Monthly Archives: August 2013

Review: Custom Printed Cycling Jersey Using Half Baked Brand

World Rickshaw Taxi Review
In a remote small town of Namsos, Norway, I purchased at great expense a blue Stormberg cycling jersey which has been used on every cycling expeditionso far and has performed brilliantly for the last four years. This time around, it would be staying at home.

I needed a new cycling jersey to complete the look and continue the superfluous black, yellow and white theme that seems to have adorned to everything we’ve touched. Having tried to negociate with a few companies, and I will point out a very poor service from Kukri, and would avoid with a barge pole, I wasn’t getting anywhere and the disastrous week I had at the same time didn’t help.

I was very fortunate, and was recommended by Nick and Marcus who cycled across America this summer (BC2DC) – definitely worth a read if you have the time, a custom cycle clothing company called Half Baked Brand.

halfbb-sponsor-logo

Half Baked Brand is a small company set up in 2009 based in Devon and are a fresh company looking to deliver some unique cycling gear. They offer other cycling gear including bib/shorts, gillets and caps, but their main focus is on offering unique cycling jerseys – some premade designs are avilable to buy from between £20-£45.

Quickly by means of twitter, I got through to a nice and really helpful guy called James – who I belive is the founder. He soon said he could help me out with just ONE jersey – often with any custom clothing there is a minimum order; the best I saw was three but is usually as high as ten.

The Design Process

The design process is quite simple. Half Baked Brand provides you with a pdf template and an inspiration page to help! From there you just draw on the design you want. This should be done in vector format because it enables lossless scaling. For every graphic that needs designing, I use Inkscape which is a free open source application and has become a swiss army knife in my design tool box. The design can consist of images too, but these need to be a very high resolution.

Having sent back the design there were intitial problems opening the PDF and SVG version into the Adobe Illustrator format they were using. Eventually this was done but took more time than I wanted and I’d recommend to them in future they maybe specify this beforehand. The only other thing that was needed was primary CMYK colours for the background. This is the most difficult thing, because colour doens’t necessarily look the same on every monitor – especially RGB and there is a discernible difference between my 7 year old monitor and my parent’s one year old monitor. James couldn’t guarantee how the colour would look once printed. The design shown below:

jersey0

The final thing that needed deciding was size. There are many sizes available and they have their own chart available. Even after measuring, I was quite unsure if it would fit especially with an underlayer beneath. I took a gamble for it to be close to the skin. Medium.

Ideally jerseys need to be really skin tight, so that sweat can be effectively absorbed away but that is at the price of undressing without it becoming a tormenting excercise.

Once you’ve submitted the design they do the rest!

From design to receiving the custom jersey it takes between 4-6 weeks to be made.


The Result:

The custom printed cycling jersey arrived this weekend and the result is fantastic and it came out much better than I thought.

half_baked_brand_custom_cycle_jersey_world_rickshaw_taxi

half_baked_brand_custom_cycle_jersey_world_rickshaw_taxi2

The design reproduction is sharp and the colours coming out as intended in particualr the lovely background colour. The only colour that didn’t come out too well was the Howden School Crest, but this was never changed. I would probably advise anyone making a design to avoid really deep strong colours, especially yellow. Also avoid white or pastel colours because these soon become filthy when you unmistakebly forget you have oily/dirty fingers.

On the snug side

The jeresy fits well overall, although on the tight side, especially around my large shoulders and perhaps building up the fat reserves. I also managed to wear an underlayer at the same time and was only noticeably tight around the underarms. The only problem with the size I failed to match was the arms. I didn’t consider myself hench, but it seems that I do have arm muscles. In the long term this isn’t a problem, providing the stitching doesn’t come loose when trying to take it off, but the stitching appears strong when pulling along the seams. Luckily I know that intense cycling even over a month soon eats away upperbody muscle faster than I can eat biscuits.

Conclusion

I am very pleased with the Jersey and getting this for £45 is fantastic, considering normal cycling jerseys retail from £30+ and look terrible in comparison. Originally I was expecting this to be in £70-80 and for wearing this nearly every day for the next year, I can quickly say it is worth it.

