Author: Carlton Reid

November 21, 2023 / / Blog

21st November 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 343: Mr & Mrs McAleese moving to Oz 

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Philip and Irene McAleese of See-sense

TOPICS: Philip and Irene McAleese of See-sense, the Northern Irish bike lights and data company, are upping sticks and moving down under. We also talk V2X beacons, Cycling Industries Europe, Kevin Mayne, Jon Parkin, Velo-city and Geordie accents.


[00:00:00] Carlton Reid: Welcome to episode 343 of the Spokesman Cycling Podcast. This show was recorded on Tuesday, 21st of November, 2023.

[00:00:29] David Bernstein: The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

[00:01:04] Carlton: the last episode, I said this show would be an interview with Komoot of Germany, but then an Australian angle intervened. Philip and Irene McAleese of See.sense, the Northern Irish Bike Lights and Data/data? Company, are upping sticks and moving down under. I’m Carlton Reid and regular listeners will know that Philip and Irene have been on the show multiple times, so it’s only fitting that I invited them for a wee chat before they depart at the beginning of December.

[00:01:40] Carlton: So what convinced you to exchange the reign of Northern Ireland For the sunshine of Brisbane.

[00:01:48] Irene McAleese: Oh, well. Really a mixture of things. Obviously, you know, I’m Australian. I’ve been away now for 20 years. Next, in April of next year, I’m coming up to 20 years. [00:02:00] Um, and I think it was actually when I was back home, um, last year, my, my dad wasn’t well and I went back, um, for that.

[00:02:08] Irene McAleese: Um, but it just sort of, I don’t know, something just sort of, um, In my mind just thought I wanted to be back, I wanted to be closer to my family, but also we were really impressed with What’s happening in Australia? It seems to be sort of post COVID. There’s a lot of energy around Active travel, there’s a lot going in in terms of investment They seem to have more funding pots available for this kind of stuff And yeah, we like the, you know, we liked what What’s happening in the energy of the, the, um, in Australia at the moment and the, um, you know, the economic potential as well.

[00:02:46] Irene McAleese: So yes, weather is certainly a, a factor, but, um, we do see opportunity to expand CSense in the Australian market.

[00:02:55] Carlton: Yeah. I’d like to get into that in a, in a, in a bit, because that’s clearly going to be [00:03:00] a phenomenal, uh, task ahead of you. And you can tell me about exactly the structures you’ve put in place, but first of all, uh, A bit more personal, really, in that, you’ve clearly, you’ve, you’ve, you’ve visited Irene every couple of years.

[00:03:15] Carlton: Is that, is that right? Like, to go and see your family and, and, you know, pandemic withstanding, you’ve kind of, you’ve been there regularly. So I’m assuming your kids, it’s not going to be like totally alien for them. They’ve also seen Australia. And, and, and what is, is in their future.

[00:03:33] Irene McAleese: Yes. However, I am trying to kind of get across that, you know, every time we’ve been back for holidays, it’s…

[00:03:39] Irene McAleese: It’s the beach, it’s barbecues, it’s social events, it’s family. They have this very rose tinted view of what life in Australia would be like. So I’m trying to get across that there’s actually going to be a lot of grunge stuff as well. Like, you will have to go to school.

[00:03:55] Carlton: You

[00:03:55] Irene McAleese: will still need to do homework.[00:04:00]

[00:04:00] Irene McAleese: So, you know, um, yes, I, I think that, I think that they are excited, but yeah, I mean, as with anywhere you live, you make the best of where you are. And I’ve actually really enjoyed everywhere I’ve lived. I’ve lived in Northern Ireland for 11 years. I’ve lived in Singapore. I’ve lived in London. Um, I really, you know, I, I always think that you can make the best of wherever you are.

[00:04:24] Irene McAleese: And it’s very much about your attitude and also just being around good people. So how old are your kids? Our kids, well we have, our youngest is actually turning 12 this week, and our eldest is 14. So part of the reason of, I guess, wanting to go now is to get them into the school, for the, get them a little bit embedded into the school before they get too senior, um, and start to get into the later years, so.

[00:04:52] Irene McAleese: I guess in an ideal world, we might have liked another a year or two to sort of, um, um, [00:05:00] prepare for the move, but really once the decision was made, we ripped the bandaid off quickly, um, and decided to do it.

[00:05:08] Carlton: And Philip, talk, talk to me about this. So, I mean, you know, Irene’s obviously spent 20 years away from Australia.

[00:05:16] Carlton: Is this like a quid pro quo thing? You know, you’ve spent 20 years away. All right, let’s go and spend 20 years in Australia. How have you, how have you negotiated this as, as part of your, your marriage kind of contract?

[00:05:29] Philip McAleese: Yeah, so we were living in Singapore and obviously we had to make the decision between Northern Ireland and Australia when we decided we wanted a bit more family support.

[00:05:36] Philip McAleese: Um, my family are all quite local to where we are here. Um, whereas Irene’s family were dispersed around Australia, uh, which is a really, really, uh, unfathomably big place for Europeans. And, um, so it made sense to come here first. We always said that we would retire in Australia. Um, we’re, we’re just going a little bit sooner than we expected.

[00:05:57] Philip McAleese: Um, just to fit in really with. It’s the equivalent [00:06:00] of GCSEs A levels and not disturbing schooling too much. Um, and, and plus I’m really excited about it. I mean, there’s a lot of opportunity for us down there. Um, and you know, some of our bigger, biggest projects are happening right there at the moment. And so it’ll be really good to go down, um, and to be there, to be able to accelerate and leverage.

[00:06:20] Philip McAleese: Um, all of that goodwill we have already. So

[00:06:22] Carlton: is that project the one that you’re doing with, uh, Victoria’s TAC, Transport Accident Commission, the Light Insight Trial? Is it that one? Yes, it’s

[00:06:30] Philip McAleese: actually an extension of that trial. So that trial wrapped up, um, last year. Um, but we were delighted that they chose to extend the project working directly with TAC.

[00:06:39] Philip McAleese: Um, and now we’re working with, uh, the first LGA, local government authority, um, called Surf Coast. Um, who are just a little bit, um, south of Melbourne. Um, they’ve got some infrastructure going in and they’re very interested in understanding the before and after and seeing what impact of change they can have.

[00:06:58] Philip McAleese: Um, they’re really [00:07:00] interested in community engagement and lots of the great things that our data can really help to, um, facilitate and help them do. Um, and that should lead on to projects with other, um, LGAs as well. There are a number of them interested and I’m talking to the TAC at the moment, um, and it would be fantastic to see, um, what we can do to help them

[00:07:18] Carlton: as well.

[00:07:18] Carlton: Because Australia, from, from this side of the, the kind of the antipodes, it’s always seemed a bit backward in, in cycling in that, you know, certainly Europe, continental Europe, and even the UK for a few years. Seem to be far in advance of Australia and Australia seemed to be going backwards on active travel But what you’re saying or what what what I was saying a few seconds ago was maybe that’s changing.

[00:07:43] Carlton: Yeah,

[00:07:44] Irene McAleese: we’re seeing I definitely think that there is There does exist in Australia this Us and them, you know attitude of cycling. I mean it does exist Um, I’m not sure if that’s something that’s going [00:08:00] to be introduced here as well to an extent. But, um, that’s what I was saying though, Carlton. I think that I sense that the attitudes are changing.

[00:08:07] Irene McAleese: There’s definitely a lot more investment in infrastructure that has gone in. Melbourne and Sydney, but also in Brisbane in my hometown, I was really impressed to see even in some, even in, uh, you know, there’s urban investment in urban areas, but also rail trails, they call them, which are like the Greenway investment for tourism and things like this.

[00:08:33] Irene McAleese: Um, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s really, um, it’s. It has really taken off in the last few years. I think particularly since COVID, there’s been, there’s been a big uptake. They, um, they still have a long way to go. Um, but I’m seeing that there’s a lot more appetite. Um, and I’ve been speaking with other Australians at the, it was a large contingent of Aussies at the VeloCity in Leipzig this [00:09:00] year, there was a really active, um, um, advocacy groups there, um, the Amy Gillett Foundation and, and WeRide and the Bicycle Network, they’re all doing fantastic work, um, there’s, there seems to be.

[00:09:14] Irene McAleese: You know, the likes of the people that we have been engaging with at the Transport Accident Commission and the iMove project. I mean, we work with people on projects around the world and some of the people we’re working with there we really think have great minds and a real appetite for innovation. Um, so.

[00:09:33] Irene McAleese: Yeah, we’re really happy to, to explore that and see what we can do, um, to help push.

[00:09:40] Carlton: And how much of the, this may be this expansion of interest in active travel, how much of it is perhaps due to climate change? Because again, from the perspective from this side of the Antipodes is certainly the, the previous crop of Australian politicians have been all dinosaurs.

[00:09:57] Carlton: They were all just totally denied the fact that [00:10:00] man made climate change. Uh, is happening at all? Are the current crop

[00:10:04] Irene McAleese: better? Yeah, they’re, I mean… Well, I think that the current Prime Minister has acknowledged that climate change is a thing, so that’s, that’s definitely a start. I think that, yeah, there’s definitely an awareness in Australia now more so than in previous years about the need to make change and to do it, do it rapidly.

[00:10:24] Irene McAleese: Um, so I think that definitely could be, could be a factor. Um, I think there was a report actually that came out, um, just this week about, about the cycling industry and its contribution to the economy. So it was, it was really interesting that one of the questions that they asked people as to why they’re riding their bike, um, the reason why.

[00:10:49] Irene McAleese: My highest reason was for their own fitness and well being, but one of the second highest reasons I think was about concern for the environment. So it must be playing [00:11:00] on people’s minds.

[00:11:01] Carlton: And then logistically, your business, I mean, let’s just, you’re not closing your business down. You are operating it as a satellite.

[00:11:11] Carlton: So you’re going to be opening a sales office in Brisbane. And expanding in Australia, because what currently do you have in Australia? Is there anything at all in Australia or do you just sell your products and your services there? And that’s it, and you do that from the Northern Ireland? Yeah, um, we

[00:11:26] Philip McAleese: do exactly what you say.

[00:11:27] Philip McAleese: So we’re setting up a sales office there. Um, all of our projects are, uh, have been run and executed really from, from here. Um, we did visit, um, the Transport Action Commission in Melbourne. Um, and we spent the day with them on our last personal visit to Australia. Um, and we found that to be incredibly useful and really, really rewarding.

[00:11:48] Philip McAleese: Um, and so we realized that it was a good opportunity to do a lot more of

[00:11:52] Carlton: that. Previously I’ve asked this, this, this question, and maybe it changes every few months anyway. Because you started as a light [00:12:00] company, and yes, it was a clever light, but it was a light company. And then each time we talk, it’s the data, data thing, uh, with Irene and with you, the different ways of pronouncing it.

[00:12:09] Carlton: Um, you seem to be becoming much more of a, a, a, data company. Has that accelerated even just in the last, you know, six months since we last talked? Um,

[00:12:18] Philip McAleese: I think we, we’ve not really changed our focus. I think probably what has changed is that, um, you know, with projects like, uh, in Denver and in Australia, um, and in Essex, we’re seeing real infrastructure changes be put in.

[00:12:33] cPhilip McAleese: So I think we finally got to the point where, um, you know, appetite and willingness and I guess understanding of data, um, has advanced to the point where it is now being actively used, which we’re super excited

[00:12:46] Carlton: about. When you are in Australia in your new sales office, you are selling lights or data?

[00:12:51] Philip McAleese: Oh, very much data.

[00:12:52] Philip McAleese: Yeah. So, I mean, the lights are fantastic. They’re really good at a personal level. We think for helping to make you more visible, [00:13:00] um, as you ride around, which should hopefully lead to a better riding experience. Um, but ultimately the bigger benefit we can have is around understanding, um, the, the greater pool of cycling.

[00:13:11] Philip McAleese: So, you know, where is the infrastructure working well and where can we help the cities to understand where it can be improved? Um, and we’re starting to look at other things, you know, there’s a lot of initiatives going on with things like green waves. Where, um, you know, they put beacons or transponders on the bikes and allow them to have green traffic lights all the way through their destination.

[00:13:31] Philip McAleese: Um, we like that idea in principle, but of course you can’t have a beacon on every bike. And so it doesn’t really provide, um, you know, a fair experience to everyone. Whereas when we look at our data, we only need a sample of cyclists in order to be able to model, to understand. Where the bunching of cyclists occurs, where the biggest delays and the highest probabilities are of being stopped at a set of traffic lights.

[00:13:55] Philip McAleese: And then through that modeling, we have the city to understand, you know, what, [00:14:00] what changes need to be made to traffic phasing to allow for these bunches or groups of cyclists that have naturally formed in the environment to get collectively a green wave all the way through. without having to have any additional sensors on the bikes themselves.

[00:14:14] Carlton: All right, Philip’s brought up beacons there. I, I wasn’t going to bring it up, even though you know that I probably was going to. Um, so, so, so beacons was mentioned at a certain safety conference you were at in, was in the Hague just recently. And it was, it was, it was Gazella. So it was like somebody from Gazella basically saying cyclists of the future are going to have force fields.

[00:14:36] Carlton: Um, you know, this, this, this. This, this, you know, beaconization program, uh, was it, was it swallowed whole by the audience or was it quite, was there groans when even Gazelle, alike, seemed to have, uh, swallowed the Kool Aid? Well,

[00:14:52] Irene McAleese: I, I would say that it was, you know, this is an academic audience who, um, you know, this is the international [00:15:00] Cycling safety conference.

[00:15:01] Irene McAleese: Um, the audience, um, primarily academics who are focused on research and they like the idea of testing out ideas. I think one of the things that, you know, one of the key things that the audience really noticed straight away was that the coalition for safety, I think it’s called the organization which has been set up, didn’t have any.

[00:15:25] Irene McAleese: Um, voices on that coalition from the academic world. Um, so that was, I think, the number one point of view. Now, to be fair, Gazelle did say, well, we would like to invite those voices on now, but it had originally come from being an industry driven thing. So I think that was the first point of, you know, why are you developing this in isolation without taking on the, the ideas, the insights and, you know, Perspectives the academic, um, world could potentially offer, [00:16:00] um, in helping to shape or steer the solution.

[00:16:03] Irene McAleese: Um, and there were other also other questions that that came up about. Um, why, you know, um, would this give a cyclist a sort of sense of false sense of security that they felt that they were riding in a bubble? I think that was actually the picture on the first slide. There was a picture of a cyclist enclosed by this, by this bubble of safety.

[00:16:31] Irene McAleese: Um, that, um, you know, and I think there was immediately some reaction to that. Um. And your ears must have been burning, Carlton, because yours truly did put up my hand and say, Have you read Carlton’s fantastic piece in the Forbes about this? You know, I think that there’s, you know, there are some valid points here around equity.

[00:16:52] Irene McAleese: Um, but yeah, there were actually a couple of people in the audience as well that, that, you know, didn’t seem opposed to it. Seemed, [00:17:00] you know, open to it, but wanting to test and validate that actually this could. Does this work? And I guess that’s coming from the researcher point of view, you know, appetite to validate or test things without sort of completely ruling it out.

[00:17:15] Irene McAleese: And I think that, um, to be fair to Gazelle, they acknowledge that there’s definitely a lot more work to do to be able to validate. If this does actually bring benefit, and it was kind of presented as very much a work in progress. I

[00:17:31] Carlton: mean, I welcome technology. I’m talking to people here who are right, the cutting edge of bicycle technology in data and in digital diagnostics, so I’m not against this.

[00:17:45] Carlton: But I’ve got a bikes that sometimes have the Garmin radar. And you very quickly get used to that and, and you almost stop looking behind and you just rely on, on [00:18:00] your, your dashboard to tell you how many cars are coming, which is great when you’re on that bike. But then if you’ve got like a few bikes, which, which I have, I’m lucky enough to have quite a few bikes, you switch to a different bike and you’re still in that kind of, I’m going to rely on the technology mode.

[00:18:17] Carlton: And then all of a sudden it’s like, yeah, but you’re not on that technological bike anymore. You’re on a naked bike all of a sudden. So you’ve got to go back to the old ways. So it’s, it’s almost like the, the, you know, self driving cars. If you have, you know, 10 years of sitting in a car and you’re not having to touch anything, all of a sudden you have to use, you know, your driving skills.

[00:18:39] Carlton: It’s just a little atrophied. And it’s the same with, with, with, with technology. If we start relying on technology. on bicycles too much, like the, the Garmin Varia radar, all of a sudden you’ve lost all of those actually pretty good skills. And that’s not even, as you mentioned, equity there. You’ve got a whole bunch of, you [00:19:00] know, 99.

[00:19:01] Carlton: 9 percent of the population ain’t going to have this technology. It’s for the rich people will have this technology. And why should we sacrifice, why should the rich people be protected and, and everybody else not be protected? So there are huge, the academics, if you’re, you know, talking about academics, I would quite like there to be some historians, not just tech academics, but historians there, social historians, you know, people, academics who are specialists in, in, in genuine.

[00:19:31] Carlton: equity to bring all of these perspectives because that’s that is up from what I can see is totally being ignored.

[00:19:37] Irene McAleese: And yeah, they’re currently not on the coalition for safety. Panel at all so that that perspective has not been brought in which is a real miss That’s definitely something that the audience caught out The other thing that they also said is how would this work in the Netherlands with you?

[00:19:53] Irene McAleese: Detecting bikes and there’s thousands of bikes Um, anyway, Philip, you were going to [00:20:00] say something. Yeah, I

[00:20:01] Philip McAleese: think it’s interesting as well, because if you look at sort of the agenda, who’s driving it, um, obviously there’s both, you know, car and bicycle companies, um, promoting this as an idea. Um, but really when you look at it, um, at the technologies that they’re using and trialing and evaluating.

[00:20:17] Philip McAleese: Um, it’s largely based around car based systems of V2X. And so a lot of those are by companies like Qualcomm, um, who will be not just in one manufacturer, but will be in multiple cars. And the argument is that, you know, because it’s in multiple cars, um, it can be upgraded over the air in the future to allow the cars to detect.

[00:20:37] Philip McAleese: other things that have V2X on them. Um, but it’s fundamentally, um, I think they’re trying to retrofit a technology which is too expensive for bikes. Um, and as you say, we’ll end up only in the most expensive bikes because it’s, uh, it’s an expensive chipset. It requires a lot of energy, which in turn needs a big battery.

[00:20:54] Philip McAleese: Um, and so it’ll tend towards high end e bikes and that sort of thing. And, [00:21:00] you know, there are cheaper technologies out there, but it would require more More money being invested into the car, which again, changes the economic value. So the thing that I think is quite good, and I’m actually reasonably excited about is, um, the likes of Euro end cap and the Australian equivalent end cap.

[00:21:18] Philip McAleese: And since 2010. Sorry, 2020. Um, they’ve had tests around autonomous braking and detection of cyclists. Um, most recently in 2023, both of them have announced that, um, dooring or prevention of dooring is part of their scoring system as well. Um, and that’s kind of interesting because although these tests are, you know, independent of the car manufacturer, um, they do kind of.

[00:21:45] Philip McAleese: Uh, reactor, or I guess we’re set up as a result of things that are present in the cars. So, for example, the dooring, um, one of the first cars that was available to do that was the idea for back in 2016. So, you know, getting on for 7 year old technology. [00:22:00] And indeed, I believe that uses very similar technology to the Garmin Varia.

[00:22:04] Philip McAleese: Um, of a radar based system looking behind to look for bicycles. So it is possible to do this stuff without needing, um, you know, really expensive V2X technologies that is being, um, proposed. Um, I guess on the flip side to, to be fully, um, I guess cognizant of all the different factors, um, you could argue that.

[00:22:25] Philip McAleese: Um, how well do these systems work in the real world, the, you know, they certainly work well in testing and a lot of cars do pass, um, the standards for the test. Um, but we know from emissions regulations in the past that it is possible to set up a car to do a very specific thing and the real world, it might not behave exactly the same way.

[00:22:45] Philip McAleese: So given that the car manufacturer is saying it’s really hard to detect a bike, but the cars are passing these Euro NCAP standards. Um, I think we probably need something more, more like we have an air traffic control. So my, my first job was an ATC. [00:23:00] And if there’s a crash with an aircraft, it gets independently investigated, um, a report is published and everybody learns from that.

[00:23:07] Philip McAleese: Um, of course, that doesn’t happen with cars. And, you know, if a car has a collision. Uh, I should say if a car, if there’s a collision, not necessarily the car’s fault, unless it’s self driving, of course. Um, but where does that information go, you know, at best back to the manufacturer to improve their own system.

[00:23:23] Philip McAleese: So, um, you know, how do we get some of that knowledge and spread it around the car industry so that everybody can learn from it as

[00:23:29] Carlton: well? We’ll talk about data here. And if you’ve got a company that. Is now more data than it is just pure, just, uh, physical product lights. Um, even though your chips are being used, presumably that means it’s been easier for you to make this decision to move you and your family, uh, and set up a sales office in Australia.

[00:23:53] Carlton: Because you’re not really doing physical distribution of products if you’re doing data. We,

[00:23:59] Philip McAleese: [00:24:00] we do still have a reliance on the technology. So, um, a lot of what we do and our secret sauce is around the processing we do on the devices, um, which is unique to us and give us so much data, much deeper, richer insights than would otherwise be available.

[00:24:14] Philip McAleese: Um, The, the fortunate thing, I guess, with our technology is it is relatively small. Um, you know, we can take a box of 100 or 200 lights and send them to wherever we need to, anywhere in the world. Um, we’re very fortunate as well that because it tends to be viewed as safety technology, it tends to be free from, um, duty and import taxes, which, um, slow things down and complicate the processes.

[00:24:36] Philip McAleese: So actually we’ve, well, we do have a reliance on some logistics. Um, it’s perhaps not as challenging as some other companies. It allows us to, to work around it relatively

[00:24:45] Carlton: easily. So after, I’m going to cut to a commercial break now with my colleague, David, but after the break, I’d very much like to, uh, talk about logistically, how you’re going to do it.

[00:24:54] Carlton: And then I’d like to bring Irene again and, and, and, and talk about, um, her role [00:25:00] in the industry and, and how maybe she’s going to replicate that in Australia. But first of all, let’s go across to David in America.

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[00:26:09] Carlton: So, thanks David, uh, in America there, but we’re not talking about America. We’re talking about Australia with Irene and, uh, Philip McAleese.

[00:26:19] Carlton: So, tell me exactly how you’ve embedded yourself, very successfully, In the industry across here in, in, in Europe, um, specifically cycling industries, Europe. So tell me about the role. on, on, on the board. Maybe start by telling us what Cycling Industries Europe is.

[00:26:37] Irene McAleese: So, Cycling Industries Europe is, is the industry group which is being set up to, um, advocate for industry, but also really recognising that, um, you know, there’s a lot of work actually done to sort of advocate for investment in cycling infrastructure because most of the cycling [00:27:00] brands recognize that more investment in that helps to get more people on bikes, which ultimately helps all of the brands.

[00:27:08] Irene McAleese: So it’s not just bike brands actually over the years. It’s, it’s, it’s sort of broadened out. So the whole remit of the cycling industry is company like ours, which are offering. You know, um, accessories and data and services. There’s also other companies looking at maintenance, a whole range of different kind of support industries as well.

[00:27:28] Irene McAleese: Let’s do it around the main bike sales. Um, it’s actually an offshoot of the European. Cycling Federation, ECF. So years ago, it was part of that and then it sort of split out from that, but actually provides a lot of funding and support back to the ECF. Um, I did, uh, we were actually proud to be a member of the ECF or the, um, the CIE back when it was still part of the ECF actually.[00:28:00]

[00:28:00] Irene McAleese: And, um, one of the reasons I joined at the time was because I came across Kevin Mayne. Actually, it was through one of the articles that you had written, Carlton, where I’d seen that. Um, and when I met Kevin, I, I met Kevin at the first, It’s the first VeloCity I attended in Taipei and I was blown away because he, he was such an inspiring guy and he really understood when I said to him, you know, this is back in 2016, I think it was that we were looking at cycling data.

[00:28:32] Irene McAleese: We wanted to, um, look at shaping cities with data. I mean, I think in a lot of. Areas of the cycling world and we might have seemed a little bit alien, um, and a little maybe ahead of our time in some ways, but Kevin, he really saw, he actually had that vision as well. He really saw that the data was going to become more and more important and digitalization of the cycling industry would be more and more important.

[00:28:59] Irene McAleese: Um, the [00:29:00] main thing that he saw, and I think he’s completely right, was that. You know, cities are using data anyway. They use data from cars. They use data from other modes. And cycling had really been the kind of Cinderella in the ball. There was little data coming from cycling. And therefore, if cities don’t have much data, how do they design their cities to accommodate it?

[00:29:21] Irene McAleese: So he really saw that.

[00:29:22] Carlton: You treasure what you measure, basically.

[00:29:24] Irene McAleese: Yes, yes, exactly. So, um, uh, Yeah, I, I really found it great to, to work with CIE at that point because they, they helped us, um, you know, um, shape some of our vision as well as we went along with very, um, collaborative kind of company. I’ve learned a lot from talking with them and, um, they also set up within their organization, uh, a cycling, um, Connected Cycling and ITS Network Group, so other like minded companies can come together and we can work on things for the industry such [00:30:00] as standards and and things like that which which help to you know, it’s a little bit of grunge work really behind the scenes to to try to Facilitate things and make sure that we can put in place things that are actually going to help grow the market for everyone Then I was invited to Participate in the board.

[00:30:21] Irene McAleese: They put out a call actually because the CIE’s board had been all male. Um, and they put out a call saying that they wanted to invite more women onto the board. And, um, I decided to throw my hat in the ring for that and I was very pleased to be. Selected I did a two year stint on the board. I think it was just over two years once Brexit came along I did sort of kind of step back a little bit because a part of the reason of CIE is really about advocating for funding at the EU level Um, so, and they’ve been tremendously successful at that [00:31:00] actually in things like the Green Deal and getting the European Cycling Declaration signed off recently.

[00:31:06] Irene McAleese: Um, of course, unfortunately here in Northern Ireland as part of the UK, that funding pot doesn’t trickle down to us anymore. Um, so I, I couldn’t justify, you know, so much of my time going to CIE and, and actually the flight or the trip to Brussels is actually quite, uh, quite a long journey here from Northern Ireland.

[00:31:27] Irene McAleese: So it would take quite a lot of time, but I, I am still quite involved in the, the cycling expert groups online and participating more in the working. Hands on stuff. So I learned a lot actually by being the only woman on the board. They’re really big companies there track Excel At the time they had Sort of Uber with their bikes, share fleets, and different companies like this on the board.

[00:31:54] Irene McAleese: So we, I guess we’re a little bit different. A, we’re a small company. B, [00:32:00] we were a company working at the edge of innovation on data and technology, and C, being a woman. So I definitely brought in a perspective, a different perspective across all three of those areas. But yeah, fantastic experience. Um, There

[00:32:17] Carlton: is a, there is also a slight link with Kevin in that he’s from New Zealand originally.

[00:32:22] Carlton: Yes. So during that, some of that get up and go, you’re talking about some of that awareness of other issues potentially came from the fact that he wasn’t born and bred. Uh, in Europe, he had maybe a different skill set, a different perspective, because he did come from, from New Zealand.

[00:32:42] Irene McAleese: I thought he was actually English and his wife is from New Zealand.

[00:32:45] Irene McAleese: I could be wrong. Really? Oh. I will, I

[00:32:49] Carlton: will. Carry on talking. I’ll Google that, because I’m, I’m, I’m pretty sure he’s New Zealand, but carry on. Let’s, let’s, let’s talk about different things while I, while I, while I Google that in the meantime. [00:33:00] Okay. I could be wrong. You could be right. I mean, I could be like.

[00:33:03] Carlton: I could be giving him an international perspective there where there is… Yeah, I know, I

[00:33:07] Irene McAleese: know he met, I know he met his wife in, when he went on a trip to Australia, I think, and for work, because he used to work for a, uh, was it a drinks company, some sort of drinks company or something. Um, yeah, you might have to slice this bit out, Kevin Carlton, but yeah, I think, I think he’s English.

[00:33:32] Irene McAleese: I think I’ve spoken to him and he was English, but… Um, but yeah, he does have a lot of get up and go and actually, um, you know, I’ve always thought that, um, he, you know, it’s kind of funny to have Kevin who I thought was from the UK heading up, you know, he was obviously cycling UK’s, um, CEO at one point, um, and then he’s there.

[00:33:55] Irene McAleese: Um, heavily involved in the whole European cycling context, um, who would be [00:34:00] more traditionally known for cycling. So it’s good to have fresh voices around, around the table.

[00:34:05] Carlton: Well, he lives in Brussels now, of course. And, uh, I mean, Brussels, we were talking about Brexit and, and the fact that you had to like, maybe come out a little bit and, and I, I, I’m kind of.

[00:34:16] Carlton: I’ve done the same thing, even though I try to be as much as a good European as possible. But when I get the press releases from the European Cyclist Federation, you know, about the Green New Deal and about, you know, all of these things, it’s like, it’s wonderful. But what does it really? Mean to yeah, well to us

[00:34:35] Irene McAleese: in the UK the day that the European Cycling declaration was announced the same day was announced in the UK.

[00:34:46] Irene McAleese: The plan for driving was announced

[00:34:51] Irene McAleese: So, you know the disparity between those two Situations is so stark and it’s at this point. I actually joined, you know, I’ve joined now the [00:35:00] bicycle Association Here in the uk. Um, and I’ve also joined the board. Um, they’ve as a, as a board advisor for diversity, um, for the bicycle association here. So I’ve really been trying to sort of, um, impact that way, um, more locally here over the last year, which I’ve really enjoyed.

[00:35:20] Irene McAleese: And then actually the bicycle Association are doing some really great work now. Um, looking at. I think they’ve really evolved and are really much more, uh, you know, they’re getting really into advocacy, you know, lobbying the government for funds and investment to fill some of the gaps that have been left, I think, from, um, the, the exit from the EU.

[00:35:43] Irene McAleese: So, um, and you know, So I’m, I’m excited to see where they go with that.

[00:35:50] Carlton: Technically, if, if you are to believe the Brexit crowd, we’re actually going to be having closer ties with Australia and we’re certainly gonna be having the [00:36:00] beef and stuff, um, from the antipodes. So do you envisage actually potentially some benefits to Brexit?

[00:36:07] Carlton: Could we, could we have found some benefits that you might actually find that operating a business in Australia and having it in, you know, the other part of it in being in now?

[00:36:18] Irene McAleese: Yeah, there is a free trade agreement in place, but I think as Philip said, we were already exempt, um, for, um, the, the tariff for importing of the bike lights.

[00:36:30] Irene McAleese: Um, but one, I mean, one thing will be useful is ensuring, um, parity on the, um, data privacy work. So at the moment. You know, historically we’ve been part of GDPR and you want, which is at the European level. And we, we don’t want the UK to diverge too much from that because it’s really seen as the gold standard, um, worldwide around data privacy.

[00:36:58] Irene McAleese: And we’ve worked really hard to [00:37:00] ensure we’re compliant with that. Um, but I think as well, if we, if we have Australia and the UK, Um, broadly aligned with those in that perspective, I think that will be really useful. Um, and we have good dialogue around that. Um, but yeah, I mean, there’s, there’s obviously a, um, a historical link between the two, the two countries and, um, yeah, there is the free trade agreement.

[00:37:29] Irene McAleese: I guess we need to get to Australia and explore a little more about what that would actually mean for us. Um, at this point,

[00:37:39] Carlton: but I’ve just been searching for, for Kevin. I can’t see anything from his background, but I’m pretty sure he’s, uh, he’s from New Zealand. And even though I can’t find that, I’m, I’m pretty sure, but looking at the board of directors for cycling in Europe, there’s now three women on, on the board.

[00:37:53] Carlton: So you, you, you basically. You pioneered that. There are now three women. So April [00:38:00] Marsh, Anna Bookman and Isabel Eberlein. So that’s you. You’ve opened the door. You broke through that glass ceiling.

[00:38:07] Irene McAleese: Yes. Yeah. And it’s really fantastic to see. In fact, I think that they had this year a competitive, very competitive, um, selection because there were even some more women that wanted to.

[00:38:20] Irene McAleese: that were in the final list. Oh, I think they had, you know, just overall the board was very competitive in terms of getting in this year. So it’s really great to see those women were selected on their merit and brought in on that basis. And it’s no

[00:38:34] Carlton: longer the organization, when it started, it was almost just Kevin and himself.

[00:38:38] Carlton: It is now quite a few people beneath it. So it’s a growing organization, Cycling Industries Europe. Yeah, I think they’re

[00:38:44] Irene McAleese: doing really well. Um, um, you know, there are all these, I think that one of the keys has been the working groups. Um, because something that Kevin said is This really gives a lot of, um, credence [00:39:00] to the EU when they talk about how they actively engage all of the different industry players, um, members, um, through You Through these working groups and how you know different suggestions and things that brought forward it has it does carry more weight So I think that it’s been a clever strategy on the part of the CIE to to have you know Such great engagement with the members and then also To have a really good team like Laura who’s in the team She’s fantastic in being able to you know her understanding of how the whole EU kind of lobbying Machinations work is phenomenal and that’s really needed because you look at You know, she was telling me, like, you think about the car industry and other industries.

[00:39:53] Irene McAleese: They have just whole teams of people that are a hundred percent devoted to lobbying, [00:40:00] you know, the EU get through their agenda. Um, and they are really awake to that. Um, and they, you know, they see the opportunity for really talking up things like, you know, the impact on the economy. That’s been the key.

[00:40:16] Irene McAleese: We’re providing jobs. We’re providing, you know, we it’s a green growth industry and really getting that that message across is, I think, being, you know, one of their strengths, um, and getting cycling seen as another form of transport, not just a lesson for, you know, really bringing it up to the table.

[00:40:37] Irene McAleese: That’s what part of that. EU cycling declaration is about, um, but yeah, combination of good understanding of lobbying and better than conversely really working well with the industry members and, and bringing forward to the table ideas that have been shaped by the community. Um, so I think that’s how they’re doing it.

[00:40:59] Irene McAleese: So [00:41:00] I think, yeah, Kevin is a really great leader in that respect for pulling it together, but he does have a good team behind him. How are you going to

[00:41:07] Carlton: be organizing The team that’s going to be operating your business in, in Northern Ireland and, and how you’re going to be doing it remotely perhaps, or, or, or not, maybe it’s all going to be completely self running.

[00:41:22] Carlton: So, so logistically, how are you going to have a, how you run a business from Australia? Yeah, that’s a great

[00:41:28] Philip McAleese: question. I mean, um, I, I worked in Singapore for a period and so I was very used to the, um, the routine of being, um, you know, comparatively quiet and able to get some strategic work done in the morning.

[00:41:40] Philip McAleese: Um, and then London’s, um, start of day happening and coming online and creating a busy afternoon. So it’s kind of an extension of that where, um, I guess COVID was a good trial for our processes to begin with. We all had laptops. Um, all of our work is done in the cloud with very secure [00:42:00] storage. Um, and so we were able to disperse our various homes and continue to work in a relatively straightforward and easy way.

[00:42:06] Philip McAleese: So we’ve only really come back to a hybrid working model where people are in the office, typically one day per week, um, and it varies depending on the individual. Um, and so we’re already operating in a, in an environment where we’re not seeing everybody face to face every day. So I think. Whether or not we’re in a, uh, our home, we’re in a coffee shop in Brisbane, um, or indeed at home, a coffee shop in Newton Arms or in our office at Newton Arms will make comparatively little difference to the overall operation of the business.

[00:42:35] Philip McAleese: Um, obviously the time zones are a bit of a challenge. We will definitely be doing, uh, meetings early in the morning, late at night, um, more than we perhaps would like to, but that, that’s the, I guess, the cost of doing it. Um, we’ve got a very strong team here, so we’re very confident that, um, they’ll continue to operate very effectively.

[00:42:51] Philip McAleese: Um, without having us to, to be in the same time zone as them.

[00:42:56] Irene McAleese: And Carlton, we have really, you know, my previous life now, which [00:43:00] is now quite a while ago, um, that was really, my, my background was actually human resource management, change management, um, change management, um, advisor. Um, And so what some of the, some of the things that I learned from that experience, we’ve tried to bring into CSense.

[00:43:17] Irene McAleese: So we do, we run, we run CSense in a, in a way where we’re very values led. Um, so we do invest in really as much as we can with our people trying to help them. Starting from the top is, you know, our mission and our vision, what we’re trying to achieve and helping people see what they do on a day to day.

[00:43:38] Irene McAleese: basis really aligns with that. So that comes through from how we recruit people to how we do our performance management development. We have like quarterly team events, which we’ll continue to do where we get everyone together face to face and we have like bottom up and get, you know. Bottom up engagement in developing our OKRs, [00:44:00] Objectives and Key Results for the next quarter.

[00:44:02] Irene McAleese: So we’ve got some really nice kind of processes in place that help people feel engaged and part of the process and that they’ve got, you know, good mechanisms for communication and that kind of stuff as well. So. It’s not just, you know, you’ve got your laptop and you’re on your own. You know, we really do put a lot of work into managing all of the glue that brings people together.

[00:44:27] Irene McAleese: It’s going to be a challenge, absolutely. I’m sure we’ll have some teething issues as we land in Australia, working it out. But I genuinely think it’s not insurmountable. We’ve got a couple of team members at the moment. One, one based in Wales, actually, our new BizDev manager, Craig Brew, and we have Becky, um, Marsden in, in Birmingham.

[00:44:50] Irene McAleese: Um, the rest of the team here in Northern Ireland are actually a bit dispersed over Northern Ireland. Some in, in, in Derry, one’s in, in Enniskillen, [00:45:00] a couple of them down in Enniskillen actually. So we’re kind of a bit dispersed anyway, and it’s, it’s working. Sorry, it’s just getting a bit more extreme in the disbursement.

[00:45:12] Carlton: Yeah. Yeah. So you’re not just 20 miles apart, you’re going to be quite a few thousand miles apart. But yeah, that’s right. I mean, you can run a business. Uh, from wherever you are in the world, I guess the way we have now seem to have landed after COVID in, in, in everybody now knows how to use teams or most people knows how to use teams and all the different sharing platforms.

[00:45:38] Carlton: So you’ve kind of, we kind of. When I used to these things, you can now run a business. Nobody will think it completely odd. Remember 10 years ago, that would have been completely alien. Now it’s like, of course you can run a business from Australia. You’re just on Skype all the time. Or there’s Skype equivalents now.

[00:45:55] Carlton: I

[00:45:56] Irene McAleese: do worry though, because you know I’ve been, well, the last, the last fortnight [00:46:00] I’ve kind of done this really Condensed. Almost it feels like my swan song. I’ve been to all these conferences trying to see people face to face taking selfies with them and stuff because there is something really wonderful about that face to face experience.

