as a famous cycling journalist, it gives me no great pleasure to admit that i had to look up who won the 100th running of the tour de france in 2013. of course, it was chris froome, a man who held the yellow jersey for fourteen of the 21 stages, finishing four minutes and twenty seconds ahead of movistar's diminutive colombian, nairo quintana, with joaquin rodriguez in third place. as the 2013 edition brought the number of tours to five score, those details will probably hold a greater significance than the other ninety-nine, though for those of us on this side of the channel, prince bradley's victory the previous year might just gain the ascendency.
it was actually quite simple to find out the aforementioned details, even though reputation would affirm that i have them imprinted on the inside of my eyelids. the fact that i haven't, explains why scott and john at the velocast are very unlikely to invite me to join them in an episode of their award-winning podcasts. and it's even less likely that a major broadcast station is ever likely to cite me on screen as a cycling expert. such a status would likely grant me power over the sunday peloton, but as it is, i am merely a domestique.
but on the basis that i can scarcely recall major velocipedinal events from only two years past, there is every chance that i've forgotten a lot more than that. even events in which i was at least a willing participant are now distant memories. so much so in fact, that to find any photographs i might have taken during such escapades would necessitate the engagement of a private detective. similarly, any folks i met during those halcyon days of yore will be foggy memories and untraceable e-mail addresses. i have tried most conscientiously over the years to improve upon this state of affairs, but it remains a truism that i've often forgotten someone's name mere minutes after having been introduced.
only after years of playing in the same blues band did i discover that the guitarist and i both filed each separate song or tune as a series of shapes. neither wished to make mention to the other on the supposed basis that this was a rather odd means of both learning and recall. be that as it may, it's still the easiset way for me to learn songs and/or drumming patterns. if someone can place a narrative of events in some form of designed order, however ephemeral that might sound, there is a far greater chance of my remembering that with which i am charged.
and now, surprise, surprise, it seems this very method has been superbly applied to the world of cycling.
james mason and howard smith (the latter of jerseypocket and greenwich boucle fame) together form massif central, a velocipedinally affiliated undertaking that offers the grandest example of informatics that i have the potential joy to hang on the wall of debbie's cafe.
their a1 computer driven giclee print concerning the very same tour de france of which we spoke earlier is something of a masterpiece, not only of clarity of design, but in its manner of composition. take a gander at the image reproduced above; that random looking big black blob in the centre, does in fact constitute the course profile linked to each of the stages denoted on the inner spokes of the graphic wheel, and consequently allied to the results depicted on the outer rim. even at a1 size (841mm x 594mm), the lettering and graphics are rather small, but still legible to close examination.
the posters are produced in a limited edition of 100 (what else?), individually signed and numbered and printed on heavyweight art paper, delivered in a sturdy cardboard tube. it is quite possible that you'd consider a purchase price of £125 plus postage a touch on the high side, but his isn't the sort of image dashed off in a spare five minutes before a pot noodle at lunchtime. nor is the quality printing process the sort of thing you could manage on the inkjet sat next to the pencil sharpener in the far corner of the spare bedroom. framed, this would be the centre of attraction in the clubhouse, coffee shop or above the mantlepiece when your better half is away for the weekend.
of course, if your cycling predilection leans more heavily towards pink in may, there's a similarly constituted graphic record of the 2014 giro d'italia, the very race that brings to mind several hours in a fishing boat travelling to and from ballycastle in northern ireland. howard and james intend to offer similar posters celebrating the monuments of the one-day classics during the forthcoming season. but the driving force behind the current and future productions, is a means of providing a graphic record of your very own cycling exploits, about which i will explain further in a future washingmachinepost.
meanwhile, since i have number 19 sat in the croft awaiting delivery to the framer, that would imply that there are only a maximum of 99 individual prints left for the rest of you. it might be an idea to click the link below before somebody else does.
monday 2 february 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
let's suppose for a moment or two that you're all riding red bikes and i've got a blue one. though the advantages of owning a red bike have been made perfectly clear, and despite that colour being a whole lot cheaper than blue, i still persist in riding my blue bike. and in point of fact, i'm actually thinking of buying another one. you'd possibly have every right to call me stupid, but on the basis that i obviously have enough money to buy more than one expensive blue bicycle, it's more likely i'd be referred to as eccentric.
