Clean Air Day

It’s National Clean Air Day today, so I wrote the following letter to my MP.

Hi Ruth,

Congratulations on your re-election to represent the people of Chiswick again. I am extremely concerned about the air pollution situation in this country and the lack of will by the current Government to address this with a cohesive plan.

Therefore I am writing to you, to see if you can help to improve the air locally.

I work at the Barley Mow Centre in your constituency and to get to work each day I cycle through Ealing, Acton and Chiswick. I am dismayed that each day I see a number of drivers of lorries, van and cars sitting by the side of the road with their engines on. Although this may seem like a trivial issue it isn’t from an air quality point of view and it is harming all of us. It is particularly disturbing to see Mothers in the cars with the engine on unnecessarily outside schools adding to the air pollution there.

I think that it is a case of educating people of the dangers – often when I speak to people who are idling their cars they are unaware that it is harmful and unaware that we are in the middle of an air pollution crisis.

I think as a start, a simple education campaign (on social and print media) would be a simple and cost effective start to addressing this very serious problem. I would love to have the opportunity to speak to you about my concerns, or even take you for a little cycle ride around Chiswick so that you can understand the problem.

Thanks for your time,

Darren

There’s also a great flyer about idling here:


PC World Customer Service Problems

Update on the PCWorld DPD eCommerce problems.

25/04/2017 @ 9:30

Soon after I published my blog post about PCWorld’s terrible customer service I started receiving some strange comments on it.

At first, I thought they were a friend messing around with me. So I thought nothing of it but they kept on coming and they were getting more disturbing!

I thought this was quite strange and a little worrying. I ssh’d onto my server and started checking through the Varnish access log.

The following IP address was being used to post the comments.

I searched online to find the IP Address 164.38.32.100 and it came up with the following results:

i.e. that it was owned by Dixons Stores Group, Stevenage. Which means somebody from PC World in the Stevenage store was defacing my blog to get at me!

I also tracked the comments down to articles from David Thorn’s blog http://www.27bslash6.com/frogs.html

At first one of the PC World support agents, Matt Bagshaw, said that he’d sort the misdelivery out and called me to apologise for his company defacing my blog.

I said that I was willing to be patient but three weeks later I still don’t have my Mac Mini and there hasn’t been any compensation or decent apology from the PC World branch in Stevenage that defaced this blog.

When IT goes bad – a story of PCWorld and DPD system failures

Timeline of how PC World and DPD deliveries completely fail their customer.

27/03/2017 @ 10:49

I made an order for 3 items with my PC World business account.
The PC World website did not confirm which delivery address the order would be shipped to.

27/03/2017 @ 10:50

I received the confirmation email from PC World stating an incorrect delivery address.

27/03/2017 @ 10.51

I called PC World to amend the delivery address on the order. PC World said that the order had already been completed and I should contact DPD the following day to change the delivery address

28/03/2017 @ 8.00

I received a message from DPD saying the order would be delivered (to the wrong address) that day. I found that I couldn’t change the delivery address on the DPD App. I called DPD they said they couldn’t change the delivery address.

28/03/2017 @ 8.30

I called PC World and this time they said they could change the delivery address. They said it would be all sorted.

29/03/2017 @ 8.00

I received a notification from DPD that the order would be delivered today. I received a notification from DPD that PCWorld had updated the address of the order. All looked good.

29/03/2017 @ 12.00

I received a notification from DPD that my order would be delivered that day. I contacted DPD via their chat app and by telephone and told them not to deliver as it was the wrong address. DPD confirmed they had seen the notification for the change of address and verbally confirmed they wouldn’t deliver.

29/03/2017 @ 14.16

I receive a notification from DPD to say they have delivered the parcel to the wrong address that they said they wouldn’t deliver.

29/03/2017 @ 15.00

I contact DPD and tell them they need to redeliver. They say they will return and pick up the parcel and return it to PC World.

30/03/2017 @ 13.52

I receive a delivery at the correct address but it only contains two items of the order.

