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World’s best cycling cities


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Given the city's long, freezing winters, Berlin is an impressive example of Germany's boost of bike use. About 13% of all trips in the city are made by bike, nearly twice the rate of 20 years ago.Given the city’s long, freezing winters, Berlin is an impressive example of Germany’s boost of bike use. About 13% of all trips in the city are made by bike, nearly twice the rate of 20 years ago.

More than half of locals in the Danish capital cycle to work or school. With an estimated bike population of 650,000, there are slightly more cycles than people.More than half of locals in the Danish capital cycle to work or school. With an estimated bike population of 650,000, there are slightly more cycles than people.

Montreal has almost 400 miles of bike paths, most used for leisure rides rather than commutes. Each May, the city hosts a href='http://www.veloquebec.info/en/govelo/Go-bike-Montreal-festival' target='_blank'Go Bike Montreal Festival/a, a week of activities dedicated to cyclists and urban living.Montreal has almost 400 miles of bike paths, most used for leisure rides rather than commutes. Each May, the city hosts Go Bike Montreal Festival, a week of activities dedicated to cyclists and urban living.

Portland's ambitious Bicycle Plan for 2030 calls for forming a denser bike network, reducing vehicle speed limits on designated streets and increasing bicycle parking spaces.Portland’s ambitious Bicycle Plan for 2030 calls for forming a denser bike network, reducing vehicle speed limits on designated streets and increasing bicycle parking spaces.

While Amsterdam is definitely bike friendly, it's also got hordes of tourists on rental bikes. Cycling in the Netherlands city of Utrecht is easier. Helmets are rarely used, not least because of protection offered by segregated cycle lanes. While Amsterdam is definitely bike friendly, it’s also got hordes of tourists on rental bikes. Cycling in the Netherlands city of Utrecht is easier. Helmets are rarely used, not least because of protection offered by segregated cycle lanes.

In six years, Seville's use of bikes shot from less than 1% to about 7%. The city's implementation of the rental-bike plan, Sevici, makes biking for locals and tourist simple.In six years, Seville’s use of bikes shot from less than 1% to about 7%. The city’s implementation of the rental-bike plan, Sevici, makes biking for locals and tourist simple.

Tokyo cyclists use practical mamachari bikes with sturdy frames, baskets for shopping and seats containing one or two small children. Up to 14% of all journeys in the city are made by bike.Tokyo cyclists use practical “mamachari” bikes with sturdy frames, baskets for shopping and seats containing one or two small children. Up to 14% of all journeys in the city are made by bike.

Only 5% of Bogota's journeys involve bikes, but the city makes our list in recognition of its efforts to change. Each Sunday, 70 miles of street close down to vehicles to give way to pedestrians and bikes. Only 5% of Bogota’s journeys involve bikes, but the city makes our list in recognition of its efforts to change. Each Sunday, 70 miles of street close down to vehicles to give way to pedestrians and bikes.


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(CNN) — If you’re taking a strict view on the world’s most bike-friendly cities, the eventual list would mainly take in a smallish patch of northwest Europe.

One such rating table, produced by the Denmark-based cycling advocacy group Copenhagnize, has more than half its top 20 bike-friendly places clustered around the Netherlands, France, Germany and Denmark.

Instead, we’ll spread our net more widely, rewarding aspiration, ambition and progress, as well as just endless ranks of smiling cyclists pedaling sensible bikes on segregated paths.

Utrecht, Netherlands

Lists such as this one traditionally begin with Amsterdam, but while the Netherlands’ most populous city is definitely bike friendly, we’re marking it down for the hordes of wobbling tourists on bright-red rental machines.

Instead we’re heading southeast to Utrecht, a city that has a fair claim to being the globe’s most pro-two-wheel destination.

In its center, up to 50% of all journeys take place in the saddle and local authorities are building a 12,500-space cycle parking facility billed as the world’s biggest.

As in all Dutch cities, visitors from places with a more belligerent traffic culture might be struck at how normal it all feels.

Cycling in Utrecht is treated on par with walking, with helmets and high-visibility garments rarely used, not least because of the protection offered by segregated cycle lanes.

One well known English cycle blogger, Mark Treasure, was struck by the range in ages on a visit to Utrecht.

“I find it hard to imagine children this young cycling into the center of any UK city at all, let alone cycling in and looking so happy and relaxed, and so ordinary,” he writes.

“Yet in Utrecht, families cycling around together is commonplace.”

MORE: The world’s most incredible bike routes

Seville, Spain

Seville is the answer to those who say promoting urban bike use is too ambitious and takes decades.

In 2006, the Andalusian capital’s government, vexed by the city’s four daily rush hours (yes, four! This is siesta-taking southern Spain) decided to take action.

There was plenty of naysaying.

Critics pointed out Spain has scant tradition of commuter cycling.

Some questioned who would ride in midsummer through Europe’s hottest regions and risk arriving at work as damp as if they’d just pedaled through a mechanical car wash.

Undaunted, the city established about 50 miles of cycle lanes within a year (there’s now about 80 miles) and commissioned a municipal bike rental plan called Sevici.

The result?

Within about six years, journeys made by bike shot from less than 0.5% to about 7%, and city transportation chiefs from around the world suddenly had the perfect excuse to arrange week-long fact-finding trips in the sun.

MORE: Cycling across the sea in stunning Hiroshima

It's like being part of a public bike gang.

Montreal

By long tradition one of the few North American cities in these sort of lists, Montreal began constructing bike paths in the 1980s and now has almost 400 miles of them.

The addition of its popular and pioneering Bixi municipal bike-share plan, the model for those later rolled out in Paris and London, has meant a remarkable amount of cycle use, especially for a place where daytime winter temperature above 10 C (50 F) is viewed as dangerously tropical.

Cycling stats for Montreal indicate the city still has work to do and cycle groups say too many riders are nudged onto busy roads.

One survey says nearly half the city’s adult population rides a bike at least once a week, yet little more than 2% of commutes are made on two wheels.

“The challenge is that we have asked people to start using their bicycles and they’ve done it so much faster than we’ve been able to change the city,” Aref Salem, the person in charge of mass transit on Montreal’s executive committee, told the Toronto Star recently.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Much like ignoring France on a roster of great cheese countries, a list of top cycling cities excluding Copenhagen just wouldn’t be right.

More than half the locals in the Danish capital cycle to work or school, and with an estimated bike population of 650,000 there are slightly more cycles than people.

Enough of these are available to rent to tourists, and Copenhagen’s compact dimensions and tolerant traffic make it perfect to explore by bike.

City leaders are intent not just on increasing bike use further, but exporting the Copenhagen doctrine of a segregated and safe bike infrastructure that features bike lanes of up to three meters (about 10 feet) in width.

There’s an official Cycling Embassy of Denmark to spread the word, while the founder of the aforementioned Copenhagenize group, Mikael Colville-Andersen, spends much of his working life telling other cities how to copy the Danish model.

MORE: Most bike-friendly cities in the United States

Berlin: where East Europe meets West, on a bike.

Berlin

Less shouted about than the Dutch or Danish examples, Germany has nonetheless been quietly getting on with boosting bike use in many of its cities.

Berlin is the standout example.

About 13% of all trips in the city are made by bike, nearly twice the rate of 20 years ago.

In some inner suburbs this hits 20%.

This is particularly impressive given the city’s long, freezing winters, abundant public transport and status as capital of a nation with a long tradition of manufacturing cars and driving them at absurd speeds on autobahns.

Aside from clever and consistent public policy designed to boost bike use, Berlin has a number of inbuilt advantages.

Streets are often hugely wide, in part a consequence of the devastation of World War II and grandiose postwar Soviet planning, and the terrain is largely flat.

While many Berliners live in apartments, often a difficulty for those using bikes, the city’s traditional Mietskaserne tenement blocks tend to be built around a central courtyard, giving space for secure storage.

What’s most impressive is the sheer scale — Berlin has a population of about 3.5 million people, far bigger than the relatively small likes of Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

Portland, Oregon

“The groundwork for the city’s bike infrastructure was laid over 20 years ago,” says Brian Zeck, bike manager of Portland’s River City Bicycles. “It has built upon itself over the years and bicycling has become somewhat ingrained in the culture of the city.

