Monday, March 27, 2017

My cycling goals for 2017

In reality I should have written this a long time ago, but here we are 3 months into the year, and I am only just getting around to it. Probably for the best, given that I have missed over a month in the saddle for one reason or another. Leaving me already 234 miles down on my target for the year.

After last years achievement of a 2000 mile goal, and having taken lots of time off then too, I thought this year would be a good one to push it. So here are a few of my goals for 2017. This is not an exhaustive list, but probably IS exhausting!

Distance goal. 3000 miles
Elevation goal 150,000ft
Single ride goal +100miles
Commute goal average 75 miles per week (single speed)
Commute climb goal, 1000ft single ride (single speed)
Complete 4 Sportives (1 done already Reading)
250 miles in Spain (July)
Ride in a new country

So that is the basics. Obviously I would also like to improve my FTP also during this time. I am planning to re test my FTP in April when I have spent a bit more time in the saddle. Hopefully by the end of the year I will be at least 10% on last years.

EDIT
One plan to get 1000ft elevation in for the commute to work. Fun on a single speed.
https://www.strava.com/routes/8043742

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Kallik, mid-week, Week 2

So it has really been a bit of a whirlwind ride over the past week and a half. Getting to know Kallik, monitor his behaviour and interactions with Aana and Tuvaaq, and get an action plan in my head.
At the end of last week it was clear that he is an energetic little thing, and needs to blow off steam before he calms down and walks nicely. That's fine, we have ways and means around that, and today was one of the exercises I had in mind to achieve that.
Once he is drained of energy, training can begin. No point before hand right now.



Last week we realised that Kallik has a dislike for things being placed around his neck. He has got used to the lead now, but the gencon is another matter. But we are getting there. Once it is on him, he walks much better without a shadow of a doubt. Hunters are my preference, easy on, easy off, and greater flexibility and control. The downside, an excited and determine dog coughs and splutters if it pulls too hard. Never nice.

To deal with the energy, and to allow him to play more in the park, but still under control, I bought a 10 metre rope tracking line to let him have some freedom on. When he approaches other dogs, it is gathered in so no tangling occurs. When alone, he can run free (within 10 metres!)

See vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyXhvGFjtn4


Today was the first time using it, and I have to say I didn't think it all out too well. Entering the park the gencon was removed and put in my pocket. As we got to the green I attached the line to his fixed collar, checked it was nice and secure, then lifted the hunter lead loop over his neck. First mistake, the 10m line was running through the middle of it, which meant each time I let more line out, I had to slide the hunter up the line. Doh!

He had great fun, running around, meeting other dogs and people, and slowly the energy level dropped. Time to do some closer lead work. Bringing him back to me, I slid the hunter all the way back down the line, and put it around his neck, then carefully detached the line from his collar. Gathering the line back up, I looked down and saw the handle of the hunter dragging along the floor behind him!!! S***!
I NEVER take the looped handle of a hunter off my wrist, but because of the earlier tangle, I had! Walking calmly after him, I closed in as he sniffed around a bench, reaching down with relief..... he took off!!
Now you see him.....



Now you don't!!
If you look past the two closest trees, there is a orange / yellow looking frame towards the right, he is just beyond that, with 3 other dogs, and 2 ladies.

He sped off across the park, me more mortified that he might scare someone more than anything, keeping calm I walked in the direction he was heading in. Thankfully, he had been playing with two black labs earlier while I spoke to their owner, so seeing Kallik arriving at their feet, will his lead dragging, even before I called over to them, the wonderful lady calmly reached down, took his lead up and walked back towards me. I am SO thankful, and I don't even know her name. But she is most definitely my favourite person in Mayow Park right now.

Other than that, all is going well, he walked beautifully on the lead all the way home, no gencon needed.



They are absolutely amazing together at home when left alone, and I cannot think of a better match for Tuvaaq and Aana. May the amazing times together last for many years.

In the meantime, I am slightly sore at myself for him getting away. It will NOT happen again!


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Kallik, the journey. One week on.

So it has officially been a week since he had his first full day at his new home. So I thought it was time for some updates for those interested, and of course some pictures. 

This time last week he went for his first proper walk on his own, and we discovered a few things. First and foremost, that his lead work is terrible, and he really needs some work there. And to add to it, he seemed very uncertain about things being placed over his head and around his neck. This was discovered after a lovely wrestling and biting session.  As for being on the lead, he is a puller, that is for sure. Some of that is the breed, some is lack of experience. The latter we can work with easily. 

