Category Archives: bicycle maintenance

My new wheels



I have been hanging around ebay again and stumbled upon a pair of 700c chrome wheels which I managed to get for £10… I had been hoping for £4 but in the last 10 minutes someone else started bidding.

Fortunately I learned my lesson and now if I want to collect something I make sure it is in the same county as me…or possibly the next one over as these were based in Daventry which is 15 miles away…

The buyer was located on one of the new estates that are a warren of roads as each road has side roads off them which in turn have side roads off them until you have turned so many times you don’t know which way you are facing.

On my return the Man said “I started to get worried once it got passed 7.30… I thought you had mistaken Daintree in Essex for Daventry…”

Ha Ha (not)

Unfortunately with ebay you have to take your chances if you don’t have the time to ask questions of the seller. On getting them home the back one turns out to have a broken spoke and a flat spot… but slightly less of a flat spot than my original wheels…

Anyway going to see what we can do with the 4 wheels we have.

Apologies for the photo quality…it’s dark outside now most of the time I am at home.


Not a Lights Review

I have some photos to add to this post but for some reason wordpress is not co-operating this evening

I recently purchased some new bike lights having been persuaded by a colleague that my set up was pretty poor – yes I was legal but if I ever got caught in the dark I would not necessarily be safe.

Fortunately he also had some ideas about what sort of lights would make me relatively safe without spending vast amounts…

“Of course if you decide that you like cycling in the dark then you may want to upgrade”

Colleague 3 from some weeks ago (now my Guru) favours Exposure as does colleague 2 because they have a good “burn time” i.e. generally last for around 3 hours on max power, and are both powerful and robust. They have an internal battery so no wires or additional battery packs.  However you can he says end up spending several hundred pounds on one unit which at the end of the day is just a torch!

On the rear he uses a  Cateye LD1100  which he considers “about the best there is” and since it turned out to be cheaper than he had lead me to expect I went ahead and ordered one… I don’t want to take risks on the rear light. If I am going to be hit at night I suspect it is mostly likely to be from behind because someone hasn’t realised I am there so I have a catsye which I intend to mount quite high on the bike and a small one down by the drop outs.

Because I live out in the middle of nowhere with little street lighting I’ve opted for a budget bright light the  Brite-R® Uno II CREE XM-L T6 LED which gives me a lot of light for under £20.

However I was not particularly impressed by the quality as I had only just taken it out of the box when this happened.  Also there is a lot of faff involved as the battery  is separate and has to be detached and charged up inside with its own little charger so you end up with lots of wires and cables on the bike. However it can be mounted as a head torch or as a bike light on the front.

Now the reason that this is not a lights review…I haven’t used them yet. Not quite true I did use the Catseye in the dark when we went down the Stratford Greenway recently but the Cree I have only tried by walking down the road… which isn’t really the point, if I want to do that I can just take a torch with me.

I feel a bit embarrassed. Here am I 44 years old and too scared to go for a ride in the dark…. I have had these lights for almost a month you know (a month in real time – most blog posts I write a month later, this one happens to be real time for once)

I have recently been reading the blog of Bri at Bike Like Crazy… I feel even more embarrassed. Not only does she bike at night but bikes all through the winter at all hours of the day and night and weather conditions… with minimum journeys of 10 miles and here am I too scared to take a spin round the block as it were (4 miles).

Childhood Dreams

Since that cold wet Monday evening when I turned up with the broken down bicycle that we now call “Candy The Slapper” the Man has become quite enthusiastic about the project…

It started the evening I returned. He came into the bathroom where I was soaking the cold out of my bones with the hottest bath I could bear. He came in and sat by the bath

“I’ve been looking at the frame. She’s in surprisingly good nick for something so screamingly ‘80’s”

The Man reckoned that she had been involved in an accident as the crankwheel was pushed into the frame and the teeth dug in to the paintwork if you tried to turn the pedals. His theory was that she may have been stored at the back of the garage and one day someone parking the car might have failed to stop, crashing into the car and forcing the crankwheel into the frame…and then she was just left in the garage hence the fact there was very little rust or dirt other than the sticky greasy film that seemed to be all over her.

It was the Man who started referring to the bike as “she” and “her”…  as in

“She has a very pretty frame”

Candy the Slapper is of mixte construction having 2 parallel toptubes coming from the handlebar stem, going either side of the seat tube and joining the drop outs at the back.

