The Outdoors Show: ExCel Exhibition Centre, London
Should you ever venture to one of the country’s mega-exhibition centres, you need to be prepared ………… The newly extended ExCel Exhibition Centre (in the docklands of London) is over 100,000 sq metres in size. If you can’t begin to imagine the enormity of that, try to picture 14 football pitches all located under one roof………..absolutely massive!! You will need comfortable footwear or even a pair of skates to get around, and expect to cover several miles in the process.
The Outdoors Show on January 12-15th was really made up of four different shows, which sounds like a bargain for one entry ticket. But really a false bargain……….you cannot physically do all four shows in one day (nor, I imagine, would you want to). It would be like trying to visit four large museums in a day………. (you know the feeling).
My primary interest, of course, was cycling, and it was good to discover a number of innovations and new products that will ‘tweak’ the interest of any serious cyclist. The big challenge is to allow your interest to be tweaked but to keep a tight grip on the credit card. You go to these events as a willing, pliable customer, and the exhibitors know it, and do everything to persuade you to part with your hard-earned pennies. However, there are many cost-free goodies for the punter too. The samples and freebies spill out of nearly every stall: pens, water bottles, puncture repair kits, T-shirts, competitions to win expensive bikes……… I made several rounds of the sports nutrition stalls sampling all of their wares (energy bars, energy gells, drinks…) and ended up so hyped that I had to jump on a turbo-trainer to burn off the excess carbs!
I remain convinced, however, that these expensive (and chemically enhanced) high energy sports products are really no substitute for nature’s wholesome alternatives: bananas, dried fruit ‘n nuts, fruit juices….etc. It’s in such areas as these that you encounter the ‘clash’ of two cultures in cycling: the mentality of the long-distance cyclist versus the short distance, adrenaline-rush mentality of the competitive cyclist. We may all look the same as we carve our way along country lanes in pelotons, but our individual goals can be very different.