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Archive for June, 2009

IMG_1128I was cycling home from work on Monday when out of the corner of my eye I spotted an ice cream work cycle. Even at 200 yards I could see it was a Pashley and so rushed over for a quick look.  The tricycle was beautifully kitted out with umbrella, bell and of course a ton of delicious ice cream.   As you would expect from a Pashley the attention to detail was second to none, the bike having a high quality frame (great lugs) and even a Brooks B33 saddle.  The proud owners, Cafe BonBon, rent this 1920’s style work cycle for weddings, fêtes, etc… You can find all the details HERE or by telephoning 07515 893294.

I could not resist taking some photos of my Pashley roadster with the Pashley ice cream tricycle.

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While chatting with Mr BonBon we realised that my ukulele band ‘The Night Owls’ and the 1920’s work cycle are both looking to lend a little nostalgia to weddings and garden parties.  Well that seems like an opportunity to post a ukulele video; so here are ‘The Night Owls’ performing the 1925 classic ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’.  If you want to lend an air of vintage sophistication to your event or function, get on and book the Cafe BonBon ice cream cycle and The Night Owls band.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ – The Night Owls (live) from Nipper on Vimeo.

The ice cream Pashley came fully stocked with some great flavours and the generous owner let me sample some of the raspberry.  This act of generosity cyclist to cyclist got me thinking…

If there is any cyclist out there in internet land who wants a FREE UKULELE LESSON just post a comment here and I will arrange one with you.  If you live too far away to cycle for the lesson, I can arrange a video lesson live on Skype.

Best

Nipper

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Those of you clicking my ukulele links will know that I teach ukulele to primary age school children. Children who learn to play an instrument when they are young benifit from improvements in their literacy and numarcy skills and of course will hopefully develop a life long love of music making.

In Holland they take cycling seriously and it no small surprize that this begins at school.  Children who cycle to school benifit from better health, a much safer environment in which to travel and they will also hopefully develop a life long love of cycling.

There is much in common here, learning to play a musical instrument and using a bicycle as a primary means of transport, both make sense. Both provide benefits for health and well-being and can help lead to a more intelligent and cohesive society. Both need to start at school and become an everyday part of life. While music making is part of the National Curriculum and taught to every child, every week, cycling remains an option, with most schools doing nothing, or at best a couple of days  training in year six.

Perhaps the biggest issue for children cycling to school is the lack of safe routes.

I read the marvellous blog ‘A view from the cycle path’ by David Hembrow and today saw his video of  children cycling to primary school in Holland.  The children don’t have to suffer the danger of cars and they are learning to treat the cycle as an everyday means of transport.  This is how children in the UK should be getting to and from school.  As in Holland, the roads should be cleared of cars to allow the children and their parents safe passage.  The car is poisening our society as it stops us experiencing real freedom and makes normal life much more dangerous.

Take a look at the video, it is a real eye opener to anyone who has experienced the car frenzy outside most UK primary schools every morning and evening. Notice also the totally lack of any cycle helmets or lurid yellow jackets as chilcren and adults cycle safely to school!

In the UK Sustrans is claiming to promote ‘Safe Routes to School’. I have checked their website and they don’t seem to have a video showing a UK school with real safe routes.  I wonder if this is because real safe routes just don’t exist for UK children. Does anyone know of any?

Best

Nipper

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workplaceCycleChallenge Riding my folding bike into work on Thursday I was thrilled to see a council stand on the High Street promoting cycling.  A lovely young lady stood behind a table containing a couple of leaflets and three maps.  To her side was a bike and behind her the poster you see at the top of this post.  It turned out she didn’t really know much about cycling (this was not her department) and apart from entering people who cycle for 10 minutes during the next two weeks into a prize draw, Somerset is not actually doing  much else to promote cycling.

So I complemented her on the fact that the people in the poster were dressed normally, but lamented that they and indeed everyone else on every leaflet was wearing a helmet.  Well this is where it got interesting, apparently in the original poster they had no helmets, but the council bosses (car drivers?) had insisted the helmets were added.  In case you are new to the helmet debate here is a website with all the scientific evidence for and against there use,

http://cyclehelmets.org/index.html

Well I went on to talk about how actually putting in new cycle paths and JOINING UP EXISTING PATHS might be a good way to promote cycling in Taunton. It has worked in Copenhagen.  I also noted that the bicycle which was to be the prize in the draw was a men’s bike with narrow tyres, no mudguards and a ‘sports’ riding position, all of which are not good for cycle commuting or attracting women to ride more.

When I got home I checked the Moving Somerset Forward website to see if there was anything else going on I might have missed.  The website is… well… rubbish!  It has no real information of any consequence and it really doesn’t get down to any detail and help people to become everyday cyclists. It would not be difficult to do a better job and get it right, they have managed to do a pretty good job in London.

420x420aspx-thumbThe lady in the London poster looks a little more comfortable on a bike than the helmeted nutters in the Somerset one!

So is there any good news?  I managed to get three free cycle route maps.  It is just a shame that there are no new paths actually being built and there are no plans to join up the existing ones to make them usable… or remove the dangerous ones… or resurface the potholed ones.  Somerset is standing still not moving forward.

