Don’t you just hate YouTube?

YouTube is so all-powerful, it’s crazy. Because it has such a bonkers big global audience it can serve ‘related videos’ to millions of viewers, and the other online video sites don’t stand a bloody chance.

I’m not really complaining, I love the fact my YouTube vids have had 794,900 total views, but I put a lot of effort into promoting my Bicycle Anatomy video on yet it’s now been overtaken by the same video placed on YouTube at a later date and given zero link love.

Bicycle Anatomy for Beginners from on Vimeo.

That’s the Vimeo version. It’s hi-res, it can be downloaded in different formats, it players better in the full-screen format. It has been embedded by a whole host of big sites, such as,,, and

But despite all this, the ruddy YouTube version has had 8061 views and rising. The hyper-linked Vimeo version has had 7314 total views.

WADA works on new test for performance-enhancing drug

In May, reported that pro racing cyclists have started to experiment with a new drug, Sildenafil. This is not currently on the World Anti-doping Agency’s prohibited substances list. It was developed to improve blood circulation but was later found to have performance-enhancement uses.

A 2006 study published by the Journal of Applied Physiology (JoAP) and reported in Science Daily claimed that the drug can significantly enhance performance at altitude in some cyclists. However, WADA is not thought to be in favour of banning Sildenafil.

The JoAP study tested 69 trained cyclists at sea level and in an altitude chamber stimulating 12,700 feet (3870 m) above sea level. No benefit was gained at sea level, but the Sildenafil group improved its performance over a six kilometre time trial at altitude by 15 percent over the group given a placebo.

WADA’s spokesman Frédéric Donzé confirmed that the drug is not banned in competition, but said that the agency is looking into the matter.

“WADA is aware of the high altitude study presented in Science Daily. WADA monitors this substance, as it does with many other substances, and is currently funding a research project on the performance-enhancing potential of Sildenafil at various altitudes.”

Should a ban be forthcoming, which commentators say is likely, WADA is working on a non-invasive testing technique. After races, the first three finishers would be lined up for a ‘visual’ test. Sildenafil’s commercial name is Viagra and WADA scientists believe it will be simple to see which cyclists have taken the drug.


Thanks to doctors Young and Smith for additional reporting on this story.

Vietnamese teens go wild over home-grown scraper-bikes

According to the AFP news agency, Hanoi in Vietnam has spawned a home-grown scraper-bike sensation:

An exotic and colourful new urban species has invaded Vietnam’s crowded city streets, turning heads, slowing traffic and making a lot of noise — the feather-boa bicycle bandit.

Teens have beautified small two-wheelers with glitter and plastic flowers, giant silk butterflies and teddy bears, Christmas tinsel and paper parasols and, yes, feather boas, in an anything-goes creative arms race.

Youngsters have rigged blinking lights, MP3 players and batteries to the frames to blast techno and hip-hop down previously tranquil tree-lined streets, earning them both amused smiles and reproachful looks from their elders.

Californian artist Bradford Edwards, resident in Hanoi, said:

“It reminds me of rococo decorative architecture — but mobile and with a rockin’ sound system.

“I’ve seen lots of kitsch in Vietnam, but what I like about this is that it’s young, home-grown and wholesome. It’s third-generation kitsch, handed down from grandpa to dad to the kids, who’ve taken it and blended it with Western street culture, but with this heavy-glitter Vietnamese thing.”

Pix and longer story here.

‘Bicycle Day’ tripper dies at age 102

Proving that drugs and cycling can mix, Dr. Alex Hofman of Switzerland was the first to ingest LSD. After he did so – on April 19th 1943 – he got on his bike. April 19th is now known as ‘Bicycle Day’ to fans of psychedelic experiences.

Dr Hofman died on Tuesday at his home in Basel, Switzerland. He was 102.

The Swiss chemist had first experienced the effects of the lysergic acid compound, LSD-25, when he accidentally absorbed a bit through his fingertips. He later ingested 250 milligrams of LSD.

