On your bike, Mr Ratner…

Did you read what Jim Shears, Finance Director of Tandem, which sells Falcon, Claude Butler and Dawes bikes said recently?

He was blaming a second-half fall in sales of his bikes and accessories on the summer.

The temperatures in July and August were too hot, apparently.

“Without making excuses,” he was quoted as saying in The Guardian “If it’s baking hot would you go and get on your bike? You would probably want to sit in your garden and have a barbecue.”

What?!!! The sunny warm summer has been the best for cycling and families have been out in droves enjoying the trails in the Forest of Dean.

It has been a wonderful summer for billowy T shirt rides.  I wear lycra sometimes and always the shorts but hey, proper summer is about cotton and linen and feeling the sun on bare arms and legs.

It’s about not having to bother with waterproofs or wind-proofs because you know it’s set fair for the *whole* day.

The headline “Britain’s cycling craze a myth, says maker of Dawes and Claud Butler bikes”  should have said “Britain’s cycling craze a myth, according to new Ratner.” His marketing director was probably in tears. But hey all publicity is good publicity isn’t it? Or maybe not when you are pushing bike brands of yesteryear which a lot of people don’t realise are still in production?

I can understand him moaning. Tandem are having a bit of a bumpy ride, making a loss as a group last year. Bike and accessory sales went up by 3.8% in the first half of this year and went downhill by 6.7% in the first 11 weeks of the second half of the year.

Drawing the conclusion from those figures that the boost in cycling numbers cannot be true is stretching incredulity too far.

“People are interested in cycling but it’s not correct to say cycling is booming in the UK. In our part of the market, which is mainly mums and dads going out for a ride with the family, we haven’t seen the same effect. There’s not a massive uplift in cycling across the country.”

There is, Jim but not as you know it.  People just aren’t buying YOUR bikes.

I’ve seen many more people out on bikes this summer than any other in my cycling memory (20 years). There has been massive wholehearted support for the big cycling events – the Tour de Yorkshire has changed the face of cycling in Yorkshire. It’s not club cycling any more – it’s inclusive family cycling.

It’s very good to see more people on two wheels everywhere – off-road on trails and to a lesser extent braving the pot-holed roads of Gloucestershire. I’m a little jaundiced because my right wrist – badly jarred when hitting a pothole at speed a couple of weeks ago – is still playing up.  The more of us there are, the more likely it is that eventually *proper* money will be spent on infrastructure to facilitate safer cycling.

It’s also been strikingly obvious that middle-aged and older chaps – who probably cycled in their youth – are snapping those lycra cycling shorts on again and venturing out on racing and hybrid bikes.

I totally applaud them. It takes courage and enthusiasm to get going on the bike again 20 or 30 years after career turns or family life put paid to your youthful cycling jaunts or Sunday club rides.  It also takes courage to get on a bike when you’re several stones overweight but everybody has to start somewhere and cycling is one of the best ways to begin the process of getting fitter.

I’ll put my hand up and say it’s actually not easy starting to cycle from scratch when you’re an adult. There’s a lot to think about. Balance and steering, not to mention the thorny subject of gears – and it takes a while for an adult beginning to build up confidence.

Some friends of mine who used to listen politely, stifling yawns, to my tales of doing cycling, watching cycling and mountainbiking but were almost completely sedentary in their recreations, have both recently taken up cycling!

It’s been nothing short of an epiphany for them. They are now relating to me how they go for a jaunt through the Devon countryside on former railway lines converted to cycleways. They are almost retired and seeking out new safe places to ride.

They don’t feel up to tackling road riding yet but they are enjoying wending their ways through the greenery, the ups and the downs and I can tell they are starting to feel the craic.

“You’ll never believe it but I went on a cycling course,” my pal told me “I’ve even got a certificate! “

She also got free hi-vis bands, a hi-vis jacket and cycle clips!! I was so pleased I had to give her a great big hug. We haven’t been cycling together yet but next year no doubt we will.

So no, Mr Ratner – sorry , Shears – it’s been the most beautiful hot summer – and those who love cycling – and who are coming to love cycling – were out making the most of it.

And if you don’t drop in at a pub or a café while you’re out enjoying a carefree pedal in the sunshine, the barbecue and drinks will happen when you’re back home.

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About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
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2 Responses to On your bike, Mr Ratner…

  1. Darrel Kirby says:

    I agree that sounds like a crazy statement to make, cyclists are everywhere at the moment. I even dragged my bicycle out a couple of times this summer – for just long enough to confirm is still to much like hard work!

    Nice to have your blog back by the way; I’d missed you!

    • janh1 says:

      That’s a v nice thing to say! Thanks 🙂
      Wow, you pedalled a bit? *Faints* That counts as contributing to the “mythical” cycling craze. 😀

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