Exploring the many fascinating facets of cycling and bike culture, Jack Thurston’s The Bike Show is a weekly radio broadcast on London station Resonance 104.4fm. But just as the content isn’t confined to its London setting, the show reaches a global audience thanks to its popular podcasts with several years of shows, and hours of entertaining listening, available to download. If you’re discovering the show for the first time then you’re in for a real treat as you wander through the archives – Jack’s enthusiasm for all things cycling is infectious and makes for both charming and insightful radio. Just as the latest season hits the airwaves, we chat about his passion for touring, love of Moultons, and his thoughts on Boris Bikes…
Give us a brief account of your cycling background. My earliest cycling memory is riding behind my mum as a young boy, across Midsummer Common in Cambridge, where we lived; to me she looked huge on this giant upright Raleigh, while I zipped along on my little red bike. Then in the sixth form at school in north London my friend Daniel Start was granted permission to start a cycling club as a way of getting out of doing normal games which by that point, we hated. An understanding and rather eccentric chemistry teacher supervised a small group of us on touring rides in Hertforshire, and the school even provided us with pack lunches. I didn’t regard cycling as sport but as a way of getting around independently. As a fifteen year old I remember riding down to the West End to the Virgin Megastore and Ray’s Jazz Shop, and as I was getting there for free without having to pay for a bus or tube fare it meant I could buy more records. I was quite taken by that idea. I also remember being about twelve and my parents allowing me to do the London to Cambridge ride (a mass participation event much like London to Brighton) on my own – they seemed to think nothing of it. They took the train to Cambridge to meet me at the finish.
How did you first getting in cycle touring? My first touring trip was with a group of friends to Ivinghoe Beacon in the Chilterns after doing our mock GCSEs. We made all the basic mistakes and were totally unprepared, not bringing warm enough kit or any waterproofs and allowing our tents and sleeping bags to become drenched on the back of our bikes. It was February and at night it was snowing and got so cold we couldn’t even light our stove, and all we could eat was some raw tinned ravioli. I imagine some of us were very close to hyperthermia. Strangely that experience didn’t seem to put me off.
What bikes do you ride? Luckily I have a bit of storage space near where I live so at the moment I have eight bikes. I think I’ve just bought a tandem too – a friend is bringing it down from Manchester. The collection also includes three Moultons which I have a particular interest in. They make for fantastic touring bikes, incredibly comfortable and well designed to carry a touring load. Their smaller wheels actually make them faster than normal bikes, particularly on the downhills. Tom Simpson even raced one on the track until the UCI banned them. Read the rest of this entry »