With political turmoil and the sad death of some of the greats of the music, art and entertainment world, 2016 seemed a bit bleak at times. But, as HG Wells once said, “Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair of the future of the human race.” So, while the year had its tricky moments, we were lucky enough at Ride Velo to see plenty of adults (and children) on bikes as well as ride a few ourselves. Here are some of our highlights of the year.
Carlton Kirby on Eurosport
The Alan Partridge of the cycling world, Kirby or The Language Mangler as he’s sometimes called, is the inventor of the term ‘Kirbyism’. He was a constant source of entertainment throughout the year and we were lucky enough to meet him at the Eurosport headquarters in Feltham. He gave us a fascinating insight into life on the road with Sean Kelly as he follows the Tour and Vuelta. A few of our favourite Kirbyisms of the year:
"Movistar, the men with the big green ‘M’ which, when they’re in a line like this, says ‘MMMMM’."
"Shaken, but how stirred he is is anybody’s guess."
"Go, go Gogl! You can see the T-shirts now!"
"Sheep droppings make amazing hand grenades."
"It twists and turns like an angry serpent and someone might just get bitten."
"Contador keeps flicking the elbow out like a dodgy dad dance."
There really is only one channel when it comes to watching any bike race when Carlton’s on Comms. Make sure you’re tuned into the Home of Cycling when Froome et al start attacking in 2017.
Tour de Celeb
Other great TV moments were watching Louis Spence of ‘Strictly’ fame training and competing for the Etape du tour on Channel 5’s ‘Tour de Celeb’. His expletive, “Big Fat Vagina Lips,” as he failed to unclip from his pedals for the nth time was hilarious as was Austin Healey’s pronouncement that the Etape is so dangerous, “there’s a strong chance you could get seriously injured…or even die!”
Eroica Britannia in Derbyshire was nearly a wash out. Thankfully the rain held off for most of the weekend even if the festival site was a quagmire. David Millar, draped himself over Maseratis looking debonair and sophisticated while Chris Boardman judged the fancy dress in his wellies. The cycle jumble was a bike lover’s paradise and the ride itself was beautiful.
We had great fun bike shopping before the event, picking up a gorgeous vintage Bianchi in the wilds of Essex which Digger from Look Mum No Hands helped us to put into working order for the event. Meanwhile Ellie had the luxury and comfort of her Light Blue Saint Johns which, while new, met the pre 1987 requirements. How does that work then?
Not long after we skipped across the North Sea to Holland where we took part in Eroica Limburg. This cross border escapade on the rutted roads into Belgium, Germany and back into the Netherlands had all the vintage bike lover could want and more. More intimate than Britannia there was the opportunity to meet some cycling greats like Jan Jannsen and Marc Lotz.
Staying on the retro vintage theme, we had a ball on the Tweed Run. Rather like being an extra on a period movie set, we immersed ourselves into role on this civilized affair with plenty of refreshment stops on the way. Tickets were tricky to snuffle out so make sure you get in early for the 2017 event. If you’ve never done it, this is an absolute must!
We hot-footed it over to The City under the shadow of St Paul’s to watch some light hearted as well as serious bike racing. The boys from Lios won the fiercely competitive fold up bike race while the penny farthing race made great watching as did the Boris Bike race. Later in the evening young Hannah Barnes smashed the field in the women’s. What a great event!
We’ve had our fair share of kit sent our way to review. Reynolds shoes were all the rage in the Ride Velo household as we went all retro for a while. David Smith has just invented the first ever Goodyear Welted racing shoe. Beat that! They look pretty cool too.
Lumo wowed us with their stylish bags and jackets. They light up at night at the flick of a switch but you wouldn’t know it as the LED lights are cleverly hidden in the seam. Cool urban wear for the style conscious rider.
When the steel bike became a bit wearisome it was time to whizz about on the De Rosa and Merckx but we needed some cool road kit to go with them. Café du Cycliste were,to my mind, the most stylish apparel manufacturers out there. Rivals to Rapha’s crown, their stuff ain’t cheap, but the quality and looks are right up there with the best. We were lucky enough to meet founder, Remi at his Café cum store in Nice in the spring. Great shop, lovely guy, fantastic kit.
When it comes to bikes, it was our visit to the Passoni atelier in Milan that had us salivating. Beautiful titanium frames hand made in Italy. Wow. Sadly no freebies here, but we continue to persevere! On the other end of the scale we took some Foffa bikes out for some fun urban riding and a retro photo shoot that had our Instagram account pinging like crazy.
We got a bit experimental with something called a Halfbike – a weird but surprisingly fun invention that had the skaters and BMX boys scratching their heads when we took it to the Level in Brighton. This was a weird experience as you have to learn how to ride a bike all over again. Once you get the hang of it though, you’re flying and you feel like a kid again. Worth a try!
We came across Eliza Southwood on a few occasions where she was touting her amazing artwork. Her book, The Cyclist's Bucket List was one of the cutest things we saw all year. But we had most fun with her at the wine tasting held by Tour de France sponsors Cono Sur where we had a go at painting our own masterpieces.
Tour de France photographer George Deswijzen told us all about what it’s like in the scramble to get the finishing shot of the greatest bike race on earth. His work is stunning and it was an honour to feature some of his shots on the Ride Velo website.
We haven't even mentioned our trip to Bellagio on Lake Como, raved about Paul Smith's Cycling Scrapbook or waxed lyrical about our favourite bike shop, Brixton Cycles. You'll just have to delve into the archive to remind yourself of the wonderful people we've met, bikes and rides we've ridden and fabulous kit we've tried out. We can't wait to do it all over again in 2017. We'll also be launching our new online shop bringing you some of the best products on the market including our own range of leather cycling gloves and delicious Luchos Dillitos snacks among many other desirable items. So keep reading and Happy New Year!