While out cycling the other day (exploring Dorset’s Highlands), it occurred to me that my cycling mitts were nearly 25 years old. The reason that this crossed my mind was because, by the end of my 54-mile day tour, I was noticing a distinct lack of padding in their palms.
To be honest, I cannot recall if they even had much padding when I bought them but, if they did, it became compressed a long time ago. The stitching of a couple of the finger holes had unravelled as well. Overall, they were somewhat worn out, so it was time to investigate options for their replacement.
In this week’s Guardian bike blog, Laura Laker describes the UK’s roads as feral. This view results in part from her reflecting on the results of British Cycling’s ‘State of Cycling 2019‘ report, published this week. Having reviewed it myself, it makes for pretty depressing reading, especially the lack of improvement in conditions for cyclists.
One statistic particularly stood out for me: “Almost nine in ten (87%) cyclists are ‘close passed’ at least once a week.”
If I was only close passed ‘at least once a week’ I would be delighted. Unfortunately, it happens to me every single day, and usually several times a day. Vehicle drivers simply don’t give enough room to cyclists, when both parties are occupying shared road space (indeed, when you read the full report, it states that 40% of cyclists experience a close pass every day, so I’m most definitely not alone … and that figure is very worrying).
I reviewed the book ‘Bike Nation’ a while ago, which is written by Peter Walker, a journalist who writes for The Guardian newspaper (amongst other publications). The Guardian published this vlog today (see below), in which Peter Walker addresses the question posed in the title of my post: “Do cyclists think they’re above the law, and does it even matter?”
This was the last of the Dorset-focused day tours that remained on my ‘to do’ list, each of which are described by Jack Thurston in his excellent book ‘Lost Lanes West’ (on the one hand it seems lazy to simply ‘follow the guidebook’ but, since time is so often at a premium, having so much of the initial route planning done for me enables me to focus on the actual cycling … and, to be honest, all of these routes are located in areas I’ve wanted to explore by bicycle anyway).
So, what about this day tour? The clue is in the title: this is a hilly ride (although most of Jack’s other routes seem to sneak plenty of ups and downs into the itinerary). But it takes in so many of the gems that make up rural Dorset that the effort is all worthwhile.
The pump supplied with a new Brompton is their branded version of a Zefal mini pump. It is not very good. If you own a Brompton bicycle, and currently rely on the supplied pump, do yourself a favour: try deflating a Brompton tyre, and then re-inflating it using that pump. Either you turn your Brompton upside-down, or you fold it and put it on a table for better access to the valve, or you double over straining your back, or you grovel on your knees as you labour away. Then, after a couple of hundred strokes of the pump, you’re hot and sweaty, and cursing. Not a good look.
Alternatively, sell your Brompton pump on eBay (like I did), and buy this little gem instead: