The invisible cycling helmet… possible?
It Sounds like an April Fool, but design students Anna and Terese say they are, ‘Going to save the World’. A bold claim indeed, but these two young designers don’t seem to be phased by the male dominated product design sector and took on a seemingly impossible challenge as an exam project. Something no one had done before. It could be revolutionary if they can pull it off. They see the bicycle as a tool to change the world; the future they say, ‘Cars are yesterday’. The duo believes if we use bikes AND travel safe: Life will be better for all. They have worked on the project for seven years so far so this isn’t just a gimmick to turn heads at their final degree show.
It’s been two years in the making but Danny’s childhood dreams have finally come to life. Above is the trailer and below the much anticipated finished article, you won’t be disappointed!
The Unexpected Randonneur
I quite often like to jump on my bike after work and pootle about town. Working in a bike shop, there’s not much time to actually ride the damn things. So on a nice day I’ll take my road bike into work, make sure she’s good to go and head straight out after locking up the shop. Head east, maybe do a few laps of Regent’s Park, an unspecified number of ascents up Swain’s Lane (aka the Alp d’Highgate), a ride south into Soho for a coffee and cake.
It’s the times when I think to myself that ‘I should head north’ that the world becomes more interesting and infinity more painful.
Cycling is an odd hobby. Some rides will be utterly unmemorable, others will burn themselves into ones neurons for life. The sights, the smells! See the magnificent Ikea, the glorious Tottenham substation, the enormous Matalan at Brimsdown! Experience the heady aromas of Hackney municipal dump!
Sometimes, this is all I see: London in all its disgusting, but very beautifully human, glory.
But there are times, the odd time, when a small alley or lane catches ones eye and I am pulled towards it, intrigued by the promise of the unknown. Without warning, I find myself tumbling down the rabbit hole and being sucked into the magnificent world of *le rouleur*.
I took one such turn earlier, and as the busy main road fell away, the landscape melted almost instantly into the kind of scene that would make Nigel Farage shed a single tear and salute a pint of warm bitter.
The willows formed an arch across the road, a single track that wound it’s way west from Enfield. The few houses are collecting moss and fallen twigs on their roofs. the owner carrying in firewood for the evening.
I push on, finding my legs in this novel summer evening sun. Short hedges enclose the road, half concealing the miles of rolling fields on either side. A line of electricity pylons snakes across the landscape, disappearing far into the distance on my right.
That such sights can be found within the m25 astounds me, it leads me to explore and discover more and more. It draws me in, pushes me to ride further and further.
Before I know it, it’s 9pm, the sun is setting and, most disturbingly, my ipod is showing signs that it’s not been charged in a while. My front light cuts a path in the badly potholed near-dirt tracks, the rising full moon, almost orange in the sky, casts a warm glow over the rollings fields either side of the road.
The thrill of discovery is beginning to be offset by a cold wind.
I roll into Potters Bar with numb fingers. I should eat something, I’ve not had anything since lunch. A BLT and a packet of fruit pastilles from the Co-Op, and a lucozade to refill my energy bottle – having consulted the gps, I’m ready to go again.
Now this is a race. The cold is setting in, I’m in short bibs and short sleeve jersey. My feet are numbing from the wind. I need to move fast, to build heat and to get home before the worst of the night takes hold. Cadence must be high, speed must be high, effort must be high. I smack up a few gears and start working my quads. Knees out, sweeping through arcing turns, illuminated by the light of the moon my legs pump in time with the symphony in my ears (Elgar’s Planets, for the interested). A fork in the road. Stop, check Google maps. Go.
Cut through little hamlets, houses solitary with wood fires burning, visible through the front windows as I power past, a red and white streak in the night.
It’s hard to explain why or when I started to panic. I knew where I was going, but the cold and the tiredness and the fact that I’m 20 miles minimum from home took its toll. While I was skirting the m25, this village world around me felt like I was riding hundreds of miles from home with nowhere to stay and no way to get back. Stop, check gps. No, I took a wrong turn a while back there. Turn around or find another route?
