• Who's who

    Ben Irvine - Editor. Ben has cycled in London since he was a kid growing up in the East End. He is the founder of Oldspeak Publishing, and a philosopher/writer/one of these with a PhD from Cambridge University. He is passionate about the idea of creating a tube-style London Cycle Map.


    Rebecca Watts - Assistant Editor. Becca applies her natural talent for pedantry to every word of everything, and experiences palpitations when she recalls the rogue full stop that crept into issue 3 when she was off-duty (Ben’s fault entirely). Since working on the magazine she’s fully embraced the cycle lifestyle and considers her new head torch to be the pinnacle of sophistication.


    John Haste - Illustrator/designer. Jon produces illustrations from his home in Stoke Newington, East London, under the name KOLB, and spends his time creating images for editorial work, bands and clothing. He's also a pretty keen cyclist and, as well as enjoying the deserved popularity of cycling in the area, he often pushes out a little further a field. "I've got Kent, Essex, Suffolk and Surrey all an hour or so's ride from my front door" says Jon, "so the wider advantages of enjoying cycling in London are incredible!". You can see some of Jon's work at www.kolbillustration.com

    Julia Powles - Technology Reviewer. Julia is based in the British cycling capital, Cambridge, where she spends her days thinking about innovation, technology, law and policy and conjuring grand schemes.  She rides a sleek all-black Cannondale Bad Boy with a garish frog bell. 



    Cathy Bussey - Writer. Cathy is a writer and journalist living in South London, and a regular contributor to Cycle Lifestyle. She uses her bike both as a means of transport and a hobby, and can occasionally be seen cycling to a coastal destination overnight dressed in bright pink. Her first book is due to be published in 2011.



    Dominic Tyerman - Webdesign. Dom provides freelance technical support to a range of organisations - as a producer for Jazz FM, a webdesign and business support officer to E-Government Networks, and the tireless manager of Cycle Lifestyle's online presence. Born in Yorkshire, now an honorary Londoner, Dom looks like Pete Doherty but is a very good boy.


    Gareth Jenkins - Writer. Gareth cycles 24 miles a day, to and from work in the West End - all as a result of Cycle Lifestyle’s Give it a Go. Still being relatively new to cycling he approaches it with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a novice. “I love how cycling has completely changed my approach to life", says Gaz. "Riding to work is possibly the most grownup thing you can decide do, yet everyday being out in the fresh air, I feel like a kid again".


    Elizabeth Hunter - Writer. An exciting new talent for the winter issue of Cycle Lifestyle, coming soon, Liz is a writer and blogger living in North London. She cycles everywhere for the sheer joy of it and writes stories about the things she sees along the way. You can read more of her bike-based escapades at thetrustysteed.blogspot.com  or follow her on twitter: @girlandsteed.


    Adam Copeland - Writer. Adam is is deputy editor of sister publication 4x4 Lifestyle, and loathes London's cyclists with a passion he barely conceals in his column. He funds his collection of beautiful but environmentally disastrous Hummers by working as a TV producer and writer.


    Kev Levell - Illustrator. Kev used to design the toys that fell out of cereal packets. Shortly before the economy collapsed he decided to take a leap of faith and follow his boyhood dreams - he is now a freelance illustrator, comic artist and designer. He lives in Cambridge with his wife and a growing collection of published works. For more about Kev please visit his blog kevlev.blogspot.com or his website www.kevlev.co.uk.

  • Testimonials

    Leading figures give their thoughts on the London Cycle Map Campaign:


    "I lived in London for nearly a decade – the 90s – and rode a bicycle almost everyday. I invested a lot of time and ardour in finding the best routes across the city – the safest thoroughfares, the shortcuts and back alleys, the one-ways and parks that turned a simple bike ride into a gift. I remember how hard that knowledge was won. There weren’t many regular cyclists to compare trip notes with then. I kept studying the A-Z; I kept taking wrong turnings on purpose; I kept on nosing down the dead ends.

    "The knowledge did come, though. And through it, through seeing every common and cemetery, every allotment and every sweeping cityscape, I came to love a place I’d always expected to hate. I’m a country boy, really. And now I’m back in the country. I moved to the Black Mountains, in south-east Wales, eight years ago.

