Issue 8 - 2016 brooksengland.com
Celebrating 150 Years 1866 - 2016
150 YEARS 15 STORIES 2016 marks the 150th year since John Boultbee Brooks
Back on the Rivet Testing the C13 in the heart of the Arenberg Forest with David Millar.
The Changing Face of Racing A look at today’s new breed of competitive cyclists.
Poetry in Partnership Meet the makers behind our 150th Anniversary Dashing Bikes.
The Eyes Have It Jered Gruber tells of his first and life-altering group ride.
A Desert of Stone and Ice Across the barren interior of Iceland with Tom Donhou & George Marshall.
A Wanderer’s Life Beyond Compare Romance on the rural roads of France with Hilde Porch & Rene Zieger.
Are You Scared? Eleanor Moseman and the challenges she faced on the road in Asia.
Metropolitan Detours A new Cycle Bags Collection and interactive global campaign.
Bike Snob on Perseverance What it takes to thrive on the slippery slopes of cycle blogging.
This is Not a Tour Mike Hall discusses pioneering a new old style of racing.
Escape Routes Across Cape Wrath in Northern Scotland with Pannier.
Cycling and Journalism Timothy John reminisces on pre-internet cycling culture.
A Bugle to Celebrate Counting back through our varied and surprising 150 year history.
Dealer of the Year This year’s honours go to Velonauta of Zurich.
Worker of the Year Steve Green introduces this year’s top employee in Smethwick.
opened a workshop for horse harness and tackle in Great Charles St. in Birmingham - going on to become the world’s leading producer of bicycle saddles until the 1960’s. Brooks continues to manufacture products much in the traditional way they have always been made: through honest, durable materials, hand-crafted construction techniques and a design philosophy that places “The Best for Riding” above all else. In this edition of the Bugle we have arranged stories to offer a broader view of what inspires us today.
EDITORS Bregan Koenigseker Michela Raoss Andrea Meneghelli ART DIRECTION & DESIGN Fabio Fedrigo Jim Holland
Back on the Rivet
“Where better to test it than the worst place in the world?” Since John Boultbee Brooks invented his famous leather bicycle seat, the Brooks identity has been firmly connected with innovation. From saddles and accessories, to tools and luggage of all sorts, hundreds of patents were registered under the Brooks Name - forming an empire of products for needy cyclists. We continue this proud tradition today through our innovative Cycle Bags and Accessories, and most recently of all, with the introduction of the Cambium Line of Saddles featuring the C13, the first Brooks Saddle utilising carbon fibre, to much worldwide attention. WORDS - Oliver Parsons
PHOTOS - Tino Pohlmann
It may come as a surprise to some that performance products have a firm place in our history. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when even the casual spectator would have noticed the Brooks Brand dominating the professional peloton in races across Europe and the globe, from Fausto Coppi through to Andy Hampsten. In fact, it is believed that the oftused phrase “on the rivet” is a direct reference to the position adopted by the rider going all out and slid over the nose rivet of the saddle, which likely would have been a model from Brooks.
version. The Cambium C15 put the Brooks Name on the lips of performance-oriented cyclists. Used by competitors in the UCI Cyclocross World Cup as well as many fixed gear criterium and gravel endurance events – the performance advantages of comfort winning out over the marginal gains to be had with ultralight saddle offerings. However we also took note that many riders still desired an even lighter Cambium, one more suited to a carbon fibre frame, the dominant material in performance framebuilding today.
about the testing. It was as if he had been riding the C13 for years.
The trip provided us with invaluable information on how the C13 rode, but much more feedback was still to come. Over a period of months, our global band of testers took their saddles across the continents, tackled famous climbs, entered road races and completed long distance adventures. With this combined feedback, we perfected the composition of the rubber top and carbon rails to create our lightest saddle ever, collecting a At Brooks, our ability to innovate is a fundamental wealth of information to inform the design of the Yet, with the passing of time, the technology of leather part of our philosphy. We pride ourselves on the quality coming C13 range whilst so doing. Expect a range of racing saddles was surpassed in lightness by newer of our products and their ability to perform under all shapes and sizes to suit a wider variety of riders and creations making use of plastic and foam – often to circumstances. So with the development of a Cambium riding disciplines. the detriment of rider comfort. From Hinault onward, based on carbon, it was essential that we put our new cyclists sought after small advantages, which led to the saddle through a rigorous testing process. The introduction of the Cambium C13 has given us a rapid disappearance of leather saddles from the world great deal to think about as we see the saddle appear in of competitive cycling. Through an online survey, we recruited a wide range new places on many different types of bicycles. From of testers, 200 in total, from former professionals to larger mass market manufacturers, through to artisan In 2013 we introduced the Cambium C17, our first weekend hobbyists. Undoubtedly one of the highlights builders like those appearing at handmade shows like non-leather saddle since the 1980s. This saddle was was the participation of retired British cyclist, David NAHBS and Bespoked Bristol. Clearly this saddle is the result of several years of research, design and Millar, who came with us to the Arenberg Forest for well on its way to becoming a performance and design development – with careful consideration taken at two days to test the saddle over possibly the harshest classic. This has led to increasing demand from racers, each step in the process, not only with the product parcours in racing, the cobbles of the Paris-Roubaix. particularly those competing in the very popular fixed itself, but with how the product would fit into the The Hell of the North. gear criterium races happening all over the world. This company legacy. exciting format is entertaining for us here at Brooks, Subjecting the saddle, now dubbed C13, to repeated and this enthusiasm has led to our supporting five Utilising a vulcanised rubber top, designers managed thrashings over the rugged and challenging terrain, teams this season. We welcome this breath of fresh air, to recreate the sought-after “hammock effect” that David pushed it to its absolute limits – making the inspiring us as it does to consider the new and exciting in many ways replicated our Leather Saddles, whilst time we spent in Northern France invaluable to ways our products might be used – challenging us to offering an option for cyclists who desired comfort but confirming the efficacy of the new design. For David, meet the demands of this new breed of racer. did not choose leather for a variety of other reasons. it was the perfect saddle to tame the cobbles. In fact after a few hours of shooting and testing, sending him But most of all, we are truly pleased to be back The C17 met with considerable success and it was over the famed passage countless times, when asked #OnTheRivet. not long after that we heeded the calls for a narrower about the saddle, David had completely forgotten
The Changing Face of Racing Over recent years the growth in fixed-gear criterium racing has been exponential. The explosion in popularity of this particular breed of cycle sport was perhaps spearheaded by the success of the global event brand, Red Hook Crit (RHC), with newer series like the Rad Race and Wolfpack Hustle snapping at the Red Hook’s heels.
WORDS - Tom Owen
PHOTO - Liz Seabrook
Over recent years the growth in fixed-gear crit racing has been exponential. The explosion in popularity of this particular breed of cycle sport was perhaps spearheaded by the success of global event brand, the Red Hook Crit (RHC), with newer series like the Rad Race and Wolfpack Hustle snapping at the Red Hook’s heels.
“We keep the Crit short, intense and easy to understand. Fans don’t need to know anything about cycling or tactics to find it exhilarating. Many of the rules in traditional criteriums are good for competitors, but terrible for spectators. In the RHC the race starts and everyone goes full speed until the winning rider crosses the line forty-five minutes later. If you have a mechanical you are out of the race, if you get lapped you are out of the race, if you crash you can’t take a free lap to get back into the lead group. If you get dropped all you can do is push to try and finish.”
“I think the key thing is that a circuit race creates a bit of an amphitheatre, where you see the action go past over and over again compared to a road race. This gives the opportunity to create a much more immersive experience for spectators.”
