Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Eat your greens - dont drive with them.

Surprise surprise, bio-diesel isn’t the great alternative fuel it was promised to be. As reported in the Guardian by George Monbiot - The biodiesel industry has accidentally invented the world’s most carbon-intensive fuel.
The idea that we can simply replace this fossil legacy – and the extraordinary
power densities it gives us – with ambient energy is the stuff of science
fiction. There is simply no substitute for cutting back. But substitutes are
being sought everywhere. They are being promoted today at the climate talks in
Montreal, by states – such as ours – which seek to avoid the hard decisions
climate change demands. And at least one of them is worse than the fossil fuel
burning it replaces.
The last time I drew attention to the hazards of making
diesel fuel from vegetable oils, I received as much abuse as I have ever been
sent by the supporters of the Iraq war. The biodiesel missionaries, I
discovered, are as vociferous in their denial as the executives of Exxon. I am
now prepared to admit that my previous column was wrong. But they’re not going
to like it. I was wrong because I underestimated the fuel’s destructive impact.
Its definitley worth checking out the full article here.
As he says there is no substitute for cutting back, but people are determined to maintain their current lifestyles at whatever the cost. The idea that its ok to protect the environment as long as it doesn’t threaten our economic stability is very short sighted. Its our economic system that is the problem in the first place. This is where traditional politics falls down, because whether you lean to the left or the right – a society based on production and consumption can only produce more and more waste in pursuit of greater profit.

Monday, November 21, 2005

School Runs

I've been doing quite a few school runs recently as my wife has been on late shifts. My five year old rides on the trailer bike and my 8 year old rides on her own bike, which is getting too small for her. Luckily there are cycle paths nearly the whole way to school, so getting there is no problem. But I then have to bring all the bikes back to the house before I head on to work which adds a lot of time on to my journey as i'm going back on myself. It also takes a bit of time strapping the bikes together for the return trip. Although I was impressed with myself for coming up with a way of strapping that was safe and secure the novelty of hauling the bikes back home wares off after a bit.
Luckily I've just found out that my parents in law may be buying house near the school, so i'll be able to leave the bikes with them and pick them up later. The only problem I can see now is when I get my daughter a bigger bike I wont be able to strap it to the trailer. I'm thinking of alternatives - possibly a Christiania for the school run and a Brompton for the solo part of my journey which I could carry with the kids in the Christiania.
Anybody else have any ideas?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Round The World in 4 Years

I love reading storys about great expeditions, and this has got to be one of the greatest. Alastair Humphreys has taken 4 years to cycle 45000 miles across five continents. I am so jealous, I dont even have enough time to cycle around Ireland - maybe one day. His maintainance problems put mine in to perspective -

While his machine is nominally the one he set out on, he has cycled his way
through five new wheels, 15 sets of tyres and three new bicycle frames. His
worst record for punctures was set in Bolivia - 15 in one frustrating day;
although the final stages in Europe have not proved plain sailing. Last week in
the Dolomites, he reported "15 punctures in four days, four broken chains, two
buckled wheels, a split tyre, a fragile bottom bracket, no back brake, six
broken spokes in a cracked rim and split hub and only about 10 gears still
working out of 27". - From the Guardian

What an achievement, i'm sure its going to be difficult for him to settle down. There is something so appealing about being continually on the move, maybe its a fear of finally reaching our destination.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Lighten up

Its that time of year when the hunt for the bike lights begins. I found the rear light no problem, but couldn’t find the front one anywhere. So as I knew I’d be riding home in the dark tonight I decided to go out and buy myself another one. I bought the dinky Cateye EL400 which is very bright for its size, and if my other light turns up I can attach this one to my helmet. Which will certainly get peoples attention when I look their way at junctions.
I also asked the bloke at the bike shop about replacing worn cones, and he said its not worth it because once the cones are worn the cup on the hub will also be worn so you may as well get a new wheel !!
Can this be right, I know my bike takes a lot of abuse as I ride it 22 miles a day in all weather conditions. But I only got new wheels last year. He also said that it doesn’t matter how much the wheels cost because he’s seen the same thing happen to a set of £300 wheels. Anyway, they are running a maintenance course after Christmas so hopefully next year I’ll be a more competent mechanic.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Clifden Trip

Had a great time in Clifden, Clifden is about 5 hours from Belfast on the West coast of Ireland and has some of the most beautiful coastline in the country. We travelled down on the Friday night and spent the evening outside the pub in the town centre watching the acrobats rehearse on a crane for the parade on the Saturday night. Clifden is famous for a couple of reasons.
Firstly its where Alcock and Brown landed after being the first people to make a non stop crossing of the Atlantic, its also where the film the quiet man was filmed. With these two facts running round my head I headed out of the town up Sky road. With a tail wind behind me the climbing was easy and the views were spectacular. The weather wasn’t great, but it didn’t matter at all. I was just enjoying being somewhere besides Belfast on my bike. I made a steep descent towards the end of the peninsula and then headed back towards the town with the hills offering me some protection from the wind that had aided my journey earlier on.
I didn’t have long to ride so this 14 mile circular route was ideal and I got back to the bed and breakfast in time to see my juggling partner Chris getting up (He’s not a morning person). The weather got worse as the day went on – probably the after effects of the hurricanes in America. So we had to do the shows in a big school hall, but the crowds are always great fun whenever we do a show down here, its definitely one of my favourite festivals in Ireland.
We finished the day off in the Alcock and Brown Hotel drinking Guiness, listening to a folk band and watching a hen party get more rowdy. A great weekend all round then, plus I got my picture in the Guardian!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hedge cuttings