Over the past week improvements have certainly been made, as tested and demonstrated this morning on a nice long walk, and visit to the park to socialise a bit more. Early on in the walks he is full of beans, so use of a gencon really helps restrict the pulling, and helps keep him in the right place. Simple device, and stops them choking themselves on a hunter lead. Aana and Tuvaaq have both been trained the same way. By mid walk, the energy levels have dropped and he is starting to calm down. At least to a point which I am happy with, for now. 

Around the house, things have calmed down a lot. Aana is still being a noisy little boss, while Tuvaaq has lost interest in the new kid, and just carries on about his business, unless of course Kallik attacks him playfully in his usual fashion. Sleeping arrangements are about as good as you can ever imagine. Even catching Aana and Kallik snuggled up one evening. Nice to see them so relaxed.

Feeding time is really no different to usual, just another mouth to feed, and another place to find for a dog to eat. They are fed separately to avoid any aggression. It is all over in the blink of an eye, then Aana collects up the bowls to clean them thoroughly.

One thing that has changed is the dynamic of walking time. There is the usual  excitement from Aana when leads appear, which has sadly led to Kallik copying her, that is something to work on. But there is now little to no vocalisation when one dog leaves the house. So clearly Kallik is worthy of being considered a pack member, and no one is left feeling left alone.

All in all things are working really well with him joining the family, and we can now officially say, we are hoping to go ahead with a full adoption in the coming weeks. So looks like at this point, that Kallik has officially found a forever home. By the end of next week, hopefully we can confirm this, and make the arrangements.

He is already VERY popular at the park when we go to socialise, with people making their way over to where we calmly sit, to make a fuss and introduce themselves and their dogs. Comments on his coat colour, questions on his breed, and shock and awe at the fact he is so big and still so young. It is lovely to having him interacting with so many people and dogs. The reason for sitting on a bench and waiting isn't being lazy, but to work on his excitement levels, and to try and reduce his drive to thunder over to other dogs. Letting people and dogs approach without him moving works very well. 

So, I will leave it there for now, but updates will follow for sure. 
So here are the pictures. 

Aana and Kallik having cuddles.

Sleeping in close quarters. Accepted in the pack.

Tummy tickle times.

Meeting new friends at the park.

Getting to know you. Not everyone quite so impressed.

Nice and relaxed. Both of us.

Ann and Kallik having a snuggle.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Adopt a dog. Kallik, the journey.

Losing a pet is never nice, losing a dog even less so. Not that I have personally ever lost a dog to illness or had one PTS. However, having recently seen little Bailey bum deteriorate and slip away, realising that my two, Tuvaaq and Aaanga were getting on a bit, and that the day would come when I will lose one. Then what!
Having grown together, and become my perfect dogs, a little stupid, a bit grumpy, and a whole load of relaxed, I have always wondered what it would be like to start over. Not that I really want to think about losing either of them.

While looking online at rescue centres, to see if there would be a good companion for my sister and her kids after Bailey passed, I noticed Prince. http://alldogsmatter.co.uk/dogs/prince-7/ On All Dogs Matter.. Having only rescued from a Malamute rescue in the past, I must confess I had not heard of ADM until last week. But seeing Prince, an 11 month old Malamute Husky cross, I decided I had to find out more.

After seeing he needed a foster for the time being, and wondering what my two would think of a new addition, I thought what the heck, and got in touch. Being than mine are not very well socialised, and Mals are not known so much for their open arm welcomes to their established packs, it was always going to be interesting. But given my two are getting on, they have chilled, a bit!

After getting in touch, and arranging a visit to ADM at Southend Farm ( https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Southend+Farm/@51.6822663,0.0342225,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x47d8a02841b270a7:0xc703f531d47a1623!8m2!3d51.6822663!4d0.0364165 ) we set off on Saturday morning.

Initial introductions went really well, with Aana having a youthful dog to chase and bully again.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BRftxYHDlEn




A good walk, and some time chilling out in the pen, and we decided we would take him home for a trial foster period, with the view to offering him a forever home.
The journey home was the first challenge, would the dogs share THEIR car with a new dog? Well I guess the picture answers that one ... Jordan with Aana happily sitting across her.

