Gearing up for the Portland to Portland ride I thought I should shed a few pounds. It worked out cheaper than buying a lighter bike. Evans’ website shows their cheapest models at about £500 weighing in at 10.7kg; their top of the range costs £8,500, put it on the scales and it ratchets up just 6.8kg. That way it costs £2,000 to save a kilo! Instead I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app for a couple of quid and lost pounds while saving money on food too.
I need targets to get me to stick to my training regimes, and losing weight is no different. MFP asks you how much weight you want to lose and how fast and then works out how many calories a day you should eat. It also takes into account the amount of exercise you take - and allows you a few more calories. I weighed 84kg and wanted to get down to 70kg over three months, so MFP allowed me to eat 1200 calories a days plus 700 additional calories for every hour of energetic cycling. MFP also has a system where you can exchange emails about weight loss with your friends, but I didn’t fancy doing that. So I used the app to calculate how much I was eating at each meal, and checked the calories on packaged good religiously. Do you realise there are 168 calories in just 28g of salted peanuts! I stopped eating them, except on days when I did a long ride.
And it worked. I got down to 68.7 kg in exactly three months and riding up hills has never felt easier. The only down side is that people who aren’t cyclists think my lean features suggest I am suffering from some ghastly illness. Well, I’m not and neither do I have shares in My Fitness Pal but I highly recommend him/her to anyone wanting climb a bit faster.
olivermoore1982 asked: peter - really enjoyed your talk this evening! was sorry not to catch you afterwards as am keen to find out more about P2P ride, will certainly be making a donation, but is there a website with more details of the route / timings if one wants to join in? regards, oliver
Hi Oliver Yes, you can see the route on www.portlandtoportland.org or please email me on email@example.com if you have any queries about joining in. with best wishes Peter
Last week I went cycling in Freiburg to study the city’s cycling infrastructure. This was the first phase of our larger project we will be undertaking on the Portland to Portland ride when we will carry out a comparative study of cycle planning, infrastructure and cycle use in fifteen cities, experiencing and analysing cycling in Portland Oregon, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Michigan City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York, Dublin, Oxford, London, Freiburg, Copenhagen and Rotterdam. We want to find out how cities are coping with the increasing interest in the bicycle as a credible form of urban transport.
All the P2P riders are involved with architecture and planning and we will call on the support of fellow professionals en route to help collect and verify data from the different cities they ride through.
The study includes additional research on Copenhagen, Freiburg and Rotterdam as model cycling cities. The research will be carried out using initial desk-based studies on policies and completed plans. We will then be riding through the cities to experience cycling facilities directly and talking to local cyclists and policy makers. On our return we will confirm our findings with groups we have met before publishing the research in print and digital formats.
Our research will provide comparative data and successful solutions which we hope will assist politicians and planners in instituting improved cycling conditions in cities around the world.
"A cyclized city is a civilized city; a cyclized city is a sustainable city."
I ask architects about their social networking habits. c 10% are on Twitter; over 60% are on LinkedIn. I pose the question during my lecture on architectural communications “Do you want to be famous?” when I get to the bit on social networking. The results are remarkably consistent in large and small practices. I am giving 100 lectures to all the leading architectural practices as a free CPD talk and to raise the profile of the two architectural charities for which I am raising money during the Portland to Portland ride. The fact that they are CPD talks means that the average age of attendees is fairly young, so I am surprised that Twitter doesn’t appear more strongly in my straw polls.
So far I’ve done nearly 40 of the talks - at Fosters to the largest audience for any external speaker they’ve had in their office. The only office that has turned me down so far is BDP. They said they knew all they needed to know. (They are probably right as the estimable Sheri Besford has been their guiding light in communications for ages and ages. They will surely miss her now that she has stepped down as Head of Communications).
I stopped on my bike at the lights on Holland Park Avenue this morning. Boris was there surrounded by people outside the tube station. He saw me and rushed over, shook my hand and said “A cyclised city is a civilised city!”
This was very impressive. I came up with the cyclise slogan, together with Koy Thompson who used to run the London Cycing Campaign, three years ago as a London oriented alternative to Jan Gehl’s ‘copenhagenise’. I told Boris, when he welcomed the Cycle to Cannes riders that year, that we’d be happy for him to use it himself. “Greater love hath no man that he lays down his logo for his friends” quipped the Mayor.
The phrase then turned up in his transport plans and Kulveer Ranger told me several times that Boris had come up with it himself. What impressed mt this morning was that Boris not only remembered the prhrase but recognised me with my helmet on.