this is partially based on an apocryphal statement by drummer keith moon, a man renowned for trashing drum kits, throwing televisions out of hotel room windows and driving a rolls royce into a swimming pool. though all of moon's attributes would attest to a manifest level of perceived madness, because everything to excess was part of the rock'n'roll lifestyle in the sixties and seventies, he was generally regarded as eccentric.
notwithstanding the fact that not all of you can play drums and i think that i can, few of us can truthfully ally ourselves to the rock'n'roll lifestyle. so if we were to drive a rolls royce into a swimming pool later this weekend, those nice men in their clean white coats would probably offer us our own room with thickly padded wallpaper, accompanied by a jacket that fastens up the back. but if driving cars of any marque into hotel swimming pools were common behaviour, there's every likelihood that those who did not partake of such recreational activity would be regarded as the eccentric ones. society and tabloid newspapers just love stuff like this.
caledonian macbrayne have recently taken to cancelling the ferries up to twenty-four hours in advance, dependent on the received wind forecast. it happened last wednesday and yet again on saturday. though they advertise our daily timetable as being a lifeline service, the ever present health and safety, combined with economic factors have conspired to make the service less predictable than used to be the case. in the halcyon days of yore, if we were to enquire whether the ferry was likely to sail the following morning, we'd be advised that a decision would be made around half-an-hour prior to departure. that situation is now history.
so on saturday (yesterday), despite the entire day's ferry services being cancelled "Due to the continuing adverse conditions of NNW winds up to 50 knots" my need for a bike ride, a cup of coffee and a double egg roll meant that i took the 'cross bike out the shed and proceeded in a westerly direction. i will not fib; those north westerly gusts can be a tad on the challenging side, but usually, provided the average wind speed is less than 40mph, i'll risk it. i've been doing this for a great number of years, so despite the occasional example of gross stupidity, i like to think i know what i'm doing.
however, on reaching debbie's for coffee and lunch, those already cosying up to the log effect electric fire midst the coffee tables were happy to express their thoughts on my apparent eccentricity of heading out in such winds. the fact that i'd found conditions to be less onerous than i'd expected did little or nothing to lessen their contentions.
however, while i sat with coffee and a piece of mrs washingmachinepost's christmas cake, patiently waiting for my egg roll, another cyclist of my acquaint also dropped in for a coffee and a piece of carrot cake. to make matters worse (or better), this fellow had cycled a good 16 kilometres further than i in the same weather conditions and had plans to head south for a similar distance. suddenly, in the eyes of my accusers, my eccentricity had been diluted, and they were beginning to feel less sure of their own tenacity in the face of perceived adversity.
mind you, they were probably right first time round. on the way home i was caught in serious gusts of around 50mph, aided and abetted by stinging hailstones, necessitating a need to take shelter.
together we stand, divided we fall.
sunday 1 february 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
along with many others, i've been a cycling aficionado (posh name for obsessive) since before shimano's fishing division had nudged the idea of indexed gearing in the direction of the guys across the office floor. there has been a bicycle in the garage, and subsequently the bike shed since a ten-speed-racer really meant five sprockets married to a double chainring of 52/42. i can see the waves of nostalgia spreading outwards from these black and yellow pixels even as we speak.
i have guiltily found myself almost agreeing with graeme obree when he said he wasn't overly impressed with all the newbies finding their pedals; he liked it more when only the hard-core joined him for bike rides. i cannot deny that he had his tongue planted in his cheek at the time, but i'm sure more than just one or two of us can sort of see where he was coming from.
you can blame who you like for this state of affairs; wiggins, the tour de france, rapha, team sky. but though the latter two may be complicit, i'm pointing the finger at track cycling. if dave brailsford hadn't found gold medal success across the boards of the world's velodromes, the idea of nicking bradley's contract from under the nose of jonathan vaughters would possibly never have occurred. and to then set a target of winning the tour de france within five years was surely the nail in the proverbial coffin.
and the worst part about all this is that all of the foregoing seems to have worked. according to sport england's active people survey, there are more people riding their bicycles on a weekly basis than there are playing football. rather obviously, that's probably more an official hope than a verified likelihood. though i've no real idea from where these surveys garner their statistics, 2.1 million weekly cyclists versus 1.9 million weekly football players somehow doesn't hold the ring of truth we'd all be likely to believe. do i really believe that large pelotons of surveyors armed with pens and clipboards have been scouring the land south of the border looking for all those playing football in school playgrounds, industrial wastelands and small parcels of former car parks?
