Category: Blog

March 24, 2023 / / Blog

24th March 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 323: Bike Advocacy Woes In Motor-mad Malta

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: James Craig Wightman

TOPICS: Flush with EU cash Malta is deepening its car dependency by building wider roads, dystopian flyovers and paying just lip service to sustainable modes of transport. Urbanist bike commuter James Craig Wightman shows Carlton Reid what it’s like to live on a tiny island that’s being eaten alive by car use.


February 21, 2023 / / Blog

21st February 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 322: Seeing Sensors With Philip and Irene McAleese

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Philip and Irene McAleese

TOPICS: Talking smart cities, road surface data and more with the cofounders of light and data company See Sense.


February 5, 2023 / / Blog

5th February 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 321: Sustainability in action: In conversation with Vaude CEO Antje von Dewitz.

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

Antje von Dewitz

GUEST: Antje von Dewitz, Managing Director, Vaude, Germany

TOPICS: Vaude was on the road to being green long before Antje von Dewitz took over the running of the company but she significantly ramped up its corporate sustainability.


Carlton Reid 0:12
Welcome to Episode 321 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Sunday, fifth to February 2023.

David Bernstein 0:27
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 1:13
I’m Carlton Reid and welcome to the 300 and 21st episode of The spokesmen podcast in which I chat with Antje von Dewitz, Managing Director of German hiking and biking company Vaude or as you will soon find out how it should be pronounced, “Faudi.”Anyway, in this 40 minute conversation, we talk about Vaude’s stellar green credentials and how sustainability is now baked into the Vaude way of doing things. Can you please tell me that the correct German pronunciation of your company name because I’m pretty sure that we get it wrong here. But just tell us how you pronounce it.

Antje von Dewitz 1:51
Okay, the correct pronouncing is “Faudi” and Vaude is the pronunciation of the two first letters of my last name von Dewitz V and D and in German, you would say Vaude? Yeah, and I’m not necessarily we don’t know how to pronounce it, because that’s a very current problem. People say also Vode and Vouder and Fouder, but the correct pronunciation is “Faudi”.

Carlton Reid 2:18
yes, thank you for that. Now now. We definitely pronounced I’m saying we hear the North American market, certainly the UK market will be pronouncing that with a with a hard v. So it’s not that so we can now pronounce your company name correctly.

Antje von Dewitz 2:37
I’m glad to hear that.

Carlton Reid 2:38
You make a tonne of stuff. So you make outdoor kit, basically. But bikes. So tell me about your bike kit and how long you’ve been making bike kit, whether it’s been you know, from from when the company was founded?

Antje von Dewitz 2:54
No, it was not when the company was founded. The company was founded in 1974. And we started out with backpacks. That was the first product backpack and climbing gear. And about 10 years later, we started with bike first product was bike pioneers, because coming from the main competence in back making backpacks, the switch to bike pioneers what’s not so far we require the same sort of competence. And we started with, with waterproof, backpacks, waterproof, on machines, so we have live production here also, in Germany, where our headquarter is for making bike pioneers, how big

Carlton Reid 3:40
is bike in the company, how bigger share is bike in amongst all of your, your outdoor range.

Antje von Dewitz 3:49
So we have a turnover at totally 150 million euro from this year from last year on and bike is is about 45% of that. So it grew really heavily in the last years. Especially so because we started out as being an outdoor company so 10 years later, we started with bike products and and especially during the last three years, the bike segment was was growing very strongly because of a new mobility, the urge of people going out outdoors also with a bike during Corona so so we are almost up to 50/50 outdoor and bike

Carlton Reid 4:30
and is that is that where it’s going? It’s that’s the growth part of your business.

Antje von Dewitz 4:35
When I said the last three years, I was not really correct because the last year especially was not so good of a bike here because I was probably in the UK also like this. There were a lot of bikes in the market and and at the same time the bikes couldn’t be sent out so there’s a lot of liquidity problem in the with the bike dealers. So and as as having bike apparel and bike pioneers and bike backpacks, this is the last, the last product and a big change. So if the bikes are not being sold, the other products are also not being sold. But I think last year was a very special year. In general, I think outdoor and bike will now grow at the same pace. Because we are in times of, of, of almost crisis every year. And in times of crisis, people go outdoors, and people tend to look for their little escapes. This is why I think bike and other people look for that at the same time plus bike is also what people are looking for in terms of a new new mobility, a new greener and more sustainable mobility. So I think both both segments will know this at the same pace.

Carlton Reid 5:57
Hmm. I have looked at your your company’s CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility report where you do say you’ve got a mobility plan. So I’ll get onto that shortly. But first of all, I’d like I mean, I have been very close to wear your bass because Jo Beckendorf, the journalist when I used to get left with him on going to and from bike, the bike shows in Friedrichshafen, he would often point out where your bass so I know you’re very rural. So you’re you’re basically you’re not far from Friedrichschafen, you’re you’re you’re near Lake Constance or Bodensee. But you’re in a very, very small village. So just describe where you are.

Antje von Dewitz 6:43
We’re close to the Lake Constance, which is this Swiss Austrian German border. So we’re in the very deep south of Germany. And when I look out of my window, which I do right now, I see the little church of our little village, where we are, we’re in in the middle of the, on the countryside, close to the Lake Constance, which is a good side, which is a bad side for a company who needs insert infrastructure. But which is a good site for a company with employees that are outdoor and bike freaks, because that’s a really beautiful part of Germany, where you have great outdoor experiences by bike where you can greatly go biking in the mountains or at the lake.

Carlton Reid 7:23
So it was founded by your father it basically in a hops barn on a farm. And then you grew from that.

Antje von Dewitz

Antje von Dewitz 7:32
That’s, that’s true. So we are now at Oba Eisenbahn. And 50 years ago, he founded the company, one smaller village, little close to here, Otter eyes and bath. And indeed, in a farmhouse, in summertime, when the hop came in, we had to take all the all the work yet the warehouse had to be cleared for the hub possible to be to be stored there. And two months later, all the products could return to the warehouse within this farm farmhouse, so that was a very special founding story that God has there.

Carlton Reid 8:12
So you’ve grown up with this company? Quite, quite literally, you’ve grown up with this company.

Antje von Dewitz 8:17
That’s true as I was two years old when the company started.

Carlton Reid 8:21
Yes, now, so let’s talk about you. So you’ve managed the company, since 2009. But describe your career before that, because you have a doctorate. And then you have a member of all of these incredible German sustainable business associations are all that the sustainability stuff that we’re going to be talking about, is very much embedded in your corporate DNA for you personally. So tell us a little bit about you and where you’ve come from, from that two year old girl who saw the company founded and how you’ve, you’ve grown into the company.

Antje von Dewitz 8:58
Yeah, I think part of the story and part of understanding my my way of life is growing up here at the village site. We were kind of an outsider, or I felt like it’s growing up, because it’s very rural countryside. And the farmers here don’t at that time, they looked quite critical at entrepreneurs. So growing up to be not a farmer’s daughter but a daughter of an entrepreneur. Was was strange, the people to me and in the class were saying, oh, probably he exploits people, he exploited probably children to grow his business. And I grew up to know that confidence. That trust is something you have to earn trust you can earn by transparency, and to lead a company you have to earn trust in order to feel good. And in order to earn trust, everything has to be alright. Word wild. And this is something that that never left my mind. And when I grew up and I didn’t want to overtake the company I firstly, I wanted to work in NGOs like Greenpeace or WWF. To take, take responsibility in keeping this planet a livable planet. And so it was a surprise for me when my last traineeship that I did, after a lot of traineeships within NGOs and media and in all sorts of organisations, and my last traineeship, during my studies was at Foudy and it hit me like a surprise that if I wanted to overtake responsibility for a livable planet, then I I’m here at the right spot, with a broad set of responsibilities not only in making the products but also in caring for the working conditions about worldwide and caring for the working conditions here at the headquarter in overtaking responsibility in the whole supply chain and in also politically as an enterprise. So, so that’s, that’s why that’s why I ended up in the country in the company of my father, which also benefited me very, very well because I’m a very enthusiastic outdoor lover.

Carlton Reid 11:26
What kind of stuff What what are you what are you doing outdoors?

Antje von Dewitz 11:30
I, I bike, and I hike, I love long distance. So for example, last last year, when I turned 50, my birthday present to myself was a three year three month a three month hike through the Alps, with with my backpack and going from heart to heart every day, 1000 metres height and 15 kilometres distance for so total, I was I walked 4100 kilometre and 60,000 metres in height. So that’s, that’s something I love.

Carlton Reid 12:13
And use it obviously all of your own products.

Antje von Dewitz 12:17
Yes, I use not all of them, but I really love to use them. I love to have them in. In practice, yes.

Carlton Reid 12:25
Okay, now, so 2009 When you came in and started managing the company, and then did you start straight away at making the company climate neutral. So it took until 2012. When when you got there, and then you’ve been a Climate Neutral worldwide since 2022. Last year. But describe how what you had to do when you joined the company to make that switch.

Antje von Dewitz 12:54
When I joined the company that was directly after my studies in 1998, I first worked in marketing and I firstly i i was the product manager for for new bags for modern bags and packs. So that’s the part where I started it. And when I overtook the company, that was in 2009, as you just mentioned, so that was much later. And I already knew a lot about Saudi and the way of our day. And so I was not the one that introduced sustainability to God, we had a long history already. And we had the history that we had and great, great singular proud projects. For example, we had a whole collection made out of mono material, and a whole network of industry partners that could first of all, take the returned one goods of this mono material collection, and then turn it into new products. So we had a closed loop recycling. But when when we looked at it when I overtook the company, and my my biggest goal was to turn this company totally into a green direction. We said okay, this way was not successful. The singular products had a lot of effort for us produce a lot of effort for us producers, a lot of work a lot of cost, but we didn’t get back so many use products. So the closed loop never really closed. And for me, I was very convinced that if we want to go a greenway if we want to overtake responsibility holistically, it would not be the answer to do this in one project and another project but we would have to do this totally entirely. So we started out with analysing Where is where we have responsibility and where should we where should we act? And we found out that we have two different ways. Two different points where we should overtake responsibility One is here at the headquarter at Foday, here at the South in Germany, and the other one is in the entire product cycle. So when we started out here at the headquarter so where we were our business unity is where meanwhile 650 employees work. And that was at a time in 2009 when the consciousness for sustainability was not very high, very high neither at our with our dealers or clients, or customers nor here at the headquarter with our employees, they were very sceptical because they saw the more work bureaucracy that would that was growing with sustainable work and, and they were not sure if this was more than a marketing idea. So there was a lot of scepticism. So we started out by a few things in the beginning, turning the coffee to fair trade coffee, or finally get a grip on on the real, the garbled, how to collect the garbage here, and stuff like that. And at the same time, we started out with emails, emails as the European management team, how to how to collect and measure all the emissions that you have all the emissions and consumptions that you use at the headquarter, so all electricity, oil, stuff like that, and, and we measure this day by day by day for the entire year. And then we were able to find out, okay, where do we have the greatest emissions at the headquarter and then we began programmes to cut them down. So we changed our energy to, to renewable energy we had, we have the whole roof of full with photos with solar panels. We cut down on our catalogue with the paper catalogue at that time was the most important marketing tool that we had. And but we saw that this is also the second biggest source of emissions. So we cut we cut that turned only to digital versions. And every use of paper was from then on in 100% recycled paper. And we found out that mobility is the third biggest cause here of emissions. So we created a whole mobility programme, where the best parking lots are not for the people of the management. But for the people that share their car, for example, we got ourselves a pattern, a whole bunch of E bikes to lend out to our employees so that they could use the bike to come to work and created showers so that they get a shower and they come with a bike and stuff like that, to get people to make people consider a choice not to come with a single car but to come by bike to come by bus to share cars. And so we cut down dramatically on these emissions from from ability to and in 2012. When we cut down I think by 70% of all emissions at the whole headquarter. We decided okay, from that point on, we will still work on emissions but at the same time, we will also compensate so that that means that since 2012, we are Climate Neutral at our headquarter.

Carlton Reid 18:19
You pay for offsetting?

Antje von Dewitz 18:22
Yeah, that’s right. We pay for offsetting we, we have a partner my climate and that means that all the emissions that at the headquarter we cannot, we cannot prevent. They are. They are turned into into monies. And we spent money on projects or climate friendly projects. But this is only the headquarter and then the biggest part was in the product cycle.

Carlton Reid 18:49
That’s good. Because the product cycle isn’t, you know, you make some stuff in southern Germany, but the bulk of your stuff is made in mostly in Vietnam. So, right, how tough is it to green, the supply side of your business? So?

Antje von Dewitz 19:07
Yeah, it’s, it’s a huge task. It was it was an even huger task in 2009. That was why it was so important also, to have the whole team behind this idea. It was very important for us to show it at our headquarter that we really mean it seriously and that it’s good that it feels like live quality to support sustainability. So stuff like the green mobility concept at our headquarter was strategically important to get our team on track and to fight for this idea of sustainability worldwide. Because this was a real big transformation process that we had to start on. We even though at that time in 2009, we were a rather small company with 50 million euro turnover. We still had a huge complexity. We had about 65 production sites we work with, we had about 150 materials suppliers we work with, and our task force, our self chosen task was to transform all of them, we created an own label, green shape. And that is until today, like metal label, that means only in terms of materials, only certified materials and the highest standards can approve to be green shape. And in order to get to the certifications, like blue sign, for example, we had to ask our all of our suppliers to please audit in terms of blue sign, which is quite expensive when audit costs 20,000 euros per year, and then you have to act on all the findings. And we were a rather small, small brand, that means they didn’t make the big business with us. So in the beginning, it seemed like to be a really, really big task. And many of the production side sets etc. once said to us, that they wouldn’t do this for us this was too much work, or they said okay, we do this for you, you pay the money. So we and so it was a difficult task on that one cent and one hand to turn them to to convince them and the outside and it was a difficult task on the inside. Because for our product manager, the task of Product Management totally changed. Before that time, they could just choose any material and they can just choose any design. Now, in order to follow green shape, they have to start the design by showing that the design they have chosen is recyclable is is able to be repaired, then they have to choose the material. And in the beginning, they said okay, but we only have three materials that are anthracite fabric, do you want to make us You want us to make products from just three different fabrics? That’s not impossible, it’s impossible. And they said, it’s the sales team says very clearly to us, it cannot cost more because the consumer is not willing to pay more for sustainable, but it costs so much more. How can we ever solve this. So it was very, very difficult to get a grip on how to deal with these existential conflicting targets. But we made it step by step.

Carlton Reid 22:22
No change in that consumers, it’s now a selling point. So this this green shape, your label is now something you can use to actually earn more money because you can sell more products because you are a greener company. Is that something that you now see consumers coming to you

Antje von Dewitz 22:40
for? Yes, I see two points I’ll come to the consumer in a second. First is that that the start was very difficult and it’s still difficult, but in the beginning it felt like okay, we will never be innovative because we have such a huge mountain of work to go step by step and this has changed completely our our very strong focus on sustainability has become an innovation pusher. We now make pipe pioneers from from a plastic garbage we make functional apparel, from recycled tires and so on and so on. We really this this has has been an enormous pusher on innovation innovation for us. And for the consumer. In the beginning, we always heard the consumer doesn’t ask for that. And it was slowly slowly changing step by step it was changing. And now especially in the especially when the Friday’s for future where we coming something of a thing, the conscious the global, the European consciousness was rising very highly in the end the the will to overtake responsibility as a consumer was was you can you could feel it that there was no more interest. And and now in terms of Corona again. So and and the more the global crisis, different global crisis are being evident for consumers out there, the more the the willingness to, to first of all overtake responsibility for themselves in their consumption. And secondly, also to pay a little bit more for that is rising, you can really feel it. So it helps us a lot to be recognised as a very sustainable brand and to picture have a have a credibility as a sustainability, T brand. That helps us a lot to to to always grow stronger than the rest of the market.

Carlton Reid 24:43
I’m gonna interrupt Antje there and go across to my colleague David for a quick commercial break.

David Bernstein 24:48
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 EFBE, 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 ones 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 25:58
Thanks, David. And let’s get back to Antje of Vaude. So green shape is your own certification label that you use. But then yes. If then you go green button, which is a that’s a national scheme. Yes, fabrics, the National diamond scheme for fabrics then you’ve got when you’ve mentioned my climate before, which is a Swiss certification scheme. And then you’re also a member or you get certification from fair wear. So that’s like, you know, fair trade almost making sure that the your your supply chain is the practices are, are good practices. So just describe how those certification schemes fit into your business.

Antje von Dewitz 26:51
Okay, as you just mentioned, green shape is our own, it’s like a metal label, which is, which is, I think the highest standard that is any certification out there any standard out there, because it’s very broad and very, very deep. What in order to become a green shape product, and almost 90% of our whole product is in green shape, in has green shape label. And when three years ago, the German government said they want to also make a metal label the green button, we got green shape recognised as, as, as being. So every product that we have that has the green shape label automatically gets the green button label of the German government because our it’s stricter than, than the green button. So that does that. And you mentioned fair aware, fair wear is also included in green shave. So all of our products are farewell products, that means all of our productions 100% Our audit are being audited by by in terms of green affair where so that’s that’s that’s the very strictest labour or standard for working conditions worldwide in the textile industry. So if you look for fair products, you have to look for fair wear

Carlton Reid 28:28
textile production, no, no sweatshops, that kind of thing.

Antje von Dewitz 28:31
No sweatshops? No, no, don’t children, no work of children. They are in fair where you have to fight for existential wages, that means wages that that, that you can not only minimum wages, but living wages, wages that help people to really survive with the family and not to send the children to work but send the children to school, that that make it possible to have a lot of real life with a family. So that’s much higher than just minimum wages. And that’s something that every every brand that is part of fair wear has to work for to really reach this. So it’s a very strict and and good standard, because it’s a continuous work in progress that you have to prove year by year through the out audits and other also through the audit for your own company. So we are audited every year. You have to prove that you really give the best and you really put a lot of effort and in supporting all the companies the production sites to make to create good working conditions to you can

Carlton Reid 29:47
be more profitable if you didn’t aspire to the standards if you didn’t have the fair wear. If you didn’t have to meet those, those those criteria. You could in more money.

Antje von Dewitz 30:02
Yes, that’s that’s rather strange, isn’t it, it’s much more difficult and much more expensive to overtake responsibility than not to do it. That’s a strange road we’re in. But it’s true. But from an economical point of view, it’s still it’s still worth to, to follow this sustainable path. Because it helps your brand image, it helps to really focus on a good way. It convinces your own team that they’re working for purpose. So it helps you to get to get good team members of your own team, it helps you to sell your products more and more. So it helped, it helped us to grow stronger to be a really strong brand and a strong company. And but at the same time, we needed this growth in order to finance the transformation, which costs so much. So.

Carlton Reid 31:06
So going back to your your, your very, very beautiful rural location, on your online on your website, on four, you’ve got a specialist website, just on your CSR, your corporate social responsibility. It says I’m quoting here, due to our rural location, most employees have to commute longer distances to work. Now, we can’t force anyone to give up their car. But we can provide incentives. So what are those incentives?

Antje von Dewitz 31:40
The incentives is I mentioned that before a little bit. The incentives are not fun of a financial thought. But they are the best parking spots for people who share their cars, for example. So we, in eight years ago, we just sort of made 60 parking spots disappear. And made in the inner circle of our of our campus here, where we have our company, there is now a green area with a climbing wall and No, no 60 parking spots. So we have not so many parking spots here. So park a parking spot something really valuable, you have to walk a long distance from from another place to here, if you come late in the in the day, so a close close to the company parking spot is something very valuable, the best parking spots are for the people that share their car. So that is an incentive. And an incentive not to take your own car is when you come by you can you can without cost you can lend the bike here from us with with E motor so you can get over the hills, it’s very hilly region and get here then you can shower here, you can you have a parking spot, close to the company under the roof to park your own bike. And we have also you can also acquire a bike very, very cheaply. Because we have connections and you can use the connections together to to own a bike by yourself. So we help people to get good bikes, and to ride the bike. And it’s become some sort of a social incentive to because here are a lot of bikers. And it’s sort of the status of your bike here. And not so much the office status if you have a big car. And we also have some sort of mobility lotto, so every week with the help of a coincidence generator, somebody is chosen. And he is he or she is asked Oh, so how did you come to work today. And then if if it’s in a sustainable way by bike or by bus or whatsoever, he gets a nice price and a nice award. And is and it’s shown in our intranet with a nice picture in a winning pose. So it helps to keep the the topic of green mobility in everybody’s mind. And it helps to get get out little incentives to to make people think about or change their way of coming to work.

Carlton Reid 34:26
Because that’s slightly easier. If you were in an urban location you you’d have lots of bike paths, you’d have lots of buses and trams and all sorts of you know what Europeans come to expect, but you’re not in an urban location. You’re out in the farmland. So that must be tougher for you than it would be for if you were in in a large city.

Antje von Dewitz 34:47
You know, that is true because in the beginning, we didn’t even have a bus stop here. So no buses were were coming to our countryside. So we also had to lobby and to cooperate with The local bus provider and the city and the country to to make it possible that we have a bus that is coming here to the company. So I guess you have other tasks or tasks in first of infrastructural nature, if you’re a company that is sustainable in the countryside, because there is not often not a lot of infrastructure here, we have to provide

Carlton Reid 35:22
infrastructure, you had to have bike paths close to your place.

Antje von Dewitz 35:25
And now since I think five years, we have bypassed Yes.

Carlton Reid 35:31
And was that because where you’re situated, so the municipality or the locality put these bike paths in? Because you were lobbying for this? Or they’re just putting these in? In general? No,

Antje von Dewitz 35:44
that was part of a bigger plan. So we were just very happy that we finally got them.

Carlton Reid 35:51
Right. Okay. Now, so that’s, that’s, that’s the travel that you can, you can sort of almost control but business travel is much more difficult to control because obviously, if you’ve got to, you know, plants, you’re having to fly to Vietnam, etc. But talk about your, your policy, because on the CSA report, it talks about how, you know, car travel, you know, cannot be made by car, if it’s over 400 kilometres, and then if it’s, you know, 600 kilometres, and, you know, you’re not going to fly, you’re gonna go by train, especially within Germany, Switzerland, or Austria. So how do you police that

Antje von Dewitz 36:36
it’s, it’s a, it has become a rule that we won’t take a plane within Germany, or the German speaking countries, we all take the train, and how, how did we manage everybody to go on this check, by taking this route very seriously, for the whole management team, so I don’t take the plane, I take the I take the train to Berlin, and that’s, that’s the travel of about eight hours from here. And we just got very used to use this time very efficiently, we work in the in the train, we have very normal business meetings in the train, and it has become, it has become sort of a normal situation for for all of us, you have to understand that for us. Since since last year, we are climate neutral in the, for the whole for everything worldwide that we do, that doesn’t mean that we have with that we managed to get all emissions down to zero, but we are working on this very, very heavily according to the science based targets, and the rest that we cannot prevent, we compensate. But that means that every emission counts for us and and we take this so seriously, because we understand we understand the serious situation of the climate change. And we we the whole team is very often talking about it, we talk about the crisis that is out there, of the of the very serious situation, we are really dedicated to keep this planet alive for our children and in the coming generations. So every time we can overtake responsibility, it is clear that we do this, it’s it’s just become normal. And it’s sort of observed that we would take a plane if we can take a train. So so with the same with the same with the same responsible approach, it is very clear that that we have a canteen here that serves vegetarian food, okay, we have one day left where we where we eat meat, but the rest of the days are a vegetarian, because this is something where we can act where we can to overtake responsibility to not to cut down on emissions. And I think it’s still it’s still I make it probably sound too easy because this has been a transformation process for us to in mobility and in eating. But it’s for our day and for the whole team of our day. Everybody understands it that it’s clear a clear step of our day because it makes so much sense because we’re dedicated to sustainability but dedicated to keeping this workplace this world a wonderful place. So everybody is like okay, we understand it’s still not easy. We still sometimes hate it, but we understand. So that makes transformation process within the company easier.

Carlton Reid 39:39
Because you’re you have very strict policies that appears on on a business travel trip. You should only get a taxi for instance, if there’s a few of you and there’s only a certain distance you can go in and a taxi and then you’re meant to be using Bike Share, Scooter share whatever in cities, so that’s embedded in your mobility policy, the fact that when you go somewhere on business travel, you’ve still got to travel in a sustainable fashion.

Antje von Dewitz 40:12
Yes, that’s true. Yeah. And I never take a taxi, I always take the subway or walk. When I when I get into town, that is the end that also has become normal. Because it’s a normal for you.

Carlton Reid 40:30
But what about people coming into the company that where they get, you know, expense accounts where they will track fly everywhere, they’ll get taxes everywhere? Is that strange for other people? Are you changing people? How do people who are coming into your company, look at your policies,

Antje von Dewitz 40:50
and it was more difficult for the people who who already have been at the company because for them, it has been a trend transformation process they had to do. There was a lot of discussion why they should now not take plane anymore, or why they shouldn’t take a taxi or whatever. For people that come into Fody that come newly into voting for them. It’s they have chosen Foudy as their favourite employer because we follow values that they support. So it’s much easier with new employees that have chosen us very consciously than it was in the beginning to change policy for the people that already worked here.

Carlton Reid 41:28
Thanks to Anjou von Dewitz of Vaude there and thanks to you for listening to episode 321 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 chat with another inspirational business woman but meanwhile get out there and ride.

January 25, 2023 / / Blog

25th January 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 320: Get SUVs Off Our Streets: In Conversation with Critical Mass musician Dan Abrahams

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Dan Abrahams

TOPICS: Musician Dan Abrahams has written a couple of jaunty protest songs, one about oversized cars and another about getting around safely by bike. Both are accompanied by great videos, one of which stars a young girl riding her bike, alone, in Edinburgh before being joined by Critical Mass riders.


Dan Abrahams Music

Bikes for Refugees, Scotland

The Spokesmen, Brussels episode


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 320 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Wednesday 25th of January 2023.

David Bernstein 0:27
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.tern That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:03
I’m Carlton Reid. And welcome to the 320th episode of the spokesmen podcast in which I chat this episode with Dan Abrahams. Dan is one of those loosely involved with Edinburgh’s critical mass. And he’s also a musician who has recently written a couple of jaunty protest songs that I think will resonate with the audience of a cycling podcast. Both are accompanied by great videos, one of which stars a young girl riding her bike alone in Edinburgh, before being joined by Critical Mass riders.

Carlton Reid 1:44
Dan, thanks for talking to me. You’ve got a new video out today. So let’s talk about that first, I’m sure saying that that’s probably the thing that’s fresh in your mind. So you’ve given quite a few car brands, some plugs? There haven’t been

Carlton Reid 2:02
any idea? Yeah, I was expecting a few more, you know, Aston Martin or whatever. So

Carlton Reid 2:07
why pick on those? I mean,

Dan Abrahams 2:11

mean, I’ve got to be honest.

Dan Abrahams 2:15
I think there’s way too many big cars as I put them, but I think when I when I say that I think people understand what I mean, you know, the kind of fuge city four by fours SUVs, which are just so enormous physically. And also, you know, the engines are so powerful, they have absolutely no place in a city, probably even in the countryside. You know, they’re not that they’re not designed to work on farms. They’ve just been designed as luxury cars. And I think they shouldn’t be allowed. And I think it’s ridiculous that people

Dan Abrahams 2:48
are charging downtown in them. They’re so dangerous, like, you know, kids are literally obscured. You know, when you when you put a kid in front of, you know, the bonnet of one of these cars,

Dan Abrahams 3:03
the person at the front cannot see that kid. They’re so big.

Dan Abrahams 3:08
And this song is just basically to poke fun at them, you know, and, and the choice of the brands is kind of more to do with rhyming than to do with any particularly bad brand. You know, they’re all just as bad as each other. They just want to sell expensive cars. So yeah, the choice of the brands is purely just for alliteration and rhyming.

Carlton Reid 3:33
See, you’re in Edinburgh. Yeah. And I believe Edinburgh. On the TomTom index is basically every single year it winds up being the most congested city.

Dan Abrahams 3:44
Is that right? I didn’t, I didn’t know that.

Carlton Reid 3:47
Yes, Edinburgh is the most congested city in the UK year after year after year. In the TomTom index, I’m TomTom is using you know,

Carlton Reid 3:56
sat nav data, right. So this is not like, you know, people standing up on the side of the street. This is your genuine, you know, computer from computer data, right.

Carlton Reid 4:08
So you’re living in the kind of city where you cars aren’t gonna go very fast anyway. Yeah, the city centre. So yeah, there is no point having these big things and perhaps even big cars are part of the reason why there might be congestion.

Dan Abrahams 4:21
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I am surprised that I’m surprised the TomTom index hasn’t been surpassed by Google Maps index. But yeah, that doesn’t really surprise me. Edinburgh is really bad for congestion.

Dan Abrahams 4:35
I mean, I guess I’m quite surprised that London is not at the top but I guess it’s kind of when you think about Greater London maybe that makes sense. But yeah, in the middle of Edinburgh

Dan Abrahams 4:46
it’s it’s crazy especially like the road which is just off for my road. It’s kind of the route into Edinburgh from the south. And you know, it’s it’s kind of four lanes chock a block because

Dan Abrahams 5:00
You’ve got the two lanes of parked cars on either side. And then yeah it’s just chock a down this major shopping street actually, with people trying to like you know, go about do their local shop. It says chocca with cars and yeah, a lot of big cars.

Carlton Reid 5:15
Hmm. But then you also have a very good and I suppose I don’t you told me was very good the tram system which is relatively new

Dan Abrahams 5:23
the tram system basically takes you currently from the airport to the middle of town. So that’s the main to use a bit like it does serve some areas of Edinburgh but effectively it’s a kind of airport shuttle

Dan Abrahams 5:39
which there is also a bus shuttle to the airport which is faster and cheaper than the tram.

Dan Abrahams 5:45
But the tram extension which probably you’ve heard about, it’s kind of been like an ongoing fiasco is because due to open in the new year, that will be that will be really good because it will go then from the centre of town to the north to the shore through Leith. And when that’s opened, it should be really good and

Dan Abrahams 6:08
should be really good thing for the people in Leith who’ve been suffering the tram works for like

Dan Abrahams 6:13
10 years or something ridiculous.

Dan Abrahams 6:16
And with that, there’s also a bike lane going down. Leith, which at least is like the big region in the north of Edinburgh. And there’s a big bike lane going down there. And it’s got its faults. There’s lampposts in the middle of it. There’s ridiculously tight turns and kind of crashes with pedestrian areas. But still, it’s a bike lane.

Dan Abrahams 6:39
Which is, which is good. So yeah, there’s there’s positive things happening.

Dan Abrahams 6:44
There’s other bike lanes being made. But the pace of change is

Dan Abrahams 6:50
beyond slow. It’s kind of you know, all these parties have been elected in last May, the council, the council, the parties, which had the most votes, were all parties, which said, we want to have more active travel, we want to make infrastructure to enable active travel.

Dan Abrahams 7:08
Yeah, the convener of the transport convener, and the council is saying stuff, like, we’re gonna have a plan by the end of the year. And we’re thinking, you’re gonna have a plan by the end of the year. So if it takes six months to make a plan, and your you know, your term is four years, then you know, what hope do we have to get these things built?

Carlton Reid 7:32
And then you are it is there such a thing as the organiser of critical mass in Edinburgh, because of course, there are no organisers. But I, I really want the people involved in critical mass in Edinburgh put it that way.

