Saturday, 29 October 2011

Iphone and Hipstamatic

Earlier this week I received my new iphone. My Blackberry had served me well for the last twenty one months and I was very happy with it for most things.

For emails and twitter it was great, the keypad was very quick, although it wasn't very good for the internet. The camera wasn't bad and the photos could easily be transfered to my laptop for any work needed.

I noticed on twitter, Amy from the Bobbin and Sprocket blogspot was using photos with an old 1950's look about them, a look I always liked. with nice vivid colours. The photos were from her iphone through an app called Hipstamatic.

I just had to have that app, unfortunately it wasn't available for the Blackberry. My contract for the Blackberry was almost up and the iphone 4s was due so I ordered one.

The first app I purchased was the Hipstamatic and it didn't disappoint. It reminded of the Lomo cameras and the carefree photos on the site.

Taking these photos is fun and anything goes, vignetting, blur, softness, bad composition etc.
There are options for films and lens, colour and black and white films, coloured flash is also 
an option. I particularly like this black and white film with the black frame.

Apart from the photo of Sasha, the other photos were taken in Belfast this morning with views of the Lagan, Ann Street, Cornmarket, Church Lane, Victoria Square and Castle Street.

The iphone is a fantastic smartphone and once I really get to know and understand all it's functions It will do all I would need. 

While sitting fiddling with it in Cafe Nero I signed into the wifi site and was able to surf. In fact I was even able to get into my bank account.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

No staying power

I was very disappointed with my performance today on the Guvnor.

I didn't have a day off work for twelve days, having worked 23 hours last weekend and 48 hours last week with 1000 miles clocked up on my Freelander, I was really looking forward to getting out on the Guvnor.

Heading out at 7.30 this morning fully kitted out in my cycling gear under my Nightvision jacket I headed to the Portaferry Road intending to pass through Greyabbey, Ballywalter along the coast to Donaghadee then home.

The wind was harsh and the going was very tough, I thought about turning back but struggled on for another mile then decided I wasn't enjoying this so I turned for home. Heading back was superb with the wind on my back helping me greatly.

I decided to try the tide bank but this was worse with the wind blowing from off Strangford Lough so after about 200 yards I came home the quickest route I could, showered went into Belfast with Patsy.

I should have waited to after 9 to go out with two friends but I always liked getting my run over early and have the day free. Riding with others motivates each other and helps when the going gets tough.

Lately at work, as well as my packed lunch I would have a breakfast roll and scones, this, I think is really starting to affect me so I have decided to cut out fries, baps and scones from Monday. I also intend to go out on the bike as often as possible even for 30 minutes.

I just hope it's this Monday I'll start cutting down. I can be full of good intentions.

Tomorrow I'll take the Guvnor over Scrabo and onto the Comber Greenway before riding into Dundonald and home along country roads.

This is my intention, but.....

Thursday, 20 October 2011

My bikes

I have four bicycles in my collection, a Focus sports, a Pashley Moulton APB, a Moulton Esprit and my most recent one, a Pashley Guv'nor.

For years I walked a lot, mostly hill walking until I hurt my foot badly, this turned out to be Planter Fasciitis and my walking more or less had to stop.

As I was into keeping fit I needed to keep the exercise up so I thought of cycling. For weeks I looked on the internet at various bicycles and became interested in a Moulton APB. I ordered a Dual Drive 24 and within a week I was on the road riding around with a smile on my face.

The bike was very comfortable and in 2 years I probably put about 3,000 miles on it.

The next bike I got was a Focus Ergoglide, again after research on the internet. I wanted to try a racer and the test reports for this bike were favorable, the riding position was more relaxed than a normal racer.

I had a lot of enjoyment on this bike but it seemed bland and nothing special. I fitted a shorter stem, a Brooks Swift saddle and handlebar tape. While comfortable on smooth road surfaces anything else would have vibration onto my arms which wasn't comfortable so back to the drawing board, well the internet.