Hedge cuttings
Originally uploaded by Bobbins.
I sent this picture to the Guardian last week. They phoned me on Monday to tell me I'd been short listed for going in this weekends magazine. So I was thrilled on Saturday morning to find that it was in!
I've just had a great weekend in Clifden, I'll post some pictures later.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Yet another great bike spotted this morning. I was walking the kids to school and we saw this trike just sitting on a patch of grass near the school. It wasnt locked up and every kid that came past had a sit on it. I dont know who owned it - maybe it belonged the lollypop man across the road.
I'm working at Clifden arts festival this weekend, and i'm bringing the bike, so hopefully i'll get a couple of rides along the west coast.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Get the message

Another interesting bike spotted on my commute in this morning.
The rain was lashing down but seeing this recumbent outside the city hall advertising the garden gourmet event this weekend cheered me up.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


With Trouble flaring up in Belfast again last night, and roads closed all over the place it was one of those days that you were glad you were on a bike.
As soon as I left work it was gridlock. Most employers told their staff to go home early so by 4 o’clock the streets were full of stationary traffic. I just sailed through it all, making a point of whistling a merry tune and swerving from side to side as I went. A couple of people said “you’ve got the right idea mate.” Apparently some people were stuck in Belfast for 2 ½ hours! I wonder how many of them came by bike today?
Looks like we might be in for more fun on Wednesday as fuel protests are due to start again.
Panic buying and hour-long queues at the pump always bring a smile to my face.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Ditch Monkey

I came across this blog the other day. Its about a bloke who is spending a year living in a ditch! He still go's to work each day in a suit and tie but each night go's and sleeps in a wood.
The idea was to raise sponsorship for the Woodland Trust. But he is also making a point about how little we actually need to live on, and how we can all try and reduce the amount of waste we leave behind. I seem to spend half my time telling shop workers not to give me plastic bags. Surely, it wouldnt be that difficult to charge for plastic bags - Lidls already do. And you'd think the government would give businesses some sort of tax incentive for not using non-recyclable packaging. But anything the government does always seems like token gestures to pacify the greens. My local council have recently introduced a re-cycling scheme but its only so they can avoid the financial penalties that they'll face if they keep sending as much stuff to land fill.
I think a lot of people think they are doing their bit by recycling some of their rubbish, but I think that the key issue that is often overlooked is that we shouldn't be creating as much rubbish in the first place.

Ditch Monkey

Friday, September 02, 2005

Back to the routine

Well its back to the daily routine after my short holiday. Its good to be back on the bike though - especially when I'm armed with my new camera! I saw this bloke struggling up the road as I waited at a set of lights so I went after him and asked if I could take his photo, he didn't seem to mind. He was carrying an old sink and a few other bits of scrap metal all in a homemade cart. It looked like hard work in this mini heat wave we've been having.
Just a few more thoughts on the Greenbelt festival: As usual it's more often the smaller things you see at a festival that stick with you. My favourite stall on the site was the bubble stall, who'd of thought you could have an entire stall just dedicated to making bubbles! I hope they made some money because they kept kids entertained for hours trying out all the stuff. Next door to the bubble stall was the fairy stall - basically all they sold was fairy wings and tutu's but they seemed to be doing good business. The juggling stall always had a big crowd outside trying all the stuff. I treated my self to a set of Poi, I think it's the only juggling art that I haven't tried. When you see someone who's really good at it, it always looks really relaxing - a bit like tai chi.
Besides The Proclaimers and Emiliana Torrini, who I knew would be good anyway, Juliet Turner and Duke Special were both worth seeing. And funnily enough they're both from Northern Ireland so getting to see them again shouldn't't be a problem.
I managed to hear 2 talks in full - Leo Hickman drew a big crowd for his question and answer session on his book "A Life Stripped Bare". I was about to ask him a question when someone else asked exactly the same thing - how do you deal with the ethical dilemma of choosing between fair trade and locally sourced products. His preference was for local but he said it was down to personal choice. I reckon if you cant buy it locally then you should go fair trade - but we should be helping these countrys to live sustainably aswell, and not necessarily see global trade as the best solution. When we got back there was a leaflet for a green living fair through our door and he's speaking there aswell, so I'll have to think of a better question - something along the lines of " with the current political structure of most of the modern world being predicated on the desire to consume, do you not think our attempts at recycling and saving energy are always just going to be a drop in the ocean in terms of the damage we are doing to the planet?"
I also contributed a few comments to a discussion on blogging but I''l have to listen to the download to remember what I said. Greenbelt is a christian festival, and not being a christian myself I did have some reservations about going. But I found it a very friendly and relaxing place, and the people were very motivated in terms of pushing the ethical living thing. One of the themes of this years festival besides making poverty history was living generously. This was something I could realy identify with, and since getting back I've already decided to give blood, change my bank account to the co-op and ask people if they are buying me to presents to consider "good gifts" . There were also a few nice folding bikes at the festival, and my wife started to get a bit fed up of me taking pictures of them all but i've posted a picture of one of them - it is a bike blog after all.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Greenbelt Folk Club

