Monthly Archives: December 2012

Meeting Old and New Acquaintances

One of my main aims with World Rickshaw Taxi is to promote understanding and awareness about our changing world by presenting my journey around the world through this blog and of course on the website by the fabulous medium of the internet and mobile technology.

Pursuing a degree in  Mechanical Engineering hasn’t left my passion in this subject area to fade; consequently I have taken to travelling and discovering the world and its people for myself. At secondary school, I was passionate about geography and understanding the social and cultural relationship between people and geography. I somehow managed to be the top five students in my GCSE Exams for the country. Perhaps it was the very lengthy coursework that studied housing in Beverley, or most likely it were the great and enthusiastic teachers at Howden School.

It means a great deal to give the opportunity for young students to get involved and what a better way of doing this is getting my former secondary school involved – Howden Senior School, East Yorkshire. Given especially young students are more receptive to understanding about our World it seems a good fit for participating with the school. My intention is to share with them a more ‘raw’, real perspective of the geography I travel through but also the people I meet.

It had been over 5 years since I last stepped through the front doors of the school. Such a long time ago I didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully it’s great to see so many of the teachers I remember being there and having an opportunity to reminisce the old days.

After I arriving, I met with Andrew Mason who leads the Geography Department and we had a good discussion on the route and we though up some very interesting ideas for getting the students involved and linking this into their lessons. What we wanted to encourage was prompting students to make their own questions to people that I will meet along the way.

I hope to return sometime in the new year and update them on where I currently am.

 

Heading to the University of York:

Later in the week I went to York University to the visit the Environment Department and two academics, to get guidance on my research aims. It was an interesting process, slightly intimidating trying to further explain what I aim to discover. Trying to construct any form of research objective with one specific question is difficult, perhaps unreasonable considering the number of countries travelled through and the open nature of this project. It would also feel very wrong to ask specific questions to each passenger. At this point, it hit a low point.

Looking at research from a different perspective:

One of the academics basis his teaching on Sociology research methods and his particular area of interest is ‘Mobility’ – conducting research in a less formative and qualitative way that implicitly gains data or observations from participants by their own motivation. He further clarified his motivation for his involvement and would be enthusiastic in supporting me if I channelled my energy into this area of study. This area of study is apparently on the cutting edge.

Focusing in this area would give me more flexibility, however it was affirmed that a focus and an expectation to what I wanted to discover during this would be important. Having a ‘theme’ that is interest to me and encouraging the passengers to relate to this intrinsically is what will produce meaningful results to analyse following my world journey.

Further exclaimed that focusing on the theme of technology and placing an inter-disciplinary approach into this would produce something valuable. Technology doesn’t have to be specific:

For example:

One of the passengers may be really proud of a new television set. Whether they say this in English, or perhaps pointing at it or getting them to take a photo it’s implies the importance of this item to them.

Empowering the participant:

By encouraging the passengers to share what they want to share and perhaps encouraging them to do so, it produces a genuine response that can later be analysed and  form comparisons both socially and of course geography. It is an interesting combination of  academic interests.

Jim Goldberg, a photographer looked at the close relationships in families in San Francisco capturing a sample of backgrounds. He instructed the subjects a comment below:

anthro2

antro

This is what I aim to capture on the World Rickshaw Taxi. Not exporting media and presenting my own interpretation to its meaning. It’s presenting what matters to themselves that is important.

Looking from the point of an engineer we can look at the immediate impact of its introduction into an area – in particular through statistics, usage rate and so on. Yet if our demeanour devalues their role in this technology – we can only make guesses of how valuable this technology really is to the community. There is an interesting case study on the introduction of stoves in developing countries to reduce wood consumptions that touches on this issue.

 

Route Itinerary for the World Rickshaw Taxi

Over the past week, I have been spending frivolously most of my time planning the rough route itinerary for the World Rickshaw Taxi to support some grant applications to support funding. However, it was good opportunity to work the finer details of this great logistical challenge of covering such a huge distance, over the time under the strict visa requirement and application process in some countries. It also helped narrow down some countries and areas that I would like to visit, but simply would conflict with Visa requirements. What this boils down to…

16 000 Miles. 1 1/2 Years

The overall journey I anticipate taking over a year and half, mainly based on covering an average 30 miles days of the base route. In fact I will be doing more by taking passengers to their required destinations. It is merely to keep a schedule so I don’t get in trouble – namely fines or perhaps imprisonment in a filthy jail.

