Words: Ian Cleverly Photos: Juliet Lemon and Hayley Bray
As this was my first year working for The Cycle Show, I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. I’d been in touch with some of the brands ahead of the show to promote their presence, helped show director Chris Holman put the stage schedule together and book our fabulous guests, banged the social media drum in the lead up to our three days at Alexandra Palace, but still felt unsure how the actual event would run.
Would the weather gods ruin our test track with persistent rain? (Just a few drops and drips, it transpired). Would all our star guests be able to attend and arrive on time? (All bar one, and with very good reason). Would booking Viola Brand and her amazing artistic cycling routine be a step too far for The Cycle Show audience? (A resounding no!)
Backstage on Thursday, assembling a couple of beautiful Jawdropper bikes that had been sent boxed up – and experiencing the bizarre situation of lending my tools to a former Giro d’Italia winner – the nerves were still jangling. Would everything come together on the day?
I shouldn’t have fretted – of course they did. The team has way more experience of putting this show on than this late starter. They know what works and what doesn’t; the crowd pleasers and the big draws for a cycling-fanatical public; the nuts and bolts of putting on an entertaining experience for young and old alike; the minutiae of ensuring thousands of paying customers are given a day to remember.
Here’s a few of my personal highlights from the three days at Ally Pally. What were yours?
This drop dead gorgeous Wilier was absolute perfection for my money. That finish, those lines, wonderful! Italian artistry writ large.
The cargo bike section hosted by Flying Dutchman hosted some fine examples of the genre, not all motor driven either. This handsome long fella took centre stage – a sturdy and mean delivering machine.
These two young Olympic legends pulled a crowd. Kye Whyte and Beth Shriever are great ambassadors for the sport of BMX and terrific fun too. Also great to see the theatre full for two of our other youngest guests: Zoe Backstëdt and Fred Wright. The future is bright with racers like these doing their thing with aplomb.
I will readily admit I knew next to nothing about Scott Wilson prior to the show, but came away a huge fan. The way he interacts with the kids is perfect, and he’s a fine entertainer. His final routine when he was atop a six-foot drop before landing on a coffee cup placed between the legs of a ‘volunteer’ (brave man!), all the while feigning fatigue and show fever, was superb. Check him out on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean.
Not sure I’ve quite got the chutzpah to wear them but loved the red, green and gold rasta-inspired jerseys from Raggamuffin. Just brings a smile to your face, doesn’t it? OK, maybe now the elusive summer has arrived…
If a folding e-bike is your bag, might as well get one that looks the business too, eh? Loved the look of this model from Vello. It even looks cool folded. And that little damper behind the seat tube provides a little suspension – no bad thing on the mean city streets. A quality design.
This reminded of me of camping in Kent when the kids were little. Nearing completion of putting up our massive tent after an hour of huffing and puffing, two guys in a Mini pulled up, swung open their roof-mounted tent box and climbed in, all in the space of two minutes. We gave up camping there and then, admitting defeat. But this I could go for. Looks nice and snugly up there. And the bears won’t get you.
“Three of MTBs biggest characters on stage at once. What could possibly go wrong?” I wrote in the programme notes, used as captions for the stage performances. Take a bow Ben Deakin, Olly Wilkins, and the one and only Rob Warner. They had a riot up there, and crowd loved them for it!
Viola Brand was utterly mesmerising, a superb show-stopping performance! I’m so glad we took a punt and got her over for her first proper public appearance in the UK. Come back soon, Viola.
Ok, let’s finish off with the cute stuff. Firstly, WHO let the dog in? And that bike doesn’t even have a basket…
But this kid takes the biscuit when it comes to cute. Bet the parents had trouble persuading her out of there.
And that’s all, folks. Hope you had fun. We certainly did. See you next year!