Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How to get stage times for the Shellac ATP onto your smartphone calendar / agenda

Some lovely person (possibly @capt_cornflake) has created a Google Calendar with all the Shellac curated ATP Nightmare Before Christmas stage times on it, here's how to get the times onto the calendar on your Android phone:
  1. Go to
  2. Click the cheerfully coloured +Google Calendar logo on the bottom right of your screen
  3. Say yes, fine, go for it buddy (or whatever confirmation is asked for)
  4. On your phone go to your calendar, go to settings then press 'calendars' and make sure there is a tick next to the 'ATP curated by Shellac' calendar.
  5. Wait a few moments while your phone syncs all the gorgeous data for this new calendar
  6. Sit in your chalet staring at your phone agonising over which bands to see
If you've got an iPhone the instructions are probably similar, but the process probably looks prettier.

This calendar has been put together very nicely indeed so it's well worth going through the steps above to get the info onto your phone.

P.S if you like bands like Mono or like the sound of 'post rock film noir' you might like my band These Are End Times

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fitting mudguards to a single speed bike

Single speed bikes are great for commuting to work, great for hill climbing and town riding.  Since building my single speed bike I have found I use it for all cycling barring long rides or rides when I know other cyclists will have gears.  My singlespeed cycle isn't slow either, at the time of writing I have 30 KOMs on Strava, the majority of which I have 'won' on my single speed bike.

My single speed bike was built using a frame I bought off ebay for fifty quid thinking it has carbon forks (which it doesn't) and a front crank and wheels that were being discarded by a friend who rides a fixie.  The bike was built by the very talented and always reasonable Kevin (Ipswich Bicycle Doctor).  The other bits and bobs that make up a bike came from the epic used parts stock that Kevin curates.

You'll notice my bike looks, well, a bit scrappy...  that's deliberate!  This bike is by no means valuable (in monetary terms anyway) but I still don't want it nicked, so a bit of gaffa tape here, a bit of electrical tape there and with any luck my steed will look less desirable to 'erberts wot nick stuff.  Possibly not I know, but I'm a lot more willing to leave this bike locked up in town than I am my nice geared road bike.

How to fit mudguards on a single speed bike.

These instructions will of course also work with fixies, geared road bikes (racers) and pretty much any other bike on earth!

The bike that my single speed once was wasn't really designed to take mudguards, but I got fed up of arriving at work looking like I'd slid down a dog dirt coated bannister rail so I set about asking the friendly folk over at CycleChat how I could go about fitting mudguards to a bike that wasn't designed to take them.  As is often the case at CycleChat a quick search of the forum revealed that someone else had asked the same question a while back and there was pages of useful information containing the answer I needed.

All answers pointed to buying a Crud Roadracer MK2 mudguard set.  Other mudguard sets for bikes with little or no clearance for mudguards are available, but the Crud Roadracer MK2 came recommended and are cheap!  In my case the cost was even lower because a friend had a spare set following a recent upgrade.  I've done pretty well out of these sort of opportunities, perhaps I'm a cycling Womble?

So sorry to disappoint but there are no list of instructions included with this blog post; just buy some Crud Roadracer mudguards and follow the fitting instructions!  Do be careful when fitting these mudguards though; when they're not made of the thickest plastic in the world so can snap if you're not careful, which is why in the photos below you might notice that there's a small plastic rivet holding the two pieces of my rear guard in place.

Before - wet bum in rain guaranteed

After - no more turning up at work feeling like I've had a bum wee
Just be careful you don't snap these mudguards when fitting them , or you'll have to  find a way of fixing them back together like I have with this plastic rivet

Monday, November 26, 2012

Suffolking windy bike ride

Today I went on an bike ride with @simonJKH and a trumpet playing fixie wrangling buddy friend called either Trumpet or Mark depending on what I remember to call him. Sadly some other attendees were unable to be in attendance due to lurgy or other totally reasonable excuses.

We met at the Giles the cartoonist statue in Ipswich town centre (or as Trumpet calls it 'that fat old woman') at the very lazy time of 8am, our rides tend to start much earlier due to attendees wishing to get home for lunch, shopping, posting on CycleChat or reluctant involvement in half-arsed DIY projects that end in matrimonial distemper.

To say the wind was 'up' would be like downplaying the Suffolk storms of '87 that turned most forests into heaths as a minor inconvenience to tree huggers; the Met Office declared that by 9am we had north easterlies of 29mph with north easterly gusts of up to 58mph.

I introduced Trumpet and Simon to each other and Simon expressed an interest in Trumpet's fixie.

We set off in a North Easterly direction out of town bipping along at a fair old rate until I encountered an unfortunate episode in which the air in my rear tyre decided to rejoin its kin outside the butyl confines of said tyre. I fitted a new inner tube and exiled the old one to inner tube Stalag - the forecourt garbage can of the BP garage on Spring Road in Ipswich. A few grunts into filling the new rubber Tarmac contact comrade with my never-used-before handpump the gauge on the pump (possibly encouraged by the sedition of my 'holey' inner tube) made a break for freedom, leaving behind a hole as useful as a hole in a dunkie.

