Archive for February, 2008


Feb 14, 2008

Fat Face: The Big Fat Guide


Fat Face launches Big Fat Resolutions!

Following the massive success of the Fat Face ‘Face Book Christmas Gift Thrower’, the active lifestyle brand is back with more fun to throw round.

Instead of the usual New Year resolutions, like going to the gym, eating less chocolate and other such punishing practices, Fat Face is trying to encourage Facebook users to try learning a new activity!

Fat Face has produced an application for the social networking site that allows you to send your friend a new activity that you should try together. These range from learning to surf, how to ride a mountain bike, learning to sail or perfecting a windsurfing trick.

Apart from having a great deal of fun throwing surf lessons and mountain bikes around, you can actually WIN, so you and your friend could actually find yourself doing the activity!

Check it out here.

The Big Fat Guide

Fat Face is using the application to promote its newly launched ‘Big Fat Guide’, so has named the Facebook application ‘Big Fat Resolutions’!

The Big Fat Guide is Fat Face’s definitive bible for all active enthusiasts across a range of sports. The Big Fat Guide shows you how to get ‘out there’ by recommending activity centres across the UK; events to take part in and watch; the clothes to buy; the kit you’ll need; basically everything you need to help get you ‘out there’.

So, if you can’t wait to see if you WIN the real thing, and want to learn something new, check out www.fatface.com/bigfatguide for some great ideas.



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Feb 13, 2008

Cycling is fashionable: should we be worried?


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: “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 tomorrow’s Heels and Wheels show in Hackney would be anathema to them.

Fashion designers seem to be disproportionately attracted to cycling.

Jeff Banks and Sir Paul Smith are avid roadies. Smith’s company has sponsored cycle teams.

Vivienne Westwood co-created Punk and she cuts a dash on her daily cycle commute in south London. Because of her extravagant 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 can hold four bikes. Want a Hemingway bike to put in the shed? Cough up a deposit on a 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 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.”

One of the most influential fashionistas of the moment 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.

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 prophylactics give you helmet hair.

The Sartorialist shows it’s possible to ride a bike and look classy doing it.

Like me. Er, never.



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Feb 12, 2008

Will boffins pick bike infrastructure?


On Friday, the US National Academy of Engineering will post a list of “grand engineering challenges” for the 21st century on EngineeringChallenges.org.

“A year ago we asked a group of leading technological thinkers what are the Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century. What engineering breakthroughs would improve life on Earth? Now they have answers. The future starts here on February 15. Cast your vote after 2pm EST.”

While many engineers may want to create the longest bridge, the biggest airport or the most technologically advanced skyscraper, others may want to dirty their hands on projects that are more planet-friendly. So, it will be interesting to see what the boffin committee comes up with. Will the consensus be that cities should be designed for people, not cars?

Right now EngineeringChallenges.org is just an annoying, information-deficient teaser site. It doesn’t even have an RSS feed. Here’s hoping there’s something to cheer about on Friday.

A lot of bicycle infrastructure designs tend to get bikes out of the way of cars, which is an idea that appeals to motorists but which worries many cyclists, fearing ghettoisation.


Auto designer Jamie Tomkins - son of Mr Crud, Pete Tomkins - is big into bikes and has been riding BMX, trials and DH since he was little more than a toddler. In 2007, when he was still at the Royal College of Art, he designed ‘cycling tubes’, a modern take on the bikes-in-the-sky idea that’s as old as motoring. His tubes would be semi-transparent, free of cars and pedestrians, and would be wide enough for pedicabs.



In 2006, Jamie was part of an RCA design team that won a GE-sponsored competition to find vehicle designs for the emerging Chinese market. While fellow designers went for funky cars, Jamie produced a plastic hybrid bicycle. But the competition press release demonstrated how some engineers and designers believe bicycles are at the bottom of the heap:

“After a trip to China, the team of Filip Krnja, Ehsan Maghaddampour and Jamie Tomkins developed vehicles for residents of an imaginary tower block - the Beijing Boom Tower. These ranged from a luxury concept car for the penthouse residents, a taxi design for the middle level residents with concertina doors for the crowded Chinese streets, and a new hybrid bike with interchangeable parts for the working class at the entry level.”

