i b i k e l o n d o n

Friday Throwback: how would you get around your city with no gasoline?

It's Friday, which can only mean one thing: time for our next Friday Throwback - the ongoing series exploring the best of the images from internet archives celebrating the bicycle.

This photo was taken in Oregon, USA, in 1974 when the energy crisis meant that petrol stations were only allocated so much fuel to sell each day. This station has shut up for the day having sold its reserve, and in the background a local is finding an alternative way of getting around.

The fuel crisis led to a renaissance for the bicycle, as we explored previously in this post about children "forced" to cycle to school.  There had been hopes the renaissance would be long-lived, but when the oil started flowing again and the streets filled with cars the bicycle boom was quickly over.

Today's image comes from the US National Archives' contribution to The Commons on Flickr.

Whatever your cycling plans this weekend, be sure never to miss another post from ibikelondon again! You can join the conversation on Twitter or follow our Facebook page.  Happy cycling!


This is what 100 years of building bicycle tracks gets you... London has a long way to go.

When even sperm samples are being delivered by bicycle - on a specially adapted "sperm bike" no less - you know you've got a successful cycling city on your hands.  The Danes have been building bicycle tracks in their capital, Copenhagen, since 1912 - and now more than 100 years later they can truly call themselves a "bicycle friendly city".  

This video, the first in a series on bicycle friendly cities produced by Skoda, looks at what it is like to ride a bicycle in Copenhagen:

In the video Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize fame explains that bicycles are like vacuum cleaners in Denmark.  Everybody has one, nobody thinks that is unusual, and certainly nobody gets dressed up in funny clothes to do the Hoovering...

Before I visited the city for myself I thought that perhaps the people who chronicle the riders in Copenhagen were choosing their pictures subjectively, and casting the riders in a light they wanted to portray.  But I was wrong; the reality is just like the pictures.  

There are bikes of every shape and size, riders of every shape and size and people who are both very young and very old get around on two wheels.  Why?  It is the most simple and efficient way to get around, and it is subjectively safe enough for a majority of people to ride.

The really wide lane these people are cycling in is a bicycle lane.  There's another - equally wide - lane going in the opposite direction on the other side of the bridge.  In the rush hour it suffers from bicycle "traffic jams".

This concept of subjective safety - how it actually feels to ride a bike - is the basic foundation of creating a successful cycling city that Mikael talks about as being something that you can "cut and paste" in to cities all around the world.  And he's right.  The infrastructure might be slightly different from one country to the next, or certain cities might have their own little innovative quirks, but whether Berlin or Budapest, Lisbon or London, the activity of riding a bicycle for everyday transport has to feel sufficiently safe and inviting for enough people to actually do it in order for mass cycling to occur. 

I love riding in London, but watching this video and reflecting on these images, sometimes I feel we have a long way to go...

PS I thought it was odd that Skoda would choose to make a video about bicycle friendly cities, but they are at pains to point out on their Youtube channel that they were making bicycles long before the automobile came along and they still do today.


Friday Throwback: the 1954 Tour of Britain looks HARD!

It's nearly the weekend and time for our Friday Throwback, our occasional series looking at the most interesting images of cycling from the archives of the internet.

This week's image is not a photograph, but the cover from the 1954 Tour of Britain race programme, when the Tour consisted of a 13 stage continuous relay around the country.  Starting out in Great Yarmouth, riders worked their way north via Manchester and Harrogate to Glasgow, before making their way down the west coast and across Wales via Prestatyn, Llandudno, Weston-super-Mare and Torquay, then pushing on for the last stage from Bournemouth to London, finishing at Alexandra Palace.  Here's a vintage map of the course.  Riding 1461 miles over 13 days on a steel bike, no wonder the cover model with his square jaw and Biggles goggles looks hard as nails.

The Tour of Britain has a strange origin. It came about following an argument between rival cycling organisations during the Second World War about the validity of racing on Britain's roads, with the National Cyclists Union (a precursor of today's British Cycling) worried that racing would lead to all cyclists being banned from the roads.

