As a bike racer Isla Rowntree took on almost every discipline in cycling, rode professionally for the Raleigh MTB team and won the British national championships in cyclocross on multiple occasions. But it is as a bike designer and entrepreneur that she’s made the biggest impact, transforming the market for children’s bikes. The high quality kids bikes she designs have given a generation of children the best possible start to a life of cycling. Jack visits Islabikes HQ just outside Ludlow, Shropshire to find out about how Isla got into cycling, how she got where she is now, and where she’s going in the future.
1. Isla on her experiences as a woman in the male-dominated bike industry:
2. Isla on the Islabikes Icons range of bikes for elderly people:
Tom Isitt (pictured above) has spent the past few years cycling around the battlefields of the first world war. He talks about his experiences on the Western Front and the mountainous border between Italy, Austria and Slovenia and tells the story of the extraordinary bike race that was held in spring 1919 across the devastated lands of Northern France and Belgium. The Rough Stuff Fellowship is the oldest off road cycling club in the world and club archivist Mark Hudson talks about unearthing a photographic treasure trove of inspirational adventure cycling from the 1950s to the present day.
Jack takes on his longest ever ride, as part of a weekend of audax events in memory and celebration of the late, great Mike Hall. Mike was the leading light in the current revival of self-supported long distance bike racing, twice winner of the Tour Divide, winner of the TransAm Bike Race and founder and organiser of the pan-European Transcontinental Race. In March 2017 Mike was killed by a driver while competing in a bike race across Australia. For more information on This Is Not A Tour go to tinat.cymru
This year’s Tour de France starts on the island of Noirmoutier, on the Atlantic coast of western France. Jack rides the route of Stage one, in a touring style, taking in the rich landscape of sand dunes, beaches, tidal lagoons and salt marsh and sampling the gastronomic delights of the region.
Jack goes to Preston, Lancashire to ride with artist Gavin Renshaw. They ride out on some of the City of Preston’s bicycle infrastructure before heading for the wild uplands of the Forest of Bowland. Along the way they talk about cycling in Preston and Gavin’s work with In Certain Places, a long-term project that is bringing artists and creative thinkers into the process of city planning and urban development.
Image above is View of Preston from Brindle by Gavin Renshaw, 2016.
The return of The Bike Show sees Jack chewing the fat with Max Leonard, author of Higher Calling: Road Cycling’s Obsession with the Mountains. They talk a lot about climbing, bikepacking, the evolution of cycling towards exploring new places, about cycling in France, and about Max’s Kickstarter project to republish a long-lost cycling guide to the off-road paths and gravel tracks of the Alps.