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sewerage

Great! An excuse to get the bike out, even if it was just to visit the stinking  yesteryear of London!  The Victorian Pumping Sewerage Station that stopped ‘The Great Stink’ from The River Thames held an ‘Steaming day’. After my long hiatus off the bike, I decided to check out this ‘masterpiece of Victorian engineering’.  It would also be the first opportunity to lock my bike as the instructors had shown me.

 

Cycling along the route was great, in this gorgeous summer weather, flat with little traffic, (Hooray!). It felt so good to ride again. I had two locks in my rucksack and I was a little anxious that it would  be safe but noted that those interested in Victorian sewerage wouldn’t probably be interested in my bike, so I used only one lock on the front release.

 

Whilst cycling, I thought about how the Victorians lived in filth and crap,  throwing their chamber pots full of faeces and all sorts from the windows of their terraced houses onto the streets. I could just imagine the swarms of flies and all sorts feeding on that crap and the awful stink that resulted.

 

I wondered if the contents ever caught anybody walking down the street! Or how their crap combined with the crap from their horses, dogs and cats or how the long dresses of the ladies must have got caught dragging the crap along the roads or even if it was possible to dodge the crap whilst walking down the street.

 

What with horse droppings, overflowing cesspits,  and putrefying rubbish, could they even walk in a straight line with all that crap clogging the streets. Vermin must have had a field day in and out of the rat infested sewers!  No wonder, in the years before this ‘triumph of Victorian design’, outbreaks of cholera and typhoid were striking down Londoners in their thousands. But they did get to the bottom of the matter by building four magnificent rotative beam engines to pump London’s sewerage into a reservoir before it went into the Thames in 1858.

 

Its taken 24 years to renovate a third of this pumping station to its former Victorian glory as shown in the photo. It has cast iron stairways, perforated cast-iron floor which I had to tip toe on so as not to get my heel caught in the gaps.  It had four huge wheels (pumps/engines), only one was fully renovated so far, quite intricate and beautifully designed with flowers, leaves badges in red, green and gold. 

 

There a number cyclindrical columns and at the centre is an octagonal arcade supported a decorative frieze on all eight sides.  It was rather like a cathedral.  A cathedral to crap! Very grand. The only working pump was extremely noisy. They each had a royal name, Victoria, Prince Consort, Albert Edward and Alexandra and was opened in 1865 by the Prince of Wales.

 

When flushing cisterns were invented, some say by a Victorian plumber called Thomas Crapper, (yes that’s where crap came from!) the putrid waste became even more rank.  Huge amounts of exreta found its way to the River Thames and then that same rancid crap was pumped back to the same houses for drinking, cooking and washing!!  Errrrrh!  Not surprisingly all river wildlife was also killed off.  The smell became so foul that it was named ‘The Great Stink’. 

 

One exceptionally warm summer in 1858, the smelly air was so stink that MPs suffered in their Houses of Parliament located upstream on the banks of the Thames. Because they suffered, (not the masses of poverty striken poor) they rushed through an Act of Parliament to build a network of giant  sewers and pumping stations that exist to this day. Simultaneously, the Victorians realised that the diseases were water borne not air borne as they had previously thought. This gave them the impetus to get to the bottom of the matter and fund the money. This station is one of them.  Joseph Bazalgette, the architect, is credited for helping to banish cholera and save the lives of tens of thousands.

  rampboatbridge

And then I left. It suddenly dawned on me why Thames Water causes so many traffic disruptions and gridlocks all over the place. It’s really frustrating with all the roadworks, but they are ‘Replacing London’s Victorian Water Mains’ which, after all, are over 150 years old.  With that thought in mind, I doubled back, and tried a new route to the Thames as there was no exit from the sewerage.

 

Pleased that I managed to steer up the long ramp carefully without wobbling, carried my bike up the steps over another bridge and then followed the signs to the Thames cycling  down through underpasses, paths between housing estates and parks, passing lakes until I reached the Thames path and rested on the graffiti covered upside canoes to contemplate my new route to the Thames and the river as it is now. Clean and calm, peaceful, odorless fresh air, as well as a haven to many species of fish, birds and leisure pursuits. Just imagine how different it could have been!!