But what is driving this boom? The events, of course, are providing the fuel, but the vital spark must come from somewhere else. Without spectators and participants, the likes of Red Hook and the Rad Race could just as easily have faded from view after a couple of editions. Instead they stand on the verge of becoming a mainstream phenomenon. The fixed-gear crit scene is a subculture within cycling and it is just beginning to find its feet. At this burgeoning stage, sponsorship is vital to keeping teams running, so they can focus on retaining the best, most dynamic riders and putting on an engaging spectacle. At Brooks, our commitment to supporting the grassroots of cycle sport has been renewed by this exciting twist on the century-old formula of bike racing. We currently support five different teams competing in fixed-gear events, 8Bar, 5th Floor, Desegna, Dafne Fixed and Fast Amsterdam. These teams are spread around Europe and comprise both men’s and women’s rosters. Outside of these teams, many more riders are choosing to run bikes with Brooks saddles, because of the superb performance and unrivalled comfort. One person who knows this type of racing better than most is David Trimble, founder of the Red Hook Crit series. The event began in 2008, since then it has expanded to include races in London, Barcelona and Milan. Trimble says bike racing should, above all else, be spectator friendly and that’s what charms people about ‘the Crit’.
“We’re good at creating a party atmosphere and the City location helps with all the surrounding bars. The variety of races opens up the event to more participants and create a unique spectacle for the spectators.”
Based out of Berlin, the Rad Race is a series of underground racing events, with a focus on short tracks and high speeds – as well as a rock and roll ethos. Founder Ingo Engelhardt says their events appeal “We often see riders who have finished outside the to people on both sides of the barriers too. “Fixedtop fifty with their hands in the air like they won the gear races are so great to ride, but also to watch for race. This pressure creates a frantic atmosphere where spectators too. Its fast, radical, there’s crashes, there’s every lap matters and even taking a single pull at the speed and there’s cool people to watch. A Rad Race front is an accomplishment. Having a fixed gear and is more like a skateboard contest than a traditional set ratio makes just cruising around in the pack waiting bike race. At our races there are always hundreds, for the final sprint almost impossible. There is never a sometimes thousands of spectators that just scream like tightly-bunched peloton, so for spectators identifying hell and create a very special atmosphere. individual riders is easier compared to a traditional road criterium. The riders that emerge victorious “We play loud music: rock, punk, metal, hip hop… and are the same riders who ride at the front and attack not the stupid kind of music that is running at normal throughout the race.” cycling events. And we know that riders come and take part because that’s exactly what they want – to meet The London Nocturne is one of the most venerable their friends, meet other crews from other cities, listen city crits around, having been founded in 2007 (a to music and go to our pre- and after-show parties.” year before the first Red Hook Crit). The programme includes both men’s and women’s elite road criterium The immediacy, the accessibility and the instant events, as well as a special track bike-only race. gratification that fixed-gear racing offers are what make James Pope of Face Partnership, the company that it so exhilarating. As Trimble puts it, “This is an event runs the Nocturne, believes there is a gladiatorial that has to be experienced in person. Nothing can element to this type of racing which gives it its appeal capture the rush of the peloton as it comes screaming for spectators. by at the end of the first lap.” The uncompromising nature of the Red Hook Crit makes it a serious undertaking just to finish.
Poetry in Partnership Brooks enlists the expertise of some of the world’s best bicycle manufacturers to create a new series of 150th Anniversary Brooks Bikes. The synergy between rider and bicycle is as elegant as it is simple. In all of its partnerships over 150 years, Brooks England has always strived to complement the relationship between man and machine, bringing something necessary and graceful to the whole.
WORDS - Andrea Meneghelli
PHOTO - Thom Heald
This year, to mark the celebration of its 150th Anniversary, Brooks England has enlisted the cooperation of some of the best builders in cycling to work on an unprecedented project. Each was asked to create their interpretation of a Brooks Bicycle, which would then be produced in limited numbers. Many of the brands are well-known in their countries of origin – others have seen their bikes and frames ridden commonly all over the world. Some are just beginning their journey, but have already done enough to catch the eye. They are drawn from different cities in the United Kingdom and from countries around the world, and they specialise in the construction of racing and gravel bikes, touring machines, single-speeds and bikes for the city.
You can expect to see all the makers embracing Brook’s extensive repertoire of accessories and trademark colours.
The list of collaborators is impressive. Dario Pegoretti, the great Italian exponent of steel frame bicycles, will deliver a single frame with his signature abstract flourishes, while Mercian from Derby, long favoured for their racing and touring machines, are producing a drop-barred bicycle for long-distance trips. The veritable Condor, itself a firm fixture in the history of British cycling as well as that of Brooks, will produce something entirely modern – a carbon fibre racer adorned with a special edition Cambium C13. Not to forget Brompton, also of London, the brand synonymous with the folding bicycle, have created one such as the first instalment in the collection. To be able to enlist the support of such eminent builders is a testament to Brooks’ appeal throughout the cycling world, but it’s also a great honour for the company. The brand has long been the manufacturer of choice for builders looking to dress their creations beautifully, but to have bikes created specifically with this purpose in mind is a touching tribute. Condor - Leggero
thread, Brooks have stipulated a single theme that will unite them all. The theme is ‘copper’. The simple rationale behind it is that copper is a versatile and elegant material with which to work, and has long Each of the bicycles they create will be a fascinating played an integral role in Brooks Products. The copper insight into the way Brooks is perceived by riders rivet on a Brooks England Saddle, for instance, is of every style and provenance – the variety of as iconic as any other single element of its design. collaborators alone is testament to the versatility of the It remains to be seen how each of the builders will brand. Above all, every one of these bicycles will be a interpret this theme, but we can say that special saddles beautiful and unique item, much-coveted and admired. and accessories are being prepared in our factory, and The bikes will be featured at our flagship B1866 stores the builders are planning special paint schemes, head in Covent Garden and Oslo. throughout the remainder badges, and other details on the finishing kit. of 2016 in a rotating display. When you think about Brooks, refinement is a characteristic that leaps to the mind immediately. The name of the brand has been synonymous with beautiful craftsmanship for a century and a half, so each of the bikes the builders produces will doubtless be exquisitely and timelessly finished. After all, the delight of a beautiful bicycle is truly in the details.
“To be able to enlist the support of such eminent builders is a great honour for the company.”
But what would constitute the essence of a Brooks England bicycle? It’s to be expected that a thrilling variety of bikes will appear to finally be shown at B1866, but to ensure that each machine has a common
Of course to simply let the builders to do their work and await the results would not be in the spirit of true cooperation. Brooks is actively participating, offering help and guidance through the process by developing the special product editions already mentioned and offering feedback to bolster each individual interpretation. Now all that remains is to witness and enjoy the wonderful machines released regularly throughout 2016.
