Posted by Alan on April 18, 2011
Lunch atop of the edge
This post has sadly loitered in my drafts for far too long… A couple of weeks ago I headed out with the guys I am doing the c2c with in June for a test run from Manchester down to Alderley Edge – a fairly steep incline, with Mr Potter kindly lending me his Revolution tourer for the trip.
Looking towards Manchester (behind us!)
Apart from the stop start nature of the inner Manchester roads (so *many* traffic lights) we had a fairly good run out, though we did prove that I am not really for the hills of the Lake District. Picking up some food in the posh end of Alderley Edge (fantastic pork pie from the butchers, mmm) we then took to narrow lanes and were due to head to the Middlewood Way, a cycle trail heading from Macclesfield to Marple. Sadly for me, a mechanical issue on the tourer kicked in just before we went ‘off road’ and I was forced to take the train home.
Home on the train
Sad times. But, it has spurred me on into planning some more hilly expeditions ready for the c2c trip!
If you live in the Manchester/Cheshire area, it’s worth going up to the Edge to to check out the view – Manchester’s Beetham Tower is visible even on really hazy days…
Posted in Cycling, Travelling around | Tagged: Alderley Edge, C193, c2c, cheshire, Cycling, EOS 500D, fail, manchester, Pie, Revolution, Tourer, Training | 2 Comments »
Posted by Alan on April 10, 2011
Looking north from Sydenham Hill
- South London has far too many trees
- Both North and South London have some appallingly signed cycle routes.
- Crystal Palace is reasonably hilly, but probably not hilly enough to really count for c2c
- Tandem bicycles are more normal south of the water (saw two in quick succession)
- Epping isn’t actually that far away.
- Endomondo and my N96 really don’t get on well.
- Always eat before going to a beer festival (especially if you’ve never been to the venue before and they have live music)…
Ahh… It’s been a good weekend. Long may it last.
Posted in Cycling, Travelling around | Tagged: Beer Festival, Crystal Palace, Cycling, EOS 500D, London, South, Tandem, Weekend | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Alan on April 5, 2011
This weekend I took to the roads and cycle lanes of London again for two adventures, clocking up around 35 miles in total. The second trip took me from home to Hampstead Heath and the opportunity to tick of another London must: the view from Parliament Hill.
Looking south: the view from Parliament Hill
It wasn’t a spectacularly clear day – so I am quite impressed that some detail has come out in the cloud. The City is typically hazy (this is Sunday’s air pollution!), something that maybe one day will get fixed. It’s a real mixed use space – picnics, kite flying, many runners, sadly no cycling but due to the number of people walking I can understand that. (This doesn’t negate the fact I still need to find a hill to practice on).
Just the three of us. Looking away.
Further down the hill you can start to pick out other detail – the London eye, just how utterly massive the Shard is and the motley crew of tower blocks apparently dumped at random across the London skyline.
Another view - spot the London Eye
Apparently the heath isn’t off limits to all wheeled vehicles as this mobility scooter proved – I bet that was an uncomfortable ride!
Off road mobility
With the photographic opportunities finished (i.e. we got bored) next stop was the Southampton Arms, just round the corner from the bottom of the heath.
Southampton Arms: an ale and cider house
There’s more about the pub over at my other blog but in summary it most excellent. 10 ales, 8 ciders and a selection of pies. What more can you ask for?
Posted in Cycling, Photography | Tagged: beer, cider, City, Cycling, EOS 500D, Gospel Oak, Hampstead Heath, London, Parliament Hill, Skyline, skyscrapers, Southampton Arms, View | 2 Comments »
Posted by Alan on March 29, 2011
Manchester, cycle chic?
Last week Manchester joined the growing number of cities with a website dedicated to cycle chic – people riding bikes, dressed for their destination, not clad in Lycra as per the cyclist stereotype. The original idea started in Copenhagen and there are now worldwide sites, including a Gambia cycle chic! Having spend a few minutes as resident paparazzi in Piccadilly Gardens at the weekend, I felt it was only appropriate to share…!