Dan Abrahams 7:48
Yes, I’m involved. And I think, actually, you know,

Dan Abrahams 7:53
at the start, we kind of came under some criticism from some people for, like you say, basically organising it, you know, I think critical mass and Edinburgh at the start was,

Dan Abrahams 8:05
well, many years ago, it was like you say it was a kind of spontaneous thing with no official organisers. And it was on the last Friday of every month at, I think 5pm. So pen of peak traffic time, Pete kind of this is going to piss off car drivers time. And when we restarted it two years ago, we decided to make it on a Saturday at 2pm to make it family friendly, to make it a bit less antagonistic against car drivers,

Dan Abrahams 8:37
and became under fire from that there’s some people who saying that’s not critical mass. And, you know, we were doing we started social media stuff. And we were kind of organising it and publicising the route before, to make it accessible to people so that they can join midway, they could know how long it’s gonna take, wherever they’re going to manage it. People are saying that’s not in the spirit of critical mass, it’s meant to be spontaneous. But our view is like,

Dan Abrahams 9:03
we think this is a really effective way of showing the support for cycling, which exists, but it’s kind of silent because people, you know, too scared to get on their bike, or, you know, they’re just the silent majority who wants more bike infrastructure, but, you know, they’re not making a fuss about it.

Carlton Reid 9:21
And isn’t it more almost more of a kiddical mass in that case? Because Kiddical Mass is almost based on that, you know, publicising the route, obviously having lots of kids there, because that that will be the name.

Dan Abrahams 9:36
Yeah, I mean, we’ve done we’ve done a couple of critical masses as well. Now. Yeah, maybe it’s more like that. But I guess the point is that we don’t really

Dan Abrahams 9:44
we’re not really mind what the tradition of Critical Mass is, like, we respect that. There’s been like a long history of like people making great protests, but what we wanted to focus on is to be about making accessible and getting people to come and get him not

Dan Abrahams 10:00
Just the usual white middle aged males to come, but to get like people of all types to come and feel welcome and feel safe,

Dan Abrahams 10:08
you know to do that ride, which is and feel safe to doing that, you know, rather than in

Carlton Reid 10:16
the bike video Yeah. Which is where where I found you from your sister.

Carlton Reid 10:23
Was that shot on a critical mass? Or did you just do that on a different day? Yeah, you did that. Yeah. So

Dan Abrahams 10:33
that’s the kind of like that video is a total sort of smashing together of my music life and my sort of bike activism life. And

Dan Abrahams 10:45
my, my friend,

Dan Abrahams 10:49
who’s a big cycle campaigner, his daughter and their family agreed to take part in the video. And they had this idea that

Dan Abrahams 11:00
it would be her riding around the streets of Edinburgh, and you know, being really scared that it’s not safe to cycle of course, it’s not safe for an 18 year old to cycle by themselves in Edinburgh. But it’s something which people doing in Amsterdam, or in Holland, and then slowly more and more people would join her. So basically what we did was on the day, the day before critical mass, we filmed the kind of solo shots of the girl riding around Edinburgh. Then on the morning of critical mass. I got a few pals together and we shot the scenes were kind of a trickle of other cyclists start to join her. And then yeah, at the start of the critical mass ride we basically did a shout out and said

Dan Abrahams 11:42
Hey, everybody, we will want to you know film some shots please let us know if you don’t want to be in the shots are kind of go to the back of the critical mass. And we’re just going to do a few few shots. So basically, we are the little girl came to the front of the credit commerce and I was on like a Tern bike riding right in front of the critical mass and the cameraman was sitting on the back of the Tern back facing backwards towards the critical mass of

Carlton Reid 12:07
GSD. Is that the type of Tern bike?

Carlton Reid 12:12
it’s the it’s probably the most popular one. It’s like the electric cargo bikes. Electric wave. Yeah, like all sorts of fittings on the back.

Dan Abrahams 12:21
Yeah, it was basically like a kind of bench on the back. And it was like, Orange. Yeah, I don’t know what the name was. Yeah, but really cool bike anyway. And cool organisation called bikes for refugees and Edinburgh. Lent that to me because they had that

Dan Abrahams 12:38

Dan Abrahams 12:39
And they bikes refugees is an organisation Edinburgh who takes like old disused bikes and fixes them up for refugees to donate to.

Carlton Reid 12:51
So then you spliced it all together?

Dan Abrahams 12:54
That’s fine. Yeah, splice it together. And then part of the narrative was the kind of the girl going to Amsterdam and discovering what cycling could be like, in a kind of ideal world. And

Dan Abrahams 13:10
that obviously was going to be very expensive to to do in film. So I

Dan Abrahams 13:18
got an animator to kind of realise those sections.

Carlton Reid 13:23
Because that means the same animator, presumably who’s done the car. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, yeah.

Carlton Reid 13:30
And then

Carlton Reid 13:32
what do you do with the films apart from putting on YouTube? Because I’ve seen them on what how do you physically promote them? How do you get them out there?

Dan Abrahams 13:40
It’s a great question.

Dan Abrahams 13:44
I am just doing my best to get them seen by as many people as possible. And for me, that’s been social media and

Dan Abrahams 13:55
you know, kind of sending them round bicycle organisations hoping that they might share them cycling UK

Dan Abrahams 14:03
shared our streets video. And

Dan Abrahams 14:07
I employed a PR company to help me with the streets video, but I’m afraid to say they didn’t have much success, for whatever reason. But I really want

Dan Abrahams 14:19
you know, more than the usual, like cycling campaigning group to see them, you know, the idea is that they can have catchy pop songs, and people might come across them who are not into cycling, and they might actually get hooked by the music first, and then then the message kind of hit afterwards, you know?

Carlton Reid 14:41
Yes. And then tell me about your music. So how are you?

Carlton Reid 14:49
How are you? You said you’re, you’re merging the two lives together there. But tell me about your music part of your or your life there. Yeah.

Dan Abrahams 14:58
So I mean, you mean more

Dan Abrahams 15:00
Generally or specifically for the songs,

Carlton Reid 15:03
generally so so so we’ll just Yeah. The second part. So talk about the music part. So

Dan Abrahams 15:12
I mean, I was an engineer for about 10 years and

Dan Abrahams 15:18
working for a company who was doing kind of sustainable technology stuff. So it was like we worked on a wind turbine, and then we’re working on some hybrid vehicles and

Dan Abrahams 15:27
the music was always on the side. And then this year, for many reasons, I decided to kind of take the plunge and do music. And my music in Edinburgh is a mixture of stuff apart from the cycling songs, which is kind of like a kind of one off special thing. I play in folk bands. So I have a group called Dowally who we make, we make music

Dan Abrahams 15:56
in the kind of traditional Celtic vein, but we were kind of more progressive, modern, kind of feel. And we do a lot of stuff for archive films. I also have a band called Wayward Jane who play more like old time Americana music of banjo and fiddle and double bass. And then I also play jazz soul have a band called the Foo Birds who do that kind of thing. So it’s, it’s a real mix of stuff. And the cycling songs is kind of

Dan Abrahams 16:26
I knew that my bands wouldn’t probably be into that. So I kind of decided to do that as, as myself as Dan, Abrahams, which is kind of a first for me.

Carlton Reid 16:36
Now, you’re not from Edinburgh?

Dan Abrahams 16:37
No, I’m from originally from Sheffield. Yeah. Yes. Yes.

Carlton Reid 16:41
So how can you remember was it through that job that you had described before with uni?

Dan Abrahams 16:45
And then the job? Yeah. Alright. Okay. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 16:48
Because the the video the streets video?

Carlton Reid 16:51
Yes, it’s very Edinburgh based. But it can be any city that that it’s not, it hasn’t. It’s not like grounding it completely. Only in Edinburgh. Is it?

Dan Abrahams 17:01
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I think that’s the idea that anyone could could could feel like, you know, that looks like my city totally unsafe to cycling. And, you know, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all you know, cycle mass together and, and live with less cars. And that that was the idea behind the section right at the end of the video, where you basically see critical masses from right around the world, which is the idea was to kind of zoom out and be like, this is a worldwide movement. You know, there’s stuff going on right around the world, in Africa, in South America. And I didn’t manage to get any footage in Asia. And for now, it’s not true. There was some in Nepal. And, and, and Europe as well. So.

Dan Abrahams 17:48
So yeah, that was yeah, I hoped I hoped. I think, I think that was that was cool. Because I think, you know, it kind of it spoke to people, you know, right across the globe, which was really nice.

Carlton Reid 18:01
If you go back to, you mentioned that there was a bit of conflict there between how you’re organising your critical mass, and how traditionally, it’s organised, you know, last Friday of the month, yeah.

Carlton Reid 18:16
Bang on, yeah, commute time, which is kind of, you know, the raison d’etre. But if you’re doing it when you’re doing it, that doesn’t stop somebody else doing it at the quotation marks here the traditional time. So could you have two critical masses? In Edinburgh?

Dan Abrahams 18:33
I mean, you probably could, but I mean, do you know

Dan Abrahams 18:39
getting these things organised this? You know, it takes the we’ve got quite a lot of people involved, you know, designing the flyers, printing the flyers, putting them up and doing social media, you know, organising stewards first aid. You know, we don’t sort of like, we don’t take it lightly to sort of do things well and safely. So

Dan Abrahams 19:03
if people were up for organising your Friday one, they’d be welcome to and, but, you know, I guess they need to find the people to

Dan Abrahams 19:12
do that.

Dan Abrahams 19:14
And I guess there’s a good thing about consistency is like people know that it’s going to be at that time in that place. They know that they can always turn up and how many really getting their done. We’re getting about 250 a month.

Carlton Reid 19:27
That’s really good.

Dan Abrahams 19:28
I think it’s good. Yeah, I mean, we kind of our benchmark is Brussels, just because

Dan Abrahams 19:35
right at the start we were in touch with some of the people involved in critical mass Brussels and they gave us some tips and advice, and they’re getting 1000s of people at their ride. So you know, when you compare yourself to that, then 250 Doesn’t seem amazing, but when you’re on the road, it feels great, you know?

Dan Abrahams 19:54
Huh, because I mean, that comes across in the video how it’s like it’s liberating to be on it

Dan Abrahams 20:00
And people say that, you know, exactly people say that when they’re on the ride, it’s like, it’s like, wow, this is what our roads could be like, This feels amazing to be on my road, because it’s my road as well as the car drivers roads, but, but I feel totally safe, you know, and we’re, we’re playing music and loudspeakers, you’re chatting to people, you know, meeting new people, there’s people who’ve borrowed bikes to come on the ride, and they’ve come off the ride. Having like, three offers of bikes, like they, you know, they go on the ride, and someone saying, I had to borrow a bike to go home, I don’t have a bicycle. By the end of the ride. Multiple people have said, I’ve got a spare bike, you can have it, you know, so it’s like, I know, there’s a big cycling community on like Twitter and stuff, but it’s actually great to have the cycling community meet once a month in person, and, you know, chat to each other.

Carlton Reid 20:52
There is I mean, Edinburgh is one of those cities with just that does have a very active cycle campaign.

Carlton Reid 21:02
Outfit team organisation, one of you and I call it your spokes.

Dan Abrahams 21:05
it does many, many. Yeah, it does a fantastic. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 21:10
So is there any meshing there between you and spokes?

Dan Abrahams 21:14
There is, I mean, spokes are great, they always share. Like, they always like, kind of promote our rides, and they sometimes come at the start of the ride to kind of sell their maps, they have these amazing maps of like, cycling routes, and Edinburgh.

Dan Abrahams 21:33
And also, you know, I think it’s just,

Dan Abrahams 21:36
there’s a really good synergy between organisations, like spokes, who do the really hard, laborious work of like going to council meetings to give deputations and, you know, meeting with counsellors and doing that kind of behind the scenes work that has a good synergy with critical mass, which is the kind of like,

Dan Abrahams 22:00
let’s be on the street, having a physical presence, you know, having showing the counsellors that look, what are the cyclists who want to be riding on the roads, if only it was safe to do so.

Dan Abrahams 22:12
In your face? Yeah. minor thing.

Carlton Reid 22:16
So tell me about your any future projects. And that way, you’re going to merge these two, you know, the Dan Abrahams two worlds. So you’ve got big car out today?

Dan Abrahams 22:27
Yes, big streets was three months ago. So

Dan Abrahams 22:32
ideas for projects, I’m sad to say that, that’s, that’s the kind of

Dan Abrahams 22:40
the kind of that’s the kind of cycling songs for the moment.

Dan Abrahams 22:46
I’ve had some people get in touch saying that they’d be interested in collaborating to do some more cycling songs. So definitely, that’s possible in the future, but actually, I’m going to be releasing some more sort of Dan Abrahams and his emotions songs. So less cycling more sort of,

Dan Abrahams 23:07
you know,

Dan Abrahams 23:09
just about, you know,

Dan Abrahams 23:12
love life and that kind of thing. So, maybe less interesting for the cycling community. But, but, you know,

Dan Abrahams 23:21
hopefully, people will like that music too.

Carlton Reid 23:24
Okay. And tell us about how you got into cycling, because your sister won’t mention her full back.

Carlton Reid 23:34
Now. I’m just thinking when I was speaking to your sister, and

Carlton Reid 23:38
then she was in my piece she didn’t want her second name. Okay. But of course,

Carlton Reid 23:45
it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise I wonder what her second name might be.

Carlton Reid 23:52
But she’s clearly into cycling, you’re into cycling. So how come that the Abraham’s family is into cycling?

Dan Abrahams 23:58
Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, my

Dan Abrahams 24:02
when I said into cycling, I don’t actually do cycling for leisure. Like I don’t go occasionally go out for for kind of bike rides have fun, but for me, like bike cycling, is just how I get around, you know, and my interest in cycling is about

Dan Abrahams 24:18
you know, protesting for people to be able to use the bike as their means of getting from A to B, you know, a cycle everywhere cycle to my to I cycle to gigs on my bike, or wherever on my bike. Whereas my sister and my dad, cycling is like, it’s a sport. It’s about on the weekend going out with the group and how fast are they going? And have they got the latest gear and stuff?

Dan Abrahams 24:43
So it’s it kind of bothers him obviously, my sister’s into like, the campaigning side of it too. But I think it was it was kind of just chance the we all kind of got into it. I guess. We were brought up me and my sister you know

Dan Abrahams 25:00
Thinking about, you know, social and environmental issues in the world. And I think

Dan Abrahams 25:09
just sort of both separately

Dan Abrahams 25:12
came to the understanding that,

Dan Abrahams 25:16
you know, cycling is just such an easy solution to so many problems in the world, like it says, in our streets, song at the end, you know, pollution, hurt people’s health, mental health, congestion, climate change,

Dan Abrahams 25:36
air pollution, you know, tyre pollution, all these issues become easier when more people are cycling. And

Dan Abrahams 25:49
I’ve lost track of what was gonna say,

Carlton Reid 25:53
you kind of on your, on your family and how you Cycling is a good solution.

Dan Abrahams 25:57
Yeah, you know, I was, you know, I was working in a in a tech company for 10 years, you know, on kind of this like solutions like with for reducing co2.

Dan Abrahams 26:08
But I think at the end, I was really quite frustrated that the technology was taking so long to to mature and get commercialised. But at the same time, all these sort of just absolutely. Basic solutions, which just about political will, they’re not about technology

Dan Abrahams 26:27
being so slow to kind of be become realised.

Dan Abrahams 26:33
Apart from in Holland. So, yeah, and I think I think I think, you know, masochistic, you know, it’s the same kind of thing in Brussels, although I think they’re further ahead than in Edinburgh.

Dan Abrahams 26:47
So, I think so yeah, she kind of combines her sport, sporty cycling with the kind of, you know, getting, you know, the kind of community and campaigning cycling thing. Whereas for me, it’s kind of, I don’t I don’t have any lycra or anything like that.

Carlton Reid 27:05
Thanks to Dan Abrahams there. By the way, Dan’s sister, Alison, was featured in the Brussels episode back in November last year. Thanks for listening to Episode 320 of the spokesmen podcast brought to you in association with turn bicycles. dance videos are embedded on the shownotes at The next two episodes will be with inspirational women in business. But meanwhile, get out there and ride

January 8, 2023 / / Blog

8th January 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 319: German word for beer diluted with lemonade is “cyclist” — oh, and Jim was probed by robots

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Jim Moss and Donna Tocci

TOPICS: Kidneys and beer. For an hour. Really.


Does cycling have a drinking problem?


Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to Episode 319 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was recorded on Sunday eighth of January 2023.

David Bernstein 0:27
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
happy new Yeah, it is when Yeah. And it’s really it’s a real big struggle to say there’s 20 It’s 23 Isn’t it done. And it’s it’s happy new year, and it’s 2023. We’ve been doing this since 2006 or later, the podcast has been going since 2006. And you guys were on from relatively early. So we’ve been doing this an awfully long time. So just happy new year for this incredibly strange year that we now have in the future. In effect, we are 2023. So we have with us, Jim, and Donna. So Jim and Donna, welcome to the show, Donna,

we have been discussing what we’re gonna be talking about on the show today. And we have realised that me and Donna don’t really have any major bodily traumatic episode to recount. Whereas, whereas

a certain attorney might have something including, you know, being probed by robots.

You’ve been probed by robots. Jim, tell us about your robot probing.

Jim Moss 2:14
And just to clarify things quite quickly, it was not a sexual activity.

Carlton Reid 2:21
Never said it was Jim, you went there.

Jim Moss 2:22
I know. But I know that several other probing does not mean. Yeah. And we’re and we’re off and running for the new year. That’s right.

They found that I had two large growths in one of my kidneys, and large meaning baseball size and golf ball size. I tried to send new records, you know, me always wanted to be number one. And, but I didn’t quite make it I found out.

And so I went to I think it’s called a nephrologist, who looked at the scans looked at me and said, We’re removing your kidney. And 15 days later, I was in the hospital for 26 hours where they took out my right kidney by a robot DaVinci Robot, phenomenal surgeon. I mean, just a really nice guy I got enjoyed him. Even when I came off the drugs. sort of interesting, I have six holes in me three for the robot, one for an assistant, one for a camera, one where they actually remove the kidney. It’s almost like a tic tac toe board

Carlton Reid 3:50
video to get a video of it after it’s been, you know, die scanned with it. You know, with cameras, there must be an episode you can put on YouTube.

Jim Moss 3:57
I actually asked him. And he said, we don’t save them unless you request them. And I said, I mean, I really I would have watched it now. I wouldn’t have watched the first couple weeks. But now you know that you pretty much healed up pretty much. I think I would have watched it. It’s quite interesting just to hear him talk about and I’ve He keeps looking. He says you have all sorts of questions about how we did it. You don’t really have that many questions about what’s going to happen to you. I know what’s going to happen to me. I’m going to heal up and fall down again. And his response was, you should fall less.

Carlton Reid 4:34
Have that. Did he have that same advice for another one of our beloved members?

Jim Moss 4:38
Yeah, yeah. I think Tim needs to learn how to fall maybe that’s it. I fall. I’ve had a doctor tell me that I bounced better than anybody else he’s ever seen. I put it on my resume. Yeah, we were mountain biking, knock myself cold. And he’s a neurologist. He said you bounce better than me. No. So

Donna Tocci 5:02
we digress. How are you feeling now? I’m okay.

Jim Moss 5:06
I’m great. I really am great. I it’s, you know, there’s a lot of muscle there layers there, even though in my case they weren’t that prominent. And so those lower layers are still healing, but the scars are great. In another couple of days, I get back to full activity, although I’m full is gonna be a different definition for a while.

Carlton Reid 5:28
But I’m happy can when can you get back on a bike?

Jim Moss 5:31
Well, I was told I could get back on a trainer Thursday. And so yesterday, Friday, I went down to the basement where I had my trainer, and I set everything up. And then 20 minutes later, I still hadn’t been able to get my leg over the back. Or to get on.

Carlton Reid 5:53
Like a road bike hooked up. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you could just I mean, I’m not saying go and get one. But you if you had a like, a one that’s not quite so strictly road shaped. You could perhaps get on one of them. I mean, a lot of recuperation. You know, even when cyclists they recuperate on exercise bikes.

Jim Moss 6:12
Yeah, I even put a stepladder next to it. I’m still figuring out how to pull it off. Because once you get out of balance, there’s just anyway, so that should have been videotaped. But so I’m going to try again. Maybe this afternoon, I have another idea. involves two milk crates, one on either side, and a pulley system. So

Donna Tocci 6:37
I think you need maybe big cushions on either side. Oh, yeah.

Carlton Reid 6:43
And then you get the advice from from from the table. Yeah. So Donna, you were you were mentioning you’ve brought Tim’s crashes up? Because if we go back in the archives of this show, we could probably have quite a few hours of discussions with with Tim about his crashes. So so tell us what what do you know about his latest escapade?

Donna Tocci 7:08
Oh, only unfortunately, I haven’t talked with Tim but only what I know from his

from his Instagram feed, which anyone can can check out it’s Timothy V. Jackson. But he had another crash where he needed a new hip. And he had a fracture near his knee. So he had to have some pretty big surgeries was in the hospital for quite a while. And but his home and is okay, let’s let’s go with that. He’s home and, okay, now.

Carlton Reid 7:50
Well, our best wishes to Tim because his his his Instagram, um, be quite gruesome at time, when he does show us his injuries. So sometimes he shows his shots of him with his hand in the air riding his bike and they look great. They’re not going to offend anybody who might be squeamish, but then he will show his his injuries and he has had a lot of injuries that are best wishes, temporary recovery. And also he gets on his bike. Really, really soon. Now. What have we been doing over the last time was we talked over the Christmas and the New Year so So Donna, first what I’ve actually been doing, you’ve been out on your bike March what we’ve been up to.

Donna Tocci 8:35
Now we’ve discussed this, I’m a fair weather person, and it is cold here. So no, but my better half has been on his trainer and out on the new year’s ride and all of that. So I support that. And but, but no, I am very much a fair weather outside person. So we will will reiterate that but but good holidays. I actually not for this podcast, but I have been diving into my ancestry on So that’s that’s a good insight activity for me for the winter. But But yeah, oh good. And hope everyone out there is having a good new year so far and a healthy one. And looking forward to doing more of these podcasts in the new year.

Carlton Reid 9:25
While I’m while I’ve got you both on and we started talking about medical stuff there, and this will interest people I guess, everywhere. But certainly where we are in the UK we have a socialised medical system where you don’t have to worry about crashing your bike or having nephrologists poking around you with a with a machine because it’s you know, it’s paid for by the state but well by people we pay for it via you know, very, very standard National Insurance. Now, what about in the US it is a worry that you mustn’t crash your bike because you’re going to have loads of injuries. So somebody like Tim, you know, he’s crashed lots and lots is that he’s just uninsurable? I mean, how do you guys cope with your medical system for, for what he’ll be quite routine? So Jim first, I guess?

Jim Moss 10:18
Well, the The fortunate thing in my case right now is, is that I’m over the age of 65. So the government, the medical programme, Medicare picked up 90% of it, and then I have a supplemental policy that picked up the rest. But for somebody like Tim, it would be purely private health care. And that would be something that he would pay a monthly premium for, that could be anywhere from, you know, $300, and he writes a big check to get out of the hospital, or, you know, $5,000 a month, and he writes a smaller check to the hospital. And, and, and for years, you know, because of my activities, I couldn’t afford to write the check to buy the, the insurance,

Carlton Reid 11:12
for skiing. So things are dangerous, you just can’t insure yourself. Yeah.

Jim Moss 11:17
In there, in the past, you filled out these forms, once they found that you took risks. And I was a pilot. And I’d been above 20,000 foot climbing, and I had skied out of bounds. And I was a rock climber. And, you know, I was quoted $15,000 a year with a $15,000 deductible one time.

Carlton Reid 11:42
So the crazy thing is, if you’re doing those kinds of activities, that means you’re going to be fitter than the average person less likely to keel over and die of a heart attack, I’m guessing than the average person because you’re getting out there, and you’re doing very active stuff. So if anything, the insurance companies should be like, supporting that, but they don’t operate out that they just operate on pure figures that they get, I guess,

Jim Moss 12:05
yes. And even more importantly, the law got passed, federal law got passed 2000 2002, something like that, that allows the health insurance company to exclude high risk activities. And so things like skiing, I mean, going up to your local ski hill, and skiing, those injuries can be excluded in your policy, if they notify you in advance, indoor rock climbing or going to a gym, all those can be excluded. So it’s something that you need to pay attention to, or you may have, you may think you’re covered, and you may have an injury and find out that you’re writing while you do the writing checks, or you’re dodging, you know, bill collectors. So if you say, and I’m not so sure cycling is covered in those things that is included, but mountain biking, I know can be so

Carlton Reid 13:06
yeah, I just know from like, when we’re getting travel insurance. Yeah, myself, for my son it yeah, these things are very often is great. And certainly racing of any sort, you’re always gonna be excluded from insurance, from those sort of things. But can I ask Donna, um, Jim’s gonna come in on this as well, but they’re just Do you think any of this that kind of, you know, thought in the back of your mind, well, I can’t afford to crash my bike, I’ll just drive to the shops, you know, I can’t afford to, you know, to go along the dirt road or on the road and have any sort of injury? I’m going to protect it in the car. So is that potentially just the the insurance the medical system you have in the US? Could that potentially be putting people off? Doing things that are not protected by steel exoskeleton?

Donna Tocci 13:56
Just speaking in a very general way, not for everybody? I don’t think so. Because I truly don’t think unless I’m so sorry, Tim, unless you’re someone like Tim, you don’t ever think you’re going to crash or you don’t ever think that you’re going to get hit by a car. You may say I’ve got my helmet on, maybe even, you know, jacket or something like that, or any other kind of protective items. But until it happens, most of us I it’s it’s human nature, right? That’s not going to happen to me. You know, and you’re not thinking about insurance. So Could someone think about it? Sure. But in general, I don’t think so. That’s just my opinion. I don’t know Jim, you could have another one.

Carlton Reid 14:45
So not knowing any names here. We’re not saying this is Tim. But if there was somebody liked him in another sport, maybe somebody maybe somebody who just scared for instance, or one of the adventurous board? Would they be thinking? I can’t do this? Because I’ve had 10, catastrophic excursions to the to the local hospital, and I can’t be insured anymore. And I can’t do this. So, so yes, for general people, they might it might not be but what if you’re like a super athletes? Would it stop them? In the gym? Or?

Donna Tocci 15:23
Sorry? If you’re a professional athlete that No, probably not, because you may have sponsors, you may have whatever, but you may be part of a team that has a team, you know, has, has a team policy, but I think if you were a general, you know, like me, who, goodness, you don’t ever want to see me out in the snow but and has had several, several accidents, you would probably have bills. And you know, just as Jim said, you know, you may be paying off monthly and think, you know, I’ve already had two spills and had to go to the hospital, and I’m still paying for them. So I think I’m gonna sit this season out.

Jim Moss 16:08
Yeah, once, once you’ve had one, you’re constantly thinking about the cost. On the second one. And let me even give you a better example, when I was working in the ski industry, we looked at pre employment, physical tests, not physician tests, but a physical trainer who athletic trainer type of person, who would see if the employees who are getting hired had ACLs or not. In the ski counties, there are hundreds, hundreds of people who have torn their ACLs can get around fine and can afford to get them fixed. Because it’s just too expensive. And they don’t have any health insurance. And so we were testing because what would happen is they come on board, they get a ski job. And three weeks into the season, they would have a fall and workers comp, you know, the health insurance, if you’re employed would pay for your ACL surgery. And so that was a I mean, it was you call it a scam. But it’s the simple fact that, you know, people if they don’t have the insurance, even if they do have the insurance, they don’t have enough money to pay the deductibles their share of insurance. So that

Carlton Reid 17:39
yes, you’re sort of saying that if you if you get enough of these, say crashes or injuries, then in effect, you you’ll be uninsured. For the insurance. All right. So you’re uninsured, you’re going out on the hill, you’re doing whatever thing you’re doing in the full knowledge that if you crash the next time you’re bankrupt,

Jim Moss 17:57
yep. The number one reason why people individuals file bankruptcy in the United States is medical records. Number one reason you know, they get injured somehow tax. Excuse me. You said

Donna Tocci 18:12
you’re full of fun facts. That’s the number one.

Jim Moss 18:18
When am I not full of fun facts?

Donna Tocci 18:21
That’s the sad one, though, you know, like, that’s just sad.

Carlton Reid 18:27
So we are having this to live there is no club asking that is because it is a live discussion in the UK at the moment because our health service for political reasons is being is falling down. And an awful lot of the podium call it conspiracy theories. I think just the very big worries that were one of the reasons is because an awful lot of politically well connected people want to actually have an American medical system. And it’s just it always has surprised me that that’s where you’d want to go because what Jim was saying there about the bankruptcies, you know, these things are often brought up as scare stories, but they’re not scare stories. They’re kind of they’re out there. They’re real. And you guys are crazy.

Jim Moss 19:12
You know, I

Donna Tocci 19:15
for a lot of reason.

Carlton Reid 19:17
Yeah, they are scare stories. And I think the people who are pushing to have our medical system are those that are not looking at the financial, personal financial costs, either because they have not understood them, or they have enough money, it doesn’t matter to them.

Donna Tocci 19:39
Or they have they are invested in an insurance type company, they’re going to start you know,

Carlton Reid 19:49
it’s also a libertarian type of thing like the, you know, the government, the government or whatever you want to say it as they shouldn’t have a say A in such a thing that I don’t understand that but that seems to be a thing?

Jim Moss 20:07
Well, it’s, I think that you could probably find somebody that would call themselves every type of political name, who is for and or against every health insurance opportunity the United States is currently looking at or has looked at. In the United States nowadays, I think that the political designation we attach to somebody’s not based on how they really think, but how they want to be perceived. So, you know, it’s okay. Yeah, it’s it. I mean, yes, Libertarian, the government should stay out of my life, until they look at the cost of triple bypass, you know, liberal, we should take care of everybody, until they realise how many people really, really are sick, conservative, and that no more of my money should go to take care of anybody else. But me. You know, whatever, whatever your opinion is, you’re welcome to it. I took an oath to defend it. But it’s scary. I mean, I have the most phenomenal policy supplemental policy. And it was based here again, on a fluke, I have taught part time in the State College, school education system for years, and I qualify because of that, for what’s called pierra, public employee retirement account health insurance. And it’s unbelievable. So 18 years teaching one course a year qualified me for that. And I have this supplemental policy. That’s just, I mean, it’s everyone who I know is just amazed at it. It’s it’s fantastic. You know, and here, again, a fluke, a fluke found this issue and a fluke paid for it.

Carlton Reid 22:09
So we were straying. I guess for some people, we’re straying way too far into politics, recycling. Yeah. But before we go any further, I would like to invest pass on I know, Jamie already responded to it. But we have had a message from Tim. And he said he couldn’t couldn’t make it on the recording today. Unfortunately, he’s had an utterly sleepless night due to, as you can imagine, from what we were discussing before injury issues, and he says he’s feeling really way, way, way sub PA. So hopefully, we’ll get him back on a future show. And he can talk about his latest injury so we can add it to him to the archive. Or, you know, by all means, Google on the hyphen For Tim Jackson’s many, many escapades where he talked about his crashes, his his falls, and his track injuries, and all sorts of stuff like that.

Donna Tocci 23:05
And I do have to say, he’s a good healer, and we’re thankful for that. Yes.

Carlton Reid 23:10
He’s always back on his bikes. He’s like he has these major crashes. But there he goes. He’s back on his bike within a couple of weeks. And normally he does Jim doesn’t the use case images of him on the trainer first. So good thing to have.

Jim Moss 23:23
Yeah, he posts them from the hospital. That’s what blows me away. I couldn’t, I didn’t even know how to get my thumbs to work, let alone a phone and yet he’s posting pictures laying in bed all drugged up. So he is at a person.

Carlton Reid 23:41
And before we do go on to talk about some topics, I would like to bring David in here just to segue into a very brief commercial break.

