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.

Highway Cycle Group + Warminster Cycle Group = Warminster Wobble

Had a meeting with Colin French of The Warminster Cycle Group yesterday to discuss a summer bike event for 2009. Colin and the Warminster Cycle Group are planning a bike day on Sunday 14th June in Warminster, Wiltshire to promote and celebrate cycling. It’s early days yet, but it promises to be a great event with something for everyone, from BMX displays to maintenance advice and riding masterclasses. There’ll be food, a cycle tour, trade stands, kids events and plenty of competitions and workshops. It’s going to be fantastic.

The event is called the Warminster Wobble and you’ll be hearing a lot more about it over the coming weeks and months. Keep that date in your diary free and stay tuned.

Poster for the warminster wobble 2009

Oh look, a rough poster I put together just for this post.

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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The Ride Journal – Featuring Greg Lemond, Victoria Pendleton and… blimey! The Highway Cycling Group!

Have you been looking for a cycling publication that talks more about the pleasures of riding than the latest kit? A magazine that isn’t stacked full of adverts, but instead is beautifully designed and elegant? A journal that covers all aspects of cycling, from BMX to cycle chic, via singlespeed and track racing? Yes?

I should very much like to draw your attention to a new cycling journal called The Ride. It is a thing of astonishing beauty, more akin to a book than a magazine, the design work alone makes it worth the £8.50 cover price in my opinion.

What about the content? Well you won’t find many adverts at all, and no technical reviews or ride guides. Surely every modern cycle publication must contain information on fitness, technique and nutrition for cyclists? Not this one. What it contains is a series of terrific articles, artwork and photo-essays that explore the feelings associated with riding a bike. There are BMXs on the Lower East Side, essays on the hunt for the perfect brakes, the birth of mountain biking, cycling through the snow, a tour of someone’s workshop, even articles from Greg Lemond (on his incredible Time Trial that won him the Tour de France) and a piece by the always excellent Victoria Pendleton.

There is even an article by yours truly, The Highway Cycling Group. The Editor Philip Diprose contacted me at the beginning of Spring, having read this blog and wondered if I would write a piece on the origins of The Highway Cycle Group. I gladly did so, producing a piece specially for the journal that has not been featured on the blog. I didn’t know if it was any good or not, but it seemed to fulfill what Philip was looking for in producing a bicycle journal with soul. To my surprise and delight, they published my article, along with a couple of pictures from the archives of the Group, including one of the badges my father made.

The Highway Cycle Group in The Ride Journal - apologies for the quality of the image

The Highway Cycle Group in The Ride Journal - apologies for the quality of the image

I hope my piece stands up to scrutiny when compared to the other articles, there is some really good writing in the rest of the journal.

It also turns out that someone else from the village has also written for the journal, Debbie Burton is well known in the world of mountain biking, not only for her journalism but also for her clothing company Minx stylish cycling gear for girls. Philip had no idea that we live in the same village when he commissioned us and Debbie and I only found out we’d both written for it after the journal was published. Debbie received her copy first and showed it me during the school run. Small world.

Get over to The Ride’s website and snap up one of the limited first editions – each one is numbered and there’s only 1000 copies available.

*** Stop Press *** It’s sold out already! They may be going to reprint and are taking emails to gauge interest – get your name down now and ask for a reprint, these are going to be collectors items. I cannot stress how beautiful and soulful this journal is, it makes Rouleur look like Cycling Weekly, and that seriously takes some doing!

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.

Rivendell Jersey (drool!)


And normally I pour secret scorn on individuals who say “OMG!” so perhaps you will have some idea as to my depth of feeling over this. The wonderful Bicycle Works from the U.S.A. have produced an absolutely beautiful wool cycle jersey. Everything about it screams “classic”, but don’t take my word for it, take a look for yourself.

Rivendell Jersey

I’ve said it before, I think Rivendell are easily my favourite bicycle company, the bikes are so far out of my financial reach that it’s ridiculous for me to even look at a picture of a Rivendell bicycle, but look I most certainly do. Their every product screams “high quality”, actually because it’s Rivendell there is no screaming, only gentle insistence on traditional materials, craftsmanship and crucially, integrity.

