Adrian's Writing

…and drawing

I'm doing a 100 mile charity cycle ride in August


On Sunday 10th August, the Prudential Ride-London Surrey 100 mile charity event takes place on closed roads between Central London and the Surrey Hills. I'll be taking part, fundraising for the charity Population Matters, which works to educate, inform and support the aim of a smaller global population. Their mission, stated on their website is to:

'raise awareness of the cost to humanity and other species of unsustainable human numbers and promotes smaller families as part of a sustainable future'

I'm going to cycle the route on a folding bicycle, an airnimal chameleon to be exact (check out the pic; it's a great bike). I'm even planning to wear a shirt, tie and shorts for a full commuter look (but they won't be cotton. I don't want to collapse with heat exhaustion half way through the course). I thought a folding bicycle would be an interesting choice of bike, as on first glance, it seems a mad, impossible idea, but in fact is perfectly feasible with a little effort, just like reducing our global population.

I should be very visible on the day, as I'm planning to be wearing a big sign saying '100 miles without folding', along with the Population Matters logo. If you'd like to sponsor me, I have a JustGiving web page set up for donations. Wish me luck! Happy

Bikes for Africa

In the UK, the cycle-shop chain Action Bikes are involved in a charity scheme where people can bring in their old bikes, bike components, tools etc to the shop and Action Bikes will collect them and pass them on to Re~Cycle, Bicycle Aid for Africa. These bikes, components and tools are then sent to Africa where they can have a new lease of life in rural communities. I'm a big fan of cycling; it's healthy and environmentally friendly and there's no doubt any more that we need to maximise bike use and minimise car use throughout the world. Action Bikes have several branches in London but you can also click on the Re~Cycle website for other places to drop off your old kit. It's better than leaving them to rust in the shed! Happy


Giro Cycles cafe in Esher

As readers may have already noticed from my earlier blogs, I am a keen cyclist and I’ve really enjoyed the arrival of a very good cycling cafe in Esher, Surrey, UK, called Giro Cycles. Read More...

Five places I've almost been killed while cycling

There’s been a lot of talk this week about cycling deaths in London. Our mayor, Boris Johnson, responded to the news by seeming to imply that the deaths were due to cyclists using the roads in a reckless or dangerous manner; in other words, it was probably their own fault they had been killed. This viewpoint is, unfortunately, shared by many other non-cycling Londoners. This mentality can be seen in the recent case of a man in Scotland who was only banned from driving for five years after he killed a cyclist, even though it was the second cyclist he’d killed.

In the hierarchy of respect in this country, I wonder sometimes if cyclists are viewed by society as somewhere around the level of a horse. Actually, even that might be optimistic, I’d be fascinated to read the reports of the public reaction to someone killing two horses and see how they compare. A year-or-so ago, I found out that even though Teddy Bears are more dangerous than cyclists, a Tory MP tried to enact a new law, specifically to punish dangerous cyclists.

To try and help change the view that cyclists’ deaths are mostly their own fault, I’ve put together my top five place in London where I was almost killed even though I was doing everything right. In every case, I was cycling responsibly, stopping at the lights, giving appropriate hand signals, staying in lane, carrying bright lights if it was dark, etc. I wasn’t being foolish, reckless, undertaking, getting in a lorry’s blind-spot, or performing sudden accelerations. I was Mr Responsible. Perhaps, if people read about one cyclist’s experiences, some of them might feel a little more sympathetic towards cyclists and the dangers they face.

Here’s my top five, in no particular order:

Letter to Boris: Electric taxis in London

I thought I'd send a letter to Boris Johnson putting forward the idea of introducing electric taxis in London. Read More...

Cyclists or teddy bears; who's the most dangerous?

A hot topic this month in the world of British cycling has been the plan by Tory MP Andrea Leadsom to bring in a new Bill to target dangerous cyclists (Covered here among other places).

Although the number of people killed in the UK by cyclists is around one every other year, she still feels it's important to send a message to these two-wheeled potential killers. The example she has given of a cyclist killing someone is a case where a cyclist hit a pedestrian who'd strayed into the road. To make things worse, he'd reportedly shouted at her 'I'm not going to stop!' before he hit her. Read More...

The joys of towpaths and parks

Normally, when it comes to going on a long cycle ride, I always think of getting the road bike out. It's light, fast and I can zip along the roads emulating the stars of the Tour de France. The only problem is, I don't really emulate the stars of the Tour de France at all. Firstly, they're a lot fitter than me. Secondly, when we see them riding, they're on traffic free roads. They don't have to dodge 4x4's or huge lorries or people turning left without indicating. Thirdly, their rides seem to start at ski stations or medieval walled towns, rather than Tolworth.

This discrepancy nagged me one day. Why was I trawling through dull suburbia for twenty miles just to get to the start of a scenic route? Was there an easier way to enjoy cycling - the trees, the twisting lanes, the challenging hills, the exhilarating descents - without all that hassle? I thought back on what I'd done when I was younger. How had I enjoyed cycling then? I remember that I'd really enjoyed cycling on the tracks on the park and common near my house. Not as dramatic but just as fun. I therefore decided to find a route on my doorstep that had those elements. Here it is: Read More...

An adult on a bicycle

A great quote from H.G.Wells:

"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race."

Lycra louts and trouser suits

Here's a personal favourite, resurrected from the pre WordPress crash days. Enjoy!

One phrase that has puzzled me in recent years is ‘lycra louts’. It is used regularly and with a fair amount of emotion but I really don't know why. I can understand ‘lager louts’ since drinking lots of lager can make the best of us into anti-social idiots. But why do people demonise cyclists wearing clothing that reduces chafing? If anything, you’d think it would be the opposite way around. The cyclists without the lycra would be the menace. If I cycled for four hours in damp underwear that had been rubbing itself against my sensitive areas with all the delicate softness of a cheese grater, I would scream and shout if someone got in my way. But it’s the opposite. Read More...

My favourite cycling books and films

A friend asked me recently to recommend some cycling books and films. Instead of just telling him, I thought I'd stick them on my blog so everyone can check them out.

First off, an absolute gem of a French animated movie called 'Belleville Rendezvous'. There's not much dialogue but there doesn't have to be. The expressions and actions tell you everything you need to know. A young french lad is given a bicycle and it transforms his life. With the help of his grandmother, he becomes a professional racer (incredibly skinny apart from HUGE thighs). He takes part in the Tour de France but ends up in the broom wagon. From there, he is kidnapped, taken to New York and made to take part in a 'simulation' Tour De France ran by gambling gangsters. Strange, magical, often hysterically funny. The only criticism I would have is that the middle section about the three old ladies - the Belleville triplets - drags on a little too long. Apart from that, brilliant.


My journey to work

I might not have my own flat nowadays, or be able to go on a fancy holiday, or buy the latest kit (have you seen the new 11" Apple MacBook Air? It's very nice...) but on the plus side, I don't have to commute into London every weekday. Hooray! Instead, I cycle the following route...

First off, it's into Bushy Park through Hampton gate. Read More...