Tag Archives: The Bike Show

In Praise Of…The Bike Show

That was fun. It’s a good job that time in the real world, outside the studios of radio stations, doesn’t go by as quickly as it does inside those little sound-proofed rooms. We’d all be in our graves before we were out of the maternity ward. Fifteen minutes on Jack Thurston’s Bike Show on Resonance FM flew past, just as the hour on BBC Radio Berkshire and the ten minutes on Talk Radio Europe had done so last year. You can now listen to the entire half-hour programme on The Bike Show website. And here (for once), I shall stop banging on about Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie (‘there you go again – shut up!‘) and take a moment to praise Jack’s show. It really does merit a place in The Guardian editorial column called ‘In Praise Of…‘ where unsung things are sung loudly & proudly. He has been presenting it since 2004 on Resonance FM and I scratch my head (and kick myself at the same time – not an easy thing to do) as to why I hadn’t heard of it, and more importantly hadn’t been listening to it before now. An eclectic mix of all things cycling – just scan your eyes down the archive of programmes – it is criminal that it is only broadcast in the central London area (104.4FM by the way) and not more widely. But there is of course the Internet that does help address that particular issue. In fact, The Guardian is indeed a fan. And so, now, am I. Highly recommended! You can follow Jack on Twitter @TheBikeShow as well as the other presenter of the show, Jen Kerrison @jenkerro. And while you’re there, @CyclingEurope of course!

P.S. : One of the past editions of The Bike Show features Blue Door Cycles, the place where I will be speaking on Wednesday 15th February at 8pm. I’m listening to it as I type! Details of how to find Blue Door Cycles on the shop’s website.

Thirty Minutes Of Worldwide Fame

Well, The Bike Show is available online so compared to Reggie’s five seconds of fame last Friday on BBC South Today, my thirty minutes on Monday evening surely compares quite well, no? Three ways to listen; if you live in central London the show is broadcast on 104.4FM, if you live anywhere else in the World (more likely), listen via the Resonance FM website or, if you are just too busy waiting for your own weather picture to appear on your own local television news programme between 6.30 and 7pm, listen later via the podacst on The Bike Show website. No excuses. Please pay attention when listening: there will be a test later.

A Bell Of A Problem: Hornits, Pings & Brings

Were I ever to become the Prime Minister of this country (which admittedly is a long shot as I don’t belong to a political party and Prime Ministers recently have been getting younger and younger), the second thing I would do is to ban people from designing things which do the job of something already in existence, only worse. I can live with bad design per se (we are on a long quest to design Nirvana and not everything can be done immediately), but designs which take a step backwards are annoying to say the very least. So annoying in fact that they should become illegal.

Lest this become a rant, I’ll pause and explain why this second great act of my premiership has been playing upon my mind in the last few days. On Friday, I listened to the podcast of Jack Thurston’s Bike Show on Resonance FM (yes, the one I am supposed to be appearing upon in a couple of weeks’ time and which I am now  avidly listening to in order to get a sense of what it is and, I have to say, I’m loving it – why wasn’t I listening years ago?). In last week’s show, Jack took himself down to the London Bike Show (I was planning on doing so but it had been a long week…) and interviewed a few people who had some innovative new designs to introduce to the cycling world. You can read about them by visiting The Bike Show’s webpage. I thought the clothes were interesting & the pedal thing intriguing (I was trying to visualise it from its description on the podcast but when I saw the picture on the manufacturer’s website, it looked nothing like the Heath-Robinson image I had in my head). But what most attracted my attention (and no doubt most of the attention of Docklands when it was demonstrated at the Excel Centre show), was the Hornit ‘seriously loud cycle horn’. The Hornit’s website describes the horn as “the loudest cycle horn on the market.  It emits a piercing 140 decibel sound which is enough to alert lorries, vans, buses, cars and even ‘in-a-world-of-their-own’ pedestrians. Compatible with all styles of bikes, including road bikes, it gives cyclists a way of letting all other road users know where they are and makes cycling much safer.” (Watch the video at the bottom of this post and get ready to jump out of your skin!) Now, let me first make clear that I don’t think that the Hornit is a step backward in design terms. I have to admit that it’s not my thing however, and the sedate people of Reading and Berkshire may have a few things to say if they had me blasting their ear drums with 140 decibels every time I wanted them to move out of my way. In London, perhaps it has a function. I’ll let others debate that point.

