Thursday, 26 February 2009


Bouncy, bouncy. Well there's a limit to how rough you want it. When it becomes thud, grind, wobble, things are getting dangerous. Most of the roads on my commute are suffering after the winter and a number of potholes have appeared, especially around previous repairs and works.

I've taken advantage of the excellent CTC pothole reporting service at to report them to the authority responsible for upkeep of the roads.

You can't fault the council (or is it coincidence?) Since I reported some last week, many of the faults have been marked with paint and today some of them got filled in.

I think there is still a wide margin between what the roads department consider worth filling in and those that affect cyclists quite seriously.

Some of bits of road where it has been 'made good' after works, throw me out of the saddle because they stick up too much. Others problems are where there are a series of relatively small holes where other hazards exist, such as at a junction. It's difficult to steer around the problem without putting myself in danger. Linear repairs running along the road can be problematic too. The original road would have been cut with a stone cutting wheel and if the repair afterwards is at a different level or worn away, steering along the cut can catch the wheel and throw a cyclist off balance.

One suggestion might be to ride a bike with big balloon tyres. Those would soak up the bumps. I don't really want to do that and would prefer a reasonable surface to use thinner tyres on. Hopefully the council are proud to have better roads and accept fault reports gladly.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009


The adventure is about to begin. The preparations are done. The contestants are lining up. Nervously anticipating racing over hundreds of miles of frozen Alaska. Wondering if they prepared everything right. Will their gear hold out? Will their bodies hold out? Will they be able to consume enough calories? Can they stand the overnight bivvies in sub-zero temperatures?

Questions start to be answered next week. The race starts Sunday as competitors head off on foot, skis and bikes. Conditions will dictate which method has the advantage. What do they win? Knowledge, self belief and membership of an elite endurance club. I kind of envy them but if I had my time again, I don't know if I would tackle anything so extreme. Still interesting though, even for an armchair 'athlete'.

Main site: Iditarod Ultrasport Invitational

I'll be checking site above and the blogs below for updates as the race progresses and reports afterwards. The story of human endurance never fails to inspire and the photos are great as well.

Kathi & Bill Merchant (organisers)

A selection of the 50 competitors:

Bill Dent (UK, bike 350 miles)
Aidan Harding (UK, bike 350 miles, single speed endurance racer) (bikemagic article)
Jill Homer (USA, bike 350 miles)
James Leavesley (UK, bike 1100 miles - Must have enjoyed it so much on the 350 last year. James uses Buffalo Pertex and pile clothing system, which is the same as the jacket I wear for winter cycling. I'm impressed he used it in Alaska and curious to know what he wore underneath - The principle of the system is wearing it next to the skin!)
John Ross (UK, bike 350 miles, endurance racer)

Howard Cook (UK, foot 350 miles)
Steve Evans (Welsh, foot 350 miles, consultant geriatrician from Guernsey)
Roger Leavesley (UK, foot 350 miles, James Leavesley's dad)
Geoff Roes (USA, foot 350 miles)

Good luck all.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

School's Out

This week is when local schools are on holiday. This is the frame for the new school at St.Stephen's Little Harwood. This steelwork has taken about three week's to erect and now shows the outline of what shape the building will be.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Plane Street

After years of being bounced around on the terrible surface of Plane Street at Bastwell, it is finally being resurfaced.

I've reported a number of potholes along this busy road between Little Harwood and Blackburn. Some have been filled but Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council have finally admitted defeat as the bits joining all the repairs have eventually crumbled away.

The surface is lifting off in places and is badly cracked in others.
Work started this week on setting the pavements ready for a new road surface. This is good news.

I hope Whalley New Road (A666) will get the same treatment soon as that has deteriorated badly over the winter months. I'll post some pictures soon of some of the potholes there as I'm reporting them on
The observant wll notice from the sign that Plane Street has been designated a 'Clean Street'. Is that because of the constant battle with the rubbish dumped there?

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Nick O'Pendle

Why is it when I set out for a short unplanned ride and I'm not sure which way I should go, that I end up taking the path that leads uphill? On Sunday, after cleaning, adjusting and lubricating the derailleur on my restored commuter, I wanted to have a test run and with an hour or so at my disposal, it was a good opportunity to supplement my weekly commuting mileage.

Mist over Pendle - Witch country

At first, I was going to go west for a change, but decided at the last minute that heading off into the Ribble Valley was more desirable. When I travel the same route many times, I look for variations to make it interesting. In Whalley, instead of heading further towards Clitheroe, I headed our towards the delightful village of Wiswell and from there to Pendleton. Having reached it in what seemed like no time, the crunch decision came at the junction with Pendle Road. That gave me the option of an easy drop down to Clitheroe or toil over the Nick O'Pendle to Sabden. My old bike has 12 speeds but none of them are suitable for climbing hills, I know that, but still, for some reason, I took the route right up the hill.

It wasn't long before I was warming up to a steady boil and had to stop by the cattle grid to get my breath back. Another stop by Pendle Ski club to admire the view (and let off steam).

From here you get fine views north over the Ribble Valley and the Forest of Bowland. The rest enabled recovery enough to reach the 'nick' from which to catch the views of Sabden lying in the valley beyond.

Luckily no roadies were climbing the hill when I was so I didn't feel too embarassed. I exchanged nods with a couple going down the other side. They looked a bit more serious than me and perhaps were doing their winter training for the sportives that run in summer of these local hills.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Velib troubles

It seems the contractor JC Decaux running the Velib cycle hire scheme in Paris is having difficulty. The costs of replacing stolen and vandalised bikes is outweighing the benefits and they want to renegotiate their contract with the city.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Lighter nights on the way

Having cycled to work nearly every dark morning and night in January, the days are getting longer much quicker now February is here, almost to the point of having some daylight left after work. I'm looking forward to lighter times, especially being able to add longer routes home to increase the mileage. I've still got the lights on, with good reason it seems, as some motorists at the moment aren't driving sympathetically with respect to cyclists.