Category Archive:Cycling

Strangely No Fear, Perfect Balance

Strangely post on April 25th, 2009
Posted in Cycling Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I didn’t think it was possible to cycle along the top of iron railings.  Now I know it’s possible.  I love the perseverance he shows.

If he doesn’t do any major damage to himself I see a long career in advertising and films, don’t you?

@AmazonThe music is singularily inappropriate. The link comes from someone at the CTC who’s spotted it.  This guide to family cycling is singularily inappropriate as well!  Ho Hum.

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Cavendish Wins Milan-San Remo; but how’d you know?


Mark Cavendish wins by 11cm over 185km!

Mark Cavendish wins by 11cm over 185km!

Gazzetta della sport run the race and have a Mario Cippollini interview here.  Websites and news agencies across the globe are full of Cavendish’s win but in Britain it’s a 15 second radio item and well-buried articles on the BBC etc.  Most UK news even forgets to mention that he’s only the second Briton to win the race – the other being the tragically great Tommy Simpson.

The Milan-San Remo spring classic even has it’s centennial edition this year but that obviously isn’t good enough for the UK!  It’s 185km of up and down, finishing with a sprint.  Mere mortals would die from the effort!  Good profiles and maps are here.  Even the finish is dodgy – after descending perilous hairpins the sprint is in a town with more bends and obstacles.

But the UK general public are oblivious.  Cavendish has won more TDF stages than any other Briton – in short, apart from a few speed time-trialling type records, he’s the most successful British cyclist ever and he’s only just started!

But how’d you know?

Chris Hoy and the other Olympians had their moments of fame and he even won Sport Personality 2008.  What are they doing now?

How’d you know?

This Year’s Tour de France

Lance Armstrong has said he’s going to give it another go.  Cavendish is flying.   Mont Ventoux where Simpson (Holly’s uncle) died in that race, is scheduled to be climbed for the first time since 2002 …

The omens are there – it stands to be a cracking race.  But will we be able to see it in the UK in normal time if you don’t get Eurosport?  I doubt it.

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London and Victoria Insurance and Bad Statistics

CTC & Guardian

[amazon-product align=”left” alink=”0000FF” bordercolor=”FFFFFF” height=”240″ region=”uk”]000728487X[/amazon-product]I’m indebted to this week’s CTC newsletter for pointing out an article by Ben Goldacre in the Guardian last Saturday (a week ago).   I’ve used one of Mr Goldacre’s articles before in some presentations I’ve done at work when pointing out the poor and devious ways that good statistics can be presented and the poor data collection and usages that follow.

LV (formerly London & Victoria amongst other  in/ass-urance names), did a survey, badly, and then got a plug on TV to talk about it.

They said it’s got really bad being a cyclist because the accident statistics have gone up.

Now read this link (Perils on the road to PR-reviewed data) and see Mr Goldacre pull the rubbish apart.

Of course, the trouble is that the damage is done.  Comparing the demographics and sheer numerical difference between Saturday Guardian readers and GMTV viewers (lots of children there..) makes the impact of the crap so much worse.  Even the words of the world’s oldest and largest cycling organisation were no avail.

British Judge & Bike Hat Stats

In another nutty bit of legal weaselling,  a case where a cyclist and motorcyclist collided (Smith v Finch 2009), the judge, Mr Justice Griffith Williams, ruled that the cyclist could have been found partly liable if wearing a helmet would have prevented or reduced his or her injuries

On the face of it, this appears sound.  However, the statistics from long-term data collection disprove the efficacy of cycle helmets except for very young children who have large heads relative to their thin, weak necks.

There are a host of reasons why.

But as an example of how statistics could be used in future.

Suppose I crashed in my car and damaged my head.  Using statistics, it can be proven that if I was wearing a helmet in my car, that would have reduced my risk of brain damage and the very same logic of the judge could be applied to me.

It sounds daft, but if everyone in the UK was forced to wear helmets when driving, at least 300 deaths a year would be saved.

But wait!  Many deaths “on the roads” aren’t in cars – they’re pedestrians!!! So really, when you leave the house to pop to the shop, you should wear a crash helmet because another 500 people a year will be saved!  When a car hits a person, the pedestrian’s head nearly always hits the top edge of the windscreen.  Ouch.

