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Could you put a roof over a comedian’s head?

A cluster of comedians will descend on Guildford this July as part of a 100-mile charity hike, and they are looking for kindly souls to put them up for free.

The comics taking part in Mic, Bike ‘n’ Hike will set off from the BT Tower in central London on July 20 and journey for four days – some on foot, some on bicycle – to the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.


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Each night after their hiking and biking, the acts will put on a comedy show to raise as much money as possible for Macmillan Cancer Support.

As such, they are looking for a hotel, BB or something similar to offer them digs for the night on Monday July 21, free of charge.

The group will be performing at The Stoke pub in Stoke Road, having taken to the stage at the Turk’s Head in Twickenham the previous evening.

The team will then go on to perform at Petersfield Rugby Club on Tuesday July 22 before the finale at the Spinnaker Tower on Wednesday July 23.

The group includes television favourites Katherine Ryan, Jarred Christmas and Carl Donnelly.

Comedian James Alderson, who is organising the fundraiser as well as taking part, lost his brother to cancer 10 years ago.

“I just thought this would be a really decent thing for us to do,” he said.

“All the acts I approached were more than happy to sign up and give up their time.

“But they’re going to be knackered after all the exercise each day, so we really are desperate to find somewhere everyone can get a really good night’s sleep.

“Us comics, we’re not the most athletic of people, even the fit looking young ones.

“We promise to keep the place very clean and tidy.”

Mr Alderson said that in exchange for a free night’s accommodation for the comics, the generous donor would be promoted as the official sponsor of the charity effort for that day.

Hotels, guest houses or BBs willing to put the group up are asked to email james@jamesalderson.net

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Londoner who was knocked off bike designs ‘wearable’ light so motorists spot …

Ed Ward, 27, was cut and bruised after being hit from behind by a left-turning car in Battersea Park Road.

He secured £12,000 of orders in a week for his Commuter X4 light after it was praised at an inventors’ show.



Designer: Ed Ward


Mr Ward, of Fulham, said: “I recall lying on my back at a junction as cars sped past. The experience really shook me.

“You don’t necessarily have to have broken bones to realise how dangerous cycling is.

“The idea came just before my accident but later I felt I may as well do it. I wanted to make a light to wear on your back or backpack, as cyclists are increasingly nervous about what is coming up behind them.”

He used the Kickstarter website to acquire advance orders to cover the £16,000 manufacturing costs. His first lights are due in September and can be bought for an “early bird” special price of £32.

The business graduate now works full-time on the device at his firm Veglo.

This month Wired magazine awarded it second place in the British Inventors’ Project at the Gadget Show Live in Birmingham.

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Win a box set of Rapha cycling guides to European cities

Rapha’s new City Cycling Europe box set includes guides to eight cities: London, Milan, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Antwerp Ghent, Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen. We have five sets to give away. For a chance to win one, email your details to cyclecomp@theguardian.com.

The guides are written by Andrew Edwards and Max Leonard, published by Thames Hudson (thamesandudson.com, RRP £25) and Rapha Racing Ltd.

Terms and conditions

1. The Travel Cycling prize draw (the “Prize Draw”) is open to residents of the UK aged 18 and over.

2. The Prize Draw is not open to employees or agencies of Guardian News Media Limited (“GNM” or the “Promoter”), their group companies or family members, freelance contributors to GNM, or anyone else connected to the Prize Draw.

3. Entrants into the Prize Draw shall be deemed to have accepted these Terms and Conditions.

4. To enter the Prize Draw you must send your name, address and telephone number in a email to cyclecomp@theguardian.com. No purchase is necessary. If you have any questions about how to enter or otherwise in connection with the Prize Draw, please email us at cyclecomp@theguardian.com with “QUERY” in the subject line.

5. Only one entry per person. Entries on behalf of another person will not be accepted and joint submissions are not allowed. You are responsible for the cost (if any) of sending your Prize Draw entry to us. The winners shall be the owners of the email address from which the selected winning entries are sent.