“In some ways, Portland now has the feel of a European city.”

That infrastructure includes more than 65 miles of bike paths, 30 miles of low-traffic bike boulevards and 175 miles of bike lanes, all of which are used with gusto by the 8% of citizens who claim that biking is their primary form of transportation, and 10% who say a bike is their secondary vehicle.

All of those numbers are climbing annually, thanks to the city’s grand Bicycle Plan for 2030, unanimously adopted by the City Council in 2010.

The plan calls for attracting new riders by forming a denser bike network, reducing vehicle speed limits on designated streets (thus increasing safety for riders) and increasing bicycle parking, among other measures.

The most exciting development for Portland bikers is the planned 2015 opening of the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People spanning the Willamette River, which divides the east and west sides of the city.

The first span built over the river since 1973, “the bridge will be distinctive in the United States, designed to carry light rail trains, buses, cyclists, pedestrians and streetcars, but not private vehicles,” according to TriMet, the local public agency that operates mass transit.

The bridge will feature two 14-foot-wide pedestrian and bike lanes.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, an estimated 2,100 races, rides and other biking events are held in Portland each year.

Tokyo

Wait, Tokyo?

The one with more than 13 million inhabitants covering 800-plus square miles.

That Tokyo?

Correct.

In this vast, crammed capital city, an amazing 14% of all trips are made by bike.

There are practical reasons many Tokyo residents prefer a bike to a car for shorter journeys.

Before you can even buy a car in the city you must prove you possess a (rare and usually expensive) off-street parking spot.

Cycling here is different.

Few people cycle to work — distances tend to be long and the mass transit system is hugely efficient.

Instead, rides tend to be around the countless neighborhoods that make up the city.

Also, a lot of cycling takes place — legally — on footpaths and sidewalks.

These aren’t the Lycra-clad speedsters of London or New York.

Tokyo cyclists use practical “mamachari” bikes with sturdy frames, baskets for shopping and seats containing one or two small children.

They pedal about the pavement on these weighty behemoths, rarely reaching the pace of a jog, keeping out of the way of each other and pedestrians with ample use of the so-called “gaman” attitude, a sort of stoic tolerance for others which makes life in such a vast, packed city more or less work.

MORE: Cycling World War I battlefields

Cyclists own the streets of Bogota (on Sundays).

Bogota, Colombia

Call this one an honorable mention.

Colombia’s capital is by no means as obviously cycle-friendly as others on this list, with fewer than 5% of Bogota’s journeys involving bikes, increasing car numbers and choking smog.

Nonetheless, it merits its place for effort, not least for tempting so many citizens of an often deprived and hugely packed city — the population is fast nearing 9 million — onto two wheels.

Did we mention it’s located 2,600 meters (8,500 feet) above sea level?

Anyone thinking of pedaling around as a tourist should be prepared for some undignified wheezing the first day or so.

Credit is due to the city’s former mayor, Enrique Penalosa, who on taking office in 1998 canceled a planned highway through the city center and kick-started a process that’s seen Bogota acquire nearly 200 miles of protected bike lanes and, soon, its own bike-rental plan.

The best way to try two-wheeled life in Bogota is a weekly Sunday ritual known as Ciclovia that sees 70 miles of streets closed to vehicles and given over to bikes and pedestrians.

Peter Walker is a journalist based in the UK who regularly contributes to cycling publications. He once rode a bike most of the way from Sydney to London.

CNN Travel’s series often carries sponsorship originating from the countries and regions we profile. However CNN retains full editorial control over all of its reports. Read the policy.


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New Austrian Mountain Fitness holiday for women, by women

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Mountain Ladies of Lungau fitness break

Whether you’ve signed up for the Snowdonia Marathon or been inspired by Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, this new Austrian alpine escape is guaranteed to motivate and condition in equal measures.

During St Martin Chalets’ new 3-night Mountain Ladies of Lungau fitness escape you will contour the peaks, valleys and trails of Austria’s newest UNESCO Biosphere Reserve alongside some particularly fit locals.

The Southern Alpine region of Lungau is your destination, staying in one of St Martin Chalets’ authentic Austrian chalets, each day joined by St Martin’s Power Princesses who will encourage, guide and motivate you during a mix of alpine sporting endeavours, including trail running, summit walks, mountain biking and rock climbing.

All five ladies live for the outdoors and boast plenty of credentials, from trained mountain guides, skiing instructors and UNESCO Biosphere Rangers to accomplished mountaineers, climbers, ski racers and cyclists. No need to be intimidated though…they’re up for plenty of fun too so you can take it as hard or as gentle as you like each day.

PACKAGE SPECIFICS:

WHO IS IT FOR? We’ve obviously had a lot of interest from female guests and groups but actively encourage male guests to pit their skills and fitness against the PPs!

THE LADIES: All have different skills and talents to offer – you can meet them by visiting this webpage

LOCATION: St Martin Chalets is located 1.5hrs directly south of Salzburg airport within the Lungau UNESCO Biosphere, Austria’s largest and newest Biosphere Reserve

DURATION: 4 days and 3 nights with no set departure date so longer/bespoke stays are available. The new itinerary is available through until the end of October 2014 (May – Oct 2015) and are subject to availability.

PRICE: From €450 (approx £360) per person based on 6 people sharing. Price excludes flights, meals and car hire except where stated. Price includes Chalet accommodation, return airport shuttle transfer, all activities and guiding plus equipment hire (bikes, rucksacks, helmets, climbing harnesses and poles), use of private gym sauna, daily Chalet breakfast, a stocked fridge and a traditional Austrian Chalet supper plus dinner in a local castle.

FLIGHTS: Flights depart London and the UK for Salzburg Airport from multiple departure points, from as low as £45 one way.

WEBSITE: Visit this dedicated webpage for more information and the full itinerary (also below).


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THE ITINERARY

Austrian Mountain Fitness Day 1:

Fly into Salzburg before grabbing the Airport Shuttle to St Martin chalets for the start of your Austrian mountain fitness holiday
You’ll then get to know the girls over a few cold Austrian beers and a traditional Austrian ‘Jause’, which is a fantastic dish packed full of delicious cuts of cured meats and local produce (vege version available too). It’s the perfect way to kick off your stay and depending on flight times this can be either before or after the run
17:00: Acclimatising 5km trail run along amazing trails and through beautiful mountain-scapes
19:00: Evening walk into downtown St Michael for some more authentic Austrian food that’ll really hit the spot (believe us, the Austrian’s can cook!)


Austrian Mountain Fitness Day 2:

08:00 Chalet breakfast (DIY fresh rolls delivered and fridge re-filled daily).

Take your pick from these activities…..
09:30: Mountain biking (e-bike optional) 3-4 hours at altitudes between 1000m Mountain biking Austria1900m. Let our super fit guides lead you through the ups and downs of Lungau’s fantastic scenery. The girls are all keen mountain bikers but if you’re looking for something a bit more extreme, Isabella is our fearless speed junkie and is known by the locals as Lungau’s downhill lady!

10:00: Climbing (rock or wall depending on weather). The five of us regularly head out into the mountains and do a climb together and we know some excellent lines for people of all abilities. Nina is probably our best climber (well she is the youngest – she should be!) – she climbs three times-a-week both on the climbing wall and doing the real thing, and she’s super-strong.

16:00: Evening trail run ca. 10Km (with hills!) – optional/if you’re up for it! Living in the mountains keeps you lean and fit (which means you can eat cakes and pastries without feeling guilty. Yay!) and there’s nothing like ending the day with a jog. Lungau is becoming known as a centre for what’s called ‘preventive medicine’, which basically means you avoid getting ill in the first place by eating well and staying fit and strong. Kerstin is our ‘gazelle’ and has perfect calves to motivate you to keep going!

