5 PM, Lleida, a city I’ve only heard of the day before. The place my cycling trip was about to start from. I went south, aiming for a camp site in Mequinenza I had previously looked into on-line. I started fairly late in the day and have progressed rather slower than expected, with lots of stops to check position, direction, occasionally going back, trying out a gravel road too difficult for my bike…and at about half past 8 I realised there was no way I would reach Mequinenza before well after nightfall. Another stop to look at the map and I found another camp site some 10 km closer, in the village of Massalcoreig. I turned from the main road onto a side road, than to a smaller and poorly maintained one with a few rabbits and myself the only animal life around. As I progressed I grew more and more uneasy. I was supposedly just a few km from the camp site, but there was absolutely no sign of the camp site at any intersection and it was almost night. I finally entered Massalcoreig and as I reached the point of the supposed camp site just outside of the village, it was completely dark. I was in a forest, swarmed by a million mosquitoes and as I pointed my light to the left, the only thing I could see was a large gate with a single sign – camping prohibited. And as if that wasn’t enough, (more…)
Posts tagged ‘cycling’
I’m back. Actually, I’m writing this on the day I was supposed to come back. I’ve been back for over a week and as “real life” gushes back in, I’d like to round off this trip of mine. (more…)
Getting going is always a pain. You stumble out with your bike through the narrow train door, hurry back in for your bags, get out, close the door and before you turn around, the train is already on its way. The air outside is different and your dreamy, hazy mind can’t tell if it’s chilly because you’re sleepy or because it really is cold, what it’s going to be like riding, what kind of terrain awaits you, so you guesstimate how to dress. You hang your bags on the bike, set up the lights, camera and cycling computer, turn left and right for the 3rd time checking where the exit from the station is and push off…for about 20 metres or so, until you realise you haven’t put your hose clamp on. Then again after 50 metres, stopping to eat a few bites of the first of the sandwiches, to have something to go on for the next hour. And so you start again, only to realise shortly that your gloves are too thin, so you stop again to dig out warmer ones, to check once more the order of villages you plan to pass through, count the number of times the road will cross the train tracks before you take the shortcut you had in mind…it occurs to you it’d be a good idea to stop at a petrol station somewhere to check your tire pressure, but it’s no good: it’s pitch black, not even 5 AM, nothing will open for hours, the tyres’ll have to wait. Probably for the best, too: (more…)
In order to be able to communicate better what driving a bicycle in Zagreb is like, I have long been toying with the idea of building a simple bicycle camera stand. Since spending a few months assembling a 3D printer like the Prusa to be able to print out the camera stand seemed just a little bit excessive, I opted for the more down-to-earth, nuts, bolts, scissors and pliers approach.
These were my design goals:
- very cheap parts
- very easy to build
- robust enough to prevent damage to the camera
I focused on these because I wanted to allow others to easily copy the design if they want. Along the same lines, I assumed that a good number of people now have a phone with a usable camera which they would be willing to use. It makes a lot of sense, given that even my 3 year old phone has a 640x480px@30fps camera, a reasonable power supply, more than enough internal storage for footage, is light, small and all that for about 50€ second-hand.
Like any other emerging technology, electric bicycles have their rough edges to iron out. With hub motors, one of the issues that might occur is wheel strength. Namely, my rear wheel came with the standard spokes you find on most bicycles, only shorter because the motor makes the hub wide. In my case, the motor weighs about 6-7kg, so the problem with using such spokes is that the motor gives them a heavy beating and they often snap. Although the motor represents a very small part of total weight (6kg, vs. 110kg bicycle + driver), this weight is directly hung on the spokes and there is very little amortisation. If you’ve ever chopped wood with an axe and the axe gets stuck in the log you’re chopping, you know that if you turn the axe upside down, the sheer mass of the log splits the log when the axe lands. That is (more or less) the effect the electric motor has on the spokes. (more…)
A few days ago, Zagreb’s mayor, Mr. M. Bandic announced very publicly that Zagreb, the 800 000 inhabitant capital of Croatia, was now free of snow and ice after the heavy snowfall last weekend. One only needs healthy eyesight to see how far that really was from the truth. The announcement therefore came as quite a shock – and vulgar provocation and insult – to citizens who were (and still are) struggling, trying to get things done around town, get to work and back home without an unplanned visit to an emergency room. Truth be told, the utter collapse of city transportation that took place 4 days ago has been relieved to a degree: a significant part of the street network supports slowed down car traffic and trains, buses and trams drive mostly (but not fully) according to their normal routes and selected squares have been cleaned for pedestrian traffic.
One things stands out in all the fuss around a city paralysed by snow, in that it doesn’t even get mentioned as an issue by the city administration – namely, cycling lanes. (more…)