This year’s Tour de France is the 99th edition of a bicycle race that is rich in meaning and symbolism for the French nation. Christopher Thompson is professor of history at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and author of a widely acclaimed cultural history of the Tour de France. He discusses how the race came about in an era of rising nationalism and how the route itself was loaded with political meaning. Professor Thompson argues the race projected carefully constructed role models and entrenched traditional gender archetypes. More recently, controversies over doping in cycle sport can be linked to concerns about recreational drug use in wider society.
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This is an extract from an account of a summer touring trip to the Pyrenees, published in the London Bicycle Club Gazette (1879). The group of London cycle tourists rode their machines, or more likely pushed them, up all the major cols including the Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin & Peyresourde. They were almost certainly riding high […]
Coventry has a very good claim to be the birthplace of the modern bicycle, the “Rover Safety” invented in the 1880s by John Kemp Starley, one of the city’s many bicycle makers. Someone very happy to make that claim is Steve Bagley, Head of Collections at the Coventry Transport Museum. We go for a ride around the city and a trip back in time.
At the start of the second week of this year’s Giro d’Italia, we take the long view of cycle sport in Italy with John Foot, professor of modern Italian history at University College London. His book Pedalare! Pedalare! tells the fascinating story of how Italy fell in love with the bicycle and how cycle sport took a central role in national life.
In the concluding half of an extended interview with engineer and bicycle inventor Mike Burrows, we talk about Mike’s biggest passion: laid back bicycles. He explains how these human powered vehicles came about and where he hopes they’re going. Plus Simon Nurse discusses the possibility of a cycling equivalent of the London Marathon.
The People’s Republic of China is officially proclaimed, following the victory of the Communist Party forces in the civil war. Winston Churchill makes a landmark speech in support of the idea of a European Union. George Orwell’s ‘1984’ is published. Albert II, a rhesus monkey, becomes the first primate to enter space, on a US […]
Mike Burrows is probably best known for his design of the Lotus 108 pursuit bike that Chris Boardman rode in the Barcelona Olympics, winning the first gold medal for a British cyclist in over 70 years. But Mike has made a huge contribution to pedal powered machines more widely. His compact road frame first developed for Giant is now a design standard and his designs have moved the world of laid back or recumbent bicycles on from the early, pioneering days in 1970s California. Burrows remains inventive, opinionated and passionate about bicycles.
This is the first of a two part extended interview.