It is probably fair to say that we self-powered, two-wheeled folk aren’t terribly well catered for when it comes to streaming services. Occasionally you’ll see a documentary pop up about a certain racing cyclist from yesteryear, or industrial-scale doping scandals, but you very rarely see anything…positive.
It could be why people are drawn to crowdfunded or independently produced documentaries on Vimeo, or Youtube channels such as GCN. After all, Vimeo is where you’ll find Inspired to Ride, Murder of Couriers and a host of others.
However, those same folks at GCN have produced their own streaming service, GCN+, and it is nothing like I thought it would be.
I’ve spoken before about my love of Boneshaker Magazine. A magazine about the human stories that are wholly enabled by bicycles. The bicycle is a supporting character, but its name, its componentry or frame material is irrelevant. Stories about people travelling across the world, meeting new people and learning about themselves along the way.
During the early days of this site, I was very much a regular viewer of GCN’s Youtube channel, but the type of riding I was doing was rather different from what you’d see on the screen. My friends were doing Audax, they were spending 10-12 hours or more on the bike, sleeping in bus shelters and holding bits of their bike together with cable ties when things went wrong. It was a long way from the power meters, carbon frames and this weird obsession with sock height and shaved legs that seems to be part of “road cycling”. It may have been why I initially dismissed GCN+.
This turned out to be a mistake. It is absolutely crammed full of Boneshakery (is that a word?) goodness. So far I’ve watched Jenny Graham ride around the world; Mark Beaumont ride around the world; Jenny Graham ride from Scotland to Bath (there’s quite a lot of Jenny Graham on there, which is great). I’ve also watched Jack Thurston’s “Slow Cycling” series, where he takes a number of speedy cyclists (including Jenny Graham) around the lost lanes of Wales and England on steel touring bikes with panniers and regular clothes, eating food bought along the way and cooked in the field. The Wye Valley with Simon Richardson; and the Usk with mountain biker Blake Samson were a particular highlight.
Another highlight has been The Pioneers, which explores the world’s oldest off-road cycle club, the Rough Stuff Fellowship.
There’s also a great documentary called SendIt, all about the Cardiff alleycat scene. Think “Murder of Couriers”, but with riders from Cardiff and Liverpool.
Yes, there’s also the racing side, so you do get coverage of bike races, but I’ve yet to delve into that just yet. The Tour is upon us as I type this so I may check in to see how G is doing, but I’m quite well catered for with documentaries for the time being.
There’s a lot of very interesting things to watch and it’s currently £39.99 for the year, which is pretty good value. It’s a little more if you subscribe monthly, but that’s often the case with subscriptions these days. It’s still cheap in a world where Netflix seems to put its prices up every few hours.
There’s iOS and Android apps, as well as apps for various streaming boxes and TVs. You can also watch it in your browser. If I had to nitpick, I’d say it could make the search function a little easier to find, but that’s about it.
If you like Audax, bikepacking, mountain biking, steel frames and exploring the world, GCN+ is really rather good.
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