Category: Blog

June 20, 2020 / / Blog

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.

Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 247: In conversation with Leo Rodgers

Saturday 20th June 2020


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Leo Rodgers

Meet inspirational cyclist Leo Rodgers of Tampa, Florida. Leo was recently profiled in Bicycling magazine, including being featured on the cover.

THANKS TO: Bicycling writer Peter Flax and photographer James Luedde.


Leo Rodgers, Instagram

Leo Rodger’s website

City Bike Tampa, Florida

Bicycling article

Ultra Romance, Instagram

Team Brooks article

Leo Rodgers. Pix by James Luedde


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 247 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Saturday, June 20 2020.

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 spokesmen. 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 show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:08
Hi there, I’m Carlton Reid and on today’s show I’m speaking with the inspirational Leo Rodgers of Florida. He told me he’s excellent at getting down really low when executing left-hand corners — that’s because there’s no crank on that side of Leo’s many bikes. He lost his leg in a motorcycle crash 13 years ago and now uses his bicycles instead of a prosthetic leg. You might have seen Leo recently on the front cover of Bicycling — there’s a great profile of him in the magazine by journalist Peter Flax who wrote: “Leo Rodgers is a tall Black man with long hair and one leg.”

I read that piece and watched videos of Leo’s amazing bike handling skills and got in touch with him.

We spoke at length yesterday and I’ve got to thank Leo for his patience as we struggled with tech issues — I was on my laptop calling Leo on his smartphone and the cloud recording program I was going to use didn’t work for Leo so I had to Google an alternative, download it and learn about on the fly. I heard a nasty echo when I spoke but thought the new program would record my words, not what I was hearing in my headphones. It wasn’t to be so much of my audio is unusable. So I’ve cut most of my live, conversational audio and replaced it with voiceovers. You can still hear Leo fine though.

I started by asking Leo about two great films that have been made about him, both are on YouTube and I’ve embedded them on There’s a film by Bicycling and also one by the gonzo bikecam film maker Lucas Brunelle. That one’s pure art, filmed over a number of months, and it’s not for the fainthearted. Take it away, Leo …

Leo Rodgers 3:28
Yeah, like he’s got a lot of footage of just me just like riding around. Can you tell me tell me wheh you’re in Miami just to kind of get some cool stuff. I just happened to run into him. He’s like, Oh, okay. This guy’s pretty cool. Yeah, we kind of hit it off man and, you know, during events and stuff like that.

I would like hit him up. And I didn’t think he was like, you know, such a fan of me. I was a more of a fan of him. Oh, now, I’m coming to Orlando. Like all right.

He actually rode to Orlando and then they wrote back like this guy’s nuts this guy’s like crazy. I didn’t ask Leo to describe all of his bikes so I guess like definitely start with a bike the very first started with was my red line and then also have my linkster that’s what kind of got me started in like track riding and stuff like that. But uh, now I have that setup with like a little cargo fork on it a by Chrus deal for it. So it’s pretty fun. Kind of like a little laundry waggon then I also got my fair share of like a track bikes and stuff. I got a Fuji Tripoli. It’s not like much backed by. I got a Cosmic stallion Neva all city. It’s kind of like my little daily kind of crusher.

I got my cross bike. My BonBon is also

pretty fun.

And then also have my tall bike.

two bikes in the one is so fun is to All City Big Blocks. Same size this stacked up. I got like some 32 knobbies on it so it’s pretty cool off road. Yeah, it was actually made on accident.

A buddy of mine, we were supposed to do a race so that that, that we can, but I’m just gonna want a little casual ride we do every Tuesday

just did a little thing and he had a little scooter. His bike was on the backside. And, you know, I have my cross bike. So we were going, you know, down the bridge and you know, we’re flying back, you know, it’s another 25 miles back home so he has a scooter so we’re gonna draft him. So I’m like, you know, I’m going to hold on to this scooter cuz I need a break.

So I start skitching on the scooter. So I started like pedalling so I can like push him to kind of make his scooter go faster because I’m like tapping out. And I guess I might have gotten too close to his frame and I like blew

all the spokes out on the non drives

just change these and this was right before Grinduro.

forget my wheel I got a buck. Are you afraid? Oh my gosh. So in a bind him another bike by an aeroplane from him. And then there was another one he had sitting there like Yo, are you gonna do all these frames that bent me make a tall bike?

Oh, you got to work like yeah, I’ll find somebody so that’s kind of how I got started so far. It’s like it always turns heads and I do enjoy riding because I can see stuff a lot more.

Carlton Reid 6:38
Leo works in City Bike of Tampa

Leo Rodgers 6:42
We’ve got a nice little local bike shop on downtown Tampa and we are

steel frames, but also kind of shop.

That’s kind of what makes us pretty cool and while we sell so many Surly’s and All City’s and stuff like that all the time.

Carlton Reid 6:59
I asked Leo about being Black in what can be a very white activity.

Leo Rodgers 7:07
It’s funny I don’t see colour

I just see your bike we’re all have one purpose in life, you know, but at the same time we all kind of want to do the same thing and as we all go out ride and have fun.

Carlton Reid 7:22
I point out that in the videos he’s demonstrating some pretty awesome bike riding skills

Leo Rodgers 7:30
Yeah, I tried to work it there’s a lot of two legged people ran out a pretty fast so the helped me go faster for sure.

Carlton Reid 7:37
So how does he adapt his bikes?

Leo Rodgers 7:40
Yeah, this pretty much just match the whole left crank arm off, shave some weight. Or if it’s like a two piece then I’ll just go to the beach and sawed off and go from there.

Carlton Reid 7:52
And this is going to seem like an incredibly stupid question. but are there any advantages to only

having one leg as a cyclist?

Leo Rodgers 8:02
yes on left turns.

I do. I will take a left turn sharp, extra sharp like, I want to like lay it down.

I will go into the left side a little harder than than the right.

Carlton Reid 8:19
I guess. I mean, you’ve obviously saved some weight there as well, which is being flippant.

Leo Rodgers 8:25
Yes, a few grammes, but you know, I’m also working for two legs.

Carlton Reid 8:29
Mm hmm. That’s true. You’re a bit more aero, I guess.

Leo Rodgers 8:35
Oh, yeah, got to get a little aerodynamic gain.

Carlton Reid 8:37
So tell me about your crash. If you’re okay. So that’s how you lost your leg. And that was when you were about 22

Leo Rodgers 8:43
Yeah, yes, sir. Just once again. It wasn’t bicycles. It was you know, my life of motorcycles then. So just you know, living living life on the razor blade is what I call it back then it just right on the edge

Carlton Reid 8:58
young and crazy.

Leo Rodgers 9:00
Crazy my young and dumb dasy, normal day it is you know you’re out there doing tricks. You know you’ve popped in a few wheelies and and when I came down for one of my wheelies I went into a tank slap, or a handshake is what they call it. And that’s when your handlebars start shaking. And you can’t do nothing about it, but just hold on. And I’m just started pulling me to the right and I hit a guardrail, and I flipped into some water.

That’s where things changed.

Carlton Reid 9:28
And you didn’t know much about it at the time.

Leo Rodgers 9:33
Like literally, like blacked out, just don’t remember nothing from what, you know, happened at the accident, and people tell me about what happened, but, you know, I don’t remember. I’m kind of glad I don’t. It’s probably a lot better for me. You know, from the stories that they told me it definitely comes back to like, okay, like starting to add up now. Okay, that that sounds about right. So it was definitely a game changer for sure.

Carlton Reid 9:57
I mean, you’re lucky to be alive. I mean, this is something that

If not just your leg this giving your life

Leo Rodgers 10:02
yeah, I was pretty much pronounced dead on the scene so

is to be saved, brought back like that is a saw a blessing for sure.

I feel like I have a purpose and a goal here on life just because you know

almost didn’t have a life.

Carlton Reid 10:22
That’s to me that that the crash happened when you’re on two wheels well kind of one wheel because you’re pulling a wheelie, but you’d think that would put you off two wheels for life then you got back on a bicycle.

Leo Rodgers 10:35
Yeah, I just went from the fast lane and just went to the bike lane.

Carlton Reid 10:39
So BMX, you’re a BMX before. So when you were a kid, basically.

Leo Rodgers 10:47
Yeah, that was like my lifestyle like that was my very first bike I ever built was a BMX bike, just like every other kid. probably has some bike, just frame sit in the closet. And that’s where it kind of

started from him as a blue GT. And, um, it only had a front brake on it. So I was like, Alright, I’m gonna ride it out.

And that’s how I learned how to do like nose manuals and stuff like that and

you know, learn how to do wheelies, but no rear brake kit. So it got pretty reckless.

Carlton Reid 11:22
And we’ll leave reckless Leo there for a minute. And we’ll go over to my co-host David for a quick commercial break.

David Bernstein 11:29
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

There’s lots of online retailers out there, but what really sets them apart? Is their unbelievable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors. And these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who 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 12:56
Thanks, David. And we’re back with Leo Rogers who

I noticed in the videos, he used his bicycle instead of crutches and instead of a wheelchair. So the bicycle I asked him is a tool of liberation.

Leo Rodgers 13:11
Yeah, like that’s, that’s my everything as we really what is the reason why I don’t wear prosthetic. No, I have crutches like in my mom’s house, my dad’s house at work. So it kind of makes it easier for me to just ride there. And then grab my crutches, spread a bunch of crutches out in the whole Bay Area. On the places I go to the most and

starts and begins as long as I can get some crutches there. I’m good.

Carlton Reid 13:37
Leo can often be seen riding from St. Petersburg to Tampa and he has been once or twice spotted on an Interstate freeway bridge, which he really shouldn’t ride on.

Leo Rodgers 13:50
It kind of started for me like riding it back and forth from St. Pete to Tampa which is 23 miles, 24 miles one way

So they will always see me on on this bridge. It’s about a good like five mile long bridge. And it just kind of started from now like, Yeah, I just seen a dude when they ran the bicycle across Gandy. Like that’s crazy. Like people would call me and like, hear these stories like, yo, was that you on the bridge like Yeah, I was going to work and somebody has called in a radio station and they will gave you a shout out like what?

Okay, and then there’s some that it was like, bumper to bumper traffic on the interstate. You can’t even you mean 19 supposed to ride your bike on the bridge on this particular breed but I thought I could you know, save myself some time catch an Uber. But no, it was just traffic Am I you know, this let me out right here like houses right. And that probably had to be one of the best rides I did on on that bridge because like to ride that particular bridge you you can get a ticket. So it was kind of cool living like that had a little

rush going. I definitely found me a nice FedEx truck to hold on to get across. But uh, I made it

it was awesome.

Carlton Reid 15:11
Peter Flax in his Bicycling article says you can’t miss Leo. He’s pretty distinctive: Black, one leg, fast. And I asked Leo, if being distinctive helps on the road.

Leo Rodgers 15:26
100% believe that helps. Because because they, you know, they normally see somebody with two legs pedalling versus one leg and a challenge. Figure out like, what is that up it? Is that somebody with one leg pedalling. Oh, wow. And you know, you just never forget that and then they may be a cyclist and they might happen to, you know, come into the same shop I work at, like, I mean, you see what I say anything? Are you not gonna rise cross the bridge?

on a bicycle like it? Yeah. As me I’m young. I’m heading to work.

Like, man, dude you’re crazy well not really, I gotta get to work, man.

So you know as soon as I give me a good little morning ride in, it does get a little overwhelming a lot of times because this is such a long ride and like, I’m burnt out like this is a rest week right here but I enjoy it as this is your free you get to see the the fishes jump and the sting-ray school just floating around.

Carlton Reid 16:30
As you’ve by now gathered, Leo is a bicycle evangelist. He spreads the good news about cycling through the community to everybody, but especially to people of colour and to people with adaptive challenges.

Leo Rodgers 16:47
Just from me doing these different little rise and they see me and stuff like that. Um, I like doing these things called the hood of my little hood stroll where this ride through, you know, this, the most predominant Black neighbourhoods and it’s it’s crazy

David Bernstein 17:00

Leo Rodgers 17:01
is this it’s really weird like in the more nicer areas is almost like you get the weird looks.

But when you’re out through a more and more predominantly Black area, it’s almost like a parade. A cheer on your own they cheer you on. And it’s just like, the round like, man, we just came to that neighbourhood. I was scared but next to you know, they were cheering us on like we were

like in the Macy’s parade for a second yo like what was that a that’s what they do, man they love seeing you like they want to see that.

So I love it man is that’s kind of like my main thing I enjoy doing

is just do my little stroll rolling all around. We were there and just hanging out man cuz it’s, it’s oddly enough, but they they they love it. They embrace it. They enjoy seeing it. It’s like you see little kids out. They see each other race up with you and rah rah ride and they pull back all

You know, it’s kind of cool.

Carlton Reid 18:01
Leo has three kids, two boys and a girl, 15, 11 and five, and who rides out of them, I asked.

Leo Rodgers 18:11
all of ’em, all of ’em ride bikes, they all have their own bikes that I’m pretty sure I gave him. Yeah.

Yeah, my oldest is 15. And he’s like my height. So like, so he was literally riding my Redline, which was, you know, my very first bike. So he’s doing wheelies and stuff like that. Okay. I like that. So, just like over a month, I’m like, wow, bro, you are my height. Like, you need to give me this bicycle by the side give you a bigger bike, as this is too small. So right here right now my little girls are riding my Redline. So it just keeps getting passed on.

Carlton Reid 18:49
Now, as we’ve heard Leo was pretty reckless in his youth on a bike. So what does he tell his kids? Does he kind of dial some of that back?

Leo Rodgers 18:58
I can’t take the the

fun side out of it because that’s usually you know, what happens when you have fun, there will be some kind of fall or something. So that’s kind of comes with the nature of

our riding like that. But I make sure we’re in a area to where it’s kind of enclosed and you got to just turn yourself loose. That’s something that I kind of stick with. Definitely group rides help out a lot with them. They kind of learn, you know, about riding with a group and learning like, you know, this vandals is lights and stuff like that. So, definitely group rise is kind of like, the biggest connection that I have with them. Because they feel like oh, you know, he’s my friends do I get the break my friends and we’re actually hanging out with adults, we’re actually hanging out, like, hanging out like the adults. So you can like see them kind of, you know, feeling like they’re grown in the sense. So, you know, they get their little their fair share of hanging out for sure and learning about rules of the road and just being you just being a normal individual.

So I think my son, he’s the youngest one that’s like in the group. He’s like five, but I had to change his gearing up so you can keep up. And I think that was the biggest mistake because now he’s like, flying past me. And I got like, oh, wait a minute. Oh, okay, we gotta go. And you can just see like everybody in the background like sprint to try to catch up to him. Because he’s moving. I’m like, I don’t know if that was a mistake.

He’s like, killing it right now. He’s gonna be a beast when he gets a few more years older.

Carlton Reid 20:32
Leo has a connection to England, actually, in that he rides for a Brooks sponsored team and Brooks is Italian Anyway, we’ll go with England.

Leo Rodgers 20:45
That’ll be a team Brooks. Yeah, Rapha team Brooks who all have our cross bikes. That is super awesome. I love my

I literally do everything on that bike. I got a little rack of groceries.

And then all kinds of stuff and it looks good. And we just do some of the the most, I guess, craziest gravel rides and like my guy, Ultra Romance. He’s, uh, he’s throwing it down for us. He’s keeping us intact and keeping us looking good and rolling, rolling nice.

Carlton Reid 21:18
The Ultra Romance mentioned back there is Ronnie Romance or Benedict Wheeler, an adventure rider with a full beard and 104,000 Instagram followers. He hooked up with Leo at the Grinduro gravel race in California’s northern Sierra mountains. In the rush to prepare for the event Leo had switched pedals. He usually rides with Look cleats, but it developed a hotspot on his foot with all his power going to just one foot and one tiny Eggbeater pedal for 200 miles of dirt and heat.

Leo Rodgers 21:56
Oh yeah, that was a quite the experience. I’m never done.

Nothing like that in my life. Um, like I said, I was a track guy. I was a velodrome stuff fixed gear stuff. And to be invited on a team that, you know, is gonna do that Dirty Kanza, which is probably the premier gravel race, like, that’s, you know, a bucket list thing, and I can’t say no to that.

But I had to ask, like,, how did I get picked? Like I’m from Florida? Like, there’s no wheels here, my man like, like, how did I even get mentioned? He’s like, you know, the people from Brooks. They put you out there. I’m like, Man, it’s like an honour. And, um, that route was like this amazing. Like,

even though it was so painful, just this horrible.

Just all kinds of emotions. I was just, like, just depleted of everything. But it was a self that I don’t regret. Like. I remember every single moment. That’s how bad it was.

Oh my god that’s how bad it was like I had like literally some tequila in my bag that I was going to save to the end of the race and that was what saved me throughout the race. Tequila and candy, I was out of that like I need something, I need a soda I need a beer, I need snacks I need something hmm and that was literally how I like got through.

Carlton Reid 23:22
For the whole of that gory story – t also includes some CBD sweets whatever they are – you’ve got to go to the the long read article about Leo on If you go searching his last name is Rodgers with D. To wrap up the call. I asked Leo where folks can find him on the internet.

Leo Rodgers 23:48
Instagram will be slimone1000. I also have like a web page.

started trying to do a

like a foundation or something to work and like start giving back. So I’m trying to start like a little Leo Rodgers foundation to work on, you know, get some funding and, you know, I want to get people on bikes and I want to get kids on bikes.

Carlton Reid 24:18
Thanks to Leoh Rodgers there, and thanks also to Peter Flax for hooking us up. This has been Episode 247 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. Thanks for tuning in, and make sure to subscribe in your favourite podcast catcher shownotes and more can be found at

This episode sure had its technical challenges, but I hope those few bits of echo I left in didn’t spoil your enjoyment. There’s more engineering needed to rescue the audio of Chris Boardman, Rachel Aldred and Superintendent Andy Cox that I’ve been promising you for a couple of episodes.

Get out and ride.

Okay, Leo, we can

Talk for three hours here and then nothing might actually happen. Because I’ve got no idea if this is even recording because I mean there’s a red button there. recordings are held in your browser until you use the Save button.

Be sure to familiarise yourself before using before an important recording. Yeah, great.

Leo, should we just go for it?

Leo Rodgers 26:23
Shoot for it.

Carlton Reid 26:24
Okay, let’s see what happens and if you

Well, that’s very kind of you and very kind of you also to join me today. So thank you.

June 7, 2020 / / Blog

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.

Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 246: “The bike world has never seen anything like this”: Jay Townley on Bike Boom 2020 vs Bike Boom 1970-4

Sunday 7th June 2020


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Jay Townley


Bicycling Booms During Lockdown—But There’s A Warning From History —

Jay Townley


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 246 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered Sunday, June the seventh 2020.

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 Jenson Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fred cast cycling podcast at I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at And now, here are the spokesmen.

Jay Townley 1:08
“These are unprecedented times.

As long as I’ve lived i’ve never seen anything like this,

As long as you live, you’ve never seen it like this. The bike industry the bike world has seen nothing like this.”

Carlton Reid 1:23
That’s bike industry veteran Jay Townley talking about bike boom 2020. I’m Carlton Reid welcoming you to another long lockdown special of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast. Jay Townley’s perspective is second to none because, for a start, he’s a data freak — still crunching numbers after 63 years in the industry — and he was also up close and personal with the market-dominating American bike company during the 1970s bike boom, the annual sales figures for which have never been bettered, not even during the mountain bike years. Jay worked for the Schwinn Bicycle Company for 24 years — he was the youngest vice president who wasn’t a member of the Schwinn family. Over the years he went on to hold many other positions and is still the go-to-guy for divining trends from bicycle-shaped spreadsheets so I was glad to be able to pick his brains about both bike booms. Many sectors of the economy have been badly affected by lockdowns, social distancing and quarantines but after like five or more years of poor bikes sales — what Jay calls a “funk of flatness” — April and May this year just exploded, with widespread reports of bikes selling out, well, like toilet paper as some media outlets would have it. Shimano’s stock price hit a record high at the end of May with bike part sales from this bellwhether brand going through the roof. It’s now a market-leading behemoth but Shimano was once a minnow. The Japanese company started its steady rise to domination in the 1970s when Kozo Shimano visited Schwinn on a speculative sales trip, hoping to sell derailleurs to an America that was only really starting to ride with these European devices. You can hear the inside skinny on that scoping sales trip on today’s show because Jay was there, front and centre.

So hi, I’ve got Jay Townley with me today. Jay has been on the show.

A number of times before so anybody who’s listened to Jay will know that we go through his long history in the bike industry for people who are new to the show. Let’s let’s go through that history. So first of all, Jay, is it terribly rude of me to ask you your age? How old are you, Jay?

Jay Townley 4:18
It’s not rude at all. I’m 76 years old.

Carlton Reid 4:22
And you are. I’m a veteran of the bike industry. So what does that make you? I mean, is there a super veteran class? Why? How long have you been working in the industry, Jay?

Jay Townley 4:33
I started in a bike shop in 1957.

went to work for Hazel Park, bicycle and skate exchange in St. Paul, Minnesota.

And worked there actually a part time full time on the east side of St. Paul.

Throughout through a couple of years of college and I got

Mary did that process and ended up going to work for Schwinn in 1966. So my relationship with that shop was over a long period of time.

And the two owners were I would consider brilliant because and I don’t need to go into the detail other than to tell you that they ended up founding The Park Tool Company.

Um, they were starting to make a limited, actually they’re making hooks to hang bicycles in 1964 65. But they they ran them together.

Building a very large building.

on the same street, we were located on white bear Avenue on the east side of St. Paul, but out toward where the new expressway was going on.

And so they built a large facility that had room in the back a very

large manufacturing area in the back where they continued the building out The Park Tool Company while they ran Hazel Park cycle centre which on the retail side became two stores. And at one point was schwinns largest dealer.

And so they they were very good at the retail business. But then as The Park Tool business grew,

they sold the retail stores to two employees, two different employees.

Carlton Reid 6:32
It’s still existing or it’s long gone?

Jay Townley 6:38
Know the buyer the retail the retail stores are gone.

The last one closed. Oh my must be over 20 years ago.

However Park Tool thrives and is owned and operated by Eric Hawkins who you may have met at.

He comes to England once a year. For the

A large gathering of one of the large one of the distributors

in the UK but their distributor obviously for Park Tool but Eric Hawkins is the son of one of the phones

Carlton Reid 7:12
that was because I want to talk to you today about the bike boom. So Hazel Park was clearly before the bike but when you’re working for them and Park Tool was was a wee bit before the bike boom too. So that was quite prescient to make a bicycle Tool Company before the bike boom hits flack for years beforehand. So they must have like been written you know, all

all boats rise up with the rising tide. So all bike companies that point kind of did good.

Jay Townley 7:45
Yes, yes, absolutely.

Carlton Reid 7:49
So tell me about the boom then. So because you when the boom actually hit you are a Schwinn executive.

Jay Townley 7:58
Well, I started

As I said in 1966

I well remember 1971 because if you go back a few years 1968 was a record year for the industry at about 7.5 million units total.

Schwinn held its first national convention of authorised Schwinn dealers in Chicago, at the Conrad Hilton Hotel and 1968, which I have vivid memories of.

But it was the first time that Schwinn had gathered all of its dealers in

in one place with one big show that lasted three or four days.

And I was at the time I was sales promotion manager. I was very much involved in the process of producing the show that at the time featured Bob Kishan who you probably don’t know is Captain


the from CBS fame but he was he was the personality that Schwinn advertised with on television for many years.

And so, the bike boom, was kind of a big surprise. We had done this 1968 the industry’s spiked at 7.4 million. Then if you look at the charts, it went down to about 7 million in 69. We were trying to figure out what was going on in 1970 was about 6.8 million.

And we were starting to get worried what was happening out in the market and then came 1971. And Schwinn was sold up by May of that year and the the industry in 1971 sold 8.8 million units.

You know, well in excess of the 68 record of 7.5 million.

And we were scrambling we honestly the industry when we weren’t sure

What was going on?


at the time, the Schwinn bicycle company was a domestic house that was a make to order house.

So we ran this big factory for the day, by the way, is considered small now but it was a big factory in the time at the time and every dealer order that came in was scheduled for production and shipped to a dealer within two weeks.

So I’m sure this is the way Raleigh operated at the time and Nottingham received dealer orders and it built bicycles to the order the dealer

loaded them up mostly in trucks, because there were very few dealers are big enough you could put them into in the rail cars. But we ran this, you know, build to order operation. So when they came in, in 1971, the big surprise

The Schwinn sales department jack Smith was the sales manager came up with a plan. He and his staff

that the then vice president marketing Ray Birch or longtime Schwinn marketing VP, Ray Birch, who was the boss of the marketing division

agreed to an allocation plan.

So in 1971, when this all hit, we were trying to figure out what was going on and we were sold out in May.

The The plan was based on algorithms of the day, and it was a the dealer sales of the previous year

were the factor that was went into the formula so that the dealer would receive that percentage share of schwinns production at capacity for the year.

The dealer didn’t have to take that

they could

refused portions of it but

every quarter jack Smith’s department sent out to the authorised dealers after Of course May. So we’re into the last half of the year but this continued on through 1974. Every quarter the dealer received their allocation

and their shipping schedule and they would adjust it if they wanted less, and in most years, they didn’t, they took everything that was available. And so we also were able to adjust the mix

which is the you know, the,

the mix between the low price of the high priced bikes. In the in the way we sorted through and ran the numbers for the allocation.

Some of this was also based on the popularity because what was selling were in our line where the 27 inch wheel, your rail you’re equipped 10 speed lightweights

are vital.

He’s our Continentals and our Superiors. And so that’s what was in demand. That’s what dealers wanted. That’s what consumers wanted. And so we would make sure jack would make sure that he did what he could to adjust. And then that all went downstream to the to the production planning people and to the purchasing department. So you can imagine this operation

that was

relatively used to the way things were going, had been surprised in 1968. That was the first year Schwinn made and sold a million bicycles.

And so you had two years of down market and then 1971 comes out of nowhere

exceeds market expectations by a good margin. We’re sold out by May. And so we’ve got this allocation system that we’re operating on. And Schwinn then moved to expand.

Carlton Reid 14:00
Today it’s a three month turnaround because at least because you’ve got to get the orders in and Asia, it’s going to take three months to get them back on the water to get them here but but at that time could Schwinn have a much shorter timeframe because you are making the bikes we we were making the bikes Carlton and we also were purchasing worldwide. So

Jay Townley 14:26
we in order to make the Varsity and the Continental that I described and the Superior which were 10 speed derailleur equipped, lightweight bicycles 27 one and a quarter inch tires and appropriate wheels we

had to buy on the world market because the domestic suppliers while they could support the middleweight bicycles that had come into vogue after World War Two. And we’re the bicycle

Bicycle industries answered to the English lightweight.

With all due respect

the chief competitors in the in the period after world war two were the 26th.

One an eighth inch American sizing, obviously, but one of the 26 inch lightweights that you were used to in England

that were primarily made by Raleigh, and were imported into the US under the Marshall Plan or the successors to it.

And so, they were coming in at very low duties to the US market. And the answer that the American industry had

when when we the war ended, the industry was making balloon tired bikes to an eighth inch

tired. They’re called balloon tyred bikes and

as a

kid that’s what I got my first bike was a Schwinn Phantom, which was one of these you know, big balloon tyre bicycles.

Carlton Reid 16:07
The paper boy bike.

Jay Townley 16:09
Thank you the paper boy bike, the black Phantom, you know the, so they were up against the English lightweight.

And the answer the industry came up with was Frank w Schwinn, literally who was a great engineer. Second generation was running the operation at the time, literally designed the middleweight the one and three quarter 1.75

compromise between the lightweight and the balloon

and he gave all the patents and designs for the middleweight

bicycle to the industry for free because he wanted to combat the the influx of English lightweights. So, I’m the middleweight was born.

So my second bike was a Schwinn speedster bought from the bike shop. I ended up working for my father, my father traded in our digital ad. He had the balloon tire bike, and he said it was time for the middleweight which I begged him to get.


over the evolution in the period from 63 to 67, probably after I arrived at Schwinn

Al Fritz, and Frank Brilando, down in the engineering department, and you’ve heard Al Fritz’s name before I’m sure you’ve done some interviews around l.

Al Fritz and Frank Brilando came up with this with the state with this thing, right.

Um, and so that became from the middleweight that became the next big thing in the market.

And that quickly led to Frank Brilando convincing Al and Frank

W Schwinn and eventually Frank leash when his son to do a line of lightweight by extrude driller equip lightweights, the varsity, the Continental 26 and 27 inch lightweights, equipped with 10 speed derailleurs.

and Frank was a former Frank’s passed away a couple of years ago. Frank was a former Olympic cyclist,

or a professional cyclist, and also a very brilliant degreed engineer.

And Brilando laid out for Al Fritz, in about 1962 63. This idea for a an American made derailleur equipped, true lightweight at 27. Hide 27 inch real high pressure with a drill here. And a lot of people didn’t know what trailers were.

They weren’t made here. You couldn’t get the hubs you needed here. You couldn’t get the gangs or the cogs you couldn’t get anything.

The base components.

But Frank because he rode on the last Olympic team, beef before World War Two, and the first Olympic team after World War Two, Frank was that good. And he when he served in the war, he served in the Pacific Theatre in the engineering Corps.

Frank was such an athlete that he made both Olympic games before and after the war. So he stuff and he was a road racer as well as a track racer. So l then went to schwinn’s purchasing division that was buying mostly domestic stuff. And in 64,65, they started to bring in large quantities of derailleurs from Huret, who is no longer in business, but a French firm, Maillard cogs and hubs, Weinnman for brakes out of Switzerland in Germany. And at the time, the Japanese were just starting to ramp up

The bike business and a fellow named Kozo Shimano showed up in, in the Schwinn purchasing waiting room.

And closer before he passed, told many stories about with his broken English trying to sell his drill user as hubs. But Schwinn was right at the point where it started to import.

First modest then very large quantities of these components required for these sophisticated lightweights and they were just at the right time, because they were bicycles that were not for 1213 year old kids. If you were big, you could write them but it was a multi frame your choices of 1921 24 to 2527 inch frame 27 inch high pressure wheeled drill your equip lightweights and as this bike boom took off,

It was adult bikes

primarily, and Schwinn through Brilando. This brilliant engineer

made a determination that we would use our design derailleur,

our design cog, our hubs, etc. They were Schwinn approved. So we didn’t just put a here a derailleur on or a simplex derailleur or a Shimano derailleur. As the bike boom ramped up, you were getting dealers in the market. We’re getting Schwinn varsity with a driller that was at the time, a Schwinn design that could have been made by hurray in France, by Shimano or by Sun tour,

with brakes that could have been made by Weinnman because again, they were going to prove design Weinman in Europe, Shimano or Dia Compe, and so on.

We were doing so much volume that what Frank did was

engineers designed the componentry and approved it and then we were able to get multiple services around the world high quality services

to make the same componentry.


to your scenario, yes, we went in the course of this bike boom from the period starting in 19. Well, prior to this, we were we were bringing in and making these varieties in 6968 69. But when the bike boom hit, Schwinn purchasing was able to branch out and use all available services on a global basis to bring in the component tree and you’re correct, then we were dealing with the

long lead time scenarios of getting this component tree from Europe, Japan, into the US market into this factory, because we were still making bicycles to order for dealers.

Carlton Reid 23:01
Now this point, I guess I want to point out for people but there’s no Specialized, there’s no Trek. There’s no Cannondale. There’s none of these brands that we now associate with with the American bike market and that it absolutely took over the world when mountain bikes came along. So Schwinn was in at this period was in such a dominant position and not a monolith, you could say.

Jay Townley 23:27
That is a correct way to describe it. We,

in the 50s, when I was working in the bike shop rainberge, had been hired by Fw Schwinn in the 50s.

from a company called Wizzer in Detroit, and Frank w brought Ray in specifically to clean ups when distribution

and what Ray did was taking something that he was aware of that was new. He developed a franchise so

Before franchising was popular, there was before McDonald’s. There was in the marketing world,

in academia, the the development of the idea of the franchise. So Reebok brought franchising to Schwinn. And when I worked for Hazel Park and after I came to work for Schwinn in Chicago,

bicycle shops that carried Schwinn product were franchise dealers.

So there were requirements you had to meet. There were you had to be of high quality you had to give service you had to stock parts. And Schwinn went through a process of winnowing out


well, it’s been written this way and again in these times I hate to use the term at the funeral parlours.

Which by the way back in the day, funeral parlours were also intended to be for sale, housing, household furniture sellers,


When I think when I came to work there, they had 15,000 dealers on the books. And they’d started a winnowing down.

And the bike boom accelerated that process. But

what we had was a core of authorised dealers. So there was a semblance in order to the process, there was service training, there was sales training. There was store design assistance, which again is a long story unto itself, but this was all evolving, just prior to this bike boom, and then during the boom years, and

this is all because Ray Birch again another brilliant guy.

I would say certifiable genius, raid, developed franchising. And then he also was the architect of the Schwinn distribution system, which evolved again, just prior to the bike boom, but was primarily a product

Have something else that we cover in another call which is the Schwinn antitrust case.

Because at the time overlapping all of this

from the period 1958 to 1968. Schwinn went through the law at the time the longest antitrust suit with the federal government on record, and ended up in 68 winning in the Supreme Court. And the end result of that was the twin was able to keep its

franchise dealers called authorised dealers at the time, but keep its franchise dealers because the whole legal dispute was over schwinns legal right to put a dealer on or take them off. And in turn Schwinn also was encouraged by the Supreme Court to integrate forward IE own its wholesale distribution.

And so that was in full process when this boom hits

So Schwinn had the beginnings of the modern distribution system we know today in the bike business, that every one of these other names you mentioned and adopted, has adopted up to this point. And that’s simply brands manufacturers owning wholesale distribution centres around the country around the market. And then a system where you have authorised dealers now, that they’re the product of what re developed as the franchise dealers. Again, there’s a long history as to how that occurred. But you’re quite correct. The the Schwinn bicycle company had all these pieces together and was the premier brand, if you will, the more than the luxury. It was the premier brand in the US bicycle market. And going in we probably had a 25% market share.

So the competition that evolved during the bike boom

is one of the key changes to the to the American bicycle business because of the who they were the competitors to Schwinn that evolved during the bike boom.

Carlton Reid 28:03
and with the competitors before, Specialized, Trek, Cannondale, who are the main people in say the late 60s, early 70s?

Jay Townley 28:25
The primary competitor domestically was Ross.

And then you had there were nine domestic manufacturers. In addition to Schwinn, there was a group that sold the mass versions of the Huffy, Murray, Ohio. There were a group including Columbia, and Ross that were selling to the bike. The bike trade as it was called the bike shops competing with Schwinn.

And then there were private label manufacturers. I don’t remember all the names, but there were there were at least nine domestic houses

Import was only at the top.

You know, it was the Peugeot the, if you will today it would have been the Pinarello. Those

those those brands that came in when the boom started

were for the aficionados for the for the few racers there were in the country, the Peugeot’s course rally.

And the import was a very small piece of the market. The primary competitors that Schwinn had were the Colombia’s the Ross’s and, quite frankly, their systems were not as sophisticated. They didn’t have the authorised dealer networks or the franchise dealers, they didn’t have the distribution.

They did not have the product development. So they didn’t have their el Fritz’s Frank Brilando’s repurchases and later john Nielsen, who developed

The parts and accessories programme for Schwinn.

So they didn’t have the talent and certainly didn’t have the product to compete with what Schwinn was, had developed up through the 1970 period. And was there ready to take on the bike boom starting in 1971 now it’s during the boom that all changed as to who those foreign competitors were.

Carlton Reid 30:28
So do you think the boom is in effect given us the industry we have today in that the Trek, Specialized, Cannondale all those those those brands, they all come up roughly post boom, I mean, but have come up because of the boom. So you’ve got Sinyard Mike Sinyard Specialized, you know, he gets in the industry at the end of the bike, boom, like 74, 75. And same for Trek. So it was the boom that changed the industry?

Jay Townley 30:58
I would agree

Mike is a good example Mike Sinyard

you know you’ve heard his story he went and figured out how he could bring in foreign componentry and had this wonderful VW bus he travelled around southern and northern California selling out of his bus camping Nola and you know and other high end componentry

Trek actually got its start here right during this period but trek got it started as a retailer

trek trek did not manufacturer till oh I think after the boom but Dick Burke was partnered with bevel hog

and one other guy, French Tom French and they started a they imported bikes lug frame lightweight bikes and started a chain of bike shops that ran from Wisconsin all the way down into southern Illinois, all the way down to Urbana.

A guy that knows the history of all this is of course john Burke because his father Dick was the the architect. But also Ray keener

worked for the retail store down in Urbana and so he knows the history but yeah trek got it started in the bike business as a bike shop owner and importer. And then that evolved to just toward the money in the financial piece

came out of the bike boom but led to very shortly thereafter the bike boom led to the the bicycle manufacturing process, and the Trek name. So you’re correct. Your your analogy, or your you’re looking at the bike boom as the incubator

for what became schwinns competitors in the bike brand standing today, along

With what came after the the mountain bike you know the evolution of the mountain bike and so on but yeah Trek, specialized their origins the seeds in the beginnings were out of the bike boom

Carlton Reid 33:13
so today Schwinn still exists you know it it’s gone through multiple owners multiple bankruptcies

no longer makes in this country apart from like one bike they’ve got now made by Detroit bikes coming up being sold through Walmart but the other companies that you were mentioning that you know don’t exist I mean, I think huffy was making basketball stuff, wasn’t it and then Ross say doesn’t exist as a mainstream brand anymore. So these new upstart companies came in, how come Schwinn couldn’t just survive

through through till now, as a as a you know, in effect a Schwinn owned company what happened to the family

What happened to the brand that that that made it fall by the wayside?

Jay Townley 34:05
Well, that’s a long story.

Carlton Reid 34:07
Sorry, it is a long story. I apologise. Can you somehow condense it without going into into the various machinations around the failures at the top of the company?

Jay Townley 34:18
Yeah, I think I can. The it starts with Frank v. Schwinn third generation was the head of the company.

For the development years his father passed in 64. Frank W. Schwinn passed away from cancer in 1964.

Frank v took over the company. Now, Frank Francis Valentine Schwinn has been sure cheated by a lot of people.

Because it was Frank v that had the insight


not only guide the company forward

But he was a he was a master at making or creating a situation where rainberge Now remember, I’m saying these guys are certifiable geniuses. And I think that’s true, I can back it up. I worked for Ray and then later work for Al Fritz, who became executive vice president of the company.

Frank v. Schwinn, not only figured out how to get rate and elder work together, but he also

took a third really dynamic, smart guy, john Nielsen, who, who had brought into the company to develop parts and accessories,

which goes with the wholesale business.

And john was a very unique personality came from Denmark from a bike manufacturing family. Without going into the background, he’s very imposing man. He was almost seven foot tall


was at a really interesting personality. But f Frank, Frank v was able to get

all three of these guys to work together plus some other geniuses he had floated around the manufacturing side.

And he kept him going in the same direction in harness,

not not fighting and stalling out the company. So when Frank had is down the road when Frank had his heart attack and had to retire,

that genius for collaboration in our corporate structure just never came back again. not to that extent. I mean, I watched Frankie work for many years, and I served on the executive committee

for long enough to know what you know how he was able to make his executives work together and how he called dissent and dealt with it and he did it with a gentle hand is a very smart man.

So it starts with the generational change and the fact that that Frank v Schwinn was very much

involved in keeping the company stable and moving in a direction taking the best ideas from these guys.


simple fact is that,

at the end of the bike boom, Schwinn went through trouve. Two very traumatic periods, it survived one and didn’t survive the other.

And during the bike boom, one of the things we did was imported about a quarter of a million bikes sold under the Schwinn approved label.

We bought those bikes from national Panasonic and from Bridgestone in Japan. But because of the parts division, we were very much aware of a guy called Tony low, or named Tony, Tony lo and his wife, his first wife.

started a company called specs, which was a Taiwanese

trading house for parts and accessories.

And john Nielsen in developing the Schwinn parts and accessories programme,

immediately found Tony and he introduced Tony Lo to Alfred’s

and this was prior to King Liu coming on the scene and Tony and King getting together. So in other words, we had connections remember, we were importing from every major brand, including capital for our Paramount lines

in the world in order to produce bicycles during the bike boom. So we had our feelers out our connections out, we were we were viable. We were a big deal, because we were a big buyer.

Schwinn overbuilt during the bike boom.

the manufacturing group, rightly so said

We need more capacity, we built a third plant in Chicago to make just frames and forks or just frames primarily. And you might recall that one of schwinns great attributes and then one of the problems that it had after the bike boom is the frame it made.

It was heavy. It was heavy because it was a unique flash welding process, the only manufacturer to use it in North America.

And it required the use of a 1008 carbon steel.

So it was 18 gauge. Now what I’m planning about probably in about here is it was heavy.

Because of the process, you couldn’t you could not make a lug frame bike out of it. I suppose you could, but it would be extremely difficult.

We knew how to make lug frame bikes because we made pyramids. You know, we made top of the top of the line bicycles for the Olympic teams and for professional athletes.

additive racers, but they were hand built. They were one offs. They were built, their custom bikes were built to order.

So we know how to do it. We just didn’t know how to mass produce it.

At the end of the bike boom. And when you look at your charts

in 1975, the market dropped from 14.1 million total units important domestic. Last year, the bike boom 74, 75, the market was 7.3 million. It sheared 50%.

And it stayed down in 76,77, 78.

We didn’t need the capacity, we were running three shifts. We had over 3000 workers in Chicago, and we had three plants.

So the mindset at the time was in Frankie fought this

He basically said you guys got to get real about this but the the drivers in the the vice presidents and the guys in the company said it’s going to come back it’s going to come back. And so when the suggestion was made, let’s get rid of the plug the third plant, let’s bring free manufacturing back into the original to plant operation, etc, etc.

It was ignored. The manufacturing guys had a lot of sway. God bless them. They were fine people. But what they were advocating was no no wait, wait, it’ll come back.

Well, it never came back.

So we we did some of the right things. One was we immediately started to

a manufacturing programme to develop lug frame lightweight bicycles to lightweights.

You might remember the Le Tour line

and that was done properly. You know, to make

Good luck frame by Frank Ryan. Those people worked on this we actually had developed robotics.

We we had developed robots to do the manufacturing of blood frame bicycles and they were superb.

I saw them up front and personal they were they were great, but didn’t come in time.

And we got pushed in the late 70s because again manufacturing kept saying no, no, no

to the to the the rest of the arguments from the rest of the executive committee to downsize and get real about the market.



came within a hair’s breadth of a chapter seven.

If you know the difference in US law between bankruptcy chapter 11 and chapter seven is liquidation.

Carlton Reid 42:52
Hmm, Chapter 11. You can be rescued and you can do stuff with it. But chapter seven, you can’t be

you can’t

Jay Townley 42:59
So this was about the pushing this this was the late 70s.

We had no choice and at the at the time the management had changed. I’m leaving a lot out because a fascinating story is the one occurred in between but

is fascinating Is it is it boiled down to

the company needed to find a way to survive. We had at that time new leadership, Frank had had a heart attack was sidelined. His son Edward, his son, his nephew, Edward R, Jr. His brother Edward son, was president of the company because that’s the way the company was organised.

The Schwinn trust legally required that the President be a male heir. So, and it was young but good.

He tried some modern stuff.

We did get to the downsizing too late.

In the process the company

went from make to order to make to stock.

So in other words we produced from the plant and shipped to warehouses. We didn’t no longer made

Product to Ship the dealers that led to a whole series of other problems that replaced the problem of the of the over expansion of manufacturing. And bottom line was we were going to come back

Carlton Reid 44:31
before we kind of get on to that just go back with a bit because you you mentioned something about that’s, that’s fascinating.

It almost is the same problem that happened to Raleigh in many respects as well. And that is and you just mentioned it there is that had to be a male heir. I mean, to me, that’s just phenomenally incredible. If you’re going to run a business, then you have the best people in to run that business. But what you’ve just said there was what

In fact, any old fool could come in. So do you think I’m not saying that anybody was a fool here but do you think that was one of the reasons Schwinn failed in that it was basically had a monarchy it didn’t have it wasn’t you get the best people in it was you had to get a Schwinn person in

Jay Townley 45:21
well it to an extent that’s correct.

I’m sure

that Richard Schwinn Edwards brother who’s still in the business,

he might or might not agree. I don’t know Edwards retired now, but

I’m not sure if they would agree. But yeah, you had a Schwinn trust. That was written by very, very good lawyers at the turn of the century.

And it was still legal

in, you know, the decade of the 70s and 80s. So

from the standpoint of

have, you know that been the Genesis? Yeah, it means like a monarchy, that each of the generations he should the successive generations has got to be pretty good in some way, shape or form. And Schwinn had been really good for three generations.

In different degrees, Frank v was not an engineer, his father Fw was,

and so on. But brilliant in different ways, but but also this ability to bring in talented people and make them work together.

Rather than, you know, the the revolving door thing. So yeah, there’s a great burden, in this case type of hierarchy. I don’t know today, obviously, I’m not aware. I don’t know today, if you could still do this kind of trust. But at the time, it was still legal. And yeah, that you probably would look at that as one data point of several things that eventually led to what we have today.

Which is a Schwinn in name only.

That’s all by its owned by Dorel. It’s a division of Pacific. It’s still a good bike, but it’s manufactured again, it’s not the same company, it’s four times removed.

The, what occurred when we were faced with the chapter seven situation because of this, you know what we were, um, we were sitting on a million square feet of manufacturing, and at the time, about 1800 employees.

And the then leader of the management side was a guy named john Barker,

who is a whole story himself. He was Chief Financial Officer, became executive vice president was brought in, in the latter part of the 70s along with Bill Austin, a name who you’ll remember

But they the two of them convinced Edward over and above the objections of his his brother in law, Peter Davis who was in the company at the time, in charge of strategic planning.

He convinced him that we had to shut down domestic immediately cut the bleeding, and we had to go offshore and import our products. We had to find people to make our bikes.

I was in the room when Barker

had a meeting with the banks.

And the big bank for decades it sat on the Schwinn board for years,

was the Northern Trust in Chicago.

And I remember vividly sitting behind john as he as he leaned across the table and explained to them what he was going to do if they didn’t hold off for six months, and that was he was going to declare chapter seven and they’d be out

All the investments they’ve made.

They backed off, they gave us six months.

Then he turned to me and he said come up with a plan to do it. So without going into the detail, I was the corporate officer who shut down Chicago and moved the product.

And at the time, you will remember the Airdyne

the exercise product, I assume you do the airdyne out of Chicago The airdyne was a loss at the margin line of $50 a unit

a loss at the margin line means that you could make more and still lose money. Hmm. We took it to Taiwan along with all our bikes not all of our bikes didn’t go to Taiwan but the bulk of them did.

We We We resourced in six months, giant built a plant dedicated to just making our fitness equipment

When we started to bring air diamonds in from giant slash Taiwan into our system,

the $50 loss at the margin line

was totally reversed and it was a $50 profit

for the house. Now remember, we sold it to a sales company. This goes back to the brilliance of that plan. We sold it to a sales company for a profit, who sold it to a dealer for a profit.


going off shore and turning our whole bike line and fitness line into breakeven to profitability, then fed a system

that was just a moneymakers. The best way to say it, it was you know, we then all of a sudden flip the switch.

And we were making money on the bikes. We were bringing in good high quality Schwinn products.

imported from a giant to our wholesale distribution system, who bought them from us on the books, who sold them to authorised dealers who bought them from the wholesale houses who we owned. So, you know, it was like triple dipping to this. This is our boom, this is like getting to this.

Carlton Reid 51:21
So, let me ask you a question. Were you making money during the boom?

Jay Townley 51:28
Yes, yes, but it wasn’t as

it wasn’t as powerful. It wasn’t as much money as we made.

After we shut down the plant, because during the boom, to run three shifts with 3000 people

and make bikes on this allocation system.

We were importing

Just in huge quantities,

there was a lot of waste in other words in the manufacturing system still is profitable. The reason I know is that in the six months I was given to shut down Chicago. Part of what I did after letting go 1800 UAW employees

is I rain maintain a crew that every morning I would meet with and they would go into the plant and they collected everything we could find. And we categorised it because we had to, we had to sell it. And what we found were shipping crates, air freight shipping crates,

full of componentry from these various people that we were buying stuff from to make bikes that have never been opened.

And so, we in in hindsight,

we were as we we made order out of this, you know, chaos

that was cleaning out this, you know, sector

Anything if you’ve ever experienced cleaning out a closet, just imagine cleaning out a million square feet of manufacturing and finding all this stuff in storage.

We were able to, to our amazement, determined that, you know, they were air freighting purchasing was doing his job. It was airfreighted and stuff we needed to make bikes. But then in turn, the production control system was broken, was not automated.

It wasn’t your MRP systems up today. It was manual work. And the stuff got lost in warehouse and so you were paying all these premium prices to get stuff in, that ended up sitting on the books. And we didn’t discover all that until we really had to shut down the operation and clean things up. So

there were great inefficiencies during the boom that restricted the quality of the of the profit. There was a lot of money made but there could have been more when we got to the system that was developed after the shutdown manufacturing

It was much more transparent. And it was easier for us to if you will manage the process. And so we made more money after them than during.

Carlton Reid 54:16
Hmm. So anybody who’s been paying attention to the dates here, will realise that it was 69, 70,71. That’s where it’s ramping up.

It was gone by 74, 75. And we’ve missed out a year there. So we’ve missed that 1973. And of course, 1973 is the year that everybody assumes created the boom, and that was the oil crisis. But of course me and you know, it wasn’t the oil crisis that created the boom. So you tell me, I know this because I’ve written a book about it. But you tell me in your words, where you think the boom came from, and then why did it disappear?

Jay Townley 55:00
Well, it came from different catalysts different

things in the economy. So the original boom started in 71. And came out of a number of factors. The industry, going back into the early 60s had really gotten together on I remember he had internet and domestic manufacturers plus a bunch of wholesalers. They were all in a group called the bicycle menu. I’m sorry, the bicycle Manufacturers Association because they were part of it.

Be a bicycle Industry Association.

And each of the groups BMA, bicycle manufacturers, bicycle wholesalers, retailers, all are contributing monies into the bicycle Institute.

As a domestic bike manufacturer, those nine manufacturers were contributing a dime a bike

and that money was being

Well spent, because during the Eisenhower years, there were several things that occurred and that was promotional bikeways and bike paths. There were at least two full time bike advocates paid by the industry, Keith King Bay, and I cannot remember what the other one was out there, we were getting headlines. And as circumstances, you know, evolve, I can’t a heart attack.

And, you know, you may not remember Dwight David Eisenhower, but, of course, he was a great hero in World War Two. He was a great hero to the American people. So when he had this heart attack, it was a big deal and he had a cardiologist, Dr. White.

And Dr. White was an avid cyclist. So now all of a sudden, you’ve got Dr. White Tony Knight, who is a golfer to get on his bike. Well guess what kind of bike he got.

I mean, he got a Schwinn bike, obviously

It was the leading bike. But meanwhile, Ike gets better. And, and the country’s applauding, and Dr. White is now pictured for months, riding his bicycle to the hospital writing it and Dr. White was of advanced years them.

So it was it was kind of an Einstein effect.

It was this


MD, who had in the eyes of the public, saved our beloved president who was by Eisenhower, he was beloved

and gave him this new lifestyle. At the same time bikeways bike paths are being promoted, that the industry is getting a lot of visibility.

And there’s a lot of interest in physical fitness and health enhancement which is part and parcel

All of that along with the demographics. A whole new generation was coming a lot. We call them baby boomers today. But this is the younger lead of the baby boom generation. And so in 71, as I describe it, you remember 68 was a blip, went up to 7.5 million. Then the market went down and 69 went down and 70, 71 was the start of the bike boom.

And the market went to almost 9 million – 8.8 – was a huge increase. And that I do believe in hindsight was driven by the market factors of health enhancement enjoyment. The bicycle was getting popular among the older Baby, I’m sorry, the not older, younger, baby boomer, you’re talking 17 18, 19 year old

and you had that driving the market

as you get into the 72

73 period Now, keep in mind that

Eisenhower, you know, eventually is is termed out term limited. And we end up with a pretty chaotic situation in the in the economy that moves into the 7273 period and the oil embargo, when the industry actually hit 15.3 million. And these are all 20 inch wheels and larger By the way, all these numbers that I’m quoting, this doesn’t include it. Kids bikes because the industry didn’t count them in those days. They only call it 20 inch wheels and larger so these numbers are all 20 inch wheel The larger the 15 point 2.8 million in 1973, Carlton, it has never been achieved. Again, by the US industry. We’ve never come close

now exactly how 2020

When it comes out, we haven’t seen numbers. But you got to look at the whole year.

Up to this point 73 has never been exceeded before.

What happened in 73 was an oil embargo and lines.

cars were lined up at gas stations, gas stations put out red flags, when they were out of gas white flags when they had gas. Many states like California, it was every other day based on your licence plate. The odd numbers were you know, one day the even numbers were another day. So you had another factor in 70 and the 72 and 73 that drove this. Keep in mind also in 7273, you had wage and price control. Something that this country’s hadn’t seen since this was under Nixon,

wage and price controls simple.

Nobody could raise prices, nobody could pay more money to labour

Prices couldn’t change all the way through retail wholesale to retail manufacturing, you just could not increase the price couldn’t lower it couldn’t increase it you had to keep it frozen

and wages were frozen.

So you also had in the mix as you get into the 72, 73 period 74

bicycles today in the US you’ll see these these news articles that say bicycles or like toilet paper. Back in the 72, 73, 74 period, it was bicycles are like gas cans.

Because people are really having a problem they were going to the gas station getting a can of gas. So the bicycle became like a gas can and that’s the way the press looked at it.

mixed in with this, these these economic issues of wage and price control.

Bicycles just became, you know, not only it was an affordability issue became more viable like they are today is for transfer.

So it started out as

a demographic shift, and a response to advertising and promotion of bicycles as good for you. And a lot of fun to bicycles being an alternate and a means an alternative to the car. And something you could do to conserve gas and use if your automobile was on a gas, you could get some rubies.

Carlton Reid 1:02:32
You’ve got all these amazing factors, many of which are still applicable today. And you’ve also got the like the environmental factors, select the Earth Day factors which were coming in at that point in time as well. So you’ve got all these amazing factors and then you have the the accelerant of the the Arab Israeli oil embargo. How on earth did the bike boom fizzle out? You had all these amazing things going for the end of the industry. What

But what happened? Yeah?

Jay Townley 1:03:03
Well, if you look at the charting again 1974 at 14.1 million 20 inch wheel and larger 1975 7.3 million,

a 50% 49.9% shearing of the market.

What economists will tell you when they look at that, and the years that succeeded is saturation.

Go that’s the that’s the first thing that that you’ll look at with something that’s this large that in the boom years, from 71 to 74. We pumped the market full

with large numbers in the market. We didn’t have the population you have today. So the per thousand penetration was pretty high.

And you got to a point where several things occurred. One is saturation.

But also the pressures of

the wage and price control, the artificial restrictions on the market, the oil embargo, the fear of war, the fear of losing the the flow of oil all disappeared.

So whatever drove it in the beginning

and drove it in the middle. In the end, all those factors changed. When we got to 1975, probably aided and abetted, or maybe driven by the fact that we simply have saturated.

We just saw only bikes per thousand that people were going to buy anymore. It took a while. And if you look at the market, from 75 forward, it is a slow build.

You know, it’s an increase, but there’s nothing like we experienced in the boom. And as I said, 73 has never been repeated by the American industry and maybe

Something in the in the quarter from April, May, June. Maybe not. Again, you gotta look at it as a whole year.

I tend to think no

2020 will not exceed

the spike in 73 and 20 inch wheels and larger. It’ll be awesome, but it just is just not gonna it’s just not good. It’s no I What I’m saying is it’s not another bike boom.

Carlton Reid 1:05:27
Jay, I definitely want to pick you up on that. But right now we’re gonna go for an ad an advert break. So take it away, David.

David Bernstein 1:05:36
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

You need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices and what really sets them apart. Because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there. But what really sets them apart? Is their unbelievable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who 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.

OK, Carlton let’s get back to the show.

Carlton Reid 1:07:02
Thanks David and we’re still here with with with Jay Townley, Jay is absolutely the man to go to to talk about the 1970s bike boom because he was absolutely there. He was one of the architects of the boom he was seen as sitting in the boardrooms with with sales projections going off, left right and centre being exceeded and then of course the bike boom, then collapse as Jay was talking before the break. And then Jay then talked about the today’s buy boom. So that’s where I want to start off Jay. So you were saying there when I rudely cut you off was you don’t think this will be anywhere near and I kind of agree with you there because we have only got well shortly coming up one quarters figures and we need at least in effect four years of the boom to get it near because the bike boom back then was a multi year thing. But where do you Where do you see the boom fitting into the industry now because

Again, it comes to pretty much of a surprise.

Jay Townley 1:08:03
Yeah, it came as a surprise, but I guess it It shouldn’t have

in retrospect, and that’s unfortunately, what a lot of looking at the numbers is, is, is looking back. I’m the,

you know, the demand for bicycles in the unfortunately the era of COVID-19

is totally different than anything we we experienced in the 70s.

And it starts with social distancing.

And the ability of folks to get from point A to point B without getting on a means of transportation that’s got a crowded environment.

So that’s part of this in the cities, whether it’s London or New York, or Minneapolis or Chicago.

You’ve got a situation where folks

are really aware that

social distance seed means you got to maintain six foot distances. And that hasn’t changed in all the discussion. And you can’t do that on a crowded bus or a crowded subway train. So what’s the alternative? And the automobile was not an alternative for a lot of reasons. So the bicycle became an alternative, particularly if walking was was not what could be used on a frequent basis. So that’s a different piece than we’ve had in the past. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad piece, but it’s a different piece. You also had a quarantines that you know, extended into 11, 12 some of them are still going 14, 15 weeks.

People in stir crazy, particularly again in the dense pop

related areas. So getting out and walking is good. But getting on a bicycle and enjoying the front of a bike, social distancing while you’re getting some exercise, being able to do that with the family certainly became very attractive.

And the other piece that goes with what you and I have seen in our markets of new bikes being just you know, sold out.

I was talking to Brad who’s one of my partners on California yesterday, and he said that the targets and Walmart’s are still

there’s no bikes in the bike sections. I’ve seen the same thing here in the Midwest. Mike frets are other partners seeing the same thing in the Chicago area market, so it’s low to high. Bradley’s working right now at a giant store and a trek store

and enjoying the dickens out of it but he said that you know, mid to low priced and kids

bikes, there’s nothing and and then you get to the other issue of the shortage which we can discuss if you’d like as a separate, separate topic, but

this doesn’t have the makings

of a sustainable bike boom because of the components, the the drivers. And when we get to the end when we get to the light at the end of the tunnel,

the good news is beginning to mount so I think it’s going to be a better market.

If you aren’t aware of it, the US House of Representatives Transportation Committee just passed out its bill

on the five year transportation bill. The Senate did its version of this

some time ago, and the League of American Bicyclists has done an excellent overview of what the bike

World got what the advocates in the bike world got in essentially on the House side

with the leadership now in the two committees involved with Earl Blumenauer, Representative Blumenauer, who has been a great bike advocate now being a committee chair,

the bike world got just about everything that wanted to ask for, including more money. That doesn’t mean it’s gonna get it. But that’s when it got in the bill.

Surprisingly, the Senate version that came out months ago

is a very well funded generous effort to the transportation community, including just about everything the bicycling world was looking for.

How that will end up we don’t know. But what I’m saying is that the members of Congress at least in these very convoluted, disruptive times, both chambers

have looked favourably upon what it’s going to provide if it can for funding for bicycling going forward and also for the features of that funding, how it’s used.

So I take that as great news in a very sad time. So that the the government is maybe arguing about a lot of other stuff, but at least there’s agreement

in our representative side in providing more money, more services, more detail on how you use those services, what you do to improve the the whole of the cycling walking world

Carlton Reid 1:13:39
none of that was to do with COVID of it none of that was this is all

No, just come about, quite separate to that.

Jay Townley 1:13:46
Correct. So, whether it was influenced or not, it could have been, but no, it came about separately. So now you back up to the influences of the COVID 19. End

Society in the market today on top of that, and I think we’ll end up with a more viable and larger market.

A electric bike certainly will play a bigger role in the US, as they have in Europe, they haven’t yet in the US, but they will. Because the word coming back, you know, as to what consumers are saying, You got a lot of a lot of older US consumers that have not ridden bikes before, or we call them late and cyclists they have ridden in years, that are getting back on bikes, and they’re finding the electric bike is a neat way to get back into the active cycling world. and not have to be in the greatest of shape. You can work your way up to it. I mean, there’s all sorts of pluses electric bikes are fun, face it. There’s fun as a regular bike to the people that that are

not used to riding or haven’t ridden in years. So I think you’ve got multiple factors.

in society, in the demographics, and now in the the advocacy and governmental support side, that will all end up with a net gain when we come out of the the current crisis

Carlton Reid 1:15:19
just let’s just step back a bit first, and that I asked you about just your two or three word description of say the previous five to 10 years. So, it was a it was a big shock to the industry. That you know, the industry is one of the few industries that actually prosper during Coronavirus crisis. But it wasn’t surprised it was April when it hit. So as far as I can tell people were not reporting fantastic sales in January February March, April it picked up and then may it went ballistic. We know

That’s when people just start selling out of everything. And as far as we can tell, it’s been a fantastic June as well. But go go before that. So how would you describe the industry in health terms in the previous five years?

Jay Townley 1:16:15
Alright, um, in the previous five years flat

Carlton Reid 1:16:20
2019 I would say depressed.

Jay Townley 1:16:22
But yeah, it’s depressed flat. The period through 2018 going back five years was flat, no growth 2019 was down.

And that’s not that’s not been talked about a lot. But imports are down 25%

in units by 18%. In dollars. The US market was down 19 to 20%.

So what hasn’t been talked about is the devastating effect of punitive tariffs on the American bike industry and


So, what we saw after March 15

going forward, and particularly as you say, April, May, was all of this response to social distancing to getting later in April going in go I’m sure I’ve made getting into June. The reaction to the quarantines or the lockdowns

all came in 70 days,

came out of a market where

in 2019

was a bad year. It was a bad year, brought about by as I said the only factor

that impacted the market in 2019. That could have brought about these severe drops were the punitive tariffs.

I don’t know if you follow the numbers but

Import and this again goes to the simple fact that in round numbers 95 to 96% of all American bicycles in this market are imported

90% of imports came from China

from the PRC

so no matter what the mechanics are of how you deal with that, look at Yeah, there was there were low numbers from Vietnam, negligible numbers from Cambodia, Thailand, and still negligible numbers from the European community.

So, we had up we had a market that was the is dependent on import.

Domestic is 5% or less, including the domestically made e bikes, or assembled, they’re not manufactured here but

assembled. So the market

Prior to the march 18, March 15 event going through the that quarter was down prior to that it was flat

with no growth.

