I watched a great programme on BBC 4 Thursday night. Presented and written by the author Rob Penn (he claims to be one; I haven’t found anything written by him after a quick search), it was called ‘Ride of my life: The story of the bicycle’ and in it Rob travels round the world buying hand-made parts to build his new dream bike and tells the history of the bike along the way. It was a very enthusiastic and joyful programme.
Some interesting facts were thrown out that I wasn’t aware of:-
• The Madonna del Ghisallo was made Patron Saint of cycling by some Pope and there’s a shrine near Lake Como, Italy, which serves as a museum for cycle racing greats and their bikes.
• In Italy, cyclists wear racing team colours like we wear football colours. It’s important to dress well, and the term ‘Bella in Sella’ meaning ‘looking good in the saddle’ is used to describe the look.
• One of the Italian cyclists accompanying Rob mentioned how employees on € 1500 a month bought bikes worth € 5000. And changed them every couple of years.
• Portsmouth, Oregon is the most cycle-friendly city in the U.S of A. The Oregon State Govt. has spent around $100 million over 10 years in making it so, and it looks fab.
• Mountain bikes were invented in Fairfax, California by the hippies doing downhill racing in the mountains. The original trail they used is called ‘Repack Ride’ because by the time you reached the bottom the ball bearings in the hub brake would be so hot all the grease would bubble out, and the hub had to be re-packed.
• 19/20 bicycles sold in America now are MTBs.
• The population of cyclists in London doubled from 2000 – 2007.