The life of the bicycle launch

It’s been a long time since my last post and many cycling related things have happened, including me taking part in my first road race, in which I didn’t finish very high, but I didn’t fall off, or crash and I did finish, so moving swiftly on…

This post is about the launch of The life of the bicycle film made by Clapham Film Unit with Herne Hill Velodrome and The Science Museum, funded by the Heritage lottery’s All Our Stories programme

The launch was at The Science Museum, most of the cyclists involved cycled to the screening from the velodrome. I had a morning meeting so missed cycling through a torrential downpour, I did however arrive just in time for the post ride flapjack…

I was also able to see the Bicycle tour exhibition, including many of the bikes I was able to study for the project.

Find out more about the exhibition here;


Anyway on to the film!

It’s a really interesting film, I love they way its cuts between the vastly different stories all linked by cycling. I was very lucky to have three largeish bits in it which I will now share with you (although you should try and see whole the film!)

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The first part was filmed at the end of the day, but works really well as the start of my story, it shows me enjoying my own private velodrome, huffing and puffing and gushing about how much I love cycling.

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I am wearing my modern cycling clothing, summer kit, and it was COLD (We filmed in April this year)

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You can see the two problems I suffered with throughout filming here, cold hands and near blindness, do too a lack of sunglasses on a very sunny day. I always wear sunglasses, on and off the bike as my eyes are super light sensitive, and big attracting grit etc, but sunglasses didn’t work for the film and you can tell I can’t really see, plus my eyes were watering all day. Thank goodness for my cycling cap!

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You can see I pulled my arm warmers right down and rolled my fingers under the palms of my hands sandwiching them between me and my cork (conducts heat) handle bars, all without realising what I was doing and thinking about how strange it would look on film.

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A couple of people still came up to me after the screening to ask way I wasn’t wearing gloves. The truth is at this stage I didn’t own cycling gloves and the fluffy woolly pink gloves I had with me did not really look the part. I had no idea what I was doing till I watched the film, it must have been towards the end of a take! Charlotte was quick to wrap me up as soon as we stopped cycling, but I am a cold blooded person and thus cold all of the time.

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The second part of the film is me in my 1940s kit, I want to show you the way the film cuts to it

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It starts with race footage like this…FAST

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And then cuts to me, not quite as blurry, but you try cycling in original 1940s sandals, bits kept falling off and I had to keep stitching them back together.

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We filmed this first, I was pleased it was a sunny day, I had a hand knitted 1940s cardie, but I was clearly feeling brave as I took that off before we started filming.

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I had to get used to cycling on the slopes of the velodrome wearing this, which was quite good fun…

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This footage was filmed on a old camera, with old film, sorry, I forget the technical terms, But this give the lovely old school colour.

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this was the one time I looked at the camera you can see how much I am suffering from the sun, as I have pirate face.

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Being a costume designer as well as wearing original shoes I also have original 1940s silk stockings, the dress which is cut in line with war time guidance on fabric wastage is not very full and not perhaps not fully suited to cycling.

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The dress kept slowly riding up my legs, not wanting to spoil the flow I waited to readjusting my dress in-between takes, some of which were quite long.

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This meant, yes I was a proper old school Cambridge cyclist, showed my stocking tops. This description is based on my past interviews with women who cycled in Cambridge in the 1950s and 1960s. I was not wolf whistled (as my interviewees often were) but my stocking tops might have inspired my streaker?

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The footage of me creaking and wobbling round the track with my legs out cuts to this…

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Again FAST and skillful!

My third part in the film starts with a tease…whatever is she wearing now?

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before slowly giving away my final costume

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Why I’m wearing my full Edwardian cycling costume of course! (apart from that hat which I picked up from M&S on route, but sssshhh don’t tell anyone!)

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This is how the vintage black and white film footage came out…

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Bear in mind I have the full costume on, including the corset which needed to be laced up to enable me to do the jacket up, was made for a model smaller than me and on top of it all I had to cycle round the velodrome, at least I wasn’t cold!

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Also you will remember from my post about filming this, this was the part of the shoot in which I got streaked, just imagine a nude dude running behind my right shoulder…I think I did quite a good job of keeping a straight face really, and I didn’t pass out, even when I was in stitches laughing.

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Thank you so much to everyone involved, especially Charlotte who talked me in front of the camera. I loved every moment of it!

