Ron Arad Reinvents the Wheel
There were two nuns and a bicycle… it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke or a script from a naff 1970’s sitcom. It is in fact the name of design legend Ron Arad‘s concept bike. I have to say this design totally passed me by when it was released last autumn, I’m not sure how I missed it. It’s part of a project to raise money for Elton John’s AIDS Foundation. The collection of bikes by celebrities and designers called “WOW Bikes” were available for paying guests to ride at W Hotel in London’s Leicester Square in October 2011 before being auctioned off. I don’t know anyone who got to try them out, I would be very interested to hear from people who did. My impression from the video is that it’s likely to be a rather bouncy ride, a soft version of the old bone shaker. It’s very aesthetically pleasing but I don’t think it’s going to be on sale in your local bike shop anytime soon and I think the traditional wheel will be safe for a few years yet. The design obviously references or was inspired by Ron’s 1980’s Well-Tempered Chair and his Bookworm Bookshelf for Kartell. Ron loves to work in flexible ribbons of materials to create fluid, flexible yet sturdy designs.
Marcus Hearst, director of the design department at Arad’s studio commented, “To account for the added flexibility in the materials, Arad’s sprung wheels of steel are in fact a little bit larger than the average bike wheel. But it’s this yield that gives the wheels a slight cushion and makes the wheels work in a practical way. It’s a surprisingly comfortable ride, and, ironically, the faster you go, the smoother it is. The wheel uses 18 individual strips of steel that are pinned at various tension points to act together as one single unit. We’ve actually done very little with the material. When you bend that steel, the way you pin it, you create natural curves. It’s almost like a flower. The adjacent “spokes” create an additional shape that your eye naturally wants to fill in.”
“The bike was put together in two weeks, from start to finish, which left no time for testing. The ultimate surprise was that it worked the first time. Sprung steel, in particular, has a bewildering array of choices, based on the tempering or mixes, because the process to give the steel more or less “spring” is notoriously difficult to gauge without testing. And, of course, there was some initial skepticism from the manufacturer. They laughed at us when we told them what it was for!”.
My best friend illustrator Steve Try often sends me cycling design oddities he stumbles across while browsing the internet. Today I received a link to this rather bizarre design for the off beat eco cyclist who wants to take the herbs from the kitchen windowsill with them when they leave for the office. The little pots attach to your bike frame or handlebars with elastic cord. They were the imaginings of Colleen Jordan an Atlanta, GA based designer who came up with these tongue in cheek planters taking influence from the equally strange flower vase on the dashboard of the new generation VW Beetle. Collen describes, “Putting a plant in a car like that seemed to be contradictory. A lot of cyclists seem to be plant lovers as well, so the combination just seemed right in my mind.”
Personally (as a designer and cyclist) I would say that just because I like something doesn’t necessarily mean I want to attach it to my bike,… but it’s eye catching, cute and certainly less odd than the car vase. Treat your succulents to some fresh air and a bike ride! It’ll be a talking point when you roll up at work. The range also contains wearable planter jewellery.
Colleen 3D prints the planters from a porous polyamide which means excess water drains away from the plant which makes them ideal for cuttings from succulents or an air plants. I’m not sure they will catch on in the pro peloton or be seen at your next sportive but at least in a tiny way you’re doing your bit to offset your fellow commuters carbon footprint as they sit at the lights revving in their luxury saloon or spluttering white van.
If you fancy a bit of herbage fixie fun this summer you can purchase the Bike Planter in a range of colours to pimp your ride at Colleen Jordan’s Etsy store for $45.
The Race Across America (RAAM) is one of the most challenging and rewarding races in the world. It’s something that many cyclists aspire to achieve and I know it’s on the mind of at least a few of you right now.
This photo from last year’s Race Across America is one of my favorite cycling photos ever. Not only did I have to share it with all of you, I wanted to let you know more about the photographer, location, and rider pictured in it as well. It’s a beautiful cycling photo, but just might serve as motivation for you as well.
Dex Tooke in Monument Valley RAAM 2011 – Photo by Dan Joder
Date: June 17, 2011
Camera: Nikon D90, f/11, 1/125, ISO200, 70-300 Nikkor zoom at 100mm
Description of photo by Dan Joder:
This is a classic image of RAAM–the solo rider climbing a long grade in the spectacular Monument Valley. Although there was almost no traffic in the area, there were two or three cars on the road in the far distance as Dex approached my lens–I had hoped to have a completely clear highway to emphasize the feeling of emptiness and space. The clone tool in Photoshop took care of the motor vehicle problem and turned the image into what I felt and saw when I was there. I also experimented with various versions of this image from B&W to different special effects as Dex was, at one time, considering the image for the cover of his book.
