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A Designer’s Quick Guide to Being a Designer

What I’ve found is that most people’s idea of a graphic designer is someone who pretends to work hard; wears overly skinny jeans, rides a fixed gear bike, and obsesses over Bastille’s Dan Smith. In other words, someone who has it very easy and farts around a lot. The truth is, graphic designers are a very diverse bunch and more importantly, designers are constantly being pushed and expected to do more in their roles.

If you’re about to start out in a career as a designer, read on for my two cents’ worth…

Tools of the trade

Let’s start off easy shall we? As this is a tech-facing blog it’s only right that we address this section first. The cost of a computer good enough to meet your needs is pretty bloody expensive and as most designers gravitate towards Apple, buying anything other than a Mac will make you feel dirty (cognitive bias at play). Could you do the same job on a PC as you could on an Apple? You certainly can (with just a little more elbow grease than is required on a Mac). Does every designer know this? They sure do. But this does not stop designers up and down the land consuming Apple goods in the pursuit of a better end product.

So what we’ve gathered so far is that hardware is quite costly, but we haven’t even got to the real eye-watering part of your arsenal: software. Ever looked at how much it costs to rent the Adobe Creative Suite? It boggles the mind that Adobe requires £27.34 a month for a collection of programs. That’s £328.08 a year, and that’s just Adobe. Even with discounts the cost of software is unreal and a real barrier to students wanting to learn the tools of their future trade. Some people may be saying that you don’t need the whole creative suite to do your job. True in some cases but to make it in a career as a designer you need to be flexible, which leads us on to…

Flexibility

Being flexible in your position is key to mastering a design job. No longer are designers just required to design. Being a designer now means you’ve also got to be an illustrator, photographer, web developer, videographer and in direct reference to my job — business ideas generator, events organiser, general handy-man, and driver. If designers were an animal we’d all be octopuses with tentacles in varying flavours. The huge problem with all of this? It’s easy to become good at lots of things but never become great. In terms of keeping up to date with programs, I haven’t learned much more since the CS3 days and can still quite confidently take on most projects. But keeping up to date on current design trends is a lot harder.

Now I’m sure you’d imagine with such a large skill set to keep on top of, it’ll be difficult to keep up to date and relevant. It is quite honestly a constant struggle, but one I try to steer well clear of. There are designers that immerse themselves in the most up-to-date trends in fashion and music to try and get a grasp of the latest design ideas (even though they are deep into their 30s).

In my opinion it’s best to forget all of that and just work from a basic set of fundamentals that that will ultimately get you through the entirety of your design career. Believe it or not, on a weekly basis when collecting adverts for the magazines I’m putting together, it’s usually the big London agencies that continue to give me adverts that are either a wrong size, have no bleed or are riddled with RGB images. You can have all the up-to-date knowledge on design trends while sporting your vintage clothes and stroking your beard, but if you can’t even complete a very basic requirement of your job you’ll quickly become less trusted and your reputation tarnished.

Look around you at what other designers are working on, learn what’s hot and what’s not but never be afraid to have your own opinion. If you hate something that everyone creams over, congratulations, you’ve taken an important step in securing your own unique personality in design.

Will there be designers reading this that disagree?

I hope so!

What makes me an expert on this subject?

Not a thing — in fact, I’m pretty average. But if a bog-standard designer like myself can see the wood for the trees, I’m sure you will carve a path through your career and reach the same conclusion as I have: Don’t sit on your arse in an office all your life; for real inspiration you’ve got to take a walk outside once in a while.

Oxford-based Rob Scotcher is a graphic designer but also photographer, cake-eater, and lover of climbing trees, snowboarding, quad-biking and gadgets. Follow him on Twitter here.

Spiels From “Them Below” is our new series of columns written by “them below”: the thousands of readers who comment tirelessly, or tirelessly read, Gizmodo UK. Have you got something to lament? Extol? Ponder? Get in touch at kat.hannaford[at]futurenet.com, after reading the details here. Disclaimer: content in Spiels From “Them Below” doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of Gizmodo UK or its editors.

Image Credit: Designer from Shutterstock

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Biking’s benefits still outweigh risks

AUSTIN, Texas Add this to the debate over the health risks of cycling: A new study shows a link between prostate cancer and older men who spend a lot of time riding a bike.

