Man to child

It’s no massive revelation becoming a father. It’s been happening since the beginning of mankind but its impact on individual’s lives is quite frankly, as we’re constantly being told, a life changing event. On one level it’s like having a permanent guest coming to stay. Everything that you once held sacred and which had a value greater than material wealth, has now been cast aside, downgraded, your life becomes an altered state, one that is occupied by a plus one. Your time is no longer your own and spare time just doesn’t exist.

During the early stages of parenthood very few can honestly say that cycling as an activity can truly exist in their lives. What once had its place in your routine will now be taken over by a new presence, a new demand on your time. But with this comes other non-cycle friendly factors - things that destroy your concentration, your eating patterns and ultimately the way you function on a daily basis.

By far the worst casualty with the most impact with the arrival of any newborn is lack of sleep. It doesn’t matter what age you are, although older parents will suffer worst, the effects of sleep deprivation will reduce anyone to a zombiefied half-life state: an existence in the shadow of your former self. Sleep becomes a thing of the past and you have to re-educate both mind, body (and life) to accommodate for it - or lack of it. You’ll learn to survive on three hours of undisturbed slumber instead of the recommended eight.

For the next few months the front room sofa becomes your bed - it’s the only way you’re going to reasonably function at work. The term ‘Baby Brain’ does exist and has a massive effect on all new parents. Your physical environment also gets violated. What was once unused floor space has now become home to playpen or an infant rocking chair. Where you once were able to leave kit out for an early morning ride, that space has now gone - it just doesn’t exist anymore.

When Ian Curtis wrote ‘When routine bites hard and ambitions are low’, the lyrics from Joy Division’s ‘Love will tear us apart’, he could have been describing the early days of parenthood. Any routine you have will disappear for several months until you establish a new baby-friendly one. Timescales will totally alter, you'll find yourself becoming nocturnal in order to fit everything into a day.

But what in effect is happening is the cycle of life. In the not-to-distant future you’re be teaching your son or daughter how to ride a bike in the same fashion your father handed that skill on to you. The rotation of life, generation on generation, this ritual is at the very core of what we do - how we get introduced to cycling. What you’ve temporarily lost will blossom again but this time round you won’t be alone, you’ll have your own flesh and blood cycling buddy. For Eddy think Axel, for Stephen think Nico, the list is endless but who will your son or daughter become? 

It’s the past looking back at you. You’ll experience for yourself the joy and pride your father felt when he handed on the gift of balance and movement called cycling. Now you’re in charge of that next generation of cyclists in your family but remember we’re all individuals, don’t force your passion and addiction on a youngster who’s growing up in a totally different world to the one you experienced as a child. Cycling may come later in life for them or not figure in it at all. Your mission is to plant the seed and then step back and see what happens next. You may be nurturing the next Froome, Cavendish, Wiggins, Armistead, Trott or Barnes.

What you may lose today will be repaid ten fold in the years to come so you should embrace and enjoy every aspect of it while you can.



The Italian Job

We were lucky enough to visit Italy last week, researching an article for the next issue of the magazine. We won't spoil the surprise by telling you exactly where we went or who we met but we will tell you that we were in the north east of the country, in Veneto, a region that's about as steeped in cycling history and culture as it's possible to be. 

Between epic mealtimes, during which we made serious inroads into the Italian calzone mountain, we met sprightly septuagenarians and energetic 20-somethings; we visited small family businesses and huge conglomerates; we watched all sorts of manufacturing processes and wandered around awe-inspiring cycling museums; we discussed the past, present and future of the cycling industry. But one thing remained constant: everyone we met shared such a deep passion for all things cycling that we couldn't help but be inspired and energised. 

Our love for what we do rarely wavers but it doesn't hurt every once in a while to give ourselves a fresh little espresso shot of enthusiasm. Grazie Italia e arrivederci a presto!

The Tour from the inside

TV sports coverage is truly spectacular these days but for any great sporting event, nothing beats witnessing the drama at first hand. Okay, maybe it's not so good if you're below two metres in height but by being part of the crowd you're part of the Tour itself!

