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From Amazon.co.uk about Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie:
“Excellent and amusing commentary on a solo bicycle trip from Reading in England to Brindisi, on the heel of Italy.
This isn’t a journey through Outer Mongolia. Sykes always has the option of stopping and getting a train the rest of the way. He doesn’t have to learn to light fires with friction and make stew from ant grubs. He doesn’t even have to find out how to rewire his wheel spokes, although he does have to learn to dance a bit, sleep with donkeys and eat raw meat. And he has a fantastic time. All of which begs the question – why don’t more people have this kind of adventure?
Appropriately for a teacher, the author provides us with a little education on the way. History, geography and politics – Europe viewed as a network of bicycle tracks (possibly the crowning achievement of the Common Market). Even theology – there is a patron saint of cyclists
There’s some solid advice for European touring as well, covering a variety of things from the need to find a balance between roughing it and rest days, to using the virtual support teams that social media plugs you into. He looks at the vexed questions of the right handlebars and security for touring, and in one of my favourite quotes points out that ultra-light tends to mean ultra-thin and ultra-ineffective.
I guess the best reflection I can provide on the book was that I was sorry when it stopped.”
Mark Henwick, December 2013
If you are in Yorkshire on Friday 30th May 2014, come along! More details on the Le Tour Ripon website.
When I first embarked on a long(ish)-distance cycle back in 2009 cycling along the Pennine Cycleway from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Derby I took with me a pre-smart phone. I think it was a Nokia. It did a pretty good job allowing me to take some half-decent pictures and send them to this blog with a bit of text to explain where I was. Fast forward twelve months to summer 2010 and I embarked upon my first continental crossing by bike with a much smarter iPhone 4. I had to be careful with the data but it served me very well indeed and I tapped out an astonishing 30,000 words on the screen’s keyboard during the five weeks of the trip. It also allowed some high quality picture-taking including the one that ended up on the front cover of Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie. Move forward another three years to 2013 when I set off once again to cross the continent by bike and I had upgraded to an iPhone 5 supplemented by a mini iPad and a package from Vodafone allowing me to use data pretty much as I use it back here in the UK. Could things have been any better? Well yes, they probably could… Although the old Nokia had its limitations it was durable little phone. It would have probably survived a few drops on the floor but that said, rain would have been an issue. The iPhone in contrast was all singing and dancing on a technological level but one slip of the hand could (and once did) lead to it smashing into pieces. During both European trips I had to be very careful with the Apple technology; it was a bit like cycling across Europe with a piece of glass in my pocket. If only someone could make a smart phone that had the technological prowess of the iPhone with the durability of a waterproof brick…
Well, perhaps my prayers have been answered. A couple of weeks ago I was sent a Samsung Galaxy S4 Active to review. It’s a standard Samsung Galaxy S4 (although the word ‘standard’ seems a little harsh as the phone itself has some impressive features that outdo the iPhone 5 such as a much larger screen & a significantly more versatile camera) that’s had some major pimping for the ‘active’ market, hence the name. If I drop my iPhone onto a hard surface it’s as good as destroyed. That’s not the case with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active. Although I haven’t tested it to the point of destruction, I have dropped it a few times (on purpose) and it’s still in once piece and fully-functioning, even after a collision with a hard surface. It’s also waterproof (for up to 30 minutes at 1 metre apparently). Now it’s been uncharacteristically dry in Berkshire over the last few days so I had to resort to dunking the phone in the bath and again, it has survived the experience! The camera even has a special ‘aqua’ function for shooting underwater. I did this in the shower but I’m afraid that particular video remains classified. It also has an ‘air gesture’ feature that allows the device to be operated (to a certain extent) while wearing a thick pair of gloves for example – quite cool!
I have to be honest and say that I’m quite loyal to my iPhone but having had a go with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active I’m beginning to wonder whether my loyalty is in conflict with me using a piece of kit that gives me exactly what I’m looking for; a very smart smartphone that has been specifically designed to cope in a more challenging environment. When upgrade time arrives in summer 2014 I’ve got a difficult choice to make!
Official Overview (provided by Samsung):
- The Galaxy S4 Active is a toughened-version of Samsung’s flagship device, the Galaxy S4
- It is dust-proof and water proof for 30 mins at 1 metres with a special Aqua mode for shooting underwater. This means you can take it places where your normal smartphone would get wrecked
- It is robust so suitable for outdoor activities – so you don’t have to worry when using your phone on long rides. You can instead capture the experience and even share them with friends instantly
- The 5.0-inch Full HD screen has been designed with Glove Touch, so you can even use the touchscreen while wearing gloves
- It’s got a 5.0” Full HD TFT LCD
- It has an 8 MP camera with Aqua Mode and LED flashlight
- It has Drama Shot, Sound & Shot and Group Play – all features available of the Galaxy S4 device
- This makes it the perfect device to withstand both extreme conditions as well as the pitfalls of everyday life – such as dropping your phone on the pavement or in the sink etc
I watched this video earlier today and thought that certain bits looked quite familiar… and they should be as it has been filmed in and around Henley-on-Thames, the town where I work and the town to which I cycle every morning on Reggie. It’s beautifully shot – even the rain looks nice – and has been made to publicise an epic ride being undertaken by Liz Dimmock who has set herself a challenge to be the fastest women to circumnavigate the globe by bicycle. If this wasn’t hard enough, she also plans to raise a Million pounds along the way for disadvantaged children. The ride website is here and her Twitter feed is here. Good luck to her!