Saturday, December 09, 2006

Plastic bag bag

Cele's Plastic bag bag
Originally uploaded by Bobbins.
Thought you might like to see this bag that my talented wife made out of old Tesco bags. Some of the bags are bio-degradeable so hopefully it wont collapse.
Watch out for pictures of my hand knitted dish cloth after Christmas!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Juggling footprint

One of the things about being a juggler is you do have to travel a fair bit to do jobs. We use my juggling partners car most of the time as it is the only option for lugging around a big unicycle and a trunk full of equipment.
So if you include the parrafin I burn on my fire torches - my carbon footprint from my juggling job is probably bigger than that for my office job which I commute to by bike.
Added on to this is the guilt of occasionally taking on corporate gigs for the likes of coca cola - they are charity events though.
At the moment we are performing in a few towns for their Christmas Lights switch on (yet more carbon wasted) and last week we were in Larne and guess what. Santa turned up in a stetch hummer!! I could barely hide my disgust and I actually said to the organizers "do you think santa should be turning up in a hummer with global warming happening?" She took it as a joke and just laughed it off, and I didnt take it any further because I still wanted to get paid.
I mean, Hummers are bad enough but a stretch hummer!!! Who came up with that idea?

One of my juggling friends Caoihme has just moved to Lisburn and she also cycles, so we both commuted in together this morning. She usually just cycles around the town so the 10 mile journey this morning was a bit more of a challenge for her - but not much considering she is the Female World Brazillian Ju Jitsu Blue Belt Champion!
Any way, it was a nice crisp morning and she enjoyed the ride. So it will be nice to have someone to cycle in with once in a while.

A stretch Hummer ! I just cant get over it!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Check this.

For those of you who see the attraction in working less and spending less I thought I would bring you attention to this book.
Martin Lewis, for those of you who don’t know, is a “money saving expert.” He is a familiar face on British TV and his web site is dedicated to saving people money. In response to some of the more ethically aware contributors to his forum he set up a page for green / ethical money saving, as well as a saving money “Old Style” page, and as a result of this page he has now published a book - Its called "Thrifty waysfor modern days"

“It’s a compendium of hints and tips on living life thriftily, ethically, cheaply and healthily. It’s written off the huge collective wisdom of the site’s ‘Old-Style’ board, which started when some of the site’s older visitors wanted to share their accumulated knowledge; it covers cleaning (white vinegar galore), clothing, home maintenance, recipes and everything on running a home without over-consuming.”

Plus – all the money from the book go’s to charity.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Curb your emissions

Laurie David, according to an article in this weekends Guardian, is one of America’s foremost environmental campaigners. She is also married to Larry David – writer of “Curb your enthusiasm” and “Seinfeld”
Laurie David has campaigned against SUV’s and has been a driving force behind the Al Gore movie – “an inconvenient truth”. She has even written a book “The solution is you – an activist’s guide”.
All admirable pastimes for a wealthy liberal, but here is the problem – not only does she own a second home, she also owns a private jet! So regardless of the fact that she only uses it a few times a year, her carbon footprint must be as big as a fleet of SUV’s.
I just don’t understand how an environmental campaigner expects to be taken seriously when they own a private jet – this has got to be one of the worst excesses of the wealthy “elite”.
To me it just de-values all of the other good work that she does. If you want people to change their lifestyle in order to save the planet there is only one place you can start – yourself!
I think the British and American definitions of an eco-warrior differ somewhat. When I hear (some) Americans talk about eco-warriors – they more often mean some high flying environmental lawyer, or some Hollywood celebrity, or some entrepreneurial business man who is “doing their bit”. Whereas in the UK, we are more likely to think of Swampy and other activists who bury themselves underground to prevent a runway being built or handcuff themselves to a JCB digger to prevent it cutting down some trees.
I’m sure the high earning eco-warriors are doing their bit to raise awareness of the issues, but I’m afraid you’ll have to do better than that if you are going to earn our respect.
If there is one thing that this earth can’t sustain – it’s millionaires!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Minister encourages direct action