Once home, the intro to the house was the main thing, as although things went well, and he was accepted in, it was time to establish a pecking order. Aana has always been the matriarch, and this isn't about to change any time soon. Kallik (the name Prince is known by now) and Aana will have many encounters for a long time yet, but he is learning to deal with them, and getting more comfortable around her.

Trying his luck with all 55kg of Tuvaaq  was always going to be interesting, and after once being very dominantly pinned in the house, they came face to face again in the garden. Resulting in this picture.

To say Kallik was taken aback is an understatement, but he is learning now. No one was harmed in this.

Over the evening we discovered more about his personality and history, but by the end of the night, and after a nice group walk, their first night at home was a quiet and settled one, with everyone finding their own spaces.



https://www.instagram.com/p/BRgyULAjo-f

This morning, Monday, the hard work begun, and some lead training and other bits that need addressing started. So off for a long walk, using a head collar too, we set about getting him sorted on a lead walk. Full of energy, I remember doing the same with Tuvaaq and Aana, so the pulling comes as no surprise at all. However that doesn't make things easier at all. He is a powerful little pup!

Off we went to the park, to socialise a bit, check out behaviour around strangers and other dogs of all shapes, temperaments and sizes. I am pleased to say all went well.

I will leave you with some pictures of the park trip for now, but will be sure to update.

Huge thanks to Ira, Sonia and Simon of www.alldogsmatter.co.uk for allowing all this to be possible.





Thursday, February 16, 2017

#LondonIsOpen (and toxic)

There is no secret that I find the Twitter feed of the current London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, very annoying. Constantly bleating on about things, then falling silent when questions are asked, or the tables turned.

One of the original things that really got on my nerves was the constant tweets stating how there would be less strikes and more negotiations under his watch, cutting the number of transport strikes drastically. Boris had called for them to be almost banned, Sadiq felt that negotiation was the way forward.
For days on end there were almost hourly tweets about his pledge and how there were less strikes. Until of course strike season hit, aka holiday season. Then the shit hit the fan and the strikes begun. On the odd occasion when agreement was reached, they would be cancelled or postponed, and Twitter would hear all about how HE had prevented travel chaos, and was so much better than Boris..

Then the tables turned, and strike after strike has hit various transport networks, and silence from the mayor. The occasional "we are disappointed" tweet, but nothing strong worded, demanding further talks or how out of order it was. Certainly no boasts about his involvement in the talks, in fact the opposite. Avoiding having any involvement at all.

Then there is the demand that TfL have control over Southern Rail. Again, another bandwagon jumped aboard before knowing the full story. Granted Southern is a joke, especially with their strikes also, but their services leave a lot to be desired too. Something needs to be done, but with the shambles that is under his control already, I am not sure that adding another pony to the stables is the right move. Again, we heard so much about "I want to take control" but no comments on the strikes that cripple London each time. Obviously the negotiating skills used with the tube unions don't work, so stay out of it. Wise move!
That said, when Southern rejected the idea of handing over to TfL, they DID say be part of our talks, and help us with your ideas on how it could be improved.
With London's best interests at heart, naturally Mr Khan said NO, I want nothing to do with it, and refuse to be a part of this. Nice one Sadiq!

Then my favourite bit of it all. As you can tell from the blog title.. #LondonIsOpen.
Put on most posts from the mayors office, this seems to be the favourite tag of the moment.
My only thought on it is summed up by this scene from Blades of Glory..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eRRab36XLI

I don't even know what that means
No one knows what it means, but its provocative
No it's not!
Quite simple, words!
Ringing back to the Brexit referendum, when people started somehow saying that the UK was shutting the world out and didn't want to trade with them, the mayors office coined the phrase and tag #LondonIsOpen
Somehow suggesting that the world thought we were closed for some reason. Not once has it ever been suggested that London didn't want to trade with anyone, or that London was somehow closed for refurbishment. Windows painted out, so no one could see what was happening.
Nope, in fact London has never been closed, and in some ways, suggesting it is open creates an air of negativity towards it.

After that was all done with, the tag remained, and is now used on absolutely everything, from business to events etc. Which when promoting an event which has already been arranged is a bit pointless, as the organisers clearly know London Is Open, or they couldn't have booked it ! Duh!