After his colourful bike ride, Dr Hofman wrote:

“I asked my laboratory assistant, who was informed of the self-experiment, to escort me home. We went by bicycle, no automobile being available because of wartime restrictions on their use. On the way home, my condition began to assume threatening forms. Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant later told me we had travelled very rapidly.”

Travelling very rapidly on a bicycle under the influence of drugs was never tried again…

Of mice and (fat) men

Oz boffins have made a “breakthrough” in the creation of a future fat-burning pill, reports the BBC.

After removing a certain enzyme from fat cells in mice, the scientists found that the rodents turned roadie-like stick-thin. They still pigged out on mouse-equivalents of cream cakes but – with no more exercise than normal – were found to be 20 percent lighter than normal mice and had up to 60 percent less body fat.

This will be manna from heaven for folks who love scoffing (manna from heaven? yum) but don’t want to exert themselves.

Of course, drug companies which can bring this sort of super-drug to market will drip gold.

Yet, as is well known but rarely heeded, a sedentary lifestyle is a proven killer. Popping a pill may shed some poundage but won’t make an athlete out of a couch potato. The only health-sustaining way to fight fat is to eat less and exercise.

As regular cyclists will attest, it’s the last bit that’s most important. Cycle for long enough and you could eat like a Tongan monarch yet stay slim.

Want to see an ‘as live’ database showing number of cars and bicycles being produced right now, along with number of people dying of starvation today tracked against dollar amounts spent on diet products? World-o-Meters is the place.

“There’s something big ahead, Brian”

Alwinton 22 - Version 2

I can’t quite believe I did this. Yesterday, on a six hour ride in the Cheviot hills of Northumberland, I mistook a map’s giant letter ‘i’ for a socking great obstacle, and said so to Brian, my ride partner.

The ‘i’ in question was a capital. Next to it were the letters ‘V’ and ‘O’. But I couldn’t see the full word: C H E V I O T.

I was zoomed in big on a SatMap Active 10, a brilliant GPS unit that uses genuine OS mapping. On a paper map it would have been obvious that the puzzling black oblong was a letter because I’d have seen the other letters, even though widely spaced apart. While riding along, in a biting wind, and without the context of a full paper map I really was expecting to soon see a large, unknown feature. Some sort of over-size Pennine Way stile, perhaps?


Luckily, Brian is intelligent and he realised my mistake. To his credit he didn’t immediately fall on the floor laughing, but I expect my map reading boob will be in his anecdotal armoury for years to come.

Anyway, it was a great ride. 24 miles in the middle of nowhere. Grassy descents. A few small river crossings. A peat bog just in front of the border with Scotland. Some wild goats. A ruined pub called the Slyme Foot inn. And some great weather despite the fact the hill tops still had some patchy snow.


Alwinton 51

Alwinton 52 - Version 2



Alwinton 41 - Version 2


Bikes not bombs

Kibbutz Be’eri is a great place to ride a bike. There are bike paths that wind through wheat fields and pass by eucalyptus trees. There’s a bike shop and a cyclists-friendly cafe.

But business is down right now. Is it any wonder? Kibbutz Be’eri is just 8kms from the Gaza Strip.

This tiny sliver of land, home to 1.3m Palestinians, is in the news at the moment. Hamas fighters and Israeli troops are at each other’s throats.

Yesterday an Israeli tank fired a shell that killed a Palestinian cameraman and three other people. Every death is shocking but, being a cyclist, I am somehow hard-wired to sit up and take notice when something bad happens to somebody on two wheels. The TV images of two teenage boys, killed as they were minding their own business, was personalised for me by the fact the lads were riding a bike. One was pedalling, the other getting a backie.

This is a normal thing for teens to be doing. In the UK you’d get a ticking off by a policeman if caught doing it. In the Gaza Strip you could be hit by an air-exploding tank shell. One second riding along with your mate, the next second lying in the road dead.

In the mid-1980s I spent a year in Israel. I did a lot of bike touring in the West Bank, something that would be impossible now. I rode my first mountain bike there, a Specialized Rockhopper specially imported by my bike-mad friend, Gil Bor, author of one of my favourite bedtime reads Bochner formulae for orthogonal G-structures on compact manifolds.