The service provided by the team at Half BB was very helpful and thoughtful throughout and I wish to thank James who made this jersey possible. It is certainly a company that I’d recommend if you wanted your own design made and I’d wish I knew about them three years ago!

I will add to the review after testing the joursey more thorughly on the journey especially against the elements!

Announcing a Platinum Sponsor: 247 Airport Transfer

247 Airport Transfer - Platinum Sponsor for the World Rickshaw Taxi

I am very pleased to announce a 247 Airport Transfer have a become a new Platinum sponsor for the World Rickshaw Taxi Project. This is fantastic news! Receiving support is very comforting but most importantly is tremendous motivation to know that you have someone who truly believes in what you doing and is prepared to back you!

Having read their statement below, and obviously the company itself, there are great parallels shared in what we what we endeavour to accomplish and how we approach oncoming challenges.

Without further ado, the team at 247 Airport Transfer have kindly provided a statement about themselves and why they chose to be a huge supporting role for the World Rickshaw Taxi


We have designed 247 Airport Transfer as an innovative and open minded company that always looks for new opportunities to improve itself and, at the same time, give something in return to the clients and subsequently to the whole world. The company was founded three years ago, in 2010, and since then we have continuously grew till the point of being pioneers in numerous development areas.

2013 was an extraordinary year for us, here at 247 Airport Transfer. We have managed to accomplish a number of old dreams and come with new services and offers to our customers. Some of the most notable improvements have been the rebranded website and its availability in 12 languages (including English), the introduction of tablets in the cars, the driver tracking system, the flight monitoring program and the opening of a Topographical Skills Centre. Soon enough, we will also launch a new version of our dispatch system. This will be of very much help for our clients who will benefit from a more interactive and user friendly application and who will find it a lot easier to make a booking on our website.

We can guarantee all our customers that the developments won’t stop here. As we have mentioned before, we are constantly working on offering them better services, better experiences and better journeys. We think of them as friends, not as simply payers for a service, as the rest of the minicab companies do. Therefore, we feel that it is our duty to offer them all the best.

Innovative and open minded also means that we are always ready to welcome, applaud and get involved in ground-breaking ideas and projects coming from other businesses or persons. That’s the reason why we wanted to get involved with the World Rickshaw Taxi as a major sponsor. We found about its story and venture on a simple internet search and it immediately rang a bell: “what a daring and revolutionary idea!” we thought. We browsed his website and the second thought was “why not offer him support in his action and become a sponsor?”. The next step was getting in touch with Luke, congratulate him for its great project and establish all the necessary for the sponsorship. There is no reason for going into detail; you will see the final result when he will go off on his adventurous and exciting journey.

Why have we decided to help Luke and the World Rickshaw Taxi?
Leaving the promotional opportunity apart, we felt that it was time for 247 Airport Transfer to engage in an external action and help a courageous man with a cutting-edge and original plan and, through him and his expedition, help the entire world. We know that our missions are similar and that we both think that all it takes to achieve your dream and make a small change in this world is come with a great idea that suits your personality and principles and strongly believe that you can put that idea into practice. This is something we want the rest of the population to know and that’s why we have decided to become World Rickshaw Taxi’s main sponsor.

We wish all the luck and all the best to Luke in his journey round the world and we want to assure him of our full support throughout this brave expedition!

Go SkyRide Hull

It’s been a terrifically busy week, but sure enough that makes it all the more exciting. Eventually got around to writing about this.

GoSkyRide Hull:

On the 18th August, there was a SkyRide in Hull, where all the streets are closed down to encourage cyclists to come in their swarms and enjoy the city centre without traffic. Being my first, I didn’t know what to expect. However, I felt that it was an opportunity to get some good training in and some free publicity – especially with Capital FM Yorkshire being there.

I would cycle from Eastrington to Hull – around 27 Miles and would be another trial to see how far I can push the endurance. I decided to set off early in the morning around 8:30AM with the new yellow and black livery on the rickshaw. Eventually I had everything ready and I would be taking more luggage with me to see if this made the journey any more difficult.

I eventually set off to meet my friend who arrived at the nearest station in Gilberdyke, with my parents dropping of my road bike for him to ride, even providing him with some cycling shoes, which led to a little incident just as we set off – this we will keep between ourselves.

