Ride of My Life: The Story of the Bicycle


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Ride of My Life: The Story of the Bicycle

Author Rob Penn travels around the world collecting hand-built parts for his dream bicycle and charts the social history of one of mankind's greatest inventions.


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The bicycle - one of mankind's greatest inventions,

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and the most popular form of transport in history.

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I'm Rob Penn, writer and bicycle obsessive.

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I've ridden a bike most days of my adult life, and watched it evolve over the years.

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They really are just about the most modern-designed bikes that I've seen for ages...

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Now I'm setting up to build my dream bicycle, and to tell the story

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of this remarkable invention and its impact on society. Look at that.

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I'm going to travel the globe collecting

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hand-built parts from some of the industry's finest craftsmen.

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Some Italians, they like to go...

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Where am I going to draw this?

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Erm...

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I'll be meeting some fellow bike fanatics.

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That would rub against the wheel.

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Rrrrrr!

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And some of the people who revolutionised the way we ride.

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That was scary, but that was why you did it, right?

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I'm going to explore how the bicycle has shaped the way we live, and how it continues to do so.

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We need to go back to the future, we need to rediscover the joys of this brilliantly simple machine.

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This is the story of the bicycle's evolution, from engineering marvel to modern transport icon.

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I've always been fascinated by the bicycle, because for me, it offers so much.

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I ride a bike to get to work. I ride a bike for work.

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I ride a bike to keep fit. I ride a bike to go shopping.

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I ride a bike to stay sane.

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I ride a bike to see my boys smile.

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I've owned 18 different bikes.

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My first proper bike was a Raleigh Tomahawk, the diminutive version of the infamous Chopper.

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Then I graduated to a purple Raleigh Hustler, my pride

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and joy for the summer of '76, and the first in a succession of racers.

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This is my slightly strange bike collection.

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The old mountain bike, a bit of a restoration project going on here.

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The new mountain bike, which is a rather lovely bike, perfect for the trails around here.

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The old racer, road racer, again, a bit of a work in progress, I'll have it fit for next winter.

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And the new racer, which is a rather lovely Italian frame.

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And that's rather nice... Dogs! Out!

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Go on, out!

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The bicycle has transformed my life as much as it's transformed society.

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In my late 20s, I abandoned a career as a solicitor, swapped my

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pin-striped suit for lycra shorts and spent three years pedalling 40,000 kilometres around the planet.

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My old round-the-world bike.

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which I cycled 24,500 miles on over three years...

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You know, this bike's got memories, I can't really bring myself to throw it away, so it sits in the corner.

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None of these bikes reflect my lifelong passion for cycling.

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I want a new bike, a bike that I'll ride every day for the rest of my life.

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Now obviously, you can go down the bike shop or go on the Internet and buy a new bicycle, and I could be

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riding, you know, over the hill there tomorrow on a fantastic new carbon frame race bike.

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But that's not right, I don't want that.

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So I want a special bike, and I want a bike which I'm going to design and commission myself,

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and then I'm going to go round the world looking for the perfect parts.

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The perfect parts for that bicycle - not the most expensive,

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not the lightest, but the parts which match my bicycle.

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And that will be a bike which I ride off to the sunset in.

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It will see me out of cycling.

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I'm only going to spend this kind of money on a bicycle once, so I want

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to do it and get the best, I want to get my dream bike, basically.

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My journey begins in Stoke-on-Trent. I've come to Rourke Cycles,

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where I'll be having my steel frame hand-built.

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Jason Rourke is one of the UK's top frame builders,

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making five bespoke bikes a week. It's like watching an alchemist at

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work, using gas and liquid metal to bring the bicycle to life.

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The earliest ancestor of the bicycle was invented by German aristocrat Baron Karl von Drais, in 1817.

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He realised a dream as old as mankind - a mechanical horse with wheels.

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Known as the Running Machine, it became the fashionable plaything

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of the rich in Regency England, hence its nickname, the dandy horse.

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The world had to wait 50 years for the next evolutionary leap.

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Around 1865, in Paris, the Michaux brothers put pedals and cranks on

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a dandy horse, and the velocipede was born.

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With wooden wheels, it was still heinously uncomfortable,

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and deserved its new nickname, the bone shaker.

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Things then gathered pace, quite literally, with the development of the high wheeler, or penny farthing.

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The large front wheel increased speed and

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comfort, and it was more affordable to the burgeoning middle classes.

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The height of the bicycle of course had one major disadvantage - when you fell off, it hurt.