I was riding my ancient Dawes Galaxy that is so well-worn that no one tries to nick it because they couldn’t get a bean for it on Brick Lane. AA Gill was accompanying Boris on his meet-the-voters tour. “Nice bike, Boris” he said looking at the Galaxy as they were swallowed up in a phalanx of Notting Hill fans.
So far we have thirteen riders keen to take part (the target is 12). A couple can’t take the two months or so off work/family duties and will only do a part of the ride. We’ll therefore be opening up legs to those who might just want to join us for a week or so.
The group meets about once a month in Look Mum No Hands in Clerkenwell. The full on cycling environment of LMNH is a real inspiration. We discuss logistics, training, bike maintenance, first aid, what sort of bike and the route. The last two are top of the agenda.
There are many views as to the best bike to take. Since we will be supported and won’t have to carry all our stuff we don’t need full touring bikes, but something with a wider tyre is more comfy than a normal road bike. There is much discussion about handlebar design, the ability to change position with drops vs the more relaxed position with straight bars. I’m keen to look at something that does both. The best advice, whatever the choice, is to get it early and get used to it - particularly the saddle. I went to Greenwich a couple of weeks ago to see the round the world cyclists depart and had a good look at their bikes or which there was a huge variety. The main thing they had in common was the use of Shimano Hub gears rather than dérailleur.
We have worked out the basic route and now need to make sure the roads are rideable. Google maps are brilliant, a huge percentage of roads in the US have been photographed so you can drill down and see exactly the condition of the road, whether it has a cycle route or not. There are lots of places we would like to visit en route but what seems a minor detour on the map turns out to add a couple of hundred miles onto the total.
I’ve now completed 20 CPD lectures on architectural communications as part of my marathon task to give 100 talks to practices before we leave on the Portland Place to Portland Oregon Ride in April 2013. I’m reasonably well on target - I’ve been been doing it for 4 months now which means I’m managing 5 per month. So I’ll aim to do 60 next year and the remaining 20 in 2013.
The talks have been well attended and getting good feedback, so now I’m receiving invitations to talk as a result of word of mouth.
Several riders have volunteered to join as a result of the talks - we now have 10 people. Two of them can’t spare the whole two months required so we have decided to have a couple of floating places allowing riders to do legs of, say, 500 miles.This would mean 8 other riders taking part.
We are starting to have regular meetings to plan the route and logistics in detail. We meet, appropriately at the cycling cafe on Old Street: Look Mum No Hands.
The fund raising is going reasonably well, although I need to do more to urge people in the audience to fill in their direct debit forms. This will be job for the holiday period. One of the big pluses of the talk which I hadn’t anticipated is that it is a great way of raising the profile of the two charities - a lot of the younger people in offices have little idea what the ABS does. I think the lecture is helping to get the message out.
Next year’s Cycle to Cannes ride was launched at the Foundling Museum last night. A hundred or so cyclists turned out to hear about the arrangements for Olympic Year and about an extra event designed reduce testosterone levels at the front of the peloton. A high speed chase group of 20 elite riders will leave London two days after the main group and cycle the 1500km day and night - 6 hours on 6 hours off - to catch up with the main bunch, which will travel at the sort of civilised speeds that I can keep up with.
The riders heard about Coram which the ride is supporting next year and is one of the UK’s oldest charities. It was established as a refuge for abandoned children by Captain Thomas Coram who, in 1720, returned from sea and determined to help the children he saw abandoned on London’s streets. His 19-year campaign finally caught the attention of King George II who, in 1739, gave Coram a Royal Charter to create the Foundling Hospital.
William Hogarth and George Frederic Handel also supported the charity’s work. Hogarth donated a number of his paintings to the Hospital and Handel composed the Foundling Anthem for us, performing it to raise funds each year on his birthday. Handel left a copy of the Messiah to us in his will, which is on display today in the museum.
Today Coram finds stable families for children in greatest need; protects children and young people from being left to drift in the care system and educates children in making responsible choices in life.
The ride, sponsored by Aedas, will continue to support other charities including Multiple System Atrophy Trust, Tom’s Trust and Article 25.
The ride is also supported by Estates Gazette - you can see the EG video of the launch here: http://bit.ly/qAL4Sp
I went to a debate last night organised by the RIBA’s Building Futures group where Hugh Pearman (Sunday Times and RIBA Journal), Amanda Baillieu (Building Design), Will Hunter (Architectural Review), Piers Gough (CZWG) and Will Alsop (ALL Design) debated the motion “This house believes the architectural profession has been let down by its press”.
