Telephony giant Orange is soon to start an online balloon race across 1500+ websites. Quickrelease.tv was signed up for the promo via a viral video marketing agency but then this email arrived:
“We’re sorry, but we’ve taken a look at your site and we can’t use it in the race…your site has something rude or naughty on it.”
This caused a big double-take. Rude? Naughty? Quickrelease.tv? Surely there’s been some sort of mistake?
Hmm, but on the day in question, the Orange researchers obviously landed on this story. The pic of three blokes in Lycra skin-shorts is obviously too much for Orange. The shorts, you see, are red…and kinda revealing.
Fair enough…except that one of the other sites signed up for the race is The Sun Online, a racy site full of pix of semi-clad young women.
So, how come an innocent pic of three, ahem, Poles is deemed “rude” but a site with pix of naked women is fair game?
UPDATE: Ah, the power of the internet. A couple of hours after this story went online I got an OK from Poke London, the clever and rather snazzy digital agency - with fab toilets - that’s doing the balloon race for Orange. Poke’s Mike Pearson said:
I’m one of the team that’s working on the balloon race project. As you say, it’s the three cyclists in the Sildenafil story and their enhanced peripheral blood flow that have most likely caused our moderation team to reject the site.
We have a lot of sites applying to take part and the moderation team have to make a lot of individual judgments on site content. I’ve looked at it and I’ve had a word with them, as I think they’ve been a bit too cautious in this instance.
I’ve set your site to approved, and I hope you’ll take part in hosting the race.
Yippee. The race starts soon. Go grab yourself a balloon, there are loads of prizes on offer! Click on that link or on the floating racoon (?) on the left, down there in the corner.
I got a heavy parcel this morning. Inside a black presentation box was a trophy, held in place with black ribbon.
It was a ruddy nice trophy. Glass, and laser-etched with my name.
In Mountain Biking UK’s 20th anniversary edition I was named one of the first recipients of the MBUK Hall of Fame awards, alongside 19 other names, big stars such as Steve Peat, John Tomac, Gary Fisher, Mike Sinyard and Jason McRoy.
MBUK editor Tym Manley said I was “one of the great communicators of British mountain biking.”
Entry into the Hall of Fame is a huge honour and the glass trophy is a wonderfully weighty reminder of my 22 years in cycle journalism. Thanks Tym, MBUK and Future Publishing.
“Carlton has been promoting the sport since 1986 when he took to the deserts and howling wastes of the world as a baby-faced adventurer…He was the co-manager of the first ever British mountain bike team which competed in the World Championships in Avoriaz, France, in 1987, and has recently pushed on in new media as a baby-faced - if greying - video blogger.”
Josh, my ten year old son, averaged 12mph on a 62 mile charity ride today. The Northern Rock Cyclone Challenge starts on the outskirts of Newcastle and heads into the wilds of Northumberland. We did the ride in 5 hours 28 minutes.
At the 45 mile point we climbed the sharp climbs at Ryal. The steepest one has a 30 percent gradient. Many people choose to walk this. Josh powered up, overtaking a surprising (and surprised…) number of roadies.
He was almost hyper-ventilating by the top, but refused any help from me. He received an enormous amount of encouragement from riders along the way. The bulk of kids were on the 31-mile ride (we saw no kids on this, the middle distance ride). Josh said he would have liked to have done the 100 mile ride.
It was at the top of the first climb I realised I’ve got a natural born climber on my hands. From the last of the ‘Ryals’, it’s six miles to Stamfordham, the last check-point of the day and a chance to sit and rest. Josh was having none of that: he wanted to steam on back to Newcastle.
He faded slightly in the last mile but before that was going at a fair old lick, not too far shy of what would what be a normal riding pace for me.
After the coasting through the finish gate and collecting our t-shirts and other event freebies we bought a plate of chips each and scoffed them before we rode the five miles back home. The total trip distance was 72 miles. It was a great way to spend some time with my son in advance of Father’s Day. And Josh did, he made my day…
In May, Cyclingnews.com 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.
Read the rest of "WADA works on new test for performance-enhancing drug"...
