September 1, 2019 at 13:27 | Posted in bicycles | 1 Comment
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I don’t get punctures any more. Truly. Punctures are a thing other people get – mostly people running silly narrow lightweight tyres at high pressures. Run 32mm, heavy-duty tyres at 85psi, and you will not get punctures.

Well, actually that’s not quite true. You might get one if you don’t replace the tyre when it is worn out. As the tyre gets very thin, you risk of punctures goes up. And as I tend to run my tyres until they are pretty much disintegrating, this does sometimes happen to me.

And so it did, and I got a puncture. So I bought the necessary ingredients, and fixed it all up. Hurrah.



Broke Spoke

January 16, 2015 at 13:12 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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spokeI’ve been riding bicycles for a long time – since I was about four, I suppose, although there was a fairly long hiatus when I was in my twenties and early thirties. And, remarkably, in all that time, I’d never broken a spoke.

Others I know seem to face this as a perennial problem. They break spokes if not daily, then quite often. I see people talking in revered tones about certain master wheelbuilders who can build ‘bombproof’ wheels that finally rid them of the scourge of the broken spoke.

Well, I’ve been riding all sorts of cheap, mass-produced wheels for ever, and never had a spoke break. So when it happened on the way home yesterday, I initially didn’t know what had happened. There was a ping, and then some scraping, and then a ting ting sound as the wheel went round, and it got really hard to pedal. I assumed I’d got something jammed in the wheel, so it took me a while to realise what the problem was.

So what should I do now? I had no idea. So I lashed the broken spoke to it’s neighbour with a piece of wire (that’s why it looks so bent; I was wedging it in place), released the brake calipers (the wheel had gone wonky and out of true, and it was thing rubbing on the brakes that was making it hard to pedal) and carried on my merry way.

Hey ho. A first time for everything. Hopefully I won’t see another broken spoke for, oh, about thirty-five more years?

Wagon Wheel Double Choc

July 26, 2011 at 12:30 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
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Here’s a thing you might not know about Wagon Wheels. You can’t flush them down the toilet. I know this because when my mother was small, she was given a Wagon Wheel at a party, and she was too polite to say that she didn’t like them at all. So she took it, and them attempted to dispose of it by flushing it away. Flush after frantic flush, the Wagon Wheel kept floating back into view in the bowl, as my mother attempted to hide the evidence of her ingratitude.

I never did find out what happened in the end, but evidently it scarred her for life, as she never bought Wagon Wheels for us when we were kids.

Nowadays, there are more varieties on offer, of course – such as Mini Wagon Wheels, and the Double Choc version – which we shall look at here. I have not looked at the flushability of the modern Wagon Wheel, however, as it seemed like the waste of a rather good biscuit, so apologies if you were hoping to see a video re-enactment of my mother’s shame.

The Double Choc moniker is actually quite understated, and shows admirable restraint on the part of Arnott’s biscuiteers. For the Double Choc Wagon Wheel contains no less than four choc components – the chocolate-flavour coating, choc marshmallow, a thin scrape of choc fudge and, to top it off, choc flavoured biscuits. Perhaps Arnott’s should re-launch them as ‘Quadruple Choc’.

The ‘choc’ part is important, as no self-respecting Wagon Wheel contains any actual chocolate. No, as the pack proudly proclaims, they are legendary since 1952, and back in those days chocolate hadn’t been invented – so instead various other substances were used to create the chocolate flavour.

However, the Double Choc version of the Wagon Wheel is quite different to its conventional brethren. The regular one is a symphony of choc flavour, stale biscuit, weird mallow stuff and artificial jam – and is really exceptionally good. The Double Choc one, however, is quite different. The biscuit is far more crunchy, and the mallow more conventional. And they really do taste chocolatey – a bit like a chocolate desert, perhaps one of those ‘death by chocolate’ things you get in low-class eateries.

It’s not really what you expect, but it is quite good – the spirit of Wagon Wheel still shines through, but the Double Choc version stands tall, delivering its own, modern interpretation of Wagon Wheel-ness. I’m going to give these seven out of ten.

Mini Wagon Wheels

October 26, 2010 at 17:03 | Posted in biscuits | 2 Comments
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The Wagon Wheel is a biscuit that has an international heritage. They were first baked by Westons in the UK;  when old Mr Weston died his three sons took over the business – one took the UK part, one the Australian and the other the Canadian. Subsequently Westons Australia were taken over by Arnotts. Interestingly the Australian full-sized Wagon Wheels are larger than the UK model (at 88mm vs 74mm). Perhaps this large size is what inspired Arnott’s to create the ‘mini’ version at just 54mm across.

The Wagon Wheel is a classic. It features a thin chocolate-flavour coating, a sort of stale biscuit, foamy mallow and cheap red-coloured jam. Really not a very prepossessing set of component parts. However, when they are combined, something magical happens; they meld together in some sort of quantum union that makes the whole thing a triumph.

Not everyone agrees, of course; they are a divisive biscuit that you either love or hate. I’m in the ‘love’ camp, however, and highly recommend everyone try them. It’s just one of those things you should do at least once in your life. I’d give these an eight out of ten.

PS My apologies for the poor quality of photography in some recent entries. I take the pictures for this site with my phone, and I have a new ever-so-up-to-date model that is far superior to the old one. Or so the guy in the shop says. That superiority does not appear to extend to the ability to take an in-focus picture, however…

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