A couple of years ago I wrote and posted a poem about doping in cycling called Dopers’ Lament. More recently I wrote this short poem about the sadness of the young men who died as a result of “doing what had to be done”….


Bike passed to mechanic
Showered, massaged, refuelled
Another day done
Another lesson learned
Doing what has to be done
And he dreams of bigger days
Of Pyrenees and Alps
Of his name on the road
Dreams of glory
Of podium girls
And fast cars
And he drifts off
On a hotel bed
And molten Macadam blood
Seeps through enlarged ventricles
And a young man


I Like people riding bikes

This ought to go on my cycling blog as much as on my poetry blog – maybe it will. I wrote this on the occasion of leaving my job at CTC and it explains why people like me work so hard to encourage more people to ride bikes. My former colleagues had this already but its time to share…..

Oh Yes and here is a gratuitous picture of a tree:

I like people riding bikes

I like people riding bikes
Young ones, old ones and in-betweeners
Thin ones, large ones, tall ones and short ones 
Racers, wannabes and commuters
In Lycra, corduroy or pin-striped suits
Tourists and mountain bikers
B… M… Xers
People that ride with their mates
And even the single speed hipsters
(But preferably with brakes)
I like road bikes, track bikes
Bicycles, tricycles, unicycles
Recumbents and tandems
I like bikes with pedals, with treadles
And those with hand cranks
Folders, mountain bikes, BMX bikes and
Speedway bikes (but not on the road)
I like cargo bikes and trailers
Balance bikes, trikes, kiddie cranks
Tag-alongside and child seats
I even like bikes with electrical assist
I like steel, aluminium, bamboo and carbon
(just a little bit)
I’m not sure about cardboard, manganese
Plywood and plastic
They might have bells or hooters
Saddlebags, bar-bags
Panniers or rucksacks
I like people riding bikes
I’ll pedal alone
We’ll pedal together
I’ll take the road, high or low
I’ll take the rough stuff or the smooth stuff
The single track or the velodrome
I’ll take cycle lanes and shared lanes
I’ll just take the lane
I’ll pedal to work and I’ll pedal for fun
I’ll give or take a croggy or a backie
Or a push on steep hills
Maybe I’ll take a tow
I like people riding bikes
I don’t like everything
I don’t like bad riding
I don’t like bad driving
I don’t like victim blaming
I don’t like hi-vis and I don’t like helmets
I don’t like safety placebos and mystical rituals
I’ve seen the Emperors’ new clothes
Bright shining yellow
With a polystyrene cap
Hip, hip, hooray
The crowds cheer
As the otherwise invisible
Emperor pedals by

And I do like people riding bikes 


Written for Rochdale’s commemoration of Gallipoli this is, like my other war poems, not a celebration of courage and sacrifice (important as those things are) but an indictment of war itself and of the foolishness of the human race.

Canakkale Savasi
Where victory is no sweeter than defeat
A battlefield between the high ground
And the moral high ground
The beach and the hills
The gulf of belief between them
A stubborn separation of ideologies
Oceans or continents apart
Stripped-bare lands, smouldering and smoking
Drenched in blood
Where victory is no sweeter than defeat
Defeat the only exit
A battlefield of slow contrition
And lives wasting day by day
Where a quick death becomes preferable
To a slow-dying, slow-starving, forced-walk
Towards an impossible exile
And the victors loose the one thing that mattered
And with humanity destroyed, what was left?
Where victory is no sweeter than defeat
Where new countries emerge
With foundations of blood built on suffering
Again the blood flows from the high ground
With new hatred, new wars and new causes
And the pain echoes across another century
No celebrations nor commemorations
Nor pomp nor ceremony disguise
The days humanity faded
Where victory is no sweeter than defeat
A battleground, named by the defeated
Remembered for butchery, for death
Defeat the only exit
Victory a lingering defeat
Surely no pride, only sadness
And a perpetual warning; ignored
Through blood soaked centuries

To humanity’s peril