Riding a Bike is Cheaper Than This!

This car had been sat in the public car park next to our office for a few weeks now.  The local traffic warden is clearly keen to teach the driver a well-deserved lesson for not paying for parking by plastering his windscreen with so many tickets that they won’t be able to drive off even if they do ever turn up.

I wonder at what stage the rather officious official will start to think a bit more laterally and check whether the car has been reported stolen.  Or perhaps lost?  Maybe the owner got so smashed that they forgot where they parked their car.  Or even which town they were in.

Maybe they are lying in a coma in hospital somewhere.

Perhaps they are dead?

Come to think of it I didn’t look through the windows (although, in fairness, it was difficult with all the stickers in the way).  Perhaps the owner went for a nap on the back seat and had a heart attack or a brain haemorrhage or something!  No, I’m sure I would have noticed the stench of decay; it has been there a few weeks.

What Happened to My Bike?!!

One day a cyclist chained their beloved bike to the rails outside Plymouth bus station.  For some reason they didn’t come back to claim it.  If you have read my post about a car becoming obscured by parking tickets near the office you might draw the same conclusions here, that the owner might be scratching his head wondering where he left it, in a coma or dead.

Whatever his condition he probably won’t want it back now anyway.  In an effort to reduce the weight of the bike and improve its performance the local populace has been pimping it.  Over a period of a few days they have removed all the unnecessary and weighty items like: tyres, inner tubes, wheels, gears, saddle, seat post, handlebars, stem, pedals, cranks, brakes and even cables.

All that remains, without the enterprise of removing the lock, is the forks.  I wonder how long they will last?

How to Re-Route Using a Garmin 800

The technique described below may work in a similar way on other Garmin models and on other sat navs and navigation devices but they have not been tested.

What do you do if you are navigating a route or course using your Garmin 800 and you get lost? Perhaps you lost concentration and suddenly realise that you should have made a turn and are now miles away from the route.  Do you retrace your steps?  Or should you use the ‘recalculate route’ function?

The answer is probably neither. 

There is probably a quicker way back to your intended route than following back the way you have just come.  If nothing else, retracing your steps is demoralising.  But you shouldn’t use the recalculate route option either.

When I first started using a sat nav I thought that if I got lost and rerouted then the sat nav would take me back to the closest part of my loaded route, after all, if I was using a paper map that is what I would do. Unfortunately the sat nav is not that sophisticated: it will simply take the point where you are and your final destination and then plot a new route between the two, based upon the settings you have given it (things like avoid highways, avoid tolls etc..).  This is unlikely to be the same route you loaded, especially if you are on a circular route.

So how can you navigate back to the route without losing the original navigation on your route?

Step One

Flick through the screens on your Garmin until you locate the map screen.  Zoom the view out by clicking on the ‘-’ symbol until you can see your route.  By eye locate a point on your route where you could re-join it.  Then zoom in on the point using the ‘+’.  You will probably have to move around on the map if you are some distance from your route.  To do this click on the ‘arrows’ symbol and then drag your finger around the screen to move the map.

Step Two

Once you have located the point where you would like to re-join the route and zoomed in to get sufficient detail, press that point on the screen with your finger.  A large pin should appear.  You can drag it around if it is not quite in the right place.

Step Three

Now press the location name box or the symbol with three lines at the top of the screen.  A new screen will appear giving a grid reference for the point and the distance to it (in a straight line).  Click on the Go button at the bottom of the screen.

Step Four

The sat nav will now navigate you to the selected point.  Once you reach that point and re-join your original route the sat nav should then automatically continue navigating along that route.

You can also use this technique to navigate around impassable obstructions, such as closed roads (although few are closed enough to stop a determined cyclist) or obstructed paths.  You may have to do a two part operation though, one to take you away from the obstruction and another to get you back to the route, otherwise the sat nav will probably just route you through the obstruction again, after all, it doesn’t know it is there!

This Product Could Save Your Ass

I first noticed little strips of plastic sticking out the back of the saddles of pro riders on the Tour of Italy and thought at the time that I should investigate. But I forgot.  Then I started noticing ‘ordinary’ people riding with a plastic tail. So I remembered.

The plastic tail is an ‘Ass Saver’. A highly flexible strip of plastic designed to snap into your saddle at a moment’s notice to act as a mudguard and save your precious ass. Play the video to see how simple this is.


I have used temporary mudguards before. I have one that clips to the seat post and holds a much longer strip of plastic much closer to the wheel. I still get a wet butt. So I was dubious. But at an outlay of less than £10 including international postage I took a punt.

When the Ass Saver arrived I eagerly snapped it onto my saddle. Well, not quite. My saddle has tension pads in the back so it didn’t fit. But a bit of thought and some extra folds to the plastic and it was in. Not about 10 seconds, more like 10 minutes.

The video also shows how easy it is to remove the Ass Saver and store it under the saddle. I’m sure it is if you don’t have saddle bag. Sadly, not having a team car following me around, I do have a saddle bag to carry spare tubes and tools. So my Ass Saver stays on permanently but that is no problem because it weighs as good as nothing and the disruption to my aerodynamic flow makes little difference to my performance compared to my rounded gut.

 For the whole month of September I rode around with my tail up but didn’t get lucky: it never rained. Or maybe that is getting lucky? Either way, you have me to thank for the lowest rainfall level for September on record.
The rain finally came in October and I am able to report that the Ass Saver works surprisingly well. Whilst the extremities of my butt get a good soaking the rest remains relatively dry and comfortable. For someone without mudguards the Ass Saver is certainly £10 well spent. You can currently buy them in Evans shops for £6.50.

Full product details at Ass Savers.

How to Be A Road Biker

I recently received an email from a dedicated mountain biker that reminded me that not everyone who is thinking of cycling end to end is a committed road cyclist but that they might need to learn to become one to complete the tour.

This is not necessarily true.  Many have completed the ride on a mountain bike and it would certainly be more comfortable on the off road sections of my own route.

On the whole though, the ride would be easier on a road bike.  So below is a quick video, suggested by my correspondent, as a good introduction to road cycling (it is sooo true):