helen-louise (baratron) wrote,

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more cycling adventures

I would just like to say that Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub gears SUCK.

1st gear is ok. 3rd gear is ok. 2nd gear is bloody awful. It has a shocking tendency to slip so I end up getting my knee jerked uncomfortably. If I try to carry on cycling without changing down to 1st and back up, it'll disengage completely and I end up in "1/2" gear - a lovely state whereby the trike is nearly freewheeling, except I am sort-of contributing something to the movement - it's just that it takes almost a full rotation of the pedals for it to happen. I would be profoundly worried, except Richard says his sister's bike when she was a kid had the same type of gears (identical-looking box), and they did the same thing. So it's clearly "just" a design flaw. Nonetheless, it's damn annoying.

If/when I upgrade to a Tri-1, it has seven speed indexed derailleur gears, which is apparently the same system as Richard's mountain bike only with less options (his has 21). So hopefully they will actually work properly. Also, the fact it'll be a new trike custom-built to my size means that there should be less annoyances in general. Still, GRRRR.

Today featured 9 miles, including going to Hampton Court & back. Cycle paths round here vary tremendously. Some are dedicated lanes at the side of the road, some are dedicated lanes on the pavement, some are shared-use pavements with pedestrians, and some are rickety bumpy gravel tracks. Also, some signed cycle routes are kinda vapourware, in that there are signposts to tell you it's a cycle route and it's marked in blue on the cycling map, but it looks just like a normal road with nothing separating you from the traffic. The road we live in is part of London Cycle Route 3, and it features parked cars on both sides of the road and speed bumps. Lovely.

I do not like the 4 at all, or at least the Kingston parts of it (haven't been into Richmond yet) - it's a lovely route along the side of the Thames that stretches from Hampton Court Palace up to Ham. But it is a gravel track extremely close to the river, unlit, and at a steep angle - something like a 40 degree camber. Then later on after it's left the river there's a terrifying bit where you go straight across a main road and onto a very narrow shared-use pavement, with crossways barriers that make an uncertain cyclist have to dismount. This continues until it wobbles off onto a very narrow old road that can't be widened because of ancient buildings, that's also shared with buses. Eeek. Past Ham, it's not so bad - it goes down a small country lane (yes, Ham is a village situated between the two major towns Kingston and Richmond - London is full of oddities like that) that's filled with the sort of houses people build in The Sims - i.e. enormous six and seven bedroom properties, at least 200 years old, with four garages each and stables and actual horses & stuff. Eventually it goes into Richmond Park, except I haven't been there yet because the Park gates close at sunset.

In contrast, the apparently unnumbered cycle route along the A308 (Hampton Court Road) is wide and flat, with good visibility for passing cars. There's only one ropey bit and that's at the end where the cycle route ends abruptly, leaving you to either dismount and cross the road on foot, or wobble around the roundabout. At least there's a zebra crossing, so it's not actually too hairy. I don't know why that one doesn't have a number, perhaps because it ends abruptly.

We have also done bits of the 32, 33, 74 & 75. The 33 is probably the hairiest of all, because it is the Richmond Road, which is one of the main roads going into Kingston, with regular lorry and bus traffic. It also has excessively narrow bits round the Dysarts (sort of a subset of Ham) where there are really really ancient houses that can't be moved - Tudor or older - and double-decker buses which are trying to get round them as well. Erm, yeah. If I feel brave after my cycling lesson on Friday, we will cycle to Surbiton on Saturday, which'll involve more of the 33. We need to go there anyway, to the Wooden Floor Shop, so we might as well combine it with some exercise. Not sure what cycle parking is like there, but we shall see. It's not really far to Surbiton, only a couple of miles, but although there are many buses they are also inconveniently spaced in time, and expensive if I don't already have a bus pass. So it'd be useful to have another way of getting there.
Tags: tricycles

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