I arrived around midday and was instantly overwhelmed by the sheer size of the arena, the amount of display stands and the throngs of enthusiasts keen to see whats fresh and new. After stumbling around for twenty minutes and making no impression into the vast heart of the event, I finally staggered out onto the perimeter walkway feeling dazed and hassled. I decided that I needed to come up with a plan of action, and, as with most of my plans, it would start with a sandwich.
Moments later I was happily munching on lunch as I studied the show map. It seemed to make sense to tackle the exhibit logically, checking out each aisle from one end to the other avoiding shiny, distracting turn offs which would lead to more confusion. I also took the chance to listen in on the conversations of those around me. They were very, very technical. I couldn't keep up. As I surveyed the show it seemed that everyone walking around also had a much deeper knowledge than me. This isn't hard to be fair, I have a (very) limited understanding of the technicalities of bike construction and maintenance. Until now, it has never overly concerned me, but as I sat in the middle of hundreds of true enthusiasts, I felt like a fraud. I was out of my depth. Do I really think I can make it thousands of miles across vast continents when I don't know my crankset from my brakeset? (Actually, I do know that...but its an easy one!)
And then, for the first time, I properly acknowledged that for me this trip isn't about the bike. It's about a lot of things, and they are all tied in with the idea of cycling, but the physical bike itself is not what excites me. To put it bluntly, I guess it's a means to an end. This is no excuse for me to avoid deepening my technical know-how, and I certainly will have to before I leave, but it felt good to come to terms with the fact that I'm not a bike enthusiast, I'ma cycling enthusiast. There is definitely a difference.
After that I had a really enjoyable day - meeting interesting people, chatting about my trip, watching masters of their art de-assemble and re-assemble components in the blink of an eye. I have great respect for such technicians, and despite my lack of understanding I could still appreciate their skill.
I also met Kevin Shannon, whose superb proposed zero emissions trip I've been following on his site at www.becauseitisthere.co.uk, and had a good chat about our respective journeys. Great guy, great expedition. I have to say that everyone I've met who has done or is planning a long distance cycle tour have all been really down to earth and easy going. On Kev's stand I also got a look at James Bowthorpe's Santos Travelmaster, the bike he recently rode round the world to successfully break Mark Beaumont's high profile record from last year. A truly lovely bike, with a fascinating device on the front that harnessed the power generated from the spinning wheel, and converted it into energy that then powered his iPod. This caught my imagination, and I've been thinking a lot recently about the possibilities of using the human power involved in cycling in order to create power. The topic jumped straight to the top of my list of things to research. Anyone know how effective it is, or where I can find out more?
So, the cycle show, all in all, was a success. Now it's back to the grind of planning. This week expect more blogging from me as I make a renewed effort to keep the website fresh and interesting for the regular followers – thanks everyone!
You can check out some photos from the cycle show on the site here or via flickr here