The Rouleur Longreads Podcast: Learning to Fly from Rouleur 20.6

Daniel Stewart nearly made it as a pro cyclist. He recalls his time in cycling’s ratrace, its colourful characters, beauty and bleakness. The sport’s loss is writing’s gain


"I didn’t want a Stone Age ecosystem, a ready-meal career path. I wasn’t for UCAS statements, study placements, three-year degrees and guessing how to succeed.

I needed anarchy. A world with a clear winner: always the strongest, the smartest, finishing first. Throw away the protocols, policies, processes… no thanks to 9am and waiting for the clock to strike five.

I craved a wave of noise, colour and zeal. Klaxons, chaos and bup, bup, beeeep. Moments to unfurl on a team car bonnet, opportunities to be hurled like live grenades: forward and back until they explode.

I wanted to be riding, or lying down,
Lying down, or sitting up,
Sitting up, or eating up,
Anything else
Was wrong.

This awe-inspiring, time-consuming wave is cycling. I wanted to ride that wave, to achieve perfection.

I wanted to be a professional cyclist."

Not just any cyclist either, but the second coming of Sean Kelly. It didn't go quite as Daniel Stewart had hoped, however. For the longread taken from our latest issue, the Irishman reflects on his turbulent time in the ratrace.

The Rouleur Longreads Podcast brings you selected long form articles from the magazine, especially recorded for Rouleur. Don’t stop what you’re doing – do it while listening to the world’s best cycling writing.

The latest in this series is ‘Learning to Fly’ by Daniel Stewart, from Rouleur 20.6. Download the Rouleur app and use the code LEARNINGTOFLY to read the whole issue free of charge.

*This podcast contains some swearing and adult themes*

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