The Cycling Europe Podcast
About The Cycling Europe Podcast
Tim Sanders holds the accolade of being one of only two people to have attended every single Cycle Touring Festival since the event first appeared on the calendar in 2015. During this year’s event in Clitheroe he spoke to The Cycling Europe Podcast not only about the joys of the festival but also about a recent cycling journey that took him from the Istrian Peninsula on the Adriatic coast along the Parenzana Trail to Trieste and onwards over the Alps to Munich in southern Germany.
In 2017, novice long-distance cyclist Craig Fee set off on a continental odyssey to cycle from London to his friend’s wedding in Florence, Italy. But had he bitten off more than he could chew? In his new book, Cycling Into The Unknown, he tells the story of the journey and in this episode of the podcast, he reflects upon the experience of setting off on a make-it-up-as-you-go cycle across Europe…
To celebrate Yorkshire Day 2023, another opportunity to listen to a Yorkshire-themed podcast (albeit one that starts in Lancashire). "Andrew P. Sykes takes The Cycling Europe Podcast out on the cycle path and travels from Morecambe on Lancashire's west coast to the county's historical capital at Lancaster, across the Pennines and through Yorkshire via Settle and Ripon, completing his trip in that county's historical capital at York. The Way of the Roses is a route of contrasting landscapes and, at times, challenging terrain; join Andrew (and his bicycle Wanda) as they spend three days following one of northern England's most popular cycle routes. The music is composed and played by Rob Ainsley. More of Rob’s music can be found on his website e2e.bike." If you'd like to contribute to The Cycling Europe Podcast, please get in touch by emailing podcast@CyclingEurope.org. If you'd like to support the podcast, please visit CyclingEurope.org/Support. Thanks if you can!
Cathryn Ramsden cycled with her husband and son from Calais to Annecy. Dale Majors has cycled with his wife and six young children on several long trips across Europe and in the US. Gavin McCulloch cycled to Moscow from Scotland in 1990. Rich Jeffries was reluctant to cycle across Belgium but loved it! In this episode of The Cycling Europe Podcast they share their experiences in bite-sized interviews and monologues. How do you persuade a 12-year-old boy to cycle hundreds of kilometres? How do you manage the logistics of travelling as a family group of eight? How do you feed yourself in Russia when the supermarkets are full of beetroot? And how do you overcome the urge to give Belgium a wide berth?
Disillusioned by life in the post-graduation rat race of the film industry, Leigh Timmis set off on his bike and spent seven years cycling around the world. When he finally returned home to the UK, he didn't reach for his pipe and slippers. Far from it... "In 2018, Leigh Timmis became the fastest person to cycle across Europe – in just 16 days, 10 hours and 45 minutes – breaking the previous world record by an astonishing 8 days and 17 hours. But when he set out to break the record, Leigh wasn’t just trying to conquer the road... Although test results showed that he already had the physical ability of an elite athlete, something was holding him back: his troubled mind... Cycling for 14 hours a day, from the west coast of Portugal to the edge of Siberia, he embarked on far more than just a physical journey. The Race of Truth is the remarkable true story of personal transformation against the clock, and the astonishing feats we can accomplish when we face up to our deepest fears."
In 1993, recently graduated student Greg Yeoman set off with his Australian friend Kate Leeming on a cycling expedition of nearly 13,000km, from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok. In a journey that is currently impossible, they pedalled across the entire length of post-Soviet Russia, exploring the landscapes and meeting the people as they went. 30 years later, he looks back on his epic adventure.
Mark Wedgwood had always been a lover of maps. In 2022, newly liberated from the constraints of a full-time job, he decided to cycle across every Ordnance Survey Landranger map of Britain. He spoke to The Cycling Europe Podcast about the challenge that took him from the northernmost point of Shetland (map 1) to Fowey in Cornwall (map 204)… the long way.