Skeppshult - Favorit
Tokyo Bike - Mini Velo
Skeppshult - Favorit
Achielle - Julie
Tout Terrain - Silk Road
Brompton - M Type
Condor - Leggero
Brompton - M Type
The Eyes Have it That first ride. I still remember it so well. I bought a bike for 450 dollars on a warm, late fall afternoon. It included everything - shoes and pedals, too! I had everything I needed to go for a ride, except the helmet, so I wore a hat. I rode in shorts and a t-shirt and rolled up to my first ever group ride. WORDS - Jered Gruber
PHOTOS - Jered Gruber
Over the next two hours, I learned a lot of things, but two things stood out in bright lights: 1) I was terrible. 2) This was what I wanted to do with my life.
could see all I could ever hope to put on my plate at the we ride the well worn trail of an oft-used road, I still never-ending buffet of adventure. want to shoot – there’s surely something I’ve missed. There’s something out there, there’s always something I didn’t do anything with those pictures, but the seed worth seeing. Everything felt so new. Roads that I had driven and had been planted. Years later it bloomed and our big never noticed were suddenly of great interest. There adventure began, but it started almost at the beginning I’ve grown to realize that my original camera and was so much to see! There were ruined houses on those with two loves that came together: first the bike, still my favorite – my eye as the lens, my memory as country roads, there were dogs and cows and pretty followed almost immediately by the camera. the film – works pretty well too. It’s a subtle click. winding stretches of sun-greyed pavement. There were No noise, no settings, just a pause and something to trees that hung low with the weight of the last leaves For me, riding and shooting will always be intertwined. remember. of the year. There was beautiful late day light and long They fit together so well. And even if I never found shadows dashing alongside our group. I saw so many a camera to grab hold of, I’d still be taking mental Last night – our second ride in Flanders this year. things. I didn’t know it, but I had already begun to take shots of everything I saw, just to hold on to it, just to We don’t have any time at the moment and the ride pictures with my eyes. remember and keep me smiling. ensured that I wouldn’t close my eyes before three in the morning, but it had to happen. It was worth it for It wasn’t long after that I moved to Germany to study the chance to get away from my computer, get outside, for a year. I bought a cheap little camera to put in to the real world outside of my tiny bubble of quickly my jersey pocket when I rode (and to go with me in aging images flowing across my computer screen. It was my pants pocket everywhere else). I took all kinds of worth it to see the world outside, to feel the evening pictures – everything was different and interesting chill gnaw contentedly at my fingertips, feel the and beautiful. I still remember the first time I took widening pool of fatigue in my legs, enjoy the tough a picture of the first switchback on the Königstuhl rasping breaths of a hard ride. in Heidelberg. I had to stop – not for the shot, but because I was falling to pieces. When we finish with the hard part, we roll home easily. I feel present in the moment. I’m not thinking about I remember the excitement of getting on my bike – anything else – just this second. We talk excitedly not just to go out for a ride – but for the chance to about bricks and roofs and roads and hills and turns explore with camera in hand. When it snowed, I ran and all that we don’t want to forget – we talk about outside, jumped on my bike and took pictures. When what’s in front of us, next to us, but nothing out of I tried a new road, the camera was out. When I saw a view. We talk about nothing at all. small sign for a village celebrating its seven hundred year anniversary – click click. Vines on a wall. People In that moment, I didn’t want to take a picture. I on a bridge. The view from my bedroom. Everything paused between excited words and made a note to fascinated me and deserved a shutter press. remember this moment. There was nothing to take a picture of – there was no way to shoot the invisible It was like walking – but a million times better. I could lines of our happiness. ride a hundred miles, stop a hundred times and still As we take more and more pictures now, I haven’t be back before the stars began to twinkle. I could go grown tired of it – far from it. When we ride, I still Sometimes, a picture is not worth a thousand words. wherever I wanted as slow or as fast as I wanted, and I feel this compulsion to explore new roads, and when
“My eye as the lens, my memory as the film. It’s a subtle click. No noise, no settings, just a pause and something to remember.”
A Desert of Stone and Ice How do you start to plan a trip? There’s always a flash moment, that spark that gets you thinking. It could be a picture you’ve seen, someone reminding you of a place you’ve always wanted to visit, a particular road you’ve heard tales from. Sometimes that spark can fizzle out pretty quick, other times it can rage!
WORDS - Tom Donhou
PHOTOS - George Marshall
Whatever happens, there’s nothing quite like the excitement you get deep down in your gut when that idea hits, just keep the momentum going and before you know it, you’re touching down in some far off place, brimming to get on your bike and see what the road offers up.
earth underneath you is alive, bubbling, hot, you really sense it, its pure and wild and massive. If visibility is poor then the excitement of what is cloaked from your eyes keeps you going just as well, the excitement of what you will see when it does finally clear keeps you looking around every corner. Despite total wet out, sideways winds and poor visibility we were still stoked with every pedal stroke.
Lay down the science, plan as you like from the comfort of your study or dining room table, but the desert operates on its own schedule. When later that day we pulled up to a weather-beaten mountain hut, sitting in the shelter of the cloud covered Tungnafellsjokull mountain, we were sternly warned not to carry on – a storm was hitting later that night. I really don’t know if there is an art or science to That’s when the science goes out the window. It’s time planning a bike tour. What destination matches for art. As George got cooking in the warm wooden your timeframe? What do you want to feel? What do We were heading from Keflavik in the south to hut, making use of what had been left from previous you want to see? What do you want to achieve? You Akureyri in the north; a mix of tarmac, gravel and rock stranded hikers and bikers, we needed a new plan, we can find beauty as you stare at the map, link up the strewn tracks. As we got closer to Hella, reaching our needed to be on a flight in two days, this storm was places that interest you, count the miles as the map turning point, we took a left turn, leaving the south going to last at least three. comes alive and you discover the places your route behind and heading north now, towards the desolate may take you. When I’d been on tours before, I’d had interior. As we rode along together on the empty After a broken conversation over the big, steaming cast the luxury of choosing the destination and then the tarmac roads, the landscape started to change – we iron stove in the creaky wooden hut and an offering of schedule to suit. For this trip things were different, were leaving the coastal planes behind and started some very tasty fried rice with garlic and cashew nuts, it was the timeframe itself that was the spark – one to climb up towards the desert plateau. Long, green, we had a ride. A couple of workmen could give us a lift week. Where were we going to go, what did we want swaying grass started to give way to dead, still, grey to the edge of the desert while they were checking a to feel? As everything fell into place like a perfectly rock; the vast lava desert was opening up around us. fibre optic cable, something they have to do every five planned scientific experiment, all signs were pointing As we went higher the clouds came lower, hurtling years. We jumped up in the cab of their monster truck to Iceland. over our head. In the occasional breaks, a beam of and as an Icelandic version of ‘Rock’n Robin’ played sunlight would burn through, lighting up a bend of a over a crackly radio, we watched in sci-fi wonder as After a couple of days riding across the south towards river or a distant volcano. This new environment was they took it in turns to ride the six wheel quad across Hella, we’d travelled through some pretty atrocious far from what we knew or were used to. this lunar landscape, checking the weather hadn’t weather. It had gone from sunny and pleasant to exposed their cable. wet and windy pretty quickly. Both me and George By the 4th day our speed was down to 12km in two Marshall, who’d joined for the trip, had been watching hours. This well-planned trip to cross the interior in Reaching the northern edge of the plateau, having the weather charts in the weeks leading up to our five days was slipping away. We’d been blown off our caught up on time, we saddled up once again. flight – sun, pleasant breeze, dry. The next week – sun, bikes several times, had large unbridged glacial river Descending out of the harsh grey interior, dropping slight breeze, dry. Same the next. But as our flight came crossings to wade across, suffered multiple punctures away from the clouds, we finally had space over our closer we could see it was starting to turn, it doesn’t and, with the constant 40mph wind and stronger gusts, heads again. The monotone landscape we had become stay that good for that long in Iceland and as we even a simple task like removing your glove or jacket accustomed to, turned back to green, green grass; checked before boarding the flight, our concerns were was potentially dangerous, should the wind blow it horses grazed, there was civilisation again, pretty red coming true and we could see over the next few days, out of your grip. Although the air temperature wasn’t farm houses. This vast glacial valley was opening out the winds would pick up and the country would be too low, with winds this high the wind chill was in the in front of us like an idyllic amphitheatre and on our awash with heavy rain. minus figures and it wouldn’t take long without proper final evening, we hummed down the hard-packed road, protection before that wind chill would start to cause hand railing the stream to our right as the long dusk The thing with Iceland is, if you get some visibility serious problems. We were adapting and learning to settled in. The carnage that is the Icelandic interior the reward of what you witness is mind blowing. The survive in this environment on the fly. left behind us.