David Bernstein 23:52
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 EFBE, 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 ones 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 25:01
We are back with the first show of 2023. And we are with Donna. And we are with Jim. And we had a message even from our buddy who falls off his bike blogs can. Now now, in the show notes when we discussed what we’re going to talk about on the show, we put names on and and we say you should go read this. And one of the pieces that Jim flagged up, and it was also I’d seen on social media a lot. And it was a good time for this particular piece to go online. So it’s by Gloria Liu. And it’s in it’s in I’m assuming it was in the magazine as well, it might not have been made to go online. But anyway, it’s in the health and nutrition section section and it just says, Does cycling have a drinking problem? And now I haven’t done a word count, but it’s a massive, massive article. It’s not just like a quick slug bear at all. It’s huge. And Tim was actually was on social media was saying he actually had we don’t think he’s in the piece, but he think we think he might have contributed. Cuz he’s teetotal isn’t me, Donna isn’t that he’s like eight years he’s been? That’s what he says on social media. Yeah,

Donna Tocci 26:22
yes, he has. He says here on his LinkedIn posts, if anyone wants to read it.

Carlton Reid 26:27
LinkedIn, I was wondering, okay,

Donna Tocci 26:29
is that he spoke with Gloria Liu for this piece. Since I’ve been sober for more than eight years now and have first hand experience with both sides of the good slash bad alcohol coin. Kudos to Bicycling magazine for allowing Gloria the column space for this article. Yeah.

Jim Moss 26:46
It’s it’s a massive article she just dwells, dives into every aspect of it. And right,

Carlton Reid 26:54
Jan? And Jan first. I mean, when when was actually published, I mean, I’m assuming that was kind of like timed for a time where you might have more alcohol, and then even more alcohol than you would have, normally. But whenever an article has a name for this phenomenon, but whenever a magazine or newspaper has any headline, with a question mark, you can invariably just say, No, you know, that’s the answer to that generally. And but in this particular case, do we think Cycling has a drinking problem, Donna?

Donna Tocci 27:32
For a lot of group rides, and things like that they do end with a couple of beers. Is that a problem? Maybe. I know, when I was going to Interbike in Vegas, I was I was tend to hang out with a lot of folks, including a lot of bike messengers, and there was a lot of drinking, but that was kind of the culture. And again, culture equal problem question. So, you know, it could be the same with runners as well, which is an industry that I am very well in ingrained in, you go out for a group run, you come back, you have a couple beers. You do pub crawl runs. So it is definitely there and

Carlton Reid 28:20
had done a how different is that? You said mentioned running? How different is that to? Just at the end of a workday? You do exactly the same with it. Your your your fellow workers. So I was wondering how different might that be from just basical social stuff. So this is just a this is an issue? It’s an issue for every single sector of society, not just a small subset of cyclist?

Donna Tocci 28:50
Yeah, and the article is talking about that there. You know, to quote this, it’s in the bike shops where customers steal tip mechanics and six packs. It’s an industry trade shows where people are drinking in their booths at cyclocross races, gravel races, where aid stations offer whiskey shots. Okay, that’s me, but but, so maybe, you know, she’s talking about much more part of not just what I was talking about that social piece after we’ll go have a beer after a run or a ride that is usually in her in currency and in marketing and all of that, and that would make it very different than, hey, let’s go grab a beer after work. That’s, you know, to equate it to, you know, a, you know, a job in an office or something like that, where, hey, you wrote a great byline, here’s a beer, we’re not going to pay you for it. That doesn’t make any sense. So yeah, I think it’s it’s ingrained Is it a problem? Again, question mark. Jim, you’re saying something probably sure

Jim Moss 30:05
you want a good ski tune, you bring a six pack with you. You want a good bike tune, you take a six pack with you? Well, in my case, since I’ve already worked on the bike, it usually takes a case. But it’s just part of the outdoor industry. I knew one ski tuner who I mean, and this guy was one of the best in the world, who didn’t shrink the beer that one gave him and would just stack it up. And then at the end of the ski season, he and his friends would go camping for a week. And they would have a pallet full of beer to drink. Oh, I mean, literally, that’s how much beer he was tipped. But he was smart enough that he, you know, shared it. So is it any more any less, I do drink more when I’m with friends, I don’t drink that much at home by myself. But I don’t drink that much anyway, two to four drinks a month. You know, and that can be who knows why shifted to that. But But I don’t think Cycling has any more of a problem other than one small aspect. And that sponsorship, everybody goes someplace after an activity. And bars are the number one place because we can talk, you know, we, we could go to a library, but then we’d have to sit, sit and look at each other. You know, we could go to a park. But nobody’s going to bring us food. So yeah, bars are the place we go because they offer everything we want to do at the end of activities. But we have sponsorships in cycling. If you look at the back of a jersey that says you know or order the front, nine times out of 10. And I count both of these. There’s a brewery and there’s a law firm. The brewery wants you to stop by after a ride and the law firm wants you to call him if you get hit by a car. Cracks me up. And I’m putting on cycling events now. And the first thing we get a list of is what brewery or what you know, liquor distributor, whoever can we get to give us money? Because they want cyclists they they want softball players though? They want runners, they want all those people because probably because of the activity, they can drink more with less issues? I don’t know, maybe? Or maybe they just do drink more. Is it a process?

Carlton Reid 32:45
I mean, most most of the article seems to I mean, it does mention other forms of alcohol. But it is basically about beer, which almost has its self limiting aspect to it, you get lots of shots, you know, you don’t you’re not going to pay for for much after that. But you have quite a few beers, and you’re going to be up putting that out. And that’s going to take your time away from that alcohol. So it’s just a beer is that less of a problem than say, spirits,

Jim Moss 33:15
beer, that several studies and at least one book have proved, is the reason why we exist. You know, since water was going to kill us in the Middle Ages, and before that beer allowed us to survive. So I mean, yeah, just beer does it, you know, contain the plague or whatever.

Carlton Reid 33:39
But I mean, second thing, cyclists tend to be certainly a certain level of cyclists, they tend to be pretty much fitness. certainly aware, and they will know the damage that alcohol can do. So we’ll self limit and you know, they’re not going to be the 10 I’m assuming here. And I’m asking the questions, not assuming I’m asking questions. Would that not just be you’re not gonna have such a natural problem because Cypress or fitness freaks and they’ll just limit

Jim Moss 34:05
but they also limit carbs. And they limit you know, protein and they limit sugars, they limit everything. You know, it’s you know, and if they if they have more beer than whatever, they’re going to limit something else. If they have a doughnut in the morning, they may have less beer in the evening. So so it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what the name of the carrier is. What matters is what is inside, you know that you put in your mouth. Right sugar is 25 times more addicting than cocaine. Okay, I can have a doughnut or I can do a snort. What

Carlton Reid 34:48
does cycling have a cake problem? Right? You know when we can’t get enough of that cake? Right?

Donna Tocci 34:56
I have a cake problem.

I would say Yeah, right. But, you know, so I’m looking through this article and they’re talking about, you know, the bike scene and, and bike mechanics, being women and feeling pressure to be one of the guys and go out and drink and get drunk. And and I could see that. But to your point, would that be in any other industry as well, I don’t know. And but there is a, there is a person here talks about a cycling team out in Kansas City that they don’t go for drinks after ride, like because of the health reasons, just as you’re talking about people gain weight, cognitive, you know, all of that hurts their health. So the article really does go back and forth a little bit on you know, that, yes. And, you know, cardiovascular disease and heart failure and stroke, and you know, nobody, nobody needs that. So, so it’s interesting, but I also wonder, you know, is it is it the younger group, as well, you know, when you’re trying to make a name for yourself, so you’re going out and you’re doing all of these things? I don’t know. But I do think that if you are prone to have a problem that just as you said, Carlton, it, you could find it anywhere. You can find it in running, I know at the end of races, there’s beer gardens, there’s, you know, we just we don’t go to a pub, you go to a quote unquote, beer garden, because it’s right there at the finish line. You don’t even have to go anywhere for it. So I think if you’re, if you’re prone to have a problem, or be on the verge of having a problem, yes, there but you could find that anywhere.

Jim Moss 36:49
Yeah, post ride post run. spaghetti dinners are more dangerous for me. I mean, first of all, it’s bad piece.

Carlton Reid 36:59
The piece mentions, you know, checked historian so she didn’t come to me. And, and that’s my views on this as a cycling historian. I would have told her one thing, and that is in Germany. There’s a drink called shandy is no, like a mix between lemonade and beer. What would you call that?

Donna Tocci 37:21

Jim Moss 37:22

Carlton Reid 37:23
That’s really well, that’s a standard drink across in here in Europe. But it’s called Shandy. So if you’d ask for it in a public basically limits your your amount of alcohol, so you might have a full pint. But half it’s party more. It’s gonna be lemonade, and it’s quite sweet drink. Well in Germany, that’s called Radler. In there are any German speakers in the audience, they will know that Radler actually means cyclist. So the German word for diluted beer is cyclist and where that came from was there was a there’s many places where it’s attributed to but it’s basically 1870s 1880s When Radler as a drink as a kind of drink first appeared in Germany with that name. And it was meant to be I think it’s Bavaria, where bar which was attracting lots and lots of cyclists in the 1870s. You know, everybody’s on their bikes going out to places and drinking. And the Publican had ran out or was running very low, low on beer. And so we knew those 1000s and 1000s of cyclists were going to be appearing that day. So he told his staff, well dilute it with lemonade. And they did this. And the cyclists loved it because it wasn’t a full beer. It was just half a beer, which meant they could drink a bit more and be hydrated. And so the German word for this particular drink, which is a phenomenally popular drink, everywhere in Europe, you know, Snady stroke Radler is bicyclist cyclist. So there you go. There’s a historian that could have actually contributed to this this this particular article.

Jim Moss 39:08
Well, here in the United States, we would call it a softball. It’s when the United States you know, something was developed because groups of people came in we call it a softball.

Carlton Reid 39:22
I mean, I’m spell that incident ball as the ball.

Jim Moss 39:29
Softball is, you know what we all play. You wait until at least the beginning of the first inning to have a beer. You don’t wait till you get done at the end of the game to go to a pub, you start drinking when the game starts. On some cases, there are lots of serious softball players don’t want to get you know cards and letters. But there’s all sorts of sports that drink and this one just got named after cycling because the that’s just coming into town. If it were trapped leads coming through, they’d probably have that, you know, word for an awful concoction of lemonade and beer.

Carlton Reid 40:11
It’s nice, you should try it.

Donna Tocci 40:14
Well, in the article, she says that a 2017 report by sponsorship monitor Ieg estimated that US alcohol companies spent 74% of their sponsorship dollars on sports and not only mainstream spectator sports like football, but also participant participatory events, like five K’s triathlons and cycling races. So, so, Jim, you know, you’re right. The, the example of the the jersey? No, no, that is that that’s true. So yeah, I interesting. It’s a great article. And I think that people should, should read it and see, you know, what, what their thoughts are about this? And but it’s you pay your Do you pay your bike mechanic in in cases of beer, or 12 packs or six pack?

Carlton Reid 41:08
And maybe bike mechanics should be asked? Would you rather have the cash?

Jim Moss 41:10
Yeah. Yeah. And maybe you should ask, How much do you drink? You know, do you think you have a drinking problem? Should I be contributing to this drinking problem? You know, when when you get invited to have a beer at the end of the day, and you watch the other mechanics work on bikes with a beer next to him? Are they having one before they go home? Are they having six before they go home? When you see that

Carlton Reid 41:42
post that post activity, right? Yeah, in skiing gym, which is your skier, it’s a relatively strong culture to have alcohol in the middle of the day, perhaps when you’re still on the slope, you know, gluwein and all this kind of stuff. Now, I’ve also found that crazy, you know, skiing is hard enough, and I’m going to equate cycling, isn’t it? These are hard enough activities to do sober. Nevermind, a little bit drunk. So skiing while inebriated seems to me to be absolutely crazy. Yet, it does seem to be a cultural thing where you will have alcohol on the slope. Oh, it’s

Jim Moss 42:18
it is in skiing, it’s even worse. And I can give you a couple quick examples. One in Colorado, it’s against the law to ride a ski lift, intoxicated, and yet, we sell beer and wine and drinks at mid mountain and top of the mountain restaurants at every resort in Colorado. So you can’t get on the lift drunk, but you can use the lift to get up and get drunk. Right and it is a an absolute defence. If you are loaded to any ski injury lawsuit you may have, you don’t you won’t get a dime. And in the 70s and 80s, you knew that this guy was a great skier because he carried his own Bota bag, you know, the little fake Italian bags, leather outside that carried wine. And you would ski down the hill. And you know how good of a skier you were was based on how far away you could shoot the wine from your boater bag into your mouth and share with your friends. And, you know, somehow it got refilled at the bottom of the hill and you went back up again.

Carlton Reid 43:29
So this is where I’m kind of go with it is that I don’t think this is a cycling problem. The headline is de cycling have the problem. No, it’s society has the problem. And you can link you can go to lots of activities where people are probably being tipped with with six packs. And people are drinking during the the downtime during lunch before they carry on doing that activity skiing being I would say as a prime example because it is so embedded the alcohol in it really, really embedded in that particular activity. So I’m just saying yeah, cycling isn’t special here. Right? Society is doing and more importantly, cycling.

Jim Moss 44:10
Yeah, whatever the sport is not the sport. It’s the individual. Okay, if you is a cyclist or softball player or a skier or a professional tiddlywinks player, need to figure out what your relationship with alcohol is and whether or not that’s good or bad.

Carlton Reid 44:29
I’ll come in today in pairs. So why would you do a incredibly dangerous activity like skiing or cycling in any way impaired? Why would you do that? Because you

Jim Moss 44:41
don’t have enough guts to do it sober.

Donna Tocci 44:43
Well, you’re saying for you, you truly have the disease. You have a problem? Yeah. And so maybe what we can all do as part of the site. The sports industry, if you will, is give people the choice right if you want to tip your bike mechanic, give him you know, 10 bucks, 20 bucks, whatever or her or them and let them decide how they want to spend it. If they want to go and buy, you know, a six year for the rest of the mechanics, then they can do that. And

Carlton Reid 45:16
yeah, talking about tipping again, this is out of my comfort zone.

Donna Tocci 45:18
Okay, so sorry. But, but also, you know, and same thing with events, you know, so if you’re gonna have a quote unquote beer garden at the end of an event, and you’re giving away Hey, you get, you know, a nice event pint glass with your beer, we’ll give the pint glass if somebody orders a seltzer water to write, you know, so make it more inclusive. And give people that choice. And if somebody really is struggling, because they have that that disease or they’re on the borderline, make it easier for them to say no.

Carlton Reid 45:57
But might not also be easy to say no, if there is no availability. So what Jim was saying there was if you’ve got mid station and at the top if you’ve got copious amounts of alcohol, isn’t that a bit crazy? Should we not be limiting it a bit more always that nanny state and you shouldn’t be limiting it. It should be up to individuals.

Jim Moss 46:18
Now we’re back to a political discussion. I’m not going to touch that one.

Carlton Reid 46:26
Nope. Okay.

Donna Tocci 46:28
And I think we need Tim I think we need him for a further discussion on this. And maybe we have this conversation again, or a similar conversation when we can have Tim for a little different perspective.

Carlton Reid 46:42
I’ve not done this event, but there is an event. I mean, it’s talked about, you know, hand hand ups, you know, in cycle races and stuff. And we have something similar. There’s an event or there used to be an event, I don’t think it’s run now, there used to be an event called the Real Ale Wobble. And that was a mountain bike event, from way back in the 80s. It’s a very old event. And I’ve never actually done it, but I’ve been to the place where it’s done it and it’s very small place in mid Wales. And it’s basically a pub in a pub a publican started this off. And it’s basically you, you start this race, and every checkpoint, there is a real ale, to to imbibe. And then clearly by the end of this, you’re probably not able to balance on your bike much anymore. So clearly, that was a that was an event that was specifically tying cycling, and the the physical action of drinking while you were cycling, that may be similar to the handout. In cyclocross,

Jim Moss 47:45
we have dozens of those around here. There’s one where and motorcyclists are big on this one, but I’ve seen it in cycling now, where you go to each bar, hand you a card from a deck, and you have a beer, and then you hop on your motorcycle, you hop on your bike, you go to the next

Carlton Reid 48:00
motorcycle, your motorcycle, you mean motorcycle, that’s a that’s a, that’s a vehicle that goes on public highways, right? Can you possibly have that, oh, it’s

Jim Moss 48:10
every day. And at the end of the run, you may have gone to 10 bars, and you take your 10 Playing cards and come up with the best poker hand that you can figure out after X number of beers on a bicycle or on a whatever, and I’ve done it on bikes, it’s a phenomenal game. Especially if you can win a couple 100 bucks with your poker hand

Carlton Reid 48:35
to discuss that this is potentially a social, you know, across many different sectors. But what’s what’s taken, you know, the driving under the influence has been made socially unacceptable, whereas in the 70s, you know, it was acceptable to drink and then get into it, okay, we’ve made it socially unacceptable. So is this something that has to happen in drinking, while taking part in sporting events should also become that’s just socially unacceptable, that’s just, we don’t have to be woke or anti woke about this. This is just society will eventually say that that’s not a sensible thing to be doing. And we won’t do that anymore. In the same way that you know, driving under the influence is also seen in that kind of, you know, you can crazy to do this category,

Jim Moss 49:22
but it won’t because it became socially unacceptable here in the United States, because of the damage to other people. In in, in cycling, you know, I mean, you could crash into another cyclists. But if you crash into a car or a tree, you’re the one that’s going to get injured so nobody cares. It won’t create any society woes or backlash.

Carlton Reid 49:51

Donna Tocci 49:54
I don’t know that nobody cares.

Jim Moss 49:58
The people that Who check you into the hospital care?

Donna Tocci 50:02
Yeah, but think about it too. So if you’re, you know, in Carlton’s example of going from, you know, L to L, and, and the name is, you know, expects you to be wobbly at the end, right the room. In some cases, those people are going to pack their bike into a car and then drive. Right. And so, you know, if you go to this real ale wobble or any other, you know, let’s ride from bar to bar to bar and have drinks, or drink after a mountain bike ride on a Sunday, most of those people are going to get in cars. And not great

Jim Moss 50:46
that transition from a bicycle to a car is where it goes from fun activity. normal activity, socially acceptable activity to a non socially criminal activity. I guess you can get a you can lose your driver’s licence here in Colorado for riding a bicycle drunk. Yeah, is your driver’s licence? Yes. And we have bicycle

drunk. And you can lose your driver’s licence for riding a horse drunk. And we

Carlton Reid 51:25
had I think many jurisdictions around the world will will have pretty similar if you have a driving licence, you can have it taken away if you’re caught drunk, or another form of transport

Jim Moss 51:35
on a horse. I, that one’s the one that stretched me. So anyway, and we have a case, we have a case where a guy was convicted, and the appellate court upheld it. And both riding a horse drunk and riding a bicycle drunk. So

Carlton Reid 51:48
there is of course, these jokes. Like cartoons in there often that these are like 1890s and early cartoons, but they’re basically often brought out when driverless cars I talked about because we’ve had driverless cars in effect for a long time, because farmers when they’d get drunk on the with their horses, they would just get in the back of their cart, and the horse would know exactly where it had to go. So you had a driverless car back in the 1890s. Just because the your horse knew exactly where home was. And you could just get in drunk and off, it would go.

Donna Tocci 52:24
Okay, I just looked it up. Because Google knows everything. In my state, it is not illegal and does not have Oui conviction consequences to drunk or drug impaired biking. Really, it is a terribly reckless thing to do is what? Yeah, so

Jim Moss 52:45
if you want to ride your horse, yeah, go to Connecticut. Massachusetts, Massachusetts. scuze. me the best.

Carlton Reid 52:51
So definitely. Yeah, yeah, one of the old ways of finding it if somebody is drunk, so a police officer, before that you have breathalysers that we’ll be just asking them to ride on site. So walking in a straight line. Whereas on a bike, if you’re drunk, if you’re really drunk, surely you’re gonna fall off. If you are able to actually balance a bike and go in a reasonably straight line, you can’t be that drunk. Whereas this is all similar advocate stuff here. I’m not advocating any of this. But if you get into a car, it’s somehow different in that your cocoon, possibly very, very warm. You have music, you have all these distractions. So you shouldn’t be driving while drunk. But cycling while drunk is somehow kind of okay, because the very fact you are staying upright means you’re not actually that drunk. What do we think about that?

Jim Moss 53:44
I agree with you, but boy, are we gonna get cards and letters? And I’m sure I mean, we have all met in our life. Somebody who is constantly loaded. You know, who I was sitting in the courtroom one time talking to the sheriff who’s there, you know, as the guard who said, Yeah, we had to call flight for life because a guy blew a point five, three, on a breathalyser when he got brought in.

Carlton Reid 54:17
point that’s high, I’m assuming

Jim Moss 54:19
Oh, that’s five times higher than Well, point. Oh, eight is against the law to drive this guy blue. 8.53. That’s That’s mean. That means he is drunk his entire existence. You can blow that much unless you’re you’re walking around and a point two, which is, which most people be unconscious of point two.

Donna Tocci 54:44
Yeah, I was gonna say how was he even alive? Right.

Jim Moss 54:47
And that’s why they call flight for life. You know, they didn’t take UAV you know, he was going to live. And so but there’s those people out there. They just wake up, loaded and maintain that. So they could probably ride a bike for a while. But they’re the exception to the rule. And for a cyclists yeah for cyclists is seriously a cyclist he can’t ride a bike loaded. But he does provide entertainment and YouTube videos or he Tiktok videos.

Carlton Reid 55:18
Mm hmm. See, when you get that wobble or go back to the word wobble, you’ve, it’s kind of a death spiral, you’re gonna fall off your bike, where do you see drunk people, but they’re actually keeping a straight line when they are reasonably straight line when they’re riding because as soon as you start that wobble, that wobble doesn’t end anything else apart from nine times out of 10 a crash, although the drunk cyclist basically cures themselves because they crash whereas a drunk motorist, you know, can actually keep going.

Jim Moss 55:49
Although there is a new bike that I just saw press release about that won’t crash the three wheel? No, no, a three wheeler, two wheel electric bike that has, you know, a pewter that keeps it upright. So now you can be totally Blotto. And, yeah, so

Carlton Reid 56:05
it’ll get you back.

Donna Tocci 56:07
I mean, the flip side of that is that’s more enabling.

Jim Moss 56:12
Sure. So isn’t that

Donna Tocci 56:15
or maybe makes the case for the cycling have a drinking problem if somebody is creating a bike to stay upright? If you can’t, yourself? But But

Carlton Reid 56:24
wouldn’t that just be for people with balances us in general, rather than drunk people with balances?

Jim Moss 56:29
Sure, we always create. So So beer was created, and ended up being a lifesaver, because you could drink beer and not die of some disease. That’s how to

Carlton Reid 56:42
boil water. Why

Jim Moss 56:45
didn’t you know? But they didn’t know about, we’d

Carlton Reid 56:48
have to put hops in it. And you’d have to put barley in it, you could just boil the water, but they

Jim Moss 56:53
didn’t know that in the 1500s of 1300s. That, you know,

Carlton Reid 56:57
it’s accidental just that the beer being healthy is just Well, yeah. Boiling is doing it. Right.

Jim Moss 57:03
It just happened. They didn’t know that there were germs. They just knew that people who drank beer seem to live. And so everything in life can also be turned into an addiction a problem. You know, rock climbing evolved into bungee jumping, involved into static jumping. And I had a friend die because you know, static jumping, meaning your rope does not stretch. And you take this great big swinging jump, and you know it’s harnessed. Right?

Carlton Reid 57:41
Hey, yay.

Jim Moss 57:43
It’s sort of you find videos on it happens a lot in Utah, where you have great big cliffs and arches and you can take this giant swing underneath an arch.

Carlton Reid 57:55
Does that do amazing things to your whole body when you hit that?

Jim Moss 58:00
Well, you try and do it in such a way that you curve into that, you know, point of, you know, no more stretch. And I’ve not seen a video of anyone over the age of 35 doing it

Carlton Reid 58:17
for obvious reasons. Yeah.

Jim Moss 58:18
I mean, it’s such a big thing in the state of Utah that the attorney for the Utah State Lands attorney and I became friends because it became an issue then he finally got to the point to say look if they want to died, let them die. So anything can become a problem. You know, what was used to get out of to cross the canyon to get to better lands to grow food evolved into rock climbing.

Carlton Reid 58:53
Jim, have you still on the hell site that is Twitter? Are you are you migrating to Mastodon what you

Jim Moss 58:59
I’m on Mastodon and I’m on Twitter and I’m on stimuli. I’m not even sure what mass I mean, Mastodon I’m learning stimuli. I’m not even sure what I’m doing there. But I thought I would try them all because I wanted to grab recreation law. Yeah. To hold on mice. Yeah, yeah. And so I’m posting to it. The best way to find me is recreation-law,

Carlton Reid 59:24
and Donna. So I still see you on Twitter and I have got a mastodon but I really don’t think I’ve done one one posting. I’m pretty poor. That’s why I’m sticking with the health side. Are you sticking with the hellsite? What are you what are your thoughts on that?

Donna Tocci 59:39
For now? Yes. So you can find me on Twitter at DonnaTocci and also on Instagram.

Carlton Reid 59:47
So thank you ever so much for being on today’s show. And Jim, and as I said, this has been show 319 And the next episode because this was this is like Can I show that almost shouldn’t be here because I did say in the last episode that the next show will be with somebody who’s talking to Critical Mass person who uses the world of song to actually get across his message about getting more people on bikes so that will be the next episode rather than this. This this interim episode talking about kidneys and literally were the only subject to talk about was my kidneys and so it’s been excellent for the our first show of the year. So next episode will be critical mass, but meanwhile, get out there and ride

January 2, 2023 / / Blog

2nd January 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 318: Chris Boardman explains Active Travel England’s Capability Fund

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Chris Boardman

TOPICS: Active Travel England‘s new £32.9m Capability Fund


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 318 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Monday 2nd of January 2023.

David Bernstein 0:27
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
Happy New Year. I’m Carlton Reid and welcome to another year of the Spokesmen podcast, which has been coming to you non-stop since 2006. Amazingly, it’s now 2023 and on the first working day after the festive break there’s this here announcement about a new 39 million pound fund that plans to empower local communities to create people-friendly environments through design. Active Travel England’s new Capability Fund will, the words of the press release, “create a national network of experts to work with communities, enhance high streets and make regional roads safer for everyone.” Working with the willing, Active Travel England will be doing what urban designer Brian Deegan did so well in Greater Manchester and that’s engaging with people, asking them not whether they wanted to limit car use but what they wanted their streets to look like and how they wanted them to function. Brian is the Director of Inspections at Active Travel England and I teased Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman over whether the Capability Fund was a sort of cloning exercise, replicating Brian’s expertise in lots of local authorities … but first I asked Chris to explain a little bit about the fund and the announcement.

Chris Boardman 2:45
The emphasis is a lot less on encouraging people and more on enabling them. And then when you start digging into what that means some of its political some of its psychological. But a lot of it is capability behind the scenes. So the point of this and it sounds rather melodramatic, but it’s true: we need to build an army of engineers and local officers who are capable of delivering to a consistently high standard across a whole country. And this fund is part of starting that. So it’s to enable local authorities to make active travel even higher value than it already is by by creating in-house capability. So reduce their dependency on consultancies. And it’s the start of several large announcements this year to get people ready. So they’ve got a pipeline of schemes that we can start delivering consistently as we go forward. So active travel is it will become a mainstream part of transport.

Carlton Reid 3:49
You’re basically cloning Brian Deegan. So you’re creating lots of Brian-Deegan-type people in local authorities, is that kind of is that the template?

Chris Boardman 4:03
Yeah, well, Brian’s, obviously our director of inspection, and he’s worked for decades in this area and knows that both politically, and technically we’d right down to how high is a curb what is required to enable people within the laws of this country to get around easily under their own steam and feel safe doing it. So that’s why we we put them in that position. Now we need people like that in every council across the country, or every council that wants to, you know, they think the important bit that we’re also injecting here is choice. That’s what this is about giving people a genuine choice in how they travel, because one of those choices is underrepresented. And we need skilled people who can navigate the system. Now that the reason I said engineers and local officers or officials is because it’s different. It needs to be cost done for each local authority, what it is that they’re lacking some engineers but the the knowledge amongst local councillors on how to do it and how to how to conduct an effective consultation that takes people with you doesn’t exist. So the training is in a different space. Whereas somewhere else, they’ve got great political will, and they’re frustrated that they officers aren’t capable of delivering. So that that comes from years and years of knowledge. And over the next, while by the spring, we hope that we’ll have a package of training for all authorities to help them develop their capabilities,

Carlton Reid 5:41
is that the way it started? £39.2 million is that is that where the money is going on things like training up to make these mini like, Brian Deegans. And it’s like, you know, when you when you put money down for a brand new cycleway or new bus route, or, you know, a widening pavements, whatever, that’s capital, that comes out of one fund. But when you actually want to do stuff with council officers, that obviously comes out of a different pot, revenue. So is that what this is for, to fill in those gaps?

Chris Boardman 6:15
To a large degree, yeah. And the reason it’s, it’s slightly more opaque than that is because it needs to be customised. But ostensibly, is to create a national machine that produces a pipeline of high quality schemes across the country, and then need to be consistent across the country. So wherever you are, you are, you see, you see a sign with with a bike on it, or somebody walking and you know, you’re going to have a good experience. So this scheme is about creating that capability within all the local authorities who want to do it. And obviously, that’s a rapidly growing number for, I mean, for a lot of people because they simply can’t afford the status quo, or realising rather, that we can’t afford the status quo. So when people go, there’s, you know, there’s hundreds of millions for active travel, it doesn’t just design itself, that capability isn’t the map consistency is what we need, probably more than the quantum of cash, we, we actually need the consistency and the ability to design and deliver when cash is available.

Carlton Reid 7:20
So criticisms potentially, could be I’m not this scheme in particular, but just, you know, people want infrastructure first. So you kind of you’ve kind of got people who just say, Look, we just want infrastructure, forget anything that you know, is ancillary to that just give us infrastructure. And then the other criticism from from a totally different point of view will be these kinds of things aren’t a nanny status? And why do we need people to tell us how to cycle how to wear all these kinds of things? So so how do you, how do you square those two circles?

Chris Boardman 7:53
Well, the environment is, is everything, you know, we can dance around, we can look at all the stats about you know, we know that we’re inactive and costly health service a billion pounds a year and all of that. But the only thing the reason we’re gonna get on a bike or, or walk to school every day is it’s the easiest choice. And it feels safe, simple as that. And so did the job of active travel endurance is to strip away the noise and go, but what really makes a difference. And it’s safe space. Number one is safe, convenient routes, where I want to go continuously. And that’s what we have to focus on. Once that is there, then you can start giving people the tools to use that space. So by kind of schemes and really inject into bike training, bikeability training, specifically concentrated in the areas where you’ve created safe space. So the layers of things that are needed. But I’m tempted to use a metaphor of baking a cake really you need, don’t you need all the ingredients and you need them in the right proportions, and you need them added in the right order. You know, otherwise you just end up with with stuff that’s inedible or unusable.

Carlton Reid 9:04
Now, am I right to be thinking that this is not new money? So this isn’t a government announcement of this is a brand new pile of 39 million pounds, a big pile of cash, new, this is coming out of your existing budget and you’re just apportioning it?

Chris Boardman 9:20
Yeah, there’s no you know, there’s no disguising the fact that last year is the politics last year meant that things got slow down, you know, we had, we had three prime ministers in a matter of months, and behind them as a team of people and behind them as another team of people. So all of that changes in the decision making is, is slowed down. So we’re several months behind where we want it to be. But we’re now very much on the move. There’s been some great activity in the last few weeks. And we’re finally getting out a lot of the stuff that we wanted to do in active travel, I’m pleased to say is there very highly valued in inside the Department for Transport. And politically, there’s really good support for it now as well. So, as I said, I hope this this will be the first of several announcements over the next few months. This is the one that enables people to use and capitalise on everything that comes next. But no, it’s not new money. It’s part of the £2 billion dedicated funding that was promised in 2020. And now we’re actually in a position to start to, to utilise it and make sure it’s spent properly. I mean, to set up an entire business, which was Active Travel England to deliver that and make sure it is spent properly. It’s something that’s incredibly technical ask anybody who’s who started a business. So we’re well into recruitment, we’ve had to put officers in place, those are now open all of the mechanics of creating first a national machine that then can drive the regional machines. So it’s, it’s quite exciting, actually. And exhausting. I think it’s, it’s taken a long time to get here. But at last, we’re ready to actually start doing the job at pace. And consistently.

