Ey up, summat’s ‘appened: Le Grand Départ 2014

The world's greatest cycle race - in the world's greatest county

The world’s greatest cycle race – in the world’s greatest county

I really ought to have been ready. After all, I’d been standing by the side of the road for the previous three or so hours. I’d been photographing my friends and their kids, the crowds around me, the caravan as it went past, the tour maker standing next to us…even the police on motorbikes as they whizzed past.

So yes, I should have been ready.

But then the Tour de France isn’t exactly something you can practise taking photos of. Continue reading

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“Come on love, get yer kit off”

Warning: this post contains pictures of naked people.

The World Naked Bike Ride crossing Waterloo Bridge

The World Naked Bike Ride crossing Waterloo Bridge

I was heading down Old Bond Street towards Piccadilly when I saw them.

I’d spent the previous hour cycling through the side streets of Soho and Mayfair in a fruitless search for some buttons for the cardigan I’d just finished making. After trying four different haberdasheries to no avail, I decided to head to Waterloo to have a coffee and wait to catch sight of the London leg of the World Naked Bike Ride.

Except there they were in front of me – a stream of naked and semi-naked people on bikes, all heading along Piccadilly, not 20 metres ahead. As I reached the lights, I realised there were no marshals nor police escort blocking the traffic: naked flesh mingled with cars, buses and taxis. What’s more, once the lights changed to green, the cars queuing up behind me would be joining them – as would I. Continue reading

Tweed Run – 17 May 2014

A little light refreshment along the way

A little light refreshment along the way

In a narrow, winding street just off Clerkenwell Green, lined with shuttered shops and old warehouses converted into modern office space, all was quiet. Except for me and a man out walking his dog it was completely deserted. There was no indication that anything was going to happen to make this particular Saturday afternoon any different from every other Saturday afternoon in this part of town.

And then from around the corner a lone cyclist appeared, dressed in head-to-toe tweed and riding a vintage bicycle. Continue reading

So many charity rides, so little time

Cycle in London, help people like Zarri in Pakistan

Wheels for Change: cycle in London, help people like Zarri in Pakistan (photo credit: UNICEF)

Now that spring is upon us and cycling is once more a pleasure – as opposed to a cold and sodden endurance test – my thoughts are turning to doing another bike ride for charity.

But which one?

I don’t want to do the Nightrider again, that much I know. Don’t get me wrong – I had a fantastic time last year, but recovering from a 60-mile cycle and a lost night’s sleep at the same time is too much for me. I am well into my thirties now, you know.

But if not the Nightrider, then what? Continue reading

Spin Ldn – 28-30 March 2014

Spin Ldn - in the heart of Brick Lane

Spin Ldn – in the heart of Brick Lane

It was while I was talking to Jon of Fresh Fabrications that it all started to make sense. I’d been at Spin Ldn for a couple of hours by that point, and in my wanderings had noted that – compared to last year – there was little in the way of cycle fashion on display. Hold on, I thought. I thought this show was meant to be about cycling and looking good while doing so. Where’s the style?

And then Jon said something that made me look at the show afresh. I’d just confessed that the main reason why I’d like a custom bike – not that I can afford one – is so that I could have a bike that looked exactly how I wanted it to look. Rather than turning away in horror at my shallowness, Jon agreed with me. Looks are important, he said. Just like people dress a certain way to express themselves, people want a bike that says something about who they are.

And that’s when it hit me. Of course – it’s all about the bike. Continue reading

What a way to celebrate my birthday…

Heading over Tower Bridge in the early morning

Heading over Tower Bridge shortly after sunrise

Not for the first time that night, I found myself questioning my sanity. It was the early hours of the morning following my birthday; unlike most normal people, I wasn’t dancing in a dodgy nightclub somewhere, or sleeping off an evening’s drinking. No, I was on my bike, in the depths of south London, taking part in the Nightrider – a 100km sponsored cycle ride around the streets of London, starting just before midnight and finishing sometime around breakfast time.

When I’d signed up to do the ride, back in January, it had seemed like a really good idea. Challenge myself! Raise money for the MS Society! Do something different for my birthday! But as the date got closer, doubts crept in. It wasn’t so much the distance that bothered me – I’d cycled almost as far before, although admittedly not recently – so much as the fact that it was overnight. I don’t handle sleep deprivation very well at the best of times; to say I was a little concerned at how I’d cope with staying up all night and cycling was an understatement. Continue reading

Spin London – 3-5 May 2013

And the award for blingiest bike goes to...

And the award for blingiest bike goes to…

“And you know what’s so amazing? There’s no Lycra anywhere!”

Indeed there wasn’t. If cycling is to be – to quote Boris – ‘de-Lycrafied’ – then the Spin London show was a big step in the right direction.

This three-day show, held over the bank holiday weekend, was billed as the world’s first urban focused bicycle show. Combining bikes, fashion, art, music, film and more bikes, it was about cycling as means of getting around the city – and looking good while doing so.

Even the location of the event spoke volumes: no soulless corporate exhibition halls here. Instead it was held in the Truman Brewery, in the heart of east London’s Brick Lane. Amid hipster crowds out enjoying the area’s buzzing mix of markets stalls, vintage shops, cafes, bars and curry houses, the show blended right into its surroundings (literally – I walked past the entrance twice before I finally spotted it). Continue reading

Tweed-le do

A metropolitan bike ride with a bit of style

A metropolitan bike ride with a bit of style

“I say, old chap. Why don’t we don our best tweed attire, and go for a little jaunt through the big smoke on our bicycles?”

“Hear, hear! That’s a splendid idea, old chap.”

I’ve no idea if that was the actual conversation that led to the first London Tweed Run, in 2009. It must have been something along those lines because, as far as I can tell, there’s no purpose behind the Tweed Run other than going for a ride and looking rather fabulous while doing so.

Tweed run 1
Continue reading

Don’t buy me a pint – buy MS a pint

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Cycling in aid of the MS Society

As anyone who knows me will attest, I like to make a bit of a fuss about my birthday. I mean, I’m going to be a year older whether I like it or not, so why not go out and celebrate it? Most years I start planning what I’m going to do to months in advance.

In some respects this year is no different. Though it’s still two months until my birthday I know exactly what I’m going to be doing. The difference is that this year I won’t be celebrating. No going to the pub, no party, no dinner. No cider, even.

Nope. This year I’ll be cycling 100km around the streets of London at night, all in the name of charidee – in the name of the MS Society, to be precise. Continue reading

Eat, Sleep, Ride, Repeat – V&A Friday Late 29 March 2013

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Bobbin Bicycles Drawing Studio – not your normal art class

At first glance, this could be an art class anywhere. A group of students – some knelt on the floor in front of easels, others with oversize clipboards propped on their laps – sit in a circle around the model. One girl holds a pencil up, eyes squinting, to measure the model’s proportions. Others sketch intently, heads moving in a constant side-to-side motion – model, drawing, model, drawing, model. One or two look around the room as if to say, what am I doing here?

As you may have guessed by now, this isn’t an ordinary art class – and the model they’re all sketching is not an ordinary life model. No. It’s a beautiful Bobbin bike (a Bobbin Scout, I think) and this was one of the workshops at the Eat, Sleep, Ride, Repeat event at the V&A museum, held last Friday evening as part of their Friday Late series. Continue reading