TED talk: Magical Houses Made of Bamboo

Anybody having doubts about the strength and incredible benefits of bamboo which has tensile strength of steel and compressive strength of concrete? It’s power as a sustianable material is just incredible. Watch this inspirative TED talk and think if it isn’t the bamboo that you would like to leave to our children as the material of the future!

 

And here is the Bamboo Housing for Haiti which directly adresses the contextual specificities in consideration of emergent situations designed Paris-based design studio Saint Val Architect.

bamboo houses haiti

The 5 Most Beautiful Bicycle Quotes

The 5 Most Beautiful Bicycle Quotes

Bicycle quote Louis J Helle JR

For some inspiration, I decided to include here my top 5 bicycle quotes by famous people. As you can see smart people know what is good…

The first one is by Louis J Helle JR (I really don’t know who he was… but his bike quote made him pretty famous)

Enjoy the quotes & share them 🙂

Which are your favourite ones?

 

 

 

Bicycle Quote by John F. Kennedy

Bicycle quote John F. Kennedy

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”

 

Bicycle Quote by Confucius

Bicycle quote Confucius

“It does not matter how slow you go so long as you do not stop.”

hmm… was there a bike in the times of Confucius? Probably yes…

 

Bicycle Quote by Ernest Hemingway

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”

 

Bicycle Quote by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Bicycle Quote by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”

Bicycle Commuting in Bratislava From the Eyes of a Washingtonian

After watching the video Cycle Commuting in the US from the eyes of a Dutch Cyclists, I thought to myself…“this is something I have got to write about too”. In the short film (see it below the article) the author makes several observations about how cycling infrastructure, clothing, bike choice and commuter demographics frame “the commute” in the US.

Almost all major US cities that count as commuter hubs feature the following: commuters who “race” to and from destinations… “racing” to keep pace with motorized traffic, unprotected bike lanes, and a very low percentage of women, children, older and non-athletic riders. How funny it was to hear the calm Dutchman’s accent critiquing and dissecting my commuter culture. Yes, it’s true, when living in Washington D.C., I often would commute in spandex. Yes, and I’d race the traffic… “better to move at their speed than get blown by at 30 or 40mph”.

What really stood out, was that despite living in Central Europe, my commuting culture hasn’t really changed. Traffic in Bratislava, Slovakia is very aggressive, the infrastructure is minimal, laws go unenforced, many roads in poor repair, and I am still racing to safety.

Except for the months of December and March, I am generally riding my cyclocross bike, with clip-less pedals and averaging 22mph/35km in traffic. Actually, I kind of like it, but I actually believe that on my route….this is the only real choice.

I won’t waste time imagining raised or guarded bike lanes, or special lights like they have in the Netherlands. Oh, did you hear about the heated roads to keep ice and snow off?

Bratislava is a commuter battleground.

At present it is, or at least was, waning in terms of accessibility for cyclists. 12 years ago when I first arrived here, there were 60% less vehicles, so despite not having special facilities and infrastructure, cycling in the road was very safe. Very few people had access to powerful cars and hands free mobile devices had yet to be conceived. People often ride singlespeed bikes that were made prior to WWII or small 1 or 3 spd folding bikes with large baskets. Locks, locks were very minimalistic, lets imagine a 3mm thick cable or 10 small links of chain and a suitcase lock.

The Movement

Looking at the commuter movement here, and it is a movement, you’ll see two groups. Sports/”this is my car” types -this is the group I’d assign to myself- and the indie/fixie crowd…making a statement that they look good and don’t need a car. Disclaimer: As a serious cyclist of 24 years, I have a hard time accepting the logic of fixed gear riders who put their lives in jeopardy for the sake of a trend…in a city built of 1 mountains and three large hills, where cars will not stop even for the elderly and stroller pushing parents, it is ludicrous. Group A. the sports group, tends to ride American style, aggressively facing the perils of traffic, leveraging athleticism to stay or feel safe. Group B. generally rides the sidewalks (pavement for British readers) or cruises benignly and usually helmet free along the shoulder.