[00:46:17] Irene McAleese: Um, and seeing, you know, I, you know, I think that that is really important and I worry a bit about that. Obviously not going to be able to do that as much. Having said that, there’s some key events. I would likely see, I would try to make things like the VeloCity, for example, where lots of like minded people come together.

[00:46:39] Irene McAleese: I think next year’s in Bruges. Ghent. Yeah, Ghent. So, yes, Ghent. So, um, it’s sort of, that, that would be definitely penciled in and, um, we, we have Phil’s, um, family’s still here in Northern Ireland, so we expect to be back for that, um, as well Christmas time. So we, we, you know, we will try to, [00:47:00] um, make the most of any trip that we have back and, and connect with people face to face where we can, um, because it’s really important.

[00:47:08] Irene McAleese: Actually, I haven’t seen you face to face for a while, Carlton, so maybe the next VeloCity.

[00:47:14] Carlton: Yes, yes, because VeloCity does travel the world. So, you know, it has been in, in, in Australia before. And as you mentioned before, you know, it’s been in Taipei. There was a, there was a, there was a version across there.

[00:47:27] Carlton: So you just got to wait for it to come to Australia again.

[00:47:30] Irene McAleese: Yeah, I heard that they were, I heard they were trying to, or they were thinking about getting one in Australia soon, but I don’t know if that’s going to come off.

[00:47:39] Carlton: Well, it’s been fascinating to talk to you. Thank you very much for, for, for taking the time, Philip and Irene.

[00:47:44] Carlton: I wish you all the best. How long have you got left in the UK? And are you finished? Are you like, are you wrapped up with things?

[00:47:52] Irene McAleese: Oh my god, no. We are literally working right up until the day we go, Carlton. Fourth of [00:48:00] December is the day we get on the plane. I’m actually going to London this afternoon, I’ve got a really exciting workshop we’re doing in London tomorrow, where we’re getting all of our, not all, but many of our key clients together, plus some very interesting thought leaders, Professor John Parkin being one of them, uh, we’re going to be brainstorming together how we can use AI and machine learning on CSense data to Um, Um, develop out in the next phase of our dashboard, which is a super exciting project.

[00:48:36] Irene McAleese: Um, so that’s happening, that’s happening tomorrow in London. Um, and then, um, there’s, there’s lots of stuff really going on right up until we go. Um. So yeah, never, never a dull moment.

[00:48:50] Carlton: No. Uh, well, I wish you all the best, both of you, and I can pretty much guarantee I will be still talking to you. And we don’t have to meet in the [00:49:00] flesh for us to, for us to talk because we, you know, I think it was at the, the, the London move conference when we talked to you last, but that was only.

[00:49:09] Carlton: That was only February, wasn’t it? So that wasn’t that long ago. Oh, that was just Philip, actually. I think that was just Philip, wasn’t it, Irene? You weren’t there at that one. I saw Philip. Right, so, so, so best of British. Best of luck across in Australia. And I will be talking to you when you’re in Australia.

[00:49:27] Carlton: We’ll just be on a different time zone, that’s all. Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. McAleese there and thanks to you for listening to episode 343 of the spokesman podcast brought to you in association as always with Turn Bicycles Shownotes and more can be found at the hyphen spokesman dot com the next episode Should be the fourth dedicated to cycle navigation out As I talk to Cammo, that show will be out next month, [00:50:00] but meanwhile, get out there

[00:50:04] Irene McAleese: and ride.

[00:50:45] Irene McAleese: Yeah, and I wonder, Carlton, if my accent is going to change. Philip says it changes as soon as I hit the, hit the tarmac and then I go full Aussie. So you will be able to tell me if I get better at using [00:51:00] data, data. Well, you’ve been

[00:51:01] Carlton: here, you’ve been here 20 years, but you haven’t lost, I mean, I’m sure people in Australia think you’ve, you’re, you’re completely Northern Irish with your accent, but we, we, I, I can certainly tell that you’re Australian, uh, with your accents.

[00:51:13] Carlton: You haven’t lost that, but yeah, I’m sure you’ll be even broader, um, once you’ve lived there for a bit. Yeah,

[00:51:19] Irene McAleese: you have scarred me though because I was presenting last week in, um, I was presenting last week in the Manchester conference and I actually heard myself say data and data in the same sentence as I was presenting, and I actually laughed and said, Oh my god, I’ve just done what Carlton Reed told me to do.

[00:51:44] Irene McAleese: Oh, yeah, so, um, So funny.

[00:51:47] Carlton: Thank you. What would be interesting is how, what Philip says. Will he change? Oh my goodness. Will you have an Australian accent, Philip?

[00:51:56] Philip McAleese: It’s a good question. I mean, I did spend ten years working in London. [00:52:00] Um, I did learn to speak a bit more clearly and a bit more slowly than the average Northern Irish person, perhaps.

[00:52:04] Philip McAleese: But, um, yeah, it’ll be interesting to

[00:52:07] Carlton: see. And your kids, what do they speak? What language do they speak? So, our…

[00:52:13] Philip McAleese: I hope they’re NI. Yeah. Yeah. They’re very good at doing accents, though, so it’ll be interesting to see, um, how quickly they morph and how that changes.

[00:52:23] Carlton: Twelve and fourteen. I should imagine pretty quick.

[00:52:27] Carlton: Yep. Pretty quick. Oh, my kids, my kids are bilingual. So, certainly, uh, one of my daughters is, uh, very broad jawed y. When she’s with her friends, but if she’s in a professional, uh, setting, can quickly switch to, to, uh, uh, the received pronunciation, shall we

[00:52:48] Irene McAleese: say. Did I see online, she, she, um, got into medicine or she graduated in medicine?

[00:52:55] Irene McAleese: That’s

[00:52:55] Carlton: my other daughter. Oh, okay. Twin daughters. You’ve got twins? And, uh, yes. [00:53:00] And, and they, uh, chalk and cheese. The doctor daughter has always spoke with an English accent only whereas my footballer daughter Uh, my fitness freak daughter, because she had footballing friends, she would then, and just when she goes to the Newcastle matches, she will speak incredibly broad Geordie with them, and then English with other people.

[00:53:30] Carlton: So yeah, your kids are going to get the best of both worlds, you’re going to be speaking probably Uh, one, one accent with one set of people at home and then very quickly a completely Aussie twang. That, that probably happens. But you know,

[00:53:46] Irene McAleese: I told you, Carlton, that my grandparents are Geordies, which were Geordies.

[00:53:50] Irene McAleese: Oh.

[00:53:51] Carlton: Yes. I think I remember.

[00:53:53] Irene McAleese: Yes. Yes. Yes. So, they they emigrated to Australia in the fifties. Um so, I grew up with the [00:54:00] Geordie accent. Um and they my my grandmother, she still had, she lived in Australia since in 1951, I think they arrived and she passed away. She she still had a twang, a little bit of the Geordie accent there.

[00:54:17] Irene McAleese: So, But it’s always, I don’t know, because it’s the accent of my grandparents, it’s etched in my brain and it’s a comforting and nice quality to it, to me.

November 19, 2023 / / Blog

November 3, 2023 / / Blog

3rd November 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 342: Yorkshire Coast Gravel with Markus Stitz

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Markus Stitz

TOPICS: Two epic wet days riding in Yorkshire with gravel guru Markus Stitz

LINKS: Route YC. Bike & Boot hotel. LNER. Josh Reid’s YouTube channel.


[00:00:00] Welcome to episode 342 of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast. This show was engineered on Friday 3rd of November, 2023.

The Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast is brought to you by Tern Bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e bikes for every type of rider, whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school, or even carrying another adult.

Visit www. ternbicycles. com [00:01:00] That’s T E R N bicycles. com to learn more. You may know Markus Stitz as Scotland’s very own German gravel guru, but I caught up with him in Yorkshire for two days of epic and rather wet riding. He’s been researching gravel and road rides for Route YC, a new brand for getting out and about on the Yorkshire coast.

I’m Carlton Reid, and I recorded audio with Markus as we rode on the cinder path between Scarborough and Whitby. This former railway line is one of the suggested rides that’ll go live on RouteYC. co. uk early next year. Also along for the ride was my endurance riding son. Josh, he’s not on the audio, that’s going to follow in a second, but he was filming beside us.

[00:02:00] So watch out for this video on his YouTube channel soon. In fact, there were three videographers on the trip, so we stopped lots. My video, short and sweet, is already on the hyphen spokesman dot com. Markus, I cannot see any whisky distilleries. I cannot see any young men in kilts. I cannot, we’re not, some puddles, but there are no lochks.

Um, what kind of part of Scotland have you brought me to here, Markus?

Um, Yorkshire.

This is a bit of a detour, literally, for you, isn’t it? Like, I mean, how come you’re in Yorkshire, Markus?

Yeah, it’s a, it’s a new, new territory for me. Um, I, I was approached by Tom Campbell, who [00:03:00] designed the North Coast 500 initially, and he was working on a project down here, and he was basically creating a number of routes down here for gravel bikes, road bikes, and touring bikes, and…

Due to the fact that I’ve done quite a bit of work of the same kind in Scotland and when I wrote Great British Travel Writer, I actually travelled a fair bit out of Scotland as well. Yeah, true. Um, yeah, it was, it was interesting to be commissioned. I think it’s, it’s been, it’s been interesting from a point of view that this has pretty much been a blank canvas for me, whereas in Scotland, most of the projects.

I had some sort of connection to the areas by either having lived there or travelled and, um, and this was, was slightly different about, but really enjoyable and it’s a beautiful part of the world. It’s [00:04:00] nice and what I loved about it is, it is very central. Yeah. It’s so much more accessible for. I better just describe what we’re going through because we are now going through quagmires, quite deep mud and it’s black mud.

Uh, and you could say it’s like cinders, because this is a cinder track. I’m just going to zip my top up here. Thank you. Thank you. So we’re going through black mud. Uh, we’re going underneath railway bridges. So clearly an old railway. Yes. Where have we come from and where are we going along this, the cinder track, Marcus?

So we’ve come from Scarborough. We joined the cinder track a little bit further on, so it starts in the town. But we went a little bit along the coast first and then joined it. And we’re heading to Whidbey on this. So, I [00:05:00] think it’s about 24 miles in total, this stretch. And, I mean, you were telling us before that it was going to be quite washed out.

Yeah. Is this as worse as it’s going to get worse than this? Um, this is possibly as, as soggy as it will get. It is. I’ve ridden this in, uh, in summer, and in summer it’s, it’s really enjoyable. Yeah, summer, it’s obviously, it’s dry. Now, they were talking about, uh, putting asphalt on the cinder track all the way, because then that would make a, you know, a Whitby to Scarborough.

But clearly they haven’t done that. I think there was a lot of protest to stop them doing that. So we did some stretches on asphalt, on tarmac, through town, but now we’re on the dirt. I mean, it’s quite okay here, but there are stretches where if you were on an everyday cycle, you wouldn’t want to go through that, and then even back further back there, [00:06:00] it was a lake.

That was, uh, something else. So this is, this is, I mean, the cinder track is like, it’s at the backbone of all your routes. Is it something that you think you’d use quite a lot to get from the variety of routes you’ve chosen? Yeah, it’s part of three routes. Um, I wouldn’t say it’s a back… Well, it’s kind of…

It’s possibly the longest continuous cycle track section along the coast. Um, but… The routes itself… It’s the road bikes that only take tarmac. If you go ahead there, Markus, I’ll catch you up. We can both carry on talking, don’t worry. Yeah, and… Thank you. Hello. Hey, uh, hi guys. Yeah, so there’s routes. Gravel bikes.

Road bikes and touring bikes. Alright, so we’re not just gravel bikes. I thought it was like, it’s only gravel. So this is, this is the whole commute then, that’s good. Yeah, so it’s, yeah. And there’s [00:07:00] also, so… The heart of the project is, uh… Went about 420 kilometres. I’ve forgotten how much that is in miles. I think 260 miles.

Um, so that’s a longer adventure route. But then there’s also a route which is shorter and suitable for riding on a weekend. Yeah. Uh, then a cycle touring route because further down south is Hull. What’s the route called? What’s the, what’s the, what are these routes? Route Yorkshire Coast. Yorkshire Coast, okay.

Um, but it does venture all of those roads, uh, routes. I think I have a nice mix of coastal riding, but also you go a little bit further inland because you’ve got the Yorkshire moors. Yep. And the vaults as well. And then, I particularly like the southern section actually, um, around Holderness. Because it’s, it’s quite flat, um, but quite interesting riding.

Like it’s not, it’s not flat riding where you get easily bored. [00:08:00] It’s um, yeah, really nice. Small villages and, um, sand dunes and, yeah, it’s just a really, I think that’s what I, what I do like about this region. It’s, there’s a huge variety of landscapes in a very, very small area if you travel through it. And how long have you been working on it, Mark?

I mean, you’ve done this, like, a lot of it in the winter. So it’s going to be a huge surprise to you in the summer, or have you been working on it so long that you’ve done the whole, you’ve done every season? So, I had initial discussions in April, and then I got commissioned in early June. Yeah. Early June.

And then ever since then, pretty much on and off, with a few other projects in between as well. Um, but, yeah, pretty much since the beginning of June. I’ve been doing this. And then we, we, we joined you last night. So I’m with, uh, we’re with Josh. So I’ve got [00:09:00] two intrepid world explorers here uh, helping me.

And actually very much helped me because I had a brake block, or a brake pad problem. And uh, the two world expeditionists just sorted me out. I didn’t have to do a thing, it was great. Uh, so I’m with Josh, my son, and with Marcus here, obviously. Riding along the cinder track, between Scarborough and Whitby.

And then we’re going to be going inland a bit. But when we met you last night, because we stayed, I mean I stayed there before with a dog. And it’s a fabulous hotel for dogs, for the same reasons it’s a fabulous hotel for cyclists actually. And that’s the Bike and Boot in Scarborough. And that was a brilliant hotel.

So just describe what it, if you’re a cyclist and you’re coming to Scarborough, What are you going to get from the bike and boot? I think, as a cyclist, it’s possibly the most important thing is you can lock your bike away securely, and you can wash it. [00:10:00] There’s a fantastic bike wash there, isn’t there?

Which is particularly good if you’ve just cycled along the coast and got your bike coated in salt water. Yeah. Um, so the bike facilities are pretty top notch. They are really nice. I, I just, I also think it’s really friendly staff and, and, and the rooms are lovely as well. I think it’s got a, it’s got a nice, I like quirky places.

I like places that have character. I mean, I’m equally happy to stay in my tent for the night. Yeah. Doesn’t have to be indoors all the time. But if I stay indoors, it’s just nice to have somewhere where you kind of feel like I’m welcomed here. Um, I’ve got a nice comfy place. I’ve got a coffee machine in the rooms as well, which I think is particularly helpful.

That, that always helps, definitely. I’m a bit of a night owl and early riser, so. Um, and actually, the thing we, we missed, because we came in late, they, they’ve got free cake at 4 o’clock as well. This is why it’s perfect for cyclists. Free cake, 4 o’clock. There you go. So far, I’ve mostly missed [00:11:00] that, because I was mainly out riding my bike at that time.

So you stayed there not just last night, you stayed there previously? Yeah, I stayed there quite a few times now, yeah. Yeah, it’s a cool hotel. Uh, now you’re, you’re not at the hotel, but you are with certain people. So tell me who you were filming with yesterday, that people will, will know from your videos.

Yeah, so Mark, Mark Beaumont, good friend of mine, and Jenny Graham. Um, we’ve… We’ve actually done quite a few projects together. We’ve done a film last year in Argyll in Scotland. And we bunched up again this year to do this. Yeah, it’s quite fun. I think it’s interesting because we are very similar in the way that we’ve, the three of us have ridden around the world.

Mark and Jenny hold world records, I don’t. Um, but I’m okay with that. I’ll cycle at a single speed so that possibly counts [00:12:00] as well. That’s a world record in itself. Come on. Going round on a single speed. Yeah. Um, so yeah, it’s been really nice just to kind of ride around. And the nice thing is, like, I guess we are, all the three of us, function really well independently.

But it’s also quite nice having the three of us together. And… It’s just, it’s the old crew really, isn’t it? It’s like, absolutely, it’s your classic. So you’ve, even though, and that’s the classic Scottish crew. Yeah. So even though people would think, oh well, you know, you’re going to be doing a route in Scotland.

You’ve actually come to Yorkshire. You’ve transplanted to, uh, uh, uh, to Yorkshire. Yeah. So describe those routes again then. What, what have, what have you got? What kind of, what’s the most challenging? And what’s the easiest? And then maybe we’ll get to the middle bit. Yeah, so the most challenging is, uh, I guess I would call it a four to five day [00:13:00] route.

Um, the adventure route. Um, we, we, possibly we give it a more distinctive name, but that’s what the working title is at the moment. Um. Which is a good point. So, would, this is not actually open yet as such? When is it launching? When is the actual… to the Yorkshire. Yeah. Roots will be launching in early 2024, so at the end, back end of January next year.

Um, just hopefully in time for people making plans to plan their holiday next year on a bike. Right, so I interrupted you there Markus, sorry, just to get, you know, exactly when this is opening. So you’re starting on the challenging, so four, five day challenging route. Yeah. Is that linking every single route up, or is that like a big circle?

What is that? It’s kind of, in a way, it is a circular route that’s, which kind of encloses all the other routes which are in there. Um, but it’s a route, a route by itself and that one is, I guess it’s designed for people who either want to get into bikepacking [00:14:00] and don’t mind having a longer route, but something which is a bit less challenging to start off with so you can ease in over the first two days.

And then once you hit the North York moors, things get a bit more remote and a bit steeper. So it starts in Scarborough, heads down the coast, beautiful coastline. Basically what we’re doing now? Is that the first part of it? That will be the last part actually, so we’re going in reverse at the moment.

Right. The last section will be coming down from Bridge Beach, Scarborough, on the cinder track. Um, but yeah, you start off on the coast, go all the way down to Spurn Point, which is a super interesting place. Um, it’s a sand pit sticking out into the Humber and then back through the inland actually. So once you’ve done the coast pit, um, you go a little bit further inland, um, and then into the

moors. So through the walls first and then into the moors and then [00:15:00] north of the River Esk to Whitby and then back down to Scarborough. Yeah. And sand pit. Yeah, there’s quite a bit of climbing in that as well. But, it’s, I guess I design routes this, I think that’s, and this is, this is, this is, I guess the result of, of having done this a number of times now.

I guess I look at surface, I look at gradients, I look at how this works together so, you know, you don’t really want to batter people continuously with one steep hill after another one. Um, a nice mix of it is welcome. Um, but it’s also looking at facilities for cyclists along the way. So, um, is there, is there accommodation?

Are there places for people to get some food? I think it’s super important to kind of look at public transport as well. So actually before I did any of the routes here, [00:16:00] I had a look at how people can get here by train. And then kind of… Because it’s really good to understand what the main routes are and how people can get here and then kind of looking at starting points.

So the reason why Scarborough, for example, is the starting point. It’s just the most accessible place if you take the train. Yes, so back in the bike and boot in the, I don’t know about your room, Marcus, but say in my room there was a poster there 1930s poster for LNER, in fact. Yeah. When, you know, they were doing holiday trips to, to Scarborough.

So it is accessible by train, very accessible. We certainly got here by, by train. So we took the LNER from Newcastle, got to York. I mean, it was challenging weather yesterday. So, you know, a lot of Scotland has been inaccessible to train just recently. And parts of Yorkshire were [00:17:00] inaccessible to train yesterday.

But we did get here, about an hour. An hour late once we got the, the train from York to, to Scarborough. Got to the bike and boot and just about made it before, uh, the chef went home for the night. So we had a couple of burgers while we got in. Now, this is a beautiful route, so we’re, we’re expecting tons of rain the next day.

But right now, we’re, we’re kind of wet underfoot, but… We’re dry, we’re dry. So we’ve got squirrels going between our wheels almost. We’ve got this amazing churned up black mud. Which is where the cinder name comes from. Um, but it is beautiful. Now what we’ve got coming up so we’re gonna, in a minute we’re gonna have we’re gonna have views in about Half an hour probably to, to Robin Hood’s Bay.

What, what, what route, what can you [00:18:00] see from the cinder track? So this, this first section is, yeah, quite enclosed in the woodland. It’s beautiful. And then once we come to Ravenscar, Um, which has a lot of interesting history behind it, because it used to be, well, supposed to be a big town, but it never went, took off.

Um, so from Ravenscar onward, you’ll get some amazing views right over the bay. over to Robin Hoods Bay. And then from Robin Hoods Bay, we would have a climb up again and then views towards Whitby and the Abbey. Ooh! Ooh! Yeah, Mark has had a bit of a slip there. I’m doing my cyclocross exercise here. Yeah. Um, I mean the track is definitely quite cut up, isn’t it?

Yeah, and then yeah, I just think Whitby is such a beautiful setting, the town. And there’s also For anyone who is super brave, possibly we shouldn’t, shouldn’t encourage people to do that. But there’s a, there’s a road called [00:19:00] Church Lane, which is a extremely steep cobbled road. Um, so there’s a… Coming down from the…

Coming down from the Abbey. The Abbey in Wembley, yeah. Past the graveyard that inspired Dracula. Yeah. Bram, Bram Stoker. Bram Stoker. Yeah. Um, yeah. We tried to ride that yesterday. I think we were all brave enough for the first bit and then did, um, kind of good production over braveness, braveness and push the bike for the last bit.

Yeah. I, I have heard that someone actually circled up there on the flat bike, so it must be doable, but I think you need five inch tires for good, for a good traction. But yeah, it’s a, this is just a really nice mix of. route and some villages and some, some really nice coastal scenery, uh, big cliffs [00:20:00] coming up soon.

Yeah. So I’ve cycled here tonnes. I’ve cycled on the cinder track tonnes and it’s a, it’s a, it’s a great route. Certainly it links into lots of the walled routes that I’m guessing you’re using quite a lot. Yeah. But right now. Yeah. Yeah. We’re going to cut to a break and we’re going to go across to my colleague David as I struggle through these big, big gaps.

Take it away, David.

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And we’re back with Marcus and with Josh somewhere behind. I’m on the cindy track still. And Marcus, before the break, you were telling us, uh, about the, the long route, the challenging route. Yeah. So, first of all, tell us what we’re doing today.

Where are we ending up? So, we’re getting to Whitby. We thought we were getting to Whitby for breakfast, but we’re not. We’re going to get breakfast, or have breakfast at a hotel, but we’re going to get to Whitby. Where are we going from Whitby? Um, there’s, I guess, kind of depends on what time of the day we get there, but roughly, we [00:22:00] head west from there.

So, we either go… Above the Asquarelle to the north, or to the Asquarelle, uh, towards Crosmont. And then to Gauffland, and I’ll be staying in Gauffland. Which is a, it’s like a proper Yorkshire Moors village, with sheep grazing the streets. Yes. I remember the first time I came there, I was just like, this is um…

This is very interesting. And it’s got, I think I, I, I get a, Um, I, I like steam railways. Yeah, I was going to say there’s a railway through there, isn’t there? Yeah. So you can actually take a railway. Can you take your bikes on that railway? Yes, I think you can. Um, they have bike spaces. Um, I haven’t, I haven’t managed to get it yet.

Just done several times of filming steam trains along the way.

I’ll [00:23:00] hold your bike.

This way. There you go. And we’re going through a nice station here. Yeah, I think that used to be a old platform. Yeah. Nice brick and a concrete topping. You can tell this was a railway and a beautiful little cottage here. That was the railway station. Yeah, it would be nice to take the train here. I think it must be an absolutely amazing journey.

Yeah. So there’s somebody just living there. That’s not B& B, it’s not a restaurant, not a cafe. That’s just somebody living there in the station. That’s cool. Yeah. Right, so we’re ending up in Gowtham. And then, if we’ve got some daylight, I’ve asked you if we can crack on and maybe go to Wealdale. Is Wealdale on one of your routes?

We’re not going off route there? It is, um… Yeah, the actual Roman road itself isn’t on it, but the road basically next [00:24:00] to it is on it, yeah. Yeah, so Weald, so that, that, well, it’s still part of your route if we go through Wealdale. Have a, a look at the, the arch… Yeah. Just to, to, to explain, I came to Gowthland and to Wealdale, in fact, Wealdale Lodge, when it was still a youth hostel, and this is 25 years ago, when I was a college student, so I did my geography coursework.

in this part of the world, so I know it well. And I know how gorgeous it is. Uh, no motorcycles on this path, says that sign. Josh is coming through, so we’ll leave the gate open. So we’re gonna go and hopefully go and see the Roman road. And then we are staying in Gotland. Yes. And then, so that’s where we’re going.

So how about, uh, How about telling us about maybe the simplest routes, the, the easiest routes you can do. Are these family friendly routes? Yes. Um, there’s, so there’s one, I, [00:25:00] just out of the top of my head, the shortest route is a, is a crabber route around Friley. So it starts in Friley and then kind of meanders through the Lettish farmland um, on the back of Friley, and then you come back to Friley.

That’s about it. I think less than 10 miles in total. Um, Um, so that’s certainly. Then there’s another one up in Whitby which is a bit more hilly, but takes you on the cinder track for a short section, and then through the Asprelli and back. I guess the cinder track if it’s, if it’s in summer. section, so I particularly recommend going from Whidbey to Robin Hoods Bay and back.

That would be a nice family friendly route because it’s flat ish. Um, and there’s some nice places to get some food in Robin Hoods Bay on Whidbey. Yeah. Um, [00:26:00] and, and the other, I think the other really interesting, which is not like a route in itself, but, um, If, one thing which feels like an adventure but you don’t really go far is to head out to Spurn Point in the south.

Um, it’s a bit pushing your bike over, over the beach for a wee while, but once you get on that tarmac road which is still there, down to the lighthouse, it’s just such a really nice place with loads of birds. So, if you’re into having a bit of wildlife on your cycling trip. That’s the place to go. Thanks to Marcus Stitz there, and thanks to you for listening to episode 342 of the Spokesman podcast, brought to you in association with Turn Bicycles.

Show notes and more can be found at the spokesman. com. The next episode will be the fourth dedicated to cycle navigation apps, as I [00:27:00] talk to Komoot. That show will be out later in the month. But meanwhile, get out there and ride.[00:28:00]

October 25, 2023 / / Blog

25th October 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 341: In conversation with Carla Francome

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Carla Francome

TOPICS: The joy of cycling with commuter-to-club-cyclist Carla Francome


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 341 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Wednesday 25th of October 2023.

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:03
Hi there. I’m Carlton Reid. And first off an apology. A number of listeners told me of download problems with episode 340 with theRide with GPS co founder Zack Ham, those problems have been fixed. Thanks for pointing that out. Now, today’s show is a joyful chat with Carla Francombe. We also touch on the downsides of social media. And then segue into Carla’s journey in cycling from just commuting through to becoming a club cyclist and taking part in an uphill and mountain based charity event. So Carla, it is absolutely brilliant to actually physically talk to you. I feel as though I know you.

And I’m sure that the feeling is kind of mutual in that we’ve followed each other on Twitter stroke, X, whatever, Elon Musk is going to call it next week. Yeah. So that’s how I came upon you is via social media. So it’s now good to actually talk to you. And I’ve got to say to you that the reason I wanted to talk to you and want to talk to you for a long time is because you bring a lot of joy Oh, into the world of social because social media can be an incredibly, incredibly depressing place. But here you are. You’re you’re making faces, you’re making your fun of yourself. You’re making fun of others quite legitimately. And you’re it seems to me, I don’t know, this, maybe you’re just putting on a front? I don’t know. But it seems to me you’re having a ball. And and you’re also you’ve been on a journey. Yeah. So that’s what I’d like to talk about today is about the joy that you bring to my social media feed when your tweets come up, and you’re pulling faces. I love all that stuff. But also how you’ve been on quite a journey. Yeah. In in the world of cycling. Yes. So let’s, let’s, let’s talk about that. But first of all, let’s, let’s find out about you. So so you don’t have to give me your exact address or anything, but it’s roughly where are you? And what do you do for a living?

Carla Francome 3:07
Hey, well, thank you for having me on the show, Carlton. It’s lovely to talk to you. So I live I’m a woman in her 40s, mid 40s. I live in North London in an area called bounds green. I’m a live TV producer by trade. So I make TV programmes, everything from come down with me to Current Affairs and things like that. And in my spare time, I do a lot of cycling and talk about it a lot on social media. And I do love it, I do find it such fun. And I didn’t cycle for probably about 10 years because I had kids and they were very small and they’re always in push chairs and we’re in a flat and there wasn’t room for a bike. And then I got back on it again a few years ago and I just loved it and what was amazing for me as well as

you know, being a little kid so you know, love so much, but they need you so much was just to be able to get off on the bike and feel free of everything within a minute or two and just to be able to go on an adventure and it always feels like an adventure whether you know and often it’s just a commute and it’s often the same commute. But always meet someone different or you know you see someone and they’ve got a great handbag or you know something or basically something always happens I don’t think there’s ever been a bike ride when nothing has happened. Something always happens. So always feels like an exciting adventure and I do love it.

Carlton Reid 4:18
That is cute because you are clearly very very observational. You’re very good at spotting things that maybe other people aren’t spotting and then remarking upon it and then then you take your it’ll take a photo of a hug or something. Yeah, or somebody Yes, with a nice bike and then you’ll just photograph and then you’ll kind of go you’re just kind of like a spin off on that which is really really, really cute. Now but you do let’s let’s let’s let’s be frank here. Both you and me. We also get quite a bit abuse. Yes, unfortunately. From from from whom who gives you abuse and why why would they attack Carla? Who is bringing joy to the world? Why? Why attack you Carla?

Carla Francome 4:59
controversial things, some of the things that I say and that you say. I mean, you know, sometimes people get annoyed because you’re just, you know, cycling around.

I did just exist existing. And they think the funny thing is they always this is brilliant. And I love this, that when you’re cycling, they think that you’ve slowed them down. And he always catch up with them, you always catch up with them, you always do. And I always give them a little wink at the traffic lights. And I’m like, Yeah, wasn’t that slow was i and then there’s always a moment. And actually, you can have a bit of a laugh about it, because I’m not you really didn’t need to overtake me there.

So there is that in real life, people drivers often think that you’re slowing them down, and they just have this desperate need to get past you even if you’re going to catch up with them. But, but on social media, as well. And I think people just want to the things we talk about are often controversial, low traffic neighbourhoods are controversial. And, you know, these aren’t easy things, you know, low traffic, neighbourhoods have a lot of benefits. But I think it’s fair to say that they for some people have disadvantages. And that’s just part of how it works. Now, that isn’t right. These aren’t perfect, but they’re a starting point, I think. And so I think that there can be real frustration there. And I think it’s just really important for me on a serious note to actually listen to how other people feel. And some people might have more traffic on their roads, or it might be really frustrating for them for various reasons. And I just think that’s really important to say, Okay, this isn’t perfect. How can we work with this as a starting point? So yes, sorry, that was a bit of a serious answer, wasn’t it that?

Carlton Reid 6:28
Well, I’m going to keep on the serious theme in that. How do you how do you obviously physically cope, but as long as mentally How do you mentally cope with the abuse? Because you are a lightning rod? I mean, I sometimes, you know, follow, go down the rabbit hole, have a look at, you know, who’s interacting with you. And it’s awful abuse. And it’s it can be quite personal. Yeah, time these these aren’t just in abstract terms people are throwing at you. They’re being very, very personally horrible. So how do you personally cope with that? And almost, why are you hanging around on social media? Because you’re getting this stuff? So yes, you’re bringing joy, and that’s wonderful. But how are you coping mentally with the abuse you get?

Carla Francome 7:11
Well, I would say that I think most of the comments are really nice. And I think so I kind of pay more attention to that and most people are really positive and supportive. So and I’m a bit of an attention seeker Carlton. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, and I do love the positive attention. My dad’s a clown. My mum was a clown. I used to clown shows with my with my with my mum.

Carlton Reid 7:29
I mean, do you mean literally literally clown. Just he makes you laugh?

Carla Francome 7:33
Yeah. Okay. Okay, so my dad. I mean, maybe we’ll talk more about him but he was very big figure really, he he used to call me stop actually, this quite used to juggle the London Marathon Colton used to juggle marathons with clubs. He was actually the first person we think to juggle a marathon. He did Moscow. He did Swindon. He was you know, he’s in a Mazar but he’s a big character. And

so he’s an extrovert he was brought Butlins redcoat. So as my mum, and I’ve always thought that if you get to Butlins Red Coats, they should not be allowed to breed because they’re basically massive extroverts. And both of my parents do, you know, folk singers, entertainers. So they then produce me and of course, I’m going to become this loud, you know, extrovert person who basically just never shuts up. So yeah, I’ve got the genes of both of them, and it just they just shouldn’t have been allowed to breed.

Carlton Reid 8:25
This explains. So this explains everything.

Carla Francome 8:30
Okay, so yes, so yeah, they’re both clowns. Yeah, just be characters. So I think I just, you know, love attention. And I find everything funny, mainly. But yeah, the appears to be splits in different bits. I mean, there’s a lot about my weight. I’m not thin. I’m a size, I mean, UK size 16, which is average. But when you cycle people seem to think that you’re somehow going to become this whip it, but it doesn’t actually always work like that. And I’m very fit and pure fit and healthy. But I’m not thin. And apparently that was surprising to some people. And sometimes the comments are horrible. I was out the other morning at 7am. And I was going on a long bike ride. And and I posted something and somebody said you are too obese to cycle. And someone else called me lazy. And that actually really annoyed me. I was just like, Screw you, mister. You know, and so I get a lot of comments about my Wait, wait, I’ve been called an ogre.

And yeah, just a lot. But somebody Yeah, all that sort of stuff. So that does annoy me sometimes. But I try and talk about it. And one person wrote to me once actually, and they said, look, the way you deal with this is actually impacting other people. They said, I know someone who’s reading this and it’s making them feel they can cope with it. And I thought that’s really good actually. Because if other people are getting abused like this anywhere in their life, or that ever been told that they’re a bit fat or a bit this if they can see me talk about it, laugh it off, and you know, then then they might feel better about it. So that’s why I do it really.

Because there’s clearly a whole tonne of misogyny going on here because, yeah, I get abuse. I tend I’ve got very little physical abuse. So the odd one, maybe one

Carlton Reid 10:00
Somebody six months might comment upon the lack of hair on my head. But generally the abuse I get is is intellectual abuse. So it’ll be my ideas people are not they’re not attacking me for what I look like, mainly because I’m a I’m an adult. I’m very upset that I haven’t been, you know, one of callers. However, you can do that at the end of the show, you know, you can say, Oh, by the way, exactly. Thank you. saucepot. I want to be I want to call it Sourcepoint. Exactly. But that’s mainly because we haven’t met Oh.

Yeah, exactly. So we’ve got that got that settled, we know that. But people generally are not, you know, abusing me physically. So the misogyny is clearly there. They’re attacking you. You’re using physical attributes, which is that basically being

Carla Francome 10:52
British. That’s it, that’s really interesting. I’ve not thought of that. So you don’t get the physical abuse. Whereas I guess then as a woman, you’re expected to look a certain way and look a certain way to impress men if you’re heterosexual, you know, so you’re supposed to be thin, and you’re supposed to be extremely pretty. And you’re supposed to be like this. And that, well, I’m not always like that. And normal, a lot of other people and that should be fine. So yeah, that’s really interesting. Actually, the the amount, and it was often men, some lot of men are totally, and it is not about my weight. And I think it’s because it’s something easy that they that people can see, I guess is that I’m not skinny. The funny thing was, I didn’t ever really think I was that big. And people talk people started going on about it a lot on Twitter, and I was like, Really, but um, but I really try and turn it around a bit. So recently, there was a there was a day of protests, organised by initially by some amazing people in Birmingham safe streets now, they called it and I thought, You know what, and I was doing a cycle ride. In the afternoon, I was cycling up swains lane. It was a bike ride,

Carla Francome 11:52
the urban hill climb, and I thought I really wanted to have a poster or something that said safe streets now. But I couldn’t carry anything on my bike, really. And then I thought, I know I’m right on my stomach, because everyone’s always going on about my stomach. So it could be a useful billboard, have never got it out before. I mean, listen, listen, this is not a midwife that you would want to display. So I wrote. So my daughter wrote safestreets Now in black mark on my stomach, and actually, it felt quite profound because she, you know, she was born in my stomach, you know, when she came out there. And so I wrote safestreets Now, and oh, my God, I mean, really, I put it up there. And the comment, somebody said, you should not be allowed to cycle up the hill when you’re that pregnant. That’s what actually someone said, as if I was like, seven months pregnant. I was like, Look, I’m at the family most three months pregnant looking. I’m not eight months pregnant looking people. And then other people, someone called me an ogre. They all said, but you know what, it got loads of people talking about safe streets now. So I was like, well, there you go. It’s worked. You all you fools are fooled into a trap. So So you know, I just think you’ve got to kind of try and turn it to your to make a joke out of it or something. But But obviously, there is something there of it does seem to be of men thinking that you have to look as a woman a certain way. And that needs to change because that’s not fair. We don’t all look like we’re trying to hurt colour.

Carlton Reid
They’re all they are trying to hurt you. And there’s they’re assuming I am assuming what they’re assuming I am assuming that they are assuming that a physical Bob will hurt you more than any other insult and that’s that’s they’re trying to niggle you they’re trying to get it right. And they’re doing that by using physical.

Carlton Reid 13:35
Being awful about you. Yes, you know, so I’m assuming that’s what that they’re trying to do. And that’s why I don’t get those attacks, because they must assume that well, a man will not be bothered. If we quote you know, these bold

many men. Do you think that’s what it is that men think women care more about what people think about them? Yes. And they’re trying that they’re having right, what’s the I don’t like Carla? I don’t like the fact that she likes bikes. I don’t like the fact she’s trying to get cars off the street. I am going to attack her what she looks like, because that’s what I think will hurt her.

Carla Francome
That’s interesting. I’ve not thought of that. So that and then they they hope that I’m going to pipe down and as a result, which is extremely unlikely. Unfortunately for them, the chances that I’m going to pipe down

Carlton Reid
Yeah, Far be it for me to to a point on this because I’m not a woman. But when you look at you know the people who the women on social media who do get attacked a lot. I think that is what they’re trying but the misogynist are trying to achieve, get women to shut up. You should not be talking in the public space, the public space, it’s for men. It’s an unbelievable 1950s mentality these people have got and they are trying to silence who they believe should not be talking in public. It’s clearly you know, from the past this is not something you know, a modern person should really be attacking you shouldn’t be using this plague.
add stuff to use, you know, physical attributes, it’s just you almost think, well, if they’re going on that they really haven’t got any intellectual yes, they’re just purely going straight into this.

