The Nothing Days

It was CS Lewis who once wrote that January and February were the ‘Nothing Days, where very little happens. I have to say with the grey and dark mornings and living in lockdown Britain the last thing I could face during the last few weeks was to get up early and cycle in the freezing cold weather – grim! That is where my recent purchase of an indoor cycling machine has really come in handy. A quick drink in the morning and then onto the machine for a HIT ride – whatever that is! What I do know, however, is that I can make something of these days – I can keep myself fit and look forward to the first signs of Spring when life comes roaring back – bliss!

Cycling in University Towns!

Traditional University towns have an image of students riding their bikes to lectures, carrying piles of books and wearing a long black flowing gown BUT what is the reality and, more importantly, are these towns are the forefront of the cycling revolution. This summer I visited some of the most prestigious University towns to see what progress they were making and of course Cycle4Africa will write and place pressure on these towns to produce cycle lanes that will protect the cyclist. In Oxford there are a number of pressure groups getting together to promote cycling – great. I visited one of their pop-up-shops and all the plans appeared to be in good order. I was a little concerned that the focus appeared to be on North Oxford, the posh bit, where nice cycle routes I am sure would appeal and push up the already inflated property prices BUT things are moving forward. I love Durham City – its Cathedral is the best in the world – but on my inspection I could not see much progress with regards cycle routes. Durham City must be difficult for planners with steep hills, narrow roads and overly congested main artery routes. Edinburgh came top. Already the new cycle lanes were popping up all over the city. Many of the wide roads were being altered and in this fine city one can imagine that tram and cycle will ride well together. Finally, I went to the little University town of St Andrews and what gave me great hope is that, at last, planners are coming together to create a cycle route around the East Neuk. What a tourist possibility! To cycle from St Andrews to the many pretty fishing villages grabbing a coffee in Crail and fish & chips in Anstruther – wow! KEEP GOING UNIVERSITY TOWNS – IMPROVE YOUR GRADES!!

The Little Miracle

If we were to find one simple flower on the planet Mars, we would call it a miracle! And yet we trample over little miracles every day of our lives without appreciation. Walking and cycling allows us to take time and appreciate all that is around us; BUT we must look and look closely – to spend time in the moment and not rush away. John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”, and, we know, he probably was right!

Moving Back to Normal!

I have just returned from my daily cycle through the streets of Oxford and I have to say from a cyclist perspective it is back to same old. Stupid painted lines on roads that are meaningless with lorries and cars parked across our precious ‘cycle paths’ forcing the bike out onto the road with car drivers and motorbikes driving seemingly faster after the lockdown frustration. In between the traffic one gets a glimpse of the true revolutionaries, the individual cyclists who are not willing to give up on their cause for greener streets and a healthier way to get around town. When the pubs open on the 4th July, I would say three cheers for our cyclists….

Worship!

I was out for my early morning bike ride. The streets of Oxford were fairly quiet which seem to give the highway agency a great excuse to clog the roads up with roadworks. Anyway, I went down to see the beautiful Radcliffe Camera when a I came across a bike which seemed to be paying homage to the University Church. But thinking about possibly the ancient seat of religion was blessing the humble bike…..see what you think! On the way back I said good morning to two nice policemen that were standing guard over some statue that everyone is getting excited about. Not me I just love the outdoors with my trusty stead and the beauty of Oxford when it is still quiet.

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Cycle for a Healthy Mind Campaign

In my experience regular physical activity helps to combat stress, depression and anxiety. Cycling to work though, can be one of the best ways to improve your well-being everyday. A study carried out across a number of European cities, found that using your bike to get around can help with lowering perceived stress and fighting the feeling of loneliness. The research, conducted by ISGlobal, compared different ways of getting around such as: walking, taking the car or public transport, and claimed that cycling was the number one mode of transport for improving your well-being. But don’t just take my word for it, read what Charles Graham-Dixon said in The Guardian – please press HERE.

We at Cycle for Africa are determined, after this Covd19 has passed, to get people out on their bikes, in safe neighbourhoods, to restore a sense of inner-wellbeing. In August I am hoping to cycle for two great charities: Cycle for Africa and Combat Stress. If you would like to support my venture, to restore the national mood, then please press HERE.

Thank you

Cycling in the local community….

Everyone who loves to ride a bike knows what great benefits we receive. Peddling through the great outdoors clears the mind and can act as a distraction from everyday worries. We can travel great distances, visit interesting sites and get to know new people. Cycling helps the mind. There is no doubt that if you cycle several times a week – possibly to go shopping, the daily commute or just for leisure – then you are going to lose weight and get fit. Cycling helps us keep fit. If we use our bikes more often and leave the car at home, we are going to reduce carbon emissions and reclaim our local communities. The air will be fresher, and we will see and meet more people. Cycling helps the environment. Cycle for Africa aims to support people of all ages get back on their bike and leave their car at home. We also want to keep Boris to his pledge of increasing proper (not stupid painted lines on roads) cycle routes throughout the United Kingdom (and hopefully beyond).

We can all Cycle for Africa!

Cycle London to Paris (twice)…..

One of the great benefits that we can all benefit from by being connected with this great charity is that we can both enjoy life, by cycling, and help others. To ride London to Paris had the joint benefit of raising vital funds but it was also a great opportunity to promote cycling. The ride itself, for many, would be seen as being straight forward. However, with up to 90 miles in the saddle and the last leg racing through the busy streets of Paris it certainly had many challenges. Without doubt the great ride into the French capital is the most stunning part of the journey. Venturing through its glorious streets with hundreds of fellow cyclists is a moment to remember. We were lucky in that we were guided up the Champs Elysees – which really was ‘heaven on earth’. The money raised by cycling London to Paris (twice) supported two great projects in Africa. Firstly, Cycle for Arica raised money for an environmental project supported by Christian Aid. Secondly, we were able to help to doctors serving as consultants in Rwanda.

A PhD in St Andrews, Scotland…..

There can be no better place in the whole world to think and to study than the Royal and Ancient town on the East Coast of Fife. With a population of around 16,000 people St Andrews offers much to a time of contemplation. It has seven golf courses, a 600-year-old University and with its ancient Medieval Cathedral (now in ruins) a place of pilgrimage. This ancient ideal of journey and how this can refresh the mind what foundational in the Charity – Cycle for Africa. What do you do when you complete a PhD? I believe the skills that you need in writing a long thesis – daily working on small chunks of writing and reading that appear to have no final conclusion and immediate benefit – are closely aligned to establishing an effective charity – we will see!! So there it began with its home in St Andrews and beautiful Scotland.