Up close and personal

Image: Sean Hardy

Image: Sean Hardy

Sometimes, a brand simply catches your eye. Something about the products - their performance and style - strikes a chord; so it is with Simpson and POC. Aesthetics are more than a passing concern at our London headquarters, and certainly so in an elegant red brick and glass building in downtown Stockholm.

POC is many things to many people. Striking? Certainly. An acquired taste? Perhaps. Divisive? Emphatically so, as is the case with any brand truly worthy of the accolade ‘disruptive’. Many aspire to such a status. POC has made it a matter of routine.

So it is that we find ourselves with not only one despatch on the Scandinavian purists, but two, and in close succession. Recently, we brought news of the forthcoming Ventral Air helmet. Today, we’re pleased to publish a detailed exposition of the CHPT3 x POC Ventral Devesa Spin, with insights from industrial designer Magnus Gustavsson, leader of POC’s hard goods team, and a certain David Millar. 

Our thanks to Gustavsson and to Millar for their time in describing the process that has led to the first POC product to bear a pattern. And our thanks to you dear reader for your understanding of a schedule that has made this recent arrival of POC-themed articles not unlike that of London buses. We trust they will bring greater enjoyment.

Jarno Saarinen: Our hero and inspiration

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The digital era has allowed history to be instantly accessible, the need for libraries and books lessened. Periods in time: decades of data, facts and figures laid bare in readiness for us to digest. We are reminded of the winners and the heroes of past sporting eras but also developments in engineering, material technology and standards of safety - how a combination of these aspects have improved the sports we follow today.

Underlying any event of a competitive nature lies man’s primeval desire to compete, to test, to challenge oneself against others. Some are born with this spirit, this talent to achieve greatness. As spectators we are left to marvel at the drive of such individuals - every generation has its gifted protege.

Motorcycle racing has always been an integral part of this publication’s DNA. It’s that heroism, that driven desire to win between man and machine we respect, acknowledge and wish to share. Back in the 70s the sport had moved on from ‘Pudding basin’ helmets and all-black leathers -the advent of full face helmets and multi-coloured, sponsor ladened leathers now ruled the day. Race bikes too had progressed they were now quicker more powerful machines no longer derived directly from their street bike ancestry.

The circuits at which they raced were becoming faster more established, more organised money making opportunities that capitalised on the draw of increasingly larger crowds. Unfortunately safety standards had not advanced at the same pace, many dangerous high speed sections still displayed only the rudimentary straw bales and car tyre barriers native to their airfield roots.

The name Jarno Saarinen appeared with the greatest motorcycle racers of the 70s - hailed by many as the sports ‘Golden Era’. He was his own man, he did things in a peculiar yet unique way: a driven individual in the same mindset as Tom Simpson. From humble Finnish origins he became the country’s first and, to date, only World Motorcycle racing Champion. Termed by most as the greatest up and coming rider of this generation, he rubbed shoulders with the likes of multiple World Champion Giacomo Agostini and Phil Read while also doubling up as his own mechanic. Often winning races against larger capacity machines by sheer skill and domination - his achievements speak for themselves.

A modest man with era defining good looks, a beautiful yet dedicated wife and above all a works contract - the world lay at Jarno’s feet. You’ll see the images of him always smiling, always relaxed, in charge of his destiny and at peace with life. He would have been 74 this year - his riding talent like his legend will always live on.

Time Trial: a film reviewed


Cycling has long held a symbiotic relationship with art. The poetry and pain of the sport inspires artists working with almost any media. From the early days of flighty prose to sell newspapers, through books endeavouring to describe its suffering and salvation, to the cinematic art of Jørgan Leth, cycling has few rivals, in the sporting world at least, as a source of inspiration; even musicians are inspired by the humble bike race - none more so than Kraftwerk.

Finlay Pretsell joins this long tradition with Time Trial, his exploration of David Millar’s life in cycling, and his final season in particular.

As the trailers finally finish, the first thing that confronts the viewer is the BBFC certificate... 18. What? For a film about cycling... why? Seconds later, it becomes obvious why this is an adult film. Millar, and those around him, don’t censor themselves. Why would they? This is a brutal sport, and the film contains many brutal moments. Races and riders are fucks, shits, and, on one memorable occasion, glove-stealing cunts.

That’s not to say that there is no beauty in this brutal world. Pretsell obviously has a wonderful eye for the tiny moments of wonder, and shot after shot, whether capturing suffering or glory, is beautifully produced and edited. Although the influence of other artistically-minded sports documentaries is at times apparent - films like Zidane and Senna, not to mention Leth’s oeuvre - Time Trial is a unique, modern film that feels as though it could only have been made now, with a rider like Millar in total cooperation.