no i don't.
but neither do i believe their figures include all the pelotonese out for a sunday morning ride, or wednesday evening chain gang. it would be nice to think, however, that the cyclists do, in fact, outnumber their soccer counterparts.
but my problem, such as it is, does not truthfully concern itself with the vagaries of statistical methodology, a science that will remain forever under suspicion. what concerns me was brought almost incidentally to my attention by british cycling's reaction to the cheering news of this triumph over twenty-two players and a football. gratified by these increased participation levels, bc stated "cycling is on track to meet the participation targets set by sport england at the start of the 2013-2017 whole sport plan."
is it not enough that we encourage the civilian population to clamber aboard even bicycle shaped objects and join us in the grand peloton, without implementing specific quantitles? though it's nice to think that the great british (english) public may wish either to substitute cycling for football or, perchance, combine both sports in complementary fashion, should we not be satisfied with an organic rate of adoption rather than pre-defining what would be deemed acceptable? you see, something called a whole sport plan probably has substantial amounts of funding attached, and safe in the knowledge that there's no such thing s a free lunch, that funding will expect certain pre-defined outcomes.
as in a surety of bums on saddles by 2017.
giving ever greater credence to my supposition, british cycling's chief executive officer, ian drake said, "our focus is now on the sustainable growth of the sport, and we've forged a wealth of new partnerships in the last year.... experience has taught me that any statement featuring the word 'partnerships' often has economics at heart as opposed to the obsessiveness displayed by those already there. by which i mean us.
in truth it warms the cockles of my bottom bracket bearings to learn that more folks are adopting the way of the handlebar. maybe some of them will end up on islay and boost the sunday morning peloton. but i really don't think targets are the way to proceed. however, i will be conducting my own survey regarding recently-built garden sheds of a size large enough to contain at least a bike or two.
saturday 31 january 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
some people are movers and shakers while others (and i have my hand up at this point) prefer to be moved and shaken. organising any type of event nowadays is mostly beset with difficulties, attending to aspects that will take place prior to, during and quite possibly after. for the more high profile happenings, health and safety, maybe environmental health and most likely insurance of one kind or another will occupy not only most of the hours devoted to its existence, but a sizeable portion of the finances. unless these are bits and bobs that you enjoy occupying your time, i can think of nothing more onerous and less inviting than organising any form of public event, let alone a cycling related example.
having said all that, the beginning of the 20th century was possibly a tad less populated with tripwires to unsettle the unwary. otherwise how would something as complex, and ultimately successful as the tour de france have ever found its early decade grasp on the pelotonese? mind you, by all accounts, henri desgrange was not the sort of fellow to be stymied by any administrative textures; in order to sell more newspapers, the tour de france was going to take place in july 1903 no matter what.
granted, there was a lot more at stake than 'just a bike race', with the circulation of l'auto escalating from 25,000 prior to the first tour, up to 65,000 by the time it had ended. by 1908 it had reached 250,000 and by 1923 it was selling twice that number of copies per day. despite desgrange being so unsure of the whole idea that he kept well away from the 1903 race, in the light of the above circulation hike, it could presumably be considered a success.
henri is considered le patron of the tdf, even though the idea was apparently that of one of l'auto's journalists, geo lefevre. it's the very reason why the letters hg are still applied to the tour leader's yellow jersey.
entirely coincidentally (i would have you believe), saturday 31 january 2015 marks the anniversary of henri desgrange's birthday. had bernard hinault still allowed him to step onto his podium at the end of each stage, he'd have been 150. howard smith over at the jersey pocket is, it would appear, something of an acolyte of the great man, for he has organised the greenwich grand boucle to not only emulate at least the philosophy of the tour, but to adhere to at least one of desgrange's mandates. "I will HAVE to insist that any mechanicals are fixed without ANY outside assistance. Henri simply wouldn't have it any other way."
for those in the vicinity who feel it only right and proper that henri's 150th birthday be celebrated in appropriate fashion, you should make your way to the cutty sark at greenwich by 10am saturday morning for a 10:30 grand depart. "The parcours includes a short time-trial section along the top of Greenwich Park before the very technical descent of 'Mont Maze'ille'. We then have two catch-sprint zones (only if the traffic lights are green) in the Greenwich 'Valley' section, where we also have a chance to admire some of the lovely chateaux in the area."
