Tag Archives: bikes

Where’s my Indian summer gone?

It was here on Friday.

Yesterday, and more so today, the overall temperature has plunged by about 10°. Now some people might say that a top temperature of 23° would be quite pleasant, but after the recent heatwave, it feels cold. It’s got greyer as the day has progressed and I’m a little worried that I’m underdressed. Mind you, if I did put one of my warm jackets on, I’d be overdressed. I hope, though, this weather isn’t a harbinger of another long, early winter.

It turned out that the bike thing the other day was so that we could be supplied with reg. plates for our bikes, which no one has ever tried doing to me before and which, I thought, was no longer a requirement as it had once been. (Or, at least, foreigners were not required to register their bikes.) I’m not sure where I can attach the reg. plate because the tail-end of my carrier is round, and underneath is the rear reflector.

Could this blog be more interesting?

To be honest, yes. But, in the meantime, exciting news for cartographers, which proves that even Mr Bamboo can be an inattentive dullard. I went to the bank after school and as I came out and was wondering whether I needed to go shopping, I noticed that 香榭路 (or 街) had been renamed and is now called 迎龙路 (Yínglóng Lù). I have no idea when this happened, but being more concerned with the traffic as I cross the road, I haven’t paid much attention to the sign until today.


Great achievements of our age

The wall painting.

I haven’t ventured down 青石路 in a very long time. I have glanced down there as I’ve headed into Trust Mart, and I’ve noticed that things have changed (the colour scheme), but I haven’t gone to see how they’ve changed.

It’s not really the weather for going on an adventure. At lunchtime there was an almighty great downpour which was comprised of industrial-sized raindrops, but that was short-lived, and the heat and humidity returned with little delay. However, I decided it was time I got off my big, fat middle-aged arse and went out on my bike to do more than just go to Carrefour, Trust Mart, or, er…

I headed down 青石路 to find that the only real change down there was the painting of some murals on the block walls which are sitting outside the shops at the east end of the street. As far as I can tell, there have been almost no other changes along there. There shops behind the walls, which I had thought were going to be demolished, are all busy trading away, but in the past year (or however long it is since I’ve been down there), nothing seems to have happened.

I carried on past Walmart, where nothing was happening, not even a car display, and did a circuit before heading back into town past the railway station, and just as I decided to follow the road round past Carrefour, the rear cog of my bike started making a terrible grinding noise. I’d already been thinking about getting the front brakes replaced again. Anyway, so long as I pedalled fairly fast, there were no problems, but the moment I started coasting, my bike started sounding like a concrete mixer.

Fortunately, the Giant bike shop wasn’t far away and I got them to have a look. I thought it’d just be a matter of tightening up the chain, which was loose, but the rear cog really was in a bad way and had to be replaced. I think the problem was, in part, due to the wet weather washing all the grit and dust about, which then gets into the workings of my biking. I also got them to fit some better brake blocks, which are longer than the usual ones although I wait to see whether they’re longer lasting.

I think, though, my intention to replace my current machine with something a little more upmarket has had another boost because I have spent quite a bit of money getting my bike repaired, especially in the last six months or so. Let me think. Whole new drive train; two or three new drum brakes; several sets of front brakes; new rear tyre; new pedals; a new set of brake handles; numerous minor repairs. I don’t think I’ve ever had to replace the rims, but the front rim probably needs replacing not just because there are grooves etched into it, but the lower part of the rim and the upper are at slightly different angles probably because of the pressure of the brake blocks.

Anyway, unless things change in the next three months, I’ll probably buy myself a Hunter 3.0. However, if it was a little less racing bike and little more city bike, I’d opt for a Giant FCR3100, which is the first men’s bike I’ve seen here with sensible width tyres (700x32c). It’s a bit like a low-end sports car, which isn’t really convenient for the business of daily life, whereas I need the sports saloon: something I can get a decent turn of speed out of, but which still has a basket and a carrier for things like shopping.

I still can’t understand why anyone would want to ride a mountain bike with big, fat, cloddish, bumpkin tyres in town. I suppose it’s like the cycling equivalent of the SUV, which never gets driven off road because, basically, it’s a fat estate car.

