Motor bicycle

So Amy’s got a new job, and due to various health reasons she’s getting an electric bike so she can get to work. The bike has a 15 mile range from one charge, work is two miles away.

Since the bike is electric, it’s just a bike – no road tax or MOT etc needed.

But what’d happen if we strapped a petrol generator to it to charge the battery while it’s moving? Would it still be an electric vehicle, or would it be a petrol powered one?

Since if it remains an electric vehicle, I’m going to remove the engine from my car, replace it with electric motors, fill my boot with batteries and use the petrol engine to charge the batteries while the car is running.

… it’s how a lot of trains work, so it’s not as daft as it sounds.

Local cycle loop

One of the things I’ve been looking for since getting my bike is a straight forward loop I can do. Something straight forward that doesn’t involve tricky navigation, getting covered in mud or having to get off and carry my bike over obstacles. Just a nice circular route I can do after work for half an hour or so.

This four mile ride should do it quite nicely. I can optionally extend it by going around the back of the golf course and past the hospital, if I want a longer ride.

Here is a link to the KMZ file: Local Loop 1

And if you want to look at it on Google Maps, click this link.

Created by My Tracks on Android.

Total Distance: 6.39 km (4.0 mi)
Total Time: 22:58
Moving Time: 21:33
Average Speed: 16.75 km/h (10.4 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 17.80 km/h (11.1 mi/h)
Max Speed: 36.00 km/h (22.4 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 70 m (230 ft)
Max Elevation: 119 m (391 ft)
Elevation Gain: 162 m (533 ft)
Max Grade: 6 %
Min Grade: -10 %

The new Glen Coe mountain route

You take the high road, and I'll take the low road

I’ve found other Google Maps mistakes before, but this one is quite fun. Now, while I’m aware Scotland contains many steep mountain passes, that are only just passable in a car I don’t quite think this is one of them.

According to this image, the A82 splits in two – you can either take the normal route through the valley, or strike off purposefully onto the Aonach Eagach ridge… in your car.

Maybe not.

Alport Castles

Alport Castles
Alport Castles

Today me and my dad went for a walk in the Peak District, to a part we’ve never been to before. At the bottom of the Snake Pass is Ladybower Reservoir and the Derwent Valley. On the moorlands at the top is a place called Alport Castles, a large craggy area that looks like a quarry but is actually a natural landslip.

The walking was fairly easy (which is good, it’s been a while since I’ve been out walking) and once onto the moorland quite flat and straight forward. Once at Alport Castles we walked back towards the reservoir and down to the road where, conveniently a bus turned up and saved us a long four mile trek.

Bike Advice Needed: Lights

It’s getting dark earlier now, and there are many twisty paths where I live. The sort of place you often see on the 6 o’clock news cordoned off by police tape and a little white tent nearby. According to our local council they’re called “nature trails” (I think the locals read that as “rubbish dumps”, but there you go) and they’re quite good fun to ride along.

I need a set of lights for the front of my bike that’ll light the surrounding area up well enough to not be decapitated by low branches, fall down holes, or cycle into some waiting miscreant. I also don’t have masses of money to spend, but don’t want to buy rubbish that’ll break down.

Advice please, O wise Internet…

Exploring my local area by bike

I’ve been out on my bike once again exploring the local area. Whereas most people tend to cycle down the river’s edge, looking at the rubbish-strewn dark trails that lead off into the reclaimed wilderness but continuing, I think “that looks an interesting way” and set off down it. Sometimes it turns into a nice little loop full of local interest, other times it turns into a bit of a crap ride.

Today was the second type of trail. It looked quite promising from Google Maps’ satellite view. My aim was to cycle into town but by going down the river. I now know this is not possible, there’s a railway in the way. I did find where the locals dump their rubbish and old fridges though.

For the morbidly curious, here’s the Google Maps link and you can download the KMZ file Deadend trail.

My Google Earth is now collecting a healthy pattern of red tracks running over the reclaimed land either side of the river. Looking at the area now, you’d never think there used to be a gravel quarry and coal mine. I think I’ll now try and cycle North up the river itself, rather than the canal part. Ultimately I’d like to cycle along the Pennine Trail to Leeds and then the other way to wherever it goes.

I took my previously mentioned Asahi Pentax film camera with me. Hopefully the pictures will come out and look good. I’ve almost stopped looking at the back for a preview image 😉

Here’s the stats for today’s ride

Created by My Tracks on Android.

Total Distance: 7.52 km (4.7 mi)
Total Time: 48:27
Moving Time: 33:32
Average Speed: 9.35 km/h (5.8 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 13.46 km/h (8.4 mi/h)
Max Speed: 27.90 km/h (17.3 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 68 m (222 ft)
Max Elevation: 84 m (274 ft)
Elevation Gain: 135 m (444 ft)
Max Grade: 3 %
Min Grade: -7 %
Recorded: Wed Sep 23 16:56:52 GMT+01:00 2009

Using a T-Mobile G1 with My Tracks is really really good.