in 2014, howard managed a feat that "surely would have warmed old henri's (often hard) heart. I was the only finisher." hopefully this year he'll have competition for that final sprint, after eleven carefully measured laps of the grand boucle route. and contrary to the strictures of many another sportif, there's no entry charge other than perhaps having need of buying a pint or two afterwards at the nearby gypsy moth pub while discussing just how you managed to miss the early breakaway. howard puts it rather more poetically "It's meant to be a fun, social ride. In keeping with the 1905 Tour de France this will be an eleven 'stage' ride, finishing off with a sojournment to a local brasserie afterwards for a couple of demi pintes."
if this is all starting to sound a bit of an easy morning ride, unlikely to strenuously challenge your mettle, other than your solo ability to fix a flat tyre, there is an opportunity to make life a smidgeon harder for those of a more intrepid nature. "Monsieur Desgrange was somewhat sceptical about 'variable gears', considering them something of an affront to his lofty notions of the true worth of epic suffering. With that in mind, we will be awarding the 'Henri Desgrange Memorial Pignon Fixe Prize' to someone who is bold enough to undertake and complete the course on a fixed or single speed machine."
matters would be undoubtedly visually enhanced were you to arrive at the cutty sark tomorrow morning wearing a wool jersey and riding a pashley guv'nor . not forgetting a puncture repair kit in one of the buttoned chest pockets.
friday 30 january 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
this will surprise pretty much no-one at all, but since it is germane to the following diatribe, i will have to ask you to bear with me for a paragraph or two. or you could skip ahead a bit; the choice is yours.
at one time in the far distant past, my late father owned a citroen something or other. this was, to be perfectly honest, a bit of a surprise, since ever since my gran had given me a toy yellow model ds when i was a kid, he had foresworn a distaste for the marque. any hoo, one of the rear lights had ceased to function, necessitating his popping along to the local garage to have the bulb replaced. however, it transpired that life was no longer as simple as was the case when we all drove morris minors and ford anglias. rather than replace a bulb worth a few pence, the repair now necessitated replacement of a far more expensive rear light unit which also incurred a more substantial labour cost in the process.
though such a predicament has become increasingly common, at least partially at the behest of contemporary motor car mass production methods, it appears few such modernities favour the owner as opposed to the manufacturer. up till now, bicycles have operated on the fringe of such iniquities, though if we step back and rub our eyes to remove the rosie tint, maybe we're kidding ourselves.
the bottom bracket, once full of loose ball-bearings, progressed to bearing races and ultimately the cartridge version. nothing has changed really in the move to outboard or even press fit where it has become necessary to simply throw them away when worn. we've all been doing this for so long, that it's a factor we no longer pay much attention to. and when was the last time you carefully cleaned out all the bearings and wheel hub surfaces at the end of each season, carefully packing new bearings and new grease to encourage another year of frictionless pedalling activity?
if it had all ended there, i would have a smile upon my face. but you know as well as i do, that the bicycle industry simply can't stop itself from tinkering. as evidence for the case for the prosecution, take electronic gear shifting as exhibit number one. during my exhaustive research for this investigative feature, i footered about on the interwebs to check the cost of a campagnolo chorus mechanical groupset as opposed to its electrical counterpart. though there may be a smidgeon of variance depending on your retailer of choice, roughly speaking, there's about £1,000 worth of a difference.
when electronica first reared its button-pressing head several years ago, one of the reasons offered as to why it was a necessity for the cyclist desirous of contemporary status, was that of potential rider exhaustion. though i'm sure the latter word was never actually used, the inference was that at the end of lengthy stages or one day classics, riders may find themselves too weary to select the appropriate mechanical gear. i have no problem changing gear via conventional wires, and though i ride nothing like the distances traversed by the pros, they're a lot fitter than i am. so how hard can it be to mechanically change into a sprinting gear, even at the end of milan-sanremo?
apart from continuing to think of di2 and eps as solutions looking for a problem, paying an extra thousand pounds to achieve the same end result hardly seems like progress to me.
but, (admit it, you knew it was coming) it has apparently not stopped there. paying even scant attention to the cycling press both in print and online concerning the recent tour down under, would seem to support evidence showing that the third of the big three (sram) is road-testing a wireless gear selection groupset.
to quote charlie brown "oh good grief!"
