Wednesday, 30 November 2011

London Rugby Tweed Run 2011

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, let me bring to your attention the London Rugby Tweed Run 2011 which took place on the 26th September 2011. Suitably tweeded up and groomed to go, fellow riders grouped together to start the event in Covent Garden outside the Ralph Lauren shop. To fuel up our tweeded bodies we scoffed plenty of muffins and pasties galore, whilst donning our best I look like this everyday face for the cheery tourists.. 

After a few snaps and plenty of posing, we were ready for a gay old time on our bicycles. We gathered at 
the front of the line for a photo and then chocks away, we were off!

Winding around Covent Garden, everything was tickety boo until a fellow tweeder had a wobble and came gallumphing into my bicycle, oh what a calamity! Thankfully I managed to stay just about upright, however my bicycle took a blow and Gordon Bennett within 4 minutes I was out of the run! But no sooner than you can say 'tally ho' was there a kind english gentlemen kicking my mudguard back into place. I was back on the road! Hurrah.

Feeling parched and a little hungry, we stopped for some good english tea and a natter. Here I chattered with Kathryn from Bikeminded (remember the coffee and cake cruise?), Jools from the lovely Velo-City-Girl blog and Mark from i b i k e l o n d o n (check out his tweed run video!). All three looked suitably dashing and vibrant.

Back on the road, we frolicked around Hyde Park and headed to our final stop, the Caledonian club in Belgravia. Decked with grand pictures and chandeliers, the club was a suitable venue for drinking fine whisky and applauding the winners of the best dressed and best moustache competition.

All in all, it was a spiffing day. Tally ho chaps...!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Wear your skirt with pride - How to cycle in a skirt

GOLLY GOSH, STOP THE TRAFFIC PLEASE...I have noticed a MAJOR cycle chic problem on our roads and it's not looking pretty. Please tell me, why aren't more women wearing skirts on their bicycles?  It is very rare for me to see fellow skirted cyclists in the mornings, so rare that I feel like applauding when one gracefully cycles by. They certainly aren't pedalling around my patch of London.

I try my very best to not change my wardrobe to suit cycling. I believe that you don’t need lycra and pink cycling jerseys to get to work in the morning and anyway, cycling leggings just don’t do me any favours! With my reluctance to succumb to the wonderful world of cycling attire, I like to think that I have mastered the technique of cycling in a skirt. So I thought I’d provide a few pointers of what I have discovered over the years in my quest to cycle in style.

Firstly, I couldn’t help admire these stylish women on their bikes from the Paris Cycle Chic blog (good for inspiration too!).

French chic... by CycleChicParis

Paris Cycle Chic by Txell HGTenue de soirée... by CycleChicParis

Velib' - Paris by Bart Omeu

So let’s get down to business.
Choosing your skirt

I have found that short body cons skirts and very tight pencil skirts are best to be avoided. It may be good for the office but trust me, there is no room for your lovely thighs and knees to move around when pedaling. You end up resembling an Egyptian mummy rather than a dapper cyclist. The two skirts in the pictures above are firm favourites with me. The hounds tooth skirt on the left is just the right length and has a little bit of stretch in the material. The pleats in the skirt on the right adds extra coverage and flows whimsically in the breeze, very FRENCH. Both are nice for the office and means I don't have to change when I get to work.

Watch out for the shortness of your skirt. Going too short will alert the fashion police.  I have found that I can’t go shorter than 12 cm above the knee before I end up showing the world more than my thighs. To find out how short you can really go, try out a couple of skirts by cycling around the block before you brave a longer journey.

Make sure your skirt isn't too flowing. This can be a problem if your skirt is also very short, the wind ends up flowing underneath it like a tent and you will be spending more time holding your skirt down than holding your handlebars.

For extra comfort, wear a skirt with a little bit of stretch in it. This can be a godsend when you're manoeuvring on and off the bike and riding at speed.

Now that it’s cold outside, I find that wearing tights provides me with more opportunities to wear shorter skirts. A longer winter coat also gives extra good coverage. Bonus!