Hugh Pearman thought it had, because his editors were only interested in ‘high end stuff’ and what he’d like to be publishing is ‘good and ordinary’; Amanda Baillieu thought it hadn’t but made great play of the fact that the press is “not in business to support the profession”; Will Hunter supported Hugh because the profession had been “out done and out manoevred” by the other construction professionals while the press looked idly on and Piers Gough attacked the motion using his unique skill in talking total nonsense in a completely convincing manner. His humorous piece that the press supported the architectural profession becasue it made it feel good about itself, and his comments that architectural journalism produced by a bunch of short-term softies was pretty irrelevant to the hard grind of real practice, suggested he was secretly batting for the other side. Will Alsop made some nice comments about the time I was Technical Editor of AD when we were committed to publishing ideas rather than news and hagiographies.
What none of the speakers - including Paul Finch who did the summing up - failed to discuss was the symbiotic and consensual relationship between the profession and its press. While Amanda might wish to attack both architects and their institute, she needs it for the very survival of her magazine and its website. I tried to make this point, rather unsuccessfully I fear, by responding to Hunter and Finch’s comments that in the last thirty years architects have handed over their role as the leader of the building team to other professions. This acquiescence has meant that architects are no longer as attractive to advertisers as they once were and thus magazines have a fraction of the number of pages they had in the days when I was editor of Building Design (1974-9). This is the self same point I made in my last blog about fund raising for the Architects Benevolent Society.
A speaker from the floor complained that the architects who appeared in the magazines were the same small group week after week. One of the reasons for that, I suggest, is that architects are really bad at communicating what they do - they are letting themselves down (see my blog ‘So you want to be famous’).
In the end the audience, including me, voted to soundly defeat the motion. For those who can remember the days when architectural correspondents like J M Richards (The Times) and Harold Brockman (Financial Times) were allowed a few column inches of comment-free reportage and compare that to the spreads of well written, accessible features by Pearman, Moore, Glancey et al, it was a no brainer.
I’m raising money for two architectural charities - the Architects Benevolent Society and Article 25 - for the ride across America and I am aiming to raise most of it from architects.
In this present climate I believe that if architects don’t support their own charities then no one else is going to - thus the title ‘charity begins at home’. So over the next 18 months I am doing the rounds of architects’ office with my ‘So you want to be famous’ lecture to raise the profile of the ABS and A25 and, hopefully, to convince architects to give them their support.
My strategy is based on collecting lots of smaller amounts of money from lots of people. I tell my audiences that if they give just a few pounds via direct debit each money, over time it adds up to a significant contribution to the welfare of these organisations. The equivalent of just two lattes per months - £4.00 - will raise £48 over a year. Add on the 28 per cent from Gift Aid and you have a total of £61.44. Leave the DD in for 5 years and you have painlessly donated £307.20 to good causes.
This way I’m hoping to raise a good chunk of our £500,000 sponsorship target before we leave on the ride and then collect the rest en route.
Thirty years ago the ABS successfully raised funds from other members of the building team - product manufacturers, contractors, engineers and quantity surveyors were so keen to network with architects that they forked out large amounts of money for tables at the Annual ABS Ball and for the advertisements that appeared in the evening’s programme. That was in the days when the architect was undisputed leader of the building team. But times have changed and others call the shots that were once the prerogative of the architect, so they don’t buy tables at the ABS Ball any more. Which is a shame because in those days the ABS was rather genteel, looking after elderly architects who had fallen on hard times; now the it has a remit that supports a wide range of age groups, landscape architects, technologist and assistants; young people who have become ill or been in accidents and cannot work; people who face financial crises. The ABS advice team also help make sure people have claimed state benefits to which they are entitled. www.absnet.org
So, well worth giving up a couple of lattes a month for!
This is the title of a CPD lecture I am giving to architectural practices around the country to raise awareness about my ride and about the Architects Benevolent Society and Article 25.
From a career’s perspective of watching architectural practices succeed and fail I believe that an understanding of communications is essential for an architect to achieve his or her full potential. In my talk I describe the significance of communications in the work of major figures from Palladio to Rem Koolhaas. I discuss the dangers of archispeak, the pitfalls of presentations and the role of communications in planning, public consultation and business development. I look at the impact of the media on architectural design and the rise of the starchitect and discuss how to deal with the press, the role of branding, advertising, publishing, exhibitions, speaking engagements, brochures, websites, films, e-shots, newsletters and the growth of digital media.
If you’d like me to come and speak to your practice please submit a text post.