Category: Blog

September 19, 2021 / / Blog

19th September 2021

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 283: Autonorama


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Peter Norton

TOPICS: US academic Peter Norton, author of the classic “Fighting Traffic,” talks about his new book “Autonorama” which details the historically-resonant threat to pedestrians and cyclists from driverless vehicles.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 283 of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast. This show was engineered on Sunday 19th of September 2021.

David Bernstein 0:25
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson, USA, Jenson USA where you will find a great selection of products at unbeatable prices with unparalleled customer service. Check them out at Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast. And of course, I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast since 2006. For shownotes links and other information, check out our website at And now, here’s my fellow host and producer Carlton Reid and the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:10
I’m Carlton Reid and one of the perks of my job is get my mucky little paws on books before they’re published. A few months back I read the new book by US technology historian Peter Norton and he promised me the first of what will be many media and podcast interviews. And this is it. Peter is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia. You’ll likely know him from his classic book “Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City.” As you’ll soon hear, Peter only wrote a book per decade so it was a rare treat to get my hands on a pre-publication copy of “Autonorama,” an historically-resonant warning about driverless cars and how the tech bros need to get cyclists and pedestrians out of the way. I got an early copy of Peter’s book so I could write a cover blurb for it. Janette Sadik-Khan also penned one. The former commissioner of New York city’s Dept. of Transportation wrote that Peter’s book shows that “safer, more livable cities will be achieved not by the tech in our cars, but by our actions on our streets.” Amen. And here’s Peter.

Carlton Reid 2:42
Peter, I have I’ve had a copy of your book in digital form.

Carlton Reid 2:48
It’s a few weeks ago now. And when I read it, it was absolutely fascinating, as I would expect, of course, from you. And then I was just looking now, at the date of this book right now is going to be probably October ish, I think when it comes out. But that’s 2021. Your last book, which I’d like to talk about first actually was 2011. So you’re basically doing a book every 10 years, is that right?

Peter Norton 3:14
Well, that’s a that’s a small data set for a trajectory plot there. Let me add also that my first book actually came out in 2008. And the paperback came out in 2011. So if you saw 2011, then then you saw the paperback.

Peter Norton 3:33
So I don’t know what my trajectory is. I do have another book project now but I don’t have an expected date for it to come out yet. And, you know, I, since there’s other work involved besides books, I don’t I’m not confident giving you a sort of mathematical projection.

Carlton Reid 3:56
Well, what we’ll look forward to it in 2036 it’ll be worth the wait.

Carlton Reid 4:02
so what what is it what it tell us what you do? You know I could do this in the intro, of course, but why don’t we hear from the man himself? So what do you do when you’re not writing books?

Peter Norton 4:14
Most of the time, I’m teaching and that especially means grading papers. I have a lot of students they write and I read their work and that’s really the biggest part of my working time is is that um, and when that’s not happening, then I really enjoy some of the other things that I get to do. Like, for example, you know, talking to you is is a delight.

Peter Norton 4:39
talking to other people. One of my favourite things is when an advocate of some kind comes along somebody who thinks that walking should be normal, or cycling should should could really make a big difference in terms of sustainability and affordability.

Peter Norton 4:57
When those people come along, transit, advocates

Peter Norton 5:01
and they say that they find what I’ve done useful. Well, that really brings me joy, because you know, they’re the ones actually doing something I just write about it,

Carlton Reid 5:10
Because you are one of these authors, who will be perennially paraded in effect, because what you wrote about when I would like to talk about that even you’ve been on the show before, I think we absolutely should. We should talk about your your first book and where you’ve come from, because that kind of feeds into the into this, this this next book, your new book.

Carlton Reid 5:32
But you’re paraded because you talked about something which happened in the 1920s 30s 40s. But it’s absolutely still with us today. They said there’s a dominance of a certain four wheeled thing. So “Fighting Traffic” brought into the public sphere that jaywalking is not a natural thing, it was an invention. So I don’t want to pigeonhole your book to say that’s all it’s about. But you could say that’s one of the good takeaways is it’s bringing that history of jaywalking, being motordom creating that. That’s why a lot of people quote your work.

Peter Norton 6:16
I think that’s a useful way to sort of distil it down to something very elemental, and, and concrete and specific. Because while jaywalking is obviously just a very small part of the story, it really captures a lot of what has been missing from the story.

Peter Norton 6:36
So the story that we get in the States especially, is that car domination, which you know, is ubiquitous, is the effect of mass demand of a free market of, of democracy of values, such as individualism, and freedom, and so on. And sure, there have been critiques of that dominant narrative. Since automobiles began. That’s still the dominant story. The USA is a car culture, this is what people want. And, you know, in the end, they got what they wanted. And so we get jaywalking says, Well, now Hang on.

Peter Norton 7:21
There was a time when few people drove and walking in the street was normal, and that had to be denormalized. And once it was denormalized, well, then actually, part of the motive for getting a car was that the alternatives were getting worse, not just the walking, but also riding a street car, taking the bus or riding your bike, all of those got harder as they inevitably do when you have an environment that favours driving. And that that fact of course, then complicates what it means when people say they prefer to drive Well, you naturally prefer to drive when all of the alternatives have been, you know, impaired, so much. So yeah, I think I think that’s a nice way to capture the the gist of “Fighting Traffic.”

Carlton Reid 8:11
I don’t know how much this comes across in the US. But in here in the UK, we have this huge issue, and it does go mainstream now and again, in the mainstream press, low traffic neighbourhoods. And then when you start talking to people who are very much not in favour of low traffic neighbourhoods, you just see this just amazing mindset of they really cannot imagine not being able to get places in their car. And just a slight thing, like putting bollards in the way of where they used to driving, they can still get into these these areas, but the narrow driveway a little longer. They use all sorts of arguments, including, you know, well how are disabled people going to get around. And they’ve never been interested when you look at their social media and disabled people before but they, you know, use this, they also use air pollution. It’s just it seems to be such a favourite of people in favour of motoring. It’s a strange one, but they talk about how cars when they’re standing still in traffic jams are incredibly polluting, so we must have them moving freely. So free up the roads, and then we will have no more pollution. So these these arguments come out just

Carlton Reid 9:29
so frequently, it’s been taken on board by these people so so carefully, and they regurgitate this, but there’s just no imagination of a life without a car. So how on earth Peter, are we going to have a different future when there are an enormous amount of people, probably even worse, where you are, who really cannot imagine a future without automobiles?

Peter Norton 9:59

Peter Norton 10:00
Carlton, there’s a word you used, I think three times in that question, imagine or imagination. And I think that’s exactly the key. So a failure to imagine is exactly the, you know, for. First of all, I should say that the people who wanted to sell us car dependency recognise that imagination is essential. And they helped us imagine futures, where car dependency is liberating. And they were extremely good at it. And I think we have a lot to learn from the people who sold us car dependency about how you make different futures. Imagine it imaginable because they excelled at it. Now, when you have generations growing up in a car dependent environment, well, it’s not too surprising that, you know, if that vehicle that they depend on literally depend on is threatened. Now, this becomes a source of anger or opposition to to even elementary reform, like putting in a bollard to make the space more accommodating to anything except driving.

Peter Norton 11:18
So, yeah, that opposition is, is there. And yet at the same time,

Peter Norton 11:26
we know from harder and experience from the past that that these kinds of obstacles can be overcome. I think one way to do it is to frame it correctly. So you can frame

Peter Norton 11:41
the change we need to make as taking away driving. But we can also frame it as giving people choices.

Peter Norton 11:49
In it’s interesting fact that the Netherlands ranks very highly on places where people like to drive, I got a top rating on that from

Peter Norton 12:02
some app company. But

Peter Norton 12:06
at the same time, you have choices. And I think one of the reasons why the Netherlands scores high on places to drive is that the people who are driving or driving by choice, they don’t have to drive there. And that takes off everybody off the road who is there by compulsion, and makes the, you know, the driving experience and experience of choice? Well, if we give people choices, then,

Peter Norton 12:30
you know, we I mean, we can frame this as now you can choose to walk now you can choose to ride a bike, and yes, even now you can choose to drive so that that’s another possibility. I’d like to offer one more.

Peter Norton 12:45
Which is that when it became quite clear that cigarette smoking was shortening people’s lives, often by multiple decades. And this is going back to the 60s especially the tobacco companies were very good at framing that as a threat to people’s preferred way of living. And their advertising helped delay the transition by presenting cigarette addiction as pleasurable. And what people have gradually figured out, at least most people is that even more pleasurable than enjoying a cigarette when you’re addicted to a cigarette is not being addicted at all. And of course, that transition from a state of addiction to a state of non addiction is a very difficult one.

Peter Norton 13:35
But in the end, that destination of being addiction free, has a liberating feel. And that extends even to being free of your car dependency, as long as you have the alternatives that you need for that to work.

Carlton Reid 13:51
So your latest book

Carlton Reid 13:54
is very much extrapolating forward on on car dependency.

Carlton Reid 14:01
Let’s go into the book. First of all, it was called “Autonorama.” Why the no, but why is it auto no roma and not autorama?

Peter Norton 14:10
Well, it could be Autorama because autorama was the name of some shows, automobile shows that were put together in the USA in the mid 20th century. And this all goes back to the word diorama you make something vivid three dimensional experiential. I mean, this is an immersive experience before you know video games gave us immersive experiences. There were these giant shows. And the the American automobile companies in particular General Motors excelled

Peter Norton 14:42
at these shows, and General Motors hit on this in the biggest way back in the late 30s when they developed a famous show called Futurama combining the words future and diorama you’d like you’re travelling to the future.

Peter Norton 14:59
This was their way of making a future of car dependency, both vivid and apparently liberating, because after all, it’s a model, it doesn’t have to really work. And now, to get to the word autonoma, which is you know how I choose to pronounce it, I can’t correct your pronunciation because it’s not even a word. I just made it up. But when we in, in 2015, note, said again, said again, so I write a net again. So I get it the way I say it is Autonorma, Rama, which is like autonomous.

Carlton Reid 15:37
Okay. yes, right? Yes. So it’s just a matter of new cars autonomous driving does come a lot into into the books.

Peter Norton 15:45
Yes. And so “Autonorama” is a fusion of autonomous and futurama. And I’m claiming in the book that this is the fourth generation of a sales spectacle of a futuristic fantasy. It’s being presented to us to influence us, and to, frankly, deceive us about the feasibility of car dependency.

Peter Norton 16:10
And so the book argues that there have been really four waves of this each about 25 years apart, so roughly 1940, 1965, 1990, and 2015. And in each one of the these waves were presented with a futuristic spectacle of car dependency made possible by the latest technology. And the people presenting these spectacles recognise the power of imagination, and they help us imagine these futures, not in ways that are realistic, but then in ways that are persuasive and attractive. So it’s called autonoma, Rama, because I’m trying to argue that while it looks like the last 10 to 20 years of this futuristic spectacle has been about something that’s fundamentally new. I think it’s really the same show. It’s it’s a retread of a show we’ve been seeing for over 80 years. It’s, and what makes it seem new each time is it’s dressed up with technology that’s brand new until this time, above all, it’s machine learning, LIDAR, and so on. But it’s what matters isn’t so much the technology, but just that the technology is new enough and dazzling enough to lead us to drop our scepticism a little and believe that anything’s possible. Arthur C. Clarke said one…

Carlton Reid 17:49
Do you not think that …?

Peter Norton 17:50
Go ahead.

Carlton Reid 17:52
Sorry, Peter, that the scepticism

Carlton Reid 17:56
wasn’t there, say four or five years ago in the mainstream?

Carlton Reid 18:01
I just I just get much more

Carlton Reid 18:04
inkling from the press now that that there does seem to be more scepticism. So people like you and me who have been sceptical about autonomous vehicles for a number of years, are now becoming a bit more mainstream. And if things like you know, even just recently at the,

Carlton Reid 18:20
at the Paralympics in Japan, where, you know, a certain form of autonomous bus, ran into a blind athlete, what these these things are just terrible, terrible stories. And then the head of Toyota comes out and says, Well, you know, autonomous vehicles, you clearly haven’t got a future, certainly with the current technology. So do you think the technologies and the sorry, the, the scepticism around the technologies is catching up to where it should be, which is these technologies are nowhere near ready for for human consumption?

Peter Norton 18:56
Yes. In other words, the degree of the extravagant promises that were ubiquitous five years ago, are scarcer now. And the promises are more modest now. But what hasn’t changed is the same basic claim, which is that the technology is coming. It may take a little longer than we thought. But it is coming and it’s the technology that will determine what we do not we who will determine what the technology does. And companies are very smart about adapting to these, you know, these disappointing or these broken promises and the disappointing news like the one you just referenced from the Olympics, the Paralympics

Peter Norton 19:43
and for example, right now Waymo has been building up a reputation for itself as the people who are actually today, in 2021 every day of the week, delivering

Peter Norton 19:57
fully autonomous driving or

Peter Norton 20:00
For riding experiences in Arizona, and this way of framing it, in other words, we’re doing it right now is deployed in a way to sort of

Peter Norton 20:15
expose people like me and you as the Luddite naysayers, that that, you know, they would like to characterise this as, in other words, then they’ll say, you know, the the somebody will say, Well, you know, can this ever really happen? And we must says, we’re doing it right now. It’s, it’s bogus for a lot of reasons that you already know. But it’s rhetorically very effective when they can say we’re doing it right now.

Carlton Reid 20:42
What are you doing?

Carlton Reid 20:42
What are Waymo doing? What are Waymo claiming and not able to actually stack up?

Peter Norton 20:47
Yeah, so Waymo can, in fact, pick you up in Chandler, Arizona, and then take you to another destination in Chandler, Arizona, in a vehicle that has no driver, including no so called safety driver, the person who you know, is there to supervise the vehicle and take over in the event of an emergency, there’s not even that. And now, of course, the vehicle is under constant monitoring, and the passengers are in close communication and so on. But it really is autonomous, in that specific sense that there’s nobody operating the vehicle who is in the vehicle. Now, I think this is a sort of

Peter Norton 21:45
And of course, then the the operation costs, the overhead are very, very expensive as well. And this is all because it’s operated at a loss by Alphabet Incorporated, the company that owns Google. And, you know, this is this is another words, they’re paying a lot of money to get a claim of credibility across. It’s not a profitable business model or anything close. Also what makes Waymo possible is that it operates in a — I’m I was about to say town, but it doesn’t hardly is recognisable as a town — in an in an semi urban environment, in which there are almost no pedestrians because it’s so unwalkable The streets are enormously wide. You know, there’s ample there’s a left turn, you know, two or three left, turn lanes, right turn lanes everywhere you go.

Peter Norton 22:46
In other words, they have to have a highly contrived environment. And this, to me is another repeat of history. Because to make car dependency work, the environments, urban environments had to be completely reconstructed, just so you could move each person in their own 100 square feet of of automobile space and park them when they got there. And so what Waymo is proposing implicitly, they’re not saying this, of course, is sort of rebuilding America again, or the world again, around what the vehicle needs instead of around what people need.

Peter Norton 23:23
Now, I know you have a lot more that you could probably offer about what what makes Waymo more an illusion than a reality and I’d love to hear it. But

Peter Norton 23:45
An extremely influential public intellectual named Malcolm Gladwell has a podcast that’s hugely popular and he has an episode called “I love you, Waymo.” And it really presents Waymo as delivering us from every imagined and real evil in the urban environment. It’s It’s It’s really the vehicle as a magical deliverance, again, presented by a very eloquent and appealing intellectual in a way that makes it seem credible. So that’s, you know, an illustration of the fact that public relations is a really big part of this as it always has been.

Carlton Reid 24:27
So, yes, we haven’t got conditions like

Carlton Reid 25:06
It’s a natural conclusion? That’s that’s where the technologies have to go. They have to say, “Well, okay, we can’t see everything. But if we just chip your, your cap, if we just chip your trousers and we just chipped your phone, if we’re just chip everything, then everything will be found in future” will be fantastic if we chip everything?

Peter Norton 25:24
Yeah, that’s certainly what we’re we’re hearing, often implicitly, sometimes in explicitly that this is where we have to go to make this work. And

Peter Norton 27:33
I’m laughing, too, it’s almost incredible, how we will go to such elaborate lengths to solve problems at the high tech end of the spectrum, only when we could solve them at the low tech end, or already do solve them. At the low tech, and there’s a, an expression I’ve taken to using with students where my students are all engineering students. And so I draw a line at the on the board. And at one end, I write high tech. And at the other end, I write low tech. And I circled the high tech end. And I say, if you’re only looking at the high tech, and you may be missing something really useful at the low tech and and to help them overcome the bias against low tech, I say, why don’t we call this high sosh, like, if it’s high tech, then high social, or high social would be the better counterpoint rather than low tech, which sounds like, you know, something primitive or

Unknown Speaker 28:34
simple. So I think we’re missing the low tech end of the spectrum. It’s not being a Luddite, to say it has a lot of value, or a lot we can value in it. And often, the low tech end can help us make the high tech end work. You know that a lot of the most useful systems we can have in the world, combine high tech and low tech instead of pitting them against each other.

Carlton Reid 29:02
There is a technology Peter that you mentioned in “Fighting Traffic,” your first book, and you mentioned it in this book, and I believe we haven’t discussed it before, but that is the speed governor so the speed limiter so this is technology that you would think would be a preamble, a precursor I should say really to autonomous driving if we’re really gonna have autonomous driving well the next stage should be let’s let’s let’s take over some of the takeaway some of the human element and put speed governors in cars and that technology as you’ve discussed it in both books is not exactly brand new that you’ve been able to have speed governor speed limiters since early 19 hundred’s so why haven’t we gone to that stage? Why? Why are we missing out quite a critical stage which would actually have unbelievable speed, safety benefits if you had every car, GPS speed track.

Carlton Reid 30:00
Or in previous technologies just literally speed governed?

Unknown Speaker 30:04
Well, you know, the the early version of that the speed governor from the 1920s, which a lot of city people in America were calling for is a way to make streets for pedestrians device that would make it impossible to drive faster than 25 miles per hour. I think there’s a lot to be learned from why that was so zealously fought by the automobile interest groups. And I am pretty confident I know why, because they read their own statements to each other. And in effect, they said, people have to pay a lot of money for a car. And that means they wanted to do something that other vehicles don’t. And that one thing that cars do best relative to the other vehicles of that era, is go fast. And so if you make it impossible for the car to go faster than say, an electric streetcar, well, then people will just keep taking the electric streetcar. Why would they, you know, pay a lot of money for an automobile. And I think that basic reason is still with us. I mean, one of the biggest obstacles to among many obstacles to the autonomous vehicle future that’s being sold to us is that an autonomous vehicle can be extremely safe. If it doesn’t matter how fast or slow it goes. But, you know, the people who want to make a go of this in a business sense, know that no one will pay money to ride in an autonomous vehicle that has an average speed of eight or 10 miles an hour. So that, you know, the speed is is is, you know, essential from a business point of view. In the US in particular, it also was sort of built in to our urban geography, it because of engineering standards.

Peter Norton 31:58
I mean, it to an American audience, often the first objection I’ll get when I criticise car dependency is people will say, well, it’s a big country with long distances. And this is, of course, a kind of a silly claim, because what the distance that matters is not the distance from one coast to the other coast. The distance that matters is the distance between your home and your workplace, or your home and your school, or the shop and your home, or whatever it is those distances. And those distances can be extremely short. But in the US are our, our highway engineers, when they look at the fact that the time it takes you to get your to your destination, is the product of two factors, namely the distance and your speed. the only factor they actually worked into their calculations was speed. In other words, they never bothered with the distance. And they never made any serious effort to ask, how can we keep our destinations, close enough together, that we will save you time on your way to work? Instead, they said, How can we get you travelling faster? Now, it’s the same problem, how much time does it take you to get to work, but they chose to attack it only from one side of that equation and not from the other. And because they committed themselves immediate a public responsibility to fight what they called delay, delay being travelling slower than the speed limit, then every time you were delayed, the problem had to be solved at public expense by adding new highway capacity that would let you go the speed limit again. And as a consequence of all of that, we already have destinations so far apart, that you cause anxiety, when you tell people that we made in need a future where you go slower.

Carlton Reid 33:53
Your definition when you when you’re saying use high social instead of low tech. That’s kind of interesting and worthwhile. It doesn’t seem to be something that people would tend to use apart from, of course, advocate, because you mentioned the phrase before you I term Luddites, so you know, autonomous vehicles, speed, even

Carlton Reid 34:22
capacity of roads, and making roads fit for whatever car whatever motor vehicle is on the road at the time, for instance, Tesla’s now this is all progress. And Peter, what you’re doing, and if you say things like, well, we could use public transport and we could use bicycles, or we could walk that’s anti-progress, that’s not moving forward. We already have got that.

Peter Norton 34:47
What’s interesting about that, it’s a great question. And it’s actually one of the reasons why I thought, why don’t we call low tech high social, because then we can sort of try to characterise social

Peter Norton 35:33
As you know, for ‘Autonorama’ one of my inspirations is Rachel Carson in “Silent Spring.” And her book was highly critical of the high tech,

Peter Norton 36:24
you know, “Silent Spring” is a reference to a future where there are no songbirds because of chemical pesticides. Well, there equivalents of that for urban mobility, like,

Unknown Speaker 36:37
you know, a future where we can have parks that you can walk to, we can have playgrounds that your children can walk to safely without you having to drive them to the playground, children going to school, these are attractive images, like songbirds are that, you know, high tech, incidentally can help us get to because there’s a place for high tech in a sustainable, Livable Future, there’s a vital place for high tech and that, but it’s then again, a question of making sure that we are the ones choosing the tech that we need for our chosen purposes. And not, and we don’t turn into people sort of waiting for tech to happen to us, which is how it’s getting framed right now.

Carlton Reid 37:25
Are you worried about the Apple Car? Because that, you know, every time they do Apple do take on a technology, they they pretty much transform it in their own making, and make it incredibly popular? Or do you think they will be burned just as, as other companies have have actually been burned in this this this space? Because clearly they they’ve lost? An executive just recently has gone to another company for I think,

Carlton Reid 37:52
and and they haven’t brought out this this is this much vaunted car, despite working on it for a long time. So do you worry about Apple? Or is it thing you’ve got no real worries?

Peter Norton 38:04
Well, I do worry about all of these companies, including Apple, and maybe apple in particular, for the reasons that you mentioned, they’re very good at this. You know, the iPhone is something that people feel an attachment for, which is unlike, you know, the phones we remember as kids, which you weren’t strictly, you know, utilitarian objects.

Unknown Speaker 38:26
I also worried because not just Apple, but also the companies to get apps onto your phone are very good at commanding our attention. And a lot of the thinking around autonomous vehicles right now is that they can be profitable if they’re really massive data collectors. And that’s what has made the iPhone profitable for many companies. And it can also make a sort of Apple Car. What some people in the industry call the ultimate mobile device, a device we will be as attached to as our phones. Now, part of your question is, will this will they actually succeed at this and I actually don’t think autonomous vehicles will ever succeed at being anything like what they’re represented as to us as as something you know, you’ll be able to summon it anywhere, anytime. And it will take whisk you away to your destination, right away the way all the public relations shows. But the fact that I don’t think that’s possible. I don’t want that to distract us from the fact that the pursuit of that goal can be really, really destructive. In other words, you may never get to the goal. But the destruction in the wake of that effort could be profound. And I mean, I think history is trying to teach us that because in America, we’ve been pursuing a city where you can drive anywhere at any time without delay and park for free when you get there, we’ve never achieved that city. And yet we’ve never stopped pursuing it. And in pursuing it, we have really destroyed the pre automotive cities of America and turned the post automotive cities into kind of car dependent energy, wasteful, vast expanses of pavement. So I think we could we could repeat history, we’re at risk of repeating history, because the unachievable promise of the autonomous vehicle may lure us along a path of extravagant spending over use of energy. Carbon emissions, I mean, the list goes on.

Carlton Reid 40:45
Peter, many people, and this is where the Luddite comes in. Many people have said, you know, technologies will be unachievable. And then lo and behold, they become achievable. And the Luddities are proven wrong. And before you said somthing about choice, and how, if only you had the choice of a form of transport, so the Netherlands, you’ve got lots of choice, and you choose whichever transport mode you want, whereas other countries, you know, there’s really ones, it’s monolithic, only one

Carlton Reid 41:14
transport choice, really, because that’s been designed. But autonomous vehicles, if they get it right, and if we are wrong, and where we are proven to be Luddites and Apple, a miraculously in in a year’s time, 18 months time comes out with a product that is just genuinely the real deal? Isn’t that something that could potentially

Carlton Reid 41:39
make bicycling and walking, perhaps not public transport, but certainly those two modes, that can be a golden age for those modes, because you get rid of the nut behind the wheel, you get rid of the most dangerous part of the motor vehicle. And that’s the human driver. So surely, why is you as a technology, intellectual or technology academic? Why are you not saying we can do this, but maybe have parameters in so we steer in a certain direction?

Unknown Speaker 42:14
That’s a wonderful question. And so rich possibilities about about how to approach it.

Peter Norton 42:22
So I mean, first of all, in any book about the future, and “Autonorama” although most of the actual text is about the past, that’s there to help us get the future. Right. So the book I think of is fundamentally being about the future. And I think every author of such a book has to admit they may be wrong. And I, I admit, I may be wrong about autonomous vehicles. But I think, I think the weight of evidence is overwhelmingly on the side that says,

Peter Norton 43:33
There was a an article that came out maybe three or four years ago, by Adam Millard Ball, where he concluded and the conclusion he presented the conclusion with extremely high confidence that autonomous vehicles will return streets to pedestrians and cyclists and even children playing games, because the vehicle will be programmed to avoid injuring those people at any cost really. And here’s that, to me, this is a perfect illustration of why we have to study history or we will get the future wrong.

Peter Norton 44:59
autonomous vehicles would either be mostly stopped in cities, and therefore no one would pay a penny to ride in one. Or they would operate only in wastelands like Chandler, Arizona, where no one walks anyway. So those two alternatives I think are equally unlikely. And here’s here’s where history comes in.

Carlton Reid 45:23

Peter Norton 45:23
Go ahead.

Carlton Reid 45:26
Well, there’s your future. The future is every single place in the world looking like Chandler, Arizona. In other words, you get rid of the pedestrians, you get rid of the cyclists, because they’re the ones holding back progress, Peter!

Peter Norton 45:39
Exactly. And and, Carlton, I do believe that it’s possible. In other words, it is possible that, that to make these things work, they will, you know, they being policymakers, engineers, corporate interest groups, and so on, they will make sure that

Peter Norton 46:54
designed with such that the pedestrian comes first that automatically you have a pedestrians paradise neglects the fact that the laws, the engineering standards, the social norms, and so on, are all subject to change from the groups with the most at stake and with the most influence. So motordom’s response, the automotive interest groups response to the fact that their drivers were getting into deep legal trouble and deep financial trouble every time they hit a pedestrian and to the fact that the newspapers were were demonising vehicles and their drivers wasn’t to say, well, we have to make cars that only go 10 miles an hour or something like that. Their response was to change the social norms. The jaywalking campaigns were part of that, to change the laws, and to change the engineering standards, such that now, you know, in a typical American city or suburb, a pedestrian wouldn’t even dare try sometimes to even exercise their legal right at the typical American crosswalk, especially on the fringes of a city, you see people waiting patiently at a marked crosswalk where they have the right of way, while drivers just race on through. So I think you’re going to see the same thing with autonomous vehicles. In other words, the autonomous vehicles will, there will be ways to make sure the pedestrian gets out of the way might be an obnoxious noise or a flashing light could even conceivably be cameras that ultimately have facial recognition in them. They’ll make sure that the laws are a certain way.

Carlton Reid 48:40
China already does that.

Peter Norton 48:41
That’s right.

Carlton Reid 48:42
The Chinese already have that. They have that right now. If you if you jaywalk, you can be instantly fined.

Peter Norton 48:50
Right. So China decided at some point they wanted a national automobile industry and suddenly the you know, when you have an authoritarian country like China, the that can be a policy that’s implemented quite quickly. They promoted that industry in part by becoming changing from a country where everybody cycled to everything into a country where it’s hard to walk safely and where you are treated like you know, an enemy of the state if you if you exercise, a little resourcefulness just to get across the street. And that may, I hadn’t thought of that illustration, but that may be the ideal illustration for why the Malcolm Gladwell Adam Millard Ball thesis won’t stand up. I think the other illustration is historical.

Carlton Reid 49:40
Do you know, I’ve never actually thought about this because this autonomous driving is very much a tech bro thing is very much Silicon Valley. Google. Apple. Now we’ve talked about them. We haven’t talked about China. Do you know is this something that never come up on your your LIDAR and then China will

Carlton Reid 50:00
What is China doing with autonomous vehicles, you know, they’re ahead in so many other ways. If this was a viable technology, you’d think they would be at least equal to the Silicon Valley Tech bros, or potentially even further afield, especially because there are, as you said, there are authoritarian country, they can do what the hell they like with their streets, whereas in some respects, even in auto-dependent USA, and then the UK, there’s still gonna be some kickback, whereas in China is gonna be no kickback, if they want to do the whole system where it’s gonna be autonomous vehicles, they can do autonomous vehicles.

Peter Norton 50:37
Well, I’m not privy to a lot about what’s going on there. Besides what, you know, I can pick up fairly easily in journalism, but

Peter Norton 51:01
an example I spend some time on in the, in the book is a 2010 movie that was co produced by General Motors, China and its Chinese partner, SAIC used to be Shanghai AutomotiveIndustries Corporation,

Peter Norton 52:08
Maybe not so much in the vehicle, if not in the vehicles themselves, then in the technology, the world would need to have these vehicles.

Carlton Reid 52:16
I can imagine they would also chip if, literally, you know, we we worry about this is like, Oh, you know, we’re gonna have to have chips on our phones. And then of course, we’re gonna have to have chips in, you know, embedded in our skin. We’re in China, that wouldn’t be a problem. Yeah, everybody who’s born, there’s your chip. And then all of a sudden, you’ve got a system where Yeah, China has got autonomous vehicles, no problem, because everybody wouldn’t be a

Carlton Reid 52:40
better dream come true for an authoritarian regime than to have not only chipped people, but they’re also travelling in vehicles that can be tracked, their location is known at all times.

Peter Norton 52:52
You know, it, it really is an authoritarian’s dream come true. Which of course is ironic, because car dependency was sold on the claim that it was personally liberating.

Carlton Reid 53:04
You talk in your in your book about “transport sufficiency,” what’s what’s transport sufficiency?

Peter Norton 53:10
I’m presenting transport sufficiency as the alternative to a sort of transport perfection. Now, obviously, perfection sounds more attractive than sufficiency. But that comparison changes when you recognise that transport, perfection is actually never achieved. It’s frequently invoked and frequently promised, because that has a way of opening up wallets of opening up public money for roads and so on. But it’s never actually achieved. And the result is actually kind of worse than transport sufficiency. Because in the pursuit of transport perfection, you get all kinds of nuisances, that are, you know, worse than transport sufficiency, and that are ubiquitous in the US, such as, for example, you know, buses, if they come at all come once an hour or something like that, or walking means walking next to a six lane highway, and having no place to cross and so on. So transports efficiency is saying, Well, if we forego perfection, then we have possibilities that are actually very attractive. This, incidentally, is another case where I want to give the credit to Rachel Carson, also to to Jane Jacobs, who were saying very much the same thing. They didn’t use the that vocabulary. But Rachel Carson, for example, was in effect saying, if you give up the dream of, say, pest free agriculture, where you have no insect pests at all, then you can actually do some quite wonderful things, you know, by crop rotation, varying your crops, you know, finding the suitable, the crop right crop for that

Peter Norton 55:00
environment and so on. Jane Jacobs was offering a version of that same kind of message, namely, the perfectionist visions of the planners was never really achievable. And the pursuit of it was destructive. But if we sort of agreed that it’s okay to have, you know, a mix of, of building stock, some of which may be a little decayed. And it’s okay if we have people who sometimes find it frustrating on the sidewalk, because there’s so many people walking and so on. If we accept those things as part of the deal, well, then we can take take that as a serious possibility as an alternative that looks very attractive compared to the pursuit of perfection, we never actually approach.

Carlton Reid 55:48
Also in your book, I’m now I’m going to pick out because I I’m lucky enough to have been sent an advanced copy. And I’ve, I’ve read it, and I picked up it, so I’m not gonna just pick out bits and throw them at you. And you’ve got to explain to us to everyone who’s listened to this. So you wrote “a city optimised for drivers keeps not only drivers dissatisfied, but everyone else, too.” So explain that.

Peter Norton 56:16
Well, this is actually related to the previous point, namely, a city optimised for drivers is ultimately unachievable for the simple reason that

Peter Norton 57:34
you will find that you can live further from work and maybe save yourself or rent or get yourself a lower price on your house. If you choose to live another 10, 20, 30 miles from your daily destinations, which in turn means more total driving, it means more people coming into the city from a wider radius of origin points, and all needing a place to park their vehicle all day. And so it’s a kind of a treadmill, where the more you accommodate drivers, the more driving there is, and therefore the more effort you have to take to accommodate them. And if you the ultimate example of this would be Houston, Texas, where if you you know do a Google image search for Katy freeway, which is interstate 10 near Houston. You see, I think it’s now 26 lanes of congested traffic. Which, which is it makes the most dystopian dystopian science fiction seem, you know, mundane by comparison. So it’s, it’s it’s an absurdity.

Peter Norton 58:46
And, you know, that’s the point I was just trying to make.

Carlton Reid 58:48
But 28 lanes will fix it.

Peter Norton 58:52
That’s right.

Carlton Reid 58:53
One more will fix it. We’re just looking for that sweet spot.

Peter Norton 58:57
Exactly, yeah, one more lane is what it’ll take.

Carlton Reid 58:59
So both you

Carlton Reid 59:02
and I, we, our research interests often coincide. Mine from the UK angle and from the US angle. But they often talk about or look at eventual dystopias and and but you when you’re reading the literature of the 1920s, 1930s, it’s full of optimism and and ditto for for here. So I’m I’m currently reading lots and lots of literature, from that time where modren was going to be perfection. It was you know, we weren’t going to ever reach

Carlton Reid 1:00:00
That’s basically where we’re coming we’re the Grouches is here, we’re, we’re the, the boring old Luddites, or not even Luddites. We’re the boring old people pointing out that, yes, you can have this technology, but it won’t actually do what you say it’s going to it’s going to do. And we did have to look at history to kind of prove that in all this optimism.

Carlton Reid 1:00:24
Now really ever we’re just stuck in traffic. Yes, this this, this is a freedom machine. If you’re the only one driving it, as soon as everybody else has this fantastic technology, it ceases to be practical.

Peter Norton 1:00:39
Quite so. You were reminding me of a word that might be applied to both of us as well? That’s very common, maybe more here than there naysayers were the naysayers. But yeah, certainly, if you compare the utopian visions of the 30s, or the 40s, or the 50s, with what we have now, it is profoundly disappointing. I think this compels us to ask why do we keep falling for these techno futuristic fantasy lands that can’t be achieved? And that was a question that was very important to me in autonoma? Why do we keep falling for these things? And of course, one of the arguments in “Autonorama,” is that we actually do get sceptical after each wave of these things. There’s a credibility gap that sets in

Peter Norton 1:02:33
inspire gets applied to make us believe futures that are both undesirable and unachievable?

Peter Norton 1:02:40
Well, then then we’re being manipulated again.

Carlton Reid 1:02:42
That sort of reminded me of a like a visual joke like, you know, you know, “Punch,” Punch, there are satirical magazine in the UK, I’m pretty sure it from them. So it’s there’s a, there’s an illustration of a horse and cart, a drunk farmer. And I’m sure this has been used in the US as well, I’m sure you’ll be familiar with this trope. But the farmer is drunk, leaning back, in effect, asleep in the in the back of his, his vehicle of the day, his character of the day driven by a horse, but the horse can actually get him home from the pub. So these technologies of autonomous vehicles, I’ve actually been with us before, you would just have the horse would take you home from the pub drunk. So nothing that they’re really dreaming of now are something that we couldn’t have done using other forms of technology previously, and you kind of make that point in the book where you say, and I’m quoting you here,

Carlton Reid 1:03:43
where “walkability, cycle routes and basic transit are so much less expensive, that even if we diverted a 10% of the funds now going to building, maintaining and policing roads, and and the future of these roads, means we can actually start to see beneficial trends in a year or two, never mind in 10, 20 years.” So that’s where we need to be brave and actually funding technologies

Carlton Reid 1:04:11
that work, that are proven to work,

Carlton Reid 1:04:15
but maybe not sexy.

Peter Norton 1:04:18
I love the way you put it. In fact, that opening analogy really ought to give us pause because that farmer’s horse, got the farmer home, even if there was an inch of snow and it was sleeping, and it was night. All of which would have made it you know, a technical nightmare to sort out at the best high tech companies r&d divisions today. It’s true that you know, the resources necessary just to make walking practical and cycling practical and to give people more reliable and better bus service and so on are not that significant. And he would finally give

Peter Norton 1:06:23
You know, yeah, that would be restoring choice to people and technology could be part of it. Because one of the reasons why we over built roads is that, you know, the excuse was, it’s not practical to charge people for their road use by the actual cost of each mile, their driving, that would require, say, a toll booth on every mile of road, and everybody would have to stop and get coins out of their pocket to pay the toll. And therefore, we’re gonna go with the gas tax instead. And the gas tax was this incredibly clumsy and stupid, low tech way to create a funnel of money for roads that became a self perpetuating treadmill of road building. Well, technology can let us undo that. So I’m being a high tech fan here and saying, why don’t we, you know, charge people and then put that money into giving people choices.

Carlton Reid 1:07:14
Do you see any? Because you mentioned many times in both books, how the automakers basically got everybody else to pay for their infrastructure, you know, society paid, governments paid on their behalf. Do you see

Carlton Reid 1:07:32
that happening with autonomous vehicles, because if we are going to have autonomous vehicles, and we know that the technology they’ve currently got aren’t going to be sufficient, they’re going to have to have a remodelling of the streets, which we’re going to have to pay for at the end of the day, it won’t be the automakers and never has been the automakers. And it’s never been the users, the motorists either. It’s always been society as a whole. Do you see in for instance, in the latest Biden’s infrastructure bill, you know, how much of that is actually going to subsidising all of these tech dreams?

Peter Norton 1:08:06
Well, I can’t speak very specifically about Biden’s infrastructure bill because I have some homework to do to get better acquainted with the details. I only have the headline level information about it. But what I can say is absolutely the costs, entailed in accommodating and enabling autonomous and other highly automated vehicles on the roads has already been getting picked up by the US taxpayer in a big way. And this goes across parties and administrations. At the end of the Obama administration, there was a smart cities competition where one US city got a enormous amount of money to promote.

Peter Norton 1:09:37
autonomous vehicles are coming in. It’s our job in the Federal Highway Administration to help it happen. And she announced large sums of money for that. And without even checking, I think we can be certain that there are substantial public funds from US DoT even under Mayor Pete for

Peter Norton 1:10:07
So yeah, these interest groups, these trade associations and lobbies are simply too powerful for that not to happen.

Carlton Reid 1:10:16
So, Motordom Mark II?

Peter Norton 1:10:18
Yes, I think we still have Motordom and in fact, the Motordom club is expanded to include tech companies.

Carlton Reid 1:10:25
Peter, as always, it has been fascinating. Your book was excellent. I was kindly asked to write a blurb for it. That’s why I got an early copy, in which I hope I was as glowing as I ought to be. Because it was a fantastic book, and a very, very good follow up to “Fighting traffic,” like the kind of the next stage. So tell us, when’s it gonna be available? Where is it going to be available from tell us all of that detail.

Peter Norton 1:10:57
So the press is Island press, and Island press says it will be available October 21.

Peter Norton 1:11:06
A nice feature of the book’s title is that you won’t get a lot of irrelevant hits. If you type in the book’s title “Autonorama,” it t ought to be the first thing that comes up on any search engine. And it will be available through essentially all the book channels that people are already using.

Carlton Reid 1:11:28
And that’s all Now, where can you find more about you, because you’re not on Twitter.

Peter Norton 1:11:36
I know, I have a an About Me page on my department’s website, my department being the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia.

Peter Norton 1:11:52
I think if anyone searched just for “University of Virginia” and “Peter Norton,” it would probably come up near at or near the top.

Carlton Reid 1:12:01
So you’re proving yourself here to be that Luddite.

Peter Norton 1:12:05
Well, you know, I recently had a friend who so use of social media, I had a journalist friend I like very much recently tell me I have to be on Twitter. And then in the next sentence, he said, but I lose an incredible amount of time on it, I have to say, so I’ll consider joining the twittersphere. Again, but you know, I have some

Peter Norton 1:12:31
costs and benefits to to consider.

Carlton Reid 1:12:34
Yes, I wouldn’t encourage anybody to do it. Because it is can be a time sink, and you do tend to talk around in circles. But at the end of the day, it is good to, to have like,

Carlton Reid 1:12:49
cuz I use it the other day, in fact, for a Forbes article, in that I was taken on a whole bunch, I don’t know why they’ve adopted me, but a whole bunch of anti low traffic neighbourhood folks have adopted me as their bet and one of the name I have mentioned why I’m the one at the moment, which they’re there that they’re piling in on me. And so I try and win when I take them on. You know, it’s like, this is not radical, you know, a low traffic neighbourhood is not radical, you know, the Romans had low traffic neighbourhoods. 600 years ago, the York Minster had low,, these are bollard, these are not you know, the throughout history we’ve had, you know, motor carriages restricted. This is not unusual yet all the mass media and these people are seeing this as this incredible, new and novel to them dystopian future where you can’t go exactly where you want in your motorcar. So I take these people on, and I try and move it on. So because it’s not a very radical concept, they consider it radical. I just say, well, let’s just ban cars.

Carlton Reid 1:13:56
They then flip their lid, because that is just something that they haven’t is like, Whoa, we just thought we’re talking about you know, just a few bars here. Now this this lunatic is talking about banning all cars. Now, of course, I don’t have any power in it. I can’t do anything about this. But just mentioning that concept that that is your future and I kind of scared them. I hope it just nudges the Overton window for them, just nudges up a little. So they then think that LTNs or maybe they’re not quite as crazy, or as radical as we think because this nutter is talking about banning all cars. So maybe we will just keep quiet. Mostly you’re talking to the wind, you’re not gonna convert anybody people have got their their rigid points of view and I don’t know why they even start arguing about it. But there was a glimmer, it was two or three posters, who when you actually started chiselling away, and you actually showed them because they one particular one came on and was very anti LTNs but then

Carlton Reid 1:15:01
I started talking about highway removal. And how it didn’t lead to Carmageddon, there didn’t lead to congestion everywhere. And then I showed them a photograph of this particular the poster child of highway removal in South Korea and showed them how it is now a park today. And their argumentation had been about how all LTNs was shoving

Carlton Reid 1:15:27
all the heavy traffic onto these major freeways where there was actually lots of houses next to it. But when I showed them, like other countries have done this, they actually came around to this concept, and I just got one convert from this argumentation, I would consider that to be a success. So some Overton windows might be nudged open, but then one person who was anti LTN is gonna think ‘Well, actually, there is a different future, because South Korea did that.’ So that’s why I use social media and and I don’t mind spending time arguing with people, even though 90% of them, you’re not going to change their mind, you might change 10% of people’s mind. And perhaps those 10% could be an important 10%.

Peter Norton 1:16:15
Well, I am delighted by this story, and you’ve given me something to think about very carefully. I read that piece in Forbes, by the way, and I absolutely loved it. And the reason I saw it is that I am on social media. I saw it on Facebook. And I recall your sort of attention getting statement in that post, which was the first sentence is been banned cars are approximately that. So I loved the deliberate provocation that that was that was amusing. And I shared, of course, I shared the article because it’s it’s it’s common sense presented bbsolutely refreshingly. Well, yeah, I think I’ll give it a try.

Carlton Reid 1:17:09
Don’t blame me though.

Peter Norton 1:17:10
No, no,

Peter Norton 1:17:11
if I if I ended up

Carlton Reid 1:17:12
I didn’t, I didn’t.

Peter Norton 1:17:14
Yeah, if if my career stalls to a halt, because I’m constantly tweeting, or, and so on I’ll take full responsibility. And you have that on Zencastr.

Carlton Reid 1:17:27
Thanks to Peter Norton. There’s a photo of him and a link to “Autonorama” on this show’s website at Next month, I’ll have a chat with Lachlan Morton, who, as I’m sure you know, rode this year’s Tour de France by himself, but meanwhile … get out there and ride.

September 12, 2021 / / Blog

12th September 2021

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 282: Veloforte


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Marc and Lara Giusti

TOPICS: A 50-minute chat with Veloforte founders Marc and Lara Giusti.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 282 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Sunday 12th of September 2021.

David Bernstein 0:25
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, Jenson USA where you will find a great selection of products at unbeatable prices with unparalleled customer service. Check them out at Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fred cast. And of course, I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesman cycling roundtable podcast since 2006. For shownotes links and other information, check out our website at And now here’s my fellow host and producer Carlton Reid and the Spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:10
Bear with me as I sample a smidgen of fresco energy chew along with a little chunk from a hazelnut coffee and cocoa flavoured Tuscany-inspired treat. That’s more like a pan forte than your traditional energy bar, which let’s face it is often on the functional spectrum, rather than a foodie one. I’m just gonna taste this, hang on.

Carlton Reid 1:37
Yep. Oh, that’s mint

Carlton Reid 1:39
Oh, lemon it’s also mint and lemon. It’s got the consistency of kind of Turkish Delight. It doesn’t taste like Turkish Delight, but it’s got the consistency of Turkish Delight. And that’s Fresco from Veloforte. And made in small batches, Veloforte is from London. The products I’m enjoying here are made with natural time-tested ingredients, not fancy schmancy gloops. I’m Carlton Reid and on today’s 50-minute show I’m talking – and eating – with Veloforte founders, Marc and Lara Giusti. Their brand is now five years old. And unusually for an energy bar company, its halo products have won numerous Great Taste awards. After we’d finished recording, I was kindly sent an all-products sampling box and I can exclusively reveal — well, not very exclusive — but I can reveal that everything in Veloforte’s range is super tasty, including the Fresco there which is now half chewed. Let me just open the Mocha so the Mocha is hazelnut coffee and cocoa

Carlton Reid 2:59
and it’s like a pan fortre I’d have I’ve have had a few before so I’m just tasting this one now.

Carlton Reid 3:07
So if you’d like pan forte, at Christmas or whatever you would like Sienna-sourced products well I guess you’re like this. Let’s taste this one.

Carlton Reid 3:21
Yeah, okay. That’s also

Carlton Reid 3:25

Carlton Reid 3:26
I’ll cut this audio out. Yeah. Okay, I’m now back in, I’ve cut the sound out of my chewing there. But that was also tasty, very, very tasty. Because these products are made from real food, not fillers. There’s like big objects of hazelnuts in the Mocha I can see on my desk here. And there are none of the bloating and you know those emissions-related problems that is common with other some other gels. Anyway, here’s my chat with Marc and Laura. I started by asking about the surprisingly long history of pan forte

Marc Giusti 4:04
Way back in a sort of Roman legions before even there’s evidence of

Marc Giusti 4:13
essentially fruits, nuts, berries, honeys, those sorts of produce being pulled together by

Marc Giusti 4:22
in this case the Roman legions as they marched through Europe.

Marc Giusti 4:26
And using these ingredients to sort of fortify the armies the soldiers you know, the the teams as they marched through the land.

Marc Giusti 4:37
And of course, what that became them was a sort of a dough really a mixture of, of these different ingredients brought together. But as time went on,

Marc Giusti 4:47
began to include all sorts of herbs and spices and in a new and interesting foods as they went through different lands and countries. So ginger

Marc Giusti 5:00
And cinnamons and you know, a whole host of fruits and who knows what.

Marc Giusti 5:05
And as this happened, the, the fruits of stops being, if you like, a fortifying dough for, you know, the plebs and the masses. And it started to become a bit more of a speciality it started become the almost sort of pharmaceutical away because of the the gingers and other spices that had some healing benefits in and they were finding that, you know, the the soldiers and the generals and the and the leaders were, were, you know better for it. And so it sort of started to become something of a speciality in this special food for,

Marc Giusti 5:39
I guess,

Marc Giusti 5:41
higher, higher and higher up the food chain, so to speak. And then as many hundreds if not a couple of 1000s of years have moved on, it’s now really seen in Italy as a as a classic delicacy, largely centred around the area of sienna. And around Florence, you can find it everywhere in Italy, of course, but it’s sort of central gravity seems to be that sort of Tuscan food. So that’s the snapshot and, and the reason that’s connects to to us is that my family’s from Florence, Lucca near Sienna. And there’s a long history of panforte to being a

Marc Giusti 6:25
Well, it’s true many Italian families were panforte is a thing that your, your nonna, your grandmother teaches you how to make. And if you if you don’t know how to make it, then you know you need to.

Marc Giusti 6:39
And it’s a staple, really, and of course, the the the recipes for these are very closely guarded sort of family secrets. And that’s the backdrop to how it’s in. And I guess our lives and

Marc Giusti 6:54
Laura, as well, over the years has developed an incredible capability as an award winning baker, not only

Marc Giusti 7:04
also for heart, lung, respiratory specialist as well. And so combining those skills, this provenance of food,

Marc Giusti 7:12
our interests for creating

Marc Giusti 7:16
natural ingredients, natural foods for, for sports context, that’s essentially the the moons were coming together, it looks a little bit like that. And when when, when the moons coming together, gosh, there’s so slowly at first, because we didn’t invent the recipes in order to create a nutrition brand. It was it was actually that was that’s where we ended up the the beginnings of this was just really to help fuel me on my own sort of cycling adventures. And I was sort of sick to death with this was around 2017, I think

Marc Giusti 7:51
2016 maybe 2017 I was fed up with all of the typical synthetic nasty gloop in tubes that we’ve all had to suffer for years that you know, you’ve most bike shops, or wherever you might get your food.

