As the days grow longer and my IAM course progresses, I have been looking for decent routes to hit after work on my commute home to squeeze in some extra practice and take advantage of the lovely weather. I ride home Eastbound on the A13, so have been hunting down quiet, yet interesting roads in close proximity to the areas of Upminster, Bulphan, Tilbury, Horndon-on-the-Hill and Brentwood. This is my route:
I made a quick visit to the Ponderosa Cafe near the Horseshoe Pass, just outside Llangollen in North Wales whilst in the area for a family holiday. Unfortunately I was not on the bike, but still great roads and stunning views whatever you ride or drive.
Good turn out of bikes (not just these two old Brit bikes in the photo!) and a change encounter with a London Biker friend too. Do pop by and ride the pass if you’re nearby.
It’s Christmas! – screamed Slade. For bikers up and down the country that means Toy Runs. Not just any old excuse for a ride out, but a chance to dress up, decorate the bike and most importantly take some toys to kids stuck in hospital this Christmas. On Sunday I joined the Ace Cafe Toy Run, which visited the children’s wing of St. Mary’s in Paddington, Royal Brompton in Chelsea and the Evelina Children’s Hospital in Westminster.
I took my 8 year old daughter along with me, who was super excited and had wrapped our presents days in advance. The weather held out well, just a spot chilly in the morning and we finished off with bacon sarnies and complementary drinks back at the Ace. Here’s some snaps from the day, most taken by my daughter!
As the weather turns cold and we have more wet days, the bane of all bikers strikes – a steamed up visor. And if you wear glasses, they’ll mist up too, double trouble. Visibility drops to zilch and riding becomes a nightmare. The simplest solution is of course to stop breathing. However, I tend to find this detrimentally affects my riding, especially on long rides…
Cold air, wind chill and rain dramatically reduces the temperature of your visor and glasses, such that moisture in the air your exhale condenses on these surfaces causing them to mist up.
The summer has most definitely long gone, now replaced with some glorious (and not so glorious) Autumn sun. This mild weather is a boon to us bikers, but be mindful of the low sun blinding other drivers and masking your presence. Like the fighter pilots of old who surprised their targets by flying out of the sun, riding West in mornings and East in the evenings could potentially see you surprising fellow road users.
Bear the sun in mind, the scope for SMIDSY’s is even greater. Anticipate drivers pulling out, even when looking directly at you. When filtering, drivers may only see glare in their mirrors, or your headlights may blend into the setting sun. Take it steady and don’t assume others have seen you (even less so than normal).
We maybe having a particularly warm and dry autumn so far, but it won’t last long. So now is the time to start thinking out your winter preparations. At Beginner Biker Adventures, we’re not fair weather bikers,
we’re not fair weather bikers
it’ll take some pretty extreme weather to stop us riding and we use our bikes to commute year round. Granted, in London the weather rarely gets too bad and very few roads will be impossible to ride in the winter, never the less, good preparation ensures safe riding throughout the winter months. Check out these useful tips to prepare. Continue reading “Winter Preparation” »
On Sunday, the weather was dry, sunny and perfect for a ride on the bike. We set out early, to make the most of quieter roads and avoid the unbearable midday heat and set off into deepest Essex.
This was Evie’s first proper ride out, having only been on short journey’s around local streets to get used to riding pillion. Decked out in a Hein Gericke textile suit with armour, RST boots and Caberg lid, she was more than prepared. We briefly stopped at the High Beach tea hut, but got bored waiting for it to open so dashed off straight to Finchingfield, via Ongar, Leaden Roding and Great Dunmow, a popular run for all bikers. Evie was a good pillion, quickly got the hang of leaning with me around all the twisty bends. Just a bit wobbly as she was looking around lots.
In Finchingfield we popped into the Bosworth’s Tea Rooms for a quite bacon buttie and coffee, Evie had a sausage sarnie and juice. Very nice and far better espresso than High Beach. Fed and watered we set off home and were back for noon. There’s definitely plenty of good arguments for an early Sunday morning ride out.
I was a bit nervous at first but when I started moving, my belly was aching with laughter! I went round the block 5 times (It was really fun!) Once I had to get off I begged Dad to go once again but he said NO. After that me and Dad got an Ice-cream, It was the best day EVER. A week later I went again to brownies and back! When everyone was jealous, then before we went I waved.
It was a lovely sunny summer evening, I Managed to blag leaving work earlier, a night free from kids and my Fazer had a full tank of fuel. I really fancied a chippie tea and the Fazer Owner Club – Unofficial were riding into the far reaches of Kent. Like planets falling into alignment, everything was all set. I left central London, down A2 via Blackheath and on to Nell’s Cafe in Gravesend for the rendezvous, where I had a good natter to some of the Kent branch of the IAM (really must do that some day soon). A quick blast down the M2 took us deep into Kent, where top chap Steve led us along some nice twisty country roads before stopping off in Herne Bay for our chippie tea. Not the cheapest Fish’n’Chips, but a decent one it was, and great to sit by the sea eating whilst the sun slowly came down.
Once sated, onwards we rode along some great minor roads and twisty country byways skirting Canterbury and Dover, before finally calling it a day when we had exhausted all daylight.
Big thanks to Steve for leading this ride.
If you’ve ridden a bike in London in the last year, you are probably more than aware that Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs) are now being enforced and any motor vehicles crossing them after lights have turned red will pick up a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice). This is still very much the case, with almost every junction on Mile End Road being policed today, although no one broke the rules on this occasion.
Although MAG have been campaigning for some time, motorcycle are not allowed to cross the first solid white line and enter the blue cycle box. This is a real shame as it can often lead to bikers stuck beside other vehicles, often not visible (especially if beside a truck or coach) and then unable to get away safely from the traffic as light turn green, due to the throng of cyclists in front. I honestly think the situation needs rethinking to allow cyclists and motorbikes to share the area in from of the ASL, where they are both visible and can safely pull away. Possibly with left reserved for cyclists, the right for motorcyclists. Both groups of cyclists have been sharing bus lanes (with buses and taxis) without issue for a number of years now.
If you also believe pedal and motor cyclists should be able to wait beyond the ASL, you may like to sign this petition on the UK Gov website.
I have since discovered that a split bicycle/motorbike advanced stop line box is currently on trial over near Stratford, London.
Check it out in more detail on Google Maps here. Note the feeder lanes each side, cyclists on left, bikers on right.