I’m Rob Ainsley, a cycling writer based in York, England.
I also compose music inspired by my rides.
Here are a few examples.
I write regularly for Cycling Plus magazine, and research many of their published routes. I also write for Cycling UK’s magazine and website, and occasionally for BBC Music magazine.
I contribute regularly to Dorling Kindersley travel and cycle-touring guide books. Recent examples include Unforgettable Journeys Europe (2023); Go here instead (2022); and Ride (2021: see Facebook, Twitter or Instagram). Unforgettable Journeys Americas will be published in 2023.
I’ve also written, and sometimes co-written, edited or contributed to, over two dozen books. These include the Bluffer’s Guides to maths, university, Japan, the internet, computers, and cycling (Oval/Bluffers Guides/Haynes, 1988-2018); 50 Quirky Bike Rides (Eye, 2006); Great Cycle Journeys of the World (New Holland, 2010); The Sideways Guide to Composers (Future, 1993); Inside the Orchestra (Future, 1994); That British Style (Kodansha, 2000); and a few computer manuals.
I compose for solo classical guitar and occasionally for other forces. Here are some recent examples, all inspired by bike rides. Follow the links for photos and background of the rides themselves, and often PDF scores and more.
I was pleased to feature on the May 2022 episode of the Classical Guitar Composers Podcast, with my three pieces Mam Tor, Hen Cloud and Coldstones Cut. Host Chris Hales introduces them from 21:50, and the music starts at 25:10.
My music (Zebra Hill, see below) also features in Cycling Europe’s videos of touring France, released in Dec 2022.
Guitar works 2021–2023
Mam Tor Etude for guitar (MP3, 3min). MTB rides on collapsed roads over the ‘shivering mountain’.
Hen Cloud Lyric piece for guitar (MP3, 4min). Slow summer evening ride in the Staffordshire Peaks.
Hornsea Mere Reflections for guitar (MP3, 6min 30sec). Yorkshire’s largest lake.
Coldstones Cut Workings for guitar (MP3, 5min). ‘Yorkshire’s Machu Picchu’.
Zebra Hill Patterns for guitar (MP3, 6min 20sec). The hill at the end of my Yorkshire A to Z.
North Cave Observations for guitar (MP3, 6min 13sec). Wetlands reserve, East Yorkshire.
Stary Gdańsk Imaginary old Polish song for guitar (MP3, 3min 20sec). From my Polish End to End, which finished near Gdańsk.
Lake Semerwater Flow for guitar (MP3, 5min 27sec). Beautiful lake in Wensleydale.
Pearson Park Rhymes for guitar (MP3, 7min 20 sec). After cycling the Larkin Trail in Hull.
Amsterdam Centraal Toccata for guitar (MP3, 6min 45 sec). Hectic cycle lanes outside the main station, and Vondelpark’s calm.
White Horses Figures for guitar (MP3, 11min 49sec). Three movements that visit a horse: I Climbing; II At the top; III Descending.
Goathland Moor Moods for guitar (MP3, 22min 21sec). Four movements recalling the wild moortops.
Collies Duet for guitar and flute (MP3, 5min 39sec). Portrait of collies (the guitar) at work under the whistled guidance of a Dales shepherd (the flute).
Postcard from Ardnamurchan Miniature for piano (1min 21sec). Short sketch evoking the Scottish extremity.
Till Sketch for chamber orchestra (4min 16 sec). Music of mists, squalls, shifting sands, collapsing clifftops, and impermanence.
Links go to YouTube videos of performances with the scores. You can also download PDFs of the scores.
Flanders & Swann Slow Train
Focus Sylvia (Score)
Focus Hocus Pocus (Score)
Dukas Fanfare from ‘La Péri’ (Score)
Stanford The Blue Bird (Score)
Roy Harper When an old cricketer leaves the crease (Score – Chords)
ABBA Knowing me, knowing you (Score)
Elton John Sorry seems to be the hardest word (Score)
I give lively and humorous talks on everyday cycling and touring, illustrated with unique images from twenty years of touring the world.
LEJOG Audiobook Humorous and musical diary of my 1997 Britain End to End on local food and drink. (On external site. Contains bagpipes.)