Published in: on February 18, 2008 at 9:09 pm  Comments (2)  
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Bamboo Bikes on Make (Fishing Interlude)

I have to admit that I’m a bit of a magazine addict, I have subscriptions to Rouleur, Wire, Fortean Times and, crucially for this post, Makezine. My subscription to U.S. Mag Bicycling recently ran out. I rarely get Cycling Plus as I’m just not interested in reading about a road test of a £3000 carbon fibre frame. I feel that if you’re not careful cycling can go the way fishing as a pastime tends to go when it comes to kit and expense*.

It’s Makezine I want to focus on for this post. Make is published by the incredible O’Reilly group, a publishing house run by Tim O’Reilly, the man who coined and defined the words Web 2.0. O’Reilly produce, to my mind anyway, the best instructional manuals and guides that are available. To me though, the jewel in their crown is Make Magazine. This is a quarterly publication for tinkerers, engineers, hackers, coders, guerilla film makers, modders, self-publishers… Ok I hear you, Geeks then.

On the magazine’s blog recently appeared an article about the Bamboo Bike Project

The Bamboo Bike Project is a collaboration between scientists and engineers at The Earth Institute at Columbia University and a bicycle builder at Calfee Design. The project aims to examine the feasibility of implementing cargo bikes made of bamboo as a sustainable form of transportation in Africa. The ultimate goals of the project are:

  1. To build a better bike for poor Africans in rural areas.
  2. To stimulate a bicycle building industry in Africa to satisfy local needs.

bamboo bike

*One time my friend Lee and I went fishing at Longleat. the first thing we noticed was that the wind was blowing from the car-park across the water, pushing debris against the opposite side of the lake, that’s where the fish would be feeding, basic angling knowledge. So we walked all the way round the water to the opposite bank, to where we could see the carp right up against the bank, and set up there with our one rod each, tiny fishing bags, nets, bread and sweetcorn. Then we watched as every single angler got out of their cars and vans, unloaded masses of kit, tents, rods, bait boats, bite alarms, seats, huge tackle boxes… and set up on completely the wrong side of the water. I’m not kidding we were the only people on that side of the lake. We were also the only people catching anything! Every now and again one of them would wander round the lake and ask what kit we were using, or what our miracle bait was, but when we told them it was just our position, they were a bit put out. The main reason being they couldn’t drive over to the our side of the lake, so they couldn’t get their fancy kit over!

Similarly in cycling I’ve seen guys squeezed into Discovery Channel kit riding carbon frames or specialist TT bikes with clipless pedals and £200 wheels, weighing 17-18 stone with their tummy hanging over the top tube. Nothing wrong with being tubby on a bike, I’m carrying at least a stone too much myself, I think it’s admirable to get out on the bike when you’re a bit hefty. But having all the kit isn’t going to help you get fitter, it comes down to two things only… eat less, ride more. I have to admit, I’m failing on that side of things at the moment myself 🙂

Published in: on February 8, 2008 at 10:11 am  Comments (1)  
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Rivendell Revamp

click here to go to the Rivendell Bicycle Works

I’m a little late on the update here, but Rivendell Bicycle Works from the USA have finally completed their revamp of their site. It looks really, really good. What I particularly like is the breakout box that comes up when a product in the shop is clicked. Then you can ‘look at it’, ‘read about it’ or ‘see related products’ – really simple but very effective.

I also love the Bike Camping section. You know that they’re not going to sell you anything crappy at Rivendell, they totally believe in all the products or they wouldn’t sell them. Integrity is the watchword here. There is a nice recent interview with Rivendell founder Grant Peterson here at Momentum magazine, it’s worth a read. Grant and Rivendell are all about just riding your bikes and having fun, although they’re pretty serious about bike set-up and geometry, passionate in fact. I recommend buying a Rivendell membership, not least because you’ll help keep them going (and if you’re passionate about bikes you’ll be sorry if they stop trading, you don’t know it yet but you will) but also because you get copies of Grant’s nearly quartlerly magazine The Rivendell Reader (although at the time of writing Grant appears to be suffering from RSI so a new reader is a few months off). Get over to the Rivendell site now and have a good browse.

Published in: on October 16, 2007 at 7:16 pm  Comments (1)