19:00: Catered chalet supper. Don’t tell anyone but we’ve done a deal with the owners of the only Michelin Star restaurant in the region. They provide our chalet catering, but don’t worry, they reserve the ‘pretty mini portions’ for their restaurant – we get served up mountain-sized portions of delicious local dishes. It’s pretty darned good!


Austrian Mountain Fitness Day 3:

06:00: Breakfast roll delivery (pack your rucksacks with sarnies)
8:00: Summit climb – reach the heavens at 2700 above sea-level. Depending on how fast you are, two of the girls will whip you into shape over a 5 to 6-hour mountain hike over Alpine terrain. We’ll even hold your hand when it gets a bit precarious!
Lunch on the mountain
5:00: Free time – use of Gym/Sauna.
19:00: Evening: Supper in the medieval castle, Burg Mauterndorf


Austrian Mountain Fitness Day 4:
07:30: Chalet breakfast before Airport shuttle departs chalets (depends on flight times)

Notes to editor:
For further press information and high resolution imagery please call Lex on 07795 564211 or email lex@theorangecow.com

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This "Collapsabottle" Squishes Down To Fit In A Pocket, So You’ll Stop Buying …

Bottled water costs 300 to 10,000 times more than drinking from the tap, even when–in the case of brands like Dasani or Aquafina–it’s made from tap water itself. But people keep buying it anyway. It’s the most popular beverage in the U.S., with nearly 1600 bottles sold per second. One reason is simple convenience. People get thirsty away from home, and it’s the easy answer.

For a U.K. entrepreneur, the everyday problem of getting thirsty on a daily commute was the inspiration for a new product: A reusable bottle that’s easy to carry anywhere.

“As an environmentalist and entrepreneur, I was frustrated at having to buy a bottle of water at the train station out of sheer thirst,” says Guy Jeremiah, managing director for the startup Ohyo. “Challenged by my mother to carry a bottle like my father, an enthusiastic hiker, I pointed out that I could not fit a bottle in my pocket, and there was nowhere to fill it.”

The result was Ohyo, a bottle with a patented design that allows it to fold up more tightly, accordian-style, than any folding bottle in the past. It’s small enough to easily fit in a pocket or a tiny purse, a little like this collapsible coffee mug. Jeremiah also built a corresponding app called Find a Fountain, which maps out London water fountains, starting with data that he collected by biking around the city.

Ohyo’s first “Collapsabottle” was a success, selling over 600,000 units so far. Jeremiah sees it as proof of shifting consumer desires. “I believe that clever marketing from the bottled water companies from the 1980s had falsely convinced people that they have the healthier, handier water solution,” Jeremiah says. “But 150 billion wasted bottles a year are leading people to question if this is the best way of hydrating people on the move.”

Now, the company hopes to expand into the U.S., and into sport and outdoor markets, with a larger version of the same bottle, though a valiant attempt at raising money on Kickstarter to try to meet a goal for a first production run wasn’t so successful.

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First Ever Tour du Mont Blanc on a FatBike


by Ellie Mahoney | Chamonix Editor | published: 18th Aug, 2014

Every year thousands of people take on the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) on foot or by mountain bike, be that on standard wheels, a 29er or 27.5 inch wheels, and taking anything from 24 hours (continuous trail running) to 10 or 11 days to complete. This is the first time we’ve heard of someone who’s planning to do it on a fatbike, which you’re more likely to be seen being ridden on sand or snow.. 

  • a fatbike with a pedal on the rocks
  • a man in sunglasses with his mountain bike
  • a fatbike with black and orange paint work
  • a black fatbike on a snowy trail
  • a fatbike resting against a shelter
  • a fatbike on a trail in the USA

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Geoff Harper, who blogs under the name of the Unchained Cyclist, has been in touch to tell us what inspired him to take on this route, tell us about his plans (which are still under development) and what he plans on doing when it’s all done and dusted.

Geoff, tell us a little about yourself and your background

I was born and raised in Surrey and moved to US in 1999 to escape the rat race work as a strength and condition coach and to enjoy/experiment with all outdoor activities with biking being my first love. [From Geoff's blog] In 1999 I decided to get off the hedonic treadmill in pursuit of the authentic version of myself. I quit my job in London as a contract Design Engineer, sold most of my belongings and crossed the Atlantic with only a backpack and a bike. Crash-landing in Venice Beach, California I began to reinvent myself as the Unchained Cyclist, a bike-centric experiment in consciousness. For the last 15 years I have been exploring the most geographically rich regions of the US from the Keys of South Florida to the Mountain Ranges of Alaska and most recently the magical state of Colorado where I can be found exploring and training in the Rocky Mountains – all year round.

How did you end up in Colorado and what do you do there?

I currently live in Golden which is 15 miles south of Boulder – similar kind of places but Golden is more low key. Both places are in the foothills of the Rockies. Since I’ve been in the US I developed a love of the mountains which inevitably lead me to Alaska, where I summited Denali in 2009. Not wanting to live in Alaska (the weather is pretty brutal) I settled on Colorado where we have 54 14,000 ft mountains and four seasons with plenty of sunshine year round… it also doubles as a great place to train the bike team based here that I’m involved with and train myself.

So where did your fascination / obsession (?) with fatbikes begin?

As soon as I got to Colorado in 2010 I saw fatbikes in shops which started my fascination, then at the end of the 2012 mountain bike season, I sold my Santa Cruz Blur 2 full suspension bike with the idea of buying a 29er hardtail in the new year. Then in November I test rode a fatbike on snow and now I am fully converted to fatbikes and ride mine at all times, everywhere all year round and on all terrain. It’s the only bike I have now.

You’ve already been on a fatbike expedition in Iceland, what were your biggest learnings from that trip?

Hmmm… mostly mental stuff… my mountaineering experience prepared me for the physical demands/hardship also the gear set up was forged from that perspective too. The real difference being the solo aspect – lots of time alone with me as my only motivator. I went through a full spectrum of thoughts from ‘why the hell am I here doing this nonsense on my own’ and ‘I want my mummy’ to ‘I am never going back to the real world’ haha!

What made you choose the Tour du Mont Blanc for your next fatbike adventure?

I love the fact that three countries share the Mont Blanc Massif, and also that depending on who of those you ask you get a different answer as to where the borders are exactly. Being a mountaineer I am of course drawn to the area anyway.

Tell us about what you’re planning to do.. 

I am hoping to ride the Tour du Mont Blanc early in the winter season this year, in around 10 days and with as little deviation off the route as possible. Common sense and safety will play into my exact route so I guess we will see how much deviation will occur. It’s not a super rigid plan …those tend not to work in my experience. I may ride it before the snow falls just to lay eyes on the route before its snow covered to get a feel for it.

What’s the kit list like for your trip and have you adapted your it much since you were in Iceland?

Unlike Iceland where the bike weighed around 70lbs fully loaded, the kit list this time is more minimal and I hope to load up with food as I pass through towns on the route. This of course depends on whether or not the towns are open so I’m in process of gathering that type of info. Graham Pinkerton [chamonixbikeblog] wrote up a great post on his Tour du Mont Blanc MTB trip – he’s a friend of a friend and has given me a lot of info! I basically hope to be carrying a simple shelter, minimal tools, maps, clothing and a stove. The set up will be ‘light and fast’ or Alpine style in mountaineering terms.

Do you prefer to go solo rather than buddy up on a ride like this?

Iceland was the first solo adventure for me and all the others have been in groups or with buddies. I really enjoyed the process. I think it puts you in touch with yourself in a unique way at least for the duration of the trip.

What do you think the hardest part of the TMB is going to be?

Much like riding the beaches in Iceland with ever changing tides and glacial run-off I was never able to plan my route I just studied the maps learned my options and took it on a day by day/minute by minute basis – unfortunately that the exact type of stuff that keeps me awake at night currently! It’s a bit like life, you can fret about the future but in the end its going to be whatever the hell its going to be and you deal with that when it’s on your plate. In the mean time the best thing to do is to cover yourself as best you can for a multitude of likelihoods and again this is part of the process I enjoy – I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day with that haha!

And what are you most looking forward to about it?

