29 August 2008

Cycling in Oxfordshire

On bank holiday Saturday, while staying at my sister-in-law's in rural Oxfordshire, my bro-in-law, my 7-year-old son and I went for a bike ride, from Stanton Harcourt to Witney - a 10-mile return trip.

It was a sedate affair - my bro-in-law doesn't do rushed cycling, there's no pretension of performance, and once I got to Witney I realised that's very much the ethos in Oxfordshire - not only in the city among university students, but in the country among the 'common' folk. Cycling is for everyone, and in their own terms - just a way to get from A to B.

For Luke, his biggest bike ride to date, and something to build on. I was a bit miffed we didn't even break sweat.

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20 August 2008

A worthy bandwagon

Ok, I've been following the BBC documentary on Mark Beaumont and his round-the-world Guinness-record cycle journey.

Ok, it's nothing to do with me - my paltry 140 miles doing the C2C (in 3 days!) are next to nothing compared with the 200 days this chap spent on the road doing an average of 100 miles a day, often overcoming the challenges thrown by difficult environments. But I can't help feeling inspired by his achievement. Time to start planning the next ride!


12 August 2008


You know the kind - those who slow down as they overtake you, give you a dirty look and shout, or move their lips as if they were shouting. They've taken issue with something you've done - the ocassional mistake, but more frequently an offence that exists only in their imagination. Like today - I overtook a stationary bus, and although I looked and signalled this chap felt he shouldn't have had to slow down for me: why can't I just stop behind the bus until it moves on, and waste my time instead of his?

Sharing the road with cyclists? Perish the thought.

07 August 2008

Barcelona and 'bicing'

I'm just back from two hot weeks in Barcelona - and no, I didn't do any cycling while I was there. No need, for a start - excellent public transport, mostly air-conditioned. And no opportunity. But I did look at people cycling and found that Barceloneses do cycle, a lot. In common with much of the continent, they do it without the parafernalia we take to in the UK - they do it in their swimwear and flipflops. Also, they tend to prefer the pavement to the roads, except where there are dedicated bike lanes.

Now, much is being said these days about clever bike rental schemes in cities. I've seen such things in Paris and Stockholm, but can I say that in Barcelona the bikes rented by bicing.com were trully everywhere, ridden by all sorts of people. The design of these bikes is not fancy, space-age grey steel stuff, but it does the job very well - and you know, I actually like the red n' white combination. The photo shows a bloke booking a bike while talking on the phone. The website (in Spanish and Catalan) is very good - you can for instance check live bike availability and stuff. Note that, as they explain, their target market is not the tourists, but the locals - you have to join and pay a monthly fee, which includes some 'free' time, after which you start paying as you go. It aims to complement the public transport system - or, as they put it, it is part of the system!