Speaking of events, that is my next and final grip, mixed in with #LondonIsOpen

Recently, along with being open, the mayor has also identified that London is toxic. Very toxic in fact. To the point of issuing warnings suggesting people don't go outdoors unless really necessary at times, and saying how we are failing, and people are dying each year in London BECAUSE of the pollution.
Now I am no neigh sayer here, I know full well that we live in a very busy city, packed with vehicles and other things churning out toxins all day long. I certainly notice the difference when I visit Wales or the Spanish Mountains. But there seems to be some confusion from the mayors office about how bad it really is.

Day after day, Twitter is flooded with comments about how the government need to give people thousands of pounds towards replacing their diesel car. The same diesel car they were given money towards in the last scrappage scheme. The government needs to act on the pollution, taxes levied and increases to the tolls for the congestion zone. Advising how many people die annually because of the air etc.

And then, in the nest breath (a very toxic one of course) we get told about events being held, in Central London, in the open air, and how people should flock to them, because after all #LondonIsOpen.

I have posted a few examples of the contradictions below. And before you say anything, I am all for London hosting events, I love cycling in London, and spending time in town, so have nothing against it. But you can't be the champion of champions for London, aka the mayor, and scaremonger people into believing we are living in a city which has toxic smog daily, air quality warnings and sirens, and environmental wardens walking around in high vis uniforms so they can be seen through the smog.
THEN expect your same audience on Twitter to flock to events you are promoting. That's just dumb. Get a story and stick to it.

Smog and toxic
https://twitter.com/MayorofLondon/status/831929385741668377

https://twitter.com/MayorofLondon/status/830718056959709185

https://twitter.com/MayorofLondon/status/830367140733714432
London’s dirty air is a public health crisis. I’m committed to tackling this. Read more about my plans here:
Older people & adults & children with lung or heart problems should avoid strenuous physical exercise, particularly outdoors.

Meanwhile... Positives
https://twitter.com/MayorofLondon/status/832198886102093825
On 26 Feb we're turning Trafalgar Square into London's biggest cinema for a very special Oscar-night screening of << There it is!!

https://twitter.com/TfL/status/831862211303845888

https://twitter.com/MayorofLondon/status/831823169858203650

So... #LondonIsOpen AND #LondonIsToxic

In short, I guess what I am trying to put across in this entry is quite simple.

Stop talking shit Sadiq. Do what is right for London and its people, stop scaring people with over exaggerated stories, and then contradicting yourself by saying we need to bring people to London for events, tourism etc. Don't you see that by bleating on about air quality, you scare people away, not bring them here. Its the exact same media channel and audience that you speak through and to, but somehow you expect them to be positive.

London IS open, London is proud. It is a diverse yet united city who has been and still is respected globally by millions of potential tourists. Walk in the streets in town and you will see just how open London is, without having to use a damn hashtag and believe it spreads a message of positivity. It really doesn't. London is not a convenience store which has an Open/Closed sign. It is a city right up there on the world stage, historic, respected, and a magnet to people around the world. Stop pretending that YOU are single handedly  making the difference, you really aren't.

#RantOver



Friday, February 3, 2017

Preservation vs housing targets.

I head a lot these days about political pledges to build X amount of house by a certain date. How there is a housing crisis, we need more homes, more affordable homes etc. But at the same time I read everyday about the outrage over planned developments in preservation, conservation, and other sorts of land and properties.

There is a slight issue here, especially when in some cases it is the same people bleating on about needing more housing, who are chaining themselves to railings outside properties and pieces of land that they feel should be protected. Usually because 200 years ago a King stayed there overnight (apparently), or that the views are of outstanding beauty.

Now sure we all have different opinions on these things, and one mans beauty is another mans eyesore. However most will agree that falsely pushing up the prices of available housing, because everyone is bickering about if a piece of land should or should not have apartments built on it is not helping anyone.

Private money seems to speak loudest. You only have to take a drive along the now dark and overhung Nine Elms Lane in Battersea to realise that if the money is there, planning kinda goes out of the window, and the demand for expensive housing is met in a flash. Usually because people in these walks of life are willing to look the other way for the right sum of money.

Don't get me wrong, I think what is happening in Battersea is stunning, some amazing buildings going up. But the Thames has disappeared from view from the streets, and apartments in the new developments are going in droves for £8m , yes EIGHT MILLION POUNDS !
Just have a look on www.rightmove.co.uk and search Nine Elms Lane, it is shocking.

