Capitol to Coast Sportif

Capital to Coast 2009Could you help raise funds for charity by pedalling up to 60 glorious miles?

It’s the fun ride of the summer that turns pedal power into much needed funds for charity. Join up to 2,000 riders on a beautifully scenic cycle ride along open country roads, finishing on the seafront at Hove.

Choose from 3 starting points:

  • Esher, Surrey – 60 miles
    NEW for 2009!
  • Hove, Sussex – 60 mile circular route
  • Haywards Heath, Sussex – 30 miles

Click here for more information about
Capital to Coast 2009

Register online

Download & print a registration form

Fern Brittain“If I can get on my bike and really enjoy the pleasure of cycling a challenging distance, so can YOU! And remember it’s not just you who benefits! Go on. Give those wheels a whirl!”
Fern Britton

Bradley Wiggins

Photo courtesy of

“I’m delighted to support the Capital to Coast Cycle Challenge for Charity, which raises funds for such worthy causes. Cycling’s my passion and I’m delighted to support this great event, which is open to people of all abilities. I wish each and every one of you the best of luck”
Bradley Wiggins
Triple Olympic Gold Medal Cyclist

Rebecca Romero

Photo courtesy of

“Having completed this route as a teenager, I know that the Capital to Coast cycle challenge is a tough challenge to take on but an effort made for a very worthy cause.  I would like to wish all the cyclists well and hope they have an enjoyable and successful day raising funds for the charities involved with the event.”
Rebecca Romero MBE

Boris Johnson“The Capital to Coast Cycle Challenge for Charity is a fantastic event. Why not join in the fun this year, get fit and  enjoy a wonderful day’s cycling while raising vital funds for charities in London and the South East.”
Boris Johnson

Great Scottish Inventors as mentioned in the Two Johns Podcast

John Loudon McAdam (September 21, 1756November 26, 1836) was a Scottish engineer and road-builder. He invented a new process, “macadamisation“, for building roads with a smooth hard surface that would be more durable and less muddy than soil-based tracks.

Modern road construction still reflects McAdam’s influence. Of subsequent improvements, the most significant was the introduction of tar (originally coal tar) to bind the road surface’s stones together – “tarmac” (for Tar Macadam) – followed later by the use of hot-laid tarred aggregate or tar-sprayed chippings to create better road metalling. More recently, oil-based asphalt laid on reinforced concrete has become a major road surface, but its use of granite or limestone chippings still recalls McAdam’s innovation.

John Boyd Dunlop (February 5, 1840October 23, 1921), born in Scotland, was the inventor who was one of the founders of the rubber company that bore his name, Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company.
He was born on a farm in Dreghorn, North Ayrshire, and studied to be a veterinary surgeon at the Dick Vet, University of Edinburgh, a profession he pursued for nearly ten years at home, moving to Belfast, Ireland, in 1867. He was a good friend of Queen Victoria.
In 1887, he developed the first practical pneumatic or inflatable tyre for his son’s tricycle, tested it, and patented it on December 7, 1888. However, two years after he was granted the patent Dunlop was officially informed that it was invalid as Scottish inventor Robert William Thomson (1822 – 1873), had patented the idea in France in 1846 and in the US in 1847. Dunlop’s patent was later declared invalid on the basis of Thomson’s prior art, see Tyres.
Dunlop’s development of the pneumatic tyre arrived at a crucial time in the development of road transport. He also had his own veterinarian practice in Ireland. Commercial production began in late 1890 in Belfast. Dunlop assigned his patent to William Harvey Du Cros, in return for 1,500 shares in the resultant company and in the end did not make any great fortune by his invention. Dunlop died in Dublin, and is buried in Deans Grange Cemetery.
Dunlop’s image appears today on the £10 note issued by the Northern Bank which is in circulation in Northern Ireland.[1]

Kirkpatrick Macmillan (1812 – 1878)