The journey was faring very well with a moderate tail wind pushing me along – my friend Danny, only had to pedal a few times as momentum and skinny tyres helped make it a leisurable – and seemingly enjoyable ride contrary to me.

Eventually we reached a small village near the Humber Bridge and I had to tackle the first major hill. This time I had competition from a young runner whom my friend remarked had a bizarre running technique and a hair style to follow.

This I managed although, I needed a refreshment break at the top. The downhill run, provided a pleasant breeze with the sun beginning to blare out it’s summer heat that day.

DSC_0117

Reaching the humber bridge provided another very challenging hill that left a fairly large queue of traffic to follow. However, eventually I reached the top quite shattered. Soon to follow was another down hill section that let me reach 20 mph – a great feeling on a rickshaw, but underwhelming on a bike.

Soon enough we managed to reach Hull, with a brief escort from a local who provided good conversation in the mean time.

Reaching the city centre was a nice feeling, although not tired, I felt quite spent and soon starting tucking into the assortment of chocolate bars that I brought. There were some particularly strange sites, including a teddy bear on a tandem.

DSC_0089

Suddenly I got interrupted by an old couple, each perching on their walking sticks. The old guy was quite enthusiastic, his wife definitely didn’t. I took them for a quick ride around the loop and returned them – disappointingly the only conversation I got was a trembling mumble.

After finally finishing my dinner we did a few small loops and we caught the attention of the Capital FM Street Team. Two of them were encouraged to take a ride, but soon found enjoyed the experience and we had a good a natter with my wingman at the side. We went through the whole 6km loop past the many sites of Hull, including the Deep which although blustery provided an excellent view. Eventually we came to a finish and they gave me a board with their twitter accounts – a modern take on giving your number? Afterwards, we got a good mention and a laugh from the radio van each time we passed the finish line.

DSC_0095

We went to Queens Garden, next to the BBC center and had a small look around. I never really got a chance to have a break, and got asked a few more times for a ride along with some photos taken. One interesting thing that happened when I took two women and their two children in the back. We tried getting up a small ramp, but I had got into the lowest gear. I had to stop pedalling or risk something going wrong. Midway up the ramp, we had to slowly reverse down, although the passengers didn’t seem to worry as much as me. The second attempt we got up straightaway with a small applause at the end.

The day was pretty successful, but with the sun blaring down all the day, I was becoming dehydrated and tired. Retrospectively I should have worn a hat – I am waiting for my chauffeur’s hat! As a result, it was difficult to keep positive, but the response from everyone was very good and received many smiles.
We set off back to my friend’s house in Brough – 12 miles away and it proved more tiresome with a headwind.

SkyRide Hull

Taking off the upper canopy made it far easier, although gusts of wind were noticeable. There was a very long uphill near Hessle, and it was going to be a task getting up. With my limbs lumbered over the front bars, I felt a push and behind me was a cyclist give me a strong firm push up the hill. Unbelievable at the time and I couldn’t express my gratitude for sparing some of his effort even if it was for thirty seconds.

DSC_0114

My friend took the rickshaw for a ride for around a half mile. He seemed to enjoy it till it starting getting a bit hilly: he’s got a writeup of it to do!

DSC_0105

Eventually we got to my friend’s house for a shower, something to eat and a beer to follow. It had been a good day, and to my greatest suprise it had been a long one – over 43 miles in total and that was ending at 5PM on the dot.

DSC_0115

Painting the World Rickshaw Taxi

Three days ago, I set about painting the white powder coated frame the rickshaw with a more colour coordinated yellow and black.

Fortunately the last year of University helped prepare for this, where with a fellow flat mate James Turner, we designed and painted a truly excellent beer pong table. Unfortunatly with the lack of space and lack of suitable beverages on my expedition, I left it in good hands but the world will miss an opportunity to participate in a truly olympian sport of skill and marvel.

Two small cans of fast-dry enamel paint were bought which in practice should provide a good shiny lustre, although there was a potential disaster waiting to happen if this reacted with the paintwork beneath. This new coat of paint would likely get scuffed but in the end it is to provide additional protection against the elements.

The first job was masking much of the area with newspaper and tape, which took quite a long time. Leaving quite an awkward mess in the garage. With this done the spraying could commence.