Poets, presidents, prime ministers and prime-time newscasters have said great things about cycling. Here’s a sprinkling of bicycle-related quotes…
“Riding bicycles will not only benefit the individual doing it, but the world at large.” Udo E. Simonis, Emeritus Professor of Environmental Policy at the Science Centre, Berlin, 15th January 2010
“Truly, the bicycle is the most influential piece of product design ever.” Hugh Pearman, Design Week, 12 June 2008
“Cycling has encountered more enemies than any other form of exercise.” 19th-century author Louis Baudry de Saunier
“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” Sherlock Holmes author, Arthur Conan Doyle, Scientific American, 1896
“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” John F. Kennedy
“Ever see Audrey Hepburn on a bicycle? No, me neither. Catherine Deneuve? Nope. The very notion of either of them, surely two of the most elegant women the world has ever known, getting into the gear and clambering on board a bike is a full-frontal assault on beauty.” Roslyn Dee, columnist, Irish Daily Mail, February 2nd 2008
“Nothing compares to getting your heart rate up to 170-something, riding hard for an hour-twenty, getting off and not hurting, as opposed to 24 minutes of running, at the end of which I hurt. When you ride a bike and you get your heart rate up and you’re out, after 30 or 40 minutes your mind tends to expand; it tends to relax.” [Former] President George ‘Dubya’ Bush, May 2004
“When you ride hard on a mountain bike, sometimes you fall, otherwise you’re not riding hard.” Former US president George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 2005, following a crash into a bike cop at the G8 summit, Gleneagles, Scotland
“[Commuting by bicycle is] an absolutely essential part of my day. It’s mind-clearing, invigorating. I get to go out and pedal through the countryside in the early morning hours, and see life come back and rejuvenate every day as the sun is coming out.” James L. Jones, former US Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Barack Obama’s former national security advisor
“Cycling is possibly the greatest and most pleasurable form of transport ever invented. Its like walking only with one-tenth of the effort. Ride through a city and you can understand its geography in a way that no motorist, contained by one-way signs and traffic jams, will ever be able to. You can whiz from one side to the other in minutes. You can overtake £250,000 sports cars that are going nowhere fast. You can park pretty much anywhere. It truly is one of the greatest feelings of freedom once can have in a metropolitan environment. It’s amazing you can feel this free in a modern city.” Daniel Pemberton, The Book of Idle Pleasures
“Meet the future; the future mode of transportation for this weary Western world. Now I’m not gonna make a lot of extravagant claims for this little machine. Sure, it’ll change your whole life for the better, but that’s all.” Bicycle salesman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969
“The finest mode of transport known to man.” TV boffin and folder enthusiast Adam Hart-Davis on the bicycle. Source: numerous.
Ned Flanders: “You were bicycling two abreast?” Homer Simpson: “I wish. We were bicycling to a lake.” The Simpsons, ‘Dangerous Curves’ (Episode 2005), first broadcast, November 10th 2008
“An engineer designing from scratch could hardly concoct a better device to unclog modern roads - cheap, nonpolluting, small and silent…” Rick Smith, International Herald Tribune, May 2006
“I want to die at a hundred years old with an American flag on my back and the star of Texas on my helmet, after screaming down an Alpine descent on a bicycle at 75 miles per hour. I want to cross one last finish line as my stud wife and my ten children applaud, and then I want to lie down in a field of those famous French sunflowers and gracefully expire, the perfect contradiction to my once anticipated poignant early demise.” Lance Armstrong, ‘It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life’, 2001
“I began to feel that myself plus the bicycle equaled myself plus the world, upon whose spinning wheel we must all earn to ride, or fall into the sluiceways of oblivion and despair. That which made me succeed with the bicycle was precisely what had gained me a measure of success in life — it was the hardihood of spirit that led me to begin, the persistence of will that held me to my task, and the patience that was willing to begin again when the last stroke had failed. And so I found high moral uses in the bicycle and can commend it as a teacher without pulpit or creed. She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life. Frances E. Willard, ‘How I Learned To Ride The Bicycle’, 1895
“If I come back from a ride That Way I have to go along That Road…but the surface is rough pocked blacktop, pothole scabs…Thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk, kerthunk, thunk, thunk, thunk. Thunk. Which after 4 hours in the saddle is rather weary. But somewhere between the last time and the now that stretch of road has all been mended. Beautiful smooth brand new fast deep thick black tarmac. No more thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk, kerthunk, thunk, but shoosh. Just Shooooooooooooooooooooooosh.” Jo Burt, Road.cc, January 2011
“I used to work in a bank when I was younger and to me it doesn’t matter whether it’s raining or the sun is shining or whatever: as long as I’m riding a bike I know I’m the luckiest guy in the world.” Pro racer Mark Cavendish, after the second of his four stage wins in the 2008 Tour de France.
