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.
In a recording of a live event held as part of the CycleScreen bicycle film festival at the Watershed Cinema in Bristol, Jack Thurston talks with author Herbie Sykes about his highly acclaimed book The Race Against the Stasi. It’s a gripping story, a true story, that took place at the height of the Cold War, a tale of young love and bike racing, of political ideology and state surveillance set in a Europe rebuilding after the catastrophe of the second world war.
Is bikepacking the most exciting new thing in cycling since the invention of the mountain bike or a much needed rebranding of the venerable pastime of cycle touring? Or is just another cynical ruse to get us to buy more stuff, an attempt to commercialise that wonderful thing called adventure. Jack heads to mid-Wales for the Bear Bones Winter Event to find out, and meets up with Beth Barrington of WildCat Gear to hear about the homespun beginnings of a small company that makes some of the best bikepacking gear available.