Podcast special: Lionel Birnie’s People’s Grand Tour

On the eve of the summer edition of the People’s Grand Tour, Jack goes for a spin around the back lanes of rural Hertfordshire with cycling journalist Lionel Birnie, a regular guest on The Bike Show, who writes about professional bike racing for the Sunday Times and Cycle Sport magazine. The People’s Grand Tour is open to anyone willing to commit to riding at least ten days over a 23 day period, starting this Saturday 11 August. It’s free to enter and a great way of increasing the amount of riding you’re doing. Our ride took in Ivinghoe Beacon, two punctures and ended with a coffee at The Hub, a fantastic new cycling cafe in Redbourne.

Cycle-touring at the Olympics

There’s a lot of cycling at the Olympics. On the road, on the track, BMX and mountainbiking too. But there is one aspect of cycling that is quite neglected by the UCI and the IOC: cycle-touring.

I propose for the 2016 Rio Olympics a new cycle-touring discipline. It will take the form of an Omnium, with the following eight events:

– Riding a bicycle with fully-laden rear panniers up an exceptionally steep hill, without getting out of the saddle and without lifting the front wheel off the ground. Any gearing permitted.

– Fording a stream, climbing a stile and safely crossing a field occupied by a bull.

– Removing an Ordnance Survey map from a handlebar bag-mounted map case, unfolding it, refolding it and returning to the case, while riding downhill at speed with a cross-wind.

– Effecting a surprise roadside bicycle repair task, with insufficient tools.

РConsuming a four course lunch including an Ile Flottante and half a bottle of ros̩ and then cycling a further 100 kilometres before nightfall.

– Putting up a tent in the dark without a torch.

– Cooking a tasty three course camp supper using the following ingredients: ramen noodles, a tin of sardines, a sachet of Cup-a-Soup, an egg, a malt loaf, Kendal mint cake and anything foraged from the roadside.

– The final, tie-breaker event is a roadside encounter with another competitor in which each must deploy false modesty to establish superiority in terms of distance travelled, physical prowess and choice of equipment.

To ensure faithfulness to the Corinthian ideals of the Olympics and old-fashioned fair play, the IOC will enforce a strict prohibition on the use of lycra and any other performance-enhancing clothing.

Will you add your voice to the campaign to have cycle-touring at the Olympics? What other events would you add to the cycle-touring Omnium?