Well I finally got on to the net here at the festival. Two days in and I've just about seen round the whole site. I havent seen half the things I intended to, but thats always the way at festivals. I did manage to see Emilliana Torrini last night who was brilliant and we went along to the folk club this afternoon and I plucked up the courage to play a tune on the tin whistle. My daughter and I have been having lessons together since January, and every time I hear proper folk musicians it inspires me to learn more. I dont know why I left it till I was approaching middle age till I learnt an instrument but I reckon your never too old to do these things. The learning process seems to be quite similar to when I learnt to juggle and unicycle - you struggle along for months not getting very far, then suddenly something clicks and your brain understands what you are trying to do. Learning new skills is a real buzz, especially when it involves a bit of interaction with fellow human beings rather than machines ( he says typing in to a computer )i'm doing a bit of fire juggling tommorow morning, then in the afternoon going to listen to Leo Hickmans talk - all the talks from the festival are going to be available as downloads, i'll put a link when I get back.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Getting ready for Greenbelt

Just spent the last couple of days here in Pontypridd and we are now getting ready for the trip to Greenbelt tommorow. I've finally bought a new digital camera . Its a Sony DSC S80 for those of you interested in these sought of things. Its only 4.1 megapixels but I reckon thats more than enough for what I want it for, so hopefully they'll be a few more of my own pictures on the blog from now on. Anyone interested in getting a new camera should check out I found it really usefull and they give you good comparisons between the different brands, show you sample shots and let you know the cheapest place where you can buy it.
I had planned to build my brother a pair of stilts while I was here but we couldnt find the right type of wood - We usually use ash at the community circus. The festival were looking for jugglers for one of the events so i've offered my services - its always good to meet up with other jugglers, even if they just want to show off a new trick. Q. How many jugglers does it take to change a light bulb? A. 10, 1 to change the bulb and the other 9 to say I could do that!
Anyway, got to finish the packing. Next time I post will be from the festival site - hopefully with pictures taken on my new camera!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Leash the Celtic Tiger

Irelands econonmic growth over the last decade has been well reported. But is it time to put a leash on the celtic tiger?
The Irish government is pushing ahead with ill advised projects at the expense of the countrys heritage and health. But a growing resistance movement is making its presence felt.

The proposals to extend the M3 motorway through Tara hill / Skryne valley have brought wide spread criticism from both academics and the general public. The save Tara campaign is getting support from all over the world from people outraged at the potential destruction of this historically significant site. Road building seems to go ahead based on projections of future car use which arent taking account of peak oil. As this article in indymedia points out the road could become a white elephant within 10 years and all the destruction would of been for nothing.

Another campaign gaining support at the moment is the Shell to sea campaign which is seeking the release of 5 men: Micheál Ó Seighin, Willie Corduff, Brendan Philbin, Vincent McGrath and Philip McGrath who are in Cloverhill Prison, Dublin for not allowing Shell to build a pipeline through their land.

"We are currently in prison for refusing to allow Shell and their Irish
Government partners build a pipeline close to our family homes.

Our crime was to refuse access to our lands. We have refused access because of the certainty that if this pipeline as currently proposed ruptures we, our families and neighbours, will die."

Its frightening to see the Irish government taking so little concern for the rights of their own people, but its good to know that the Irish people arent going to take it sitting down.

So boycott Shell - as if I needed to tell you that anyway.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Bicycling Comedian

Listening to Mark Radcliffe on Radio 2 last night from the Edinburgh festival, I heard him talking to the bicycling comedian Tom synders. This guy has travelled to all his comedy gigs over the last 18 years by bike, and his visited every state in America as well as touring quite a bit in Europe. Tom started touring by bike when he didn’t have enough money to get to a gig, so he bought a bike and cycled 1400 miles in 14 days from Las Vegas to Des Moines in Iowa only to find the club had burnt down!I must admit this is a very attractive idea – I’ve always fancied doing my juggling show by bike but carrying the 8ft unicycle could be a bit tricky. But for some of the local kids shows I do around Christmas I might give it a go.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


This time next week we will be on our holiday. We are staying with my brothers family in Pontypridd for a couple of days before going to the Greenbelt festival. This will be my first Greenbelt. It's been ages since I went to a music festival. I went to Glastonbury a couple of times in my early twentys, but havent had much time for festivals since the family came along. So i'm looking forward to getting in to the festival mood, chilling out and seeing a few good bands. Its a very family based festival, so hopefully the kids will get as much out of it as we do.
I'm particularly looking forward to hearing Leo Hickman speak. He has written a book about trying to live ethically - "A Life Stripped Bare (Tiptoeing through the ethical minefield)" where he asks Is it possible to live a life that is western but also aware, or is the ‘Good Life’ the preserve of the eco-warriors, new-age spiritualists and the organic-product endorsing Hollywood set? Apparently some of the advice he received included: ‘The most sustainable food source is skips!’ and ‘Having children is the most unethical thing you can do, so try ceasing that for starters.’
I often think that people get the impression that those of us who try to live ethically are self righteous do gooders. But with all the evidence stacking up about the damage that our lifestyles are doing to the planet I cant understand people who do nothing about it. Thats part of what attracts me to cycling - it makes you feel good and you feel that you are doing something.
Musically - I'm looking forward to The Proclaimers, Karine Polwart and Emiliana Torrini and I'm sure there will be a few circus heads there for me to juggle with aswell.
They are also trying to do a virtual collage of the festival, so i'm going to try and post a few times while i'm there.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Piano Bike

Back to a bicycling theme ( just about) .

