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Newbie says hello

noisepolluternoisepolluter Posts: 64
edited August 2011 in Commuting chat
hello all,

Beckenham based NHS office drone here, hoping to start commuting to work in Camberwell.

Will hopefully be getting myself a Cannondale Quick CX-3 or CX-4 in the imminent future - my much beloved early 90's Marin Bear Valley SE will keep its dignity and chunky wheels and be put out to pasture as a weekend bike.

The main focus at the moment, besides sorting out the new bike, is brushing up on urban cyclecraft and getting an optimum route with the minimum of steep hills or busy roads.

Must admit I am slightly nervous, but at the same time looking forward to getting started!
Cannondale Bad Boy SLX - commute and/or bad weather
Scott Speedster S20 - weekend and/or fair weather commute

Posts

  • -spider--spider- Posts: 2,548
    welcome to the forum - we're mostly a frindly bunch.

    Hope you enjoy the commute - it wont be long until you're wondering why you didn't start sooner!

    -Spider-
  • -spider- wrote:
    welcome to the forum - we're mostly a frindly bunch.

    Indeed. From a cursory browse I am as comprehensively informed about Betty Swollocks coping techniques as anyone could ever wish to be.
    Cannondale Bad Boy SLX - commute and/or bad weather
    Scott Speedster S20 - weekend and/or fair weather commute
  • nichnich Posts: 888
    Boo :)

    There's a few of us around Beckenham.

    Flatish route is probably the A21 upto Lewisham then left on the A202, but this is probably out your way - it's fast though.

    Going via Sydenham / Lordship Lane sounds the most direct route, but more hilly :)

    Spose it depends where you are exactly.

    Enjoy!
  • nich wrote:
    Boo :)

    There's a few of us around Beckenham.

    Flatish route is probably the A21 upto Lewisham then left on the A202, but this is probably out your way - it's fast though.

    Going via Sydenham / Lordship Lane sounds the most direct route, but more hilly :)

    Spose it depends where you are exactly.

    Enjoy!

    Thanks - from looking at cyclestreets.net I'm fairly happy with getting to Catford along the towpath, and will then just try to thread my way across using the quietest roads and residential streets as far as possible. There are a couple of short bits of major road - if necessary I'll just dismount to cross.

    In other news, I have just given myself a headache weighing up the bewildering array of options re saddlebags, whether or not to get a helmet cam etc. It was all so much simpler when I was 15 and chucking myself off the top of the Longmynd!
    Cannondale Bad Boy SLX - commute and/or bad weather
    Scott Speedster S20 - weekend and/or fair weather commute
  • cjcpcjcp Posts: 13,345
    Welcome! I think there's a good number on here which come in from your direction. It won't take you long to build up more confidence.
    FCN 2-4.

    "What happens when the hammer goes down, kids?"
    "It stays down, Daddy."
    "Exactly."
  • Hi there and welcome. You'll have a great time when you get going, it'll be the best part of your day. Maybe hold-off on the new bike until you've ridden it a few times, you'll have a much better idea of what you need. To start off you just need a bike, any bike, the rest falls into place once you know what's necessary.
  • SimonAHSimonAH Posts: 3,730
    Hello Newbie!

    Welcome.
    FCN 5 belt driven fixie for city bits
    CAADX 105 beastie for bumpy bits
    Litespeed L3 for Strava bits

    Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast.
  • TwisterboyTwisterboy Posts: 311
    Welcome to Bike Radar Forums.

    David
  • ConfusedboyConfusedboy Posts: 287
    Welcome to the madness.... you will certainly get plenty of advice here, most of pretty good. To start the ball a-rolling, I'd suggest your route (I don't know it not being a local but this is how it sounds) uses too many side streets and a towpath to be very fast, although you may want to build confidence in traffic before 'graduating' to quicker routes. You will be unable to make much time on a shared facility such as a towpath, esp. in rush hour.

    You will need to develop physical strength and riding technique, though, and that will need uninterupted runs on smooth roads at the best speed you can comfortably manage. Undercover's point about riding it a few times is true enough, but you may need to try alternative routes before you decide on the best bike for you. For now, replace the knobblies on your existing bike with slicks; you will notice an increase in your speed and acceleration straight away and don't have to spend megabucks to do it. Replacing the tyres for weekend jaunts is not hard and good practice for when you are visited by the p*nture fairy.

