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Every morning, without fail, within a minute or two of starting my cycle commute, my eyes start watering, and I look either like I’ve just had some incredibly traumatic news, or I’m having a St John of the Cross moment. I am not alone in this.

Many of the threads that address this issue (just google “watery eyes cycling“, and there’s a flood of them) suffer from the problem that there’s no common scale to describe the severity of the problem. For those with Sjögren’s syndrome, there’s the Schirmer Tear Test, but this is hard to implement in cycling conditions without endangering other road users.

I propose a new standard method for measuring the rate at which tears emerge when cycling:
OPM, or Osbornes Per Minute.

(From The Sun)

Single tear-track of UK Chancellor George Osborne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recording the number of single tear-tracks, or Osbornes, per minute (an interval that permits sufficient drying to distinguish between successive individual lacrimal secretions, and additionally a workable measure of acceleration or deceleration of the phenomenon) is relatively easy for an individual patient (“cyclist”), and, judging by early tests conducted over the past three mornings, the reliability of self-reported incidences is quite high.

[Full text of paper forthcoming*]

*Not actually forthcoming

Last October my organisation moved offices from West to Central London, reducing my commute  from 9 miles each way to 5. I was running out of excuses not to cycle to work, reduced to arguing that there’s not much room for a bike in a flat with toddlers. Andrea suggested I try out his Brompton. Clever, sure, but how absurdly Lilliputian, I thought. Look:

But I climbed on, and rode round the courtyard outside. Something happened. In minutes, I went from feeling absurd and wobbly, to feeling exhilarated. This was genuine chemistry… I borrowed the bike for a week to cycle to Millbank, and it was heaven. I’d arrive at work wearing a broad grin – and returning the bike to him felt a real wrench.

So I decided to buy one through work. Little did I anticipate the knots I’d tie myself into, as first I confronted the Brompton order form, and then trawled website after website trying to understand what different options meant. (I haven’t cycled regularly since the early 90s…) What the hell was “lowered gearing”? Should I get 1 gear, 2, 3 or 6? Firm suspension or normal? Hub dynamo lighting? And as for the colour…

So, in case it’s helpful to others, here are the resources I found useful in deciding which Brompton configuration to buy.

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