A Wanderer’s Life Beyond Compare It’s early March when we book a train to Geneva, because we cannot find an overnight train that will take us any further south. Touring the road graffiti of the Tour de France has been on our to-do list for six years, ever since our penchant for randonneur bikes began. Excited, I bought a map and hung it up in our living room, gliding my finger over it many times... “oh, there’s Mont Ventoux, and then it really isn’t far to the sea…”
WORDS - Hilde Porch
PHOTOS - René Zieger
A few months later, we step off the train and pedal through the clogged streets of Geneva and out of the city. We soon realise we had not overpacked and still have plenty of space for food, encountering diverse fromage de chèvre that quickly dominates our menu, as do the locally-grown fruit and vegetables.
maybe... We hesitate. Whatever. We set out. Not giving it a shot would be more annoying than rain.
with sign and bike. Mont Ventoux, 1911 metres. But no view. We quickly put on some warm clothes and go inside the souvenir shop to get warm. It’s a hell of plastic junk, jerseys, overpriced drinking bottles and other stuff. We buy 13 postcards.
Our daily routine. After the first two hours, or 20 km, or depending on when we see a boulangerie, we stop for a second morning coffee and of course, a sacristain, croissant, brioche, or baguette. I always thought the image of the French carrying a baguette under their arm was cliché, but it’s reality, of course. We too pack the ubiquitous baked goods into our panniers each day. Professional nutrition is a different matter, but fortunately, we are not professionals. With luggage, you don’t have to compete with the racing cyclists. Just making it to the top of any climb will earn you applause. “Courage, courage!” I hear so often. I can thank my luggage for this good feeling. After five days, René tells me, “look towards the right in the next corner”, I do and I am almost knocked out of my impractical vintage toeclips. There it is; the big, stately spread of Mont Ventoux, sitting like a walrus between little guppies, awaiting us the day after tomorrow. The next day we ride through Mollans-surOuvèze, which has more pretty houses, an old stone bridge. Everything idyllic as always. We climb towards Saint-Léger-du-Ventoux. The old walrus is getting closer and becoming more and more imposing.
Above us, a blanket of clouds clings to the summit. I made René promise not to keep telling me how many kilometres or hairpin bends we have left. Nothing discourages me more than counting down the We leave. Just two bends down, we go into a bar and kilometres and working out how fit my legs should feel. order two crêpes and two teas, but still there is no view. I reckon I would be a very bad racing cyclist. At that moment, the clouds part to reveal the valley. We ride on and see the preparation for a vintage car At the chalet, we reach 20 out of 26 km – unfortunately race at the chalet. A river of bikes is now flowing along I could still remember that figure. A banana. Some the road. I feel unbelievably fit, tired, relaxed, healthy water. Keep going. From now on, the road has an and happy. We did it. average gradient of 7%, an enormous sign ominously informs us. We reach the stone desert. It’s a desolate In the evening, we drink wine from the Ventoux region moonscape. My mother, who is a keen gardener, would – and not for the last time. Somehow the wine tastes not understand why we have ridden to this bleak good wherever you go. You cannot go wrong when you landscape. order it. “Deux rosé” — even I can say that. Inside, I am really glad to reach every hairpin. The first of the racers overtake me. The riders are now standing and stomping away at the pedals. The professionals are awake. René sometimes rides in front and sometimes behind, holding his camera ready to shoot. More clouds appear further up. The wind is strong. It is surprisingly cold. We cannot see the peak. It’s just as well I prefer to ride blind. What an uncanny place. Next to me, René suddenly cries out: “Hildeeeeeee! That’s it! The last hairpin!”
On the horizon, Mont Ventoux will continue to accompany us along our tour. However, the summit is no longer hidden by clouds. Perhaps I should go up there again, so I too can look down. I can’t believe I was up there. Every region deserves its own little story. Luberon, the Alpilles, Arles, the Carmague to the Mediterranean, back to the Cévennes, through the Ardeche Gorges, the Rhone Valley. Mont Ventoux… We covered a total of 1,700 kilometres without rushing and with breaks. Every region deserves its own little story.
“What, already?” The following day is Ventoux. The alarm clock goes off at 6 am. In Sault, we consult the grey rainy sky at 8 am. Mont Walrus is nowhere to be seen and somehow everything remains grey apart from a few holes in the sky. The weather should break towards the afternoon...
So what is left? The burning desire to pack our bags “Oh, no, it’s the one after this one. Now! We made it!” and set off again. It is 10:23 am and we are at the top. The grey mist is cold on our faces. Right, a quick photo. The summit
“Ni haipa ma?” Are you scared? For years Eleanor Moseman has let her inspiring photos draw attention to the daily life of regular people in far away lands. As much anthropological as artistic, the bond she shares with the subjects of her photography elevate her images from mere observation to, in their entirety, a powerful statement about global humanity, peace, and the possibilities inherent through open-minded cycle travel.
WORDS - Eleanor Moseman
PHOTO - Eleanor Moseman
As a woman traveling through Asia alone, specifically into remote and desolate areas of China, my gender is often the most obvious aspect of my identity. I have spent more 5 years cycling, trekking, hitching, and exploring Asia and have had nearly every part of my body touched, rubbed, groped, or grabbed by uninvited hands. Catching eyes on a train platform or across a police captain’s desk, assuming I’m oblivious and naive to the wolf in the guise of a sheep. (A police captain in the Gobi of China once told me I couldn’t camp in the desert because of the wolves. The only wolf witnessed was the one telling me this fearful tale, wearing the uniform of an officer.) Fear is used to control and I refuse to allow anyone, or anything, to exert power over my life choices. Gender is not a valid reason to abstain from exploring the world cultures or myself. The risks have always been worth the personal reward found at the end of an adventure. My life choices may be easier and deemed more socially acceptable were I born a man, but that’s not a choice and never was.
I’ve discovered capabilities and resilience that would never have been found if I hadn’t constantly pushed personal boundaries while crossing regions, foreign borders, mountain ranges, deserts, and continents. Surely I’m not a professional explorer or adventurer, but more likely a professional at failures. Those downtrodden moments when I’m screaming at the heavens in fury, panic, fear, or confusion questioning every movement and choice up to the moment – when I’ve nearly lost all faith in myself – is when an adventure reveals its purpose. One purpose has, and will always be, more than just about altitudes, miles, or countries. It’s about what I learn about myself and place in this mystical, wonderful and often chaotic world.
leading a mindful and proactive life while fueling love for the world, others and self. This knowledge I obtain from a life on the road is something that I seek out for personal reasons, but feel that it should be shared with others that may not have the good fortune to travel the way so few of us can.
Voices from women travelers still remain a minority. Although our travelogues have been around as long as men’s, have only recently been gaining a mass audience among a general population. (My Journey From Lhasa by Alexandra David-Neel sits to my side, For the preservation of my true self, of soul, heart and published in 1927.) We offer an alternative view, a mind, I have learned to separate my physical presence sometimes very emotional monologue, to our male and identity from who I truly am. After uncomfortable traveling comrades. I have been allowed to play with incidents, I have looked at my body as if parts were children unsupervised, infants are tossed into my arms now diseased, tainted, or just as some strange alien for my care, or so often invited to the ever-popular extension of my physical presence. Perhaps if I were dance party with Muslim women behind closed doors. to dismember myself I wouldn’t have to bear being Women divulge their secrets to me, their hopes and tormented by strangers, or even those that have dreams, their sadness and despair. Even when language feigned friendship, who think it’s appropriate to invade barriers mean I don’t always understand every word, my physical being. nevertheless as women we understand one another.
