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Sunday, 5 July 2020

Bike Gadget

Bicycles waiting at railway gates

In the town where I went to school, the roads belonged to bicycles. Everyone had one and nearly everyone used them. Four times a day, when the women rode to and from the clothing factory, or the children to and from school, or the men to and from the railways, docks and shipyard, they packed the roads three and four abreast. With no room to overtake, motor vehicles had to crawl along at bicycle speed. When the railway gates closed, cars, vans, lorries, buses, and even motor cycles had to wait patiently behind hoards of pedal cyclists who zig-zagged to the front of the queue. Who needed a motor car when you could ride everywhere on level roads for free? Pancake country. 

My brother had a speedometer on his bike. On windy days he could get up to 30. Pretty good with the heavy steel frames and Sturmey Archer three-speeds we had then. One day he rode up and down the street trying to go too fast through a police radar trap. They just laughed at him.

These last few sunny ‘lockdown’ weeks have seen me back on my bike more than in a long time. It is hilly where we live now, which has always put me off, but I’m getting used to it. I’ve worked out routes where the slopes are not too bad, and when they are I am not ashamed to stop for breath or even to get off and push. I keep my brakes on down hills and will need new brake blocks soon. I don’t care about the high-speed prats whizzing past on their carbon-fibre, disc-braked, thousand-pound machines as if only miles matter, or the bolt upright electric pootlers pedalling leisurely uphill with smug faces. Do your own thing! It doesn’t matter what they think. I am enjoying the clean air and quiet country lanes, all straight from the shed door. Glide like a bird with the wind in your feathers and sun on your wings. 

As John Denver said: Country roads take me home to the place I belong, West Yorkshire …  Here are a few pictures (click to enlarge):

White Ley Bank towards Fulstone, Yorkshire Fulstone, Yorkshire

Upper Snowgate Head, Yorkshire From Upper Snowgate Head towards New Mill, Yorkshire

Towards Browns Knoll, Thurstonland, Yorkshire Halstead Lane, Thurstonland, Yorkshire

Stones Wood, Shepley, Yorkshire Towards Row Gate, Shepley, Yorkshire

Now, after all these years, I’ve got a speedometer too, not an analogue one with a ‘speedo cable’ like my brother’s in the sixties, but a “bicycle computer”. It works by timing the rotations of a tiny magnet fixed to one of the spokes. It has to be set up for the correct wheel size, but once that’s done then speed, distance and other details are all there at the touch of a button. The other day I did 7.04 miles in 47.31 minutes (excluding stops) at an average speed of 8.9 mph, reaching a top speed of 19.4 m.p.h. and burning 114 calories. It is not a good idea to fiddle with the display too much while riding.

Cateye "bicycle computer"

My brother would have gone straight out and bought a better one. I wish he was still around to do so.

46 comments:

  1. My late husband had one of those, too, and always told me how many miles at what speed we'd done when we went out on our bikes on weekends. They were good times. Now I only cycle rarely, when at O.K.'s. He has two bikes and allows me the use of one, and in his village area, there is less traffic than in the city where I live and where it is definitely no fun to try and squeeze in between cars, especially when they illegally park on the designsted bicycle lanes.

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    1. I wouldn't want to go in lots of traffic. I'd be tempted to ride just a little too close to those illegally parked cars and accidentally scrape them slightly.

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  2. I have a gadget like that on my car, but I don't want to know how much fuel I'm burning so I don't use it. This plague has really brought the middle-aged men in Lycra out in droves. They - and runners in lycra - bring out the worst in me.

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    1. No lycra for me - shorts and tee-shirt. No helmet either, just a cap to keep the sun off, although Mrs. D. keeps nagging me about that. We never wore helmets when I was at school.

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  3. I wouldn't dare to cycle around here - the speeding traffic would have me in the ditch before I got halfway up the first hill.

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    1. As you can see from the pictures we're lucky round here in having quiet country lanes - so long as you can cope with the hills.

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  4. Replies
    1. To go with your padded shorts? Ask me if you have any trouble setting the wheel size. I did. You can always just go by the tyre size, but I discovered on mine that made it nearly 5% out which is a difference of half a mile in ten.

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  5. Can understand why you like pedaling along those back roads. Lovely peaceful scenery. May it stay that way.

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    1. I should do like Meike Librarian and post some proper scenery pictures instead of roads and fences. You can't tell from the picture but that second last one is so steep I have to stop three times for breath, although I can do it now without having to push.

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  6. We biked to catch a bus to school and left our bikes in the hedge till we came home. No locks. Everyone either biked or got the bus to work, no rush hour traffic jams, just buses and relief buses if necessary.

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    1. It could end up like that again if petrol and diesel are banned, except locks would be needed as even old ones are suddenly valuable. Someone said you can't buy a bike under £1,000 now because those of less have all been sold. I'm guessing you have similar quiet lanes in rural Norfolk.

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  7. Just like Sherlock Holmes, I have deduced that you grew up in Goole. Wasn't the tourism slogan for that town, "It's cool in Goole!"? By the way one of my brothers was born in Goole. At that time (1949 - 1952) , my father was the new headmaster at Barmby Marsh.

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    1. "The hub of Humberside" but you could be mistaken, Sherlock. It has lots of villages radiating out like spokes in all directions.

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  8. You took me there in words Tasker, even without your essay-like photos. Once *the roads belonged to bicycles*; maybe one day they will again, though I shall not see it.

