Monthly Archives: November 2012

Updates on the Training

Training is going pretty well. I’m slowly making appreciable improvements that are becoming noticeable each week. I am finding that I am lasting much longer on high RPM sprints than I previously did.

The acquisition of a portable USB fan that plugs into a portable USB power supply is clearly helping to keep me generally cool. This fan is mounted on top of the handlebars in a ‘secure’ fashion using my key lanyard  to tie it into place. This provides a gentle refreshing breeze that does enhance comfort during the entirety of the session.

As a result, I have not been afraid to push myself harder without the suffering of becoming unbearably sweaty. This reduces the amount of water I need to drink, which as a consequence makes it less likely that I will suffer leg cramps from an imbalance of salt.

Additionally it has reduced the amount of water that collects in the salt puddle below the bike.

Background research on Globalisation

Over the past week in my spare time, I’ve been attempting to read up some books to help support my ideas towards the research side of the project. This has led me to a neat stack of books on the side on my desktop.

I have so far managed to read through four of these, which considering I’m not a particularly quick reader is a reasonable effort.  Throughout the reading process, I am compiling notes that have poignancy. This is quite a tedious and lengthy process but does help to carefully think about the points made within the books. Inconsequentially these notes are very rough, littered with spelling mistakes and hasn’t yet been compiled into more easily digestible structured form.
The notes I have compiled so far are available for access on Google Docs.
Small is Beautiful – The Study of economics as if people mattered, E.F. Schumacher
Creative Destruction – How Globalization is changing the World’s Cultures, Tyler Cowen:
Business within limits - Deep Ecology and Buddhist Economics, Laszlo Zolnai, Knut Johannessen Ims

Next topic I plan to research – ‘Geographic Mobility’

One area that I am interested in reading more about is ‘Geographic Mobility’. This is the concept where by the shift of locality for the production of goods from one geographical area to another on the basis of optimising resource consumption, increasing efficiency,  or other factors such as taking advantage of areas with reduced legislation, better opportunities for less-expensive unskilled workers.
 This inadvertently creates a strain in communities and areas from the migration and relocation of workers. Consequences include the increase of house prices, but can improve quality of life irrespectively. The idea of opportunity is attractive force for attracting new skill sets, businesses, cultures and produce diversification social space that can change behaviour within a community.
The question is trying to locate any books associated with this in the Warwick University Library, this could be tricky.

The wheels have arrived

Living without a bicycle is like living in the dark ages. There is simply no going back and  for the past years I have been taking such a necessity for granted.

Finally today I was able to pick up the my new two wheels for the training bike. At the time, this pair of Mavic Askium 2012 for £135 from MerlinCycles, which to be fair arrived quickly. In fact they were received yesterday but due to the postal system at Warwick I had to wait a further day.

This was quite a significant investment on a student budget – you could probably buy three second hand bikes for the equivalent price. Nevertheless, its sometimes necessary to pay for quality. Buying two wheels was also slightly more expensive, however, an equivalent single wheel works out to be less cost effective.

It’s surprising at the advancement made in the quality and technical details incorporated into the wheel compared to the originals that came with the bike. In particular the aero spokes improve aesthetics considerably and the quality of the hubs are beyond what I am used to seeing . The rolling resistance seems lower, but perhaps that’s a placebo effect. Still my comparison could be justified by my adamant view that my previous wheel hubs wear worn due to a weird creaking noise when you spun them at a slow speed.

This finally means I can push hard with a good training session tomorrow and make up for some lost days.

Training too hard…

Training continues on, nearly approaching the second week in and I’m still going which I am already impressed with. Already I am noticing a definite improvement in performance – it would help more if I had more recovery time.

Yesterday, I further commited to a 3 hour training session in Sports Center, despite a rough morning. Having the opportunity to watch different sports in the Desso hall was interesting too, but two hours in my legs were suffering. Cranking up the volume for the songs helped a lot and I still find it impressive that music can make you dig for effort that you never knew existed.
Later that evening I took the bicycle out again. Suddenly my bike veared out of control. I was lucky I hadn’t fallen off. Something was clearly wrong. I looked down at my wheel and it was buckled. Feeling two loose spokes, I was worried, but then I noticed two gaping holes.
I had managed to pull the spokes through the rims of the wheels. Perhaps it’s all this new found strength, or probably just the wheels failed after suffering so much over the past year.
The end result was a 15 minute walk back home and this morning ordering a new set of Mavic Aksium Wheels. Hopefully it will bring some bling to the bike and make the bike last for a few more years.