Sad to say. So that’s the facts.

Carlton Reid 1:19:18
Not not completed, agree. I mean, it was a depressed market and it has been for a good number of years. So this has come as a complete shock, a complete bolt out of the blue, but something that is absolutely necessary for the health of the industry because it’s had a number of years. And the perception out there is that the industry has been booming for many, many years. And the reality is very, very different. So now we actually genuinely have an actual

genuine boom.

Jay Townley 1:19:50
Yeah, it’s it’s a different boom than the 70s. But it Yes, I mean, did you look at it for what it is

It’s a genuine boom. Um, one of the factors, most interestingly to me is bicycles that have not been written for years

are being taken into bike shops from they’re being dug out of garages. They’re being taken out of basements, brought down from attics, taken into bike shops and the owners are saying, Please fix these tires make this bike work, I want to write it.

So the American consumer is not just buying new bikes from any source they can give them. But they’ve got bikes and they’re taking them into bike shops and wanting them repaired. If you quickly check with shops that you know, in the United States, I think you’ll find the bulk of them are no longer taking service work because they’re extended out so far that they just have to stop for a while and catch up.

Carlton Reid 1:20:52
Yeah, come back in September.

Jay Townley 1:20:56
Well, I I’m sure I’m sure it’s extended

I don’t know if it’s September or not. But yeah, it is a long time. I mean, again, Brad, who’s one of my partners, says one of the shops he works for is doing just that. They just are refusing

to take any more work and telling people you know, call us or email us. And we’ll let you know when our service queue opens up and we’re able to take more service but right now we can’t take service work. So clearly that the impetus we know absolutely the you know that the 70s by boom was multifactorial, came out of nowhere. This one, we absolutely know what why it’s come about it’s a it’s a virus. It’s an absolutely one factor that has led to this. But because of that, if if family, I’m saying this as an episode, it’s a bad thing. But if the economy comes back, if cars get back on the road, if we survive this crisis, of course, we all want to do that.

Carlton Reid 1:22:00
But that does that not mean that the bike industry goes back to how it was in the depressed state of 2019?

Jay Townley 1:22:10
it answered your question. That’s where I come up with the no I think it’ll be a net gain in that I agree with you 100% that cyclists that are out there now and we get to the end of the light at the end of the tunnel, and that you know, that is to me the the Coronavirus is contained. There is treatment and there’s a cure. So people be can be confident in knowing that they can they can get a vaccine.


cars get back on the road, just as they have we’ve seen this occur in China. That’s going to scare some of the cyclists that have gotten out and enjoyed the low vehicular traffic are going to get scared off the road.

They’re going to be scared

for their kids

as car traffic builds up, but and karma, but some of the communities like Seattle that have already

made it clear that Yeah, we get back to a new reset. And we’ve got society back up and operating in the economy operating again. We are we are already dedicating more road space more miles to pedestrian and non vehicular to human powered transportation. This is where this is where the pop ups are coming up so the pop up cycleways are getting put in in many cities around the world not just America but around the world. And so you think that is going to be that’s a that’s a highly positive thing because some of those may stay they may become permanent. That’s Yeah, that’s by right now looking at the the cities that have said they are permanent.

net gain.

There will be cities where they exist today as pop ups the New York as an example. I can’t see them keeping all the miles they’ve opened up. But Mayor de Blasio is going to keep some of it. He may. But if he doesn’t Seattle has lost it Angeles is making

is having discussions about keeping some of it. I think what you’ll see is a net gain across the board. And it’s a net gain in use a net gain in

the embracing of the style, the lifestyle, and the buying habit and the use habit. Now, it’s not going to be what I don’t think it’s going to be what it is today.

It’s going to be some lower number, but that will be a net gain plus the fact that much to my surprise, the Congress of the United States is currently showing support

And I sat through the LAB webinar

that Karen Whittaker, their vice president Governmental Affairs ran yesterday, explaining the House bill that just came out Monday.

That’s going to the floor. Now there’s again, there’s a lot of things that could change. It’s Washington. It’s the Congress. It’s the legislative process, but it’s the most aggressive financially. And from the standpoint of cycling and walking communities, getting what they’ve asked for, it’s the most aggressive legislation she’s ever seen. And Carol’s Karen’s been around a long time. So why

it’s more money. It’s more emphasis. It’s more logical approaches to making this work at the state level. It’s correcting errors. And this with the fact that the Senate did this surprising piece of legislation

Some months ago,

I mean, everybody was astounded that follows this at what the Senate did. And then it’s very quietly SAT.

As they say, no matter what comes out of the political picture, if these two chambers keep moving in the same direction, and we end up with a net improvement in the amounts of federal monies available and how that money is spent, that adds to the net gain theory that we’re going to see a net improvement in the bike market. Now, Carlton, you and I both know that we’ve studied this, you know how flat the market spend in the last five to 10 years. In the US.

The E bike was on the verge of changing pieces of that when the tariffs yet

and they’re not off by the way, the the E bike in the US was on the exceptions list. But now we’re in the midst of all of the the ramifications of this

Supply Chain issues,

which, again, the industry faces going forward. But when that all settles in,

you’ve got the potential here for a net gain, not a boom, but a net gain. and that in turn would contribute to a projection for the future that’s more hopeful and, and from a practical standpoint, more improvement in use of the bicycle, more bicycle riding participation, then we had prior to, you know, the pandemic.

Carlton Reid 1:27:38
So just to put this into perspective, and into into percentage terms, the 1970s bike boom, which is roughly four years, so 45 million bikes were sold over that period in time it basically doubled the market,

year on year.

Were talking to you your prediction for this year.

This bike boom is perhaps I’m going to put words into your mouth here. But we’re going to see a doubling of the market maybe for two to three months, but then it’ll settle down after that. Whereas the 70s by boom, was a year on year doubling, which, which is a hugely different factor.

Jay Townley 1:28:19
Yeah, I think essentially,

with a qualification that you know, what we’ll be, I’ll need to see some more numbers. But based on what’s occurred up to this point, I will accept what you’ve said as a good summary of, you know, what I laid out at this point. So yes, the, the short term for the bike business could be a doubling.

I tend to think it’s going to be a little less than that, but it’s going to be an uptick and improvement, statistically when we get to the end of 2020

In the 2021 going forward is going to have some growth to it so that we can work our way slowly out of this

funk of flatness that the business has been in, historically over the last decade.

Carlton Reid 1:29:18
So in in my book, Bike Boom, when I interviewed you for that you talked about or I was asking you about the cycleway, the bikeway

ethos that was growing in the US at that time. And you said that, in effect, if the US had two years more of the same kind of growth, so 50 million bike sales per year, for another couple of years, then all of that incredibly impressive, you know, hundred thousand mile of bikeways through the whole us. All of that would have then come to fruition. You’d have seen a completely different United States of America. If you’d had another couple of years.

of the bike boom going forward. So can you put that into perspective for today is is there an equivalent that we need to see a certain number of weeks months number of bikeways put in to make sure that we actually consolidate the growth that we lost in the 1970s by a boom when it just you know, halved overnight?

Jay Townley 1:30:23
Yeah, I I think that

we’re we look back at it’s a it’s it’s easy to theorise about what happened in the past. But

going forward, as I say, net gain.

I think that’s more probable at this point than not.


there are more factors, including something we have not discussed.

Some very smart folks have made it very clear that while we may have ignorant

Science during the Coronavirus. We can’t afford to do that relative to the sustainability or the climate crisis.

It’s becoming more

the climate crisis is coming back as being talked about in we see it more discussion now, relative to what it will what role it will play relative to the pandemic and the end of the pandemic.

I think that’s a factor that will play into

the net gain.

In bicycle usage, I think that metric to look at Carl in the US going forward is bicycle riding participation.

Um, it’s not bikeways and bike paths or the mileage of same.

Um, I think that again, I could be wrong, but I think what we need to focus on is bicycle riding participation.

Which last according to the National sporting goods Association, who

you can argue about whether their, their, their panels or the the methodology they’re using is absolutely the right one. I like their numbers because they got 30 years of history using the same methodology. So you got good trend lines, good solid trending.

bicycle riding participation, according to the SGA. In 2019 was up marginally. It was up like one and a 1.8%.

It was up the previous year about the same.

So you’ve had writing participation creeping up in a flat period. Then we have this decline in 2019 driven by I think by tariffs going to the tariffs, but the bottom line is market was off. 20 to 25%.

And bicycle riding participation scooched up a little bit.

That game. So that’s the metric that gives me hope that all of the economic and social factors, the the factors that that are being driven by demographics

are going to move forward and create a net gain for the bike business. I would watch that metric because I think it’s also indicative of these people. The good citizens digging bikes out of basements and getting repaired right now. Because bicycle riding participation is agnostic as to where you buy it, or you get it. It’s just that you got it. You’re riding the bike is more it’s more butts on bikes.

And I think that is the number we should be looking at. And it also by the way, includes rideshare.

It doesn’t care if you own it, just rode it. So all

That’s the number and I think we’re going to see all these factors marginally increasing, not just because of the factors coming out of the Coronavirus, ie social distancing concern about writing in cheek to jowl with mass transportation.

But you’ve got a younger generation of Americans in particular, who are absolutely dedicated

to seeing this the climate crisis met and defeated

and they’re becoming a political voice as well in this country.

So, they are folks that will be able to vote with pocketbooks.

I hate to say this, but but they also if you look carefully are a large percentage of who are participating in the protests.

There’s a change there’s a change in the demographics of this country that we’ve been told to pay attention to and

Those demographics are, I believe, going to help with the net gain. And I’m sorry for this long convoluted explanation, but I think they’re going to contribute to this next gain net gain in bicycling and bicycle use human transportation use. And I think the metric we look at is but his bicycle riding participation. And in a bad year in 2019, it was up 1.8%

Which to me says, Yeah, it’s there. Now Coronavirus, all of the issues of this very sad and disruptive series of events. But I think the metric who watch at the end of 20 2020 as we get to 2021 is what’s bicycle riding participation during the year. How does it How does it look relative to the trend, the 30 year trend that you could you could use the nsca data for so.

Carlton Reid 1:35:59
We’ve been around a long time, Jay, you, you definitely longer than me. But we both probably weren’t I we definitely weren’t expecting this to happen. So we were both incredibly astounded and and gratified that it has. So to round out today’s conversation ID and to fill people in really on where you’ve got all this fascinating information from because we heard about your your shooting background and your bike shop background. But tell us to end the display show about what the company that you run today are you have been running for a number of years. So you’re I described it in in my book as a data freak. So you’re providing statistics to the industry. So tell us about that and where people can find out the information. So give us your website address.

Jay Townley 1:36:50
Okay, well, today, I am a partner in Human Powered Solutions.

and my official

working title is Resident Futurist.

But my, my, I like that, yeah, my responsibility is data and stats.

And to use that employ that to the extent I can to really have the conversation we just had to to look at what does the future look like?

Unknown Speaker 1:37:20
Our website is

Jay Townley 1:37:28
And we are at this point in the midst of working on and promoting a consumer survey, a primary consumer survey, a syndicated survey product

where we’re working with the industry to get subscribers to a multi wave survey that will go out at minimum three times in the next 12 months to survey a big enough bloc of consumers

That we’ve got a 2% accuracy, or reliability in the survey work. And what we’re trying to define are really asking consumers,

you know, have they bought a bike? How do they use it? Where do they get it? Is it used, you know all the questions of how they acquired it? And then what’s their intention going forward? And then react that in about six months?

And then react them in 12 months?

Carlton Reid 1:38:29
And you answer that that’d be fascinating at any anytime. But now it’s going to be doubly doubly fascinating because we’ve got this huge influx of new people in and it’ll be fascinating to see how many of the people that you you managed to grab who are brand new, and how many will still got in six months time that’ll be incredibly useful to know.

Jay Townley 1:38:52
Exactly. And that’s the reason we’re doing it is. These are unprecedented times.

As long as I’ve lived in ever seen anything

thing like this.

As long as you’ve lived, you’ve never seen anything like this. The bike industry, the bike world has seen nothing like this. And we as folks that like stats and data, we’re used to looking at the past. And what we’d like to do is talk to consumers about not just the immediate past, but intention for the future.

But measure that and compare it over six month timeframes through the first half of 2021. And for exactly the reasons, Carlton, that, you know, you perceive that this is this is the only way we’re going to get a real handle on a lot of the dynamics that are occurring, including the difference between, you know, the economy, in the economy and the economic influence of factors, the environmental factors, the age factors of the demographic drives in the United States, and how

planners in our business can really begin to think about what the consumer is intending to do and react to consumer intention.

Carlton Reid 1:40:11
today that has been absolutely fascinating. Thank you. This is gonna be a longer than normal normal show, but then again, we’ve discussed the 1970s we’ve discussed Coronavirus coming up to date now and and I just love that quote before were you saying you’ve never seen anything in your lifetime, like this? And that’s that’s saying something because you were right there at the epicentre of the 1970s bike. Boom. So, Jay, thank you ever so much for being on today’s show.

Jay Townley 1:40:37
You’re more than welcome.

Carlton Reid 1:40:39
Thanks to Jay Townley there and this has been another longer lockdown special of the spokesmen cycling podcast brought to you in association with Jenson USA. As always show notes and more can be found at Thank you for listening to today’s

Show. The episode I promised with Chris Boardman, Superintenddnt Andy Cox and Professor Rachel Aldred — minus Chris Boardman — will be along just as soon as I figure out a way to engineer it.

Meanwhile, get out there and ride.

May 31, 2020 / / Blog

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.

Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 245: In Conversation With Callum Skinner

Sunday 31st May 2020


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Olympian Callum Skinner


Callum’s Wikipedia entry.

Hindsight Kickstarter.

Five Rings coffee.

Podcrash podcast.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 245 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on May 31 2020.

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 Jenson 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 show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:08
Hi there I’m Carlton Reid and I’ve got an admission to make — the show I promised last time has hit a few problems. Basically, Chris Boardman’s audio went up in smoke and so I’m going to create a show around the audio that was saved from that groupchgat, and that was with Superintendent Andy Cox and Professor Rachel Aldred (in fact, Rachel was a mere doctor when we recorded the session so congrats to her for the upgrade). Meanwhile, here’s a conversation with Callum Skinner, the Olympic track cyclist who won silver in the individual sprint at the 2016 Summer Olympics and gold in the team sprint. So did you kind of do time trialling before you got on to the track what how did you get into cycling

Callum Skinner 1:59
Very fast. Now I had a pretty much immediate dislike for indurance events and I kind of immediate affinity for for sprint events. I’ve always loved speeds.

And when I was too young to have a car or motorbike licence or anything like that, it was a great way to get a kick. For anyone who’s not been on the velodrome. It’s 48 degree banking. You know, nowadays we can hit speeds up to, you know, almost 90 kilometres an hour behind the motorbike. And you get a couple of G when you go down those corners, and for a bit of an adrenaline junkie, a bit of a speed freak. That’s what really appealed to me. But my story of getting involved is quite simple. Just kind of my family moved around quite a lot when I was younger, moved to Edinburgh, went down to Meadowbank velodrome which has no demolished and just give it a go and find a wonderful kind of thriving community for people that had infectious enthusiasm. And I picked that up pretty quickly was one of the impetus behind this

Carlton Reid 3:00
Assuming one of the vertices must have been, sir Chris Hoy.

Callum Skinner 3:06
Yeah, I mean as a as a sculpt during that time, it was one of the few sports that were actually good at.

I think it was that an elephant Polo. But yeah, I have this memory of Chris Hoy Commonwealth Games with a saltire Capstone, I think it’s a chain word or something like that.

And had this kind of immediate kind of interest in the in the venue itself. It’s kind of captivating. It looks a bit like a wall, kind of wall of death in a circus, and then also kind of had that immediate understanding that this was something that that Scotland was good at. And maybe I could find success in it too.

Carlton Reid 3:42
And if if Wikipedia is correct, and if my arithmetic is correct, you were 12 when Chris Hoy got that, that very famous, well, a number of famous Olympic goals, but in

Callum Skinner 4:00
In Athens, so in 2004, so that you’d have been 12 Yeah, no, I think that’s about the time McKenna really got interested in cycling. You know, it was it was kind of a choice between that or Luckily,

it kind of got to the Edinburgh Academy level for rugby. But cycling was just something that, you know, I really enjoyed. I think, you know, there’s a few other elements that bleed into it. I was, I was asthmatic. So, while still am and splinting kind of vaguely suits me down to the groans, because you can, you know, I was notorious for forgetting my inhaler. And my mom was always telling me off and you could do your effort Flatow for about, you know, 10 seconds, maybe 20, be out of breath, gasping for air, and then you have a half an hour to the cover where you can chat to your mates and then go up and do it again. You know, whereas in Julian’s in team sports, it’s kind of a continual slog against your, against your kind of chronic illness, I guess. So that was another kind of factor that could have not to me towards it.

Carlton Reid 4:59
But you

I mean, you’re saying sprinting there but then I look at your power metres and look at your, your sporting achievement again on Wikipedia. And you’ve got kilos there. So they’re not sprint there. They’re 1000 metres. So

Callum Skinner 5:13
yeah, the the kilos event that I absolutely love because it’s it’s right at the limit of what splinters can do. Like if it was a if it was a killer and an extra half lap, you wouldn’t do we get spent preventing it.

And, you know, it’s not the limit of what insurance agents can do. You know, we kind of poke fun at them when they attempt to do a flat out effort and their power is still about a third of of anything that we can produce. And you know, they can’t get that effort out in that short period of time. So it’s a very, it’s a very interesting event. It looks quite simple on the front on the face of it, but it’s kind of open to all disciplines. And I can love it. It’s just a kind of maxo, you know, balls to the wall, full on effort and you can end up

In a whole world of pain at the end of it you know i’d say in that in that last lap it’s not unusual for athletes to end up you know vomiting or passing out or if you’re that altitude ending up an oxygen and so it was it used to be a kind of one effort hit Oh, but the UCI is recently made it too so it makes it even more challenging.

But it’s Yeah, it’s an event absolutely love and I’d love to see you back in the Olympics. One day I was also scotch scratch champion 20 metre scratch champion Sr. A while ago but that’s that’s the that’s the limited nature of mind Germans results.

Carlton Reid 6:37
Now, isn’t it a good way of thinking about like that so the kilo was like a basically endurance event for sprinters.

Callum Skinner 6:43
Yes, you definitely wouldn’t see any of the man ones we call them in the team sprint, their distance is 250 metres. So essentially, you’re kind of

indoor athletics learners kind of splinters kind of distance like they just they wouldn’t even survive to

upsets it takes a special kind of sprinter to be able to go flat out for a bit of colour here for you. Callum in that when the when it was taken out of the Olympics when the UCI basically volunteered to take it out to the Olympics, I actually went to the UCI with a big petition that I managed to get together. And the UCI at the time was saying it was the Olympics were told us that to do it. And I went to the Olympics in Lausanne as well. And they said no, no, it was the UCI who did it and basically confronted, confronted them there. So that was no idea what yeah, that was but that you know, Chris Hoy Yeah, at that time, of course, that was his signature event. And it was a thing to read. For me it was a blue rebound event for everybody and then for not to see it in the Olympics when it’s absolutely it’s track. cycling’s you know, premier event, isn’t it? So it’s a it’s such a shame. It’s no longer than the Olympics. Yeah, I think I think and Chris Hoy is

personal story it was probably the making of him like he always had that ability to be world class well being and in those other events and it was only when the killer was taken out. I guess he was forced to try and make it in the other ones and he obviously did it to great success. But,

you know, the world of sports politics is is something that I’ve kind of started to get more involved in and I’ve not found someone yet has been able to explain to me how it works. It’s a it’s a complete mystery. Yeah, okay. Well, we’ll leave that behind. We’ll go fast forward to your lovely metal. So Rio 2016. Team sprint, were you were your favourites? Your Brits, your cyclists? You’ve got to be the favourites is that you know, was that then what was happening at the time? You you just you everybody expected? Of course. You’re gonna win. No, we weren’t the favourites. I think William Hill put us at like 22 to one.

And I think the Kiwis were on

three to one or something like that. But we finished in sixth place at the World Championships a few months before. And and you know, for a British team, especially a team splint that that result is devastating. And so, you know, from the face of it, we were we were a country mile away from being, you know, even medal competitive and Olympic Games.

We expect that we kind of expect to get the Olympics and but people almost don’t care what you do, you know, at the World Championships because they know they assume because we’ve been told this is that, you know, they’re irrelevant. It’s the Olympics that that counts. I mean, I mean, to an extent, but I think I think even with our team, people started to kind of lose, lose faith in it. We were the kind of first team to medal over that bush team at the Olympic Games, and most of the athletes were pretty blunt about it saying, Well, if those guys can do it, then we certainly can.

And it was the same with the journalists.

The pre Olympic camp, you know, most of them came to the team sprint press interview, and with very few questions prepared because it just wasn’t going to be something that was of interest because they didn’t think they were meant. We were medal contenders. There was questions like, so are you looking forward to visiting real then or something like that? You know, as from our point of view, we we felt like kind of late offseason but maybe that kind of captivated us to the upper game when the time came. So that helped, then you say all of a sudden, you’re underdogs again.

I mean, I’d like to say it helps, but I don’t want to encourage people to, to lay off teams like that again. But the pressure was absolutely monumental.

You know, I was I was trying to fill this boy shoes and that was a that was a tagline I’ve been given since the ages of about 13 by the end of the first and the Scottish first than the British birth. And what’s more, I was trying to do a performance that was equal to curse but also one that would stand up

To the mantle of my two teammates, who are both any Olympic champions Jason Kenney and Philippines. And you know, although it’s a team event is quite easy to identify the weak link in the team, and it was nine times out of 10 me as a member of the member looking through the timesheet, and it gives you an update of where each team places based on when each leader finishes the effort. So it’d be like the first lap would be in first place. Philip Haynes gets us off to a world record setting pace. Jason Kenney takes over we’d be in second place or first place, Callum is going to take over his lap was the 10th quickest of the competition and overload that adds up to sixth place. And so the pressure was was huge and you talk about that that culture and that expectation of the team. You know, every single athlete the British cycling has fielded to an Olympic games since 2008. Bar one has come away with a metal of some colour and that’s that’s kind of All Blacks Manchester, United kind of territory for

For hit rate success rate, maybe even above when he just isolated two Olympic medals, so the pressure was huge.

Carlton Reid 12:08
Hmm. So let’s go on to that that all British final then you mentioned Jason Kenney there who are now racing against. Yeah. Now clearly, obviously, you know, Kenny, Jason, very, very well.

So what were you thinking on the start line? If you were thinking, yeah, had you written yourself off already? From what you just told me there, you know, you you, you obviously know the time gaps that you’re going to have. Had you do you think well, I can actually beat Jason?

Callum Skinner 12:38
Well, the good news is that a new suddenly phoned forum better than sixth place when it came to the team sprint and the Olympics because you know, we’ve we’ve set an Olympic record and and kind of got that gold medal and then the the individual splint you’re correct, followed, followed after that, and it was a British British fighter with Jace, and we actually had some fun with it.

Which sounds a bit weird at Olympic final but to be honest, I my sole and only focus was a team event and then by the time we got to the individual split and you know anything else was a bonus. But I’d actually come through the competition a lot stronger than than Jason Jason had had to take one of his eyes the best of fee because we take it to best to free once it gets to the quarters. So I kind of felt like the momentum was was was in my court. And where where it’s where it differs compared to normal competition is the spins held over three days. So we had to actually spend the night together before the Olympic final. And because we were roommates in the village

and that’s where we started to have some fun. So we treated himself to the village we treated him to the village McDonald’s and tried to play a bit of him for Yes, well, no, I had it too. So we thought it’s equal this is advantage.

And then I remember we were we were going to sleep the night before the Olympic final as a twin bedroom and we were we were next to each other

turned off the lights and went, Oh, good night Jason. And then I got myself prepared with this Death Stare looking straight out and then about, you know, 30 seconds later turned on the light again and went Sleep well.

But I mean, like we’re good mates like off the track and then when you know for me anyway, when that helmet comes on, that’s when it’s game time and you do literally anything you can to beat your opponent. Hmm. Was it easier or harder to be in a fight?

It’s always harder they sing a teammate, in my opinion, I think I think you have the benefit of the unknown when you’re releasing a fallen leader. You can you can quite easily compartmentalise what they might be good at. But when it becomes when when you’re facing a blitz, almost like too much information becomes becomes a bad thing.

So for instance, if you’re if you’re facing a foreigner you might think okay, his positions this and the team, he’s probably good at this. He’s probably good at that. And you

Try and make the same assumptions about a bit, but then you’ll start thinking of moments when they prove you wrong. And you’ll think, you know, is he is he a long sprinter? Or is he a short sprinter as he got the power as you know, as he got his head gonna fall off? Is it not? And you end up with too much information and you start questioning your strategy. And, you know, we’ve joked sometimes that like British Nationals can be harder than pretty much any other lease that we do, because it’s that issue, you know, too much information can be a bit of a hindrance in that instance. And one of the coaches say to you, how do they How do they handle, you know, an elaborately fine or what are they one of the coaches, and they just leave it to you just like, right, it’s up to you. Now, it’s, we can’t tell you anything, it’s our teammate. Well, that’s that’s the other kind of disadvantage and kind of bone of contention because they, they don’t give you anything. And they basically just kind of take you to the line and give you generic encouragement, like, come on. And in an event as tactical as the as the spin, like you kind of need a little bit more than that.

And even at the sidelines, they won’t be shouting cues. They won’t be shouting if if your opponent’s kind of exploiting you at some points, which we rely on quite heavily. And, and I guess that’s where, like, I didn’t feel it at the time, but on the flexion probably felt a little bit of a disadvantage, because, you know, Jason’s already been to two Olympic Games and picked up numerous Olympic medals.

And, you know, for the first time of my career, I was one of the first time but for one of the few occasions in my career was lacing with with new team support, basically, coaching support.

But it was an interesting dynamic, and it was a challenge I was happy to take on. I’ve not got any qualms about it. But it’s an interesting question, just to see how that all how that all pans out. I know a lot of people may be thinking that from the stands or from the TV. Mm

Carlton Reid 16:46
hmm. It’s not one of the team actually, psychologically. But otherwise, obviously, he just said the coaches are gonna walk away, aren’t they?

Callum Skinner 16:56
Yeah, and I think that’s probably the best, the best situation you know, I think

from their point of view, they have to kind of detach themselves a little bit from any kind of favourites they may have. And, you know, if they, you know, suggested or what is sometimes been called, like a disrespectful tactic, like going from the gun or trying to do a kid ology, and that ended up changing the result, then, you know, maybe it’s the, it’s for the best that they kind of keep their mouth shut and leave it to the leaders. I mean, they’ve done a lot of work up until that point. So you should be you should be well, fate Well, you know, in a good position to deal with it, but I’m not against the leader of the calibre of Jason Kenney. And they must be pretty made up anyway because they know you’re going to get guaranteed two medals here. So they’re, they’re kind of happy they’re almost who cares who wins? Yeah, I mean, their boxes ticked basically, you know, UK sport funds on medals, and they’ve, they’ve got to suffer the you know, and so they’re pretty satisfied. But you know, I’m sure I’m sure they don’t they probably have their their

suffered winners, which I which I’d love to know, but they’re far too professional at their jobs to say.

Carlton Reid 18:08
So you’ve got a gold.

You’ve got to feel about what’s what’s that? Tell the layman what it’s like, the lay person? what’s the what’s it like to at the time when when I met and now what’s it like now having that metal but did you die now and for the rest of your life? what’s the what’s, how does it change your life?

Callum Skinner 18:28
Now at the beginning, it’s it’s totally surreal and it’s almost like a mindset that I don’t know, I really struggled to describe and one that I don’t think I’ll ever kind of find again.

I think, you know, and without being insensitive, I think it’s probably a little bit like kind of having a man an episode of mania, an episode of kind of that manic phase where you feel invincible.

You know, any issue that gets chucked you away, you kind of shrug it off and go

I don’t care about Olympic champion because it’s been your sole like purpose for the last 10 years you know everything you’ve been doing from like diet to sleep to sacrificing social life like every part of your life has been consumed by this one project and you’ve got it

and what’s more of the way we did it, you know, to be underdogs, to beat the odds on favourites the key ways to do it with my best mates dealing with a pressure like you really feel untouchable.

And and that’s quite a nice feeling for a little while and and then I guess it kind of starts to disappear slowly you know, you come home and you realise you’ve still got bills to pay Olympic medals don’t pay them

when not directly anyway. And

and you realise that you know on the whole not not a great deal like fundamentally changes you know people listen to your opinion more people are a little bit more interested in can Highland use for corporate

events and sponsorships and stuff like that. But the fundamentals stay the same. And I think there’s a little bit I think a lot of Olympians face this where there’s a little bit of a kind of Saviour syndrome when it comes to an Olympic medal. It’s kind of like whatever issues that I’ve got going on in my life, it will be solved when I have that Olympic gold medal or Olympic medal. And that’s, that’s just not reality.

So, you know, so then you start to sink a little bit and, and for me, it ended up in a bit of a,

you know, in a clinical sense ended up being kind of depression with with anxiety as well, which kind of went on treated for a little while and then kind of ended up in my retirement. Now, I don’t want to kind of

dampen the sheen on that on that goal that still is, you know, as bright to me as it ever has been.

But I think I think there needs to be a little bit more preparation for success as well as failure. I think as athletes. We’re very

Preparing for possible failures but not so much. prepare them for success. Maybe that’s an ego thing. Maybe that’s a superstitious thing.

But yeah, absolutely love those kind of few weeks afterwards, you’re just partying constantly enjoying the experience feeling invincible, but it doesn’t last forever. Can the issues you had? Do you have had them any way? Or was it potentially something about cycling, potentially something about British cycling, potentially something about sport that maybe brought that out?

I think it’s I think it’s a mixture of all kind of theory and in a way, I think, you know, say for instance, if I go on and just want a silver

you know, I probably would have carried on and that Olympic distraction would take to win an Olympic gold that that drive would still be there, because that was my ultimate goal. But I think what that huge distraction did was massive.

A lot of the other things that were kind of unresolved in my life, I guess. And, you know, British cycling made a little bit more difficult than they could have when it was kind of trying to seek help just from one individual them, you know, still think really highly of the, of the system and the team. But it’s the way I was treated by by that one individual wasn’t wasn’t late. And yeah, and and led to some pretty substandard situations, I guess.

But no, I’d say it’s almost a bit like a kind of mourning process. I guess you have this 10 year focus, and in a way that that leaves you and that’s been the means in which you can sideline everything else that’s going on because you’re focused on this one. This one purpose, this one goal, winning Olympic gold, and then when you lose that you almost feel a little bit empty, I guess.

You kind of think well, what next go deal

And another one and what does that mean?

You know what? It’s difficult to come up with, with a kind of follow up purpose when you’ve been so focused on having all your eggs in one basket, I guess is what I’m trying to say. But thankfully, you kind of found some really amazing support and started on the road to recovery.

Carlton Reid 23:21
Do you think I mean this, the preconception here, but you can tell us if it’s true or not. The preconception is that cycling in mental health terms is normally ahead of the game. So you know, we obviously had the, you know, the aggregation of marginal gains on the performance side, but then you had, you know, psychologists,

one in particular, working with the team, and that that cemented in the public’s mind that, you know, cycling’s way of treating mental health and how to perform and how to

get over, you know, mental blocks and stuff is pretty good. Do you think so?

Callum Skinner 24:00
Cycling is still ahead of the curve always that is that, like, preconceptions not actually true. I think I presume the guy you’re referring to is Dr. Steve Peters. And when he was in, yeah, when when he was in the system, cycling was by far and away, like ahead of the curve. And, you know, he was the guy who kind of helped me

on my way to the cover the, you know, a lot, I have a great deal of admiration for them, and a lot of gratitude for the for the work that he’s done and my family too. But they were ahead of the curve in the sense that Steve wasn’t just a sports psychologist. In terms of sports, psychology, British cycling, and a lot of other systems are still bang on the money, there’s still going to be there to make sure that athletes can perform as best they can know where that lacks a little bit. And where Steve used to pick up the slack was if you had any other kind of mental issues, mental health issues or lifestyle issues or anything like

That, because I find myself a little bit kind of trapped when I was initially going through my diagnosis and treatment. And I found myself kind of trapped between sports psychology and general psychology, sports psychology was was helpful in terms of a few strategies to help me perform better but weren’t very good on the lifestyle fun. And then when I went for a general psychology, it was

it was kind of helpful from a lifestyle point of view, but then actually fully understands what the life of an athlete actually is. And when you break it down, it’s it can be quite unusual to compare to what a lot of people tend to experience. So one of the suggestions they make would be like, Oh, well, why can’t you just take, you know, leave for a couple months on sick? And I was like, Well, you know, we’re not employees. You know, I’d lose my place in the team. And what’s more, when I did when I would come back, I’d be, you know, maybe six months ahead of my team, behind my teammates. So the practicality

Have that was really tricky and that’s that’s why I ended up landing on Steve as someone who could help me because he understood how my mind works from a sports psychology point of view. And that was a really well trained, and but it was a total mess when I tried to apply that same psychology to lifestyle issues that were going on alongside and that’s where you bridge the gap to use that skill set of being a forensic psycho psychiatrist.

As a general psychiatrist, you know, he’s also been like a doctor and a whole bunch of other stuff as well, but he’s one of the most educated men I’ve ever met in my life but he was amazing at bridging the gap he understood the unique challenges that that athletes face. And also he had the perfect toolkit in which to help me get better which had been established in sport from from years before.

Carlton Reid 26:50
So another preconception that that people have got about cycling I know you are involved in in this in some way and that’s that’s that’s doping and anti doping.

So you’re involved in the anti doping side, I had to correct myself maybe five.

So you can go to the anti doping side. But the preconception from from people is that Cycling is a sport intimately for very well known reasons intimately connected with,

with doping. So do you think we’ll ever get the mainstream world to believe that Cycling is a clean sport?

Callum Skinner 27:31
I tell you, when when I first began as a cyclist, you know, especially given the history of cycling, you know, it was really steadfast and saying, like, you know, that’s, that’s not going to be me. And, you know, whatever I’m going to do, I’m going to do it by the book. And basically, if I can do anything to try and improve cycling lactation, then then that’s a good day.

But guess where it starts to get a little bit better

heartening as sometimes, if you’re on the British cycling team, especially with some of the recent stories that have come out, you can start to become almost a little bit guilty by association. So we’ve seen the controversies that have come along from, you know, Chris Froome Lizzie Armstead, no Dana and Dr. Richard Freeman, one of the explorers have gotten which one off the top of my head and and then you know, all of a sudden I’m sitting down watching

Have I got news for you and they make a they make a jibe about how all all the British cyclists are doping and, and stuff like that makes me quite upset to be honest. I think, you know, I pride myself on on my integrity and and wanting to do better by the sport as much as I can. But I wouldn’t see where we’re anywhere near kind of a new either of cycling from a public perception point of view. I think there’s a lot of things that have been done really well. But the main reason why I decided to get into the anti doping

Kind of campaigner world was the, my medical records were, were hacked by a Russian state sponsored hacking group called fancy bears, after the 2016 Olympic Games and the the published two TVs that I had, which were both for asthma medication. And, you know, my response was to publish my NHS medical records from when I was younger, showing that both these medications have been described then as a legitimate form of treatment by by an organisation that has no interest at all in, in performance enhancement.

But that’s kind of that was the catalyst I guess, you know, I was getting a little bit fed up of people always noting cyclists or people doting, the anti doping system, and whether that’s letting down clean athletes like myself by leaking information

or by the anti doping authorities failing to go after

orphan drug treats. It was a whole mixture of things. But you know, I just feel like it’s something I always the sport, it’s something that needs to be better. And if there’s a kid that can come through, after me who isn’t guilty by association or isn’t tarred with the same brush, then we’re going to be in a much better place.

Carlton Reid 30:16
Hmm. That you’re retired. Now, which which you’ve you’ve touched on it, you’ve got your own podcast. Yes. So your own microphone set up there, which is great. So you’ve got pod crash, which is you, you and Phil, your your former teammates.

You bring on guests and you talk to them. And then I noticed one of your recent guests was

with somebody who’s doing a PhD on how athletes cope with retirement. So how are you coping? And I’m not talking about COVID-19 here and you know, how you’re coping

with with what we’re all going through, but how you just coping with with retirement in general ignored.


Callum Skinner 31:02
Well, it’s good. You added in that caveat, because since COVID-19, everything’s dropped off a cliff. But

what I will say is, it’s been really exciting, I’d say. I’d say British cycling when I was younger did an excellent job of finding a really driven, motivated kids who just had too much on. And one of the first things he did when they brought me down to Manchester was get me in nailed in on that single focus, which is winning Olympic gold. But since the time and what I’ve managed to do is kind of broaden that out a bit more and kind of start saying yes to opportunities whenever the allies and it’s led. This led to some absolutely amazing experiences, like you know, I’ve delivered a speech at the White House on anti doping.

You know, I’ve been part of a nationwide campaign for sports direct in terms of managing it from behind the scenes.

You know, doing I’ve got two new upstarts online

Go one’s called Five Rings coffee and one’s called Hindsight vision. And so, you know, I’m basically kind of just casting that net wage from being, you know, an entrepreneur to communications to marketing to anything and I find it so gratifying to,

to have that that variety, you know, the life of a sprinter is fairly,

you know, very, it’s really quite simple. You’re kind of based in Manchester a lot of the year you maybe have, you know, five, six releases a year, something like that, and and it can seem quite monotonous. So to bring back that variety and bring back that kind of teenage, scattered but driven approach is really interesting. And I guess the next step for me is to try and narrow that down and find that find that next Olympics, I guess, but it’s, it’s been an incredibly exciting and gratifying time, especially when you find an employer or a contractor who who sees the value that you can bring to that organisation through your athletic experience.

So you mentioned next Olympics there, but that was like an Olympics kind of goal. I’m assuming that you’re talking about Yeah.

Carlton Reid 33:06
Yeah, the next Olympics genuinely an excellent big and this is this can now segue back into COVID-19

is cancelled in effects or delayed by a year. So people like Phil, other I’m sure you’re you’re in touch with other

athletes not just even cycling athletes, their their life is turned upside down now because that their goal of going to Tokyo is now well pretty much evaporated. So how do you think people that you know, how do you think they’re coping?

Callum Skinner 33:44
I think it’s I think it’s varied across the spectrum. And I really feel for for all the athletes out there, because, you know, we’re starting to see quite a few concerns being raised from a whole range of spectrums, you know, we’re looking

It can have physical health because these guys are still pushing themselves as hard and training but don’t have any kind of physiotherapy or medical support and mental health. Because you know, most these guys are used to being part of a team and they’ve lost that, that data in the summer, which was going to be the highlight of their career. So it’s, it’s a really challenging time for a lot of these athletes. And then we still have the uncertainty that the organising committee have said that the Olympics won’t be postponed again, which is basically codeword for, you know, if we do have to, if we do have to stop it, because of COVID-19, it’s likely to be cancelled. And so it’s, it’s a tough time. And, you know, I’m not saying that, you know, pro athletes because I appreciate that. A lot of people are suffering from the COVID-19 situation, you know, far worse than than they ever could be. But what I am saying is just to appreciate, you know, the level of stress a lot of these athletes have under and extending an event like the Olympics by a year.

You know, maybe

might seem like something that most athletes can take on the chin, but it’s especially for the more niche disciplines the more niche sports it’s, it’s going to be a big struggle to keep on pushing. Because as we were talking about before you kind of you prepare for an event and and and if you’re not literally on a four year cycle in advance think it’s goals eat Yeah. Yeah and I think it’s something that maybe there’s a little bit of misunderstanding with the public because I remember when I was getting ready for real, you know, maybe a few months out or something like that people will have said, you know, oh, you must be training really hard No, then because the Olympics is just around the corner. And, you know, politely I’m kind of saying no, this has been like a 10 year project. This has been you know, 10 years of like blood sweat and tears for what’s essentially going to end up being a 44 seconds on the track 44 second effort on the track.

So, you know, the the level of dedication and focus doesn’t, you know, doesn’t ebb and flow

As much as people think just because the Olympics is coming along it’s for a lot of people that can be a

life a life goal.

Carlton Reid 36:09
Talk about other life goals or other life skills.

How big a part does cycling play in your life? So I’m not talking about going faster. ran around in a circle I’m talking about do you use cycling for everyday transport?

Callum Skinner 36:26
Yeah, no, of course I do. And I think that’s been one of the real positive elements of of my recovery, I think, you know, obviously the Olympics I was put up you know, in love with the sport of cycling and before that as well, and then it kind of started to fall over over cycling. And luckily kind of through my kind of rehab of a phone that kind of childhood love again, and and you know, I’ve got a really kind of beat up old pop bike, I call it which I just go and pop it in the neighbourhood on. I’ve started crashing a bit more, which is unfortunate. And, you know, I’d say

In the last kind of 10 years I’ve had three crashes but in the last nine months I’ve had two of those the so I think that’s maybe just a symptom of the time and you start to over anticipate you know how good you were.

Carlton Reid 37:13
But no I still I still love it a bit of a giveaway there you like coming back from the pub and crashing when are you? No no, no, no, no.

Callum Skinner 37:23
No when I’ve crashed have been fooled like that up and expecting to do a couple of hours on the road. All right, okay. Yeah, there’s been no there’s been no drinking and cycling on my watch.

Carlton Reid 37:34
As a good anti dope should be if you should just like your body should be a temple, shouldn’t it?

Callum Skinner 37:39
Yeah, and I love I love the freedom of it. And that’s something I found again, you know, it’s you know, beforehand, British cycling can measure you know, 20 different metrics that will measure specific things 1000 times a second. So there’s no hiding at all. But you know, quite often I find myself going out without a psycho computer without any kind of good idea about how

longer want to be in a boat for what direction or want to go in? It’s just freedom. And that’s that’s that’s to me is kind of what Cycling is all about. It’s about getting out there and exploring and having that headspace and I’m just so fortunate that I found it again.

Carlton Reid 38:16
And you mentioned hindsight, a few minutes ago and I actually got an email about this

this morning, so I’m clearly on your mailing list.

So So tell us what hindsight is and how you you got in touch with with physicist Alex MacDonald.

Callum Skinner 38:36
Yeah, so me and Alex were were friends at school, and then we we lost touch and then we kind of found our paths crossing again. You know, he came up with this concept of, which I think is a fantastic idea, which is a pair of sunglasses which have semi transparent angled lenses at the sides. And that basically allows you to extend your periphery to what’s going on. Hi


and if you really focus you can leave stuff like number plates of people that are coming up behind you or more importantly, if the driver is on their phone, or whether you can make that all important eye contact to make sure that they’ve seen you. And as a as a cyclist that’s had the odd tussle with traffic in the past. It just seems like this was an instance where information was going to be power. And so I’m more than happy to, to kind of lend my name to and be part of the project is going to be really exciting and I hope it makes a big change to a lot of cyclists out there. Whether you’re commuting, competitive, or hobbyist, you know, whatever I think I think having that extra awareness is going to be key and the best bit is it doesn’t it doesn’t look like a safety feature. You know, a lot of cyclists are quite can be quite snobby about high vis vests and putting mirrors on the handlebars. And what we’ve got is a really simple product which, which hopefully makes you safe out in the woods

Carlton Reid 39:57
and it’s quite an analogue product in that you

There are products out there, there’s an Israeli pair of sunglasses with basically a camera in. And that relates to, like, you know, a head up display. And when I when this person is came through I’m looking for where’s the where’s the batteries where I can’t see the camera where it’s like, hang on, no, it’s it’s genuinely

in in integral to the product it’s not no camera involved here it’s literally smoke and mirrors in that it’s a smoke with a kind of a

Callum Skinner 40:30
sort of mirrors and it’s just it’s just the surface is reflective. Yes, slightly slightly reflective so it doesn’t impede your forward vision but um, you know, I just see like, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best and

you know, there’ll be a lot of cyclists or athletes or anyone out there who, who love batteries and faff, and all that kind of stuff. So we think we’ve kind of delivered what’s actually a better product and that performs. You know, there was fun

Far more simply, and in a way kind of analogue is is a pretty beautiful solution for this problem. Hmm. And that launches so in effect when I got the email today, so it’s basically launching on Kickstarter now. Yeah, so we’ve been quite fortunate with some capital investment from various different bodies. And now we’re looking to take it to the next level with Kickstarter. So if you go to our website, which is hindsight dot store, and we’ll also an Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, you’ll find a link to the Kickstarter page from there and we’d really appreciate appreciate your listening support.

Carlton Reid 41:35
At How about your future? So you mentioned a coffee brand there as well. What what’s Callum Skinner doing now? What are you actually physically doing to to pay for food?

Callum Skinner 41:51
And I think you know, everyone would love to get to know the answer to this, but I’m kind of just embracing the chaos having been so focused on one project for a long time.

And I’m quite fortunate to be doing some work for Morgan Stanley at the moment, as well as having some ongoing projects with sports direct from a marketing capacity. I’ve done some stuff with science and sport as well. And that’s the kind of day to day stuff that that pays the bills. But, you know, I’m really enjoying that challenge of being kind of behind the camera, I guess.

Having been on the other side, I really feel like I can get the best out of athletes for kind of various campaigns and all that kind of thing. So I’ve been really enjoying it. And thankfully, the money’s not dried up yet so should be fine on food for the near future.

Carlton Reid 42:39
Thanks to Callum Skinner there. Links to his social media and to his sunglasses and coffee brands can be found on the show notes at the hyphen I’m hoping to bring you the next show — minus Chris Boardman — within the next few days, Meanwhile, get out there .

and ride.

May 11, 2020 / / Blog

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.

Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 244: Cycling Is Left Wing—You’ll Never See Donald Trump On a Bicycle

Monday 11th May 2020


HOST: Carlton Reid

Jack Thurston, author of “Lost Lanes” series of cycle touring books and owner of The Bike Show podcast.

TOPIC: All about Jack, including his background and his views on whether cycling is a left wing thing.


1970s bike boom article on

“Wild Swimming” and other books from Wild Things Publishing.

Framebuilder Richard Hallett.

(Cycling is left wing? Read right-winger P.J. O’Rourke’s famous polemic on the subject.

MACHINE TRANSCRIPT (there will be typos):

Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 243 [WRONG! it’s 244] of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This episode was engineered on Monday 11th of May 2020. 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

David Bernstein: Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fred cast cycling podcast at www.Fred I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at And now, here are the spokesmen.

Hi there. I’m Carlton Reid and this is another long show. Now, I’m okay with the lockdown extended episodes and I hope you are too. Today’s show is a chat with podcaster Jack Thurston, author of the Lost lanes series of books. Now until doing the background research for this show, I hadn’t realised Jack has a political background and you can hear us discussing/arguing/discussing/discussing whether cycling is a left wing thing or not.

So I have got Jack Thurston and with me today, so this is like an inside baseball kind of show so we’re both podcasters jack is hi jack. How long have you been doing the bike show?

Jack Thurston

Jack Thurston 1:59
Well, the bike show started in 2004, as a radio show on resonance FM in London, and then it lit, I got an email from a listener in 2005 saying, Can you make your radio programme into a podcast? And I kind of look, I didn’t know what podcast was. And so I looked at looked it up, and it looked incredibly geeky, and I thought, Oh, well, this is this this sound but this sounds good. This means that people can listen, you know, even if they live more than five kilometres from our radio antenna, which is where, you know where we were in London. I thought this is great. And I instead of speaking to a tiny corner of southeast London, I could speak to the world. So yeah, 2005 I think was was May 2005, which is kind of around about the birth of podcasting.

Carlton Reid 2:49
So it was a radio show in London. The Resonance FM is what

Jack Thurston 2:59
ResonanceFM is officially a community FM station, which is is this kind of, sort of so amateur stations have access to this quite low powered FM signal that they can use. But resonance is kind of I think it’s a cut above your typical community radio station. It describes itself as an art radio station or a radio art station. And it’s it’s got a lot of things that you wouldn’t hear anywhere else. And strange stuff like 12 hours, rock climbing up some rocky face in the mountains that just recorded everything and just played it out as the guy climbed up the mountain, or unusual music, interesting cultural discussions, sound art, all kinds of stuff. It’s really good. It’s really good. And I think they thought that there was an interesting interconnection between cycling and bicycles and creativity and ingenuity and The arts and I kind of made a pitch and and there it was. Yeah. So I had a half an hour a week on that. But when I moved down to Wales in 2013, it was very difficult to just keep supplying them because I didn’t have access to the studio. So the podcasts dwindled, somewhat as my listeners will be very much aware. I imagine there are quite a few people listening to your podcast who also listen to mine. So but for those that don’t, it’s not it’s become a little less regular. Over the years since since leaving London really just because you haven’t got a radio station cracking the whip saying, you know, 630 Yeah, there you are in the studio, you got to do something. It’s like, oh, should I do a podcast this week? Oh, no, I’ve got a, you know, weed the garden or mine, the kids or writer, travel guidebook or whatever other things that you have to do in life, other than podcasts.

Carlton Reid 4:55
I did go to your studio, because I was on your show a number of years ago. I think it was Jonathan Stevenson was on the show and we were talking about was it has been a bike boom has not been a bike, you know now that’s a very pertinent question because yes there is even though at the time I was saying actually No there isn’t john and this is the argument of my book, but now we do have a bike boom so all of that cultural significance, art the all of these things that were coming into twined in your show then and now coming in just a blooming now jack is there

Jack Thurston 5:30
is there data on that, Carlton? I’m presume you’re talking about Coronavirus, locked down bike boom. So very quite recent, really because we’re only what are we six eight weeks into Coronavirus era. And is there data on this kind of stuff because the data you and I tend to look at is sort of travel surveys, annual cap traffic counts and things like that. But well, what are your indicators that there is a bike boom

Carlton Reid 5:57
there are traffic jams. counters that are picking up, a rise like 200% rise in various boroughs of London also there’s those kind of stuff but where I’m getting most of my and it’s anecdotal. But where I’m getting most of my stuff from is trade only websites that bike shops plug into. And they are saying almost identical things that bike shops in the 1970s American bike boom were saying which was we can’t get bikes for love no money. People are travelling from all over the country because we’ve got a bike and virtually all the bike shops that are open, have have had the last two weeks I’ve been their best ever trading in in, you know, 30, 40 years of being in business is what I’m hearing. Not all bike shops are Oh, that’s fascinating.

Yeah, and it’s exactly the same in the US. You know us are exactly the same. So when I did a story on Forbes of the day about the 1970s bike boom, that’s gaining traction in the US like you wouldn’t believe. Because people didn’t realise a lot of people didn’t realise like millennials didn’t realise that we’ve been here before. There was, in fact, a much, much bigger boom, than the mountain bike boom, for instance, was happening in the 1970s. And when you go and look at the 1970s anecdotes from bike shops, talking about how they can’t get stock, it’s exactly the same now, but that bike boom took four years. This one’s taken two weeks, it really has ripped through the bike industry.

Jack Thurston 7:38
So my question for you is what because what I found very interesting from your description of the American bike boom in the 1970s, in your book, is that it was basically a leisure oriented bike boom. It wasn’t anything to do with the oil crisis. It came before the old price it was it was to do with manufacturing. Have 10 speed, you know, racing bikes and a kind of certain amount of fashion and baby boomers and that kind of kind of conjunction of phenomena, but and with everyone working from home or shut out shut out of their workplaces apart from, you know, a handful of key workers, or not a handful, but you know, a relatively small part of the population. Is this current bike boom.

leisure based as well.

Carlton Reid 8:27
Cos it’s literally two weeks, we don’t know. But

Jack Thurston 8:30
yeah, I mean it people are buying bikes because they’re cooped up in their houses. The government has said you can go for a walk around or a cycle. There’s no traffic on the roads. I mean, I’ve certainly noticed it in Africa or anywhere I live which the small town in the UK in Wales, in not far from the English border, which you know, has got a good sort of road club and cycling community but nobody really rides bikes here. You know, you wave and say hi to people, if you see someone else on a bike, here. Which is a remarkable coming from London in 2013. But I definitely have noticed more families out people, you know, couples out not wearing helmets, you know, your typical sort of people who are just like oh, Cycling is a nice way just to poke around the hedgerows and get a bit of exercise and I can do it safely. Because there’s no traffic.

Carlton Reid 9:19
Exactly. That’s that’s absolutely what’s happening around the country certainly in urban areas that mean I I live in a, like a country lane, but in a big city. And it’s just it’s just family after family after family coming past, some of them clearly kidneys, and you know that the whole family’s probably been bursting to get out. But then there are lots of families who like I bet this is the first time they’ve been out as a family on a bike on a public road. Pretty much ever. Yeah. And you’re right so it’s an awful lot of it is is recreational, some of that will rub off to transport Cycling eventually. But anyway, I’m asking the questions, jack. This is very naughty of you. Yeah, I was wondering, I was wondering how long it would take before you start asking me questions. But let’s go back. Let’s get back to the bike boom later. Let’s go into Abergavenny and let’s go into 2013 that life change. So why did you move in 2013? Who did you move with? And why Abergavenny?

Jack Thurston 10:29
Well, I will. The answer to that is is basically my wife.

She is original her family’s originally from here. She her business is gardens, plants, gardening, she’s garden designer and landscape designer. And we were living in a small flat in central London with no garden, and she had an opportunity to look after the garden that had belonged to her grandmother. Which is really nice. And we were expecting a baby. And we just thought, Well I just thought I’m totally up for this she wants to move because the garden and you know being in a more so natural setting, and all her family connections down here and I thought you know what? time just is passing too quickly. In London. I’ve been lived in London for Well, all my life really I had a couple of years away in California when I did my master’s degree and then I was away for undergraduate. Basically, I was a Londoner, and years, we’re just going past I don’t know, as you get older, you feel like the years just just whizzed by, and you don’t remember exactly what there’s difference between what was happening in 2000 to 2007 2009. They just kind of repeated themselves almost. And so I was ready for change. And I just thought, Yeah, let’s do it. And it was really it was really exciting. And I mean, it’s great for cycling down here. The town sort of promotes itself as the Welsh capital of cycling, which is Maybe a little bit optimistic. But you know we have got there is good cycling in every direction and there’s a decent cycling community as it were very much on the sports side, good youth club for kids learning, cyclocross, mountain biking and stuff like that. So yeah, it’s been I haven’t looked back really. I mean, I still love London when I go but I haven’t been when I went last went up to London, just before the lockdown and been for two years before that, so you know, it’s there in my mind. But to be honest, I’ve I’ve doing what I do with writing cycling travel books. I it’s been other parts of the country that I’ve been going to since since we began so

Carlton Reid 12:41
jack, this is why I’ve got you on the show. We are going to talk about that. Of course we’re going to talk about it at great length. I want to talk about the history of cycle touring and and where you fit into that with your cloth badges for you know, cutting duck panniers or wherever people are putting their their cloth badges. And I do want to get into that. But I’m interested in 2013. Because 2013 is obviously a key year because you moved, but it’s also when you first started doing lost lanes. So was that move and lost lanes? are they connected?

Jack Thurston 13:20
Well, it takes a little bit of time to write a book, as I think you’re more than a way and Colton. They don’t just pop out the publication date is sometimes misleading as to the genesis of a book. And now I mean, I like to say that, and that is the way I feel about it is that there’s the writing loss lanes in 2012, which is when I did the bulk of the research, and the actual photography and the writing was a kind of farewell tour of all my favourite cycling haunts, within, you know, half an hour. You know, train ride from London, basically. The places that I’ve been cycling for the last 20 years, either riding down to Kent, and hopping on the train bit further afield or riding out to Essex. So a few London rides as well in the book, and it was basically my chance to do all these rides with some friends if I could rope them in and produce a book about it. I mean, the, the the actual, the actual story that should give you the true story is that my friend Daniel Starr, who I have known since I was 1213, we were at school together and we started a cycling club at school in the sick form, because we didn’t want to do like the boring games where you have to run around you know, muddy pitches and get kind of ritually humiliated by horrible PE teachers and kind of sporty children. We started this cycling club which is basically a cycle touring club, you know, we went get the train out to Hartford cheer with a pack lunch. For a few hours and then come back cycle maybe you’re dead like 25 miles, or something like that. So he, he had written a very successful book about swimming in in nature called Wild swimming which is all about swimming in lakes and waterfalls and in the state of them

Carlton Reid 15:18
because there’s a coast one as well. Isn’t that I bought both of them out. Yeah, the time so yeah,

Jack Thurston 15:22
that great book. There’s a coast one. So we were cycling down the Northumberland coast towards where you live, actually, we’ve got the train up to barrack upon tweed. And we were heading down to Newcastle on a basically a research trip for him. Looking at wild swimming spots along the Northumberland coast for that very book you’ve got and it was me, him another guy, Karen and his dog in the trailer, in and out of a trailer, kind of just wild camping on the way and trying to take nice pictures of swimming spots and find interesting places to swim. And we were just chatting to you know, as you do In the evening about things and he was wanting to sort of set out on his own in the publishing enterprise and not be published by somebody else. But he was desperate to have a Haney in order to so it’s a little bit tedious. But basically, in order to set up as a publisher and not be like a vanity press, kind of self publishing type of thing, you need to have like a list of books that aren’t just your own. So he said that just Can you do a cycling book? And I’ve never written a book before. And he said, Well, you don’t actually maybe you don’t even need to write it. But as long as we can just put it in the catalogue, then I can take the catalogue around the distributors, and then I’ll look like a legitimate publishing house and they will therefore stock my wild swimming books. And you know, they will take all my words to me. And so that’s where kind of Lost Lanes came from really was dreaming up an idea for for a book and we went through loads of different kind of ideas of what might work I just, I mean, ultimately lost lanes is, is very much a kind of my interpretation of well, not my interpretation, my reinterpretation of a book that’s been around for ages, you know, but I think I’ve got a book from 1899 accord, short spins around London during the boom of the 1890s it’s just someone sharing their favourite rides of roots, giving a little bit of description and colour and a few tips on on places to go and stop off along the way and get some food and drink and, and that kind of thing. And, you know, obviously taking advantage of you know, what you can do with a book now and how you can make a book with lots of beautiful colour photographs that you couldn’t do in the 1890s.

Carlton Reid 17:46
Well, they had lots of line illustrations. Then they had an evocative Patterson type, you know, that’s the 1930s of course, but

Jack Thurston 17:57
yeah, pre passes, but

Carlton Reid 17:58
there were there weren’t before that It was tougher. So that’s that’s very much you’re you’re in the historic eight guys there because cycle touring books back then and today, they’ve got to evoke stuff, they’ve got to look pretty, they can’t just be you know, fantastic text. And I’ve got to say the photography in your book that you’ve you’ve taken a wonderful so that’s that’s probably for me impressed more than 50% of the book and your words are good I love your introduction in the in the latest one which we’ll talk about in a minute, but it’s the photographer you can just flick through that and then I’m going for a ride them. And then I don’t know how many people actually read every single word but it’s the photographs that get you out there. Would you agree that it’s the photographs are probably more important than the words?

Jack Thurston 18:49
Yeah, and that was advice that Daniel my publisher gave me on the basis of his wild swimming books that that you know his wild Subarus are full of beautiful pictures of people jumping in to waterfalls and driving off bridges and that kind of thing. And it really does make you want to be there. That’s what that’s what my criterion is for, whether I include a photograph in the book or whether I present it in a, you know, big in the book, because I do all the photo layout as well. And it’s about making people think I really want to be there. And that’s, you know, that’s, I do sometimes look at landscape photographers who, who, who, you know, have a lot of kids have a lot of time plan their shoots really carefully and they produce incredible, beautiful, amazing results. And I feel a bit insecure when I compare my stuff to their stuff but but my stuff is sort of slightly doing a different job. It’s because this these are actually photographs that I take while I’m out wrecking the rides. And so they are there at the moment I don’t have I can’t wait for the light to be a certain way at a certain place. I just have to take the photograph and just be lucky. I suppose. But it’s about Yeah, it’s about, yeah, the photography and digital photography. I mean, it’s made it possible for me as a relatively amateur photographer, I would not have been able to afford to have all the film and processing that you would have had to done if you wanted to take a trip like this in the 90s. And where and when I look back at the books that I used to use it, this sort of this kind of vein, I think of the cotton books, so you probably know Nick cotton, I don’t I

Carlton Reid 20:31
published one of his books, the our family cycling guide,

Jack Thurston 20:35
we got all sorts. Yeah.

I mean, his books are great, the rides are great. There was a useful information in them very practical, but they didn’t really make you want to go and do them. If they if you knew what they were and you think okay, well, I can use this book as a tool. So I used to try and get my friends to come cycling with me my house. Nate’s been living in the house sharing in Waterloo, and I was much more keen on cycling than than any, some of them were. And so I just I realised that you could just tell people, oh, we’re gonna go out to Kent and ride 40 miles. Like that was not appealing to people, or, or people’s partners, you know, their friends bring along their partners or new new people who hadn’t done much cycling, kind of, we’re just gonna go to Kenton cycle 40 miles, if you say, we’re gonna go out to Kent, it’s just the right time for the blossom in the in all the fruit fields. We’re going to visit six different kinds of windmill. And then we’re going to stop at this pub where they do a really good, like, certain kind of pie and we’re going to sit in the garden and have beer which is brewed just down the road. And then we’re going to the end we’re going to swing by this place where we can all have a jump in the river. If it’s warm. You know, that is a whole different proposition. Then you’re actually basically saying, Do you want to come and have a day in the countryside, and it happens to be by bike. Rather than, like we’re going to go out and cycle 40 miles. So the books, the books in a way of trying to kind of do that with the text, because I try and give the the rides a theme or a story or some kind of connection that the people can make with it. But then also with the photographs, you know, I’m able to do that. I’m able to show show what it what it will feel like what it might feel like but then again, it might not feel like that because I was there in April. And you might be writing in October every bike ride is different and in a way, I hope people don’t feel disappointed if they don’t see what is in the books but then I hope they will also be thrilled if they see something that’s different from what’s in the books but equally amazing and I I feel confident that that is exactly what will happen because Cycling is just such a wonderful way to see a place. So check I’ve got

Carlton Reid 22:51
I’ve got two books in front of me. So I’ve got your new one, the last lanes North which clearly I know an awful lot of the roads you were you were doing them And it’s it can be a bleak landscape. And then also your your photographs there have captured that really well. You know, the kind of the, the, the loneliness of the countryside, where you don’t maybe get those pies in a pub, because you’re probably about two hours from a pub that’s going to have anything when you’re in Northumberland, but then I’ve got your first book or the 2013 book, which was in 36, glorious bike rides in southern England. And then I flick through and then you see a woman in a flowery dress, riding a bike. So this is not like hardcore, there are photographs of you where you look a bit more hardcore. You look bit more touring cyclicity but then you’ve got photographs of people who are clearly not and you’re really out with them at the same time. So you’re deliberately trying to, which is what I used to deliberately do with on your bike magazine, which was not take people photograph People in lycra basically try and spread it around.

