On the eve of the summer edition of the People’s Grand Tour, Jack goes for a spin around the back lanes of rural Hertfordshire with cycling journalist Lionel Birnie, a regular guest on The Bike Show, who writes about professional bike racing for the Sunday Times and Cycle Sport magazine. The People’s Grand Tour is open to anyone willing to commit to riding at least ten days over a 23 day period, starting this Saturday 11 August. It’s free to enter and a great way of increasing the amount of riding you’re doing.
In a live broadcast from Belgium House, a temporary Olympic Village and ‘cycling paradise’ in London’s Middle Temple, Jack finds out about Flandrien cycling culture from Rik Vanwalleghem, director of the Tour of Flanders centre in Belgium. At the launch of the Rapha Cycle Club in Soho, Rapha founder Simon Mottram reflects on the eight years since the company was launched in 2004. London cyclist Nick Hussey of the recently launched Vulpine clothing brand talks about designing and making top quality, stylish apparel for the discerning cyclist. And Resonance FM engineer Chris Dixon rides up a virtual Koppenberg.
Today is the last rest day in the Tour before the race heads into the Pyrenees for tomorrow’s frighteningly gruelling mountain stage around the Circle of Death. The rest gave Jack Thurston time to catch up with Lionel Birnie, The Bike Show’s favourite cycling journalist. Lionel writes for Cycle Sport Magazine and the Sunday Times. You can follow him on twitter at lioneljbirnie and read his articles in Cycle Sport Magazine and in the Sunday Times.
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.
It’s July, that means it’s the Tour de France. Jack Thurston talks with Ned Boulting, a sports reporter who has been covering the Tour for ITV since 2003. He talks about the rise in popularity of cycle sport and everyday cycling over the past decade and the high jinks he’s got up to while covering the last nine Tours de France Ned’s book, How I Won the Yellow Jumper, is out now, published by Yellow Jersey Press.
1987 was an annus mirabilis for Stephen Roche, one of a wave of world class Irish athletes that rose to fame that decade. He won the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and the World Championship road race. The only other rider to have accomplished this feat, know as the ‘triple crown’, is Eddy Merckx. Roche has a new book out called ‘Born To Ride’ and talks about his life in cycling, winning the triple crown, as well as his thoughts on today’s peloton, the scourge of doping and his own implication in an EPO doping conspiracy.
His new autobiography, Born to Ride, is out now, published by Yellow Jersey Press.
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.