Marc Giusti 8:05
And all of it pretty unpleasant, all of it

Marc Giusti 8:09
was impossible to understand the what’s in it, let alone what it’s supposed to do, or how to use it. And so it was for me a case of I wanted to find something, I could trust him and something that I wanted to eat and something that I understood. And

Marc Giusti 8:24
so Lara turns around says, Well, I’ll make it for you. I know exactly how to do that. I know, from my home, as I said, from herbs of medical, years, 20 odd years.

Marc Giusti 8:33
And that side of her life, was saying what I understand recovery in the human body and performance perfectly. I also understand how to how to make this stuff at an award winning level. So why aren’t we making it for you, so it started there. And then of course, I’d have too much in my pocket, no doubt here and there. And we’d hand it to friends and friends and hand it to their friends. And all of a sudden, we were staring at an opportunity to develop the brand.

Marc Giusti 8:59
And it kind of built its own path. Really, my past previously was 25 years brand strategy for all sorts of international brands. So we sort of converged that thinking and Lara’s skills with the foods and creative metaphor.

Carlton Reid 9:19
And from what you’re saying, it sounds like you, you you, you issue and you don’t have in your ingredients maltodextrin which is the kind of the basis for many

Carlton Reid 9:30
foods out there.

Lara Giusti 9:30
No, Carlton, we don’t use any highly processed ingredients at all. So what was important for me when I’m curating the range when I’m building any new products is that you almost want to be able to make it yourself in your own kitchen, be able to open your own cupboards and get your dried fruits, get your plant based syrups your Maple syrups and your nuts and be able to you know create these incredible incredibly powerful and delicious

Lara Giusti 10:01
recipes at home. But we do it for you, of course. And so it’s important for me that you understand what’s in the recipes that your body understands how to digest what’s in the recipes. So we steer away from any sort of synthetic ingredients or heavily processed ingredients and try and keep it as natural and as simple as possible.

Carlton Reid 10:20
Does that not I mean that the reason companies use is apart from the fact that maltodextrin a one point was an incredibly cheap ingredient

Carlton Reid 10:28
was that long shelf life and then that’s, that’s their benefit. So what is your how’s your shelf life compared to one of your your

Carlton Reid 10:39
competitors who are using these other ingredients?

Lara Giusti 10:42
So that is obviously that lots of things that we taking into consideration when we do make new products. But when we started with the bars, we knew that pound 40 was highly appraised for its shelf life, that’s how it would live in the Roman legions packs as they would storm across the countries. And so and it has natural preservatives in it. So it has a fairly high sugar content. And as we know, from jamming, it’s a natural preservative, you don’t need to add any artificial preservatives to that, to maintain a shelf life. The bars themselves are fairly low in water content. And so the moisture is trapped within the dried fruits within the bars. And so there’s nothing really to grow any mould or or affect any shelf life. So we have now up to 14 months on our bars have natural shelf life, too.

Lara Giusti 11:35
So rather than refrigerators refrigerated, they cope amazingly from 40 degree heat down to you know, minus two degree heat.

Lara Giusti 11:45
The they maintain their texture, and they’re the most fantastic portable fuel.

Marc Giusti 11:52
And it’s the same with with the chews, with the gels with hydration with our protein shakes, none of the ingredients include anything synthetic or or preservative based or additive based. And then all of those have somewhere between 12, 16 and 18 months shelf life. So it has not been mean we just simply don’t subscribe to the I guess the thought that we need to pump the products full of convenient ingredients from a manufacturing point of view

Marc Giusti 12:26
In order to either gain margin or to gain sort of shelf life, when you can have what or if you did we believe that you you have a huge issue with your quality, the provenance of your ingredients, the digestibility of the ingredients.

Marc Giusti 12:40
It’s it’s just not necessary from our point of view.

Carlton Reid 12:43
So how about expense wise? So have any of these facts that you’re using real ingredients rather than the maltodextrins of this world, does that make your product more expensive?

Marc Giusti 12:54
Well, it certainly makes it more expensive to produce. It’s much more complicated for us, you know, we don’t just go and buy, you know, n litres of gunk and stick it in the steel vats and you know, job done. The the the issue for us is absolutely that we want to know where the food is coming from. We know to some level even understand who the growers are, I know we have an absolute

Marc Giusti 13:18
focus on the provenance, the quality, the taste, the efficacy, the digestibility. And the experience, we will talk about three different things natural, powerful and delicious. And unless those three things are true, we won’t make the product.

Marc Giusti 13:34
But yes, that makes it harder for us to source it makes it harder for us to to ensure that we have the same. So for example, a batch one batch of dates might be more squidgy and moist than another batch of data. So all sorts of sourcing issues become a problem for us that we need to manage. And we do very well.

Marc Giusti 13:53
It doesn’t necessarily translate to more expensive on the shelf. But yes, there are absolutely some products that you could buy materially less. You know, there are some very well known brands who do 60% off sales pretty much all day every day. And and and that’s fine. But that’s not really where we’re not coming from that place.

Lara Giusti 14:14
It’s reflective on the cost of their raw ingredients so we don’t stint on quality on anything. The peels that we’re using our bars come from Sicily, they are candied in the most traditional way we want to stick to the heritage of our of our roots really, and we don’t want to compromise on quality and that means that we do put more cost base into the manufacturing side of it.

Carlton Reid 14:40
And where are they manufactured now?

Marc Giusti 14:42
So all over we did the very beginning was the kitchen quite literally and we turned our house.

Marc Giusti 14:49
It was a case of I think we had the cleaner and all of her friends turning up into little white hats and blue nets and so when they were doing the cutting in the mixing and the wrapping

Marc Giusti 15:00
And we had Laura and I making in the kitchen and it was, you know, quite a homemade affair. We then moved that to our own facility. We’re very modest facility in North London. And then since then as we’ve started to scale a business where we now have, you know, I guess you might call grown-up facilities with all the sort of BCR ratings and you know, Informed Sports qualifications and everything else that you need these days to have a really compelling nutrition product, and it’s all in the UK.

Carlton Reid 15:33
So I’m going to ask you about that so so an athlete can have faith in your product because

Carlton Reid 15:41
the certain product that might be in other companies products definitely won’t be there. So that’s all accredited?

Marc Giusti 15:47
Yeah, so the the main thing with the whole banned substances thing is that you know, where something is made, particularly for using facilities that have all sorts of other people’s products in them to you know, set some ingredients can cross pollinate if you like, or somehow infiltrate and, and also some people will want to add these products in or these ingredients to their products. So, Informed Sport came about some number of years ago now to try to give athletes that confidence that the foods that this particular product or brand or this particular product, have got us a rubber stamp accredited, you know, it’s safe to eat this banned substance assured also no banned substance or short

Marc Giusti 16:33
label and also we have, whether it be celiac or whether it be vegan, whether it be brcc throw BRC a ratings and that’s about so quality and cleanliness and

Marc Giusti 16:47
a whole load of traceability, traceability of food markers that the food industry have put in place for self regulation as well as for for more legislative record regulation.

Carlton Reid 17:00
And so cos you’re producing with for want of a better expression, real food, that’s what attracted people like Ashley Palmer-watts and Justin Clarke of LeBlanq to your brand, how did you meet them?

Marc Giusti 17:14
So that came about because of, and we’re very fortunate in that, because our food is very high quality. And we I’d argue we’re really the only all natural brand you can buy from in terms of the range of, you know, before, during, and after your exercise your sport, be elite or pro. Because we have such a high, highly regarded quality products, we get to meet and get introduced to quite a lot of very

Marc Giusti 17:45
serious sports people, everyone from Formula One racing drivers to tennis players to, you know, cyclists, runners and all sorts of people. And part of the,

Marc Giusti 17:55
I guess, introductions we get are people who are doing interesting things, you know, creates introductions with interesting people. And

Marc Giusti 18:02
I think when you’re probably somebody like Ashley, and when you’re at the highest end of your, I guess the food industry and you see a brand, changing the way that that the bits industry, in our case, sports nutrition, operates and starts to provide products to a quality level that you would normally expect from in a professional kitchen or in the restaurant quality foods, you know, with the only nutrition brands with one, I think more than 10 or 12 goal, Great Taste awards now.

Marc Giusti 18:31
And so we managed to, I guess reach a level of

Marc Giusti 18:35
recognition in that space that that piece, some of those chefs interests and we’re getting those introductions all the time.

Marc Giusti 18:42
And through our retailer and our eventing over networks, you know that these,

Marc Giusti 18:49
in this case, LeBlanq cycling events, they came to know this they saw our story they recognise it was very much in tune with what they were trying to do and and Lara is I guess you like the solution to the on bike part of the LeBlanq story. And if the if Ashley is looking after the off bike piece, how do they assure the same gastronomic qualities on the bike and that’s where Lara and her food comes in.

Carlton Reid 19:13
Mmm. And you mentioned there about retailing. So how how do people get hold of your product?

Marc Giusti 19:20
Well, mostly it’s direct to the website. So predominantly, we are a DTC brand as it’s called and people come to the website they order and you know we deliver.

Marc Giusti 19:30
Otherwise, we’ve got a whole bunch of

Marc Giusti 19:33
independent retail and large retail outlets, you know, sports shops, gyms,

Marc Giusti 19:39
health clubs in all sorts of different shapes and sizes of those all around the country as well as internationally. And there are you know, we’re growing it although it’s very modest still we are growing our footprint into Europe and into other sort of international regions. So it we are not hard to get hold of

Marc Giusti 20:00
It’s hard these days is things like Brexit, and also getting it to be delivered on time when you don’t own the logistics, you know, but but we’re easy to get hold on, it’s not a problem.

Carlton Reid 20:10
Hmm. So yeah, I was I was expecting mainly website, because that’s where everybody gets their stuff from now.

Marc Giusti 20:18
It is i think i think one really important thing, though, is that we’re not we’re not trying to be exclusively, sort of the website, only the, we believe that every channel be it Amazon or be it our website or be it your local bike shop or be it,you know, the gym, you go to, you know, in any number of places that we should be readily available, we should be accessible to you there in the best way that we can be. And that’s very much our plan.

Marc Giusti 20:44
The convenience side of it and the affordability side of it comes in because often when you when you buy sort of onesie twosie items from a bike shop on a Saturday morning before you ride out, for example. And that isn’t really a very effective way for you to manage your nutrition requirements you might have for your, you know, the weeks ahead. So inevitably, people come to the website, they buy boxes of their mixed bars, or their, you know, gels and powders or whatever it might be that they’re looking for. And it’s a much more efficient and effective way for them to manage their nutrition. And we have a subscription programme where you can do that. So you can come and say, I’m training for the marathon, or I’m training for a sportif, or, I don’t know, I’m a professional tennis player, and I’m training every week, whatever the scenario is, and we can build a subscription model around that for you to say, Well, this is the kind of product that you need on these weeks. And this is a sort of cadence new engineer delivered in and we tried to put that together for you.

Carlton Reid 21:43
Do you ever regret calling it Veloforte, which then, you know, solidifies it into cycling when it could have been like something like Sportforte, or just more general?

Marc Giusti 21:54
It’s a conversation that I’ve had with myself many times. No, is the short answer.

Marc Giusti 22:00
The. To me,a brand strategy is very much about

Marc Giusti 22:05
giving brands meaning, right, they can be called whatever you want to be; Google when it first came out was you know what, what does it even mean? Nobody understands it, if it has a, it needs to be given meaning. And what we find is that the provenance of where we started, which was very much in cycling very much to help in a very high endurance and high consumption needs to have this sort of food and to have the quality of the foods.

Marc Giusti 22:31
And that that is sort of set behind you know how we can also feel your marathon or your outdoor swimming or your

Marc Giusti 22:39
tennis playing or whatever it might be that you do

Marc Giusti 22:42
is just a straight line from there, there. There is really isn’t a downside. And an often I see when you talk to cyclists, of course, they they appreciate the name velo being in, in the brand. When you speak to non cyclists, they often don’t actually recognise it or think of it as some sort of exclusive cycling word.

Lara Giusti 23:05
Velo be seen as velocity. So you’ve got velo strength, so velocity, speed and strength.

Lara Giusti 23:09
So it’s really, you know.

Marc Giusti 23:11
So I think it’s a it’s a, it’s a fair question. But I I don’t think it’s something that’s going to limit the business at all. And I think it’s a story that we want to tell you know, that’s where we started.

Carlton Reid 23:23
And Peloton is kind of proving at the moment that you can have a very, very cycling word, and it doesn’t really matter, because you can sell running, even though you’re a cycling brond originally.

Marc Giusti 23:35
And people’s active lives now, like cycling is not only one of the largest consumers of our kinds of products as a as a category, but it’s also now becoming ever more part of certainly UK at least and it’s true, of course, in Europe and all around the world, but it’s becoming evermore a part of people’s active lives. And so you’re seeing brands and names and terminology, you know, bleed across different sports. I think it’s a it’s one of the sports that enormously impressive feats of, you know, human endurance come from those sports. So I think it can only be a good thing we would, we would only be looking for those provenance points if we had called it something else. So it seems to come more naturally from the name.

Carlton Reid 24:22
You mentioned pro sport then what what sprang to mind was pro cyclists, clearly and obviously, are very often

Carlton Reid 24:32
anchored to particular brands of energy food and everything else, of course, but for instance, like the Gabba jersey, you often get pros will use

Carlton Reid 24:44
a Gabba jersey, but they’ll take off the Castelli stuff. And and do you know I don’t want you to spill the beans in it. But do you know of any pros that are like they’re sponsored by one brand, but they don’t taste? They don’t like that crap. They want your

Carlton Reid 25:00

Marc Giusti 25:00
I’d say in the low hundreds would be my actual answer to that are of pro cyclists who like our food very much and need to put it in a different bottle.

Carlton Reid 25:13
A different packet? Yes, yes. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 25:18
Yes. So you, you are the gabbeh of the well,

Marc Giusti 25:21
I would like I would very much love for us to be the Gabba I’m absolutely sure I would be I’m not sure they quite the Gabba yet. But yes, we’ve seen that at the time. And I think it’s also the case that people need to have confidence in their digestion, right. So there’s, it’s not just that our food is delicious, or, or just that it has some natural ingredients, there’s a, it plays a very important role in the on on and off bike, or whatever sport you’re in,

Marc Giusti 25:50
kind of regime. So it’s very much more about health and wellness, rather than just simply performance, you know, there and then at the end of the moment, so, where how people eat, you know, what they choose to have on a Monday morning versus, you know, a training session versus a recovery session?

Marc Giusti 26:08
Are all it’s all part of the same discussion. And so it seems it would seem odd to say to somebody, you know, only eat natural foods, you know, at certain times and eat a lot of synthetic foods and other time that just seems

Marc Giusti 26:22
particularly also as it’s very commonly the case that synthetic ingredients, cause so many sort of gastro issues for people in one of the most common stories is people saying my county jails is never tell me go funny or, and many other worse stories than that.

Marc Giusti 26:38
And, and our ingredients have completely eliminated that we have none of that. None at all.

Marc Giusti 26:45
It’s it’s simply because our bodies know how to digest those sorts of ingredients and sugars and the ratios that we put them together in.

Carlton Reid 26:54
because of the long provenance compared to the short providence of maltodextrin. etc.

Marc Giusti 26:59
Yes, exactly.

Lara Giusti 27:01
It’s not just the maltodextrin. It’s all the artificial sweeteners that go into so many products, it’s been proven now to completely wreck your gut biome. So we stay clear of anything like that. And we only use natural ingredients throughout. So we know that we’re going to keep your, your you know, your internal bacterias on track and keep your gut happy. And that motivates you to go further. If you’re not having to worry about cramping and needing the toilet, you’re going to concentrate on running faster, longer, riding harder. And that’s what you’re wanting to do want to enjoy your fueling, so you can enjoy your sport.

Marc Giusti 27:37
Yeah, and we see a lot of that a lot of people say, I don’t like them, so I don’t use them say a gel, say or powdery chalky bars that they’ve, you know, perhaps bought from elsewhere. And what that means is that they don’t feel when they should do it sort of try to work around, and lo and behold, they start to bonk, and then all of a sudden, they’ve now got to recover from that rather than, you know, maintain their

Marc Giusti 28:02
I guess their performance. As I was saying there’s a there’s a balance to be had. And, you know, before, during and after. And our food allows people can because normally when people are making food for themselves, they they’re looking for the highest quality, natural, you know, clean, good stuff to eat out there.

Marc Giusti 28:19
And so why would you then go buy a bag of synthetic gloop and chuck that in your tummy just because you happen to be on the bike. You know, it just seems a strange thing.

Lara Giusti 28:26
When you’re pushing the body the hardest, why would you put the rubbish in then?

Carlton Reid 28:31
Yeah. Yes. Laura, you mentioned that the microbiome there. And I’m kind of familiar that because I’ve got a medic daughter and I’ve got a doctor wife. So let’s let’s let’s talk medical stuff for a second now because that that intrigued me right at the beginning there when when your medical background was mentioned, so so tell us a bit about that.

Lara Giusti 28:52
So I trained many moons ago as a physiotherapist and specialised as a cardio respiratory physiotherapist. And that meant that I was working on intensive care units with people with long term lung disease, but also working with people who have cardiac operations and, and getting rehabbing them back into health, which included working with a fantastic team of nutritionists of occupational therapists of sports therapists. And that really enticed me into looking more into nutrition than I’d ever really done before. And so I did a Master’s in that and decided to focus my attention more on the nutrition side, and as Marc said, I

Lara Giusti 29:42
love my baking as well. It’s sort of a stethoscope in one hand and a wooden spoon in the other

Lara Giusti 29:49
end so I managed to put both of my talents and my passions into one place by developing this sports nutrition range, which really does

Lara Giusti 30:00
allow you to feel the way that your body wants to feel.

Carlton Reid 30:05
Hmm. So so let’s talk through your products. Now you’ve got a, you’ve got a bar

Carlton Reid 30:10
line, you have a gel line, and then you’ve got like a post exercise energy shake line, what else are we missing here? What are you.

Carlton Reid 30:19
So Lara wil take you through the, how each of them, I suppose do the job that they were but as a sort of range of bars, a range of chews, a range of natural gels, a range of hydration, which is sort of electrolyte powders, and a sort of performance protein recovery shakes range.

Lara Giusti 30:40
Really, the challenge was how to create a range that we say it’s from trainers on, to trainers off, or cleats on to cleats off. How are we going to make sure that you’ve got what you need, when you need it in a portable fashion, that means you’re never going to go hungry, and you’re never going to bonk or hit the wall. Because you’ve always got Veloforte in your back pocket or in your running pack.

Lara Giusti 31:05
So yes, we started with bars, and started just with three bars and then extended the range, we’ve now got eight in total, including to recovery focus bars, which can contain complete protein. And we try and use the most easily digestible protein. So in our thoughts of protein bar, we use egg whites, which is quite unusual for recovery and protein bars on the market. Right now we use egg whites because your body is the highest digestibility store is really fantastic form of protein without all the additional facts associated with it. And we use nuts in all of our our bars, which give a baseline of line of protein alongside the natural carbohydrates from the dried fruits and the syrups. That means that your energy sustained, so you get a nice boost from the sugars in the syrup in the bars, you get a prolonged energy release from the fructose from the fruits and from the proteins from the nuts. So you don’t just get this boom and crash which is so common with the maltodextrin based products, which is just one type of carbohydrate. We try to span it across forms of carbohydrates and also include low level proteins in the majority of the bars as well to keep you on an even keel.

Lara Giusti 32:24
So they’re the bars.

Carlton Reid 32:26
Sorry, sorry, before before you go on, you mentioned egg whites, so then that just immediately went all vegan? So do you have a vegan option as well?

Lara Giusti 32:35
Absolutely. So we have a vegan recovery bar as well called our Mocha bar, which is totally delicious, as well as obviously on point for nutrition that’s made from a blend of pea and brown rice proteins. And you need both of those to complete a complete a complete amino acid profile. And it’s important to have that complete profile because when you’re trying to rebuild your muscles, you need all of those nine essential amino acids that your body can’t produce itself. And so we use a mix of hazelnuts and those two plant based proteins to give you that extra protein boost in the recovery bar from Mocha.

Carlton Reid 33:11
Okay, so sorry, I think you’re about to go into gels.

Lara Giusti 33:13
So yes, gels.

Lara Giusti 33:16
Again, steering clear of the synthetic sugars, we use plant based syrup. So we use a mix of data at Maple syrup and brown rice syrup. And they’re flavoured with real fruit juices and with spices and so they’re really a lovely texture. They’re like a maple syrup textures. They’re not thick and gloopy. And they’re not super runny. They’re quite small in size. So instead of carrying a 16 ml hydro gel that is commonly available, our jails have just 33 mls. And so you get the same carbohydrate load from a smaller packet that you do from one of these larger synthetic packet. So they’re easy to carry, they’re easy to swallow, you’re not faced with this huge mouthful of gel. And they taste fantastic because they’re flavoured with natural ingredients.

Lara Giusti 34:05
And then

Lara Giusti 34:07
hydration mixes and quite difficult to come up with a hydration mix that is chemical free. What you’ll find in lots of hydration is that they’re a little tablet form so they’re heavily compressed. And they’ll use chemical compounds, magnesium sulphate and sodium chloride and sodium sulphates in them to up your electrolyte balance. Obviously they’re they’re lab based made ingredients, not natural occurring ingredients and finding agents and binding agents and then you need effervescent to make it fit in your water so it dissolves and all of those things are together. Really, what are my experience of them give you a sore tongue after a day in the saddle because the effervescence sort of eats at the side of your tongue and they’re overly sweet and overly flavour too.

Lara Giusti 34:59
With what are termed as natural flavourings, but really what that means is that say if something’s like a blueberry flavoured hydration tablet, they might have never seen a blueberry in its life. But there are natural occurring ingredients that when they put together will create a blueberry type flavour. So what we don’t, we don’t use any of those at all our hydration mixes are based from freeze dried coconut water, which gives you natural potassium, Pink Himalayan salt for really clean sources sodium, and then they’re flavoured with freeze dried fruit powders, and with herbs and botanicals. And so we use the freeze dried fruit powders, they’re picked at their prime, they’re rapidly frozen to trap in all the nutrients and then their ground. And then what happens when you add them to water is that they just reconstitute and you get the wonderful flavours and the colours and the textures of the fruit as well. And so altogether, it’s an extremely natural way to rehydrate and to add electrolytes into your nutrition plan.

Lara Giusti 36:07
So that’s the hydration, and then the chews.

Lara Giusti 36:12
looking at the marketplace, what I tend to do when I’m looking to create a product for Veloforte it needs to hit a function, it needs to taste amazing, it needs to have the right nutritional profile and it needs to challenge what’s already there on the market. So if you look at choose currently, you either get jelly beans, or you get wine gum type cheews, and both of those are very sticky in texture, they stick to your teeth, that’s not good for your dentine. And so what I went about to do was to create a very soft, textured chew that would just almost melt in your mouth rather than stick in your teeth. And so our Veloforte chews

Lara Giusti 36:52
are lovely and soft. Again, they’re made from natural sugars, beet sugar, they’re made from fruit juices and spices and there’s nothing artificial in there. They sit really nice in your tummy. And they pack a really good energy punch as well. So a pack of chews will give you 42 grammes of carbohydrates. And we have natural electrolytes in there, again, from Pink Himalayan salt. So they’re going to keep your energy sustained, and your electrolytes on balance. And they’re really easy to take, easy to carry, and then won’t pull your fillings out as well.

Marc Giusti 37:25
All of these as thinking not just in isolation too. So you know, our belief is that whether you want solids or you want liquids, or you want to choose or you want, you know, protein shakes will come into it in a second,

Marc Giusti 37:37
you should be able to have all of those and furthermore, to be able to sort of coexist.

Marc Giusti 37:43
I guess sort of happening not only from your palate and tummy point of view, but also as a performance perspective, from your electrolytes to your sugars to your proteins and some

Marc Giusti 37:54
And then the shakes.

Lara Giusti 37:55
And then the shakes are our latest release. Super proud of those. Again, lots of bad press about recovery shakes and protein shakes about the texture. They’re often sort of gritty, sandy textures, they often give really bad gastric side effects of bloating and wind. And so I went to create two different recipes one for our plant based customers. So our Nova recovery protein shake is made of a blend of pea powder, brown rice and pumpkin to give a complete amino acid profile. And that’s flavoured with cocoa and freeze dried banana and has all your electrolytes in there that you need to recover. And also we’ve added some adaptogens to our recovery shakes, we’ve got Macca in our plant base shake and we’ve got a ginseng in our low lactose whey based supershape which is flavoured with super berries in antioxidant rich and I chose to use adaptogens because they’re well known to help to combat the stress that your body goes through when you exercise vigorously. And what you need to do is to try and calm everything down and to rebalance yourself after your heavy sessions. And so the Macca and they didn’t seem go hand in hand with the proteins and the natural carbs to really give you effective recovery.

Carlton Reid 39:16
Some well known energy bars you can be really really very very hungry to eat them in an emergency.

Carlton Reid 39:25
Which I have done in the past when I’ve been incredibly hungry at a hotel late at night or something I will dig into my bag and find the energy bar that I’ve stashed that 10 years previously but Justin from LeBlanq was saying you having to fight people off from eating your product as almost as a snack as as a genuine food. So do you deter people from this, do you recommend that he This is a food is this is this like you don’t have to be going out for a three hour ride to eat your product you can eat you can eat this is just a this is a yummy bar.

Lara Giusti 39:59
You could eat absolutely as a yummy bar and if they’re brilliant breakfast replacements, if you haven’t got time for lunch, you know you’re eating on the run. And they are high carbohydrate products and they’re designed to fuel you to energise you. And so I wouldn’t say you know, sitting on the sofa and eating three in a row is what we generally recommend, but we have customers who chop them up and serve them at dinner parties

Marc Giusti 40:24
Yeah, we do

Lara Giusti 40:26
you know, they are they are wonderfully delicious as well as nutritious and and and very versatile.

Marc Giusti 40:32
There’s nothing about them from a performance point of view, if you’d like from a sort of fats and sugars point of view if you like that, the next and bad news to have at any time we just naturally if you’re that we’re building arrange around active lifestyle, so if anybody’s eating, you know, snack food and staying sedentary, then that’s not quite the right way to be using our products. But yeah, absolutely, it’s the case that we mean all of us in our own way, and nibbling on these things, thankfully, we get we get good access to them all the time. And funny enough, there’s a bit of a story that when when we were making them at home,

Marc Giusti 41:08
because it would be we’re baking them in essentially within trays and we would have to take them out and cut them and you cut the sort of the edges off so that you get a nice clean shape that you can then cut the bars from rather than having the wobbly edges.

Marc Giusti 41:22
And so those cuttings so the off cuts became like a currency between friends and family and people would literally come around and say can we have some of those off cut things and we would have bags and bags and bags and bags of these things don’t really know. So we would just give them away.

Marc Giusti 41:39
And you know, that was just proved to us that these were truly delicious. And so yes, they they span and that’s part of that point about the diet and and that’s pretty much what the Veloforte brand wants to do for our customers is to say you know, no matter what you’re where you are in kind of the day or in terms of your lifestyle, we want you to be able to open the cupboard and see that you know when you want to go out for a run or when you want to go out for a ride or when you want to sit at home and relax or when you want to recover or when you want to give some for the kids or whatever the perspective might be that that we’re able to give you the confidence that this is you know so much better choice than conventionally we’ve been able to find you know in the shops.

Carlton Reid 42:21
Mmm. Now I’m sure we have people listened to this where they will also have problems with rumbling tummies no doubt and we have whetted their appetite for for what you’ve been talking about. So how can people

Carlton Reid 42:37
because you haven’t you have a taster box is that how you get people is there’s like

Marc Giusti 42:42
There’s a bunch of things I guess we try to say too, because a number of our customers they already know what you know bars and gels and drinks and and protein shakes are and so they understand the context of it and so of course they can choose whichever ones they want. For other customers who are you know, just getting started or they’re not really sure which ones they like, but a bunch of different packs, we have a starter pack which is a if you like it kind of best off, you know, here’s a couple of interesting that will give you a chance to you know try essentially the range without having a whole range in there. And then on the other hand, we’ve got something called a complete pack which is a one of everything of the entire range and and almost everywhere in between and as I was saying before you can go to any of the product pages you can say okay, I have one of those or three of those or 10 of these or a mixture like that and compile yourself off a little box.

Carlton Reid 43:32
Marc, how much are those packs? How much of those two different packs?

Marc Giusti 43:35
So the, gosh off the on my head?

Lara Giusti 43:40

Marc Giusti 43:42
And the complete pack I think it’s £35, £38 pounds … I need to double check it

Lara Giusti 43:53
But they are they offer good savings as opposed to buying individual products. One of our best selling packs is our family box bar which is 50 bars and you think goodness me 50 bars, that’s a lot of bars. But it’s a good mix of all the flavours and that offers a 25% saving over the cost of buying them individually. So we do for our customers who want to order large there are there are perks to that too.

Carlton Reid 44:22
Sorry, Lara sorry, what are the flavours of the bars?

Lara Giusti 44:26
Of the bars? so we have the first three flavours Classico is based on a panforte Margarita recipe which is Marc’s nonna’s recipe which is where it all began. So it’s a citrus fruits, almonds and honey. And then we have a De Bosco which is red berries pistachios and almonds and Choco which is dates and cocoa and almonds. And then we have a ZenZera which is stem ginger and pistachios that’s delicious really good for your digestion. We have a Venti which has sea salt in it so great fuel

Lara Giusti 44:59
electrolyte replacement as well. It’s like pecan pie meets salted caramel, it’s totally delicious. We have Forza which is a one of our protein recovery bars which is made from apricots, almonds and fennel. And fennel gives a nice sort aniseed kick or try to do with all the recipes is use spices to accent the fruits. Because what I want to do is to stimulate your tastebuds stimulate your saliva and your digestion so the minute you put it in your mouth, because then your body’s getting ready to digest something. It’s not a synthetic flavours. It’s not not something your body’s going ‘ugh, this is horrid.’ Some of you actually want to be in so that’s the first stage of your digestion. So we use spices in all of our bars. You’ve got the Mocha bar, which is your coffee and chocolate and your protein and he’s on that so that’s like a Juan absolutely delicious. And then we have our Pronto bar which has a little bit of caffeine in it as well for if you need an early morning pick up and that’s figs, pistachios and lemons. So there’s plenty of flavour choice to be had something for everybody in there. And also if you’re out in the long run, if you’re doing an ultramarathon, or if you’re doing a long sportif, then you’ve got a full range of flavours to keep you motivated because being motivated by your fuel actually helps you to eat and helps you to go further. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 46:18
All sounds absolutely gorgeous, and definitely having problems with tummy rumbling. So Mark, I stopped you and I think you’re just gonna get me the price head you’ve gone into your website to get it.

Marc Giusti 46:26
Yes, the complete pack is £38.99, the starter pack is £18.79 and you can get some smaller packs for example, the chews are £6.99

Marc Giusti 46:38
and the gels £7.50 the drinks £5.25 so this price range is all over the place and and you can if you subscribe as well, you get an all sorts of benefits of we have a rewards programme. We’ve got discounts on the subscriptions as a bunch of other ways that we try to help people if they’re doing training programmes and so on. So there’s it’s much more flexible than just simply the list price. If you take a moment to have a look at the site, it’ll explain.

Carlton Reid 47:05
Brilliant, thank you and how do people get into would tell me your website. Tell me your social media. Tell me tell me all your contact points.

Marc Giusti 47:13
So is the website v e l o f o r t e dotcom. The same is so just @veloforte for Insta and Twitter, and Facebook.

Carlton Reid 47:27
Thanks to Marc and Lara Giusti. There, and there’s a photo of them on the show’s website at Our next episode features American academic Peter Norton talking about his soon to be published, future-facing book Autonorama but meanwhile, get out there and ride …

September 5, 2021 / / Blog

5th September 2021

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 281: “If you look at the tree, you hit the tree”: eMTBing Guiding Masterclass With H+I’s Chris Gibbs


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Chris Gibbs and Jude Reid

TOPICS: Carlton’s wife Jude rides to work on an electric bike but hasn’t ridden off road for more than 20 years. Cue this three-day eMTB press trip in Cairngorms courtesy of Shimano. H+I‘s head guide Chris Gibbs reintroduces Jude to genuine mountain biking while talking about the passing scenery and Shimano’s EP8 leg-boosting e-bike platform.


Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to Episode 281 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show is engineered on Sunday 5th of September 2021.

David Bernstein 0:25
The Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, Jenson USA where you will find a great selection of products at unbeatable prices with unparalleled customer service. Check them out at Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast. And of course, I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast … since 2006! For shownotes links and other information check out our website at And now here’s my fellow host and producer Carlton Reid and the Spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:10
Bike fitter and author Phil Cavell recommended paddle boarding as a complementary activity for cyclists a couple of episodes ago. On Friday we took him up on that suggestion, booking a two-hour private tour with a guide. The “we” was me, Carlton Reid, and my hospital doctor wife, Jude. The paddle boarding was great but the guiding left a lot to be desired. There were no safety briefings beforehand or during, precious little instruction, and almost no communication while we were out on the water. To all intents and purposes we were left to our own devices and, if on the beach I hadn’t asked a few key questions, we would have been ignorant of some key techniques. As beginners, we were expecting more. Or maybe we were just spoiled, because we had just come back from a glorious three day mountain biking trip in the Cairngorms; glorious partly because of the Scottish Highlands scenery but also because of some expert hand-holding and gentle encouragement from Chris Gibbs, head guide of Inverness-headquartered international mountain bike holidays company H+I. Chris Gibbs was originally a soundtrack writer and composer — some years ago he went to Japan in search of adventure but instead fell in love with the outdoors becoming a mountain bike guide. For H+I he has led mountain bike tours all over the world during the last decade, He is most at home — literally — in Scotland. Thanks to Shimano, we were lucky enough to have Chris to ourselves, and he made guiding look effortless — as well as being super warm and friendly he was clearly on top of his game; he has several mountain guiding and first aid qualifications and is a bike fettling tutor for Velotech. During lockdown he topped up his technical knowledge, diving deep into Shimano’s dense tech sheets including genning up on the EP8 electric bike platform. Normally a Yeti acoustic bike rider, he joined us on EP8-equipped Merida 160 electric mountain bikes. Our 2 and a half day trip started at Inverness railway station with Chris meeting us with a van …

Chris Gibbs 3:44
Hey, how’s it going? Good to see you again. Hi, I’m Chris. Nice to meet you. Let me grab your luggage, the vans parked just round the coner.

Carlton Reid 3:56
It’s great that we’re getting you to ourselves.

Chris Gibbs 3:59
Well, you say that now? We’ve got a pretty reasonable forecast for the next few days.

Carlton Reid 4:05
And where are we riding? Are we getting picked from the hotel and then going out?

Chris Gibbs 4:09
So we’re basically our own little unit this week. So today, we’ll get up to the office, have something to eat for you guys. And we’ll sort of do an introduction to the bikes, get everything set up and basically faff around for getting everything sorted. And then this afternoon, we’ll go for a little local ride. We’ve got some good trails just out the back of the office and some little secret spots and things that we can just have a play and get used to them. Then tomorrow, I’m going to pick you up and we’ll go down to the Cairngorms and we’ll head down to the Cairngorms there for sort of a day of two halves lots of kind of playing around with the motor and trails that lend themselves to that and then we’ll and then we’ll head out for a bit of a wilder adventure.

Carlton Reid 4:52
And how wild and gnarly is that for somebody who might not be completely 100% — I’m being diplomatic here …

Chris Gibbs 5:04
It can be, it can be as wild and gnarly as you’d like it to be. And it can be as chilled out as you’d like it to be, you know, it’s just us. So we can tailor it to you guys. And if you want to push the envelope, we can certainly find spots. And if you say, ‘Chris, I’d really like to do this really nice sedate ride, and then have a really good coffee,’ we can also do that as well. And we can factor in skills in as well, if you like. That’s totally fine.

Chris Gibbs 5:32
You know what there I actually one of the things I like about ebikes actually, that sort of, I guess the moment that it clicked for me, was I started down powering everything. And there’d be climbs that I would physically never make on a regular bike. And like super technical or super steep or whatever it was things that I wouldn’t be able to achieve. And then down powered e-bike gave me just enough that I was still working physically really, really hard, but suddenly, I was able to make things that I wouldn’t have done.

Carlton Reid 6:03
A little bit extra oomph.

Chris Gibbs 6:04
Yeah, just yeah, exactly that and you’re still using quite a lot of technical skill. And you’re still, you know, your heart rate is still way up there. And that’s when I sort of, I guess had a light bulb went off. This is this is actually really good fun. I think just now on mountain bikes, but all bikes are just this amazing tool for adventure. And you know, it just gets you to places that you wouldn’t see on foot, and you wouldn’t be able to do in a day. Otherwise, obviously, I’m very mountain bike focused. And the kind of views in the places you can get to behind a mountain bike are second to none. And like you say, you can’t, no one ever comes back from a mountain bike ride and feels worse, you only ever feel better. But this is us arriving.

Chris Gibbs 6:54
Cool. Perfect. Let’s just set up some bikes. So Carlton, yours first. At the moment, we’re just releasing some air from the fork. So for Jude is quite a lot lighter than the last person to ride this bike. So we’re just softening the suspension up — basically, in an air fork and shock, the air is acting as a spring. So we’re just getting that set to your weight. And then that way the bike is going to manoeuvre and move over the terrain as best as it can. And be most efficient and most comfortable for you – one more time, stand up as if you’re descending. Yeah, definitely. Brilliant. Let’s have a quick look at the bike. So you’re to turn the thing on it’s here. So with these models, we can remove the battery. So it will come out of here but we don’t need to right now. And you can or you can charge the battery within the bike, either one. Once you’ve pressed and held that for a couple of seconds, you get the display up here, the moment the motor is off, so there’s no assistance, press that arrow, you get one bar. That’s you in Eco mode. [Motorbike sounds]. So Eco doesn’t sound like that, so that’s not Eco, so one bar, and that’s your kind of minimum assistance, two bars that’s you in Trail and three bars, that’s you in Boost. So you’re going to get the maximum power kicking in as quickly as it can. So this is the Shimano EP-8 motor, so the most recent and newest motor from Shimano. So when they were putting this out, it’s a big, kind of big part of it was the fact that it was smaller, sleeker, which means that a bike can be a lot more nimble and a lot more sort of manoeuvrable and playful without all that weight and bulk of older motors in it. It was designed around still feeling like riding a regular bike. So that natural pedal feel. But I guess kind of the way, the way I often think about it is that it’s it’s like you you’re still using your legs, but it’s like you’ve been given really strong legs. And what I really like the fact that is so customizable, so you can power things right down. And if you’re kind of trying to get a training ride out of it. So you definitely can get your own heart rate up. And you can power that right down more or you can boost it right up. So you’ve got maximum power, it’s all working for you. And that’s kind of coming from the the software side of things that you are able to control from the app and from e-tube, and then e-ride can display for you as well. On top of that with this, this bike, it’s built into a 160 travel bike. So it’s a very capable mountain bike, it’s designed for mountain biking. It’s not just a sort of commute up and down canal path near you This is for going up up big mountains and then coming down them again. What I’d encourage you to do up here a little bit, is kind of shift the gears but play around with the cadence you spin. And just see how it reacts to different cadence and different pedalling.

Jude Reid 10:09
Alright, yeah, I think it got the spin up. What’s the left shifter for?

Chris Gibbs 10:17
What’s that? Sorry.

Jude Reid 10:18
The left shifter. Is that the front? No. There’s only one ring at the front.

Chris Gibbs 10:22
On your left is the dropper post remote. And also the display. So that’s to swap between modes.

Jude Reid 10:32
Okay, so

Chris Gibbs 10:35
Well, no, you don’t have a shifter that’s the dropper post?

Jude Reid 10:39
Oh, is it? Sorry.

Chris Gibbs 10:42
Yeah. That’s fine. So when you press that and put weight on the saddle, it will drop, yeah?

Chris Gibbs 10:53
So how does it compare to what you’re used to?

Jude Reid 10:57
Well, it’s nice to have gears.

Chris Gibbs 10:59
Yeah. Like we were saying earlier, it’s as customizable as you want it to be. So if all you want is Eco, Trail and Boost, fine. But as you kind of develop as a rider, and you start to want more from your bike, and to understand a little bit more as well, that’s when you can get into the depths of it. I think now it’s getting harder and harder to distinguish between them. Because like the EP-8 motor is small, small and discreet.

Carlton Reid 11:36
Small as in looking?

Chris Gibbs 11:37
Yeah, yeah, exactly. I mean, frames. Now, some of the most modern is quite hard to tell the difference. And the EP-8 was a much sort of sleeker designed motor than its predecessors. And you look at it and the bottom bracket area, you actually do need to look to notice, and, and we’ve got three bikes all together, so we are hearing them. But if you were to compare this to all the motors, also, you can have different brands, each one sounds a little bit different. And this is significantly quieter. And if you listen now, a bit more gravel, you’re hearing more trail than your motor. So this is all part of the Great Glen way. We’re gonna branch off this in a second. So it’s a tight left, just round the rootball just up here, if the gates closed. Yeah, it is. So following my line again, nice and wide round here.

Jude Reid 12:49
No, I’m not going wide.

Chris Gibbs 12:50
a little bit wider than that.

Jude Reid 12:53

Chris Gibbs 12:57
Do you wanna have a go at that, Jude?

Jude Reid 12:59
I’m not sure I’ll be able to do that.

Chris Gibbs 13:01
That’s OK. So like, you want to keep traction on the bike. So you don’t want to stand up pedal, you want to kind of spin into keeping a bit of weight on the saddle, and just spinning up. So where we are, this is kind of a big local riding spot. So going up to the very top end here, that takes us up to some pretty steep and gnarly trails like half of the Scottish World Cup downhill team practices in this spot. So you often see some pretty, pretty handy riders around. That around that side goes down to sort of a Great Glen Way. And this takes us down to face Inverness. So we could pop down in here, we’ll get a couple of views, some nice, easy descending, and then we can link back into the forest. And there’s a few little up downs and things we can play on and have a bit get a bit of a feel for the bikes as well without jumping into anything super committed up here.

Chris Gibbs 14:00
Okay, Jude. So we’re about to go down a slightly steeper it’s still fire road, but kind of rocky, like you can see. Yeah. So this is the time to make use of that dropper post, get the saddle right out the way Yeah, and just start descending nice and big and open. So like up here, like a big gorilla. So you’ve got loads of room for the bike to move underneath you. So the thing to get used to now you’ve got 160 mm of suspension, so you don’t need to turn around every rock. If you can keep loose in your arms and legs. the bike’s gonna soak it up for you. So just nice and down this line here on the left. Good job. Just here’s perfect. Well done.

Jude Reid 14:43

Chris Gibbs 14:44
No, don’t apologise.

Carlton Reid 14:47
Look back, it’s quite steep.

Chris Gibbs 14:49
Quite steep, quite rocky. The trick to all this stuff and the more and more familiar with the bike you get is looking for far ahead. So look where you want to be. Because if you look at If you look at the tree, you’re going to hit the tree. If you look past the tree, you’re going to sail right past it. I’m sure there’s a lesson for life in there. And just that nice is soft in your arms and your legs, like you’ve got this much suspension in the bike, but you got this much in your legs and arms. So like working with the bike, I almost think sometimes you can just look at everything and treat it like a pumptrack. Really. So with mountain biking, a lot of people look at a good rider and they go, their first response, or their first impression of it, if they don’t, if they don’t ride themselves. They’re like they’re so aggressive. But they’re not aggressive. They’re just really active. So they’re using their body to absorb the lumps and push down into the holes. So their body and their bike and moving loads underneath them. But their head is staying nice and still. And if your head is nice, and still, because everything else is moving, then that’s how you feel really in control. Yeah, when you look at good videos, you see like the bikes are going way out to the sides and over, up and down. But you can almost draw a line from where their their vision and their head stays. Same with good skiers and all sorts. Yeah, perfect. We’re going to continue down here, it’s going to bring us into a really beautiful bit of forest. And then we can pick and pick and work our way sort of back up and over. Yeah, nice one, just move out here. So we want a solid grip of the bar. And we only need that one finger for pulling on the brake. Can you just feel a little bit more control? Let’s take a minute to get used to but you’ll just feel a little bit more stable on the bars. Yeah, yeah.

Chris Gibbs 16:37
The point is to come and have some fun.

Jude Reid 16:39
Yeah. I like the uphill.

Chris Gibbs 16:42
You know it. I’m a big fan of climbing as well, actually.

Jude Reid 16:47
Uphills and wide downhills it’s very much the same.

Chris Gibbs 16:51
I see. So as someone that rode mountain bikes, and has ridden other bikes and hasn’t spent much time on an e mountain bike, how does it like, does it feel like riding a bike to you?

Jude Reid 17:05
And yeah, I mean, yeah, but there’s just that mountain bike feel, isn’t it? You still got a mountain bike feel whether it’s an e-bike or not an e-bike.

Carlton Reid 17:16
You don’t you don’t feel as though you’re riding a motorbike?

Jude Reid 17:18

Chris Gibbs 17:20
That’s and that’s, I think, what I think that one of the biggest strengths of the EP-8 is it does feel like mountain biking, you know, feel it doesn’t feel like you have a motor that’s doing all the work. It just feels like you are pedalling. And then you have as much or as little assistance as you want. I quite like it because sometimes you just feel like it still feels like your own legs just got really strong.

Chris Gibbs 17:48
Have you tried Boost mode yet?

Jude Reid 17:52
Is that number three?

Chris Gibbs 17:53
All three, yeah.

Jude Reid 17:54
Yeah, that’s what got me up that hill.

Chris Gibbs 17:56

Jude Reid 17:58
Fast spin and Boost mode.

Chris Gibbs 18:00

Jude Reid 18:02
Ooh, woah. Went into a tree!

Chris Gibbs 18:09
Did you look at the tree? Good job.

Jude Reid 18:18
Didn’t quite get the hang of that one right.

Chris Gibbs 18:21
Yeah. That’s the thing as well, you know, like, I think, again, with e-bikes, a lot of people go ‘oh, the motor takes away all need for skill.’ It doesn’t. There’s still timing, there’s still and you still do need a feel to ride them or need many, many skills to ride them well. And I think that it is good to come out and find that, actually, some technical sections are still hard.

Carlton Reid 18:48
Our induction afternoon over we were shuttled to our luxurious lodging, the historic Bunchrew house beside the Beauly Firth, a stone’s throw from H+I’s new-build HQ. Chris joined us for the silver service dining and we used those calories on the following day’s ride in the Rothiemurchus estate just outside Aviemore.

Chris Gibbs 19:15
Alrighty, so we’re down in the Cairngorms today, and riding just outside Aviemore at the moment. What we’re going to do for for this morning’s ride is we’re going to kind of pick up some of the really famous and amazing sights of this area, and really scenic trails, but we’re going to thread it and piece it together with all the little local bits of secret singletrack. There’s loads a little punchy ups, nice rolling bits and this area’s got loads of flowy forest trail in it. Later in the day, we’ll head out on much wilder, but this morning gives a great place to test out the engagement of the motor like how quick engages, you’ll definitely notice that kind of quietness of it as well it will give us a chance to play with some of the modes so we can head for some steep, techie terrain, feel how the different modes play out and each one so we’ll kind of find different places that we find more comfortable or less comfortable and how we ride it in different ways. So the trails will lend themselves to showcasing everything that we’ve got working with us today. And firstly, you want a lot of control as you’re going down and up and sort of undulating, so nice to start off in Eco mode. And then as you come around the turn, then maybe flick it into Trail and see how you feel kind of punching up through the roots.

Chris Gibbs 20:28
So technical move coming up

Jude Reid 20:39
Not in the right gear or the right mode, I don’t think for that bit.

Chris Gibbs 20:46
I put that in trail mode and it was nice. This is for here, we’re now on kind of this sort of flowy forest bit up and down, undulating is quite a good place to feel for that kind of pedal feel of the motor. So because you are kind of on and off the pedals and doing little pedal strokes, you get the kind of feeling of that natural pedal from the motor.

Chris Gibbs 21:10
Nice one. You can lead, just keep going down and stop when you get to the wee loch. Lot more confident today. So we’re just coming up to Loch an Eilein, and as we come around here, we’re gonna turn to the right. And there’s a complete labyrinth of routes. So it’s quite good little spot to play around, probably in Trail mode for now. And just see how many of the roots you can burst through. So Loch an Eilein translates as loch of the island. So we’re about to kind of dropped down just into here. And we’ll have a look at the island, which does have the ruins of the castle on it. So that was the Wolf of Badenoch’s castle. This is Badenoch and Strathspey. And if you ever seen Braveheart, the Wolf of Badenoch is the first guy that gets beheaded. Not the most factually accurate film in the world. Yeah, it’s good spot in the winter. Well, this last winter completely froze over. I mean thick is thick enough that people were walking out to it and all sorts, you can swim out inside is pretty overgrown. Now that the stories of this underwater causeway there’s one of these kind of footpath under the water three steps forward five steps to the right, three steps forward kind of a bit like Indiana Jones to get to the castle. Pretty cool spot and it doesn’t take long before you feel like you’re getting out there and not kind of away from from everyone else. Right. Perfect. We’ll continue around the loch. And then I think we’re going to go and pick up something a little bit more adventurous.

Jude Reid 22:57
Wrong gear. Nearly made it.

Chris Gibbs 23:03
Good job

Jude Reid 23:05
Just the wrong gear for that last section.

Chris Gibbs 23:07
Big difference from yesterday. Nice. So now I’ve put you in a much nicer stance for riding, let’s try and get you just a little bit looser as well. So in the next couple of turns, so the bikes always gonna go where you point your eyes. So let’s try and look around and through the turns a bit more. Instead of just turning with the bars, let’s try and lean the bike a little.

Jude Reid 23:27

Chris Gibbs 23:27
So an example, which is being here.

Chris Gibbs 23:32
Right, looking like a mountain biker now. And this is called the Rocky Road. So you kind of know what you’re getting here for. And it’s actually quite a nice little bit of trail because it goes between two different forest forest boundaries here in Rothiemurchus. side over to Inshriach, there’s one split in the trail. And you just need to stay to the left hand side. And you can lead this go up front, and try and have a play with looking far ahead and test anticipate the trail for what what mode you would be in, and also what gear you need. So try and let you know those little steep punch ups through the roots can be in the right mode and the right gear to give you the best chance of success for them. Because I think you’re quite you’ll have quite a lot of fun for this. There’s a nice wide, wide lines around all through the rocks that you’ll see as we go. And when we get to this little stream crossing. That’s where we’ll stop and meet up again. Yeah, if we’re spread out, go for it, have some fun.