My next purchase was the Moulton Esprit direct from the factory. Talking to Shaun Moulton and finding out he had a 'demonstrator' for sale I jumped at it. Within four weeks the bike arrived, a brand new bicycle in Steely Grey colour.

When I opened the box, my heart dropped, especially when Patsy said "that's a funny looking bike' but once I started riding it I knew it was special. The ride was so comfortable and relaxed and very nippy.

A couple of weeks after getting the bike I joined in a 30 mile charity ride and the riding was exhilarating. I was passing seasoned cyclists on hills to gasps of amazement. This bike is definitely is a keeper.

Earlier this year I bought the Guv'nor and loved it straight away. Different from the Moulton but exciting in its own way. Another keeper.

With these two bicycles the others didn't get ridden again and the Focus, I gave to a friend who loves it to bits. The APB, I let another friend use it.

I hate having bikes and not riding them.

So that's my story and I have enjoyed cycling ever since. In the future I hope to try out a mountain bike and would love to try a tadpole trike too, but at the minute I am very content with these two bikes, the Odd Couple.

Little and Large or the Odd Couple

Focus Ergoglide

Moulton APB DD24

Monday, 17 October 2011

Fitting dynamo and lights to the Guv'nor

From the moment I bought the Guv'nor, I've been thinking of accessories to fit to it 'to make it mine'.

Among the accessories fitted were a set of S/S mudguards. These guards are very well made and add to the classic look of the bike but a short time ago I ran the car into the back guard causing a dent, although not really noticeable, it still annoyed me.

My problem was to either buy a new set (very wasteful) or fit a reflector. I just couldn't find what I was looking for.

I remembered the B&M mudguard lights I admired some time ago but these were for use with a dynamo, so I ordered a dynamo, with a front and back light set and fitted them last Saturday evening.

The dynamo came without a mounting bracket and nothing seemed suitable so I had to make one out a couple of pieces of stainless steel. Although not neat at the minute, it will polish up well and with the packing, shouldn't damage the frame.

I am delighted with the system and the feel of the dynamo adds to the to the overall effect of this path racer and definitely gives the bike a vintage look.

The lights are very effective and once pedaling stops, small LEDs in both lights keep active for about 5 minutes. A safety feature when stopped at junctions etc.

Overall I think this is a very good accessory and I can go out anytime without worrying about batteries. I will still have my B&M Ixon IQ fitted but only use it in really dark places.

The photos below show the individual components.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Moultoneering to Donaghadee

The alarm chirped and from a deep sleep Patsy switched it off in a flash before it alarmed, 5.45am on a Saturday morning.

Fifteen minutes later I was up, having my breakfast, lazing around, getting washed and finally putting my clothes on. Sasha, outside the bathroom door waiting expectantly but as soon as she saw my cycling gear she put on a pitiful look which I ignored. We had a two hour strenuous hike to Scrabo and Killynether last evening so now it was the turn of the Moulton.

The morning was cold and the darkness just starting to lift when I pulled the Moulton out of the garage, lifting it past the car and parking it against the back wall of the house.
Getting things organised, water, banana, helmet etc. I left home about 7.40am and headed towards the Scrabo road roundabout along the new road to the Portaferry road.

I am on call this weekend so I decided on a short trip of about 20 miles to Millisle and Donaghadee, so if necessary I could be home within an hour.

Although cold, within a couple of miles I started to heat up. I wore my Gore soft cell jacket, Gore shorts and my Chrome cycle shoes. Over the shorts I wore a pair of Altura cycling trousers due to the coldness. I also wore my new Altura waterproof gloves without the liner. These gloves were changed for mitts later.

Heading down the Portaferry road I turned into Finlays road then onto the Ballyblack road. I had warmed up rightly and was thoroughly enjoying the journey, the small wheels on the bike spinning freely, the suspension absorbing the road surface and giving a very smooth ride. The Brooks B17 saddle adding further to the comfort.

The roads have a good mixture of hills and flats and being not too wide with bends, the cycling wasn't at all boring.

Within a short time traveling on different roads I reached the seaside town of Millisle and headed along the coast to Donaghadee.