Anyway, back to the Dutch approach. Old Europe (Western) can go slow. What I mean is the twisty turny roads, arched bridges, canal side paths and lanes that predominate old cities like Amsterdam, already mean that it is the car that doesn’t fit well into the scale of the city. On the other hand, both the US and large swaths of post war Central Europe, where communism struck its paint strokes feature the wide and straight boulevards that make automobile use the predominate mode, and very logical to a point. Structurally speaking it is this similarity that leads to the high speeds and racer mentality necessary to face many of the routes here.

Last note on this dynamic.

There is another similarity, social change. In many respects the US and Central and Eastern Europe share this too. Americans have been pushed harder and faster to “modernity” than any other population. Cars, planes, the internet, tablets…medication, fast food and now social media were all unleashed with little regulation to keep things in check. While Europe has or had all of these things, a sense of incremental introduction can be sensed.

In the Eastern Bloc though, there was little change…until in one fell stroke the market was opened. Once the momentum of “economic prosperity” hit places like Bratislava, lets say in 2003-5, people sprung for cars, cable tv and all the other luxuries that their new purchasing power could buy. Riding a bike or taking the very well developed public transport network become totally uncool.

Only now, through the early stages of civil society, and some realization that not all that preexisted the changes was bad or worse, do you see the movement to have a more humanistic city develop, Cycling has a role in this. Cyclist here, in the US and other places without a Dutch style commuter culture are literally a human sacrifice to force recognition of the need for civil society or at least equal access public space.

Increase Your Bike Performance: Breathing Tips by Yoga Expert Melissa West

How to breathe correctly… A trivial question? Doesn’t have to be. Believe me that most of you breathe insufficiently. Breathing is a gateway to multiple processes in your body and it is the best way to control your stress. No surprise that most martial arts masters are working a lot with breathing. A boxer never punches without exhaling simultaneously as this would incredibly decrease his power. So why don’t many cyclists even think about improving their way of breathing?

Simply by following the advice on proper breathing provided in this article, you will be able to:

  • Keep your tempo much easier
  • Relax your body much faster when beginning your training (helps a lot when biking after work)
  • Accelerate much more easily and of course, go faster…

So What is Wrong With Our Breathing?

  • The increasing stress of modern living makes us breathe more quickly and less deeply
  • Our breathing is simply too shallow and too quick
  • Shallow breathing does not exercise the lungs enough, so they lose some of their function, causing a further reduction in vitality.

The latter means that while breathing during your training is important, we also need to be careful throughout the day to keep the lungs
vital.

We Asked a Yoga Expert…

There is one domain that deals with breathing probably­ the most and that is yoga. Breathing in yoga is called ‘Pranayama’. Yoga practitioners know best how to breath and they can even massage their interior organs by applying breathing techniques while in different positions.

This is why I’ve asked a well­known yoga teacher Dr. Melissa West about proper breathing…

Can yoga breathing can help cyclists while riding and possibly after wards as well? Why?

Using the full potential of your lungs can increase your aerobic capacity and help prevent injury. Practicing breathing on the yoga mat will help to teach you how to fill your lungs completely with air and then slowly release. This will help to slowly build your lung capacity. Deep breathing will help to circulate more oxygen to your muscles and increase
oxygen uptake to your brain. Over the course of your ride this will reduce your fatigue and help you stay more relaxed. 

How to breathe properly?

I also asked Melissa to give us a few simple tips on how to breathe properly in yoga. She was very kind and directed me to a few of her great videos. Even this short introduction helped me a lot in learning to breathe more deeply:
UPDATED: So here is the new video made exclusively for cyclists… enjoy! 

If you want to invest some more time to increase your lung capacity (be sure that it will pay off) check out this exercise to increase your lung capacity


and here you can try different yoga breathing techniques

However, yoga doesn’t help cyclists only with breathing. There is a lot more that you can do. I recommend that you to try this yoga for cyclists workout by Melisa. (This one is not for free but if you’re taking cycling seriously it will definitely help you.)

Did this article inspire you to improve your breathing? Did you notice any results? Share them with us in comments…

My Bike Challenge: Brighton to Paris on a Bike for Two

From wining Tour de France to going more often to work on a bike all of us have some personal bike challenges… This is why I want to start a “series” on Bikestein with personal challenges of our readers. It can be really anything showing your love to biking. Share with us your big and small challenges and show us that all of us are able to push our limits a little bit just for the joy of riding!