There are always a handful of moments that stick with you and wind up defining the adventure. I’m going to have some rough days and some beautiful moments, it’s the juxtaposition of those moments being both somewhat awful and absolutely beautiful in the same moment that I love.

What are you planning to do to celebrate reaching the end of the route?

I’m hoping to spend some time in Chamonix where I believe there are libations available..! I have been establishing connections with some like minded people in the valley whom I hope to meet, also an old friend of mine is in recovery from a serious operation. He’s a big mountain biker too and I’m hoping he can make it down from the UK to join in the celebration. Assuming that there is actually something to celebrate…

And after that – what’s next?

Not sure. I want to do some climbing in the Chamonix Valley, that’s about all I can say at this stage.

Sponsors

My main sponsor is 9:ZERO:7 Fatbikes from Alaska. 907 is the phone code for Alaska where fatbiking began, they are based in Anchorage. Ergon Ergonomics give me bike bits, saddles, grips and backpacks. Golden Bike Shop are my local bike wizards and helped me develop the build of the bike. I hand picked every component with their help.

Full spec of Geoff’s fatbike:

  • Frame/Fork 9:ZERO:7 Whiteout
  • Crankset ~ Next SL Carbon @ 30T
  • Cassette ~ Sram XO1 (10-42)
  • Rear Derailleur ~ Sram XO1
  • Grip Shifter ~ Sram XO1
  • Chain ~ Sram XO1
  • Bottom Bracket ~ Raceface BSA 30 threaded – 100mm
  • Pedals ~ 45NRTH – Heirspecs
  • Brake Calipers ~ Avid BB7 S
  • Brake Levers ~ Avid FR 5
  • Stem ~ Raceface Turbine – 90mm/6*
  • Bar ~ Raceface Next carbon – 20mm rise/Wide
  • Seatpost ~ Raceface Next Carbon
  • Saddle ~ Ergon SM3 Pro
  • Seat Collar ~ 9zero7
  • Hubs ~ 9zero7
  • Axles ~ 9zero7- 135mm/197mm Thru (12mm/15mm)
  • Spokes ~ DT Swiss
  • Rims ~ Rolling Darryls
  • Tires ~ 45North Dillingers

..

Geoff plans on starting his Tour du Mont Blanc fatbike adventure in late October / early November this year. You can follow him on facebook and twitter and if you’ve got any tips or information you’d like to share with him about planning his trip, then get in touch! 

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The European Outdoor Film Tour Is Back

Tickets On Sale For European Outdoor Film Tour

The European Outdoor Film Tour (E.O.F.T.) will be back in the UK for the third year running this autumn with even more shows and venues. Check out the video teaser to see what it’s all about.

The tour kicks off in London on 1st November with Saturday and Sunday matinee and evenings screenings at the Royal Geographical Society, before heading to Bristol for two shows on 3rd and 4th, adding Sheffield as a new venue on 5th, before returning to Manchester; Glasgow and Edinburgh and ending in another new city in Birmingham on Sunday 9th. 

Touring 240 venues across 13 European countries, the two-hour programme is a special, high-octane edit of the best outdoor sports and adventure films of the year. 

What’s on this year?

This year’s show includes the kayaking adventure Nobody’s River – four intrepid women following Mongolia’s 3,000km Amur River from its source; The Frozen Titans, Will Gadd’s ambitious project to ice climb the thundering 141m high Helmcken Falls; and Brandon Semenuk’s Rad Company, pushing the limits of freeride mountain biking on wild trips through the forest and slopestyle sessions on a scrap yard.

Plus American Alex Honnold free solos Mexico’s 762m El Sendero Luminoso, climbing without a safety rope – one of the most dangerous sports in the world; 23 year old Brit James Kingston climbs cranes, bridges and skyscrapers, – unbelayed, without batting an eyelid in the urban climbing film Don’t Look Down; and whitewater kayak legend Ben Marr is back in the spectacular water sports short, Dream. The full line up will be available in September. 

Full UK tour dates

Royal Geographical Society, London

  • Sat, 01/11/14, 14:00
  • Sat, 01/11/14, 18:00
  • Sun, 02/11/14, 14:00
  • Sun, 02/11/14, 18:00

St. George’s Bristol

  • Mon, 03/11/14, 20:00
  • Tue, 04/11/14, 20:00

Sheffield City Hall

  • Wed, 05/11/14, 20:00

ODEON – The Printworks, Manchester

  • Thu, 06/11/14, 20:00

The Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow

  • Fri, 07/11/14, 19:00

Portobello Town Hall, Edinburgh

  • Sat, 08/11/14, 20:00

ODEON- Broadway Plaza, Birmingham

  • Sun, 09/11/14, 20:00

The secret of the European Outdoor Film Tour’s success

Frederik Höderath, from Moving Adventures, organisers of the E.O.F.T. said: ‘The secret of the European Outdoor Film Tour’s success is picking the best adventure films of the year, mixing up sports from mountain biking to whitewater kayaking; combining travel epics with adrenaline pumping action and editing them into a two-hour, seat of your pants roller-coaster ride.

‘Add in the feel-good factor of prizes and giveaways and the warm welcome from the E.O.F.T. crew and compere and you’re guaranteed a great night out.’

More information

For a preview of what’s in store for this year’s audiences, watch the video teaser or for full details on this year’s E.O.F.T. visit www.eoft.eu.

Meanwhile, find our more and book tickets now via Ellis Brigham online and in stores in London, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow. www.ellis-brigham.com/eoft and www.ellis-brigham.com.

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Happy Mondays star and former drug addict Paul Ryder reveals he treated his …

  • Chico Ryder, son of Happy Mondays star Paul, was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue cancer shortly after Christmas 2012
  • Doctors told his father – a recovering drug addict – and mother, Angela, surgery was too risky and he would need chemotherapy and radiation
  • They prescribed the 11-year-old Marinol – a synthetic form of cannabis – to ease the effects of his gruelling treatment, such as nausea and vomiting
  • His parents decided to go a step further, injecting cannabis oil into his stomach tube – with the doctors’ full support
  • Happy Mondays bassist told MailOnline: ‘My drug problems have been well documented. I nearly lost my life. But now they are being used to help Chico’
  • I found myself coaching him on how to inhale cannabis vapour,’ he said
  • Cancer Research UK is supporting clinical trials to test drug’s effectiveness

By
Lizzie Parry for MailOnline

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Happy Mondays star Paul Ryder has revealed how he treated his 11-year-old son’s cancer with cannabis.

The bass player and one of the founding members of the Manchester band, told MailOnline as a recovering addict he would never have encouraged Chico to take drugs.

But when faced with his son’s diagnosis – a rare form of soft tissue cancer – the musician said he and his wife took the decision to use cannabis oil.

Chico fell ill in November 2012, complaining of a sore throat.

Happy Mondays bass player Paul Ryder has revealed he treated his son Chico's cancer with cannabis oil. The recovering drug addict, pictured with his son, said he and his wife took the decision with the backing of Chico's doctors in Los Angeles

Happy Mondays bass player Paul Ryder has revealed he treated his son Chico’s cancer with cannabis oil. The recovering drug addict, pictured with his son, said he and his wife took the decision with the backing of Chico’s doctors in Los Angeles

Eleven-year-old Chico fell ill with a sore throat in November 2012. Just weeks later, after Christmas he was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue cancer

Doctors told the family Chico would need rounds of chemotherapy

Eleven-year-old Chico fell ill with a sore throat in November 2012. Just weeks later, he was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma

Chico's father, Paul Ryder, pictured far right with his bandmates, including Chico's uncle Shaun Ryder, third left, said he and his wife Angela decided to take their son's treatment a step further, giving him doses of cannabis oil through a stomach tube, with the full support of his medical team

Chico’s father, Paul Ryder, pictured far right with his bandmates, including Chico’s uncle Shaun Ryder, third left, said he and his wife Angela decided to take their son’s treatment a step further, giving him doses of cannabis oil through a stomach tube, with the full support of his medical team

But just weeks after Christmas his family received the devastating diagnosis – he was suffering the cancer rhabdomyosarcoma.