Now that’s the power of stupidly using statistics.

And using the judge’s logic, everyone killed walking down the street or mown down at a bus-stop by a car – it’s your fault!!!  (Only 0.7% of hospital admissions for head injury are cyclists involved in road traffic accidents)

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Paris Cycles Meet the BBC’s Forces of Negativity

Paris Cycles Freely with Loaded Questions and Answers

In Buddhism, there’s a concept called the forces of negativity which is inherent to the whole universe – but especially when applied to living sentient beings like ourselves.

VelibThese negative forces are extremely apparent when the Velib Cycle Scheme in Paris is considered.  We have:

  • The initial doubts about cycling in general
  • Doubts about the success of the scheme
  • Doubts about the cost
  • Negative reporting about the current state of the scheme  – Thefts puncture Paris bike scheme

It’s this last one, the BBC report that I’ll examine.

These are the bald statistics gloomily reported in the BBC article:

20,000 bicycles
1,250 stations
Cost 400 euros each to replace
7,800 “disappeared”
11,600 vandalised
1,500 daily repairs
Staff recover 20 abandoned bikes a day
Each bike travels 10,000 km a year
42 million users since launch
Source: Velib

The point is that we now have a climate of gloom where all reporters are seemingly in competition to see who can make the worst-sounding news!

We see it in the herd behaviour of stock marketteers and the current financial and industrial crisis.

The whole tenor of the article is that:

  • the scheme is crap,
  • Parisians aren’t to be trusted (because other cities like Lyons have similar schemes or are going to, like London),
  • and the whole thing is a waste of money.

My take on it is:

Let’s look at the benefits!

  • I see 8k bikes lost which have done 15k km since inception and cost 400 Euros (3.2m Euros, which in the current banking props is less than peanuts)
  • This is a distance cost of 37.5km per Euro – which compares favourably with an average car’s fuel consumption!
  • But no fuel is used!!!
  • In fact, this cost is about the same as the annual cost for a set of tyres for a 4×4 (I only compared fuel costs above, not total running costs)
  • I see a cost of 2100 journeys per bike – many of which would have been otherwise done in cars, taxis etc.
  • In fact I see huge savings in CO2 emissions all round, and that, in reality, is the prime thing anyone can do to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and possibly slow the exponential growth in the temperature of our world.

Other Info:

For a positive view of the Velib scheme from someone who’s actually used it, see The Impending Failure of San Francisco’s Pilot Bike Share Program.  Matthew Roth however, seems disenchanted with the prospects for a similar scheme in San Francisco.  Like I said, it’s the reporting that’s gloomy and suspect.  Read the BBC article and see how positive a slant is given to the impending San Francisco scheme, negative to the Parisian scheme, and compare to Matthew’s on-the-spot take….

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So Far Ahead – Beryl Burton

Strangely post on January 16th, 2009
Posted in Cycling Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beryl Burton at Speed

Beryl Burton at Speed

Following GB cycling’s successes at the recent 2008 olympics and world championships, I was reminded about the accomplishments of Beryl Burton who died early over 10 years ago.
It seems that in any sphere of human endeavour there is always one person who is head and shoulders better than anyone else.  We had the domination in tennis, say, of Navratilova, Sampras, Federer;  in motorsport of Fangio, Senna, Schumacher.

This year and for the past few, GB has had Chris Hoy, who has changed sport several times, and become champion at all of them.

But for longevity, and as an amateur, Beryl Burton’s exploits bring tears to my eyes for sheer determination.  In the big tours, like the Tour de France, the time-trial is called “the race of truth”, because everyone can watch you, all the way.  There’s no hiding, no competitor.  You ride against the clock and against all the negativity produced by your body.

In this Beryl Burton excelled.  For two years, at one distance (the 12hr), she was faster than any man in the world.  Indeed, when she broke the record she passed a man (Mike McNamara) who was in the process of setting the Men’s record! As she passed him, she is reputed to have given him a Liquorice Allsort – which he ate!

Beryl Burton didn’t start to ride until late – 18.  But then for 25 years she won medals and set records in nearly every single year.  Maybe she burnt out? (She died of heart failure on a training ride aged 59).  Who knows – but what a legacy?

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