Carlton Reid 11:11
And how hands off or potentially even hands on is the DfT? How much leeway do you have, Chris?

Chris Boardman 11:18
DfT is an essential partner. I mean, we’re an arm’s length body, we choose how we deliver government’s policy, how we how we get this mission done, that’s down to us. But we have to interact with buses and trams and trains and national highways and department for health, even over a DCMS, you know, and my other role in Sport England, they’re also a statutory consultee in the planning system. So there’s so many partnerships, you we have autonomy in how we deliver the mission, but we have to work really closely with other people, if we, if we want to do it well, and forming those relationships is well underway. Now. I’m really quite excited and enthused, actually by the level of enthusiasm and desire to see change that we’ve encountered.

Carlton Reid 12:09
Is any of that to do with Jesse Norman? Or is there something that it doesn’t matter who the individual is you think this is baked in now?

Chris Boardman 12:17
I think it’s essential who the people are individuals are critical. I mean, if if I could have walked into parliament, and looked into into the rows of seats and said, right, pick a minister, then then Jesse Norman would have been it. We have we’ve known each other for several years. He understands politics very well, obviously, he’s done a considerable stint at Treasury, which is very helpful. And he actively asked for the active travel brief. And that’s really important that that you get somebody who’s chosen to be here who wants wants to make a difference. So it’s quite exciting. We’re really, really looking forward to working with him closely over the next year.

Carlton Reid 13:03
Potentially, this administration, as you said before, the we’ve had many changes within even this administration, but but going forward, every electoral cycles, you might have a different administration. So the building blocks you’ve put in place here, presumably, you considered would survive any change of administration, perhaps even be strengthened in a future administration?

Chris Boardman 13:33
Well, not wishing to, to sidestep your question. This, this should go beyond politics. This is for any administration, who purports to follow the evidence, until want to do the thing for a community, then this is where you end up. You know, I mentioned earlier that people are doing this because they’ve realised they can’t afford not to. Well, that’s where we started in Greater Manchester four years ago. What’s it cost you to travel as you are now? Can you afford it? And I think there’s been a turnover of people that we’ve worked with from officers to politicians, in the last few months, often have come at this fresh and gone ‘why are we doing this’? And then they realise, well, I have to, I’ve got climate commitments that we absolutely have to meet. We’ve got a health service that is, is being well, severely burdened, shall we say, by by inactivity, you know, one in six deaths in the UK is down to inactivity, and I mentioned a billion pounds and it costs nearly 8 billion pounds to the economy. You look at all of those, and then you follow the thread and you realise that active travel is a huge part of the solution. It’s the transport mode that punches above its weight. It’s a it’s a quiet but powerful industry that is growing, not necessarily because people think ‘I love cycling’, you might absolutely have nothing to do with cycling but they realise that there’s never been a more important time in history to allow people to get around under their own steam. So our supporters have amassed for different reasons. But they all end up in the same space because it’s the cheapest, quickest, most logical answer. So I would expect, fully expect and I’m highly confident that the active travel agenda will just get stronger and stronger and stronger.

Carlton Reid 15:27
I’ll stop Chris there for a quick message from this show sponsor from my colleague, David.

David Bernstein 15:34
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 EFBE, 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 ones 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 16:44
Thanks, David. And we are back with Chris Boardman. Do you think your your time obviously in Manchester will cover this? There’s the answer to this. But do you think devolution helps with this going forward so that nine times out of the whole of of of the Tyneside region is going to have a Manchester style administration? So do you think those kind of localised regionalized administrations are going to be much more powerful going forward for for what you would like to see happen?

Chris Boardman 17:25
Yeah, well, the macro and micro are, I mean, this is this is huge change delivered at a very, very local level, you know, hyper local, this is me going out the front door to go to the shops, or to go to the train on the tram station. And that’s where the change happens. And then you scale that up. Now, the time in Greater Manchester, was invaluable. And it made me realise that local councillors are in charge of climate change, because you realise that if there’s a local councillor, and he’s got a majority of for somebody screaming in his face about removing the car parking space, and his job is to represent that individual who he knows and has known all his life, then if they don’t change, well, you scale that up and nothing changes. Therefore, you you know, climate change is severely impacted and health and all the other things that I mentioned. So we need to give that local councillor what they need to be able to go, Well, we’re going to remove that car parking space, but this is why it’s good for you. This is how I’m going to get you or hopefully this is this the method I’m going to use. So we arrive in the same solution, we both want the same thing. So it’s, you need to mesh the two things together. And devolution can very much be a part of that, I think, I think it needs to be to go further at the moment. I mean, that local politicians need the powers to do interact with the strategic road network. There’s work in the pipeline, as we know about pavement, parking all of these things. But devolution can very much be a part of it. And I was in Newcastle a few months ago and had a look around. And I saw the work that had been done to stitch bits and pieces together to make a cohesive network and, and the desire that was there. But without that local desire. It doesn’t happen. And just to add on. I mean, that’s one of the reasons that I mentioned earlier. This is about choice. If there’s a local authority or an entire region that has no interest in increasing active travel, then good luck to them. And we will not be forcing anybody to work, but we won’t. We won’t do things badly. So we will learn to use the overused cliche, we will work with the willing and create examples at such a scale that they become on a global and that’s already happening.

Carlton Reid 19:58
And these examples that you have to create via local authorities will come mainly from Do you think existing officers being trained up? Or do you envisage councils maybe actually creating jobs that take this on board,

Chris Boardman 20:16
It should report our support is proportionate and targeted, and there’ll be more on this and then in the next few months, but a local authority who has no, no trained officers doesn’t know how to conduct consultations, but is rocket keen to do it, then we’ll help them with training, excuse me. And with schemes that they can win up from where they’re at, at the moment, and we’ll try to help them grow as fast as possible. For those that are already, excuse me, like Greater Manchester to Birmingham, and the West Midlands in particular, who are already on the journey and already have people in place, I have the capability to deliver and I’ve learned a lot of the lessons, we’ll both will just say, hey, crack on, you know, the standards will check you meeting those standards, but crack on, and tell us what you need. Because we have to do it. If we’re going to deliver government’s targets of 50% of all journeys, cycled, or walked by by 2030, then we’re going to have to work with those that are already capable intensively, and we’re going to have to work with concentrations of people are, but that doesn’t mean that other areas that are just turning to this will get left behind, they absolutely won’t.

Carlton Reid 21:35
Because in the press release, it says the fund could see up to 1300 new green jobs created across England. So where are those jobs coming from?

Chris Boardman 21:44
Well, you have to design, you have to design and you have to consult all of those, all of that capability, which is why it’s called Capability Fund is generally people, you know, you, you need people to be able to go and speak to local communities and run a really effective consultations that help the people that design the network that they want. So we have to have a network of networks and a machine to create that. And this is a very personal thing, changing how people travel in region and giving them real choices, the ones that they that will actually change behaviour. And all of that is people. So I think that’s an underestimation. And that’s, you know that that’s specifically to dob with this fund and how it can be used. And it says up to because again, it’s a choice. And it’s quite possible, that that’s where all of this, this, this particular fund will go on engaging people officers capable of conducting all those tasks.

Carlton Reid 22:52
So urban planning courses and schools and what have you 20 years ago, wouldn’t have had a great deal of active travel in there wouldn’t probably even much bus stuff either, it would have been pretty much predicated on cars, cars, cars, cars, that presumably has changed over the last 20 years. And then the throughput of trained people we’re gonna get out of these courses and be much, much more aware of, of mode other than the car. Is that something that you’re seeing that you’re seeing that the old guard are falling away, and you have a new thrusting bunch of millennials perhaps, who are now wanting to change the world in the way that they’re the people who before changed the world, but for cars, and now changing the world but not for cars?

Chris Boardman 23:43
I think we’re we’re, we’re actually we are and have been on the same side. You have to bear with me with this one. What we haven’t realised it. And I think that’s that’s a key difference that certainly the learning in Greater Manchester, if if you say do you want to ride a bicycle? People say no. But do you want a place that’s quiet and you’d like to sit? And you can you can let your kids walk around on their own and or go to school? Yeah, I’d like one of those things. Would you like to save money by having one less car in the household? Not not driving, but but one less car? Yes. That’d be great. What would you need for that to happen? Well, I’d have to be sure the kids were safe. Okay. What would that look like? Well, you know, there’s no real fast cars everywhere. So lower speed limits where you live? Yeah. Yeah. And they’d have to get across the main roads. So you mean like crossings or well lit underpasses? Yeah. Yeah, those things. Okay. So you mean this? So, so that’s the key, I think, for me, is that we start to talk about the outcomes of all of this, we start to talk about what does this actually give me that I value in a language that I choose so that it could be money saved? It could be time saved, it could be easier life, it could be a better place to live, it could be something for my kids. I mean, you probably saw the piece on Kesgrave High School that we did a few months ago, I was just can’t believe was embarrassed the fact that we didn’t know about this place, you know, nine, eight to 900 kids every day 61% ride to school and we went, that’s got to be a mistake and to go to see it. If you actually talk about kids getting to school and being able to avoid bullying, because they don’t have to be kettled, on a bus after school, all of the benefits that this can bring, if you speak to people about that, then suddenly you’ve got common ground. And I think that’s absolutely critical here that we actually want the same thing. And we know that by the fact that when we introduce high quality cycling, and walking facilities in an area, give it a couple of years, and people would fight you tooth and nail if you wanted to take it away. So we know the majority want the same thing, just not everybody has realised it and doesn’t see it in the same way. So it’s it’s the way that we’re going. And there’s examples all over the world, maybe you’ll be very familiar with Paris, you know, which is, which is one of my favourite examples, because it’s not the most people travelling actively, but it’s the one that’s changing fastest. And it’s a it’s a society that’s close to ours. And seeing what’s happening there. And they, they play to another part of human nature, which is, which is positive peer pressure, really, it’s just a case of here’s somebody doing something and I’m feeling a little bit uncomfortable not doing it well, the more of those examples that we can create in our country, the better.

Carlton Reid 26:46
Going back, I mean, absolutely, Paris’s is kind of poster child for that. But going back to Kesgrave, Ipswich, my theory on that and it is just a theory out you can’t can’t pin this down was the United States Air Force dropped 2000 bicycles on that community in in the Second World War. And as far as I can tell it, it was the only United States Air Force or any military base that that just dropped so many bicycles out at one time. That must have, I posit, created a community of people riding around the the air force base, they must have then gone to the local pubs, but and that must have created a community of cyclists. And that’s why in the 1960s, the local authority decided to put those those those cycleways in for that particular school when it was when it was expanded. So just putting bicycles getting getting people with bicycles, I mean, maybe that’s even why by Paris, you know, with the Velib scheme, you get more people on bicycles, you almost don’t need many of the other things is just get people on bicycles?

Chris Boardman 28:00
Well, that would be true if you could introduce 1930s to 1960s levels of traffic at the same time, because that that, that that theory has just missed the fact that that that they started with much quieter and safer space. And I think if you dropped 2000 bicycles, now, you wouldn’t have much of an impact because people still wouldn’t feel safe, and they still wouldn’t want to go on a road with cars that are travelling fast around. So I think that’s the difference. I mean, the story of Kesgrave is definitely you know, worth exploring and local farmers. And when they sold the land. They they one of the stipulations was now to keep the network in place and build around it, not over it. And I think I’d have you ever been there?

Carlton Reid 28:46

Chris Boardman 28:48
I mean, you’ll see it’s not perfect by any means. And it’s not shy. And there’s lots of shared use and all the things are not supposed to work. But it works because the core of it is there. It’s joined up, and it deals

Carlton Reid 29:00
Yeah, it’s a network. I think the word you said there before was that was the key there. It wasn’t isn’t just two or three cycleways beside a road. It’s a quite a dense network of very, very different kinds of facilities.

Chris Boardman 29:13
Yeah, and the underpass to get to the school itself is just horrible. The I guess 1980s on the past that, you know, volumes of people have made it usable, you know, the safety numbers, natural security,

Carlton Reid 29:27
and that was that was built in something like 1964, 65. So it’s because very early. Yeah, for what they were doing. Yeah.

Chris Boardman 29:35
And it’s, it’s horrible, but it functions. And I think that’s key. I mean, there’s a lot of lessons to be learned from that area. I was almost relieved to find that when we spread out I went on a tour down there for a full day and we wrote miles around the whole area that move away from that. That probably what is it 10 square kilometres and it’s very normal. Still very car dominated. And it was almost a relief, to be honest. But they’ve inherited something and then built on it, and made it work for them. But it’s just a brilliant test case of what happens when you give people what they need. And it’s great to have an example that’s not in London.

Carlton Reid 30:19
Hmm. What have I was Ipswich? About 50 miles out 45 miles out from London? Yeah.

Chris Boardman 30:25
Pretty easy train journey.

Carlton Reid 30:27
Mm hmm. Yeah, very much. So. Right. So this this announcement on second of January, do you think it’s technicall press will pick up on this rather than mainstream? What do you think is gonna happen with the announcement?

Chris Boardman 30:46
I don’t expect and don’t require it to be to be hugely newsworthy. I mean, it’s, it’s the start is to get ready for a sustained big push that’s coming throughout the year. And I think there’s bigger stories in the pipeline. So this is just a case of, we’re letting people know that there’s 32 million pounds worth of funding now available for local councils and local authorities to start getting ready to deliver a network of networks.

Carlton Reid 31:16
So people, I’m talking about people here as in the general population, can expect to be consulted. And and taken on board by Brian Deegan clones and asked what they want, which was what you were saying before about, you know, do you want this and it turns out to be that’s what they actually want. So we can expect much more localised planning on the ground, in certain areas?

Chris Boardman 31:45
I’m not quite sure that where the question was there, I think consultation is a big part of it, and the capability to run and good consultation. And harping back to Greater Manchester again, the best thing that we did that was give the pen to the people who lived there and said, Okay, first of all, you don’t have to draw anything, when you don’t have to do anything. But if you did, where would you go? And what’s in your way? And what would you do about that, and we helped them to design something that worked for them around their shops and local communities in places where they knew that they, and that ownership was absolutely everything. And that’s, that’s been witnessed across the country has been really effective when you give people a choice. And I mean, a genuine choice, including the choice to do nothing, you end up getting to the same space. But the choice is really important when you’re talking about people’s homes and their communities. And this one will be heavily weighted towards making sure that capability is there. And the training to be able to do that consistently.

Carlton Reid 32:51
That you talked about people’s homes, their residential road. There’s bete noire, I’m sure you come across it all the time in media interviews, when you get asked about this, but LTN low traffic neighbourhoods is absolutely seems to be the the most hated thing from from from, from some commentators, you know, that’s taken some sort of freedom away from them. But LTNs have got this reputation of inequity, in that you’re in effect, giving facilities to middle class people. And if you’re forcing the traffic, the motorised traffic away from residential streets, and people’s houses go up in value, etc, etc. But then you’re actually forcing the motor traffic to go on the boundary roads, which then makes it people live on those boundary roads, and they tend to be poor people live on those boundary roads. So displacement, how do you get around the fact that any measures to make it nicer for people to walk and cycle can actually make it worse for other people? Because it increases traffic on their roads, much traffic on their roads.

Chris Boardman 34:06
There’s, there’s no, there’s no solution. And God knows we’d all love one. There is no solution that says we’re going to change how we use our streets that is pain-free. And that’s why it takes political will. And that’s why political will is one of the things that we require. We know as we mentioned earlier, and you’ll be well aware of with the likes of Waltham Forest, is that once you’ve pushed through that for two years, if it’s a well designed scheme, or well considered, then people prefer it. And we know that 70% of the stuff that was done during COVID and attracted a lot of those headlines has been made permanent because people wanted to keep it and that hasn’t made headlines, the fact that actuallt Low Traffic Neighbourhoods or whatever you actually want to call them, it’s just local traffic management really, and traffic being managed for the type of roads that it is where it had been allowed to be repurposed for moving traffic is actually it’s a very sensible and, and just a standard thing to do. I mean, there’s lots of lessons I think to be learned. I’m not sure packaging them up into one big thing that’s visible, and it’s change all at once is necessarily the way to go. I think it can be done in stages. Rambling a bit here, but I think LTNs are, if you actually describe the content I mentioned earlier, the outcomes there most people agree, yes, I want that. Then there’s going to have to be, there’s going to have to be some compromise, if you want to induce to introduce choice back into society. And I think when you talk about choice of kids travelling to school parents with prams, this disabled, don’t feel that they have to travel in a vehicle all the time, because actually, the pavements work for them, they’re clear, the crossings are all in the right places, then all of those things people want, we need to make sure that this is portrayed as the this is what it actually gives you. This isn’t taking away, it’s actually given people something back that they’ve lost.

Carlton Reid 36:23
Can society, can British society, create this, this nirvana of people walking, cycling, taking the bus, all these different modes? Doing that more? Can you create that and have elevated levels of car use? Or do you have to have a reduction in car use to get the former?

Chris Boardman 36:51
I think you’re almost talking about the same thing. If you if you make space for your kids to walk to school, or ride to school or scoot every day, then you don’t need to drive them there. And that’s that’s where the chicken or the egg and where the pain comes as your the discomfort is that change over period, because you make the space and then the behaviour changes to make the space, then there’s not enough of it the moment places where it’s saturated, particularly at rush hour. A match that’s the political hump that you have to get over time. And again, it’s show that that change happens. And I think I think that’s the juxtaposition that’s where the political will is required for that first step where people don’t necessarily they’re worried about change. And they don’t can’t see the alternative until they’ve experienced it; a lot of people won’t change until they can experience something. And so to create that takes courage. And I think, just to go slightly sideways, where we often get it wrong. And we’ve actually been alluding to it subconsciously all the way through there is by we pose the wrong question. If we pose what’s the place you live look like forget cycling and walking, what’s it look like? And what would you give up for that? Or what would you change for that? Would you like to have one less car? And I think we need to really think carefully about the questions that we’re asking. So a counter question to the one you’ve just asked me was, what happens if we don’t? What happens if we don’t? Can we afford it? Do you like it? And I think that’s, that’s probably the underlying the most important thing is that we need to start asking the right questions.

Carlton Reid 38:46
So do you think you can get the Daily Mails — and I write for the Daily Mail — but do you think you can get the Daily Mails of this world onside and how?

Chris Boardman 39:03
I don’t know, is the answer. I’m not sure I should care. Because I, I can’t we have to spend time creating a message that’s attractive and asking the right questions. So you know, if we don’t do this low traffic neighbourhood how are you going to tackle climate change? Do you like it? And there’s there’s lots of things and wouldn’t you like your kids to be able to get around under their own steam? I think the asked constantly asking the right questions. You know, what happens if you win? What have you won? It is there’s there’s a there’s a raft of really good questions that make the nice thing about questions. They cut through emotion and connected with the person and make them stop and think and you won’t win them all. This is not this is not a an easy journey change. Culture change never is, it’s always slow, and it’s always painful. So the best way we can do it to come back to the start, is to work with those that are prepared to go through that first bit of discomfort. And take people through that slightly scary bit of change, and then create examples. And to hark back to Greater Manchester, again, when we went when we put our draft network online, way back in 2018 and asked people for their opinion, just put it out there and said, tell us what you think the biggest complaints were ‘where’s ours? Where’s our bit? They’ve got it, we haven’t got it.’ And that’s, that’s the kind of battle that you want. So I’m not I don’t think we we can and we should try to persuade everybody. We should just speak to the evidence and the evidence of outcomes that have been seen elsewhere and crack on. Because what happens if we don’t?

Carlton Reid 41:00
Thanks to Chris Boardman there and thanks to you for listening to episode 318 of the Spokesmen podcast, brought to you in association with Tern Bicycles. Links about the Capability Fund can be found on the show notes at The next episode will be with a Critical Mass campaigner looking to change hearts and minds through song … that show will be out soon but meanwhile, in 2023, get out there and ride.

December 22, 2022 / / Blog

22nd December 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 317: Masterplanning Milan: Real Estate Developer Reshaping the City With Active Travel

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Stefano Corbella, Sustainability Officer, COIMA, Milan

TOPICS: Parking Minimums, Forests In the Sky and Dutch-style cyclist roundabouts in Milan







Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 317 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. The show was engineered on Thursday 22nd of December 2022.

David Bernstein 0:27
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 1.01
In the previous episode, I had a coffee and a cycle-related chat in the new Eroica cafe in downtown Milam. I’m Carlton Reid, and apologies for my croaky voice—I was at a Newcastle United match last night and may have shouted a wee bit. Anyway, the visit to Milan was a research trip to visit Porto Nueva, a formerly neglected part of the city, but which has been transformed by urban developers such as COIMA. The most famous part of this regeneration project is COIMA-commissioned Bosco Verticalle, or vertical forest, two high rise apartment buildings covered in trees and plants. I was part of a study group given a quick and inspirational tour of the tallest of these towers, and from near the top, I could see some of Milan’s new protected cycleways. I also spotted a Dutch-style roundabout and a Cyclops-style staggered road junction on a busy arterial. Later, I interviewed COIMA-sustainability officer Stefano Corbella at this junction, and then we walked through an urban park built over another arterial and chatted about the changing face of Milan and how private developers work with cities on increasing the number of active travel journeys.

Carlton Reid 2:16
Stefano, where are we are we are we in Milan right now overlooking this road? What is this road?

Stefano Corbella 2:43
This is Via Melchiorre Gioia, one of the main streets that connects the outskirts of Northern Milan, to the to the city centre going towards the Brera neighbourhood, one of the most historic and nice

neighbourhoods in Milan.

Carlton Reid 3:04
So, we’re on a pedestrian bridge over the road, yeah, flanked by each side by bike paths, how new are those bike paths here?

Stefano Corbella 3:13
Yeah, those bike lanes we developed as part of the Porta Nuova development.

There was nothing at all before we started working on the project. And we added approximately four kilometres of cycling path integrated with later other development that the city of Milan is done.

Carlton Reid 3:38
So this road was wider here. So there was more lanes for cars. And you’ve taken one lane away.

Given to the cyclists and the pedestrians?

Stefano Corbella 3:48
Exactly, exactly. And this was part of the bigger master plan that connected the four neighbourhoods and around because the Porta Nuova project stands for about one kilometres in length. And for a total of 190,000 square metre of total masterplan, which include the park and so on. So the it was important for us to create

a connection for pedestrian cycling, separated by, by design with from the vehicle or vehicle or roads.

Carlton Reid 4:25
So we’re not just walking past where you work. For COIMA. You’re the sustainability officer. Founded in 1974,

which is the developer of a number of plots, projects in Milan, but we are now walking through

into the park. So what’s this park?

Stefano Corbella 4:46
This is BAM, Biblioteca degli Alberi di Milano, is a park that we developed on behalf of the city of Milan and then now we manage to an agreement with the city and we take care about

Security, maintenance, but also and most important cultural activity and culture activation in in our neighbourhood.

Carlton Reid 5:10
And we are higher than road level here.

Stefano Corbella 5:14

Carlton Reid 5:14
So this is on stilts this is your this has been built up above the arterial road or the rest of the road.

Stefano Corbella 5:21
Yeah, on top of the road. Yeah, exactly one of the key issues of this master plan. And the challenges that we face when we started the design was the fact that the Melchiorre Gioia, and Via Della Liberazione were cutting in four corner it was to street just cut the, the entire site in the middle. So in order to make the public spaces more appealing, more quality to give quality spaces, we lift everything up about six metre. And we work with the landscaper to gently make the landscaper not even perceiving these six metre differences between ease or a neighbourhood that is down there with the Bosco Verticale. And the Piazza Gae Aulenti, that is here where we are walking at the moment.

Carlton Reid 6:16
So describe because this is the famous one that many people will have seen photographs of I’m sure what we can see now the as you said at the Bosco Verticale, so what is what is this?

Stefano Corbella 6:25

Bosco Verticale is a residential development, there are two towers, which we design with the I think the smart idea and interesting idea to implement trees, but I mean real trees, we have trees, about four metre high, five metre high in the balcony of the, of the,

design because it was nothing new in some ways because there are plenty of green spaces on balcony but this scale that we put into this project and the size of the trees that was the you know the the things that was pretty new.

Carlton Reid 7:28
Was it 2015 when it was finished?

Stefano Corbella 7:30
Yes, pretty much.

Carlton Reid 7:32
And then no well now what so we won’t be hearing the the car noise any more because it’s it’s as you say six metres below us. Yeah. So come into a very modern Deluxe office complexes are parked over that way but this is still a very vibrant space Yes 6pm at night.

But tell me what this was before before that obviously the road is here. But now what is this whole area what was it?

Stefano Corbella 8:02
It was a former railway yard. It was used in the beginning of the 19th century, then the train line was pushed back a little better. And but the area was left there for decades now with the abandoned railway with the you know nothing. They’re only you know, ground polluted by you know, the things that happen in in a railway and in the municipality of Milan and other developers try to develop the area for decades until a back in 2004, 2005 COIMA with the joint venture of investor started the development of Porta Nuova and with the with the entire site in one go, no and that was pretty amazing because finally, the project succeeded. We have been lucky that different mayor of Milan that pass through the time that we build everything

promoted the site promoted the development so we have been able to complete the project in fairly good time and at the end that we completed.

Carlton Reid 9:21
So your colleague Kelly in one of her talks of the day was talking about how when Isola when that was like reconnected yeah so you could you could then walk across from Yeah, in fact the park to go across you no longer had to go across the railway line or the busy road. That was a very joyous.

Stefano Corbella 9:39
Absolutely. Isola in the Italian word and in English is highlands and highlands because was surrounded by the former railway yard. And in order to get there from the city centre was a kind of a journey because you have to go through the railway. You have to

a tunnel within the train. So it was not an easy travel despite the distance from each other and Brera it few 100 metres but was completely blocked by the former railway yard. So when we open up the Piazza Gae Aulenti, and we have been able to connect it through that passage was was a kind of

joy moment for the residents of Isola.

Carlton Reid 10:32
And the bike infrastructure, the bike paths that are there now, were they planned originally or was this a later addition?

Stefano Corbella 10:39
No, no, it was all planned was all planned all the pathway. The design of the landscape was planned since the beginning. We build up in in phases, but there was a part of the plan that works, actually, after the project in the city of Milan also increased the connection further, because they

they find out that that was a good connection through Isola and the city centre.

Carlton Reid 11:11
So do you monitor as a developer do you monitor how many people are arriving by car, how many people arriving by metra, because we are surrounded by public transport here.

Stefano Corbella 11:22
Yeah, yeah.

Carlton Reid 11:23
And how people many by bicycle? Foot?

Stefano Corbella 11:25
Yeah, we we have a close monitoring of the pedestrian footfall, which has now reached more than 10 million people here in the Piazza Gae Aulenti. We are working to increase that footfall to 15 millions in the next few years by

addressing the cultural events here, the leisure

people enjoy to live in Porta Nuova and better it is because make the site more attractive and more livable and so on.

Carlton Reid 12:09
Now, COIMA is also involved in a Porto Ramona.


Stefano Corbella 12:17
Porta Romana.

Porta Romana

Carlton Reid 12:20
At least one of those is correct.

Which is going to be the site of in 2026, the Winter Olympic Village.

Stefano Corbella 12:30

Carlton Reid 12:31
That has obviously the the student accommodation on top. Yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s that’s kind of your part of the development. But underneath, there’s an awful lot of car parking space, which in today’s presentation was was very much you know, this is a very boring bit, we’re not going to talk about this very much we’re going to what the surface stuff, but then there’s an awful lot of space underneath — is it half? — is car parking.

Stefano Corbella 13:02

Carlton Reid 13:03
So, is that

And I kinda know the answer to this is that the municipality having a parking code. So, if you have a development you need x number of car parking spaces?

Stefano Corbella 13:16
Yeah, there is a national law which obliges new developments with certain end with a certain typology of building use to provide for parking space and that is a mandatory requirement.

Carlton Reid 13:31
So, there is no way you can avoid that?

Stefano Corbella 13:35
There are only few places where you can not apply that law and is in within historic centre like Rome, because obviously, there is no physical space to create or you know, technical difficulties to create any basement in such a historic centres. But for other for other parts of typically, all the development has to provide that amount of capacity even though in some cases, we as a developer, we know that we will probably not need such amount of parking.

Carlton Reid 14:12
This is student housing …

Stefano Corbella 14:13

Carlton Reid 14:14
… you’re building and students famously probably do not have their own cars so you will not need all that space.

Stefano Corbella 14:20
What we have done, what we are doing, is that the first level of parking, we design and we will build with a slightly higher floor to ceiling height.

with in order to build up some flexibility to repurpose that area in the future if we will be able to change the use of that.

Carlton Reid 14:42
Do you think it will be used as parking during the Olympics for the month but you haven’t yet but then maybe afterwards is you so no, no, I’m gonna say look forward and do so far with this law?

Stefano Corbella 14:53
That is going to be a kappa there’s no way we can change. One day if this law

will be no, no longer applicable. And because the car parking we expect that will be used less and less, especially in well connected cities, we will have a lot of space that is unfit. No? And so the idea is let’s build a floor that would be able to accommodate other function. So to use the space, otherwise, we will have an empty space for nothing.

Carlton Reid 15:25
Yes. So many cities or many countries around the world are removing those or trying to remove those parking minimums, because this …

Stefano Corbella 15:34
France, London

if you’re closer to public transportation, you have a derogation on that.

Carlton Reid 15:41
So, do politicians in Italy recognise that other countries are removing the parking minimums be no matter what other countries are doing we should remove parking minimums because from a sustainability point of view, parking minimums now kind of crazy.

Stefano Corbella 15:57
Yeah, I don’t know.

I certainly hopw that with this will be taken into consideration by future legislation, because I think in some places make totally sense not to push for that amount of parking, because sometimes we believe is not needed. So it’s a waste of money. It’s

an impact on on the environment, because you build more space for for things, but we will see. Hopefully, they will at some point will be taken into consideration.

Carlton Reid 16:35
And going back to this development here. Again, something that I think it was Kelly, who mentioned this was that in the in the original master plan, the there was much more of the roads that are around here. were much, much worse, supposed to be much narrower. Yeah. cobbles, maybe. And it was the municipality who said no, leave it as a highway now. So do developers, such as yourselves? Try and do things and municipalities, for whatever reasons, push back? Are developers actually, further ahead of what we need in this world?

Stefano Corbella 17:21
Sometimes, yes. But it is as as you know, it’s it’s a negotiation, you know, we may not see something that the municipality see or they have in the plan, what we can do is to try to demonstrate our, you know, thesis with calculation, we are the, and we always have

all the all the things works, and we don’t want to necessarily narrow streets, because they look pretty, we want the street that works for the purpose of the function that have to do. So we have transport consultant. And if we believe that

street could be smaller is because there’s there’s a calculation that demonstrate a simulation that demonstrate that, but you know, is a negotiation with the municipality, and sometimes we win the discussion. Sometimes we lose the discussion. At the end of the day, I think the project is, is is is beautiful is a nice place. People love it.

Carlton Reid 18:37
So are he roads that are out, basically are outside of your development. So the exterior one, obviously the one that’s coming through here, you’re above it, you’re not you’re not interacting with it below, but the ones outside. So that’s the municipality who have put

the bike paths in? Or is there?

Stefano Corbella 18:58
No, no. As part of the in for this project, because it was so big. And in general for big, huge urban regeneration project.