“Riding a bike is everything to a cyclist. The friendship and camaraderie you have with other cyclists …to a cyclist, it was the be-all and end-all of your life.” Tommy Godwin, double bronze medal winner in the 1,000m time trial and the team pursuit in the 1948 Olympics in London.
“It’s a risky business being a cyclist in the UK, there are a lot of people who really dislike us. It’s the Jeremy Clarkson influence – we’re hated on the roads. We just hope people realise we are just flesh and bones on two wheels.” Victoria Pendleton, gold medal winner in the women’s sprint at the Beijing Olympics, 2008.
“If I killed someone with a hammer, would anyone think forbidding me from hammering was sufficient punishment?” @LouiseJJohnson on Twitter, 15th November 2011.
“It will be only a step from this for [motorists] to claim in a few years the moral ownership of the roads their contributions have created.” Winston Churchill on his opposition to ‘road tax’, quoted in Plowden, William (1971). The Motor Car And Politics 1896–1970. London: The Bodley Head. ISBN 0370003934. More info at iPayRoadTax.com.
“At that age, it’s one of the worse things in the world to wake up and not see your bike where you left it.” Hip-hop star 50 Cent, real name Curtis Jackson, on the theft of his childhood bike
“People love cycling but hate cyclists.” Peter Zanzottera, senior consultant at transport consultancy Steer Davies Gleave, to Scottish Parliament’s Transport Committee, November 24th 2009
“There is something about the miscreant cyclist that seems to get people more exercised than they are about the misbehaving motorist…When people get into cars, their metal encasement turns them into robots in our minds, and we’re grateful to them for any act of courtesy. We’re grateful that they don’t deliberately kill children, then laugh a rasping, metallic laugh…[Cyclists] are more civic-minded than anyone else travelling in any other manner, bar by foot. If they do run into someone, they at least (like the bee) do their victim the favour of hurting themselves in the process, which is why, if you had any sense, you’d save your hatred for the motorist, who (like the wasp) injures without care.” Zoe Williams, The Guardian, 4th February 2006
“The cyclist is a man half made of flesh and half of steel that only our century of science and iron could have spawned.” 19th-century author Louis Baudry de Saunier
“The place of cycling in our society is set to grow, and I am committed to doing everything possible to encourage that.” Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, June 26th 2008
“Cycling to work is an important issue for business – the more who do it, the more our communities will support it. Healthy and green, cycling is worthy of the support of every business in the land.” Sir Digby Jones, former director general of the Confederation for British Industry, February 2006
“[On] Valentine’s Day, I’ll present my beloved with a shiny bauble I bought from our favorite store. Next I’ll take my honey out for a sunset cruise, maybe to the spot where we first got acquainted. Later, back home, I’ll give my baby a bath. Then I’ll gently dry my sweetie and turn out the lights…I’m talking, of course, about my bike…I humbly submit that my bike and I make a better team than most relationships I’ve seen…Your bicycle invigorates you, strengthens you, relaxes you, lets you vent your frustrations without interrupting, nodding off or making judgments. Your bicycle helps you meet other people. Your bicycle always goes where you want to go. And if you buy your bicycle a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, you get to eat them all.” Scott Martin, roadbikerider.com
“To possess a bicycle is to be able first to look at it, then to touch it. But touching is revealing as insufficient; what is necessary is to be able to get on the bicycle and take a ride. But this gratuitous ride is likewise insufficient; it would be necessary to use the bicycle to go on some errands…Finally, as one could foresee, handing over a bank note is enough to make a bicycle belong to me, but my entire life is needed to realize this possession.” “Being and nothingness: an essay on phenomenological ontology”? By Jean-Paul Sartre
“Devised almost 200 years ago by a practical German baron, the bicycle has evolved into an urban staple. Beloved of children, prized by inner-city commuters, it can be a lifesaver when summer smog chokes the nation.” ‘Globe and Mail’, Canada, 6th June 2006.
