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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Introducing the 5th Floor

Luke introduces the latest racers to join the Brooks' Stable

14 Apr 2016  |  Posted by GUEST  |  Categories: Correspondence, Friends, Sports Cycling, Urban Cycling

It all started on the top floor of an East London car park – the 5th floor.

Originally a meeting point for ‘Tuesday Night Tricks’, where people tried ride backwards on fixed gear bikes, it quickly became a focal point for the London ‘fixie scene’. We would meet up, drink Red Stripe, talk aerospokes and ride around London.

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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 For a start the roads were in a terrible state and road maps were years out of date and little more than sketches that failed to show if a road was bowling green smooth, boneshakingly rocky or an impassable quagmire.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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Mind is the Ride

Boneshaker's Jet McDonald drops by to tell us about his latest project

7 Mar 2016  |  Posted by GUEST  |  Categories: Art & Design, Correspondence, Curiosities, Friends, Stories, Travel & Adventure Cycling

Cycling and philosophy do not seem like obvious companions. Some would say the only thing that links the two is a preponderance of beards. However, philosophers have always wanted to take things apart to see how they work, much like the budding bike mechanic, and then put them back together again and see how they roll, much like a kid with a new bike. There is something so exhilarating about cycling, sweating up a hill and then racing down again, that it offers an unparalleled insight into the boundaries of human experience. What does it mean to feel pain and pleasure closely aligned? What does it mean to sense the whole extent of your body stretching and easing into the rough tread of a good ride? Can we measure these experiences objectively or are they only in the mind of the rider? What, after all, is the mind?

Philosophers love this stuff. It’s like chocolate cake to them. Or croissant if you’re a continental existentialist.

There’s a great story about the young Bertrand Russell (some would say the foremost British philosopher of the last hundred years) and the young George Bernard Shaw (big time orator and playwright, massive beard) detailed by Craig Brown in “Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings.”

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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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Koppenberg has lost it’s voice

Angus tackles a famous challenge

11 Jan 2016  |  Posted by Angus Edmond  |  Categories: Events, Friends, Monthly highlights, Sports Cycling

The Koppenberg, a legendary cobbled climb famous in the road cycling world is also home to the Koppenberg Cross, one of the hardest on the circuit and also one of my favourite races.

I raced the new Niels Albert cross race in Boom the day before, an impressive little course that uses the same area as the famed Tomorrowland, the worlds largest EDM festival. The landscape wasn’t amazing but they still managed to make a great course out of it. With the Elite men and U23 thrown together we were still only 27 riders on the start grid, giving me a rare spot at the start of the 3rd row. But this was not the important race of the weekend and energy needed to be saved for the Koppenberg.

Having a little fun in Boom :)

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My top rides of 2015

Juliet drops by to deliver her highlights of 2015

6 Jan 2016  |  Posted by Juliet Elliott  |  Categories: Bicycles, Correspondence, Friends, Monthly highlights, Stories, Travel & Adventure Cycling, Urban Cycling

Like many people, at this time of year I find myself reflecting on what’s gone before, looking back over the past twelve months and reflecting on the moments I’ve particularly enjoyed. As I’m one hell of a lucky lady, there have been a whole load of fun times in 2015, so in no particular order, here are my rides of the year.

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