There’s uban agreement between the developer and the public authority, and typically happens that the developer has to pay taxes for the building that they built, and for the urbanisation, and that is two way, you can pay by cash to the municipality or you can give back in equal value infrastructure works. So we take we we’ve been taking care about the design of everything, including the public spaces, all the infrastructure, and we built on behalf of the city. And then once we completed the ownership

was given back to the city so we did everything and we gave back to the city

Carlton Reid 20:00
Because outside when we’re when we’re very high up, and we’re looking down at everything you had some from from I’m a I’m a bike geek. Yeah. I kind of know the infrastructure that’s been built here. But there’s like a roundabout. Yeah. With it’s like Dutch style roundabout. Yeah, the priority to the cyclists go round it outside. And then at the junction where we started the UK, that’s that’s called a cyclops junction, where the red is for the pedestrians and the cyclists, it gets, you know, cyclists and pedestrians across these major, major junctions. So were they, you might have built them, did the municipality provide the designs for them?

Stefano Corbella 20:44
No, we did the also the design and we had to, you know, get their approval from the municipality. You know, everything has been designed and built by us. There are certain rules that we have to follow those design guidelines, specifically provided by the municipality, so we had to follow those guidelines. Once we completed the design, we gave back to the municipality for approval, we had to provide the bill of quantity than the cost because obviously, you have to match the equivalent of the taxes that you have to pay so and that has to be checked by a third party. And in order to match the equivalent amount of money that you have to give back through taxes. But the design is, is all by as, approved by the municipality.

Carlton Reid 21:36
At this point, let’s take a quick commercial interlude with my colleague, David.

David Bernstein 21:40
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 EFBE, 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 ones 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 22:50
Thanks, David. And we’re back with COIMA’s Stefan Corbella as we continue our amble through BAM.

Rather than looking at this this particular project where we are now going just in general across maybe any number of projects that COIMA is involved now are going to be involved with

do you see the pedestrianisation that you have here and the bike paths? Do you see that as something that that’s only going to get bigger and bigger and bigger in the future?

Stefano Corbella 23:23
I totally agree. In fact in Porta Romana, we are actually doing the same exactly the same things. Porta Romana has two lines of train cutting in the middle of the master plan. We are rising the landscape to get across with the park get across the railway. And we are building up like a bridge the

the forester spacer the suspended forest in this case, that cover with a pedestrian path, all the two train lines. So in the landscape will be way better. The train will pass without any any interruption. And most important pedestrian and cycling paths will pass without any trouble and problem without crossing any cars.

Carlton Reid 24:19
And so in the London Olympics, and I’m many of the Olympics, I guess there were the roads because London’s a very congested city they had VIP Olympic lanes. So only a Olympic officials, athletes could drive in these lanes. Is that something that?

Stefano Corbella 24:39

Well, the, the I’m not sure. What I know is that within the Olympic village or the there are there will be a protection around it. And certain parts of the street will be restricted for security purposes. But I’m not I’m not

aware about the street that is being given the VIP path? That I don’t know.

Carlton Reid 25:06
Okay. And do you envisage athletes and people who are connected to the Olympics to use bikes to get around?

Stefano Corbella 25:15
I don’t know.

I don’t know. I don’t know.

Carlton Reid 25:19
Because that isn’t part of the sustainability plan. No, we need X amount of people to be not in cars?

Stefano Corbella 25:26
No, there is no requirement. Although all the Olympic village and the building that we are built, building, there is quite a huge cycling storage for the future student because we will build the Olympic village but then the buildings will be converted straight afterwards into the student housing. And the idea is to make it very design and the properly the building in order to make these changes very quickly. Because the academic year starts in September. So we want to be sure that we have the students that can use the buildings straight after the Olympic

Olympic season.

Carlton Reid 26:14
And every chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Stefano Corbella 26:19

Carlton Reid 26:19
So as a developer, you may provide very, very good bike paths through Olympic village and through through here, etc. But then when people get outside of the perimeter there, then just the municipality, yeah, is what they provide. Now, do you lobby Do you ask the municipality look, if we’re going to build all these fantastic bike lanes here, can you please make sure that this extends to the Duomo, extends to here, extends to the station?

Stefano Corbella 26:52
Yeah, it’s, yeah, when we when, as I mentioned, we have traffic consultants in our projects. And obviously, we we check the continuity of the bike lane, and you know, not to build a bike lane that is 100 metre long and then start and stop in the middle of nothing. No, because that will be

will be okay, but a waste of money.

Carlton Reid 27:22
So I know this is Isola as an island. But yeah, so you’re not looking at a development as an island and you provide great stuff. You know that for the plan for it to work it has to be an area.

Stefano Corbella 27:35
Yeah, yeah. And to be honest, at the beginning, I remember that the beginning of the project.

to tell you on other things is the city of Milan has changed the the mindset, in bike lane, in green areas, and so on. I remember 15 years ago, 20 years ago, the municipality or in general the city was sceptic about planting trees. Now the city of Milan has a plan to plant 3 million trees, now is completely change their mindset fortunately.

Carlton Reid 28:35
I was in a brand new cafe that opened this afternoon on Via Tunisia. Eroica.

So that’s a famous race in Italy. And this is the third cafe. And the manager who I was speaking to there, had had just been speaking to in fact, they left as as I came in, with the mayor

with about five or six people from the, from the municipality, yeah, talking to the manager and looking at this new cafe. Now, the managers said, and I know politicians will say anything, but the mayor said that they are very serious, very serious about getting rid of cars.

Stefano Corbella 29:21
Yeah, I know.

Carlton Reid 29:22
And is this something you’ve heard before?

No, no, no.

Stefano Corbella 29:40
it’s a much more pleasant city with less cars, way more pleasant. And

Carlton Reid 29:48
But is it feasible though?

Stefano Corbella 29:52
Yeah, yeah. I think I believe in certain in certain areas, with well connected public transportation

it should it could be feasible.

But, you know, we will see how we develop certainly is an improvement of quality of the city. That’s for sure.

Carlton Reid 30:11
I should do my research here. But how long is the mayor being the mayor for? How long has he got left? And if if a city mayor went to the city’s resident and said, I’m going to be taking lots of cars

out of the city, would that mayor be voted in again?

Stefano Corbella 30:31
He just started his second mandate? So he has other almost four full years. He’s just started the second mandate. So has a long way.

Carlton Reid 30:44
Would he be voted in again? And this is a hard question, but would he be voted in again if he had a plan to remove many cars? Is that something that you think Milan people would be?

Stefano Corbella 30:53
Well, that would be I think, Milan has several things. That will be one of the many. I’m not sure they will, these aspects will be key to

Carlton Reid 31:09
being voted in again?

Stefano Corbella 31:11
I think there are many other reasons. I think he’s done a very good job. And, you know, there’s four years to, in front of us.

Carlton Reid 31:21
So it’s a good sign that he’s he’s going into a bike cafe.

Stefano Corbella 31:24
Exactly. That’s definitely a good sign.

Thanks to Stefano Corbella and thanks to you for listening to Episode 317 of the Spokesmen podcast. Links to COIMA’ developments, including Bosco Verticale, can be found on the show notes at The next episode will be on the role of data in getting more people on bikes, but meanwhile have a Merry Christmas and here’s to a green and happy New Year and, as always, get out there and ride …

December 13, 2022 / / Blog

13th December 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 316: Milan to banish cars, Mayor promises manager of Eroica Caffe

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Andrea Benesso

TOPICS: Eroica cycling cafe in Milan.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 316 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Tuesday, the 13th of December 2022.

David Bernstein 0:27
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
I was in Milan the other week and popped into the brand new Eroica cafe in the city centre. The mayor and his entourage were there also. And after they left I asked cafe manager Andrea Benesso whether Mayor Sala really aims to reduce the dominance of cars in this most motor fixated of cities. I’m Carlton Reid, and I enjoyed cycling along Milan’s new cycleways, including the one that got me to the Eroica cafe. This cycling themed cafe — owned by the 25-year-old-this-year Eroica ride has taken over a former car accessories shop. So maybe that’s a sign of things to come. Here’s my chat with Andrea …

Andrea Benesso 1:55
So, henre we are sorry for.

Carlton Reid 1:57
That’s okay. You have important guests.

So good to meet you. Thank you for

Andrea Benesso 2:04
thanks to you for being here.

Carlton Reid 2:05
Oh, that’s okay. So this is really new, like a week.

Andrea Benesso 2:09
Actually is the first day because we opened 15 days ago, but then COVID

There was a COVID problem with the staff. Okay, so

today is the second day yesterday was the first one.

Carlton Reid 2:25
So you are quite busy for being very, very new.

Andrea Benesso 2:28
Yeah, it is very good too. Yesterday it was also the first event with a bike traveller, and we had 300 people here. It was super cool evening. Very nice.

Carlton Reid 2:39
Who was the bike traveller?

Andrea Benesso 2:40
Is Lorenzo Barona. He travelled from South Africa to Siberia.

This year, and then three years ago, he pedalled the inci barrier during the winter is a super tough and super nice guy, but he’s very young. He’s 26 years old, but he has already a lot of stories to tell and also is an inspiration.

Carlton Reid 3:03
Like my son, my son, he’s 25. And he is in Morocco right now?

Andrea Benesso 3:07
Really? Great. Yeah, great.

Carlton Reid 3:10
So this is the fourth third cafe?

Andrea Benesso 3:14
Actually is the second one because the first one is in Padova.

This there is another one but I very small in in Tuscany …

The second one is in Tuscany, but it’s very small. It’s more like it’s more like a shop than a cafe. And then there is another one in Barcelona, which actually is the first one but it’s not.


the ownership is not from by Eroica. It’s something is a little bit different. I can say that this is the second one.

Carlton Reid 3:56
Is it a

name a brand name or owned by one company?

Andrea Benesso 4:02
Yeah, one company, one company, one company. Yeah. And half of this company is Eroica and the other half is

an entrepreneur of

food and beverage


Carlton Reid 4:19
Who’s that? Who’s the who’s the partner?

Andrea Benesso 4:22
Is Totaro.

The name of the family is Totaro.

Carlton Reid 4:26
Okay. And

with the event,

so you kind of make money on the event only at certain times. This makes money throughout the year. Is that the reason for cafes or what there is a cultural reason.

Andrea Benesso 4:42
First of all, it’s a very nice story to tell because, you know, the founder of Eroica is Giancarlo Brocci is a journalist. Yeah, he’s an extraordinary man with a lot of stories. It’s very interesting person. And he always is he has a nicer about it because he says that we

When he was a really little kid, I mean, three years ago, four or three years old, four years old, old, he was already able to read. And he did Tuscany of 60 years ago. And most of the people was unable to read. And so they old man, T two came on the cafe over the, you know, the old Cafe Italian Cafe era, to read the Gazzetta dello Sport about cycling. Because, you know, 60 years ago cycling in Italy was was everything more than football more than politics more than everything. So Brocci grew up reading Gazzetta dello Sport to the farmers and very humble people unable to read reading about Coppi and Bartali and Tour de France and everything else. So great.

So when Giancarlo grew up and become a man, he invented Eroica and the roots of Eroica was in a cafe. Because his first experience about cycling was reading newspapers about Coppi and Bartali in a cafe in in Tuscany. So the idea of taking back right corner on a cafe was there since the beginning. Okay, and so the idea behind that Eroica Cafe is to take this spirit, these emotions, you know, it’s very traditional of the values of historical cycling the values of historical cyclists back here and in Milan is very interesting, because you know, Milan is like London, you know, everything is very fast about business.

But the idea is to take here, also the idea to take time for your passions, for values to meet people to enjoy food to enjoy a coffee, and wine. It’s not all about cycling is, is especially about one viva, you know, it’s while leaving.

Carlton Reid 7:08
Yes. So that moved on my next question. I guess you’re not just attracting cyclists here. These are people who are probably not cyclists.

Andrea Benesso 7:15
Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Carlton Reid 7:18
It’s a way of branding it and

setting that

is an aesthetic to attract a general.

Andrea Benesso 7:31
Exactly. You said. You said that perfectly. I mean, that cycling, is this a starting point?

To speak about everything about life, you know that the claim of Eroica is?

Common with me because I don’t remember exactly in English is.

Yeah, exactly. You know,

moving to the cafe

is the beauty. Exactly, and the trailer with a common question, and this is about cycling. But is this about life, you know, it’s not only cycling. So what we like to do is to take people here, and to enjoy this value, even if you’re another cyclist. But a cycling is a starting point, because it’s fascinating.

Carlton Reid 8:18
But in Italy, do you think the general population and I’m talking to like a UK perspective? Yeah, where a cycling cafe would not be terribly exciting to a general population. But do you think in Italy, because maybe cycling and the sport of cycling is more recognised? This is more mainstream that it would be an analyst difficult question, but it’s more mainstream in Italy than perhaps it would be in another country?

Andrea Benesso 8:43
I have to say that in Italy, we have a stronger you have a stronger roots on cycling

on a cultural point of view, because of you know, Giro d’Italia is something that when I was a kid a little too, a little kid, I saw that every day on on TV, because for my father, it was a tradition, you know,

Carlton Reid 9:04
You’re a cyclist?

Andrea Benesso 9:05
yeah, sure.

And, and for every men of my age, and or even older or younger, to see Giro d’Italia is a tradition that you can’t avoid.

And so it’s it’s true that in Italy, cycling is for everyone. If you’re even if you’re another cyclists, you know what we are talking about. But I think that now, everywhere in the world, I also in England, in England, I was there a month ago. I think that more and more cycling is, is becoming global because it’s

isn’t not more about racing. It’s about enjoying life, enjoy moments,

being good and

Doing good moments with friends so or even alone, but you know when when you’re alone and you feel good on a bike, you’re living good.

Carlton Reid 10:08
So dolce vita?

Andrea Benesso 10:10

Carlton Reid 10:11
So what was this building before?

Andrea Benesso 10:14
Yes, very fun.

Carlton Reid 10:17
There’s an auto on the …

Andrea Benesso 10:19
Yeah, exactly. It was a traditional shop of

motor and bike pieces.

motorbike or motorbike. Motorbike a PC is very can be in Italian in English. Exactly. You know when you small parts.

Carlton Reid 10:37
Okay, accessory.

Andrea Benesso 10:39
Yeah, accessory. Exactly. So it’s very fun because we decided to take the

brand outside to leave it here because it’s fun to to read from cars to bike. You know, it’s a it’s a nice and fun evolution. Yes, yes, absolutely.

Carlton Reid 10:59
Swords to Ploughshares.

Andrea Benesso 11:01
Yeah. And also the details that you can see inside this one. And this one is old. It’s the old elements of the of the traditional shop.

Carlton Reid 11:13
Okay. And then you have bikes hanging on the wall, some some new bikes, the Canyon.

Andrea Benesso 11:19
Yeah, yeah, sure.

Carlton Reid 11:19
That’s obviously a new gravel bike.

Andrea Benesso 11:22
Yeah, because Eroica is not only classical bikes, but it’s also gravel bikes. It’s also modern cycling, but it’s also with

traditional style. I mean that even if you bike, if you buy a carbon gravel bike from a Canyon, or from Colnago, that’s okay. But we ask you to pedal it with Eroica style. I mean, enjoy your moment. Enjoy your life. And after the ride, have a beer with your friends, meet people.

Carlton Reid 11:56
It’s more than 25 years old now. It’s been a surprising amount of time.

Andrea Benesso 12:01
Yeah, it’s 25. This is the 25th year of Eroica is very good.

Celebration is it was this year.

There were 9500 people taking part to Eroica in Gaiole. And we are talking about one one of the greatest nonprofit cycling event in the world. With people coming from everywhere in the world, more than half of the people was from abroad. And that means that your that you had the possibility to meet their people from Japan that took one week to come there to find an historical bike to pedal and it’s you know, it’s a very stronger

Carlton Reid 12:54
The strade bianche, you can you can there’s a on the website, you can ride the route, even when it’s not the event.

Sure, you can the event it the route is mapped.

Andrea Benesso 13:01
And yeah, because this is the this is very important because it is not only an event, it’s a community movement, if I can say that. So it’s important to say to everyone that

Eroica one, first of all to promote

an area which is Tuscany, and style. And you can do that every time in during the year not only during the event.

Gaiole in Chianti, which is the main stage, I can say that to have the Eroica is a very small community and town. But now it’s an international, small town about cycling. Everyone in the world knows. Everyone in the world knows that Gaiole in Chianti thanks to Eroica.

Carlton Reid 13:49
And so this is a gravel bike. So strade bianche, gravel roads.

Andrea Benesso 13:54

Carlton Reid 13:54
So this was this is many, many years before gravel cycling.

Andrea Benesso 13:59
Yeah, sure.

Carlton Reid 14:00
Gravel cycling is way ahead of the trend. But you’re also you’re in other countries. So on the placemat here. You’re talking about other countries you’ve expanded to. Yes, South Africa …

Andrea Benesso 14:14
Yeah, a lot of countries.

I don’t know remember exactly the number I think more than 15 countries in the world, California, Japan, South Africa,

Carlton Reid 14:25

Andrea Benesso 14:27
Eroica Britannia and

yeah, that is

you know, a symbol in some way of how these values are international are not Italian are for everyone. Every cyclists can enjoy this kind of

way to pedal and to enjoy moments.

Carlton Reid 14:53
Where do you come from so we know where the buildings come from, but where have you come from?

Andrea Benesso 14:58
I’m ….


Ciao. Ciao ciao. I’m from Padova

Carlton Reid 15:05
Workwise What were you doing before this?

Andrea Benesso 15:08

I, I work for Eroica.

Carlton Reid 15:15

Andrea Benesso 15:15
I work organisation already.

No Eroica I, the first,

the founders of Eroica are from Tuscany. Giancarlo Brocci is the first one is the real founder. There are now many people that work for for Eroica, right the family is so big family now.

Carlton Reid 15:37
How many people?

Andrea Benesso 15:41
I don’t know exactly the name the number. But

in only in Italy, I can say more than 10.

And if you consider also Eroica caffe, I can say more than 30 people.

So it’s like a

big family. And what I can say about that is that you can feel that to every people that work in Eroical family is very passionate about the Eroica, even if you’re some people inside the Eroica family is not a cyclist, but it’s not, it doesn’t matter.

Carlton Reid 16:18
And then the model is your first days loads last night was an event. So this is what you plan to do your hang ups.

Andrea Benesso 16:29
Yes. You can imagine right a cafe as something with the two souls and one is on our cafe and restaurant, where you, you can come here and enjoy the food or Ryan or a cafe. And the other one is cultural space, cultural space where you can enjoy events, or bike rides, or

many moments

that we build for every

kind of cyclist, road cyclists, gravel cyclists or bike travellers,

urban cyclists, we have to, we want to we want to be the house of every kind of cyclists, every kind of people that use bikes. You’re during his day, and your race is life.

Carlton Reid 17:21
Are there plans for, say, Rome, other cities.

Andrea Benesso 17:25
Yeah, we plan to expand to everywhere in Europe, and also

the States. Eroica Caffe is a big, really big project. Wow. Yeah, there’s a while.

Carlton Reid 17:37
And then you mentioned the urban cyclists. So tell me about, like cycling in Milan, and maybe how it’s, you tell me if it’s changed?

How is cycling here in the city? Is it improving?

for urban cyclists?

Andrea Benesso 17:54
Yeah, it’s improving a lot is not

Carlton Reid 17:59
Such any roads. I was on a bike lane all the way here.

Andrea Benesso 18:01
Yeah. Yeah.

It changed a lot during the last five years. Also, thanks to the last

mayor that was here some minutes ago. And the cycling community is really important, and only in Milan. More and more people

here are using bike bikes to move in the city. So we have a community, a big community, made by different people, I mean, you can find the urban commuters and then

people that use cargo bikes to deliveries, and then

classical road cyclists, and then gravel bikers, every kind of cyclists, the community is getting bigger. And I think that after COVID bike is now our concrete option to move in the city is something that I saw in London for example, I noticed that more and more people are

so that and realise that bike is

often the best solution to move in the city.

Carlton Reid 19:20
Well, I

I am 20 minutes away by by walking. So I was looking on my app should I cycle here should I walk, you know, get my bike out, my bike at the exact all these things I’m thinking about but then there’s the will I can see within about five minutes if I cycle so that’s just for me a no brainer. I got many things to do today. So I will cycle to get here and then I was wonderfully surprised by how many nice bike lanes that were. So So I got like a the breeze, but it is cold right now. Anybody who thinks that you know I’m in Milan and I’m sunningg myself I’m not it is cold here as in the UK, yet there are still

So lots of people cycling. Yeah, they’ve wrapped up incredibly warming at Woodlands. And just as you would be in, in northern Europe, you know, way Northern Europe.

So that’s been surprising that people are cycling. Clearly year round. It’s not a summer thing.

Andrea Benesso 20:15
Yeah, yeah. Cycle all the time. Yeah, yeah, this is

an evolution that I saw during the last three or four years

here need to do we realise that biking is possible also during the winter, I, in my opinion, I can say that it’s better in the winter, if you have to go gloating, then in the summer, when, you know, when it’s very hot, it’s hot. You can have you can escape, you can’t escape.

Carlton Reid 20:45
So what can the municipality do to improve things for cyclists? What because they there’s some bike lanes, I’m guessing they’re not everywhere. So there are some major ones on the major routes, they put bike lanes in, but what else could the municipality do?

Andrea Benesso 21:00
some very complicated matter matter, because, you know, it’s about safety, it’s about culture, it’s about offering people inter modality, if I can say that showed the possibility to take the biker on the underground on the train on the buses. So, I think that you can, you have to work on the bike lanes, build the spaces, where you can cycling safe, but you have to work also on the cultural side,

saying by saying to people that biker is

useful, is some is faster, is cheaper, that is, is almost always the better solution. And it’s not simple to do that because if you speak with a cyclist, you know, you seem immediately it can understand that. But if you if you think if you speak with a peep with a man of 50 years old,

who always used car is not easy to to convince him to switch to a tall bike younger people you think that the younger people is easier in my opinion, because they they are growing up with

a cultural

there they are aware about, you know, the climate issues, and they are not so for them, it’s not important to have a car as a status symbol.

In my opinion, young people

under already understood that we have to convince adults about switching they are about changing their lifestyle.

Carlton Reid 22:51
At this point, I’d like to get across my colleague David for a short ad break.

David Bernstein 22:56
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 EFBE, 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 ones 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 24:05
Thanks David. And we are back in the Eroica cafe in Milan with Andrea Benesso. And if there were no cars here in such a dream world, would it be very easy to cycle everywhere in Milan Anyway Is it a good city for getting around on a bike?

Andrea Benesso 24:23
Yes, perfect. It is completely flat is more is really small because if you compare Milan to London for example, I don’t know exactly but I think that is

very very small. By in half an hour you can cross Milan.

Everything is very close.

And also a nice thing to say that it is that you feel go outside to Milan in 20 minutes you are in the countryside. So why not?

Carlton Reid 24:55
You will have road groups leaving from the shop?

Andrea Benesso 24:58
Yeah, we’re going out

you plan to do normally it’s probably not know yet, but we are working to do that every week there are there are also other bikes in Milan that are already doing that because it’s nice, you know, to, to enjoy cycling with our friends and to go on the countryside also even in the mountains, going into the mountains from here is not too far it’s something more than an hour by bike.

Carlton Reid 25:26
And where exactly are we? Maybe such that’s a strange question to ask this this for it, but where are we in Milan?

Andrea Benesso 25:34
We are close to the train main train station. So it’s a very one of the most important point of the cities and we are five minutes by bike from the Duomo 10 minutes, you know,

Carlton Reid 25:47
that’s what I’m doing afterwards. I’m gonna

Andrea Benesso 25:48
Yeah, exactly is everything is very close. Yet. This is also

up now, Mara with the city that is becoming more and more cool.

So it’s interesting to be here, it’s a good point for for a bike cafe.

Carlton Reid 26:06
And then I mentioned there that if you remove the cars that other cities are doing that in Paris is doing this and removing parking places and living cars. Is Milan, does Milan have that meant to the municipality? Do they not only want to encourage cycling and encourage walking but also have in their mind that we must actually reduce the number of cars? Do you see that as a concept?

Andrea Benesso 26:33
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we were talking about that with the mayor of the city just yeah, half an hour ago. And it’s

this is the point. Because you have to

push people to use the bike. But you have also to

Carlton Reid 26:51
the carrot and the stick.

Andrea Benesso 26:52
Yeah, exactly. The carrot and the stick is perfectly.

Carlton Reid 26:56
But when you talk to the mayor, that is something that you can talk to the mayor about. And the mayor will say yes, this is what we want to do.

Andrea Benesso 27:05
Yeah, sure. The mayor told told us that he wants to reduce the number of cars in Milan.

And if if you want to if you want to do that, if you are have this goal, you have to do many things.

Carlton Reid 27:22
But when in other cities, other mayors

even breath such a concept, they may not get voted in this next time. So this is very political.

Andrea Benesso 27:36
Yeah, it’s very political.

Carlton Reid 27:37
See, he doesn’t envisage any. He thinks this is a vote winner?

Andrea Benesso 27:43
I don’t know. I don’t know. But you have to be. I think that a good politician has to be brave now, right now, not only about cycling, but also about the environment,

about the quality of life. You have to be brave and to change things, even if maybe a lot of a lot of people won’t be happy about that.

Carlton Reid 28:07
Then many people wouldn’t be happy about that. But maybe the older people

don’t know. We’re all older.

Andrea Benesso 28:14
Yeah, I suppose. Because I hope you know, for me, I have two kids. And I hope that for them that we as generation

of adults will be able to change something. We can’t leave to our children this world like that.

More coffee shops, less cars.

Carlton Reid 28:40
Bicycle themed coffee shops, less cars.

Andrea Benesso 28:43

Carlton Reid 28:45
Thanks to Andrea Banesso there and thanks to you for listening to Episode 316 of the spokesmen podcast.Details about Eroica cafes can be found on the show notes at the The next episode will also be Milan shaped. But meanwhile, get out there and ride.

December 8, 2022 / / Blog

8th December 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 315: World Champion Transportation Cyclist Beryl Burton — Book Chat With Author Jeremy Wilson

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Jeremy Wilson

TOPICS: The amazing Beryl Burton, with author Jeremy Wilson

LINKS: Beryl (Jeremy’s book)


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 315 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was recorded on Thursday, eighth December 2022.

David Bernstein 0:23
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
Liquorice All-sorts. Rhubarb. And a multi-award-winning biography of the hard-as-nails transportation cyclist Beryl Burton who also won a few things, like world championships but not, as author Jeremy Wilson here explains, Olympic medals. I’m Carlton Reid and this episode of the Spokesmen podcast runs long, very long, but listen in and you’ll be as transfixed as I was by Jeremy’s stellar research. His biography of Beryl Burton says it’s in search of Britain’s greatest athlete but, as we discuss, Beryl is probably the world’s greatest athlete, capable in her day of coasting past the best men of her era and, famously, giving them encouragement, brickbats or jersey-pocket-stashed sweets. We talked for two hours and it could have been much more. Are you sitting comfortably, Jeremy?

Jeremy Wilson 2:11
I am, yeah, I’m all good. Thanks.

Carlton Reid 2:13
OK. So let’s leap into it what I loved your book, obviously as as everybody else of course. So congratulations on William Hill sports book of the year. Financial Times best sports book of 2022 Waterstones — you’ve won everything is there anything you haven’t won this year, Jeremy?

Jeremy Wilson 2:32
I don’t know. It’s a bit of a it’s a bit of a surprise and pleasant surprise to to have people say nice things about it. Because obviously, you don’t really know and you’re you’re in a bit of a tunnel when you do these things, you don’t quite know what people are gonna think. And it was really important to me as well. But the family they didn’t they place no sort of requirements or they didn’t ask me to change anything or leave something out or not speak to a certain person. And the big thing for me really was that they thought thought it was a fair portrayal and that they, they learned new things as well, which was nice here because I don’t think barrel was a big talker. You know, it wasn’t that that mentality wasn’t to talk, you know, share your feelings and talk about things that she was always on to the next thing so I think Denise found it interesting to hear what other people thought about her mum and certain stories that she didn’t know as well. So yeah, it’s been lovely to get such a nice reaction to it.

Carlton Reid 3:29
And there’s also Yvonne Reynders also she you kind of like gave her stuff that she didn’t know like you know, the fact she was like you know feeling bad that back that day? Yeah,

Jeremy Wilson 3:41
yes. Yeah, she didn’t it was quite interesting because you could there was such a deep emotional connection between Yvonne Reynders and obviously barrel that you could still see really exists and you can imagine that that would be so because they obviously spent about a decade as main rivals and they would see each other mostly just at the World Championships but maybe at the odd invitation or event you know, even renders could come over to her and heal and barrel might go and do something in Belgium but generally they had this distance and even render speaks no English as I discovered and speaks quite a strong dialect. Flemish dialect which even the people I was with, were struggling with a little bit at time so and obviously Barrow was pure Yorkshire so they didn’t communicate but there was this it was quite touching really because when I got out Barrows autobiography personal best, which I took with me even renders had never seen it and she she thumbed straight away to the photograph section. And of course, she was in some of the pictures. There was a few podiums, and a few pictures of them racing as well. One of them on the Isle of Man and she was quite tearful when she saw them, and she didn’t really know that wider story of what happened to bear or after she finished competing at the world stage, and was quite emotional, really about that and hearing what had happened to bear or very clearly remember Charlie, Beryl’s husband and Denise, Beryl’sdaughter, from seeing them at these competitions. But it got me that I mean, there were so many tangents and that was fascinating about the story. But that one about the sort of the relationship between rivals in sport I found quite interesting to think about, because you can imagine there is a really there, at the time, there’s such ferocious competitors, they probably wish the other one wasn’t there, because they were, you know, they would have had double the World Championships almost without the other one. But I think, over time, they come to almost appreciate the fact that they were racing against someone so good, because it brought them to a higher level, you know, a bit like the tennis now with the Federer-Djokovic era, and you sort of see it in other other sports as well.

Carlton Reid 6:00
So Armstrong and Ullrich.

Jeremy Wilson 6:02
Yeah, that kind of stuff.

Carlton Reid 6:04
I’m sure we’ll get on to Yvonne again, but just kind of like mentioned there that like the shouldn’t know, Yvonne didn’t know her post racing career. And of course, Beryl died young. But what what relatively young, but what you say in the book is you because you’ve gone to interview all of these these people who are racing against Beryl, who are a goodly age and you say in the book, you say, you know, cycling has probably extended these people’s lives, whereas Of course, in Beryl’s case it didn’t. But do you think that you know that the standard thing where you know, cycling is meant to give you an extra 10 years of your life? Did you actually think Beryl’s life was actually cut short by the fact she was so Yorkshire grit and always pushing through? I know you’re not medical so you can’t say that but did you have a feeling there?

Jeremy Wilson 6:58
Yes, I think so. And I think it’s that’s pretty clear because she was she had this illness as a child where she had this attack of the nervous system, and had rheumatic fever, some illness called St. Vitus dance and was in hospital and then convalescing for two years, at the age of 11, to 13. And she was told when she went back home, not to extend herself physically, and she did a medical when she first began work at the age of 15, as well in the tailors called Montague Burton, where she met Charlie Burton. And they again, they found this irregular rhythm in her heart. So she was pushing through that throughout her career, and she did have particularly in her last 10, 15 years, repeatedly looking at the the newspaper and magazine cuttings. She was reporting that doctors were telling her that she must stop she shouldn’t keep pushing herself. Denise, her daughter told me that she and her her dad, Charlie, Beryl’s husband were telling her to stop. I don’t think they wanted her to stop cycling, but they wanted her to stop wanting to go as fast as she possibly could. Because obviously, like, as you said, something that was really nice to see about the book was that so many of her contemporaries, she barely would be 85. Now, if she lived, was still really thriving, you know, her great recollections of what they did a lot of them were still riding their bikes, you know, to their 80s, even 90s in some cases. And so it was a good advert for cycling overall. But clearly Beryl had this competitiveness in her this sort of need to strive to do her very best. And she, she came into the sport with these heart issues that were caused by her childhood illness, and she just ignored it. She just wouldn’t have it. You know, she just wouldn’t stop and that was obviously the spirit that drove her to train so hard and and produce these just extraordinary feats, but it was entwined with her early death, almost certainly, as you say, obviously, medically, I’m not qualified to say for sure that there was a direct correlation. But certainly that’s I think that’s fair to say. That’s how her family feel that’s very likely and she was being told not to push herself and she was still going for it. There was the national 10-mile championships following weekend she was entered. And she wasn’t people assume that because she was in her late 50s. And still riding that she was still sort of turning up in it in a slightly more sociable way. But she was still out there to win in her mind. That was all her friends and people who were cycling at the time said not not not in a sort of nasty way in any way. She was still chat chatty after the races but she couldn’t approach it any other way. She wanted to be the absolute best and fastest she could. And she was still doing huge numbers of miles. There was an interview with her with a BBC that I came across that was from about 94, 95. I think she said, ‘I need 30,000 miles before I’m ready to race,’ you know, because for each season, I think that was the right number. That might be completely ridiculous. I need to do my math. I’m pretty sure that it’s in the book, but I’m pretty sure that was what she said. And that was, you know, when she was in her late 50s. So yeah, and so I found that fascinating that drive that she had, which I think you find in quite a few great sports people. And but it obviously was almost certainly linked to her tragically cut short life really? Yeah, it’s hard. It’s hard to separate the two because it honestly part of what made her or very much what made her so extraordinary.

