substitute

Travelling without a bicycle can be an unsettling experience. Looking up from your reading book, glancing round the train carriage with the ominous feeling that something’s missing; only to remember, with relief, that – because you’re rattling South from London-Waterloo in the rush hour, and can walk from the station to the appointment at the other end – you left your trusty, rusty push-rod locked-up on platform 11.

Travelling without a bicycle can be an unsettling experience. Looking up from your reading book, glancing round the train carriage with the ominous feeling that something’s missing; only to remember, with relief, that – because you’re rattling South from London-Waterloo in the rush hour, and can walk from the station to the appointment at the other end – you left your trusty, rusty push-rod locked-up on platform 11.
If you have to travel without a cycle always consider taking an umbrella. An umbrella is a useful tool but can also serve as bicycle methadone. Umbrellas and bicycles have a lot in common. Both are invaluable when required but can be awkward encumbrances when not in use. Both are prone to technical failures, particularly if not of serviceable quality, or used inappropriately. You might have to fiddle with them to make them work. Beware of USO’s(umbrella shaped objects) sold at unrealistically low prices.

An investment-grade cotton gamp from here

…is a nice accessory, and when rolled, can serve as a makeshift ice-axe in emergencies, but carrying a 200 quid example – like riding round town on a three-grand bike – may be nerve-wracking. If something of this quality…

…ends up in lost-property, it’s got to hurt.

A personal favourite – a nice compromise between economy and durability – is the Rohan treking umbrella.

370 gramme bicycle substitute

The G.R.P. stick and frame make a lightweight package that can flex nicely in strong winds reducing risk of sudden failure. It will never corrode. The manufacturers make no claims for the canopy’s UV protection, suggesting carcinogenic rays can get through – which won’t happen with the old-school cotton example – but it’s still cool in the shade.

paramilitary picnic chic

It comes with a mesh sheath so will dry while rolled and can be toted slung across a shoulder rifle-style. Alternatively strap it on your big, butch courier bag for the ultimate in paramilitary picnic chic.

who do you think you are?

Someone asked:- “Do you think Wiggins’ victory will make more people cycle?” The best answer I could manage is that it may not increase the quantity but it might have some impact on the quality?
Can any readers confirm that Germans don’t understand the concept of a  charity bike ride? It would make sense, they don’t all want to ride bikes for a hundred kilometres but they certainly all know that riding a bike at a comfortable pace, for a few hours, is no big deal.

Anything is easy when you can do it. The hard part isn’t doing it, the difficulty is in becoming a person who knows how to do it. Learning to ride a bike is not a big problem, the more you do it the easier it gets, especially if you get some guidance – or spend time riding with good role-models – to avoid practising doing it wrong. Years of search-and-peck at a keyboard don’t make it easier to become a touch-typist.

Lately a problem for English people – isolated from the heroic role-models of cycle-sport and the practicalities of everyday cycle travel – has been the misapprehension that there’s nothing to learn. Becoming a person who can exploit the potential of a bike is not a big problem but you have to understand that there’s stuff to discover and to practice. Bicycling is young. In historical terms a hundred and twenty years is quite a short time. In evolutionary terms it’s a blink. It’s hard to say much about cycling in this pioneer era but one thing’s for sure… Riding a bike is not natural. Nothing in nature prepared us for floating on compressed air, in a state of perpetual falling where only the forces are balanced.

If you can ride a horse, paddle a kayak or ski, these activities are easy, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if someone without experience, taking them up, sought instruction, or at least the company of expert companions? The idea that everyone knows how to ride a bike, the ‘as-easy-as’ cliche, can be interpreted as another manifestation of mainstream culture’s disdain for bicycle travel. It doesn’t cost anything so it can’t be worth anything. The adjective ‘humble’ sometimes seems compulsory.

The mistaken assumption that everybody can ride a bike – as opposed to the truth that almost everybody has the potential to ride a bike – is encouraged by the fact that, in societies where cycling is an unremarkable part of everyday life, a lot of subtle knowledge is passed on in infancy. One of the best things about riding in the Netherlands is watching tiny children take their mother’s wheel, or the weaker member of a middle-aged couple – dressed for town and riding roadsters – changing their position, as the road zig-zags across the polders, to always hold the spot where they get the best shelter from their companion, crafty as Joop Zoetemelk.

