Simon O'Hagan: Cyclotherapy
Thursday 01 May 2008
Forgive the metropolitanism, but as Londoners vote in today's mayoral election, and the candidates vie for the cyclist's vote, here (in no particular order) are 10 great things about bike-riding in the capital:
1. The traffic
It seems to be the done thing to complain – or worry – about London traffic. But the challenge of negotiating it is one of the things that makes cycling in the capital fun. And if you're sensible it can be done perfectly safely.
2. The cycle path in Hyde Park
The one section of my daily commute where I part company with the road. The climb up through the trees towards Marble Arch on a summer's evening, or in winter darkness, is magic.
3. The possibility of spotting Boris on his bike
I won't be voting for him today, but the combination of hair, suit and bike makes the Tory mayoral candidate one of the great London landmarks.
4. Those rare occasions when cars DON'T enter the cyclist-only boxes at traffic lights
5. The Embankment and Pall Mall:
Fast, scenic stretches where you can relax and really bowl along
6. Cycle lanes that work:
For me, that's Cable Street – a mile-long east-west stretch that connects the City with the Isle of Dogs.
7. Other cyclists
Never was the concept of strength in numbers more clearly illustrated. The more of us there are, the safer we are .
8. The Tour de France.
That was a brilliant weekend last summer. Can we have it back again please?
9. The Smithfield Nocturne
The alternative to the Tour de France visit took place for the first time last year and comprises a thrilling night of top-class racing in and around Smithfield Market. This year it's on 7 June.
From the hard-core messenger on a track bike with no brakes to the be-suited City executive on her Brompton fold-up, the sheer variety of London cyclists is a wonder to behold.
Win Mavic race wheels
Fancy a pair of race wheels worth £799? Enter our competition, and they could be yours. The wheels come courtesy of manufacturer Mavic, who are providing technical support for the Independent-sponsored Etape Caledonia. The only UK sportive to enjoy the privilege of roads closed to motorised traffic, the Etape Caledonia takes place in Perthshire on 18 May. It's not too late to enter the spectacular 81-mile ride – see http://www.etapecaledonia.co.uk.
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a) Rubber Soul; b) Rubber Spirit; c) Rubber Heart.
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