But before you quit your bike, let’s talk.

The good news first. The study, by scientists at University College London and published in the July edition of the Journal of Men’s Health, found no link between cycling time and erectile dysfunction or infertility. Smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, inactivity and age all had a lot more to do with those problems than did cycling.

The study did, though, show an increase in the risk of prostate cancer in men over age 50, especially those who cycled more than 8.5 hours a week.

The University College London study surveyed more than 5,000 male cyclists, including 2,000 who were older than 50, from 2012 to 2013.

Fewer than 1 per cent of the men included in the study reported a prostate cancer diagnosis — but almost 3.5 per cent of the men over age 50 who biked more than 8.5 hours reported they had prostate cancer. Only about 0.6 per cent of those who biked less than 3.45 hours reported a prostate cancer diagnosis.

The study looked to make sure the increased rates weren’t due to the older cyclists getting more health checkups; they were not.

Even so, the benefits of cycling outweigh the risk of prostate cancer as long as you take a few precautions, says Austin oncologist Dr. Russ Hoverman, 69. Hoverman gave up running because of bad knees and now logs between 60 and 120 miles a week on his bike. Even after reading the new study he says he has no plans to cut down on his riding, which keeps him fit, clears his mind and gives him some quiet time to solve problems.

And that makes sense. Cycling, like other forms of exercise, can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. It can help you control your weight, and being fit just plain feels good.

The problems with prolonged cycling come mainly from repeated pounding, pressure and compression of the prostate gland, which lies only a few centimetres below the surface. That can cause discomfort or numbness — and maybe more serious issues.

Still, Hoverman says, “bike riding on average is probably a plus. The thing bikers really have to worry about is crashes.”

Much broader studies — including one from the U.K. that encompassed 5 million subjects over seven years — have shown that people who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of many types of cancer, including kidney, thyroid, liver and colon.

Hoverman says the link the study found between prostate cancer and bicycle riding surprised him. But, he added, the relatively small study was not definitive. It was based on self-reported data, and even its authors noted that more research is needed.

“Nobody has looked at causation. The nature of this study shows it might not even be correct,” Hoverman says. “You never know in a voluntary study what makes people want to respond. There are too many unknowns.”

Still, he says, it makes sense to take a few precautions. Pay attention while you ride — if you feel numbness, tingling or pain, take a break. Look for cycling gear that’s easy on the anatomy (more about that in the list below), and avoid riding on rough surfaces. Talk to your doctor about whether you should have a prostate cancer test.

The take-away is pretty simple.

“If you’re uncomfortable on the bike, you probably need to do something about it,” Hoverman says.

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A Designer’s Quick Guide on Being a Designer

What I’ve found is that most people’s idea of a graphic designer is someone who pretends to work hard; wears overly skinny jeans, rides a fixed gear bike, and obsesses over Bastille’s Dan Smith. In other words, someone who has it very easy and farts around a lot. The truth is, graphic designers are a very diverse bunch and more importantly, designers are constantly being pushed and expected to do more in their roles.

If you’re about to start out in a career as a designer, read on for my two cents’ worth…

Tools of the trade

Let’s start off easy shall we? As this is a tech-facing blog it’s only right that we address this section first. The cost of a computer good enough to meet your needs is pretty bloody expensive and as most designers gravitate towards Apple, buying anything other than a Mac will make you feel dirty (cognitive bias at play). Could you do the same job on a PC as you could on an Apple? You certainly can (with just a little more elbow grease than is required on a Mac). Does every designer know this? They sure do. But this does not stop designers up and down the land consuming Apple goods in the pursuit of a better end product.

So what we’ve gathered so far is that hardware is quite costly, but we haven’t even got to the real eye-watering part of your arsenal: software. Ever looked at how much it costs to rent the Adobe Creative Suite? It boggles the mind that Adobe requires £27.34 a month for a collection of programs. That’s £328.08 a year, and that’s just Adobe. Even with discounts the cost of software is unreal and a real barrier to students wanting to learn the tools of their future trade. Some people may be saying that you don’t need the whole creative suite to do your job. True in some cases but to make it in a career as a designer you need to be flexible, which leads us on to…

Flexibility

Being flexible in your position is key to mastering a design job. No longer are designers just required to design. Being a designer now means you’ve also got to be an illustrator, photographer, web developer, videographer and in direct reference to my job — business ideas generator, events organiser, general handy-man, and driver. If designers were an animal we’d all be octopuses with tentacles in varying flavours. The huge problem with all of this? It’s easy to become good at lots of things but never become great. In terms of keeping up to date with programs, I haven’t learned much more since the CS3 days and can still quite confidently take on most projects. But keeping up to date on current design trends is a lot harder.

