Saturday, August 27, 2011

Electric Bikes

I know it defeats the purpose of riding a bike, but I always want to try one of these electric assisted bikes. I bet it'll be easier and faster going uphill. The downside of this is they are more expensive than many normal bikes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Man crushed underneath cement truck

Oh, I hate news like this. A man died after he lost control of his bike in Manhattan and was run over by a cement truck. Poor biker, my deepest sympathy to his family & friends.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mountain biking: a beginner's tale

I love beginners stories, because not so long ago I'm also a beginner and I can easily relate to them...

As the saying goes, you never forget how to ride a bike. At least this is the motto giving me confidence as I swing my leg over the saddle at the Coed Trawllm mountain bike centre, in mid-Wales, and prepare to take to the trails for the first time in years. I'm not going to lie to you – I'm more than a bit nervous – but having arranged a ride with my guide, John (recently awarded an MBE for services to the sport), I'm confident that I'm in good hands.

For a start, the trails at Coed Trawllm are colour-coded like ski runs – blue, red and black – so you can pretty much pick the route to match your mood and, of course, ability. For relative newbies like myself, this is ideal. Before we head to the gnarly stuff, John leads me out onto something gentler to assess my skills.

First up, a short descent that leads to a stream crossing. "The trick is to lean your backside over the end of the saddle, so your weight stays back," he says, before making it look far too easy.

This is the point where I realise something key: never forgetting how to ride a bike is all well and good, assuming you have learnt properly in the first place. Put simply, I come a cropper, locking up my wheels by leaning too hard on the brakes. The result is a wet backside and slightly bruised ego, but frankly who cares? I'm having a great time, and getting muddy is all part of the fun with mountain biking.

Continuing on around the trail, John explains what it is about Wales that has brought bikers flocking from all over the planet in recent years. "The terrain in this part of the world is pretty special – hundreds of miles of forest tracks, pristine woodland and old quarries. It's as challenging as anything you'll get in mainland Europe."

No kidding. As we continue on around the 4km blue run that loops through the woods and conveniently back to the cafe, I find myself careering in and out of my comfort zone. And I am loving every minute.

A bite to eat later (tea and cake are a mountain biking must), John and I are heading out for more – and this time we aren't mucking about; it's on to the red run. Now is my opportunity to put into practice the skills that John taught me in the morning – namely body position, braking and simply looking where you're going.

"It sounds simple," says John, as we huff and puff our way up a steady climb, "but watching where you're riding is essential because your body will naturally set itself up to ride whatever you see in your path."

He isn't wrong. As I expected, the 5km red run is slightly more technical than the blue – with some challenging single track stuff, a switchback and some satisfying descents. All in all it requires more attention – a fact I find out the hard way after taking a tumble off a small bridge and ending up in a stream. Again.

"Ease off the brakes a bit more and let it flow," is John's straight-faced appraisal of what must have been a rather amusing wipeout.

Thankfully, this is my last "technical touchdown" of the day, and my confidence grows in spades as we continue along the route – soaking up the gorgeous landscape that surrounds Coed Trawllm. One moment we are in Lord-Of-The-Rings-esque forest, the next, hurtling across beautiful streams and pedaling through spectacular open sections.

For John, it's just another day in the saddle but for me it's an experience I'll never forget - and one I'm aiming to repeat again soon.

Biking violations unpunished

Saw this news and my instant thought was, hahaha eat my dusts su***

Law meant to keep pedal-pushers in line turns out to be toothless

Boston police have yet to ticket a single bicyclist for running a red light or disrupting traffic since the launch of the Hubway bike-share program two weeks ago. But the reason may have little to do with lack of opportunity: Because of a loophole in a state law, the tickets wouldn’t be worth the paper they’re printed on.

A newly enacted provision called for police across the state to begin ticketing bikers $20 for civil motor vehicle violations starting last January. For the first time, police could use the same ticket book for motorists and bicyclists, with copies of every ticket going to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

But, as police, court administrators, and Registry officials became aware this spring, the law also inadvertently did away with punishments for bicyclists who fail to pay tickets.

Without any clear way to collect fines or punish those who ignore tickets, authorities have been left with a procedure reliant on the honor system. As a result, it appears that a number of police departments are choosing not to ticket bicyclists. Boston police, as of last week, had issued 60 warnings - but zero tickets - to bikers since the Hubway added 600 bikes to city streets.

Boston police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll acknowledged in an e-mail that the department was aware of the lack of teeth in the law.

“At this time, we will continue issuing warnings and taking the opportunity to increase awareness regarding the rules of the road,’’ she wrote. “Our main concern at this point is having the opportunity to educate bicyclists on traffic rules.’’

Across the river, Cambridge Sergeant Paul Timmins said his department, a leader in bike-law enforcement, has not issued a bike ticket since January.

“It’s just this one sentence in the law that’s causing this whole problem,’’ he said.

That “one sentence’’ can be found in Chapter 85, Section 11E of the Massachusetts General Laws. It starts innocuously by calling for police to ticket bicyclists as they would motorists.

The problem lies in the sentence’s concluding remark, which says that bike tickets “shall not affect the bicyclist’s license to operate a motor vehicle.’’

Keeping bicycle tickets and driver’s licenses separate makes sense on several levels - not every bicyclist drives a car, for instance. But the law, as worded, takes away the Registry’s only means to coerce bikers to pay civil tickets - by suspending or not renewing a driver’s license - without offering an alternative punishment.

Registry spokesman Richard Nangle did not say how the Registry will pursue delinquent fines without such authority.

more on this news