    "Now, I return to London regularly, on the train, with my bicycle in the guard’s van on the Great Western service from Swansea. Each time, I set off blindly from Paddington to Kentish Town or Dalston, Southwark or Soho. And each time, I seem to come unstuck. I arrive at a junction I know well… only to realise I’m lost. The knowledge is fading. Holes are appearing in my subconscious street map of the city – partly because I’m getting old, and partly because I don’t ink over the routes often enough anymore.

    "This is why I believe the London Cycle Map is such a good idea. Clear, well-signed routes would be easy to follow. It would be a huge boon not just for me, but for anyone bringing a bike to London. Who knows, it might even encourage a few more people onto two wheels as well." Robert Penn, author of 'It's All About the Bike'.


    "On behalf of the GeoVation judging panel, we are pleased to support the quest to transform the London Cycle Map vision into a reality with funding from the Technology Strategy Board and the Department for Transport. It was one of six winners of the recent transport challenge and was one of the judges' favourite innovations. We were particularly impressed with the tenacity and determination of the team, and whilst there are still clearly barriers to overcome, it is very timely given the recently launched cycle hire scheme and cycling superhighways in London." Roland Harwood, Chair, Ordnance Survey GeoVation Judging Panel


    Most world cycling cities agree that the network approach to promoting cycling through safe, continuous and easy-to-follow routes is the most effective. There are currently several different cycling networks being developed in London, all with their own branding, scope and design details. Parker’s plan is to date the most effective method of uniting these approaches into one easily understandable and usable mapping system.

    "There has been a debate raging in London for several years now amongst cycle planners about route signing strategies and ‘way-finding’. I hope we can find solutions and consistency soon in order to help the growing number of cyclists plan their routes more effectively. I personally support all efforts made by dedicated cycling enthusiasts to improve the level of service for cyclists. Most of us who have been involved in cycle planning for many years started out as enthusiasts or lobbyists ourselves. My views may not necessarily be supported by the organisations I work for, but no one has shown me a more elegant solution than Parker’s, and I would be delighted to be instructed to help make this system happen.” Brian Deegan, LCN Development Manager.


     "I was one of two surveyors who created the original LCC/TfL cycle map series a decade or so ago, and I think Simon Parker's map really builds on that - an excellent bit of work." David Henshaw


    "This would be really helpful for those of us who visit London and wish to find our way around by bicycle. A great alternative to carrying a dozen maps and trying to look at these in all weathers." Andy Hunter, StoryBikes Director


    “At Planet Organic we encourage healthy eating as part of a healthy lifestyle. But it’s not just what you buy in the shops that counts, it’s how you get there. Cycling is a great way to get your shopping done, helping you to burn a few calories and get out in the fresh air. The London Cycle Map Campaign is a wonderful idea for giving more Londoners the confidence to get out and about on their bikes. It’s one thing cycling a short local journey in London, with local knowledge, but when it comes to making longer journeys by bicycle there’s a huge need for a tube-style cycle network to guide people safely, simply and quickly from one part of the capital to another. We’ve been huge supporters of Cycle Lifestyle magazine since it hit the streets in 2009 to much acclaim, and we’re proud to say we back the London Cycle Map Campaign.” Peter Marsh, Planet Organic CEO


    "Supporting the London Cycle Map Campaign is a no brainer. Commuters are fast realising that the London Underground is not the best way to get around the capital. The bicycle is what is going to get smog-and-congestion-infested London out of trouble and a London Cycle Map will help the bulk of the cyclists in the capital to find their way around. It is movements such as these that will ultimately help people to change their perception on how they should commute." David Farr, NipNip Electric Bikes Director


    "The London Cycle Map is surely one of the best ideas for getting people on their bikes. Once they are on their bikes the "enthusiasm" for cycling is really likely to take hold! It's a great idea waiting to happen, lets hope it does!" Tom Philips, Spanish Road Cycling Holidays


    "Cornish Cycle Tours is in support of the London Cycle Map Campaign. Although not directly affecting us in Cornwall any such maps and signs to make cycling routes easier to find and follow has got to be good. It will not just benefit the people living and cycling in London everyday but also cyclists visiting London that have little knowledge of the area and need an easy to read and follow map." Lanyon Rowe, Cornish Cycle Tours


    "Limousin Cycling Holidays and Bonkersfrog Activity Holidays run cycling tours in rural France. Throughout France there is a standard route marking system which is colour coded and numbered. Both our guided and self guided itineraries follow these routes, so that there is no need for the cyclist to stop to consult a map, but can get on with enjoying the cycling. The system works well here and we feel would be even more advantageous on the busy roads of London." Andy & Cris Bassam, Limousin Cycling Holidays and Bonkersfrog Actvity Holidays

    Sign the London Cycle Map Campaign petition here.