Now I’m sure you’d imagine with such a large skill set to keep on top of, it’ll be difficult to keep up to date and relevant. It is quite honestly a constant struggle, but one I try to steer well clear of. There are designers that immerse themselves in the most up-to-date trends in fashion and music to try and get a grasp of the latest design ideas (even though they are deep into their 30s).

In my opinion it’s best to forget all of that and just work from a basic set of fundamentals that that will ultimately get you through the entirety of your design career. Believe it or not, on a weekly basis when collecting adverts for the magazines I’m putting together, it’s usually the big London agencies that continue to give me adverts that are either a wrong size, have no bleed or are riddled with RGB images. You can have all the up-to-date knowledge on design trends while sporting your vintage clothes and stroking your beard, but if you can’t even complete a very basic requirement of your job you’ll quickly become less trusted and your reputation tarnished.

Look around you at what other designers are working on, learn what’s hot and what’s not but never be afraid to have your own opinion. If you hate something that everyone creams over, congratulations, you’ve taken an important step in securing your own unique personality in design.

Will there be designers reading this that disagree?

I hope so!

What makes me an expert on this subject?

Not a thing — in fact, I’m pretty average. But if a bog-standard designer like myself can see the wood for the trees, I’m sure you will carve a path through your career and reach the same conclusion as I have: Don’t sit on your arse in an office all your life; for real inspiration you’ve got to take a walk outside once in a while.

Oxford-based Rob Scotcher is a graphic designer but also photographer, cake-eater, and lover of climbing trees, snowboarding, quad-biking and gadgets. Follow him on Twitter here.

Spiels From “Them Below” is our new series of columns written by “them below”: the thousands of readers who comment tirelessly, or tirelessly read, Gizmodo UK. Have you got something to lament? Extol? Ponder? Get in touch at kat.hannaford[at]futurenet.com, after reading the details here. Disclaimer: content in Spiels From “Them Below” doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of Gizmodo UK or its editors.

Image Credit: Designer from Shutterstock

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Issue 92′s Sneak Peek! – UK Adventure: Trail Centre Zero.

As it’s nearly the weekend, we thought we’d give you a nice bit of reading from the upcoming new issue of Singletrack. It’s currently at the printers and should be landing on doormats early next week in all its inky glory, so if you’ve not already ordered your copydo it now!

UK Adventure: Trail Centre Zero.

The rebirth of Coed y Brenin.

Words and photos by Chipps.

Back in 1995, there was no such thing as a British mountain bike trail centre. There was barely such thing as a marked mountain bike route, outside of a tour of the fire roads. But in late 1996, the UK’s first dedicated, public, free, legal and purpose-built mountain bike trail opened at Coed y Brenin, a quiet forest park in North Wales.

Coed Y Brenin_190814 (11)
Since then, the mountain bike landscape in the UK has changed forever and trail centres have become as much a part of the mountain bike scene as dedicated ski-resorts have to skiing.

Coed y Brenin was the first place of its kind and its success snowballed at an incredible rate. Land managers and tourist boards from across the UK saw a huge influx of big-spending mountain bikers going to North Wales and took the idea back to where they lived, using Coed y Brenin’s example to get funding to build their own trails. These areas used Coed y Brenin’s stone-pitched trails as inspiration, but improved both the riding and the infrastructure, adding skills areas, berms and bacon sandwiches to the mix.

Coed Y Brenin_190814 (10)

It looked like Coed y Brenin might sink back into obscurity…

It then seemed that CyB got a little left behind as riders were distracted by the swooping jumps of Spooky Woods in Glentress and the singletrack climbs of Glyncorrwyg’s Wall, as well as a dozen other centres around the country. Even as little as five years ago, it looked like Coed y Brenin might sink back into obscurity, overtaken by the new centres built on the coat-tails of Coed y Brenin’s success but with major population centres and motorway corridors on their doorsteps. Snowdonia is a hard area to get to; it’s sparsely populated and there’s no denying that the mountain biking there is hard work. Other trail centres had smoother, more flattering trails, easier access and could be reached in an hour or so by millions of people.

