Having grown up in Croydon I’ve done this a few times myself so I felt this guy’s pain:
Having grown up in Croydon I’ve done this a few times myself so I felt this guy’s pain:
Every morning groups of cyclists gather to ride the park’s Outer Circle. As cycling gains momentum in the city, more circuits might flourish:
It’s half past seven on a mild October morning, just getting light, and I am waiting with my bike at one of the most tranquil spots in central London, under a canopy of trees on the Inner Circle. Hidden away inside Regent’s Park, the Inner Circle is a circular road where my cycling friends and I are to rendezvous before setting off for an hour’s training.
“Training” might be overstating it. Right now I am not in training for anything, nor to my knowledge are the others – Lewis, Charlie, and Graham. We are here to play.
I see Lewis approaching. Pretty soon we are quorate and the ride can begin. The four of us head to the Outer Circle – Regent’s Park’s perimeter road, measuring a little under three miles and for many years now an unofficial cycle training route. A wide thoroughfare where greenery abounds and vehicles and traffic lights are relatively scarce, it is a unique facility in central London, which amounts to a secret cycling idyll.
Not that it’s so secret any more. I started making bike trips to Regent’s Park more than 10 years ago. In those days, cycling of this kind was a relatively obscure subculture. Now it’s mainstream and in pre-work hours the Outer Circle is thronged with men and women on two wheels.
Pay a visit any time between 6.30am and 8.30am and you’ll see us – dozens and dozens of Lycra-clad figures on our not-inexpensive road bikes, riding mostly in groups, some as big as 20- or 30-strong. We aren’t going anywhere. We’re riding the circuit, getting our heart rates up, feeling the speed, revelling in the sensation, trying to improve, or just stay fit. The ride is an end in itself. It serves no outward purpose. It’s the very essence of play.
“Regent’s is an arena,” is how Graham sees it, “replicating in miniature the aspects of a much bigger ride.” It has fast stretches, corners, changing vistas, even a climb – the drag up the east side when travelling anti-clockwise, the direction the vast majority of cyclists choose because it is the safer, inside option.
The south east corner of the Outer Circle – the point closest to the Euston Road – is, for my group, where the lap begins. Then it’s up the east side drag – you can really hurt yourself on that stretch – before the road flattens and bends to the left and takes you past London Zoo, then dead straight and flat for about 500 metres through a long left-hander past the US ambassador’s residence, Winfield House, and descending to the Regent’s Park mosque. The final stretch passes the top of Baker Street, runs parallel with Marylebone Road and then it’s back to where you started.
How fast was that one, you wonder? You won’t know until you’ve checked your Strava tracking app at the end of the ride. What you do know, as Graham says, is that the park is beautiful and there is camaraderie in the group. As with the parkour phenomenon of urban running, in which the obstacles of the built environment are turned to advantage, so it is with cycling and Regent’s Park. The Outer Circle wasn’t laid out with cyclists in mind. We discovered it, we saw its potential, we shaped it for our purposes, turned it into our playground.
The game we invented has its rules. Strangers hook up all the time. My group will jump on to the back of other groups. Other cyclists will jump on to the back of us. Most of us reckon we know how to conduct ourselves riding in tight groups, which is much the most effective way to ride at speed. No random braking, maintain your line, overtake smoothly, do your turn at the front. Or if you don’t want to do a turn on the front – if the pace is just too high – then stay on the back.
The way that one can coexist with people one doesn’t know – in close proximity, in a state of mutual cooperation, mutual dependency – is what raises Regent’s to the level of social experiment. I will latch on to someone’s wheel and for a few minutes we are as one, this stranger and I, until one of us drops off, or a bigger group forms or, more prosaically, someone’s time is up and they have to go to work. Partings are generally unspoken but from time to time there’ll be a “thanks” or a “nice work”.
Another rule is don’t jump red lights. The red-light jumpers aren’t “one of us”. They’ll be the commuter cyclists. Even though nearly all of us are going on to work afterwards, we are not commuter cyclists. Not for the duration of our Regent’s Park session, anyway. We occupy a separate realm. On one of the very rare occasions when I witnessed “one of us” jumping a red light, the offender got a telling-off from a fellow cyclist. The dream is of a clear round in which the five sets of lights – three of them pelican crossings – are all green. It rarely happens.
Regent’s Park is a kind of cycling utopia. It’s not like cycling anywhere else in London. But could that utopia spread? The future of London travel can only involve more cycling and less driving – or at least less driving by human beings, which itself must make cycling safer and more attractive. Project forward 10, 20, 50 years and only one scenario seems possible – a London turned into a fully fledged cycling city.