World Rickshaw Taxi - Paint Work

All was fairly tedious to do using bits of scrap card to try and stop the spray going everywhere with the breeze that had picked up. I should have perhaps worn a dust mask, but I think the oncoming year of breathing in black fumes spurting out from huge trucks would make a negligible difference on my health.

After completing the yellow and just managing to get complete coverage leaving an empty can, I continued on with the black sides.

World Rickshaw Taxi Paint Work

I was skeptical at first but this was deliberately chosen, because a vinyl sticker for world rickshaw taxi will be stuck on there and it’s much easier to merge shades of black together compared to luminious yellow.

The result is very pleasing.

world_rickshaw_taxi_paintJob3

There are areas which I have missed and the black edges need tidying up with a small pot of enamel paint and protecting the edges with some plastic sellotape because they already have started rubbing away.

Off to the races – Beverley Race Course (Ladies Day)

Yesterday, I set off on my first full experience on the World Rickshaw Taxi. I would be travelling to the Beverley Race Course, East Yorkshire to get some good practice and test my endurance trekking over the Yorkshire Wolds. This was important as I need to see for my self how I would manage with the hills as in stark contrast I have only been practicising near home where it is very flat.

Discomfort in the knee

I had been keeping quiet about a lingering ache that was developing in my knees. I intiailly put this down to just getting used to pedalling the rickshaw with the amount of weight. It was always in the back of my mind, because once a knee problem develops it could have put the whole project down the pan. Even more frustrating I found even after two hours, I was becoming very sore even using my tried and tested method of using vaseline.

Something wasn’t right, the saddle height was correct and it seemed to be at the right angle and my knees didn’t appear to be twisting. I started blaming my foot wear thinking sandels were a problem, but I had ridden on bikes for miles with these.

At the weekend, a friend came over from Brough, whom I picked up from Gilberdyke station (3 and a 1/2 Miles from home). My knees were aching as if they felt under stress but later in the afternoon we went for a bike ride around the local area up to the River Ouse, for a two hour ride. I had to part with my road bike to the touring bike I went to Morocco on. Strangely enough my knees felt much better throughout and once finishing they were fine.

A thought occured to me two days ago just before I went to bed. Perhaps it wasn’t me, or the rickshaw, but it was the saddle. The original cycles maximus is a whopper of gel padded, spring seat – what you’d find on a gym bike or a ladies bike.

Cycles Maximus Original Saddle

It soon came apparant that it was too wide for my stature, which was causing the excessive chaffing and I also thought it was impeding my legs movement – and putting stress on my knees. From that I took the intiative to exchange it for my £5 saddle that got me to Morocco.

The saddle now being used on the World Rickshaw Taxi

Setting off

Eventually after messing around with dinner, I set off.

world_rickshaw_taxi_depart

world_rickshaw_taxi_beverley

Already I felt much more comfortable with the saddle swap and eventually after ten minutes my knees felt great, just as if I was riding a normal bike even with sandals. That set a positive tone for the rest of the journey. With a newly installed wireless speedometer, I was whipping the miles down pretty fast even without a tail wind – on average I was going 10mph – I was so thoroughly pleased.

Eventually I got passed North Cave and entered the wolds and it soon became noticeably harder. I was breathing heavy getting up the fairly steep hills but wasn’t causing too much grievance with passing cars. However, I was prolifically sweating and the gym towel soon came out. Eventually I came to the hill I feared the most. It’s steep for a car and I reckon is a minimum of 8% gradient.

I had to stop and gather my energy and confidence as I wasn’t even sure it was possible a rickshaw up it.

I put it into lowest gear I had, and I was slowly gaining altitutde despite lunging myself over the handlebars. I think it was a huge suprise to the cars that passed by who probably couldn’t have imagined such a sight. About halfway I pulled in to let the queue of cars by and an opportunity to take some more pictures.

Up The Yorkshire Wolds - World Rickshaw Taxi

Up The Yorkshire Wolds - World Rickshaw Taxi

up_the_yorkshire_wolds

Afterwards I pushed on and it dawned upon me that I actually did it. It was overly satisfying and the probably the best accomplishment I would have patted my own back for in a good long time. From there on it was pretty much all down hill towards Beverley, and I got there in good time.