Jack Thurston 24:06
Yeah, I mean, I’m not pathologically against lycra I if I go out for a sort of energetic blast around my local area, I will sometimes wear a pair of lycra shorts and if it’s hot and it kind of has a cooling effect on the body, and it’s comfortable, but if you’re, if you’re if I’m out for a whole day, and I’m stopping for lunch, and maybe having a cream tea or something like that, actually, I feel a bit. I don’t really like to wear that kind of tight fitting clothing all day. I just like to wear normal clothes or sort of normal hiking, walking clothes that people would wear. I just feel that that’s, that’s practical, and people should wear what they what they feel comfortable in. Ultimately, that that picture I think the one you’re thinking of, is is my wife Sarah, and she just was wearing that dress. I think because it was a hot day. And yeah, I, I think I think it can be off putting. I mean, we you know, you know this more than I do, you were doing this long before I even started doing anything to do with cycling in the media. It presenting cycling as an activity for which you have to get topped up in a particular way via which you have to get topped up in a particular not that you can get topped up in a particular way. But the the activity the bicycle requires you to dawn, a certain kind of uniform. And I think that’s obviously going to be off putting, that’s obviously going to be off putting in particularly when it’s not true. You know, obviously, if you’re going to go rock climbing, then yes, there are probably some practical, got things that you need, or maybe they’re not, maybe that’s a bad example, I guess if you’re going to go scuba diving, you probably do want to wear a wetsuit, if you’re going to go to a cold place go scuba diving, it’s probably a good idea to have a wetsuit, but I don’t think that lycra is the sort of cycling equivalent of a way suit for scuba diving you don’t have to wear it you can wear it if you like it, but we people who are comfortable wearing it should not underestimate the degree to which it alienates cycling as an activity from the sort of mental sense of possibility in the average person in the population.

Carlton Reid 26:24
So in the from the press release that I’ve got here, which is about lost lanes North it’s all about how how successful you’ve been so well done. You’ve actually made and it’s not easy to make a book sale. I mean, bestsellers can be you know, 5000 copies sometimes so to make a bicycle book, sell well, is good going. So have you done that? Have you have you? Have you plugged into something?

Jack Thurston 26:55
I think the firt I mean, the first, the first one, the last day in southern England. Sold really well, I think somewhere around 30,000 copies, I don’t know what they say the press release something like that. And the subsequent ones, Wales and West have sold a fraction fractions of that. So, you know, more like 10,000 or 6000 stuff that kind of that kind of range. So it’s a big difference. I think the first one did well, partly because there are a lot of people cycling in London, even back in 2013. It went in the non bike boom, or whatever it was, there simply are a lot of people who cycled to work. And I think I was tapping into the idea that Hey, you got this bike that you started to work every day or some days. How about using it to go and have a nice day in the countryside, and also the fact that every ride was pretty much accessible from Central London on a train journey. Whereas you know, if you live were you doing in Newcastle and you want to do a ride in Lancashire. You know that That’s a long way away. It’s a it’s not inevitably with the rail network and transport links being the way they are a book based around the kind of hub of London as a as a public transport hub with this incredible network of or not a network just spokes that go out into the greenbelt of London is appealing because it means that if you live in London, you can basically do all the rides and there are 8 million people who live in London quite a lot of them ride bikes. And it also got picked up I think by a few gift shops. They have these gift shops at railway stations Oliver bonus. And I think the gifting market for cycling stuff, you can is good because it’s a bit like gardening or golf or recipe book. I don’t know what else.

Carlton Reid 28:47
It’s kind of a recipe for where maybe, maybe?

Jack Thurston 28:50
Yeah, it’s that thing of like, oh, what do I get that person? Oh, they’re really into in, you know, insert the word could be cycling, could be gardening, could be golf. So you could pick up some sort of silly knickknacks, like a tea towel with a bicycle logo on it or a notebook with a bicycle logo on it and, or mug. And yeah, we’ve all received these gifts, I’m sure you have Christmases and birthdays and things like that. And you’re like, your heart kind of sinks in you just because it’s got a bicycle logo does doesn’t mean I’m gonna just love this, this note pad or these paper clips or whatever they are. But I think but i think you know, a nice chunky book with attractive cover. And I mean, I should pay tribute to the guy who did the illustration Andrew profit he’s done. He’s really evoked sort of the classic iconography of cycle touring in the golden age of the 30s 40s 50s and travel, you know, travel brochures of that era, but I think is taking it forward into his own style. And I think people just immediately pick up the book because it’s got a kind of zingy cover, and then open it up and go, Oh, there’s lots of nice pictures. I would like to be there. And, and this will be great for my friend who’s really into cycling or by relative or my son or my So the gifting market as publishers call it has been good to us with with with lost lanes, but I have to say the first one is the one that has kept me doing them in terms of Finance. So thank you to everyone who’s bought lost lanes, Southern England and to everyone who hasn’t bought a west or a Wales for North.

Come on, come on. So let’s talk about

if that’s not too much of a holiday,

Carlton Reid 30:25
well, I’m gonna I’m gonna I’m definitely we’re gonna segue we’re gonna we’re gonna slip it in and out of different themes out cuz you mentioned income. I would like now to go into to your income and talk about you as what you do as a day job. So when I do my research here, you know, find out what jack Burson does is like, hang on, co founder of farm subsidy. I didn’t know anything about this special advisor to the Newcastle MP Nick Brown, who I’ve had a few run ins with before and I didn’t know any of this transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall fund of the United States. Wow. I didn’t know any of this. So jack, tell us about jack.

Jack Thurston 31:09

the mask is lifted. No, I mean, I, I think I think the 2013 was a sort of pivotal year because that was the kind of year when I I stopped doing a lot of that work on actually quite happily, I felt a little bit burnt out by what I had been doing for the previous 10 years and what I had been doing for the previous 10 or 15 years is working in, in politics, Public Policy Research. That kind of area I started working as a researcher for for Nick brown just after immediately after leaving University as like, I mean researcher is glorified way of putting it I was, I was you know, I did photocopying, I made cups of tea, open the post, you know, bank area, that kind of thing. And in a small Office of an MP. And the nice thing about working in the small office of an MP is that they do get to see you. And if you can do something, you know more than just opening the post and making the tea, then then you know, that will get noticed. And you can then you know, accrue more work because they’ve ultimately, none of them have got enough especially in in opposition when it’s just them. And they’re there. They’re small, two or three members of staff, you there’s more work to be done than they have got staff to do it. So there’s always opportunities if you want to, if you want to kind of get you know, get on as it were. It’s just getting that foot in the door really. And weirdly, actually, what I asked him after was Why did you give me that job? Like, why did you you get you know, get MPs get letters every week or more than that, you know, saying from young, pushy politics graduates saying Can I have a job in your office sort of thing. And it was weird that he looked he looked, he looked through it. And there were two things that’s stuck out on my CV. It has nothing to do with my, you know, academic qualifications or anything like that. One of them was that I’d done some work at university on HIV and AIDS like awareness, which I think he thought was, was good. And and also I cycled across Romania with in with a friend exactly my friend Daniel who published my books with we saved up money from working and got a little travel bursary from our universities and flew across to Romania and spent six weeks cycling around I think he thought that was a bit different from what he normally got. So to all if there’s any I don’t know if there’s any young people listen to this podcast there’s that there’s no young people listen to my podcast, Carlton, but you know, it the things that you did

the things that you do outside, you know, your cycling, you know,

it shows you got an independent spirit and, and a sense of can do so anyway. started working for Nick and just carried on with him for for a while, and then ended up as a special advisor, the Ministry of Agriculture when he was the agriculture minister. So I still write helping writing speeches and research and carrying and all the rest of it. And during that time, I kind of got to see how screwed up. agricultural policy was pretty much everywhere around the world, but particularly bad. It felt like in Europe, paying money, loads of money to the wrong kind of people for doing the wrong kind of things with their land. And I thought, having stopped doing that work. And having left Nick and kind of was on my own thinking that if people knew where this money went, if people just knew how much money was going to the queen, the Duke of Westminster, Eton College, all these big companies, they would surely say there’s got to be a better way. So I then saw I started working on a kind of freedom of information campaign in Britain working bit with a Guardian newspaper, and some journalists there who specialised in that, too, because because I knew because I’d worked on the inside, and I knew where all the information was in the government department, we could kind of target those requests quite specifically, and make it hard for them to refuse. And, and eventually, we won, or I won, and with the Information Commissioner ruled in my favour, and we’ve got all this data on who gets what the level of the individual farmer so you know, you could say you could say, you can look up the queen, you could look up all these rich people and see how much tax money they were getting. And then and then I took for the next few years taking that model around Europe and getting other activists and journalists doing the same thing in different European countries. And then we ran a website, massive data site like big data, big data before big data was a thing where you could actually search all this stuff and And you could search by your postcode and find out who the big recipients of farm subsidies were in your area. And I hoped that it would, you know, drive a sort of reform of the of the whole system, and we’d end up with a much better system. But you know, that that didn’t really work out for lots of different reasons. And I felt so I felt a bit, you know, you work at something for 10 years. And, and you kind of feel like you’re in a worse position than you were when you started. And you just kind of, it’s difficult not to feel a little bit disillusioned, like you could just carry on for another 10 years and another 10 years, and then you’d be like, 70, and you’d be the guy who campaigned for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and didn’t achieve it. And that would be that with your life, and I just thought, that’s not really what I want. I’ve tried hard with this, and it’s time to pass the baton on to other people. So that sounds a bit a bit underwhelming description of my career journey, isn’t it? But then I remember also someone said to me once when I was you A student or something that you should have like a different career every 10 years, and you should just kind of change. So I guess that’s what I’ve what I’ve been doing.

Carlton Reid 37:08
So what are you now? Are you an author? When somebody says, What do you do for a living? And you don’t know them, Madam, what do you say?

Jack Thurston 37:18
I hate that question. I really hate that question.

Because it presupposes that sort of what you do is who you are. And it also pretty supposes that the work that you do for money is the work that defines who you are. And I don’t feel like that. I mean, partly because I earned very much money. So I mean, I’ve worked part time, because I’ve got two young kids who are four and six, and my wife is much more successful in what she does, than I am in what I do. So you know, she has a kind of sense of preeminent role in a way in terms of time allocation, and neither of us make a huge amount of money of what we do. But we live in a rural area you know we have quite low outgoings I grow a lot of vegetables. So sort of get by and yeah, I’d say I write I write cycling books I also write for for magazines and newspapers and that kind of thing about cycling and try and keep a podcast on its feet. But that doesn’t bring in anyone that actually cost money to do so. I don’t know yet stay home dad slash guide book author, slash journalist. Is that all travel writer? I don’t know is that right? That’s all I’m asking

Carlton Reid 38:32
you if that but then again, I didn’t know anything about your background. So that’s good for me to white. Why didn’t I know these things about you? I just know you as jack bike show. And you ask the questions. Now because I’m asking you the questions. We’re gonna find out a bit more about I was jack who is doing farm subsidies. So that’s kind of lefty when you’re working with Nick brown and Because it’s kind of lefty ish. So I know you’ve done a show on this. But just your opinions that is cycling. Left wing, is it right wing? Because I know you had differing opinions from different political spectrums there because you had Guido Fawkes on who was saying, No, no, actually, it’s libertarian, you know, freedom to go anywhere and stuff. So where do you see cycling in the political sphere?

Jack Thurston 39:29
I tend to think it’s naturally on the left, because it’s democratic, because it’s accessible because it’s sort of non non violent non dominating of others.

And it’s quite a levelling type of thing.

I can see the arguments for freedom and and for liberty. But I also think that those arguments lead you quite quickly towards auto domination, and a kind of A world in which you just have cars, or you’re poor and you ride the bus or walk. And and I don’t, I think that’s much more of a right wing kind of view. But the you know, the left, right split, I mean, where is the left right split in the in society today? It does feel like it’s fracturing in all kinds of different

Carlton Reid 40:21
around Brexit split, rather than

Jack Thurston 40:24
Well, I mean, it’s not just not just even talking about Brexit in Britain. I mean,

you know, I, yeah, I think I think traditionally it has been off the left. And if you look at someone like Kuklos, Fitzwater Wray, who’s a hero of mine from the golden age of cycling. He was a pacifist, a socialist, the Clarion cycling club, you know, he was involved with them. I think it has got, I don’t think the Primrose league with the Primrose league on bikes because they’re the sort of right wing counterpoint to the Clarion Clarion cycling club aren’t they? No, I think I think I think you can put different interpretations on it. And I think I think self reliance, independence, liberty, those are all things which appeal to a certain strand of, of thinking on the right. But I think overall the bicycle, you know, I mean, I’d like to think that a bicycle has appeal for everybody. I think I think there’s I was listening to a podcast of the day about liberty and the idea of positive liberty and negative liberty and, you know, your liberty to do something versus whether someone is stopping you from doing something. And I do feel I mean, that you and I agree on this. I think carton, you know, the cars. The cars is just the root of the problem. I mean, bicycles are sort of it’s they’re almost like a side issue. It’s crazy for me to say that as someone who basically works, it’s like he loves cycling, but they are a side issue in the whole thing about car dominated societies. Is that going too far?

Carlton Reid 42:11
No, but they are coming to a bit more prominence. Now we know with with.

Jack Thurston 42:15
I’m not saying I’m not saying they’re not prominent, what I meant, what I meant to say is that, that, you know, you tackle the reason why I’m so passionate and about Cycling is it’s because it’s a way of travelling, that that doesn’t impose so much horror on other people. You’re part of that

Carlton Reid 42:32
you’re also talking about a pleasure to talk about your kind of cycling but you can just as easily get a dentist earning turn and 250,000 pounds a year who’s got a fleet of Porsches, who goes out on his road bike can also be be cycling and absolutely would not be on the left. You can get people like sir Alan sugar who are out there and saying some pretty awful things at the moment on social media. They’re out there cycling and then you Get people who are travelling to trail centres, you know, in their big SUVs, getting their mountain bikes off the side, probably to 3000 pound mountain bikes, probably more, and then going away again. So they’re not of that ilk. So are you not just self describing yourself here, when you when you’re when you’re talking about cycling? This is this is where you see it. But it’s actually there’s many, many prisms, you can you can see cycling through many kinds of cyclists out there, but it’s probably one of its actual strengths.

Jack Thurston 43:30
That’s true. No, and I do agree with you. And I’m going to rollback from my position. I think, you know, yeah, anyone can enjoy the thrill of turning a pedal and the pleasure of the wind in your hair and the exhilaration you get from being on a bicycle that is a setting that appeals beyond anything to do with politics. But I do think that once you start thinking about why cycling is so marginal, In certain societies, and so prominent in other societies, there is a political dimension to that, which is based around. Well, it’s obvious to me that it comes down to infrastructure, doesn’t it as we both agree. And culture perhaps, and those are all expressions or causation factors in politics. And I think the sort of social democratic politics of, of Denmark of the Netherlands of scan, you know, Germany, those are the places where there is good cycling infrastructure where Cycling is is much more widespread than it is in our sort of Anglo Saxon countries. You know, that there there is there is a link there to do with politics. I don’t know. I mean, you’re the expert on this. I don’t you feel like you’re I feel like I’m being quizzed by someone who knows all the answers. And, and and like, you’re gonna I feel like this would be like a tutorial. Well, when you You’re my You’re my, you’re my professor.

Carlton Reid 45:05
I’ve mentioned the Netherlands there. I’m not Confucius here at all. I’m not gonna. Absolutely I can learn from anybody. So the Netherlands, you ask the same question in the Netherlands, it would be like, what would you mean? It’s a left wing or it’s a right? No, it’s just Cycling is everything. You can have rabid right wingers cycling just as much as left wing. So that does seem to be the reason I asked the question is probably very much a British thing to do on Anglo Saxon thing to do in your terms, in that in other countries, it’s not politically charged, yet we meet you, perhaps others. When we self described this, we do make it politically charged. But you’ve then got things like David Cameron cycling Prime Minister, I mean, they couldn’t do when there were Prime Ministers But still, the current prime minister exactly is famous. For being on a bike name, you know how many labour prime ministers have been famous for their their bicycling credentials? Well, I can’t think of any.

So is it really that …

Jack Thurston 46:10
Jeremy Corbyn

come from it? You’re not private? No.

It was great. It was a great election, wasn’t it? We are to two people who who ride bikes against each other Corbyn and and Johnson. Yeah, I mean, I don’t know I i think i think there are I think there are different levels at which you can talk about that issue. And clearly you don’t have to be of the left or have the right to enjoy cycling.

But I do think that cycling does.

Especially cycling in a country like ours where you are really, you know, the scum of the earth basically on the roads. That’s how you’re treated by most people hold on a lot of people. And that does that is that does that is that there is a kind of humbling thing about that and it’s not not pleasant. thing, but it does it does show you how vulnerable you are. And that I think is the consciousness from which to deeper care for others and empathy for others who are less invulnerable or in vulnerable positions can spring from. So I do think that the bicycle can make you a better person. I just I don’t see Ilan musk on a bicycle. I don’t see Donald Trump on a bicycle. I don’t see all these sort of selfish grasping hucksters that seemed to define 21st century Sir Alan Sugar on bicycles.

Carlton Reid 47:38
I mean, he’s The Apprentice.

Jack Thurston 47:42
Yeah, Alan Sugar’s a funny one, isn’t he? Because he is actually he was a Labour Party supporter wasn’t familiar. He’s flip until Corbyn came along. He was a New Labour Tony Blair. So he does come from a left a left working class tradition. And I don’t know what he’s wearing. where he is now? But then, you know, I think you need to. Yeah, I mean, there’s anecdotes and individual data points and they could be confounding effects and clearly, racing, cycling, mountain biking, you know, you know, in a controlled environment is, you know, is one thing. I do know, I do feel that in my experience of meeting people who are eminent in the cycling world as I’ve done over the podcast, I do feel that they do tend to be on more on on the left I just as kind of my experience. Chris Boardman, Graeme Obree, those sorts of people. I mean,

Carlton Reid 48:47
it’s just sort of where they are where they’re at. I don’t know. So in the all the President’s Men, which is the Woodward and Bernstein book about the Watergate scandal, you’ve got Carl Bernstein, who was a self described 1970 Bike boom. Bike freak was very upset when he discovered that there was a bike freak, actually in the White House working for creep. The Committee for the re election of the president Macgruder so Macruder would cycle to the White House he was the almost certainly within the high command of of the Watergate scandal basically. I think he certainly went to prison for it. And so it that shocked curb Carl Bernstein he was incredibly shocked when he was researching all of this Watergate stuff that he assumed that second was left wing. And here the was a rabid right winger was cycling. Now we stick with that probably still shocks actually that anecdote still shocks because yes, I think most people I’m touching word here, most people would assume Cycling is leftist, greenish, eco ish. And when you get right wingers on it’s like, well, that’s stat that stands out. But what? politically what stops you getting on a bike? Nothing stops you getting on a bike politically?

Jack Thurston 50:10
Now, I think there are I mean, what didn’t Margaret Thatcher say something about? You have to worry about a man in his 20s who rides the bus or something like that?

Carlton Reid 50:22
I’m afraid but yes, you shouldn’t be. You shouldn’t be on public transport. It’s apocryphal, but it kind of fed into her mentality for sure.

Jack Thurston 50:32
Yeah, I think there is a there is a sense in which a car is a status symbol, and is indicative of success in the kind of capitalist economy and society and having a nice car and driving everywhere. Is is kind of how you show that you’ve made it according to those criteria. Jackie, can

Carlton Reid 50:55
you have a nice car and a nice bike? jack?

Jack Thurston 50:58
Yeah, but you wouldn’t you do. Just you. You’ll use the

Yeah. So maybe you can go into Yeah, go for a bike race or a bike ride. I don’t know. You can have both, that’s for sure. You can have both.

Carlton Reid 51:12
We’ve talked over many, many years about the history of cycle touring. So you’re fascinated. We’ve talked about Lawrence of Arabia, and his, you know, where he, he came a cropper, of course, on his motorbike without, trying to kill two cyclists. But then he did do lots of cycle tours before that. So you’re very interested in the history of cycles. So you’re not just writing about this. And then doing a brief mention in your book you are you are really interested in the in the whole era of classic cycle touring.

Jack Thurston 51:48
I think I’m just interested in travelling by bicycle. And when you’re interested in something, you want to kind of find out how long it’s been going on for and clearly it It’s only been going on for as long as there have been bicycles. So that’s not that it’s mostly recorded history, you know that? Well, it’s all recorded history, obviously, we’re going back to the 1860s, I suppose. So it’s, it’s, it’s, you know, and it’s very well documented. Because cyclists love to write about their endeavours and take pictures of them or draw line drawings about them.

And I just, I don’t know, I find it

very alluring to, to feel a connection with somebody who lived 100 years ago who’s doing something similar to what I’m doing now. And feeling the same kind of things and experiencing them in a similar sort of way. I just, it’s you get a little historical shiver down your spine, don’t you? It’s always I mean, it’s a bit like stepping into a into a mediaeval castle, and thinking you know, closing your eyes and thinking like, what would it have been like? But you don’t really know do you? You really don’t know what in a ruined castle what would it have been like? What would life be like? In a castle? Yeah, it’s beyond almost what we can imagine 500 600 700 years back, but I could definitely imagine 100 years back. And, and the things were sufficiently different back then to be interesting to me. And in what in terms of what’s changed, but it’s sufficiently close in terms of experience that I can kind of touch it and really, really have a feel for it feel for the texture of it. So it’s the appeal of history, isn’t it? And I find history appealing in lots of different ways. Industrial history. Yeah, I think but I think history history is most powerful. When it I, I don’t know I’m gonna qualify myself here because if you go to someone like Stonehenge, and you kind of touch those stones, and now we’re talking about pre history, and you have no idea who the people were who’d made that place and why they did it and it almost haven how they did it. It can be totally or inspiring, and just knock you for six. And so clearly you don’t need to be proximate to the people you’re having this sort of historical connection with, but there is a certain kind of feeling of proximity that does, that does. I don’t know, give it a bit more texture and a bit more liveliness, it’s a different kind of thing isn’t it isn’t a different kind of thing. But I do love chancing upon old photographs of places that I know, that 100 years ago, and seeing them so I don’t know. Do you feel the same year into history? Absolutely. I don’t think I’m a learner

Carlton Reid 54:34
at all. So 1890s which is that that first bike boom when people are getting out there on their, that their bikes, and you’ve got people and I know we’ve often I’m pretty sure we have a conversation on Twitter about this at the time, but when I’ve posted images of 1890 cycle tourists, for instance, going to Stonehenge, which you’ve just mentioned, you know, they were on what’s now the the 115 3103 or 103? what’s the what’s the road is anyway? 83303 Thank you. The major road that’s going to the West Country, your West, you’ve know this better than me because of your your, your book. Yes, but the 303 that’s like so those cyclist of the 1890s were on the main roads of the day, because there was no cars at the time. So they were riding, they weren’t riding on last lanes back then they were riding in effect on the Turnpike’s the major roads of the day. So when you’re when you evoke that historical residents, well, those guys weren’t riding on your last lanes. They were riding on the motorways of the day. There’s just there’s no cars they were Yeah, they were

Jack Thurston 55:48
and but actually pretty quickly, towards in the 1910s or 1900s and 1910s. You start to come across so you start to come up with People saying oh that roads too busy now or with we don’t like that road anymore if you go through the, in the 1920s and 30s. And and there is a sort of that’s the era in which the car starts to dominate, and cyclists head off to find other roads. And I think that’s a process that has continued to this day. And I think that’s what gravel biking is all about. And I love gravel, gravel bikes, they are perfect machines for cycling on loss lanes and more. And I think that, that, I don’t know whether I would say the 1890s is my golden age of cycle touring. I think it’s freestyle, if you look at the kind of people who were doing it. It was a one particular It was a fairly well to do not exclusively, but fairly well to do I think the golden era of of cycling, in terms of my view of it is probably The 30s when you start getting outdoors moving all the youth hostels cropping up and people having a bit of time and a bit opportunity to go out there, bicycles a bit more accessible, lightweight machines are available. And then the 40s and 50s with the rough stuff. And so York rally and all those kinds of things that are the beacons of, of cycling in our country, and then in the 60s, I think it starts to become a bit more marginal again, although I should say because I looking at, I look at the bike images of the bike Centennial in America, which was in 76, wasn’t it? And there are some beautiful photographs of that. And I have to say I look at those photographs with exactly the same free sort of history. As I look at the photographs, photographs from the 1930s I just feel like that was a real amazing time and a place to be, to be around to be cycling across America. And I’d love too, I’d love to learn more about it, actually. So I think you could look at all these different eras. And you can look at images from the early London to Brighton in the early 1980s. And see, you know, handmade Friends of the Earth stickers, or posters or posters, banners and badges and things like that. It’s just it’s sort of making a connection with like minded people across the barrier of time. And and I think that’s interesting. I don’t really mind whether I’m envious of the fact that the cyclists of the 1890s were able to just barrel down the best flattest roads to get places and cover big distances. I’m incredibly envious of them. But I don’t feel that that I have to, in any way interested in reproducing their journeys in terms of the actual roads they went on. I think I’m more interested in in drawing on a wellspring of bicycle travel through a century or more and and China interpreting it For our times, and what’s available now,

Carlton Reid 59:03
jack, and we’re going to, we’re going to close for a break now. We’ll come back in a minute, and I’m going to talk to you about I want to hear about what other tours that you’ve done. And you’ve just said you did remain here, but actual tours, rather than just going out for a ride. So that’s what we’re going to talk about when we come back. So we’ll go for a break. So David, take it away.

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 thespokesmen. 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.

Thanks, David. And we are here with Jack Thurston, who will as he said before, he is not an author. He is he’s Lots of different things he wouldn’t even have ever a very long business card. I asked before the ad break I wanted to find out what touring so so jack has is talking about his the golden eras and there’s been many golden years including that those wonderful rise across the US in the 1976 and do go and search for photographs of those that some fantastic National Geographic if you go into their archive of some of those photographs,

but jack what what kind of touring Have you done apart from where you’re talking about Romania? So what what have you done elsewhere in the world?

Jack Thurston 1:01:36
So I haven’t done a huge amount of worldwide touring. I feel a bit

of an underachiever

Carlton Reid 1:01:43
fraud, you’re a fraud.

Jack Thurston 1:01:46
Yeah, I have cycled I mean, I thought I did a big ride around France in 2008 for about six weeks, so I rode the crest of the Pyrenees from the Atlantic coast to the Midwest. radian like with full panniers and all that stuff. This is before Kindles had come along and my entire front left pannier was full of paperbacks maps. So, yeah, that was a that was an early adopter of the top. on that trip. I did have a top. I’d seen them. When I was walking the john Muir Trail in California, I’d seen a guy sleeping under a tarp, and it looked a lot better than my little mini tent. So I did that. That was a top trip. And I have done some little, you know, three or four day tours around northern France, kind of accessible from Britain. I’ve done a lot of cycling in, in England and Wales. I would say that was the most of it. I mean, I’ve done some, I don’t know I’m sure they’re big tourist hotspots of cycling holidays in the Alps, and the Pyrenees. Kind of just more like out doing day rides, but most of my cycle touring has been in In England and Wales, so cycling down I used to cycle every summer down to Cornwall from London. My friends had used to rent the same cottage on the beach at Constantine Bay in new Padstow. And so they would, they would go on the train, and I would set up a couple of days earlier and give them a bag with my clothes and things like that and wetsuit and stuff to carry down with with them and then inside cycle down, and then then take the train with them back at the end of the holiday and cycling around Wales. Yeah, just different parts of parts of England really. I did a I did a very disastrous looking back and it feels like disastrous lightning tour in New England. Because the friends of mine were getting married in Vermont and I wanted to go to their wedding but I thought it was pretty irresponsible to like fly across the Atlantic to just go to a wedding. So I thought okay, I’ll make this a build my summer holiday around this wedding. And so I cycled from Montreal to New York with the wedding at the halfway point. And then towards the end in New York had a bad crash and ended up in hospital having my teeth fixed

Carlton Reid 1:04:10
a crash that you have to that other day. Nobody else was involved or what was

Jack Thurston 1:04:16
no Yeah, it was. It was, it was on one of those, you get some bridges in America that are made out of like about made out of metal, like a kind of grid structure of metal. I don’t want the right word for that is but they’re quite good. They get very slick in the wet. And I came down a descent with too much speed and applied the brakes and lost the back wheel and hit the deck and hit my face into the metal grille of this bridge. Yeah, that was a very nice but and yeah, I didn’t find in the wild camping in Vermont. I mean And, and, and upstate New York. I mean, the mosquitoes were just appalling. And also, I felt like wild camping was really was really not on. Like, there were signs everywhere and lots of barbed wire kind of saying, you know, you can’t come in here, stay away, intruders stay away. And so it was quite hard to find really nice places to wild camp. I just didn’t feel comfortable with the kind of culture of whether it was acceptable just to pitch your tent anywhere. And I still don’t really know the answer to that. And also, it was quite difficult getting food, like, you’d end up shopping in like petrol stations and things and then things would come in very large packets. So you’d have to buy like two pounds of bacon or something and you couldn’t eat it all and it would go off and you couldn’t just you know, you could just get a small amount to keep going from day to day you had to supply these bulk loads of stuff until you’re at war or weighed down by all so I didn’t I kind of failed at cycle touring in America. Maybe one day I would like to come back. But I mean, I’d love to do another big trip I’d love to cycle across Europe. I’d love to cycle to Istanbul or something like that. I did a tour for three days for The Guardian travel section last year as the guest of the vom de office to tour. The Tourist Board over there who showed me around the Atlantic cycleway south of the mouth of the river la from the basically from the mouth of the revenue are to La Rochelle. And I did that on a Brompton which is fun. So I’d like to do Yeah, I’d like to do some more touring in France with my kids. I’d like to go to the Netherlands with my kids, because I think that’d be the place to take them for cycle touring because that’s, that’s that’s the limiting factor these days is when I’m not doing a book and basically with the children and They can’t really do psycho touring in Britain, because it’s a rotary not safe for it. With the exception of a few rides that I’ve done like bit on the Northumberland coast with the kids really nice. And the Devon coast to coast is a good child friendly one. We were supposed to bring up to the Peak District in Derbyshire, at the end of May to do some cycling with the kids on the old railway lines. But I don’t know if we were going to be able to do that with Corona. So yeah, so I don’t know I I really look at these people who do like your son who does that is amazing. Riding back from China, and I feel like now is not the time. I should have done that. I should have done that already. I should have done that in my 20s or 30s. I don’t know why I didn’t. But I just didn’t. I was too busy in politics, I suppose. And I guess it’s something that probably have to wait until I’m a bit less encumbered with family life. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 1:07:57
I know I know what you mean.

about them and I was certainly I’ve been looking at Joshua’s trip and that brought back all the memories of when I did those kind of trips. And I’m kind of thinking, when can I do them again not not Corona stopping me but because it is gonna be a couple of years before I can do this, but just Yeah, I’d like to do some mammoth trips again, I’ve just heading out pointing the bike in there a direction you don’t know where you’re going to be doing away again with that night. I’m looking forward to doing those kinds of trips again. Actually, not not just no planning. Nope, no, just heading out and because that’s what I did. I just went out and just just cycled off and didn’t know where I was gonna go. And

Jack Thurston 1:08:41
months on end, or how long are you going?

Carlton Reid 1:08:43
I went for two years. So I started in before university I was gonna do I was gonna do politics, in fact, jack and then I did a year of cycling around the Middle East and thought I’m not going to politics. And I spend another year of cycle touring again rounded bit, the Middle East bit of America did an awful lot of touring for two years, basically, just just pointing the bike and just just going, which was fantastic. And I’ve always harked after that doing that, again of not having any, any worries. But like you, I’ve got kids, but unlike you, my kids are quite a bit older. So I am I’m probably not too many years away of being able to do that kind of cycle touring again, if I can interest my wife

Jack Thurston 1:09:34
into it. Yeah. Well, that’s the thing would you do would you just leave her on her own or would you go with her or she would go with you?

Carlton Reid 1:09:40
Well, she’s before we were married. I took her to Iceland. And we did an incredible trip into the interior of Iceland, in which it was perpetual daylight you had to get from campsite to campsite, you couldn’t just do the wild camping. You were saying that before you had to get to an official camp. So you were having to cycle for 1921 hours a day to cycle through Europe’s only desert. Which was why, you know, the older Sandy rose in Iceland. And that could have actually finished our relationship there. And then, but I discovered that she was incredibly tough and she was able to do these amazing bike rides that I was making her do. So she’s a keeper. So I would say I would, I would do those bike rides with with her at some point, but she’s a doctor. So it’s kind of difficult for her to, to take long career breaks.

Jack Thurston 1:10:37
Yeah, I mean, I think there’s an interesting thing about how you can and maybe it’s a little bit like Alistair Humphries and his idea of micro adventures. Can you get a certain amount of what you get out of a big trip in a shorter trip? And how do you go about doing that? And I think for me, I’ve been thinking I’ve flown a lot on aeroplanes for work and I feel like I don’t really want to be flying

for my leisure

you know, I just thought it’s a personal decision and I’m not preaching to anybody else. I just don’t feel like that’s what I want to be where I want to be at. So I’m I’m kind of feeling like okay, so it’s gonna if I’m gonna fly around the world I’m really good at cyclorama after wonder wonder wonder about the Atlantic and the Pacific but I’m pretty much sort of committed to cycling from where I can get to by train or boat. But that gives me a huge amount of scope. I mean, Europe is Europe is is continental Europe, Ireland. I’d love to go there Scotland. There’s a lot of places I like to go and I do feel like I get a lot of the benefits from from even like a week or two weeks. trip I think so I’m so I’m more thinking of I’d love to cycle across France you know just from Cali or salmon Oh to the Mediterranean coast you know that would just be a nice thing I love nice thing to do so

Carlton Reid 1:12:14
let’s get into the future. I don’t get into the future are you gonna be doing sort of interrupting their day but are you going to be doing lost lanes from a reading loss lanes Ireland lost lanes Scotland. What’s a I’m not going to give too much away. But what is your future in guidebook, Mike?

Jack Thurston 1:12:29
Well, no. I’m happy to happy to say I mean I should be out now. This is the prime time of year May and June the countryside looking at its best, nice long days. I should be out doing loss lane central England, which is the next book. But I am which, you know takes in the Cotswolds takes in the Peak District by my definition, I drew a fairly high line for what is the North. I know it’s a topic of endless debate. Where does the North start, but I wanted to have this much great cycling in northern England that the further south you draw the line that, you know, the less there is to go around it or the less rides to go out or whatever, I’m not expecting that myself clearly, you know, the rides are gonna be even more sparse than they already are. And they’re, you know, the great regret I get with any of these books is that I didn’t do a right there. I didn’t do it right that I didn’t do a ride from Durham, up in to the north Penn lines that that should have been in there but then I would have had to lose one of the rides, you know, so I wanted to draw the line up there. So I’d have I could have a really good chunk for mid the Midlands, central England, whatever you want to call it, that we’re taking the Cotswolds. We’re taking the Peak District and the taking them off and hills sort of the border right up to Wales. I’m not quite sure where the eastern line will be drawn and whether it would last lanes east

or not, whether there’s a mileage and

Carlton Reid 1:13:55
you’ve still got a fair bit more theory goes got a fair bit in England in effect together. Before you even need to get to friend,

Jack Thurston 1:14:02
yeah, and then I think you’ll be Scotland will be will be next. And I don’t know how you divide up Scotland because I think it would be ridiculous. I mean, I’m creating a hostage to fortune here on time, I think it would be very difficult to do like one book on the whole of Scotland, unless it was maybe a bigger book with like 50 rights rather than

Carlton Reid 1:14:22
just just the borders, you could do some amazing amazing book just orders nevermind Scotland as a whole.

Jack Thurston 1:14:28
But the problem is, the more specific a book gets in terms of geography, that the less sales there are really, and you know, I sales is what makes it a question of whether it’s viable or not. And I feel like I lost lanes France would be, I mean, you know, you couldn’t do the whole country. I mean, you’d need multiple books to do France. And then, and actually, my publishers do have a really nice book about cycling in France called frazzle fellow which is basically about one route from from some hello to nice I think. And they are there they’re actually the couple who wrote that rather tour company called Saddle Skedaddle, I think and they they I think they’re up nearby nearby you actually about a mile a

Carlton Reid 1:15:21
About a mile and a half from where I am. And I saw the other day in lockdown. I even saw them in lockdown. Yes.

Jack Thurston 1:15:28
So yeah, they they have a well established touring routes that they guide and they thought they would make a book about it. I think the sales of that have been okay. I don’t think they’ve been quite up to last Lane’s levels. So it’s really trying to come up with a book that would, you know, meet the test of sales, and it’s do and it’s doable, really. I mean, I’m very interested in the whole off roading sort of research it’s in, in sort of light mountain biking, I can call it that Which is what crap gravel biking is. I mean, on the one hand, I’m slightly irritated that this whole new idea of gravel biking has come along because it’s basically just riding on on sort of rough tracks and we’ve been doing that forever or forever they’ve been bicycles, but I do love gravel bikes and I think that gravel bikes are the bikes that most people you know, going for a day out should be riding as opposed to a as a road bike because it just gives you so much more safety on the road. And and it gives you so much more potential to ride different kinds of flexibility. I’m, yeah, I mean, I’m writing I’m writing a bike with 38 one bike, it’s got 38 mil tires and one bikes got 47 606 50 B 47. And I’m mostly riding it on the road. And it feels so safe. You just feel like you’re never did. You’re never gonna lose grip. You’re never gonna fall off. And I know I’m probably not gonna fall off anyway because I’m quite experienced cyclist but I think lots of people do have little pranks and and things don’t nades and lose lose grip on the road. So the idea that recreational cyclists should be riding the same kind of bikes that Tour de France people are riding it’s just madness is just the yes madness and so gravel bikes give an alternative to the touring bike for people who don’t want to be carrying lots of stuff, but still want to do a lot of varied cycling There you go. You’ve got gravel bike, any carton,

Carlton Reid 1:17:32
I have a Specialized Diverge that Specialized very kindly lent it to me for a variety of projects before the lockdown and then because the lockdown here they said, I’ll call it and we can actually collect it, keep it for the duration of the lockdown, just like fantastic. I’ve got this bike for months and months. So yes, I’ve got a gravel bike that I’m using. Yeah, I’m with you on that jack in that I am using That far more than I’d use a road bike, certainly in lockdown, because you can get Oh, you know, you can do lots more different flexibility. So I do a lot of railway paths, and then I come off the rails. And then if I if there’s too many people on there because there are a lot of people walking on this very present moment, and I go, Well, this will go on the road. You know, I’ll just do this stretch, you know, on what was formerly an incredibly busy dual carriageway. Well, I can now ride on that because there’s no cars, and then it just gives you that flexibility of doing the dirt track and the dual carriageway with the same bike. And that’s Yeah,

Jack Thurston 1:18:36
yeah, really obviously, you could you could you could ride your mountain bike on a dual carriageway, but it just wouldn’t have the same sense of a lamb and spirit toward it. You know, going along with knobblies I mean we do this is another thing we were talking at the beginning wherever you about light crew and stuff. And then once once we start geeking out about different kinds of bikes, and what bike you need to do this and what bike you need to do that. You’re amazing. putting off your general public who basically just go into a bike shop and like pick a bike up and go, I want the lightest one. And like I said, just kind of that that whole mentality is just is so pernicious, isn’t it? You see, so I meet so many people and in fact readers or readers of my books, who have taken up cycling and have bought rode bikes because they’re light and maybe because the bike shop had a lot of road bikes in and then they let they let their on a little section like a two mile section of bridleway on my on the route that I’ve given them in the book. And they’re like, Oh, it was muddy, and oh, our tires got stuck and we’ve got mud in the brakes and all that. And I I try to be sympathetic. And I don’t say I wish you hadn’t bought that bike but I do wish they hadn’t bought that bike. I wish they bought a gravel bike or you know, touring bike,

Carlton Reid 1:19:53
old fashioned touring bike is what they are really in many respects. You’ve got the clearance. You’ve got the mud guard islets you equip them with all of the racks even though that’s not the standard thing now you got to be bike packing not not rack riding now, but they are very much of that 1950s rough stuff fellowship I yeah, I mean touring is in terms of

Jack Thurston 1:20:16
what, in terms of what you can do, yes, but they are a lot lighter in terms of slinging them over your shoulder, I think the the feeling of riding them and this is what I like about the bike that I’m I’m writing is that it’s got a sort of tour touring bike wheels or even bigger than touring bike wheels and tires rather, and but the kind of riding position and feel of a liveliness of a of a road bike. It’s that sort of, it’s the best of both worlds in a way because a touring bike when it’s unladen can feel like unnecessarily, sort of lead and people do like that excitement. I have

have a little bit of a twist a little bit of twitch in the bike.

Carlton Reid 1:21:04
So do you have a bike that you research your books with? Or a you? You have a quiver as they say a quiver of bikes, and you’ll just choose that one for the that particular route.

Jack Thurston 1:21:17
Well, I I’ve written a succession of basically steel audax type touring bikes. None of them have been quite right for me, for one reason or another, but they’ve always been like secondhand bikes that I’ve sort of built up myself or whatever. I had a little flirtation with Moulton’s, but that was a while ago. But no, the new bike is a bike built by my friend Richard Hallett who is a former cycling journalist and I’m sure you’ve heard him work with technical editor of Cycling Weekly who lives in West Wales. So not too far from me. And it’s a frame builder first learned to build build frames and building some lovely bikes and so he’s built me a version of him. His model, which is called the 650. b adventure. So it’s a quite, it’s quite traditional in the sense that it’s got rim brakes. And it’s got, it’s got low gears, it’s steel. It’s got a front handlebar bag, like a traditional French style. It’s kind of like a French randonneur type bike.

Yeah, but I’ve also got a bike, like more of a, like

a, you know, a, that’s a hand built

bicycle, which, you know, cost cost me a fair bit. And so I don’t like to just sort of thrash that around all winter. And so I do have a bike which is a disc brake bike, with chunky big tires that I ride in the winter. So yeah, but I’ve got a lot of I’ve got too many bikes, Carlton.

Carlton Reid 1:22:55
No, Jack, there’s no such thing please, please. disabuse yourself of that notion. There is no such thing as too many bikess. So where can people buy the book? So let’s let’s plug where people can buy the book, Jack?

Jack Thurston 1:23:12
They can buy it from me.

I’m selling it directly and this response has been amazing. So I will sign it for you with with my autograph or dedicate it to you, if you’d like that, or if you want to give it to someone else. I’ll dedicate it to them. You can there’s a way of letting me know about that on the website. So the web shop is at last but it’s also available on on the online. I mean, this is a terrible time to be launching a new book because all the book shops are shut because of the lockdown. So I’m having to do a real push on direct sales. But Amazon have it Waterstones I think have it on their online store. You can get it as a Kindle book, and it’s half price. I think it’s like 7.99 on Kindle and it’s 16 pounds 99 The for the real the actual flesh and blood book or whatever, and I think I was gonna have it a bit of a bit of a bit of a discount as they usually do. And and and same with I’ve got all the all the other books are also available in all those sort of sources. If your independent bookshop is selling, it’s doing deliveries or whatever then

that they may have it they may have it or maybe I do get it in.

Yeah, I think people have really enjoyed looking at it and I thought this is gonna be terrible. How am I going to launch a book when there’s no press coverage has no, no travel features, they’re going to be about it. I’m not going to extract anything to the magazines and stuff. But I think it’s early days, but I think that people have really enjoyed in lockdown the chance to dream yet. The 300 that the rides that they’ll do when lockdown eases and And I think that you’re planning a bike ride is a great it’s a it’s a wonderful thing to do, isn’t it? It’s a wonderful it’s a wonderful thing to pull out in the maps and start researching things and with the internet you can do so much research at home you don’t have to go to the library anything.

I think planning i mean i i’d love to

Yeah, I’d love to hear what everyone is whatever whatever is planning. It’d be a great a great thing to know the kind of rides that people are wanting to do because when it’s only when something gets taken away from you, that you really value in in a in a new way isn’t it

Carlton Reid 1:25:38
so many years I wrote a guidebook and it was done by the from the saddle of a bike but it wasn’t a bike book and it was a guidebook to Lebanon and this is just straight after the the Civil War ended and I wrote went in there as a cycle tours rode around published a book and you never know who’s gonna be buying this you as soon as can be independent travellers, but when we actually She looked at the sales, most of them were to x pack Lebanese. And they were they were buying this guidebook to the country that they were born in. Because they hadn’t been back for many, many years. And because I took colour photography, they were using it as a way of of dreaming about their homeland, and how they would revisit one day. So I’m assuming your books certainly now right now, I mean, normally it might be something different, but now it’s gonna be Yeah, that that dreaming angle that I want to do this in the future and and and living vicariously through the pages of your book for their future. Yeah, I hope so.

Jack Thurston 1:26:48
I think it’s gonna be really interesting how Travel and Leisure travel is different in the age of Corona, and whether people won’t be able to fly long distances. Because it’s gonna be so much hassle, you know, the quarantine requirements of international travel are gonna make it very difficult. So people are going to have to be thinking about doorstep adventures, and what they could do in their backyard. And actually, one thing that I should I should sort of say about, about the books is that, sure, you can ride the routes that are in, in the books that I’ve done for you. And I’ve gotten, you’ve got the GPS files and the route sheets and all that that you can use to do exactly those routes. But what I’m trying to communicate through the books is a sort of way in which a way of thinking about cycling that will empower people to do their own planning and dream up their own roots do their own explorations and become their own sort of guide book writer in a way and and I think that is that is from what I can tell that has happened and I’ve done some talks. I did a talk at Stanford’s the map shop in London about the planning the perfect bike ride and how, how to get to grips with that sort of thing, because, you know, some some people it. Again, it’s one of these issues that for hardened, experienced cycle tourists such as you know, yourself and me, I suppose to a certain extent, it’s second nature to us as what we do we just get out the map and we go for it. And I think if you if you if you’ve grown up with maps, that the only maps you’ve ever really seen are Google Maps on your phone, then you really have no idea of like, how to plan satisfying, enjoyable and safe cycle tour. And so I think that there is a lot of discovery that people can do, particularly people who have been again, so digital natives who’ve been weaned on on Google Maps. There’s so much information that doesn’t contain there. It’s it’s not it’s not just about mapping but I love the idea. Have people adapting my routes or, or just coming up with their own rides in that style where it’s not about kings of the mountains. And it’s not about, you know, threshold blood values or whatever the whatever the sport people are into. It’s about exploration, that stopping and looking and feeling.

Carlton Reid 1:29:23
But to be fair here, and I’m not not knocking you here, but you’ve got Simon Warren there, who is talking to his guidebooks in there. In fact, guidebooks are talking about, you know, hill climbs, and people will cycle many, many miles to get to, you know, his 100 climbs. And people are just getting out there for that reason, so it’s still actually it’s touring. It’s just, it’s on a svelte road bike, but it’s still touring.

Jack Thurston 1:29:52
Yeah, it’s funny. I had a conversation with Simon Mottram, the founder and owner of or co owner, I don’t worry How much of a notes anymore of Rapha, a while ago and he said yeah that Jack basically what we all do is touring we just can’t call it that

Carlton Reid 1:30:12
it’s a good point

Jack Thurston 1:30:14
but they’re not they’re not how many people wearing Rapha are actually in bike races

you know where there’s a prize for the winner?

Carlton Reid 1:30:25
Yes if I if I’m saying I’m going out for a ride if I’m in my Lycra or I’ll say I’m going for a training ride is what I say but i’m not i’m actually going exploring and I’m going riding on a tour so yeah, it’s good point i’m not i’m not actually training because I’m not training for a race. I’m just using a bike to tour

Jack Thurston 1:30:44
Yeah, and no one want me to it’s funny because the Tour de France okay tour in the in the word in the phrase Tour de France is great. It’s a Tour de France. It sounds appealing and exciting, but nobody wants to be a tourist. Do they tourists, tourists yucky nasty. people you know having vegan chips and and fizzy warm lager on the Costa Brava No, wants to be a tourist. We want to be adventurous. We want to be explorers, we want to be travellers. And so, you know, I think by cycle touring, unfortunately, it’s not it’s not it’s not got the the touring is not the tour of the Tour de France as in as in a journey. It’s the tour of the tourist, the tourism and and that’s a negative association. But I do I do worry sometimes that the what gets the media attention is people pushing themselves to the limit. And I don’t know that you necessarily always need to push yourself to the limit. I don’t know saying that. It’s wrong to push yourself to the limit, but it does seem as though that is the dominating way in which Cycling is presented. It’s either either sporting limits like tournament Racing that kind of thing, or it’s adventure limits. It’s like how, how many days? Can you ride without sleeping? Like, what hardships Can you endure on the crossing this desert? On a bicycle.

Carlton Reid 1:32:12
Isn’t that your previous show? Because you’ve just had Mr. Walker on, haven’t you? You’ve had Ian on there talking about his his long distance rides in which he is not getting any sleep.

Jack Thurston 1:32:28
And I did quiz him a bit about that about about, I mean, probably not as much as I should have done. I think he did. He did. He did give a good explanation of what the appeal is, and that he feels it’s really nice to have like a project and a kind of an event that he’s working towards, that gives him a sense of direction and a mission and an idea of, of going further than he can ever go before. But I think the people who do that sort of thing are are not the most not the majority of us. They are exceptional people, and we celebrate them and load them and crown them with laurels and, and all that kind of stuff and we admire them and we enjoy reading their exploits. But it’s, it’s, it doesn’t need to be that way. But yet that is what dominates. Because if you want to get attention for a bicycle ride in the media, it has to be something extreme. It has to be something that’s never been done before a first or it has to be you know, you’ve got caught by a attacked by a bear or, or some sort of hardship. And I don’t, I think you can just use the bicycle as a way of travelling. That is just the best way of travelling that there is. And I think that’s as simple as that. If that doesn’t sell newspapers unfortunately, and doesn’t get people you know, with massive Instagram followings or whatever, I don’t know. It doesn’t have to be extreme.

Carlton Reid 1:33:58

thank you. This in our heart of hearts.

I was gonna wrap the show up actually.

Jack Thurston 1:34:06
Yeah, no, no, no, go go grab the shirt without me blathering. No,

Carlton Reid 1:34:09
no, no, it’s fine. You’re a professional blatherer. That’s what you that’s what you do. Maybe you actually talked more about yourself on this show then then you’ve talked in previous shows. So if I’ve introduced people to your history, in politics and with farm subsidies in the EU, then then I’m very happy to have broadened people’s knowledge into jack. Thanks to Jack Thurston for a diverting couple of hours. His books really are sumptuous and inspiring, and I heartily recommend them. Don’t go listening to his podcast though. It’s awful. Yeh yeh I’m kidding — The Bike Show is great, really really catholic, in the non-religious sense, and I’m glad Jack is back in the game even if its only sporadic at the moment. This has been episode 243 [244 actually!!] of the Spokesmen Cycycling Podcast. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was bigging up the 200th episode of the show, and now we’re closing in on 250 episodes. Show notes and more can be found at The next episode — I hope — is with academic Rachel Aldred, the Metropolitan police’s Andy Cox and Greater Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner Chris Boardman. We had an issue with gremlins, and I’m waiting on a bit of audio repair from Chris. If that happens, I’ll get the show out to you as soon as possible. Meanwhile, get out there and ride.

April 16, 2020 / / Blog

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.

Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 243: Cycling Palestine with Sohaib Samara, Malak Hasan & Julian Sayarer

Thursday 16th April 2020


HOST: Carlton Reid

Sohaib Samara and Malak Hasan, co-organisers of advocacy group Cycling Palestine.

Travel writer and cycle tourist Julian Sayarer, author of “Fifty Miles Wide” a harrowing account of his recent cycling trips in Israel and Palestine, meeting with people on both sides of the divide.

TOPIC: Cycling in Palestine.


Guardian article “Why cycling in Palestine is an intensely political act.” article on Bethlehem’s e-bike tour and Banksy’s Walled-off Hotel.

Cycling Palestine on Facebook.

Gino Bartali’s secret heroism; Ran Margaliot and Israel Cycling Academy.

Tout Terrain bicycles.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 243 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast with me, Carlton Reid. This show was engineered on Thursday 16th of April 2020.

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 spokesmen. 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 show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:25
Those sounds are from Nablus, Palestine. I was there before the lockdown, researching articles for and The Guardian. The Forbes article majored on a new e-bike tour of Bethlehem that zips past Banky’s Walled-Off Hotel, and the Guardian article explored Palestine’s burgeoning bicycle scene. For that piece I interviewed Sohaib Samara and Malak Hasan, co-organisers of advocacy group Cycling Palestine. We met in Bethlehem and the first part of today’s show is the audio from that interview, with Malak translating Sohaib’s Arabic as we went along. The second half of the show is also Palestine-themed — I talked with travel writer and cycle tourist Julian Sayarer. He has a brilliant new book out today. “Fifty Miles Wide” is his often harrowing account of a number of recent cycling trips in Israel and Palestine, meeting with people on both sides of the divide. It’s an unavoidably political book — heck, even Palestinian recipe books drip with political commentary; food is from the land, and this land is bitterly contested as it has been for thousands of years. So, this isn’t an episode for the faint-hearted — there are some graphic moments, in both halves of the show. Before that long discussion with Julian, which we did over the internet, here’s Malak and Sohaib who I recorded in the foyer of Bethlehem’s Manger Square Hotel.

Malak Hasan 3:14
Sohaib and I work together most of the time, but he’s the founder of the group. And he’s the one who he’s like the mastermind behind the planning of the, the trips, the all the logistics. So I’ll answer the questions that I know about the group as as a media expert, okay. I like the sound of the person who’s usually in charge of like talking about the group and if there’s a specific question they want to ask him, then I’ll just translate and talk about it.

Carlton Reid 3:49
So, when, what year?.

Malak Hasan 3:53

Malak Hasan 3:55
Cycling Palestine is the fruit of the passion of few Palestinian young men who love to cycle there was no access. There’s no opportunity it’s not easy to get cycling gear because it’s expensive oh you just call and get it and there are no shops here like there are no shops that he can just go and buy a bicycle. But they in a way had like this idea and they got maybe used bikes and they would go out cycle because they love it. They would explore Palestine go to these unfamiliar roads maybe with no with not really the greatest infrastructure but still they would do it and they loved it so much and they enjoy it so much to the point where they decided that you know, maybe we should invite other people to come try this out with us because it’s so fun.

Carlton Reid 4:53
And is this sorry, is this Ramallah This is all Ramallah? Ramallah?

Malak Hasan 4:57
Yes, it’s all Ramallah. and in 2016 it was Sohaib and two other friends, they decided to start posting on Facebook and invite people to join the tours. And it was as simple as you know, we’re going to maybe in a Mullah surrounding areas who wants to join, we have like two, you know, extra bikes, and then, you know, two people would join and then they were able to get another bike and, and so on, you know, until at some point there were like 10 people joining the, the trips, including myself, and that’s how I came to, to know so hype. And then we we we sat down and we were thinking, how can we like make this thing more organised? And we can grow this as a movement because we know a lot of people, when they see us, they’re like, Oh, my God, this is amazing when they join, but we don’t know how. And then we decided to start something called cycling Palestine. Something that will include all Palestine, there’s no borders, no restrictions, no roadblocks. It’s everywhere, even though it’s a normal and slowly we became you know, we started To leave Ramallah go to the, you know, Jordan Valley go to Bethlehem go to Holly in Annapolis just to get to know people finding out new roads. And and you know, after four years we have over 3000 members who join us. Yes, I mean, not at the same time, of course in each like tour, but you would see them like come and go depending on their schedules of work and know if they have time or not. And we have over, you know, 12,000 followers on Facebook of people who actually either joined either want to join or they are really invested in the idea.

Carlton Reid 6:32
So is this only leisure or the some people then start cycling and maybe think oh, I’ll cycle to work or so how do you think it it is?

Malak Hasan 6:47
Yeah, it has been shown and investigated which to any norm model and the best tomato FNS I should hire. Remember, it’s Like leisure in a sense of, I mean, of course we have fun, but we really look at, especially now that we grew, we also like we not only grew in size, but we also grew in mind, we realised that biking is not just like a sport, it’s a really a tool for change. And now we cycled to tell people that you know, environmentally, it’s good, socially, it’s amazing. And also like economically if you don’t have money, you can get a bike and you can go anywhere. It’s a it’s the best icebreaker for us whenever we are on the road someone wants to talk to us know who we are. So for us it’s you know, it’s leisure Of course especially in in circumstances where there is no a lot of like there’s there’s not many like outlets for Palestinians to you know, I don’t know like go to the beach or like have fun. So we’re like exploring the untouched areas, the roads, which usually we don’t usually go to to walk, you know, and so we cycle so for us now, a lot of people have adopted this as a lifestyle. They go to work on bikes. We have a lot of athletes who, you know, decided to become like professional cyclists with the minimum resources. I mean, you’re talking about bikes that are not like, you know, competitive or like professional bikes, but they want to become athletes. They cycled, you know, everyday to train with. In 2000. It had the struggle. In 2019, we actually the the cycling Federation became active, which is very late in the world of cycling. But that’s this was kind of a result to this leg growing phase that we’ve helped create. When they saw that more people are cycling more people are interested in this. So yeah.

Carlton Reid 8:45
In we’ve been in Jericho. Yeah. And there’s actually quite a few people cycling in Jericho for transport. Yeah, on electric bikes, mainly. Yeah. But in other places in Palestine, it’s maybe less because of the hill. Huh so what’s what’s the is Jericho is flat. Is that the reason why why does Jericho have more people riding?

Malak Hasan 9:07
Yeah. Is that like

Malak Hasan 9:09
between 50 and 100? Shakib? McIntyre Ah, good enough sorry. Yeah. So in truth carry on Qalqilya, which are two other governorates in Palestine they also have this like a cycling kind of phenomena. Like Jericho was also in Gaza. I’ve been to Gaza like few months ago for work, and they are Cycling is a big thing.

Carlton Reid 9:37
adults as well as children because children ride bikes, but is that the perception that it’s this is a children’s like, why are you doing a children’s activity?

Malak Hasan 9:47
So I think you know, here is where how I can explain this phenomena is that you cycle, not for leisure, but because you’re forced to in a way because it’s cheap. You can get a bike Put Like the bread and delivered Exactly. You don’t need the gas, you don’t need them, you know, fixing it is so easy. And also, you know, because of the fact that Jericho is flat makes it the ultimate really cheap alternative. But when you go to the other, you know, districts or the cities because it’s very hilly. No one is, you know, willing to go through that. But also, there’s a problem, you know, so heidemann, for example, found when he started Cycling is that the comments of the people were always like, they always told him, why are you cycling? You’re an old man. Now you should be thinking about like starting a family having babies, you know, working. This is stupid. Don’t do that. And so there’s this like, mixed like contradicting perception of cycling, but do you want me like you can only cycle if you’re poor and you need transportation and do delivery, but you cannot cycle if you’re an old man, and you should be working. You know what I mean? So if you

Carlton Reid 10:55
have a Mercedes or if you have a good car, you should not be on a bicycle.

Malak Hasan 10:59
Yes. I mean, you Obviously fooling around, and it’s to and even the girls like, I mean, it’s different. So for boys and girls, they start riding their bikes, you know, they get their first like small bike, you know, with, with the with the with the with the colours and everything. But you reach a point where as a girl, it’s no longer acceptable to be on a bike. That’s maybe a bit later for a man for a boy. But at some point, you have to be serious about studying about work about what you want to do in the future. That’s it.

Carlton Reid 11:26
So that one my next questions was going to be about this the status of bicycling with women. Yeah. And how different that is for compared to a man. So maybe it’s slightly more acceptable. It’s considered strange, but acceptable. Yeah. But for a woman. It’s strange and not acceptable. So how have you tackled that?

Malak Hasan 11:46
Yeah. So so maybe he can tell you first about his experience as a man because I think it’s it’s a bit of a misconception in our perception that men don’t have any troubles with cycling. They do. But it’s different than Great woman so maybe he can tell you keep sure what our climate tonight escalatory machaca Mr. meyen

Malak Hasan 12:05

Malak Hasan 12:08

Malak Hasan 12:10

Malak Hasan 12:18
So he says,

Malak Hasan 12:20
basically the the comments, the main comments he always hears is like, Don’t you want to grow? You know, when are you going to grow up? Come on, you need to grow up, get a life. But recently since we’ve been doing this for over, you know, four years now people kind of lost openness. They’re like cause there’s no way they will change their mind they can, you know, be continued to cycle and they’re now accepting it more. As for me, I think the the challenges were way, way way more complicated because you’re not only doing something that is perceived as a as like as a game or like as as a toy or like as a way for kids to play. It was a way to break free from society’s you know, traditions, even religious misconception that it’s religiously unacceptable or forbidden. So, because I’m visibly Muslim so when I’m always on the bike people are always throwing comments in my face and how could you be a good Muslim and also like be showcasing yourself or like exhibiting your body on the roads. For example, the my friends, my cyclists, friends, the men would be more it would be easier for them to embark on these amazing challenges and adventures. Because no one will be asking where this man is sleeping. Where is he going? Is he alone? Is he going to be fine but for me because most of the men, the cyclists that are men, us the women the small number will not be able to have the same freedom to join their their adventures like doc trip. We went off copy we were nine Guys and two girls. And when we came back most of the comments were like How could you be sleeping like intense and on the roads deserted road with like nine other men? So I think it’s a combination of religious Of course it’s not like accurate no foundation for it because it’s traditional. It’s, I think social, like expectations of a woman to be at home take care of the babies be decent and modest. And it’s a kind of, in a way in their mind, it contradicts with being a cyclist as well.

Carlton Reid 14:32
So that’s the Muslim point of view. Yeah. Do you have Christians is this like, you doesn’t matter who you are? what religion you are. It’s the bicycle. That is the mix. There’s the thing that keeps you together, or is that song for some sort of segregation here on religious lines?

Malak Hasan 14:57
Should I know

Malak Hasan 15:02
Well, Yanni, what they said exactly like I think I tell you a story. And so you will be able to understand that at the end of the day, it’s not religion as much as society, Christian Muslim, even like Jewish, if you live in a society you will adopt the same ideas. For example, the other day I was shopping for like a new apartment from my my friend, she colleague, she came here to palisade from Germany, we were looking for a new apartment for her. And the guy who was renting he’s a Christian. And so we got to talk. And his daughter was there and I told him about my cycling, you know, work with my friends. And the girl she hooked me and she was like, please send my father that I want to you know, ride a bike, he wouldn’t let me and then I was like, what I mean, you you you’ve been like telling me about how amazing my work is. He works with this like NGO. You’ve been telling me about how amazing my work is a cycling and then you won’t let your daughter cycle and he was like, Yeah, because I don’t want society to attack her. I was like, but doesn’t matter if we continue to listen to society. You, nothing will change. And that was actually very recent that I thought it doesn’t really matter. You know, what is your religion? What is your background, if you live in a society, you want to confirm, you want to be a part of them and you want to avoid being attacked. And this is what makes the difference between someone who wants to make a movement or like, create a movement or someone who just wants to follow the lines, you know,

Carlton Reid 16:22
to all back Christians in your group.