Starting your journey
When getting onto your bike you may risk a brief flashing, or if your skirt is a pencil skirt, you may find you are restricted. Whenever possible, elegantly hop onto your bike using the curb of the pavement. The extra height makes it a whole lot easier and more eloquent. If there isn't a curb nearby, just nip on quickly making sure to maintain that air of sophistication.

Once on the bike, be sure to check that you are sitting on the back of your skirt. You don’t want to give the car drivers an extra reason to beep you. To do this, I like to stand up slightly whilst cruising and push the skirt down as I sit back on the saddle. It’s an art form.

...and knees together..
On the ride
When you cycle your skirt tends to hike up a bit, you can re-adjust when in stationery traffic or at traffic lights.

If my skirt is short, then I like to cycle with my knees slightly together to avoid any mini flashes.

                                                        Off the bike
Getting off the bike is easy peasy if you have a ladies bike, they are made for such dignified manoeuvres! Just put your knees together and hop off. Get it? Knees together and HOP.

Last but not least, if you are locking your bike and wearing a short skirt make sure to not bend over too far!

So let's all get this straight....let's ditch the cycling leggings and WEAR YOUR SKIRT WITH PRIDE, repeat after me, WEAR YOUR SKIRT WITH PRIDE.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

A salute to the cycle campaigners

Source: Pinterest
If you are a twitter fiend and a blogoholic, you wouldn't have missed the coverage of the Tour Du Danger ride. It really has been a busy couple of weeks for the cycling activists out there!  And I'd like to say, let's all take our cycling helmet off to the winner of the London Cycling Awards, Danny Williams who won local campaigner of the year for his outstanding blog Cyclists in the City! I regularly read this blog and am completely enthused by the passion and persistance Danny and fellow blogger Mark from I B I K E L O N D O N have. Having such spirited people constantly dedicating their time and energy into standing up for cyclists and voicing the concerns we all have about poor cycling provision in London is wonderful.  Protests like the Tour Du Danger and the Blackfriars Flashride being arranged means us cyclists have a channel to express our dissatisfaction with TFL's attempts of creating a bicycle friendly city.
So, I'd like to dedicate this post to some of the cycle activist bloggers out there and the hard work they do in trying to change the roads for the better. Let's support them, because clubbing together means progress. Here is a handful of some of the blogs I like to read:

Cyclists in the City - As mentioned above, Danny Williams has just won cycle campaigner of the year 2011, he constantly posts about the recent political developments of cycling in London and persistently pressurises TFL to improve provision in dangerous junctions in London.

I B I K E L O N D O N - This blog goes hand in hand with Cyclists in the City for protesting against poor cycle infrastructure in London. Mark was the heart of the Blackfriars protest and has documented the problems of the Bow roundabout and the cycle superhighway. His aim 'is to stimulate discussion about the place of the humble bicycle in the urban realm' - This he does well.

Kennington People on Bikes -  I'm not a south London girl, but this blog really highlights local problems in Kennington, problems which occur pretty much in every borough and town which all cyclists can relate to. Charlie Holland is inspirational in pushing local authorities to make small changes which make a big difference for the ease of cycling in and around Kennington. Of course, he also campaigns for bigger changes in London as a whole such as the Bow roundabout and Blackfriars Bridge.

UK Cycle Rules - Ok, its not an activist blog as such, but it is a rock for the urban cyclist. This blog outlines all the legalities and rules of cycling in England. Excellent reference if you are unsure whether you are in the right or wrong when it comes to your own conduct and the conduct of vehicles on the roads.  I found the post about potholes really useful as I have my eye on a few to mention to Islington council (If you have read my previous post you will know that potholes are my arch rival). Plus the blog has a really nice banner!

The Grumpy Cyclist - Need I explain anymore? The Grumpy Cyclist is exactly what it says on the tin. There is more than a hint of Victor Meldrew in the posts which add a touch of humour to the road troubles portrayed. The video footage which sometimes assist the posts are perfect for brutally exposing the hard times the Grumpy Cyclist experiences due to silly, useless drivers.