As global crisis looms ever closer it’s good to see a government minister encouraging a bit of direct action.
Despite an agreement with some of the countries biggest retailers to reduce their packaging it isn’t happening as fast as some of us would like. I was therefore glad to see that environment minister Ben Bradshaw has advised food shoppers to leave excessive wrapping at the tills and to report the stores to trading standards in an attempt to cut the amount of unnecessary plastic sent to landfill sites.
From being a minority interest a few years back, green politics really seems to be making an impact. Every day sees several new environmental stories in the broadsheet newspapers.
I wonder, come election time, how this will translate in to votes for the Green Party? With the main parties increasingly incorporating green policies in to their manifestos, I hope the Green Party doesn’t miss the opportunity to push for some truly green policies.
A truly green manifesto needs to be a lot more radical than what the main parties are suggesting, but at the same time the general public are less inclined to vote for policies that will impact on their lifestyle.
People before profit has never been a popular position to adopt, but as the effects of global warming become increasingly apparent the radicalisation of our political system might be an interesting by-product of this process.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Happy to be ethical

I have just finished a book by Peter Singer called Practical Ethics. Singer was one of the key thinkers in the animal rights movement, but his work goes much further than this, and has informed much of the debate that exists around environmentalism amongst other things.
In his conclusion to the chapter on the environment he says :

“The emphasis on frugality and a simple life does not mean that an environmental ethic frowns upon pleasure, but that the pleasures it values do not come from conspicuous consumption.”

In the final chapter on why we should act ethically he argues that taking the ethical point of view offers a meaning and purpose in life. And I think that in our increasingly secular society this is certainly true. I think that there is a certain amount of fulfilment that can be gained through trying to live an ethical life, which is something that those who accuse us of being killjoys seem to miss.
One of the most enjoyable parts of my day is the simple pleasure I get from commuting by bike. Nothing I could go out and buy, at whatever price, would give me more satisfaction than the simple freedom that the bike gives me.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A return to the simple

Being the only person in my office who cycles to work, and the only person who bothers to collect all the tins and bottles for recycling (even though I don’t buy tins and bottles myself). I sometimes wonder does anyone else in this place give a shit. But having read an e-mail from a colleague who is leaving his job today made me think that maybe there are more people disillusioned with modern living than you think.
I didn’t really know the bloke – he worked in I.T. but he included this poem in his farewell e-mail, which went out to several thousand people across Northern Ireland.
Now I’m intrigued to find out what he has left to do – I’ll let you know if I find out.

“Thank you for all the fond memories that I take with me and I wish you all the best wherever your lives take you. I can't think of any intelligent words of wisdom of my own to leave on, so here are someone else's...

A return to the Simple

Press the pause button.
It's time to feel the rain, the wind, the cold mountain air.
Turn the mobile phone off. It does have an off button.
Let the laptop power down.
Leave the e-mails go un-read.
Shred the to do list.
Unplug the television.
Ebay the playstation.
Don't eat anything you haven't made yourself.
Shop local.
Spend only what you can afford.
Leave the city.
Head to the hills.
Hear the quiet.
Look up at the sky.
Hear the noises of the wood.
Make a campfire.
Watch the fire flicker and the beans bubble.
Time to recharge those batteries.
Things got too complicated back there.

Gary Mitchell “

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Oliver Postgate

For those of you not from the UK, I’d better explain who Oliver Postgate is. Oliver Postgate is best known in the UK as the maker of some classic kids TV programmes from the 60’s and 70’s including Bagpuss, Ivor the Engine, and The Clangers.
But more recently he has come to public attention through a couple of large advertisements he has placed in the Guardian newspaper. His first advertisement attracted a lot of comment – people asked “what right have you, an ignorant old person in a basement, to tell the government that it must do what you tell it to do, or everybody may die?”

Here is his reply :

I do apologise most sincerely for that. I have no such right. What I have is a duty. Let me tell you a story about it:

“I am walking along the path behind the cliff and I see, over the fence, that a small child, not more than two years old, is blithely toddling straight towards the brink of the cliff. Now the ground inside the fence is private property, with stern notices, so I have no right to enter on to it. But all the same, I have a duty to jump over the fence, run across, pick her up and carry her, bawling blue murder, to safety.”

Human society is that child, that happy, greedy, outraged moppet, totally self-centred and lovable, but it too has no grasp of its situation and now it is also toddling towards the brink.

Is this our fault?

