Welcome to the online diary of the “London Ziegs,” as they journal their experiences relocating from the balmy climes of sunny Orlando, Florida to the more chaotically cosmopolitan environment of London, UK!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Britain By Bicycle

Some of the things the kids most looked forward to receiving, as part of the furniture shipment from the U.S., were the family bicycles. (Technically, three old bikes; we gave away Christopher's old bike before leaving Florida, promoted him to Jonathan's old bike, then got Jonathan a new bike in the U.K. for his birthday.)

Although they honestly hadn't seen much use of late in Kissimmee ("Neptune bike path? Seen it"), our new Maidenhead world of public transport and people-power prompted a significant and soul-searching re-evaluation of the magic inherent in those six deceptively simple machines:
  1. wheel-and-axle: keeps you rolling even when you're not pedaling!
  2. lever: 6" arm between the pedals and the chain-axle makes for a soft, easy push
  3. gears: smoothly scale your effort to the terrain
  4. pulley: effortlessly transfers power from pedals to drivewheel
  5. screw: threaded cap keeps the air in your tyres
  6. inclined plane: makes skate-parks go fast!
We had our first family bike-outting this weekend, when we took the Green Way nature path up to Cookham, the next town to the north. It was only a couple of miles, including some rather muddy terrain (which had turned to a frozen January slush), which was more than made up for by the gorgeous scenery (videos to come!)

The main obstacles we encountered were some truly odd welded-steel gates, which had holes cut-out in the shape of a bicycle's cross-section, presumably to allow you to (with much effort and swearing) wiggle a bicycle through, yet block the average sheep or goat; humans were provided an equally bizarre twisting staircase of steel plates which might be climbed with some difficulty.

I don't know if, as with beds and shoes, U.K. bikes just naturally come in different sizes than the American counterparts, but there was no way my bike was going to fit through those little keyholes, so I ended up just tossing it over each new fence. If that wasn't enough, one pedal fell off on the final approach to Cookham; finger-tightening the nut didn't hold it; and although I had thought ahead far enough to pack the correct-sized wrench, I didn't think to make it a socket-wrench that could reach into beveled enclosures :-(

Anyway, the venture provided for a good ride out, some great scenery, and a pleasant enough walk back. We let the kids lead on the return leg, with the result that we came home by a rather different approach than the trip out, including an unplanned detour past Christopher's new school (which I had wanted to see anyway!)

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