From The Jaws Of (Near) Disaster: The Tale Of Maximilian Is Told

Two weeks ago today, following a rather lethargic cycle around my local area here in the west of West Yorkshire, I was descending the short but steep hill near my house when suddenly my bike – Wanda WorldTraveller – stopped functioning as she should. I juddered across the road struggling to pull on at least one of the brakes, veered to the opposite side of the tarmac and ground to a halt against the kerb on the wrong side of the road. Mercifully it was a quiet Sunday afternoon and the incident only involved me, Wanda, the aforementioned kerb and my dented pride.

It was a self-inflicted incident. The previous day I had decided to attached the elasticated strap that is used to secure luggage on the rear pannier rack back onto the bike for no good reason other than the fact that I was having a tidy up and noticed it hanging on a coat hook near the front door. On the bumpy road along which I live, as I cycled at a relatively high-speed, it became dislodged and wrapped itself around the hub with the elasticated fabric becoming lodged between the carbon belt drive and the rear hub cog. It took some time to remove the material and required a sharp knife and a large amount of patience. I am still unsure as to whether any damage has been done. To be on the safe side, I left the rear wheel dismantled and immediately phoned the bike shop in Tadcaster. I had been there only the previous week for Wanda’s first annual service and now she is booked in for an impromptu return on Tuesday of next week. That’s the downside of this story…

…but there is an upside. My ‘permitted local exercise’ regime had been working quite well with cycling being an important part of the mix. I had even started to venture a little further afield taking in a trip over to Keighley and Ilkley only a few days before the elasticated strap incident:

That has now stopped, hopefully temporarily. At least I still had the walking and jogging to keep me going… But no cycling. How to fill the gap?

Well, for a few months I have been fermenting the idea of putting together a special episode of The Cycling Europe Podcast about the life of Maximilian J. St. George. I have mentioned him from time to time here on and the eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that I have now dedicated a whole section of the website to the great man himself. Those pages have now been complemented with a rather special edition of the podcast.

The production process has involved a significant commitment of time and, as is noted in the graphic above, the help of various people who have contributed their thoughts, knowledge, experiences and voices:

  • The actor Jeremy Walker who spoke the words of Maximilian J. St. George as written in Max’s book, Traveling Light or Cycling Europe on Fifty Cents a Day
  • My friend Claus in Stuttgart who voiced the words of Manfred / Helmut from my own book, Spain to Norway…
  • The cycling academic Dr. James Stout who was introduced to me via Twitter. He is based in San Diego, California but he specialises in early 20th century history and was able to provide fascinating background information about pre-First World War Europe
  • The cycling writer Michael Hutchinson who has written a book called Re: Cyclists, 200 Years on Two Wheels and who was able to talk about the bicycles of the early 20th century and the popularity of cycle touring at the time
  • And the (very) long-distance cyclists Lehel Benedek and Elod Keresszegi from Romania who, in 2010, set off on their own epic cycling tour of Europe travelling over 30,000km and visiting almost every country on the continent, eclipsing even the feat of Maximilian J. St. George over 100 years earlier.

The podcast is now available to stream or download from any of the following platforms:

On YouTube, you also have the option of subtitles:

For this particular episode of the podcast, there was even a script; you can read it here:

The links to all previous episodes of the podcast are available on the podcast page of and include interviews with Mark Beaumont, Timmy Mallett, ‘Gears For Queers’, Ed Lancaster (of the European Cyclists’ Federation), Anna Hughes, Helen Moat, Caroline Burrows… and many more!

If you’d like to support the podcast, please consider rating the podcast after you listen to one of the episodes. If you think you have an interesting cycling story to tell (it doesn’t have to be in Europe!) then please get in touch by emailing

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Categories: Adventure, Cycling, Travel

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