Of course, none of the teams competing in the 2014 modern Tour of Britain will be worried about being banned, at least not from the roads.  The teams who will compete were announced this week; this year's race has been elevated to 2.HC level by the UCI and forms part of the European Pro Tour.  Sir Bradley Wiggins will defend Team Sky's title against Belkin Pro Cycling, Tinkoff Saxo, and Giant Shimano among others.   After a disastrous summer, other pro teams can smell blood and will be keen to spoil Team Sky's party on their home turf.  Belkin Pro Cycling's Lars Boom won the Tour in 2011, and also had a famous victory on the cobble stage of the Tour de France this year.  If the weather stays wet and stormy, perhaps he will ride in Britain and succeed again?

This year's Tour of Britain kicks off on the 7th September in Liverpool, and - like the 1954 race - concludes in London 8 stages later with a high velocity circuit race along the Embankment and the Mall on Sunday 14th September.

Never miss another post from ibikelondon blog again; join in the conversation on our Twitter feed or catch up with us on our Facebook page. Enjoy the weekend!
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Just another London cyclist... Ted Baker joins the peloton, and looks fantastic!

There are some things which are seen as ubiquitous to London, and as demonstrated over the incredible Ride London weekend the humble bicycle is gradually becoming one of them

So is a unique sense of sartorial style and clothes which are cut to perfection, blending functionality with a bit of flair.  Which is why I was excited to hear that London fashion house Ted Baker had been so inspired by the re-emergence of the bike that they've created their own special range of super stylish cycling togs.  

One of the reasons I love cycling so much is because it allows you to be part of the city whilst enjoying the city - the streets are like theatres where we all play a role, which is why I like to look my best when on my bike.

Ted Baker are based in St Pancras, their offices wedged between the Royal College Street bike track and the Regent's Canal.  Looking out their window they saw cyclists of all shapes and sizes rolling past every day and knew there was a place for a new range of clothing for on and off the bike.  As they explain on their blog: "We concluded that the only thing for it was to design a cycle-friendly collection that would survive even the most strenuous commute and still look freshly pressed on the dismount."  
The name of the collection?  Raising the Handlebars by #TedBiker.

So having designed a range of clothes for London cyclists, they needed a cyclist from London to take them for a test ride, and I was more than pleased to oblige...

The collection features a wide range of cycling apparel; from long sleeve zip through jerseys in navy blue and burgundy with track detailing, to a beautiful blazer in anti-bacterial treated premium cotton to ensure you're smart and fresh on your bike or in the boardroom.  Test riding the collection gave me first hand experience of how it handles when you're riding around frenetic old London, and I loved the Dipstic printed collar polo which has a cute bicycle chain motif, and the trim chinos which were so comfortable to ride in and will last a life time with their quality tailoring.

Of course, cycling clothes are dime a dozen these days with some more elegant and practical than others, but what I particularly like is how Ted Baker have really paid attention to detail with their cycling range.  The chinos have secret zip up pockets to squirrel away your Boris Bike key, or something to eat for a longer ride.  The buttons on the blazer are embossed with tiny bicycle wheels., whilst the collars on the jerseys lift up to reveal a simple safety feature; a reflective stripe for those late night rides home.  Greasy bike chains can be a pain, but the trouser legs fold up and can be pinned in to place with a cleverly concealed fastener, whilst the rear pockets can be turned out to show off a reflective trim.  Both the shorts and trousers have reinforced seats to ensure longevity in the saddle... the list of little cycle-friendly touches goes on.

Riding around Camden with a film crew and photographer in tow, dressed up on a beautiful British-built bicycle was such a fun experience, we had a great time putting the film together showing off these fantastic London cycling clothes.  If I look like I'm concentrating really, really hard in the film above it's because I was focused on riding without ending up in the back of a filming truck which the cameraman, sound crew and director were hanging out the back of...  just another typical London bike ride, right?

You can check out the entire collection exclusively on the Ted Baker website here, whilst their blog explains how they were inspired to create a cycling rangeThis interview on their site features more photos and looks at my favourite places to ride in London and why I love it so much, do have a look around and see you looking smart rolling on the roads soon!

This is a sponsored blog post.

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It's London's big bike weekend! Are you ready to RideLondon?

Bicycles will take over the streets of London this weekend, and there's something for riders of all abilities and backgrounds with a packed calendar for the second annual cycling extravaganza.  Here's ibikelondon's top tips for the next two days of two-wheeled fun:


RideLondon Freecycle

10 miles of traffic free central London roads wait to welcome cyclists of all ages at this family-friendly cycling fun day.  You're sure to see some of our city's finest sites along the way, from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament, and the Tower of London in the east, riding along the banks of the river Thames in the company of 60,000 or so other cyclists.  It's not fast, it's not furious, but it is a lot of fun.