Carla Francome 15:13
I’m going to do that. And you know, and it sticks and stones can see, that’s interesting cuz it makes me think maybe I’m not actually that fat,

Carlton Reid
then they’re just looking for something or they go for a physical thing. Because they think that as a woman, that’s what bothers you. And so they’re going to try and hit you where it hurts, right? Whereas it’d be your hair, it would be, you know, lack of makeup or too much, it’d be something else. If it wasn’t that, yes, it would be something else to niggle you. That’s what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to upset. Yeah, they’re trying to Yeah. And they think, and that’s, you know, that they’re trying to stop you talking, they’re trying to stop this public discourse from people they do not believe should be in the public realm. It

Carla Francome
Well, that’s really interesting. And also, I think it’s interesting, because maybe it’s not as important to women, what they look like, as what these people think I’m not so bothered, like, you know, I’m in my 30s. Now, this is, you know, this is who I am. And also, I was never like the prettiest girl of my friends in school. You know, like, I had absolutely stunning friends. But I was the funny one. And I made people laugh. So that was always what I, you know, liked about myself. So I’ve never been like this kind of beautiful thing. So if somebody says something about my appearance, I don’t really care. So I think, you know, a lot of women don’t really might not really care, their value is not what they look like, you know, it’s great. If you look great. And it’s nice to try and look great. But it’s not exactly as if that’s all women are. And maybe that’s what annoys them, actually, is that actually there’s a lot of women talking, it’s saying their opinion, no, they hate your opinion, as well. But they’re not. They’re not, they’re not attacking you really on your opinions. They attack me on my opinions, or my ideology, if they believe one, but they attack you on physical trait that is so very telling very interesting, and there was a great one. And I must just tell you quickly, which was a guy over took me very quickly in his car, and it was scary. And I pulled up to him. And I said what you did there was actually it scared me, I felt frightened. And he said, I don’t care. You shouldn’t be on the road. And I said, Look, people have died on their bikes, you know, this is a big thing. And he said, again, I don’t care. And we started having this argument. And that’s when he looked at me and when you chunky bitch, and I was just like, Oh, wow. And also, of course, he was sitting in his car covered in crumbs and wasn’t thin. So it was like, hang on a minute, you know. So I cycled off, but then I came back and and I didn’t know that we had another altercation. But But yeah, so it happens in the street as well. The very funny thing about that one was though, is I went and talked to all these people at a bus stop, I was a bit shocked. And I said, This man has just called me a chunky bitch. And I kind of went off on one. And they all looked really engaged. And they’re all staring at me. And I thought these people really cared. But it just turned out that I was actually holding up the bus that was behind. And they just looked at me when the bus is behind you. And they didn’t care at all. I just didn’t keep it. But that’s very interesting. So women get a lot more on their appearance then so women must be Yeah, that’s very interesting.

Carlton Reid 18:07
So a few seconds ago, no minutes, probably actually. You mentioned that hillclimb. Yeah, but you did. So let’s talk about the journey because you came into this as a commuter cyclist, and now you’re doing events, you’re going on long distance tours, you know, I’m expecting, you know, the Carla Francombe. Going round the world.

cycling around the world kind of plans bubbling up here. You’ve been on quite a trajectory talk, talk me through that trajectory.

Carla Francome
And I’m very slow. I’m not like your son, I think is a very fast cyclist is me or Josh. He’s done very well.

Carla Francome 18:42
So the weeds Yeah, so I’m just a commuter cyclist. The reason this came up is I’ve got a dear friend called Manny, who had breast cancer over 10 years ago. We’re in our early 30s. And it was a huge, huge shock. And she was treated very well at the Royal Marsden. And she saw this particular professor and got this particular combination of drugs that potentially saved her life. And she set up a ride to charity as a result with some friends called look your difference. And it’s a brilliant thing that happens every year. And they’ve raised over two point, I think it’s I think they’ve now raised 2.5 million pounds. So they raise money for research for fellowships at the World milestone, and this is what this money goes towards. So So my friend Manny was involved with setting this up. And she asked me this year in April, she said, Do you want to do the Cure de France this year as a 10 year anniversary? And she’d mentioned it a few times, and I’ve never been too busy, but that was like gone, then why not manage? She was like, what do you really do it? And I was like, Yeah, brilliant, and it’s brilliant. You’ve done this, and you’ve already so much money and it’s so amazing. But the funny thing was, is that I was so naive, I didn’t even realise what it was I was planning to do. I was like, Oh, how how could it be cycling through the mountains? I was kind of imagining it would be a little bit like the sound of music.

Carla Francome 19:56
So I started training but the funny thing was, the more I train

Carla Francome 20:00
The more I realised how hard this was going to be. So at the beginning, I was kind of like really naive, late, naively ignorant thinking, oh, sorry, I should tell you a bit more about this, this ride. So it’s a four day ride in the Alps. In August, that happens every year. And it’s based on previous bits of the Tour de France. So roots of the Tour de France, and about 60 people do it every year. And it is hard. So every day is about 100 kilometres and about 2000 metres of climbing, which is to Snowdens. So it’s quite a so it’s basically cycling. And you basically just cycle around each mountain going up gradually or sneaking up beside. So it’s not always very steep, but it’s just a long is long, it’s you could be climbing. So you could be cycling uphill for three or four hours, basically at a time. And that’s cycling up all the time. So I didn’t quite realise what was involved when I signed up for it. But I did do a lot of training.

Carla Francome 20:57
So I signed up to a cycling club, and just cycled up as many hills as I could find. So I signed up in about May, and it happened in August.

Carla Francome 21:06

Carla Francome 21:08
so yeah. And, and so yeah, I mean, I did as much cycling as I could, I didn’t have the best bike, I kind of ran out of money, I should have had a light road bike, and I should have had cleats. But I did do a lot of training. I cycled up with Islington cycle club. So I went out with them a lot. And yeah, it was amazing. It was hard. It was basically four days of yeah, just going out and just cycling up, just cycling up and up and up. And you just couldn’t. And also what was so funny about it, sometimes it didn’t even look that steep. And you were like, Why is it so hard? But it was because it was just a bit of a climb, but for hours. But the people were amazing. And the scenery was beautiful. I’ve never been to the Alps before. And it was just stunning. I don’t know if you’ve been Carleton, have you been?

Carla Francome 21:56
It’s amazing, right? So it was just so stunning. So the first day it was it was just so crazy hot, though. So it was it ended up being up to 4547 degrees. And that we did this main mountain called a call and I was just finding it so hard. I couldn’t even tell you why it was hard. It turned out it was just roasting hot, and we had to be taken up in the van. And I was really gutted. I was like, oh my god, maybe I’m just gonna have to go up in a van up all these mountains. But the next day we set off really early, we set off at like seven or 8am. And the first mountain was kind of a three and a half hour climb. I think it was 20 kilometres. And it was around a maybe 1300 metres and I rode with this lovely guy called James. And he stayed with me the whole way. And we just went up and up and up and we got to the top and it was an amazing feeling to just get to the top of the mountain, especially given the day before you know being taken up in the in the van. So got the tarp made it up. And that felt so happy. But then it was another one it was two in a day. So we went down, down, down and then we went up another one. And there was a point when I started to feel really bad. So this was the second day probably about four or five, it was hot again, it was really hot. And oh, everything hurt. I had pain. I had fabric pains in my nether regions and I just thought can I do this and my heart rate kept kind of going up. And I just thought I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it. And what was funny was we had this, these lovely folks in the in kind of a van like, and and they were saying she wanted to she wanted to kip in the fan. Come on, you know, you’ve done enough for today. And I was like, No, don’t ask me again. and lovely. James stayed with me. And there was a good hour where in my head. I’ve never had this before. But my head was kind of like playing this same loop of thoughts of like, Can I do this? I don’t know if I can do this. Am I gonna get to the top? I honestly felt like I was going mad. It hurts. Everything hurts. Can I do that? Like so. But basically, we got past that. And there was just a moment where it got cooler. And there was some shade. And the last kind of half hour was was okay. And we’ve got to the top and and funnily enough, someone had just passed me earlier. And I said I think I’m at the back and they said to me, don’t worry, Carla, there’ll be a bigger welcoming party for you at the top. And, and I kind of didn’t think anyone would even be at the top. I thought they’d have all gone off but they’d all waited and we got to the top and they all cheered. And me and this lovely James guy moved. We just kind of put our arms in the air and they all cheered. And it felt so amazing. And I’ve not had that before of feeling where I’ve kind of achieved something physically like that. And then I looked at my Strava on my watch and it had been over I think it was over 2200 metres. And someone said to me, you’ve climbed to stoke Snowdonia, today, and I was like, wow. And I was so the reaction from people like this guy called Graham. He came he just gave me this big bear hug and he was crying. And my other friend Tony, who set up the Cure de France with Manny and amazing guy, he was like, hugging me and crying as well and he was like it’s the spirit of the Cure do France.

Carla Francome 25:00
And it was just such an amazing feeling. And I guess what’s so nice for me is I’m not an athlete, I’m not thin, I’m not fast. But actually, for me, I’d achieved something that I didn’t think I could do. And, and it made me think all of us, it doesn’t matter if you’re not an a, you know, an Olympian, it’s about kind of like exceeding your own expectations of what you can do for all of us. And it’s an amazing feeling.

Carla Francome 25:24
So that was the second day and then overall, like so over the four days.

Carla Francome 25:29
Other people differ than me, but I cycled three quarters of the height of Everest. So three quarters of an Everest man, I can’t remember how many. I think it was. Yeah, I think I cycled as high as Kilimanjaro over four days.

Carla Francome 25:43
So it was like over 4000 metres. So it was just amazing. Coming back and thinking, wow, I never thought I’d achieve that. And it made me think for all of us, it’s not about what you can do compared to others. It’s about what you can do for yourself and pushing yourself. I’m glad you had that experience. Because as you saying before, it’s it was just up and

Carlton Reid 26:03
up. And that’s that is tough. And especially in that kind of weather. I mean, the last summer was was roasting hot, you know, you can do those kind of climbs, anybody would suffer in the heat on those kinds of climbs. It’s incredibly tough. So kudos for you for doing I remember, you know, reading some of the social media from back in time as well. Very inspiring stuff. Thanks. You know, if people want to do this, and they should do it, they shouldn’t be put.

Carla Francome 26:35
I know it’d be support definitely, always be support that you’re not true. And you know what, when I said I was doing this, and obviously at that point, not quite realistic. What I’d signed up for people were so nice that loads of people wrote to me and said, Look, I can give you some coaching, training and lovely Kate who’s a bike fitter, she she who lives in Hackney, she said she would do it with me. So she’s, she’s become a friend. But I didn’t know her before this. So she was a bike lady who fits people to their bikes and gets, you know, the measurements, right. And she did it and and just so many people helped along the way. And it really made me realise that if you do something that is a bit out of your comfort zone, people do come forward and offer to help. And that was an amazing thing. And people rode with me, even though I was much slower. And so that was really inspiring as well. And I just thought afterwards, I got by with a little help from my friends. And I did, there’s no way I could have done it without all the support I had. And so that was really special as well.

Carlton Reid
So we started by talking about the downsides of social media. But you’ve very much you know, mentioned there basically some of the upsides because the people who came to I do want to carry on talking with you, Carla, and I will come back to you. And we can talk about you at that cycling club and and how you found that experience because that can be quite trying at times. But first of all, let’s go across to my colleague David who will take us into a short ad break.

David Bernstein 27:57
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Carlton Reid 28:57
Thanks, David and we are with Carla Carla Francome have bad I don’t know where. But it’s both London. Not and apparently so I’ll have to look that up on the map and find out exactly where that is and how far you from Swain was at swains.

Lane. Change lane. So how far you have now 25 minutes cycle ride so that’s a very steep hill, huh? Yes. Yeah, that’s where they have all the hills. Remember how steep it is? Maybe it’s 14% is actually not very long. But though there is a bit of it where sometimes the front tire can jump up a little bit. So it’s a bit steep. So yeah, that’s high right now. And right now is Hill Climb season. So we’re coming into that season again, where were the hill climbs certainly in the Northeast.

Start now and they are up and up and up and they hurt. They’re short, but they they definitely yeah hurt. Now you were talking before about joining the Islington cycling club. Now I’m not familiar with that club, but I am familiar

With, with cycling clubs which can sometimes upset because some clubs are not very welcoming of newcomers, others are incredibly welcoming. You know, there’s some sometimes it’s the ethos of the club, you know, we’ll either sink or swim because some clubs, you know, they’ll go out with people and they will drop you. And you know, you’re in the middle of God know, for your from your point of view where you would get to a club, right? But say in where my neck of the woods, then you go out of the club, and you’ll find you’re in the middle of nowhere and you’ve been dropped and you think, Well, hang on, I came out with this club, and they’ve dropped the ball left me. So that’s the ethos, it comes down to the ride captains and the ride leaders about how they cope with it. How have you found your experience with cycling clubs? And what ethos does does the Islington cycle?

Carla Francome
Yeah, these are all really good points. And I think clubs can be intimidating. And I guess it’s finding one that is right for you and having a chat to them first. So I’d actually seen Islington in Regent’s Park, whizzing around, doing laps and seeing their lovely shirts. I mean, to be honest, they also have a nice shirt with a nice green screen stripe, which I thought would look good with a red lipstick. So that’s obviously mainly up to them. I thought I quite liked the look of that jersey, quite fancy that. So so I’d heard a bit about them. And I just knew they had a lot of women. And I’d met them in swains lane, I don’t know go to swains lane on a Wednesday morning, kind of at 630 till 730 and try and do six hills. And they were there then. And they were all really friendly. And they looked lovely. So I kind of had a really good vibe from them. And it turned out that they do no job brides. So they’ll basically particularly on hills, they’ll go up the hill, but then they wait for everyone at the top. So I really liked that love the number of women, one in four of the club writers of women, Islington, and have a lot of riders. So I went along to kind of you have to go along to kind of a trial ride when they give you a chat first and explain how it all works. And a friend Rachel actually who lives nearby is an amazing rider for them. And I knew her and she was doing the intro. So that felt good. So I think I mean, I think funnily enough, I turned up a bit full of myself because I’ve done quite a bit of training lately, I was thinking I’m in great shape, I’m gonna just fly off. So I actually had a bit of a baptism of fire, because I was actually not very fast compared to these other riders. And, and I think probably on our intro ride, we should have split into groups a bit more, but no one really knew you know how fast we were compared to everyone else. And I was in a group with these two, they were 20 Something triathlete women. They were Whippet thin, they had these light bikes and a heist, I had quite a heavy bike and a pannier on it with a with a D lock on just in case.

Carla Francome 32:45
basically shut off. And there were six men, these two women in me and they were just faster than me and I just got a big shock because I was like, Okay, wow, I quite slow compared to these great riders. But they were very sweet because they kind of felt a bit sorry for me, for some of us surely give me sweets. And my watch was beeping and they were like your heart rate, okay. And afterwards, we went to the pub and everyone took the mickey out of me because I had they called me Mary Poppins because I had this pannier and I was pulling all this stuff up by Bernie and I had like a notebook in there. And I had a wallet with loads of receipts and coins. They were like Bochy, doing so. So it was a bit of a shock. But also, it was really amazing to ride with other people and have the routes planned. So it’s very easy, I think, to after an experience like that, where you feel a bit embarrassed, because there were points when they were waiting for me. And I thought, Oh, God, I’m slowing them all down. But you know, I did do it, oh, it’s just a bit slower. And they waited for me at various points. And it would be really easy then to go. Do you know what I’m embarrassed, I’m not going to do that again. But I also thought, well, you know, this, keep going and see how it feels in a month. And people were really nice to me actually on social media. And they said, look, it’s always hard when you join a club, but it’s the best way to improve. So I started going out with a green route group on Sunday mornings. And I did see that we it was amazing. I did a 90 kilometre ride in it, and it was really hard. And two weeks later, I did the same ride. And I felt like a different person. And in fact, it was 110 kilometres. And in two weeks it suddenly I could just do it. And so it was amazing. Because now I can go out on a Sunday morning, and it’s a lovely group and you always chat to all different people. And you’ll go somewhere never go like never think of cycling to say, you know, I don’t know Cambridge or something. But because there’s someone lovely who’s planned the trip for you, you can just go and so it’s a brilliant way to just really improve your fitness and I think it’s tricky at first. But also I thought well by the time I’m up to the green group level, which is the sorry, the slowest group. Now on there and now I’m only going to get faster and get better. So I do really say to people, I do really think it’s worth giving it a go. Even if you feel a bit intimidated at first because you’re only going to get faster and you will find your people.

Carla Francome 35:00
you know, so so it’s been brilliant really.

Carlton Reid 35:04
And he’s still riding with a pannier and lock?

Carla Francome 35:08
I did ditch all that and and I do need to get a lighter bike and I’ve got some cash

Carlton Reid 35:14
so what what what bike Have you got then what bike you riding all these.

Carla Francome
It’s a hybrid, it’s quite heavy, but it’s my mum’s but it’s just really comfortable and I’ve got a bad back at times. And it’s really comfy and it’s got loads of gears, and it means I can go uphill basically at the speed that people walk. So it’s got loads gears, and it’s just a hybrid track.

Carla Francome 35:36
But I do need to get a light bike and cleats. That’s the next thing.

Carlton Reid 35:42
So you’re you’re basically doing road bike events. On in effect a modified a svelte mountain bike, you’ve got flat bars, yes, flat bars, you haven’t got bars. Yeah, and other people who you’re riding with are getting into a tuck position. You know, they’re getting out of the wind, you’re getting out of the wind, you’re suffering at a real disadvantage. I mean, yes, it’s probably okay for girls, but on the flat, you’re suffering a real disadvantage there. If you can’t get down into the tuck. Are you? Are you looking to thinking about getting to a road bike? Or is this something that you’re going to stick to hybrid type bikes and and what’s your thing? Do you want to get a road bike for lightness?

Carla Francome
But I might need the flat handlebars? Just because my back’s not great. I don’t think I can get down to a drop on my chair. I might be able to if it’s quite short, you know, bike.

Carlton Reid 36:29
But you have you said you that woman was giving you a bike fit? Is that a bike fit for a hybrid or bike fit for you potentially?

Carla Francome
It was it’s kind of experimental. So yeah, I could get a road bike. I just have to get the right measurements. Basically, it was just that I ran out of money to be honest. Like it cost me quite a lot the cure to it. I’m definitely looking to get a road bike, a light, but basically its lightness. That’s the most important thing. I think for me. If I can get down to the handlebars, great, but it’s mainly a weight thing. Like I weigh 85 kilogrammes. My bike was like 14 kilogramme. So that’s 100 kilogrammes, I’m hearing appeals and I said to my stepdad I was like my bikes a bit heavy and he looked at me when no offence or anything but most of that weight that you’re getting up in the mountains is you and he’s right you know and and so

Carla Francome 37:15
in a lovely way so what I want to do this year is lose some weight actually not and this is funny because I’m kind of with the chills having a go at my way I almost don’t want to lose weight because I’m like Screw you guys you know, but actually, I want to lose weight so I could get up hills quicker and then I want to get a light bike to get really fit this year and hopefully tackle a cure again next year.

Carla Francome 37:38
Where hopefully it’ll just be a bit easier to keep up with people that’s why one now then let me ask you did you get a jersey that looks good with your red lip? I did I finally got my Easington jersey and this is a fun story actually, I’ve got time I have a lot of time for a funny story because you’ve got as much time as my essence in Jersey right and the funny thing was is it took three months for the isn’t and cycle club journey to live and it was funny because by then I actually felt like I deserved it. So I quite liked that it took a while and I put it on and it was my first day going out on a ride and and I had the red lipstick on and it’s a good one at Carlton it stays on it is even there the next day the lippy I will recommend it to you, and maybe you might not need it. So anyway, I went out and we got 60 kilometres away in about by about 11am. And we were in the countryside and I felt so excited, felt so proud of myself and I just jotted into this cafe with my new jersey on and there were these two chaps there. And I said, Can you believe it? We’ve cycled all the way from London. And he looked at me one of the guys and he went Islington. They’re all in a bubble, aren’t they? The extinction bubble? He just got me dead. And I was like, Well, I deserved it. To be honest. I was so cocky that day. I didn’t need to be taken down. So I think that’s the problem. It turns out there are a lot of people who come down from London and a very annoying to other people. So I’ve learned to kind of rein that in a bit. So isn’t in cycling club. It’s a nice jersey. Is it a women’s jersey? Is it just as a unisex jersey? What’s Oh, I think it’s just a unisex jersey. Does it fit? Yes, it fits. Well. It fits well. Not like the Rafa one that I want. Can I tell you about the Rapha one?

Carlton Reid 39:13
Exactly. That’s where I was going with that one. Yeah. That was that was that was a funny episode that you had but yeah, but people who didn’t weren’t there at the time and weren’t.

Carla Francome 39:24
So basically I was supposed to be doing this Rapha women’s ride. And in fact, I didn’t I ended up not being able to do it that day as well. But basically, I’ve really wanted a Rapha jersey. And they’re really expensive. So I found on ebay and it looked a bit clowny. I thought that’s not bad. It had some red and strong red and black stripes, maybe in a green stripe, found it on eBay. And I was very excited to win it on an auction. And it turned up and I wore it out and about and I thought this is good. I’d submit the view on myself in a shop window. And it honestly looked it was a men’s jersey and it had these stripes and it honestly looked like I was wearing a cream bandage around my chest area or a cream boob tube

Carla Francome 40:00
And I was like, oh my God and I hadn’t realised. So I was cycling through the heath and I said to this couple Excuse me, would you mind taking a photo of me and I called them this random people to take this photo? And I said to them, Do you think do you think it looks a bit like a wearing cream boob tube? And they will they were really laughing and they’ll go, no, no, it doesn’t. It doesn’t. It did. So anyway, put the photos on social media, and people have been talking about bobb tubes ever since. So you’ve got to be careful. As a woman, it turns out when you’re wearing men’s cycling jerseys, because they obviously haven’t designed them with knockers in mind, to be honest, I don’t know how else to say that.

Carla Francome 40:35
I’ve tried other ones when people started sending ones where think they had like Googly, googly eyes in the wrong place and things. So designers, you know, make unisex jerseys for women too. And I do love I’ve got to just say I wear a lot of jerseys by Fat Lad at the Back, and I love their stuff. It’s really comfy. And, and it’s goes up and down in sizes, it’s got all sizes, and and they know that women have knockers.

Carlton Reid
So which is a great thing for the Americans who are listening to this who don’t know what knockers is my I don’t know, how much of vernacular kind of gets across to, but but knockers are breasts that say Press Yes, yes. No, it’s okay to use not because that’s great.

Carlton Reid 41:18
We have an international audience here, callers so so whenever we have bits that might not translate, it’s to say, to have like an agenda and of whatnot, because I’m sure that in the context, realised whatnot, as well. But anyway, I think that’s probably the first time in the history of this podcast that the word knockers. I’m so pleased. So it, it’s, it’s good to have you on the show.

Great to be here. And for you to expand our, our smutty vocabulary Thank you very much. And so you’ve got to you’ve got a top that fits you It goes well with your your lipstick, we’re all pleased to hear that it sounds as though you’re going to be increasing your cycling, you’ve been using kilometres a lot. So your cycling club range, your cycling mileage, you’re doing that so you’re you’re clearly on a trajectory where you are increasing the amount of cycling you are doing 100 kilometres is no longer phasing you which I’m guessing five years ago, that would have been

almost literally impossible. You might have thought. And now it’s not impossible. So what are your colour? What are your plans? Apart from wanting a road bike and getting it? What do you have anything goals this year of events, mileage? You know, what, what challenges are you going to set?

Carla Francome
Well, what I want to do is ride out with this Islington cycle club every other Sunday. That’s the main plan. And it’s quite tricky. What you know, if you’ve got little kids and you’re working a lot, but I kind of figured I’ll do that as my plan and every other two, so every fortnight do a big ride. And I hopefully have 100 kilometres. There’s a lovely guy, Matthew there who arranges it. So that’s my plan. And to just keep things ticking over, I want to lose some weight. And then I hope to do the Cure again next August. That’s the main thing. I’ve been thinking about doing triathlons, but actually my knees aren’t good for running.

Carlton Reid 43:11
Or so that you’re really,

Carlton Reid 43:15
really going for

Carla Francome
Yeah, so I did some other things. But actually, to be honest, I’ve kind of missed at the moment having that having that goal and what I realised was the cures or that it was actually amazing to have a goal where you’ve been trained for because I was you know, often getting up at five and I would have cycled you know, a lot of hills in the morning or I’d go out in the evening. And I’d for two hours I’d cycle up every hill I could find locally. And I’ve kind of missed having that because it really makes you up Sure. It’s funny when you have the fear of God about something like that you just worked so hard. And so now I feel like oh, I need that again. So the question is what is that going to be and that is I think I’ll just take a while well just cycle with Islington every fortnight but I do feel like I need another challenge actually as well because it does really make you work hard and I lost a stone for me I just felt great you know and I felt I just felt it was just really good to do something like that so do recommend that whatever it is and it might not be you know cycling in the house for someone it might be something quite simple but I do think it’s really good to have a challenge like that to train for.

Carlton Reid
I’m going to close it there because we could obviously talk for hours and hours and hours

Carlton Reid 44:22
but we have got to close it at some point so I it’s been fascinating and and entertaining as kind of I expected I wouldn’t really have expected this to go any other way. Considering from from from monitoring your social media feed. I kind of knew what but tell me tell me what people who don’t follow you who I’m sure will absolutely now follow you. Where can they find you on social media?

Carla Francome
on Twitter now called X and my Twitter handle is just Carlafrancombe

Carla Francome 45:00
I just say formally Carlton, I’d like to say that you are a saucepot.

Carlton Reid 45:06
Thanks to Carla Francome there and thanks to you for listening to episode 341 of the Spokesmen podcast, brought to you in association with Tern Bicycles.

Show notes and more can be found at

The next episode will be a rolling interview with gravel riding author and route developer Markus Stitz, but we’re not in Scotland as you might expect. That show will be out early next month but meanwhile get out there and ride.

Carlton Reid 46:17
I’m recording again, you are welcome to give me a bit of a saucepot story.

Carla Francome
I must tell you one thing, Carlton, which is that I met this lovely chap who was cycling around up up up up hills locally and I said I would do like your socks. And he said thank you. And I said Would you mind if I take some photos? And he had great cycling gear on socks and all sorts stripey socks. So I took some photos of him and asked for his Twitter handle and posted on Twitter and x and said look at this source pot today, guys. And I must just say a call everyone’s saucepots. There’s nothing in it. But anyway, I said, I called this guy saucepots. But anyway, that evening, there’s a local Facebook group of about 100,000 people on it for local families. And this lady posts and she said, please be careful if your husbands are out cycling in the area because it’s possible that Carla Francome might find them and put them on social media and call them a saucepot. And I was like, oh, all the colour just drained from my face. And actually, this woman was very funny about it. I do know her a bit and I wrote her and I was like, oh my god, I’m so sorry. I just like to say I did call your husband saucepots in very much a platonic fashion. And she said it was actually hilarious because her husband had walked through the door that evening. His head was apparently the big the size of a small planet. And he said that he’d been called a saucepot that day. She said that the reason it was actually really annoying was because he spends all his money on cycling gear. And now he felt like he wanted to spend even more money on cycling gear. That was what I thought she was annoyed about. She wasn’t worried that you know, we’re gonna run off into the sunset. She was just annoyed about the money he was spending. So bikes I’m not gonna say more money on a bike. So she said, Oh, God, she said you’ve done no, she said his head was big enough before, so I had to apologise but I’m now a bit more careful. I must say when I call people saucepout on social media. Okay, so annoy the lovely wives.

October 20, 2023 / / Blog

20th October 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 340: In conversation with Zack Hamm of Ride with GPS

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Zack Ham

TOPICS: I’ve featured folks from Bike Map and Cycle.Travel and now in this third episode about cycle navigation apps I talk with Zak Ham, co-founder of Ride with GPS


Carlton Reid 0:12
Welcome to Episode 340 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Friday 20th of October 2023.

David Bernstein 0:29
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:04
I’ve featured folks from bikemap and And now in this third episode about cycle navigation apps, I talk with Zack Ham, co founder of Ride with GPS. I’m Carlton Reid, and I recorded this chat remotely. Zack did have a great mic, but he didn’t have a pop filter. So there are a few slight plosives in the first half of the show. But we did cure that in the second half. Now tell me that you live in Eugene, but then go to work in Portland. Is that kind of right?

Zack Ham 1:43
Oh, no, that would be that’s they’re about 100 miles apart. I lived in Eugene for about nine years. That’s where I met my wife. And that’s where we started the company. But I moved to Portland, about 10 years ago. So I’m in Portland now.

Carlton Reid 1:56
So I noticed there was there was there was definitely two centres. You know, the original route was in Eugene. But clearly you’ve kind of said My question was going to be really is the fact that it’s now in Portland or even then in Portland? Is that the reason there is a bicycle app? Because Portland clearly is is in certainly in North American terms. chocker with bicycles.

Zack Ham 2:24
You know, it’s it’s funny, that’s a question that we get all the time for, like, oh, Portland must be a great, great place to have an app for recycling because there’s so many cyclists there. But the truth is, my partner and I both grew up in the Portland area. It’s just kind of coincidental. And most, you know, we have a great audience of people that use our stuff and in the Portland area, but it’s not it’s like maybe in the top six cities in the US for us. So it’s really not central to the business.

Carlton Reid 2:52
Interesting. And your bit your partner that is Cullen Cullen

Zack Ham 2:55
King. Yes, exactly. And he he went to college in Corvallis, which is about 30 miles north of Eugene. So we actually started we started riding motorcycles together in high school. And so the very, very early days of, of the product, we were just programmers, we like to working on software projects. That was really the impetus. And we did our first testing on motorcycles and we still have a contingent of, you know, dual sport and adventure riders who swear by our product, you know, 15 years later, and some of them have no idea that it’s that it’s really focused on cycling.

Carlton Reid 3:31
Because I’m a motorcyclist cyclist, you can have very similar routing needs.

Zack Ham 3:37
Sure, it’s not about going from A to B, oftentimes, you end where you start, you’re just trying to go out on you know, scenic, beautiful roads where there’s not a lot of traffic. On the motorcycle, you don’t really care if you’re going up or down hills, but you like you like a curvy road. And the only reason to make a curvy road is typically because you’re going up or down hills. So it ends up being very similar from the routing front.

Carlton Reid 4:00
Hmm. So 2007 was when you and these two motorcyclists fresh out, were you fresh out of college? Are you still doing it in college?

Zack Ham 4:10
Oh, no, I was a I was a sophomore in college at the time. And actually, we we started it in two late 2006. So yeah, quite quite a while back.

Carlton Reid 4:18
So that’s the same age as this podcast.

Zack Ham 4:20
So you know how you know it feels?

Carlton Reid 4:24
Yes, that’s how long your product has been out there because this this podcast is a dinosaur in podcast terms. So 2006 2007 ish, when it comes out. So why are you doing what what’s the what’s the landscape here? Literally the kind of digital landscape and what why are you creating this? Why is there nothing like this out there?

Zack Ham 4:46
You know, 2006 and seven was just a different time on the internet. And perhaps I was just a different age. So I was, you know, young and naive and had that kind of ignorant confidence that you have then which is See, which is really a powerful tool because I had a boss who was a coach of a women’s cycling team and Eugene and he had been trying to get me into cycling and telling me how cool it is, I should stop riding my motorcycle and just, you know, get some exercise. And I finally took him up on the offer one day went out on a pretty tough 30 mile ride, which for me was was crazy. And, you know, I came back and I’m like, wow, that was incredible. But the thing that really stuck with me was he took this GPS unit, he had a Garmin 705 At the time, took it off his bike, plugged it into his computer, and showed me the data that he had. And it was like, there was a line on a map show he had a barometric altimeter, he had a power metre at the time, which was pretty advanced, you know, speed and cadence sensor, heart rate strap, he had all the technology at the time. And I saw the software and I’m like, this software could be so much better, and what other sport in the world other than like Formula One racing collects this much data, like cyclists are a strange breed. And so as a programmer who was contemplating getting into riding, I was like, I have to do this because as a programmer, it’s interesting, I didn’t even care about bikes. At first, I just was really interested in all the data people were collecting. So that was really the spark. And then looking at the competitive landscape. I mean, at the time there was map, my fitness, there’s Map My ride, and then there was also a company called motion based that eventually got acquired by Garmin and turned into Garmin Connect. And looking at those, you know, being that confident sophomore in college, I just shrugged my shoulders and was like, I could build something better. Like, you know, it was that was how the Internet was back then there was just less money and everything things were less developed. And, you know, a high school or a college student could really look at the landscape and say, I could do that.

Carlton Reid 6:45
Now I’ve seen the side to research this kind of I went on on bikeportland. So that’s where I got the articles, original one from way back when Jonathan Maus has done a review, and then the later one where he’s talking about, you know, you’ve been going for 15 years. So I’ve got some other kind of biographical details. Sure. And that’s how I knew about cologne on there, all that kind of stuff. So on on on bikeportland. It was basically talking about where you’ve come from. And that was where my question was coming from. Also, by the way for for, for cycling. Could you if you’re in Portland, that’s why and I would definitely like to circle back on give us your your top cities. But on that on a coverage that Jonathan did have you, I think it’s you are saying you basically you bootstrapped this. And you always bootstrapped it all the way through in that you’re self funded. And tell me how many members of staff you have now?

Zack Ham 7:47
Yeah, we’re just about 35 people at the moment. So that’s

Carlton Reid 7:50
a lot of people to be relying on your subscriptions.

Zack Ham 7:55
Yeah. And we’re hiring right now. So yeah, we’ve been, you know, we started the company just, I don’t know that. I don’t know, maybe, maybe, Colin and I put in a couple 100 bucks or something for hosting. I don’t even remember at this point. But, uh, yeah, we started in 2009. We asked people if, you know, hey, you know, back then you’d see this more often. But we’re like, Oh, if you like what we’re doing, you’re welcome to donate to our PayPal, you know, buy us a cup of coffee, whatever. And, you know, very quickly, we’re getting about 1000 US dollars a month. And it just kind of struck us, okay, this, this is starting to look like a business. And before that it was just a hobby, you know, we worked on it together quite often. And, and then in 2011, I was able to go full time on it. And from then it was just this sort of cycle of, oh, okay, we made some more money. Should we hire somebody? Should we, you know, buy another server, and just kind of rinse and repeat. And then, you know, coming into where we’re at today, you know, we’re still customer funded, still profitable. And, yeah, we have about 35 people and hopefully bring on a handful more towards the end of this year and into next year. And I think right now, it’s kind of the most exciting time in the business yet we’re, we have a really, really strong team. You know, everybody’s into bikes, everybody’s passionate about the space, people have chosen us as an employer. For very personal reasons. It’s not just the job. And everybody kind of buys into our mission, that we’re focused on bikes, that we want people to get on a better ride, and just kind of staying really, really close to this niche that we’re in. And instead of trying to go broad and you know, be everything for everyone.

Carlton Reid 9:39
So when you when you got those first 1000 bucks with via PayPal, at that point, you must have thought, well, we need two levels here. We need a level that anybody can can use and then we need the subscription level. And is that when you start adding crazy features, or is it always Oh, wait, you need to add this feature? And then it’s like, no, hang on, we’ve got to stop, we’ve got to stop this is going to pay our wages here.

Zack Ham 10:07
Yeah, it’s, you know, it actually took us a while to launch the paid account, because we just had made everything free up to that point. And, you know, for us, it was really, we were never really focused on the business, or the sales, or the conversion funnel, or all the kinds of traditional software as a service, stuff that, that you should be worried about, frankly, for us, we just had all these people using our site, and then they would email us and be like, Hey, I have a Garmin 605, and I got this error. And that would be kind of our dopamine hit, we’d be like, yes, we’re going to solve this problem for this person. And then they’d come back and say, I want an awesome bike ride. Thanks. And that was really what drove us and still drives us today. And then in terms of the money side, you know, we we identified some features that we’re speculative, these kind of this advanced analysis studio feature, and a few other a few other convenience things. And we’re like, Yeah, let’s, let’s launch a paid account. And we’ll we’ll have like, you know, syncing with the there’s a wait an app plus weight scale, and it’s like, this is obscure enough, we’ll make this paid. And since then, we’ve gotten a little bit more refined. But we still like to have a product that’s really useful if you don’t pay us. Because ultimately, the people, whether you pay us or not, you’re you’re part of our community, you’re contributing back. You know, if you go on a ride, then you could submit a review of the route that you did that’s going to help somebody else. Or you can seek your rides and help build out our global heat map and help people understand what roads are safe and popular to ride on. So it’s not just about collecting money from people, there’s also opportunity for you to contribute value back just by participating.

Carlton Reid 11:49
So tell me, you’ve kind of like touched on a few bits of paid for too. But tell me what what do you if that if I go on via the app, or I’m presuming on online as well, on the on the on the browser based version as well? What do I get as a as a fully paid up member? And how much? And Are there levels?

Zack Ham 12:10
Yes. So there’s, there’s two levels that would apply to you as a consumer. And then we also have, we have a programme for organisations like bike clubs, event operators, tour operators, that’s, that’s a separate side of the business. But on the consumer side, we have two levels. And we’ve tried to simplify this. But basically, if all you need or want are the features of the mobile app, which for us is our mobile route planner, mobile navigation, offline maps, live tracking, and then a few other a few other bits. But those are the main ones. It’s really all about offline maps and navigation. That’s what people that really seems to drive purchases on the mobile app, then that 60 US dollars a year, you know, kind of in the middle and comparable to some of the other competitors. And then if you also want to unlock the website, which is advanced route planning, some advanced analysis tools, but ultimately, it’s really about that, that route planner on the web, then it’s $80 a year. And that gives you the mobile app and the web. So so it’s for people who just care about the mobile app, 60 bucks for people that want everything and really want to open up their computer and it kind of use the Photoshop of Route planners as we like to think of it, then it’s that $80 level and we call that premium.

Carlton Reid 13:33
Okay, now, that way, I I’m gonna open up my phone to see where the app is on on my phone. And you can hear my my dog in the background, there probably is a ride that I did in in Sardinia 2002. In fact, it’s only just come out in the Daily Mail that I put out, I think I sent you the link so I put ride with GPS as a mention in that piece. That came out yesterday. But that was basically a tour company in this case, Turismo of Italy had paid for a group subscription, and then all the members of that, of that that particular bike tour, could then be fed information, be fed all the routes and have everything on their smartphone, for that particular bike tour. So that’s how I’ve got it on my my phone already. Is from that that tour? So how much does it cost? A bike tour company, a club on organisation, what are they paying? What are they getting?