Not particularly. In our civilisation, in which a nation’s economic success is measured by its “growth”, consumer-spending is a vital component. It is a competitive commercial world in which, for the economic health of our nation, we are honour-bound to over-eat, over-spend and over-waste. As units of consumption that is our function.
The side-effect of this function – global warming, was recognised long ago, and successive governments have worked hard to avoid coming to terms with the inconvenient fact that our “conspicuous consumption” has been slowly poisoning the whole climate of the world.
Now we have run out of time. Global warming is on the brink of becoming irreversible!
If the human race is to avoid having to face slow, irreversible extinction in a disaster torn world, it must, as a race, take immediate draconian action to reduce carbon emissions to a level which will not only eliminate the green house effect but also cause the planet to cool away the vast heat charge it has already received during the years of neglect.
Personal economy is necessary and can help, but the bulk of carbon emissions come from larger sources which only government legislation can deal with.
The present government has been making a show of tackling this, but the task it has given to its scientists is not simply to find a way to end global warming – they could do that at once – but to do so “without cutting either our economic growth or our living standards”.
As these are the two main causes of global warming, this task does, as they say: “present some difficulties” in that, from among the many different speculative predictions on offer, the scientists are being expected to seek and select, as definitive, the most “politically practical”.
To do that is potentially suicidal. As nobody can pretend to know for certain what is going to happen to the climate, the only safe and sensible thing to do is to deal with it now. So GLOBAL WARMING IS A GLOBAL EMERGENCY – Our duty is to see that it is fully dealt with, now.
Oliver Postgate
October 2006.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Green Consumers

I often cringe at the term “green consumer”. A lot of people love to shop, and I think that many of them see “green shopping” as “doing their bit” – whilst still being able to shop shop shop. Aren’t I good buying this hemp cd holder made by Guatamalan peasants!

At the end of the day it comes down to the simple fact that modern society has been built on this desire to consume, and it is a pattern of behaviour that has quickly become part of our psyche.

I certainly don’t think it helps to identify ourselves as consumers – green or any other type.

Ethical consumerism is a bit of a paradox – I don’t see how you can identify yourself as a consumer and consider yourself ethical.

The truth is we need to work less, spend less and do less.

This is a point of view that has been expressed much more clearly than I can by a comment that I have noticed posted on a few different blogs recently, and I think it is well worth repeating here as well. The piece is written by someone called sushil yadav and you can see the full piece here.
You may not agree with everything in the article but it will certainly make you think.

Here are some of the best quotes:

The Environment can be saved only if we stop production of most [more than 99% ] of the consumer goods we are making today. The Environment cannot be saved by recycling. The attempt of an industrial society to save the environment by recycling is like shooting someone 10,000 times and then trying to save him by taking out one bullet.

We can never save the environment by doing something. We can only save it by doing less of what we have been doing - much less of what we have been doing. If we want to save environment we will have to reduce human activity [overactivity] by 99%.
We can have Sustainable Lifestyle.
We cannot have Sustainable Development.
Development can never be sustainable.
Sustainability and Development cannot exist together.
Development and Sustainability are opposites.
Development and Sustainability are contradictory.
Sustainable Living is associated with consuming less – being satisfied with a simple and frugal life.
Development is associated with never ending desires – always wanting more.
Industrial Societies can never be sustainable – When you make thousands of consumer goods you kill Nature - you kill Animals, Trees, Air, Water and Land.
A Society that does mental work [city based] can never be sustainable - it will keep on making consumer goods - destroying the environment moment by moment.
Only agriculture-based societies that do physical work can be sustainable.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

War on Terror

After years of frustration at watching people queue up in the bike / bus lanes on my way to work, I finally saw 2 cops standing on the pavement this morning making sure that drivers stuck to their lane. Maybe seeing the cops enforcing the law might make some people think twice about using the bike lane in the future – who am I kidding? It’ll be back to normal tomorrow.
Traffic law just isn’t enforced strongly enough in my opinion, I include some fellow cyclists in this as well. I see more cyclists on the pavement than I do on the road – I even saw one cyclist tutting and shaking his head because 2 pedestrians had held him up – you shouldn’t even be on the pavement you knob!
More people died on British roads last year than were killed in the twin towers – so how about a real war on terror – war on the car!
The car kills more of our civilians than terrorism ever will; yet governments are reluctant to bring in tougher sentences for people who kill by dangerous driving.
I suppose at the end of the day the people in the twin towers died for the same reason as the people on the road – OIL!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Cycle Powered Washing Machine

Great idea, we're a bit pushed for space in our kitchen though.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Back to Clifden

