RideLondon 2015-12

A couple of weekends ago was the now annual RideLondon cycling festival in London. There are several strands to it, including:

– FreeCycle – 10 miles of closed roads around central London for families in particular to pedal around
– The Brompton World Championships
– The RideLondon Grand Prix – Women’s professional circuit race
– RideLondon 100 – 100 miles of closed roads for a mass participation sportive
– London-Surrey Classic – Men’s professional road race over an elongated version of the sportive’s route

And there was other stuff beyond that – junior racing, exhibitions and so on.

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Foolishly, I signed up for two of the events, and this year got into both of them.

The RideLondon 100 is the big one, and this is its third running, and my third time of trying to take part. It’s a 100 mile sportive and this year I finally got in without having to go down the charity route (access is easier going via a charity, but you must commit to raising several hundred pounds for said charity, which may or may not be easy depending on your personal circumstances). This year was the first that I came up trumps in the ballot.

RideLondon 2015-9
I entered the Brompton World Championships on a bit of a whim with a friend. I didn’t expect to get in, since there are only 500 spaces, and people really do travel from around the world to take part. But I did manage to get in, and that had me worried – was it a good idea to do a circuit race the evening before a 100 mile sportive?

I would soon find out.

This weekend was also a bit of a mechanical challenge for me – partly of my own making. On Friday night I decided I should finally fit the rear mudguard for my Brompton that I bought a couple of months ago to replace a damaged one. Replacing a mudguard on a Brompton tends to mean removing the wheel, and because I rarely do that, and it’s more complicated than a regular bike with hub gears, I can have problems.

In the meantime, I had sort out my outfit. Brompton World Championships rules dictate that you should be smartly dressed with a collared shirt, tie and jacket. Shorts may be worn, but there should be absolutely no visible lycra!

I chose an old suit jacket, plain white shirt and a black tie that gave me the look of either someone going to a funeral, or a someone from Reservoir Dogs. I would instantly regret my choice of jacket, since the moment I ventured outside, I realised that it was a lot warmer than I’d thought it’d be. This could be a hot race.

The other problem I had outside was that I realised there was a problem with my gearing following my wheel removal. Fiddling as much as I could, I couldn’t sort it. The chain was slipping which wasn’t good. I headed slowly down to The Mall where Brompton had an enclosure. Once registered I looked to find a mechanic who could help me out. He quickly diagnosed my problem – I’d refitted the wheel wrongly. (Note to self: don’t do hurried unnecessary things to a bike the night before a big event).

He fixed it, but noticed that my hub’s cones were loose. He didn’t have the right tools, and a Brompton representative suggested that I slowly head over to the Brompton store to get them sorted. I crossed the streams of cyclists on the FreeCycle (many thousands, moving around very slowly), and headed downstairs to the workshop. The mechanic recognised me – I’ve been in a few times – and he very quickly sorted out my hub cones problem and fine tuned my gears.

Also downstairs were some Italians riders who were conversing in Italian with the mechanic. Looking at their bikes, I could see some serious speed modifications that they’d made – thin tyres (not my bombproof Marathon Schwalbe monsters), big chainrings, deep-rim wheels and so on. I saw a race number – A4 – which meant this was someone who’d be at the very front and had probably been invited. They were in this to win.

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Back in the Brompton area we began to ready ourselves. The start would be “Le Mans” style – that is you race to your bike which has to be folded. Lots of people were tactically arranging how to reach their bike quickly. Over the PA system I learnt that ex-pro David Millar was taking part in the race, but that since he’d only got his bike yesterday, he’d not learnt the unfolding technique properly. Some people seemingly practice their unfolding to get it down to 6 seconds. I’ve never “practiced” as such, although I’ve folded down fast as a train approached.

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We were lined up on The Mall. The course took us down to Buckingham Palace then a left turn around St James’ Park, along birdcage walk and then around until you’re back in The Mall again. A 1.7km circuit in total. There’d be eight laps, although if we were lapped – a highly likely prospect in my case – then we’d finish on the same lap the winners finished. I didn’t expect to race more than about five of the eight laps.