Found this on a google search. How does he cycle and use the pedals on the piano?

I'd like to see him try Alp D'Huez

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Originally uploaded by gentlytiptoe.

Hannahs latest creation

whoops - I meant to post this to my Family Blog but it ended up here by misstake. Oh well this is my sister in laws latest creation, lovely isnt it - very long arms and legs.

Friday, July 29, 2005

A sign of things to come?

The Guardian reported on Saturday how 36 people had died in riots due to fuel price hikes in Yemen.

"Looting broke out in the Yemeni city of Aden last night after two days of rioting over fuel price rises that left 36 people dead....Several police officers were among the dead. Locals are angry at a decision to remove subsidies on fuel, a move that has roughly doubled the price of diesel, petrol and kerosene and caused knock-on rises in fares for public transport."

Picture from Newswire

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Are SUVs a crime against civilisation

I know we've all heard the arguments before, but there is no harm in hearing them again.
From the ecologist

What does ‘choice’ actually mean? Could I nip down the shops in a tank?
What if I drove a Harley without a silencer up and down your road all night?

Or do you actually believe, as most of us do, that sensible limits should be placed on the freedom of drivers? If so, then it comes down to where we draw the line:
and I draw it at SUVs.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Useless with tools

I'm nearly at the end of my week off looking after the kids, and as usual didnt do half the things i'd intended. I've nearly finished stripping the bannisters - on and off its taken me nearly 2 years, but it should look nice when they are waxed.
I bought a tool kit for the bike aswell, hoping to finally able to service the bearings in my rear wheel myself, but when it arrived it didnt have the right lock ring tool so I had to go out and buy one. With much enthsiasm about my new tools I had a go but just couldnt shift the lock ring, maybe i'd left it too long. So I ended up getting the bike shop to do it again, I asked them if they thought it had been stiff and they said not particularly but you really need to have it in a vice. So it looks like thats another thing i'll have to buy. I dont want to be crap at servicing the bike but for some reason I just am. I'm good at keeping the tyres pumped up and clean the chain regularly, but I just dont seem to have a good eye for the intricate tweeks a bike needs.
My mum and dad went home last weekend after looking after the kids for a week. We had great fun with the Geocaching while they were here. We found a good one on the sustrans cycle route between Lisburn and Belfast which contained a travel bug - which is a small tag or token which you move from site to site, the goal for this bug was to visit as many sites in Ireland as possible so we helped it on its way. The bug was called my dads ankh, it was a cross symbol that used to be worn by this blokes dad who died before he ever got to see Ireland, so he's doing it posthumously.
I like the cycle route between Lisburn and Belfast but its not ideal for road bikes. I'd love to get one of these for the route though, it would be a real buzz arriving at work on one of these every day. I wouldnt feel particularly safe using it on the main road but I can get virtually all the way to work by the sustrans route. But I cant decide whether I should get one of these for £600 or save up and buy a good road bike. Anyway, these are just pipe dreams at the minute because i'm skint. Oh well, maybe next year. Check them out at KMX karts.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Treasure Hunt

While I’m stuck in the office on one of the hottest days so far this year my mum and dad have taken the kids to Hillsborough Park to do a GPS treasure hunt. They told me about this the last time I saw them. Basically you register on this web-site which allows you to get details of treasure hunts that people have set up all over the world and then you follow the route with your GPS and find the hidden treasure at the end of the route (usually a rubber or something small for the kids). You then leave something in its place for the next person to find. I’m not sure whether they do one for cyclists – but it would be pretty cool to do some longer routes, you could have a puncture repair kit as the prize (always comes in handy – especially with the amount of punctures I’ve been getting)
It was lovely cycling in this morning, I came in about 7.00 so the temperature wasn’t too hot and there were hardly any cars on the road. It’s the 12th July fortnight here at the moment (when a large section of the community either parades around in orange sashes and bowler hats, or watches people parading around in orange sashes and bowler hats) Its also a time when most people go on holiday so the roads are fairly quiet. I might do a detour on the way home and see a couple of friends who have just bought a big top style tent and are experimenting putting it up in a field for the first time, sounds like hard work on a day like today.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


