I had the good fortune to visit the Rapha CC in Manchester this week. Whilst there I used the facilities and discovered the most epic toilet in the world. It marked a new ‘chapter’ in my relationship with the glossy bongo brand. I’ve always been the first to comment on the epicness of some of their marketing and their target audience, but alongside a clear recognition that Rapha do a huge amount to support British Cycling. However, I never imagined I’d be on the receiving end of their largesse.
The talk was to support the recent publication of my book, ‘A Corinthian Endeavour: The Story of the National Hill Climb Championship’. I wanted to show a wobbly powerpoint and some badly scanned images in Manchester because of the longstanding connection between the championship and the Manchester Wheelers – the most successful team in the history of the event. The Wheelers were really helpful, especially Holly, and Rapha allowed us to use their shop/cafe/exhibition space for the talk.
Several legends of cycling turned up to listen to me talk at length in a slightly flustered and oblique fashion. Jim Henderson, Lynn Hamel, Peter Graham, Gareth Armitage and Graham Sydney all made the journey from various parts of the North. It was a reunion of sorts, some of them hadn’t met in 40 years, and it was great to see some animated conversations happening afterwards. Also hidden at the back was the figure of Jeff Williams. I found this a bit unnerving for a couple of simple reasons: we hadn’t met before so I had no idea of how he might feel about the book; and he he was a national road race and hill climb champion who also rode the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. In short, a legend amongst the legends.
It was a fantastic evening. I even got my copy of the book signed by lots of people. It’s starting to feel a bit like a real book tour, like what real writers do. I have another talk at Prologue Cycling in Harrogate on August 20, followed by one at Rapha CC in London on September 16.
In amongst all of this, I’m not finding much time to ride my bicycle. There is another reason besides writing about cycling, and it’s not cycling related.