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/.
2013 started off by eating grapes, in fact 12 of them, one for each chime of the clock ringing in the New Year. I was in Majorca and this was a Spanish tradition to bring good luck. It was nice to get back into a routine of training and have no distractions. Also the weather was pretty good compared to back in the UK and I managed to get 10 quality days of training in, covering a good number of miles and a plenty of climbing to boot. Back in the UK I continued race in the Manchester Regional Track League, and enjoyed getting back into the competitive side of bike riding, although the endurance side of racing has never been my speciality.
Towards the end of January I attended the London Bike Show, and although there was quite a bit of snow disrupting travel I managed to get there and back in one piece and without too many delays. The show was good fun, signing autographs on the British Cycling stand, and then doing a half hour interview on the stage with Anthony McCrossen. The bike show was also a good chance to chat to manufacturers and distributers about the coming year and meet the industry insiders.
The start of February saw me heading north to Glasgow, to ride at the final round of the Revolution track series, and the first time the series had ventured away from Manchester. Once again I was riding for Face Partnership with the endurance riders. I didn’t quite get off to as good a start as in the first round as I finished 6th in the Flying Lap, an event I’d managed a 2nd in October. The Madison kilo was a much better ride than the 1st round though, riding with Jake Ragan we managed to post a sub 60 second kilo and good enough to take the lead at the halfway point. In the end we ended up 5th, but the time and placing was an improvement from previous rounds. The bunch races went pretty well this time around, although I didn’t make any of the top ten places I had much stronger rides than in the October rounds and was more aware of what was going on around me. However still need some more racing and training to properly get in the mix and contest the finish sprints.
With unsettled weather conditions and having spent 2 days straight on the turbo, I was online booking another camp out in Majorca, this time it was only for 7 days, but it was long enough to continue working on the base fitness, and clocking in the hours. I was staying in the Playa de Palma, and it was pretty much a cycling hotel, with the hotel filled with cyclists. I was joined on a number of rides by fellow Paralympic Colin Lynch, who was staying in the same hotel. I also bumped into one of my main rivals and good friend, Jiri Jezek, who was staying a few hundred metres away in another hotel, I joined him out on a big group ride where we discussed the issues we’re having in our sport at the moment. It was good to get out riding with these guys as I do a lot of my training on my own, and when you’re on longer road rides it’s good to have someone there with you going through the same miles and hours. My fitness was on the way up, and I set a few PB’s up some of the shorter climbs on the island I use to test myself.
The camp wasn’t without a few hiccups though, as on the 2nd day I was knocked off by a car, which in itself was pretty shocking, but I was incredibly lucky and managed to escape with a few cuts and bruises. Thankfully it didn’t affect my training and I was able to finish the week strongly.
Once back home it was off to another bike show, this time the Bike and Triathlon Show in Manchester. It was a smaller event than the one in London, but certainly felt like I signed more autographs this time around.
With my fitness going in the right direction, it was time to test myself out on the road, and I was set to race in the Eddie Soens Classic at Aintree Race Course. It was the first race of the season for most people and historically has been cold and wet, but with 250 riders from all categories of racing it was going to be organized chaos! The race set off at a good speed and I was off with the Cat 2 riders in the group just ahead of the Cat 1’s and Elites. It wasn’t long before we were caught and the bunch was 250riders strong and shortly after that the first crash happened, fortunately I managed to avoid it, but with the rider on the ground each lap the bunch would have to squeeze past before regrouping. A few more laps in and there was another crash, this time I wasn’t so lucky and got caught the wrong side of it. After not quite making it back on, I ended up riding to the end of the race in a small group, and with the peloton out of our range it turned into a strong training ride. Still it was pretty enjoyable, and my legs felt pretty good throughout.
Then it was back to Majorca again, this time with almost all the GB Para-Cycling Team. It was one of the most relaxed camps I’ve been on, although the craziest weather conditions. We had sun, rain, wind, snow, and hail, but all in all it didn’t stop me getting in all the training I had planned. This camp was about adding intensity to my rides, and working on specifics that’ll hopefully convert into more speed on the track during my kilo.
Well that’s spring done and dusted, off to race at the Good Friday Meet at Herne Hill Velodrome (weather permitting) and then it’s into the meaty part of my training block, as I aim to make the 2014 Commonwealth Team.
Catch you all soon, as I keep you updated on my progress
P.S. Catch me tonight (29/03/2013) on the last show of the season of Channel4’s The Last Leg, 9.30pm on Channel 4 in the UK.
Following a road traffic accident yesterday lunchtime whilst training in Majorca near Santa Maria Del Cami, we can confirm Jody only suffered minor injuries, including a bruised hand and cuts to his knee and elbow.
He was able to finish his training ride and will remain on the island until the end of his training camp this Friday.
Jody said, “It was a very busy and I was following a car that was obviously looking for somewhere to park. Approaching a space the car slowed down and indicated right, at which point I decided it was safe to overtake and continue on my way.”
“However as I began my overtaking the car pulled to the left instead, which left me with nowhere to go and I ended up punted off the road and into the verge on the side.”
“Thankfully I am in one piece and the bike survived mostly intact”
Jody added “I have had some close encounters with cars in the UK in the past, but luckily always managed to stay on the bike. It is almost part and parcel of being a professional cyclist and I was quite lucky yesterday to walk away with only a few cuts and bruises.”
Mark on the podium celebrating gold
Mark Colbourne today set a new world record as he won his first ever Paralympic gold medal in the C1 Individual 3km Pursuit!
The Welshman punched the air with delight as he smashed the world record he set in the qualifying heat this morning and proudly waved a GB flag in the air on his lap of honour.
He beat China’s Li Zhang Yu with a time of 3:53:88 to follow the silver medal he won yesterday in the C1-2 1km time trial.
Speaking after the race, Mark explained “I’ve trained incredibly hard for this, and I’m just so pleased that I’ve got gold in front of a home crowd”
Mark broke his back in a paragliding accident in 2009, leaving him with lower leg paralysis and a difficult five months of physiotherapy to learn to walk again.
“It’s been a long three years working towards this and I’m thankful for all the help and support I’ve received. I just can’t believe that I’m here!”