“Few articles ever used by man have created so great a revolution in social conditions as the bicycle.” US Census Report, 1900
“17 years ago, I arrived at CNN with a suitcase, with my bicycle, and with about 100 dollars.” Christiane Amanpour, CNN
“Five years from now, if I’m in Texas and there is a local mountain bike race, will I go down and do it? Probably. That’s just simply as a fan and somebody who does cycling for fitness. I’m committed to the bike for life!” Lance Armstrong, 18th April 2005, the day he announced he was retiring.
“One of the things that I wound up loving about being involved with a bike racer was learning how to bike and how that really creates solitary time for you to reflect on things and nobody can get a hold of you.” Sheryl Crow, talking about her [ex]-life with Lance Armstrong, cyclingnews.com, July 13th 2005
“[Jeremy Clarkson] always moans on about drivers being attacked. We should be hounding them even more - cars have no place in an urban environment.” John Grimshaw, founder and chief engineer, Sustrans, ‘The Guardian’, June 8th 2005.
“I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle; I want to ride my bicycle; I want to ride my bike; I want to ride my bicycle; I want to ride it where I like…; I don’t believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein or Superman; All I wanna do is bicycle, bicycle, bicycle…” Freddie Mercury, Queen, 1978
“I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometre. And, humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing, about a third of the way down the list. It was not – not too proud a showing for the crown of creation. So, that didn’t look so good. But, then somebody at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And, a man on a bicycle, a human on a bicycle, blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts. And that’s what a computer is to me. What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.” Steve Jobs, Apple (1955-2011)
“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. If you want to test the force and direction of the wind, there is no better way than to circle, banked inward, like a turkey vulture. When you have the wind against you, headway is best made by yawing or wavering, like a crow flying upwind. I have climbed a steep hill by circling or spiraling, rising each time on the upturn with the momentum of the downturn, like any soaring bird. 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
“I thought of that while riding my bike.” Albert Einstein, on the theory of relativity
(Einstein was way ahead of his time. He even helped create the science of sports underwear. Sorta. His first ever published paper was ‘Folgerungen aus den Capillaritätserscheinungen’, Annalen der Physik, 1901. OK, ‘Conclusions from the capillarity phenomena’ wasn’t about Helly Hansen LIFA or Patagonia’s Capilene but it was all about wicking, which is how man-made baselayers shift sweat from skin).
“I’ll tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.” Susan B. Anthony, 1896
“Man on a bicycle can go three or four times faster than the pedestrian, but uses five times less energy in the process. He carries one gram of his weight over a kilometer of flat road at an expense of only 0.15 calories. The bicycle is the perfect transducer to match man’s metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion. Equipped with this tool, man outstrips the efficiency of not only all machines but all other animals as well.
“Bicycles are not only thermodynamically efficient, they are also cheap. The cost of public utilities needed to facilitate bicycle traffic versus the price of an infrastructure tailored to high speeds is proportionately even less than the price differential of the vehicles used in the two systems. In the bicycle system, engineered roads are necessary only at certain points of dense traffic, and people who live far from the surfaced path are not thereby automatically isolated as they would be if they depended on cars or trains. The bicycle has extended man’s radius without shunting him onto roads he cannot walk. Where he cannot ride his bike, he can usually push it.
“The bicycle also uses little space. Eighteen bikes can be parked in the place of one car, thirty of them can move along in the space devoured by a single automobile. It takes three lanes of a given size to move 40,000 people across a bridge in one hour by using automated trains, four to move them on buses, twelve to move them in their cars, and only two lanes for them to pedal across on bicycles. Of all these vehicles, only the bicycle really allows people to go from door to door without walking. The cyclist can reach new destinations of his choice without his tool creating new locations from which he is barred.
