It was fun while it lasted

Over the course of the last 14 years I am not sure quite what I have achieved. There have been beneficiaries from my investment although I don’t know who has gained the most. It is probably HMRC. The landlord did OK, as did the local authority, hopefully my staff gained more than just their wages, my suppliers have certainly done really well and, hopefully, my customers have gained from my time and commitment too? As for my family, they have been the biggest losers.

Last-rideSince opening the shop I have managed to contribute a lot to our state: over half a million in VAT, business rates, PAYE and a even tiny bit of personal tax (barely a penny of which has gone to making our roads safer). Small businesses do more than their fair share for the economy.

I have employed some really great people. Many have gone on to do their own thing in the cycle industry; hopefully all the better for spending some time with me. I certainly feel better for knowing them.

I may not have much to show for the 70 hour weeks, sleepless nights, disappointed wife and financial investment but I do hope that I have given some inspiration and motivation as that was my aim in the first place. My vision was always to inspire and motivate and, through my enthusiasm, generate the sales to provide an income. It started well but didn’t quite work out as planned.

I don’t blame the internet, the government nor Brexit for the lack of income but a country close to recession is a problem and living in a county that promotes car use has not helped either.

I was happy to work alongside the internet and encouraged users to visit with their new purchases. However, it is a little frustrating that the biggest online cycle retailer in the world is based in the UK and losses money.  The location is not the problem but that they can turnover £345,000,000 and make a loss of £132,000,000 is bizarre.

We live in a strange world these days and having access to anything and everything on a phone has many benefits but I am not sure that we will all be better off.

Now it’s time to move on. To sleep through the night. To have weekends at home. To put my wife and family first. To laugh. Ride more. Run, walk, kayak, canoe, travel, ski, cook, read….Live . I’m sure the local riding community will get on fine without the shop. I’ll still be around and will be available to repair your bikes and adjust them to fit you perfectly. Watch this space (Facebook)!

Whilst I might not have anything to show for my service to the local cycling community I do take pleasure from the knowledge that I have helped many a rider. I have always believed that that machine with two wheels was more than just a bicycle, it is a passport to a better life, an escape, a stress reliever, a means to healthier body, a bringer of joy. A bike is something special. It is time to ride!

Follow me on Strava.

Posted in Mountain bike rides, Mountain biking, Worthing mountianbiking | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Worthing loves driving

Grove Lodge roundabout

Grove Lodge roundabout

Worthing is a wonderful town in a beautiful county. Or should I say it was. In 2006 James Brathewaite, the head of SEEDA (South East Economic Development Association) addressed most of our borough councillors and prominent local business owners in a packed Pier Pavilion. His opening statement shook the pier to its rusted iron foundations.  “This town is crap!” were his first words followed by “Thirty years ago, when I first moved here, Worthing was the jewel in the crown of West Sussex. But look at it now. What have you done?” He was referring to the town’s passion for living in the past and the detrimental effect that such nostalgia and lack of foresight has had for local business and the community.

At that time Worthing Borough Council presented the “Master Plan” this was a vision for the future and it made Worthing look like a wonderful place to live. It still embraced the car but put people, and businesses came first. The town plan was people friendly with obvious benefits for pedestrians and cyclists. Despite a cost of hundreds of thousands of our money the report appears to have been shelved.

One reason why the report may have been ignored is that, unlike many other towns, we have not had the need to restructure to accommodate excessive traffic chaos. In fact, despite changes around the rest of the country, Worthing and West Sussex residents have been able to enjoy almost total freedom to drive. Some will moan about delays but, on the whole, in West Sussex the delays are not long enough to warrant any fundamental changes. There has been no move to the trains, buses, bicycles nor has the County Council encouraged any social or infrastructure changes to improve road use for those that actually need to drive. We live in a driving utopia. It’s the residents choice and in West Sussex the politicians think that their voters prefer to prioritise the car over any long term changes to our infrastructure. It does seem a bit selfish when you consider the change to an increasingly younger demographic.

This, however, will not go on forever. West Sussex and Worthing are due for a big wakeup call and if there is no plan in place it will struggle to catch up and adapt. We could do with someone of James Braithwaite’s stature to remind the town and county that its transport policies are “crap”.