6. GNM accepts no responsibility for entries that are lost, delayed, misdirected or incomplete or cannot be delivered or entered for any technical or other reason. Proof of delivery of the entry is not proof of receipt by GNM.

7. The Prize Draw opens at 21:00 on Friday 18th April 2014 and closes at 23:59 on Thursday 1st May 2014. Entries received outside this time period will not be considered.

8. The winners will receive one City Cycling Europe boxset by Andrew Edwards and Max Leonard. Only one winner per household. GNM accepts no responsibility for any costs associated with the prize that are not expressly included in the prize.

9. The winners will be selected by way of a random draw from all entries received in accordance with these Terms and Conditions. The draw will take place on or after Friday 2rd May 2014.

10. The winners will be notified by email on or after Friday 2nd May 2014 and given details of how to claim their prize. If a winner does not respond to GNM within 14 days of being notified of their win, the winner’s prize will be forfeited and GNM shall be entitled to select another winner in accordance with the process described above (and that winner will have to respond to notification of their win within 14 days or else they will also forfeit their prize). If a winner rejects their prize or the entry is invalid or in breach of these terms, the winner’s prize will be forfeited and GNM shall be entitled to select another winner.

11. The prize will be sent to the winners by Monday 2nd June 2014.

12. The name and county of the winners can be obtained after Friday 9th May 2014 by sending a stamped addressed envelope to the following address: Jessica Edwards, Travel section, Guardian News Media Limited, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU.

13. The prize is non-exchangeable, non-transferable and not redeemable for cash or any other prize.

14. GNM reserves the right to substitute the prize with an alternative prize of similar value in the event that the original prize offered is not available.

15. The winners may be required to take part in promotional activity related to the Prize Draw and the winners shall participate in such activity on the Promoter’s reasonable request. The winners consents to the use by the Promoter and its related companies, both before and after the closing date of the Prize Draw for an unlimited time, of the winner’s voice, image, photograph and name for publicity purposes (in any medium, including still photographs and films, and on the internet, including any websites hosted by the Promoter and its related companies) and in advertising, marketing or promotional material without additional compensation or prior notice and, in entering the Prize Draw, all entrants consent to the same.

16. The Promoter shall use and take care of any personal information you supply to it as described in its privacy policy, a copy of which can be seen at http://www.theguardian.com/help/privacy-policy, and in accordance with data protection legislation. By entering the Prize Draw, you agree to the collection, retention, usage and distribution of your personal information in order to process and contact you about your Prize Draw entry, and for the purposes outlined in paragraph 12 above.

17. GNM accepts no responsibility for any damage, loss, liabilities, injury or disappointment incurred or suffered by you as a result of entering the Prize Draw or accepting the prize. GNM further disclaims liability for any injury or damage to your or any other person’s computer relating to or resulting from participation in or downloading any materials in connection with the Prize Draw. Nothing in these Terms and Conditions shall exclude the liability of GNM under law for fraud or fraudulent misrepresentation, or for death or personal injury resulting from its negligence

18. GNM reserves the right at any time and from time to time to modify or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, this Prize Draw with or without prior notice due to reasons outside its reasonable control (including, without limitation, in the case of anticipated, suspected or actual fraud). The decision of GNM in all matters relating to the Prize Draw is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

19. GNM shall not be liable for any failure to comply with its obligations relating to this Prize Draw where the failure is caused by something outside its reasonable control. Such circumstances shall include, but not be limited to, weather conditions, fire, flood, hurricane, strike, industrial dispute, war, hostilities, political unrest, riots, civil commotion, inevitable accidents, supervening legislation or any other circumstances amounting to force majeure.