Coed Y Brenin_190814 (7)
However, a few years ago, we started hearing stories of major new sections of trails being built in the forest and others being sympathetically renovated. Over a period of three or four years, the place has been expanded, improved and brought up to date, to the point that riders who’ve not visited for a few years have been shocked and surprised on their return.

The way-back machine.

Sian and Dafydd Roberts will always be inextricably linked with Coed y Brenin. Back in the early 1990s, when both were successful racers, they worked at Beics Betws, a bike shop in nearby Betws-y-Coed. The Forestry Commission asked them if they’d like to start hiring mountain bikes in the forest, in an attempt to boost visitor numbers. Those numbers were so low (under about 15,000 a year) that Coed y Brenin was on the verge of losing its ‘forest park’ status and being forced to go back to being a commercial harvesting forest again.

Coed Y Brenin_190814 (18)
Since the early 1990s there had been some singletrack trails in the forest used by riders and for local races, built by the North Wales Mountain Bike Association but not widely known. Dafydd Davis, a Forestry Commission Ranger for the park, started trying to promote Coed y Brenin to the wider mountain bike community in an attempt to lure more riders to the area.

The Forestry Commission was largely disinterested, but Sian brought in Patrick Adams to the project, now best known as the organiser of Mountain Mayhem but then closely involved with a new brand called Red Bull which was keen to further itself in the action sports world. Somehow Red Bull was persuaded to put up some money for trail materials and signage and the Red Bull trail was created.

Coed Y Brenin_200814 (28)

We rejoiced in the fact that this trail was just for mountain bikers…

To get an idea of what an impact this first trail made, consider this: it was about seven miles long and took just over an hour to ride for most people – and yet riders were driving from as far away as London, Bristol and Glasgow to do a lap, passing iconic natural riding on the way. It wasn’t even all singletrack, starting with a seemingly endless fire road climb and then progressing through a terrifying tumble of relatively short singletrack sections armoured with intimidating Welsh rock, another climb and then more singletrack before popping out at the visitor centre for cheese on toast and a coffee. It’s hard to see the appeal now, but back then we rejoiced in the fact that this trail was just for mountain bikers; we could ride it as fast as our RockShox Judy forks could carry us without getting lost, having to get a map out or bumping into irate dog walkers. The other defining feature was that the trails were truly weatherproof – you could ride there in the pouring rain and not end up hub-deep in a bog.

Coed Y Brenin_190814 (14)
By the turn of the century, the Red Bull trail had been joined by the Karrimor and mbr trails. The car park was extended, then extended again. In the Foot and Mouth lockdown of 2001, Coed y Brenin was one of the first places to reopen because of its self-contained nature. Riders continued to come from all over; riding a couple of trails on the Saturday, staying in nearby Dolgellau and then doing a quick lap of the Red Bull before heading home on the Sunday. It seemed that a mountain bike centre of excellence had been created.

The time of distraction.

However, by 2001, a trail centre had also opened in Afan Forest Park in South Wales. Soon, the trail crews started work at Glentress, Dalbeattie and other locations in Scotland. Trails appeared at Nant yr Arian and Cwmcarn, as well as nearby Llandegla and Betws-y-Coed. The trail centre was now ‘a thing’.

Coed Y Brenin_200814 (30)
Many of Coed y Brenin’s early trails were initially built with raw manpower; sometimes RAF officer-training exercises, sometimes volunteer groups, often BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) groups. Work could be painstakingly slow, especially given the boggy (and midgey) nature of the forested hillsides. By contrast, the new generation of European-funded trail centres were able to use contractors with machines, greatly speeding up the trailbuilding process.

Coed Y Brenin_200814 (17)

This corner of North Wales only had its reputation.

By the mid ’00s, it seemed that Coed y Brenin was lagging behind in terms of excitement and contemporary trail design. And while there had been money to initially build Coed y Brenin’s trails, little was put aside for their ongoing maintenance. Slowly, parts of the Karrimor, Red Bull and mbr trails eroded from red grade riding to flowless blacks.

