in about 3 exciting minutes.

Going to make a stash of tinder in a tin, and make a collection of #1 sticks. Organised, see?

Saturday, 19 March 2011


*wishes he'd never fitted gears back on his bike in the first place*

The Bent Gear Hanger

Hard to believe that I broke my gear hanger 2 months ago...

I finally got hold of a lovely straight replacement hanger and treated the bike to a brake bleed and mech setup at one of the local bike shops.  The Mech is apparently bent, too, but the mechanic still got it shifting more nicely than I've ever managed.  As chance would have it - the newly serviced bike and I were out on a ride within about 90 minutes of it being home.

Oh lovely mountain bike, I have missed you.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

On top of things

I stayed late at work on friday night and finished a few things that have been worrying me.  I hit them head on - the only way to fix them.

Just had one glass of wine on friday night because Lou and I were getting ready for Charlie's 5th birthday party on saturday morning. Lou made the cake, and I made some jelly.  Saturday morning I woke up feeling fairly fresh and, despite a few early morning anxieties, we were all set for Charlie's friends to arrive at 11am.  Charlie has some great friends.  Bright, chatty and confident.  It was a real pleasure to have them in the house.  Lou had arranged some crafts.  They decorated Tshirts and hats.  They had lunch and they sang happy birthday.  The jelly went down a storm, I'm pleased to say, and it was great watching the kids laugh as the jelly stuck in the mold.

Nana, Grandpa and Leighla came around in the afternoon.  Charlie received an enormous Lego garage set (7642), which he immediately fell upon and started to build.  Leigh and I sat at the kitchen table with him, passing him pieces and giving only minor help.  He built the tow truck at a pace that stunned me.  He seems to need only the most fleeting glimpse of the instructions, before he knows exactly what to do.  Very proud of him.  Incredible to think how far this helpless baby has come in five years.

Late in the afternoon, Rufus and I took a trip on the bike around the harbour, to Temple Meads, and around the centre.  It was great to get some fresh air and chat to Ru whilst riding along.  The first thing Ru said to me when I got back from work last wednesday, was how much he enjoyed riding on the bike with me.  He told me about all the sights that he had seen.  He said it again first thing on thursday morning when he came and woke me up, and again on thursday night.  Each time he had such wonder in his eyes and clearly loved having some time just with me.  So Saturday afternoon was a chance to re-create it, and to show him I loved it too.
On Saturday night I went out for a night ride with Will, James and Will's brother, Nick.  We'd reached the trail in Ashton Court, but within 200m's I'd picked up a stick in my rear mech, and mangled my gears to bits.  I bent the gear hanger really badly.  Gutted.  I spent twenty minutes trying to fix the problem, before admitting defeat and stripping the bike of the chain and the mech.  I rolled back down the hill to home.  Humpf.  At least it was downhill.

We had a slow sunday morning.  I told Rufus what had happened to the bike, and he looked most concerned, though relieved that I could fix it.  We took the boys to Ashton Court so that Charlie could try his new bike.  Two and half years on a Puky balance bike paid off, and he was cycling along before I could even get my camera out to capture the moment.  Lou and I were so proud - walking around with ridiculously massive grins on our faces.  Rufus seems ready for a pedal bike, too, since he can balance excellently already.  Trying to find a second hand Cnoc14, which is a bit smaller.  We could sell both Puky balance bikes to pay for it - but I really can't bring myself to let them go.  However much I want these boys to grow and try new things, I still want to hang on to the young stuff.

Lou bumped in to some influential mums who have a campaign to close local streets so that kids can play.  She got talking, and told them about her blog.

Sunday afternoon.  Pizza Express discount deal.  Slow service so we got 50% off!.  Back home.  Charlie built two more lego models (entierly by himself this time), Lou worked on her blog, Rufus watched Wallace and Gromit and I read a magazine for 20 minutes.  There was peace and contenment in the house for the first time in I don't know how long - and everyone was awake!

It was such a great weekend.  I took great pleasure in telling mum and dad about it over the phone on monday night.

Need to keep this momentum going.

Wednesday tomorrow.  Nearly month end - which means pressure at work.  Stock take in Stanford on Friday. 

Must keep taking little steps forward and don't drown behind my desk.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

New bike day

Charlie on his new bike. An Islabike Cnoc16- lovely.  What a lucky lad.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


...and the rain stayed away.

The car was covered in an odd frost first thing this morning. The type that looks like diamond facets all over the windows and roof - but the clear blue skies and the piercing sunlight are just exactly what I ordered. I had a fairly sedate morning getting the kids ready for school. Even stopping to enjoy the last half of Postman Pat with the boys.

9.45am Ru and I drop Charlie off, we've been to the bank, the car-part shop down the road and the bakers. We've picked up a new rear wiper, a puncture repair kit, a loaf of bread and two Cherry Danish. So far so good.

11.00. Ru is fighting a cold, so we've rested for a while, scoffed our Danish (Cherries first) and watched Deadly 60.

He's wearing his jim jams under his clothes, a big scarf, his duffle coat and gloves. While I adjust and plug in his safety belt, a Helicopter circles over head, drowning out all other sounds and hes transfixed. Getting on the bike I immediately feel at ease and remind myself just how much more comfortable my mountain bike is than my commuter. We take a steady pace around the local streets, then across the bridge on Coronation road to briefly join the chocolate block path before looping around the docks and cobblestones around the harbour side. Two Swans fly in past the Arnolfini as we reach the Lloyds ampithetre, and we match their speed as they come in to land side by side.

12.25. We're home again. Ru has had a micro sleep up North Street and I can feel I need to work on my fitness. All this relaxing has revealed just how weak my shoulders have become. Suddenly without the usual scrunched up tension, they feel in capable of supporting my weight on the handlebars. Think I'll start the 100 Press Up routine again. Some stomach muscles will help too...

We met Lou for Lunch at Boston Tea party. I have that post exercise buzz, and my skin and body feel refreshed in clean clothes, while the air in my lungs feels like its visting every last avenue. Feels like I can drink the air. I feel totally at ease with Ru and enjoy a conversation about Swans, bikes, boats and 'lonely' ducks. The empathy this boy has towards animals is bonkers.

Gotta get Charlie from school now. Hope I can keep this feeling going.