Thursday, October 22, 2009

Royal Mail's one-man competitor

As biblical levels of rain pour down on Plymouth's streets, Ken Holder still manages to have a smile on his soaked face as he cycles though the deluge with a heavy rucksack of post on his back.

He's been working since 7.30 in the morning, and won't stop until 7.30 at night, riding up and down the Devon city's notoriously steep roads collecting and delivering mail.

And while Royal Mail workers are beginning a two-day nationwide strike, Mr Holder, 39, will definitely still be working.

This is because Mr Holder is one of Royal Mail's 29 competitors, and with just one member of staff - himself - he is its smallest rival.

There is only one problem for firms or individuals thinking of switching from the Royal Mail to his services - his company, City Centre Curriers, currently only collects and delivers across three Plymouth postcodes.

In business as a courier since September of last year, Mr Holder has been in competition with the Royal Mail since March, when he was awarded a licence by postal service regulator Postcomm.

The way this works is that anyone can set themselves up as a courier firm to deliver parcels, but if you wish to deliver standard letters - those weighing 350 grams or less - you need a postal licence from Postcomm.

Armed with his licence, Mr Holder now collects, sorts and delivers 200 letters per day on average, compared with the Royal Mail's 95 million items.

But while Mr Holder is currently not likely to be giving Royal Mail bosses sleepless nights, he does have plans to grow the business.

'Word of mouth'

"Applying for a license was surprisingly easy," he says. "The application fee was only £50, and it didn't take much longer than a month.

"The license is UK-wide, but as the business is essentially just me and my bike, I don't have the legs - or the time - to deliver outside of Plymouth."

Mr Holder now collects and delivers the local mail for 12 companies in Plymouth, ranging from solicitors to estate and travel agents, and a roofing firm.

For standard-sized letters he charges 32 pence for guaranteed next day delivery, which compares with 39p for a first class stamp with the Royal Mail.

"Business is growing slowly through word of mouth," he says. "And enquiries have certainly grown in recent weeks as more and more companies are concerned about the Royal Mail strike action."

Environmentally friendly

Back in Plymouth, Mr Holder admits he does get tired.

"It's a great job for me, as I have always been an avid cyclist, but I am shattered at the end of the week - I'm cycling 250 miles each five days, and burning 15,000 calories more than a normal person," he says.

"The bonus is that I can eat pretty much what I want."

To help ease the workload, Mr Holder now employs a student one afternoon a week to help with the collections, and his longer term plan is to consider franchising the business in other cities.

"Some people have told me I should buy a van, but I think a large part of the attraction for customers is that it is just me and my bike - it's as environmentally friendly as possible.

"I'm currently earning between £60 and £70 per day, which isn't a lot, but it is still early days.

"There is the odd day I question my sanity, but I really believe the business has a lot of potential, especially as more firms explore alternatives to the Royal Mail."

Source: BBC News by Will Smale/ Plymouth

Monday, October 19, 2009's that time again!!

The OCBC Cycle Singapore 2010 will be held on 6 & 7 March 2010 started from the F1 Pit Building near the Singapore Flyers, and ride around the City of Singapore.

This year I will participate in the 40km Individual! Yes...I am racing this time riding my slow 'touring-spec' folding bike against the super high tech pinarellos, colnagos, orbeas, trekkies, against the lance & contador wannabes, against the ironmen, and hundreds of cycling enthusiast like me, etc.. Ahh..I wouldn't miss it for the world!!

Last year I rode the 20km community ride, but was so 'kiasu' racing at the front of the pack with bunch of other kiasus. It was kinda fun to ride on empty roads when you are at the front but it was too quick (47 mins to be exact) to really enjoy the ride. So, this year, No More Kiasu, I will do the 40km race against the 'real' racers! ha ha ha!!

To those who are interested in this event kindly visit the site.