30/03/2017

I contact PC World and DPD and both parties deny responsibility for the miss-delivery. PC World say they will investigate. DPD deny any knowledge of the re-route and re-collection.

31/03/2017 – 18/04/2017

Emails and calls to PC World and met by no response.

18/04/2017

I start using Twitter to engage with PC World support and they start to respond, however, they don’t appear to have any CRM to keep records of the situation. I have to explain everything anew with every contact I make.

In the meantime the order is lost and my company is out of pocket, and my staff are waiting for their equipment that was ordered affecting productivity.

Amazing Chaz F Hill bike

Next up for the Vintage Bikes is the truly stunning Chaz F Hill. There isn’t a lot of information on the internet about Chaz F Hill and they’re not to be confused by the more common Hill Specials. Chaz F Hill were founded in the 19th Century and made lovely steel framed bicycles, the family are still in the bicycle business and are trading as Sidcup Cycles.

Considering this chrome-framed beauty has been in storage for about 20 years (or longer) it has polished up really nicely. I’d love to get hold of a new set of transfers and build it up to cycle it around – I think it will look stunning with a contrasting black Brooks saddle on it. I’ve got no idea what it looked like originally as there isn’t much about them on the internet!

 

The Carbon Cost of Skiing


We love to ski almost as much as we love the environment but there is an obvious conflict between the two. The two factors that most concern us most are the CO2 emissions from the travel and the air pollution from vehicles in the vulnerable mountain regions.

Looking into travelling to Mt Blanc, we found the following:

Mode Flying Train Driving Hybrid Driving Electric
CO2 750kg 50kg 300kg 208kg
Cost £1047 £1400 £103 n/a
Local Emmissions hydrocarbons, CO, NOX, SOX and black carbon No NOx / No particulates reduced NOx / few particulates No NOx / No particulates

Taking the train is the clear winner, apart from when you consider the financial cost which is around £1400 for four people at peak time. The attractive solution would be to go by electric car which would be very cost effective and negate the tailpipe emissions that are causing the air quality issues in the Mt Blanc region.

In conclusion, the only way to significantly limit the impact of our ski holiday on the local environment is to take the train or hire an electric car.

Freddy Grubb Vintage Frame

I have this lovely Freddy Grubb 1950’s 20″ frameset on sale here on Ebay: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/232189955526
It’s in lovely condition, and thanks to the experts who follow these bikes on Ebay, is likely to be a 1951 Perfection with exquisite lugs. As you can see the lug work is stunning and nicely picked out with the lining.

I first heard about Freddy Grubb as he is mentioned in Tim Moore’s book:
Gironimo!: Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy which celebrates the 1914 Giro D’Italia which has the following terrifying statistics:

Longest ever average stage length: 396.25km
Smallest number of finishers: 8
Highest percentage of retirements: 90%
Longest individual stage by distance: 430km, Lucca-Rome
Longest individual stage by time: 19h 34’ 47”, Bari-L’Aquila

Tim Moore rode the same course in 2013 using a bike from the era and shared similar personal pain as the competitors the century before.

Following Freddy Grubb’s Olympic success in 1912, he turned professional and entered the hardest cycle ride ever conceived. He was famously a vegetarian and a teetotaller but this ride was to be his first and last professional ride. After returning from Italy and surviving the first world war in the Navy he set up a cycle shop in Croydon. Freddy’s bio on Classic Lightweights is none too flattering, but there is no denying his cycling and frame-building prowess. Unfortunately, Freddy died in 1949 a couple of years before this frame was made.

Thoughts on Beyond The Flood

After watching Beyond The Flood we came to the conclusion that the world is in dire peril and how we approach this information comes down to the following metaphor: When the Titanic was sinking how did you choose to spend your last 15 minutes? Were you fighting for a place in the lifeboats, hiding in your cabin, jumping into the sea, tapping out the mayday in morse or in the ballroom dancing?

