Saturday, 28 February 2009


This picture of barges at Rickmansworth festival dates from nearly two years ago, but today I've passed the same point on route from Maidenhead to Saint Albans.

Sustrans National Cycle Route 61 would have taken me nearly all of the way, along the Jubilee River, the Grand Union canal, Colne Valley and Ebury way, with a few linking sections. In practice I chose to bypass the Jubilee river part, and instead I worked round the north of Slough to Uxbridge for the sake of time.

By the time I had made my way there and back I had covered 71 miles (and a bit). That's my longest ride yet, and the first of more than 100km. In the process I crossed off another church from my Jenkins quest (Holy Rood at Watford). It was a great outing, and a marvellous route, but I feel exhausted.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Lost and found

This time last year I added up the miles I had covered in the first month with the new bike,and realised it would be enough to reach Paris. This year it has taken me almost two months to cover the same distance. 

Unimpressive, but after a feeble start I'm gradually catching up with the goals I set myself at the start of the year, and a fairly long ride this evening has helped to close the gap.

I hadn't intended to go so far, but I started to follow a road that I didn't know, so that I could add it to Open Street Map. Then another, and another. After a while I realised that I wasn't heading in the direction I expected, and had only a vague idea where I was.

I had the GPS with me of course, but I had left my glasses at home, and without them I can't make much sense of the GPS map. So I had to rely on instinct to get back on track.

In the end it worked out. 24 miles in total, and not even late for dinner.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Loudon memorial, Pinner

I diverted through Pinner on my return journey on Saturday, because I wanted to see this curiosity. This is Charles Harper, writing about it in "Cycle rides around London" in 1902...

"Bear to the right at the fork in the road for Pinner, entered by a cluster of cottages and " villas," built since the opening of the Metropolitan Extension to Harrow and Aylesbury a few years ago. Pinner is a large village in process of being spoiled by its railway facilities. A very broad street, lined with old-fashioned (and some new-fashioned) houses, leads up to the imposing church, which has a singular tall cross on the summit of its tower. Note on the way the "Queen's Head Inn," its sign a contemporary (and very bad) portrait of Queen Anne, dated 1705."

"An odd tomb, in the shape of a tower, is to be seen in the churchyard. Now thickly overgrown with ivy, it is a picturesque object, but the peculiarity of it is that the body of the person "buried" here a certain William London, in 1809 is contained in a stone-encased coffin, projecting from the tower, half-way up. The end of the coffin bears an epitaph, which, however, affords no clue to this freak. Legends, that may or may not be well founded, tell that the descendants of William London, a Scotch merchant, retain the property bequeathed by him so long as he remains "above ground." This tower is supported on arches filled in with ornamental ironwork, on which appear the mysterious words, " BYDE-MY TYME." The inquisitive stranger naturally wants to know what he is waiting for, but the mystery is insoluble."

More than 100 years later, much remains the same, though the ivy has gone.

Saturday, 21 February 2009


Today I've ridden 58 miles around Slough, through Uxbridge and a big chunk of the part of North-West London known as Metroland (Ruislip, Pinner, Harrow and Northwood). 

A sensible question might be "why?".

The reason was to reach St Mary's church in Harrow on the Hill, which is the next in the list of fine English churches that I am trying to reach by bike as part of my Jenkins Quest

I often find in this exercise that the church itself is interesting enough, but not particularly memorable. This was no exception. It contains a few treasures, including this fine Jacobean pulpit, and there is a plaque in the grounds to mark a spot that the young Byron was particularly fond of. However, it is the high location and the distant views that are particularly striking.

As for the rest of the trip, I passed through an awful lot of London suburbia, with a few highlights such as the footbridge over Western Avenue north of Uxbridge, the Celandine Route along the river Pinn, and the Loudon memorial at Pinner (more of this later). 