Find out more about The life of the bicycle here;

see more of my stills from the film here;


Curiouser and curiouser: Lindsey in bicycleland


This is the third and final of my posts about my trip to The Science Museum’s archives as part of the Clapham Film Units life of the bicycle Project


In which i will explore the final space we visited, after crossing the base by taxi we headed to a much larger hanger filled with more bikes most of which are not suitable to display


This was the sight we were greeted with (squeak!)


This monster is a Roulette Sociable

On a Sociables riders sit side by side, these became became popular in the 1880’s in tricycle form and in the 1890’s a number of manufactuers began to make sociable versions of the safety bicycle, like this one. The sign tells me they were surprisingly easy to ride, but we had our doubts, wondering if having two riders of different heights and weights would affect the ride. I later found this short film which answers that question.

I also found another very colorful skirt guard, in a wall of dark colours this looked quite daring!


Dennis pointed out this bike with a drive shaft. A drive shaft is used instead of a chain to transmit power from the pedals to the wheel. they were were introduced in 1890, but were mostly replaced by chain-driven bicycles due to the gear ranges possible with sprockets and derailleurs.


I was not greatly surprised by this bike as my husband has one. Due to advancements in internal gear technology, modern shaft-driven bicycles have been introduced. this is ours

Everyone who sees him on it has to stop and talk to him about it!


This really is a beautiful bicycle, although this racer is from 1928 it still looks modern and is so well made


This is a Selbach. Maurice Selbach (the man) had his greatest successes in cycle racing in the early 1920s, setting lots of records, this encouraged him to set up business as  a cycle manufacturer in 1924. He was an innovative engineer and pioneered the used of taper tubes in frame construction and was amongst the first to use roller bearings for both the bottom bracket and headsets of his frames. Maurice Selbach evolved many ideas relating to modern lightweight bicycle design.


Look at the beautiful attention to detail (and branding) on the cogs and pedals. He died in 1935 after train lines caused him to fall from his bike under a truck.


we had a long discussion about what these tires are made from. Bicycle tire casing is made of cloth, usually nylon, though cotton and silk have also been used. My textile background helped me recognise these as silk. The casing provides the resistance against stretching which is needed to contain the internal air pressure while still remaining flexible enough to contour to the ground surface. The thread count of the cloth affects the weight and performance of the tire, and high thread counts are generally preferred. The dense weave of this silk casing is clearly shown here, were the Rubber tread has worn and rotted away revealing the silk case, which has also disintegrating shown the broken silk fibres.


I took a picture of this machine as I thought it was quite Steam Punk, I have no idea what it is or how it works, or more importantly what that handles for? do let me know if you do!


This is the back of a Victorian post office tricycle, sadly you see less and less cycling post-people. When my husband temped as a post-man, cycling was his favorite bit of the job, heavy on the way out and almost impossible up hills, the journey back was much lighter!

After exploring the bikes for some time we misbehaved a little and wondered off to have a quick look at the rest of the collection…


Really, look at this cool “stuff” how could you not?


They had whole planes, lots of cars and this beast, and of course we had to take a little peak in the back…


although it looked untouched the only thing in the back was seats


no idea what is this, but its pretty cool


This picture has a Charlotte filming in it for scale 🙂


This early bike has a horses head on the front which seems quite strange, till you discover that early bikes were often made by blacksmiths


I became fascinated by the different types and stages of rotting rubber and yes this is as disgusting and sticky as it looks, sadly this happens to all natural rubber which is a conservators nightmare


Even Dennis didn’t get out of being filmed, here he is telling Charlotte about this favorite bike in the collection


The hanger was huge, you could be in there forever, but we had to head back to London and real world!


A big thank you to Anna Watson for letting me use the picture at the top of the page, see more of Anna’s pictures on her flicker page, including more on the The Life of the Bicycle Film project:

Find out more about the HLF funded Life of the Bicycle project:



Swifter and yet more swift


On a cold and windy day not so very long ago myself and a gang of fellow cycle enthusiasts made our way out to the Science Museum’s “archive” in Swindon, for The life of the bicycle, a film being made by Clapham Film Unit with the friends of the Herme Hill Velodrome and the Science Museum.

The archive is really a huge great airbase, filled with hangers, filled with what can only be described a stuff, cool stuff, like a scaled up version of my granddads workshop or a old school Doctor Who set.


The Science Museum is planning a display of bicycles in the autumn as part of a movement themed display. For this project we were allowed access to the museums collection. (Squeak!)