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I was in the “C” group. We had been grouped according to our expected times. I’d no idea how fast I’d be, but third out of four groups was fine by me. But being further back, we’d leave 20 seconds behind the leaders. The race started and the first group were away, then the second, and then us!

I actually managed to get unfolded and away faster than anyone near me, and I was soon flying. After that it all becomes a bit of a whirlwind. Getting into a group would have been the sensible thing, but I always find it hard to get into a group with strangers like that. I slipstreamed a little, and no doubt people were using me to slipstream too. Someone in drag overtook me; I passed someone in full barrister garb. On the corner near Buckingham Palace, the crowds were huge and they cheered us on.

After about three laps, I was little perturbed that the leaders hadn’t yet passed. Then they did – flying up on the right hand side along Birdcage Walk. I carried on, with lots of cheers in The Mall where there was also a good crowd. Then I suddenly found myself isolated – nobody close behind or in front. I kept going. My friend then appeared on my right – and I tried to get on his tale. But I lost him on a corner. He’d started behind me so had made good time catching me up. We headed on and on.

Another fast group overtook me, but I didn’t think it was the leaders. But I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t really counting the laps, although I was pleased to hear the bell and see one lap to go. I crossed the line with a last minute sprint.

When I looked back at my bike computer, it turned out that I had ridden 7 of the 8 laps. The leaders had only passed me once (although they were close to doing so again), and I’d ridden at an average speed of 31kph (19mph). I was happy with that. My lap times – we were chipped – showed me tailing off a little as the event unfolded. And later when the results were published, they showed me finishing 192nd out of 500 riders. I was pretty happy with that.

I certainly needed as much water as possible afterwards though. And did I mention the suit jacket was a bad idea?

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After we’d finished there was a professional women’s road race on the same circuit. The Brompton area afforded good views of the race, and I ignored the presentation ceremonies to watch the race which, despite a couple of escapes, was looking to being a bunch sprint until a nasty crash happened right on the finish line of the penultimate lap. As the remaining riders completed their final circuit, it looked like touch and go as to whether they’d be able to have a sprint finish. But the injured riders were cleared just about in time, and Velocio Sports’ Barbara Guarischi won a tight finish with Ale Chippolini and Wiggle Honda riders in contention.

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I headed off home before the junior races since I needed to get a pasta meal down me, and a good night’s sleep ahead of the next day’s RideLondon 100.

My start time wasn’t until 8:09am, but the organisation of the event meant that my “pen” actually opened at 6:51am. So I needed to be in Stratford for around then. Trains really don’t start early on a Sunday, so for me that meant a “warm up” cycling the 12.5 miles from home to the Olympic Park where everyone was starting. Fortunately, at 5:30am the roads were empty and the sun was up.

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The event this year had enlarged to 26,000 riders, and with that comes lots of organisation. Each rider has a colour and a letter which correspond to start times and a barriered-off area somewhere in the park. Riders are released in batches at regular intervals from 6:00am until 9:00am. So I was about two thirds of the through the released riders. Again, this was probably based on the time I said I’d do the ride in – as much a guess as anything.

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We slowly edged towards the start line in an organised manner. An MC was getting suggestions for start music for each batch. A wag in our group asked for “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” So it was Eric Idle we were hearing as we crossed the line and began.

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The phased release strategy means that the roads aren’t too crowded, and we were soon getting up a head of speed along the A12. Fairly soon we headed west and in no time at all had reached the Tower of London and a 10 mile sign shortly afterwards. If it was all going to be like this, this would be a piece of cake!

We sped through central London and I was surprised to see people at the first drinks stop. Surely they still had plenty of liquid at this stage? Then we headed westwards through Kensington and out towards Chiswick, crossing the Thames at Chiswick bridge.

The roads were wide and empty, and because it was early in the morning, there were few residents trying to cross the road – which is as well, since this can be quite hard when cyclists come speeding through, although there were plenty of marshals on hand to facilitate pedestrians crossing.

Then we turned down towards Richmond Park, where barriers ensured no deer would wander across our path. The modest hill in the park slowed people up a little, but it was still easy going.

Then it was on towards Kingston Upon Thames – the 25 mile mark. But it was at this point that you briefly see the return route, and even at this early hour I could see riders coming back into town. As I said, faster riders were released first, so they’d probably be looking at four hour finishes.