The interview on The Bike Show did get me reflecting upon my own inadequate ‘bell’. Here it is in all its pathetic inglorious state, being outshone by the magnificent glory that is the Cateye front headlight. It’s attached to Reggie’s handlebars and, lest you think Reggie is no more Reggie Ridgeback and has become Reggie Giant, I’ll set your mind at rest; I have no idea why I was sold a Ridgeback bike with a Giant bell. Anyway, when it does go ‘ping’, it is barely sufficient in decibels to alert even the most attentive of pedestrians, let alone those in the evening who have other things on their mind such as how much their petrol bill is this week or how disgraceful the parking charges are (yawn…). As for alerting any cars or passing lorries, I am whistling, if not shouting in the wind. And it is this rather than the ‘hornet’ upon which I will vent my prime ministerial anger and which will encourage me to wage my legislative war on bad design. It is just crap! Bicycle bells used to be just that, bells. They went ‘bring bring’, quite loudly but politely to tell others you were on your way. There was nothing wrong with them whatsoever; they were a brilliant example of classic design simplicity. But what did society have to do? Yes, we had to replace them with the pathetic, useless, pitiful ‘pinger’ (I shall henceforth remove even its status as a ‘bell’ as it is simply not worthy of the name). Probably for reasons of, well… I don’t know; is there a good reason why the traditional bicycle bell had to be replaced with the ubiquitous pinger? Answers on a postcard (or the comment box below). It was purely and simply a massive step backwards in terms of design and under my regime, such a thing would never have happened.

Having calmed down somewhat, I took a walk down to my local Evans bike shop earlier this afternoon. It came as no surprise that of the four so-called ‘bells’ on show, three were of the ‘pinger’ variety. The other one was a ‘Disney Princess Bell’ which ticked the box of being a bell, but there were crosses in ever other imaginable box and I didn’t invest. Would you? I was pounced upon by one of the sales guys and I did ask if they had any normal, traditional bells (without references to Disney cartoon characters) and he suggested I try the website… A little dejected I went for a wander around the rest of the shop and just as I was inspecting the bookshelf to see if they had come to their senses and decided to stock Good Vibrations (which they hadn’t), the sales chap pounced upon me once more but this time with something that looked like a real bell that he had found in the workshop! My delight was uncontrollable (although I did manage to do so), I paid my £3 (bargain!) and am now the proud owner of a proper cycling bell. Well, nearly… It’s still a bit more ‘ping’ than ‘bring’ but it is a move in the right direction. I shall report back later this week as to the effectiveness of my shiny new bit of kit. Update, 8.30pm: Just fitted the new ‘bell’ and it is rubbish. Crap. Pathetic. Embarrassing. Not even worth £3. I need to real bell ‘bell’!

Sorry, what was that? Ah yes, the first thing I would change if I were to become PM… Here is not the place for a full manifesto but it involves Golf Clubs & the housing shortage. You fill in the details. Right, get ready to jump;

London Calling… Four Times!

My home town of Reading is only thirty minutes or so from central London on the train and over the next couple of months, I will be very grateful for that small quirk of geography as I will be up in the capital quite a bit.

First off is my first training session as an Olympic volunteer. Now, I must first say that I have yet to be accepted as an official ‘Games Maker’ but I have been asked to attend a training session nevertheless at Wembley Arena on the 5th February. Read into that what you will. Let’s hope it’s a good sign rather than anything else…

A week later, at the start of the half-term on Monday 13th February, I’m due to appear on The Bike Show on London radio station Resonance 104.4 FM hosted by Jack Thurston talking about Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie. I’ve known about the show for quite a while but, shame on me, have never listened to it so have just spent a couple of hours catching up on recent podcasts from the programme and I have to say it makes very good listening indeed. Highly recommended, especially last week’s interview with David Herlihy, author of The Lost Cyclist, the story of Frank Lenz and his ill-fated attempt to cycle around the World in 1892. More details about my appearance in due course so watch this space.

48 hours later on the 15th February, I’m in Crystal Palace attending a Cycling Book Club at Blue Door Bicycles. The book they have chosen to discuss is… mine! If you are anywhere near the shop (the postcode is SE19 1BG), the kick-off time is 7.30pm. It would be great to see lots of people there. I’ll be talking about the cycling journey along the Eurovelo 5 as well as the adventure of writing and publishing the book although I think the former topic will dominate discussion. I’ll hopefully be joined by Paul, my friend in London who gets a mention at the very start of the book on cycling day 1 and also by John, a friend from Yorkshire who I haven’t seen for many years (the last time was when I bumped into him at a cashpoint in Halifax and we ended up going to see Halifax Town as it then was playing at the Shay stadium) who followed my journey online and who was then very complimentary about the book itself. He happens to be in London that week for work and offered to come along so I am very much looking forward to catching up with him again.

As if all that were not enough, the esteemed (I think) London Cycling Book Club have also decided to have Good Vibrations as their book to discuss at their next meeting and I have offered to go along and meet the group. Once again, I’ll be following in the footsteps of David Herlihy as his book was the last one under discussion. The group normally meet in Fitzrovia although the exact location, date and time have yet to be decided. Again, watch this space for more details or simply follow me on Twitter at the newly renamed @CyclingEurope where I will reveal all (when I know all).

There is no escape…