BSY

Nipper

Postscript: While cycling to work on Friday I was greeted by a large group (six or seven) of ‘never been seen before’ commuters puffing away on racing and mountain bikes.  They were wearing those little laminated neck tags that showed them to be council workers on their way to County Hall.  They were riding illegally across the pedestrian crossing and then proceeding along the pavements towards their offices.  I assume they were breaking the law to avoid the dangerous and copious amount of motor cars on the road.   They were  like me probably thinking that there should be a cycle path, unfortunately they will probably have forgotten about it in a couple of weeks when they will once again be in their cars.  They may even be wondering why the bloke on his little folding bike is riding down the High Street again; there is after all a by-law against that!

After a little bit of discussion (read the comments) about being positive with the nice chap over at Ecovelo, I should perhaps say that there is a website where we can monitor  ‘live’ the cycling progress of the Workplace Challange.  I do hope it is a success and the sheer weight of numbers of commutors will shame the council into improving the cycle paths in Taunton and elsewhere across Somerset.

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So not much ukulele in the last posts… So here are a couple of pictures of the little Nippers showing how easy it is to carry a ukulele by bicycle.

uke carryuke carry2

BSY

Nipper

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For most of my bicycle life I have ridden on a brooks saddle, to be more precise a B17 standard.  The saddle has been my comfortable seat for many thousands of miles and in my younger days allowed me to ride long tours, with 100 mile plus days, whilst suffering no ill effects.

b17

My well used B17, temporarily away from my touring bike which I am re-building.

So after 20 years on the B17 I was excited to try the sprung B33 on my new Pashley Roadster Sovereign.  The B33 is a magnificent saddle, a work of art.  With it’s 3 spring arrangement it soaks up all the bumps in the road.  However, this was not the saddle for me! Despite much tweaking I just could not get the thing to feel right, it was just too big and springy.  So enter the B66. Today I had one fitted to my Pashley and what a difference, a much firmer ride which suits me much better. I just have to break it in!

b66 b33Top: B33 / Below: B66
b66 b33 backTop: B33 / Below: B66

So whilst I was changing my new Brooks saddles, Jim (see Roadsters!) was sorting out the saddle for his 1955 Raleigh roadster.  When he got the bicycle it had a nasty modern plastic saddle, but with a little investigation he found the original saddle still existed in the shed of the bike’s previous owner.  So Jim is now the proud owner of a Brooks B83.  This little beauty is no longer in the Brooks catalogue, but is the three rail version of the B73 which is still manufactured.

B83B83 2B83 3

Jim’s 1955 B83
roadstersRoadsters with new B66 and old B83

So all this Brooks saddle investigation got me thinking about how wonderful it is that the worlds best bicycle saddles are made in Smethwick in the UK.  The people at Brooks have made a wonderful promotional film all about the Brooks Heritage.

brooks_ad_2006

BSY

Nipper

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How Green Am I?

trailer2I was at the supermarket the other day, just doing the weekly family shop when I was accused of being green.  The comment wasn’t made in a nasty way, but as a compliment.

At Sainsburys I am able to take my trailer right up to the checkout and fill it directly with shopping, this saves the hastle of loading up outside the shop. So there I was  filling my trailer with the shopping when the checkout lady jumped out from behind the till to take a look ” Oh, you’re so green” she exclaimed.

Well I then had to spend some time explaining that I am not shopping this way to save the planet from CO2 emissions but because I prefer  riding my bicycle to driving a car.  I want to live in a more friendly, human environment where people don’t isolate themselves in their little metal boxes.  I want life to move at a slower pace and be able to experience the weather, see the world around me fresh and at first hand, not through the window of a car.  The checkout lady didn’t quite get it  “And it’s so green” she added.

I am not a member of the green bike tribe,  but it is hard to get this across to  the car tribe, they see cyclists as sporty or green.  I am either getting fit or saving the planet, I surely can’t be riding a bicycle because I like it.  Well I bloody well do like it and I believe that the urban environment would be a lot more pleasant if more people travelled by bicycle.

OK so I recycle my rubbish, insulate my home, use an efficient boiler and watch the food miles but I do not cycle to cut my carbon emissions, I ride because I like it!

BSY

Nipper

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I ride a Pashley Roadster and Jim (Night Owls lead ukulele player) rides a Raleigh Roadster. We have both been cycling all our lives and use the bicycle as our primary mode of transport, but the roadsters are new bikes for us.

The Pashley is for me a return to my childhood days when I rode a 3 speed sit up and beg. I loved that bike, it transported me to school everyday and was my first taste of teenage freedom. After 20 years on my Dawes Galaxy touring bike I decided it was time to return to the simplicity and comfort of a traditional bike and so the Pashley has become my new number one.

So with two new bikes Jim and I decided it was time don our tweed jackets and head into town for a bit of posing… We had rather a jolly time and filmed our afternoons riding for blogging purposes. So here is the film complete with ukulele soundtrack.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Roadsters! – Bicycle and Ukulele from Nipper on Vimeo.

It is worth noting that in Taunton bike parking on the High Street comes complete with a ‘No Cycling’ sign…

BSY

Nipper

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