Rarely a dull moment on the WCR Grand Tour. A lot of the news reaching us over the ether this week, however, hasn’t been terribly good. Whether this news is better than no news we can only guess, because a couple of our racers seem to have started Lent a little later than everybody and decided all of a sudden to give up Tweeting, Texting, Posting, etc..
Though nowadays, of course, there are limits to how Dark you can Go, and we’re glad to see via their trackers that the quieter riders like Mike Hall and Simon Hutchinson are still out there gunning for Alan Bate’s record. And so, to our news.
If this photo didn’t already have a caption, we’d have run a caption competition.
The former Great Western Railway Terminus, now named Brunel’s Old Station, was designed in 1841 by one of the world’s most famous architects, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. This year it was chosen as the marvellous location of Bespoked Bristol – UK Handmade Bicycle Show 2012.
And such was the event’s success that almost before the doors had closed on Sunday evening, visitors were already anticipating with eagerness next year’s installment.
There’s no paint job quite like a Pegoretti paint job
Over the weekend hoards of cyclists hungry to see beautiful handmade bikes headed to Bristol for Bespoked 2012. Saturday alone saw a massive 2,500 rammed into Brunel’s Old Station all grappling to pick the brains of the 80 exhibitors.
Bespoked is a festival unlike any other in the cycling world. It is a place where companies – no matter how well established – come together with a shared passion for the handmade, keeping production close to hand and bespoke perfection.
A Vintage Ambrosio laced to, ahem, a rather apt six inch diameter piece of vinyl.
The town of Hameln, as we all know, is famed chiefly for its Pied Piper, who back in the Fifteenth Century or thereabouts and armed with a magical flute, enticed all of the local children away with him, never to be seen again. This dastardly act was his way of meting out revenge upon the adult citizenry of Hameln who had refused to pay for his services as rat catcher par excellence at some unspecified time earlier.
Anyway, nowadays if anybody is doing any luring in Hameln, it’s Carsten Slabon at Fahrradies with his magical array of the finest in English leather saddle work. And it seems that neither Man nor Child is immune to their charms.
Beard Experimenter and Serial Non-Showerer Paul Ashley Unett. Photo BBC.
As we mentioned before the start of the WCR Grand Tour, the Guinness Record Book does not differentiate between supported and unsupported attempts at Fastest Circumnavigation by Bike. Nor does it have a special category for riders who go for a very long time without washing. Which is a shame, because if they did we’re sure we’d have some good news for one of our racers this morning.
Alas, this could be more expensive, if only it required more components
With the World Cycle Racing Grand Tour underway, we are reminded once again that circumnavigating the earth by bike is not just an objectively admirable undertaking, but an expensive one.
Because of this, the riders taking their tilt at Alan Bate’s Guinness World Record are assisted by sponsors to help cover the costs of gear, flights, visas, insurance, gear, accommodations, and of course, gear. Not to mention spending cash to cover the steady stream of bills arriving in their letterboxes while away. Did we mention gear?
An unhurried circumnavigation can run to comfortably around 30,000 US Dollars, and not many of the Fast Trackers arriving back in London this summer will have had outgoings substantially less when they take stock of their trip’s ledger book.
Which set us to wondering. How much money would we need to jump from a standing start into full membership of some other cycling niche group?
It pains us to report this morning that Stephen Phillips is out of the Race. It seems that circumstances have slowly conspired almost from Day One to finally leave him without the option of continuing. And on Sunday he announced via his Facebook page that his record attempt was over.
“To the Victor belong the Spoils of the Enemy”- A familiar scene from the Mean Streets.
It’s undoubtedly nice to laze on the couch sometimes, and leaf through an outsize hardcover packed with glossy photographs of strangely shaped bicycles you can’t afford. Which is just as well, because aside from the usually formulaic and self-serving pro rider autobiography, there doesn’t tend to be much else available to people looking for a “bike book”. Fortunately, this rule has its exceptions, and we expect to be having a gander through two of them fairly soon.
Spring 2012 should be a bountiful season for fans of good cycling prose, as a couple of noteworthy tomes are scheduled for release in the coming months. One of them is by Eben Weiss, the renowned BikeSnobNYC, who over the past 5 years has successfully striven to provide readers of his blog with a statutory twelve daily laughs on the general theme of bicycling.
The outside hall of the Berlin Bike Show (photo: Dimitri Hempel)
Stateside around this time of the year, cycling fans who eschew the Conveyor Belt in favour of the Bespoke gravitate towards the annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show. And on this side of The Pond, similar-minded people are finding themselves drawn each spring to the German capital for the Berliner Fahrrad Schau.
In the WCR Grand Tour, the big adjustment from normal life to hammering solo on your bike for most of your waking hours will at this stage have been made by most of our racers. The rhythm of riding hard for ten, twelve, or more hours with barely a day off in between (barring illness or enforced airplane use) can have a frightening relentlessness to it from a certain perspective.
The Grand Tour is not for the faint of heart – but its riders seem to have their respective end goals always in sight, and an awareness of events occurring beyond the immediate vantage point of their saddles. It’s Life, lived in the moment but equipped with room for a view of the Big Picture, so to speak.