Category Archives: Cycling

Autumn Leaf Patterns

It’s rather lovely in the woods on my cycle into work at the minute. A lot of the leaves have fallen and while they are a bit damp they are still mostly intact so you get a rather lovely Klimt-like mosaic effect on the floor of the woods. Also a lot of the roads have weird leaf patterns imprinted on them where leaves have fallen and almost but not quite disintegrated.

This is the time of year when evergreen hedges make a big difference in the gardens I cycle past. While the hawthorn and forsythia hedges start to look gnarled and desolate, the box and cypress ones stay in pretty good shape, while beech and hornbeam at least hang on to their leaves, even if they have turned an autumnal shade of brown.

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Filed under Cycling, Woodland

Owls in Highgate Wood

My journey home from work involves riding my bike across the edge of Queens Wood (which is the slightly quieter part of Highgate Woods, on the slope down towards Crouch End). At this point of the year I am doing this just after dusk. It’s been lovely to hear what seems to be a rather busy owl population hooting away as darkness falls.


Filed under Cycling, Trees, Woodland

Are you a cycling psychopath?

I’ve been cycling to work lately – there are far more cyclists and bike lanes on London’s roads than there used to be. This is good as it is far greener and, in my case, makes me much healthier and fitter now I am using the car less.

However you also see a fair bit of reckless driving and cycling on the road. I drive and walk as well as cycling, and my reasonably neutral observation is that, while bad drivers are the worst danger and most likely to kill someone, cyclists are often the ones who take the most persistent risks, perhaps because it is easier for them to ignore the rules of the road. And while reckless cyclists aren’t as likely to kill someone, they do endanger themselves, as well as other cyclists and pedestrians.

So, partly with my own cycling behaviour (not always perfect…) in mind, here’s a Cosmo-style quiz to monitor whether your cycling is verging on the pscyhopathic.

1. Red lights are

A. A good way to regulate traffic flow

B. Kind of optional, but proceed with care

C. For losers

2. When taking a shortcut on the pavement

A. I dismount and walk

B. I cycle slowly, giving pedestrians priority

C. I do what I want, it’s just another part of my infinite domain

3. If I nearly collide with a car

A. I usually apologise to the driver, unless it was clearly their fault

B. I shout at the driver, but later ponder whether I was cycling safely

C. It is yet more proof that all drivers are bastards who want to kill me

4. Undertaking on the left in traffic is

A. Usually dangerous

B. A calculated risk

C. My divine right

5. Cycle lanes are

A. Useful safety channels

B. A good opportunity to go faster

C. For lesser mortals, don’t cramp my style

6. Cycling is greener than driving a car so…

A. It’s good to encourage cycling where possible

B.I feel pretty smug about not using a car

C. Car drivers are the devil incarnate

7. One-way streets…

A. Are always to be observed

B. Don’t really apply to cyclists, so long as you are careful

C. No-one tells me where I can ride

8. There are pedestrians crossing the road in my path…

A. So I brake and prepare to stop and wait

B. So I slow down slightly, and ring my bell to hurry them out of my way

C. Make way, sheeplike fools! Superior being approaching!

9. Speed is

A. An added risk factor in many accidents

B. Exciting, especially on the hills

C. My middle name

10. My attitude to cycling is

A. It’s a useful tool to get me from A to B

B. It makes me feel a bit special

C.  If I weren’t too worthy to be a motorist I’d probably behave like Jeremy Clarkson. As it is my fancy bike and superior behavior make me somewhat akin to a god.


Mostly As. Seriously? I’m not sure I believe anyone is that sensible and boring, but at least you probably won’t hurt anyone.

Mostly Bs. Not too psychopathic yet, but you need to keep an eye on the sense of entitlement and the risk factor.

Mostly Cs. Totally psycho, but on the bright side, next time you crash, your overweening sense of importance will enable you to blame everyone but yourself.

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Filed under Cycling