Although Dan has spent the past 25 years of his life as a Cat 3 (and presently a Masters) bike racer, he doesn’t consider his photography to be focused on cycling. Generally his photos are of nature, landscapes, and streets. But when he crewed for his friend, Dex Tooke, in the 2011 Race Across America that all changed.
During last year’s RAAM, Dan’s official job was taking a shift as one of the “Navigators” in the follow van, but whenever his hands were free, he was shooting photos of Dex and the scenery around him.
Going coast to coast at 15mph is a great way to see the country! If you don’t know much about RAAM though, rest assured, it is most certainly the Mt. Everest of competitive ultra cycling. For these riders, the competition is much more an internal, psychological affair than a battle against one another. All, from the fastest to the slowest, deal with fatigue, saddle sores, hallucinations, sleep deprivation, wind, hail, heat, traffic, crew conflicts, navigation errors, mechanical issues and more in their 3000-mile crossing of America.
If you get a chance to crew for a RAAM rider–DO IT!
– Dan Joder
Last year, Dex Tooke
was on his second attempt to tame the Beast that is RAAM. You could say he had some “unfinished business” (his slogan and the likely title of his upcoming book) because, in 2010, he was forced to withdraw just 180 miles short of the finish line in Annapolis. In 2011, he was successful, crossing the finish less than three hours before the time cut-off. By doing so, he became just the sixth rider over 60 years of age to complete the event. To put this in even greater perspective, ten times
more people have climbed Mt. Everest than have successfully finished RAAM as a solo racer.
We got our hands on some digital pre release copies of “Ride” a new collection of short stories (not to be confused with British publication “Ride Journal”). Below are our collective thoughts on the Kindle and iPad versions.
I have to say that I was pretty stoked when I was asked to review the book Ride: Short Fiction about Bicycles. As a crazed bike fanatic, and a guy who enjoys short stories as opposed to a full out novel… this book sounded like something that would suit me just fine, and I was very interested in reading it.
As you can likely make out from the title, this book is composed of a bunch of short fiction stories about riding a bike. There are nine stories to be exact. Each of the stories are as different from one another as the people who wrote them, but there is a nice flow that transcends through the entire book making it a seamless journey from start to finish. I think that flow comes from the fact that each of the contributors to the book are crazed bike fanatics themselves, and their love for the bike comes shining through in each captivating story.
It’s hard to cut out one story and praise it as being the best because each of them have their special ingredients making them enjoyable and unique in their own little way. With that said, I would like to mention that one story in particular stayed with me after finishing the book. I’ve seen a few other reviews of this book, and I know I’m not alone in saying that “Red Dot” by Barbara Jay Wilson lays out a story that is sure to put a smile on your face. I’m only guessing, but I’m pretty sure that Barbara Jay Wilson is a person who spends a lot of time out there on her bike connecting with the beauty and nature that surrounds her.
Adding to these wonderful nine stories are some incredible illustrations by Taliah Lempert… so if you’re more into visuals than you are reading, this book has got you covered there as well. On top of it all, the asking price is pretty decent as well. What are you waiting for? Grab a copy and increase your bicycle fanaticism.
App Usability: 4/5
As Described: 4.5/5
I have never reviewed a book before. But I certainly have read a great number of them. I know what I like and don’t like in a good read. I love everything about cycling, though admit I will never be “good” at it. So when the editor at Cycling Short. asked me to read a pre-publication e-book entitled “RIDE” I jumped at the chance.
The book came to me via a tidy e.pub formate, but I suddenly found myself swamped with prior commitments, so I asked my husband to give it a read. Now he is an avid cyclist! And having ridden lots: Barcelona to San Sebastian, Geneva to the Stelvio, and many Classic sportives in-between I figured it would be great to get his take too.
Not half an hour into his read, he calls out to me. Have you read this first short story, “it is demented. It’s great. it’s real. But it’s totally weird. You should read it, and see what you think” Well, no I hadn’t read it yet, and I can’t say this was a common occurrence, as we generally don’t read the same books, but being a short story I dropped my work and picked up the e-reader.
