Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category
Being always slightly frustrated by the mountain bike I’ve had in Edinburgh, I decided it’s time to do something about it. The plan was to get a new hardtail frame and suspension fork and then recycle all the other parts, so that I can stay within a reasonable budget. Having a plan, I’ve recently started shopping. What I got was:
– a second hand 2005 Orange P7 frame.
– a second hand 2005 Marzocchi All Mountain 2 fork.
That was all good, but the fork only had disk brake mounts (I knew that when I bought it, it was just an excuse to get a disc brake). So I bought a new (again second hand) front wheel with a Hope Bulb hub and Mavic XC717 rims. The disc brake of choice was twin piston hydraulic Shimano M535. That just left me with having to buy new front shifters, because the old ones I had were those where the brake and shifters were all in one piece. After stripping the old bike of all the components I had all I needed:
Everything works as a charm (even the old Shimano STX rear derailleur is OKish after I cleaned it). The only problem is that the 10 or so years old Shimano Alivio front deailleur won’t play ball with the new shifters, so I’ve been forced to order a new front derailleur. As soon as I have that fitted I’ll take the bike for a spin to Glentress. I’ll also take some more pictures with a proper camera. Pictures taken with a mobile phone are really not that great.
It’s amazing what you can find out if you have half an hour to kill in a train station and you decide to spend it WH Smith. Browsing trough the magazines, I noticed that Blueprint magazine had a special section on cycling in cities in the current issue. Leafing trough the pages I noticed something bizarre: part of Tour de France will take place in London! So in 2007, 7th July to be precise, London could be considered to be a part of France. (more details and a translation and a BBC video report on the route)
I’ve finally managed to get some mountain biking done. We went to Glentress with Helena and Claire. I did the black run and it was quite nice. If I compare it to the trails I ride near Prague, I have to admit I still prefer Tocna. (random pictures, map). Please don’t get me wrong. The black run in Glentress is great, there are some great switchbacks on it as well as jumps etc. Perhaps it’s too well groomed, monotone, predictable and civilised. It’s too much of the same: rocks, roots, jumps, switchbacks. There’s no 100m long downhill on steep, exposed rock, no slippery bridges, no long downhill sections that are so steep that you have a lot of trouble just keeping the speed down. But most importantly: no surprises. No hidden corners and dropoffs that you have to either know about or break for your life once you realise they’re there.
I’ve finally got my hands on the pictures we made when we’ve been mountain biking in the Swiss Alps with my parents and brother.
This isn’t really going to surprise anyone. According to this Sunday Times article, Urban cyclists raise their risk of heart disease. As if anyone expected that the diesel fumes from crappy busses can be good for them. What I think is bad news is that diesel exhaust includes nanoparticles of carbon and a range of metals. The particulates are so tiny that experts say it is pointless for cyclists to wear masks, because the mesh cannot be fine enough to block them. Also Those cycling at high speeds in the hope of improving their fitness levels are doing themselves the most damage by breathing in a higher volume of the polluted air.
Luckily the news aren’t all that bad. First the research has been done assuming that the subject is cycling for a whole hour. Maybe if it’s just 20 minutes we can cope better. It also says that There is no dispute in principle about the health benefits of cycling �?? it improves the circulation, keeps weight down and boosts overall fitness �?? yet the new research indicates that they could be outweighed by the polluted conditions of a busy road. The emphasis is on could be outweighted. So maybe it’s still healthier to cycle anyway.
So am I going to do anything now that I know this? Not really. I never expected urban cycling to be that healthy. Besides the benefits on my mental health due to the fact that I’m not frustrated by the public transport are enormous. What I might do is to modify my route so that the uphill parts don’t go along any main road. I’m not sure that that could work, since any modification would mean cycling for at least 10 minutes longer. Now would that be healthier or less healthy? In fact I think one still has to worry most about not being run over.
I haven’t been posting anything here for ages. Over the last month I’ve been “offline” for quite a while and when I have been online, I was quite busy. I’ve been to Dolomites for a week to do some climbing:
More pictures are here
Even before that I had a chance to test a really great mountain bike (Blur from Santa Cruz) in the French Alps, near Chamonix, which was great as well. I’ll post a more proper review at some stage. The weather was really nice: