For Initiates Only?

Today was one of those very enjoyable Monday morning rides – once rush hour and school-run traffic is over, Monday mornings are often very quiet.

I fully appreciate that I’m very lucky to not do any pure utility riding – rides made because they have to be – whether on a Monday morning or at any other time. Yesterday was a case in point where the rain really was genuinely torrential. I was travelling – by car – back and forth to the Handmade Bike Show in Bristol. It was OK on the way down but on the way back it was so bad I opted for the A4 rather than the M4, simply because the conditions were verging on scary. I saw just one poor beggar on a bike – he looking like a cycle tourist caught out in it because he had no choice. I was very happy to not be him.

The bike show was enjoyable – if small. The craftsmanship aspect of the humble – or not so humble – pedal cycle is still alive and is something to be enjoyed, appreciated and celebrated. In some cases the costs are high but on balance I rather think you are getting what you pay for. I’m not aware of any ‘artisan framebuilders’ driving around in Bentleys. A handmade product takes time.

Walking around the stands, one thought that did strike me was that it wasn’t an inclusive show. That needs explaining. Of course the organisers and exhibitors weren’t out to actively exclude anyone, and I imagine most or all of the people involved professionally would like to think anyone visiting would have been made welcome. And, yes, everyone was friendly. The trouble is, it was a show for converts. It presumed a pre-existing interest in bikes and in most or all cases, a pre-existing and quite in-depth knowledge about bikes.

Perhaps that’s fair enough; perhaps that was a decision consciously made. I do appreciate that not everything can be accessible to everyone, and maybe it is more of a comment on me that I found myself feeling a little uneasy at how the event was pitched. On the other hand, if I had been a newcomer to cycling and I had gone along to the show, I rather think I’d have come away feeling that there was nothing there for me – and that perhaps ‘cycling’ either wasn’t for me or didn’t want me.

I don’t know. Perhaps it’s just all too easy for initiates to forget how arcane they can appear to the uninitiated, and that’s just one of those things about humans and how they organise themselves.