20. The Prize Draw and these Terms and Conditions will be governed by English law and entrants to the Prize Draw submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

21. Promoter: Guardian News Media Limited, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9GU.

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London’s Olympic velodrome set to welcome cycling public


Link to video: Lee Valley VeloPark: a first look

It is the fastest velodrome in the world, according to Jez Cox, the man running the former London 2012 cycling track. Now the swooping, wood-clad bowl where Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Sarah Storey and the rest whizzed to their medals will be open to those pedalling at distinctly more sedate speeds.

The precipitously banked 250m track is finally available for public use from Monday, getting on for two years since the start of the Games. The Olympic BMX track is also opening‚ with some of the steeper jumps whittled down‚ and there are new mountain bike routes and an enclosed road cycling circuit.

The sense of legacy does, however, come with a caveat. Bookings at what is now officially called the Lee Valley VeloPark are being snapped up almost as soon as they are released, but cycling campaigners say the rush to two wheels remains a largely sporting phenomenon, with limited progress on the wider post‑Olympics promise of more everyday activity.

A particularly jarring symbol of the divide is the distinctly mixed state of the cycle routes leading to the Olympic Park, with one ending in a distinctly bike-unfriendly flight of steps.

Even British Cycling, the sporting body that masterminded the nation’s unprecedented haul of 16 cycling golds from the Olympics and Paralympics, says more should be done to encourage mass cycling.

“Without doubt the Olympic and Paralympic Games had a phenomenal impact on the number of people cycling, not just for sport but for cycling to work or just for fun,” said Chris Boardman, a velodrome gold medallist at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, who is now British Cycling’s policy adviser. “However, there is only so much further that number can rise without some serious improvements to accommodate cycling on our roads. We know that almost two in three people would like to take up cycling, but perceived safety fears are stopping them.”

These wider worries notwithstanding, the advent of the VeloPark is another big moment for the former Olympic site, after the opening of the Aquatics Centre last month. Much of the rest of the site remains fenced off for building work.

The cycle centre is a significant venture, with more than 300 shiny new hire bikes and a roster of coaches to impart skills such as mastering the fixed-gear bikes used in velodromes and negotiating the tightly packed rises and dips of the BMX circuit.

With some sessions fully booked until the end of 2014, the main challenge for Cox and his team is to ensure such a complex operation works smoothly from day one.

“There will be some things that are still unfolding when we open, but that’s normal. We don’t want to open with too rigid a way of working,” he said.

One dry run came when the velodrome hosted part of the Sport Relief telethon, Cox noted during a tour of the centre. “Freddie Flintoff crashed over there,” he said, pointing to a bend on the wood-panelled loop. “In fact we just yesterday finished filling in the hole he made in the track with his pedal.”

The cycling complex is built over a somewhat more shabby but much-loved facility, the Eastway circuit, which hosted road and mountain bike races for more than 30 years until it was levelled to make way for London 2012.


Peter Walker tests out the new public cycling facilities at the Olympic velodrome in east London
Peter Walker tests out the new public cycling facilities at the Olympic velodrome in east London. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Cox was among thousands of young riders introduced to the sport at Eastway, and he recalls his sadness when it closed in 2006: “I was racing in France and came back to do the last meeting. I finished the race, kissed the track and cried. A lot of people did. It was somewhere they grew up, and was really special. If there’s one thing I can do with this place it’s give other people the same feeling.”

The wider issue of mass cycling is some way beyond the remit of Cox and his colleagues, but there remains the risk of the VeloPark becoming a symbol of wider British attitudes to bicycles – fine when they involve Lycra and gold medals, but not something for everyday use.

The “embarrassing” cycling infrastructure surrounding the east London complex bears witness to this, according to the London Cycling Campaign (LCC).

“Before the Olympics, politicians were queuing up to explain the tremendous legacy we should expect from the event in encouraging Londoners to be more active, in particular how it would increase cycling and walking,” said Mike Cavenett of the LCC. “But looking now, there have been very few concrete improvements to the way our city streets make cycling safe and inviting for ordinary people. The embarrassing state of the cycling facilities inside the Olympic Park typifies how low a priority cycling often is with urban planners.”

