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Cycling Weekly is a British cycling magazine. It is published by IPC Media and is devoted to the sport and past-time of cycling. It was once affectionately referred to by British club cyclists as "The Comic".



Cycling Weekly was first published as Cycling on January 24, 1891. It briefly became Cycling and Moting in the 19th century when car-driving - "moting" - looked like replacing cycling. Falling sales during the editorship of H.H. (Harry) England, who took what was considered to be a traditional view of cycling and opposed the reintroduction of massed racing on the roads as proposed by the British League of Racing Cyclists, led to the appearance in the 1950s of a rival weekly called The Bicycle and of a monthly entitled first Coureur and then Sporting Cyclist. Both eventually merged with Cycling.

The title has changed hands on several occasions. It was first published by the Dangerfield Printing Company (1891-1894), then Temple Press (1895-1964), Go Magazine (1964-1967) and Longacre Press (1967-1970) before being published by its current owners, IPC Magazines (now IPC Media) from 1970.

The magazine's longest-lasting contribution to the sport was the creation on 4 April 1930 of the British Best All-Rounder (BBAR) competition for individual time triallists, establishing the rider the magazine considered the best against the clock by averaging competitors' speeds over 50 and 100 miles and 12 hours. It offered a trophy to the winner each year and a shield for the winning team.[1]

In 1932 Cycling also introduced the Golden Book of Cycling. Each page honoured a cycling hero. The first was Frank Southall, who had won that year's BBAR competition and signed his page before 7,000 cyclists attending the BBAR prize-giving at the Royal Albert Hall, London.[1] The book has fallen out of fashion in recent years.

Early campaigns

The magazine was aware from the start of the danger it perceived cyclists to be in from the growing number of cars. In 1912 it wrote:

The daily newspapers have awakened to the peril of the streets. During the past week the columns of London's most influential journals have proclaimed the motor peril. We have seen in leaded headlines the figures showing the sacrifice of life and limb upon the altar of the speed fetish - a grim toll, leaping upward year by year. Where will it end? And how does the cyclist read the portents of the modern traffic problem? The motor peril is no imagining of a prejudiced mind. I am ready to read the outpourings of wrath which will be brought down upon me by these remarks of reasonable protest. I know the writers who periodically rise superior to facts and figures and rage furiously when someone greatly daring protests that the roads are not for railway speeds nor for the exclusive use of a class, but for the convenience and pleasure of all-road users.

Cyclists are put to grave peril by the 40-miles-per-hour car that flashes past side turnings with a discordant hoot. Their lives and limbs are menaced by the motorcyclist who loves to pass at express speed so closely that a swerve of a few inches would mean serious accident. [2]

Cycling was also concerned about trams:

The evidence against the tramway lines is steadily increasing, and now scarcely a day passes without a report coming in of a cyclist being fatally or badly injured through an accident in which tramlines play an important part. In a great many cases it has been found that the danger originated by the tramlines has been accentuated by the heavy motor and steam vehicles, which have a roaming commission, so far as our streets are concerned.[3]

The magazine did not care for insistence that cyclists display a back light, which it felt moved responsibility for avoiding an accident from the overtaking driver to the cyclist being overtaken. But it had other puzzles to consider, following the prosecution of a cyclist who had hung a Chinese lantern from his machine. The magazine's columnist, Frederick Thomas Bidlake wrote:

There is not quite the same degree of certainty in interpretation of the validity of a Chinese lantern as an emergency cycle lamp. It has passed muster, as was indicated last week, on thousands of occasions. It is true that the cycle-lamp law does not stipulate that the light should be white, as is the case with motorcycle and motorcar lamp law, so the colouring of a Chinese lantern is not illegal... What is required is that 'the lamp shall be so constructed and placed as to exhibit a light in the direction in which a rider is proceeding.' Now, a Chinese lantern gives an all-round light. It gives a light in the direction in which the machine is proceeding but it gives exactly the same light in all other directions.