    Roadcraft is not the urban survival warrior world some folks would have you believe. Mostly it's just common sense. Stay out of the gutters, obey traffic lights, ride on the road as much as you can, and don't, whatever you do, left filter buses or HGVs and you should be OK. Think about fitting a mirror-your awareness of what is coming up behind you will increase by a quantum amount! You'll see a lot of really bad cycling and some murderous driving out there; my advice is to rise serenely above it like the clearly superior being you undoubtedly are (you are proving this by being a cycle commuter).

    Saddlebags, or whatever you need to carry your stuff in, depend a lot on how much stuff you have to carry-you probably don't need stuff designed for touring on a commute. As for helmet cam, wait a while until you have settled into a routine and you may find you don't really need one. Good lights and weatherproof gear are far more of a priority, and if you are intending to monitor your progress, a computer will be required. And the best lock you can afford.
  • HamishDHamishD Posts: 538
    Beckenham to Camberwell? Anerley Hill - you know it makes sense. :twisted:

    Not being much help here, am I?
  • When you say towpath, I assume you mean the riverside path alongside the River Pool/Ravensbourne (Cycle route 21). It's actually a very pleasant way of coming into town and it's not that hazardous - there's a few daft dog-owners and a couple of alkies just before Catford bridge who start very, very early. Just wish them a good morning and you'll be fine :-) You won't break any land-speed records but it's not actually slow as a route.

    A couple of years ago I commuted in the opposite direction along there. The biggest challenge for me was keeping an eye out for birds without cycling into the river. Glimpsing a kingfisher on the way into work in London would always leave me with a slightly surreal sense of wonder. I don't know about you, but it would really set me up for the day.

    Enjoy!
  • kelsenkelsen Posts: 2,003
    A couple of years ago I commuted in the opposite direction along there. The biggest challenge for me was keeping an eye out for birds without cycling into the river. Glimpsing a kingfisher on the way into work in London would always leave me with a slightly surreal sense of wonder. I don't know about you, but it would really set me up for the day.

    I hear ya! Many a times I've nearly cycled into the back of cars whilst ogling birds on my way into work as well.

    Oh, and welcome noisepolluter!
  • kelsen wrote:
    A couple of years ago I commuted in the opposite direction along there. The biggest challenge for me was keeping an eye out for birds without cycling into the river. Glimpsing a kingfisher on the way into work in London would always leave me with a slightly surreal sense of wonder. I don't know about you, but it would really set me up for the day.

    I hear ya! Many a times I've nearly cycled into the back of cars whilst ogling birds on my way into work as well.

    Oh, and welcome noisepolluter!


    I hospitalised myself with concussion as a teenager trying to cycle through the rear doors of the van in front of me for exactly that reason. Bike was fine, though.
  • mudcow007mudcow007 Posts: 3,861
    bonjourno!
    Keeping it classy since '83
  • mudcow007 wrote:
    bonjourno!

    Bonjovi!

    Thanks everyone for the advice and encouragement. With regards to working with the current bike, it transpires that it will be a couple of months before the next C2W scheme is up and running so I'm going to work with the Marin - getting some slick tires and a computer on it this week and as well as scouting out a route I'm going to start training with 2-3 laps of a local park with some moderate uppy-downy bits.

    I broke my wrist whilst fencing (long story) 2 months ago, so am at the stage where I'm now building strength and flexibility - took the bike out of the garage for the first time yesterday and found that I can operate the brakes and shifters for a short time without any twinges, so this is also something I'll be building up gradually before I'm ready to start commuting.

    Getting quite excited now! :D
    Cannondale Bad Boy SLX - commute and/or bad weather
    Scott Speedster S20 - weekend and/or fair weather commute
  • gtvlussogtvlusso Posts: 5,112
    Hello, welcome.

    Are you aware of the VAT addition onto cycle to work schemes? Just asking if it affected your ecision at all?

    Was the fencing finished, did you make a good job of it and creosote it afterwards?

    :-)

    Sorry - being a twit

    :-)
  • gtvlusso wrote:
    Hello, welcome.

    Are you aware of the VAT addition onto cycle to work schemes? Just asking if it affected your ecision at all?

    Even without the VAT saving, it's still a decent enough saving, and in any case the payments in instalments are still more affordable than paying everything in one go.
    gtvlusso wrote:

    Was the fencing finished, did you make a good job of it and creosote it afterwards?

    Touché :D

    (sorry, as far as I know that's the only valid riposte to a fencing-related quip)
    Cannondale Bad Boy SLX - commute and/or bad weather
    Scott Speedster S20 - weekend and/or fair weather commute
  • gtvlusso wrote:
    Hello, welcome.