I had a juggling job in Larne last Saturday . I always make a habit of asking any photographers taking pictures to send us a copy, they never did until today. Its not a particularly good shot (I think you need to be a juggler as well as a photographer to get good juggling shots) but it was nice to receive it anyway.
Larne is a funny place for a festival. For those of you not familiar with Northern Ireland, Larne is where most of the boats from Scotland sail to. But Larne doesn’t feel like a coastal town. The port is a big ugly blot on the landscape that just spews out all the freight traffic on to the dual carriage way to Belfast about 20 miles down the road. So you can’t blame them for trying to breathe a bit of life in to the town with a festival, but for some reason it just doesn’t feel right. The people just don’t seem to get it. The parade went well enough but the street we’d been given for our show was so depressing, it was at the back of the town and was populated by 2 charity shops, a butchers and a shoe shop.
The shoe shop was a story in itself; we didn’t pay much attention to it at first but then noticed an old man coming out of it. He tottered about like he was drunk, but I think it was more the effects of age than drink.
His shop had closing down notices in the front window, which, like the deck shoes and espadrilles, were bleached by the sun. A local told us that the notices had been in the window for about 20 years, and that the owner was 95. Later he came out with an old shoebox full of sweets for us and started telling us about his shop – how he was retiring soon and how some bloke had said he would buy his old stock. Its enough to bring a tear to your eye isn’t it .

Yet another victim of car culture - with the pile em high sell em cheap superstores offering free parking, and everything under one roof he could never compete. What was once probably a thriving street was now full of boarded up shops with just a couple left fighting to survive.
So as Larne strives for an identity by throwing a carnival once a year, they destroy any sense of community by allowing the big boys to move in and put the small shop owners out of business. A story being repeated all over the country, if not the world.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Bike To Work Day

Well, its bike to work day and surprise surprise the rain is lashing down outside. Civil servants from other departments had an organized ride this morning but I have to drop the kids off at school so I missed it.
There was one extra bike in the bike shed at the beginning of the week - I still dont know whose it was, but at least somebody rode one day of bike week. In fact you could say the number of people cycling to my office doubled!
Oh well, theres always next year.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A Clean Set of Wheels?

A green SUV, yeah right.

From the Guardian

If you read the motoring press then you might believe that the RX400h, with
its part electric/part petrol "hybrid" engine, has been sent from above to
single-handedly slay climate change. According to much of the coverage, there is
no need to feel guilty - if you ever did, that is - about driving an SUV, given
that the RX400h achieves up to three times the fuel efficiency of its market
rivals and an equally impressive reduction of polluting exhaust fumes. The
message is clear: relax everyone, the panic's over. A breathless review in
Automobile magazine talks of a car that "accelerates with V-8 gusto and cradles
its occupants in leather-lined luxury". The hyperbolic review ends: "The Lexus
RX400h provides the well-to-do with a sacrifice-free ride to social

So is this car the saviour many are claiming it to be? Could the hybrid
engine be the "bridging technology" that will enable us to reach the
oft-heralded, post-carbon age? Or is it just an eco-veneer being applied to what
is still a very dirty way of getting from A to B?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


After a couple of weeks cycling the trailer bike and my daughters bike back home every day I decided that I would leave the bikes locked to the fence outside the school and pick them up on my way home from work. On the second day of doing this I got back to the school to discover 3 flat tyres.
I pumped up the tyres on my daughter’s bike but the scum had pulled out the valve on the trailer bike tyre.
Of course all I got from my wife was I told you so, but it really annoys me that with all the cars near by that they never mess with them. Maybe its because they haven’t seen a trailer bike before so it got their attention. I just wish I’d caught them in the act.

Also, yesterday morning I got another puncture despite having 2 new tyres !
So I decided to e-mail the council and give them a piece of my mind. I told them that if they really wanted to encourage people to cycle in the city they should ensure that the cycle paths are well maintained and free from glass.
There has been the same patch of glass on the path now for over 2 months. With Bike to Work Week starting here next week I told them that this would be the ideal opportunity to ensure the paths are in order. There would be nothing more discouraging to a new cyclist than getting a puncture on their first day out.
I also highlighted the fact that to really encourage cycling they would need to have a cycle network that is integrated in to the main road system and actually went as far as the city centre. So far they only seem to have put cycle paths where it is convenient for them, not for us.
Lisburn is a very small city and the distance from one side of the city to the other is less than 5 miles which makes it an ideal place to get about by bike. Its just a pity that sustrans only seems to build cycle paths that attract tourists and Sunday cyclists rather than provide a real transport alternative. If I followed the sustrans route to work in the morning it would take me an extra 30 minutes.
Anyway on the plus side I saw a 4 wheeled recumbent carrying an advertisement hoarding yesterday – the only bummer was that it was on a trailer being towed by a 4x4.
Oh well every silver lining has a cloud.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Apeakolypse Now!

You can rely on Schnews to tell it like it is.

Apeakolypse Now!