Ironically, those tough and tricky reds were another issue that hampered Coed y Brenin. It only had trails for experienced mountain bikers and not much for anyone else. Great for mountain bikers riding the first wave of the sport’s popularity, but after ten years, not a great place for them to bring their new-to-riding partners, or children, to ride.

Coed Y Brenin_190814 (6)
The new £1.6 million visitor centre opened across the road from the old centre in the middle of 2006. The rather tired-looking original trails were all rerouted to start and finish there, which did require some new linking trails to be built. The trailheads gained funky artwork, new names and cute trail markers, but still the draw of Glentress was stronger. Glentress had berms and jumps and drops. It had a remarkably fun blue trail, some very natural-feeling rides and some expert-only trails. This corner of North Wales only had its reputation.

Turning the supertanker.

Behind the scenes, though, things were happening. New trails need funding and that funding takes time to apply for and secure. By the time that Andy Braund, the current Coed y Brenin Ranger, started work in 2009, a year’s worth of work had already gone into planning the next chapter. It was recognised that the area desperately needed a blue grade trail and a really good skills area. The tiny bike shop, Beics Brenin, needed more room. The mechanics had to literally unpack their workshop every morning and spread hire bikes and incoming jobs outside in order to have room to work. An extension to the existing centre was planned, with meeting rooms and the kind of spaces that council officers like justifying, but it would come with a large new downstairs area for a bike shop too.

Coed Y Brenin_190814 (1)
Andy was constantly reminded by the centre staff that Coed y Brenin was more than just a mountain bike centre. There were walking trails, a playground and a couple of running trails too. But it needed the popularity of a successful mountain bike centre to get the buzz going that would keep the regular tourists coming to visit.

Messing with our trails.

There wasn’t a single bermed corner in Coed y Brenin’s three original trails. There were few (intentional) drop-offs, and little flow. Some early trails had unintentionally been built right over public footpaths. All of them were rock-armoured in defiance of the wet weather; built to resist water, rather than more modern (and less noticeable) trail design methods that keep water off the trail in the first place. In fact Andy is proud of some of the early trails still in use: “A lot of stuff in the forest is real classic ‘retro’ trail centre.” Retro – that’s how old some of those trails now are.

Coed Y Brenin_200814 (23)

Workers who were as handy at spotting a sweet line as they were with a digger’s bucket.

He presided over a long-term plan to improve some of the singletrack. ‘Adam and Eve’ was a new section built early in Andy’s reign, in order to bypass a footpath. Given its position right next to a forest road, it was easy enough to sculpt this new trail with machines and so a pump track-style section was created. At the time, there was confusion and consternation among riders. Why replace tricky singletrack, an hour’s ride into the forest, with whoopy motorway? All new trails show their scars too visibly though and now, a few years later, it’s a smooth, narrow and eagerly anticipated part of the trail.

Coed Y Brenin_200814 (15)
New sections of trail popped up; other sections were fixed and redesigned to deal better with water. Some were quietly retired. This was all done by the growing band of mountain bike-specific trailbuilding contractors – workers who were as handy at spotting a sweet line as they were with a digger’s bucket. There are even berms to be found on the trails of Coed y Brenin now.

Getting blue.

The new MinoTaur trail was built over a couple of years to be wide, smooth and fun; a true-blue beginners’ trail – and also one that was wide and shallow enough to accommodate mountain bike wheelchairs and other adaptive machines. Yet it was still flowy enough to appeal as a gentle warm-up loop for experienced riders, too. Ten kilometres in length, it was a major part of the half a million pounds of European money that had been applied for before Andy joined. The other major spend was in developing the Foundry skills area.

Coed Y Brenin_200814 (26)
The Foundry was designed to have sample trails of all the different grades you’d find deeper in the woods. A rider could try an easy green or blue grade trail and see about tackling a red or a black before committing to a big loop in the forest. The Foundry has several different sets of these graded trails, plus a downhill pump track and a couple of try out/show off areas like the Lemming Stone – a rocky drop into a graded, shallow bowl that flatters bad landings. There are also a couple of features harder than anything you can – currently – find out in the woods. Perhaps a sign of things to come… And all of this can be ridden within sight of the car park.

You’re my only hope.

I’ve been to Coed y Brenin several times in the last year now, having drifted away from it over the years. Every time I go, I find something there that delights me: whether it’s trying the skills area, or enjoying the new, smoother, faster sections of the classic trails.

