Bicycles

I’m Not in Paris for the end of Le Tour

The Tour is On and I’m Not There

The other day my after a trip to the beach where my daughter insisted on swimming fully clothed she borrowed an old T-shirt of mine bought at the final stage of the 1991 Tour de France. This was the stage where Djamolidine Abdujaparov famously crashed out. Every year since I have wanted to return to Le Tour, next year I will.

For now then a bit of a mish-mash which at some point I will re-visit this post.

First off a reminder of the end of the 1991 race.

The Colour of Cycling

Cycling World Champion Rainbow Stripes

World Colours

The cycling World Champion colours are not ones that any designer would generally place together, all a bit Play-School. That said in the world of cycling it works, don’t know why, it just does. These basic primary(ish) colours are repeated throughout the cycling world, and why not?

For the uninitiated cycle shirts aren’t just about carrying a brand. Some specific shirts have colours to denote the position of the rider within the race (or World). Whether it is the leader in the sprint race, the best climber or the overall leader there are shirts to be worn.

There seems to be some dispute over the origins of Le maillot jaune in the Tour de France. I certainly like the second suggestion.

The colour was chosen either to reflect the yellow newsprint of the organising newspaper, L’Auto, or because yellow was an unpopular colour and therefore the only one available with which a manufacturer could create jerseys at late notice. (Wiki)

Cycling World Champion shirt

Cycle Logo Design

As a youth, the Campagnolo Super Record Mech (shown) was about as good as it got, but I always preferred the look of the Record (below), which was much more ornate. However the Super Record did allow the Campagnolo logo to be seen in all its glory.

Campag Gears

Campagnolo Logo

People argue about the relative merits of the Japanese and European technology but for me it is European, in particular Italian all the way, and it’s about look and history. I ride a Dutch Gazelle with a strange mix of Campag, Sachs and 3ttt. Yes there are bits of Jap stuff in there but had I the money it would be Italian all the way, and probably steel too.

Cinelli Logo

Cinelli Logo

Colnago Logo

Colnago Logo

Merckx Logo

Merckx Logo

There is a certain purity to any of these logos. Some such as the Cinelli logo are a world apart from their predecessors, have a look here.

My friend Msr Moutard was having a bit of a whinge about the loose bottom bracket on his (Taiwanese built) Colnago earlier this week but I don’t think I would tire of seeing this logo on t’ push-iron.

(Told you it was a mish-mash).

Steel is Cool though many will not understand this obsession with bicycles

Sat in my hallway is a nice (old) Gazelle Reynolds framed road-bike. Elsewhere there is an even older Dawes Super-Galaxy, again Renyolds framed, this one with a Brooks saddle. There is also an old-school Diamondback BMX.

I like bikes, I like them a lot, preferably steel, or titanium, and they don’t need to be too new either. For me a simple bike is a thing of beauty that combines engineering, design and minimalism.

Cinelli Track Bike

Cinelli Track Bike

As a teacher I used to do a design lesson where I showed pupils pictures of things I liked the design of; Guzzis, Porsches, Minis, Trangia cookers… The common link was design. I knew I was getting through when a Year 9 girl saw the Cinelli track bike (shown) and said “that’s dead sexy that is”. She meant it, she was correct too.

I love going to London in part because of the cycling scene there. Twenty (plus) years ago, as a student, I was a cycle courier, I guess it was a relatively new thing then. At the time I rode a mix of bikes: Rory O’Brien, Holdsworth, Ellis-Briggs and latterly an early Ridgeback. Sadly in the first week I crashed the Ellis Briggs, I rode into the back of a Ford Granada stopped outside Kings Cross station. I ended up lying on the guy’s boot and can still remember the look of surprise as he looked in his rear view mirror, fortunately he had checked before diving away with me there. The frame needed re-building and I had the pleasure of using Tom Board who was at the time making Paris cycles, this honour made the accident almost worthwhile.

classic-fixed-gear-road-bike-blue-boy-by-forty-one-thirty

The London scene is vibrant and organic. Recently we have sat outside pubs in Islington and watched as cycle polo teams have returned en-masse riding a selection of unique machines. On one occasion I was almost tempted to pull the classic Bob Jackson from the pile to protect it from damage. There is a range of styles and approaches but, once again, steel is king, whether it is an original or a fixie, and, if it is adorned by leather and a bit of canvas then so much the better.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell the recreations from the re-builds not that this is an issue. There are a number of boutique dealers such as Tokyo Fixed in Soho where you are likely to find all manner of classic machinery.
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