Candy is the bike from the 1980’s I never had… my bike was a very sensible bike for going to and from school on…with a basket… and because I have very short legs I never grew out of the bike I got at the age of 10… I was still using it at the age of 18 despite the fact that by then it had seen many many better days…

The Man started telling me about the bike from his teenage years muttering reverently names like Sturmley Archer and Reynolds 531 frames…

It was a Raleigh… of course it was a Raleigh most kids in England ended up with Raleighs because back then there was still a belief that all the manufacturing was still done in England, Nottingham…

I had a Puch… but then we bought our bikes off my Uncle John who owned a bike shop… in Nottingham…

The Man is hooked and fired up about the project. Together we manage to find an old brochure on the internet showing the Raleigh Candice…it’s not quite the same model though but it gives us an idea for dates.

He also gets quite enthused over photographs of other bikes people have done…We end up having to put a budget on ourselves as it is quite possible to go quite gaga over accessories…and Candy was never meant to be a diva of a bike. She was meant to be a learning curve for bicycle repair and a bit of a beater bike for taking to places I didn’t have the courage to take the Ridgeback.

But things seem to be evolving quite fast… at some point we have to make a decision as to whether this is a repair or a restoration…

Monday A foolish girl and why I married the Man

How do you fit this wreck

image image

into this small car…


And possibly more importantly why would you ?

Recent experiences whereby I come back to discover that the Man has added bits or removed bits from my bike has made me want to learn how to do what the Man does?  He has no fear of repairs and maintenance or flat tyres. If his bike isn’t working the way he expects it to then he just changes it, no ifs no buts no procrastination… also he walks round bike shops seeing possibilities and not, as I do feeling overfaced by row upon row of bits bobs and accessories.

I am reluctant to learn by fiddling around with the Ridgeback (which reminds me I haven’t introduced the bikes yet)  as I might mess it up and then  I am without a ride… or waiting for the Man to make good what I have messed up… which would be embarrassing

So on impulse I bought a cheap “parts or restoration on ebay ” bike for £10.

Unfortunately I got my towns mixed up and thought I was picking it up from just outside Rugby… it was only after the auction had closed that I discovered that the bike was located just outside Nottingham some 90 minutes from home, just over an hour from work.

Oops… and then in order to avoid adverse comment on ebay I had to go through with it as they were only accepting cash and that was on collection only.

I perhaps should mention that shortly after I left the office it started raining. it was absolutely hoofing it down for most of the way down the M42 and M1 but had eased off by the time I came off the A46…but was still far from dry

The sellers had kindly taken the wheels and the fenders off for me; also the back carrier but the bike was still too large and I had no tools with me having come straight from work…they then shut the door on me pretty much as soon as I handed over the money so I also had had to carry it to my own car.

There I am in the spitting rain trying the bike this way and that.  It didn’t fit in the boot… or the passenger seat…and I have no back seat or back shelf to speak of…fortunately my car does this…


So I drove back from Nottingham with the top down and with a smelly dirty 1980’s Raleigh in the passenger seat…in the rain as of course the further I went from Nottingham the more the rain started to fall.  Fortunately however I didn’t actually get very wet and neither did the inside of the car. I was wearing a cut price waterproof jacket that the Man had dumped in the back “in case you break down in the rain” and I guess the design of the windscreen kept most of the spray out of the car.

I wasn’t sure how legal it was to drive with the top down and a dangerous pile of spiky metal bits in the passenger seat so I decided to avoid the motorways and take roads less travelled which worked fine until I managed to lose the route of the A46 around Leicester… somehow I stumbled upon the A47 which took me to Hinkley where I was then able to join the A5 and then the Fosse Way home.

This was a cold wet journey but surprisingly quite exhilarating… at least at first.   I think I got a grin from a road cyclist just outside of Hinkley who may have spotted my passenger… then again it may just have been gratitude for giving him enough room when overtaking after the lights…

It possibly stopped being a fun adventure around about  Stetton Under Fosse/Brinklow… by now I was slightly tired, getting cold and very very hungry… but the Fosse is the route home pretty much so I slogged on.

When I get back the Man is looking out for me. He says nothing just looks at me with his usual amused rueful grin…the one he uses when I am collapsed by the back door after a ride.  He makes no comments about the rain,  the topless car or the rusted wreck in the passenger seat,  just “I thought you said you bought a frame…what’s with the wheels and other bits” and  “ Kettles on, thought you might like a bath before dinner to warm you up…but would you mind stripping the chicken first so that I can make dinner”

Reader, this is why I married him, because he takes my slightly unconventional  approach to life in his stride and accepts my reasons for doing things as logical for the world in which this family lives in… oh, and cooks a pretty mean stir fry…even if he is squeamish about touching greasy meat (I accept his illogical hang-ups too).