Aural pleasures of the Velocast

I’m a firm believer is the old adage that you get what you pay for. Except when you’re out shoplifting, of course. But generally speaking, if something’s cheap there’s a reason for that. Either it’s shit, or it’s OK but was made by some poor sap working for a pittance. Or, as in the case with this blog, it’s cheap (free) because it’s thrown together by some sap stupid enough to do stuff for free. What can I say…I love the sound of my own voice. You’re welcome.

Anyway, I love cycling. I consume cycling mags, books, films, websites, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, podcasts and all things cycling related. Sometimes I even stop wasting my time with all this shit and actually go out on my bike (usually to the Rapha cafe where I spend £19.70 on a flapjack and a extra-shot low-foam luke-warm double-decaf skinny soy cappuccino while watching re-runs of the Spring Classics on Eurosport). Sometimes I look at base layers made from New Zealand Merino wool infused with Manuka honey that cost more than my entire “civvie” wardrobe.

So much do I love cycling that I have been tempted into something quite extraordinary…I’ve actually paid to subscribe to a cycling podcast. It’s the first (and probably only) time I have ventured behind a paywall. Not even the many and varied delights of crazypeegirls.com (only $19.99 a month) has persuaded me to actually stump up money for stuff that I can usually get for free elsewhere. The thing is, though, sometimes you come across something that is so obviously worth the money that it becomes a no-brainer to stump up the dosh. Velocast is one such no-brainer.

I’ve been listening to the Velocast for years…way back when presenters Scott O’Raw had hair and John Galloway was a postman. Nowadays they seem to do the Velocast pretty much full-time and it really is an excellent podcast. Or collection of podcasts, because they do a regular weekly podcast about racing, a weekly podcast about the history of racing (This Week in Cycling History, co-hosted by Cillian Kelly), an occasional book review show (also co-hosted by Cillian Kelly), and then daily shows from the Spring Classics and the Grand Tours. There’s a shit-load of content there, and it’s very well done. These guys clearly know their stuff, they’re amusing and passionate about the sport, and I’m quite happy to spend my money (I think it was about £65 for the early-bird special) on it. They also put up free shows from time to time to lure in fresh subscribers, and there are a few of them on their website, too.

This week’s This Week in Cycling History is 50 minutes of John and Cillian talking about olden day stuff. I’m fascinated by the history of our sport and love learning about the characters and exploits of yesteryear…it’s a bit like a podcast version of Rouleur (the Rouleur podcast is more about promoting the latest issue) but more lighthearted and without the bonkers photography or the artistic use of negative space. There is a format to TWiCH…Cillian recounts a story of yesteryear lunacy, he and John chat about it (and related things) for a while, Cillian recounts another tale of olden-day madness, he and John chat about it (and related things) for a while. Wrap it up, same again next week. And it’s great. I absolutely love it. It’s funny, it’s interesting, it’s empathetic, and it’s one of the highlights of my cycling week. And Cillian is the sort of uber-nerd bike racing geek that makes you feel you could enjoy an evening in the pub together while feeling ever so slightly sorry for his wife. His encyclopedic knowledge of road racing is absolutely extraordinary.

In this episode we get to hear about Jean Marie Leblanc being fined for stopping for a picnic on a stage of the 1970 Tour, the men behind the TdF organisation, and the story of possibly the ultimate all-round racer — Adri van der Poel, who was phenomenally successful in road and cyclocross in the 1980s. Perhaps the best stuff is about the trading of race wins between Sean Kelly and van der Poel, and the fact that the organisers of Lombardia in 1986 were so adamant that an Italian should win Lombardia that the race director used his car to drive Sean Kelly off the road (Kelly got back on, rejoined the leaders, and knowing he wouldn’t be allowed to win it agreed a cash fee for not contesting it). Van der Poel also got popped for doping , a charge he denied by claiming he had eaten a racing pigeon that had been doped!

It’s all good, interesting stuff and I always feel at the end of the show that my cycling experience is being enriched by TWiCH.

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