i recently had the very good fortune to review a bicycle fitted with campagnolo's super-record mechnical groupset which, throughout the entire review period, never missed a beat or a sprocket. changing gear both up and down, both front and back required very little real effort. i'd venture so far as to say there was almost no difference between it and the effort required to achieve the same with the electronic version of super-record.
i'm aware that the uci are keen to replicate the word of formula one motor racing in their bid for global domination, but could we please just stick to bits of non-electrical wire in the process?
thursday 29 january 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
during the production stage of a recent issue of our local paper, one of the editors had a notion for writing a short article about just how we went from a blank sheet of (electronic) paper to 24 pages full to overflowing with news, features and advertisements. the idea was to summarise all the salient aspects of the process including who did what at which point of the week and which came before what. it is possible that this information would be of interest to some, but probably a very minimal some. in truth, the majority are really only interested in the newspaper appearing in the shops come each second saturday.
how it gets there is pretty much our problem, not theirs.
rightly or wrongly, the research and development phase of any particular product brought to market is either a total secret, or at the very least, something that is better left undiscussed. few of us are overly bothered quite how much work was involved in getting the product (whatever it is) from an empty workshop all the way to a shiny package on a bike store shelf, all the better to attract our consumer pennies.
in most cases, i think it quite likely that both parties are quite agreeable to this situation. we're not really interested in learning and, for one reason or another, they're not too keen on telling us anyway. this could be for any number of reasons; possibly the eureka moment was a total accident, thus undermining any perceived technical prowess, or the idea was copied from somewhere else and subsequently improved past the point of recognition. or the research and development department had the brilliantly original idea that you now see before you.
but how 'real world' is the testing procedure? let's face it, life would be a lot quicker and cheaper if waterproofs could simply be worn in the shower to check if they let in any water. and new tread patterns could be given a whirl on the office turbo for a couple of days. then couldn't someone just sit in front of a dyson airblade to check the windproofing of a jersey? (please note that i'm not suggesting any of the above actually take place). you have to admit , this would likely keep the prices low and the time to market admirably short.
some folks, however, just don't work that way.
josh simonds is the fellow behind nixfrixshun, confidently announcing in large letters on the corporate website 'the last chainlube you will ever need.' it might be more accurate, however, to state that josh is one of the folks behind nixfrixshun. according to the inimitable richard sachs "I've known Josh for some 14 or more years, meeting - as many do these days - as members of an online community. A small group from within that forum gelled and we started Velocipede Salon in 2007."
so far so good. a group of like-minded yet sufficiently different individuals who "looked on bicycles as tools rather than commodities over which to obsess or fetishize. Some of the more arduous meetings were (and still are; reference Ballers Ride) a test of all things mechanical."
at the risk of stating the obvious, many of those frequenting the velocipede salon are, like richard sachs, framebuilders or those with an explicit interest in the genre. thus, participation in events such as the ballers ride would not only unsympathetically test the mettle of several of their own creations, but of the associated componentry bolted to the frame. "Several years ago, josh simonds mentioned an idea he'd had for a chain oil recipe that would make all others pale by comparison. Samples were mixed and passed out around the world, lore being made every time one of us was asked for an opinion about the lube's efficacy, and Josh decided to bring it to the market. It's been a hit ever since atmo."
many of the above mentioned fellows reside on the east coast of america (richard lives in warwick, massachusetts), but it seemd a tad unfair that they and their peers ought to be the only ones to benefit from the 'last chainlube you will ever need.' so in response to my request, josh sent a few small bottles of nixfrixshun to islay. i have never ridden anything that sounded even close to the ballers ride, but a series of utterly crap singletrack roads on a wind and rain battered rock in the atlantic really ought to be able to give a heap of trouble to anything, let alone a chain lubricant.
in keeping with the sachs tradition, i applied several small drops of richard sachs branded nixfrixshun to the sram chain on my ibis hakkalugi as well as my more road-going chris king cielo. josh's instructions advise placing a sinlge drop on a random number of chain links before spinning the cranks backwards for a few turns and wiping off the excess with a rag.
pre-flight procedure undertaken, it was then simply a matter of subjecting both to my own version of purgatory. i have waxed lyrical for more pixels than is polite over my fixation with shiny chains. even lubricants that have more than proved their worth, are left in solitary confinement if they make the chain indescribably grubby in even modest use. nixfrixshun offers as little by way of obsession and fetish as the velocipede peloton.
