“Are you ready for a 2,121 mile trip around France? Visit the Alps, Pyrenees, the sunny south, and finish with a day or two in Paris?”
“Great, we have to get around the whole place in 21 days though..”
“Not much time for sight seeing then?”
“No, and…erm…we have to go by bike.”
If that sounds like it might be a little hard, then fear not. Twenty three teams are going to do it for you, and you can watch their efforts from the comfort of your chair as the 108th edition of the Tour De France gets underway this weekend. It’s a mammoth undertaking. Over 2,800 road signs will be used to direct the riders around France, and 40,000 hotel nights will be used by the entourage over the 21 day race. It truly is the world’s largest sporting event.
Thankfully the riders don’t have to carry a copy of Proper Cycling Issue 2 with them on their travels. Although they’d enjoy the read, they wouldn’t enjoy the weight. This edition is HUGE. Over 200 beautiful pages, the Spring 2021 issue takes us on a journey just as epic but with considerably less effort required.
Interestingly this issue, given its release date, doesn’t devote too many pages to Le Tour, and this is a good thing - the tour will be hard to miss over the next few weeks if you are a cycling fan, and Proper Cycling tells the stories we don’t normally get to hear about. In this issue we find out what its like to ride for a Los Angeles based cycling team (L39ion), just quite how far Danny MacAskill pushes his trick riding (spoiler: its very, very far), and we get to revisit arguably the most beautiful bike race in the world, Italy’s Strada Bianche.
Proper Cycling is one of the new breed of cycling magazines (like Conquista) that embrace all forms of cycling. So whether your interest is in road racing, mountain bike tricks, off road epics or cyclecross you’ll find something here. What unites the stories, and what attracts people to cycling in the first pace, is a sense of adventure. A bicycle is a tool to discover what’s around the corner or over the horizon and Proper Cycling never forgets this basic truth. It never forgets its Scottish roots either, and the final story is a stunningly photographed trip around Glencoe and Glen Etive in the Highlands. Issue 2 also sees the launch of a new section called “Proper Stuff”. Described as a “magazine within a magazine” it showcases the kit that is an inescapable part of the hobby. It’s a great place for some armchair shopping, although very rarely does it stop there.
The standout feature of issue 2 of Proper Cycling for me though, is the focus on women enjoying cycling, and their achievements in the sport. We’ll only see one day of women’s racing during Le Tour, compared to 21 days for the men which is frankly pathetic. Given women’s participation in cycling and the often more varied, exciting and unpredictable nature of women’s racing, it’s good to see Proper Cycling devoting more than half its pages to women on bikes. From interviews with top road racer, Anna van der Breggen and global health campaigner Michelle Vogel-Adams, to writer Naomi Fereireich’s epic MTB ride, there’s loads to celebrate here.
I’ll be watching Le Tour unfold over the next three weeks, but I’ll be doing it with a copy of Proper Cycling on my lap and I think I know which will win the competition for my attention.
David Parker is a co-owner of Iceberg Press, which publishes The Simple Things and Oh magazine. He reviewed issue 2 of Proper Cycling, founded by Paul Brett. You can check out issue 1 here.
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