Anyway, back to smaller stuff. Years ago a long strip of properties were bought up under a CPO by the Tories, to widen and free up the flow of the traffic along the Westway. Labour took power and scrapped it, but not before all the houses had been flattened.
Today, over a decade later, most of it just sits there, empty land, doing nothing. Why is it not being built on.
20+ years ago two houses on my street were demolished with the intention of rebuilding. It never happened. 20 years later, the empty, overgrown plot just sits there, doing nothing. I don't get it. Sure you can't demand someone builds on their empty land. But surely after X time some sort of compulsory purchase can be set in place, to at least encourage some movement by the owner. There are plots like this all over the place, some probably with no one sure who owns them anymore. I can't believe for one minute during the last housing booms we have had, that someone would not sell such a plot to a developer.

Then there is preservation and conservation. Something I don't get sometimes. Sure there are buildings of significance, and historic importance. There are pieces of groundbreaking architectural design, one of a kind or first of their kind that need preserving to maintain that chain of history and development.
But protecting something just because it was built by someone who was once locally relevant, and no one outside the tight knit world of historic architecture would know.... Is it really important we protect every piece of that persons work, especially when they fall into disrepair, or have changed so much that they are no longer period relevant?

Should such a property stand in the way of redevelopment, in which 3 times as many places to live could be created on the same footprint? Where somewhere that can be bought and demolished to provide affordable local housing, is protected because someone  locally relevant built the house?

Recently a small group of properties in W1 were demolished. On a little known road called Park Crescent. I am of course being sarcastic. The properties in mind were / are of huge significance, and have stood as a landmark in their own right for decades. Designed by the same architect as Buckingham Palace, the tall white facades, and columned exterior stood boldly in London's historic architecture. However after interest in knocking it all down was raised, it was decided that during the war the buildings had been damaged and not repaired to the correct period standard. Therefore the OK was given to sell them for £103m and flatten them. The plan is to build them to a more period correct standard.

So you can take a building which is 60% original, repair it not to quite the original standard, but to a standard to which no one will complain for 60+ years, but when the money shows up, it becomes substandard, and rebuilding the whole thing would be MORE period correct?

I guess what I am trying to say all along here is, there is a housing shortage, there are PC people who on one hand stand in the way of sensible, small local projects to increase housing on an incremental scale, opening opportunities slowly and steadily. But at the same time, other groups with apparently the same considerations will open up the flood gates for massive, unaffordable housing explosions.
I don't get it.

Sure open spaces are nice, clean air etc. Historic buildings need to be preserved. But HISTORIC buildings, not ones which have little bearing on the future, and teach us nothing about the past. I know I sound like a miserable old sod, but I am just sick of seeing things caught up in an over complicated, unnecessarily painful and time consuming process, only to be blocked sometimes by what I can only describe as people who have an air of self importance about them. I completely appreciate that some applications are blocked. God only knows what our streets would be full of if anyone could just build anything.

But when you take a look at the inconsistencies of things, and how modern regularly clashes with historic, but then other times something fitting is blocked because we have grown used to an open space, and the new plan is too high. Demands for certain more expensive materials to be used, making a plan prohibitively expensive, so the plan is cancelled. A certain roof tile,  window frames of set materials, even how a garden should appear. I don't get it. Why small groups of people get such a say.

Something has to give, something needs to get the land and property prices under control so developers can get on with making new homes which the average person in London can even dream of affording, because right now, just thinking about the repayments on a mortgage to buy a 2 bed flat on the 11th floor with no lift, is more a nightmare than a dream.

I don't have the answers, I'm not sure anyone does right now. But I am sick of hearing the line "affordable housing" when it is completely unrealistic. The Mayor of London blowing his own trumpet about achieving goals in all walks of life. But right now, none of them matter if people can't afford to live in the damn city in the first place.

Rant over.

Build some bloody houses, and stop whining about pointless shit!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Dear Deeply Offended....

I just thought I should put this little blog down on the internet (the battleground of real men and women), just to finish off a conversation which was cruelly struck short by the "block" button on Twitter.

Let's get straight in with how it all started.
As some might know, I have a dashcam on my cars, mainly in case I am involved in any sort of incident. However I openly admit, I do love catching stupidity on camera too.
A couple of months after getting my first, the novelty wore off posting stupid videos, so I don't do that as much these days.