Zack Ham 14:42
You know, so that’s, that’s a part of the business that’s that I’ve always been really proud of and happy with. When we launched our what we call our organisations programme. Originally it was just the Club account back in 2015. We were trying to find we didn’t want to charge nothing for it because we knew that If we charged nothing, then the incentives wouldn’t be aligned, we wouldn’t want to provide as much support or we wouldn’t be able to justify it. But we also didn’t want to charge very much, because we wanted it to be utilised as much as possible. Because the ultimate goal, this is what we do, instead of marketing, instead of spending money on banner ads, or what have you, or paying for Google AdWords, we take the money that we might spend there, and we invest it into this organisations programme, so that somebody like you ends up with our app on on their phone, and, you know, some percentage of you afterwards would be like, Oh, that was kind of cool, that navigation worked well. And hopefully, we can let you understand you can also use this in your personal life. So it’s this sort of like marketing channel. But really, it’s this partnership with organisations, so they pay us the base price is $250 a year, which, again, for the value that they get is pretty inexpensive. And so as a result, you know, we have nearly 2000 organisations in that programme, you know, 1000 of which are bike clubs. And, you know, we just have tools that nobody else wants to build. It’s a, it’s frankly, kind of an an unsexy area on the software front, especially if you’re a consumer focused company. Because, you know, what’s the bike club need, like we have, we have bike clubs that have 5000 routes, and, you know, you need, you basically need to build like a spreadsheet tool for them to manage this bulk operations, tags, all this kind of boring b2b stuff that I think a consumer focused company really doesn’t want to build. And so we’ve kind of tackled those problems. And as a result, if you go on tour with a company like turismo, then they’re gonna say, hey, please instal this driver GPS app. And you’ll have this really slick experience where you can scan a QR code, you get into this branded portal for them, all you see are the routes you’re going to do on your tour, you get to use navigation. And then in the end, we say, Hey, you can also use this app in your personal life.

Carlton Reid 16:56
Yeah. So that’s why I’ve got it on there now is I’m going to, we’re going to cut for a break. But before we do that, I do want to come back to you. And actually, I want to put your microphone out because there’s a few pops. So hopefully in the ad break, we can actually sort that out so there’s not so many pops afterwards. So we’ll be right back.

David Bernstein 17:14
This podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern understand that while a large cargo bike can carry oodles of stuff, many of us prefer something a little more manageable. That’s why they’ve come up with the HSD e-cargobike for folks with big aspirations to go car free, delivered in a compact size, with its rear shock, 280 kilos, and a combined hauling capacity of 180 kilos. The robust new HSD is stable and easy to manoeuvre, even when under load. And with its Bosch eBIKE SYSTEM tested and certified to meet the highest UL standards for electric and fire safety you’ll be able to share many worryfree adventures with a loved one whether it’s your kiddo or Nan. Visit www.ternbicycles. That’s te r n turn to learn more

Carlton Reid 18:14
Thanks, David and we are back with with Zack Zack ham of ride with GPS and we had a wee chat there. And we’ve hopefully got Peters pickled peppers won’t be such a problem going forward. I didn’t want to stop Zach initially, because it wasn’t all the time. And it was just you know, the little thing and most of the audio was absolutely fantastic. But it’s just the audio pops. Anyway, I think we’ve sorted that. So Zack, when I go back, I when you came in, when we started the recording, you were telling me that Portland and this was surprising. This is very surprising. But maybe this is indicative of something so so let’s let’s dig into that. Portland was not your city, was it your sixth highest? It’s not your it’s not the biggest or not even the second or third biggest use where your heat map is in bringing up routes routes in the US. So a How come? Is that a surprise? Or is that like indicative because when you read Jonathan Maus’ articles, you realise that, you know Portland, Oregon was fantastic maybe 1015 years ago, and has since gone downhill in many respects since then. So is it indicative of that? Or would you think it’d always have been at that level?

Zack Ham 19:37
No, that’s kind of how it’s been the whole time. And, you know, it’s not it’s not really an indictment of Portland as a great place for cycling because on a percentage basis, it’s it’s a very high performing city for us. So in terms of how you know of our registered users, how many of them are active and engaged how many of them have found enough value to pay us Portland perform EMS very, very well. But just as a population centre, it’s simply not as big, as you know, Seattle, Boston, the New York area, the LA area. So it’s really that perspective of, you know, if we’re going to be thinking of regional centres to, to be kind of focused on have on our radar to be engaging with sort of the influential clubs and organisations in those areas, then, you know, Portland, yes, it’s important, it’s on the list. It’s where we live as well, which makes it especially kind of near and dear to our hearts. But, you know, it’s not one of the biggest cities in the country. It’s really a mid sized city. And we have many of those in the US. And in terms of you know, how it’s changed over time. It’s obviously been in Portland, we, because of all the news, especially since, you know, since since COVID, since 2020, the reputation of Portland has really gone downhill. You know, I don’t know if you ever were exposed over there to the show Portlandia. But that kind of input? Oh, yeah, I kind of put Portland on the map as being this quirky, weird, fun, safe place. And, and the reality is, has always been a little bit different from that. And so, you know, people that live here, I think, are now a little bit on the defensive, because, you know, they go to Thanksgiving dinner, to the east coast to go back with their family. And all they have to do is kind of fend off this barrage of, you know, I hear Portland’s on fire, it’s terrible. And it’s like, yeah, Portland has a lot of problems in there. And they’re very serious. A lot of the West Coast cities do. But at its core, you know, I can still ride my bike to work, we still have our bike infrastructure. And for the most part, it’s, it’s a wonderful time over here. It’s just, yeah, it could it seen better days. And I hope that, you know, the city gets its act together and sorts sorts things out in a humane and fair manner. But Portland still a great place,

Carlton Reid 21:53
basically, that it’s the demographics size, rather than the number of hardcore cyclists. So you just got to get more people in a bigger place. Be sure that’s, that’s where your top cities then?

Zack Ham 22:07
Yeah, so I mean, Portland punches above its weight class, I think it’s another minute to think of okay, but yeah, for us, you know, Seattle, Boston, you know, the LA area, the New York area, those are all those are all really big, it’s kind of even the Chicago area, although, as we head into winter, that’ll that’ll go down quite a bit. So it’s kind of the obvious places just by population, as long as people ride bikes there, then in the US, we’re really well known, we’re really strong, we have a presence. In most places, we’re kind of the default, like the expected app to be used by event organisers or by bike clubs. And consequently, we’ve kind of gotten our way into the cycling community throughout the US. And then, you know, when you go outside of the US, you have different experiences, right? In some some countries, or some areas, were really not that popular. And then in some areas, there’s these pockets where everybody’s using us. So that’s kind of the the emerging story for for our opportunity, when

Carlton Reid 23:11
you pay that 60 bucks, or 80 bucks, if you want, like the getting behind the scenes on the on the browser based version. And you’re getting all the bells and whistles, you’ve got to be pretty hardcore. To be going into that, that kind of depth. So can you see which of your users are writing so much, or updating, you know, their app so much? And you classify them as hardcore? Probably athletes? Maybe if they’re writing that much? And how many are more recreational say they’ll just do something like at the weekend? And do you classify? Do do you have a? I mean, I’m asking you a question here that maybe you wouldn’t want to answer just how much of the data you do dig into. But if it’s if it’s if it’s anonymized data, then it’s it surely isn’t a problem? are you digging into the data to find out who your users is? What is my question? I guess.

Zack Ham 24:10
Yes. And, and no, like, honestly, the question that you just asked, I think a lot of this information would be incredibly valuable to us to tell you what routes you might want to ride. So for us on a product basis, being able to give you your next great bike ride, or at the very least make sure that your next ride is better, and you ride a little more often. That’s really our job. And we would be able to do that much better, the more that we know about your riding. So I certainly have no qualms about thinking in terms of like wanting to know more about you as a cyclist, because I think that’s in your best interest. But in terms of you know, what data we’re collecting and how we’re sort of partitioning our users. It’s really not as sophisticated as it It would be, frankly, because the, for the most part, for the most of the company’s history, we’ve really been focused on talking to our users, we have like a really, really well known and renowned customer support team. We’ve invested in that side of the business, especially since we worked with all these organisations, we’re on the phone a lot. We answer many, many, many support tickets very, very quickly, and very knowledgeably. And so we bring all of that qualitative information to bear when we’re developing the product. And then, of course, we watch usage of the product, you know, in a broad fashion to say, okay, you know, how much are these features being used versus other features, just to calibrate our intuition. But, you know, really to answer your question, I wish we knew a lot more than we do. And we’re going to kind of move in a direction where it’s not just serving our interests, so that we can be behind the scenes and tinkering and kind of managing all of your data, it’s really going to be more of this cooperative and upfront thing, where we’re asking you what type of riding Do you want to do, because it’s not just about your behaviour that we’re observing, it’s also about your aspiration, because maybe you really want to get into gravel riding. But you haven’t done it before, because you didn’t have anybody to do it with and you don’t know what a safe and reasonable route is. And so we should probably be giving you recommendations about your aspirations and not just your past.

Carlton Reid 26:20
And you do have a turn by turn, turn by turn is in the paid version. Yeah. Is in the subscriber level?

Zack Ham 26:29
Yes, correct. Yeah, you get voice voice turn by turn navigation. And it’s funny this started out because we got so frustrated with Garmin units. And we and we love Garmin, we love we love their units. Same with Wahoo, they make incredible head unit. So I have nothing bad to say about any of them. But at least a long time ago, with a Garmin unit, you would set a route out and it would be a loop. And maybe it was like a lollipop. So the the first section you would come back on. And frequently, it would just shortcut the whole thing. And then it would say route complete. And you’d have to go and restart navigation, we thought that was so silly. It’s like my goal isn’t to get to the finish line, it’s to do the whole route. And that really was one of the things that inspired our navigation. So, you know, for us, we make sure if you go and say I wanted to go and do for loops of this section of the route, we make sure you do four loops of it. But if you do three loops, and you cut off early, then we recognise that and we’ll move you forward on the route. But it’s it’s a very specific and nuanced take on navigation, where we recognise that people actually want to do the route that they planned, even if there are shorter and more efficient ways to get to the finish line.

Carlton Reid 27:44
And then that’s an athlete user.

Zack Ham 27:48
We don’t Yeah, we don’t think in terms of I guess I didn’t come my partner and I didn’t come from the competitive cycling world. And so for us, I don’t know, we don’t think of ourselves as athletes. And yeah, there’s certainly members of the team and members of our audience that do consider themselves athletes. So I’m not disparaging that, but no, I mean, I can go out and ride 100 miles, but I don’t think of myself as an athlete. For me, I just, I think bikes are something special, you know, you can combine really cool endurance, exercise performance, all that stuff with a really great social setting, enjoy nature, have a little adventure, get a little adrenaline rush on the downhill. And like that whole experience is really what we’re focused on. So the people that use our product, kind of our best, our favourite user, the person who is really, really digging into all the details, and the nooks and crannies and using it every day are really more on the adventurous side where they appreciate novelty, you know, they don’t want to just go a lot of athletes might go and do the same loop every weekend or, you know, the same training ride. And frankly, for them, maybe maybe training peaks or Strava is a better a better use of of their of their time or their money because if they’d already know exactly where they’re going, we don’t necessarily have a lot of differentiating things to offer them. But for us, if you want to go in a new ride, a more interesting ride, you want to mix it up, you want to travel somewhere and go on to the best possible ride with the time you have. That’s really our sweet spot.

Carlton Reid 29:16
So if I land in Paris, for instance, I get up one of the train stations, and I’ve got to get across town. And I don’t know my way about am I going to be using a rider’s GPS Am I gonna be firing up your app on my phone?

Zack Ham 29:32
Yeah, absolutely. And I And I’ve done exactly that. Yeah, that’s a that’s a great use of it. I use it every time I travel and and when I’m travelling with my wife, my goal is not to you know she’ll my own product to my significant other like that’s not my objective. My objective is to make sure that she still likes bikes afterwards. And I always do rely on our product and then I come back and I report a bug or two and, and frankly I rave to the team about like how awesome it was that I was able to go there and ride like a lot Local, with very minimal effort, go on this wonderful bike ride that I just couldn’t have done without a piece of software like ours.

Carlton Reid 30:07
So rod like a local. So that’s good. So you basically this the heat map shows you that, or the curators ride shows you that just this is where a local would ride, they probably wouldn’t go this route, even though that looks like a sensible route on a map. So you bring up on a map and you think well, that’s that’s probably the way to go. And then you kind of refer to yours like, well, actually, most people are going that route. Is that Is that how you describe it, that’s how people are using it.

Zack Ham 30:35
That’s, that’s one piece of it. And the heat map, I feel that the heat map is, is a tool you can use to kind of get a baseline, you know, hey, I’m not writing, I’m not writing like I don’t know anything. But you know, the most popular roads aren’t necessarily the way to go all the time, because you might have a commuting corridor, where it’s a fine place to ride. But perhaps if you’re doing a recreational ride, you really don’t want to be on there, you want to be on this less popular section that goes out of town and does this nice big loop. Maybe it’s more scenic, maybe there’s a hill and the commuting one doesn’t have a hill, there’s a lot of reasons why you don’t just want to follow the most heat on a heat map. And for us, you know, we don’t think that, you know, we can be like the smart people behind the scenes with the algorithms in the software, and just come into your community and say these are the best rides like we’ve never believed that we know more than people on the ground, especially working with the most knowledgeable route planners in an area all these people that run bike clubs or run bike tours. So for us, we want to build software to support those people and build build these advocates that have the authority locally. So that they can go out and say, Hey, these are the best routes, this is the best way to string these things together. So instead of here’s just another map, you know, sure it’s a heat map, but it’s just another map, choose your own adventure, you can come and use our tools to look at a map and say, Oh, here’s, if I pick any of these five routes, like I’m good, this is going to be a great time on a bike, it’ll be a varied experience, you know, I’m going to start at a coffee shop and see a nice local cycling friendly business, get out of town, have a nice viewpoint have a nice challenging climb, or whatever. And you can select your filters on do I want, you know, all paved or some unpaved do I want a lot of climbing do I want to be short or long. And our goal is to just give you instead of 10,000 routes in a heat map of a million options, we want to give you just a few options. So that you have a little bit of variation, but ultimately, like just like a friend would do. So they say Hey, this is the route you want to do. You know, I’m not gonna give you 25 ideas. I’m just gonna tell you go do this one.

Carlton Reid 32:54
Here and then and you’re maybe it’s very different in America. I mean, it’s only in the UK when we begin to audit seven maps. But they were never kept as actually as up to date as the map I’m going to mention which is Open Street Map, which which powered literally powered loads and loads of navigation businesses was open street map that important to you to begin with. I mean, how important was it? I’m right in thinking it’s always been generally more important in Europe than in North America. It’s certainly been more more updated in Europe than in in North America like in Germany, you down to you know, streetlamps, you know, individual street lamps are on OpenStreetMap. Just crazy amounts of detail from from techy people just volunteering. So how important back in the day was OpenStreetMap to you? And how important is it to you now?

Zack Ham 33:49
Yeah, originally OpenStreetMap just wasn’t, like you said it just wasn’t there in in the US. We were, you know, on the sidelines, cheering it on. And we’re really excited about it. We love. We love those kinds of open source style projects. And yeah, we’re, we’re big fans of OpenStreetMap since the very, very early days, even though it didn’t make for the best product for us. And so we’ve always believed in just using the best tool for the job at the time and being open to changing that. So when we first had the route planner out, JavaScript was too slow and web browser. So it was flash based for the members of your audience that remember, you know, flash on the web, it’s gone now. But so we’ve gone through many, you know, technology cycles, and also these these cycles of data where originally it was Google Maps was kind of the only provider that could do the job. And then as soon as OpenStreetMap started to become useful, one of the first things that we did with it was, I don’t know if you recall, this was also a long time ago, but with the old Garmin units, you could put in a SD card, a map card to get base maps and you would buy a Garmin unit and it would not have base maps and It was a really complicated process to get the OpenStreetMaps database onto one of these map cards. And so we had some users that were asking us about this, and we started a little side business out of it, I think we had we sold, I don’t know, 1000s of these map cards from our website so that Garmin users could have base maps based on open street maps. So that was kind of our first experience with open street maps as a business. And since then, we’ve built out, you know, a bunch of servers, we host a lot of infrastructure that’s based on open street maps, we have, you know, a vector map server, and we have a server to go, you can type in like the name of a city or an address and go look it up against our servers there. And we have routing servers that are based on OpenStreetMaps with other data so that you can, you know, get your point A to point B routing. So so we, you know, we love OpenStreetMaps, and we rely on it more and more and more as time goes on.

Carlton Reid 35:53
And because one of the reason I was asking that is because OpenStreetMaps has kind of got like, sometimes if you’re using open cycle map, the version of open street map that’s for bikes, there’s a surface level, there’s a surface layer, which you can you can then you can then work out, you know, which part of your your route is is, is gravel, which is dirt, which is which is paved, etc, etc. So, you’ve got a in 2021, I see here in your, your linear progress was when you added surface types, so surface types, are they submitted by users by members? Or is that some that you’re pulling it in? You’re pulling in the data from elsewhere?

Zack Ham 36:37
We’re pulling that in from open street maps. And, you know, there’s, it’s, it’s complicated, though, because the way that things are tagged in the OpenStreetMap database, you know, in one area, something might be tagged in a way that you have to infer, okay, if if it has this tag, but that tag that it’s actually paved in the state of California, but if it has these other two tags, then well, it’s then it’s unpaved, or what have you. So, you know, similar to your conversation with with, with Richard from cycle travel, you know, the way that he was talking about how they have country by country, routing, and everything based on just different usages of the OpenStreetMap database that vary by region. You know, that’s kind of exactly how we think about surface type is just trying to understand how people are using open street maps in their community. And doing our best to simplify that down, you know, you know, in Germany, where they have every street lamp, they also differentiate between, you know, gravel, or brick, or dirt, or single track or these, you know, a grassy path. And it’s up to us to, to narrow that down to what cyclists on our platform really care about, which is, look, is it paved, or is it unpaved? And sometimes answering that question is a little a little more complicated than just this binary, yes or no.

Carlton Reid 38:07
So tell me what other maps do you have, we tell everybody what you can actually choose from when you when you go in, you can say, right, for this particular route, you might want this particular map, you know, there’s this there are times when you did want different maps for different things. That’s me, I maybe that’s just me, what maps have you got?

Zack Ham 38:26
No, it’s not not just you, we’ve always supported, you know, the maps that people are asking for. So we have our own. Our own vector map that we’ve put a lot of time into, we actually recently recently launched a new version of it, and we call it RGB GPS cycle. And, and it’s quite nice, actually, it brings all the cycling infrastructure out, you know, lets people see peaks kind of de emphasises the motorways or the the highways that people might not want to ride on. So it’s a great cycling map. And that’s our default. But then we have the suite of maps from Google their map view, their satellite view, a lot of people really like switching, you know, between our map and the Google satellite view, because it’s yeah, it’s a really good satellite view. And if you’re doing adventurer writing, you can if we don’t have surface type data, you can double check with satellite and say, oh, you know, that doesn’t look very paved. And then we also have some of the OSM once we have the OSM the standard OSM map, the OSM cycle map, OSM outdoor map that comes from Thunder forest, it’s a really great company that makes some really nice map styles. We have a topo map from Esri, which is a lot of people like because it’s really crisp and clean and has a lot of detail, especially for people that are going kind of into the back country. They appreciate those contour lines on the on the top of a map and extra information that’s on there. And then we also have maps from the US Geological Survey, which you know, aren’t as relevant over where you’re at, but in the US These are to some people sort of like how you view your Ordnance Survey maps, at least when it comes to when you get out of the populated areas. They’re they’ve been around for a long time, you know, they’re built by the government, there’s a lot of great detail in those. And we have some old scans of the raster maps that provide, you know, a certain level of detail. And then we also have their newer vector topo maps, which you know, provide a different level of detail and represented in a different way.

Carlton Reid 40:28
And they, you can toggle through them, if you’re a paid member, or if you’re that’s, that’s with the no pay subscription.

Zack Ham 40:36
Now we let we let everyone do that. And when it comes to our paid or unpaid options in the in the route planner, it’s really, you don’t really hit, you don’t run into limits, or we require a period of count until you do some of the more advanced stuff. So for us, kind of like layers in Photoshop, you can have multiple routes on the map at the same time, we call it multi route editing. And that’s a paid feature. But if you just want to go click, click, click, make yourself a nice route, save it and go ride it, you can do all that for free. Hmm. See,

Carlton Reid 41:11
I’m a historian, right? And the early days of motoring was very much like this, you’d go for pleasure rides, this is this what people are doing, they’re going for pleasure bicycle ride. And that’s what you used to do in a car used to go for pleasure. And motorcar rides. And you can imagine, you know, in the very late 1890s, certainly the early 1900s. You know, if this app was available, then the early motorists would have been all over this, but you’re not going to get a motor and maybe a motorcyclist, yes. But you’re not going to get a motorist doing this. So this, your your kind of core customers are basically doing this, they’re very geeky, probably. And they’re doing this for pleasure. Whereas if you’re downloading, you know, a sat nav app, as a motorist, you’re going to be using that for probably not actually that pleasurable in many times to drive places, whereas you’re offering a product that’s actually a very pleasurable pleasurable thing to be doing.

Zack Ham 42:11
We’d like to think so I mean, that’s, that’s why we all well, not all of us all the time. But that’s why I like to think we all come to work with a smile on our faces, because that’s when we deal with, when we deal with a customer, or anybody that’s using our product, you know, most of the time, they’re really doing something that’s cool. And we’re helping enable that, we, you know, it’s so great when we hear from people who will write in and say, you know, I just did this trans America route, and I don’t know how I would have done it without you guys, you know, without your without your software without the data that I was able to get from, from ride with GPS. So that’s, that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing. You know, we think bikes are a special thing, where you get outside, which is more and more rare these days, you know, you are with people like real human beings in real life, which we also think is more rare and a special thing, and you get some exercise, you get used to move through space, it’s a very human activity. So we hope that people, you know, we hope people cycle for for, you know, to get to work and to go get their groceries and do all that we’re big supporters of cycling in general, but really our, our focus is people who go out and want to do this recreationally, go on an adventure, have fun with friends, and, and just don’t want to have a don’t want to have an undesirable experience. You know, a lot of people do want to go out and take risks and go on that adventure where they really don’t know exactly what’s going to be around the next corner. And they love our software, too. But you all know that we’re really being successful when somebody who’s very risk averse, who really doesn’t want to get into trouble, who wants to know exactly what they’re going to do goes on a ride that they’ve never been on before, where nobody there with knows more than they do. And it’s because our software kind of gives them that confidence gives them that comfort that they can go and do something new, and know that they’re not going to run into trouble.

Carlton Reid 44:06
Hmm. Night Before we were talking about how you’re bootstrapped, and how you had 30 Plus members of staff and you’ve been profitable since since the time you you’re taking fees, basically. But then you’ve also just recently, I mean, we’re talking September is my my story here. You’ve got $3 million from an undisclosed strategic investor. So those are always things where you ask people and they won’t tell you because if it’s not on the news story, they people don’t want to tell you which is fine. Unless you do want to tell me but I My question is going to be what you’re going to do with that money. What what what features what what expansion? is that money going to be funding?

Zack Ham 44:53
You know, that’s, yeah, it’s it’s one of those funny things when I was bringing this news back to back to our team You know, because our roots are in r&b and bootstrapped, we’ve always been very proud of that. And so thinking about like, Well, I haven’t changed, my partner hasn’t changed. And we’re bringing on this new partner. So, you know, what’s, what does that what does that mean? Like, why would we have done this? Like? How do people kind of understand this? The truth is, we’ve been working with this guy since 2020. His name’s Jason Eken. Roth, he’s like a super fan of our product. He has been a paid user since 2016. And, and he’s been kind of a mentor, frankly, to me for the past three years, and he’s been wanting to get involved in the business. He’s had a successful software startup in the past. Right now, passion is his cycling, it has been for many years. He’s based in Europe, which is a market we know, we don’t know enough about, and we’re very interested in. So he’s just been like a great friend, mentor, somebody who gives a lot of professional advice. And we’ve been trying to figure out a way for him to have a seat around the table to welcome him in as a partner, so that he can spend more time with us and really help us do what we’re already doing better. And so we figured out a way to do that, where he could be a minority partner. But if you haven’t been there since the beginning, and you’re not working a full time job and getting equity, how do you become a partner, you have to buy your way in. And so, you know, it really isn’t about the money, it’s about the partner. And so it’s like, okay, well, what are you going to do with the money? Nothing, right now, we’re, we’re profitable, we were planning on hiring 10 more people, you know, toward the end of this year and early next year, before we planned on welcoming him on, and we don’t want to just blow the company up with a bunch of new staff. So we’re really not going to change our plan at this point. So maybe an opportunity will come up, and we’ll be we’ll have a little more comfort to take advantage of that, you know, have a little more courage. But that opportunity hasn’t come up yet. So we’ll see. I mean, we have the future, I think is really opportunistic. For us, there’s a lot of things we can do. So it’ll be nice to have a little more courage, but really, it’s about the guidance of, of him as an individual.

Carlton Reid 47:06
Presumably, the meetings when it’s behind around the table are like zoom meetings, if he’s in Europe,

Zack Ham 47:12
he was actually down here last week, and I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go out there and visit him here pretty soon as well. So we’ll be getting together in person, pretty frequently. And And again, that’s, you know, it wouldn’t probably wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for that to be happening if he wasn’t an actual partner in the business. So it’s gonna be, it’s gonna be a lot of fun, I think it’s gonna be really exciting.

Carlton Reid 47:34
So how big if you got brought down a European investor? How big? Are you outside of the US? I mean, how much of a focus Have you had else, you know, outside of the US and previously made? Will that change?

Zack Ham 47:47
Well, are yes, the majority of our customer base has always been based in the US. And, you know, we actually have a quite quite a large contingent of, of users in the UK. And then other other English speaking areas, you know, so we have quite a few, quite a few users in Australia, for example, good contingent in South Africa, and whatnot, but you know, our, our penetration into like France, Italy, Germany, you know, even even the Netherlands and whatnot, is, it could be a lot better, that’s for sure. And we have quite a few users over there just by number, but in terms of compared to the opportunity, it could be a lot more. And so our focus mostly over there has been with our tour operator partners. And so really, the, honestly, a lot of the people that we’ve supported in Europe, are Americans who are going overseas on these on these week long bike tours. And so we get a lot of usage over there. It’s just usage from people who are travelling, who are having this curated experience. So that’s been most of our experience in that market. Whereas in the US, we’re very integrated into like the local cycling scene by virtue of these partnerships with bike clubs and people that are running events.

Carlton Reid 49:05
Yeah, that that saw dinner event I mentioned was was one American, know those two brands, but they were both journalists. On the on the trips, everybody else was Americans and America, it’s an Italian company. But as far as I can see, most of our clientele are, are Americans. I guess that’s why they’ve used ride with GPS, because that’s, that’s more familiar to Americans. Now, obviously, I want to end now but uh, normally I would ask people, you know, what’s the URL? Where can we get more information? But it’s kind of obvious what your URL URL is. And like, I’m sure absolutely your Instagrams the same, everything is probably exactly the same as to Yes. We really don’t have to discuss what the URL might be. Now that How about you personally? Are you on social media in your own right, or is it always going to be you’re a corporate person and that’s That’s you’ll only find Zack as as Robert GPS

Zack Ham 50:03
No, I’m, I’m you know, I don’t post much on anything but but I’m certainly out there, you know, people are welcome to email me directly that’s za CK at Robert I always welcome and I see email or you know, you can follow me on Instagram, maybe I’ll post something and I think my most recent videos of me skateboarding so you can see that I don’t just ride a bike. And that’s Zach cam as well. So yeah, I’m on LinkedIn, I’m kind of I probably have a Twitter or x account or whatever they’re calling it now that I that I don’t use but I’m reachable through all those places.

Carlton Reid 50:38
Thanks to Zach Ham there and thanks to you for listening to Episode 340 of the spokesman podcast brought to you in association with Tern bicycles, show notes and more can be found at The next episode features an upbeat chat with Carla Francome who talks candidly about her knockers. That is, her social media critics, of course, That show will be out early next week. But meanwhile, get out there and ride

September 5, 2023 / / Blog

5th September 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 338: Bikemap: In conversation with Bruna de Guimaraes

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Bruna de Guimaraes

TOPICS: Interview with Bikemap’s Chief Operations Officer Bruna de Guimaraes


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 338 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Tuesday 5th of September 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:04
I’m Carlton Reid. And welcome to the second episode about cycle routing apps, both episodes of which were uploaded at the same time. On the previous show, I talked with Richard Fairhurst of And here, I talk with Bikemap’s Chief Operations Officer Bruna de Guimaraes. And where are you right this time?

Bruna de Guimaraes 1:31
So I’m currently in Munich, in Germany. And yeah, but I’m from Brazil originally.

Carlton Reid 1:38
And how long have you been with with Bikemap?

Bruna de Guimaraes 1:42
I’ve been with Bikemap since November last year. And it’s been a great ride,

Carlton Reid 1:49
literally. And and

Bruna de Guimaraes 2:02

Carlton Reid 1:52
Where were you? So let’s go through a biography of you. Before we even get into what Bikemap is? Let’s get into you. So where were you before Bikemap? Give the trajectory.

Bruna de Guimaraes 2:03
I’m happy to give because this is a really interesting way on how I landed in back live. But I actually graduated in law. So I became a lawyer. And that was in Estonia, which is a completely different story on how I ended up in Estonia all the way from Brazil originally. And I lend him in the software industry as if you know, the Estonia is like a land of digitalization. And so many companies are coming out of there. And especially so many unicorns. And I landed in Pipedrive, which is became a big unicorn in the software industry. And I fell in love with this world in a subscription based businesses and just having this contact with the users. And in Pipedrive, it was responsible for the whole business development. And I had a mini life crisis at the time because I did not know what business development actually meant. But I got the CEO at the time to be my mentor and teach me everything I know today. And as I said, business development is so broad, that my area was more related to product strategy. So basically everything when you’re trying to find a country to go to when you’re trying to find a market to expand your product to you cannot just think about going there. You have to take many things in consideration, such as localization, such as pricing strategies, such as product strategy, and maybe even a strategy or how you get into these countries. Maybe it’s through partnerships, maybe it’s through sales, maybe it’s through integrations. And what we did there in Pipedrive, was actually that my responsibility was to find these countries, and actually adapt the product and create a strategy to enter the market, with partnerships with integrations, and then a sales team would come in. And that was my world for multiple years. I continued developing in the CRM space after I moved to Germany. And that’s also a completely different story, because it involves moving to a different country because of because of a love story. But I continue to decide the SAS industry consulting and advising for a lot of CRM and software businesses.

Carlton Reid 4:34
Jump in there because anybody who doesn’t know Customer Relationship marketing is what you mean by CRM, yes?

Bruna de Guimaraes 4:39
Exactly. It’s basically a tool right that you can manage your relationship with their with their customer. So all the data you have also managing your sales processes. So it was towards all b2b. And I’ve been in this industry for eight years and I’m I had a little bit of contact with the b2c industry. But it was only last year, where then I was contacted by the headhunter of bike map to actually enter and try to help bike map to elevate to the next level. So bring a little bit more of a experience from a different industry to see if we could actually take pipeline to to the level that it deserves to be.

Carlton Reid 5:25
And have you done so far.

Bruna de Guimaraes 5:27
It’s really good. It’s, as I said, it’s been a ride. And I actually see a lot of similarities, if I must say, because as I mentioned, in the b2b space, and especially in the CRM space, where I was, I used to work with a lot of small and medium businesses. So it wasn’t working with enterprises and a long sales cycle, it was actually a very short one. So we had to deal with a lot of product lead growth, which means a lot of your product is your Sales Machine, your contact to your customer is through the product, you don’t have time to actually talk to every customer. And this is something I see very similar in the b2c industry. So this is what we’re trying to do. And this is what we have been doing in bike Mac now, and talking to our customers and really understand them based on the data that they actually use the product on the review that they give to us and the Apple Store and the Google Play Store, and the communication that we have with them through our support system.

Carlton Reid 6:31
Because you have a lot of competitors, many of whom, in fact, the majority of whom are free. And I’m kind of looking here at you know, things like you know, that people will have on their phones and use all the time, Google Maps and Apple Maps. So you are competing in a marketplace, where there’s some incredibly good free products. So why are people paying good money to subscribe for a month, six months a year to bike map?

Bruna de Guimaraes 7:01
That’s a great question. And I love to say that they are really our biggest competitor because that’s what been used by everyone until today. But the differentiator of bike map specialty is really the fact that we have this community aspect. So if you think about people going through these routes every single day, or when they plan a route to with their friends or with their family, you have actually this aspect of you know that someone has been through that through there. And they really have this trustworthiness. Because one thing is you’re being guided in Google Maps and how many times you were living in the city, for example, I don’t know what has how it’s been with you. But with me, if I want to go somewhere, even with my bike for transportation reasons, I know that there is a faster route, I know that there is a safer route for me, and Google Maps gives me just maybe what’s better regarding traffic, may be what is the fastest. But that might not be my favourite profile of my favourite decision. I have a daughter, for example. So I want to make sure that the rides that I take with her, even if it is from point A to point B, or if it is a tour over the weekend, it’s actually the safest way possible. So I want to make sure that it is the recycling lane, I want to make sure that people with kids have done this route as well, but that they can vouch for this route. This is the main thing that differentiates bike map to Apple Maps and Google Maps. And of course, our community reports as I said, so you want to know during your route to where you can have a resting spot where you can actually pump your your tires, if there is any issues or charge your eBike This is what makes bike maps special, our community aspect. So

Carlton Reid 9:01
are you saying that it’s like a ways like feature in that it’s plotting where people actually go. And that gets mixed up into your algorithm? It’s it’s not it’s not something that’s served up? From a server, it’s actually it’s all being fed back into the system?

Bruna de Guimaraes 9:19
Exactly. Nothing that you see in the system is actually done by us. It’s all by the community. So what we do is just give you the best route possible for you as a user and you as your profile. And everything else is populated by the community by our almost 9 million users worldwide.

Carlton Reid 9:43
And which countries are bigger than others? Where are your biggest markets where you’re where the not as big as market but also most the most users who are using this, you know, really frequently?

Bruna de Guimaraes 9:56
Yeah, as you can imagine as a Austrian company And Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the dark market, the back region, as we like to call it is our biggest market. But of course, Italy friends, you say the United States as well. And funnily enough, we have a really big user base in Brazil and in Korea,

Carlton Reid 10:19
and then I’ve got the app open at the moment on my phone. Because I’ve got, like, you kindly sent me a code to access this. And one of the benefits of membership is you can you can swivel through the variety of maps. So there’s open cycle map is probably the kind of the base one, but then you’ve got a whole bunch of other ones, including, like, an open like a satellite view, as well. But when you look at products, like Apple, Apple Maps, net, right now, only certain cities are being mapped, you know, with with bike routes, by Apple, but you can imagine it in the fullness of time, because they are not just they’re not providing just the routes, they’re also providing the the actual maps. So you know, they’re sending cars and people on foot around getting incredibly detailed maps, presumably, you know, with with speed limits, and signs read by artificial intelligence to learn and populate that map. So do they not have this incredible advantage, you know, companies like Apple, but once once they get up to speed, and once they you know, do other, you know, many other cities apart from just London and certain key cities, when they can map everywhere, they’re gonna eat you for for breakfast, aren’t they because they provide the routing and the maps whereas you don’t provide the maps, you’re you’re you’re sucking your maps in.

Bruna de Guimaraes 11:47
I mean, we do provide the navigations for for the users as well, right? So the differentiator really is just the community aspect. You can get this information from open street maps, we also use it and we also the Apple can do it. But the community aspect, as I mentioned before, is really what makes bike math different. You want to as a person, especially in the industry, nowadays, where technology is just consuming. Everything AI is consuming everything you want to trust the human, especially when it comes to a safety feature. And that’s why I like to say that safety is one of our biggest values, if not the biggest value that we have a sitemap because you want to trust the system, you want to trust what you’re using, and you trust more a person, a neighbour, a friend that has been through that, than actually technology nowadays, it’s kind of a paradox. But at least that’s what I see more and more happening. We want to become more and more human, every single day more.

Carlton Reid 13:00
In Germany, and in places like Cambridge in the UK, you basically have, you know, down to streetlamp level on open on OpenStreetMap, where the community of map users and map contributors have contributed so much. It’s just so so much more dense than than even an Ordnance Survey map or just you know, you know, even the best topographical maps will never have this level of detail that you’ve got on Open Street Map. But that’s that’s true in certain areas, and certain countries where there are an awful lot of willing contributors who are doing that. But in places you know, there are there are there, there are parts of the world where there aren’t that many tech tech savvy people populating maps. So you’re not going to have some cities are going to be complete. I’m presuming going to be almost completely dark to Open Street Map type products. So how do you how do you grow in in those places where the mapping probably isn’t anywhere near as good as somewhere like Germany, or places like Cambridge in the UK?

Bruna de Guimaraes 14:14
Yeah, that’s, again, the community aspect is what is fascinating about bike map. We have users that travelled the world planning trips and planning routes through throughout the world. They do big, long cycling tours. And that’s how they populate the app for us. We have most of these places, being populated by existing users, for example, in Germany, they are Germans, but they’re travelling the world, or they are Brazilians and they’re travelling the world. And this is where it makes these routes even more special from the point that you actually mentioned

Carlton Reid 14:58
and how do you know The routes that are in there are put kind of like inverted commas here, like family friendly routes, because you could have a whole bunch of, of really keen cyclists who will take the routes that they want to use, but it’s not the route that you know, a brand new cyclists would want to take. So how do you differentiate between the routes that are in your system that have been genuinely done, but be made by very, very keen cyclists who don’t mind traffic, compared to totally traffic free? How do you differentiate?

Bruna de Guimaraes 15:32
Yeah, when you’re actually looking for a route, you’re able to see all these specifications that the user used elevation, the type of ground if it was a gravel, if it was, also, if the bike was a mountain bike, if it was a road bike, you can see these differentiators. And that’s actually what makes them the user choose these routes? Yeah, and there was another question in the beginning that I forgot if you could repeat it,

Carlton Reid 16:03
where there are areas of the world that don’t have that much mapping. How do you get into there?

Bruna de Guimaraes 16:11
Yeah, that’s what I meant before with the, with the cyclists that just travelled the world. But the I remember the question was, was regarding the the people that are more savvy right there, they’re able to do it. They’re not scared of any route that comes into their way. But that’s also our app, you’re able to come in there and say, hey, I want that in that in that route. And explore it and really, find the best one that’s possible for you that we’re actually going to create this profile that is going to fit you and we’re going to suggest to you the best routes for you. So for example, if you’re more of a safer person and you have a road bike, then we can recommend you a specific route that actually fits your profile better. And if you’re more an adventurous one, that are looking for a way longer, or way, way harder with elevations that are not something that a beginner would use.