World Rickshaw Taxi Map - Beverley Route

The overall journey took around two hours excluding breaks, which I think is a brilliant result considering it was my first go.

Time to meet the passengers – alot of them

I just missed everyone going to the races, so I went into Beverley. Most people were trying to work out what I was doing and eventually cracked a smile. I took a couple from Grimsby back to the car before the meter run out – they were pleased to have saved their legs the long walk. Afterwards I headed back to the racecourse, annoyingly uphill. I’d describe it as tap just about to be turned, people starting trickling out from the entrance followed within half an hour by a volley of pedestrians heading into town.

Since it was ‘ladies day’, many of them were wearing the longest heels imaginable alongside some quite impressive ‘fascinators’. I think many of them were relieved when they saw me coming and were even offering to pay to take them into Beverley. I cannot accept payment because of legislation, so instead took them for free which made them even more happier. It was very suprising to hear that many people were turned down by regular taxis and just goes to show how poor the current system is. Most people couldn’t believe that I wasn’t allowed to charge anything and thanked me very well at the end of their journey, especially after hearing why I was doing it for free – namely the World Rickshaw Taxi!

It was great to meet so many people, that day I must have taken nearly 50 passengers at a guess. Everyone was excited to see such an unusual sight in Beverley especially once ingested with alcohol. Going past some of the pubs I was cheered on quite enthusiastically although their motivation to do so I was unsure of – maybe it was from the frequent occurance.

I had so many encounters that I couldn’t really write about them all, but it was a brilliant experience meeting so many people and taking them around Beverley to save their legs / feet. By around 6 O’clock I was starting to cramp up but not tired because I hadn’t taken much salt that day to offset the amount I sweat. I kept going to around 7:30 and got picked up my dad on the way home.

That day I managed to pull off 35 miles, which I think is a pretty impressive result for my first trial.

world_rickshaw_taxi_speedometer

And yes, it’s got the Union Jack on for a bargain price of £25!

On Sunday I will be heading to Hull, for the Sky Ride so if you near then HOP ON!

Building an Image – Rebuilding the Rickshaw Canopy

When we bought the rickshaw from the guy in York, it came with a green canopy, which although was perfectly functional, simply didn’t fit in with the yellow and black theme present in all branding I’ve done.

My mother, a sewing and crafts genius in her spare time has taken some good time yesterday to re-create the canopy using some waterproof black and yellow fabric we were fortunate to find at Farming auction in Murton, York. We managed to get two very large rolls for £10 – an absolute bargain.

Continue reading

Charting the route: Bringing geography to the 21st century

Most expeditions seem to rely on Google Maps – which are fairly convenient, easy to use and ofcourse is free. One of the perplexing issues is the proprietary nature of the digital maps and under scientific pretext I wanted to avoid tying down any data collected on my trip onto such platform. This has especially come to light considering the NSA PRISM scandal, although I’m not too pessimistic that I’m worried someone is spying on me.

All the data collected is stored on a (Mysql) database on the website – this includes

  • The itinerary route
  • Passenger fares requested and completed
  • Tracking system data

The Passenger locations are plotted on the map along with the tracking data simultaenously. This will inevitably become very large and will be optimised so that it is simplified.

All registered – completed fares can opt and once completed data will be anonymised under the user’s preference. Data is only accessible to myself and will not be shared except between you and me.

Having data that is open ensures it’s accountable and any discrepencies can be found – although to be honest is not crucial on this project.

Continue reading

Riding the rickshaw

It’s been quite an exciting week having taking the rickshaw out every day over the past couple of days and just building up the needed strength, experience and familiariaty with my method of transport before the grande departure in September.

The longest journey I’ve done so far without passengers is around 13-14 Mile flat circuit in around 2 hours. This is a pretty decent result considering I am only aiming to achieve 30 miles on average per day. Most days I’ve done a 6 mile loop with a one passenger in (both against and with wind) between Eastrington-Howden and Eastrington-Gilberdyke.

I even took my mother on a postage run with parcels to the post office – 3 miles each way and she even had a go for around 3/4 of a mile on the way back. Both her an I were pleasantly suprised of its ease.

