Lockdown is a good time to catch up on your reading, and here writer Owen Rogers interviews William Fotheringham about William’s latest book, The Greatest: The Times and Life of Beryl Burton.Read more
Finalised dates for signings of The Greatest: the Times and Life of Beryl Burton
Sept 19 – 7pm, OFFICIAL LAUNCH, Town Hall Morley
Sept 22 – British Cycling Member Day, British Cycling Club House, HarrogateRead more
Back to the blogs now that the autumn evenings are drawing in, the Tour of Lombardy is safely behind us and Putte Kapellen has closed the Belgian racing season… The first of the winter is about my next book: a biography of Beryl Burton to be published in September 2019, entitled The Greatest: the Times and Life of Beryl Burton (I’m sure you can see what I’m doing there). Work is well under way, and it’s nice to have the bit firmly between the teeth.
I had a fun Bank Holiday weekend at the Giro, but not the Giro the whole cycling world was talking about. I wasn’t in Rome watching Chris Froome’s triumph, instead I was not far from home in Shropshire driving a neutral service vehicle on the Giro del Mon https://www.girodelmon.co.uk, a three-day, five-stage race set up this year by Shrewsbury’s Chris Pook, of local club Rhino Velo Racing. As a result over the three days I got to see more bike racing up close than in nearly 30 years covering the Tour de France.
Rules are there to be broken, so I’m going to kick on with the blogs by breaking a rule I set myself, that I wouldn’t be blogging about work in the purest sense of it. There are times when work, pleasure and cultural discovery overlap and that’s how it was last week in Flanders, when I stuck around in Kortrijk for Ghent-Wevelgem, Dwars Door Vlaanderen and the Big One on Easter Sunday. In between times I was researching for next year’s book, which is provisionally entitled, Passion, Cobbles and Brown Beer. It’s about Belgian cycling in case anyone is wondering…
Advance warning. I’ve been trying for a while to figure out how to do these blogs and have finally decided the only approach is the well known sportswear company one: Just Do It. But I think a proviso is necessary. These pieces are not going to be controversial, opinionated, “calling out” anyone for this and that. I don’t have a massive legal team to back me up, andI have a very good forum in the Guardian when they ask me to put across my views on Jiffy Bags and such.
The closing stage of the Sunday in Hell spring tour ended somewhere on a Great Western train heading west from Reading. It was an exhilarating and at times zombifyingly tiring few days doing something I hadn’t done before, a series of book signings and Q&A sessions back to back, four in the space of five days across the south of the UK: London, Poole, Bristol, and London again. In distance and arduousness, it was more the Four Days of Dunkirk than the Giro. But it was fun.
How to get ahead in winter
First of a series of blogs on the new-look website.
The risks you run as a cyclist if you don’t take winter seriously were brought home this week when a cyclist of my acquaintance ventured out on what looked like a decent enough day only to be caught in a big sleet shower 30 miles from base. The bike rider in question had a cape with him but otherwise was in thin stuff. He ended up shivering under a blanket in a cafe, borderline hypothermic; if he had one thing to be thankful for, it was that he didn’t get a mechanical and end up by the roadside at what could have been a very nasty moment.
It is one of the most evocative of opening sentences: “In my case I came upon the Tour de France by way of Whitley Bay and Morecambe.” To paraphrase the late Geoff Nicholson’s beginning to this book, in my personal case I came upon the Tour de France by way of The Great Bike Race. There are books that change your life and shape your life. This is one of those.
In every sport there are dead legends, in every sport there are living legends and in every sport there are the men who provide the invisible thread that binds past and present together: Jean Bobet is such a man, brother of the triple Tour winner Louison, and now a celebrated writer on the sport they enjoyed together. Here is Louison’s training partner and confidant, a man who rubbed shoulders with all the greats of the 1950s, and who was at Fausto Coppi’s funeral: a day he remembers for the fact that ‘in death as in life, others appropriated Fausto.’