Sunday, 27 June 2010

Bath Road crossing

Our new cycle path along the Bath Road was officially opened to coincide with Bike Week. They've widened the footpath and made it shared use along about a mile of the A4. They've installed Toucan crossings at a couple of places. And they have linked all this to other routes and a couple of local schools.

The intent is to reduce congestion and parking issues by encouraging people in general to leave their car at home and encouraging children in particular to cycle (or walk) to school. Those are worthy aims that I think everyone can applaud.

From a more selfish point of view these changes will make a slight improvement to many of my rides by making it easier to cross the Bath Road. I regularly go that way on various routes heading south and west. Several months ago they began work on all this by installing a traffic island in the middle of what is now a toucan crossing. As soon as they had done that it started to have an effect on my trips, because I no longer had to wait for traffic to clear both directions at the same time.

It's a small improvement, but still I offer my thanks to the local authority and Sustrans, who each contributed £170,000 towards the cost. That's a lot of money, so lets hope that the new route gets plenty of use. Removing a short delay in my rides shouldn't carry any weight, but if these improvements do help to encourage more cycling and less congestion then that should encourage the council to make more investment like this in future.

I've been out to plot it all with the GPS this afternoon, and discovered that some elements had already been added to OSM. That's not bad for a facility that has only been open for a few days. I've now been able to made some more additions, and I look forward to seeing the results as the cycle map is re-rendered.

Saturday, 26 June 2010


I haven't been out on the bike much this week, but it's a very hot day today. So I decided to chose a fairly flat route, make an early start, and try to get back home before it all got too hot and uncomfortable.

I headed for Colnbrook, which today is part of Slough. The place keeps moving though - in the past it has been part of Buckinghamshire, Middlesex, Surrey and Berkshire.

The first Cox’s Orange Pippin was grown here in 1825 (by a retired brewer called Richard Cox), so it has some claim to fame. In other respects (how shall I put this politely) it is not the most obvious destination for a gentle weekend outing. The routes there and back aren't bad though.

The village lies just west of Heathrow (under the flight path), and it is snuggled up against both the M4 and the M25. The A4 passes through the outskirts on the way to the centre of Slough. So it is something of a transport hub. Even National Cycle Route 61 passes through the centre of the village, and almost all of the milestones on the Bath Road around here give a distance to Colnbrook.

The reason for Colnbrook appearing on milestones is because it used to be a popular stopping point for travellers going between London and Bath. There used to be a lot of coaching inns here. The one in the picture, the Ostrich, was founded in 1106 and is said to be England's third oldest inn.

There is a story that in the 17th century the landlord of the Ostrich installed a trap door under the bed in the best bedroom. He would release two bolts during the night and tip the sleeping occupant into a boiling cauldron in the kitchen below. More than 60 rich guests are supposed to have been murdered like this, and slung into the local river.

As far as I know there was nothing that exciting going on in Colnbrook today, but it was a decent outing, a pleasant ride out through Windsor, and a pleasant ride back along the Thames. In the process I managed to mark up a few more of the remaining Bath Road milestones. As far as I can tell, there's only one missing from the 19 that must have originally been installed between Colnbrook and Twyford. That gap leaves a bit of a hole in the nice curve that is starting build up in the map below.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

New figures from the Department for Transport

The number of miles travelled by cycles in 2009 was up from 2,920 million to 3,078 million - a rise of 4.4% in the last year according to the Department for Transport, and 5.4% according to me. There have been a few ups and downs in the figures over recent years, but underlying the fluctuations there seems to have been a fairly steady rise for about the last eight years, and the total miles travelled by bike is back to a level that was last seen in the early 90's.

2009 was the first time that cycles have accounted for more than 1% of the total distance travelled on the roads since 1993. Bikes covered almost as many miles as motorbikes and almost as many as buses and coaches.

Around 20% of the distance covered by cycles was on rural roads, and 80% on urban roads.

DfT have also released some accident statistics. Total casualties among cyclists increased by 5% - roughly in proportion to the distance cycled. But accidents were less serious - the number of cyclists killed fell 10% from 115 to 104. but the number seriously injured rose 6%. There seems to have been a particularly big drop in the number of serious accidents involving children on bikes.

