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.

12 thoughts on “How Britain Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Bike Racing

  1. Tactful of you, not to ask him what he thinks of Phil Liggett’s credibility, in the light of Lance Armstrong’s confession.

  2. “uptake of cycling at least in London, maybe a few other towns around the country…”
    Geez. I stopped listening at this point and will leave you with this comment: You really need to get out of London!

    • All the stats will tell you that in so far as there’s a revival of cycling in the UK, London (in particular inner London) is where it’s growing fastest. Any evidence to the contrary? I’d like to see it.

      • Your quote is, let me remind you since you haven’t read it:”uptake of cycling at least in London, maybe a few other towns around the country…”

        Yes, there has been quite an uptake of cycling around the UK…no maybe…no..few towns.

        Lazy research I’m afraid.

        • Data here:

          You’ll notice inner London boroughs rank fairly highly, along with towns and cities with big student populations, like Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol.

          The bigger point seems to be whether there’s been a significant increase in cycling nationally at all over the last few years. Cycling modal share seems stuck between 1 and 2 per cent nationally. Though there are higher rates in some places, including those I’ve mentioned.

          • Ned Boulting says, in the interview, something along the lines of “there’s an insatiable appetite for cycling books” which gives us a clue.

            Researching this topic I would immediately do the basics. Is cycling popular? Well there’s been an exponential increase in cycling magazines, both high-end ones land mass market ones. Are these London-centric magazines? No. Who then are the readers? Where do they live? Look at Cycling Active and you’ll see a wide variety of get fit types, those taking-up cycling again having not cycled since their youth etc. Cycling Plus – serious cyclists with (often) money to spend. Is it London-centric? No. Then I would have randomly called a few bike shops out of London. Asked them about business, best sellers, customer types and whether or not they’re now stocking and selling more bikes than before.

            Even with this basic research you would have found some facts that would given you something to go on. Government figures are notoriously unreliable, possibly massaged – real research is done on the ground.

            Your original comment was “[..there’s been an ] uptake of cycling at least in London, maybe a few other towns around the country…” You say you see few cyclists in your travels. Well, I find that astonishing because I see them everywhere. My local bike shop has now expanded to four stores.

            You then change the argument to say that the level of cycling is nowhere near London’s. Umm. Yes, London is Britain’s biggest city with a dense population. Is that a surprise? I really couldn’t care less whether Hackney has a high number of cycle commuters because your original piece to Ned Boulting infers that there hasn’t been much cycling uptake around the country which is where I came in to counter you and suggest research is in order.

            I think the idea of a bike show is a great one and one which could appeal to more people across the UK..but only if researched properly! Comments like that will alienate listeners.

          • Thanks for your opinion. There is no question that if there is a revival of cycling in Britain, London is at the vanguard. When was the last time you visited to see for yourself? Incidentally I live in South Wales and am struck by how little cycling there is here, even though there is a fairly big recreational club scene, you see very few cyclists on the roads. It’s still very much car-dominated.

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