Coed Y Brenin_190814

It seems that there’s a buzz in the forest again.

There are already young kids turning up, week after week, to play in the Foundry. There are hordes of school children on hire bikes, rented from the new, extensive bike shop – still run by Beics Brenin. There are families on bikes and enduro types in full faces and pads. Even Dan Atherton’s bought a house not that far away. There are local, bike-specific bed and breakfasts and guiding companies. There are even venison burgers in the cafe, made from the forest’s deer. The old bike shop is now a trail running shop, with shelves of off-road shoes to try before you buy. And the other riding in the area has had a boost too: Betws y Coed has been revamped, Penmachno has some new surprises and there’s Antur Stiniog just up the road for a day out on the big(ger) bike.

Coed Y Brenin_200814 (27)
It seems that there’s a buzz in the forest again. A visit to the, long-disused, old visitor centre on the other side of the road shows what might have happened if things had gone differently. Brambles now grow wild in the car park. Some of the less popular older trails grow green with moss (and yet still ride perfectly). If Coed y Brenin had rested much longer on its laurels of being ‘Trail Centre Zero’, as someone put it, then it might have all been quietly swallowed up by the forest, remaining known only to the locals.

Coed Y Brenin_200814 (14)
Now though, the trails there seem built for modern mountain biking; custom-made for trail bikes and riders with a few more skills than we used to have back then. There are berms and drops, narrow slivers of brown singletrack in mature green woods and everywhere there’s that hard, intimidating Welsh rock.

Although, perhaps, it now seems a tiny bit more welcoming.

Coed Y Brenin_190814 (23)
Thanks to: Andy Braund, Joe Hayward, Steve, Tegid, Reece, Ben Washington, Sian and Dafydd Roberts (and Racsyn) at oldskool-mtb.co.uk

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Richard Hammond ‘escapes TWO motorbike crashes’ – eight years after near …

“It has given me the opportunity to repair the old thing and re-engage with it financially, showing my appreciation for what a tremendous machine it is.”

Speaking about his love of the road, and specifically his motorbike, he previously said: “I love biking, always have.

“I love being alone on the bike, looking at things as I pass and knowing I could touch them, that I am amongst them.”

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Saddle up for the Tour of Britain! Borough’s biggest ever sporting event …

History will be made in Dacorum tomorrow as the borough welcomes some of the planet’s top cyclists when the Tour of Britain pedals to town.

It will be the first time the town has bid to host a stage of the event, which is the country’s largest cycle race and also the biggest free-to-spectate sporting event held in the United Kingdom.

The race began on Sunday in Liverpool and finishes this Sunday in London.

The sixth stage, beginning in Bath on Friday morning, is expected to wheel into the borough through Berkhamsted in the afternoon, following a route through Potten End and finishing alongside Hemel Hempstead’s Gadebridge Park between 3pm and 4pm.

The borough itself will get a starring role in the spectacle with live coverage on ITV4 – and all the action will be shown from giant screens erected in the park.

At just over 200 kilometres, the stage will be one of the longest of this year’s Tour, with several testing climbs taken on by the 120 cyclists.

The cyclists – which include top British names Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish –will be travelling at speeds of around 45mph on the straight, and it is estimated that it will take them only 20 minutes to reach the finish from Berkhamsted.

Cycle sprinter Cavendish, who is considered to be the fastest road cyclist in the world, told the Tour website: “I’m racing this week because this is my national Tour, Britain’s big race, and I always want to support it when I can.”

Police convoys will lead the sportsmen through Dacorum during the race.

This will lead to rolling road closures and lack of access to main roads including the Leighton Buzzard Road in Hemel Hempstead, which will be closed from 8pm on Thursday, September 11 to 6am on Saturday, September 13.

The closure will affect the stretch of the road between the roundabout between the Link Road and Galley Hill, and the roundabout linking Queensway and Warners End Road.

The rolling road closures will take place from 2pm to 4pm and will last around 30 minutes each. Diversions will be signposted and drivers are advised to plan their journeys in advance to avoid the disruption.

Additionally, the main Gadebridge Park car park, off Leighton Buzzard Road, will be closed from Wednesday evening until late on Friday September, though parking will be available in Marchmont Fields, the Water Gardens and town centre shopping centres Marlowes and Riverside.