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Finally, in 1885, a young engineer called John Kemp Starley from Coventry came up

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with the safety bicycle - so-called because you could touch the ground with both feet.

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Starley is the greatest British inventor you've never heard of, and he gave us the first modern bicycle.

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All previous incarnations of the machine were obsolete in months.

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Almost every bicycle made since has conformed to Starley's diamond frame.

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The great thing about this is, you're plunging back through history here, because this is

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effectively the shape of the bicycle that Starley came up with in 1885,

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the first safety bicycle - two triangles.

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And like I say, a set of simple steel tubes has been turned into this extraordinary weight-bearing

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machine, which will take you wherever you want to pedal.

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-I just want to get a rough idea of what you look like on it.

-Yeah.

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Just to start off...

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Jason's dad, Brian, is fitting me for my frame.

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Brian Rourke is a cycling legend, winner of numerous national championships and Milk Race veteran,

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he's been fitting people to bespoke bicycles for 30 years.

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Like a tailor on Savile Row, Brian is meticulous in his measurements,

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and makes the frame to fit the customer.

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I would suggest we went to somewhere round about there...

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The frame is the heart and soul of the bicycle.

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All the components will wear out eventually and be replaced.

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The frame will only be made once.

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It's all ultimately about making you, the rider, as efficient as possible, isn't it?

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That's right, yeah.

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That car just came past us like the Flying Scotsman at full steam!

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Goodness knows how fast he was going, but we're doing a ton,

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so he must have been going about 130.

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That's miles per hour, not kilometres per hour.

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I'm on the autobahn in Germany, two hours north of Frankfurt, en route to buy the tyres for my bike.

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Continental tyres have an unrivalled reputation for

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reliability and quality, hand-built quality, in the bicycle world.

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They mean more than that to me, because I had Continental tyres

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on the bicycle that I rode round the world, and they were fantastic.

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Puncture-free tyres.

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The next evolutionary leap in the story of the bicycle was the invention of the pneumatic tyre.

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In 1888, a Scottish veterinary surgeon called John Boyd Dunlop

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stitched a rubber tube inside a canvas sleeve,

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filled it with air, and founded a global business that's still trading today.

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When Dunlop's tyres met Starley's frame in 1888, it was a catalyst for

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the first golden age of cycling, and a turning point for human society.

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The bicycle went into mass production.

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In 1895, 800,000 bikes were built in Britain alone.

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The humble bicycle played a critical role in both the emancipation

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of women and the subsequent expansion of the national gene pool.

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Young women could now travel to neighbouring villages and meet a wider circle of young men.

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Suburbs sprang up around cities, as people could now commute.

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More than anything, the bicycle ushered in a new era of freedom and social mobility,

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as working men and women enjoyed the first-ever affordable form of personal transport.

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Continental is a global giant in tyre manufacturing.

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Though their main business is now automobiles, they've been making bicycle tyres since 1892.

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I've only been here for about 15 minutes, and the noise and the heat and the smell, it's very intense.

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You really get a sense of heavy manufacturing going on here. It's like being

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in the bowels of a Victorian steamship or something.

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The raw rubber is mixed with a cocktail of chemicals, heated up

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and melded with vast rolls of nylon to form the basic casing material.

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It's threaded with cotton to allow air bubbles to escape,

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and then wound onto giant rolls and carried upstairs.

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Brilliant, OK, here we go.

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The rolls are then cut into thin strips and checked for flaws.

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Each strip will shortly be turned into a tyre.

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The constituent parts of the tyre are then folded together by hand.

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Think of something like a Cuban cigar being rolled here.

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It's the hands which keep the quality so incredibly high.

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Now, it's ready for the final part of the process.

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The last stage is called vulcanisation -

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a chemical process using sulphur that's changed little since Charles Goodyear invented it in 1839.

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This is still flat, you could pull it apart with your own hands if you really wanted to.

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By the time it's been vulcanised in one of these extraordinary machines, while still hot, it looks like that.

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It has form and shape.

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Vulcanisation takes three minutes per tyre.

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The end result is checked, and ready to ride. Right, here it comes.

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-So I can take that out now?

-Just take it out.

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There it is. There's the tyre.

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Here comes the next one. Take it?

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Look at them smoking, they're so hot off the press!

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Fantastic.

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Brilliant, thanks, Will.

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-You're welcome.

-I'm very, very excited to have these tyres.

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These would cost you 80 Euros.

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-80 Euros?

-That's our dinner - for the two of us!

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Ha-ha-ha!

