Q&A with William Fotheringham

Will Fotheringham at the 2010 Cycle Show with John Herety

Do you know your derny from your bunny-hop? Your broom wagon from your chaingang? How many cyclists does it take to power a washing machine? Could you name Bradley Wiggins' favourite band?

New book Cyclopedia from noted writer William Fotheringham is a bicycle bible littered with miscellany of facts, figures, interesting snippets and quirky characters from the world of cycling. William Fotheringham joined us at the Cycle Show to sign copies of his book and we took the chance to have a chin wag with one of our favourite writers.

You have written two biographies: Tom Simpson and Fausto Coppi. Cyclopedia is quite a different style of book. Why?
It's very different being a reference work but I fancied the idea of doing something different plus it was a good chance to find out about areas of cycling I'd never really thought about. I had a lot of fun doing it and I think that comes out.

How long did it take to compile?
From about start to finish it was seven or eight months. But a lot of the material was already in my head from 20 years in journalism.

Who do you think Cyclopedia is for?
Pretty much anyone. My 13-year-old son who is new to cycling seemed to like it, but I think there's enough new material to make it a decent read even for cycling aficionados of many years standing.

Where do you think it will be kept, bookshelf, coffee table, bathroom?
It's a book to dip into, the idea is that you can open any page and be drawn in. Not coffee table then but bathroom, for those long visits...

What was your first bike?
A steel Raleigh but that was closely followed by a 40 year old curly Hetchins.

What book are you reading right now?
Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, decided to reread it after seeing the film Tamara Drewe which has a similar plot.

How did you get into journalism and specifically cycling journalism?
I started out at a mag called Bicycle Action and moved to Cycling, as it was then, in 1989, they sent me on the Tour de France in 1990 and I kept going from there.

You recently rode the Track Masters? Do you prefer it over road racing? What track event do you compete in or favour?
In pure performance terms and spectacle, and as a sport to participate in, I'd go for road, but for anyone who is juggling bike, work and family, track has advantages, mainly that it's easy to learn quickly, you can take the family along to watch as it's spectator friendly, your children can compete at the same time if it's track league, plus you can race all winter indoors, as keeping race fit becomes harder the older you get. The event that gets me going is the points, because it's totally brutal and usually the strongest guy wins.

Favourite entry in Cyclopedia?
Dogs I think, because of the Dog Pistol, and the totally freaky quote from Richard Ballantine. Also poetry because it was something I had never come across before.
Cyclopedia is in store now, the first 10 copies have been signed by William Fotheringham.

William Fotheringham is on Twitter and you can find him here.

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