Author: Carlton

December 4, 2019 / / Blog

Wednesday 4th December 2019

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Josh Reid (YouTube vids and Instagram pix “joshreids”)

MAIN PIC BY: Juan Bettoli

In this episode of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast supported by Jenson USA I interviewed my intrepid cycle-touring son who is now back in the UK after his four-month journey from China.

Josh picked up a carbon gravel bike at the Giant factory in Shanghai, China, so I thought it would make a good story arc for Josh to almost finish his trip by visiting the Giant factory in the Netherlands. I rode across to Lelystad to meet him, and, after a factory tour, we cycled the 70 or so kilometres to Amsterdam where, the next day, I started the interview while we were riding on the famous cycleway that cuts through the National museum of the Netherlands. The rest of the interview was conducted in our living room at home.

TRANSCRIPT

Chinese cycle tourist 0:02
That’s called the Wonderful World? It was written in World War Two.

Chinese cycle tourist 0:07
Very beautiful.

Chinese cycle tourist 0:30
Okay, Do you recognise the song? Yeah.

Carlton Reid 0:34
That rather unorthodox opener was by a Chinese cycle tourist who spotted my son Josh in the Shinyiang province of China and decided to serenade him by the roadside with his little guitar to entertain his three fellow cycle tourists, all of whom were recording the episode on their phones. I’m Carlton Reid and in this episode of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast supported by Jenson USA I interview my intrepid cycle-touring son who is now back in the UK after his four-month journey from China. Josh picked up a carbon gravel bike at the Giant factory in Shanghai, China, so I thought it would make a good story arc for josh to almost finish his trip by visiting the Giant factory in the Netherlands. I rode across to Lelystad to meet him, and, after a factory tour, we cycled the 70 or so kilometres to Amsterdam where, the next day, I started the interview while we were riding on the famous cycleway that cuts through the National museum of the Netherlands..

Josh in the Giant factory in Shanghai, China

Carlton Reid 1:47
So we went to the Giant factory yesterday, Josh, and you got bits and bobs on your bike. So what did you get sorted?

Josh Reid 1:53
I’ve got two new tyres. Quick look through my gears

Carlton Reid 1:57
Okay, so you left Shanghai — we are going to hear some music as we’re coming through the coming through the cycle path of the Rijksmuseum here. And Josh, you got some new tyres Why do you need new tyres?

Josh Reid 2:10
Because the delamination of the tube and the tyre on my tubeless tyres was coming undone of it and it has getting a bit of

Josh Reid 2:20
bloating. Okay,

Carlton Reid 2:22
We’ll go round Josh. So the tyres in fact, we’re just carry on going round, Josh. We’ll just go through that.

Carlton Reid 2:32
So the tyres delaminated for the tubeless tyres, you had no punctures in effect.

Josh Reid 2:37
Now I had my rear tyre was going down a little bit but it’s put more sealantand they seal.

Carlton Reid 2:42
So from now on, would you use tubeless tyres?

Josh Reid 2:44
Oh yeah, definitely, I’m a total convert.

Carlton Reid 2:47
So what you got on here? You got two front panniers.

Josh Reid 2:50
Yeah. Arkel. Yeah, brilliant brand.

Carlton Reid 2:55
And then you bodged on your front bag. You’ve got a you basically you’re carrying Northface

Chinese cycle tourist 3:01
duffel bag,

Carlton Reid 3:02
and you bought that to being a bikepacking bag.

Josh Reid 3:05
Yeah. So I just cut it up and zip tied o. It rubs on the tyre sometimes, but just tighten zip ties. It

Unknown Speaker 3:11
works. All right.

Carlton Reid 3:12
So what you got on the front there and what’s actually in there,

Josh Reid 3:15
Just clothes and my bivvysac.

Josh Reid 3:19
on the front, and then you also GoPro on the front.

Josh Reid 3:23
Yeah. And I’ve got a Restrap frame bag with

Josh Reid 3:29
And a Giant toptube bag.

Carlton Reid 3:32
And do they give you that at the factory?

Josh Reid 3:33
No, Giant they gave me that in Urumgi in Xinjiang. I was at a bike shop but they just gave me that and a load of oil and sealant.

Carlton Reid 3:42
Did you visit lots of Giant shops?

Josh Reid 3:44
Yeah. So all the way through China. I visited

Josh Reid 3:46
lots of Giant shops. In every big city there’s a Giant shop in China.

Carlton Reid 3:51
Let’s squeeze through here, Josh, get away from the traffic

Carlton Reid 3:54
Everybody else is squeezing through I think we ought to to.

Unknown Speaker 3:58
Of course the cars just get stuck when we go we get very nicely

Unknown Speaker 4:09
stuck by a traffic jam

Unknown Speaker 4:13
go right, follow the cyclists, go on

Unknown Speaker 4:16
We’re riding aimlessly around Amsterdam it’s nice to go through with all the cyclists.

Carlton Reid 4:22
And then on the back Josh, well, apart from the bags you’ve got a memento you’ve got, what’s that?

Josh Reid 4:29
I’ve got a Vietnamese hat which I got on the border of China and that’s lasted quite well cuz you’ve been in the back of your bike all that time starting to fall apart a little bit but gives more character.

Carlton Reid 4:43
You’d be wearing it as well or was it just decorative?

Josh Reid 4:45
No, I’ve been wearing it in the desert

Josh Reid 4:48
when it was very hot, but then it’s got cold so I’m not wearing it,

Carlton Reid 4:52
Why’d you want to do what you did? Why did you even think, where did it come from? Where did the idea come from? And why did you want to do it?

Josh Reid 5:03
Well, I’ve heard stories of your cycle tours. I want to do big one on my own. And what a better way to do it then cycling home you always getting closer rather than going away you if you cycling away from home, you always like thinking I’ll just go back now. Whereas if I’m always going home, so I’m always getting closer.

Carlton Reid 5:24
Yeah, so most people kind of the route you did we’ll go through that in a minute but you did you were kind of going the opposite way that most people would would would do it so people would normally cycle to Shanghai to China. Yeah. And you from Shanghai from China. So you’re going the opposite way to most cycle tourists. Did you see many in China?

Josh Reid 5:42
I saw two go in the opposite direction. Well, Western cycle tourists anyway. They were both going towards Beijing. Yes, I didn’t see many Westerners in China part from a few tourist spots. Terracotta warriors. There was a few in Shanghai not wasn’t many, many tourists at all. I saw more in Tajikistan along the Pamir highway. There was a lot of cycle tourists because

Carlton Reid 6:13
Pamir Highway is now like a magnet, fly in.

Josh Reid 6:16
fly into Djumbe which is the capital of Xinjianng. Then they cycle Pamir highway. There’s there’s three routes you can take, you can take one, the Wakan corridor, which I didn’t do was it was really sandy. And a lot of people push their bikes along that. But it’s it’s beautiful. Like the mountains are incredible.

Carlton Reid 6:35
You do that with a fat bike?

Josh Reid 6:37
Yeah, that’d be cool. It was very there’s a lot of corrugatations on the road because of all the trucks on there. And you’ve got the just the normal Pamir Highway which is the route I took. And then you also have the Botang Valley which the person who actually told me first about the highway in China. They did the Bontang Valley, which cuts off a bit, but like goes into the middle of nowhere. And is you need to take a lot of food with you. And I didn’t take any cooking equipment. So I decided to just stay on the main-ish road, which is still full of potholes.

Carlton Reid 7:15
And the Pamir ighway is is an attraction because it’s the second highest kind of road you can get to and it’s just beautiful mountains around why why people going out to do the highway.

Josh Reid 7:27
It’s just it’s beautiful scenery. It’s like next to Afghanistan for 300 kilometres.

Carlton Reid 7:33
The border Yeah, you can see over the river.

Josh Reid 7:36
And it’s like the roof of the world. People call it is beautiful. It’s very tough. You go up to I think the highest point I was on that trip was 4600 metres.

Carlton Reid 7:46
You mentioned Afghanistan. So before you did this trip, and you were sitting there on your phone or an iPad researching the geopolitics of the region. You’d ask me, can I go here? Can I go there? Answer was not really because it was war there, and there’s fighting here. So has this trip, giving you a better appreciation of geopolitics, then the fact that you can’t really go there? And here’s the reason why you can get go there?.

Josh Reid 8:13
Yeah, definitely. I also realise that there’s this friendliness everywhere. And in the news, you hear a few bad eggs, but generally, people are very kind. Yeah, I went to a lot of countries that probably wouldn’t have I didn’t even know Tajikistan existed until until I decided to cycle there. Originally, I was going to cycle through China into Kazakhstan. You stay in Kazakhstan, all the way across, but then this cycle tourist in China, and told me to go to Panir Highway, so I did.

Carlton Reid 8:45
So that was a detour? Yes. It wasn’t like being your route.

Josh Reid 8:48
Yeah, I took quite a few detours. Yeah, it wasn’t a fast and out route.

Carlton Reid 8:53
So let’s just stress that this wasn’t a record breaking attempt. This wasn’t raising money for charity, you weren’t doing this for a bet

Josh Reid 9:04
This was just fun. It was just enjoyment type two fun.

Carlton Reid 9:08
Yeah. So you could in other words detour so if you want to record breaking attempt you’re not detour you’re going to be no down. But did you do head down days as well?

Josh Reid 9:19
It’s not fun if you don’t do head down days. Yeah definitely push myself but I didn’t have lights that lasted long enough. So I do 260 kilometres and want to keep on going. But the lights are dying.

Carlton Reid 9:33
That’s a good point about equipment for a future trip. What would you take different

Unknown Speaker 9:38
to what you took on this trip?

Josh Reid 9:39
I definitely take better lights that lasted longer. Dynamo I’d get a dynamo. That’s that’s pretty much it though. I’d go a lot lighter.

Carlton Reid 9:47
Josh but you were light and you have no cooking equipment. You didn’t have a tent.

Josh Reid 9:52
I had a lot of souvenirs.

Carlton Reid 9:55
You had more souvenirs in your bag than anything else, you’re right. So the things that you You would maybe take different Europe because your electronics you had you had a fair bit of electronic you had a phone. You had a GPS tracker, you had a drone and GoPro

Josh Reid 10:08
I a GoPro two pros.

Carlton Reid 10:11
So that’s a lot of electronic equipment. So you were a bit stuffed there if you couldn’t get electricity. So how are you coping with no electricity,

Josh Reid 10:19
I had two battery packs. And then I’d stop in a hotel or hostel every week or two. And people offer you a combination or times you just charge up when you could.

Carlton Reid 10:31
But what about solar power? Do you have a

Josh Reid 10:35
Yeah, you can power a lot of people did like the cycle tourists on the Pamir highway had solar devices. But if you got Dynamo you don’t need that

Josh Reid 10:44
just allows you to keep on going a lot longer if you haven’t got a dynamo.

Carlton Reid 10:47
So that’s something you consider the future. Future trips will be just different ways that are powering you. Yeah. And how you gonna have you going to go lighter. I’m trying to understand

Josh Reid 10:57
I wouldn’t have the two front panniers on the front. I’d have just a frame bag, one on the handlebars, the rear, rear saddle bag,

Carlton Reid 11:08
but the I mean half of that front bag was probably the drone, wasn’t it?

Josh Reid 11:11
Yeah. and an air mattress.

Carlton Reid 11:16
Yes, it’s a very comfortable air mattress. Yeah, yeah.

Chinese cycle tourist 11:19
So that is that is

Carlton Reid 11:20
that’s your one big luxury isn’t it?

Josh Reid 11:22
It’s very, very comfortable. But when especially when you’re tired, sometimes too tifed to pump it up. It takes like three or four minutes to flow into it. And especially when you’re at altitude, this is no way you want to do that.

Carlton Reid 11:37
And just because you’re so knackered, you kind of you you’re falling off your bike and you just falling into bed

Josh Reid 11:42
you don’t want to be pretty much I was pretty lucky where my lights died most of the time that there was times where my lights would die and I’d be at look across the road and they’d be a watermelon stand. And I’d go up to it and they’d give me a watermelon for free. And then they have a like a bed in there and they just say I could sleep for the night.

Carlton Reid 11:58
Let’s talk about. well, let’s talk about the route. So we’re not looking at a map here. We’re not looking at your GPS tracker. Let’s just go from memory. So you’re in Shanghai.

Carlton Reid 12:09
Yeah. Do you know remember provinces

Josh Reid 12:11
Well, I beelined for Xijianng in like pretty much centre of China. It’s just on the way, way up to towards Xijiang It’s where the Terracotta warriors are. It was the old capital city of China.

Josh Reid 12:29
It’s where the

Unknown Speaker 12:32
the Silk Road starts.

Josh Reid 12:37
So I wiggled my way out there

Unknown Speaker 12:39
If I remember correctly the descend down into Xijiang was incredible to see like mountain mountains and through gorgeous, yes. Beautiful. That descent

Carlton Reid 12:52
and you only had a set time. I mean, you did get an extension but you only had like that was it 30 days visa to originally get out of China and 30 days, which is

Josh Reid 13:00
pretty tough. Yeah, so I got my Chinese visa in Bangkok, which saved me a lot of money. It was, like, half the price of what it cost me in the UK. And then I cycled from, like 20 days. And because I was I probably could have cycled through China in 30 days, if I’d been pushing it and like, going every day with because I was doing a few detours to different tourist sites across the last few days doing that, so I was like, I don’t want to risk having to pay a fine. And the border. I’m not I’m not racing, I may as well just and where I did get the, the visa renewal was where the Great Wall is. So I was like, I was spending a few days looking around here.

Carlton Reid 13:44
Okay, so you successfully didn’t go into Mongolia. That would have stuffed your whole trip, wouldn’t it?

Carlton Reid 13:48
Yeah, I’d gone into Mongolia because then you can’t get into other countries. But where did you go from from from China?

Josh Reid 13:55
from China. I went into Kazakhstan, and then into Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and then Uzbekistan? And then I went back into Kazakhstan.

Carlton Reid 14:05
Uzbekistan, were you not allowed to fly drones yeah

Josh Reid 14:07
So like so I smuggle some of my drone into Uzbekistan

Carlton Reid 14:11
If any of those Uzbekistan secret police are listening to this No you didn’t you didn’t have your drone at that point.

Josh Reid 14:17
They were very friendly at the border.

Josh Reid 14:20
They didn’t they didn’t scan your bag but they did. They there was there’s like one guy was like, no you don’t discount and let’s just go but this one army guy really wanted some bags count. So you just said awesome two bags. So I gave him the two bags that didn’t have the donor. So that that was pretty lucky.

Carlton Reid 14:41
Because you’re on a bicycle and yet yet, you’re really not very threatening. If you’re on a bicycle. Do you think you are given more leeway on searches on on just in general, in all parts of the world you’ve been in because you’re a crazy cyclist and you bet and of course you’re by yourself and you’re young. Giving you’re given a lot of leeway

Josh Reid 15:02
probably that definitely scan some countries definitely scan the bags like properly especially going out of China although they didn’t find the drone so

Carlton Reid 15:12
because you also had to GoPros you said so you what you were doing videos and you got more and more followers as you’re going along so people like to the like that 10 minute travelogues basically have you on the I’m assuming it was the iPhone you’re holding it

Josh Reid 15:30
down those things on the iPhone.

Carlton Reid 15:32
And then you are doing the video the cutting the video including dropping footage in from all on the iPhone. Yeah. So that is travelling light in that, you know, not carrying a laptop that you’re doing everything on the iPhone. Yeah, and that worked. Okay, could you had lots of extra time to be able to do that sort of thing. I’ll just

Josh Reid 15:51
when I got darker and spend a few days, like an hour or so every night. Where was the last one you’ve just said that

Carlton Reid 15:58
Tajikstan. So we’re from there?

Unknown Speaker 16:00
into Uzbekistan

Josh Reid 16:04
Yeah, and the buildings out there are really beautiful, lots of light blue mosaic mosques This is Yeah, the roads still pretty bad though all Central Asia, Asian roads are pretty bad. Yeah, the food is terrible. This is terrible. Yeah. Out there I was pretty much living on bread and tomatoes.

Carlton Reid 16:24
Because I want to say Here you are – at least you attempt to be – vegan. Yeah. So you’ve been a vegan for how long?

Josh Reid 16:31
Four years.

Carlton Reid 16:33
Okay, and how vegan was this trip?

Josh Reid 16:37
Like, almost the whole way. Like just there’s only a few occasions where I accidentally ate horse cheese.

Carlton Reid 16:45
How did you accidentally eat horse cheese, Josh?

Josh Reid 16:47
I was going down a descent and I saw these like balls and they look like date balls or something. Something like that really sweet and I was craving something sweet. So as I all I’ll try one of those Then I buy into it is really sour. And then a few miles down the road. I see someone milking a horse. Oops. Okay, yeah. And then when you eating with local families and you don’t speak the language and they’re quite poor, and like in Central Asia, you tend to have just one plate with lots of utensils around and you share the meal. So you just got to eat around the meat, but he actually might have a little bit

Carlton Reid 17:34
So when I’ve been touring in exotic places and you’ve been exactly that situation, and I’ve had like goats killed for me all sorts at you often find that you’re given the choicest cuts of meat, and they’re almost saying like, No, no, you have this is the best bit of meat we’ve got. You have this? Yeah, you didn’t get any of that. You could avoid eating meat?

Josh Reid 17:55
Most of the time. In Tajikstan we were invited – me and a German guy – were invited to for a meal with a family and we didn’t ask for any food they just set off a tea and then loads of soups were brought out. And I thought it was just vegetable soup but it was actually liver in there. And that night I was sick seven times. So I’ve been cycling all day dehydrate anyway and then being sick all night really dehydrated in the morning and like really dehydrated, like pissing brown.

Carlton Reid 18:29
That was the worst day or an awful day cycling after that. Is that the day you broke the glasses?

Josh Reid 18:34
Yeah, so I was leaning over to grab a plastic bag that is about to fly away and landed on my glasses. Cuz I didn’t want to get up as I was so out of it. And then the roads that were terrible as well. So I’ll just hang potholes constantly all day with a banging headache and then had food poisoning.

Carlton Reid 18:52
Was that you lowest day, mentally?

Josh Reid 18:56
Yeah, probably. That’s all you can do. No, it’s going to keep on going. Yeah. Especially with a German guy at that point yeah so I was just following this guy and just trying to hold on to the wheel

Carlton Reid 19:09
so you have cycled with with people here and there

Josh Reid 19:11
yeah i think that cycle with three people in total all along the highway me at the end yeah right damn yeah

Josh Reid 19:20
yeah so most of the cycle tourists on the on the Pamir highway and then not really many going through Europe either

Carlton Reid 19:27
so it’s off season yeah you’re coming through and really the back end of the

Unknown Speaker 19:31
season

Carlton Reid 19:33
not many cycles I mean we we we got the ferry from Amsterdam to Newcastle I mean there’s no other bikes no bad and there will be lots of bikes normally on that ferry service so yeah the season is finished for cycle tourists Of course

Carlton Reid 19:48
so which country we got to now well most cycle turn I think we got to where

Carlton Reid 19:55
we encounter the Caspian Sea yet.

Josh Reid 19:58
No. Okay. So where go backwards and where are we, um, I’ve been cycling through the desert and Uzbekistan and then I slept in a few abandoned buildings which was good. Give me a shelter was it gets cold and at night and then I’m cycling with a German guy still a different different German guy cycled two German guys and we we get to the Caspian Sea and we get to the ferry port and no one knows when the last part left no one knows when the next one’s going so we just I blow up my blow up and just sleep for three days while I’m waiting for a ferry to turn up.

Carlton Reid 20:34
So it’s not like the DFDS ferry were not

Josh Reid 20:38
can’t really call it a ferry. It’s more like a freight ship.

Carlton Reid 20:41
Ship that’s that happens to be taking people but it’s taken goods.

Josh Reid 20:45
Yeah, pretty much just taken. It was it was a new train on they’re going across. So I think Kazachstan maybe was shipping and then you were on the ferry for quite a while but you’re on so we left at night. And I went to sleep expecting to be almost in Azerbaijan by the morning. I poked my head out the window and I could still see Kazachstan. So we were stuck at sea for 30 hours just anchored up next to Kaxachstan because there was a storm out the sea apparently. So what should have taken 30 hours to 70 me got more food, but it was rationed. The food is good, but then I had to fill up on bread and tomato ketchup.

Carlton Reid 21:30
And then you got off the boat and where are you then?

Josh Reid 21:33
in Azerbaijan, which is good. Lots of good pomegranate.

Carlton Reid 21:36
Okay, so we’re now you were the pomegranate in Azerbaijan. Where’d you go from there?

Josh Reid 21:42
In a cycle through all of Azerbaijan, into Georgia. I get to Tblisi.

Carlton Reid 21:48
Christian now?

Carlton Reid 21:50
Yeah. So that was your last Islamic country?

Josh Reid 21:53
Yeah. Food is good in Georgia, huh? Lots of root vegetables and other stuff. Like that the Russians like really liked Georgian food. It’s like an Italian. They’re Italian basically, it’s Georgian. And then I went into Turkey after that. So I wasn’t in Georgia for too long for like a week. Right last

Carlton Reid 22:17
and then yet the north of Turkey Yeah, coming down south Mamaris anything you’re staying at the top. I stay.

Josh Reid 22:24
I hug the coast of the Black Sea all the way along and dissemble is great. You always always got tea in every place you stopped.

Carlton Reid 22:33
And tell me about the bike shops.

Carlton Reid 22:35
Yeah, you’ve, you’ve been to because you had to go to bike shops here and there for

Josh Reid 22:40
Yeah, for running repair. So China was brilliant. In every, every city there’s a Giant shop. So always just if I needed something, I just stopped in a Giant shop and they were always able to sort me out. So like my bolt broke in China. When I was in, in the desert in the Gobi Desert

Josh Reid 22:59
by Was cycled like 300 kilometres and in I think it was

Josh Reid 23:07
happy that

Josh Reid 23:10
they were able to drill out the bolt as they knew they know what they’re doing. And that was solid, but then it broke again on the border of Afghanistan and I tried a few times for people to drill out but because they don’t know what they’re doing and they’re using way too big drill bits and they’re not mechanics they didn’t do a good job and I was I was pretty scared for the bike. So I always got them to stop but then it like this you can’t see where that hole is anymore. So I just had to zip time and bodge it but ended up all right.

Carlton Reid 23:48
And then you had a bike shop in just outside Istanbul again, another Giant bike shop.

Josh Reid 23:52
Yep, they were very good. So I just turned up they were a bit curious. Well, why is doing with all the And where I come for come from explained and they gave me one of them mechanics in there. Let me sleep on the sofa for two or three days really helped me out

Carlton Reid 24:11
Was in Georgia where there was a was a restaurant called Bicycletta?

Josh Reid 24:15
That’s in Bulgaria

Carlton Reid 24:16
That was in Bulgaria yeah okay so I haven’t got there yet okay, let’s let’s let’s talk about that in a second.

Josh Reid 24:20
Okay, so you’re still in Istanbul.

Carlton Reid 24:22
And how do you get from because Istanbul we’re now Asia across across the Bosphorus and then you’re kind of Europe. Yeah. So how did you get across the Bosphorus?

Josh Reid 24:31
I got a ferry just the easiest way just a quick ferry Yeah. 10 minutes. Okay, so

Carlton Reid 24:40
10 minute ferry and all of a sudden you’re in your you’re in Europe, you’ve come across cycle Asia.

Josh Reid 24:44
Yeh, all the way across Asia into Europe.

Carlton Reid 24:49
And is that see across the Bosphorus and you saw in Turkey for a little bit?

Josh Reid 24:53
Yeah, so I was in Turkey for another two days. But it really rained quite hard that I didn’t quite get Rain day. We just had a few rain days along the Black Sea coast is known for its rain there. So I’ve gone through the whole of Central Asia without seeing any rain, and then going to take in getting rain again. It wasn’t so nice.

Carlton Reid 25:17
You were racing against the weather in many respects, yeah. You know, if you’re still coming through Europe in December, you’re gonna get lots of rain days. Yeah. So there was that aspect to it you were trying to get

Josh Reid 25:28
well, there was there’s lots of places in Turkey I’d love to go to. And that kind of Yeah. Along the Mediterranean, cool. But is getting cold in Europe. So I decided to skip it. And the issues with Syria at the time, as I said on the Black Sea coast, I can come back at some point.

Carlton Reid 25:47
So you’re in Turkey, where do you go from Turkey?

Josh Reid 25:50
I went briefly into Greece. I was in Greece for about an hour maybe. So I went across the border at 11 o’clock at night, and then cycle I was going to maybe sleep In Greece, but I just decided to keep on going. And then I went to Bulgaria. I slept under a service station that was closed for the night

Carlton Reid 26:11
to get Wi Fi there because getting Wi Fi in some odd places, are you? Yeah. service stations have got WiFi. WiFi cafes have got Wi Fi so you are ringing up on FaceTime and

Josh Reid 26:22
Yeah, so I don’t I don’t have as a never had a SIM card the whole way across.

Carlton Reid 26:26
You’re now in Bulgaria.

Josh Reid 26:27
Yeah, I didn’t sleep outside too much. Actually. I always was gonna sleep outside. And then people would just offer me places to say people you’ve just met in the evenings and yes, I was one night I was camping in a field while setting up my tent and then a guard dog started barking at me. And then this guy comes over security. I just asked me a few questions. He can’t really speak English but kind of understood I’d cycled from China. And then he gets a pad of paper out through the house. Draws person once at me, like, basically measn come to my house. So there’s a there’s a better open his loft or a warm shower. And he feeds me.

Carlton Reid 27:11
So were you worried at all that any of these people you thinking on these can be mass murderers and I’ve got no idea,

Josh Reid 27:19
I suppose but you just got to trust people sometimes.

Carlton Reid 27:23
Well, they’re trusting you, you could be a mass murderer. Yeah. So it’s trust on both sides, isn’t it?

Josh Reid 27:28
I didn’t experience anything, anything bad. So people are generally kind and you were sleeping in mosques. In Turkey I slept in a lot of mosques that you just turn up to a mosque, knock on the door and they’ll they’ll help you out.

Carlton Reid 27:40
Tell us about the village where you were where the guy said look, anybody in this village

Carlton Reid 27:46
will put you up.

Josh Reid 27:46
So in Tajikistan. I was

Josh Reid 27:50
cycling towards the Afghanistan border. I’ve not reached it yet.

Josh Reid 27:56
It was getting dark. And I was cycling through this village and there was a lot of guys and girls going to pray to the mosque and then one of them just comes up to me and asked him so I was all right. And I was asked to be Is there any way to camp around town? And he said there’s if you ask anyone in this village, you can stay in their house. So it takes me up to theseyobs you in like Europe, you wouldn’t not even go up to and he says, You got anywhere for this guy to stay. And he takes me to his grandma’s house and gives me an Uzbekistan kind of like Central Asian just basically sleeping on the floor. But it’s really comfortable your warm building I’m used to sleeping outside so that’s nice. And then feeds me all night and gives me a tour on around the area in the in the morning. And then sets me oh I see I need to be exotic. In

Carlton Reid 28:58
in land such as that beautiful Pretty exotic even into Europe, you’re still getting that people helping you out and you’re you’re no longer just a cyclist. Yeah, you could be anybody. And you’re still getting this kind of help from people that you’ve never met before. Yeah. Who were just that, you know, the kindness of strangers, even in Europe.

Unknown Speaker 29:19
Now, in

Josh Reid 29:21
Bulgaria, again, I was cycling past an Italian restaurant, and one of the waiters jumps out, says you want to try some pizza? And like, sure. And then the owner comes up to me, like, just me a little bit. And then he just says, the meals on the house have a three course meal. And then I’m about to leave and he asked what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna I was gonna sleep outside of town. And he’s like, No, no, don’t do that. I’ll get your hostel. Leave your bike here. Come back in the morning. And you know, we’ll make some breakfast, and you can have a coffee and he can he also told me a route to go in the morning. So follow that the next day. So, but we go out the restaurant and walking towards the hostel. And he’s like, I’ll just put you in this hotel. So he puts me up in a hotel for the night. Which is really cool.

Carlton Reid 30:10
Because we were also, you know, we were keeping tabs on you were bringing you and you were bringing us and stuff. We were trying to get you in hotels, and using booking.com look Josh we’ll get you in this posh hotel here. And you ever often actually said, No, I don’t want to stay there. I want to stay in a hostel. Yeah. So why do you want even though we were willing to put you up in a place, nice, comfortable hotel. Why do you then say no, I want a hostel

Josh Reid 30:37
Because when I’m cycling, hours and hours and hours in my own head and a hostel way easier to go and talk to someone. So it’s nice to like speak to speak to other people, especially through China and Central Asia where not many people speak huge amount of English. So it’s nice to speak to other travellers and usually find people who speak English in a hostel.

Carlton Reid 31:00
So in a hotel, you’re a bit more isolated, anonymous and isolated, you kind of shut yourself away.

Josh Reid 31:05
Yeah, I’m isolated all day. So yeah,

Carlton Reid 31:08
yeah. Okay, Bulgaria so this was a the restaurant was called Bicylterra. And where was that in Sofia, Sofia so that if anybody’s in Sofia. There’s a fantastic restaurant called La Bicicletta Trattoria — https://sites.google.com/view/labiciclettatrattoria

Josh Reid 31:25
Yeah, yeah.

Carlton Reid 31:26
Cool. Okay, so from Sofia, we’re in Bulgaria. Where do we go? Where’d you go next?

Josh Reid 31:31
From Bulgaria and to Serbia. And the drivers were dreadful. I got hit one point by wing mirror – I cycled on like, not the highway to start with. And there was trucks and so much traffic on there, coming very close to me. So I decided to go on to the the toll road which just opened and there was like one car every minute. And I had a massive hard shoulder and I felt way safer.

Carlton Reid 31:59
So let’s let’s talk about that then. So what kind of roads have been on? Obviously in the desert there’s not a lot you can do you and I do on a corrugated road probably under a dirt road a lot of the times, but what about in China with a bike paths?

