Just over two years has passed since I popped along to Look Mum No Hands! for the Simpson Magazine launch. That night was a mix of friends, family and excited publishers – evidently a dream come true for a few pals with a vision of putting out a well made, delightfully designed and lovingly written magazine. Was there room for one more? Certainly. It’s still going strong with the same charm and care the initial arrival heralded. Dig the new breed indeed.
The same care and attention now extends to Simpson’s kit. With a day’s notice I was tempted by one of my riding pals to jump in a van and scarper off to France, trading laptop watching for some in-the-flesh TDF. “Damn, I wished I’d grabbed a Simpson CC top” I thought, as I threw assorted items into a bag. Via the power of Twitter I asked if there was any hope of grabbing a jersey before leaving. Writing this now I don’t really know just what I was expecting as an answer - “yeah mate, we will bike one over”? Two hours later I was trading money I probably needed for food for a new top and matching socks at a clandestine hook-up at the nearest Northern Line tube station. That is some service (the jersey and the tube network).
Despite my best efforts I don’t entirely look pro. I’m certainly a few pints of real ale the wrong side of Chris Froome’s shape. A quick glance at Strava confirms I don’t ride very much like a pro either. But in the right clobber and with the right shoes and a carefully procured sun tan, it’s possible with a splash of escapism to feel pro. In a similarly dramatic and fascinated-with-sport way that I’d scream “Neeskens!” when kicking one of those cheap plastic newsagent-supplied footballs back in the 70s past a set of rolled up parkas, I did have the odd moment climbing in the Alps when I allowed myself to have my pain and suffering described by the commentator’s voice in my head. I’m sure there’s a Dutch corner joke there too but I’m too worn out to make it.
So what of the “Simpson CC”? Does it actually exist? Is this another of those gangs of earnest-looking Sunday riders who grind past solo riders without a perfunctory nod, let alone a smile? Well no, it’s more a statement of intent, a show of support and, from what I can tell, a commitment to that famous Eddy quote about just riding your bike. It seems to be a cycling gang whose members are far less likely to spend their time bragging about who has the fastest segment or who got dropped. The only award you’re likely to get with this lot is nicest bloke you met that day. Fancy that!
By the way, the jersey is as good as anything I’ve got in terms of quality and that design…well, you can see for yourselves that it’s got the same panache as the mag. Hurry up and dive in.