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At the outbreak of the First World War, Britain led the world in bike manufacturing,

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and the bicycle led the world in technological advancement.

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Many components that were essential to the development of the motor car were first invented for the

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bicycle - ball-bearings, tyres, chain-driven sprockets and spoke-tensioned wheels.

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Birmingham was the bike manufacturing centre of the UK,

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and home to more bicycle factories than anywhere else in the world.

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But in the second half of the 20th century, those

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factories closed down, as production relocated to Asia.

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Today, almost all evidence of the industry has gone.

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This is the Birmingham navigation canals.

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This place would have been alive with small workshops making bicycle components and bicycles.

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There would have been hundreds of them.

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And now, they've all gone - with the exception of one.

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I've come to Brooks to buy my saddle.

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Brooks have been in business in Birmingham since 1866.

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They've been present throughout the entire history of the modern bicycle.

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-Hi, there.

-Hi!

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-Looking for Mr Green.

-You've found him!

-Mr Green!

-Hello.

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How do you do, Rob Penn.

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-Hello, Rob.

-Lovely to meet you.

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Following the death of his horse in 1878, the company's founder,

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John Brooks, borrowed a bicycle to commute to work.

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He found the wooden saddle so uncomfortable, he decided to make one for himself, in leather.

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The manufacturing process has changed little in over a century.

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Today, the company makes 150,000 saddles a year.

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Some of the models are identical to those of the 1890s.

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One of the fantastic things about the products that they make here

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is that they don't deteriorate with age, they get better with age.

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So you buy a Brooks saddle, and you take it away and you ride it,

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and every year you own it, it improves.

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Demand for Brooks saddles has soared 300% in six years.

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Clearly, people want parts that are made to last.

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The leather comes from British cows, and it is processed in Belgium to meet Brooks' exacting standards.

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The first step, much like cutting pastry, is to cut out the basic leather shape.

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These are immersed in tepid water for an hour to soften them up.

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Now that they're wet and pliable, we can start to make the correct shape.

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Pure pressure, bring down the press, one flat piece into a first shape like that.

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That's the start, is it?

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That's the start.

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-It looks like a machine where you might lose a finger quite quickly, Diane. Is that right?

-Yes.

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-You've got all 10, have you? All 10 still going?

-Yes.

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Look at that. Quality.

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So what he's doing here is a chamfering the sides,

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which is literally just shaving a piece of the leather off.

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By doing this, it would stop them cutting the inside of the legs.

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It's all done in one continuous motion.

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You could make quite a mess of a nice saddle there, couldn't you?

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Yes, it could go horribly wrong. If you slip or make a mistake, you've ruined the leather top.

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Do you get paid double what everyone else gets paid?

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No.

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After knocking in the copper rivets, a feat of hand-eye co-ordination,

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the last step is to connect the metal structure to the leather top.

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One final buff and polish and hey, presto!

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Fantastic.

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Well, it's doubly exciting having seen how it's made

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and to know that, you know, it's all made by these.

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-That's right.

-Absolutely fantastic.

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£90 later I'm the very proud owner of a Brooks team professional.

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Ha-ha, look at that!

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Brooks. You beauty! Look at that.

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The golden age of the bicycle ended abruptly in America

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when the Model T Ford went into mass production in 1908.

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The love affair with the car had begun and

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the bicycle was left out to rust until its revival in the Seventies.

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But it seems that, whenever it dies in one place, the bike comes back stronger somewhere else.

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In Europe, bicycle racing took off, becoming a hugely popular and glamorous sport.

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The Tour de France was first staged in 1903, followed by the Giro d'Italia in 1909.

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Like today's footballers, cyclists were the celebrities of the day,

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and their private lives no less scrutinised.

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Speed was the currency and a new generation of racing bikes

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evolved that took men faster and further than ever before.

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One of the greatest innovators of the time was Italian, Tullio Campagnolo.

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More than anyone, he's responsible for the make-up of the modern racing bike.

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He introduced the quick-release wheel, the modern derailer and the first group sets.

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I've come to Vicenza in northern Italy to visit Campag's HQ.

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Buon giorno. We've come to meet Levi Piazza.

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You are?

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Robert Penn.

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He knows we're coming. Thank you.

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I've got my saddle and tyres, now I need some gears, brakes, cranks and sprockets known as the group set.

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Campagnolo are world renowned for their high quality precision componentry.

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With global bike sales rocketing, the industry is more cut-throat than ever.

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Campag are keen to protect the secrets of their success

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and won't let us film the manufacturing process.