Josh Reid 32:14
The bike paths in China were very good. The roads are really good as well. You always if you didn’t have a bike path, he had a massive hard shoulder there was there was times where I’d cycle from one city to city and it would be a bike path all the way along. So there was a lot of mopeds on there and like little farm, yeah, pretty fresh. And I drafted them quite a lot of the time.

Carlton Reid 32:35
So the tractors were on the cycle paths?

Josh Reid 32:37
Not the tractors but like you’ve got little tuk-tuk’s kind of thing. So I’d cycle on them quite a lot.

Carlton Reid 32:43
And then the next time where you got just a tonne of bike paths basically the Netherlands or those you got all right and Austria.

Josh Reid 32:50
There were some good bike paths in Austria.

Josh Reid 32:53
You’re following the river. Yeah, the Danube

Carlton Reid 32:56
you if you were following parts of the the Euro velo route But in Hungary,

Josh Reid 33:02
it was way too wiggly. I didn’t like it. So I just took to the roads. And the bike routes went like that. Anyway, Austria got pretty good. So these are the bike paths your Eurovelo routes next to the river. Yeah. Yeah. And Austria and Germany. The route was good. But in Hungary and Serbia wasn’t so good.

Carlton Reid 33:20
So we were in Bulgaria. Where do we go after Bulgaria, Serbia? Where do we go after Serbia?

Josh Reid 33:27
Into Slovakia, and then into Hungary. So Budapest? Actually, no, I went into Hungary first from Serbia, and then into Slovakia and then into Austria. And then Germany.

Carlton Reid 33:42
And these are the countries are going you know, the the contrast to this.

Josh Reid 33:45
Yeah. So I was going to like, sometimes three countries in a day, so Austria, so you in Budapest. I spent a day off there, had my birthday in Budapest. So I went to the Budapest baths on the birthday and actually met another traveller from Vietnam, and he happens to be in Budapest at the same time. So it was nice to go just

Carlton Reid 34:06
by accident. You met in the baths or?,

Josh Reid 34:09
He messaged me on Instagram and like, said, you’re in Budapest. And I was like, yeah. And then went to the baths.

Carlton Reid 34:16
Wasn’t there somebody in Centeal Asia that I follow on Instagram. And you kind of somehow worked out.

Josh Reid 34:26
No, there was someone in

Josh Reid 34:30
Uzbeckistan.

Josh Reid 34:32
Some account that follows you on Twitter. They saw me when they were cycling around, and we were chatting for a bit. Yeah, very for me the couple cycling from England around the world.

Carlton Reid 34:46
Okay, so Okay, we’re now in Vienna. Yep. So the baths are in Budapest?

Josh Reid 34:53
Then I went to Bratislava. And then Vienna, and then my gears stopped working in Vienna, which is probably have been better if they stop working somewhere in Central Asia is cheaper, cheaper?

Carlton Reid 35:03
All the bike repair starting to get very expensive.

Josh Reid 35:06
Yeah. So I had to replace all my gears cables in Vienna.

Carlton Reid 35:14
Giant shop or was this just a

Carlton Reid 35:16
just a random shop?

Josh Reid 35:17
Probably should have gone to a Giant shop. It was closed at the time. I think

Carlton Reid 35:20
Vienna is where you also popped in to see Tubolito?

Carlton Reid 35:23
Yeah, that was cool.

Carlton Reid 35:24
So these are the guys who have got the very, very light, robust orange

Carlton Reid 35:32
tubes, inner tubes, yeah?

Carlton Reid 35:34
So you popped into there for me so you can take some photographs and stuff. Yeah,

Josh Reid 35:37
They were very friendly.

Carlton Reid 35:38
I’ll do an article on that at some point. Yeah. And that’s coming up.

Carlton Reid 35:41
So anyway, they are in Vienna.

Carlton Reid 35:42
Yeah. So they then because that was when we said Oh, Josh needs a bike shop. So they advise you where to go for the bike shop. Yeah. And only that was pretty rainy day wasn’t it was pretty

Josh Reid 35:51
Yeah. Yep. That was a good day to have off. You’re in Vienna. Where do you go from Vienna.

Josh Reid 35:56
from Vienna. I headed towards

Carlton Reid 36:02
To Germany? Salzburg you go through so yeah.

Josh Reid 36:05
So I went on a bit of a detour into Hallstadt.

Carlton Reid 36:08
Oh, yes. Yeah, yeah. And

Josh Reid 36:11
then to Salzburg where I stayed with my first Warm Showers. It’s just basically it’s like couch surfing.

Carlton Reid 36:21
Should we do this? Is it something, you know, to feed back into the global machine?

Josh Reid 36:28
I definitely I’ll definitely do it when I get my own place.

Carlton Reid 36:31
In Germany. You then tell me that tale about waking up in the morning.

Josh Reid 36:37
Okay, so

Josh Reid 36:38
the train passes. I was

Josh Reid 36:41
really tired and I was sleeping at 11 o’clock at night. I go down to to reach my bottle to get a drink. And I grabbed my tyre. So I’m like, maybe I should stop cycling. So I go in the next field set up my bivi .

Josh Reid 36:58
sleep Then get up in the morning.

Josh Reid 37:02
I go to the toilet. And as if in slow motion a train come past as I’m going to the toilet. You have no way basically. Yeah. In front of the train line. Yeah. And then I just basically panoramic a train. I continue packing all my stuff and then a police car rocks up and two policemen come out. Question me in German, I don’t I don’t speak German, sorry. And then they asked if that’s my bike, and what I’m doing sleeping in a field. I tell it tell my story, then they get very chatty after that. But basically someone had called up and said, it looks like there’s been an accident as a bike in a field in a body bag. In a field, but it was all right. So as soon as they realise your’re tame?

Josh Reid 37:48
Yeah, you’re free to go. Yeah, no problem.

Josh Reid 37:51
Yeah, police have been very friendly on the trip. Once they realise what I’m doing in Xijiang, like the the Muslim province of China. You can only stay in certain hotels in a town with foreigners aren’t allowed in certain hotels. But I was I was going to count this night but I went there’s a checkpoint in Xijiang every 40 kilometres that you’ve got to basically get get your passport out and like spend an hour telling them what you do and they don’t talk to each other so it’s like you’ve got to do it over and over again to the police forces in each cell each different area yeah talking to the elders of each 40 kilometres go tell the same story they don’t know you’re coming but I think China do that on purpose just to give it a control. But I go through this checkpoint and they escort me into town with flashing lights and if they can’t get my bike into the into the police car, so they get me to follow but they they take me they say I’m if I’m hungry, and so they take me out for dinner. So they basically brought me into this restaurant with two policemen and I’m sitting down, I’m eating with chopsticks not very well, and they’re not eating at all it is watching me. So I don’t know what these cooks are thinking all these people in the restaurant like this guy is getting arrested in that and the police are paying for his meal. But it takes them like an hour and a half before they find a hotel that I can sleep in. We tried a few that they the police didn’t even know today, which is the thing is there’s no tourists in this part China. Start booking this hotel it’s about to pay. And then two more police cars rock up and 10 SWAT guys jump out of these cars with bulletproof shield guns and batons and rush into the hotel and like, like saying, what are you doing here? Why are you in this town in the middle of nowhere in the province that China don’t like you go into and they start taking me away and put my bike violently, which I wasn’t too happy about into their into their truck and are about to whisk me away. And then one of them gets on the radio. No, you can actually stay there. So reassembled my bike, get out of the van and go back into the hotel. But it still takes like, an hour and a half, two hours before I get a hotel room.

Carlton Reid 40:08
Isn’t it two in the morning

Josh Reid 40:09
in the morning, I found this very funny to start with when they all rock up and it’s just me in the Lycra really smelly. Just like really wanted to sleep and they’re trying to like it’s really funny to start with and then it just didn’t happen you don’t get a hotel room till 2am It’s not funny anymore.

Carlton Reid 40:27
Was that the night when because President Xi was there in your you’re in one place where you were you didn’t actually know why the SWAT team were there. But was that the day the day that the President was there because it was not at the Rainbow mountains that the President next day and that’s why there’s loads of SWAT around

Josh Reid 40:46
no no this was further back. But this before I went into Xijiang this was in its there were the sand dunes are in

Josh Reid 40:55
Oh, I forgot. It’s

Josh Reid 40:59
It’s where the The Grotto. These are the really famous grottos in China with all the paintings on the wall. And that’s where the President Xi, there’s lots of police about but I didn’t went on a big detour to go I went on a detour in a Sunday in a sandstorm to get to these sand dunes and this these quarters, and then on the way back.

Carlton and Josh Reid, near Lelystad, Netherlands

Josh Reid 41:27
I slept under the road because they don’t like camping. So I generally went to set up camp when I was getting dark. So people wouldn’t see where you’re going. And then wake up when it before it’s like.

Carlton Reid 41:39
So we’re still in. Like, that’s where we’re back into China. Now. Let’s go back into into Germany. So you waiting in the morning this train passes. You’re in Germany. So where are you after Germany? How much of Germany even?

Josh Reid 41:58
So I stopped off in Munich.

Josh Reid 42:01
I have my second Warm showers, that very friendly couple from America who show me around Munich, which is really cool. It’s always nice when you have a local to show you around, they know where to go. And then I went towards Luxembourg

Josh Reid 42:20
and the Vennbahn.

Carlton Reid 42:21
On that note, we will stop there for a quick commercial break and we will cut across to David

Chinese cycle tourist 42:28
Thnakd Carlton. Thanks so much and hi everybody. It’s David, and I am here, you know why I’m here, I’m here to talk about our longtime loyal and fantastic sponsor, Jenson USA at www.Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Remember, that’s jensonusa.com. Now, what’s Jenson USA Well, if you don’t know by now you should. Jenson usa.com is the place where you’re going to find all the things that you need for your complete Cycling lifestyle complete bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, gravel grinders, everything in between components, apparel, accessory, tools, shoes, really gifts, everything you can imagine that you would need for your cycling lifestyle. We’re not talking about off branded stuff. We are talking about name brands that you know, love and need for your cycling lifestyle. You’re going to find those name brands at incredible low prices. And that’s all going to be coupled with unparalleled customer service. If you haven’t been to Jenson USA before, I urge you to do it right now and every time you need something for cycling because they’re going to have it at great prices, and you’re going to be very, very satisfied with their customer service. Go ahead and check them out. That’s Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Our thanks to Jenson USA for supporting the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast, and our thanks to you for supporting our sponsor, Jenson USA. Alright, Carlton, back to you.

Carlton Reid 44:08
Thanks, David. And we are back with Josh Reid, globe-girdler-extraordinare, as they used to say in the 1890s when people were cycling around the world at that point, so just you remembered

Josh Reid 44:22
So the detour I took was to Dunhuang, whether the big sand dunes on its Mogao caves where the

Josh Reid 44:31
Chinese president was.

Carlton Reid 44:33
Okay, so President Xi was there and you didn’t know at the time. Now there’s lots of lots of

Carlton Reid 44:38
security forces they were they were following you on an angle and that’s where the President’s just been, it’s always going to be a day or something. So that’s why there’s lots of security presence.

Josh Reid 44:49
So I, I go along the sand dunes but it’s fenced off. So I try and find somewhere where I could kind of climb over the fence, and I’m about to climb over this fence. And then a Chinese guy comes up to me and says, follow me. So I follow him. And he shows somewhere I can camp. And then he has a key to a gate. So he lets me through the gate and says, you can go up there if you want to take some pictures of top of the sand dunes. You can put the sand dunes or do you like come to the bottom of them. But he’s had Be careful because people have wandered in there and never come back.

Carlton Reid 45:22
That’s my funnest thing of cycle touring was going into place like the Sahara, and sleeping on sand dunes. And then you’ve got the sky. Yeah, and that’s one of the benefits when people think of sleeping in outdoors. We haven’t got a tent, but yeah, you just look up in the sky.

Josh Reid 45:40
Yeah, I slept under the stars every night. It is

Josh Reid 45:42
amazing just sleeping under the stars is just unbelievable. So I went from China. When it was at night it was still really humid. So I’d be in my bivvisac and I’d be sweating to go in through Central Asia and it’s actually all right it’s quite pleasant. Sleep in the baby except when you up on 4000 metres. It’s bloody freezing. And then into Europe when your toes are cold every night. I didn’t carry any warm socks, only thin cycling socks. So my feet were always freezing.

Carlton Reid 46:11
So we have reached the Vennbahn, because that’s how it’s spelled, but it’s called it’s the fen. It’s actually an F. It’s the it’s like the Fenlands, the Fenway. So you’re on the Vennbahn, which is this fantastic cycleway through Luxembourg. So you hit Luxembourg, basically. Yep. And there’s very cute photographs, which you kind of pre researched.

Josh Reid 46:36
I did my first cycle tour with you in Luxembourg when I was six or seven. So I asked you to find those photos. You send them across, eventually found them. And by accident, I go past the like little town that we got some of those photos in so I recreated them.

Carlton Reid 46:56
Yeah, that was really cute. So the photograph of you as a seven year old In front of this or the castle behind, and then you’ve you’ve asked somebody to take the photograph. Yeah, there you are in the exactly the same place. That’s amazing to see it. So it’s basically a press trip, but I

Josh Reid 47:12
did all those years ago. I didn’t try and go there though. That was just an accident. Okay,

Carlton Reid 47:17
so you’ve you get to Troisverges which is the start of the Vennbahn and you got 125 kilometres to do which goes into Germany and turned yep to Belgium. So describe what you’ve been doing on that route and

Josh Reid 47:36
Basically cycling and then taking footage for you.

Carlton Reid 47:41
Yes, to get me some drone photographs. I’ve got a Guardian piece coming up. So yeah, took some photographs. Good. I didn’t see Monschau in daylight.

Josh Reid 47:48
Yeah, that was that was highlight of that little stretch. Yeah.

Josh Reid 47:52
I did actually cycle past it. And then I had a nagging thing in my brain saying, My dad said that was that was the cute town. I was like, fine, I’ll go and then I’m really glad I’m really glad I went down there. But it was down into a valley coupled climb up back up. Yeah. Which was my legs are already hurting so I wasn’t too That’s why I wasn’t too keen to go down there and a lot of days it was a nice Christmas market down and cute village. Yeah,

Carlton Reid 48:19
yeah, yeah Monschau was nice. So mancell your then your next destination is basically Arkan

Josh Reid 48:28
Yeah. And then what did the next night? So wherever I would probably say an arc and I probably slept in a field in our can.

Josh Reid 48:37
Yeah, Yeah, I did. That was no, I cycled all the way into the Netherlands that day

Carlton Reid 48:44
to Heelen.

Josh Reid 48:45
Yeah. So I I wanted to get into the Netherlands which is my last country until England, really? Yeah. So I wanted to get into even though I did a little stretch into Belgium the next day. I wanted to get into another country, a little finger.

Carlton Reid 48:58
There is a tiny little bit isn’t Maastricht.

Josh Reid 49:00
Yeah, so I got into the Netherlands that day and then had my last night coming in, in the Netherlands. So I think I slept out in the open in every country went through.

Carlton Reid 49:10
And you stayyed with somebody in Utrecht?

Josh Reid 49:13
Yeah. An old school friend.

Carlton Reid 49:15
So from Heelen to Utrecht in like a day? Or two days?

Josh Reid 49:24
One day, just one day.

Josh Reid 49:27
One day, basically, yeah, that was my last day over 100 miles.

Carlton Reid 49:31
Yeah, that’s a good point to actually ask what kind of mileages are you doing? What’s your top mileage? What’s your lowest mileage? Your average mileage?

Josh Reid 49:41
My biggest days were in China. I was doing 260 kilometres.

Carlton Reid 49:46
You could do that or you had to?

Josh Reid 49:48
I just fancied it.

Josh Reid 49:50
I could have gone further but my lights always died.

Carlton Reid 49:53
Because you got more daylight at this time of year. So that helps

Josh Reid 49:54
and then Tajikistan. It was down to like 60, or 70 kilometres a day was just up and down. At 4600 metres altitude is good and bad food poisoning some days. Yeah. And then Europe is like 180 kilometres around the hundred and 50 to 200 kilometre mark that was doing each day for four months.

Carlton Reid 50:17
So the way you’ve described it is your your base fitness is really good now. Yeah. So you’re looking to go racing again and you’re thinking well, long distance races are not going to faze you really at the moment.

Josh Reid 50:28
Yeah. Well, the world feels much smaller now.

Josh Reid 50:31
You can get to China in four months.

Carlton Reid 50:34
True. So you are now in Utrecht? Yeah. And you’re staying with a friend from school. And then we’re now coming to where I meet you.

Carlton Reid 50:46
Yeah, because you leave Utrecht

Carlton Reid 50:50
In the whole of the Netherlands you’re on bike paths, yeh?,

Josh Reid 50:52
Pretty much. Yeah. There was a time when a mountain biker past me and then took me on some trails just by nature. So then I didn’t have to look at the map. I did have to back in Europe, I had to look at the map a lot more. I took a few lot more wrong turns, whereas in China Central Asia just

Carlton Reid 51:12
One road.

Carlton Reid 51:14
You can’t be wrong. Yeah. Okay, so you’re Utrecht, you leave. We then meet up on this this coastal bike path where, you know, it’s we I can’t miss you. And we’re going to be passing at some point we’re getting closer and closer. We meet up and then we go to

Carlton Reid 51:33
see the Giant factory.

Carlton Reid 51:35
In Lelystad. So basically, you’ve gone all the way from Shanghai, Giant factory to the Giant factory in Lelystad, which is the European hub where they’re making bikes, you know, they they’re shipping the frames. Yeah, sometimes they paint them, but maybe they’re shipping them in and to sell its factories. And that’s not just you know, it’s not jyst a warehouse. It’s actually in fact making bikes.

Josh Reid 52:01
So that’s pretty cool. And then Frank,

Carlton Reid 52:04
the second in command of that place takes us around. And then we he, he lives 25 kilometres away in Almere. And so he then takes us. Yeah. On his nature route and then of course that’s where we are in any crash. Yeah. And bring you down. break your legs. Yeah, that was that was going to be dodgy because it was a cattle grid. Yeah, it was a cattle grid. And he didn’t know is there is I didn’t know

Carlton Reid 52:37
you went into it sideways.

Riding the penultimate day, with Giant’s Frank Veltman

Carlton Reid 52:39
I did my Okay, what you need kit wise we know what I need is a bike with disc brakes. Because within rim brakes, I didn’t really and because a lot of dirt around and you know, I’ve got a road bike on dirt paths and it’s like I had no brakes. I just I almost had to stare that way because I couldn’t have stopped Yeah, that was that was quite dodgy. We are nearly crashed and you would have crashed into me and we were going on a fair old lick weren’t we?

Josh Reid 53:08
Well, you two are both on really light road bikes. With no front panniers.

Carlton Reid 53:14
I’m looking behind, Josh is doing all right.

Josh Reid 53:17
Hanging on, sticking out, really wide, I’ve got two front panniers on the front with20 kilogrammes of weight on a bike. Yeah, I was keeping up but it was an effort.

Carlton Reid 53:30
But at that point we didn’t know where we’re going to sleep – were we going to sleep in Almere because I know you wanted to get to Amsterdam and after we had to get to the to the DFDS ferry, but we didn’t know where we’re going to stay but we just were so close we might as well just keep on pedalling. So we ride through the dark. We just pedal through into Amsterdam and then we did stay in a in a posh hotel. You’re with me, now. Yeah. So I’m not gonna sleep in a hostel anymore. I’m way beyond that. And my bumming out days are over. I’m gonna stay in a posh hotel. So we turn up a posh hotel with two incredibly filthy bikes.

Josh Reid 54:09
Yeah I would have just squealed them straight straight in you you didn’t want to

Carlton Reid 54:14
well they were incredibly filthy yeah they were they were something else.

Josh Reid 54:19
Uou went up to the to ask you for you and take the bikes in and I was still outside freezing shivering and then you come out and say all can’t stay there and they won’t let us bring the bikes and if we just pulled them in nothing It would have been fine.

Carlton Reid 54:31
Yeah, just pay for it and then just walk in with felt the bike and go to the room. Yeah. Okay, so then we are pretty much we’re now in Amsterdam, we’ll say the night and then we’ll try to get back to – and then you get a rainy day. don’t you?

Carlton Reid 54:50
you get a

About the board the DFDS ferry from Amsterdam

Josh Reid 54:52
Nice getting to the ferry. It wasn’t very far but it felt further because the bad weather. Yeah, a headwind and not very nice rain. Straight into our face.

Carlton Reid 55:03
Yeah, but then we got the nice ferry trip. And then you met at the ship who who met you at the ship [in Newcastle]?

Josh Reid 55:09
My mother. My grandparents.

Carlton Reid 55:12
Yeah. And then then we cycle so your mum cycled out to see us? Yep. And we then cycle back and then what do you what do you do? You didn’t you didn’t come straight back with us, did you?

Josh Reid 55:24
I went to the bike shop.

Carlton Reid 55:26
Which bike shop?

Josh Reid 55:27
The Backyard bike shop.

Carlton Reid 55:29
And that’s the one under the Tyne bridge, yeah? So what you’re doing there

Josh Reid 55:32
I went to see Nick and had a good chat is on the way home so I may as well

Carlton Reid 55:38
And then and then basically when your way home and what have you done since you’ve been back at home?

Josh Reid 55:47
Broke a bike, got a massage.

Carlton Reid 55:51
Yeah.

Josh Reid 55:53
When it’s on is it

Carlton Reid 55:57
right now because I mean, you just bought around not doing a great deal is that is that something you want to do just like to chill out to like do nothing for a while or you’re itching to get away again What?

Josh Reid 56:10
Well, I’m in the process of entering for the Transcontinental, whether I get in or not is another thing.

Carlton Reid 56:16
So describe what that is.

Josh Reid 56:17
It’s a bikepacking race across Europe, basically self supported and you just go as fast as you can. But I definitely need better lights for that, and a dynamo.

Carlton Reid 56:30
So I know when I came back from my trips, I definitely had itchy feet. Do you do you still feel like that you want to be still moving?

Josh Reid 56:38
There’s definitely places I still want to go.

Josh Reid 56:40
I want to go racing and a bit.

Carlton Reid 56:42
So you may get into the Transcontinental, when is that?

Josh Reid 56:44
It’s and July August. So we just to two or three weeks of just riding nonstop.

Carlton Reid 56:52
Again bivvying or do people go in B&B’s for that?

Josh Reid 56:55
Bivvies. Everybody bivvies. I’m not sure about the stragglers but the top five will be in bivvies.

Carlton Reid 57:03
So basically you just ride until you …?

Josh Reid 57:06
yeah, it’s self-supported. Yeah. You ride until he can’t ride no more, sleep for two hours and then you continue riding.

Carlton Reid 57:13
So you have got this plan for the transcontinental. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 57:19
Potentially if you get it if you get it and it’s a ballot?

Josh Reid 57:23
It’s like it’s like, highly contested, they choose.

Carlton Reid 57:28
But you know, because you’re 22 and said we’re going to stress it this is a pretty young age to be doing what you’ve been doing.

Josh Reid 57:35
Yeah, people ultra-endurance tend to be a bit older. But yeah, it’s something I like racing and I like bike touring so Transcontinental is right up my street.

Carlton Reid 57:47
Okay, so that’s coming up in the in the summer if you get into that good luck with that. When you were I was certainly posting on Twitter, your your exploits and your videos and stuff. And so the Leicester cycling campaign said you must come and give a talk. So you’ve got a talk booked down there. some point, you’ve also got a talk coming up.

Josh Reid 58:11
Yeah. For the Tyne

Carlton Reid 58:13
time trial awards.

Carlton Reid 58:15
Because you’re not really done that before, have you?

Josh Reid 58:17
I’m going to be more nervous talking in front of people than II was riding along next to Afghanistan for 300 kilometres.

Carlton Reid 58:23
Thanks to Josh Reid there. The videos we mentioned can be found on YouTube and I link to them on the show notes at the

Carlton Reid 58:31
-spokesman.com.

Carlton Reid 58:34
I’ll also link to Josh’s Instagram photos, he’s joshreids on that platform, which is Josh R E I D S.

Unknown Speaker 58:46
I’m really proud of his ride

Carlton Reid 58:47
and loving the fact that he’s sort of following in my wheel tracks. He’s now spent a couple of years riding and travelling and working abroad as I did back in the

Carlton Reid 58:58
ahem – 1980s

Carlton Reid 59:01
This has been show 231 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. The next couple of shows will be one on one interviews with American cycle advocate and academics. Meanwhile, get out there and ride!

Chinese cycle tourist 59:44
[Chinese audio …]

Chinese cycle tourist 59:49
That’s my point and I want to go to England one day to find you. It sounds good. Okay, give me five. Okay. Now okay. Hope to see you, Josh.

November 24, 2019 / / Blog

Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

Rags To Riches: Head to Head with Le Col’s Yanto Barker

Sunday 24th November 2019

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Yanto Barker, CEO and founder of Le Col cycle apparel.


TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to episode 230 of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast. This show was published on Sunday 24th November 2019.

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at theFredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at the-spokesmen.com. And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1.00
Hi there I’m Carlton Reid and on today’s show we’ve got a head to head interview with Yanto Barker, the former pro cyclist who rebooted a racing career to promote his fledgling premium cycle clothing brand, Le Col. As you’ll hear in this hour-long show, at first Yanto did all of the jobs in his startup, from designing to dispatching, but as Le Col grew he delegated to experts. Le Col now employs 33 people, including 8 in Italy — early in the company’s trajectory Yanto bought the Italian factory that had been making his high-end apparel, and it’s fascinating to hear how and why he did this. He’s affluent now, he says, but Yanto explains how he didn’t start loaded — his, then, is a rags-to-riches story.

I dig into the company’s financials, asking how Le Col raised money through crowdfunding as well as attracting venture capital. In the chat we don’t stop to explain terms so here are two acronym explainers: HMRC is Her Majesty’s Revenues and Custom, in other words the UK’s tax authorities. And EIS is the Enterprise Investment Scheme in which investors can claim up to 30% income tax relief on their investments, something that’s key to crowdfunding campaigns that sell shares in a business – so think Crowdcube not Kickstarter.

As you’ll hear, Yanto a driven individual and this interview was conducted for a profile I shall do on him for Forbes.com. You can check out all of my Forbes articles at Forbes.com/sites/carltonreid

Carlton Reid 3.00
That link, and a bunch of others, can be found on the shownotes for this episode at the-spokesmen.com And as with all of the latest shows, that website has a full transcript of this episode.

Carlton Reid
So Yanto, tell me about your racing career before you started Le Col.

Yanto Barker
So I was a very single minded young man. And at the age of 16, I was pretty clear that I wanted to be a cyclist, and at 17 I was going to college and decided that – coming back from college one day – I didn’t want to go there anymore. I thought I could do a better job, racing my bike for a career. And that’s what I wanted to concentrate on. So I came home to tell my parents who have always been very open with me and and supportive of my choices as long as I understood the implications and seriousness and that I wasn’t overlooking any serious details, then they will support me to do whatever I wanted. At the time, I was I was in a very modest financial situation with my parents. My mum was a single parent and she brought me and my sisters up on her own, basically, and she was receiving Family Credit for me attending higher education. And she made it very clear that if I stopped then that that income would stop. And therefore I would need to pick it up and contribute it from a personal point of view. So I basically asked her how much that was, and I think was about 30 pounds a week. And I said, Fine. I’ll get a job part time, couple days a week and I’ll cover it, which I did. So I think I went to college one more day, picked up my stuff, told my tutors, that’s what I was doing. And from then on, I was 100% full time as a cyclist. I was a junior at the time, I was writing for the national team. So the GB national team, I was in a team with Bradley Wiggins, and I was actually riding and racing all around the world already as part of the junior national series, international series and you know, writers like Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara were my generation as juniors. And, you know, that was the world I lived in and I was looked after like an athlete, given bikes, kit, travel, expenses, you know, hotels and flights booked from from then on.

Carlton Reid
It’s still a hell of a leap though. That’s a very brave decision you took and your your mum, you’re taking that kind of decision at that kind of age that had, obviously financial implications.

Yanto Barker
Yeah, I did. It was brave, actually. And I look back and actually the bravery was probably overshadowed by naivety. And that theme we’ll come back to if you ask a few more questions of more recent times, I would say it’s a similar characteristic in that I am brave, almost a little bit too brave for myself sometimes, but luckily, I’m quite resourceful and determined, and I do love a challenge. And I’m often challenging myself. And that was the first one that was the first big occasion that was the first big challenges: can I earn my living from my passion, my cycling passion? And the answer was yes, I can. Can I, you know, look off myself financially and, and live that life that I really want to and I did and I’m very proud of myself that I was able to.

Carlton Reid 6.17
So tell me what years we talking about here

Yanto Barker
1997, 98, 99 and onwards basically, I mean 97 that was I was my first ride for a GB team was 1997. I remember it very clearly there was the Tamworth Two-Day in the Midlands, with Bradley Wiggins and a number of other riders who didn’t, didn’t continue as long as we did. And from that was from then on, I was looked after as part of the GB setup. And later I moved to France to ride for a semi pro team and continue my career that way.

Carlton Reid
And then when did you have the idea to start a clothing brand at the same time as as racing.

Yanto Barker
So they actually happened independently because by the time I was 25, I’d been on the podium of the Nationals the national men’s I was a junior national champion at 18. And then I’ve been on the podium and best British finisher at the tour of Britain. And I wasn’t getting paid and wasn’t getting the contracts for the next year that I really felt like I needed to to demonstrate that I was going to continue on a trajectory that would enable me to relax financially at the end of my career, which was sort of 35, 36, 37 depending on which age you choose to stop racing full time. And that made me really nervous and I felt like I wanted to stop and reinvent myself sooner rather than later. I think as a younger adult, you are a bit more flexible, you’re not so set in your ways. And as I described earlier, from the age of 17, I was looked after, like a little pop star in a bubble where pretty much everything was given or supplied to me.