Chris Gibbs 24:38
Just watching ahead.

Chris Gibbs 24:40
It’s quite impressive, being that Jude tried to avoid every single rock yesterday, but now she’s riding over the top of them or

Jude Reid 24:49
I’m trying to look ahead and the bike sort of just goes where it wants to go yeah

Chris Gibbs 25:01
Good job again, when we’re in, because you’re in quite a nice little rhythm there, riding well. That’s night and day from first thing yesterday.

Chris Gibbs 25:13
She’s going straight for it. I like it. Look at that. Nicely done.

Jude Reid 25:25
That was fun.

Chris Gibbs 25:25
Yeah, that’s a big difference from yesterday.

Jude Reid 25:32
How reliable is the battery sign?

Chris Gibbs 25:35
How reliable is what, sorry?

Jude Reid 25:37
The battery sign? Because according to this I’m not using the battery at all.

Chris Gibbs 25:41
Oh, yeah. No, that’s fine. I mean, if you’ve been on Eco and a little bit of Trail, yeah. And you’ve got a big 630 watt-hour battery in there. So you haven’t eaten into it yet. Me neither.

Jude Reid 25:57
That’s cool. I’m used to using half my battery on the on the way up to work.

Chris Gibbs 26:03
Ah, OK.

Chris Gibbs 26:03
Yeah, well, we’ve been riding quite efficiently as well. In the spin of things, if we started throwing into Boost and just boosting everything, then you’d find we kind of start to eat into that battery more. But because we’re riding efficiently, we can get quite a lot of mileage out of them.

Jude Reid 26:21
Yeah. And it’s not half the fun is actually getting the workout as well.

Chris Gibbs 26:25
Yeah, exactly. So as you go up here now, we’ve got a couple of little water splashes. There are little bridges at the side but after your last performance I think you need to take the water every time. After you, go for it. Have some fun.

Jude Reid 26:48
[SPLASH!] Oh, thank you! I’m sopping now.

Chris Gibbs 26:52
Ha, ha you just got tidal waved.

Jude Reid 26:55

Chris Gibbs 26:56
You’re gonna have to be faster next time to get him back. It looked quite impressive from behind.

Jude Reid 27:10
He wanted me to squeal, he did it on purpose. However, I brought some dry socks.

Carlton Reid 27:18
You have?

Jude Reid 27:19
I brought dry socks, you haven’t.

Chris Gibbs 27:24
It’s not a Scottish bike ride until you’ve got wet feet anyway. By the time you’ve been through a few streams, smashed your way through the pine trees for an exfoliation it’s practically a spa treatment.

Carlton Reid 27:40
Day three, and Jude now much more confident on the bike we headed into Glen Feshie.

Chris Gibbs 27:50
Right now we’re in the heart of Glen Feshie. So this is a slightly lesser known area of the Cairngorms. But further out from having more, a little bit wilder more rugged, and sort of big open Scottish glen.

Chris Gibbs 28:02
You brought us out here because we weren’t going to go here this morning, we were going to go overlooking Loch Ness. And then we’re driving out here. And you had this brainstorm and you thought, let’s look at the app, you can tell us about the the actual weather app, or you are using a selection of weather apps to then zoom in.

Carlton Reid 28:21
And then you thought, well, it’s going to be weather basically, exactly how we’ve got it. So tell us the apps you were using and and how you use those, you triangulate those three to get the weather for a very, very small place.

Chris Gibbs 28:35
Yeah, I think. I think firstly, it comes from being being local and knowing the weather a little bit. And when you’re a mountain bike guide in Scotland, you get pretty used to looking at weather forecasts and knowing and trying to keep everyone as much as you can in the dry, in the sun, and in all the best places. But I tend to use the mountain weather information service, which is MWIS. And I use an app called Windy, which is a weather radar. And you can put on lots of different parameters of kind of wind, rain pressure, and then I will say use combination of the Met Office and YR as well. So most mornings start with looking at a lot of weather. And over the course of the years I’ve been guiding I’ve become quite a weather geek. It’s almost like a fun challenge to try and keep yourself in this best spot at the best time. But also even it starts to affect how you time a ride. You know, you want to be in a certain place by a certain time to either avoid rain or or wait till it’s backed off and that sort of thing as well. So it’s a weather weather, I guess influences everything we do up here.

Carlton Reid 29:33
So keeping on the apps angle here. So we’re here on a Shimano trip, now Shimano has got two apps when you’re going to show me so we’re a beautiful forest in we’re actually technically we’re not in the sunshine right now. But Jude who fell into the river a wee bit before unfortunately, is is basking lizard-like in the sunshine

Chris Gibbs 29:53
She is drying out.

Chris Gibbs 29:54
She’s drying out. But you’re now going to show us the app. So we’re in the forest and you’re not going to shows the apps that, basically mesh with these machines.

Chris Gibbs 30:03
Yeah, and I guess the thing was with the, with the EP-8 and the full Shimano systems they’re 35 years in the making and the development all sorts of, and they play well, with all the systems on the bike, the drive trains, the motor, the brakes, everything kind of works well together, but particularly this app. So the first one we’re going to look at is E-tube. So e-tube is where it’s an app that lets you customise how the motor behaves. It also would let you look at your Di2 components and run diagnostics of the full system, whether that’s the display, whether it’s the motor, you know, all those individual components, the shifters and everything that goes along with either Di2 or with the E bike motor itself. But this is we were talking about where you can have two different profiles on this. And you might have one set up for max power, for instance, where you’re going out with all your mates, and you want to go as fast as possible up and down everything. Or you might set one massively powered down. And that’s for you to kind of work as a training ride or training profile, or anything in between. So as much as you can imagine, so you’ve got that Eco, Trail and Boost in each profile, but you can customise each one and how it feels.

Carlton Reid 31:15
And how geeky do you have to be to get into the gubbins of that?

Chris Gibbs 31:19
I think actually, it’s super simple, it’s really intuitive. If you can work a stereo, you can work this,

Carlton Reid 31:24
Oh, that’s me out!

Chris Gibbs 31:24
Because I think, you know, this one, it’s got really easy sliding bars, you know, you look at it, you slide across, and you go, ‘Okay, I’m in Eco mode at the moment and I’m going to slide that up so that the power comes in as quickly as possible, or the Eco is as powerful as it can be, I’m using that full 85 newton metres, or potentially you want it to come in later and be a lot slower in how it how the power ramps up. And you can do that across every one of the settings in Eco, Trail and Boost. So you can really kind of customise the feel of the bike. And some people like that I particularly like it quite powered down, so that I’m still working physically really hard. But I’m able to make things that I wouldn’t do if I was on an acoustic bike or regular bike.

Carlton Reid 32:11
And then if you’re on a mid ride, and for instance, the weather came out you were using the apps and yeah, it was totally opposite of what the app told is like, suddenly got sunshine, actually, we’ll go out for a longer ride. So would you just use on the handlebars? Or would you would you actually go to the the app and thinnk I will actually I’ll I’ll, I’ll change the profile on the app?

Chris Gibbs 32:34
So I mean, you could do both, they’re quite easy to switch between. So profile, switching between profile one and profile two, you could do just from the display, and just from the bars.

Carlton Reid 32:43
You do that in advance, you set up your favourite profile

Chris Gibbs 32:47
Exactly right, or potentially halfway through the ride, you go, I want to stretch this motor and stretch this battery as far as I can. So then you could start to come in and really customise that. And it’s just a case of firing up the Bluetooth between the two connecting your phone up and having a look through. You can do a physical connection as well, from your laptop to, to and through one of the ports on the display. But very simple with a phone or a tablet just to kind of Bluetooth and connect on through.

Carlton Reid 33:16
Okay, well we are now getting as you can imagine we are getting a little bit eaten by midges, so we ought to get going again. But let’s talk about H+I as we’re riding through these beautiful woods. Let’s let’s talk about what H+I does, where you’ve been. And if people are looking to book for the Cairngorms, what they can expect, the kind of trips that you do basically, if we talk about that as we’re going.

Chris Gibbs 33:38

Carlton Reid 33:38
Chris, first of all, what does H+I stand for, if anything nowadays?

Chris Gibbs 33:45
It used to stand for Highlands and Islands. Since it became international now it’s just H+I.

Carlton Reid 33:53
So the website, tell us what the website because that is not H+I.

Chris Gibbs 33:58
So mountainbike worldwide. And at the time, that was where it’s now worldwide adventures. So H+I is us as a guiding company and mountain bike worldwide is the landing page to access all those worldwide adventures across 17 locations in the world now. So we have three trips here in Scotland, and that is the Highland Odyssey which goes through the Cairngorms and then out to the West coast and up into Torridon in the big Northwest. We have the Cairngorms itself, which is based here in the Cairngorms for the full week of riding. And then we have the coast to coast which is an East West traverse

Carlton Reid 34:38
Thanks to Chris Gibbs of H+I for the expert guiding and to Shimano for the experience. Thanks also to Sean Stanfield of Fusion Media for setting up the whole shebang. The next episode will feature on-bike nutrition with a side helping of Ancient Roman energy food but meanwhile get out and ride …

August 22, 2021 / / Blog

In conversation with LeBlanq’s foodie founders Justin Clarke and Ashley Palmer-Watts.

22nd August 2021

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 280: Jus, not gels: In conversation with LeBlanq’s foodie founders Justin Clarke and Ashley Palmer-Watts


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Justin Clarke and Ashley Palmer-Watts of LeBlanq

TOPICS: The founders of LeBlanq drill down into their upscale gastronomy-based cycling getaways and why, for them, it’s got to be jus, not gels.


Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to Episode 280 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Sunday 22nd of August 2021.

David Bernstein 0:25
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA. Jenson USA where you will find a great selection of products at unbeatable prices with unparalleled customer service. Check them out at Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast. And, of course, I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast since 2006. For shownotes links and other information check out our website at And now, here’s my fellow host and producer Carlton Reid and the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:11
Welcome to the Spokesmen Cycling podcast brought to you in association with Jenson USA. I’m Carlton Reid and today’s show is a 40-minute chat with the foodie founders of LeBlanq, the upscale cycling weekender firm that’s more jus than gels. Events specialist and ex-professional cyclist Justin Clarke teamed up with Ashley Palmer-Watts, the former Exec Chef of the Fat Duck Group, to curate LeBlanq’s joyrides. These exclusive road cycling getaways visit stunning locations, stay at luxury hotels and feature day rides with cycling celebs such as Eddy Merckx and knights of the realm Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins. It’s cycling as the new golf but with knobs on. And want to know how to make the world’s best porridge? Listen on …

Carlton Reid 2:05
Jus, not gels. I love that. That’s a great, that’s a great way of encapsulating what you’re doing there. So tell us exactly and I’m gonna be difficult to know who’s going to be talking here. First, but let’s let’s go for Justin first. So what why what’s wrong with gels first? What’s wrong?

Justin Clarke 2:27
So there’s nothing wrong with gels, provided they taste good, but it’s very rare that they do. And a good meal tends to be the best way to refill if you can. So our belief is that you shouldn’t compromise. If you’re a highly trained professional athlete, then there are certain things that you need to, you know, take out of your life like joy, and, and you know, a diet that actually makes you happy. But if you’re not a highly trained professional athlete, I think that you can, you can exercise Well, you can train well. And you can eat an amazing diet, which is both good for you, but also delicious. So that the point of that line was food shouldn’t just be about calories, or fats or proteins, whatever food should actually be something you enjoy. And that’s, that’s what that line means.

Carlton Reid 3:22
And Ash, you’re kind of famous for producing food that people enjoy. Tell us a bit about your background, your culinary background.

Ashley Palmer-Watts 3:32
Oh, okay. Um, so

Ashley Palmer-Watts 3:34
yeah, I mean, I’ve been a chef for probably, for nearly 30 years actually start very young, working in kitchens. And I spent the last 20 years working at the Fat Duck group running various restaurants and dinner by Heston in London for the last 10 years. And yeah, sort of left at the end of 2019 to open my own place and pursue a couple of other amazing projects, which one of them is is LeBlanq and, and here we are, post COVID coming out the other side ready?

Carlton Reid 4:09
Because the the event we’re going to start, and then COVID got in the way, is that right?

Justin Clarke 4:14
Yes, yes, that’s, that’s why I’m actually in the Isle of Wight right now doing our final, final final checks on the events that is pretty much a year after it was due to be originally so the original dates of the first event were 23rd to 25th of September, the actual dates of the event and now the 17th and 19th of September, so so just inside a year from when it was actually first due to be stage. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 4:42
And Ash, are you a cyclist as well?

Ashley Palmer-Watts 4:45
Yep. Yeah, I have been riding since probably, well, after after the Olympics in 2012 I decided to buy a bike. And that really, you know, sort of got quite heavily into it from there really. And yeah, literally about to go out for a bike ride in about 10 minutes. So

Justin Clarke 5:04
We live the dream.

Ashley Palmer-Watts 5:06

Carlton Reid 5:07
And how did you two meet?

Justin Clarke 5:10
Do you mind if I take this one? So um, because it’s it was a chance conversation. I’ve known Ash for probably about 12 or 13 years, I was one of the team that started Taste of London and then developed into Taste festivals all over the world. But also there was that there was an event that we used to stage down in Western Australia, little tiny place called Margaret River. And at the opening, almost like kind of, you know, the cocktail party and the press reception, and all of those things. Ashley had just been on stage. And he’s just been introduced as one of our amazing chefs that have kind of flown in and, you know, really, really brilliant. And so we’re in this tiny little place and Ash kind of drops in there quite casually said, ‘Yeah, yeah, I brought my bike.’ I was like ‘Wow, you’ve brought your bike from UK, all the way down to Australia. Wow?’ I just said out of interest, what bike is it? And he said, Oh, it’s a Pinarello F8. And this was about four, four and a half years ago. And at the time, the F8 was the absolute top draw Pinarello — it was an absolutely amazing bike. And, and immediately I said ‘At some point, Ash you and I’ve got to do something with cycling and food.’ I’ve been running food festivals for last 20 years. Ashley is one best chefs in the world. We both love cycling, it was just a natural thing. It was a case of when not whether. But that for me. That was the moment that the penny really dropped.

Carlton Reid 6:40
And Justin, how did you transfer from cycling? Because then you went to IMG, which is kind of like a sports agency. So I’m struggling. Why would IMG have a culinary platform?

Justin Clarke 6:53
Yes. So. So I worked originally for the business called Brand Events, which was a almost an event creation business. And so we imagined Taste, it didn’t exist before. That idea that if you brought all the best best chefs from around the cities, one place, you know, set in a beautiful location and have a whole bunch of signature dishes being served. Wouldn’t that be a really nice thing, if you love great food? And it turns out, yes, the answer is yes, that would be a great thing. No. Literally, IMG bought the business of Taste. Actually, it was just at the start of, of 2012 into 2013. And the reason why they bought it is because they could see that the food had gone from being you know, just something that you did in restaurants had become a almost like a media and experiential subject and a passion point. You know, back when we started Taste, no one would regard themselves as a foodie. Whereas nowadays, almost everyone regards themselves as a foodie so it’s it’s IMG certainly isn’t just about sport models, I’ll be faster and etc, etc. So it’s way beyond just sportt. But I’m definitely so food has been a passion point they wanted to get into and Taste was the, you know, the biggest, most successful food festival brand.

Carlton Reid 8:16
This is a question for for both of you. But I’ll go to Ash first and ask you, but maybe Justin, you can you can give your point of view on this as well. Is there like an absolute crossover between your existing clientele at the Fat Duck, or in your new venture, and cycling? Was was there was there like a you had a base bunch of people, you know, this would fit perfectly for? Or were you completely throwing this open? And you weren’t like relying on anybody that you knew already?

Ashley Palmer-Watts 8:53
Well, I mean, from a from a, from a guest point of view, I think, you know, from from when Justin and I were chatting about it in in Margaret River, you know, the kind of the driven character of people that that ride bikes for pleasure, as well as you know, competing, but obviously, we’re all about the pleasure side of it, you know, the people that are detailed and driven, usually top professionals in whatever profession, you know, they, they, it kind of goes hand in hand. It’s it’s, it’s the enjoyment of food and wine and you know, sitting around in a beautiful place and riding your bike in a beautiful place. It just the experience didn’t exist yet. But I think it was fair to say if, you know, I think Justin would agree that you know, we had a very good idea that people this would be something quite special and some really great experiences from a food and cycling point of view. And then of course you add in the the legends of cycling as well and, you know, I can speak from, from my own experience of you know, speaking with Bradley and Sean Yates and Adam Blythe and Matt Stevens, you know, it’s quite mesmerising actually what you know, when listen to the stories and getting access to their experience and vice versa. They love the kind of world of food and chefs and it’s, there’s a kind of real mutual camaraderie and respect between the two, two crossover things really,

Justin Clarke 10:24
Completely agree. Just some, I mean, from my perspective, I had this incredible insight really, which was IMG, hugely famous for golf, obviously, is where IMG was founded with Arnold Palmer and Mark McCormack. And whilst so I was at IMG for probably about nine years. And what I was witnessing was that golf is a pursuit, its popularity, its interest, its money, etc, etc. It was kind of dwindling, it was on the decline. And then ING was also getting big time into cycling and bought commercial the rights to the Giro d’Italia, etc, etc. And I could just see, literally kind of before my eyes that the people who had previously loved golf, was starting to love road cycling. And, and I kind of figured, well, I understand golf very well. And hospitality is built into the golf experience. So these people that we were wanting to target, appreciate the lifestyle can afford the lifestyle. But really, it was one of those things that the reason why they’re not going for it is because it doesn’t exist. So so i was i was just kind of convinced that you know, that moment are met, actually, we kind of have that chat is like, well, let’s go and make it exist. And it’s proven to be true.

Carlton Reid 11:46
Because that was definitely going to be one of my questions. And then it’s the cliche, of course, the cycling is the new golf, but I was gonna go there, and you’ve kind of gone there before I went there, but I’m not done press trips in incredibly exotic golf resort in Portugal, where they, they are gonna have to attract cyclists now or other activities, because that golf has just … I don’t think it was just President Trump, it was, you know, the former President Trump, it was coming before that. But golf has certainly lost a lot of its cachet. So that cliche of cycling being the new golf, you are basically you’re living it. That’s not a cliche at all. You are you’re absolutely plugging into that. Yeah?

Justin Clarke 12:33
Yeah, absolutely. For sure that there’s that there were a couple of other factors that they’ve kind of made the timing of LeBlanq, right. And because then the other part is cyclists. I mean, I was a pro cyclist over 20 years ago. And I don’t speak out of turn, but diet, diet wasn’t actually about eating great food, it was about eating as little as you can and take drugs. That was it. Whereas nowadays, every professional World Tour professional team has their own professional chef, because they understand diet, they understand natural ingredients, how to prepare, timings, portion size, all those kinds of things. So it’s, and also INEOS, or what was Sky, that they did a huge amount of research on the fact that food is a reward mechanism for great training. And they realise that if you actually great food, you train harder. And that’s why jus not gels, because it’s actually you know, if you understand what’s going into it, it makes you feel better. You know, and therefore it’s, you know, you train better, you race better, and etc. And then the third part was that Ash isn’t alone in being a chef who loves cycling, is really a growing trend. And, Ash, I think it’s fair to say that you’ve become the almost like the dealer for bikes is everyone. Everyone who’s a chef who is like ‘what bike do I need to get?’ I need to speak to Ash first’. And you know, you’ve got a pretty much a succession of top-end chefs saying, you know, I am a bit OCD. I do want to get into this, what do I do? Is that right?

Ashley Palmer-Watts 14:07
Yeah, absolutely. It’s quite amazing, you know, people say, it just looks brilliant. ‘I’m gonna buy a bike, what should I get?’ And they’re just like, I don’t think they have an idea of the detailed barrage of questions that that, you know, come back that you need that information to try and get them on to the right thing. But, you know, you’re just trying to save people a lot of time wasting a lot of money. And just urging them to, to do what I didn’t do, because I didn’t you know, I just kind of bought a bike I thought fit, right, but it didn’t. I kind of had a bit of a mishmash of stuff and I bought a decent bike and then it’s like everything you start upgrading and before you know it, you’re on your third bike and you finally got what you should have got in the first place. So but it’s great. You know, you get into such detail. I think chefs love detail. They love sort of nerdy precision and technology and, you know, become obsessed with lightweight everything. And so I think, you know, there’s a lot of synergy between the two. And, and, yeah, and it’s one of the only things you can really do that, that gets you out on your own. It doesn’t matter who you are, because when you got a helmet and glasses on in cycling gear, you know, as famous as some of the guys are, you wouldn’t know who he is cycling past half the time so they can have their own space, their own time, you’re out in the fresh air, and you’re actually doing something that then come back and have some great food and nice bottle of wine. And it all sort of it’s like a little ecosystem really, I think, yeah,

Carlton Reid 15:42
Can we talk about portion sizes, because you’ve talked a lot about taste and enjoyment, but you need to have fuel, you need to have some good carbohydrates that you need to have, you know, if you’re going to cycling, so, do you have a bit more food, a bit more on the plate, than you would if you were doing a different kind of event? I’m asking you how much you’re going to eat on your events?

Ashley Palmer-Watts 16:05
Yeah, I mean, we’ve kind of got different stages planned out for the different meals. But if I mean, on the Isle of [Wight], with our last event up in Scotland, we started making porridge for the guys in the morning. So I said, look, I’ll make the porridge. No problem, blah, blah. But then the other two guys were making the eggs and, and whatnot. And the porridge word spread. And it was just like, I did about 19 different porridges, like, one after the other. And then they were talking about it. And Chris Hoy, he was saying, ‘yeah, some of the best porridge I’ve ever had in my life, like, how’d you do it?’ And I was like, ‘well, I’ll tell you what, 7.30 tomorrow, whoever wants to learn how to make this porridge my way, come into the kitchen.’ And well, you know, we’re doing a little masterclass. And, and I think simplicity. And I mean, porridge for me, personally, is what I would have, because it’s just that slow burner, you know, that’s going to get you from start to finish and then supplement it with some really good natural, actual foods, not not gels. I’m not, I’m not a massive fan of gels. But I’d rather actually something, you know, whether it’s a date bar with pecans, and a little bit of chocolate in it, for example, but actual food foods. But yeah, I guess different people feel different ways. And I think once you start understanding about fueling, especially as a, as a non, let’s say, a food expert or something, I think you’re going to get so much more out of your riding at the same time. So hopefully, your guests can kind of pick up on that as, as they go through the weekend, too.

Justin Clarke 17:43
Yeah, we are also lucky enough to have Veloforte, who, although they do gels, they call them nectars. But it’s it’s a brand that has kind of sprung out recently, which there is nothing artificial and synthetic to it. It is what Ashley just said. It’s natural nuts, it’s fruits, it’s it’s produce that you would eat normally. And many of the riders have said ‘yeah, Veloforte, the only problem with it is it tastes so good that you want to eat it all the time’ — so that there is the practicality of fueling whilst on the bike. But equally, you know that this was my preconception before. Before starting taste, I used to think that food is just a lot of food is that’s not the case foodies appreciate and consider what they eat. And they really select the best so it’s about eating well, not eating huge amounts. And you know that the writing the writing for a weekend of LeBlanq is, you know is tailored to the capability of the rider is not designed to be brutal and break people it’s designed to challenge but it for it to feel an exhilarating escapism, rather than, you know, can’t walk for five days because, you know, gone way beyond the limits and capabilities. So it’s kind of an in that case, the feeling is just it’s about timing is about quality is not actually about involves you.

Carlton Reid 19:09
You whetted my quality appetite, I won’t eat so much I’ll just I’ll just stick to quality. And no more gels on rides only nectars. In the meantime, I’d like to go over to my colleague David for an ad break, so hang on for a second.

David Bernstein 19:23
Hey, thanks, Carlton. And hello, everybody. It’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast. And as always, I’m here to talk to you about our longtime and very loyal sponsor, and that’s Jenson USA at and that’s j e n s o n Have you ever wondered about why does Jensen exists? Why are they out there? You know, the other day I I do things like this, I had the opportunity. And I went to Jenson’s About Us page and I read their mission statement. You know, have you read these mission statements and their corporate gobbledygook and they don’t really mean anything? And I just really liked what they said. And I wanted to share it with you because it’s really apropos of why they’re here, why they’ve been sponsoring thes Spokesmen for all this time. Their mission statement says simply, ‘we are cyclists here at Jenson, USA. And it’s our mission, to help inspire you to get out and ride, experience and explore. Now, it’s not something that we set on the spokesman forever get out there and ride.’ That’s really what it’s all about. This isn’t as I said before, some corporate behemoth that is owned by private equity or a New York Stock Exchange, looking to just squeeze as much money out of you as possible instead, just as they’re loyal and have been loyal to the Spokesmen, they are endeavouring for you to be just as loyal to Jenson. And they do that in a variety of ways. Number one, they’re cyclists like they said, just like you, just like Carlton, just like all of us, and they get it, they get the cycling lifestyle, they understand who you are, and what you like to do for fun, or for commuting or for all the various reasons that you that you’re a cyclist. They get it. And that’s why they have such a great selection of brand-name, late model products, why they offer them at such great prices. And why — and this is really critical — why they have such great customer service through their gear advisors. Their gear advisors are people like you and me. They’re cyclists. And so when you call and you’ve got a question, they’re going to be able to not only answer the question, but nine times out of 10 they’re going to be able to say, ‘yeah, I rode that. And this was my experience.’ And that really is how holistically, they’re really able to make sure that they can take care of you and me and everyone like us; again, whether we’re road cyclists, or we like to go out on our gravel bikes or BMX bikes or mountain bikes, or commuter bikes, Jenson, has you covered. Go ahead and check them out at If you’ve never been there before, if you’ve heard these ads and just have never clicked, go do it. You really will be glad that you did. And of course, if you’ve heard these ads, you know what I’m talking about. So next time you’re looking for something tyres, apparel, tubes, a pump, complete bikes; think of Jenson first And as always, we thank Jenson for their support of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast.

Carlton Reid 22:51
And thanks, David, and we are back with Justin. And with Ash, and Ash, I want to I want to go backwards, if you don’t mind. And that is how do you make porridge? How do you make this porridge that Chris Hoy says is the best ever and you come in come in at 7.30 in the morning, we’ll find out how you didn’t tell us, you kind of left us there. You’ve now got to tell us you understand that.

Ashley Palmer-Watts 23:13
Okay, well, I think there’s a couple of things you can do, one, you really need to shake the box of oats to get all the fine bits down the bottom. So the more fine bits that you’ve got actually in the pan, they become really gloopy and gluey, which you don’t want. So if you want to go the first step is shake the box of oats and only get the oats not the real sort of fine flour.

Carlton Reid 23:36
Not the Ready Brek.

Ashley Palmer-Watts 23:39
Exactly exactly and then I’ll do semi skim milk. Probably go about I don’t know about half an inch over the top of the oats, a little pinch of sugar, a little tiny pinch of salt, and then probably I mean a couple of tablespoons of water and then literally put it on the heat and bring it up to a simmer slowly. And literally, I’m doing this while I’m talking to you over the internet but I’m kind of stirring thin air but you stir it really really slowly rather than you know going hammer and tongs stirring the thing because you’re scared it’s gonna stick, kind of really gently just what you don’t want to do is really mix overmix the porridge because that will just work that porridge into a gloopy mess. Once it’s simmering, then you just it’s a bit like a risotto. You just add a little bit more milk, gentle kind of incorporating stir, let it simmer a little bit more, probably give it about two or three minutes. Then just take it off the heat and let it rest for like minute and a half, two minutes, three minutes, whatever you want to do, make your coffee or tea, come back to it, put it back on the heat, another little bit of milk just to loosen it. Find a little bit of heat, gently incorporating that milk and then into the bowl. And personally, I know it’s the enemy but I love a little bit of unrefined sugar that melts just on the top and that’s the guys in in Scotland, they were like, I’ll have it however you have it and I was like well I do this and it the texture of it is brilliant. It’s like making a great risotto. But if you stir at too much unlike results you’ll get this gloopy mess, so it’s all in the control.

Justin Clarke 25:27
That’s it. That’s That’s your secret out now.

Carlton Reid 25:30
This is gonna be my most popular podcast ever I think because we’re giving away the secret for the best porridge. I will try that Ash, thank you very much. I will I will shake my porridge oats. What about so you’d recommend like Irish like fine cut or is it like a Scottish one or is it the oats are also important you got to tell us that as well.

Ashley Palmer-Watts 25:50
Yeah, I mean, there’s less that’s preference I would say you know some like jumbo some like normal loads. I like the Scott’s porridge oats, the original Scott’s porridge oats they, to be honest, it’s what we used at the Fat Duck for snail porridge and it makes the best porridge for breakfast.

Carlton Reid 26:06
Well, that’s what’s in my cupboard. So I’m a foodie. That’s great. Okay, now guys, you’ve got to tell me about the events themselves. So first of all, tell us about the first one which you’ve had one event so far, then you’ve had a believe a sell-out like when you were made the announcement for the second one that just instantly went bonkers and just sold out. And then you’ve got other events. So let’s let’s go through first of all, the first event that you’ve actually done, how did that go? Yeah, how many people need to have on it? Let’s let’s let’s hear about that, Justin.

Justin Clarke 26:39
Yeah, okay. So so the the first event that that we did was the Surrey Joyride And that was designed to be a single day ride, riding through many of the roads that Adam Blythe who was one of our ride leaders and Joanna Rowsell is a local rider. And it was her training ground that she used to train on to become an Olympic champion. And for Adam Blythe, it was it was the roads that he is the only British winner of the London Surrey classic. So again, he was revisiting roads that he’d actually been a champion on so that the ride leaders were there to almost kind of both, you know, challenge the riders but also relive the moments that were special. And but Box Hill was the kind of the start and finish points. And we did three different distances, five different groups, all of them with a following Aston Martin vehicle, amazing how when you’ve got an Aston Martin following a group of riders, no other car drivers want to have any kind of issue. It’s like wow, the Aston Martin is so um, so that that was the the format we had 44 guests and then we have two of our road leaders per team. So 54 Riders on the road. And then the afternoon was at a restaurant which had come across about four or five years previously, when we shortlist that is one of the best openings in the world is called Sorrel restaurant. It’s got one Michelin star but it’s absolutely beautiful restaurant so that that was the afternoon in Sorrel and Steve Drake, the chef of Sorrel, the special five course tasting menu, and absolutely brilliant, brilliant feedback, great reviews, and people really enjoyed it. And then the the second event which also sold out very quickly was in Perth. Sure, a little tiny, tiny village called Aberfeldy. And we had 20 guests alongside Chris Hoy. And there was there was some chef called Ashley Palmer-Watts who was Ash was actually doing the majority of the cooking for the weekend. But you also worked with the the guys from Ballintaggert in terms of the time or place in it in the trash.

Ashley Palmer-Watts 28:51
Yep. Yeah. So yeah, they we had a local I wouldn’t say how it’s like a hotel with rooms or a restaurant with rooms kind of set up lots of per share, produce all local, they’ve got their own farm etc. And so they cook the Friday night the guests arrived in the afternoon, chilled out for a bit. All met each other. Friday Night was Ballintaggert dinner, which was amazing five courses, sort of showcasing local produce. And then the Saturday was the was the big ride in the morning. So breakfast then the ride, they came back. They had great coffee stuff on the way got back to the to the house. They had massage. Some did some yoga and some stretching. We were pushing on in the kitchen at the time. But but it was a great social kind of Saturday because everyone felt very integrated into the the experience of the house and you’d have guests wandering into the kitchen going ‘oh my God; smells amazing, what’s for dinner?’ and you’re like, well, I can’t really tell you at the moment, it’s all going to be revealed a little bit later. And then down for dinner. And on that event, we were decided that we were going to sort of tailor the menu to the six Olympic gold medals that Chris Hoy won. So he won one in Athens, three in Beijing in 2008. And then two in London in 2012. So I use those cities as inspiration for the style of cooking for those particular dishes. So we started off with a Greek hot and cold grilled Greek salad. And then we went to, into three Chinese dishes, one based around kind of peanut broth called jiangsu, with langoustines, and asparagus from Scotland, and then we’re on to grilled scallops with exo sauce. And then we had this most amazing Highland wagyu, from literally about half an hour down the road. And grill that and it was slightly the Sichwuan glaze and this peanut and cucumber salad. And then back to London for two desserts, strawberries and cream. And, oh, there was a there was a quite a good story, actually, there was a we billed it as seven courses, but Chris only won six Olympic gold medals. So yeah, we made we made that is amazing. We made a little thing of it saying, you know, it was gonna be seven. It’s actually six, because, you know, it’s about the gold medals. And everyone kind of was, you know, laughing a bit. And then after the main course, I went out and, and tapped a glass and got everyone’s attention. And I sort of said, I didn’t say it was six courses. It’s actually seven. But this is a little surprise cos both Chris and I have a mutual friend. And when he heard that I was working with Chris on this ride he said ‘look, when you when you meet Chris the first time you really must give him some some hassle about one of his dishes he does at home, we all take the mickey out of him for it.’ I said ‘okay, right. So what is it?’ He said, ‘they’re, um, mushrooms done on the barbecue stuffed with Stilton cheese. And everyone apparently takes the mickey out Chris for this. And so I said, ‘you know, we’ve got this mutual friend story’. And I said, ‘Look, I’ve done my own little homage to, we’re going to call it the Hidden Hoy cheese course. And he just couldn’t believe it. It was so funny. Because it was I think it epitomised everything from the weekend, it was just this kind of really comfortable, social, friendly, big household of sort of food and drink and really approachable sort of chats and, and whatnot. And then after dinner, we had a brilliant interview by Annie Emerson, sort of sitting down and chatting through Chris’s career and some really sort of poignant parts of his career that that, you know, resonated with a lot of people I think, whilst also tasting the local whiskey from Aberfeldy, which is brilliant. And then the Sunday, got to do all again, go for another ride. Come back for some lovely food. We’re a little bit more casual. We had some wagyu burgers and some sort of chunky chips and a little bit of pannacotta for dessert. So you know, it was just, it was just so good.

Carlton Reid 33:48
All right. What about vegans and veggies? Can they can they come on your tours as well?

Ashley Palmer-Watts 33:53
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it’s, um, we didn’t have any vegans this time. But we did. We did have one full vegetarian who, but I mean, it was fine, which is sort of, you know, I mean, to be honest, in where I’ve come from, and the restaurant I ran for 10 years of vegetarian cooking, we’ll put as much we put as much effort into that as anything else. Really. So yeah, no problem. vegetarian, or vegan is a little bit more tricky. But you know, when

Carlton Reid 34:29
I’d like to go on to the events that are coming up in a minute but first of all why LeBlanq cos I know you’ve got in one event you’ve got coming up you have got it’s hosted by Raymond Blanc, is it associated with what so where’s where’s where’s the name come from?

Justin Clarke 34:45
yeah, it’s um, so the actual name in the original event was always going to be on the Isle of Wight.

Carlton Reid 34:53
Okay. Okay, the Isle of Wight.

Justin Clarke 34:56
There we go. And, and so that There was a bit of toying around with a few different names LeBlanc Tour, Tour de Blanc, etc. So we were just thinking of kind of, you know, going with the white theme in terms of Isle of Wight and, and, and yeah, it kind of went from that, and then it stuck. And then the C became a Q. And then the first chef that I asked outside of, of speaking with Ashley was Raymond Blanc. And they did say, Have you named your event after Raymond? And we said, we know, but it is a nice coincidence. And they said, No, no, that’s, that’s great. So yeah, it was it was mainly around the Isle of Wight been the kind of the catalyst for the idea. But yeah, we wanted to create something that was quite unique, that was, you know, sat there quite differently. We like the the the French kind of connotation of it, because obviously, it’s cycling and gastronomy tends to be deeply rooted in, in kind of French language. And that’s that that’s the reason that

Carlton Reid 35:58
I’ve noticed on the press release here that so it wasn’t just that one event. We’ve got Aston Martin cars, you’ve got Aston Martin cars. So you know, the cycling credentials of Aston Martin? Yeah. Very cycling brand.

Justin Clarke 36:13
Yes, absolutely. It’s when you, when you get to know the guys from Aston Martin, virtually all of them ride bikes, and is the second biggest pastime of all the Aston Martin owners, which is why there were so drawn to what you’re doing. And, and and we all like, you know, beautiful cars and Aston Martin. So the most. We had a bit of both that actually yourself just had a philosophy that one could go for being best in class in everything it does. So the bikes, cars, the food, the destinations, we want to always be best in class.

Carlton Reid 36:50
so let’s talk about best in class future events. So that one of the events that sold recently. So where are you going next? Basically?

Justin Clarke 37:00
Yes, so that the next one is, is with Raymond Blance at his home in La Manoir in Oxfordshire. So that that event is on the fifth of September. That is the event that the it’s 40 places sold out in 15 minutes, which was which was great. The the event two weeks after that is here on the Isle of Wight, which you know, third or third time of asking. So we were originally going to do last September, then April and now it’s this September. And then two weeks of that weather that that event on the Isle of Wight is where we introduced Bradley Wiggins for the first time to our guests. And I’ve known Bradley for a long time I think it was probably 12 when I first met him he incredible athlete, incredible character, real personality that I think is going to embody a lot of what LeBlanq wants to wants to kind of offer as guests but then the final events of the year is going to be in the Champagne region at the Royal Champagne Hotel and Spa and the the rider that we have there is a chap called Eddy Merckx so we kind of figured we you know if you’re going to go for best in class then that there is one undisputed champion of cycling and that’s it so that’s that’s where we’re going to be working with Raymond Blance probably

Carlton Reid 38:19
Sweet, at the it’s sold out when when you put these through to your your your lists etc are there people who are coming time and time again so you’ve got like a core 10 people or whatever who’ve been on every trip so far and are going to be on every trip?

Ashley Palmer-Watts 38:37
Yeah, it’s

Justin Clarke 38:38
It’s interesting because to the call we actually want to create a club is called the Joy Rider’s Dining Club is not about cycling, it’s about joy riding. So yes, we do have natural, you know, founder club members already. And you’re right in your number it is around 10 to 12 that are absolutely you know, ‘whatever you guys do, we’re there.’ But some but equally, we also want to make sure that we mix up the the events, the riders, the talent, the destination. But yeah, we’ll be doing more events next year it will grow and capacities are always going to feel pretty intimate. So rarely above 100 people and you know, the smallest event is probably going to be around about 20, 25 biggest will be 100 people. But what we’re also doing is not just the experiences themselves when when we do the rides when we do the menus, etc. All of that will be shared straight after the event. So you can literally ride the same route so we did you can you can understand what what we ate where we went, where do we recommend so it’s almost like a kind of an advert for amazing places to go and ride and dine. The event just happens to kind of give that place you know, that kind of promotion and visible

Carlton Reid 39:50
I’m sitting on my chair. So you can now tell me how much these things cost.

Justin Clarke 39:56
With the the the event that we’re doing at The Manoir is only £135. That’s that it’s, it’s primarily it’s a breakfast and it’s meeting Raymond Blanc and then it’s been led by a bunch of fantastic pros on some really great riding around the Chilterns. And then it goes all the way up to the place in the, in the Champagne region, which is £3,500. And that’s what that

Carlton Reid 40:21
That’s without travel? So that you got to get there, you get there in your helicopter, yes, and get your Pinarello out of the back?

Justin Clarke 40:29
There we go. It’s um the the the travel point is interesting because but most people who are coming don’t actually want to be I want to say tell they don’t want to fit into the travel arrangements because many of them are travelling already many of them are starting from one point coming to the event going to a different place. So the travel it just became the easiest thing to just exclude it and the experience starts when you arrive

Carlton Reid 40:53
Sounds wonderful. Tell people all of your social media channels. How can they find out about this give us your website give us everything that you tell people about your event.

Justin Clarke 41:04
It’s I mean, in terms of the the the way to describe it is the finest cycling you can possibly do amongst friends in beautiful locations with the best food that’s that that’s the proposition. We found that many people quite like that it’s it’s quite appealing. In terms of how to find out search LeBlanc you go straight to the website at leblanc with a Q or in so

Carlton Reid 41:30
It’s not like a C with Raymond Blanc or the white it’s it’s

Justin Clarke 41:36 But yeah, the Instagram channel is is very healthy. If you want to know the latest of what we’re doing sign up to the newsletter, which you can do via the websites. And that’s that’s the best place but we’ve also got a number of different media partnerships with with Rouleur magazine with the national Times, with Great British chefs etc. So there are many ways in which we’ll find out about. But the best one is go online check out and go from there.

Carlton Reid 42:08
Thanks to Justin Clark and Ashley Palmer-Watts there and thanks to you for listening to the Spokesmen cycling podcast, show notes and more can be found on The next show will be out in early September. It will star my doctor wife in the Cairngorms riding an electric mountain bike equipped with Shimano EP8system. Now, she rides to work on a bog standard single speed electric bike normally, so it’ll be interesting to see how she gets on with this premium bit of kit. Meanwhile, get out there and ride.

Jude Reid 43:12
Still getting a workout in an electric bike.

August 15, 2021 / / Blog

15th August 2021

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 279: Bike Portland’s Jonathan Maus


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Jonathan Maus

TOPICS: 16 years of Bike Portland


Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to episode 279 of the Spokesmen cycling Podcast. This show was engineered on Sunday 15th August 2021.

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For shownotes links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the- And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:08
Hi there I’m Carlton Reid and welcome to today’s episode of the Spokesmen Cycling podcast brought to you in association with Jenson USA. Today’s show is a chat with Bikeportland’s Jonathan Maus. Started by Jonathan 16 years ago as a one-man blog chronicling Portland’s lively and eclectic cycling scene, the site is now a multi-media operation that’s about to get a refresh thanks to investment from a new co-owner. Here’s our remotely recorded, 65-minute chat …

Carlton Reid 1:45
Jonathan, you’ve been doing Bikeportland for a wee while I’m it’s at least 16 years, I believe.

Jonathan Maus 1:52

Carlton Reid 1:53
Um, so people who listen to this podcast are now gonna be able to listen to your podcast, which is great. So there is some news which we will get on to have the expansion of your media empire. But first of all, I’d really like to Kai probably haven’t done a great deal of even though I’ve been to visit you in person, I probably haven’t grilled you in this in this exact way. So this is a This is Your Life. This is I’d like to know more about

Carlton Reid 2:21
the man behind the blog was a blog now I need your input. So first of all, are you originally from Portland, Oregon?

Jonathan Maus 2:32
No, I moved up here with my family in 2004. So a little bit before I started Bike Portland.

Carlton Reid 2:38
And where you from?

Jonathan Maus 2:40
I was living for about 10 years, I lived in Santa Barbara, California, which is on the Central Coast really beautiful places where I went to college as well. So I stuck around there as long as I could, and then ended up having to leave. Because it just got so expensive and ridiculous in Santa Barbara. So anyway, yeah, we found our way up to Portland and I and before that I grew up more in Southern California. So about 30 minutes south of Los Angeles near like Long Beach, California. I’ve always been sort of near the coast.

Carlton Reid 3:09
Okay. And then why Portland?

Jonathan Maus 3:14
Well, we were really like this stereotypical young family in California sort of like pulling our hair out about how expensive things had gotten down there, and how strange sort of the economy and just the community was in a place like Santa Barbara, which is this this super, super, super wealthy area. And then you have like a bunch of baristas, and yoga teachers, not a lot of middle class. So that was a big red flag and we were renting an apartment we’d been renting apartments for you know, for a long time at that point. And we’re just ready to live somewhere live in a community owned a home sort of the whole American Dream stick, you know, and this isn’t for of course, this is before 2008 in the big financial crash when you know, you were still just supposed to buy a house and renting wasn’t wasn’t wasn’t as appealing. So yeah, we we got out the magazines looked at where were cool places to live. And Portland at that point was, you know, always on the top of those lists. And so I thought, you know, it’s still on the west coast, it would still be relatively close to my family in Southern California. And that’s we came up and visited a friend that had moved up to the Portland area and basically went back and a weekend saw a house we liked and bought it and that was it.

Carlton Reid 4:21
Because there is a climate difference. Isn’t there? There’s a bit of difference in weather between where you grew up and Portland.

Jonathan Maus 4:30
Yeah, for sure. But I mean, I feel like at that point, I was just so young. I didn’t really think through the decision that much into somebody. I mean, which we can get to later I mean, I lived two blocks away from a freeway before I became much much of a transportation activist like I am now I would never bought this house so close to freeway Had I known then what I know now but also made to think on the weather thing. You know, actually, the weather in California can be pretty boring Southern California weather it’s it’s always the same. It’s hazy sunshine and mid 70s every single day and it’s I

Jonathan Maus 5:00
I got to tell you, it gets kind of boring. nothing ever changes. You don’t have clouds and seasons and darkness and water from the sky. So I really liked I really liked the climate up here.

Carlton Reid 5:10
Although you have had a heatwave recently, haven’t you? I mean, you might still be having it. Cuz you’ve had some extremes there.

Jonathan Maus 5:15
Well, yeah, of course, of course, nothing. Nothing is normal now. So now we’re getting a lot a lot more that heat and dryness that from Southern California is coming up here for sure with climate change.

Carlton Reid 5:24
Mm hmm. And you said before young family, so so who are you talking about?

Jonathan Maus 5:30
Right, so I had a daughter who was a few years old, in Santa Barbara. And then since we’ve moved up to Portland, my wife and I have had two more kids. So we’ve got, we’ve got a 18 year old who’s setting off the college, we have a 16 year old who will be a junior in high school. And then I’ve got my boy who’s 10 and going into fifth grade.

Carlton Reid 5:47
Right? Okay. And your wife,

Jonathan Maus 5:51
My wife, Julie, yet she works actually for the City of Portland in the signals and street lighting division. So that’s, that’s interesting. She, you know, she mostly when you know that she’s had that job for maybe four or five years. So for the most part, when I was really building bikeportland, and throwing everything into it, and working all day, every day and all night, she was really keeping everything going and, you know, looking over at me, like, you know, what the heck is going on? Why are you trying to, you know, have a blog support our family kind of thing. So it’s who was about four or five years ago that that was kind of, you know, still not, let’s say, working out financially for the for bikeportland. So she was sort of like, Okay, I’m gonna, I’m gonna get a job.

Carlton Reid 6:30
Was there any friction that if you were you were doing stuff, potentially quite critical of the city? And here’s your wife working for the city?

Jonathan Maus 6:38
Well, there wasn’t friction. I mean, you know, it’s I guess it’s, it’s okay, that she’s not sort of directly in the department that I cover most, right? So she’s in signals and street lighting, which there is sort of a hard line there. She’s not working on the planning. And if she was in the bike planning section, or she was in the, the, the project section, that that may be a little more awkward, but even then, I mean, she’s a professional, I’m a professional. I think there are probably people at the City of Portland who are aware of that, and they’re kind of like, you know, looking at it with a little bit of a side eye. I’m wondering what’s going on there. But I think as long as we keep it all, all on the up and up, nothing, nothing bad will come of it. I mean, I think the other context of it is is that she got the job after there had already been really a split at the City of Portland and bike Portland. I mean, back in the early days of Bike Portland, we were sort of more like, you know, partners, in a way it was kind of like they saw me more as an advocate, you know, part of their team to help them get their news out. And there was definitely more of a collegial atmosphere. But that had all definitely eroded by the time she started working there. So they’d already built in sort of systems to ignore ignore by Portland and sort of create a wall between us I do not have the same relationship with them that I’d had in the early years.

Carlton Reid 7:51
Okay, now pedal backwards. You’re talking about you got a house in the same house. You got then if you stayed in the near the freeway, is that right?

Jonathan Maus 7:59
Yeah. Yeah, we’re still in the same place been given moved here yet. Oh, four. So yeah. 17 years, I guess now.

Carlton Reid 8:05
Okay. So when you moved to Portland, you and you said before, you weren’t a transportation activist, but were you a cyclist in some way, shape, or form?

Jonathan Maus 8:17
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I’ve been riding bikes since I was a kid. And pretty much even in my professional life. I mean, even in college, I was a big bike rider, I raced a lot of research on the Santa Barbara UC Santa Barbara, road team and as the mountain bike club so I was super, super competitive racer, before I moved up here, and I just want to one of the first things I did out of college was worked at Chris King precision components, which which folks might know that the headset and hub makers, they were based in Santa Barbara, so I was a racer, and you know how it goes in the industry, you kind of just gravitate toward the biggest bike company in your town. So that’s what I did. worked over there. And then after that, you know, I did some PR work freelance for a bit and in the bike industry and and worked for a couple bike brands and stuff. So I’ve been around the bike world, basically, basically, my whole my whole adult life. So yeah.

Carlton Reid 9:07
And that’s how you’re making money before you moved. You’re in the bike industry.

Jonathan Maus 9:12
Yeah, I’d started. I started a public relations media relations firm. And I was working for myself. I had some clients in the publishing industry. So I worked with authors and publishing houses. And I also always maintained a client or two or three in the biking world. And I was really excited. I was I was building that business. I loved it. I kind of was up and coming. You know, I was young just starting out and I had you know, I was working for some companies I really liked. And yeah, that’s what I would have been doing had I not sort of found my way to being a blogger, I would have probably still been having my my media and PR firm because I liked doing that work. It was interesting. It just wasn’t as interesting as by Portland.

Carlton Reid 9:53
So then you started a blog. Yeah, this is like you had a day job and

Jonathan Maus 9:59
Then you start this.

Jonathan Maus 10:02

Carlton Reid 10:02
So what’s the very origins of how you started?

