Politics in Motion : Londoners on Bikes

Julian Sayarer joins The Brooks Blog on the eve of the Mayoral Election in London

27 Apr 2016  |  Posted by GUEST  |  Categories: Bicycles, Correspondence, Monthly highlights, Urban Cycling

Cycling used to be a little bit deviant. We used to wait – a few of us – at traffic lights on sunny days, and alone on rainy ones. People on bikes were often a bit different, or at least from the margins: environmentalists, aspiring pro riders, people with little money or, at the very least, a very British type of eccentric. In London that’s started to change – slowly at first, and now ever faster. The city’s residents have started to demand air quality that doesn’t kill them, transport options that don’t cost an arm and a leg, and – very often – simply roads to cycle on safely. Cycling now says no more about a Londoner’s identity than the fact that they want a nice, convenient way to get around their city.

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The Best Cycling in Girona

Juliet lifts the lid on some sensational Spanish riding

21 Apr 2016  |  Posted by Juliet Elliott  |  Categories: Bicycles, Correspondence, Friends, Monthly highlights, Sports Cycling, Travel & Adventure Cycling

Last week, the husband and I took a short break in Girona, where we set about cycling the best routes we could before stuffing ourselves with food and falling asleep at about 9pm every evening – pretty much what happens every time we go away together – we’re so romantic like that. There was a time in the not too distant past where you’d have to wrestle a pint/shot/wine glass out of my hand as the hour approached midnight but now I find riding at threshold makes me slur and stumble enough to be a really cheap date.

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More Than Just a Map

When the bicycle was invented the roads were terrible, and so were the maps. But not for long.

13 Apr 2016  |  Posted by Jack Thurston  |  Categories: Art & Design, Bicycles, Correspondence, Friends, Monthly highlights, Travel & Adventure Cycling

If it feels like we’re in the middle of a bike boom, it’s nothing compared to the 1890s. This was the decade when the world first went bicycle crazy. Bikes had evolved from a unwieldy and dangerous penny farthings with solid tyres to the now familiar bicycle with two equal sized wheels, diamond-shaped frame, chain drive and inflatable tyres: a bike that anyone could ride.

It meant people could travel further and faster than ever before. The only question was where to go, and this turned out to be quite a conundrum. For a start the roads were in a terrible state and road maps were years out of date and little more than sketches that failed to show if a road was bowling green smooth, boneshakingly rocky or an impassable quagmire. It was therefore fortunate that the same advances in engineering that gave birth to the bicycle were also revolutionising map-making. What’s more, many of the new maps hitting the market were designed specifically to help cyclists explore the countryside.

As well as showing the quality of the roads, a good cycling map must show where the hills are. Most road maps of the time ignored hills altogether or else depicted them as cartoon-like hillocks reminiscent of the days when medieval map-makers would liven up a large expanse of water by drawing in a few sea monsters. One popular map style of the time was the strip map. These showed a single route in considerable detail but failed to give a sense of the road network as a whole.

A nineteenth century strip map. Beautifully drawn but designed for the wealthy gentleman riding in in a stagecoach than for the independent bicycle traveller

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The Latest Additions to our 150th Anniversary Celebrations

Canyon

5 Apr 2016  |  Posted by BREGAN  |  Categories: Bicycles, Friends, Heritage, Monthly highlights, Style & Fashion, Travel & Adventure Cycling, Urban Cycling

To celebrate a legacy of craftsmanship 150 years in the making, Brooks and Canyon have teamed up to combine tradition and innovation in the Commuter Brooks 150. Based on the recently launched Canyon Commuter 6.0, this special edition model will be limited to just 150 pieces.

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The Fragile Finger of Fate

Guest Blogger Bike Snob NYC gets a boo-boo

24 Mar 2016  |  Posted by Bike Snob NYC  |  Categories: Bicycles, Correspondence, Friends, Monthly highlights, Travel & Adventure Cycling, Urban Cycling

Recently, at the very tail end of a ride, my friend and I made the fateful decision to take a little detour and tack on an extra dirt section.  It was the sort of prolong-the-fun gluttony of which we’ve all been guilty, and with which we tempt fate, like accepting the infamous wafer-thin mint in “The Meaning of Life.” Sure enough, fate took note of my greed, and she rewarded it with a crash and a busted digit.