Kirkpatrick Macmillan

Kirkpatrick Macmillan ©

Macmillan was a Scottish blacksmith who is credited with the invention of the pedal bicycle.
Kirkpatrick Macmillan was born in 1812 in Dumfriesshire, the son of a blacksmith. He did a variety of jobs as a young man, before settling into working with his father in 1824. At around that time he saw a hobbyhorse being ridden along a nearby road, and decided to make one for himself. Upon completion, he realised what a radical improvement it would be if he could propel it without putting his feet on the ground. Working at his smithy, he completed his new machine in around 1839.
This first pedal bicycle was propelled by a horizontal reciprocating movement of the rider’s feet on the pedals. This movement was transmitted to cranks on the rear wheel by connecting rods; the machine was extremely heavy and the physical effort required to ride it must have been considerable. Nevertheless, Macmillan quickly mastered the art of riding it on the rough country roads, and was soon accustomed to making the fourteen-mile journey to Dumfries in less than an hour. His next exploit was to ride the 68 miles into Glasgow in June 1842. The trip took him two days and he was fined five shillings for causing a slight injury to a small girl who ran across his path.
He never thought of patenting his invention or trying to make any money out of it, but others who saw it were not slow to realize its potential, and soon copies began to appear for sale. Gavin Dalzell of Lesmahagow copied his machine in 1846 and passed on the details to so many people that for more than 50 years he was generally regarded as the inventor of the bicycle. However, Macmillan was quite unconcerned with the fuss his invention had prompted, preferring to enjoy the quiet country life to which he was accustomed. He died on 26 January 1878.

John Logie Baird (August 13, 1888 – June 14, 1946) was a Scottish engineer and inventor of the world’s first working television system, also the world’s first ever colour broadcast. Although Baird’s electromechanical system was eventually displaced by purely electronic systems (such as those of Vladimir Zworykin and Philo Farnsworth), his early successes demonstrating working television broadcasts and his colour and cinema television work earn him a prominent place in television’s invention.

The Third Scottish Cyclist the Two Johns did name

“If you can do this, you can do anything.”Ken Laidlaw on riding the 1961 Tour de france and becoming the first Scottish rider to complete the race.
By Tim A. Rutherford
Coastal Senior

Tim A. Rutherford photo
Ken Laidlaw can frequently be seen riding biking through his Windsor Forest neighborhood.


The cyclist, who has lived in Savannah for nearly 30 years, learned lessons during the race that have served him ever since.

The aging black-and-white photograph captures a significant slice of time. Frozen forever by the camera, the instant was a high point and a defining life moment for Ken Laidlaw.

In it, the wiry young Scotsman is leading Stage 16 of the 1961 Tour de France, without question the world’s most important cycling event. Three kilometers from the mountainous stage’s finale, Laidlaw lost his power, finishing 19th in the stage, and when the 21-day race ended in Paris, Laidlaw claimed 65th place. Only 72 of the 132 riders who had begin the grueling endurance test finished.

While he did not return to his native Hawick Cycling Club (believed to be the oldest club in continuous existence in Scotland) with the winner’s yellow jersey, he did stake claim to being the first Scot to complete the race – and claim his rightful place in that nations sport’s history. To even ride the Tour was amazing, to finish it almost mythic.

The 1961 course was nearly 800 miles longer than the modern day Tour de France being held July 3-25, but the lessons remain the same.

Ken Laidlaw leading Stage 16 of the 1961 Tour de France.

“In my tour, we averaged 139 miles a day – flat out,” Laidlaw recalled. “If you won a stage, it was your ticket to fame.”

Laidlaw earned a $450 bonus from his stage performance that day, money that “kept me living pretty well in France for another three months.”

But the real payday wasn’t the bonus, or the 45 francs a day he earned as member of Britain’s Tour team. The pay-off was a life lesson.

“You don’t know how deep you can dig,” Laidlaw said, remembering the physical beating given by such a ride. “If you can do this, you can do anything.”

Laidlaw, who also raced two events in the 1960 Olympics on behalf of the British team, went on to race the pro circuit throughout Europe.

Little did he know that the elevation from amateur to professional would be the beginning of the end of his cycling career.

Stephen McGinty photo
From left: Stephen McGinty as a young boy, his father, the late Jimmy McGinty and Ken Laidlaw at a professional road race on Isle of Mann. The photo, according to Laidlaw, was taken in late June 1961.

“Amateur racing was fun. You go off with a team and are catered to every step of the way,” Laidlaw said. “But when you turn pro, you become a one-man business. We’re not businessmen though, we’re athletes.

In the midst of that disillusionment, Laidlaw found himself commiserating with some U.S. cyclists after a Canadian stage race in 1962.