Yanto Barker 8.00
Now, while that’s a real luxury to some people, it’s equally quite a institutional conditioning. That means when it comes to looking after myself on some basic adult grown up logistics like paying rent and bills, and you know, council tax and all that kind of stuff. I wasn’t, I wasn’t needing to do that it was all covered for me I was looked after. So at 25. I actually did the Commonwealth Games in 2006, on the 25th of March in Melbourne. And that was my last race from the first half of my career. I then took three years out, 2006, 07 and 08, where I didn’t race my bike or even exercise for half of that time at all, which was a real shock to the system actually. But I’m a very all or nothing kind of person. So when I stopped, I didn’t touch my bike for 18 months, I didn’t even do any kind of exercise for 18 months. And I was really keen to change my focus and create a gap in my life that was going to get filled from the next phase.

Carlton Reid
How did you make money?

Yanto Barker
Exactly, how to make money? And I never actually intended to come back to cycle so at this point 2006, middle of 2006 and 2007, I, I’m I’m ignoring cycling. I watch a little bit on the telly, but I’m really not intending to have anything more to do with it and actually researching what other jobs could I get? What other businesses maybe I could start? What ways can I earn my living and how am I going to, you know, look after myself financially going forward. So, get to middle of 2008 and I come up after doing a bit of a feasibility on a couple of different businesses. One, I’d had a couple of jobs and I didn’t like having a job. I like to be self-employed and like to look after my own my own time and responsibilities. So I did a feasibility on a couple different projects like cycling training/coaching, which is quite popular for ex-athletes at the moment. Travel which was another one and then the clothing equally bikes and and parts I also looked at, and the clothing idea was the one that felt like the most potential and the one that I thought could actually go the furthest. So I started to give that quite a bit more attention. So really middle of 2008, I was starting to focus on researching suppliers, fabrics, designs, brand names, I was going through the logistics of what it takes to set up a business, including registering at Companies House on domain names, you know, all the things that have to be done before anyone even knows about it. These are the things that I was starting to look at.

Carlton Reid
And when did you actually physically found the business then but when do you actually physically have your product, right? So

Yanto Barker
Get to the end of 2008 and I am missing cycling and I started to think to myself, well, if I’m going to start a cycling brand, then I could, why don’t I go back to cycling and use my own profile to promote the business? So by this point, I come up with a name; I knew what I wanted what I wanted to achieve in terms of the price point, the position in the market, a lot of the fundamentals as in route to market, the products that I want to improve from what was available in other brands. And I started trading properly towards the end of 2008. And I began racing again early 2009. So I started to receive products and samples in early 2009. And continued developing the samples actually for another year in a bit until we started trading officially in 2011. And I had to continue to race full time as well. So I was from the beginning of 2009, I was running in parallel, a full time racing career again, although I rode for myself, I sponsored myself effectively with my brand name on my jersey, even though we weren’t officially trading yet. And then I was setting up all the foundations of what needed to be done for the business to begin trading in 2011.

Carlton Reid 12.00
So this is why, in some company profiles I’ve seen it says 2011, others says, no, 2009. So basically both both are correct?

Yanto Barker
Yeah. So the idea was formed earlier than 2011. But we weren’t a company trading until 2011.

Carlton Reid
Right. Okay. And then I want to go backwards a bit. Did you put on weight when you’d stop riding and and how did you find getting back into into into cycling? What physiologically happened to you?

Yanto Barker
So, no, I didn’t put on any weight. And I actually tried for a while. So some people reading this might might feel like that’s not fair. But basically, I didn’t put on a single kilo. I changed my body composition. So I had a lot less muscle when I wasn’t doing any exercise. But I actually didn’t change weight, and then when it came back to racing, and training properly, I mean, when I first started I was I was riding very slowly compared to what I used to, but I was very clear that to get back to a strong condition, physical condition, I just needed to focus on intensity and the speed would come back naturally. So I went out for my first few rides at the end of 2008 in preparation for the 2009 season, and I just pushed as hard as I could, but I was riding three, four, maybe even five miles an hour slower than I was used to. But I ignored the speed. I just focused on my intensity, and I pushed as hard as I could and I knew if I did that I would get fit quickly. Like I said, I hadn’t put on any weight so I wasn’t losing weight. And the form came back actually within six weeks, even after just under three years off. I was you know, back to being as fast as any club rider and then within another three or four weeks, I was doing 25, 30 hours in a week of training in the UK in January. And I was fully committed to making sure I was as fast as I could possibly be and as good as as close to as good as I was before I started so up until the age of 25. I got back there by the time I did my first race, which was in February 2009.

Carlton Reid
Interesting. So then you’ve got the brand up and running in 2011. You then have about five years of running the brand and racing at the same time.

Yanto Barker
Yeah, that was I mean that I look back now. I mean, I didn’t have a family than I’ve got two children now. But it was just myself and my girlfriend, who is now my wife. And I mean, it was a seven day a week job. I trained every single morning during the week. Sometimes up to 100 miles, I go from London to Brighton and back. And then in the afternoons, I’ve come to the office. And I’d look at spreadsheets, I’d look at designs, I’d sign off samples, I do all the things that need to be done in the work environment to make sure that the business continued.

Yanto Barker 15.00
And then a little bit later, so 2015 and 2016. I was racing more internationally again. I was taking part in World Tour races like Tour de Dubai, Tour of Poland, Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne, those kind of races. And on the team bus between stages, you do 250 kilometre stages. And I was trying to check my emails after those kinds of stages, and it was really, really hard work. And I look back now and I think I was really committed. I’m very dedicated. And I did that for a number of years, like you say from 2011 until 2016. August 2016 was my last race. I was working virtually seven days a week and often late into the evenings and definitely weekends every single week.

Carlton Reid
And you are farming an awful lot of stuff out. So you’re you’re you’re getting somebody else to do the designs. You’re basically buying in expertise. Is that how you did it?

Yanto Barker
Yeah, but I always basically I did every single job in this business before I hired the person that now looks after that department or that that specific role. So as a founder and entrepreneur, your role is very adaptive to what needs to be done. And at an early stage, you know, there was me and a factory. So an early early stage, there was me on my own and I had a part-time secretary who just managed my emails while I was out training or if I was abroad or racing, internationally. And then the interesting thing is, because I, I never worked a full-time job in the office, I was always racing my bike. So it was a bit like I always had a morning meeting that took at least four hours. So I’ve been very good quite early on being quite good at delegating; delegating the responsibilities, delegating the jobs, and making sure that I checked up on them rather than did them myself. So that is how it started. But I did do every single job. So I did accounts, I did design. I did branding. I did website building, I did planning, I did forecasting, I did finances. I did investment, I did people managing, you know, I did product testing, you know, this, this is really, you know, fundamental to me knowing every part of this business is that I did that job in the beginning. So when it comes to hiring, it’s actually quite a luxury because I have someone who’s a specialist in each department and each role and they do a much better job than I did. So actually, it’s testament to me that I could adapt myself with no qualifications, to run and do all those different jobs at different times, just just enough to get it to where it needed to be until I could employ the person to come in and take that on full time and with the training and expertise, they have in their experience to do it, like it should be done instead of how I was doing it.

Carlton Reid
And how many people are you employing now?

Yanto Barker
We’re just over 30 now. I think we’re 32, 33 not everybody’s on a full five-day week, but that’s pretty much where we are 33 people.

Carlton Reid
That’s UK?

Yanto Barker
That’s UK and Italy.

Carlton Reid
Let’s go to Italy then. Tell me how you how you first of all contacted that factory in Treviso. So and then how you ended up owning it?

Yanto Barker
Yeah. So good, good question

Yanto Barker
I was contacted by them. So at the time I was looking for samples, I was actually getting them made in Pakistan in China, Italy in the UK. And I was looking for someone that I could trust and rely who would deliver the products that I needed reliably, both in quality control and timing and then manage me as a relationship because I was about to spend the most amount of money I’d ever had at one time, and it was about to be gone on my first order. So I had been contacted by them to say that they could do custom kit and I contacted them back again and said, Can you do more than custom kit, could you do a brand for me? I’ll give you all the files. I’ll give you the name I’ll give you the CADs so you can see what the artwork looks like and then if you make it then we can start to develop some samples and see how it goes. So that was the first contact I had with a lady called Sandra Sartori, who was an Italian lady based in Treviso, just outside Treviso, a place called Castelfranco. And I developed a relationship with her, she delivered some samples for me, and they were pretty good. I thought they needed a little bit of work. And I asked her can I come and visit you? And she said yes. She was an account manager in a in a factory. And I went to visit her, I got on really well with her. [[[[[[She was very straightforward, not Italian-like more Germanic. So turns out, she’s from the very, very north of Italy, which is close to the Austrian border. And she has a very Austrian feel to her character. As in she speaks Italian, she, she she sounds Italian, but she looks more Germanic. And she acts in a very structured, predictable Germanic way which actually was really useful from my point of view, I could, I could feel like not wanting to operate the operating as a business.]]]]] So we developed a relationship. See, she looked after me as an account. And supplied me all of my goods from the very, very first jersey that ever got made. right up until today, actually, she has managed that process. And I used that process and she was an account manager for me, and they were my supplier for about three years, until early 2014. When actually, late 2013, I first went there to say, I’ve got some, I’ve got some issues with quality control. I’ve got some issues with reliability in terms of timings, there, I want to I want to see the improvements, and I want you to give me some assurance how that’s going to happen. And she said, I don’t think it can happen. She was very frank. And I said, Well, what what you mean? And she said, because there is there are disagreements in how the business needs to be run and we’re just not going to get invested into the departments that need to be invested into to service you in the way you’re looking to be serviced at the standard that you that you want, and I said okay. So what what do I need to do? I don’t really want to look for a new factory, you’ve got to run through all your definitions again, you’ve got to find out, you know all of their strengths and weaknesses. And actually, it’s a very destabilising process for a brand that is moving to change its supplier, and then line it all up so no one notices, and you get the right quality product at the right time to sell. And she said, Well, you know, you could probably make an offer to buy the business. And I was like, really? I mean, I didn’t, I didn’t go there to do that. But during this meeting, when I’m complaining about timing and quality control, she said, well, why don’t you buy or invest into the business? And I said, Okay, let me think about it. And I’ll need some details. So I asked her a bunch of questions. She answered a bunch of questions. And I said, give me a few months I’ll come back to you. And so I basically pitched to raise investment to buy them out and and take on the factory as a going concern and about six months later, that’s exactly what happened. So I bought an order book, I bought a management team. And I bought all the contacts and facilities I needed to service my product so as no one would notice the transition from the company being registered as it was when I first started to it being incorporated into my business, and it being a version of Le Col Ltd. in Italy that was the manufacturing department.

Carlton Reid
And how many people in Italy?

Yanto Barker
We have aout 8 people there. And we do have a flexible outsourcing process there as well. So obviously cycling kit is very seasonal. I was very cautious about taking on fixed overheads, because that just creates a very hungry beast of a business that needs feeding, you know orders all the time so we can do the minimum but actually we outsource the real flex in peak season. we outsource to a cutting department who is literally a kilometre down the road and a sewing department who helped make sure that we can cater for that flex in peaks and troughs of the seasonality. And then I also service a whole bunch of international customers who came with the order book from the original business. And were, you know, transferred across, and we service them continually as well.

Carlton Reid
And these are all cycle?

Yanto Barker
Yeah, there was a little bit of yoga wear, there was a little bit of ski wear. But actually, we’ve tried to sort of steer away from that, because actually, cycling is our expertise. And I think it’s important that we do focus on the things that we do well, and yeah, so that’s what we’ve done really. So we now you know, 98% cycling.

Yanto Barker
{{{{And, yeah, we just continue in that way.}}}}

Carlton Reid
So you’re seeing what other brands are going to be bringing to market, potentially?

Yanto Barker
Kind of. More like we service sort of international custom customers. And I wouldn’t say there are any big recognisable brands, there are a few smaller, maybe southern hemisphere brands who use our manufacturing. But we don’t really share IP very much. I’m quite protective about what we develop, I spent a long, a long time, and a lot of money developing very technical products that I don’t really want anyone else to have. And likewise, I’m not hugely concerned with what anyone else is doing in terms of product development, because, you know, I know what a good product should do. I know what I want it to look like. And I’m very focused on delivering that as opposed to looking around at what other brands are doing and maybe sort of incorporating a little bit of this, a little bit of that from other areas.

Yanto Barker
So the investment you got to buy the factory in Trevisio was before the Crowdcube investment?

Yanto Barker
Yes, correct. The factory investment was about a third, a third: My savings, a bank loan and seed investors.

Carlton Reid
Okay. And then talk about how you got into doing … well. you got a million, just over a million pounds from 344 investors. You started in 2016. But then it finished in January 2017. Yes?

Yanto Barker
Yes, it did, yes. So we did, I mean, we started actually on that project to pitch for crowdfunding investment in February 2016. We didn’t get to launch on the site on Crowdcube until the 17th of November. And then we hit Christmas holidays and all sorts of things. It was a really, really challenging time probably one of the most stressful times I’ve ever encountered. And I’ll add that my wife gave birth to our first daughter in the middle and I was in the hospital corridor or taking phone calls for £250 investment. a £1000 investment £10,000 investment while you know, we’re trying to get through learning how to breastfeed, and, you know, the complications of her birth, it wasn’t straightforward either. So that was intense. And, you know, it needed quite special a special attention. But yeah, we completed in January 2017.

Yanto Barker 25.46
We had an issue with HMRC, complying with EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) submission. So that was actually a real challenge and they wouldn’t release funds until that came through which it thankfully did in about February, so a month later, and all the time is quite anxious, you know about people — they are only stating an intent of commitment, they haven’t actually paid any money yet. So it’s not until EIS compliance confirmation come through from HMRC that that turns into a actual investment and the money gets paid. So that was quite a stressful time.

Yanto Barker
So other companies have — other cycle clothing companies— have gone to Crowdcube and and got investment. I mean, there’s there’s been a couple of crash and burn companies there — who I have done stories on — that took that money and probably didn’t use it terribly wisely. So what did you use that that that million pounds for?

Yanto Barker
Yeah. So I was very clear that I bought a factory. So when I said in the very, very beginning that I was brave, this was a stupidly brave move. Because I had no idea just how big a deal that was to actually incorporate an international manufacturing facility into quite a small UK cycling clothing brand. They were turning over more than I was turning over in the UK, that’s for sure. And, and luckily, I’m resourceful. I made it work, but actually it was very, very close for a long time and it was quite stressful. So the reason I say that is I was quite clear through the intent to go to Crowdcube and raise that money that was about a marketing play, to build the brand to justify having a manufacturing facility in Italy, because that facility was too big for the brand that I’d incorporated it into the early stage in the beginning, but I always believed I will grow into that factory. And that’s what we have done. And actually we’ve surpassed that now we’ve grown almost, it’s had to expand to accommodate us. But in the early stage, it was much too big. So I was really keen that we raised a million pounds we invest a million pounds into marketing and sales and I employed a very senior marketing executive from Sky called Simon Creasey at the same time as completing that Crowdcube phrase. And then the the money that was raised was very much about improving our systems, software and processes, a strong push into product development and a very big play into marketing, PR and social media.

Carlton Reid
And then so that was 21% equity that those those 344 have got some of them gone on to become quite

Carlton Reid
active and really using that that leverage they’ve got or are they all sleeping investors?

Yanto Barker
They’re all excellent investors I will say and I’m I think I’m very fortunate actually because there are horror stories of Crowdcube, you know, crowdfunding stories of, you know, investors that are nightmare or, you know, knowing what to do with the money, all that kind of stuff is is a bit of a bit of a challenge and when you haven’t taken really much investment, and then when you you raise, you know, what looks like quite a lot, but actually, if you if you think about what we’re trying to achieve with a million pounds it isn’t that much and that’s where the danger is actually, it’s a everything moves a lot faster with investment, and you have to understand what that means for the economics of the business, your income versus outgoings, your salary bill each month, your income targets they, if they don’t get met, then you have to be really clear about what you’re doing about it and responsive to making sure that you have the answers. Because all of the answers need time to get to, and time to implement and execute.

Yanto Barker 29.48
And that’s, I think, the main hurdle that a lot of businesses that raise money for the first time fall over on, they don’t realise that you probably are going to need more money as well. And you have to understand the size of the business you’re trying to create before it becomes either breakeven or profitable. And they’re all very fluid, those those forecasts and you have to be very, very on top of your numbers, very, very on top of your expenses and ready to make some strong decisions very quickly. And I think yeah, we I’ve definitely been very aware of that and made sure that I’m always very close to the numbers, fully clear on what our targets are, and if we’re hitting them, and if we’re not hitting them what that means and how we have to respond to it. So yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s a, it’s a good thing to have lots of investors, we’ve actually only got 17. In our in direct answer to your question, we really got 17 direct shareholders, including my original seed investors of the 344. I think you mentioned I thought it was 335 or something. But yeah, that’s the that’s the number. They’re all very helpful. They often send me links to interesting articles that are relevant in my space. And equally, you know, very strong advocates of the brand. Quite quite a few of them are active cyclists. And I manage them very, you know, carefully in that I give them the right information at the right time. I respect them all. I make sure that, you know, they’re informed of the decisions that we’re making the big stuff and when I need their sign off, which I do occasionally, you know, I give them a heads up that it’s coming and inform them of the context of why I’m making that decision, and the timings and requirements from their side so as they’re clear on what their contribution needs to be, and if they need to get back to me within a certain timeframe, they know what that is. And they definitely appreciate that. And that helps keep the investor relations really slick.

Carlton Reid
So a second ago, you said that, even though you’ve raised a million pounds, you’re going to need more, so then talk about Puma Private Equity. So that raised £2.35 million from them, yeah?

Yanto Barker
So that’s where Puma come in. And quite quickly after raising the Crowdube I mean, I have financial consultants who helped us put our pitch together for Crowdcube. And I immediately after the completion of Crowdcube, kept them on a retainer because there are another set of eyes on the the numbers, there are another set of eyes on the trajectory of the business. And, you know, my job as founder and CEO is to make sure that I source the resources that this business needs to deliver its targets or its potential. And one of those is money. The other is, you know, the right people and expertise, and the other other projects and partnerships that we set up to, you know, really expand the business and get our names out there. So I kept my financial consultants on a retainer immediately after Crowdcube, because I could see the trajectory that we were going on, and it was likely that we were going to need more money. So I pre planned that in my, in my actions and kept them on board. And that’s exactly what happened. But you know, I think it shouldn’t be seen as a negative that we needed more money. What I was doing was I was negotiating really strong partnerships that need, you know, finance and investment to fulfil them. Because if you’ve got a really, really big strong partnership, but you can’t activate it, then it’s not really worth its full potential. And you’re wasting the money if you don’t join up all the dots to connect that partnership to the business and in turn to increase in sales. So I’m very, very black and white around what we do has to deliver growth in turnover. And if I can’t see that in a really obvious way, then either failing or it’s either failing in its contribution to the business.

Carlton Reid
So when was Puma brought on board?

Yanto Barker 33.36
Puma, we started talking to them in March, April 2018. And they completed their first tranche, so they actually committed to raise more money. They and they divided it into two tranches, so tranche one was October 2018. And tranche two was just this October just gone. And both for £2.35 and £2.5 million. So we’ve raised quite a lot of money now. And I think that gives us a really strong platform to push [[[[[COUGH]]]] continue to push up into our potential for the next coming the next couple of years. And I combine that with the partnerships that I’ve signed. for next year are also very strong. They very much warrant the investment, they very much warrant Puma’s financial contribution to us to be able to deliver those partnerships to their full potential and in turn allows as a business to reach our full potential in the cycling apparel market globally.

Yanto Barker
So when you said 2.5 million, was that a top-up to 2.5 million or was that plus 2.5 million?

Yanto Barker
No 2.35 million plus 2.5.

Carlton Reid
Right so they’ve got 5 million basicallyso what’s what’s the equity they’ve got? {{{{COUGH}}}}

Yanto Barker
Good question. I haven’t got those numbers of top my head but they raised on pre money valuation of tranche one of 5 million I think, so their 2.35 was

Yanto Barker
20 something percent, and then our pre money valuation for tranche two was based on a turnover metric 2.5 times our turnover. So I think our pre money was nine, just under eight and a half million. So the 2.5 and 8 and a half million valuation. So it puts us about 10 and a half million [pounds] now valuation, post completion of tranche two.

Carlton Reid
Now when I look at that Crowdcube video, yeah, it’s got it’s got you on there very nice. But it’s also got all of the headlines with you know, the Financial Times and with The Times and stuff saying how cycling is growing and you know, cycling is a new golf, all that kind of stuff, which was probably true at that time. I think they were lagging a little bit behind the curve. But that isn’t the case now. I mean, cycling has absolutely gone into a quite a bit of a trough. So how do your investors … how are you coping with that? Quite apart from your investors, how are you coping with that trough?

Yanto Barker
It’s a really good question and I actually was asked this recently as part of a Rapha article from The Times.because that journalist quoted the same kind of stat, and I don’t disagree with it. But actually from a trading point of view, I mean, if you’re going to try and win, you have to try and win against everybody, not just the first couple of people that you think are your competition. And what I mean by that is, when there’s a lot of excitement in the market, and it’s growing, there are a lot of people trying to service that excitement. So there are a lot of new businesses coming in, there are a lot of people thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to jump on that bandwagon’. And ‘I’m gonna, I’m gonna make my fortune in that industry, because it’s exciting and it’s growing.’ And we’re, you know, we’re all sort of running on the back of the success of the GB cycling team in the Olympics and World Championships over the last 10 years. So actually, it gets very fragmented the market and as a brand, like we are now at the size we are you end up competing with lots of very small businesses. And this is the same for all the big established brands, they’re competing with lots of very small businesses, who are selling quite as a limited amount of product to their direct network, people they know, friends of friends, you know, but it doesn’t really expand much more than that, because they don’t have a proper marketing budget. They don’t have proper marketing and sales planning. And they don’t have the money to reach a wider audience of people to sell beyond their direct network. Now, when you get to a stage like this, and we are definitely in as you know, there’s a bit of a dip, but equally, I don’t think it’s a dip. I think it’s a slow down of acceleration. And I think it causes a lot of problems for brands that haven’t established a strong foothold with an ability to talk to a wide audience on a sustainable basis. And we’re past that now. So actually, what it what it turns out for us to happen is there’s a consolidation process and now I’m competing much more back to Castelli, Assos, Rapha, instead of the literally infinite number of very, very small brands trying to get a foothold in the apparel market by turning over £100,000, £150,000 to their friends, which is possible, which is what I did at the very beginning. And you end up having to compete in a very fragmented market. So it’s not, I don’t think it actually changes our need to be strong as a brand, have a far-reaching marketing message with a very clear link to why we are better, why we are good and why you want to buy Le Col cycling clothing. It’s just happening now in a slightly more consolidated market, if that makes sense

Carlton Reid
Do you think Puma are surprised at that? I mean, I’ve described as a trough you described it as a deceleration. Either one of those. Do you think they’re surprised at what’s happened with cycling?

Yanto Barker
I mean I’m not surprised, and in some ways it makes it a little bit easier, you know, because you’ve got less people to worry about. And, you know, I think if you can ride out, I think times like this, and if they are deceleration or a trough, I don’t mind You know, it’s only my opinion. I could be right, you could be right, I don’t mind. They really test the business. And actually, I’ve always run my business like it has to be optimum all the time. So that actually doesn’t make any difference. If it’s a decleration, a trough or a real boom phase in the market, it doesn’t make a difference because you have to run best practices all the time. And if you’re winning customers and market share, you know, we’ve grown 150% between last year and this year and 200%, between the year before and 2018. So actually, we’ve proven with those performances, those turnover performances, that we can win and achieve very strong growth in what anyone might describe as either a deceleration or a trough, and I intend that to continue because ultimately you know I’m trying to win customers off Rapha, Castelli, Assos, Santini, Attaquer, MAAP, you know all those brands, I just need to win a little bit, just a few percent of their customers and we grow another 150 to 200% next year. That’s exactly where our intentions are.

Carlton Reid
So you you’re always going to be you’re always be focused on premium, you’re not talking about bringing in lower levels of Le Col?

Yanto Barker
So I think that’s actually a good question for me to be able to answer like this: yes, the brand is premium because I am quite a perfectionist and an expert at cycling to know how to spec either a jersey, shorts, jacket, tights in a really quality way so you get value for money and it is at a high level, but I’m not a snob, I’m not a cycling snob. I’ve been involved in cycling since I was a junior before junior and I’ve come through every level of cycling on my own racing career, and I’ve, I’m now you know, a fairly affluent business owner, but still active keen cyclist with a passion for the sport just as much as it was when I was 17. So I really want the brand to be perceived as not snobby, not too premium, but quality. But equally, we do try and generate product development. That means we have the second tier and the third tier of price point that is more affordable. We try and deliver as much value and quality into those price points as we can within the margins that we have to work to. And ultimately, you know, if you start with our lowest level product, you should still feel positive about it. And you know, your aspiration is to work up into the higher quality products, but we embrace all cyclists at all levels. You know, there are cyclists in my office who ride to work only, and they’ve only just worn Lycra for the first time this year, yet they work for a cycling brand and you know, they love wearing the products as well as someone like my friend of mine like Jeremy Hunt, who’s ex Team Sky, ex-GB, professional for 19 years at the highest level at World Tour living in Australia and wears the product almost every day, you know, those are the ranges of cyclists that that are embraced by the brand and I think that’s really really important.

Yanto Barker
I think if I was going to use the simplest way to describe who Le Col is, is it’s genuine. You know, I am a cyclist. I was a cyclist. I left school at 17 to be a cyclist. I put my, you know, excuse the term, but I put my balls on the line to buy a factory to service my desire and ambition to create the best product, and I needed control of my manufacturing to be able to do that to the highest degree. And I am CEO and founder currently running the business er, you know, other turnover we’ve grown to and adapting my skill sets to what’s required of me every single day. And that’s exactly what I did in my own cycling career. And that’s exactly what I value in, in qualities of all sorts of different areas is about being genuine, being honest and having integrity and wanting the best for all of our customers. You know, that is central to when I come into the office, what am I thinking how can I deliver the value that I need to deliver to this business? So I would really be upset if people felt like it was snobby or premium in a way that was exclusive. Excluding sorry. So we are exclusive mainly ecause of a price point, but but we’re not excluding. And genuinely if you have any reader has a passion for cycling, then they share that passion with me and we have something in common. And I think that’s really a nice way to look at it.

Carlton Reid
US market you went in with was it like a separate company that that was taken on board on in 2015? Like a distributor, how did you get into the US market?

Yanto Barker 44.31
The US market started as connection on Linkedin of a distributor who felt like they could represent the brand and service the US market.

Yanto Barker
It was conversation that went on, and we went through a lot of detail and I was convinced that he had a network big enough and was able to do what he said. And so we basically funded an expansion plan in to the us, we did it through a subsidiary, so a US based company that was owned fully by the Le Col limited, UK company. And we began trading with on a distributor retail model into the US because we were still very small in terms of marketing spend from head office, and so we weren’t really generating reach to an audience internationally like we are now. And I felt like the distributor model was probably the right way to start and that would get caught up with by the direct to consumer model and route to market a little bit later, which which we’re doing more of now. It turned out, I my character judgement was off on the person, the individual that I backed to service that department. We also under under invested into the territory and underestimated the size of the US in terms of geographical size, and simply for a travel budget to get around the country to see all tour retailers, you probably need about $50,000 a year. And we just weren’t at a level to be able to sustain that without generating a higher level of sales from those retailers. And so we did the first year, but I had to stop and consolidate our expansion plan through a more direct to consumer model after about 18 months of trying to make that work in the US, it’s a bit of a scar to be honest, of one of my decisions that didn’t work. And you know, we unfortunately did waste a fair bit of money trying to get that up off the ground.

Carlton Reid
Yeah, fair few UK bike brands have had very similar story it’s just it’s a tough nut to crack. Two very different halves of the country two different coasts. So now you no longer have that kind of distribution in the US. It’s basically your website.

Yanto Barker
Yes.

Carlton Reid
Okay. So what is your expansion plans then? Is that online? Brick and mortar? Where do you you see there?

Yanto Barker
Yeah, so you saw the winding up of the US subsidiary in terms of it trading was happening in parallel to the Crowdcube raise in terms of timings and the hiring of Simon Creasey as a marketing director to build a stronger backbone to the business which is the direct to consumer market. So we’ve since really backed that channel, and grown as a proportion of sales, the direct to consumer volume of sales considerably across more so than the other departments so custom as a channel and retail as a channel. So the three main channels customer, we sell them online, and we will continue we have grown considerably on the online it will continue to back that as the main channel of income for the business for the foreseeable future, but that is not to say, we are not looking at international distribution again, but obviously with a bit more experience and a bit more resource behind the business, plus a lot more recognition internationally, which we’ve done a great job with our marketing over the last couple of years. So we are having conversations with Spanish distributors, Australian, we have an Australian distributor which has been up and running for the last couple of years and has grown considerably in that time. And like I said, with with a with a lot more experience and a lot more resource, we’re able to actually do justice to all those conversations.

Carlton Reid
And how do you cope — and this is absolutely the same for all online brands, certainly, clothing — is just it’s very, very difficult to sell clothing online because of the sizing issues. So you’re going to get an awful lot of returns. So how do you cope with with the demands there?

Yanto Barker
That’s a good question and it sizing is one of the most scruffy subjects I can think of and I explain what I mean by scruffy. Every single person has a slightly different shape body. And that’s just the fact that the medium is not a medium a medium is like six foot one or five foot nine, but one is, you know, nine stone, one is 11 stone, and you know, there could be three or four inches difference in height. Plus, we all have slightly different expectations of preference around what we want a product to feel like. And, and those are all things that need aligning for a brand to connect to the customer in the way that the customer is either expecting or wanting. And a lot of that is also down to the message.

Yanto Barker 49.47
So the brand has to be very, very clear and obvious about what you’re getting in terms of size and fit to make sure that the customers’ expectations align with what they will receive in the post. So we do have retailers, we don’t have a huge number. But we’ve found a way to connect to that consumer with the message that means actually, our returns are very, very low. So in terms of returns, because they’re not satisfied, they’re extremely low. Returns for exchange of size are vary between product and you know, worst it’s 15 to 20%. And on really good core products, it’s as low as 2 or 3%. So actually, those sort of numbers we can we can manage with and we could definitely service a very quick turnaround to exchange sizing for customers who didn’t quite get to the right size first time.

