Archives for August 2013

Suspension Please (Just For Cyclists)

Suspension forks

Just a little bounce would be nice

I was on a full-suspension off-road bike today – riding up on the Ridgeway with Charli again. Of course it’s to state the obvious, but the ease with which suspension absorbs the bumps makes one heck of a difference: the key gain is that the wheels can keep going forwards; they’re not being pushed off-line by the lumps or pits.

If I had to pick between road and off-road cycling it would always be the former for me – that type of bike and that type of riding just happens to ring my bell, and the aesthetics of a road bike have a lot of appeal. It would be very interesting though, if a road bike could be developed with just a smidge of suspension.

The movement would have to be in the forks at least, possibly the rear as well, to get the benefit of the wheel or wheels being able to react to the bump or hole and go forwards rather than being deflected. Suspension seat posts are just for comfort – they don’t alter the ride. Some kind of hybrid with just a small amount of travel in the suspension, to preserve the characteristics of the road bike on most road surfaces but that could react to a bad surface, would be very interesting to try. Given the rotting infrastructure of the UK, it would be worth a reasonable weight penalty.

Previously: Wagged~Wave~Tape~Helping~Seething~Wrong~Fear

Last summer and it’s obvious that if you’re living to work then the tail’s wagging the dog and if you’re waving at train drivers you’re normal (but if you’re waving at cars you’re nuts); meanwhile, there are benefits from good bar tape; and we should be helping inadequate males. A year earlier and the August Bank holiday didn’t seem great for anyone; fighting in Libya was in the headlines but any number of other wrongs weren’t; and the culture of fear was being promoted.

Week 35, 2012: Dogs Being Wagged
Week 35, 2012: Wave
Week 35, 2012: Handlebar Tape (Just For Cyclists)
Week 35, 2012: (Helping) Inadequate Males
Week 35, 2011: Seething Resentment
Week 35, 2011: Plain Wrong
Week 35, 2011: (Ask Who Gains From A) Culture Of Fear

Issues Behind Issues

The prospect of western involvement in Syria’s civil war looms; it’s a prospect that inevitably loomed large all this week, filling the space for idle thoughts that bike rides create.

Above all else, it seems to me that too many questions aren’t asked. Why are chemical weapons ‘bad’ weapons that can’t be tolerated; death by bomb or bullet is preferable how? Why now? Why just Syria? Why should the west be seeking to punish this particular crime, given all the other crimes being committed by so many other regimes? Why does Britain imagine it’s still a world player? Why are we worried about a ‘special relationship’ with the US given that we know, as plain as plain can be, via Wikileaks, that it’s unreciprocated? Who stands to make any money out of intervention? Why did our political parties and politicians act the way they have this time around, given the way they behaved with Iraq? Which lobby groups – here or elsewhere – are going to be most pleased by action against Syria – and how likely is it that they’re influencing the decisions being made? Should we laud the Prime Minister for allowing and respecting the vote that went against action by Britain against Syria? How do you judge your local MP come the next election – by local issues or by how they voted on this?

And so on.

As always, it’s the issues behind the big issue that are most interesting, the most important. And pretty well as always, they’re issues that aren’t being aired. We all owe it to ourselves, as intelligent adults, to ask these questions and more; accepting the headlines is rarely wise.

And perhaps the most salutary – albeit depressing – thing I find myself thinking about all this, is that none of this is in any way, in any respect, new.

Previously: Fear~Trapped~Animal Within~Heron Walking~Greater Good~Teaching Cycling

Summer 2012 and barely a youngster to be seen around – a result of a culture of fear that’s been so carelessly created. We’re trapped in our modern culture in other regards too, and there’s no going back; perhaps we need to get back in touch with our inner animal. In 2011 the roads were so quiet a heron was walking on one, Reading Festival had me thinking about the greater good, and it struck me that there’s a growing need to teach new cyclists how to enjoy riding to the full.

Week 34, 2012: Culture Of Fear
Week 34, 2012: Trapped In Our Modernity
Week 34, 2012: The Animal Within
Week 34, 2011: A Heron Walking
Week 34, 2011: The Greater Good
Week 34, 2011: Who’s Teaching?

God Waning

Up riding on the Ridgeway with Charli this morning for, I think, the first time this year. Events have conspired against us. Today’s route included a stretch I’d not ridden before, nearer to Wantage than we normally go, and this obviously Christian cross – presumably a memorial – caught my eye. Religion used to get everywhere.

Cross on the Ridgeway near Wantage

Religion used to be everywhere

This afternoon at Reading Festival, Frank Turner sang his ‘Glory Hallelujah’, a celebration – and that is the right word – of there being no God.

From being all-pervading to Frank Turner being cheered by tens of thousands – and being nationally broadcast too: we do make progress. If you don’t know it, this quote from Ricky Gervais might be apposite:

‘Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians have catalogued over 3,700 supernatural beings, of which 2,870 can be considered deities.

‘So, next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say “Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra? …” If they say say “Just God. I only believe in the one God” I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 Gods and they don’t believe in 2,869.’

‘Glory Hallelujah’ lyrics

Middle Class Protest Angst

Riding the local Berkshire lanes with Charli and continuing a discussion we’d been having about protesting, she confessed the following dream:

‘We were at a demonstration. The police attacked with tear gas. You yelled at me for onions. I panicked and yelled back: “I only grow shallots”.’

Onions are a counter to tear gas. Charli does grow shallots. We are middle class.

As a coda to that tale, Charli did admit she woke herself up from the dream laughing.

Just in case you need it: The Freedom Manual

shallots, not onions

No, we need onions