After university, in 1993, I went back to Israel to write the Berlitz Discover Guide to Israel. This was researched from a touring mountain bike.

Today, cycle touring in parts of Israel is tougher than it once was. Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reports that bookings are currently 50 percent down at LaMedavesh (Hebrew for ‘Pedal’) bicycle centre at Kibbutz Be’eri .

LaMedavesh owner Erez Manor said:

“Today most customers are experienced riders who come alone. Families and children prefer to ride elsewhere.”

The forthcoming Passover holiday would normally be peak time for Medavesh. Manor thinks business will be well down but that a few religious people would come.

“They aren’t afraid like the non-religious are.”

Israel is a fantastic country to cycle through. In Quarto Publishing’s ‘Classic Mountain Bike Routes of the World’ (2000) I did a chapter on Israel’s putative long-distance bicycle route, the Israel Bike Trail, a dream of Jon Lipman of the Carmel Mountain Bike Club. Some of it couldn’t be ridden today because of safety fears.

The 850km Israel Bike Trail – modelled on the Israel National Trail, a hiking route created by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel – runs from Metula in the north of Israel to Eilat in the south.

Last week plans were revealed for lots of local links to the Israel Bike Trail. This new network of joined-up routes is being promoted by the Ministries of Tourism, Environmental Protection, Transportation, Finance, Culture, the Nature and Parks Authority, and the Jewish National Fund.

Getting more people on bikes is a good thing, especially if it helps the political situation. And it can.

US-Israel religious charity Hazon (Hebrew for ‘Vision’) quotes 19th Century politico Theodore Herzl, founder of Zionism, who said “the light bicycle that brings new life.” Light bicycles? Yep, we can all relate to that.

Hazon is the creator of the bi-annual Israel Ride, an organised ride across Israel, mainly attended by Jews, mostly from America, but Arab Israelis and Arabs from other nations also take part.

Hazon is a supporter of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, situated on Kibbutz Ketura in Israel’s Southern Arava valley. This organisation has a logo with its name in English, Hebrew and Arabic. It champions peace, saving the planet and cycling.

David Lehrer, director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, said of the Israel Ride:

“It brings together lots of things that the Institute is all about, the environment, getting people to see Israel in a way that they can’t normally see, you see it very differently than from a car seat. It’s bringing diverse people together – from the US, Israelis, Jordanians, Palestinians – a chance to learn from each other, a chance to see that we have more in common than separates us.

“It’s the opportunity to come together on an issue that concerns all of us and that affects all of us, the environment, the earth, and this particular part of the earth – only by working together, Jews and Arabs, can we protect our shared environment. Nature knows no boundaries.”

Hazon founder Nigel Savage said:

“This is what happens when the People of the Book become the People of the Bike.”

(People of the Book is an Islamic phrase to describe the Abraham-linked religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam).

Talking after the Israel Ride of 2005, Danny Ronen of Oakland, California, said:

“Me and Muatassim, a Palestinian, ended up staying in the same room together and spending time getting to know each other, and realizing that we are incredibly similar. Me being Jewish and him being Muslim is a non-issue. But you can’t build relationships without personal connections.”

It’s good to see that cycling isn’t just a sport, a form of transport, a means of keeping fit, it can also bring people together. Amen to that.

Map sourced from Walla, the Israeli equivalent of Google Maps.

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? Continue reading “Las Vegas: it sure ain’t green”

Sicko caught not having sex with his bike

Unlike a certain Scottish cyclist, a man in Ohio has been busted for having sex with a picnic table.

In the US news report above, a wonderfully rotund police chief explains exactly where and how Arthur Price got it on with his garden furniture.

The incidents occurred between January and March 2008.

Price admitted that he had sex with the picnic table when police questioned him. He now faces four counts of public indecency.

Last year, a Scottish cyclist was put on the sex offenders register for lubing his bike in a way not recommended in any traditional handbooks, a ‘life imitates art’ moment earlier echoed in this video: