A major reason for going to any major product exhibition is usually to view the width and breadth of the product range, and to update yourself on the latest developments.
Our visit to the N.E.C. Cycle Show today saw us walk into a huge arena of hundreds of exhibitors, displaying everything from bicycle hubs and bearings to complete custom-builds costing £thousands.
Absorbing and distracting? Yes, absolutely………but we only spent imaginary money as we hovered around the stands, especially as I found my attention locking onto some of the titanium offerings from Kinesis and Van Nicholas. All very tempting…..
But behind the scenes, there were stories to listen to. On a stage in the corner of the hall, we heard first hand of the experiences of some of the riders in the recent Tour of Britain, both old hands and young ‘rookies’.
There was a technical session on how women can make the cycling experience more comfortable for themselves……but astonishingly, about a third of the audience were men (including me!…….but then I was only accompanying my wife….).
The most absorbing session, for me personally, was to listen to the inspiring story of James Golding. At the age of 28, he was diagnosed with cancer and, at one stage of his treatment, was given only a 5% chance of survival. His weight plummeted from 14 stones to 6 stones, and his treatment was long and painful. I won’t try to tell the story of the cycling endurance records he has attempted to break (and will break in the future) because you can read about them for yourself here, but he is a truly remarkable character. Not only is he a survivor of cancer (twice), but he has risen above his fear of death to push his body to the limits of endurance in pursuit of huge goals, and has raised in excess of £2m for cancer research.
In 2015, he hopes to set a new 7 day record, cycling in excess of 1,547 miles. And then to tackle the Round-the-World record of 108 days, riding in excess of 18,000 miles. As an endurance cyclist with much humbler goals, I was delighted to meet this man and listen to his story.
Memory is a beguiling asset of humankind. Ask people what they did 30 or 40 years ago, and they might regale you for hours. Ask them what they had for lunch yesterday, well…..that’s another story.
The media, and the meteorologists in particular, have drilled into us that 2012 has been a year of weather extremes. Last winter, the driest on record, the rest of the year the wettest on record (for England at least). In 10 or more years time, what will people really
remember about 2012? GB success in the Tour de France? The Queen’s Jubilee? The Olympics and Paralympics? Will they really remember the anxiety and the misery caused by the weather? Some will, without a doubt, but many will not.
Here is one man’s perspective. Delving a little deeper into my cycling statistics for 2012, I discovered that I had ridden on 232 days of the year, averaging 44 miles (72 km) each day. What I am going to say now is no proof of anything, but one man’s perception. My memory of the weather of 2012 goes predominantly against the meteorologists’ statistics. My thinking is filled mostly with the fine weather, the sunshine, the landscapes and miles of clear open roads. I am sure (though can’t prove it) I never used my rain jacket on the bike more than a dozen times in total.
Now, all of this could be down to the luck of the Irish (and my ancestry is predominantly Irish). I just happened to go out on the driest, sunniest 220 days of the year. Or I could simply be accused of blue-sky thinking. Mmn….very interesting. I wonder what you think?