We headed along through Walton and towards Weybridge, and although I can’t put my finger on it, I began to really feel that something was wrong.

I thought that I must have overcooked it a bit. I couldn’t have recovered properly from my Brompton race the previous day, or got enough energy from food. This in spite of a large pasta meal the evening before followed up with an early porridge breakfast.

But it was undoubtedly true that I was now struggling. No longer was I overtaking others, but I was being overtaken by riders I’d passed some way back. We reached a downhill section, and I was even slow on that (In retrospect, that should have been a clue, but I didn’t pick up on it).

I struggled onwards, but was worried. If I felt like this so early in the ride, there was no way I’d complete the full 100 miles. I was just slogging along, my average speed slowing all the while.

Then I started to feel something. My back wheel wasn’t right. I looked down and it seemed like it was wobbling a little. I kept going.

Eventually I reached what I later discovered was West Byfleet. I was exhausted. I pulled in and looked more closely at the wheel. It was all over the place. And that meant that I was riding against my own brakes. No wonder I’d been struggling to reach 20kph. It was awful. Some police who were on crowd control duties came over and asked me what was wrong. I said I had a mechanical. The effort that I’d been going through meant I couldn’t really talk to them much to explain the problem in detail.

One of the policemen said that I was lucky. There was a bike shop just up the road – less than 100m away – and it was open. I thanked the policeman and wheeled my bike on, and could now see that the wheel was a mess. The wheel barely turned at all.

I asked a chap who was there if he could help. The wheel was properly buckled, and there was a broken spoke.

He said that he could probably fix it, but it’d take 40 minutes. Or he could sell me a new wheel. In fact he’d actually sold his last spare wheel, but he removed one from a display bike and I went for that option. More expensive, but I’d be on my way sooner.

He whipped my wheel out with a colleague and soon switched over my tube, tyre and Garmin sensor to the new wheel. I left some contact details, settled up, made use of his facilities (so much nicer than all the chemical toilets along the route), and was soon on the way. Thank you very much Pure Motion Cycles of West Byfleet!

I can’t emphasise enough how lucky it was that I broke down RIGHT outside a bike shop! At other points in the event, I saw cyclists wearily walking their bikes with more serious mechanicals in the middle of nowhere. While most drinks’ stations did have mechanics on hand, they were at 5 mile or more intervals. You could be facing a long walk. And in any case, it wasn’t clear that they’d be able to fix, or better yet, replace, my wheel there and then.

I was now, if not exactly flying, then racing along. My new wheel made a world of difference. Suddenly this was all very doable again. I was now particularly vigilant about potholes.

The first notable climb of the route was up to Newlands Corner. I’m not really familiar with the Surrey Hills, so I didn’t know where I was. Had I just climbed Leith Hill? No. At the top of the climb was the second of the big “hubs” – the biggest food and drink stops. But somehow this hub was running a bit low. It only had water and energy drinks. No gels or food (which there should have been). Although I was now a bit further back than I would have hoped, I thought it was a bit poor that the slower riders were so deprived. Years earlier I once ran the London Marathon and had a similar experience of reaching drinks stops that were out of water or energy food. So the weakest runners got the least.

Fortunately I’d brought enough food and energy gels to get myself around. I only really needed to top up with water or energy drink. I find that it’s worth varying your liquids. Although it’s good for you on a long ride, too much energy drink can leave a horrible taste in the mouth, and I ended up switching to water for most of the latter part of the event.

Then it was on to Leith Hill proper. It begins slowly with a gentle slog upwards until suddenly the road narrows and the gradient increases sharply. I was happily prepared to ride it, but it seemed that riders in front of me weren’t, and despite many shouts to “Walk on the left,” the road was completely blocked. I slowed to a crawl in my lowest gear trying to carry on pedaling, but it was no good. I had to stop. I just couldn’t cycle through the crowd. One chap in front of me came a cropper when he discovered that too late and tipped over sideways still clipped into his pedals, and taking someone else with him.

It did annoy me that people couldn’t or wouldn’t walk on one side of the road, and I suspect that this was a problem that only those released later would face. Faster riders would have ridden straight through.