  • Supporters

    The following businesses support the idea of creating a London Cycle Map:

    50Cycles: www.50cycles.com

    Association of Cycle Traders: www.thecyclingexperts.co.uk

    A to B Magazine: www.atob.org.uk

    Babboe Cargo Bikes: www.babboe.co.uk

    Bicygnals: www.bicygnals.com

    Bike Hugger: www.bikehugger.com

    Bike Yard East: www.bikeyardeast.com

    Bonkersfrog Activity Holidays: www.bonkersfrog.co.uk

    Cornish Cycle Tours: www.cornishcycletours.co.uk

    Corrine Dennis Performance Cycle Wear: www.corinnedennis.co.uk

    CycleWorx: www.cycleworx.co.uk

    Dave Lloyd Mega Challenge: www.themegachallenge.com

    DCR Wheels: www.dcrwheels.co.uk

    Endorfin Bikes: endorfinbikes.co.uk

    Energy Rethinking: www.energyrethinking.org

    Fibrax Ltd: www.fibrax.co.uk

    Going Going Bike: www.goinggoingbike.com

    International Bicycle Fund:  www.ibike.org

    KOLB Illustration: www.kolbillustration.com

    Limousin Cycling Holidays: www.limousincyclingholidays.com

    Mercury Cycle Coaching: www.mercurycyclecoaching.com

    Mercury Training Traing Camp: www.mercurytrainingcamp.net

    MIAS (Mountain-bike Instructors' Award Scheme): www.mountainbikeinstructor.com 

    Mobile Cycle Service: www.mobilecycleservice.co.uk

    Motorack: www.motorack.com

    NipNip Electric Cycles: www.nipnip.co.uk

    Planet Organic: www.planetorganic.com

    Qoroz: www.qoroz.com

    Revolution Tours London: www.revolutiontours.co.uk

    Schmidt Maschinenbau: www.nabendynamo.de/english

    Scoot Cycling Holidays: www.scootcyclingholidays.co.uk

    Spanish Road Cycling Holidays: www.abdet.com

    StoryBikes: www.storybikes.co.uk

    Utility Enterprises: www.utility.com.pk

    Walton Street Cycles: www.spoke.co.uk

    Where to Ride London: www.wheretoridelondon.co.uk

    To become a supporter of the LCMC, contact us on info@cyclelifestyle.co.uk

    Sign the London Cycle Map Campaign petition here.

  • About us

    Commuters in the capital may experience more stress than a fighter-pilot or a riot policeman going into action, according to a BBC report. And if that’s not bad enough, there’s usually even more gloom inside the free newspapers handed out in the capital.

    Cycle Lifestyle, published by oldspeak publishing, is a free magazine that  offers Londoners a positive alternative. Designed to inspire more people to cycle,  copies of the second issue were handed out at workplaces and public transport hubs in April. Copies are also available at a number of London outlets.

    Compared to the usual grind of travelling in London by car, bus or train, it’s not hard to see the merits of cycling: it’s healthier, invigorating, free, less stressful and often just as quick. But there are so many myths surrounding cycling, the choice doesn’t always seem so clear-cut. Cycle Lifestyle reveals the untold truths: London’s not too big for cycling; the weather’s not too bad; cycling doesn’t make you too sweaty or tired; and it’s much safer than you might expect.

    Cycle Lifestyle’s editor, Ben Irvine, summed up the project:

    “If someone offered to pay you to start each working day feeling livelier, fitter and less stressed, of course you’d say ‘yes please’. We’re hoping that our magazine will let many more commuters in on the deal: reaping the rewards of free and stress-free travel in London”.