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You can sort of understand why, you know. It's an incredibly competitive business,

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a business which is dominated by one large Japanese company.

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And they're probably constantly under threat from them and constantly paranoid.

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So you can sort of understand why they're not going to let us in.

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As we've come all this way to buy my group set,

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I pleaded to be allowed in and I was granted a brief interview with their head of marketing. Shall I sit here?

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-Will you come next to me here?

-Yes.

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Great. God, I feel like

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I'm the MD at the end of the table.

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One of the questions I'm behest to ask is: We've been to quite a lot of

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factories and some of them have been reluctant to let us in, but most of them have, in the end, let us in.

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But here, you know, you're not going to let us in.

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So I have to ask why.

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-We own many patents.

-Yes.

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And it's...

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important to understand that the bicycling business owns

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a lot of technology.

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There's a certain jealousy in keeping this know-how a bit secret.

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-Within these walls?

-Yes, within these walls.

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Finally, it's time to collect a record group set - the top of the range.

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Lovely looking things, aren't they?

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It's not cheap - 1,800 Euros - but these exquisitely crafted components are like the jewellery for my bike.

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-It's like Christmas, isn't it?

-Yeah.

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Great! Levi, thank you, thank you.

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Fantastic. It's been a great pleasure.

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It's been lovely to meet you.

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I leave Campag a lot poorer, but happy.

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WOMAN SPEAKS ITALIAN ON RADIO

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RADIO CHANNEL CHANGES

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RADIO CHANNEL CHANGES TO ITALIAN OPERA MUSIC

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I'm on my way to the Cinelli factory in Milan,

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another name synonymous with excellence in Italian cycling.

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And I'm going there to buy my handlebars.

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Just the name Cinelli, I couldn't really put a bike together

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without something with the Cinelli name on it. It's a mark of flair,

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rather than the precision engineering that we've seen at Continental.

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OPERA SINGING CONTINUES

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Mi scusi, mi no parlo Italiano. Parlo inglese.

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-Buon giorno.

-Buon giorno.

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I'm here to meet Antonio Colombo, a bike builder, art dealer and one of Italy's cycling philosophers.

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Cinelli dominated the pro-racing world for half a century.

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Their hand-built bikes have won 28 Olympic gold medals.

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Like Campagnolo, they've stayed ahead of the pack through constant innovation,

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while Antonio manages to bring his own style to the manufacturing process.

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We have a nice, round bottom bracket, which is unusual.

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Yeah.

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And one day I said, "Well, there could be a nice face here."

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So I think it is something which is new on a bicycle.

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I think it is something that's new on a bicycle.

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-This is the essence of cycling.

-Yeah.

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The handlebars are now made in Asia, but they are developed and tested here in Italy.

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I had wanted an aluminium bar, but Antonio is keen for me to go graphite.

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-Well, I think I may have changed my mind.

-Of course.

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Everybody is here to change minds.

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You've convinced me that...

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I rather like the idea of this,

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so it combines the classic "D" of the loop,

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which is something I wanted.

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And I like the way a bike looks from the side with the classic handlebars.

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The bicycle I'm having made is going to be...

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You know, it's going to look better than I ride.

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-You know what I mean?

-OK. Everybody wants something better than what...

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It's true.

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Unless you think you're perfect.

0:22:350:22:37

No, well I certainly don't think I'm perfect. Look, brilliant.

0:22:370:22:40

This is what I'm going to take away.

0:22:400:22:43

Can I come and pay for this?

0:22:430:22:45

-OK, let's go to the cash.

-Let's go to the cash shop. Brilliant.

0:22:450:22:49

300.

0:22:520:22:54

-OK.

-Brilliant.

-Thanks.

-Thank you. That's fantastic.

0:22:540:22:57

It's been a fascinating morning.

0:22:570:22:59

I have one of your beautiful handlebars to take away with me, which I am very pleased about.

0:22:590:23:04

I want to see the bicycle completed.

0:23:040:23:06

-I promise you I'll send you a photograph.

-Great.

-Fantastic. Thank you.

-Ciao.

-Ciao.

0:23:060:23:10

I felt I couldn't leave Italy without going for a ride,

0:23:180:23:23

so I've joined Antonio and two friends

0:23:230:23:26

for a Saturday-morning jaunt.

0:23:260:23:27

HE SPEAKS ITALIAN

0:23:270:23:29

Marco is a lawyer from Milan and a fellow bike obsessive.

0:23:290:23:33

Lodovico works for Cinelli and is a typically well-turned-out Italian cyclist.