Like Pro Cyclists, Children Should Wear Helmets

It was easy to pick out Lance Armstrong at the Tour de France this year, especially from an aerial view, as his helmet was unique and stylish. But that is really not why he wears it. Fabio Casatelli’s fatal bicycle crash of the 1995 Tour de France is just an example of how helmets can save lives.

The UCI now mandates the professional rider wear helmets from the start to the finish of a race, yet there is no federal law-requiring cyclist to wear helmets. Many states require the use of bike helmets for children younger than 18 years old. Regrettably, this is rarely enforced. Although I make my kids wear bike helmets, I’m guilty of passing neighborhood children that are bicycling on the road without a helmet, and say nothing.

Swine flu is a major health concern as it has caused 76 child related deaths in the US since April of this year. However, is just one quarter of the yearly child related deaths to bicycle injuries of which most are due to head trauma. Yet look at the publicity the swine flu gets.

Apparently we cannot leave it up to the government or the parents to strictly enforce children wearing bike helmets. So I would like to commend the Professional Cycling agencies for leading this effort. Mostly, I would like to congratulate the Professional Cyclist for wearing their helmets with a flourish. Hopefully this will encourage the young riders to grab a helmet and “buckle up”. Thanks Guys!

Source: Team Radioshack Cycling News- by Rebecca Jackson, MD- staff writer

Friday, October 16, 2009

Extreme Mountain Biking

Sports Videos, News, Blogs

AHh..great stuff!

source: fandome

One angry biker..

Source: reddit

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nutrition: Boost your recovery

Recovery is the often-forgotten part of training. It’s in the periods between training sessions that the body repairs itself and, more importantly, adapts from the training you’ve just done. Nutrition plays a vital role in how the body recovers and adapts from training.

There are two nutrients essential to recovery – carbohydrate and protein. During exercise, carbohydrate acts as the main energy source and the body’s small carbohydrate stores often become depleted.

When this happens, the body is put under a lot of stress and those carb stores need to be quickly restored. The first hour or so after exercise is the optimal time to restore these.

Protein plays a major role in allowing the muscles to regenerate, repair and adapt. After undertaking hard exercise, damage is often done to the muscles. Protein is essential for them to recover. Protein also allows the body to adapt to the training by providing the fuel to build new enzymes and muscle fibres.

Source: Dr Kevin Currell, Triathlon Plus

Even cycling at relaxed pace is good for health

Wellington, Oct 12 : A new study has found that if New Zealanders increased their cycling to the modest levels of the 1980s, their health would improve significantly.

Commuters need not ride their cycles as in the Hayden Roulston-style medal-winning sprint in lycra, but at just a relaxed pace, to gain full health benefits.

Research fellow Dr Graeme Lindsay and colleagues studied the likely effects of shifting 5 per cent of urban light-vehicle trips of 7km or less to cycling and found savings in fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions.

They also found that more than five lives would be saved through reduced air pollution from vehicles, and if there were more bikes, the “safety-in-numbers” effect progressively reduced the cycling death rate.

But the biggest health effect would be through the reduced rate of conditions like heart attack and cancer among commuter cyclists and the kilos of body fat shed.

All that pedalling would burn up the equivalent amount of energy of 40 million cans of Coke, a potential fat loss of 675,000kg, and 116 deaths would be saved by improved health.

The calculations come from a paper prepared by Auckland University researchers for the New Zealand Transport Agency.

The agency is guided by the New Zealand Transport Strategy, whose aim is that by 2040, 30 per cent of urban trips are made by bike, on foot or other “active modes” of travel.

The paper relies on World Health Organisation estimates based on large studies, which indicate mortality from all causes was reduced by 30 per cent among regular adult commuter cyclists.

“The studies, from Denmark and China, found consistently fewer deaths than expected from cardiovascular diseases and cancers, and reported this finding could not be explained by recreational activities or other lifestyle factors,” the New Zealand Herald quoted the paper as saying.

“In New Zealand, bicycles are now seldom used for commuting. Overall, bicycling makes up about 1 per cent of all trips in this country compared to 3.6 per cent in 1989/90.