Petroleum geologists reckon that the world oil peak will be sometime
between 2005 -2010. The majority of non-OPEC producers such as the United
States, Britain, Norway, and Mexico, who satisfy 60 percent of world oil demand, are already in a production plateau or decline. A leading guru, Colin Campbell (ex of Shell and Total Fina Elf) reckons 2007. Are we preparing for it? Are we readying ourselves to radically change our lifestyles and energy consumption? Of course not.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

New Tyres and Old Wrecks

After fixing three punctures in the space of a week, I decided it was probably time to get a new front tyre. I usually buy any spares and stuff for the bike when I’m in Belfast but as I was off work I decided to use a local shop - cycle zone in Lisburn.
The guy in the shop was friendly (always a reason to go back in my opinion) and had the "2" new tyres (I decided to splash out) on in no time. I was amazed when I checked their web site to see that there has been a cycling shop on that site for over 100 years! Its hard to imagine them working on penny farthings out the back – I’d love to see some old photos of the place.
I asked him about the Raleigh 20 I have rusting away in my garage. I wanted to find out if there was anywhere in Ireland that did re-sprays, but as I suspected there isn’t. If I can get the seat post out I think I’ll take it in to him and see if he thinks it’s worth spending the money on. I’ll probably have to send it to England for a re-spray.
I suppose it’s a matter of taste with the Raleigh 20, I love them. I used to ride mine all the time when I first came over to Ireland but it got a bit neglected when I got my current bike about 7 years ago. The poor thing even rusted away outside the circus office for about a year. I’d love to fully restore it and make it in to a fixed wheel, its just having the time to do it.
Check out Sheldon Browns Raleigh 20 page to see the type of thing I’m talking about. Anyway I’m sure I’ll have more to say about 20’s in future posts.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

G8 CycleCaravan

There were about 25 of us at the ride last night, which is enough to make an impact. Especially when one of the bikes is a tandem with recumbent front and mountain bike rear. And another has 2 dogs (real ones) wearing fighter pilot style hats in a front carrier ( I really am going to have to get a new camera).
We'd been out for about 15 minutes when the police finally caught up with us. A cop came up to me and said "you must be the ring leader because you've got the whistle" which I thought was funny, the only reason I have a whistle is because i'm in a stilt samba band. He tried to tell me about the highway code but couldnt quote any sections, luckily I knew section 139 says that cars should give bikes as much room as they would another car when overtaking.
He then decided to go and harass one of the others for handing out leaflets. Eventually we agreed to leave one lane clear, and as some of the cars passed it was good to see some of them smiling and waving - perhaps we arent hated as much as we think we are.
Some of the group are going on the G8 bike ride, I'd love to go to but I'll be working - anyway its good to know that some people will be there representing Belfast.
Looks like i'm getting to go on a ride today. My wife is taking the kids to her aunties for a bbq, but I have a show this morning which means i'll have to ride down later - about 7 miles each way. Her village is having a country sports fair this weekend (fox hunting, shooting etc) so you never know, there might be another chance for a bit of direct action.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Critical Mass

I got a puncture this morning, the tyre has needed replacing for a while now, but I’ve been to lazy to replace it. I’d used my spare tube last week and didn’t have a puncture repair kit, but luckily I was near a shop that sold them so I was back on the road quickly enough. I always leave bike maintenance too late, I really should make more time for it.
I saw a poster this week for critical mass tonight. There hasn’t been one for ages in Belfast. They used to have them more regularly, but Belfast is quite a small place and the numbers attending were always quite small. So now they seem to be incorporating them in to other protests – last year they had one about the war in Iraq and this one is about the G8 summit. I once did critical mass on my unicycle, which was fun, but I’ll be on 2 wheels tonight.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Cycling in Fishnets

It was great to see an article on cycling in the Guardian weekend magazine. Bikes rarely get good coverage in the press, and it’s usually in the news section. To get people on their bikes we do need to portray cycling as something to aspire to, and I can’t think of many better places to do this than in a lifestyle magazine. Plus you’ve got to have something to counter balance all the adverts for SUVs. Reading about Zoe Williams cycling in her fishnets (she reckons if more people are looking at her legs – they are less likely to crash in to her) brought a smile to my face. And if I weren’t a cyclist already the thought of seeing a woman cycling in fishnets would certainly get me on a bike.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Blog Route

You may have noticed the blog route logo down the right hand side. Its still quite new, but a great place to check out other cycling blogs. Well done to Kent Hall (velodiablo) for coming up with the idea.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Happy Cycling

The bike seat / trailer bike combination is no more. My 7 yr old now rides her own bike to school and my 5 yr old goes on the trailer bike, which make the whole journey a bit easier.
On the first day I wondered how I was going to get my daughters bike back home. But with a bit of experimentation I can now safely secure her bike to the trailerbike with bungee cords and ride the whole lot home again. Don't know what I'm going to do when she gets a bigger bike though.
The weather has been brilliant this last week, and the kids love being out on the bikes. We even went to Wallace park at the other side of Lisburn which is much nicer than our local park which is usually full of broken glass and grafitti. I can see some bigger expeditions coming on this summer!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

my profile and links seem to have dissapeared down to the bottom of the page, dont know why. I've fiddled about with it and seem to have made it worse, So you might see things looking a bit different till i sort it out.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The end of oil is closer than you think

More oil Depletion news in the Guardian
Is it me or do you think there has been an increase in this type of article in the press over the last year. Me thinks they've realised we have a problem.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Long Emergency
Posted by Dave

