Review of Podcasts: The Bike Show

Jack Thurston presents The Bike Show on London community radio station Resonance 104.4FM. The show takes a relatively broad brush approach to topics, but its first loves are touring, the fixed gear scene, and urban cycling.

The Bike Show logo

Mr Thurston, as a presenter, is well practised and professional while retaining a friendly, personal feel. The show goes out live but it has none of the frantic feel of other live shows. I would characterise it as having a typically English feel- it takes it’s time to get to the nub of things. Where it criticises it is polite and constructive, and while it knows what it doesn’t like (badly designed public spaces for example), there’s no place for a Sod Off Corner here.

The podcast is very different to the other shows out there, and it’s biggest asset is that it takes its time and delves into detail. Jack will get his teeth into a topic, without being distracted by topical news. My friend Andy described it as the Rouleur of cycling podcasts- printed on good quality paper stock, and I think this is a pretty good description. It’s one to savour, to keep and to listen to again.

He is a good interviewer, being able to get great commentary out of diverse people ranging from Cycling Weekly journalist Lionel Birnie and pro team manager John Herety, to eccentrics at bike jumble sales and random cycle tourers he meets on the train up to Edinburgh.

The podcast archive is a great resource. Because the shows don’t tend to focus on topical news that dates over time, many of the shows are still a really good listen. I only discovered this podcast in late 2009 and since then I have been working my way through the archives, which date back to 2005. If I have a criticism, it would be that the content isn’t always to my taste, but that isn’t exactly a failing. Whenever a cycling podcast says “we won’t talk about the Tour de France/pro racing/etc for too long, because that might not be your cup of tea…” my heart sinks!

One gem of a show that I listened to recently interviewed Peter Woods, who had produced a radio documentary for Irish station RTÉ on an Irish bike racer from the 50s and 60s – Mick Murphy aka “The Iron Man”. This extraordinary man tells tales of drinking cow’s blood, his home-made gym, stealing a bike during The Ras, winning The Ras, and his ultra-attacking riding style. The full Mick Murphy RTE documentary (mp3) is archived on the RTÉ site and still worth a listen if you can understand the accent!

Other highlights include two shows featuring the now-deceased cycling guru Sheldon Brown – one in 2005 and another in 2006 with Sheldon’s typically encyclopaedic knowledge of fixed gears and gear ratios.

Oh and the music’s great, sprinklings of high quality reggae and soul as well as some more unusual bike-themed tracks. A nod to Le Guape’s cycling podcast review, that itself nodded to me and spurred me to getting round to reviewing this podcast.

The Bike Show website and full archives
Bike Show on iTunes

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