And I read. It was an interesting story, a guy who wants to ride in great places around town, but needs to get behind the gated community fence to do it. He sails down the hills, he climbs with the beautiful metaphor only a well practiced cycinst and writer could combine. But from there it was exactly as Randy said it was. It was weird it was dark, it could so easily happen. Just like Steven King’s Misery, you know it can’t end well, but you keep reading. And remembering………
There are 9 short stories in the book. Some are about cycling and others in which the bike is the main character. Most are gritty, a couple are a bit cliché, but Bob’s Bike Shop a story mid-stream in the book is a very touching story that brought to mind the feel and devotion to cycling and bikes that was so well represented in the movie “Breaking Away”.
Overall, it was a good read. More about bikes than cycling in a few stories, more about people with bikes than the epic cycle or grand tour. I didn’t know what to expect, but I’d have to say I enjoyed reading most of the stories, but the flow of stories was a bit uneven. A couple I loved, a couple I just didn’t get. And one I think will definitely stick with me for a while.
App Usability: 5/5
As Described: 3/5
I love the introduction to the book by author and editor Keith Snyder…
“Love or money.
Those are the two good reasons to bring a book into existence.
Either you think it’s going to pay the rent, or you want to read it but nobody’s written it yet.
This book will not pay the rent.
Not while reading.”
It pretty much sums up the experience, it’s fresh and different from other cycling books. I have to say I’m new to “cycling fiction” but it approaches the subject from many different angles and writing styles, cycling being the common thread in the stories, or to be more precise bicycles. It’s a pick and mix which makes it great to dip into for a quick escapist bike fix, lovely illustrations throughout by Taliah Lempert. I would agree with Cristi that the flow is a bit bumpy but probably unavoidable. I found a couple of the stories a little odd and not my cup of tea, but I don’t think you can expect to like everything you read in a book that has a collection of authors and styles. The book gives you a short introduction about each of the authors and links to their own websites before their story, each entry is illustrated with one of Taliah’s paintings. The iPad app (which is the pre release version I read) is very easy to navigate allowing you to add notes, skip through chapters (as you’d expect). The layout suits an iBook app it looks fresh and it’s cleanly designed, often publishers overcomplicate the layout because they know they can make a book do anything in digital form. The publisher of this book has been more restrained and it makes it pleasant to flick through. For those who aren’t big readers of fiction, give this a go, you only need a few minutes to read some of the shorter stories and it’s peppered with illustrations to keep your eyes entertained too. The writing style is very American as are some of the storylines but it doesn’t exclude international readers. I enjoyed the variety of storytelling styles.
….I do hope it in some part helps to pay the rent for the authors, a labour of love that keeps a roof over your head is a rare but wonderful thing!
This book brings the passion of writing and cycling together in a beautifully illustrated publication. Worth a read and a great price.
App Usability: 5/5
As Described: 3/5
Ride – Short Fiction About Bicycles
Authors: Keith Snyder, Paul Guyot, Simon Woods, Stephen D. Rogers, Teresa Peipins, Christopher Ryan, Kent Peterson, Barbara Jaye Wilson, David A.V. Elver
Illustration by: Taliah Lempert
Purchase now from:
Barnes & Noble Nook edition: $3.99
From iTunes for iBook: £1.99 / $3.99
What the Author/Editor says about the book:
In this collection of short stories about bicycles, a grocery store worker finds more than he bargained for when he wangles his way into a gated community with a perfect hill for climbing…an ancient Constantinoplean invents a two-wheeled contraption to impress a girl…a bicycle reflects on its life while chained outside in New York City…an eerie rider exacts gruesome revenge on automobile drivers…
These and more in eight stories of gears, pedals, and the need to RIDE.
Submissions are now open for the next volume of Ride. If you fancy testing your writing skills and submitting a short story yourself please visit the Ride Bike Fiction website for contact details…. Who knows, we could be reviewing your work very soon!
For more information please visit the Ride Bike Fiction Website here.
A collection of specially commissioned images by twelve of the UK’s leading artists to celebrate the London 2012 Games have been unveiled. Each image is a distinct interpretation of either the Olympic or Paralympic Games by the artists, with the diversity of the series demonstrating the creative talent that exists within the UK. The images will go on show at Tate Britain in a free exhibition as part of the London 2012 Festival in the summer of 2012 and will also be featured as part of a high profile campaign to promote the London 2012 Games.