Carlton Reid 17:13
So tell me what you get with the free version of of your app. And then tell me what you get when you start paying.

Bruna de Guimaraes 17:23
Yes, so with the free version we have recording, and you can plan your route. So you can discover routes all over the world. You can also plan it, if you’re thinking of taking a trip with your friends. And you actually want to do it, you can do it with blank map and the free version. And you can record your route. So let’s say you want to go for for this route, you can record it. And then the end of this route is created for other users. This is what you can use with our free app. With a paying app, actually, you can have multiple map options. And you can navigate, you have turn by turn navigation, you can download the maps as well. So maybe you go into the area that you don’t have connection. And also you don’t want to use all the battery of your phone. Because you know it could it takes a lot of battery. And yeah, besides that we have more and more features coming in also with your like routing profiles, as I mentioned, and on the free version as well. You can keep on populating the app with discriminative reports.

Carlton Reid 18:35
I know when I would use it, if I’m in a in a different city than I would fire it up. That’s when I fire up navigation apps. But most people are not using you know that they’re just staying to the roughly the same place. So is this something that can also recommend the routes that you could go for, say, a nice a nice day trip? Can you can you like what how can what can you plot with your app?

Bruna de Guimaraes 19:04
Yes, exactly. So that also goes back to the other question about these routes that the people post into our into our system, they all come as well with pictures, you can also see what happened in these community reports. Resting spots, you can then plan around that’s actually based on that. So say for example, you want to stop at this restaurant and actually have a nice beer or you want you’re going with your kids and you want to make sure that it goes through a playground, because you want to have a resting time there while your kids play in the playground. Or you have an E bike and you want to make sure that you actually charge your bike midway or in case something happens that you’re actually able to also charge your bike so you can plan your route through that and that’s what The community gives back to us these informations that we get from the community based on the routes that they written. That’s all there for people as well to also plan their route and find this route and proud for themselves.

Carlton Reid 20:14
So tell me about your privacy level, because I’ve just clicked into a route in my local area. And it says, actually looks like a German fella has uploaded this this particular route in near my near my, where I live. So how are you? How are you? What are you doing with privacy? How are you protecting anonymizing people? Give us your privacy. Settings.

Bruna de Guimaraes 20:44
Yes. So I mean, we’re coming, we’re compliant with all the GDPR rules. So this is super important for us. And you can make all of these routes are private. So all the information that you have there can be private, it’s only public, if you want to be public, no one is going to see it unless you actually want to see it. And a profile is created automatically for you. And we don’t have any access to that until you actually allow us to have it.

Carlton Reid 21:17
Okay. And I’m also still in the app here. And I’m obviously on like, premium membership, because I’m getting all of these these things, the basically, how much are people having to pay to get the premium? What are your What are your payment, subscription levels?

Bruna de Guimaraes 21:40
So we have a monthly plan, and we have a yearly plan. And in our yearly plan, which is the best one is 49 euros

Carlton Reid 21:50
per year. Okay, and you’re getting full detection in that as well. How you doing for detection? Is that from the phone from?

Bruna de Guimaraes 21:57
That’s from the phone? Yeah. So if your phone is on, you’re on your bike, and it needs to be iOS. Right? So then if it’s in your bike, and it falls, then it gives a very big noise, that it loud that it announces that you actually fell from the bike so you’re able to

Carlton Reid 22:14
get safe. I’m presuming you’ve got Android as well.

Bruna de Guimaraes 22:18
Yes, we’re just implementing that. Alright, so

Carlton Reid 22:21
this is basically an iOS for a long time. And it’s only just becoming Android.

Bruna de Guimaraes 22:25
No. So we the app, we have an Android app. I thought you meant from the fall detection.

Carlton Reid 22:30
All right. Okay. So how long have you had the Android version of the of the full app compared to the was this originally iOS?

Bruna de Guimaraes 22:37
No, it was originally a web app. So we started all in the web app. And then for the last seven, six years, we started with mobile apps at the same time. So iOS, and Android.

Carlton Reid 22:55
And what’s the difference? Compared to us? Have you got many more IOs than Android? What’s What’s the split?

Bruna de Guimaraes 23:02
Yes, so 70% of our users are iOS users. So it’s a really big majority of our users are using iOS. And then the remaining ones are using Android. And they bought they use both web app and the and the app.

Carlton Reid 23:23
So that’s maybe a good question I had before about the the apple potentially eating your breakfast, because if they come out with an all singing, all dancing, every city, kind of bike routing, it does take away from you. I know you’d say yes, we have the community. But that’s community, but ya gotta pay for it. So are you monitoring? Are you looking at what Apple’s doing constantly? Or do you think they’ll always be so far away because of that community element, you don’t have to worry about what they’re doing city by city.

Bruna de Guimaraes 23:55
It’s not what we have to worry about. Because I think competition is always actually making us challenge ourselves and make us look into what the future brings. And I see Apple Maps, especially there is a partner. So for example, we’ve been featured multiple times in Apple, we’ve been featured at the WWDC, we do a lot of partnerships with them in regards to our features. And I think the market is very big, especially for cyclists. When you think about a generalised tool, like Apple Maps or like Google Maps, it’s it’s good. Yeah, it’s it does what it needs to do. But you as a cyclist, you wanting to actually plan a route and have an experience. You actually search for an app that actually gives you that that is focused on that. That was also why we never wanted to go into trailing or we never wanted to go hiking. We want to focus on site plus, because we know that there’s people and the market is there for really just cyclists in the cyclists experience.

Carlton Reid 25:08
So you still have the web app that will have, you can plan and do all sorts of stuff on the web, download is whatever and then and then follow up on your phone. Is that that you can do that? Yes. And plan. So you were saying before about, you know, we’re going to be adding features that, you know, when people pay for this, then they’ll be getting, what have you got anything? What amazing features do you have kind of potentially lined up?

Bruna de Guimaraes 25:38
Yeah, so for example, as I mentioned, we have the planning and tracking, navigating your routes. But if you think about it, more and more people, especially the young generation, they are actually using their bike as well for commuting. And they want to combine that. So imagine if you think about, Hey, you, I don’t know if you’re a fair parent, but maybe you take your kid to school. And you want to make sure that you take the fastest route possible, or the safest route possible with your child. But on your way back, after you actually taking your kid to school, you want to make sure that you take the fastest one back, it doesn’t necessarily need to be the safest. So we want to make sure that these are things that we’re actually giving to you and showing to you what’s the best route possible for you to do that. Also through weather, so you can also get weather, push notifications, and telling you, Hey, today is going to rain, maybe you want to leave today, and maybe want to leave now. And instead of 10 minutes from now, or in 30 minutes from now. And the same thing, of course with a personalised heat map, that’s when we think about actually a big route and planning your rides. Getting very specific ones tips on the Discover, and also from your profile, the best route possible for you.

Carlton Reid 27:10
And then I’m presuming I haven’t actually done this yet. Even though I have got one on my wrist at the moment, I’m assuming the app goes on to the smart an Apple Watch. So you don’t have to have the iPhone on your handlebars, you can have it in your pocket and be directed turn by turn on your wrist in effect

Bruna de Guimaraes 27:31
Exactly. And this is something that’s going to also be released very soon as well. We have the new updates from the WWDC that we’re actually going to be releasing for our watch OS. And that’s not only for iOS, but we’re also doing it for Android for the wherewith. So you can actually have navigation through your watch. You don’t need to have your phone on the handle bar, as you said, and you can really know where you’re going and receive the turn by turn navigation there.

Carlton Reid 28:07
And how are you reaching new people? How are you? How are you? How are you getting out there.

Bruna de Guimaraes 28:13
So we do it all through organic growth. And we have our marketing and our social media, really just trying to be there and talking to your users. So as I said, the community is a really big aspect for us is a really big point and value that really this word. How do you how do you say it in English word by word or word to word for word. So word of mouth and the very, what I like to call the organic growth from our app store, App Store and Google Play Store. This is really what takes us there. Do you get a

Carlton Reid 28:55
feeling from your from the kind of profiles you’ve got? How many people are incredibly keen cyclists? And how many are for want of a better phrase like new cyclists, you know, potentially worried cyclists who are using your app? Because they really want to have something to hold their hand when they’re starting out. Do you have any inkling of of that kind of granular knowledge of your your customer base? Yes.

Bruna de Guimaraes 29:29
So this is something that we’ve been trying to learn more and more also ever since I started like them. So really try to understand our users and talk to them. So the majority of them are actually 40 year old white, retired male, and they are doing it for fun. They enjoy this and they enjoy this route and they need this care and they need this trust from the system and I think this is where really ties together. But we have more and more younger people using the app, as I mentioned, and using it as well for community for commuting. And we’re trying to combine that now. Because we have these people that are using and they’re riding our streets every single day. And we want them as well to populate data in the app. Also, for the people that are going on these rides on the weekend, like our main user base, that is the male for the year 40. Plus, and retired.

Carlton Reid 30:36
Hmm. Because I’m gonna, I’m after if you’ve been sent the I did do an app like this many, many years ago, the bike hub app. The reason the reason for doing that? It was by the Bicycle Association of the UK, and it was in effect, it definitely wasn’t in that demographic. That’s the bulk of your customers. It was the brand new, the worried cyclists, the people who don’t know how to get from A to B, and think, Well, I really can’t do that because I’m surrounded by major roads. So it was very much to get brand new people to be comfortable at finding routes that would take them in safety. So as many bike you know cycleways as possible, all that kind of stuff. It was very much aimed at newbies, rather than it at at keen cyclists. Do you think that was wrong, you should should have been, you know, we should have you should have really targeted at the keen cyclists because they’re the ones that are going to, you know, power the app forward.

Bruna de Guimaraes 31:39
I think knowing your ICPs key, sorry, your ideal customer profile is, is key. If that was for you, then that’s your the problem you’re trying to solve. And the solution you’re trying to give. And for us is really the people that are not adventurous, they’re not athletes, but they’re comfortable riding, they want a safe route, but they are not doing it for the first time. They don’t want to go into dangerous places, but they are also not wanting to be handhold it all the time.

Carlton Reid 32:18
Do you white label for any?

Bruna de Guimaraes 32:20
No, we don’t. That’s all of us. And we have a very straightforward B to C model.

Carlton Reid 32:29
But the only reason I’m asking that is because an enormous amount of cyclists actually using the roads right now in lots of cities are actually food delivery cyclists who their apps, you know from Deliveroo from whatever system they are being routed all the time. By ineffective very, you know, algorithm similar to yours. And I’m just wondering if you provided any of your, your know how to these companies keep those the delivery cyclist safe if they’ve got something that you know, benefits, more things that you’ve got

Bruna de Guimaraes 33:10
100% and partnerships is something that we’re definitely focusing on, since this summer, not only with food deliveries, but also hotels tourism. And this is really a market that is really open for us. But white labelling, it’s not something we’re considering at the moment because it takes away the focus of the product and building the product for the users that we actually want to keep improving. And, but partnerships and actually finding a way to work together without white labelling is something that it’s growing a lot in the summer.

Carlton Reid 33:47
How do you describe how you’re doing this partnership so the tourism partnerships that you like offering like one week subscriptions to a hotel guest or something? What are you

Bruna de Guimaraes 33:56
exactly so then we can have a specific amount of like the hotels would pay us X amount of money every month and then they get this code that they all have their guests can get can use the app for free as a premium version for one month for example. And then we hope that we actually convert them afterwards and for the hotel is actually very good because they get an app and that they can offer tour their their clients and also with routes that are populated by the people that have been there.

Carlton Reid 34:28
Is that the end of the show, and then a second I’ll get Bruna to give us an elevator pitch for Bikemap. But here’s David with a short commercial interlude.

David Bernstein 34:38
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Carlton Reid 35:38
Now, we should have done this right at the beginning. But I just wanted to start talking rather than put you on the spot here. Give me the elevator pitch, even though we’ve talked about all the benefits, and we will probably have done it just give me your very short elevator pitch of what you say if you if you had to go to an investor and you had to describe this product to somebody who knows nothing about why people would use this give it give us that pitch that you would need in order to a dragon dens you know, a shark tank type environment?

Bruna de Guimaraes 36:14
Yeah. So Bikemap is the market leader for this community generated cycling maps and routing. So besides the maps and routing, from 8.6 million users that we have out there and 13 million unique routes that we have there, worldwide, we’re also how helping you find the best route for yourself. So really understanding you as a user and giving you real time information of your routes. Okay,

Carlton Reid 36:46
I’m an investor. And I’m going to come up with a tough question here. Of those 8.6 million users, how many have you converted to paying customers?

Bruna de Guimaraes 36:57
Oh, that’s a question that we need an NDA for. But as I mentioned, we are a platform and we are really a community generated company that our vision is to be the world’s number one platform for a safer and community powered cycling world of tomorrow. So really having this in mind that it doesn’t matter if you’re free. It doesn’t matter if you’re a premium, as long as you’re keeping us to build this community and that you’re populating the app to help people out there and to help the the fellow cyclists out there. That is our goal.

Carlton Reid 37:34
Excellent, even within the NDA, and I didn’t get the answer to that I kind of assumed I wouldn’t. So So tell us now we’ll end we’ll end up now on where do people get information from? And where could they perhaps contact you or see you on social media? So two things, where did they get the app? And how do they find out about you?

Bruna de Guimaraes 37:59
That’s a great question. You can find us at bike on websites, on Instagram at bike map. And of course, you can find this bike map in any app store and Google Play Store that you have.

Carlton Reid 38:14
Okay, and you?

Bruna de Guimaraes 38:16
You can find me on LinkedIn and my name is Bruna de Guimaraes and you will find me attached to bike map

Carlton Reid 38:27
Thanks to Bruna de Guimaraes there and thanks to you for listening to Episode 338 of the Spokesmen podcast brought to you in association with Tern bicycles. Show notes, and more can be found at The next episode will be available later in September. But meanwhile, get out there and ride …

September 5, 2023 / / Blog

5th September 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 337: Cycle.Travel: In Conversation with Richard Fairhurst

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Richard Fairhurst

TOPICS: Interview with routing website founder Richard Fairhurst.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 337 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Tuesday 5th of September 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:04
I’m Carlton Reid. And over the next two episodes, uploaded at once, I talked to the folks in charge of cycle routing apps bikemap of Austria and of Oxfordshire. Episode 338 is with Bikemap’s Chief Operations Officer Bruna de Guimaraes , but this episode is a chat with’s. Richard Fairhurst. Both interviews were done remotely with me firing up the desktop versions and playing with the smartphone apps. So here’s Richard …

Richard Fairhurst 1:44
Yeah, so I live in this place called charlbury which is about 20 miles outside Oxford, just on the edge of the Cotswolds. And it’s lovely this was held on the National Cycle network, which is always good also has a train station, which is good for somewhere this size. I think Mr. Beeching must have overlooked us somehow. But yeah, lovely place and very cycling friendly,

Carlton Reid 2:06
Which is like kind of helps what you do then.

Richard Fairhurst 2:08
Yeah, totally, totally. And it’s, it’s always been. I mean, obviously, Oxford and Oxfordshire is a bit of a hotbed of cycling in a lot of ways. But yes, as I say, we have a National Cycle network routes going pretty much past my house. And that was actually something that I was involved in setting up. I’m a sauce trans volunteer, in this part of the world and helped design the route. And one of the things I’ve always tried to do with cycle travel is have it so that it will find you a route which is good, as good as a human designer, that if you want to go from I don’t know, Oxford to let’s say Coventry or something like that. And no one has set out a route that goes that way, then within the confines of the infrastructure, it should find you the best route possible. At least that’s the plan.

Carlton Reid 3:01
So in another hotbed of cycling, Cambridgeshire, you have Cyclestreets, and Cyclestreets that I know, cuz I used them for my the bike hub app many, many years ago. Now that that cleverness comes from the way that it routes. So it’s the routing engine is the real powerhouse there. And lots of sites and lots of maps have used that routing engine for their own apps, but you’ve clearly using OpenStreetMap. We’ll get into that in a second. But so how are you physically generating the route? So when you said that it’s like a human? How do you make your routing engine like a human?

Richard Fairhurst 3:44
OK, so this is an interesting one. So I think cyclestreets, I have huge amounts of time for. I know, Martin quite well. And we’ve worked on a couple of projects together. There, their angle is more towards commuting, and practical, everyday cycling, cycle travel, you can use it for commuting, and people do. But it also has really quite a strong tilt towards leisure cycling, and touring and longer rides like that. So if you are going from landscapes join groups, then cycle travel will find your good route. If you go from New York to San Francisco, it will hopefully find you a good route. But as you say, it’s all about the routing engine. The routing engine effectively with any route planner is a set of opinions. It’s a set of opinions about which road is good to cycle on and which one isn’t. cycled travels, opinions are obviously very much aligned to mine. But also, I’ve been involved in OpenStreetMap for 19 years now, pretty much since the first few months of the project, and know how the data works there quite well. So there’s a lot of sort of little things there. I think you know, if we’re going along a track in France, and it’s rated as a grade two track, well, actually the French mappers are a bit more, a bit more optimistic about the state of the unpaved tracks and the British mappers. So let’s mark it down a little bit, because yeah, that’s how they map things in France. So it’s the sort of the accumulation of all of that sort of knowledge. Pretty much gives cycled travel. It’s its personality, but also its opinions on what sort of route to follow.

Carlton Reid 5:28
So clearly, cyclestreets, the streets part is the clue there. And the dot travel is the clue there. So that’s, that’s, that’s how you’re differentiating is just your more long distance in effect?

Richard Fairhurst 5:40
Yeah, absolutely. Yes, it’s very much just says on the tin. And I remember the first time in sort of first couple of years at the site that someone emailed me and said, I’ve just used it to plan a route from Shropshire to Rome, was absolutely great. It took me down to farm track in France, which I would rather not have cycled longer apart from that it was spot on. And I thought, yeah, okay, this is what it’s meant to be about. This is the idea.

Carlton Reid 6:04
And if you’ve spent nearly 19 years on OpenStreetMap, you’re nearly on 10 years for So 2014 is one of the first references I can find online. Maybe you were doing before then. So is that 2014 When you started or was it bit before it was end of 2013.

Richard Fairhurst 6:22
So a little bit of background. This is kind of it’s a bit of a change of career for me. Before this, I was a magazine editor used to editor magazine called Waterways World, which if you know anything about canals, boats, rivers, that sort of thing you may have stumbled across. And boating waterways is always something I’ve done. And for one of the magazines I’d worked for, I’d got into the habit of drawing the maps for it, because we needed a map to show where the canals went. And I sort of fell into cartography that way. And from there, it was a reasonably obvious thing, because I love cycling, I always love cycling, to start to draw cycle maps. And as I went along with a, it may be I can make a bit more of a career out of this. But also, I see these routing sites out there, I see that you can ask Google or whatever it might be for a route from Oxford to Woucester, and it’s not the route that I would want to cycle along. I do not feel happy with choosing the routes that it’s selected. So I’m going to have go to my own. And it’s absolutely taken off from there. And I’d be delighted with how much people enjoy it.

Carlton Reid 7:31
Hmm. And there’s also Heritage magazine. You had a So describe that directory waterways World Heritage magazine. It did you train in that did your How did you get into that didn’t get in to begin with?

Richard Fairhurst 7:47
Okay, so age 14, or 15 or so I was your archetypal 1980s, computer geek. And I had a Amstrad home computer, you might remember those, not that dissimilar to spectrums, and things like that. And I had to play around with it as teenagers tend to and got reasonably okay programming things on it. And for three, one thing or another, I ended up being the freelance technical writer for a magazine called Amstrad Action. And Amstrad Action has a bit of cycling connection in this it was the first magazine ever published by Future publishing, itt started the entire company off. And obviously, they went on to do Cycling Plus, mountain bike magazines, and cyclingnews and things like that. So that’s all I’m selections fault. Ultimately, I then went off to university, but I got started in, in journalism after this. So it came as a reasonably obvious thing to do, after university to go for jobs on magazines. I already had this on my CV. And because I enjoyed boating, I went to the canal magazines. First of all, I then spent a while, as you say, editing heritage magazine, which was a sister magazine to the canal magazine that worked out at the time. And that was an interesting experience. Because you think, okay, heritage magazine, it’s all about going around the countryside and country houses and that sort of thing. It must be quite a nice fluffy thing to work on. And it is. But on the other hand, actually, 90% of the readership were Americans, and they knew a huge amount about country houses and about Shakespeare and all of that, you know, this was their identity. They loved the old country, as it were. And I’ve never been that great on Shakespeare, to be honest. So I spent a few months there and it was good fun. But I said after that, I’m going going back to the canal, some controversy about canals, because I know about that.

Carlton Reid 9:41
On your on your site, you describe yourself as an Open Street Map. OpenStreetMap. Activist, so that’s not just a contributor. You’re a bit more than just a contributor on open streets. I was trying to find out the segway from Heritage Magazine. Then waterways world into how you got into being quite active on the OpenStreetMap. Community. Yeah.

Richard Fairhurst 10:07
So as you say, I have spent all this time with cycling magazines and waterway magazines and then got into drawing the maps for them. And there’s always been a problem with any map that you’ve got to get the source data from somewhere unless you literally go out and survey absolutely everything yourself, which gets impractical when you’re doing a whole new canal every month, then you’ve got to get the data from somewhere. And in historically, in Britain, you would get it from the Ordnance Survey. And at the time, Ordnance Survey would basically charge you through the nose through any data that they might daintily have. They’re so much better now. But that was the case back then. And I kind of worked out that, well, the thing about canals is they haven’t moved much. Most of them were built before 1850, I can find some old maps out of copyright. And I can just trace the canals off there. And we’re fine, we bought them suddenly got all sorts of data. So this became, this became a little bit of a project. And I ended up collecting the entirety of the Ordnance Survey one inch maps of England and Wales for the 1930s and 1940s, which was at the time, the last set that were out of copyright. So I found a place that would scan stuff in bulk for you, and said, you know, will you be prepared to scan this? And they said, Yep, two quid a map, we’ll do it. So I gave them 150 maps, they gave me a DVD with scans of the board on which was quite something. And then this guy called Steve Coast started OpenStreetMap. And all of a sudden, I think well hang on. This is a it’s a really interesting project for what he’s doing. But also, I’ve got all these old maps. And it’s not just canals that haven’t moved. Most of the railways, lots of country roads, lots of rivers, obviously, maybe this would be an interesting angle to work together on this. So this was about four months after OpenStreetMap had started. I said, Okay, I’m interested in maps, I’ve got this sort of stuff going on. I’d like to be part of this. And so I’ve been asked that as part of OpenStreetMap from its very early days. And in the first year, we literally had about six or seven or eight paths and roads in Regent’s Park. And that was the sum total of the world map. And now it’s everything is everything everywhere. It’s astonishing how it’s, and I think he did my great surprise for how the project was taking off was, I don’t know, maybe sort of seven or eight years into the project, I went on holiday to China. And it was one of these sort of things where, obviously, you’ve got fairly limited freedom of movement there. But we it mean that we had good guests, good guides, and a good itinerary planned out and all of that. And we were walking on some fairly obscure paths in a rice farming area. And the Chinese government is very anxious about people surveying their country, they don’t like it too, you know, you’ve got to have all of these permits to allow you to do this, and they don’t get permits to OpenStreetMap volunteers. And so this, this is a bit of a problem. But as a good OpenStreetMap activist, I can’t not survey where I’ve gotten here. And this is unthinkable. So I had little Garmin GPS recording a track tucked into my side pocket hoping that no one was going to notice it. And okay, fine, I do that I get a bunch of railways as well, because we travelled around by train, get all of this stuff, go back home ready to upload this into OpenStreetMap ready to map it. And I find out this already been done. It’s already been done by a bunch of Germans who’ve been to China on holiday and have done all of this six months a year before me at that point, I thought well, you know, okay, this is taking off. If even these remote places in China, where you go to are being mapped by volunteers, then this is really gonna go somewhere. And it has you know, now, now Facebook now Microsoft Now Amazon, all of these big companies use OpenStreetMap and that’s the thing we started building 19 years ago.

Carlton Reid 14:09
And then you’re talking about the effect. We’re a bit of a word a bunch of geeks basically. You know, taking GPS tracks and then uploading and then digitising etc, etc. So they tend to be geeks. I think I can’t be too but doing all effort as a volunteer you know, that’s very that takes a lot of time. Obviously a lot of expertise. But then you’re translating that into into a business. So with with your with cycle dot travel. And why did you charge so why why is cycled not travel, not charging and other other navigation sites, websites and apps that are bike friendly? bike friendly routing,

Richard Fairhurst 15:01
they do charge. So why don’t you charge, I could talk for hours about cycle navigation apps, business models is a fascinating subject, or at least its history. So if you look at the really big guys, then you look at people like Strava, or commute or whoever it might be their, you know, their business model, as you say, it’s very much based on charging, the standard thing for this sort of site is that this sort of app in particular, is that you pay five pounds a month, and get turn by turn routing, and you get offline maps and things like that. Now, the thing about Stryver and commute is they have got a staff of 1000s of think commuter employ about 120 people, they have got marketing budgets, commensurate with that, these are the big guys, I am me sitting in a little converted barn in the back of my house in Charlbury, I can’t compete on that level. So I’m not going to fight that game. Instead, what I try and do is say, Okay, I’m going to put this up there, I really hope that it finds good roots for people, I find, I hope that someone who was going to use it to go from Shropshire to Rome, or just had someone going across America with it, we have people doing routes across France across Britain all the time, I hope that people will do that, find a good route and be so happy with the site that they choose to donate. So what you can do with cycling travel as you can become a supporter, you can give two pounds a month or five pounds a month, whatever you see fit. And you know, you didn’t get a few extra baubles for that you get a few maps, which I have to pay for. So Ordnance Survey maps, IGN in France, that sort of thing. But by and large, it’s largely the same. But I hope that people will be sufficiently happy with the site and with the routes that it finds support them, that they will choose to support it. And they do. You know, others now, hundreds of people have signed up to become supporters of cycle travel, it pays its own way in terms of service costs. And all of that is getting towards paying its own way. In terms of my time on it, I think I’m not that far off. And that that’s brilliant, because it means I can spend more time doing what I love. And it means that people get great holidays, great bike routes. So that’s absolutely what I’m in it for.

Carlton Reid 17:24
So, as you said, there are quite a few other sites and apps out there. What are they doing? Well, and what are they not doing? Well? Can you can you be rude in that way?

Richard Fairhurst 17:38
Okay, so Well, I’ll tell you the easy one, which is the site that I have absolutely the most respectful and that’s Ride With GPS, I think they are brilliant. They really know their audience. Their proposition is quite different from what I do. Their proposition is more about organising routes, saving routes, saving rides. They’ve got an absolute suite of editing tools for your groups, all sorts of things that, you know, I would never dream of doing a month of Sundays. I think, you know, obviously, I am biassed, I think their core A to B routine is not as strong cycle travels, it will put you on a busy road more often than I do. But I think you know, for their audience, what they do is absolutely fantastic. They’re bootstrapped. They haven’t taken external funding. They’ve got a small team of about I think 15 to 20 people working in Portland in Oregon, now the great cycling city, and what they do is brilliant. So yeah. What I was gonna say, which is nice about other people, I mean, you know, both both Strava and commuter ecosystems, really Strava for a lot of people is cycling commute has all of this stuff where it gets you into their apps, and all of the safe, your highlights and all of that sort of thing. But which is the sort of thing you’ve got, you’ve got 120 people to do, and they pay influencers to go out and have great rides and say, does this with Caboose and that sort of thing. It’s a different level of doing things. And you know, I have plenty of time for them. As I say up cycled travels, strength, I think is the is the routing and the actual routes that it will find for you. But yeah, a lot of a lot of time for that. And of course, as you mentioned earlier, cyclestreets cyclestreets have been doing this for a long time longer than I have. They have absolutely got the city routing down to a tee. If you are going across London or Cambridge, then cyclestreets will find you a terrific route and always has done so. Yeah. And another obviously another great thing that cyclestreets does, is that they do a lot of advocacy, advocacy type work. They work with Robin lovely cert active travel England now they do stuff with local authorities. And in fact, the other year, I was involved in a project with them and TfL because TfL TfL a few years ago, spent, I think 2 million pounds on producing this cycle infrastructure database, which is this massive collection of data on every single bit of cycle infrastructure in London, it’s quite an endeavour. And this was fine. And they used it for their own purposes. And it was just sitting there and they thought, well hang on. If we get this data into OpenStreetMap, then we can actually get it out there and used by people. So you get it into OpenStreetMap, it then feeds into all the different mapping apps. And then people will start to be able to use this knowledge that TfL have gathered about where all the good infrastructure is. And so we spent a few months working on that it has started to filter through. And you will find now that most of the mapping apps, not just me, not just cyclestreets will now make better decisions in London as a result of this. And nice to follow up about this is that TfL, then, last year had a cycle routing Summit. And they invited me for cycle travel, Martin from cycle streets, and a bunch of other people from the big guys. So from Apple from Google, and such, like, and basically they put Martin and me up on stage and said, Okay, so this is cycle travel, this is cycle streets, they are finding good routes across London. And we would like you from Apple and you from Google to talk to these guys and find out how they’re doing it. Because they’re finding better routes. And we if we’re going to spend 2 billion pounds on building cycle super highways across London, we sure as heck want your apps to direct people to use them. And at that point, they weren’t doing it. I think Apple are doing quite interesting things with cycle boosting in cities. And they’re starting to do that. Google, I mean, Google have a product for cycle routing, but it’s it’s tuned to San Francisco, and it doesn’t necessarily work that well in the rest of world some places it does. So

Carlton Reid 21:45
you’re right. I mean, Apple, Apple is doing some very interesting things, obviously have got very deep pockets. And and can do interesting things. Do you think even with the deepest pocket in the world, you’re never really going to catch up with OpenStreetMap? Or do you think something like Apple could, you know, the way that they’re mapping everything that satellites, you know, they’re sending cars round, they’re sending bikes round and pedestrians round a bit like Google Streetview are doing? And then everything is, you know, obviously read so you know, you’re getting the speed limit is read from the round holes that the cameras are that AI is spotting, or do you think there’ll always be something about the crowdsource nature of OpenStreetMap that will always be done that how much money you pump into a map? Absolutely, yes.

Richard Fairhurst 22:36
OpenStreetMaps great strength is that it is an agglomeration of local knowledge. Basically, every single contributor brings their local knowledge to the map. So if you know about a little cut through, then you put that into OpenStreetMap, it might only be 1050 metres between two streets, but it could save two miles off a bike route. And that goes in that instantly makes everyone’s ride better. It’s very, very difficult for even the best street view cameras and AI processing to pick up that level of detail. And so I think OpenStreetMap has always got that knowledge, but also OpenStreetMap is, to large extent built by cyclists. Certainly in Britain, we found that a lot of the earliest OSM contributors were cyclists who wanted a decent map for cycling, and couldn’t get on anywhere else. It’s really notable that one of the earliest breakthroughs of the project was when that smart smart guy figured out how to reverse engineer the mapping format for Garmin GPS. So within a few months of this, people had got OpenStreetMap on their Garmins as the base map all of a sudden, and it had all of these cut throughs in and it had the MCN. And they had all of this sort of thing. And that obviously that then made people’s bike routing experience the cycling experience so much better. And I think it’d be very, very hard for Apple or Google with all the AI in the world to catch up with that they will be able to give you the best freeway routing experience in San Francisco, because they’ve got, you know, surveying cars going along with caught with cameras on every single angle. But they didn’t put that sort of effort into cycling. And last week, I think it was actually on one of the Silicon Valley Tech forums, there was an anonymous poster from someone who used to work for Google Maps, saying, Yeah, I used to work there. And I tried to put a bit more effort into the cycle routing, and he got stomped on from on high for privacy reasons. They said, No, we can’t really do this. And they don’t work there anymore. And they said, you know, cycling isn’t really a priority for Google to be honest. It doesn’t make them a lot of money. They are ultimately a self driving car company these days. OpenStreetMap is to a large extent Made by cyclists, it’s in our interest to make the routine better.

Carlton Reid 25:02
Hmm. So, with your Heritage magazine background, I don’t know how much you know about cycling history. But of course, cyclists have always been really keen on mapping. You know, the the Bartholomew maps, the cyclists are very interested in the, you know, the, the route books that cyclists created in the 1870s 1880s, that incredibly interested in, in road surfaces. And I’ve written whole books about this. Very interested, but it just in mapping in general, so like the CTC work, such as Touring Club, as was very, very involved with the mapping companies. One of the maps I used in my book was a, which were the CTC was heavily involved with for a long time. And was you basically using crowdsourcing to do this an early version of Open Street Map, where they were where they were mapping road surfaces. So there was a there was a batholomew map where every single street surface was mapped. And if you look at the bottom, we oh, how was this mapped? It was done by cyclists who were then contributing, you know, their information to the local council. He was then putting it or she was probably he was putting it through to Bartholomew. And then they produce these incredibly detailed maps of you know, here’s where the tarmac was, here’s where the asphalt or here’s where the macadam was, here’s where the wooden streets were. And it’s these incredibly dense, almost Open Street Map dense maps of London and done by cyclists in the 18 1890s. So you are in a rich tradition there, Richard?

Richard Fairhurst 26:47
Absolutely. And that’s, that’s terrific. Because, again, it’s looking at cycling has never had the money that’s behind the auto industry. If you are Apple or Google, then it’s in your financial interest to plough huge amounts of money into into car routing, because that’s where the money is. Cyclists, as you say, do it for themselves and always have done and I think OpenStreetMap is a great example of that. We found in the early days in Britain, that actually cyclists were keen on it the walkers because walkers have always had fabulous maps in Britain, they have the Ordnance Survey, and we’ve always had a bit of resistance there you see, say to people come and contribute to OpenStreetMap. You can put all your favourite hiking paths on it and say, Well, why would I want to do that? I’ve got an OS map, where a cyclist got it from day one. They knew that there was nothing out there at the time. That was giving them a decent map. And so yeah, right, I can get this I’m going there to put all my favourite roads in it.

Carlton Reid 27:46
I’m going to I’m going to go across to my colleague in America right now for a brief interlude, a commercial interlude. However, when we come back, I would like to you basically you talk me through how to use the online version and the the one that I’ve got on my, my my smartphone, my iPhone. So take it away, David.

David Bernstein 28:10
This podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern understand that while a large cargo bike can carry oodles of stuff, many of us prefer something a little more manageable. That’s why they’ve come up with the HSD e-cargobike for folks with big aspirations to go car free, delivered in a compact size, with its rear shock, 280 kilos, and a combined hauling capacity of 180 kilos. The robust new HSD is stable and easy to manoeuvre, even when under load. And with its Bosch eBIKE SYSTEM tested and certified to meet the highest UL standards for electric and firesafety you’ll be able to share many worryfree adventures with a loved one whether it’s your kiddo or Nan. Visit www.ternbicycles. That’s te r n turn to learn more.

Carlton Reid 29:09
Thanks, David. And we are back with Richard Fairhurst. And before David’s ad break bear or David’s not his ad break but Tern’s ad break narrated by David thanks so much, David. I was asking Richard if he would guide me. So give me so on the on the on the website. And on the the app. There is a section which actually says how to use the app and you can drill down but can you and this is like the end of the world of radio here. So it’s difficult it’s not visual but just if you can basically take what what do I start with? What what are the things that as an absolute beginner when I’m opening up either on the desktop or on the smartphone? What should I be looking for and give me some tips on being a power user give me straight into being a power user. That how you would use this app when say you reach your either plan, give me two versions, where you are planning say a holiday somewhere you’ve never been to before. And when you physically there on the ground with your smartphone, so give me the power user tips give me give me the the startup guide, even though this is purely audio and not visual.

Richard Fairhurst 30:27
Okay, so cycle travel, the URL that you type into your web browser is simply that it’s just cycle dot travel, or you can google it of course, and you go straight there to the homepage, and it will give you two boxes where you type in where you’re going from and where you’re going to. So I am sitting here with a site now I shall type in classic test that I’m going to go from Land’s End it autocompletes it so that’s fine says it lands in Cornwall, UK, UK name John O’Groats and actually second walked out on the group’s Caithness Scotland. That’s what we Yeah, so I do that it has found me a route. And you will see that the route opens up on the map, you have got the lines there with mile markers every 100 miles. It says it’s 992 miles, which sounds about right, you’ve got a bunch of little tools that you can use to play around with the route on the left, but the core of it is on the right. And that’s it’s broken it down into the various different types. So it says your 71% on paved road 14% on paved path, you’ll notice that only 8% on busy roads. And this really tells you about the sort of routine that cycle travelled likes doing, people will cycle from lands and xiana groups and spend 100 Miles going up the marches on day 49, non intimate, that sort of thing. It’s all about quiet roads, things like old railway paths, decent quality tow paths, that sort of thing. So it has found this route. The power user tip, and you can go absolutely wild with this is that you can then drag it. So you get your mouse you hold the mouse down on a bit, and then you drag it to where you want to go. So let’s say I want it to go through Oxford, I have just done that. And it has now found me the best route it can from Land’s End to John O’Groats via Oxford, and either via point has little one on it. So that is the first via point. Let’s put another one in, we’re going to go through Lincoln. Number two, you can put up to 200 in there. And people do I have seen the most amazing intricate routes that people will plot with that. And that’s that, okay. So what we can then do is let’s have a look at this. It’s 1074 miles. Now, you’re not going to cycle that in a day, I realised that we’re recording this a few days after Paris-Best-Paris, and there are people listening who probably do this sort of thing in a few days. But I’m not going to do this in a day, certainly. So you will see on the left this it says under route summary total length of 1000s centrical miles suggest overnight stops. So to click that. And it suggests that if we’re taking an average distance per day of 60 miles, then we can do it in 18 days, and there’s a little button on either side of 18 days, we can make that a bit shorter or longer. So let’s take it down to 14 days, because that’s kind of common way of doing lands and junk routes. And okay, that’s taken us up 77 miles a day. Let’s say we’ve got to get the train to pens amps on the first day. So that’s going to reduce our cycling time there. So we take a short first day, that’s fine, take split. And you will see that it’s put these points along the way, each of which has got a little moon symbol on there overnight stops, and five points as well. So you can drag those around. And you’ll see. So it’s suggesting places we might want to stop one of those, let’s say let’s have a look in it’s found walnut, which is between Bridgewater and Glastonbury, which sounds like a nice part of the world. So what I’m going to do, I’m going to click that on the map, and you’ll see a little bubble pops up. And it says, Okay, this is a via point. It’s on a minor road, we know all that sort of stuff. And you’ll see a bunch of links for stuff you can do there. One of those links is nearby accommodation. So I’m going to click that. And you see there are a bunch of icons show up and those are for campsites and for Bnbs and for hotels that are near the plates we’ve selected. You can turn different types of those off. So I’m going to say I’m I don’t want I don’t want chain hotels. I want individual ones. That’s good. So here we go. We have found Sunnyside Bed and Breakfast. That sounds nice. So I click that. It brings up this window about it. I can check availability and book, click through on that. And that takes me straight to to and that will give me a chance to book that for whatever days I’m interested in. So I can clear that out the way something that people are always He’s interested in is elevation, how much climbing you’ve got to do. And cycle travel, of course has an elevation graph. That’s one of the icons on the left. So I’m going to click that Show elevation. And it comes up with the elevation graph. What is important here is that it is broken it down into every individual day. So I can see that, for example, on the second day, because we’re going through Cornwall and corners like that. We’ve got 1700 metres of elevation. So that’s going to be a tough one. Take your mouse along there, click on an individual point. And it will take you to that particular point on the back, I recognise that I’ve written that several times. That’s the place just above camelford, where it’s sort of an old air base, and you’ve got this dead pancake pancake straight road at the top of a hill. And there was always a headwind, seriously, it must have written that three or four times and there was always a headwind. So you can find your way through the route like that. You’ll also see if you click anywhere on the route doesn’t have to be via point, you can just click anywhere on the blue line. Then, when the window comes up, within two pop up window, you’ve got two things at the bottom one says find photos. And the other says Street View, Street View is fairly self explanatory, that will open Google Street View at that particular place. So if you’re not sure about what the route is going to be like, you can eyeball it before you set off. Obviously, the disadvantage of Street View is that Google sends its Street View cars along roads, it doesn’t send the belong tracks or cycleway that often. So there’s also see photos, click that and you’ll hopefully find a bunch of photos crop up especially on right aways, railway paths, that sort of thing. And so you can have a bit of a look at what the surface is going to be there. And that comes from an absolutely fantastic project called geo graph, which is another crowd sourced based collection of photos from people who have been taking pictures of every single part of the British Isles for, again, 20 years now. So that’s where that comes from. I said blue line earlier, it’s not always a blue line, sometimes it’s a green line. And when it’s a green line, that’s because it’s an off road section. an unpaved section, I should say. So you might find occasionally that will take you along a Canal Towpath, it will try and keep you on two paths and railway paths that are a reasonably good cyclable surface. You know, I absolutely cringed when I think Google Maps first brought out cycle routing, they spoken to the canal and river trust and got their towpath data. And so it sent you a long tow patter every single opportunity including the shops union Canal, which is anyone who cycled it will know is basically a reenactment of the Somme it’s just a quagmire for miles on end. And so you know, toe pattern if it was the same cycle travelled twice to send you along the good ones and not the bad ones. But all of this to say it’s a fairly balanced type of route choice. It likes quiet roads in like scenic roads, it likes good quality tracks, you can also choose a couple of other route profiles as it were the one which is gravel cycling, and that will accentuate the off road again, you know, it will try not to send you on absolute quagmires.