The data is here and here. There is a CTC press release about it all here.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Define: rumble

I see various cycling events described as a "rumble" (Ryedale Rumble, Burgess Hill Rumble, Surrey Rumble). As far as I can make out the implication is that these are particularly hilly rides. In a similar vein, a "wobble" (Warminster Wobble) seems to be used for a festival, or social event rather than for a ride. Have I got this right?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

All Saints, Crondall

Regular visitors will have noticed that the bike hasn't had very many outings recently. Things have been a bit hectic around here, and although we've managed a few short evening rides there hasn't been a long weekend outing for several weeks.

Considering that it has hardly moved from the shed for four weeks I thought the bike did very well today. It was running very smoothly and keeping up a good speed for almost the whole day. That positions me nicely to make some self-deprecating comment about my own performance after a few weeks without a long ride. However I'm not going to do that. Partly because it would be a bit of a cliché, but mainly it's because I actually think I did quite well.

The ride covered sixty miles in total, to visit the 41st church on my list.

I doubt if even its closest friends would describe All Saints in Crondall as one of the prettiest churches in England. It has an impressive tower, and an interesting history. There's quite a lot to see inside, including a Saxon font, an unusual brass memento mori (below), and some crosses inscribed in the door frame by crusaders. But the exterior is a bit of a mish-mash. I have to say though, that the guide book is one of the best I have seen at describing the church, and placing its history in context.

Getting there was a bit tricky. The challenge when I head south is always to avoid a lot of suburban sprawl and busy roads. There are decent routes through, but it's not easy to find them. This time I went out through the edge of Bracknell, then Finchampstead and Fleet. It's not unusual for me to get a bit muddled in Bracknell and today was no exception. In the process I discovered a new route that avoids some of the busiest parts. That should help in future.

Coming back I used the tow-path of the Basingstoke Canal to get back to Fleet, and then followed a slightly different route home through Wokingham.

It was a glorious day for a ride. The morning was a little grey, but the afternoon was sunny. I had a following wind on the way out, but it had stilled by the time I was heading home. It wouldn't be right to expect more than that.

All Saints, Crondall - memento mori

“You earthly impes that here behold this picture with your eyes
remember the end of mortall men and where their glory lies"

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Bath Road Milestones

I did a 20 mile loop out to Windsor and back this evening. For a change I went out along the Bath Road so that I could mark up the rest of the old milestones between here and Slough.

This will never be one of my favourite roads - through the edges of Slough Trading estate. But it's not as bad as you might think. There's a decent cycle path for most of the way into Slough, separated from the main road by a grassy verge. After leaving Slough it was a lovely evening to come home via Eton and Windsor, with the old buildings looking magnificent in low sunlight.

As the map shows I think I've now marked all the milestones from Slough to beyond Twyford, and it looks as though the complete set is still in place (though one is looking a bit wonky). The next step will take me a bit further afield.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


Definition: jaunt - noun a short journey taken for pleasure; verb to go on a jaunt

I always like to have a destination for a ride, if only so that I can answer the question "where have you been today?". It's even better if I have a plausible answer to the question "why?".

Visitors come to Tlatet from all over the place, so this won't be of interest to everyone. Indeed it might not be of interest to anyone, but I've been collecting together some of the local destinations that I particularly like.

The criteria I'm using are a bit loose, but there are basically two. Firstly I'm trying to pick places that involve a pleasant ride, that can be reached while avoiding busy roads. Secondly I am trying to pick destinations that are a bit out of the ordinary, or that might be interesting to others.

The current state of the list is here. They are in no particular order. Normal rules apply: the decision of the judges on what to include or leave out is final. However  I'm open to challenges, and lots of people know this area better than I do - so I would welcome suggestions of places to add.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Real cyclists... according to Google

Real cyclists wear jerseys
Real cyclists ride in the rain
Real cyclists ride in the hills
Real cyclists wear padded shorts
Real cyclists ride touring bikes
Real cyclists never walk anywhere
Real cyclists don't walk up hills
Real cyclists don't wear earphones
Real cyclists don't wear underwear
Real cyclists always pedal down hill
Real cyclists never use the bike path
Real cyclists don't have squeaky chains
Real cyclists don't strap cars to bikes
Real cyclists don't take the winter off
Real cyclists ride their bikes every day
Real cyclists wear caps instead of helmets
Real cyclists always track-stand to the right
Real cyclists don't ride because it's healthy, they ride because they have to


Real cyclists don't post threads like this

Sunday, 13 June 2010


Karl McCracken has a nice post at "Do the right thing" that looks like the start of a series on different kinds of problem driver. He describes what he calls a "junction drifter". Although he handles it in quite a light way, he's touching on some pretty serious behaviour. Junction drifters are dangerous, but rare (at least in my experience), so there is nothing I can add.

