Sunday, May 30, 2010

Local Cycling news Round up - and gadgets again

Yesterday (Saturday) I did not manage to get any cycling in - partly due to the rain and partly due to funny squeaks from my Discovery. Saturday is normally a day for chores, which, if gotten out of the way early enough leave the afternoon free for cycling and catching up with the week's episodes of the Archers on my MP3 player - yes of course at the same time.

As an aside I like the word "gotten" and an interesting piece on how the usage differs between English-English and American-English can be found here, although I use it as an English-English speaker, technically half-Scottish but that's a wee story we'll save for another time.

One of the chores is the weekly shop after the child taxi run. During the taxi run I noticed that the front offside wheel was making a very loud squeaking noise after (re-)turning the steering to forward direction. At first it almost seemed to be part of the music playing on the radio. - but did not quite fit the tune - with the radio off and the window down it was really loud. So I headed to my local Land Rover dealer. They looked at it straight away. I was pretty upset as it had only beenin four weeks ago after a suspension failure and I had also asked for the squeak to be resolved. With Warranty problems you do not get any paper work and it had gone in before my trip to the US and I picked it up after returning to the UK so I had not asked about the squeaking. On Saturday they were unable to access the warranty records so could not check to see what might have happened.

It got a test run and taken into the garage but as is normally the case they did not hear the squeak (or should it be shriek - when it made the noise it was loud). So the theoretical cause might be because I only do a low mileage the brake disks were a little bit corroded (dealer speak for rust). The corrosion then wears off with a bit of hard-braking and slowly returns. No I know it is not the most green of cars - but I am not a hard braker - that only wastes diesel and is a sign of poor driving ability. I also try not to use it when I can cycle instead. (Yes I could do the shopping by bike and child-delivery by Tandem - but somehow the rest of the family aren't quite so keen on bicycles as me.)

Thank you to Marshall's Garage for taking it seriously and looking at it straight away for no charge, it was appreciated as I have a trip to Oxford coming up which is easier by car than by train. Thanks to Dr Beeching the route to Oxford by train has to be via London. I have lost faith in my Discovery and so getting it looked at helped to restore my confidence that it might be OK for a trip to Oxford.

This all meant we hit the Supermarket at what must have been rush hour for a Bank Holiday weekend with the World Cup coming up, so it took longer. We also bought more as my our son was home for the long weekend and by the time it was all sorted it had started raining and I had lost the will to live cycle.

I had noticed that Nokia were offering free maps for Nokia phones and started down the path of loading them onto my phone. This required an update to the Software that checks for updates and then a software update on the phone. I always back up my phone before a new phone OS update - a good job as the update, after a few stumbles had wiped all the data and settings on my phone.

I then restored the phone from the back up and re-started the phone which came up with the helpful message - "TOTALLY KNACKERED - PLEASE CONTACT RETAILER" - alright I made up the first two words but the rest was true. Hum an hour ago I had a mobile phone that could do various things such as make and receive phone calls, now I had a lump of plastic and metal - on a holiday weekend, so the earliest I could do anything would be Tuesday.

A search of the Web suggested that this was not an unknown problem and that to reset the phone you had to hold down the "green telephone button", the "3" button and the "*" button and then power on the phone. This is not as easy as it sounds - but it did get the phone to re-start as a phone. After a bit lot of trial and error, consuming quite a lot of time I found that it was restoring the "settings" that caused the problem. (Not before I had had to reset the phone a few times.) I restored everything but the settings and at some stage I also had some other stuff (updates) to down load so that the "Ovi" maps would download to the phone. I then loaded the new maps and some missing applications that had gotten lost in the upgrade and it was all hunky-dory again. Was it worth it - no!! Still it is up to date!


Oh yes - local news. Our local (new) Cambridge MP has joined in the call for a public enquiry on the "Guided Bus fiasco". The report also suggests that litigation is inevitable. I suppose I ought to be pleased - it means it is still a quiet cycle way - but in reality it is a lot of tax-payer money tied up not doing anything. If you are interested this picture was taken in March 2009 when the good citizens of Cambridge were offered the chance of a ride in the Guided Bus along part of the track from Cambridge to Histon. Little did we know then that there were going to be months of delay and then what appears to be a fall-out between the Country Council and the Contractors.

I believe that in these circumstances, rather than have a blame culture, the way forward is to understand what the problems were and then to do it better next time and to ensure that the whole organisation benefits from the learning. The alternative, in a blame culture, is that mistakes get brushed under the carpet and the climate is more one of fear.


Whenever I cycle past the Wicken Fen National Trust Car Park at the weekend it is busy. The NT have done a lot to make the area an interesting and attractive place to visit and the Boardwalk provides a reasonable surface for pushchairs, wheelchairs and those a little unsteady on their feet. It hopefully will also bring some diversity to the nature of the area. There is a balancing act to play between access for visitors and diversity - but I think the NT judge this well. Part of the process of achieving diversity of wildlife has to be an education of the younger generation. With the pressures of modern living we have farming "mono-cultures" and shopping "mono-cultures" - particularly super-markets. It is easy to point the finger of blame - but the reality is that society is what creates these structures. It is easy to blame the Supermarkets - but our shopping preferences are what make them successful and give them the power (over their suppliers).

Actually all I was going to mention is that the NT have a get back to water session. They are organising Paddle boarding safaris along the Fens during teh School holidays. A pity my kids aren't a bit younger I'd mtake them (go) otherwise. It sounds like great fun.


My eye was also caught by an article in the Cambridge News, "From "Cambridge to Casablanca by bike". A group of lads are cycling over 2,800Km for charity. They are planning on it taking 30 days and have a blog with more information, including how to sponsor them. Well done - it makes me want to start planning a cycle trip!

The picture shows the Casablanca Mosque - where they are heading - hopefully the roads will not be too bad in Morocco to cycle on. You do see a few damaged vehicles by the road side there though.

Talking of which, there seem to have been a number of fatal accidents in the Cambridgeshire region recently with calls for a cut in speed limits on the A1303, Madingley Road. This is not a road I cycle on that often, there are other more scenic routes out of Cambridge - but it is a direct commuter route through to Hardwick. There are also shared use cycle paths - although they are a bit haphazard in places - essentially "constructed" by calling wiggly pavements shared. They are better on the outskirts of Cambridge though. It is interesting to note the comment in the report that "Residents are terrified and some parents are too scared to let their children ride to school". It is unusual to hear the problems caused by motor vehicles reported in such stark terms - however motor vehicles can be terrifying which makes some drivers terrorists? In my view all that happens when new, wider roads are built is that people end up commuting even further distances and house prices increase on those corridors. There is little regard for the people who live close to the "new" roads and so suffer more noise.

What's worse is that recent research suggests that cycling in cities causes cyclists to inhale billions of particles on a cycling journey through a city - mind you car occupants, whilst not breathing in so many, do not get away from the pollution. The nano particles are so small they can then find their way into the brain and heart...

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