“They asked what I did when I wasn’t racing and I told ’em I was a carpenter,” Laidlaw said. “I was making about a dollar an hour back in Scotland and these guys told me I could make five times that in New York City. It didn’t take an accountant to figure that one out.”

Married and with one child, Laidlaw landed in New York 41 years ago and within two weeks had a job. Five months later, his wife Theresa and baby, Jacqueline, joined him.

Ken and his wife, Terry, are both avid cyclists – and Terry is a master gardener who spends her off-bike time tending her garden.

Prosperity, and two more children, Michelle and Kenneth, followed. But the construction business dipped in 1976, ending good jobs for many union carpenters, including Laidlaw.

“I was stopping off in Savannah to visit a Scottish friend on my way to a new job in Houston,” Laidlaw said. “I visited the local union, they sent me on a job and I never made it to Houston.”

He’s been here ever since, working around the area in various construction jobs, riding his bike – and getting to put that lesson learned in 1961 to the test.

March 31, 1996, Laidlaw rode a 30-mile loop around his Windsor Forest neighborhood, came home, showered and took a nap, “Something I’d done a hundred times.”

He awoke feeling odd, wondering to himself what was wrong until the next day, April Fool’s Day, when a friend called on the telephone, noticed Laidlaw was slurring and suggested he’d had a stroke.

Theresa, known to her friends and former American Red Cross co-workers as Terry, rushed Laidlaw to the hospital where the diagnosis was confirmed. Surgery was on tap to remove a clot from the carotid artery in his neck.

The dye injected for a catheterization procedure caused an allergic reaction, but the worst was right around the corner. The femoral artery, where the incision had been made for the catheterization, ruptured.

“The last thing I remember was seeing the ceiling, then hearing someone say, ‘I’ve got him, he’s back,’ then it was lights out for 10 days,” he said. Laidlaw has an extensive history of stroke in his family, and thought cycling was offsetting his three-pack-a-day Camel habit. Instead, he’d been buying time.

“Smoking was a motivation,” he said from his now smoke-free home. “My incentive to finish a century ride (100-mile recreational rides) was that I could smoke at the finish.”

But, just like in the ’61 Tour, just like in the 1957 Tour of Scotland (when he won despite riding the last mile on a flat tire), Laidlaw dug deeper, fought back and two months later was back on the bike. In what became the longest ride of his life, he spent the next year recovering.

“No. 1 Pine,” is Ken Laidlaw’s mostly wooden bicycle, a send-up to his love of cycling and his career ads a carpenter. He frequently rides and has even pedalbed it in some stages of the Kike Ride Across Georgia.

“My legs felt like they weren’t attached to my body, but I kept pedaling,” he says. “That (his determination) and my physical condition is why I believe I recovered from my stroke.

“It was a turning point in my life. I stopped smoking, retired when I was 62 instead of waiting until I was 65 – I did it by working hard, paying off the mortgage early, getting rid of debt.”

Now, at an age where many consider golf to be strenuous activity, Laidlaw is in the saddle of his bike most days. He’s still lean and wiry, with a stout carpenter’s handshake. He has a penchant for late night fried egg sandwiches and revels in swapping stories or poking good-natured fun at others.

He’s 68 this year, visits his children and four grandchildren, rides recreationally with the Coastal Bicycling Touring Club and travels with Terry – and their bikes. Terry, who says she finally taught Laidlaw to ride slow, is a Master Gardener who nurtures her own garden when not biking or practicing yoga.

The couple has a full life.

“I have an appointment book now – and it seems like it always full,” Laidlaw says. “I never had one until now.”

The couple’s full lives and happiness come as a result of the obstacles they overcame – many using the lessons Laidlaw learned as a young cyclist. But the memory of that day in 1961 remains clear – and his interest high as this year’s Tour de France gets underway.

French and Italian riders dominated the 1961 Tour, which had its own superstar – not unlike this month’s race. Jacques Anquetil took home his second yellow jersey in ’61 and went on to become its first five-time winner. On July 3, American Lance Armstrong will attack the 20-stage race in his bid for title No. 6 – and the new record for most wins.

And despite the technological leaps made in bike manufacturing, aerodynamic design, nutrition and sports medicine, Laidlaw says the Tour is still about one thing:


Ken Laidlaw’s bookcases are filled with photos, memorabilia and cycling awards. The photograph in the front is the 1960 British Olympic cycling team on which Laidlaw rode. From left are the late Bill Bradley, of South Port, England; Bill Holmes, Hull, England; Jim Hinds, London; and Laidlaw.