The weather over here is atrocious at the moment. If any one has tips for getting trainers dry (without putting them over the radiator and stinking the house out) I’d be glad to hear them.
I’m taking the bike in for a pre-winter service in a couple of weeks and whilst its in I think I’ll get them to fit mud guards and a rack. I’m fed up of water spraying up my back and lugging huge weights around my shoulders.
I was in Clifden over the weekend for their annual arts festival, I didn’t bring my bike with me this year and I forgot the camera – so here is a picture from the web.
Last year I rode round the Sky Road which has fantastic views over the Atlantic, but this year I had to console myself with a short walk to the monument that overlooks the town.
It really is my favourite festival in Ireland. Connemara is astoundingly beautiful, and the locals are all ways really welcoming.
We stay in the same B&B every year and Gerry, the fella that owns it, also works for the local fire service and has numerous other jobs connected to the festival.

We usually end up each night in the Alcock and Brown Hotel where there is music and singing in to the wee small hours. If your wondering who Alcock and Brown are – they were the first men to fly across the Atlantic and they crash landed somewhere near Clifden.
The town seems to expand every year, but hopefully they’ll not let the development go on indefinitely as this really is one of Irelands best kept secrets and it would be a shame to spoil it with too many modern apartment blocks.
We are performing at the Enchanted Evenings in Botanic Gardens in Belfast this week, so hopefully the weather will clear up for that. It was a nice wee event last year – lots of pixies and stuff. The kids loved it.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Check this.

I think it’s time that I flagged up a few of the blogs/podcasts that I read/listen to on a regular basis. Just because I’ve heard of these sites, I presume that everyone else has – but I know that’s not always the case. and

Guardian writer George Monbiot has to be one of the most important writers on the issues of green politics and global justice. What I like most about his site is the way he challenges other writers to back up their claims and reveal who their paymasters are. So often we see stories in the press reported as fact, yet we rarely consider whether these stories have received the rigorous analysis that any research should receive from a peer reviewed journal.
His latest book and web site – turn up the heat ( attempts to expose greenwashing and challenges organizations to live up to their green claims.

Here are a couple of quotes from the site, a couple of digs at the type of people that think they are “doing their bit”:

“The middle classes think they have gone green because they buy organic cotton pyjamas and handmade soaps with bits of leaf in them – though they still heat their conservatories and retain their holiday homes in Croatia”

“In promoting biodiesel – as the European Union, the British and US governments and thousands of environmental campaigners do – you might imagine that you are creating a market for old chip fat, or rapeseed oil, or oil from algae grown in desert ponds. In reality you are creating a market for the most destructive crop on earth…I thought that the biggest problem caused by biodiesel was that it set up a competition for land. Arable land that would otherwise have been used to grow food would instead be used to grow fuel. But now I find that something even worse is happening. The biodiesel industry has accidentally invented the world’s most carbon-intensive fuel.”

If you haven’t done so already, you really should check out these sites.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The pressure continues

The pressure continues to build up on the motor industry.
The Guardian reports that the state of California is suing the 6 big motor companies for contributing to global warming.

I think we always look on America as the big bad polluter that couldn’t care less about the planet and wouldn’t sign up to the Kyoto protocol. But we shouldn’t forget that there are some people in America that are taking this issue seriously. California’s actions can only make more people aware of the issues, and face up to the implications of years of apathy that have allowed the big polluters to get away with murder. I wonder if California's governorator still drives a hummer?

Also, this week has seen The Royal Society writing to ExxonMobil to tell them to stop denying climate change. They want ExxonMobil to withdraw funding from groups that "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence".

Finally, this week saw the release of “The Inconvenient Truth” in the UK. Al Gore may be jetting around the globe to pass on the message but at least he’s keeping the debate alive.

But despite all the information out there, people still don’t get it. The Government and Local Councils have these big pushes on to encourage us to recycle, but fail to realise that it’s the excessive consumption that causes the problem in the first place. Of course – they aren’t going to tell us to buy less – the whole system is predicated on encouraging an increasing amount of consumption and therefore waste.

I just can’t see how big business can ever be compatible with a sustainable society. Not only should we be working locally, but our food, and just as importantly our energy should be sourced locally. Better still, we should cater for all our own needs through self-sufficiency – I really need to build that green house before winter sets in.