“Bicycles let people move with greater speed without taking up significant amounts of scarce space, energy, or time. They can spend fewer hours on each mile and still travel more miles in a year. They can get the benefit of technological breakthroughs without putting undue claims on the schedules, energy, or space of others. They become masters of their own movements without blocking those of their fellows. Their new tool creates only those demands which it can also satisfy. Every increase in motorized speed creates new demands on space and time. The use of the bicycle is self-limiting. It allows people to create a new relationship between their life-space and their life-time, between their territory and the pulse of their being, without destroying their inherited balance. The advantages of modern self-powered traffic are obvious, and ignored.” Ivan Illich, Toward a History of Needs, 1978
“You always know when you’re going to arrive. If you go by car, you don’t. Apart from anything else, I prefer cycling. It puts you in a good mood, I find.” Playwright Alan Bennett, Boston Globe, June 2006
“The more I’ve been mountain biking, the more I see myself as a female. In letting your femininity go to become a mountain biker, you actually find it more.” Niki Gudex, ‘FHM magazine’, February 2005
“To me the bicycle is in many ways a more satisfactory invention than the automobile. It is consonant with the independence of man because it works under his own power entirely. There is no combustion of some petroleum product..to set the pedals going. Purely mechanical instruments like watches and bicycles are to be preferred to engines that depend on the purchase of power from foreign sources….The price of power is enslavement.” Birdwatching author Louis J Halle ‘Spring in Washington’, 1947/1957
“Drivers wish for better roads and less congestion, but are unprepared to make personal sacrifices by reducing the amount they use their car in order to achieve this outcome.” ‘Counting the Cost, Cutting Congestion’, RAC Foundation, 2004
“The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.” Iris Murdoch, ‘The Red and the Green’
“The bicycle was a perfect way of getting a lot of fresh air. We noticed that it was an anti-stress sport because it concentrated totally on the bicycle. When you ride a bicycle, you don’t think about the new album, about how we are going to launch it. We realised that during three or four hours on the bicycle, we were discussing things like, ‘Oh, you have new brakes’, ‘Oh, where did you get your handlebars?’, ‘Is the saddle well adjusted?’, or ‘What about the pedals?’, things that were only connected with cycling.” Maxime Schmitt, Kraftwerk friend and collaborator, ‘Kraftwerk: Man, Machine, Music’ (SAF Publishing, 2001)
‘A Zen teacher saw five of his students returning from the market, riding their bicycles. When they arrived at the monastery and had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, “Why are you riding your bicycles?”
The first student replied, “The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!” The teacher praised the first student. “You are a smart boy! When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over like I do.”
The second student replied, “I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path!” The teacher commended the second student, “Your eyes are open, and you see the world.”
The third student replied, “When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant nam myoho renge kyo.” The teacher gave his praise to the third student, “Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel.”
The fourth student replied, “Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all sentient beings.” The teacher was pleased and said to the fourth student, “You are riding on the golden path of non-harming.”
The fifth student replied, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle.” The teacher sat at the feet of the fifth student and said, “I am your student.”’ Zen proverb
“When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man’s convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man’s brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle.” Elizabeth West, ‘Hovel in the Hills’
“The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.” John Howard
“When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.” Emo Philips
“A bicycle does get you there and more And there is always the thin edge of danger to keep you alert and comfortably apprehensive. Dogs become dogs again and snap at your raincoat; potholes become personal. And getting there is all the fun.” Bill Emerson
“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” H.G. Wells
Note: this quote, used on a gazillion email signatures and topping a ton of articles about cycling, may not be from the pen or the lips of H.G. Wells. Many are those who have tried to find the original source; all have so far failed.
