Hello, old man. Hello, heron.

That pesky camera
I don’t wear a helmet.  This is mainly because I can’t find one that fits me, but I confess that I’m really rather glad that they don’t fit.

It’s easy to ridicule the helmet companies for not making helmets that fit everyone, but head shapes are more varied than boob shapes, and look at how many differently shaped bra’s you can buy!  You don’t have to have spent hours wandering behind a partner, wishing you could sneak off to HMV or Currys or ANYWHERE, to tell how many there are – massive areas of department stores are dedicated to them, whereas the helmet range in bike stores is tiny.  Admittedly, I don’t think there’s much call for helmets that actively try to shape people’s heads differently.. lift and separate?

Also, helmets generally look stupid.  I’m sure all the contours and vents do something snazzy, but they look like capsized catermarans.  I’m more of a fan of the simple rock climber-ish helmets that you can get, but so far I haven’t found one big enough, or that doesn’t jab into my cerebellum like a woodpecker hunting for grubs.  Maybe I should look for helmets in a rock climbing equipment store (do they exist?).. they’ll probably have a big range, and a helmet designed for protection when falling off a cliff should be okay for falling off a bike, I would imagine.

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Anyway, why was I talking about helmets?  oh yeah – my helmet camera!  Without a helmet, there’s no good place to mount it.  I was hoping I could get away with mounting it on my bag, so it looks out from my shoulder, but my choice of clothing has scuppered that plan.  All the video footage I’ve had so far has been of the hood of my red hoodie, and looks rather a lot like a colonoscopy.  It’s not ideal for observing the traffic and ducks of my commute..  The bag I use has sturdy waist strap thingies for hiking, so last night I tried attaching it to one of those, but the flaps don’t half flap about when they’re not being used properly, so the picture quality turned out a bit rubbish, and mostly looked out too far to the left to be of any use.  Tonight, I’ll try attaching it to the frame of my bike, but I suspect it’ll be too bumpy.  The next plan is to attach it to my glasses, which might make people think I’ve got a Google Glass (or whatever it’s called) headset on, especially with the USB cable poking out of it, and disappearing into my bag (to the battery).  Failing that, I might have to have another look for a helmet!  😮

Is this even a commute anymore?

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I forgot to mention something about my new approach to commuting; I’m not trying to be as fast as possible anymore!  Last year, I always tried to go flat out, especially when I was on the singlespeed (it was harder not to).  Now, I’m trying to be more relaxed and enjoy the ride.  It was difficult to do on the old commute, because keeping up with traffic was essential, and the route itself was so annoying that I just wanted to get it over and done with ASAP.

The new route cures all those ills!  While I’m in the suburbs, there’s so little traffic that I don’t have to worry about keeping up with it.  I don’t have to worry so much about being squished by people turning, because they can see me coming a lot more easily.  There’s no buses or taxis on the route, so I don’t have them suddenly turning in/out in front of me.  There’s no HGVs, so I don’t have to worry about them not seeing me, and the road is so wide and quiet that anyone overtaking can give me a ton of room.  I don’t even see many other cyclists, so I don’t have to fight the urge to keep up or overtake them too often.  All in all, I wish I’d tried this a year ago.  It’s adding an extra 20 minutes to my commute, but that’s a small price to pay for a relaxing pootle.

oh, and I saw a heron and some coal tits (I only ever see greats and blues normally) on my way home last night, and an old man on a pushbike said hello to me this morning.  I’m pretty sure an ice cream van is lurking in Edgeley Park somewhere, so the journey home might start taking even longer sometime soon.  Hooray!  😀

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More new toys!

I’ve been a bit too ill to cycle over the past week or so, with my head and lungs all full of snot and bogies.  It’s not pretty, and on Friday, I didn’t even get to work!  As bad as the trains are (they are really bad), I haven’t missed cycling – the weather’s been awful!  I don’t mind the rain; it’s the wind that I hate the most, and it’s been particularly windy of late.

My life hasn’t been devoid of cycling stuff, though – I found some excuses to buy a few new bits!  🙂

First on the list is an Electronic Digital Vernier Caliper.
phoaaar!  Electronic toolage!  It’s a digital ruler, basically.  🙂  I bought it primarily to measure my seat tube, but I’m sure it’ll come in useful for measuring lots of other things.  I can measure the width of my toes, or.. er.. why is that the only thing I can think of?  :s

The seat tube was roughly 26.2mm, by the way.  Measuring it with the caliper was trickier than expected..

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The inner-width measurement guides had flat outers at the top, so it wasn’t completely flush to the inside of the tube.  It could’ve possibly been 26mm, so I looked it up on Sheldon Brown’s Seatpost Size Database.

No Carlton’s from the right era, so check Raleighs..  1974-ish..  26.2mm…  Super Course Mark II!  531 plain guage.

Wanna know what’s interesting about that?  When I was trying to identify my bike from photos on the interweb, I only found two bikes that had the same lugs and seat stays as mine – a Carlton Ten, and a Raleigh Super Course Mark II!  All 531-tubed Raleighs were built by Carlton in those days, so there’s a pretty good chance that they’re the same frames.

Add a 26.2mm seat post to the list!

The last purchase is something that I wasn’t sure if I needed; a helmet camera.  Well, in my case it’s going to have to be a bag or frame camera, or a wooly hat camera, maybe.  😛  I bought it as a sort of security, and also out of curiosity, but mostly out of outright nerdiness!

I didn’t want to spend much on a camera, though.  £40 tops.  Without resorting to dubious-looking Chinese imports, that limited me to 640×480 resolution cameras.  The Veho Muvi had good reviews, and came with a wealth of fitting options, but 640×480 seemed too small for the money. In this day and age, cameras with that resolution must be dirt cheap, so they must be absolutely raking in the cash!  I don’t want to support that kind of operation, so I investigated something else that I’d seen recommended an awful lot – A Chinese ‘Mini DVR 808 #16‘ keychain camera.

This thing costs £30, has a 1280×720 resolution, and a lot of options.  Battery life is a bit naff, but it can be upgraded with an external battery.  They’re actually built by the ebay seller himself, which is pretty cool.  Kind’ve like someone selling their amateur electronics projects, I guess.  There’s a wealth of information about the cameras.. more than most ‘professional’ cameras have, so I feel a lot better about buying this than some of the suspicious Chinese stuff you see on ebay.

The only downside is that it’s going to take a couple of weeks to arrive.  Naturally, I’ll update the blog a lot when I get it.  🙂