Archive for the 'Misc' Category


Apr 15, 2008

Las Vegas: it sure ain’t green


Interbike will be held in Las Vegas this year and next. After that? Who knows?

Could be Denver or Anaheim, says Lifeboat Solutions Lance Camisasca on BRAIN.

Denver would be good for industry rides, although not as warm as this one to Lake Mead and back:



Carried below is the latest news from Nevada’s City of Lost Wages. Who else thinks a dedicated seafood buffet in the middle of a bakin’ hot desert can’t be good for the planet?

“From Indonesian freshwater prawns to Pacific salmon, Alaskan king crab, Canadian snow crab, shrimp from China and slipper tail lobster from Southeast Asia, the Village Seafood Buffet purchases more than 200 tons of fresh seafood annually.”

And while the MGM Grand may attract Interbike attendees with the first ‘Ultra Pool’ in Las Vegas - 53,000square feet of aqua-hedonism - exactly how bio-aware is the provision of “two saltwater pools – and six cascading waterfalls” in a city that already has enough pointless water features? Read the rest of this entry »



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Mar 26, 2008

Cut up by a car? Carve your name on the side


Not on a lovely metal car, of course, one of these wooden ones:



Udo Haase, a wood carver from Kiel in Germany, created a 1:1 replica of a Mercedes 300 SL last year and then went and trumped it by later making a Ferrari 250 GTO.

Unlike the beasties with engines, these two benign vehicles can’t go very fast. But, should making cars out of wood catch on, at least we could punish any bad driving by using an Olympic-style parabolic mirror to let the driver know he’s upset us.

Mind you, that could inflame, ahem, the war between cyclists and motorists. There are now so many wooden bikes, a special splintering-and-burning clause would have to be placed in Bike Snob NYC’s proposed peace treaty between cyclists and motorists.



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Feb 22, 2008

Wordpress woes as white turns blue


Are there any Wordpress experts out there who can help me? All of a sudden the white Quickrelease.tv words at the top of the screen have turned blue, as have the site’s hyperlinks.

I’ve not changed anything, that I know of. Any ideas? TIA.



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Feb 11, 2008

Vote QR.tv in North East England comp!


Hello, Friends of Fatty. Here’s one of the voting links mentioned by Fatty. Thanks for your time.

Best podcast

The original article now continues…

My home city may not be getting 12 two-wheeler superhighways and the local campaign group may be in a state of suspended animation but Newcastle is still a fine place to bicycle. Newcastle cyclists generally don’t cut through red lights like Londoners and aside from a few ugly pile ups here and there, Newcastle doesn’t have quite the same them-and-us, bike-v-car problems.

Newcastle also has the stunning, and bike friendly, Town Moor, the country’s biggest HomeZone and a load of scenic cycle paths on former waggonways thanks to the city’s industrial heritage.

The city has hosted top class MTB events such as the Nissan Qashqai Urban Challenge:

The race and ride scene is pretty lively, too. Of course, there’s Newcastle Phoenix, the utterly fantastic youth cycling club for which I’m a coach; August’s Great North Bike Ride, and there’s the Northern Rock Cyclone sportive, now one of the UCI’s Golden Wheel events. On 11th September Newcastle is hosting a stage of this year’s Tour of Britain pro bicycle race.

“On its first visit to the North East, [the Tour] will begin in Darlington and wend its way northwards past key iconic locations in the North East, with a planned stage finish in NewcastleGateshead.”

In 2002, Newsweek nominated Newcastle as one of the world’s top eight creative cities. No other British city was listed.

And it’s also a thriving digital city. In recognition of this, regional development agency One NorthEast (ONE) and The North East Regional Portal (TNERP) have created the North East Digital Awards 2007. These awards are “designed to recognise and celebrate digital advancement within the region in a unique and practical way. The Digital Awards will showcase the best of the region’s talent, and will help inspire those who haven’t yet joined the digital age to embrace the significant opportunities it offers.”