Just think of the hundreds of millions of pounds that Yorkshire enjoys through cycle tourism. That is easy to measure but there are also the savings to the community when short journeys are walked or cycled plus the benefits to the health service with a more active population. West Sussex is one of the most beautiful counties in the country to cycle through but it also one of the most dangerous. It has one of the highest KSIs (Killed or Seriously Injured) for cyclist statistics for any county in the country. Did you know that Worthing has the same number of KSIs for cyclists as Brighton and yet Brighton has five times the population and a far higher percentage of cyclists.

West Sussex County Council has produced a good Walking and Cycling Strategy (the Government compelled it to). And now Adur and Worthing has produced its own LCWIP (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan). In fact, indications are that the Worthing LCWIP will be the best in the county. The question is: will it go the same way as the towns “Master Plan”.

LCWIP WLet us imagine a future, not too distant, where West Sussex County Council decides that in order to bring the County in to the modern era it would use Worthing as a beacon for change and so allocate enough funds to realise every part of the Borough’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan. Would it make a difference? Would accidents and injuries be reduced? Would young children cycle to school? Would non cyclists take to the bike? Would short journeys now be cycled or walked?

The answer is an absolute NO. Why? Cycling and walking infrastructure would only affect a few roads and very few junctions. Good for commited regular cyclists. However, rest of the town would remain as it was with same West Sussex drivers who cause all those KSIs. The roads would still be the most dangerous in the county. Drivers don’t need to care. Local politicians have never stood up and said that drivers need to be more considerate, more cautious. There are no restrictions on driving and parking near schools. If fact, some local residents still think that speed cameras are there to gain income. Go elsewhere in the country and see how attitudes are different. Go across the channel and you’ll be amazed. No amount of cycling infrastructure will help without a change in driver attitudes.

In Worthing and West Sussex we are still living in the past and, for the time being, no amount of money will change that so for now enjoy the fact that Worthing is for cars and, to reuse and previous quote, “Worthing (and we should include the County too) is crap”.  Enjoy your drive!

If you wish to comment (and you should) you can do so here:

Adur & Worthing LCWIP comments link. Hurry because the public consultation closes 6th January 2020.

To get something done a letter to you Borough or County councillor would be advisable. They can be found here:

Find your West Sussex County Councillor

Find your Worthing Borough Councillor

Find your Adur Borough Councillor

 

 

 

Posted in 20s Plenty or Worthing, A27 traffic scheme, Bad drivers, Cycling in Worthing, Road Traffic Accidents, Safer roads | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

That lovely feeling when you’ve ridden hard.

We had to get back in a hurry. We didn’t say anything. We didn’t need to. The three us had done this many times before. First one takes a pull then the next, never really changing the order. Every once in a while one might show signs of slight weakness or extra strength but we stayed locked on each other’s wheel knowing always that we are stronger together. The mission was to get home on time. I miscalculated the distance and so for an hour we fort a loosing battle. Full tilt all the way home. Whilst it took nearly an hour we were fifteen minutes late but there is still a certain satisfaction to be had from riding at a pace that solo I would struggle to manage even a quarter of an hour let alone one hour. We barely had a word between us entire ride. You need to concentrate when riding like that. It was a shame that the protégé wasn’t with us. It would have been a lesson for the young man. He would have learnt a lot about endurance, working together, staying on a wheel, conserving energy and on the go recovery. Riding wheel to wheel, millimetres between our tyres is awesome. Three bikes suddenly become one. It requires trust and a calm and relaxed mindset. Rock-on!

I say relaxed mindset but when I flick an elbow, I really meant it. I was hanging… Then I’d get that panic in case I couldn’t hold the following wheel. After each turn I was too far gone to do any chasing. If the elastic snapped I was a gonner. Today, none of us stretched the elastic far at all. We stayed together. Our ride consisted of and easy ride out and then the race home so I did the arithmetic. Our ride back was 33km in 56 minutes, that’s an average of 35.4kph or for the old schoolers 22mph.

There were moments this morning when I actually felt like proper bike rider which is surprising as I led from Halnaker only to blow up before the turn. I love my old bike.

