Monthly Archives: July 2012

Just keep walking (2)

I have been off at a cottage in Canada for the last week and out of range of the internet, cell phones, everything. But I did borrow a bike. A couple of days ago I went for a ride on a local trail. About twelve kms in I punctured. Its’ becoming a habit. I was on a borrowed bike. I was on a remote trail. There was a saddle bag but no spare tube or patch kit and no pump on the bike. I had no money on me, and I did not take a cell phone. So I walked – for 12 kms. A victory for existentialism.

Just keep walking

Søren Kierkegaard, the early 19th century Danish philosopher and father of existentialism (the starting point of thinking is the individual and the experiences of the individual), once wrote:

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. If one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.

Kierkegaard was born at almost exactly the same time as the invention of the bicycle. If he had been a little more technologically curious I am sure he would have replaced walk and walking with cycle and cycling.

Implicit in this thought, however, is the realization that walking/cycling is good for your head and not just your body.  It provides a way to enter a contemplative space that is not easy to find.

It also implicitly debunks the default notion that contemplation is all about stillness. It recognises that the contemplation of stillness can be a descent into crippling abstraction, while the contemplation of movement is an ascent into a fecund feedback loop with the experiential evidence of life.

The irony of course is that Kierkegaard died at 42 (1813 – 1855). He should have bought a bike.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

Is this the bike (3)

Surly cross check

Rick had suggested I look at the Surly long haul trucker. It is set up for touring with a full complement of paniers. Lots of braze-ons. Good on the pavement. But in looking at the Surlys I came across this, which looks interesting.

It’s steel – but CroMoly

A mix of Shimano components

It only has a two ring crankset

It has bar end shifters – more traditional on straight touring bikes

It has cantilever rather than disk brakes

But it looks very solid and reliable and is reviewed well



Surly Cross-Check, Surly 4130 CroMoly steel. Main triangle double-butted. TIG-welded. Rear rack bosses


Surly Cross-Check, 100% CroMoly, lugged + brazed crown. 1-1/8″ threadless steerer. Uncut



Andel RSC6 , 36/48t. Black

Front Derailleur

Shimano Sora , FD-3403. Silver

Rear Derailleur

Shimano Deore , M591SGS. Long cage. Black

Cog or Cogset

Shimano Tiagra HG50 , 11-13-14-15-17-19-21-23-32t


SRAM PC-971 , Silver



Cane Creek 40 , 1-1/8″ threadless. Black

Bottom Bracket

Shimano UN-54 , 68 x 107mm. Square taper interface


Tektro cantilever , CR720 model. Black

Brake Levers

Tektro , RL341 short reach on 42, 46 & 50mm frames. RL340 standard reach on all others


Shimano bar-end SL-BS77, 2/3 x 9-speed, friction setting


Kalloy AS-008, 26.0mm bar clamp. Aluminum. 4-bolt face. Black


Salsa Bell Lap , Black


WTB SST Comp , Steel rails. Black vinyl. Feels…not bad


Kalloy SP-342 , 27.2mm. 300mm. Black


Surly stainless steel post clamp, 14g DT Swiss spokes. Some pretty sweet & comfy cork tape



Shimano Deore , M590. QR. 32h. Black


Alex DA-16 , 700c. Double wall. 32h


Ritchey Speedmax Comp, Low center tread, pronounced side knobs. 32mm


Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

Olympic Cycling Route

The summer holiday started yesterday for us. The kids and I flew from Dar es Salaam to London, where we will stay for a few days before heading to Canada for a couple of weeks. The kids are great companions – except when they importune to shop. Driving from Heathrow to our flat south of London at rush hour last night was a bit of a nightmare. It was cold and wet. There were flash floods near where we were heading and there had been a big accident that had closed the M25 for a while near the junction we use. It took us 2 ½ hours to cover a distance that takes 40 minutes in good traffic.  I hate to think what getting around London will be like in another couple of weeks when the Olympics start. The lucky bit was that because of the back up, the taxi driver decided to get off the M25 and head down towards the A25. He ended up following about a five-mile section of the Olympic road race route. Gorgeous. In spite of the cold and the rain. The road closure signs are up and the road surface on the section we travelled looks really good. Too bad I won’t be here to watch.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.



