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Posted 20 hours ago

Fat Bloke on a Bike: An Unlikely Adventure

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On a more technical level, a couple of months ago I fitted some Shimano, single-sided SPD pedals to my Brompton on account of my feet constantly slipping off the original pedals. Well, firstly, unless the seat is already at the correct height, adjust it to more or less the height you think it should be using rack-of-eye, and check it by maybe pedalling round for a bit, then re-adjusting as necessary until it’s right. The thing is, the gearing itself is fine (if you want a lower gear ratio, which I did), but it’s much more of a faff changing gear during a normal bike ride since you have to constantly flip both the derailleur and sturmey-archer levers on a BWR6 just to stay in the middle gears. It’s like everyone is in a mad panic: like Armageddon is fast approaching (maybe it is); like they’ve all left the kettle on the stove and need to get back home before it boils dry and burns a hole in the bottom. Anyway, whether or not these (or any other ideas) work for other people, my solution is based on a relatively simple way of measuring using nothing more than your own fingers.

There are in fact no less than three separate wire stays and a bracket, the former being attached to the rear A-frame, the latter to the brake spindle. Again, I haven’t had much chance to try it out, but what I can say is that, whilst not cheap, it is a well made product and provides a very good, secure grip for virtually no extra weight.When you consider the amount of for/aft and side to side force (strong rider going up hill) going through these bearings, then you want them to be as far apart as possible more stiffness. I've also read that mid-drives might be better due to the power and given my weight and fitness, I need all the help I can get. Despite a trawl of the internet, there is surprisingly little information about this, and no solutions I could find. I like the security of the clipless pedal, and the Shimano ones I fitted are much more robust than the Brompton standards.

If you need more than three fingers to fill the gap, you can add up to four more below using your other hand. You then push the brake forward in an attempt to release it from the frame…but suddenly you realise that it is stuck against the wheel and won’t move far enough for the spindle to clear the hole. Suffice to say that although I now watch major cycle races on TV, or live, as avidly as the next man, the urge to cycle goes off if I lie down for a bit in a darkened room.

And, being a runner to start with will give you an advantage over those approaching triathlons from the other direction. Whilst there have been a number of recent initiatives to improve cycling in cities and increase the number of journeys, I have to say that riding a bike through central London during the main rush (which seems to last for several hours at either end of the day) is not for the faint-hearted. And the next thing you know, you’re tutting at people who get in your way, the ones who are trying to keep a steady pace, muttering “bloody tourists” under your breath. Part fish, Julia’s ability in water was already intimidatingly good and if she could be coached to cycle downhill at the same speed she cycles uphill, and we can keep her upright on the run, well, watch out Alistair and Jonny. I'm sure this will inspire many a fat bloke to don his lycra, and maybe this one will continue past the station one of these days.

This is a specially designed hook (made for the E-model) and fits directly onto the wheel axle, behind the wheel nut. The other thing that you ‘lose’ when you remove the front mudguard is inherent protection of the brake cable when turning right. For example, my finger-gauge measurement is ‘four fingers – tight’ (pressing down so the pillar digs into the lowest finger, resting against the finger bone). In fact, given the number of barbed-wire fences, extensive thickets of dense vegetation, marsh and swamp, it was barely accessible on foot, never mind bike!

Also there must be some sort of ‘Murphy’s Law’ about punctures which means you usually get one at the furthest point from help, in the dark or in appalling weather or all at once. Dealing with the simplest problem first, the Cycleops trainer is supplied with a special skewer that is meant to replace the existing one. For finer adjustment, you can have your fingers tight or loose – that’ll give an additional range of a quarter to a third of a finger width. Fat Bloke on a Bike' follows Paul's novice attempt at cycle-touring as, huffing and puffing, he hauls his seventeen stones from Weardale in the North Pennines, along the North Sea Coast, and through Scotland's cities, islands and highlands to Inverness. In fact, it’s possibly my most favourite city in the world (closely followed by New York City, San Francisco and Barcelona).

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