Carlton Reid
But then once you’ve got your in inverted commas, your Le Col size, you then know what to order from then on or does it go across the different categories and you’re you’re still going to have different sizes across the different categories?

Yanto Barker
Yeah, so basically, yeah, so we do. So basically, once you got your Le Col sizing dialled in for what you like and what you want, then yes, absolutely that’s easier for the return customer to know what they should get. I designed every product to mean that if you’re a size medium jersey, you should also be a size medium long sleeve and jacket, and gilet and under-vest, they should all be the same size. That’s not to say that everybody is but that’s how they’ve been designed. That’s taking into consideration there are race fit pro jerseys and there are relaxed fit luxury jerseys. You should be the same size in each but it will feel different. Now not everybody fully gets what that means and what that feels like. So sometimes they get the pro jersey and they want to size up because they wanted to feel like their luxury jersey. But there’s been a very purposeful design process and sizing process that means that really you are the same size. So an example of this would be someone in front of me puts on a jersey, zips it up and says, ‘oh, it doesn’t fit.’ And I say what you mean it doesn’t fit? They say ‘it’s too small’ and I’m like, it’s not too small you’ve got it on, and you’ve zipped it up. So it fits. And they say, ‘yeah, but what do I look like?’ And I say to them, you look aero, which is exactly what that jersey was designed for. And they say, ‘but I’m too big for this,’ and I’m like, but that’s your concept. That’s your own body concept. That’s not that’s not the product. So that’s just a classic interaction of the way I would describe how the jersey was supposed to fit and how someone, a customer of less experience would say, oh, it doesn’t feel right. And I’m like, well, you know, tight is aero, and that jersey is a pro jersey, they’re supposed to be aero.

Unknown Speaker
Mm hmm. {{{{{OUT}}}

Carlton Reid
Do you suffer from counterfeiting?

Yanto Barker
Not really, yes, in that there are counterfeit products out there. But we own our own factory so I know there are absolutely no grey products in the world, as in gone to one territory and then actually get transferred to the other through a no buyback from someone else to someone else. There are a few Chinese products on the market but in terms of volume and in terms of risk to the business it’s extremely small.

Carlton Reid
So you don’t take a proactive approach and trying to close them down with, you know, the standard solicitors that are out there doing that in the bike industry.

Yanto Barker
You’re talking about alibaba.com. And it’s something it’s so small, it’s almost almost not worth the time to even send the letter.

Carlton Reid
Because I’ve talked to some brands who, while they want to combat it also kind of semi pleased in that ‘well, if we’re being counterfeited, it must mean we have some brand recognition out there above and beyond what we think we’ve got.’

Yanto Barker
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s easy to see both sides to that, but ultimately you don’t want it to happen. But you know if, like I know Rapha have had some issues with counterfeit, I was with one of the founders of Rapha on a photoshoot, a separate photo shoot, not Le Col, not Rapha. And he was talking about someone he saw with a Rapha jersey on that wasn’t the right colourway, as in the bands didn’t match, you know, the embroidery logo. And I think it turned out this is just hearsay but this is an example they obviously don’t own their own manufacturing. So they use suppliers, and the supplier had accidentally made, you know, a couple hundred jerseys in the wrong colourway. And then obviously they wouldn’t be accepted, but he’s not going to waste the stock of a brand that’s got such a strong, you know, recognition in the cycling industry. So they were getting sold on eBay for 25 quid You know, that’s something that is a challenge if you’re using suppliers, but again, it’s a lot tighter when you own your own manufacturing because I can control that and police that much more closely.

Carlton Reid
And this is gonna be a sort of a double edged question here but was life better as an athlete, or as a running a business, but of course you do, it’s double edged because you did it both at the same time, you can actually see both sides of it at exactly the same time.

Yanto Barker 55.05
No one’s ever asked me that question before. So you’re the first, well done.

Yanto Barker
It is a difficult one to answer. So really keeping it simple. When people ask me, do I miss racing? My answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ If they say, do you want to go back and do it again, it’s a resounding no. So it’s a bit of a conflict inside me when it comes to my career. Now, I also didn’t get paid very much in my racing career, not entirely because I wasn’t good enough, but there’s a little bit of politics and a little bit of, you know, wrong place, wrong time kind of thing. I mean, I lived off my racing career for a long time, but I wasn’t affluent. And, you know, my business has provided me, or the business that I’ve built, has provided me a much better opportunity to make more money if I can keep doing a good job at it. So while it’s much more complex to run a business, because being an athlete is very singular, it’s, literally about you and your performance and your psychology and your physical performance as opposed to in the office, I’m thinking about every other person and their psychology, their, you know, satisfaction, their contribution to the business, the way they interact with each other, making sure that, you know, everyone gets on and everyone’s clear about what we’re trying to deliver. It’s very, not me. And actually, the business started to grow and we started to employ people at the same time as I started to have kids. And not that I look at my employees as kids, but, you know, there is a sense of responsibility to every employee, it’s my job to make a positive working environment. It’s my job to supply all the resources that every single individual that works for Le Col needs to do their job properly. And if I don’t do that, they can only do as well as the ingredients that I give them. So I do take that very seriously and actually it is a lot like having kids in the, you know, you’re looking out for them, you can’t do it for them but you obviously work your hardest to give them everything they need to be able to do the best job they can. You know, I view parenting in a similar way.

Carlton Reid
And is your mum happy that you took that decision to forego that 30 quid family credit?

Yanto Barker
Yeh, think so, I haven’t actually asked her directly. I mean, I’m laughing about it. But my mum is an interesting character in combination in comparison to me because I’m one of the most driven and ambitious people I’ve ever come across. I’ve met a few of me, but I’m one of the absolute highest. And I kind of make the caveat that my, my standard as a cyclist as a competitor wasn’t represented by my level of commitment and ambition. It was you know, the body I’m born into is only as good as it is kind of thing. So I didn’t win the Tour de France like Bradley [Wiggins] and you know, I’ve not won 30 stages of the Tour, like Cav [Mark Cavendish]. But I don’t believe they are more keen and more committed to achieve their results than I was. So my mum is like the opposite of that. She’s as as unambitious as I as I am. And she’s as undriven as I am. So she would never have a judgement about whether I made the right or wrong decision. She just wants me to be happy.

Carlton Reid
That’s a lovely place to end, I would say Yanto. Thank you very much.

Carlton Reid 58.23
And that was Yanto Barker, the founder and CEO of Le Col cycle clothing. Links to Le Col and more can be found on the hyphen spokesmen.com

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast is brought to you in association with Jenson USA.

The next episode will be another head to head interview. I’ll be chatting with my son Josh, who picked up a gravel bike from the Giant factory in Shanghai, China, and has ridden it solo back to the UK. Well, at the moment he’s in the Netherlands and I will be joining him there next week so we can ride back together. The plan is to meet at Giant’s EU HQ in Lelystad and then to ride to the port of Amsterdam for the DFDS ferry back to Newcastle. I’m really looking forward to seeing Josh and finding out more about his many adventures. With a fair wind, that show should be out in the first week of December, meanwhile get out there and ride.

November 12, 2019 / / Blog

Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

Riding a Brompton Along A Belgian Bike Path In Germany

Tuesday 12th November 2019

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS:

Vitali Vitaliev, author of “Passport to Enclavia”, London.

Gilbert Perrin, technical lead, Chemins du Rail, Brussels.

Yes, the Vennbahn rail trail is a long, thin stretch of Belgium inside Germany!

TOPIC: Cycling along the 128-kilometre Vennbahn rail trail in Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Part of the Vennbahn is a ten-metre-wide, 25-kilometre-long part of Belgium inside Germany. Bonkers!

I travelled to the trail by Brompton folding bike via the DFDS ferry at North Shields and then a series of trains to Aachen in Germany. An article about this journey will be in The Guardian soon.

Thanks to @Revchips for sending me a link about this very odd bike trail. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to ride on a bicycle-based bogie on the Rail Bike attraction. Next time.

Vennbahn border stone — the other side has the letter “D”

TRANSCRIPT:

Carlton Reid 0:20
This is a cycling podcast so why start with audio of steam trains? It’s all to do with a very long sausage.

Carlton Reid 0:31
I’m Carlton Reid and in this episode of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast brought to you in association with Jenson USA I’m on the road again. Well, bike path. A Belgian bike path. In Germany.

Vitali Vitaliev 1:01
It’s very interesting to see what satnav does, satnav goes absolutely crazy, the flags

Vitali Vitaliev 1:05
keep popping up. That’s Belgium, that’s Belgium.

Carlton Reid 1:08
That was Ukrainian-born journalist Vitali Vitaliev, an expert on enclaves, those bizarre bits of countries that are fully enclosed by other countries. And here’s Brussels-based Gilbert Perrin.

Gilbert Perrin 1:23
Sometimes you are in Belgium, except on the left. It’s Germany. Sometimes you are in Belgium, but the street is German. It changes 11 times along the route.

Carlton Reid 1:34
Both Gilbert and Vitali were talking about a ten-metre-wide Belgian sausage squirming for 25 kilometres through Germany. It’s a bizarre yet unmarked part of the historically-important fennbahn trail. I love mixing quirky history with my riding so last month I left Newcastle in strong Autumn sunshine, got on a big boat and had a little adventure …

Carlton Reid 2:07
So I’ve arrived in Amsterdam, and I travelled on the DFDS ferry from Newcastle overnight, absolute fantastic trip. Gourmet food actually, almost from the Tyne across the North Sea, looking out the window fantastic. And of course I can see lots of bikes here in Amsterdam. I am outside the central station, and I am going to get a train from here to Boxtel and then a bus from Boxtel to Eindhoven and from Eindhoven I got another train and I go to

Carlton Reid 2:38
Heelen, and then from here and

Carlton Reid 2:39
I might get another train, couldn’t buy a ticket to that, or I shall get the bus. No I shan’t. I’ll get my bike. I’ll take my folding bike. I’ll just unfold my Brompton and then I’ll ride from Heelen to Aachen, which will then be the start of the Vennbahn trail.

Carlton Reid 3:04
The full Vennbahn trail is 128 kilometres long but most of those who ride along it probably don’t know that a 25 kilometre stretch that they think is in Germany is actually in Belgium. It isn’t Belgian because of bikes, it’s because of trains. The Vennbahn trail is the former Vennbahn railway, a minerals line built by Prussia in the 1880s but ceded to Belgium after the First World War … to the victors, the spoils. I’ll let Gilbert Perrin explain some of the history. (I should also add that Gilbert was one of the prime movers behind turning the partly derelict line into a long-distance rail trail.)

Gilbert Perrin 3:54
it was built by the German Empire at that time. And then after the Versailles Treaty after World War One they part of this region became Belgian. So the Belgian community, present Belgian community. Part of it remained in Germany, but the railway was Belgian even across Germany. So it’s it’s very strange. It’s a kind of corridor, Belgian corridors through in some places through the German territory and what is very funny is that the border changes 11 times along the route. So sometimes both the ground is it totally in Belgium or totally in Germany except the railway. So if you are on the Vennbahn you are in Belgium, but on the left on the right, you’re in Germany. Yeah, sometimes you are in Belgium except or the left it’s Germany. Sometimes you are in Belgium but the street is German. It changes 11 times along the route.

Carlton Reid 4:59
This switching of borders was once very obvious, with barriers, border guards, and checks. For locals, back in the day, just getting to the shops or to school meant crossing international borders twice in just a few metres. Enclaves are bizarre , as Vitali explained in his book Passport to Enclavia.

Vitali Vitaliev 5:22
But on both sides it’s all surrounded by Germany you know in the places of enclaves so that’s that’s pretty bizarre situation and that’s that’s one of the attractions if you don’t know you know you have to find out the little signs.

Carlton Reid 5:36
And quite literally, those little signs include border marker stones, place there in the 1920s and which, on one side have the letter D for Deutchland. On the other the letter B for Belgie. The stones can be found in the undergrowth five metres away from the bike trail, marking where the board was placed by international commissioners in 1921 and where technically, it still is, but don’t try and find this 10 metre wide Belgian sausage with Apple Maps. The 25 kilometre long bit of Belgium inside Germany doesn’t exist, according to Tim Cook and crew, but it’s there on Google Maps in all of its glory. Maybe Apple just doesn’t like enclaves? They can be pretty confusing on the ground, on maps, and in terminology. For starters, depending on where you’re looking from, enclaves can also be exclaves. Here’s Vitali.

Vitali Vitaliev 6:41
To me enclaves is the same patch of land as an exclave. It depends which countries use them – for example, just try to give you an example. So, there is a German enclave on sides to Switzerland — Busingen, a German village totally surrounded by Switzerland. So, for Germany, it is an exclave but for Switzerland it’s an enclave. That’s that’s how I define it, you know, it depends whether it’s viewed from the mother country, or the host country.

Carlton Reid 7:15
Despite the fact it’s an enclave — er, or exclave — the Belgian sausage, that 25 kilometer stretch of the Vennbahn trail, isn’t marketed as long, thin stretch on one country inside another. Apart from the period marker stones, set off to the side and which only make sense if you know what to look for, and why you’re looking, there’s nothing on the ground to flag the fact you’re riding through a ten-metre-wide country. The Vennbahn trail starts in Charlemagne’s capital city of Aachen, in Germany, crosses over to Belgium, and ends in northern Luxembourg. It’s the longest rail trail in Europe. The Belgium-in-Germany part of the trail starts a little north of the German town of Roetgen which, incidentally, was where the first allied troops entered Germany in the Second World War. The Vennbahn railway was of major strategic importance back then with many of its bridges blown up by German sappers as the Wehrmacht retreated. In Roetgen, the Vennbahn crosses the road from Aachen, with trail users negotiating a dog-leg road crossing to get from one side of the trail to the other. Do so and you stay in Belgium, but divert a few metres and you cross into Germany. On a bend in the road, motorists are in Germany one moment, Belgium when they reach the crossing point of the Vennbhan, and Germany again a second or so later. I didn’t linger in Roetgen because I was racing against the light to reach medieval Monschau, reached by a dirt track down from the trail. It was dark by the time I got there, and only had a look around while trying to find my hotel. And I was up again early the next morning, when it was still dark.

Carlton Reid 9:06
I’m in the little mediaeval town of Monschau, you can hear the river in the background and I haven’t actually seen this place in daylight yet, because I got here late last night going on the Vennbahn trail and I’m going up again to the Vennbahn trail to see the Rail Bike operation, which is like bogies with bikes on that you go about 7 kilometres and you pedal along. And that’s part of the Vennbahn trail system, although it does kind of go a bit away from the actual old railway trail, but Monschau is in Germany. And of course where I’m going up the top of the hill there

Carlton Reid 9:47
is in Belgium, that 25 kilometre

Carlton Reid 9:50
Belgian sausage inside,

Carlton Reid 9:54
Germany

Carlton Reid 9:56
I’m now climbing to the Vennbahn trail via a little, well it’s no longer cobbled, it was cobbled in Monschau. Then there was a bit of tarmac. And now it’s back on to dirt, following a river, up through some woodland up onto the hill, which is where the Vennbahn trail takes over again. I was heading for the former station at Kalterherberg, which as well as having a train carriage cafe, hires four seater rail bikes for a seven kilometre pedal along the rails to a deadend and back. The original Vennbahn line was a double track affair, and along much of the trail, the redundant rails are still in place, some of them possibly waiting for the line to be resurrected. The rail bike place had yet to open for the day when I passed, but according to Gilbert Perrin, it attracts customers year round

Gilbert Perrin 10:48
Because it was a double track it was possible to have the the rail bike just behind the Greenway or the Greenway beside the railway, I had a meeting with the Rail Bike owner, and he was afraid of having a greenway along the rail bike. Because he said, nobody will come for the rail bike, they will all come with their bicycles, and they will forget us. And finally I went back two years after, and he said, Oh, it’s very nice because they come with a bike. They stop. They use the rail bike, they come back and they take their bike again to go on.

Carlton Reid 11:27
Like many other rail trails around the world, the Vennbahn boosts the nearby tourism-related business. For instance, annual occupancy rates in local hotels increased by a fifth soon after the Vennbahn trail opened in 2013.

Gilbert Perrin 11:41
It was really abandoned almost everywhere except one section, who was used as tourist steam historical museum railway. But after that the steam runway stopped because it was too expensive to renew the track. And then the Vennbahn was almost totally abandoned, except some short sections, and the director of tourist resources of our German community said we should do something we organised a tour with our association to show the potential of one of the sections and the local press was there and they were very interested — it’s around 2004 or something like that. And, and the press was present and they said, yeah, it’s impossible to leave this abandoned as it is now etc, etc. And the Minister for tourism of the German community read this in the newspapers, and he said, we have to have a meeting with you, you have to explain what you can do. And we made the first feasibility study for one of the sections between Waimes and Saint Vith. And we made a feasibility study. And then he had some money to help the municipality to build the first section as a greenway. About 17 kilometres was the very beginning. And after that, all the regions said yeah, we we would we need this greenway., we also need a greenway.And after that, it was a very important project with many people with a lot of money coming from Europe and from the partners.

Carlton Reid 12:52
And here’s Vitali again.

Vitali Vitaliev 13:43
You know, I think it’s great, it’s a great story, and it tells you a lot about Europe as well, if you kind of look deeper into it, so good that they tried to preserve it.

Carlton Reid 13:54
I agree, it’s a great story, a great rail trail and I’ll be back to do the full 128 kilometres at some point. I turned around at Kalterherberg and rode back to Aachen so I could catch a series of trains to Amsterdam and the ferry home …. And I got to Amsterdam from travelling from Newcastle, and I travelled from Newcastle on – I’m sure you can probably hear this – on a very loud ship DFDS ferry from Newcastle to emerged in, in in Amsterdam. And it was a fantastic crossing. I’ve got to say if you can get across the North Sea this is a brilliant way of getting across – and I had a restaurant meal. Fantastic to sit there in the evening. And instead of a train journey where the country’s whizzing by,

Carlton Reid 14:49
Details about the Vennbahn trail and how I got there can be found on the show notes at the-spokesmen.com There will be an article about my fennbahn trip in The Guardian soon. This was show 229 of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast released on Tuesday 12th November 2019. Here’s my co-host David with a short message from our show sponsor.

David Bernstein 15:16
Hey, Carlton, thanks so much. And it’s it’s always my pleasure to talk about our advertiser. This is a long time loyal advertiser. It’s Jenson, USA at Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. I’ve been telling you for years now years, that Jenson is the place where you can get a great selection of every kind of product that you need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices and what really sets them apart – because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there -but what really sets them apart is their unbelievable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who ride at lunch who go out on group rides after work because they just enjoy cycling so much. And, and so you know that when you call, you’ll be talking to somebody who has knowledge of the products that you’re calling about. If you’re looking for a new bike, whether it’s a mountain bike, a road bike, a gravel bike, a fat bike, what are you looking for? Go ahead and check them out. Jenson USA. They are the place where you will find everything you need for your cycling lifestyle. It’s Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. We thank them so much for their support, and we thank you for supporting Jenson USA. Alright Carlton, let’s get back to the show.

Carlton Reid 16:38
Thanks, David. Oh, and thanks also, to Twitter’s @Revchips for sending me a link about the Vennbahn trail which by the way is Vennbarn, as in Vennbarn, it means it means fen way or venn way in German, but it’s pronounced with an F. Anyway, that’s a wrap for today’s show. And like the Gino Bartali and cycling-in-Cambrils stories on the previous episode, today’s show was more engineered than the usual roundtable ramblings.

Carlton Reid 17:13
If you like this, make sure to give the show a shout out on our podcast or leave a comment on the show notes at the-spokesmen.com and we’ll do more of them. However, the next few episodes will be one on one interviews starting with Yanto Barker,

Carlton Reid 17:32
founder of the high-end cycle clothing brand Le Col. That’ll be out in a week or so.

Carlton Reid 17:38
Meanwhile. get out there and ride!

October 29, 2019 / / Blog

Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

Tuesday 29th October 2019

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

Cycling club fam trip day one

GUESTS: Cycling club secretaries from Svarta Haesten cycling club, Lecarrow Lazers of Ireland, University of Bristol Cycling Club, and Redford and District Cycling Club recorded out on the road in Costa Dorada or at the Cambrils Sport Village.

Jaume Rue of Cycling Costa Daurada.

Music is Mussara by Carles Ribot.

+++

The spectacular view over Siurana

TRANSCRIPT

Carlton Reid 0:39
That croaking came from a large reed-covered pond beside a tumbledown church in the ghost village of La Massara in the high hills of Catalunya, 55 kilometres from the seaside resort of Cambrils, and 1000 metres above the Costa Dorada … Cataluyna’s gold coast. The music is by Catalan musician Carles Ribot, from his spooked-out folk-rock album Massara.

The tumbledown church at the abandoned village of La Mussara. The frogs are in those reeds. Somewhere.

I’m Carlton Reid and in this episode of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast, brought to you in Assocation with Jenson USA , I’ve not just been pointing my microphone at frogs, I’ve also recorded club cyclists, breathing heavily as they climbed on a short fam trip to Spain. Two members from each of 14 clubs were invited out here in mid-October by the holiday company Cycling Costa Daurada based out of the Cambrils Sport Village, an hour south west of Barcelona. When the club cyclists went home I stuck around and did some solo exploring, riding an Argon 18 on some spectacular hair-pin bends to get to the ghost village I mentioned at the top of the show. I had La Massara to myself, except for those croaking frogs. The village was abandoned in the 1960s and is believed by some to be not only haunted, but also other-worldly. There are multiple reports of people disappearing from the locale in mysterious circumstances, and not only during those times when fog bubbles up out of nowhere. Close to the entrance to the village there’s a boulder which local legend says is a portal into a parallel universe. It’s not the only legendary place I visited last week in this beautiful part of the world. On the day after somehow surviving the ghosts, ghoulies and potty portals I rode up another serpentine climb to reach the fairytale fortress village of Siurana. Again, I had the place to myself. That’s the thing about this part of Spain in the off-season: it’s so incredibly quiet. It’s still warm and sunny, but there are only 9,000 people living in the whole of the UNESCO world heritage region of Priorat. The roads are wide and butter smooth, but there are very few cars to spoil the party, or the view. And even when motorists do pass you they make sure to leave plenty of space, thanks in part to Spain’s 1.5 metre passing law, signs for which are peppered along the roadside.

David Berling 3:24
This is a dream come true for me and Anders because we never been on climbs like these. We thought climbing were short and hard, but this is this is the best.

Anders Madin climbing to the “Hermitage of the Mother of God of the Road”

Carlton Reid 3:33
That was David Berling from the Svarta Haesten cycling club of Stockholm in Sweden. He was on this fam trip with his bushy bearded buddy Anders Madin. The club has 28 mostly male members, and I asked David how many of them would likely come on a winter or spring trip to the Cambrils Sport Village. Anders also explained why the Costa Dorada sunshine would be so enticing to shivering Swedes.

David Berling 4:02
I think probably like seven or eight or and maybe they a few of us will bring our families because we that kind of come. So this is said this would work pretty well with the with the family type of riding that we do.

Carlton Reid 4:16
Yeah, kids can stay back in the pool. Everybody’s happy. Yeah,

Carlton Reid 4:20
yeah. And then mum and dad can go

Carlton Reid 4:23
riding up the hill.

Carlton Reid 4:26
And what time of year are you thinking of coming?

Anders Madin 4:31
I think would be the beginning of the season, maybe March April, when it’s still snowing, harsh weather in

Unknown Speaker 4:41
Stockholm.

Olly Beresford and Sam Tiller 4:49
I’m Olly Beresford. And I’m Sam Tiller. And we’re from the University of Bristol cycling club. So we’re out here in Spain for a two day tryout session with, with this bike company here. Yeah, we’ve had a really, really nice day today. So the first day is a longer ride about 125 kilometres with some nice climbs, I think we had six in total beautiful gradients really, really nice. So nothing really steep, like we have in Bristol, which is which is good. I definitely prefer the longer shallower stuff. But I know some people prefer it the other way around.

Carlton Reid 5:27
And then no traffic because we were going down those descents and we were we were lapsing in the fact that we were kind of going on the wrong side of the road, because we hadn’t seen any cars. So we’re just naturally just drifting across and taking the whole word for the ride. And that’s amazing to have.

Olly Beresford 5:43
While I was at I was we were talking to each other on the way back into Cambrils where we’re staying. Just saying that imagine if you had 25 people in a group in Britain like that would just be chaos on the

Olly Beresford 5:54
roads like people just trying to storm past you, like crashing into people. So I mean by that is I mean a part of Spain really and even large parts of France, the roads much quieter than they have in the UK. Just definitely reasons come see the roads

Carlton Reid 6:10
I recorded Olly and Sam in the sport village, but I also recorded riders as as we climbed the local hills. Sorry for a little bit of wind noise here. As I talk with Mary and Ashley, the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of Ireland’s Lecarrow Lazers Cycling Club

Carlton Reid 6:23

Carlton Reid 6:23

Ashley O’Gara 6:26
I am Ashley O’Gara. I am with Lecarrow Lasers cycling club and we’re based in the centre of Ireland, near Athlone. We’re heart of an organised trip where they hope to promote Cambrils to the Irish as a cycling destination. Some of the clubs are coming already, our club hasn’t been, and we’re basically here just trialling it. And as far as last three years, we’ve gone on cycling trips to other destinations such as Wales and Scotland. And we’ve gotten approximately 24, 25 members to come. But unfortunately there’s about six or seven women that’s it.

Unknown Speaker 6:58
Very male dominated.

Carlton Reid 7:00
Ashley was out here in Catalunya with Mary Lennon, the friend who got her into club cycling in the first place.

Mary Lennon 7:08
We have to have a look at costs and viability of getting 20, 25 members out here and all of that kind of stuff. We tried to kind of keep it to two to three days over a weekend so it’s reasonably you know, affordable because some of our members will be couples so and some will still have young kids and stuff like that so you want to make it that it’s accessible to everybody.

Carlton Reid 7:33
Of course the young kids are gonna be kept at home because Ashley was telling me this is gonna be an adult-only event.

Mary Lennon leading the charge

Mary Lennon 7:37
Oh yeah, it’s adults only, but you kind of want to make it that you know everybody can access it. That is not just for people that have loads of time on their hands or loadsof money.

Carlton Reid 7:47
So what’s what’s the things you’re actually looking for on this ride? Are you looking for just rides like this, where there’s lots of variety. Are you looking for, like, extra destinations that non cyclists can go to what, what’s your criteria?

Mary Lennon 7:59
We tend to look for, you know, a nice ride that’s suitable for different abilities. We’d have some very strong members who love hills. We’ve others, like myself, that can get up and have something that’s accessible to different levels and bit of a challenge, but you know, not so, so much that people don’t enjoy it.

Mary Lennon 8:20
And you know, we can tend to have 120 and 130 km cycle rides on our trips.

Roger Pennington 8:25
I am Roger Pennington, and I’m with Redford and District Wheelers cycling club.

Carlton Reid 8:30
Roger, we’re standing here, we’ve had a beautiful lunch after after that few climbs, we’ve got a few climb still to go. Is this convincing you to tell your club, yeah, we’ve got to come here chaps?

Roger Pennington 8:44
Yeah, definitely. With the experience I’ve had, with the smooth roads, lesser traffic on the road and the climbs, I think it compares very well to Mallorca but without the traffic and a massive amount of cyclists that you get in Mallorca.

Carlton Reid 9:00
So Mallorca is where your club has been for a number of years?

Roger Pennington 9:04
Yes, many years, yes.

Carlton Reid 9:06
You’re kind of now you’re used to the roads there and you want somewhere different is that why you’re thinking here?

Roger Pennington 9:12
Yep we want to change because we know the roads so well and it’s the same old every year so we want some where different

Carlton Reid 9:20
The piece I’ll do about this trip on Forbes.com will be headlined something like “Move over Mallorca, Cambrils is Coming.”. The Cambrils Sport Village has recently hosted pro teams such as Bahrain Merida, and Wiggins Le Col, and I think more teams will migrate for their offseason training from Mallorca to the the Costa Dorado. There are 1000 kilometres of lightly traffic roads and plenty of photogenic hairpin bends. Here’s me from the top of one of them.

View over to the “golden coast”

Carlton Reid 9:51
You know those Top Gear kind of roads, sinewy, serpentine? Well, I’m on one of them at the moment. And you probably hear a few cars coming past but there’s not that many cars in this region at all, but they are coming to this particular road. So if you’re familiar with Sa Calobra in Mallorca, places like that, well, it’s another one of those. It’s a really twisty, twisty road and it’s going up to the abandoned village of La Massara. And here comes a car. Now I’ve seen about four cyclists so far this morning, and the car drivers been pretty good, they’re not going crazy. I’ve seen four cyclists, I was the first one up because I got up pretty early. I wanted to get out here. I can see the Mediterranean off in the distance and it’s golden off in the distance there. And of course, that’s why this particular region is called Costa Dorado, which is Gold Coast. And that’s because of the Mediterranean across there which at the moment is looking really, really golden off in the distance and I can see the flat land,

Unknown Speaker 11:01
the Catalan flats. So you got to do about at least

Carlton Reid 11:07
15 miles out from the coast to start coming up hill, and the gradients are really quite gentle, which is why these these these twisty roads are so twisty because in the UK and in other parts of Europe, they would go up the hill, really quite steep angle, but here it’s probably about 6% at most. So it just goes round and round in these wonderful, wonderful hairpin bends. And I’m going to go now to the abandoned village which is a village that apparently is quite popular on Halloween because it’s got a an abandoned church. They abandoned it in the 1960s this particular village, La Mussera. The road the kind of the hill that goes on above it is La Mussara so the village is La Massara. And it’s been abandoned since 1960s. So this graveyard is meant to be quite spooky and people come up here on on Halloween. So let’s go to La Massara and check it out.