This depends how much data there is an Open Street Map about surface quality, but where it knows these things, it will try and do that. There’s also a paved option that you can choose. And that will try and keep you on paved roads, or paved psychopaths whenever it can, for a bit of in subsidy routing, as well. There’s also a nighttime option. And this is fairly new and experimental. But what that will do is try and keep you on roads and paths that are going to be well lit. And so I think this came actually from an idea I think it was Ruth Hannah McQueen had on Twitter, she said, You know, I want to go cycled back from places in London in the winter. And I don’t particularly want to cycle along the Regent’s canal or across various parks in in winter. And I totally get that you know, it’s cycling supposed to be enjoyable and and part of being enjoyable is safe. So the nighttime option will try and keep you off that sort of thing. But you’ve got those those four options. If you’re using it in different parts of the world, you might not have all of the options. So I don’t do gravel routing in the state as yet, but it’s there across Britain and Europe. What else can I tell you, I think the other the other thing, let’s clear our vans into junk routes route out the way. The other thing that I would highlight is that it’s not just about a to b routing. You can also do a to b and back to A so that’s a round trip. And so let’s say I’m going to go from childfree to Banbury for an afternoon ride. So I click the two places on the map or type them in in the search boxes. And that has found the a 90 mile route. That’s fine. I now have to get home again. I would like to get home a different way. So I click the round trip button and it has found me in a slightly different way, on the way back, it’s cleaving slightly less closely to the nCn. At this place, at this case, few different countries, it’s still the same sort of route, but get so you’ve got a different experience on the way in and out. What you could also do is just click once or type of place wants to set your start point, and the little green point will show up, that’s your start, and then click suggest a ride. And if I do that, then it’s got three circular routes that have come out, come up, or from childfree, or around 25 Miles 1921 27, in this case, and they are round trip routes, which will again try and stick to country lanes and quiet roads. If I want to go for something a bit longer than there’s a slider, I can drag a drag it up to 75 miles. And it’s now sending me off into the Northampton countryside or off into the high Cotswolds and that sort of thing. And it’s found me a nice circular route for that. And that this was quite fun because I used to do this and I think it had a maximum of 75 miles. And I mentioned this to Jack first. And then he said, Oh, no, no, no, you’ve got to take it up to 200. So we can do the audax thing. So you can now take it up to 250 miles, and it will do your reading my readymade or tax that is for people who are harder than me, but it will do that if you want to. So there you go. That’s the that’s the whistlestop tour of the desktop website. If you set up an account, obviously, or free, if you set up an account on the website, then you can save your routes, you can put them in folders, all of that sort of thing. And the reason I mentioned that you can save your routes is that this then becomes useful if you have the mobile app. Now the mobile app, as you say, there is an app for the iPhone, there is one which is literally now in the last days of testing for Android. So this should be ready in the next few days, it may even be ready by the time podcast is edited, which you’ll see. And I’ve had supporters testing that for the last few months. And effectively, you can use the app either as simple ATB routing tool, so you can fire it up and say, I want to go from my current location to somewhere else. And so I’m gonna be here, Banbury, again, type that autocompletes in the app and navigate to bhambri. And it has found me a route from here to battery, that’s fine. But what you can also do is you can use it to navigate along the routes that you have saved from the website. So if I click the little routes icon in the app, then I’ve got all my folders here, let’s say what I’m gonna do, I plotted a nice circuit around Oxfordshire a few weeks back, I’m gonna click that. And that all appears on here. And it gives you turn by turn directions. So you can just put it on the handlebars, and it will say, okay, in how many metres you’ve got a turn coming up. So it says, Turn right here. And do that just the map follows you along. All of that, and, and nicely to fun detail about this on the iPhone app is that I I’ve got the app done. And I was pleased with it. I thought you know, okay, this is this is good. I can, I can have my cycling quality with this. So a couple of months after I finished the app, I went off for a holiday and I went and cycled the New River Seine recycled route from Paris to the coast. And it was brilliant. And literally the first time I used it in a French town, it started seeing turn left along Casey de la Republique way. And I thought, okay, I mean, I know my French is not brilliant, but that is the worst French pronunciation I’ve ever heard. And it’s because the phone has its own native language. And it reads everything out in that. So I spent a whole bunch of time trying to coax the phone, to work out what the native language was for the street name, and to get it to read things out in that. So now if you take the cycle travel app, and you go to France, and it will tell you turn left on then it switches into a French voice plus de la Republique, and so on. So it’s got all of these little tweaks that are meant to give you a more enjoyable cycling experience. A lot of the stuff from the website is also in the app so you can find accommodation, you can switch between the different route types as well. What you can also do in both the app and the website is that you can switch between between different base maps. So cycle travel has its own base map. As I say, I’ve got a bit of a sort of self taught cartography background so I designed something which I thought was appropriate for cycling so it brings in minor roads when you’re zoomed out a lot because that’s the important thing. You can’t see motorways,

Carlton Reid 44:35
so I’m not I’m basically looking at the map here. It’s like all weather motorways. Yes, I can if I if I click it and I can just about see them but they’re not they’re not prominent. Know Exactly,

Richard Fairhurst 44:45
exactly. It’s it’s trying to show you the stuff this is important. A cyclist but you can also choose a bunch of different base maps. So you get a few standard so there’s things like sort of obviously open street Heat Maps standard style, and a few others. But quite quite a lot of these are things that you get as a nice little bonus, nice little bobble, if you’re recycled travel support. So you get Ordnance Survey maps, because everyone loves Ordnance Survey maps, you get the equivalent in other countries. So you get IGN in France, you get things like open cycle map, a bit of satellite mapping all of that. And I find that particularly useful for the Ordnance Survey maps, because if I’m planning off road routes, then OSM doesn’t as yet have completely full coverage of vital ways. And by waste and things like that. It’s getting there, it’s getting much better. But for absolute completeness, you need Ordnance Survey. So I was the other day trying to trace out to the new cycling UK Snowdonia route. And there were a few tracks in that that hadn’t made its way into OpenStreetMap yet, so we’re gonna have a look at Oh, s Oh, yeah, go around the site of this mountain. And through that beautiful restrict an Ordnance Survey

Carlton Reid 45:55
that one of the benefits for tourists, to me as a Roman road geek would be, it tells you all the Roman road stuff. And it tells you this is a church and this is whereas OpenStreetMap, you know, doesn’t doesn’t have bound from it unless there’s a layer. I mean, you can certainly put layers on, but not like something that is there as a default, whereas Ordnance Survey has that benefit. And so but that’s basically what you’re saying is you’ve got it there. Yeah. If you become a supporter, you’ve got it there. And the benefit of the Ordnance Survey is there should you choose to go and get it?

Richard Fairhurst 46:32
Absolutely. And you know, lots of us have grown up with Ordnance Survey maps, they are evocative you, if you’ve spent, you know, your life reading our West maps, you don’t have to read them. They they kind of define the countryside in a lot of ways. And you’re just over to a part of Herefordshire and you look at this, and you can just see the image in your mind. And here we go. We’ve got Wellington marsh and answer bank and 118 foot spot height, metre spot height, that sort of thing. I think yeah, this is the definitive countryside map. And so I like being able to combine cycle travels routing

Carlton Reid 47:03
with so it’s already you’ve sold me, you’ve sold me on your project, how much do I pay

Richard Fairhurst 47:10
as much as you like?

Carlton Reid 47:10
I mean, I think the

Richard Fairhurst 47:12
standard thing that I say here is that you can support it as coffee or cake or beer, which are, you know, three classic cycling foods. And so the equivalent of buying me a coffee every month is two pounds, the equivalent of buying me a slice of cake every month is four pound 50 The equivalent of buying a pint of beer each month, well, you know, I live near Oxford, so it’s very, it’s that sort of thing. And I am, I am 100% comfortable with whatever feels good for you. If you want, if you want to support it for two pounds a month, that is absolutely brilliant. If you’ve had a terrific holiday with cycle travel, and maybe you want to give a bit more for a month or two, that’s fine. But you know, I’m I am honestly honoured by the by what people say about the site and how it has found them to have found good compensates for people. So whatever you feel comfortable with.

Carlton Reid 48:05
So you’re talking about people there. So you have a community on the site. So But basically, it’s not just you contributing advice, information, maybe even brickbat. So tell me about the community aspect of upcycle travel.

Richard Fairhurst 48:24
So I have, for example, a forum on cycle travel, just a substantive web forum where people can give feedback and suggestions. There’s also a place where you can post travelogue so if you’ve been for a ride, and you want to say a bit about it, upload a few photos, then there’s a place for you to do that. And I’m going to be building more on that in the next year. But what I also try and do is engage and support in other forums, other locations. So for example, on the cycling UK forum, there is now I think, 100 Page thread, which is all about cycle travel. And it started off with someone saying, Hey, I’ve just discovered this, and it found me a good route. And then as people have got into it, they have said, okay, yeah, it’s done this, or why did it send me that way? Or Could I could I maybe have this extra feature? So I’ve tried to, you know, interact with the community, wherever they may be, and have it have the app and the site evolve along with that. And to a certain extent now I think, you know, cycle travel is kind of the pet rooting app of the cycling UK forum, for example, because so many people there have said, Oh, this is great, but wouldn’t it be good if he could just do this? I think yeah, okay. I can make it do that. And it is very much meant to be that it’s meant to be something that reflects the way that this sort of this sort of cyclist enjoys riding. I’m not going to start developing stuff for the Strava crowd because it’s not meant to do that. It’s not meant to be about performance or athleticism. I think the Strava for that they do it much better than I ever would. But for tourists and for leisure riders and for people who like quiet routes to cities, all of that, then you know, I try to engage with people get their ideas, because I don’t have a monopoly on good ideas. There’s so much more that you get if you going out talking to people

Carlton Reid 50:17
where you’ve got a new supporter. So how quickly can how easy was that? And while you’re chatting there, the iPhone has done it because all like linked, and I’ve had to go across my bank, and okay, it, but you now have a new monthly supporter, you’ve sold a nice, terrific, thank you. So I will be using it, obviously, I think what you know where it sold me was the Ordnance Survey part. That’s the first example Hang on. You mean I can mean I pay for Ordnance Survey. So I’ve got it on ViewRanger. And so I can do some of what you’re you’re you’re you’re doing that. But it’s got to prove myself. I mean, a lot of the time, I will probably do this myself. So I will just sit there plotting between, you know, the point, I want to go and see it, then I’ll spew that out. And I’ll put it into probably into a into a garden or something. Or in fact to be a beeline, I’ll probably hook it up with a beeline and just send the GPS and then it just sends me that. But then at other times, it’s like, well, I don’t know really where I go. I want somebody to come like hold my hand and show me where to go. So the fact that I can put our lesson as the map that sold me, brilliant. Obviously, I like OpenStreetMap. I love it. But you’re right in what you were saying in that it’s almost that the countryside in a Brit mind is probably a nonland server, it’s certainly a Brit of a certain age is probably ordinances surveys is how you visualise it’s almost when you go abroad as well. Why can’t I have Ordnance Survey everywhere?

Richard Fairhurst 51:56
Oh, I know, I know. And one of the things that I would love to be able to do, and this is sort of, we all have our ambitions, but I would love to be able to make cycle travels own mapping that good for the rest of the world. So that if you are going siting in, particularly the state, the state of mapping in the States is quite, quite something. And you know, I have spent a lot of time trying to fine tune cycle travels, routing in the US because it is a really difficult problem to solve. But yeah, you know, everyone deserves good maps.

Carlton Reid 52:30
Well, there you go, I’ve now I’ve plotted a route where it’s just basically it’s just gone to obviously my home location. And I just switch the map across dead easy. And there is oh, look, there it is, in that that’s that my mind map is literally my mind map is probably a non survey. But you know, if I would then switch across to another map, because you’re not going to use one map, you know, we are we are now we’ve got richness of maps. So you will probably then go that or visualise that as but you wouldn’t use that as turned by turn, whereas OpenStreetMap is better for turn by turn. Yeah, then because it works to a certain scale. And then it gets to a you know, unless you’re you know, you’re getting the the building, you know, version of Ordnance Survey, which you’re not got, you’ve got down to 25,000 They’re having a rather, you don’t go any further than 25,000 That makes no right. You know, you’re 25,000 So you kind of that’s something that is is perfect for a certain visualisation and then I’ll probably switch across. Yeah, absolutely. Um, factual writing, I wouldn’t use it.

Richard Fairhurst 53:33
No, I agree. It’s it’s good as as planning map and then the inspiration map. And it was also it was one of these things is actually getting Ordnance Survey mapping into the iPhone app was stratospherically difficult, because I won’t go too much into the technical aspects of these things. But as you know, Ordnance Survey uses eastings and northings. That’s how a grid reference works. It has this lovely kilometre square grid, pretty much every other map in the rest of the world. I’m simplifying hugely here. But pretty much every other map in the rest of the world uses latitude and longitude. And that means that the mapping software is written to think latitude and longitude. So when you’re trying to shoehorn Ordnance Survey maps into something that was made for OpenStreetMap but style mapping, the amount of maths you have to do to get that to work is colossal. And recycled travel has got you know, probably about 200 lines of code, which is all about doing the conversion to an easting and northing and latitude and longitude. I had to sit down after doing all of that and give myself a bit of a break because it was pretty intense, but it was worth it. Mm hmm.

Carlton Reid 54:44
Well, you now have a new supporter. And I shall be using that

Richard Fairhurst 54:51
pop up on the forum and on cycling UK federal or drop me a line on Twitter and say okay, I’ve started using it. I would like it to do that. is or why doesn’t it do this? Because that’s the feedback that makes it better and I’d love to hear that. Okay, I shall do and in the meantime though,

Carlton Reid 55:07
I’ve been fascinated by your enthusiasm this is absolutely shone through people listening to this world will obviously will understand why they should become a supporter because you clearly incredibly enthusiastic about this. And thank you for talking me through how to use it because that was also eye opening that’s that that was going when I when when you were talking, I then flicked it between when it was on the London to John O’Groats, and then flicked it through to nighttime gravel is like, Oh, well, that’s, that’s quite key. I definitely like the nighttime version. That’s like that’s, that’s really, really sensible. bit of advice, you got there to improve that. But, um, cycle dot travel is obviously where you get the, the website, and then you can go and get the app, etc, including, very soon, as you said, an Android app. How about you, Richard? So where can people find you on social media? And we’ll wrap up with, with with where we can find you on social media.

Richard Fairhurst 56:12
Okay, so on Twitter, I am Richard F. Or there’s also a cycle traveller account, which is cycle underscore travel. There’s cycle travel on Facebook as well. You can search for that. And as I say, I’m I pop up on the various forums, so cycling UK, Reddit, that sort of thing, cycle chat. So you can usually flag me down there and say, hey, get your site to do this. And this is an international podcast. So you have talked about this just a wee bit. But cycletrack This is not a British site, you can do stuff if you are a world traveller. Absolutely. So at the moment it does. Britain and Europe. It does the Northern America. So that’s the US, Canada and Mexico. And it does Australia and New Zealand, I very much adaptive routing to each individual country, that our roads are different the world over. Paths, cycling infrastructure is different the world over. So there are subtly different things in for example, the US routing or the French routing from the British routing. And you can use it to find a route from DAPP to the tip of the boot initially, you can use it to find a route from New York to San Francisco, and people do so have a play around.

Carlton Reid 57:32
Thanks to Richard Fairhurst there. And thanks to you for listening to Episode 337 of the spokesmen podcast brought to you in association with Tern bicycles, show notes at and more can be found at Episode 338 is a chat with the Chief Operations Officer at bikemap, and it’s available for your downloading pleasure right now. But meanwhile, get out there and ride …

August 10, 2023 / / Blog

10th August 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 336: ‘We’re crazy about human bikes’: Mike Sinyard on e-bikes, the new Tarmac SL8 and more

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Mike Sinyard and Ben Edwards

TOPICS: Interview with Specialized founder and chairman Mike Sinyard at the UCI World Cycling Championships, Glasgow.

Video snippet of this interview on YouTube


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 336 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered Thursday 10th August 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit www. That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:04
I recorded today’s show in Glasgow at the UCI world cycling championships. I’m Carlton Reid, and as well as a 50 kilometre hilly bike ride on the all new S-Works Tarmac SL8 road bike, I got a chance to talk with Specialized founder and today’s chairman, Mike Sinyard and the company’s global marketing lead Ben Edwards. You have a very very nice bike. Yeah, here. Yeah, you’re not here just to launch the bike. There’s a kind of a nice event happen. Event. Many, many events just happening outside here. So you’ve been to quite a few of the world championship events?

Mike Sinyard 1:48
Yeah. Through the through the years there this year coming on 50 years for specialized. Wow, it’s a long time. Yeah. No, but this is quite beautiful to have the super worlds, you know, and everything. Yeah, the events here at one time is is quite special. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 2:06
Yeah. That’s cool. We’ve been to Glasgow before. No, no, no. Scotland has been to Scotland before. For various championships down the years and stuff.

Mike Sinyard 2:16
No, I haven’t really known for different championships. No.

Carlton Reid 2:20
So the bike that you’ve you’ve you’ve launching? Yes. Here. The people writing it in these events? Or why why launch it just because tonnes of bike media, tonnes of bike people out? Why are you? Why here? Well.

Mike Sinyard 2:37
So we’ve been working on this bike, we say this is everything we know for 50 years. And although it doesn’t look that exotic it is, it really is. The sum of everything that we’ve done with this bike is very, very special.

Carlton Reid 2:55
So that that that I know you were going to call the snot rocket at some at one point. It’s good not to be that it’s not rocket. But that is quite a bulbous nose. You’ve got there, Mike,

Mike Sinyard 3:07
we call that. The nose. Speed. Speed sniffer?

Mike Sinyard 3:13
Yeah, yeah, we

Mike Sinyard 3:14
thought that was good,

Carlton Reid 3:15
better. That’s not rocket I definitely agree. So is that is that because I also read that almost 50% of the arrow savings are coming from the handlebars. So it’s what’s what’s happening here is the handle, right?

Mike Sinyard 3:28
Ben knows more of the detail than I do.

Ben Edwards 3:30
Right? When it comes down to is after, you know, like Mike said, you know, decades of development. And you know, now we’ve been in a wind tunnel for a decade, the aero understanding of the team is, is incredible. And they’ve really identified that look, we need to attack the leading edge of this bike in a brand new way. That’s at the leading edge in a way we haven’t seen before. And attacking the leading edge like that, whether it’s the bars, the head to the fork blades, gave them incredible opportunity in the rear of the bike, to work on lightweight ride quality, to bring all of those features together in a way that has never been done before. So really, when you look at the aero of the bike, it’s really about attacking the aero where it truly matters. And then everywhere else, we’ll work on that ride quality, that lightweight. And that’s how that combination comes together.

Carlton Reid 4:15
That’s Specialized global marketing lead Ben Edwards there. And you can see him Mike and me in a video of part of this interview that I’ve embedded on the show notes page on But now back to Glasgow, and then you’ve had your gender neutral stance for two years, more than two years. But beyond gender. Yeah, much more than two years, more than two years. Yeah. So this is a bike that this is not going to be shrink it and pink is a different version. This is gonna be the same for women.

Mike Sinyard 4:48
And we discovered I think it was like, five years or six years. Oh, sorry. Yeah. And, in fact, when we you know, we have all the retrieval data and we had all this data from the different writers And we’ve and we really found that there was, sometimes there was more difference between two men, in some cases than a man and a woman. And the same thing out, we’re taking that analysis also on the shoes, so it was like, but in areas that really make a difference under saddles and other areas, then we really go deep. But we didn’t want to try to create a difference where there wasn’t a difference.

Carlton Reid 5:27
That kind of makes sense. But yeah, and it has less SKUs as well.

Mike Sinyard 5:30
You kind of like, well, yeah, and it was just more logical a lot of times that when we’re saying, hey, I want to ride the regular, the regular tarmac instead of the So, so it was kind of like one of those aha moments.

Carlton Reid 5:44
So that’s an exotic beast. And is that the one I’m riding tomorrow? Or is it what are we riding tomorrow? So what are we riding that tomorrow? So that’s an exotic English money. That’s 12,000 pounds. So it’s an expensive beast?

Ben Edwards 5:57
That’s one’s Remco’s. So you’re not riding that one.

Carlton Reid 5:59
Not that particular one. No.

Mike Sinyard 6:01
But yet, what is cool is like, you know, the one that we sell is the same one. Yes, yes. That you buy, right. It’s very, very special.

Carlton Reid 6:11
And the bikes, we’re gonna be riding tomorrow and the course we’re on. Fantastic that we are riding such exotic, beautiful 12,000 pound machines. But anybody out there who hasn’t got 12,000 pounds to spend the technology on here is on the other layers of bike as well, the other iterations but not the handlebars. Is that right? Is that handlebars is on the top.

Ben Edwards 6:36
You can get the handlebars on the top two levels of bike. Right? So yeah, we do bring the handlebars down. But when you look at the frame set itself, that same technology, so if you buy an expert level mic, you’re gonna have the exact same type of ride quality type of field stiffness, the arrow Evander the frames that you get out of that $4,000 is worse. It is a different carbon.

Mike Sinyard 6:57
Yeah, the layup the material of the carbon and the layup is a lower level.

Ben Edwards 7:02
I think what’s what’s so impressive about it, though, is this bikes frame was 685 grammes, right, which makes it the lightest frame on the World Tour. You look at the fact that 10R carbon, which is that next level down that lower level bike, that weighs only 100 grammes more, which still makes it potentially the second or third lightest bike.

Carlton Reid 7:22
And Ben much is that?

Ben Edwards 7:24
So we can get you all the presses and sell sheets? Everything. So you have all those details? really accurate based on the latest news?

Carlton Reid 7:33
Okay, it’s frightening the way that you said that it’s dollar dollar pound parody. That’s quite frightening. But normally we’d like almost half, you know, when you say don’t use could be, it used to be anyway, that’s, that’s our economic problems, not yours. So when when I was with you in Morgan Hill in 2015, one of the questions I know I asked was about how much of your company will become an electric bike company? And I probably said in 510 years. And I’d have to go back and actually see with my notes and see what you said there. But has that accelerated faster than you thought? Or you think it’s the same? The kind of the trajectory is what you maybe thought in 2015? Where we’d have a as a global bike industry where we’d have a bikes today?

Mike Sinyard 8:23
Yeah, good point, I would say it’s definitely accelerated. It’s accelerated more than we thought. And I would say, because the acceptance on two fronts on a one day enthusiast Bronto going, that’s really cool. And it’s not pedestrian or this not because I’m a weak writer, it’s even cooler. Right, on that side. And then I think, on the other side, a lot of people that maybe weren’t writers who are hadn’t written for a long time, come in. And so it’s kind of made made it easier for cycling, to really be social. You know, I mean, it’s a pretty tough sport, right? It’s all about, you know, dropping people and things like that. But it’s like, with, with the electric, hey, everybody can have fun, and you can determine how much you want to work. Right. And so I think it was just made, like years ago, when the mountain bike came out, I, I would say the beautiful thing about the mountain bike is everybody was invited in young kids, middle aged kids, or kids, you know, whatever. And it was like, it wasn’t who was the fastest it was who had the most fun. So it really made the activity of cycling much greater. Whereas the road thing historically was a little bit too narrow. So so for that reason, and I think just the fun of it, and people realise As in, hey, I can get around quickly on the bike. And I can still get a lot of workout. I mean, there’s so many people I know they’ve got one of our limos or one of those other bikes, and they go, she’s you know, I’ve lost 1010 kilos, you know, just from riding this bike, and I feel great. So now beautiful

Carlton Reid 10:20
bikes. I’ve had one on test. Thank you.

Mike Sinyard 10:22
So it’s, it’s great. I think from that standpoint, I would say it’s gonna continue to go.

Carlton Reid 10:28
So you’re known for these bikes here. Of course, the alternative to E bikes. So how, what’s the proportion between specialized e bikes and specialized road? Or just any other bike? That isn’t electric?

Mike Sinyard 10:40
Yeah. You mean as far as the business? Yeah, I would say it’s, it’s getting to be about a little less than half the electric. Okay. Yeah. In the business.

Carlton Reid 10:53
So other companies are definitely almost 60% 70% Yeah, they are going bad. Do you? Do you see, specialized Yeah,

Mike Sinyard 11:00
I see is going there. And, and but I would say this part. We call it the, the muscular bikes. This one guy in Latin America, he calls it the human likes to laugh. Sometimes we joke in the US that these are the Amish bikes. But I would say they were always known for this. Right. And the mountain bikes as well. So we, we keep going with that. So

Carlton Reid 11:29
to 50 is pretty good. I must go back to my notes from I should have done this before I can just as find out what you said back then.

Mike Sinyard 11:36
I don’t put much No, you probably

Carlton Reid 11:38
thought it might last

Mike Sinyard 11:39
No. adoption has been really good. And and I would say the people that came in with the electric, I would say we brought new people into the activity, for sure.

Carlton Reid 11:53
Because I’m a historian. So I’m a historian of cycling in the 1890s, early 1900s When all of those bike companies actually morphed into either motorbike companies, or an awful lot of them, like dodge or Chrysler, they all became car companies. So the bike became a car. And it’s very, you can you can imagine the Segway of a bike becoming a motorbike quite easily. But oh, yeah.

Mike Sinyard 12:19
Well, Honda is a car. Example. Yeah, Euro Honda, right? Yeah.

Carlton Reid 12:25
So my question would have been then, would have been probably the same would have been? Can you ever imagine a time where specialised is almost like Harley Davidson? In that it only motorised bicycles? Do you think there’s always going to be a space for the human bicycle in specialised? Because there are all those bike companies that were bike companies 100% within 2030 years, you know, we’re, we’re motorbike companies, right? Could the same happen to specialised?

Mike Sinyard 12:58
No, one no. Because we’re too crazy about this part of it. And, and, in fact, you know, it’s funny when you’re a peddler like you are. And then you get on, like, a vivo or a creo. You appreciate it even more. Right? Because, you know, you know, it’s kind of like, that’s why we say it’s you only faster, right? So the appreciation is you and then the extra. So I would say for us. No, no, we’re always going to be with with the human bikes.

Carlton Reid 13:37
Yeah, but it is gonna get smaller.

Mike Sinyard 13:41
Yeah, yeah, I think so I think certain of the segment like the road bike and the mountain bike, and there’s this, as you know, there’s a certain purity to that this really enjoyable, right?

Carlton Reid 13:55
I’m gonna cut in there for a quick commercial break. And I’m gonna take you across to my colleague, David.

David Bernstein 14:01
Hello, everyone. This is David from the Fredcast and of course, the spokesmen. And I’m here once again to tell you that this podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern build bikes that make it easier for you to replace car trips with bike trips. Part of that is being committed to designing useful bikes that are also fun to ride. But an even greater priority for Tern is to make sure that your ride is safe and worryfree and that’s why Tern works with industry leading third party testing labs like E FB, E, and builds it bikes around Bosch ebike systems which are UL certified for both electric and fire safety. So before you even zip off on your Tern, fully loaded, and perhaps with a loved one behind, you can be sure that the bike has been tested to handle the extra stresses on the frame and the rigours of the road. For more information, visit to learn more. And now, back to the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 15:10
Thanks, David. And we are back in Glasgow, with Mike Sinyard and a little bit of Ben Edwards. And we had a the industry had a good COVID in that we sold a whole tonne of bikes, kind of it was pretty well expected that it probably wouldn’t last and we would have this major falling off a cliff, which we did. Where are we now? Are we are we climbing back up that cliff? And we have we suffered so much from that glut of inventory? Van? It’s it’s even a take a few years from now. Where do you see the industry as a whole? Not just specialized? Yeah. Where do you see the industry right now?

Mike Sinyard 15:47
Well, I would say, yeah, it was like, You know what I loved about, I guess you’d say the good thing about the COVID, right. In some ways, it brought people back to the regular to their values of the family, in the home. And whenever there’s a lot of stress in the world, a lot of time people returned to the bicycle. And even sometime when there’s like, in different parts of the worlds, there’s a lot of layoffs like a Silicon Valley, everybody laid off. Well guess what? Bikes, people riding their bikes like crazy. And I think we saw that during COVID. And so I think there’s a lot more cyclists out there. Now, I would say, okay, it went up a little bit, it went up a lot, and nobody can keep up. But I would say, Did it come, it hasn’t come back to the lower level that it did before, is still higher.

Carlton Reid 16:46
Right? Because you founded your company. When the bike boom was based that the 70s Bike boom was pretty much finished. It was it was in the death throes when you wrote when you found your company. So you’ve been through an enormous amount

Mike Sinyard 17:00
of everything seemed like an improvement.

Carlton Reid 17:03
We think there’s enough people kind of came along like Cannondale was at the same time track obviously was rough at the same time. So those companies came about an angular eight Schwinn’s breakfast eventually. But they came about because of the boom, and then stuck around, do you think the similar is going to happen in that the industry will kind of catch up and stay at a higher level than pre COVID?

Mike Sinyard 17:29
Yes, I think it is, I think it is already to a higher level, it definitely is for us at that higher level. And I think it’ll maintain there. And but probably not for all, as you read, there’s been a lot of people leaving, you know, because of this because of the crunch. But I think long term, or even this year, and next year,

Carlton Reid 17:56
is better given there are too many brands, do you think there are too many brands?

Mike Sinyard 18:01
Well, that’s for the consumer to design? Yeah, it seems like seemed like a lot. But you know, there’s all kinds of flavour for different people and and I think cycling, you think about all the forces coming together, right? environmental things. And for sure, the the thing of people wanting to express themselves and, and feel free riding the bike. And then people, I think we’re ended up with so many lifetimes, cyclists now. Really believe that, and the ebike is adding to that the momentum continues that way. And

Carlton Reid 18:48
as you mentioned, environmental there. So that was one of my questions now would have been, where do you see the bicycle in a climate change? In a world of climate change? Do you see that as a growth area? Or do you still see it’s going to be health? Where’s where’s the future growth going to come from? Do you think there’ll be any boost from the growing awareness of climate change? And maybe how we should be getting around in by different means?

Mike Sinyard 19:14
Well, I think we already see it. And I think there will be even more in the future. And for people living in the city, whether they’re doing it for climate benefit, as just practical, you can get around, whereas in the car, you’re stuck, you know, maybe take you hour and on the bike and take you 15 minutes and you feel better. And I believe that more you know, we have the outride that we’ve been working on and and started 11 years ago with Harvard Medical and now working with Stanford and all these students we have 50,000 kids go through. So I would say we have proved that. The kid And, and the research has proven as a fact, not a hypothesis, but a fact that how cycling lights up your brain, we even have that device, right? The device, the helmet device, and you can see like a person, you know, before and after enduring. And it’s a fact, right. And it’s just opening it up. And so you know, as we say pedals, pedals, not pills, sometimes these characters need to get out and ride and in light up their brains. And so we prove that that works. That is a fact. And I’m proud of that. And it’s not about specialising in the bike industry is a much bigger thing. But that was the thing I wanted to happen is just to prove it, to where at some point, even your next door neighbour will know that that is a fact.

Carlton Reid 21:02
And where does gravel fit in for you?

Mike Sinyard 21:05
Yeah, gravel? Well, I think it’s it’s a wonderful thing. Being able to hear you think about gravel and it’s like, I think the road bikes even all the road bikes are gravitating. One thing I wanted to mention about the outright. It here’s another thing is in the world, you know, the thing for Ageing adults with dementia, that one of the things we believe, and we believe that we can improve that even more impact for Ageing adults, in staving keeping off their dementia, from lighting up the brain, where we’re sure that in some of the early research shows that right? Because it is a circulatory issue. But you know, and then you talk about gravel? Well, I think the idea of the of the bigger tire, like the writing your son is doing or whatever. It just makes sense, right? Going into gravel, you know, you hear a car behind you, you pull over keep riding on the dirt. I think it’s just it’s the way to go. Right?

Carlton Reid 22:18
I’m assuming that you’re still doing your lunchtime rides, you’re still going out? Are you going on a gravel bike? Are you going on a road bike? Do you mix it up?

Mike Sinyard 22:27
Well, where we live is more on the on the road bike. But most of the riding I do now is off road, on the mountain bike or like on or diverge or something like that a lot?

Carlton Reid 22:40
And then have you? Are you part of the design process? Do you do you put input in or you like,

Mike Sinyard 22:46
I like I like to taste it? On some things? I’m not to the level to communicate about this, but I definitely I can feel the difference of things. Yeah, so yeah.

Carlton Reid 23:07
What do you ride? Do you kind of get a brand new bike all the time, I’m gonna do something new.

Mike Sinyard 23:14
I always like riding with different people. So so. So I’ll ride the epic go off in the, in the woods, right in epic, or some time we have a bigger group from this one house that I have. So we’ll all go out on Levos so everybody’s equal. I love riding Diverge.

Carlton Reid 23:34
It’s happening. I got a favourite bike from the 1990s or something that fits you and it’s just you know, what bike? Would you always go out on the latest iteration the latest model that you’ve got? Or would you

Carlton Reid 23:49
go to ride the new one.

Mike Sinyard 23:52
And then, and then I realise you then I can feel the difference of the new one. And then I still liked the old one. So I ended up keeping it. But the difference is a lot. And then you look at the old bicycle. That’s good. And then you ride it and go

Carlton Reid 24:09
oh, obviously, bike industry people or any product people in any sphere, say the latest bike, the latest tin of beans or whatever. That’s the that’s the greatest. But you’re saying here because well, I’m now going to bring us all way back to this bike. So you’re saying that is the one bike and that fits on all the technologies which you’ve been you’ve been premiering over the last 50 years, that it’s all in that one bike. And that’s now what you would say is the ideal bike which then makes begs the question, well, what you’re doing next year and the year after.

Mike Sinyard 24:47
Sometime, that’s when the team does something I go. Now what are we going to do next time to make it that much better? And what I like About this bike is like, also, this could be the race bike. This is the race bike for the top top riders. But also, we just want a great bike. This is the bike. And it’s also because the compliance of the bike, I always like a bike with a lot of compliance, because I like going for the long rides. And I like the feel of the bike, you know, to be like, I like bigger tires and that feeling. I don’t like it like too sharp like that. I like the feel. And like, that’s why I like riding the crux a lot. And writing in that in the dirt. I almost feel like it has a certain suspension with the with the frame. Yeah,

Carlton Reid 25:48
just based on my question that on like, almost on the iPhone, like the the new iPhone is coming out next month. But you know, for a fact that the engineers, you know, in two years time have got this even better. iPhone, so they come on the stage. This is remember had,

Mike Sinyard 26:04
Is 15th? That’s going out?

Carlton Reid 26:06
Yeah, and they’ve got to say, well, actually, in their heads, they must know if we’ve got even better, you know, iPhone coming out next year. And how do you sell that? Yeah. What is like, the progression can you make in the bike?

Mike Sinyard 26:19
Well, you know, what, is always the question, right? And as soon as you get it, you get that down, you’re thinking? Well, you know, there’s always material advancements, and other things and other ways of testing. And it’s like, you kind of make it a bike like that is like Formula One, if you ever read about that, you know, like we work with McLaren before, and just like, every little thing, everything, every little, tiniest thing, and all those little things added up makes a big difference, right? You know, sometimes, like the team will do something new on the tire with the compound, or the or the other things and you go, Oh my gosh, is you can what I love is when you can be right it and you can feel it. And you go God, how’d you do that? Well, it wasn’t one thing. It was maybe a couple of 100 things that adds up together as a tanky. Right. I always liked that like Formula One. I’m not really a fan, but I liked the process of like a car crashes and they bring all those parts back and they look at this and every you know, like McLaren when Dennison was there doing that it was like that’s a it’s a way of thinking. Right? That that we apply into something like this.