I’ve just seen the episode of Top Gear in which the boys raced across London to see who could traverse the capital the fastest. As it turned out, it was Richard Hammond on the bike, but it couldn’t be a normal city bike. This had carbon fibre everything and cost £1700, which is about twice the price of the one I’ve seen in the Giant shop here. Hammond didn’t appear to be much of a cyclist, either.

I only said I was resigning. Why all the panic?

Battle: Los Angeles.

This one lines up all the clichés and tick them off. Aaron Eckhart wants to resign from the Marines, which can only mean one thing: an alien invasion. The aliens want Earth’s water. So Aaron gets attached to some unit which is led by an inexperienced lieutenant, and which includes the man who blames Aaron for his brother’s death. They have to go to a police station to rescue some civilians before the US Air Force bombs LA back into the sea, but you just know things aren’t going to go well.

And of course, things don’t go well and then get worse: the air force never turns up and the Marine base is destroyed. They have to head to an extraction zone where they’re rescued by a helicopter until Aaron decides to jump out and attack the alien boss monster. There’s are desperate fight; there are missiles; there is victory. But having got back to base for something to eat, Aaron heads straight back out to rejoin the fight.

I assume that this is meant to be more guns-‘n’-ammo satire so that instead of the Americans going and invading the Arab world for its oil, the Arabs…, sorry aliens invade Earth for its water. I’m guessing it’s meant to be about the boot being on the other foot.

I doubt whether I would’ve bothered with this movie if I hadn’t kept seeing it being played on the TV screens at the entrance to Carrefour. Now that I’ve seen the film, I know that I really shouldn’t have bothered.

Braking hard.

About two weeks ago I bought some new front brake blocks for my bike. It is a measure of how much abrasive material is in the air and on the ground that I’ve already worn the outer part down. That can be blamed on the wet weather washing all the dust and grit into puddles which then acts like sandpaper on the brakes and the rim. I don’t know quite how many new pairs of brake blocks I’ve got over the past year, but this pair holds the record for the least durable ones so far.

These things do cost ¥10 a time (a little under £1) whereas the brake blocks on the Evans Cycles website are anywhere from £4.99 (Avid) to£9.16 (Shimano). The question is whether more expensive blocks are worth it. Would the Avid ones, for example, last at least five times as long as the ones I usually get?

I see I ought to go and do something about lunch.

Patches, Gothic, and the Royal Wedding

May Day again.

Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday this month took the record for the largest number of patches ever issued. Yesterday, when I turned my computer off at one stage, I’d had another six thrown at me, and then later in the day, a further three. Patchiest April ever? Quite possibly.

While we’re speaking of patches, the mechanic at the Giant bike shop told me the last time I went that the chain and rear cog on my bike needed replacing; and having plenty of time yesterday, I went back to the bike shop again. In the end, I had the whole drive train replaced and part of the drum brake. I’m now thinking about buy a new bike later this year, probably a Hunter 3.0. I won’t, though, be buying the carbon fibre racing bike they have in the window for ¥8,880.

I decided to add the Gothic alphabet to the font I’ve been working on, but ran into problems when I found that the encodings were being truncated so that $10330, where the Gothic block begins, was turning into $0330. I don’t fully understand the business, but in Font Creator, you need to use the platform manager to add UCS-4 (with UCS-2 imported), and then map the places in the font so that they’ll be correctly assigned.

Having dealt with Gothic, I thought I might add runes and Phoenician, and I suppose I should also add the IPA.

For a font which I drew in PaintShop Pro using a mouse, the result is actually not too bad at 12pts although it does need quite a lot of tidying up. The glyphs all have idiotically large numbers of points and there’s a distinct tendency for many of the points to be a little off the curve and beside on curve points. It’s a purely experimental effort as I learn how to do things with the program. My next step apart from adding other glyphs is to tidy up the glyphs and the serifs, which are rather chunky things, redolent of some rustic-style Roman letters.

To celebrate the Royal Wedding, the Empire has cunningly managed to get the May Day weekend to coincide with the nuptials so that loyal imperial citizens can join in the festivities. That probably explains why the workers are replacing all the kerbing stones here and at school: the places might look their best for Wills and Kate (now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; should I as a former cit be saluting?). I’m sure there’ll be street parties tonight and I’ll see overexcited revellers, dressed as the Queen, staggering around the streets with their tiaras at a rakish angle. Of course, knowing what the locals are like, they’ll be wearing their royal-purple pyjamas.