"The academic year must have been a difficult one as when the summer holidays arrived, secondary school teacher Andrew Sykes was happy to do as little as possible. But while sitting on his sofa watching the exploits of the cyclists at the Great Wall of China at the Beijing Olympics, he realised the error of his ways and resolved to put a bit more adventure into his life. Two years later, accompanied by his faithful companion Reggie (his bike) but only a rudimentary plan, Andrew set off for a trans-continental cycling adventure that would take him along the route of the Via Francigena and the Eurovelo 5 all the way from his home in southern England to Brindisi in the south of Italy. There were highs and lows, rain and shine, joy and despair and they are all recounted here in a light-hearted, brisk style."
In the autumn of 2022, Susan and Ron Crump, a retired couple from Kentucky in the USA set off on their first cycle tour. Instead of dipping their toes in the shallow end of the cycle touring pool, they plunged into the deep end by embarking upon a 3,500km cycle from Amsterdam to Athens. Along with two more experienced cycle touring friends - Pam and Ralph - this is the story of their trip; the preparation, the execution and the aftermath. They may have been jumping for joy upon arrival in Athens but were they jumping for joy throughout the cycle? And has the trip been a springboard for future rides or will their next visit to Europe be on a cruise ship?
Tony Lenihan, a retired policeman, works for his local council in the English Midlands as their ‘Sustainable Travel and Wellbeing Coordinator’. He’s also a keen cyclist and, in the early autumn of 2022, after more than 40 years of work, he decided to take a career break and head off on a solo cycling adventure from Bilbao to Athens. It would be a 7-week ferry-hopping Greek odyssey that took him through northern Spain, to the islands of Sardinia and Scilly, across the heel of Italy to Brindisi before sailing the Adriatic to his final destination of Greece. He talked to The Cycling Europe Podcast about his continental experiences… but also about ‘active travel’ in the UK and how the country measures up (or not) to its European neighbours.
Tony Lenihan is a touring cyclist and in the next full episode of The Cycling Europe Podcast - number 068 - you will hear him talk about a journey he made 'from B to A' - Bilbao to Athens in the early autumn of 2022. The podcast was recorded at the same time as the British Chancellor of the Exchequer (the finance minister) was delivering his annual budget to parliament and the nation. Tony works for a council in the English Midlands and is their 'Sustainable Travel and Wellbeing Coordinator'. Before we spoke about his trip, we took the timely opportunity to discuss his professional interest in cycling; active travel, which has recently seen a large cut in funding in England. I comment in the recording that what we said was worthy of a podcast in itself... so here it is. A little shorter than normal - just 15 minutes - with no introduction etc... Spolier alert: the chancellor didn't announce a U-turn on funding, just £200 million for potholes... The full podcast will be published on YouTube: YouTube.com/@CyclingEuropeYouTube - on 18.3.23 and then across all podcast platforms on 25.3.23.
In June 2022, Tim Boden - an experienced group cyclist - set off on his first solo cycle tour, to Brittany in north-west France. His route took him from the port of Roscoff along the Vélodyssée / EuroVelo 1 to Redon. He then joined French regional route number 42 to follow the coast to Saint-Nazaire before returning to the Vélodyssée for a cycle beside the Loire to Nantes and back to Redon. Here he rejoined the eastern portion of route 42 to cycle north to Saint-Malo. Tim talks about the routes but also the history and culture of this distinctive French region. We also revisit two encounters from episodes 55 & 56 with three French cyclists - Fabian, Julian and Guillaume - and, from Breton Bikes and Camping de Gouarec, Geoff Husband.
A few months ago I was approached by Jet2 Holidays who asked if I would be interested in discovering the joys of cycling in one of their winter destinations in southern Europe. Of course I said yes and had a look at the map. Where would be nice and warm in the middle of February? The Canary Islands seemed the most likely place to deliver good weather so I arranged to travel to Costa Adeje on the island of Tenerife. I hired a bike and headed along the coast and up the hills… This was a different approach to travelling on two wheels. How did I get on without a tent and four panniers but in a luxury hotel on an unfamiliar bicycle?
