High Tech and High Stakes in the Bicycle Boom

Hub gear manufacturer Sturmey Archer sits in the pantheon of iconic bicycle brands, most famous for its hugely popular three speed hub gears. Tony Hadland tells the intriguing story of the invention of the hub gear, a story of gifted young engineers, canny entrepreneurs in the high tech bicycle boom of the 1890s. Tony Hadland is the author of “Raleigh: Past and Presence of an Iconic Bicycle Brand” and “The Sturmey Archer Story”.

Boardman versus Obree

The sporting rivalry between Chris Boardman and Graeme Obree is among the greatest in history, on a par with Ovett and Coe, Borg and McEnroe or Ali and Frazier. Twenty years on from their record-breaking exploits, Jack Thurston and Edward Pickering consider how their era marked a turning point in British cycle sport and how Chris Boardman’s scientific approach to training set the template for the top riders that followed him, from Chris Hoy to Bradley Wiggins, elevating Britain to the top of the Olympic medal table in cycling and Team Sky as the dominant force in road racing. Edward Pickering is the author of The Race Against Time: Obree, Boardman and the Quest to be the Fastest Man on Two Wheels.

How Britain Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Bike Racing

In the first show of the new season, Jack takes a leisurely ride in the Welsh Borders with Ned Boulting, one of the faces of ITV’s coverage of the Tour de France. They discuss Ned’s new book On the Road Bike: the Search for a Nation’s Cycling Soul, an engaging and ideosyncratic history of British bike racing.

Eileen Sheridan: The Mighty Atom

Land’s End to John O’Groats is a classic cycle touring route. But it was also the blue riband distance among the long distance record-breaking heyday of the 1930s to the 1960s. In 1954 Eileen Sheridan, a diminutive cyclist from Coventry sponsored by the huge Hercules Bicycle Company, set a new record that stood for decades. Now over 90, Eileen recounts a truly epic journey and tells the story of how she became one of the best-known, and best-paid, cyclists in Britain.

What It Really Means to Go Dutch

To many UK cycling campaigners, David Hembrow is a Moses-type figure, handing down tablets of smooth, car-free red asphalt from the streets of Assen in the Netherlands where he lives and writes the blog A View from the Cycle Path. He’s also a controversial figure, arguing that separation of cars and bikes is essential for mass cycling and that many UK campaigners are either on the wrong track or suffering from hopelessly low expectations. In an extended interview David explains why he moved from England to the Netherlands in search of cycling nirvana and what the Dutch have got to teach the rest of the world when it comes to making cycling friendly towns and cities.

Image credit: David Hembrow

Live from the V&A: Bike V Design

Contemporary bike culture is blossoming into a mesmerising kaleidoscope of bicycle-related art, craft and graphic design. Small artisans are leading the way while big brands try to cash in on the action. Alice Marsh of Bike V Design leads a discussion recorded in front of a live audience at the Victoria and Albert Museum, bringing together a panel that includes Tom Donhou, a former product designer turned bicycle frame-builder, the founders of The Ride Journal and Boneshaker magazine and James Greig, a graphic designer and author of the Cycle Love blog.

Photo credit: V&A Friday Late

Podcast special: Did Cycling Kill Kraftwerk?

On the eve of Kraftwerk’s eight night residency at the Tate Modern, Jack is joined by David Buckley, music writer and author of a new biography of the German electronic pop pioneers. Among the revelations in his book is evidence that a serious obsession with cycling contributed to the slowing of the band’s musical output in the 1980s and, ultimately, the break-up of the group’s classic line-up. Jack and David talk about Kraftwerk’s journey from experimental music-making to the pinnacle of influence over pop, rock, hip-hop and dance music as well as their love affair with riding their bikes.