Charging up my iPod for a summer cycle tour

Last summer I spent three weeks cycle touring in France, following my own version of the Raid Pyreneean and continuing along the Mediterranean coast and up to the centre of France. This year I’m heading to North America for a ride from Montreal to New York, stopping for the wedding of two dear friends in Ludlow, Vermont.

Solo cycle touring is fun but for me, there’s a time, usually at the end of the day’s riding when you’ve pitched camp and are just enjoying the last rays of sunshine, taking care of any little chores and thinking about getting some supper organised, where it can sometimes feel a bit odd being alone. Last year during those hours of the day I averted the lonesome feeling by listening to spoken word radio on the iPod. It was a mixed bag but primarily BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time, This American Life and RadioLab (both from US public radio networks).

This summer I want to freshen up the mix and am going to add in some Philosophy Bites and some Speechification. What else should I be downloading in the two days before I fly? Please add your top picks in the comments…

And please, while flattery will get you anywhere, don’t suggest The Bike Show. That way lies insanity.

Blazing Saddles: Inside the Brooks factory

For long-distance cycling they’re a must and they’ll improve the look of any bicycle. Brooks leather saddles date back to the 1870s and are still made in Birmingham where they were first invented. Steve Green of Brooks talks about the history and the craft of the most venerable and most comfortable bicycle saddle there is. We also listen to some of the fantastic machines (pictured, left) that are still going strong in the Brooks factory.

London to Bristol (part two)

ridgewayIn an extended podcast edition of this week’s show, the journey from London to Bristol continues along the Ridgeway (pictured, left) to Avebury, one of the largest prehistoric stone circles in Europe. After a night by Lacock Abbey the route follows the Avon to Bath and the old railway track to Bristol. Featuring David Evans of the Highway Cycling Group, wild swimming author Daniel Start, Bristolian cyclists Mike McBeth and Matthew Symonds and Peter Lipman, Policy Director at Sustrans.

Photo credit: David Evans

Play on links below. Other file formats here.

London to Bristol (part one)

bicycle_windowPart one of a ride from London to Bristol, in which presenter Jack Thurston is guided by listeners to the show. First stop is St Giles’ Church in Stoke Poges, home to the ‘bicycle window’ (pictured behind Jack and Denis Hartley, the Verger of the Church). One element of the window dates from 1642 and said to be the earliest ever depiction of a velocipede. The route passes through Willesden, Stoke Poges, Cookham, Henley-on-Thames before ascending the Berkshire Downs. Tune in next week for part two.

Photo credit: Michael Dunne


Play on links below. Other file formats (e.g. Ogg Vorbis).

16 February 2009: Cycling and the recession

CC Flickr - seaworthy With the UK mired deep in recession, unemployment on the rise, the value of the pound going down and consumer confidence at an all time low, we ask what effect this is having on the cycling business. We hear from the owners of two of London’s new breed of bicycle boutiques (Tour de Ville and Bobbin Bicycles), from bike messenger Nhatt Attack, who has swapped her bike for a Christiania tricycle and is delivering flowers, from Carlton Reid, cycling journalist and Executive Editor of bike industry magazine and from BikeSnobNYC who adds his two pennies from New York.

Play on links below, other file formats (eg. Ogg Vorbis) over here.

London cycle hire scheme – the lowdown

An accident of geography means that, official speaking, I’m a Lambeth Cyclist but I’m a Southwark Cyclist at heart, not least because of the dynamic Barry Mason, the quirky Rob Ainsley, the luminous Rebecca Lack and the feisty Ann Warren. I can even see the Southwark-Lambeth ‘county line’ from my doorstep. So I was delighted to be invited to attend their monthly meeting last night at which Transport for London’s project manager for London’s ‘Velib style’ cycle hire scheme gave a talk and answered questions. Continue reading