Fortunately it was only a few tens of metres before I was able to clip in and continue the ascent. But arguably the most dangerous part of that particular climb is actually the descent. It’s in a deep tree-lined cutting and the road surface is poor. Fortunately we were spaced far enough apart to avoid any incident.

Sadly, I later learned that a rider had collapsed and died of a suspected heart attack on Leith Hill. In truth it’s not that hard a climb, so other things probably came into play.

The next hold-up, oddly enough was Dorking. I think it was a “sheer weight of riders” thing, but the High Street was packed and we couldn’t all get through without stopping and walking a bit. But then it was on our way to Box Hill.

This is another hill that, amazingly enough, I’d never climbed before. The surface of the climb is super-smooth, having been relaid ahead of the Olympics. The road has several long switchbacks, but the gradient is pretty constant at around 5%. While I wouldn’t say that I hammered up it, I was comfortable enough getting to the top, where the views were great.

I didn’t hang around for pictures (despite having a camera, I took very few), and after refilling water bottles, I headed onwards. With 30 miles to go, it was through Leatherhead and Oxshott before reaching Kingston again, and then heading out towards Wimbledon. I hadn’t previously realised quite the extent to which Wimbledon sits on a hill, but that was a nice final little kicker, before dropping down to Putney. Then it was across the river and the home stretch.

I flew along for these last miles, since I knew the roads a little better, and you could measure yourself as you passed building like Tate Britain. Soon it was up past the Houses of Parliament, up Whitehall, and then a sharp left through Admiralty Arch and onto The Mall. Everyone does their “sprint finish” and crosses the line.

My timing chip time said I was slow at 7:00:28. But I prefer to use my Garmin’s timing which removes stoppages for getting my bike fixed, and drinks and toilet stops. That says 6:14:42, and even that includes some slow “moving” through drinks stations. I’d have preferred to be closer to 5:30 to be honest, and my average speed was slow at 25kph when it should have been closer to 28kph.

But all things considered, given some of my technical issues, I’ll take that time, and look to go much better next year if I get in again. It would have helped had been able to ride with others, but in point of fact, I didn’t really manage to do that. There was a little of it right at the beginning, but once I’d got through my mechanical trials and tribulations, I was mostly riding solo.

Overall riders were mostly well behaved, and it was clear a good proportion of the club riders were put into the early pens since there were relatively few fast “chains” coming through. A few people didn’t read about sticking to the left if you’re slower, and while riding two abreast is fine, you should ideally not sprawl across both lanes or ride three abreast. The only real issue I had was on Leith Hill where a little more consideration could have been shown.

I didn’t notice too many casualties at the roadside, but there were a few, and they were not always pleasant looking. I never saw any of the causes of these incidents, but they did appear to be more towards the centre or right hand side of the road rather than the left.

Overall the operation is really well handled. The release strategy is good, and aside from the foodless-hub, the event is well catered for. Indeed the worst part of things was getting out of The Mall and into Green Park at the end of the ride, mostly because of the hoardes of tourists heading back and forward across the flow of cyclists around Buckingham Palace.

The crowds were great, especially towards the end. And I have to hand it to the charity groups who’d wildly cheer anyone in one of their branded jerseys but were generally enthusiastic towards everyone.

I considered waiting around for the conclusion of the men’s road race, but decided it would be several hours until they got here, and I’d prefer to head home. The ride across London to the station gave me an immediate reminder of how great closed roads are when you’re not having to battle other London traffic. And of course, it being a Sunday, there was a bus replacement service on my train line home, so I took a train to another station some ten miles away and got a further “warm down” cycling back home from there.

Then I settled down to watch the last 60km of the men’s race which was now on the roads I had ridden a few hours earlier. Kudos to whoever decided to put David Millar on a motorbike in the middle of the race. I remember Channel 4 using Allan Peiper to do something similar in cycling races years back, and I think it’s been done a little on the continent. But Millar is an excellent analyst, and putting him in the middle of things really added to what we could understand about the way the race was progressing. BMC’s Jean-Pierre Drucker beat three others to the win, including Sky’s Ben Swift.