One more thing, Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond was critically injured attempting to break a speed record for the programme. Although it’s very sad for all concerned, was it really that unexpected from a programme that glorifies speed on a weekly basis, that one of their presenters would come to some sort of harm? More people die on British Roads each year than were killed in the twin towers, yet we still allow cars on our road that are capable of more than double the speed limit. Some people say we don’t need a nanny state enforcing speed restrictions, but if people behave like kids, nanny needs to take their toys away!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Trip to Dublin

Bike culture definitley seems a bit stronger in Dublin

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Random musings

I haven’t been keeping this blog very up to date recently. I think when it gets to the summer I just end up too busy to do anything. Maybe if I put more random musings in here rather than just focusing on bike related stuff it might get updated more regularly. I'll probably stick a few more photos on as well.
Having 2 jobs is useful and has been necessary over the last few years as my other half has been training to be a midwife. But now that she has qualified – I will hopefully be able to work less. In an ideal world I would love just to do the juggling work and grow all our own food but I doubt whether my other half would be happy with that.
I don’t mind working as a civil servant – union membership is very high and it’s pretty much a job for life. But I can’t help thinking that my time would be much better spent doing other stuff. Promotion prospects are pretty non-existent, and to be honest I couldn’t be bothered with the extra responsibility if I were promoted. Its not that I’m lazy (maybe a bit) but I just don’t feel motivated by pushing bits of paper around a desk.
I’m planning not to work next August – which will give me more time off with the kids as well as giving me more time to do my other job.
We are going away for the weekend for our anniversary, my wife doesn’t know yet and as she rarely (never) reads my blog it will hopefully stay a secret till we go away on Friday. It’ll be good to get away together and think about the next stage of our life – now that she is a qualified midwife, paying the bills isn’t going to be quite as difficult as it has been recently. We might even get a proper holiday next year for the first time ever.

Monday, August 21, 2006


You think you live in a place where not many accidents happen with cyclists and then 2 happen in the same week. I was emptying out the circus van last week when I heard a screech followed by some shouting and another screech. I stuck my head out of the driveway and saw a car driving off at speed, so I made sure I got his reg and then noticed 2 kids up the road a bit with their bikes on the pavement. One of the kids had a bad graze on his arm. It turns out what happened was that the kids had been riding on the pavement and 1 of them collided with a car at a junction. Now you could blame the kids for riding on the pavement but the car was travelling well over the 30 mph speed limit and, even worse, he reversed back in to the kid to have another go at him!!
I brought the lads down to our house so they could use the phone.
I had to leave before the Police got to the house but I let the lads leave their bikes round the back and the next day they turned up with their dad to say thanks (with a box of roses choccies!) and said that the police were going to pursue the driver – not only for reversing in to the lad, but for leaving the scene of the accident. Hope they throw the book at him.
Later that week I met with my friend James who told me someone who was looking the other way at a junction had knocked him off his bike. Apparently the bike flew in to another car and damaged that as well so he had to hang around for an hour before the Police turned up. He said he was feeling ok on the day but has since developed a very sore back. So remember always take the lane and presume motorists at junctions can’t see you, and if you do crash remember you might have hurt yourself – even when you think you haven’t so always get the police involved.
The amount of people I see riding on the pavements depresses me – in fact I’d say I see more cyclists on the pavement than I do on the road. I always feel like shouting, “come on the road – it’s safer in numbers” but I get a feeling that transport policy over here is increasingly trying to separate bikes from other traffic. There is a stretch of road on my commute that is a bit narrow and on a bend and cars usually have to wait till I get round the bend before overtaking. This stretch of road is down hill and only takes me about 20-30 seconds to get down, but recently I have noticed that alterations are being made to the pavement which seem to suggest that bikes are going to be directed on to the pavement which will become a shared use cycle path with pedestrians. I for one wont be using it – not only do I not want to share space with pedestrians but I don’t want to stop at junctions that I wouldn’t have to stop at if I was on the main road. So I’m sure as this bike lane becomes operational you will see a few more posts from me about the abuse I will be getting from motorists for not using the cycle lane.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Tour de France

Its that time of year again, and already the controversy has started. Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich have been banned from the race because of a new doping scandal. I'ts a shame because they were both worth watching.
On the plus side David Millar is back in the race - now that his 2 year drug ban has expired. It's good to have someone from a bit closer to home to support - having said that, he's lived in France for a few years now hasn't he.
Any way i'm looking forward to see who's going to take Armstrong's crown - at the minute it's looking fairly open.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Strabane Carnival