“In contrast, some northern European countries have figures of 20 to 30 per cent,” it stated.

Source: photo from

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Let's Bike!

Cycling is healthy and 'green,' but city commuting requires a roads rethink

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama could have made a stronger impact at the United Nations Summit on Climate Change in New York last week had he trumpeted another environmentally laudable proposal in addition to his declared goal of Japan cutting its greenhouse-gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020: riding bicycles.

A national push for bicycle riding, if it succeeded in steering people away from their cars, would send a powerful message that Japan is taking environmental awareness to the next level.

Cycling burns no oil, produces no toxins and is therefore not harmful for the environment. If more people commuted to work by bicycle, it would make rush-hour trains less unbearable. It would even help cut the nation's medical expenditures by making people healthier, less obese and less prone to a whole range of lifestyle-related illnesses.

Despite these great benefits of cycling — not to mention the pleasure of pedaling along at your own pace, too — bike-friendly politicians are rare in Japan. Rare, that is, except during election campaigns, when pretty much every candidate rides a flag-fluttering bicycle to advertise his or her "ordinariness."

But on a grassroots level, Japan is definitely at the dawn of a new era in cycling, with increasing numbers of city dwellers now starting to use bikes for 5- to 10-km commutes or for recreation in the suburbs on weekends.

While hard statistics are difficult to come by, besuited cyclists jostling with cars and trucks and indicating their intended maneuvers with smart hand signals are an increasingly common sight on even the busiest of Tokyo's roads. On weekends, meanwhile, such routes as the 25-km Tamagawa River Cycling Road, which connects Tokyo's residential Setagaya Ward and Kawasaki, in Kanagawa Prefecture southwest of Tokyo, are often crowded with cyclists on fashionable and colorful bikes enjoying a leisurely and scenic ride.

To read further, click here.

Source: The Japan Times Online/ by Tomoko Otake

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tips of the day

This is one of the most practical tips that I have learned, practised and always pass it on to other cyclist-

"Always quickly change to lower/smaller gear before you stop your bike. This is to ensure that you are in easy gear before you starting out again"

When starting out and you are using the clipless pedal (e.g SPD), you will need to push the pedal with one leg so that the bike will move forward before you insert the cleat of the other leg into the other pedal. And you can only easily push the pedal when the gear is low. How low is the gear is really depends on your preference.

The common mistakes by the novice rider is that they try to push the pedal in high/big gear. And when they are out of balance and unable to insert the cleat, the fall down.

Go try it yourself and you'll see that this is very useful.

source: photo from

Andreas Kloden joins 'The Shack'

Seem like Andreas Kloden is set to join Lance Amrstrong & 'The Shack' (previously known as 'RadioShack'). Being one of the best 'team rider', with Leipheimer & Zubeldia, it shows that Lance really wants his No.8! Maybe Contador is stronger but he will be better prepared this time.

With Johan, Ekimov as sportif directors and maybe Popovych & Landis joining him too, I guess, Team 'The Shack' is a reunion of Team US Postal Service!

source: Team Radioshack Cycling News


Just got my brand new pannier which I recently bought from wiggle. It's ALTURA DRYLINE 56, a waterproof rear pannier with 56 litre capacity.

Pannier is (in my opionion) the most important bike accessories (with rear rack) for a bike tourist like me to have. I need to carry stuff when touring, so the best option is to carry it in the bag and hang it on the rear/ front rack.

What I like about this bag is that it it better looking than other waterproof panniers, it has small pocket with organizer, lighter construction, rubber pads at bottom & sufficient reflectors. I have been using altura bags for at least 5 years until now, so I know it is a reliable bags for bike tour. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with shoulder strap like my 'old' altura panniers have.

And to get this bag is not easy. You can't just buy it off shelves anywhere but in UK. So I bought it online. And buying it via online means expensive shipping charges!

With this brand new panniers, I guess, I will have to start planning for my next tour. Probably in December as I already got my leave application approved by my company. Great!

source: photo from

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