On 25th August 2013 I fulfilled a wee ambition and took part in my first cycling ‘sportive’ event, Lap The Lough. I had real worries that I would make a fool of myself, both with my gear and the real possibility of not finishing. So how did this amateur do?

As a diehard urban citizen cycling champion (or maybe because I don’t own a road bike?) I used my 8 year old commuter hybrid bike. I seriously began to question this choice as I queued to get off the motorway, it seemed as if EVERYONE rolling down to the Peatlands entrance was in lycra and on race-chiselled road bikes. Would I be ridiculed?

Setting trends with my duct-taped seat?

Continue reading “Could I Lap The Lough?”

In the first of a series of guest opinion pieces on cycling, Stephen McNally considers the difference between knowledge and action, rhetoric and actually road-mapping the end of car culture domination.


“My cigarette is the mild cigarette, that’s why Chesterfield is my favourite”
Ronald Regan

I started smoking in 1986. I was 16. Everyone smoked. My Da smoked. All my teachers smoked – in class, constantly. At 16 you could bring a note from your parents giving you permission to smoke in school. Friends smoked, brother smoked, girlfriend smoked. I started work at 18 in a local newspaper, I smoked at my desk. I could smoke on the bus to work. I could smoke on a train. I could smoke in a plane. I could smoke in a hospital. I could smoke in a bar. I could smoke in a restaurant. I could smoke in McDonalds. The Embassy World Snooker Championship was on TV. Snooker players smoked. Darts players smoked. Footballers smoked in dugouts and managers smoked on the touchline. Marlboro hung over the gantries in F1 racing, JPS, Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges plastered the cars and the drivers.

Continue reading “Culture shift”

As part of Bike Week, local people who cycle our streets share their stories, fears and hopes. Tony, originally for Omagh but a long-time resident in Glengormley, is one of the Pro Vice-Chancellors at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), looking after planning, staffing and external affairs for the University. He explains his passion for cycling for transport and leisure..

I’ve been cycling for about a decade, and own a touring bike, a mountain bike and a road bike. I use the road bike most of the time, but occasionally take the mountain bike for a spin around Cavehill. I have 4 daughters, 2 of whom cycle fairly regularly, though one has been curtailed since her bike was stolen. Apart from the bicycle I use a motorbike – I’ve never driven a car and have no plans to start.

Tony - Why I Cycle

Continue reading “Tony: Why I Cycle”