Earlier this year I stood as a model for Fiona Banner in order to create one of the Paralympic posters – “Superhuman Nude” I feel very honoured to be part of the campaign. I was over the moon when I was told that Fiona wanted to work with me for one of the London 2012 posters and I am absolutely delighted with the final product. The feedback has been fantastic so far and I can’t wait to have it hanging in my house now!
Superhuman Poster by Fiona Banner
A set of the images has been given to the Queen for the Royal Collection and to other important British art collections, including the Government Art Collection (which will be displaying the images in 10 Downing St in 2012) and the British Council (which is planning on exhibiting the images across China in 2012 as part of ‘UK Now’, the largest festival of British arts ever to be shown in China, as well as displaying the posters in British Council’s across the world).
The images will also be available to buy as both posters and limited edition prints. The posters (at a cost of £7) and a small number of limited edition prints will be available to order on the London 2012 online shop. The limited edition prints will also be for sale individually and as a special boxed set from Counter Editions, the publisher of the prints, who can be contacted on [email protected] and +44 207 684 8888.
Fiona Banner – Superhuman Nude
Fiona Banner creates nude studies from life, transcribing physical scenarios into verbal descriptions. These ‘wordscapes’ define the shapes and forms of the body as well as fleeting moments such as the tension in a second of shared eye contact, or a nervous finger tapping. Banner’s print is described as a nude study of a Paralympic Athlete. The title alludes to the extraordinary physicality of his body. She focuses on strength and physicality but also on the fragility of a human awaiting competition. Banner says ‘I liked the idea of comparing the athlete to a superhero, with some extraordinary prosthetic gift. Looking at an athlete naked made them powerful and vulnerable at once.’
See all the Olympic and Paralympic posters here.
I heard of this great event and I thought I should share…
Sunday 11th September 2011
Ride the track on your own bike between
Free bike-powered cinema
Screening: Breaking Away & The Best Seat In The World
Herne Hill Velodrome
Burbage Road, Herne Hill, London, SE24 9HE, UK
This weekend sees “Save the Velodrome” host an evening of free green entertainment, first on the bill is “have-a-go” cycling on the newly laid track at Herne Hill Velodrome followed by a bicycle powered outdoor cinema night as part of the Peckham & Nunhead Free Film Festival. The screening will be showing the cycling classic “Breaking Away” it will be accompanied by the premiere of “The Best Seat In The World,” a new documentary about Herne Hill’s Velodrome and it’s long history and struggle to stay open, it’s peppered with interviews from cyclists young and old, past and present.
It promises to be a great night for all the family, volunteers will take it in turns to have a go at powering the cinema on the special bikes provided.
For more information on the event please click here to be taken to the Free Film Festival Website.
Herne Hill Track League Grand Finale Image ©Copyright Martin Dixon
Those of our readers in the UK who compete at any level or follow professional cycling will be aware of the ongoing battle to keep the wonderful Herne Hill Velodrome open, for our readers from further afield who are less familiar with Herne Hill you may be aware of similar stories of cycling venues near to you. Herne Hill is in London, it’s been at the heart of British cycling since 1891 and manage to survive the damage it sustained during blitz of the Second World War. The velodrome was a venue in the 1948 Olympic Games, it has an amazing history and many passionate people who use the track and fight to give it an amazing future. When Herne Hill was repaired after the war it was given permanent grandstands and buildings, these are now unfortunately closed to the public because of the upkeep costs and health & safety, but if the velodrome can be given a more secure financial future and a longer lease can be obtained, then one day the grandstands will hopefully be restored to their former glory.
Herne Hill Supporters Club Image ©Copyright Pete @Fixedgear
The velodrome still continues to attract cyclists and supporters to it’s grounds, including the ever popular Good Friday Meeting that attracts cyclists of all levels from all over the world to compete.
Herne Hill is one of the oldest velodromes in the world and it has seen racing from many cycling greats including Jaques Anquetil, Fuasto Coppi and Tom Simpson. Bradley Wigginsfirst raced at Herne Hill when he was just 12.
For more information on the Save The Velodrome Campaign and events please click here.
This event is presented by Free Film Festivals in association with Herne Hill Velodrome, Electric Pedals, Hackney Bicycle Film Society and Save the Velodrome. Free energy drinks and snacks for cyclists kindly provided by Vaidas Bicycles. Future Projections provide the inflatable screen for the event.