Last night however, while driving through Brockley, SE4, in South London, I was fortunate enough to be hit from behind. Obviously all on camera.
At the time of the accident, the guy who hit me mentioned that a cyclist had startled him, causing him to hit me. Bit of a weak excuse for not stopping in time but hey ho. Shit happens.

All dealt with, I went home and retrieved the footage from the camera, just in case it was needed. On reviewing it, I noticed a cyclist, who had indeed caught my eye before the accident, but I had kinda put to the back of my mind.
I have posted a still image below..


OK, so first glance, I am betting you see a cyclist, with a red pannier bag on the back of the bike.
That's what I saw too, but then I noticed the feet. That is in face a child sitting over the back wheel of a bike, being ridden on a damp road, in rush hour, with very little effort to be seen. This part of the road is well lit, so not such an issue.

Like I say, this was never the issue I retrieved the footage or image for.
Moments after passing this cyclist (far too closely and over taking on a roundabout, so I am told) I came to a stop just on the other side of the roundabout. Sadly for me, the car behind me didn't stop in time, and ran into the back of me. He said when he stopped that the cyclist caused him to swerve, and he ended up hitting me.
Now I am not for one second saying this cyclist caused me to get hit in the car. Quite frankly, that's what insurance is for. No one was hurt, that's the way it goes.

However, at this point I put events together in my head and wonder what would have happened if the car had NOT swerved, or that it had come to a stop 2-3 ft over to the left, where the cyclist was passing me as I was hit.

This is not about who's fault it would have been (motorists without question) or who should have been where. But more me visualising the impact being made on the spine of the child being carried in this manner. Devastating is the word that comes to mind.

Now with the above in mind, I posted the image on social media, saying I felt the cyclist carrying a child in such a way was being irresponsible. I added that her unsteadiness on the bike also didn't help the situation. Simple, but I admit quite damning. I was careful of course to make sure the person was not identifiable, and to be fair, didn't have any images where they were, so all good there.

My point, nice and simple. Dangerous to carry a child like that, just increasing the danger of the trip unnecessarily . Cyclist are always vulnerable, but don't make yourself MORE vulnerable.



Some got it, others however like my friend "Deeply Offended" took dislike to it, and immediately suggested I was attacking and trying to belittle a woman, and a cyclist. Not sure the sex of the cyclist was ever a point of contention, but Deeply Offended seemed to think it was part of my point. Ignoring there was even a child in the image, the comments continued that I had nothing better to do than take pictures of strangers and post them on social media. Like arguing with a nameless and faceless person on Twitter is right up there too eh!

After a few tweets telling me about myself, and I guess trying to mock me as a person for posting such images, it all went quiet. So I prodded. My oh my, I must have prodded somewhere very sensitive, guess it is always going to be the case when you poke a delicate little arsehole on the internet.
What came next was a lovely stream of comments about myself, refusing to address the actual situation for a long time, before moving on to getting me to prove an accident followed the image (I am of course answerable to strangers on the internet). Once this was done, the focus turned to my driving, and how I had apparently forced the cyclist to the left, then over taken them, dangerously on a roundabout.

Not the case I might add, but all the same, IF it had been the case, and taking into account what happened next, did I inadvertently save a life, and prevent an accident. After all, if as accused, I forced the cyclist to the left, they were originally further over right. If this were the case, then the motorist who struck my car would without question have hit them.

Needless to say, after a little name calling, some biased facts being touted about, and some more name calling , I was blocked. Sorry to have offended you @edspindrift , I was really enjoying our conversation.



What I find frustrating about speaking to people like this, is whatever the case, they have an agenda, and are not willing to budge. Nothing is taken into consideration, and one tweet even suggested they had only read one tweet before boarding the bandwagon, so knew nothing else than the 140 characters they had read. Clearly well informed, they decided to go to town.

To be fair, social media would be a boring place without these people, and reminds me that as outspoken as I am, I try to make informed comments, rather than just trolling for key words, and unleashing my uneducated, misinformed rhetoric on strangers.  One comment that did tickle me was that if I cared about the safety of the child, I should give the rider some lights. So somehow it becomes my responsibility to buy lights for other road users who choose to put themselves and others in danger, to show I care?
Not the responsibility of the rider to make sure that they are clearly seen, especially when increasing their level of vulnerability? Wow, how things have changed.