Therefore, exactly one week later to the day, I resolved to redeem myself and avenge my finger (specifically my right thumb) by undertaking the exact same ride.

Only this time, I resolved, I would not crash.

I undertook my pre-ride preparations with near religious solemnity and even donned the same stretchy vestements I had worn on that fateful day.  This was partly to acknowledge the significance of the journey I was about to undertake, but it was mostly because they were still sitting there on the drying rack from the week before.  I did, however, select a different bicycle, since I figured bar-end shifters would be easier than STI levers to manipulate with my compromised hand:

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Poetry in Partnership

Brooks enlists some of the world’s best bike makers for new 150th Anniversary “Dashing Bikes”

17 Mar 2016  |  Posted by GUEST  |  Categories: Art & Design, Bicycles, Monthly highlights

In 2016, Brooks England celebrates its 150th anniversary by enlisting the cooperation of some of the best bike builders in cycling to work on an unprecedented project creating interpretations of a Brooks bicycle to be produced in limited numbers and sold worldwide.

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Finding Zen On The Trails

Juliet heads into the darkness in search of some peace

1 Mar 2016  |  Posted by Juliet Elliott  |  Categories: Bicycles, Correspondence, Friends, Monthly highlights, Travel & Adventure Cycling

Though we’re now past the shortest day of the year, if you get your kicks from hightailing it on two wheels and feeling the rush of wind in your hair, February through March can be a bit of a bummer. The days still seem too brief and it can be hard to juggle work, family, chores and cycling and fit everything in whilst there’s still enough light to see what you’re doing.

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The Fat is Out of the Bag

Guest Blogger Bike Snob NYC battles the snow

2 Feb 2016  |  Posted by Bike Snob NYC  |  Categories: Bicycles, Events, Friends, Monthly highlights, Sports Cycling, Travel & Adventure Cycling, Urban Cycling

New York City.  The Capital of the World.  A great financial and cultural dynamo hub illuminating the rest of America and beyond.  Birthplace of the skyscraper, hip hip, and the “New York minute,” which is just a regular minute with extra cheese.

When it comes to cycling, however, one could argue our heyday is well behind us.  Madison Square Garden was a Mecca of six-day racing…like a hundred years ago.  New York City’s bike messengers were once iconic…though the style’s been appropriated worldwide, and “Quicksilver” to “Premium Rush” represents a precipitous decline.  Alas, we used to set the pace, but now it comes to “bike culture” we’re playing catch-up.

Consider the whole fat bike thing.  They’ve been riding fat bikes for years out there in “Fargo” country, but New York City’s first-ever fat bike race wasn’t until January 23rd, 2016 in Cunningham Park, Queens:

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A Life in the Year

Long thought unsurpassable, 2015 saw two exceptional mile-eaters take on cycling's Year Record. Jack Thurston looks back at how the oldest and toughest record in cycling was finally broken.

25 Jan 2016  |  Posted by Jack Thurston  |  Categories: Bicycles, Correspondence, Monthly highlights, Sports Cycling, Travel & Adventure Cycling

In Ancient Greek mythology, Zeus punishes Sisyphus for his avarice and cunning by condemning him to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. The notion of punishment by arduous, never-ending and ultimately meaningless toil is not confined to Ancient Greece. In traditional Chinese folklore a miscreant named Wu Gang faces the divine punishment of forever chopping down a self-regenerating osmanthus tree that grows on the moon. The cycling equivalent of these mythical tortures is the Year Record. The thought of getting on a bike, riding for more than twelve hours only to get up the next day and do it all again, and again and again for a whole year makes me shudder. I’d rather fly to the moon with my felling axe.

Sisyphus by Titian

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Chased by Dogs – The Transcontinental 2015

Camille McMillan brings us a tardy piece of reportage

20 Jan 2016  |  Posted by GUEST  |  Categories: Bicycles, Correspondence, Events, Monthly highlights, Travel & Adventure Cycling

Just before the start of the Transcontinental, Austrian, Walter Reiterer, In his printed Lederhosen

For a time bike racing had lost its shine for me. I was beginning to resent the bicycle and in particular bike racing. The gloss of the Tour de France, the hyperbole of the spring Classics, Super teams with P.R banality, with brand guidelines, overkill!  

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