Tuesday, 30 June 2015

YOU SHALL NOT PASS (on this side anyway)

I don't like the signs on the back of buses and commercial vehicles that tell cyclists what to do, that misrepresent the rules, that suggest somehow cyclists are below that vehicle and its driver in a pecking order and signs that are rude and give an orders to cyclists "KEEP BACK" or "DO NOT PASS...."like a motoring Gandalf on steroids!

Having said that I know that some people on bikes might need a reminder of the risks, so I'll admit it; I appreciate those signs on the back of buses and trucks that advise cyclists about passing on the inside.

It is horrifying watching other cyclists riding up the inside of these vehicles while I'm choosing not to take insane risks. I've even been sworn at by other riders for not leaving than a nice clear run to risk their lies in this way - I rarely swear but for those people I'm happy to make an exception.

Cycling home tonight I wondered what sign I'd like to put on the back of my bike for the motorists around here ....

Maybe "don't pass so close to me" - especially for the idiot in a Range Rover who did it several times last week and then after trying to scare me by chucking tons of metal around got out looking for a fight - hope he found one because I wasn't about to oblige and cut across a pavement to avoid having to join in.

Or perhaps "don't pass me when there isn't room"

"Don't pass me and then turn left"

"Don't pass me when you are stopping"

"Don't pass me when it isn't safe"

"Don't pass me while you're distracted"

And while I'm at it there would be a few others for other things I see most days:

"Don't pass me when you are smoking dope"

"Don't pass me when you're on the phone"

There is a problem though!

If I get all of that on the sign big enough to read then I'll need a bus to put it on the back of, and then they wouldn't mess anyway, would they?

Monday, 29 June 2015

Eroica Festival 2015 - Part 1

Having returned from an amazing weekend in Bakewell here's our experience of the most handsome cycling festival and a celebration of all things vintage,  Eroica Britannia 2015.

There'll be a couple of additional posts to follow; one about the ride and another about the entertainment on Saturday afternoon including my own 30 minute poetry performance.

The Peak District has always been one of my favourite places and the chance to head off to the festival in Bakewell was one to be grabbed as soon as bookings opened. Feeling disinclined to camp (age and infirmity etc.) my wife, Maggie, and I decided to find somewhere nearby to stay and found an excellent Bed and Breakfast at Great Longstone, close to Monsall Head and just a few miles from Bakewell and the showground.

When I say "found" I mean that having looked at a map in the morning in typical older-cyclist fashion I thought I knew where we were going and then, overtaken by creeping doubt, stopped in the gorgeous village of Ashford on the Water to check the SatNav. Of course the SatNav didn't want to find any satellites and the mobile phone signal could barely be described as adequate so we carried on using the gradually fading map in my head. Amazingly we found Great Longstone, roughly where I though it should be, and with directions kindly supplied by our hosts arrived at the B&B. The location was quiet, the facilities excellent and the hosts Frank and Wendy really could not have been better. The view from the bedroom window, opening to a beautiful garden confirmed we had made the right choice and our weekend started out on a high:

The view from our bedroom over the superb garden

Unloaded, refreshed and ready to go we headed for Bakewell stopping around half way at Hassop Station for a lovely lunch with a good choice of vegetarian options. Although a mile or so from Bakewell we were already into a world of vintage cycling, surrounded by plenty of vintage bikes and a few vintage riders like myself. At this point Maggie could have been forgiven for a brief non-cyclist panic but she enjoyed the lunch and the atmosphere and I didn't pore over the old bikes too much and simply commented, perhaps too often, on some of the less usual bikes and the fact that it might be possible to hire a tandem here.

The old station has a great bookshop, a very nice cafe and of course bike hire and workshops and the Monsall Trail runs right past the old platform. We'll certainly come back here for a gentle bike ride and a spot of refreshment again.

All roads lead from Eroica
Fed and watered it was time to head to the showground. A short drive, a reasonable wait to get our tickets exchanged for wristbands "Oh! An entertainer, you are one of the special ones", parked the car and a bot of a walk to the main entrance.

So here we were, Eroica Britannia 2015.

First impression, this looks big, and different, unlike anything either of us had seen before; time to explore!

So off to town to find something to eat....
This lot had already arrived at the pub!

(see more in the following posts....)

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Poetry at Eroica from Shay the Poet

Just one month to go to the most handsome cycling festival - Eroica Britannia.

Vintage bikes, vintage everything and 30,000 people heading to Bakewell in the Peak District for a fun filled 3 day family adventure on 19, 20 and 21st June


There's music, films, conversation, food, drink and of course loads of old bikes.

And this year there will be poetry, courtesy of yours truly, with a half hour set on the Saturday afternoon.

My set list is almost sorted and although I never really stick to the list there will be a couple of new cycling ones in the set including "A minute and a half" and "I like people riding bikes". There'll be a fair few non cycling ones too and we'll have a great time.