    Above all, Cycle Lifestyle’s mission is to show how cycling can make individuals and communities so much happier. It’s a rare concept in modern times, happiness. At best it’s a forgotten priority for individuals, at worst it’s something we even begrudge each other: like when the exhilarated grin of a cyclist seems more of a smirk to someone who’s stuck in a trundling metal box.

    With articles on topics like getting started, choosing a bike, planning a route, cycling safely, cycle fashion and even romantic cycling, Cycle Lifestyle hopes to show more people a way out of the box – and to add a smile to more journeys in the capital. Whether it’s doing the shopping, going out to see friends, attending a lecture, paying a local visit – you name it – it’s easier and more fun on a bike.

  • Borough Partnership Initiative

    Borough Partnership Initiative: creating bespoke versions of Cycle Lifestyle for local authorities.

    We can provide you with at least 2000 copies of a special local version of the magazine, with an amended front cover, and as many pages as you like detailing local news and events!

    Just send us the info you would like us to feature, and we'll take care of everything else. We can even write your pages for you: our Editor, Ben Irvine, is a published writer.

    Get in touch to find out more on 07545 471 633, or info@cyclelifestyle.co.uk.

    “Cycle Lifestyle provides an excellent opportunity to promote local cycling initiatives, alongside useful information and cycling advice. The style, layout and content appeals to a wide audience, enthralling our school cycle club members, engaging and inspiring our residents, and assisting our commuters. A great asset in our pro-cycling campaigns.” Nick Davies, Principal Transport Officer, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

    "Cycle Lifestyle is an excellent, comparatively inexpensive way for boroughs to promote what they are doing locally, to schools, residents and businesses. Promoting your own cycle initiatives through a magazine which is customised for your borough – and contains other interesting and down to earth articles – supports and complements the work that you are already doing. Tower Hamlets distributes 2,000 copies of Cycle Lifestyle to all of its schools, where the magazine is placed in staff rooms and receptions, addressing the adult audience to keep the profile of cycling high. Although the cyclelifestyle.co.uk website is attractive and easy to use, and the magazine and back numbers can be easily accessed on it, there is no replacement for a pick-up-and-read alternative that can be shared by many people without having to use a suitable computer or smart phone. Cycle Lifestyle’s grass-roots, friendly approach, and the ease of communication with Ben, the editor (who also will advise and help you write and fill your column inches effectively) can make it an easy and cheaper option compared to organising your own leafleting at this level of marketing." John Rymell, School Travel Adviser, Transportation, Public Realm, London Borough of Tower Hamlets

    The magazine

    Cycle Lifestyle is a free magazine that promotes cycling as a healthy, environmentally-friendly and fun way of travelling. It contains articles on topics like getting started, buying a bike, planning a route, cycling safely, cycle fashion and romantic cycling, as well regular features like ‘Give it a Go’ (in which newcomers try out cycling) ‘Case Studies’ (in which regular cyclists describe their experiences) and ‘The Peddler’ (a light-hearted column about a day in the life of a cyclist).

    Cycle Lifestyle has received universally positive feedback from its readers, including customers, planners, businesses and local authorities. It is one of the only magazines in the UK that is designed to appeal to both potential and regular cyclists, and thus it fulfils a valuable role in promoting the benefits of cycling and encouraging more people to try it.

    The local authorities

    Most local authorities are seeking to promote the use of sustainable transport. There is enormous scope, in particular, for increasing the numbers of cyclists on the roads. One important policy measure for achieving this is to increase cyclists’ confidence and safety through providing comprehensive and integrated cycle facilities, including well-maintained, signed and unbroken routes, secure cycle parking and cycle training for people of all ages.

    An equally important policy measure is increasing accessibility through promotional and informational activities. Many people are unaware of the lifestyle, community and economic benefits of cycling, so there is great scope for increasing cycle usage through well-targeted marketing. Useful resources include the internet, events, workplace campaigns and promotional literature.

    The Borough Partnership Initiative

    Producing quality informational and promotional literature relating to cycling is an expensive and time-consuming process when conducted in-house by local authorities. Despite the fact that well-written, clear and attractively presented material can be crucial in persuading local people to cycle, costs in terms of production and resources can be prohibitive.