(Cross-posted from Green Bamboo LJ.)

A bike! A bike! My kingdom for a bike

So the search continues.

In response to my post on wuxilife, someone suggested Decathlon. I happened to spot the shop yesterday as I was departing from Metro, but when I checked the prices online, I found it was better to have kept going. I checked the website online, but at £270 (that’s ¥2987)[1] for the sort of bike I might opt for, you can see why it was better for me to have kept going.

When I went to school after lunch to get the textbooks, I asked one of the students about bike shops in the city. He pointed me to 市体育中心 (City Stadium) where there were a couple of bike shops on the far side of the stadium from the gate; but their selection was limited again and didn’t include the sort of thing I was after.

Another response to my query online was Auchan, which I’ll try tomorrow. Linda’s also suggested 商业大厦, which is on 中山路.

As I was coming back from tea tonight, I suddenly realised that I have owned an Emmelle before. Not the one I had in Chengdu, but one or more in Cambridge. I think that it was an Emmelle whose frame broke on me one day and I was forced to ride a tank of a bike for several weeks before the frame of my original bike was replaced. I should’ve bought a new bike and have been done with it, but the eventual switch from the temporary bike to the replacement was amazing because of the difference in weight.

Meanwhile, I got BSDed again this evening. This time I was able to identify the problem because I’d told the laptop not to reboot automatically if this happened. The problem wasn’t with the graphics card or with the ethernet card, but with a sound card driver. I downloaded the latest driver the Acer website had and installed it. I’m hoping that that will’ve solved the problem. The sound coming from the speakers seems much better than it did before. The balance is better as well, which suggests that my hearing wasn’t at fault when I thought there was a bias to the right-hand speaker.

As I finish off this entry, I’m listening to Handel’s Recorder Sonata in E minor, Op. 1, No. 1b (HWV 379).

[23.12.13. I eventually ended up at the Giant bike shop where I bought a model called a Newing. I subsequently replaced that with a Hunter 3.0, which has an aluminium frame and more gears than I have brain cells. The one I have is red, but I’ve seen a crimson one. I want both. What’s a boy to do?]

[09.04.16. I’ve now replaced the Hunter 3.0 with an XCR 3700, although reluctantly. Yesterday, some cretinous peasant on an electric scooter rear-ended me when I was waiting for the light to turn green, which broke the mudguard, which turned out to be irreplaceable – as I’d expected. I knew the Hunter 3.0 was an old model, but it’s been a fairly sound piece of kit. I don’t, however, want to be trundling around on a bike that now looks so sadly shabby even though it works perfectly well otherwise.]


1. I see Sterling has strengthened against RMB with the exchange rate now being ¥11 to £1.

Where do people find them?

Bike shops in Wuxi.

My attempt to track down bike shops in Wuxi by searching via Baidu yielded very little. I managed to find shops for Merida (bikes for bicycle couriers and other wide boys) and Giant, but nothing else. I went back to the Giant bike shop on 人民西路 where they have one model that I might consider, yet it still has fat tyres. Not as fat as the tyres of a mountain bike, but fat enough and not what I want. It seems that Giant don’t make normal bikes, as I discovered when I went to the website. A search for something general such as 自行车专卖店 produced nothing useful.

When I was going to Ajisen last night, I saw a woman with a fairly new Emmelle bike (not the first I’ve seen since I got here), but searching for Emmelle yields nothing. Also, I’m not sure what the Chinese for Emmelle is, which meant that I had to search for the name in English.

However, I thought I’d go to Metro today, partly to see whether they have any bookcases like the one I already have and partly to see whether they have a more promising selection of bikes than, say, Carrefour did. I also have one other option, which is to post a question about bike shops on wuxilife.com. Sad to say, though, the word “bike” obviously generates images of electric bikes in the minds of foreigners. I might consider one the day I can’t out-accelerate one.

[23.08.14. The Giant bike service centre in Wuxi has now migrated to 东瑞路 (Dōng Ruì Lù), and is not far from the intersection with 西沪西路, although it can be easy to overshoot, and is on the wrong side of the road if you’re coming from town. There may be another Giant shop on 学前路 towards Nanchan, but it’s been awhile since I’ve been down that way.]