Overall a fun, but undoubtedly exhausting weekend. I’ve already entered the ballot for next year.

RideLondon 2015-26

RAJAR Q2 2015

RAJAR Q4 2013

This post is brought to you in association with RALF from DP Software and Services. I’ve used RALF for the past 8 years, and it’s my favourite RAJAR analysis tool. So I’m delighted to be able to bring you this analysis. For more details on RALF, contact Deryck Pritchard via this link or phone 07545 425677.

The first thing to say is that this has been a good quarter for radio as a whole. Overall reach is back to 90%, and listening hours have increased too, with the average radio listener listening for 21.7 hours a week – the highest in a couple of years.

Commercial radio is likely to be pleased too, since it has gained back a little from the BBC, with 44.4% of listening being commercial (up from 42.8% last quarter), compared with 53.0% to the BBC (down from 54.4% last quarter). Commercial has gained too, compared with this time last year.

And because it’s always keenly watched, the number of people who listen via a digital platform at least some point during the week has grown to over 60% of the population for the first time (61.1% up from 59.8% last quarter). The amount of listening via those platforms has also grown – up to 39.9% of all listening.

Let’s look in a bit more detail at the performances of some of the key players.

National Stations

Radio 1 has notably bounced back since last quarter’s results. Indeed those previous numbers do now look a little of an aberration, and are a reminder that nobody should ever judge a station’s figures on the basis of a single RAJAR period. The station’s reach has increased by 7.6% and is back over 10 million, while hours have increased by 3.3% on the previous quarter. It’s true that they’re still down on the previous year, but I think they’d take these numbers.

Radio 2 has also improved from last quarter a fraction – but you would probably argue it’s results are flat. Still not bad for the biggest station in the UK/Europe/World/Universe (Delete as applicable).

Radio 3 has dropped below 2m again, although it’ll undoubtedly return next quarter (Proms), but its listening hours are up nearly 5% (and enormously on the previous year).

Here’s an interesting question: who do you think has the higher average age? Radio 3 or Radio 4?

In fact, the average age of a Radio 3 listener is 57, and that of a Radio 4 listener is 56. The variability of those averages is probably quite different however.

Radio 4 fell marginally this quarter, although it’s up on the previous year and still reaches 10.6m people a week.

Five Live is still clearly finding its feet following all its schedule changes, and is back down this quarter – 7.6% down in reach, but only 2.4% down in hours. That does leave it well down on the previous year however. And there’s not really a big summer of sport to help get things straightened out, so it’ll be worth watching.

Classic FM will be disappointed with its results. It’s reach and hours are both down on the quarter and the year, with reach in particular at an all time low under the current RAJAR methodology (so since 1999). It still reaches nearly 5.3m people, but it’s something to keep an eye on. There can be a bitter war of words between it and Radio 3, when they think the latter is dumbing down to appeal to Classic FM’s audience. But Classic FM’s audience is 2.5x Radio 3’s, and as we’ve established, Radio 3’s audience fell this quarter too.

Talksport will also be disappointed by this set of results, which include the end of the football season. Both reach and hours are down on the previous quarter, and over 10% down on the previous year. It’s reach still hovers above 3m, while hours are above 20m. It’ll be hoping that the forthcoming sister services which are due to launch next year on D2 will help grow a “Talk” network.

Meanwhile the main Absolute Radio station has seen its reach stay flat while hours have grown – quite substantially on the year. With the station due to take over the West Midlands FM licence currently used to broadcast Planet Rock, it should mean some further growth in the coming quarters (although such format switches always take time to bed in locally).

National Digital Stations

Overall Bauer has had a very good quarter with several of its brands achieving record audiences.

The Absolute Radio Network now reaches a record high of 4.04m people a week with just less than 32m hours. And that’s without including Planet Rock’s figures with which it is bundled when sold. That comes off the back of yet more growth on Absolute 80s which jumped another 10.7% in reach on the previous quarter, and much more on the previous year. At 1.6m reach, it’s getting ever closer to the 2.0m that the main brand gets. (I remain uncertain as to the plan to move Absolute 80s off D1 and onto D2 at launch, since the lower reach of the new multiplex must surely effect these numbers negatively. We’ll have to wait and see).