“It’s a sport, but the bottom line is money. The bikes are lighter, but not that much so,” Laidlaw said. “Sure, the training has been refined but there’s no substitute for doing the miles.”

Laidlaw calls it “flat out riding.”

“It’s about a whole lot of pain, it’s not fun.”

And whether it’s the training, the diet or the equipment – or the shorter course – Anquetil won the 1961 race averaging 23.5 miles per hour. Armstrong’s pace in 2003 would have beaten Anquetil by more than two hours. So would his payday, which combined with endorsements, propels the Texan into the elite levels of sports earnings.

Laidlaw would bet a few francs that Armstrong repeats.

“I believe Armstrong will win it,” he says, “If he can stay healthy for three weeks, he’s got the edge.”

Laidlaw will be watching the race this year from his sofa, the best way to see the event, he says. And he’ll be reliving the course, which follows many routes he has ridden himself.

Oh, and he’ll be reliving the pain too, but this time with the bittersweet knowledge that the lessons these young lions take away will last them a lifetime.

Ken Laidlaw’s Cycling CareerLaidlaw claimed his first title, a time trial, when he was 14 years old. Three years later he was Hawick Cycling Club champion – besting adult club members for average time over the season.

Title after title began to fall to the speeding young rider from the border town of Hawick and newspapers trumpeted his accomplishments: “Hawick Cyclist A Worthy Champion,” “Ken Runs Away with ‘120’.” Then National Service called and Laidlaw showed up for training in the Royal Tank Corps with his bike in tow.

“…whenever someone would tell me, ‘You can’t beat him,’ or ‘You can’t do that…,’ it would make me that much more determined to prove them wrong,”

“And the Army let me ride,” Laidlaw said. “I really had an advantage over other riders because I was training all the time.” Riding for the Army, he claimed record after record and, while on leave or between Army races, he continued to speed past competitors – and honed his skills as a tank driver.

During these years, it was not unusual for Laidlaw to log 300-mile plus weekends. He would bike to a race one day, ride the race, then bike home or back to base. “We didn’t think of it as distance, it was time,” Laidlaw recalled. I could leave the base and be home in six hours.”

Laidlaw toppled record after record and kept winning, earning a spot on Britain’s 1960 Olympic Cycling team and, ultimately, a ride in the Tour de France.

He turned pro not long after, leaving his young bride with friends in England and hop-scotching across Europe, racing wherever his agent could book a race – time trails, stage races, criteriums. But suddenly, racing wasn’t necessarily about condition or skill, it, according to Laidlaw, became more about politics and egos and saving face for once-prominent riders who had aged beyond their prime. The luster was gone, and Laidlaw gave up pro racing barely 11 years after he had won his first race.

The faded clippings read like a sports encyclopedia with one exception: These pages chronicle the story of an apparent underdog who prevailed time and time again – often to the bewilderment of his competitors and the media.


“I was a minority, I was racing out of anger,” Laidlaw remembers.

The historic denigration of Scots by the English continued even into cycling. And when Laidlaw landed on the shores of continental Europe, he found cyclists there, predominately Frenchmen and Italians, had little respect for riders from across the channel.

“But whenever someone would tell me, ‘You can’t beat him,’ or ‘You can’t do that…,’ it would make me that much more determined to prove them wrong,” he said



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Watch this Programme on BBC I-Player


A unique, behind-the-scenes insight into the process of overseas news reporting, as seen through the eyes of ‘top dogs’.

Three iconic adventurers – newsman John Simpson, polar explorer Ranulph Fiennes and solo yachtsman Robin Knox-Johnston – go on a newsgathering trip to war-torn Afghanistan. Simpson has to ensure the other two men are adequately trained and prepared for their foray into the world of the foreign correspondent.

On the ground in Afghanistan, the three men aim to find out why, after many years of Western occupation, the security situation is still deteriorating. At great personal risk, they journey overland from Kabul to the treacherous border with Pakistan. Braving hostile crowds, heavily mined roads and the ever-present threat of suicide-bombers, they eventually file a live report from one of Afghanistan’s most notorious hotspots.

Lance ready for his Operation


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The Pashley Govnor