0:23:330:23:38

We're 50 kilometres north of Milan, pedalling along the shores of the majestic Lake Como.

0:23:420:23:48

We're on a famous signature ride of the Giro di Lombardia, one of Italy's of most prestigious races.

0:23:480:23:56

Italian cyclists are hyper-style-conscious.

0:23:560:24:00

Their passion for the perfect look is embodied in the expression

0:24:000:24:04

"bella in sella", which means "looking good in the saddle".

0:24:040:24:08

What you see is all the Italian cyclists out in the team strip of their heroes.

0:24:080:24:13

It's quite difficult for British people to sort of interpret it,

0:24:130:24:18

but it's like my son who gets up on every single Saturday morning

0:24:180:24:22

and puts a Liverpool shirt on with "Gerrard" on the back.

0:24:220:24:25

It's the same for these guys - they get out of bed on Saturday morning

0:24:250:24:29

and the first thing they do is they put on the team strip of their cycling heroes,

0:24:290:24:34

whether it's Columbia or Lampre or one of the other great road teams.

0:24:340:24:39

There are employees

0:24:420:24:45

who earn, I don't know, 1,500 bucks a month.

0:24:450:24:51

And they ride bikes of 5,000 Euros.

0:24:510:24:55

And they change it every two years.

0:24:550:24:58

Really? Amazing.

0:24:580:25:00

We're climbing 554 metres above the lake,

0:25:000:25:04

on a pilgrimage to one of the spiritual homes of the bicycle.

0:25:040:25:09

We're halfway up. I haven't puked!

0:25:090:25:12

And I'm really enjoying it. It feels good.

0:25:120:25:16

I'm on a very beautiful bike. I'm slightly nervous that people think I might be part of team Cinelli.

0:25:160:25:21

OPERA SINGING

0:25:210:25:26

Our destination is the beautiful chapel of Madonna del Ghisallo, the patron saint of cycling.

0:25:470:25:54

In 1949, Pope Pius XII declared Madonna del Ghisallo as the patroness of cyclists.

0:25:540:26:01

Since then, this small chapel has become a shrine to cycling legends, living and deceased.

0:26:010:26:08

It's also a memorial to those who have fallen by the roadside.

0:26:080:26:13

Cyclists come from all over the world to pay homage here, to the bicycle and the Madonna.

0:26:130:26:17

Very evocative, looking at all the little photographs.

0:26:190:26:22

There are various plaques with it the names of Italian cyclists on the walls.

0:26:220:26:26

It's very lovely, very lovely.

0:26:260:26:28

It's a fantastic opportunity to come up here, so it's a bit of a pilgrimage,

0:26:280:26:33

in the middle of our journey to put my perfect bike together.

0:26:330:26:36

I feel we ought to come here and pay respect to Madonna del Ghisallo.

0:26:360:26:41

And maybe the patron saint of cyclists will look out for me in future.

0:26:410:26:45

May I raise a glass to you, gentleman?

0:27:030:27:06

-Thank you very much for a fantastic morning's cycling.

-Thank you to you.

0:27:060:27:09

-Thank you for coming.

-Thank you to you.

0:27:090:27:11

A second golden age of bicycle production followed the Second World War.

0:27:190:27:24

VOICEOVER: Bells on bikes ring in duel fashions,

0:27:240:27:26

which enable you to dive out of the saddle and into the sea.

0:27:260:27:29

In fact, a costume for the bike or the beach.

0:27:290:27:31

And this is the modern girl's answer to an old problem, a bicycle dress made in two.

0:27:350:27:39

No more flapping shirt tails.

0:27:390:27:41

When times are hard, people turn to the bicycle.

0:27:410:27:45

Petrol rationing and post-war poverty led to a boom in leisure bike sales.

0:27:450:27:50

On the Continent, they were still obsessed with racing, and its glamorous icons.

0:27:500:27:54

In the UK, the fashion was for cycle touring.

0:27:540:27:58

Britain's roads were cluttered with people clutching maps and Thermoses,

0:27:580:28:03

as a hostelling craze swept the nation.

0:28:030:28:05

In the 1970s, the bicycle evolved again, for a new market, as a child's plaything.

0:28:060:28:13

Most famously, Raleigh came up with the Chopper.

0:28:130:28:16

They really are very modern bikes indeed.

0:28:160:28:19

I think they're just about the most modern designed bikes that I've seen for ages.

0:28:190:28:24

They remind me of American dragster racing bikes because the front wheel is much smaller than the back wheel,

0:28:240:28:29

and the rider sits right at the back end here,

0:28:290:28:32

with these high roll bars behind them. It looks extremely sporty.