My first bike

Not really my first bike, but it looked something like this

I got my first bike just before I was five. It was second hand and had a low slung top bar, a bit like a girl’s bike. I had a younger sister so I am sure my parents were thinking about who it would go to next even as they were buying it for me. I got the bike in the winter. I am not sure whether it was for Christmas or not. It may have been. But we lived in Toronto at the time so there was no riding until the snow was gone. I remember my Dad – who was an engineer and had never really lost the kid’s thrill of taking things to bits to see how they worked – spent the winter taking it apart, right down to individual bearings, and rebuilding and repainting it. I couldn’t wait for spring. That summer, at age 5, I started working on the bike myself. I took the handle bar grips off so that I could turn the handlebars around – so the handles were low slung and facing towards me, like a racer. It was cool. I took it out for a spin before I put the grips back on and of course tried to jump a ditch. Didn’t make it. The end of one bar ended up puncturing the inside of my right thigh very high up. Needless to say I spent the rest of the day at the hospital being stitched up. Dad returned the bars to their normal position and put the grips back on. He didn’t say a thing. I rode that bike for another two years before my sister got it.

Final Edit – TdA SCFT film

Donate now

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

Alan Knight rides the Tour d’Afrique for the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

January 11 – May 11, 2013

“The Tour d’Afrique has been described as ‘the longest and most difficult bike race in the world’.”

David Houghton, rode the Tour d’Afrique in 2005

and then wrote a book about it, The EFI Club

Alan Knight, an experienced long distance cyclist, will ride the 2013 edition of the Tour d’Afrique. The annual Tour d’Afrique is an 11,718 km bicycle expedition and race crossing ten African countries from Cairo to Cape Town in four months.

This physically and mentally challenging expedition will mark a major milestone for Alan, who will turn 60 during the ride, and who has committed his efforts to provide an opportunity for himself and others to support the incredible work of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

Sickle Cell Disease is particularly prevalent in African countries that have a high incidence of malaria. Tanzania, where Alan currently lives, has the 4th highest number of people suffering from sickle cell disease in the world. In Tanzania up to 11,000 children are born every year with this inherited disease. But due to lack of early diagnosis and treatment as many as 90% of them will die before they are 18. With early diagnosis and treatment they can expect to live longer and more productive lives.

Alan’s goal is to raise US$50,000 to build and equip a 12-bed day treatment centre for sickle cell sufferers in Tanzania. Currently in Dar Es Salaam, sickle cell patients are treated at a general purpose clinic at the Muhimbili hospital only two days a week. A dedicated day treatment centre, open every day, could potentially increase treatment capacity by over 500%.

Dr. Julie Makani, the Founder of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania has set up a world-class research and treatment facility for sickle cell disease in Dar Es Salaam. Dr. Makani’s work was recently recognised when she was awarded the Royal Society Pfizer Award in 2011 for her outstanding research into using anaemia in sickle cell disease as a model for translating genetic research into health benefits. But the work has only just started.

Alan’s participation in the 2013 Tour d’Afrique provides a unique opportunity to recognise and align your organisation with outstanding work by Africans in Africa on an important African health issue, and to make a real and measurable difference in the lives of many Tanzanians.

You, your staff, colleagues, and clients will be able to follow Alan’s progress on his blog and gain recognition through messages, videos, media, and logo placement. You and your organisation will also be recognised by the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

The campaign has already started and will last at least ten months. Join us and the many other supporters and funders of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania. Your sponsorship will make an enormous difference in so many lives in Tanzania.

Is this the bike? (2)

Genesis croix-de-fer

It’s a steely – a softer ride

It has good mechanical disk breaks

Shimano Tiagra group set – not high spec, nothing fancy, but adequate

Probably not the lightest bike

Needs different tires

May need a different saddle

Not the prettiest bike – but who cares

Frame and Fork


Reynolds 725 Steel




1-1/8 Threadless





Shimano Tiagra 10spd STi

Rear Derailleur

Shimano Tiagra 10spd

Front Derailleur

Shimano Tiagra 10spd


Shimano Tiagra Compact

Bottom Bracket



Shimano Tiagra 10spd


Shimano Tiagra 10spd 12-28



Shimano M475


Alex XD-Lite


Stainless Black


Continental Cyclocross Race



Avid BB-7

Brake Levers

Shimano Tiagra STi

Contact Zone


Genesis 6061 Alloy Drop


Genesis Alloy


Shockproof Brown Tape


Genesis Road CrMo Rail

Seat Post

Genesis 6061 27.2mm


Shimano PDM-520

Don’t forget to watch the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania fundraising film

Alan Knight Tour d’Afrique 2013 on Vimeo

And please make a donation if you can.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.