A video of a Japanese bicycle retrieving system has had 111,000 views on YouTube in the last few days and 66 blogs have embedded it (make that 67).
Remember the door retrieval system in Monsters Inc? This is the real life version…but for bikes. It’s based at Tokyo’s Kasai train station. The system can store 9400 bikes and in the video a TV presenter is shown retrieving his machine in just 23 seconds.
No, not Barack Obama (pictured) or Hillary Clinton. Bicycle Rider is by Eugene McCarthy (1916-2005), a US Senator from Minnesota. In the 1960s he five times sought the Democratic nomination for US president, but failed at each attempt.
He’s most famous for his anti-Vietnam War stance but was also an author and a poet. His learning-to-ride-a-bike poem was about his daughter, Mary and is from Other Things and the Aardvark (1970).
Teeth bare to the wind
Knuckle-white grip on the handlebars
You push the pedals of no return,
Let loose new motion and speed.
The earth turns with the multiplied
Force of your wheels.
Do not look back.
Feet light on the brake
Ride the bicycle of your will
Down the spine of the world,
Ahead of your time, into life
I will not say Go Slow.
Co-incidentally, McCarthy’s attempt to win the Democratic nomination for president in 1968 was a messy affair and led to the current system of ’superdelegates’ who, should they wish to flex their super-muscles, can ditch an unelectable presidential candidate.
Read the rest of "A bicycle poem by a US Democratic presidential candidate"...
The listings magazine has gone bike mad. Cycling is covered on pages 20 through to 44.
Dogs, God and bikes: a few of your favourite worst nightmares. These are the subjects that make the Time Out postbag bulge and divide Londoners like no other issues. Ever since the first penny-farthing trundled down a city back street, London has been a town split asunder by the bike. For some it’s a tyrannous contraption, ridden by demented maniacs intent on pushing pedestrians from the pavement for ever; for others, bikes represent the bright future of an eco-sensitive urban transport network.
‘Time Out’s’ Pedal Power issue is “The ultimate two-wheeled guide to the capital with: Crosstown traffic: car vs bus vs bike vs walking – we discover the fastest way to traverse the city PLUS Tarmac wars! London’s most divisive debate between pedestrians and pedal-pushers rages on AND Leisure cycling routes: great ideas for pedalling days out in the east and west.”
I’ve just started a speculative ‘collection’ on Fundable.org. If, within 25 days, I can get pledges (promises, not upfront cash) worth $1000 I will be duty bound to create a video for the pledgers.
As well as featuring on the credits, those who contribute will get a special version of the video.
Here’s the plea on Fundable:
Waaaay back in 1994 I flew into Lebanon, with a mountain bike. This was the first bike tour since the end of the Civil War.
Tyne Tees TV had loaned me a Hi-8 video camera so I could do a video diary for the second series of ‘Chain Gang’. This second series never materialised…but I was left with a few hours of Hi-8 video. I put the tapes in a draw and forgot about it.
That was then. Now, I’ve had the tapes digitised and plan - sometime - to edit them into a video that can go on Vimeo, YouTube etc.
I have sponsors for my other videos on Quickrelease.tv, but none for the Lebanon video. It’s not terribly commercial for a sponsor. I sleep in bombed out villas in the Be’qaa valley. That kind of thing.
If you’d like this video to see the light of day, please consider pledging a weeny bit of cash. With Fundable, monies only come off your credit card or out of your PayPal account when the target amount has been reached.
A very good reason for getting a load of small pledges instead of keep on trying to get one big sponsor is that I’ll feel the heat from all those small pledges. It’ll give me the nudge that’s needed. All funders will go on the credits for the movie as ‘Co-producers’. There, add ‘Movie producer’ to your CV and business cards!
I have a month to raise $1000. If I don’t get enough pledges (and I don’t think I will!) this Fundable collection is auto-deleted.
Consider this as an experiment. Wanna be part of an experiment? Make your pledge here.
The author of The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds rode a bicycle but his quote about cycle tracks has long been taken out of context. In his vision of the future, motor cars and super-trams would be the main modes of transport. The cycle tracks he talked about were more like scenic Sustrans routes rather than the intra-urban expressways for bicycles that many people assume he meant.
“No doubt the Utopian will travel in many ways. [A] thin spider’s web of inconspicuous special routes will cover the land of the world, pierce the mountain masses and tunnel under the seas. These may be double railways or monorails or what not…but by means of them the Utopian will travel about the earth from one chief point to another at a speed of two or three hundred miles or more an hour.
Such great tramways as this will be used when the Utopians wish to travel fast and far; thereby you will glide all over the land surface of the planet; and feeding them and distributing from them, innumerable minor systems, clean little electric tramways I picture them, will spread out over the land…
And running beside these lighter railways, and spreading beyond their range, will be the smooth minor high roads…upon which independent vehicles, motor cars, cycles, and what not, will go.
The burthen of the minor traffic, if not the whole of it, will certainly be mechanical. This is what we shall see even while the road is still remote, swift and shapely motor-cars going past, cyclists, and in these agreeable mountain regions there will also be pedestrians upon their way. Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia, sometimes following beside the great high roads, but oftener taking their own more agreeable line amidst woods and crops and pastures; and there will be a rich variety of footpaths and minor ways.”
HG Wells may not be the arch bicycle advocate that many like to think he is, but one of his characters is given an excellent ‘because it’s there’ quote.
Christobel asks of Mr Polly: “Why are you riding about the country on a bicycle?”
He replies “I’m doing it because I like it.”
Wells also wrote a comic novel about cycling, The Wheels of Chance (1897). In this there’s an evocative description of the freedom of cycling, especially for those among the toiling classes (HG Wells was a socialist):
“Only those who toil six long days out of the seven, and all the year round, save for one brief glorious fortnight or ten days in the summer time, know the exquisite sensations of the First Holiday Morning. All the dreary, uninteresting routine drops from you suddenly, your chains fall about your feet…
“There were thrushes in the Richmond Road, and a lark on Putney Heath. The freshness of dew was in the air; dew or the relics of an overnight shower glittered on the leaves and grass…He wheeled his machine up Putney Hill, and his heart sang within him…Whoop for Freedom and Adventure! Every now and then a house with an expression of sleepy surprise would open its eye as he passed, and to the right of him for a mile or so the weltering Thames flashed and glittered. Talk of your joie de vivre.”
<br>Other quotes of note from the novel include:
“To ride a bicycle properly is very like a love affair - chiefly it is a matter of faith. Believe you do it, and the thing is done; doubt, and, for the life of you, you cannot.”
“No one who has ever ridden a cycle of any kind but will witness that the things are unaccountably prone to pick up bad habits–and keep them.”
But perhaps the most famous cycling quote from HG Wells is this, or variants thereof:
“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.”
However, while many have tried - including writing to H.G Wells appreciation societies - there’s, as yet, no verifiable source for this quotation.
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.