A hoped-for outcome of my travels, photography and writing has always been to inspire someone, perhaps a young girl, to pursue her dreams however difficult they may seem. Whether it’s a girl from a small Chinese village that has motivation to study English or a young woman from the States that just can’t seem to find where she fits into modern society. The inner journey takes precedent over the gear, route, mileage, or any statistics, as this isn’t a performance of heroism or endurance. It’s about the highs and the lows, the peaks and valleys, of a journey and where it leads me. Epiphanies and new questions come and go as constant as the tides of the sea and as steady as the symphonies of glaciers. We all know that it takes a little crazy to travel alone by bicycle, foot, or whatever means for months, years, or indefinitely. Perhaps my stories are an invite for all weirdos, misfits, outcasts, lone huntresses to find their unique path and ride onward with conviction, love, and passion. That route has been created just for you.
A woman that travels alone should not bring to mind the idea of fear or danger. We have obstacles men may never face while sometimes our journey is less difficult People continually ask me why I do it, after reading my My story is different from men’s, and from that of many because men and women want to help that lonesome tales of near rape, threats to my life, weeks of hunger, other tourists who come through China. I’ve lived in weary woman on the road where the destination is only loss of sanity, and other situations that have invited China for more than seven years and speak enough to be discovered by her. fleeting moments of fear. Why? Because these are of the language to have an understanding of people momentary, brief, the unusual. More often I am greeted and culture. The motivation behind my endeavours So, to answer the question with which I opened: No. I with care, friendship and love from strangers who have is simple curiosity. There is a craving of knowledge am not scared. Not living my life the way I want to, is become friends and family for a lifetime. about people, cultures, customs, environments and the only thing I fear. through these discoveries I’ve found inspiration for
Metropolitan Detours The Brooks Metropolitan Detours is a new project, a collection of routes shared from the viewpoint of select individuals in select cities. Their purpose is to motivate us to remember the fairest side of cycling – discovery. The Cycle Bags that form the Brooks Metropolitan range were created to be the perfect companions for such immaterial restoration; cycling routes to inspire and unwind, even if only for a short time in the midst of a busy day.
WORDS - Bregan Koenisgseker
PHOTOS - Pablo Garcia
The new Brooks Metropolitan range inspired by this undertaking, as like all Brooks Cycle Bags, they are designed for use both on-and-off the bike. Made from the organic cotton and vulcanised rubber, they contain features to help you carry everything you need for your ride, without compromising your style.
these often described as grey buildings. Berlin is great to just try out different routes.” For Stalinist architecture and probably one of the most beautiful sunsets looking straight at the Fernsehturm (TV Tower), he recommends riding along the Frankfurter Allee.
off-duty activities, i.e. the pub. The sense of possibility is what he loves about London: “If you’ve got ambition and drive there’s nothing to stop you. You can achieve anything as long as you’re persistent and believe in yourself.”
Together with 15 cycling urbanites from London, New York and Berlin we curated paths to explore the city and discover new experiences. These detours take no longer than 60 minutes, and could enliven your navigational palette for future excursions.
Another New Yorker, Geoff Cook, is a design consultant, partner in the pre-eminent branding agency, Base Design. Cook can often be seen riding his pale green Brompton to meet with his clients. Geoff suggests: “Start the day right with a ride across one of the city’s most iconic structures. Unlike the woodplanked, tourist-ridden Brooklyn Bridge, the paved bike lane of the Manhattan Bridge arrives at a scenic overlook at the apex, providing a perfect spot to bask in the morning sun and take in sweeping views of both Manhattan and Brooklyn.”
New Yorker, Kyle Ford, is a modern bon vivant. Residing in Manhattan, he is the co-owner of the Ford Mixology Lab, a cocktail consultancy. In addition, promotes the spirited life via Collectif 1806, a nation-wide community of craft bartenders. Kyle is recognized by the United States Bartenders Guild as a Spirits Professional is certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers. An award-winning mixologist, Kyle has been featured on VH1, Good Day LA, Fox & Friends, and in the Wall Street Journal. He’s also contributed recipes to publications such as Vogue, Wine Enthusiast, Nylon, SOMA and American Way. Naturally his tour takes in special stops related to food and drink, among them Cocktail Kingdom, a modern mixologist’s onestop shop for premium bar tools, glassware, ingredients. You might even get to peruse their massive collection of vintage cocktail books. David Hellqvist is a menswear writer and stylist living and working in London. He is the Fashion Features Herbert Muller is an animator whose detours are very editor of Port Magazine and Fashion Director of intuitive depending on his mood and part of the day. Avaunt Magazine. Born in Sweden, David has lived in “Sometimes I just follow the sun when I leave work London for the last 15 years. Drawn in by the cultural from Friedrichshain to Wedding, where I live. Maybe landscape, it was the music scene and fashion industry I will ride through the Plattenbauten of former East that made him stay. For the majority of his time in Berlin, just to see the reflection of the sun setting on London he has lived - and cycled - around the East all the windows. It creates such a beautiful vibe in End, which has taken him safely to both work and
“Sometimes I just leave work and follow the sun ”
David recommends a stop by Parkland Walk, which seems to be a kept secret for local residents. “It’s a green seam running along a disused railway line, including the bridges and disused platforms. You hop on at Finsbury Park, and when you slide off, you’re in the heart of Highgate.” Florence Kennedy is the founder of Petalon, a bicyclebased flower delivery service. “five years ago my husband, James, bought me a bicycle for Christmas. The prospect of cycling the streets of London terrified me, but now I had a bike, the only thing stopping me was fear, and that’s a poor excuse. James chaperoned all my journeys to and from the office for the first week, helping me get a sense of the city, the roads, and how everything knitted together. After that I was hooked. A couple of years ago I started Petalon, a flower delivery company delivering bouquets by bicycle across the capital.” “The end of a day of deliveries can sometimes be tough and tiring, and you long for a fast and direct route home to hot food and a comfy sofa. But treats make me detour. Delicious food, scenery, a pint in the sunshine with a mate skiving early from work are all worth a rambling route home. If I finish up in Kensington and I have a long ride back home, then I’m very susceptible to a detour.” To learn more about Brooks Metropolitan Detours visit www.brooksengland.com/metropolitan
Bike Snob on Perseverance
Cycling blogs form the cornerstone of our opinion-led media, and an uncountable number of their ilk have come and gone since their emergence on the scene. These writers, ‘citizen journalists’ even, exist at a mid-point between the individual and the great edifices of the media – they are uniquely trusted by the man in the street, in a way that regular media can no longer claim to be. We asked one of our favourites to give insight into his success. WORDS - Eben Weiss
About nine years ago I started a blog called Bike Snob NYC. I assumed when I typed words into it and hit “publish” they’d just vanish into the void and that would be that. Instead, to my surprise, comments began to appear.