    Cycle Lifestyle is offering to help boroughs fulfil their marketing aims through partnership working. We are giving boroughs the opportunity to acquire bespoke local copies of the magazine, with a specially amended front cover and pages of local news and events.

    We will offer local authorities the following services:

    (i) magazine production free of charge, including:

    • research
    • journalism
    • design
    • images
    • editing
    • publishing
    • administration
    • an amended front cover slogan saying 'Love [Your Borough], Love Cycling'


    (ii) a page or more of local news costing £950 per page. 

    We'll also deliver your copies to you for free! Or we can post copies directly on your behalf to local outlets, such as schools, doctors surgeres, business, and so on.

    The common aims

    Cycle Lifestyle will retain full editorial control of the magazine’s content, but we will liaise frequently with borough officers in order to receive feedback. We share local authorities’ strict objective of supplying fully inclusive, representative, accurate and responsible information to our readers, while conveying a positive message about cycling.

    We have worked with the London Cycle Network, Sustrans and Cycle Training UK, as well as Birmingham City Council and the London Boroughs of Lambeth, Redbridge, Kensington and Chelsea, Tower Hamlets, Brent, Haringey, and more. We continue to take, and act on, expert advice on all areas relating to cycling.

    The Borough Partnership Initiative will serve as a vital source of funding for the Cycle Lifestyle project, thus ensuring the continued publication of this asset to Londoners.


    For further information or to set up a Borough Partnership Initiative please contact Cycle Lifestyle’s editor Ben Irvine at benirvine@cyclelifestyle.co.uk or 07545 471 633

  • reader contributions needed

    If my thought dreams could be seen...

    ...is a new feature coming soon in the spring issue of Cycle Lifestyle magazine.

    Cycling gives you not just freedom to explore the city, but freedom to explore your own mind as you ride - away from the noise and stress of the car or public transport, where you typically have to shut your mind down in order to de-sensitise yourself against your surroundings.

    Do you play silly games in your head as you cycle?

    Did you ever have a great idea while you were riding?

    Do you sing to yourself as you peddle?

    If you have any anecdotes about how you feel mentally free as you cycle along, then please send them to Cycle Lifestyle's editor, at benirvine@cyclelifestyle.co.uk Thanks!

  • Give it a Go

    “Loved it. The ride went by in a heartbeat. Nice and sunny, nice route. Arse didn’t hurt. Hands didn’t hurt”

    So said a text message we received from Gareth Jenkins on 15th September 2009, the first day he commuted to work by bicycle. Gareth had been a stalwart train commuter for 10 years and something of a cycle-sceptic. We had persuaded him to ride to work for a month – 12 miles from Woodford to Soho – and to write about how he got on. Here’s his record of his first few rides, plus a fantastic 'retrospective' that'll warm the hearts of cyclists and non-cyclists alike.

    Day 1 

    I got up earlier than normal and was relieved to see that it was quite sunny. I had already packed my work clothes, towel, shower stuff and waterproof jacket in a plastic bag ready to put into my pannier bag. No, I didn’t know what a “pannier” was either. It’s the bag thing that clips on a rack above the back wheel. I was calling it a “pannetta” for a while before someone took pity on me and put me right.

    The night before’s panic about what to wear and pack seemed like a distant memory as I strode down the steps to get my brand new bike in my shiny white tracksuit top and shiny blue shorts. I felt like an Alpha male, like I’d cast off the shackles of everyday man and was getting out there and adventuring my way to work. I was very conscious, however, that I had no specialist gear or accessories which, aside from maybe being naive, made me assume that other cyclists would laugh at me because of my rubbish novice cycling clothes.

    I also didn’t have any real knowledge of exactly where I was going. I had done a ‘dry run’ on a Sunday morning about a week before. That time I had been led by my friend Ben (Cycle Lifestyle’s editor) who showed me the way around the empty, picturesque streets of unseen London on a borrowed bike. We had made it in 1 hour 20 minutes at a reasonably leisurely pace and so I was confident… well, reasonably confident.

