Join us as we return to our favourite episodes from the 2018 season, one for each of the twelve days of Christmas.

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I can’t pick one episode of this six-part (soon to be seven-part) series over another because I feel the season works as a whole as much as individual episodes. I must confess (to borrow Ciro’s favourite phrase) I was not sure when Richard suggested at the start of the year that we make a series about bikepacking and endurance riding. That wasn’t because I thought it was a bad idea, I just thought others would be better placed to do it. I was even less sure when he suggested that I take the reigns.

But working with Hannah Troop and Tom Whalley and delving into a world I previously knew almost nothing about has been brilliant. We started with a long list of ideas and spent six months working through them. The way the six parts came together with all the pieces of the jigsaw fitting together so well felt very rewarding.

Right from the start, Hannah and I were determined to tell a variety of stories. It would have been very easy for the whole series to be about epic rides into strong headwinds, camping on the roadside and the sheer mind-boggling difficulty of it all. But Hannah’s interviews in episode one set the tone. She spoke to two riders who’d had a very different experiences of the same event – James Hayden, winner of the Transcontinental Race two years running, and Richard Abraham, who was forced to scratch from the TCR.

As the series went on, we tried to put contrasting stories together in the same episode to demonstrate that endurance cycling can mean different things to different people. We interviewed Mike Broadwith, who broke the 17-year-old Land’s End to John O’Groats record, and Mark Beaumont and Jenny Graham, who hold the records for riding round the world. In episode two, Oli Broom talked about taking 412 days to ride to Australia and Rupert Guinness spoke about the personal reasons for wanting to complete the Indian Pacific Wheel Race after his first attempt was cancelled following Mike Hall’s death.

And, in order to prove that even the softest cyclist can have a go at bikepacking, I devised the Cambridge-Southwold-Cambridge Classic and enjoyed a long weekend’s cycling with TV’s Ned Boulting and Simon Gill (aka Simon the Photographer). I also made them carry my luggage, which seemed very sensible at the time.

by Lionel Birnie

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