New for 2014:  you can get off the busy main route and explore a host of the City of London's back streets totally traffic free as the Square Mile is given over to the "explore zone"; a network of roads linking festival sites at the stunning Leadenhall Market and in the Guildhall Square.  Be sure to check out the bike bell ringing world record attempt at the Guildhall at 9AM.

Nervous about getting to and from central London?  Those wonderful folks at the London Cycling Campaign are hosting a plethora of guided bike rides in and out of London to help families ride from their home boroughs.  It's a lovely way to get safely to the centre, and to meet your neighbours! See if there's a guided ride from your home borough here

Refresh, rest and enjoy bike-based activities - from a street velodrome to BMX stunt displays - in the Festival Zones at Green Park, St Paul's Churchyard, Guildhall yard, Leadenhall Market (covered) and Tower Hill.  Here's the full list of all activities.  The timetable of events - including Penny Farthing Bike Polo - is here.

RideLondon Grand Prix

Britain's pro female cyclists take over the streets around St James' Park at 5PM, in the rip roaring RideLondon Grand Prix.  This event is fast and is furious (last year's race hospitalised Olympic champ Jo Rowsell) and the best women awheel will be battling it out for a place on the podium once again. 

Fresh from the Commonwealth Games in Scotland Laura Trott OBE will be pushing hard to retain her crown against field leaders Marrianne Vos, Lizzie Armitstead and Hannah Barnes.  London's Matrix Vulpine cycling team will also race.  The event is being broadcast live on BBC2 so line the streets to bang the boards, get your mug on the TV, and show the rest of the UK that London loves women's bike racing.


RideLondon 100

Think the "London Marathon on bikes" and you'll have an idea of just how epic the RideLondon 100 is.  20,000 enthusiastic amateur cyclists will set out from east London's Olympic Park, tearing through central London before heading out to the hills of Surrey to cycle the route taken by the 2012 Olympic road cyclists.  Leith and Box Hills (Which is harder? You decide!) will punish riders, before they race back in to London crossing the finish line on the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace - just like the riders in this year's Tour de France.

If you're in the pack and riding, look out for a certain bike blogger (me!) handing out bananas on the feeding station at Hampton Court - don't forget to say hello and fuel up!

The riders are set to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities from across the country with sponsorship money, so why not cheer them on?  They'll pass through Kingston twice - the only place on the course to do so - and the town is putting on a fantastic day of sea-side themed activities, so it is sure to be one of the best places to watch.

Handcyclists will race through the town from 8:30AM onwards, with the RideLondon amateur cyclists passing from approximately 7AM on their way out, and from 9.30AM onwards on their way back (some later than others!)  Kingston will be car-free for the day, lending the town centre a festival atmosphere with special events being put on by local shops, pop up cafes and bars, a Helter Skelter and Punch'n'Judy show and deck chairs to relax in.  Some of the world's best pro cyclists will follow the amateur riders in the London-Surrey Classic from 1PM to 6PM, which brings us to... 

London - Surrey Classic (Men's Pro Race)

Loved the Tour de France Grand Depart in London?  Still have fond memories of the Olympic Road Race? Now's your chance to relive the moment, when some of the world's best pro riders return to our streets to race for the finish line on the Mall.  

Following the same course as the amateur cyclists (and no doubt overtaking a few) the likes of Russ Downing, Simon Yates, Team Sky's Ben Swift and Luke Rowe will all be hoping to scalp 2012 medallist and Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins who confirmed his participation in the race on Thursday morning, in a coup for the organisers.  Scotland's David Millar will race for the last time in London, prior to his retirement.

Leith Hill and Box Hill will be phenomenal spots from which to spectate, but expect to encounter very busy trains and to have to walk up the hill (don't even think of coming by car!)  Once again, Kingston town centre will give you two opportunities to spot your favourite riders, whilst the Mall will be packed for the sprint finish.  The race will be broadcast live on BBC1.  See here for a preliminary start list.  All the spectator information that's fit to print can be downloaded here, so why not pack a picnic and find a spot from which to waive them on?

If that's not nearly enough bike-based activity for you, there's also a Cycle Show today and on Saturday at the Excel Exhibition Centre, which should be more than enough cycling stimulation for anyone.  Phew!  Enjoy your RideLondon weekend!

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