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

Saturday afternoon by the canal

Enjoying the sunshine by the Regent's Canal

Enjoying the sunshine by the Regent’s Canal

“They shouldn’t allow cycling along here.  There’s just no room.”

I was out for a Saturday afternoon stroll with my friend Mark when I overheard this remark. It was a gloriously sunny day – one of the first real days of spring this year – and we’d decided the Regent’s Canal was the perfect spot to soak it up. So, it seemed, had half the population of Hackney.

“Did you hear what that woman said?” I asked Mark, already starting to feel my hackles rising.

“Yes,” Mark replied. “As it happens, I agree with her.”

As a cyclist – albeit one who rarely ever cycles along the canal towpath – this statement was like a red rag to a bull. Given that Mark is a lawyer – and therefore arguing a point is encoded into his DNA – the stage was set for a rather heated discussion. Continue reading

Why should I stay back?

One of the ubiquitous stickers on the back of a London bus

One of the ubiquitous stickers on the back of a London bus

One morning last week a set of temporary traffic lights had been set up at the junction just past my work, causing a tailback at least half a mile long. This wasn’t a problem for me – though the road is single lane, it’s at least two cars wide in places. Plenty of space for a girl on her bike to whizz through between the traffic and the pavement.

As I pedalled past the virtually stationary line of buses, lorries, vans and cars, the odd flash of yellow on the back of some of them caught my eye. I didn’t need to read them to know what they said.

Cyclists stay back. Continue reading

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers

This is getting to be a regular occurrence

This is getting to be a regular occurrence

I came off my bike again on Thursday evening – and I mean properly came off. No getting my trousers caught, or skidding down the ramp at work for me this time.

No, those were just practice runs ahead of the main event.

I was on my way home from work when it happened. I’d taken a detour to stop off at Sainsbury’s in Camden, and I was heading down Parkhurst Road towards the junction with Holloway Road when I very suddenly came off my bike.

It all happened so quickly I had no time to react at all. One second I was cycling along, thinking about dinner and getting in from the rain, and the next second I was on the ground. Continue reading

In from the cold

This is as busy as it gets on my normal commute

This is about as busy as it gets on my normal commute

I’ve been commuting in a cycling desert these past few years.

This fact was brought home to me this past Tuesday morning. I had to be in Vauxhall for a meeting that started at 9.30am, which meant – instead of my usual trek across north London – I joined thousands of others heading into the centre.

It was like no experience I’ve had for the past four and a bit years.

Continue reading

On falling off my bike

Down but not out

Down but not out

I’ve fallen off my bike twice in the past two days.

On neither occasion was I in any danger of being seriously hurt – when I say I fell off my bike, I mean exactly that. The first time was on Thursday morning; I got my trouser leg caught in my pannier rack as I was getting on my bike. I toppled over to one side, hitting the pavement with my left hip, elbow and hand. Continue reading

Happy New Year

The return to reality can sometimes be painful

I survived the return to reality – but only just

I swing my leg over the saddle and nudge my front wheel into the space between two parked cars. Glancing up and down the street, I’m struck by the silence. No cars scraping over the speed bumps. No heels clicking along the pavement. No front doors being slammed. No builders preparing for the day’s work.

A thought enters my head: have I made a mistake? Is it really today I go back to work? Should I, in fact, still be in bed? Continue reading

Cycle safety – more than just red lights and helmets

Strangely, Boris has so far been silent on the issue of using mobile phones while cycling

Strangely, Boris has so far been silent on the issue of mobile phones and cycling

Oh dear, oh dear. First there was Boris and his comments about cyclists running red lights and wearing headphones. Then there was Operation Safeway, with 2,500 police offices deployed at major junctions across London to hand out safety advice to cyclists. And now traffic police in London have reportedly been given targets for the number of cyclists they have to ticket each month.

All this in response to the recent spate of people being killed or seriously injured while cycling in London. Anyone would think it was their fault they got knocked off their bikes.

Actually, anyone would – and they do. That’s the problem. Continue reading

How do I keep finding myself here?

From this evening's protest (photo credit: London Cycling Campaign)

From this evening’s protest (photo credit: London Cycling Campaign)

Two years ago, when the news broke that a female cyclist in her 30s had been killed at Bow roundabout, my dad says his first thought was that it was me.

My parents tend to keep their fears to themselves, so I didn’t actually find this out until it had been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was alive and well – in other words, after I’d phoned them. Equally, while I’m sure the news this past week has had my mum lying awake at night worrying about me, I haven’t heard a peep out of them.

Because, let’s face it, for the parent of a cyclist in London, this has not been a good week.
Continue reading

Ever feel like you’ve been cheated?

An increasingly common occurrence now the nights are drawing in?

An increasingly common occurrence now the nights are drawing in?

One extra hour in bed. One measly little extra hour in bed. That’s hardly adequate compensation for six months of having to cycle home in the dark, is it? If it’d been an extra hour in bed every day things might be different. But it’s not, so they’re not.

I pride myself in not being a fair weather cyclist – I cycle to work day in, day out, all year round, in almost all weathers. Yet it’s always around this time of year – when the clocks have gone back and winter is just around the corner – that the temptation to abandon my trusty steed in favour of the Overground is at its strongest.

As if the thought of the long dark ride home weren’t enough to put me off, there’s also the small matter of tomorrow’s predicted storm to contend with.

My resolve could do with all the help it can get right now. Continue reading