The first space we went to was a workshop area, in which bikes being considered for display were being readied for shipping to central London. Science Museum curator Dennis-Kelles-Krause was on hand for questions. Although Dennis stressed bicycles are not his area of specialty, he was both knowledgeable and helpful as we skipped about gleefully (well, ok, I did, the others had more self control) discussing each bike and considering point of interest for further research.Much of our time was spent taking pictures, posing questions and exploring potential answers with Charlotte Bill, the films directors recording our ramblings.

My job was to collect our questions as the base for further research back at Science Museum HQ, this blog is that list, mixed in with other ramblings and pictures. It is about this point in writing this post that I realise I have enough material to bore normal people to tears and that this might take more than one post, so this is the first of, well however many it takes, I’m guessing three.

The Original

One you are in the room with an “original” its hard to focus on anything else, I can imagine everyone stopping and staring open mouthed when these first peddled past.


Commonly know as a Penny Farthing, these were the first fixies. This one is a Windsor and dates from 1878


Its hard to imagine anyone maneuvering hills on one of these, but Rodger Crosskey highlighted that fact that a poem was written about just that!


This one by Henry Charles Beeching was written about going down hill on such a bike

Going down Hill on a Bicycle: A Boy’s Song


With lifted feet, hands still,
I am poised, and down the hill
Dart, with heedful mind
The air goes by in a wind.

Swifter and yet more swift,
Till the heart with a mighty lift
Makes the lungs laugh, the throat cry:-
‘Oh bird, see; see, bird, I fly!


‘Is this, is this your joy?
O bird, then I, though a boy,
For a golden moment share
your feathery life in the air!’

Say heart, is there aught like this
In a world that is full of bliss?
‘Tis more than skating, bound,
Steel-shod to the level ground.


Speed slackens now, I float
Awhile in my airy boat;
Till, when the wheels are scarce crawl,
My feet to the treadles fall.

Alas, that the longest hill
Must end in a vale; but still,
Who climbs with toil, whereso’er,
Shall find wings waiting there.

Or you could imagine it another way…

The Baby Penny

It’s hard to imagine how rich the original owner of this “Baby Penny” as I have decided to call it would have been, or how hard it would have been to learn on, I’m guessing they didn’t have stabilisers? This Childs Penny Farthing dates from 1880. Early children’s bikes was one area of further research we discussed.


Rattle and roll

Many of the early owners of bicycles were rich young men, keen to let off steam and dare I say it, show off, the very first bike, the boneshaker was the perfect way for the regency man to show of his muscly legs in his finest breeches. Anyone who has worn breeches could tell you how little fun this would be and how likely you would be to do an “incredible hunk” and bust right out of them, never mind the poor washer women’s nerves at a time when light colours were very fashionable.


These machines were more like a scooter, powered by being pushing rather than pedalled along. This one is in fact a turn of the last century replica of an original (1904-7) It features a seat and a cushion for your arms, comfy…well it’s a nice gesture, like bunch of flowers for a hay fever sufferer.


Strange bedfellows

The third penny farthing on show was a Rudge ordinary bicycle from 1884, this bike has been stripped down to be lightened for racing, the seat is basic and there is no stand to help you get on thing. This was a track bike, and in the workshop it was placed next to another track bike built for speed and stripped down to the basics.


This bike is Chris Boardman’s Lotus sport, the 2nd of the replicas of the original made by Lotus Engineering.


The two could not be more different, but they were both built to do the same thing, go as fact as possible, and the more we discussed this the more we started to see similarities.


One of the starkest contrasts is the position of the rider, which has changed dramatically, what has not changed is the total lack of fear needed to go at top speeds on these bikes, which don’t bother with niceties such as brakes.


Mind you having fallen off my Pashley, thanks to the combination of speed and brakes in the last week I’m starting to see the sense in the Bicycle messenger mantra “brakes are death” or at least my poor skinned legs are.


Both bikes have clearly been well ridden, and the patterns of wear tell as story, in the same way that clothes tell us the story through patterns of wear.

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A big Thank you to Anna Watson for letting me use the picture at the top of the page, see more of Anna’s pictures on her flicker page, including more on the The Life of the Bicycle Film project:


Find out more about the HLF funded Life of the Bicycle project:

My next post, part two of three on this trip, will explore one of my favorite topics, female cyclists.

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In the beginning there was stabilisers

In the beginning there was stabilisers…

When I was first asked to be involved in The Clapham Film Units and the friends of Herme Hill velodromes Film, The life of the bicycle I asked my mum to dig out a picture of me on my bike as a tot.