I would like to open this “series” with a story by Frances and Nigel who are not thinking only about themselves with their next Bike Challenge…

Frances and Nigel on a Bike for Two

My husband and I are keen cyclists. We cycle for fun and spend a lot of time doing it. But I suppose the way we get from A to B is quite unique, because like most things we do in life; we do it together ­ on a bicycle made for two!

I am 56 years old and my husband, Nigel, is 58. We have been married for 27 years and have always enjoyed cycling. I think it is fair to say that Nigel has always been the stronger cyclist and so when my knees began to feel the strain of the many miles of pedaling, we decided that tandem riding was the way to go.

We have been lucky enough to enjoy a range of cycling challenges on our tandem over the years, from Brighton to Paris to cycling from Brighton  to London and back again in one day. So when a Fundraising Officer asked Nigel and I for ideas to help Brighton Housing Trust, it seemed natural to think of cycling.

On the 21st June 2014, we will be embarking on the challenge of a lifetime­ we will be cycling 143 miles from Brighton to Paris on the longest day of the year. The one day, ultimate bike ride, will be a test of stamina and endurance but I think we are ready for it.

We are so excited about the challenge. It’s a beautiful, scenic route that will take us from Brighton, over the Channel, through the scenic Seine valley and to the Eiffel Tower before nightfall.

bike for two
Our bike for two

Challenge for Us, Help for Others

This isn’t an easy challenge, but we wanted to do something that will really leave us feeling a sense of achievement when we finally cross the finish line. Cycling from Brighton to Paris in one day will certainly do that!

We will fundraising for First Base Day Centre, a Brighton Housing Trust project that works with homeless men and women; helping them to move on from homelessness with a range of advice, support, education and training.

Both Nigel and I have been really impressed by the charities approach to their work; dealing with not just the effects of homelessness but the causes too, so that people can move on from homelessness and never look back.

bike for two
Here is Niguel next to our bike

What About Joining Us?

The charity has ten places available for the ultimate cycle challenge. If you think this one might be for you then get in touch with Liz Davies, BHT’s Fundraising Officer on 01273 645464 or by email at liz.davies@bht.org.uk or on Twitter at @LizDaviesBHT.

We look forward to meeting you for the challenge of a life time! Although we warn you that our experience of ‘challenges of a lifetime’ is that they become addictive, and you end up repeating them every year.

Bicycle as an Interior Decoration? Some Inspiration…

I love the idea of a bike not being a disturbing element in your flat but rather a modern urban trophy hanging from your wall… Why not to instal your vintage bike, fixie, your best piece (or all of them) as an interior decoration?

I was touched with some nice ideas of holders and interior designs I’ve seen over last few years… And I was so jealous at anybody not living in a center having a flat big enough to hang a bike as a decoration… but as you will see some of the holders, racks and designs as possible to use even in a tiny room… Anyway, enjoy this gallery I gathered from some other blogs and get some inspiration… (I only need to get rid of one big cupboard and hang my bikes too 🙂

 

Bike Tropheys
Source: TheLuxurySpot.com

 

Bike Shelf
Source: CoolMaterial.com

 


Source: Mini Penny

 
 
Bike Clothes Hanger
Source: ???

 


Source: Optea-Referencement.com

 

Bicycle gallery in a living room
Source: BicyclingNatives.com

Source of the first image: MagneticMag.com

 

Is This Bike Really Radar Absorbent? First Sneak Peak from NAHBS14

Here is the first image of the B-9 Nighthawk by Brano Meres taken at the NAHBS bike show. BikeRumor called this bike “Wicked”! Enjoy it!

Its styling reminds of the original Stealth fighter, the F-117 Nighthawk, the bike is black… almost radar absorbent. Any eye that falls on this will be captured in its dark gravity. With flat paneling it looks like a veiled threat. More details soon…

Road to NAHBS 2014: Brano Meres

In the last few hundred hours of work and worry before the show, builder Brano Meres of BME Design is making an even more demanding journey to bring his bikes to NAHBS and to the world. Based in Bratislava, Slovakia – a former industrial hotspot behind the Iron Curtain in what was Czechoslovakia – he is meticulous. He is taking the painful and uncommon for custom builders route of getting all his frames and components tested to EN14764 safety standards.

Read the full story on BikeRumor.com