Jamie doesn’t think that way, he’s a bikie at heart and he may be able to sneak in a lot of bike friendly ideas in his career in the car industry. I bumped into him at last year’s Bicycle Design Summer School, organised by RCA and Imperial College. He was leaving for a job with Volkswagen.

Talking of German car brands, watch this ‘let’s make NYC auto-free’ video spoof (or Mercedes Benz advert) that has annoyed cycle advocates in New York City:

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 ‘orange bike’ campaign for Fashion Week annoyed cycle advocates because it seemed to mirror the placement of white Ghostbikes across the city.

“DKNY is working with the mayor’s office to raise awareness of cycling as a healthy and environmentally sound means of transportation around NYC. During Fashion Week (which runs the first week of February), DKNY has placed dozens of bright orange bicycles around the city to get people thinking and talking about bicycles as a healthy and fashionable way to get around the city.”

NYC’s Fashion Week was sponsored by Mercedes Benz.



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Feb 11, 2008

Are there enough bangs for the billion bucks?


It’s stunningly welcome but Ken Livingtone’s £500m plan to create 12 bicycle superhighways and kick-start a Velib-style scheme with 6000 down-town rental bikes may not play well to the electorate.

According to Transport for London, the investment will pay dividends because by 2025 five percent of all trips in London will be by bicycle. Just five percent for an outlay of £500m?

News of ‘bicycle motorways’ (sic) won’t go down well with Evening Standard readers, or writers for that matter.

Green Ken is taking a big risk. In just a few short months he goes up against the biking behemoth that is Boris Johnson. Alienating key voters at such a time takes balls.

Over the years, Livingstone has shown himself to be a politician willing to risk popularity in favour of the greater good. Love him or hate him, you can’t fail to respect him.



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Feb 11, 2008

Got a Nokia phone? Get Maps 2.0


Today at the Mobile World Congress Nokia announced the Beta release of Nokia Maps 2.0. This is for pedestrians but could be adapted for cycling use.

Nokia Maps 2.0 adds Walk, a “pedestrian focused navigation component to the application, while still offering Drive, a world class car navigation system. The pedestrian navigation efficiently walks you from A to B with visual turn- by-turn guidance. It helps you to locate yourself by Read the rest of this entry »



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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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Feb 09, 2008

Don’t walk in bike lanes


Or David Byrne may catch you on his helmet cam and mock you:



(Also available as a Quicktime movie).

There’s got to be a series in here somewhere: ‘Celeb Cyclists Share Their Bike Cam Moments’.

Until then there’s this.



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Feb 07, 2008

Injured roadie fails in chaingang compo bid


A jury has rejected John Telfer’s claims that a fellow pack rider was to blame for a crash which injured Mr Telfer. The 2003 crash was the subject of a £370,000 compensation claim by Mr Telfer.

The Edinburgh Evening News reports that Mr Telfer is “shattered” to have lost the case and now has legal bills of £40,000.

Spotter: Chris Hill



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Feb 07, 2008

Qatar’s cooled bike path could lure Tour de France


A story on today’s Roadbikerider.com points to a story on Cyclingnews.com about Qatar’s application to play host to the world’s biggest annual sporting event.

The oil-rich Gulf State has a problem. It’s hot. But there’s a plan: a cooled cycle path. It just so happens I did a podcast on this subject in 2006, before I created Quickrelease.tv. The audio-and-pix interview with the project’s tech advisor can be seen here on YouTube:

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said Qatar could be a contender by 2014: “The candidacy is a logical step for Qatar, which after hosting the Asian Games in 2006, is also a candidate for the Olympic Games of 2016. The distance [from France] shouldn’t be a problem. When we took the Tour to London, everyone said we were crazy.”



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Feb 07, 2008

The celebs who cycle


The Quickrelease.tv list of cycling celebs has been updated. New to the list are:

Celebral footballer Graeme Le Saux, a recent convert to CXing.

Movie star Daniel Day-Lewis.

US Democrat Barack Obama. OK, this is potentially weak one. All he’s said is that he’d be pro-bike should he be elected to office. But he’s stick-thin so could be a closet cyclist. And there’s always this pic of him on a trike.

It’s funny, the handlebar tassles make it look as though the US senator for Illinois was a pre-release wearer of charity wrist-bands, as popularised by Lance Armstrong.



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