Carlton Reid 12:27
La Massara was forcibly abandoned in the early 1960s. Its population had declined from 3 hundred or so in the late 19th century to just 36 in the 1950s, some of whom clearly still yearned for the place because the tiny cemetery — quite the draw on October 31st — has some relatively recent burials. The hardy villagers who lived here way back when were known by others, disparagingly, as “frogs”. The ground wasn’t ever as fertile as further down the mountain, and the high village was infamous for its mists. A regional ditty went:

Hanna Reid 13:04
Mother, if you give me a husband/Don’t give him to me from La Mussara/There is always fog there/And I don’t like the soil.

Carlton Reid 13:14
I captured audio of croaking frogs, but others who visit – at night, when it must be a lot spookier – say they have recorded the sounds of things that go bump in the night. As you’d therefore expect, La Mussara is a hotspot on Halloween. And it was the village’s other worldliness that attracted Catalan musician Carles Ribot to visit. He wrote a folk-rock album about the paranormal paranoia that surrounds the village. I played part of a track from his Mussara album at the top of the show and will close with it, too.

Carlton Reid 13:48
Carles hasn’t recorded an album about the mountain village of Siurana, 30 kilometres from la Mussara but if that place — tiny, high but very much not abandoned — had to be accompanied by a soundtrack I’d use something dramatic and aerial, like say, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. Dramatic because Siurana is spectacular — it was built on the edge of a cliff FFS — and aerial because, did I mention? it’s built on the edge of a cliff.

Carlton Reid 13:48
Here I am sitting on a slab of rock at the periphery of this vertiginous village, just after taking a spectacular drone shot of the place, which you can see on the-spokesmen.com

Carlton Reid 14:34
I can’t quite believe I’m by myself at the moment because I have got this stunning view over an old church looking down into a massive valley with a huge huge rock overhang. This is actually a this is the town of village of Siurana and it’s actually a beacon for rock climbers. So when I was climbing up here this morning, lots of camper vans camped out and they weren’t tourists, they were here for the the climbing around here. So the rock faces are just wonderful. The views are just stunning. And yet there isn’t anybody else up here. I think it’s I’m here quite early. So I left Cambrils in the dark. And I left about half past seven because I wanted to get the boring 10 miles out of the way quickly and get up here in some nice light. And it is beautiful. Here, it’s it’s quite chilly. It’s nice in the sunshine, but it was very cold on some of the descents. But this particular town is literally on the cliff edge. And it was a fortress town, the Moors, the Saracens, the Arabs basically, when they had this part of Spain and this part of Catalonia, this was their last stronghold in the 1150s, or something like that, and they held out to here. And then apparently, there is a hoof print in the rock. No doubt that’s been chiselled in by people wanting to get tourists here, but that’s meant to be the hoof print of the Moorish queen who didn’t want to be taken by the the Christian knights who had besieged and were taking over the town. So she leapt off the cliff face with her horse and that is where the horse is meant to have thought, hang on, I’m not jumping over there as soon as it realised where it was going and they fell to a rather obvious death. Today, Siurana is a sleepy place — well, it was when I visited it, I guess it gets busier in peak tourist season — and I was here early enough for many of the climbers to be still asleep in their camper vans. By the time I left all were awake and I saw dozens of climbers on the 200+ routes hereabouts, one shouting when he lost grip, and enjoying the echoes he made in the valley below. Now riding without arm warmers and a jacket I legged it back for lunch in the Cambriles Sport Village. Afterwards I spoke with Jaume Rue, founder of Cycling Costa Daurada, and asked him why he had invited club cyclists to the resort.

Jaume Rue 17:44
The main thing is to have a new clients and new groups to to come in Cambrils Park in the in, in the region Costa Daurada, whatever because you know some some of the some of the groups

Unknown Speaker 18:01
Some of the all groups that we have, they want to change in in of the destination so it’s necessary at this moment to to have a new a new clients and new new groups.

Carlton Reid 18:13
So maybe people who would have gone to Mallorca?

Carlton Reid 18:17
Like pro teams?

Jaume Rue 18:19
Exactly, the the, the majority of the of the clubs and the groups of the country they go to Mallorca before and they want to change of destination for for his trip next next season.

Anders Medin

Carlton Reid 18:37
Thanks to Jaume Rue there of Cycling Costa Daurada, and thanks also to Victor Goitia, the cycling product manager of Costa Dorada tourism who extended my time at the Cambrils Sport Village so I could get out and find my own stories. Permission to play the Mussera music was given by Carles Ribot. Links to his work, and links for Cycling Costa Daurada and details for Cambrils Sport Village can all be found on this podcast’s show notes which, as always, can be found at www.the-spokesmen.com If you want to know more about La Mussara make sure to check out my spooky story on Forbes.com due to go online on Thursday October 31st, Halloween that is. All of my Forbes stories can be found at www.forbes.com/sites/carltonreid This was show 228 of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast and it was recorded on Tuesday 29th October 2019. Here’s my co-host David with a short message from our show sponsor.

David Bernstein 19:48
Hey Carlton, thanks so much. And it’s it’s always my pleasure to talk about our advertiser. This is a long time loyal advertiser. Its Jenson USA at www.Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen, I’ve been telling you for years now years, that Jenson is the place where you can get a great selection of every kind of product that you need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices, and what really sets them apart, because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there, but what really sets them apart is their unbelievable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors and these are cyclists. I’ve been there, I’ve seen it. These are folks who ride at lunch, who go out on group rides after work because they just enjoy cycling so much. And and so you know that when you call, you’ll be talking to somebody who has knowledge of the products that you’re calling about. If you’re looking for a new bike, whether it’s a mountain bike, a road bike, a gravel bike, a fat bike, what are you looking for, go ahead and check them out. Jenson USA – they are the place where you will find everything you need for your cycling lifestyle. It’s Jensonusa.com/ thespokesmen. We thank them so much for their support and we thank you for supporting Jenson USA. Alright Carlton, let’s get back to the show.

Carlton Reid 21:10
Thanks, David, and that’s a wrap for today’s show. Like the Gino Bartali story on the previous episode, today’s show was more engineered than our roundtable ramblings, and, to be frank, more time-consuming. If you like this editorial approach, make sure to give the show a shout-out on Apple Podcasts or leave a comment on the show notes at the-spokesmen.com The next episode, due out early next month, will be another travelogue, this time from a Belgian cycleway in Germany, a what-did-you-just-say show that will be accompanied soon by a piece in The Guardian. Meanwhile, get out there and ride.

October 8, 2019 / / Blog

Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

Gino Bartali’s Secret Heroism & The Cycling School Inspired By It

Tuesday 8th October 2019

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS:

Holocaust survivor Paul Alexander

Canadian journalist Aili McConnon, co-author of Bartali biography, “The Road to Valor”

Gino Bartali’s granddaughter Gioia Bartali

Yuval Markovich, Bartali Youth Leadership School

Dr. Ilana Tischler, director-general, Ben Shemen Youth Village, Israel

Former pro cyclist Ran Margaliot, co-founder of Israel Cycling Academy and Bartali Youth Leadership School

Bartali 180 jersey

TOPICS:

A 77-year-old secret, a new, cycling-based boarding school that commemorates it, and the kick-off for a 180 kilometre bike ride that retraces its roots.

This episode of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast is about Gino Bartali’s 1948 Tour de France victory, his secret wartime rides to smuggle fake IDs for Italian Jews, a new Israeli cycling-based boarding school launched in his honour, and the Bartali 180 commemorative cycle ride from Florence to Assisi, retracing Bartali’s mid-1940s training-cum-smuggling route.

TRANSCRIPT:

1948 Tour de France music 0:01

Carlton Reid 0:16
This is the story of a 77-year-old secret, a new, cycling-based boarding school that commemorates it, and the kick-off for a 180 kilometre bike ride that retraces its roots.

Welcome to episode 227 of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast brought to you in association with Jenson USA, I’m Carlton Reid, and the audio you heard at the top of the show was from a period Italian film about the 1948 Tour de France won by Italy’s Gino Bartali. On the day before the climb which clinched it, Bartali was staying at the Carlton hotel in Cannes when he was called by the future leader of Italy’s Christian Democratic Party and told he had to win a stage or two because it would prevent the outbreak of bloodshed following the attempted assassination of a Communist politician. “I will do even better than that,” promised Bartali. “I WILL WIN THE WHOLE TOUR.”

That Bartali’s against-all-the-odds victory possibly prevented an Italian civil war would be an amazing claim to fame, but more recently, something even more amazing came out about Bartali, a secret that the devout Catholic had kept to his dying day. During the war against Hitler, at great risk to his own life, and that of his young family, Bartali used his fame, and, indeed, his bicycle frame, to smuggle documents that saved perhaps as many as 600 Italian Jews from the gas chambers. We don’t know the exact number, because – for obvious reasons – no records were kept. Despite being one of Italy’s most famous sports personalities, the subject of countless newspaper and magazine articles, and in his later years, a pundit on Italian TV, Bartali never talked about his war heroics, not even with his family.

In this special episode of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast, I talk to Canadian journalist Aili McConnon, co-author of a Bartali biography. I also speak with Bartali’s granddaughter, as well as a bicycling Holocaust survivor, a bunch of Hebrew and Arabic speaking school kids connected by their love of cycling, and the former pro cyclist who brought all of these folks together in Italy last month.

The Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi at the end of the Bartali 180

I met them all at the inaugural Bartali 180 which is a new commemorative ride planned to be held annually to celebrate the great man’s deeds. The one-day ride – 180 kilometers if you do the full distance – uses Tuscan roads that Bartali would have trained on close to his home near Florence, and it follows his smuggling route to the monastery city of Assisi which he would have ridden many times during the war, braving Nazi and fascist patrols to ferry counterfeit identification papers for people fleeing what would have been almost certain death.

Paul Alexander 3:40
On this day, the seventh of September 2019, 80 years ago, the Second World War was four days old.

Carlton Reid 3:59
That’s 81-year old Paul Alexander, a Holocaust survivor sent to England as part of the kindertransport, a pre-war rescue effort that separated 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from their parents in Nazi Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland , placing them in foster care.

Paul Alexander 4:19
It was a war in which close to 20 million men, women and children around the world lost their lives, including 16 million of my own people

Paul Alexander 4:42
The cost of this horrible war would have been considerably greater had it not been for heroes like Gino Bartali, who, at great risk, put the lives of others before their own lives and they enabled countless people to survive the Holocaust. My connection to the Bartali ride is coincidental but it is a very significant event in my life. I’ve always loved cycling since I was a child.

Carlton Reid 5:32
Paul was speaking in the Palazzo Vecchio, or “Old Palace” in the medieval centre of Florence, and he was one of those to launch the Bartali Youth Leadership School on the day before the start of the Bartali 180.

Paul Alexander climbing the final stretch from the town of Assisi to the Basilica of Saint Francis without battery assistance

Paul Alexander 5:45
We are eternally grateful for the opportunity for having done this wonderful ride.

Carlton Reid 5:49
Paul rode the Bartali 180 on his Pinarello electric road bike, and I rode next to him on the steep climb up from Assissi to the Basilica of Saint Francis – his power had run down by then (Paul’s not St Francis’) and yet he climbed without battery assistance. Also on that climb was Aili McConnon and earlier she told me how she and her brother revealed Gino Bartali’s secret.

Paul Alexander with Aili McConnon at the Bartali memorial at Terontola station

Aili McConnon 6:21
You know, many in Italy, really, up until most recently haven’t talked about what happened during the war. So we started thinking, you know, what did Bartali do during the war? We found a small mention in a Florentine newspaper that he’d helped the Jewish community we said, well, that’s interesting, you know, was he a part of the partigiani was he a part of the resistance, what was he doing? And tracked down his son and reached out to him and you know, he gave us a little bit of a nugget of the story that, yes, he helped the community, he carried documents. And I think it was at that point we realised that this is sort of the story of a great sports hero, but then also a humanitarian.

Carlton Reid 6:56
Gino the pious, as he was nicknamed by contemporary newspapers, is lauded in Italy as a legendary sports champion, famous for his fierce rivalry with Fausto Coppi. Then, and even today, many Italians identified as supporters of either Coppi or Bartali, there was no middle ground and no love lost between the factions. Since the gradual unraveling of his secret from 2010 or so, there has been a non-sporting reason to favour Bartali as the more historically significant of the two but Gino the Pious never spoke about his wartime exploits.

Aili McConnon 7:32
The reason why he helped, or at least my best understanding, came from his widow, Adrianna Barteli, who was alive when we were researching the book, you know, and she said that, you know, he was so aware of the immense contribution so many Italians had made and, you know, many had been tortured, many had been killed, you know, and he thought he did his part, but he didn’t want to overshadow you know, those who have done so much during the war. So, I think, you know, he was happy to be known for his cycling accolades, but did not want, you know, his cycling fame, you know, consequently to, you know, then make him into a bigger war hero, and, you know, some very regular people who did so much but wouldn’t be you know, as widely publicised, because they’re just everyday citizens

Carlton Reid 8:27
I asked Aili whether Bartali’s secret story – fighting fascists – had resonance today.

Aili McConnon 8:34
It is, you know, very, very concerning, you know, the sort of pockets of anti-semitism that you see popping up around the world and, you know, the fact that you do have a choice, and it certainly would have been much easier, much more convenient and safer for him not to do anything. You know, he was certainly risking his own life, his family’s life, you know, and yet he kind of stood up to do what he felt was right.

Gioia Bartali kick-starting the Bartali 180 ride at the old synagogue in Florence

Gioia Bartali 8:54
Because of my grandfather, he, he think … sorry, for my grammatical verbs is …

Carlton Reid 9:04
That’s Gioia Bartali, Gino’s granddaughter, and as I told her at the time, her English is far better than my Italian.

Gioia Bartali 9:13
He don’t say any words with the son and with his wife. Okay? Because if you make good to other person, you take it in his heart.

Carlton Reid 9:34
Gioia was also on the Bartali 180, which, as well as continuing next year as an annual ride, was the launchpad for the multi-faith Bartali Youth Leadership School, a new, cycling-focussed boarding school that opened its doors last month.

Gioia Bartali 9:51
I am very happy because we don’t forget my grandfather, I think it is a beautiful project.

Carlton Reid 10:00
The school, based at the longstanding Ben Shemen youth village in Israel, has started with six students, ranging in age from 13 to 16.

Yuval Markovich 10:11
It’s very fun to live together.

Carlton Reid 10:15
That was Yuval Markovich, a 14-year-old from a village on the Israeli side of the Gaza Strip.

Shimon Amir 10:20
My name is Shimon Amir. I am 16 years old, and I am from Gush Etzion.

Carlton Reid 10:28
The kids got mountain bikes on the first day of term, and before, during and after their academic studies they ride together in the Ben Shemen forest close to the school, which just so happens to have a 32 kilometer singletrack mountain bike trail snaking through the trees. Interestingly, these aren’t all Jewish kids: there’s Adan Ziadane, a 15-year-old from a small town near Nazareth – her father didn’t want her to leave home, but, bravely, she insisted. And there are kids from Israel’s Druze community, a close-knit Arabic-speaking sect. The plan is for the kids enrolled at the Bartali Youth Leadership school to use cycling as a way to bridge cultural divides and celebrate diversity, imbibing life skills such as self-discipline and teamwork. The kids are also taught the importance of caring for others, the same sort of selfless humanity practiced, in secret, by Bartali. Despite varying abilities, they stuck together on the Bartali 180, riding as a team. In the Palazzo Vecchio I learned more about the boarding school’s campus from its director-general Dr. Ilana Tischler

Dr. Ilana Tischler 11:41
The village was established in 1927 by Dr. Siegfried Lehman who came from Europe with a group of kids to Israel. He looked at three main goals: quality education, love to the land of Israel and values of work and pluralism. And since then, till today – we’re talking 92 years – we have quality education, we have love to the land, we are an agricultural farm, and work and we have pluralism: we have Jewish students and non-Jewish students. We have excellent students, and we have learning disability students, so we accept each child as long as we can give him the right venue to succeed. And the six children are here participating in this event are three Arab and Druze kids and three Jewish kids. These six are in different groups in Israel that we know they like to cycle we know they practice, and in order to become champions, they will need like an American college support, you know, enough practice, enough academic support, enough sleep, the right nutrition, sports psychologist, whatever you need in order to make them professional sports cycling.

Carlton Reid 12:56
And some pay, like the full amount, and then some got like scholarships that sort of thing?

Dr. Ilana Tischler 13:04
Our village is supported by the Israeli Ministry of Education, and the tuition is determined by the income of the parents 50% of our children do not pay.

Bartali 180 riders greeted at the end of the ride by Assisi mayor Stefania Proietti

Carlton Reid 13:16
The founder of the Bartali Youth Leadership School is former professional cyclist Ran Margaliot, who was also the co-creator of the Israel Cycling Academy, the Pro Continental team which has recently taken over the Katusha-Alpecin squad, bumping it up to WorldTour status, and therefore becoming a shoe-in for the world’s major stage races. Wadee Asakly, a 13-year-old from the Druze village of Maghar, wants to ride in the Tour de France, he tells all who will listen, and his dream is perhaps now more achievable thanks to the support and coaching he’ll get from Margaliot and other ex-pros at the Bartali Youth Leadership school. Former Team Saxobank rider Margaliot never got to ride in the Tour de France.

Ran Margaliot 14:01
My own life dream when I was young at their age was to ride a Tour de France one day, you know, I thought this is the greatest thing a cyclist can do and no one from Israel has ever done that. And I got somehow this crazy dream in my head that I’m going to be the one who will do it and then somehow break a path for next generation. I chase that dream for some years. We didn’t have any, you know, real support system in Israel back then for cycling; cycling was not a major sport in our young country. So I had to travel to Europe at a young age, and you know, learn, you know, everything by myself. And obviously, I had many, many people who supported me along the way. And, you know, I always find small teams to rider with, but I had to learn it all. And I made it you know, to a certain level, but I wasn’t good enough and will never achieve my dream to race the Tour de France.

Ran Margaliot lending a helping hand at the end of the Bartali 180

My, my second, the second version of my dream of making the Tour de France and if I couldn’t make it myself as a rider, so I going to start to Israel’s first pro cycling team, we gonna make it with the next generation.

That was the end of 2014. We’ve launched the project of Israel Cycling Academy, which nowadays is one of the largest in the second tier of the sport.

You know, my original reason I wanted to become a cyclist and Tour de France myself and the reason I started the team was not what was needed to to make this team successful anymore, you know, and what I saw as a young 16-year-old guy coming from Israel dreaming to be in the Tour de France is that by doing so I will be able to inspire other young cyclists and by inspiring those cyclists I was aiming that maybe they will be able to follow a similar path that I that I’ve I’ve had that they will be able to experience what I felt that cycling did for me, you know, it completely changed my life, I owe everything to cycling really, I met the most amazing people in my life to cycling, through cycling I, I went through life changing experiences, you know, I got I got to learn so much about myself through the sport and I knew I want to focus on the grass-roots, you know, I wasn’t sure what I’m going to do whatever you want to do with new grass-roots matters to me, it was what inspires me in the first place to help shape the lives of young people through cycling through the sport.

And I had that crazy idea that I want to turn cycling into an accessible sport, you know, as opposed to what it is such a logistical expensive sport that only people, only kids who you know has the means can practice. Since it was a sport of the kids will discover through school, you know, you’re coming to your school every day is an obligatory you know, mandate mandatory learning learning facility or institute that every kid has to go through, day in day out.

So I came back to the planning board and I was I started consulting with a few good friends of mine said you know, if you really want to put bring cycling into schools, it will not happen with a regular school system. Because you know, kids go to school from let’s say, eight to three o’clock, you know, you have no room for any any other activity really, if you want to host you know, even just want to store a bike in school is going to be so complicated, how are you going to maintain them.

And then from, from friends from word of mouth, we got offered to start a programme in a boarding school – in Israel we call them Youth Villages.

Some of those kids are not coming from the best backgrounds, you know, so like, if I tell them, you know, there’s that maybe even an Israeli Pro Cycling Team that is racing in, in, in, in, in when you when you can get there when you’re 19 or 20 or 21 that’s for ever for them, you know, they’re 14, there’s you know, there are kids are there, they wake up maybe at 6am in the morning to train, which is an achievement, their friends wake up at 7.30 and go smoking, you know, if if you don’t give them something that they can do tomorrow, then forget about it, really, I mean, 19 is who knows what’s going to happen til then.

So we knew we have to start a programme that is focusing on excellence, which will be accessible for those kids that and we knew that we want to put that the main narrative should not be how how it creates racers, you know, we should we should be how, how we how we can really use cycling to change youth lives.

And I think it was a natural decision to name the programme after Gino Bartalli, you know, based on those those assumptions that we are not looking to create champions, it might be added value, yes or no. But we’re really looking to create champions in life.

Carlton Reid 18:26
As a kid growing up, Margaliot didn’t pay much attention to the Holocaust, despite the fact his grandfather, Avraham, was one of the world’s leading Holocaust scholars

Ran Margaliot 18:37
He was, I believe, one of the first or the first researcher of the Holocaust he was he was born in Germany moved to Israel just before the before the war. And before Israel was established in 1948, already in 1947, just when the war the war ended, he decided he has to start documenting, gathering evidence so it won’t be erased.

So he travelled to Germany, which was not allowed at the time, it was dangerius obviously, to start research. There’s a department in Yad Vashem called on his name, his name is Dr. Avraham Margaliot.

I didn’t know him, he passed away a year before I was born. And but but I think the crazy thing is I didn’t want to know anything about the Holocaust. Until I found out about Bartali. Despite what my grandfather, you know, focus was, I mean, he, he dedicated his life to, to, to remembrance of the Holocaust, I mean, he was he was a professor, and he was, you know, he was a researcher, and he wrote books and, and this this was his thing and I didn’t want to know anything about it because, for me, it was that sad story that happened so many years ago and and as a kid, or you know, or even as a young adult, we don’t want to learn you don’t want to hear about it at all. I mean, I thought, you know, this is nothing to do with me.

The only the only reason I started asking myself questions and learning about wanting to learn about the about the Holocaust was Bartali because he was a hero I could relate to because I was a cyclist. The mission is to get people to know and to ask questions to ask themselves. You know, for me the just the perfect question, I would like to ask, would I do the same thing as Bartali?

Would I be willing to to, to get up out of my comfort zone to help a person you need to do the right thing, would I risk my life for someone that don’t even know, that I have nothing to do with?

Carlton Reid 20:25
Five years ago, 13 years after his death, Bartali was recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” an honourific given by the State of Israel to those non-Jews who risked their lives during the Second World War to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis..

Ran Margaliot 20:42
This is special for me, this is part of what Bartali did, you know, he was riding alone on those roads, delivering fake documents, fake IDs, inside his bike tubes on behalf of someone who, who thought he might be the right guy to do so. We in one way or another, we’re delivering his message too today to thr world, doing the right thing.

Carlton Reid 21:12
If you’d like to learn more about the Bartali Youth Leadership School there’s a video and a bunch of links on the show notes at www.the-spokesmen.com

While the inaugural Bartali 180 was staged in September, the 2020 ride will be held in mid-June. It’s a multi-day, non-competitive event that includes warm-up rides in the Chianti hills near to Florence and, at the end of the 180 kilometre ride on the Sunday there will be a guided visit to the monastery and print shop where Bartali picked up the fake IDs to stuff into his frame.

Approaching Corciano

It’s a special ride, fully supported with team cars from high-end cycle holiday company Chronoplus, and the 180 kilometres fly by.You can opt to do short distances, with everybody joining together for the final climb from Assisi to the Basilica of Saint Francis.

Thanks to Ran for inviting me. The next episode of the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable podcast supported by Jenson USA, will be out in two weeks or so. Meanwhile get out there and ride.

September 29, 2019 / / Blog

EPISODE 226

Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast

Sunday 29th September 2019

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS:

British pro cyclist Ben Swift

Greater Manchester’s walking and cycling commissioner Chris Boardman

Helen Pidd, The Guardian

Fundraiser Steve Craddock

TOPICS:

The Mens’ Elite road race at the World Championships in Harrogate, Yorkshire; plus Chris Boardman’s (latest) helmet controversy.

Interview with Help For Heroes top fundraiser Steve Craddock.

Top pic of Mads Pederson winning the Men Elite World Championships 2019 by SWPix.com.

“I just love cycling,” says Steve Craddock on his Dassi bicycle.

TRANSCRIPT

Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 226 of the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast. This show was recorded Sunday 29th of September 2019.

David Bernstein 0:23
The SpokesmenCycling Roundtable Podcast is brought to you by Jensen USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensenusa.com/thespokesmen.

David Bernstein 0:42
Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.theFredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the-spokesmen.com. And now, here are the Spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:08
Hi there. I’m Carlton Reid, and I’m bringing you this episode of the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast shortly after the finish of the men’s elite road race at the world championships in Harrogate, Yorkshire. Excuse the audio but I’m recording just outside the media room, and I’m just about warmed up after today’s race, and I was sheltering in the press tent.

Today’s show is a two-halfer. I’ll start with two bits of audio I grabbed at the world championships, and that’s a swift interview with, OK, Ben Swift. Listen carefully, and you’ll hear his teeth chattering. And I also caught up with Chris Boardman as he came away from the BBC tent. As well as talking about today’s racing, I also asked Chris about his controversial – it really shouldn’t be controversial – his controversial decision not to wear a helmet when cycling on an ordinary bike on telly. For the second half of the show. I’m dropping in a pre-recorded interview with Steve Craddock, an inspirational fundraiser for the Help for Heroes charity, which is still pretty much bicycle based. But first here is Ben Swift, seconds after finishing today’s wet and cold race – by the way, he came 31st out of 46 finishers. And that was about 120 hundred and 30 DNF’s – race was brutal. And he was six and a half minutes behind the new world champion, Denmark’s Mads Pederson.

Ben Swift 2:41
Yeah, definitely it was a really tough day out there. I

think it probably looked quite cool on some of the photos as the flyer

actually got really cold there as well towards the end and you know, when it’s already cold like that, you know, you need to start stripping off getting ready to the finish and stuff but uh, yeah, we gave it out good shot so

Helen Pidd 3:02
Was it hard even by Yorkshire standards as Yorkshireman?

Ben Swift 3:05
Yeah, no, it definitely was, it was cold, I’m pretty freezing now. And no, it’s quite windy in times. And it was a lot of big deep puddles out there, which made it quite quite difficult and this climb here, this finishing circuit, sorry, was was really difficult – with the steep climb is it Old Bank Road or something was? Yeah, that was really hard.

Helen Pidd 3:28
And how does it compare to other world championships races you’ve done?.

Ben Swift 3:34
Er, I think it’s probably the hardest one that I’ve done. And each one’s been a little bit different. You know, Qatar was pan-flat and the crosswinds in pretty warm weather. The thing you had here was really short punchy climbs which in this weather made it really difficult.

Journalist 3:54
What was the support like out on the road?

Ben Swift 3:56
Oh, it was incredible.

I think it was just the atmosphere was building and building on I think it was amazing to so many people in during this sort of like pretty bad weather. So yeah, thanks to that.

Helen Pidd 4:12
Did you think about giving up any point? Hardly any riders finished.

Ben Swift 4:16
You don’t want to, you don’t want to give up, you go until you can’t go no more and that’s pretty much what I did …

Carlton Reid 4:24
One of the other voices you heard asking questions there was Helen Pidd, The Guardian’s north of England correspondent. Because she covers Manchester she does lots of stories with BBC commentator and Greater Manchester’s walking and cycling champion [commissioner] Chris Boardman, who I managed to grab as he finished his BBC stint from the world championiships.

How’s that gonna do for Yorkshire’s PR around the world, a bit of a brutal day wasn’t it?

Chris Boardman 4:48
I think he was dramatic. It was like how we like to refer to it. How we come to refer to it all week. And depends how you want to think of it. I mean, it was dramatic scenes for the whole week. We’ve had a bit of everything but some great racing. It’s not like we haven’t seen rain in a world championship before. I think it’s the first time it’s ever been shortened befoe, I don’t recall it happening before. But ultimately, 250 million people watch this around the world. And it was great. Some surprise results some fantastic sporting achievements.

Carlton Reid 5:16
Because they gave up at the end they didn’t they the peloton they gave up quite quickly, they were so cold coming through talking to them..

Chris Boardman 5:22
Yeah, I mean, World Championships, something like this. It’s always the same … I thought they’d be about 50 finishers, because there’s nothing in it for you. There’s no stage tomorrow. Why would you? And these are vast majority of these are pro riders, they don’t do it just for the honour of. They’ve done that already. But it’s fascinating, the way the tactics worked out, there’s a lot of similarities throughout all the road races where fatigue played as big a part as the form book.

Carlton Reid 5:47
Because of the punchy hill?

Chris Boardman 5:49
There was just no flat. There’s nowhere where you can get I’ll get over this climb, and I’ll sit in the wheels and recover. There’s just nothing. And so it was incredibly hard. But I think it Lizzie Deignan summed it up when she said, ‘I know I’m going to feel awful all day, because you don’t feel good on these roads.’ And I think it’s an advantage, that I’m prepared for that. And she was right.

Carlton Reid 6:10
Cos Ben Swift was through there. And his teeth

Unknown Speaker 6:12
were chattering.

Chris Boardman 6:16
I know what it’s like being that cold, but they barely couldn’t get any words out. And everybody was just completely spent. And it’s a course where there was, something of a cliche, there wasn’t anywhere to hide. You know, you as soon as you’re fatigued, there’s just things that are going to push you out the back and it’s over.

So there you go.

Carlton Reid 6:35
One last word, the helmet thing that’s kicked off again on Twitter

Chris Boardman 6:38
It always will. It’s it’s it’s hard position for me to take. I’m anxious about it every time because if I just conform and do what everyone else does, then I’m promoting something that I don’t – not only do I not believe in – I think it actually does harm. But as you know, it’s a nuanced argument in unintended consequences, we just need to be in a place where you ride a bike in normal clothes, doing normal things. And that’s not seen as a terrible thing. It’s what I want for my kids. And that’s why I’m going to stand up for it. I had conversation with my wife on the phone and just said, ‘I’m gonna have to find a way to do this work without wearing a helmet, but also without having to go and ride a bike or do something else.’ And oddly for her, she said, ‘No, keep doing it. If you actually look at the feed, people are starting to realise it’s not just black and white.’ And it’s really important that we make this look safe. And we’ll save more people if we do that. Um, so that made me do it, stick with it.