Continue reading

A broken chain and dodgy derailleur (Update):

A broken chain and dodgy derailleur:

Over the past month, I have been found that my road bike that I used for training was struggling to keep up. Often the chain was slipping, falling off or simply jumping. This became especially annoying on my cycle to Gloucester a few weeks back – meaning I had to keep in a low gear on hills, otherwise I’d come to a standstill just like my episode of walking around a busy roundabout.

I eventually discovered that my chain was twisted along not helped by being encrusted in rust. Also I felt that I needed to make a replacement to the Front Dérailleur, which for the whole lifetime of this bike has been giving me grief being very stiff.

At the end of last week I fitted the new parts at a modest cost and as a result the gears shift much better, but still need some tweaks as I found out today.

Update:

After taking the bike out for a spin, I found that the chain was slipping on the large front cog. It took quite a while to realise that the cog had become too worn for the newer chain. Looking at all options trying to get a new chain ring seems difficult to find in stock (in the right colour) and expensive. Depending whether other chainrings can be substitued, it seems a hard task and is especially frustrating.

Having to deal with this during term isn’t great, therefore I have decided I will be returing back to Warwick on my brother’s bike that I gave him after travelling to Morocco.

Updates to training:

Training has stopped, pretty much following the trend during Christmas. Inadvertently substituted by further sponsorship hunting and other research duties for this project, which the later has been gaining momentum.

Next term, I will lose my place on the Desso Hall Balcony in the Sports Centre which will be used as a temporary measure for the concurrent gym refurbishment. Luckily I have been given permission to train on the balcony above the Squash courts, so my weekly training schedule will keep to plan. However, fitting this with a much busier term will be manic, and probably will result in training during the twilight hours of early morning or late at night.

Then again, it will be a good way to relieve some stress!

Return back home

I made the return back home for Christmas after my last Autumn term at Warwick University. This isn’t just an opportunity for rest and be festive, but some valuable free time within very few distractions (other than dinner) to figure out and get the ball rolling further with this project. Sadly things came to a bit of stand still at the end of term, the many sponsorship letters I sent out, I never heard a reply from and with the imminent return of home, motivation wasn’t particularly high. Nevertheless training kept strong despite the few boozy occasions.

Nevertheless I was fortunate to receive bits of good news. I’ve managed to get through to a Rickshaw builder based in the UK who think they may be able to assist and have been talking with the Environmental Dept. at the University of York. Also will be looking to speak with my former secondary school at Howden.

Work will continue on planning the basic itinerary (route) that I aim to follow in coordination with researching general visa requirements. These are needed to work out an estimate for the trip length and duration. This will help work out costing and give me a sensible route to work with that is at least feasible given time constraints. Amongst that I will be continuing the search for sponsorship and grant applications – need look for that.

 

 

A week of hard training

With my spirits slightly dampeneded by lack of response (an empty post box) from the many sponsorship letters sent out and just general frustration, hard training was a good relief to take it out on. I have found over time that more training has has been a good was to let off frustration in general and contemplate what to make the next move. Over the week I managed to pull in three good sessions – potentially could have been four if it hadn’t been busy. Two sessions were a session on the turbo trainer followed by circuit training with Warwick Athletics

A trip to Gloucester:

On Saturday I cycled a nice casual trip to Gloucester to watch and cheer the guys on at the  cross country race there. This was about a 60 mile through Warwickshire, and Gloucestershire through Stratford upon Avon, Evesham, Tewkesbury and then finally Gloucester. 
Being thoroughly unprepared, especially after a night out I had one water bottle and to survive off a large portion of porridge. Thankfully it was  generally enough and my home made sports drink did its charm to kept me from getting leg cramps albeit one. However, eventually I had to buy a pork pie from a local market. This kept me going and I pedalled the last twenty miles towards Gloucester.
It was suprisingly hilly and in general pushed a good pace arriving there just short of four hours. One of the small nuinances was that my chain had become bent somehow and alongside a faulty front derailleur, was making some riding quite perilous. It was quite worrying when my chain came off mid-way around a roundabout. 
Overall that week had been great training, but Sunday was definitely dedicated as a day of rest.