The Cycling Podcast and me

As a relative newcomer to the sport, The Cycling Podcast has been my lifeline. Richard, Lionel and Daniel (or, as I like to think of them, my two wise older brothers and slightly aloof hipster cousin) have taught me almost everything I know about cycling. Their voices have accompanied countless commutes and training runs. They have provided much needed background conversation when I’ve been working at home researching and writing about unimaginably awful topics as part of my day job.

Crucially, their content is extremely accessible (findable, listenable and free for the standard podcast) and lacks the exclusivity of other podcasts. I don’t need to be wearing an Eddy Merckx replica jersey with a pair of Rapha yakskin loafers to be part of their gang. I don’t have to possess an encyclopaedic knowledge of Sean Kelly’s cycling career (although I sense that Lionel might secretly prefer that their listeners did) to keep up with the topics under discussion. They have found the middle ground between being too basic and too intimidating and in-jokey. Thankfully they steer well clear of interviews that proceed along the following lines: “So! Brad! What’s your favourite cheese? Let’s do a wheelie! Wheeeee!” Conversely, I love my Rouleur Magazine subscription but I’m waiting for someone to knock on the door any day now and confiscate my collection because I don’t embody the lifestyle expected of their disciples.

When the Friends of the Podcast scheme was established at the beginning of 2015 I signed up immediately. A fiver for several hours of extra material was (and still is) an absolute bargain. The Friends scheme has risen in price to £10 this year but it is still an absolute steal. Every time a Friends podcast is released it reminds me of the time I was given a subscription to the Hotel Chocolat tasting club (I miss it) and received a box of chocolates through the door each month. Their PIRC podcast for subscribers was a highlight last year, along with the (Im)Perfect Tour de France and both stand up to repeated listening. I cannot recommend a subscription to the Cycling Podcast highly enough. I got a bit overexcited when I saw them from (very) afar at Bradley Wiggins’ Hour Record in London last June and it was interesting to hear their take on the event afterwards.

Their podcasts from the Tour – both the stage reviews and Kilometre 0 –  last year were excellent although I must confess (Ciro-style) that on a particularly bad commute one morning I Tweeted the Podcast to tell them to stop telling me what was going to be in the upcoming interview before they played it. I felt a bit bad afterwards because I should have followed it up with ‘Loving your work, guys!’ but I didn’t because that’s just silly.

While I’m doing a ‘Feedback sandwich’ (and I’m fully aware that my feedback is neither sought nor required), I’m going to mention one small thing that mars my enjoyment of the Podcast. It’s a largely male affair (and that’s not necessarily an issue for me), but the (too) occasional presence of Orla Chennaoui does redress the balance a little. Just a tiny whinge though: if a female cyclist such as Hannah Barnes has achieved something she shouldn’t be referred via her status as Tao Geoghegan Hart’s girlfriend. Just saying. Can we hear a bit more about the women in their own right please?

Above all, what comes across is their genuine affection for cycling. Of course, their day jobs involve writing and talking about the sport so they’re paid to make it interesting but they all convey intelligence, passion and integrity. In short, they have greatly enhanced my understanding and enjoyment of cycling, their podcasts brighten my working week considerably and I sincerely hope we are never told why Lionel’s nickname is ‘Napalm’. I am very pleased that they will be covering the Giro (my favourite grand tour) in more depth this year and can’t wait to find out what the 2016 Friends specials will be.

This is all getting a bit gushy now so I’ll stop but without the CP I would be one of those idiots that still didn’t understand anything about cycling. Now I can at least sound a little bit knowledgeable. If they ever expand their t-shirt range to include one that references the Willunga Hill ain’t Alpe d’Huez meme I’ll be first in the queue. Ladies’ slim fit, obviously. I’ll wear it while I read the next issue of Rouleur.

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5 comments

  1. Ben · February 8, 2016

    Excellent review jwo79 – wholeheartedly agree. The fact that this content is mostly free is just inconceivable. I’ve been a paid FOTP since it’s inception, but I’m yet to listen to any of them as I still need to figure out how to stream them to my mobile device.

    Oh, and I can confirm that after riding Old Willunga Hill (yes, I’m one of Lionel’s despised Antipodeans), I did ask myself “what….is that it?”….although it’s a bit steep at the beginning. Corkscrew Rd is much more aligned to Alpe d’Huez.

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    • jwo79 · February 9, 2016

      Thanks Ben! I think they’ve now done something to enable Friends to listen to the specials on mobile devices, but I generally stream them at home so haven’t tried it yet.

      I think Lionel has an aversion to both speculation and countries that won’t serve him cassoulet.

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  2. Lionel · February 10, 2016

    Hi, I was looking for an email address to drop you a line to say thanks for writing such a nice blog about our podcast. It’s very gratifying that you appreciate what we are trying to do, and your constructive criticism will help us to improve certain aspects too.

    I must just correct Ben (above), though… I certainly do not despise Antipodeans even though they do not serve cassoulet and despite the fact I have had some uncomfortable days at the cricket at the expense of Aussie jokesters. Once, at Edgbaston, I was just about to bite into a Scotch Egg, when an Australian fan a few rows back shouted: “Hey, baldy, did your mommy make you a packed lunch? That’s nice.”

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    • jwo79 · February 10, 2016

      Hello and thanks for taking the time to comment Lionel! I really enjoyed your report from the 6-day. Going to a 6-day is definitely on the list of things we’d like to do.

      It feels churlish to complain about something that one gets free (see also: people that whinge about Twitter) and they’re very much ‘My diamond shoes are too tight’ category of constructive criticism!

      Keep on doing what you do – your listeners really appreciate it 🙂

      Jo

      P.s. *cough* Ashes *cough*

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  3. Pingback: Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne! Disco Inferno! | watchingthewheels

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