I want to mountain bike but when I have a bunch of mates keen to ride like this I just can’t turn them down.

Finally, I shouldn’t be able to ride like this so I have to thank Infinityfitnessjourney for keeping me in shape and strong enough to enjoy the potential of my body. Thanks Charlie. I thank my Mum & Dad too as they gave me the genes.

Posted in Rides, Riding faster | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Whyte Gosford – first ride

Gosford-frontI had to ride the Whyte Gosford as the first person to try it came back disappointed. I wondered why? I decided to ride home with the dog in tow via Mount Carvey. This is a simple enough climb, not too steep, but requires effort to ride at speed.

I started by riding across the green in Breeze mode, eco to you and me. That was much easier than usual. I then hit the cycle path so cut the power. I felt as easy as the grassy section did with pedal assistance. In fact as I approached the climb I was spinning so freely that I couldn’t remember whether I was riding with or without power.

The climb started and I changed down a gear or two but seeing the lumpy entrance to the single track I clicked onto Breeze mode again. The first part of the climb was a dream. I wasn’t going any faster than XC racing pace but it was nice to be flying up there without the effort. The dog was still on the lead. Things were about to get interesting. As the track narrowed I realised that I was going too quick for my relaxed state. At this speed without power I’d be in full on race mindset alert to the potential pit falls caused by the heavy rain. After sliding through one corner, the dog had to go. I undid the lead and continued up this time enjoying the challenge and skill needed to handle the speed. As the track levelled I quickly reached down to cut the power. I was already going fast enough for the rutted and slippery track. It was pouring. I could have carried on without power but as the trail gradually rose I went into Breeze again. If you know the trail you’ll realise that it narrows and after the golf cart crossing. I tried River mode (medium). Whoa! This really needed skill and wearing work clothes and trying to carry a small bag I struggled – too quick! Breeze mode would have been more than enough. On the flat very narrow single track at my turn off I had to cut the power altogether in order to get through the bushes without coming a cropper.

The rest of the ride was down hill all the way. I was so glad that we had set the bike up tubeless just before leaving. I needed all the grip that the soft WTB Sendero 47mm tubeless tyres could give me.

The following morning I rode about 8km around town, the first half without switching on the battery and the last few km without power as the was none left. Whilst it is a lot heavier than my Whyte Friston on the ride around town it did not feel any different other than the extra volume of the tyres.

Conclusion

First, the power switch needs to be more accessible like all the other e-bikes that I have tried. In fact on an e-mountain bike I hardly, if ever, change the power setting. Not so the Gosford, I found cutting the power more important than adding it. I might even unravel some of Whyte’s extra long bar tape to bring it closer to my hand position. You must remember that unlike an e-mountain bike that you never ride without pedal assistance this is just a normal bike that can have power assist when required. In fact the first test that I did on the bike was without battery. It rides just like the Glencoe.

I need another go with my riding brain turned on and not the laid back dog walking mindset of last night.

I spoke to the guy that came back underwhelmed and his issue was that he wanted to ride the fire roads where he lives at way more than the 25km limit that comes on e-bikes in Europe. On the technical stuff, as I found, he was really impressed. He, like me, is fit and so can ride the fire roads over 25kph. However, there are a lot of riders that can’t. The Gosford is perfect for them or for the bike packer who is carrying 20 kilos of gear. Some riders may themselves be carrying 20 kilos of excess baggage too.

The bike is here for you to try. Give us a call. Quest Adventure

Posted in Electric Bikes, Gravel bikes, Whyte BIkes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Worthing’s Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan

You could easily argue that we live in what is probably the worst town in the worst county with regard to cycling, cycling infrastructure and the statistics for killed or seriously injured. Of course, there is always an upside to every problem, or injury, we live in one of the most cars biased locations in the country. There is never any money for cycle safety but always something left in the pot for road improvements. Should West Sussex County Council be applauded or castigated? That depends on whether you are looking to the future or still living in the past.

To be fair on the county, it has produced and good  Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Strategy. The great thing about these documents is that they can be used to fend of any demands for safer transport.  “It’s already covered.” “We have the strategy document.” “Of course, we can’t do anything as there is no money…..”

