Friday, 29 April 2011

Bike Porn Friday: Puzzling

Some people spent Easter Sunday riding bicycles; other people spent it putting them together, in the form of jigsaw puzzles:


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Double Dutch!

Regular mothers of this blog (Hi, Readers!) will know that I'm anticipating the arrival of my lime green and black Condor Squadra. This week I phoned up the local patisserie to ask when it would be ready, since the 4.5 weeks I'd been quoted as the build time had now passed; I was informed that they're taking about 6 weeks to build bikes at the moment, and mine should be ready at the end of next week (I'm fairly certain he said "definitely" too, but you know, I might've been hearing what I want to hear).

In any case, everybody knows how like when you meet a new girl (or boy) and go on a date you want to look good and not pick your nose or have your shirt tails hanging out, and so it is with a new bike: you don't want to jump on that thing only to have it call you "fatass" or start pedaling for home and realize you're huffing and puffing up the meagerestest of inclines. In other words, I wanna be in shape and look good for/on my new bike.

So today I rode twice. This morning I set out with Dr. "I Got Up on the Wrong Side of the Bed" Matt, whose mood swiftly improved after two fast laps and pounding up the Alpine Village, followed by pounding up Swain's Lane. Then this evening I set out with Mr. "I Rode to the Wrong Work" Jon, and together we rode four laps, picking up the pace on the final one to be home in time for "Masterchef". Or at least that's why I wanted to be home by nine.

So, two rides, different types, although both involving revolutions around Regents Park, and my legs hurt, my buns are steel, and the Key Lime Pie, when it arrives, won't be embarrassed to find itself being ridden by a lemon.

I mostly wrote this post so I could include the song below. There are special bonus points available for the first person to name the tune that gets cut off at the very end. Only naming both the artist and the title gets the points.


Monday, 25 April 2011

The Hot Cross Run

If you don't count the Puncheur (and I don't, largely because I can't be bothered thinking up a new sentence to start this with), it had been some time since the TroisV had been on an out of town Club Ride. So it was with some enthusiasm that I cracked the books and researched an appropriate ride for Easter Sunday, to complement the one we took on Good Friday last year.

Alas, the ride I selected initially, which featured the gloriously named 'Turkey Cock Lane', was unavailable due to rail engineering works, so I settled on this little beauty, which I claim looks a bit like a squashed hot cross bun. Some smartarse, I forget which one, pointed out that almost anything does, but nevertheless, I present to our readers (Hi Doug's Mom!) the Hot Cross Run:

Any ill-feeling towards rail companies for denying us fun road names evaporated at the station. Dr Matt, with groupsaver tickets in hand, marched towards the red doors on the train. We had been assured by the helpful driver that here we would find cycle spaces. As he lifted the Croissant gently into the train, both doors closed, causing me, Dr Doug, and our new best friend the conductor (ONBFTC) to fall about laughing.

As we settled into our seats for a fairly long journey, with only the Observer for company, we each took a section and set about criticising it. Dr Matt alighted on the middle-class porn nature of the number of photos of well dressed women, I selected the article about 'retro creatives' (featuring a poet who, gasp!, writes on one of her twelve vintage typewriters rather than on a 'computer'), and Dr Doug went after the well-intentioned but ultimately boring earnestness of the NYT pull-out segment.

Honestly, it was so bad that I felt like writing in to complain, but I just can't seem to lay my hands on a quill.

As we approached our destination ONBFTC remembered that we were going to Amberley, and pointed out that we would be unable to exit the train from the carriage we were in due to short platforms. We were advised to leg it forward one carriage at the next station, which we did to the amusement of all, as ONBFTC shouted instructions the belied his innumeracy/sense of mischief ('keep going! Forward another carriage!').

Finally Amberley arrived. And so did we. We resisted the charms of its working chalk pit museum, and set off on the run, which turned out to be hot, fast and punchy. Lots of short and sharp ups, and quick downs on surprisingly juddery roads.

Without doubt, this was me and the purple line's best performance so far. I stuck resolutely to its guidance, not deviating from it once, perhaps spurred on by the cruel nickname bestowed upon me by the two Doctors - 'Hudson Bay'.

Cruel as it was, the nickname proved apposite at the 13.6km mark, where we discovered a Northwest Passage of our own.