at the risk of giving more airtime to a well-worn cliche than it truly deserves 'it does exactly what it says on the tin.' even after a wet ride involving less than carefully measured dollops of mud, the chain had collected less of the latter than would usually be expected, and the chain, though hardly pristine, still ran commendably smoothly. the cielo, though not deliberately ridden through mud, unavoidably involved itself in the island's agricultural surface coatings. tractors will do that to tarmac, whether billiard flat (who am i kidding?) or otherwise.
nixfrixshun is a low viscosity, clear liquid that appears to have excellent lubrication properties when applied to bits of bicycles. when the seatpin bolt on the hakkalugi proved itself to be in danger of binding without applying enough pressure to the seatpin, a couple of drops of nixfrixshun solved the problem in seconds. i've also applied a small amount to the pivots on the sram force and sram red derailleurs on each respective bike, but i'll have to wait a few more days or so to reap the benefits.
a two ounce bottle of nixfrixshun retails at $15 (approx £10) plus shipping. if ordering for delivery to the uk or mainland europe, you'd likely be better taking more than a single bottle to average the shipping costs. nixfrixshun state they'll ship to most countries in the world. as far as i know, the richard sachs' logo'd product is not generally available (ask richard), however i also have an italian labelled dario pegoretti edition and a pro-blend that will be sold under the silca pumps label via their distribution network.
smooth in every sense of the word.
wednesday 28 january 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
as i write, core bike is taking place in the luxury environs of whittlebury hall hotel until 28 january. it's a show that has grown in size over the years, though i'm still in a quandary as to whether this is a show for the more inventive members of the general public, or whether it's designed specifically for the press and trade.
only a few days into february (12 - 15) several of the same exhibitors will have trucked their stands and products across to the excel centre in london's docklands for yet another exhibition, this time most definitely open to the public. there have not unnaturally been a number of calls recently, to amalgamate all into a single cycle show in the uk, taking care of every eventuality. the london show's more recent existence could feasibly be seen as the capital city's knee-jerk reaction to the existing national show having been moved from earls court to the necc in birmingham. perhaps a case of sour grapes? either way, with the latter still to take place in september, there's every basis for arguing against this increase in expense both for exhibitors and attendees.
make no mistake, the cost of renting stands, creating exhibits and transporting everything to and fro is ultimately added onto the recommended retail price. that's why it's called the cycle industry. but while an apparent increase in the number of cycle shows south of the border is welcomed with open ticket sales, the sole representative north of the border fared somewhat less well.
originally occupying a hangar-like space in glasgow's scottish exhibition and conference centre, in 2013 the scottish bike show moved to what would seem the ideal location; the sir chris hoy velodrome on glasgow's east side. yet, despite its four years' of existence during which attendance figures seemed fairly reasonable (though, to be honest, what would i know?), the 2014 edition was the last. organised by rowan mackie in partnership with his brother andrew, the end of such a recent innovation must have been somewhat disheartening?
"Not really. When the first event went out in 2011, I really didn't know if this was a one-off, or whether it could become an annual event. I produced four great events up to 2014 with the help of my brother Andrew, Naomi Marshall, James McCallum and the support of my regular exhibitors and all the visitors we had (over 20,000)."
having attended the 2014 edition of bespoked at london's lea valley velodrome, it was easy to see how that environment was ideally suited to hosting a cycle exhibition (though bespoked has returned to bristol for this year). with rowan having moved the scottish bike show from the secc to the sir chris hoy velodrome in 2013, did that improve matters either financially or attendance wise?
"Attendance wise, it was pretty much the same. However the move did bring in new manufacturers and brands which hadn't been part of the previous two events. The 2013 event was probably the most successful in terms of revenue generation and product on display. I think the major pull was that the velodrome was very new, a part of the Commonwealth Games and we offered something a little different in terms of the venue facilities. That year Madison, Condor, Paligap, Dolan, Upgrade Bikes, Trek, Pinarello and a host of other recognised distributors and brands made it to the show."
of course, if london and other regions south of the border have their own shows, with all the expense to distributors and manufacturers that those entail, there's no real reason why budgets ought to be stretched a bit further simply to satisfy potentially one twelfth of the uk's cycling population. if charity truly begins at home, it would seem reasonable that a scottish bike show be supported by scotland's bicycle businesses and shops. was that less than rowan had hoped for or better than expected?