Jonathan Maus 10:06
Right. So when I moved to Portland, I definitely had my eye on the bicycle community and the bike scene here. I thought my first inclination was, let’s let me know I was going to get involved with the bike community. And maybe I’d get into like a nonprofit as like a pro bono client of my PR business, right? That was kind of how I was thinking. So I instantly joined any email list, I could and was really just starting to get to know people kind of like, looking out at the bike rides and seeing what was happening and starting to meet people. And I thought that’s what I would do, I would maybe help maybe a bike org, you know, get online or whatever they needed help with in terms of media relations and stuff like that. I was also like tinkering with building websites for folks and that sort of thing. So that’s how I thought it would get involved. But, you know, one thing just led to another. What happened was, it’s sort of at this, it’s the same amount of time, I started looking into the bike scene here in Portland. And again, for folks that don’t know 2004, 2005 was really like this amazing moment in Portland for cycling. A lot of the groups that are that were known for, and a lot of the like creative street culture that became a lot more well known in the subsequent years was just getting started, you know, like we had an all female mini bike dance team. We had this thing called bike summer and Pedal Palooza, which was this amazing, you know, several weeks of bike events, we had the zoo bombers. So we had some really, really fun, we had a bunch of tall bikes and free bike groups going on. So I came here from California, never having seen anything like that. And I was just blown away. I mean, to me cycling was, you know, who could get up the hill fastest, who was who could be the most aggro on the single track. And then if you wanted to, you know, goof around, you get a cruiser bike and go down to the beach, and maybe pop a wheelie like that was the extent of interesting bike culture that I knew of before moving to Portland, and I got here, and I and I mean, I would look out my front window and there’d be 30 people dressed like bunnies ringing their bells on Easter. And I was like, What in the world is going on? Like, this is really fantastic. And I just loved it. I couldn’t, I couldn’t, you know, we had street festivals. And I’d look up and see clowns riding tall bikes, jousting with each other while they’re on fire, like, stuff really blew me away. And so it was around that time that I got an email popped into this group’s email list that I followed this bike group. And it was someone from the Oregonian, which is sort of the the newspaper of record in Portland in our state. And they said, hey, there’s this new thing called blogs, we’re we want to have a network of blogs. And we thought, of course, since it’s Portland, and this is bike city, USA, we want to have someone write about bikes on our website. So this is the Oregonian’s website, they’re looking for a bike blogger, let’s say. And so I saw that, and I was like, well, that’s perfect. I mean, I’m a, I’m a news guy, I know how to write, I’m doing PR Media Relations, I’m super excited about the bike scene. Absolutely. So I remember firing off an email back to that person and just, you know, really selling myself like, Oh my gosh, I totally want to do this, just sign me up. So they gave me the gig. And so for that was like April 2005. So that was my first sort of experience with seeing my stuff published on the internet. And basically, I would email this person, a few paragraphs about something I did on my bike or some reflection I had about the bike community. And then a couple hours later, it would appear on Oregon live, which was the Oregonian’s old website. And I just thought that was amazing. It was super interesting to me, that whole process of publishing my stuff, and then documenting the local bike scene here. And then once that happened, I really got got into blogging, I was like it just something kind of shifted for me. And I also saw how blogs and sort of the democratisation of the internet and publishing in general, I also saw how that could impact my business as a PR person as a media person. And I started to realise that, you know, I would probably be helping clients start blogs and help clients start telling their story online and in different ways. So I just sort of dove headfirst into the whole online blogging world, and started researching it and, you know, reading up on it and joining a lot of blogs and just reading everything, basically. And so it wasn’t too long after I started doing it for the Oregonian doing this blog for the Oregonian that I realised how just how lacking their tools were like, basically, their whole, their whole format was just really kind of old school once I saw what was happening with typepad, and and blogspot and these other tools that I could just have a few clicks and have my own blog. Right. So my gears started turning, like, you know, basically, why the heck would I do this for the county. And when I could just do it for myself. And I remember, there were a few back and forth where the folks that they were going in were asking me for advice in terms of like, what can we do to make our blog network better. And I was sending him emails with all these lists of things like here’s here’s what blogging is, like they didn’t even have permalinks people couldn’t comment on our blog post back in those early days. And I was getting frustrated that this new bike blog that I started for them, you know, was sort of being saddled by not having the latest tools that I was reading about online. So once I realised that you know they weren’t gonna start

Jonathan Maus 15:00
To take my advice and improve their own blogs on the Oregonians website, I just was like, I’m out of here, you know, so it only did that for a couple months. And then I, you know, like I said, clicked a few times found WordPress, and got a domain just on a whim, I got thinking I might want to be a nonprofit, or I just liked how it sounded. And so that was it, paid $9.99 for the domain, and in July of 2005, started publishing stuff on bikeportland.

Carlton Reid 15:30
And then the design hasn’t changed much.

Jonathan Maus 15:35
It’s really funny. I mean, it, it hasn’t really changed a ton. I mean, I got a free theme. And this is something that you know, Carlton, once they started doing by Portland for several years, and people were paying me pretty good money to advertise on it. I always thought to myself, man, you know, like, I got the mayor calling me I’m getting you know, several $100 ads from people for these banners. And I don’t really have any overhead. I mean, I’m paid, you know, I got a free free design. Basically, I got a domain for $9 a year. And I’m publishing this stuff. I mean, it was just so amazing to me. And I always felt like how that was always so exciting to me that that could happen. So yeah, it’s basically the and I’m still didn’t get this. But I’m still basically using the same theme that I started with in 2005, which, which I think you could laugh that but it also shows you the sort of, you know, how how good of a tool WordPress is and sort of the power of the internet in terms of some guy who at some point, created this theme and put it out on the internet for free. Now, I have to say that I’ve also spent, you know, 1000s of dollars, with web people to tweak it and make it work and make it seem like theme stable and all that stuff. But for the most part, it looks the same.

Jonathan Maus 16:38
And we can get to that later in terms of like, you know, that’s one thing that I talked about with my investor here was, you know, paying for the massive sort of finally getting a massive update and upgrade to the site. So it looks a lot different.

Carlton Reid 16:50
And we will get on to that fantastic news. And it was like, you kind of mean I subscribed to your newsletter, the kind of the insider bikeportland newsletter, you send it every week. So you had this news last week. Just fantastic. And then you sent me another one this week. And I thought I must talk to Jonathan about that. So we’ll get onto that. However, I wanted. I know this because I have been there. And I’ve seen this with my own eyes. And I was just as as you were, I was just blown away when I saw the bike culture in Portland, which is which is something to behold. But for those people who haven’t been to by born perhaps even I haven’t even come across this, this these cultures. Let’s go through them one by one. So I think you kind of mentioned the Sprockettes first, you’ve got a dance troupe or you had a dance troupe? So So

Jonathan Maus 17:38

Carlton Reid 17:40
Tell me about that first. Now we’ll go through each of these little cultural things.

Jonathan Maus 17:45
Right, so so there was a group called the zoo bombers, which were people who would take the Max which is our light rail, and they would catch it, you know, downtown, and they would ride it to the top of this hill that we have, which is right up above Portland, it’s where the Rose Garden is, it’s where the zoo is, right. So it’s a hill right next to downtown Portland. And at some point, someone realised would be fun to take little kids bike, so you know, 16 inch wheels, and they would all pile on the light rail line, the max, and they would pay a buck or whatever, actually, let’s be honest, they didn’t pay, they’d go up there. And again, they met at 11 at night, let’s say right, so it’s a nighttime thing, they go up to the top of this hill, they hike their bikes up to the very, very top in this beautiful park. And they hang out, they get to know one another, you know, maybe haven’t have a beverage or two or whatever. And then they get on their bikes, they walk over to the road. Again, it’s pitch black on their underrun Mini mini bikes. And they would just bomb down the hill. And it’s a really fun downhill, these are sharp corners, narrow roads, really steep, and they would end up back where back at the light rail stop, and then they take the train back to the top. And this became this became like a religion for people. I mean, they would do it every Sunday, you know where to meet in the same way that a critical mass what happened in a city, if you’re in to bike stuff, you know, bike stuff, you could rely on it, you know, there’d be people there, you know, you’d see the same faces there. And these people started to build, you know, really strong bonds and sort of grow the group. And it became a real, it became a real thing. You know, you’d see, BBC did a video on that one point, you know, sort of starts getting attention, right. It’s very, very part of the sort of Portland weird ethic. And it created this whole community, obviously, right. So there were just dozens and dozens people that would show up and you could come in, if you’ve never done it before, they had a whole library of bikes down there, that they would loan out to you. So you could take one of these kids bike. So that was how Zoobombing sort of was established. And then there were there were women that were showing up. And sort of I guess at some point, some of the women thought, Well, hey, you know, what’s going on here, you know, we need to have kind of our own thing. And I think it was the history and again, I’m not, you know, it wasn’t like it’s necessarily inside that scene. So this is just what I’ve learned from knowing folks, but at some point, you know, the women brought up their own bikes, and then there was a party or some event where they ended up dancing on them anyway.

Jonathan Maus 20:00
So long story short, they created something called the Sprockettes, and this was an all female minibike dance team. And it’s just what it sounds like. They have the synchronised dances that they would do and they were all pink, by the way they would, you know, go to thrift stores and get dragged up pink clothing, you know, so think of pink fish nets and skirts and tank tops. And then they had their bikes all painted pink and these little kid bikes for the most part are or BMX bikes, and they would do these really fun dances. So 2005, 6, 7, there was an annual big annual event here that they would do. And then they start getting booked out at tonnes of events. So this becomes a real thing. And they have practices. And anyway, it’s just wonderful. At one point, my wife joined and we went out New Belgium brewing, paid, paid the Sprockettes to go on do a tour all through the West Coast, and got them a bus. And they went and did the New Belgium Tour de Fat events. They were real, really amazing group and just the most wonderful people you could ever imagine. So that was really fun. But that was the Sprockettes. So just try to imagine a city in a culture where something like that could could exist. And there’s all sorts of other ancillary things around you know, the Sprockettes that made them possible just this all kinds of different groups and, and bike clubs and things that were happening.

Carlton Reid 21:14
Was it is it the coalescing of like the keep Portland weird vibe, which is, which is kind of is the city is famous for? and a growing bike culture? Were they feeding off each other? What How come it started like this?

Jonathan Maus 21:31
Yeah, it’s really important. I mean, it didn’t just come out of nowhere. I mean, Portland had a legacy for cycling that I think is definitely unmatched in America. I mean, 70s 80s, you know, in the 80s, we had our mayor biking to work. And there we had, you know, huge Bike to Work festivals in the 80s downtown and just amazing buy in, you know, one of the leading congressmen in the US, you know, United States Congressman Earl Blumenauer, was, you know, previously in charge of transportation in Portland. And, you know, in the late 80s, early 90s, really ushered in, you know, definitely Portland’s era of being the leading cycling city in America and got the first bike lanes the first blue bike lane. So this was a city in Portland here that, you know, you know, we fought, we fought a freeway project, we were the first city to say no to the federal government expanding, you know, a freeway here and building a freeway in you know, giving a bunch of federal subsidy people secure, organised and said, No, let’s invest that money in light rail. So this is a very progressive city when it when it came to transportation. So that’s sort of the legacy that all this culture was really built on, you had, bicycling was just sort of like in the mix here, it was always in the water. And you have this, you know, this travelling, this travelling thing came through here in like 2003, it was called bike summer, and it had gone went to several different cities on the west coast, Vancouver, Los Angeles, other places, and the people that organise that thought it was so much fun that they wanted to keep it going. And I think that was really sort of the the big genesis of a lot of the sort of creative bike culture in Portland. And once you know, 2004 came around, we kept that festival going. And then it was just off to the races. And we had all sorts of interesting, interesting things happening around cycling here.

Carlton Reid 23:08
Interesting, you also mentioned before the jousting,

Carlton Reid 23:13
the tall bikes, the pedal palooza, describe some of that, because it’s some of the people are the same, and some of the people are different.

Jonathan Maus 23:21
Yeah, so just like any healthy cultural ecosystem, you know, people start forming groups, and then people spin off of those groups and spin off of those groups on want to do their own thing. So, you know, we had a group called like Chunk 666, which would have this, it was this really interesting, sort of underground secretive group that had a ‘zine. And they had this big annual thing called the Chunkathalon. And these are people in their garage, tinkering together with welding torches, putting together huge chopper bikes, or just, you know, bikes with three frames welded to each other. So you have to basically climb way up and you’re super tall. And if this chunk catalogue, they would have just these really remarkable in really wild events, where they would be, you know, there would be tonnes of people around and they would, you know, the main attraction was jousting. So they would get these huge poles and on the end of the pole, they’d have like a boxing glove or some other implement, and they would just pedal at each other. And these tall bikes as fast as they could in the person fell over last and the person who stayed up right one, but of course, around the edge, you have hundreds of people throwing beer cans, and, you know, you know, baby plastic baby doll heads and food, and it was just this, you know, fires being lit, some of the bikes were lit on fire themselves. So yeah, that was one part of it. You know, there was another whole group of clowns. There were actual, you know, clowns that would go around and do clowning. And they would, they always had bikes involved with them, there was this house where they would all meet, and every Thursday there was a street festival, one part of town, and there would be a bunch of really creative things happening there around biking, so and the Sprockettes would show up right so and then you have things like you know, pedal Palooza, which is really kind of the engine, which was this several week event where anybody can put a bike event on it on this sort of community.

Jonathan Maus 25:00
The calendar and it really encouraged people to leave their own rides. And that that I think, is probably the most important part of Portland’s bike culture. And this year in 2021, it’s going strong. It’s three months long this year. So it started as a as a as a two week thing. And we were talking 300, 400 events. At the height of pedal Palooza, there’s there could be 10 events in one day, we’re talking every day of the week. And this is everything from let’s go visit a bunch of bakeries on our bikes to let’s all wear the colour teal, and just just go to the park and take pictures of ourselves wearing funny costumes, a lot of them are dance party rides, where you have different DJs. And there’ll be a theme maybe there’s a big one, one of the biggest rides is called Prince versus Bowie, where one faction is Bowie fans with the big speaker system. One faction is both, you know, Prince fans, and they’re all dressed up, like the artist and go through the town, playing music and stopping at parks and other places to to dance and you know, just hang out. So if that’s that’s not even touching the surface of the amazing rides coming up this week, there’s going to be a bike play where a local theatre group has a bike themed theatre act that they go do in different sets around town and hundreds of people will follow them on their bikes to these different scenes in the play that they will act out live. So it’s really amazing outpouring of just creativity. And it’s all centred around cycling, and everybody’s on a bike. And so that’s kind of this environment that has really existed through all these changes in all these years in Portland, and is still going strong today. I’m really happy to say.

Carlton Reid 26:31
So Jonathan, when Yeah, that that description, and it absolutely marries with what I’ve seen. And it’s just it’s unbelievable to see. And it’s fantastic. But do you think there are some people who are attracted by that and become, you know, cyclists, people on bikes? But by the same token, there are some people who who might have become cyclists but thought, ‘Oh, God, I can’t become one of those people.’ Do you think it has a you know, a yin and a yang here?

Jonathan Maus 26:59
Well, I don’t want people to get the wrong idea, when I was just describing are just some of the sort of like, you know, some of the, you know, some of the subculture groups, a lot of this cultural stuff is really broadly appealing. I mean, we have cargo bike groups, we have family biking groups, and we have a critical mass that’s really popular. So it’s really there’s stuff going on that attracts all different types of people. But yeah, I think what happened in the early aughts, so 2006, 7, 8, when this cultural stuff was really front and centre, and it was, you know, bikeportland was really just coming on strong, we’re getting a lot of attention for the bike culture here. It did, I think, probably turned some people off, because the focus was really these subculture groups. And I think a lot of people looked at that and said, Well, I don’t want to go get naked. I mean, we have the largest naked right in the world, hands down. I think at one point, they counted, you know, 17,000 people 12,000 15,000. it shut the city down. It was so big, and so naked and amazing, right. And that’s what I think a lot of people looked at the sort of the, quote unquote, cycling culture in Portland. And they saw, you know, grown women wearing pink skirts dancing with their bikes, they saw naked people they saw, you know, clowns on tall bikes, but that that never really was the full picture, but it had an outsized impact on what people thought about the bike culture. So I think it ultimately probably did turn some people off or it allowed people to have this caricature of the bike culture in Portland that that wasn’t really true. It just happened to be the one that made the most noise. And I think, you know, if you fast forward several years, the bike scene here evolved a lot and has gotten away from a lot of that stuff. I mean, the zoo bombers are basically don’t exist, the Sprockettes, basically not around anymore, pedal Palooza is going strong, but many of these groups have sort of faded out. A lot of people are married now and have jobs and you know, moved away or moved to houses right. A lot of the people that powered a lot of these early groups, it was definitely a cultural phase. So and that was part of it is so things change so much in the bike culture and advocacy scene has evolved considerably. So it was weird for me as being someone who’s documenting all these groups and documenting all this interesting stuff. And it really in some ways really powered a lot of what made Bike Portland I think special was covering showing photos of things on bikes that people never really seen. And then once those things evolved and went away well it was kind of like well then what does bikeportland do then you know, how does it continue to evolve? So we can get on to this next one? I jumped the gun there though.

Carlton Reid 29:23
Well, I kind of want I want to I want to keep to this topic about the kind of the culture or and you’re right there’s it’s very broad culture. It’s not just the pedal Palooza or the Zoobombers is up there is that the critical mass and there is the cargo bike culture. Yeah, I know that. But anybody from the outside, say in Europe, who is into bikes and and perhaps has come across bikeportland as one of the major advocacy, stroke, blog, news, whatever

Carlton Reid 29:54
place to go to see will assume that if they landed in Portland, it’ll be like Amsterdam.

Carlton Reid 30:00
And that every single person, you know, every second person at least, will be on a bicycle. Yet it’s not like that. So tell us about the actual mode share of cycling in Portland?

Jonathan Maus 30:13
Yeah, it’s definitely not not like that at all. I think there was a time between 2005 and 2008, where we had our biggest increases in bicycling mode share. And people should know that for an American city, we’re number one, in terms of mode. Sure, we’ve definitely plateaued, we’ve even lost a little bit. But in terms of big, you know, relatively big, I think we’re one of the top 20 cities in terms of size courses, college towns, where people bike more, but I’m talking, you know, real major metropolitan cities in America, the more people bike to work according to the official data than any other city.

Jonathan Maus 30:48
But it’s America, and that that number means that you’re only at six or 7%, which is really sad, right? When you compare it to the 35% or so in real cycling cities, like Amsterdam, Copenhagen. So yeah, it doesn’t feel like that when you get here, there are streets and places in the morning peak in the afternoon peak after work, that you could see a lot of traffic. But of course, now we don’t even have those commuting peaks because of what happened with COVID. And everybody’s travel patterns are so much different. Um, yeah. So, you know, there was a moment when there was a lot of optimism, and I think that’s part of the Portland biking story. It’s certainly part of the bikeportland story is the first several years of this site when I was doing all these things, and posting all these stuff. And ite just felt like there was this cultural moment, that was super exciting. I think I felt like we would get there, I felt like we were on our way to having 30% mode share. I mean, it was just a foregone conclusion, in my mind. I mean, there was such optimism, I had such confidence. We had someone who was in the mayor’s office, who was a great bike champion, someone who I knew really well, and we did stuff with when the as they were coming up through the ranks, and they got elected mayor in 2008. And we thought, I mean, I thought and I think I sort of have always sort of reflected a lot of the community’s you know, feelings, and in a way, which is, it’s on like, we’re going to get there, we’re going to get 20% 30%. And then we’re gonna have something even more special than Copenhagen, and Amsterdam, because, you know, over there, they like to say, oh, biking is just like a vacuum cleaner. Everybody has one. And I always think that’s just super boring. You know, it’s too bad for them. They don’t have any creative, fun culture, they don’t celebrate cycling. And my thing was always, you know, Portland’s going to have both, we’re going to have the wonderful cultural celebrations of cycling and the fun around it, and all the community around it. And we’re going to have the mode split, to match those other places where you do leave your house and everybody’s on a bike. Unfortunately, it didn’t go that way. The culture has to a large degree has, you know, that moment is over. Our trajectory on mode split is certainly plateaued, if not, you know, stagnated plateaued and is dipped a little bit. So, you know, we find ourself in 2021 in a much different place than I would have expected if you talk to me in 2010.

Carlton Reid 32:57
Hmm, you talked about the 1970s and the 1980s. And carrying through into the 2000s,

Carlton Reid 33:05
for how bikeportland became or sorry, how Portland became a city that could then have a publication such as bike portland. But in my book, Bike Boom, I did talk about how there was you can almost go back to the 1880s 1890s. And and when the streets were first laid down in Portland, which, which is also a factor. So Portland is different to many other American cities because of its street structure.

Jonathan Maus 33:38
So right. Yeah, there are there, there are a lot of factors in that. And that’s true, that one of the coolest things about Portland is this map that I have in my kitchen, I’ve got a I’ve also got down here in my office. It’s an 1896 map of cycling routes in Portland 1896. Produced by it was printed by a local bike club in 1896. That was, you know, almost two decades, maybe 15 years, at least, before the first car was sold in Portland, we had an established map that lists taverns, and everything, it’s got all the best routes, you know, the street I live on is almost right on that map in 1896, as a biking route. So yeah, and then that, that that same sort of grid, you know, was was further sort of, like, you know, solidified with the fact that we had a really strong streetcar network later than a lot of other cities did. And we never broke that grid. We’ve had a boundary around this city, in terms of how growth can happen. So a lot of the same progressive transportation stuff I talked about earlier. We also had very progressive land use policies and development policies. Something people around here is very, very proud of. And that meant, yes, that we had, for a long time, we had a grid of streets, relatively small blocks, you know, that means when I say a grid of streets, I mean you can get on a street and know it’s going to go across town without having to jog all around. So those things definitely helped. Helped or factored in to

Jonathan Maus 35:00
Making us sort of more of a bike city.

Jonathan Maus 35:04

Carlton Reid 35:07
yesterday, we had the IPCC

Carlton Reid 35:10
climate change report,

Carlton Reid 35:13
which has got to be heeded, one would hope, by world leaders. So you may have

Carlton Reid 35:23
thought that you’re not going to get that mode share till recently, but maybe with that report with Cop26, in Glasgow in November, with the world actually finally waking up to the fact that we have got to get rid of fossil fuel technology, electric cars, even if they came on stream, you know, in the next 20 to 30 years, and even if everybody went on to getting electric cars, which we know is pretty much a pipe dream anyway. But even if that didn’t happen, it still wouldn’t solve stuff. So we have got to change the way because we know transport is one of the you know, at least 25% of emissions is transport. And an awful lot of that is road transport. So are you now maybe more optimistic after news like yesterday that something could change? Or do you think people will absolutely bed down and the mode shares you’ve got now are pretty much the mode shares you’re gonna have in 20 years time?

Jonathan Maus 36:19
Yeah, I mean, it’s a mix, I am still optimistic that our mode change can tick back up, and we can, you know, kind of get back to that trajectory that I was so excited about back in the, you know, 2008, 2010 era. Absolutely, if I, if I wasn’t optimistic, it would be hard to continue doing bikeportland have gotta hold out some hope that we can get there. You know, and that gets back to part of the cultural mill you sort of Portland in Portlanders, is that there, there is a tremendous, deep will of activism here in people that, you know, don’t necessarily tune out in situations like this, but they turn out, they go out into the street, they form groups, they join activists in organisations and stuff like that. So I think the climate report is going to hit everybody, you know, everybody’s going to be solid for a few days here and figure out what they’re going to do. But I think ultimately, it’s going to, it’s going to definitely increase urgency of the pressure on local leaders to do stuff. And we’re getting close there. I think, you know, unfortunately, Portland has, in a lot of ways forgotten about cycling, it’s kind of a big thing that’s happened for the last decade, for various reasons, that, you know, the whole conversation around why Portland is sort of forgotten about cycling. But I think you know, it’s going to come back, you can’t keep it down. Cycling is it’s everybody has a bike in their garage here. They’re just waiting to use it, they’re waiting to dust it off and be given the chance to do it in a safe way, in a convenient way. And that’s not that’s not going to change, those bikes aren’t going to vanish. So people love doing love biking here, it’s always been a bike city, and always will be. But it’s going to take some shifts, right, we’re gonna have to not just keep striping, you know, unpainted unprotected bike lanes, while we continue to make driving as easy as it is and easier. We’ve got to actually, you know, do more stuff to discourage driving, which I think the city is doing and the region’s doing, they’re just not doing it fast enough. I think that’s the big new tension is the pace of change. You know, if I’m a politician, I could list off a tonne of things that I’m doing on to to make transport, you know, burn less emissions, a huge, long list, that would sound great. Unfortunately, it’s not enough, right. So it’s about pace of change, and activists and people on the ground want it to happen a lot faster than any politician I’ve seen, really has been willing to stand up and, you know, deem it so, so that

Carlton Reid 38:42
Hold that thought, if you’re if if I was gonna make you, the transport Commissioner, whatever the role would be that would knock heads together and would change. You know, somehow I was able to just know, maybe President Biden comes along and says right cities, you’re going to have to appoint

Carlton Reid 39:00
really good, green minded transport commissioners next week. And you amazingly, were freed because of what the things we’re going to talk about soon. To become that transport Commissioner, you weren’t able to do stuff you were able to boost bikeshare important. How would you do it? Give me your one, 5, 10 year plans, please?

Jonathan Maus 39:24
Well, I think I mean, there’s a lot of things. I mean, you know, there’s got to be a way to sort of up the speed with which we do projects we’ve already agreed to. If you’re talking about one year, five year 10 year, you know, we’ve got a lot the city has a lot of great projects in the pipeline that just are taking too long to get out onto the street for various reasons. And I think by political fiat, someone should be able to stand up and say, okay, whatever paperwork, you know, being problematic, whatever permitting is being problematic. We need to up the urgency on this new bike path or on this new road redesign because of climate change because this is urgent because it’s an emergency. So right there. You

Jonathan Maus 40:00
You could quit, you could speed up a lot of things were already doing. I mean, the other big thing is, you know, stop waiting for super expensive big capital projects and just do quicker things with, you know, concrete barricades. And you can easily go out, what I would do is just do an audit of the central city, let’s say and some of the all the different town centre notes. So even out further away from the central city, audit, the bigger streets, everywhere, we don’t need the excess capacity for driving, of which there are dozens and hundreds of lane miles of just streets that we allow people to drive in that become de facto no go zones, if you’re on a bike, because you’re afraid, you could just stick those into a database, spit out a report. And then you go over to those streets, and you’ve got 1000s of concrete barriers, and you just start, start laying them out and you create mobility lanes, we have to get away from thinking of bike lanes, and, you know, transit, we need to make mobility lanes, in addition to transit lanes, but let’s say mobility lanes, where it’s people walking, it’s it’s scooters, and any other electric device that’s out there. Hoverboards, you know, one wheels, you know, self balancing, unicycles, electric bikes, bikes, there are so many new vehicle types that are just waiting to be used, that aren’t bikes and aren’t walking in our cars, we need to find space, so you you cordoned off a bunch of lane miles of road all around the city, with with concrete barriers, again, that’s a central right now the city is still painting, they’re still painting bike lanes with no protection, that those are useless, people will not use those. And or they put out plastic posts, which are almost useless, and people run into them. And they’re doing, they don’t look nice. And those don’t inspire people either. What inspires people is concrete, you need actual physical barriers. So if we created the whole network of those, and we were strategic about connecting residential areas to destination areas, you would see a massive amount of people get out and start riding. And once people start riding and walking and using their scooters, then you can just basically do whatever you want, because you have this sort of constituencies there. And then the politics changes, right, then you have a lot of people who are worried about taking space away from drivers, all that goes away. And we just we haven’t done those things. And I’m convinced if we even did one of them, if we did one physically protected, really convenient direct route from a major residential area to a major work and destination area, it would, it would just make advocating for the stuff so much easier, because I can guarantee that it would be flooded with people that weren’t driving, it would give everybody something to look at point to and say, See, that’s what we’ve been yelling and screaming about all these years. And that you the city have been so timid and so afraid to do for a long list of reasons, oh, your engineer sake, it doesn’t work. Oh, the drivers will be mad. Oh, the business associations were all these things, all those who melt away? And people go, Oh, I’m absolutely assured of that. And it’s frustrating that, you know that that still hasn’t happened. I mean, a lot of times, you know, I’m definitely I’m definitely a journalist and a media person first and foremost. But the every time I talk about this, I get so frustrated. And I just think Gosh, what maybe I should just go full, full bore into, you know, joining an advocacy crew for something because it makes me so mad. But I also think it’s important to have someone independent and have media so that so so that’s where I am.

Carlton Reid 40:12
Mmm, and let’s get on to that. But first of all, let’s go across to David, who will talk about our show sponsor, take it away, David.

David Bernstein 43:21
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Carlton Reid 44:46
Thanks, David. And we are back with Jonathan Maus, and Jonathan is now going to talk about I’m gonna ask him about the good news that he told his his newsletter recipients last week.

Carlton Reid 45:00
So Jonathan you’ve had an investment.

Jonathan Maus 45:02
Okay, yeah, 16 years in, and I’ve got my first seed funding. So funny. But yeah, so I got, I guess I basically sold part of bikeportland. So through all these years, I basically made this thing survive with smoke and mirrors, it’s never really afforded me the ability to pay myself much at all, or, you know, do any of the stuff like have retirement or any kind of health insurance or that sort of thing. So, finally, you know, I had someone in the community step up after I made a mention of an enewsletter, about how I wanted to invest in some new things to do video and other other things, but I couldn’t afford the equipment. So somebody long story short, stepped up and said, hey, how much do you How much do you need, and this is a wonderful person, that community who wants to support media that they think is pushing for the stuff they believe in, in this case, the person is, you know, really, like, like we said before, wants to, wants to take that, that that line up of, you know, fighting climate change, and getting more people to bike and, and all that stuff. So this person wanted to invest in by Portland, because, hey, they know that operations like like bikeportland, basically can’t survive otherwise. And it’s true. You know, without this investor,

Jonathan Maus 46:14
I don’t know if I would even be talking to you today. I mean, it gets, in some ways, it gets better and more exciting and easier to keep going every year, because you’ve been around so long. But in but in other ways, and other real sort of real life ways. It became harder and harder for me to justify, basically my life’s work without, without enough compensation, without enough financial security, and without enough ability to build it into what I want to build it to. I mean, when I was going back and forth with my investor, all he was doing was talking about things I wanted to do for the site. And at one point, I remember, you know, I think you mentioned something and basically was kind of trying to needle me a little bit and say, I think there’s something else here. And I and I was honest, and said, there is something else there. And that’s the fact that you know, I need to get a raise, and I need to make sure that my family can can breathe a little easier, and that my wife doesn’t have to be, you know, wondering what the hell I’m doing all the time, you know, devoting so much of my life to this to this work. So that’s part of it, too. And so now it’s up. Now that’s the fun part, fun and hard part had sort of a honeymoon of being excited about it. That’s, that’s already blown over. I’m actually now I’m in the phase of really trying to build and trying to do right, by that investment and take Bike Portland sort of to its next next chapters.

Carlton Reid 47:35
So that investor is Mike Perham.

Jonathan Maus 47:39
Yeah, so So. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 47:41
So he’s made his money from software development. And I looked on it on Twitter, you’ve got called Sidekick means the things I don’t know about, but I’m sure people who are into into certain types of software know what Sidekick is, I think he was saying he’s just got his 100 millionth download. Yeah. So he’s, he’s was he he appears to be from his life profile. He appears to be like a transportation cyclist. Yeah. So he’s, he was basically a reader of yours?

Jonathan Maus 48:08
Yeah, Mike’s been a reader for a while he’s, he’s funded the site in the past, you know, he would, he was he was a person who I kind of knew from Twitter, and I just seen his name and email or two. And then he would, he would send a cheque in just randomly out of the blue, you know, pretty sizable cheque. And I always do a double take and be like, wow, this Mike guy really loves the site. This is fantastic. Let me send them, you send them a postcard say thank you.

Jonathan Maus 48:30
And so we really, you know, we really aligned. I mean, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t work with just any investor, for sure. And but you know, Mike, he was just sort of perfect. I mean, we really aligned. He’s an open source software person, he, he never got into the software biz to make a tonne of money. He did it because he loved it. And he wanted to help people do things. And it just so happens that, you know, some of the software he wrote was very, very useful to a number of people. And it’s been it’s valuable. So there you go, he made enough money now where he wants to help help the things that he that he loves. And yeah, I’ll, I’ll never forget when he just said to me, you know, he knew he knows that. He knows what Bike Portland is going through. He’s also a newsie. He’s a news junkie. And he understands that, you know, for instance, in America, well, even even where you live, Carlton, there are a lot of people that fund the media. And depending on who has the most money, a lot of times that media is going to be stronger, it’s going to be able to spread its message more in America, we have a huge problem with that, you know, disinformation and media that’s very partisan. And Mike intentionally wanted to put money into media for that reason, because he knows without without his help, bikeportland couldn’t survive, because there’s just no model for for what bikeportland does. It doesn’t make sense financially. And I’ve I’ve certainly felt that that’s one of the reasons why I was getting to a point of very high stress because all of our advertising is gone. You know, that that’s all goes to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook or or, you know, wherever local businesses are putting their money these days, they’re not spending money on bikeportland like they used to, and so we’ve had to rely on

Jonathan Maus 50:00
individuales subscribers, which is great. But that’s if you want to build a business. And you don’t have the ability to have 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of subscribers, which is kind of a chicken and egg. I mean, people want to see really great content and really, really amazing things from the media provider in order for them to subscribe, but you can’t create that stuff unless you have a lot of money to have reporters. And, you know, so it’s chicken and egg. So, you know, I couldn’t rely just on our great subscribers. So something had to give and take it was Mike, it was Mike. Mike had to get so yeah.

Carlton Reid 50:30
Is Mike hands on or hands off?

Jonathan Maus 50:32
Mike is hands off Absolutely. You know, we we talked, we talked really carefully about that. He he he doesn’t have any, there’s no return technically, right that he has to get, he does own a share of the bike of the pedal town media stuff, which is our parent company, he does own a share of the company. But there’s no sort of like, you know, number that he has to get back technically, in order to you know, where he’s going to pull out kind of thing. So

Jonathan Maus 50:59
he wants to see change happen. He trusts me, because he knows Bike Portland, and he knows what I’ve been putting into it all these years. And we’re just gonna have to see, you know, where that goes to see does he re up. And you know, the next when the year comes up, I’ve already had a conversation with another investor that you know, Mike and I’ve talked about, so someone else after they saw the news about the bikeportland getting an equity investment, someone else in the community stepped up and said, Hey, I’m interested. So I’ve been talking to that person. So it’s, it’s a different, it’s a different era for bikeportland. Now I’m trying to, I’m talking to people to help with the site and do different things. I’ve hired someone to do to do some stuff. And I’ve got a freelance budget. And I’ve upped our game in some other ways. And it’s just going to be a continuation of that now, including the site redesign, despite Yes,

Jonathan Maus 51:48
although, that was another person who was a bit nervous, I probably was a really great web web person who’s who’s does all my tech stuff in my WordPress design. And I was able to email him and say, Hey, you don’t have to worry about the big upgrade and redesign now because we’re good for it.

Jonathan Maus 52:03
And then tell us about the hires than that you’ve made. So because it’s pretty I mean, when I was, you can hear my dog. Sorry, When, when, when I was last in Portland you had Michael was doing, like, reporting for you. So have you got somebody like Michael?

Carlton Reid 52:19
Not really, I have a different person. There’s nobody really like Michael, he’s moved on. Now. That’s gonna be the next person I’m going to be looking for. But what I’ve done is I’ve hired someone named Maritza Arango. She’s really fantastic. The first person I ended up hiring was someone to do like events. So events editor is the position and it’s someone who is, you know, making sure our calendar, our events calendar is full with all the penalties, events, and all the other things that are going on. Because I think a Community Calendar is a real value add that, like Portland can provide. This is a calendar that has, you know, everything on and not just bike rides, but advocacy meetings and everything. So that’s one of her main tasks. But Maritza has also been doing like some social media stuff, and she’s helping me with some of the design things. So yeah, I’m just trying to hire you know, smart people that can that can add value to the site and take some load off me and thinking about everything and having to do everything on my own. But the next hire, I think the big one that’s really going to change the game is going to be more of like an editor position, someone who can be a reporter who knows the issue pretty well, who can go out, get a story, talk to people, you know, do do real reporting. I mean, that’s, that’s always been sort of the bread and butter in some ways of bikeportland is that we can actually do real reporting, that that compares that and competes and compares with the local, the other local media outlets, you know, for our topic for these mobility, and transportation topics. So, you know, when I can find someone like that, if I can find someone like that, that’s going to be huge, because that takes as you know, doing reporting, and doing it right and meeting people’s expectations, which after 16 years are really, really high, Bike Portland really can’t make mistakes. And Bike Portland, you know, people just expect a certain depth, but it’s increasingly difficult to deliver on that depth. If it’s just me, because you know, my, I have a million other things, I need to do that with the site and managing things. So the ability to you know, talk to five sources for an article and, and take a day or two to write something which you know, for most reporters, they’ll take a week probably to do a story if not longer, but my average is probably an hour or two. So that doesn’t really, that doesn’t really work. When when you have the committee looking at you saying, Hey, we really want to, you know, change the narrative, we need you to hold this group accountable. And this agency accountable, that takes work and it’s going to take finding someone and paying them a good rate to keep them around. So once Lincoln have someone like that, it’s going to really, really up our game and change things a lot.

Carlton Reid 54:35
So when you’re talking about some of the things that you think you were doing there, I was thinking like the UK context, and that is we’ve got like, advocacy organisations like in Cambridge cycling campaign, for instance, would be the second biggest campaigning org in the UK and then you’ve got the London cycling campaign again. So it’s all of the things that you’re doing will be coalesced

Carlton Reid 55:00
To bodies with with a reasonable number of volunteers for a start, and then paid staff members, both those organisations have got paid staff members. And it’s like an advocate. They don’t need a Jonathan Maus to hold them together. You know, they they kind of exist above and beyond, you know, a person. So is that something that you think

Carlton Reid 55:29
bikeportland can grow into?

Carlton Reid 55:30
I’m not saying for any second that you’re going to be disappearing, and going away, but just is that written is it needs if this is going to continue in 50 years time? It needs to be not just you?

Jonathan Maus 55:43
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I definitely see that that’s what I want to for not just reasons of my own, you know, mental and physical health, but, um, because of who I am, I mean, I’m a white middle aged homeowner, got, you know, I’m just like this classic person who has sort of, you know, controlled and handled things for a long time. And that is really limiting. That puts up some red flags for me in terms of like, what’s like Portland’s perspective? How do we make decisions about what we cover and how we cover? And that’s limiting? So that’s another big reason why I do actually want to not be as involved. And yeah, it would be great if I could, you know, right now I have my eyes really on you’re 20. I’ve always, I’ve always been this way I was I was really looking forward to your 10. We had a big party, it was a real momentous thing. We launched I think we launched our subscription programme at 10. I forgetting now. But anyway, we all have always had these milestones and 10 was a huge one for me, we got there and we push through 15 was not quite as exciting just because it’s not as round of a number. But the 20 year mark is going to be or I should say, 2020, you know, the 20 year mark of doing this, which would be I guess, 2025. So your 20 is going to be a big thing for me. And I’m really already looking at that as saying, okay, that’s when everything is going to be in the vision that I have right now in terms of what bikeportland is, and I hope by that time, I’m definitely just like, you know, this old codger in the background, who’s, you know, maybe writing an opinion every now and again, or blasting some agency, but I’d love to just see it, you know, being great and happening, you know, without me at that point.

Carlton Reid 57:11
Like a Mark Sani type figure, if anybody who doesn’t know Mark Sani, he’s like the guy that co founded bicycle retailer, the trade magazine in the US, and now just write a grumpy old column in the back

Jonathan Maus 57:22
or do something else. I mean, there’s so many other things to do, you know, I’ve got I’ve got my kids and my family and stuff. I’ve never just have not given enough attention to compare to this this work. So you know, that’s another that’s another big part of it. I’ll have probably grandkids by then. So.

Carlton Reid 57:37
So in year 20, which is four years away, is that right? Yeah. How old would you be?

Jonathan Maus 57:45
Oh, let’s see. I’d be 50 years old.

Carlton Reid 57:48
Oh, that’s a big milestone. So that’s like a 50. And a.

Jonathan Maus 57:52

Carlton Reid 57:53
okay. Yeah, I can I can see why.

Jonathan Maus 57:55

  1. Yeah, it just hit me as I said that, too. So shoot, I’ve got I’ve got for four years now to really get this thing dialled in. So the clock is ticking.

Carlton Reid 58:06
That’s cool. So tell us about apart from the hire that you made, and maybe the changes cuz you’ve got a podcast now. So your your competition all of a sudden. So tell us about the podcast? what’s what’s going to be on the podcast? How often is going to come out? What are you doing?

Jonathan Maus 58:24
Yeah, so the Bike Portland podcast, we actually had one back in, I believe, is 2015 2016, you know, couple dozen episodes. When I had Michael Anderson and Lillian Karabaic, another friend was producing it. For us. It was It was great. I thought we had a good podcast, but they moved on. And kind of the story bikeportland is I didn’t have sort of the money and the ability to keep them around and sort of pay them. So they moved on to doing other great things. And I just had to let the podcast just, you know, phase out. So here I am trying to restarting it. So last month, I restarted it back on my own. And in the meantime, of course, there’s lots of new tools. And the sort of delivery methods of podcasts have gotten a lot easier and better. And everybody’s doing it, of course now. So I relaunched it. And it’s been really great. I’m starting out by just interviewing folks in the community that I think are interesting, or have something important that needs to be shared. But that’s not where I see it going. I’d like to say do it much more often. I’d love to do it once a week. At this point, I’m probably maybe twice a month, hopefully. But what I want to see it evolve into is more of a news oriented podcast and less of a just interview podcast. And again, I don’t see myself as necessarily having to be the host. I’ve already talked to Maritza. She may do one. She’s from Bogota. She’s a native Spanish speaker. So I was hoping that she could maybe interview someone in Spanish. So it’s open to anybody that works for bikeportland. So it won’t always be me doing interviews. I kind of started with that just because it was comfortable and sort of easy for me to just talk to people and record it. But this news podcast is something I’ve really been thinking about a lot in terms of a vision where I want to share original audio, think of it like, I don’t know if you watch I mean, it’s more not necessarily a BBC style, more of like more of one of the cable news shows and in America like maybe Rachel Maddow

Jonathan Maus 1:00:00
Or something where, let’s say I would do an intro, but then I would share audio of like a local press conference or other local newsmaker saying something in a meeting meeting. And then I could, you know, comment, comment on that, and then maybe bring in a guest of recent news, and we would talk about that. So it’d be something that was definitely more relevant in terms of its timeliness, like something that happened a day or two, before we could record something, and the podcast would be more of a news podcast with no more analysis is something that just happened, that to me would be really the ultimate dream. And, and I think that really reflects kind of like some of my visions for bikeportland. In general, I mean, right now, with the amount of tools and how easy they are to use, and just the sort of digital publishing, you know, continuing revolution, all these 15 years, it’s so exciting, because I don’t think it would be that difficult for bikeportland to do, you know, live reporting, you know, remote broadcasts from places or, or even just, you know, turning around news stories and doing video of them. I mean, all that stuff’s really not that far away, it’s pretty close for even an outfit like bikeportland, with our extremely limited budget to do, once you have sort of that minimal equipment buy in, and you got enough skilled people to do it. I mean, you know, with Instagram, live, Facebook Live, right, all these different places to, you know, use our YouTube channel has about, you know, I think around four or 500 subscribers now. So that’s another channel for us, we can put that stuff out there, you know. So that’s what’s exciting to me right now about Bike Portland is that we’ve spent 16 years building all these different platforms. And now there’s the equipment and sort of ease of producing this kind of content, I think is improved so much. And it’s so exciting. Now, we seem to go out there and get the news and figure out how to package it in a way that’s really interesting and compelling and different, and sort of continues to like meet and exceed what people expect from bikeportland. If we do that, I think it can be a super exciting next couple of years.

Carlton Reid 1:01:48
And one of the strengths you’ve always had has been your fantastic photography. So I’ve always been impressed by the photographs you have on your site, and not just the photographs, but also like the galleries of photographs, you’re not just having one, you know, killer photograph, you can then dig down and get loads of photographs.

Jonathan Maus 1:02:05
I appreciate that. Thanks. Um, I mean that that was an intentional thing. I mean, I realised from an early, early, early time, and by Portland, that photographs was something that I can compete on, right, my Portland could actually compete with anyone on photography, I won’t say anyone sorry. I, you know, Reuters, and, you know, AP photographs and war zones, obviously. I mean, I’m still like, you know, sort of an amateur. But for the most part on the topic that we were, that we cared about in the community that bikeportland covers, we had images that impressed people and excited people. And I knew because I’ve been on the internet a very long time, and I understand how the internet works. If you do that kind of content, you have to impress people, people have to look at your stuff and go, Oh, that’s, that’s better. And I know that that’s different. That’s no one’s doing that. And no one was doing the type of photography of bike culture that bikeportland was doing when we first started doing it, right. So that was like an intentional thing that I realised, wow, this is how we can sort of stand and get people’s respect, and have people consider us as a real authoritative, you know, place for news. And that’s Yeah, now I’m trying to basically replicate what I did with still photographs I’m trying to do in audio content, whether it’s a podcast or otherwise, I’m trying to do that with video I’m trying to make, you know, news videos and other videos are helpful to the same level that we did our photographs so that people are impressed by them. And I think, you know, if, if I was able to do that, it’s gonna be pretty fantastic. We’re gonna keep people around. And as you know, the competitive environment online is extreme. It’s nothing like it was when I started when bikeportland started, we were really the only game in town on this topic. I mean, if you want to cool pictures of bike culture, and bike news and stuff, like be counted by Portland, that’s also why a lot of businesses gave us money to advertise, which they don’t know. And the competitive environments a lot different. Now everybody’s got their, you know, social media feeds with a lot of great content. So you’ve really got to, you’ve really got to bring it and that was kind of part of my pitch to to my to any investor, including Mike was like, Hey, you know, we’re competing with people’s established social media networks, where they’re seeing amazing videos and photographs from all their friends. How are we going to differentiate and add value to the community? If we don’t have great equipment, great reporters, super smart people on the cutting edge of what’s going on, we’re gonna have to deliver that to keep people around. And, you know, by pointless nothing if there’s no people around. So that’s what we do.

Carlton Reid 1:04:23
Jonathan, that’s been fascinating. Thanks very much. At this point in the show, I normally say, you know, where can people get in touch with you? What what’s, you know, websites, and we’ve been talking about that throughout the show. Is there anything where we could we could I mean, maybe your personal because you’re on Twitter as in your personal capacity as well as bikeportland. Yeah, so yeah, so this gives a bit give us a few places where they can get get your stuff.

Jonathan Maus 1:04:49
Well, people can most of the most personal stuff I do is on I was on twitter at @Jonathan_mas. So Jonathan underscore maus on Twitter is a good place

Jonathan Maus 1:05:00
to find some of my my stuff and it’s not personal, I don’t do a lot of dogs and family stuff. I do kind of keep it to the topic even on there. So I don’t do a lot of personal stuff online. I don’t do really Facebook or Instagram much personally because I don’t know it’s kind of like the cobbler, you know, has the worst cobblers family has the worst shoes, you know, like I’m on line all day. And so I don’t feel like doing that on my personal level.

Jonathan Maus 1:05:22
That’s the way to find me.

Carlton Reid 1:05:25
Thanks to Jonathan Maus there. And thanks to you for listening to the Spokesmen cycling podcast, show notes and more can be found on Our next show is a half hour chat with the founders of the upscale LeBlanq joy rides. That will be with you next week. But meanwhile, get out and ride

August 1, 2021 / / Blog

1st August 2021

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 278: Genetically redundant at 40: The Midlife Cyclist with Phil Cavell


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Phil Cavell

TOPICS: Talking with Cyclefit’s Phil Cavell, author of “The Midlife Cyclist.”


“The Midlife Cyclist,” by Phil Cavell.


Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to Episode 278 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Sunday, 1st August 2021.

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For shownotes links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the- And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:09
Hi there I’m Carlton Reid and welcome to today’s episode of the Spokesmen Cycling podcast brought to you in association with Jenson USA. Today’s show is a chat with Cyclefit’s co-founder Phil Cavell. We talk at length about his new and rather excellent book, the Midlife Cyclist. What’s it about? Grow old. Get fast. Don’t die, says a snappy line on the back cover. Now, I’m definitely midlife — the book defines that as plus-40 by the way — but I’m by no means an athlete so the book’s not aimed directly at me but I still discovered loads, including why pedalling circles – that’s often known by the French word souplesse — is cycling’s version of the flat earth theory. Here’s our chat.

Carlton Reid 2:15
I have got two pages of questions to ask you. Normally I don’t I kind of do free flowing stuff, I just do stuff off the top of my head. And but your book was fascinating. And I have made copious notes that i i would admit, I did get two books in the post very kindly, and one I have absolutely slaughtered with blue ink, which is terrible of me to mark a book. But it was fascinating and and we will get onto your book in a second because this is what we want to talk about stuff today. But before we do any of that, I just wanna ask you a bit about you and where you’ve you’ve come from so before we get to your your absolute expertise, let’s go backwards. And if it’s okay with you, when when we go through the chronology, before we even getting into your book, I would quite like to go into your crash, your spinal injury, and then from from what it said in the book, or what you read in the book was that was a big impetus for writing the book. So that’s that’s absolutely

Carlton Reid 3:22
something I think we ought to talk about with your permission. But first of all, I think

Carlton Reid 3:29
I would like to ask you about your second name. So are you by any chance related to Edith Cavell who obviously was a famous nurse in the First World War?

Phil Cavell 3:40
Yes, allegedly. According to my father

Carlton Reid 3:46
So, potentially great, great something?

Phil Cavell 3:52
My great great grandfather’s aunt allegedly — I’ve never done the family tree, Carlton.