The county plan can only work if the districts and boroughs want it and have their own plan. Our local borough, Adur & Worthing has been working on its own LCWIP (Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan). The draft is available to view here and you are invited to comment. Once you have read the Draft LCWIP you can leave your feedback here.

LCWIP WI have worked closely with the borough councillors and officers on this project. It is now up to us, the voters, to make sure that this plan is actioned and not shelved like the Pedalling Ahead plan.

There is no reason, other than the lack of political will, that Adur & Worthing could not become an example to the rest of the country in how to manage its transport infrastructure. If implemented the LCWIP will be a big bonus to drivers as well as cyclists and walkers.

Any infrastructure improvements will only encourage people to ride and walk if there is a change in driving habits. Obviously, it would be impossible to have a segregated cycle lane on every road in the town. Our roads are adequate and perfect for children to cycle to school on. The problems we have here in Worthing are the drivers. The new infrastructure should remind car drivers that the roads in the town are to be shared with walkers, cyclist, mobility scooters, wheelchairs, guide dogs, young children, the elderly, pushchairs and prams. Why not ask your local borough or county councillors if children will ever be able to cycle to school in Worthing. If they answer yes, asked them when!

I live in hope……

Find your West Sussex County Councillor

Find your Worthing Borough Councillor

Find your Adur Borough Councillor

Posted in 20s Plenty or Worthing, A27 traffic scheme, Bad drivers, Cycling in Worthing, Safer roads | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Worthing – a driving utopia

Grove Lodge roundabout

Grove Lodge roundabout

Worthing is a wonderful town in a beautiful county. Or should I say it was. In 2006 James Brathewaite, the head of SEEDA (South East Economic Development Association) addressed most of our borough councillors and prominent local business owners in a packed Pier Pavilion. His opening statement shook the pier to its rusted iron foundations.  “This town is crap!” were his first words followed by “Thirty years ago, when I first moved here, Worthing was the jewel in the crown of West Sussex. But look at it now. What have you done?” He was referring to the town’s passion for living in the past and the detrimental effect that such nostalgia has had for local business and the community.

At the time Worthing Borough Council presented the “Master Plan” this was a vision for the future and it made Worthing look like a wonderful place to live. It still embraced the car but put people, and businesses first. The town plan was people friendly with obvious benefits for pedestrians and cyclists. Despite a cost of hundreds of thousands of our money the report appears to have been shelved.

One reason why the report may have been ignored is that, unlike many other towns, we have not had the need to restructure to accommodate excessive traffic chaos. In fact, despite changes around the rest of the country, Worthing and West Sussex residents have been able to enjoy almost total freedom to drive. Some will moan about delays but in our county they are not long enough to warrant any change. There has been no move to the trains, buses, bicycles nor has the County Council encouraged any social or infrastructure changes to improve road use for those that actually need to drive. We live in a driving utopia. It’s the resident’s choice and in West Sussex the politicians think that their voters prefer to prioritise the car over any long term changes to our infrastructure. It does seem a bit selfish when you consider the change to an increasingly younger demographic in the region.

This, however, will not go on forever. West Sussex and Worthing are due for a big wakeup call and if there is no plan in place it will struggle to catch up and adapt. We could do with someone of James Braithwaite’s stature to remind the town and county that its transport policies are crap.

Just think of the hundreds of millions of pounds that Yorkshire enjoys through cycle tourism. That is easy to measure but there are also the savings to the community because of cycle commuting and the benefits to the health service with a more active population. West Sussex is one of the most beautiful counties in the country to cycle through but it also is one of the most dangerous. It has one of the highest KSIs (Killed or Seriously Injured) for cyclist statistics for any county in the country. Did you know that Worthing has the same number of KSIs for cyclists as Brighton and yet Brighton has five times the population and a far higher percentage of cyclists.

West Sussex County Council has produced and excellent Walking and Cycling Strategy (the Government compelled it to). And now Adur and Worthing are one the way to completing its own LCWIP (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan). In fact, indications are that the Worthing LCWIP will be the best in the county. The question is: will it go the same way as the towns “Master Plan”.