Day out at Cleggy

Cleethorpes beach
Cleethorpes beach

Yesterday was a nice sunny day, so having not much to do me and Amy went once again to Cleethorpes to do what the English do at the seaside – wander up and down the beach complaining about the bikes, chavs and the price of the fish and chips.

While shovelling small change into the amusements we found a Guitar Hero Arcade machine which managed to extract £2 from my pocket in return for a two player game of Rage Against The Machine’s Bulls on Parade. I think there’s an XBox 360 or PC inside the cabinet.

More photos can be found on my photos website.

Through the nettles and around the rubbish dump

Today’s random bike ride took me around the picturesque Welbeck Landfill, following the overgrown paths along the river. While not the most visually pleasant of rides, it has enough excitement in the form of giant holes in the path and lots and lots of nettles to keep the mind focussed. Popping out in the expensive looking hamlet of Kirkthorpe is always a surprise. I might make this a regular ride, it’s just under 4 miles and takes around half an hour to do. Could be fun in the dark.

Here’s the KML file of the trip: Around the rubbish dump

Alternately, click this to see the Google Maps version.

Here’s some stats

Created by My Tracks on Android.

Total Distance: 6.34 km (3.9 mi)
Total Time: 31:22
Moving Time: 28:31
Average Speed: 12.18 km/h (7.6 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 13.33 km/h (8.3 mi/h)
Max Speed: 29.70 km/h (18.5 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 66 m (215 ft)
Max Elevation: 85 m (278 ft)
Elevation Gain: 134 m (439 ft)
Max Grade: 5 %
Min Grade: -4 %
Recorded: Tue Sep 08 18:30:36 GMT+01:00 2009

Twilight random cycle

This area is pretty good for cycling; it used to all be coal mines and industrial mess, then they flattened it all and made a crazy mix of nature reserve, waste land and landfill out of it. Through this are threaded many “nature walks” and paths for people to walk down, get mugged on and ride their illegal motorbikes across. There’s so many that all I have to do is pick a path, go down it, and then continue whatever way looks the most interesting. Someone’s even thought to put up information boards every so often to point out interesting things in an attempt at making the place look nice. This isn’t necessary because the simple fact I can go half a mile out of a city centre and be amongst fields and trees is nice enough.

Tonight I went out for a quick ride before it got dark and went the opposite way to the other day’s ride. Going South down the river is mostly flat concrete until the remains of the old coal mines begin, then it turns into an interesting thickly wooded area and gravel tracks. It was also at this point when I noticed the light had disappeared. Cycling in the dark down a six foot wide dirt track you’ve never been down before is great fun, and very surprising when you pop out in a tiny village full of posh cars and houses. Feeling a bit out of place and slightly concerned about the rapidly failing light I turned around and followed my track all the way back.

After looking at the log on Google Earth, I think I’ve found a long circular route that goes around the rubbish dump (yep, some people have mountains to cycle around, others have beaches and nice wooded dales. Up here we have filled in coal mines and rubbish dumps) that I might try next time. Google Earth doesn’t say anything about the access rights to these paths, but I’m sure it’ll be OK. Last time I discovered a “private, keep out” sign I was approaching it from the wrong side anyway.

I do need a torch though.

Grab the KML file here – To Kirkthorpe

A short afternoon’s cycling

I bought a new bike at the weekend, and today was my first chance to ride it. It’s been a while since I last did any cycling I chose a fairly flat and easy route along the Aire & Calder Navigation up to Altofts Lock (click to download KML file). Tracking my route was done with my G1 phone and the excellent My Tracks app from Google. I did try to upload the KML file directly to Google Maps, but it failed so instead I imported it into Google Earth, made a few edits, added a photo and put that up instead.

The route took an hour and was mostly along pleasant river towpaths or tarmac meaning I could keep up a good speed, while having an interesting mix of farmland, overgrown “natural” areas and the remains of the heavy coal mining industry that used to be in this area.

I am pleased with my bike, it is comfortable to ride and the gearing feels efficient – on the flat in the bike’s higest gear I can maintain a steady pace without feeling too much strain on my legs, and in lower gears I can set off quickly without losing grip. My Android phone also performed very well, accurately recording my route, even through the heavily wooded areas with the phone being in my pocket.

Here’s some stats from the journey

Total Distance: 13.13 km (8.2 mi)
Total Time: 56:53
Moving Time: 50:15
Average Speed: 13.87 km/h (8.6 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 15.68 km/h (9.7 mi/h)
Max Speed: 34.20 km/h (21.3 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 58 m (190 ft)
Max Elevation: 100 m (328 ft)
Elevation Gain: 157 m (516 ft)
Max Grade: 3 %
Min Grade: -5 %
Recorded: Wed Aug 12 14:47:14 GMT+01:00 2009
Activity type: cycling

Here is the link to the Google Maps version.