“The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community.” Ann Strong, Minneapolis Tribune, 1895
“I took care of my wheel as one would look after a Rolls Royce. If it needed repairs I always brought it to the same shop on Myrtle Avenue run by a negro named Ed Perry. He handled the bike with kid gloves, you might say. He would always see to it that neither front nor back wheel wobbled. Often he would do a job for me without pay, because, as he put it, he never saw a man so in love with his bike as I was.” Henry Miller, ‘My Bike and Other Friends’
“I won’t pretend I’ve read much Heidegger (or any, in fact), but I’d like to think Martin had just spent a happy half-hour in Freiburg’s bike shop when he was struck by “the thinginess of things”. There it is, a cornucopia of exquisitely machined alloys, lustrous carbon-fibre frames, and innumerable form-fitting garments in hi-tech fabrics. Things don’t much thingier than this.” Matt Seaton, ‘The Guardian, ‘September 14th 2005
“The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.” Sloan Wilson
“The bicycle is already a musical instrument on its own. The noise of the bicycle chain, the pedal and gear mechanism, for example, the breathing of the cyclist, we have incorporated all this in the Kraftwerk sound…When your bike functions best, you don’t hear it – it’s silent, there’s no cracking, just shhhh – you’re gliding. It’s the same when you’re in good shape and your in form and you’re riding your bike, you hear nothing – maybe just a little bit of breath.” Maxime Schmitt, Kraftwerk friend and collaborator, ‘Kraftwerk: Man, Machine, Music’ (SAF Publishing, 2001)
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” Ernest Hemingway
“When Cameron’s Conservatives come to power it will be a golden age for cyclists and an Elysium of cycle lanes, bike racks, and sharia law for bike thieves. And I hope that cycling in London will become almost Chinese in its ubiquity.” Boris Johnson, The Guardian, March 18, 2006
“Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilisation.” George Bernard Shaw
“If you brake, you don’t win.” Former racer Mario Cipollini
“Our bikes are top and can certainly stand alongside the other brands. But in cycling it is not like in the Formula 1, where the car makes the difference.” Eddy Merckx on the November 2009 deal to equip Quickstep team with his bikes
“How about if we all just try to follow these very simple Rules of the Road? Drive like the person ahead on the bike is your son/daughter. Ride like the cars are ambulances carrying your loved ones to the emergency room. This should cover everything, unless you are complete sociopath.” Letter to VeloNews from David Desautels, Fort Bragg, California
“[A bicycle is] an unparalled merger of a toy, a utilitarian vehicle, and sporting equipment. The bicycle can be used in so many ways, and approaches perfection in each use. For instance, the bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created: Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon. A person pedalling a bike uses energy more efficiently than a gazelle or an eagle. And a trinagle-framed bicycles can easily carry ten times its own weight - a capacity no automobile, airplane or bridge can match.” Bill Strickland
“The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind.” William Saroyan, ‘The Noiseless Tenor’
“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Irina Dunn, 1970
“I live and breathe bike transportation. Does that make me a granola-crunching, world-saving utopian? Actually, my riding has a lot to do with what’s good for me. Riding makes me healthy. It saves me time. It makes me feel good and gives me energy to do more in life. Of course, getting around by bike is a green thing to do. And altruism does have its rewards. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind saving the world. Makes one want to crunch some granola.” US bike builder Joe Breeze, VeloNews, 2005
“I’m a cyclist not simply in the sense that I ride a bike, but in the sense that some people are socialists or Christian fundamentalists or ethical realists - that is, cycling is my ideology, a system of thought based on purity and economy of motion, kindness to the environment and drop handlebars, and I want to convert others.” Journalist Robert Hanks, The Independent, 15th August 2005
“Bicycles are almost as good as guitars for meeting girls.” Bob Weir, Grateful Dead
“A bicycle is a bit like a guitar in that they are both inert objects that only come alive and flourish when put in contact with a human being. Both have the ability to concentrate the mind. Just as when you are performing, you tend to lose yourself when you are on the bike. For those precious hours that you are in the saddle, nothing else matters except the bike and the road ahead.” Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp, The Ride Journal, issue 3, November 2009
“I relax by taking my bicycle apart and putting it back together again.” Michelle Pfeiffer
“People like to travel: that is why the grass is greener over the fence. We are walkers - our natural means of travel is to put one foot in front of the other. The bicycle seduces our basic nature by making walking exciting. It lets us take 10-foot strides at 160 paces a minute. That’s 20 miles an hour, instead of 4 or 5… It is not only how fast you go - cars are faster and jet planes faster still. But jet-plane travel is frustrating boredom - at least the car gives the pictorial illusion of travel. Cycling does it all - you have the complete satisfaction of arriving because your mind has chosen the path and steered you over it; your eyes have seen it; your muscles have felt it; your breathing, circulatory and digestive systems have all done their natural functions better than ever, and every part of your being knows you have traveled and arrived.” John Forester,’Effective Cycling’
“In the past two decades, thousands of miles of trails have been paved in the United States, but many of them look as if they were designed by someone who’d never ridden a bike. By consulting more with the people who do a lot of travelling under their own power, transportation planners ought to be able to come up with imaginative schemes for making roads, paths and sidewalks more usable to them, and maybe help cut down a bit on our reliance on the automobile.” Trouble on the Trail, Washington Post op-ed, May 18th, 1993
“In politics, one can learn some things from cycling, such as how to have character and courage. Sometimes in politics there isn’t enough of those things.” Guy Verhofstadt, Prime Minister of Belgium, 2004
“Whoever invented the bicycle deserves the thanks of humanity.” Lord Charles Beresford
“Marriage is a wonderful invention; but then again, so is a bicycle repair kit.” Billy Connolly
“My wife…thinks cycling is great way to spend time as a family while burning a few calories. For her, the family ride is quality time. Then again, she does not have the trailer with 50 or so stuffed animals and the 2-year-old singing “Old McDonald” attached to her bike as we climb what must be Mont Ventoux. Hmm … now that I think about it, cycling is the best way to burn a bazillion calories and hang with the family.” US bike shop owner John Kibodeaux, VeloNews, 2005
“I live on a bicycle…I live in central London, probably 90 percent of my travel is done on a bicycle. I love bicycles.” Film director Guy Ritchie, former hubby of Madonna, telling Jeremy Clarkson about his fleet of expensive vehicles but admitting he prefers to cycle.