At War with the Motorist - Three authors of this blog contribute to posts tackling the problems cyclists experience from in London and across the country. This blog has well-researched and written topics from cycling to school in the West country to evidence-based behavioural policy. Good sunday afternoon reading!

Vole O'Speed- Gorgeous header of a guinea-pig on a Brompton, at closer inspection it is not a real Guinea pig but is a great start to a blog about cycling. Blogger David, writes in detail about the trials and tribulations of cycling in Brent and other Boroughs. David has superb posts explaining every detail of poor cycle provision Brent has to offer.

Friday, 11 November 2011

My very short conversation with a car driver

We all know that the cyclist vs. car driver debate is a well trodden path, well I tend to take a walk down this path every now and than with a good colleague at work. He is a driver, I am a cyclist. Even though he thoughtfully checks that my bike is still safely parked outside the office everyday, he still can’t resist a bit of banter about why cyclists don’t belong on the roads. I’m not one to engage in this kind of argument because it is usually futile, but I was bored at work so I thought I would indulge him.
Here was our conversation on Wednesday:
Me: I was sandwiched really close between two cars this morning and whacked a parked car wing mirror. I didn’t damage it but I had no where to go.
Him: Cyclists shouldn’t be on the roads. Roads are made for cars. It’s cyclists like you who will damage my car.
Me: Cyclists reduce traffic congestion. If all cyclists in London got in a car instead of cycling, you’ll be stuck in traffic jams all the time.
Him: Cyclists shouldn’t be on the roads. My neighbour always parks his car really close to mine, it’s really annoying.
Me: If only your neighbour cycled, then you will have plenty of space to park your car
<no comment from him, conversation ended and work recommenced>

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Food fuel for cold morning cycle rides

Cycle friends, I don’t know about you but I’m starting to notice that the mornings are feeling rather nippy, especially when I’m going downhill with the fuzzy rain smothering my face. However, I don’t think this is entirely a bad thing, for instance when I arrive at work and peel off my helmet, I am no longer welcomed with a sweaty, hot, matted fringe. If you want pictures then click here.

Yes, the cooler air means a cooler body temperature for when you’re cruising along on the bicycle, and what more do you need than a decent breakfast to keep you going. With this in mind, I would like to share with you my very own helpmychaincameoff breakfast. This is the ultimate fuel for Jemma’s and cyclists alike, it gives you the energy you need for powering those pedals in the early morning fog. So here it is… Nutella Porridge! Everyone knows that oats are packed with carbohydrates and is a perfect source of slow burning energy, plus it really is like central heating for your belly! It is the perfect breakfast for chilly mornings.

I like to make a large bowl of porridge using Ready Brek, because this is the way I have rolled since being a kid. Don’t be shy, make sure to be generous and use no less than one and a half heaped tablespoons of Nutella for the topping. This melts into a chocolate swamp…tasty. And believe me, you don’t want to be messing around with honey or fruits, Nutella is the only way to help you get to work on those cold mornings on the saddle. Remember chocolate equals happiness.

So since making the transition to my winter breakfast, I have found I that I don't need to snack in the mornings even though I have pedalled all those miles! I don't think any breakfast could be any better.....apart from american pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, but who's got time for that in the morning! How do you fuel for your morning bike ride?

On a subnote, I’m going to tell you something breakfast related which you might think is creative and intuitive, or just a little bizarre. Let me explain. Porridge uses a grand amount of milk, which means I am forever going to the shop to buy a couple of pints. Indeed, this is what I did last week on my lunch break when I purchased a two pinter. With my milk in my bag I met my boyfriend on the bike before going to a gig in King’s Cross. Pleased that I had thought ahead and wasn't going to miss out on my morning Nutella Porridge, my partner helpfully reminded me that liquids are not allowed in the venue. So, I came up with the idea to lock my milk to my bike! Observe below.

Before you think I think I am crazy, I would like to let you know that #1 my bike and milk was in a lockable, private bike storage and #2 I implemented the rule that if the milk seal was broken then I would not keep it. Alas, it was in tact and I enjoyed my porridge the next morning! I'd call that creative thinking!