Highway Cycling Group and The Bike Show

18:30 Monday 29th June, listen to the Bike Show on resonance FM to hear what happened when Jack Thurston of the Bike Show rode through The Highway Cycling Group’s patch on day two of his epic ride from London to Bristol. Listen in as we visit The Hackpen Clumps where the HCG founder’s ashes are scattered, and look out over the Wiltshire landscape.


Find out what happens if you take a Lemond Etape with a cheap back tyre at speed down Green Lane, the rutted, flint-strewn, chalk scar that drops from the Ridgeway to Avebury.


Walk with us as we make a circuit of the stone circle and speculate wildly on its origins. Join us as we drink in the pastoral scene of two highland cows enjoying the shade of a horse chestnut tree.


And gasp in amazement as Jack interviews me whilst riding along a recently restored canal path between Chippenham and Lacock. Throughout, I invite you to smirk at my funny sounding voice and my wheezing as I try to keep up with Jack.

Finally, don’t forget to donate to Resonance FM to help keep the Bike Show on the air.

If you missed the show, you can download the podcast or listen at the Bike Show web page

Thank you very much to Jack Thurston for inviting me to be his guide through the Wiltshire landscape, and for an absolutely splendid day, including, but not limited to, lunch at the Red Lion – Avebury, a dip in the river at Lacock*, and some speedy puncture repair.

Jack Thurston prepares to take a dip in the river, Lacock, Wiltsire

Jack Thurston prepares to take a dip in the river, Lacock, Wiltsire

* Where we were joined by Daniel Start, author of Wild Swimming and Wild Swimming Coast two books I most heartily recommend if you fancy a dip in the river or sea.

The Warminster Wobble is here!

This is a brief reminder to local riders that the Warminster Wobble weekend kicks off tomorrow with a series of bike rides in the Warminster area.

Wobble poster-handbill_Colour

Then on Sunday, it’s the wobble day in Warminster Town Park. There’s going to be loads going on, a ride (easy), bike maintenance, displays, stalls, bouncy castle, food… all things bikey. That starts at 11:00am and goes on until 5pm, get there early to ensure you don’t miss a thing. The Town Park is opposite Morrisons, off Weymouth Street.

I hope to see some of you there, I’ll be wearing my big green Highway Cycle Group badge (visible at the top of the right hand column on this blog) and possibly wearing a cycle cap.

It’s going to be great! But it needs you to come along, doesn’t matter what level of cyclist you are, athletic, fun, aspiring, commuter… come along, or where you’re from, come from Bath, from Norton, from Bristol, from Trowbridge, from Westbury, from Dilton Marsh, from Calne, from Melksham. Come by bike, by car, by bus, by train, just get there! There’s something for everyone! Make it a great day for local cycling.

It is an Ancient Mariner, and he stoppeth one of three

On Friday October 17th 2008, in Bristol at The Cube Cinema, there’s going to be an event that I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while. My good friend Tom Stubbs (one half of the back-porch, West-country, banjo-xylophone-mandolin-guitar duo My Two Toms, one quarter of lo-fi supergroup The Lonely Ponies, community film-maker, artist, animator and alter-ego of Graham Lightside) is showing three films that he has directed or co-directed. They are the following:

The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner (on bicycle)

Shot in a frantic week in September 2007, and only recently finished ‘The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner (on bicycle)’ is a travelogue that cycles in the footsteps of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge whilst also somehow being lost at sea with The Ancient Mariner.

Armed with a photocopy of the poem four intrepid Artists travel a route that Coleridge would’ve regularly walked, from Nether Stowey to Bristol. Along the way they drew as many people as they could into The Mariner’s plight.

The team worked with a primary school, a school for people with learning difficulties, several community groups, two homes for elderly people and a pub.

The film knits together The Mariner’s tale with drama, reminiscence, writing & animation, to make a psychedelic yet perfect mix between entertainment, community outreach and human interest.

Directed by Tom Stubbs, co-directed by Jay Kerry, Jon Nicholas and Joff Winterhart. Produced by Wolf + Water. Running time 50 minutes.

Shape UP

20 min video about healthy eating for adults with learning difficulties

written by Stephen Clarke + Tom Stubbs

A biggerhouse production for Learning Disability Services, Somerset in association with the engine room

Light and Dark

A Phantasmagorial autobiographic masterpiece exploring the minds of Michael Smith and Tom Stubbs, both have alter-egos, but whereas Michael’s Alter-ego is a muscled anthromorphic fox with a taste for sex, dark humour and violence, Tom’s Alter-ego is an earnest, technology obsessed video engineer.