Phil Cavell 4:01
So I’m qualifying in there but my father was an

Phil Cavell 4:06
honest, decent person. I don’t think he would have misled us. And apparently there’s not many Cavell’s in the country and we’re all related. Apparently

Carlton Reid 4:17
Yes. It’s an unusual name so that’s why I’ve got Smith it’s like well, you may be you are

Carlton Reid 4:24
either, okay. Yes. Yes. Okay. So that’s something I’ve never asked you and I have known you fell for probably the best part of 30 years. And even before so you are known for cycle fit. Okay. People will will will absolutely know Phil Cavell

Carlton Reid 4:41
and your and your partner Julian — Jules — for cycle fit. But I knew you before that. So I knew you. When this is very late zeitgeisty now to have bike parking. That’s, you know, recognised thing. It’s good thing to have bike parking for people to

Carlton Reid 5:00
To protect their bikes, but that’s what you did. Is that how you got into the industry into this fear by doing that Covent Garden bike park?

Phil Cavell 5:09
Yes, at the age of I was 30 and Jules was 29. I was in the music industry before that, and I’m I’d always made an intention to get out in the music industry. By the time I was 30. I was already racing bikes. At that I’m losing I were racing together, we raced all together. And at 28, 29 I got out the music industry, and we started Bike Park, which is very much our baby really. And so we rented this little building around the back of where we are now in Stukely Street and we rented it for a princely sum of £6000 per annum and we converted it with our extremely good friend Guy Andrews who then went on to found the Rouleur magazine empire. At the time Guy was between jobs, we were all between jobs. The three of us converted the space

Phil Cavell 6:11
that we rented in about three months all by hand. And Guy Andrews was the site foreman, he was Captain Manwairing

Phil Cavell 6:20
Also was,

Phil Cavell 6:21
was a bit I think it was a bigger one, the Scottish was always

Phil Cavell 6:25
saying “we’re doomed., Captain” Jules and I was unfamiliar…. And we just converted it ourselves. And then we it was just all was all one of those things that all you thought through all emotion and tension. And then we open seven o’clock in the morning to 11 o’clock at night, seven days a week.

Carlton Reid 6:46
Would it be fair to say it was ahead of its time and it failed?

Phil Cavell 6:50
Well, you know, it’s the other way around, it failed.

Phil Cavell 6:57
Probably ahead of its time.

Phil Cavell 7:01
Remember, because at the time John Smith had just died, the Labour leader, it was all it was, it was your word is right, as I guide it, you know, John Smith died, I think a couple of days before we opened. Labour leader, it was a very strange times coming out of recession early 90s is a bizarre time.

Phil Cavell 7:21
We I mean, I think I think it’s true to say that cycling, we hadn’t thought right way, when or a little wave, you know, lots of careers.

Phil Cavell 7:29
Lots of people cycling around London, but it’s all based on how inexpensive some works rather than how healthy works. And so we report the wrong wave had we done it to 10 years later, when we did the cycle that we probably would have bought the right wave.

Phil Cavell 7:46
I think that’s true to say, having said that, we didn’t

Phil Cavell 7:51
know I had been

Phil Cavell 7:54
on a lifestyle. All we wanted to do was rate up bikes. And you know, it was very much London cycling based so we didn’t need much money. So we kept going for 9, 10 years.

Phil Cavell 8:04
And you know, we kind of got by on repairing bikes, renting bikes, parking, bike parking, but it didn’t make any money.

Phil Cavell 8:15
You know, it was it was great, actually. It was brilliant.

Carlton Reid 8:18
So we will we will organically come onto Cyclefit just when we when we when we go through your books. We don’t need to go from Bikepark to Cyclefit.

Carlton Reid 8:27
right now. Although absolutely, I totally want to. But I’d like to go straight into your book. Phil and I am going to be quoting snuff back to you. I’m going to be going from like page to page to page even going to like a one point I’m going to three page references at once to pick stuff that that you have repeated. And I thought that’s interesting. I’m going to ask Phil about that. So this is called “The Midlife Cyclist, the roadmap for the +40 rider.” And before we go into into the gubbins of it, and I should say the subhead is who wants to the plus for the rider who wants to train hard, ride fast and stay healthy, but you’ve got some absolutely stellar blurbs on here. So on the front, Phil Liggett says an amazing accompanied verb and I have descended behind Phil, he has an unbelievable early good. downhiller, which you do talk about going downhill in your book quite a lot. I always thought about Phil, when you were talking about that. And then you’ve got Fabian Cancellara. Now, I’m assuming and in fact, I’m not assuming because in the book it says so. So Fabian was a client. So you helped him?

Phil Cavell 9:32
Yes, we joined we sort of in-house bike fitters to Trek from 2012 onwards. So we came there probably the same time that we came to in the same time as Fabian actually, and Andy Schleck.

Phil Cavell 9:49
Radio Shack and the team was very much in transition later to become

Phil Cavell 9:55
Trek factory racing, Trek Sega-fredo so we sort of saw it through those transition period.

Phil Cavell 10:00
We all came together in

Phil Cavell 10:03

  1. Yeah. So we were all fresh in the team. And so we we drove out to the first holding camp training camp in Kalk Bay where we were introduced the theme and became a sort of in house bike fitter to the next four years, and Fabien was one of those.

Carlton Reid 10:23
So there are a few pro cyclists in the book, but mainly it’s not really about pro cycling, is it? It’s mainly about

Carlton Reid 10:31
hardcore amateur cyclists. But you know, who pushed themselves perhaps you do talk about this, perhaps they’re, they push themselves a little bit too hard. And then another quote on the book, which then jumped out to me, and I think I did remember that this guy was a cyclist, but I had to kind of google it just to make sure that’s Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet, who says “I’m determined to grow old gracefully in Lycra. And Phil Cavell has been helping me to do it successfully for years.” So you’ve got a pretty interesting clientele list there.

Phil Cavell 11:01
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. I mean, Gary, I would have met in our music industry days because a very, very close friend of mine was his agent. And I mean, it’s not one of those separation of lives, we just, you know, we only really met and became friends and professionally acquainted, if you like, when I stepped out the music industry and went into the bike industry. And so yeah, I, he’s always been a client for many years as as as his as his wife.

Phil Cavell 11:32
Yeah, so we’ve helped them by fixing issues and things that come up when you keep a middle aged cyclist on the road. So we don’t call it a riding together as well. And when I think Gary looked phenomenal, and I think he really, he really is, is it I think, for me an exemplar of what cycling and for somebody, if they take it up at the right time and do it properly. Isn’t fantastic.

Phil Cavell 11:56
And there are other other 80s music people who are our clients as well. And it’s like, bewildering how good they look. You know, it really is they look amazing. They, you know, they they’ve aged very gracefully, they’re very slim, very fit, and very strong.

Phil Cavell 12:18
I think Gary is an examplar of that.

Carlton Reid 12:20
So an example of this also for the whole book is the quote right at the bottom of the back cover, and that I love this quote. And that’s so that this is what the whole book is about. Basically, it’s it “Grow old.” Period, full stop. “Get fast.” Lovely. Not for me, and then “Don’t die.” So that’s pretty good thing to live by there Phil?

Phil Cavell 12:43
Do you know I’m so pleased you’ve picked that out.

Phil Cavell 12:46
I love that. And I wanted it on the front. And I said, you know, we will put in the cover in the property as well. I’d like this right on a couple of days, right underneath midlife cycles. I want him to be letters. Gold, right? fast. Okay, fast. And I that’s what I want. You can’t do that. Have I on the cover of the book? If you can, so I didn’t get it on the cover.

Phil Cavell 13:09
That’s my that’s my thing. That’s what I said. That’s my very, very small elevator pitch.

Carlton Reid 13:15
Yes, I can understand that. And the “get die” bit, of course, is chapter three. As you say in our emails, the infamous chapter three, the don’t die chapter, which is long, and detailed and fascinating. And you said it’s like, you know, going down rabbit holes. I don’t think it is I think it’s fantastic. I particularly like the first paragraph, but we’ll get into that when we when we I’m going to I’m slipping, you know, non chronologically around the place at the moment, but we will come kind of like chronologically into the book

Carlton Reid 13:48
as we go through. But I would like to say as as you gave me kindly gave me permission. You said I was allowed to talk or get you to reminisce which which can be painful. So 2011. How did you crash?

Phil Cavell 14:02
I was riding home from work and I I hit a pothole

Phil Cavell 14:10
in front of it. I didn’t see it. It was a bicycle lane.

Phil Cavell 14:15
And it’s really encapsulates some of my other interests of something advocacy that the bike lane wins into a lane bus stop. And the bus stop was kind of like tiled where the cycle track went into the bus stop. There was a pothole where the tiles move. I didn’t see it. It was so sharp. And I ended up somersaulting over my bike and landing pretty much in the bus shelter, and it was one of those beautiful British moments where no one said a word when I lay there panting like a beached dolphon. Eventually I have to kind of say, “excuse me, I’m in a lot of problems

Phil Cavell 14:55
Can anybody please call an ambulance?”

Phil Cavell 14:57
At which point someone said “Yeah, no problem, man.”

Phil Cavell 15:00
They called me an ambulance and the ambulance came.

Phil Cavell 15:03

Phil Cavell 15:05
I’d really i’d hurt myself quite badly, although that wasn’t immediately diagnosed at the hospital, but I’d actually fractured my spine in a bad place in a particularly acute and extreme way. And

Phil Cavell 15:20
that’s started a chain of events that culminated in surgery that failed.

Phil Cavell 15:26
surgery that failed and a subsequent infection, and

Phil Cavell 15:31
really just trying to get

Phil Cavell 15:34
back was to resolve

Phil Cavell 15:39
all the time while my spine was getting worse and deteriorating, and the area that was

Phil Cavell 15:48
collapsing on itself, if you like, and then subsequently, so I can cycle through the theory of cycling, I was still working on and off.

Phil Cavell 16:00
I couldn’t find one then after I had more surgery in 2017.

Phil Cavell 16:06
Which was a much more serious nature, but it was what’s called 360 degree surgery. So they go through the front.

Phil Cavell 16:14

Phil Cavell 16:16
like, spaces in your spine, and then they go through the back and, join all that with much bigger surgery. But it was spectacularly successful. And really, you know, even though it kind of worked. So I’ve now got big scaffolding poles and

Phil Cavell 16:32
spacers in my spine.

Phil Cavell 16:35
So you know, mobility is not a very, you know, there’s a lot of structure there. Am I going into too much detail now, Carlton?

Carlton Reid 16:42
No, no, no, you’re going to the some of that detail in the book. And so it’s not. So that’s fascinating. Thank you. And we didn’t you didn’t talk about the crash, the crash was, you didn’t even mention how it happened or any of that. So I wanted to dig down into more detail on that. So yeah, that’s that’s that sounds awful. And the fact nobody’s helping you a great deal was sounds awful, too. So it was until page 254, where you mentioned, this was the impetus for writing the book and the fact that you are fixing in your day job, you are fixing broken cyclists. But here you were incredibly broken, and weren’t even riding at this point for a good few years. So that must have been awful for your your mental health.

Phil Cavell 17:24
I think you’d probably look in retrospect, I think it was often Yes, I think it was I didn’t acknowledge it at the time. And

Phil Cavell 17:32
if you ask my wife, she would say, lost seven or eight years, from 2011 to 2017, 2018 when I have this second seizure.

Phil Cavell 17:46
Yes, so I was having to work with cyclists. I’d kind of at that point, to be honest with you, I had written myself off as a cyclist. And my goals were to try and, and live without pain, not to ride a bike again, that was the sort of what that was, those were my immediate goals. And the way I earned my living was by helping cyclists, so you had to be separation to state and there really is not for me anymore. You know, it’s, you know, I can derive a lot of satisfaction from doing my job. Well.

Phil Cavell 18:18
And, and did you know, and I managed to do that. So I managed to sort of function.

Phil Cavell 18:26
My function is to function efficiently my work even though it wasn’t something I could do anymore. It wasn’t something I used to discuss , you know, I feel it was something which I was vaguely embarrassed about really, you know, I was here I felt a little bit fraudulent on occasion, but this is, you know, I was trying to help him do something that I could no longer do anymore.

Carlton Reid 18:48
Thank you for for, for sharing that that’s a must have been both metaphorically and figuratively painful for a number of years, both physically and mentally.

Carlton Reid 19:00
So thank you for writing the book as the impetus for that. Also. Now, I’m not going to I’m going to pick out three quotes and throw them back at you. And I know where you’re coming from, I was a fantastic way of expressing this when I eventually read these quotes out because I’m a bicycle historian. So I’m absolutely cognizant of exactly what you’re, you’re talking about here, but I’m gonna I’m gonna read the quotes and then you can either defend yourself or not. So it’s basically about the the actual thing that we ride each day and and I think a historical thing called “path dependence,” which maybe we can we can we can talk about. So you say that you’ve spent the “better part of your professional life essentially fitting caveman and cavewoman to a Victorian curiosity.” And by that mean, we mean “that our genome is substantially unchanged in 250, 000 years

Carlton Reid 20:01
but a bicycle’s dynamics are only unchanged since the the Boer Wars,” you’re basically saying

Carlton Reid 20:10
we’re not really fitted for these weird Victorian contractions, that’s page 49, you know, I’ll then jump to page 63. So you’re basically dissing bicycles here. But anyway, “modern bicycles are almost identical in architecture, dimension and biomechanical interface to something that was designed around the same time as the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.” And yeah, you kind of mention it. It is kind of weird that we’re riding these carbon fibre bicycles, that actually, the shapes haven’t changed a huge amount. And then page 202. Phil, “Despite how much we love them, bikes are a Victorian daydream preserved an aspect for well over a century because of a speciation event involving the UCI (union cycliste internationale) path dependence, and a huge dose of nostalgia.” Phil, why do you hate bike so much?

Phil Cavell 21:03
I think I say in a book, Carlton.

Phil Cavell 21:06
It’s good that you picked this up actually.

Phil Cavell 21:10
In the book, The bike is good enough, the design is big enough, the Victorians didn’t get that far wrong. Essentially, what I was saying is that the bicycle in a sense has got stuck in the Victorian era, because it’s failed to revise itself in the same way. And I think the example I use in the book is, you know, I’m staring down at QWERTY keyboard that was designed around the same time, Remington,

Phil Cavell 21:36

Phil Cavell 21:38
design around the same time to try and avoid the keys jamming; keys won’t jam any more because we still use a QWERTY keyboard. It’s like a path dependant,

Phil Cavell 21:49
or butterfly effect. We’re now living with the consequences of a failure to revise technology within the way that we interface with it is keyboard, also bicycle. What that means is, certainly with the keyboard, and also the bicycle are the best versions of themselves.

Phil Cavell 22:11
And the answer that almost certainly is no in both cases. The next question is

Phil Cavell 22:16
knowing, you know, because the bicycle is no longer

Phil Cavell 22:21
this version of itself, it’s a nostalgic device that we all love. And no one loves it more than make up and until you know them. It’s really, it’s just not the best version of itself. And the failure to revise it. It’s because of the speciation of and we’ve talked about in the book, where, you know, it’s the opportunity to revise it was kind of was missed.

Phil Cavell 22:44
So, the only reason in the book is one because it’s a lot of science and stuff in it. And now and again, it’s just nice to riff off in a different direction, it’s a bit less challenging. And also to be to add some context, in a lot of people that doesn’t feel great a lot of the time. And that part of the book is is in a sense, saying but that’s okay, you know, you rewrite not feel great some of the time, because, you know, humans didn’t evolve to ride this is our we’ve tried to do is fit something to you, which we think will take the potential into kinetic energy. Is that a rate translation device? No, enough? Of course it is. And because of the heritage and associations over the last 100 years, it’s now romantically, you know, kind of, you know, our DNA, it’s certainly a mine, and that’s fine. But, you know, we shouldn’t run away with the idea that bicycles are a modern, devised and honed over over centuries and decades. That isn’t the case. Cycling dynamics are exactly the same 130 years ago, as it is now, very, very different.

Carlton Reid 24:02
You make a very good point in the book about the UCI, if they had been if the UCI had been in existence in the 1880s, then very possibly, they would have frozen the bicycle at the pennyfarthing and said this is this is it, we you know, we can’t have any more

Carlton Reid 24:21
changes to this, we’ve got to every race on this thing. We can’t have, you know, even kind of even pneumatic tires. And that would have that would have had a path dependence in its own way that would have totally changed many parts of a world history. So kind of good that they didn’t exist. But with the same coronary, you then talk about when they did ban a product so that was when they banned in the 1920s when they banned the Egg recumbent so my question is, do you genuinely think that if the UCI didn’t exist and we’d have been able to design a bicycle in any way

Carlton Reid 24:59
and it could have kind of gone into any direction. Do you think we would all be on recumbents now?

Phil Cavell 25:04
No, that’s not really the point? That’s a good question. Not really the point because it’s not for me to say what would have come after it is only for me to say that nothing came after it. You know, there was an incident in the 20s when the UCI banned the Mochet bike by

Phil Cavell 25:20
that Francis Faure won the Egg record on in the 1920s.

Phil Cavell 25:26
Now it’s not, it’s not for me to say what would have come after, because what that event is, essentially is preserving aspect, what the basic architecture of bicycle is going to be.

Phil Cavell 25:39
I do think Mochet, if you look at Mochet, not much is known about him. But what what, what I would say is that his dream, and I do think he was ahead of his time, was to try and incorporate human power and mechanical power. So you know, the idea that you pedal a bit, and there’s a little electric motor that helps you out, his idea was to revolutionise transport, away from a heavy internal combustion engine, something that was a bit more fitting into a minimalist family life.

Phil Cavell 26:08
And we’ll probably circle right round and come back to that dream at some point, you know, we already kind of our electric filters and E bikes already coming around there, it’s just taken us a lot longer, I would suggest because there was this event froze the designer bicycle.

Phil Cavell 26:25
And it’s only they’re really out of contact with people, you know, not writing something, which is leading or cutting edge, in the sense, you know, of modern computers or, you know, or modern surgical devices, where, you know, maybe you’re designing with a little bit more freedom.

Phil Cavell 26:46
UCI describe what a racing bicycle is. And because competition and racing is so

Phil Cavell 26:53
influential, you can’t deviate from it. So you know, the price that we ride, the architecture is described by racing

Phil Cavell 27:03
formula, like,

Phil Cavell 27:05
and that’s what’s constrains it. Now. What What, what would be if we didn’t have those constraints? I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean, yeah, yeah, I think recumbents have got some legs, like he ran over, he had some great ideas. You wouldn’t necessarily design a device, you spent most of your life in the same position as if you were actually in an office chair.

Carlton Reid 27:30
But isn’t there like,

Carlton Reid 27:33
there are ways of actually making the human body on a bicycle or a wheeled vehicle more efficient. And like the famous one is that the head first, where the person I’m sorry, I don’t know that the name and have to Google it, but is physically lying down forwards. The legs are coming backwards. There’s no being, as you say, in the book, constrained by, you know, this Victorian architecture, you’ve got the full gamut of movement, you’ve got to flex a bit, you’ve got everything there. It’s incredibly powerful. It’s incredibly fast because you’re low to the ground. But who the hell would ride it because your your your your forwards? So is it not the case that yes, the bicycle has absolute imperfections in the way we ride it and the way we’re constrained by riding it. But if it had been literally had been allowed to just explode into all sorts of different flavours, then it might have been some really weird flavours and the fact that we actually consolidated and froze it at what does this actually 95% perfect, let’s just keep it at that actually allowed bicycling to blossom.

Phil Cavell 28:38
I think. I think it probably allowed. Yes, bicycle racing is

Phil Cavell 28:45
it’s a game if you like, you know, it has rules. It’s like, you know, it’s like monopoly has rules and you play by the rules and you have an out winner. It’s like a racing is a game of bicycle is part of that game.

Phil Cavell 28:58
And it’s good enough. You’re talking about the Graeme Obree bike, I mean, Graeme Obree. I think he was probably nearly 50 when you broke the world record of doing something like 50 miles an hour bicycle, you know,

Phil Cavell 29:11
simply by capturing human mechanics, human biomechanics better, and then and then making aerodynamic. So I think you’re right, you know, we’ve got we’ve got this whole culture around science being inherited around. So I think it’s very exciting and very emotional. But we we denied decades and decades and decades of people saying, Well, actually, if we just absolutely re

Phil Cavell 29:35

Phil Cavell 29:38
no constraints whatsoever. What, that’s what we can deny.

Phil Cavell 29:43
Don’t do that. What would they do that? And so, if, for example, there was an event, a blue ribbon event, which is a Tour de France, and you can design without strain, just doesn’t matter. Here’s the rule rules are you have to use the human body. Other than that, everybody has that.

Phil Cavell 30:00
I mean, and it was big and the prices were huge. And it was, you know, who knows what we will come up with, it wouldn’t be a winner not be on a standard racing bicycle. It wouldn’t even be in the, in the, in the running the bicycle that one wouldn’t look like a modern racing bicycle if that event existed. That’s what you have to think about. How much of that then spilled out into a consumer product? Unknown, Unknown? No, not for me to think about really only saying from a mechanical perspective, there’s a lot more performance efficiency out there. And you know, it’s not for me to design that.

Carlton Reid 30:41
But it did bring us back to bicycles being perfect again, you do then say but you know, despite all of these, these these known problems,

Carlton Reid 30:51
it is the physios friend. So lots of people are actually brought into cycling, despite these these problems. So why is despite these problems, why is bicycling? Why is the bicycle the physios friend?

Phil Cavell 31:06
It’s true? Yeah, that’s true. Because again, it goes back to being good enough.

Phil Cavell 31:13
Had hip surgery or knee surgery or even ankle surgery. And of course, you know, we see a lot of these people because of what we do. The classical, if you if you get it right, can be a primary rehab by certainly the hip patient. And one of the one of the people are using the book, as an example, Nigel, you know, he was he was, you know, he had a very serious hip injury, very, very serious crash, and very, very difficult. third hip, nail going straight down his femur, essentially running back. He was pedalling at cycle fit, he did it ten days after surgery, and I set him up in a rehab position, we weren’t together going forward.

Phil Cavell 31:55
And, you know, he had a good team behind him, not me. And he was fine. He went back to full strength for four months in that in a three month, four month maximum. In that sense, he used the five squares he had both we really had, I think the physios friend thing is , slightly tongue in cheek with it is not as easy as just saying, here’s a bicycle fit on it, and you’ll be fine. If you’ve had hip surgery or hip knee surgery, it does actually be between really fitted.

Phil Cavell 32:26
Yes, it won’t be load bearing, it doesn’t mean it won’t load points adversely, if you don’t get the knee extension angle, right. And the hip angle, right, all those things need to be considered. And we can be the best rehab or, you know, as good as swimming. Unlike swimming, you are interfacing with a machine and all that needs to be considered.

Carlton Reid 32:48
So, Phil, before we go into chapter three, the infamous chapter.

Carlton Reid 32:56

Carlton Reid 32:57
is it the longest, it must be the longest chapter in the book, isn’t it? It must be before we go into chapter three film so that if you’ve got a few minutes in which to compose yourself, and to do maybe there’s two forms of your yoga, which you talk about in the book, and the square breathing, all that kind of stuff, you talk in the book, you This is your chance, because we’re going to go to an ad break. And we will go across to David, take it away, David.

David Bernstein 33:23
Hey, Carlton, thanks so much. And it’s it’s always my pleasure to talk about our advertiser. This is a longtime loyal advertiser, you all know who I’m talking about. It’s Jenson USA at I’ve been telling you for years now years, that Jenson is the place where you can get a great selection of every kind of product that you need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices, and what really sets them apart. Because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there. But what really sets them apart is they’re on believable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors, and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who who ride their bikes to and from work. These are folks who ride at lunch who go out on group rides after work because they just enjoy cycling so much. And and so you know that when you call, you’ll be talking to somebody who has knowledge of the products that you’re calling about. If you’re looking for a new bike, whether it’s a mountain bike, a road bike, a gravel bike, a fat bike, what are you looking for? Go ahead and check them out. Jenson USA, they are the place where you will find everything you need for your cycling lifestyle. It’s We thank them so much for their support. And we thank you for supporting Jenson USA. All right, Carlton, let’s get back to the show.

Carlton Reid 34:48
Thanks David. And we are back with Phil Cavell and we are discussing “The Midlife Cyclist” and instead of what’s on the front cover, I’m going to go to Phil’s favourite quote on the back which would be

Carlton Reid 35:00
On the front, Bloomsbury, please put on the front for the second edition, and that is “Grow old. Get fast. Don’t die.” now that don’t die bit

Carlton Reid 35:10
is kind of leading into the infamous chapter three in Phil’s book and it’s an arguably wonderful title for a chapter. It’s just when I die question mark. Now, I when I was reading the book, I was wondering when these touchy subjects were brought up, and lo and behold, he was a was a whole chapter on it. So despite the fact that Phil is maybe groaning because I think he’s had some feedback on this particular chapter.

Carlton Reid 35:39
But let’s let’s set this up. For the listeners who are all going to rush out and buy your book Phil, but let before they buy the book, and then listen to this.

Carlton Reid 35:48
It basically, you get this bit out of the way? Absolutely, straightaway, as a first paragraph, you’re talking about the risk of cycling. So basically, your risk of dying on a bike by getting killed by one of these or four motorists that we will hear about constantly, is just incredibly slim. It’s like

Carlton Reid 36:10
you got to be pretty unlucky, in effect to die on a bike from from that kind of, of trauma. So what this chapter is all about is not you know, bike lanes not that topic at all. Not they’re not the the dangerisation of cycling topic at all. This is a whole chapter on

Carlton Reid 36:31
how dangerous is it as a midlife cyclist and you can maybe give us a definition of where you you think that starts fail. But how dangerous Is it because there are lots of scare stories out there in the media of, you know, studies that the media, the mass media, the mainstream media, the tabloid press, in effect, have taken kernels of and twisted to basically say you really shouldn’t exercise. You should be a couch potato, because exercise is bad for you. So So take it away on this chapter filled by But first of all, tell us when you say midlife, how old are you talking about?

Phil Cavell 37:07
Yeah, so midlife is the title of the book? It’s a fair question.

Phil Cavell 37:13
Bear in mind that none of us would be even read 35 until probably 140, 150 years ago, and in the ancestral environment, we never made it past 30 or hardly ever vanishingly rare. A midlife, if you were going back 1000 years would be 15

Phil Cavell 37:33
midlife now for this for this book, I think it’s 40, 45. and above, I think, and then 40, and I widen that band, going forward at 90 is still my life, as far as I’m concerned. In terms of things like bone density, and testosterone and muscle density, all these things he could 30

Phil Cavell 37:56
No, that’s not an accident at all. Because in the ancestral environment, you know, you plants to breed and then bring up your offspring, and then hopefully, they will start breeding again. And that will happen by 30, there’s evolutionary pressure in the ancestor of you alive. 30, I think

Phil Cavell 38:15
any evolutionary psychologist listening, this will be coming on death. You know, that’s very broadly, the selective pressure to keep you alive to 30. There’s no selective pressure at all, in terms of genetically to keep you alive to 40, 50. Genetically.

Phil Cavell 38:33
So essentially, this book is about from that moment we become genetically irrelevant.

Phil Cavell 38:38
You know, modern medicine, we’re all still in very good health. But there’s a new study out, isn’t it? It’s just come out. I mean, I didn’t see that study, obviously, it’s just come out, where a third of 40 year old now, and a fourth third of 40 year olds, sort of, you know, serious underlying health condition. Diabetes, high blood pressure, etc, etc. So that kind of, you know, that’s kind of the age group I’m targeting, you know, if you’re not, if you’re not doing something about this, before, it is, you know, you should be thinking about

Phil Cavell 39:13
maybe there’s a long answer to a short question. So I think 40, 45 onwards, Carlton. And the new data research seems to bear that out.

Carlton Reid 39:22
So even though this chapter is quite dark in parts, there’s lots of humour in there at all, and you’re very self effacing in the book, there’s quite a few nice gags in there in quite a tough chapter. And it is hard reading for men. Yeah, it’s probably quite elevating for women because women can it seems can can do what the hell they like, and they ain’t going to come across from from, you know,

Carlton Reid 39:51
pitching over from a heart attack. So would you say it’s fair that women can pretty much got off scot free here?

Phil Cavell 39:59

Phil Cavell 40:01
appears so. Ultimately you don’t don’t want to run away with this and say, okay, and every woman, you know, you could whatever you want, and because you know, there are things and there’s lifestyle issues. In terms of self selecting group, we’re looking at people who seek to exercise moderately, women not seem to be really at risk here.

Phil Cavell 40:23
Right. And much cardiologists who are doing all this research for Gemma Parry-Williams, who featured in the book a lot, and it’s quite excellent.

Phil Cavell 40:33
And Ahmed Merghani, with his research worries me, they’re all desperately trying to find, you know, when some boxes that women are implicated, and they can’t find it

Phil Cavell 40:44
doesn’t mean it or not. It doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. But right now the longitudinal studies can’t seem to find any friends, for veteran women athletes having audio.

Phil Cavell 40:59
So, you know, that’s about as far as we can

Phil Cavell 41:03
see, women are not in

Phil Cavell 41:06
now, I guess that feeds into the next question is with Why? And I don’t know, I don’t think anybody doesn’t know. It’s hypothised, you know,

Phil Cavell 41:19
things like the protective effect of Oestrogen, you know, decades and decades of oestrogen, you know, being used around the women’s bodies

Phil Cavell 41:29
means less atrial stretch Heart of the kinds of stuff, you know, and the fact that women have got two X chromosomes, men have only got one X chromosome, one Y chromosome, a lot of the

Phil Cavell 41:42
immune system information is carried on the X chromosome, does that mean they better?

Phil Cavell 41:48
You know, their immune system for men? Well, yes, they certainly do have better immune system and

Phil Cavell 41:54
or does it men seem to lack a central governor? You know, we think about it in horses, where resources, some resources cannot raise themselves to death. And that has given this this title, central governor is about men, you know, that we lacked the, you know, somehow the capacity or the, you know, the way we will say that in

Phil Cavell 42:17
and stop,

Phil Cavell 42:19
you know?

Phil Cavell 42:21
Or is there some other thing of men’s lifestyles that we store our information and incrementally just layer on inflammation on inflammation, and makes us vulnerable to the problem.

Carlton Reid 42:33
And talking about the cardiologist you interviewed for the book at a good place made to mention that you have got these wonderful experts in there, and an awful lot of them seem to be midlife cyclists to? Is that is that a fluke that they are? Is that how you came upon them? Or is cycling something that they were attracted to? For health reasons? Well, how come you met all of these fantastic cardiologists through cycling?

Phil Cavell 42:59
Well, I mean, most of them I knew before. For Nigel (Stephens) I knew before.

Phil Cavell 43:07
And Audrius (Simiatis) is a client who I met, so you know, obviously I’m pleased to meet these people aren’t are they coming for a weekend chatting? You know, I invite them to come and give a lecture at Cyclefit at or, you know, whatever, you know, so Cyclefit was a driver there, then I would just seek them out, you know, you know, if I was doing research, I was interested in Ahmed Merghant. I called him up and he said like I’m really busy.

Phil Cavell 43:33
You so he I interviewed him both a few times. I wouldn’t go over to sit in the I would go visit in the lobby at Guys hospital and sit there and in the lobby with the you know, with a recorder and just ask him as a question between patients. You know, so Audrius Simiatis he’s a he’s a cardiologist and a cyclist and an immoderate one, he exercises hard. Nigel Stephens isa cardiologist, very well known. European Champion, obviously exercises and immoderately both of those do say, exercise hard, because they enjoy it necessarily, because they think it’s good for them.

Carlton Reid 44:13
I’ll go straight into a part of chapter three, you basically talk about the Lancification of cycling. So it’s again, this is a point that maybe we don’t raise often enough and because of Lance’s doping background would you do point out elsewhere in the book as you are acerbic elsewhere in the book about his doping background, but here you’re just talking about how in 2000 and with you know, his book, “It’s not about the bike” that brought a whole bunch of new people into cycling, a new cohort, more women came in into cycling, partly because of Lance. It wasn’t his Tour de France success, per se. It was the coming back from cancer success. So let’s just let’s kind of park to one side that

Carlton Reid 44:59
doping side of Lance Armstrong and just focus on you know what he actually did for cycling. So you presumably a positive on that side of the Lancification?

Phil Cavell 45:13
I am. I am very positive on that side. I mean to be fair, I was actually quite positive. On the other side for a long time I thought he’s winning 93 in Norway in the rain, you know, was astonishing when he won

Phil Cavell 45:29
absolutely phenomenal.

Phil Cavell 45:32
I think he was younger that year than the junior world Champion. And I’ve got clients who, you know, who were very ill with cancer, and their oncologists, American oncologist had prescribed them cyling.

Phil Cavell 45:48

Phil Cavell 45:49
that’s coming. And so my, my oncologist has told me to get a bike.

Carlton Reid 45:54
An awful lot of people in the bike industry right now, probably wouldn’t be in the bike industry without that, that backstory he. Absolutely, yeah, we’ve got the bike boom now, but we had also, back then we had the Lance boom, so the road bike boom, was was almost singlehandedly down to Lance.

Phil Cavell 46:12
That’s right. That’s right. And it’s just not often is it? I mean, I, you know, I almost was like, there’s an omerta about it, you know, about you can’t discuss this. Yeah, and I totally agree with that. I think that’s right, I don’t think you know, I don’t, I don’t think I would have a business without there. I said, I have a very different kind of.

Carlton Reid 46:29
Let’s change the subject anyway, and get away from that, cos I know that’s a, that’s a red rag to a bull for lots of people, many people might have turned off by now. So let’s,

Carlton Reid 46:38
let’s change the subject. And that is a no no HRV so that’s heart rate variability. So you mentioned that in chapter three is a big, big splurge on it in chapter three. And then you come back to it even further into the book in which you basically say, you know, all the the FTPss all the all that, you know, the TLAs the three letter acronyms in the book, this is perhaps one of the the most important for and we’ve got a stress for an midlife athletes or somebody who’s trying to either get good or stay good on a bike. So So describe to me as a layman and you’re a layman, but describe heart rate variability and and why it’s now considered to be that’s that’s the kind of the gold standard.

Phil Cavell 47:27
Okay, well, heart rate variability HRV is just a measurement of the difference in spacing between your heartbeats. That’s what it is simply, we know we often think our heart is racing, you know, 67 to 130 beats per minute. And the spaces between those beats will be equidistant. They’re not there anything.

Phil Cavell 47:50
And, and the differences spacing carries a lot of information.

Phil Cavell 47:55
Life Science can use that information to improve their performance and their overall health well being.

Phil Cavell 48:02
The context of this book is, is I desperately want you in life athlete, to look after themselves,

Phil Cavell 48:09
be healthier, be more productive, to achieve the goals they set for themselves on the last ride in a tablet, or or a European Championship and roll this book is to say, Okay, if you’re going to do these things, look after yourself. You know, and that really is, despite the as you say, the irreverent humour in the book, there is some irreverence during the book. You know, overall, I hope the message of the book of course, is I want people to look awesome. And the reason I come back to HRV in the mindful slackers chapter, the end, I want to find a way to try and help people feel better. And heart rate variability, the way they do that, and one of my friends, very good friends within the book few times in Mandeville, who is a consultant is, you know, was was was, you know, I chatted about this a few times, he they use eight HRV. Some people take charge in intensive care, or they’re they charted hospital. And it gives some predictive information. And that predictive information is something we can use, I mean, back in the day, going back 40 years or 35 years, and I would get up in my heart rate. And I would do that and I would in the mind working hard and having an indication of how rested I was or how fatigued I was or information was only minimally useful because a lot of endurance athletes are what are what’s called a cardiac or heart just fall through the floor. So you know, a lot of us have heart rates within the 30s and early 40s. So, you know, taking our heart rate even if a virus are not very well in the morning, isn’t an exceptionally useful. However, HRV is a much more honest and nuanced metric. It will tell you how fatigued you are, how rested you are, how ready you are to punish your body with heart opening.

Phil Cavell 50:00
I think that’s true for all athletes. But it’s, it’s especially true for midlife athletes, because we’re intrinsically swimming upstream, swimming against the tide of nature.

Phil Cavell 50:13
So we need to know this important information and have the presence of mind the characters say, HRV is not looking great, you know what I, I shouldn’t think I should go to yoga class, eat properly, you know, hydrate, rest, and then train tomorrow. You know, that’s eminently sensible.

Carlton Reid 50:34
So what that was in chapter three, and it was, but then, because we’re getting done on TLAs, let’s go to the next one. And because you’ve got an interesting bit of research there, and that is functional threshold power. So FTP, a lot of people

Carlton Reid 50:51
who were into their, you know, performance sport, will, we’ll know FTP, but what in the book you’re backing this up with, with research, is the bizarre sounding anecdote or not anecdote finding, I should say, Sorry, that your hardcore amateurs are probably redlining, probably

Carlton Reid 51:13
going through that, compared to pros, and people think, obviously, Pros will be, you know, absolutely at the limit there. And they’re not so so what’s happening there? And what can people do about it?

Phil Cavell 51:26
Yeah, you can all the point they want. The FTP or functional threshold protocol,

Phil Cavell 51:34
is a number which has gained in popularity. And it’s now become the only metric if you like. And the point about this is not to say that FTP doesn’t use or you should use it, or you can reference it. My point is, you shouldn’t be meeting the reference. Because, let’s be honest, at some point, your FTP will plateau, you know, you’re not a robot, you know, you know, so you can’t keep expecting to ratchet up your FTP, you know, it’s not a one way street, it’s either gonna have, and at some point is likely to go down. So, you know, if you make if you view your cycling enjoyment contingent upon,

Phil Cavell 52:15
I think you’re, you know, you’re in for disappointment, there’s a, there’s a broader basket of things that you can look at, reference, your performance enjoyment, that’s really what I’m saying.

Phil Cavell 52:28
With FTP is the one is doesn’t actually, it doesn’t present any physiological markers, and

Phil Cavell 52:36
it doesn’t, it’s one to actually track accurately, and it’s impossible to track accurate, you’re on your own, but you’re not actually a blood. So you know, what you’re doing really doing on your own section. So what what the coaches that I found, and the three or four in the book is that most people, you know, overstate their FTP. And, and if they then use that as a predicate for the training levels, through the year, they end up training, they end up going too hard most of the time. And the, as you say, the this is all just data. And if you compare that to professional cyclists, they spend, proportionally less of their time, anywhere near the line that we do. Their bodies are on tick over. And we’re racing away like a hummingbird.

Phil Cavell 53:27
And that’s, you know,

Phil Cavell 53:29
I told you all you need to know, you know, these guys race for a living and yet they’re nowhere near their red line. We go on living and we’re twice their age and we’re passing off the red limit.

Carlton Reid 53:43
So what can people do what is it just is that basically just don’t overtrain is that is that the giveaway there?

Phil Cavell 53:50
It’s just the structure is different. It’s about saying look at your training, you’re looking at providing and reviewing and if you actually go back to through our my and Jules’ career at Cyclefit, and also in writing this book, let’s go back to first principles. You know, what we design to do, you know, so essentially human are extremely good at endurance, we’renot very fast. There’s no other mammal in the world that we can out run? We can’t even out run a badger you know we’re not great you know what I mean? We can’t there’s no there’s no mammal in this country you know, you can Out Run I mean all me You know, we’re just we’re not far we are is endurance. You know, we write endurance animals we were we were born and evolved to persistent hunt. So you know, those endurance those are the those that go with our evolution in

Phil Cavell 54:46
healing our endurance themes if you like, and all of the coaches I interview with saying the same thing it’s like well, lets you know what you really want to do. Not only the midlife cyclist, but certainly more than the life side

Phil Cavell 55:00
This train, oxidative system, aerobic system, those are the ones you want, you actually want make that the most efficient machine, you can make it before you even think about,

Phil Cavell 55:13
you know, looking at pure high end form. And I think that’s absolutely right. Well, what happens too often on with my clients is that I’ve got, you know, it’s not like I can say that they’re not there to their coach that can come into the sport, absolutely loving it, come to this set up number, and they just want to elevate the FT number, if I will, not necessarily all guys, it’s guys and girls, but, you know, hold on a second. You know, you’re ignoring a whole background there of aerobic capacity training you should be doing, you know, you’re bypassing all time you’re on the red line, you’re not working at the system.

Phil Cavell 55:57
And the coaches data backs it up, they’re looking at they compare their amateur clients with a professional client, that professional clients are more rested, more rested, having an easier time but you know, less near the red line less overtrained, lift higher listed beat us.

Carlton Reid 56:14
So there are some great training myths that you do bust in the book. And I’d like to focus on on on one here. And it’s kind of less like almost two in one. But anyway, and that’s like the pedalling in circles and the souplesse the way that you’re meant to, or that was one point 20 years ago, and it’s still absolutely lingering when you call it the cycling’s Flat Earth movement. And that is the upstroke So are you saying forget the upstroke, upstroke is just a complete non-starter because, if I am right in saying, the hip flexor?

Phil Cavell 56:55
I will start with that presumption. Yes, there are times when you will be pulling away from a traffic lights as fast as you can or you know, start riding a mountain bike race, you will pull up the first few pedal stroke. Yeah. And on top of the climb standing up, you

Phil Cavell 57:14
may also block all that’s fine. I’m not saying you never pull up. What I’m saying is that when you’re pedalling at tempo,

Phil Cavell 57:23
on a climb or on the flat and you’re at your, you know, your your sustainable power, if you like you’re really working quite hard. There is no such thing as a non event. Because going back to first principles, Catherine, you evolved to be powerful in extension. Running, you’ve already got parents playing with ground contact. And ground contract means that you’re going to be using your, your extensor muscles, your glutes, your quads, and your path those your primary extensor muscles. Because those are the muscles that come back to when you come back, maybe a little bit of a hamstring as you push away from the ground. But that’s it. Once you’re free of the ground, that’s when your flex has come in to move the lever system after you take the next ride. So you’ve evolved to have our ground on time, which means you’re extensive.

Phil Cavell 58:17
That’s how that’s just human evolution. And if you if you ride a bike and actually just try and switch off the push down and just pull up your you know, in about 40 yards you’ll realise that’s not good, right? You’re trying to use lean muscle

Phil Cavell 58:35
evolved to fulfil that role.

Phil Cavell 58:39
And one of the you know the hip flexor muscles is is is primary amongst the hip flexors are essentially reflectors and stabilisers. And, you know, the only ever evolved to lift the weight of your leg forward for you can then take the next stride.

Carlton Reid 58:58
And that’s an example of us being harnessed to a Victorian contraption, leading us leading us into bad habist.

Carlton Reid 59:07
It’s a Victorian contraction that as you say in the book is quite constrained. And the motion on the pedalling. It’s not circles, as you say there, it’s basically I think one of the weights when you describe Armstrong’s pedalling technique is basically mashing on the pedal. So just hammering up and down forget the circles. Yes. Now I’m Phil, I’m in absolutely no way shape or form an athlete. I have done races in the past, but I tend to do

Carlton Reid 59:41
24 hour solo events just because I can then get into the top 20 because people just drop out anyway.

Carlton Reid 59:47
But I do remember friends who are athletes, and when they’re trying to get me to train which I never used to do at all, but they would they would give me exercise and they say you should do this. And one of the ones I remember and this is when

Carlton Reid 1:00:00
During the book, I was thinking, hang on, I was told to do this at one point, which is no, you’re quite down on indoor cycling. But anyway, is this an indoor cycling technique where you’re meant to actually use one leg and pull up, you’re actually meant to be training your pull up muscles. And I’m sure a lot of people are probably still doing that. But you’re saying, basically, for God’s sake, don’t do that. It’s giving you no benefit whatsoever. In effect, it’s actually probably harming you.

Phil Cavell 1:00:27
I think, I think you should definitely do one legged pedal drills, if you intend to go and do one legged pedal races. If that’s what you intend to do, then that’s a reasonable thing.

Carlton Reid 1:00:39
I could win them, I could win them.

Phil Cavell 1:00:42
If I agree with you, it’s, it’s essentially

Carlton Reid 1:00:46
not very helpful and possibly can really hurt you. Because the hip flexors are quite a delicate muscle group and they pass through the hip. There’s not a lot of space there. It’s definitely not a muscle you want to over develop. And if you look at the architecture, the architecture architect that part of our body is very, very constrained. hip flexor is not a muscle you want to mess with.

Carlton Reid 1:01:07
So mash, mash, don’t try and do circles. Okay? Now that’s that’s that, if we don’t take anything else from the book, if it’s only one thing we take away, and in fact, I’ve printed actually picked out lots of things I’ve taken from the book. But anyway, if there was only one, then that’s a pretty good one to take away. Yeah. Yep. Another one, which

Carlton Reid 1:01:29
was basically unclipping. And you call that “pedalling paracetamol”? And that’s for people who come to you with all sorts of

Carlton Reid 1:01:37
different issues. And then you do this one simple trick, you know, like this YouTube thing, one simple trick cures, and then you find that that helps a lot of people. So just, in effect, stop being constrained. Is that is that what you’re saying with with peddling paracetamol?

Phil Cavell 1:01:52
Yes. bicycle, the humble bicycle, Victorian architecture, as you said before, it’s what quite constraining, and if you can remove one constraint, and you can give somebody a different sort of feedback from the bicycle. So one of the things we do, someone comes in, they’re injured, or they’ve got a problem.

Phil Cavell 1:02:14
Head problem, kneew problem foot problem, one of the things, we look at the pedal scan, and we see that the scan is very dysfunctional, one of the things we’ll do is take off the pedal, put some flat pedals on, put them in their trainers and sit back on the bike

Phil Cavell 1:02:29
and pedal the new trainers on the flat pedals. And more often than not covering 90% of the time, you just get this kind of transformation in both pedalling activity, motor patterning, but also in their own their emotional mood, like they suddenly feel relaxed, and they feel efficient, they feel powerful, they feel productive. And all you’ve done is you’ve unkept them, frankly, and stop them being able to pull back and pull up.

Phil Cavell 1:02:56
And could they just feel again, they can just start to feel repetitive again. And it happens all the time. And it generally happens with clients who’ve been injured. Not always, by the way, but clients who’ve been injured, and we’re, and we’re trying to rehab them. And it happened the other day, it happened the last week. Last Monday, I had a client ex pro cyclist, and he’s now been sent away with, you know, a couple of months of three times a week, he has to eat for five minutes, either indoors that pedals on his mountain bike without pedals.

Phil Cavell 1:03:28
And he’s going to do it.

Carlton Reid 1:03:29
So, Phil, the the obvious question is, well, why don’t we just unclip all the time?

Phil Cavell 1:03:34
It’s a really good question, because that isn’t isn’t why we have pedals in pedals because they can provide a lot of efficiency having a stiff carbon soul which disperses the the pressure across the whole soul of foot. Pedal holds your foot in the right position relative to the pedal spindle, the maximum efficiency and power and also because you want to move around a bike, and if you’re moving around a bike, you need to have your foot clipped in, you know, it’s very hard to send fast or paddling back or get out the saddle and pedalling in time. If you’re not, there’s plenty of reasons to be clipped in. You don’t clip into pull up your clipping for for stability.

Carlton Reid 1:04:13
Hmm, okay, takeaways from the book. Okay, so I’ve got a little box out here, fill, and we can go through them.

Carlton Reid 1:04:21
And if I just if I just say what it is, and then you give me a quick, why, why you why I picked this up from the book why I think what I think is important, but you tell me why you put it in the book. So don’t drink booze.

Phil Cavell 1:04:37
Because Because ethanol alcohol ethanol is an obligate oxygen.

Carlton Reid 1:04:42
it’s a poison.

Phil Cavell 1:04:45
It treats it as poison and is obliged to metabolise it first, so it recognises as a toxin and it’s very excited about it wants to get it out your body quickly. If you’re trying to train the next day after

Carlton Reid 1:05:00
looked at many things. Your body is still frantically trying to metabolise the alcohol and won’t metabolise the very healthy breakfast you have continues to order all the alcohol. ethanol is not recognised as the body’s fuel is recognised as poison. I should say that. I’ve got no you know, I was a very, very I used to basically drink a lot of red wine. And still would, you know, I’m somebody, I’m a sinner not somebody who is abstemious by nature, we are

Carlton Reid 1:05:30
you have actually made wine recommendations in the book, there’s a couple of points where you talk about Italy,go you know, this particular vineyard to go here. So, yes, you have you’re not totally you’re not a teetotaler from from from day one. You do make wine recommendations, but that’s good point. Okay, so that’s don’t drink booses, but do drink cherry wine, sorry, cherry juice? Why would you drink cherry juice? T

Phil Cavell 1:05:53
hat’s been shown to have some points

Phil Cavell 1:05:56
have some effects in terms of sleep and recovery? So cherry juice is has been shown to be quite beneficial.

Phil Cavell 1:06:06
That was

Phil Cavell 1:06:08
it’s been out for a few years that research. I mean, certainly cherry juice seems to be a bit like whoever was taking

Phil Cavell 1:06:16
on what they it was. A few years ago. Everyone was

Carlton Reid 1:06:19

Phil Cavell 1:06:20
beetroot juice, weren’t they? Same thing.

Phil Cavell 1:06:23
There are certain certain chemicals in the in beetroot and in cherry. It used to seem to have some beneficial effects. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 1:06:31
And it’s also good for sleep, isn’t it? Usually you say it’s

Carlton Reid 1:06:36
melatonin at night and stuff?

Phil Cavell 1:06:38
Yeah. So it stimulates

Phil Cavell 1:06:40
Which which which secretes melatonin, which helps you sleep.

Carlton Reid 1:06:45
Okay, now you’re a big fan in the book of cross training. So you do say you know don’t it’s not Yeah, it’s about the bike but don’t be on the bike all the time. One thing and this is actually something I do all the time anyway. And so you said about walking over uneven surfaces and that’s for bone density. So you know, don’t take just your dog on the canal towpath, you know, go into the woods a bit and get a bit of off roading in. But then you also mentioned something I don’t do that. Maybe I should and that’s paddleboarding so it seems you’re you’re kind of like a big convert into paddleboarding?

Phil Cavell 1:07:20
Yes. I’m into anything? Yes, I think the older you get. It’s almost like the less cycling you need to do to be faster at cycling you won’t be fast at cycling. The older you get the more you’re gonna have to drop out cycling in something else. Your photo you’re fighting bone density sarcopenia which is muscle loss. So your for you need to exchange your cycle sessions with something else. What do you what do you exchange them for? so chaotic walking? That is great man listen describes a great friend of mine physiotherapist because it walking is just a way if you can’t run for one reason or another. Healthy walk is a really good idea. So walking, probably walking poles on rough ground every step it’s different for bone density for balance for strength. paddleboarding is great for cyclists because it works on several things we really add

Phil Cavell 1:08:10
strength, lower trap strength, and also keeps us an extension of not flexed. Or an office chair. We’re an extension so paddleboarding It is really really very good for scientists is almost a perfect antidote sight out one session and put in something else something like a boarding or walking with all or something.