Some bikes from Strabane Carnival

This one looks better when its moving

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Acro Bike

I was working in silent valley yesterday which is a lovely country park in the Mourne Mountains. And Simon, Anita and Kelsey revealed one of their new props for their trapeze show - A fantastic green trike that they will be using to do handstands and other athletic things on. They havent worked it in to the show yet but are using it as a walkabout piece. I've allways fancied doing up my Raleigh 20 and using it as a walkabout, or should that be rideabout piece. By threading the hub off centre you can make it bounce up and down - but i'm afraid thats beyond my capabilities at the moment - may be i'll just pay someone to do it for me. I wonder if its possible to stand on the saddle and the handle bars and go round in a circle whilst juggling. I suppose it's worth a try - then I could finally combine my 2 loves cycling and juggling.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Critical One

There are a few stretches of road on my commute to work which are shared bus / bike lanes between the hours of 07.30 and 09.30. For most of the route motorists stay out of them but as you reach a set of traffic lights in Finaghy cars start to move over to the bike lane and queue up there.
This has pissed me off for a while so last week I decided to stop my bike in the bike lane with a queue of cars behind me. It didn't take long for the traffic to back up a couple of hundred meters.
I explained to the woman at the front of the queue that she was in a bike lane and she started pushing her horn and telling me to move. I thought to myself I bet I can wait this out longer than she can so I decided to stay until she moved.
A few people further back realizing what was happening pulled in to the other lane (which was now completely empty - but most of them still sat in the bike lane?)
After a couple of minutes a workman from a site came over to see what was going on and the woman said "he's blocking the lane" and to my delight the workman said "Well, you shouldn't be in that lane should you"
she stayed there for another 2 minutes and eventually decided to move, and as soon as she pulled off I moved as well to cheers from some builders on scaffolding across the road. So with a shout of "power to the people" and a punch in the air (for the benefit of the builders) I was on my way.
Sometimes it can be a bit embarrassing taking direct action on your own, and I wonder whether it does anything to change peoples ideas, but at least on this occasion I got my point across. I think my next course of action will be to write to the Police and ask them how many motorists they have fined for driving in the bike lane on that stretch of road - I have a feeling that I already know the answer.

Picture from

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Riding against the wind

The wind and the rain has been ridiculous this last couple of weeks, but it has led to a couple of nice cycling moments.
The wind has been behind me on the way in to work, which has led to some record times. And this morning, for the first time ever, I overtook a guy on a scooter. I’m still laughing now thinking of the double take he did when he saw me coming past! He overtook me again pretty quick but I stayed with him pretty much all the way to Belfast.
Last week, on the way home with a very strong wind against me, a couple of cyclists came past me. The one in front was all kitted out and also a ridgeback rider – his was a nice racer though. The one behind was pretty much the opposite of the one in front and had obviously been tailing the one in front all the way from Belfast – He even said to me as he went past “I’ll have to catch up with my moving wind break here”
Sensing that the guy in front would be a bit pissed off I kept up with them.
The guy in front kept slowing down and looking behind him but the second guy just didn’t get the hint. I think the second guy even had the cheek to say “speed up a bit” to the guy in front. So eventually I went ahead to give the guy in front a break and as he passed me later on, as I went a different direction to where they were going, he thanked me for taking my turn and rolled his eyes towards the other guy.
Some people just don’t seem to get cycling etiquette, you would of thought the guy in front was making it fairly obvious that he wanted a break when he slowed down and looked over his shoulder. It was nice to be riding in a group for a change though.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Super Commuter

Well, I’ve had the bike for over a month now and I’m loving it. I was tempted to go more simple with a single speed or fixed wheel but I think this bike makes more sense for the length of my commute.
Throughout the winter you don’t get many other cyclists on my route but as spring arrives a few of them start to appear. Sometimes when a fully kitted out racing cyclist overtakes you its fun to try and keep up with them. And last week I had the satisfaction of catching and overtaking one as we arrived in Belfast. He’d overtaken me about 2 miles in to the commute so I thought lets see if I can keep up. I stayed about 20 ft behind him – it was hard going at first but after about a mile I got used to the pace and kept my distance for 7 miles then coming up to the last mile I made my move. He never caught me again – I’m sure its quite humiliating being overtaken by someone in their work clothes, especially when you are fully kitted out in Lycra.
Childish I know, but sometimes you need a bit of a challenge on your commute.