Which neatly brings me to the shameless plug. Quickrelease.tv is up for three of the awards. The site will be judged by an independent panel but you - pretty please - can help influence the judges by voting for the site in the following categories:

Best blog

Best podcast

Best use of video




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Jan 30, 2008

Building bikes: it’s not rocket science


Actually, it is. Sort of.

At the trade-only Core bike show, held in Northamptonshire earlier this week, Chris Hewings, European sales director of the American Bicycle Group, let slip that Litespeed was making the legs for the latest NASA Mars lander.

“There aren’t many companies that can work with such thin titanium tubes,” said Hewings.

Litespeed, now owned by ABG, was born in the early 1990s, growing out of Southeast Machine, a ti-specialist which made underground tanks for liquid gun powder for US government agencies.



NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander, launched on 4th August last year and will land in the far north of Mars on 25th May.

It will use a robotic digging arm and other instruments during a three-month period to investigate whether icy soil of the Martian arctic could have ever been a favorable environment for microbial life. The solar-powered lander will also look for clues about the history of the water in the ice and will monitor weather as northern Mars’ summer progresses toward fall.

It will then go on a Grand Tour of Mars, notching up PB’s and palmares as it goes.



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Jan 29, 2008

Beckham’s Boyzilian mainstreams bloke’s leg waxing




Funny, but there’s not one mention of cycling in the Guardian’s recent leg waxing article for men.

However, those male cyclists who want their quad and calf muscles to look their best can rest assured that their desire for depilatorial perfection is now almost normal.



According to The Guardian, more and more men are wandering into salons for wax treatments.

Full on Brazilian waxes - a bikini-line wax with knobs on - are not yet popular with men (why ever not?) but clean legs are definitely in, says The Guardian.

“Most of my clients are men…They come from every walk of life and profession - accountants, stockbrokers, teachers, boxers, models - but I’ve noticed that a lot of my clients are in the building trade…A year ago I was doing three men a week. Now I am doing three men a day. I don’t know why it has suddenly become more popular, but when people come in they do mention David Beckham. Now that celebrities like him are open about waxing, it makes other men feel more comfortable about it.”
Kim Lawless, Brazilia Waxing Studio in Upminster, east London

RANDOM CYCLIST LEG WAXING VID (warning: includes grown man cussing, he should have sugared, instead):


Pix: Taken at the Cape Argus Pick N’ Pay Expo in South Africa.



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Jan 17, 2008

From Romans to Rockets



Had a bit of an epic ride on Monday. Brian Smith, a fellow coach at Newcastle Phoenix cycling club, said he had a free day and would I like to join him on a ride.

It was cold and wet, and forecast to stay that way all day. I suggested we explore a small corner of the Spadeadam Wastes, close to an evocative section of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland.



We started at Birdoswald Roman fort. I wanted to follow a submerged Roman road by using the SatMap GPS device for bikes (this uses OS maps, a review will follow).


The route was a toughie, it took two hours to ‘ride’ the first 10 miles. Close to the end there was a river that had to be waded. This was the first ride I’ve been on with Brian. He might not want to let me choose the route in future…

The route went close to RAF Spadeadam, which isn’t marked on OS maps. This is one of Europe’s top two electronic warfare testing bases. There are ‘do-not-enter-or-you-are-breaching-Official-Secrets-Act’ signs on the tarmac road leading to the base, but no such warning signs on the severely under-used bridleway skirting the site.



Why the rockets in the headline? In the 1950s, Spadeadam was the testing site for Blue Streak, the UK’s would-be intercontinental ballistic missile. Had it not been cancelled, it might have also gone on to become the start of Britain’s space programme. Don’t laugh, it was seriously considered at the time.

The RAF base is littered with dummy tanks and aircraft to make it look like a Russian airbase from the air. NATO jets use the base for electronic jamming training.

This is probably the only bike ride in the UK where you can cycle close to Russian surface-to-air missile launchers. There’s even a hamlet called Moscow.

Brian was on a Specialized MTB. I wanted to see if I could cope on my Kona Jake-the-Snake cyclo-cross bike. I could.