After much rummaging mum said that there weren’t any, apparently “you never showed much interest” great, thanks mum, that will really go down well on a film about enthusiastic cyclists. She went to tell me she had some pictures of my younger sister learning to ride her bike (yes plural) so much for being the prodigal first child, looks like I was just the warm up act

Anyway the hunt continued after it was confirmed that yes, my sister would rather stab herself repeatedly in the face with a Biro than so much as acknowledge the existence of the bicycle*

Then after we had all give up hope, quite expectantly mum came up with this, in a friends photo album, which I have been instructed to take good care of, lord knows why its suddenly important now!

This picture was taken when I was about 6 or 7ish, outside my grandads house, which was over the road from my own childhood home, I am on my first bike, it was already quite the antique having shown most of the family’s post war children the ropes.

the picture is out of focus, well its not, if you look to the right, the plant claiming frame is nice and sharp…

I am wearing my classic look of 1940s inspired 1980s floral Laura Ashley type smocked dress over a t-shirt, with very 1980s pinky white tights and sandals, I had quite a few of those dresses, its not too dissimilar to what I wear now really

I look happy, in a poesy sort of way but then I still have my stabilisers, I don’t remember having this picture taken but I do remember the day my grandad removed my stabilisers and I discover that riding a bike was in fact impossible

I just didn’t get balance, much to the bewilderment of my sporty parents, even much, much later aged 10+ I was regularly cycling into lampposts, as soon as I noticed them I could not stop myself from cycling into them, I fell off a lot, I dont remember having a cycle helmet, which quite explains quite a lot. My younger sister had one, which she worn on her bike handlebars, which explains even more…

When I look at my happy little face now all I think of is the shock that will soon follow and the next tenish years of trying to get the hang of the whole two wheel thing

Anyhow much, much, much later, here I am covered in bruises and scabs, still learning, still getting back on. Quake with fear lampposts

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* I’m hoping its a stage, do people still go through “stages” in their mid 20’s?

You can’t look where your going if you don’t know where your going


It is no longer my birthday, I am now older and all my presents 
are open, boo

The husband is up north ensuring the wall keeps the wildlings 
and white walkers out, so I have the house to myself and a 
studio day is the plan of action

Some nasty admin tasks do not help to lift my mood and as I 
have a rather special dress to get ready for a fitting this 
evening I decide drastic action is in order
Cola (with a slice of lemon and even more importantly a straw) 
chocolate buttons and the labyrinth DVD on the imac...
mmmh that's better

While sewing and watching I reflect on how the film never fails 
to lift my mood and start planning my autobiography, told through
the structure of the film*


Dress done, I head of on frank to my evening fittings which 
include opening another card and present ( I'm a very lucky girl) 
before heading back to the rowing club to admire Ella's newly 
uncast leg and talk about the cycle ride she has roped me into 
on Sunday, well when I say "roped" what i mean is I bit her hand off.

It's quite hard to find girls to cycle with, you see, 
they keep breaking
Ella is perhaps the only person I know who comes close to being as 
accident prone as me...only I fall and bounce she falls and shatters, 
however, having raced in a four with her I can also confirm she is 
one of the most competitive people I know which should make this 
interesting...dont you think Ella? ;) 

* i know every word of this film by heart, and have on many 
occasions recited some or all of it, as a one women impromptu 
show and sometimes with other wakkos, am happy to do so on 
request, but trust me, its a very weird thing to witness

Three walnut whips, easy on the walnuts and a shot glass of the warmest orange juice known to humanity please

The thing about Saturdays is that I’m often up and on my bike before I’m fully awake, in the winter this can be quite painful but once the suns out there is no better way to acclimatise to the day.


Today’s not in the least (hem) hung-over pedal to the rowing club was followed by my first row in an eight of the year* and the first crab I have caught in at least a year, A proper over your head number at full kilt. All of this silliness was preceded by the cooking of 24 bacon butties, with the help of the very vegetarian Tracy. All of which were quickly snaffled by hungry rowers.


Before I could relax in the sun my Nokia N95 intruder alarm informed me my mother was sitting outside my house and a swift cycle back was required before said effort was rewarded by a free lunch for myself and him-indoors.


Once again I was so hungry* I didn’t really eat lunch as absorb it instantaneously without bothering with things like chewing, this may be because up until this point all of the aforementioned exercise was achieved on a breakfast of three walnut whips* and a shot glass of warm orange juice, oh yes breakfast of champions.


