Cyclists have a strange fascination with riding up hills and it’s definitely a pleasure/pain thing. Jack goes in search of the hill climb junkies, first at the Catford Hill Climb on Kent’s North Downs, the oldest continuously held bicycle race in the world, and then to Abergavenny where a new course has revived the local cycling club’s flagging hill climb event.
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.
It’s just a few days until the start of the hundredth edition of the world’s greatest bike race, the Tour de France. Book publishers have taken this historic milestone as their cue to commission and produce an enormous quantity of books about the race, its history and legend.
To help sort the wheat from the chaff is Feargal McKay, a man who’s read more books about professional bike racing than there are hairpin bends in the Pyrenees. As the resident book reviewer at the Podium Cafe website, Feargal Mckay has built a reputation for outstanding book reviews that are both thorough and thought provoking.
The spoked wheel is the unsung hero of the bicycle. Jack Thurston embarks on a journey of discovery, to understand how a bicycle wheel works with the help of engineer and materials scientist Professor Mark Miodownik, and then tries to learn how to build one, taking a class at London’s Cycle Systems Academy.
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 89, 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.
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.
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 bike blogger.