Fascination with passers-by

The response from people both in cars and pedestrians on the side of the road has been fantastic. Most people stare quite mystefied at what this rickshaw is doing in a quaint place like this – I don’t particularly blame them. It reminded me of the time on the great bathtub adventure where there was never (excluding London) a face that could be provoked to produce a smile, a laugh or a chuckle of amusement. It’s a great feeling that I’m bringing the essence of un-ordinary into some stranger’s daily routine and even if they think I’m an idiot, hope it just makes them think.

I haven’t yet picked up any passengers and experienced a spontaneous encounter, but I plan on doing this on select events, including the upcoming

  • Sky Ride Hull
  • York Races

Thoughts so far:

As many riders of pedicab rickshaws have pointed out, they are not built as bikes or indeed ride like them. Three points on the ground mean that you don’t lean to turn. Instead you only have to push on the handle bar and it instantly follows the desired course. Such stability is actually quite great that you can take your hands off the bars for a moment.

One of the greatest annoyances I am struggling to get used to is the noticeable camber of the country roads – to remove water since there are no drains. Riding with one person on that side closest to the road verge further attentuates the effect. This is not noticeable on a bicycle with its gyroscopic effect. The tilt the rickshaw produces can be felt on the hip joint and is quite uncomfortable over a long distance. In future when there are no cars, I have decided to stay central on such roads.

The up-right position is taking a lot to get used to; most suprisingly more strain on the arms which are practically horizontal. At points I’ve found I just have to slouch with my arms on the handlebars to give my arms a needed rest. I’m still not happy with the comforta the saddle provides, but I haven’t worn my full padded cycling shorts yet.

Pulling both myself and passengers is not as hard as it looks!

Pulling the rickshaw around 80kg in weight (15kg for an average bike) along with two passengers (70kg each) sounds like an impossible task. It isn’t. There is enough range in the gears to make this comfortable on the flats and even with some wind but as you can expect is more tiresome up hill. The knack of riding a rickshaw is spinning your legs fast as possible and it’s something I’m still getting used to which my knees are less forgiving about.

Wind Power

can be both the enemy or an ally. The canopy acts like a huge sail. With the wind it allows very quick journeys to be accomplished. Against is a struggle, but do-able, but its magnitude of effect diminishes having two passengers in the back.

I will admit, that my legs were aching the day after, but unlike trips in the past didn’t drop completly dead. I don’t think training in the long run is much good other than maintaining and improving fitness and endurance. Riding a rickshaw instantly magnified riding one of these beasts and riding on a normal bike today I could already see differences.

Much more practice is needed but the realisaition that reaching my daily targets is realistically possible (atleast on flats) is very encouraging – atleast till when the mountains appear!

Presenting the World Rickshaw Taxi

Luke Parry - Proud owner of the the World Rickshaw Taxi with the primary sponsor - Parry Sculptors

The World Rickshaw Taxi now officially has a set of wheels to get me around the world and has now taken the first passenger – the chief sponsor i.e. Dad. It’s unbelievably excited, even more so than my first road bike or even car. The cumulation of several months planning and having a vision in my head is starting to resolve itself into reality.

With its arrival, the flood gates are open and everything can be set into motion including the planning.

I wish to give a big thank you to Adam, Manager at Cycle Heaven, York who has both sold and serviced the Cycles Maximus to me, but is bending over backwards to support me along the way.

Continue reading

Review: Voltaic Systems V60 + 16W Solar charger kit

World Rickshaw Taxi Review

For my world wide trip, I was considering taking many electronic articles with – pretty much you can name it and chances are I will be taking it. This includes the Raspberry Pi Tracking Systems, DSLR Camera, Laptop, Tablet, MP3 player, Mobile phone, an eBook reader and at one point I was considering a USB mini-fridge for a cold beer at the end of the day. In the past I’ve struggled to keep a few items going and have resorted to charging in public toilets, restuarants and everywhere that you could put two or three prongs in.

This time around I was considering a generating my own electricity – this was going to be a solar panel or dynamo system. I ruled out dynamo for a few reasons namely small (3W) supply, requiring a wheel to be rebuilt which on rickshaw I would be worried about and the charging kits are prohibitvely expensive. The only advantage they have is that they are reliable providing you pedal at 15 km/h which on a rickshaw isn’t always guaranteed.

Continue reading