Malak Hasan 16:25
Yes, yes. So,

Malak Hasan 16:26
there’s no it’s just it’s just the cultural barriers, not religious barriers.

Malak Hasan 16:31
No, no, no, definitely, I think in Palestine. And I think they both agree that in Palestine, religion has never been a dividing force. I know there are the cases here and there. But I can definitely tell you that I would never come to you in the street and ask you what is your religion? I’ve worked with colleagues for years before like realising that they come from like a different like sect or religion like it’s not like in other parts of the Arab world like in say, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq. It’s never been I’m like a defining factor in our relationships. But of course, there are like these exceptions here and there.

Carlton Reid 17:06
So put that another way, does it actually help bring people together from different cultures, different religions? Because you are joining with something that is an overarching thing and you are coming together to share something together. And does that bring you together? More than if you just met in some other way?

Malak Hasan 17:31

Malak Hasan 17:40

Carlton Reid 17:46

Malak Hasan 17:49
when I want to talk about differences, religion does not come to my mind as maybe something that cycling has helped, like bring together in our case. Maybe because you know, in Palestine we have Christians and Muslims it’s never been an issue. And we never really asked anyone in our groups if they’re like Krishna we don’t even know like it’s never been something that we talk about. But I think when when we’re talking about like bringing people together, I have other maybe considerations. So we help as I told you like, we helped bring the breadwinner who lives in a tent with the with the with the sheep and has a different lifestyle, different even accent. So as maybe somewhere on Facebook, or maybe a service industry decided to join us. And now they’re cycling with a person who studied in their like a fancy school, in Ramallah. In my case, someone who started in an unknown school in a village. We also had the refugees come, I think we also had the religious conservative, join us and also mingle with someone who is very liberal, have these like even conversations along the way, and then you will see that this religious or conservative person is no longer having an issue with me as A woman being on a bike, you would see that eventually we’ll be also talking on Facebook if someone tried to attack me who would defend me as a, as a, as a human, because he knows who’s black is. He knows that he’s my he’s my friend now, regardless of what religion in his mind says. So I think yes, that’s and this is why we do this for four years, you know, has been doing that. And I’ve been doing this for four years, cycling has been really the most effective social tool, you know, for change. Because as I told it’s an icebreaker, people are really intrigued when they see us, they want to know what the hell we’re doing. And they just want to be part of this. And so I think we have leverage with Viking that we are thinking when we think about the future, we believe in that it’s going to be a major, a major turning point for Palestinians if we continue to use cycling to to bring change, you know what I mean?

Carlton Reid 19:54
So we’ve talked about the complications of culture, religion,

Carlton Reid 19:59
yeah, sex.

Carlton Reid 20:00
Yeah, add in the complication of where you live. Yeah. So you are under occupation. And you cannot go everywhere you’d maybe want to go because of the ABC situation. So. So how does how does that complicate things on top of all those other complications?

Malak Hasan 20:21
I think Sohaib would be the best person to answer this question because he’s had amazing stories encounters and problems with that in that regard. So I’ll just translate by luck and he can … [Arabic]

Malak Hasan 20:46
So just for context, he’s a paramedic. As a job. He tells me a story to try to answer a question of how difficult it is to do anything, I think, I think in Palestine But mostly to be like a cyclist. Because you as you know, a cycling you have to go on roads and most of the good roads are the settler roads we call them the ones by Israel which means they’re under like heavy Israeli control there are patrols on the road. And so he tells me a story to kind of to give you some kind of sense into how how difficult and dangerous sometimes it could be. He was with his friends with his friends without when they started cycling and so they were taking this bypass road into like a main. We call them separate roads because it’s they’re usually used by the settlers in the West Bank. And then they were stopped or pulled over by by a patrol and next to a gas station. They were asking them who you are and what you’re doing here. And so when they realised they were Palestinian because most of the time we mistake as as foreigners because there are not a lot of Palestinians who cycle they took them behind the gas station. They asked him to take over in the details of their vests. And to take off their helmets they took them aside with the with the with the bikes. And because so hype speaks some Hebrew he heard them say if they should shoot them in the foot or maybe in the arm like they were like taunting them in a way. And that was in a time where there were a lot of stabbing kinds of incidents against Israelis was a very tense period. And I asked him if you were afraid, he was like, I was not really afraid for myself because then a day if I’m gonna die that said, I’m gonna die I could die anywhere. But he was very worried that if this escalates in a way if he tries to defend himself or like to tell them like there are no grounds for you stopping me and treating me like that, they could easily shoot him treat him in a different way like arrest him and if they eventually killed him for example, they can say that he was posing you know, danger to them and then eventually they will blow up his family’s house. And, and you can see like how you’re brain starts like to go No wonder in dark places while you really just want to go cycling. And for me this is also the same Jani the other day, we were going to the another Jordan Valley on a bike actually it was last Friday. We were also like interrogated on the road by the Israeli soldiers. Even though we were not doing really anything, we’re just waiting on the side of the road for the rest of the group to join us. And so they came. And what I always say to people, that I have no problem being nice to anyone. But sometimes it feels a bit difficult to be nice to someone who’s not treating you in a nice way. But you feel like you have no other option but to say thank you to someone who’s occupying you. Thank you for someone who’s just taking your idea for no reason someone was even not willing to tell you have a good day when you told them like Have a good day because you’re always worried about what’s going to happen if I tick them off the wrong way. You know what I mean? So we’ve always been pulled over Israeli soldiers sometimes even the checkpoints we cannot just cross we arrived in a place where there’s a checkpoint and we have to go back so it seems like there’s always it’s never been free will will never be free but we always try to see the good side in it at least we are trying to do something nice

Carlton Reid 24:18
so difficult question yeah. Could Israelis be a part? I mean is Israeli soldiers doing their job they’re stopping you that’s not good. That’s not nice. But could an ordinary Israeli could they join cycling Palestine? Would they want to join psycho Palestine? How do you think they think about Palestine? Yeah.

Malak Hasan 24:43

Malak Hasan 24:45

Malak Hasan 25:00
So I’ll give you his opinion. And then also like explain more from my side. He tries to sums it up in few words, every Israeli is was will be a soldier at some point. And we cannot judge anyone. But if they did not do anything bad to me now, they might do something bad to someone else without any grounds. And it makes it difficult to have faith and trust in in someone when you know that they’re kind of what is the word they are part of occupation. They’re standing still not doing anything approving something that is as bad as that. And so this stands of a moral dilemma for us in how we even we know that they’re amazing Israelis beautiful, doing amazing things to humanity. I cannot say you know, that every Israeli is bad. Like I can’t say that every Palestinian is good. But it makes it difficult for me as a Palestinian, as both, you know, to Palestinian educated, open minded, peace loving Palestinians to accept Israelis when we don’t know for sure that there are also against, you know, crimes against humanity. They are not against injustice, they’re not against like occupation killing innocent people, blockading people in Gaza. So it makes it difficult for me. And regarding other question about, well, they want to join I don’t think most of them will want to join either because they don’t you know, because they have political reasons, of course, or because the Israeli government is doing great work in like increasing propaganda against Palestinians, you know, creating this idea of the other who is like we’re just waiting for the SEC the right moment to shoot you and kill you. I mean, you’ve seen on the way all these like way Like billboards or like red signs that says, you know, it’s dangerous to go into these areas? Well, I know many Israelis and I have Israeli friends and I even know it like Israeli journalists who come and go every single day. Unless if you want to go there and provoking people, you might be hurt, of course, because it’s a very tense, you know, reality. But other than that, it’s not like the zombies are living on the other side. You know what I mean? I think, what I always see these like red signs, I’m like, yeah, it’s as if there are the zombies living on the other side, and they’re like warning them from the other. And so your question has many layers, but I think for now,

Malak Hasan 27:40
it’s not

Malak Hasan 27:43
in line with our maybe side of the story of like narrative, to welcome Israelis unless those are explicitly saying that we are against occupation. We’re not going to live in a in a village. That was destroyed in 1948 when maybe my father My grandfather was living there, someone who is like I know a lot of Israelis who refuse to come to Israel, because they’re like, unless there is no just solution for Palestinians, we cannot be part of this. So I think it really, it was really the electorate depends on the case.

Carlton Reid 28:17
Do you think if I came out here as an independent cycle terrorist, I would be welcomed the same way I was welcomed in the 1980s.

Malak Hasan 28:27
Even more, even more, okay,

Malak Hasan 28:29
I mean, Sohaib, and just to translate and keep lohaib in the conversation [Arabic]

Malak Hasan 28:44
And also that if you were able to send a really great message when you came cycling, like way back, you had an impact in a way and if you come again, and people always like, welcome someone who is willing to say things the way they Are and also support their rights to just live a decent life. So Palestinians I think even though we have like poverty, we have a lot of, you know, social problems, but we are very educated and we have come to understand the power of international support and solidarity. So if you walk into the West Bank, I swear you can get you’re going to be like, maybe too overwhelmed with, with with the respect and with with the, with the with the support and people wanting to have you in their homes because people have realised that any person who comes to Palestine will maybe be a better voice in Sending out a message because no one trusts us any more. Like even if I want to say to any delegation or anyone that we are under occupation will be like, yeah, you say that, but if someone from outside comes in, sees what’s been happening and sends out a message will be heard better. It’ll be more credible in a way from coming from a white man, like a journalist is like, no. So yeah, I mean, people understand A bet and they will welcome you even more.

Carlton Reid 30:02
Okay, yeah, you, me so you had a background in Swansea, which you that’s where you found cycling. So tell me about what you’re doing in Swan z and how you are riding out to the coast and that’s how you fell in love with cycling. I’ve done some research.

Malak Hasan 30:19
Yeah, yeah, obviously, [Arabic]

Malak Hasan 30:30
yeah. Well, I mean, my story is, I think I’ve told the story before but in a nutshell. I’ve always loved sports. I was born in the UAE did a lot of sports, karate, no dance floor, swimming, but then came back here. It was, of course, a very tense situation after the you know, Intifada. There were roadblocks, curfews. So was kind of denied this opportunity to continue with my sports life and Thankfully, because of my line of work, I was journalists, you know, I speak English. So I had a lot of opportunities to travel. And everywhere I go, I would just always get a bike and cycle so I kind of kept my love for biking abroad. But when I went to Swansea, the first thing I did was buy a bike a square, like I went to this used bike shop and it was like, I need a bike. I don’t care what kind of bike remember, it was like black and green. And he called my, you know, then fiance now my husband and I told him I got a bike. It’s like 70 pounds, you know? And he was like, well, that’s great, you know, and they started right. My husband Yeah, yeah, No, he doesn’t. Okay, he doesn’t right now. I mean, I took him to Jordan wants to try biking in like a safe environment because he is convinced this is not safe here. And then he was like, No, this is not for me, but he’s very supportive. Yeah, anyway, so yeah, I kept biking and I swore I would bike like hours every day and then just felt so free, because I would like feel so overwhelmed. Well, Studying in everything and then get on a bike and feel very relaxed. And then when I came back here I wanted to go back to biking but I was so terrified of people like attacking me all the time. And they stopped biking for a long time, you know, maybe for six, maybe even nine months, until I found so hype at the time that that’s taking back to the slick elite bikers like professionals in Palestine when you try to join this like biking community, it’s very exclusive because Who are you to join us on this amazing adventure? When you have no background in mountain biking? Like no one was welcoming enough of me as a woman. I have no background. I have no equipments, no bikes what I’m gonna do, and so also rejected or even ignored by those who I contacted, but then I contacted so I was like, Yeah, please come and we met each other, went on a bike and never stopped again. It’s amazing

Carlton Reid 32:56
that you’re doing journalism in Swansea?.

Malak Hasan 33:00
Media practice and PR. Yes.

Carlton Reid 33:02
Okay, it’s a long way when what year was that?

Malak Hasan 33:04
was in 2013 14

Carlton Reid 33:07
Okay, and then what are you doing now here

Malak Hasan 33:10
I worked as a freelance journalist for a long time, Al Jazeera their weekly in London that some you know work for the forwards in the US I’ve been doing a lot of stuff but then I I realised that I can just possibly like focus too much on like freelancing because I mean you know, media is very difficult you have to be always on the run it’s not enough money. So I decided that if I want to like dedicate my life also for sports, I need to find a better job so I found like an NGO but paying you know, job and you have to kind of, I think in Palestine, everyone has to sacrifice a part of themselves. Because I’m an economy’s economy’s bad and everything is bad, but I, I just love that we are biking together, and I feel like I’m doing something even if it’s not like journalism, which I absolutely love.

Carlton Reid 33:55
Yeah, so clearly there are some places as possible. Indian you can’t go in your homeland so where can you I guess the settler communities you can’t go yeah but other like you know trails which you would absolutely love to go but it’s maybe too dangerous for you to go or you can you can do parts of it but not the whole of it what’s Where can you not go and where would you like to go

Malak Hasan 34:23
okay so aside because he’s experts in trails, but as I like to [Arabic]

Malak Hasan 34:33

Malak Hasan 34:34

Malak Hasan 34:38
Yep. So he says that he of course would love to go all over the West Bank but the problem and if you’re familiar with the map, you can see it’s basically like a, you know, like Swiss cheese at the moment. So, between Every valley and another Valley, there’s a settlement. If you want to like Hi, let’s say cycle for I don’t know 15 kilometres, you will be faced with at least two checkpoints and settlement maybe another like surveillance tower patrols. So in a way there’s the continuities always broken for a sport that is based on long you know distances and and space, which has always been a problem for us because so for them as the guys who are into mountain biking usually what they do is they do special, very exclusive trips because it’s not safe but they will still would love to do it. So maybe they will go into this like forced, you know, forced area cycle. It’s a settler, you know, maybe trail usually Israelis or their soldiers, they would do it try to disguise themselves as maybe foreigners, but they don’t do that much because it’s not safe and they would not never take other Palestinians and be responsible for their safety. So for example, I’ve never been on these like, special like mountain trails because it’s just not that safe. He sometimes goes on When he really needs that like, like, you know, rush, you know biking rush. But as as he mentioned, this has been a problem. And so that’s why we’re always confined in the roads between villages. Or in worse worst case scenarios, we hit the main roads, the settler roads, but these are usually just for a small portion of the road to be able to arrive into the other village on the other side.

Malak Hasan 36:25
Yeah. Okay. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 36:27
Thank you very much for coming here. And then talking to me.

Malak Hasan 36:34
It’s a pleasure. It’s been fantastic. Thank you.

Malak Hasan 36:35
Yeah, really good. We would have loved to actually have you with us. You know, bike. I wish if you if you stayed longer, we would have liked taking you to this really nice trails called the [Sugar Trail]. The Sugar trail in the Jordan Valley area, you know, it’s a beautiful trail. I think you will appreciate it.

Carlton Reid 36:55
Mybe sometime after lockdown ends I’ll get back out to Palestine — I’d love to ride the Sugar Trail, maybe on a gravel bike. Thanks to Malak and Sohaib there, and sorry for the background noise but it was a busy hotel foyer, you know, when hotels used to be open. Anyway, because we’re still on lockdown and people maybe have more time than usual to listen to podcasts this episode is a long one. But before I play the audio with round the world adventurer Julian Sayarer here’s my co-host David with a commercial interlude.

David Bernstein 37:39
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 Jensen is the place where you can get a great rates, selection of every kind of product that you need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices and what really sets them apart. Because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there. But what really sets them apart is their unbelievable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who 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 39:05
Thanks David and we’re back with a distinctly Palestinian flavoured episode of the Spokesmen Cycling podcast. And before I get complaints about partisanship — my Guardian article featuring Sohaiub and Malak got me labelled with some pretty hateful stuff on Israeli news sites — those wishing to complain may want to check on this show’s back catalogue. We’ve had episodes about the Giro d’Italia start in Israel, with David and myself recording audio from Jaffa and Jerusalem, and search out the episode with Israeli Ran Margaliot, a former pro cyclist and co-founder of Israel Cycling Academy and Israel’s Bartali Youth Leadership School. Anyway, let’s get on with today’s extended episode. Next up is Julian Sayrayer, author of “Fifty Miles Wide”, out today.

Carlton Reid 40:04
Julian, I have read your book. It is a fabulous book. I’m going to ask first of all, because I’m a writer, and in fact, we’re both. We’re both published authors on Israel, in fact, right. So that’s a bit of a strange one unique thing for us to be talking about. But first of all, I’d like to ask that there’s so much detail in the book. So I’m asking as a writer, how did you get is it from memory? Were you taking really copious notes? We’re taking photographs, and then you know, using that to describe, like, you were describing things like, you know, there’s a thistle of a certain colour in a certain part of, you know, a muddy road, and it’s just incredibly detailed. So how are you physically researching this when you’re there? On the ground?

Julian Sayrayer 41:01
It’s a good question I get asked that a lot. And I think I must just have been somewhat a little bit blessed as a travel writer to get a good memory. I mean, I take notes, written notes, which I think is also good for the memory to actually like write in a in paper with pen. I take a few photos by and large, and they don’t generally the things I’ve photographed, for the most part, haven’t much appeared in the book. I mean, the festival you talk about is very common at the roadsides of Palestine. And I remember the first time I was there, noticing just how vibrantly blue it was. And actually again, it’s funny that you pick that out because I do have one I pressed in one of my notepad, I have the pressed version of it somewhere. And so yeah, and I again, I just think that was a particularly vivid imprinting thing I think I saw the first one. I was like, Wow, what a beautiful colour. And then a few days later, I must have passed hundreds of them. So I think that that in particular is is one of the most common common Types of floor at the roadside. And other than that, yeah, I think I just must have a fairly good memory, it doesn’t feel quite as sharp as it used to. And things like dialogue, I find myself jotting down notes as people are speaking a little bit more than I did. But yeah, just

Carlton Reid 42:17
as my next question, because dialogue, clearly, you’ve got to get absolutely spot on, especially when you’re interviewing people, who will we’ll get on to and when we were in Cannes talking, you know, very, very prominent people in the Israeli peace process.

Carlton Reid 42:32
So are you recording them? Or you’re always doing notes

Julian Sayrayer 42:35
a couple of times. I’ve recorded I spoke with hip hop act in Ramallah, Harry, you know, as musicians were fairly used to the idea of an interview being recorded. And usually the negotiator I spoke with wouldn’t have been recorded. They were conversations over a while and I probably would have gone off after we’ve spoken and written down immediately, and paper and pen what was said, and then there’s He say because he’s quite a sensitive figure, institutional figure, and to some extent within Israeli negotiations over the decades. And so that’s one of the interviews where he got sign off, and which he hadn’t asked for in advance, but just as a courtesy to him in his, his standing, I am, I will show to, to, to be absolutely certain that he approved what was going out in his name. And he was I mean, obviously, I think in travel writing, and especially when you’ve got a political dynamic, you’re obviously doing nobody any favours unless you’re recording the Absolute Truth. I mean, it should sort of go without saying, but I guess in something like Israel and Palestine, so many parties to to greater or lesser extent, legitimately come to the table with a pre existing agenda. And I understand the reasons for that, but I think in terms of just recording with with absolute accuracy, people’s views and what you see is kind of a service in itself. Hmm.

Carlton Reid 44:06
So my book written many, many years ago in the 1990s, in fact, was a guidebook was the Berlitz guidebook to Israel, which I wrote straight after my university degree which actually in religious studies, which was handy. And that was a book that even though it was a general guide book, and it had nothing to do with bicycles whatsoever, I did the research for that book from the saddle of a bicycle, which is a good way of going into your book because it’s really such a small country. You can and Palestine is a small part of that part of the world. There is it’s easy to get basically if you’re a fit cyclist you can get to the from the from Alaska In the south, up to Haifa, and north in a day if you if you if you’re pretty fit. So your book is called 50 miles wide, which is basically alluding to that, that, that that smallness of this this part of the world that is actually massive in the news yet is tiny on the ground.

Julian Sayrayer 45:21
Yeah, absolutely.

Julian Sayrayer 45:24
It’s funny, we have another commonality there. And my first job out of university was also with berlitz, but as an English teacher in Istanbul.

Julian Sayrayer 45:32

Julian Sayrayer 45:34
But yeah, I mean, the bicycle as always, really is an amazing, it’s an amazing way to see anywhere I find. And especially a place that is the nature of the politics, the conflict, whatever we call it, the dispute is so rooted in the land. And the bicycle is such an impressive way of seeing that land, especially when it’s kind of beset with checks. points and rays of what I have. And obviously the the wall that Israel constructed to separate itself from Palestine and which divides, you know, Palestinian villages from their farmland and all kinds of things. The immediacy of the landscape in that way, I think, is is apparent in no ways more than than when you’re on a bicycle. And, and yeah, 50 miles wide, is it the title, I think when I was looking maps prior to my first visit, and realising literally how easy it was, sure, comparatively, it would be to cover the distances and you know, certainly the West Bank, and parts of it up towards Golan a very hilly So I think those those 50 miles as the crow flies can sort of like concertina out into sort of longer distances. But yeah, it’s very small. And I think that that kind of is reflected to an extent In the politics, if you kind of imagine something like a pressure cooker, which is maybe an unfortunate example, in some ways, but you know, villages and particularly Israeli settlements in in the occupied territories are all so close together. There is, in lots of ways very little space, even geographically for the tension and the trauma that accumulates with the attacks that go on or whatever. The space or the lack of space allows very, very little room for the buildup of tension to dissipate. So yeah, I think it’s a really massive part of it. And I do think from an external point of view, it’s kind of why geography and in some ways our lack of familiarity with the Middle East and the terrain of it becomes a problem in understanding these conflicts and its politics from the outside because it is, I mean, even me, I’m half Turkish, I know my mother hitchhikes around Israel in the 60s, I’d like to think that I, I know the Middle East to some fair degree, but still 50 miles wide when I first noticed that it’s Yeah, as you say, it’s it’s kind of striking. And then I think on some levels, it’s hard to understand an area in politics if you don’t understand its geography if you don’t necessarily understand even how it’s mapped reads. And then, as you mentioned, this the Middle East as a whole is an absolutely vast section of land. And often the the way that we reduce it down to very simple elements, whether that’s Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, you know, these countries are larger and more spread apart spread apart than Poland, Austria, Russia, UK, France, and it will seldom be expected for people to have a particularly insightful and the knowledge of the politics of all of these, all of so many European countries. Say, and yeah in the Middle East as often a sense that, you know, we can reduce the these millions, hundreds of millions of people and thousands of miles to their regimes flags and sort of political sort of situation that you can sum up in a sentence or two Hmm.

Carlton Reid 49:21
In the prologue. So I’m going to go into bicycles. This is a bicycle podcast, I’m going to absolutely I want to go into the next geopolitics. Travel right I want to go into all of that in this conversation but I would like to absolutely zoom into the end of the bicycle part of this. And then in the prologue you talk about arriving on a bicycle anywhere and I absolutely agree with this because I’ve certainly experienced it. You are treated as innocent so that’s what you say in there. You know, because if that bicycle is too many people is a is a plaything. It’s something that their children use and then somebody coming up you know arrived on a bicycle is is unclear. threatening says that you, you’ve definitely made that conscious decision you could have, you could have walked in Israel you could have driven around Israel with with Arab drivers, you can have all sorts of different things. But it was a very conscious decision to use a bicycle, because that is a signifier of unthreatening person, slightly, maybe odd person.

Julian Sayrayer 50:25
Yeah, it’s got that eccentricity factor for whatever reason. I mean, to me, you know, 11 910 11 years now, since I cycled around the world, I broke the world record for the circumnavigation. And actually, this whole point of the bicycle is innocence. I think there’s a moment on the Canadian US border on that trip, where the US border guards who said can sometimes be a little bit gnarly. We’re sort of you know, where were you going to Tijuana at that point? It’s like going to Mexico. Yeah, sure thing through you go. And I just remember on that instant that But it really sort of diffused any tension. And so the bicycle in lots of ways has always just been the way that I travel. It’s, it’s the go to way and, and then that the book in lots of ways started out Edinburgh Book Festival actually in talking with an Israeli author. And I mentioned, you know, my travel by bicycle and this idea that you see politics at the side of the road best of all on a bike and she’d kind of suggested Wow, I mean a bicycle, you’d really see the reality of Palestine and Israel

Julian Sayrayer 51:32
in very close quarters.

Julian Sayrayer 51:35
So I think that kind of planted the seed in some ways and so a mixture of that sort of external suggestion actually from an Israeli that I’d see the reality of Palestine very clearly by bicycle, my own you know, I grew up riding a bicycle really I was, you know, I was born in born in the well born in London grew up in the Midlands, in a pretty sort of post industrial malaria, and having a bicycle was absolutely my way of getting out of this quite unremarkable place. You know, from a small town to get in, even into the lanes of Leicester share, it was a sense of freedom. And I do think a bicycle kind of resonates to, you know, to all those who loves what it is to be on a bicycle and feel the wind on your cheeks and in your hair and pedalling and this sort of, you know, the motion and the grace in motion of just riding is such a kind of a pure form of travel, I think, to those that have known it. And then in some ways that kind of, you know, that physicality, even that very sort of sense of freedom isn’t in itself in in kind of stark contrast to a lot of the politics of Palestine, Palestine in particular, where you know, you’ve got cycling clubs and the guys can’t necessarily go bike rides because of military checkpoints, because you’ve got maybe Three checkpoints between Hebron and Jerusalem and so you know even little things like a road you know your average cycling club in the UK where you’re thinking about you know your wattage or your average speeds or your your total time or your personal bests. You know if you’ve got a grumpy conscript whose only Israeli teenager possibly having a bad day and deciding to make life miserable for you as you go for a bike ride, that whole sense of joy and the freedom of being on the bike that’s compromised. So yeah, the the bicycle in some ways is kind of is woven into that way of being in the land or, or the way that so many Palestinian cyclists I met talk about it equally, they still have this sense that riding a bicycle is amazing. And said there’s also that innocence as you say, but also this kind of universality of everyone kind of knows what it is to to ride a bike, you know that first memory you have when you first learn to ride a bike or that first time maybe you go for a bike ride that bit further than you have done previously and the way it resonates.

Carlton Reid 54:10
And in the book, you talk about the bicycle being a leveller for those. So the Palestinian cyclists, if they got tagged up in, in cycling gear, the Israelis would treat them almost as though they were Israeli because they look Israeli because they’ve got cycling gear on.

Julian Sayrayer 54:33
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it’s a funny one. This kind of assumption, if you’ve got your road bike and you drop handlebars, and you’re like, for maybe wraparound shades. Yeah, there’s just an assumption that road cycling is an Israeli thing, you know, with a good bike being an Israeli thing. So yeah, it’s fantastic. And again, really comes back to this idea of freedom that this assumption when you’re going up to a checkpoint that you’re probably Israeli if you’re on a decent budget. Jason gay means some Palestinians who don’t have the right to travel in, in what is essentially their own land, all of it from the river to the sea in some ways. Because all of that lunch should be free for people to move in. And they can kind of transcend those restrictions by being on a bicycle because of the strength of the assumption. There’s probably an alien, they just get word waved on through and say, to be speaking to policy, new cyclists from Hebron, which is, of course, right in the middle of the territory, and who have never seen the sea. And they they’d written to the sea Jaffa, in, you know, just south of Tel Aviv or up to Haifa even and then that kind of very emotional sense of journey of actually we get to go and see the sea. I mean, I’m sure there are some there are permits and you know, travel passes allow people to travel from the West Bank, into what is Israel territory in therefore go to the sea but the fact that there’s something that a little bit clandestine about the bicycle and that you can just sort of steal your way through I almost feel bad talking about in some ways because it was fantastic practice that obviously happens a little bit secretively and I need to do so

Carlton Reid 56:19
without can imagine it’s partly this like the MAMIL type factor you know it bicycling in this country and in Israel is partly you know a now an elitist thing to do so if you’re walking around and coming into checkpoints and you’re wearing what is considered to be elitist gear, then you’re gonna be waved through a bit more that there is lack of cycling being you know, very different for different class of people in in some respects, even though at exactly the same time. Cycling is for poor people. It really is. It confuses people because it just confound expectations.

Julian Sayrayer 57:03
Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, you know, maybe a Palestinian lad who works in a bike shop or in a in a hospital has to save more of his wages to buy this, you know, his team outfit that he wants to wear. Then you’re, you know, a stockbroker in Tel Aviv might, but he still loves I just as when I grew up, I really loved saving up some money and was really happy to get my United States Postal Service job jersey. And, you know, it still happens. And I mean, I think you’re right as well it sort of points to this elitism which is obviously the assumption that gets people waiting for a checkpoint but you know, as we know the bicycle and again this word of being a leveller, I mean, all of these differences that get thrown up by borders by walls by by document Are you know, that’s immaterial and illusory. And I think there have been instant you know, it’s very sad I spoke to one lad who, from Ramallah, you know, ride rides mountain bikes primarily because he doesn’t like the checkpoints. So you kind of have that interesting dynamic, the spatial nature of the conflict, mediates people’s decisions about how they might ride there might be more likely to ride trails, than on the road because of the absence of checkpoints. But even though you know, he would say that he’d met settlers out on the mountain bike trails and stuff, who you know, often just receiving it’s very simple case of racism, the the issue of Route, he’s an Arab, you know, and of course, he’s narrow. And that’s, that means nothing other than, you know, it’s an ethnic background, the language, it’s a culture just as just as Jewish and says, just as it is to be British. And out on the trails, who’s encountered racism, I think, you know, he made no secret of the fact that he’d also had good moments where that kind of kinship and community of the bicycle can kind of transcend these affiliate immaterial ethnic differences that we have. And ultimately, that’s actually in lots of ways what I’d want the goal of the book to be and its message and the you know, the the role of the bicycle in the region, I think is it’s something that gives people a reminder of how much we have in common, essentially, and how illusory the differences are. But yeah, so he, he taken more to trail riding to avoid the checkpoints of the roads, then equally, you’ll have people that maybe go join rambling and walking clubs, because in in two hours of walking, you’re gonna encounter fewer settlements or checkpoints or blocks than you would in two hours of riding. So it’s really interesting. Again, this kind of geographic spatial thing that when you’re in a terrain, as most of us in the West are that you can just take for granted your freedom of movement. It gets completely compromised in a sense In a militarised space, which is what Palestine and certainly the occupied territories is,

Carlton Reid 1:00:05
as interested to hit to read that the some of the scientists, you’re talking to the roadies, and they had actually snuck across to watch the Giro. And in Israel, which must have been quite a difficult for them to do and and be politically charged back home as well.

Julian Sayrayer 1:00:27
Yeah, I think I mean, I can’t remember if I mentioned people sneaking across it. And one guy that I spoke to had said that he specifically is from Ramallah. And, you know, residents of East Jerusalem, despite not having the right to vote in in Jerusalem or Israeli elections are able to move into Jerusalem so they could have gone to see it easily. The God one guy I spoke to in Ramallah hadn’t been able to go and he said that he would have done you know, he would have been really excited to see this international bike race with fame. As riders that he knew and really respected, he would have gotten to watch it, but he didn’t have the right to travel there. So he wasn’t able to. And I think that was a contentious that, you know, his position on that was itself quite contentious because there were I think it was an Israeli Canadian Real Estate magnate who paid the money, which was quite a massive sum for the jello, to start in Jerusalem in 2018. So that in itself isn’t, you know, an instance of what’s being called sports washing now, because it was tied to Trump’s suggestion that you know, Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, moving the US embassy and stuff like that. So even the existence of the stage that was politicised in that way and some of the guys for example, that ruler and other people in the peloton were quite good. Making a making a statement of you know, this is being this is politicised and You know, we often say that sport or cycling whatever it is to be can’t be politicised shouldn’t be politicised. But often what it’s doing is inherently politicising. It’s just normally done to sort of endorse a business’s usual, that is mostly unquestioned. So the guy that I spoke to saying that he didn’t really care about that he would have just quite liked to have watched the race. Even he would have sort of had some pushback from some of his Palestinian mates suggesting that that was, you know, endorsing and endorsing this idea of a unified Israeli Jerusalem. And this is again as with the choice of wherever, wherever you go, rambling, mountain biking or road cycling, because of the territory being so, so controlled. And again, this whole 50 miles wide thing perhaps every decision there becomes so heavily politicised because ultimate The contention that the Palestinians are facing at route is a denial of their right to exist the denial of the fact that they were their denial of the fact that you know that their grandparents literally their grandparents had their houses taken away from you know, when Jewish paramilitaries were settling the occupied territories after 1948 I mean, these are these are very, very recent memories. And so it’s really hard for, for people to just find, you know, a deep politicised space in some ways where where things aren’t contentious? I mean, you see you have Palestinian, who cycling Gaza who have been, you know, shot up by by Israeli soldiers and snipers of St. Louis. The extent to which we as a cyclist in the West are able to take for granted the space and the conditions and the movement that underpins cycling because it is this amazing invention. allows you to travel so much further and faster than you normally could on your own as a human. And that kind of pure experience of this, this vehicle and this invention is still felt by Palestinian cyclists. But again, as I say, it’s so compromised by the political and territorial constraints that people have to live under.

Carlton Reid 1:04:21
So, the billionaire, the Canadian Israeli billionaire, you mentioned that is called Sylvan Adams. And right, he interviewed Sylvan at when at the Giro because he was the guy who brought the genome in and he part funded the Israeli was the Israeli cycling Academy that protein. When when so that was a piece of in The Guardian that I interviewed him. Now he he’s interesting in that he’s not just interested in in, in Pro Cycling. Yes, he’s of course he did aliyah, which means like he emigrated to Israel from from Canada. He’s Obviously, intensely nationalistic. But he’s also intensely cycling focused. So a lot of his money in Israel is actually being spent on bicycle infrastructure. So you’ve now got the Sylvan Adams bicycle network. Yeah. Just northwest of Tel Aviv. The there’s a velodrome gone up, which is the Sylvan Adams velodrome so I would like to think that maybe through cycling there can be some some meeting of minds that cycling transcends all of the crap.

Julian Sayrayer 1:05:43
Absolutely. I mean, and that’s always my hope as well. And I think that it’s not a you know, it’s not a baseless hope. I think there’s reason to believe it can help in those respects. But it can’t happen on its own. I mean, again, you know, friend from Ramallah was invited recently to ride in, in Switzerland, I think it was. And Israel blocked his visa at the last moment, you know. So I definitely agree that there’s, you know, there’s a role for the bicycle to play in this, you know, this meeting of minds and bringing people together forming a community. But it has to happen alongside other things around freedom of movement for Palestinians around freedom to travel around visas, and around the removal of checkpoints. And I mean, this is to talk about it from a sort of very Israel Palestinian side, which I think is illusory. There are a lot of people in Israel who don’t like being military occupiers who don’t like paying for Israeli soldiers and conscripts to guard, religious, quite extreme religious settlers inside the occupied West Bank who don’t want and who don’t want the reality on the ground to exist as it currently does. And again, I think cycling is, you know, there’s a kind of crossover often between cycling types. And I don’t necessarily even think leftists at all. I think it’s unfair to put it in that way. But when you’re riding a bicycle in a sort of car dominated society, which is basically the world, you’re kind of seeing a different way of doing things. And you’re also even if you are this quite well to do white male Fe, when you’re on the road, suddenly you’re vulnerable again, you know, you’ve got it, doesn’t it, only take some idiot in a car who maybe earns less than you who maybe doesn’t have as many university degrees as you whatever, can still make you feel very vulnerable and put your very life in danger. And I think that sense of vulnerability, and space and the fact that our road networks are inherently politicised and how much space they give to cars, how much space they give to cyclists that actually that’s almost quite an interesting starting point on understanding the political dynamics. So say Israel and Palestine because it’s again, a it’s a situation again, of people being denied space and people being made vulnerable in that space. And one of the first guys that I speak to a guy who’s a cycle cycle cycling tourist, sorry, touring cyclists, that was a term I was looking for. And I stayed with him in Tel Aviv. And he’s someone that had obviously been very involved in Tel Aviv community to get cycling networks put in, and he talks about, we would have been doing that 15 years ago. And it was kind of the weird sort of like eccentric thing. And now everyone in Tel Aviv loves riding a bike. And he’s kind of sort of more he’s gravitated much more towards doing work around Palestine and Israel, because it’s almost it’s kind of in some ways, similar to what we might have seen in a city like London, where the people who 10 years ago we’re going out on a limb to say build these bike bike paths Give it a segregated cycle lanes have now won so much of that fight that it’s it’s actually and thankfully being normalised to some extent. So someone there who’s has activist experiences initially in urban design is now looking more at Palestine and Israel and is well aware that there are people on both sides of these walls who love riding bikes and and yeah, it’s it’s it’s very much a way of bringing people together and and also just seeing cultural change I think he would suggest that McHale the guy in Tel Aviv would have suggested that when they were first talking about bikes in Israel that was the idea of the Middle East and country Hall people like cars cycling isn’t part of the culture. And now you even have the mayor of Tel Aviv saying we want to make Tel Aviv a cycling city or you have these bike trails. across the country. And so route as well, that’s an example of cultural change happening. The fact that the thing that is left that all the little there’s being impossible, it will never work here can happen, which I do think there’s an inherent optimism in that when when you look at something like Palestine and Israel and the impasse there, and how hard it conflicts with justice done often actually there is the potential for people’s minds to change and something that sounds crazy at one point to become very fashionable and suddenly what everyone wants.

Carlton Reid 1:10:36
Well, when I was in Israel when I lived in Israel, I lived in Israel for a year in the mid 1980s. I stick out like a sore thumb on a bicycle, certainly in bicycle paths. I lived within a an Israeli guy who later got so doesn’t really didn’t like the the Israeli system of going in the army, the time and stuff in He actually moved away. He lives in Mexico now. But he was so unusual to see a cyclist that we immediately bonded. Because in Israel, there was just no bikes. And now there are lots of bikes, a lot of our electric bikes and which be illegal in this country in that they are. They have powered electric bikes. But you’re right, absolutely changed and if that can change and such is a car centric society, then there is sort of a smidgen of hope.

Julian Sayrayer 1:11:36
Yeah, definitely. I mean, there is always hope.

Julian Sayrayer 1:11:40
I mean, the Palestinians in particular are just such an amazing source of resilience. Ultimately, it’s very hard to take people’s dignity away from them and you see it, I mean, it’s kind of interesting an idea of where a sense of freedom comes from, and where that hope comes from. And when you’re certainly younger, say millennial Palestinians who have grown up grown up with the border wall, and such extreme segregation within the West Bank, they still have a very strong sense of what freedom is, you know, they still rap with these incredibly sort of forceful lyrics about their home. They still ride bikes and love it, they still are in love with the fact that they can actually like Create Project point and get to the C heifer. In LA, they play music or dance. And I think, again, it’s this kind of immutable sense of where freedom what what induces freedom or that sense of freedom, and I definitely think that riding a bicycle is one of those things so you can, nature in general, you know, you see a sunset, you descend a mountain, I mean, it’s the most beautiful terrain and country and land free which to cycle and I think there’s there’s so much kind of natural beauty in sort of Understanding settings, that, you know, you sort of like feed your soul from that essentially. And it gives people the ability to, you know yet to go on believing that, you know, Justice will get done that peace will come I mean, there is really very little I’ve never really encountered much animosity whatsoever towards Israelis even then certainly not Jews among Palestinians. I mean, the foremost grievance is their desire for mobility for travel for rights for the the sort of access to a full life that we in the West just absolutely take for granted. And yeah, I think we’ve we’ve those justices served, I think that there’s always going to be opportunity for, you know, communities to form and as someone who loves cycling as much as I do, and who’s already always done it and, you know, similarly I’ve done youth work in London. With kids from very well off backgrounds and kids who grew up on estates and they’ve always remarked on the same thing of how, you know, the bicycle was was performed as this leveller. It gives people something in common. And again, I think, you know, metaphor in some ways, the way that a bicycle can change your transport system. I think it can be the facilitator in changing other ways of thinking and ways of seeing a world and its politics and the people in it. But he is

Carlton Reid 1:14:36
back to you. So I think people see bicycles and it brings out the best in them. That’s a lovely quote. Yeah. everywhere, but it is that that’s a nice quote from from from your work.

Julian Sayrayer 1:14:52
Yeah. Well, I think it does. As we say, it’s like that sense of innocence. That’s very interesting on say something like the the larger checkpoints at a camp like Columbia just on the edge of the West Bank and the Palestinians going back through the checkpoint have to go through these very militarised turnstiles, and the cars drive through on the roads. And as always this interesting factor for me to consider that here I am riding a bicycle. So of course, I’ve got a vehicle, I’m not going to go through a checkpoint, turnstile pen, it wouldn’t fit. But equally, I’m obviously not in a box of metal and glass in a car. So it’s the sort of fantastic sort of ambiguity in the middle where you’re not quite a machine, but you’re definitely not only a human in your way of in your way of moving and I think, yeah, it’s that is the essence of doing things differently. It’s that I remember what it was to learn to balance when riding a bike. I remember the first time I decided to sort of like really go for it going down. Thinking Yeah, I think on balance and, and yeah, people who have, you know, taught their kids how to ride a bike and seen that freedom come along. And I think also on a bicycle, you can’t really do an awful lot of harm to anybody. And yet you’re still very personal, you know, you’re still obviously a human being in a way that cars really you know, they really shut us off from ourselves and from one another and I think the very fact of the car windscreen you know, we spend lives in front of computer screens, you know, we we take a break off and now looking at a telephone screen, we, we watch TV to relax in front of another screen and then people move to work behind the windscreen. It’s like the entire world becomes kind of mediated through right angled rectangles. And it’s, it’s almost by definition of, it limits our view. Whether you’re on a bicycle you’ve got you’ve got full frame Under 60 degree or maybe 340 degree vision, and, you know, you can feel the elements and you’re moving yourself. And yeah, we’re living in a very kind of automated mechanised digitalized age. And I think it’s a big part of the appeal and the lower of the bicycle at this moment in history, anything you see in it really sort of blossoming within cities. First of all, because people are kind of somewhat starved of a sense of, you know, what is it to be human, you know, what is the life that I want to want to live? You know, I live in London and often my favourite part of the day, the time when I think most and best is my half hour cycling to wherever it is, I’m going to get two and a half hours like going home afterwards. And I think that’s one of the really special things about cycle touring you just that become your life, you know, that becomes, you know, a very sort of fundamental mode. Have travel stopping and eating you’re hungry when you eat so you really savour your food you know you sleep out in the desert under the stars in a place like Palestine and yeah it’s kind of reminder of how we could be living on

Carlton Reid 1:18:15
the same page now now I’ve got the digital version, not the print version, so maybe it’s not the same page and the print version on the same page is that quote I mentioned. I think people see bicycles and brings out the best in them. There’s another quote that jumped out at me and this is goes straight into the political because you didn’t shy away from from talking

Carlton Reid 1:18:36

Carlton Reid 1:18:38
stuff with with both sides. But this this one was was was quite like it and perhaps even got resonance for Brexit. And that is so this is but we are talking about the the Israel Palestine conflict here is and that is the solution if there is one is always one that nobody likes. Both sides have to have And I mentioned that because we have a peace plan. I’m doing air quotes here. We have a Trump peace plan where one side loves it. The other side hates it. Well, that ain’t gonna work. So So have you talked to your contacts across there about the Trump plan the Kushner plan and what they think about on both sides? And what do you think of that particular plan?

Julian Sayrayer 1:19:30
Yeah, I mean, it’s false. It’s a joke. You know, it’s been rejected throughout the region, including, you know, countries like Saudi Arabia that are increasingly close to Israel. Because there still is a sense that, you know, this Palestinian issue is is such a it goes to the heart, really of the region in lots of ways and it has to be an equitable and just settlement. So I think you know, a diplomatic level interest been mostly ignored? You know, I think that was what $50 billion worth of funding that Trump and Krishna were hoping to put together. So it really is more like a peace bribe than a peace plan. It’s like if we can give the Palestinian Authority enough money to sort of make that go away. But you know, again, you could geography doesn’t lie. And if you look at the map that was put forward as a proposal, you know, that’s, that’s no territory, that’s no country and there’s no real hope that what’s left on the ground there could could form a sort of viable mobile community of people connected to one another. So that’s a sort of political level culturally, like, you know, my friends in Palestine, who, you know, I follow them on social media, you know, absolutely water off a duck’s back to them. They weren’t expecting anything, and they’re sort of social media output across the day. You know, I had my friends who were interested in fashion, maybe like Adding photos to their Instagram feed that they have, you know, textiles that they were working with or templates they were working on my friends who were into bicycles were posting little videos from their bike rides. You know, it’s like it didn’t happen. And my friends in Israel, you know, some of them are involved in the political process, particularly Gilly, who’s featured in the book. You know, his training is as a lawyer, so his job is not really to, you know, he’s not essentially so he’s certainly not a campaigner, or politicised guy, he sort of seeks to to shape what an institutional response would look like. And so he sort of did a sort of pretty dry analysis of, you know, what is this proposal? How does it stack up compared to those proposals that we saw in in the 90s with arafat, and ravine and I think there’s, there’s a recognition that Trump and Krishna having not spoken to the Palestinians for something like the last three years, weren’t ever really gonna come up with something that that offered much to the Palestinians. And so yeah, I think this will, this will just be like a little bit in history. You know, Trump is a very controversial figure in the White House. He’s very close to Netanyahu and, and the Israeli ideal. And yeah, as you say, like everyone has to hate it. I think that’s a pretty crude way of looking at how something gets settled. But I would suggest there’s probably some unfortunate truth in it. And I really don’t think that the, you know, the Israeli certainly not Benjamin Netanyahu, I don’t think they have any problems at all with this proposal as it as it’s put forward, and it’s a proposal you could never accept, really, and it’s good that the Palestinian leadership which is often very close to To the Israeli state, you know, you could argue that the Palestinian Authority just provided sort of security services for on behalf of Israel within the occupied territories. You know, there are heavy problems of corruption there within that body. So it’s good that they also said, you know, this is this is not just this is not equitable. This is not dignity. And I mean, I think the main thing is, and actually, I think you’d find increasingly secular Israelis left wing Israelis who were targeted with, you know, as you mentioned, Brexit, left wing Israelis targeted with the most sort of vile and intimidating forms of abuse far greater than anything. I think the remain live leave divide in the UK ever would have stoked. You know, this isn’t a way for Israel to go about living within their own country. And again, to put it in terms of Brexit with you know, in the UK, or in the US the last few years with Brexit. We’ve seen how intense and unpleasant it can be living with this really deep festering political cleave down heart of your nation. And to be honest, that’s what Israel does. And you can’t really live in denial of that fact.

Julian Sayrayer 1:24:16
And so this whole thing of like being pro Israel pro Palestine, I mean, ultimately, the pro justice case is actually is found on both sides, you know, as a book talks about people in, you know, in Israel that are very much a part of the movement for justice and for peace. And obviously, the Palestinians too, I think there’s often a lot more common cause than than squeezes out into the news.

Carlton Reid 1:24:41
In your in the chapter is entitled sperm smuggling. So we discussed that. And there’s a there’s a, there’s a war going on, and that war is to have as many babies as possible. So on the Palestinian side, you can describe where the story smuggling comes from but on the Israeli side, especially on the the, the radical, religious, right settler community, but certainly even in not the settler community, but the Haredi community, the the Orthodox community, there at least pumping out as many babies as they possibly can. So it’s a it’s a war to try and get as many people on the ground because people on the ground need houses. And if you’ve got houses that it equals space taken over, which is territory, which is then about basically political, absolute. So tell us about sperm smuggling and what are people putting into plastic bags and then hoping?

Julian Sayrayer 1:25:57
Yeah, well, I mean, it’s one of the many stories I guess in the book But just becomes a bit unbelievable somewhat But yeah, I mean the the Jewish extremist who assassinated your Yitzak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister in the 90s has unsubscribed was on surprisingly locked up for life in Ramon prison, and then successfully petitioned the state for visits from his wife.

Julian Sayrayer 1:26:27

Julian Sayrayer 1:26:30
pardon Carlton?

Carlton Reid 1:26:30
Conjugal visits. In other words, they probably do things that you wouldn’t normally expect prisoners have somebody in a prison to do with his wife.

Julian Sayrayer 1:26:40
Exactly. So he had some successful conjugal visits from his wife, you know, father to family, and, you know, having assassinated the Prime Minister of Israel for the crime of risking peace with the Palestinians. You know, you can make cases Well if conjugal visits are an entitlement he should have had, who knows. But either way if he for that crime can nevertheless receive conjugal visits and start a family, you know, you would expect that the same could be afforded to Palestinian prisoners, some of whom are locked up on spurious charges, maybe for things as innocuous as throwing stones rather than assassinating the Prime Minister of Israel. And needless to say, those those legal petitions on behalf of Palestinian prisoners and failed to materialise, and so Palestinian prisoners were not allowed conjugal visits and world being endlessly innovating as it is. This sort of trend of sperm smuggling came about where Palestinians would have their sperm smuggled out of out of prison during visits. And yeah, the idea being that often that how maybe in the cleavage of a woman breasts or inside the plastic sachet, or in an armpit to keep it at sort of body temperature. And then there are fertility clinics, one in Nablus and one in Ramallah, where Palestinian doctors essentially see it as providing, you know, a service to a woman who is often unjustly estranged from her husband and who may want to start a family. And they provide fertility treatment sort of pro bono. So yeah, it’s become this kind of interesting and quite extreme feature of the, you know, the demographic war, which I think is a term that’s actually used somewhat.

Carlton Reid 1:28:39
whereby we make little soldiers that’s the other side of this. This is not just let’s have children, it’s let’s make little soldiers so they can carry on fighting each other in the future.

Julian Sayrayer 1:28:49
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s kind of less violent than that in lots of ways. I think in you know, as much as anything is making new voters you know, the reason why the demographic thing is So prominent is because Israel, you know, the intention is to have a Jewish state with a Jewish majority, which is why the Palestinians have to be denied democracy. I mean, and this is why you have this really sad and really challenging sort of admiration coming from white supremacist, anti semitic us in particular far right, who really like the State of Israel, because it’s based on this idea of an ethnic majority, you know, the idea that you can have a Jewish majority, and that people can be denied the right to vote because you threaten that Jewish majority. So, you know, I almost think if you could like guarantee that if you could guarantee the Netanyahu family and the nationalists of Israel, that there would always be 30% more Jewish people between the river and the sea, than Palestinians are Muslims, whatever. They might be Christians too, because a lot of You know, the bedridden population also has a very hard time of it under Israeli occupation is often Christian. But if you could guarantee the fact that you’d always have a Jewish majority, I think that you know that you could probably find some kind of improvement in the situation. But of course, you can’t guarantee such things and our people have families, often large families as well. So it’s as I say, this demographic warfare and fertility is a very interesting part of, of the politics and of the situation. I mean, you things like the, you know, the Israeli Jewish religious community has much has taken much more keenly to things like IVF treatment, or even same sex parenting than other equivalent religious groups, I say around the world because there is a sense of actually producing more children, you know, is a duty to Israel. Just as much as the Palestinians might see is producing, producing, you know, starting a family. And there are some really fascinating and often quite dark knock on effects of this as well, you know, you have the market for surrogate mothers, and there’s a lot of, you know, Filipino women that were sort of providing that kind of, you know, in utero service. It’s almost in that respect or examples of soldiers, male soldiers who died and had their parents want to harvest their sperm to sort of do artificial insemination with an egg donor after their child has died. You know, so this kind of intense focus on demographics and numbers really, it’s probably another way in which this whole situation on the ground becomes very unnatural, and every bit as much Israelis as the Palestinians and and often I think when you’re so immersed in the politics and and Conflict of it all people can lose sight of how far Israel has strayed from what is a kind of natural kind of healthy? Yeah. So, way to go about life in the world when you’re not immersed in this intense politicisation of everything, as you mentioned with your friend in Israel who decided to leave and go to live in Mexico. I mean, likewise, I have Israeli friends in London who just don’t want to hear anything about any of it and definitely don’t want to live in that country. So, yeah, I mean, this is very intense politicisation, which is everywhere and in the book, I do think the bicycle. It’s the thing that cuts through that and just takes you back to some pure estate that’s less troubled.

Julian Sayrayer 1:32:46
Yeah, it’s definitely a big question.

Carlton Reid 1:32:50
And let’s go let’s go backwards. We could have even started on this really, but you didn’t. You did kind of mention it in passing, passing and I will of course have mentioned it in the intro. But you won’t have heard that which I’ll kind of tag at the beginning of the show. But tell us where you’ve come from, in that you did say, You’re the fastest around the world. So, so go back to that. So So tell us more about that particular journey, that particular book.

Julian Sayrayer 1:33:19
And that was, yes, my first book “Lifecycles.” And I mean, the story of that, I’d cycle I’ve cycled now about half a dozen times to Istanbul with Turkey being my second nation. And then 2000 and 2007, I met a couple of touring cyclists who were on their way around the world, and they stumbled and they mentioned the guy, who now fairly known name and cycle touring Mark Beaumont, and he was breaking a record for a circumnavigation. I looked it up on the internet. I think he averaged 90 miles a day or something that first time you went around the world and more than anything, I mean, we were about the same I made early 20s politics graduates. And both, yeah, both obviously loved life lived on a bicycle. And it really sort of stuck in my craw, about the very corporate nature of what he was doing. You know, it was lots of banking endorsements and a hotel chain. You know, orange the telephone company went on to sponsor it as well and then a branch of Lloyd wing, a division of Lloyds Bank. So it was very, you know, corporatized version of adventure and corporatized version of cycling. And you know, I was 2324 years old and had lived, you know, fantastic memories moments, some of the purest moments of my life really lived on the bicycle with my my life and my panniers over the back wheel. You know, and just going over quiet mountain passes and having farmers give you food for a meal at the end of a day. And, you know, my politics as they are as well, the idea that all of this could just be packaged up and sold to a bank as part of their marketing strategy just seemed a real betrayal of what cycling life on a bicycle was to me. But then also the maybe a sense that everyone has a bit of ownership you know, the idea of the bicycle is this is this invention is this vehicle is loved around the world. And I didn’t want to see it, you know, sold away like that. So I set out to break his world record, which which I did by about a month at the time. With the first leg going from Normandy, I went through Central Asia to Shanghai, then a bit of Southeast Asia and New Zealand. And then a big arc from North America from Vancouver to Tijuana to Florida to Boston. flight to Lisbon and then rode back sprint finished in normal day. So that was really my first big ride as a cycling, and cycling traveller, and that’s also the first book life cycles. And yeah, that’s how I kind of got into this whole thing of writing politics at the side of the road sort of thing.

Carlton Reid 1:36:19
And you make money. Question. Yeah, just

Julian Sayrayer 1:36:25
just about I mean, I’m not getting rich quick. I mean, and you know, Beaumont just, he just broke his Well, he broke my record that records fallen a number of times over the years. He just did a very fast circumnavigation, which I think is rumoured to have costs somewhere like half a million pounds. So I’m not bringing in half a million pounds worth of money to fund my rides with a camper van following me and the team on board. And but yeah, you know, you get by and and I’m got quite a strong background in political science. So it’s kind of that I think I’m a bit unusual in having this very strong commitment to, to life on a bike and to the bicycle, but also being kind of interested as an analyst, also in politics and political economy. So I’ve somehow carved out a little niche, which if you’d have told me 10 years ago, I was going to do, I would have laughed at you.

Carlton Reid 1:37:31
So how long do you spend in Israel? Because you’re going in a small country, we’ve discussed that you’re going backwards and forwards. You know, one minute you’re in Tel Aviv, the next minute, you’re in Hebron. So how long are we actually there? researching this book?

Julian Sayrayer 1:37:47
In 20, I was there in 2018 for six weeks, with across two visits or shorter visit in the summer, and then I was back for a month at the very end 20 2018 just kind of, you know, it’s good to visit a couple of times and I’ve got friends from Israel and from Palestine, who I’m obviously still in contact with, and I’ll get in touch and ask them when the Israeli elections are happening or, you know, see what’s basically going on really. So I’ve kind of mainly in the last few years have come to develop quite a quite a strong connection to to both countries, Palestine, Israel or one country, whatever is going to be in the future. Who knows. And people in both places.

Julian Sayrayer 1:38:39
But yeah, it was it was six weeks in total on the ground. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 1:38:42
I don’t think you’ve got much chance to get your PalIsrael name flying anytime soon. So you mentioned that one of the potentials that’s like, can’t see that happening, and that’s because of the religion because it goes wide. Why is this bit of dirt in The Middle East. Quite so important when it is a beautiful place. Yeah, there’s all sorts of reasons why, you know, people may fight over it. But generally, quite apart from the nationalism which is underpinned by the religion, it is that religious thing. So that’s why it’s gonna be so difficult to say change a name. That’s why it’s so difficult to get people out of the West Bank, because people view this as religious destiny. So Muslims view it as as their land. And so Mohammed who has come to the Al Aqsa Mosque that was built over that the Dome of the Rock, and you know, and send it to heaven, on his in his horse from there, so the claim for that and of course, Jewish people view it as absolutely their, their religious God given homeland. So given the fact it’s religion, not not just nationalism at stake here, your national And you could you could possibly, you can imagine might actually change your morph over, you know, a good number of years, when you talk about religion that that is so intrinsic to this region. That’s why people fight over this place because of the religious part of it. So do you genuinely see any solution political solution, when underpinning This is Faith is is not logic at all. It’s faith.

Julian Sayrayer 1:40:31
To an extent, I mean, often I find that kind of interpretation of events can often obscure the reality a little bit and, you know, we have precedents elsewhere and the, you know, the Protestants aren’t allowed to march through Catholic regions of Northern Ireland commemorating and honouring the massacres of, you know, the massacres of Catholics. You know, there’s precedent for these things being dealt with decently and proportionately and sensibly elsewhere. I think you know, and again, you have lots of secular, secular Jews, secular Israelis, who feel much more troubled by extreme Jewish

Julian Sayrayer 1:41:13
fanatics, Jewish extremist religions,

Julian Sayrayer 1:41:17
interpretations of that religion than they do by secular Palestinians. I think the problem is that currently and for the last, you know, two decades really the political situation and lived reality for Palestinians in particular has become so has become so sort of circumscribed and bad. That in that space, religious ideas really flourish. You know, if you’re living in Gaza under an Israeli blockade, and you’ve got 2 million people in something like, you know, 40 square kilometres, a stretch of land like 10 kilometres wide and You have you know Israeli snipers on the on the blockaded sort of land outside. So if you protest, you might get shot at you know you’ve got bombs falling in my experience where your life has been taken out of your own control. I think religion is probably a timeless kind of antidote to that loss of control because actually within your own mind, you can you know, you the notion of Paradise and an afterlife becomes increasingly appealing, but I actually don’t think that’s the version of life most people want. And I think with with the political situation, addressed and ameliorated, I think he could often you could find a sort of, you know, a really diminished hold of religion over at all. I mean, if you go back to the 20th century, the the first proposals of a Jewish homeland, I mean, it’s obviously in Israel now. And Jerusalem, of course has that resonance, but at first it was discussed as potentially being in Africa in what is modern day Uganda? Yeah. So I don’t think anything is ever intractable. And then again, as I mentioned earlier with fertility treatments and the idea of, you know, same sex parenting actually being mostly popular with Jewish communities in Israel, where they maybe wouldn’t be with Christian or whatever communities elsewhere in the West, because of that note, you know, the notion of the demographic battle. So you see, the the reality of the politics, really melding the form that religion will take and the views that religion will take. So I do think if the politics is improved, and that absolutely has to be done as an imperative. And then the obvious things such as you know, the Orangemen marches in Northern Ireland, whatever their equivalents are, in Palestine in Israel, a wound in which I think you’d find supported amongst Israelis, Israeli secular people as well and equally secular Palestinians who don’t feel represented by Hamas, of course and who aren’t even Muslim. You know, I speak in the book to a guy who started a craft brewery, side Ramallah and he talks about his problems with, you know, people who are much more extremist in their views of Islam than your average Palestinian would be I mean, he’s a Palestinian Christian which is a the existence of which gets somewhat erased the fact that about one third of Palestinians a Christian is completely obscured. Because I think again for sort of, we live in a very Islamophobic time and it becomes easier to sort of justify the repression of the Palestinians have to live under. If we just say, Oh, well, Muslims, and that’s a very pernicious notion that Muslims are kind of inherently dangerous or inherently Religious and other other religious groups. And, and yeah, I think if we can improve the politics, the religious kind of the strictness of religious understanding whether it’s Palestinian or Israeli can ameliorate right because people actually ultimately just want but alive

Carlton Reid 1:45:22
mm hmm in the book you do this but I just like to draw it out on unit and I’m fitness being devil’s advocate here and almost out of his a catches in Israel that the Palestinians are pawns basically kept as you know this this victim status as refugee kind of mentality because of geopolitics because the other majority Arab countries in the region in effect, we Want to continue fighting the 1948 War? And it’s in their interest to keep Palestinians as refugees. Whereas if this happened anywhere else in the world, you would expect if there was any genocides that happened any push back to get people to disappear from a region. Yeah. And he left that region will they be absorbed in other parts of of the world it close to that region. This hasn’t happened to the Palestinians because they’ve been kept as pawns. So you could have solved this problem with the Arab world could have solved this problem if they had absorbed the Palestinians at 48 to begin with 67 in that in the Kippur War, etc, etc. 73 stories the Yom Kippur War, so it could have done what was is, you know, you discusses in the book, so you can just talk about that. But what is the here? What’s your view of Palestinians being this deliberately being made victims? by that? Let’s put it this way the by their own side?

Julian Sayrayer 1:47:14
Yeah, I mean, you know, there’s a lot there’s been a lack of particular result of Western meddling in the region, there has been a lack of, you know, local democratic states in the Middle East, which has in turn made it harder to to create a sort of democratic, lasting just solution to the issue. I mean, I do think it’s very important to acknowledge that actually, the arrival of Jewish paramilitaries and then Jewish settlers to that region was, you know, it’s an ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. And so, of course, people fled. And then to an extent, you know, that the borders as you, as you say, have been in such different ways. Over the years after 48 after 67 after 73 You know, there’s been times under military rule Bayes Israeli, there’s been times where the West Bank was kind of, in some respects a part of Jordan and was administered by Jordan. So it’s it’s partly a question of things changing at different time. But I mean, ultimately a Palestinian from Hebron of Nablus doesn’t necessarily want to be incorporated into an outer suburb of Cairo or Damascus, because they’ve been removed from from their homeland. You know, that’s kind of no real consolation for the sort of the trauma and the injury that you’ve been done. And I do think in the western view of Palestine, there can be a real carelessness that sort of endorses this idea that well you know, Arabs are all the same, which actually is very, you know, deep and prominently racist part of it is really thinking Well, like just go somewhere else. And you know, we wouldn’t understand. And I often within the book kind of put what’s happened into a European perspective. And if, you know, France had sort of colonised sort of Germany and sort of shunted off great tracks of German people, well, I could go and live in, you know, in the Netherlands or in, in Belgium or in Austria, because, you know, they they also speak, they also speak German, and actually, they’ll be fine there. The idea that people actually have a right to the land that Iran into the land of their, their ancestry today, who have forebears? You know, it’s really important, and it’s very interesting as well, when we look at the Israeli sort of self justification for why it will take the land that it does, is that this is the land of our forefathers going back, say 2000 years but actually, this is Palestinian land going back. Two years. 20 years. last century most. So the idea that Israel, Israel and Israelis and Jews have the right to return, which is the exact same turn of phrase that Palestinians invoke a right to return to land that they were cleansed from in 48. with Israeli arrival, the idea that that can be extended to Jewish people but not to Palestinians is really it’s on its head sort of thing.

