Profile of Newcastle cyclist, John Harrington

John Harrington has kindly agreed to  his cycling profile being published on this blog …John H
What work do you do?
I am a registered nurse working as a Specialist in Rehabillitation. Previously I was a hospital manager in London and a Nurse Practitioner.
How many bikes do you have? Tell me a bit about them …
I have 6 bikes, two I share with my wife.
1) Hi end Condor race bike – I opted for an aluminium frame (I dont like carbon) as the titanium frame was a bit over budget with campag gears, very fast and responsive and bright green!
2) Early 90’s Italian stel frame – a Chesini from Verona, I built this one up myself using hand built wheels and 90’s Campag chorus gears, my wife rides this one, it is lovely
3) Track bike is a very fast English alu frame (Dolan) hand built wheels with Miche drivetrain – I managed to build this one for about 400 pounds and it races very nicely on the boards, have taken it on a few velodromes and always enjoyed it.
4) An old English path racer frame, very relaxed geometry, I run it as a fixed gear (sometimes freewheeled single speed) commuter I built this as a commuter bike for my wife when we lived in London using older parts and nice brown leather Brooks saddle. It was very handy when marshalling the London Tweed Run.
5) My old beater mtb that I use to play polo on and ride to the beach with my surfboard.
6) A new commuter/polo bike that is currently under construction – it won’t be pretty
John tweed ride
What types of bike riding do you do?
Generally recreation, I try and get a once weekly hard ride of around 50km. A once monthly pootle with my wife along the beaches or on the Fernleigh track (strictly leisurely pace!) And once a week whizzing around the polo court. I pootle around the park with the kids as well. I keep promising to get back into racing (road and track) & the odd cyclocross but with three little kids, full time work, Uni and a love of surfing and fishing I dont have much time left to devote to getting back to the pain cave.

Do you commute to work? If yes, can you tell me about your commute?
Absolutely commute whatever the weather (Don’t believe in a second car), compared to my 15 miles across central London this commute is a doddle. Out of my house at Lambton, on to the Lambton – Jesmond bike path, cross to the Newcastle Uni bike path, down Shortland High street to my work at Hunter Valley Private Hospital. All up around 15 minutes at a brisk pace. The lanes are mostly empty at that time.
What’s your favourite ride around Newcastle?
My favourite ride is a loop around the beaches starting at my home goining along Honeysuckle (not the greatest development promoting active transport) past the Merewther baths incorporating a climb up past Glenrock reserve. I turn back down past Westfield Kotara, usually do this two or three times. I also love some of the rides around the Hunter Valley roads and the Vineyards. Beautiful countryside. I also love the odd MTB through the bush but I spend most of my time on the road

What do you think needs to be done to improve bike riding in Newcastle?
Newcastle has a progressive cycling advocacy group in the Newcastle Cycleways Movement and they have some great ideas. Two areas I would like to ssee bike laned are the Maud st lights and a bike lane to Maitland. The LGA needs to incorporate “Bikability” into new developments, they did do an impressive survey into cycling in Newcastle see 
http://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/116718/Report_-_Cycle-_Final_with_Appendix.pdf , but other councils internationally have set targets to increase bike use. One of my favourite schemes to get people on bikes is the UK’s Ride to Work scheme, see http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CC0QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cyclescheme.co.uk%2F&ei=pY9xUoeuLIr4lAWsjIHQDw&usg=AFQjCNEIVzNFVq-B5-rBmA_S8q3Fzj7dKA&sig2=JeKGlBV8fpIw5NNtDXbRgA As 42% of cyclists have been abused in Newcastle by motorists and 52% have been hit by car doors much more neds to be done to train drivers to be considerate to other road users, cyclists need to be considerate of other road/path users as well, and aware that negativity is easily targeted at cyclists. e.g a bank robber who escapes by a bicycle is a “cyclist” to a news reporter whereas if they escape by car you won’t see them described as a driver, or jogger if they ran away.
Anything else you’d like to add?

Cycling in Newcastle is some of the most enjoyable I have done anywhere in the world, I can strap my surfboard to my bike and get on the lovely Fernleigh track and be down at Dudley beach in 30 minutes. Or I can be riding past beautiful vineyards and stopping to rehydrate with sparkling white! No wonder cycling is popular, I hope the council do more to encourage and foster this.

Thanks for this insight into your riding John, you certainly have some great bikes and a lot of diverse cycling experience. Newcastle does really have some great riding to offer. I agree regarding the labelling of “cyclist” rather than “people who ride bikes” and I think this is an important distinction to make.
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