There’s usually been room for one racing champion in British culture. As in…

“Who do you think you are…?”

  • …Reg Harris? (1955)
  • …Beryl Burton? (1965)
  • …Eddy Merckx? (1975)
  • …Chris Boardman? (1995)

Now that the sports-literate person-in-the-street has to engage with at least two, they also have to consider some of the apparently simple activity’s subtleties. What makes Cavendish different from Wiggins? Wiggins different from Froome? How does Wiggins go so fast and look so smooth?

Can Nicole

and Elizabeth

really get along, really combine successfully?

The quality goes up, the satisfaction goes up and then the quantity goes up.

It might work?

Downhill all the way

My adult career began, hurrying to college in Solatio shoes, oxford bags and a Laurence Corner greatcoat. An ignorant prick who thought special clothes for cycling were counter-revolutionary. Last year I finished a fifth – OK you dragged it out of me – a fifth, Paris-Brest. Readers inexperienced enough to be impressed need to understand that the only reason you haven’t done it is that you don’t want to. Or haven’t wanted to yet?

Bicycle madness is analogous to the right-wing model of drug use. You start on shandy and progress to crack-cocaine.

My adult career began, hurrying to college in Solatio shoes, oxford bags and a Laurence Corner greatcoat. An ignorant prick who thought special clothes for cycling were counter-revolutionary. Last year I finished a fifth – OK you dragged it out of me – a fifth, Paris-Brest.

Readers inexperienced enough to be impressed need to understand that the only reason you haven’t done it is that you don’t want to. Or haven’t wanted to yet?

An unbeaten streak, dating back to 1995, reveals the depths to which one can sink and the persistent nature of my own condition. I’m not dumb enough to build social-theory on one depraved biography but it has prompted an interest in the pathology of velomania.

mudguards, accessories obligatory for any presentable rider?

Copenhagen Cycle Chic is great – urban planning has always rung my bell – but maybe their 2008 manifesto carried a whiff of sectarianism? The credo says use mudguards “where possible”, yet absolutely prohibits streamlined clothing. Of course it’s a mistake to take these things too seriously and, as well as don of street-photography, Mikael Colville-Andersen – godfather of cycle chic –  is an aviation-grade sloganeer.

His observation…

“Our relationship to our bicycle is often the same as to our vacuum cleaner. Everyone has one, everyone uses it, but the vacuum cleaner and the bicycle are merely efficient and practical tools for making our everyday lives easier.”

…is an economical and sticky way of describing the push-rod’s main role in the well-run societies of North West Europe.

As follower of ChCC (What middle-aged man doesn’t enjoy quality pictures of well-groomed young people with nice looking  fenders?)  I’ve noticed that M. C-A may be getting a little too interested in the subject of humanity’s greatest mechanical contrivance; and I don’t mean his Nilfisk.

usually modelled by a fat bloke

Christmas just gone he let slip he’d loaded a sports odometer app on his smartphone, revealed how he’d ridden 60 km when the train would have been quicker and described a headwind as “pesky”. Can a novelty road jersey to cut the air-drag be far behind?

If nascent flirtation with performance were not worrying enough there’s also an alarming photograph, of the fetishistic deployment of a  bicycle as bathroom hand-basin stand, which Mikael describes as “quite possibly the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in the bicycle furnishing category.”

‘Bicycle furnishing’?

I feel compelled to ask, “Why, M. C-A?”

It’s fun?

To stay in the realm of sanity…

Cycle furniture?

I’m sorry but that’s just wrong.

Don’t criticise others for inconsistency. A shifting position may be the sign of an open-mind; of personal development. When someone, who’s previously marked bicycles as ‘merely efficient and practical tools’, displays signs of advancing velomania, if an avowed champion of ‘normal’ cycling can develop velophilic symptoms, be warned. Mikael’s case emphsises just how insidious bicycle madness can be.