The Kiss Network has also achieved some great growth with over 5m reach and 30.5m hours – both records. These are helped especially by some very significant improvements in Kisstory which has seen nearly a 30% increase in reach and a more than 40m increase in hours. And Kisstory has yet to launch properly nationally on DAB, currently only appearing on a series on local DAB multiplexes.

The nascent Magic Network also did well. It too has a sister station due with D2.

Global Radio has perhaps more of a mixed bag this quarter.

The Capital Brand has increased in reach and hours this quarter – a modest 1.9% in reach, but a more chunky 9.7% in hours. But both are down on the previous year.

Heart is more disappointing. Overall it’s down 1.4% in reach and 6.8% in hours, with both measures down on the year too. It’s also not clear when the previously announced Heart Extra is likely to launch which might help prop up the brand a little. It was announced in December last year, but the presumed spot on the D1 multiplex was retained by Premier Christian Radio after negotiations with multiplex operator (Premier has signed up until 2028 according to reports).

Smooth has also shown some disappointing results this quarter, down in reach and hours, although not as bad on the year. While Xfm is flat in reach, but down further in hours – another 7% down on the quarter and 12% down on the year. The radio industry is currently awash with rumours that Chris Moyles is going to Xfm, which may even get a full rebrand and relaunch. We’ll have to see.

LBC has had some very strong results, with its reach up strongly on both the quarter and the year. The station is now showing some real growth since it went national towards the start of last year. We could be in for some interesting battles between LBC and Talkradio once it launches.

It feels like every quarter that I report that 6 Music has had a record reach. Well it hasn’t this quarter – it’s actually down by a paltry 9,000 listeners. But it’s had record hours. With its listeners spending 9.1 hours a week, this is not an “additional” station, this is very much a main station for those 2m people.

1Xtra has had a strong quarter, up a lot in reach (14.2%) and an enormous amount in listening hours (47%). This probably reflects a bit of freak set of results last quarter as much as anything though.

Radio 4 Extra had extraordinarily high results last quarter, so perhaps unsurprisingly it has fallen – back below 2m listeners. It is still well up on the previous year though (+25% in reach and +37% in hours), so I’d say that it’s still a confidently growing station.

And it’s been a very strong result for 5 Live Sports Extra – even in a period before The Ashes began (although there was other cricket). Reach is up 21% and hours are up nearly 50%! Even though this represents a record high reach, I would expect both figures to increase further with the current Ashes campaign driving them.

Finally, since it’s very close to home for me now, I should report that listening to the BBC World Service is up very a very solid 14% in reach on the quarter and a similar amount on the year. Hours are a more modest 3% up.

London Stations

While I’m sure some readers think that London radio gets too much attention paid to it, I always think as much as anything it’s worth paying to attention to because it’s proved a good indicator of where radio is heading in the UK as a whole. It’s obviously of key importance to agencies buying advertising on commercial stations as well.

The figures this quarter show that all radio listening is at 89% (up from 86%) which compares well with 90% overall. What that means is that although Spotify, Apple Music and everyone else is fighting it out for supremacy, it’s not had a massive impact on radio… at least not yet. Indeed radio listening in London is up 9.4% on the previous quarter too, with radio listeners in London spending an average of 20.5 hours listening to the radio every week. So perhaps last quarter’s numbers were a one-off?

Interestingly, most of that growth this quarter has come from commercial radio with the BBC broadly flat in reach, and up 2.8% in hours. It’s also worth pointing out that in London, unlike nationally, commercial radio is more listened to than the BBC, with 51.0% of listening compared with the BBC’s 45.6%.

That all said, Radio 4 remains the most listened to station in the capital, but you’re really interested in the battle between the commercial stations aren’t you?

I think the big London news is that Global has had a great quarter. Capital has scored its highest reach in quite a while, jumping 22.7%. And it’s hours are also up 20.7%. That gives Capital the number one commercial spot in London, as it just beats Kiss. The 80,000 difference between the two is about the number of people who get to go to Capital’s Summertime Ball! Its sister brand Capital Xtra has also done well – up to such a great extent, that we know that last quarter’s data probably shouldn’t even be looked at.