Bidlake concluded that Chinese lanterns were probably not legal and that anyone determined to hang a coloured lantern on his bike "would be utterly foolish to do so, except for decorative purposes at a cycle parade."[4]

Cycling campaigned against women's racing and refused to publish results and then, in the 1940s, stood out against the British League of Racing Cyclists in its campaign to reintroduce massed racing to open roads. It called the organisation's first race "A hopeless revolt." The wholesaler and patron of the sport, Ron Kitching, said:

Things changed when H. H. England came along and Cycling seemed to get more involved with politics. They belied their editorial in the very first edition in 1891 which had specifically stated that 'this magazine will criticise fairly but without acrimony - in a word, its motto is news without abuse.' England's vendetta against road-racing and, in my mind, against the north of England in general, was a terrible thing. It did the sport an enormous amount of damage. During his period, 1929 to 1959, Cycling added the title Bicycle, having got rid of the opposition.
Then there was George Pearson, editor from 1959 to 1963, who was really England's creature. He carried on the vendetta against the British League of Racing Cyclists and wouldn't even print the race results. Pearson was very bitter and wasn't popular for that reason. I think he even admitted it to himself. He just helped to perpetuate the problems as the press seems to enjoy doing one way or another.[5]

The modern magazine

Looking for more sales and advertisers in June 1957, Cycling introduced pages dedicated to mopeds and the magazine changed its name to Cycling & Mopeds. The editor, H. H. England, wrote:

The moped - fitted with pedals and an engine not exceeding 50cc - is here to stay. It is produced by cycle manufacturers and is being ridden by cyclists. It has claimed its place in the cycling world of today and therefore in the pages of Cycling... Indeed, the powered cyclist, finding interest as he will from every one of Cycling's pages, will be reintroduced to the great sport of cyce racing and follow it, if only as an enthusiastic spectator.[6]

The move accelerated the decline in sales until, under the insistence of a new editor, Alan Gayfer, mopeds were abandoned and the magazine widened its outlook to all forms of racing on the road, on the track, to cyclo-cross and to cycle-touring. Among those taken on by Gayfer and who have remained in cycling journalism are the television commentator Phil Liggett and the author Les Woodland. Alan Gayfer left Cycling in 1969 to work for the United Press news agency on the other side of Fleet Street, London, where Cycling then had its offices. There he could also report his other love: boxing. He died of a heart attack while cycling in Canada after retirement. Gayfer was succeeded by Ken Evans, whose interest in short-distance time-trialling led to a parallel competition to the British Best All-Rounder: the Campagnolo Trophy for races over 25 miles (40 km). It lasted only two seasons before it was considered not worth the effort and expense.[1] Evans resigned to work with the components wholesaler, Ron Kitching.

Kitching said of him:

Ken Evans was Alan [Gayfer]'s successor and he was quite a different character, more moody. He had served his time in Paris and he spoke a number of languages. Everybody thought he was the best editor the magazine had ever had. He certainly did well with it, but having said all that, his personality wasn't what you might expect from an editor.[7]

Evans was replaced by Martin Ayres. He in turn was followed by Andrew Sutcliffe, who had been editor of Cycle Trader.

Under Sutcliffe the magazine took on a stronger pictorial content and reporting of domestic cycling, especially where it didn't concern racing, was lessened in favour of coverage of continental racing. Sutcliffe left to help form a company called Cabal Communications, run by other former IPC staff. Cabal introduced a monthly magazine called Procycling as a rival to IPC's own monthly publication, Cycle Sport. Its first editor was William Fotheringham, who had also been on IPC's staff.

Sutcliffe's replacement was Robert Garbutt, who is the current editor. Significant members of staff have included Sid Saltmarsh - deputy editor under Alan Gayfer - who worked formerly for the News Chronicle and the BBC and who was reporting the Tour de France when the English rider Tom Simpson died during the race in 1967. Recent contributors have included Tony Bell, Michael Hutchinson and Dave Lloyd.

The longest-serving contributor was the cartoonist Johnny Helms. His cartoons where a regular fixture of the magazine since February 6, 1946 until his death in November 2009.


  1. ^ a b c Alpaca to Skinsuit, Bernard Thompson, Geerings of Ashford
  2. ^ Cycling, 4 July 1912, p7
  3. ^ Cycling, 4 July 1912, p20
  4. ^ Cycling, 11 July 1912, p27
  5. ^ Breckon, Mike (ed) (1993), A Wheel in Two Worlds, privately published, UK, p276
  6. ^ Cycling, UK, 6 June 1957, p435
  7. ^ cited Breckon, Michael (1993), A Wheel in two Worlds, the Ron Kitching Story, p227

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