Carlton Reid 1:08:33
Okay, next, you kind of pre dismissive on most supplements but then you do say vitamin D

Phil Cavell 1:08:43
Yes, between these a hormone, it’s not a vitamin. So it provokes the body to do something.

Phil Cavell 1:08:49
And vitamin D i think is without, you know without

Phil Cavell 1:08:55
proselytising saying say you’re watching run out and buy vitamin D, it doesn’t have a role in in provoking middle aged athletes to you know, to increase density things to have some function of the immune system. We live in the Northern Hemisphere, supposedly getting the same sunshine that we used to, you know, seems to make sense, which is long overdue it

Phil Cavell 1:09:19
supplements seems to be what seems to be pretty much universally accepted, I think between these as you get older and still trying to hang on performance.

Carlton Reid 1:09:30
And that than maybe cod liver oil, you kind of you say you take that as a supplement too.

Phil Cavell 1:09:34
Cod liver oil Yes, it’s cod liver oil obviously it’s it’s, it’s it’s good because it is you know your lipids and your blood

Phil Cavell 1:09:45
is HDL but also it is also anti inflammatory because fish oil actually has an anti inflammatory role.

Phil Cavell 1:09:55
So you know, cycling essentially high level Cycling is inflammatory

Carlton Reid 1:10:00
And, you know, he fish oil will actually be a mild anti inflammatory.

Carlton Reid 1:10:06
And then a big I’ve actually put this in caps a big takeout from the from the book which you mentioned a couple of times a few times. And that is sleep.

Phil Cavell 1:10:14
Oh yes, this is a big one. I mean, I, we didn’t go into this enough and I wish I had. But I think the fall asleep is underestimated it’s underestimated with older people, older athletes, we just underestimated we just try and burn the candle at both in and then you know, make a sandwich out of it. It’s just like, we’re into March. And sleep seems to have the thinktel role every year studies and the research seems to suggest sleeps role is more and more crucial. I think midlife people, you know, panting profession, family exercise responsibilities, you know, the first thing that we can get rid of, it’s sleep. So, you know, it’s an extra hour. And we need, you know, we get up earlier, you know, so we sacrifice it willingly to try and try and tick off the rest of its responsibilities. But there seems to be interest.

Carlton Reid 1:11:07
Zwifters have now got a turn away here. Now that turn off now, because you’re not really a big fan of indoor cycling, are you?

Phil Cavell 1:11:16
No, I think I think I’m, I think that’s fair to say, Carlton.

Phil Cavell 1:11:20
Yeah, I can’t deny that.

Carlton Reid 1:11:21
So why Why? I mean, you mentioned in the book, but tell us now why you’re not a big fan of indoor cycling.

Phil Cavell 1:11:27
I’m not a fan of it because

Phil Cavell 1:11:30
I think people go too hard, in a poor position in poorly ventilated rooms. with not enough hydration, it’s just this this alarm authority for me, because an indoor cycling generally and this is an assumption and I might be wrong. But generally speaking, these days, indoor cycling seems to be about going very, very hard and very, very far pain cave stuff, isn’t it? So the even the pain is saying, you know, we’re going to hurt ourselves. Yeah.

Phil Cavell 1:12:04
Yeah. And I to me something star side where the topography in the road and the terrain and limit your effort, you know, you go up the hill, and you’re gonna go down a hill, you know, there’s a natural kind of flattening effect. If you like, your south side, so there’s fresher air and slightly, okay, and, you know, all these things. And there’s something about the way people are wired in or, you know, when they’re really riding hard, I think, form on the bike posture, and then muscle recruitment and their motor patterning. And they seem to kind of fight, right, which itself is completely stationary and mobile, so it’s not moving with you. And that’s what we forget, when we ride a bike out on the trail. You know, that moves us soccer dance, isn’t it, it’s moving and you’re moving, moving together. That doesn’t happen, you move in.

Phil Cavell 1:12:53
And guess which one’s gonna get thought.

Carlton Reid 1:12:55
So there’s a nice quote in there from from Dr. David Hulse. That’s on page 169. For anybody who’s reading along with this podcast. And that is “cycling mile upon mile in scenery.” I thought that encapsulated a lot. It’s like, you can actually go a lot further than you think when you’ve got nice things to look at.

Phil Cavell 1:13:19
What page is that?

Carlton Reid 1:13:20
Page 269. So it’s in one of the it’s in one of the final bits where

Carlton Reid 1:13:29
and I just thought that was excellent. Because it that Yeah, because my son’s just done a video of Scotland, his trip in Scotland recently. And just the the scenery was wonderful. And you’re just looking at it. And it’s probably one of the reasons that video do quite well is because a, he’s done some great drone photography of him and his girlfriend cycling, the weather was beautiful. So you can see for miles and miles, you can see the road snaking away. And you can just think, yeah, I could do 60 miles through that kind of stuff pretty easily. Because it looks so beautiful. So get out there and ride that’s actually the way we end the podcast. But that that is actually something that is quite important that that part of cycling, you lose that, no amount of computer generated graphics can can bring that that part of cycling into reality.

Phil Cavell 1:14:21
I agree with you. Dave Hulse writes beautifully. He writes beautifully.

Carlton Reid 1:14:27
And so yeah, it towards the end of the the book, you’re talking about how your next book in 20 years time when you’re that old is going to be called “The Twilight Cyclist”. So I absolutely look forward to to reading. I get to that age And I’m sure we’ll have another podcast even though I’m sure when we call that of course something weird and wonderful. In the future where we’ll we’ll talk about that book. But let’s come back to the present and the Bloomsbury book, Bloomsbury Sports. £14.99

Carlton Reid 1:15:00
It’s got $20 on the back here. How can people get hold of the book? Phil? How can they get hold of you? What are your social media handles? And give us your

Carlton Reid 1:15:13
website so people can go to your corporate side?

Phil Cavell 1:15:16
Yes. So

Phil Cavell 1:15:20
You can buy the book

Phil Cavell 1:15:23
I’ve got you can follow me on twitter if you want my content.

Phil Cavell 1:15:28
I think it’s just about anywhere you can search me on Twitter.

Carlton Reid 1:15:32
Thanks to Phil Cavell and thanks to you for listening to the spokesmen cycling podcast show notes and more can be found on I know I’ve already said the usual show sign up. But as you’ve heard from Phil and Dr Hulse it bears repeating. So

Carlton Reid 1:15:55
get out there and ride and “there”, of course, is outside …

July 11, 2021 / / Blog

f your podcast catcher not showing in links above (black circle with three dots)? Loads more on PodLink. Show is also on Spotify. and Google Podcasts.

11th July 2021

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 277: Le Tour: Too Hot to Handle


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Donna Tocci and Jim Moss

TOPICS: Marketing specialist Donna Tocci, lawyer Jim Moss and show host Carlton Reid discuss their highlights so far of the 2021 Tour de France. Plus a little bit of US trade news. And Jim’s dogs.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 277 of the spokesman cycling podcast. This show was recorded on Sunday 11th of July 2021.

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For shownotes links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the- And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:09
Hi there I’m Carlton Reid and welcome to today’s episode of the Spokesmen Cycling podcast brought to you in association with Jenson USA. Today’s show is a smidgen of US bike trade news squeezed into an hour of Tour de France chit chat. Joining me from the baking/raining US — delete as appropriate — are outdoor lawyer Job Moss (and that’s outdoor as in skiing, cycling and mountaineering, not Jim practicing laws outside) and marketing specialist Donna Tocci. It’s another Tour de France day in the boiling, boiling hot Pyrenees. The ride has ended. And we’re going to talk about that. First off, and the person who suggested that that we should talk about that is the person we’re introduced first. And that’s Donna. Hi there, Donna. Hi.

Donna Tocci 2:05
It’s so great to be back on with both of you.

Carlton Reid 2:08
And the both of us is actually I’ll bring Jim in straightaway. Given the fact that somebody else in the shadow. Okay, Jim, how you doing? I’m doing great. Hi, everybody. Donna, I was going to talk to you fast before I brought him in. But I’ll come straight back to you anyway. Because we were talking before the I press record and this before we go you got to have Jim on the same call. And we were talking about I guess, as people do we talk we start talking about weather. And Donna, you were saying it was rainy for you. It’s rainy for me also. And we’re then thinking about what’s what’s what David is suffering from we know what he’s suffering from because he’s told us he’s going up into the mountains to it to escape the heat. We know absolutely that Tim living in So Cal is going to be roasting. And we assume, Jim, that you are also suffering from a wave is that would that be right? Yes. Haha gym.

Jim Moss 3:08
Glenwood Springs two days ago was 100 Grand Junction was 106 year record. We’ve had five 100 degree days here in Denver, where normally we would have three or four for the whole summer. And even the mountains are. I mean, it’s always up in the mountains. I’ve been up in the mountains every Friday for the last eight weeks building mountain bike trails and it’s even hot up there. It’s it’s quite ridiculous. And more importantly, when this heatwave now in May, we got so much rain. We didn’t turn our sprinklers on and I have mosquito problems at two Boy Scout camps that I help. They’ve never had mosquitoes. I mean, they just never had it but there’s so much rain in May and now in June we’re roasting right so we’re expecting the place to then catch on fire. I mean,

Carlton Reid 4:13
yeah, you’ve got that to come Haven’t you so don’t tell us about what you’re talking about. I’m what maybe the Tour de France are gonna have to the organisers are gonna have to do in the in the very probably the very, very near future.

Donna Tocci 4:25
That’s always surprised me being an event organiser for road races. That road racing with

Carlton Reid 4:33
this is running, running this running.

Donna Tocci 4:35
Yep. Running, that you try and have the events in the summer as early as possible, because you don’t want to have the heat exhaustion or heatstroke or anything like that. And it has always surprised me that the tour doesn’t start early. The stages don’t start early. They start them in the heat of the day. They’re they’re talking about the heat even more so this year, I think and you know we won’t go down the rabbit Climate change. But um, but you know, it’s, it’s scary what could happen to some of these writers, you know, their body temperatures can rise, they can have seizures, they could just become dizzy, lightheaded, fall off their bikes, nausea, you know, all of that rapid breathing and heartbeats. All of that is symptoms of heatstroke or heat exhaustion. And you just you worry about these guys, after a while they’re on their bikes for four and a half hours a day in the blazing sun, you know, putting max effort. Yes, they are amazing athletes and their bodies have been trained. But you know, there comes a point when I’m surprised they haven’t had a problem yet network.

Carlton Reid 5:45
Because when we do small teams or move we follow the professional riders, including like in the Tour de France, the attap you don’t start at the time they start, you know, they’re starting like midday, one o’clock, you know, when you do the the tap, you’re starting at seven o’clock for that very reason. So it’s almost like we need a duty of care for these riders in that, you know, we’re we’re putting them through stuff that clearly for TV schedules, you know, that’s why the time is, is there right now? Because it’s it’s really good for, for getting on TV. And if you have it, you know, incredibly early, it’s going to start mucking up those kind of schedules. Jim, are we are we from a legal you know, duty of care point of view, should they be looking at this much, much harder?

Jim Moss 6:31
Well, in the United States would be an OSHA issue, whether or not your employees have the ability to get cool. I’m not quite sure about Europe. And and you know, your professional so you agree to race in the conditions that are there. In cycling also has a slightly different issue, I cycle in really hot weather because I maintain a speed that provides unless I’ve just got nothing but tailwind, some breeze coming at you. So when you sweat, you you don’t feel as hot because the moisture gets whisked away pretty quick. But you’ve got to have plenty of water. And you know, in Denver, a lot of our city parks took out their water fountains over the last couple of years. And so a lot of times, I’ll plan my rides based on where I can get more water. You know, I started out with a one water bottle that half the waters already been frozen in and I add more ice and water and the other one I just had ice and water. And then knowing that, you know, the second half of the ride is going to be lukewarm stuff I got out of the spicket someplace, but I at least know where there’s water.

Carlton Reid 7:41
And that person getting enough gym, the pros are getting enough water, you know, we see the domestiques you know, bring in bring in? What is that an SU? You know that there’s that duty of care? We’ve got that covered? It’s just the damn heat,

Jim Moss 7:53
right? And if it kills somebody and it will it think about how hot the asphalt is, if you go down, think about this, what tires you’re writing, if the asphalt gets sticky, you know, I mean, those are going to be real issues coming out of the mountains, you’re on a hard cold asphalt going up in the mountains, and then you come down to the city, you drop 2000 feet temperature changes 20 degrees and you’re hot asphalt. It’s going to be interesting. So yeah, it’s gonna be a problem, they’re eventually gonna have to switch either to higher starting times, or they got to change the whole tour de July is going to be the tour of Antarctica if you can swim. And and you know that maybe they go to sometime in September, October. Most of the races here nowadays have sort of disappeared. We have evening races, a lot of evening crits and gravel races. But weekends, you know, the big long rides are now all May and September

Carlton Reid 8:58
and be tough to move it from like the month because that’s kind of traditional, but there’s no reason to say you can’t have this at 7pm. You know, that’d be actually from a US point of view. That’d be quite good, wouldn’t it? you’d actually having a slightly more reasonable time for you.

Jim Moss 9:15
You have a boy than your then your face and light issues? Yeah, well, I mean, they they have to get done before it gets. I had to get done an hour before get started. So you, you’re probably not on a four or five hour day, you’re not gonna be missing much time starting at two or three, four hours later, you’re still writing to the heat. That you know they have to start at 7am in the morning. The road races start at seven or 8am. Yeah. Just no other way around.

Donna Tocci 9:46
Yeah, and your body. Sometimes your body actually heats up when you stop. So yes, Jim, you’re right. And when you’re on the bike, you have a breeze if you’re going you know as fast as they go but when you stop is Sometimes when it catches up to you, yeah, so um, yeah, I’m, I’m interested. I have not heard that they’ve had this problem before, but I would be interested to hear in the future what what happens is they’re talking about, you know, for the US I did the conversion, it’s like 8687 degrees. While they’re riding, that’s just really four and a half hours. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 10:27
Yeah, no, it’s it’s absolutely, Punisher and some riders clearly will, will be able to cope with that better than others. Now, I’ve obviously that we’ve all seen the famous images of people, you know, with a bead on running. I mean, this is like, you know, 60 years we’ve seen this, this is not new, that there’s been heat in the Alps and the pyramids and stuff. But you see, a bead on being been, you know, sprayed across a rider to call them down. What I’ve seen in Portland, Oregon, which I noticed is actually one of the places had a heatwave, just very recently, probably even still now. I thought I was on a bike shop when I was there a few years ago. hoop which is basically that the riders, anybody can go through it, a rider goes through a hoop that’s actually made up of a hose pipe, and they’ve drilled little holes. So when you go through it is a cooling sheet of water. And that sounded like a fantastic thing to do individually outside the shop. But maybe they should be started doing this for the for the riders where you’re not getting somebody coming along with a bead on down the back of your neck, just cool the riders down by spraying them with water.

Jim Moss 11:40
You know, I was on a ride that makes my ride on Thursday, Thursday, and several of the sprinkler systems were going along the ride and I kept riding into them because they were shooting into the to the bike trail and the right into them and get cooled down a little bit. It’s it’s you just use what’s available. You know, rainstorm, quick rainstorm, left water on the trail and wrongly a ride around the water and we were all riding through it and washed bikes away later, but it cools you down. But yeah, it’s it’s gonna be a problem, it’s gonna be a major problem here in the West.

Carlton Reid 12:22
Drink that stuff. You know a lot, a lot of the a lot of the the the systems are set, if it’s agricultural, in spraying the field, a lot of that is actually chemicals in there as well as water. Yeah, I know, when I used to tour in Israel. That was actually one of the things you must not do is drink the hydroponics, you know, the system going through the fields that are watering making the desert bloom. In effect, you don’t drink that stuff, because it’s half of it is just pure, pure chemicals. Anyway, none of that was was in our show notes to show topics to begin with. So Donna, thank you ever so much for bringing that that’s it’s a phenomenal point that they’re going to have to address that. If not very, very soon, then at some point, they’re going to have to absolutely change the timings for these events because of their heat. Now. We’re now you know, best part of two weeks in to the race and we are going to go backwards a little bit. And that is do you agree that it’s good that the tour is no longer the organisers are no longer going to be suing that spectator? who caused the crash Tony Martin’s crash in on the opening stage. Donna, do you think they that’s right for them to do that? Or should they have pursued that person?

Donna Tocci 13:41
Oh, I have a lot of thoughts about this. I don’t know about legal Jim can talk about that. But, you know, suing her for for just being stupid. And I hate that word. But this really was, um, she wasn’t malicious. She didn’t have any intent. She was just being stupid. I’m shocked that this doesn’t happen every year. Because you see the end. We’ve talked about this before, in years past is and there is no way to barrier off the entire course for the day. But the people are standing so close. They have flags, they have signs. And when you go into the mountains, they are literally screaming in the faces of these guys and flying their flags in their faces. I am shocked that this doesn’t happen every year. It was terrible and all of that but there was no intent. There was no maliciousness. I don’t see how you could sue. But Jim can answer.

Carlton Reid 14:53
Well, Jim, the legal legal Eagle of the show. What Where do you stand on this?

Jim Moss 14:58
Well, it’s French lawsuits. Very different from the US law, I had those questions pop up when I posted the article. So whether or not we can sewer in the United States, it probably be difficult. But in France lawsuits a lot easier or a lot more difficult to do. But she didn’t get arrested criminally. And that’s probably what should happen. The issue is, is do you make an example of her to prove to the rest of the spectators to get the heck off the roads? What was it two, three years ago when the motorcycle stopped, and, you know, the riders ran into the back of the motorcycle, and one rider grabbed a bike and took off running, you know, we got to get the spectators off the road. And if, if they get into one at the same time, it’s one of the fantastic parts of being at a bicycle race. I know it’s so close. Think about the guy who always has the helmet on and says you helmet with antlers. And he shows up racing across the road of this race. And he comes running out of the woods someplace and runs along with the with the riders. Nice smart enough, he stays out of the way. But it’s some other races. I mean, when you’re close enough, you can knock the cell phone of the person taking a selfie out of their hands onto the ground, then we’ve got to get some intelligence into these people. And if making a martyr or making an example out of this woman is what it takes, then go for it, do whatever you have to do, because at the speed some of these writers are writing even though it may be uphill, it’s still dangerous. We can see that in the in the video. I think the real issue is is should they still be based on how long this last. You know, if if the rest of the tour people are staying off the course. Then it worked. If it works for the next year, people stay off the course. That’s a success but but I think that you need to tell these people they have to get out of the way. You know, when I’ve when I’ve had immediate badgers one time I got to close in the motorcycle driver gave me the nasty look, you know, because he actually had to slow down for a second light jumped. And, you know, that’s looking through a camera lens and not doing a good job of calculating through the lens when people went where people were. It didn’t cause a problem for the race. It caused the problem for the motorcycle rider and that was his job. But, you know, even the media people screw up once a while. But we got to keep people off the course. Yeah, get close. Enjoy the riders, you know, see the sweat. Yeah, the whole time. What’s been bothering me is one of one of these people have COVID of these writers are sucking in massive amounts of air and over, you know, someone’s screaming in their face. And you’re getting it you’re getting whatever disease they have, you know, you know, you sort of want to ride with a mask he said you wouldn’t go to just sucking enough oxygen I suspect

Donna Tocci 18:23
or, or sergeant. If you know if there’s someone who is trying to do harm to the to the riders or the race, ethnic and again, you can’t you can’t barricade the whole road. So I mean, this is going to continue to be an issue but but Jimmy You’re right. I mean, they’re they’re just it’s a balance between wanting to be that close and rider safety. Hmm.

Jim Moss 18:51
I think the picture shows a lot there’s a difference in my opinion, of getting close to the racers, watching the racers getting encouraging them to go harder, faster, better. supporting your country, your team, whatever. This had nothing to do with that. She just wanted to be on TV. And I know she got TV she got beaten. She did a good job. she

Carlton Reid 19:21
succeeded. Yeah, yep. Well done grandmother.

Jim Moss 19:25
So I think in that case, yeah, maybe you you do take her down because it had nothing to do with racing had to do with ego.

Carlton Reid 19:33
Okay, so, Jim, you’d be an awful judge because you’d be sending people down left right and centre Donna, you’re clearly the wisdom of Solomon. You were much much more lenient on people. Let’s Let’s there’s so many talking points around this tour potentially one of them being well, we already know who the winner is, which is kind of takes away the Jeopardy angle. But despite that, there’s still obviously tonnes and tonnes of things. have already gone on in this tour already make absolute belter now one of them from from a from a global point of view Never mind a British point of view. It’s just Mark Cavendish. So Mark Cavendish is equalling of Eddie mercs his record is phenomenal he you know it’s up there with the the absolute best of any British sports person, you know ever you know I liken it to Roger Bannister you know breaking the two minute mark and stuff. It’s like it’s just amazing. a certain person might not have taken Cavendish his victories Quite so. Well Is that so let me just read what Eddie Merckx actually said that we don’t know the content. I don’t know the context of why Eddie said this. I have interviewed Eddie, I have had dinners with Eddie I have written with Eddie. He is absolutely famously grumpy. So what he said absolutely fits in to the pattern of this sounds absolutely the what like what Eddie would say. Anyway, I’ll read it out to you. So it is. This is Eddie. I think somebody asked him on I think this Belgian TV or Italian TV, they asked him a question about what do you think about Cavendish and he came up with this he said, I want 34 stages by winning Sprint’s I’m not going to do his his accent By the way, in the mountains in time trials and going on the attack on the descent. Let’s not forget the five yellow jerseys I’ve got at home plus the 96 days I award. Does that that not seem much? Clearly he was riled. So the question must have upset him. But do you guys not think he could have just said congratulations to Kevin that’s it. Just Say No more? What What do you think? What does that be submerge any of his his memory? Donna, what do you what do you think about what he said?

Donna Tocci 21:47
Well, I did a little research because the last couple of years have taught me that just a little blurb on Twitter isn’t always the right context. Really? I did not know that. So I went and I found an article and he he did say that but he started with there’ll be no problem. If Cavendish equals my record, I won’t lose any sleep over it. If he does it. I’ll congratulate him because it’s not easy to win 34 Sprint’s and then he went on to say, of course, there’s a difference between us. And then the quote that you set. So in context, it’s a little bit different. Um, it’s still

Carlton Reid 22:33
quiet, anyway.

Donna Tocci 22:35
But before the race, somebody asked him about cab and the prospect of him, you know, catching the record. And he said, to be honest, I no longer believed in his comeback. Miracles can sometimes happen in cycling. I think that’s such a miracle. So I don’t know. I mean, could he have congratulated him a little bit more? Maybe. But that’s his personality. And I don’t think we should be reading him too much. I think he will absolutely. Congratulate Cavendish and he should and, you know, records are made to be broken. But you know, he’s working and that’s okay.

Carlton Reid 23:17
He’s quirky. You. You’re definitely right, then thank you for bringing some of the context in there done. I really don’t think it absolutely exonerated at all. But yes, thank you for bringing that up, Jim. With that new bit of context, is that alter maybe anything that you might have been thinking about? Or maybe you didn’t even need that context to think what you’re going to say?

Jim Moss 23:36
All right, first of all, anyone who has three autobiographies written by the time they’re age 30, I am, I think, a little whacked out just some ridiculousness going on there. The personality there is interesting. Um, and so I also think there’s a difference. I mean, the sport has definitely evolved. We now have specialists. like there’s no tomorrow when Marx was writing, we had people who are going to win the Tour, and we had people who were helping him win the Tour. We didn’t have teams that showed up with just sprinters hoping to win, you know, races or just with mountain riders. You know, it’s, it’s like everything in life. We’ve got it down to finite degrees. Everyone does specific things. You know, marketing now includes posting on social media and communications because posting on social media, and, you know, obviously, that didn’t exist 20 years ago, and at the same time, I also think Burke’s accomplishments mean a lot more. And I think because of the fact that he won races, the entire rather than just winning spreads. How many times have we seen Cavendish drop out of the race after winning three or four Sprint’s knowing he wasn’t going to go to the finish, or feel good or something. How many times has he stood on the podium going? Yeah, I’m the sprint winner.

Carlton Reid 25:14
I think we know there’s differences, you know, between what max did and what Cavendish did we kind of we kind of know there’s that there. I’m just looking at this point of view of just, you know, the differences there. But still, you would as as with emotional intelligence, as a person you would hold back now you’re also with with knowing, you know, what, how journalists are going to frame this, and how they will pick out quotes, you would know, to keep quiet. When you you just repeat you’d be like a politician almost. And maybe that’s maybe that’s a good thing that that mercs isn’t a politician. And that he’s just said what he thinks. But yeah, they are journalists are going to pick that quote, they are going to zoom in on that bit, when all he should have said was, congratulations, and keep his his his thought maybe a bit more private. Well, that’s what I

Donna Tocci 26:07
was looking for, though. So we don’t know if he’s called Cavendish. We don’t know any of that. And also, so Eddie is 76. And me being a little philosophy, philosophical, is Do you think he’s trying to stay relevant? Like he doesn’t want people to forget about him or forget what he did? And so that’s why he was listing off his accomplishments for Jim, to your point, is there something going on three out of biographies by the time he was 30? I don’t know. But, you know, at 76, maybe he feels the sports moving on from him, and he wants to be relevant for another week or so

Carlton Reid 26:42
I don’t know. He will never not be relevant, or he will always be known as the most accomplished to run it for the for the reasons Jim said, you know, he did it in when he won the race, he didn’t just win win status, we know that he’s absolutely going to be the pinnacle of the sport forever.

Jim Moss 27:00
So that’s the difference. Everybody is jumping on Cavendish bandwagon for what he’s accomplished. And that’s fantastic. But and Cavendish himself always appreciates his team, because it takes, you know, 234 people to get him where he’s gone. Now. But when you look at the Tour de France and the great writers in the Tour de France, Cavendish, his name is not on that list. It’s the winners. The people who wear the yellow jersey on the final day that matter, not the ones who are there just to I mean, I just don’t see sprinting as any big thing.

Carlton Reid 27:44
This is such a shame. Wow. No, I allow your dog to bite you. There you go. Because your dog was totally grumbling when you when you’re talking about Cavendish and mercs Hey, I sent that your dog Jim was very much in Kevin dishes camp. Yeah, he was. He was he was he was grumbling when you were talking about Cavendish not being as good as mercs I think your dog

Jim Moss 28:14
there was another dog walking around outside my dog has no opinion about

Donna Tocci 28:19
but you more agree with mercs comments than not then.

Jim Moss 28:26
Yeah, I do. I also think that a 76 year old guy who’s accomplished everything he can has the right to say that he wants as well as the right for the for the reporters and journalists to take it out of context and do what you want. But if if if currently said Jim, fly over to the UK, we’re going to dinner with either mercs or Cavendish. I’ve never met Cavendish. I have talked to Eddie marks a couple times. I’m still gonna go talk to mercs. Um, I mean, I I cannot do it. I can’t do what either those two gentlemen have done. I and I’m not a sprinter for sure. I mean, I’m the last thing you’d ever call me as a sprinter. And it’s amazing when he takes off. It’s amazing how he can follow his lead out people when everyone was trying to cut him off. So I’m not taking Cavin I’m not taking I don’t want to take anything away from Cavendish. But I think taking anything away from mercs on what he said about it. It is is wrong. I think that there is a big difference between winning sprinters jerseys winning races. The way emerged versus winning races the way Cavendish did I think there’s a colossal difference Okay, so

Donna Tocci 29:47
alright, so Carlton, can I go back and this is similar topic because who’s going to wear the jerseys when they get to Paris, is you said the tour is already we already know who’s going to win. But do we? Because you have people with signs on the side of the road. You have people who get sick, you have people who crash. I mean, this is something my dad always said about car racing. You knew I would have to get that in there is that there’s a reason why you race the race. So, you know, yes, it looks like it would be.

Carlton Reid 30:23
So Donnie, he’s gonna stay around. He’s gonna stay up, right? So basically, okay, barring crashes, and barring being taken out by a spectator or barring, you know, Eddie mercs leaping on and suddenly pulling people from bikes for daring to win his race barbering that, then yes, yes. We don’t know who wins. But we do know who’s going to win if none of that happens. And yes, all of those things absolutely can happen. And we really don’t want them to happen. We want this to be a pure race of athletes. A little less. Absolutely, yes, yes. But barring all these miniscule things that might happen, from an athletic point of view, we know who’s going to win. So so that has taken the Jeopardy and it was almost the first one. When was the first time he was in the you know, it was a fourth or fifth day where he was clearly going to take that jersey to Paris if he doesn’t fall off. So does that not, you know, take away a lot of the shine from this year’s race, Donner just knowing that all we’re looking out for is is false. We’re not looking for somebody Really? Are we really expecting anybody to power past him in the pennies?

Donna Tocci 31:37
No, I don’t think so. And I and let me make this clear, because I don’t want nasty grammes later. I don’t want anything to happen to him. That’s not why I said that. I just said it, because you don’t know. I mean, that’s why you race the race, right? I don’t think provided he stays up. Right. And he stays healthy. I don’t think anyone’s going to catch him. I think that the question and Jim, I’d love to hear your answer for this is, is Cavendish going to make it over the mountains.

Jim Moss 32:10
When you get the announcers, the US announcer saying the cut off time is in 40 minutes. And it looks like Cavendish is going to make it sort of bugs me when when you have a Domestique that’s been hustling water bottles to the front, hustling, you know, things around doing a poll, you know, working hard the entire race. Yeah, then the cutoff time means something because those people are already exhausted by the time you know, they get to the base of the mountain and they still get over. Versus the announcers are now following whether or not a sprinter or the sprinters are going to make it because

Carlton Reid 32:59
cities middle legs, these little legs up or down. It’s so hard for Mark I mean really isn’t built. He’s not really built for this race. If you if you really, really be brutally, he has got to be, you know, shepherded over those hills.

Donna Tocci 33:17
He’s here. So there’s Carlton when you’re saying does it take some of the shine out of the race? I think that’s where the announcers and the journalists, they’re focusing on Cavendish? Not necessarily for the record, but also for the drama, if you will. Does he get over the mountain does that you know, that’s where the story is.

Jim Moss 33:37
Do you think there was ever a comment? Do you think there was ever an issue of any merge getting over the mountains and getting in for the cut off time? So we have a point, we have a person in the Tour de France riding with a jersey leader’s jersey, not the yellow one but but a different colour. And we are worried about them not getting thrown out of the race. And yet at certain points in the race, we say they are the greatest writer ever, because they can sprint.

Carlton Reid 34:11
Are you Oh, does that mean you’re not you’re not quite up with the fact that there are speciality so you have sprinters and you have mountain goats and you have GC riders are you are you decrying that fact? Would you rather see like the van out of this world library, you know, all rounders, would you rather have a race of all rounders, Jim?

Jim Moss 34:34
Yeah, that I thought that I’d rather have a race. I just think that it makes more sense. I think we’re taking a lot away from the wear of the yellow jersey with the polka dots in the green so whatever colours there are in these racist Great example, who’s the female I crapped my brain With that female writer of crash to the World Championships, but was expected to win from the United States. Anyway, when she won the the Colorado classic last time she raised here, she wore every single jersey, no other person was wearing a jersey, she had won them all. That’s a racer, in my opinion, she could leave in the mountains, she could do the sprints, she could win the end, no matter what the course was the gym days, and she won all four jerseys.

Carlton Reid 35:41
Isn’t that all the beauty of the Tour de France and and that’s the grand tour is in that you have got races within races. So if you do have somebody who’s clearly dominant and can win and everything, and in fact, you don’t have Jeopardy after the first four days, and it’s a three week tour, at least you have these other elements. And that’s what they were designed for, you know, these jerseys were brought in to do exactly that, to have different element to the race, you would have races within races, because we all know that the polka dot jersey tends not to be the best climber, or the genuine, the best climate of the tour is going to be the person who goes out and get to the point and then probably drops back and doesn’t, you know, is at risk of being like almost like Cavendish and not finishing that day’s stage. But that’s also a plus point, isn’t it? You can’t just have everybody being a generalist. Otherwise the race could be over in the first three days. And it’s a three week talk. Jim,

Jim Moss 36:38
I’m thinking, I don’t know when I tried to figure out when the race was over in the first three days. And Chloé Dygert is the name of the free throws thinking up. I don’t buy into the idea that I’m more like Donna along the lineup, I think there’s always a chance that the race can change. I think that is why the tour is such a fantastic race is because and until that, you know next last day, whatever that race is, it can always change something can always go wrong. Bikes no matter how well they’re maintained. Break. Yep. And so I think that’s the issue of the tour. I think that the other jerseys are proud on to provide entertainment to keep people interested in a three week long tour, who may not follow all three weeks, who, you know, will just show up for the last day or just watch weekend. Those other jerseys provide entertainment during the race. Are they racist within the race? Sure. Are they marketing issues? I think they’re more of that than anything else. And as that then created its own? Has the marketing created its own reality. Yeah, we have bicycle racers who are on the big racers who do one thing now they ride it in, we have racers who only do one thing they ride to the top. You know, I mean, it’s so so the sprint jersey used to be worn by the person who won at the end of the race. Now the sprint has now during each ride, we have sprint points mid race, we’re getting a race within a race within a race.

Donna Tocci 38:30
So Jim, do you think with the different jerseys maybe being marked more marketing and this sprinting with, you know, within the race, do you think that takes away from the purist the generalist and takes away from those folks racing the race? I think a generalist like a mercs you know, who did it all? Do you think that takes away from those guys?

Jim Moss 38:58
I don’t know if it takes away as much as we have a team that knows they can’t win. So they train and get something else. I the winner, the total people accents. I represent so many different sports categories. People ask me who are the toughest people that I know. And they talk football every single time here in the United States. And I think that’s just a joke. I say that if you want to meet some of the toughest people in the world, you should find a bicycle racer and a mountain near bicycle racers can do it for 21 days at all out for 21 days and it’s brutal. And a mountain near does for 72 hours all out. And you know, life is on the line. Those are the toughest people I’ve ever met. And some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and skinniest and yeah, and skinniest also. And yet a football player who believes he’s the toughest person out there. You’re not allowed to talk to me if you get you know, they’re surrounded by people. You can’t get near them. I’ve never seen anyone you know who’s come off adverse to didn’t want to talk and would talk to anybody, that merchant in the street. Hey, did you know I just summited Everest? And look at the bicycle racers? Man, they’re just, it’s just brutal, brutal stress on your body. So do I think it takes away? No, I think that the whole tour is the winner. Do I think it adds different things to look for different reasons to watch the tour? Yes. And for that reason, I think it’s a beautiful and pre marketing idea. But

Carlton Reid 40:47
let’s not forget Jim did, the whole tour was founded, the whole tour exists on selling you things. This is why this this exists. This is it. This is a marketing event. You know, it’s not a sporting event, just to happen to have a bit of sport as an element. It’s just to sell a little bit teams, these these are not the British team, the American team, the attain, these are commercial teams. So all these teams are trying to sell you things. So we’ve got to bear that in mind. This is just you’ve got to have all these changes. You’ve got to have like the speciality and the races within races, because you want people to keep watching and if you have a race over in the first five days, people stop watching people stop buying the product, they no longer buy the tiles or the cookers, you know, the Borah cookers, all these weird and wacky products that are on the the shirts of the Tour de France riders.

Donna Tocci 41:39
Right you get less awareness, your your sponsorship gets less awareness if people stop watching less eyeballs, people don’t come to the race. Absolutely. Really. No TV time. But Jim, we can have a whole philosophy of the whole talk about the toughest athletes because I would challenge definitely not football. I would challenge hockey players. No way. 90 minutes. Now, wait. But that’s not for this podcast, maybe we’ll do a different.

Jim Moss 42:16
I tell you an easy way to think about it, Donna, you get a hockey player, put 45 pounds on their back, put another 20 pounds of clothing on them and put five pounds on each foot and a mountaineering boots and have them hike uphill for three days.

Donna Tocci 42:33
I don’t know. But a lot of I don’t know about that. But I do know a lot of them cycle especially in the offseason to to keep in shape. And I know that some of the former pro hockey players are now taking up cycling. So

Jim Moss 42:51
I think it’s wonderful, but it’s not, it’s not the ability to do it. It’s the mental toughness that makes the difference. In my opinion, it is the toughness to get up the next day, after x hours of sleep, whatever it may be, and put on that same set of clothing and go out and do it again. And in the case of mountaineers, knowing that if they screw up their debt, and they’re not dead. No,

Carlton Reid 43:20
yeah, there’s there’s some genuine Jeopardy isn’t there, you’re gonna fall off the mountain, you kind of you’re dead. At this point of the show. I’d like that night to break for a commercial interlude. It will take us out but when we come back, we’re going to have a wee bit of US trade news, which is hot off the if these things exist anymore, hot off the press. And Jim will talk about that. And then we’re going to talk about our tour highlights each of us and I’ve got one. And I’m hoping Donna and Jim. Both have a highlight of this year’s tour. But for now, let’s go across to David.

David Bernstein 44:03
Hey, Carlton, thanks so much. And it’s it’s always my pleasure to talk about our advertiser. This is a longtime loyal advertiser, you all know who I’m talking about. It’s Jenson USA at I’ve been telling you for years now years, that Jenson is the place where you can get a great selection of every kind of product that you need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices, and what really sets them apart. Because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there. But what really sets them apart is they’re on believable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors, and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who who ride their bikes to and from work. These are folks who ride at lunch who go out on group rides after work because they just enjoy cycling so much. And and so you know that when you call, you’ll be talking to somebody who has knowledge of the products that you’re calling about. If you’re looking for a new bike, whether it’s a mountain bike, a road bike, a gravel bike, a fat bike, what are you looking for? Go ahead and check them out. Jenson USA, they are the place where you will find everything you need for your cycling lifestyle. It’s We thank them so much for their support. And we thank you for supporting Jenson USA. All right, Carlton, let’s get back to the show.

Carlton Reid 45:28
Thanks, David. And we are back with show 277 of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast we’re here we’re with with Donna and with Jim and Jim a whenever we we we, we pitch these the shows. And it’s good to have you both on by the way. We say what you want to talk about. And I was all tougher on silver and silver. And that’s all I put down. And if anything else down on the things to talk about, however, Jim, you did give something to talk about which which kind of like takes us back to when this first started this particular show it was very trade oriented. So you’ve got some us bicycle trade news you’d like to share. So go with that before we go for our our tour highlights?

Jim Moss 46:16
Well, there’s, we’re having another bike show, a commercial bike show here in the United States. It’s called The Big gear show. And it’s going to be held in Park City, Utah. third, fourth and fifth and August. It’s going to have more than cycling equipment there but the majority of the exhibitors are cyclists. So it’s the first

Carlton Reid 46:38
sketch and next year

Jim Moss 46:41
this coming August, this Yeah, yeah, this year in 3 months.

Carlton Reid 46:46
That’s crazy.

Jim Moss 46:48
Um, well, this show is outside the show is more like interbike demo in that everything is there’s no in indoor things that so you’re going to walk from booth to booth to booth on a giant parking lot and talk to people and in some of these booths, you’ll be able to grab a bike and go right it

Carlton Reid 47:07
is it Lance Camisica. So Lance was formerly of interbike. Then he had bike press camp and various says Atlanta is doing this.

Jim Moss 47:16
Well. No, Lance was hired to run the cycling portion of it. There was a trade show that gets started. Quick history Outdoor Retailer ran both interbike and the Outdoor Retailer trade show Outdoor Retailer for everything but cycling. They moved interbike out of Vegas, the cheap, easy place to have a trade show where anybody from the United States can go I hate Vegas, but it’s cheap. Anybody can get there to Reno and it died. So two guys had felt that that the paddlesports industry, which originally was a major part of Outdoor Retailer, had been treated badly. And they were correct by Outdoor Retailer by Nielsen at the time. And so they started up a show in Madison, Wisconsin called the paddle sports show. And it was a little show but a big success. The paddle sports industry came together again. They moved into Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which sounds really weird, but Oklahoma has a great man made slalom to slalom courses, whitewater area. It’s pretty neat. But it’s still Oklahoma City. Oh, comments. So they then had the the idea of not bringing in clothing manufacturers. And I’ll tell you that reason in a second and just having gear, boats, bikes, climbing gear, shoes, that type of stuff, and then move the show to Park City, Utah, Utah, wanting any trade show they get their hands on, will probably spend a lot of money to get in there. The reason why there’s no clothing is clothing nowadays takes about 16 months to produce. So so that’s why Outdoor Retailer kept moving the show up to June. And yet for most retailers, you know, gyms, the beginning of their season, not the end, they don’t know how much money they made or how much money they have to spend next year. They only know what was a success this year, in June. They’re just opening the stores and they’re working hard then. So there’s a real controversy because the clothing manufacturers and even the ones that are showing up already have clothes, they’re they’re opened by dates that are you know, you didn’t have yet didn’t have your order. And already you weren’t going to get your order in nowadays. So by getting rid of the clothing manufacturers just having year which takes less time to produce there trying to get the show up and running. And the national bicycle dealer Association hopped on board, and so I’m looking forward to it. I know the two guys who started the show they’re they’re super great individuals, personal friends, and then they hired for show directors Lance coming aska to run the bike part and they hired Oh, what’s his name? Crap. He’s gonna give me so much grief. Kenji, Kenji artinian to run the outdoor part so people that that ran both shows for a long period of time and people have a great relationship with the best show directors of both shows the best people with the best personality the best people who understood what’s going on our hired run the shows, so we’ll have

Carlton Reid 50:41
a big friends I’ve been with them when they’ve been in the same place that they’ve been on site. Is there a website for this gym? Yes, there is. Hold on, I’ll find it for you the big gear calm.

Donna Tocci 50:56
Okay. A big year But so, Jim, as I was looking at it this morning, I look there’s like 42 exhibitors you know everything from Camelback to a kayak company Adidas Sterling row, which surprised me because I thought they were just for arborists, but they do. They do other rope as well. It was really designs, which is motocross. So where are the bike companies though?

Jim Moss 51:23
Um, well, Diamond back. I’m in that diamond back. Oh, let’s see who else? I have no idea right now. I don’t really look Sterling rope started out as a rock climbing rope. While you’re right, it’s not Troy Lee designs like this. I have not looked at who’s there yet. Fat chance bicycles. Interesting. Um, it looks like it’s mostly sports. Still, I think that they’d struggle this year to get bike companies in because bike companies don’t need the extra business right now they are run off.

Donna Tocci 51:59
People are people doing trade shows this year. Because I do know from my road racing that a lot of the companies have decided not to do expos and things like that through the end of this year. So I wonder if that’s some of it. I realised it’s outdoors gym, but I wonder if that’s some of it, as well. But they’ve got a full I mean, I was looking, I was quite impressed. I have all these educational set sessions and networking time set out. I mean, it’s a it’s a big show for I don’t you know, if currently you hadn’t heard it was this year. And you know, are they really promoting it? Or is it kind of a test year?

Jim Moss 52:41
Well, they also have a different model, which is extremely interesting. They will push if you are a retailer, they put you up. And in some cases they fly you in. Yeah, they have a very different model about how they put on their shows.

Carlton Reid 53:02
It’s the it’s the bike bike press camp model. So you get the key people in, you put them in a nice ski chalet in a nice Mountain Resort in the summer. And then you sell them stuff,

Jim Moss 53:13
right. Although they brought they had this model. I don’t know if they’d ever been to the bike press camp or not. But they created this model prior to bringing Lance on. And I don’t I don’t know if it’s gonna work. I don’t know what’s going on. I know Oklahoma City when they just had paddlesports was working. But it wasn’t. People just weren’t happy with Oklahoma City. Although the demo was awesome, because it was so confined and but there’s so much stuff you could you can do. I also think of Park City is a problem. Getting Salt Lake is is a slight pain for most people. And then you got to get a shuttle or rent a car or whatever. I’m trying to get to Park City.

Carlton Reid 54:00
It’s 40 minutes though, Jim. That’s that’s, that’s that’s incredibly doable. Yeah. And now at tops.

Jim Moss 54:06
Yeah, but it’s still people. People want to land and in 10 minutes, be in their hotel room. And, you know, go out to have a good dinner. And whenever there’s a new show, everyone’s trying to figure out, I got invited to dinners and all the dinners are back in Salt Lake City because people who know Salt Lake City for the outdoor real retail trade show.

Donna Tocci 54:32
These guys have never tried and go to eurobike

Carlton Reid 54:35
Huh, well and get there.

Jim Moss 54:38
Yeah, it’s, you’re right. And it’s gonna be confusing. I wish them all the luck in the world. I’m going I’m going to support them. But like I said, you might not have heard about it because their motto is they only care about retailers and they only really care about retailers. That’s it. They they can care less they came from the paddlesports industry. So I think there’s something going on there. There’s a lot of housing here. Um, they have a, you can demo the mountain the road and you can take your boat over to the lake and demo it there. So it’s

Carlton Reid 55:11
a fabulous place to have a trade show. I know that for a fact and David would know that Frank because he lives there he moves. Yes, we know it’s a fantastic place for for outdoor sports. Let’s get back to the the main premise of the show, Jim. So thank you very much for for bringing that to our attention. I certainly wasn’t aware of a gym. But let’s go back to Tour de France. And I will start so so hopefully you’ve got your anecdotes ready of what your highlights of the tour now I’m going to be slightly left field and and say my highlight hasn’t has been turned France connected, but isn’t absolutely terrifying, because it’d be too obvious for me to talk about Mark Cavendish and which has been phenomenal. But I know I get shot down in flames from Jim, if I if I mentioned mark, he’s clean our champion. Anyway. My highlight would actually be at lackland Lachlan Morton. So Aussie pro, doing this thing called the Alt Tour. So he was in Andorra. Yesterday, the pros are now they’ve gone through into Android today. So he I think he’s left now. So he’s basically a few steps ahead of them riding the whole tour by himself, bike packing, as well. So totally self supported. And he’s also which is the Wii amazing thing, especially in this heat doughnut is he’s riding between all the connection points as well. So he’s got to be a few days ahead of the pros, because he’s riding the whole lot when the pros are getting in their air conditioned coaches and driving off or sometimes they go, they fly. He’s going to be riding the whole thing. So if you haven’t been following what Lachlan Morton has been doing and he has been doing an amazing I know he f racing, and Cannondale, who and Rapha who are supporting him. They’re getting huge coverage compared to the coverage they’re getting for the from the EF racing team who are racing in the Tour de France. So they’ve created this, this, this almost this event that’s getting almost as much coverage as the Tour de France itself. It’s just truly amazing. But I that’s my personal highlight, partly because it’s my son’s personal highlight because he Lachlan Morton is one of his heroes. So my son is a big, big long distance cycle tourist. And he’s been really inspired by Lachlan, and what he’s doing, and the videos are fantastic. If you haven’t watched them go and catch them up. So Donna, what’s what’s your highlight of this year’s tour? Oh, doggy. Well, that’s your answer, doggy. Where do you

Donna Tocci 57:46
hearing Jim’s dog. But also what Laughlin is doing is he is he’s writing for the world bike relief. And they have raised yesterday mentioned that for for 2557 bikes.

Carlton Reid 58:01
Yeah, another another reason to think is amazing. Yes, yes, yes.

Donna Tocci 58:05
And people are coming out, and they’re cheering him on as well. He’s getting a lot of good press. And he’s riding 12 hours a day in the heat, but so that is an absolute great highlight. Button mine and Jim, please don’t hate me and don’t sit your dog on. Is there it’s Cavendish, but it’s the moments away from the race. So I’m that the genuine emotion from him. As he as he wins the stage, that genuine joy from his team. You know, it’s not another ho hum. It’s the emotion that they all have. Because sometimes, you know, you see people that went a lot, and they’re like, yep, there’s another one. He’s not like that. I’m also that picacho realised the significance of all of this and gave Cavendish, his yellow jersey from that day, and then cap gave him a green jersey, but still respect, but there was snapped there. And then I also just loved as a dad the other day when Kevin just set the record. They were saying, Oh, your son will love this. And he said, Well, I have four children. And he said but one Yes. My one child is very into cycling, but I have children. It’s Casper, his little boy Casper. Casper. Yeah. So those are the moments that I’m enjoying is actually seeing that the Hume the human side. And then of course, Matteo vanderpol dedicating his stage went to his grandfather was really,

Carlton Reid 59:42
huh, that’s wonderful. Jim, Jim. Your highlights

Jim Moss 59:47
quite different also. I am sort of amazed at the number of different countries that are represented in the tour this year. I know That sounds a little different. But the tour used to be all European. Then it branched out a little bit and to the stances people say, and Russia and Colombia. And and if you look at the tour roster this year, there are people from every continent except Antarctica. And there are people from countries that had never been in the tour before. And and they’re not making anything out of it. I think it’s finally pretty neat that the tour really represents most of the world. And then my big thing, of course, is Laughlin. And talk about a personality. If I guarantee you if a little kid runs out on the road and sees Laughlin riding past and cheers the mom Laughlin is gonna stop and say hi, and talk to the kid. He lives here trains hear a lot. And and you’ll hear somebody say, Yeah, and I got passed by luckily on the day said, Hi, I was doing a good job. And I talked to him for a minute while he slowed down to ride with me because I was talking to him. And then at the same time, because that Duff, he’s just terrific. climbs here. I mean, yeah, he’ll he’ll ride 10 hours up and down the mountains here is a really a nice guy, besides just an unbelievable ability to just get on the bike and stay on the bike and keep hauling. But so personality wise, he’s just, there’s none better. Because Because, you know, we’ve all dealt with these exotic personalities that, you know, right in the tour. Although I saw a couple, you know, I ran into a couple pros lately that have been really nice to talk to. So anyway, um, yeah, the vast number of different countries represented individually by the tour is pretty interesting this year. And a locklin’s personal tour, I think is it’s extremely exciting and neat. None of us ever came up with the idea that there’s something going on the race that was that exciting this year.