“[Cycling] is easily the quickest way around central London, faster than bus, Tube or taxi. You can predict precisely how long every journey will take, regardless of traffic jams, Tube strikes or leaves on the line. It provides excellent exercise. It does not pollute the atmosphere. It does not clog up the streets.” Newscaster Jeremy Paxman
“My whole day is built around meetings that can be achieved around bike rides. My contract actually offers me a free car from my home to my office and back, but I suppose I am addicted to cycling.” Newscaster Jon Snow
“In the context of the great debates about identity politics - are you gay or straight, nationalist or republican, British or English and so on - I would ask, “Do you ride a bike?” I love everything about the machine - the sensation of the tyres on the road, the mobility - and I love the fact that you have this intimate relationship with the elements, and the landscape.” Beatrix Campbell
“Cyclists…are the gods of the road.” Actor, Nigel Havers, ‘The Daily Mail’, 13th June 2006
“Highway engineers are responsible for the nation’s obesity. They’re obsessed with roads that just encourage a sedentary lifestyle…The police want us in cars because they say there is less chance of being mugged, but if you encourage more people on to the streets, either walking or cycling, they will be safer.” John Grimshaw, founder and chief engineer, Sustrans, ‘The Guardian’, June 8th 2005.
“MOTORISTS: Cyclists are not another species - most of them drive cars at least some of the time - and they’re not, by and large, wilfully stupid or reckless. But they experience the roads differently from you…So be patient. After all, it’s not as if getting rid of cyclists is a realistic option now - there are too many of them, and the numbers are growing all the time. And a few years down the line, as petrol gets more expensive, you might well end up as one of them yourself.” Robert Hanks, ‘The Independent’, 12th June 2006
The mainstream media can’t get enough of the “bike boom” caused by higher petrol prices. Go to Google News and type in ‘gas’ and ‘cycling’: you get 768 current news stories on the subject of folks ditching cars for bikes.
This last story starts “With gas prices above the $4 mark, more cash-strapped commuters are turning to bikes.”
Reporters tend to lead with the economics angle, but the best pieces - for the image of cycling - are those that interview converts to cycling. And, with the zeal common among converts, they recount how they may have started cycling because of the spiralling price of fuel but they have discovered how much faster cycling is in towns and how much weight they’ve lost and - the knock-out punch - how much fun it is.
Driving to work may be dry, convenient, cocooned and with music on tap, but is it ever described as fun?
Over on the influential green blog EcoTech Daily, owner Chris Baskind responds to my comment that cycling should not be portrayed as ‘poor man’s transport’:
“Economics will get a lot of people on bikes. I’m already hearing total non-cyclists talking about it, and my local shop is slammed with dusty fix-er-uppers dragged out of garages. But I agree: bikes are *not* second rate transportation. I live in a small city, but when I’m in a dense area — downtown, for instance — I move a lot faster than cars. It’s not even close. Nor do I pay for parking. Bicycles rule.”
We’re the converted, the committed, we all know this. Others may not. Let’s spell it out: cycling to work is an alternative which is less expensive - a growing motivation for many - but it’s also an alternative which is superior. Cheaper yet better: I don’t know of a single word that can describe that notion.
Here’s a few suggestions. I’d love to hear some of yours.
Cheaperior: a blend of cheaper and superior Biketastic Cycleicious: er, no, that’s taken!
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“Selection of the bicycle for the present was obvious since both politicians are cyclists,” said a press release.