Posted in Cycling, Photography | Tagged: 50mm, bike, Chic, Copenhagen, Cycling, EOS 500D, fixed prime, Gambia, manchester, Normal | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Alan on March 20, 2011
Having successfully managed to stagger across the finish line at Bogle, the next challenge booked in the diary is the c2c. At at the moment most of my cycling is relatively short utility trips (i.e. shopping and commuting) this is something else to ‘man up’ for. With a planned completion date of June, it’s time to start training properly! Yesterday provided a glorious day here in London so I took the opportunity to check out East London’s ‘greenway’, cycling down through the Walthamstow marshes to it’s start at Hackney Wick. At the moment the Lea/Lee* valley paths are being upgraded for the Olympics so there are a few diversions but once onto the Greenway you start to see what London is capable of infrastructure-wise.
The Greenway - segregated running
The Greenway cuts all the way across the borough of Newham, I believe it’s the main sewer from Hackney to Beckton sewage works. (It certainly smells that way when you pass by a manhole cover!) It’s flat, wide and straight – potentially a very fast piece of cycling infrastructure. Again due to the Olympics and Crossrail, there are some diversions in place. There were particularly poor involving much pushing the bike and queuing to allow road traffic in and out of the Olympic park. It would be nice if there’d been a few signs to as it’s really easy to miss where you should cross Stratford High St.
Further down the track there are many road crossings – each with a set of anti-cycling gates at each side. In most cases they seem to have been vandalised to allow free passage (probably for a few motorcyclist too…) but the odd one remains intact. It does seem a bit odd to create some infrastructure for fast easy cycling and then add barriers to prevent take up. I know the main target is to prevent people running motorcyclists or quad bikes etc, this really doesn’t seem like the best solution.
The main objective of the trip was to cross the river using the Woolwich free ferry. A strange anachronism of London down in the bottom right hand corner, the ferry connects the North and South Circular roads.
Bike and Boat - from the southside of the water
Apparently there is some legislation meaning there has to be a free crossing here – so the small ferry carries lorries, cars, bikes and pedestrians the short hop between North Woolwich and Woolwich. I wasn’t the only cyclist either! Crossing the river is quick and relatively easy – I was very lucky with where I was put on the boat, opening up a familiar view but from the ‘wrong side’ of the Thames barrier.
A familar sight - but from the 'wrong side'
Once on the south side however, it was pretty obvious the unwritten law (‘south London must be less good than north London’) rang true with respect to cycling facilities. The ‘Thames Coastal Path’ weaves between the riverside and busy roads with lots of ‘give up an push’ signs. In the end I gave up trying to follow the path round the Blackwall Reach peninsula due to the lack of sign posts! The roads of between Woolwich and Greenwich did have some advisory cycle lanes but on a Saturday afternoon were as snarled up as a rush hour. At least, I’m not sure how much worse the traffic could get at rush hour.
By Greenwich I was pretty knackered – a quick pit stop and a chance to ‘refuel’ before heading under the river again using the foot tunnel. Currently under renovation, the lifts are closed. This meant carefully pushing the bike down a spiral staircase and the back up the other side. Apparently this is part of ‘National Cycle Route 1’ but I didn’t see any signs and you can’t cycle in the tunnel (probably for the best – it’s very busy with people walking). Even back on the north side of the river there didn’t seem to be any NCN1 signs – so I just hit the road and headed towards Poplar. There’s loads of interesting things on the back streets here so it was really cool to explore a bit, even if all of the roads did some how seem to lead to the A12, effectively a motorway. Eventually back to the Lea/Lee path and to the ‘stow.
With 29.3 miles (46km) on the clock it was a new personal best. Still a long way to go though – need to nudge that above 40 miles and cycle every day for a while to ‘toughen up’. Where to venture next I wonder…?