Carlton Reid 27:44
Thanks to Mike Sinyard there and a little bit of Ben Edwards too. And thanks to you for listening to Episode 336 of the spokesmen podcast brought to you in association with Tern bicycles. Show notes, and more can be found at The next episode will be a traffic counting special out later this month. But meanwhile, get out there and ride …

July 17, 2023 / / Blog

17th July 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 335: The Potential for Cargo Bikes

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Patrick Rérat and Virginie Lurkin, HEC Lausanne, at the University of Lausanne

TOPIC: The Potential for Cargo Bikes report


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 335 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Monday 17th of July 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider: whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:02
On today’s show, I’m discussing cargo bikes with a couple of Swiss academics revealing findings from their new study. I’m Carlton Reid and I’m joined by Patrick Rérat and Virginie Lurkin from HEC Lausanne at the University of Lausanne. They are two of the three researchers behind the Potential for Cargo Bikes report. While it’s a Swiss study, it has relevance for other countries. Virginie and Patrick, maybe Virginie first, could you just describe what you do at the University of Lausanne?

Virginie Lurkin 1:41
Yes, sure. So I’m a professor of mainly mobility and logistics. So within the HEC, the Business School of University of Lausanne, and I’m working within the operation department, mainly using quantitative methods to do so.

Carlton Reid 1:58
And and Patrick. So what do you do also at the University of Lausanne,

Patrick Rérat 2:02
So I’m a professor of geography of mobilities and a co director of the OUVEMA (Observatory for Cycling and Active Mobilities) which is the academic observatory for cycling and active mobilities.

Carlton Reid 2:14
And I’ve looked on on either his website and scientific committee of 18, professors geography, history, law, medicine, operation management, political science, psychology, public health, sociology, tourism, and, and even more, because then, etc, there. So that’s an incredible spread of specialities.

Patrick Rérat 2:34
Yeah, we founded the OUVEMA, two, three years ago, and a lot of colleagues were interested in the project. So we aim to foster interdisciplinarity research, and to work together to make all these people work together. And maybe if I can say a few words about the Obama, we are not only a research centre, but we want to be close links with the civil society. We organise webinars, we communicate around our research, we try to co design research project with advocates, for example. Okay,

Carlton Reid 3:10
and it’s would I be right in thinking an awful lot of it is behaviour change. So getting people to actually start to increase their walking and cycling and other active modes?

Patrick Rérat 3:23
Yeah, that has been the main focus. We have other subjects, like policies planning and health, but behaviour change has been the major focus lately, this project on target bikes,

Carlton Reid 3:37
and how much and because walking often gets to be the poor relation in mobility research. So all in just in political discourse, in general, and it’s cycling takes the lion’s share. So how big is walking it compared to cycling in Obama?

Patrick Rérat 4:02
When OUVEMA is a bottom up approach, so it depends also on the people who are part of it. And it depends also on on funding. So now, I would say that the majority of research, address cycling, but we have, for example, a PhD student working on public space and the diversity on public space.

Carlton Reid 4:22
Okay. And I’d like to ask both before we get into the paper you’ve got which is the potential of cargo bikes before we get into that. I would like to ask both of you, I’ll start with Virginie on this one. And that is academics who are involved in something like this, which is almost advocacy you’re almost promoting something and that’s not You’re not being like I’m trying to be very delicate here. So you’re not trying to be a like a dispassionate academic here, even though you’re I’m sure your academic work is, but you’re also partially an advocate. So how do you square that circle of being a researcher? But at the same time, if you’re if you’re trying to affect behaviour change that is advocating for something. How do you how do you meet those two?

Virginie Lurkin 5:15
Interesting question. I think it’s a challenge, right? Because as a researcher, I don’t think the first let’s say mission is to advocate but more to get to model more knowledge, and more insights and solutions to current problems. Being professor and so we third true in transportation, of course, it’s directly related to also society, right. I mean, we, we do research on transportation, and then of course, on how to make it more sustainable given the current challenges that the world is facing. So personally, I think it’s, it’s it if you do good research, and you communicate about it in a way that also it reaches society, then of course, you advocate for it, right. So then there is also I do believe in the power of whole model. So I’m trying as much as possible to, to adopt myself what, what I think helps. But it’s, of course, not always easy. But so I would say this right, by, by talking about it, also trying to have impact in research, and not only academic publications, but also communicate about the topic in the news and so on, I think it helps to advocate.

Carlton Reid 6:39
And Patrick, how do you square that circle?

Patrick Rérat 6:44
Well, I don’t consider myself as an advocate, or as an activist, then, of course, a researcher is not neutral. I mean, if I’m interested in cargo bikes, it’s also because for me, I want you to know, if it’s a it has a nice potential to replace cars, for example. But I think that my role as a researcher is to be rigorous, to be transparent on methods on interpretation, and to make my research available. So that’s how I see the my role and the one of the of the Obama

Carlton Reid 7:27
and those people who are maybe opposed to active mobility, people who maybe want to carry on motoring generally, who then say, activist, academics are not independent. What do you say to them?

Virginie Lurkin 7:47
I mean, for me, I agree with Patrick, right, I don’t think we are supposed to be activist. And if we are, it’s more on a personal choice rather than academics, then I think it’s important to do research on the motivation of people, right? Because it’s only by understanding the motivations, for instance, why some people are not willing to use active active modes, then you can better understand the motivation, and then you can better find solutions even for those people with like appropriate policies, or I mean, I don’t believe that there are people against active mobility, I do believe that there are reasons for some people to prefer, like other modes of transport, and so we need to work on making the right alternatives so that they, they go for like active mobility, but I don’t think it’s like, position as such.

Carlton Reid 8:50
Okay, so your paper here. So the potential cargo bikes, first of all, and it is Switzerland, where that you’ve done this survey of 2000, cargo bike owners and users. But is it applicable elsewhere? Do you think that even though it’s a Swiss study, this would be transferable, some of the findings to other global cities?

Patrick Rérat 9:22
When I think it is because it’s not a high second country like the Netherlands, or Denmark. In Dutch cities and Danish cities, we know that cargo bags have been very popular for a long time. In Switzerland, that’s something new. And we have also very big differences between cities and regions in Switzerland, the French speaking part cycle much less than the German speaking one. So I think that we have an intermediate country for cycling, and which makes this case study Interesting. And maybe another interesting point for Switzerland is that we have cargo bikes owners. But we have also a lot of sharers, with a programme at the national scale, tend to compare both public or users. That’s quite interesting.

Carlton Reid 10:19
So you, in the paper, you talk about how safety is one of the determinants, and one of the things that get more people on bikes and cargo bikes is that the safer it is, the more infrastructure is there more likelihood, people will be on bikes of whatever flavour but going slightly backwards, and what you’ve just said there in that, that the French speaking population uses bikes, less than the German speaking population is that in places where there is the same kind of infrastructure, so it literally is a cultural difference, not a concrete tracks difference.

Patrick Rérat 11:03
It really refers to the, to the condition of the cycling condition, and to safety. We did other research projects, and we could show very big differences in terms of perceived safety between the French speaking part and the German speaking part. And why is it so it’s because in the German part, they have taken measures to come down traffic, like 20 kilometres or 30 kilometres zone much earlier than in the French speaking part. And the same for cycling infrastructure. It’s not the same two cycle in the German part than in the French speaking part. But the French speaking part is trying to catch up. And

Carlton Reid 11:53
in your study, you’ve been basically you’ve interviewed 2000 people, how did you get those 2000 people

Virginie Lurkin 12:01
for the first part on their understanding motivation, profile berries, card bye bike owners and sharers, we have a bit less than 1000. And more than 2000 is for the studies on commercial use, but we got them through different division lists. So some like local biking cycling Association, then our own network also, of course,

Carlton Reid 12:32
did you differentiate between electric cargo bikes and old school non electric cargo bikes? So is there anything in the study that that drill down into that?

Virginie Lurkin 12:43
So we asked them if they had the ebike or normal bike, and it appears that almost 90 percent way like were e-cargo bikes? And I think it is, it is it is an important reason why we see this increase in cargo bikes. It’s also because of their electric assistance.

Carlton Reid 13:06
That’s that’s that’s quite a significant statistic. So basically electrifying, but adding assistance, not not not pure. You know, it’s not a motorbike, but adding some assistance clearly has boosted absolutely boosted the take up of cargo bikes. Yes. Yes,

Virginie Lurkin 13:25
definitely. But especially I think in, in cities, like we have in Switzerland, that you have quite some steep streets, right, this is a quite Montaigne landscape. So. So without electrical assistance, I think there would be some street that you cannot see biking cargo bike with, like children or groceries on it. But I think it’s true. It’s true. Also, for like countries like Netherlands that are more flat countries that definitely the boom can also be explained by the development in electrical assistance.

Carlton Reid 14:04
And then cargo bikes can be and one of the first photographs in your study, in fact, is basically the box bikes, which would carry children and then you have cargo bikes that carry cargo and literally carry goods. So are you differentiating between those two things? Because they’re, you know, they’re very, it’s like a car carrying a children and a van carrying goods. They’re two very, very different things. So how did you differentiate those things?

Patrick Rérat 14:37
Well, for ownership of cargo bike, we have mainly families. So we could say that it’s, it’s a family bike. Almost 80% of the respondent, our families and to carry children is an important motivation for them. To carry children to the kindergarten to the nursery. to go shopping or to go for rides, it’s not only motivations, it’s also actual uses. So, when we speak about owning a cargo bike, it’s really mainly referring to some having a family bike. Then when we have cargo bike sharing, it might be between friends or neighbours, or with a specific programme national programme, or in, in, in a company, it’s more or less frequent use, and more related to carrying bulky items. So it’s true that cargo bags it’s quite, it’s not a normal generous practice, we have a private or company practice, you have own ownership or sharing. Hmm.

Carlton Reid 15:57
And then that clearly strong part of your report and something that is often talked about is how owning a cargo bike or sharing a cargo bike reduces car trips. So you think you’ve measured this and you can you can put a finger on on this as long as the environment is okay.

Virginie Lurkin 16:18
I think it’s important to, to say that, I like that you use the word trips, right? I do think the, the idea is to reduce maybe car trips. So let’s say you have a substitution. But what we have seen, I think, for me, one of the main learning is that the substitution is like to own a second car, for instance. So we have quite some respondents who said that by buying a cargo bag, the ring renounced to the idea of buying a second car or even a first car. So that’s quite interesting. So you, of course, also have substitution effects with the other transport modes, but it has indeed potential to reduce either the ownership of a second car or like buying a new car, or like trips that were made by cars.

Patrick Rérat 17:14
And what is difficult to measure actually, is you have trip substitution. But half of the people, half of the households we interviewed are cash free. So they don’t, they don’t own a car. Maybe some of these households decided to sell their car, some decided not to buy one, and some others could go on living without a car, tend to the cargo bag. So the question is whether easy, but the impact of cargo bag, but the answer is quite complex. What we can say as well is that in our sample, half of the households don’t have a car. And if we have a look at Switzerland, it’s only 21%. And if we have a look at families in Switzerland, it’s only 7% or carefree. So we have hints, but not a quantified answer to that.

Carlton Reid 18:18
And have you drilled into the socio economic backgrounds of cargo bike owners and users because I’m not too sure what it’ll be like in Switzerland, but certainly in the UK and in the big cities in Berlin in the US as well. You know, there’s a perception it might not be reality, but there’s only a perception that somebody certainly carrying children on one of these relatively expensive cargo bikes are going to be relatively rich, probably middle class. And yes, we’ll probably have more than one car sitting back at home. So is Have you done any research on who these people are in socio economic terms?

Virginie Lurkin 19:00
Yes, and it’s true, right? So it’s still mainly young adults age between 30 and 50 Mostly family families and high socio economic status. So I think we got like 80 university graduates which is of course not representative of the entire country, and also more people living in your urban suburban area. So I think this is also the case. But so I agree with the first part of your statement right quite privileged people. But but not for the cars. I it doesn’t seem that it’s like household in which day there was a lot of cars.

Carlton Reid 19:50
So that when when, when a poor family will often own a car. It might take a huge part of their budget, but they will own a car for aspirational More reasons, and they tend not to have a cargo bike, perhaps even for the same reasons in that, you know, they they want the car they don’t want a cargo bike because a cargo bike is seen as a bit. Maybe not, you know something that a working class person would use. But do you need to have, this is not so much in this research here, but just in the future do you need the use of cargo bikes are going to have to broaden out to more social classes, because you can’t just have it, you know, small section of the privileged dotting around on cargo bikes, you want to have lots of people, if we’re going to get rid of if we’re going to reduce car use.

Patrick Rérat 20:41
Yes, but it’s still a new phenomenon. And we launched the survey one year ago, and in one year, a lot of things have changed. For example, the rise of of longtail, I don’t know if it’s popular in other countries, but it’s becoming a big thing here in Switzerland. That’s bi x with a new extended rear rack, and you can have like one or two children on it. And it’s two or three years ago, you couldn’t see a single one on the streets. And now it’s quite popular. So it’s still it’s changing quite quickly. And that’s a challenge. Now we have the pioneers, and we have the early adopters of this innovation, the E cargo bag, and how could we extend this practice to other social groups. And I think that there are several measures, it was interesting to see that 15% of the of the households bought a secondhand cargo bag. So if there is a secondhand market, maybe the price will go down, then we still have a niche product. But if it’s if the market is growing, you will have more shops, maybe you could have also a decrease in prices. cities or municipalities could give subsidy, for example, or sharing can be an option. It’s still quite rare, but you have housing cooperatives, for example. And they have one or two cargo bikes for all their members. And that to me, that may be also an ID to follow. And many

Carlton Reid 22:29
cities have Bike Share cargo bikes now where you can just pick them up off the street, like you can get like a, you know, a normal Velib style bicycle yet I believe but with a cargo rack.

Patrick Rérat 22:44
Just there is such a system in Switzerland, it’s not exactly like Velib. It’s more like rental cars you need to go to, to a shop or to a post office to get the keys or the code. So you can’t have it in the night or in the evening, for example. But this system is quite important because it’s it’s complimentary to cargo bike ownership. It’s not really competition, it’s complimentary. Because you have people, we all need less a cargo bag, or have a more punctual or less frequent use. It’s also a way for some people who are reluctant to buy a cargo bag, which is like more expensive than the usual bag that can give a try. And maybe more symbolically, it’s important also to normalise cargo back. And when you see cargo bags on the street or next to the shop, you go shopping, that’s also important. It’s it gives an idea of a normal thing.

Virginie Lurkin 23:51
But they also agree that it’s like for now it’s still something that not every household can afford, right? I mean, it’s still quite an expensive product. So indeed, if you need to right now choose between the car and a cargo bike, right? You may say, Okay, I really need the car because some of the trips are too far. Why don’t we save currently in terms of infrastructure to have a cargo bike? So I think a lot of efforts will need to be done on making this also a more attractive alternative in terms of infrastructure price. And then I agree with Patrick right then the more of course we will see them the more it will become attracted but there are still things to be done in terms of making this attractive.

Carlton Reid 24:37
Now I recognise that they are expensive, and I recognise the perception is they’re expensive. But when you look at the price of a car, and certainly the how much you spend, even if it’s very cheap car, how much you spend on that car over the air. They are still a fraction of that. So yes, they’re expensive, but they’re nowhere near as expensive as a car. So as a social You know, economic thing, you could, you could certainly save an awful lot of money as a family. If you actually had one of these experiment doing inverted commas here expensive cargo bikes.

Patrick Rérat 25:13
We have the same debate about Ebates. And actually, I think that maybe it’s because we are not a high cycling country. So we still compare ebikes and cargo bags, with usual back. And maybe we should compare it with where the season ticket for buses or trends that we save or that someone save, or what a car or a second car costs. And of course, if you count everything, like not only the price of the car in itself, but also car parking, and all the maintenance and repair, it can go up quite quickly.

Carlton Reid 25:58
Hmm. Now at this point, I’d like to go across to my colleague in the US. Take it away, David.

David Bernstein 26:04
Hello, everyone. This is David from the Fredcast. And of course, the Spokesmen. And I’m here once again to tell you that this podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles, the good people that Tern build bikes that make it easier for you to replace car trips with bike trips. Part of that is being committed to designing useful bikes that are also fun to ride. But an even greater priority for Tern, is to make sure that your ride is safe, and worryfree. And that’s why Tern works with industry leading third party testing labs like E FB, E, and builds it bikes around Bosch ebike systems, which are UL certified for both electric and fire safety. So before you even zip off on your Tern, fully loaded, and perhaps with the loved one behind, you can be sure that the bike has been tested to handle the extra stresses on the frame, and the rigours of the road. For more information, visit to learn more. And now, back to the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 27:13
Thanks, David. And we are back with Patrick and Virginie of the University of Lausanne. And I’d like to ask you both who wants to take this? This is a survey, is this something that you’re going to be doing annually every two years, three years? Is this something you’re going to be continuing. So this is something that will develop over time.

Patrick Rérat 27:34
We don’t have a precise project, but but it would be great to do it like in five years time to see how things have changed. And I’m sure that in five years, a lot of it will increase. And it will be very important, interesting to compare.

Carlton Reid 27:51
And was there a baseline? Was there a previous study that you could say, Well, this has now increased by this much are you the is the first such study that’s been done.

Virginie Lurkin 28:02
Now, it’s actually the first national one here in Switzerland. And in general, this is this is also what what was exciting is that there are very few existing studies on the topic. And it’s still quite some empirical ones, and so on. So I think those are learnings that we got it’s the first one it’s of course an imperfect ones. But I agree with Patrick, it would be really nice to see a bit in five years how things have evolved. And if we see differences,

Patrick Rérat 28:36
the only data we have on cargo bags in Switzerland, that the shapes of E cargo bikes, and it was not even 400 in 2017. And last year, it was more than 4000. So it means that something that was really unusual sides five years ago. Now it’s not usual, I wouldn’t say that, but it’s you don’t turn around your head anymore. If you see a long tail or cargo bag. something exceptional still right but not exceptional. Hmm.

Carlton Reid 29:14
And just putting your your maybe your non scientific hat on here, because I’m gonna be asking you about what you think is gonna happen in the future. But do you think that trajectory that that very steep growth trajectory, do you think that’s going to continue? Or do you think we are bottoming out and it’ll it’ll become less steep in the next five years? So I imagine you’re steady in five years time. If you’ve got one, where do you think you will be?

Virginie Lurkin 29:40
I personally, I hope that it will become way more accessible for many people to have cargo bikes and that we we did well in the substitution effect, right. So but of course, it depends on policymakers on the changes in terms of infrastructure. But I think the weakness is there. Now we need to. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 30:07
So let’s, let’s circle back on that because in the preamble on your report, it does say that the remote the practice remains fragile due to the cycling environment. And you can imagine if you’ve got, you know, two three children in a, you know, Copenhagen box bike, Christiana box bike type thing, you are going to be hyper hyper aware of your surroundings, you know, with with the danger, even perhaps more so than you would as an individual on a bicycle. So clearly, if you’re taking very precious cargo, on the streets, you’re going to be advocating for safer streets. So cargo bikes, actually, and the people who are on them now if they are the privileged class, could that lead to safer streets in the future?

Virginie Lurkin 31:00
Hopefully, I think the safety and infrastructure I mean, we have seen it in the study. But this is something that is already true for a bike or standard bike ride that if you want, if you want to favour the use of bikes, cargo bike ebike, then you need to also make sure that people feel safe. And if you want to see the substitution effect, I also think that it means you need to rethink a bit. How to share the available space right workspace right now is still that there are many streets that are still fully dedicated to two cars while we are trying to reduce. So I think there is a bit of a nonsense there

Patrick Rérat 31:49
is even more an issue when you carry children. I mean, more than 60% of our interviewees said they, they adapt the route when they carry children. And that’s quite a lot. So it shows that everything is far from being perfect. So that’s a limiting factor. At least in now in Switzerland. But it also raises not only the question of, of infrastructure, but of course important. But with cargo bikes, you need also wider infrastructure. Because these cargo bikes will go with regular bags, e bikes, different speed, different size. And there is also something that is less spoken about in the political debate that parking spaces. In many dense or historical neighbourhoods, you don’t really have the space to store your cargo van. And you you hesitate before leaving it’s by at night on the street. So I think that parking spaces is also an important issue.

Carlton Reid 33:12
So bike hangers, you know that you think municipality should be installing secure compounds?

Patrick Rérat 33:19
Yes, something maybe

Carlton Reid 33:21
where car parking spaces were before you can have we’re in the UK, they called bike hangers. And you get

Patrick Rérat 33:29
so that when I was in London a few months ago and tightening that something that is missing in Switzerland, and when you have a cargo bag, you it’s the same also for ebike it has to be easily accessible, but you have also to protect it from theft or weather conditions.

Carlton Reid 33:51
And that the width because the obviously there are very different kinds of cargo bikes out there. So the ones we’ve been talking about so far, like the Christianna. But yeah, as you said they’re wide. But then the long tails are very thin. So they’re they’re each going to have their own a niches and, and and be requirements on the streets, aren’t they?

Patrick Rérat 34:14
Yes, they are different, but they have also some common requirements, like safety, wide cycle lanes. So all these are additional reasons to consider cycling the way when we design streets, for example.

Carlton Reid 34:34
And then the motivations of somebody who are taking children to school or to kindergarten is one thing but then you’ve got the other huge part of cargo bike riding, of course, is the last mile delivery and getting white van man off the streets and so it’s a cargo bike instead of a white van. So what have you discovered on the efficiencies of cargo ebikes compared to say, a big truck, or a van,

Virginie Lurkin 35:06
I mean, urban logistics, you’ll see this more and more right in the discussion that you would replace trucks by other bags because you can access streets that congested and also in terms of cost of emissions and so on. And so the study we did we did was to try to understand the bit, what would be the willingness of young students around here to to pay or to walk to a pickup collection or to pay extra money to be delivered by cargo bikes? And it seems they would be willing to do so. But then, in terms of urban logistics, yeah, I think it’s very interesting debate, because in Switzerland, we still don’t see them very much for urban deliveries, while if you take Paris for instance. They are quite used for deliveries. And so the question becomes also the infrastructure, the landscape. But yeah, the potential for urban Logistics is also of course, quite important. Well, thank

Carlton Reid 36:11
you both very much for talking about your study. Where can people find this study? On online? Where can where can people actually access it?

Patrick Rérat 36:21
It’s on a website of the University of Lausanne. If you Google the potential of cargo bikes, University of Lausanne, you will find it.

Carlton Reid 36:30
Okay, and can you give us your contact details? So anybody who’s listening to this, who wants to either talk to Patrick or individually and they want to contact you either social media or email how do people get in touch with you?

Virginie Lurkin 36:46
Yes, social LinkedIn of course, because when you look on LinkedIn or its viewers, you need that look at you need that ch for the email address.

Carlton Reid 36:56
And Patrick,

Patrick Rérat 36:58
Patrick Rerat. I’m on LinkedIn and Twitter as well and I would happy to connect with other people interested in cargo bikes.

Carlton Reid 37:10
Thanks to Patrick, reread, and Virginie lurking there. And thanks to you for listening to Episode 335 of the spokesman podcast brought to you in association with bicycles, show notes and more can be found at the hyphen Next episode will be out in August. But meanwhile, get out there and ride

July 12, 2023 / / Blog

12th July 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 334: From Bam-bu to Dott via Sustrans, Fettle, Flitbike and the Diagram Club

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Dave Walker, Joana Saavedra, Ilma Barbaroviciute, Andy Lu, Alex Murray, Xavier Brice, Henri Moissinac

TOPICS: This is the third and final episode recorded from the Move mobility conference in London last month. Hear from cycling cartoonist Dave Walker, Joana Saavedra from the Bam-bu bicycle company from Portugal, two bike mechanic folks from Fettle, Alex Murray from Flitbike and Xavier Brice, the CEO of Sustrans. Plus, after the ad break, there’s a fireside chat with tech entrepreneur Henri Moissinac cofounder of the city share scooter and e-bike company Dott.


Carlton Reid 0:12
Welcome to Episode 334 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Wednesday 12th of June 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day, and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:04
This is the third and final episode recorded from the Move mobility conference in London last month. I’m Carlton Reid and, if you listened to the first episode — with Councillor Emily Kerr — and the second one with a bunch of bike infrastructure folks you might have noticed a difference in the audio. With the magic of AI I removed all of the background hubbub from the interview with Emily, but left some in for the second one. Due to popular demand — well, a Twitter poll — I reduced the distracting show chatter by a few decibels but left enough so you could tell that I was recording in an expo hall, not a studio. And I’ve done the same for this episode’s interviews. You’ll hear from cycling cartoonist Dave Walker, Joana Saavedra from the bamboo bicycle company from Portugal, two bike mechanic folks from Fettle, Alex Murray from Flit bike and Xavier Brice, the CEO of Sustrans. After the ad break there are some extracts from a chat I had with tech entrepreneur Henri Moissinac cofounder of the city share scooter and Ebike company Dott. The background audio for that sounds different again because I was interviewing Henri in front of an audience from the show’s main stage. Anyway, kicking us off his Dave Walker. Well, fancy bumping into you here we haven’t met before day.

Dave Walker 2:45
So it’s good to be here.

Carlton Reid 2:48
Yeah. What the hell is is a world famous cycling cartoonist doing at this conference?

Dave Walker 2:58
Well, I’m here to learn, I guess really, in that. I, I normally spend my time shut away in my cartooning lair.

Carlton Reid 3:11
Away from the world. More you meet in real people now. Yes,

Dave Walker 3:15
yes. So it’s nice to be out of the house. So yes, I’m here to essentially I suppose I’m focusing on the micro mobility side of the, of the show. We call it a show, by the way.

Carlton Reid 3:31
Yeah, so it’s talking heads, and then a bunch of like, booths and stands on the outside. So ya know, it’s a show.

Dave Walker 3:40
So I’m here to go to some of the talks and maybe hear a few different perspectives. Because although I focus largely on cycling, I’m interested in sustainable transport generally. And so I’ve got one or two ideas bubbling up things I’ve heard already. And

Carlton Reid 4:01
because when we started talking before, you made a good point, and it is pretty obvious when you start going around even the bicycle elements of this show. It’s basically e elements, everything has got an electric element to it. And the industry is just clearly everything is got a battery now, and it hasn’t got a battery. It’s not innovative, and it’s not Yeah, it’s not going to be an individual conference like that. Is that a worry? Are we old in the tooth? Here we are.

Dave Walker 4:31
We are. But I suppose I can see the if you’re developing something new, then I suppose this is the kind of place you would you come to show off your new direction. And so maybe people who are doing things that are more conventional. This isn’t where you choose to come. But yes, it does seem to be the way things are going because of it that bikes tend to be moving towards having Moto as the standard,

Carlton Reid 5:03
yeah, so the reason I brought you to this particular part of the Startup Village, and the guy’s not here, because he’s Spanish, and he’s gone for a six hour lunch or whatever. But he’s Lane Patrol it so this is basically you’ll get a kick out of this, because he’s doing infrastructure. So it’s a cycling infrastructure. And so it’s of interest to you. And the reason the reason I brought you here is because it was so cute when I was talking to him, and he’s showing me his, his product on his laptop, up popped one of your cartoons, and it’s like, this is somebody in Spain. Yeah, opening up, he’s you. So you’re world famous. And I actually told him, I said, Dave is actually coming, I’m gonna bring him across to see how do you feel? Exactly. ,

Dave Walker 5:56
It’s unexpected that in a very small niche, at least, my work is, is known by people involved in the world of cycling and cycling infrastructure. In other countries, it’s yeah, it’s,

Carlton Reid 6:15
it’s, it doesn’t put, you know, Kit Kats on the table. There’s really no not necessarily. It’s building a profile to making money. Yes.

Dave Walker 6:28
And so you know, there’s a possibility that more people might buy a book, or might join my currently my diagram club is my way that I’m hoping to make a bit of a living from from what I do. So yeah, so it’s good that the works out there and let it’s being seen and enjoyed.

Carlton Reid 6:52
Hopefully he’ll come back and you can get to chat to him and you can probably invoice him. Literally, what’s his screensaver was one of your cartoons, which was which was a new you were coming into the show. So yeah, that was great. I’m, I freely admit that I will rip off cartoons, probably with a cycling element and private eye. And and put that on social media. And I, I probably wouldn’t do that with a photograph. But I saw I have no compunction to do that with a cartoon. Is that something that? Does that annoy you? Or is that just something that I know? It’s part and parcel of what you do as a cartoonist? And other cartoonists go through exactly the same thing? Yeah,

Dave Walker 7:29
I suppose. Yes, I suppose on the one hand, I see lives, probably a bit too short to get too annoyed about this, because it is just going to happen, people do enjoy funny images. And once they have a funny image, they will share it and use it themselves. But on the other hand, is somebody trying to make a living from it? You know, I’m always you know, it’s encouraging when somebody’s willing to pay for something. And so I suppose if somebody’s getting professional use, and if something particularly, and it’s helping them tell their story, get their point across, then, you know, I’d prefer to be

Carlton Reid 8:14
you’re cutting through the illustrations, you’re cutting through an awful lot of, of language and putting an illustration and that’s it then becomes much more visual, obviously. Yeah, but it cuts through the argument.

Dave Walker 8:26
Yeah. Well, that’s, that’s yeah, encouraging to hear, because that’s, that’s, that’s what I hope it will do. And, you know, using a little bit of humour, which I think is these days is a good way to make a point and something that we, you know, we we love the world of stand up. So humour is a useful tool. And that combined with having, you know, a little bit of knowledge of the experience of the world of cycling and

Carlton Reid 8:58
well, that shines through, you know, yeah, you absolutely have nailed a lot to it, which is why people share your stuff. So we’ve established that you are a global superstar. Certainly in Spain, you got a fan there in Spain. Where can we find your stuff? And where can we find out about the club where we can get tickets?

Dave Walker 9:18
So my website is So that’s where you’ll find everything that I do I try and link to from there, or I’m very active on Twitter, Instagram, where you can find by searching and but yes, I do. I’ve changed slightly the way I do things. So my cycling stuff originally was in books and the books are still available. One that’s slightly more sports focused and others more about getting just everyday getting from A to B. But as I was saying to you before the last eight Months. So I’ve been running something called diagram Club, which is where people who enjoy my work, pay a small fee and get reused the work in kind of nonprofit ways. Or cycling campaigns or local cycling campaigns will use it

Carlton Reid 10:19
so that they can use it without having the guilt of Oh, yeah, we shouldn’t

Dave Walker 10:24
leave it to people, you know, the, the price for this starts very low. And honestly, if people feel like they’re getting more use from it, then they can, they could pay me more money, which is, you know, obviously welcome. So, so yeah, so that was my way of allowing people who want to support what I do. So I have a way of doing so. And hopefully over time, that will grow and and there’ll be kind of new benefits to those who do join. And yeah, and they’re funding their funding new work, which so even yesterday, I spent the day working on something that wouldn’t really be possible were it not for for that so it’s a way of funding new cycling work that maybe wouldn’t have an immediate commercial backer.

Carlton Reid 11:14
Okay, brilliant. So who are you?

Joana Saavedra 11:16
So I’m Joana the co founder of bamboo bicycles.

Carlton Reid 11:21
What’s your second name?

Joana Saavedra 11:21

Carlton Reid 11:24
Okay, and you have a co founder, Sorry, I interrupted you there. You’re the co founder of

Joana Saavedra 11:28
Bam-bu bicycles. So we are a Portuguese startup that is exploring bamboo as a natural fibre and natural composites and who are designing and building bamboo bike frames?

Carlton Reid 11:39
In Portugal?

Joana Saavedra 11:40
Yeah, so the frame is entirely made of bamboo, hemp fibre, and a BL based epoxy.

Carlton Reid 11:46
So there are very many brands. I mean, even in the 1880s, and 1890s. There were bamboo. And then there were forgotten. Yes. And then, you know, we’ve we’ve, we’ve got some today, and there’s like an African angle. So what’s what’s the angle of because our bicycle is actually it’s bam.bu? You Yeah. So what’s the angle? What what’s differentiating you? Yeah, from the few others not not a huge amount, but the other bamboo bike maker,

Joana Saavedra 12:13
basically, yeah, the first bamboo bikes that happened was in the UK really long time ago. But then the Industrial Revolution came, and then the natural materials just got forgotten, right. We do know that, you know, in the in Asia, in Africa, and even in Latin America, you have a lot of bamboo, you have a few bamboo constructions, even around in product development. But also bamboo is still seen as the poor material, you know, because it’s you have it’s in such abundance. And some of the companies are some of the startups that are doing a few things with Bumble in Europe, they either do workshops, or they sell you a kit. So you can do it at home, you make it yourself perfect, or they just import the frame. So while we want to do is to bring the know how of working with bamboo on a structural like in Europe, because there will be an industry of bamboo coming up soon, the bamboo plantations are coming up as well, in Portugal, in Spain, in France in Greece,

Carlton Reid 13:06
so where are you sourcing the bamboo from?

Joana Saavedra 13:08
Now it’s in in Indonesia, okay, so at this point is still in Indonesia, because the bamboo needs to be kind of in the right timing needs to be dried needs to be created. So you don’t really have that structure now in Europe, but we are now currently where that’s why we also were founders of the Burien bamboo Association. And our goal is to put the first level is to map the bamboo plantations that already exists in Portugal and Spain understand how long are they do they exist? What are the species for what are they used for so that we can explore ways of Okay, can we create an industry around product development or product design or more for construction or for recessed for textile, or something else? So we’re working with the University now in Lisbon, to do this mapping and to do this analysis of the species and we hope to continue that further to understand in which direction can the bamboo industry goes in Europe?

Carlton Reid 14:04
So potentially you could be growing it in Europe? Yes. So how old this bicycle which is now in front of us beautiful, beautiful bamboo bicycle, how old is the bamboo? What’s What are the age is that bamboo?

Joana Saavedra 14:17
So this bamboo will be always used, usually between three to five years old, okay. So after that, they will be good enough to cut to dry it and to then be used for for construction or for product development.

Carlton Reid 14:32
So in Europe, you can have that soon. Yes,

Joana Saavedra 14:36
yeah. So normally you have the rhizome needs to be developed first, right. So that will take two to three years first, and then the rest of the bamboo Yeah, will grow between three to five years. It really depends then on the species as well. And then as as long as you go, you can then just get it and it grows again. After three, five years. You have it again. That’s why bamboo is such a great one. ress because yeah it’s not a three they’d such a great a great a great plants for it because it’s besides that it regenerates the soil it’s really good for the gives nutritions to the to the soil is that after you plant it once it’s done then you can cut it because otherwise it will, it will dry while it’s there, it’s also not good. So you can edit you can use it for so many different things in the utilisations and then it grows again it’s a really beautiful it’s not a monoculture you can plant other things around and it’s a very magical as well forest normally when you plant them but so we really think it’s it’s important to see it as a as a potential for for restore as well. The nature then biodiversity as well then we can have

Carlton Reid 15:47
carbon composites Yeah, that’s basic plastic. Yeah, you’re writing a plastic bicycle? Yes, you can maybe recycle ish. Steel, okay, that’s a bit of a better material, titanium, these are all kind of like, non sustainable product really? Yes, material in many ways. Whereas of course, this is organic as in grow. Yeah. And you can literally replace it. And then if it breaks, you just basically I’m not saying it’s gonna break, but if it breaks you then that’s a product that can be okay, basically put in a cotton ball.

Joana Saavedra 16:23
Okay, yes. So normally a frame would definitely break because of the alignment of the fibres of the of the bamboo tubes, it could possibly crack. But if it cracks, you can fix it. But in the worst scenario, yeah, that if it breaks, you can either apply toilet and I don’t know, do some crafts or you know, out of it, or you can probably then burn it as well and transform it into biomass or something else.

Carlton Reid 16:51
Yep. So is there any lacquer on there? Is there anything on there that’s not eco that you need? Or can you say literally that’s just

Joana Saavedra 16:59
so the the resin that we’re using the epoxy, it’s a br based epoxy, so it’s not 100% Echo, but he has like around 60% echo on the rest and because it’s still you can for this type of structural that you need, you have to get that that part of it. So the epoxy is

Carlton Reid 17:18
just the joints, yes. Just the joints. Okay, so the rest is okay. Yes.

Joana Saavedra 17:23
And the joints are hemp fibre and epoxy, that is B of a step.

Carlton Reid 17:28
Right. Okay. And are you direct consumer? Do you think? Or will it be any bike shop?

Joana Saavedra 17:35
Okay, so up to now, and one of the reasons also why we’re here is we’re looking really to distributors or wholesalers in the UK. So we can have a representative here, our strategy in Portugal and also what we are looking is also to focus with in tourism and corporate for two reasons. One, to really promote sustainable tourism cycle tourism with a completely different bicycle riding and even inspire those persons that are not really used to cycle but they will be attracted to the bike because it’s a beautiful piece of design, and at the same time corporate so that you can really have corporate fleets for for staff. And we see those two reasons The best way as well to get to the b2c clients because people are still not really used to bamboo bicycles. So they will be you know, not very comfortable, probably not trust the material, you think about a cane, and you think is going to break. So we think that the best way to get to the final user and to gain their trust is through either tourism or corporate so that they could try the bicycle and really get comfortable and confident around the camera. How

Carlton Reid 18:44
much does this cost? How much the as the spec is here? Yeah. Yeah,

Joana Saavedra 18:52
we try as much as possible to use as well. Portuguese suppliers and industry. Yeah, this is Brooks. Then we also have here it’s TBird. We have Miranda on the crank set and we have Vaude so we try as well

Carlton Reid 19:05
to some noise kit, which is not gonna set me back. What’s that gonna cost?

Joana Saavedra 19:08
It starts in 2500 euros. Yep.

Carlton Reid 19:12
So that’s expensive.

Joana Saavedra 19:13
Yeah. For a made in Europe bicycle. Yes.

Carlton Reid 19:17
And because Portugal is actually coming up as a manufacturing nation of bicycles. Yes. So you aren’t you’re not like some strange? Yes, your niche Yeah. But Portugal is now becoming known. Yes. In the EU for making bikes. Yeah.