A lovely spot in Donaghadee is the Commons, a leisure area for walking, cycling, watching the view or whatever activities the council have.

A lovely coastal view

The Commons has this playground for children

The harbour

Donaghadee lifeboat station

A more compact view of the harbour

The seaside town itself

My Moulton Esprit
After spending longer than expected in Donaghadee I started heading for home. My route home was back along the Ballyvester road and back to the Ballyblack road where I met a couple of friends, David and Tom.
We stopped for a short time and had a bit of craic. I took a couple of photos and bid them safe journey, they were starting out on a 30 mile tour. I would have loved to have joined them but had to get home.

David and Tom 


Robert and Tom

Just after leaving the boys, a cyclist waved at me with great enthusiasm, I waved back and noticed a car close behind him. Looking up I saw a movie camera pointed at me. I later found out a famous Ards cyclist Billy Kirk was going to have a documentary made about him. You never know, perhaps a couple of seconds showing the only moultoneer in these parts will be added too.

On the way home I was starting to feel drained so I rode up to Ballyblack Church and had a banana and  drink.

Back home and just in the door when the phone rang, a callout to Larne, talk about timing.

This is just a little of bit of my cycling and as you can tell I have a love for it as well as the Ards peninsula.

Patsy just lets me get on with it, she knows where I'd be and is happy doing her own thing, running around the shops, spending money and having coffee.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Night time ride

Back from work at 6.30pm to the usual greeting from Sasha. My tea was ready and after it and an hours relaxation Sasha was taken out for her walk.

The evening was cool with a mild breeze, suddenly, I felt I had to have a cycle, so I rushed Sasha home and got the Guvnor ready. When I say ready I just mean fit the lights, a B&M Ixon IQ headlight and two Blackburn rear lights.

Recently I bought an Altura Night Vision jacket which came with a light stick, this attaches to the back of the jacket with velcro. I put it on flash mode.

Off I went, from the Scrabo Road roundabout to the Portaferry Road roundabout down the Portaferry Road as far as Finlays Road. I turned into Finlays Road and up to the Ballyblack Road then onto the Ballyhaft, Cunningburn, Crossnamuckly, Drumawhey and Loughries Roads back onto the Ballyblack Road, on to Ards and home. A run of about 15 miles mostly along dark country lanes.

The Ixon light did a great job lighting up the road.

I was thinking a head light would be ideal for seeing into bends and generally to light up anything I'd be looking at. The dynamo system will also add more light.

This run tonight was an excellent workout. I find it really satisfying to be out along the roads and not in my garage on the trainer. I find the trainer really boring.

I would really recommend cycling the quiet country roads providing you can see well and be seen better.

The Pashley to my mind is more reliable than the Moulton for night time cycling with its low pressure tyres filled with anti puncture slime, and they are also very sure footed both on wet and dry roads.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Guv'nor on the Tide Bank

The rain stopped around 7.30am this morning after nearly 40hrs constant. The rest of the day being misty and dull.
Most Saturday mornings I would cycle the Moulton for around 30 miles, yesterday however, I walked Scrabo and Killynether as it was raining.
This morning the rain was down to a drizzle so I decided to take the Guv'nor out for a short run. I hadn't been out from last Saturday and was starting to get withdrawal symptoms, hard to explain but the short 8 mile run satisfied me.
                                             Guv'nor with Scrabo Tower in the distance

The tide bank is a wide 'wall' to stop the sea from flooding the airport and fields. On top of this 'wall' is a path for walking and cycling. This path is covered in small stones, the Guv'nor takes this surface in it's stride.
                                                Guv'nor leaning against a small wall

I look at anything we buy as a blank canvas to be added to, to suit ourselves and my bikes are improved with every part fitted. Purists, I suppose wouldn't agree with me turning the Guv'nor into a roadster but to my mind it's a far more useful bicycle and more capable in the wet.
Next week I will be fitting a bottle dynamo to it and hope to give an account of this in the coming weeks.