Get ready for lots of orange animal balloons

This site is one of many to have signed up to be part of the world’s first web-only balloon race.

It’s a promo for UK cellphone service Orange. And orange just so happens to be the corporate colour of

If you’re a site regular, fret not, you’ll be able to maximise and minimise the Orange balloon widgets on this site. If you’re a newcomer to, blown here because of the chance to win hols in Ibiza but you’re a closet or wannabe biker, stick around to find news, views and vids about cycling.

Watch skinny cyclist with dodgy shades

No, it’s not the Tour de France just yet, click through to a rather fabulous video featuring a stick-thin model riding a Pashley bike.

It’s full of summer fun and there are some great images of cycling in parks, on the road, and along canal towpaths. Naturally, the beautiful model filmed in a variety of outfits, including some flowery short dresses, buys a bouquet to put in her bike basket. There are non-pervy close-ups of her legs and bum.

The video is called ‘Pedal Power’ and is a Top Shop promotion based around ‘Top Shop wants your Rubbish’ a link-up with new-and-expensive style mag, Rubbish Magazine.

“This season with allotments crowned the new hotspots, Pashley bicycles have become the only wheels to rock up in. So why not dust off your saddle, ditch the Lycra and watch out video to see how you can free-wheel round the streets in style.”

The site also puffs PDFs of suggested bike rides in London, Glasgow, Dublin and Manchester.

‘Top Shop Fashionable Bike Route No.2 London’ takes the rider from the Columbia Road flower market (“What better way to while away a Sunday than buying a bloom or five from this famous flower market”) via Richmond Park (“the best place in London to cycle all the way round with a kite attached to your mudguard”) to Top Shop of Oxford Street.

Über-chic London bike shop Velorution gets a tasty fat plug.

The Pedal Power site is also the place to enter a competition to win a Pashley Sonnet Bliss bicycle.

Design student produces $30 cardboard bike


Bikes are usually shipped in cardboard boxes but could they be made out of the material also? As part of Sheffield Hallam University’s Creative Sparks exhibition of student work, product design student Phil Bridge from Stockport is demonstrating just such a theory. His cardboard bike is likely to garner a lot of interest from cyclists, and would-be cyclists.

Bridge reckons his bike could be mass-produced for £15 a piece, with the Hexacomb cardboard frame recycled and the metal components re-used on the next bike on the production line.

A cardboard bike – even one made with exterior-quality Hexacomb – may not pass CEN testing standards. These new EU standards are designed to test bicycles made with standard frame-building materials.

Bridge said: “The lightweight quality of the cardboard, combined with its low cost, means it is possible to create a bargain-bike that is also less susceptible to thieves.” (Er, might they not set fire to it instead?)

Bike theft is a major disincentive to cycling. According to a French study, only 25 per cent of cyclists re-buy a new bike after a theft, and of these 10 per cent buy a cheaper bike than they had before (20 per cent cheaper on average). A further 23 per cent won’t return to cycling at all.


Bridge was interviewed on Radio Sheffield:

Will it go soggy in the rain?
“No it’s inherently waterproof at the point of manufacture and it’s been used in outdoors. In some instances it’s been used in housing and for advertising hoardings.”

Does it go fast?

“Not particularly, no. It was never designed to be a performance bike. It was designed for everyday use, so people riding it slowly to get from place to place – not the Tour de France!”

How long would one last?It depends on how much you use it. If you use it the way most people in England use bikes, it’ll probably last forever because it’ll be sat in your shed! Seriously, it’s designed to last for about six months of constant use.”

How do you see a cardboard bike being used?
“The idea was that it would be a sponsorship from a company who would produce these and get some advertising it. And once you’ve used it, you’d return it they’d give you another one.”


For what it’s worth I love the idea of a cardboard bike. I don’t think it would detract from sales of ‘real’ bikes. Mind you, talking about flimsy bikes, they are already exist. Wally-Mart bikes already ship with cardboard cranks, and cardboard rear stays, and paper-maché derailleurs. I know this because I have to try and fix them every week on the Go Ride cycle training course I deliver at a local primary school.

