As a linguist and a cyclist, the language of cycling has always been of interest. If you know even a little French or Italian or Spanish – the main languages of the Grand Tours – it certainly helps when trying to understand what’s going on. Indeed such is the influence of these languages that the Tour de Yorkshire – my local race here in northern England, a legacy event following the visit of the Tour de France to the region in 2014 – not only includes the ‘de’ in its name but continues to refer to its more significant climbs using the French word ‘côte’ or ‘hill’ in honour of Le Tour itself. They can sound quite comical – the Côte de Goose Eye or the Côte de Otley Chevin for example – and it must drive the Brexit voters mad that their ‘pure’ English is being ‘corrupted’ by the French. But let’s face it, that all started way back in 1066 (and long may it continue).
Since purchasing the drone about a month ago, I’ve been continuing to take small steps towards making a film that involves some cycling. Although not quite there yet, this new film does tell the story of my 72 km ride yesterday along the Calder Valley and back with friend Craig. Hopefully the next film will involve some drone footage of a cyclist actually cycling. The cyclists featured here are all static; admiring the view, operating said drone or pumping up a tyre. It was a glorious day for a bike ride with barely any wind; it’s amazing to note how little wind is required to keep those turbines rotating. One day I’ll return up there with the drone and try to fly it through the turbines as they spin. Perhaps…
It’s only April but in the last four months there have been six episodes of The Cycling Europe Podcast and we are now recognised as in the top 5% of podcasts worldwide! The guests in 2021 have been many and varied; if you are into your cycling, travel or adventure, you are certain to find something that sparks your interest. We have had the please to welcome Cycling UK’s new CEO, Sarah Mitchell, Suzanne Forup who is an active campaigner for cycling in Scotland, the academic and ultra-long-diistance cyclist Dr Iann Walker, travel writer and TV presenter Simon Parker, world bikepacker Markus Stitz, the ‘Tandem WOW’ team of Rachel Marsden and Catherine Dixon, round-the-world penny-farthing cyclist Joff Summerfield, Tahverlee Anglen of WarmShowers, the YHA’s Simon Ainley, Simon Kershaw from one the UK’s newest cycle-friendly hotels, Bike & Boot and the wild camper extraordinaire Tim Millikin. Quite an eclectic bunch!
Cycling festivals – and here I’m talking about ‘festivals’ in the sense of Glastonbury or Reading where people head off to spend a few days in a particular place at a particular time – are few and far between. I’ve been involved with the Cycle Touring Festival in Clitheroe for quite a few years now. It’s a relatively small scale event, very informal where just as much time is spent watching the world go by or chatting with fellow cycle tourists as it is in formal sit-down-and-listen events. That’s perhaps one end of the cycling festival spectrum. At the other end? Well, how about this?
Back in the 80s and 90s, bicycle couriers were a bit of a novelty. I remember seeing them when I lived in London. I don’t think many people thought they would stick around beyond their allocated period of being a fad. Surely a cyclist couldn’t match the speed of getting some important document from one corner of the city to the other! But clearly they could and 30 years later, cycle couriers are indeed still around, and with the likes of Deliveroo and cargo bikes, the sector is not only surviving but flourishing. And some people who were cycle couriers in their youth – Emily Chappell and Julian Sayarer come to mind – have gone on to greater things in the wider cycling world.
A few weeks ago, shortly after attending an online seminar on the subject, I posted an article about cycling in Slovenia. It was kind of the ‘official’ version. My experience of cycling in Slovenia, as I set out in that post, is very limited; just a few hours back in 2013 as I cycled from Croatia in the direction of Trieste in Italy. Even after such a short visit, however, I was impressed and the seminar made it clear that there was much, much more to see in this, one of Europe’s smallest countries. A few days later a Slovenian cyclist called Miha Pavšič emailed with an ‘insider’s view’ of cycling in Slovenia. All good things come in threes and clearly cycling in Slovenia is no exception as Robin Watkins has now been in touch. He visited Slovenia in September 2017 and below are his thoughts on travelling through the country and, again, some beautiful photographs.