“We are sure that the new bike will serve President George W. Bush well, our only hope is that he will take some time and ride his new bike while in Slovenia and experience it from behind the handlebar.”
According to publisher HarperCollins, the book “reveals how an elite athlete, Chris Hoy, lives, breathes and pushes the boundaries of his sport. How does he do it? And why? What drives him to put his body through the physical and mental hurdles to become the best in the world?”
Moore shadowed Hoy for a year, from the World Championships in Mallorca at which Hoy became a double world champion, through to Hoy’s attempt on the world kilometre record in La Paz, Bolivia. Hoy is one of the top hopes for Olympic Gold in Beijing next month.
But this book is much more than a biography of Hoy, it’s a dissection of how Britain went from being a pariah nation on the boards through to the world’s all-conquering track team, better even than the Australians.
It reveals the stunning levels of professionalism and dedication that go on behind the scenes at the Manchester velodrome, HQ for British Cycling.
So, how come I’m in the index? It’s all to do with my battle with the UCI in 2005. The gnomes of Aigle had decided to axe the kilo from the 2008 Olympics, a crazy decision when there were lesser track events to chop first or even the road time trial, a race that never attracted the cream of the world’s cyclists.
I created an petition which quickly gained 10,679 signatures including lots of top cycling names from around the world. Along with trackie Julie Dominguez I took the petition to the UCI and met with Pat McQuaid, then UCI president in waiting, now the actual UCI president.
He said some daft things about about the IOC, the International Olympic Committee, and I reported them on BikeBiz.com, grabbing a wifi connection in the dining hall of the UCI’s HQ. We hopped on a train to the Olympic HQ in Lausanne and by the time we got there, the PR man had already read the story and was waiting with an official rebuttal of McQuaid’s statement.
Moore’s book recounts this tale and also re-interviews McQuaid at the Aigle HQ. Interestingly, where we were able to access minutes of UCI management committee meetings in the HQ’s library, Moore wasn’t able to put his hands on them.
He writes: “Management committee meetings are no longer available for open public inspection. I wonder if they were removed after Reid’s visit?”
Moore said he feels some sympathy for McQuaid as “he doesn’t come across as self-important” but he doesn’t think he’s the real power at the UCI:
“The impression I’m left with is that many of the decisions he defends might not be his in the first place; he appears not to be fully in power, as his predecessor, Hein Verbruggen, certainly was. Indeed, it is rumoured that Verbruggen - now a high-flying member of the IOC - still wields considerable power in the UCI. And there appear to be other powerful people at the UCI, less high-profile, operating in the shadows. The lack of transparency is shocking.”
While the American mainstream media is awash with ‘save gas, save your health’ stories on starting bicycle commuting, press release writers in the UK seem to be missing a trick.
According to a press release from charity Heart Research UK (“pioneers in the fight against heart disease”), the way to a healthy daily commute isn’t to start cycling it’s to “keep healthy snacks in your car.”
Here’s the full release:
According to the RAC Foundation, commuters travel 54 minutes a day on average, with many travelling up to 2 hours or more, which eats into their leisure time and therefore affects their health. What’s more, cramped conditions on trains or long car queues can leave commuters stressed and frustrated. Whatever your situation, there are some worthwhile changes that can help you keep your lifestyle as healthy as possible for the benefit of your heart, mind and body.
Approach your employer about flexible hours so you can avoid rush hour. If this isn’t possible, try leaving home earlier and visit a gym before work or, alternatively, stay on after work and go for a run or long walk near your office or visit a local leisure centre. Exercise will help you de-stress, give your heart muscle a work out, help keep that waist measurement in check.
If you are home late, eat a light meal, low in fat and sugar and rich in vegetables and avoid too much caffeine and alcohol, this way you’ll sleep better and wake up hungry for a healthy breakfast.
Keep healthy snacks in your car, like unsalted nuts and dried fruit, and a bottle of water or diluted fruit juice; you’ll be less tempted to buy chocolate and crisps on impulse at the petrol station.
Car pool with friends or colleagues so you can share the driving and petrol costs; together you’re more likely to laugh and chat through the stresses of a traffic jam.
Make your work-life balance work for you and maximise your opportunities to lead a heart healthy lifestyle during your working week so you reach the weekend ready to enjoy it to the full.
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