Doctors in Los Angeles, where the family now live, prescribed a synthetic form of cannabis to ease the side effects of the chemotherapy such as nausea and vomiting.

But Chico’s parents took the treatment one step further, giving their 11-year-old son cannabis oil, through his stomach tube – with the full support of his medical team.

Lib Dem minister Norman Baker has become the latest high profile name to call for cannabis to be legalised for medical use.

Paul, 49, originally from Salford, told MailOnline: ‘I found myself coaching him on how to inhale cannabis vapour from a vapourising machine.

‘It was surreal – but it worked brilliantly, and gave him instant relief.

‘My drug problems have been well documented. I nearly lost my life. But now they are being used instead to help Chico.’

Chico’s illness came as a huge shock to his parents and older brother Sonny, 12.

His mother Angela, 50, said: ‘Before he became ill, he was a normal, energetic little boy. He loved skate-boarding, dirt-biking and football.

‘Everything was going well until we were hit with an almighty bombshell.’

A sore throat didn’t clear up and a swelling appeared on the side of Chico’s neck. Initial tests for lymphoma were clear – and the family breathed a sigh of relief.

Doctors told Chico's family surgery was too risky and that he would need rounds of chemotherapy and radiation to treat his disease. They prescribed the drug Marinol - a synthetic form of cannabis - to help ease the effects of the treatment

Doctors told Chico’s family surgery was too risky and that he would need rounds of chemotherapy and radiation to treat his disease. They prescribed the drug Marinol – a synthetic form of cannabis – to help ease the effects of the treatment

Paul told MailOnline: 'I found myself coaching him (Chico, pictured) on how to inhale cannabis vapour from a vapourising machine. My drug problems have been well documented. I nearly lost my life. But now they are being used instead to help Chico'

Paul told MailOnline: ‘I found myself coaching him (Chico, pictured) on how to inhale cannabis vapour from a vapourising machine. My drug problems have been well documented. I nearly lost my life. But now they are being used instead to help Chico’

CANNABIS OIL: AN EXPERT’S VIEW

Dr Kat Arney, Cancer Research UK’s science communications manager, told MailOnline: ‘We know that cannabinoids – the active chemicals found in cannabis – can have a range of different effects on cancer cells grown in the lab and animal tumours.

‘But at the moment there isn’t good evidence from clinical trials to prove that they can safely and effectively treat cancer in patients. 

‘Despite this, we are aware that some cancer patients do choose to treat themselves with cannabis extracts.

‘These stories can help researchers build a picture of whether these treatments are helping or not, although this is weak evidence compared to properly-run clinical trials.

‘Cancer Research UK is supporting clinical trials for treating cancer with cannabis extract and a synthetic cannabinoid.

‘In order to gather solid data on how best these drugs can be used to benefit people with cancer.’

But five days before Christmas 2012, he became very ill.

With Paul away on tour with the newly reformed band, Angela kept him updated with texts.

And one night, as he was about to take to the stage in London, his phone bleeped with news which was to change his life.

‘They are admitting him into hospital for more tests. 50-50 chance it’s cancer,’ the message read.

Paul said: ‘I was in a daze throughout the gig, I can’t remember playing at all.

‘It was like I was on autopilot, just going through the motions, not being able to think of anything else other than my family so far away and the fact that Chico’s life might be in danger.’

His wife, said: ‘By this time the swelling had grown much bigger.

‘The doctors said he only had 10 more days before it would completely block his airways.

‘We were worried sick.

‘We laid all his presents in his hospital room on Christmas Day, but he had no interest in them.

Chico's mother Angela, said: 'The Marinol worked a little at the beginning, but we were told that real cannabis worked much better. I never in a million years imagined that I would ever be buying cannabis oil for my 11-year-old son and giving him relatively high amounts of it down his stomach tube'

Chico’s mother Angela, said: ‘The Marinol worked a little at the beginning, but we were told that real cannabis worked much better. I never in a million years imagined that I would ever be buying cannabis oil for my 11-year-old son and giving him relatively high amounts of it down his stomach tube’

‘It was so surreal to know that the rest of the world was oblivious, enjoying the festivities, tucking into turkey and having happy family times, while we were stuck in a hospital, dealing with our worst nightmare.’

Three days after Christmas, Chico, then 10, was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma.

Paul told MailOnline: ‘I walked in there, to his hospital room and I just lost it, he looked so sick and frail. I went straight into the bathroom and threw up.’

It was the start of a battle which would see Chico cheat death more than once – while his father and uncle, Happy Mondays front man Shaun Ryder, hid their secret heartache from fans.

‘My drug problems have been well documented. I nearly lost my life. But now they are being used instead to help Chico’

- Happy Mondays bassist, Paul Ryder

His wife said: ‘Shaun was shell-shocked; he sent text messages to Paul saying he couldn’t believe it and how he wished we weren’t so far away.

‘Like most people, he just didn’t know what to say.’

Surgery was too risky, and so Chico began a 43-week course of chemotherapy, along with radiation.  

Doctors prescribed a drug called Marinol – a synthetic form of cannabis – to ease the chemo nausea.

Angela said: ‘The Marinol worked a little at the beginning, but we were told that real cannabis worked much better.

‘So because we were living in a state where medical cannabis is legal with a doctor’s  recommendation, we asked the doctors for approval, and they agreed.

‘As they saw how beneficial it was for Chico, they were very supportive.

‘I never in a million years imagined that I would ever be buying cannabis oil for my 11-year-old son and giving him relatively high amounts of it down his stomach tube.

‘What isn’t quite so widely known is that cannabis also seems to have the ability to actually fight the cancer itself, as well as mitigating the side effects of the chemo.’

Chico's uncle, and Happy Mondays front man, Shaun Ryder, said: 'Our Chico kicked cancer, he is a real fighter'

Chico’s uncle, and Happy Mondays front man, Shaun Ryder, said: ‘Our Chico kicked cancer, he is a real fighter’

For Paul, the irony of giving drugs to his son was not lost.

He told MailOnline: ‘I am a recovering addict and haven’t had a drink or drug for many years, so there’s no way I would ever have encouraged my son to take cannabis.

‘But when Angela told me what she had discovered I couldn’t really argue and had to agree that we had to get some for him.

‘It was the best thing we could have done. In my opinion it’s a medicine not a drug, and thank goodness we were living in California.

‘Our Chico kicked cancer, he’s a real fighter’

- Uncle and Happy Mondays front man, Shaun Ryder

‘We built up the dose slowly as his tolerance rose. It made a big difference in his overall well-being.

‘It definitely made the treatment more tolerable. He started to smile. It certainly didn’t solve every problem but it helped make his life more bearable through the treatment.’

In December last year, the family got the best news they could have hoped for – Chico was in remission.

His mother said: ‘Chico has lost his hair and needs a wheelchair from the side effects of his treatment, but we know he’ll be back on his feet soon.

‘He still has a very cheeky sense of humour and he can’t wait to return to normal life.’

Paul and his band mates are now planning their first ever black tie ball for Chico – and hope the little boy will be well enough to fly to the UK as guest of honour.

His uncle, Shaun, said: ‘Our Chico kicked cancer, he is a real fighter.’

In December last year, Chico's parents Angela and Paul, and his older brother Sonny, front right, received the news they longed for, the 11-year-old was in remission

In December last year, Chico’s parents Angela and Paul, and his older brother Sonny, front right, received the news they longed for, the 11-year-old was in remission


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Can you guess which Northwest city was named one of the world’s best for …

(CNN) — If you’re taking a strict view on the world’s most bike-friendly cities, the eventual list would mainly take in a smallish patch of northwest Europe.

One such rating table, produced by the Denmark-based cycling advocacy group Copenhagnize, has more than half its top 20 bike-friendly places clustered around the Netherlands, France, Germany and Denmark.

Instead, we’ll spread our net more widely, rewarding aspiration, ambition and progress, as well as just endless ranks of smiling cyclists pedaling sensible bikes on segregated paths.