It was my sons 6th birthday last week and guess what he got – a new bike! His first proper one with gears. Its actually heavier than mine and he still hasn’t learnt to ride properly yet so I might teach him on his sisters old bike first – she’s going to need a new one by the summer as well! Hopefully, he will learn soon as the trailer bike we were using doesn’t fit on my new bike because of the suspension seat post, but walking to school has been fun as well.
I've also had my camera nicked this week while I was doing a show so no pictures for a while:(

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New Bike !

The un-ending repairs to my old bike finally got to me and I just went out and bought a new bike last weekend.
The final straw was when I set out to work one day last week and the rear mech just collapsed.
I was toying with the idea of getting a Ridgeback Nemesis which has hub gears and breaks, but the bloke in Bike Dock convinced me that the Ridgeback Super Nova was more suited to the type of riding that I do, which is mainly the 22 mile round trip of my daily commute. Its the first time i've bought a more expensive bike (more expensive to me anyway). It has a Shimano Deore XT group set, which I'm hoping will be more hard wearing than the budget components on my current bike - time will tell, I've decided i'm going to let the bike shop service it anyway. I'm going to get a rear rack and mud guards for it next month.
I'm paying it off over a year, and when i've paid for this one i'm already planning to get a proper road bike. There is just something really appealing about well built bikes don't you think?

Thursday, March 16, 2006


I'm experimenting with putting video on the site using google video - if this works you should get to see someone doing bmx trcks in Donegal centre. If you cant see it click on this link.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

R.I.P. Ivor Cutler

I was sad to hear the news of Ivor Cutlers death this week. Ivor was one of a dying breed of British eccentrics, who will be familiar to anyone who ever listened to John Peel.
And he was an inspiration to generations of performers from the Beatles (He played Buster Bloodvessel in Magical Mystery Tour) to Franz Ferdinand.

One thing I didn’t know about him till I read the obituaries was his fondness for the bicycle.

From the Guardian:

The bicycle was his preferred mode of transport, its cow-horn handlebars in the sit-up-and-beg position in line with his Alexander technique practice.

I also heard someone say that he would often utter obscenities to complete strangers under his breath as he glided past them on his bike.

A sad loss

Friday, March 03, 2006

Why do cyclists receive so much abuse from kids?

Why do cyclists receive so much abuse from kids?
It doesn’t happen very often, maybe once every couple of months. And it’s usually kids jeering or, on rarer occasions, kids throwing stuff at me. It’s probably wrong to call it abuse, the kids are usually having a laugh and it doesn’t bother me at all.
But it makes me think, what is it about me on a bike that provokes this reaction?
The flashing light on my helmet attracts a few comments, and I wonder is it things that they perceive to be out of the ordinary that push them to make a comment?
After dropping the kids off at school this morning I was cycling along and a young kid (about 4) said “Hey bikes aren’t allowed on the road” I know kids that age often say the first thing that comes in to their head. I remember when my youngest kid was about the same age, we were at Tescos and he shouted out “Dad I’ve just seen a wee boy with a big mans head!” It was the first time he’d seen a dwarf .Kids of that age are just reacting to things that are outside their area of experience, but it’s sad that she sees so few bikes on the road that it occurred to her to be worth commenting on.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Police Bike

I was doing a show at a police station for their family fun day last weekend, and along with all the water canons and police land rovers they had on display they also had a pretty cool Police Bike. I have seen a few of the cops around Belfast riding these, but this was the first time I’d seen one up close. Best of all I got to ride it as well! A very comfortable well maintained bike with hub gears, disc brakes etc.
I wonder if they do their own maintenance? Wouldn’t it be great to ride a bike every day and have someone else do the maintenance!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Go Vegan

I saw a link to this article on Veganism is something I’ve been considering for a while. I’ve been vegetarian for the last 18 years, but I’ve gradually come to the realisation that the dairy industry and its produce can be just as bad for our health, the environment and of course the animals.

Researchers at the University of Chicago have calculated the relative carbon intensity of a standard vegan diet in comparison to a US-style carnivorous diet, all the way through from production to processing to distribution to cooking and consumption. An average burger man (that is, not the outsize variety) emits the equivalent of 1.5 tonnes more CO2 every year than the standard vegan. By comparison, were you to trade in your conventional gas-guzzler for a state of the art Prius hybrid, your CO2 savings would amount to little more than one tonne per year.

So as well as thinking about how your mode of transport affects the planet, you might want to think about how your diet affects it to.