Time Trial is more than just a pretty face, however. Nothing this beautiful has any right to be so informative... I have consumed cycling media in all its forms for many years. I’ve watched, read, listened, and streamed, not to mention raced, but I’ve rarely felt this immersed in the world of professional cycling. From tiny vignettes within the peloton, to bare-all hotel room footage, and warts and all interviews with the man himself, Pretsell gets deep under the skin of his fellow Scot, at times even to Millar’s evident discomfort.

Parts of the film make genuinely uncomfortable watching. A lot of this is down to the sound design and score, which use atonality and dissonance to unsettle the viewer and underscore Millar going deeper and deeper within himself. In particular, a wickedly tough climb at Tirreno Adriatico, and the frozen and washed out 2015 Milan-San Remo are stark antidotes to any Sunday rider who fancies the life of a pro.

The darkness is both literal and metaphorical - at his lowest ebb, Millar the cyclist is entombed within tunnels as Millar the man, shot against a black backdrop, bares his soul.

There is no easy redemption here and Pretsell won’t allow us the simple ending of Millar punching the air. His is a cleverer and deeper film than that, and is all the better for it. Having been so deeply immersed in the peloton, finally we are allowed to come up for air… and given the narrowest of hints that perhaps there is life, and maybe even happiness, beyond cycling. 

Time Trial is in cinemas now, and is also available on iTunes, Sky Store, Amazon Video, or Google Play.

Why not organise your own club screening at https://www.timetrialfilm.com/clubs


A ride in the making: Simpson CC 2018


We're busy putting the finishing touches to our latest CC ride. It takes place north of Ipswich on Sunday August 19th, starting from the iconic roadside café The Kesgrave Kitchen. Avoiding main roads it'll take you deep into the heart of the Suffolk countryside. You'll discover villages with no name, myths, folklore, wild untamed skies and of course the sea.

We plan to stop for lunch at the Eel's Foot Inn, an undiscovered gem of a pub dating back to 1533 tucked away in the hamlet of Eastbridge. With Adnams beers on tap and numerous food awards to it's name, this venue rightly gives the ride its title.

Covering approximately 70 miles at a pace of 15+ mph our ride policy ensures no-one will get left behind - it's not a race, it's a social ride so you'll need to feel comfortable riding at this pace as this is a non supported event. For everyone's convenience the route will be circular. Please ensure you come prepared.

In order to keep rider numbers manageable we operate a first come, first served policy. If you fancy joining us we'll need you to confirm no later than Thursday 19th July.

We look forward to hearing from you at www.info@simpsonmagazine.cc

Simpson CC, the best way to be taken for a ride.

Sockology: the art of detailing and much more


Whether you're pounding away on the pedals or kicking back on a low intensity recovery ride you're always aware of your cockpit surroundings, handlebars, hands, legs and feet. In the glory days of the summertime everything around you is bursting out with life, with such extreme intensity. Bare arms and legs begin to gain colour, those winter miles now prove there worth as you drink in the sights and sounds you've longed for. When you glance down you see the machine-like movement your legs are making: the engine room in motion. For us there's a certain special relationship taking place, that change of angle where leg meets foot. It's celebrated by the sock, be it an intense pattern, an explosion of colour or just a combination of elements.

On a domestic level sock choice has always been a personal 'thing' - much maligned with the stigma of Christmas gifting but to the cyclist it's become an expressive format. Even the hallowed ground of sock height caused unrest within the cycling community. Started by the seven time dethroned Texan Lance Armstrong and further championed by Sir Brad Wiggins, the long cuff sock is state-of-the-art to many 'new generation' cyclists. Gone are the purity days when white ankle socks were the staple diet, cycling's high altar has been replaced by a technicolour revolution.

Our stance on this remains open minded, the tri-band intersection ranging from leg to sock to shoe remains as individual as any other major bike decision. We just love to see how riders embrace this relationship without being judgemental in any way. This said we do ride with a guy who sports white cotton towelling tennis socks - a really strong rider and extremely nice chap but someone needs to have a word with him on this front.

Apart from the demands of seasonal materials 'Sockology' is an all year round affair - the doors are wide open. Colour and pattern is there to brighten the bleakest of winter rides so go and embrace the revolution. Love your feet and they will love you back. Happy feet = happy riding.