0:28:320:28:35

Fun and fashionable as it was, the Chopper sounded the death-knell for the bicycle in the UK.

0:28:370:28:42

Some say it put a generation off cycling.

0:28:420:28:46

The small front wheel and the tall handlebars made it almost unrideable.

0:28:460:28:52

Raleigh tinkered with Starley's frame, and it didn't work.

0:28:520:28:56

The bicycle was on its knees.

0:28:580:29:00

Everyone now wanted a car.

0:29:000:29:02

But what happened next was truly remarkable.

0:29:020:29:06

It was saved by a bunch of hippies having fun.

0:29:060:29:10

I'm heading north out of San Francisco

0:29:170:29:20

to get myself a pair of wheels, and to visit a very special place in the evolution of the bicycle.

0:29:200:29:26

We're heading across the bridge, out to Marin County, which is where mountain biking began

0:29:310:29:37

in the mid-1970s.

0:29:370:29:39

These crazy guys riding up and down Mount Tamalpais invented the mountain bike.

0:29:390:29:44

And everybody wanted one.

0:29:440:29:47

The mountain bike was born out of the counter-culture of the 70s in northern California.

0:29:470:29:53

It was an era of change and freedom.

0:29:530:29:56

And, as it turned out, of innovation.

0:29:560:29:59

An adventurous band of young, hippy cycle nuts began staging informal

0:29:590:30:04

downhill races in the hills, pushing the bicycle to its limits.

0:30:040:30:08

They took old cruiser bikes, known as "clunkers,"

0:30:080:30:11

and adapted them to the off-road trails, with knobbly tyres, better brakes and gears,

0:30:110:30:16

and other parts salvaged from old bicycles and even motorbikes.

0:30:160:30:21

It was always scary,

0:30:270:30:29

but that was why you did it, right?

0:30:290:30:31

I mean, if it was safe, it wouldn't be fun.

0:30:310:30:35

Amazingly enough, heck, we didn't even have helmets.

0:30:370:30:40

All things considered we came out of it pretty unscathed.

0:30:400:30:43

I actually never broke anything in my life.

0:30:430:30:46

I don't know how I've been so lucky.

0:30:460:30:50

The original downhill race course is known as "repack."

0:30:530:30:56

So-called, because by the time the riders got to the bottom, the bearings in their brake hubs

0:30:560:31:01

were so hot the grease literally boiled away, and they had to be repacked.

0:31:010:31:08

The first repack race in 1976 was won by the only rider who did not crash.

0:31:130:31:19

I've come for a ride with Charlie Kelly and Joe Breeze.

0:31:230:31:27

If repack was the birthplace of the mountain bike, Charlie and Joe were the midwives.

0:31:270:31:32

This turn here is rudely off-camber, and very slippery. You're coming into this turn,

0:31:320:31:38

your foot's down over here, and your other foot's on the pedal.

0:31:380:31:42

And if you're really good, no hands on the brakes.

0:31:420:31:44

Charlie and Joe are on a trip up memory lane, and still proudly bear the scars 30 years on.

0:31:460:31:52

Right hand, left-hand?

0:31:520:31:54

Notice the large deformity?

0:31:540:31:55

-Happened up there.

-What, hand on the ground?

0:31:570:32:00

That was everything on the ground. That was hitting very, hard and laying there for a while,

0:32:000:32:04

because I didn't want to discover what was broken right away.

0:32:040:32:07

And then realising, if I don't move, somebody's going to ride right over me.

0:32:070:32:11

So I'd better. And it turned out that not too much was broken. At least no more than that.

0:32:110:32:15

This would be my tree right here.

0:32:150:32:17

I can demonstrate, perhaps.

0:32:170:32:19

If I can get the right aspect here.

0:32:190:32:22

-Whoops!

-But here's the thing.

0:32:270:32:29

When Joe Breeze hits something, or goes down really hard, he'll say, "Oh dear."

0:32:290:32:35

Here's a man that's never used profanity.

0:32:350:32:37

Not in my presence, anyway.

0:32:370:32:39

And if he says, "Oh dear,"

0:32:390:32:41

it means it hurts.

0:32:410:32:43

Oh my goodness.