Carlton Reid 1:50:25
But we screwed up in that, you know, the Brits screwed up. All the world powers screwed up on this. Yeah. And there’s times in history, and including, of course, the Ottoman Empire, which you’ll be familiar with. Yeah. So So given the fact that we have screwed up, the kind of weak as in the Western powers that have tried to solve this given that that we have always screwed up. There has got to be a solution that that is arrived at on the ground, so you’re not in favour of Israel disappearing, you just want that to be you think it’s gonna be as, as Gilly, in the book, it says, There’s gonna be a two state solution. That’s the only way of solving this. It’s gonna be two states. Yeah,

Julian Sayrayer 1:51:16
I mean, I think it’s very, you know, and Gilly would be prominent in suggesting that that is the idea that content consistently polls best. But then as we see, with this current one from Trump and Krishna, you can be very disingenuous with what you call a second state in that two state solution. I mean, Me Myself, I mean, I’m probably sufficiently there are no borders in my overall worldview, and or, you know, my love of the bicycle and the fact Actually, we can all just happily live together. You know, and you’d find that common on you know, left wing, left wing Israelis or Palestinians it might not simply just say one state but you know, I’m I’m an outside of the region, however much I care about it and however much you know, I might have accumulated some knowledge It’s not really it’s not for me to say. And I do think that one state has a degree of sense to it. I mean, Israel is there, of course. And there are, you know, there Arab Jews from elsewhere in the Middle East to move to Israel because they they felt safer in a Jewish state than in the Arab states they’d come from. There are whatever historical claims of the Jewish people to that land as well. You know, I’m sufficiently convinced always that people in the right circumstances can live together happily and peaceably. That that would always be my my kind of guiding instinct on what the outcome should be. But I

Carlton Reid 1:52:47
just explained you. So we should I think we should explain who Gilly is because I know who he is because I’ve read the book. And we did in earlier on but just just give us a pen now. From now. sketch of, of Gideon and in his role in the Israeli peace process,

Julian Sayrayer 1:53:04
yeah, so Gilly is he was a negotiator at the Camp David Accords. And then again on the the late Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin. So he’s someone that over decades has really known the Israeli position. On on negotiations with the Palestinians is an interesting, his own ethnic background is interesting in that he’s a Sephardic Jew. So he would be of the refugees of Spain that left on the Korean peninsula that left after the Spanish Inquisition. So his family line has really been in Jerusalem for centuries and centuries, which I think gives him a really valuable perspective on it in he is, of course, Jewish, but nobody could say that he does not belong in that in that part of the world after so many centuries, and equally because he is indigenously of that. Part of the world I think he has sympathy with the Palestinian position. Visa V, you know, the notion of a Jewish person from the Ukraine moving to a settlement on occupied Palestinian land, and that not necessarily being a just thing ever. So, yeah, you do find all manner of of different opinions. But I think ultimately, they’re, I think Israel needs to think as a nation about how to live at peace in the Middle East. And I think so deep within thinking of the regime is the idea that you can have war with Iran, you can make friends with a deeply brutal and authoritarian dictatorship in Saudi Arabia. And that you can just keep the Palestinians under military occupation. I mean, none of these things are sort of lasting, lasting settlements in a way that can never be vied for a sustainable and mutually prosperous future. And, you know, I think there are big problems within it all around capitalism. There’s a lot of money involved. There is, of course, the religious dynamic as well. But I do think that, you know, states have a sort of duty to the people living in them to do what do what’s best for providing a lasting solution. And I think those solutions are out there with the right political will, I think we’re going to see increased disengagement from the region from the United States after Donald Trump probably because you know, the middle east of that region, because of its endemic kind of poor levels of democracy. You know, it’s a region that’s going to be really hit hard by climate change. It’s a region that is already being hit hard by the declining value of oil and gas, which is obviously a welcome trend in the world. And so you’re going to see diminishing returns engagement with that region. And Israel has really like premised its entire existence for the last 50 years. And, in particular, on that sort of support, you know, the US and Israel $10 million a day in military aid for the most part, and, you know, this current administration, there’s a lot of support for that. But I don’t think that’s going to be a lasting trend. It’s something that’s coming under increased scrutiny in the United States. And I just think it’s in the interests of a country and its people to be at peace with its neighbours, and you can’t have peace without justice. And so I think that is, that’s kind of the core of what I feel needs to happen in Israel and with its current government, it’s not going to have or even the opposition of Bennigan’s. They’re sort of like nominally centrist or less nationalist character that’s still a sort of deep kind of attraction to annexing the West. Bank to, you know, bombing Hamas in Gaza. And you know, I just think there’s a lack of an honest discourse going on.

Carlton Reid 1:57:10
So going back to Gilly, there’s a quote there, which which meshes with what you said there exactly. So quote from him is you cannot have a state that denies others that freedom, you can’t whatever the reason, it just won’t work. It’s not sustainable. So is he ever liking or people like not maybe not him, but other people like him? potentially going to be to the for negotiating in the future? Or do you think that was the that was the chance that they had back then when he was on the Oslo Accords?

Julian Sayrayer 1:57:45
Yeah, I mean, I think looked back look back at Oslo was an opportunity. And yeah, I think there was a good faith engagement at that time, to an extent that that had some sort of hope. I mean, the Palestinians were suggests that the Israelis never stopped building settlements. And Oslo was sort of the, you know, the ultimate sort of charade really, which gave legitimacy to the ongoing sort of, like de facto annexation of Palestinian territory. So I don’t think that that time was a golden age whatsoever. But I do think, you know, if you see the Clinton administration or whatever, there was a kind of a more genuine engagement with the idea of finding adjust solution. And yeah, we’re certainly not at that time right now.

Julian Sayrayer 1:58:32
But it’s always it’s hard to see what what the future holds.

Julian Sayrayer 1:58:38
I think yeah, that it’s it’s a very difficult process because I mean, democracy within the Palestinian territories has been corrupted by say the Palestinian Authority just providing security services for the Israelis equally. So what should be the government in Palestine has these very limited set of powers Often it ends up sort of policing protests and the like, or activists in a way that is at odds with Palestinian democracy, but upholds its kind of own relationship with with Israel with, you know, in a relationship that has numerous kinds of funding, funding channels tied to it, saying, ultimately, you know, my sympathies are foremost with the Palestinian my support foremost with with the Palestinians. I mean, I do have some compassion for the idea that I don’t think the Israeli population is living a natural life as you know, these kind of oppresses by by default in this very sort of highly religious sized society that is in a state of sort of permanent war. I don’t think that’s good for Israelis either, but but mostly I feel like Palestinians are being denied their voice but you know, something that is it’s important The trajectory of the Middle East at present. And we always hear the lies put about prominently of Palestine in particular, the idea that they’re not ready for democracy. I mean, democracy is a very kind of it’s an innate human notion of consensus building. And the thing that has become most problematic in the region in finding sort of democratic structures. And answer is, you know, the brutal experience of colonialism. Now, the brutal experience on the sort of Western bombs, the Iraq war, and then the sort of modern dictators have been Salomon’s. The Netanyahu is where you see democratic channels shut down by what has become sort of sophisticated spyware of the digital world. So this kind of concerted attempt to, to throttle democracy in the region because of oil interests, because of the interests of sort of hereditary monarchies and Israeli security. I mean, there’s In so much bloodshed, and so much like life and human potential sort of wasted as a result of it, and it’s not going to put out the will to freedom of the Palestinian people of the people of the Middle East, because that’s immutable, you know, you feel a sense of freedom when you ride a bicycle, or when you see the sunrise or the sunset, which is really something I tried to sort of bring out in the book, you know, this, this isn’t going away. And and so that’s why I think it’s kind of you know, Israel is beholden to sort of it owes it to itself as well as the people is ended up as the occupier have to think about well, you know, what our What’s our long term engagement here, and that has to tend towards justice, because otherwise it won’t last.

Carlton Reid 2:01:48
Let’s park geopolitics for a second. I know that’s incredibly hard with this particular region, but you did mention the bicycle there. So let’s get back to the bicycle But I want to specifically talk about your safety. on a bicycle assumption many people listening to this, are we thinking like Julian’s been in places that I can’t imagine going, you’re having to go through checkpoints, you’ve got people with guns pointing at you all the time. This must be incredibly dangerous. However, given the fact that I’ve done very similar things in the past, and I didn’t really feel afraid, those times, I’ve tended to feel more afraid, at the cause. So did you feel the same that you don’t feel actually that frightened by the geopolitics and effect because you’re immersed in it? But you’re more frightened by the cars passing you within inches?

Julian Sayrayer 2:02:40
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s always the reality of it in some ways, when you’re, you know, sitting back at home in the West, you can, yeah, the notion of the security or the, you know, the military situation, is what sort of sticks in your mind but yeah, I’m reluctant reality on the ground statistically around the world, certainly when you’re travelling on a bicycle, you know, tragically, of course, that is the greatest threat. And, yeah, no, I mean, there is a failure. But something about that sense of being vulnerable when you’re on a bicycle, I think actually gives you a whole new way of seeing the world. I mean, much as travelling by bike is a joy. And there are some moments where it’s absolute elation and freedom. But yeah, that constant threat of traffic and especially in countries, whether it’s the Israeli or Palestinian side, where, you know, cycling, as you mentioned, even if it’s increasing in the cities, it’s not particularly common on the roads out in the wider country. And people aren’t expecting their cyclist and might not be driving very carefully. And then yeah, is part of the very mundane threat that cars pose to people Everywhere really that for whatever reason, we just kind of price in as a sort of inevitable danger of the world where it really doesn’t have to be

Carlton Reid 2:04:10
the kind of bike we’re using.

Julian Sayrayer 2:04:14
And I was on my my trusty steed, which is my Tout Terrain, which is from a small company in in Freiburg

Carlton Reid 2:04:24
Sounds French but it’s German.

Julian Sayrayer 2:04:26
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I guess it’s on the border of France and I suppose maybe they just saw two terrain was sort of, you know, spoke to a more global audience but they’ve they’ve been my sponsors, really for my bicycles going back to the around the world ride. I think they, they, they’re a small sort of originally a husband and wife team. And I think they really valued that kind of, you know, the anti corporate sort of notion of the purity of life on a bike and the open road and adventure. So they’ve always been, you know, very kindly looking after me with bike stuff. And then yeah, it’s just a fantastic purpose built touring frame. Really, you know, you’ve got things like a little metal collar on the headset so that if your bicycle falls over and goes down a ditch, it doesn’t like the handlebars can’t swing all the way around and pull your cables out. other little things like that. Very good sort of stand on the back. And an inbuilt pannier racks, you’ve got sort of fewer nuts and bolts to work loose or whatever it might be. Do you

Julian Sayrayer 2:05:37
say that again? calling

Carlton Reid 2:05:38
a plug. Do you have that? That’s the like the USB charging? Yeah,

Julian Sayrayer 2:05:42
no, I don’t I have been meaning to talk to them about that. Actually. I remember I was with them in Freiburg. Probably Yeah, that’s part of 10 years ago when they were just trialling it and I think we had a conversation actually about the name the plug in Orleans. Definitely the guys that run it. Obviously plug is an English word. And I can’t remember exactly what the German for plug is, but it’s sort of much more precise and it’s three words and it doesn’t have that same kind of iconic sound as plug. So I think I was there when we were talking about well, they just call it the plug. And I’m glad the name stuck. But no, I didn’t have that. And I have been meaning to talk to them about it equally. I was cycling through Italy last autumn and came across a French cyclist who’d just he’d flown back in from Brazil and to south of Italy and was cycling home to front. But he had a little solar mat that he just rolled out on the back of his pannier and that was charging his phone and I think the price of those things has come down so much.

Carlton Reid 2:06:49
I’ve used them as well but that that the plug, you know use plug it in literally Yeah. How are your devices and your emotion and you happen to reach a certain speeds it’s no point if you live, you know, five miles an hour, cyclists are gonna be going a fair old clip to actually odd stuff but then it builds up into a battery as as great systems, I like to do it from that point of view.

Julian Sayrayer 2:07:14
Ya know, they’re a great company, very innovative. I mean in that German way, they really love the design. And I don’t cycle with a trailer, but I think they’ve done they’ve got some really good trailer products as well. Just because they they love really sort of refining the design process to match you know, the functionality. I can’t remember how many sort of, you know, metres climbing equivalent resistance the plug was, but it was something like three three metres of altitude gain by 10 kilometres or something was the kind of equivalent resistance that the charging system puts on it. So yeah, as I say, I’ve been meaning to talk to them about it. Maybe this is the prompt to get back in touch.

Carlton Reid 2:08:00
definitely get your front wheel your hub Shimano Yeah. Um, so Okay, so that’s the bike. Let’s go back to the book. And that as you said is out in April, you said it’s 370 pages. Yes. So just we’re going to end now Julian, but we’re going to end by you telling everybody where they can actually physically get this book. How much does it cost? All of that stuff?

Julian Sayrayer 2:08:28
Well, yeah, the books that mid April 15 April, the 16 books of tena, you can get it as an E book. Obviously, I always say that a local independent bookshop is always the best place to get it ordered in otherwise Of course it exists on Amazon and the like as well.

Carlton Reid 2:08:48
While that’s doing that’s fabulous value for money because it is it I can visualise it because I know how many pages electronically there are. A 370 page book Tana is incredibly good. Is there photographs in there it was all your pen portraits.

Julian Sayrayer 2:09:03
It’s all my pen portraits. And there’s a Palestinian illustrator who wanted to remain anonymous, but she did some really beautiful map work. So those maps of the, of the territory, and of the different regions I was cycling in. But yeah, so it’s um, you know, it’s a nice looking book to say.

Carlton Reid 2:09:23
Excellent. Well, I’m not going to say I’m going to look forward to reading because I have read it and it’s fantastic. Thank you very much for for letting me see an advance copy of that. Julian, tell us where we can find you on the internet, apart from your book, so your website and your social media handle all that kind of stuff?

Unknown Speaker 2:09:42
Yeah, I’m is the website which has got sort of details of past journeys and future plans. As we’ve most people try to use Twitter a little bit less but I’m on that @JulianSayrarer and also in this visual age I’ve kind of made the jump over to Instagram. So I’m on Instagram as well, JulianSayrarer

Carlton Reid 2:10:06
Julian, it’s been fascinating talk to you and it has been a very long show, considering I do try and keep these things to below the hour, but you know, 6000 years of history, geopolitics coming out of your ears. I got I think we did it partially good justice there. So thank you very much for being on the show.

Julian Sayrayer 2:10:28
Not at all, Carlton. Thanks for having me. It’s been great talking

Carlton Reid 2:10:32
Two hours and 10 minutes and counting of audio there for you in in the Coronavirus locked down I’m sure you won’t mind getting quite that much audio to keep you going. So thank you ever so much to Julian for for talking geopolitics and cycling and his explorations around the world and thank you to Malak and to Sohaib for talking to me in Palestine itself. And thank you too, for listening to this extremely long show. And for subscribing to the spokesmen cycling podcast in all your favourite podcast catching places, including, of course, iTunes, I would really appreciate if you gave a review of this show of previous shows on iTunes or on the various places where you’ll be getting your, your podcasts. It’d be great to get some feedback on on how the show is, is doing for you. And this has been show 243 of the spokesmen cycling roundtable, sometimes roundtable podcast the last couple of shows have been roundtables. This has been just purely me going out with a microphone and speaking to people. So thank you for listening to the show and the next show will be out next month, I guess. So, meanwhile, get out there and try and ride as much as you can in the lockdown.

April 9, 2020 / / Blog

Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast

EPISODE 242: A Different World, A Better World, A Bicycling World

Thursday 9th April 2020


HOST: Carlton Reid

Sydney’s manager of cycling strategy Fiona Campbell.

Robin Chase, author of Peers Inc, founder of Zipcar and the New Urban Mobility Alliance of Washington, DC.

Tim Blumenthal, president of People for Bikes, USA.

PLUS: An audio interview with Automobile Association president Edmund King.

The future for cycling in a post coronavirus world.

PLUS: the president of Britain’s Automobile Association muses that, if car use doesn’t recover after the end of the COVID-19 lockdown, it would be best not to splash £27 billion on building more roads for motorists.


“Motoring Boss Questions Whether U.K.’s £27 Billion Road Plans Can Survive Virus Crisis,”

The University of Massachusetts-Amherst conducted a study that compared bike infrastructure construction jobs with those related to projects that focused only on roadways for cars and trucks.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 242 of the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable podcast. This show was engineered on April 9th 2020.

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 show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the-spokes And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:08
Hi there I’m Carlton Reid and welcome to another roundtable edition of the show. It took a little bit of time wrangling to record a groupchat with my expert guests because, as you’ll hear, they are as far flung as flunging goes. Is that a word? Anyway, I recorded our chat at 10pm UK time last night — that meant it was 7am in Australia for Sydney’s manager of cycling strategy Fiona Cambell, and it was early evening for transportation entrepreneur Robin Chase of the New Urban Mobility Alliance of Washington, DC, and late afternoon for Colorado-based Tim Blumenthal, president of People for bikes. Of course, we talked about sourdough, dogs and social distancing but the main discussion is about the future for cycling in a post coronavirus world. The hook was an article I wrote for where the president of Britain’s Automobile Association mused that, if car use didn’t recover after the end of the COVID-19 lockdown, it would be best not to splash £27 billion on building more roads for motorists. That’s a rational yet radical point of view from Edmund King, and I’ll be dropping the audio from that interview into the second half of the show. Let’s get going.

Carlton Reid 2:46
It is 10 o’clock in the UK for me, but I have got three guests here. international guests from from all across the world well, about two in the US and one from Australia and I’m going to go to the one from Australia first. So Fiona Campbell, tell us a bit more about you yourself. Give us that biography that I did prompt you to give beforehand.

Fiona Campbell 3:10
Hi, Carlton, yes. My background professionally is in it as a mainframe computer programmer. But that was by day and by night, I was doing bicycle advocacy work for a decade before 12 years ago when I started working for the City of Sydney, I’m now manager of cycling strategy, and I have quite a challenge to make Sydney bike friendly.

Carlton Reid 3:37
When you say your bicycle — I’m gonna come in here and ask supplementary questions by the way — when you said bicycle because that was like in a non professional role. You were just literally a bicycle advocate, and then you leaped into being a job.

Fiona Campbell 3:51
Correct? Yeah, I was involved in a number of local bicycle advocacy groups, as well as helping out with writing submissions for the state and the Because the group and then I was on a number of national committees representing the sockless from around the country.

Carlton Reid 4:07
And I even though I’ve met you at lots of lots of different conferences around the world, I had no idea about your computer programming background. So that’s the challenge for everybody else, you’re gonna have to tell us something that that I didn’t know about you yourself. So Robin, so tell us tell us about tell us about Robin.

Robin Chase 4:24
Um, 20 years ago, I co founded Zipcar, which is a car sharing company, and I think was one of the first that raised venture money and dim and used, built beautiful technology and showed that there is a real demand for this and it can scale so there’s a largest consumer demand. Since then, I’ve found a number of other transportation companies, some of which didn’t succeed. So I did one called go loco, that was intercity ride sharing and no one succeeded at that in the US. Then I did a peer to peer car sharing company in France called best car. And we ended up not being the number one and we merged with driving. And I’ve recently co founded my first nonprofit called Numo, the New Urban Mobility Alliance. So really, I’d say yy life is totally devoted to and focused on addressing climate change in urban transportation. And Fiona, I love bikes too, man, my love affair.

Carlton Reid 5:29
I’ve taken photographs of you on a bike. Yes. I that was a London that was Move last year, wasn’t it? So? Yeah. Okay. And same question to Tim. So Tim, you’re gonna have to go right the way back to your your journalism days as well.

Tim Blumenthal 5:44
Well, I am the president of People for Bikes, which has become the largest us nonprofit bicycle advocacy group. I’ve been doing this for 16 years but Somehow the last 40 years have flown by. I started as a cycling journalist, in fact, wrote internationally for publication in in England called Cycling Weekly and Velo in France and Velo News in the United States. And then Bicycling magazine did seven Olympics for NBC as a writer and a commentator, and an advisor. And, you know, it’s just so much has been about bikes. And then 27 years ago, I became the first CEO of the International mountain bike Association, which was happening at a time when mountain biking was growing really, really quickly. And that was both an opportunity and a challenge for existing systems and land managers. And so I ran that for 11 years and people for bikes has been really an awesome experience for me.

Carlton Reid 7:00
And it’s the industry pulling together. So the industry, putting money into, into into grassroot stuff and and paying people to do that.

Tim Blumenthal 7:10
It’s about half industry. You know, it started with that it started 20 years ago where the bike industry said, Look, we either need to work together to improve the conditions for bicycling, or else bicycling is really going to suffer. But maybe 13 years ago, we formed a separate but affiliated foundation. And that has a completely separate base of support 1.3 million individuals, major foundations, a lot of health related foundations. And somehow we’ve been able to serve both the industry and that whole other constituency that I just described.

Carlton Reid 7:54
And I remember getting lots of emails from you, building up that that that million plus subs What a bass.

Tim Blumenthal 8:01
Yeah, well, I mean, you followed it very closely for a long time. And you know, one of the great things about it and I’ll stop quickly here is it’s now much easier to communicate globally. And so we’re working in unison with best practices and best ideas and the most capable people around the world. So we’re we’re learning a lot not just from Europe, but from Australia and certainly from Asia and South America and Africa.

Carlton Reid 8:34
Okay, well thank you all for being on on the show today in our different time zones and it is fantastic to be able to talk to you in all our different time zones and Fiona. I’m going to come to you because it is early morning for you so you’ve got up nice and bright and early and we’re we’re kind of I’m a night owl here and Robin and Tim are shifting into the early evening, or Tim is kind of early afternoon, late afternoon, night, arent you, Tim. But Fiona I’d like to come to you now and let’s let’s go through and find out what people how we are coping and what we are doing in in lockdown if indeed you are in lockdown, I’ve no idea what’s happening in Australia. I’m not not being stopping in the news, what’s happening in Australia. So Fiona tell us, how are you isolating and are you in full lockdown?

Fiona Campbell 9:23
I think similar to other countries and what from what I can read. Similar to the UK, we supposed to be staying at home. And the only reasons to be out are if you have to go for work and especially essential workers, or to get essential supplies, groceries, medicines or for exercise. But when we are out, then there’s the social distancing. We’ve got a metre and a half.

Carlton Reid 9:51
And then you were mentioning before and I’m going to bring this in because Tim had a fantastic Instagram person to mention, but you’re making sourdough

Fiona Campbell 10:00
My husband’s making sourdough. Yes. And just with the circumstances, he’s making extra loaves each day and just distributing that to a few neighbours who we know. Appreciate it.

Carlton Reid 10:12
Oh, wow. That’s fantastic. And Robin, how are you isolating and is your city is that in lockdown?

Robin Chase 10:20
I would describe Cambridge, Massachusetts exactly as Fiona described. And my upstairs neighbour and I have been sharing sourdough loaves of bread alternately for a few nights.

Robin Chase 10:34

Unknown Speaker 10:36
I, I’ve been taking a lot of bike rides, and, and what I’ve been delighting about bikes is I think you are in it in an enforced six foot distance from most people at all times. So it’s been a really great way I’ve gone out with neighbours, where we have kept our distance that had a joint bike ride was very pleasant,

Carlton Reid 10:59
huh you He’ll

Carlton Reid 11:00
get hauled away by the police in the UK.

Robin Chase 11:05
Do you get no recreation?

Carlton Reid 11:07
we get recreation we get like, technically, there’s no limit. They say you can go out once a day that they’re kind of saying but that’s really only like an hour. But now they’re getting quite strict on it. You really mustn’t be with anybody at all you’ve got to be pretty much on your own. So getting stricter on that

Robin Chase 11:27
is six feet.

Carlton Reid 11:28
Yeah, well, two metres we we use. We use the metric so yeah, what I think it’s described in Norway as one biplane. You know, that’s how we’re describing it’s one six foot two metres deep. Yes. There’s got to be a distance between and, and and, Tim, how are you isolating?

Tim Blumenthal 11:52
Well, it’s my experience seems almost identical to what all of you have described. We’ve been working at home for nearly a month. We’re very lucky here in Colorado to have a really great connected bicycle network. Most of it, but not all of it is paved. I’ve never seen boulders bike paths so busy. And this is a place where probably on a per capita basis, there’s more bicycling going on than just about anywhere else in United States. But, and of course, the difference and I’m sure you’ve all seen this is usually that I’m inside working during the day. But now if I can get out and ride or walk even for 45 minutes at two o’clock in the afternoon, it’s amazing how many people are out and it’s really encouraging. We’ve had such a big e bike search here. So the demographic, it’s really broad, a lot of older people and the one big change is the governor of Colorado asked everyone to wear a mask or some kind of face protection when you go out so that that really is only been for the last five days. So the on the path experience has changed a little bit but it makes you feel optimistic about the future

Carlton Reid 13:24
and how wide if you don’t mind me asking how wide your bike paths in in Colorado because that they’re gonna be kind of busy as you’re saying busy but does so busy that you’re quite close to people? No,

Tim Blumenthal 13:37
no, I you know, I would say our typical with is eight to 12 feet somewhere in there. And people are doing a really good job of not getting close. And you know, this is a hub for international bike racers, who historically and always you know, since I’ve lived here and I’ve lived here for 2728 years would be training and big tightly knit packs. But I haven’t seen any of that here. You know, I think people have really bought into. It’s called social distancing. But somebody said to me the other day, it really is physical distancing. Mm hmm.

Carlton Reid 14:19
What about I’m going to ask everyone and I’ll start with you Tim anyway, because we’re on this kind of subject is how a motorist treating I mean, if you if you do have to come away from the bike paths, and you have got to use the roads or motorists, also social distancing physical distancing, or are they going far too fast? Beside you how the motors treating you?

Tim Blumenthal 14:42
I can give you the wiseguy answer. There aren’t any motorists, but you know, our and this is true. I think in the UK and probably in a lot of places in the world. Our vehicle miles driven is probably down 80 or 85%. So the roads Even at five o’clock rush hour and there is no more rush hour, feel completely empty. And, and and wide open and quiet. And yeah, it’s a big change. But the one thing that I have noticed and when I’ve been out in the car is that when you come to a traffic light, people don’t pull up tight behind you, they kind of stay back six or eight feet.

Carlton Reid 15:31
That’s interesting. So maybe the social is the physical distancing is happening in the real world, even in a car. So Robin, same question to you in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Are you are you coming away from bike paths are yours always on bike paths and how are motorist treating this?

Robin Chase 15:47
I want to say that our bike paths you are passing someone

Robin Chase 15:54
four feet away from you for that millisecond, I guess

Robin Chase 16:00
motorists, I also have a dog and when I walk I walk my dog and I would say people are being very polite, that crossing jaywalking in my neighbourhood. Motorists will stop 100 yards 100 hundred feet away, like they’ll slow right up because the streets are empty. And they see you and there’s just no crowding everyone is giving space to other people.

Carlton Reid 16:23
Robin that’s different? That’s that that’s a new behaviour?

Robin Chase 16:26
Definitely new behaviour that there’s so much courtesy. Yeah, I’d say there used to be some courtesy. Now it’s an almost ubiquitous courtesy. And I wrote an op ed in the Boston Globe last week on the on this topic, which was the ways went and did some data did some data search for me and in Boston, the car trips are down are 25% of what they used to be so down 75% and my pitch was to open to close it will be how do we sit appropriately to Open more roads to pedestrians and bikes and close them down to car traffic, particularly along the waterways we have in a long parks to just widen those sidewalks and widen those Park spaces. So people don’t have to be so close that we have this real opportunity.

Carlton Reid 17:16
And you’re successful.

Robin Chase 17:18
it’s maddening. I know. It’s been heavily retweeted in social media and we’ve had a number of phone call emails about it. But both the city of Boston and the City of Cambridge have not acted on it in a City of Cambridge, which I don’t do a lot of local politics. But I did tell the city councillors, here’s what you should be doing. This is what’s happening world round. They have continued to not vote on it, they table it, and they’re basically cowards and hoping to write it out. And so they’re thinking that we can just do nothing and I guess my larger point, which I think proves for all of us, that these shelter at home, it started two weeks, right and then it went to For weeks, and now it’s going to be up to six or eight weeks. And I was particularly thinking about the 1 million schoolchildren there are in Massachusetts, or the hundred and 15,000 homeless schoolchildren in New York City, but to keep children for months on end, stuffed in their apartments is unnecessary and mean. And if we had wider streets and bicycling, I think they could be out and about and keep their social distance. So I think this is an opportunity where we should be absolutely doing it. And it’s very short sighted. I think of the cities to say, oh, let’s just it’s going to end any day. Now. We’re not going to have to step forward to do something.

Carlton Reid 18:44
And Fiona Yeah, I’m sure you must be quite jealous of Tim’s wonderful bike path network in Toronto. But you have had successes in the past and then you had reversals. Have those successes in that your municipality then took away what you, you You brought forth? Has there been any change of view on the ground where you are, for instance, in maybe Robin’s style, trying to open streets up to non car users?

Fiona Campbell 19:21
Yeah, the battle continues. We have been making some progress on getting the network more completed. So, you know, a little bit of progress. And certainly the bike paths that are recreational along the river and around the foreshore at the moment are incredibly busy and really don’t allow enough space for social distancing with all the people walking, running and riding in the city centre. The there’s been more of a drop, of course, because commuting, fewer people are commuting to work, things like restaurants and the whole tourism sector and a sector has all been closed down so a lot of people out of work. So overall according to the city map up mobility index travel overall travel in Sydney is down to just 13% of normal travel on the motorways, the tollways their revenue shows that the traffic on the motorways is only down by 30% so down to 70% I think there are a lot of trucks still trying to restock supermarkets with toilet paper.

Carlton Reid 20:33
And on the recycled toilet

Carlton Reid 20:34
paper was Australia too that was that was a global thing was

Fiona Campbell 20:37
Yes, yes, I’m afraid so.

Fiona Campbell 20:41
So I know that in Brisbane, the their bike counters show that there’s been a doubling in bike trips in this time. So that’s that’s amazing. We most of our counters are not on recreational routes so it’s harder for us to to get that whereas Brisbane they are but overall most of our counters Showing about 60 to 90% of normal use at the moment, which considering the overall drop in travel is pretty astounding and shows that bikes are resilient. That peak though has changed. So instead of having a morning peak from the commuting and afternoon peak, the new peak is from lunchtime to dinner. So some of that is food delivery riders in the city centre, I would say

Carlton Reid 21:24
and Fiona, what about key workers so they’re going to stick to the, the the rush hour times if they’re going to be doing the same job as they’ve always done?

Fiona Campbell 21:33
Yeah, I mean, some of the key workers like at hospitals and cleaners are not a shift workers. So yeah, in the city centre. It’s more finance, industry and tourism. So they’re either out of work or they’re working from home.

Carlton Reid 21:51
we now call these the essential workers of course.

Fiona Campbell 21:55
Yep. So in terms of attitude and being able to reallocate spaces Robins You know, the City of Sydney has been trying to, to do that. And we’ve we’ve tried to pursue it. We’ve got some ideas about where and how. But sadly, the state government holds all the cards, they control a road system, even the so called local council roads are all subject to state government. So so far, we are not getting good feedback from transport for New South Wales. But we hope that that will change. I mean, particularly because we think it’s an economic issue. So as restrictions are gradually lifted, which they’ll need to be to allow the economy to sort of not completely flounder that being able to revive the economy will rely on people feeling safe, being able to socially distance or, as Robinson called him, being able to physically distance and if they don’t have the common sense that there is safe space in the downtown areas and in the shopping areas, they’re not going to be there and that economic recovery will be hampered, which means that they’ll need to overuse the lever of reducing the restrictions. And that will then, you know, potentially mean that the COVID outbreak will then worsen. So it’s really important for the economic recovery, to have safe space. And at the moment, the footpaths are too narrow in downtown areas for people to be able to distance. So it’s I think it’s really crucial for economic reasons, as well as for health reasons to start opening up those streets for better uses. And because the traffic is so low now, now would be the ideal time to do that.

Carlton Reid 23:45
Robin, you wanted to pitch in there?

Robin Chase 23:47
Yeah. When I was writing that article, I was a person who heads the pedestrian efforts for the state of Massachusetts was was editing and one of the things that she He was suggesting to me was that the police? That to close the streets, we have to be really cautious about what, how do we do these closures without requiring police? What what’s the fastest way to do it? That it was? How do we make that safe? And during my brainstorming or last few days, I just want to throw it to Fiona and I had this so here’s my, here’s my dream that works on on some streets. So streets where you have a lane and a half, in one way, or we have parked cars, and enough space that I feel like we could tell all the people who’ve got this parked cars, please move your car out to metres and re park it. And it would be so if I look at the thing of a place it’s very obvious like Brooklyn, Brooklyn has all these one way street cars parked on both sides and it’s effectively two teeny tiny lanes that has a lot of double parking. But so we could create an immediate without anybody doing any striping, cones, policemen, whatever. Just pull the cars out. And so in, in, that’s just one tiny subset of the group. But I thought, well, that’s a really simple one where that exists or in neighbourhoods like I live in, where there aren’t many cars and I try to walk in the middle of the street because I think I’m going to take this back. I still feel slightly anxious and I would definitely not let my eight year old do it without my supervision. I don’t have an eight year old anymore, but how can we reclaim space quickly without requiring a lot of emergency personnel supervision or maintenance. And so just to say, in Bogota, they did 50 kilometres of roads that they quickly expanded to let emergency workers get to work using bikes and E bikes. And a lot of the cones were traffic cones were stolen and they had to shrink that down to fewer kilometres because it was so hard to maintain.

Carlton Reid 25:55
The roads are lots of cities have been experimenting with this. I mean, it’s growing list I mean every time I go on social media there’s a people in social Fiona I’m sure will appreciate this is bicycle advocates in in certain in the UK and I’m sure in Australia put these out there as well how come we can’t do that because you know Berlin’s doing it and Bogota is doing it. And it’s a growing growing

Fiona Campbell 26:21
list, or just you see it happening in so many cities around the world now. You know, really good moves to, you know, that is for sensible reasons and very beneficial. And coming back to that economic argument. Like no city surely wants to be the only one that’s ended up being the one who missed the boat and who’s hobbled their downtown. economic recovery, because people can’t safely move around. You know, like we we don’t want to be.

Fiona Campbell 26:50
We shouldn’t want to miss that boat.

Carlton Reid 26:54
Hmm. Tim, do you want to just

Carlton Reid 26:58
bookmark, bookend that I should say,

Tim Blumenthal 27:02
Well, sure. I mean, we’ve covered a lot of ground in the last couple minutes. And it might be time and, Carlton, it’s your podcast, but to start thinking about how what’s going on now will translate, you know, in the months and years ahead, and for sure, that’s something that we’re doing. We’re, we have close working relationships with a lot of the biggest US cities. And sure, we’ve seen a lot of pop up bike lanes. And we’ve also been involved with the development of new infrastructure investment proposals that may help our nation and our states and our cities achieve key goals. But as I’m sitting here, listening, I’m thinking we still have a fundamental problem if we’re talking specifically about bicycling, and that is all of our countries or most of them. are still really focused on on car use and the cars in the United States definitely King. And it’s going to take a big shift with a lot of elements to fundamentally change that. And, you know, there’s certain numbers that I think about all the time, how many miles Americans drive and how that compares to historical patterns. Another one is, what’s the price of gasoline? What is the relative convenience of driving a car, the average American commute is 26 minutes and about 12 or 13 miles, that’s a pretty long way to ride a bike, even an E bike, unless the conditions and the infrastructure are really, really good. So I have all these thoughts swirling in my head, but I’m gonna leave it to you to help folks sauce or focus me?

Carlton Reid 29:02
Well, that was gonna be one of my questions. You’re right. It is slightly out of sync. But I’m quite happy to go with the flow here. So the question was going to be, and it was going to preface it by saying it’s kind of horrible to try and get positives out of such a negative situation. Because there are, you know, in the UK today, there was 900 people dying. So people are many, many thousands of families are now without their loved ones. So it is, we have got to always remember that we can’t be gung ho about this and say, Well, this is the this is a fantastic feature of God because we’ve got a pretty awful present. However, if we just park that and acknowledge it, but then, you know, do go and leap forward and just say, Yeah, but what does this mean for the future? So if I go straight to Fiona, And ask her is this is this now cycling’s time? Is this now out of a tragedy? Will we get something? Do you think something incredibly different going forward?

Fiona Campbell 30:15
Yeah, I think you’re right that you know that the tragedy in a moment is not just that there are lives lost and jobs lost and people’s livelihoods, and there are a lot of people struggling. And so, you know, obviously, you wouldn’t want to do anything that made that worse. And so we’re not talking about that we’re talking about, given that that is the fact. You know, where can we go from here. And I think for me, we all know that behaviour changes is really hard. It’s incredibly difficult to break habits. And that’s why when you’re doing behaviour change, that that little window when someone changes jobs or moves house is usually one of the few times where you have a better chance of success. And here here, we have global scale disruption of people’s travel habits so rare. The last time it happened in multiple countries was nearly 50 years ago, in 1973, with the oil embargo, which affected the UK and the US and the Netherlands. And that time gave the population you know, again with huge economic costs and all the consequences but that gave the population a glimpse and a vision of what their cities could be like, without being dominated by traffic, you know, clean air, quiet, safe for children for walking for cycling, and socialising more space for people, just like we’re seeing now. But back then, 50 years ago, the UK and the US went straight back to normal. And only the Netherlands use that opportunity from that new vision that that people had got during that time, as well as the the public horror at the human cost of car domination, to gradually make their cities now the envy of the world, the quality of life and human interaction. So I think, to not take the opportunity and to do what the US and the UK did 50 years ago and just not get any lasting benefits out of it would be, you know, really remiss, people are loving this, people don’t want to give up the chance that they can now go for rides with their kids in the neighbourhood.

Carlton Reid 32:23
So before I go to Robin and Tim and ask them the same question, I just want to come back to you Fiona and just ask, Are you getting people who previously wouldn’t have given you the time of day, in your in your day job? Are they now coming to you and say, ah, you’ve kind of You’re right, you’ve always been banging on about, you know, cycling being a solution to any of the world’s ills. And are they now coming to you and saying, well, maybe we should do this. Is that why you’re basing this as we should use this as an opportunity is that because people are actually coming to you who you would never have talked to normally about this.

Fiona Campbell 33:00
Sadly, not yet. But what we are seeing is people like people sending me videos of them riding with their kids saying I’ve never done this before look at all the other parents being able to ride with their kids. I’m getting emails from people involved in cycling and cycling advocacy is saying how can we turn this into some lasting positive change but but not the decision makers just yet only a few odd ones but you know not the crucial ones that need to make the decisions yet.

Carlton Reid 33:32
So Tim, from your bicycle advocacy eyrie, from your kind of like your overview of the whole industry in the US, do you see this now as something that is is going to be a change of guard, an epochal change, is that what you see going forward?

Tim Blumenthal 33:55
I’m not sure about epochal but I you know more people are ridng bikes for sure. And I expect some of them, hopefully many of them to keep riding. For sure. bike. bike shops have been designated as essential businesses in most US states. And the bike shops that are open are doing really, really well with basic repairs, changing flat tires, helping people who have a bike but haven’t written it in the years, and helping people who are brand new to bike riding. So that’s really that’s a positive and that that positive is likely going to continue. But there are all these other angles that are sort of coming out now and I want to talk about just a couple of them. One is I expect that after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides or hopefully is resolved that more people will work at home and it’s quite possible that the number of commuting miles that people drive or the number of commuting trips that people take period will actually go down. Another angle that the panel has talked about is the economic benefits of riding a bike, just the, you know, 50% of the trips that Americans make are three miles or less. And it’s a pretty, relatively inexpensive way to get around for both essential trips and for recreation. One thing that I don’t hear many people talking about, and I’m going to take a risk by introducing it in in the United States. A lot of the people who have died from the virus had pre existing conditions. And unfortunately, what this points to is our personal health crisis. It points to limitations of our healthcare system for sure. But there are a lot of people in the United States a pretty high percentage I’m sure either clinically obese or have cardiovascular issues, and I’m hopeful that that link is recognised and that I’m not too optimistic but that we start paying a little bit more attention to lifelong health and the importance of regular physical activity, because it’s definitely been underplayed card in the United States for really the last 30 years.

Carlton Reid 36:30
It is kind of one of the standard jokes in in the UK is that people get asking people at the exercising and exercising their right to exercise who would have never exercised normally. So it looks in other words, lots of people knew to exercise are actually getting out there perhaps for the first time and this is this is the Fiona’s life change she’s mentioning, So pretend you reckon that with lots of newbies out there That that will translate into long term more use.

Tim Blumenthal 37:06
Yes. And the other thing it’s great for, you know, and this will sound myopic, but it’s great for us because we’ve been working really hard with the government at every level, to build better infrastructure to serve people on bikes and on foot. And too many Americans have never experienced it until now. So now there’s a new appreciation for all the bike paths and the underpasses and the bridges. The one other thing that that’s on my mind is there’s going to be a lot of tension when it comes to transit. And, you know, I’m talking about buses and streetcars and trains, you know, at least in the short and intermediate term, even when restrictions are listed, people are going to be inclined to keep their distance and what that probably means that people will continue to use bikes. And, you know, I really value transit. And it’s super important. And, you know, my son owns a restaurant in San Francisco and depent. And his business depends on transit in San Francisco, just this week is cut 90% of its bus routes, and it’s debilitating for jobs develop potato for businesses. So, you know, there’s so many factors swirling here, that it’s really a challenge to see clearly what’s going to emerge.

Carlton Reid 38:38
I agree, it is we can we can sit at the foothills we can see something is changing. I mean, society is clearly changing. You know, when places like Spain are talking about, like a guaranteed living wage for every single Goal citizen. Well, that’s that’s that’s brand new. And that’s that’s come from this particular crisis. And then you’ve got, I’m hazarding a guess here that may be the US. Now we’ll think about more about well formed a better expression, like the National Health System equivalent for the US. And I know it’s a huge bone of contention across there. But now Surely, with a pandemic, crippling the country. There’s got to be those conversations have got to be taken more seriously. Tim, you think?

Tim Blumenthal 39:40
Yeah, I, you know, I, again, the political environment is really difficult and difficult to talk about.

Tim Blumenthal 39:50
You know, because there’s a pretty big group of Americans who basically feel like, if you don’t make it, it’s your fault, and it’s not government’s responsibility to make up for your personal shortcomings and I’m not sure how productive a discussion that would be right now. But you know, I do think that the personal health angle, the money savings angle,

Tim Blumenthal 40:21
the economic benefits,

Tim Blumenthal 40:25
really, a lot of we don’t have any problems with city leaders right now. Or maybe that’s a little bit too bold a statement. A lot of mayors understand that active mobility is super important. It’s not that expensive to implement, it can be implemented quickly. There’s not a lot of resistance. And if you can change three or four or 5% of all the trips that the citizens of your city make from single car trips, all kinds of good things are gonna happen. I was thinking back to January, February, where I really felt like our nation was finally in a transition point on climate change, where suddenly there was bipartisan interest in Congress to finally acknowledge and address climate change. And I was thinking that 2020 was going to be a great year for bicycling, investment and bicycling promotion and bicycling encouragement, and a important transition year, and then the virus hit. So there’s still that hanging out there, you know, after after the fires in Australia, and the images of icebergs melting. And I think Americans finally and three of the four hottest years in the history being the last three, were starting to get serious about climate change. And now I wonder if that will be pushed aside or simply postponed or god forbid forgotten. Tim,

Robin Chase 42:02
let me let me step in a little bit here and tie those last two points together. I think we, I think the pandemic is giving us an opportunity to make that important switch. But I want to circle to our first question. The question was, do I think after this people will cling to those old behaviours, the new behaviours that they’ve learned? I think that they won’t unless we do some structural changes. And so as I’ve been thinking about this, if it The, the fear of riding on transit, which I think will persist for a little bit and how essential workers get to work, if we put those two together, that’s where I think the rise of ebikes the potential for ebikes is enormous, but we need to give people the road space to do that. And ideally, we would be giving some subsidies for a bike purchase. So I know that in many different cities, they’ve made the shirt bikes for free and some have been adding electric bikes, but let’s definitely down on that giving those essential workers who don’t want to be taking transit who can’t be taking transit someplace because it shut down the road reallocation and start subsidising giving out money for the person ebikes. If we can get those structural changes in, I think people would make more people would make that switch because they would feel safe. And that was a cheaper opportunity. And some of them who were essential workers would not have the experience doing it cheaper, faster, better. The other piece around work from home I’ve been struck by is it is obviously an enormous difference in terms of congestion and air quality and car dependency. If you think back in Amsterdam, long ago, I want to say, eight, nine years ago, they required that those city workers who could do so were required to work one day a week from home. I would think that city, mayors if they have it in their purview should be saying that all workers all’s all businesses who have workers that could work from home, as has been exhibited now, must enable must require workers to work one day from home a week. And that enables us to build some resiliency and of course, cut down congestion by 20% straight out of the gate. So I feel like there’s some things that we can go to or this idea that was talking about now, like, how do we how do people get recreation when they’re in lockdown, if we can tie some of the things that we need to address COVID and this pandemic, in ways that structurally change our future? I think people won’t go back. I think a whole bunch of people do like to work from home, and maybe some don’t. But unless we get employers to do that, on a large scale basis, I don’t see I think people will have to go to work because their floors will say you have to go to work. Or I’d love to transition to bikes and ebikes but in the cities that I live in, everyone will tell you it’s too scary. So how can we tie that to these essential workers and getting people in? How can we make the electric vehicle subsidies that are happening around the world also apply to ebikes, where you get a much larger CO2 reduction bang for your buck for that same amount of money?

Carlton Reid 45:15
So the WHO say, in this particular crisis “test, test test” what you’re saying there, Robin is, “infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure”?

Robin Chase 45:27
Yeah. And I want to make that infrastructure. One last thing we haven’t touched on is delivery. So I want to make that infrastructure. I think broadly about it. Yes, it is, is street allocation, but also taxation and also rules or regulations are a form of infrastructure that we all are bound by. The other piece that’s really making me dejected is I’ve I’ve had this huge drumbeat of anxiety over the last two years about the impact of on demand delivery in urban areas that we are completely decimating our urban retail and it might be something that’s fine. suburban or rural areas. But I think in urban areas, we really want to retain that. And here we are all being trained every single day. I think that’s a behaviour that people will continue to do. It’s easier than now. And so people will continue to get stuff delivered. So again, what can we do today that, you know, puts the finger on the scale on local and environmental things. And so, going down that path, I would love to see that we build out those bike lanes and then we require in dense urban a dense urban areas that we have micro mobility, electric micro mobility, delivery, and maybe you would even charge for delivery per delivery unless you did it by electric micro mobility or unless it came from a local venue, but things to to discourage the I need toilet paper and have Amazon fluid from kingdom come. Like it’s a crazy thing. And we’re all built to be is lazy and cheap. And we have to we have to figure out how to how to curb some of our worst tendencies and make sure that we we, as I say, put the finger on the scale for environmental for small footprint for local at this time as we try to rebuild these economies.

Carlton Reid 47:17
And Fiona, you wanted to say something there?

Fiona Campbell 47:20
Yeah, I think Robin’s absolutely right. So many of those points the the sort of importance of getting ebikes out there and getting people to experience and the essential workers and the infrastructure or just on that ebikes I had a conversation with the national governments Clean Energy Finance Corporation. They’re the ones who take the government money to put into clean energy technologies like wind farms or whatever. And many have found that they have some interest in potentially financing a company who could lease a bikes to essential workers. To help in this time, and for ourselves with the City of Sydney, we we normally run cycling courses to help new people to to get up to speed on on riding safely and confidently. And we’ve had to stop that because of the bans on group gatherings. But what we’re doing now is offering personal bike training for essential workers. So if someone wants to start riding to work, because they need to avoid public transport, then we will have a skilled instructor come to their door and ride with them and give them the training on the way so that we can help people to make that transition.

Robin Chase 48:37
That’s great. Then one piece on ebikes that you just touched on there that I’m really excited about is that the price of them have come down enough that the monthly a year long monthly payment plan for these bikes now equals up to it in US dollars is probably 100 $125 a month which is the same amount as before paying for transit passes. Or fuel for their cars. And so we now can present ebikes for low income or low wage workers are now something that is really comparable to how their current transportation costs for the first year and then after that dramatically cheaper than their existing transportation costs.

Carlton Reid 49:20
Hmm. On that note, I’d like to cut to a commercial break. So take it away, David.

David Bernstein 49:29
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 spokesmen. I’ve been telling you for years now years, that Jensen 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 online retailers out there. But what really sets them apart? Is their unbelievable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who 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 spokesmen. 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 50:54
Thanks, David. And we are back with with the Spokesmen and it’s an international panel today we have Fiona in Australia. And we have Robin and Tim iIn the US. I gave Robin Tim and Fiona some homework. And that was to read a Forbes article I wrote on an interview I did with Edmund King, who is the president of the AA, the Automobile Association, and I am going to drop his audio in here so that the interview, I picked out I cherry picked certainly these quotes, but I’m now going to just give the whole interview right here. So here’s Edmond. The media kind of beating a path to your door, I assume?

Edmund King 51:42
Yes, we’ve been very busy because the AA is at the forefront of this crisis. There’s lots of things we’re doing we’re helping the London Ambulance Service last week we had 41 patrols in 12 depot’s across London, helping to fix more ambulance Is, is critical that they almost double the number of ambulances that they’ve got on the roads. So we’ve been helping with that. And next week, we’re sending in far more resources as well to help with that effort. And we’ve said to other ambulance services around the country and we’re in talks with many of them, you know, Can Can we help them we’ve got these brilliant, qualified patrols, they’re all top technicians, top mechanics, they’re not being fully utilised on the roads now. So we want to help they kind of particularly the NHS effort where we can. So that’s one initiative and the other big thing we announced yesterday is that the AA is now offering a free breakdown service to all one and a half million NHS workers during this crisis. So they can just register with a simply a With slash NHS, we then text them the dedicated hotline number. And if they have any problems with getting to work, like car and we will help them. We plan this because public transport is reduced a lot. Many are working long hours working shifts doing an absolutely magnificent job. The NHS is always there for us and our guys and this came suggestion from many of our people, we wanted to be there for them. And already we’ve had thousands register with us and we’ve already done breakdowns rescuing nurses, doctors, etc. So it’s a good initiative. And I think it will be pretty well used though over the coming weeks and possibly months.

Carlton Reid 53:50
Well, my wife’s a doc, so I’ll get her to sign up. I mean, she’s sometimes driving into work and sometimes she’s taking the electric bike. It’s it’s, it’s it depends what time her kind of the shift finishes she’s she’s driving in when it’s very dark at night. That’s the kind of thing but she’s daytime then she’s cycling. And so you mentioned there. What we all can can tell is happening in that is there’s less cars on the road. So you’re getting less in effect business because the people aren’t breaking down too much because it just isn’t so many cars on the road.

Edmund King 54:21
Yeah, although it is faring quite a lot. So Wednesday this week, we did 5600 breakdowns now compared to the typical ones probably have done about 10,000 brake pads. So that’s 35% lower. I actually thought it would be a lot lower than that. And some days it is last weekend was very quiet. And I think that’s because the government gave extra warnings to people not to go out to leisure areas to seaside resorts to parks. And some of the breakdowns we’re getting doesn’t necessarily mean people out on the roads a lot because People who leave their cars for 10 days or two weeks without starting them up, often suffer problems with their batteries and therefore we call down for that one trip where they want to go shopping. On average, we have a device called Smart breakdown. It has a little dongle that goes in your car. And we can actually see what travel patterns are. And before the outbreak, people with smart breakdown we’re doing about eight or nine miles a day in their cars. Currently, they’re doing about one mile a day. So that does show traffic is significantly down despite the government saying there was a little peak at the beginning of this week.

Carlton Reid 55:40
Does that not suggest that maybe people could be walking side by side not even cycling but walking these distances if people’s average trips are a mile that’s that pretty much on essential journeys, isn’t it?

Edmund King 55:55
Yeah, I think the problem is it’s quite hard to panic by when you’re on the cycle. And that seems to be what’s still happening, people are going to the supermarket and buying far more goods than they normally would. And therefore, people are taking the car so that they can fill up the car. Now, hopefully, there are some size that has slightly dropping off. And if it does drop off, then yes, if the distances are that short, people should be walking, they should be cycling, and should be leaving the car at home. But obviously if it’s if it’s a weekly shop, if it’s that one weekly shop, and if people can’t get deliveries because it’s problematic at the moment, that might be the reason for some of those journeys.

Carlton Reid 56:44
Now the prime minister in his briefing the other day, I mean it obviously statistics are very much not complete, but they did show an uptick in in car use last week. Is that the Kind of that stat that the Prime Minister showed or the Department of Transport showed is that exactly this. Do you recognise that stat?

Edmund King 57:09
Well, I think it’s difficult when you look at the government statistics because if you actually go out on the roads, they are pretty empty. I’ve never seen them this empty, they generally they’re, they’re more empty than on Christmas Day. So, you know, we’ve got a lot of essential traffic on the roads and probably more than we normally have because there are more deliveries to the shops. People in it’s not just deliveries of food, but there are more home deliveries as well because if people can’t go to the shops to buy basic clothing, they will order it online so you’ve got more of those home deliveries. In terms of we have seen some peaks when the weather was better prior to last weekend when people were going to the coastal areas or they were going to national parks probably when they shouldn’t have been. But that dropped off at the weekend after though those warnings. I think people generally are following the government advice. There are various rumours around at the moment that this weekend Sunday’s going to be a lot hotter and then Easter weekend people may have already had plans to get away. Normally something like 10 million people in Britain do a driving kind of staycation at least a weekend and there are questions with some of those people if you like still try and follow up with those plans whether it was going to a cottage in the countryside or elsewhere. I mean, our our message is very much in line with the government. And you know, it might seem severe but it really is don’t travel unless absolutely necessary. The reason I say that I’ve seen a couple of incidents this week, there was one in philosophy the other day single car driving too fast smashed into cars. And it called upon all the emergency services and the NHS to come out and waste their time when they could have been doing more important things. So, you know, people going out in their cars does lead to crashes, that does lead to incidents, so people really should restrict it.

Carlton Reid 59:29
So I did an article for Forbes on a whole bunch of experts and I tried to wrap you in as well. About the World Health Organisation could maybe ask a can’t demand but it can ask or suggest that may be for the duration of this crisis that govern national governments actually reduce speed limit. What do you think?

Edmund King 59:57
Yeah, I’m not really convinced that would have much difference at all because traffic is so much lower traffic in our cities is incredibly low. And people should currently be sticking to the current speed limit is slightly worrying. I’ve heard of a couple of police forces that haven’t given out speeding tickets. In fact, they they’ve written to some people saying they haven’t given out speeding tickets because of problems in the current crisis. And I don’t think that sends out a very good message because I think people should stick to speed limits and they’re there for good reason. But when traffic is so low, and you’ve got essential journeys on motorways, with with trucks with deliveries, I’m not sure there’d be any great benefit in bringing in an artificial speed limit

Carlton Reid 1:00:59
but wouldn’t not be the case of Yes, the police won’t save accidents

Carlton Reid 1:01:03
because no one’s on the roads.

Edmund King 1:01:07

Carlton Reid 1:01:08
But they’re going so thorough. They’re going so fast, though Edmund, they’re there. They’re really good. They’re not, you know, there’s anybody going.

Edmund King 1:01:16
Now this is this is a minority of cases. And in those cases, you know, a minority, they would go fast, no matter what the speed limit is, they’re going fast with the current speed limit. So if you change the speed limit won’t change the speed. What what we’ve got to ensure is that there is better enforcement’s and that’s why I think it is wrong to write to people say you’ve broken the speed limit, but we’re not going to prosecute and I, I think that is wrong. But artificially changing speed limits when hardly anyone’s on the road is not really going to make any difference. But those people that are there to speak or speak no matter what the limit is, they speak with The current limits so they would speed with an artificially lower limit. And changing those limits may actually affect the people on the roads who should be on the roads and who needs to get around and are crucial to the national effort of keeping the country running.

Carlton Reid 1:02:17
Hmm. Do you think once this crisis over people will binge drive?

Edmund King 1:02:24
It’s interesting. I actually think once this crisis over, it could have the opposite effects. And rather than everyone jumping into the car and driving off, I think some people might begin to think, do I really need to use my car every day? I’ve got used to walking a bit more or even running a bit more which which people are doing. I found that I can actually work from home pretty efficiently. I can hold meetings at home, and I don’t need to drive up to Birmingham to have that meeting. Because my tech knology shown that I can share my screen I can share documents on my screen, I can see my colleagues. So why should I drive up and down to Birmingham at a great expense? inconvenience to my time. So I I actually think that some companies and and you know, I caveat this because it’s not for everyone and of course, we will always have essential people who need to get to a physical place of work whether on the production line in in the shops, for the emergency services in the restaurants in the pubs, those people will need to be out there. But there are other people that don’t need to be in an office five days a week. And if they even worked from home one day a week that would have an immense potential effect on traffic levels on congestion on air quality, on pollution we all know during halftime On holidays, the traffic is reduced up to 20%, you’re more likely to get a seat on a bus or a train. So if after this crisis, people who can and companies that can allow it would be more open about letting their people work from home maybe one day a week, maybe two days a week, that could make a vast difference to congestion pollution and overcrowding on public transport.

Carlton Reid 1:04:29
Would it not also suggest that the Department for Transport projections historic projections that they’ve did predict prior to the to the to this crisis will no longer be valid, in which case the £27 billion road programme really ought to be looked at again, because the statistics it’s based on supposedly, will not be valid?

Edmund King 1:04:55
Well, I think the world is changing and it’s it’s probably changing more rapidly and The patterns of people working from home and their travel patterns will be changed more this year than they have in the last 50 years. So I think that will need to be reassessed. It’s obviously early days yet, we will still need investment in our transport infrastructure, no matter what happens, you know, we still have potholes on our roads there is still under investment by about £8 billion n terms of that basic infrastructure that that is important to everyone, not just drivers, but more so people on two wheels and people on two legs so we will still need investment. But I think it’ll be interesting to see after this crisis, what what what are the traffic flows have they changed radically, and if they have changed radically and indeed the same with rail travel and passengers on rail and buses If they’ve changed radically, radically and that remains to be seen, but if they have done then yes, like like any transport investment, it should be based on true reflections of what’s happening in the real world. I think it’s early yet predict that but certainly something that should be studied.

Carlton Reid 1:06:21
And the government’s going to be kind of short of cash because it’s it’s it’s it’s, it’s opening up that’s shaking the magic money tree, Edmond and it’s it’s shaking that money down for the National Health Service for the self employed. I’m putting my hand up here to keep us in business. All sorts of rescue packages are being put in place for to keep the economy on the straight and narrow. And if that’s the case, and the government does have less money in the future, my roads you know, might those juicy roads programmes which which always they they put out there You know that the conference once a year, but it’s quite easy to claw that back and bam, you’ve already saved £27 billion just by not having, you know, a tunnel under Stonehenge kind of stuff.

Edmund King 1:07:12
I mean, I do think the government will have some tough choices that the government at the moment is spending like there’s no tomorrow and probably for good reasons safeguard jobs to safeguard the country, basically to help the country keep going. And that that’s with good reason. One must question afterwards, what will the priorities be a lot of money, a lot of extra money is going into the NHS to make it run more efficiently. There isn’t a bottomless pit. There are some big expenditure projects out there. High Speed Rail for one is one that a lot of money. There’s a lot of There’s there’s divided opinion as to the benefits of speeding up those journeys, particularly with more people working from home and using technology, do you really need that extra 20 minutes? 30 minutes. So I think there would be questions there. In terms of road infrastructure, it will still be important for the majority of freight journeys that go by road and there’s very little likelihood of that changing. In fact, to some extent, what we’re finding in society is deliveries by road are actually increasing, not decreasing with the demise of the high street and this was even before the corona virus, those patterns were changing and the fastest level of growth was in the service industry with vans delivering with services being delivered to the to the doorstep. So so that was changing anyway, so we will still need transport investment, but there is no doubt about it. I guess the question is, will it need To be on the scale, or can we afford for it to be on the scale, but it was before this crisis? And I think there’s certainly questions over that.

Carlton Reid 1:09:10
And how about making investment in other areas of transport? So what would be your opinions on it, then if you’ve seen Berlin, Bogota, a number of cities have taken space away from cars in their cities and actually carved out temporary bike lanes, would you be in favour of that happening in British cities?

Edmund King 1:09:35
I think we’ve we’ve got a look a bit further than that. We got to look further ahead than that, that, that those kind of localised policies but if we’re really serious about the future, if we’re serious about the environment, if we’re serious about the switch to zero emissions, low carbon emissions, we we’ve got to be slightly more radical than than even that, and something I proposed in a sub submission to the boost an economic prize was looking further ahead. And if you like introducing kind of restrictions on journeys, but doing it in a way that’s sellable to the public. So that analysis was on the road miles that everyone in the country gets 3000 miles free that they could use in a car. After that, they would pay a charge per mile. If they lived in rural areas, they would get a third more. But the idea of that is to encourage people to think about their journeys. And if the journey isn’t necessary not to make the journey and if they do make the journey beyond those 3000 miles, they’ll pay for it. Now that would help the transformation to low emission vehicles because you’d give incentive for electric vehicles, and it would reduce travel in town and city centres rather than making small changes here and there, which yes can be beneficial on the local change, but something on a national level would have far greater effect.

Carlton Reid 1:11:10
So that was a project you worked. The opposite thing was something you worked on with your wife, wasn’t it?