Matthew Sturgeon is an architect and cyclist from Ilkley in Yorkshire and he’s on a mission to visit every one of mainland Britain’s 186 lighthouses. Inspired by his late late wife Angela, who raised £40,000 for cancer research, Matthew is raising money for his A Bit Of A Break charity. It funds visits for cancer patients and their families to holiday properties around the UK. He started collecting his lighthouses with a ride along the Northumbrian coast and has now visited 100. But why lighthouses? What’s his favourite lighthouse? What has been the most disappointing lighthouse? What has been the most difficult to cycle to? And what will be lighthouse number 186? Matthew tells his story to The Cycling Europe Podcast…
An ever-increasing number of people have cycled around the world. Not many have done it on a tandem. Even fewer have broken a world record in the process. Laura Massey-Pugh was on the back and her husband Stevie was on the front of their custom-made tandem when, in June 2022 they set off from the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, destination the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. 175 days later they completed their journey. Before setting off, Laura recorded a short monologue for episode 32 of The Cycling Europe Podcast. Now she returns to tell the full story of what it means to cycle 18,000 miles around the globe. Is it as easy as riding a, err… tandem?
“Hours, days, weeks and months in the saddle does something funny to your brain. We came back from the trip convinced that cycling was the answer to all of life’s problems and that if we could convince every last one of you to choose a bike not a car, we’d be well on our way to saving the planet. Easy, right?!” Those are the words of Beth Ward who, alongside her partner Robin, cycled from Wales to Istanbul in 2019. As they pedalled an idea grew in their minds to set up a community bike workshop. When they returned home, that’s exactly what they did in Llangollen. Beth has now been included in Cycling UK’s list of 100 women in cycling in 2022. The Cycling Europe Podcast headed down the Dee Valley to investigate…
Beryl Burton was born in Yorkshire on May 12th 1937. Her upbringing was tough. Her school report described her as a 'stubborn little mule. At the age of 10 she spent 9 months in hospital and doctors told her never to ride a bike uphill. She went on to become one of Britain's greatest ever athletes - of either sex - and a cycling world champion seven times over. She was the country's 'best all-rounder' female cyclist for 25 consecutive years from 1959 to 1983. She died, cycling, a few days short of her 59th birthday in 1996. Jeremy Wilson - chief sports reporter for The Daily Telegraph - has written an awarding-winning book about the life of this cycling enigma who remains little known outside her home county or the world of cycle racing.
Gareth Dent has a long-term relationship with small-wheeled bicycles. Growing up in Stevenage in the late 1960s he made the most of the town’s futuristic network of cycle routes on his 14” Moulton Mini. 40 years later he rekindled his love for small wheels during an organised folding bike challenge from London to Paris, in the process meeting a group of like-minded enthusiasts. It was with these new friends that , several years later, he started to cycle the route of the 1903 Tour de France, in stages, over 4 years. The interview was recorded in Halifax’s covered market where we also bumped into Tony, the West Yorkshire town’s own proponent of small-wheeled cycling. He had much to say…
Tristam Newey is a science-fiction writer from Southampton who loves all things sea, air, space.. and cycling. Inspired by H.G.Wells' 1896 comic novel The Wheels of Chance, in July 2022 Tristam set off to retrace the journey of the book's main protagonist, Mr. Hoopdriver - a frustrated draper's assistant from Putney - from London to the south coast of England (and halfway back). As he travelled, he rediscovered the places that H.G. Wells wrote about and recreated the sketches that appeared in the original book. In the words of H.G. Wells himself, "Whoop for freedom and adventure!",
The Cycling Europe Podcast continues to follow Andrew Sykes as he concludes his ‘Grand Tour’ cycle around Europe. In this episode of the podcast, after completing his ride along the Via Rhôna / EuroVelo 17 in Andermatt, Switzerland, he sets off to cycle the Rhine from its source high in the Alps to the North Sea at Rotterdam. His journey takes him along the Rhine valley in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, France, Germany and The Netherlands meeting friends and strangers as he pedals. Will the Rhine Cycle Route (EuroVelo 15) live up to its reputation as one of the best cycling routes in Europe? And will he make it back to the Hook of Holland - the place where he started his journey over two months ago - in time for his ferry home to the UK? This is not just a cycle touring story; it’s a race against time! The music is by Rob Ainsley.