Film: The Humble Magnificent
2006 BICYCOLOGY sTOURy
The tour began at London’s RampArt St squatted social centre, and after a
couple day of preparation, we were off. We hadn’t even got five miles
before the Tallbike suffered a puncture. Soon after that, the heavens
opened… not a good start! Still, by the time we arrived at Finsbury Park
for Finfest, the rain had eased off. We set up, rode the Tallbike around,
and played a bit of bike polo.
We left in the afternoon, only a little later than planned, and rode out
of London as the sun set. It was getting dark by the time we arrived at
the Quaker Meeting House in Amersham, who’d kindly offered to let us camp
in their garden. No time to rest though, and in the morning we rode into
Aylesbury, for an event in the Kingsbury Square.
Aylesbury one of six towns in the UK named ‘Cycle Demonstration Towns’ by
the Government. This means it is receiving £500,000 a year for 3 years
(to be matched by the local council, ie £1.5 million a year) to be spent
on promoting cycling, hopefully becoming a beacon of success showing what
could be done elsewhere. We were joined by people from the council,
handing out information and free reflective snap-bands, while we got the
kids drawing on the pavement…
We left Aylesbury late, after a fine takeaway, tried out the Tallbike on the skate-park, and chatting to some local kids. It was already getting dark by the time we left, and there were some pretty serious hills on the way to Redfield. Pedals sped off, but was audible in the distance, an inspiring beacon to chase.
By the time we reached our hosts that night - The Low Impact Living
Initiative (LILI), we’d ridden 60 miles from London. Many of the
Bicycology Collective had stayed at the LILI whilst on the 2005
G8Bikeride. There was one very important difference – we were upgraded
from camping in the garden to beds for all in their converted stable.
The following day began with stretching. 53 miles and many hours later we
arrived in Coventry, where we camped out at the Peace House, where the
G8Bikeride had also stayed. The food awaiting hungry cyclists lived up to
the promises made by veterans to those who’d been flagging earlier on. And
then some… Thankyou Coventry cooks!
The next morning we rode to [x] park, set up, and waited (not for very
long) to be inundated by broken bikes and our Doctor Bike’s did their best
on at least 38 in less than 5 hours, joined by local bike mechanic Falcon.
Unfortunately, a few were beyond our means and time constraints (sorry
Agnan, your Red BSO - first in and last out – just couldn’t be done… Sorry
Alex with your Gold Viking, hope you got that bottom-bracket sorted…)
There was plenty of room for bike polo, and Bike Beautification got
underway under a much-needed shelter.
The day was completed by a very pleasant ride back to the Peace House and
an even more pleasant feast (Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou! Peace House
cooks), before a trek into the centre of town for a bike-powered
film-night. The main film shown was a documentary on the 2005 London World Naked Bike Ride, which went down pretty well…
Leaving Coventry, 120 miles covered already, and we barely noticed the 30
that took us to Leicester and a total of 150 – our legs adjusting to the
routine. We arrived early enough to set up in the courtyard at the
entrance to Bede park, and were joined by local specialist-cycle
manufacturers ‘Cyclemagic’ – the geniuses behind our Tallbike, amongst
other delights. Some wacky races ensued, but sadly the weather took a bit
of a turn for the worse, and the day was practically rained off. We
huddled under a gazebo, and consoled ourselves with chips.
Pedals took a trip around the centre of town, and Leicester-local
Bicycologist Charlottamiles was interviewed on BBC Radio Leicester, and
the collective went back to hers for more fine food and well-deserved sleep...