As a keen cyclist myself, I make sure I am well lit, easy as possible to see, and present myself to other road users in the safest possible fashion possibly.
This is most likely one of the reasons I take such offence to other cyclists who don't give a crap. And take even more offence to keyboard warriors who take it upon themselves to defend stupid behaviour, automatically suggest the motorist could and should do more to make the roads safer, and refuse at all costs, that the cyclist can ever be either to blame or even increased the risks of the situation.

If today has taught me anything it is that there is no talking to some people. Some just have one thing in their head, and there is no point in trying to get your point across, either politely, or otherwise.
If you try the otherwise approach, they sulk, and block you from the platform they first found you on and started the whole debate. These people are usually habitual people, who spend a lot of their spare time pursuing the same narrow minded road of thinking.

I applaud some for their commitment to their causes. And in the course of the above interactions, I also engaged with another more open minded individual, who I genuinely enjoyed taking to.

So, make of it what you will. To me, the images I caught while retrieving the crash footage just alarmed me. I would hate to see someone I know and care about being carried on the public roads like that. If it's normal or acceptable to you, so be it. We have a different opinion, that's all. Makes neither of us an arsehole. The conversation which follows your opinion will define that.

More out takes from the conversation here... The full transcript is available on twitter on mine or @edspindrift





Monday, November 14, 2016

Have you parked in Brighton recently?

For the first time in a while, a serious entry.

Have you parked at a pay and display machine using the Pay By Phone app, in Brighton since 1/11/16 ? If so, please read on and share. You MAY have been seriously over charged!

Before travelling to Brighton last week I looked up the parking fees, so I knew what to expect.
On Tuesday I parked on Madeira Drive for 4 hours, paying via the Pay By Phone app as recommended to make it swift and simple. I was charged £11 (plus 40p booking fee). And thought nothing more of it.

Parking again on Friday, and knowing the expected price was £7.20 (plus booking fee), but to my alarm I was charged £16.40 (inc booking fee), When my friend arrived I warned him that I had paid more than we were expecting. As he had not yet set the app up, he used the meter, and was charged, yup, £7.20.

So it turns out, the tariffs which changed for Brighton and Hove on the 1st Nov, have NOT been updated via the app. As a result of this, I have been over charged by £15.60. Have you been over charged too?

I am currently trying to get a response from B&H Parking re this. On Twitter I was informed that an error had been found and rectified on the system. This unfortunately does not mean I get an automatic refund.

So, I am writing this, and making it known, so anyone else who has parked in one of B&H's zones, and paid by app, or even maybe ANY parking area controlled by Pay By Phone , it is possible that you may have been over charged. So I would recommend you check your receipt against the online published parking tariff for where you parked, just in case.

I am £15 out of pocket, and that's just one car. How many more paid by app over the past 10 days, and how much has been taken? Does the money get passed on to B&H, or does Pay By Phone just pass on the correct charge? So many questions right now.



UPDATE

After being contacted by Pay By Phone via Twitter, I was initially told by them that there was no issue with the rates at the locations.
"The rates are correct at both Madeira Drive locations and have been correct since the seasonal change on 1st November."

However after an investigation, and a very detailed explaination of what had happened, they replied again with the following.

through my investigations, i have found that we have two locations that cover Madeira drive (85325 & 85327). It appears that 85325 was amended correctly ready for the change on 1st November. However, 85327 was incorrectly left on the summer rates until we were notified by B&H Council of this error on Friday morning (pre-9am) when it was then changed to the winter tariffs.

i have therefore arranged for both of your sessions to be partially refunded so £8.80 and £6.80 have been refunded back to you today. we have also pulled off a list of all transactions which went through at the Summer rate from 1/11-10/11 and are arranging for the over payments to be refunded via our finance team. we will ensure each customer affected receives an sms to advise them of this error.

Thank you to Pay By Phone for their openness and honesty on this matter. I hope this is a very isolated incident, and checks are made to ensure this has not occurred elsewhere.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Cyclists....Light up for winter!

Each year I am perplexed at the number of people who take to the roads of London, in the winter, in dark clothing and no lights. Expecting to stand out against the darkness of the evening. Cold, wet evenings, slippery roads, ignoring red lights, barreling through junctions. OK they are not all that bad, but surely it is worth being seen, whatever kind of cyclist you are?

