Sunday, 11 September 2016

The new bike - review

Bought the new bicycle in late May, prompted by the unforeseen theft of the previous rickety one. Three months (and approximately 300 kilometres, since I failed to equip the bike in with an odometer) on, it looks I am poised to review my single-track motor-less vehicle.

The first impression is similar to changing an over ten-year-old car for a brand-new, though not upscale, car. I was genuinely impressed with smoothness and lightness of the new bicycle. The bike underwent a showroom-exit maintenance, so nearly all stuff was properly regulated and the vehicle was prepared for the first ride. It soon turned out some screws were too loose, yet I tighten them up and it runs beyond reproach. Gears are changed smoothly, without a single grind and sufficiently precisely (what else can I expect from a bike which set me back less than PLN 1,000).

Fixtures do their job well. I rode through muddy puddles and mudguards protected my clothes from being grimed. I did not test the LED lamps, yet they look out neatly and should ensure visibility if I happen to use the bike after dusk. What I have not purchased so far and catch up with are a decent bicycle lock (I used the bike for recreational rides, I yet I intend to use it to move between places and then the lock will become indispensable) and a pump (I have used compressors on petrol stations instead and consider sticking to that method of pumping up tyres).

The only drawback of the bike is its saddle. When choosing it I noticed immediately it was hard and uncomfortable, so I added to my shopping car a gel pad which turned out to help little. Firstly, the pad has been flattened by my backside, secondly it served just as a quick fix and the hapless saddle will be due for replacement later this year or next spring.

The biggest pity is that I could not take really long trips on account of problems with spine whose onset coincided with swapping bikes. My longest trip so far was mere 30 kilometres, I was yearning to cycle longer distances, yet my body held me back. I will keep on exercising during winter and next spring I hope I am fit enough to enjoy cycling more.

Plus I have made a resolution to have the new bike regularly (at least once a year) maintained by a professional. My first maintenance, within six months from the purchase will be free of charge, yet each next one should cost less than PLN 100, a tiny expense if it is to extend durability of the bike and ensure safe and pleasant cycling.

Today I cycled for the third time this summer to Zalesie Górne. Not a long ride, yet 20 kilometres was an optimum distance given air temperature before noon. Today for the third day in a row, maximum temperature reached more than +29C. Tomorrow is forecast to be also that hot, so I have taken a day off to lap up last moments of the warmth.

The weather these days is typically summer-like. Length of the day reminds the equinox is near, around half past seven in the evening darkness sets in. Besides, nights bring relief from the heat, while mornings bring mists lingering above fields. Autumn is not felt in the air, it will take a while before the scent of changing season comes over. In 2015 the first whiff of autumn (defined as cool enough to wear a coat) was felt on 7 September, but in 2014 we had to wait for it until 24 September. Hope this year’s September stays merciful.

For those thinking such spell of summer in mid-September is an anomaly, a dose of weather statistics (and an opportunity for me to indulge in what I am fond of).
  • The warmest September in Warsaw since records began was in 1919 (monthly average of +16.3C), ahead of September 1967 (mean temperature +16.2C), well ahead of September 2006 (monthly average of +16.0, though for no apparent reasons this one is frequently cited as the warmest ever), not mention Septembers in 1951 and 2005 (mean temperatures of +15.9C) and September 1999 (monthly average of +15.8C).
  • On 17 September 2015 temperature topped at +29.9C, however this was one-day peak, with day-before and day-after highs a few degrees lower.
  • Between 12 and 14 September 2014 day-time highs were above +26C, while night-time lows were not below +14C (spent this time away from Warsaw on a two-night off-site and remember, yes I do remember, how warm (no ambiguity) those nights were)
  • September 2013 was one of two coolest over the recent decade and exactly three years ago day-time highs barely hit double digits.
  • On 11 September 2012 temperature topped at +30.4C, like in 2015 this was a one-day spell.
The past measurements clearly prove the second decade of September is the latest period when temperature near +30C stands a chance to be recorded in Warsaw, yet such prolonged September heat wave is unprecedented based on the data I have access to (ogimet page, whose archives have recently been depleted to my displeasure), so September 2016 stands a serious chance to go down as the warmest in history in Warsaw.

According to the forecasts, heat wave should begin to wane from Tuesday and by the next weekend maximum temperatures are likely to descend to still enjoyable range of +20C to +25C, with no rain bringing relief to thirsty ground within the coming week. By 25 September late summer is predicted to stay in Warsaw! Make the most of the perfect weather until it gives way to gloomy autumn.

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