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Cyclist killed in spate of London road deaths was twice the drink-drive limit

Shop assistant Khalid al-Hashimi, who was born in Iraq, was cycling home to St John’s Wood after visiting friends in Whitechapel when the crash occurred at about 11.30pm on November 13.

Poplar coroner’s court was told he was found during a post-mortem to have 154 milligrams of ethanol per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal maximum is 80 milligrams.

CCTV footage from the 205 double decker bus showed how he suddenly appeared 10m in front of the vehicle, giving driver David Brennan no chance of avoiding a collision, despite braking in one second.

He suffered “unsurvivable brain injury” and he died the following morning at the Royal London hospital, two days after his birthday.

Mr Brennan left the court prior to the video being played. Mr al-Hashimi’s mother broke down and sobbed. She did not give evidence but previously told the Standard that her son had been out celebrating his birthday.

Coroner Mary Hassell said Mr al-Hashimi was not wearing a helmet and asked if it would have made any difference. Pathologist Dr Chin Along said: “I don’t think so. Bicycle helmets, the way they are designed, are not for velocity injuries.”

Collision investigator PC Andrew Smith said Mr al-Hashimi had ridden on the pavement the wrong way up Leman Street – a one-way street – and attempted to ride across Whitechapel High Street.

PC Smith said Mr al-Hashimi may have been confused by a wrongly-angled red light in the centre of Whitechapel High Street used by traffic turning right into Commercial Street.

Ms Hassell recorded that Mr al-Hashimi died as a result of road traffic collision. She said: “It may be that Mr al-Hashimi saw the cars stationary and saw the red light and thought the cars were being held at the red light, and thought it was safe to cross.

“But nevertheless this wasn’t a pedestrian crossing and he [the bus driver] didn’t stop, and that is why the collision occurred, I’m very sorry to say.”

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Steer clear of flu with vigorous exercise

Based on the results, the researchers determined that 100 out of every 1,000 cases of the flu could have been prevented through two and a half hours of vigorous exercise per week.

vaccineWhether it’s running, mountain biking or competitive sports, the benefits of exercise go far beyond promoting heart health. According to a recent British study, vigorous exercise could even help you to avoid catching the flu next winter.

Intense physical activity appears to stimulate the immune system, according to a study carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and presented at National Science and Engineering Week, which took place in the UK last month.

The researchers’ findings were based on the results of the Flu Survey, an online project that collects data on the seasonal illness from volunteers. Around 4,800 people took part in the survey this year, answering questions on their exercise habits among other lifestyle factors.

Based on the results, the researchers determined that 100 out of every 1,000 cases of the flu could have been prevented through two and a half hours of vigorous exercise per week. The authors of the study specify, however, that moderate exercise did not have the same effect.

“We need to treat this result cautiously as these are preliminary findings, however they are consistent with findings for other conditions and really show the health benefits of exercise,” said Dr. Alma Adler, a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene Tropical Medicine.

The results of the Flu Survey echo those in a previous study published in the Journal of Cardiology, which showed that intensive exercise provided a boost to the immune system.

- AFP Relaxnews

 

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Local politicians must make space for cyclists on London’s roads

What journeys do you regularly make? Perhaps a daily commute to work. Maybe the school run. You might routinely take a dip at the local pool or nip down to the corner shop.

How many of these are local trips that could readily be made by bike? My guess is a lot of them are – 50% of journeys in London are under three miles.

But how many of you would feel safe and happy enough to make them by bike? If you are one of those millions of people who would like to cycle (or cycle more) but won’t because of the dangers, then the very idea of making these local trips by bike is forbidding. Even if you do cycle regularly, the chances are that you are still unhappy at how hazardous it is out there.

If so, then our Space for Cycling campaign is for you. In fact, it’s for everyone, because creating safe and inviting space for cycling in our neighbourhoods will lower road danger for pedestrians too, reduce air pollution, improve people’s health, increase footfall in local high streets and generally raise quality of life.

