Friday, 15 October 2010

A transport of delight...

Allow me to indulge in a little off-topic blogging...

Today was my day off, and it is nearing my birthday, so I went to pick this up:

Her name is Millicent, and she is a birthday present from a certain boy who seems to take inordinate pleasure in spoiling me rotten. No complaints here!

Since I was a teenager I have been hankering after a bicycle that is a grown-up version of the big old blue pushbike I had for a few years. I want to be able to sit absolutely upright, I don't use many gears and dislike derailleurs, I want to be able to carry a fair amount, and I don't want to get too muddy or have to wear much in the way of special clothing.

I think I may have found what I've been looking for. Millicent is more sophisticated than the old blue pushbike: she has three gears, which will be a help for hills, and also a front caliper brake to supplement the back-pedal brakes. In the picture above she's only got one pannier on but the rack is quite sturdy and will easily take one on the other side and a top rack as well; I haven't opted for a front basket just yet, but that is also a possibility in future. The model I opted for has battery-operated lights, and I have some extra ones to attach for added visibility. I have my cycle maps and I know that as I ride more, I'll get more confident riding in the traffic and be able to deal with unfamiliar routes and busy roads more safely.

Unfortunately, I'll still need to rely on public transport a fair amount. I like the pannier but there is no way it will take the serpent! Any trailer rack that will would add sufficient length to be a problem in traffic and sufficient width that getting through the keep-the-cars-out barriers would be a real pain. I don't want a longbike (longbike is lonnnnng), Millicent only just fits in the hallway as it is. In any case, bikes offer less padding for the instrument than either walking or being in a car, and that's just not going to work with such a fragile beast. It might be possible with a custom case, or a trailer with some shock absorption.

The horn is a little easier: I have a Marcus Bonna backpack case already, and though it isn't great for wearing for long periods it could be adapted (I've done this before when I had to carry it a lot). It will be a while, though, before I'm confident enough with the bicycle and the traffic to be happy about wearing my horn on my back whilst zooming about London. Give it three or four years, maybe.

Trying to cycle with a piano or a pipe organ? Right out of the question.

I do hope, though, that in a year or two I will be fit enough to manage my commute from Leytonstone to Hendon for teaching. I'm told there's a rather steep hill in the way, which isn't so noticeable on the Tube.

Meanwhile, tomorrow I am traveling to Addington Village via Wanstead with no Central Line (or not the bit of it I need) and a serpent. I don't think it's time to turn in the travelcard yet!


pplfichi said...

Trying to cycle with a piano or a pipe organ? Right out of the question.

Nice image there... *g*

Minnie said...

Millicent is definitely a transport of delight (& I don't suppose it would be easy carrying a serpent anywhere, whatever the mode of transport ...). She reminds me of Josephine (named in honour of Ms Barstow), who carried me around London in the days when I was a London commuter desperately saving for a home of my own.
Long may you enjoy your journeys (with or without the serpent)!

Kathryn Rose said...

Hello, Minnie, and thanks for your comment. So far I have been very much enjoying my outings with Millicent.