Heart too seems to be back from a recent slump, jumping nearly 30% in reach to close to 2m. Hours growth is more modest, but it’s back over 10m.

Meanwhile it turns out that Xfm isn’t dead in London, and Smooth too is turning it around.

LBC is again a strong performer, and its listening hours shouldn’t be underestimated – it’s number two in London under that measure.

But number one in hours is Bauer’s Kiss which has also had a very strong reach performance jumping to 2.12m – its highest ever. It’s hours were up 26% on the quarter and reach up 12.6%. With Magic putting in some solid growth in reach and hours, only Absolute Radio’s London performance will have disappointed them a little (down in reach and hours on the quarter although up on the year).


I’m not going to dwell long on this and just consider Radio 1 and Radio 2, since both presenters have some interesting new TV jobs coming up and it’ll be worth seeing whether it makes any difference to their ratings over the coming months.

Nick Grimshaw takes on co-presenting duties of The X-Factor later this month, and this quarter has seen his reach increase by 6.2% to 5.8m. While Chris Moyles has previously had in excess of 7m listeners for the Radio 1 breakfast show, we’ve not seen numbers like that since the start of 2012. The other thing to watch here would be any kind of “Moyles effect” should he show up on Xfm, and should Xfm be given a significant marketing budget and be made available nationally on DAB. Lots of ifs there. And it’s been a while since Moyles was on the radio, so where are those listeners now? Nothing is certain.

Meanwhile Chris Evans on Radio 2 has also had a decent set of results with increase in reach and hours. While neither are quite records, you’d have to go back to the start of 2012 to find the last time listeners spent so much time with Radio 2’s breakfast show. Evans of course, is taking over Top Gear from next year. And there’s also another run of TFI Friday planned. Can he keep all this up and his Radio 2 show? We’ll have to see.

No bubbles this quarter I’m afraid. Hopefully they’ll be back next time.

But instead, I thought I’d show you some audience overlap figures between some station pairings. Broadly speaking radio listeners hear fewer stations than TV viewers watch stations. But there are overlaps between services, and it’s always worth having a look to see who listens to otherwise similar stations – and who doesn’t.

Radio 1 v Capital Network


So just to explain this chart, it means that 2.4m people listen to both Radio 1 and Capital, while 7.6m Radio 1 listeners never listen to Capital, and 4.7m Capital listeners never listen to Radio 1 (At least across a single week).

Radio 2 v Heart (Network)


Radio 3 v Classic FM


Five Live v Talksport


Radio 1 v Radio 3

Well – there was a Radio 1 Prom this year!


NB. These charts are not necessarily quite to scale – I “hand” drew them in Photoshop.

Further Reading

For more RAJAR analysis, I’d recommend the following sites:

The official RAJAR site and their infographic probably here
Radio Today for a digest of all the main news
Go to Media.Info for lots of numbers and charts
Paul Easton for analysis including London
Matt Deegan usually has some analysis
Media Guardian for more news and coverage
The BBC Mediacentre for BBC Radio stats and findings
Sadly the One Golden Square blog seems to have died, but you could try Bauer Media’s site.
And it’s entirely likely you’ll find Global Radio here.

Source: RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB, period ending 28 June 2015, Adults 15+. One other thing to note is that RAJAR updates its population estimates in Q2 each year, so we’ve seen the UK adult population grow slightly this quarter, although only by 1.3% nationally.

Disclaimer: These are my views alone and do not represent those of anyone else, including my employer. Any errors (I hope there aren’t any!) are mine alone. Drop me a note if you want clarifications on anything. Access to the RAJAR data is via RALF from DP Software as mentioned at the top of this post.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2015


If Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is for the tough guys of the peleton, then Kuurne Brussels Kuurne is a sprinters’ race. The two come together over the last weekend of February or the first weekend of March, although they seem to have different promoters. That also possibly explains why no broadcaster took the more exciting Het Nieuwsblad while Eurosport covers KBK.

When I was looking at maps trying to determine where would be an interesting place to watch the race, my eyes first drifted to the various hills on the parcours. But they’re not massive, and the race is always expected to be a sprint. The peleton will let a breakaway form, gain a few minutes, and then get pulled back.