Carlton Reid 11:00
So I would like to delve into that that psychology because you certainly delve into it. I also in this episode, I want to absolutely talk about how you took her bike and you put it on in the wind tunnel. That’s that’s also fascinating about you know what she’d do today? If if you can, you can, you could compare those two things. I’d very much like to start where you both started and ended your book with this story. And it is it is the story that I guess everybody in cycling knows in it, there’s a there’s a podcast BBC podcast called You’re Dead To Me. And that has a segment called ‘So what do you know?’ and that is the segment where the presenter says, you know, this is the bit that people will probably know about this particular historical figure, and then they massively expand on it. So that the thing that I think most people certainly in cycling, will know is the Licorice All-sorts. So even even I, you know, know that story. And I’m not I’m not the greatest of a cycle racing fan. I’m like more of a like a Tour de France kind of person instead of following every single race throughout the year. But even I know that, that story. So just for anybody who maybe doesn’t know that story. And I’m I’m kind of like maybe being very abusive to listeners here by saying you know, you do or you don’t know the story. But just tell us about the story, because it’s a very famous story. And that the protagonist, who obviously is involved in this story as well, Mac? Yes?

Jeremy Wilson 12:31
Yeah, a guy called Mike McNamara and he was the top men’s time trialist of the time in Great Britain. So time trialling was the main way that people raced in that period in the really, up until quite recently, where now I think the sort of sportives road racing and track racing is become bigger in this country because of the facilities and because of the just the slight change in culture with with how British cycle cycle racing has evolved. But in that time, it was time trialling was very much the way people people raced. And that’s when you’re set off at one minute intervals. And then you essentially ride alone and have a time at the end over a distance or a particular amount of time. So Beryl was going for this 12 hour ride, which is where you do as many miles as you can in 12 hours, but a big competition at the time in in Great Britain. She started behind the men. So then there was 99 men in this race going off at one minute intervals. They then had a two minute gap to the women, I think there was three or four women Beryl was among them. And she was the first of the women to go off. So she was basically set off two minutes behind the field of 99 men who had all started in the in the two hours before Beryl in the morning, and they would all then go ride around Yorkshire finishing on a finishing circuit for 12 hours and accumulate as many miles as they could. It really suited Beryl, this type of race because she had a great phenomenal endurance, but also really good concentration as well. She could she could ride alone for a long time, high level. And she basically just rode through this entire field of men so she had passed 98 of the men. One person that was left was Mike McNamara at the top men’s time trialist of the time he had started last of the men so he had started two minutes in front of Beryl on the road. And he was on course to break the men’s record for the distance that they cycled in 12 hours. But Beryl had done this sort of incredible ride and was basically catching him and actually caught him with about about an hour of the of the 12 hours to go. So she didn’t when she saw him up in front, she didn’t quite believe that it was him she had caught as I say they both caught the other 98 men, which is astonishing when you think about it. But there he was the last of the men she hadn’t caught. And he was on course for a British men’s record, or a world record as well. I mean, no, no, no one in other countries have gotten faster. And she was obviously annihilating the women’s record but was also beating him. And she put in she eventually passed them on this, this lane, which is just south of Boroughbridge in Yorkshire, and as she went past she would always say something to people when she caught them because obviously she caught people all the time and caught men very regularly in these time trials and she’d say thing and there were so many stories of things she would say like, ‘Hey, lad, you you’re not trying’ or ‘stick in there, Chuck’, or sometimes be quite nice, but sometimes in a sort of dry sense of humour, she’d sort of say something quite cutting to these people. And to Mike McNamara, she reached into her back pocket where she’s carrying her food and she passed him a liquorice allsort so she went past and he said ‘ta, love’ and, and ate the licorice allsort. He confirmed it to me while I was researching the book, but it wasn’t just the kind of fairy tale myth type story that had gone down in legend it really was how it went she didn’t really mean it I don’t think as a sort of put me down she just didn’t know what else to do. She went past them and

and the poor guy would then get handed massive Liquorice Allsorts at events.

Yeah, it became all you ever got asked about. Yeah, there was a an event where Beryl presented him with I think he took it in good spirits. He actually died last year. And but luckily, from my point of view, he was still alive during the early part of the research for the books, I was able to communicate with him before he before he died. And he was obviously a really great figure in on the scene, a really popular popular guy, but he you could tell it did slightly. There was a slight sense from the family that, you know, it was frustrating that his he was sort of remembered principally for this but I sort of said to them, what an amazing thing to be part of you know, it’s a real moment in sporting history where a woman broke not just a women’s best but a men’s as well. And as I say lots of things with Beryl Burton, this was obviously one of them, where she’d done something that just nobody in any other sport you could find a comparison for. So she won something 25 she was the best British or around the 25 times in a row, rode with their daughter in the world championships. They were both in the qualified for the road race. And this that I mean, they were three things straight away that you just could were completely without comparison in sport. So yeah, that that was probably the story that she’s best known for just being the fact that she broke a men’s record, but also just the style with which she did it. And as I say the drama of passing him and giving him a licorice allsort.

Carlton Reid 18:17
As a road historian and I’m also I love the fact that you’ve pretty much pinpointed the exact spot on the road, where there really ought to be a plaque that or some sort of, yeah, hanging there.

Jeremy Wilson 18:29
Somebody said that to me. A guy called John Churchman who was a marshal on the Otley 12 hour, because they were the club that organised it. And it took quite a lot of work to figure it all out. And we really worked hard to make sure we got it right. Someone called Phil Hurt from the Yorkshire Road Club found me the course. Then John Churchman and a guy called George Baxter, who was also a marshall. So they were at different points in the route so they could help me with with knowing exactly where it was that Beryl passed. And also you could there was a lot in the results sheets, and just the media reports at the time and what Beryl and Mike McNamara had said we got it to pretty much the precise stretch of road it was a long stretch of road where you could definitely see somebody in the distance and as I say that was borne out in Beryl’s recollections of it where she could see his jersey in the distance and wasn’t initially certain that it was him. So yeah, for the final chapter, the epilogue of the book, we I cycled the finishing circuit with Denise, Beryl’s daughter, and we sort of pulled over at that point into the had a look up and down the road and just tried to think what you know, her mum might think of what we were doing, actually and Denise sort of surprised me because she took off her she was wearing she had another jersey on top and she took off her and put her Morley she had her Morley club jersey on which is the jersey that her mother always always the club but her mother always raced for and she sort of said I thought I’d put it on for her. And she she didn’t know where it was on the course herself, even though she actually lives quite close, probably only about 10 or 15 miles away. She didn’t she didn’t know where it was, it was another thing because it just her mother was a very sort of Yorkshire person, you know, not much emotion, not much, certainly no showing off or dwelling on anything or no trophies up in the in the house, or she was always on to the next thing. And so she wouldn’t. They weren’t the sort of people that would have really kind of made a fuss about where it was and how it happened. Obviously I did. But, you know, she just didn’t she didn’t know she was that? Oh, I didn’t know this was where the 12 hour happened. I was there. You know, she was there in the car. That day is about an eight year old fortnight. Right? Yeah. 11 year old she would have been but she wasn’t actually she didn’t know which bit of road it was that it happened.

Carlton Reid 21:00
Yeah, that’s fascinating. There definitely should be a plaque. Let’s actually dig into your background. Because we haven’t mentioned that yet. So you’ve obviously been somewhere warm recently, if you want to talk about that. And yeah, and if you could tell us what your kind of your day job is. And then tell us your background in cycling.

Jeremy Wilson 21:20
Yeah, so my day job is, I’m a sports journalist at the Telegraph, but principally doing a lot of football. So I’ve just been to the World Cup in Doha and back after the last 16 phase. So and I’ve been doing that, really, for 20 years, I was at a local newspaper in Hampshire and then worked for The Guardian and The Telegraph for the last 15 years. So look, lots of football but some other sport as well. But I’ve done a few Olympics, and I love doing other sports. But obviously football is so dominant in the kind of sports news cycle, I do end up doing a huge amount of football. And the book really came about because somebody was interested in me doing a book about football and kind of the geo politics of football with the ownership now of teams, obviously from you know, by virtual nation states or some of the richest people in the world that we know about clubs like Manchester City and Paris St Germain and obviously Chelsea before with Roman Abramovich

Carlton Reid 22:26
And Newcastle where I live.

Jeremy Wilson 22:28
And Newcastle now, yeah, that was the premise of this meeting about sort of, and I kind of, I obviously do a lot of stuff around that day to day and I wasn’t that sort of keen to do that for whatever reason and sort of what have you got any book ideas and I was a club cyclist as a as a, as a kid. My family was sort of club cyclists. So I kind of knew the name Beryl Burton, because I was a bit of a sort of stats nerd and I’d look at, you know, records and times and who who’d won the most FA cups and even won, you know, in any sport who’d won an Olympic medals. And, and I remember we had, we used to get this handbook through the post every year, which was the it was called the RTTC Handbook of events for Britain cycling events in Britain, and it had the list of all the champions and records. And I distinctly remember this thumbing through it and, and reading and saying, he’s this, because Beryl Burton won 122 national titles. So the back of this book, it was just B and B. And I remember, I can vividly remember this. I’m not just sort of, it’s not sort of recollection that’s kind of embellished in any way. I remember seeing that 12 hour record that we just talked about, where she bettered the men’s record. And I remember looking at it and seeing it in this book and saying, Oh, this must be wrong. Oh, this is a misprint. And so I think somewhere in my subconsciousness Beryl Burton’s name was, was lodged. And then when, obviously, I didn’t do anything about it for a few decades, and but post 2012 when there was all this publicity, rightly so for all the cyclists that had done so well in the Olympics, and that generation of British cyclists and sort of Bradley Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton, Chris Hoy. I was kind of at that time, there were all these lists of the greatest British sports person are the greatest cyclists and I was looking at them as thinking, what about that Beryl Burton, you know, and I just, I knew she had won loads and loads and loads and obviously she wasn’t being given anything like, due billing in these in these sort of lists of sports people even though she would have surpassed any of them if she would have had a Olympics available to her or had a Tour de France available to her. So it got me it got me back interested and I looked at her her book, which was published in the mid 1980s, Personal Best, and sort of research the story a bit more, and just discovered all these wonderful tangents and sort of subplots because I mentioned her childhood illness, just her relationships with her husband who sort of gave everything up to support her, her daughter, who she ended up competing with just how she went on and on and kind of the circumstances of her early death. You know, when I, when I came back to it and look to hadn’t even realised I wasn’t sure whether she was alive or dead, I just knew that she was this phenomenal athlete. And so I suppose when the more I looked into it from a sort of journalistic point of view, I thought, wow, there’s some fascinating subplots here that you could really get into, you know, the competition with the Soviet Union riders was another one. You mentioned the wind tunnel and you know, how trying to work out how far she is. So there was all this extra stuff from a journalist point of view that I thought, wow, that’s amazing. I think if she just won loads and loads and loads, and there wasn’t a sort of fascinating human interest story, I would have sort of thought, well, you know, is there a book in all of that, but there was just so much else and my eyes were kind of widening, and my jaw was falling closer to the ground, when I sort of the more I learned about her really just thought, this is just an incredible story. And then fortunately, because it wouldn’t have been any fun. And it wouldn’t, I wouldn’t have done it, if the family were sort of very resistant to the idea. And it’d be wrong to say that they were sort of out there, encouraging it, or say, you know, looking for people to sort of amplify her achievements. They’re very sort of humble, not on social media, and not sort of shouting about barrel, but quietly, very proud. And it was a relationship where you sort of build trust over months and years really with them, because it was a four year process, from starting the book to being published, and more than a for just over four years. So they weren’t, as I say, they weren’t looking for it. But equally, I think they liked that they liked the fact that someone seemed to really appreciate what she had done, and really just thought she was as incredible as obviously, privately, they, you know, in a very, as I say, in a very sort of understated way they, they basically agreed that, you know, that she was she was just this incredible athlete that hadn’t got the recognition that she deserved. And they’re just sort of lovely, as I say lovely, kind of humble people that didn’t, they weren’t sort of bragging about barrel, but really proud of her. And also kind of got got this was really important, they understood that you kind of needed to tell the whole story. And we needed to deal with the more difficult parts of her character, like anybody would have, you know, in the difficult parts of the family relationships like anybody would have, but they didn’t, they didn’t shy away from that or say, you know, and, and not want you to speak to someone who might be critical of her, they kind of got that you had to tell it as it was, in fact, I almost got the sense from Denise that she probably got a bit weary sometimes just reading very sort of short superficial things saying you know, that Jan barrel burned, she was amazing, wasn’t she wonderful, full stop sort of thing. She, she, you know, there was a lot more to her story than, than that and a lot more to her personality than that. And fortunately for me, they were they were happy with me sort of delving into that as well as all the fabulous achievements because it’s all interlinked, obviously, and it wouldn’t make sense to do it in any other way. But you never really know how a family member is going to react and to you sort of asking things that you know, quite might feel quite personal but they kind of have that Yorkshire honesty about them, you know, and we’re quite happy to deal with it in the round but obviously they want it they felt it should overwhelmingly be a celebration of her life which hope hopefully it is but it still in that context of of dealing with it as a whole and trying to tell the whole story. So that was that was so important to the project that they were as they were and it made it such a pleasure as well and I’ve said this a few times and I’m on it I truly mean it you know it’s lovely to get on people saying nice things about the book but to have a sort of friendship now with with them and you know, get nice messages from them and Denise is you know, always happy to come to things where we talk about it and the book as well and that’s like the nice been the nicest part really of getting to getting to know them and that that part of Yorkshire so I’m really lucky on that sense that they were as they were about the book.

Carlton Reid 30:01
In those four years of writing, you must have been thinking, from a commercial point of view, perhaps even from a professional point of view, you really ought to be doing a football book, that book you talked about. And this is like, you might be thinking, you know, this is so nice, okay, you might win, you know, cycling of the book year award. But, you know, this is just not mainstream enough. But you’ve made it mainstream. So did you have that inkling of this is so niche, why am I doing this? Or was it always I want to get this story out there. This is really mainstream, and I can make it mainstream. What were your feelings?

Jeremy Wilson 30:34
I did. I mean, that did it did occasionally crossed my mind that you because obviously, it’s quite a lot of, you know, without sort of tunnel way all about the process of it. There’s so many little obstacles or tricky bits or hard moments or parts where other things are going on in your life, when you think, Oh, am I sort of, you know, being a bit hard on my family? And I’ve got two young children and you sort of doing job as well? Are you sort of, you know, is it a bit of a sort of it should I be doing, you know, keep ploughing on with this. But that genuinely just that I didn’t think that much about how it would be received, or whether it’d be mainstream or niche, whether I kind of just stuck with the fact that I thought it was an amazing story. So I kind of hoped that other people would agree. And also, I just felt genuinely such a passion for it myself. And so interested in it myself, I just wanted to do it, I wanted to find out more, I wanted to write about it. So it wasn’t a hardship really to, to do that, rather than something that might be more obvious commercially, because I just thought, wow, this is such an amazing sports story. You know, I’ve been doing lucky enough to do sports journalism for 20 years. And to me, it’s like the most amazing story that I’ve ever come across. So why wouldn’t I want to keep going with it. So that was what keeps you going. It’s just like, wow, this is amazing. And I don’t think you can worry too much about it. I didn’t quite know how it would turn out. But I didn’t sort of think that much about it. Because I was so sustained by my own passion for it really, and just No, of quite, it sounds a bit funny, but it’s quite sort of, you know, you think about it all the time. And you think and I feel quite emotional at times just thinking about the 12 hour record of certain rides, or certain the way she carried on and stuff like that. So it just completely got me, you know, at so many levels that it just wasn’t there, I wasn’t going to stop and I wasn’t going to not do it. Because I was just so into it. Funnily enough, Denise said something to me the first time I met her in it. And I thought about it often. Because I think she sort of met me and thought, Well, we’ll see whether he completes or not really, you know, which is fair enough. I think the same if some stranger come and met me and said, I would like to do this. And she said something about her mother. And she said, and then she says related it to me. She said, Well, if someone really wants to do something they’ll do it. Sounds quite simple, really. And she said that about her mother as well at different times that you can’t really someone really wants to do something, they will find a way to do it. And, and so it wasn’t in a way it wasn’t that hard to get it done. Because I just love the story and so much I really wanted to do it. So yeah, it obviously does take over your mind at different sections. And it was important to balance my day to day work with it. But yeah, just such a fascinating story that I think that was what sustained me, you know, it wasn’t anything to do with whether it did well or not really, it was just it was just I wanted to tell that story. And I think if you have that sort of passion for it, you’re probably on the right tracks because nine times out of 10 other people will find it interesting as well. And there’s so many people that had stories about Beryl as well that you know, even today, even though this last week, I get messages literally every week from people who haven’t read the book sort of have it prompts them a memory or prompt something because she was so out there she was so as Maxine Peake would put it, ordinary extraordinary so so there was all these everyday encounters that people had with her. And I just loved I loved hearing them I still do you know sometimes sometimes wish I wish I knew that before I wrote the book, but mostly

Carlton Reid 34:31
I’ll just jump in there because Maxine Peake of course is the person who wrote the play about Beryl which would brought her back much more into into public consciousness, you know, those those few years ago? So had you seen the play before?

Jeremy Wilson 34:46
No. Do you know what I didn’t know what people thought it might have been prompted by the play. It absolutely wasn’t. But I was delighted when I the first thing I did was listen to the radio play on Radio Four and then I went to see it And I’ve seen it to twice now I went once with Beryl’s, brother, Jeffrey, it was on in Beverly. And we went along and watched it. And then I watched it when it was on in London as well. But I was delighted when I discovered that there was a play because it was kind of like another thing that I thought, well, that’s interesting that people have sort of outside of cycling, have connected with it on that level. And it’d be good to speak to Maxine Peake and understand why she was so interested in the story. So I discovered the play, obviously, fairly early on in the research. And it was just an as I say, another thing that I thought, Well, that’s good, you know, that shows that it’s got a sort of a pool outside of cycling. But it wasn’t it as I said, it wasn’t it wasn’t a trigger to do it. But it was, it was something you couldn’t obviously you couldn’t help but stumble across it fairly quickly when she’s once I started researching. And it was just a really nice extra thing, because it was just fascinating to talk to people who weren’t into cycling the actors, and Maxine Peake herself about what it was about Beryl that had sort of touched them and connected with them. And it definitely has brought it to a wider audience because quite a few of the people I’ve spoken to someone like Dame Catherine Granger, who was a Olympic medalist, as most of your listeners will know, in five Olympics in rowing, she found she discovered Beryl Burton via the play, and sort of was really moved by the these folks, singers O’Hooley & Tidow And did they have to get that right? They wrote a song about they’re all on the back of seeing the play. So it definitely was something that connected with quite a lot of people outside of cycling.

Carlton Reid 36:49
And coming back to you again. Are you a transportation cyclist as well as having that club background?

Jeremy Wilson 36:56
Yeah, to some extent, probably is not as much as I should be. But I do. Yeah, I’ve got a couple of bikes. And I do kind of got ones that I will get out on the road a bit further on in a sort of mountain bike to get around on but I love I love cycling as well. I do love cycling, but not not fast and not competitively, but do a few sport teams. And my my kids are in a cycling club in Hampshire as well. So I go along and and sort of watch them do cyclocross and stuff like that. So, yeah, I love I love cycling. And it’s, as I say, it’s something that my dad was a sort of touring cyclist. So I suppose that’s how we that’s how we came to it. But yeah, I think it’s a it’s a, it’s a brilliant sport. And obviously a real great, healthy, pursuit. When you look at as a discovered from big, big difference from footballers, you can’t you don’t meet many footballers, sadly, that farewell in you know, really late older age above the age of 80. But cyclists there, there are numerous those that are

Carlton Reid 38:04
quite going on, vary, but it’s true. So the transportation cycling in the book is fascinating, you know, that those, you know, long distance ride, she would do the opposite the ride when she died was was a transportation cycling, and then, you know, taking Denise as a baby and then in a trailer, and then on the back all quite modern things to do. Now, you know, this is a middle class, you know, thing to the, you know, like a Copenhagen style, Dutch style thing to do. But, you know, she was doing that, you know, in effect ahead of the curve. So her transportation cycling was just amazing. feats of cycling, amazing, of course, but just she went everywhere by bike and the family and there’s beautiful pictures in the book of you know, Denise, and Charlie, and Beryl, you know, riding together so she, she really lived cycling, did everything on the bike, didn’t she, I mean, she, if she got on the bike, those three hours of ironing she had to do every day, I’m sure she’d love to, to go on a bike.

Jeremy Wilson 39:08
It’s a brilliant thing. Not that many people pick up on that. But it’s such a great point because I think there’s probably a link to why she was so good as well, because she was doing lots of sort of easy miles on the bike, as well as the kind of what she would consider serious training. But she rode her bike everywhere. And she would, she would sort of say I don’t I have a break from cycling in the winter. And she’d really start again in January after the season when sort of end around September. But of course she didn’t stop at all really it was just in her mind. She stopped because she she very much differentiated between those kind of casual cycling and when she was training, but she would at the end of September every year when the world championships were done, and she’d won the British best all rounder for the time trialling when all the races are done, they’d go off on holiday and and Denise would miss the first two, three weeks of the school school term. I didn’t really think much of worrying about that. And they’d go to the, especially when you think of the late 1960s, early 1970s go to Morocco, Sicily, around Italy, France, really quite Canary Islands really quite far out places for for that, you know, for that for that time, and just incredible stories of these touring holidays where they’ve just cycled sort of 30, 40 miles a day. And yet, Denise, that one one daughter, who was Beryl was 18, when she had Denise, she just became part of the cycling routine. So should there be start off on a on a sort of sidecar side carriage kind of thing. Then she was on the seat on the back, no helmet on No, not much strapping in that thing in those days. And then she was on something called a Rann trailer, which looks a bit like a tandem, but it’s slightly different than a tandem. And then when she was about eight or nine was plunked on her own bike and basically it was right there you go if you want to, if you want to go to anything, that’s how you get there you go on your bike and wet and quite often Beryl and would be away for the weekend cycling and Denise it from about the age of nine which simply cycle you know, 11 miles from Woodlesford where they lived to Morley just sort of south of Leeds, both of those two places on her own, you know, to our grandmothers for the weekend. And they went everywhere by bike so if Beryl raced in London she might 50 mile time trial on a Sunday morning, she very often cycle home at the A 170 miles, or she would if you went to a dinner dance. At the end of season all the clubs held their dinner sort of dances should should take a dress in the saddlebag cycle there, go to this event, you know, help wash the dishes afterwards and cycle home again at night. So just went everywhere by bike, she never learned how to drive. So all her shopping trips to work. She worked on a rhubarb farm and she had cycled to work. Everything she did, she’d go for a month, early, early season sort of February, March time to Spain every year. And she would just fly to it was near sort of Mallorca type. No. Gonna get this wrong. Sort of Benidorm, I’m sorry, that’s what’s in my brain, she would sometimes go to Mallorca, but Benidorm was her normal one, and she would just fly there, get off the plane, have a saddle bag full of stuff for the next month and cycle to, you know, very sort of basic apartment. And she would and just train there for a month every year. So she did everything by bike. And as I say, sports scientists were quite interested in that as well, in terms of the kind of easy miles you know, we know the stories of the great African runners and how they kind of walk everywhere and go to, from a young age go to sort of job to school. So it’s the kind of easy, easy activity miles that she was doing, were probably a great foundation for for why she was so good. I mean, she must have we I tried to wake it work it out at one point, how many miles she might have accumulated in her life. And it wasn’t much of a million when you added it all up, because she was riding three 400 miles a week. And as I say, even when she was out of training, she was cycling the whole time. But she had a very clear dividing line, she would sort of say, oh, no, I’m not training at the moment. But she’d still be out on our bike every day. Yeah, that was a real big part of what she did. And they would, that’s one of the things that the older cyclists would regularly point out to me how different it is now because when people race now they’re in the car, to the bike on the roof or bike on the back, get out there, get on the back of it get on some rollers, or a turbo trainer, which is a stationary thing to warm up. And then they will race that’s kind of how how nearly all people who raised do it now whereas Beryl’s generation, you’d, you’d have these hooks on the front of the of the handlebars, and they would put their race wheels on there. And so they’d have these wheels sort of dangling off the handlebars, and they would cycle out to the race, change their wheels race and cycle back. That, you know, that was just how how they did it in that time. But as I say, it’s interesting because I think from a sports science point of view, quite a lot of what she was doing was obviously helping her hugely without quite knowing it as an athlete as well as just the fact she obviously just loved riding her bike everywhere.

Carlton Reid 44:56
And of course, famously and from a narrative you know circularity point of view for somebody writing a book she died on a bike as well as she’s delivering birthday invitations in going through Harrogate. She basically keels over. I actually read from your book here now, rather than you know, flicking through and finding it so this is a bit where you describe how she dies on our bike basically. So “it is a unique and yet instantly recognisable sound, the wearing of a bicycle wheel freely rotating until it slowly stops not because a brake has been applied, but because the momentum from that last push up pedal has gradually ceased. It was the dading — this is beautiful this — it was the fading sound that accompanied the last breath of Beryll Burton, after she collapsed on the side of the road in May 1996, while riding her bicycle on the outskirts of Harrogate while delivering invites for her 59th birthday.” So that’s kind of evocative, but also so circular. It’s almost perfect, but I know nobody wants to die, of course, but as her has Denise pointed out in the book, I mean, if she wanted to die, or you know, she would definitely want to die on a bike and she wouldn’t want to get old and be infirm. She kind of … it’s almost too perfect. It’s weird but it’s perfect.

Jeremy Wilson 46:16
Yeah, no, and I was a bit there was a sort of hesitation in almost describing it in those terms, because obviously you’re describing such a tragic event. But they did that was very much how the family felt obviously they wished it would have been decades later. But they definitely that there was a comfort that she died doing what she loved. And you know, a moment where she would have probably been lost in her thoughts because she just loved she would say that she loves cycling for the mental side as well how it just freed her of the sort of stresses and worries of the world which I think a lot of people exercise and cycle for that reason. So you’d imagine she would have been in a in that that mode whilst whilst whilst that happened and there was a quote as well from her when Tom Simpson famously then sort of France cyclist died on his bike going up Mt Ventoux in the Tour de France has different circumstances because he was racing to the point of exhaustion, exhaustion at the time, but it was reported that his last words were put put me back on my bike. There’s no again, it’s a story that might not be 100% accurate, but Beryl, there was a quote from Beryl that I found where she said he could have no finer epitaph than than saying that so I think it gave you a clue as to how she might view the circumstances of her own death, but obviously, just decades, sooner than everybody would have wished. But that yeah, there there is a sort of Maxine Peake said there’s a poetry to how that happened. And and as I say, the family different I know, both her brother and daughter do take some comfort from the fact that that was that was how she how she died, the jockey AP McCoy that he was the 20 times champion jockey I spoke to him about Beryl because I was interested in how the longevity it was very similar to him to keep going that number of years. And he he was very taken with the circumstances of Beryl’s death, and he said, it’s perfect as well, you know, because, and he said that if he felt the same, because obviously he’s stared down the barrel in a different way, when he’s fallen off horses, and you know, it’s a sport where there are fatalities and he he was very quite moved by that and taken by that and said that as well. And it was that that stuck with me as well that sort of mindset of somebody who’s so passionate about their sport but as he and Denise said it was just sort of you just was wished it would have been when she was in her late — thirty years later — was but yeah, very, very sort of that that does really you know, get to me to think about that you know, is is very evocative as you say and moving.

Carlton Reid 49:18
It’s quite unusual and not not just in the you know, the fact you didn’t get to 80 years old, but when when cyclists die as we all know it tends to be you know, when when motorists knock into them and kill them so you know, Davide Rebellin, Italian cyclist is just died by getting hit by motorists. So that’s how cycling stars tend to die. Many cyclists tend to die is getting hit by by by motorists, but she’s just keeled over at the side of the road. There was no other involvement. Nobody, nobody saw it happen exactly. But there was no talk of it. You know, she was not knocked from her bike, her heart gave out.

Jeremy Wilson 49:54
Yes, yes. Yeah, absolutely. There wasn’t like an early media report that sort of assumed that that was the that there must have been some sort of road traffic incident. But no, that wasn’t that wasn’t the case. And no, she was that there was a sort of full post mortem. And now it was she had anaemia as well. And it was her cause of death was heart failure and anaemia. But I think from the, I mean, Denise was kind enough to let me see the medical report from the post mortem. And, you know, it was it obviously, her heart had, there was this defect in it from, as I say, from a from a child, and that was very evident in the, in the post mortem so that she had reason she had reason she was risking her life every time she went out on her bike that there was no she was she and she was told that repeatedly through her life. So it wasn’t, in a way, it wasn’t a surprise that she should have that problem. It was one of those situations, which was a horrible shock. But, you know, rationally wasn’t a surprise because she had she had been told this throughout her life that she was, she was taking

Carlton Reid 51:06
Say it was it was it was part and parcel of her life as a cyclist, because it’s it’s, you know, her formative life in the convent that that that illness you had as a child, which would use, you know, quite expertly pick out in the book about like how super athletes, super-elite athletes often have some form of trauma in their childhood, which, which then drives them on to be these amazingly single minded hyperfocused and never satisfied with just one when they’ve got to keep on winning. So that heart problem she had as a child, which obviously, sadly died from was also probably the reason she actually had that career in the first place as a side. Yeah. So in that, that illness, and that, you know, time in the convent drove her and changed her mental makeup.

Jeremy Wilson 51:58
Yeah, absolutely. I think it was absolutely key, I don’t think it was the only thing. I got to the point with it, because it really interesting that that there was some research done in British Olympic athletes. And they found that they grouped them as elite or super elites, and the super elites were the kind of repeat winners, the absolute relentless winners, which barrel would have been one of those. And they had found this sort of staggering proportion that had had some sort of childhood trauma, which could be quite different. It could be sort of parents separating some sort of, you know, violence in the family, or some very, very different types of trauma, potentially. And Beryl’s was that she had this awful illness as a child. But it was really common in these high achievers that seem to galvanise or give them a driving force or sort of need to win a need to succeed and need to do their very best. And she obviously had that I think she also, she, her brother talked a lot to me about her childhood and their family. And she obviously came into it with a great sort of, she already had a kind of perfectionist type personality and a stubborn stubbornness. He, he called it the Charnock way, which was her her maiden name and and said, It was evident in a lot of family members very sort of stubborn, determined people. And then I think the other I think the other factor was what Beryl then was fortunate to discover coming out of the illness because she met Charlie, her husband, who was a club cyclist. And she was fortunate that this group of cyclists in Morley in just outside Leeds, were just so welcoming, so supportive, so but very competitive, as well. So she, the people who are the experts on this childhood trauma, say that it’s kind of three factors, you’ve usually got some inherent characteristic, and you’ve also got a supportive structure around you at the end of it. So it’s kind of not something you recommend, you wouldn’t recommend trauma to people obviously. And it can, it can be very destructive, but but with with those things around it with those inherent characteristics, and also the right support around you afterwards, it seems like it can be this added catalysts that can drive someone to amazing things. And with barrel you can vary, and that was kind of a theoretical model. But with Beryl, you can very clearly identify those other components that they talked about. Because she she she found this brilliant environment to to cycle in that was very progressive, because a lot of cycling clubs wouldn’t allow women but she She, at that time, but she she happened upon one that was welcoming to her and then they obviously became to love the fact that they had this incredible person in their club, and they were really proud of her and really supportive of her. So I think that was important as well.