Around this time of year, Christmas music is everywhere. Sometimes, you hear a familiar tune in the most obscure places.
The 2018 Allez, Allez Elite, and Allez Sport model bikes potentially contain defects to the fork crown which could compromise safety.
US bike brand Specialized has announced a mass recall of its 2018 Allez bike range.
The range of aluminium bikes is among Specialized’s most popular at the lower end of its pricing scale, but now owners are being told to stop riding and return their bikes as soon as possible.
Specialized says it has discovered a possible defect to the crown fork of the 2018 Allez, Allez Elite, and Allez Sport model bikes, which could compromise rider safety.
Returned bikes will be fitted with a new fork by the company, with riders getting priority replacements over retailers, who have been asked to immediately halt sales on the bikes.
Specialized also said it had no knowledge of anyone suffering injury because of the defect and it wasn’t raised with them by a regulatory agency.
A Specialized statement from director of engineering Mark Schroederread:
“We are asking riders to stop riding, and our dealers to stop selling, these bicycle models. Even though, to our knowledge, no one has been injured and no regulatory agency has brought this to our attention.
“We’ve already engaged our considerable manufacturing resources to supply high-quality replacement forks, painted to match the affected bikes. Riders who’ve purchased these bikes will be our first priority for replacement, followed by our retailers.
“As riders ourselves, we fully understand and are working hard at finding solutions to minimize rider inconvenience. We will need time to obtain necessary government approvals and time for our factories to produce a sufficient quantity of forks for the recall.”
Specialized went on to apologise for the inconvenience caused to Allez owners and said updates on the recall can be found on its website.
Eben Weiss writes how drivers are dangerous whether they’re radicalized or just oblivious:
After Tuesday’s terrorist attack in New York City, in which police say Sayfullo Saipov steered a truck onto our most popular bike path and killed eight people while injuring 12 others, many local cyclists took to social media to express their determination to ride the next day despite the horror.
They didn’t need to. Of course we’ll keep riding.
If there’s one group of road users virtually immune to being cowed by a lowly act of terrorism involving a motor vehicle, it’s cyclists. We’re reminded every day — through rolled-down car windows, on too-narrow roads, via social media — that we “share” the roads with people who actively hate us and that our interests (including safety) come behind theirs. Every one of us knows what it’s like to stare death in the grille. Daily riders have all had drivers aim their cars at us as if they were about to plow us down, whether because of run-of-the-mill inattention or out-and-out road rage. This reality is priced into our decision to ride.
Read the rest here.
As it’s become tradition, today Trek presented Alberto Contador with a very special bike to commemorate his racing career. The custom Émonda SLR was unveiled at the team presentation for the Vuelta a España, which will be the last race of Contador’s career. It’s been 14 years since El Pistolero joined the pro ranks, all of which culminating at the end of the Vuelta on September 10th, in Madrid…
Painted with a split of Quicksilver matte and Metallic Charcoal gloss, the bike understated yet rich with details that highlight all three grand tours and his overall race wins. Emblazoned on the downtube is “Querer Es Poder” or “where there’s a will, there’s a way” which Trek says is Alberto’s personal mantra.
Here’s to a great final race, and have fun in retirement Alberto!
Transport for London will keep cycle routes in London ice-free this winter by using quad bikes equipped with gritters.
The responsibility for clearing ice from cycle routes in the British capital is split between TfL and individual London Boroughs – including Cycle Superhighways.
“When a Cycle Superhighway sits on a borough road the council maintains and grits it,” a TfL spokesperson said. “When it’s on one of our roads, we grit it. Most of the Cycle Superhighways are on our roads.”
While the majority of the road network can be treated using conventional lorry gritters, the narrower lanes used for cycles are inaccessible to large vehicles. At 1.2 metres wide, the motorised quad bikes can fit into a bike lane and the majority of footways with ease.
Rather than using salt and grit, a substance called Pathway KA is used, which contains potassium acetate to melt ice. The quad bikes can carry up to 500kg of ice-melting chemicals.
A TFL statement said:
“Although there hasn’t been significant snow falls for three winters now, TfL and London Councils develop coordinated plans every year, alongside the emergency services, to keep the rail and road networks open and running in case of any severe weather”.
“This includes key arterial roads, cycle routes and footways around bus and railway stations, hospitals and police, fire and ambulance stations across London.”
“TfL and London’s boroughs will also ensure that the Cycle Superhighways and other cycling routes remain safe to use during the winter months.”