There is a surprising amount of variety in metroland, and at worst it is not as bad as you might expect. As a stranger, I found it difficult to follow a route through the back streets, and this tended to force me onto the busier roads. I suspect that with more local knowledge it is a pretty good area for cycling. A fellow cyclist on a similar route agreed that it is surprising how much you can discover: once you stop worrying about getting lost.

In summary, it's been an interesting day, with a pleasant destination. The weather has been near perfect. I am happy to have crossed off the 16th church in my quest, and covered a mile more than this year's magic number, and I think I've logged a few roads that haven't been plotted on Open Street Map yet.

Friday, 20 February 2009

A challenge

Sometimes it can be annoying to be told how much more wonderful things are somewhere else. But this is just great. I challenge you to watch it without smiling.

Two Wheels is All. Amsterdam from Jay Sav on Vimeo.

With belated thanks to Amsterdamize for the link.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Onwards and upwards

I've just got back from this evening's ride, which added nearly 13 miles to the weeks total. That makes this the first time this year that I've managed to reach my weekly goal. Which means that the graphs are no longer heading in the wrong direction, but I've still got a way to go before I close the gap that has opened up, and get on track for the bigger objectives.  Still, encouraged by examples of others, I'm confident of getting there in the end.

Monday, 16 February 2009


I'm trying to work out what the Twitter fuss is about. I've signed up, but I can't get SMS updates working.

When I followed Downing St they followed me. We were going round in circles like Pooh and the heffalumps.

So now I'm following Andy Allan ( - because at least he has a Cycle map.

Lance Armstrong's stolen bike

Apparently Lance Armstrong has had his bike stolen, and used Twitter to ask for help finding it. There is an article about it on the Guardian news blog.

The bike is unique, and not exactly inconspicuous - so let's hope he gets it back.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

A muddy good ride

I set off today with high hopes of reaching another of England's best churches on the bike. High hopes, but totally unrealistic in light of a late start, lazy route planning, and waterlogged paths that forced a couple of diversions.

I got as far as Ruislip, but the highlights were well before that, as I followed National Cycle Route 61 from near Maidenhead almost to Uxbridge. A lot of the path was waterlogged, with the remains of a covering of ice. So the bike ended up covered in mud. I covered 43 miles, got fairly messy myself, and had great fun.

Friday, 13 February 2009


Only a couple more hours to go, and all will be well, at least until next month.


Thursday, 12 February 2009

Miserable stuff

As the snow clears I've managed to fit in two short rides this week. That's after a fortnight when I allowed the bike to rest in the shed. By this time last year I had already covered more miles than I have this year. Since I didn't get the bike until the end of January 2008, that makes this year's mileage look particularly poor. If I'm going to get back on plan I need to start covering some serious distances. So let's hope the weather improves.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Financial advice

My bank is offering me advice on how to manage my business through the economic downturn. 

They recommend that I keep an eye on cashflow, deal with bad debts, concentrate on maintaining profit margins, and spread risk.

All very sound, but this advice is from an organisation that is being propped up with £20bn of our money, that is expected to announce losses that run into billions in the next few weeks, and that is reported to have set aside a £1bn fund to make bonus payments to staff.

At least they haven't lost their sense of humour.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Global positioning system

To set up the sytem:
  • Print out the picture
  • Put it in your pocket
To use the system:
  • Take out the picture
  • Read your position
(batteries not included)

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Donkey Wheel

It's an odd thing, the Interweb. There's been a sudden burst of activity on my Flickr pages, because somebody linked to this picture in order to illustrate their point on a discussion forum about the TV series Lost.

Apparently in one episode of Lost, a capstan was wrongly described as a donkey wheel, which might mean something important - or might not.

And sadly I have spent half an hour chasing through the links to discover where all the extra hits were coming from. Time I will never recover and put to better use.

I really do need to get out more.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

"Snow in South-East England: crisis mounts as dozens of journalists are inconvenienced"

With thanks to my brother for the pointer to an excellent film from 1963 that puts current press coverage into perspective.