With lights getting better and better, and much more affordable, as well as so many options of hi-vis clothing out there to be chosen from. Anything from lycra to casual / fashionable, there is no real reason not to at least make an effort to stand out from the darkness of the night.

This time last year I took up cycling in a more serious way than ever before. Choosing carefully, I have made sure I have the right gear to be seen, regardless of what environment and conditions I am riding in. Busy roads, to country lanes, I am aware of what I need to do to be seen and give myself a better chance.

Sadly, as the year has progressed, and my cycling has increased, so has my frustration. Firstly for having to share the road with such mindless imbeciles, refusing to stop at crossings, putting rear lights on the front of their bikes, and even riding with a helmet on.... the WRONG WAY AROUND! Yes, its true. They went to all that trouble to buy one, and can't work out which way it goes on!
Then of course there are helmet carriers. Bought a helmet, never leave home without it, but just carry it as an accessory on their handlebars. Go figure!

Then when I am driving, especially in the evening in traffic, there are the cyclists who just don't want to be seen. Checking mirrors like a paranoid freak won't help you spot one of these idiots. Weaving through traffic, no lights, dark clothing, then just swerving across your path to keep moving. I admire the fact that they are willing to ride in such conditions. I for one would not put myself there. There is no enjoyment in commuter cycling, especially in town. Buy some bloomin lights for heaven sakes!
Here, save yourself some money AND your life at the same time.

Amazing value from Chain Reaction Cycles Front and rear lights, Lezyne 400XL and the Lezyne Micro Rear light... Fantastic lights, huge saving, and maybe an early Xmas gift to yourselves Just £19.99

Take a moment to think how quickly you can change direction and speed on your bike. Now consider how quickly that picture with you in it, with no lights on, is changing for the motorists your are mixed in with. With lights, they can see you and will take a second look. Without, you are just part of the darkness, and pose no risk. Small lights give you a chance of being seen. Lights like this set make you far more noticable, and I say  that as a motorist who is constantly looking around me for fellow cyclists, not wanting to endanger them. But still they come, and surprise me with their ability to pop up like a duck at a fairground shooting range.

Even hi-vis clothing doesn't cost a fortune, certainly not an arm and a leg, the price you physically may pay if you get tangled in a car.

So please, as a cyclist, motorist, and street runner... Make yourself visible to everyone you share the road with . "It wasn't my fault" doesn't repair broken bones, bring you back to life, or change what happened. Give everyone a chance to get home safely this winter. Be seen!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Propositioned in the loo !

Yesterday me and some friends went for a ride in Richmond Park. After a good few miles, we took it easy for a bit, some leaving, others putting in a couple more laps. Apart from being a bit windy, the weather was good to us, until the last lap that is.
Suddenly out of nowhere, driving rain, quite cold too. Strong winds driving it into our eyes, making seeing where you were going almost impossible.

Finishing the lap ma and Jason took shelter under the trees in the car park, and Lee decided to ride home (nutter but respect!)

Contemplating how to get dry and changed, we decided to drive to the next car park and use the loos there. Driving in cleats was a first for me, but I took to it better than I did riding in them, that is for sure. Didn't fall off the car once!

Got to the car park, grabbed dry clothes and ran for the toilets. Main idea was just to dry off in a dignified fashion and get some dry clothes on where possible. Shoes off, socks off, and over shorts off, I used a dry t-shirt to dry off with. Whilst doing so, and talking to Jason, A guy walking away from the urinal behind me started to exclaim happiness, and verbalise his joy at seeing what he saw. Exclaiming how brilliant and amazing it was. I turned to look at him, and he pointed to the lower half of me, saying again it was amazing, and did I mind if he took a picture.

I smiled and laughed, looked at Jason and said sure. Leaning forwards onto the hand basin, with my back turned, he crouched right down, moved in close and got his phone out to take a or some pictures. Standing back up again, he smiled and thanked me for my willingness, again told me how amazing it looked, and apologised for the sudden and maybe shocking proposition.

As he left, I looked over at Jason, we laughed, and expressed surprise at the encounter, then I went off to the cubicle to get changed.

Just to clarify, the guy had seen my Candy Smashing Hulk tattoo, and was taking pictures of that. I don't know what you thought I meant, but hey, glad to have made someones day.