Kids turn up complaining they have difficulty braking and changing gear. This is no real wonder given the tat their parents have unwittingly bought them. Genuine cardboard bikes would likely be an improvement on the dross I try – and generally fail – to make rideable.

Even when bikes are reasonably OK, parents fail to maintain them. Last week I had a girl on my course with a defective front brake. The v-brake had failed so one of the girl’s parents decided it could be made road-worthy with a dash of Duct tape.

Buy the Stephen Murray single, ‘Soldier’

Click on this link for a Quicktime video of a single being released to benefit BMXer Stephen Murray.

North East England native Murray crashed while jumping at the Dew Action Sports Tour on June 22nd 2007 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Later today the music video ‘Soldier’ will be played in the same arena.

Written By: TJ Lavin & Pippa Tabron
Vocals by: TJ Lavin
Written & Recorded By: Pippa Tabron
Featuring: Cory “Nasty” Nastazio
Guitar Written & Played By: Simon Tabron

CD available at Murray’s MySpace page.

Beware the vertically-aware dog

Josh being chased by a dog

An engineering teacher in Texas emails his announcement that he’s designing a dog scarer for cyclists. In some parts of the world this is a big issue. When global touring, for instance, you don’t want to be bitten by a dog. It could have rabies.

The sound of a bicycle humming along certainly seems to annoy many dogs. Richard Ballantine, author of the 1970s million-copy classic Richard’s Bicycle Book, loves dogs but his sage advice on how to kill one should it attack you is still sound: in short, ram your arm down its throat.

Should you treasure your arm flesh, he advised using a bicycle pump, but this was in the days when pumps were a great deal longer than today. One would assume only the smallest breeds of dog can be effectively seen off with a micro-pump or a CO2 cartridge.

Anyway, here’s the email, touted with the subject line ‘Bicycle Collisions with Canines’:

I am a high school engineering teacher working on a summer training project concerning dogs chasing cyclists. With a fellow teacher we are attempting to come up with a device that can be mounted on bikes and provide a sound deterrent to dogs that come at riders. We are trying to execute a one year course in 8.5 days and would appreciate any inputs such as: have you attempted to use any existing products (pepper spray, whistles, etc) to ward off dogs? If so what type of success or lack of did you obtain?

We are proceeding with a design  and have come up with the following as criteria for evaluating existing solutions to the problem of keeping dogs away from
moving bicycles:

1. Maintain a ten (10) foot horizontal dog exclusion zone around bike.
2. Package size small enough not to effect safe operation of the bicycle.
3. Package size light enough not to effect safe operation of the bicycle.
4. Capable of sustaining a four (4) hour duty cycle.
5. Creates no environmental hazards.
6. Creates no permanent negative pathology for canines.
7. Creates no permanent negative pathology for bicyclist.

The thing that worries me about such a device is the lack of an overhead deterrent. A “horizontal dog exclusion zone” presumes you won’t be attacked by a crafty dog leaping from a tree.

How far and fast do you have to cycle to smell bad?

I think it’s great that the UK Department for Transport is coughing cash to make a whole bunch of extra towns – and a city – into beacons of cycling excellence.

Yesterday’s announcement of £100m for a further 11 Cycling Demonstration Towns – with Bristol as the first Cycling City – is good news and got a lot of positive media coverage. But I’m worried about stench.

Are cyclists really as rancid as some would make out?

Part of the PR for Bristol’s winning bid includes this promise:

“Building a state-of-the-art facility for cyclists in the city centre providing showers, bike parking and lockers so commuters can have a wash and brush up before starting work.”

Part of me says this is welcome because it shows the needs of cyclists are being addressed. But a much bigger part of me (the part not doused in aluminium chloride) says this is sending out the wrong message. It says ‘Cyclists smell’.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if I lived twenty miles from work and time-trialled into the office in full-on Lycra gear I’d want a spritz and a spruce-up before mixing with co-workers. But are showers really necessary for the great majority of cycle-to-work journeys?

They don’t seem to be necessary in Copenhagen, where the cycling populace tootles about in civvies.

So, tell me, do you smell? When you cycle to work, that is.