Edmund King 1:11:15
Yeah, my wife is an economist. So she kept me honest with all the figures and the projections. So it was very much a jewel thing that I worked on the broader ideas and analysis and like my work life, worked on the economics of it and how it would work for the nation. And you know, there is no doubt we will have to change the way we tax transport. Because if if we really serious that after 2035, or possibly even 2030 that all new cars should be zero emissions. Well, what actually means is that the 30 odd billion pounds that the government currently gets in total Have fuel duty and vehicle excise duty, that that will then begin to disappear. And the country needs that money probably in the future in

Edmund King 1:12:11
terms of paying for the hospitals

Edmund King 1:12:13
and paying for the current crisis. And if we all switch to electric cars, the government’s not getting that money and fuel to do so the beauty of road miles is that it can change over time. You can crank up the costs over time as the change goes from fuel duty to electric cars, and it can put charge on electric cars because one of the things no doubt, look at our towns and cities. Yes, you can get rid of some of the air quality problems changing from a combustion engine to an electric vehicle, but it doesn’t necessarily get rid of the congestion problems. And even with driverless vehicles, you know, the vision of hell is that you turn up in Santa Monica in your driverless car, you get If it’s drop you off at the mall, and because there’s no parking in Santa Monica, the car just drives around around for hours on its own without an occupant and then picks you up? Well, you know, air quality might be better. It might be easier for you not not to hail a cab or a bus or get on a cycle. But it’s not good for the city. It’s not good for congestion. So we need some more radical future thinking. And we need that thinking now and I think that’s been one of the problems with government. You know, it’s it’s been working from year to year whereas the world around us is changing the the measures that we’re looking to take longer term to benefit the environment, and rightly so, are going to change the way we pay for transport the way we look at transport. But I’m not sure we’ve had bold enough, bright enough forward thinking on these issues so that we’re ready for them rather than knee jerk reactions and restrictions when it’s delivered. We’ll go to like,

Carlton Reid 1:14:01
so many of those themes that you’ve just mentioned apart from the, the road miles part, were mentioned, at least in passing in decarbonizing transport DfT paper, which is a like a goes out to consultation that, you know, people can input their ideas onto this, but it was announced it was rolled out very quietly by the DfT. Last week, but Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport,did say public transport and active travel will be the natural first choices for our daily activities, and we will have to use our cars less now, you as a leader of a motor organisation, would that not be absolutely the worst thing that could happen to a motor organisation using our cars? Yes.

Edmund King 1:14:48
No, I don’t think so. I think it would actually be better for us because the majority of people are not going to get rid of their cars, but if they use them less and use them more sensibly, then that’s better for all of us. And you know, it’s certainly something that we’ve advocated for for a long time. I mean, you you can still own a car, but you don’t need to use it every day. I own a car but I also have a bike I also have a season ticket for the railways and for public transport within London and I make a decision what what is the best decision for that journey? And some people do find it a bit surprising that the president of VA doesn’t drive into London. All the time, the congestion charge has been going in London, I have paid that charge once and only once. And because it’s not a sensible option for people to drive into London, there is adequate public transport people should use it. So know the world. The world is changing. If people don’t need to use them, Because for every journey they should think about it and substitute other means often it’s good for their health if they walk if if if they cycle if they take a bus for those journeys, but I still think and this is possibly where I differ with others. I think the predictions of wide scale car sharing are somewhat exaggerated and it may be a solution in our bigger metropolitan areas. But I always say you know, if you want to know what people think, get out of London, gota Darby, Doncaster and Darlington, and there’s a different view of life there. And people do tend to be more dependent on their cars and I don’t think that will change in the short term. I think patterns of car use patterns of journeys will change. I think the technology in the cars will change the way will become cleaner and greener. But I think having that car waiting for you outside and studies we’ve done on car dependence. So for, for example, families like having the car outside just in case Johnny or Jessica are ill and they need to be taken to the doctor or taken to the hospital. So it’s that kind of reassurance that dependents sometimes people are looking at and I think that would take quite a while before that is totally changed.

Carlton Reid 1:17:33
And that was Edmund King from the AA. So for the the Americans in our our panel, the the AA is the TripleA, the UK equivalent of the TripleA so clearly, I’m going to come to Tim here first, clearly a motoring Uber motoring spokesperson like Edmund, if even Edmund is saying well, maybe the UK Government shouldn’t spend £27 billion it was going to be spending on roads. That’s some what have an amazing road to Damascus for that particular motoring advocate. So is that something that we should be heartened by? And will it happen in the US?

Tim Blumenthal 1:18:20
Well, I think it could happen in the US. And I do think there is going to be a major federal infrastructure investment programme that traditionally would have only been about one or one and a half percent of the total dollars invested would go to active mobility bikes and people on foot. I think it’s very possible that that percentage could go up. I had an old friend in Congress who his name was Jim Oberstar, and he was one of the leaders in the House of Representatives from Minnesota and he always said Last time I checked, the same people who build roads, you are the people who build paths and trails, you know, particularly paved ones, the same machines, the same materials, and putting people back to work is going to be a priority. But historically, we’ve had really good relationships with AAA in the US, and maybe not a lot of people know this, but triple A, if you’re a member, and a lot of Americans still are. If you are on a bike ride, and you get a flat tire, or you need mechanical assistance, you can use your cell phone and call triple A and they’ll come and a lot of the triple A trucks and a lot of the states actually carry spare tubes and tools and a pump. And it’s the idea that we’re all in this together. So I I think it’s possible I’m encouraged and I love that kind of stuff. While at the same time, I’m really mindful that we have a lot of work to do to get people to rethink the way they use their cars in the US.

Carlton Reid 1:20:12
So Robin, that’s that’s a great segue into you actually, because that was absolutely what Zipcar was about, which was getting people to rethink their relationship to cars. So how surprised were you that a triple A equivalent president was was saying we shouldn’t be spending so much on roads in the future? Is that a sea change for you?

Robin Chase 1:20:32
Yes, I can’t believe it. I really can’t believe it. That is it. it’s astounding to me that he recognised that life can that he could do all sorts of things without his car. And the real trick though, is if you need a car to get to work, then you’re gonna own a car. And so I feel like that kind of circles back to where we were starting, which is what Zipcar and Zipcar only is good for. People who don’t need a car to get to work. And for me, it keeps coming back to this question, how can we improve the number of people who don’t need cars to get to work or to their livelihood? Tim’s description of the potential for a bicycle. And I want to think of it as a micro mobility network is one that I’m so deeply desirous of, and had been actually doing a lot of work on that circle around with Tim after this, but trying to tie it back into COVID. And I know you’re going down the TripleA but just give me one sentence here is if we can tie what has been said around Americans are anybody’s health, so their weight issues, and also their lung health issues, to recreation. And so I do feel that if we could let people tie those issues to respond to the pandemic and also when people are in shutdown, what type of recreation they would do this and positive and the potential for these names, these this new net network. I do do feel like there’s an opportunity there and a window that we could tie these strings together of people’s reflection on what’s been happening in these months and what new piece of infrastructure they would very much like to see. And I’ve just been thinking about all the shovel ready projects that are always chorus chorus chorus in in European and the US countries that are very heavily developed we really have built out all the roads we need to develop like we don’t there isn’t we don’t need to be building more roads. So we really could be very usefully building a this new infrastructure that I also am politically pleased by potential in terms of it’s good for urban, suburban and rural areas that even in rural areas where they have recreation paths and ultra vehicles. People love those. And so it’s something that I think is politically acceptable across all the fronts. And for Triple A I have to say I am I am astounded for AA for a I’m amazed that he would say those things. It’s pretty amazing.

Carlton Reid 1:23:12
And Fiona, I’m I must apologise I’m not too sure exactly the equivalent in Australia to the A, maybe it’s maybe it’s Australian automobile as a result of the Triple A. But how surprised were you at a at an Uber motoring geek? Who’s absolutely that that’s what he’s there for is to get more people to drive in effect. How interesting is that? And how different is that to maybe what’s happening in Australia? Or do you have somebody equivalent to Edmund who’s saying the same things and it’s it’s COVID is changing the world.

Fiona Campbell 1:23:47
Yeah, I think it was fantastic to hear Edmund King say that those things and he’s, you know, he’s he’s definitely right. And it’s not that surprising because it’s common sense. But I guess what’s surprising is we too often don’t hear Common sense from lobby groups that have a single purpose. In Australia we have, we do have a triple A but but it’s more the state based organisations that are more active. And so the Victorian version, the Royal Australian, Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, are progressive and and probably would would say similar things. But unfortunately in New South Wales, the National roads and motoring Association, one that we have here is is a bit more conservative. I think what everyone was saying about technology and working from home was was really valuable. Ai companies are now discovering that where previously they thought people wouldn’t be able to work from home because there are all these security issues and they will be able to give people access to the system, you know, that’s now gone by the wayside because they had to and so the productivity improvements of as he said, not having to drive halfway across the country or to another city to attend a meeting that can very easily and effectively be done. remotely, it really does call into question how much of our travel is necessary and how much is really inconvenient when, when we think about it. We we often hear, you know what people love their cars. But actually, I don’t think that they so much love the cars as the convenience and freedom to move and get places. They don’t love being stuck in a traffic jam every day. And if more people sort of after this, you know, in in an attempt to avoid public transport because of social distancing requirements, if more people go back to using cars and and in fact start driving, then that’s exactly what they’re going to all get the opposite of freedom, they’re going to be trapped in their car in a jam and will have lost that freedom to get around the neighbourhood with their kids. You know, as the the roads fill up with cars again, so it’s, it is really important to rethink things and in terms of what Tim was saying about potential federal stimuli less money. The purpose of the stimulus funding in various countries is to to get people back in work and to create jobs. And the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AASHTO, in 2012, published thing on how many jobs there were by project type and cycling infrastructure produces way more jobs than pavement widening or new highway construction or bridge or safety and traffic management or pavement improvement. So it’s really is that the better thing to do?

Carlton Reid 1:26:32
What why is that Fiona and why was why was it more people?

Fiona Campbell 1:26:35
It’s more complex and fiddly, a lot of the new highway construction, you’re talking big machinery and a more automated and simple thing to do whereas cycleways retrofitting them into cities and dealing with all the land ownership issues on a Greenway. All of those things take a lot more time and people resources to start solve the problems in design and also more fiddly in construction and less big machinery.

Robin Chase 1:27:06
I also want when you say that I also think we should be saying that you for the same price you can get many, many, many more miles of cycling. So it’s more labour and more output, of course, miles per mile.

Tim Blumenthal 1:27:22
And ultimately quicker, you know, this, Congressman Blumenauer from Portland Oregon always says that the entire investment of the City of Portland in their bike infrastructure network is less than what it would cost to build one mile of Interstate five on the east side of the city. So it you know, it is labour intensive, and it does require a lot of detail but from conception to finish, it can be done pretty quickly and pretty inexpensively and that’s those are both good selling points.

Carlton Reid 1:28:00
So, Tim, that that’s an argument that bike advocates and and walk advocates have used for many, many years to little real results. But do you think now is the time this is the time when actually all of that that groundwork that you people out there have been putting in for years and years and years, saying this is the cost effective thing saying federal stimulus is this we’ll get this. And is now is it just a The time is now Right. And the you’ve laid the foundations and now politicians and planners will now actually listen to you?

Tim Blumenthal 1:28:39
Yeah. Well, here’s what I know. We’re working in a lot of cities. And I’ll give you five Austin, Texas, Providence, Rhode Island, Denver, Colorado, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh. And in those each of those five cities, they’ve all committed to investing unprecedented dollars to build 100 miles or more of completely interconnected bike infrastructure, and they’re there. They’re working work, they were working more quickly than ever with a higher level of commitment. And I think that all the points that we’ve made during this discussion will push them to, to keep going in every way. So, at the end of the day, I’m optimistic in 1973 and 74. Those were the two best years for bicycle sales during the oil embargo. Those are the two best years for us bicycle sales ever. More than 20 million bikes were sold in the United States, each of those two years. I think it’s conceivable that 2021 and 22 and hopefully beyond could be a new golden age for bicycling in America.

Carlton Reid 1:29:56
I mean, there were queues out of bike shops, there are descriptions of literally people queueing out of the door. And then you’re having to order you couldn’t go into a bike shop and get a bike and take it away. You had to order a bike in because they’re in such short supply. You think that could come back those those those helican days of bike shortages, but then you fulfil that demand and then you’ve got a lot of people on bikes. Yeah, so

Tim Blumenthal 1:30:21
a lot of bike companies, even with the closure of many of their retailers are doing very well right now. And again, it’s an awkward time to be saying that your business is thriving, but direct to consumer delivery of bicycles. That’s going really well bicycle repair. That’s going really well. One big issue that’s that may hit here is that a lot of bike and bike park factories around the world have had to shut down the spring. And so there could be a shortage of raw materials either Steel, rubber other material so, but that will play out. And when the time is right, there may be a real positive story that sort of blends business and health and mobility and climate change and better communities. And it’s a, you know, we don’t want to preach but it in some it’s a pretty good story.

Carlton Reid 1:31:25
It does sound as though we’re getting some I mean, I definitely picked up a bit earlier in the, in the show Tim where you were kind of negative in parts. That’s that was very, very positive. So let me just go through the panel. Well, it will end here. And clearly it’s it’s a negative. The fact that we’re together here now to today is a negative in that it’s a lockdown and it’s a it’s a global pandemic. Clearly awful. But are we collectively? And I’ll I’ll start with Fiona. Are we absolutely optimistic that when this is over with, we will see a different world, a better world, a bicycling world?

Fiona Campbell 1:32:06
We have that opportunity. But in the past, it’s not been taken by our countries and we need to make sure that the opportunity is taken this time to get the permanent improvements that we can.

Carlton Reid 1:32:20
And Robin,

Robin Chase 1:32:21
I agree, I think we have it’s a real possibility but we have to proactively and forcefully make great arguments and make that narrative the obvious choice.

Carlton Reid 1:32:34
And, Tim, your closing statement.

Tim Blumenthal 1:32:38
Historically, I’ve been discouraged because I feel like too many American leaders view bicycling as either a kids thing or a weekend recreation thing, and and not a fundamental, powerful solution to address key societal challenges, but As the other panellists said, right now, there’s this huge opportunity. Our talking points are lining up really well, and it’s not self serving, it’s for everybody’s benefit. So at the end of the day, I’m optimistic.

Carlton Reid 1:33:16
Thank you. And thank you to Fiona in Australia to Robin and Tim, to close the show out if you could just tell us how people who are listening to this show how they can either get in touch with you personally, or give the URL for for for your particular organisation, whichever you whichever mix you want to give there, go for it. So let’s start with Tim, how do you how do people get in touch with you and how do they on social media? And how did they get in touch with with people for bikes?

Tim Blumenthal 1:33:49
Well, you know, these days, I’m happy to spend more time I’m communicating with people any way I can, but they can email me Tim at And if they go to our website, there’s all kinds of new material that directly relates to what we talked about today. And then we have really active People for Bike’s Twitter and Facebook. So, yeah, that’s it.

Carlton Reid 1:34:20
Thank you and Robin.

Robin Chase 1:34:23
People can follow me on twitter at R M like Mary Chase, RM Chase, and Numo the new urban mobility Alliance has got a lot of the work that we’ve been doing so it’s and

Robin Chase 1:34:40
catch my attention.

Carlton Reid 1:34:44
And Fiona last but not least,

Fiona Campbell 1:34:46
yeah, the City of Sydney cycling page is cycleways.Sydney on the web. And my Twitter handle is @Fionabike.

Carlton Reid 1:34:56
Fantastic. I’ve got to thank everybody for for joining us today it’s been a fascinating discussion discussion that we probably didn’t want to have in many respects in that COVID-19 has brought us together and we can we can chat about this and just anecdotally to tell you as a journalist, it’s it’s it’s very easy to contact people at the moment because they’re all just at home.

Robin Chase 1:35:22
It’s true my days ago my calendar is still empty.

Carlton Reid 1:35:26
Yes. So thank you ever so much for for for taking the time out. Hopefully we’ve we’ve filled a yawning gap in your life because you’re maybe bored out of your your mind, I don’t know. But you’re all sounds that you’re all making sourdough anyway. So so maybe your Your time has been filled up without having bicycling chat. But thank you ever so much for for taking the time today. And thank you to Fiona Campbell, and to Tim Blumenthal and to Robin Chase. And thank you to you for listening to the spokesmen, and today, this episode has been episode 242 show notes and more can be found at

Carlton Reid 1:36:13

Carlton Reid 1:36:17
until the next show, get out there and ride.

March 29, 2020 / / Blog

Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast


Sunday 29th March 2020

SPONSORS: Jenson USA, Sport Suds

HOSTS: David Bernstein & Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Jim Moss, Donna Tocci, Richard Masoner & Tim Jackson

Some of the original Spokesmen members discuss the Covid-19 lockdown and cycling. Also includes the return of “show tips.”


NHS volunteering app and site.

Sport Suds and offer, or see form below.

Map My Ride


Tour de Quarantine via Brad Sohner. — (Richard)

The Least Expected Day: Inside the Movistar Team 2019 | Netflix — (David)

Dr. Fauci & support your local bike shop and don’t take refunds on events — (Donna)

Eat and drink water when on the indoor bike — (Tim)

Sorry, nope, drinking hot drinks is ineffective against coronavirus. (Carlton)

The very funny Feedzonenews on Instagram. (Carlton)

BigRing Virtual Cycling — hi-def reality videos for indoor cycling.


The Spokesmen on Apple Podcasts.


Fill out my online form.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 241 of the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast. This show was recorded on the 29th of March 2020.

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 show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the- And now, here are the spokesmen. Welcome to Episode 241 of the Spokesmen Cycling rRoundtable podcast. No, you do not need to adjust your speakers or your mobile device, whatever you’re using to listen to this show on this actually is David from the Fredcast cycling podcast. And I’m here to, to host a very special episode of the spokesman, cycling roundtable podcast and I say it’s special because I have all my friends with me today or many of them. Have, we have quite quite the crowd today. And I’m just going to go straight through and introduce everybody because I am. I mean, I’m literally tearing out to have all of my friends with me here today during this very, very strange time we’re in and so we thought we’d all get together and and share it with you. So let’s start with my co host and actually the person who has Who is the main host and producer of the spokesman these days? my very good friend and travelling partner Hello, Mr. Carlton Reid.

Carlton Reid 2:07
Hi that David and Hi to everybody else. And we have a captive audience. Very possibly at home and absolutely here because people can’t escape. We have got them.

David Bernstein 2:22
Yeah, yeah, for sure we do. So it’s good. It’s good to have you here. You know, what I’m going to do is as I go through, with each one of you, I’m going to kind of ask you, you know, what’s going on in your world? What, what’s different about what’s happening with you? So obviously, you know, we’re recording this March 29. It’s 8am pacific time in the morning. And you know, this is these are strange days for everybody. So Carlton, you know, what’s what’s going on in your world with with your social distancing and with your family, and how’s everybody doing?

Carlton Reid 2:55
Well, yeah, it’s 4pm in in the UK, and it’s British summertime now, technically we are now in in in sunshine even though we’ve had snow today up here in the, in the winter wiles of of Newcastle in the northeast of England and my parents who are few miles away and they’re elderly and they are both ever at so their social distancing, self isolating whatever you want to say. And I take them food parcels here and there on my bike and the rest of my family to to medics and the family. So I’ve got my wife as a hospital doctor, so kind of frontline ish. And one of my daughters is a medic, so always going to be a trainee medic. So eventually, she’s kind of learning from this experience and where we’re just at home hunkering on down I’m kind of working quite hard. So I’m now working for Forbes. And I’m I’m working on lots of stories on covered 19 stories I am I am absolutely not sitting at home wondering where Netflix documentary. I’m not gonna say any more. I’m not watching any TV at all. I’m working my socks off. So that’s me, David.

David Bernstein 4:11
Good for you. And and I had emailed Carlton I don’t know, probably a week ago and asked about his wife and his daughter because of course, I know that, that Jude is a doc and that he’s got a daughter who is a soon to be doc and, knock on wood, they’re all safe right now. And we’re glad to hear that and thankful for, you know, it’s so weird these days, I was thinking, you know, we, we talked about doctors and nurses, and we talked about even truckers and grocery workers. And we now say thank you for your service as if they were in the military. So thank them for their service and give both of them a hug from all of us.

Carlton Reid 4:44
Thank you. Yeah.

David Bernstein 4:47
Moving on down the road, as I as I look at my screen here is and by the way, this is sort of the original Spokespeople podcast because when you hear all these folks that are on you’re gonna go ‘Wow, it’s as my daughters would say, The OG spokesmen. So starting with our next is our very good friend hello from the east coast, Donna Tocci.

Donna Tocci 5:09
Hi, everybody. It is a very rainy spring day here in just outside of Boston. And what have I been doing? I’ve been working as well. So I work for an organisation called the Trustees of Reservations where we have 118 different properties with trails and farms and coastline and unfortunately we’ve had to close down some of those places for now, because of the stay at home order from our governor. If you are in the United States, all of our states have governors or outside the United States you don’t know that. So our governor has put a stay at home policy so like Carlton We are very busy though even working from home trying to come up with innovative have ways to continue to connect people with nature and the farm and doing things like having. Because of the folks that work on our agricultural properties, obviously, you need to take care of the animals and the farms and things like that. So they are allowed to go and do that. And they’re doing storytime from the barnyard and giving kids things to do from home after story time to help out parents who might be teaching their kids at home and giving them some educational bits and things like that. So and more of those online programmes will be coming out in this week and in the coming weeks. So really trying to stay connected with people and and give them some of that. As far as what I’m doing. I’ve started to train as as a lot of you know, I do the Boston Marathon Jimmy fund walk every year and that’s in the fall. So that’s 26 miles of walking. So I’ve I have started my Training and I’m seeing a lot more people out on the streets here, including a mom and her two kids on brand new bikes yesterday that we’re riding around our neighbourhood what I might call the Tour de neighbourhood. And then Neil, here I keep hearing him riding upstairs every night. In the room upstairs he’s using for all of you who may want to know the wahoo kicker and wahoo bolt and we can talk about that a little bit if you want. He’s got a really great setup up there. So that’s what we’re doing like currently I have parents who are older and and so far they’re okay but we’ll be doing some shopping for them as well. So that’s what we’re doing.

David Bernstein 7:45
It’s funny, Donna, I saw a meme on Instagram. I think it was yesterday that said all it took to get my kids out on their bike was quarantine. You know, whatever it takes. You got to find the silver lining where you can moving on down the road. You just heard him give a little chuckle They’re from San Diego sunny San Diego, California because like Carlton I’ve been dumping snow here the last couple of days. So I’m missing my days in San Diego. Hello Tim, how are you Mr. Tim Jackson.

Tim Jackson 8:14
Hey, well you know as my father likes to say and given my history I’m upright and casting a shadow so that’s pretty good day for me. I’m doing okay. Things are bright and sunny here in San Diego but you talk about Hey, oh, we actually had over hail you talking about snow. Geez. We had hail earlier this week. And in our local mountains at fairly low elevations for us. We we actually had some snow here. They had to close some roads in our local mountains, which at the end of March is not necessarily normal. So it definitely had people running around in San Diego is if it was the apocalypse

and you know

David Bernstein 9:00
And hope hope that the kids are good as well. Yeah

Tim Jackson 9:03
yeah the the youngest is here with me currently she and she turns 10 this coming week so this is moving into doubles for her

why she Yeah,

yeah, exactly. Exactly.

And the oldest is away in college and in Santa Barbara and have been talking to her as much as I can you know, she’s she’s now moving on with her adult life so it’s kind of kind of hard to let go of the reins You know, I’m sure you know that when quite well. And it’s it’s an interesting time to say the least. So yeah, I worry worry my ass off a lot. But she’s, she’s enjoying Santa Barbara. She really loves it up there. And, you know, my my girlfriend and I are doing everything. We can to be as safe as possible and take care of each other and everything and the dog is completely bonkers all the time and she can’t understand why why the humans are home all the time. So, dog is happy, that’s for sure.

David Bernstein 10:18
Yeah, worldwide. I think that’s true. Excellent. Thank you, Tim. And let’s see, right next door in in the state of Colorado as my wife thankfully brings me a fresh cup of coffee is our good friend and everybody’s lawyer. Hello, Jim Moss.

Jim Moss 10:41
Hi, guys, how are you?

I’ve uh, let’s see here. I have been busting everything to get some work done. With the quarantine in countries closing their borders. The other side In my life, the mountaineering segment is all up in turmoil. So if you wrote a check for 100 to $125,000 to go climb Mount Everest this spring. What are you going to do? Hopefully you bought a the right travel insurance policy because most of them don’t cover pandemics. I’ve learned by reading them constantly for the last 510 days. The money’s already spent, you know that. They’ll spend $25,000 for an expedition for food, but it cost them $125,000 to get it to the mountain. So it’s not like you’re going to go get the money, the food back and spread it around. So it’s been an interesting 10 days. I work from home so there’s nothing new there. The end there except traffic outside my window. Normally I’d see cars go by and nowadays I’m seeing people walking and running. And a few cyclists. And then when I go go take a ride. The bike paths are just full of people, especially Saturdays and Sundays. There’s just, there’s just dozens of people everywhere. Like it’s like skiing almost. I call it moving slalom gates, where you have to actually weave around people. So Life is good.

David Bernstein 12:24
Jim, this isn’t this isn’t considered force measure?

Jim Moss 12:28
Well, no. And and so for those of you who are curious what force majeure is, it’s a French term meeting act of God basically. And although you would think that a pandemic is an act of God, that the term came into being in the 40s around the war, and so nine times out of 10, the courts have interpreted it to mean a weather disaster, or strike or terrorism. So tornadoes, hurricanes flooding, are considered acts of God. And there have not there’s not a single case that I found that says the pandemic is an act of God. So I suspect over the next three to five years, we’re going to see a lot of litigation over that. But it’s it’s going to be interesting because the cost of litigating is expensive and the time involved. And so I know if for an example, in the sports segment, the arenas and stadiums and such Coliseum have all turned to their people have said, No, we’re not giving you your money back. Because they know that it’s gonna take 10 years to get the money. And they say, you know, file a claim on your cancellation insurance. I mean, the stadiums are just howling because they’re keeping all the deposits and

all the money right now.


David Bernstein 13:52
yeah, and I asked about that, because, you know, we keep hearing that term come up, you know, as everybody’s talking about cancellations right now. Whether it’s travel or, or any other kinds of events or things, so thanks thanks for enlightening us with that, unfortunately, bad news for people who you know, as you rightfully said may have, may have put money out for for something and may or may not be lucky enough to see it back. And for those of you who also don’t know, what Jim was referring there, what he was referring to was, you know, there’s there’s a specific climbing season in you know, for instance, Mount Everest, and they cancelled it and told everybody to go home. So, you know, and climbing Mount Everest is is is an expensive thing to do when you pay your guides. And so everybody went home and they’d already cut those checks and now what so thank you Jim for for letting us know about that. And you guys are are safe and healthy at home, right?

Jim Moss 14:49
Oh, everything’s great here. I went, by the way, don’t don’t stop arguing force majority. I mean, don’t give up on it. Just, you know, just fight. There’s also the common doctrines of impossibilities and frustration of purpose that you can sometimes win but and all and that may be our so title because I think all of our purposes are frustrated at the moment

I get a show title for once.

David Bernstein 15:16
Yeah, that’s right. I thank you sir. It’s good to talk to you as always and last but certainly not least again, boy talk about oh gee, somebody who we have missed. So glad to hear his voice this morning. is our friend Richard Masoner. From Cyclelicious in Northern California. Good morning, sir.

Richard Masoner 15:33
Hi, and yeah, I’m certainly frustrated.

Yes, it’s a it’s really neat because I don’t know how many years it’s been since I’ve participated in the spokesman and thanks for inviting me first, but it’s neat hearing about you know Carlton’s kid learning to be a medic, or or you know, going in medicine. And and Tim has a kid in college. My son he is in the military currently deployed overseas, not been trouble spot thankfully, but that he is his barracks is basically locked down. He messaged me the other night saying they are health protection condition, Charlie, whatever that means. And my own daughter is home right now studying online taking your classes and but she’s also an essential worker because she works at a large national coffee chain serving coffee.

So thank you for your service .

David Bernstein 16:33
That’s about as essential as it gets? Right?

Richard Masoner 16:37
And, and, and then she’s happy to get out of the house to do that. And they are doing protective measures there. They’re only doing drive thru service, which personally kind of annoys me, but but they also have a walk up deal where you walk up to the door. After you do a file, file your mobile order and I walk into the door and they pass it through you to through the door. So there’s no widespread customer exposure. And my wife also she works at a hospital. And so she’s showing up to work every day. And she’s concerned about exposure to patients there.

And it’s a concern here.

But, you know, cross your fingers. And we do and, yeah, I work at a large technology firm. I’ve been working from home for two weeks now. And so, so I’m thankful I’m able to do that. I’m thankful I’m still taking a salary. And we’ll see how long that lasts, right? Yeah. But on the biking front, I’ve always hated indoor cycling. I hated a little I hated a little bit less now, but I hope that from the show, and maybe I’ll get some tips on how to make it a little little more efficient. Don’t

hate it less. I just do it more. Yeah, yeah.

It’s difficult for me, and maybe the stuff we can talk about during the show, you know, like Donna mentioned about using the wahoo, kicker and whatnot. I just have a regular trainer. I put your buds in, I listen to music, you know, and I can go an hour doing that, and then I just die of boredom. So so maybe there’s stuff we can talk about later on in the show.

Carlton Reid 18:27
That was good.

Richard Masoner 18:29
Okay, okay.

David Bernstein 18:31
Hey, I gotta ask you, you know, you got back into blogging on Cyclelicious, which is

Richard Masoner 18:41
Not really I haven’t blogged in over a year.

David Bernstein 18:44
So what happened so so so, you know, you’ve you’ve you’ve been, you know, sort of a light in Northern California and by the way, I say this you know, as somebody who put the Fred cast on permanent hiatus, X number of years ago and and sort of never looked back For me, you know, it was really an issue of the amount of time that it was taking. I miss it every day. And I and and I miss the audience interaction. And you know, and I won’t lie, I miss the products to test. But But mostly I just missed being in touch with all of you and with the audience. And was it the same for you? It’s just just the amount of time did you just get burned out?

Richard Masoner 19:28
burnout and to be honest, I’m spending more time on Twitter. Haha.

Tim Jackson 19:33
Micro blogging.

Richard Masoner 19:34
There’s no income for me on Twitter, but there was a Yeah, there wasn’t much income for me on cycle efficiency. So that’s that’s not really that important to me. It’s not why I do it, of course, but But yeah, I think there’s more interaction for me on Twitter. I’m still undecided what to do about the blogs.

David Bernstein 19:52
okay, but it’s still out there. You know, like,

Donna Tocci 19:54
I wonder if there’ll be more blogs. I wonder if there’ll be

Tim Jackson 19:57
no just an endless flow of podcasts.

David Bernstein 19:58
It’s a good question. You What’s the point? You know, podcasting has changed too, right? I mean,

Jim 20:07

David Bernstein 20:08
When we start when I started the podcast when we started the Spokesmen, your podcasting was more grassroots. Today, podcasting is very much business driven by large corporations and broadcasting firms and it’s a business. And as you rightfully said, Richard, you know, on I felt like I made I made pennies on the Fredcast. And you know, and pennies on the Spokesmen, thankfully. But it was more of a labour of love. And now as I think it’s just more of a business and I think it’s the same way with some blogs as well, right. Oh, yeah.

Donna Tocci 20:48

Richard Masoner 20:50
the, the, the blatant efforts they make to try to get you to click through the ads is really annoying to me. You know, I mean, I had advertising to support cyclists and whatnot but, but just the real, you know, like click through the slideshow and everything else is just kind of but that’s not what this podcast is about. So I won’t go off on

David Bernstein 21:10
that I yeah, we’re, we’re becoming the Statler and Waldorf of. So, so last but not least, what am I doing? So, so interesting I was. So I actually started a new business a year ago, a consulting firm. So this is sort of a strange time for me. My, my main gig for those of you who don’t know, I am in the industrial laundry world I fit I’m sort of third or fourth generation of my family in that world and don’t think, you know, a room full of machines that you put quarters into. These are machines that are as big as a house. And so they they, yeah, in hospitals, you’re an essential worker to actually yeah, so our industry is essential because it matters And all of those healthcare workers and all of those patients, and I do have a lot of clients that are in the healthcare world, doing linens and scrubs and doctors uniforms and things like that for, you know, in surgical gowns and all of that for the healthcare world. And so it’s been, it’s been busy. But as many of you said, You know, I work from home when I’m home on a regular basis, and my wife works from home and what she does, so our dog is used to having people home, although he’s happy to have a couple more people in the house at the moment, full time. So my I have two daughters, as everybody knows, and they are both grownups and great people, wonderful people, one of whom works for actually the city of Salt Lake in an essential role, but she she’s telecommuting as well. So she’s at home. And then my oldest daughter works for school in Los Angeles and their campus is closed and said they said, you can work from home and so she said, Well, great home can be home home. So we have a full house. There’s four of us. And we’re trying not to drive each other crazy. And the dog is getting more walks than he knows what to do, which is wonderful. And it’s for me, I have to ride indoors anyway. Because Christmas day I blew out my knee. and a month later, I got a brand new ACL. And so I’m on my indoor trainer. And I’m not allowed to go outside for a couple of you know, on my bike for a couple more months. Anyway. So as much as like Richard said, I really hate riding indoors. It’s keeping me safe. It’s keeping me sane, and it’s keeping me relatively fit. And it’s helping me to rehab my knee. So that’s a great thing for me, so. So yeah, I’m glad everybody safe. And I hope you say that way. Oh, one more thing. I also have elderly parents, they live in Los Angeles. And we have introduced them to grocery delivery. And they have embraced it. And it’s working out great for them. And my father calls himself I won’t name his street name but hits the prisoner of his street name. So he’s decided that you know, they’re stuck at home and I’m just I’m damn glad that they’re doing that and that in their 80s they’re staying healthy. So,

Richard Masoner 24:04
you know, I’ve been seeing so many like, like, the movies about like, I watched The Great Escape. I watched Alcatraz I watched last night Papillon.

I just relate more now.

David Bernstein 24:17
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, it’s amazing. So so so let’s use that sort of as a transition I mentioned and I’m going to ask you guys to raise your hand if you’d like to be the first one out here but

Jim Moss 24:31
I got five bucks that says hat lasts about two minutes.

David Bernstein 24:37
I said before the show everybody you know, Carlton was said you know, let’s let’s David you know, just call on people and I said, Yeah, I don’t think that’s gonna work. But let’s see what happens. How are you or are you using any any cycling in any way, whether it’s it’s watching cycling or participating in indoor cycling, and if so, let’s get into some details. What are you doing? Tell me how are you using cycling to stay Saying and we’ll look at that. Jim, you raise your hand first. Go right ahead, my friend.

Jim Moss 25:06
Well, I had to switch computers I had to you know, it’s a nightmare. So you got lucky. Believe it or not, cycling in Colorado is an essential service. So the bike shops are still open. And this is my favourite thing. I’m an essential service as an attorney. Now, why, why we need attorneys right now. It’s still not figured out. But so I just, you know, do the normal I have not changed my cycling regime at all. I either Well, I don’t leave from here yet. I should because there’s no cars on the road. But I I too, was injured in December and I just, I got back got permission to go skiing and get on my bike. And three days later, they close the resorts. I had zero time on my season passes. But I can ride but I’ve been going down the bike path because sitting and not doing anything for three and a half months, I think it might average speed is just getting into double digits right now. I did a hard ride last week and ended up not being able to unclip for my pedals. Features we’re going to move that direction. So it’s Saturday. You’re right. I mean, it’s just anything getting outside seeing people, tonnes of people. Not many people. Yeah, too many people. Yeah, that’s in all honesty, that the social distancing even, it’s a little more difficult because there’s so many people and if you’re walking, I don’t know how you actually able to maintain that.

You know, I mean, I

I’m passing people on the left, so I’m thinking that their head is, you know, my backside and I’m quickly leaving it behind at least my own theory, whether or not actually but

Richard Masoner 26:58
and I have comments about that. I’ll Feel free to jab

when I get to my so in, in my area, a lot of the bike advocacy advocacy groups are, are you know, since there’s dramatically less car traffic they’re saying open up car lanes so that their social distancing for all these people that all of a sudden are out walking and biking and running. Because you know you have a six foot sidewalk or in a lot of cases even a three foot sidewalk there’s no way you could leave six feet of space. And then right next to you you have this four lanes of expressway and there’s only one lanes worth of traffic or maybe two lanes of traffic. Let’s shut those couple of those lanes down and turn it into a walking path. I don’t know what kind of success they’ve had. I know the people up in San Francisco have been really pushing for especially some of the park roads to be shut down and and there’s this waterfront road called the Embarcadero. For those of you that are familiar with San Francisco, it’s a while Boulevard. And, you know, they’re saying, I mean, the Embarcadero also has a wide sidewalk along most of it. But but they’re saying shut down one of those lanes turning into a walking or biking lane, please. I haven’t followed it closely. So I don’t know what kind of success they’ve had, if any. But that’s a suggestion that I think needs to be talked about or should be talked about.

David Bernstein 28:20
Carlton, I think this is a great place for you to jump in. Because as as, as I’ve been looking at your writings on Forbes, I mean, these are, these are the kinds of questions that people are having these days. What’s happening, for instance, in the UK as concerns being able to go out and exercise outside and are people maintaining social distancing? And what about the kinds of proposals like Richard was talking about?

Carlton Reid 28:46
Yeah, people haven’t been doing social distancing very well, which is why the government is having to constantly ratcheted up the stricter measures so they’ve they’ve been very laissez faire. To date, and it’s been getting stricter and stricter and the messaging hasn’t been terribly good. I know America famously isn’t terribly good. Well, we’re not terribly good either. So Italy, Germany, Spain have all been very good. They’ve been given very strict instructions like distance from the house, you can go time you’re allowed to exercise for all these kind of things. We haven’t had that until today, in fact, where the government has today clarified, but still hasn’t clarified it very well, that you’re allowed to go out for about an hour. So before it was you can go out for you can have a one session of exercise per day. Well, for cyclists, that’s all that a nine hour ride them, that’s fine. Okay. Well, graphing and they haven’t factored in. cyclists are going to exercise for multiple hours. So they’ve now said, okay, you can grab for one hour. So that’s now you know, brings it very close to home. So I guess the message is Got to be you can exercise, but don’t do it with a bunch of people don’t do it where there are lots of other people going to be there. So that’s why I think Richards point about widening sidewalks getting a lane of a car lane brought into being like an exercise would be a fantastic idea everywhere. Because the sidewalks aren’t wide enough. The bike trails aren’t wide enough. So when everybody is going on bike trails and I’ve been on a tonne of bike trails recently close to where I am. There’s just so many people, as Jim was saying, there’s just so many people so we’re going to have to have somewhere where we can go exercise and it can’t be maybe where the current trails are. So that’s got to change. But thankfully we are allowed to exercise. I mean, I think government pretty much everywhere recognise we have got to do that. Otherwise, you’re going to just kill people from lack of exercise, not because of morbidity of falling away from heart attacks, just the stress levels that will go through the roof if people can’t get that kind of air into the lungs. So I haven’t actually done any indoor cycling yet. So I know David, you’ve done a load because of your, your your knee, etc. I haven’t done any. My daughter is now asking about setting a bike up in the carriage, which we have because my son, he’s got some fantastic kit down in the garbage. He’s actually somewhere else. He’s actually living in the girlfriend right now. But we have got the equipment. I haven’t set it up yet, thankfully, because I can still get out there and one of the things I can actually do, and here’s me being such a nice kind person, I volunteered for the NHS to be like a career. So at some point, when I’m okayed, I’ll be able to go out for a lot longer during the day on my bike, delivering prescriptions and bits of food for people via this official volunteering app. So I’m sure a lot of people in the UK and 700,000 people have volunteered for this. There’ll be a lot of people a lot of those 700,000 people will be avid cyclists, you want to get out there for eight hours a day, and and carry on riding, and I’m going to be one of them.

Jim Moss 32:09
You know, we have a different thing going on here, which I think find interesting. We have single people who are out exercising, running or cycling or whatever. But the majority of people occupying the bike paths that are new are families. And these are groups of 468, sometimes 12 people. And we’ve never had that before. I mean, there have been two people. But half the cyclists now are at least twos. And a lot of them are threes and fours. And the people walking are all in groups of five or six. And that’s quite interesting fact that Miami may have a long term benefit of families actually getting outside and spending more time together. They’re not moving fast. They’re mostly talking and yeah, yeah, there’s some benefit out of this, right. They’re not moving Faster they’re talking in there. You know, you just spent a lot of time yelling at him. Please heads up, get on your left. Oh, that passing on your left. You know when you say it, you have to explain it. But it’s very difficult for people that are out exercising or why shouldn’t they exercise are outside right now? Yeah.

Donna Tocci 33:22
Yeah. And that’s that’s the same in the trails, because I know here they’ve actually for mountain bikers, some of the different parks have closed them to mountain bikers, because so many people are out walking in the woods and you know, big families. And as you said, Jim, it’s not single walkers or people in single file. It’s families with kids running around. So the mountain bikers are having less and less places to go, because there are just so many people outside, which is great in one way and not great if you want to be right. Yeah,

David Bernstein 33:54
for sure, Tim. Yeah, go ahead.

Tim Jackson 33:56
Yeah, there’s a lot of congestion issues now. with stuff like that, and you know, and, and there I’m of two minds, I’ve been riding indoors and outdoors at all, even though I could in theory, you know, and part of my thinking was swayed by ironically, my friends in Italy who are dealing with a lot of scary times there. And even even the people who are allowed to be out and exercising are choosing not to because of the concerns of the the what if scenarios if you even if you’re riding by yourself, if you fall and need medical attention, you’re adding to the strain on the system. And so they’re just telling people just don’t just please don’t and Italy actually the only people who are allowed to ride are professionals and they have to have permission to be able to get out and train and in Spain, they’ve shut it down completely. Even the pros can’t right outside. So you see a lot of the guys and Girona which has become the pro Mecca, sitting on their balconies riding they’re their trainers. And so I’ve been riding indoors and I’m very lucky, spoiled rotten that I am to be able to ride on a, a wahoo kicker and have now been exploring the world of swift and just to Richard’s point an hour in Zwift totally kicks my butt and I’m, I leave about a gallon of sweat on the mat when I’m done. It’s it’s pretty, it’s pretty grossly impressive.

Or impressively gross.

Richard Masoner 35:42
I do feel like I’m working out harder when I’m when I’m indoors because I’m because because the sweat doesn’t go in anywhere. I do have a fan. Yeah,

Tim Jackson 35:50
yeah. And I have a I have exactly I got a fan blowin’ and I got a window open right next to me and I’m still just drenched by the time I get off. It’s I feel like my my kit is so soap like, I just jumped in the bay. I mean, it’s I’m completely drenched down to my socks. And another thing for me is that because I’m an idiot, and don’t have a switch in my head that allows me to just pedal softly and warm up for 10 minutes and then do some efforts. You know, you drop into swift world and just start pedalling and it’s like, oh, hey, the group just went by going, you know, 30 miles an hour, and they’re all riding at 500 watts. I’ll do that too. And so within an hour, I’m left panting and draped over my handlebars going What the hell just happened to me. I used to ride for six hours and not have this much sweat What’s going on? So it’s, it’s kind of demoralising at the same

David Bernstein 36:44
so so for somebody who has

Tim Jackson 36:46
to these avatars come by riding through you and there’s one with a ponytail and it’s like this chick just kicked my butt.

David Bernstein 36:54
So for somebody who has to ride indoors for so many months during the year, you know, when because it’s too snowy and icy out. Inside, I can tell you from experience that that writing indoors is clearly a more intense experience. And if you think about it, when you write outdoors as as, as Tim sort alluded to, you know, when you first start, you know, maybe you’re sort of soft pedalling, and you’re warming up, etc. So there’s there’s that there are hills, which of course, you go up and you have to, to, to exert a lot of energy, but then there’s, you know, there’s the sense and you’re not pedalling or you stop at a stoplight or stop sign and so there’s and there’s some coasting going on. There’s none of that when you’re on your trainer. And as a result, it is always a more intensive effort. There are those I think fat cyclist elden that fat so he does like a whole lot less. Oh, yeah, yeah. elden from fat cyclists, I think does a century every year. As as a as a fundraiser if I’m not mistaken, and, and I can’t imagine writing 100 miles on a trainer. I would just I’d be a wet noodle. I mean, it’s just it’s just forget about it.

Tim Jackson 38:03
That’s that’s a hard No. Yeah.

David Bernstein 38:06
I want to talk a little bit more about that. And I want to come back to it in a moment but but first I if I may. And this is something you know that we do here on the spokesmen all the time, and it’s nice to be able to do it live. And that is, I just want to jump in and thank our friends at Jenson USA for sponsoring the show, continuing to sponsor the show. For all these years, they have just been amazing and they continue to be amazing. Now for those of you who may be new, and I can’t imagine if you’re new, you want to listen to the rest of us. But for those of you who’ve been with us for a while even those of you who are new Jenson USA is an online sites, Jensen And they sell everything that you might need for your cycling lifestyle. And I’ve said for years and years that they are one of those sites that you go to that has an amazing selection and great prices. But I think what really sets them apart what differentiates them from the other sites online is They have really unparalleled customer service. They have these folks there. They’re called gear advisors. These are not folks offshore, who they’ve hired to just sort of answer their phone. Now these are these are people actually. Right? And so when you call and you’ve got a question about a particular piece of kit that you’re planning on buying some component, whatever a bike, they’ve likely use that product and they know a lot about it and they they give you answers from a position of knowledge and experience and they’re called gear advisors. And even during this crisis that we’re all in worldwide, those gear advisors are still answering the phone now they’re answering their phones from home. So if you heard dog bark, you know, it’s just like you working from home. It’s kind of hard to keep your dog from barking when you know the UPS guy goes by. But they’re still working. They’re still working from home now. They’ve made some adjustments and what they’re doing their retail stores aren’t open. For those of you who may be in Southern California, or there there will call pick up isn’t open but other than that They’re still working because as as we mentioned a little while ago, bike shops and cycling services are still in a lot of places considered an essential business because let’s say you are volunteering for the National Health Service or let’s say that you are needing to ride your bike to work to commute to work, you need those products for what you’re doing, or maybe you’re cycling indoors, and you’re looking for a product to help you do that. Jenson USA is a great place to go. So I really encourage you as you are looking to support businesses, support small business and support those who support the Spokesmen and your cycling lifestyle. Go and check them out there at We really thank them for their support of the Spokesmen. We thank them for doing what they’re doing to maintain all of our sanity during this time. And we thank you for supporting them as well. So thanks to Jenson, USA. Now before we get back to the show, Carlton, I think you had a spot that you wanted to talk about. Well,

Carlton Reid 41:00
yes, there is. So it’s not really an advert as such. But I do want to thank Jenson USA, because I want to thank all bike shops, because clearly a whole bunch have closed to protect their staff for whatever reasons, a whole bunch have kept open, and they are providing a vital service, especially keeping bikes on the road for key workers. So I know there’s a whole bunch in the UK and I’m sure it’ll be the same everywhere else. But in the UK. We’ve got a whole bunch of NHS workers who are cycling to work for the very first time and an awful lot of the bike industry is getting those bikes back on on the road for those people and you know, doctors are getting their bike stolen unfortunately, and then that five bike companies quickly come in and replace that that bike when it gets publicised. So the bike industry is doing a tonne of good at the moment to get people moving. However, that’s not what I wanted to say. I wanted to just remind people of the previous show There was a promotion there for if you’re going to be doing lots of indoor cycling, you’re going to need your, your your kit washed, especially with all that sweat that Tim’s talking about. And so it was for Sport Suds. So this is a US only Canada only offer it I’ll put the link in again into the show notes. It’s for a company that I believe is a Canadian company that does this sport specific detergent, that it does it in a clever way in that it takes all the smells out, because when you actually have perfume in a detergent, that’s actually something that the smells can actually latch on to in reality and actually stay in the garment and the sport and especially getting a sport garment. So like the the Merino walls of this world and you know the, the the base layers which synthetics they can keep these palms. As soon as you start exercising, they come back again. Whereas this stuff, the sports thirds takes it out. And I’ve got an offer for US and Canadian readers listeners only so I’ll put that link in so sorry to everybody else around the world it isn’t available to you yes please but you guys you can you can sign up and I think that memory is it’s a you put your email in your get a discount code comm what may if you put your email in, and then at least one person gets some of the sample kit sent out to them US or Canada only so sport and the reason I mentioned it twice, is because I got it wrong. The last time I got it right in the text but wrong when audio catch put an extra s and I caught it sports sides and it’s actually sports. suds. So I had to just correct that, David so so let’s get back to the show. David

David Bernstein 43:48
will do and thank you and by the way, of course I’ve I have you Sports Suds. And you’re right, Carlton, it’s it’s it’s a good product. I think I met them at an outdoor retailer show a number of years ago and Yeah, they’re they’re a great company. So until we hear that

Richard Masoner 44:12
I can smell you all the way from Santa.

Tim Jackson 44:13
Yeah, you’re not the first person to say that.

Richard Masoner 44:17
You need them.

David Bernstein 44:21
So So Tim’s using a Wahoo Kickr. And he’s using Zwift Are you using anything else? Besides this is what I really wanted to talk about now. Besides Zwift or is that sort of your software of choice right now?

Tim Jackson 44:35
Right now? Yeah, the Zwift has been because I’m new on the whole Kickr thing and the virtual training so you know, because I’m, I’m so old school analogue. Normally I would just be on my track bike on my rollers in the driveway freakin my neighbours out as they walk by. But my my rollers are old enough. I need something a little Yeah, I need I need better focus. And so the the whole swift thing and the wahoo has been a huge plus on top of the fact that I snap the belt on my rollers and just need to replace it.

So that that made riding the roller is done

David Bernstein 45:17
right so Tim’s got a Kickr in Zwift. I was gonna ask you, Donna. So what’s Neil doing?

Unknown Speaker 45:24
Well, what I can tell you guys what Neil has been using and what I’ve been hearing, as I’m in my living room, with some Netflix, David, that Neil’s been upstairs riding like crazy, but he’s been riding Ireland. And if you know I said I live outside of Boston. So how he’s doing that is he is using the Wahoo Bolt with the Kickr. So he says he can go to Mapmyride and choose any road that you know, that you may ride every day or someplace that you’ve written. Before and you can connect the Bolt to the Kickr and you can ride that course. So he says you don’t need any Zwift. It’s independent. You don’t need Zwift. There aren’t any visuals, of course. But you can watch your TV or whatever while you’re doing it. And he has been riding roads that he used to ride in Ireland, and he says it is exact. So that might be another option for some folks. Yeah, every night he goes.

Richard Masoner 46:31
So does he have a like a big screen TV in front of them too and all that?

Donna Tocci 46:36
He does? Yeah. And then he’ll you know, he’ll just put something on or something like that. He also he does this with but he really likes doing this because he can map out his own ride and knows where the hills are and all of that and he said he did a he did a route around here to test it out and then go back and do it on the bolt and he said it was so The roads at home are exactly like he remembers with probably. And he would like so. So there’s another another way to do it if you don’t want to if you don’t want to sign up for swift

David Bernstein 47:13
and Richard, you’ve been riding indoors but you said just just you said if I remember the way you put it You said you know, just on a trainer,

Richard Masoner 47:20
yeah, just on a trainer earbuds listening to trying to find music tracks that are the right BPM, which is, you know, I’m finding all these spinning, indoor cycling, spinning tracks that are kind of fun to listen to. I’m a, I’m a real neophyte when it comes to trainers because where I live, the cycling weather is pretty much year round. And some of the things that Tim talked about as far as I am doing some outdoor cycling because I live on the edge of the Santa Cruz Mountains and it’s not hard for me to socially isolate among these little one lane mountain roads and there’s no one out here. I’m seeing All right, yeah. But the problem is because there’s a lot less traffic the few people that are out there driving like in yaks. The CHP I suppose there’s article CHP are clocking people at over 100 mile an hour on on like these, like, not even highways. And I live for those that know the area I live off of Highway 17 in Northern California. And there’s just some really spectacular crashes even when the weather is nice. So that that has me a little concerned. I’m not normally afraid of traffic. But when people are just whizzing by at ungodly speeds, you know, just it gives me pause but I do still do. I’m doing some outdoor writing when the weather is nice. It’s raining today. It’s raining yesterday. It’s been often on this whole week. But I am doing more indoor cycling. So a friend of mine gave me an old Kind of a castaway magnetic trainer. So I set it up in my son’s now abandoned bedroom. And it smells like a gym now because I’m sweating like crazy.

Carlton Reid 49:09
Sport Suds.

Richard Masoner 49:09
And it’s well, you know what? I’ve been using them for several years now and I’m a happy customer. Right?

And they don’t even have to pay me to say that. But yeah,

yeah, yeah, they work well. Okay, and you know, I have my I have my trainer setup. So I look to look out the window, what to traffic and I’m just listening to music. So I yeah, I’m kind of looking at things like this cadence and speed sensors because I don’t even have Bluetooth attachments for those things. So I could hook it up to Zwift and I might, I might give that a shot this next week.

David Bernstein 49:52
There you go. Cool.

Donna Tocci 49:53
I have to say, if I can just jump in. People are coming up with some really innovative ways to See their cycle at home or I saw and you can see them if you search online there are these two little girls that were set up in front of a peloton and their parents had put their they had training wheels, you know, they’re a little. And their parents put the training wheels like on shoes. But I also if you go to Twitter and you search cycling rooftop, there is a guy that is is on his bike on a rooftop and he’s going around and around and it’s not even that big of a rooftop. So I think people are, you know, if you want to ride and you have restrictions, you know, Carlton was talking about restrictions or we have some here to there. There are ways to get in your ride. And

Richard Masoner 50:40
I think my wife’s

Donna Tocci 50:43
very innovative.

Richard Masoner 50:45
Yeah, my wife’s Jim said that they could. The customers longtime customers can borrow their spinning bikes if they want.

Jim Moss 50:53
Oh, wow, that’s cool. I saw I tweeted out a guy who could run a marathon on his eight metre balcony deck in

which just the turning every, you know, eight metres would just crank your needs it took me like eight hours or something like that.

David Bernstein 51:15
I mean Wow, that’s dedication. Oh well


Jim Moss 51:23
That’s stupidity! Yeah, I can’t you know what my trailer

you know the classic me on a trainer is the movie Up, you know and the yellow squirrel and the dogs all run the other direction is come on come on TV and it gets my attention and I fall off, you know, rollers and I get off my trainer that moves and I go back to my 30 year old Rei one that stationary, you know seikaly pair knees again, and I can write it and then another commercial comes on. I’ve done

just mentally it’s just more than

David Bernstein 52:04
one of the one of the problems you’re

Donna Tocci 52:06
talking about David that Yeah, I’m doing. Doing a century?

On a trainer?

Tim Jackson 52:14
Oh, yeah. There’s a lot of those. I’m still, I knew a guy who used to do that every year on his rollers.

Carlton Reid 52:23
Oh no. Okay, but, Tim

Who’s the guy who won the Paris-Roubaix and he just used…

Unknown Speaker 52:30
Matt Hayman. Yeah, yeah, from Australia. (2016)

Tim Jackson 52:34
Talking about a Cinderella story. Yeah, he spent the winter virtually pretty much only training for a number of reasons. I can’t remember what the reasons were if it was injury coming back from injury or, or just it was it? Yeah. Yeah. And and he spent almost the entire winter prep leading up to Paris-Roubaix training on a on a trainer as opposed to being on the road and then ended up winning the thing.

David Bernstein 53:00
You see that, Jim? You, too, can win Paris-Roubaix.

Tim Jackson 53:06
It’s how Merckx did it

David Bernstein 53:14
Yeah. Um, yeah. Okay, I was gonna, I was gonna, like go down the road of like talking about riding on cobbles because it’s not my thing but I’m not. I’m not going to do that. Hey, you know, but that bring Okay, two things before I want to switch gears here. No pun intended. First of all, yeah, thank you. So, yeah, so first Yeah, we’re taking a turn here, Jim be prepared. Firstly, one of the issues that people are having today because everybody is interested in getting on a trainer is that it’s getting harder and harder to find. I was just clicking through literally as we were talking on Jenson, USA, they’ve got them but their quantities are relatively limited. what’s what’s nice is that is that it’s showing that they’re going to be getting some more trainers in stock this week. So you know, make sure that you check Online check Jensen USA because they are harder and harder to find and I also suggest and I’ve made this tip before this is not my tip today so if you’re curious about which trainer to use if you’re curious about the differences between them if you’re curious about the difference between swift and suffer fest and trainer road and all the other things that are out there, the site to go to, in my humble opinion as DC Rainmaker, I just think that he does such he he his reviews are what I always wanted my Fred cast reviews to be he does such a great job and it’s so in depth. I think you should Yeah, really deep deeper sometimes then you may want but I’m telling you, rate is a great job DCs as in delta Charlie. go check it out. That’s that’s absolutely where you’re going to get the best reviews. That for those of you who maybe haven’t been riding indoors in the past Think that he’s really going to help you out and finding what you’re looking for. I do want to switch gears real quick and

Tim Jackson 55:04
similar to his his reviews on power metres for people who are Oh, yeah.

Carlton Reid 55:08
And he’s done drones. He does everything electric. Virtually everyone out there. Yeah,

David Bernstein 55:15
Drones, too?

Carlton Reid 55:16
do some very good reviews on like athletic drone so drones that will like follow you when you’re when you’re cycling. So it’s very good on that. What

Richard Masoner 55:25
I didn’t know there was such a thing.

Jim Moss 55:27
You see people skiing with them until they cut too close to a tower or tree.

Unknown Speaker 55:35
For sure.

David Bernstein 55:38
Let’s all sing George in the Jungle — “Watch out for that tree.”

Jim Moss 55:41

David Bernstein 55:43
yeah. Okay, so real quick. So for those of you that are cycling fans, I’m I, I, I are one.


you know, this is this is Spring Classic season. And yeah, right and there there are no springs classics. It’s like I, I go up and down my TV dial. And I see you know, the 1996. NCAA Final Four, or I think tomorrow they’re showing Rams chiefs from last year. I mean, it’s just all this former sort of sports stuff. Tim, I’m gonna come to you because I’m hoping that you know the answer to this question. Where are people finding their fix for professional cycling today?

Tim Jackson 56:25
Ah, they’re looking at YouTube or they’re dusting off their old VHS and DVDs because you know, they’re there’s nothing there’s nothing happening and current live actual cycling right now. It just, it just isn’t. So there’s a lot of

let’s rewatch the classic classic. Yeah.

So some folks,

Unknown Speaker 56:50
some friends, Jen C.

Tim Jackson 56:53
And Jason Thorpe. have both been trying to organise a Bit of classic classics and have been sharing links and times where on the weekend they’re all getting together and watching a given race and they’ll share the link to a recording on YouTube of you know the last 40 minutes of coverage of get bevel gum from 2009 or whatever so they’re they’re kind of trying to you know keep keep the Stoke alive and have some fun watching together as a group and you know sitting on Twitter and all commenting about Oh, do you see that move? Yeah, I remember that stuff like that so there’s there are ways to be creative about again getting that little bit of a fix but it’s it is very much a wasteland right now. Yeah, cuz there’s there’s just nothing happening. And I mean, hell that I mean, darn. There’s the the gyro has been pushed out with no confirm new date that The tour is in question. Although, you know, ASO is lobbying like crazy to continue to have the tour ramble on without an audience just so that it happens.

So it’s a little bit

Carlton Reid 58:14
They could do on Kickrs

David Bernstein 58:18
That’s right.

Donna Tocci 58:18
There you go

David Bernstein 58:20
through, you know now I mean, and that’s where cycling.

Tim Jackson 58:24
Cycling is really growing right now. Go ahead. Sorry to cut you off again David. But when I forget which one of the races it was think it was Paris-Nice when Paris-Nice was in doubt still went ahead. Mitchell Middleton Scott pulled their team from the race and instead did a series of swift events for their fans to interact with the riders. And it’s proven so successful they’re continuing to do that. Now other teams are looking at ways that they can do the same thing and and build and foster community with the team and the riders during this time and continue to you know, make the sponsors happy because let’s face it, if there’s no racing, what are the sponsors paying for? And you know, that’s that’s a big big deal right now. That’s one of the reasons why so many teams are saying the tour really needs to happen people because that’s what our entire sponsorship budget is based on.

Donna Tocci 59:24
Hmm, well, yeah. And I know in other in other sports like in a NASCAR, they’re doing i-racing, they’re actually having it on TV today. They did last week as well to be able to have their fans be able to connect or watch and I know that Tony Kanaan, who’s a an IndyCar driver, he’s very into cycling, and he does triathlons and long, long cycling. He every Monday, he’s going on Zwift, and He’s inviting his fans to come and ride with him or to lace him or anything like that. So I think you’re right Tim. People are They’re getting their sponsor names out there. And, you know, and all of that because even for those guys at that level, it’s the sponsorships. And, and, you know, frankly keeping fans engaged with them

you know, yep.

David Bernstein 1:00:17
Yeah. Well, shall I just quick question because I was I was totally going to go to down on the NASCAR thing and of course she brought it up and I’m glad that she did with with NASCAR doing their their virtual racing, which I think is really really cool. Is there no virtual other than than what Tim was mentioning with Middleton Scott is there no. Virtual bike racing?

Richard Masoner 1:00:40
right now. Let’s see if this will work. Here

Brad sohner on Twitter. and whatnot. He’s been posting video of path cyclists, okay. And he’s catching catch capturing. Yeah, like there’s a guy on a trailer. And he like, he sees a couple of women up ahead on a path. And so of course, he has to get into competition mode and he gets up out of the saddle to try to pass them. And this guy is doing like professional style, race commentary on these path cyclists. So today is you know, sir, yesterday was stage six of the Tour de Quarantine. And it’s hilarious. Yeah, it’s fun. Yeah, definitely worth it is. Tim, your thoughts? Sounds like you.

Tim Jackson 1:01:38
Oh, yeah, I it. I haven’t seen all of them yet. I need to get caught up on on where we are currently. But Brad is one of the better race announcers in the country. And he’s done a lot of big events and he’s taking his downtime from covering real events to creating the Tour de Quarantine and it’s very tongue in cheek And I’m pretty darn entertaining and I definitely definite hat tip to to Brad for that because he’s he’s adding a much needed level of levity to being trapped inside.

Richard Masoner 1:02:16
And he’s got GC rankings. He’s got somebody doing some pretty close to professional level of graphics and music. Oh yeah, he’s got he’s got helicopter sound effects, crowd noises and kettlebells and everything else so he’s got a pretty good team helping them out or if he’s doing it on on his own. He’s doing a great job. He’s nailing it, whatever.


Donna Tocci 1:02:39
you got to get the cowbell.

Richard Masoner 1:02:42
It’s a lot of fun to watch. It’s Brad sohner on Twitter. So h n er, and I think he’s doing it on Instagram and maybe his Facebook also.

David Bernstein 1:02:53
That’s awesome. So, Richard, is that your tip?

Richard Masoner 1:02:57
That’s my tip. Yeah, that sounds good. I mean, we’re an hour in, right?

David Bernstein 1:03:00
Which is a great transition.

Thank you.