Utrecht, Netherlands

Lists such as this one traditionally begin with Amsterdam, but while the Netherlands’ most populous city is definitely bike friendly, we’re marking it down for the hordes of wobbling tourists on bright-red rental machines.

Instead we’re heading southeast to Utrecht, a city that has a fair claim to being the globe’s most pro-two-wheel destination.

In its center, up to 50% of all journeys take place in the saddle and local authorities are building a 12,500-space cycle parking facility billed as the world’s biggest.

As in all Dutch cities, visitors from places with a more belligerent traffic culture might be struck at how normal it all feels.

Cycling in Utrecht is treated on par with walking, with helmets and high-visibility garments rarely used, not least because of the protection offered by segregated cycle lanes.

One well known English cycle blogger, Mark Treasure, was struck by the range in ages on a visit to Utrecht.

“I find it hard to imagine children this young cycling into the center of any UK city at all, let alone cycling in and looking so happy and relaxed, and so ordinary,” he writes.

“Yet in Utrecht, families cycling around together is commonplace.”

Seville, Spain

Seville is the answer to those who say promoting urban bike use is too ambitious and takes decades.

In 2006, the Andalusian capital’s government, vexed by the city’s four daily rush hours (yes, four! This is siesta-taking southern Spain) decided to take action.

There was plenty of naysaying.

Critics pointed out Spain has scant tradition of commuter cycling.

Some questioned who would ride in midsummer through Europe’s hottest regions and risk arriving at work as damp as if they’d just pedaled through a mechanical car wash.

Undaunted, the city established about 50 miles of cycle lanes within a year (there’s now about 80 miles) and commissioned a municipal bike rental plan called Sevici.

The result?

Within about six years, journeys made by bike shot from less than 0.5% to about 7%, and city transportation chiefs from around the world suddenly had the perfect excuse to arrange week-long fact-finding trips in the sun.

Montreal

By long tradition one of the few North American cities in these sort of lists, Montreal began constructing bike paths in the 1980s and now has almost 400 miles of them.

The addition of its popular and pioneering Bixi municipal bike-share plan, the model for those later rolled out in Paris and London, has meant a remarkable amount of cycle use, especially for a place where daytime winter temperature above 10 C (50 F) is viewed as dangerously tropical.

Cycling stats for Montreal indicate the city still has work to do and cycle groups say too many riders are nudged onto busy roads.

One survey says nearly half the city’s adult population rides a bike at least once a week, yet little more than 2% of commutes are made on two wheels.

“The challenge is that we have asked people to start using their bicycles and they’ve done it so much faster than we’ve been able to change the city,” Aref Salem, the person in charge of mass transit on Montreal’s executive committee, told the Toronto Star recently.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Much like ignoring France on a roster of great cheese countries, a list of top cycling cities excluding Copenhagen just wouldn’t be right.

More than half the locals in the Danish capital cycle to work or school, and with an estimated bike population of 650,000 there are slightly more cycles than people.

Enough of these are available to rent to tourists, and Copenhagen’s compact dimensions and tolerant traffic make it perfect to explore by bike.

City leaders are intent not just on increasing bike use further, but exporting the Copenhagen doctrine of a segregated and safe bike infrastructure that features bike lanes of up to three meters (about 10 feet) in width.

There’s an official Cycling Embassy of Denmark to spread the word, while the founder of the aforementioned Copenhagenize group, Mikael Colville-Andersen, spends much of his working life telling other cities how to copy the Danish model.

Berlin

Less shouted about than the Dutch or Danish examples, Germany has nonetheless been quietly getting on with boosting bike use in many of its cities.

Berlin is the standout example.

About 13% of all trips in the city are made by bike, nearly twice the rate of 20 years ago.

In some inner suburbs this hits 20%.

This is particularly impressive given the city’s long, freezing winters, abundant public transport and status as capital of a nation with a long tradition of manufacturing cars and driving them at absurd speeds on autobahns.

Aside from clever and consistent public policy designed to boost bike use, Berlin has a number of inbuilt advantages.

Streets are often hugely wide, in part a consequence of the devastation of World War II and grandiose postwar Soviet planning, and the terrain is largely flat.

While many Berliners live in apartments, often a difficulty for those using bikes, the city’s traditional Mietskaserne tenement blocks tend to be built around a central courtyard, giving space for secure storage.

What’s most impressive is the sheer scale — Berlin has a population of about 3.5 million people, far bigger than the relatively small likes of Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

Portland, Oregon

“The groundwork for the city’s bike infrastructure was laid over 20 years ago,” says Brian Zeck, bike manager of Portland’s River City Bicycles. “It has built upon itself over the years and bicycling has become somewhat ingrained in the culture of the city.

“In some ways, Portland now has the feel of a European city.”

That infrastructure includes more than 65 miles of bike paths, 30 miles of low-traffic bike boulevards and 175 miles of bike lanes, all of which are used with gusto by the 8% of citizens who claim that biking is their primary form of transportation, and 10% who say a bike is their secondary vehicle.

All of those numbers are climbing annually, thanks to the city’s grand Bicycle Plan for 2030, unanimously adopted by the City Council in 2010.

The plan calls for attracting new riders by forming a denser bike network, reducing vehicle speed limits on designated streets (thus increasing safety for riders) and increasing bicycle parking, among other measures.

The most exciting development for Portland bikers is the planned 2015 opening of the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People spanning the Willamette River, which divides the east and west sides of the city.

The first span built over the river since 1973, “the bridge will be distinctive in the United States, designed to carry light rail trains, buses, cyclists, pedestrians and streetcars, but not private vehicles,” according to TriMet, the local public agency that operates mass transit.

The bridge will feature two 14-foot-wide pedestrian and bike lanes.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, an estimated 2,100 races, rides and other biking events are held in Portland each year.

Tokyo

Wait, Tokyo?

The one with more than 13 million inhabitants covering 800-plus square miles.

That Tokyo?

Correct.

In this vast, crammed capital city, an amazing 14% of all trips are made by bike.

There are practical reasons many Tokyo residents prefer a bike to a car for shorter journeys.

Before you can even buy a car in the city you must prove you possess a (rare and usually expensive) off-street parking spot.

Cycling here is different.

Few people cycle to work — distances tend to be long and the mass transit system is hugely efficient.

Instead, rides tend to be around the countless neighborhoods that make up the city.

Also, a lot of cycling takes place — legally — on footpaths and sidewalks.

These aren’t the Lycra-clad speedsters of London or New York.

Tokyo cyclists use practical “mamachari” bikes with sturdy frames, baskets for shopping and seats containing one or two small children.

They pedal about the pavement on these weighty behemoths, rarely reaching the pace of a jog, keeping out of the way of each other and pedestrians with ample use of the so-called “gaman” attitude, a sort of stoic tolerance for others which makes life in such a vast, packed city more or less work.

Bogota, Colombia

Call this one an honorable mention.

Colombia’s capital is by no means as obviously cycle-friendly as others on this list, with fewer than 5% of Bogota’s journeys involving bikes, increasing car numbers and choking smog.

Nonetheless, it merits its place for effort, not least for tempting so many citizens of an often deprived and hugely packed city — the population is fast nearing 9 million — onto two wheels.

Did we mention it’s located 2,600 meters (8,500 feet) above sea level?

Anyone thinking of pedaling around as a tourist should be prepared for some undignified wheezing the first day or so.

Credit is due to the city’s former mayor, Enrique Penalosa, who on taking office in 1998 canceled a planned highway through the city center and kick-started a process that’s seen Bogota acquire nearly 200 miles of protected bike lanes and, soon, its own bike-rental plan.

The best way to try two-wheeled life in Bogota is a weekly Sunday ritual known as Ciclovia that sees 70 miles of streets closed to vehicles and given over to bikes and pedestrians.

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Friends pay tribute to ‘hugely talented’ cyclist killed on London Bridge

Chris Tandy, of Hackney, died on Saturday night after clipping the Bridge’s central reservation and falling into oncoming traffic.

The 28-year-old worked at the British Council where he organised the annual Going Global education conference involving ministers and high-raking officials from 80 countries.