Carlton Reid 7:40
Thanks to Chris Boardman there. And now here’s the second half of the show, an online interview I did with Help for Heroes fundraiser and N+1 cyclist Steve Craddock, and we did that interview about a week ago. But before we get into that, I have a two points to raise if I remember rightly, at one point, Steve mentioned Weebles, now Weebles were a 1970s, perhaps 1980s toy which you couldn’t push over because it had a fat base. We also talked about The Likely Lads, a 1970s comedy set in the North East of England.

Hi, Steve. Your nickname is Geordie Steve, but you’re not in Newcastle. I’m in Newcastle. You’re not in Newcastle. Where are you, Steve?

Steve Craddock 8:26
I’m down in Chatham in Kent.

Carlton Reid 8:28
Okay, but the Geordie means you were born in the North East.

Steve Craddock 8:32
Yeah, I’m a Geordie, I was born up in Newcastle. And I lived there from ’57 to ’74. When I joined the army

Carlton Reid 8:40
Likely Lads time.

Steve Craddock 8:42
It was likely the Likely Lads time. Absolutely.

Carlton Reid 8:46
And you joined the army to do what, what was your, what was your original dream about going in? What do you want to become? And then what did you eventually leave as?

Steve Craddock 9:00
Well, I just wanted to get away from Newcastle.

Carlton Reid 9:05
Don’t say that, it’s a lovely place!

Steve Craddock 9:07
It is now. Beautiful now. It wasn’t when I was there.

Carlton Reid 9:17
I joined the Royal Engineers

Steve Craddock 9:18
I spent almost 15 years in the Corps and left as a sergeant.

Carlton Reid 9:27
And I was reading your biography. You’ve got some pretty grisly stuff there about you served in Northern Ireland, and you were basically with the bomb squad.

Steve Craddock 9:37
Not the bomb squad. As a Royal Engineer, party of a search. We would do the search, find any weapons or IEDs [improvised explosive devices] or anything like that. And then that would be handed over to the silly buggers who want to go down there and try and disarm it. So we weren’t bomb squad as such, but we were what’s called search teams.

Carlton Reid 9:59
But reading the biography, you did see some pretty horrible stuff.

Steve Craddock 10:04
Yes. Anybody who really, I did multiple tours in Northern Ireland. One of them was a two year tour. And anybody that served there, during the mid 70s, through to 1990 will have seen some pretty horrendous things. You mean, when a bomb goes off.

And people are caught up in it, it does tend to make a mess of them.

Carlton Reid 10:28
And we’re kind of hoping that we don’t go back to those days at the moment. That’s kind of resonant politically right now. I won’t get into that. But this is a cycling podcast so we’re not talking about your your army career as such, we’re talking about what happened after your army career. So give us a thumbnail sketch of why we’re talking to you on a cycling podcast. So how did cycling change your life?

Steve Craddock 10:57
When I came out the army

I sort of carried on, I did very well in Civvy Street. And I had lots of transferable skills as a as a Royal Engineer in Civvy Street and ended up as a director of a security company, and was doing very well. But there was something that was always in and in my mind something wasn’t quite right. And then I had a real bit of bad news where my brother committed suicide, and it it triggered something inside me. And it fired off a real bout of pretty bad mental health with a lot of what I saw in Northern Ireland and in other places, flashing back into my mind. And it created an awful lot of problems for me. It. Although I was operating, I had a real mental health issue. And which was causing me real problems. And I tried to drown those problems away and alcohol and that sort of stuff. And I ended up getting to about 19 stone [120kg/266 pounds]. Now when you’re only five foot six, and you’re 19 stone and you’re you’re a bit of a Weeble. And I was in a bad bad way. I was diagnosed about 12, 13 years ago with what they called PTSD. It’s just a mental health problem. You know, you call whatever you want to call it.

Carlton Reid 12:21
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Steve Craddock 12:23
At the end of the day …

Carlton Reid 12:24
So this is a common a common thing for ex-squaddies to have, somebody who’s been through some rough things, yeah?

Steve Craddock 12:32
I wouldn’t say. Yeah, lots of lads have problems, can we say? You know, PTSD is it’s a terrible four letters to explain huge amount of different mental health issues. So really, that’s the only way I can put it because it people can understand that. But really, I had a mental health problem. I was in a real physically bad state, which has made me even worse when you remember how well you were and how fit you were when you were in the army. I was in a pretty, pretty low place, pretty low place and Help For Heroes was formed. And I picked up on that and that it was formed by having a bike ride through the battlefields in northern France, and they got 300 people to go and cycle through France as a way of raising funds for Headley Court, which was the army rehabilitation centre near Leatherhead. And I saw this, and I thought ‘do you know, I wouldn’t mind doing that’. And the reason why I said that, to myself, was because I knew that my physical state was making my mental health far worse than it was.

And I thought I’d like to do that. I was too late for that ride.

But I saw that, and I bought, I went out and bought myself a bike, I thought I’m the only one that’s gonna be able to sort myself out. Because at the time there was no real help for veterans with the problems that I had. I bought a bike. And I started riding, it was horrendous. It was really hard. But there was something a bit special about it because suddenly, I was out on my own and I and I was out in the fresh air and I was looking around at things that really I hadn’t seen for a long time. I’d gone past them, but I hadn’t seen them because you were buried up in your own mind and your own problems. The following year, Help For Heroes did another bike ride, which I took part in. It was 350 miles from Normandy to Paris. And it killed me. It absolutely killed me. I couldn’t get up most of the hills and, and everything you know, I mean, the normal climbing thing, but you know, I was still about 18 stone and, but there was something about again I really absolutely loved. And from there, I just started pushing myself on my bike and got into the the normal N+1 thing. And just love bikes. And as I was doing that I found my weight started to come off, my mental health started to improve.

And the harder I pushed myself the better I felt in my mind.

And starting to find where, yes, it was still tough going up hills and you still quite heavy. But it was making me feel better. And maybe the pain in the legs was taken away from some of the pain that I was feeling in my mind. And that went on. I think it’s been, as far as my mental health is concerned, it’s been an absolute saviour, and it’s something I absolutely love doing. It’s just, to me, it’s just the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. And what really gets me is I wish that I’d discovered this years ago, but I was 50 when I discovered cycling, you know, I’m 62 now and I love it. I just can’t think of anything better than belting along the road with the wind in the air and looking out through the beautiful Kent countryside or through Normandy or as I’ve cycled through Burma, I’ve cycled in Zambia, you know I’ve cycling in a lot of places around the world and it just makes me happy.

Carlton Reid 16:31
And your N+1 syndrome that you’ve got there, what did you start with and what have you got now?

Steve Craddock 16:37
I started I bought

I can’t remember what the thing was. It was steel like

and I started enjoying it and I bought myself a special Specialized

cyclo cross bike, which I liked. And then I bought myself a – I was always getting better and better – I bought myself an S-Works Roubaix with Roval wheels and everything.

Carlton Reid 17:03
Oh, OK, you are going N+1 here!

Steve Craddock 17:09
And then I bought myself a Cube mountain bike

to do some off road stuff and really enjoyed that. And then a couple years ago, I bought a Dassi Interceptor Graphene.

Which is just the most beautiful bike in the world.

And I love riding it.

Carlton Reid 17:31
So these are obviously lightweight bikes. Tell me about your weight. So you were 18 stone. Tell me about the progression? How did you lose that weight? And if you don’t mind me asking, where are you now?

Steve Craddock 17:43
I’m now just under 13 stone [82kgs; 182 pounds].

And the progression really was was just and how I did it was really just being a little bit sensible about what you’re eating, and not cutting anything out? And I don’t think not, you know, what’s the point? You know, one of the greatest things on a ride is finishing off and having a pint. And enjoying your food while you’re doing it. And, and just being sensible about what you eat, and enjoying yourself, but just making sure that you get out on the bike. But also, you know, I mean, that doesn’t just, it’s not just bikes, that loses weight, you’ve got to do a bit of resistance training and stuff like that in the gym. And of course, getting fitter on the bike makes it easier for you to go to the gym, although I really detest it. But I use it to develop my muscles and everything. And I find it makes it easier for me to get up the hills. You know, I’m not fast up the hills. But there isn’t a hill, now, that I don’t believe I can’t get up.

Carlton Reid 18:40
When you go out riding, to others or to yourself, do you say I’m going out for a training ride? Or do you say ‘oh, I’m just going out for a ride? How do you consider it?

Steve Craddock 18:52
I just say I’m going out for a ride. And then, you know, I mean, I know what I’ve got to do, there’ll be times where I’ll say right, okay, i’m gonna go for a bimble around. And then I’m going to do a bit of hill training. So I’ll do some hill repeats. I’ve got a nice hill, which is on a military road, it’s very lightly trafficked. It’s about five and a half, six percent average for about 600 metres.

And that’s a cracking one. So I’ll go and do five

repeats of the hill, in a relatively light gear so, I’m spinning, and then I’ll go off, do about 15 mile, come back and I’ll do three or four repeats in a heavy gear. So I do a little bit of weight training on the bike and go off and then other times I’ll just ride and I’ll ride really slowly. And then every hill I’ll hit it as hard as I can. So I make it up as I go along really.

Carlton Reid 19:46
Yeah but you’re thinking about it, you’re not just bimbling along.

Steve Craddock 19:51
If you want to learn how to ride up hills, you’ve got to ride up hills. There’s no substitute for gravity trying to pull your back and you pushing against it. It’s and I’ve been out there with Hot Chilli in the Alps and, and things like that. That killed me, you know mean, they’re proper hills. But you know you it makes you feel good. And next month, I’m off to Portugal, I’m going to cycle the length of Portugal, from north to south, and there’s something like 30,000 feet of climbing on that. So we’ll be doing that in five days. So that’s gonna be good fun.

Carlton Reid 20:31
And you said ‘we’ there? When you ride locally are you just by yourself? Do you go out with people? What do you do?

Steve Craddock 20:40
Most of the time I go out on my own, actually, I really enjoy that. But I set up a group, a cycling group a couple years ago called No One Left Behind. And it’s a Sunday morning group where I encourage anybody, no matter what their weight, what their physical ability or anything is come and join us. And we ride at the pace of the slowest. And one of the things we try and do is to build up their confidence on the road, build up their fitness. And one of the aims is because every year I have my own sportive that I put on, I’ve just had this year’s was the fifth I’ve hard in support of Help For Heroes.

We try and build them on to do that first sportive, it’s only 50 mile, but it’s a massive landmark in a lot of people. And we’ve had probably, on average, about 10, 12 people come. We get regular people come have never been really done anything on a bike before. And we we welcome them and say like, okay, we’re going to go at your pace, and you’re gonna enjoy your ride. And so we just try and make it sure cycling becomes accessible to people and they’re not worried or ‘I can’t keep up with those people,’ you know what you can be like in, in some cycling clubs in and whatever, they get the train going in as much as they say and nobody, you know, nobody, no drop policy, they race off to the next junction and then wait and to have the same person has to keep keeping up and feels bad about themselves. This way, I control the pace at the front, I have a few guys along along the line. And if if if I’m picking it up a bit too fast, or they’re dropping back, I’ll get a shout and I’ll just drop the pace off and so that they enjoy it and feel that they’re part of what we’re doing. And it’s several of those people have not just completed my my sportive, but there’s another ride which I part organise, which is called the Great Kent Cycle Ride, which is a three day tour of Kent.

And we do 70 mile a day.

And several of those people have completed that three day event. And it’s something they wouldn’t have done if they hadn’t joined that group. So it’s really good that you see people, you know, it’s really killed them doing that three day ride. But the smile on their faces at the end, realising you know, I can do it. It’s such a, and I love it because I love seeing that and people come up and saying ‘cheers, mate’. But again, it’s about just making people feel good about themselves. And if you feel good about yourself, you know, it’s likes a lot easier. If you like yourself. And for many years, I didn’t.

Unknown Speaker 23:20
Tell me about. I mean, you’ve raised a stonking great amount for Help For Heroes. So tell us how much you’ve raised over these years.

Unknown Speaker 23:29
£486,000. I’m in my …

Steve Craddock 23:33
My goal to get 14 grand to get to the half million, which is I’m hoping we get this year.

Carlton Reid 23:38
Yeah, that’s that’s, that’s really really impressive. That’s an enormous amount of money to have raised.

Steve Craddock 23:44
You know, I mean, yes, it is, I’m not I’m not trying to decry it or anything but raising that money – and most of that’s been done on a bike, and organised events around that sort of thing – when you see what that money’s been done used for by Help For Heroes to help and support guys who’ve been horrendously injured in Afghan or whatever, or guys have got really bad mental health issues and how Help For Heroes has helped them. My way of recovery was my bike and raising money and knowing that that money is being put to good use. That’s actually it’s been my recovery pathway. I haven’t really asked for help from anybody. It’s been the way that I felt good about myself that I was doing something for somebody else. And at the same time, it was making a difference to my life. So and I could almost say it was selfish, because it was really about me and me getting better. And that’s the way I found it

enabled me to to move on. Not

not. What’s the word?

And just get better. They get it just me get better.

Carlton Reid 25:12
Now that 14,000 that you’ve you’ve got to raise to hit that magic figure looks as though it’ll be pretty easy to reach on your next challenge, which not the Portugal one, but the one where you’re going across Europe. So tell us your your your plans for that in 2020.

Steve Craddock 25:33
Yeah, I have a pal of min – Lee Patmore – who, five years ago never been, first of all, he was medically discharged from the Royal Navy for a pretty severe back injury. And in the time, when he came out, he then developed fibro, fibromyalgia, which is a pretty debilitating

disease.

And he because of that, he developed mental health issues and everything and he had contacted me when I did my first Cycle for Heroes, my first sportive the first year and said, ‘Look, I’ve never done anything like this, but I can borrow a handbike, can I come along with you’? And I said, ‘alright, mate’, and he he came along on the day. And I didn’t know he’d never done more than five k’s on this bike. And it was a 60 mile ride. And he got through it. When he told me halfway around it, he never done more than five k’s on a bike before like, and I did not half clip him around the back of their heads like, lucky he had a helmet on. But he got it got through it. And when he went home a couple days later he contactws me and says I want to do Lands End to John o’Groats. I said ‘you’re joking, son’ and you know mean that that’s a big, big challenge. He went, ‘no, I want to do it.’ I said ‘All right. let me think about it, I shall come back to you’. That was a couple years ago when Help For Heroes was in its 10th year. And I thought well, let’s do that. And we’ll do Joh o’Groats to Lands End but we’ll visit all the Help For Heroes recovery centres en route. And the following year we did it and we actually rode 1400 miles from John O’Groats to Lands End, visiting down the northeast coast of the UK and and down to Chatham in Kent and then whatever. So we did 1400 miles and the last year I took him on an 800 mile ride. And and so this year or for next year, I’m looking for challenges to do. And there’s a cycle route called the Eurovelo Six. And it goes from Saint-Nazaire on the Atlantic coast of France to can’t remember the name of the town but to the Black Sea and it passes through nine European countries. And I thought

That’s the one, Constan?a. On the Black Sea coast of Romania.

Carlton Reid 27:59
Is it Constanta?

Steve Craddock 28:02
Constanta, like. [Laughs]

I thought, you know, I mean, that’s already fully sign posted. It takes us on quiet roads, and on cycle paths and everything. And for Lee, couldn’t take him up in the Alps. So it’s relatively flat, but it means we’ve got a we’re going to do it in 22 days, it’s, it’s 2175 miles long. I’m going to do it in 22 days, so about 100 mile a day. And we’re going to go and ride it. And

Carlton Reid 28:35
How is the riding between you too, because a hand cycle and an ordinary bike, they’re different machines clearly? And different speeds? Yeah, how do you cope with with the differentials there?

Steve Craddock 28:50
Well, on the flat, once, once he gets this thing up to speed, because he’s so low down, he’s got very little wind resistance. And they move. They really shift. And if you go on a downhill, you know, they fly. When we were coming out of Scotland, out of Glen, not Glen Shee that’s in Northern Ireland, but I can’t remember. But he was hitting 50, 55 mile an hour. And once I get over 40, 45 mile an hour, then I’m starting to panic a little bit. So I can’t keep up with him downhill. And then when he hits the flat, he just maintains that speed, and I’m having to chase him down. When he hits a hill, then he slows down, gravity really pulls on him. But on the flat we can we can bowl along and I’ve said to him ‘look what we got to do, we will look at riding 8 hours a day, at about 12 and a half miles an hour average. For the first few days, let’s see how we get on. If we can pick up the pace a little bit, we’ll do that. But we really aiming to say we’re gonna be in the saddle every day for 22 days for 8 hours. That’s what we’re going to do. And if we can stick to 12 and half, 13 mile an hour, we should be flying. I mean, the real difficulty of that challenge is not 100 mile and then next day hundred mile it’s 6 days down the line, a 100 miles. Remember, he’s using his arms to power his bike. But you know, it’s a challenge to what’s the point of doing the challenge of is not going to push you? And it looks absolutely beautiful, the cities in the area we’re going through. Looks absolutely gorgeous. We have a support group, two guys. Yeah, it looks absolutely gorgeous.

Carlton Reid 30:31
Yeah, Budapest, Vienna. Yeah, looks lovely, does’t it? Lots of I can see.

I mean, you’re basically going through a lot of river valleys there.

Steve Craddock 30:41
We go along the Loire.

Carlton Reid 30:42
You look so you get to the

Steve Craddock 30:44
Yeah. And we end up but we will go through the Danube and whatever. So it literally is following the river valleys. And it to me it just seems you know, I mean, the challenge isn’t isn’t, you know, mean, it’s not a massively hilly route. I mean, it’s a getting on a bike every day for 22 days. And seeing how Lee’s body manages. So yeah, we’re callng it the 2020 Challenge, or Cycle2Recovery.

Carlton Reid 31:10
That’s in May, is it?

Steve Craddock 31:13
Two thousand and twenty miles in 2020, two veterans cycling to raise £20,020 for Help For Heroes.

Carlton Reid 31:26
And I believe Steve, I believe you’re the biggest fundraiser for Help For Heroes.

Steve Craddock 31:33
Individual, yeah, individual fundraiser. Yeah, in in the charity’s history. But it’s because it’s been it’s been, it’s what really what made me better. You know, that’s simple fact. It just made me, that’s been my recovery. And I will continue doing it. Because I enjoy raising money for them. I enjoy my cycling. I enjoy putting events on. In fact, in on the first of November, I’ve got Mark Beaumont, you know, Mark Beaumont, who broke the world record for cycling around the world in 78 days and 14 hours. And I’ve got him down here to do a talk on that ride. And the other things he’s done like the World Penny Farthing Record and cycling the length of Africa, world record holder. So he’s gonna come down and that’s another event in in support of Help For Heroes. So he’s going to come and do that, which is excellent, he’s also agreed to be one of the patrons of the ride. And along with Dame Kelly Holmes, our double Olympic gold medal, middle distance runner. So yeah, it’s we’re just trying to push it so we can get beyond the £14,000 and hit the half million.

Carlton Reid 32:46
And what does Help For Heroes? What does that do with all that cash? Describe its work.

Steve Craddock 32:51
Its work is based around recovery.

When a guy comes back from a war zone, or an accident, while he’s serving, or whatever, and he severely injured, maybe an amputee or he’s got a crush injury or whatever, the first thing they’ve got to do is rehabilitation. And they go to the defence rehabilitation centre, there’s a new one, I can’t remember where it is, but it’s somewhere in the Midlands. And where they are, if they’ve got to use prosthetics, they’re shown how to use the prosthetics get fitter, and stronger. So that they can operate with prosthetics, because if you’re, if you’ve been your legs come off above the knee, you’ve got to learn a different way of walking. So they have to get fit and going to so that’s rehabilitation, Help For Heroes comes in on the recovery pathway. Because once that’s been done, and you you you’re walking again or you’re operating, we’ve got a huge amount of problems, from there, recovering from the mental trauma, and everything that goes with being severely injured or having mental injuries because of what you’ve seen. So Help For Heroes is there to support guys through that, that pathway. And one of the big things they do is sports recovery. Because they’ve found that if you can get people stronger and fitter, they feel better if you get them cycling, and cycling with other people because sometimes some of these guys can feel quite isolated. If they’re cycling, and these are girls as well like it when I say guys I do mean guys and girls, it’s not just the blokes, but they feel better about themselves and they’re sharing their experiences, some may need some education or other courses that will help them with move through into Civvy Street and whatever but that money is spent at our four recovery centres where guys and girls can go to their run courses and everything like that to enable them in their future lives which the vast majority will be out of the military to be able to move over the light and live a full and productive and healthy life.

Carlton Reid 34:57
See it is a charity that I know about – my dad was actually he was pensioned out of the army in the 1950s. He was there he was actually stationed in Germany, this is after the war, obviously. And and he was blown up in a in a gas station, in a petrol station explosion when he was driving a petrol tanker and he survived but he was in hospital for many, many months with with serious burns. And now obviously Help For Heroes didn’t exist back then but he’s been through that rehabilitation process when it wasn’t quite as as formal and as you know, helped with Help For Heroes right now. So you know, he’s very aware of that, that charity and the cycling angling for me, I’m very aware of the charity.

Steve Craddock 35:52
There are many sports that that Help For Heroes use to enable people to recover from their physical and mental injuries. But cycling’s been one of the biggest one. Of course, that’s our our premier event of the year is the Big Battlefield Bike Ride where we cycle through the battlefields of France and Belgium. And you know, mean, earlier on this year, just after I’d come back from cycling from Lusaka to Victoria Falls, we did this year’s Big Battlefield Bike Ride. And that again with this year was Normandy to Paris. And so Help For Heroes has built up over the years this thing of cycling in it and so many guys have taken up on it, because it’s relatively easy to get into, you don’t need a massively lightweight bike, you just need something that’s decent, that you can get out on and you can ride. And the beauty of it is is because you’re outside you’re moving your body, you’re talking to people, you know, you’re you can just go out and enjoy being out in the fresh air. And I think a load of what cycling is about is it is that, it’s being out in the fresh air and hearing and listening and smelling different things and that sort of thing. It’s more than just riding the bike and getting fit. It gives you so much more. And you know to me, you know, I average even if I’m pushing it harder, I might average 15 mile an hour. So I’m no fast bloke or anything, but I don’t care. I don’t care. I love cycling. And I just try and encourage as many people as possible to come along in and join us and get the benefit of what cycling is given to me.

Carlton Reid 37:41
Thanks to Steve Craddock there. He can be found on twitter at Cycle2 recovery, which is ‘cycle’ two the number two to recovery. And he has a justgiving page which I will place in the shownotes which, as always, can be found at www.the-spokesmen.com. Thanks for listening to today’s show. The next one will be out in a week or so and features the Bartali 180, a new long-distance, one-day bike ride. Meanwhile, get out there and ride.

September 15, 2019 / / Blog

EPISODE 225

Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast

Sunday 15th September 2019

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

Carlton downhilling in The Epic Bikepark Leogang.

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS:

Katharina Auer, downhill mountain biker and marketing for Saalfelden Leogang tourist board, Austria

Nico helped me nail some berm-riding techniques

Nicolas Wegs, downhill racer and mountain bike instructor, The Epic Bikepark Leogang

TOPIC: Riding–and learning–in The Epic Bikepark Leogang, Austria, venue for the 2020 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Championships.

TRANSCRIPT

Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to Episode 225 of the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast. This show was recorded on Sunday 15th of September 2019.

David Bernstein 0:23
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/the spokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.theFredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the- spokesmen.com. And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:08
Hi there. I’m Carlton Reid. And this show is a mountain bike special recorded last week in the Epic Bikepark Leogang, Austria. I scared myself witless tearing down some world class downhill trails. But at least my technique was a little bit better than usual. Because I had some pre ride lessons from 20 year old Nico, one of the bike parks full time instructors. I mentioned Nico’s age, because I’ve been mountain biking for the best part of 35 years. That’s a long time. But you’re never too old to learn new stuff. And Nico taught me how to ride berms higher and faster than I’m used to. And instead of slinking back on the bike during a root- strewn descent, he showed me how I’d have more control of the front wheel by keeping my centre of balance over the bottom bracket.

This episode of the Spokesman Cycling Roundtable podcast is brought to you from Leogang in Austria, which is mountain bike Mecca, and I’ve been riding in the Epic Bikepark, but right now I’ve just had breakfast at the Mama Thresl hotel, which is a boutique hotel, wonderful hotel, in Leogang and at the back of the balcony here at the hotel are a bunch of cows because they are munching on grass right in front of me. You might be able to hear the sound of cows moving and munching and right up above them are the Steinberg mountains, so Stein/stone, Berg/mountains, and that’s the foreground really to all the mountain biking that you do in this area. So this is the Saalfelden-Leogang area. And I can see the cow is actually quite full of milk. Local milk. So the breakfast I had today was said it was all local and you couldn’t get much more local than these cows. Anyway, the Saalfelden-Leogang area is as I said before a mountain bike Mecca. Now I’ve been a mountain biker since 1984. Yesterday, I had my first ever bike lesson. And Nico, who’s not a local downhiller, but he’s from Germany, but he is an expert downhiller and he took me out on some of the amazing trails here at in The Leogaqng Bike Park, the Epic Bike Park has been renamed that and I can I can see why it’s called that it’s pretty steep. So it was it was very much out of my comfort zone on many of the steeps, so Nico taught me some stuff that I probably will have never been taught before. Especially on berms, and how to ride berms, and there are a tonne of berms here in Leogang. And he then took me out on the on the trails. And I didn’t crash, I didn’t kill myself. I survived much to my surprise on a on a rental bike from the resort. And even though I’ve been riding for the best part of 35 years, I learned loads. So after yesterday’s wonderful day in the Leogang Bike Park, I came back to the hotel and went in Mama Thresl’s unbelievably scenic spa I’ve ever been in – that’s a car leaving the hotel, there’s not cows – the most scenic spa I’ve ever been in. So the sauna is just got this amazing vista of the surrounding mountains. Incredibly hot sauna. And what a great way to to unwind after a hard session on the Leogang Bike Park. But now right now, I’m off to meet Katharina Auer who is the Saalfelden-Leogang bike expert. And she is at the Bike Festival, which is an annual event here and I’m going to chat to her there.

Katharina Auer 5:44
I’m Katharina Auer, marketing manager at the Tourism Board Saalfelden-Leogang.

Carlton Reid 5:50
Okay. Well, thank you for meeting me

today. Because we are sitting in the stands we can hear

5:56
the gondola

Carlton Reid 5:57
going over mountain bikers coming back, and then some bike washing in the background. And also across the road there. You’ve got a bike festival going on. So tell me first about the bike festival. what’s what’s happening there?

Katharina Auer 6:11
The Bike Festival is taking place the second time this year. And there are about 80 exhibitors who present the bikes from next year already. And you can actually also test them. So this is kind of the big thing here. You can just come around, test the new bikes from next year and then ride them next year.

Carlton Reid 6:32
Eurobike has just finished. So bikes from there have come

here and now you can test them. Yeah,

perfect. And that

6:44
costs or that people just come along and

Katharina Auer 6:46
just come along. They can test bikes, they can test backpacks, they can take part in enduro races, or pumptrack races – its festival for the whole family.

Carlton Reid 6:59
Now, tell me your background. So you, you are from promoting the mountain biking here and you also a mountain bike yourself?

Katharina Auer 7:06
Yeah. Well,

I’ve worked in tourism boards for seven years now. And taking over the mountain bike marketing and also product development in the region for a couple of years. And I’m a biker myself. So basically, just perfect job.

Carlton Reid 7:25
Wonderful. And do you get out on the trails? Like at the end of the day? How do you or do you like you’re always in the office, you can never get out.

Katharina Auer 7:32
Now? Well, I try to get out as often as possible. So just catching the last gondola up on the mountain and then doing for example, the new Steinberg Line by Fox, which is a really nice flow line. And a long run so good run in the evening and or in the afternoon after work.

Carlton Reid 7:51
So how long is that particular trail, how long is that from the top?

Katharina Auer 7:55
It’s 10 kilometres long approximately. So we didn’t finally measured yet because it was just finally opened. A couple of weeks ago. We had a lot of snow this winter. So everything got to be delayed with building all the new trails. But I think everyone loves it. And kids can go on it the whole family can go on it. And even experts are having fun it.

Carlton Reid 8:19
You’d have to be pretty good kid to go down that. But then again, he here, I’m guessing you’re going to have lots of very good kids from a very early age, because you’ve got an amazing world class facilities here.

Katharina Auer 8:31
Yeah, well, we try to instruct kids and beginners of all ages, like you learn skiing in winter. So you start with the carpet, down in the valley, just doing small trails with the bikes cool. Then you go on a T bar. And when you’ve done that, you go up in the mountain. And so it just takes away all your fear. And you can learn downhill biking, safe in safe way.

Carlton Reid 8:58
What about schools, local schools do they have as part of our lessons that they have mointain bike lessons, and then ski lessons later on.

Katharina Auer 9:06
And we are actually developing a bike club right now trying to get more kids into mountain biking just like they do skiing in the winter. It’s kind of a cooperation between the cable car company, the bike school volunteers Tourism Board, trying to motivate kids to go biking.

And one of the big motivating things I guess coming up and I know there’s it’s very big here is what’s happening next year. Yeah. Well, you tell me what’s what’s happening next year?

9:38
Well, we are hosting the Downhill Mountain Bike World Championships for the second time next year in September. We’re really looking forward to it. We’ve been hosting loads of World Cup events in last years. So yeah, I’m excited already. To see as many people as possible coming here.

Carlton Reid 10:03
That was my next question. How many people are you expecting to crowd into into Leogang next year?

Katharina Auer 10:09
Well, we had on the World Cup events we had about 25,000 over the whole weekend, in the last years, and I guess it’s World Championship. So it’s going to be even more people being excited about the sport,

Carlton Reid 10:25
There is a very, very extreme World Championship route already out there, which you can you can right now. But that is being changed, you’re going to have a brand new route rail for next year.