*Lea/Lee – it is spelt differently in places. No idea why.
Posted in Cycling, Transport Rant | Tagged: 18-55mm, Beckton, bike, blackwall reach, Bow, C913, Crossrail, Cycling, EOS 500D, Ferry, free, Greenway, greenwich, Hackney Wick, infrastructure, London, NCN1, Newham, North Woolwich, Old Ford Lock, Olympics, rant, Skyline, Stratford, Sustrans, Thames, traffic, Walthamstow, Woolwich | 1 Comment »
Posted by Alan on January 7, 2011
Even if you can break the ice…
Posted in Buildings and Places, Photography | Tagged: Cowm Park, EOS 500D, Lancashire, Reservoir, Sign, Whitworth | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Alan on December 31, 2010
So this is it? Another year draws to a close and a fresh one starts. 2010 has been a mixed year for me – looking back it seems almost as if I was stood still in a whirlwind (apologies for the blatant hyperbole). Quite a lot of stuff happened – some of it seems so much further away in time than reality! This blog is almost 2 years old now and is a little more diverse than it was on day one. Important events? Well, probably changing jobs slightly in April and rediscovering cycling as a useful form of transit just after the Cycle Hire scheme went live, the latter resulting in some reduction in mass so that I am no longer classified as obese by BMI – hurrah!
Highlights? There’s a few, which means it’s time for a python-esque list…
Resolutions? Maybe not.
However, 2011 will probably be a massive year of change. The cuts are coming – who knows whether what role there will be for me at work this time next year, so it’s probably a good year to be motivated and get stuff done. That said, having become an irregular cyclist in 2010 I do plan to become a regular cyclist and see if I can get my mass down < 75kg before the summer solstice. I’m going to have a second crack at the Bogle on foot and actually train (a bit). Much more photography to be done – I’ve vaguely learned what the buttons and numbers mean and how to use them. Next step, figure out how to point it at things in a more interesting way and figure out the best way of presenting the results.
My favourite shot of 2010 - The Oxo Tower & South Bank at night
So, time to raise a glass and get on with it…!
Posted in General Meh | Tagged: 2010, 50mm, EOS 500D, highlights, list, Oxo Tower, stuff | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Alan on November 22, 2010
This time I had the camera setup properly for panning, in ‘Tv’ mode (shutter speed priority) – basically allowing me to play with the shutter speed and let the camera figure out the rest.
The location is Ludgate Circus where New Bridge St / Farringdon Road converges with Fleet St / Ludgate Hill, looking towards Fleet St. It’s a busy cycle thoroughfare giving me plenty of opportunities to practice within 5 minutes stood on the pedestrian crossing.
Slowly, this part of London is ceasing to be a mystery to me. It’s amazing how small the city actually is once you start to learn your way around!
Posted in Cycling, Photography | Tagged: 50mm, Cycling, EOS 500D, London, Ludgate Circus, panning, Racer | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Alan on November 21, 2010
Before I went for cocktails at Cafe Kick yesterday, I aimlessly wandered EC1 with my SLR looking for things to shoot.
I’m rather pleased with this one, taken using Blackfriars Bridge as a tripod…
The full set is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/grimnorth/sets/72157625438184008/with/5195519338/ but I’ll be picking out a few more to show off during the course of this week.
Posted in Buildings and Places, Photography | Tagged: 50mm, EOS 500D, London, London Eye, Night, Oxo Tower, south bank | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Alan on November 21, 2010
Last night we were out celebrating Emerson getting a little bit older. As I’d been out in town playing with the SLR (+fixed prime lens), I still had it with me resulting in some more unusual photos from a night out.
This is Emerson with a Pearfect Martini.
Some of the other photos in the set are by Emerson and Roosh.
Posted in Food and Drink, Photography | Tagged: 50mm, Cafe Kick, EC1, Emerson, EOS 500D, Exmouth Market, London | 3 Comments »