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Riding a bike should be easy

  • Posted by alex
  • 3 May 2012

Isn’t that what we are told? You learn when you are small and, like an elephant, you never forget. What an amazing deal. Once mastered, you have a gift that lasts a lifetime, and even if you part ways for a period of time it waits patiently for you to return. Once bought, it is the gift that keeps giving – health, entertainment, and convenience. So why isn’t everyone riding a bike? Shouldn’t the streets in every village, town and city hum with the sound of rubber passing over tarmac? You only have to observe parts of cities like London, Bristol, and Cambridge at rush hour to see the potential. Hybrids, racers, fixies, bmx, mountain bikes, single speeds, choppers, Dutch bikes, and cruisers all spinning to and fro.

While cycling numbers have increased by around 20% across Britain over the last decade, we lag behind other European countries. The number of cyclists killed or injured sits around 27,000 for that period. This figure is unacceptable and concerns over safety are the main reason many bikes sit unloved in garden sheds up and down the country. This is a terrible shame since cycling represents the elixir to many of our problems. Regular riding can significantly improve fitness levels (goodbye beer belly) and increase life expectancy (hello happy retirement). By swapping an eight mile round trip commute from car to bike, you save 0.5 tonnes of carbon per year – that’s the equivalent of a short haul flight.

It stands to reason that if we want a country that is synonymous with cycling you need to ensure that it is safe. As a result of much hard work by sustainable transport charities and cycling campaign groups we have seen significant progress. Most recently, the Cycle Safe campaign from The Times – coupled with February’s Parliamentary cycling debate - has helped raise the profile of cycle safety. There is much that can be done to improve junctions, slow speeds in neighbourhoods, and provide better road user training. However, this all requires investment – even a small percentage of the road budget could make a huge difference across the country.

Ultimately, the goal is to get people – young, old, male, female – on bikes for their everyday journeys to places like school, work, and the shops. However, currently around 66% of journeys (two miles or less) are completed in a car. While the number of accidents involving cyclists are a concern, the perceived danger can sometimes outweigh the actual risks. It is important to emphasise that cycling is still a fun, exhilarating, and egalitarian means of getting around. You hear of schools not letting kid’s cycle and adults looking on in horror as you ride past on the way to work. It is important to remember that it’s cycling, not war. Going forward, we need more people on bikes and (much) improved cycle infrastructure to ensure that the fun isn’t taken out of cycling.

Words: Ben Addy

Getting out the door

  • Posted by howies
  • 12 April 2012

Exercise makes me happy. If I run a couple of times a week I think clearer, I sleep sounder, I eat better, I work more productively. I am happier. And yet, I can go for months without going for a single run. What's with that?

It took a chance meeting with Olympic athlete Steve Cram to tell me what the problem is. It's the front door. It's there, and its shut. He told me, "it doesn't matter if you're a professional athlete or training for your first fun run, the hardest part is motivating yourself to get going. If you can pull your trainers on and get out the door, everything else is easy."

The good news is he also told me how to open the door. Its a 2 step process:

1. Set yourself a goal.
Enter a run / bike ride / triathlon / adventure race / bog snorkel.
Nothing too hard, just something you couldn't do today.

2. Tell EVERYONE.
Parents, children, postman, neighbours, doctor, God, Twitter followers,
ticket collectors etc. There's no turning back now.

It works. For example, I haven't been swimming for 5 years. Then yesterday I entered a 1.5 mile swim to the Isle of Wight. I now have exactly 94 days until I walk down the shingle beach and into the waters of the Solent. So today I found my old trunks at the back of my drawer and tomorrow morning I'll be in the local swimming pool.

David came to howies to show us a website he built with a couple of friends to help people with the difficult Step 1.

You can guess what it does. It gets you out the door.

Words: David Wearn

www.findarace.com

Challenge yourself to something new and when you've found a race, let us know where you're racing on facebook, or tweet us with the hashtag #foundarace. You might even find a friend or two to get out the door with you.

One man’s junk

  • Posted by howies
  • 4 October 2011

Recycled Cotton
If you were to go into a clothing factory and have a look around, you’d see the huge amount of wastage that occurs during the manufacture of clothing for all those brands out there.

There’s tonnes of the stuff – cotton off-cuts and scraps all over the factory floor. And you can probably hazard a guess as to what most of them do with it too... that’s right, they bin it and send it all to a landfill site. Good cotton going to waste for no reason.

We wondered what could be done with that old junk material. We figured we should try to make something new with it. So we worked with the factory to fix this.

Now we are able to take all the cotton waste from those other brands and we recycle it. Those scraps are mulched into something that resembles cotton wool, ready for re-spinning into a new recycled cotton yarn, which can be made into new garments.

And interestingly, because it’s a mix of all different grades of cotton, it gives our recycled cotton pieces an irregular and washed out look and a really cosy soft hand feel.

The irony is that most of the companies who are throwing their old cotton away actually have to use harsh chemicals and processes to achieve that look. All we do is sweep up and use what they throw away.

Save the Velodrome

  • Posted by howies
  • 1 December 2010

Save The Velodrome
Time is ticking for the oldest cycling circuit in the country.

South London’s Herne Hill Velodrome is in danger of closing for good.

Quickly deteriorating, and suffering a lack of funding, the track and surrounding mtb trails are used by hundreds of children.

Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins started his track career  there aged 10. Now future champions race and train helped by a team of devoted coaches and volunteers. A campaign - Save The Velodrome - has been formed by a community based alliance of local residents and the cycling community. Keeping it going will require funding - both corporate and private, as well as ongoing voluntary support.

Perhaps fuelled by a tough economy, and a wider interest in health, cycling seems to be enjoying a resurgence at the moment though - and as more and more people realise the benefits of riding for both their hearts and pockets, this campaign seems to be perfectly timed. So to help keep this important venue alive, please visit savethevelodrome.com and register your support.

With thanks to Judith, Jason and Peter.

Winter Survival Kit

  • Posted by howies
  • 1 December 2010

Categories:

Winter Survival Kit

Winter-Survival-Kit
Lots of tea.

Cosy blankets.

Homely soups.

Thick socks.

Chocolate.

Plenty of dry logs.

Matches.

Some good books.

The knowledge that no winter can last forever.


Illustration: David sparshott

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