I tskked and pschaared and made a noise like a leaky gas pipe and explained the reason for my imusucal noises to Trumpet and Simon - I have been considering buying a Co2 tyre inflater for months but hadn't quite gotten around to reaching hand in pocket and forking out the fiscal investment. Simon proved for the first and not last time today that he's a good chap to have about when he produced a Co2 canister with a subtle flourish and very kindly offered it to me with the minor caveat that he was yet to use it in anger on the front line of the battle between man and the puncture fairy. After an experimental prod of the device in which I nearly cryogenically preserved Trumpet's left arm I had a full tyre and another thing to add to my cyclists' shopping list. We set off again.

Through Kesgrave we had such a tailwind that we barely needed to pedal, well apart from Trumpet because he has a fixie. If you've ever visited Kesgrave you'll agree that the best possible way to experience it is with your head down focussing on the exit road. One of the highlights of any journey through Kesgrave is the long straight stretch at its exit that allows you to get a good lick of speed up on your way out.

Down through Old Martlesham the tailwind stayed kind, and through Woodbridge it became downright benevolent as I managed to take KOM on a Strava segment that the Tour of Britain ambled through earlier in the year, an event that sent many of my Strava rankings into freefall.

After Woodbridge we turned right and went on the small winding lanes through Lower Ufford. I had cycled this part of the route late at night a few days earlier when testing whether it was possible to use a cheap torch as a cycle light. So naturally until today I hadn't seen the condition of these lanes at all, and the 10cm deep of mud 'n' crud liberally pasted in the centre third of the road threw some considerable light on why I had arrived at my destination a few nights previous looking like I'd had an altercation with a referee at a mud wrestling club, and then not had the money to pay my bar tab and had to spend the night clearing out the mud pits. Simon appeared to appreciate the conditions, at least I assume that's what he meant by his comment about it being nice to experience a bit of cyclocross on today's jaunt.

Through Wickham Market (where I spent my formative years) we took a left turn and made for the ancient castle augmented town of Framlingham. We all knew that the tailwind treats would come to an end at some point and we expected this change of direction to be that turning of the wind tides. We were wrong; the tailwinds carried on for at least another 237 metres, which might sound like a short distance to you but on looking back once we had battled through annihilating headwinds by the time we reached Framlimgham 237 metres seemed like an epic 237 metes of near-nirvana.

Once at Framlingham Trumpet and I both touched the front door of the castle as some sort of half way point ritual that neither of us have ever done before, and will most likely never do again. Such is the transience of modern life.

Trumpet asked if were were going into the castle, I said no, and not only because the admission fee was more than the cost of a Co2 tyre inflator but also because I went to High School in Framlingham and thanks to the recessions on during my school years the annual school trip each year was a mirthless march to the castle. We did go to Pleasurewood hills theme park one year but there was no return visit; the rumour at the time was that we were no longer welcome because one of our number headbutted the mascot, a dead-eyed bearsuit number that smelt of stale urine and Rothmans that went by the name of Woody Bear. Anyway, I wander from the tale...

After a stock up of jelly babies we headed back to Wickham Market through Easton, and thanks to an even stronger headwind the experience was more like head butting than heading.

It might be worth mentioning at this point that while Simon and I cycle several times a week just to try and retain the ability to perambulate without popping off our mortal coils (actually that's just me) Trumpet has ridden his bike about three times since the Dunwich Dynamo, nearly six months ago. So when I now tell you that Trumpet was seriously suffering by this point in our adventure then you'll have some sympathy for his plight, although not too much as he is young, accidentally fit and skinny as a vegan on a hog roast holiday. I guess having no gears or freewheel didn't help the poor sod's cause either.

By the time we were forcing our way back to Ippo along the NEVER easy Clopton road the wind was pretty much blowing us to a standstill. I have never used the little front cog on my bike but if I hadn't used it today I would have had my first clipless moment. Even with the small cog I considered using my teeth to try and steady my handlebars. Both trumpet and I got blown onto the verge at least twice, although kudos to Trumpet for riding the metre high verge like he meant to; pure class.

By pure chance we saw a big van being driven by the lass who plays violin in the band that trumpet and I play in, we were so pleased and occupied by waving that Trumpet only realised afterwards that he could have begged her for a lift home.