Let us imagine a future, not too distant, where West Sussex County Council decides that in order to bring the County in to the modern era it would use Worthing as a beacon for change and so allocate enough funds to realise every part of the Borough’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan. Would it make a difference? Would accidents and injuries be reduced? Would young children cycle to school? Would non cyclists take to the bike? Would short journeys now be cycled or walked?

The answer is an absolute NO. Why? Cycling and walking infrastructure would only affect a few roads and junctions. The rest of the town would remain as it was with same West Sussex drivers who cause all those KSIs. The roads would still be the most dangerous in the county. Drivers don’t care. Local politicians have never stood up and said that drivers need to be more considerate, more cautious. If fact, some local residents still think that speed cameras are there to gain income. Go elsewhere in the country and see how attitudes are different. Go across the channel and you’ll be amazed. No amount of cycling infrastructure will help without a change in driver attitudes.

In Worthing and West Sussex we are still living in the past and, for the time being, no amount of money will change that so for now enjoy the fact that Worthing is for cars and, to reuse and previous quote, “Worthing (and we should include the County) is crap”.  Enjoy your drive!

 

 

Posted in 20s Plenty or Worthing, A27 traffic scheme, Cycling in Worthing, Road Traffic Accidents | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Enthusiasm

What is enthusiasm? Some may see it as being over the top or crazy. For some it is an essential part of living. You may just go through the motions of life and I certainly feel like that a lot of the time. In extreme cases that means ticking the days off, one by one, until the end! Now that is sad but it can happen to any of us overwhelmed by the daily grind. Such drudgery can be put aside if you find something that enthuses you. Really, if you think about your life it should be full of enthusiasm.

Last week I could barely control my enthusiasm. I was getting a new bit for my bike, a handlebar. I had ordered a Scott frameset for a friend and they come with almost  everything, fork, headset, seat post, dropouts, lockout lever and the handle bar. Scott have made two new one piece stem and bars, the Hixon for trail and enduro riding and the Fraser for cross country. Daz’s Spark RC 900 World Cup frameset comes with the Fraser. He is a great rider, not as great as N1NO but nevertheless, a damn good XC racer and like N1NO he wants the Fraser I.C. Limited Edition (-25⁰). That is why I have his unwanted Fraser handle bar.

Sometimes new kit is necessary (you’ve worn something out or broken it), often it is to increase confidence * and sometimes its main purpose is to rekindle your enthusiasm for either the bike or riding it. I didn’t need any of those although I have long felt that an 80mm stem would be 10mm better than my current set up. However, once I saw the new bar I immediately justified its purchase on all counts and my enthusiasm for riding went through the roof.

I couldn’t wait to fit it and ride with it. I sent a message out to the troops: 6:30 am start and it would raining, surprisingly, I had no takers so I would be riding on my own. Such was my enthusiasm and passion that it did not matter. It might have been raining and blowing a gale but it was warm enough for shorts and that made a big difference. I had a great time.

You need enthusiasm and passion if you want to live a good life. A willingness to learn and a desire to better yourself helps too. You don’t want to set limits. Self belief and confidence are as important as regular exercise and a good diet. I have a long term plan to be skiing when I am in my eighties so I need all the help, even if it is self generated, that I can get. So if a new handle bar fires me up and gives me the enthusiasm the ride three hours in the rain then it is worth it.

How was the Syncros Fraser bar?

It looks stunning and that is why I went for it. The effective stem length is 80mm but is actually just 50mm. The sweep and rise of the handle bar is 6mm and 9⁰ sweep the same as the Ritchey WCS bar  that I had before. It comes in at 720mm but I cut it down to 700mm. That may have been a mistake although I have been using 690mm for the last two years. It weighed in at 232g whilst the Ritchey WSC set up was 293g so I have saved 61g!!! Another justification. The bar is noticeably much stiffer than the Ritchey bar which might be fine for a world cup racer but may not necessarily be a benefit for me.  We will have to see how I get on with it.

*One of the most common confidence purchaces

Here is the ride on Strava

What was I riding?

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Bad weather, Mountain bike rides, Scott Spark | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment
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