my chance, and I was determined to give it everything- other than cycling, or being in any way interesting to -just as long as it wasn’t a weekend or a holiday anyone but the most terminal bike weenie. of course. However, when used properly the bicycle isn’t an As I saw it, if I could be a mediocre bike racer then escape so much as an enhancement, and cycling can there was no reason I couldn’t make it as a mediocre improve your life in innumerable ways. Metaphysically People were actually reading it. bike blogger too. speaking, it helps you sort things out. The solutions to problems you’ve been mulling over for days I was amazed and delighted. In fact, discovering people Even more fortunately, I also had a deep reservoir of miraculously present themselves as you settle into a were reading my blog ranks right up there with some of inspiration, for my subject was cycling. The safety rhythm on the climb. From a practical standpoint, the best moments of my life. It’s the sort of elation you bicycle is only 120 years old or so, yet in that time the using a bicycle for errands or commuting or family feel when the home pregnancy test comes up positive. seemingly infinite variety of ways in which we operate outings simplifies your life while at the same time (Or the sort of elation you feel when it’s negative, as them has come to mirror the entire spectrum of human making it exponentially more enjoyable than rolling the case may be.) behavior. The bicycle is the most ubiquitous form of around town in a Hyundai. And then there are the transportation on the planet, yet at the same time it obvious physical benefits – unless you take things too At the same time, I was a little bit worried. When you can be one of the most rarefied. Cycling is the closest far and start racing, at which point the whole fitness find you’re going to become a parent, it dawns on you we can get to the sensation of flying without leaving thing doubles over on itself and you wind up emaciated, after the initial burst of joy that you’re going to have the ground (drugs excluded), yet at the same time it in constant pain and walking like a crab. to feed this thing somehow. It’s the same thing with a grounds us by forcing us to confront the matter of our blog. You’ve got an audience. Good for you. Now you’re own mortality. We use bikes to get around, we use Besides mentoring me through blogging and providing going to have to feed this thing somehow. them to make deliveries, we use them for sport and we me with an inexaustible subject as a writer, cycling even use them to make political statements – mostly has also put me at peace with my often irritating (Then there’s the comments section, which is like a by riding them naked. Indeed, in its utter simplicity surroundings. I couldn’t imagine living in New York dirty diaper. Though one might argue it’s the blogger the bicycle is the ideal vehicle with which to express City without cycling. It’s the perfect way to get around who’s more like a dirty diaper, since we’re both full of ourselves. It is endlessly versatile, the perfect twothe metropolis and it’s also the perfect way to escape it. the same thing.) wheeled tabula rasa, ready and willing to receive any impression we wish to make upon it. Cycling, like anything worthwhile, rewards dedication. Fortunately I had a deep reservoir of experience from It does this by revealing your world to you. Wherever which to draw. Not blogging experience, but cycling Only a machine this brilliantly efficient could receive a you live, the landscape is like a record. A bicycle is experience. Specifically, I knew the importance creature as inept as a triathlete yet still function. the stylus that will coax the music out of its grooves, of dedication. whereas driving your Hyundai everywhere is like It’s easy to dismiss cycling as a mere escape. Consider rubbing it with a ham sandwich. See, in terms of being a writer I’d finally opened up the species known as the MAMIL, or “middle-aged a gap, and as a cyclist I knew that when there’s some man in Lycra”. To all outward appearances he is fleeing So toss the sandwich, dedicate yourself and enjoy air between you and the rest of the pack you’ve got his responsibilities, his dignity, and most of all his wife, the music. to put your head down and commit. I also knew that astride his carbon fiber Fred sled. And yes, there is the if you ease up too much you’ll slip right off the back. danger that overindulgence in such frivolous cycling So I resolved to blog every day. (Well, every weekday can make you deficient in other areas, such as staying excluding holidays, but you get the point.) This was up past 8pm, holding conversations about anything
This is not a Tour
Rider-led racing grew out of the World Cycle Race and its ethos is to bring racing back to where it was over a century ago: when riders challenged each other over impossibly long distances and without the support and conveniences associated with today’s racing. Gone are the team cars, the Death Stars and the gourmet energy bars, and in their place is the simple joy of the pursuit. One man only has led the way to this new reality - Mike Hall. WORDS - Mike Hall
Five years ago I entered my first bikepacking race, a race quite unlike anything else I had encountered. It wasn’t just any race either; the Tour Divide is possibly the ‘queen stage’ of Bikepacking races. It is also claimant to the title of world’s longest mountain bike race.
Could this disconnect be a symptom of a widespread culture of convenience which seeks to remove physical effort from our lives without forethought and replace it with a packaged commodity sold back to us? One where sport must either have a point, be a profession or a business interest to be credible. Otherwise it should be a leisure activity and its assets resigned to toys. Its easy to see in such world that voluntary physical activity taken to such an extreme and without compensation would be viewed as alien or perverse and requiring explanation.
The route itself follows the continental divide and was originally prospected for the touring cyclist. For many who take to the start line on the ‘Grand Depart’ it is still first and foremost an adventure, but out front it is absolutely and unquestionably a race. The record stands a few minutes shy of 14 and a half days, and last year’s first three finishers were separated by just 40 minutes. Somewhere through the pack the mentality changes though. Whether one is racing or touring is largely a mind state and the line is often blurred. Touring many people can understand, but the motivation to race such a distance can provoke questions, particularly when there is no apparent reward. Questions of why, for any endeavour, I struggle with. This may be, in part, because I feel so ill-equipped to articulate it concisely to those who have no notion. It may also have something to do with the exasperation I feel that the question should need asking at all. To me the reason is self evident and the obvious but unhelpful retort is “why wouldn’t you?”. For some, whether it’s 250m of wooden boards or more than 2,700 miles of Continental Divide, racing is reason enough. The response “for sport” alone seems a flimsy one, yet to me it should be enough. Is questioning the pursuit of any sporting challenge not akin to questioning the notion of sport itself? Should the racer bear the burden of this justification? Central to sport after all is that it’s a game, and fundamentally pointless. Therein lies its beauty.
The question of why racing versus touring was given a more poignant form for me on the day I finished the World Cycle Race. A journalist with a particular interest in cycling wrote a piece in the Guardian bike blog entitled exactly that; ‘Cycling around the world, Great, but why race?’ I can appreciate some of the author’s points, but one of the main assumptions is there is only a choice between leisurely pasttime or an industry, and there is no room or reason in between for a sporting bet struck between amateurs for the sheer sake of curiosity and an interesting life. By now this question has come to me in numerous forms, more often than not as “wouldn’t you enjoy it more if you slowed down a bit?” Over the years I have ruminated on a more detailed response, perhaps introspectively on the odd long ride, but largely the answer comes down to the same; “not really, no”. I wonder if anyone asked Stirling Moss after he won the Mille Miglia in 1955 whether he wouldn’t have enjoyed it a bit more had he slowed down to appreciate the Tuscan hills, or stop by at the Campo in Siena to watch the world go by with a few slices of Pecorino and a glass of Chianti? Likewise did anyone suggest to Juan Manuel Fangio on his way to victory at the 1950 Monaco Grand prix that maybe he could park up at
Cassino and play a few games of roulette and chat to the locals? Probably not. I would not like to draw personal comparisons with such illustrious figures of history. I mean more to illustrate how we are influenced to perceive sport and how what counts as legitimate sport is closely coupled to our cliched perception of what success is, one that is only read at the bottom line. I also wish to counter the premise that one cannot enjoy intensely one’s surroundings adequately whilst expending ones self. Indeed I’ll go further and assert that the effort of climbing a mountain or crossing a continent serves only to enhance its delights and majesty in a manner no leisurely wanderings can approach. Racing the divide has been a transformative experience for me in so many ways and in some way has touched almost everything I have done since. The trail might take the body to the physical place; covering vast distances through wild open and desolate landscapes alive with wildlife and changing before your eyes. The race however, the thrill of the chase, the potent cocktail of adrenaline, endorphins, fatigue, sleep deprivation, stress and finally relief takes the mind to quite another. The personal satisfaction, confidence and empowerment from the achievement lasts a lifetime. For me this combination is untouchable. This is why, for now at least, you can keep your nice, your leisurely and your convenience and if it comes to it, you can also keep your professional sports. This is not a tour and no, I do not want to slow down because I really don’t think I could possibly enjoy any more than I do.