I want to hear the clickety clacking of your keyboards because it is that time of the show the time that you love to hate. It’s the time that I’m going to ask you all for your tips. And just so to give you a little bit more time to look for what you want to talk about, I am happy to talk about my tips. Second, since Richard just did his, and that is for those of you that are looking for something to watch on telly, and you’re not and you want your your Fix of cycling, I found something new today. I think it was just recently released. And it’s it’s really fun to watch and really interesting. And that is a series, a documentary series on Netflix for those of you who have Netflix called the Least Expected Day and subtitled Inside the Movistar Team 2019. So, you know, there have been a lot of these kinds of sports documentary Over the last couple of years, it’s sort of been I as an NFL fan, there have been a number of them where they they profile one NFL team throughout its preparation for the season. And you know, every week, it’s another week in the life of that team. And this is a year in the life of the movie star team who was a dominant force in 2019. had, you know, the world champion on the team? And of course, you know, folks like Nairo Quintana who’s always a contender and always up there at the top, especially when we’re talking about mountain stages and things like that. It is really a very interesting study in professional cycling and for those of you who have wondered what it’s looked like on the team bus, and in the team car, and at team meals, it’s it’s a really great look inside professional cycling. I will warn you, it is in Spanish, and so if you don’t know how to read this is not the show for you. So Jim, sorry.

Jim Moss 1:05:02
I knew it was coming!

Unknown Speaker 1:05:06
Yeah, sir. No. Writing. They’re not very good at reading.

David Bernstein 1:05:11
So no, it is a really great show again. Wow. There you go. It’s called the Least Expected Day inside the Movistar Team 2019. You can find it on Netflix. And I hope that you enjoy. So now who do I go to next? Oh, Donna, thank you for raising your hand, you’re up.

Donna Tocci 1:05:34
I wanted to see if it would actually work.

David Bernstein 1:05:36
It did. And so now

Donna Tocci 1:05:37
you don’t know on our software here. You can raise a hand

Carlton Reid 1:05:42
Tim is flashing. I don’t know if that’s like a pyjama thing…?

Donna Tocci 1:05:50
So my tip is kind of twofold. One is not about cycling, I would say in the surreal times that we’re living in if you’re in the US, please Listen to Dr. Fauci. He seems to have the best affirmation. He’s very clear, concise. He’s not an alarmist. He’s not political. He’s just a scientist. And we listen to him a lot. So please listen to him. My cycling tip is these are very surreal times and for your mental health, whether you’re cycling or walking, you’re inside, you’re outside. Keep up your routine, do that support your local cycling community. And there are some ways that you can do that. by going to your local bike shop here, I know they’re offering curbside service, home deliveries even so you don’t have to interact with them as much but they would really, really like the business and also, if you were signed up for a local cycling event, and they offer a refund if you can, don’t take that refund because that may mean that that Event gets to go on another time. These are a lot of times these are small, you know, small organisations or your local bike shop putting on an event. They don’t have a tonne of extra cash. And sponsors may not be paying to be part of it because of contractual things, Jim. So if you can help support them and your local nonprofits if you had, you know, events that you were signed up for, and they offer a refund if you can, don’t take that refund because that will help them and that will help your cycling community going forward.

Those are my tips.

David Bernstein 1:07:36
I love it. Great tips. Thank you, Donna, Tim, because you were flashing raising your hand you are up next.

Tim Jackson 1:07:44
I guess no good deed goes unpunished. That’s right.

You know, mine would just have to be in line with my personal experience on swift and death. Definitely would be to remember even though you’re riding inside, and yeah, you’re sweating like crazy. Get a fan open a window, that kind of stuff is great, but also remember to keep hydrating. I’m pretty good on the bike on the road remembering to drink, you know, and I’m a big proponent of not dehydrating because it really stinks when you do. And I one of the first rides that I did on Zwift about halfway through it, I realised that that my right calf was cramping like crazy and I was like, what is going on and then I realised that at like, 45 minutes into this ride, I hadn’t even taken my water bottle out of the cage once yet I’m going full bore from the minute go. So remember to drink. It’s important, as well as if you’re going to go over an hour and God bless if you can, you got more more focus than I do. To you do still need to even though it’s indoor and you don’t feel like you’re getting a real workout your body still thinks you’re getting a real workout so remember to eat and drink on the bike because it just because it’s indoors on a trainer doesn’t mean it’s not the same effort

Carlton Reid 1:09:16
10 times add to that maybe also drink maybe after it’s not during but afterwards drink a warm drink even me hot drink because there’s been some studies [NO THERE HAS NOT, MY BAD!] that show that the coronavirus really doesn’t like anything above 40 degrees. So if you actually drink a hot cup of tea that’s doing your math some good so I’m personally I’m not a very hot tea drinker or hot coffee drinker. I have been drinking slightly hotter than I drinks and I have been previously so that’s that’s kind of it that’s not my tip, but it’s just general health tip is drink hot liquids. {THIS IS WRONG]

Tim Jackson 1:09:57
works great for my coffee.

David Bernstein 1:09:59
Me too and straight from the mouth of a partner of a doctor. So that’s that’s a great one. Love it, huh? Um, Mr. Moss, counsellor, what’s your tip? And by the way, thank you, Tim. That was that was what? Well, I mean just perfect for the times. So I appreciate that counsellor you’re up

Jim Moss 1:10:25

no. Why

not have a tip is

everybody is not getting as much money as they used to. I had my tires changed for the first time. When I got my tires changed winter tires to summer tires, and I left the $20 tip for the guys that did it. And they were ecstatic. I’m half the staff was gone. The other half was not making as much money. I tipped I got my car wash I tip You’re not spending as much money going out to eat dinner, or you’re not spending as much money to do other things. And if you don’t have the money, don’t tip. But if you can, I’m leaving tips. I’m carrying as many fives and 20s as I can, and I’m just leaving them wherever I can, to the people who need them, you know, the most to just try and help because I it’s those people, you know, 20 bucks helps. Hopefully, they’ll remember me and they’ll pick the right nursing home for me, but more importantly, more importantly, you know, if I can spread it a little bit when I had the opportunity, and right now’s the time to do it.

David Bernstein 1:11:38
Yeah. Good for you.

Donna Tocci 1:11:41
Oh, I love that. That’s great.

David Bernstein 1:11:44
quick story on that. My, my sister and her husband are, you know, for writing. They’re at a higher risk. And so they chose to do grocery pickup. You know, where you Everything they shot for you. And then they just put it in the trunk of your car. And so they left in the trunk of their car, an envelope with a tip in it. And the person who was putting the groceries in the trunk said, we’re not allowed to take the tip. And so my brother in law, to his credit, rolls his window down and drops it out the window and goes, oops, I dropped some money on the ground. And the guy was like, Oh, look, I found a 20. So, I agree. I agree with you, Tim. That’s that’s an excellent. That’s it. That’s it. Carlton, I am going to give it to you for the final

Carlton Reid 1:12:36
tip. Two kind of tips if you want some laughs and you’re on Instagram. And I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it is a really cool one. Oh, Tim likes this one. And that’s feedzonenews. Great content and constant content, really regular stuff. And it’s just like he’s still going on. He maybe I don’t know. I think it’s a he. He’s still going and it’s true.

Tim Jackson 1:13:00
It’s a he and he’s a good guy.

Hey, yeah, okay, it’s

Carlton Reid 1:13:02
top quality content. Thank you Tim. My second tip and that is i mean i have i’ve got to admit, when I do go on the indoor on the bike I do use Zwift and I’m a big fat fan like Tim of Zwift. If you do get tired of the artificial world and the volcanoes and all that kind of stuff, and you crave in this in this weird time that we’re living, you absolutely crave a bit more reality. Then go to it’s called big ring virtual cycling. And it’s similar to what Donna was saying, but it’s also got tonnes of actual HD footage of genuine climbs and it may seem is like good climbs. So I’ll do as the LT which is the the volcano in tenor reef. It’s just got really good content of real stuff real Life riding, which is very different to Swift. But in this time and day and age, I think could be quite welcome. And right now, there’s not a plug but right now there’s actually a 14 day free trial. So maybe you can see the majority of the lockdown if you’ve got to lock down where you are with a free trial to two bigring virtual cycling. So that’s my tip, David.

David Bernstein 1:14:31
I love that one. I had not heard of it. I’m ashamed. I had not heard of it. And it’s, it’s it works with my trainer and, and a lot of others. I’m looking at it right now as I see I can hear everybody clickety clackety and I’m gonna give that a try today. I think I’m going to use that for my ride today. Thank you, Carlton. That was excellent. All right, I want to sort of go down as we always do, and just you know, everybody, let us know who you are and where you can be found. I will start and I’m gonna To go from the bottom and go to Carlton so he can wrap up the show as he normally does. So yeah, I’m David Bernstein, formerly of the Fred cast. Wow, always of the Fred cast cycling podcast. And if you go to the website, you’ll see that things are broken and ads don’t work and things like that. And I just I can’t bring myself to take it down. So if you crave if you crave, you know, cycling news from 10 years ago, be my guest. Go download the show and


We’ll run the show number one.

Don’t listen to show number one of any podcast including mine. But I think you know, we always say where can you find me? Well, right now you can find me right here at this desk. Because I’m not on an aeroplane. I forgot to mention, I travel a tonne. And I was just looking between January one and the end of March of last year, I had more than 20 flights already under my belt. And this year, I think I have four. So that should give you just an idea of the change that’s gone on. I would say that the place where I am posting the most these days is on Instagram. And so you can see all my great quarantine content, including my dog out for one of his umpteen walks per day. And that simply Fred casts that’s my handle on Instagram. So, enjoy. And by the way, Carlton, I just subscribe to feeds on news. So thank you for that. Um, Mr. Jackson, where can you be found?

Tim Jackson 1:16:24
Well, you know, we were talking about missing blogging, I miss blogging and have tried multiple times to kickstart it again and again, and it hasn’t worked. But they’re they people can find me at two wheels and half a brain on WordPress, but most of the time, right now I’m on Instagram, Timothy Jackson, and

I’m trying to think here for a second the the

one of the things that quarantine has been doing is forcing me not forcing me but allowing me To spend a heck of a lot more quality time with my typewriters and reconnecting with my other passion away from cycling, which is writing poetry. So I’ve been spending a lot of time on my Instagram account, analogue assassins. And there you can, if if you are interested in not knowing what my cycling brain is thinking, then that’s that’s where you can find that. Hmm.

David Bernstein 1:17:31
Excellent. Thank you, Tim. Richard. Hi.

Richard Masoner 1:17:38
The blog is still online, although I’ve updated it in over a year. But you see why CL I see io Cycle issues. Mostly you can find me on Twitter. See why ci I can’t even say it anymore because I don’t say it anymore. See why CL. e. Li CIO us cycle licious. Just search for my name on Twitter I think you’d probably find it Richard Masoner or Instagram occasionally just usually on the stories and that’s that’s more of a personal account but you know cycling discussion and whatnot on Twitter mostly.

David Bernstein 1:18:17
Excellent. Thank you

Jim Moss 1:18:18
Mr. Moss recreation dash that’s my website and not as frequently this year so far. It’s just been a crazy year. Recreation law if you want to get a hold of me or recreation law on Twitter it’s been a good year if we keep going and make it such if we keep worrying, we can make it a really bad one. So I’m going to make it a good year. Get my way I’m going to run you down but it’s going to be a good

David Bernstein 1:18:58
there was a positive difference. A positive message in there, folks. Thank you, my friend. I appreciate it, Donna.

Donna Tocci 1:19:09
You can find me on Twitter at Donna Tocci. Or you can find me on Instagram, off and on. That’s more personal stuff with my nieces and my dog, but also my walks and some cycling there. And that’s also Donna Tocci. So, I wish you all well and good health. And thanks for joining us again. Hopefully we helped your mental health a little maybe. I don’t know. It certainly helps with being with everybody. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 1:19:39
That’s cool. Amen.

David Bernstein 1:19:41
Amen. It’s always good to be with friends, isn’t it? Yeah. Yes, that’s it. Even if virtually all right Carlton, I am handing the reins over to you take it away.

Carlton Reid 1:19:52
Oh, thank you, David. I am mostly on Twitter at Carlton Reid. And then now where I used to say bye bye. I can now say so it’s and I’m doing a tonne of coronavirus stories and as all Forbes journals as all journalists full stop because unless unless you’re doing those kind of stories you’re not working at the moment that’s that’s pretty much the job in trade for journalists coronavirus stories. So this has been David this has been everybody this has been Episode 241 of the spokesmen. And I can actually say roundtable cycling podcast I have been I will admit I have been taken out the Round Table of late because we haven’t had the round table. It is so good to have the round table. Thank you for joining


today and actually having that virtual round table so it is the Spokesmen roundtable podcast, cycling podcast and show notes you can find as per normal on So the show notes for today, including all those lovely, wonderful tips that people gave will be on there. And my next or their next show will be 242. And it isn’t 242 some like magic number, or that just 42 I think it’s just 42 isn’t it? So 242 will be the next day just 40 Yeah,

Donna Tocci 1:21:23
we’re magic to that.

Carlton Reid 1:21:26
Yeah, there you go. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s 42 is the number. That’s right. Yeah, exactly. So 42 is there so it’s 10.2. I’m sure that’s also a very magical number. So that will be the next show. And I would absolutely like to have everybody on the show again. So if we are doing multiple weeks of lockdown, maybe we can, cuz we have this captive audience because we have you there and you can’t go anywhere. Maybe we’ll do this. This this show again in 242 will just be us. ranting and raving here.


get out there and ride indoors or a little bit outdoors if you’re allowed to. Goodbye, folks.

March 10, 2020 / / Blog

Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

We don’t use Facebook or Google, we support the bikepacking community”: Tori Fahey, Apidura

Tuesday 10th March 2020

SPONSORS: Jenson USA, Sport Suds

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Tori Fahey, Apidura bikepacking bags


Fill out my online form.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 240 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was published on Tuesday 10th of March 2020.

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 Jenson 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 show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at

Carlton Reid 1:04
And now, here are the spokesmen. Hi there I’m Carlton Reid and on today’s show I’ve got some audio I recorded a little while ago with Tory Fahey, one of the co-founders of bikepacking bag maker Apidura. Want to know what Apidura means? You’ll find out soon but first here’s a shout out to our show supporters, Jenson USA and Sport Suds. Check out the commercial break for my co-host David and his run down of why Jenson USA is the bees knees, and hang around for a giveaway and discount code for the specialist athletic gear detergent, Sport Suds. I’ve done a show with the founder of Restrap bikepacking bags and my son has waxed lyrical about his use of Arkel bikepacking bags but on today’s show I talk with Tori of Apidura.

She and her partner founded the company after competing in the Tour Divide and identifying a need for race specific bike packing equipment. Folks like my mate psychologist Ian Walker, who ride across Europe fast and need robust, but lightweight bags. As you’ll hear, Apidura also has a strong moral compass. Here’s my chat with Tori. You are Canadian. I’m guessing here from your educational background.

Tori Fahey 2:31
That’s right. Yeah, born and raised in in Calgary, Canada. But I’ve lived in London for the last six years.

Carlton Reid 2:39
So we’ll get on to why you’re in London. But first of all, I’d like to ask about the company name. So

Apidura, I can kind of get the dura from durable and the api is from bees because of your logo.

So Latin for bees, a breeze, all that kind of stuff. So why bees

Tori Fahey 3:01
Well, good work to to break it down. That’s exactly right. Why bees?

The real story? Well, the real story is that when I first got into club racing, I had some issues of anxiety and would dress like a bee to overcome that. So the the B has a special place in my heart because it brings back some memories of my really cycling career. And but it’s also a very nice symbol for cyclists because they are light, they travel fast and far. They have a social aspect to them, but they they can also be very independent and interdependent at the same time. So for me it was there’s a very natural connection between bees and cycling. And yeah, there are bees. In the same way as the scientists endurance cyclists travel long distances and last a long time. We build gear to hopefully

Do the same.

Carlton Reid 4:02
Okay, so you talk there about your early racing career. So what was that early racing career and when.

Tori Fahey 4:09
And so

I want to be, I don’t want to make it sound like I was hardcore racer. But

when I first got into cycling, which was really as an adult as a first as a commuter, and as a it was really a utility thing at the start, but that grew into club racing, cyclocross and mountain biking, predominantly. And I guess this was about 20 years ago, that I really got into it, and then got more into touring and travelling by bike in the last 10 to 15 years.

Carlton Reid 4:48
So that was in Canada. So you you you became a cyclist in Canada? Yeah, that’s right. There’s a really vibrant community. In Canada, I suppose. All around the world. There are vibrant

Tori Fahey 5:00
Communities of cyclists. But I feel like Calgary is particularly unique because perhaps because of the harsh climate,

people find ways to enjoy bikes and come together despite the harsh conditions.

Carlton Reid 5:16
Now looking at your LinkedIn profile,

and this is where I found out that you’re obviously Canadian because of your your university background while I was guessing anyway.

And looking at you’ve got a finance background and you’re very, very eminent finance background. So tell me a bit about


Tori Fahey 5:37
Sure, I guess. I was always fairly good with numbers in science and through university. This eventually

guided me fairly practically into the world of economics and finance. Calgary is really an oil and gas town. So there’s a bit of a limited range

have different career options you look at when you come out of university and that was something that fit well with my interest and skill set. I spent about 10 years working in Calgary after leaving University

and enjoyed that. It was a really interesting time to be working in the sector. And but I also had other interests that bubbled up and kind of took over. So it’s, it’s an important part of my life, but it was also something that only represented a subset of my interests.

Carlton Reid 6:35
But clearly, it’s gonna benefit you massively running a business. I think there are definitely some insights that I get out of that.

Tori Fahey 6:43
Within the finance world in Calgary, I was working for a startup. And that was working with other startups. So I think that

gave me a bit of insight in terms of what I might want to do.

What I might not want to do in starting another business. It’s a very, I was working in a very different sector. So

there were a lot of new things to learn in my current

position. But I think it’s, it was probably a window into an exciting world of learning and trying new things and gaining the confidence to be able to learn as I go and find a path that wasn’t necessarily taken before really is starting a business is about that the finance side of it.

It certainly helps. It’s not easy to build a business in this in this sport. We’re in the outdoor industry. So having a good sense for numbers and making sure that you don’t fall into a big trap.

Probably helps you.

Carlton Reid 7:55
So, I’m looking again at your LinkedIn profile here and the current partner

As thing where it says here on your profile a bit was a start up and then it became Canada’s second largest energy sector private equity funds. So energy sector because of Calgary, which you said is is oil and gas place. So you’re a specialist in the finance in your kind of your geographical area. That’s where it came from.

Tori Fahey 8:22
Yep, that’s right. Well, it’s a it’s a strange one because we were really looking at businesses before they started. So it was really around people and understanding ideas and the chemistry to make a business. It’s I think, from an outside perspective, it’s easy to look at energy sector and think of big oil companies, but that’s not what we were working with. We were working with, typically engineers and geologists and understanding the ideas they had to take a business forward and I think, honestly, that’s the the biggest thing

Took away from that experience it was less about finance and it was more about

creating a team and understanding the the different skill sets and ideas that need to come together to make something work.

Carlton Reid 9:16
And where did cycling fit into that if at all was was that a time when you discovered cycling and you used it as part of the business like that the the cliche the cycling is the new golf kind of thing or the world’s completely separate. Cycling

Tori Fahey 9:32
For me it was a way to counterbalance a very intense lifestyle professional lifestyle. I was working a lot and travelling a bit and I needed something to

unwind and to regain some balance physically and mentally. So really cycling at the at the start was commuting and then getting back in shape and bringing some joy and balance back.

into my life. And so it was a separate thing, but really an essential part of being a whole person.

Carlton Reid 10:09
Okay, and then you, you, you, you left that, and then you you then started doing an MBA and then you got into doing

other other educational stuff. So what was the thinking there?

Tori Fahey 10:23
And yeah, it’s not a particularly straight line, but actually, so I left Canada in 2009 to pursue an MBA that partly came about with out of a desire to travel the world by bike.

But my thought in before approaching that was that it would be good to learn a second language. Before travelling the world, all the way I was born and raised in Canada, I was raised in Western Canada, which meant French wasn’t a particular priority. So I hadn’t retained as much as I should have had an idea to move to France.

And learn the language. And in the process of thinking about how I would do that, I came across an MBA school based in France. And it also had a campus in Singapore. And it just seemed like a great opportunity where I could continue to learn and be in a setting where I could meet other people.

And I could work on my language skills as well before setting off on a grand adventure

Carlton Reid 11:30
which is 2011 I can see the countries you’ve been to many of the countries I’ve also cycled in. So that that that’s pretty cool. So Jan 2011 on the LinkedIn profile it says

Tori Fahey 11:43
and then talk me through those trips because that they’re not all in one go. I’m presuming they There are over a number of years. Yep. So and some life circumstances presented an opportunity to pursue something that had interested me for a while which was to cycle the length


I was completely fascinated by the idea of doing a 12,000 kilometre ride. And it was the right moment in my life to do it. So I spent the first five months of the year writing from Alexandria, Egypt to Cape points, Africa. It was amazing and loved it. And I just wanted to keep going. By the end of something like that it’s really difficult to reintegrate into

an urban setting and to sleep in a bed. So at that moment, the tour divide was right around the corner. And I decided it was a really good moment I was in great shape and had a desire to keep going. So I got ready for the tour divide which is actually where

the the story of Apidura restarts, but the tour divide was, it’s a an off road race from Banff, Canada to the border of Mexico 4200 kilometres along the Continental Divide.

It’s 80% off road and has the vertical equivalent of ever seeing six times. So very different experience and something that’s started to bring what had previously been two worlds together and then those two worlds being and my recreational cycling world and my travel and bike touring world.

Suddenly I could enjoy the the regular cycling experience, but also travel places and see new people in places by bike in a very comfortable and joyful way.

I continue to go back to school, I pursued another degree in Public Policy, which was also something that interested me.

And, and following that my other cycling experiences include crossing Europe

in a self supported way, I’ve been through Central Asia, from Pakistan, western China and carry sound and then

So the Caucasus and Iran did a actually our honeymoon was in the caucuses in Iran which was fantastic.

So it’s I guess I’m an all or none person. So I like to go on tour for a while and then come back and try some other things and then go out again and reset.

Carlton Reid 14:22
You mentioned getting married there. I’d like to talk about that in a second because that sounds pretty cute. But go backwards First of all, because I want to see the progression on lightweight bike packing gear. So that Africa trip what what bags were you using for that trip? That was that that was a lightweight, you’re going pretty fast on that trip, the Africa trip.

Tori Fahey 14:42
Actually, Africa was a supported trip. And I think that’s one of the reasons why the tour divide fascinated me so much.

Because when I was travelling with others in Africa, and bags were not a consideration that has its luxuries, but it also has

some drawbacks, and I think there’s a certain sense of achievement that you have to understand that you have. You’re you’re fully responsible for going from A to B, but also having the flexibility to choose your pace and choose your direction.

Carlton Reid 15:18
Right. So Africa, you basically had a vehicle with you taking your bags, you weren’t really thinking about bags there at all.

Tori Fahey 15:28
No, it’s a very different experience in that way. Not thinking, not thinking about bags, not thinking about navigation. I’m just thinking about writing hard. So it was a race. So so when you do the tour divide, what bags are you taking then? This is now self support. And

so I at that moment, basically, going into the tour divide. I had done a fair bit of bike touring prior to that.

in Patagonia and Western Europe, northern Canada, I had done enough bike touring to know that a conventional setup was not going to work for me. And I needed a different bike, something that was better suited for offroad I needed something lighter, so I could travel farther and faster each day. On some parts of the divide. There are some very long sections between services. So it’s either you’re going to carry a huge amount of stuff, or you need to be able to travel fast, so that you can get to your next service point.

appropriately and I chose the faster and farther wrote

I was lucky enough to have a friend base in Calgary, who’d gotten me into backpacking effectively, who helped connect me with some use gear. I also cobbled together a few things myself. So it was a bit of a patchwork of

used and partly assembled gear. But it was a sufficient leap from my prior experience with rockin panniers, that it was clear to me that there was this was a revelation and

the direction the future direction for any travel that I would do by bike. And it was what sparked an idea after that, that maybe you could bring in more modern production technologies and materials to to bring the quality of reckless bags up to the same level that we expect from our bikes. If you think about how much time you spend.

Looking at the details on your bike, what stem what spokes to use, you should spend at least that amount of time on the rest of the details on your bike including your bags, and that you should go beyond what you can do on your home sewing machine.

Carlton Reid 18:00
And think about what other materials and production technologies could make that even better and take the experience even further. Because when I when I post photographs, and I’m a historian, so when I post photographs of 1880s cyclists, they’re not using rack and pannier bags, they’re using bike packing bags, in effect rolled up rolling on their handlebars. So this new people think of this as a very modern thing, but bike packing is, in effect older than if we’re going to call it cycle touring the rack and pannier thing. So, you know, the rolling upstart and strapping it to your bike is very, very old.

Tori Fahey 18:40
Yeah, it’s not a new idea. By any means. I think what is different? I guess there are a few things at work.

I reckon panniers

probably for the last 40 years. Once that came out and worked for people. The industry got a bit sleepy and people

just settled into that being how you carried stuff on a bike. And they forgot that you could do it in a more basic and simple way, a more basic, simple and flexible way.

And unfortunately, it also led to, I think, an idea that you needed a special bike for touring, which is really unfortunate. I think touring can work for a lot of people with a bike that they have, and might be even more like more enjoyable experience than going out and buying a different bike.

Yeah, so the the industry got a bit sleepy. And now I think it’s much more interesting because

there are bringing modern production techniques and modern materials to some old ideas about how to carry has made a big difference. Also, some development in terms of

bicycles and the type of more versatile bikes that you can get adventure bikes and gravel bikes with

Better clearance, capable of slightly wider tires. And the whole adventure and gravel movement has also made the idea of reckless carry more interesting and appealing for a broader range of people. Indeed, so the idea for Apogee Eric came during the tour divide when you were you were cobbling together all of these, you know, these bags and you thought, well, we could do it this way. Is that is that where it came on? on that, that that tour divide? Yep. And even then the idea was not about, oh, let’s make a business to do this. The idea was about trying to get better gear than I had, take it a step further, be able to ride with some friends. But inevitably, you you start to go down a road and you learn a few things and you get more ideas and you learn a few more things. And it was really a two and a half year process of exploring different ideas.

Writing, testing different ideas. And

until in 2014, we opened our doors.

Carlton Reid 21:08
So who’s we?

Tori Fahey 21:11
So the business is owned and operated by me and my husband.

Carlton Reid 21:16
What’s your husband called?

Tori Fahey 21:19
My husband’s name is Pierre.

Carlton Reid 21:21
Tell me about your honeymoon then. And so you were touring together? Yeah.

Tori Fahey 21:25
For our honeymoon, we went to Iran. We took a bought a one way flight to Baku in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan road westward toward Georgia. And I’ve Kasia and then so through Georgia and spent another two months in Iran

slightly unconventional idea of a honeymoon but it worked really well for us and it was also a good moment. This was in 2015. So

it was a good moment to tell him do some really close up product testing.

Carlton Reid 22:00
product testing on your honeymoon, okay. Now, so that was that was while the company has already been going. So the you got married. And the company’s been going for a year at this point, effectively a year and a half.

Tori Fahey 22:15
I mean there was a when you say going, that means

open for business. Really there were a couple of years of work that went into it before opening. By 2015, though we had our first full time employee, so we were very lucky to that our first full time employee was exceptionally competent and helpful. So he basically kept things going while we went from one internet point to another and checked in with the business while we were out.

Carlton Reid 22:50
So tell us about the growth. But tell us about the progression of the business since since foundation through your honeymoon and and today

Tori Fahey 23:00
Sure, it’s interesting that one of the first words that you said there was growth, because it’s a word that gets used a lot when talking about how a business develops or how a brand develops. And I think we do things a little bit differently, largely because of how this came about in the first place that it wasn’t about

making a business or making a job for ourselves. It was about a need to that we had as as writers, and so the progression of the business effectively at the start was just my husband and I.

working within the resources we had bring in some outside resources from time to time to help us unlock

a few doors or to to understand new spaces better. We hired our first full time employee in 2015 and have slowly been

built the team and transition from a company that basically transitioned from making stuff to a company that makes stuff, which is a

big transformation. For a small team like ours, we’re a team of 15. Now,

a third of that is strictly focus on product. And we have a full sample room, we do rapid prototyping, and how we

we’re constantly working on new ideas and testing different ways that we can do the things that we do better. Another third is around service and community. And then the rest of us just make it fill in the rest of the gaps, which are a lot.

We’ve, the team has grown by necessity and also by interest. The more things we do, the more things we discover,

the more resources we need, but I think we’re finally at a spot where

We’re capable to pursue just about any idea that we have, in a way that is exciting. And we feel we have the knowledge to do it. How we’ve held the rest of the business has developed like the the product range. Other things that we do as a business, like our community involvement, the content that we create, these have all how we thought about this is less about growing the business, or developing the business and more about what is our role? Why are we here? What can we add to the community?

We think about what we do something beyond physical product. When we think about what we do as a that we’re members of the community effectively, where do we want as writers beyond physical product, it takes much more than a physical product to make something accessible or fun. You need a whole infrastructure and ecosystem to make that work and that means creating knowledge.

creating and sharing knowledge, storytelling and inspiration, and creating the environment around the physical products that we develop

to really help each of us get more out of the experience.

That’s a very long path around to your question, but is that what you were looking for?

Carlton Reid 26:22
Oh, well, that’s totally up to you. You’ve got to tell me exactly how you you’re doing it from your point of view. So

advertising, are you how are you getting out to people? How are you telling people that Apidura exists?

Tori Fahey 26:36
Um, that’s a good question. Again, this is something that we have

a slightly unconventional approach to. We don’t do conventional advertising.

Because this isn’t about building an empire. This isn’t about

having to grow a certain amount each year or be a certain size.

So for us how to reach people, we would rather build the community and support community organisers like TCR or transatlantic way or the adventure syndicate.

We’d rather put what resources we do have into community building like that, rather than giving it to Facebook or Google and trying to push impulse buying. So advertising money out of said originally would have been well, you know, print advertising, but you’re just saying you don’t even do Facebook or Google, you’re driving traffic that way you’re driving traffic by,

in effect being out there in the rider community. Yes, because I think we try to take our our business decisions in the same way that we would want

other businesses to do as consumers. So my view on advertising is that the world is extremely noisy.

I don’t want to be another brand filling that space, whether it’s on the internet oriented magazine, I see enough advertisements, and I don’t care for it as a consumer. But I do care about when I’m thinking about buying something, I do care about what my neighbour says, or someone I trust, word of mouth is essential for us. So which means that we have to have a very good product to back it up. But ultimately, that’s going to help us sell to the people who are going to use our product. And it’s going to make sure that people are making purchasing decisions for the right reason, not because they saw an advertisement or read something, they are buying it because they know what they’re getting into. And this is something that is going to improve their experience for us because we’re not growth driven, or allowing those sorts of quantitative targets to guide our decisions.

We were

not pursuing an impulse purchase, we have no interest to

convince someone to buy our product only to have it sit and collect dust on a shelf. There’s enough crap in the world. We are about building quality gear to help people do the things that they love. And there are enough people out there who share our values and our mindset

that we we can make it work. So we are content with that and not looking to to take all of the pie for the sake of it or to

Carlton Reid 29:37
to try to push product on people who don’t need it. And then you use ambassadors so so people who are using your product anyway, but doing it

at the extreme level and the fastest level so people who are pretty good at riding bikes, it will it true. The what’s interesting about our ambassador group is one

Tori Fahey 30:00
It’s not most of them came in as customers first. And we have seen in them

qualities that fit well with what we are trying to promote. Part of that is

performance oriented. Of course, it’s nice to see the boundaries of human achievement. But it’s not only about that i don’t i don’t racing is not for everyone. I don’t think that that’s the only thing that matters. We also support writers who are

community building, and writers who are exploring other frontiers, such as,

maybe it’s new spaces or new,

new places to ride new ways to bring other people into the sport. The adventure syndicate is a good example of this. That’s although Jenny and Lee who run the organisation are very high calibre athletes.

They are really community building and bringing young women into the sport and opening their eyes to the possibilities and the empowerment that you get from riding a bike.

Carlton Reid 31:10
So, of course, people can go to and can see your stuff. But just describe your range. So let’s have the oral treatment of you selling your range what what are your elevator pitch if you’re if you’re in Dragon’s Den or whatever, trying to raise investment if indeed you ever were because you don’t need to, because that growth thing.

Tori Fahey 31:33
Just telling me about the product, I’m sure so you’re correct that I don’t really have an elevator pitch because we have not raised external capital.

And it’s not something that I we spent a lot of time doing to, to sell the business in this way or so, what we do in this way, and our product range is exceptionally focused. When we think about introducing a new product it needs

To meet a number of criteria, not just being an exceptional product, it needs to add value in some way

to the bike packing or carry community. We’ve got three ranges, three core ranges by country, which is effectively our original lineup, but it has evolved over the last four years.

It’s targeted predominantly at off road cycling

and, and more recreational riding.

The expedition series which is a welded product, we were actually the first brand to introduce a fully welded, fully waterproof bike packing system.

We showed it first in euro bike in 2015, but released it in early 2016. That’s basically for anyone doing long distances, all weather, any conditions, sort of writing and people who need extra capacity, who might be crossing the continent or

Going for any sort of extended trip. And we have a racing series, which is targeted at faster rides audax as well, but people who are travelling in a compact way where every ground matters and don’t need the additional capacity, but just one, they still need to carry something but in a very light and streamlined way. We do have a few other products including we did a collaboration with Rafa back in 2016. Those are sold out now. But we’ve done a few

other products outside of those core ranges, but those are our main products.

Carlton Reid 33:38
Does it pique your interest or annoy you when people are mixing and matching between brands? Or do you think that’s absolutely what people should be doing so they should have an aperture this and they should have another brand for this or what’s your thinking there?

Tori Fahey 33:52
You know, I should probably be bothered by it. But what I think it’s just good if people get out

When people mix and match is actually a learning opportunity for us because we can see where we may not be meeting their needs precisely. And it gives us a reason to think about whether there’s room for improvement on the products that we make, or whether we can think differently about a new product to better suits the needs of the market. So, at the end of the day, whether whether someone’s using our gear or someone else’s gear or a mix of the two, it I think the best thing is that they’re just getting out and riding and enjoying the bike in this way.

Carlton Reid 34:38
I’m going to break in here for a wee bit of a commercial break, first with my co host, David, and then I’ve got an offer for those of you with an American or Canadian mailing address.

David Bernstein 34:50
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 their unbelievable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who 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 spokesmen. 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 36:16
Thanks, David. And here’s that offer I was talking about. One lucky listener will get sent a 500 gramme zipper pouch of Sport Suds detergent, and one Sport Suds washing machine cleaner. All those who enter the competition will also get a 25% of voucher for spending on which delivers to the US and Canada only, so you’ll need an address in one of those fine countries. To enter go to the show notes for this episode of the spokesmen podcast it show number 240 and fill in the form. Sport Suds, for those of you who don’t know, is a specialist detergent for athletic gear.

cycle by including Merino base layers. Normal every day detergents are designed to leave things in your clothes after washing things like fabric softeners, anti static additives, optical brightness, and fragrance. All of these leave residues, which bacteria clings to feeds on quickly causing a stink. What you need instead is a detergent free of abrasives and harmful chemicals that removes all of this gunk. When your cycle kit smells like flowers, or like an ocean breeze, that’s a fragrant residue that may actually inhibit the fabric performance and cause the fabric to stink more than it ought to

be your chance of grabbing some Sport Suds or definitely getting a 25% voucher, go to the hyphen. let’s get back to the show and Tori Fahey of Apidura.

Tori Fahey 38:08
We assemble in China. We do all our of our design, prototyping and testing

out of London and then with ambassadors worldwide, and we sourced materials globally. Basically, our approach on the manufacturing side was that quality was essential there, there was no question that quality had to be there. This was something you relied on in the wilderness. It was something that needed to meet the same standard as you had with the rest of your cycling equipment. And in the two and a half years that we spent

working on our initial designs and thinking about production, we realised that there were really four things to focus on to meet the quality standards that we needed. The The first was materials, you can’t have a good product if you don’t put good materials in there.

Another was machines and technology, making sure you had the right equipment and environments to to produce to a high standard with the high quality materials you have people in process having very skilled people and the right processes in place to, to make sure that there were checks and

the right system in place to ensure quality and then design. So we chose where could we add the most value, and it was definitely on the design side, we could bring in insights as a user and inform the design that way. And then work with very, very carefully selected partners to fill in the rest and to support and to build around the design effectively. So on the material side, we sourced around the world as I said, because it’s very

It’s almost impossible to find everything that you need in a single place if you are truly committed to having the highest quality

a through the full supply chain assembly. For us, we wanted to be able to bring in different production technologies and leverage some of the work that has been done over the last decades in other sports, in men in mountaineering in luggage. And that meant going to a an assembly centre, where there were there was access to different equipment and the we had the ability to

move around as new technologies become available, and also the ability to integrate different types of technology. And also, people experience matters. For us, China was a good choice because there’s a very deep

labour pool of very experienced and skilled

machinists, both in stitching, welding,

and other technologies. And there’s also the process in place. So we spent a lot of time there. And but we also communicate with them regularly when we are not there in person.

Carlton Reid 41:17
And China’s also somewhere you can cycle.

Tori Fahey 41:20
It is. I haven’t done cycling in western China or in eastern China yet, but I have cycled in western China. And I was watching your son’s videos

on his on his ride back from

the Giant factory. So he’ll have some good stories to tell from that experience is changing fast, that’s for sure.

Carlton Reid 41:42
Yeah, we’re kind of glad he’s out of China now to tell the truth because of what’s happening in Hong Kong and stuff. And he’s now to Kazakhstan and he’s heading towards the Pamir highway. Is that have you done that one before?

Tori Fahey 41:56
I haven’t done the time years when I was in the general

region, a road the Karakoram Highway up through northern Pakistan, and into western China. So, but panniers is definitely on the list of things to do. Looks unbelievable.

Carlton Reid 42:13
It does seem to be one of those highways that an awful lot of touring cyclists head full. It’s like on the bucket list, isn’t it? Yes, I think it’s exceptionally challenging, but the sort of place that really

Tori Fahey 42:29
lets you think about what it’s about, it’s not the sort of place that you can put your head down and go for speed. It’s a place for reflection and understanding all of like, why you’re there. And what there is in the experience beyond the on the bike,

I hope Joshua’s rack holds up on the road out there.

Carlton Reid 42:55
I am slightly worried because when I toured, I did do old school. So I did have

racks and bags were This is in the 1980s. And he’s going absolutely the the bike packing route. He’s going incredibly light.

Way to light, I think, especially for where he’s going now, where you almost need to, to carry spares almost everything on the bike because it has potential breakages. So we are worried now that he is doing that particular route. But there’s just an awful lot of information on the web now. So you can actually you can almost do a google zoom through of the route.

So that you know, when I was doing my my cycle touring there was done it that you were you were literally going out there and not doing it for the first time. But there wasn’t much information out there for cycle tours back then. Whereas now, people have been doing this and there’s all the photographs and the videos and you can access a lot of so you can you can experience a lot of this before you actually get out there on your bike. Yes, I think it’s

like enormously

Tori Fahey 44:00
easier now than it was even 10 years ago, but certainly 20, 30 years ago, when you didn’t have as much information and like really up to date and to the day, and also to see cyclists, other cyclists out there, I think there are more actual resources along the road. At the same time, I think

there’s also another thing that makes it easier a bit easier now is a mindset and a realisation that you don’t actually you may not be able to find a, a fancy bike shop in rural Kazakhstan, but you will find people who are happy to help and and if you’re open to it, and, and willing to connect with people, and you’re also open to thinking about how your own bike works, and what can work. There’s a lot of ways you can get by a good example of this is even from earlier on in your son’s trip when his North Face bag fell apart.

Actually you can make it work.

You just need to be a bit inventive and wrap a few things around. And it’s not, it’s perhaps not the setup that you would set out with. But there’s always a way and being willing to to think creatively and being open to what’s in front of you. They you can always find a way.

Carlton Reid 45:26
What’s also cute from a parent’s point of view is being able to talk to him so when I did two years away, and my parents would have got a postcard if they were lucky, and they might have got like twice a year a phone call. Now we feel incredibly

out of it if we don’t hear from our son and actually physically see him on a on a Skype type call or FaceTime call like every two to three days. So he is somewhere incredibly exotic, yet at the same time when he gets a Wi Fi connection.

We can talk to him. So again, that is sad is so different from when I was touring and how interconnected The world is and how small the world is, even though he’s, you know, three months away of hard pedalling. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I wonder what gets lost in the experience as well though, if you never quite feel lost or far from home, I, as a parent, I can certainly relate to

Tori Fahey 46:27
how it might feel to not hear from your child for a period of time. And but I think there’s also some kind of beautiful experience from really disconnecting and it’s if you can’t do that in the Gobi Desert, then there are very few places where you can do that now.

Carlton Reid 46:48
Mm hmm. Well, we also feel part of his trip a lot more. I think that’s when he comes back. It won’t be a case of Oh, tell us about that time you went to that temple. I will look at this photograph.

Like, oh, we saw the video. So we were kind of almost semi living it. So that’s, that’s a good experience for us that he’s able to share that stuff, for sure.

Tori Fahey 47:10
And it is nice, especially on something like this that can be transformational or really have a profound impact on your life, to be able to share that experience. Even if you are going alone, to later be able to share those experiences and have someone understand at least at a at a high level, what you’ve been through is really nice. It’s even better if you can write together but this is the next best thing.

Carlton Reid 47:38
Well, that’s where he got his bike packing genes from in that we’ve done quite a few trips together from from a very, very early age. So I’m very proud of what he’s doing because it’s a little bit of his mini me, because you know, that’s what I did his age. And I think that is so cool and a very, very sad way. I think

That my, my 21 year old son is doing something that I was doing at his age on a bike and I feel very proud that I’ve kind of made somebody who is out there doing the same things that I love.

Tori Fahey 48:15
That’s awesome. That’s awesome.

Carlton Reid 48:17
But it’s sad at the same time.

So tell me about your your next trips. What have you got planned? So forget about the journey of your company, what have you got journeys, for you personally. But on a bike,

Tori Fahey 48:32
I’m at a slightly different point in my life today than I was in 2015 when we spent a few months in Iran. Following that we had two children. So I have a one and a half year old and a three year old.

Which means we are emerging from this slightly closer to home, and mindsets and starting to think about adventures with family which have as you as you know from your own experience, you have to consider things in a very different

way, you’re not just thinking about yourself.

Unknown Speaker 49:03
We’ve actually been doing a bit of work with Apidura on this and thinking about fat and travelling with family, and what are the different considerations to be able to share experiences

when you have to consider others in the experience,

we are still working on

adventures outside of the UK, but for the moment,

it’s really things that are close to home. And we’re just starting to get back on the bike with the little ones.

Carlton Reid 49:31
So the kind of the Josie Do you kind of approach or be just take them with you? And you have a trailer on the back? You’ve got a burly trailer or whatever. And they just come with you and you can go, you can still do incredibly exotic trips.

Tori Fahey 49:46
Absolutely, absolutely. I think you need to think about exotic in a different way, at different ages. But it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything.

Again, like we’re incredibly fortunate. There are

A huge range of bikes and other equipment that make this very accessible. And, and information frankly, which also helps bridge the gap between something that might be a dream and feel reserved for others or another time and make it will be accessible and executable, regardless of your circumstances.

Carlton Reid 50:22
But without revealing too much that potentially is some Apidura kid stuff coming along or family of cycling with family stuff.

Tori Fahey 50:32
In the physical and digital sense, yes.

Carlton Reid 50:35
Okay. Talk about the company where that’s going and even though I said let’s not talk about that, let’s talk about that. So where where is the company going?

Is it a company? Are you are you like a limited company? What How is it set up or your

Tori Fahey 50:49
Yeah, absolutely where we’re registered limited company

as you as you do in the UK, and with a real team. As I mentioned, we’ve got a team of 15

And we’re all thinking about the future and where we’re going.

As I mentioned previously, we have a slightly different mindset in terms of how we think about our goals and the future, it tends to be a bit more qualitative. So, where some companies may think about revenue growth, or, or growth in general, for us, growth is a consequence of doing something well,

and it can afford you opportunities that you may not have when you’re smaller, but in and of itself is not a goal. We look at where we’re going in very qualitative ways. We’re looking for where can we apply

our knowledge and expertise in ways that help people experience the world on a bike and what what meet what needs are not being met by


Tori Fahey 52:00
producers in the industry and what can we do to to improve the state of play, for bike packing or for for anyone

who loves riding a bike and needs to carry something effectively.

It that all sounds a bit vague, but I also need to

protect some of the ideas that we have in the pipeline.

What I can tell you is that

we, we are undertaking a lot of product development across the spectrum of cycling from that country and thinking about moving our country forward to

to audax and people who are out on the road and other types of riders in metropolitan areas who may have carry needs that are not being well met by

as well met by our current products as it could be.

Carlton Reid 52:59

commuter line, potentially

Tori Fahey 53:01

Carlton Reid 53:06
But that would that would absolutely be natural to have that kind of stuff.

Tori Fahey 53:10
That’s I think it’s insane when you when you can stand on the any street corner in any metropolitan area and watch cyclists go by with a rack and panniers, one, like a panier on one side, stuffed full or flapping open and sticking out into the road or a heavy backpack. There’s completely a better way. And so I think there’s a huge amount of room for improvement in this area. And it’s it’s something we know well as cyclists and producers of carry equipment.

Carlton Reid 53:47
Thanks to Tori Fahey of Apidura here. Thanks also to Jenson USA and Sport Suds for supporting the spokesmen podcast. And thanks to you for listening to Episode 240

the show notes, go to for the 239 previous episodes, and to fit in the Sport Suds form

and make sure to subscribe to the show on your favourite podcast catcher for all future episodes. The next show will be an extremely long one, featuring interviews with Palestinian bicycle advocates and a cyclist who rode his bike through Israel and the West Bank to research a stonking great new book. That show will be added in a week or so. Meanwhile, get out there and ride.

February 17, 2020 / / Blog

Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

Segregation of South African Cyclists, Then and Now — With Njogu Morgan

Monday 17th February 2020


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Njogu Morgan, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

The Politics of Cycling Infrastructure, edited by Peter Cox and Till Koglin, Policy Press

Cycling Cities: Johannesburg Experience by Njogu Morgan


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 239 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. The show was published on Monday the 17th of February 2020.

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 show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:09
Hi there I’m Carlton Reid. On today’s show I’ve got an interview with South African academic Njogu Morgan — we talk about modern day bicycle activism as well as how, in the 1930s, the apartheid system used traffic separation to roll out a form of motorist v cyclist segregation, a loaded term then and now. Njogu — I’m I’m presuming that I’m talking to you. But I’m in Newcastle in England, but I’m presuming that you are in Johannesburg.

Njogu Morgan 1:47
Yeah, Yes, that’s correct. I mean, the campus of Witwatersrand University at the moment,

Carlton Reid 1:54
and what I’ve previously spoken to in the flesh when we’ve actually met at conferences. It’s Been at places like Velo-City, hasn’t it? So tell me about your your trajectory through this. What How did you get into cycling academia to begin with?

Njogu Morgan 2:12
That’s a good question because I think it relates to the article we’re going to talk about, I guess first started on this trajectory initially and being having a history of trying to make cycling work in Johannesburg. We’re trying to make Johannesburg slightly more cycling friendly than it is at the moment. Being very frustrated with that. And having all sorts of questions about why the process was not unfolding as one might want, you know, as a very passionate activist. In order to cut a long story short way I ended up in working on a PhD and someone suggested to me that ma one two in terms of the question was thinking about to locate them empirically in an area that I had some sort of interest in about cycling. So that’s kind of how I ended up here.

Carlton Reid 3:11
And then, what kind of years are we talking? So when, because I went, by the way, I met you and haven’t met you in Johannesburg as well, as well as conferences. That must have been about three years ago. I met you in South Africa.

Njogu Morgan 3:26
Yeah, I think that sounds about right. It’s probably around 2017 2016. there abouts. Not sure exactly. But yeah, I mean, I, I started working on my PhD in 2014. And, but had been involved in, you know, in a small way, in some cycling activism in Johannesburg from let’s say, 2011 2012. So there abouts.

Carlton Reid 3:50
Yeah. So I was in South Africa to give a talk on I think at that time, there must have been bike boom. And that’s where you you very helpful. came in and helped out. Now in South Africa, I’m Cycling is is is contested all around the world, of course, but in South Africa, what differences do you have as an activist, compared to say, the activists that you talk about, as you talked to in other countries? So are there race elements to cycling? Is cycling, very much seen as a white man’s thing to do? What what what kind of barriers do you do you face that other people in other countries don’t face?

nj 4:42
Well, again, a good question. But General, I’m not sure I can answer it for the whole planet. In terms of what barriers and the context space that we don’t, but I think, yeah, it’s a multi multiple sort of different ways of answering that question. So in terms of the race question, I suppose one way to answer it is I think it’s useful to, you know, think about what form of cycling we’re talking about. And so leisure to sport cycling does have, you know, one might observe, you know, the predominantly white males sport. And but I think in more recently it’s become, you know, it’s divisive diversifying. So you finding people from all sorts of backgrounds and getting involved, I guess, like globally, where it’s become, you know, healthy from one sport, but obviously, socially, economically, that we’re talking about sort of middle class participation. And, yeah, and then in terms of commuter cycling, which is where I focus my research on historically, you know, serving the colonial particularly in the apartheid era and more recently It’s been mainly male watching class cycling practice. And then so that, you know, their perception is that one cycles or to work or wherever they might go, because, you know, perhaps they cannot afford any other way of getting about, you know, they have been here in which they’re, they’re located. And so the the challenges are multiple and emanating from that. Yeah, I guess one of the most significant one is just a historical legacy of the colonial apartheid city that I think there’s been an attempt to reconfigure it, but obviously that will take time. And of course, you were talking about, you know, the very sprawled cities where people would live very far from where they work. So in terms of travelling from A to B, relying only on bicycles it becomes you know, it’s a severe challenge for people often their instances We’re trying to mix modes of transport into the bike train combo or the bike bus. But not really progressive. Yeah, so But in general, that’s where I would start in response to your question.

Carlton Reid 7:12
So I know this is outside your period. So your your period of study is the 1930s. But before that, going back to say the 1890s was the cycling very similar to America and Britain, were cycling prior to the, you know, the bicycle boom of 1896 was very much an elitist, very white. And I’m presuming very few blacks would have been owned bicycles at that time. So what what happened to bicycling in Africa after say, 1900?

Njogu Morgan 7:57
Again, very good question. I didn’t Conflict for the minute, there’s a book coming out, which tells the history of cycling and Johannesburg and that book that’s come out actually in print. But that book goes as far back as the late 19th century, which is a period you’re talking about. But you’re quite right. I mean, what you see in Johannesburg and one can generate, you know, can extrapolate for other urban context and the country. It is exactly as you put it, initially, bicycles are expensive. And, you know, they’ve been imported from European context from North America. And they’ve, you know, like elsewhere, as you say, in the late 19th century that this exciting new machine on the streets Yeah, so from a class and racial perspective than it is mainly the kind of colonial white population that is able to get around on bikes and to some extent, they are late 19th century Early 20th century, a few black workers who can get on a bike, perhaps they do so because A, they’re in the employ of a small business or where they’ve been given the bicycle to, you know, to run errands. And in the same way, perhaps they’re working for, you know, in a domestic space and they’ve been given one to do so. And in fact, one of the early controversies that the book talks about is about 1904 1905. There’s this kind of anxiety about how, you know, people of colour, many black men are riding bicycles in the streets of Johannesburg. And these anxieties are being expressed by sort of the colonial elites, some kind of feeling that the way in which they’re riding maybe it’s a bit dangerous for me, to be honest with population and maybe, you know, going back to this question of affordability perhaps the writing on stolen bikes. There’s a bike theft problem that’s unfolding. And so these are, you know, this pressure put on the municipality to try and regulate and do something about this problem of people of colour on bicycles. And it’s a bit of a long story, but it’s sort of an illustration of, as he put it, you know, there’s this kind of movement, late 19th century, early 20th century, where already the use of bicycles is being racialized and getting enrolled in can really social politics of Johannesburg.

Carlton Reid 10:33
So in the UK, and in America, there was a bit of a crossover period where the middle class elites who were cycling in the 1890s some of them you know, not not many of them, but some of them did carry on cycling so you’ve got like the the CTC types who would then you know, they were motorists as well, but they carried on leisure cycling in South Africa. Was it more a case of the white elites just dropped cycling I could stone and because it’s very visual, obviously a black face a white face, that cycling became very quickly something that, that that’s a black person’s form of transport. And even the people who were like, you know, very fond of psych and the whites were very fond of cycling. Absolutely dropped it because it was well, I’m not black. I can’t be seen on that tool of black transportation.

Njogu Morgan 11:33
Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s, I don’t even know why population drops the bicycles immediately like a stone. And but I think as you put it, but I think there’s definitely This is in, you know, over a number of years, this is what happens. You do find this controversy. We’re talking about it and unfolding in 1904 1905. There’s some historical evidence still in the 1910s Through this century leader still getting on their bikes to go, you know, to their leisure clubs, you know to have some cigars and whiskey hands on. But yeah, this is true later on, but their 1930s for sure. At which points, you know, Johannesburg is in the greater region in which Johannesburg is situated. This is gold boom, that happens. So the mines are doing really well. And this allows, particularly white population, that the income rises dramatically. And this is a key moment in which even then, let’s say the middle class, lower middle class is able to afford a car. And at this point, I think this is where I might agree with you. That kind of switch really happens in a significant way by the server World War Two era and it’s very rare to see why person on a bicycle. It’s mainly black males who were were commuting. And of course, you know, Johannesburg has other modes of transport their trans available, and their buses. And this, you know, so these are the options that are that are that are available in the city. But yeah, in general terms, I think you do see this transformation from a racial perspective. And I do think it happens perhaps much earlier in terms of the social elite moving away from from bicycles.

Carlton Reid 13:33
So we’re now coming into the 1930s. And we can start to talk about the chapter of this book that that you’ve written, and I’ll talk about the book in a second. But before we get into that, I would just because I’ve got this top of mind and I know we will be exploring this later on, but I just like to kind of mention there to get your your your opinion. So the vehicular cyclists, some of them have used And this is like American and British vehicular cyclists have said that the kind of the Dutch style cycle tracks which they so hate are like bicycle Bantu stands. In other words, they are you know zones of shame that’s where you go and and you’re corralled off so where the weather bicycle tracks that we’re going to be talking about here from from your paper where they very much seen as almost rolling apartheid you know that these are you’ve got to be penned in these are not tracks built for the safety of these black riders. These are tracks for Get out of my way tracks.

Njogu Morgan 14:49
Yeah. I find it difficult to you know, agree with less like less position. But I think this is what you beginning to see or that this is the history gravitons shows, you know happens in in Johannesburg and actually in in a new, at least one other small town, but 4050 kilometres away from Johannesburg. And we’re the cycle, the work but the cycle track or the cycle lanes are doing is precisely as you put it, it’s really to get the cyclists off the road to clear the road so that the motor cars can move quickly and efficiently.

Carlton Reid 15:29
So this is an extension. So would you say it’s an extension of apartheid? This is like just a white line manifestation of apartheid.

Njogu Morgan 15:40
Yeah, this is sort of the story that the book or the chapter tries to tell. I, you know, it’s sort of to go back to your earlier question about how I find myself in this project. I want to in the course of my PhD work, when I discovered that, you know, this particular road Lumo to have any You had a psycho track, I was amazed and blown away because I had not come across anything yet to suggest that at least, there was this kind of footprint of cycling in Johannesburg in this way. And so I really wanted to follow this story and understand why does this thing appear on the streets of Johannesburg, and of course it does not exist now. What happened to it? So I think the broad purpose of the chapter is really to try to understand why this cycle track appears and eventually why it disappears.

Carlton Reid 16:36
Before we get onto that before we get onto the the actual book and delve into that, that Louie Botha Avenue in greater depth, I mentioned Benji stand there. It’s a loaded term clearly. Could you just define what a banty Stan is?

Njogu Morgan 17:00
So, a bunch of time under apartheid South Africa was a special region often for situated far away from you know, the town centres that was allocated for people of colour to live in. So, traditionally, so, this would be spaces in which, so, under project is this notion that, that there could be this sort of idea of CO existing in the same space in terms of the country and but there would be the country would be allocated especially in terms of different racial groups. So, in general, in the urban areas, there would be, there would be the, you know, the centres of the cities would be like sort of the White City and then around the periphery. And it would be to have township areas, which are allocated for the quote unquote non white population. So the bad bunch of sons fit into this and they’re usually located in a rural areas and but then in the cities, you’d have what are called townships allocated for, you know, again, quote unquote non white people.

Carlton Reid 18:16
So this is a form of segregation

Njogu Morgan 18:21
Yes, absolutely simply that’s spatial segregation by this kind of racial construct. Now

Carlton Reid 18:27
in cycle advocacy terms people people do like to, to separate out bicycles and, and motorists, and they often use the word segregation, you know, segregated cycle tracks, in from your point of view where segregation is clearly a much more loaded term, is that a term you avoid is that a term that does have more meaning for you

Njogu Morgan 18:59
Yeah, I think, you know, obviously working in when working on South African cycling history or talking about cycling in South Africa, I really do avoid the term segregation. Because Yeah, it has a particular meaning that most people here don’t want to engage with. Or, you know, it’s just brings up an uncomfortable past. That’s, I think the country is trying to move forward from

Carlton Reid 19:23
and doesn’t have modern resonance. So you literally have got to avoid it. Avoid people think of this as well. Yeah, that’s where we’re segregating off cyclists, and that’s a bad thing.

Njogu Morgan 19:38
And I think,

yeah, I think it’s really more in terms of sort of evoking you know, the danger of evoking this kind of very difficult past that the country has unfolded, always has gone through, excuse me. So, in, I suppose in policy discussions, I’m talking about myself really, there may try and use it Their terms. So but I think, you know, I don’t want to generalise for you know, for other people, I think the tendency is to talk about, you know, to avoid that term.

Carlton Reid 20:12
So separated, it’s fine segregated is verboten.

Njogu Morgan 20:18
Yeah, I would agree there I think, separated psycho tracks, or, you know, it’s better than saying segregated life, because you’re getting it, he walks that past, but it’s also past that continues very much in the present. Because I think as I mentioned early on, even though there’s been and continues to be attempts to, you know, really reconfigure, for instance, the city form, it’s still the case that you still have this kind of spatial segregation or spatial separation. Listen to me using that word. Still in kind of racial terms.

Carlton Reid 20:54
Yeah. Right. So So now, we can get on to the actual book. So the is I’m going to I’m going to read this out this is the politics of cycling infrastructure, the subhead is spaces and well it’s it’s inequality but with the in, in brackets, and it’s edited by the academics, Peter Cox and Till Coglin, and I was very happy when I got notification of this book to see there was a chapter by you and in fact, you’re the second paper in there and I have read two papers in there one is actually by cat Tia which has got a discussion of cycling in Newcastle where I live which was which was nice to be able to read but then of course this your chapter and it’s Louis Botha Avenue Where did just describe that that the the actual physical characters is that like that’s a long road what’s what’s what is that road actually like in history as well as today.

Njogu Morgan 22:01
Ah, right. Yeah, so Louis Botha Avenue in history was one of the main major links between Johannesburg and the then capital of the area called it Transvaal Pretoria. So it doesn’t mean that the mobility corridor between the two towns. So this is before you’ve been to Johannesburg, so you have a sense of what the town looks like. So, this is before the highways are constructed before many other activities come. So if you are travelling between the two towns and other urban agglomerations in the area, then you would use it and so initially it’s like elsewhere, Todd road full of rocks and so on. But essentially what happens over time is

through the development of Johannesburg.

There are urban suburban developments that emerged alongside Louis Both Avenue. So if you, you know, travelling in the end between Johannesburg and Pretoria, then increasingly over time, you begin to see Long live, what Avenue on either sides is sort of suburban formations that emerge. Yeah, so for for many, many decades for many years, it remains sort of the major transportation corridor between the two towns, but also if you’re, and this is sort of going back to our earlier conversation in terms of this segregation, segregation question. So if you’re travelling from the city centre and northwards in general, when colonialism and apartheid you know, during that era, this would have been you’ve been moving through a white space through a white city. More recently, sort of jumping forward trickling time, obviously the you know, the been other roads that have come into place. So it’s not such an important mobility Korea. You’re from a north to south perspective. And but it’s still quite an interesting road currently. It’s one of the, in the in the post apartheid era, it’s one of the roads where up bus rapid transit system has been has been constructed upon. Its not yet finished two bricks in the middle of the road very much like you’d see in Latin American cities. This this special application for bus rapid transit system. Three x still continues to have a degree of importance in the mobility corridor as a mobility corridor.

Carlton Reid 24:36
So looking at your paper, this particular cycle lane it wasn’t a cycle track with with curb separation or anything it was a cycle lane basically paint, but it was opened on 21st of August 1935. And in previous conversations with you and you’ve you very kindly sent me newspaper cuttings. This was very much inspired by the London cycle track that opened the year previously in say June 1934, which in its turn was inspired by Dutch cycle tracks. But this particular Johannesburg cycle track cycle lane was inspired by the London example. Yes.

Njogu Morgan 25:22
Yes, absolutely. So this is, you know, a period of time in which they did policymakers or the town planners and others in the municipality of Johannesburg, very much an active conversation with with the UK. So they monitoring developments elsewhere. They are going on study trips, as we might talk about nowadays. Yeah, so they’re very, they’re very connected to, let’s say, this British Empire through trying to learn from each other in terms of how you solve These kinds of questions. And I think that’s probably where this example arises from.

Carlton Reid 26:03
Yeah. But they didn’t do a very good job. joga they basically looked at what was done and then use paint instead of a curb. So already from this from the start, it wasn’t very good. What Why do you think it wasn’t very good?

Njogu Morgan 26:21

yeah, you’re right. It wasn’t very good. It was a simple painted line on the road. In one of the pictures, I think we were that you’re talking about, there’s carefully written I think cycle way on it. So it was not very wide. I think it was about 2040 inches inches wide. And then it’s not clear that it actually travelled all along Louis Botha Avenue from the city centre to and I guess we’ll get we’ll get to this to one of the main residential areas where there’s a lot of basketball traffic emanating from and but yes, no, quickly, I think it’s not and I guess we’ll explore Listen, the cost of conversation. But it seems to be initially a quick solution. There’s a moment of severe pressure and demand on this corridor, where, as we mentioned in the 1930s, this this gold boom, and the white population is certainly very well, they can afford cars and so on. And so there’s this hectic competition for road space. And I think at that point, representatives from the city of Johannesburg, the municipality, then are looking for a quick solution to resolve this ongoing road conflict. So it’s, let’s put something down on the road can especially allocate a space for all the different rodeos so you can have a cycle, the cyclists on one side, and then you know, the cars are obviously using the majority of the space. So this is kind of the initial quick solution that appears with much fanfare in 1935.