Joana Saavedra 19:33
So Portugal has this really old history as well or really known by bike brands right that were really built from scratch there. Then we started to to this level of we were really maybe one of the biggest assemble it so we really assemble a lot of the bicycles in in Portugal. So we probably designed but then we import the frames and all the components from Asia and we are assembling and now we are starting To see a bit of a shift, but until now, even a lot in terms of product development and prototyping is really not in Portugal. So it’s a little bit more outside. But now you’re starting to see and you do have one of the biggest some of the biggest as well, factories that are now starting to

Carlton Reid 20:20
visit. Yes, that’s all I know, it’s

Joana Saavedra 20:24
probably been to carbon, the carbon team and triangles, and some of them Yeah, so they are starting as well. And they’re, they’re building some of the frames. So we’re really want to shift to give the shift in terms of working with different materials, because we know that the industry is starting to talk about it now, like looking for natural fibres, how can we replace or at least combine some of the components will with some more of like natural fibres. So that’s a little bit our our goal here to just step up, we know that because we’re doing small production, because it’s still a different material, you cannot really just scale up or I cannot just go and subcontract to someone else to build it up. So of course, that makes that the product has a different level. Also, the choice of our components and brands made the bike as it is because we wanted something a little bit high end with really high quality, low maintenance so that you can have really a bicycle to be durable, as much as possible. Yeah,

Carlton Reid 21:25
sure. And what’s your background? So why are you

Joana Saavedra 21:30
okay, so I’ve studied economics, but I’ve been living abroad, I lived abroad for more than 11 years between Spain, Mexico, Holland, and China. So and that’s why six years in China got me closer and got me passionate about bamboo. And I found out bamboo I started like really researching about it, travelling around Asia as well to into some of the events around bamboo to get to know more about it. And my brother that is my co founder is an industrial designer, he had previously working with arbeta, that it was one of the big brands as well before in the bank industry in Portugal. So we just challenge ourselves. And we saw that no one in Portugal was working with them boom. In Europe, a very few persons were really working with bamboo in a structural way, or building their own brand or really trying to build their own friends here. So we really saw that there was really a space to evolve. And our dream is really to be a bit of the hub of innovation of bamboo in Europe, so that people can also come to us and try to understand how can we progress and collaborate with big brands in order to move in into the right direction? And so would

Carlton Reid 22:39
you say your your you were more bamboo? Bicycle? Yes. Yeah. But you’ve kind of educated yourself on the bicycle side because you’ve you’ve you’ve zeroed in Yeah, on the bicycle as something that can do something with bamboo as well. But bamboo first and bicycle second. Yes,

Joana Saavedra 22:56
bamboo first and then bicycle second. And then with a background of of the our industrial designer of Tiago that he was on the bike industry as well and are passionate of bikes. We really saw that there was really a match there.

Carlton Reid 23:13
And how long have you been going? So how new is this company?

Joana Saavedra 23:15
So we we’ve been going up like three years ago, I decided to move back from China to Portugal. And we launched this this models last year. So yeah, it’s been a baby with more or less two years.

Carlton Reid 23:28
And how is it going?

Joana Saavedra 23:30
It’s going good. It’s been the first time outside of Portugal really to present the brand and the project? I think, definitely the feedback here. It’s way more exponential than anymore. It’s you Well, I think the you know, in in Portugal, the markets in the mindset is completely different. For you know, urban cycling, we don’t really have that culture as well still. So here it’s been really, really interesting. And we’ve been approached for some big brands that are interested to collaborate so we’re really keen on seeing

Carlton Reid 24:01
big brands as in corporates rather than from bikes Yeah, because right now you have a referee now is Eurobike is happening yeah, that’s why we’re also there are you also you could have been there but yeah.

Joana Saavedra 24:14
Nobody the standard but we are that was a you you are industrial designers there Yeah, exactly. Right. That’s the goal. But we were

Carlton Reid 24:21
you could have exhibited there. Yeah, but you’ve come here instead. So that’s interesting.

Joana Saavedra 24:25
Yeah, but here was well it’s it’s in terms of like investment at this point. Right the standard it gets a bit of a in here we got invited to so we got the chance to have like split the team and be here as well to understand a bit the market and our goal was really to look for some partnerships on on the corporate world as well and to look for potential distributors or wholesalers so working to then tomorrow as well. We have a few meetings so that we can explore that way.

Carlton Reid 24:53
What do I know I wish you all the best with with getting more corporates to get on bamboo bicycles. Tell us how we can Get in touch so put it on tape your website or your socials how do we get in touch with you okay,

Joana Saavedra 25:05
so you can follow us on Instagram on bam-bu bicycles and so be I am bu Yes, exactly. And you can also check our website that is bam-bu how do you ash this yeah and follow as well subscribe our newsletter we always like get some either promotions or new product developments or we will let you know the next events are going to be in

Carlton Reid 25:36
Ilma, How do you pronounce that second name?

Ilma Barbaroviciute 25:39
It’s Barbaroviciute. Difficult.

Carlton Reid 25:44
Yeah. I’m glad you said that. They’re not me. A lot. What is this Fettle? Yes, is a bike because it Fettle isn’t like a northern English word. Yeah. For when I do an American podcast. And whenever I say the word Fettle Americans go northern English. It’s like, yeah, yeah. So I know what Fettle means. It means like, you know, repair something, but you tell me what it means in your context.

Ilma Barbaroviciute 26:13
Yeah, so Fettle is a fastest growing bike repair network in the UK. So at the moment, we have four workshops in London. And we recently opened the one in Bristol, we actually partnered up with quickfit, not long time ago. So two of our workshops are in quickfit locations. And we’re actually about to open the sixth one. And it’s going to be the third one, which in partnership with clixsense, basically. So yeah, so we do everything. Everything to do with bike repair, basically. So we don’t sell bikes, because we believe every single bike can be repaired. So you can bring your bike into our workshop, and we’re gonna fix it. And we also do a lot of fleet maintenance, We do manufacture partnerships, an important part of our business is making sure at the moment, it’s only affected in London, but making sure that people who commute to work, they do it on the same bike. So we a lot of our businesses, like b2b. So let’s say we go to the corporate and we maintain employees, bikes, and we also do workshops, or we people teach people how to maintain their own bikes, and all this sort of jazz. We have a lot of community rides, events as well. So it’s, it’s yeah, it’s a really white business.

Carlton Reid 27:33
So do mechanics. Are they all like Cytech? accredited? What? What is the accreditation that you’re using? Yeah, so

Ilma Barbaroviciute 27:39
all of our mechanics like in the workshops, obviously, we have mechanics and people who go and like teach people, they’re also mechanics. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 27:47
For that. Cytech. That’s, that’s what accreditation using? Yes. Yeah.

Ilma Barbaroviciute 27:51
I mean, I assume Cytech.

Andy Lu 27:54
Separately, Cytech. But there are other accreditation schemes out there such as Evans ran one on their own at some point. Yeah. And will will take into account, not just accreditation, but more importantly, experience. So certainly, you know, accreditation can only speak to a certain degree, if you don’t see the experience of the computer by versus, you know, the high end kind of an electronic race bikes. There’s certainly kind of gaps in between their accreditation doesn’t always,

Carlton Reid 28:26
I’ll tell you Cytech came from so Cytech was founded about 35 years ago, by a bike shop owner, it was it was basically the Association of Cycle Traders. Tell me stop me if if you know this history, and they went into this particular bike shop, went into a court case, yes. Where a bike had been fettled, of course, and the judge said, yes, very well. Shuttleworth was the guy Albert Shuttleworth. Sorry, I’ll dive in here. Quick fact check. It was actually Albert Shucksmith. And he died in 2001, a few years after the setting up of Cytech. Okay, back to myself getting a lecture at the Move conference. Very well. What’s your accreditation? Oh, we haven’t got one. Well, this case is now closed. If you haven’t got an accreditation, you’re an official trade body. Doesn’t matter how well experienced you are. Yes, I beat because the guy who said I’ve been doing bike mechanics for 30 years and the judge said, I don’t care. I want to see your accreditation. And he then went back to the association recycled traders and said look, yes, if we do not have accreditation, so they founded their own accreditation way ahead of the American industry, which is got all sorts of different weird ones. So accreditation is incredibly important to have. So that’s that’s where the question was coming from like, Yo, do you actually do If a customer comes in and gives you a very expensive buy, how do they know that? A it’s been handled by somebody who knows what they’re doing? And be they’re insured. They know that this bike has been battled correctly. Of course, you’re sorry. It’s your Andy. Okay, so Andy, I’m going to try and lean in my microphone as well. So are you partners in the business? What’s what is the what’s the how is the business formulated?

Andy Lu 30:29
What is the partnerships manager? And I’m the stock so I’m buying and purchasing manager in terms of what was your question? Sorry, the in terms of I was,

Carlton Reid 30:42
how big is the company? Has it formulated as a limited company? Is it all that kind of?

Andy Lu 30:47
Okay, so we are a limited company. We operate five workshops at the moment, three, sorry, for which are in London. We’ve recently opened a new workshop in Bristol. That’s our first workshop outside of London. And we are looking to expand very quickly with with the assistance of with partnership with Kwik Fit through their centre network. Through that through that can be

Carlton Reid 31:12
quite rapid. Yes, yeah. It could be like boom, boom, boom, on the on a sudden, you’ve got how many? How many stores do they have?

Andy Lu 31:17
So they’ve got around 650 or 600? Plus, I’ll say, and we started the partnership. Operationally, in April, I believe, we’ve already opened our first workshop in Bristol with the assistance and establish workshop is in our centre, we open that last night.

Carlton Reid 31:40
So they know or maybe you’re telling them this is a high cycling area. You should open it here whereas you could like some of them and outskirts of a city on the mainland where there’s no you don’t bother opening one there. Is that? Is that how you’re handling it? We would

Andy Lu 31:55
like we would prefer to say it’s more about priorities. So we will aim for the high traffic. I guess conurbation is first and then we’ll work towards I guess, belong outside of as as a trickle down to the tree

Carlton Reid 32:13
and talk about trickling down. Mechanics traditionally never used to get paid a huge amount bike mechanics I mean, scientific actually helped that because you get that you know, you have your level whatever money do you think federal could raise their game could raise it makes it a more of a career opportunity for somebody? Because there’s a career path you’re going through? Is that Is that something that you’ve considered? And they’re like, Yeah, we want to pay more money.

Andy Lu 32:43
That certainly was a, I believe a one of our vision part of our vision in the beginning. As we started, we started four years ago, I guess, just as the industry was starting to tail off before the pandemic, and then everything else happened. Part of our commitment to that was that we had sought a new way of participating in the London living wage. So our mechanics certainly were paid, what our paid above market rate at the time, and we are now starting to see that market rate is starting to catch up to us, which is great news for everyone, particularly the industry. And yeah, we certainly see that as we already are starting to see the arm mechanics as they kind of go on to other opportunities is that they are they are viewed as being of, shall we say higher quality because of their association with this.

Carlton Reid 33:37
Okay, brilliant. And what’s your second name?

Andy Lu 33:40
Lu. I’ll give you I’ll give you a card.

Carlton Reid 33:43
Because we got your name on tape and I won’t say it again. But we didn’t get your name. Thank you. Yeah, great stuff. Brilliant. Thank you. In fact, I’ve got your business card here so I actually put this on tape of people get in touch with you anybody who wants a job or wants to expand your empire happy Kwik Fit could be

Andy Lu 34:06
well at the moment it’s it’s an exclusive wellness exclusive partnership our network is our own we we own and operate our work our network so it’s not a kind of like a franchisee model we already doing it with Quick Fit as a as a partner.

Ilma Barbaroviciute 34:24
Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, and you can also follow us on social media. It’s at fettlebike everywhere. And we upload all the news about your workshops about community rights, community events, so people can join us, even if they’re beginners or even if they’re like advanced in their cycling journey. Everyone’s welcome.

Carlton Reid 34:43
Next up here is Alex Murray, of the folding ebike brand Flitbike. Right Alex? This is where we’re basically taking our lives into our hands here. We’re in the middle of the test track. Basically, people are going around on scooters at Move at Excel, but you in the middle are also allowing people to have a go. And this is this is version two iteration two of the Flitbike Yes, yes. So what’s different to this compared to previous version?

Alex Murray 35:14
so at flitbike we specialise in making lightweight folding electric bikes mainly for urban commuters so think of anyone who needs to take a train into a major city as part of their commute. A few years ago, we developed our first bike it was called the Flint 16. We manufactured hundreds of those sold them to people all across the UK and Europe. But then, as a common with a lot of companies in the bike industry, the supply crunch happened that lead time on welding factories went from two months up to about 18 months in some cases. And once you include getting all the components and shipping bikes over from Taiwan, and so on, lead times could go up to nearly two years. So we decided to go back to the drawing board got a grant from Innovate UK. And we use that to develop a whole new manufacturing method. So the bike you can see here has no welding on it whatsoever. It’s a non world bike, it uses the same adhesives that are used in the aerospace and automotive industries. So the bike is mechanically fixed together. And then we use industrial strength adhesives to put it together. Now, that’s not actually that new those techniques have been used since the 1980s. However, where it doesn’t necessarily make sense for a full size bike for a folding bike, it makes a lot of sense. Because if you’re working in aluminium, when you weld the frame, and then you do something called heat treatment to to refrain from the frame afterwards, you introduce distortions every time you do that. And by by not using welding, we don’t have any of those distortions. So it means we can be very accurate with how the parts fall together. That’s allowed us to get more compact. So this bike is about 20% more compact than our original version. And it’s also lighter, it’s about a kilo and a half later.

Carlton Reid 36:54
So the Brompton and many other bike having like a removable battery pack on the front or wherever. So Where’s where’s the battery on this? Where’s everything hidden? And how do you recharge it?

Alex Murray 37:05
Sure thing? Yeah, so the Brompton fantastic bikes, when they came to making an electric folding bike, they didn’t want to change the design too much. So they essentially sort of retrofits, a lot of the components onto the bike motor goes in the front wheel, the battery clips on to the front, as you say, we started from a blank piece of paper, which meant we could put things where we wanted. So the battery frost lives in the top tube here. And it’s got the charging port there on the side. So it can all be charged. The battery is removable as well. So if I just take the seat posts out, appreciate your listeners won’t be able to see this, but the battery slides out there. Right. And that’s a custom a battery that lives in the top tube with an integrated real I

Carlton Reid 37:44
was gonna say there’s a there’s an LED at the back there as well. And there’s there’s something at the front as well. Yes. So we have on the front, though. Yeah. You mean speaking of mono blade as well. So there’s like no, Mike Burrows influence? Yes. Rip, Mike.

Alex Murray 38:00
It’s been sorted by us. So we’ve just had our patent fully granted across the European Union, which is I mean, main market, the UK and European Union, I should say. So that patents have been granted, it’s a unique fold that. Okay, so folding bikes have been around for a very long time, 100 years at least. So there’s very little new under the sun. However, not many people have been designing folding bikes with lithium ion batteries integrated into them that’s quite new. So the way this bike folds, you would only do it if you get a battery that was small and light enough from the lithium ion technology to fit inside the bike. So uses a unique fold that uses an offset headset and an angled fork hinge to bring the front wheel to the side. So you mentioned Brompton earlier. So I’ll just use them as a reference point, Brompton achieved something similar, but they use a hinge on the top tube. It’s a great design. But if you want to put a battery in the top tube, it’s not going to work. So this is a this fold is patented, and has been through the examination process and everything

Carlton Reid 39:02
is going to set me back if I’m going into a shop or if I’m buying direct, I’m gonna tell me the two parts that question and where do you buy it? And how much does it cost?

Alex 39:09
Sure, sure. So at the minute, we’re direct consumer only, so you can buy them from us. We have partnerships lined up with shops in the UK, but we’re going to be launching that in a in a later phase. So at the minute, it’s just from us, the full retail price of the bike is two and a half 1000 pounds, which is alright, which is okay for folding, folding ebike, particularly in the premium category. But because we’re doing pre orders at the minutes, people are ordering them in advance, it’s actually 2000 pounds. When you add on top of that, that most people are buying through cycle to work, the price can drop another 40% or so. So we think we’re pretty well priced.

Carlton Reid 39:44
And Alex tell me where we can learn more about Flitbike, your website and your socials.

Alex Murray 39:51
Sure thing so we’re we’re to be found online at and then to find this bike in particular, it’s, and on social sites, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we’re at flitbike

Carlton Reid 40:06
So, Xavier it’s just tech, tech, tech at the Move conference. It’s e scooters, its autonomous vehicles, lorries that emit only water, not spewing out. awful stuff back there. So the thing that’s missing is shanks’ pony, is pavements, because you’ve been given a talk here. And you were talking about how we move. Yeah, and how we show some slides of dystopias and other words, those kind of motor centric cities of the future where almost walking isn’t in Wheeling and wheelchairs, can I just almost not there or you know, why really separate? See, you are the opposite to everything that’s here. Are you here as some sort of agent provocateur?

Xavier Brice 41:05
Well, to a certain extent, I mean, that’s just this conference is called Move. So it’s about movement. And my argument was, movement is one of the fundamental things that makes us human, that shape. And therefore how we move is a fundamental question about how we want to live together. And I don’t think that, that were the kind of opposite of all of this. I mean, there’s some practical stuff isn’t there isn’t much money to be made from walking and pavements. And this is a conference with exhibitors. And as you know, there’s a commercial side to it, which needs to be recognised. And I think that’s just commercial reality. Not that there’s not much money in active travel. So and so I think that that impart shapes what you’re seeing here. And the other thing to say is that transport technology, transport innovation, a lot of what you see here, there is nothing wrong with it, per se, there is nothing wrong, per se with the car, it’s often the unintended consequences. And so I think that highlighting the unintended consequences, talking about those and reminding people that ultimately just as transporter derived demand, transport technology is is serving a purpose, which is to connect us to move us. And actually, we need to go back to the question of, of not only how do we want to get from A to be as quickly as possible, but how do we want to live? How do we want to be together? How do we want to move together? And given that movement as an opportunity for human connection? How can we maximise that, while still enabling people to have convenient, comfortable journeys, that in a way that helps bring us together helps us be the society we want to be, rather than pushing us apart.

Carlton Reid 42:52
So you’re talking about connected connections you have when you when you walk into, potentially, when you when you start community, you can’t just stop on a dime, and talk to somebody which you tend not to be able to do in a car. And you showed one slide, which is the famous study of Sheffield, where a great grandfather, you know, as an eight year old, had eight mile radius, coming right down to the modern generation of that family 300 yards away from a house. And you mentioned that your total right now that’s probably even less than that. And the other study, you could have mentioned, you will be familiar with the Appleyard study, which is the amount of connections you’ve got across the street, across, you know, we’ve got cars coming here, then where’s people you can get people go at different angles on there’s no cars, basically. And that’s also something to do with with a human connection? Absolutely. So that’s something that we’re losing. And you’re what you said in your talk is what we travel in teleporters when travelling to get places as fast as possible, whereas that for our mental health? And for many other reasons, that’s probably not the most optimum thing to do.

Xavier Brice 44:08
No, indeed. And so it’s always the danger, isn’t it? When you optimise for one thing, you optimise for that one thing, and therefore you will have unintended consequences. And so to go back to that notion of human connections, the point I was making there was so when I used to want my daughters to school because the school was close enough to the house to do that. And during that walk, I would always see somebody I knew. And I knew them probably through I might have met them on the walk to school Bachalo and got chatting and and that’s making a human bond. And it’s non trivial. There’s lots of evidence don’t trust is built over time, not in single big acts. So So community trust is built through those social bonds. I talked about you know, when you drive I do drive, and I now drive my children to the station on a fairly regular basis has been safe enough to cycle sample Okay. When I when you do that, literally anyone you come across That’s like going the other way. See, anyone else you come across from the road is in your way somebody crossing is slowing you down the car in front of you, it wasn’t there. You could go faster if they’re not speeding,

Carlton Reid 45:16
or you try to sorry, you’re trying to stop yourself from thinking that or you are thinking that when you’re driving, you know, this is the impulse is

Xavier Brice 45:23
the impulse, isn’t it? Because because when you get enough factors as people are in your way, so I was at an event that we already see foundation about the future of the car. And Richard Hammond was one of the talkers who was being provocative on you, standardly. And he was talking about him, the goal is to get somewhere and ideally get somewhere quicker than someone else was his words. No, that’s an exaggeration of it. But there is something about it’s that notion, is that famous thing of people complaining about the traffic, not recognising that part of the traffic. We all do it. Yeah. It’s the nature of being enclosed in your own personal mobility device, your own teleport. And I think that and beyond that, go back to what you were saying about. That’s the Appleyard study. So So increasingly, car travel is about door to door. So one of the things I talked about was the scourge of pavement parking, a huge impact that has on disabled people in particular. And it seems again, like a minor thing. But it’s huge, actually. And, and one of the reasons I think this come about is more than one reason. One is certainly the increase in private car ownership I saw you on Twitter tweeting about recently, so that there are simply more cars and less space. But one of the things that I regularly see, matching UDT is actually where there are perfectly sensible places to park, people are not parking there, because it’s not directly outside where they want to go. And what seems to have happened is, there’s a sort of a view that it’s not my right to park outside my destination. So this notion of the car is sort of pseudo teleporter is becoming more and more the case, if you think about from autonomous vehicles, especially when you summon up on your phone, you are getting close to teleportation, you are getting close to this ideal of, you know, I tap on my phone, my pod arrives, I get it, I get to my destination, I have no contact with anyone on the outside world bank on that amazingly convenient. And living in suburban Surrey with children who do after school activities, but very limited safe cycling infrastructure, and an adequate bus service. You know, I know how much time gets spent preparing children about oh, my goodness, the thought of being able to put them in an autonomous pod. You know, let’s face it, that is a that is that would that would improve quality of life, but at what cost? At what cost of their own sense. And and and it’s not one cost of the society we’re building. And if you think about some of the images I showed, and poked fun at which were these kind of tech visions of a tech enabled transport future, you just want to step back from and say, well actually focus on looks amazingly convenient. But where did it take us? Does it take us somewhere that we actually want to live, that we actually want to build communities in that we want to know where chip where our children will be able to play where our children will learn their independence. And those things are really important, especially in an increasingly polarised world. And especially with the public health crisis that we have, and we’re storing up for the future, where actually, movement is good for us encountering people who are different than us, is good for us building community partners. And actually, a lot of the way we do that, it’s not at a destination. It’s getting an axe on the way there, it’s leaving our door and walking to the bus stop. It’s it’s those so on the way here today, actually the railway station, I bumped into somebody you I haven’t spoken to for years, and we caught up. And it helps it made me happy actually, then it helps increase our social capital. And these are not trivial things.

Carlton Reid 48:57
You mentioned, not trivial things you mentioned. polarised world. Yeah. And in your talk, you mentioned that there are some LTNs that are brought in at breakneck speed potentially, that’s where some of the friction has come from. But then you predicted that the going forward. Some of the conspiracy theories around LTNs, around 15 minute cities is not going to go away could potentially even increase. Is that Is that a fair reflection of where you’re going with that?

Xavier Brice 49:37
I think it’s not comforting thought as a but I think I think when you when you look at the challenges around climate change, to rail on what those elite into and if you look, you know, the US is often ahead of the UK on many things. It’s a predictor of what’s to come. And there’s I Let us for several years in the early 2000s. And I think if I was to go back, it would feel very different. Certainly talking to people who live in the States, you know, and clearly and and, and you look across mainland Europe that’s on the rise advisor far right parties as well as far left. So I think I think it’s difficult to say that on one side lightsaber, we’re not going to polarisation is going to go away, the conspiracy theories are going to go away evidence or evidence of that. And in things that get taken into the orbit of different conspiracy theories, right, going back to what I talked about movement movements are fundamental human part fundamentally being human. And it’s where conflict occurs, because it’s where we come together. And movement and transport is often it’s one of those social dilemmas that isn’t, you know, it’s by maximising what we own personal gain my own personal mobility, my own personal convenience, can act against the greater good as good of a hole, which ultimately will come back and bite me traffic. And so I think it’s no surprise that transport finds itself in the crosshairs. Especially when, where people will live. And it also is, again, deliberately pulled in in some areas. So So I think it’s not going to go away. And and it’s not just climate change, because because a lot of what some of what we’re talking about, you know, you replace cars with electric cars, or Can’t you imagine, if you were able to snap your fingers and replace all cars and electric cars tomorrow, choice is impossible. You would still have challenges around LTNs, you will still have issues around traffic, traffic, destruction, people, all the stuff. We haven’t even talked about emissions yet. So I don’t think that the electrification we see around us here today and what’s going on is really needed is a good thing. That’s not going to solve some of the fundament fundamental dilemmas and transport which actually is what makes it so fascinating, so interesting. And so worth influencing living has changed for the better.

Carlton Reid 51:55
Thanks to Sustrans’ CEO Xavier Brice. Next up is Henri Moissinac, co founder of Dott. But first let’s go across to my colleague, David for a short ad break.

David Bernstein 52:05
Hello, everyone. This is David from the Fredcast. And of course, the spokesmen. And I’m here once again to tell you that this podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles, the good people at Tern build bikes that make it easier for you to replace car trips with bike trips. Part of that is being committed to designing useful bikes that are also fun to ride. But an even greater priority for Tern, is to make sure that your ride is safe, and worryfree. And that’s why Tern works with industry leading third party testing labs like E FB, E, and builds its bikes around Bosch ebike systems which are UL certified for both electric and fire safety. So before you even zip off on your Tern, fully loaded, and perhaps with a loved one behind, you can be sure that the bike has been tested to handle the extra stresses on the frame, and the rigours of the road. For more information, visit to learn more. And now, back to the Spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 53:15
Thanks, David. And we are back with audio from the Move mobility conference. I was one of the interviewers on the shows main stage and I snuck on my microphones so I could record my fireside chat with Henri Moissinac of the city share scooter and ebike company Dott

Move announcer 53:33
Up on stage for our next session Carlton Reid and Henri Moissinac.

Carlton Reid 53:41
Good morning, we are miked up, and we are ready to go. So I am here this morning with Henri Moissinac. You live in London, Henri. So we’re gonna be talking in a minute, about 15 minutes cities. And if you’re aware of all the conspiracy theories, around 15 minute minute cities, we’re going to not try and go down into that particular rabbit hole, we are going to try and keep it all positive. Neither of us are in the pay of the World Economic Forum. Let’s just put that out there at the moment. But first of all, before we get into the the absolute gubbins of what we’re gonna be doing here this morning, Henri. Let’s find a little bit about you. Because you’re with Dott, we’ll get into the biography of Dott in a moment, but let’s get a biography of you. So tell us about your background because he started in E commerce. And even in social networking, both of these things before they became big. So give us your your biography, and then we’ll get into Dott.

Henri Moissinac 54:54
is great question. So yeah, actually, I started in E commerce. It makes me think about mobile because when I started in E commerce CES was like, three, four years before it started become becoming popular. And I remember vividly people were telling me is just never going to work, you know, people are never going to put their credit card on the internet. And some of the things we did, and some of the companies that work for became massive, massive successes, and there were hundreds and hundreds of millions of users. I was just saying, when I started in social networking, so I was an early employee at Facebook, we have 300 employees. And when I joined Facebook, people were telling me, it’s never going to work, you know, people, you’re only going to see photos of cats and dogs on the internet. Look how many users now. And I, to me, mobility was made the same way I started getting interested in shared mobility. And people were telling me you’re never going to work here. I think what we see here with the move, you know, if you look how much progress from the first one in 2019, to today, look how vibrant this industry is becoming. So I think it’s going to be the same, like E commerce like social networking. Some of the other things you’ve seen massive changes, I think shared mobility or micro mobility, these type of things that you see behind is going to be become very popular. And the one who’s going to disappear as the personal income within cities. Yes.

Carlton Reid 56:12
Now let’s go into Dott. How did you get into dott and describe how dott has not just shade scooters, it also has a n ebike. So described the trajectory of Dott. started in France? Yes, in Paris.

Henri Moissinac 56:29
Yeah. So maybe just a few words about that. And how do we stop this so that we operate in at 60,000 vehicles, about 1/3 of this is E bikes, and the other the rest of it is e scooters. We are in 35 cities in Europe, and most of the main cities in West Europe. So London, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Rome, Walsall Madrid, we also in Tel Aviv and surroundings. And then we operate plenty of smaller cities in in Belgium, France, Italy, bit of UK a bit of Spain. When I started when I was actually on a refreshing trip in China, I wanted to take a personal break and go through the bucket list. So I went to China because I wanted to see how vibrant and how China was not not the tourist year aspect of it, but you’re spending time with entrepreneurs and so on. And so this wave of shared bags, mobile microphone, you may have heard of these companies. And then we also heard about the stories about bird coming up with a new form factor. And so Maxine microfauna. And I, we took a piece of paper and we say, okay, what are all the things we like, of the of the things we’re going to copy? What are all the things we don’t like? And we are going to do none of that. So for example, the gig economy of birth, we said none of that for us. And then the last question was, what are all the things neither Chinese or American will understand? And that’s typically the relationship with the cities and the stakeholders. And so we thought, okay, well, if we do very well, what they’re good at if we avoid all the things we don’t like, and if we do think that neither the Chinese or the Americans can understand, we have a chance to win. So that started, we were probably the last company to start, I mean, among the big players, everybody thought we would have zero chance against realignment and burnin look where we are today. And we are very healthy, we are going very fast. We feel very safe about the future of this industry. So yeah, it was That’s how it’s happened.

Carlton Reid 58:30
So we are gonna get on to 15 minute cities. But let’s dig a little bit more down into into Dott. You the bikes came on after that the scooters. So I’d be interested and I’d be interested for you to tell the audience about the share between bikes now and scooters. And does that change compared to the way the city is and what they’re on the ground would have seen for instance, bike lanes now.

Henri Moissinac 58:57
So first, let’s step back and understand what’s the vision and strategy and then how they compare to each other today. So the vision is we want to go after every trip that is not walking in public transit. But when we are younger and we only have a piece of paper and a few doors, you got to be a bit naive and optimistic and you got to start simple and be very focused. So we thought that scooters would be the form factor to start with. We know all the data proves it today scooters are a bit edgy gives you more freedom for you feel younger, it’s you know typically a bit more male and female a bit younger than the typical average citizen of a city. So we thought okay, let’s just scooters when we got it right in many cities, we stopped bikes. And also we wanted to wait a bit to see what type of share bikes we could come up with because we felt the early pieces of hardware weren’t going to be sustainable enough. So now in most capital cities, London we operate in London for example, we are both in Paris processes on the bikes. They are typically older and more female They are they go a bit faster. So to be key commuters, they tend to like it a bit more. When it’s cold people prefer to do bikes. But when it rains, people prefer to do scooters. And typically we have three types of users. We have people who are heavily on scooters, and they love it. And it’s just a lifestyle for them. And they don’t want to touch a bike. We have people are more pragmatic like me, that will just switch depending on availability, the weather where they going, if they know traffic or not. And then we have people that just don’t want to touch the scooter and they will never get on one and the only comfortable on bikes. So that’s why you need to get to both.

Carlton Reid 1:00:35
And the bikes that the bikes so they’re limited in their speed. But on downhill sections for instance, you’re not limited you can go as fast as you like on on. The scooter, of course, is limited. So why why do cities? Why does the industry that the sector limit one mode doesn’t mean the other mode because of course motorists are not limited.

Henri Moissinac 1:00:59
Yeah. So for remediation facts first, answer your question. So typically in cities the bikes I’ve sold our bikes are kept in speeder same for scooters. And in some cities, most cities, the bikes have a slight senior higher speed cat again, then in scooters. But then there are sometimes bigger differences. For example, in London with a bike on that you can go through a park, but you can’t do it on the scooter. Either backing walls also can change. So in take, for example, in Paris, when the gap is the most important. So these like 10,000 parking spots for bikes, and only 2500 parking spots for for scooters. So it doesn’t really give it exactly the same experience. I think it is. The reason for that is because scooters is new and bikes is not enough stakeholders have decided to limit the speed, I think actually the speed of a scooter is is quite good. I mean, it really goes well. It’s not too fast. It’s not too slow. And London is the only city where it’s slightly lower than the other cities. And then the bikes they are they can go faster, but they don’t go at the speed of a personal bike. Most of the personal bikes, too, as we share bikes, the speed of our bikes is designed so that if you ride in a bike lane with Santa the bikes, for example, you’re going to be in the flow, you’re not really you can pass but you’re not going to disturb everybody. So not too, not too slow, and not too fast.

Carlton Reid 1:02:26
15 minute cities, which is the conspiratorial thing of the moment. But it’s a very, very nice concept you would think, to live close to education, to shops, to nice restaurants. Why on earth would that be subject to a conspiracy theory? It’s quite strange. However, Carlos Moreno, who is the guy who came up with concept in Paris called Paris. He describes it as something there, the proximity to all of these amenities is mainly by foot. So a bicycle or share bike or by standard bicycle or a scooter actually extends that to not being a 15 minute stick, because you can get quite a long way on a scooter on a bike compared to the walking 15 minutes city. So do we still talk about a 15 minute city when we’ve got a bicycle or a scooter involved?

Henri Moissinac 1:03:27
So the concept of 15 minute cities is it’s really a vision I I follow and I believe a lot when these type of messages came from not just parents actually your loved cities, I think you at least London is the perfect example of this vibrant neighbourhoods, young there. But yeah, you’re right, your job, your university, maybe your next job interview or your friends, they’re not going to be 15 minutes walking away, but would be great if they could be 15 minutes with public transit or your personal bike or a shared bike and you can do quite a long distance and 15 minutes on the dots whether it’s a scooter or bike, so it just widens the possible network. So I don’t know why they didn’t just take an example. If you in Piccadilly Circus, you know centre of London, it takes to go to the other side of Hyde Park, it’s about 18 minutes with with Russia bike, it will take a lot longer in public transit. And yeah, so if you have your personal bank, if it hasn’t been stolen, you can go even faster. So I do believe that micro Rutaceae scooters, share bikes private bikes, they help you live within 15 minutes but just increases dramatically the rich the distance you can get them. The average distance in Paris for example, I’m just French so use that example. The average distance in Paris about three kilometre for us and it So completely when we talk to people the price in terms people are not in the industry doesn’t matter. They, it’s very hard for them to realise exactly what tricky matter because that’s not how they think. So you tell them when it’s about 2500, for now, in metro or in Cuba, by the time you get there maybe and if the connections 45 minutes. And so that’s how people think. And if you’re telling them 45 minute trip with one connection, now you can do in 20 minutes on a shared service. I mean, I’m going to see my friends, I may take a job that is further, I may have this other business meeting and business relationship face to face that wasn’t able to do so. So I really believe we are bringing good here

Carlton Reid 1:05:41
I got here from Kings Cross on a folding bike. And most of the way it’s on CS3, which is the cycle, superhighway three, which is great. But then there’s one little bit. The last, basically, last mile, in fact, is not on bike paths, and you’re on a road. But there was no cars on that road. And all of a sudden, what would have been quite an awful journey. If there are 1000s of cars on that particular busy, what would normally be think a busy stretch of road suddenly became this is great, because there are no cars or no trucks. And so I can now go on what in effect was like a dual carriageway motorway quite happily. So is that the future for cities because cities like London, you know, private motor cars are disappearing. Paris and Hidalgo with all her content, are also trying to get rid of parking spaces trying to get rid of cars. So is the future for cities going to be? It’s not the bike lanes, it’s going to be there are no cars around. And it’ll be the scooters, the bikes, the private banks, the private scooters, that’s going to take over and you’re not going to have to build bike paths. You’ve got the existing infrastructure or these beautiful roads. It’s

Henri Moissinac 1:07:02
probably the hardest question for the stakeholders and cities because they have all these conflicting messages and so on. But the reality is that a city needs infrastructure, it needs logistics, it means delivery trucks, your restaurants will be able to serve you pizza in the evening, if there is not a delivery truck in the morning, so you’re still going to have motor vehicles. And some of them are quite big to, to, for example, the delivery people. And how do you combine all these modes, the one thing I think most cities are clear on is the private ownership of cars to do small trips within cities. That doesn’t make sense. And we’ve been living for 30 years. And that’s the transition were doing it reminds them you’re talking about ecommerce is the same transition of I go to someplace to do some shopping, because I don’t I can’t just have it delivered. Or if you take, for example, email, I had to send faxes in the past and I can read over that transition takes time. But I think this transition, how they’re going to rethink the centre of cities, it’s moving really fast. I’ve been in London for 10 years, if you look at embankment used to be a kind of highway, and now look how much better so that was for sure is that to really get mobility to change, you need to have safe paths for for for people to be comfortable on their private bike or shared services. That’s really important. And so that’s why most of the time, the primary better is to get safe space. And just specifically the intersections are healthier for pedestrians and for shared services. I agree with

Carlton Reid 1:08:39
the safe space. But kind of circling back on that question. Just if you get rid of the colours, you have got that safe space. So that’s not an easy win for a legislator, get rid of the cars. Why can’t cities just get rid of the cartels?

Henri Moissinac 1:08:57
It’s really interesting to see the conflict between the stakeholders within one city so I do have a lot of respect. Take Take London for example. The people in London that built the bike lanes, they’re really Crusaders, you know, they are really trying and good for the city. But every time there is a project for a bank lien is plenty of opposition’s takes forever to convince the local residents that removing parking spots. Because if you if you remove the parking lane, you know, like it is like 50 cows that are sitting there forever moving maybe once a day, at best at best. Just move that to a bank then think about all the people that could benefit from the space. So it sounds obvious, but it seems to be extremely difficult to do. And I think it’s really important to have statistic owners are thinking about the long term and not the short and the long term is having a personal car parked in the street, not movie when you can remove dance and do a bank pain or delivery spot inside the parking spot for deliveries. So obviously they just do it.

Carlton Reid 1:10:00
Why don’t you talk before about shopping in with a scooter or with a bank, you can’t carry a sofa, you can carry lots of heavy shopping, for instance, if you do a weekly shop, so the private car still as van, that perfection, you can carry lots of stuff. So, you know, do you argue that we should get rid of cars? Because cars are actually quite useful? Maybe only sometimes, but they’re still useful. So can you argue them? So I’m basically I’m being a devil’s advocate here. So can we argue for getting rid of cars when they’re actually incredibly useful?

Henri Moissinac 1:10:41
People will adapt their usages there will always be a need for cars, for example, if you have kids, or if your luggage if you’re going very far away, I’m not saying the opposite. Yeah. And I’m thinking a lot of the things can be adapted. And the the average consumer does change their habits. You were talking about shopping on the bike and scooter, it works very well. And I mean, the best training course is EasyJet, you know, think of all the people that used to have luggage, big luggage and so on. Amanda just had a backpack. Thank you EasyJet, for training us to have a small backpack, you have your pay for luggage, the same if I spent a lot of time in the streets with users and so on. A lot of them start to carry the backpack, love them. You go to dinner or sample class, you see them they come out of the train and the hub they go off on the shuttle service, but he can’t zone the zone carrier tray anymore. They have a backpack? So yes, he I mean, life is full of possibilities. And people want to enjoy it as much as possible. You give them mobility, they do more things. And yes, if they need to carry a say I will say the bigger backpack because they want to do that. And I’m not worried. We are about creating opportunities for people.

Carlton Reid 1:11:52
Henri, thank you very much if we could give Henri Moissinac round of applause. Thank you.

Thank you and thanks to all my guests today. And thanks to you for listening to Episode 334 of the spokesmen podcast brought to you in association with Tern bicycles. Shownotes and more can be found at The next episode will feature two Swiss academics talking about a new report on the growth of cargo bikes. That’ll be out next week. Meanwhile, get out there and ride…