Well, DiCapprio during his discussion with Obama makes the point clear: it would be immoral to stand by and do nothing, or even to party on as if nothing is happening. With this in mind we’ve resolved to make 3 major changes to our lifestyle:

  1. Given that cattle are responsible for 18% of global emissions worldwide we will reduce out beef consumption to 10%.
  2. Our rainforests are being destroyed at the rate of 300 football fields each hour to make way for palm oil production we will attempt to remove unsustainable palm oil from our diet completely.
  3. This is the most important issue of our times and that of our children, we must continue to keep tapping the mayday on the morse code, and tell our friends, family and politicians to do all they can to avert this disaster.

What are you going to do?

Stan Perry frameset

Stan Perry frameset for sale on Ebay here.

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Here’s the only info I can find on Stan Perry – thanks to Yorkey on the Retro Bike Forum here.

I can though tell you a little about Stan Perry and Sudbury Cycle Works, as I worked for Stan at Sudbury Cycle Works 1977 to 1978: it was my first full time job. (And that is why I am so envious of your find: the closest I have to a frame like yours is a (Holdsworth built) Claud Butler Panache, c.1984, which is also in 531ST.)

I spent my school years and a bit more in Harrow, West Middlesex. In 1977 I started looking for a summer job, and walked in to Sudbury Cycle Works, Harrow Road, Wembley. There I met Stan who, after quizzing me a bit about what I knew about bikes and what mechanical experience I had, said yes, that when I was ready, he’d take me on. Characteristic of the man. And so I started in June, working mostly in the workshop, rather than behind the counter, which suited me fine.

I learnt that Stan’s father had started the business – I have always understood – before the First World War. He started out – as so many did then – making frames and assembling machines with mostly commercially available components. The workshop still held quite a bit of equipment from those days, and the shop wasn’t short of a few seriously old bits and pieces. Stan had a nephew who managed the shop, although Stan was in every day and very closely involved (without interfering). The nephew was very good company, and a good sub-boss, but his heart was not in bicycles. There were other lads there too, some part time, some full, and we all learnt heaps. Our week was five and half days, with Wednesday a half day.

Time trials and Sunday rides were the thing of the day, and there was a very good association with – or at least patronage by – the nearby Wembley Phoenix, so we built wheels and generally prepared and set up machines for the weekend – racing and recreational. The Wembley Phoenix were a good bunch.

The notion that Stan’s father started the business before the Great War is I think quite plausible: in 1977 Stan was a few years older than my father who was 53, so Stan, in his late 50s or pushing 60 could well have had a father of the right age. I remember new Stan Perry frames coming in from time to time mostly if not only to order, and after a while I was privileged to build up some of them. But – and this is probably one of THE questions you may have – I don’t know who was building the frames in the 70s.

I left Harrow in 1979, and fairly soon after, but I can’t remember even the year, a former neighbour contacted me to say that Stan had died. A little later I was in the area and called into the shop where Brian was still running things, but he said that it wouldn’t be for much longer – and it wasn’t!

So, seeing your frameset is a true delight, and you have prompted me to save a search on eBay in the hope that I may find one for myself.

I wish I could interpret or even just verify the frame number, but the truth is I can’t. Without the leads from other posts suggesting that the 71 refers to 1971, I would have suggested mid to late 70s based on style and fittings. I agree that it is unlikely to have been repainted – and I don’t know of anyone making Stan Perry decals, which substantiates that idea. So any dating from the Reynolds decal could help, but appears to be a bit of a contradiction as Stan died in 80 or 81, and very few frames were produced even in my time, never mind in the late 70s or after his death.

I like your ideas for building it up – not unlike how I did the Claud Butler: Campag Victory groupset, Mavic Module E2 rims, Cinelli stem, bars and tape, Brooks Professional saddle, Sun Tour New Winner six speed block and Sedisport chain – all as close to period as I could get.

So good luck with it, and happy riding.

It’s for sale on Ebay here.