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!
What happens when coffee and cycling come together? Normally it’s just a pacier run on the training ride but occasionally it can conjure up an entire event.
SPIN teamed up with LCF (London Coffee Festival) for a free-wheeling, free-grinding, blend of coasting ‘n’ roasting in Shoreditch this weekend. Catching the Christmas mood (and the Christmas trade no doubt) was a big part of the reason for these happy bedfellows to put on a show together and each was equally represented with about 40 exhibitors each. Alongside these were a good bar, a couple of food stalls and Rollapaluza. Entry was £1.75 in advance (just the booking fee) or £5 on the door.
In the capital this week, whilst the Met advised commuting bike riders to wear extra bright clothing in case ‘drivers weren’t wearing their glasses‘, a prominent London cyclist carried out a number of erratic moves during an LBC radio interview, which threaten to put his professional life at serious risk of harm. Bare-headed, dressed in a non-reflective dark suit and clearly wearing headphones throughout, he remained oblivious to the heavyweight issues thundering around him whilst he made his risky manoeuvres. He didn’t stop even though there was a red light clearly shining in the recording studio at all times.
I know there isn’t a quick fix to the problem of the many dangers which London’s cyclists face everytime they take to the road.
I know it’s more complex than just a rush-hour HGV ban, or segregated lanes on the cycle super highways.
I know that self-interest and self-preservation are enormously important aspects of urban road-use and that vulnerable road-users need to play their part in reducing the risks presented to themselves.
I also know that repeatedly reducing the debate to one about what the potential victims are wearing is about as big a blunder that the man in charge of realising the potential solutions could make. Frankly, I’m appalled.
The start of a new week did not bring any respite from the current spate of fatal incidents involving cyclists on London’s road. Five deaths between the 5th and 13th of November has left many cyclists in the Capital in a mixed state of fear and anger. The unwelcome news today that a 60 year old man had been killed by in a collision with a lorry in Camberwell has further fuelled the loudening calls for real change. Nine of the fourteen deaths in 2013 have involved HGV’s.
Anger in the cycling community is being directed both at London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, and, more recently, at the police. Johnson, a keen cyclist himself and instigator of London’s communal cycle-hire scheme, is being accused of victim-blaming by highlighting risk-taking cyclists who don’t follow the letter of the law, and of not taking immediate action to address the dangers of large industrial vehicles sharing London’s road network with cyclists. The Metropolitan Police caught the anger of cyclists today after going out in large numbers to stop cyclists during the morning commute and ‘advise’ them to wear helmets and high-vis jackets. The Met were also stopping and speaking with HGV drivers in an aim to give road safety advice to all road-users but again the feeling is that the root cause of the deaths is being ignored.
I wrote about the last spate of deaths back in late June/early July and how it had made me question commuting by bike in London. I felt the same early last week when three people had been killed in just a few days. Tonight though I feel different. I feel as though I need to keep cycling to help get the change needed. I don’t feel like giving up and turning away. One death is too many but this has gone far too far now. The vigils, petitions, protest rides and general shouting about the issue must go on, of course. But, in light of the perceived indifference which greeted last week’s efforts, it’s obvious that much more is needed. Calls for direct action always need to be carefully weighed and balanced but I for one would support Jenny Jones’ suggestion of a month of rush hour Critical Mass gatherings at a prominent junction. And that should just be the beginning. Change is needed. Fast.
Enough is Enough – It’s time to take a real stand.
Apologies for the insensitive title of this post but it is exactly how I feel right now.
With both the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia set to start outside of their own borders next year it seems like a good time to have a look at this increasingly regular phenomenon. In 2014 the Giro will spend three days in Ireland during May, visiting both Belfast and Dublin, before Le Tour comes to Yorkshire, Cambridge and London in July. Whilst the Vuelta tends to be much more of an insular affair – having only started outside of Spain twice in it’s 60 year history – a fifth of all the Giro starts since it’s first foray to San Marino in 1965 have been foreign affairs.
The Tour is an even more international event with over 20 foreign starts dating back as early as 1954 in Amsterdam. This began a sequence of around three Tours each decade commencing in foreign parts up until the Millennium. After that they increased again and Tour De France race director Christian Prudhomme clearly stated his aims in 2007 when he said that 3 out of every 5 Tours should begin abroad. Talk during the Armstrong era of a start on American soil may have failed to materialise because of the very real logistical issues of transferring the entire race and it’s vast entourage across 5 time zones of Atlantic Ocean but the appetite to take the Tour ‘on tour’ is self evident.
Sunday 4th August 2013. The Olympic Park, London.
A year on from the balmy party evening that became known as “Super Saturday” and the Olympic Park in the East End of London is looking a little less than super. For starters it’s 7am, it’s cloudy and decidedly cool. An enthusiastic PA is trying to rally the 8,000 or so cyclists still being corralled into starting lanes but most look half asleep and are more interested in eating a last minute banana or trying to jump the significant queues for the banks of Portaloo’s which have been set up between the Copper Box and what was the Media Centre. The other remaining buildings – the elegant but lonely Velodrome, the stripped-back Olympic Stadium and the now wingless Aquatic Centre are all off limits and surrounded by building site fences. Traces of the pathways between the key sites are now criss crossed with access roads and it’s hard to reconcile the air of lacklustre anticipation with the thronging energy of a year ago. With a number of articulated lorries and a small fleet of race cars waiting nearby for the afternoon action, it actually feels a bit like a ferry terminal. In terms of a showpiece legacy event the start of the inaugural Ride London-Surrey 100 is decidedly low-key.
I first thought about riding the Olympic Road Race route last year but somehow 2012 passed without me making it happen. The London-Surrey 100 seemed to be the perfect way of rectifying this and, having missed out on a place in what turned out to be the massively oversubscribed ballot, I was lucky enough to be offered a charity spot to ride for Great Ormond Street Hospital from their reserve list. GOSH helped cared for my first son Dylan in the last few days of his very short life so the chance to raise funds for them and do the event in their name made me very happy. I had taped a picture of him to my Garmin as I left my house in South East London earlier and knew I would be thinking of him throughout the day.