y o u b i k e l o n d o n; Chris from York

Name: /age?
Chris, 36
Where do you live / ride to?
Whilst in London I commute from Cockfosters to Euston, I ride a fairly complex ‘traffic avoiding’ route. Oddly I don’t really know what parts of London it goes through but something like; round the back of Southgate, over the A406 to Bounds Green, Alexandra Palace, through some ‘lumpy’ residential streets to near the back of Finsbury Park, down into Islington then over Camden Road and along by St Pancras Station. I do this every day apart from the day I go home to Yorkshire – as a treat!
For training (when not on my rollers) I ride the lanes of Hertfordshire which I know well from a stint working in Welwyn. It is quite pleasant training without any of the sort of climbs we have back home, great for intervals and riding alone. But I live in York. I just come down to London for some days each week to work. I’m very lucky as York and North Yorkshire is quite possibly the best area in the country to ride. Sincerley, although I am biased, it is superb. I urge Londoners to put their bikes in cars or on trains and get out of the city and explore the country by bike. Your life will only be enriched by it!
What do you ride?
For work I have a Trek 29er single speed MTB which I got specifically for London commuting, before I was using my beloved 1992 Colnago Super-Pui converted to run a single free gear. But that is going back home to rest in my garage. I’m lucky I have a big selection of top bikes to ride, a Look 586, Trek 9-series Carbon MTB, Argon 18 Platinum and a Dolan TT bike etc. I’ve loved Campagnolo all my life so (apart from my MTB’s) they all run Record and Super-record.
How often do you ride?
I ride in some way or another every day. Once the racing season starts I will have a day off at some point, usually a Friday – but I always ride and normally for a minimum of 2 hours. Unless it’s the rollers then my head caves in at 45 mins.
Helmet or no helmet?
I always wear a helmet every time I ride a bike. I urge others too as well. I’m not for making them legal – cycling is about choice but I think the Government should make them advisory and VAT free.
What's your primary reason for cycling?
I’ve done it all my life and love the sport dearly. I can’t imagine my life without cycling. I’m a racer – and probably always will be in some way but I love all types of cycling. I ride to work because I don’t like public transport, well the transport bit is ok, it’s the other bit that generally annoys me...
Least favourite aspect of cycling?
Cycling in London. (Sorry to say this.) I’ve been riding for many years and have done so in many countries and London is probably the worst place to ride. It has its good points – fear not. But the traffic, not the volume, the attitude of other road users and their contempt for your life don't make for a great cycling experience. However, we cyclists could help ourselves more with our actions. We all have to get somewhere but doing it in a dangerous way does no one any favours. This fixation of riding with no brakes is also ridiculous. Time to wise up people, you only get once chance at this life.
Most favourite aspect of cycling?
My favorite aspect is either the feeling of winning a race or out on a Saturday with the lads in the wonderful North Yorkshire hills, especially in summer on the best bikes when we are all in super-shape. Love it.
What do you never leave the house without?
Tube, gas and multi-tool. Or a spare tub if I’m riding on tubulars.
How many locks do you carry, and have you ever had a bicycle stolen?
One lock with a long cable extension, so far I’ve never had a bike stolen.
What advice would you give to an aspiring cyclist thinking of cycling in London for the first time?
Don’t be scared, be bold but not stupid. Don’t go for that half a gap that will save you a second. Don’t follow the fashion of these silly-city bikes, have one which stops quickly. Keep it well looked after. Stay alert and be obvious. Don’t run red lights. Most importantly, get out of London on your bike. Its marvelous out there, too many London cyclists I know think urban cycling is king, its not. It’s a means to an end. Transport. Use your bike for more than transport, use it to enrich your life and see some the country near by. You don’t have to be training for a race and ride round at 25mph, get into the lanes for a potter about.
If you were Mayor of London for the day, what would you do to improve the lot of the London cyclist?
If I were mayor for a day I would spend the day educating motorists on how venerable a cyclist is, and educating cyclists on how they can improve other road users perception of them by acting in a more sensible manor.  I drive 25K miles a year and it alarms me following other vehicles how little space they give cyclists, this alone would be my opening approach. I hope I'm a more considerate driver due to my time on the bike.
So my day would involve education as wide-scale infrastructure changes are unrealistic.

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Unknown said...

Nice post! One thing - I think cycle helmets are already zero-rated for VAT - Gordon Brown did it when he was chancellor, years ago.

ibikelondon said...

You're right PJ, it had totally slipped my mind. Bicycle helmets are zero rated for VAT so long as they reach certain safety standards.

It's a shame, considering the health implications / benefits, that they don't do the same thing for bikes themselves!

Tim Beadle said...

What's a "silly-city bike"?

Dan said...

I think this might be my favourite you bike London. I think we could all listen to this guy his words are wise.

Especially the get out the city bit, even if you're not a 'racing' rider.

Clive Chapman said...

Now there's someone who gets the road user argument. Every side of the divide could do better at being road users. Everyone needs to understand the other side.

Oh and yeah, get the hell out of the City (any city) and ride the countryside, you won't regret it.

Anonymous said...

I agree that educating drivers is the key. They get close to try and make a point some times but they forget that if some-thing happens, the cyclist could die and they just get a dent on their car.

ibikelondon said...

Interesting how the advice 'get out of the city' seems to be so popular. I feel supremely more confident cycling in Zone 1 of London than I ever do out on some wide suburban road (or even the country lanes) simply because the traffic speeds are so high. I must be a real city boy!

Yellow Brompton said...

Very good post. I think it's important to be considerate, whether driving, cycling or walking. I see as many bad cyclists as bad drivers when I'm cycling around town, and can understand how drivers come to see us all as vermin.

I did a lot of cycling in extremely rural areas, and agree that those country lanes are a nightmare - no fun with some farm boy coming round a bend at you doing a legal 60mph on a Max Speed Limit one-car-wide cattle track...

Hex said...

"wide-scale infrastructure changes are unrealistic"

It makes me sad to see you publishing this kind of nonsense.

ibikelondon said...

@Hex The point of youbikelondon is that people get to read the opinions of a broad array of cyclists - not just those I agree with.

Incidentally, the questions is 'if you were Mayor for the day', in which case I'd be inclined to agree with Chris. If I only had one day I'd focus on education. If I had longer then infrastructure would be the top of my list.

Anonymous said...

I think you meant vulnerable?

Buy Pit Bikes Online said...

I'm proud of the cyclist who are committing their time just to give their support in joining the cycling tournament. Imagine, joining in this kind of event is not a joke. You can spend time, money and effort just to be there.

anna g said...

And I thought I was alone in cycling from Cockfosters into central! ;)