Learning from our past mistakes

Most of my previous efforts in planning and organisation for previous adventure project s despite perhaps looking organised on the skin were fairly ad-hoc. This was especially problematic in the sponsorship/fundraising area. My excuse is time and in my last adventure, having to engineer my travel didn’t help. Nevertheless, I look back and think that I could have addressed potential sponsors better and focused on companies who would have been serious.

Hopefully this time, I can approach this more systematically. Luckily I stumbled across a nice resource provided by the Royal Geographical Society:
These are taken from their Expedition Handbook. Suprisingly these are quite useful to help think about what the purpose and the objectives are for achieving an expedition. A few poignant notes that I would like to share:

What is the purpose?

  • An expedition should have a clear concise statement that explains the overall aim
  • Include supporting objectives
  • Have a meanginful purpose
  • We can make observations, but how can these observations be used to benefit society as a whole?

Gaining Sponsors:

  • Avoid the ‘scatter-gun’ approach, focus attention on companies who can directly and easily benefit from this project. It saves your time.
  • Don’t assume that the company will use this for promoting themselves and their products externally – it can be a vehicle for internal use
  • Don’t overstate what you can offer. Instead under promise and during the expeidtion over-achieve and exceed their expectations.
  • Avoid ‘Dear Sir or Madam’. Be specific to whom you apply – if you don’t know find this out.
  • Try to contact the Managing or Marketing Director who have vision to see how this expedition will be useful to their company.
  • Constantly thank and re-assure the sponsors.
Looking at this, I feel that I need to think more carefully about what I want to achieve and deliver. Travelling around the world in a rickshaw and pickup passengers is quirky enough already, but in terms of making this a research expedition more needs to be considered.

The beginning of serious training.

Unlike previous challenges and adventures that I have been, I have not actually undergone a strict and regular training regime. It even suprises me still. But with the possibility of having to pull three passengers (210kg) plus the weight of a  rickshaw and luggage, it seems like a very good idea to begin some serious consistent training atleast a year in advance.

Last week I was given permission to use my turbo trainer in the Warwick Sports Center.  So finally last Monday, I could begin the serious cycle training to build up some serious strength for this world trip.

Normally I do prefer a good cycle in the fresh air of the countryside, but this isn’t possible under the constraints of time. For training to be worthwhile, I find I need a strenuous session within the time space of 1-2 hours. However, pushing yourself to the point where you would collapse and gasping for air is certainly not possible on car filled roads.

Last week I had three sessions throughout the week, the first lasted two hours and the other two were over a hour. This week for now I’ve only had two sessions but were well over two hours long and each day after has been a struggle to move my legs.

I seriously hope to keep this up. World Rickshaw Taxi is worth fighting for and pushing myself to points of collapsing. Despite fatigue, I’ve come out of these training sessions feeling stronger and better for the long difficult journey that lies before me.

First Post for World Rickshaw Taxi

It’s taken many weeks of thought and scraping ideas together along with some research, but I finally came to my senses that such a dream I’ve had for the past two years is possible. I have always envisaged travelling the world after leaving the University, but didn’t feel satisfied that flying or even just cycling around was really enough. I’m always looking for something new and different and perhaps this is it.

Why o why this way?

What I realised was the best part of my previous adventures was the people I encoutnered along the way. This was especially prominent when I tackled the Great Bathtub Adventure  last summer, where I must have met hundreds of friendly curious people along the way. It made my journey and it became apparent I needed to think differently. Travelling in a rickshaw seems like the perfect idea despite its inpracticalities but atleast this time around I can actually sleep on the backseats!

So where am I now?

I’ve spent the past three weeks putting a website and other materials together in my spare time amongst other University work and training. Mornings usually start no later than 8:30AM and finish at 1AM – considerably not a bad effort for a student. This is the only start and it will take further refinement to get it to the level where I’m fully satisfied.

There is still tons more work to do till I am satsified with the website but I am happy where I’ve got so far. Quite soon I will have the very hard task of finding sponsors to make this project happen. That’s when things will get tough and when days blur together.