Escape Routes Where do your ideas for cycling adventures begin? I imagine, like me, you have a concept for a themed trip or a particular place, before picking up maps of the region and highlighting the most intriguing routes and points of interest? This time was different. After randomly finding two amazing old OS Second Series maps in a Hay-on-Wye antique shop, I lost myself in their place names, their rugged coastlines and, especially, the one intriguing track winding its way across them. I needed to escape there on the bike…
WORDS - Stefan Amato
PHOTO - Harry Engels
I’m a map hoarder. They all sit on the over-stacked shelf, just above the over-stacked collection of bikes. The reason I have so many maps isn’t just because I enjoy seeking out enticing roads to ride and places to discover off the bike, but simply because I will always pick one up of everywhere I go (or plan to go, one day). For two reasons: to better understand the route and surroundings, and a deep-rooted fear of missing out on the special places or tracks you can only spot on a 1:50,000 map.
I was ready for a quick break in Hay-on-Wye, having just ridden over Gospel Pass that morning, in the midst of a tour through the Black Mountains. The ‘town of books’ and its myriad of independent cafes and quirky shops to explore makes for the perfect touring stop-off. Given the imminent contour crossing, I could have done without added cargo, but when I stumbled across those two old 1971-75 OS Second Series* 1:25,000 maps on a dusty shelf of the antique shop I had to make an exception; I had to have the two maps. They weren’t just any old maps, they were the two most northwesterly sheets of the UK: Cape Wrath (Sheet NC 27/37) and Kyle of Durness (Sheet NC 26/36) which sat together, plotting the 18km track up to northnorthwest Scotland and her remote, wild surrounds.
The best bike journeys are simple; not easy, but simple. I convinced Will from Brother Cycles to join me in May 2016, and what we planned from these two old maps is a perfect example: head up to north Scotland on the sleeper train, ride the track, head south on the Cape Wrath trail, before riding back to catch the sleeper train home. These maps marked the beginning of our latest cycling adventure. With a map and loaded touring bike as tools, we had all the freedom we could ever needed. The only critical things that could really stump us on this trip to north-west Scotland were the ferry crossing across the Kyle of Durness, and any military training action at Cape Wrath**.
When I was young, getting the map out was a real ‘dad’ thing to do – “what road did you take?” or “how high were we when we stopped for those soggy egg sandwiches that time?” But now, a healthy map collection is key: used maps serve as a record of bike journeys to date while the many others serve as inspiration for future escape routes; you never know when you might need a map of the arse-end-ofnowhere on the shelf for when the wanderlust kicks in. Now I am convinced that getting lost in a map marks the beginning of any cycling adventure: planning a route; checking out the terrain and topography; seeking potential overnight camping spots; and any particular details, like restocking supplies or ferry crossings.
In the early 1970s, these OS Second Series maps were formalised into 20km x 10km sheets, making a collection of 1,400-ish that covered the UK. At 1:25,000 these maps were “of great value to walkers, cyclists…and others who require maps for the study of the countryside in more detail”. As maps go, they are beautiful; it is all too easy to get lost in their detail. I was inspired, and eager to ride the contour-bound track: crossing the Kearvig river; finding and brewing a coffee at the jetty on the rugged coastline at Clais When I look to escape on the bike, I like to head out of Charnach; wild camping by Loch na Seamraig; maybe my comfort zone, but that is not everyone’s cup of tea. I ditching the bikes to climb up to the 535m summit of also don’t feel the urge to travel to the other side of the Dùnan Mòr. From an idea of a route, it is then a case world to escape, but that is the cup of choice for many. of working backwards: checking distances, terrain, and Whatever tea you’re drinking, a map is the ultimate time expectations; deciding when the best time of year device for escape, and the wheels start rolling once the to go is; planning how to get to x and back from y; maps are spread over a table. The visualising of the deciding what bike setup and touring kit will be best for journey ahead begins. Digital maps aren’t the same; I the terrain; deciding whether to plan any off-the-bike struggle to get lost in a digital map. pursuits and what gear that adds to the kitlist; scouting where might be good to stop each evening; and the plan B’s.
The unknown is what I look forward to on this next Pannier adventure - we’ll have to see what The Cape and her wild surrounds throw our way. One thing is for sure; we’ll have the two old maps to hand. *The ‘Second Series’ maps were later rebranded to Pathfinder, and have now been superseded by the OS Explorer series. **A large amount of land around Cape Wrath is owned by the MOD. So, check before travelling. Stefan is founder of pannier.cc | a cycle touring resource for travelling cyclists.
Cycling and Journalism Like cycling itself, the world of journalism has gone through many changes in the past decades. Today, online media is the frontline for news on products and racing, and it must be hard for the young to imagine that for a very long time such information was only available monthly, on the printed page, and even then one might have to settle for something in another language. Timothy John flips through the pages of yesteryear.
WORDS - Timothy John
PHOTO - Chris Auld
Cast your mind back to the soft ‘thunk’ of cycling journal landing on doormat, and all the happiness that it would bring. Or perhaps dashing to the newsagent was more your thing: the joyful collection of a carefully reserved copy, name neatly stenciled in some unobtrusive corner.
daily. “Even then, it wasn’t overnight couriers,” Poole remembers. “It was sticking a bloke on a train from the Alps or wherever.”
be considered typical of the era: it is not until page 28 that a rider interview offers some divergence from the closely-typed results columns.
The full-colour centre spread was the highlight of Winning’s weekly Tour edition: a huge, fold-out image of Gert-Jan Theunisse racing side-by-side with Pedro Delgado, for example.
Despite the recent proliferation of titles, Poole says the commercial market remains highly competitive, with advertisers now enjoying greater choice, both in print and from online and social media channels.
“The clever bit was that by the end of the day on a Monday, we’d have everything designed and ready to ‘go to bed’,” Poole remembers. “We’d print on Tuesday, and by Wednesday we were on sale in the UK. The reason it went on sale on a Wednesday was to beat the Weekly.”
He believes that race-oriented titles will face the greatest challenge, with reports and results available instantly online and the websites of the ProTeams offering a fix of Continental glamour. Additionally, cycling’s new cohort is more likely to ride in gran fondos than to race.
We live in a so-called digital age, but when it comes to printed cycling publications - for the UK road market in particular - the reader hasn’t had it so good since the 1980s. Some of the best have flourished (the revered Rouleur celebrates its 10th anniversary this year), while others have quickly become established.
“Everybody still loves magazines,” says James Poole, one of the three founders of Pro Cycling magazine, who now runs Sports Press International but his history Cycling Weekly, as its name suggests, was another that with cycle publishing began a quarter of a century ago published Tour updates throughout the race, and a title with the now defunct Winning magazine. “They are not to which we’ll return. dead by any means.” For Winning, the end came around 1995/96, Poole Winning’s halcyon period came in the late 1980s and recalls, and by then the publisher had Triathlete early 1990s, he says, when the 10 issues it published magazine: one published in six different languages. annually would each sell around 40,000 copies. He left in 1998 to found Pro Cycling with editors Jeremy Whittle and William Fotheringham, in a For the UK fan, it was like gazing into another world, challenging period for a sport recently engulfed by as shown by those images from the collection of replica the Festina scandal. clothing specialist, Prendas Ciclismo. In an age before digital television and YouTube clips, Winning was the The Weekly, already long-established, offered a British rider’s only sustained fix of Continental exotica, counterpoint to Winning, in editorial focus as well as barring a nightly, 30-minute summary of the day’s Tour frequency. While Winning gave its readers a monthly action on the fledgling terrestrial station, Channel 4. hit of Continental exotica, available elsewhere only through subscriptions to the Italian Bicisport or During the Tour, Winning upped the ante too, the Francophone Miroir du Cyclisme, “the Comic”, producing a weekly title that would sell around 45,000 as it is still affectionately known, offered a stolidly copies. Poole remembers them as “fun, but a nightmare British outlook. at the same time.” Journalists would read stories over the phone to copytakers in Winning’s headquarters Domestic race reports and results were the Weekly’s in Brussels, while camera film would be fetched back bread-and-butter content, and a copy from 1989 might
“The new breed of cyclist probably doesn’t feel that they need the exotic approach that we had in the late 1980s and 1900s, when you were hungry to find out about obscure French and Italian names,” Poole says. “A lot of people will get their hit from Team Sky.” Perhaps class will tell. The feel of the printed page is hard to replicate, and titles that prioritise quality over quantity, sheer indulgence over mere information, might deal better with the threat of the internet’s pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap approach. Quality is not impossible online - see the Yarak.cc site of Bugle contributor Jered Gruber - but it is rare. Me? As a cycling addict and writer, I’ll continue to absorb the cycling media in its many forms: the new and the old. It will take an excellent title, however, to replicate the privileged view of Continental road racing offered by Winning in the late 1980s. But perhaps this is only nostalgia on my part. Excuse me while I wipe my rose-tinted spectacles.
