Rough Stuff in the North York Moors

A ride report from the time before coronavirus. Jack heads into the wild uplands of the North York Moors on an audax event organised by Dean Clementson and hosted by Mike Metcalfe. “Don’t Keep to the Road” promises gravel tracks, broken roads and brutal climbs. Plus podcast listeners share their Covid-19 lockdown tales from the turbo. To order a signed copy of Lost Lanes North go to the web shop at https://lostlanes.co.uk/shop and for a free embroidered Lost Lanes cloth patch designed by Adam Hayes enter the coupon code ‘thebikeshow’ at checkout. Limited to the first fifty purchasers.

There is more information on the event, including a PDF route sheet and GPX file, on the Audax UK website.

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.

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.

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.

Adventures in Bikepacking

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.

Really Useful Bikes at the Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show

Childback tandem by Wheeldan

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.

Bikes discussed as follows:

George Longstaff: RuffStuff adventure touring bike / tandem trike with integrated wheelchair carrier
Caren Hartley: Demi-porkeur off road cargo bike
Richard Hallett: 650b Adventure
Wheeldan: Childback titanium tandem
Sven Cycles: Roadster
Sword Cycles: Cargo-trike
Teague Bicycles: Separable road bike
Sturdy Cycles: no maintenance audax bike and steel TT bike

View the bikesin the gallery below:

Bespoked show

Cycling and Modernity in 1930s London

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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.

John Law is the author of a The Experience of Suburban Modernity: How Private Transport Changed Interwar London. Manchester University Press, 2014.