Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Ride of my life: The story of the bicycle

I caught a documentary on BBC4 last night called the Ride of my life: The story of the bicycle. It was by the writer and cycling enthusiast, Rob Penn based on his book ‘It’s all about the bike’ published this month. I missed the beginning but I was gripped by what I saw I re-watched it online via the BBC iPlayer website which will keep the programme for the next 6 days.

The story is about how Penn commissioned his bike from the various bike component manufacturers across the world. It wasn’t about getting the best parts but the parts he wanted for his dream bike. Great history of the bike running alongside Penn’s progress around the globe. I would have liked to have heard something about the Sturmey Archer hub and I guess other bits of bike history have been missed but I learned a lot of little things. The bicycle is an amazing invention that for a brief time we put aside and now we are beginning to appreciate just how fantastic this machine is.

My favourite part of the documentary was Penn’s visit to Portland, Oregon a city that has made huge investments in cycling infrastructure.

After watching the section on the Brooks saddle factory I am seriously thinking of getting one for the Brompton for my third anniversary next February.

For those who are interested the doc is still on line but the BBC usually remove programmes after a week. So it will be gone by August 3rd.


wee folding bike said...

You can find out a lot of Sturmey Archer history from Tony Hadland or here:

Recent info can be found here:

You can usually download and keep an MPEG version of iPlayer; Have a look here:

For a Mac version:

Linux and Windows are available too.

Cycling in Heels said...

Thanks WBC I will check out these links.

Cycling in Heels said...

Opps I mean WFB! Not yet awake.

bicyclemamy said...

In reference to the Brooks saddle. Girl, you better get one. I have a B67 Heaven on my Brompton (I added the heaven part). I love it to pieces! Bromptons have no shocks which is not the case with our Treks. My B67 makes for smooth riding over cracks, bumps and the occasional pot hole. *off to check out the program*

Cycling in Heels said...

Yes. I am going to spend some time looking through the Brooks website and start saving my pennies.

Joseph said...

I had a standard gel saddle on my Raleigh, after 4 horus cycling (I seldom cycled then mind) it hurt like crazy.

I later got the Brompton, it was great but just started to hurt towards the end of a 22 mile rural cycle.

I now have the Brooks B17, and whilst your bum is numb at the start, you just get used to it. There are odd moments where it is supremely comfortable, and for most part it is good, but the first few seconds after you get on can be a bit odd. It's rock hard leather, but built to last.

wee folding bike said...

You can soften a Brooks with mileage and/or Proofide.

You need a wee bit of Proofide anyway to keep it healthy.

Leslie said...

Charming TV programme, just on the right side of being a vanity project with product placement. Not quite enough old stuff for my taste, but it got me off the chair and onto my Brompton in a trice once it was done!

Gareth said...

Hugely enjoyable BBC4 program especially the visit to the Brooks factory. (I wasn't taken by his frame colour combo tho!)
I included a Brooks saddle in my new Brompton set-up and it's proved very comfortable so far. You have to watch that it is not left in the rain for any real length of time- cover it with a plastic bag. Also Brooks saddles are a great attraction to thieves in urban areas. Best not left unsecured to the rest if your bike is left unattended for any length of time. Pitlock skewers or linking a locked chain though the saddle's rails back to the frame is advisable.

Cycling in Heels said...

Gareth, you've put me off getting a Brooks. I don't want to worry about rain or theft. Can't you just waterproof the saddle?

Leslie, I also wanted to get out and ride after watching the programme.

Gareth said...

I don't believe you can waterproof a Brooks saddle. If like me, you take your Brompton everywhere and don't lock it up outside, you will have invested in a great saddle that will last forever and be more comfortable as time passes. And cycling in the rain is no problem as your saddle will still stay dry.