Cycling writers and riders dominate final day

Cycling is at the heart of the London Sports Writing Festival later this month with almost half of the programme devoted to talks, discussions and panels covering aspects of cycling from, inevitably, the sport’s problem with drugs to the role and life of a team domestique.

The London Sports Writing Festival runs from October 17 to 20 at Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood, London.

After an intial couple of days devoted to cricket and football, the programme turns its attention to cycling in a discussion of cheating in sport between three authors who have followed the problem closely, Mike Rowbottom, author of Foul Play, talks to Richard Moore (The Dirtiest Race in History) and Jeremy Whittle (Bad Blood: The Secret Life of the Tour de France).

Things get rather cheerier on Sunday with Tim Lewis talking some of the real-life characters in his book Land of Second Chances: The Impossible Rise of Rwanda’s Cycling Team. Lewis’s book tells the stories of Adrien Niyonshuti, who was seven years old when he lost his family in Rwandan and went on to ride for Rwanda at the London Olympics; Jock Boyer, the first American to ride the Tour de France, coach of Team Rwanda and a man seeking redemption after his 2002 conviction for lewd behaviour with a minor; and Tom Ritchey, builder of many of the earliest mountain bike frames and the U.S. money man looking to recover from a profound personal crisis.

Most of the rest of Sunday is devoted to cycling, with a finale featuring Team Sky and British Cycling coach Rod Ellingworth with Garmin-Sharp pro David Millar. Hosted by Ellingworth’s co-write William Fotheringham, the three will discuss Project Rainbow, the book about Ellingworth’s four-year plan to get Mark Cavendish into the rainbow jersey of cycling world champion.

London Sports Writing Festival programme

Here’s the full schedule, in case you’re misguided enough to be interested in sports other than cycling.

October 17, 2013 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award: What Makes Great Sports Writing?

October 17, 2013 @ 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
The Lions Victorious: Sam Warburton and Matt Dawson in conversation with Dan Jones

October 17, 2013 @ 9:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Late Night at Lord’s: The Nightwatchman Presents

October 18, 2013 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Played In London: Charting the Heritage of a City at Play with Simon Inglis

October 18, 2013 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
The Authors XI: A Season of English Cricket from Hackney to Hambledon with Tom Holland and fellow cricketers

October 18, 2013 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
REFEREE! Mark Halsey and Ian Ridley in conversation with Mike Calvin

October 18, 2013 @ 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
The Beautiful Game: Anthony Clavane in conversation with Ledley King, Clarke Carlisle and Kelly Smith

October 18, 2013 @ 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
The Men Who Made Arsenal. Tom Watt in conversation with Patrick Barclay, Amy Lawrence and Philippe Auclair

October 18, 2013 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Fear and Loathing in La Liga with Sid Lowe and Graham Hunter

October 18, 2013 @ 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
The Gaffer with Neil Warnock and Mike Carson

October 18, 2013 @ 9:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Late Night at Lord’s. Messi with Guillem Balague

October 19, 2013 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
150 Years of Wisden with Lawrence Booth, Simon Wilde and John Stern

October 19, 2013 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Writing Talk: Lord’s Sport Quiz with Brian Reade and guests

October 19, 2013 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Making it to the Top with Katherine Grainger

October 19, 2013 @ 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Cheating in Sport with Mike Rowbottom, Richard Moore and Jeremy Whittle

October 19, 2013 @ 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Benn v Eubank: Ben Dirs, Donald McRae and Kevin Mitchell in conversation with Mike Costello

October 19, 2013 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Football is Wrong with Chris Anderson and David Sally

October 19, 2013 @ 9:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Late Night at Lord’s with The Blizzard

October 20, 2013 @ 12:15 pm – 1:15 pm
The Land of Second Chances – The Impossible Rise of Rwanda’s Cycling Team with Tim Lewis

October 20, 2013 @ 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Andy Murray: The Real Story with Mark Hodgkinson

October 20, 2013 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
On the Road Bike with Ned Boulting and Richard Moore

October 20, 2013 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Domestique: Life in the Peloton with Charly Wegelius, Rob Hayles and Jeremy Whittle.

October 20, 2013 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
The Cycling Anthology Presents: An evening with Daniel Friebe, Lionel Birnie and Ellis Bacon

October 20, 2013 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Project Rainbow: Britain’s domination of world cycling – a panel discussion with Rod Ellingworth, David Millar,William Fotheringham and Daniel Friebe.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.