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bike_stopWell, it’s been a while since I bought my Saracen and weeks since I’ve had a ride.  You know that life just takes over, even if you don’t want it to and prevents you from doing what you want! At the height of the summer and what I’ve been dreaming about since I learned to ride in the depths of winter, was good summer weather – but I haven’t been out at all. 

 

From weeks of being ill with terrible flu, (no, not that flu!!!)  to working 24/7, starting a new job, home improvements and general lethargy, I’ve been too exhausted to even attempt a ride. Even the aerobiking classes are always full when I try to book! Would you believe I haven’t been back since that first time. I’ve had no exercise at all and its like a vicious circle.  It seems I’m now back to square one with my lack of fitness.

 

But what’s even worse though, I believe, is that training is over. Yes, the instructors have told my friend and I, in no uncertain terms, that we’ve passed Level 3 and are no longer required.  We just need experience, go out alone.  They have taught us and seen us through our baby revolutions.  We are now fully fledged cyclists even though I don’t feel like one and to cap it all, I just got used to cycling that route  to the training. Oh dear, no more training.   It was such fun with the group and the instructors.

 

I feel very sad about that. Of course it had to happen but now the motivation and the company is no longer there and I’ve let cycling slide. Perhaps I should have stayed with my personal cycling trainer but I let him go after that incident where I risked his life.

 

I should join a cycling group but I’m worried that I won’t be able to keep up! I’m worried about all the damn hills, I’m worried about all the traffic, I’m worried about actually getting to the meeting places to join the group (although I could put it in my car).  I thought of joining a kids cycling group but think they might still out ride me!!

 

Reading through this post, it seems as though its all excuses, excuses and more excuses.  I just have to get out there and do something.

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Transporter3_bikeJust watched Transporter 3 on video and the bike scene was one of the best parts in this film, although the plot was a bit dodgy. It seems as though the first in a series is always the best.    Just like the Bourne trilogy films which I love to death. (As a matter of fact, the opening of Transporter 3 reminded me of the start of Bourne Identity).

Anyway the bike scene was really gripping and exciting.  I was on the edge of my sofa! I love the Transporter series, especially the first one and all Jason Statham films (The Bank Job, Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels etc).  

What happens is that Statham steals somebody’s bike and rides it through a warehouse. Then he surfs on the bike,  sliding it on its side, then flies through the warehouse window and jumps off into his car planting a perfect kick on the carjacker.  Implausible! But it is an action film.

Anyway, I was really pleased and surprised to see a bike scene had as much credibility as the car chases which are spectacular and well wicked!  Especially the underwater scene, that was probably improbable!

Bike Scene at YouTube

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Start Cycling!

catch up with the bicycle 

Look!  No helmet!  I was amazed and very pleased to see this poster around the corner from me on a huge hoarding promoting cycling for ordinary folk.  Isn’t it great!  Lovely photos.

It’s a new campaign, created by M&C Saatchi, featuring photographic images of people enjoying their bikes and learning to cycle safely.  They say that this new campaign attempts to persuade current non-cyclists to consider, trial and begin cycling in London but what they should really do is try to get the cars off the road, left turns at the red lights (as they do in US for cars), proper cycle lanes and so on! No doubt impossible and only wishful thinking!

 See more adverts like this at Transport for London.

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waxing lyricalI wanted to wax lyrical about cycling but others have done it better than me so I found these quotes from www.quotegarden.com/bicycling.html.  There are lots more on this website but here are my favourites.

I agree this one:

[T]he bicycle will accomplish more for women’s sensible dress than all the reform movements that have ever been waged.  ~Author Unknown, from Demerarest’s Family Magazine, 1895

I especially like this one:

The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community.  ~Ann Strong

I found this to be true:

Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.  ~James E. Starrs 

My favourite:

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.  ~John F. Kennedy

Others I like:

The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man.  Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish.  Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.  ~Iris Murdoch, The Red and the Green

When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments.  Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man.  And (unlike subsequent inventions for man’s convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became.  Here, for once, was a product of man’s brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others.  Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle.  ~Elizabeth West, Hovel in the Hills

What’s your favourite and why?  Are there any other bicycle quotes around?