    Are you aware of the VAT addition onto cycle to work schemes? Just asking if it affected your ecision at all?

    Even without the VAT saving, it's still a decent enough saving, and in any case the payments in instalments are still more affordable than paying everything in one go.
    gtvlusso wrote:

    Was the fencing finished, did you make a good job of it and creosote it afterwards?

    Touché :D

    (sorry, as far as I know that's the only valid riposte to a fencing-related quip)

    Making him épée for his rapier like wit?
  • Well, I did it!

    Started cycling in at the beginning of last week - am now down to around 33 minutes there, 35 back and not wanting to go straight to bed as soon as I get home

    (also treated myself to a Cateye Commuter to fiddle about with) :D

    Luckily I've got use of the secure bike shed at the hospital where I work, but I'm still using a heavy kryptonite d-lock together with a cable lock to secure the front wheel.

    I'm definitely feeling the benefit during the day in terms of alertness and general mood. Trusty old bike is behaving itself well (yes, I am regularly being overtaken by drop-bar bikes ridden by people dressed up like a disco full of Italian sailors)...

    And yes I still want another bike!

    Front runner is now Scott Sub 20, close second is Trek 7.5fx Disc.

    Am wondering about changing my return route away from the Catford cycle path once the nights draw in though. Any other south london cyclists do this?

    Thanks everyone for all the encouragement so far
    Cannondale Bad Boy SLX - commute and/or bad weather
    Scott Speedster S20 - weekend and/or fair weather commute
  • CafewandaCafewanda Posts: 2,788
    You are doing well my son :wink:

    The experts will be along shortly.
  • Well done... particularly if you kept going through the last couple of rainy mornings...

    Now for some advice... Keep the Marin for winter and think about getting a road bike rather than a pricey hybrid. It'll make nipping over Crystal Palace hill a lot easier and stop you being overtaken quite as often. I know the idea probably seems a bit alien if you're not used to drops etc but otherwise, you'll be looking to buy a road bike by next year.

    I rejected the idea of a road bike entirely when I got my bike and got a decent hybrid. A year later, I was road bike hunting a little nervously since still wasn't entirely sure but wanted to go faster. 8 weeks later, I love my road bike. It's so much lighter, faster and more fun than my hybrid... which has now been relegated to 'wet days'
  • Hi noisepolluter, it might be pure coincidence but a couple of weeks ago I was chatting with someone on a hybrid heading home towards Beckenham who seemed fairly new to the route - it wasn't you by any chance, was it? I'm oldish and I was on a Boardman, heading off to give a keyboard lesson.
  • nichnich Posts: 888
    I'm not sure at which point you join the canal path, but the A21 does run parallel to it, and I find it quite safe. Various sections are covered by a bus lane too :)
  • Stevo_666Stevo_666 Posts: 41,806
    Another Beckenhamite 8) Welcome.

    My route into London used to take me through Camberwell from Beckenham. I never used that towpath route as I was always pretty happy with the various road options (even when a relative newbie). The main 2 routes I used as far a Camberwell were:
    1. Southend road - Worsley Bridge Road - Perry Vale - London Road - Lordship Lane - Dog Kennel Hill.
    2. Southend road - Park Road - Lennard Road - Newlands Park - Kirkdale - Sydenham Hill - Lordship Lane - Dog Kennel Hill.

    A couple of hills in there but not too bad. There are quite a few bus lanes etc and some of the roads at the Beckenham end arerelatively quiet traffic-wise.
    Whippet
    Bruiser
    Panzer
    Commuter

    "I spent most of my money on birds, booze and fast cars: the rest of it I just squandered." [George Best]
  • During the school holidays, you can go through Dulwich VIllage, up Sunray Avenue and down Denmark Hill - which is easier on the legs than doing Dog Kennel Hill. But once the schools go back, the traffic through the Village is horrible.
  • Stevo_666Stevo_666 Posts: 41,806
    During the school holidays, you can go through Dulwich VIllage, up Sunray Avenue and down Denmark Hill - which is easier on the legs than doing Dog Kennel Hill. But once the schools go back, the traffic through the Village is horrible.
    Good spot - have used that as an occasional option 3 from time to time. The run down College Road into Dulwich is good fun as well.
    Whippet
    Bruiser
    Panzer
    Commuter

    "I spent most of my money on birds, booze and fast cars: the rest of it I just squandered." [George Best]
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