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Category Archives: CyclingImage
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!
You’ve cried at the John Lewis Christmas ad (although I have to say it just isn’t quite the same after you’ve seen the front cover of the latest edition of Private Eye), you’ve watched Rosie Huntington-Whiteley dive down a manhole (that just doesn’t sound right does it?) only to bump into Helena Bonham Carter & her chums and perhaps you’ve even marvelled at just how little Iceland have lavished on their own Christmas offering. Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet as here is the 2013 Christmas advert for ‘Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie‘. Available in all good bookshops (and probably a few average ones as well). At only £8.99 it’s a steal (but I would prefer if you pay for it). Should you want to give your loved ones (or someone in your family) the ultimate Good Vibrations gift this holiday season (that sounds too American, sorry) without visiting Anne Summers, signed copies with a personal message are available for only £15 including postage and packaging (although I draw a line at actually wrapping the book for you). Contact me via email, via Twitter or indeed via Facebook should this enticing offer tickle your fancy. Happy Christmas to one and all (and especially to those of you who buy the book…). The wait is over! Are you ready? Here it is:
Thanks to Iain Harper for pointing me in the direction of this high-quality and extremely informative ten-minute explanation of the Tour de France made by InfoBytesTV. Amazing! (Just a pity that there doesn’t seem to be a version available in French…)
Why playing poker on two-wheels is becoming a trend in the country
Germany prides itself on many things: its grand castles, towering ice-capped mountains, and its top-of-the-line automobiles. But one aspect that’s often overlooked in this country is its people’s love for poker. And thanks to their passion for the card game, Germans follow poker wherever it can be played – be it in casinos, in pubs, and even on the road.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the country which produced partypoker flag bearer Marvin Rettenmaier – the first and only back-to-back champion of the World Poker Tour (WPT) – has joined the craze of playing poker while racing. These ingenious races called “poker runs” are a huge hit in many parts of the world, and are now beginning to take Germany by storm. A poker run is a competition where participants must collect playing cards along the race course, where the one with the best 5-card hand at the finish line will be declared the best poker runner. Many runs in Germany have been navigated through motorcycles, speedboats and skis, but bicycles pose a strong potential to become the most widely-used mode of racing in poker runs across the country.
Germany’s reputation as a bicycle-loving country has been reinforced by government ordinances and investments to make its cities and towns friendly to two-wheel pedal pushers. For one, Berlin is regarded as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, thanks to its policies such as a lenient “no helmet” policy for bikers, and its extensive network of bike lanes across the German capital. Other German cities like Greifswald in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Münster in North Rhine-Westphalia have a bicycle share rate of above 40 percent vis-a-vis other modes of transportation in these urban centres. Indeed, cycling is already part and parcel of the German way of life.
With a fertile ground to play the popular card game on two wheels, Germans are starting to organise their own bicycle poker runs. For instance, the 2012 Ride the Alps Poker Run was a 270-kilometer long distance race that traversed the mountainous terrain of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria. The race route was especially difficult due to the resort town’s elevation of 1,400 meters above sea level – a race that’s only suited for professional mountain bikers. For those who simply want to jump on the bandwagon, free-for-all poker runs are now being slated by cycling clubs in Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt.
The emergence of bicycle poker runs in Germany is an indication of both the passion of its people for poker and the peaking interest of its citizens to cycling. With more races being held across the country, it’s only a matter of time before Germany becomes the hotbed of two-wheel poker runs in Europe.
Raynaud’s phenomenon is not a great thing to suffer from. It’s even worse if you are a cyclist. And cycling in winter can become a pain, literally. Also known as ‘vibration white finger‘ (as it can be a symptom of having used a vibrating device – such as a pneumatic drill - over prolonged periods of time in your job [I use them all them time when teaching Year 9]), it results in circulation of blood being cut off to the ends of the fingers leaving them very cold indeed. For me it seems to kick in at temperatures below about 5 degrees and this week, for the first time this winter, I’ve begun to suffer on my cycling commute to and from work. It’s a cold ride at the best of times (even in the so-called ‘summer’) as I have to cross from Reading to Henley-on-Thames through the Oxfordshire countryside and choose to do so in the morning between 6:30 and 7am. For years I’ve suffered in silence (what a hero!) and have gone through numerous pairs of gloves in the hope that one of them would be the ultimate cold weather glove. I’ve not yet found it. But extreme weather gloves are available, albeit at a price…
As with all things cycling, there is a myriad of choice out there. I sometimes wish shops would just make the decision for me and only stock the stuff that is any good. But then I suppose what is good for me is no good for the next person and visa versa. I was in my local Evans Cycles shop earlier this week standing in front of the dozens of gloves that they stock. Fingers, fingerless, waterproof, windproof, summer, winter, extreme, non-extreme, Gore-Tex, Teflon… I’ve just checked on their website; they sell 214 different pairs of gloves made by 30 different manufacturers (see right)! I suppose that I can discount many of the 214 pairs however because I’m in the market for the warmest gloves on sale and my eye is caught by those made by a company called SealSkinz. Putting aside the possibility that they actually sell gloves manufactured from real seal skins, with a name like that you’d think they’d be warm and the top of the range glove is the SealSkinz Extra Cold Weather Cycling Glove which comes in at a whopping £49.99. Whenever I spend money on cycling related apparel, I always think of the cost in terms of tanks of petrol. I don’t own a car and so don’t have to go to the expense of filling one up every month (or probably for many, every week or even every few days). This ‘saves’ me shed loads of cash (it’s more of an opportunity cost I suppose but this isn’t an economics lecture for goodness sake!). Back to the gloves. £49.99? That’s about one tank of petrol, no? What might surprise you even more than the price is the fact that Evans sell 21 pairs of gloves that are more expensive than the SealSkinz Cold Weather ones; the most expensive is an eye-watering £120. Yes, that was one hundred and twenty pounds. Fortunately I’m the wrong sex for the ‘Team Sky 2013 Women’s Grand Tour Mitts by Rapha‘. Rapha must have a smile on his face especially when you consider that he is flogging gloves that don’t come with fingers. I suppose that’s another reason not to invest. I like the sound of the Castello Estremo Full Finger Gloves but then again I’m a sucker for anything with a foreign name. These Gore Bike Wear gloves are cool but on my early morning commute across the Oxfordshire countryside there aren’t many people out there to appreciate my coolness. So I am still very tempted by the SealSkinz. The big question remains; should I break my long-term vow never to buy anything that is purposefully spelt incorrectly? A dilemma indeed…
“This is such a crucial time for cycling in Britain” are the first words in this short video about a crowd-funded film that has been proposed called ‘Bicycle‘. After tragic cycling news over the last couple of weeks emanating from London this is something a little more positive. 60 days to decide whether to help finance! The website is here. The premier of the film is scheduled to take place in Leeds just before the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in July 2014. Invest £5,000 and you’ll be the guest of honour!
I’ve entered Reggie in Cycle Love’s ‘Best Bike’ competition… More details here.
The poster by Andrew Hoffman was pointed out to me yesterday on Twitter and I do like it. It was produced for Art Crank, an art collective which promotes cycling-related art and holds exhibitions around the world (the ones in the UK being in London & Manchester). If I knew how to get hold of a copy, I would probably try to buy one… The pictures below are taken from Andrew’s Instagram account and show the poster at various stages of development. It was then shown at Art Crank Denver, Andrew’s home town. You can find out more about him & see more of his work (most of it having nothing to do with cycling) on his website, Dribble site or on Tumblr. He is of course on Twitter as well.