Chris Boardman: A Life in Cycling

Chris-Boardman

Chris Boardman has done it all. Born into a cycling family he became a domestic time trial demon and won an Olympic Gold Medal in 1992. He set world records for the Hour on the track and raced on the continent as a professional, wearing the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. His R&D team helped British Cycling to world domination on the track and he founded Boardman Bikes, now the best selling brand of bikes in Britain. He has thrown himself into campaigning for everyday cycling with passion and is one of the most effective advocates for cycling, whether in the media or lobbying politicians. He has just written a new biography and is in conversation with the author Rob Penn, in front of a live audience in Monmouth, organised by Rossiter Books.

Chris Boardman’s Triumphs and Turbulence is published by Ebury Press.

Touring tip #1: Why Ordnance Survey maps are best and how to get them for free

The British Isles are blessed with the world’s best maps for travel and adventure, made by the expert cartographers of the Ordnance Survey. There’s nothing like stopping by the side of the road, leaning your bicycle up against a dry stone wall and wrestling with a rapidly, uncontrollably unfolding paper map, like a waiter at a windy seaside restaurant fighting a losing battle with a large tablecloth. Eventually, you get the map under control, pinpoint your location and are filled with joy to discover that just a few yards away, in the field on the other side of the dry stone wall, is a neolithic hut circle!

Of course, proponents of the wiki-democratic Open Street Map loath the Ordnance Survey with a passion. It stands for everything they’re against: closed systems, the tyranny of the professional and paying for stuff. The Open Street Map is a marvel of internet technology and collective, volunteer action. In many ways, it is far more powerful than a paper map. But there is such a thing as too much information. And too little. On my travels I have found whole villages absent from OSM (I dutifully added them to the OSM database when I returned home).

If maps are works of art, I find the Open Street Map less attractive to look at and less easily comprehensible than an OS map. Open Street Map feels cold and computer-generated when compared to the subtle craft of the Ordnance Survey’s cartography.

Ordnance Survey Landranger Series (1:50,000)

Andy Allan's Open Cycle Map (a version of the Open Street Map), for comparison

More importantly, the Open Street Map is only available on a computer screen. Call me a Luddite but I like a nice, big paper map where I can gaze, like Gulliver in Lilliput, over an entire landscape laid out before me. With a computer map I get lost scrolling back and forward and zooming in and out. And once you’re on the road, what use is a computer map?

That’s all very well, I hear you say, if you’ve got deep pockets. It’s true, OS paper maps are expensive. OS Landranger maps are 40km x 40km, and an enthusiastic cyclist with a decent tailwind could well travel across a whole sheet in a single afternoon. At £6.99 (less on Amazon) the costs for a tour can mount up. Some might quibble that the optimum scale for the touring cyclist is 1:80,000 rather than the 1:50,000 of the OS Landranger series and they might have a point.

But help is at hand in the form of your nearest public library. Most keep a complete range of OS maps: both 1:25:000 (best for walking or for scoping out possible wild camping spots) and the more cyclist-friendly 1:50,000 as well as the somewhat rough-and-ready Touring Series. They’re usually the more expensive, laminated, weather-proof, fold-resistant versions too.

My local library allows me to borrow up to twelve maps for three weeks at a time. I can even renew them online. Even if you prefer to use a GPS device for navigating – and there’ll be a post on digital mapping and GPS to follow – for general route planning, there’s nothing like sitting down at a gigantic table in a library map room with a chaotic expanse of OS maps to make you feel like a real, bonafide adventurer. On a rainy day such as today, can there be any better way to prepare for a bicycle tour?

This is the first in a series of articles, tips and notes about cycle touring.

Resonance FM fundraiser – please give generously

Resonance FM, the London community radio station that is home to The Bike Show, needs listener donations if it is to carry on providing the kind of radio that you cannot find anywhere else.

All the programme-makers on Resonance FM, and all the studio engineers, give our time for free.

There are just three and a half paid employees at the station. Three and a half. There are probably more people employed to make tea for You and Yours.

Resonance FM’s staff keep the station running and the studio up to scratch, they they make sure the antenna safely on top of a tall building near London Bridge, run special events and outside broadcasts and commission new shows and secure the charitable foundation and Arts Council funding that provides the bulk of the station’s income. As well as a very modest staff bill, Resonance has to pay rent on its small premises, pay various broadcast license fees and keep all the studio equipment working.

The station’s fundraising target is £30,000 by the end of this fundraising week. There’s an Auction going on over here.

If everyone who regularly listens to The Bike Show by podcast gave just £3, that would meet half the fundraising target for the whole station.

You can just donate using the Paypal box to the left. Or even more simply, send a text message.

Text RZFM14 followed by the pound sign and either 5 or 10 (or more if you’re feeling generous) and send the text to the following number: 70070. That’s seven zero zero seven zero.

Thank you.

AudioBoo the Dunwich Dynamo 2011

Dunwich Dynamo sunrise

The Dunwich Dynamo is the greatest London cycle event, bar none. A free, turn-up-and-go night ride to the Suffolk Coast. Just long enough to feel like a real achievement, but well within the reach of an averagely fit day-to-day cyclist. The Bike Show has featured DD16 and DD12.

Once again, we want you to be the reporters for the Dunwich Dynamo, and we’ll be crowdsourcing audio from the night via audioBoo for broadcast on Resonance FM.

Here’s how it works. You’ll need an iPhone or an Android phone. audioBoo is a really nice free application (made by a Southwark-based company) that allows you to record short snippets of audio, up to five minutes in duration, and post them to the web. It’s incredibly easy to use and the sound quality is very good indeed. You just need to sign up for a free audioBoo account and download the free app. Then you’re ready to go.

Just be sure to tag your recordings with the tag ‘DD19‘.

Photo credit: Adrian Fitch

Keep the Red Stuff In

In the studio is Bike Show regular ‘Buffalo’ Bill Chidley, who brings news of London’s burgeoning bicycle polo scene (note imminent rebranding as ‘urban bike hammer ball’). The London Open 2011 is on 30-31st July. Steve Evans, a bicycling paramedic from the Liverpool Century RC, gives some excellent practical advice on how to provide immediate post-collision assistance to an injured cyclist. Steve’s free first aid guide for cyclists is available from the Rough Stuff Fellowship. Also featured is long distance cyclist and bearded wonder James Bowthorpe, around 18 hours into his 24 hour non-stop bicycle ride in a shop window. Phew!