"Better! Alpine Bikes were our retail partner for every single event. Their support was tremendous and without Bryan Shedden (Alpine Bikes, Director) believing in the initial concept it could have changed the whole shape of what I originally intended to do.
"Over the years we had great support from many retailers from all across the country. Pedal Power, Edinburgh Bike Co-op, Solid Rock Cycles, Ronde, Walkers Cycling and loads more gave up their time and invested in the project, so I am grateful and happy we managed to showcase the local businesses."
could it simply be the case that the prevalence and pre-existence of cycle shows in the london area made the scottish bike show one more show too many?
"Not just London; everywhere else! When I started, there was only really the London Bike Show, a consumer-based event within the Q1, early Q2 time period. Needless to say, the trade-based events which were around that time period had being going for years, though they weren't direct competition. So, having a Springtime event initially made sense, especially as there was nothing like this in Scotland.
"Now there are shows in Wales, Ireland, two new ones in London, Manchester and probably a few more I may have missed out. That just made it too much of a mission to produce a cycling exhibition within that time period. The last event did bring Sir Chris Hoy and Craig McLean, so that was the special icing on the cake for the final show."
taking the number of individual public and trade exhibitions into account and re-iterating the costs involved of servicing such frequency all across the country, then casually but purposely putting them to one side, perhaps the problem, so to speak, is one of commitment. many of england's major cities have not been backwards in coming forwards to promote their efforts placed at the disposal of the average cyclist. certain of these initiatives, including the boris bikes and their clones have undoubtedly aided an inherent cycling mentality as well as quite possibly being responsible for increasing cycle participation.
though glasgow now has its own boris bikes and edinburgh has long had an active cycling community and pressure group, the country's wide-open spaces, alleged inclement weather and sparseness of population does not make for an ideal urban cycling culture. does rowan think that perhaps scotland is less committed to a cycling lifestyle than is the case south of the border?
"I can't comment on the situation down south, but cycling is demonstrating steady growth up here, certainly from a commuter point of view. There are loads of cyclists in Edinburgh commuting to work and generally using a bike as a viable form of transport, so that's always good to see. I reckon it's all about the parents. Once you get that first bike for a birthday or Christmas, then going out with your mates and generally having fun, that's usually the way it forms into a lifestyle, passion or even a career."
sadly, therefore, we must accept that for now at least, the scottish bike show is, as sung by mcguinness flint, "dead and gone". if rowan is correct and cycling is on an upward trajectory in scotland, what happens next? given that he has shown remarkable tenacity over the last four years in hanging on in there, is he planning a substitute event, or just giving up and riding his bike at weekends?
"Glad you asked. I'm currently working with the Edinburgh Corn Exchange to produce CycleFest Edinburgh 2015. This will take place from 19 - 20 September. I've wanted to do something in Edinburgh for a while now, as it's my home city and has a host of other festivals and amazing cycle paths in and around the area.
"The new event will be predominantly targeting families and those relatively new to cycling, hopefully bringing a festival flavour to Scottish cycling. However, we will be taking some of the elements from the Bike Show, such as the presentation theatre, stunt bikes and a few other things which always worked really well and the public seemed to enjoy.
"The venue lends itself to having a multitude of indoor and outdoor exhibitors, features and displays, so I am really looking forward to bringing the event to Edinburgh. Our official PR consultant is King of Scotland, James McCallum, and I'm really pleased to be working with him again."
more than just yours truly will recall some excellent summer evenings spent in edinburgh's grassmarket watching cobbled and hilly racing under the banner of the late, lamented edinburgh nocturne. despite platitudes regarding its revival from the organisers when the former nocturne series devolved to a single event in london's smithfield market, the event has remained even more dead and buried than the scottish bike show. will rowan's upcoming cyclefest perhaps attempt to fill the shoes left vacant by the edinburgh nocturne?
there is little point, in this or any other age, making us all aware of what sounds like the very cycling event that would have us all entranced, but failing to give credence to its online presence. going live in the next day or two, all relevant information can be accessed via the cyclefest edinburgh facebook page. and would it be a redundant question to ask if the demise of the scottish bike show has lessened rowan's enthusiasm for organising cycling events?
"Absolutely not. It's only enhanced the passion!"
tuesday 27 january 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................