All the films are superbly realised and beautifully produced. At the same time they are laced with humour, yet moving and engaging. I’ve been meaning to blog about The Rime of The Ancient Mariner (on bicycle) for ages, it’s just so marvelous that I want to share it with everyone, but it utterly defies description. It has too many lovely moments – Joff drawing the scenes described by residents of an old peoples’ home as they share their memories, A drunken narration of the poem in a rowdy west-country pub as the locals cheer on the press-ganged reader, a serendipitous meeting with a descendant of Wordsworth come to trace the same route, the way the primary school children throw themselves into the task of telling the tale, the double-booked hall.. it’s all good.

When I saw Light and Dark for the first time I was blown away. It’s very short and as soon as it finished I watched it again immediately. Again it defies description, all I can say is turn up on Friday 17th, watch and enjoy.

Music will be provided by the aforementioned My Two Toms and Bucky.

Admission £6 (£5 concession)
Friday 17th October 2008
Doors open 7.30

For directions and a map to the Cube click on the link below.

I hope to see some of you there.

Support The Bike Show

The Bike Show, as far as I am concerned, is a national treasure. This fantastic radio show (also available as a podcast from iTunes) is probably the only show about bicycles on the airwaves in the U.K. It has it’s fair share of listeners the world over too. The content is always rich and varied, from rolling interviews (interviewing while cycling along), examinations of cycling and politics, town planning, weird cycle rides, sub-24 hour camping, a history of Moulton Cycles, Round the world by bike, bicycle films, bicycle music… that’s just the last six weeks or so. If you haven’t listened to The Bike Show, then I implore, nay, insist that you go to the web page and listen. There are also complete archives available, if you are just discovering The Bike Show for the first time, then there is over three years of previous material to keep you going, load them up onto your iPod and listen at your leisure.

In an interview, the Bike Show presenter Jack Thurston once said of the connection between bicycles and radio:

“I think they are both subtle technologies, and gentle technologies. Television shouts, whereas radio is just a word in your ear. I think a bicycle compared to a car is the same kind of thing. There’s a subtlety the bicycle shares with radio.”

He also has great taste in music, lacing the articles with sounds, old and new, to create a collage or a tapestry of sound. It’s lovely to hear the sound of gentle exertion as an interviewee eases up a hill while talking about an around the world trip by bike. Or the ringing of bike bells as the interview rolls along a canal path. Or my very favourite sound, the ticking of a freewheel.

If you listen to The Bike Show already, then, if you have not yet done so, you really should make a donation to Resonance FM, the radio station that broadcasts it. Actually if you have already done so, you should do so again.

“Resonance 104.4 fm is London’s first radio art station and is run by the London Musicians’ Collective. It started broadcasting on May 1st 2002. Its brief? To provide a radical alternative to the universal formulas of mainstream broadcasting. Resonance 104.4 fm features programmes made by musicians, artists and critics who represent the diversity of London’s arts scenes, with regular weekly contributions from nearly two hundred musicians, artists, thinkers, critics, activists and instigators; plus numerous unique broadcasts by artists on the weekday “Clear Spot”.”

Which is as much to say that it’s essentially run by volunteers. As you can imagine, it costs a lot of money to run a radio station, so Resonance rely on donations, it’s continued existence often looks a bit precarious. If you have listened to, and enjoyed, the bike show, I implore you to chuck them a bit (or a lot) of cash to help keep them going. It would be a sad day indeed if the bike show could no longer be heard thrumming out of our speakers or headphones on a Monday night. Support Resonance FM by making a donation here.

I’ll leave you with a photo that goes with a set from a recent interview on the show with the owner of London’s ‘anti-bike shop’ selling old restored classic bikes. More gorgeous pics from the flickr set here.

Published in: on October 2, 2008 at 10:24 pm  Comments (1)  
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Happy Bike Week!

I’ve just realised… it’s bike week. Also, deepest of joys, Jack Thurston is back on air with The Bike Show on Resonance FM, and even deeper joy, the bike week programme features my good friends Bucky I posted the video to their song The Bike That I Ride on an earlier post. Also this week, family rides in the far east and rolling to the stones, London to Stonehenge.

Go to listen to the Bike Show’s Bike Week programme – right here. Go on!

Published in: on June 16, 2008 at 10:29 pm  Comments (1)  
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Why I Have Not Blogged

I’ve been working on The Prince’s Rainforests Project website. The last two to three weeks have been absolutely non-stop. I think it was worth it though. Here are two films from the website, produced by A Productions of Bristol. The first two are short animations (under a minute) each highliting one aspect of rainforest destruction. If you visit the website there is a five minute film featuring some amazing rainforest footage and The Prince of Wales welcoming you to the site and explaining why he’s set up the project. The site will grow and become more interactive over the next few months, but there’s already a lot of rainforest information on there and the chance to sign up and make a (non monetary) pledge. Take a look.

No riding in a place with chaos

Courtesy of Novemberfive, who has a new smart looking folding bike. Check it out here.

