Posted by: Ian | October 16, 2010

Waiting for Bikeo

London is getting wintery. Although the clocks have yet to go back it’s already getting darker on the way to and from work. Some cyclists have poor lights, reminding me of Manhattan where no one uses them, relying instead entirely on street lights, while others sport beams more intense than those I’ve used for pot holing.

We don’t have rain, snow or ice yet but I’ve still managed to a spill. Last week, on the way back from Park Loops, a car swept past me on the inside on a right turn at the Aldgate roundabout and then promptly stopped dead at a pedestrian crossing. Inevitably, I ran into the back of him and came off my bike. While I was lying on the road wondering what had just happened Gavin practised his high volume Anglo Saxon through the open passenger window.

After a recent spate of punctures I’ve been using Conti Four Seasons on the Tempo. So far their extra layer of armour is working. I rode over and smashed a glass bottle a couple of days ago and the tyres remain intact. Compared to the nanotechnological black chilli GP4000S’s, though, they’re not as fast.

Currently, with the Exmoor Beast coming up in a couple of weeks, my focus is more on hills than speed. One evening I decided to ride up Swains Lane again on my (circuitous) way to Notting Hill. After passing the Highgate Cemetery gates and getting half way up the final narrow steep stretch, one of my shoes snapped out of its clip. On such a gradient it was hard to re-start, and a couple of cars coming up the road didn’t help – so I cycled back down to the roundabout at the bottom of the Lane and started again. On the second attempt the shoe snapped out again at the same spot but with zero appetite to go down the hill again I snapped right back in and got up the remainder of the hill. I snaked a bit, which felt like cheating but I didn’t care.

I’m hoping, in an abstract theoretical kind of way, to do the Beast on my new Van Nicholas. It’s taking so long to come that VN have generously offered me a free upgrade to their top of the range Astraeus. I had a moment’s hesitation before accepting it, being concerned that it may be too aggressive and less comfortable than the Zephyr that I ordered. But I had to take it. Not only does it look even better than the outstanding Zephyr, Astraeus was the god of dusk: it reminds me of Hegel’s aphorism, which I love for its bitter truth, that the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only when dusk falls. Last night I saw Zoe in a stage adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial. The surreal depiction of Josef K awaiting the resolution of justice that never arrived matches how I now feel about the Van Nic. I’ve lost all sense that this massively drawn out process will end in me actually taking delivery of a new bike.

With the wheels for the promised bike still forlorn in the garage, I went for a spin from Crickleaze this afternoon. My 35 mile circuit took me through Marsh, Hemyock, Wellington Monument, Blagdon Hill, Taunton (stopping in at Bicycle Chain for spare gas cylinders), Corfe Hill and Bishopswood. Being Astraeusless, I took the Felt, which flatters my performance both up the hills and on the flat and is perfect so long as the weather remains only cold and not inclement.


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