What others say really counts

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Sometimes it's good to be questioned about what you do and why you do it. The voicing of an opinion gives one the opportunity to revisit/reassess the worth, the merits and ultimately the initial motivating force behind what you had set out to achieve.

Back in March 2013 when we launched Simpson it was based on the desire to communicate and share our love of cycling with other cyclists. Honesty and a sense of community inspired us to create a no bull***t publication about the sport we dearly love.

When Derby based creative content agency Crocstar got in touch wanting to interview us for their blog post we were, in all honesty, a tad hesitant. Things like this happened to more mainstream publications and not to us - but having discussed its merits we agreed it instinctively felt right. Crocstar's previous blog posts demonstrated a degree of both sensitivity and intregity that sat comfortably with us.

We would like to personally thank Crocstar's writer and content creator Shannon Watson for her crafted words they beautifully capture the essence of Simpson and all that it stands for - chapeau to you!



A material world: the resurgence of 80's music

For a post 90's generation bands like Tears For Fears, Depeche Mode, Joe Jackson and now even Devo are a foreign language, a mysterious entity locked into the bygone era of their parents. For those of us privileged to have grown up with the eclectic sounds of electronic music it's amusing not only to revisit such songs but to see how they are being presented to another generation.

It got us thinking, if we were to identify a song and associate it to us, which 80's song would it be? What could truly sum up Simpson, not only as a publication but as a whole philosophy? What would our choice be based on? Would we go down the well-trodden path of a cycling related song title i.e. Queen's 'I want to ride my bicycle' or should our search go deeper. 

Cycling like music is located in a place very close to our hearts (yes we'd better believe it - we are very passionate about both these subjects in our lives).  It's the beat, the rhythm that motivates us, a slow love song isn't for us. What sound would identify us, tie us in to what we do and believe in?

Kick against it as much as you like but musically the 80's was a hotbed of contrasting styles. Having gained inspiration from Big Country's album 'The Crossing' for our Romance of the Road feature in issue 11, we would look to Sheffield for our choice of soundtrack. Directly related to the manufacture of steel, Sheffield also produced a host of pioneering electronica bands like Cabaret Voltaire and The Human League.

Openly influenced by industrial sounds created by heavy machinery pounding raw materials that sounding out for miles from foundries working throughout the night. Our choice has to be The Human League 'Being Boiled' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMhs8e12z_Q

The emotive power and rawness of this track remains ideal for turbo/roller/zwift workouts as well as staying in the mind on longer rides. It's a fitting cross over anthem to both the past and future.

Remembering what’s important


Earlier this week we were invited to take part in an interesting art and design project at Middlesex University.

The project, called I Am A Magazine, invited a group of art, design, photography and fashion students to create something interesting on the theme of magazines. One of the ways the organisers came up with to help the students find inspiration was to line up a number of guests – including us – to give talks about various aspects of magazines and publishing.

We gave the students a guided tour of Simpson’s conception in 2012, its birth in 2013 and its steady growth ever since. We talked about how the magazine is an expression of our passion for cycling, design and print journalism. We told them how Simpson has become a platform for emerging photographic and journalistic talent. We explained how our independence has enabled us to steer clear of the product-pushing clichés of some other publications we could mention. We shared our excitement about the opportunities Simpson has given us – to travel to places we’d never otherwise go to and meet people we’d never otherwise meet. 

We also talked about the growth of something bigger than just the printed magazine. We talked about our online presence, the Simpson team, the kit, T-shirts and other merchandise, the club rides and, perhaps most importantly, the sense of community and shared purpose that’s gradually formed around the Simpson name.

Delivering this talk served to remind us how far we’ve come in the last few years. It encouraged us to step back from the day-to-day plate-juggling exercise of work and family and cycling and everything else, just for a few hours, to reflect on how fulfilling it’s been and how lucky we are to be involved in the wonderful world of Simpson.

Christmas and what it means to a cyclist

Forget the concept of having a white Christmas: snow rarely graces the UK until at least February

Forget the concept of having a white Christmas: snow rarely graces the UK until at least February

Whether it's the most eagerly awaited public holiday of the year is another topic for debate but the Christmas period for cyclists is a mixed blessing.