We last witnessed a Tour stage on foreign soil back in 2012, when we were privileged enough to see history in the making as (Sir) Bradley Wiggins lapped the Champs-Élysées clad in yellow. Fast forward to 2015 and Utrecht, the Dutch city hosting the Grand Depart. We find ourselves rubbing shoulders with the world's cycling press in an exhibition arena-sized media centre.

We're still as starstruck by the Tour as we were before launching the magazine. The sheer size and scale of the event still blows us away. Some might dismiss it as a cash cow - a cynical money-making opportunity - but for us it's still the greatest spectacle road cycling has to offer.

When we were offered the chance to witness the opening stages of this year's event as part of the press community, there was a split second of hesitation caused by a fear that we might lose our Tour innocence and become drawn into the cynical world of cycling journalism we so hate and resist. But on the plus side we were being presented with every fan's dream of behind-the-scenes access to exclusive areas where the team buses are situated, mechanics fettle bikes and riders warm up. On this basis we were prepared to take our chances!

We can't say too much more about how our day(s) unfolded - you'll have to wait for issue 8 to find out more - but let's just say we're still smiling about the experience days after returning.

It's great watching the Tour on TV but it's so much more special to go in person to become part of the show. Remember, you still have two and a half weeks. Go on, get involved!

The year ahead

It's been another busy year for Simpson magazine. 2014 has seen us participate in a number of events from the retro to the nocturnal and take to the boards at the Lea Valley Velodrome with the launch our own team. As ever, we live to ride but we also want to share, captivate and involve others in this beautiful sport through the publication and this website.

Prompted by numerous inquiries about our trade team kit, we're now working on the launch of our own cycling club, Simpson CC, together with a range of clothing for on and off the bike. We're also in the process of organising our own rides and we'll be actively encouraging you to join us on the road. There'll be no membership fee or forms to fill in (life's too short), we just want as many people as possible to get the most out of their cycling. We're big fans of the increasingly popular idea of non-affiliated cycle clubs - groups of riders getting together and riding, just for the sheer pleasure of it. We also admire the graphics being generated by this new independent scene. They are unique, original and 100% homegrown and we love them! Just like the magazine itself, Simpson CC will be open to everyone. It's not about elitism - all ages and abilities are welcome.

Issue 7 of the magazine will be making an appearance early in the new year and it will be full to the brim with the broad spectrum of content you've come to expect from us. We know we drop off the social media scene every now and we understand that this might create the impression of inactivity - but more often than not it really signifies intense spells of offline work. We hope you agree it's usually worth the wait.

We firmly believe that all work and no play might make us as dull as some of the other cycling titles out there (titles that we're far too polite to name, obviously) so we fully intend to kick back and address this by signing the trade team up for some challenging rides for 2015 season both in the UK and on the continent. Watch this space for further details!

Going wild in the country

If you think cyclo-cross has taken off in the UK in recent years you should do yourself a favour and visit Belgium for a Superprestige series race meeting.

Last weekend we visited the Gavere meet just outside Ghent, where tens of thousands gathered to watch huge stars such as Sven Nys and Kevin Pauwels power round a ridiculously muddy and technical course in the grounds of a stately home.

The riders’ amazing bike handling skills were matched only by the enthusiasm of those watching them from every possible vantage point around the course - more often than not with a plastic glass of beer in one hand and a paper plate of mayo-sodden chips in the other.

TV cameras were there to capture the action, the highlights of which were shown on national news programmes at the end of the day. After the races, hordes of rowdy CX fans poured into the vast fan tent to cheer on the cheesy but wildly enthusiastic singer and his dancing girls as they belted out Europop anthems and pranced around the stage.

It all shows just what’s possible when TV coverage generates enough commercial sponsorship to turn what could so easily have been a bunch of grim-faced riders charging around a soggy, deserted field into a joyous, circus-like celebration of a fantastically watchable and thrilling sport.

We’ll be sharing our wonderful Belgian CX adventure in much more detail in the next issue of Simpson - including what it feels like to ride an elite-level course on a top-of-the-range Ridley CX bike with the latest SRAM ‘cross componentry. Meanwhile, it’s back to the warm tea and wintry delights of the British CX scene for us.