Wednesday, 22 August 2012

haste ye back

as we may have mentioned a couple of times cyclesguff manage to get about a bit and some manage more than others. So it is that one of our number, Lindsay, is taking himself and family off to Toronto tomorrow. Knowing his eye for detail we at cyclesguff are sure that he has sorted out everything that he needs to for the year long sojourn. Bike, check, kit, check, shoes, check, helmet, check...
One last item to tick off on what was no doubt a very long list was of course a wee trip round the back yard just to remind him what he will be missing in the flat lands of Toronto, Canada.

We set off out and round to Torrance on Tuesday and as you can see we were accompanied by something of a glowering sky. The quiet roads make this a bit of a guff favorite route either as a step to a longer trip or as a fine run in itself.  The shorter ride is a perfect 'squeezed for time quick run out of a morning run' and despite it's brevity the trip proved to be a veritable cornucopia of all things Scottish. Hills, views, sunshine, clouds and a deluge of rain. Though it was a special treat and on reflection, not especially Scottish warm rain. Having neglected to pack the kayak, I mean honestly!, it made for a challenging return back to the city but one that had us smiling all the way home. Have a great time Lindsay and haste ye back.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

sounds of silence

There has been an element of silence on the cyclesguff blog of late. The guffers have been traveling, and in some cases – relocating. Fellow guffer and author of the excellent Oblique intention is off to Toronto with his family for a sabbatical, not a bad place to spend a year. Prior to departure, the cyclesguff bunch enjoyed a fitting 'last' ride of the year. The invite to ride the fabulous Graeme Obree sportive came from none other than the Flying Scotsman himself, this made the event even more special. There are a few posts in the draft stages that include: The Graeme Obree sportive; how it came about and an ode to a sadly departed vehicle.

Shenzhen pavé
This guffer has spent the last 3 weeks working in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. My last time in Shenzhen was 2007 and it’s hard to describe how the city has changed. My first experience was the size of the place and the sheer number of building sites, my second experience is the size of place and the sheer number of building sites! How can a city grow at such an astonishing rate and just how sustainable is this progress? It’s daunting when you consider the resource, energy and manpower required to keep the place going, never mind what was required to build it, or for that matter - keep it growing! One small observation and rest bite from the progress is that the bicycle still rules of the road. Traders with cargos that would make the western cyclist weep can frequently be seen on the super highways cycling towards oncoming traffic - the Police don’t bother. As darkness ascends, the bikes become the creatures of the night, meandering around with out lights and continuing with their complete disregard of any traffic laws. When I say cycling, that isn’t particularly true. You see, most of the bikes are now electrically powered with lovely little hub motors that hurtle them along at Wiggins pace.

Mobile kitchen - even when traveling, the gas ring remains on
Other than the drivetrain 'progress', there are still a few bicycle related observations from the first visit that remain. Most cyclist ride with their saddles far too low; this is possibly due to the bike being shared amongst many. However, it does get the job done, even if the knees are bent out and up around the ears. The other is the humble side stand (and a number of alternatives), this is an often ridiculed piece of kit by the road brigade. Why have a stand when we can happily rest our fizik gel tape wrapped bars and kangaroo hide upholstered saddle against a rough cast wall, only to return and cry at the sight of a rip or a scrape. Those that commute and deliver by bike know better, use a stand! The botch repair is another ace aspect; bamboo splints instead of steel stands and copious amounts of packing tape used for frame repairs are very common. Unserviced bikes with rusty chains can be heard from afar and the mobile bike repairer with his box of trusty tools, spare parts and of course, tape is always close by.  How he will fare with the electronic stealth killers is another matter. The problem with electric bikes is the silence, his repair 'radar' will no doubt change as much as the tools in the toolbox.

The parasol was that faded
The bike below had just been parked up and battery removed for charging. It was used to haul 4 full ‘water at work bottles’. A rough estimate of the all up weight (inc. rider) was 160kg. The bike was easily travelling at 20mph/32kph and the only noise was the water sloshing about. I had an image of a flash flood washing the street, it was only when I was confronted by an irate delivery guy going about his business and having to swerve to avoid me that I came to my senses.

Another hyper-domestique going about his business
Will bikes still rule the road when I next return to Shenzhen? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, the electric bike/trike makes riding in the blistering summer heat a little bit easier, but the trade off is the huge increase in the amount energy required - it must be a Shenzhen thing....

Stay upright