Katharina Auer 10:41
It’s going to be probably going to be the same course. We always every year trying to make some adaptations, building new things, changing the route slightly. So we see it’s going to be a surprise for everyone.

Carlton Reid 10:56
And when people who come here when mountain bikers come here for like that week holiday as part of that, the World Championships coming to watch that they can ride all of the trails at the same time, or will there be that that World Championship route will be closed off to them for that week?

Katharina Auer 11:15
Well, the World Championship route of course is closed and couple of trails which cross the World Championship track, of course. But anyway, there are a lot of trails open still. So you can just plan your day go hiking, watch the world championships, go to a concert in the evening. go biking on one of the single trails also which are outside of the bike park or even do yeah, I don’t know, pedal up in the morning, if you want to.

Carlton Reid 11:49
And to tell me about the lift access, so you can hear they get the gondola here behind us. But you’ve got this too. So there’s two lifts up from the from the town.

Katharina Auer 11:57
Yeah, this was one of the innovations this year as well. Well that we opened a second cable car all the way to the top, on the weekends from Thursday to Sunday. And the cable car is actually open from mid May till beginning of November, which is a really long season. So every single day. So yeah, you can go biking and then start skiing right away. Probably we we even had this this Easter because Easter was quite late so people could ski to the middle station and then biking a bike park, from middle station down into the valley.

Carlton Reid 12:35
And you’re already attracting an international audience here. I mean, Leogang is famous around the world. And you see that from your figures, you can see that you’ve got – where’s your biggest overseas markets

Katharina Auer 12:50
Well, it’s actually the UK because of the biking, probably this is one of the main reasons and also when not overseas would be for example, Czech Republic because they are really sports interested. And then of course first places is always Germany and Austria. Those are the main people coming here, but we can see an increasing. Yeah, UK people for example.

Nicolas Wegs 13:21
Just watch where am I going in the berm, most people go straight into it. But we want to go as high as possible. Right in front of the berm. Okay?

Carlton Reid 13:48
Nico? What’s your full name?

Nicolas Wegs 13:51
I’m Nicolas Wegs . I’m from Germany from West Germany next to the border of the Netherlands.

Carlton Reid 14:01
And you I mean, I’ve been I’ve been mountain biking for Well, I’m not gonna do the arithmetic here. But since 1984. And this is the first time I’ve ever had a lesson on how to mountain bike.

So how old are you?

Nicolas Wegs 14:18
I’m 20 years old.

Carlton Reid 14:19
Okay, so I’ve been mountain biking roughly double your life.

But you know far more than me even though because you’re an instructor Yes,

Nicolas Wegs 14:29
yes, I am a bike guide since for years

14:33
and before this for years, I was racing downhill

Carlton Reid 14:37
So describe Nico where where we are right now because we are in a we’re in a little cabin. We’re going up the mountain but behind us describe what what mountains Am I seeing there? Nico, we are in Leogang. Yeah, we’re living in Austria. But what are those mountains there behind us?

Nicolas Wegs 14:53
This mountains right there called the Steinberger. So it’s translated should call stone mountains. Yeah. Just because not necessarily which whether you will always see this big rocks. In the winter, there’s no snow just rocks.

Unknown Speaker 15:14
And this is the the Leogang Epic. Nothing has now been changed. The name has been changed.

Nicolas Wegs 15:19
Since this year. It’s called the Epic Bikepark Leogang.

Carlton Reid 15:22
Yes. And this is going to be the venue in 2020. Of The World Championships. Yeah, right. So that’s what that’s what the leading up to here. Yeah. You said there is a world championship course here, which we’re not going to do Nico,

Nicolas Wegs 15:35
Just over here is the World Cup track, the Downhill World Cup track? Since I think 10 years already. And next year, they are the world championships and the data.

Carlton Reid 15:46
Okay, what’s what’s siren we’re hearing? We’re hearing what’s what’s that?

Nicolas Wegs 15:49
Let’s look on the clock. Okay, it’s thinking, I hope it’s a test alarm, which is

once a month, I think,

Carlton Reid 16:00
telling us telling us what, what if it went normally, what would it be telling us

Nicolas Wegs 16:06
It would tell us that is something wrong, but it would tell the rescue team that they should go somewhere and rescue something. And someone

Carlton Reid 16:19
Describe what we’ve got here in the Bikepark here. And I can describe it. And then there’s lots of North Shore, chicklen wire. These look pretty extreme from my point of view, it would, it would scare me coming down some of these but you’ve got I mean, we have lots of steep ground here. So many of the routes down can be for beginners, or is this all really for experts, and pros?

Nicolas Wegs 16:42
Much tracks are already for beginners. So we got I think 13 tracks in Leogang. For from the top to the middle station. And from the middle station to the bottom, we got all the rest of the tracks. From the top station to the middle station, we got the Steinbeck line, which is the first track we’re riding with beginners. And then the Hotshots line is, which is the flow line with big tables, big jumps, big berms, and the Hangman I, which is by technical step downs, many rocks many roots. And from the middle stage, and we got the Flying Gangster and the World Cup track, which this one we can see from the gondola

Carlton Reid 17:22
And you’re not going to take me on those, no?

where you get it where you gonna take me because I’m, I’ve been doing it for a long time. But as you can see, because you were teaching me today, I’m not the best mountain biker in the world. So where you going to take me?

Nicolas Wegs 17:36
We’re going to ride the Steinbeck line from the top station to the middle station. And after this one, we’re going to go to the Flying Gangster, which is this route saw down there. But the other part is not that difficult, like down there. And then I think we’re going to go to the Schwartzleo trail, which is a nature-based trail, and not very much shaped and not this flow line. Like, yeah.

Carlton Reid 18:04
And how much is it costing people to get into the bike park and then rent a bike and then then and then rent somebody like you? What do people would have to pay for that?

Nicolas Wegs 18:14
Okay, in the beginning, we need a lift ticket, which is around about 30 euros per day. And if we want to go with the downhill bike, so not this bike not this bike, but the downhill bike will cost you around 100 euros a day. And private lessons at the bike school costs 65 euros per hour. And 20 euro plus if you want to get a friend into it or something if you if you’re more people than one it’s 20 euro more

Carlton Reid 18:49
per person. Is that normal for you than to do what you’re doing because you got your day, Nico. I’m very lucky. Is that normal? Or do you just literally go out for some day?

Nicolas Wegs 18:59
Mostly we got bigger groups like group training, which is not this expensive. So you’re paying like the same price for the whole day. But you have a group of six to eight people. And yeah, just private lessons over the whole days. Not the usual day for me.

Carlton Reid 19:18
And then we have got some events happening this weekend. So there’s a there’s a bike festivals and more. More mountain bikers are expected to come in this weekend. Yeah,

Nicolas Wegs 19:29
There are really two big events in Leogang. The first one in June is the World Cup of the Downhill and now this event is the Bike Festival which is with was already in Ria del Garda and Wlling in Germany now it’s the last stop and we got enduro races, mountain bike races since until two years ago, there was a European downhillcup here too, theere are kids’ races, theres an Expo area so quite big event. Yeah,

Carlton Reid 20:03
Because I can’t see many mountain bikers here now because we are we are midweek but also it’s a huge, huge area. So I guess mountain bikers will be spread everywhere.

Nicolas Wegs 20:14
Yeah, if you go down to the gondola station, you will see okay, now today, many people on the track. But on the track itself, you won’t see this much biker because we have 13 tracks and split up quite well.

Carlton Reid 20:28
So we’re now going through the mittel station, mid station. And we are going to go all the way to the top. Yes, yes.

Nicolas Wegs 20:36
Right. So we could go out here and ride the Hangman to the downhill track and many other tracks but we going up just because we have much more fun and much more to ride if we go all the way to the top. And what

Carlton Reid 20:51
are they cabins do we have here was this this is we now have the cabin. That’s it for the bike park or there are other means of getting up to the top?

The Asitz gondola was until last year the only way to go up the hill. And since last year, you can go up the hill from Thursday to Sunday on the Steinbeck vantu. It starts one kilometre down the road and ends up on the same level and it’s the same point as this one. So it’s not not important if you take this one or the other one you will get up to the same point.

And why are you here? What are you doing? Because you were telling me before that you’re a student, you’re doing mechanical engineering, but this is something that you do in the holidays, you you you you’re qualified by guide and then you come and do this in your in your holidays.

Nicolas Wegs 21:44
Yes, just because I love to teach something I can do and I love to see it if people get what I want them to do. So have a smile after the lesson I’ve done wanting to do

Carlton Reid 22:02
And have you mountain biked in many places in the world?

Nicolas Wegs 22:05
Yeah, just as I said just before I started guiding here leaving I raced for three or four years and raced European downhill cups, German downhill cups, and local downhill cups …

All over Europe to race my bike. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 22:28
And now we’re getting very steep again here. So this is the mid station and then it’s basically from the bottom it’s 16 and a half minutes all the way to the top. What kind of height are we going up to?

Nicolas Wegs 22:41
We start around 800 metres of height down there and we’ll end up at under 2000 metre height

Carlton Reid 22:53
Okay, and what is the season here when when does it start and when does it finish?

Nicolas Wegs 22:58
You can ride your bike here in Leogang from May to the end of October. And it depends on how much snow days and if there’s much snow in October they close up earlier if there are no snow in October maybe you can go and ride your bike until November.

Carlton Reid 23:16
So just describe this compared to other places where you have mountain biked What is special about here?

Nicolas Wegs 23:26
I think the most special part of Leogang is that you only have this one gondola and have this much tracks for example in comparison to Saalbach which is on the other side of the hill, you have five or six gondolas and less drag so you going around the city all the time to go into the gondola and here in Leoganf you can go with a gondala and you have all these tracks right in front of you.

Carlton Reid 23:51
And then if you are much more sedate mountain biker and not a downhiller roundabout you have many many trails for just cross country cycling you don’t have to come into the into the park you can go on the trails which are free.

Nicolas Wegs 24:08
Yeah, for example, you can just get one ride with the gondola and many many trails around Leogang and many many tours. Even for beginners you can do like the panorama trail panorama to which is mostly on forest streets. And it’s getting difficult more difficult and more difficult until you doing for example the big five so you can get your big five ticket go up this gondola and too big to around this five highest mountains around and you’ll end up here again.

Carlton Reid 24:48
You saying before that you like these conditions because we’ve had some rain overnight. So it’s it’s stickier, it’s less dusty so this is what you prefer these are the conditions for you ideal conditions

Nicolas Wegs 24:59
Yeah, I love these conditions firstly because there are no people in the Bikepark so you have the tracks for your own and if there’s rain overnight and it’s dry over the day there’s not this loose gravel in the berms so it’s much more grippy, the roots starts to dry so you have enough grip to read over roots and yeah, just I said by focus for your own know people out there and you’re the best conditions to ride.

Carlton Reid 25:28
And a bit of a pro tip there is don’t touch any of the wires because they are electrified day I presume with me because this is a very agricultural area so to keep the cows out and I’m I can see that as we’re just going over some sheep. Yeah. So the wires are to keep the livestock in not to stop the mountain bikers going off-piste.

Nicolas Wegs 25:49
Yeah, right, the wires up just for keeping the the animals inside the area. So some of the tracks for example, Hangman 1 is going through areas through the area of animals. So is it possible to drive over the track and at any point there is a cow in the middle of the track. So on top of the hill, there’s a sign Be careful of animals, Be careful of cows or sheeps, or even horses or something. So

yeah, you have to give way for animals.

Carlton Reid 26:22
Thanks to Nico and Katharina there of the epic Bike Park, Leogang in Austria. You can find out how and when to get there at www.BikePark-Leogang.com and Nico’s photos of me nailing if you can say that way – nailing some downhills can be found at the same place where you can access this podcast’s shownotes, which is, as always, at www.the-spokesmen.com Now, the next episode of the Spokesmen Roundtable Cycling podcast is road-bike themed as I ride – I’m a lucky guy- as I ride the Bartali 180, a 125-mile ride from Florence in Italy to the hilltown of Assisi.

This was the first of an annual pilgrimage ride celebrating the World War Two heroism of Tour de France winner Gino Bartali. Meanwhile, get out there and ride …

August 11, 2019 / / Blog

Episode 224

Council’s Injunction To Stop Cyclists Assembling At Cycle Cafe Could Go National (see UPDATES below for the latest information on this fluid situation).

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

Sunday 11th August 2019

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS:

Lee Goodwin, owner of Velolife cafe
Cycling UK’s campaigns head Duncan Dollimore
And – via DMs – barrister Martin Porter QC

TOPIC:

Berkshire cycle cafe Velolife & six local cycling clubs have been served with scary legal letters to stop cyclists assembling because of an alleged noise nuisance. What’s being done about this, and can such absurd over-reactions spread elsewhere in the UK?

Road.cc article

The Lady Harberton case of 1899

Telegraph article

NOTE: In the intro to the audio I made a mistake – it’s Lee Goodwin not Lee Martin. Sorry about that. The transcript has been corrected.

UPDATES

New: The elected leader of Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council Simon Dudley has visited Velocafe and gave his support. Some common sense to be engaged soon, then?

THE LATEST …

Joint statement on behalf of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, British Cycling and Cycling UK: Velolife Cafe

Friday, 16th August 2019 (about lunchtime)

Yesterday the council held very constructive talks with representatives from British Cycling and Cycling UK, who represent many cyclists and cycling clubs in the UK

The aim of the talks was to look for a pragmatic solution that gives clubs and cyclists clarity regarding the council’s position on Velolife Cafe.

Following the meeting, the council are pleased to confirm that they will not be taking any action against cycling clubs or individuals who use the facilities at Velolife Café and apologises for suggesting that they might. Letters sent to cycling clubs indicating that legal action might be considered have already been withdrawn.

All three organisations will continue to work with the café owner, the freeholder, and local people to ensure that the business is able to continue while respecting the rights of nearby neighbours.

It has never been the council’s intention to stop a local business from thriving or prevent groups from enjoying the facilities at the café. However, in its role as a local authority the council must consider the rights of local residents. The council hope that with the support of British Cycling and Cycling UK we will be able to strike the right balance for all concerned.

Duncan Sharkey, managing director at the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, said: “I am pleased that we have been able to hold these very constructive talks with British Cycling and Cycling UK.

“Ensuring that the café and those who want to use its facilities are able to continue, while respecting the rights of those who live nearby has proven tricky. However, I hope that by working together we will find a solution everyone is happy with.”

Colin Walker British Cycling’s lead cycling delivery manager said:

“First and foremost, we’re delighted that the threat of legal proceedings against cycling clubs for using the Velolife café on their weekend rides has been lifted.  Hats off to the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead for meeting with us to discuss this issue, recognise the mistake that had been made in raising the possibility of legal action, and withdrawing the letters sent to clubs.

“We know that cyclists in the region really value the Velolife café as a place to visit on their weekend rides, so we certainly hope that the café and council can engage constructively to ensure that the planning issues that have been raised can be resolved. We’ll continue to talk with all concerned and do our bit to help achieve a positive outcome”.

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK said: “Cycling clubs and their members shouldn’t be concerned about legal proceedings if they stop at a particular café, so we’re relieved that the council has now confirmed that it will not take any such action.

“Given the council’s willingness to meet with and listen to representations from both Cycling UK and British Cycling, and then review their position regarding the cyclists attending Velolife, we hope a swift resolution to the planning dispute concerning the café can also be achieved.

“We spoke with Velolife’s owner Lee Goodwin this morning, and will continue to liaise with him, local clubs and the Council to ensure that this much loved and thriving local business can continue.”

HOWEVER …. A NEW STATEMENT WAS ISSUED AT ABOUT TEATIME ON FRIDAY 16th AUGUST

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns said:

“Yesterday, Cycling UK and British Cycling met with representatives from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.  Subsequently, the Council confirmed that they were happy to withdraw enforcement letters sent to cycling clubs threatening legal action if they attended the Velolife Café.

“In a joint statement issued this morning, the Council then indicated that it would work to ensure that Velolife was able to continue, and that it was not its intention to stop people enjoying the facilities there.

“It is therefore incredibly frustrating and disappointing to have to issue this further statement a few hours later, following discussions with Velolife’s owner Lee Goodwin this afternoon and lengthy email exchanges with the Council.

“Cycling UK was informed a few hours ago that the Council had informed Mr Goodwin today that, notwithstanding their statement that no action would be taken against clubs attending Velolife, Mr Goodwin still needed to ensure that clubs did not use the café as a stop before, during or after organised rides, and that to do so would breach the terms of the draft injunction the Council has sought.

“Accordingly, Cycling UK are obliged to clarify their position, and notify local cycling clubs that whilst their attendance at Velolife will not lead to enforcement action against the club, any such attendance may be considered a breach of planning requirements by RBWM and lead to further action against Mr Goodwin.

“Cycling UK will be discussing matters with Mr Goodwin and considering what further steps need to be taken as a matter of urgency.”

YES, WTAF …


Alternatively:

TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to Episode 224 of the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast. This show was recorded on Sunday 11th August 2019.

0:24
The Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fred cast cycling podcast at www.theFredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at

0:59
www.the-spokesmen.com And now, here are the Spokesmen …

1:09
Carlton Reid
Hi there. I’m Carlton Reid and today we have a fascinating roundtable discussion of an issue that could have potential damaging ramifications for cycling clubs in the UK and the cafes and restaurants they may wish to visit. However, the virtual round table went a bit wonky, and had to be propped up with little bits of pretend cardboard. Let me explain. To record these podcasts I use a Skype-like service called Zencastr, which usually works great. But yesterday while recording three guests in different parts of the UK, who I’ll introduce in a second, Zencastr had some resilience issues. I’ve been able to salvage most of the audio, but you get to hear me dealing with a tech meltdown. Barrister Martin Porter was supposed to be on the show, but Zencastr didn’t like his mic.

2:00
After some valiant attempt using different PCs, the always eloquent Martin was sadly forced to drop out of the show. But I asked him to send me some comments via Twitter DMs, which he did. And I read them out live to my other guests. These were Cycling UK head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore and Lee Goodwin of the Velolife cafe. This cafe in a Berkshire hamlet is famous at the moment because a draft injunction has been served preventing cyclists congregating outside. This is an absurd situation and the absurdity carried through to the recording, because Lee couldn’t hear Duncan and Duncan couldn’t hear Lee. However, I could hear them both. So I relayed messages between the two while I was recording. It worked bizarre, but it worked. When the gremlins started sabotaging the show, I could have called the whole thing off, but I persevered because, as you’ll hear towards the end of the show, this isn’t just something that affects Lee’s

2:59
business, bad though that is, it could potentially prevent cyclists from congregating in groups in public places across the UK. That would be restriction of historic proportions. And that’s why I asked Duncan to start us off with a 19th Century anecdote.

3:16
Carlton Reid

3:18
On today’s show, we’re discussing a bicyclist ban at the Velolife cafe near Henley on Thames in Berkshire and examining whether local authorities and perhaps even the courts have the right to ban cyclists from congregating before or after group rides. Joining me on the show will be Velolife owner Lee Goodwin. And maybe if the technology works because we’ve been having mic problems but if he if we we are able to get him on and maybe even just by text messages because he could hear us but we couldn’t hear him and that would be bicycling barrister Martin Porter QC. Before I attempt to bring

4:00
Martin in and before I speak to Martin, I’d like to talk about the 1890s with Duncan Dollimore, who is head of campaigns at Cycling UK. So Duncan, I’d like you to tell us what happened at the Hautboy pub in Ockham, Surrey, in 1899 and why that may have at least a passing resemblance to the Velolife situation of today.

4:26
Duncan Dollimore

4:26
Well, back in the 1890s people seem to get themselves unusually concerned about what women wore when they went cycling. Many women didn’t want to wear clothes that restricted their movement. They didn’t want to wear long skirts, which made it difficult to ride so the phrase “rational dress” was coined to describe outfits that were there, the favourite outfits of the day, which were Knickerbocker suits, and Lady Harberton was riding what was wearing such a suit when she arrived at the Hautboy Hotel in 1899.

5:01
The plan was to stop for refreshments and luncheon in the hotel. But the proprietor refused her service, such was his indignation about what she was wearing.

5:13
We weren’t Cycling UK as such at that stage, Cycling UK were known as the Cyclists’ Touring Club, and CTC were involved in the legal challenge of that decision. It was a challenge, which unfortunately failed. But it was part of the process of starting to challenge some decisions that were made and challenging efforts to make cycling more difficult for people, which we’re still dealing with today. So although it was a loss of a case, I’m not sure it was an entire defeat. And it’s really strange that 120 years on when we look at Velolife, although the facts are different, there’s still somebody wants it met to make it difficult for another person on a bike to stop off at an establishment and enjoy tea and cake.

6:00
A bit of a future from the past moment when we look at it. And it’s it’s a little sad that we’re still having the same arguments and petty mindedness now, in 2019, that Lady Harberton experienced back in 1899.

6:16
Carlton Reid

6:17
Yes, discrimination. So back in the 1890s, there was discrimination against women, and not not in cycling in general. But this case where we’re discussing today is discrimination against cyclists of any creed, colour, sex, whatever. So at that point, I’d like to bring in Lee and just ask you, could you could you tell us what’s been happening, but start in 2016, right from when you actually started the business.

6:47
Lee Goodwin

6:47
Hi, guys. Um, so in 2016, I took over the premises, which was previously a pub and is still obviously a pub in its entirety as a building and we’ve been

6:59
proceeded to open a cafe. We were under the understanding, possibly in my naivete at the time that we could downgrade the licence from pub to the cafe. And it was highlighted to us by the Council reasonably after that, that that was not the case. And so I took some planning advice and they said that we should apply for a certificate of law from this, which we did. And that was denied.

7:24
The council then issued an enforcement notice for us to cease using the premises as a cafe, a bicycle workshop, for retail and for cycle meeting place within appeal the decision and then spectrum it came back in late 2018, giving use for us as a bicycle cafe as a bicycle workshop, not retail, and then potentially the tricky part. She said that she deemed a cycle meeting place to be to widen its meaning as

8:00
that it could encompass a range of purposes, where she thought the allegation was intended to talk with the use of the land as a place where cyclists meet prior to departing on organised right and event. And she then said you would like to substitute meeting place for cyclists meet and gave a little note on that. That said, a cyclist meet is distinguishable from youth as a cafe. We’re visiting cyclists might be at the premises for the primary purpose of taking refreshments. We thought that was good. And we would have to stop doing our Velolife club right from the premises, which we move down the road and continue to trade allowing cyclists from club rides to come around and take refreshments

8:46
and the situation

8:48
Carlton Reid

8:49
Okay, so this this obviously blew up on Twitter and an awful lot of people have been talking about it. Chris Boardman’s, you know, weighed in.

8:56
All sorts of people have weighed in on this because clearly it is, it is

9:00
bonkers situation.

9:02
Can you describe?

9:05
Can you actually describe where you are as in the locale you in like in your like an in rural area, you’re in a pretty quiet place? Is it the fact that you haven’t got that many houses around you so the complainant must be known to you and must be, you know, in that hamlet?

9:25
Lee Goodwin

9:25
Absolutely. There’s not not a lot of houses down Warren Row and quite a reason it’s a reasonably quiet road. It’s quite a important road because it connects what we call the flats, which go out towards Windsor and Maidenhead and the children’s which start just on the side of family. And so if you look at some Strave data on the heat maps from before does a very well used cycling route. And it’s the closest that of tar road to National Cycle Route fourteen. It’s also on the council’s cycling routes deemed as a quiet route.

10:00
Perfect for all cyclists to us. And we have some residents on the opposite side of us and we have some residents next door and just behind us. And yes, it appears to be a single resident that has filed the complaints.

10:17
Carlton Reid Are you able to say are you able to even intimate that this person might have contacts at the Council influence at the counter, or is at literally one resident and that’s enough to to bring the wrath down on you.

10:30
Lee Goodwin One would like to think that the single reason can’t bring the wrath down on you. However, I’m certainly not aware of any connexion to the council. So I can’t I can’t really say sometimes it appears that way. But I can’t say with any confidence that I know they do or don’t.

10:47
Carlton Reid So let’s bring us up to date because you’ve then had and this is where this is why I brought Martin in. And I have had some text room by the way. So I can even though

11:00
We can’t hear from Martin, we will be able to get Martin’s expert opinion because he has sent me through some messages there. But you put onto Twitter, you put this injunction documents, that’s the latest situation. And Martin and a few other lawyers were saying, well, that’s not actually a physical injunction yet. It’s it’s looked like it’s not dated. It’s not number, it must be some sort of draught injunction. But it’s a very scary document. You look at that and that you’re basically talking about jail time for anybody encouraging.

11:33
Cyclists me so so. So tell me exactly what’s happening. Right. The second time with that, that document you’ve had?

11:41
Lee Goodwin Yes, so that absolutely correct. It’s a draft injunction, which has not yet been obtained by the courts. And as you alluded to Carlton if I wanted, it’s an incredibly scary document. And in particular, for somebody who’s not, you know, overly familiar with the law and it’s quite quite

12:00
scary and the document what it actually asks it pretty much prohibits me to even know about cycles

12:08
that exists in Warren Row. And so yes, it was issued to me we’ve we’ve had the first court hearing regarding it and the next court hearing is in November. And I think what what even more scary and what actually kicked this whole thing off on social media is that draught injunctions will also issued to some cycling clubs in the borough. And they were actually the ones who put that on Twitter, which started this sort of frenzy as such to go around. And I still currently sit with the with the draft injunction and have been told that if I don’t, if I don’t see a marked improvement, then they will possibly seek an interim injunction or stop order.

12:54
Carlton Reid So don’t could bring in bringing you back in in the in the Telegraph and I’m sure in other places where this

13:00
been brought up. You’ve called this an absurd catch 22 situation. So So have you heard of anything like this before apart from the 1899 example?

13:12
Duncan Dollimore

13:12
Well, I described it as a an absurdity of catch 22 proportions. Because the council just don’t seem to hadn’t really thought through what their position is properly, or one level they’re saying that they don’t want to stop cyclists visiting the cafe. But then they go on to say, but They mustn’t arrange or organise any meat starts or ends or stops off there. And the definition of meat seems to include any congregation of people who arrive at establishment who are members are associated with a cycling club, whether they get there by any means carbon or cycle. So what they’re doing is they’re creating this Kafkaesque situation whereby you can technically be in breach of the enforcement notice that’s been serving a particular club

14:00
Because you’re cycling along, joining a ride with two or three other people who have arranged by Twitter or Facebook to stop off at the establishment, and you suddenly become a congregation or or part of the cyclists meet, that stops off the team cake at the cafe, whole thing is Kafkaesque in nature. And it’s a demonstration of have someone in the planning department departments simply not thinking this through. We haven’t come across this exact situation before at least I haven’t have an establishment are putting in these rules and these these sort of very generic descriptions where they they treat people whether by their particular mode of transport, whether they’re a cyclist, a car driver or a Rambler, but it’s indicative of a of an attitude we sometimes see with local authorities on a different manner. We’ve been involved in a number of challenges and one particular legal case where we supported various opponents in Mansfield, where they were challenging the making of what was known as

15:00
public space protection order, or PSP. Oh, and that’s an order that lots of local authorities have used to try and prevent cyclists from entering parts of town centres. So in Mansfield, we had the ludicrous situation where the council’s sought to make a 24 hour a day public space protection order around the entirety of the town centre that was fortunately fortunately varied by them and became a much more restricted arrangement based on an existing traffic regulation order restriction. But a number of local authorities have had that small mindedness where their, their approach to dealing with public life and activities and that’s how centres have been to try and make generic orders banning particular activities, whether it’s skateboarding or cycling, or anything else, such as busking. So we do see this small mindedness from local authorities on a regular basis but not an infrequent basis.

15:59
Carlton Reid Now unfortunately, we’re

16:05
we are having technical problems here in that Martin couldn’t hear us. We couldn’t hear him. Sorry, he could hear us. And unfortunately now, at least I cannot hear you, Duncan. So I can hear everybody. So I’m like omniscient here. Which which is a bit weird. So I’ll I’ll, I’ll kind of summarise that in a bit and and for for the for these purposes because he can’t hear about so Lee I’ll just repeat what some of what Duncan said there it’s just it’s a calf gasket proportions here and is clearly

16:39
absurd what’s happening and at this point I will actually now go through and I’ll mentioned because it has the technical problems but we sort of sorted this word by using text I’m going to actually say what Martin has has has told us so Lee, can you just can you hear me able to hear

17:00
Hear me now, are you? You can hear me. Okay, so you can hear me You just can’t unfortunately you can’t hear Duncan. So Duncan.

17:08
I don’t know what we can do there. We just, I can hear you. But unfortunately cause I missed the seance thing that we’re having problems with anyway. So I’ll do it. I’ll say what

17:16
what Martin was saying, because I thought Martin would be actually would not be able to say stuff on this case because all lawyers all barristers always say, Well, I can’t discuss this particular case. So I’ll put that caveat up there. But I will now just say what Martin’s sent through to me. So this is from Martin. This is Martin’s words, not mine. “My contribution is that the Royal Barough have messed this up badly. I think we can pretty much concur on that. Anyway. There is no planning us categorised as cyclists meet. And the inspector should not have ruled that a meeting requires planning permission. If you have permission, as a cafe or pub or shop etc, etc. People will necessarily

17:59
meet other people. It is not a use sue generis.”

18:05
Carlton Reid Have you got any legal training there, Duncan by any chance?

