Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Transporting Delicate Plants by Bike

Flowers by Bike
Every now and again I am asked which everyday items I find the trickiest to carry by bike. The expectation is for it to be something fragile, like eggs or glassware. But those I've actually found pretty manageable. Eggs do just fine in their cartons. Glassware and picture frames can be wrapped in crumpled paper or bubblewrap. Honestly, I have yet to break an egg or a wine glass on a two wheeled commute, and I'm not even especially careful. But what I do find tricky to transport by bike is plants - in particular, small potted plants with delicate stems and flowers. So easy they are to bruise and snap, that merely placing them at the bottom of a pannier or basket can result in a sad mangled mess by the end of a bumpy ride home. But you can't exactly wrap them in bubblewrap either! So for these dainty, fragrant beauties, I've come up with a system: 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Knowing When to Let Go: Are Old Bikes Always Worth Rescuing?

Bikes of Westport
Sometimes I think I'm a bad influence. Like, when a friend phones last week, excited by her two-wheeled vintage find. "You'll appreciate this - I think it's a mixte!" She texts over a picture. 

"What do you think?"

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dry Cleaning Your Wool… with Fresh Air

Airing Out Wool
One of the much-touted attractions of wool clothing - and the basis on which it is recommended to cyclists - is its supposed odor resistant properties. In fact, it is not uncommon for proponents of the stuff to brag about how infrequently they wash their clothing (once a month! once a year! never!!!) As a wool enthusiast myself I am often asked about my take on this claim. Can wool clothing really be worn endlessly without washing? or - as one friend recently put it - "are woolsters just grungy?..." 

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Summer Lull

After several years of roadcycling, you start to see patterns: strengths and weaknesses, highs and lows, energy surges and dips - the mysterious ebb and flow of the drive and desire to be on a bike. One thing I've noticed in myself - though it took me some time to acknowledge - is the summer lull.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Ghost Bike of Magilligan

Magilligan Ghost Bike
The shortcut to the beach is hidden along the main road, just before the big bend leading into Benone. Sun-drenched and shelterless, this stretch of road is like a child's drawing of a sunny day: blue skies, white clouds, yellow fields; the colours oversaturated; the edges unnaturally crisp. Veering away from all this, the shortcut plunges into leafy shade as it winds through parcels of forest all the way to the strand. The tiny lane is easy to miss if you don't know where to look. But if you do know, it is unmissable: Just watch for the handpainted stark white bicycle, chained to the caravan park fence.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mapping Enchantment

Northern Ireland Ordnance Survey Maps
A couple of months ago I decided it would be nice to get ahold of some Ordnance Survey maps, and I set out on a quest to purchase them. Like most things here, this was not without its share of adventure. At the local book shop the salesman looked at me like I had two heads. "Ach no," he said, "you're best to get them online." So I tried online, and sure enough there's a special government website that sells them and it all seemed straightforward enough …until their payment system deemed my debit card suspicious and then not only could I not order the maps, but a fraud alert was activated and I could not use my bank card for days.