    This time I had a new bike, no friend, peak hour traffic to contend with and a double-sided page of his directions (which consisted of honestly 77 different “Turn Rights”, or “Carry on Downs”) flapping around in my hand as I rode. With this in mind I had left myself 2 and a quarter hours to get to Soho, which allowed for non-fatal crashes and getting lost. I also wanted to have 10-15 minutes to grab a shower and change when I got to work. 6:45 am should be fine.

    The first kilometre was downhill and the wind rushed through my tracksuit and shorts like I had decided to wear paper to the North Pole. I wanted to go home. I thought I was going to be absolutely freezing but, as I pedalled more, I heated up and the temperature wasn’t a problem. I realised that what to wear each day was going to be trickier than I had previously thought.

    After 500 yards it also became clear that I should have taken the bike for a little bit of a longer test run beforehand. The seat was a little too high and needed to be adjusted, but with no allen keys I couldn’t change it... school boy error.

    Around about Balls Pond Road I received my first cyclist badge of honour… a proud moment… a cabbie swore at me! I believe he may have had to wait an extra 4 seconds before I passed. I wish he could have stuck around as I want to write a letter of apology to his home address for any inconvenience caused.

    This must have put me off my groove as just after that I got lost. I couldn’t find the road I needed and recognised nothing around me. One thing I have learned already is to stop when you’re lost - don’t roll around trying to focus on a shaky bit of paper in the road.

    Back on track eventually, I raced toward the friendly canal, which gives you a little bit of utopia on your way in. People smile and wave as the water meanders past you. Fellow commuters beckon you on “No, YOU go first, after you!”. Brightly painted long boats wink at you knowingly. “You’ve beaten the rat race”, they whisper.

    As you pull away from the towpath, London resumes its normal persona. White trucks fart fumes at you and people request you to f**k off out of their way.

    I was a little bit aware that time was ticking on so there was a touch of worry setting in. I knew I couldn’t afford another wrong turn. Fortunately it didn’t happen and after putting my foot down a bit I pulled up at the front of my building, five minutes late, sweaty, out of breath with something that once was a hairstyle on my head.

    But I felt extremely awake and switched on and I had enjoyed it immensely. I had pre-warned my boss too so I didn’t get in trouble, although I did get a few requests from the girls in the office to put my legs away as soon as possible.

    The afternoon came along really quickly and I felt good – less tired than I thought I would. I was actually looking forward to riding home again. It was something different from the same old train I had always taken, standing by the exact door you need at the platform to optimise seat potential.

    I remembered the route back a little better and save for one little wrong turn I made it back ok in 1 hour 45 minutes - shaving a good 15 minutes off my way in!

    Day 2

    I’ve had a three day rest between rides so my legs feel good. Tracksuit bottoms this time, and a little bit colder today, but the downhill freeze run isn’t so bad.

    About half an hour into the ride I realise why I have seen loads of people with their right trouser leg rolled up. I thought maybe the masons had made their way into the commuter cycling arena, but now I’m guessing it’s so you don’t get oil from the gear chain on you.

    The route is all coming back to me and I barely look at my directions this time. My legs are a little stiff though and I have a very specific area in a very specific place that feels a bit bruised from the saddle. I guess I will be buying the shorts with the inbuilt pantyliner cushiony thing soon. I’m also getting numb hands today which my friend tells me is when your arms are locked and putting pressure on the nerves in your hands and wrist.

    Still, today’s morning run was 1 hour 15 minutes, a personal best. Disappointingly, not one person was clapping at the front of my building to appreciate this.

    Had enough time to use the showers at work and grab some breakfast, so this was my first run where it all went to plan. Feels good and I’m looking forward to the ride home again!

    Got an email today, an “amusing” group forward which I was supposed to pass on to at least 10 people otherwise my garden would be hit by a plague of locusts. One of the “funny cos it’s true” lines was:

    “As a driver I hate pedestrians and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.”

    I didn’t forward it on to any people because, contrary to the title, it wasn’t funny (or true - I’m pretty sure hot air balloonists don’t share this hatred of cyclists). And I live in a flat so I don’t have a garden anyway.

    It’s 4:40pm and it’s getting dark outside and drizzling. My childish enthusiasm has waned a little and a warm tube looks good right now. Even so, I’m pretty sure I will enjoy it when I’m actually on the bike again.