The next day was partly spent in Leicester as well, with a visit to
Spinney Hill Park in the morning and another 20 bikes Doctored. Sadly,
again, 2 we couldn’t solve – Sahar’s broken frame was a little too much
for any Dr. Bike, but we hope Suhel’s green and purple Atomic got the new
chain, tyre and seat it needed…
After a quick visit to the fantastic ‘Bikes 4 All’ bike-repair and
recycling organisation (which had provided a Bicycologist’s Bike and
Trailer), we set off for Nottingham, meeting on the way a family of
cyclists who’d heard about us on the radio, hooray! And also getting a bit
lost for the first time, boo!…
Another 37-odd miles and we were in Nottingham. Scheduled as a (by now
well-deserved) rest day, which we spent at the Sumac Centre – the venue
where the Bicycology collective was born. We tried to rest, but there was
a lot to do – plenty of bike checking, and Pedal’s new paint job was
The Devil makes work for idle legs, however, and of course the ride of
Sheffield had a few hills. Luckily it was pretty beautiful, and there
were beers on arrival… Plus we stayed in the pretty impressive squatted
gothic mansion Crookesmoor House (student accommodation until weeks before)…
Our day in Sheffield was spent at Devonshire Green, beside the skate park. The
rain returned, but there was a good game of Bike Polo. There was more
bottom-bracket trouble for the Doctors tho’ (hope you got ‘em sorted in
the end, Jason and Hazel). Due to spectacular stupidity, and the
Tallbike’s second skate-park, a Bicycologist sustained one fracturedwrist.
Luckily, the Bicycology Collective travels with a couple of tandems –
who’d want to let broken bones get in the way of a good ride?
Total distance covered on leaving Sheffield – 235 miles… Another huge hill
to escape, and another beautiful day’s ride to Leeds (sadly, the mileage
record was a bit neglected after this, we were having too much fun, so we can’t tell you how far that was…)
Our arrival at The Common Place social centre in Leeds was greeted with
cheers, which was nice… There was another fine feast (Thanks Common
Cooks!), and a buzzing atmosphere – with last minute preparations being
made for the Climate Camp in nearby Selby (our final destination).
The Leeds event was held in Little London’s Oakland Park. In a mere two hours, and Doctors dealt with more than 30 bikes – it was chaos, and there were plenty we couldn’t fix - sorry Darian, Jordan, Ramore, and all the others we had to turn away…
The tour now turned toward Lancaster, and a couple of days hard but
beautiful riding. We had to set our tents up in torrential rain in
Skipton, but we woke to sunshine, ready to ride on. Unfortunately one
of our number had a little problem with a wheel exploding – check those
rims folks! Luckily this happened before we’d travelled 100 metres, and
not on one of the many serious hills encountered later that day.
The bloke in the bike-shop warned of a hill to end all hills on our route,
but though it got pretty rough, we made it through the Trough of Bowland,
a serious contender for most beautiful bit of the ride. Someone obviously
agrees, because part of our route is also part of the Tour of Britain.
We travelled it the opposite way, however, and were sadly a few days off
seeing the race itself… Another night of camping, in a Bicycologist’s (now
ex-) garden. More fine food, this time round a fine fire, celebrating
reaching the northernmost-city of the tour...
The day in Lancaster was split into several events, focussed on a day in
Market Square, with the by now well-rehearsed Bike Doctoring and
Beautification, and assorted Pedal-powered cinema and sound. We were
joined by representatives of the Lancaster council because like Aylesbury, Lancaster is also a ‘Cycle Demonstration Town’. It is also has its own Bicycology subgroup.
It was the last Friday of the month, so we joined Critical Mass on a ride
around the city having a little party on wheels to celebrate the bike and
the fact that we’d virtually finished our tour…
In the evening we showed films at the Gregson Community Centre. This featured a wide variety of short films, and sparked plenty of discussion. We stayed that night in the very spacious Quaker Meeting House (thanks), and then it was over,
Bicycology then made it’s way back down the country toward Leeds, via a
different - considerably flatter, but no less beautiful, route. A fair
bit of night-riding and one night of unconventional camping later, we
arrived at the Climate Camp outside Selby, where we would stay for a week,
joined by many other groups who had come together to discuss Climate
Change and actions that we can take, both collectively and as individuals.
The Camp gained much media-attention, and another is planned for this
During the week, Bicycology travelled into Selby to do our thing,
attracting Police attention for the first-time (“we didn’t know repairing
bikes was an offence, officer”).
See The film Made About Our Event in Selby.
Oh, total distance ridden by this point – a whopping 467 miles… Well, ish…
And that pretty much concludes the story of the 2006 Bicycology Roadshow,
except to say that there is so much left out, so many moments of hilarity
and joy and triumph (ok, and a little bit of exhaustion and pain!) that to
find out what a tour is really like, you’ll have to join or visit us on
our next one… We look forward to seeing you…