However, it gives me an excuse to get something less important off my chest.

It's quite common around here to come across youngsters who like to beep their horn just behind a cyclist in the hope of making them jump. Let's call them beepers in hatchbacks. Unlike the junction drifters the beepers in hatchbacks are not particularly scary, and I don't think they are much of a risk either.

If a four year-old made a funny noise to try and make me jump I hope I would find it amusing. When somebody old enough to hold a driving license does the same thing it's irritating. But my mother tells me that I used to be a small child once myself, and I understand why it is funny to try and make people jump.

On the other hand, as a car passed me the other day somebody threw a banana skin at me out of the passenger window. I don't get where the humour lies in doing that. I see beepers in hatchbacks as immature, thoughtless and irresponsible. Throwing banana skins at cyclists isn't particularly scary, but it strikes me as the behaviour of someone who must be quite disturbed.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Steam Rally

I went to the Stoke Row steam rally this afternoon. I think there was even more on show than usual, the weather was an improvement on my last visit, and I thoroughly enjoyed mooching around.

I mainly went to see the steam engines, but I enjoy the tractors, cars, motor bikes, and so on as well. I have a question though. When did the kinds of car that I used to drive become classics? I learned in a Morris Minor, and they had one of those. The first car I owned was a Mini, and they had one of those. It's probably best not to list the rest.

There was even a Raleigh Chopper on show, which didn't arrive until 1970. By then I had a driving licence, and I thought I was putting cycling behind.

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be - but worse - it's starting to overtake me.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

1,000 churches

The full size version is here

There are parts of the country that I am unlikely ever to reach in my quest to cycle to some of England's 1,000 best churches. But for the sake of completeness I've been trying to plot the positions of all 1,000.

Above is the map as it currently stands. I can't see a similar list anywhere else (other than in the book itself) so I hope this is of some use to others.

There are bound to be some mistakes, so it's a good idea to check location before heading off for a visit. If you do spot a mistake, please let me know and I'll update it accordingly.

For those who are interested in this stuff, there's also a flickr group - here.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Tenth commandment

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's."

Can we make an exception for Lego printers?

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

May roundup

Another month has gone by. We are just over 40% of the way through the year, and it's time to assess progress.

The big event of the month was a fabulous week cycling in the West of Scotland. I took the bike on five ferries and a couple of trains but more importantly I rode it for 327 miles. I know that's not a huge distance in a week, but it has helped the numbers along a bit, and after the trip I seem to be a bit better at hills than I was beforehand.

I'm aiming to cycle 3,759 miles in the course of this year. At the start of May I was just on track, having pulled back from a bit of a shortfall at the start of April. At the end of my Scotland trip I was about 200 miles ahead of plan. Things have fallen back a bit in the last couple of weeks because life has been a bit hectic, but I'm still comfortably ahead of plan. The trick in June will be to try and build up a bigger lead again.

At the start of May I also reached the last of the 15 churches that I was trying to cycle to this year. That brings the rolling total to 40 since I started this scheme a couple of years ago. So the plan now is to reach another ten by the end of the year and bring the total to 50. I've been recalculating the distances and as a result I ended up re-organising the list. It turns out that some of the ones I've already reached are further away than some of the ones I haven't. There's quite an interesting mix left to do, including some near central London, which will be a different kind of challenge.

On the Eddington numbers I'm up to 24 for this year, and 45 for all time. Getting to 50 doesn't look too difficult because I've already accumulated quite a few rides in the range between 45 and 50 miles. Getting beyond 50 will be a bit more of a challenge because I haven't done enough rides of more than 50 miles.

I've added a few bits and pieces to OSM, including all but one of the blue plaques in the local area, and a string of about a dozen milestones on the old Bath road. That's may not be as interesting as joining up a few bits and pieces of ferry routes and cycle paths in Scotland - but the local plaques and milestones are a darn sight easier to reach on a short evening or morning ride.

In brief, May went well and I'm getting complacent.