Jack Thurston heads to mid-Wales to meet Emily Chappell, former London bike messenger turned author turned ultra endurance racer. Plus the social enterprise that’s finding a new use for the Royal Mail’s unwanted fleet of postal bikes, as Elephant Bikes.
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.
Bespoked, the UK’s Handmade Bicycle Show is Britain’s biggest annual showcase for custom bike builders. It’s full to the rafters of beautiful bikes but Jack Thurston went in search of the most useful bikes at the show, from an off-road porteur to a separable road bike to a childback tandem in titanium.
Historians often regard the defining events of the 1930s as the Great Depression and the march towards the second world war. Yet the decade also saw something of a consumer boom, at least among well-to-do inhabiting the suburbs of London and the south east. Historian Dr John Law of the University of Westminster joins Jack Thurston to share his research into the a new suburban lifestyles of the interwar years, including the dramatic increase in private, personal mobility though the use of cars, motorcycles and bicycles. They discuss how these new transport technologies shaped London and Londoners and how drivers and cyclists fought for the right to the road.
It’s the toughest and longest standing record in cycling. Only a handful of people have attempted to break the record Tommy Godwin set in 1939 for the greatest distance ridden on a bike in one year. But this year two extraordinary cyclists are having a crack at it. In an in-depth interview with British long distance legend Steve Abraham, who is already almost six weeks into his record attempt, Jack Thurston finds out what kind of person takes on the challenge of riding an average of 205 miles for 365 days in a row. Author Dave Barter is on hand to put the year record in historical and sporting context.
Jack Thurston’s guest this week is self-confessed angry young man, Julian Sayarer, who, five years ago, set a new record for cycling around the world. Having taken a strong dislike to Mark Beaumont, the previous record-holder, whose record attempt was backed by big business and, according to Sayarer, represented everything that was wrong with the world. He wanted to beat Beaumont and take the record back ‘for the people’.
They meet on on the banks of the River Wye a few miles downstream from the city of Hereford. Julian Sayarer’s book Life Cycles is published by John Blake and available in paperback and on the Kindle.
Jack rides with singer-songwriter and cycle-tourist Jet McDonald, setting out from Bristol on a summer evening, riding along the banks of the River Avon, through the industrial landscape of Avonmouth to the banks of the River Severn and beyond.