I'll post more on the set as we draw closer.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Letter to Bozz (the Mayor of that there London)

Dear Mr. Mayor,

Please excuse my slightly Northern habit of shortening names but may I call you Boris, or Bozza or maybe Bozz?

I think we'll stick with Bozz!

So anyway Bozz I've been in that there London today and I have to say that you've got some fairly decent stuff down there. You seem awfully keen on knowing what time it is what with the posh clocks all over the place; I especially like the ones in Fleet Street and the one at the Palace of Westminster which is not too shabby alongside ours on the Town Hall in Rochdale - good isn't it? 
Anyway Bozz the thing I didn't like so much was the traffic and indeed the roads you have down here. In particular I thought it was a shame that you've got all that extra paint on the road with pictures of bikes, buses, taxis and motorbikes alongside them - they might look fancy but they don't seem to do much really do they? Anyway I don't suppose that's your fault.

I noticed that some of the people on the roads are a bit confused and are not sure when to go, when to stop and when they ought to just get out of the vehicle and hand in the keys to the nearest Police Station. And some of the taxi drivers seem to have filled their heads so full of "the knowledge" that they can't remember some of the more basic stuff; one today even tried to pass me as I cycled along Fleet Street even though he was about to turn left, it's OK though because I ignored the paint on the road which might have confused him and put myself and my bike in a good visible (primary or control for the experts) position and made him wait a moment.

A little later I came across another "taxi driver of the overflowing brains" who didn't like being behind me even though there wasn't enough room to pass. When there was room I considerately left him a bit of extra space so he could pass safely and then I discovered a problem with your traffic lights. It seems that some of them don't work on some of the taxis and some of the bikes; best get them seen to eh! Of course I realise it isn't your fault!

I hear lots about the dangerous tipper trucks and wondered why you encourage cyclists to use a little lane on the left and then move forward into the Advanced Stop Lane (ASL) at traffic lights. I'm sure you must have a good reason for the way the roads are marked and I'm sure that those people who did what the road markings suggest, and then got killed by trucks didn't really mind, and I'm sure their families understand. Of course it's not your fault.

Hope you don't mind but I chose not to use those little lanes and the ASLs but queued with the rest of the traffic which seemed to be OK with that.

While I was riding around I couldn't help noticing that I didn't see many of the famous London bobbies around the place except at the railway station. I thought I saw one on the embankment beside your river but as he was on stilts and smiling a lot I decided he probably wasn't a real one. I expect that you don't need them out an about on the streets because everyone is so safe. It isn't really your fault but you really ought to know better, shouldn't you?

You might be able to make things a bit better by policing the traffic a bit more, you know things like dealing with people going too fast, cutting across lanes, parking in dodgy spots "only for a minute" and especially knocking other people over by not looking properly. You could make it even better by creating and enforcing a 20mph speed limit all over your town and by keeping cars and stuff off more of your roads.

I saw qute a few people in cars, trucks and buses being a bit silly with the way they were driving and was a bit bothered that they might hurt somebody. Finally I should mention that I saw some people on bikes and a few pedestrians do really silly stuff and they could have got themselves hurt which would also be a shame, wouldn't it?

Anyway Bozz that's all for now.

If you want to talk about how to run your city a little bit better I can help or I can arrange for you talk to some friends of mine who know lots about this stuff. You can call me Seamus, or Mr Kelly - well you know how us northerners don't like having our names shortened don't you.

Careful now!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Thinking Too Much: Connect2poetry celebration event

Thinking Too Much: Connect2poetry celebration event: Two groups of cyclists, a group,of walkers and lots of people to make up an audience enjoyed the special celebration at Healey Dell on 5th O...

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Cycling, walking, poetry and music in one!

This Saturday 5th October sees a special celebration event for the Connect2Poetry project at Healey Dell in Rochdale from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.

At the site of Broadley Station, Station Road, OL12 0HZ, we will have the Songsmith Solar Marquee erected where both entertainment, in the form of the Connect2 poets and an open mic, and refreshment will be available. There is car parking available on Station Road. If anyone would like to read let me know by email at shaycycles@gmail.com.

There will be 3 groups travelling to the Dell via the Connect 2 Network with stops along the way for poetry and to try the Connect2Poetry app (download from www.tellusanotherone.org.uk/C2P):

WALKERS at 11:30 from Greenbank Primary School, Greenbank Road, Rochdale OL12 0HZ - this will be a steady walk for approximately 1 hour with Vik and Norman. Transport will be provided back to the start and to Rochdaletown centre from Healey Dell after the event at 3:00pm.

CYCLISTS Group A from Littleborough Railway Station at 10:30 for a very steady bike ride with Seamus taking up to 2 hours with plenty of poetry stops along the way.

CYCLISTS Group B from Mills Hill Railway Station at 10:45 for a very steady 2 hour bike ride with Rick and Sam again with plenty of stops along the way.

