We all know that looking good on the bike is something to be strived for but we shouldn’t forget about smelling good too. I overheard a good tip this weekend at my Sunday run cafe stop at the Ide Hill Community Shop for helping keeping leather cycling gloves smelling sweet.
Hair got me into cycling. I know it sounds ridiculous – the leap from barnet(1) to bicycle is not an easy one to imagine – but it’s true. The ponytails of firstly Robert Millar and then, and more importantly, Laurent Fignon bewitched me more than any lofty mountain pass or low-profile time trial machine. Who were these sportsmen who exhibited such flair with their hair? It is said that the aero disadvantage of Fignon’s follicle affectation cost him the 1989 Tour, which he lost to the tousled golden locks of the American Greg Lemond by just eight seconds, but (and I realise that it would have been scant consolation to the distraught Frenchman) it won my undying admiration.
Fignon and on and on.
“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer fear for the human race” – H.G. Wells
For quite some time I have thought that bicycles have semi-magical qualities. Riding one can make you happy when you are otherwise sad and they can make you believe that you are someone else – usually someone far better at riding a bike. They can make you fitter and more sociable and, as Mr H.G. Wells says in his wonderful quote above, they can change the destiny of the world. It’s a given then that they are wonderful things. But, until this weekend at the sublime L’Eroica Britannia event, I had not realised that they are also capable of enabling time travel. Perhaps that’s why old H.G. (who knew a thing or two about Time Machines) loved them so much.
I often find that preparing for a ride is almost as much of a joy as the ride itself. The slightly ceremonial laying-out of bibshorts, jersey, bidon and snacks the night before helps to mentally prepare for the task ahead. The selected attire acclimatises the brain to the likelihood of inclement weather, whilst the amount of food and water required conditions the mind to the degree of hardship ahead. When the laying out includes plus-fours, woollen tie, pipe and hip-flask though, you know it must be time for the many pleasures of The Tweed Run.
This coming Saturday (May 17th) Central London will be turned into a pedaller’s paradise as two big events take over the streets of the capital for a few precious hours. The London Cycling Campaign’s Space For Cycling Big Ride hopes to attract 10,000 cyclists of all ages and backgrounds to Hyde Park from 11am for a short, closed-road spin through Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus culminating with a massed rally on the Embankment around 2pm. Billed as a ‘fun ride with a serious message’ the Big Ride event aims to highlight the need for greater awareness of urban cyclists and promote campaigns for better road layouts and separation for them.
Nearby, the 6th annual Tweed Run – “A metropolitan bicycle ride with a bit of style” – will be taking 500 sartorially-conscious velocipedists, all bedecked in their best breeches and finest frocks, on a circuitous route through the West-End, City, South Bank, St James’s and Bloomsbury. Stopping traffic and tourists in equal numbers they will cruise past on their Penny-Farthings, Pashleys and other makes of venerable push-bikes enroute to a very classy picnic in Russell Square. With prizes being for a number of categories including Best Vintage Bicycle and Best Moustache it is a truly glorious sight to behold.
The Space For Cycling campaign has gained a lot of attention recently following a spate of cyclists death in London in 2013. Their similar “Love London – Go Dutch” ride of last summer has morphed into something much more focussed on the need for immediate changes in attitudes and infrastructure for the capitals growing cycling population.
Initially started as a fun ride by a small group of friends on a London cycling forum, the Tweed Run now has linked events being run as far afield as Tokyo, St Petersburg and Seoul and is well on its way to becoming a global institution. It is a uniquely pleasant day out, especially if the weather is favourable. Be warned though – numbers are strictly limited and if you don’t have a ticket already you won’t be able to join in, so if you are looking to take part on your bike next weekend, best head for the Big Ride instead.
The two events cross each other around Parliament Square and the prime place to see both will probably be Whitehall around 1pm. Giving out a shout of “Space For Cycling” to the LCC’s riders and a “Tally-Ho” to the Tweeders will get you the best response – most probably a wave from the former and possibly a doffed deerstalker from the latter.
If you are in London on Saturday do get your self along and support the events if you can. The LCC needs all the two-wheeled support they can get whilst the Tweed Run loves nothing more than having loads of people on the pavements to parade in front of.
A map and more information on the Space For Cycling Big Ride can be found below and I’m acting of one of marshall’s on the Tweed Run again this year so I’ll be writing more about how that event went afterwards.
Fingers crossed for good weather. Tally Ho!
Cyclists are often a bit funny about their tan-lines. Cultivating a set of razor-sharp transitions, which switch instantly from the deepest mahogany to a blinding alabaster white, half way along a thigh or bicep is seen as one of the heights of being ‘pro’. Tan-lines like these tell of days in the saddle, not days on the beach. They are worn with more than just pride; for many they are a badge of honour.
Last week however, we saw a couple of cases of cases of pro team ‘tanning’ getting out of hand and raising questions about protection and performance.
“It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.”
Nigel Tufnell. Spinal Tap.
The recent news that Cannondale’s new 2014 kit design will be a mainly black affair has been greeted by cycling’s fashion watchers with barely more than a raised eyebrow. ‘Copying Sky’ is the main criticism that most can muster and, given that nearly all pro teams are seeking to reproduce the British team’s training programmes or marginal gains techniques in some shape or form, that in itself is hardly a withering accusation. But, after years of what has often amounted to an arms race of garishness, is there more to this latest rejection of what has been termed elsewhere as ‘Euro Gaud’ than simply aping the most successful team around?
Colour Me Bad.
On one level Cannondale’s rejection of bright colour is an obvious way of turning their back on the team’s most recent incarnation as Liquigas. Constrained by the corporate colours of the Italian energy company, the team’s lime green kit was up there with the lurid pink of Lampre and the Day-glo yellow of ViniFantini for eye-watering loudness. Indeed, some lesser Italian races – when the finishes were often contested between multiple members of these three teams – were such a visceral assault on the eyes that they should really have carried some kind of warning for viewers of a sensitive disposition.
1. Red tricycle with white wheels – Got the front wheel caught in a drainhole on our drive one summer day, flipped over the top and scraped the hell out of my 3 year old bare belly. Ouch. And, yes, that is me below…
2. Purple 2 wheeler – solid wheels. Learnt to ride on that one…
3. Raleigh Strika silver – Sadly not the back-pedal brake model.. Loved the fake plastic ‘suspension’ parts on the front forks.
4. Raleigh Viper. 5 speed. Blue. Drop Handlebars. 10th Birthday present – 1985. I thought I was the Boss on this.
(Flipped and chopped the bars and then sold when I was around 14)
5. Chrome Bomber – bought from the Classifieds in the Hull Daily Mail. First bike I paid for.
(Absolutely no idea where this one went.. Possibly into the River Hull for a dare.)