87 very special hours – my PBP 2015

“Vous-avez fait déjà 1001 km”. It was a beautiful afternoon when I rode past that humble sign. Locals stood by the roadside cheering us on, and I started to cry.

Leaving Paris…

Having left Paris 69 hours earlier, I still had 230km ahead of me. But with more than five hours time on hand, I felt pretty confident that – barring disasters – I would make it.

I had expected a lot of suffering on PBP, the 1235 kilometer non-stop bike ride from Paris to Brest and back again: Saddle sours, hot feet, Shermer’s neck, falling asleep on the bike – the internet is full of long-distance rider’s horror stories.

But to my big surprise, I was feeling really strong despite having ridden 1001 km.

Morning is breaking (on day 3)

The second half of the ride was actually going better than the first one. I had found my rhythm, had met the perfect cycling companion, and being on my bike had turned into a spiritual experience. I felt like the bike and myself had become one entity. A magic experience I had never had before.

Almost half way: the last leg into Brest

This is not to say Paris Brest Brest was a walk in the park. It wasn’t. I had experienced my low-point after about 350 km, about 20 hours or so into the ride.

Continue reading “87 very special hours – my PBP 2015”

My PBP qualification and RRtY in pictures

It’s only a few days to Paris-Brest-Paris. I have been dreaming for more than a decade about taking part in this historic long-distance cycling event, but always considered completely it out of reach. Not just cycling 1230km in 90 hours. Just the challenge of qualification –  doing four long-distance rides of  200km, 300km, 400km and 600km in the same year and within a certain time limit – seemed way too big.

Well, after upping my cycling significantly in recent years and successfully starting to lose weight in January 2014, I began seriously pondering to “do PBP” in 2015. As a preparation, I started a challenge called RRtY. This stands for  Randonneur Round the Year and means doing  at least one 200k ride in 12 consecutive months. I completed it last Friday with a 200k ride after work.

Here’s my RRtY and PBP qualification year in review.

My Audaxing career started in earnest in July 2014, when I did a 325k  ride from Lille in France to Oberhausen in Germany. At the time, it as by far the longest ride I had ever done so far.

I took the Moulton on the Eurostar, spend the night at a hotel in Lille and headed off 4.30am. Continue reading “My PBP qualification and RRtY in pictures”

Deep Lee Coroner’s Inquest – A chance missed

This is a guest post by Andrea Casalotti, who attended the inquest on the death of cyclist Deep Lee, who was killed by a lorry at King’s Cross in Oktober 2011.  For a full report of the Inquest, read Paul Foot’s article. These are Andrea’s personal points on some aspects of the Inquest.

The Coroner’s conclusion was “Death caused by road traffic collision”. She considered but decided not to issue a “Prevention of Future Death” (PFD) Report.

The Coroner (who also heard the Inquests of Brian Dorling and Philippine de Gerin-Ricard) conducted the inquest fairly, asking the right type of questions and at one point castigating TfL for waiting for corpses before implementing change. She also concluded that if the Transport Authorities continue to plan roads that put cyclists and HGVs sharing the same space, tragedies like the death of Deep Lee are inevitable.

The Coroner said she is very keen to use PFDs whenever she sees road conditions being a potential cause of future deaths, but she explained that she was not going to issue one in this case because TfL had presented new plans for the junction, which are now under consultation.

Continue reading “Deep Lee Coroner’s Inquest – A chance missed”

London’s bad cycling infrastructure at work

London’s so-called Cycle Superhighways, once a flagship project of mayor Boris Johnson, have been criticized right from the beginning in 2010. Most of the flak  is focussing  on the particularly dreadful Cycle Superhighway 2, where five cyclists died within two years.

But Cycle Superhighway 3, which runs from Barking to Tower Gateway, has flawed bits as well. Yesterday, I gained some first hand experience on how  bad design puts cyclists at risk and annoys motorists who don’t understand the odd layout of the cycle lane.

The flawed spot is on Horseferry Road in Tower Hamlets, which is a one way street. It has a contra-flow cycle lane for eastbound cyclists riding towards the City. The snag is that that cycle lane runs on the right hand side of the road, rather than the left one. The lane is not physically separated from the street and entails a blind turn.

Car drivers who don’t know the layout assume that riders not only go in the wrong way of a one-way street but also think those bloody lycra louts are doing this on the wrong side of the road. A real life example of such a situation can be watched in the video. Unnecessary and potentially dangerous conflicts are imbued in that layout.