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    1. Hope Street (central city) is one of the most polluted in Britain, buses and taxis nonstop. Hyndland Road (well outside the centre) is bad at rush hour - I visit an independent bookshop in Hyndland and a cafe. No, people won't give up their cars, as long as they can afford to run them. What happens when we get like LA? Something needs to happen that hasn't happened yet. A major air safety crisis, I'd say.

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  9. Tasker, hi. As you piqued my interest, and have done so for some time over at YP's, I thought I'd swing by your blog. Which, in principle, a good idea since not least your last post of considerable interest.

    However, oh my god, Tasker - I so dread the "however" and there usually is one, the proviso, I note, reading the comments, that quite a few of your readers/commentators hate my guts. I could say coochy coochy coo to them they'd still like to see me swing from the next tree. So am now in state of indecision whether to comment here as I do not wish to set myself among your pigeons at your peril.

    U

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    1. Pigeons at their worst can only give you a nasty peck. Thanks for looking.

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    2. Your blog is about you tasker....no.one else

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  10. Having been knocked off my bike last summer, I've finally given up. It's too busy now, bike paths or not.

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    1. That's what I fear. In principle I like the idea of going off for a day's ride on the main roads, but being knocked off at my age could be life changing. In fact I know younger people to whom that had happened.

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  11. Remember all those bikes on the road when we lived in Wolverhampton, streaming out of the factory. I think biking has become dangerous now and in this part of Yorkshire it is motor bikes that roar through.

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    1. Wolverhampton sounds like where I describe. As regards motor bikes, every time we drive to North Yorkshire there seem to be packs of them. Sometimes they terrify me even in a car.

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  12. Not quite the same ring as Virginia but reminded me of John Denver - used to love him years ago.

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    1. Almost heaven, West Yorkshire, Dirty brown Pennines, Aire and Calder rivers...

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  13. Tasker, I so enjoyed this post and the pictures! I had not ridden a bike for over 30 years and decided to get one a couple of years ago. I love bike riding but I've had knee problems and knee surgery last Fall and I have not been able to ride since. I hope to eventually get enough strength back in my knee to ride again. I love your description of gliding like a bird in the wind for that is how I feel when I ride.

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    1. That's how I felt when I got back on after such a long time. It's magic. It's also good for my back and it certainly gives the lungs, legs and knees a work out.

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  14. When all the kids were at home we all had bikes and used to go out in a convoy, lol
    I know the neighbours used to talk as they would say 'oh are you the family with the bikes?'
    I rode my bike until I was in my mid 50's and then I got a knee injury and was unable to ride again.
    There was nothing like it and riding in the sussex countryside was pure bliss.
    I still look at people on their bikes and wish I could ride again.
    Briony
    x

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    1. That's such a shame, especially as you enjoyed it so much. Family has been out with me a few times recently, in ones and twos, not all together, which is fun. From memory, Sussex can be hilly but not too hilly, and the countryside is lovely.

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    2. Yes, a bit hilly but fun whizzing down them,lol
      I had a brake cable snap on me once, luckily I was on the flat but had it been down one of those hills I probably wouldn't be here replying to your post.

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  15. There was an uncle in our lives when I was growing up. He was my father's next younger brother, and due to a childhood accident and the ways of the times (Uncle Bill was born in 1909), Uncle Bill was declared an imbecile and institutionalized until the mid sixties. My parents looked out for him, brought him to visit and on vacations. Uncle Bill did not drive, but had bicycles with odometers like your brothers'. He was so proud, so proud of his travels about Ohio. Once, going to visit my parents, my teenage daughter saw his bicycle there, and glanced at the reading. Once in the house, Uncle Bill demanded of us, "Guess how many miles are on my bike!" My daughter immediately answered "4,280." Uncle Bill was so crushed that even as a teenager my daughter saw her error and hugged him and told him she'd read the number. Uncle Bill is years gone, but that incident came up recently.
    Congratulations on your new mode of transportation, and long may you ride.

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    1. That sounds like a lot of miles to me. Bike is not that new (as the rusty handlebars show), it's just that I hadn't been on it much, and hadn't ridden regularly since about 1982.

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    2. It was a hundred mile round trip to visit each of his sisters, weekly. In between, he was at mom's house most days, though one of us insisted on driving him and his bike back to his apartment. No, he pedaled every mile on that odometer.

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  16. Shame they don't come with umbrellas fitted.

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    1. You don't think I go out in the rain do you?

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  17. Cycling has become so popular during lockdown. My daughter requested a bike for her birthday and her husband had the devil of a job trying to buy one. When he managed it the choice was very limited. Now the whole family go out cycling.
    I have to admit I haven't been on a bike since I was a child. The roads are too busy again anyway. I would need to find an old railway track (lots of them I know). However I think I'll stick to my two feet.

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    1. The roads in the photographs aren't too busy - mouseover for locations.

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  18. Replies
    1. It's rural. I ought to post some scenery pictures instead of just roads.

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    2. All my favourite walks - especially Fulstone, usually across the fields. As I said I'll keep to my two feet.

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  19. I've had a speedometer on my bike since I started cycling to high-school; first I logged my miles on paper in a ring-binder, drawing graphs to chart my progress every once in a while. These days (with a device similar to yours) I use a spreadsheet but only chart my monthly efforts rather than daily ones.

    I've also done the whole 'down a hill as fast as possible past a police speed van' thing; I only got up to the 30 limit on that occasion though; hoping to give the coppers some amusement.

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    1. I don't ride as much as you, and haven't been out for a week until today because of the wind and rain. It will be interesting to see how keen I am in the autumn and winter. However, I have been researching suitable waterproofs.

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