Friday, 21 October 2011

Waitrose bike trailer review

My local Waitrose hires bike trailers so I took the plunge and used one for my fortnightly shop. (Link includes list of branches which offer this)

It was simple. I booked the trailer the day before from the Welcome Desk. Today I scanned in my shopping as I went round the store with the Quick Check system to simplify life. Back at the desk I paid, filled in the rental agreement (hire is free) and one of the staff helped me fix the trailer to my bike. Bags into the trailer (loads of room - it will hold a small trolley worth), and after a trial run around the car park, it was ho for the open road!

A British design, the Bike Hod trailer was well-behaved, easy to tow the 3 miles home.

Despite the large relative size of the trailer, my bike stayed in charge

Not wishing to re-enact Last of the Summer Wine, I walked down the hill!

In fact the biggest drama was getting the trailer up the stairs to my flat - it’s built to just fit the British Standard doorway (who knew there was such a thing?)

Verdict: A great free scheme which I'll be using again

Bike maps - but I know where everything is!

‘Why do I need a bike map? - I know where everything is’

Bike maps for Bedford and Central London
A lightbulb went on in the first couple of days of cycling again - cycle maps show you where the quiet bits are, so you can connect together the places you want to get to. You need to re-programme your internal map from the frantic or clogged roads familiar from the car - that’s what the bike map is for.

You might even find unexpected gems behind the ugly main streets - I passed these houses in Wootton
Beautiful backstreets
Download city bike maps or plan your route at cyclestreets (this even gives you the calories you'll burn!

City Cycling by Richard Ballantine

This was £3 well spent - even life-changing!

The book caught my eye in Oxfam in Marylebone High Street - I'd read his brilliant Richard's Bike Book in my teens. Once more his enthusiasm is infectious as he takes you buying a bike, updates you on the technology and types of ride available, and reminds you how to cycle in traffic.

The maintenance section is shorter than in the original - once all bike makers did things in a pretty similar way, now there are too many permutations and combinations to cover in a small volume. The basics of setting up your bike for a comfortable ride, cable adjustment and puncture repair are still here though.

Above all, the book has you itching to get out there on two wheels again - I have and I can't tell you how happy it's made me. Richard is a great guide - why not see for yourself?