This won’t occur overnight of course. But it is entirely possible to create conditions in which people of all ages and abilities can cycle safely and enjoyably for their local, everyday journeys. And it’s our local politicians who have the power to do it.

That’s why the campaign, born out of the terrible spate of cyclist deaths in London last year, is now contacting candidates in the 22 May local elections in cities across England including Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Sheffield, Bristol and Newcastle. In London, all borough council seats are up for grabs and we aim to reach out to every single one of the 6,000 plus candidates.

Our volunteer teams in each of London’s 32 boroughs (the City has no elections this year) have identified a single, site-specific, high priority measure that we will ask the candidates in each ward to support – that’s 624 individual measures in total. These range from installing protected cycle lanes to filtering out through traffic from residential areas; from creating safe routes to local schools to opening up green spaces to considerate cycling.

Hang on, you might think: why this sudden focus on the boroughs – isn’t it the mayor, Boris Johnson, who’s got the levers of power?

It’s true that creating high-quality long-distance cycle superhighways or ripping out and replacing London’s dangerous monster junctions lies principally within the mayor’s ambit; but the mayor and TfL actually control only 5% of London’s roads (albeit with a much higher share of the total motor traffic). To his credit, the mayor promised to meet in full the demands of our 2012 Love London, Go Dutch campaign. We now need London’s boroughs to also step up and help unlock the massive potential there exists for cycling – most of which will be realised in short, local journeys on their patch.

People often tell me that we can’t match the best of Europe, because London is much bigger than cities such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen. But London is famously a collection of villages – every single town centre can be its own Amsterdam. And just as splashes of ink on blotting paper spread and connect, so too will we grow space for cycling everywhere in London by seeding it in every ward in every borough. Indeed, we can do the same in all our great cities.

If the enthusiasm that has so far greeted Space for Cycling is anything to go by, it’s a popular call to action whose moment has come. For the first time a cycling campaign is being supported by a major retailer, Evans Cycles and a trade body, the Bicycle Association.

It will help address so many issues, from childhood obesity to local economic revitalisation. It’s a clear, simple idea and one of the best things that local councils can do for their citizens. Please give it your support.

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Steer clear of flu with vigorous exercise: British research

1297250681283_ORIGINAL

Whether it’s running, mountain biking or competitive sports, the benefits of exercise go far beyond promoting heart health. According to a recent British study, vigorous exercise could even help you to avoid catching the flu next winter.

Intense physical activity appears to stimulate the immune system, according to a study carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and presented at National Science and Engineering Week, which took place in the UK last month.

The researchers’ findings were based on the results of the Flu Survey, an online project that collects data on the seasonal illness from volunteers. Around 4,800 people took part in the survey this year, answering questions on their exercise habits among other lifestyle factors.

Based on the results, the researchers determined that 100 out of every 1,000 cases of the flu could have been prevented through two and a half hours of vigorous exercise per week. The authors of the study specify, however, that moderate exercise did not have the same effect.

“We need to treat this result cautiously as these are preliminary findings, however they are consistent with findings for other conditions and really show the health benefits of exercise,” said Dr. Alma Adler, a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene Tropical Medicine.

The results of the Flu Survey echo those in a previous study published in the Journal of Cardiology, which showed that intensive exercise provided a boost to the immune system.

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Steer clear of flu with vigorous exercise

Whether it’s running, mountain biking or competitive sports, the benefits of exercise go far beyond promoting heart health. According to a recent British study, vigorous exercise could even help you to avoid catching the flu next winter.

Intense physical activity appears to stimulate the immune system, according to a study carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and presented at National Science and Engineering Week, which took place in the UK last month.

The researchers’ findings were based on the results of the Flu Survey, an online project that collects data on the seasonal illness from volunteers. Around 4,800 people took part in the survey this year, answering questions on their exercise habits among other lifestyle factors.