Carlton Reid 1:02:16
And, Jim, thank you ever so much for giving us those highlights. And for being on today’s show. We have been recording for just a few seconds under an hour. So we will get there. Because we have got to go and I haven’t actually know the results of today’s stage. And I know who was roughly out ahead, but I don’t know. Professor, I don’t want anybody tell me either.

Jim Moss 1:02:42
I have no idea. But I Oh, good. Good. I’d love to get in here, Carlton. Go What? So the Boy Scouts of America at their 3800 camp just south east of Denver starting Memorial Day 2022 are going to be putting on a five race three day consumer Expo. Stay tuned, it’s going to be something big. It’s going to be something exciting. We had a gravel bike race there 129 mile gravel bike race, four and a half hours of the winter. People loved it. So we’re going to blow this up and make it a big cycling event. There are courses for downhill courses, beginner courses, mountain bike, gravel and cross courses and we’re going to have a road race or road ride and

Carlton Reid 1:03:28
you have a website

Jim Moss 1:03:30
there’s no website for that already gym or not. The decision was made a couple days ago. We don’t have a name yet let alone Okay, when we get it just put it on your calendar or something to do Memorial Day weekend.

Carlton Reid 1:03:41
Okay, sorry, what day is that? I have no idea when that is done.

Jim Moss 1:03:45
It’s the end of May May 31. Yet 2720 2930 on May 2022. thing Okay, thank you. Thank you for that.

Carlton Reid 1:04:00
Well, Jim can carry on going and give us your your website details how people can get in touch with you.

Unknown Speaker 1:04:08 is my website or Jim at or just Google recreation law and you’ll find me.

Carlton Reid 1:04:23
Excellent. And Donnawrap up the show for us by telling us how people can get in touch with you, Donna.

Donna Tocci 1:04:29
This has been so much fun. I’m so glad we did this, um, Twitter and Instagram just at Donna Tocci. You can find me both places.

Carlton Reid 1:04:38
Wonderful. Just spell that t o c c i.

Donna Tocci 1:04:41
Yeah, that’s it. That’s the one.

Carlton Reid 1:04:44
Wonderful. Well, Jim and Donna. Yeah, I agree with you on it. It’s been a blast. Thank you very much for for taking the time of not watching the tour. Although you did say you watching the evening, didn’t you before the show started so I do Yeah, but you don’t want any spoilers. Definitely. So I won’t spoil it. Africa I don’t know. But thank you to you both for being on today’s show. And thanks to the listeners for for being with us to listen to you. And thank you for David for giving us that ad break. He is currently actually sheltering from the the heatwave by climbing up into the mountains near his home. So thoughts and prayers to anybody who is suffering that heat including I’m coming full circle here, including the riders in the Tour de France, and maybe they will have to change the timings for that.

Carlton Reid 1:05:34
So thank you so much and we will speak again.t

Carlton Reid 1:05:37
Thanks to Donna Tocci there, and to Jim Moss baking or being soaking wet in America, and it was Donna being rained upon and Jim baked, but thanks to you also for listening to the spokesmen cycling podcast show notes and more, as always can be found on It’s only one more week of the Tour de France. So I’m sure you’ll be listening and watching that and hopefully we’ll get the spokesman crew together again. But meanwhile, get out there and ride

June 20, 2021 / / Blog

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20th June 2021

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 276: From San Fran Bike Courier to BBC Journalist Via the Great North Road


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Steve Silk

TOPICS: The Great North Road. Coaching inns. Spitfires and warm beer. Wherries. Brexit. BBC impartiality. Beaming about Beamish. Forgetting about being a San Francisco bike courier. Chamois cream. Bonking. Norfolk Broads. Being a bloke on a bike but not being Alan Partridge. Cycling to work versus cycling for leisure.


“THE GREAT NORTH ROAD London to Edinburgh – 11 Days, 2 Wheels and 1 Ancient Highway”


Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to Episode 276 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was recorded on Sunday 20th of June 2021.

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For shownotes links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the- And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:08
Steve Silk was a San Francisco bike courier in the late 1980s which, if you don’t mind me saying so is the absolute epitome of cool, but then he forgot all about cycling as he forged a career as a BBC regional journalist. I’m Carlton Reid and it turns out I’ve got lots in common with Steve, including starting at the same university in the same year, also living and canoeing in Norfolk, and having an abiding interest in history. And it’s our shared interest in the history of that most iconic of ancient highways — the Great North Road — that brought us together for today’s episode, sponsored by Jenson USA. Steve has written a travelogue about a bicycle journey along this road, and on today’s show we discuss the book and wax lyrical about sleepy coaching inns. As he’s a BBC journalist I also asked him about the corporation’s recent forays into anti-cycling rhetoric. That was unfair of me because there are new rules on impartiality and social media that I know BBC employees have to follow but check out how Steve handled my unsubtle prods.

Carlton Reid 2:34
Steve, can we get the Alan Partridge bit out of the way immediately, because you must get this I mean, any journalist in involved in either radio or TV in Norfolk and especially Norwich is going to get that. So how do you cope with the Alan Partridge question?

Steve Silk 2:53
Oh, God, I cope with it by having had it so many times. I’ve forgotten about it. I’ve genuinely forgotten the link. And I’m actually surprised when people mention it. So yes, I guess shrugged off with a bit of a laugh. People that I’m not from Norfolk, which I think perhaps helps here. I think occasionally, some people in Norfolk, perhaps in the old days used to get a little bit offended by that. Whereas of course, the what we should actually do is is champion Alan Partridge and make the most of it and enjoy the fact that there’s a whacking great picture of him talking about our sanctuary in the Norwich Waterstones and just take him to our heart. That’s the spirit, I think

Carlton Reid 3:38
So you’ve landed in Nowich because you were from Maidenhead originally, yes?

Steve Silk 3:42
Yes. A long time ago. Yes. Yes. I landed in Norwich very accidentally. I’m a journalist. And I was working in the northeast. And suddenly a job came up in the on the evening news an awfully long time ago. And I thought that will that will get me halfway to London, which was my plan then. And so I arrived here in the mid 90s and have come and gone since. But yes, Norwich is is very much an adopted home rather than me having any proper roots here.

Carlton Reid 4:13
So we have gone in slightly different directions here in that. I went to Norwich, from Newcastle. I really kind of see you because you went to university in Newcastle and I after reading your book, I discovered you joined the University at exactly the same. Yeah, so we both landed in Newcastle University in 1986. So what did you read?

Steve Silk 4:40
I read history at Newcastle and I really enjoyed doing that. But my passion when I was at Newcastle was the student newspaper so I probably spent about twice as much time on the newspaper career as I did during my studies. And I think that was actually whilst I still obviously love history, which I hope comes across in the book. I used uni as a really good foundation for for the career that I’ve had since and I absolutely thoroughly enjoyed being my own style of cub reporter making goodness knows the most basic mistakes but doing them with from the comfort and the safety net of a student newspaper rather than a real one. But I wanted to go to Newcastle from Maidenhead. I mean, they they’re very different places, you know, Thames Valley, South, I really wanted to go up north to escaped. The minute I went to Newcastle for the first time I absolutely fell in love with the place. My daughter is a student there now. And I don’t need any excuse to go up and, you know, buy her a meal or walk on Hadrian’s Wall as we were doing this time last weekend. I still love the city and love the surrounding area. So yes, going through Newcastle and Northumberland was an undoubted highlight of my trip.

Carlton Reid 6:03
So we’ve absolutely got tonnes in common here. It’s always amazing that we haven’t probably met and we haven’t come across each other a huge amount previously. Because at the history angle is absolutely right up my street. So I did enjoy your book with from that, that the many historical angles in there. And also, I’ve got to say the coaching it in angle I love because that’s what I love about the Great North Road is these fantastic coaching and so you didn’t stay in the ballot Stilton, which I did recently. But you did stay in the George at Stanford, is that right?

Steve Silk 6:41
No, I didn’t stay at the George at Stanford. I I, what did I do that I think I had a coffee there. I’ve been I’ve been to all these places several times. But no, I didn’t stay. I mean, one thing actually, is just the cost of them. They’re all gorgeous ends, aren’t they? And they’re, they’re probably going to cost you if you I couldn’t tell you a figure for the George but you’re probably talking a good 100 150 quid a night, and a times 10 that was slightly within the budget that had been agreed with Mr. Silk in advance. So I was taking the cheapo view that, you know, nice to pound at flat white from all of these places was wasn’t more cost effective of way of experiencing the ambience without necessarily staying the night. But one day, you know, if I did this again, and I don’t rule out during the whole bike ride again, that would be the way to go. The Golden Lion at northallerton was the one pocket coaching in that I stayed the night in and that was because I just pitched up there at lunchtime with Oh my god, this is just great. I can’t be bothered to cycle anymore. It was a Sunday there was a nice Sunday roast going. Change of plan. stay the night there. And I’m very glad I did that.

Carlton Reid 7:54
Huh. And then you mentioned again, this is the spooky yet that kind of things that we’re crossing. But I was at Beamish, just recently, the Northeast cultural museum. And I was also very much taken by the concept of the recreation of a 17th 18th century coaching in on site, which hasn’t happened. But and in your book, you mentioned this, and it’s like, Yeah, I thought that also piqued my interest that that’d be a fabulous place to stay, because you can’t stay at Beamish currently, but just to be able to go into a really yield. coaching, it would be fabulous.

Steve Silk 8:33
It really would. And the idea, because I did have a chat with one of the senior guys there, he was talking about how they would try to recreate the beer from the past and the meals in the past and they’d be somewhere in the corner. On the Northumbrian pipes. It does just it just does sound magnificent, doesn’t it? As I understand it, it’s all on hold. I’m not entirely sure what the latest situation is there. But I do think that at some point that that vision has to be created. And of course, they’ve had loads of problems, as lots of companies in museums have as far as COVID is concerned. So hopefully it’s just a case of that plan being on hold rather than being abandoned forever. I mean, Beamish let’s just say is a magnificent Museum in its own right already, isn’t it? It’s got so much it, I just love their approach to things when I was hanging around waiting to speak to someone there, which I you know, turned up with my notepad as a as a writer so to speak, rather than as a paying punter. On that occasion. There were people wringing their, you know, grandma’s old record player, or whatever it was in and their attitude is, we will take everything. We’re not going to be sniffy about what’s out there and what we decide is history and what we decide is an artefact or not. If you think it’s worth it, we’ll have it. That’s such a refreshing approach, isn’t it? I’ve got all the time in the world for Beamish. I think they’re doing a super job, I love the place.

Carlton Reid 10:02
So coaching in Great North Road, it almost has a flavour of like, kind of like a pre bit Brexit fantasy of, as I said before, like the olde England. So is there a danger that we’re kind of recreating a past that perhaps never actually existed? You know, like Spitfires, warm beer. How much of the of the writing of your book do you think is, is kind of going into that for kind of of Englishness that perhaps isn’t really true?

Steve Silk 10:40
Well, I’d argue with Englishness because this is a book that covers England and Scotland. So you’ve got to have that in mind as well. So it can be it’s a I guess it’s a British book rather than an English book. When it comes to Brexit, I’m a serving BBC journalist, so I will stay absolutely on the fence when it comes to that big and controversial issue of our times. But yes, I am. I am probably guilty of romanticising the past to some extent. And you know what I’ve got form for that a previous book that I’ve written looks at the worries of which is an ancient cargo boat of the Norfolk broads. And I can’t, myself perhaps from talking about how these guys operated in the past and perhaps having some rose tinted spectacles on there. Whereas the reality was, they were probably the HGV drivers of their day. As we’re coaching. Coach drivers. To a certain extent life was tough. safety standards were probably non existent all the rest of it. So yes, pretty much guilty as charged, Carlton.

Carlton Reid 12:00
And Charles Harper, I mean, many people on here won’t have heard of him. But he’s important to me. He’s clearly important to you because of what he did. Back when he did it, as you say, there’s no biographies. You can’t find out exactly his life story. But he was a cyclist, or he became you almost became like you in that he was he became a cyclist later in life. And he did it for utilitarian reasons, because he was researching all his great road books. He didn’t just do the writing was really did all sorts of the great highways of Britain, we did from a bicycle saddle. But then of course, his books came out in later editions when murdering had taken over. So tell us a little bit about what you have gone at about this cycle. touristy became a motoring tourist.

Steve Silk 12:49
So Charles Harper is a Londoner who started as an illustrator but quickly developed a taste for writing books as well and started off by writing histories or travel logs of the shorter coaching routes out of London, mostly to the south coast. So London to Brighton, London, to Hastings, London to Portsmouth. And for that he could walk because the distances weren’t too involved. If you think I’m bad at romanticising the past, Mr. Harper really goes for it. And the interesting thing about him and I think it’s an era that we forget about now is that there was this great coaching era that lasted till 1830 1830s. And then you’ve got the the motorcar doesn’t really come along until after the First World War, in terms of becoming a mass means of transport. And in that intervening best part of a century, roads go become unfashionable, the railways takeover. So as far as Harper was concerned, he was writing a history of these roads that were in inevitable decline. And that shapes how he writes about things. And I think is why he’s so fascinating for us now, because at least in those first editions, he in no way predicted that all of these coaching ins were going to get a second wind, for example, they were saved by the motorcar a lot weren’t saved, but many were so that by the time his second edition came along, he was actually able to report that various inns had reopened. So he is, I find him fascinating. He’s very old. He’s very of his time. He’s, you can’t call him old fashioned, but he’s, he’s probably slightly curmudgeonly old so and so. He was certainly very conservative in his views, but he writes beautifully and descriptively about what he saw along that road, but Pretty much a southern English view of the world. Once he gets past about Grantham, you can feel him starting to become a bit uncomfortable. He was very critical stroke snobby have anything to do with coal mines for example.

Carlton Reid 15:17
Yes, he didn’t like coal mines did he?

Steve Silk 15:18
He really didn’t like anything that wasn’t a majestic old highway of old, anything industrial and of course, the road was still being used and certainly went through many a pit village along the way. You could almost you can almost see him recoil in horror at some of the cottages that people were living in, etc, etc. But he is a very good eye witness of that time at the start of the last century. And as well as being an eyewitness in terms of what he says his illustrations, albeit perhaps, slightly sanitised are also really valuable. And they are used now by heritage England as a resource to sort of illustrate what Britain looked like before development around town centres before bypasses, and as such, I think he’s quite an important eyewitness to history of that period of England and Scotland, basically.

Carlton Reid 16:22
Hmm. Now, in your book, you do say in in in the press release, it says that this is a route that other people could follow. But we actually if you look at the maps that this is, this is a tough route, because you have got long stretches, where it is the A1(M) is the original route, it has been built over the old Great North Road. So it would be quite difficult to follow an exact route. So even you’ve had to, you’ve had to meander haven’t you, can’t follow the whole thing from from St. Paul’s Cathedral all the way to Edinburgh, you’re life is too valuable.

Steve Silk 17:04
Yes, you cannot go on the A1(M) by law, you would not want to go on the a one not m out of choice. You are able to go through town centres and the approaches in and out of lots of town centres that were the Great North Road in the old days. And there are plenty of other short segments that if your dog good enough with your research, you can find. But in another way, I wouldn’t describe it as a difficult route. In that I find that when these new cycling, projects, trails, etc, are set up quite often, they’re really challenging in terms of gradient. What I’ve done, I am not a hardcore cyclist. I am a cyclist who likes to go from A to B to C to D rather than round in a circle. Because I just like the sense of adventure. But I don’t necessarily want to do 3000 feet of ascent a day, I want to have a coffee, I want to have a nice lunch in the market square. And if there’s a stuffy old museum that no one else is in in the afternoon, I’ll stop off there for an afternoon for an hour as well. So I’m the sort of guy that doesn’t want things to be really tough in terms of the cycling, I just want to see see a bit of this country. So there’s different senses of what difficult means aren’t there? I do in my mind’s eye. I do wonder if we really could create a great North road cycling route that would roughly do what I did. ironing out some of the mistakes. But I guess that’s probably pie in the sky at the moment. There’s one there’s one place where this really got me as I was cycling off on the approach to Stilton in Cambridgeshire, Stilton has a high street that is now marooned from the a one m next to it so that you have to approach Stilton from the north then go south to go down. It’s magnificent High Street. With the bell, that’s one of my certainly in my top five great coaching into the entire route. I would love instead that on that approach right from the south, they just put a bridge across the a one there, and then we as cyclists could enjoy that as it was meant to be. And I’m sure that would be a massive use to local people as well. So yes, I’m asking for the moon and I’m wanting the government to invest in a bridge here or an underpass there. I guess it’s not gonna happen is it but I think that it would be I think there is so much enjoyment to be had from whipping through this 400 mile stretch of England and Scotland without having To be a hard core, lycra clad cyclist, you could just do it relatively gently, with a bit of help.

Carlton Reid 20:08
Because it’s the opposite a very, very historic journey and yet most cycleways, most kind of like guided cycle routes in the UK do tend to be honest, I’m generalising massively here but do tend to be East West West East rather than, you know, north south. There’s very little that actually does follow. See, you couldn’t get the Sustrans Great North Road route, in effect. So you’re saying that could potentially be something that could help?

Steve Silk 20:37
I Yes, I think so. Because I loved it. And I, I quite liked the idea of connecting up various unfashionable parts of the country, as well. And I think I was coming at it from the point of view of i’d recently done 100 mile bike ride around Norfolk the first time I’d done one of those. And I was thinking, right, what’s next, but I would never do Land’s End to john o’Groats, that just that the whole or around that just just isn’t me. Whereas the idea of doing London to Edinburgh is sort of nicely pitched in the middle there with the added advantage of two great cities at either end. So I just think it’s got something going for it. Yeah, I would love to see that happen. Even if it didn’t even if it took 20 years. Certainly what was happening and I could see in front of my very eyes was that I think even if I’d done this trip 10 years ago, there would have been fewer psychopaths. I was to some extent I planned it by I never need an excuse to buy maps. So I’d planned what I could, but to another to other other parts. I was having to make it up as I went along. And quite often there was a what looked like quite a recent psychopath in quite a useful place. So Britain is undoubtedly getting more bike friendly. year by year, almost month by month, isn’t it?

Carlton Reid 21:59
Well, on the on the Barnet bypass, which is, you know, South Mimms, basically the service station there. There’s a stretch of the old day one as the Barnet bypass, did take over there. And that’s a stretch of road that has been as you say marooned it’s no longer part of the motorway at all, obviously. And that’s the 1930s cycleway right next to it. And this is your big passion, isn’t it? Right I haven’t seen that. Yeah, fantastic. Yeah. So I’ve just got I’ve now discovered that just literally just about a month ago and went to have a look when I went and did my migraine over and then I so you took a bicycle I actually took a car which is which is crazy thing for me to do, which is cheating. Face it exactly. As you don’t even know the hills are there because you’ve got a sports car to do it. But I took I asked Morgan to supply me a car and wonderfully they did so I put a Brompton in a passenger seat and took a Morgan and didn’t much of the same journey as you but obviously had a much, much easier time of it. But then when I was driving along the a one where it’s not a one end, there’s lots of bits that I’m looking at. I know that I kind of probably see cycleways 1930 cycleways, where they perhaps don’t even exist. But I did see lots of bits that looked in a period. So they they did put an awful lot of cycleways down next to the a one. So I don’t think anybody would want to cycle on those bits. But technically, there are lots of bits of the road which you could probably connect up and you could create a route and then it’d be a historic route and it wouldn’t be Land’s End to john o’Groats. You’re right. It’ll be this historic north, south or South North route, which which is, clearly the reason you’ve written the book is because that’s incredibly historic. And we’re ignoring that by doing these routes that are meandering, but not quite as important. Absolutely.

Steve Silk 24:01
But what I’d add to that is that if they’re if the alternative to doing a mile two miles directly alongside but safely alongside the current a one if the alternative to that was a massive meander that took you 10 miles out of your way, because there simply isn’t an alternative, then I’d be happy to do that. And and indeed, I did do that on one or two parts during the book. So I think as a means of just connecting somewhere safe to somewhere else safe, that where there was some sort of separation between you and the traffic, I think that would work perfectly well. So and of course, your 1930s cycleways are them, which I haven’t heard of until you brought them to my attention are themselves historic, aren’t they? So you could argue that’s, that’s actually adding to the history of the Great North Road. It’s it’s a 1930 slice of history. They’re just waiting to be rediscovered.

Carlton Reid 24:54
Hmm, there’s a slice up in Durham which I know you. I’m reckoning you must have diverged. away from the road at this point, cuz you in your book you went actually went into Durham where of course, yes, the Great North Road, obviously the a one of the 1920s didn’t go there. But there’s one stretch, which is actually the original 1930 cycleway that though I first discovered and first realised was what was going on here. And that just outside at Durham, and there’s a beautiful one mile stretch of former a worn it used to be a service station. They’re called Cock of the north. Yes, I know. Exactly. Yes. They’re talking the North pub there either anymore. And that was just a housing estate now. That’s right. Yeah. I haven’t got a copy of the North housing estate. But that would net that that cycle way that was put in on the Great North Road back in 1937. probably didn’t get a great deal of use back then. But we’ll get used now because it’s it has it anyway, where we’re diverting away from your book a bit here. So the book is out in in July July the eighth is that writes correctly. Summersdale is the publishing house. I’ve got a pre publication, uncorrected book proof here in front of me so I read it all yesterday. And I’ll tell you why I read it yesterday, I had my second job. Yesterday, I had other things to do I was going to be doing. But I was feeling a bit under the weather. And I just sat down in the kitchen with my dog and just read the whole thing from from from start to finish so so in one sitting so I immensely enjoyed your book and people who get to see it get to read it in on July the eighth will will enjoy it to that end the book. I think you’ve come across, either deliberately, or, or maybe not deliberately as somebody who’s almost a beginner cyclist because you’re making like rookie mistakes like you’re like you’re not eating correctly. So you’re talking about the cyclists bonk, you’re talking about going into a bike shop at one point, and having to get emergency Shammi cream, for instance, again, like another rookie mistake, yet, as you said, You’ve done 100 mile rides in Norfolk. And now I want you to tell away from the book, I would now want you to tell me about your your student days when you were in effect a hardcore cyclist because you were on Mission and Sixth in San Francisco. Delivering packages as a bicycle messenger in the most romantic place. You could possibly be a bike messenger in the 1980s and pop maybe London or New York and San Francisco just a wonderful place to do it. So you are hardcore cyclist?

Steve Silk 27:46
Well, you say that and It does sound really cool now doesn’t it? But I didn’t. I genuinely didn’t see it like that at the time. And I didn’t see that I was going there to be a cyclist. It was a couple of other mates from Newcastle uni we we ditched in the day job that was at some sort of summer camp, we’d got our visas and we thought right sorted. Let’s take a car across America. So we were just being classic students with us with three or four months of summer in front of us. And we did one of those driveway things where you drive a car from east to west for someone who’s moving. And then we just all three of us pitched up in San Francisco. And by complete luck, not because I was this hardcore bike geezer at all. I ended up as a cyclist as a cycle messenger, delivering what we would now call JPEGs, or emails. And it was it was fantastic. And I’ve never been fitter in all my life. But I see what you’re saying. You’re saying, well, how’s this guy who had this seemingly really cool job knows all about cycling? How’s he making rookie errors all these years later? Well, one, it was just one hell of a summer summer. Two, I then forgot about cycling. I can’t explain or justify this for about 20 years, until picking up a bike again. I don’t know how old I was 45 or something. And it’s only in the last 10 years that I’ve just started messing about on a bike again. And even when you do that, and I go out we religiously four or five, six of us go out on a Saturday morning here in my village in Norfolk. Even then we’re only just having a laugh. I’m not someone who’s ever been part of a of a cycling club. Yes, there’s a bit of lycra now because you end up with it, don’t you but I’ve never done anything more serious. So those rookie errors aren’t Let me tell you absolutely genuine there is no there is no there is no way that I’ve exaggerated that all these things happen because I was just Learning as I went

Carlton Reid 30:02
and that bike shop very kindly to to smother it upstairs. It was a room that was just basically an open room. It didn’t sound as though they said go to the toilet or just upstairs in this bike shop.

Steve Silk 30:19
Oh, do we have to do this bit but yes, it’s a very small lovely lovely bike shop in in a one in a yard in Darlington upstairs will sort of have more of the area sort of semi storeroom feel to it. And yes, I, I applied my new purchase up there. And I instantly benefited please let’s move on before there’s any more detail about that for your poor listeners.

Carlton Reid 30:49
Well, it’s gonna be cute because if people are gonna be buying this book aren’t gonna be hardcore sign because I’m assuming it’s more of a travelogue. That general interest is going to people you don’t have to be a cyclist to buy this book is what I’m trying to say. And

Steve Silk 31:04
coming at it. Yeah, the bike just happens to be the best method of exploring this road.

Carlton Reid 31:11
Yes. So people are going to find that they’re gonna find this incredibly funny, because this is an alien world. To most people like me reading this book about you put what and you put it where I didn’t know this. So those are kind of anecdotes that jumped out at me, because I find this completely normal, but other people are going to go. What? I’ve never heard of this stuff before.

Steve Silk 31:39
I guess so I guess and the other thing you just mentioned on is the word bonking which we must explain to non cyclists means when you absolutely run out of energy and you almost collapse on the roadside, which is what happened to me just north of Grantham. That’s the other one where I it wasn’t that I hadn’t heard of that I heard had heard of it as a concept that cyclists run out of fuel. It’s just that I was learning as I went on exactly how much fuel I need to keep going. And I use the word fuel advisedly, it doesn’t become food anymore, does it? I have just come back three mates and myself from doing three gruelling days in Mid Wales on the trans Cambrian way on a guided route with a group called MTB, whales who are magnificent By the way, and I’ve learned my lesson from from the Great North Road. And all the time going up these ridiculously steep mountains and hillsides in Wales, I was just eating flapjack I didn’t want to eat flapjack I wasn’t even hungry. But I knew that if I didn’t eat stuff now, I was really going to suffer in an hour and a half’s time. So from that point of view, I have I have learned since but yes, that’s something that you do need to know about, don’t you but I guess even if you’ve heard of the concept, you don’t know exactly how much fuel you as an individual will need. If it’s day four, when you’ve done 55 miles the previous day, and decent manages the previous two as well.

Carlton Reid 33:15
Hmm. Now I noted before that when we mentioned the nasty B word, or maybe the lovely B word depending on your your point of view, it didn’t really get into politics because of your, your your BBC employment. But if you don’t mind and and then let’s see how far we how far I can push you here. The BBC does get a lot of stick at the moment for introducing what in effect are anti cycling topics and that can be local, and it can be national, it can be on, you know, mainstream, you know, radio programmes where they’ve mentioned stuff, which does tend to buy into the concept of you know, Britain not being that much of a a positive cycling nation. So what kind of feedback have you had from your colleagues about the fact that you are I’m using air quotes here, a MAMIL?

Steve Silk 34:18
I would say that my colleagues just know that Steve’s a cyclist they know that if he’s come back off a week away it’ll be a good thing to say. Where have you been on your bike then Steve that that’s that’s the level of it there’s no opposition to it. There’s nothing that’s particularly pro it’s just a thing they know that that this this I do. I still think that steering clear the BBC as ice will consistently throughout this interview. I still think that Britain is getting better. I live on the outskirts of Norwich. Norwich has introduced a lot of wew cycling paraphernalia just over the recent two or three years or so, I think we’re definitely moving in the right direction. But I am gonna because it is the day job and because I have to be really, really careful when it comes to any of the politics around that I’m afraid you’re not going to tempt me at all.

Carlton Reid 35:17
I understand that I’m going to carry on, I’m going to try on, I’m going to I’m going to poke you. And it’s not because at the end, this is what I want to talk about this and not your book. But just It is interesting, because the whole cultural woke agenda, or anti woke agenda does very often use cycling as as a as a as something to really, really go out because it does go some people. So you in lycra, benign. Me in Lycra, benign. A granny on a bike, benign. And yet the mainstream media does seem to recognise that by mentioning the word cyclist, it does. You know, it does touch a lot of buttons. And that’s not a BBC thing. That’s a mainstream media thing. So what can you do, if anything to combat that, if you even want to combat that?

Steve Silk 36:14
I do agree with you that many’s the time when I’ve had conversations, even with my relatives, and they’re bemoaning the fact that they’ve been delayed by all of 20 seconds, because there was a group of four cyclists in front of them on the B road, and I’m saying yes, well, that could have been me. And for goodness sake, you know, I’m Scott just as much right to the road as anyone else. So you’re dead, right, that there’s still a lot of opposition, I within the last two or three months, I’ve had a situation where I gently with my right hand, just said, with an up and down movement asked someone to slow down as they sped past me. And the response was absolute foul mouth abuse by a driver who got out reverse came back looking for trouble. And that can be absolutely terrifying. And completely over the top. So you’re dead, right? It’s still absolutely out there, isn’t it? what we do as a group with the with the guys that I go out with every Saturday is we’re obsequiously pleasant, and thankful to every single motorist who even gives us the time of day. And we shout and we smile to every single passing dog walker, and we try to be personal ambassadors for it. I mean, we shouldn’t have to, should we but that’s the stage I think we’re at that I go out of my way every stage to look. Motorists in the eye smile, be humans show that I am a human being and I’m just having a nice time on my bike. That’s my personal approach. And that I have to say works quite well. On the on the streets of Norfolk. It’s probably slightly more tricky in a big city.

Carlton Reid 38:09
And do you think that this book which doesn’t mention cycling in the title, it doesn’t really even make it big style into the into the subhead, it’s just as two wheels? Do you think that potentially has a mollifying effect, in that it’s a travelogue? You just happen to be on a bicycle? And people might just devis a slightly just think it’s a bike, it’s a normal thing to do? Or do you think it’s, it’s still seen as a quite a bizarre thing to be doing?

Steve Silk 38:38
I hadn’t thought of that at all. So what that’s really interesting, and the one thing I’d say about the cover of the book is that it features a bloke who is me on a bike, it’s an artist’s impression. So it is clear that it’s a cycling book from the, the, it might not be in the actual words, but it’s clearly there in the in the cover. I hadn’t seen it as playing any kind of ambassadorial role, perhaps because I’m not quite so feel myself on the on the front line of changing opinions and any kind of culture war that’s out there against cyclists which I I think you’re much more aware of than I am but if it did, well magnificent and I suppose I can see the logic of your point of view in that I am I am far from being hardcore in anything i’m i’m open about my limitations out as a cyclist and open about the mistakes that I make. So yes, from that point of view, perhaps I don’t feel like I’m from a from a different planet, which I think is sometimes the impression that you get certainly the the guy on this Norfolk street that was effing and blinding me a few weeks ago and just made it clear that he thought we were all just a completely alien. He was a considerably less articulate in his use of words than that. But yes, it can have a small impact. Fantastic.

Carlton Reid 40:08
See hidden Riverside Norwich to go back to one of your other books where were you where you’re in effect you’re a canoeist. You’re an “ist” there there’s no conflict there. Because if you’re you’ve got a canoe you’re not gonna be holding up anybody apart from maybe, Oh, I didn’t know you could

Steve Silk 40:29
you could be conflict with anglers land landowners can be very, very fussy about it. And my view on that is that if you’re on the water you you You’re okay that I don’t think is the precise legal position everywhere and and I always do my best to to obey the laws of trespass although it can be complicated and difficult and you can stray into unintentionally into difficult areas. So no, they can always can get some can get some grief too.

Carlton Reid 41:01
I did I did even when I said that I thought I shouldn’t have said that because I before I became a cyclist and I am that is very much that is. I was a canoeist. So I actually sold to get my first bike which I bought in Norwich in a bike shop was no longer there. I sold my canoe so I did an awful lot of canoeing on the Norfolk broads as many whitewater rapids as I could get in Norfolk, which wasn’t that much. So I started as a canoe is doing an awful lot of this stuff that you’ve probably done in your in your book, sort of like a hidden river seidner it’s I’ve done tonnes of canoeing in Norwich, it is a wonderful place to do it, but yes, you’re right. I’ve never forgotten it. I’ve now blanked out all of that conflict that was there I was I was it was almost like a full history that I’ve created for myself on the the blissful canoeing when there was an enormous amount of conflict and you’re right there’s tonnes of trespass conflict with canoeing twos, and it wasn’t a very good analogy at all I do apologise but

Steve Silk 41:56
but look, you’re you’re it’s really interesting because you you are defining yourself as an investor. Again, I hadn’t seen that before. I don’t think I’ve ever seen myself as either a canoeist or a cyclist I am just a bloke who does those things rather than defining myself as them so there’s a subtle difference there isn’t there this weekend I’m I want to go out my canoe because that’s the nice way to get out and explore the countryside and switch off from work next week. It might be a bike the following week, it might be a you know 12 mile walk or something so yes, I guess I’m not pigeon holing myself if that’s the right term labelling myself quite as you say it but I hadn’t even seen the difference till you described it like

Carlton Reid 42:40
the I’m very guilty obviously in my line of work I’ve pigeon holed myself, but then other people will will absolutely pigeonhole me which is probably one of the reasons why I did the Great North Road not on a bicycle like you did it, but in a Morgan so that when I do get attacked, I do get attacked on social media from from, from motorists who are like hardcore, then I can say, Well, look, you know that I’m not this this this pigeonhole person on a bicycle only, I also use the form of transport you love to. So that kind of, you know, trying to not get pigeonholed is probably a good thing.

Steve Silk 43:26
And, and did it work with the Morgan?

Carlton Reid 43:29
so far on social media, I haven’t really been attacked. But I was dallying in actually changing my profile on Twitter and all sorts to just me and a Morgan just to see if it confuses people. Because obviously, I am known as being ultra, ultra ultra cycle ist. And I am I can’t get away from that fact. But that doesn’t mean to say, I can’t enjoy other forms of transport, too. And that is that we do get pigeonholed. And people make assumptions about people that aren’t always correct.

Steve Silk 44:09
Yes, absolutely. And it’s only you know, a part of your life. You’re on this one was transport and that form of transport. No, I quite agree. I have to say I, I only dabble in the the paddling pool, end of, of Twitter. But I’ve never had any bad experiences, which is, I guess, given that I’ve got a little cycling emoji there. And I all I talk about is great North Road and a bit of cycling. I have to say I’ve been mercifully free of that, and long may that continue. Hmm.

Carlton Reid 44:41
So let me just say that. So say, we know you’ve been to San Francisco, which is hardcore. But we know that you went to a bike shop to put on chamois cream when you should have been having a rotten beginning. So that’s a rookie error. So we know there’s these two very different aspects of your cyclist life. But do you do use a bicycle in any other part of your life apart from going touring? So for instance, you live in about 12 miles out of Norwich would you cycle to work for instance?

Steve Silk 45:18
I have cycled to work, but I don’t do it routinely and I probably should do. I think if I lived well,

Carlton Reid 45:27
not too bad, Steve. Sorry. 12 miles is not too bad. It’s you know, it’s

Steve Silk 45:34
no, it’s not it’s perfectly doable. It’s perfectly doable. I think what I probably am moving towards is cycling to sorry, driving towards the outskirts of Norwich and then having some kind of fold up bike that I would then do the last two or three miles on I everyone’s got an excuse haven’t laid but I quite often don’t finish my working day till half past seven at night. So for much of the year that means coming home 12 miles in the dark, which I don’t quite fancy every day but hey, look, maybe that’s a pathetic excuse. I haven’t I normally as you say I am a leisure cyclist but with chucking in the odd cycle to work journey in there as well. Hmm.

Carlton Reid 46:20
We’ll see. But it’s been absolutely fascinating talking to you. I’m sure we could reminisce about our Norfolk and Newcastle backgrounds until the cows came home. But let’s find out a bit more about your book. So if you can give us a website for the book give us your Twitter handle and and your publisher’s details. So let’s let’s get all that stuff on on tape.

Steve Silk 46:45
Yes, so the best thing as far as the book is concerned is to go via the summerdale website or at some as Dale on Twitter. I have a personal website that is great North Road dot info. But Twitter is the best way to keep in touch with what I’m about. And my handle for that is @greatnorthroad2. The book comes out with Summersdale on July the eighth and it will be available in a lot of the book shops up and down the 400 mile length a one as well as all the other usual places.

Carlton Reid 47:25
Thank you very much and can I ask who was @greatnorthroad1 or who was @greatNorthRoad on Twitter?

Steve Silk 47:30
Someone who’s who’s 15 followers and has only posted about twice and it’s very frustrating that that’s I haven’t got it off him or her maybe I should try harder and do a do a deal there maybe often a couple of copies of the book and maybe I could we could swap handles

Carlton Reid 47:48
Thanks to Steve Silk there and thanks to you for listening to the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast. Show notes and more can be found on It’s the start of the Tour de France next week and you’ll soon hear some Grand Boucle Bonne mottes from the Spokesmen regulars but meanwhile get out there and ride.

May 17, 2021 / / Blog

If your podcast catcher not showing in links above (black circle with three dots)? Loads more on PodLink. Show is also on Spotify. and Google Podcasts.

12th May 2021
The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 275: Pump for Peace with Claudio Caluori


HOST: Carlton Reid

Claudio Caluori

GUEST: Claudio Caluori

TOPICS: “The kids were just riding and riding and riding and riding, and I had tears in my eyes.” A chat about Pump for Peace with downhill mountain biker and trail builder Claudio Caluori of Velosolutions, the world’s foremost pump track construction company



Pump for Peace

Bartali Movement for Youth


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to episode 275 of the Spokesmen cycling Podcast. This show was uploaded on Monday 17th May 2021.

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For shownotes links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the- And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:08
I’m Carlton Reid and today’s guest may sound very familiar to you, that is if you’ve watched any downhill mountain bike videos in the last few years. Claudio Caluori’s course preview videos for Red Bull and others tend to go viral and not just because they showcase his great bike handling skills but because he keeps talking into his GoPro helmetcam even on the craziest of descents. Claudio is also an asphalt artist, known to many as Mr Pump Track. Since 2004, his Velosolutions business has built more than 300 pump tracks around the world. On today’s show Claudio talks about how he got into mountain biking and how his Pump for Peace project fosters community cohesion. He was talking to me from Israel where he’s constructing the first two of four pump tracks for the Bartali Youth in Movement project. The pump tracks are located in diverse communities where Jewish, Druze and Arab kids bond through bicycling. With air raid sirens blaring Claudio is carrying on …

Carlton Reid 2:20
Lots of people …. I know you your your voice, your infectious laugh from mountain bike commentary and my my background was originally in in mountain biking. So tell me about how you got into mountain biking to begin with? Because I heard you were a hockey player originally.

Claudio Caluori 2:42
Yeah, in fact, I was a hockey player in Switzerland as a kid. And my parents bought me a mountain bike. So I could actually go to hockey training everyday by myself, so they wouldn’t have to drive me every day. And well, that was really cool. But it was so cool that it became more interesting than the hockey playing itself. So I soon after switched to mountain bike racing, which at first for me was cross country racing. And only a couple years later, I got into downhill racing.

Carlton Reid 3:15
So it’s a good background to have, you know, if you’re if you’re if you can do both disciplines really well.

Claudio Caluori 3:20
Yeah, yeah, it helped in many ways.

Carlton Reid 3:22
And then I mean, you’re like a multiple Swiss champion. And so yeah, you’re pretty good at this, weren’t you? Yeah. Was that the Swiss champion in XC or

Carlton Reid 3:31
in downhill

Claudio Caluori 3:32
That was in downhill and dual slalom.

Carlton Reid 3:34
What, what, what kind of time period we’re talking here, Claudio? When, when were you at the top of your game?

Claudio Caluori 3:40
Well, that was somewhere between 1999 and 2005 or so. And then I I quit racing at 2008 when I started my own racing team.

Carlton Reid 3:52
And what happened there?

Claudio Caluori 3:54
Well, I ran the Scott Velosolutions World Cup team for 10 years, up until two years ago.

Carlton Reid 4:02
And then you went at the same time, or before this in fact, you’d already started the pump track building business — was that 2004?

Claudio Caluori 4:12
2004 is when we founded Velosolutions but back then, pump trucks were not really a topic around the world yet. So we were just basically a normal trail building company that did bike parks, like any other trail building company. So the whole pump track thing only came up in 2009.

Carlton Reid 4:34
How long does it take for you to build a pump track does this did obviously depend on on location, the size all these kind of things? Or is there an average where you can say well, an average one is takes this amount amount of time?

Claudio Caluori 4:49
Yeah, obviously it does, it does depend on the size. But we usually as as an average of 1000 square metres, it would take us around three weeks. Now, if we do projects like here in Israel, we try to accelerate it. And, you know, like, just get the maximum efficiency out of it. Also to make it more affordable. But we couldn’t hold that pace throughout the year because I would burn all of my people if we went at that pace all year long.

Carlton Reid 5:29
So when you say your people, how many people does it take, in those three weeks to

Carlton Reid 5:34
build a pump track?

Claudio Caluori 5:36
During the rough shaping of the track we are usually five and then during the asphalt phase we’re between 10 and 12, depending on how big the track is. And obviously, everything is very different in the current situation here in Israel.

Carlton Reid 5:57
Yes, we’ll get onto that in a moment. Now, you mentioned asphalt, because asphalt is your signature material, isn’t it? Whereas most people, well my experience of pump tracks has been they’re dirt. So what why did you go for asphalt? What, what does it have over ever? So why do you prefer asphalt basically?

Claudio Caluori 6:16
Yeah, so up until 2009, all the pump trucks around the world were built in dirt. And I also appreciate that, appreciate it that very much, I loved it. And I was riding pump tracks, and was one of my favourite things. But this is not really something you could do for cities. Because if they buy a pumptrack from you, they might as well just hire two people to keep it in shape, because it’s obviously constantly falling apart. So a friend of mine came up with the idea of mixing cement in it into the dirt. And I then said, well, if we do that, we might as well do it right and build it in concrete, which was the first step towards the asphalt then, which was already a pretty good success; from 2009 to 2012. And then in 2012, a city nearby from where I live, asked me, Hey, we want the pumptrack from you. But we have a suggestion. We give you a road construction company to help you. But we want you to try out asphalt. And so I went to the headquarters of that road construction company. And I’ve built a berm for them in their backyard. And they tried to lay asphalt on it, and it worked. And so we then built the first asphalt pump track in 2012. And it was such a big success that that basically started the whole hype for pump tracks around the world. And by now we’re building pump tracks in every country.

Carlton Reid 8:08
Now, Velosolutions is the name of your company, but then you’ve got pump tracks for peace. And the first one for that was in Lesotho?

Claudio Caluori 8:18
Yeah, so Pump for Peace was basically an idea that we had after seeing what our pump tracks do, what an effect they have around the world, no matter where you are, whether that’s in a rich country, or in a poor country, they always have the very same effect, where people of all ages of all backgrounds of all beliefs, whatever poor and rich, whatever skin colour, they get go, they get together on those pump tracks, and they have fun on it. And we thought, you know what, we really need to make this possible in places where they could not afford it. Or where no one would go because it’s too too sketchy because it’s some war zone or whatever. And that’s where the kids need it even more. So that that’s the idea behind Pump for Peace. And that is also the reason why we’re now in Israel.

Carlton Reid 9:23
Now again, we will we will get there in the end, don’t worry, and I’m gonna I’m gonna like I’m gonna I’m gonna I’m gonna pump you, you could say for for Israel right at the end. But go back to Lesotho because that’s the first one, so that was that was 157 metres long. Is that about the average what’s what’s the shortest and what’s the longest pumptrack that you’ve done?

Claudio Caluori 9:46
Well, the shortest is probably around 20 metres in someone’s backyard. The longest one is around 420 metres in China because that this guy specifically wanted the longest pump track in the world. And that’s probably until we talk to the next Chinese client, because this one will also want to have the longest in the world.

Carlton Reid 10:12
That’d be quite tiring. And that’s really like going out for a mountain bike ride on a pump track that long.

Claudio Caluori 10:16
Yes, actually, that’s why we don’t recommend really to build that long pump tracks because it is really tiring. And it’s gonna be super hard to make it around the full lap. And yeah, so Lesotho was actually our first peace project that was connected to a video project that they really wanted me to be part of. And I said, I really have no time I need to be, I need to build pump tracks in India and in Chile, and I am really booked, I cannot come for a video project in Lesotho unless you can combine it for us with our first ever Pump for Peace project. And there was actually a guy waiting just for that. So while we while I went down there for this video project, we built that first Pump for Peace pump track and yeah, that’s how we got it all going. And by now, we even had qualifiers for the Red Bull pump track World Championships on that track in Lesotho. And we actually have kids from Lesotho taking part of the world championships finals.

Carlton Reid 11:35
Yeah, I’ve I’ve watched that video. It’s fascinating and wonderful. And it’s I guess the thing that that comes across, are the kids smiling. So is that what keeps you fired up the fact, that wherever you build these pump tracks, wherever in the world you do these whether it’s a huge one in China, or a small one in somebody’s backyard, it’s just the kids. Smile. They just love these things.

Claudio Caluori 11:57
Yes, yes. And you can imagine, if you go to a country like Lesotho that effect, when you see hundreds of kids just storming the pumptrack, once you’ve laid down the last tonne of asphalt. I have to tell you a little story about how this whole idea with Pump for Peace came up. It was actually when we were building a track in Thailand, at the Cambodian border right in front of a little village, almost a little slum you could say. And it was for a very rich client. And I kind of felt bad to build the thing in front of the slum, not knowing if these kids living in this slum will even be able to use it, if they even have bikes. And so it was kind of mixed feelings there. You know, we were kind of happy to have this job in Thailand. But at the same time, we were not sure if this was just something super exclusive to the rich, or if the kids that live next door if they would have access to it. But the answer was given right in the moment where we poured out the last wheelbarrow of asphalt, because all of these kids from that slum ran to the pumptrack with what ever they had, you know, like if it was an old broken skateboard or a rusty bike, or even just a wheel to run around on the track with it. And they would not leave. They were just riding and riding and riding and riding. And I had tears in my eyes. And I knew we have to make this possible all around the world.

Carlton Reid 13:54
Let’s define pumptrack as you mentioned a skate park there. So what’s the difference between a concrete skatepark and an asphalt pump tracks? What is it, the flow? The fact that you use … Yeah, tell me what what’s the difference?

Claudio Caluori 14:10
A pump track usually not always, but usually is a track and not a park, which means people are going in the same direction. Obviously you can also ride it in the other direction. But it’s it’s a loop. It’s a track that loops and you can you can go around it as many times as you want and you don’t actually have to pedal your bike on it. And that’s why it’s called a pump track because you use the shapes of the pump track to accelerate so meaning all of the rollers and all of the steep turns. If you pump your bike correctly, you will accelerate with every roller and the better you get, the faster you get and you’ll be able to to jump some of those rollers, or even several of them, and combine the track, in several ways, because we decided in a way where you can jump out of a corner and land on another straight. So in that way, it’s similar to skate park because it allows you to, to be creative with your line choice. But when there’s many people using it at the same time, then people just stick to the same direction. And so it’s not like in a skate park where you have to wait for one guy to finish his ride, and then you can drop in on a pumptrack there’s actually many kids who can ride at the same time.

Carlton Reid 15:50
Mmm. And when you get bare plots of land, you get this blank canvas, does something about that blank canvas say, well, I think we should have, you know, a certain number of berms, a certain number of platforms here. Are they kind of like standardised? Or is every single one going to be be different? What what are the design parameters that you’re you’re considering when you’re when you’re putting in a pumptrack?

Claudio Caluori 16:21
Well, we are around that 270 tracks around the world so far, and I have not designed two of the same ones yet. So literally, every single contract is designed from scratch. And, obviously, we want it well, the biggest parameter of all the solutions contracts is that it must be suitable for both beginners and pros. So we want a beginner to have fun on it. And we want a pro athlete to have fun on it, meaning that all rollers must actually be rollable. And so there’s no gap jumps where a beginner would, would hurt himself if he doesn’t make it over the gap. Yet, the pro athlete must find enough challenges for him for the track to be interesting for him. And so over the last, what is it since 2009, so that’s 12 years, we have constantly developed the designs further that the turns have gone steeper and higher, the distances have gone bigger, the height of the rollers and the combinations. So we’re constantly pushing, pushing it a little further.

Carlton Reid 17:45
You’ve mentioned where you are you’re in you’re in Israel at the moment. Are you in northern Israel? Whereabouts in Israel are you?

Claudio Caluori 17:51
Well, right now I’m sitting in northern Israel. But the two tracks that we’re building are around Tel Aviv. So right where it happens.

Carlton Reid 18:04
Yes, so Israel is in the news at the moment. So how can — everybody’s gonna ask this — how can a pump track have any chance of breaking down the many, many long and intractable problems that that, well, not just Israel, but that part of the world has what kind of pump track do that, say, diplomatic missions and all sorts of different things that have been tried over the years, what can the pumptrack bring to the table?

Claudio Caluori 18:37
Our pump tracks

Claudio Caluori 18:38
are used by any by everyone, no matter age, no matter where he comes from, or comes from, no matter the skill level, no matter how poor or rich you are. And the people just mix on these pump tracks and have fun together. And my belief is that even here in the Middle East, these kids will learn. I mean, in reality, they already do live together. It’s not like it’s not like they’re completely separated, despite what’s going on with all the missiles and everything. But we are working together here with the Bartali Youth Movement foundation, which wants to educate the kids through sports. It wants to show the kids that there’s something else that than just the army. They can do different things in life than a career in the military. And yeah, this is this is why we’re here. This is what we believe in. And this is also why I’m not running home. If even if it gets a little loud here.

Carlton Reid 19:56
So you’re building these in they’re called Youth Villages Yes. So that these are multi faith basicall people for many, many communities, kids from many, many communities are in these these villages. So you’ve got the Jewish kids obviously you’ve got Druze kids you’ve got Christian Arabs, you’ve got Muslim Arabs and some of them so these are kind of like petri dishes these are communities of multi multi community things so is that gonna help with the pump tracks it’s just that there’s lots of different people from all sorts of different backgrounds basically mixing with bicycles or with whatever they using for to get around the pumptrack?