The “tragic accident” took place after the keen cyclist got off a train at London Bridge station. His family, from Leicestershire, were too upset to speak about the tragedy.

A Council colleague said: “It’s tragic. He was such an honourable guy who did so much for so many people. His team are devastated.

“Chris’s death goes beyond the borders of London. He worked with people from 80 countries and there’s been messages coming in from all over the world.”

Director of Education Rebecca Hughes said: “Chris Tandy worked in the British Council’s Education team as the manager for our Going Global conference, and was a hugely talented, dedicated, respected and a liked colleague to all he worked with, who will be dearly missed.

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his partner and his family.”



Collision: police attend the scene at London Bridge (Picture: Corbis)


The Going Global conference works with universities across continents to find solutions to world problems. This year he staged a conference in Miami, following last year’s event in Dubai.

More than a dozen friends laid floral tributes on the bridge following the incident at about 7.30pm on Saturday. One read: “Our dearest Tandy no words can explain what a tragedy this is.

“We all deeply miss you. No party will ever be so much fun no debate so lively and no meal so tasty. Love Olly xxxxx”

Mr Tandy is believed to have been in training for a charity bike ride and was described as “a lover of travel with his future ahead of him.”

In 2008 he set up a blog detailing his eight months travelling around the Far East visiting India, Borneo and Brunai, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

A close friend said: “He was wonderful he was so optimistic and looking forward to the future. His family and girlfriend are devastated. He had been in training for a bike ride.”

The driver of the car that hit Mr Tandy was not arrested and witnesses told the Standard it had been a “tragic accident.” Mr Tandy is the ninth cyclist to die on London’s roads this year.

One friend added: “I went to London Bridge to lay some flowers down for Chris. It hit me how many cyclists there are in that road with no cycle lanes or systems in place. More needs to be done.”

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Local 4-H’er wins in team competition abroad

GALENA — The older we get, the farther we roam. Walking comes first, then running, which often progresses to biking and driving. Some people even reach a bit further and fly to new places. Cassidy Schirmer, 18, a Kent County native, recently returned from venturing a long distance from home.

“It was fun to go to different places. We all had a really good time,” Schirmer said in a telephone interview Aug. 5.

Schirmer competed with the Maryland 4-H Dairy Judging team in Ireland and Scotland for two weeks, from June 18 to July 2. The team won first place when it competed in Ireland. Second place went to Missouri’s 4-H team, and third belonged to Kaskaskia Junior College of Centralia, Ill.

“We were at Ireland’s and Scotland’s equivalent of a fair. It was a little different, but basically still like our fairs at home,” Schirmer said.

The Maryland team was up against more than just other 4-H teams, however. It competed against two Future Farmers of America teams and against a college.

“We were judged on how we placed the cows,” Schirmer said. Essentially, the team members were judged on their ability to judge. “We were asked questions, too, but mainly we were judged on our placement of the cattle.”

The judging was not limited to simply picking the best-looking cow — there were many factors that went into the decision. The process was designed to help competitors develop public speaking skills, analytical skills and a knowledge of cattle breeds.

Becoming a member of the team that would represent Maryland internationally was not an easy process. Each member of the four-person team, which was accompanied overseas by two adults, was asked to participate in a series of dairy cattle competitions. The testing lasted for 11 days at the Maryland State Fair last August.

The final roster for the team included Ian Doody, 17, of Damascus, Julia Doody, 17, also of Damascus, Courtney Hoff, 17, of New Windsor, and Schirmer, the only member to represent the Eastern Shore.

After finishing in the top three at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., the Maryland team was invited to compete in the international Royal Highlands Show, held in Scotland.

It had the invitation, but the team needed the means to get from point A to point B.

“We raised the money ourselves,” Schirmer said. They competed for 4-H, but they did their own fundraising to get to the U.K.

The trip was by no means all work and no play — the group got to tour around a bit and see the sights.

“We went to a lot of different places. It was hard to tell which one I liked the best,” Schirmer said. She mentioned London and Dublin as some of the highlights from their whirlwind tour.

They traveled through some of the historical sites in London, in addition to visiting the countryside of both Ireland and Scotland. They even got to visit Ireland’s Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney stone in hopes of receiving the “gift of gab.” In their off time from competing in Scotland’s capital of Edinburgh, they got to see some of the culture of the city and a lot of kilts.

A Kent County 4-H’er to the end, Schirmer returned from her trip in time to participate in the 2014 Kent County Fair for her final 4-H shows. She leaves 4-H as a distinguished, award-winning participant within many clubs. She spent quite a few years as the junior champion and the senior champion within the dairy cattle shows.

Schirmer began attending Virginia Tech last fall and will return as a rising sophomore this year. She is pursuing an agricultural science major.

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Hidden gem worth exploring

This week, the Sheriff and CCC renewed our love affair with two urban trails in the Glenmore Valley of Kelowna. You can find a complete list in the Pathway and Bicycle Network Map pamphlet published by the City of Kelowna, highly recommended for those who want something better than strolling on an urban sidewalk or the side of the road where there are none.

On the city’s website, kelowna.ca, under Pathways, it says, “Brant’s Creek Linear Park — The crushed asphalt trail meanders through residential and commercial areas linking six neighbourhood parks and the Valley Glen Wetland.

Beginning at Yates and Valley roads, the trail stretches approximately five kilometres north to Milard Glen Park. The trail crosses Glenmore Road at Cross and Biggar roads.

Along the trail you will see Growth, a public art initiative consisting of seven sculptures installed at three different locations.’’

That description doesn’t adequately illustrate what is truly a hidden gem. Brant’s Creek Linear Park also has two different personalities. The northerly section starting at Milard Glen Park winds through the North Glenmore residential area and across several streets — watch for traffic.

The southerly section has a wonderful wilderness feeling at time when the urban setting momentarily disappears. Waterfowl were floating in several ponds and we spotted a deer browsing on a nearby hillside.

And like many trails, it doesn’t look like the same trail when you head in the opposite direction.

Two treats for the price of one. It is a slower meandering trail not really suited for those who have energy to burn and need a long, hard bicycle ride after a stressful day at work.

It is perfect for families who want to get out for a leisurely stroll or cycle before or after dinner or on the weekend.

***

As a result of Thursday’s rain, the Regional District of the Central Okanagan has re-opened several of its regional parks.

They include some of the Sheriff’s and CCC’s favourite regional parks: Hardy Falls, Trepanier Creek Greenway, Coldham Regional Park, Glen Canyon, Kalamoir, Rose Valley, Stephens Coyote Ridge, Scenic Canyon, Mission Creek Greenway phase two, Mission Creek (Sutherland Hills area on the south side of Mission Creek only) and Mill Creek.

Many of these parks that were closed last week due to hot weather and dry conditions are in forested areas with challenging terrain and in close proximity to subdivisions and neighbourhoods. Go online to regionaldistrict.com/pickapark for more information about regional parks.

***

West Kelowna RCMP are advising residents in the Glenrosa area to use caution after a large adult cougar was sighted in the Inverness Road area last week.

RCMP attended, but were advised by the complainant the cat had left his property and headed into Glen Canyon.

Patrols proved negative in locating the animal. BC Conservation Service was advised. A reminder to area residents to be aware when children are playing outside and be mindful of pets that may also be outside. If the cougar is sighted, contact conservation officers as well as West Kelowna RCMP.

***

Close to 1,200 local, national and international triathletes of all ages and stages are competing in the 32nd Pushor Mitchell Apple Triathlon in Kelowna this weekend.

Seven countries will be represented by 32 Elite men and 18 Elite women in Sunday’s ITU 2014 Kelowna PATCO Sprint Triathlon Premium Pan American Cup. Among these athletes will be Canada’s Paula Findlay, 25, the only female athlete to have ever won both the Junior Elite and Elite races at the Pushor Mitchell Apple Triathlon.

Another 740 racers have signed up for the individual age group Sprint and Olympic distances, the Sprint Business Challenge relay and the Olympic relay on Sunday.