A second, related problem is that the cycle lane is too narrow so you can’t safely overtake a slower cyclist, as you can see in seconds 6 to 9 of the video.

This has been an issue for years, as this 2011 comment on Londonist’s website shows:

 “I live in a flat overlooking the CS3 that flows past the T-junction at Branch Road & Horseferry Road in Limehouse. At least once per day, a cyclist runs into a car turning right off of Branch Road onto Horseferry Road one way system (the cycle route runs opposite in the opposite direction to the one-way system).


I guess the reason for this odd layout is that there are parking spaces on the left hand side of the road; and I fully understand that it is of course utterly unacceptable to sacrifice parking space for the safety of cyclists.

Cycling in London – Assorted Links 14/02/2012

The campaign “Cities fit for Cycling”, launched by “The Times” a fortnight ago, and the “Love London, Go Dutch” campaign by LCC are the big topics in the cycling blogosphere:

Inverted snobbery, “dangerising”, and change at the CTC – Vole O’Speed supports the “Times” campaign.

The Times’ Eight Point Manifesto – David Hembrow (“A view from the cycle path”) is rather critical.

Cycle safety campaigns: do they do more harm than good? – Andrew Gilligan (Daily Telegraph) is critical as well, albeit for different reasons.

Drivers who kill ‘should face prospect of life in prison’ says police expert – The Times

Better driving will make roads safer for cyclists, say motorists – The Times

Traffic flow in a new Parliament Square  and Going Dutch in Parliament Square– Pedestianise London

 Death of Henry Warwick

Memorial ride for cyclist killed in accident – Photos from the ride remembering Henry Warwick, the cycling courier who was killed in the City.

Moving Target  documents the speech a fellow courier gave in memorial of Henry.

Family’s anger over courier’s death – The Evening Standard

Other cycling links

Monday 20 February announcement (and more!) – Bikes Alive plan the next protest ride at King’s Cross on 20 February

From early adopters to everyday and ordinary… – Mark Ames discusses how cycling becomes normal in Hackney.

My Labour MP tells me it’s my responsibility to keep away from danger when I’m on my bike. How am I supposed to do that when the Mayor is re-designing London roads to make it even harder to stay safe? – Cyclists in the City

Cycling in London – Assorted Links 09/02/2012

Cycling safety: Riding the ‘Tour de Chance’ – and living to tell the tale – The Independent

Cyclists may get headstart on cars at busy junctions – The Guardian

The government is watching cyclists die – Cycalogic Blog

Cyclists are law-breakers – Stratagem XXXVIII blog

Lost on the road – The Times

Telegraph journalist rightly criticises Mayor’s cycle super highways but slightly misses the point when he declares cycle safety campaign is about ‘dissing’ Boris Johnson. It’s not. It’s about making the Mayor accountable for safe cycling. – Cyclists in the City

Cycling campaign relaunched on anniversary – Kensington and Chelsea Chronicle

Cyclists: sign up for training, London Councils urges – Press release

Cycling in London – Assorted Links 03/02/2012

Gosh, the number of articles about cycling in London and road safety in particular is booming at the moment. See yourself:

Champions call for safer cycling on roads  – The Times

Mother who turned her tragedy into a fight for safer lorries – The Times

From the driver’s cab, cyclists are all but invisible – The Times

The politics of cycling safety – Dave Hill’s London (The Guardian)

Safety comes first if we want a cycling revolution – Jenny Jones on “Comment is Free” (The Guardian)

New City of London road layout proves Transport for London has got cycle safety completely wrong at junctions – Cyclists in the City

London’s cycle infrastructure, and reallocation of road space – As Easy as Riding a bike

Monday 6 February action at King’s Cross : reminder – and news – Bikes Alive

Dan Cox – Marking the Death of Another London Cyclist – Huffington Post

Road accident statistics: how safe are our roads? – Data Blog (The Guardian)

The best way to reduce the number of cyclist deaths is to get more people cycling   – The Daily Telegraph

‘Next London Mayor must do more for cyclists,’ says father of designer hit by bus – Camden New Journal

Driver charged with manslaughter after open car door leads to death of cyclist – Road.cc

Family of cyclist Eilidh Cairns to relaunch safety campaign – Journal Live

And last but not least, here’s my latest article about “The Times” and its cycling campaign:

Is this our “Stop de Kindermord” moment?