October 19th, 2017
I’m still bouncing back and forth between my life in the shop and my life in the theatre quite happily. This past month has been my first chance to travel with my bike and be a proper commuter though. Luckily, I’ve had enough time at Richmond Cycles to kit myself out with the right stuff – and it’s made a difference
I managed to find a room in Llandaff with an opera loving couple an easy twenty-five minute ride from work in Cardiff Bay, where I had a short contract with Welsh National Opera. My commute was mostly through a park along a river or along dedicated cycle way. It was lovely. Here are a few tips my little experience taught me.
Get your bike there
You need to book your bike on Great Western Railways. I did it over the phone and had the usual five minute dance with a computer before getting through to a friendly human being who gave me a reservation number for the train I was planning to catch. I booked the return space for the bike at the Cardiff Central station the day before and was able to change that to a different train about thirty minutes before departure. It’s a small hassle with a big payoff because there is no better way to get to know a city that to discover it on two wheels.
If you’re commuting regularly you really should have mudguards. Showing up to work in jeans with mud up the the knees at the front and a wet brown bum stripe is not a good look. I’m vain about my bike and like it without – but I need to get over that.
Since I’m using the Cross Rip primarily as a commuting machine, I swapped the original cross tyres for Continental All Seasons road tyres. The grip and ride feel of these 32mm tyres are terrific. I’ve done around 1,000 Kilometres on them so far, mostly but not all on the road, and loved every minute of it.
Did I say I was vain about my bike? It’s taken me a while to get comfortable with the idea of disc brakes on a drop handlebar bike, even a cross bike but the Shimano hydraulic brakes on the Trek Cross Rip 3 are super smooth, powerful and work consistently in all weathers. The more things you can forget about while you’re commuting the better. The disc brakes mean I don’t give a thought to anything but the cars, bikes, dogs, people lost in their social media, toddlers and prams that I’m sharing the road with on a daily basis.
Pay attention to your lock. It is talking to you, When the mechanism is getting a bit stiff then give it some GT85. The cost of this lesson for me was a £10 taxi ride to the theatre, since the lock froze when it was locked in the shed at my digs but it could have been worse – just saying.
I’m referring to seeing as well as being seen. As the to former, I love the lenses in my 100% glasses They are the best in changing light conditions that I’ve ever worn, In reference to the latter, the R100 Bontrager lights are brilliant – pardon the pun. They are easy to take on and off, USB rechargeable and full charge easily lasts a a long time. In three weeks of riding I had to recharge them one time. I commute in a hi-vis/reflective helmet and gloves. The next step will be shoes. The Trek research says the the seeing head, hands and feet are what make the traffic coming towards you from the front, back or side register you as a human being on a bike and react accordingly. For the vast majority of drivers that means they slow down a bit and give you plenty of space when they pass.
Hope that’s a tiny bit useful. I’m back in the shop next week. Come in a and say hello and we’ll talk about opera, bikes, coffee and other important things.