We reached the village of Byworth, the denizens of which were roused from their egg hunting and bun munching by a mighty cry of 'stop!', followed by 'Doug!' followed by 'Matt!' followed by a much less loud 'screw it, I'm having an energy gel'. After a short while, the only two people in the village who did not now know that we had to turn right made their way back down the road, and we took the turn on what the book promised would be a 'rough but rideable' track.

It was one of those things.

NCN4 flashbacks behind us, curses uttered against the book's author, and a spirited defence of the purple line mounted, we pressed on, searching for more interesting architectural features like this one:

This admonishment reminded us that we had a lunch to get to, and so we sped off on our largely uneventful but fun ride. It was pretty quiet on most of the roads, which meant that when we did hit traffic, or encounter a bad driver, it stood out a bit more.

One such moron was met on the Amberley Road, shortly after the purple line (which, again, I did not lose) had tried to lead us through someone's front room. 'Get off the road!' he shouted, despite being fifth in a queue of traffic not caused by us. Quite where we were supposed to go, I'm not sure. I have some suggestions for where he could go, if he wants to write in.

The last turn was now approaching, which would take us into Amberley itself and a delicious pub, but by this point Dr Doug's Manifest Destiny gene had kicked in and he pedaled on, eventually stopping at the junction with the day's final climb - a real sting in the tail which hit 11.3% in parts. In hindsight, it was better that we tackled this before lunch, otherwise it might have been renamed Regurge Hill.

So we ate at the Bridge Inn by Amberley Station, where we could watch our first choice train vanish into the distance, and question Dr Matt's choice of a roast dinner on a hot day. As punishment, we sent him to get cutlery from a shed that seemed to contain only one tool:

All that remained was a train journey home, where Dr Doug and I serenaded Dr Matt to sleep using baseball talk, and then a quick sprint home from the station. I'm sure the comments will reflect a shouting incident that I can't quite recall, but as we rounded onto Birdcage Walk, a small boy caught sight of my yeast-byproduct-endorsed jersey and shouted: 'Look! Marmalade!'.

Close, son. Close.



Friday, 22 April 2011

The Zeppelin is unleashed! And BPF: the last straw

It being Good Friday and Pesach, it was a day off for the banks and other folk, such as ourselves. But nothing was planned. The sun was still shining, and an afternoon presented itself. So, a quick look at the Landranger, summer jersey unfurled, a dash of creme (Sun and Ass-os), and the croissant began to nose itself north, largely on a whim. I had no real idea of where to go, except to find a new route to the lands around Potters Bar, preferably via Botany Bay, and avoiding terrible roads.

This accomplished, I pressed on a bit, and thought about revisiting some routes from rides with Oliver, back in the day. Somewhere in Chuffley, the iPod map was inspected, and a plan presented itself: the bizarro Epping Loop. Solo. The wrong way round. And at a gentle pace. However, I came across this, brought to you by the Daily Mail.

So, it was now the Zeppelin ride! And the final shape resembles one upturned, perhaps as done by the brave Capt. Robinson.

The route was by turns suburban (in an April blossom and Edwardian villa way), rural, and rather hilly. Excellent. Robin's Nest Hill provided a wonderful descent and view acros Herts., with a couple of long, tiring climbs ahead. Bluebells were spotted. Yellow birds, rather like peeps, were seen, but not consumed. A detour uncovered some of Oliver's routes, and then I hit Hertford and its dual-carriageway.

This turned out to have a silver-lining; in my haste to get off it, I came across Mangrove Lane, to which we must return - perhaps the best five miles of riding I've had for a while, which took me into Boxborough.

Here, a choice presented itself. Continue the reverse/bizarro Epping Loop, or follow my nose again. The hooter had the upper hand, and I took the river at Nazeing, heading south on the Lee. Jolly scenes, as boaters boated, families walked, and dogs tootled around. At times, it was almost a Hassidic regata, as everyone was out for the holiday.

About 20k on the path, sadly missing the chance to run into Iain Sinclair. Then NCR 1 took its revenge, and took me away from the river, finding a desolate industrial estate, as is its wont.