At first I was going to head down to Ronse. The only problem was that I’d need to get a train back to Brussels to make Eurostar within 15 minutes of the peleton passing through. And while the timings that the race promoters publish are usually pretty accurate, I really couldn’t be doing with missing the race altogether because I had a train to catch. So instead I headed to the eastern most part of the course – the “Brussels” bit if you will. The first thing to note is that like many classic races, the name is a little misleading. The point at which the race turned was a good 30km from Brussels.

I relied on the ever efficient Belgian railways to get me close by. I had a solid five minutes to make it from platform 1 to platform 9 at Denderleeuw. Perhaps the trains officially connect? I don’t know. I ignored the loud music the station seemed to be playing and headed quickly to waiting train. I was only going a couple of stops anyway, to a nondescript town called Ninove. All I could really tell you about the place is that most car manufacturers seem to have a dealership there.

I slowly pedalled my Brompton, this time with the full weight of four days’ worth of clothes and my assorted camera gear, the few kilometres to the edge of town where the course map suggested I’d be able to see the race.

When I said a bit earlier that the race turned at Ninove, it literally did. This was simply a road junction with an acute right-hand turn for the race.

I got there about thirty minutes before the race was due, and frankly, were it not for the tiny sign indicating the race came through, I’d have been convinced I’d made a mistake. But then a police van pulled up, and a few spectators and Sunday cyclists arrived.




As predicted, there was a breakaway with eight riders being allowed to have some time in the limelight (That said, I Belgian TV was only just coming on air around now, and I didn’t see a helicopter camera or camera bike when the race passed).







Around three minutes later the peleton came through. I’d taken the precaution of standing on the grass verge rather than the pavement, because so tight was the turn, various riders bunny-hopped onto the pavement to get around the corner.

But they weren’t pushing hard. They had a tailwind at this point, and were content with the break.

And then they were gone.

By the time I’d packed away my camera, the police had reopened the road, and all the spectators had disappeared.

My plan now was to cycle back to Denderleeuw and get the train to Brussels from there. I did consider riding all the way to Brussels, but crosswinds and a heavy load mititgated against it. Besides, the ride to Brussels was largely on the road, whereas the ride to Denderleeuw was along a river.

And so I spent a very pleasant 45 minutes or so cycling along a paved cycleway by the side of the river – pan flat and mostly protected from any wind.

In Denderleeuw I was hit with music once again. On heading into town I first found a fairground, before my route was blocked by what looked to me like a full blown carnival. The streets were alive with bizarre floats, marchers, dancers, and some of the loudest sound systems I’ve come across.

The kids had all come along with empty bags. That’s because every float was scattering sweets as it passed by and the kids ran to gather them up. In return, they were largely in fancy dress and there was a liberal amount of confetti being thrown by both the kids and those manning the floats.

I couldn’t help noticing there were a lot of blokes in drag on the floats – although a couple of guys smoking fags on a Disney princess themed float perhaps spoiled the illusion.

The parents standing with their kids at the roadside all seemed to having a good time – not least because they were swigging back the popular local lager, Juliper, from cans.

I navigated my way around the whole procedings, got into the station and caught an express back to Brussels. I figured that if I could find a bar, I should still be able to watch the closing stages of the race.

Unfortunately in Brussels Midi, the only place showing sport seemed to prefer speed skating. I hunted around outside and found a Turkish restaurant that was showing the last 30km (although playing an eighties radio station).

And so it was, I ate a kebab, and watched Mark Cavendish take advantage of a messy finish. Tom Boonen tried an attack but it was captured with just less than a kilometre to go. But the sprint trains which had been together for the last twenty kilometres or more, were now completely fractured, and Cav beat the in-form Alexander Kristoff to win the race with Sky’s Elia Viviani coming in third.

After the complete pig’s ear that Etixx Quickstep had made of yesterday’s stage, when a three of their riders had the odds massively stacked in their favour against a single Sky rider in Ian Stannard, the pressure on Cav from his team and an expectant Belgian public must have been immense.

All told a great weekend to go and watch some Belgian classic cycling as a Brit!