Carlton Reid 54:58
She was very clearly proud of them too. Because I mean there was a quote but that you mentioned the book where and this is this is her words she’s one of another one of her amazing victories and she said “I have knocked up another victory for Morley and Great Britain” so not you know victory and for Great Britain I’m so it’s like she mentioned have cycling club first, my Great Britain is almost as a as an afterthought.

Jeremy Wilson 55:21
Yeah, that oh, she was was she never she was offered many times to be professional. But there it wasn’t professional in the terms of we think of professional cycling team. Now there was no races or team that you could you didn’t it didn’t open the door to some continental scene of earning lots of money and riding in better races, being professional just meant that you became an advertising tool for a bike company. And there were certain records placed to place records that you could go for. But you wouldn’t you would then be not allowed to race in any of the time trial events, any of the World Championships that she went for, because it was very strict that the line between amateur and professional, so going professional would have been financially quite good because she would have advertised bikes but she would have made no she would have had no very quickly ended her competitive career. So she very firmly stuck with writing for Morley Cycling Club and never went to a kind of a bigger club or anything like that. And she was incredibly loyal and would always talk about them. And I loved meeting all the personalities from the Morley Cycling Club because a lot of them were still alive. And you know, they were Beryl’s, they were Beryl’s team, they were Beryl’s support structure at that time and just again, very, very down to earth. Club minded, brilliant Yorkshire people who are so so so proud of Beryl you know, some of them have got one of them still have one of her world championship, jerseys, rainbow jerseys and

Carlton Reid 56:56
hidden away that nobody knew.

Jeremy Wilson 56:58
He had it under his bed. He went and got it. It was like it was it was still pristine. And he said, I’ve never worn it because when Beryl gave it to me, she said, You can have this but mind you never wear it because you didn’t earn it. And that was the kind of she wanted him to have the jersey but she was like, it’s it’s you haven’t got the right to wear it. But he was so it was in a in a plastic bag. And they kept it look, it looks, although it looks of the age 1960s and was made of sort of cotton, sort of silk it was still it was still perfectly maintained. So they were so proud of her and she was very you’re proud of Yorkshire she would in one of the World Championships, it’s very noticeable. She’s got this too, too. Russians either side of her with the CCCP or Soviet Union jerseys and she’s got a jersey, she hasn’t got a British jersey on that podium. She’s just got the Yorkshire rose on it on it thing she’s wearing. So yeah, very, very proud of that. Of her of her club and, and background. And Morley was very supportive to her because the archives in Morley at the local library have kept one of the really interesting sort of discoveries that kept all this correspondence between Beryl and the Morley town council because they would organise these civic receptions for her when she came back, and they’d raise money, that it was a mill town so that all the workers in the mills and social clubs would club together and sort of raise 100 pounds or something for Beryl. So that to help with her being able to go and cycle abroad in these World Championships. So she had this great relationship with Morley, and they’re wonderful these letters, because they’re very formal to, you know, to and from the town council and Beryl, you know, inviting her to different receptions or, you know, helping with the kind of fun, you know, raffles and, you know, very basics of funding that you could tell that the town really got behind her in that way.

Carlton Reid 59:03
And some of that funding, which which she couldn’t spend any other way was was, didn’t she spend it on, in effect, a record player?

Jeremy Wilson 59:10
Yeah, yeah, for a long time it got to a point where, and Denise that was one of the things that Denise was sort of she was I wondered where that had come. She goes, Oh, that record player still, I think she went and got it for me. She that was in every one of her houses. But it there was a letter from about 19. There’s about 1964 There was some money left over from an event that they had funded Beryl to go and do in Italy. And they were sort of like, well, what, what should we do with it? And they and they weren’t allowed to give the money to Beryl there was this great exchange of letters and they’d written to the British Cycling Federation, and they were like, no, if you give her that 50 pounds or 40 pounds or whatever it was, that was leftover. It might have been a bit less than that. Yeah, that will break that will convene her amateur that will break her amateur status and she will never be allowed to So called for Britain again. So they had to find but they said it is okay to buy her something. And so she chose a record prayer. And there’s a letter she wrote back to them saying, you know, really polite to sort of graciously thanking them for this this gramophone record player that she wanted. And as I say, Denise, wondering how they afforded it.

Carlton Reid 1:00:29
you knew more about the family for certain things.

Jeremy Wilson 1:00:32
Yeah, yeah. Cos, as I say, Beryl wasn’t one for talking about things that much when she she had, she got cancer later in life and had to go for an operation and for mastectomy, and Denise said, Oh, she didn’t tell me till she was in hospital. And she was kind of like, Well, why didn’t you come and see me sooner? And she’s like, well, I didn’t. I didn’t know. So that was, that was just how, how, how it was, I think, that was the way they, you know, they were the way they were. So yeah, she did. She did learn a bit from from from the book as well, which was nice. Obviously, I learned much more from her, but did learn something from the book.

Carlton Reid 1:01:16
And it was amazing what she’s, she’s turning down to to keep that amateur status, you know, things like contracts with Raleigh. And they got to like, the Cycling Industries Federation, you know, gave them an early version of the Reliant Robin, which was, which was like a Raleigh-branded car originally. So they got that. So that that was that was one thing, which they were but they were basically she could have got massive, like Reg Harris style contracts, if she had have gone, you know, one way, but she was very adamant that she didn’t want to go that way.

Jeremy Wilson 1:01:51
Yeah. And Reg Harris was trying to get her to because I think he saw an opporunity, I sense the saw an opportunity to, to sort of represent her because he wrote this great article about, you know, she should turn professional and she could have a future on the on television and after dinner circuit and sort of earn money in that way. But that was when she was only about it was after she had won about her fourth world title. So she would have only been in her mid 20s at that point. I mean, she cycled for another, she was winning titles for another 20 years after that. And it’s so misunderstood what she stood for and what she loved doing this idea that she wanted to be a celebrity rather than a racing cyclist just couldn’t have been anything further from the truth. She never she never had a TV in the in her house because she thought that it might distract her from a cycling you know, never had a phone in the house. Because she thought she didn’t want to be distracted from what she needed to do for her cycling. So the idea that she wanted to be a sort of use it to be a kind of sporting celebrity was just so far from what she wanted to do. I imagine the money at some point must have been tempting they came there was it’s as I say it’s in she describes it in some Cycling Weekly articles of the time, you know, Raleigh would turn up they were living in a two bedroomed council house in Morley. You know, Charlie would do the bikes in the corridor of this council flat. It was a it was a I had a look at it, it was just blocks of house you know, house flat. And he would do the maintain all the bikes in the in the sort of freezing cold corridor in the winter of the of this of this place in Morley, where they lived up until she was a fight that a move when she was she had already won five world titles when they moved and Raleigh kept coming to this to this address with, you know, different contracts for her. But she always she always said no, but it must have been I imagine there must have been some temptation because they they were living very much week to week in terms of being able to afford to cycle, they both worked. And the working was just to facilitate being able to pursue her passion. So I guess there must have been a temptation, but she knew that it would have as I say, because of this strict enforcement between amateur and professional, she knew that it would have been the end of her ability to race basically, in all the things that were meaningful to her. So it was absolutely the right choice for her and just so again, kind of there’s something so noble about her career now where we see sort of modern sport, it would be so different now is something so pure and genuine and about it and actually, in fairness or you know, modern sports people, I think roots still have that basic passion for what they do. It’s probably not their fault, but there’s all the other stuff that’s attached to it now, but I think that can change how they view their sport with some I’m for sure but never Beryl never face that because she just, she just was completely amateur completely did it for the love of the love of it.

Carlton Reid 1:05:11
We do share a sponsor in that she got a bike from Ron Kitching. And I also was sponsored in the 1980s by Ron Kitching who gave me stuff but then Ron Kit gave you know lots of cyclists Yes. stuff in obviously a Yorkshire and Rudding Park in Harrogate, which was, which was very much wereRon Kitching was from so she got she got a Ron Kitching bike. So she she rode that, but really didn’t get a great deal, said she, she wasn’t she wasn’t like, you know, no, absolutely dripping with with she just couldn’t

Jeremy Wilson 1:05:47
know the only things that she could get she she got she got this Reliant Robin car in 1960. Or the family did three wheeler, which Charlie would use to it wasn’t a Reliant Robin, as you say it was a three wheeler it was an early version of a three wheeler the Reliant Robins came later. And they would use it and there’s photographs in the book of it, you know, parked by the side of the road in Belgium and and Denise and Charlie were sleeping in the back of it. While Beryl’s becoming world champion in the age extraordinary kind of stories and this car went in became a bit of a sort of renowned sort of thing around the country because it would it would easily tip apparently, so it will quite often, it will quite often capsize in sort of ditches when Charlie was driving around the the roads trying to keep up with where a Beryl was. And people would have to come and sort of push it back up, right and stuff like this. So I heard lots of funny stories about this car was very well known to everybody. So they got that car in 1960 as a sort of reward it was for becoming she was double world champion that year. And other than that, there was a shoemaker that would that would, I don’t know if they were made any cheaper she’d have these quite often read shoes by someone in Northampton can called Peter Salisbury who would make these custom beautiful leather red shoes for her I don’t know the exact arrangement, as I say in terms of paying but Ron Kithcing. Charlie worked when they moved to Harrogate in 1976, Charlie worked in his bike shops, and I think she more or less had the run of things there, it wouldn’t have been a formal relationship, because you can be sort of sponsored, as I say, because of these rules about amateur and professional. But from what Denise tells me, I think I think she pretty much you know, she could she could borrow whatever she wanted from the bike shop by then. And obviously, Ron Kitching was pretty happy because his, his, his bikes were always in the sort of cycling magazines, because he would nearly all her records were on the sort of Ron Kitching bikes. So yeah, I think she had some help later on in that regard. But other than that, nothing, you know, absolutely nothing, and it would in fact, be have contravened the rules if she had. So she would know that there was there was some receipts at the BBC archive of her sort of, you know, claiming very precise expenses when she went in did sort of record breakers or something like that. And she wouldn’t, you know, very fair with what she claimed she wasn’t, there was no sort of making any money out of out of cycling. And she did tonnes of things for nothing. That was sort of promoting cycling, in terms of sort of TV appearances, or even, you know, she did a load of promotional stuff for the AA bizarrely, and she currently got paid nothing for it. But at that time, it was kind of like the prestige of being invited to shows or being invited to things was she’s she would say, Well, I want you know, I’ve got to I’m representing cycling as a sport and cycling was quite a minority sport at that time. So she thought that it was important that cycling was represented and it was a sort of honour for cycling to, to go to these things. So it was very much that way around in career.

Carlton Reid 1:09:12
Don’t I very much like to talk about some sexism in cycling, and that’s absolutely stands out in the book how staggeringly high the challenges that all women were facing in that era, not just bearable all women. But for now I’d like to actually cut to a commercial break. So let’s take this way with David.

David Bernstein 1:09:33
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Carlton Reid 1:10:43
Thanks, David. And we are back with Jeremy Wilson. And Jeremy as as I’m sure you if you’ve been listening to the the rest of the show, you’ll know has wrote this incredibly fantastic multi award winning book on BB Beryl Burton and and before the break there I was I was kind of mentioning to to Jeremy if he could talk us through some of the amazing sexism you know, we think of today is it being fairly bad and it still is bad, you know, you know, the parity in prizes, all this kind of stuff. But back in the you know, the heyday when when Beryl was raising 50, 60s and early 70s it was off the scale, the sexism and the challenges that women riderss had to had to face back then. Even though they were clearly as as Jeremy talked about with the licorice allsorts story, she was as good as if not better than many of the top men of the of the day. So Jeremy, tell me about the kind of challenges she faced with officialdom so with the with the British Cycling Federation, with the UCI, famously, you know, what, what did she have to get above and beyond before she even had to, you know, athletically win?

Jeremy Wilson 1:11:57
Well, she was she was very unfortunate in one respect, because she was came along in a sport that where women weren’t allowed in the Olympics. So if she was an athlete, a runner, athletics, or swimmer, she would have they were into the Olympics 50 years before cyclists but for whatever reason, the UCI, which was the world governing body was very sort of male dominated body and wasn’t much interested in in promoting women’s cycling. And it was only it was actually a British woman called Eileen Gray, who was the great champion for getting women’s cycling recognised, and Beryl was, well, she was unlucky in that sense that she didn’t have those competitions available to her Commonwealth Games as well, it wasn’t it was the same position. Eileen Gray was successful in lobbying the UCI to have a women’s world championship events from 1958 onwards, and Beryl kind of first reach world class level in the late 1950s. So she was fortunate in that she at least coincided with World Championships, but only very basic amounts of World Championships. So it was a road race, a pursuit on the track, which is a timed three kilometre race and a sprint on the track. So there’s just three events open to women, which meant Beryl could go for two of those, which was the road race and the time trial. She wasn’t a fast sprinter. It’s a completely different discipline. They weren’t actually her best events, because now there’s a time trial had there been a time trial, she would have been invincible for 25 years, maybe 20 years, something like that. I mean, she was way better at time trialling than the shorter three kilometre pursuit or a road race, but she had those events available to her. And she was seven times world champion in those events. Still, no British cyclists has ever been a double world road race champion apart from Beryl, and no British and no cyclist in the world as one as many perceived medals as her so she’s still excelled. Even though these two events weren’t her absolute best events, but the sort of surrounding stories of the challenges women faced even in these events, even though they had them were vast because they would always sort of not be given the the tires or the kit that the men would they were always given less money for accommodation, less riders were allowed to go, who were women. And also the schedule, the UCI schedule would just shut the women’s races whenever there was a gap in the programme for the men, so they never knew when they were going to race. So when they were riding they would spend let arrive at the track sort of seven or eight in the morning and often be there till like midnight. And Beryl might not know when her sort of World Final would be exactly because it was always done at sort of discretion of the organisers and the organisers were this sort of male or in male committee And they kind of saw the women’s races as sort of an add on that weren’t really that important. So she had that throughout her world. World Championships career, I think where she was fortunate was the club scene in in in Britain as we touched upon the club that she joined Morley. It had women in it and it was very sort of family progressive club in in Yorkshire. Other cyclists at the time would tell me very, very different stories. A lady called Val Baxendine, who rode with Beryl in the World Championships in East Germany. She wrote a letter to try and join her local cycling club and was told well, you can you can you can come and make the tease for us at the event that you can’t join the Club. Eileen Cropper, another lady from Bradford, she knew Beryl very well, she said that she was allowed to join the club but she would they would put that because they didn’t like getting faster she said the lads would put bricks in my my saddlebag when we went out cycling to to slow me down and the prize is for women as well. You know, it’s almost quite comical now looking back, but there’d be things like hair curling tongs, a pouch of washing powder, and stuff like that would be what the women were given if they won if they won something, which and just the way that women cycling was reported as well was was you’d be I’d be sacked on the spot if if I sent in anything that was resembled what you would read in that sort of cycling magazines and national newspapers at the time. You know,

Carlton Reid 1:16:31
you’re the Yorkshire housewife and Yorkshire has that kind of thing?

Jeremy Wilson 1:16:36
Yeah, but also sort of, you know, slender legs that will be easy on the eye for any man or stuff like you know, vivacious bubbly, you know, good looking bubbly personality it was all very commenting on on, on the appearance of the cyclists as much as what they actually were doing. But that was obviously normal at that time because there it was in in sort of print and wasn’t really you know, it was sort of accepted of that’s how it was so very, very different times but obviously Beryl was vital because although she wasn’t a great one for sort of, she wasn’t out there campaigning all the time to for for inclusion in the way that Eileen Gray as I say she was her great champion was but what were Beryl was so crucial was just cuz she was so good, athletically so extraordinary, she completely changed perceptions of women, women’s athlete, women, athletes, and women’s sport and what they were capable of, because this was a time when women weren’t allowed to do marathons in in athletics. They didn’t think that it was almost safe for women to push themselves in long endurance sport. And then there was there was this woman that was actually beating the men in these events. So it completely changed how women’s endurance sport was viewed and respected as well, because you couldn’t obviously not respect somebody who was better than the better than the men at the time. So you had I suppose this kind of mixture of things I did, but I did in fairness sense that that British Time Trial scene was was in the context of a lot of sport was quite quite progressive in its sort of welcoming way. And now actually, the men who who rode with barrel that they love talking about her love her, you know, love, she’s sort of figure that, you know, on the sort of Facebook pages of this sort of oldest cycling in the 60s are these you know, they Beryl was a sort of absolute legend to these men that were sort of regularly kind of beaten by her. There was one guy that said that he was a good, very good cyclist in himself. And he was quoted as saying, if if Beryl Burton ever beats me, I’m gonna bury my bike, you can bury my bike in the garden, and his brother was a very good, good, very great rider Ray Booty who is the first rider to cycle under four hours for 100 miles. And he, there was a speech he gave, and he was telling the story of what his brother said about Beryl Burton, and he sort of just ended his speech with both events came to pass. I, he got beaten by Beryl and he had to bury his bike. I don’t know if the second is strictly true, but they had to get used to you know, they had to get used to the fact that there was this woman who was stronger than them and there was so many stories that I would hear. Along those lines, they’re kind of like folk hero type stories. There was a guy called Roy Caspell, who was the national 12 hour champion men’s champion, and he and Beryl did 100 mile time trial one morning and they were both they were first and second in the event, but Roy Caspell just beat Beryl they were both under four hours. For 100, which was very, very rare for a man or a woman at that time, and he narrowly beat Beryl but Beryl didn’t like the fact that she had she had lost and so she challenged him to to go for another ride through the Yorkshire Dales on the same day, and apparently he sort of they went and he sort of felt for his honour, he had to say yes. And he came back and one of his club mates said that when he came back, he was just begging for mercy. So it was an absolute, it’s actually said, He’s, she’s can’t remember the exact words, but it was, it was a

Carlton Reid 1:20:35
mess or something.

Jeremy Wilson 1:20:37
She’s not a wreck. Yeah, or something like that. And she was five foot six inch women, not, you know, eight and a half stone through this guy was six foot two at the absolute peak of his powers. So she’s just in terms of the respect that I think women’s sport gave, she was hugely important. And the other thing that she did do, she campaigned to have men’s and women’s races in the time trials together. So I mean, it was probably quite as from Beryl’s point of view, a selfish thing, because she wanted the competition, she wanted to ride in the men’s races as well. She was successful in that sort of campaign that she had, but that, mostly she was mostly she was important, I think, in that fight for equality, just because she was so extraordinarily good. As I say, someone could, Eileen Gray was this amazing campaigning figure in the committee rooms of the British Cycling Federation and the UCI, but there were lots of Beryl would have lots of problems throughout her career with the BCF the British Cycling Federation, they were, they were always quite awkward with what she wanted to do, and would try and get her to do different events and things like that. But quite interesting. And quite another thing, I think that’s a characteristic of someone who’s hugely successful, even when she was very young, she really stood up for herself, and she’d do what she wanted to do what she believed was right. And I think that’s it, you know, wasn’t worried about fitting in and doing, you know, not not ruffling feathers, she would, she would do exactly what she thought was right. And if they didn’t like it, you know, hard luck. And they would threaten a few times with her sort of the selection from World Championships because she would insist on doing lots of time trialling, and they wanted her to focus on other events, and they would back down in the end, because it would have looked ridiculous if they didn’t select her for these races. So she actually had sort of fractious relationship with the the governing bodies at different points in our career.

Carlton Reid 1:22:44
So in the book, you’re very, very, incredibly well demonstrated how amazing she is, as as a sports person, in general, compared to other sportsmen or how she ought to be up there with, you know, all the sporting greats. And then you mentioned in in the book about how, in 2016, the telegraph, your paper is one of the culprits of not because it’s they placed her at fifth in the list of Greatest British sports people, you know, behind Gavin Hastings, and Sandy Lyle. Now, do you think and this is a very, very difficult question for me to ask or for you to answer. But do you think with your book now, especially as we’re winning so many awards? Do you think she’ll be much, much further up that list? Now that you’ve been elevated?

Jeremy Wilson 1:23:33
I would hope so. I think obviously, you know, it’s going to have passed, it’s not going to have sort of it not everybody’s going to have noticed notice this and and other things that have been done to promote what she’s, you know, to amplify her achievements. But I think she would be now I do think I do think people and something that’s really interesting. I don’t know if people are just being polite. But when the title in search of Britain’s greatest athlete, I sort of thought I’d have a few people going sort of Yeah, right. Or no, no, that’s ridiculous for this reason, or, you know, whatever. But just isn’t. Nobody’s even tried to argue with the tough times and the Financial Times, reviews of both, both of them said, it’s not hyperbole that the title, and I haven’t come across anyone that sort of really sort of thought no, when you stop and think about it, sort of is a fair case to make there. So I think she would be a lot higher. There was a sort of poll of the sports journalists Association a couple of years ago for the greatest British women’s athlete, and she wasn’t even mentioned in this poll, and I was sort of do I sort of kick off social media about it? And I thought, I’ll wait till after my book, I don’t want it, you know, so it’s a bit early to sort of, and think Jessica Ennis Hill was sort of named as the sort of greatest ever British Britain’s greatest ever sports woman. And you know, as much as Jessica Ennis, who is is fantastic. And I’m not trying to knock what she’s done. If had Beryl had an Olympics open to her shoe in a time trial, she would have won the time trial, in my opinion every years from 1960 to 1980, which is six Olympics. At in adding the pursuit road race, you would have won a few of a few pursuits for sure, maybe one road race, something like that, you know, you’re looking at sort of Redgrave times Wiggins, and then a sort of Tour de France, if a women’s Tour de France was available to her, she would have annihilated the field in a in a, in an in an endurance event of that type day to day being having to ride along miles day after day. I mean, that would have suited her perfectly. So

Carlton Reid 1:25:51
on that on that subject, but let’s talk about you’re bringing her into the modern day, let me tell tell me about the the wind tunnel, and you put a you know, the rider on on the same bike, because you got you got the bike, and you’ve made conclusions from that. So just tell us about that bit.

Jeremy Wilson 1:26:07
Yeah, well, I wanted to try and find a way to sort of benchmark what she had done. And I knew that what she’d done was so phenomenal her times, because her times at the time, her records at the time were the 12 hours we touched on was was actually in excess of the men’s record of the day. But the 100, the 1500 miles, 50 miles, 25 miles and 10 miles, were all very close to the men’s record of the time, way closer than you would normally get not just in cycling, but in athletics swimming record. So she was obviously highly unusual in terms of how good she was. And her record lasted between 35 and 50 years, which again, is just completely unheard of, particularly in a sport where technology advances were so so big, you know, be completely unheard of in athletics, but you’re only really changing the shoe there or swimming where you’re just changing the trumnks, you know, it’s fairly marginal differences. Here we’re talking about a sport with the carbon fibre bikes, the aero bars, the helmets, the clothing, vast, vast improvements, and yet her records still lasted, you know, the 12 hour record lasted half a century. So I knew that I knew that she must be athletically completely out of the park. Unusual. So I was speaking to Chris Boardman about it. I interviewed him and we were talking about Beryl Burton, and he you know, he knew he got he got our autograph as a kid, he got approached to a race. And he said, Well, why? And I said, Is there a way of modelling it because he did a he did the our record on a super bike. And then he did he did the what they call the athlete’s Hour, which was on an old school bike with dropped handlebars, and there was about six or seven kilometre difference in an hour in the two records. And I sort of said how, you know, could you in any way there’s a wind tunnel at Silverstone which which the a lot of the professional teams in top amateur riders use to measure different bits of equipment because they can objectively just analyse the difference in times of various changes you can make to the bike or your position. So a guy called Xavier Disley does this for for some professional teams and as I say top athletes and top and he’s trying to invent things as well all the time to make the bikes faster. And he was like yeah, we could do that you know, it’s not not that difficult really. You just need to get somebody in the wind tunnel on barrels old bike or a bike similar to Beryl’s old bike similar build of person, old clothing, you know, he even said jokingly he said if you can get a wig that’ll be good and I was like okay, we’ll get it didn’t think I was but I did we I had to leave it down to get it to the right Beryl look, but I was pretty look at the photos they’re pretty close. And so we’ve got a cyclist called Jessica Rhodes Jones who’s a good time triallist now and she rode Beryl’s bike with the wig was kindly put the wig on and some of the old Morley cycling club let me the kit and and we did the same with her super bike now with all the carbon bike, Aero Club clothing and handlebars and everything. And he was you basically just measured the drag effect in the wind tunnel of the two and he from there he could then calculate what Beryl’s times would have been on the modern kit. And she came up faster still in the current record at 25 miles, 50 miles, 100 miles and 12 hours. So we were doing was literally changing the kit and nothing else. So you would have literally if you You could have picked up Beryl Burton from 1967 and plumped her in a time machine and plonked her on a super bike. And you know, she might have needed a day or so to get used to it. Although Jessica told me it is much easier to ride the new bikes than the old the one Beryl was riding, they’re much less comfortable. She would have still been beating the records that are out of date, despite changes in training, diet, Sports, Science, everything else, which is literally all we’re doing is picking Beryl up as an athlete and plunking her forward. So the 55 years, which I think is and he said to me, Dr. Disney, who did it, he said, I don’t think you could get an athlete in any sport where you could do that he just couldn’t believe that that was possible. Because even as I said it in athletics and swimming, the technological advances are much, much smaller. But the improvements in 50 years are still absolutely massive now, so it just kind of underlined again, I stayed out of the calculations, I wasn’t like I said to him, it just do it. I kind of expected it to show something amazing, but because because of the reasons I said at the start, but you obviously don’t know what he’s gonna come back with. So I was selfishly I suppose I was pleased that it showed how remarkable she was, but not not completely surprised. I would have been more surprised. If if it was I mean, you know, the 12 hour record was only first beaten five years ago. So I couldn’t see anywhere in the world that that that wouldn’t wouldn’t be much faster if she wasn’t on the if she was on the same kit that they use now. But yeah, as I say, I sort of stood back and let him Let him work it out. So great. And it’s actually that’s got quite a lot of interest as well, you know, that you could do something a bit different and something that’s sort of fairly objective, obviously, there’s going to be you can’t do something absolutely perfect to the second but it’s, it’s a fairly good, good, good guide, I think to how good she was.

Carlton Reid
You know, it’s a fascinating part of the book. There’s tonnes of fascinating parts of the book of course. So I’ve made 1000s of notes here and I could absolutely talk all day with you. And I am very very aware that we have actually been talking for an hour and a half Jeremy which is an awfully long time so thank you for that. Let’s let’s kind of end even though I could talk all day with you about belt but let’s just because she’s clearly hard as nails in in many different aspects of our life. But let’s just just this one I did talk I did say that we would bring Yvonne Reynders the great Flemish rider back in, and that’s just in one of the rides. And this is what Yvonne didn’t know. This particular bit. So just tell me about the ride. Where Charlie, excuse me, Beryl’s husband, she she’s basically had an injury. Yes. And she’s been in effect tied to a track bike. With with a leather toe strap. So tell me about that. Because that that that definitely tells you a lot about her as a person as a rider as an athlete.

Jeremy Wilson
Yeah, that was an amazing, amazing story. She said she was warming up for the World Championships. Off the top of my head. I remember it was Paris, I think it would have been 65 but but she was warming up with a lady called Val Rushworth who was a sprint one of the British sprinters so she was able to help me a bit with this story as well. But it’s in Beryl does tell this story in her book Personal Best as well. And so one of the male cyclists that they were warming up with actually just moved out across and wiped her out when they were do riding around the track to warm up, Beryl went down and great pain in a wrist and they didn’t know what it was is a good a good example of the sexism, Eileen Gray, the British team manager wanted to take her to the medical centre to get this looked at and they wouldn’t let her go in because she needed to be accompanied by a male doctor and need to be accompanied by a man. So the British women’s team manager was not good enough to accompany Beryl to get this checked out. So in the end, she found a medic from another team who sort of looked at it and they didn’t think she was gonna ride and it was obviously really painful. And in the end, it was what do we do, and they gave her an injection which numbs the pain, but she lost all feeling in a in a in her hand. So she couldn’t, she couldn’t clinch the handlebars with one of her hands. So she could with one. So she’s effectively riding one handed in a way. And they kind of thought, well, she won’t, she won’t be able to ride, you know, there’s no way she can ride. And she she, I think from memory, she did this in this it was before the semi final. She rode the semi final with it strapped and got and won. And then she was into the final against Yvonne Rynders. And that was one of the times where she didn’t win, she was silver medal that year. But obviously, she was at a huge disadvantage because of the fact that she had no feeling in one of her arms, but nobody could believe that she would actually ride, Val Rushworth couldn’t believe that she would she was going to ride but that was I think that was just that mentality of you sort of you get on with it, you get get on with it as kind of like what she would say about things. And you know, she had many crashes in life and was always she was always back on her bike as quickly as possible. But just amazing, really, because you would because it’s not just the the being one handed, it’s not just the steering, that would have been difficult. A lot of the power where you grip kind of comes from comes from your arms, it would have said would have must have been really difficult to not just control the bike, but go full out, and then just probably the whole shock of it. But that was what they

Carlton Reid
So when you say strapped, you know, people might think, oh, you know, people have put bandages around it. But this is actually literally strapped to the handlebars with a leather toe strap.

Jeremy Wilson
And yeah they just that was that was I guess that was that those sort of straps were what they used to kind of transport a lot of things at that time, like related things, you know, on the sort of roof racks and stuff like that. They were able to hold her that one thing I didn’t do was find a picture of this, which I would have loved to have found the finding the photography of the era was a whole nother kind of journey of discovery as well, which was which was great fun, but hard work. And I didn’t find I wanted to find a photo of that race, but I don’t know if there’s one out there. So I’m going by the kind of how it was told to me it but as I say Val Rushworth was there. And I met her and it’s recorded in Beryl’s book as well. So but she wasn’t one that would make a thing of it. She knows she didn’t Yvonne Rynders didn’t know, really what what was happening in another race where she had a knee injury when she she didn’t she was going for this record for 24 hours. She didn’t tell people that about the injury afterwards. It was almost deemed bad sportsmanship to kind of talk about talk about why you didn’t win in the immediate aftermath. So a lot of these stories would come out some time later. Because it was that was just the way you just sort of got on with it. And but Yeah, amazing story. There was another one where she did a two uptime trial where you ride with somebody else. And she had a guy called Malcolm Cowgill, who’s the guy that’s got her rainbow jersey preserved and she touched his back wheel and went down on a dual carriageway. And there’s blood sort of pouring down her face, legs and on a bike. And he went, went went stopped to check she was okay and kind of thought, you know, there’s no way we can fit, you know, said should we get an ambulance, what do you want to do? And she was like, No, we’re gonna finish and she got back on the bike and they said she was like cycling in front of me and shouting at me to go faster while bleeding away on the road. And they actually won this two up event where you did you do a time trial with somebody else. So that was her. That was her mentality. You know, there was an anecdote when her daughter Denise was they were warming up together for the world championship road race, and daughter crashed across quite a busy road and knocked herself out on the side of the road. And I said to her What did you know what did your mum say? Say she said all night she completed a warm up, which was a bit like, crikey. That’s pretty, pretty hard. It’s really tough mentality. But I think that was that was kind of the approach to sort of injuries and crashes. And that if you can, if you can physically find a way of carrying on you just get on with it basically. And

Carlton Reid
There’s so much we could talk about because because clearly there was there was much more we ended with rivalry with with Denise later in our life and you know, events and you showed the photographs in a book where she’s not even looking at her daughter says there’s tonnes of stuff, where we could we could carry on going, but I’m gonna recommend people just gonna have to go, we can’t just carry on talking all day. But I recommend people to go and get your book and read it cover to cover and just be amazed by the the life of Beryl. But now my friend Dave, who were riding a few weeks ago, he has read your book. Okay, he recommended it to me anyway. And you know, at that point, I hadn’t read the book. But the only anecdote I could tell at that time was the Licorice Allsorts anecdote. That’s the one I knew very well. And now I’ve got so many more anecdotes. So thank you for absolutely going, you know, so deep into into life of Beryl Berton that we now have all these anecdotes, including strapping being strapped to a track bike in a championship, which is which is amazing. So your book has absolutely open many people’s eyes, I’m sure who weren’t aware of her story, hopefully outside. Absolutely outside of cycling. But just for now, as we wrap up, can you please tell us where we can get this book? And and how much it costs? Give us the give us the biography of your book.