After this punishing short ride, the historical resonances continued. We took tea (in fact, hot choc and a fruit cake) in the faded Gilsland Spa Hotel. This is famous for being the location where, in 1797, novelist Sir Walter Scott proposed to his French wife.

More pix on this slide show, check out the Scotchlite flashing on the Altura jacket.

Click for Animoto-created slideshow on YouTube:

Cycling is fashionable

In the 1980s, cycle clobber had its fifteen minutes of fame. Lycra skin shorts - sans padded inserts - were considered cool. The BBC’s I Love…1987 programme said: “Cycle racing has always been regarded as a rather nerdy occupation, so how [cycling shorts] became fashionable is beyond comprehension. Some regarded cycling shorts as a huge turn-on, as they revealed even more than the hotpants of the Seventies. But that was until even the hugest, most cellulite-riddled backside was squeezed into neon-coloured skin tight Lycra.”

Being fashionable is good for selling hot cakes but stock goes stale quickly because fickle fashionistas need to be surfing the next wave not waddling around in past-its-sell-by date Spandex. Hardcore cyclists are in it for the long term and don’t particularly want cycling to become fashionable again. Cycle fashion shows such as last year’s Pret a Rouleur and Hackney’s Heels and Wheelsshow staged on Valentine’s Day would be anathema to them.

But the world of fashion doesn’t care what we think. In fact, fashion labels are quite happy to ride roughshod over underground bicycle campaigns. For New York Fashion Week - sponsored by Mercedes Benz - DKNY released a load of orange bikes into the wild, chaining them to lamp-posts. Not Orange as in belt-drives and Patriots but orange as in Dulex. The fashion label’s painted bikes were meant to “get people thinking and talking about bicycles as a healthy and fashionable way to get around the city.”

The campaign enraged bicycle advocates because it seemed to mirror the placement of white Ghostbikes across the city, symbols of fatal car-v-bike smashes. The Gothamist blog called the campaign “misguided and terribly executed.”

A DKNY commissioned video on YouTube rubbed salt in the wounds:

This vid features two ’supermodels’ fighting with a cardboard car and actually riding the despised orange bikes. You’ve got to love the line ‘If supermodels can’t solve the world’s problems, then I don’t know who can,” but DKNY’s attempt at street cool didn’t generate much heat outside of bike blogs.

However, the publicity stunt allows me to remark that fashion designers seem to be disproportionately attracted to cycling.

Fashion designers Jeff Banks and Sir Paul Smith are avid roadies. Smith’s company has sponsored cycle teams, and Banks Jnr owes his love of cycling to Banks Snr:

“My dad was a racer before the war. He bought me an Italian racing bike when I was 11, and I suppose I’ve never looked back. There’s not a major col in the Alps or Pyrenees that I haven’t climbed. I suppose I do it for the sense of achievement you get when you complete rides like that. It’s amazing.”

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood co-created Punk and she cuts a dash on her daily cycle commute in south London. Because of her extravagent dress sense she’s pretty much unmissable but the giveaway is the wire-haired fox terrier in the basket.

Wayne Hemingway, the co-founder of 1980s label Red or Dead, famous for its recycled denims, is so pro-cycling his new company even markets a bike shed and a folding bike. The Shack-up bike shed is lower than a garden shed, can hold four bikes and there’s a compartment for garden equipment or bike stuff. And want a Hemingway bike to put in the shed? Cough up a deposit on flat in a social housing scheme, the Road Runner folding bike is only available in quantities of 250 and is targeted at housing developers. At fifty eight quid a pop the Road Runner is no looker, and is light on innovation, but it’s all part and parcel of Hemingway’s desire to get more people on bikes.

He helped to design a new housing development in Gateshead, the pro-bike Staiths South Bank. It’s Britain’s biggest HomeZone and has a bike pool facility for residents.

Another fashion designer with his head screwed on right is Giles Deacon, the British Fashion Designer of the Year for 2007. He has expensive tastes (favourite hotels: Hôtel Costes in Paris, the Principe di Savoia in Milan and the Chateau Marmont in LA) but he’s still a down-to-earth Cumbrian lad who knows bikes are best. On Sunday he told The Observer: “I adore London and, if I have time off, I’ll just explore the city - visiting exhibitions. I like cycling everywhere. I have done so since I moved here 20 years ago.”