A bit of wandering around routes, I made my way around a bunch of pretty decent CABE-esque developments, the Olympic Village, and the latest outpost of hipsterism, the East side of the Lea, west of Victoria Park. Cf. the Counter. I bought a Yazoo at the friendly shop next door, and made my way west via Shoreditch to Look Mum No Hands, where a post-polo coffee and wine session was going on, and I got my 90k Bike Porn (Friday):



And here's your song:

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Long Necks and Loops

The TroisV has entered the holiday season. As a starter, Dr Doug and I met at the meeting point this afternoon; there was even the possibility of rendezvousing with Jon, but he had an appointment with the Club Mascot and, as I understand it, a city farm. Clearly, four-legged friends were a more appropriate bet for a Wednesday afternoon.

We did the required number of loops, in a better time than this time last year, on average, and only beaten on average by one set of loops this year. But it was warm, and the air tickly with pollen, while the curbs were dotted with opening doors and suchlike. No sprints were undertaken, but we did ramp up the speed on each inner loops, caught up with some mamils, and impressed some tri-trainers. All while having a chat.

But, we were also treated to at least two giraffes in their long-necked splendour on the north side of the loop. The Club Mascot would have liked it.


Trois V!

(video kindly supplied by Doug)

Monday, 18 April 2011

Preston Wheelers

Dr Matt went to Preston for the weekend, and the preceding two days, so missed the chance to take part in the Only Fools and Condors run proposed for Sunday. A ride today (Three Parks) made up for this somewhat.

There were bike-related matters in Preston, however, including the Independent's important 'Save our Cyclists' campaign launch, which I understand also coincided with a BBC TV piece on Ghost Bikes.

Especially good is the campaign's emphasis that it places on the statistical safety cycling. The odds were less good a century ago, as this memorial in the Harris (Preston's saving grace, as one of the Trois V noted):

There was also this picture on the back of Katy Masuga's new book on Henry Miller:

One of the talks also mentioned a recent edition of Nelson Algren, showing him on a 'pushbike', hence a wussy intellectual, rather than hard-living lover of a Frenchwoman:


J Mascis - "Not Enough" from stereogum on Vimeo.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Bike Porn Friday: Electric Shock Therapy!

Some while ago, "Father of the TroisV" Don was in Arizona and happened upon these electrically-assisted bikes:

The one above is a folding bike, like a Brompton on PEDs, or Floyd Landis to Brompton's um, uh, okay... Lance Armstrong .

This one's for carrying a whole bunch of crap.

According to sources, the "DUI" in the first picture is because the guy who makes/sells these things claims you can't be arrested for DUI if you're on a bike. At least not in Arizona. He would also like to make clear that he isn't promoting cycling while drunk.

But I mean, really, by definition, he kindasorta is, though.


Monday, 11 April 2011

Tweed Run 2011: Tweedspotting

The Tweed Run 2011

Dr Doug was off in Swansea, telling NCR 4 where to go in the only language it understands (literary criticism), and Jon eschewed the shenanigans, so it was up to me to represent Trois V at the third London Tweed Run ride.

The Tweed Run is a rather complicated event, if only for no other reason than the fact that a lot of people you recognise from the forum, and therefore have to remember their real name and their forum name, and indeed who exactly they are, and then this is all compounded by the fact they are in the relative disguise of tweed, moustache, and assorted pipes, etc. Shifting signifiers, and all that. Where was Doug when you needed him?

I also had another task to concentrate on: and that was taking photographs for the good people at Lime Pie advisory services. Not only would I have to wrangle a Brompton, manage my tweed disguise, remember who anyone was, and try not to get overheated in the unseasonal heat, but snaps, nay, photographs, would have to be taken. I packed some cucumber sandwiches for support, and headed to the start to sign on as press by 11 a.m.

1. Signing On: Paternoster Square

Oddly enough, I had been there a couple of times recently, scoping out the place for 'friend of the Trois Vs''s architecture tours, so I didn't need directions; I wasn't, though, prepared for the scene. Penny Farthings. Pedersons. More people than I could imagine in tweedy outfits; and this was only the 'press' and 'guests'.

I quickly began snapping, which was pretty darn tricky with a blazing sun, and light being thrown around like a bull in a paintshop. I managed to get one poor lady to trip up, sullying her stockings on her chain. I offered my handkerchief, but I had given her enough grief for one morning. If you're reading this; apologies, apologies, apologies.

Pressing on, I snapped, chatted, and found out a lot about a 1907 (I think) Pedersen bike. I also took a shot of a chap with his daughter and a tweed-caped teddy bear.