The Long Emergency

I found a link to this article The Long Emergency on another web site (sorry cant remember where now). I've read a few articles on the depletion of oil reserves, most of them fairly long winded, but I liked this one - it was short and to the point i.e. Oil is running out and there isnt really an alternative.
I did the juggling show at a vintage car rally at the folk and transport museum last weekend. Since when is a Ford Escort Mark 3 a vintage car? And why do the enthusiasts spend so much time polishing their engines - sounds like a double entendre.
They take it all so seriously aswell, you can imagine todays boy racers (if they survive long enough) looking at their Corsas with a nostalgic glint in their eye in 20 years time - only then it will be more poignant for them as there wont be any cars on the roads (with a bit of luck) they'll all be in museums or being melted down for bike parts:)

Thursday, April 07, 2005


I fell off my bike yesterday. The wheel rim split, jammed in to the break and threw me over the handlebars. Luckily all I suffered was a couple of scrapes but I’m going to have to wait till the weekend to sort the bike out.
I’m not the best at cycle maintenance, but I can’t see how I could of prevented this from happening? You can feel when your breaks are wareing down, you can see when your tyres are going bald, but I wouldn’t know where to start checking my rims. The back wheel was replaced last year but the front one was as old as the bike – about 7 years. Maybe you should get new wheels every five years or something.
Anyway, I think I need a spare bike for times like this. I’m tempted by the Edinburgh Bicycle coop’s Revolution Courier ( – widely regarded to be the best value for the mid £200-£300 area. Then I could do up the racer and use it more for fun and less for commuting. Lidl’s have got cheap cycling gear in at the moment so I got some mits, shorts, jersey and jacket – not the height of fashion, but on my budget at the moment beggars cant be choosers so it’ll do nicely.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Check out some nice bike movies at
Posted by Dave

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Chavs, dont you love em
Posted by Dave

Boy Racers

I don't know what they call them where you live, it's boy racers over here. Now I consider myself to be quite a calm, laid back, don't want any trouble, anything for an easy life type of person but boy racers really piss me off.
Halfords were opening a new store in Lisburn today, and my friend Mr Wizzy was stilt walking for the opening so I popped over with the kids to have a word. Halfords have their own brand of Chav car accessories called ripspeed and the ripspeed girls were there for the assembled boy racers to oggle at.
I don't know what it is that annoys me the most about boy racers - the speeding, the loud exhausts, the parking in the disabled spot at the local vivo, or the dropping of McDonalds wrappers out of the window.
To be honest I think its just the act of "cruisin" that annoys me the most. While I'm taking care to reduce my family's car use to a minimum, they're driving around just for the hell of it. I'd hardly call 20 nightly trips around the town centre an essential journey.
Then everyone acts all surprised when one of them wraps a car round a tree. Three lads from the local college were killed last year when they took their corsa out for a spin at lunchtime. Our local councilor (who's a bit of a car lover himself) said we shouldn't jump to conclusions about the accident, but I'm sorry if you managed to kill all of your passengers on a straight country road with no other cars involved, It doesn't take a genius to work out that you were probably speeding.
I went in to Halfords anyway to look at the bikes, but didn't buy anything because I didn't want to indirectly support the "cruisin" scene, plus their bikes are crap. I think its better to support your local bike shop anyway. I use LifeCycles in Belfast

Monday, March 28, 2005

Guilt Free Travel

Nice to see a couple of comments on the blog. I'm going to stick a picture of me and the kids on the bike - unfortunately my camera broke last summer and I've had to rely on my mate Chris's camera phone so it'll probably be a bit blurry.
I've just got back from a family wedding in Hartford. The only way we could afford to get over was by flying. It's nice to see my relatives but I sometimes think is all the good I do by cycling every day wiped out by flying over to London? I know that you can offset the carbon emissions by paying to have trees planted or something, but to be honest we couldn't even afford the flights - even though they were on Easyjet.
So with a family like ours, with my parents and two brothers all living at opposite ends of the country what options do I have? If we go by car, we'd probably be driving for over 400 miles and using a ferry aswell. We could use train and ferry I suppose, but its difficult with 2 kids and a lot of luggage. And we couldn't do the whole trip in one weekend.
It would have been easier if we'd all stayed where we grew up but life's never that simple.
But then I see Moby (supposedly an environmentalist) giving an interview for EasyJets inflight magazine, and Sting (supposedly an environmentalist) swanning about on the last Concorde flight swigging champagne, and I think maybe I'm not that bad after all.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Bicycle made for three

I finally tried bike + child seat + trailer bike combination this week and it worked! The only problem is a bolt that hangs down from the child seat and scrapes the trailer bike, but there is a plastic sleeve protecting the frame and i'm going to file the offending bolt down this weekend.
The one thing about having 2 kids behind you is that cars do seem to give you a lot more room, but I only have to use the road for a tiny stretch as there is a cycle path for most of the way to the school, although it is covered in glass in parts. I've been tempted to bring a dustpan and brush with me.
You get quite a lot of people smiling at you and kids saying cool, but I dont see many of them getting out of their cars and doing the same. Who knows - one day it might be their only option.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Tales from the river bank