A Bugle to Celebrate
Our 150th anniversary would not be complete without some mention of history. This is a subject for which there are few official caretakers, companies not normally making a habit of chronicling their past, but manufacturing and selling products for the present and planning for the future. WORDS - Bregan Koenigseker
Some of you may already be well-acquainted with how Brooks became the iconic presence it is today, but for those who might not know all the details, we would like to share a bit of company history from the perspective of those working here today. Leather goods, saddles famously among them, have issued under the Brooks Name continuously since 1866. This staggering fact is worth pondering; it is a living testament to the timeless ingenuity of company founder John Boultbee Brooks, and the culture of the brand that he created. J.B. Brooks first opened a workshop producing harness and tackle for horses, but famously filed his first patent for a bicycle saddle in 1882. As the story was handed down through the Brooks Family and related to us through one of its surviving members, this event was preceded by the death of his horse, and thereafter trying a newfangled bicycle and finding its seat uncomfortable. Brooks eventually grew astonishingly large and diversified, producing much more than saddles, and at its height occupied many buildings along Great Charles Street in Birmingham. Brooks grew to become the largest manufacturer of saddles in the world and remnants of the original factory buildings can be seen today. Brooks continues to produce leather saddles and accessories from the nearby works in Smethwick. Mr. Brooks, a voracious Victorian industrialist, set about with great ambition to establish the company as a formidable brand based on a clear identity and some very well made products. Beginning in the 1880s, each year he produced a catalogue, ‘The Brooks Book’, a prospectus whose pages not only contained an overview of each year’s products, but were doubly executed in an inspiring and creative manner as to leave no doubt regarding the values and passion behind their creator. Through a mix of illustrations, creative interludes, graphic design and product descriptions, JB clearly showed himself to have been an early master of branding, at a time before the basic concepts of marketing had yet to be academically explored. Within its pages a reader would find a dizzying array of products adapted to the bicycle: such as cigar holders, rifle mounts and golf bags – not to mention more “typical”
bags and saddles of every shape, size, and construction method imaginable. The existence of the Brooks Book came as a very interesting surprise to those tasked with reinvigorating the brand in the present day, and we proceeded to search for and collect an archive dating back to 1888. Respecting the past and the traditions of the company are a facet of working at Brooks and these books provide a window to look at the company at various stages in its development.
“J.B. Brooks first opened a workshop producing harness and tackle for horses, but famously filed his first patent for a bicycle saddle in 1882” Onward through Brooks History. The Brooks Family sold the brand in the late 1950s to the Raleigh group, where it remained until the arrival of the new millennium. Finally in 2001 upon the dissolution of Raleigh, Brooks was saved from bankruptcy by Pashley Bicycles of Stratford-upon-Avon, and subsequently purchased by the Selle Royal group, a family-owned corporation ironically responsible for the innovation of mass-produced foam and gel saddles which led to
the decline of the market Brooks had dominated for so long. Selle Royal formed a team to reinvigorate the brand at a time when production had reached an alltime low. In no small way did the Brooks Book archives help shape and inspire the course taken to reach the present day, dedicating our efforts to distinguish the name Brooks as different from all else. Although ownership of the Brooks trade name has changed hands three times, and in spite of various relocations and expansions of the manufacturing premises over the decades, the company continues to trade upon its heritage and custom. Traditional production techniques and long-proven skills in leatherworking are kept alive by subsequent generations of expert craftsmen and craftswomen, as Brooks continues to supply all manner of designs of saddles, luggage and sundry accessories, containing the DNA of its many forebears, inspired by a rich company history of innovative design and highest quality manufacture. Each Brooks Leather Saddle is still made in the UK factory today, from leather sourced from the best of Europe’s hides. And despite trends in the industry to the contrary, Brooks are committed to keeping it this way. Furthermore, nearly all Brooks Products are produced otherwise in Europe, at facilities we visit regularly and by craftsman we know by name. Our job began as custodians, careful not to change the fundamental character of the brand, but to modernise it. Not to repeat or mimic too closely the output of those who came before us, but to incorporate their spirit as if they were here with us today. It is a delicate balancing act to stand at the nexus of market forces, a devoted public and a storied legacy – but it is exactly these considerations that occupy the daily management of the company as we seek to guide it successfully through a third century. Now, as ever before, sparing neither trouble nor expense to maintain this enviable position. Whatever the century.
Dealer of the Year
Owner of Velonauta in Zurich, Alberto Friedrich wasborn (in 1972) and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Bicycles have always played a big role in his life, riding BMX in his neighborhood in the early days, later on he and his friends spent their time touring and bikepacking with his mountain bike through the Patagonian Andes. After his studies, he entered the corporate world where he moved to London and then Hamburg before ending up in Zürich. Velonauta was established in 2010 and is located in the historic “Viaduktbögen” in western Zürich. They offer beautiful bicycles and unique accessories together with excellent customer service and knowledge. It caters to people who are looking for beautifully made bicycles, outside of the classic bicycle shop focused on price or technology at the expense of beauty. In the end, it is about bringing together people for a coffee or small talk to share in a passion for the bicycle. Of course they choose to stock Brooks, because Brooks perfectly matches the DNA, passion and atmosphere of the shop, from the traditional leather saddles to the brand new Metropolitan line of bags. At Velonauta, the customers can experience the Brooks World.
15 Jolanta Jones joined the Brooks team in November 2012 as a Saddle Packer. She has a happy, bubbly personality and so very quickly settled in and made friends from within the workforce. Jolanta is a fast and efficient member of the Packing Department with an excellent attendance record. More recently, Jolanta has shown versatility in her work. She is one of the key contributors to the success of the production process development of the Brooks leather “B-Bag” range. There was a lot of behindthe-scenes hard and painstaking work involved in perfecting the techniques and methods for producing these bags so it was important to keep a dogged persistence in order to achieve a great outcome. She is now one of the main operators of the Cambium Saddle assembly that takes places within the Smethwick Works. Congratulations to Jolanta!
Worker of the Year
The Toothbrush William Addis, London, 1780
The Leather Saddle John Boultbee Brooks, Birmingham, 1882
In a world full of products soon to be obsolete, unfashionable, or no longer functional, Britain has a long history of iconic inventions. Brooks Saddles have been moulding to the contours of cyclists since cycling began, and continue to do so for the very good reason that leather is a remarkably suitable material for bicycle saddles. Breathable and durable, with flexible, hammock-like performance for natural, all-day comfort. Brooks Saddles. The Best for Riding, Whatever the Century.