When I finally find myself in Radlett, which while far from home, is at least on an old training route of mine, and therefore familiar, it’s the boost I needed. Turning south, I know I’m on the home straight. I can ride to Stanmore and jump the tube back to Kilburn from there.
Hills that used to have me panting in the granny ring are now stomped at 21mph. I have conquered, and everything will be ok. Then, without warning, my front light turns off. The cold has shorted the switch and it’s now flicking through the settings, cycling between 100 and 500 lumens. I power onwards into the night.
The transformation from gentle rise to powerful sprint is not something I resent (especially now I’ve had a chance to warm up!). There are many sides to cycling. Relaxing in the warm evening sun and belting through the freezing night air are two completely different angles on an activity that seems to have as many faces as it does riders.
Riding fixed, single speed, town riding, commuting, randonneuring, audax, touring, sportive, racing, polo, 4 cross, downhill, bmx – hundreds of ways of enjoying the simple sensations of riding a bike.
Needless to say I got home. My light switching off on the final descent into Stanmore was interesting. I was travelling at 40mph with no helmet, no goggles and now, no light. But it switched on at the bottom. The stop start all the way home (do you really think I’d have caught the tube?) was offset by the warm London air (heated by 7 million people’s bodily emissions). My iPod held on to the bitter end, finally running out as I rolled into my estate. Front light was on and off, but I survived with my 10 lumen backup. All in, 59 miles or 95 kilometres in 3 and a half hours. Not too shabby for a quick ride after work.
While great training for the long rides I have planned this year, something more profound hit me. The beauty of riding is dulled by working the shop, selling people the idea of what I’ve just done. The freedom, the sunshine, the exploration of nature’s wonder.
Unlike other professions where romanticised ideals are used to sell, in cycling I have a hobby that can take me out of my front door and show me that ideal – and make me fall in love with it all over again. For that, I am truly grateful!
Are we looking at a #bloodycyclist revolution in London?
When car driver Emma Way last week tweeted ‘’definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier – I have right of way he doesn’t even pay road tax! #bloodycyclists’’ , she could never have guessed the effect of her comments. Cyclists quickly vented their anger at her on Twitter via the hasthtag #bloodycyclists, spurring on a more interesting and needed general debate about cycling safety.
In the last decade, London has seen a massive cycle movement unfold increasing 173% since 2001, more recently helped by Mayor Boris Johnson’s personal passion for cycling and his roll out of the Barclays ‘Boris Bikes’ hire bike scheme. This coupled with the establishment of the ‘ride to work’ scheme by employers, which let’s employees pay back the cost of their bike taxfree over a 12 month period and the growth of several urban cycling community groups, means the London cycling movement has gone from being a fringe green movement to a mainstream one in a relatively short space of time.
But issues facing cyclists in London are manyfold; the most pressing is unquestionably safety. In an already crowded city, cyclists compete daily with larger, noisier and more dangerous vehicles at all times and many city dwellers who would otherwise gladly hop on their bike to commute to work, are far too intimidated to do so. Until recently, the general sentiment was that the Greater London Authority was ignoring these concerns, in favour of more interesting infrastructure challenges.
In March this year something remarkable happened, the Mayor’s new cycle commissioner Andrew Gilligan promptly announced new cycling plans, that are set to be the most ambitious seen in London to date. The plans scoped out nearly £1 billion worth of investments, including a segregated cross rail style cycling superhighway, a London underground style cycling route network following tube lines and more quiet routes, in addition to addressing many of the safety concerns highlighted by campaigners such as HGV movements etc.
But there is issues with these plans; the main one being that Transport for London (TFL) only own 5% of London’s roads, the rest are owned by individual councils and it will therefore be upto the GLA to approve plans within boroughs, an unquestionably lengthily and bureaucratic process.