Seeing as I didn’t have to bring the kids to school this morning I decided to take the scenic route.
I used to use the Lagan towpath more regularly, mainly on the way home during the summer, but I got fed up with the dogs, glass and kids. And I usually only went half way by towpath. So today I decided to go all the way, it adds another 3 or 4 miles on to my 11 mile commute but its nice for a change. I’m lucky that I can get to the river about half a mile from my house and make it virtually all the way to work without using any roads. Its good not having to fight with motorists for space and on the towpath other cyclists are more likely to say hello as they overtake me (its rarely me overtaking them). It only added about 10 minutes on to my journey, so I think as the evenings get brighter I’ll do it more often.
Last week I was coming home late after doing a juggling gig at the waterfront hall (not as grand as it sounds – I was fire juggling outside as the guests were coming in) and in my first weak attempt at “subvertising” I decided I’d stick a “BAN THE 4x4” poster on a Jeep bill board in Dunmurry. I pulled over, waited for a couple of cars to pass and got the pritt stick out. No sooner had I stuck it up that a bloke on a cheap mountain bike rolled up, he hadn’t noticed the poster, it was only on a crappy sheet of A4 and fell off the next day. He was concerned that I might have a puncture, which I thought was very nice of him. But I couldn’t help wondering what he was doing out at 11.00 at night in the middle of winter with his pot belly, bottle end glasses, £60 mountain bike and crap pound shop l.e.d. lights.
Anyway, he starts talking about cycling – how convenient it is not having to wait for buses etc. Fair point, but then he veers off in to some rehearsed piece about the queen and some MP talking to her about god. Here we go I thought. Then he starts singing this hymn – how are you meant to react in a situation like that? Laughing in his face might be considered rude. I don’t mind Christians – my twin brother is one. But I always cringe at their attempts to witness to people, it was a cold winters night in Dunmurry of all places!
I started putting my things back on the bike, hopeful that this would drop him a massive hint that I was leaving but he asked me where I was cycling too and if I wouldn’t mind him coming along for the ride. That’s all I need – a cycling Christian stalker following me home on a Wednesday night – “look dear, I’ve brought a weirdo home”. Now I’m not the fastest cyclist by any stretch of the imagination, but I thought I’d take it easy to give him a chance to pull along side. I looked behind after about 30 seconds to see where he was and guess what, he’d completely vanished! Only joking, he was about 50ft behind me so I stuck the foot down and lost him.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

What a Corker

I got the chance to ride my bike further a field last weekend.
I was working in Cork for the opening celebrations of their year as City of Culture. We did a couple of shows in the newly refurbished city centre which were going great till a 20ft TV screen started belting out music in the build up to a big firework display. The festival was organised by Spraoi – Waterfords festival organisation, which begs the question – why Cork City of Culture and not Waterford?
But I have to say the city centre did look good – a lovely backdrop to our show, and I’m sure people visiting the city this year wont be disappointed.
I went out on the bike on the Saturday morning, with a vague notion of heading towards the coast – but when you forget to bring a map this isn’t such an easy proposition. I set off in the direction I thought the sea should be, but after about 5 miles realised I was probably travelling further inland. So I decided to just head up a steep hill to see what I could see from the top. It was a lovely crisp, clear day – a nice change after the storms of the day before. It felt good to give the bike a good ride after the excesses of the Christmas period and the hills really got my blood pumping. Getting to the top of the hill confirmed that I was nowhere near the sea, but the view of Cork was nice and I did see a house with its own conservatory – a big white sphere stuck in the garden – made me wish I hadn’t dropped the digital camera last summer. The ride back down the hill was fast and exhilarating, but cold, as I had forgotten my hat and gloves. I got back in plenty of time to prepare for the show, then later finished the day with a swim, sauna and a game of cards in the hotel bar – lovely.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Think Bike

Those of us who cycle are aware of the thinking time that riding your bike gives you. Thats one of the main attractions for me, along with combining exercise and travel in one therefore freeing up more of your day - why doesnt everyone do it?
Anyway, apparently Einstein came up with his theory of relativity whilst riding his bike and to celebrate Einstein Year (Whats wrong with Einstein Day?) some Boffins have come up with a new BMX trick called the Einstein Flip
From the Guardian - "The stunt was created by Cambridge physicist Helen Czerski in collaboration with professional BMX rider Ben Wallace. Ms Czerski claims the stunt is "pushing the boundaries of what it is humanly possible to do on a bike". "( post title links to article)
I've always loved seeing what people can do with a bike, I'm not bad with the unicycle and ride an 8ft one but I think thats easier then pulling a wheelie.
I'm travelling down to Cork this weekend to do a show and i'm planning to bring the bike aswell so I can see all those things that you miss when your in a car.
Happy New Year.
It was my first time on the bike for a week and a half yesterday and I had a tail wind easing my journey on the way in which had died down by the time I was going home making the return journey quite pleasant as well.
I also had that rare occasion of another cyclist riding alongside me for a chat. I think it was the same bloke I chatted to a couple of years ago – we talked about the nice wind that morning and the various alternative routes of getting from Belfast to Lisburn. He uses the tow path quite often, which is a nice route but one I don’t use too often because of the glass, uneven ground, and too many dogs. He wasn’t going the whole way to Lisburn last night but I was glad of the short chat – I think I’d be too shy to start one myself, but it does make you feel part of a wider community.