Jeremy Wilson
Yeah, I think it’s available. You know, from all certainly independent stores, Waterstones, Amazon, Profile Books was the publisher. So I think all the kinds of outlets that you would expect to be able to, to get a book. It’s it retails at 20 pounds, but I think that it is a hardback book, and it’s pretty, it’s fairly a lot of photos and a lot a lot in there. But I think it’s sort of 15.99 or something like that on Amazon, I noticed. So it varies slightly the price, the exact price of it. So yeah, but it’s pretty widely available.

Carlton Reid
Thanks to Jeremy Wilson there and thanks to you for listening to what has been a much longer than normal episode of The Spokesmen podcast. A click through to Jeremy’s book and a transcript of our mammoth conversation can be found on the show notes at And this has been episode 315 of the Spokesmen podcast brought to you in association with Tern Bicycles. The next episode will be Milan flavoured but meanwhile get on out there.

November 26, 2022 / / Blog

26th November 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 314: Book Talk With Hannah Reynolds and Ned Boulting

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Hannah Reynolds and Ned Boulting

TOPICS: Hannah Reynolds talks about her LEJOG1000 book “Britain’s Best Bike Ride” and Ned Boulting discusses the fifth year of “The Road Book.”


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 314 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Saturday 26th of November 2022.

David Bernstein 0:27
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 caring another adult, visit www.tern That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:03
Hi, I’m Carlton Reid and this episode of The spokesmen podcast is book-shaped. I talked to Hannah Reynolds about her LEJOG book. But first, here’s Ned Boulting discussing the fifth year of the big fat Road Book. So happy birthday, fifth fifth edition 2018 was the first one and this is this is a big heavy book. And it’s the 2022. So five years

Ned Boulting 1:35
10 kilos. And kilogrammes, you could put it another way or the best part of 5000 pages. Yeah, I think when we set out we we thought about the future. And we thought wouldn’t it be nice feeling to get to five years, and then take it and then go again. And you know, because it’s a substantial chunk of time, and actually can’t when you think about and I take great pleasure, see, for me, this is the whole point of the book, I picked up the 2018 edition. And I actually reread sounds rather vain this actually. But I reread my editor’s introduction from 2018, which none of which I can remember writing, I mean, five years is quite a long period of time. And what struck me is how completely different the road racing world is already in that five year period of time. It’s like, it’s like looking to a different generation of bike riders, you know, it’s quite extraordinary.

Carlton Reid 2:24
I think you mentioned in this year’s editorial about the Gen Z, the the transfer of power across,

Ned Boulting 2:32
And how quickly it’s happened. You know, I think that I think the evolution in road racing is actually accelerating. And I think the following year after 2018, 2019, for me is where it really started to change rapidly. And everything takes I think everything, for obvious reasons in the road racing season takes its lead from what happens in the Tour de France. And that was the year in 2019, where we had this wildly unpredictable ride from Julian Alaphilippe, who really seriously started to pose the question, can you win the Tour de France for France, you know, and ultimately, he came up short, but it was glorious while it lasted. You also had that incredible cameo from various other ridters. But it was Alaphilippe’s attacking spirit, and also his sense of adventure. And his kind of, well, I don’t even I don’t know how long I can sustain this, but I’ll give it a go. That sort of spirit of risk readiness, I think has infected the peloton. And I think that that’s what’s led to these multiple different riders doing what appears to be impossible things.

Carlton Reid 3:38
And in this editorial in the current one, the 2022 you’re absolutely major you suddenly start on the Tour de France. So that’s I mean to a to an outsider, Tour de France is the only race in the whole year and the rest of your book is I’ve never heard of these races. So that’s kind of like, how do you justify talking about the Tour de France in that way in that an enthusiast would be ‘Oh, no, no, no, that that, you know, the, this tiny, you know, minor race in you know, in this tiny area is much better.’ So how do you how do you kind of like, justify going straight into the race that everybody knows.

Ned Boulting 4:17
Well, because it was the race that it was this year. I mean, 2022 is a very particular edition of the Tour de France, not only I think I make the point in the and I’ll come back to that point, Carlton. But I also it’s a slightly wider point that I try to make in this my editor’s introduction this year, that it’s it’s about the Tour de France and July, the month of July because let’s not forget this year was historic because it was the Tour de France Femme which launched or relaunched, I should say. So July and France took centre stage no doubt about it for a couple of different reasons this year. And that’s not to disparage the other races. That’s not to you know, that’s not to decry those people who feel very strongly and for perhaps for good reason. There’s no more beautiful race than Tirreno Adriatico, or the Four Days of Dunkirk. You know, that’s all, that’s all wonderful stuff in great detail and venerable, fascinating racing. But if we’re honest with ourselves, this year, in particular, the Tour de France stood head and shoulders, the men’s Tour de France stood head and shoulders above all the other stage races, I think, because of the spirit in which the two main protagonists competed, because of the spirit with which Tadej Poga?ar, in his young career, still at the age of just 23. He was in July, encountered for the first time in his racing career, a major setback and, and it just bounced off him and his spirit and his contentedness with his chosen profession just shone through as if what we learned about today production was that actually, he’s a racer in the purest sense of the word what he loves about his chosen career is he loves to race every bit as much as he loves to win. I thought that was remarkable. I thought that I thought that Jonas Vingegaard the fulfilment of his very quick project from domestique to Tour de France champion was absolutely extraordinary to witness. But over and above that, I thought that the individual ride by wild van art this year, and everything that we achieved, I think there’s a strong case to argue, look, these things are just conjecture and opinion. But there is genuinely a strong case to be made for that individual performance by Wout van Aert this year, being perhaps the greatest single ride by an individual in one edition of the Tour de France in the whole history of the race. Because never before have you had a rider capable of winning over the same portfolio of different skills. And also being a domestique who rescues the yellow jersey. It was I mean, you know, you look back to the era of Hinault and Merckx and to some extent Anquetil as well. And they were capable of doing certainly in the case of Merckx, doing the things that Wout van Aert did in other words, winning sprint, winning individual time trials and winning mountain stages are coming very close to winning mountain stages. But they they will never domestiques they were never domestiques and Wout van Aert’s interventions as a domestique over and above everything else that he achieved. And by the way, he won the green jersey, and he very nearly accidentally won the polka dot jersey. His other massive intervention in the race was on more than one occasion he rescued Jonas Vingegaard.

Carlton Reid 7:37
You mentioned some of the old guys there, Anquetil, and Merckx so you almost wish that there was a road book in 1969? Because then you could go back to exactly that and go and pore through it. Well, is there any chance? Could could that be, you know, you could resurrect some of these statistics? Could you do an old version of this this book?

Ned Boulting 8:03
Can I just say Carlton, watch this space? Watch this space very closely. Because because that that was, you know, that that thought was sowed in our minds as early as 2018, when in our first year of the road book when I gave Chris Froome, a copy of the Road Book in person. And don’t forget, that was the year that Chris Froome won his last grand tour that was 2018 when he won the Giro d’Italia in that brilliant fashion. And I gave him a copy of that book. And he looked through it. And he’s he looked at me looked me in the eye and he said, What I’m just it’s just beyond irritating, that I haven’t got one of these for every year that I was winning the Tour de France. So we went Oh, yeah, like that. We always had to invent a year zero. And that was 2018. The first year we got it. But wouldn’t it be something to go back in time and pick years? And give them those treatments? So watch this space.

Carlton Reid 8:59
Okay, I just pulled up the history of Wisden’s. And that’s 1864. And yeah, they’ve got they’ve got a bit of a head start. But I mean, that’s basically what you’ve produced here. So for anybody who isn’t about cricket and their cycling, this is the equivalent to the Bible of cricket, the Bible of cycling is that that kind of thing you’ve gone for?

Ned Boulting 9:22
Wisden was very much our inspiration and the managing editor of the you know, the person who does the hard graft in terms of picking out the detail and putting the layout on the page. A brilliant colleague called Charlotte Atyeo. She came she came from Wisden. She for many years, she worked at Wisden. And so she knows how to make a book like that. May I just say that it’s my opinion, Carlton, that you don’t have to validate or disagree with, but it’s my opinion that as a product that sits on the shelf. I prefer the road book in the sense that it’s a nicer book. It’s bigger, the quality of the print and the paper on which it’s printed is significantly higher than Wisden. And we’re very proud of that as well. It’s not just what you read on the page, it’s the way the whole thing feels in the hand. That matters to us greatly as well.

Carlton Reid 10:13
Yeah, so it’s like a quality book of old. Yeah, it’s not full of photographs. It’s not like it’s not a Cycling Weekly, you know, annual, it’s, it’s a different animal, isn’t it here?

Ned Boulting 10:26
Yes. And in the past, you know, there have actually been in not not written in English, but in, in Italian. And in Dutch, there have been books in the past that have done the equivalent of what we do, but they’re no longer in print, and they’ve kind of come and gone. But they were always packed with adverts, and they were printed on magazine paper and a bit sort of like, whereas we knew from the start that if we were going to do this, it had to be an enduring a beautiful project, which actually, it kind of heaped the pressure on us in year one. Because we knew that whichever design we came up with effectively would have to look unchanged and beautiful 50 years from now, you know, so we’d have we had to get it right.

Carlton Reid 11:04
So I’m looking here at the first one, it’s 878 pages, you know, give the frontispiece a few pages too, 880. And that’s the same as the this years one. So you are stuck. Do you think you’re stuck at that? That’s the heft you need? That’s how many pages you need to tell the year?

Ned Boulting 11:25
Tthat’s interesting, I didn’t know its identical. Well, we, I mean, it does vary a little bit. It varied, of course. And this has really historically, it varied enormously in 2020. So if you look at if you were to look at the 2020 edition of the book, it’s like almost half the size, two thirds of the size, perhaps because so many races were cancelled. Yes, we took the decision that year as well to tweak the monogram at the on the spine and actually fracture it to break it up a little bit. And so this is also part of the what the Road Book does is it documents history that sits alongside the racing season. Yeah, I was at I was at the UAE tour this year working at the UAE tour, which is, by the way, something I regret doing and I’m never going to do again. I was there when Russia invaded Ukraine, and a Russian team were represented on the race Gazprom RusVelo, which now no longer exists, it was disbanded very quickly after that. And, you know, when I came to write my report, my reports for the roadbook about the UAE tour, what was going on geopolitically definitely figures in you know, how we remember what happened in February 2022. So the pandemic, the war, all of it is, you know, reflected in, you know, road racing is not immune from its interaction with the real lived world. And so, going back to your original question, I think it’s fascinating that 2020, the 2020 volume is thinner, and it will always look different on the shelf. You know, and people, you’ll look back at that and you’ll go, wasn’t that just the worst of times, and then you’ll maybe pick the book up. And you’ll look at the weird Vuelta that year, that finished in mid to late November. With those long shadows, you know, as the race finished at four or five o’clock in the afternoon, it is virtually sunset. That’s incredible, also and a certain sort of beauty about it.

Carlton Reid 13:18
You also mentioned but very briefly, but you kind of introduced cyclocross a little bit, you even have one one brief, very brief mention of gravel cycling. And then you mentioned the fact that you think you might not be including it until it is its own entity because it clearly only road riders riding these things. So tell us why you’ve put cyclocross and that very brief mention of gravel cycling in.

Ned Boulting 13:41
Yeah, it was it’s an interesting debate that and I kind of appreciate the readers input in this, I think cyclocross just became something we can no longer avoid, in the sense that it was having such a bearing on the way that the road season was was, was being raised with the advent of Vanderpool, Van Aert and Pidcock. Because they had done what they did during the winter and develop this kind of physiological and psychological skill set that cyclocross seems so perfectly attuned to. They were shaping racing, they were shaping road racing, reshaping it. And so I think we thought there’s too much crossover now between, you know, the cyclocross and the influence it’s having on road racing for us to ignore it any longer. And also, it’s, you know, people are really paying attention to it much more than they were. And so, and also, I think our other justification was alright, it’s not on the road, but a cyclocross bike kind of looks like a road bike. You know, it’s not, I don’t think we’re ever will ever include track in the road book. I think that’s a leap too far. But gravel, gravel is definitely on a road. And so in that sense, perhaps it should be in the road book. But at the moment, I don’t feel as if gravel is dictating the terms of road racing. I think the opposite is true. You know, I think road racers are going and experimenting with gravel. But I’ll keep my eye on that. And I think there’s a strong argument potentially in the future for gravel, the gravel series, such as it is, and the new world championships to be included in the Road Book.

Carlton Reid 15:12
You’ve even mentioned, I’d have to look at issues of your own to this before you’ve even mentioned transportation cycling in this editorial, but again, it’s a fleeting mention, but you’ve mentioned it, because that’s your other great love, isn’t it?

Ned Boulting 15:26
Yeah, very much so, Carlton, I mean, I don’t see this as a contradiction. I see it actually as a natural evolution of my own history in cycling, which is relatively young, I suppose, in the sense that this was my 20th Tour de France that I covered this year.

Carlton Reid 15:42
I was gonna say, Yeah, I was gonna … young? 20th Tour de France?

Ned Boulting 15:46
Well, I still feel bad, isn’t it, but I still feel like a slight newbie to a newbie. Even when I speak to people like you, Carlton, I know and understand you’re steeped in the sport. And your your history long, long far predates mine. So I always feel like I’m talking to Pete, you know, yesterday, I was at Brian Brian Robinson’s funeral. First British winner of a stage at the Tour de France. And of course, a lot of his peers and colleagues from similar generation were there as well. And I spent hours talking to Barry Hoban, and Hugh Porter, after after the funeral. And of course, in their company, I barely open my mouth, because I don’t feel like what I have to say is have any merit. Anyway, I digress. The point about the point about my education in cycling is that the sport, the elite, the highest end of the sport, ie the Tour de France, that’s what drew me into cycling as a spectator. But it wasn’t long before I came home from the Tour de France and bought myself a bike. I literally joined those dots, I made that connection. And of course, the first bike I got was wildly inappropriate. And I couldn’t conceive of doing anything other than every time I jumped on my bike, wearing a helmet, clipped in shoes, full Lycra, even if I was going to ride for two miles. And then bit by bit, I’ve kind of understood that I don’t need to do that. And my my cycling has become much more utilitarian to the extent that almost almost cycling now is one trouser leg rolled up, no helmet. And it’s to get from A to B, I live in London, which is very, perfectly kind of like set up, I think, to use the bicycle as a tool for everyday cycling. And bit by bit, you know, I’ve stopped owning a car maybe six or seven years ago, bit by bit. The understanding that the bicycle is an amazingly powerful and accessible tool for us to change our built environments. And the way we go about living our lives has really dawned on me and it’s become something of a passion.

Carlton Reid 17:47
If you haven’t we we really were really grabbed you if we as the cycling as a whole we’ve we’ve really converted you.

Ned Boulting 17:56
Yeah, yes, yes. I mean, and sometimes it’s, it’s very hard to make the case sometimes for elite sports, you know, you know, those rather trite slogans that always wrap around sporting events, like “inspire a generation” and all this sort of thing, you know, and it’s actually the evidence that bringing the Olympic Games to a country actually does much in terms of people kind of like leading a more active and physical lifestyle. But I think the bike does that. I think people consciously or unconsciously, I think they join the dots between watching men and women ride bikes at an amazing level on the television and actually contemplating getting a bike themselves and getting an I think there is a lot of evidence to suggest that, you know, let’s face it, the Tour de France is the biggest single global showcase in the world for this extraordinary invention that’s over 150 years old, but largely unchanged, which is the bicycle, which is why, which is why the debate around the total for the carbon footprint of the Tour de France, which is egregious, you know, a horror show when you think about it, debate around whether or not it is right that the Tour de France even happens on these terms, given how much carbon it emits is actually quite nuanced. Because on the one hand, yes, that’s indisputably a bad thing. On the other hand, like I say, it is the shop window, the bicycle as an invention as a tool as a thing. If you take that you take the Tour de France away, the bicycle disappears from the public consciousness

Carlton Reid 19:42
Well, as a cycle historian I would I would absolutely 100% back you up on that because that’s that’s why these races were, were created. This is why the first promoters of racing they were doing it to promote basically transportation cycling. To get people to think, “wow, you can travel the whole way around France? Oh, that means I can go to the shops on my bike then,” if they can do that I can do this was the reason for race isn’t the Oh, clearly they’ve grown to be a very different thing now. But that was definitely the people who started these races and people who started getting people to go faster on further on bicycles. Yes. So going around the world was another one is all to show people how practical this this machine is. So I 100% agree with you.

Ned Boulting 20:28
Yeah, and I think that message still applies.

Carlton Reid 20:31
But there is a there is a so there is a great argument. I mean, okay, people will might be losing Twitter out here. But certainly, on all forms of social media, there is this this this town and gown, kind of argument of you know, that Formula One, motor racing is very different from transportation driving, you know, we don’t mix those two. So why should we mix cycling, you know, pro cycling, and transportation cycling, but they’re much, much more closely allied than I think most people think. And that argument, I think, is actually not quite so strong as people maybe think.

Ned Boulting 21:06
I mean, it’s very, it’s very hard to gather this evidence cogently and actually present it. And then even if you do, have you ever, it’s very hard to convince people. But I would just say, literally, listen to what I’ve just said, listen to what I’ve how I’ve described my career, or if you like, my lifestyle. That’s it. That’s that’s exactly what I did come. I mean, I was, when I first went to was sent to cover the Tour de France, I was in my early 30s, I was a little bit overweight, I was a person who would not think twice about jumping in my Renault Scenic to go, honestly, quarter of a mile down the road to the shops and come back again. And then I was sent it to the Tour de France. And everything changed. And it changed simply because I hadn’t stopped and thought about bicycles at all. You know, I probably last cycled before then, at the age of about 17, was probably the last time I jumped on a bike. So between the age of seventeen, and that’s so common, isn’t it? In our experience, you know, we ride our bikes, it’s and then for, for whatever reason, as we come into adulthood, we drop them. Or at least that used to be the model. And so for the age of 17, to my accidental encounter with the Tour de France, and first at the age of 32, however many years that is, I simply didn’t give it I didn’t think about bicycles at all, not once. And here I am. You know, and I know it’s anecdotal. And it’s, it’s just one example. But I genuinely think that’s how it can work.

Carlton Reid 22:37
And that’s a great analogy, a great example.

Carlton Reid 22:40
So let’s go, let’s, let’s finish this by just give the plug for the Road Book.

Carlton Reid 22:45
So how much is it? Where can people get it from all that kind of stuff, give us the biography of your book.

Ned Boulting 22:50
Okay, it’s, it’s available almost exclusively on on mail order, we ship across the world, it’s £50, and we’re holding our price down. And I know it sounds a lot of money, it’s the same price as Wisden, incidentally. But it’s been a real fight for us this year with increased everything costs, including printing to keep our price. There are also special split quite a lot of special offers in terms of building your collection and retrofitting it if you’re only coming to the Road Book this year, because you will want to have the whole lot, I promise you, because that’s the point. So you’re building a collection. And as I say, plans are afoot to expand the portfolio in the years to come. And we’re enormously proud of it. And what I feel more proud of than almost anything else is that, although it is built at built, although it is written and published very much with the road racing fan in mind, you know, what I find really beautiful about it is that when we send it to riders whose names are printed on the pages, who’ve actually done the things we’re talking about, the universal reaction is, oh my God, and they feel in a digital age where all their results are recorded online. They even they understand the sort of emotional purity of having it printed beautifully and presented in a book like the Road Book.

Carlton Reid 24:14
Yeah, the longevity of it, that the the kind of the mystique of it of being mean books on a bookshelf in 50 years time.

Ned Boulting 24:22
Books are still quite rightly held to a standard, Carlton. You’ve written books, I’ve written books, you know, for example, that if you write an article, which makes certain claims about a living human being, and the article is going to be printed in a newspaper or in a magazine, or online, the lawyers might have a look at that and go “well, you probably get away with that.” If you make the same point in a book, legally, that will by practice be held to a higher standard. It’s a fascinating, isn’t it? So the very act of putting things down in a book as opposed to any other form of medium, written medium is still valued above everything else. And for good reason it’s bookshelves exist that it’s there to stay.

Carlton Reid 25:13
Well, long may they grown with a heavy Road Book. How many? How many kilos? Did you say it was in total?

Ned Boulting 25:20
Two kilos. So there are now 10 kilogrammes of the roadbook in existence, and we’re halfway towards becoming a Ryanair baggage allowance.

David Bernstein 25:32
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Carlton Reid 30:07
Thanks, David. And we are back with show number 314 of the Spokesmeen podcast and before Davids’ ad break, there was a discussion that I had with Ned Boultin, and we were discussing that Road Book. And now owever, I’d like to go across to Hannah Reynolds. And Hannah will be talking about a book that is involving a very famous long distance ride from one part of the United Kingdom to the other part of the United Kingdom so Land’s End to John O’Groats, but in a slightly repackaged way. Where were you actually today, but physically, where are you?

Hannah Reynolds 30:52
I’m in Mal

Carlton Reid 30:55
I thought you said so that’s why why why are you in Mallorca?

Hannah Reynolds 30:59
The story is my partner’s a teacher at an international school here. So we’ve moved out here for the school year. So I’m living in the opposite corner to where most cyclists are so we’re we’re dying in the kind of like the south east corner. So opposite to sort of present here and Alcudia way you normally see cyclists so it’s been good it’s been exploring the island from from a different direction.

Carlton Reid 31:31
Because normally when you’re in the UK, you’d be in Sedbergh, is that right?

Hannah Reynolds 31:35
Yes, I’d be in Sedburgh which is in Cumbria, it’s Sedbergh is in the administrative county of Cumbria. It’s in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and we have a Lancaster Lancashire postcode so it’s it’s in the it’s in between the Lake District to one side and the Yorkshire Dales to the other all mixed up. Yeah, exactly.

Carlton Reid 31:59
And then I’d like to go through your CV, because I’ve noticed that there’s a there’s a Newcastle angle here for me in that you’ve worked as a guide for Skedaddle yeah?

Hannah Reynolds 32:12
That’s right. It’s been for 10 years now I think maybe even a touch more Hmm.

Carlton Reid 32:17
Now I’ve I’ve done some trips with with it wasn’t actually a Skedaaddle trip. It was a different it was Ciclismo Classico. But the guides there that they were from Sardinia, and they were saying they knew the Ouseburn river? I thought really well, because they get brought across by Skedaddle. So is that the same case for you? You’ve been to Newcastle plenty of times because of Skedaddle?

Unknown Speaker 32:47
Yeah, I’ve been to Newcastle a fair bit and the main office is there. So I pop in there quite frequently. And we have, as your Sardinian guides were telling you, we have a guides get together every year. So wherever, wherever you are in the globe, you know, whether you’re working in Italy, Spain, France, or even further, further afield, we’ve got Skedaddle holidays, really do run in every corner of the world. So we all get together and exchange some ideas and talk about guiding and make sure that we’re all you know, doing things to the same standard and in a similar way. So it’s a really nice multicultural company to work for. From that point of view. I was mainly France, hesitant as always to mention the B word. But the the double whammy of COVID and Brexit meant that we’re not we’re not looking after France anymore. Actually, your Sardinian guides Italy will be helping to run some of the French holidays. So I still hope to guide there. I love cycling in France. I you know, I genuinely think that France is one of the best countries in the world for cycling because it’s so it’s so culturally endemic that even if you’re not a cyclist, you understand cycling, whereas many other countries that I’ve cycled in and travelled to cyclists understand cycling, but the rest of the country doesn’t. Whereas you can turn up anywhere in France and someone will they’ll be able to at least name some of their country’s most famous races and understand the challenge of cycling you feel really, really welcome and respected in France. So yeah, I’d always choose to cycle in France and guide in France when the opportunities are there.

Carlton Reid 34:32
So given that B word, where are you guiding now then?

Hannah Reynolds 34:35
I’m not currently guiding. We’re in a in an offseason. I guided in the UK last year. We do Land’s End to John O’Groats, obviously some lovely cycling around the Dales and the Lake District. I did a Tour de Ecosse so little loop around Scotland. So yeah, I did a lot more than that. UK last year, which, I suppose has been interesting for me. I know I mean, you always feel like you know your own country quite well, but there’s so many places that I’m yet to really deeply explore even in my own backyard. So it is nice. Sometimes that whole staycation vibe, I think opened people’s eyes to what we’ve got on our own doorsteps.

Carlton Reid 35:23
And you mentioned Land’s End John O’Groats there. So let’s talk about your book, six years in the preparation, it says in the press release.

Hannah Reynolds 35:31
Yeah, it was a slow burn that one. Our first book, our first guidebook was France en Velo, which was from St Marlo down to Nice. So it was 1000 mile journey across France, from the channel to the med, with the objective of finding the best cycling and the best kind of segmented cross section of the country. And that was a fabulous book to research. It was a wonderful book to write. We had some lovely cycling experiences. And we did all kinds of things with that we we plan the route and cheese, we planned the route and why, you know, we really kind of got to know that, albeit very narrow, but very long stretch of France. But once we’d finished that, and that book had come out, and we started to think about the UK a bit more. And when we were doing public speaking and talks about France on furlough, we’d sometimes use the phrase, “it’s like LEJOG, but with better wine, better food and better weather.” But we thought, well actually, that’s really doing a disservice to to Land’s End John O’Groats, because that is a route that people so passionately want to do and have so much affinity for in the UK. And actually, we’ve probably should go back and really give that the France en Velo treatment, which to us means finding the best route, not the most direct or the most simple, but the one that actually gives you the taste of the places you’re cycling through so many long distance routes. The challenge, as I’m sure you understand where the long distance route is, you’ve got to you’ve got to balance up actually getting there with seeing all the nice spots along the way. And so many long distance routes and so many Land’s End to John O’Groats routes bypass some of what we consider to be the nicest cycling or the most interesting village or hills probably. Well, partly because of hills partly because of just wanting to make it a manageable distance for people, partly to simplify the navigation. The more towns and villages you go through quite often the more you’ve got to think about your routing. But also, Lands End to John O’Groats has been as there’s many ways you can do it. It’s two points on the map Lands End and John O’Groats. You can do it in the shortest distance, that many of the kind of the racers who are trying to get the fast times do you can do it. You can do it via your you know, grandpa’s house and Preston for free nights accommodation, you know, you can go you can whatever your your objective or your personal interest is or even where you live in the country, people create their own routes. But we wanted to kind of create a definitive route where if you say I’ve done LEJOG 1000. Everyone knows which we’ve done, everyone knows it’s 1000 miles, everyone knows you’re going to cycle through the Cairngorms, everyone knows you’ll have done the north coast of Cornwall, so we wanted to kind of, I guess tie it down a bit, but also still give people the flexibility of riding it their way. The model we created for our first book was to split the 1000 miles down into 30 individual stages or chunks, so that you could do the route in you could do it in 30 days, you know, one very short stage a day, or you could use them as building blocks to create your own tool. So we we suggest three itineraries. The Explorer, which is the longest one, which gives you plenty of time to really, you know, potter about see what takes your fancy, have a long lunch, not arrive too exhausted at your destination that you don’t want to walk around all evening exploring. So we’ve got that one, which is a three week itinerary. We then have the classic which is two weeks which is what most people do because that’s a manageable timeframe, in a work holiday and being away from home for two weeks, and then we’ve gone for a 10 day challenge route which puts most days just below or just above 100 miles. So that’s a really good you know if you’ve done 1000 Miles In 10 days, that’s a cycling challenge to kind of like really put in your palmares and remember, is being a significant physical challenge. So you can do it any way you want. You can you can take the slow, slow cycling route, or you can take the fast cycling route, but the actual physical route would remain the same.

Carlton Reid 40:24
And when you’re researching this, you didn’t do it in one go. You’ve obviously done it in chunks yourself.

Hannah Reynolds 40:28
Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Carlton Reid 40:30
Have you ever done it in one go?

Hannah Reynolds 40:32
I’ve never done it in one go. I’ve actually never done it in one go. Because I’ve either been guiding. So I’ve not ridden every day because there’s been reasons why I’ve needed to drive the van or miss a day because when you’re guiding you’re about the people, you’re guiding your clients, not your own riding. So I’ve never done it in one go with with a guided group. I’ve never done it one day when I’m researching because you tend to sort of like pick a section and go in deep but not do it all in one go. And then my very, very, very first experience of Land’s End to John O’Groats was more than 20 years ago. And I did it when I was at uni, with some friends who wanted to do it in I think they did something ridiculous, like four and a half days. And I spent most of my time trying to find bananas and supermarkets for them. And that was a completely different route because we did take advantage of you know, friends and families hospitality. So no, no, it’s it’s poor. I’m gonna have to do it. I’m gonna have to take my own book and ride it in one go.

Carlton Reid 41:40
Yes, yes. And then tell me about your other books. So you’ve mentioned the France one. But there’s other books out?

Hannah Reynolds 41:47
Yeah, that are 1001 cycling tips. There’s a bit of 1000 theme here. 1001 cycling tips came out last spring. That’s, it’s, it’s a it’s a fun, it’s a fun book. But also it has lots of different tips, which I hope will work for a really wide variety of cyclists. You know, someone like yourself, who’s been involved in the sport for for decades, will probably read some and think, yeah, I agree with that, or no, I wouldn’t do it that way. And you know, but then for some beginners, it will give them really simple accessible, easy tips to just get get started.

Carlton Reid 42:32
And then let’s go back to where we started, really. And that is Mallorca. Yeah. So I mean, you’ve got kids, haven’t you?

Hannah Reynolds 42:39
I do. I’ve got a three just about to turn four year old.

Carlton Reid 42:43
Yes. So you’ve presumably at the moment can’t just go out on a long day ride on a whim, if you’ve got a kid. So but they’re going to school soon, I suppose. I mean, how much exploring do you do on a on a daily basis,

Hannah Reynolds 42:57
We’ve got quite a flexible approach in our house because everyone my partner cycles as well. So I tell you, I my son goes to like a preschool. So I told him in a trailer, eight miles to preschool and eight miles back twice a day. So I’m doing 34 miles with a bike trailer, which is feels like that feels tough, that’s tough. And then the weekends, what we tend to do is one of us, so pick a spot and cycle there. And the other one will drive with my son in the car. And then we’ll have lunch together as a family and then swap and the other person rides back. And another option is my partner is into enduro downhill. So we do a kind of strange uplift service where he’ll drive the vehicle to the top of the hill, and I’ll cycle up it and then we’ll exchange car and child and he’ll ride down. So if you look at my Strava and his Strava in the like 60 mile route, I’ve only ridden uphill and he’s only ever written downhill.

Carlton Reid 44:02
That’s that’s, that’s dialled in. That’s yeah,

Hannah Reynolds 44:04
It’s all grew. Yeah, it’s balance. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 44:10
Thanks to Hannah Reynolds there. And thanks also, to Ned Boulting earlier details of both books can be found on the show notes at And this has been episode 314 of the Spokesmen brought to you in association with Tern Bicycles. The next episode will be out next month. But meanwhile, get out there

Carlton Reid 44:36
and ride …