On Tuesday 4th June, Andrew Gilligan will headline the HUB Eco Series event ‘Will we finally see a cycling revolution in London’, examining the cycling plans he announced. Pistonheads editor and keen cyclist Dan Trent and cycle blogger Julian Sayarer will both comment on his plans, followed by a Q&A session with the audience.
Are you a #bloodcyclist concerned about cycling in London? If so you know where you should be on Tuesday 4th June. Book tickets via http://londoncyclingrevolution.eventbrite.co.uk/.
members can look forward to getting off to a great start at the Great Manchester Cycle, with an exclusive start zone ahead of other riders.
Following on from the resounding success of last year’s sell-out event, which saw 7,000 riders take to the city’s closed roads, The Great Manchester Cycle is set to return on Sunday 30th June 2013: bigger and better than before.
The initiative will be in effect across all distances and will mean that members will carry the British Cycling logo on their event number and be guaranteed the best start possible on the day. With Manchester’s National Cycling Centre
being the organisation’s headquarters, the event will truly be taking place on home turf and is the perfect chance for British Cycling to thank their members.
“The Great Manchester Cycle was a brilliant event last year and it was fantastic to see so many cyclists lining up ready to go – and just a stone’s throw from our offices!” said Gavin Finch, Head of Marketing at British Cycling. “We’re incredibly grateful to our members and wanted to give those taking part the best event experience on the day, offering a unique opportunity to lead out the thousands of riders with nothing but clear roads ahead.”
The 13-mile lap starts and finishes at the Etihad Campus (home of Manchester City FC
) and includes a stretch along the iconic Mancunian Way. This part of the route will offer cyclists a once in a lifetime opportunity to ride on the motorway that on any other day is out of bounds.
As in 2012 riders will have the choice of three distances, designed to cater for all abilities from club cyclists through to families wanting to take on the challenge together. There’s ‘A Great Day Out’ over 13 miles, ‘Rule the Roads’ over 26 miles, or, for the more established riders, ‘Break Away from the Pack’ over 52 miles.
, who brought home Britain’s first medal of the Olympic Games last summer in the cycling road race, took part in the Great Manchester Cycle in 2012 and described the event as “a fantastic day out”.
Entry for each route will cost just £20 for adults and £5 for kids. Children aged 3-7 can take part in the 13-mile route for free, but will need to use either a tag-a-long bike or children’s bike trailer/seat.
For further information on the route, event details and how to enter please visit: www.greatcycle.org
Ride the London Cycle Sportive for Herne Hill Velodrome
The Herne Hill Velodrome Trust has been given 200 places on the upcoming London Cycle Sportive, organised by Human Race Events, and they’re up for grabs on a first come first serve basis. The event is on Sunday 30 June 2013 and you can save at least £35 by riding as part of Team Velodrome. All you have to do is raise £100 in sponsorship.
Taking in some of the best climbs and routes in the London area, you can chose from three distances; 50km, 100km, and 160km. All of them head out to Biggin Hill, then the longer ones complete a loop of the Surrey hills and infamous Box Hill.
Money raised by Team Velodrome will go towards the next stage of the campaign, to provide a brand new pavilion and secure the site for generations to come. For more information on taking part and to get your free entry code to the London Cycle Sportive, visit http://hhvt.org/support/fundraise/index.html
Nick Rusling of Human Race said; “The event offers the chance to combine a road cycling challenge with an exhilarating velodrome finish at Herne Hill. Team Velodrome is an aspect of the event which will make it really special and we are aiming to make sure it happens every year. Being able to support this is hugely rewarding for us at Human Race.”
Shiny New Website
The Herne Hill Velodrome Trust is also delighted to unveil its new website, at www.hhvt.org, which combines updates on the progress of the campaign, information on how to get involved, join the Friends, and what our next goals are. Lesley Pinder, Trustee behind the new website, said; “We wanted to bring together all the news, project updates and ideas for how people can help the campaign, and the new website does exactly that. We also wanted to reflect all the individuals and companies who have helped us get this far – and appeal to people to help us keep it all going”