A life in cycling with Isla Rowntree


As a bike racer Isla Rowntree took on almost every discipline in cycling, rode professionally for the Raleigh MTB team and won the British national championships in cyclocross on multiple occasions. But it is as a bike designer and entrepreneur that she’s made the biggest impact, transforming the market for children’s bikes. The high quality kids bikes she designs have given a generation of children the best possible start to a life of cycling. Jack visits Islabikes HQ just outside Ludlow, Shropshire to find out about how Isla got into cycling, how she got where she is now, and where she’s going in the future.

Bonus material:

1. Isla on her experiences as a woman in the male-dominated bike industry:

2. Isla on the Islabikes Icons range of bikes for elderly people:

So you want to go cycling in… WW1 battlefields?

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.

Check out the Rough Stuff Fellowship Archive’s Instagram feed and visit the Kickstarter page.

Read more about Tom Isitt’s book Riding in the Zone Rouge.

And for more details on the Wayfarer Centenary Weekend (29-31 March), see the flyer and the dinner menu.

This Is Not A Tour


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

Cycletouring the Tour de France

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.

Thanks to Vendée Tourism for logistical support for this journey.

Read Jack’s write up of the journey for the Guardian newspaper.

Preston by Bike with Gavin Renshaw

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.

Gavin Renshaw

The Expanded City – Gavin Renshaw

To watch the Routes In Routes Out discussion event on YouTube, go here:

Routes In, Routes Out: Gavin Renshaw in conversation with Jack Thurston

Gavin Renshaw is on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/mrteaone/

What Goes Around

chappell Jack Thurston heads to mid-Wales to meet Emily Chappell (pictured, above), former London bike messenger turned author turned ultra endurance racer. Her book, What Goes Around: A London Cycle Courier’s Story is published by Faber & Faber.

Plus the social enterprise that’s finding a new use for the Royal Mail’s unwanted fleet of postal bikes, as Elephant Bikes.

From Peace Race to Tour de France

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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.