Back in Black

We recently attended a screening and Q&A session of a film dedicated solely to the bicycle. Part documentary part social record, the film chronicled the rise, fall and now renaissance of cycling in this country.

Amazing facts like at the turn of the last century Coventry boasted no less than 70 bicycle manufacturers - placing us at the epicentre, the hub of cycle production. The historical role the bicycle has played in this country shaping in part, the social, economic and political climate. The 1930's saw cycling become a cheap, social form of transport directly attributed to the change in the 'courtship' demographic of this country. Now visiting a sweetheart in a neighbouring village or town became possible both financially and within a manageable timeframe.

The recent rise in the number of commuter cyclists, especially in larger cities, now puts a greater pressure on politicians to acknowledge the impact of cycling. It's seen one time British Cycling adviser Chris Boardman change roles now becoming a cycling ambassador, advising the government on the safe, effective integration of cycling.

It was a member of the audience at the Q&A session afterwards that, for us, completed our evenings 'cycling enlightenment' when the director was quizzed on why no mention was made of evolution of road racing. Time trialling was the only competitive outlet for cycling allowed by sports governing body at the time. It forced those that wanted to race one another to have to do so in secret at illegal night time gatherings. Competitors were clad in black for fear of being seen and arrested. Maybe history does repeat itself in part with Team Sky and Rapha Condor JLT: the new wave of black kit wearers.