0:32:450:32:48

# Early in the evenin' Just about supper time

0:32:480:32:52

# Over by the courthouse They're starting to unwind

0:32:520:32:57

# Four kids on the corner

0:32:570:32:59

# Trying to bring you up

0:32:590:33:01

# Willy picks a tune out And he blows it on the harp

0:33:010:33:06

# Down on the corner Out in the street

0:33:060:33:10

# Willy and the Poor Boys are playin' Bring a nickel, tap your feet. #

0:33:100:33:13

The trail record is 4 minutes 22 seconds, held by Gary Fisher.

0:33:160:33:21

Thankfully today, no one's trying to beat it.

0:33:210:33:23

It may not look that fast, but it's lethal.

0:33:230:33:26

Dressed in old-school 70s denims, Joe and Charlie show me how to perfect the skid,

0:33:290:33:34

using boots rather than brakes to corner at full tilt.

0:33:340:33:39

# People come from all around To watch the magic boy. #

0:33:390:33:46

Joe goes in for a big slide at the end, but doesn't quite pull it off.

0:33:460:33:51

I can do that!

0:33:510:33:52

I'm sorry, I explained that earlier, didn't I?

0:33:550:33:57

I did explain that to you, didn't I?

0:33:570:34:00

Great, thank you so much. I mean really, what a great, great pleasure to ride the repack with you guys.

0:34:020:34:09

Thank you very much indeed. That was fantastic.

0:34:090:34:11

If you hadn't come out here, I'd probably have to work anyway.

0:34:110:34:15

I wouldn't have been here without you, so thank you.

0:34:150:34:17

As one American cycle historian put it, "The mountain bike saved the bicycle industry's butt."

0:34:170:34:25

In 1983, 1 in 20 bicycles sold in the US were mountain bikes.

0:34:250:34:30

A decade later it was 19 out of 20.

0:34:300:34:34

The mountain bike was comfortable and easy to ride.

0:34:340:34:38

Like Starley's safety bicycle, it was a true people's nag.

0:34:380:34:42

They couldn't be made fast enough.

0:34:420:34:44

Factories sprang up in Japan, Korea and China to meet spiralling demand.

0:34:440:34:51

Even today, it's very hard to wrap around emotionally

0:34:510:34:54

that something that my friends and I, and there were only half a dozen of us, really, the key people.

0:34:540:35:00

That we could influence anything so huge.

0:35:000:35:02

It wasn't about the technology so much.

0:35:020:35:04

We were pushing the bike, there's no question about it, but that social side, the camaraderie,

0:35:040:35:09

getting together for that sunset ride, the, "Hey, let's stick around and catch the sunrise," ride!

0:35:090:35:15

It was a great time.

0:35:170:35:19

We had a whole lot of fun, and I've got lifelong friends from it.

0:35:190:35:23

The town of Fairfax in Marin County is now world famous as the birthplace of the mountain bike.

0:35:290:35:34

It's also home to another bike legend

0:35:340:35:37

called Steve 'Gravy' Gravenites, who's going to make my hoops.

0:35:370:35:42

-Hey. Rob.

-Hi, Rob, thanks for making the trip.

0:35:420:35:46

Very good to be here. Very good to be in Fairfax.

0:35:460:35:49

-I'm doing awesome. Welcome to the shop.

-Fantastic.

0:35:490:35:51

Gravy has been making wheels for 30 years.

0:35:530:35:56

He earned his spurs on the pro circuit,

0:35:560:35:59

travelling the globe as a wrench, or mechanic, for the world's top mountain bike teams.

0:35:590:36:04

After calculating the exact specifications for my wheels, Steve gets to work.

0:36:080:36:13

The first part of the process is called lacing.

0:36:130:36:17

Steve literally weaves the spokes on to the hubs, and the wheel slowly starts to take shape.

0:36:170:36:24

One of the reasons I make my wheels so good is my patience, really.

0:36:250:36:30

And ability to just take my time and really fine tune it.

0:36:300:36:34

I really do equate it to a musical instrument.

0:36:340:36:38

You're going to tune and tune until it's perfect.

0:36:380:36:41

you don't want it any other way.

0:36:410:36:43

You don't want to have it out of tune, don't even listen.

0:36:430:36:47

The strength of the wheel, actually, is the way it's dispersed along its width.

0:36:490:36:54

And the weight of the wheel, it pushes down on the hub, your weight is pushing down on this hub.

0:36:540:37:00

But it's all these spokes pulling down on the rim that are holding you up.

0:37:000:37:05

But it's rim strength itself that is actually riding you on the ground.

0:37:050:37:09

The spokes don't work at all in compression, they only work in tension.

0:37:090:37:13

There you go, the wheel is on its way. It's laced.