Calgary’s Ray Colliver, 81, recipient of the gold medal in the 80-84 age group for the Olympic distance in London, U.K. in the ITU 2013 Grand Final, will be the most senior participant in the Olympic distance race this weekend.

Moving to the Junior Elite events, Calgary’s Russell Pennock, 19, who recently won the Canadian Junior Triathlon Championship title, will be defending his crown in this fourth and final race of the 2014 National Junior Series.

The Junior Elite race, which has 65 athletes registered, is also the B.C. provincial championships. Other signed-up participants for Saturday included 282 youngsters between the ages of eight and 19 for the Kids of Steel and U-16 races. Accepting the challenge of a new sport, 75 athletes will also be doing their first Try-a-Tri and more than 50 swimmers will compete in the 1.5K and 5K Apple Open Water Swim.

The athletes are supported by 1,100 volunteers. More information on the weekend’s events is available at: appletriathlon.com.

***

Autumn is just around the corner so now is the perfect time to get in early and register for fall recreational programs in West Kelowna. Fall is a popular time for recreational programming, and residents have several quick and easy options when it comes to finding and registering for programs.

Register online through West Kelowna’s website, or pick up a copy of the fall recreation guide and sign up in person at the recreation and culture portable, open Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 2760 Cameron Rd. (at the Mount Boucherie Community Centre).

The guide was also sent to homes in the Aug. 7 edition of the Westside Weekly.

Copies may also be found at: Johnson Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre at 3737 Old Okanagan Highway; West Kelowna Municipal Hall at 2760 Cameron Rd.; Sensisyusten Community Centre at 1920 Quail Lane; Webber Road Community Centre at 2829 Inverness Rd.; or Westbank Library at Westridge Shopping Centre, 31—2484 Main St. Call 778-797-8800 if you have questions about programs or to inquire about availability and registration.

***

Pedestrians, cyclists and horseback riders are being urged to ëShare the trail’ on the Mission Creek Greenway.

It’s a 16.5-kilometre, multi-use recreational corridor that certainly sees its share of people each day, said communications officer Bruce Smith with the Regional District of the Central Okanagan.

It’s estimated more than a thousand people use Mission Creek Greenway Regional Park each day.

A few may be on horseback, many more are on foot, either running or walking, and an increasing number of cyclists use the trail for both recreation and as an off-road commuting corridor.

“We see people using the Greenway in a variety of ways. They may be getting their daily exercise, out for a relaxing stroll along the creek or simply getting from point A to B.

“Dog owners will have their pets on leash while others are pushing strollers with infants. During the spring, summer and fall months, there’s a huge increase in the number of people using the Greenway each day.

“As a result of all these various visitors and uses, sometimes there can be near-misses and periodic conflicts,’’ said Smith.

“Our goal is to ensure everyone using the Greenway is aware that they have to ‘Share the trail’ and should be aware of other users around them when they are on the recreational corridor.”

“We’re out each day of the year patrolling sections of the Greenway. From May to September, we have added staff making more frequent daily spot checks, watching for people who may not be aware they are responsible for proper trail etiquette — in order to keep everyone safe,” added parks services bylaw enforcement officer Blaise Laveay.

“Along the Greenway, cyclists shouldn’t go faster than 10 km-h and should keep to the right side of the trail unless they are passing someone on foot. They should also give an indication that they are approaching from behind by ringing a bell, honking a horn or simply vocally acknowledging their passing to the left.

So everyone can share the Greenway, cyclists and pedestrians should yield to horse riders while cyclists should yield to pedestrians. Generally speaking, for their safety, everyone on the trail should be aware of those around them.”

Under the regional parks bylaw, all dogs must be kept on leash and must stay on designated trails.

Animal owners are reminded to pick up waste deposited along the trail. All residents should remember that unauthorized motorized vehicles are not allowed along the Greenway.

***

Garry Norkum, owner of Cyclepath Kelowna, has compiled a list of questions, answers and hints on how to find the right bicycle for you. OK, he got help from the National Bike Dealers Association in the U.S.

— First, give some thought to what kind of riding you want to do, your level of experience and your overall approach to cycling. Why do you want to ride? For fitness? Just for fun? Casually, or seriously? Where do you want to ride? Street, bike trail or off-road? How frequently do you plan to ride?

The more you know what you want, the easier it will be to work with your local bike store to select a bicycle which will best suit your needs.

— Find a good, professional bicycle dealer in your area. Tell the professionals there what your desires are and let them advise you on appropriate bicycles for your needs. Pick a store where you are comfortable, where you are treated with respect and where they listen to you.

Professional bicycle retailers can fit you properly to a bike, assemble it professionally, and give you the kind of advice and continuing service you need to ride safely and comfortably.

Beware of retailers who do not have on-site service departments or do not offer these kinds of services; they may not meet your needs.

— At most bike stores, you’ll probably be seeing these kinds of bicycles:

Mountain bikes: these are rugged bikes for off-road use but many people ride them on pavement as well. Mountain bikes feature fat knobby tires for comfort and traction, flat bars for great control and low gears for easier hill-climbing.

Some mountain bikes have suspension for increased shock absorption. Do you need suspension? It depends on how and where you plan to ride.

Road bikes: these are meant for pavement riding only and are built for speed. They have narrower tires and drop bars for a more aerodynamic position.

Hybrid bikes: these are a cross between mountain bikes and road bikes for the rider who wants to do a little of everything.

Hybrids generally have treaded tires which are narrower than mountain bike tires, flat bars and higher gearing than mountain bikes.

They’re not quite as fast as road bikes on pavement and not quite as rugged as mountain bikes on the road. They’re good for commuting and offer a compromise which appeals to a lot of people.

Cruisers: one-speed or multi-speed, cruisers are for the casual rider who wants to, well, cruise.

Juvenile bikes: these come in many varieties from one-speed cruisers to performance BMX bikes to multi-speed mountain and road bikes.

Comfort bikes: these are specialized mountain bikes or hybrids with more upright riding positions, softer saddles and lower gearing.

They’re built for, as the name implies, comfort, but are also designed to perform well.

Recumbents/tandems/electric assist bikes: there are numerous “niche” bicycles available today. Recumbents allow people to ride in a “recliner-chair” position with feet forward. Tandems allow two riders on a bike.

Also, a number of companies are offering bicycles with electric-assist motors.

— The size of the bicycle is critical for comfortable riding. Work with your retailer to determine the proper size for you. Some bicycle models have eight or more sizes.

The length of your inseam determines the correct frame size in terms of stand-over height. The reach to the bars is also critical for comfort. Ask your bicycle dealer to recommend a proper fit for you based on the kind of riding you’ll be doing. What’s comfortable for one style of rider may not be for another. Like a shirt, fit is very important for comfort and security.

— Buy what you like. Feel good about what you’re buying, how it looks, how it rides. Ask to take a test ride to compare bikes. If you haven’t ridden a dealer-quality bicycle before, be prepared to be surprised at the exceptional value and quality available today.

We also advise if you’re in doubt, buy the slightly better bike. There’s a lot of value in bicycles these days, and a little more money spent can equal significantly improved performance and resale value.

— Ask the bike store for advice on things you may not understand, such as quick-release operation, shifting, braking, maintenance, etc. If you want to find other local cyclists in your area to ride with, ask the shop for reference to clubs or organized rides. Be sure to receive an owner’s manual with the bicycle and read it. Owner’s manuals contain valuable information to help make your experience safer and more fun.

— Ask for advice on other equipment you may need or want. Buy a helmet first and wear it. There are many other products which can enhance the riding experience. There are numerous books and magazines available to help you educate yourself about the nuances of cycling.

—Have fun, and ask your bike retailer if you have problems or questions.

If you’re not receiving the kind of service you want, look for another retailer.

There are 5,300 specialty bike stores in the United States (and many across Canada) and the vast majority serve their customers with dedication and flair. When you find one, that store can be your greatest ally for enjoying the cycling experience.

J.P. Squire, a.k.a. the hiking, biking, kayaking and horseback riding Sheriff, is an avid outdoors enthusiast. His column

appears every weekend.

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