If you would like to come along you can book with Cartwheel Arts (01706 361300 or admin@cartwheelarts.org.uk) which will help with catering but please come along even if you haven't booked and you'll be very welcome!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The post Armstrong era - I'm back - lets take our sport back!

Cycling has now entered the post-Armstrong era, sure he'll be around for a while finding non-sanctioned events to take part in and having legal arguments to keep hold of the money that organisations rightly want back. But in terms of real cycling we are now post-Armstrong (and post-lots of others too!).

I've not blogged much lately, other pressures of life and to an extent not being sure quite how to react to what has been happening to my favourite sport. We've talked about it, worried about it, sometimes been the butt of jokes about it and sometimes argued about it.

We've all known about drugs for a long time and even at an amateur level most people who raced for any length of time will know of people who were at least suspected of using banned substances on occasion.

Personally I know what steroids can do in terms of training and strength building - I stopped cycle racing because I needed steroid treatment for an eye problem - I'd almost certainly never have been tested but I wouldn't have felt comfortable competing unfairly.Winning feels brilliant; but only because of the sense of acheivement, having done your best and beaten other, often stronger, riders. Cheating to win would never feel the same.

On a high dose of steroids for several months I found that my power, especially climbing, was much greater than normal (generally climbing seated in a gear two cogs higher than I would normally use) and I stopped doing any kind of training because I knew something of the damage I could do to my body had I carried on.

Some people will take the chance with their health, will want to win at whatever cost and will continue to find ways to cheat. But most cyclists are not like that. Most cyclists love the sport and would love to see fair competition and winners who are real heroes.

The challenge post-Armstrong is how to take back our sport, let the world know that most cyclists just love cycling and all the freedom, pleasure and benefits it brings.

At the top level Team Sky seem to have the right approach.

Let's take back opur sport from the grass-roots upwards!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Fall - Lance Armstrong's descent

News of Lance Armstrong's life-time ban from all sport should have left cycling reeling with shock. But speak to cyclists, those who know racing. Are they reeling? Are they even surprised? The die-hard fans look to their hero with unfounded Icarus belief, a hero who fought cancer and won, and then won the Tour de France and then did it again, six more times.

A man who created the Livestrong brand, the yellow wrist-bands and the cancer fighting "Lance Armstrong Foundation"

Surely such a man would never cheat, never risk his own health, never need to win at all costs. Surely such a man is heroic, a legend, almost mythical? But like so many heroes of myth and legend this very human hero was flawed.

This hero cannot be wrong and he cannot be challenged. Those who dare to speak out are threatened, bullied, sacked, ostracised, belittled and their characters are assassinated.

Then at the last minute this hero chose not to fight his corner with the USADA, he didn't want the public fight. This hero doesn't like to lose and if you don't fight you don't lose.

This hero made a uniquely French bike race a global phenomenon, awakened American millions to a sport where they might win.

This hero mixed with the politicians, the glitterati and the celebrities. A hero who preaches clean and plays dirty. A man who donates to anti-drugs development while leading his own team's drug fuelled regime. A man who helped shape the avoidance of positive tests, the systematic transfusions a culture of "risks for results". As others admit their misdeeds, face consequences, apologise and profess to turn themselves around this hero, this man can admit no wrong. For him the past is the past and it doesn't matter. He tells us his conscience is clear.

Tonight the news says otherwise.

When such a man falls, caught out by his own misguided belief, then like Icarus he falls far and he falls hard. A fall that far always ends badly!

Lance Armstrong's fall should end in the next few days. I expect he might try to take others with him.

The real tragedy for all sports would be a failure of the next generation to learn and to take a different route.

I won't be holding my breath!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Brompton World Championships 2012

Take 700 folding bikes, 700 jackets and ties, about 1400 burning legs and screaming lungs and what do we have?

The Brompton World Championships at Blenheim Palace this Sunday. With the main championship race and the new sprint and marathon events it will be an action packed day. Keep a look out for me (no 296) and my CTC colleague Pat Carr (no 127).

I'll be blogging from the event and posting some pictures.

Good luck to all my fellow competitors!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Back to Basics - Sprinting - coming soon

My next "Back to basics" posts will look at sprinting.

Many cyclists believe they can't sprint or are rubbish at it. It's true that we can't all be like Mark Cavendish, Mario Cipollini, Erik Zabel or Sean Kelly but everyone can sprint and everyone can get better at it by the combination of training, technique and tactics.

Perhaps these posts should be called the 3Ts - because training, technique and tactics are the basic tools that any cyclist can use to improve any aspect of their performance.

In the meantime have a read back over the Climbing - Back to Basics - Parts 1 to 3 and watch the real experts in the Tour de France. And when they get the chance watch Cav, Goss and co. in the sprints - hopefully my next posts will go some way to explaining (in simple terms) how those guys do it.

Back soon!