Claudio Caluori 20:44
Yeah, and that’s also why we call it a Pump for Peace project because if it was exclusive to just one one community then we would not call it a Pump for Peace track then then it would just be a normal client but since we had it confirmed that this will be accessible to anyone we put it under the organisation of of contracts and sorry Pump for peace, and the Bartali foundation will also provide bikes to the kids and they will have an educational programme on it and even come up with with a race series on those five or six tracks that it’s gonna be

Carlton Reid 21:37
Okay, if I wanted to have a pump track in my back garden, I had the suitable space How much would I be looking at that to get you to do and not a Pump for Peace one but just a standard pump track?

Claudio Caluori 21:54
Well, how about how big is your backyard?

Carlton Reid 22:00
Let’s just say it say I’ve got a tennis court I’ve got a tennis court that’s not being used — I haven’t by the way — but if I’ve got a tennis court in my backyard and and I just think well let’s let’s make that into a pump track instead.

Carlton Reid 22:13
How much would a tennis court size pump track cost?

Claudio Caluori 22:18
Is a tennis court is right around 2300 square metres, would that be or would it be more?

Carlton Reid 22:29
You really I’m not the right person to ask cos I don’t have a tennis court in my back yard. I’m just I’m just trying to get it like a ballpark figure here, literally.

Claudio Caluori 22:38
They will be obviously that depends on the country you’re in. You’re in the UK if I’m right. So I think the UK pricing is but I might be wrong, I would I would have to call my UK partner that would be around £150 per square metre. So now I already had a glass of wine. Maybe my calculating is is not that good anymore? So 100 square metres times 150 would be 15,000 so we’re talking about £45,000 but I might be completely off. No okay, so for 300 square metres that that sounds right

Carlton Reid 23:31
yeah. And why the difference in in country prices just the price of asphalt the price of labour what’s what

Carlton Reid 23:39
are the what are the things that you’re considering here?

Claudio Caluori 23:41
Yeah, obviously machinery, asphalt and crushed stone and whatever other materials you need local labour. Yeah, that those are very different factors in every country. And you know, like Switzerland, super expensive. UK is also super expensive, then America is also expensive. But then you go to countries like Lesotho or India where you can build things a lot cheaper.

Carlton Reid 24:17
So that might sound expensive. But when you compared to say a playground, I mean playgrounds cost an enormous amount of money when when a local authority or council put one in, they they they cost a lot of money. But these things are very cost effective, because they’re being used 24/7, almost, you know, there’s always gonna be somebody on them, isn’t it?

Claudio Caluori 24:40
Yeah, I mostly compare them with soccer fields because soccer fields are a lot more expensive than our pump tracks and they’re, in my opinion hardly ever used. But now now I’m going to have a lot of haters but you know, like when a soccer field stands there, then it’s mostly empty until the club the local club starts its training in the evening. And then there’s a bunch of people on it but a pumptrack literally, as you say they’re always packed with the kids unless they’re in school but then that’s the time where the way the athletes can get on it because the athletes cannot really use the pump trick when when a million kids are on them.

Carlton Reid 25:27
What are your next plans after you’ve after you’ve left Israel? What do you what do you what’s you’ve got coming up?

Claudio Caluori 25:35
Probably have to go commenting on some on some of the downhill World Cups. But we’ll see. We might have another one in Kathmandu, another Pump for Peace track coming up, then we have one in Armenia coming up. And yes, I’ll stay flexible. There’s actually this summer is going to be quite packed with a lot of video stories as well. And with those videos stories, I’m trying to raise money for Pump for Peace so we can go build more, more of these tracks.

Carlton Reid 26:14
Wonderful. Tell us where people can find out more information on Pump for Peace and Velosolutions, and maybe you on social media.

Unknown Speaker 26:27
Well on social media my it’s just my name Claudio Caluori both on Instagram and on Facebook. I’m not very, very active on Facebook and more active on Instagram, or YouTube as well. Same thing for for Velosolutions, it’s And for Pump for peace, it’s

Carlton Reid 26:50
Thanks to Claudio Caluori there and thanks to you for listening to the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast. Show notes and more can be found on That’s it for this month, there will be more episodes in June … meanwhile get out there and ride.

May 9, 2021 / / Blog

If your podcast catcher not showing in links above (black circle with three dots)? Loads more on PodLink. Show is also on Spotify. and Google Podcasts.

9th May 2021

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 274: Curbing cars with Chris and Melissa Bruntlett


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Chris and Melissa Bruntlett

TOPICS: A 65-minute chat with Chris and Melissa Bruntlett, authors of “Curbing Traffic” from Island Press and published at the end of June.


Book promo codes

Island Press

Dutch Cycling Embassy



Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to episode 274 of the Spokesmen cycling Podcast. This show was uploaded on Sunday 9th May 2021.

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For shownotes links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the- And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:07
In 2019 Chris and Melissa Bruntlett moved from Vancouver — often billed as one of the world’s most attractive cities to live — to make a new life in the Netherlands. They’ve just bought a house in Delft and, as you’ll soon hear, it sounds like this famous urbanist couple will be staying in cycling paradise. I’m Carlton Reid and in this one-hour show I asked Chris and Melissa to describe the premise of their great new book, chapter by chapter. I was hounded to learn that I was one of the first to get a hold of a PDF of the book, which doesn’t come out until the end of next month so this is fantastic sneak preview for you, and listen on because there’s also a promo code where you can save a chunk of cash of Curbing Traffic, which will be published by Island Press on June 29th.

Carlton Reid 2:03
Chris, Melissa, fantastic. And thank you ever so much for coming back on on the show, because you have been on the spokesman podcast numerous times. Probably previous books, you have got this, this this, this new book, curbing traffic now that will be excellent for the people who listen to this. Because it’s not just about bikes, because your previous book we can talk about that was about bikes. And this is just the basic of getting rid of cars. Now I don’t know how we want to do this. Are you going to be because you’re in separate rooms in your in your in your fairytale house in Delft. But how are we because previously you’ve been like sharing a laptop, but you’re actually in different rooms. And you can come in here. So what do you want? What should I say, Melissa? Chris? Or you’re just gonna we’re gonna do this freeform? How do I do? How do you answer the questions?

Melissa Bruntlett 2:58
I think we’re both pretty good at figuring out who wants to say what or jovially interrupting each other? So if there’s any, I think I think if it’s a specific question for one of us, that probably you know, if you want to direct it, that makes sense. But yeah, I don’t think we’ll leave you with any too much dead air. Right, Chris?

Chris Bruntlett 3:21
No, exactly. And I think usually one of us will start answering a question and the other one will finish it. So whoever gets in first gets the lead. And we usually both are on the same wavelength, even if we’re not in the same room. So I don’t have any concerns.

Carlton Reid 3:37
Let’s in that case, let’s kick off with a question that links to that. And just how do you physically write books together as a married couple, and be just as somebody writing one sentence, and then somebody completes the other one? What is your writing method as a couple?

Melissa Bruntlett 3:56
That’s actually an excellent question that we get a lot. Because a lot of people will say it’s impossible to work with your partner, let alone write a book with them. I think for Chris and I, with the first book, we took a very pragmatic approach, we because we had been writing blogs for so long, individually, we approached each chapter as for individual blogs, and we each selected which section of that we were going to focus on, and then basically married them together. And both reading over making sure that the styles flow because I obviously will write a little bit differently than Chris does. But for this book, we sort of approached it because each contain each chapter contains a story of part of our experience in the first two years living in Delft. We basically took ownership of each of those stories. And so if it was something that I experienced more prevalently than Chris, for example, with the feminist city chapter, then I would leave the writing of that chapter or for Chris, the experience of the sound difference in the sound quality and delve has had a much stronger impact on him. And not that it hasn’t on me as well. So that was one that he took ownership of. And then yeah, at the end of the day, we we go through the chapters, at our little pieces here and there to make it flow to make sure that it has the emotion along with the hard facts with with that and with the data. And overall come up with what what we’re always quite proud of, I think.

Chris Bruntlett 5:30
Yeah, I think you’ve, you’ve said it, well, most of you bring the emotion and a lot of cases and I bring the the wanke the policy focus. And so yeah, and so we not only do we complement each other, well, we bring each other’s writing back to the middle, I think. So Melissa will write a segment and I’ll go in and kind of polish it up. And vice versa, I’ll write something and she’ll dewonkify it, you know, make it less technical and more approachable. So it’s, it’s kind of divide, as Melissa said, dividing the chapter up into pieces, each taking a piece, but then going back and rewriting each other sentences and putting your ego aside and just trusting each other to kind of make make the pros better. And eventually, you know, the whole the finished book has probably been read over and revise the dozen times. But we’re finally reached a point where we’re ready to let it go with and that it’s happy. It’s suitable for a while not just an urbanism audience but a mainstream mainstream audience. We’re always writing for the the casual reader if you will.

Carlton Reid 6:37
So let’s let’s get into into the book a little bit more. So it’s it’s Curbing Traffic. And it’s another Island Press book. So that’s that’s the disclaimer here that that’s also my publisher, who did buy my couple of books and you’ve now got a couple of books with them. Quickly, when is it out? If I got like an advance copy? Or is it physically going to be out?

Chris Bruntlett 7:01
Yeah, the official release date is June 29. So it’s still a couple months from when we’re speaking but the the pre orders should start shipping late May early June because the the publication date natural physical manufacturing date is about a month before the release date. But you have most definitely have a early review copy Carlton, one of the first people to see it in its final form.

Carlton Reid 7:26
In which case, I’m very honoured. Thank you very much. And ite’s an excellent, excellent book and it’s it’s just packed and packed and packed with both the emotional part and the statistical but the the wonky the kind of the transport professional part, when you both transport professional anyway, but that it’s just full of meat is what I’m trying to say. So it has been a fantastic reading. I’ve really, really enjoyed it. And one of my questions is gonna be before actually physically read the book was going to be and we’ll get into your biographical details and when you moved to the Netherlands and a second, but it was gonna be you know, is this a stage of your life that you’re going through? And eventually you’ll go back to Canada. And then I read that the last few paragraphs in the book and the photograph of you on the stoop on the on your outside of your your wonderful 130 year old canalside house. And when you’ve bought a house there, and you’re pretty much saying you’re living here for the rest of your lives, that’s your fairy tale. So would that be you you put that in the book? Had you thought about that? Or do you did you talked about that before? putting that in the book? Or was it something that the book has crystallised for you?

Melissa Bruntlett 8:43
I think from the moment we made the decision to move to the Netherlands, I think we both approached it as this could possibly be a very permanent move for us. As we say in the introduction, you know, we we reached sort of a moment in Vancouver where we absolutely loved the city. We love living in British Columbia and being surrounded by all the natural beauty and the city itself is such a wonderful place to live and to raise kids. But we really needed to downsize, we’d reached I guess, that proverbial point in your lives when you’re at your late 30s, early 40s. And you want to settle down a little. And we found ourselves prior to making the decision to move to the Netherlands, struggling to find a city that we could enjoy the quality of life that we did in Vancouver. Being car free, in terms of our living circumstance, and being able to walk in cycle and enjoy the city without having, you know, to rely on cars to get us around. It was really hard to find a place that could mimic that in and around where we were living in Vancouver or even returning back to Ontario in more central Eastern Canada where our parents and siblings live and so we knowing we were coming to a country where we were going to be able to enjoy a similar quality of life in terms of how we moved, we sort of knew that this is likely going to be a rather permanent move for us. And yes, that was solidified a, you know, when we decided to buy a house here and really set some roots down. But I think even before we got here, we knew that this could end very well might be a permanent stay for us.

Chris Bruntlett 10:29
Well, the very last chapter of the book is about the idea of ageing in place and building Age Friendly cities. And I think that the very end of the writing process helped us understand that we wanted to live in a city that allowed us to age in place that didn’t force us as our, perhaps our parents and other relatives, to either become reliant on other people for our transportation, or move elsewhere in the city so that we’re more conveniently located to the services that we need. We knew we had everything we needed in Delft within a 10 minute walk. And as Melissa said, just purchasing this home on a canal, the five minute walk from the city centres is crystallised everything we’ve been thinking about. And we really see ourselves getting old and living forever in this house, because it’s perfectly located perfect size. And we don’t see ourselves in the future. You know, having to be necessarily moving to as if we’re looking for proximity, mobility, or other compromise to make other compromises in terms of the location. Delft is a city where people from young to old can can exist quite comfortably.

Carlton Reid 11:53
The book is a love story, then it absolutely you as a couple, of course, and then just you falling in love with Delft that that’s absolutely there, of course, and getting rid of cars, which is a lovely concept. But the book is about getting rid of cars, but might you just the book actually be you should move to that Delft if you want to live the lifestyle that you’re describing in Delft, this lovely story, shouldn’t you just move to Delft?

Chris Bruntlett 12:21
I wouldn’t say that. No, I mean, not everyone has the privilege, the ability, the means the and in terms of physical space, it’s impossible to everybody to move to the Netherlands. And it’s certainly not what we’re advocating, we’re quite open in the book that we do have this who have had this privilege to move here. But there’s little do we know when we decided to move to Delft that it was really kind of this this place in the 1970s, that tried a lot of different policies, from the corner to the traffic circulation plan, to the low car city centre. These are policies that can be implemented virtually at anywhere, and they are starting to be implemented in places of the world like Barcelona and Auckland. So our intention was not to say, you know, everybody come here to experience this quality of life, it’s to build this quality of life into your own city simply by treating cars as guests, rather than as we have in the last 40 to 50 years treating them as the guest of honour in our urban fabric.

Melissa Bruntlett 13:26
Yeah, I think, I think what’s I think what I really wanted, and what Chris and I think both really wanted to sort of challenge is that it shouldn’t involve or shouldn’t be a prerequisite that you have this privilege to be able to move to a city like this, which it shouldn’t be that you have to leave where you are to experience a higher quality of life. And so you know, both of us in our day jobs, were so focused on exporting a lot of this knowledge to international cities to really help everywhere start to realise the benefits and also start working towards creating these more human focus cities. So we understand that, you know, for example, the suburb of Ontario and Kitchener Waterloo that we grew up in, is never going to be exactly emulating Delft, for example. But there are a lot of things that can be done to help lower car usage, provide people with other options, connect them with their community in a better way, that, you know, they don’t have to move across the Atlantic to a Dutch city to be able to enjoy a better quality of life. These ideas should and can and are being applied in order to make sure that for those that don’t have the ability to pack up their family and move to another country, another city, that their city can start to enjoy some of these same benefits that we’ve come to enjoy having lived here.

Carlton Reid 14:50
Hmm. Melissa, you mentioned your careers there. So that’s a good time to introduce the fact that you’re working for Mobycon. And then Chris, you’re working for the Dutch Cycling Embassy. So, Melissa first, tell me what Mobycon is. And you kind of briefly touched upon it there. But just tell us again. And then Chris, you follow that up by telling us a bit more about the Dutch Cycling Embassy?

Melissa Bruntlett 15:15
Yeah, sure. So Mobycon is a Dutch North American consultancy, that focuses on sustainable mobility. So here in the Netherlands, there’s a lot of focus on all aspects, whether that’s walking placemaking cycling, or public transport, how do they move to more sustainable choices, obviously, there is a lot of sustainable sustainable mobility here in the Netherlands. But that doesn’t mean there’s not room for improvement. But for my part, I work with our international team in exporting a lot of that knowledge largely focused around cycling, but also placemaking. And walking, both elsewhere in Europe, so across the continent, but we’ve also done some work in the UK. And then we have offices in Canada and the US where we are taking a lot of the ideas that Chris and I presented, for example, in the first book in building the cycling city, and applying them in context, through design through planning through policy in cities and towns throughout Canada in the US.

Chris Bruntlett 16:15
Yeah, so I find myself in the very strange position that I am a Canadian, advocating for the Netherlands as the world’s leading cycling nation. But the the, the fact of the matter is, as a Dutch Cycling Embassy, it’s a organisation that public private partnership that the national government here in the Netherlands started, basically to export the knowledge and expertise that exists here in this country, and it’s been built over the last 50 years or so. So, we have about 80 different organisations within our network. They are private consultants such as mobicom. They are bicycle manufacturers, like Gazelle. They are the various municipal governments, universities and bike parking manufacturers, all looking to work overseas and help cities and regions become more bicycle friendly. So we bring teams around the world to host workshops, webinars, training. And then inversely, we also do a lot of study tours and welcome groups from elsewhere in the world and take them for tours and classroom sessions to learn from the the amazing conditions here. And so yeah, as I said, I’m marketing and communication manager selling Dutch cycling as as this foreigners is international outside voice but I think it just speaks volumes to how normalised and mundane cycling has become here that that most people who live here don’t think it’s it’s special or recognise it as something that’s should be spread or or exported around the world.

Carlton Reid 17:52
In your book, you mentioned it on that point that you know, when you go you have been abroad. And then you come back you kind of hear the birdsong. You hear the quietude of Delft, of course, a lot of people have roughly the same thing. Even in the most busy, you know, urban cities with with COVID-19 Coronavirus, where people in cities heard that song again. So we kind of all had that that brief glimpse of what you’re getting on a daily basis. Do you think that COVID-19 might actually help urbanist people interested in getting rid of cars to actually get rid of cars?

Melissa Bruntlett 18:37
Right, think for Chris and I that’s certainly the hope. And we found ourselves in this interesting position. We were writing the book. So we had pitched it to Ireland press hadn’t had everything approved. And it started the initial writing process before the pandemic hit. And we actually had several moments that when we’re writing the first few chapters where we’re like, is this even going to be relevant anymore what we’re writing because everyone is experiencing exactly what we’re trying to promote. But I think and Chris would probably agree that I think the challenge now is to not return to the status quo, which we have seen happen in a few cities, as things start to open up again, that this return to car use, or for busier cities, it losing some of that quality that a lot of people experienced. And so we really hope that with that knowledge with that experience, plus what we’ve written in the book, it helps to really solidify why it’s really important because yeah, that that birdsong we have we remember Clarence Eckerson in New York, commenting us in the heart of Manhattan, Manhattan hearing birds. And you know, who wouldn’t want that on a much more regular basis in New York City to be able to hear the natural world around you and so yeah, I guess the challenge now is to record Notice how important that experience was and should be continued. But yeah, I I remain pessimistically optimistic. Maybe Chris feels a little bit differently. But yeah, I, I was amazing that that was all happening as we were writing this. And I really hope it helps to reinforce what we were saying.

Chris Bruntlett 20:20
Well, I think you know, historically much is made of the Netherlands, experiencing the OPEC oil crisis in the 1970s, in the six weeks where they suddenly had a gasoline shortage and the sale of bicycles doubled. It was kind of this lightbulb moment as a society when they realised they had to build a more resilient transport system and, and look at their streets a little bit differently, both in terms of the politicians, but also in terms of the general population. We’re seeing sparks of that light bulb moment now in cities around the world. We always joked beforehand that to make these changes, people would need to come to the Netherlands to experience them firsthand. But they really experienced them on their front porch and on their front doorstep. For albeit, you know, a short period of time, but suddenly, they were out on their street, sometimes playing tennis, interacting with their neighbours for the first time, breathing the air, smelling the ocean, if they lived by the sea, hearing the birds seeing what their city looked like with fewer cars. zooming around, and now as Moses hinted is, is capturing that momentum, supporting elected officials that are going to implement some of the puppet changes that have been made, whether it’s puppet bike infrastructure, or pop up dining terraces, but making sure that this moment turns into a movement for cities that are prioritise the people that live in them, rather than the vehicles, the motor vehicles that they drive.

Carlton Reid 21:51
Now, Island Press is, of course, a climate change specialist publisher. So it must have been a relatively easy pitch. I mean, it’s never an easy pitch ever, but it must have been relatively easy pitch to say to a climate change publisher, we want to write a book about getting rid of cars. Was that something that just went? Oh, yes, we absolutely need a book like that. How was that that publication? process? How did that go for you?

Chris Bruntlett 22:21
Actually, it was quite difficult to be honest, I don’t think we always package this as our personal story. That would include some of the anecdotes of us moving here. And I don’t think I’ve impressive really published a book like that before. I think they’re very kind of policy nonfiction. technical stuff. Exactly. Exactly. So we had some convincing to do to be honest, to get them on board and you know, ultimately, we didn’t know well, we didn’t want to write building the cycling city to we didn’t want to just you know tell the same story or or slightly different story. We wanted to make this project personal we wanted to make it emotive use our engaging the reader user help them to experience what we’ve experienced here bring them along for a journey that also includes some some technical facts and figures to backup our case. But yeah, it was a bit of a pitch to get them to come along for the ride Not to mention you know, we were promotion for this book is going to look a lot different than the first book with us both working day jobs and having relocated to Europe. There was not going to be any kind of multi week tour of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand as it was the first time around. So a lot has changed since since we wrote our first book and so we’re having to adapt and also bring Island press along for the ride but we hope their their faith in us will be rewarded again.

Carlton Reid 23:54
It’s tough to say that this is one of my favourites because it’s certainly my favourites Of course in in your book, it’s it’s wonderful. But I found especially cute, the the bits of Dutch that you put into the book, and I’m very pleased that you’ve put those bits of Dutch into the book because it really adds a lot of flavour. Yes, you’re learning the language, of course, but you’re also learning in a really cute part of the language, you know, these kind of, you know, aphorisms and and words and phrases that are just so wonderful. Now one of them I picked out was and of course you’re gonna be able to pronounce as much better than me. Uitwaaien is wind bath?

Melissa Bruntlett 24:35

Carlton Reid 24:36
So describe what a wind bath concept what a wind bath is and please correct my pronunciation.

Melissa Bruntlett 24:44
Yeah, so that would be uitwaaien. Which, funnily enough, Chris and I seem to be experiencing everyday. It’s been a very windy April and May or, you know, year here in the Netherlands. But essentially, that’s the content of going out and getting fresh air or frisse neus. You know, having the wind in your face sort of washing away any of the stresses of the day or the week or the month. And, you know, it’s, you know, in Canada, we would talk about going out to get a breath of fresh air. Similarly, but in this case, you have quite heavy winds in your face. And it’s, it’s a, it’s, it’s an experience to have the first few times, but I understand why that now having lived here for as long as we have, why it’s important for people because it’s just this like removal of Yeah, just the stress that most of us experience, you know, being whether you will have a family or you’re working full time or however you might experience stress. It’s just a way to wash that all the way in what is a very prevalent force of nature here in the country. And I think in the book and I like Chris. Yes, exactly. No hills, lots of wind.

Chris Bruntlett 26:01
Yeah, I just realised, though, that you use the term frisse neus without actually translating it. So we Oh, yeah. brilliant, brilliant, turn a phrase from the Dutch, which literally means “fresh nose.” So when they say that they’re going to get fresh air, it’s actually kind of, they’re going to get a fresh nose. But yeah, I mean, it just comes back to this connection with nature that the Dutch have in their cities because they haven’t paved over every square inch of it. So by having fewer room for cars, fewer lanes, more roundabouts that are vegetated, they’ve got room for more trees, more grass more. And then the compact cities allow for a greater proximity to the surrounding polders and forests and nature. But you’re never very far from greenery or water. And this acts as a therapeutic sensation that improves people’s mental health and overall well being. And again, I think it’s something that we we often neglect when we talk about city living, we assume that it has to be stressful and, and, and bleak, and Asheville everywhere when we can, if we simply reallocate the space on our cities create greenery that’s inter woven with the the streets and intersections and the public spaces.

Carlton Reid 27:21
I’m gonna pick out another phrase and you can give me the Dutch I’ll give you just the English because I absolutely guarantee I’ll murder the Dutch but the phrase is “we’re not the same, but we’re worth the same.” So what’s the what if you can remember what’s that in Dutch? And then just describe roughly was talking about? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 27:38
I don’t, don’t remember the exact that’s turn of phrase because it’s slightly different. But this is in the, in the context of a really egalitarian society. So we make this point that the streets are accessible to everybody, whether they have a, you know, a 50,000 Euro Mercedes Benz or a 50 Euro bicycle, and it’s really ingrained in the culture here that there’s a real sense of equity. And so there’s not this class spaced, reinforced class reinforced system that permeates all levels of society, not the least of which are there their streets and cycle tracks and public spaces. So welcome coming

Carlton Reid 28:27
So did you find the phrase Melissa?

Melissa Bruntlett 28:28
I’m now I’m googling it, because now I can’t remember it. I’m even searching in the manuscripts. And of course, it’s not finding it for me. And I know the phrase, yeah, it’s this. But yeah, forget that, carry on.

Carlton Reid 28:39
No, that was very cruel of me to throw not just one word, but like a whole phrase. But where I guess where I was coming at it from and the reason why I picked it that was so that’s, that’s a cultural norm in the Netherlands. So my question is, you know, to curb traffic to get rid of motorcars, yeah. You need certain things you need cultural changes, not just physical, you know, concrete and curbs and, and Lane width, all those colour changes, you need a cultural switch as well. So, is that not the most difficult thing to actually fix? You can fix engineering, but can you really fix how people and nation a group actually think about mobility, about priority on the streets? And isn’t just not the fact that well, the Netherlands have got this dialled in, and you ain’t gonna be able to translate that fully anywhere else. Yeah,

Melissa Bruntlett 29:48
I would. I would say that it’s absolutely possible. And I think one of the benefits I think we have of having lived in a city like Vancouver, is that we watched as things changed. So as that infrastructure started to be built, and more and more people started to experience getting around the city more on bicycle on foot or, or a combination thereof with public transport, we saw a cultural shift. And it’s but the thing is, it’s not going to be fast. And this is one thing that Chris and I say all the time is we’re talking about change, cultural change, overgenerous a generation, which, for a lot of us working in mobility and an urban ism can be quite frustrating, because we can see we know what the benefits are, we’ve seen it in action and in various places, but it’s to not see it immediately, or have that immediate gratification and in our own cities can be very challenging. But I see it as possible. And, you know, as you were speaking, Carlton, it made me think of when we were interviewing one of our friends in the US who was talking about women in cycling, and how, you know, oftentimes when they build new cycle tracks, in cities, if if they don’t see anyone using it, or they only see it used once in a while, then it’s deemed a failure. But for her, she says that, you know, if you see one woman cycling on that cycle track with a child, that is a success, that’s proof that this is something people want, and it’s just going to take time to build. And, you know, we saw that in Vancouver, where, when we first moved there, cycling was definitely something nice, something for the fit and the brave. And then over the course of the 11 years that we lived there, we saw more and more families cycling more and more people of various ages and abilities and races cycling. So I think it’s absolutely possible. And I don’t think you necessarily have to have that pragmatic culture that we have. We see people have here in the Netherlands, it can be done. It takes patience, unfortunately. But I think it’s absolutely possible. And AI just takes showing people what is what is possible when we start building safer streets with space for fewer cars and more space for public life.

Chris Bruntlett 32:04
It’s sorry, so I found the expression and I’m going to try and pronounce it. It’s so it’s “niet gelijk, maar wel
gelijkwaardig” we’re not the same, but we’re worth the same. And it I think you framed it one way, Carlton, is it does there need to be a cultural change to facilitate a structural change, but maybe we can we can look at it the other way and and looking here in the Netherlands, were the structural changes that were made to the streets in the 1970s. Did they influence the cultural changes that we’re seeing today, and this is what we explore in the chapter about the trusting city is how more people on foot and bicycle making eye contact, having to collaborate with one another to negotiate intersections and share space, how that builds, and we’re a trusting society, of people that are accepting of other people’s differences and cultures. And it’s really interesting to think how our transport systems and our mobility systems may make our society more egalitarian. Rather than sitting back and saying, well, only eat out there in societies could undergo these changes the chicken and egg and hopefully we can, we can pick a place to start and rather than pointing at external factors as reasons why we can’t integrate these, these important measures.

Carlton Reid 33:30
Lots that’s very good to hear. If that’s the case, so we can change. I’d like to now cut to an ad break. But after the ad, I would like to go through your book chapter by chapter because you mentioned the trusting city there. And there are there are 10 chapters and the conclusions. I want you to describe each chapter we need to give like a short precis of each chapter, I’m going to give one to Melissa and wanted to create as your forewarning. That’s why I’m going to ask him for next. But right now let’s go to an ad break with David.

David Bernstein 33:59
Hey, Carlton, thanks so much. And it’s it’s always my pleasure to talk about our advertiser. This is a longtime loyal advertiser, you all know who I’m talking about. It’s Jenson USA at I’ve been telling you for years now years, that Jenson is the place where you can get a great selection of every kind of product that you need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices, and what really sets them apart. Because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there. But what really sets them apart is they’re on believable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors, and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who who ride their bikes to and from work. These are folks who ride at lunch who go out on group rides after work because they just enjoy cycling so much. And and so you know that when you call, you’ll be talking to somebody who has knowledge of the products that you’re calling about. If you’re looking for a new bike, whether it’s a mountain bike, a road bike, a gravel bike, a fat bike, what are you looking for? Go ahead and check them out. Jenson USA, they are the place where you will find everything you need for your cycling lifestyle. It’s We thank them so much for their support. And we thank you for supporting Jenson USA. All right, Carlton, let’s get back to the show.

Carlton Reid 35:24
Thanks, David. And we are back with Chris and Melissa Bruntlett. And they’re in their fairytale house in in the in the fairytale city of Delft in the Netherlands. And they’ve been telling us why they moved there, how much they’re loving it. And before we get on to going through and getting a precis of each each chapter in the book, I want to talk about their kids. Because that’s absolutely a key component. We’re not doing any privacy issues here because Chris and Melissa your kids are mentioned throughout the book and their experiences are mentioned throughout the book, which which is which is very, very inspiring and heartening, but let’s just talk about Coralie and Etienne now, I’m assuming that the ages of 12 and 10 so Coralie 12, Etienne 10. That was when you moved in 2019, so they’re now older?

Melissa Bruntlett 36:15
Yeah. Coralie is now 14 and a half and Etienne is 12. And yeah, we’ve got well, Coralie started right in high school, we’ve got another child about to join them in high school as well. So yeah, it’s it, they’re doing well, as far as, as far as they tell us anyways, you know, having a teenager and a preteen, they certainly start to keep a few things from their parents now and then. But yeah, it’s been an interesting experience for them. I won’t lie and say that it was rosy from the start, we had, you know, a bit of melancholy when we first moved here, they certainly miss their peers that they had built relationships with back in Vancouver. But we did actually do a check in we were on holiday last week, because we’re currently on there, may vacation for two weeks, and we went away and asked, you know, it’s been two years, how are you feeling? Do you still hate us? Did we make the worst decision of our life is taking you guys here? And they both said emphatically that they’re happy that we’re here. They of course, still miss their friends. But they, they’ve come to appreciate living here, which is good. We’ll see if that continues. You know, we’ve still got a few more years before they’re adults and fully appreciate where we’re at in life.

Melissa Bruntlett 37:31

Melissa Bruntlett 37:33
yeah, I think I think they’re doing okay, as much as they tell us anyways.

Chris Bruntlett 37:37
Yeah, I think Melissa and I both did similar moves as children of around 10 years age. I’ve actually moved from the UK to Canada, she moved from Eastern Canada, French Canada to Ontario. So we’re kind of familiar with the circumstances. And we were quite careful about giving them the time and space they needed to adjust and integrate. They went straight into a Dutch language school in the middle of the school year in February, and which couldn’t have been easy but they really I think surprised us with how resilient they were how quickly they made friends how quickly they learned the city. And of course as we write in the first chapter, the the traffic concentrates and the the cycle tracks really just gave them this freedom that we anticipated, but never really understood how quickly or how amazing it would be that to give them suddenly this this autonomy and independence of getting around a to be without mom and dad at your side.

Carlton Reid 38:43
Because you you quote Lenore Skenazy in the book, and she’s famous for the free range kids, you know, no helicopter, parenting approach, and you’ve basically taken that concept. And you’ve you’ve, I’d like to say ran with it, but you’ve cycled with it, you’ve given your kids the freedom the kind of freedom that kids in the US kids in the in Canada, kids in the UK do not have.

Chris Bruntlett 39:08
We actually flirted with that freedom in Vancouver, you know, we would, within reason allow them to walk to the corner store or to their school or to the community centre. But the problem was the built environment would not support that. That freedom and so we found ourselves worrying about faded crosswalks that drivers would ignore about footpaths that would disappear every time they cross the side street about six lanes of traffic that was cutting through our neighbourhood that they would have to cross and that made giving them that freedom and independence a very difficult choice. And, and more often than not, we found ourselves supervising them for short trips, when we really wanted them to let them spread their wings and, and get around independently. So we’re I think, are quite relieved that we now live in a place a built environment that supports That freedom and it speaks volumes to how the prevalence of car traffic really has robbed children of their freedom, and forced them to be constantly under supervision and rely on their parents for their transportation needs.

Carlton Reid 40:17
So that was chapter one in effect in your book. So the child friendly city is chapter number one after the introduction, of course. So if I can ask you, in turn to describe the other chapters now, I’ll mention which chapter obviously will go chronologically. If you could just take it in turn to tell us what that chapter is about, you’d have to like, give the whole game away. But just you know, briefly, what that that that chapters about so chapter number two is the connected city what’s what’s, what’s the thing going on there? And I’m gonna, I’m gonna give this to Chris.

Chris Bruntlett 40:49
Yeah. So I mean, unbeknownst to us when we moved to Delft, this was a city where the runner was invented the living Street, this concept of reclaiming the space outside your front door for play social activity, gathering and interaction with your neighbours. And for a long time, we’ve been aware of the Donald Appleyard and his really groundbreaking research in the 1970s, about how the volume and speed of traffic outside your front door really limits your connections on your street, your friends, acquaintances with your neighbours and the time you spend on your street and the sense of ownership that you spend on your street. So we really want to explore how prioritising the speed and volume of cars, outside our front door impacts our social relationships with our friends and neighbours. And we interject with some personal experiences, unexpected encounters with people living on our street to that kind of reinforces this research, and makes the case that that perhaps we should be looking at, well, what they’re implementing in London is low traffic neighbourhoods. But this idea of not banning cars altogether, but treating them as guests on, particularly on our residential streets.

Carlton Reid 42:10
Okay, Melissa, chapter three, the trusting city.

Melissa Bruntlett 42:14
Yeah, this this chapter, I think it’s it’s really about it takes the concepts of the first or the last chapter of the connected city and extrapolate that to the broader society. So the way in which people move around their city, if it’s a much more human scale way of living around whether that’s walking, cycling, or some other form of human mobility, it forces you to start connecting with the people you’re moving around the city with, and really creates a social trust. Because here, especially here in the Netherlands, traffic lights are often removed, there’s no traffic signage, and so you’re forced to interact with the people that you’re moving around the city with. And that does include cars, you know, having an what the design of the street really forces people to make eye contact to acknowledge each other. And that leads to a much more interactive experience, but also much more trusting. You know, if you look at someone if you’re forced to make eye contact, that how they react to you that they acknowledge you being in that space will ultimately affect how you navigate around each other in the space in which you’re moving. We interviewed Marco te Brömmelstroet for that, for this chapter, who talks a lot about how speed really impacts our ability to be able to approach our society and the way and our interactions in the city in a much more calm and trusting way. And so when we’re moving in fast cars, whenever things racing bias, we become very insular, it’s about our trip and our journey and anything that gets in the way becomes a very negative, whereas when you start to slow the way we move down, you’re forced to interact with people you’re forced to suddenly acknowledge the existence of the people around you and it just creates much more trusting environment and we obviously get much more into what that means in terms of the city itself and and society at a larger scale because of these forced moments of interaction with our fellow human beings.

Carlton Reid 44:22
And I should just say that Marco there is @CyclingProfessor (@fietsprofessor) so people on Twitter who follow Chris and Melissa on Twitter, I’m sure they also follow Marco the cycling professor. Chris, the feminist city, Chapter Four.

Chris Bruntlett 44:37
I think I’m gonna defer to Melissa because this is a her, er …

Carlton Reid 44:42
No, I constructed the way we started the child friendly city. I knew I actually can’t get Chris to do chapter four. So no, no, no, no, you can’t. You’ve got to tell us about it, Chris.

Chris Bruntlett 44:54
Okay, sure. Yeah, no, I think the way that we have built our Our urban fabric or our cities, our transportation networks up to this point has been very male centric, and men tend to disproportionately drive motor vehicles, they take longer distance, single purpose trips. And inversely, that leaves women out of the equation and doesn’t take their travel patterns in into consideration, which are often more sustainable foot bicycle or public transport. They’re usually shorter distance trips, they’re usually Multi Purpose trips, because they are still doing predominantly that the care work. And so we delve into this idea of care trips, and which are again, disproportionately made by women, and how we can build transportation networks that facilitate those care trips. And as you can imagine, it comes down to fine grain cycling, that works, that comes down to great walking conditions, it comes down to giving children the freedom so that their their moms don’t have to necessarily take them pick them up to drop them off at school. So a city that doesn’t just accommodate the the single purpose one way commute for a predominantly male driver. And that’s largely historically been done, because the people in the decision making chambers are affluent men, that, that we’ve, we can look at building more equity in terms of gender equity, by simply building more walking and cycling and better, faster, more frequent public transportation to support those trips that they’re already making and make their lives a lot easier.

Carlton Reid 46:46
Okay, nice summary, chapter five, Melissa, that will be the hearing city. And I guess we’re gonna have some birdsong here?

Melissa Bruntlett 46:53
Yes. Well, I mean, I think we’ve talked a lot about the benefit of you know, when we remove excessive numbers of cars in our city, and we really reduce the sounds that they contribute to in the city, you start to hear a lot more of the natural world. But one of the things that I think is really important in this chapter is not just the ability to hear the beautiful bird songs, but also the impact that has on us as individuals on our mental state and our overall stress by reducing the amount of ambient noise that we experience. And I think it’s actually funny because I was just watching, pretended to city on Netflix with Fran Lebowitz. And she refers to the the noise of New York City. And that’s just a part of it, you know, we don’t want to escape the noise. This is our noise. But I think there’s not that recognition that goes along with that of the stress of that noise creates, in terms of just us as individuals, if you’re constantly in this hyper noisy environment, you’re always on alert, you’re always at attention, you’re always in that fight or flight kind of mode. And so what this chapter, what I love that it delves into is that when we create these calmer ambient environments with lower decibels of noise, what that means for the citizens in general, not just the ability to hear the nature or hear the bricks, as people cycled by or hear people enjoying a beer on a patio, but overall in you know, really increasing that enjoyment of the city itself, and a sense of calm for us as individuals. And so I love that, you know, birdsong is so much a part of that or just the natural sounds of of the city. But you know, what that means to us as individuals, I think is an important conversation and emerging conversation, and we delve into that in this chapter.

Carlton Reid 48:47
Okay, Chris, you’re up next, because you are going to have to talk about the therapeutic city.

Chris Bruntlett 48:52
Yeah, so building on this idea of calming environments, we do a bit of a dive with our friend Robin Mazumder, who recently completed his PhD on this exact topic, mental health in the urban environment. And look at the way that car dominated environments really diminish minister mental health as a source of stress as a source of noise. And really well as we were talking about earlier, reduce the amount of green space we have access to, and really have these subtle ways that they are testing us as human beings, for lack of a better way to put it. And this was a chapter we wrote, just after lockdown started, where again, I think everyone in the world suddenly gained a newfound appreciation for the ability to just get outside, move their body, have some kind of a social distance, social interaction make, talk to people from a distance. And this was a key way that they kept their sanity, if you will, under some very stressful conditions, and otherwise they were locked down in their home. So I think we, like everyone gained a newfound appreciation for especially in Delft here, being able to get outside for a bike ride or walk into the city centre, a meandering, pedal through the polders all of them have a means to unwind. And de stress from, you know, we were still working jobs, we were still trying to make ends meet internally, but those little breaks that we have, it is possible to build them into our cities, to give people that opportunity to, to de stress and re energise and, well, it’s a form of therapy, as we said, The this, this wind bath or variety of cultures have their own versions of it. But at the end of the day, it’s about a means of improving your mental health.

Carlton Reid 51:09
This next chapter, chapter seven is the world’s shortest chapter, the world’s most obvious chapter, because it’s the accessible city.

Melissa Bruntlett 51:18
Excellent point. But I think, you know, one of the things with this chapter, there’s two parts of this, in that being mostly able bodied, most of the time, I had a brief stint recently with a broken leg that reduced my ability to move around. But we really felt compelled to speak to somebody who has experienced a Dutch city as someone with limited mobility. So we interviewed a wonderful woman named Maya [Maya van der Does-Levi], who shared her story of living with multiple multiple sclerosis, and getting around in the Netherlands. And, you know, in talking to her, there are things that we didn’t realise, including the fact that, you know, we enjoy traffic, calm streets, and we enjoy walking around on the street once in a while. And it’s a bit of, for us liberation, and not having grown up in North America where there’s no way you would remove walking in the middle of the street in the middle of the day. But she points out that that actually enables her to be more independently mobile. And that’s something we also delve into more with Dr. Bridget, for debt from New Zealand who, who really talks about this idea of when we’re thinking about people with disabilities, and how they move through the city, there’s so much focus on making sure that we have roads in order to allow them to be able to transport more freely in cars or in public transport, when in fact, that is the adverse of what a lot of these individuals want. They don’t want to be dependent on somebody to move around, they want to be independent, for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is to have ownership of your own mobility is to have a sense of freedom and joy in terms of how you get around. And so this chapter, I totally agree, it could be simple and say yes, make your cities accessible, period, end of story. But understanding why it’s so important. And you know, how cars do limit how people with various disabilities, whether that’s mobility disabilities, or sight, hearing any of these things, by reducing the ability or the possibility of conflict with motor vehicles and enabling more independent mobility, we are inherently telling these people you are not other, you are not separate from society, you are a part of it. And we want to facilitate you owning your ability to be a part of society.

Carlton Reid 53:39
And as a guidedog puppy trainer, I am absolutely anti car on that particular aspect, because so many cars are parked on sidewalks on pavements. And it’s only when you really you get a guide dog and you have to walk around that you really realise that this is so selfish, so entire door. And so blocking for anybody that doesn’t have, you know, feet to walk and an eyes to see because it’s make cities incredibly difficult to navigate. If you’ve got these big four wheel vehicles parked from the infrastructure that’s actually meant for pedestrians, which I’m guessing you don’t get that much of in the Netherlands, they kind of design that out. We do get that

Melissa Bruntlett 54:25
I you know, we have our own set of challenges. I think your historic cities have had mind boggling mind bogglingly narrow sidewalks and footpaths. And so yeah, that’s one of the things that my actually says is I don’t I never use the footpath. It’s too hard for me. There’s either assign a sandwich boards on it or they’re too narrow or they’re old and a bit crumbly. And so the road infrastructure is is how she gets around. She uses the cycletrack she uses the traffic calm streets, and not just for getting around Delft, but forgetting even further outside of the city. So, yeah, hearing her story and and hearing how motor vehicles through the rest of the chapter are really helping to not to enable these people but really hinder their mobility is is an important topic that anyone working in mobility and urban design needs to hear or read, I guess, in this case, in terms of changing their thinking.

Chris Bruntlett 55:23
And I unfortunately, I think it has become a bit of a counterpoint when you start talking about restricting car traffic, removing car parking, and that you’ve seen it, especially with the low traffic neighbourhoods. In London, the first thing people say is what about the disabled is if you are restricting the mobility of everyone with a disability that they rely solely on a private automobile to get from A to B, when the statistics that you pulled out prove actually the exact opposite, I think 60% of the people with physical disability in the UK do not have access to their own motor vehicle. But the physical disability has been used as this as an excuse to build in more car dependence, unfortunately, when the facts and figures Don’t, don’t prove that out, and it’s usually able bodied people that are using the disabled as a bit of a trope, unfortunately, to argue that cities should not limit their automobility

Carlton Reid 56:29
if we’re going to build back better. And your thesis is that what to do that you curb cars, you’re going to get a richer city. So chapter eight is the prosperous cities how we’re going to get more prosperous cities, Chris?

Chris Bruntlett 56:43
Yeah, this was a, again, a chapter that we had proposed before refer to the pandemic. But for us, it really came down to access to opportunity, I think, coming from Canada, and also, you know, spending a lot of time in the United States, we saw how codependency was really robbing people of their access to opportunity, or their society required the the expense of a private automobile, which is now 20 or $12,000 per year when you take all expenses into consideration. And that’s really inequitable and unfair burden to expect for people, especially low income, and so but that’s only because the options, the alternatives, the more economic alternatives do not exist. And so we look at the kind of public transportation system that exists here in the Netherlands, in combination with the Cycling Network, how the two really reinforce each other, support each other to provide a broader cross section of the population with access to affordable housing, to steady employment, to education, to healthcare, to all of their daily needs, without necessarily the the financial burden of their own private automobile. And so we can speak to this ourselves, okay, where, you know, not in a low income bracket, but without the expense of a car, we suddenly have more money to spend in our community on small businesses. And, and I think, yeah, yeah, exactly. And we are actually, you know, we’re in this very privileged position, actually to walk work four days per week instead of the traditional five day workweek, which is something more Dutch companies are doing, but we probably couldn’t do without the, if we were paying the monthly car payments and parking in gasoline and

Carlton Reid 58:43
Okay, Melissa, chapter nine, the resilient city,

Melissa Bruntlett 58:46
what does it mean to create a resilient city, and we interviewed Dr. Judith Yang for the herb Wang sorry for this chapter. And she really helped to change our thinking a little bit, because when we look at a resilient city, we think, Okay, this is a city that can sustain itself long term despite potential natural disturbances or unnatural or manmade disturbances. But what she argues in this chapter, and what helps to open our eyes a little bit is that there’s two ways for a city to be resilient. One is that you’ve designed it in a way that even if you have impact be that something as small as construction or something much larger, like a natural disaster, the city can easily returned back to you at status quo. But one of the things that we need to look at really when we’re talking about resiliency is can we adapt? Can we change? And can we flip that regime to be stable or resilient in a different way? So that’s the way we sort of reflect that is looking back at this OPEC oil crisis, and how here in the Netherlands, it wasn’t a matter of when that oil reserve became available. Again, they just went back to the status quo, but rather found A different way of thinking flipped the way that they were designing their cities the way that they were managing them to a different stability regime to allow for much more human centred travel. And so it presents these opportunities and really reflects on the idea that As humans, we evolve, we adapt, our cities evolve and adapt with us. And so resiliency is not about making sure that your city can stay the same, but that you can adapt in a way that leads to arguably a higher quality of life and a better city overall, for its citizens

Carlton Reid 1:00:35
Tell me more about the ageing city.

Chris Bruntlett 1:00:37
Yeah, I think, as I hinted at earlier, we’ve watched our parents and our grandparents get old in fairly car dependent places. And in some instances, they’ve really been trapped in their houses, for lack of a better way to put it completely dependent on when there, there is a period of our lives inevitably when we cannot drive safely. The American automobile says it’s on average 10 years for a US senior citizen where they outlive their ability to drive safely. And in that 10 year period, we’re left with very few options, we’re either relying on a public transportation system that that’s infrequent and unreliable, or we’re forced to rely on our children, our adult children or neighbours for transportation, or we are trapped in our homes in in our neighbourhoods or we are institutionalised in a care home. And I think there’s a lot to be said about neighbourhoods, cities, largely, you know, low car places that actually allow people to age in place comfortably without being reliant on others, external forces for their mobility. And so we tell the story of Pater, one of our neighbours here in Delft that has been born and raised his entire life on the street. He was born there. And now in his 70s, he’s retired, they’re living in his own house without a car, able to get around by foot or bicycle everywhere he needs to grocery store, the community centre, the schools, that he volunteers that to stay active in the community. And that’s all supported, again, by the the infrastructure and the policy decisions that were made many years ago to build a city that’s not car dependent, and car dominant. So when we look ahead at this baby boom generation, that’s retiring and ageing very quickly, we suddenly find ourselves with an entire generation that’s going to be tracked in the neighbourhoods that they built, the car dependent places they’ve built. And I think it’s very urgent to to start looking at that as a challenge in this kind of emergency that it is, and giving them means of mobility. And, of course, we talked about Cycling is, is one route, but it is not an option for everybody. But there’s a lot to be said for the fact that the age group of 65 and above cycles more than any other adult Group here in the Netherlands. So it’s Cycling is a means of participating in society. It’s a means of staying healthy, active, and, and part of society. And we often elsewhere in the world, perhaps think of cycling as a young, able bodied activity, but in a lot of sense, it benefits the ageing population much more and gives them an alternative drive when they can no longer drive.

Carlton Reid 1:03:39
Hmm, I will thank you ever so much for going through those 10 chapters with us. And I know people are going to be absolutely now busting a gut to want to get this when it comes out in in June. So to wrap up this show, if you wouldn’t mind, Chris, if you could tell us about all your social media, because you have got quite a few. So all your social media hats where people can actually get in touch with you. But then, but first, Melissa, if you could tell people where people are going to be able to get the book from, tell us again the exact publication date, give us the price, give us how many pages but give us give us that kind of information.

Melissa Bruntlett 1:04:19
Price? That’s a great one. I don’t know. It’s a affordable book. That’s what I know. But you can buy it directly from our publisher Island press from Ireland I believe Chris, correct me if I’m wrong.

Chris Bruntlett 1:04:34
Listeners in the UK, we actually have a pre sale promo code set up with Marston books, which are the US so the UK distributor of Ireland press. So if you go to their website And site the promo code ISCT you can get 30% off of a copy of Curbing Traffic and 30% off of our first book Building the Cycling City, which is significant savings to say the least.

Carlton Reid 1:05:06
Cool, I will actually put that in the, in the show notes if you if you send me the absolute perfect link, so I get that. And also we’re gonna put in the show notes are all your social media handles. So tell us about that, Chris.

Chris Bruntlett 1:05:17
Yes. As you hinted, we are quite prolific on social media.

Carlton Reid 1:05:23
This is the next half an hour of the show …

Chris Bruntlett 1:05:28
We have a shared account @modacitylife on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. I am doing the social media for the Dutch Cycling Embassy these days at cycling_embassy again on all four of those platforms. And likewise, Melissa is doing social media for Mobycon at Mobycon. Oh, and and, yeah, you can get your daily dose of such inspiration from all three of those accounts.

Carlton Reid 1:06:07
Thanks to Chris and Melissa Bruntlett there. And thanks to you for listening to the Spokesmen cycling podcast, show notes and more can be found on Meanwhile, get out there and ride …