18:09
Duncan Dollimore What? Yes, I have some legal training and I worked in legal practice for a number of years. And Martin refers to sue generis, I’ll leave Martin to, to deal with the legal technicalities, but broadly, what he’s talking about is sue generis means of its own time. And I think the point Martin’s, and to make is that there isn’t a specific distinction of use for buildings known as cyclists meet. So there’s various types of use that are described in planning law in relation to whether a property is being used as a restaurant or for retail, but there’s nothing which actually defines a particular type of use as a cyclist meet. So anybody else that’s carrying on a type of activity is in the course of that activity, going to meet other people. So I think Martin’s

18:59
questioning the whole that whole use of that phrase, as though it’s somehow a magic term, which can be closely defined. The reality is that we’ve got no idea whether meet relates to an organised event of a specific limited number. And it applies if there’s more than 20 or 30, or 15 or 10 people attending, and it’s arranged and organised in a particular official way, or whether that applies Carlton, if you are I tweet or text and say, we’ll meet up at the Velolife tomorrow we’ll have a ride and then we’ll call in for cake, the whatever it is, and so the whole thing’s become a little bit bizarre and its interpretation. What is however, deeply depressing if we leave aside some of the legal niceties of how you might define an organised event, how you might define what is a cyclist meet, it’s clear that the planning inspector was not seeking to unduly restrict

20:00
This particular that that might want a story strict activities of people who might seek to call in this particular establishment, but the enforcement officers of the local authority have decided to take the most restrictive interpretation of that phrase cyclists make that was possible for them to take. And that’s the really sad and depressing issue here. And it’s why we’re going to have to, as an organisation, look to do something about this to put it very, very bluntly.

20:30
Carlton Reid Yes, crazy. So Lee, you’re going to have to listen to this show back. So you can be able to hear what Duncan was saying. But But Duncan was just telling us there and I won’t repeat everything what what Duncan said, but he’s just giving us exactly what so generous means, and that the phrase is a very woolly phrase, and has now been extended, generally which which is not on. I’ll continue anyway, with with what Martin was saying. So, so after so generous there, Martin said, however,

21:00
“Since this is what the inspector found, and it was not challenged, there is apparently permission to operate as a cafe workshop but not as a cyclist meet. The inspector made clear that there was a distinction between cyclists their primary to use the cafe, and – in inverted commas – “cyclists meet.” So it was apparently the gathering together of cyclists for group rides outside the cafe that she thought she was prohibiting. The proposed injunction I have seen goes way beyond that though, and no court would grant it – it literally means to cyclists on a ride cannot stop at the cafe. And he finishes by saying as Duncan was saying, upset Oh, no, in fact, it doesn’t finish he’s carried on sorry. But he says that’s absurd. Unfortunately, the town hall does have very little affinity for cyclists. The elected councillors may be fine, but the staff at City Hall are the only authority in the area to have held out despise numerous requests from BC

22:00
I’m assuming it means British cycling there against the accredited Marshall scheme for racing and have been quite useless. Always been very. He’s been very unlawyerly here. I’ve been quite useless and doing anything about safe cycling Routes to schools in the bearer. And then he says he’s not going to get a microphone.

22:17
Okay, but we’ve got the gist of what Martin was was was saying there so he’s he’s being a modern is pretty good. He kind of speaks his mind doesn’t he doesn’t hedge his bets at all. So Lee, coming back to you.

22:30
Have you had legal help here? Have you also had representation saying, yeah, that haven’t got a chance in hell here. What What have you had?

22:42
Lee Goodwin – I have had some legal representation. And it all happened very quickly. If I’m completely honest, from being issued. The proposed injunction to going to court was a couple of weeks, not even for us. So it’s all happened very quickly and unfortunately.

23:00
since going to court, my legal representation had pre booked holidays, so is away at the movement. And so although yes, I have had legal representation, and it’s been a little bit challenging over the last week to try and decipher my way through this without them actually being of access. And so yes, they haven’t said this is absurd, but then I’m not sure we’ve quite got that conversation as of yet.

23:27
Carlton Reid So the situation you are in right now you’ve taken some legal representation, you had this this draft injunction shown to you sent to you seven you however draft injunctions work, and you are then waiting for a court case to come up in November. Is that right? Lee Goodwin That’s correct. And in the meantime,

23:54
the Council have told me that if I don’t do as they’ve asked

24:00
Then they will seek to get an interim injunction or a stop order. And so I’m in a little bit of a tricky position because if I continue to trade as I lawfully see I may and then they may seek to do to try and get a further injunction

24:17
and obviously, I think what kicked us all off, really is that they then served drauft injunctions to the clubs, which means not only have they told me I’m not allowed to they’ve been gone and try to stop my customers from coming to the cafe. Once again, it’s it’s rather threatening, especially for us that aren’t involved in law. It’s it’s quite a scary document. Carlton Reid Duncan, can you hear Lee?

24:39
Duncan Dollimore I’m back on. Yes, but I’ve been struggling to hear what Lee’s saying so I’ve been hearing you but not Lee.

24:49
At all of a sudden I can now hear lead but I haven’t heard anything you said since we started this. I apologise if I say anything which contradicts what he’s just said. Carlton Reid So that clearly is a

25:00
And absurd situation. And of course everybody feels for Lee and for Velolife. However, this potentially, Duncan, has ramifications away from Warren Row. And this is why I’m presuming you’re involved, or Cycling UK is involved, because this could involve, if this goes through this, this becomes some sort of precedent and this could happen to many other businesses, not just Lee’s

25:11
Duncan Dollimore

25:27
Well, there’s two wider implications. One is for clubs that have been served with notices threatening club secretaries, with legal proceedings with injunctions with proceedings that can lead to people going to prison.

25:45
And bear in mind, these are people who are volunteers who are organising a local club and getting people to go on a ride or a Saturday or Sunday, so they receiving legal … threatening letters, the council saying you’re not allowed to stop off at this particular cafe.

26:01
So it has implications for them, which discourages people from becoming involved in local community activities and organising groups and organising rides. Because of that, why do I need to bother with this? It’s too much hassle, but it also has implications for other organisations, other businesses, other cafes around the country, where they seek to rejuvenate a failing pub in a local village. They seek to encourage walkers, cyclists, horse riders, whoever it is to attend. And then suddenly they’re facing legal threats from a local authority – it is absolutely bizarre. If you if you rowed this back, this is a pub that failed. It couldn’t make a business couldn’t couldn’t make profits. And somebody came in and try to encourage other people to to attend it. And there are the government’s planning framework is designed to encourage people to

26:59
conduct more than one business, to diversify to encourage other people to, to be engaged in activities, which is exactly what Lee did with this business. And we have the situation where now there are enforcement proceedings being pursued against him

27:14
Carlton Reid

27:15
So Duncan don’t get how much do you think this is kind of like discriminatory against cyclists because motorists can can turn up at this this cafe rev their engines do crazy stuff. Fine, because they’re motorists is not not a problem, but it’s just aimed at cyclists. So is that so? discriminatory? Is it bound to be overturned but it is clearly well discriminatory?

27:42
Duncan Dollimore

27:42
I think it is discriminate discriminatry, but also, I don’t want to sound like the guy that’s constantly defending cyclists or put another way, it’s just stupid to define people by how they might travel on one particular

28:00
occasion. So, you know, it suggests that members of a cycling club shouldn’t assemble there however they travel there, whether they’re travelling by van, car or on a bike. I ride a bike, sometimes go on a train, sometimes drive a car. So if I arrived at this cafe,am I not defined by the fact that I’m in the cycling club? Am I a cyclist? If I arrived there one day and I’m on it by cycle, if I’m a member of a cycling club, do I cease to be a cyclist if I arrived there the next day we have in a van with my bike at the back of the car? It’s just crass stupidity to define people by their mode of travel on a particular day. The reality is that you know, people are people and ramblers, horse riders, people involved in Duke of Edinburgh, cyclists, mountain bikers, people aren’t are attracted to venues that have a particular interest. My partner’s cousin

29:00
owns a local pub a few miles from where I’m living. He’s desperately trying to get ramblers to attend his particular pub and I had a conversation with him about his on the NCN route and is trying to encourage cyclists to go there. And this is a pub that wants to encourage people to get to the village where there’s not much going on. And he doesn’t really care whether it’s the Classic Car Club, or the Ramblers, or the cyclists or the mountain bikers, the horse riders that go there. It just wants some business. And this is what Lee did here. He was trying to encourage people to attend and to divert to people by their mode of travel, and bands them up as cyclists or walkers and horse riders, is just just ridiculously naive and simplistic. Hmm.

29:45
Carlton Reid Now, Lee

29:49
tell us if you can that the actual impact on your business this is having.

29:53
Lee Goodwin

29:55
I will I think you know

29:58
at the crux of this as well as this

29:59
is a community facility which is quite clearly been said in the past when an application was put into turn it into houses, that the inspector actually found that he understood that a pub was a struggle to run there. But he employed the owner to say why don’t you seek another opportunity to have in the pub that could retain the community facility. He was actually quite clear that the the community is quite small and therefore couldn’t support a business in particular pub on its own. So the impact if we were to lose the cyclist coming through would be that the community facility that the previous inspector envisaged should stay and should remain will be lost. The community supports as much as they can, we have regulars from the village in every single day of the week. However, that’s not enough trade to – no fault of their own – they just simply cannot purchase that amount of coffee.

31:00
So in order to retain that, that facility, we have to encourage people to come in from elsewhere. And cyclists are perfect seeing as they were using the road any way. They were coming past that road on their way, why not invite them in? And it seems crazy and going back to what Duncan said it’s, it’s just bizarrely discriminatory, that you could arrive in any amount of any number at any time during our opening hours, by any mode of transport you so choose, except by bicycle, arguably one of the greenest modes of transport around, never mind the health implications that it has and the reduction of you know, use in the NHS and all those things that surround cycling, but it is just so discriminatory that transport should be excluded. And it’s early days yet coming back to your question. Sorry, welcome. I went on a little bit of a tangent there, but

32:00
Coming back, it’s early days yet, and I can categorically say that if clubs are forced not to come past, then the business is simply not sustainable.

32:10
Carlton Reid Lee, have you ever heard of the Barbra Streisand effect?

32:17
Lee Goodwin – Not in particular some explanation.

32:19
Carlton Reid That’s that’s the concept of when somebody

32:26
complains. This goes back to Barbra Streisand. I think it was a helicopter or paparazi who are above her house and she took an injunction out and to stop them. And you know, you must be publicised my house in California, wherever it is. And what that in fact did was every day more to look at her house because oh, what’s so fantastic about your house? And so the Barbra Streisand effect is, whenever anybody you know, raises too much of a complaint. It just raises the fact that there must be something really interesting here. So let’s all do this. So could you potentially be

33:00
Be the beneficiary of the Streisand effect here in that this actually raising your profile, cyclists locally who, you know might not have done that five mile, 10 mile detour to get to you will go, well, let’s all go to Velolife, because that’s clear the happening place at the moment do you do? And if that happened, would you actually get blamed for it?

33:24
Lee Goodwin – Well, it’s, if I’m honest, it was, it was a huge concern of mine for this weekend. Because we’ve done nothing to encourage anything other than what we were allowed to do. And if I’m honest, there was a little bit of concern that we would be inundated with people over the weekend, and that would actually cause

33:43
some more trouble for us. And yes, I guess there is definitely a part of that that could happen. I think that hinges in particular on the outcome of our current situation, and it still remains and as I’ve said from the beginning, it wasn’t actually us that went public.

34:00
At first, it was a club that got served an injunction and rightly so.

34:05
So I could certainly be some of the Barbra Streisand effect that takes place but certainly that wouldn’t be the case unless we can get this sorted.

34:13
Carlton Reid

34:14
Okay. So, Duncan, what’s Cycling UK’s is next step. What’s going to happen from here? We’ve had like partly the PR angle. Is there anything now that can be can be done

34:29
in courts perhaps?

34:30
Duncan Dollimore

34:31
Well, we’ve been contacted by six clubs since Friday afternoon who’ve been served with legal proceedings, so I’ve got to go back to them next week. So I’m not going to say definitively what we’re going to do, but I think it’s fair to say that we are going to be considering what legal steps there are for those particular clubs to challenge the orders well, the threats of action that they received, so well and good the local authority, the council,

35:00
sending some rather conflicting letters saying we don’t really want to pursue proceedings against the clubs, they haven’t withdrawn their legal threats. And so those clubs are still on notice that that exists. You mentioned the Streisand effect. And I really sympathise with Lee’s position because on the one hand,

35:23
it would be a great show of sympathy of 500 cyclists were turning up to attend his cafe. But he’ll be thinking, is that going to lead me to being pursued in court in relationship to this matter? It may well be that a different course of action is that those 500 cyclists are descending on the council’s offices. And so those are some of the things that we’re going to have to be considering next week. But this is not something which should be allowed to continue. So it is it is a matter that we’re going to be chatting about next week to come up with a plan. I don’t think it’s wise for me to say tonight exactly what that plan’s going to be.

36:00
But it’s not something where, where we’re seeking to or planning to just let lie, because this is just a ridiculous decision by a council. And the bizarre thing is there was an opportunity on Thursday this week for the council to say, we’re really, really sorry, we’ve got this wrong. We shouldn’t have been threatening local clubs and cyclists with legal proceedings if they attend this cafe, and they actually made matters worse by by rather implying that if you attended there, you could yourself be somebody who was legally liable to legal proceedings. And in those circumstances, this isn’t something that we as an organisation can just ignore.

36:42
Carlton Reid

36:42
Okay. Now, I think everybody who’s listening to this, this, the Spokesmen podcast will recognise this as absurd. I think people away from cycling circles will think this is absurd. So at some point, I think, Lee your business will get

37:00
back to normal. And you will, you will hopefully get over this because this cannot be allowed to stand for all sorts of different reasons.

37:11
But for now, it does sound as though Cycling UK is on the case it sounds as though your legal representation is on the case and hopefully this will be overturned. But for now, I’d just like to thank you both and to Martin, for being on today’s show.

37:30
Thanks also to you for listening and for subscribing. As always, this show is brought to you in association with Jenson USA. Show notes and more for the Spokesman Cycling roundtable podcast can be found at the-spokesmen.com. That “more” now includes full transcripts with time codes, so you can skip around the recording should you wish. David Bernstein and I have been producing these shows since 2006 and

38:00
We’d appreciate you leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Meanwhile, get out there and ride …

August 7, 2019 / / Blog

Episode 223

Re-Opening Of Britain’s Best Cycleway

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

Wednesday 7th August 2019

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS:

Engineer Stuart Turnbull
Jonah Morris, partnership manager, Sustrans
Peter Calhoun, a Ridley-riding roadie of the North Tyneside Road Club

TOPIC: The re-opening, after a six year refurbishment, of the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels, near Newcastle, northern England. The tunnels were built in 1951.

Forbes article.


Alternatively:

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 223 of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. The show was recorded on Wednesday, August the seventh 2019.

David Bernstein 0:24
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jensen USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jenson usa.com slash the spokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fred cast cycling podcast at WWW dot the Fred cast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesman cycling roundtable podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at W

Unknown Speaker 1:00
www.the-spokesmen.com And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:09
Hey, I’m Carlton Reid. And recently I’ve brought you shows from Sweden and from Idaho in America. But for today’s dose of the spokesmen I stayed rather close to home, yet still managed to visit what I think is probably Britain’s best cycleway. This is inside a tube buried in the silt of the river time near my home in Newcastle. The Tyne pedestrian and Cyclist tunnels in two separate tubes and was sunk into the river 68 years ago. In 2013, the Grade II listed tunnels were closed for refurbishment, cutting off a vital transport link for Tyneside’s, many of whom have been chomping at the bit waiting for the tunnels to reopen. Back in March I

Carlton Reid 2:00
wrote a thumping great article on the refurbishment for forbes.com after I was given early access to the tunnels. They were meant to reopen a few weeks after that, but the ribbon cutting ceremony kept on getting knocked back. Well. today, the tunnels were finally reopened and I rode across there with my tape recorder and my trusty drone to capture some audio and video footage of the day’s event. The video is online already. And I was at a show I speak with three people. The project manager of the refurbishment, a representative from building charity Sustrans and a Ridlet riding roadie who cycled in the tunnel as a taught in 1953 or so.

Stuart Turnbull

I am Stuart Turnbull. And I’m the project manager for the Tyne pedestrian cycle tunnel. And you just told me that this is a labour of love, and I agree it’s a fantastic job you’ve done here. How long

Carlton Reid 3:00
How long yave you been on site? And how long have the people been on site? If maybe that’s different?

Stuart Turnbull 3:07
Yes, it is different.Myself and my team came to site in April 2015, after GB building solutions, who was the original main contractor went into administration. So we were asked if we would come and step in, and see whether we possibly take over the project. The project itself started may 2013. So we’re just past six years that the tunnels have actually been closed. And that six years of doing what I mean, there’s asbestos in here. There was an awful lot that people got surprised at what was here, and that’s why the estimate went up. That’s why the costs went up. The TA went up, everything just went different. Yeah, absolutely. And there is I mean, you know, the initial assessment, we knew there was asbestos in here. We knew that there was some structural deterioration, but because it’s a listed building, you’re limited to how much you can destroy you before you start working. Fortunately, we nobody anticipated a the amount of asbestos

Stuart Turnbull 4:00
The amount of contamination that would cause the this the amount of deterioration once we started lifting structures taken off tiles, the water ingress was much more significant. So everything just escalated from from that point.

Carlton Reid

So this is probably quite accurately on the on the tape here because we are under the Tyne at the moment and there are two tunnels here. So you people tend to say in you know, the cyclists tunnel of pedestrians tunnel but of course it’s two tunnels it’s plural. So just describe what we’re looking at here. Now we are we are where are we now?

Stuart Turnbull

Right right. So we’re stood now just the other portal of the pedestrian tunnels we’re in the pedestrian tunnel and it’s a slightly smaller diameter in the cycle tunnel so that made it slightly bigger for the for the cyclist, but not hugely noticeable. And and what you’re looking down is where we’re still looking towards Jarrow.

Carlton Reid

We’re looking at a steep slope here. So it goes it goes down and goes down goes out and lightens out.

Stuart Turnbull 4:55
Yeah, and there’s there’s a couple of engineering reasons for that. They have to follow the strata and

Stuart Turnbull 5:00
When the best route through, but also for, for the for the drainage because it totals eat water even when they’re brand new. So you have to manage the drainage so so that’s including gets us down to a some by the waters then pumped out up to the surface as well. So there’s an engineering need for it.

Carlton Reid

We’ve got about half an hour before people are allowed in so this is first time in six years people are allowed to come in so I’m guessing there’s not going to be hordes coming through. But this in its day and that is peak. So it was built 1951 in like 1960s it was 20,000 people a day. What are you projecting for people coming through walking and cycling? Do you have any idea?

Stuart Turnbull

We’ve all discussed this and obviously there’s we know there’s a lot of interest because whatever there’s anything released about it. We get a lot of commentary. There’s been a lot of interest about a day the the amount of press that come to see the opening. We know there’s interest there. And we really just don’t know I mean, we could be looking at dozens we could be looking at hundreds we could be at the thousands certainly maybe in the light the first three or four weeks.

Stuart Turnbull 6:00
We purposely wanted to try and get it back open, because there’s some holidays as well, because we thought, there’s a chance that families will be off, they want to bring the children down. And and I know and I’ve been telling people that I’ve been involved this project, a lot of people don’t even know that there’s a total here that did that they know about the traffic to another, all driven through it, but a lot of people didn’t know. So I hope these kind of events and the coverage going forward will really put it back on the agenda. And people can come and see this fantastic, which is an industrial heritage asset for the Northeast industrial heritage. It was done really well back in the day, the 1950s. And I still describe this as probably watching the pedestrian tunnel in the place in total now, but of course, next to us is the slightly wider as you say, cyclists tunnel. I still described that as probably Britain’s best cycle infrastructure, even though it’s, you know, was built in 1951. But it’s an incredibly impressive infrastructure back then, even still today. Certainly, back that it wasn’t I mean, it was it was this was the first dual purpose

Stuart Turnbull 7:00
pedestrian and cyclist tunnel on the block to pedestrian tunnels right? That was the first time they’ve done a dual purpose one so it was quite significant in its time as well. And and yes we do we just we haven’t spent all this time to do this we just want to see it used we want people to enjoy it when people will put it on their bike to work routes and and bring families down make it part of a route from Newcastle Quaysideside down through the tunnel and back again. We want people to enjoy it and use it.

Carlton Reid

So when it was built, it was for the shipyards on both sides of the river, the shipyards are long gone. And now this is mostly you think can be used for leisure or do you envisage people using this you know, at three in the morning to get to work at four what how do you think it’s generally

Stuart Turnbull

I mean, again, once we close so long we don’t we don’t actually know but what we do know is that we’ve run a shuttle bus so there’s still being a means to cross the time whether on foot on a bicycle. And and whilst not thousands of people It has been regularly news and the peak times mornings in

Stuart Turnbull 8:00
we get commuters who are doing it and some slightly outside of that. But then we do get a lot of leisure cyclist as well. So you’re right. I mean, we haven’t got the same industry on the banks of the time as we did. But I also think things like cycling have got a bigger profile now even probably the last six years, things like the Tour de France and that come into the UK and I guess it’s part of the work that once once I finished the purely technical building construction side of it, that that will be picked up as well and promoted and we’ll move on so students here today and and they’re very keen to get that promoted again on their site on networks. So so it’s that kind of coverage that we want to say, hey, if you don’t know about it, this is what’s here. If you do come down, you’re in for a treat, because it’s quite unique.

Carlton Reid 8:44
And say make it part of allegedly ride the weekend with the family. Now the Italian lifts that the left the inclined lifts aren’t working yet. When When are they going to be work because they look pretty trend in these glass. Absolutely. Glass lifts but they’re not working. No and unfortunately, that’s the biggest

Stuart Turnbull 9:00
Point and but we made a major decision that will have been working. We have had them operational, but it’s just the testing commission and part of it and the Italians have just been struggling to get that final bit right. And unfortunately, Italy shuts down for most of August it’s a it’s a national holiday and we were told in July if they’re not ready by then we’ll we’ll be off site for most of August. So as you can see all the other construction workers finished. We have the decision do we wait and post another two month delay? Or do we just get it open? And I think the whole team said no, let’s get it open. And and let people share it, share it and see it again as it is. So I think it’s the right decision. Personally, I would say that but I think it’s the right decision to to open it and get people to to look in and see what it’s about.

Jonah Morris

I am Jonah Morris, partnerships manager for Sustrans. So we have got on dirt on the outside here. We’ve got the Hadrian cycle way we have what kind of infrastructure Have you got around the tunnel? So it’s going south

Jonah Morris 10:00
Links through to NCN 14 which will take you down to Darlington and coming North it links to 72 so Hadrian cycle way which goes coast to coast and also National Cycle network route one as well. So Dover to Shetland Isles under the river.

Carlton Reid

You’ve currently got an over river option with the ferry that you’ve now got over and under options so it’s been quite a major dislocation for the past six years not having the tunnel three because yes, you can go across on the ferry, but it is does take longest very nice on the ferry, but this is just your cycling through. It’s a fantastic bit of infrastructure. So this is gonna be a key missing link.

Jonah Morris

In effect. It is yes. And you know, every piece of research shows that people want segregated infrastructure as well and what better example of segregated infrastructure that you are not only segregated from cars you are also segregated from pedestrians because they have their own tunnel as well.

Carlton Reid

Yeah, because like in Antwerp, they’ve got a tunnel similar to this, but it’s a cyclists and pedestrians are you actually next to each other?

Jonah Morris 11:00
cycling and walking along whereas this year, hopefully Yes, separate from each other. I think people might need to watch their speed though because with the incline, you do get up quite a speed going down. And whilst it’s nice and wide, you won’t necessarily see someone coming the other side at the same speed. But yeah, I’m sure those issues will work themselves out.

Carlton Reid 11:21
So, what kind of usage Do you envisage here? If you have I mean, I know you do monitoring on the cycle network of how many people come through, what do you envisage happening here with this missing link,

Jonah Morris

nabbing no longer missing, and I think it will be key for commuters, as well as leisure cyclists. You know, I’ve I live north of the river. I’ve got a lot of friends who live north of the river but works out for the river. So currently, I’ve got to take either the ferry or the bus transfer. So happy to have this open. Eventually, 24 hours a day, you know, people working on nights

Jonah Morris 12:00
South of the river, it’ll be key for them as well as well as for leisure cyclists doing long distance journeys, either doing all of Hadrian’s or all of the NCR cycle route, which will form part of this as well. Those coming over from Ijulmeden to North Shields on DFDS ferries is very to get onto this to get your get yourself in the river straight away. I mean, what better advert can it be for the Northeast than to have something like this?

Carlton Reid

So what Sustrans is going to be doing apart from your presence here, of course, Jonah, what are you going to be doing?

Jonah Morris

So we’ll be promoting it through our website. And people have been notified that it’s been closed past six years, so we will be writing a piece to let people know that it’s open. And we’re also supporting, particularly North Tyneside council who got transforming city’s funding to do some off road

Jonah Morris 12:50
infrastructure improvements on the north side as well as working with South Tyneside on links through South the road for as well. So I think the key for us will be working with the local

Jonah Morris 13:00
authorities to make sure that infrastructure on either side is to the best it can possibly be to then allow the tunnel to get its maximum usage.

Peter Calhoun 13:10
I am Peter Calhoun, but I’ve come down to be one of the first people through the tunnel and be part of the experience.

Carlton Reid

But you you’ve been here six years ago when it closed for refurbishment. You used to come before that.

Peter Calhoun

Oh, yes, yeah, many times throughout my life. But more recently with with the NCR cycling club.

Peter Calhoun 13:33
fabulous for getting across the western experience. Is this going to be like a route for the club then to come come through and get across the river, definitely on our list of rides. There’s a list of a route to come through here this Sunday. So we’re looking forward to that.

Carlton Reid

And where you’re going to go from here. You get into Jarrow and then we’re from Jarrow

Peter Calhoun

will haven’t decided that yet. But it’s the routers involved here. And how many people are in the club.

Peter Calhoun 14:00
It was in the region about 400. And we like to promote safety. And when we wear our

Peter Calhoun 14:09
uniform, our our jersey would like to show what cyclists can be here like, and would like to be in a good example to

Peter Calhoun 14:19
the cycling community and get more respect on our side.

Carlton Reid

That’s very laudable. And now, I have missed I heard you before when when I caught you saying Was it your father, or your brother had the bends on it, who worked on this,

Peter Calhoun

M father in law worked on here back in the day, and the the river was held back by compressed air. And so it’s a bit like dive and he had to go down and come back at a certain risk and suffering from the bends was quite common. And he suffered with that.

Carlton Reid 14:55
So that was 19 1950 1951 when it was built the whole area

Peter Calhoun 15:00
After us the channel was first built going across the the river was he ended by this in the work as he would you wouldn’t be able to get room get space on here it was but now that the build the the the tank tunnel

Peter Calhoun 15:18
with with traffic obviously this is not

Carlton Reid 15:22
what it used to be. So if you don’t mind me asking you how old are you?

Peter Calhoun

I’m 70.

Carlton Reid

So you would have remembered this? You’ve been you’ve been in this for 70 years and you’ve been you’ve been coming potentially down here quite a lot.

Peter Calhoun

Yeah. If If my first bike

Peter Calhoun 15:40
was too heavy for me and I couldn’t hold it and had to be rescued by your fellow traveller who

Peter Calhoun 15:47
come to my rescue big time I was absolutely in floods of tears, crying for help, and he was my hero. And was that on the escalator was good as the people I was with work was further up my brother

Peter Calhoun 16:00
His friends were

Peter Calhoun 16:02
only able to get down because they had their own bikes. So that’s a memory that I hold, dear. And that would have been when roughly 65 years ago,

Peter Calhoun 16:13
maybe 67 years ago, right?

Carlton Reid

No 64 6064 years since your first memory of using it because it was a quite a traumatic experience. In fact, there’s little kids there now using it and we can see we are right now seeing little kids probably of your age, back then using it again, going down a lift. Now, of course, and then how did you use it in subsequent years?

Peter Calhoun 16:41
Not a great deal, because of the alternatives.

Peter Calhoun 16:45
And I’m only been in the cycle for the last

Peter Calhoun 16:48
three years haven’t haven’t joined the club. And it’s been

Carlton Reid 16:54
it’s been very rewarding. Well, I’m looking down at your bike. Now you’ve got a very, very nice Ridley.

Peter Calhoun 17:00
I think I’ve earned it.

Peter Calhoun 17:02
I’ve rewarded yourself with the amount of time and effort I’ve put in and it was time for a new bike. And how old is it? It looks brand spanking new to me a few few months old. Yes. Very nice. And you’re gonna be using it this weekend for coming on this this this ride. This will be the bank that you would use on the, on the MTI and car rides. Yeah, a lot of the club members have been down to Ride London and we did our own

Peter Calhoun 17:28
100 mile ride. So it’ll be some sore legs, but I’m sure as a Sunday, they’ll be quite a few people down here.

Peter Calhoun 17:36
Thanks to today’s guests, and thank you for listening to this spokesman cycling practical podcast, show notes and more can be found on the dash spokesman.com. Now, you may remember I told you about the virtual velo city podcasts I recorded with manager Laura lake in Dublin in June.

Thanks to today’s guests, and thank YOU for listening to the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable podcast. Show notes and more can be found on the-spokesmen.com.

Now, you may remember I told you about the Virtual Velo-city podcasts I recorded with Laura Laker in Dublin in June. These were originally sent out only to Kickstarter backers but I’m pleased to report they are now free to all thanks to sponsorship from the Dutch Cyclkijg Embassy. Search for Virtual Velo-City on iTunes, Spotify and other places where you may get your podcasts. I’ve uploaded three shows so far, with another nine to be published weekly.

And there will be another episode from The Spokesmen real soon … meanwhile, get out there and ride.

July 28, 2019 / / Blog

Episode 222

Tour de France special.

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

Sunday 28th July 2019

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS:

Attorney Jim Moss

Joe Robinson, writer for Cyclist magazine

Casper Hughes of Rollapaluza and Stop Killing Cyclists

TOPICS: Tour de France special.

We talk NBC Sports and Lance Armstrong’s rehabilitation as a Tour de France pundit

Capping of team budgets.

Freaky weather at the Tour, the heat as well as snow storms in July, The first – but definitely note the last – Tour de France adversely impacted by climate change.

Could 22-year-old Colombian phenom Egal Bernal go on to win another 10 tours?

Apple should create an iTunes category for “Cycling”.

Main pic by A.S.O./Pauline BALLET


Alternatively:

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Machine transcribed, pardon any mistakes.

Welcome to Episode 222 of the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast. This show was recorded on Sunday 28th of July 2019. The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jensen USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/the spokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.theFred cast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesman cycling roundtable podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website.