Based on the results, the researchers determined that 100 out of every 1,000 cases of the flu could have been prevented through two and a half hours of vigorous exercise per week. The authors of the study specify, however, that moderate exercise did not have the same effect.

“We need to treat this result cautiously as these are preliminary findings, however they are consistent with findings for other conditions and really show the health benefits of exercise,” said Dr. Alma Adler, a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene Tropical Medicine.

The results of the Flu Survey echo those in a previous study published in the Journal of Cardiology, which showed that intensive exercise provided a boost to the immune system.

-Relaxnews

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Land’s End to John O’Groats challenge for inspirational Shrewsbury Paralympian

On routine foot patrol in Helmand Province back in 2009, the 32-year-old suffered serious multiple injuries and lost both of his legs above the knee after stepping on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

It would have been the end of an active life for some – but not this father-of-one.

“Having no legs is a driving factor behind everything I do,” he said. “It’s not an excuse to do nothing – it’s a reason to do more.”

After undergoing extensive rehabilitation Nick, from Shrewsbury, began training full-time as a trunk and arms rower for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He narrowly missed out on a medal, coming fourth. But now he has a new challenge – an extreme three-week hike across land and water from John O’Groats to Lands End.

Nick is part of a team of four taking on the iconic journey on May 18. The team also includes RAF helicopter crewman Ian O’Grady, 37, who is originally from Oswestry but now lives in Oxfordshire.

This is a challenge with a twist. Instead of following the conventional Land’s End to John O’Groats route, Nick’s team, Beeline Britain, will attempt it in a straight line for the first time. To do this will involve100 hours in a kayak, 34 hours on a bike and more than 12 hours on foot.

Nick, who recently retired as a captain in the Royal Engineers, will travel across 1,100km of some of the UK’s most difficult terrain in a specially-adapted bike and boat.

He has been juggling the demands of training with being a new dad to three-month-old Jonah and is taking on the challenge to raise money for BLESMA, the charity that looks after limbless servicemen and women.

Taking in some of the most extreme coastal, mountain and urban environments in the UK, Nick will track St David’s Head, Holyhead, Isle of Man, Burrow Head, central Glasgow, Cairngorm Summit, Lossiemouth and Wick.

The first stretch, from Land’s End to Pembrokeshire, is expected to be the most difficult, involving 36 hours straight in two double kayaks.

“In the kayak, usually the paddler would use their legs to brace with and balance the boat,” said Nick. “For me, that isn’t an option, so I’ve created a false bulkhead, built up to support my stumps underneath. This keeps my stumps in the correct position and allows me to get some pressure on the ends to help stabilise the kayak.”

The kayaking is the trickiest activity – it requires far more balance than the biking and hiking, Nick said.

“I have to trust the boat and just stay relaxed. The second I get tense, things start to go wrong.”

For the cycling part, Nick will be using a 12kg Top End Force RX handbike that has been made-to-measure for the Paralympian, allowing him to reach a top speed of up to 80kmph and to cover around 120km a day.

“Physically, the hand-bike is okay, but put eight days of intensive paddling before it and I think the relentlessness of it will really start to tell,” said Nick.

“This will be especially challenging on any uphill sections, when the smaller muscle groups in my arms and shoulders will be at a vast disadvantage to the rest of the team who will be using leg power.”

On the mountaineering section of the journey, Nick will use a custom set of walking “stubbies” – prosthetic carbon fibre legs molded to his stumps.

“The crutches I use are a modified set of mono-ski outriggers which I bought from a company in America and tweaked in my garage,” he said. “They have a welded join on the handle that is vital as there is a lot of load going through it.

“And that’s it, apart from a massive set of shoulders and a refusal to give up.”

The challenge is being supported by The Endeavour Fund (created by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.) To donate, text Line59 and £3, to 70070. Follow the journey at www.beelinebritain.com

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