    I was right and as soon as I was off I felt great again and I whizzed home in 1 hour 20 minutes. Tonight I had to go to a meeting about a mile and half away from home. I wanted to go by bike, but my legs were really aching so I wimped out and drove.

    I had a conversation with my dad later which constituted me (a 30 year old man) trying to impress him about how far I was riding (yah, its like totally 24 miles a day Pops). Luckily he was mildly impressed, enough so to point out my beer belly was still firmly in position despite my efforts. He then asked me a question that I was very tempted to lie about “So do you wear a helmet?” I am not wearing a helmet. I had a chat with my cycling oracle friend who said that some studies have argued that drivers take a wider birth from cyclists who don’t wear helmets. The sheer fact that I thought about lying would suggest I’m not convinced.

    I’m going to look into prices, just because if it was someone close to me I would want them to wear a helmet (I don’t care if they look stupid do I?).

    Day 3

    Morning is hugging me. My duvet is exactly the right temperature and my eyelids are doing their best to ignore things. I know that if I can just delay it for another few minutes it will be too late and I will HAVE to get a tube. I try to reason with my body and it takes a huge effort to get up and hurriedly get ready.

    As soon as I get on the bike I realise how stiff I am from yesterday’s ride and my legs don’t have a lot of juice in them. I get overtaken by an elderly lady with a basket who sniggers at me as she passes.

    My route takes me through some reservoirs and into Hackney via my arch-nemesis “Spring Hill”. As the name suggests it’s a massive hill and I don’t think that I will ever be able to cycle the whole way up it. Half-way up is the best I’ve ever done, and getting off and walking your bike up out of breath is the epitome of failure. A different granny whips past me sticking two fingers up at me and cycles to the top in one go while I feel like I’m going to be sick.

    Despite feeling more tired today, I get to work in 1:15 again and feel great at having ridden. I mentally calculate *48 Miles in two days* and pat my gut as if to start the hopeful long goodbye. I might have a cheeky weigh up tomorrow morning.

    Day 4

    I’ve had one day’s rest between journeys because my legs were very stiff yesterday. The tube ride seemed like it was going to be a treat and I was looking forward to reading the free paper. I came to realise quickly though that I was missing the buzz of riding in.

    On the tube you really want to zone out – you adapt to make yourself sleepwalk so you blink and you’re there. When you ride, you’re more in the moment, in the elements rather than watching them on TV like in the tube. I also found walking in through the sea of walkers much more stressful than being out in the open on the bike. I guess it may be the years of doing the same thing versus doing something a bit new.

    The day off has done wonders and I feel like I have loads of energy again. I decide to roll my trouser leg up and I feel like a veteran cyclist crossed with Shabba Ranks.

    I get ¾ of the way up Spring Hill!! I am Iron Man! I am Rocky! I am Hercules! I am… feeling a bit faint so I walk the rest, and a schoolboy eyes me suspiciously as I slowly hyperventilate past him.

    My ride takes me past a few Jewish bakers making Challah Bread and it smells so good I want to bunk off work just to eat bread all day. I want to buy two tonnes, put it all in a skip and swim in its doughy goodness.

    I get to work really easily, 45 mins early so loads of time for breakfast and a shower. Luckily a lot of the guys and girls who commute only have 15-20 minute rides and don’t need the showers.

    My hands are still a bit numb so I decide to go out at lunch and look at some gloves in the discount sports shops down Oxford Street. I walk into the shop and past a family who are in the tracksuit section buying their going-out clothes when I see a whole wall of cycling stuff. I have a field day and come out with a reflective vest-jacket thingy, some ridiculous skin tight cycling trouser whatnot, a helmet with “No Fear” on the side and some gloves with padding – all for the princely sum of £38.

    I ride home looking considerably less cool than I did on the way in, but I feel safer. I daydream a little as I ride and ponder that the “No Fear” sticker seems to contradict the fact it’s on a protective safety helmet. I decide that when I get home I’m going to alter the sticker to say “Some Fear of Injury. But Not of Trying New Things”.


    Well, now I consider myself a fully-fledged cyclist. (I guess, much to the relief of Ben the Editor)

    A couple of months on and I cycle every day to work. I’ve bought a posh bike and cycling gear using the cycle scheme my work signed up for. Did you know I save around £150 a month!? I thought that the tube would be a once in a while treat for me, but the truth is I now find it way more stressful than cycling.