How far do you cycle? Do you think workplace showers are an essential provision for an employer, or over-kill? Is BBO (bike body odour) really the problem it’s said to be? Would a pack of Wet-Wipes, a sink and a dash of cologne freshen you up just as well as a shower?

Do you really need to cycle to work in cycling gear, smelly or otherwise? Is this not sending out the message that cycling is a thing apart, not normal and, by extension, abnormal, to be avoided?

As ever, I’d welcome your feedback.

‘Gas’ savings calculator is back

Aeons ago this site carried an early version of Tim Grahl’s ‘gas savings calculator’ widget. It worked in the US but wasn’t quite right for the UK.

Tim has now tweaked a version for the UK to show price in litres and miles per gallon. This weird mix of Imperial and metric is because that’s how we do it in the UK. We drink pints of beer, guzzle our gas in litres but still – mostly – use miles for distances and gallons for fuel consumption calculations. Er, but we don’t call it ‘gas’, it’s petrol.

What do you think of the calculator? If you know you car’s average fuel consumption and you cycle to work one or more days per week, insert your figures into the calculator. It’s in the right-hand widget column, under the ads and a couple of RSS newsfeeds.

Got a blog? Insert the widget code via

Fly, bird, fly

This afternoon I re-started my ‘learning to ride a bike’ sessions at my local primary school. Parents pay me a fiver and I donate that to the school playground fund.

They’re very happy to pay. Today was a great example of why. Four year old Tom arrived on a bike with stabilisers (US = training wheels) and left wanting to pedal home on two wheels. After 35 minutes of my method, he was up, up and away.

In fact, he was pretty advanced for a four year old. He was able to right himself from crazy angles the moment I put his pedals back on. Apparently he was eager to learn because he watches bigger kids riding BMXes at the local park.

Mum and dad were very proud of their son, and let him know it. Dad jumped around taking photos on his cellphone. Mum thanked me over and over. Learning to ride a bike is a major life skill and I get a lump in my throat for every kid that I start on the road to a life of cycling.

OK, not all the kids will develop into lifelong cyclists but there are lots of folks out there who simply can’t pedal. They didn’t learn when young. Perhaps some bicycle refuseniks are like that because they can’t actually ride?

As we know, they’re missing out on one of life’s big adventures.


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.
US Senator Eugene McCarthy (1916-2005). Bicycle Rider is from Other Things and the Aardvark (1970).

“Bicycling…is the nearest approximation I know to the flight of birds. The airplane simply carries a man on its back like an obedient Pegasus; it gives him no wings of his own. There are movements on a bicycle corresponding to almost all the variations in the flight of the larger birds. Plunging free downhill is like a hawk stooping. On the level stretches you may pedal with a steady rhythm like a heron flapping; or you may, like an accipitrine hawk, alternate rapid pedaling with gliding…I have shot in and out of stalled traffic like a goshawk through the woods.”
Birdwatching author Louis J Halle ‘Spring in Washington’, 1947/1957

Bicycle commuting is on the up and up

At least if Google Trends is anything to go by, a stats tracker that graphs search terms.


Neatly enough the upward curve for ‘bike commuting’ searches is following a similar track to Google searches for ‘gas prices’.


Check out ‘Let’s coin a new bike-promoting word meaning ‘cheaper, but superior’.


Watch out, watch out, it’s the helmet debate

Yesterday there was a ‘dispelling the myth’ helmet piece on Dave Moulton’s popular blog. Today, in The Telegraph, London Mayor Boris Johnson gives lots of erudite reasons for ditching his “bonce protector” (none of which refer to his blond locks).

Where do I stand on the Great Helmet Debate? I’m a staunch pro-helmet anti-compulsionist. Basically, if you want to wear a helmet, feel free to do so. I wear one, too. But I don’t want to force others to do so. It’s got to be a personal choice.

I don’t want governments to legislate on what one should wear on such a freedom machine as a bicycle. Ah, yes, but the same argument could be used about seat-belts and helmets for motorcyclists.

I wear a seat-belt, and not just because the government tells me to. If you wear one, too, try this. (On a private road, of course). Don’t wear it the Continue reading “Watch out, watch out, it’s the helmet debate”