Published in: on May 31, 2008 at 8:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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In John’s Workshop

Tools in John\'s Workshop

As it was sheeting down with rain all day, and I was working right up to the bell, John and I decided to postpone the Wednesday Ride and possibly make it a Thursday Ride instead. That did not stop us getting all bikey though, by eight forty-five in the evening I was in John’s workshop with some of the parts of the shopper bike. The frame and forks with stem and headset attched, and the rim, hub and spokes for the back wheel. John looked down at the Sturmey Archer hub I had just handed him and happily explained that it was assembled in August of 1984. He showed me the 84 8 stamp on the metal and said it was made in England, they stopped stamping the dates when the manufacturing was moved overseas.

John’s first job was stripping down, cleaning and rebuilding secondhand bikes that had been brought in for part exchange at a bike shop. He learned about classic hubs like the Sturmey – many modern bike mechanics in a shop would rather you bought a new hub that have to open up a Sturmey, but not John, he has an appreciation of good engineering. John got the stem off with a combination of brute force, a metalworker’s vice, GT85 and a big hammer covered in a rag. Then he made me laugh, he kept saying, “well I’m not going to take off the bottom bracket tonight”, then proceeded to do so, then “I won’t take off the cups on the headset” just before doing just that. We surmised about doing up old bikes and reselling them and I brought Coco’s Variety Store to his attention. This fantastic shop, owned by the legendary Mr. Jalopy is a model of recycled cycling, with bikes rebuilt from scrap with parts from other reclaimed bikes.

With the last bits of the bike in pieces, much chat and a cup of tea later, we decided to call it a night. Phase two of the shopper rebuild is now in operation – parts cleaning and repaint. John has the back wheel to build and I now have a lot of greasy bearings and oily bits of metal to clean up. then comes the repaint, and finally the all important reassembly.

The only problem is, I now have to go to London for a client meeting with ingrained oil on my hands tomorow.

Ride Like The Wind

bike wind turbineanimated gif of turbineHere’s an interesting little device. I first noticed this in last month’s Wired magazine and thought it looked like an amusing bit of hokum. Now I see that Firebox are selling it. It’s a mini wind turbine that can power mobile devices like iPods. You need to have winds of 9-40mph to power it though, optimum charging seems to occur at around 19mph where 20 mins of charging will give you 30 mins of play time on an iPod or 4 mins talk time on a mobile phone. It tops out at 40mph. All well and good if you want to stick it out the window on a windy day, or if you’re camping, but crucially, you can also buy a bike mounting kit. Now 40 mins of riding at 19 mph should in theory give you one hour of iPod time, or 8 mins of talk time on a phone. I don’t know how an iPhone compares with that, but in theory one could be completely mobile powerwise, using an iPhone or similar to snap pics, upload to flickr and also blog all on the move without recharge. Ideal for touring.

charging times

What I want to know is would it be possible to use it to trickle charge a bike light? There must be a hack that would allow that. Now that would be really useful.

I took a brief ride today to the local garage to pick up some snacks. I was hungry so didn’t really feel like riding hard, the Brompton sufficed. Really summery weather, heat haze, chitinous wings bouncing off my face as I cycled along (mouth firmly closed to avoid ingesting ‘winged protein’). Lovely. On the way back I freewheeled into the village, seeing how far I could get without pedalling. Downhill, up again, sl o w i n g r i g h t d o w n – freewheel clicking slower and slower like a clock winding down – then speeding upagaininthedipbefores l o w i n g down again on the next rise. The answer was, right up to the front of the Cross Keys pub.

For details of the mini wind turbine and how to purchase it, click here to go to the product page on Firebox.

Published in: on May 7, 2008 at 10:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Little Bike

The Little Bike that the village children
learn to ride on

Recently we were given a special little bike by one of the families in the village. This little bike has been passed round several children who have all learned to ride on it. There are at least four that I know of, but I think the bike has been in the village for quite a while, so it could be many more kids that have gone through the whole rite of passage on this bike. Now it is the turn of our youngest boy. However, the bike itself was looking a little worse for wear. So the first thing I did was cut off the manky foam grips (or at leasst what remained of them) and replace them. Then I sorted out a new brake block and adjusted the brakes so a child could easily work them, brake handle reach was pulled in and the biting time shortened by tightening the cable. The chain wass a mess, I’m not sure when it last saw oil, so a good soak in WD40 was followed by an oily rag wipedown and re-oiling with lube on every link. The chain guard is missing its cover and the remaining part is split so I will either have to fashion a replacement or strip the whole thing off. The bike is now ridable again.

I love the idea that so many children have learned to ride on this little bike, nowadays it seems that everything has to be bought new and disposed of once it’s finished with. Passing a bike round is a tremendous community activity, no one actually owns that bike any longer. It reminds me of an article in the American magazine Bicycling that I read last year, though the bike featured in that article was a little more stylish. We will do our best to look after the bike and pass it on once our youngest has finished with it, it would be lovely if the bike keeps helping children for years to come. I think with a little TLC it should do.