    And I now bore roughly 5.4 people a day with cycling stories. But I don't care because my legs are made of iron and are looking, quite frankly, pretty sexy.

    Once you start doing it you can't quite understand why everyone doesn't do it – which I guess is why Ben created this magazine.

    I started this expecting nothing and it all sounded a bit unrealistic. I thought I'd try it and feel like I'd done something a bit different and that I'd ticked a box just to say I had done it.

    What I actually did was find out a few things in the process:

    • Waltham Forest speed bumps are much better than Hackney ones. (Big up Waltham Forest Council).
    • I was less fit than I thought. I seriously needed to do something about it and change how I do things. Fitness routines always seemed to be a choice between gym or TV and sofa. Now, there are no longer any choices like that for my weak-willed brain. I get fitter by merely turning up to work - easy.
    • Saving money is cool but it’s just a by-product of why I like cycling. The sense of achievement I have by saying "yeah, I cycle to work – it's about 120 miles a week you know" is immense.
    • I love feeling alive. Once you are wrapped up in the right clothing you get to be in the world. What the hell am I going on about? Well, I'll try to explain. The weather and the elements are always one of the main arguments for not cycling, but a couple of weeks ago I was heading home and it was dark and windy and absolutely hammering it down – I'm talking swirly, sideways rain that slaps you in the face. I was hunched, grimacing and tense as I peddled against the elements, when all of a sudden I realised that the grimacing and tension was just a learned reaction. Normally, when you've got your regular clothes on and you start to get soaked and cold, you turn your collar up and run to shelter and it generally ruins your day. But I was prepared. I had waterproofs and warm gear on. The world suddenly slowed down and I relaxed like I was Neo and I had just discovered what the Matrix truly was. London was absolutely beautiful in the rain. The water was bouncing off the shiny inky black asphalt and the rivers looked like dark wine, reflecting neon. The lights of the hi-rises glowed with an aura around them that the rain had created. Was that feeling better than having someone’s armpit in your face, and being sleepy and sweating buckets in a humid underground train? Yes it was. I was soaking but it was life-affirming. I had trained myself during my normal tube commute to ignore everything; ignore the weather, ignore the people and above all ignore those two wasted hours a day travelling to another day’s work. Yeah, I now get wet sometimes (not as much as you'd think though) but my senses are stimulated. The only trade-off seems to be that I have unlearned how to sleep standing up while holding onto a rail, or to read a free paper with one hand while ensuring that one of the pages isn't scraping against the face of someone sitting down.
    • Have I mentioned how sexy my legs are?

    Next year I’m going to do something special. I'm going to cycle somewhere ridiculously far away for a ridiculous reason – just to say I did it.

    All I can say is try cycling. Prepare your route, prepare how you're gonna do it (if Ben hadn't helped me I would never have bothered to do it) but spend a bit of time looking into it. Then try it. You will soon discover if it is a rubbish idea and that you don't really want to continue....or whether you have just found a really obvious and simple way to change your life.

    Gareth Jenkins

  • Romantic Cycling

    Bored of pizzas, bars and cinemas? The same old places to go on dates in London? Then why not try something new and exciting: romantic cycling.

    A romantic city break doesn’t have to break the bank. There’s a beautiful capital on your doorstep, and you can ride around it for free. It’s easy to forget it when you’re wrestling your way through a crowd of commuters, but London is the perfect backdrop for a romantic day out – with its winding streets, stunning architecture and breathtaking riverscapes that really come alive on a bike.

    We've devised a special romantic cycling route, which can be viewed here.

    The route is designed to be cycled anti-clockwise. A good time to go would be on a Sunday morning, when it is nice and quiet. (Then reward yourselves afterwards with a Sunday lunch!)

  • Contact

    For all enquiries about the Cycle Lifestyle magazine project, including advertising, distribution and editorial submissions, please contact the editor, Ben Irvine on:

    email: benirvine@cyclelifestyle.co.uk

    tel.: 07545 471 633

    Our media pack can be downloaded here.

    Copies of Cycle Lifestyle magazine are available by post, from distributors throughout the capital, or to download free.


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