15 Apr 2015

15th April 2015 "He ain't heavy! He's my [hire bike] brother."

Wednesday 15th 54-58F, 12-14C, sunny but windy. An early appointment for 6 miles. Wind already unpleasantly strong and cool. A strange thin mist on the landscape producing a soft focus effect. With the wind building to 40mph gusts I spent the rest of the day on projects at home. It was mostly warm and sunny but very windy until late in the afternoon.

Thursday 16th 41-52F, 5-11C, light breeze and sunny. I was just reading about a colossal cock-up in the major Danish city hire bike replacement programme. The old hire bikes were so heavy that the Danes called them farm gates, or some other derogatory term. These new electric bikes cost $7500 - £5,000!! [equivalent] and the few released onto the streets so far are little-used already. At £2.50 to hire one they may appeal to the rich Chinese tourists we keep hearing about. Some [well above pay grade] plonker decided that these costly bikes should be secured by entering the borrower's email address on the touch screen. Not once but twice! Now enter your telephone number. Now enter your pin code. Which telephone number? The one back at home or my mobile? Do they want my Chinese national dialling code? Pin code? What pin code? I'm a rich Chinese tourist! Can't I just hire a nice BMW?!?!

Here's an attempt by the BBCAA [BBC Advertising Authority] to use a non-cyclist [default multi-millionairess celeb] presenter, in a foreign country, to test Copenhagen's bicycle hire facilities. No doubt the entire film production team [of several dozen?] were flown over, 1st class, at British TV license payer's expense. Just in case any of them hit the producer for non-provision of a 7 course, hot, packed lunch before returning to their 5 star hotel to rest and recuperate from jet lag.

Yeap, you've guessed it: "Warning! Warning! Emails don't match! Warning! Step away from the bicycle! Warning! Please hand yourself into the nearest police station for attempted cycle theft! Exterminate! Exterminate! This machine will now shut down automatically for three Earth years as an anti-theft measure. Thank you for your patience. Exterminate! Have a nice day! Exterminate!" [Should be read with a thick Dalek accent from the BBCAA's Dr.Who TV series.]

The Danish firm Gobike, which was handed the monopoly contract to supply these eye-wateringly expensive, £5k bikes, subcontracted out to a German manufacture. Which then had a nasty wobble. No doubt from outsourcing to China and 'Lean manufacturing' techniques with the entire staff under the threat of sacking. [Only joking. Such things don't happen in civilised Europe. Do they?] The entire contract is now in danger of failure to supply and existing hire bikes could even be removed from the streets as part of bankruptcy arrangements. No doubt much to the relief of the Danes. Who could never fathom out how to release the machines from their AI locking system!

Here is another video but in Danish this time. Ignore the language and just enjoy the video. The "tester" is an obviously well educated, Danish politician. She shows how difficult and confusing it is to enter all the required details into the bike's computer before it can be ridden away! You'll get the gist despite the language difficulties. And no, you can't vote for her in the upcoming UK elections!

And, on the subject of monopolies and politicians I see the Danish head of the anti-competitive unit at the EU is going after Google for anticompetitive behaviour. Perhaps the same Danish talking head could do something about the obscene monopoly in Danish supermarkets and its massive dairy industry. A retail sector renowned for its incredibly high prices compared with the rest of Europe! I speak as a daily consumer of this monopoly service who also cycles. Just in case you thought I was wobbling even further off-topic.

Still on the subject of bike hire it seems that American bike hire companies are setting a maximum weight for hirers at 260lbs. That's about 18.5 stone or 118kg. Or, if you have to ask: You're too heavy! Now I'm wondering if there's a sensor in the bike seat to protect the machine. Will a speaker with a robotic voice say "Ouch!" Nah, they would probably sue for hurt feelings and bankrupt New York, or the US Treasury, or something.

My walk proved to be an eye watering experience despite the supposed protection of the cycling sunglasses. It must have been blowing a steady 25-30mph with 35-40mph gusts forecast yet again. I saw my first male Goldfinch of the year plus a pair of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers in the woods. Later I spotted a large, multicoloured fox in the spray tracks of a field and watched it through my binoculars. The wind was not in my favour and it must have sensed I was there because it turned and ambled away behind a hump.

My eyes were watering again when I arrived home. I found the morons neighbours were having another household rubbish bonfire on their lawn directly upwind of our house. Just to add to their idiocy they had a washing line full of clothes just downwind. I'm all for care in the community but why don't the desk jockeys who arrange these things choose their own neighbourhoods for these experiments in social friction? It's no wonder the Americans are so in favour of guns! I wouldn't dare own one with neighbours like ours! Though I might be tempted by a grenade launcher if one comes up in a [Danish monopoly] supermarket special offer. I could always claim I was aiming for their house and the occupants were just collateral. I just hope the supermarket has plenty of ammo to go with the toys!

I have decided it's no use my trying to be funny with this guy riding fast and loose while recycling the English language:
Bike Snob NYC

It was no day for a longer ride with the wind roaring in the trees and blowing me about. I was often struggling to maintain a straight line against the crosswind. No problem on a country lane but I was riding a two lane main road with fast traffic and no cycle lane. Coming back I climbed a steep hill into the wind just for the fun of it. The new X-rage [supermarket] cycling jacket was sweaty but completely windproof. That meant I could feel the sweat but was not chilled. As I would certainly have been with a 'normal' breathable cycling jacket. 52F is not hot by any means so it seems the jacket is rather low on breathability. Still handy to have in the bag on those days with unpredictable weather. 13 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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