But my favourite fasionista is GQ columnist Scott Schuman. His massively popular and worryingly addictive blog - The Sartorialist - is dripping with good taste. It features smartly dressed folks from cities around the world, all photographed by Schuman and with just the shortest of captions. Click on the ‘bicycle’ tag and you fall into a world of beautiful people on bikes, from “All Cute Girls in Europe Ride Bikes Everywhere, Wearing Cute Clothes, All Day!” to The Very Personification Of A Sexy Summer. Oh, and there are some pix of men, too.

I think Schuman’s personalised approach to what’s truly fashionable is eye-opening. And his liking for bicycles is welcome. As a bunch - and I know you’ll say ’speak for yourself, mate’ - cyclists are not always the best looking clan out on the streets. Fluoro yellow isn’t terribly becoming and polystyrene prophalactics give you helmet hair. The Sartorialist shows it’s possible to look classy and still ride a bike.



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Dec 07, 2007

It’s the start of the Christmas repeats


Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman has been shown on British television every year since 1982. Nobby Holder is wheeled out every year because of Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody from 1973. Could the bicycle world’s equivalent be last year’s wonderful composition commissioned by Specialized?

The US bike company commissioned experimental musician – and cyclist – Flip Baber to produce a short orchestral piece to accompany an animated rear cog. And, yes, the road and mountain bike used for the twanging, banging and plucking were from the big squiggly S.

Flip Baber - aka Johnny Random - was commissioned to write the Christmas card piece in November last year.

He said: “”I recorded all the takes at different points during one day since there was construction going on near my studio. The next day I edited the sounds and took the best takes and then everything was interpreted and composed within about 4-5 hours, including the mixdown.

“I came up with some really far out sounds in my bike recordings, but couldn’t use them on this project because they were either too dissonant or weren’t easily recognizable as ‘bike’ sounds.”

The ‘happy holidays’ card and music still lives on the Specialized website. The piece is a glockenspiel-free rendition of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ from ‘The Nutcracker Suite.’

The glockenspiel and clarinet melody was created with spokes. The cello and violin pizzicatos were created with plucked derailleur cables. The tingly triangle was a bash on to a disc brake.The percussion was a medley of shifting, coasting, finger over turning spokes, chain pulls, braking, clipping into pedals, back-spinning, and air pssssing out of tyres.

This isn’t the first time bicycles have been used in a musical composition. In 1980 Godfried-Willem Raes first staged his Second Symphony for ‘Singing Bicycles’, an “open air event scored for a minimum of twelve cyclists with their own bicycles.”



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Dec 03, 2007

‘Missing’ Interbike video is found by Fred


David ‘TheFredcast’ Bernstein’s twitterings reveal that he’s now “uploading audio and video versions of The Spokesmen #24 (the lost episode) from Interbike 2007.”

That’s the episode filmed at Interbike and which brought on bike bloggers in quick succession. Get the video here.

The Quickrelease.tv video, which also starred David Bernstein, is already available online.



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Nov 25, 2007

Phoenix rises in Blakelaw


The club at which I’m a coach moved on Saturday. The Newcastle Phoenix is now at Blakelaw Park in Newcastle, a move from the Town Moor’s Exhibition Park.



Click on the arrow above for an Animoto-mashed slide show of the successful first day at the new venue. It’s a Newcastle Football Development Scheme site, co-funded by Newcastle City Council and Barclays Spaces for Sports. The ‘no bikes’ bit is a reference to the all-weather footy pitches.

Getting to Blakelaw Park is now a bit of an expedition for me and my boy. Thanks to wonder that is Google Earth I was able to map out a route that took in a lot of Newcastle’s Town Moor. And thanks to Kona’s Jake the Snake cyclo-cross bikes we were able to slosh our way through the mud to be on time for the club’s first coaching session at Blakelaw.



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