Tag Archives: cycling

I’m an official London 2012 blogger!

A few months ago, I entered my details into the BT search for storytellers who could write, film, and blog the London 2012 Olympic games. About a month back I heard that I was on the shortlist and I needed to write more information about why I should be chosen.

A couple of days ago, I was told that I have the job. I will be blogging and tweeting live from the Olympics.

The preferred sports I asked to be closest too are cycling, boxing, and diving, but I have not had a full briefing yet so I don’t know exactly when I should get started and what my boundaries are.

What I do know is that this should be a great opportunity to see the Olympic games from the inside, as someone who is a part of the machine telling the world about what happens in London in 2012.

I’m really looking forward to being an Olympic writer and I already have a lot of ideas about how to start blending London 2012 with Rio 2016…

London Olympic Torch Relay Finale

London to Cornwall on a bike

I did manage to get all the way down to Lands End last week. I followed the whole length of the A30 on my bicycle.

One of the things you find when you spend hour after hour cycling is that it’s not so much the physical exertion that matters, but the mental willingness to just do nothing but cycle for hours. It’s something you hear with long distance runners, they enter a zone where the focus is on the next step. I can’t say I’m in the league of a pro athlete, but when yet another big hill stretches out in front of you and after an enjoyable ride in gear 21, it’s down to gear 1 for a walking-pace struggle uphill, I know how they feel.

Running a marathon or riding long distance is one of those things that is enjoyable before you do it – because of the anticipation – and enjoyable to recall afterwards. There is a strong sense of achievement. But the actual time spent doing it is full of pain and discomfort…!

I wasn’t even doing this ride for charity, it was just to get out of London for a few days on my bike, so it was sometimes hard to push on. When I cycle in London, it is rarely beyond 10 miles – you can get from the suburbs into town in usually less than that, but when cycling across country, it’s always 20-more-miles-before-taking-a-break!

Anyway, if I do another long distance ride, I’ll probably arrange to meet some people along the way, perhaps organise it on Twitter, so people can join for a chat and ride for 10 miles or so before they head home…
Penzance harbour

Ealing on Sunday

Ealing was certainly the place to be yesterday.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was hosting a Sky Ride all through the local area. This involved shutting a large number of local roads to make a circuit all around Ealing where cyclists could enjoy the sun without dodging cars or buses – Ealing became a cycling paradise for the day and over 11,000 registered cyclists took part. I went around the course and I wasn’t on the official registered list, and I saw plenty of other people just joining at random too…
Ealing Sky Ride

Then later in the day I was at Walpole park for the annual opera in the park event – Tosca this year. I had seats in the front row and it was an excellent show. Tosca is a tragic opera and the action kept everyone going – considering how hot it was out there in the park it must have been difficult for the performers. The pianist even had to take off his jacket…

Tosca in Walpole Park, Ealing

And all this, after spending Saturday down in Somerset drinking scrumpy…!

Cycling the A30

I live in Ealing and just down the road from me is the start of the A30, skirting around the south side of Heathrow airport. I know the A30 road pretty well as I grew up on the border of Surrey and Hampshire in Blackwater – a small town with no real claim to fame other than Surrey, Hampshire, and Berkshire all meet there so you can be in three counties in minutes.

What’s interesting though is that this road beginning close to my present home, and running past the town I grew up in, stretches on for about 500km to Land’s End in Cornwall.

Why not cycle the whole length just for fun?

So that’s what I’m going to do in late July. Hopefully the weather will be nice. I’ll take it easy and just do it over 5 days so I can enjoy some of the pit stops along the way. Two years ago I was bored one day and jumped on my bike and headed for Manchester… I stayed in Northampton the first night and Derby the second then got there the following day.

This will be a bit more planned and at a more leisurely pace, but it’s quite exciting to just head off on my cycle with a long journey ahead taking several days and only the kit I can pack into one backpack for the entire trip… As I plan some more I’ll blog it here.

Bike being repaired

Do you cycle in London?

I’m a London cyclist. I spent years cycling as a commuter from Muswell Hill to the City, then Mayfair when I changed job. Now I’m based in Ealing and I still use my bike to head into central London, though less often than I used to because I no longer have a job that needs me in the same place everyday. I still use my cycle to get around west London though.

I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday and she thought it was funny – “you on a bike?” I’ve turned up to the House of Lords for a meeting in riding gear once, much to the displeasure of the suited peers, until someone mentioned how incredible it is that someone is cycling to a meeting, at which point everyone started talking about the environment… and in 2008 I jumped on my bike in Ealing one day and cycled to Manchester, just because it was summer and I had a couple of days to spare.

But I started cycling regularly for a number of reasons. It’s faster than public transport in London, it’s fun, it’s free (sure, you need to maintain your bike, but it’s relatively free), and it’s fitness that you can get without needing to block out gym time… it’s exercise on the way home from work or on the way to a meeting so it’s a lot easier to find the time.

The biggest fear people have of cycling in London is safety. Even those of us with a lot of city cycling experience can end up under the wheels of a lorry, just because the driver is not paying attention – three cyclists have died this way in London so far this year.
Police on bicycles at Waterloo bridge

The London Cycling Campaign is endlessly working to improve safety, and has had some recent practical success like ensuring that the 3,000 truck drivers working on the Crossrail project will all be safety-trained to be aware of cyclists. But’s it not enough. One visit to a city like Amsterdam shows that the general public can and will use cycles to get around a city for short journeys – if they feel safe. The LCC is calling for:

– Compulsory cyclist-awareness training for lorry-drivers
– Banning lorries from cycle routes or during rush hour
– Better-designed lorries for the urban environment, including mirrors
– Stricter enforcement of current speeding and road laws

Take a look at the LCC website to find out more, and have fun if you are on the Critical Mass ride this evening. It’s always a great spectacle, but with a real message too.
Critical Mass Los Angeles