Like all public holidays the same amount of work is compacted into fewer days leaving us having to write off a day in order to catch up on sleep. Traditionally a time for family get togethers, of giving, receiving, of sharing and an excuse for overindulgence Christmas is a strange bedfellow. 

Thanks to the changes in the jet stream the only snow we now see at this time is found on greetings cards. You can safely say that, at least in the UK, Christmas Day will be mild, damp affair with a flat greyness to it. A perfect climate to try out all your new cycling related presents but shouldn't you be at hand to help with reading user manuals, topping up sherry glasses and making sure the children's new toys have there batteries fitted correctly - what do you?

The irony of it all lies, in part, in the temptation to over do things on the food & drink front. With every combination on the menu from gastro finger food to the traditional three bird roast it's difficult to retain any restraint. The same goes with alcohol consumption. The time you've spent finding the lightest frame/saddle/groupset/handlebars etc. those precious gram saving present ideas all go to waste as you pile the pounds on. Any benefits now lie in ruins. 

Our perspective is that you have to earn your freedom to cycle, create an environment where Aunt Vi enquires why you haven't been out for a ride yet. Be a martyr, be seen to abstain, refuse that extra mince pie, sausage roll and can of beer - publicly be seen to suffer for your cycling. 

At the end of the day it's all down to the individual as to how your Christmas pans out with your cycling. You're the one that needs to find the right balance between family and self at this time but from all at Simpson magazine we would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy healthy 2017.


In Defence Of: Running With Riders


Aside from their disastrous/cataclysmic failure to spot and remove a bollard from in front of a garage door on Stage 5, it’s hard to deny that, when it comes to road management, the organisers of La Vuelta did all they could to keep the riders from coming a cropper. On the steeper climbs especially, burly, boiler-suited young men kept crowds at bay, deterring any behaviour more energetic than polite applause as the riders grind past.

One effect of this was that the sight of “runners” - fans scampering alongside, behind or just ahead of riders - became a rare one, certainly more so than at either of this year’s other grand tours.

While many armchair/Twitter spectators and pundits, applauded the fans being kept in their place, not all did. The Cycling Podcast’s Richard Moore observed that the police were “slightly heavy-handed in dealing with spectators who encroached into riders racing line.”

I’d go even further. From the comfort of my living room, the Spanish Guardia Civil seemed, at times, to have more in common with American college campus police at a civil rights sit-in, than stewards of a simple sporting event. 

Of course, I understand where it came from. The French laissez-faire approach to crowd management came in for a lot of criticism in July, particularly on Ventoux and in the incident that saw Chris Froome lamp a Carlos Valderama lookalike waving a flag perilously close to the lead group’s front wheels.

But as high profile as they might be, in reality these occasions are so rare, and the risk of incident so small as to be negligible. In my experience, the supporters that decide to run, rather than being inconsiderate idiots, do so having put a good amount of thought into how to do so without interfering with the race. 

My single favourite memory of this year’s tour was watching a group of Irish chaps, wearing either Etixx jerseys or football kits, conducting a relay between themselves as Dan Martin went past on the second time trial. I spent a wonderful day in their company and while they had, indeed, partaken of a couple of Heineken while waiting for their hero, they had nonetheless planned the run with military precision. They watched as the other racers passed through our corner, carefully measuring how much room and time they would need so there would be not the slightest chance of getting in Martin’s way. They pulled it off to perfection, having bought themselves a few extra moments of entertainment and given me my favourite photo of the week (above). At no point was the rider in danger. Despite what many believe, this was not an act of narcissism, but one motivated by love for the sport and adoration for “yer man”.

One anecdote does not make a summer, of course, and this is not meant as a blanket defence of all who run. It is, however, intended to remind those who will unequivocally condemn that cycling fans are, on the whole, a good sort. Of course the racing must come first and be allowed to proceed without interruption but you're crazy if you think those on the roadside don't realise that too.

It can be easy to lose sight of how important the fans are to bike races but we are occasionally reminded when we see vacant roadsides, devoid of atmosphere or excitement. To crack down on fan behaviour risks deterring ordinary fans who, having spent who knows how many hours, travelled countless miles and spent god knows how much money, just want to have a bit of fun. They've waited for hours by the side of the road only for the race to pass by in a matter of seconds. Who would begrudge them a couple more?