Any time, which could have been used in sewing or cycling, was taken up by sleeping, such a bad person am I…


I did however watch another cycling themed film, Overcoming, I had tried to watch this on Thursday but the husband informed me he was much too tired for subtitles, to which I replied you don’t need to the subtitles their speaking Danish it’s like practically the same thing.


The film is described as a profound and penetrating insight into the hermetically closed world of professional cycling. My review is as follows;


– Can people’s necks really make that noise without breaking?


– These guys fall off a lot, does that mean I’m not in fact a shit cyclist even thou I’m always covered in scrapes, cuts, burns and bruises?


– I’d like someone to clean and maintain my bike… oh yes, thanks him-indoors…


– Lance should do panto, he’s like the ultimate all time bad guy, I made him-indoors dress as Lance Armstrong for Halloween last year, see illustration A


– Ok so perhaps Danish isn’t just like English, oh no wait that’s French…how many languages does this guy speak?




* We went to the house, I love rowing in the Fens, you have such as great landmarks to aim for, such as “the house” “the power cables” and one of my favs “the white sign” which is really just a post, as the sign fell off years ago


*I don’t eat bacon


*I don’t eat the walnuts, him-indoors gets thrown those







A list of things I have cycled with, in and over

A list of Things I have cycled with, in and over

You may think Bradley Wiggins is an impressive cyclist, but 
has Wiggo ever had to cycle with any of these totally 
inappropriate items on board?

Things I (and him indoors) have cycled with...

- A big bunch of flowers, First thought on being given flowers 
"how lovely!" second thought " How am I going to get these home?" 
Great present for a cyclist, especially one with no basket. God 
I sound ungrateful but you should see how they look at the other 

- A weeks worth of food for two, standard trip this one

- A full length umbrella, not up, which is silly as I'm 
already wet then right? 

- A bin bag full of balloons, I can't even remember why, 
all I remember is the wind...

- A Roll of fabric, the husband has so perfected this he 
can multitask and also do an excellent impression of firing 
a bazooka at the same time. 

- A Suitcase, the big kind you would never manage to sneak 
on as hand luggage, both carried on my handlebars and wheeled alongside, 
should also add very full and heavy...

- Another bike, whole and in bits, in bits is in fact harder, 
whole is quite a circus trick

- A sewing machine, an old heavy 1970s one, not the shit kind they 
sew in John Lewis, this is managed by putting it in a suitcase

- A mannequin, easier than you think, but looks very very strange, 
do not make new friends while doing this

- A huge wicker shopping basket of wire coat hangers, this was in 
fact the worst of all, bloody hangers kept throwing themselves in 
my spokes, but then we all know hangers bite

- A long dress bag, full of heavy dress, which must not be creased 
or covered in mud (also see "crinoline" yes really, I kid you not)

- An A1 portfolio, flat and rolled, fine until the wind catches you 
or you need to turn a corner, I first discovered this while at college, 
the hard way

- An Fragile A2 planning model, this was the husband, I think it was 
raining too, he has shit for luck, poor man

- The whole contents of my large full freezer, including 4 whole chickens 
and lord knows how many sausages, this was me, late at night, after a 
breakdown (in more ways than one) imagine if I had been stopped and 
searched, I can see the headlines now, thankfully (?) it was snowing 
so nothing defrosted...

Things I have seen other cyclists ride with that shocked me

- A surf board, in Cambridge, ON THE ROAD, Mill road no less, I just 
could not get my phone out quick enough to take a pic thou. I should 
say 99% of my effects were done on off road on Peterborough's 
wonderful cycle network

Things I have cycled wearing

- Corsets (range of eras, always far to tight)

- Full 1950's petticoats

- Tight pencil skirts

- A range of colourful Mini skirts

- A Victorian night dress

- Full Tudor court dress (its still in recovery)

- Non stretch super tight skinny jeans (RRRIIIIPPP or RIP jeans, 
same thing really, unless you want to go round with your bum out)

- Too many silly hats to list

Also you really have not lived till you have got your stockings 
mangled in your chain, but dont take my word for it, get your 
suspender belt on and get peddling! 

Things I have unintentionally cycled over or through

A snake, yes a real live one, i think it was sun bathing, 
didn't see it till it was too late...squish

The flooded river, over a metre deep, i thought it was only a 
little flooded, it wasn't

A hedge, with no gap, and thorns, it now has a gab

My neighbors flower beds so sorry "drives to the shop round the 
corner and reads The Daily Mail" for messing with your Anally 
retentive borders, it was a accident, honest!

See my Pintrest page for evidence of some of the above