Our favourite stories: the Jonny Long pieces that made my year

No one combines bike racing journalism, snark, memery, and Photoshopped goodness quite like Mr. Long.

Dane Cash
by Dane Cash 27.12.2023 More from Dane +

Welcome to our year-end Favourite Stories series. To pick the best of our over 1,000 stories published this year, we assigned each of our staff and core contributors to write about someone else. Today, Dane Cash tries to pick from roughly eleventy billion stories Jonny Long wrote this year.

If you’ve ever read about pro road racing at Escape Collective, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve had the unique pleasure of reading something by Jonny Long. Our London-based newshound extraordinaire is across all of the news of the peloton, all of the time, and on top of that, he’s the man behind the Spin Cycle newsletter, which turns that news into bite-sized morsels with a side of memery and a dollop of Photoshopped goodness.

For someone so prolific, it’s pretty hard to narrow down his output to just a handful of stories worth reading, but because it’s the holidays, I’ll try. Here are five of Jonny’s best pieces from 2023 that you should check out if you haven’t already …

A masterful meditation on conspiracies, suspicion, and hope

Jonny is in his element when he is exploring the weird fringes of the bike racing world. He did just that in the first month of Escape‘s existence, taking a look at how and why conspiratorial thinking permeates even into our niche corner of the sports world.

From motor doping in the pro peloton to a team winning more races when finishing near their supermarket sponsor, there is evidence for anything if you know where to look, but Jonny managed to bring a nuanced perspective to a subject that can border on the absurd.

Read “Where does a cycling conspiracy theory begin, and where does it end?” here.

A road trip at the Rás

Let’s go from fringe to feels. Jonny immersed himself in the more human side of bike racing this past spring when he attended Ireland’s premier road race, the Rás Tailteann, with our man Ronan Mc Laughlin, who was making his 10th career start in the event.

Covering the Rás from the inside allowed Jonny to show us a different kind of bike racing from the Grand Tours or the Classics, and the fact that he did it while handing out bottles to Ronan and his teammates made it all the more wonderful. Come for the craic, stay for the petrol station food!

Read “Craic or get cracked: A week of chaos, glory, and Guinness at the Rás Tailteann” here.

A fever dream of cycling’s ultimate team sponsorship

In addition to being a top-notch journalist and writer, Jonny is also Escape‘s premier memer, and he let that talent shine in a piece back in September when Tim Cook met with Jumbo-Visma just as the team was the in the middle of a high-profile sponsor search. I’m not sure I’ve seen a feature image to rival the black turtlenecks here.

More than just the memes, Jonny took a deep dive into all aspects of what an Apple-Visma team might look like, from kit to equipment to team leadership. As it turns out, Visma went in another direction for their new sponsor, but who’s to say that we won’t one day get to see Jonny’s dream turn into a reality?

Read “Imagining Apple-Visma” here.

Cultural ablutions in China

The Tour of Guangxi gave Jonny another chance to explore an entirely different side of the sport, and also an entirely different part of the world from where most big bike races take place. With that in mind, and in Escape-worthy fashion, Jonny decided to spend his time reveling in the unique experience of attending a WorldTour event in China rather than reporting on the minutiae of the racing from this or that stage.

Altogether, it makes for a great read and a unique perspective from a race that most of us, even those of us who cover bike racing for a living, have never seen in person.

Read “Revolutions in Guangxi: A week inside a China cycling adventure” here.

The cycling newsletter to end all newsletters

Let’s close it out with a particularly great edition of the Spin Cycle, Jonny’s newsletter that covers all things pro bike racing. Mr. Long’s writing chops, journalistic instincts, Photoshopping skills, and talent for bants (I think that is something that British people say?) are always on display in his twice-weekly writeups.

This one features all of those things, and it’s from the biggest bike race of them all, the Tour de France. It also features acrobatics, a reference to hot dog connoisseur Joey Chestnut, tequila, and more …

Read this edition of Spin Cycle: “There’s tequila in the Skratch” here.

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