2. St Paul's

Only now did I realise the enormity of the event. Over 500 people in tweed, often as not moustachioed, or foxy (I think that is the word) dames, massed on the steps of St Paul's. Roxy and Farid did a great job of crowd control for the mass shot, and I got turned down by a deacon (I wanted him to pose with a Penny Farthing: he shot me a terrified look and said the Dean forbade it).

The tourists loved it. And then they (we?) were off. I got a tourist to hold the Brompton, and snapped like a madman. The teddy man appeared again:

Then I jumped on my Brompton, and joined the ride.

3. The Ride

Really, this is what it is all about. A great deal of grinning as you ride along with hundreds of others through the streets of London, while the brave marshals in tweed armbands, and often trackstanding, sanctioned by TFL temporarily blocked traffic.

"Pip Pips".
Happy policemen.
Mostly happy taxi drivers.
All the sights, including this chap on the left:

4. Tea

The fine people at Aubin and Wills hosted some tea for us in Lincoln's Inn fields.


We then amused the tourists outside John Soane House with a mass start, and some suitable music blaring out from the portable gramophone.

5. Bethnal Green Working Men's Club.

Where General Lucifer, star of the Gentleman's Time Trial, lay in wait for stars of films such as Big Fish.

I also liked the write-up on the Whopee blog. And lots of images at


Trois V!

(your correspondent whizzes by at c. 3'30)

Friday, 8 April 2011

Bike Porn Friday: A little bit of ankle

A bit risqué today. Mums, look away. It may be the heat. Or it may be the eager anticipation for tomorrow's Tweed Run (and, of course, the Swansea Conference). Or is it the first birthday of Look Mum No Hands next week? Whatever, here's your Friday BP: Flotsnoo! TroisV!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Stuff in the Spotlight - How Deep is Your Bag?

So here in the Mother Country it's Mother's Day. Huzzah!

So on behalf of all the TroisV please can I wish half our readership (hi, Mums/Moms!) a Happy Mother's Day.

It's also the Tour of Flanders! Double Huzzah! As I type, Dr Doug, Dr Matt, Dr Matt's mate John (qualifications undetermined) are sitting on one of my sofas drinking Leffe and suffering the inane Eurosport commentary.

We're also watching the bike race.

For reasons that will become apparent, the two Doctors, but not I, went riding this morning. Two laps of Regent's Park, followed by the Alpine Village, a loop around Hampstead, Swain's Lane, over Suicide Bridge, up Muswell Hill, up and down Ally Pally, then done.

Now as many people know, I am on a quest for the perfect cycling bag. And this week I may have found it.

Mission Workshop were set up by the guys who founded Chrome, and are now operating out of San Francisco's Mission district, sending huge and durable courier bags and backpacks around the world.

I bought their Rummy bag during a happy trip to Condor. There are many reviews of this bag on the interwebs, but I know that reader(s) of this blog will have very specific questions about its capacity.

Question one: Does it hold eight bottles of Leffe for the Tour of Flanders watching, plus a load of other shopping and your locks?

Answer one: Yes, yes it does:

Question two: Does it hold a dozen bagels from Brick Lane, plus half a dozen bunches of flowers plus your locks, when, having remembered Mother's Day for your own mum, but having failed to make the connection that the Club Mascot's Mum is also a mother and was really looking forward to her first Mother's Day and you've arranged a whole day of cycling fun, you have to create a small conspiracy and pretend to go on a Club Ride but instead actually make a romantic dash to the East End and Columbia Road Flower Market then ride back in time to make breakfast in bed?

Answer two: Yes, yes it does:

Question three: Does it hold the Club Mascot?

Answer three: Yes, yes it does:

So there you have it. A bag that holds three kinds of things. Perfection.


Here's Doug's choice of song, video NSFW, kids:

Friday, 1 April 2011

Bike Porn Friday: Opening Day!

As the weather warms, the clocks go forward and more and more cyclists come out of the in-of-doors, and the TroisV starts cycling more regularly, so also does baseball return for another season of misplaced hope and heartbreak. Offically, Opening Day was yesterday, but the only team that matters and the only other team that matters both start their seasons today, so what better time to rip off a picture from our friends at Let's Go Ride a Bike and show a beautiful bike outside the most beautiful stadium in baseball? Follow the link for your bikeandbaseballporn:


Some day, Eddie, Some day.