We cut short the ride and decided to head home as quickly as possible, by which I mean Trumpet and I wussed out, Simon just goes and goes; no complaining, no fuss, just one man and his very pretty Triban 3. This is the second time I've ridden with Simon, the first time was remarkably genital-shrinkingly cold and not a murmur from the fella, just feet spinning, hill mounting, cadence killing cycling. He's also good at steering clear of the childlike arsing around that Trumpet and I get up to. Coming into Tuddenham Trumpet got cramp and I tried to get all Peleton about it and put my hand on his back to give him a shove, resulting in both of us wobbling like a jelly on wheels being shoved through a freak show.

There is a huge hill as you leave Tuddenham, Simon and I waited at the top for Trumpet. As we watched him reaching the top (running with his bike!?!!!?) Simon turned to me and informed me that he has changed his mind about wanting a fixie.

We made it home and parted ways in that way that always feels lacking in closure after a brutal ride, and I'm sticking with rule 9 - 'If you ride in bad weather you are badass'.

I asked my wife if we could call by the BP garage when we went shopping later in the day, I told her that I wanted to retrieve my discarded inner tube - I had been hasty, I had regrets, me and the tube had had time apart to figure out how we felt, and I wanted the tube back, I wanted to patch things up, start again... My wife pointed out that we were heading entirely the wrong direction.

I have now spent £30 on two new inner tubes, two co2 presta adapters and six co2 tubes.

Click here to view the route we took...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Diagram showing every ride I've done this year (so far!)

I'll admit right away that this blog post is most likely only really of interest to me, but hey, if bloggers pandered to their audience the world would be a pretty dull place!

So far this year I have cycled 2,536 miles* and being a total stat-geek and a self-confessed cartographile I was giddy with glee when I found a way to display all my bike rides on one map.  I've left a few bike rides I did while away from home off these maps as they caused the map to zoom out a bit far.

I live in Ipswich, so naturally my rides are all very Ippo-centric.  I grew up in Wickham Market, maybe that's why I tend to gravitate towards Wickham Market on my rides?
I have included this map because it shows my coverage of local rides in a bit more detail.
This is my favourite map; I'm all over the roads of Ipswich like a rash!  Maybe next year my target should be to ride every road in Ipswich?

*Tracked by a combination of my Holux GPS and Endomondo / Strava on a smartphone.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Easiest way to backup your documents

Work faster autofocus!
Picture is unrelated
If I wrote the word backup in mirror-image all over your face so that you saw the word 'backup' every time you passed a reflective surface I still wouldn't consider that a strong enough way of making you appreciate the importance of backing up your documents.

The importance of backups was first made clear to me waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back when I started working in IT - I nuked a hard drive in a computer I was repairing, which turned out to be the wrong hard drive to nuke.  It transpired that the customer hadn't backed up any of his documents and thanks to me he had lost fifteen years worth of work.  My boss at the time explained this to me via the medium of his hands around my throat, and he was squeezing just a little bit too hard...  At the time I was devastated, but since that day I have had fifteen years to build up cynical defences to accusations relating to customers' complaints about things that have their root cause in their own 'keyboard to seat interface error'.  In short the customer should have backed up, and then backed up again, and then done another couple of back ups to be on the safe side.

Back when I was in the position to idly destroy fifteen years of someone's professional life getting ones backups off-site was an expensive business, but now it is not.  When I started writing professionally (which admittedly might inspire a 'HA!' from any reader of this blog who is familiar with my shoddy prose) I gave some careful thought to how I could backup up my masterpieces with maximum resilience given minimal effort, and here's the plan I came up with:

Backing up using Email, Google Docs, friends and Dropbox

  1. Each time you finish a chapter, quit for the day, go to have a poo or get distracted by the cat save your work (if you're using Google Docs / Google Drive then you can ignore this point, your work is saved with almost every keystroke).  As a side note I am NOT a fan of auto-save.
  2. Write an email to yourself and copy in a willing friend, attach a copy of your work to said email (if you're using Google Docs you'll have to download a copy first).  Write the title of your masterpiece in the subject line followed by the date and time.  So a novel called 'Writing comedy is like strangling your own humour' would have the subject line 'Writing comedy is like strangling your own humour - 06/11/12 - 9.10pm'.  To be honest adding the date and time doesn't make a huge difference because all emails are timestamped as a matter of course, but I find it useful.  This takes seconds but saves meaty tears should something go wrong.
  3. At the end of the day upload your document to Google Docs, if you're really clever then you could use the marvellous 'revisions' facility in Google Docs.  If you created your masterpiece in Google Docs then you can skip this step and sit back with a smug smile, safe in the knowledge that you are a clever peanut.
  4. Get a Dropbox account and also upload your file / document to Dropbox.  Click this link to get a Dropbox account for free...
  5. Once every few days save all your work to a usb memory stick, just remember to never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever use a memory stick to store your only version of anything at all ever ever ever (you get the idea).
If you're a lazy sod then just email yourself a copy of your work each day; this really is the only important step here because it gives you the ability to go back to versions of your files created on specific dates and times.

Just before I go I have one more thing to add - BACK UP NOW!