For more about road closures, click here.

Even for those not interested in cycling, the Tour’s trip through Dacorum has provided a host of opportunities.

Borough-based businesses have been given the chance to purchase invaluable sponsorship packages, giving their names nationwide coverage as cyclists zoom by.

Also lining the route will be more than 300 metres of bunting created by knitters from the area, who’ve been busy making hundreds of mini cycle jerseys out of wool. It is expected the bunting will be auctioned off for charity after the race.

The day is hoped to be full of fun for all ages with a craft and trade fair in the park, which will also feature a stall by the Gadebridge Splash Park campaign group who will be selling wristbands and hosting a fundraising raffle.

There will also be a range of organised cycling activities for anyone who gets the biking bug, as well as a children’s funfair and an array of food and drink.

If you’re unable to make it on the day, catch the sights of Dacorum live on TV.

For full details on the Tour’s visit from the Council website, click here.

For more on the Tour of Britiain, click here.

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Invictus Games 2014: meet the heroes

“I asked one of the surgeons whether I could try cycling as I wouldn’t be
putting as much weight on the leg, and he gave me the go-ahead. At first I
would go round the park with my crutches strapped to the handlebars, so
slowly that people were walking past me. As I got my strength up I could put
my youngest daughter, who’s nine now, into a trailer and pull her along
behind me.

“Last year I set up Military
Mountain Bikers
, to give other injured or sick soldiers the chance
to do what I’ve done. Now I do that full-time and employ a couple of other
guys in Lancashire, where I live, with funding from Help
for Heroes
. The Invictus Games are so important because, like the
biking, they’re accessible: everyone can come down and have a go.”

Xavier Le Draoulec, 53

Competing for France in track and field, and swimming

“I joined the army when I was 17 and was deployed to Lebanon, where I stepped
on a mine and lost my left leg. I spent two years in and out of hospital,
ending up with a prosthetic limb, but afterwards I asked to rejoin my
regiment. I was deployed abroad again – I served in Kosovo – then worked
training new recruits in France. Now I work as a sports teacher in Fréjus,
on the Côte d’Azur.

“I’ve competed in the Paralympic Games, in Sydney and Athens: I won medals
with the [athletics] relay team and also did pentathlon and long jump. Of
course it was amazing to do that, but there wasn’t the same sense of
fraternity that you get in the army and that there will be at the Invictus
Games. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been injured in the field or injured
at home – like my French teammate Phillippe Robert, who also worked in the
military and lost his leg in a car accident outside Paris.

“Invictus means ‘unconquered’. That’s us. There are no losers; we’ve all had
things to overcome and survived. But of course I would like to win in
London.”

Jacob Emmott, 25

Competing for USA in archery and swimming

“I was working as a medic in the Marine Corps in Helmand Province in 2010 when
we were shot at, with two casualties. I was treating the second casualty
when I was shot in the face: the bullet came in through my right nostril and
out just behind my left ear, but somehow I survived. I was looking up at the
sky when another Marine came up to me and said, ‘You’ve been shot, what do I
do?’ He had no idea because I was the one supposed to be treating people.

“I talked the Marine through how to treat a head wound and I was led up onto a
helicopter. It was the week of the Icelandic Volcano eruption which was
grounding flights across Europe, so I was treated all over the place: in
Iraq, in Germany, then the States. I have no recollection now of those first
couple of weeks, because of what I later learned was Post-Traumatic Amnesia.

“My brain was so swollen they had to remove part of my skull and replace it
with titanium. The part of the brain which processes speech was damaged, so
I’ve had years in speech therapy. I also had a very hard time with my
balance, though my biggest issue is with migraines, which I used to have to
the point of vomiting. They are ongoing; every day my head is sore.

“I fought hard for three years to get back to full duty, but it never
happened. There’s nothing I would love more than to get back out there, but
these games are the next best thing. I’m officially retired from the army
now so I have every excuse just to stay in bed at home in Rhode Island, but
that’s not how you get better. The Invictus Games are another reason to
recover.”

Martyn, Xavier and Jacob were competiting in the Jaguar Land Rover Driving
Challenge ahead of the Invictus Games’ opening ceremony on Wednesday 10
September. For tickets to any of the events, visit invictusgames.org

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