Freewheeling in New York City

New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham's slide show reveals
what Park Avenue looks like when the street is taken over by bikes and
other non-motorised wheeled traffic. Having gone on a bike tour of Manhattan myself last year, this looks like a lot of fun!

‘The Man Who Cycled the World’

If you live in the UK be sure to watch BBC1 tonight to catch the third episode of The Man Who Cycled the World.

This is a four-part documentary series about Mark Beaumont's attempt to cycle around the world in 200 days.

Unfortunately, I only caught the tail end of the first episode on Monday night, but I watched all of the second episode last night and am looking forward to the next installment this evening.

I was a huge fan of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman's Long Way Round and Long Way Down adventures (as my book blog will attest), but they had it easy with god knows how many people in their support crew. Poor Mark, a 25-year-old Scot, is doing the whole journey solo, using a handheld camera to record his trip. There's no back-up crew or local 'fixers' to help him on his way.

And unlike Ewan and Charley he doesn't seem to moan every three minutes saying 'I miss my wife' or 'I'm not enjoying this' or 'I wish our timetable wasn't so rushed'.

Plus, he grows a much better beard than either of those two could muster!


Mark's official website.

BBC news story about Mark breaking the world record.

Story in the Mirror about the TV program.

Where has everybody gone?

Whenever I cycle to work I try to leave before 8am, when the traffic of both the two-wheeled and motorised kind starts to get heavy.

This morning, energised and ready to go after yet another self-imposed cycling break, I wasn’t really keeping my eye on the clock, and when I jumped in the saddle it was 7.59am. Talk about cutting it fine.

I needn’t have worried though. The roads were so quiet. Very few cyclists around and not many cars either.

I guess everyone is still on summer holidays. I wish they’d stay there!

Total distance: 12.42 miles | Ride time: 1hr, 16min and 38sec | Average speed: 10.27mph | Top speed: 18.3mph

The first few minutes in the saddle

Oh my god, it’s August already! Summer’s on the wane and I’ve barely cycled through any of it. I decided to rectify that situation this morning and dug my bike out of storage — covered in builder’s dust it was — and hit the road early.

I love that first few minutes in the saddle after you haven’t cycled for a long time, because you suddenly remember why you love commuting by bike so much. There’s no hanging around train platforms waiting for trains that don’t turn up. There’s no pushing and shoving to get onboard over-crowded carriages. There’s no delays. No annoying passengers pressed up closer than what would be socially — and legally — acceptable in any other situation.

Oh. And there’s the fresh morning air (or as fresh as it can be in London) and the quiet stillness before the city truly comes alive. You see people walking to work, or the tube, or heading off to school. And there are delivery vans dropping off produce and supplies at local shops, and there’s the promise of a whole new day in front of you. That’s why I like commuting by bicycle — aside from the health (mental and physical), financial and environmental benefits.

Total distance: 12.16 miles | Ride time: 1hr, 11min and 38sec | Average speed: 10.73mph | Top speed: 18.1mph