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Broken Wrist!

broken

I’ve broken my wrist whilst trying to get off my bike!! cried D.  So I rushed round to find out what had happened and we had a chat about being newbies.

 

So this post is dedicated to D who I met at training and recently became the proud owner of a beautiful Saracen 2009 bike and broke her wrist whilst getting off the bike.

 

D had never learnt to ride as a child and had never been on a bike.  Like myself, it was something that was never considered during childhood.  She only became interested after having a family and watching her two children and husband riding bicycles.  It was then she thought she would like to join in with family rides. 

 

Her husband tried to teach her on her son’s bike, showed her how to hold it, sit on it and so on but it was difficult to learn with a partner who was not as patient as our instructors have proven to be!

 

It was a male friend of hers, whom she had seen cycling around town about a year ago who introduced her to cycling training.  Subsequently she had been going on and off  to training for about a year before I started, mainly stopping in the winter months. 

 

D became very passionate about cycling as the training went on and when she met me.  She then began to think about cycling for herself, cycling to work and to have fun, something for herself.  She really enjoys it.  Something for the whole family. She’s also now at the stage of having a personal cycling trainer.  She’s been out with him three times and finds it very useful.

 

When I got my bike D became more confident and enthuiastic realising that it was possible.  With supportive instructors and family she did just that.  Buy a bike. Although, even in the shop, she was worried that it was too big for her, everyone said she would get used to it.   It now commits me to actually going out on my bike.  I felt excited and nervous at the same time. The first time I went out I rode around the block, I ride on the pavement as well because it’s scary. There’s a lot of traffic round here. I went out at least twice a week. It’s not worth taking the risk in traffic so I go on the pavement if I feel at risk.  

  

As D passed Level 2 she gained more confidence and really began to believe that she could go out on the road.  I can do this!   The instructors were so patient.  The training is excellent. The trainers are really good and prepare you for the road.

 

However on Sunday, they all went out for a family day to Greenwich Park and she took her bike.  After cycling around the park whilst the family played football it was time to go.  She cycled over to her family and whilst getting off the bike, horse style, her leg got tangled in the back bit and she fell on her hands on the grass and became entangled with the bike.  She felt something go in her wrist.  D screamed in agony but her husband thought she was laughing.  Eventually she was taken to the hospital, put in a cast and has six weeks off work plus physio and is now unable to drive, cycle or do any of the everyday normal things.

 

It hasn’t put me off.  I’m just taken aback a bit.  I’m now more wary and careful.  It’s such a shame because I was really looking forward to becoming a confident cyclist by the end of the summer.  But it hasn’t put me off.  I haven’t been knocked off (we talked about the terrible incident where a  woman cyclist was killed).  I was so excited that maybe I wasn’t concentrating and fractured my arm!

We discussed the fact that her bike might be too big for her as she is quite small.  It’s actually bigger than my bike and I’m taller than she is. 

 

Well, there’s always next summer!  I hope you get better soon and I’m so sorry about your accident.   

 

 

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Cyclist Killed!

killedI was shocked to learn of a local woman cyclist killed in a hit and run.   It was a lorry that did not stop!

 

A white bike was placed at the scene, now a memorial at this particularly nasty awful junction.    It’s laden with flowers and photos.  The woman, now identified as 30 yr old Adrianna Skrzypiec, was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident.  Police are looking for the lorry!  Can you believe that she had only been cycling for six months.  How absolutely dreadful.  It’s enough to put newbies like me off.  The traffic around here is terrible.  The fact that there’s a green cycle lane just where the incident happened did not save her.

 

I am so sad about this, but not at all surprised. I have driven through that route as well as cycled through it with the our instructors. It is very very scary. I do try to avoid all the dual carriageways and these types of multi junctions to the displeasure of my instructors who insist we should but I don’t think they really understand how difficult it is to attempt junctions like this on your own.

 

My thoughts are with Adrianna’s family and friends.

You risked my life

Broken Wrist

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