Carlton Reid 27:56
Have you found any contemporary sources from the users of this this particular cycle lane that talked about how this was an immediate degradation of what they were previously riding on, or is it all this just is just newspaper stuff Have you got any diaries from people any any contemporary stuff

Njogu Morgan 28:19

yeah again very good questions I for that paper I mainly relied on archives to to study so I have not yet spoken to you know, contemporary people about it. But I am in the process of four separate research project in as different towns doing that where the, as he put it there been interviewing very old people who remember cycling to work in a small town where they did put on some psycho tracks. And James

Carlton Reid 28:54
genuine, genuine, sorry, genuine cycle tracks as in with curbs.

Njogu Morgan 29:00
Yeah, yeah, genuine cycle tracks very different from what happens in Johannesburg, which is just a simple painted line. In fact, one of the psycho tracks because there were a few these was designed such that when you’re exiting your residential area, in this instance, again, it was one of these, you know, segregated suburbs for the black population. As soon as you got onto the cycle track, and there was a fence, probably about bicycle high that would then prevent you from exiting the cycle track. So it was a gated cycle track. There’s no way you could if you wanted to write on the road. Wow, this is one instance. That’s that’s

Carlton Reid 29:42
been potentially two ways there. Wow. Oh, that sounds so safe. That’s fantastic. But also, Wow, that is absolutely. I’m gonna use a loaded term here. That’s absolutely segregation. It was a fence.

Njogu Morgan 30:00
a fence. So yeah, as you Yeah, I mean, I suppose from a safety perspective, I mean, there’s no way that a motor car could then unless they wanted to damage, you know, the driver wanted to damage their car could then drive onto that psycho track. So it is safe from that perspective. But at the same time, it’s really restricting the mobility options of of people who are then in the cycle track, which is fenced off.

Carlton Reid 30:25
So how long? Sorry. So how long did that particular fenced off? cycle track last? And how long did the one on Louie Botha Avenue last?

Njogu Morgan 30:39
Yeah, so the research on the fence of one is still ongoing, so I’ll be able to answer you, you know, for profit by the movie. But the Lewy Body one lasts, really through the 60s. And by the 1970s. It sort of becomes this. Some people will remember it You know, once a long time ago, they used to be a cycle track on Railroad Avenue. But at this point, it is really kind of faded away. Now the municipality is not no longer, you know, going taking good, you know, every few years having to repaint it. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 31:16
So, they literally where for a few years, they were repainting?

Njogu Morgan 31:24
Yeah. So the records that I’ve found, which are, you know, the chief truck traffic Officer of Johannesburg in the 1930s 1940s, complaining that, you know, every so often he has to repaint this cycle lane. And he has to do so because, you know, the paint wears off. And one of the major reasons that the paint is right, is because motorists are treating it as an additional lane. So even though there’s this kind of idea that this is idea that the cyclists should, you know, should you use it and the motorists Stay on their section. You, you know, this is evidence of motorists, you know drive on it and it wears away very quickly.

Carlton Reid 32:07
And I’m just reading your paper here. And one point it says the 14 cycle track that the cab died will contain the two wheeled Horde. And that’s again, that’s kind of a loaded term, but it’s also very similar to terms that the white working class were getting in the UK at this time. So the elites in their cars were very much pushing cyclists to that 40 inch. They wanted them to stay away from their fast motor cars.

Njogu Morgan 32:44
Yes, absolutely. And I wish I would have been able to find much more like historical footage just to see what the everyday practices on the road would have been. So one has to rely on pictures and a sense of imagination. But I guess you know, something else. What I think is also going on is I do believe that, you know, so there’s this kind of newspaper narratives that you discover of white motorists complaining, as you say about this two wheel Horde. That does not always stick to the cycle lane that has been allocated to them, you know, partially because it’s not wide enough, partially because there may be a car to parked in front of them. But I really think and I’m convinced of this, that another another dynamic that’s unfolding here is this kind of a micro protest that is unfolding. So this idea that 234 cyclists are riding a breasts and preventing motorists from overtaking them. I do think that there was a sense of Okay, I suppose, like nowadays we may speak of the notion of reclaiming the lane, you know, the critical mass movement, as you know, put forward that idea, I really do think that in That kind of woman’s there’s also a micro protest unfolding on Woodward Avenue.

Carlton Reid 34:06
And how many, how many black motorists were there in the 1930s?

Njogu Morgan 34:15
Very, very, very few. And this doesn’t really change much until the post apartheid moment. I there’s a number that I came across in you know, so, they record keeping and archiving is very good. So, during through the Colombian apartheid era, you know, everything was seen through this kind of ratio constructs. So, even the record keeping of who, for instance, who owns motorcars would be would be kept according to race. And so you can you can look at these kind of records and, and they tell you, how many people own bicycles and how many people own motorcars and also through gender and sorry, through race times and I think in the 1960s Just take this as an indicator. So it’s not a complete exact number because I have to pull it up. And I think that across all Africa across the Union of South Africa, I think they would have been one or 2% of the cars that were on the streets were owned by people of colour, but again, I can look it up to you. So the 1930s, very small fraction of the black population can own motor cars.

Carlton Reid 35:28
So that that protest you’re talking about is kind of a way of asserting some sort of right to the to the land, in effect, by riding along because it’s clearly seen in racial terms, if most 99% bad sound to it, and or 90% of motorists are clearly going to be white, and the same kind of percentage the other way around. The cyclists are going to be black.

Njogu Morgan 36:01
Yes, absolutely. And again, in the historical record, I guess, at this time, people are very shy to use very nasty language to refer to each other. So you’ll find in the white press, you know, white motorists complaining and using a very ugly language to refer to the black cyclists who are travelling on wakeboarder Avenue. So there’s definitely a very kind of racialized term. Transportation becomes very racialized from very early on. And so I think this kind of, I think the chapter it really is an illustration of the kind of broader dynamics that unfold in Johannesburg, where the roots pace really becomes to be seen as a white space. We’ve spoken about this kind of notion of a spatial segregation but also within cities the road purely because it’s mainly the white population that can afford cars and roads really big begin to be understood in this trance. So there’s kind of this broader social struggle. There’s an unfolding in Intel, Africa also and falls in microtones. On on the on the road.

Carlton Reid 37:17
And I’m going to make a bold guess here that white motorists in their fast muscular cars were pretty aggressive to black riders using their motor vehicles.

Njogu Morgan 37:34
Oh boy, yes. And of course this is not. Again, you were speaking in general terms. So this isn’t. We’re not attributing this kind of conduct to every single white motorist or white person who happens to be driving. But yeah, in very general terms, this is what happens and in fact, the Nobel Prize winner scholar His name is keeping my head at the moment. I could see him. Hello, Chris. Yeah, he’s won a Nobel Prize for his literature on racial African dynamics has written about how, in his experience being in South Africa in the 19, so he’s white South African, emigrated, but growing up and living in South Africa, he he’s written very famously, or infamously. But in the 1950s, it was almost a bit of a sport for white people to threatened to run off, you know, black cyclist off the road. So this is not just Johannesburg. It’s really across the whole of across the country. In this other small town that we’ve been speaking about that I’m continue to do this research. In fact, there’s one very nasty incident that happens in the 1950s that’s reported on in the newspapers where two or three cyclists are killed by young white motorists. So the story goes, this white motorists are you know, they’re sort of travelling somewhere. And they happen upon this, you know, black workers and bicycles and the, the newspaper reports that they stop. And they threw rocks at them in other and I think they do hit them and eventually two or three of them but two out of three die. So an ambulance comes and you know, takes this black cyclist to hospital but they don’t survive. So I mean the story is written about and the mayor of a small town at the time, and I get involved in this discussion because this kind of controversy that’s unfolding in springs, but he refers to this, you know, young white boys a first of them as heroes and for doing this. It’s bizarre to me. But I guess you know, that’s kind of the context of the time. So as you say, there’s kind of aggression that between different racial groups is also unfolding on the on the streets on the roads. And so white motorists yes and being differently being very aggressive

Carlton Reid 40:22
and then fast forward to post apartheid era where there are now many black motorist is the same thing happening a black motorists. Happy to do what those white motorists were doing for them. Are they happy to to bully people off off the roads because now the black motorists are the ones with the powerful vehicles.

Njogu Morgan 40:51
Last year again for a few moments, right? connection is excellent. But other than that, to see again, so fast forward to

Carlton Reid 40:59
fast forward to today. Post apartheid South Africa where now black motorists are on the road in great numbers. Are they then becoming the road bullies of a previous era so it maybe it wasn’t the the the apartheid concept that was making white motorists so aggressive. It was the car. So black people are now getting aggressive.

Njogu Morgan 41:25
Oh, boy. Yes. Again, you’ve been to Johannesburg, you’ve been to South Africa. So there’s definitely a sense in which this kind of road culture that has been produced and manufactured in this kind of colonial apartheid era persists, persist, because this is what you know motorists or future motorists have grown observing. Now, if you get into a car, then it means the road spaces, viewer space. So the way in which you conduct yourself you should conduct yourself in a way that It shows that you own or you belong in the space in this space. So there’s definitely that sort of historical continuity and this aggressive practice practices that continue, which still continues to be a source of shock for me. To this day, I mean, the road regulations, you know, went through the national government are very clear in terms of what the road conduct to the expected road conduct. So what is the appropriate conduct when it comes to if pedestrians have right away, they have a green light and the Road Rules there? That’s, you know, obviously the motorists should stop and wait for the pedestrian to cross. But it’s often the case that this will not happen. Instead, the motorists will be wanting to drive even though they’re supposed to not be. So yeah. as you put it, I mean, I think there’s this kind of continuing historical practices where they were road has become this kind of space where people really want Want to express and display their sense of dignity? I believe in addition to this kind of observed practices,

Carlton Reid 43:10
yeah. So in, in the in America and in the UK that the car was, was portrayed as this liberating thing that you know, the freedom vehicle. But in a South African context, it does sound as though it was that but much, much more, because you would suddenly no longer be an underclass if you are behind the wheel of a car.

Njogu Morgan 43:39
Yeah, no, absolutely. And in fact, you’re stealing the words out of our forthcoming book chapter. And that talks more explicitly about this. Yeah, I think in the post parented moment differently, where you’ve sort of had this long history where it’s very clear that kind of individually dignity is often connected through owning a car. I think in a post apartheid moment, I think those kinds of feelings and really exaggerated or much more pronounced in the population. So the idea that you can you know, own and drive across machine preferably a very expensive one, I think has much more power in in this context perhaps than elsewhere.

Carlton Reid 44:28
I’m also thinking here of so I’ve written in Stellenbosch and I’ve been showing the Have you have you written in Stellenbosch on the on the separate

Njogu Morgan 44:37
I haven’t visited

Carlton Reid 44:40
Okay, so there’s the on some of the major roads there is now some there’s one where there’s one particular Dutch style roundabout that is in fact it’s a incredibly good it’s it’s totally separated. It’s absolutely modelled on Dutch roundabout so protected on Every arm. And yet when you ride on this infrastructure, which Stellenbosch is clearly a kind of a white middle class, I might be paraphrasing a little bit too much, or extrapolating too much, but it’s kind of a white middle class area. When you ride on this infrastructure as a white, middle class cyclist in the Netherlands, you would expect the motorists to stop for you, because all of the signs telling them we’ve got to stop. But here on this particular infrastructure, you’re taking your life into your own hands, expecting the motorists to stop because know if you’re behind the wheel of a car, it doesn’t matter if there’s a cyclists on a protective roundabout, you’re going to carry on going through at speed and that’s a white motorist or a black motorist. So there is that culture of of road bullying, that’s incredibly strong and no amount of it seems Infrastructure might actually combat that.

Njogu Morgan 46:06
Yeah, I agree with you. I mean, I think the, the road culture is very, very aggressive. I mean, just to tell you a small anecdote, I was in Chicago visiting family. And my sister stopped to let a pedestrian go through because they had a green light there were you know, she was going to turn. And I was joking to her, what are you doing? for god sakes, you should just drive through and you know, it’s You’re right, because that’s what people do in Johannesburg. So you’re right, I think it will take something else to really transform this culture.

Infrastructure may help. Maybe it will need to be

maybe of the sort that we spoke about early on in the small town, you know, that really governs that maybe really, infrastructure could play a role here. Potentially, if Maybe if it separates people in space and time or different role users, but as, but I think something else needs to happen to, you know, to reconfigure and to transform this kind of everyday practices. So

Carlton Reid 47:15
where are we right now in South Africa in terms of bicycle friendliness? And and that maybe the government actually getting behind this Where? Where do you see it now? Where do you see it in, say 10 years time?

Njogu Morgan 47:36
Yeah, I think currently, perhaps I should just speak specifically about Johannesburg because I have a better sense. I mean, I think the national picture is a bit uneven. There are some towns and cities that are trying we’re trying to do something about promoting, you know, other forms of mobility, whether it’s trains, buses, walking, cycling, and so on. And very specifically in terms of Johannesburg, I think the policy agenda is it’s not where it used to be. When you compare it to a few years ago, I think they kind of, I suppose this test sustained interest not only for cycling, but elephants mobility to reconfigure that has, has gone away slightly. But I guess from a global perspective, I mean, this is common, because we haven’t mentioned this, but there was a, let’s say, four or five year period in which the city of Johannesburg under a different mayor was really pushing the cycling agenda, and putting in a lot of infrastructure, the policies and regulations in place, and there’s this moment of momentum, which was at the time that I was supposed to when I was being an activist, and that this kind of energy seems to have gone away the man Who was a very strong cycling proponent is no longer mayor. And there was a new administration that’s come in place, and there’s a different Mayor that’s come. So you don’t look at policy. momentum. I think things are very quiet. But I do think that, if any, I suppose if experiences elsewhere are any indication, I think this is a moment this is a blip. And I think this agenda will return and I think it will return because the sort of questions of mobility that the previous administration and non state actors were trying to grapple with continue to be present. So issues of traffic congestion issues of people not being very healthy in because of how they move the questions of air pollution. And these are not problems that have gone away. So in one way or another, I think there will be a new entity or a new sort of actors will have to come and grapple with them.

Carlton Reid 50:09
Njogu, hank you very much. I think we’ll, we’ll end it there. We kind of we started in modern psycho advocacy, and we kind of ended in modern cycle advocacy in South Africa. So thank you very much for your time. Thanks to Njogu Morgan there. The book we were talking about, and which contains his paper, is The Politics of Cycling Infrastructure, published January 2020, and edited by Peter Cox and Till Koglin and available for £60 from Bristol University’s Policy Press. There’s a link to that book, and to JoeGoo’s other work, on the show notes which can be found at Thanks for tuning in to the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast, make sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts (other podcast catchers are also available).

The next show, supported by Jenson USA, will be out at the very beginning of March …

Carlton Reid 51:17
meanwhile get out there and ride!

February 10, 2020 / / Blog

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 238: Meet the Bicycle Mayor of Coventry, Britain’s “Motor City” 

Monday 10th February 2020


HOSTS: Carlton Reid & Laura Laker


Adam Tranter of Fusion Media, the new Bicycle Mayor of Coventry.

Maud de Vries, Bicycle Mayors programme, BYCS, Amsterdam.

Satya Sankaran, Bicycle Mayor of Bengalaru, India.

++++ article has lots of background on Coventry’s motoring and cycling history.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 238 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. The show was published Monday the 10th of February 2020.

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 Fred cast cycling podcast at I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:09
Don’t worry, the Spokesmen cycling podcast is not now a daily show. It’s just that I’ve been recording audio from lots of interesting people recently and some of those interviews including Today’s a time sensitive and need to be published, like well now rather than on this show is more normal twice a month schedule. I’m Carlton Reid. And on today’s show, I’m talking with comms expert, Adam Tranter, who has just become the UK his first bicycle mer. He’s a cove kid, and we’ll be aiming to make Coventry a lot more bicycle friendly. The bicycle mare programme is an initiative of bikes of the Netherlands. And after the ad break, you can hear Laura Laker interviewing Maud de Vries of BYCS alongside the bicycle mayor of Bengaluru, the first he is Adam. So Adam, I do want to talk to you about the bicycle Mayor programme. Absolutely. But first of all, I want to talk about you. So tell us about your business and and the brands you represent. You can absolutely go wax lyrical about all the clients you represent. So so so when did you start your PR business? Who are you representing? Let’s Let’s have a thumbnail sketch of of your PR company.

Adam Tranter 2:35
Okay, so I set up future media in 2008. And that came from a large repertoire of knowledge related to cycling, which, at the time, didn’t have much usefulness in the wider world. But cycling having been a kind of racing cyclist and briefly a kind of freelance cycling journalist cycling was became quite popular in Britain in 2008, from a sporting perspective with the Beijing Olympics, and we’ve been lucky, I think, since the cycling stayed on the agenda through various different things that have happened such as the Tour de France in Yorkshire and the London Olympics and bike higher schemes, all of which kind of generally cycling on the on the map. So we’re doing this since 2008, kind of PR communications and now sort of full service marketing agency and it’s really grown organically. In the same sort of cases, cycling’s interest as a as an industry to where we are now in 2020. We have around 1212 staff and we look after mixture brands across what we described as like active lifestyle, active people. And that’s really cycling, running and actually, you know, cycling as a means of transport which we’re kind of treating separately. We look after brands like Brompton Who very much fit in the category of advocacy and trying to do do better and make cities better for people and by making more people centric to brands like Shimano working on their e bike programme, Evan cycles, which obviously has a very bored potential audience. But we do also still work with the kind of core road cycling audience if you like, last year, we worked for the first year on the Tour de France for PR and social media with with ASO and also working with brands like likkle and wahoo. And so I’m ready. So yeah, I get to like like yourself, potentially get to make a career out of something I’m very passionate about. And gladly that’s kind of moved into a world where it’s about getting more people on bikes and making cycling more normal, which is which is the kind of main focus With me at the moment

Carlton Reid 5:00
sit on that topic. Tell me about the school bus that you you organised last year.

Adam Tranter 5:08
Yeah, so So, I’m a bike nerd and I bought a cargo bike. Which, you know, which really transformed my getting about an I took my kids to school, I’ve got twin boys then it is nearly six, six cents a month. And I started to teach in school, but I can’t provide constant my my wife and I was hurt and on the school and, and people predictably, you know, stopped us and said Wow, what’s that and of course, they’d never seen this type of bike before. Which if you’ve, you know, not visited places like the Netherlands or or Denmark, Copenhagen, etc. You You might not have you know, quite rightly might have seen a cargo bike before. So once we’ve got that out of the way it really what it boils down to is I would love to ride to school with my child I know taking the car for a short journey as well. But I just don’t feel safe. I don’t feel like it’s safe enough or that is something I can do. And that that extended to when I was in like games, my labour Cafe by bike people will go, I’ve got a bike. But I don’t you know, I don’t really use it. And that to me was just so depressing. And the kind of state that we’re we’re in so I’ve seen on Twitter like Macy’s things that people in Galway and in Ireland and in Oxford, and up in I think Glasgow, they’ve created school cycle buses which, which are great. They’re brilliant. They they show what’s possible and they show the desire for children to cycle and they do it in the safest possible way by practically you know, having an adult to child ratio that allows an adult to almost create a new Cycling for children and so they can safely get to school with a lack of safe cycling infrastructure. So my wife and I created what was was first we live in a town called cannibalism or lecture near to near to Coventry. And we created our first and back in October we have 20 kids, accompanied by 20 adults and we created this, you know, massive visual spectacle and peloton, going to school and everybody loved it. And we had a lot of resistance initially from the council and even the police when I’d asked them if they wanted to support us in any way with kind of, you know, mild threats of risk assessments and whether the children would be trained or wearing helmets and everything you could possibly imagine to try and make this more difficult than it needed to be. But we went ahead and did it and now we do it each each Friday. And we’ve got you know, a solid group of 10 or 15 Kids each week really aged between five and nine years. So young kids who normally wouldn’t be able to cycle to school now can

Carlton Reid 8:10
is that a PR thing in that you’re doing it as a bicycle bus now but what you’re actually genuinely like is for the kids to cycle themselves on safe cycling infrastructure, but by highlighting the fact that the current currently because it’s all adults have it to be with them. So that’s what you want eventually.

Adam Tranter 8:32
Yeah, I think there’s a short term need to do the best you can within the environment you have and that was, you know, the community saying I’d quite like to cycle to school and I know I shouldn’t take my car and being a kind of fit and brave 2% of, you know, to set mobile cyclist I was able to do that with my wife is also you know, fairly confident out there mixing it with with traffic, but Really, it’s a really wide appoint and you know, the first one we had and we still get counsellor support. It was a case of showing people the kind of practical difficulties there are cycling to school and the fact that the system has just made it’s just make difficult for people so it really unless you live a stone’s throw, and you can schools or cycle the pavement, you have no chance of upcycled School, which I don’t think and I think lots of other people don’t think is is right. So really demonstrating what was possible. I always think it’s best to show what good can look like to you know, and remind people that this is actually a normal thing and actually the most kind of ridiculous thing was really, you know, the meat you know that local media and some some national media and hopefully covered in falls, international media showed that really cycling school should not be a news story. It should not be a national news story. And that’s the kind of ridiculousness that I want to kind of get across and push public. These are people do think outside their comfort zone and actually take a moment and look at, you know, how, how we got to this stage where people can’t have children can’t cycle to school, which, you know, I think is probably one of the fundamental things you can look at to see how our society is, is doing, like how are they How are the kids doing? And the answer that one is, you know, these kids are being fed in, in in large four by fours. That’s making everyone’s communities a bit worse. So I think, you know, that’s something that that allows allows us to make a point as you as you say,

Carlton Reid 10:42
and how far is Kenilworth from Coventry?

Adam Tranter 10:48
as the crow flies about four miles, so historically, can’t give you the historically, Coventry was always part of what picture as a As a county and then split on its own authority, but you know, you only have to go to the end of my road turn right and right again and kind of in the Coventry Coventry boundary. So so yeah the closest the closest city and somewhere that I spend a lot of time.

Carlton Reid 11:18
So let’s get on to your, your role and this does seem as at least looking at the press release is MB, at least a part of the role quite obviously, is using your comms experience. So getting the bicycle man of Coventry into the media so you you’re going to be using your calm skills to talk about cycling using this as a as a way of, of getting into the media. Yeah,

Adam Tranter 11:51
yeah, I think I think one of the things that sometimes lacked a local kind of level, all around the country is is accountability.

You know, there’s there’s

a reduction in I think local media is really important and local media have been really supportive of what I’m doing, which has really helped. But there’s also, you know, gap because the climate emergency is very much on the national agenda, and over 60% of councils in the UK have declared a climate emergency. Yeah, there’s not really a sensible, informed conversation happening around how that might be achievable. So, you know, when giving examples that you know, when flubby had to be bailed out by the government, there was, you know, radio for one of the spokes people said that flying was decarbonizing, and that went totally, totally unchecked and sort of passed off as as as kind of accepted fact And I think this is, you know, it’s a really difficult I’m by no means a climate change or air quality expert, but do you know that frequently the bicycle is a is a good way of solving some rather complex issues. So, I think one of my job in in the role of bicycle method Coventry is to is to communicate what is and isn’t happening in relating to cycling and you know, walking and just generally, you know, after travel and having more livable streets, to to try and build a conversation around the immediacy of the climate emergency, which is providing a good, you know, a good catalyst for potential change. And I really feel that it’s, it’s really now or never in many ways, but now is the opportunity to get cycling properly talked about in an informed way and properly funded. So yeah, I hope to use my Comes expertise to be able to a political stuff in a in a, you know, hopefully easy to digest manner because I’m not, you know, hopefully can do my job properly. I’m not preaching to the converted, I’m getting new people to think differently about the bicycle and the solutions that can provide. And also yeah holding power to account using the media to highlight both Yeah, action and inaction and hopefully it will be action but as we know, as a lot of strain on the government’s and the traditional approaches to spend more money on road projects, and that that can’t happen. I’ve just been at a bicycle summit, which was really, really really interesting and visited a life of province, who, whose transport expert you know, openly saying, one of our policies is not to make any more bad decisions. So any anything that’s been slated that isn’t compatible with the climate emergency and our goals like can’t possibly can’t possibly be passed through. And that’s an approach that I think is really sensible but an approach that, you know, isn’t happening necessarily in Coventry or other places on the UK were very big, big expensive road projects are still getting built, which isn’t, which isn’t good for anyone long term.

Carlton Reid 15:33
And Coventry is pretty much the poster child for road schemes. You’ve got that awful ring road that pretty much as a motor. I mean, technically, you could go on a bike on there’s not a motorway, but it is a motorway.

Adam Tranter 15:48
Yeah, people are they’re proud of it as well. People are proud of it. It’s I don’t know whether that how much they’re taking the Mickey but they you know people are fairly

Carlton Reid 15:58
passionate about the ring road to come country is known and it is known as the Motor City not just because of that ring road but also because the history of motoring in the city and of course, that came from from from bicycling. So, the reason the automotive factories started in Coventry was the fact that there was these major bicycle factories in Coventry first and the first person to have written about this and a whole book, of course, the first person to bring the Coventry motor industry within the 18 late 1890s was the guy who had a bunch of bicycle companies there first so Henry Lawson. So Coventry has got this amazing history of being about first of all a bicycle city, but then absolutely a Motor City. So it’s kind of ironic yet not ironic that the first bicycle mare is in Coventry.

Adam Tranter 16:56
Yeah, it’s one of my is one of my motivations, actually. Because I’ve, I’m immensely proud of being brought up in being born and brought up in Coventry. And I’ll tell anyone who will listen about its rich bicycle heritage and you know, all the illustrious things that the commentary cycle pioneers did. And, you know, the same pioneers or the companies that these biters founded have also, you know, very swiftly moved into motorcycles and cars as as you know, better than anybody else. And I think I think that’s an interesting metaphor, if you like for what I’m trying to explain to people that we are a country that is totally car dominant country is a city that is almost entirely built around the motor car, of course, it was rebuilt after the Second World War. And as part of that, you know, Kind of peak, getting towards peak car dominance, much of the city’s infrastructure kind of reflects that. But it’s also, you know, it’s got a lot going for itself. It’s an incredibly walkable and bikable City. It’s compact, it’s flat. And it’s also it’s, it’s a city that has changed many, many times, you know, and reinvented itself. And you can. One thing that I think everybody is is agreed on is it can’t keep operating in the same way as we are now. So actually having this bicycle heritage to fall back on and something to talk about and an era of old nostalgia can potentially I think, be helpful, but it is also, you know, the same history just a few years later is also a potential hindrance because we still have a fairly dominant not nowhere near what it was. Still a fairly dominant car manufacturing industry in Coventry you know jankier Landrover, still manufacturer. They have a plant In Whitley in Coventry and the London taxi company makes the new or at least assembles that new electric taxes here so we you know it’s a very important industry both politically and economically but currently there’s no voice for cycling and that’s why I want to be able to to change

Carlton Reid 19:33
to you mentioned rover there take you a Land Rover and of course rover just to bring people up to speed I know you know, but just to bring other people up to speed and and it wasn’t just the fact that Coventry had a few you know, random bicycle factories, the British bicycle boom that happened. It happened because of Coventry so and the American bicycle boom that came you know, very shortly after it came because of commentary. So this guy called more brought In fact a bone shaker across from from Paris. It excited the locals in Coventry they started making them and then you’ve got the first high wheel bicycle eventually came from commentaries of the penny farthing. starly is the father of the wheels bicycle industry was from he was from Coventry, but he certainly settled in commentary and then his his nephew jk starly. Also Coventry then gave us the bicycle we know and love today, which is the safety bicycle the two equal sized parts of the frame that to equal size wheels, all that kind of stuff, the diamond frame so Coventry is absolutely essential to the world of bicycling. So this is this is the kind of the role you’re taking on is a city that’s incredibly known for motoring by most people. Yeah, underneath is as absolutely stellar bicycle History

ada 21:01
Yes, there’s definitely there’s definitely something there and I want to kind of capitalise on I was in the Netherlands last week on a the European bicycle mass summit and did all the great things that you get to do when you in the Netherlands including riding a bike absolutely everywhere and you know I was kind of identify their emotions just live it but seeing because of course in the UK we’ve typically you know we’ve still got the safety bike kind of design and parameters but we we’ve you know, we’re very keen on as an industry drop handlebar bikes and kind of, you know, changing the way bicycles have looked over the years battery the rover safety bicycle is pretty much what you know you would describe as a Dutch bicycle now which the majority of people on bikes and the Netherlands used to get around everywhere, so to sort of be stood there in the middle amounts. Now I’m looking at every bike to see that actually this this culture that have been developed outside, you know, former consequences of safe cycling infrastructure. The fact that normal children as young as eight can go and ride on the roads, potentially even on their own sort of 10 or 11, as all, you know, had so much linked to the kind of innovation that Coventry had, and, you know, obviously arrived back in Coventry. And, you know, this morning, Monday morning and I was in the city for a meeting and, you know, right next to ring road, and you know, it couldn’t be further from what I now have experience in the Netherlands but obviously very similar to what they went through and, you know, what, what Amsterdam and what other areas and others have looked like in 1970s a lot like Coventry now. So it gives me hope that if they were able to change it, we’re able to, to change something as well. But it does require, you know, a lot of people to forget everything I know about transport and think yeah.

Carlton Reid 23:08
So that that bicycle mayor’s conference, there’s like 100 members around the world now is that right?

Adam Tranter 23:14
There’s just over Yeah, just over 100 bicycle mares around the world. There’s a lot in both in India and then some spread over Africa as well. This one was just for the European network and I think there’s about 20 of us, including seven new mass which two are also in the Netherlands. So, one from the Hague and one from mine hoeber which I also think is interesting because, you know, the, the, their challenges are also very real in making sure that cycling to school is safe in Eindhoven for example and it would be a place that you typically they go there and go Wow, this is amazing what you complaining about but actually, you know, looking at stats, car uses goes is going up and sort of cycling is decreasing depending on where you are in the Netherlands. So I think that was really interesting obviously to learn from best practices and then also some, some crazy challenges in cities like a stumble, you know, obviously, totally different to Coventry in almost every way and a huge population. So the great thing about the the bicycle matters network is that all of us can now share best practice ideas. You know, I was able to put the Amsterdam bicycle Mayor who’s pretty famous in Amsterdam, you know, deals the city government all the time and as a real ambassador for cycling, about how she’s been able to, you know, approach the role and and what she’s been able to achieve. And that’s been really helpful to be able to share this network of, of expertise, which is where I think the faster it grows, the more valuable it becomes. To the global kind of cycling advocacy community because we are able to take best practices from all over the world and apply them to to different different cities who all have largely the same, the same goal which is to increase modal share and and and get proper funding the cycling and decrease car dominance.

Carlton Reid 25:22
So the bicycle mare programme is an initiative of bikes which is b y Cs and no that that doesn’t stand for anything. It just is just just just bikes. So I will add at the end of after after I finished with you, Adam. I’m going to be playing an interview that Laura Laika actually had with more degrees, who is the founder of bikes and who is the founder of this programme, so I’ll get more from her. But just coming back to to you and in your role. What do you think apart from the comms bit which we discussed, what else can you do in Coventry apart from the prs Go.

Adam 26:01
Yeah, so I think being able to being able to engage collaboratively with the kind of base with the, you know, contacts that I have already working in the cycling industry, but also my experience in hopefully being collaborative and building bridges with people and as I said to you before, there’s there’s no one really championing, cycling’s cause cause in commentary or even the West Midlands more broadly, except for, you know, the, the council’s themselves, which they’re doing with limited resource and potentially in some cases, limited political will. So being able to engage them and bring ideas together from the likes of, you know, British cycling and cycling UK who I have a good relationship with, and also connecting local businesses as well. So like my Experiencing in the area, but also more nationally, will hopefully show that there is widespread support for cycling. And therefore, you know, it needs to be taken way more seriously in terms of both, you know, output and the funding to create that that output. And I also think that as an a sort of Ambassador role, it’s important to try and, you know, make small but impactful changes, like I’ve done with the school cycle bus. So one of the, you know, one of the first campaigns I want to run is, is a campaign that that really gets people to rethink their use of of the car for very short journeys under a mile or one and a half miles. And, you know, 24% of car journeys in the UK under one mile, which is just total madness, and I think we’re on a path for, for this for driving very short distances as well. to school to be, you know, in feature as socially unacceptable as you know, smoking and other things because it’s just a total unnecessary use of the car. And if I can potentially, you know, one things I’m looking at is creating a campaign to really get people to think about that and do do less and cycle to cycle to school, which them there’s no infrastructure at the moment, really. So I’m working to talk talking to police at the moment about, you know, whether they’ll publicly state that they wouldn’t prosecute children Riding School, which sounds you know, obviously they wouldn’t, but it’s not that obvious actually, in a lot of people are put off by by, you know, the fear of in how to go out by police or, or other people in the community and that’s putting a lot of people off. So, having to, you know, try and put together some smaller but impactful campaigns that can make a little difference and commentary as well. is going to be a priority

Carlton Reid 28:59
and if people are listening This and reading the stories that we’re going to be seeing because you’re a PR man says we love stories. And they’re inspired to, to think, well I could do that in my city or my talent, it’d be great. So how do people actually become bicycle mares of their localities? If there isn’t already a bicycle man so that America is global, there’s there’s this thing so how do they How do they actually become mares? And how did you become the man?

Adam Tranter 29:27
Yeah, so if you’re, if you’re thinking about it, you you should absolutely explore further because it is really a great initiative and you feel like you’re part of something is really, really special. So it’s, it’s, you know, the information out there and bikes who administers schema very, very friendly and really passionate about what they what they’re doing. So you’ll get, you know, a really good response in terms of the practicalities. There are, you know, a couple of weeks in, in certain countries I keep trying not to talk about the Netherlands all the time. But the you know, in certain countries that the local government has actually, the city government have supported a bicycle mass games, they practically said we want this in our, in our city, and therefore, you know, we’ll either partner with bikes or Well, you know, put a call out for interested parties to come forward and they might run some form of informal election amongst a group of people or or whatever might be if there are multiple candidates. In the case of commentary, well, I am and also, you know, a lot of other places where they, you know, there are passionate people, but maybe not passionate people clamouring over each other to do this voluntary role. It’s a case of securing the support of your local community in the forms of written endorsements, which, you know, I was very fortunate to have lots of local support and also some national support as well, from organisations and individuals that cetera. So putting together a case that shows that the, you know, the community wants this and will be supportive in this. And really, you know, there’s a small part of the application process and creating your vision, amongst other things, and obviously lots of hard work that goes into the background of that. But ultimately, that’s, that’s where it gets to the case of making sure you’ve got local support and doing it. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need, you know, support from government officials. So, I’m developing my relationship with Coventry City Council and kind of other stakeholders. It’s not a case I need to be approved by the city and actually one of the really important roles that the bicycle mayor has is to be, you know, independent and also, as I keep saying sort of hold power to account so you know, they were very different to kind of being a spokesperson for cycling on behalf of the Council. My job is to kind of bring all stakeholders together and work collaboratively to the best outcomes. And that’s that’s what I’ll, what I’ll be aiming to do.

Carlton Reid 32:15
Now. I’ve interviewed the the Amsterdam bicycle mayor, the first one then a number of years ago at eurobike. And she was telling me that the idea for the this is before I’d spoke to more about the idea for this came from Amsterdam’s night mauor, as in night, and then m a y o r, rather than nightmare, and maybe it doesn’t sounds quite good in English. It sounds very much different in Dutch. But that’s where it came from. And the nightmare in the Netherlands and the nightmare and for instance, in London, I think is on this huge salary. It’s like hundred and 70,000 pounds a year if you’re the nightmare of of London. So this role that you’ve been God is not something that you’re getting paid oodles of cash for this is a volunteer role.

Adam Tranter 33:06
Yeah, I’m being paid about 170,000 pounds less than that. So it’s very much it’s very much a volunteer role. And it’s very much you know, important grassroots movement. So, you know, I hope that one day bicycle mass around the country and around the world will be you know, seen by city officials as real great resources and you know, there might be opportunity for funding and feature I’m particularly lucky the you know, I work in work in an industry that’s very closely linked with this so and I also have a you know, an element of flexibility in my, my job running the company so I’m able to, you know, devote time to it in and out of normal working hours of course, and we evenings and, and, and we can so it does require us and outlook and, you know, some of the bicycle matters. hired Richard Ingram, who’s the bicycle mayor of Cumbria, so not for city, but an actual entire region. He was the first in the UK. He’s a retired transport planner, for example. So he his kind of semi retirement has allowed him to dedicate enough time to make a meaningful impact, also having the skills and experience so it is at the moment, it is something that you have to have a certain amount of flexibility to be able to do but of course, anyone who’s into cycling advocacy, you know, already dedicates quite a significant portion of time to it. I feel like this is a meaningful channel to be able to kind of do that and hopefully make more of an impact than I would do if it was just me sort of, you know, shouting and being a bit annoyed at the lack of infrastructure. I feel like this could be more impactful.

Carlton Reid 34:49
What about if you get shouted at yourself by say, local councillors who’s to say conflict of interest in that you represent Bunch of brands, might you be using this as a way of promoting those brands in the local media? So what would you say to the conflict of interest? Cannot?

Adam Tranter 35:12
Yeah. So, you know, none of this is is drived and brands and increasing fans, you know, media space majority of the, I actually think that the majority of the cycling industry needs to do more in the space of kind of advocacy because it is the future of where the, you know, where the potential customers are coming from if you can get 2% of modal chatter 6%, for example, that’s going to make a potentially massive, massive dent in in the cycling industry is collective experience at the moment in the kind of current economic climate. But it all of its fairly board so so no one’s pushing individually. products or you know all yes you must be riding this bike as bicycle mouth of whatever or this is a particularly You know, this is a sponsorship


this is purely purely coming from the angle of getting more people on bikes which is good for good for everybody. So, you know, I’m taking this you know, from a personal point of view, I can care less what bikes they’re riding I you know, prefer if they weren’t new bikes from you know, Evan cycles or something I would prefer if people just got on the bike, you know, second hand bike viral charity or the you know, Berman has a bike library or something like that, that that gives people the opportunity to really, really explore the joys of cycling and then potentially, you know, bring them into the bring them into the kind of economic environment of the industry but in terms of my position is bicycle man, I’m not you know, I’m not being funded or Supported or need the blessing or have to account be accountable to certain industry bodies. I’m purely an individual with an interest again, more people on more people on bikes. And it’s, it’s, you know, it’s good for everybody. So hopefully, hopefully that will be a fairly straightforward conversation to have.

Carlton Reid 37:22
That was Adam Trent of fusion media, the new bicycle mer of Coventry. Before we go over to learn more from the program’s founder, here’s my co host, David, with a word from our sponsor.

David Bernstein 37:37
Hey, Carlton, thanks so much. And it’s it’s always my pleasure to talk about our advertiser. This is a long time loyal advertiser. You all know what I’m talking about. It’s Jenson USA at I’ve been telling you for years now yours, that Jensen is the place where you can get a great selection Every kind of product that you need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices and what really sets them apart, because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there. But what really sets them apart is their unbelievable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who 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. Jensen, 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. Alright Carlton, let’s get back to the show.

Carlton Reid 39:04
Thanks David and we’re back on bicycle mares last year at velocity in Dublin. My colleague Laura Laker interviewed more devries, founder of the bicycle mauors programme. And also, she talked to Satya San Qur’an, bicycle mer of Bengaluru. And that’s the official name of Bangalore, in India.

Laura Laker
I’m here in Dublin with Maud de Vries who is the leader of the Bicycle Mayors, which is an international global programme to introduce mayors to different cities around the world. Am I correct, Maud? Please tell me about …

Maud de Vries
Almost. So I’m one of the founders of BYCS, which is a social enterprise. And amongst others, we have the bicycle mayor programme, which it’s a network actually all over the globe. So tonight, we’re going to announce that we’re going to have the fifth bicycle mayor in the world. And that’s really, really cool. That’s fantastic. Yeah. Looking forward to that. So what the bicycle mayor’s do i think is they are the real change makers, our mission, the mission of bikes is 50 by 30. We want to get half of all trips by bike in 2030. Because we believe the bicycle transform cities and cities transform the world. So that’s what drives us. And that’s why we think it’s important for us to have as many bicycle mayors as possible.

Laura Laker
So you say you started, you founded the bicycle mayors programme, and how did you do it?

Maud de Vries
Well, we started with one in 2016 to be precise. That was Ana and the bicycle mayor of Amsterdam. Yeah, if you remember. And then after Ana, quickly, we had some other ones. And then we thought, you know, we need to pull this because it’s really important. What we saw was bicycle mauors that felt really alone in the cities, you know, because they were working on getting cycling in,

Laura Laker
They already existed in different cities in a different guises?

Maud de Vries
Yeah, they were already active as change makers and related to cycling or in different areas. So there were people like they saw the transformative effect of the cycle of the bicycle. And they really wanted to put effort into that and belong to this global network, I think as well

Laura Laker
Were they tended to be appointed by the council’s by the local government, or were they sort of self appointed campaigners?

Maud de Vries
Yeah, so we have a two ways – so in Amsterdam, we have a big competition. And that really helps as well because we have so many cyclists already many people think maybe it’s good that I become the mayor because different mayor’s of course have different work plans. But in many cities, we also appoint them and then they need to send in a lot of endorsements, make a work plan, make a video as a big process that goes before that. And of course, we check if this is the right person. And then in the end, we often get help from the Dutch embassies, because they are abroad as well promoting cycling for more sustainable worlds, which is great. So such here for example, you are inaugurated by the by the ambassador of Bengaluru, which was really the I have to say the gen and the Consulur General of Bengaluru.

Laura Laker
So for listeners we have with us Satya Sankaran. And if I pronounced your name correctly, you are the bicycle mayor of Bengaluru?

Satya Sankaran
Yes, I am. So Bangalore is this nice, big city in the south of India. And it’s got the same problem that many urban centres have, right. It’s got a lot of [congestion]. It’s got a lot of pollution. And it’s from a developing nation which believes that cars are the future. So it’s a very interesting time to be a bicycle mayor in Bangalore.

Laura Laker
Yeah. How did you become a bicycle mayor of Bangalore?

Satya Sankaran
Maud made me a bicycle mayor in Bangalore. Interestingly, I’ve been doing a bunch of things like she says.

Satya Sankaran
The past 10 years I’ve been looking at sustainable transportation and being an activist and campaigning and advocacy in all of those things. But just before the bicycle Mayor programme came in for about two to three years, we’ve been doing a lot of bicycle related related advocacy programmes, popularising bicycle less and more. And then came along this programme. And it kind of amplifies my voice there. You’re doing a bunch of things. And then there’s this whole bicycle Mayor with tips, big network of people and enablement by the organisation.

Laura Laker
And what does that enable you to do? You’ve got support of the government?

Satya Sankaran
It does well, so it gives lots of support.

Bikes themselves have a lot of support structures in place in terms of how you can craft campaigns, and what are the tools available to do a bunch of things. And the bicycle mayors themselves also come up with a lot of campaigns, you know, they have ideas about how to implement andbikes just pushes that along as well.

Laura Laker
Yeah and BYCS is BYCS. Which stands for it stands for … nothing really

Just bikes but a different way. Just in case people are wondering, you’re referring to bikes, not bikes with magical powers, but the organisation BYCS which is what you call your bicycle mayor programme.

Maud de Vries
So yeah.

Laura Laker
So how long have you been bicycle mayor?

Satya Sankaran
One year now. Last May, I guess, this May, I finished one year, June, July, 14 months now. Yeah.

Laura Laker
And then what you’ve been doing in that time?

Satya Sankaran
Lots of things. And one of the biggest things that I’m here for is the cycle to work programme that I launched. So I realised that while on one side, you need a lot of disincentives, which is very important, and the power of disincentives live with the government. And they are empowered to do that. Yeah. So they need to drive a lot of that what is in citizens hands, it is the incentives that you can give. So I looked at how do you enable incentives. So I identified that a large problem large part of the people who create the problem are in the tech industry in Bangalore, especially. And a lot of the upwardly mobile who buy cars are tech savvy. So I narrowed down on a technology platform, which kind of is a leaderboard. A leaderboard is one of the simplest ways of incentivizing …

Laura Laker
Oh, it’s like a competition?

leaderboard. So three companies. Within companies?

Satya Sankaran
Between companies. So I came up with that, and we had a platform where people track their rides to work. And then you make you make a leaderboard of companies, not of individuals of companies. So you drive collective action. If you incentivize individually, only incentivize them along. That’s also part of it. But the biggest thing is how do you collectively increase the number of riders on the road, so you incentivize as a collective. So you put companies on the leaderboard, and the individual strive to make that a competitive thing, the gamified it, the gamified that, so that’s what it is. So we did a nice gamification programme using the leaderboard. And it’s making a huge mark. Now we have lots of users, we’ve completed around 20,000 trips in the last 10 months.

Satya Sankaran

We are adding three new riders every day, for the past eight months, on to the leaderboard, and we want to be hitting 200,000 kilometres this month. And that’s a massive thing. And this is only the ones we are tracking. There are lots of them, we haven’t yet begun to track.

Laura Laker
Some people were cycling already, because I guess people are aware that Cycling is healthy for them.

Satya Sankaran
Sure, but what but what the leaderboard does is it incentivizes the non riders to also ride because they the riders go and influence them just to make sure that their company comes up on the leaderboard. So it’s a very useful tool for incentivize, a simple gamification.

Laura Laker
That sounds really innovative. And so more Is this the kind of stuff that different bicycle makers are coming up with by themselves and then, or I guess, as a collective, and then of course, you can share these ideas, because I mean, I love gamification, I totally buy into all of that. So that’s a fantastic idea, which I guess can spread.

Maud de Vries
I think it is a great example, Satya and I met also in October, during the bicycle mayor summit in Mexico City. And then together with Areli Carreon, she’s the bicycle mayor of Mexico City. The three of us signed up and will you because we really believe that work, a memorandum of understanding. It’s an official way of saying, Let’s collaborate. And that’s what we’re doing. So we’re collaborating on this idea of creating this leaderboard, which, Satya is creating, we are testing it in Amsterdam, and Areli will be using it as well. So and then, if we if we think it’s good enough, we can scale it, you know, that is one of the examples of a bicycle Mayor coming up with an idea. And sometimes we come up with an idea or product, and then we can share it. That’s the way forward we think.

Laura Laker
Yes it sounds great. So you have this mission? How are you going to achieve it, I guess you’ve got all these different kinds of programmes around the world, and you got a sort of collective push that you’re doing something specific,

Maud de Vries
We have a we have a bikes eco impact system. So basically, what we do is we have all these ideas to inspire. So for example, the Bicycle Architecture Biennale or to grow or to be a leader, we have all examples of products or programmes or like things like to be another that we have. And then we channel that a little bit. And then we have a bikes lab, like we have here in Dublin during Velo-city, we’re going to extend that for another three months at Trinity College. And this year, because we want to, we want to have more labs in Europe as well and abroad. And we’re collaborating with the Dutch embassies a lot, you know, to just make sure that the bicycle mayor’s have a place where they can meet people where they can create, like, interesting ideas around insights that they already have, where they can then then test and pilot things in collaboration with their city. And then if it’s helpful, they can scan it.

Laura Laker
Yeah. So tell me about the Bicycle Architecture Biennale, which you’ve just had last week, they come straight from one to the other. licencing .

Maud de Vries
Yeah, that’s crazy. So it’s and the second Bicycle Architecture Biennale, we launched the first one two years ago. And we’ve had so much attention around it. Because, you know, I think it’s, it’s a time when people don’t want to only talk about climate change, or air pollution and stuff, but also want to see things happen. And you know, why not invest in stuff that is really good, looks really good. You know, so we thought, let’s give some inspiration to cities and what we now see cities calling us and asking, you know, that bridge that you’re showing, maybe I want to have something similar my city because it connects like this part where we cannot build because people cannot go to the other side of the river, let’s say, you know, if they start developing in there, make sure that people can go by bicycle to the other side of the river where the city is, that’s massive, you know, so that unlocks massive economic, health and social. Yeah, possible. Yeah.

Laura Laker
And so what are you hoping to get out of Velo-city? You’ve set up your own kind of side conference almost having you and you’ve invited loads of bicycle mayors over? And how many bicycle mayors have you got? What you going to do?

Maud de Vries
Well, I think in total, there will be six, seven, so not that much. But of course, flying as sometimes is a is a thing. We just talked about the flight from Bangalore to Dublin, which is the thing as well, we believe, you know, that we can only do that if if our impact is bigger than then the CO2 from the flight, let’s say, you know, so I think such a story needs to be shared about cycle to work, because that’s a big, impactful way of getting more people on the bike. I just got a message from friend that Facebook year, you know, so think about it stuck here all day in Dublin. And we really want to change that only ways getting out the class, you know,

Laura Laker
Maybe the traffic in Dublin is really bad, isn’t it? It’s one of the worst in Europe for congestion. And

Maud de Vries
You’re totally right, it’s the second slowest in Europe.

Laura Laker
And so Satya, you’re here to share your message. That’s why you’ve come to Dublin to share with the other bicycle mayors

Satya Sankaran
So one of the things is to look at programmes which can incentivize people to get on the bike and work with the government to see how we can make such programmes to success and share the cycle to work story one of the things that we want to do is to take it global, the platform is already global of the block.

Laura Laker
So you set up your own platform, this is a kind of rebuilt it.

Satya Sankaran
Yeah, just build it. So we have tech partners that I’m working with. in Bangalore. Map Unity’s are delivering the technology.

It’s called cycle to work, but we’re going to rebrand it as bikes to work pretty soon, and we’ll launch it in many more cities, we have to discuss the modalities of which city is ready for deployment. And we would encourage more people to pick it up and run with it. One of the things is to make this, these kind of tech platforms encourage people to get on the bike and commute.

So let’s see how that goes. There’s a lot of stuff, there’s a lot of ground to cover. But we made a very good start. And it’s already seeing the impact. It’s made a lot of impact in the city of Bangalore. And it’s already making waves in other places.

Laura Laker
And I guess these tech companies, maybe there’s parallels with Dublin, because in Dublin, a lot of tech companies have their European headquarters here. Facebook, LinkedIn, Groupon, Google, of course, the big one. So but these companies have a huge amount of a voice actually, don’t they? Because they bring a lot of money. They have a lot of employees. So if employees of these companies start cycling, and then maybe find the roads aren’t quite fit for purpose, then perhaps there’s a there’s a push from companies, local governments say what are you doing?

Satya Sankaran
Absolutely. I think one of the key drivers of this is not the government, it is the businesses. So we are incentivizing companies so they can give benefits to employees. So in Bangalore, what’s happening is there are lots of companies which are coming forward and saying, Hey, I didn’t know so many of my people are by biking now. And now I can see them they used to be able to see. So Google and Facebook, for example. There are lots of employees in all over the world who already bike but quantifying them and making sure they count towards the larger good of the city. How do they compete, a lot of back to our programmes are companies specific. And for example, company x does a microloan programme, the people there do not know how many others are doing this.

Satya Sankaran

They are not aware of how many others in the cities are doing that. So one of the thing is to create that visibility, saying that you are not alone. There are right now 183 companies on on that leaderboard. And most of them are from Bangalore. But once you scale, you will see thousands of companies where employees are riding. And it’s just that you can now measure the percentage of your employees who are actually coming by bike and the company can give incentives to transform. So this is kind of a traffic problem is caused by

the economics of the city, right? You have an economy and there are people travelling to work and back. So the problem can be solved by transforming that it’s a negative externality of that company, which can be solved by the company themselves saying that, hey, I’d like you to at least shift 20% or 50% off to the bike.

Laura Laker
Yeah. Yeah. Because it’s great for the company as well, because people do who cycle take fewer days sick leave …

Satya Sankaran
They weren’t making any conscious effort to say how you commute, they provision whatever the employee already does. So if an employee buys lots of cars, they go in and encourage more parking spots. So now all they need to do is if a lot of people are coming by bike, he won’t put more bike parking. So you just shift the paradigm a little bit and say, how can how can people commute differently, and you start providing incentives for that. Like in Bangalore, for example, people actually companies give you loans and allowances to buy cars and fill petrol on them.

You get an allowance for fuel. You don’t need to do that. Yeah, so you don’t need to do that you could say, when you come in here, so joining-bonus, take a bike

Satya Sankaran

Or you know, give the money instead, give them a bike instead,

You can opt out of it, but you can still and it’s it’s less expensive to give them a bike and probably they will choose their place of residence based on what you give them. It’s it’s harder to commute short distances using a cab, because it’s physically not possible. So if you give them a bike, they’re probably settled down closer within a five kilometre radius. And the build form shapes itself to accommodate that. Because there are a lot of [opposition?] people who is like that there are a lot of immigrants coming into work, right? You got to the same in your country as well. So when they come in, they’re new, and they’re looking to buy a car. So give them a bike instead, they’ll live differently, and they will commute differently and the new, you change. From day one, when they join the company, you change the pattern of community. That’s incentivization.

Laura Laker
Fantastic. It’s really interesting idea.

Maud de Vries
In the Netherlands, it’s the other way around. So the government really lead takes care of all the people that work at the government level, you know, so they give them to incentivize them to help the companies do it. So the companies became bit lazy, I think, you know, so they should get out of their chairs and say, hey, I want healthier and happier employees, you know, let’s get them go get them on the bike. But here in Dublin, that’s amazing as well, the Dublin cycling campaign, what they do, and lots of other people like such a you know, they just go to the companies and ask them, please help us you know, we need to get more people on the bike. And they do. They sponsor they help and have a great cycling to work campaign here in Dublin. I think that’s amazing. Work really big.

Laura Laker
Wow. Thank you. Is there anything else you want to say about the bicycle mayor programme or plans for the future me and

Maud de Vries
Maybe what would be good to mention is that we also have a junior bicycle mayor. And that that was really good. It was later and she was a announced a year ago. In the Netherlands. Now we’re going to have the second one. On the fourth of July. Tomorrow morning at eight to 830. We’re going to have a junior bicycle Mayor for Dublin, which is easy.

Maud de Vries

Yeah. It’s so exciting. She’s really amazing. And she has a nice yellow bike, and she wrote a poem about it. So besides from the fact that she will be inaugurated to share her phone, at the lab? Yeah, that’s really good. That’s fantastic.

Laura Laker
Yeah. And I think there’s a lot of power in in children saying this is what we want.

Maud de Vries
I think that’s amazing. And all the bicycle mayor’s picked that up as well. So in October, yeah, we agreed on starting a campaign called Cities Fit for Children. Because we believe that cities are fit for children, they are fit for everyone, you know. So let’s create cities fit for children. That is what we call out, go out for so we started that on the, on the Children’s Day from the United Nations.

Maud de Vries

And everybody now is really looking into how to get children on bikes as well. And Satya just reached out to me, in the Netherlans, we have this sort of bicycle bus. And he said, you know, we should have that in Bangalore as well, because of course, it makes kids more safe on the road as well. You know, do you know the bicycle bus?

Laura Laker
When you have a group of children riding together, and they’re kind of chaperoned front and back? They do? Yeah, I do. Because it’s a separate machine. It’s not separate bicycles. It’s one machine,

Maud de Vries
One machine, but then they all have individual pedals.

Laura Laker
I know like you see on the stag, the hen-dos travelling around town, and children.

Maud de Vries
It reminds me a bit of that. But you know, I think it is great, because right now, it’s really hard. Also, I just heard about an eight year old girl that was killed in traffic here, by bicycle. And these things are just horrible to me, I think we should think about where Amsterdam was 50 years ago, and 10,000 people went on to the streets and say stop killing our children. And that’s really that was a turning point for our city. And hopefully, many more cities will see that if they invest in making Cities Fit for Children. And that would be really good. First step.

Laura Laker
Is that Did you see that? Working in India and Bangalore?

Satya Sankaran
Yes, of course. So we’ve had a lot of success in getting children to understand and talk to their parents about this. Because when they, when they are convinced they are they have a lot of power in convincing the adults as well. If you tell an adult what to do, they generally don’t like it. What if their kids tell them what to do, they will kind of be a little embarrassed and actually do it. So but nevertheless, it’s more important for the kids to understand what is the future they are inhabiting, and how they need to start looking at all the things we have come to gotten us to car as the symbol of development fuel vehicle as the aspirational goal, these are all things that are in the past.

Satya Sankaran

Global warming is a reality, and it’s going to hit them. And they need to understand what they are inheriting. And it’s important for them to start getting used to it right now. And I think we need to tell them and they are going to be the focus. And it’s for them that we are having to do all of these things. It’s it’s what we have done in the past, we have to start undoing now. And they need to realise that they need to step up and not go back to what we have done. The more successful we are in doing that, the better it is.

Laura Laker
And we seeing this around climate change with children, Greta Thunberg passing off the school climate strikes and how powerful that is.

Maud de Vries
And I think the same thing for a little later became the first vice mayor, you know, and advantage of what she’s doing. She’s a she has actual tools, you know, so she can do something about it. And that’s really good. And that’s what I see happening all over the globe now as well that children want to step up, but they also want to change something you know, and the bicycle is a really good way of changing cities.

Laura Laker
Yeah, wonderful. Thank you guys so much. And I look forward to seeing more about the bicycle mayors programme.

Maud de Vries
Hopefully and see tonight at the inauguration of Donna Cooney will be the bicycle mayor of Dublin, and she’s going to be the 50th bicycle mayor on the globe. So they’ll be exciting. Yeah,

Laura Laker
Great. We’ve just been talking about your different bicycle mayors around the world. And I thought was so interesting. I wanted to ask you about them again. So you were telling me about your bicycle mayor in Mexico City and your bicycle mayor in Istanbul? Can you just tell our listeners, what you what you’re saying about them, and the impact that they’re having.

Maud de Vries
And the impact that they’re having is grand. And I’m so proud of them. So for example, Areli Carreon, who’s the vice mayor of Mexico City, she’s a great change maker. And for her the bicycle was the reason sort of to feel alive again. She was really at a bad moment in life, and she didn’t have any money, you know. And then by school, she was given a bicycle. And then she started. Yeah, to rehab, she was able to go to work again. And so for her, there was a big, big change maker from, let’s say, depression into a new phase of her life where she really thought this is something that really has a transformative aspect to it. And I really want to dedicate my life to this. Oh, wow.

Laura Laker
So from there, she became an advocate.

Maud de Vries
Exactly. Yeah. And she’s like a really influential advocate. She’s one of the top 10 on Wikipedia of most influential women on Mexico. Wow. She is amazing. Yeah. So and just because of her drive, you know, to constantly work on getting more people on bicycles and making more people aware that you to change the rules, you know that they should make it safer. build roads and stuff like that. It’s really amazing. And so we have bicycle mayor’s like Murat Suyabatmaz in Istanbul, you know, if he rides, he has 10,000 people on bikes, just incredible. The Children’s programmes. He does, you know, impacting like, really, really many children’s lives. It’s really grand.

Laura Laker
10,000 people on a bike ride? How does that work?

Maud de Vries
Yeah, like for him. He has a grant outreach ready, because he has been working in this. He has been working in the cycling field for longer. And he’s also a race champion. So he has a good outreach as well, as a former racer. Yeah, he said he wasn’t racing bike, and he won championships as well. So that that’s why a lot of people in Turkey know him already. And that’s when he thought, you know, he should start and work with this organisation that has this big outreach.

Laura Laker
And I think what you BYCS? What do you mean, your your organisation? You mean? With like our

Maud de Vries
No, yeah, yeah. In total? Yes. You know, so tonight, we’re going to announce the 50th vice mayor. And I think also from such a, you know, the people that we have in the entire organisation right now the bicycle mayor’s the leadership that they show us in, it’s big, they’re impacting the lives of billions, I think, and that’s really, really amazing. And

Laura Laker
how is it funded, do these funded kind of roles these guys come in?

Maud de Vries
So right now the bicycle mayor’s do this?

What to go voluntarily, and our organisation is a social enterprise. So what we do is we are from the Netherlands, and we come up with innovations and programmes in the Netherlands and we get paid for that by the government to do that. And the profits that we make from that work, we reinvest into the bicycle main programme. So that’s how we do it now. But of course, we need to be funds, soon to really get to 50 by 30, to really make change happen, you know. So yes, such a can come up with an exciting cycle to work programme, we can help him build and scale it, you know, but then in the end, of course, we need partners, and we need cities, to be interested in this, this as well, and to really help making the change in cities, organisations. It’s fun, it’s like companies. So we need all the help that we can get to really make this happen.

Laura Laker
And you were saying that here in Dublin, you you have an installation outside of the main conference, which is open to everyone, obviously, their conferences, a paid event. But you’re going to be sticking around after the conference to kind of share some of the knowledge he was saying, and then hopefully pass that on within Dublin.

Maud de Vries
Yeah, so we’re going to be here from September to end of November, at Trinity College, in Dublin, working with the professors and the city of Dublin, to see you know, what insights do we get, you know, how can we use them to come up with pilots and innovation? So Dublin? And how can we change the situation here, because Dublin now is the second slowest city in Europe. And I think we should change that by implementing a bicycle. So I think we already make a really good start tonight by starting with the new bicycle mayor in Dublin, and tomorrow with a new Junior bicycle mayor, because the junior, of course will be impacting the children is here in Dublin. And I think, you know, building this bikes lab, which is in this case, a temporary facility really can make a difference where people can come together, they can collect insights, they can talk, they can do presentations. So it’s open to all people don’t have to pay a fee, or people don’t have anyone who wants to can do a talk over there. And then in the end, you know, we’ll make this part of something bigger. And we really want to make top down innovations and make it available for the city to implement

Laura Laker
While doing the sort of grassroots bottom up stuff from the communities with the mayor’s and selves?

Maud de Vries
Yeah, we’re connected to that. And I think what we are good at is sort of giving them tools like, like, the Bicycle Architecture Bianele, which gives inspiration or the leadership, which is the bicycle mentor network, or, you know, we have lots of other things by bikes to work. And we have the lab where they can then come start me people. And we also have interesting campaigns and stuff, you know, but in the end, it’s like, it’s an idea where we can start this big movement around cycling, with these change makers and all these ideas, and also the tools to really, yeah, make it happen and get the cars out. And the bicycles in.

Carlton Reid
Thanks to today’s guests Adam Tranter, Maud de Vries, and Satya Sankaran, and thanks also to Laura Laker for allowing me to run that audio which she recorded for our podcast Virtual Velo-city, all episodes of which can be found online for free thanks to sponsorship from the Dutch Cycling Embassy.

OK, so this show is like those proverbial buses — you wait ages for one and then three come along at once. The next episode of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast will be published on our more normal schedule and, unless there’s something else breaking in the meantime, will be an interview with South African cycling activist and academic Njogu Morgan. Meanwhile, get out there and ride.