0:37:130:37:15

And now Gravy is going to do the truing process, which is...

0:37:150:37:21

the artistry, I suppose you might say?

0:37:210:37:23

Yeah. You're trying to make it perfectly straight, side to side and up and down.

0:37:230:37:29

So, by tightening or loosening spokes, I'm able to move the rim around side to side.

0:37:290:37:34

Or if I tighten a big group of spokes, it will actually pull the rim towards the centre of the hub.

0:37:340:37:41

Or if I loosen a group of spokes, it will allow the rim to move away.

0:37:410:37:45

And the objective of all this is to make it perfectly round?

0:37:450:37:48

Perfectly round, equal tension so each of these spokes will be the same tension with each other.

0:37:480:37:54

And over the years, I've got it to the state where it just almost happens by itself.

0:37:540:38:00

You know, a fine result is a nice wheel,

0:38:000:38:04

really as fine as you can build it.

0:38:050:38:07

It just comes together perfect at the right time. Like Michelangelo mixing paint!

0:38:070:38:13

If it's not mixed right the first time, start over.

0:38:150:38:18

I like to see it come through the first time.

0:38:200:38:23

Every subtle adjustment of the truing process is done by hand and eye, but Steve insists on scientific

0:38:230:38:31

levels of precision, checking the tension on every spoke with minute accuracy.

0:38:310:38:36

Some Italians, they like to go...

0:38:360:38:38

..right? They're like, "Oh, that one's tighter, this one's looser. "

0:38:380:38:42

But you cannot really ever measure nearly as fine as you can here.

0:38:440:38:49

-Of course not.

-Just make sure it's true.

0:38:490:38:52

Well, it's an absolute joy to see this coming together beautifully.

0:38:570:39:01

-It sure is.

-You can't quite imagine,

0:39:010:39:04

when you've just got the hub in your hand and the spokes in the other,

0:39:040:39:08

and a rim hanging from a hook on the ceiling,

0:39:080:39:10

you can't quite imagine there ever being one, being a wheel that's going to go on your bicycle.

0:39:100:39:15

That really comes true, watching Gravy work.

0:39:150:39:19

You can see the fineness, the adeptness of his hand movements.

0:39:190:39:25

The way that he handles the tools, like they're appendages to his body.

0:39:250:39:30

It's a lovely process to watch.

0:39:300:39:32

A wheel that's taken care of properly, overhauled, and not left out to rust,

0:39:340:39:40

can last decades.

0:39:400:39:43

And give you all sorts of fun rides.

0:39:430:39:49

It's super straight, you really can't see, because of all the stickers moving.

0:39:500:39:55

But it's super straight.

0:39:550:39:58

It's way in the middle.

0:39:580:39:59

I leave Steve to start work on the other wheel, and head out for a random encounter

0:39:590:40:05

with one of Fairfax's home-grown cycling characters.

0:40:050:40:08

Last night we're in a bar in Fairfax, and we get talking to the landlord.

0:40:110:40:14

And he says, "If you're writing a book about bicycles, there's one person you have to see in Fairfax.

0:40:140:40:20

"He's called Rudy." He says, "He down this alley, turn left and you can't miss him."

0:40:200:40:24

His picket fence is made of skis, and he's got a 15 ft blue marlin on the wall.

0:40:240:40:28

And inside he's got a fantastic collection of beautifully restored, ancient American bicycles.

0:40:280:40:34

So we're going to have a look.

0:40:340:40:36

-I had no problem finding Rudy's house, and he's more than happy to show me his bikes.

-Come on in.

0:40:370:40:42

Thank you.

0:40:420:40:44

Come on back, I'll show you the fleet.

0:40:460:40:48

Rudy has an extraordinary collection of beautifully restored American Art Deco bicycles,

0:40:500:40:57

from the 1930s to the 1950s.

0:40:570:40:58

These were the precursors to the clunkers that Charlie and Joe were trashing on repack.

0:40:580:41:04

I suspect they don't repay in miles the care Rudy puts into them,

0:41:040:41:08

but you cannot fault a man who loves his wheels like this.

0:41:080:41:12

This is a 1939 Shelby Traveller.

0:41:120:41:15

And this is a 1940 Hiawatha.

0:41:150:41:19

This is the men's bike,

0:41:190:41:21

with the tube here.

0:41:210:41:23

And a girl's bike, back then, she would step through.

0:41:230:41:26

Because, back in the day, they would wear skirts and whatnot.

0:41:260:41:30

-Wouldn't have to suffer the indignity of cocking a leg over a bicycle?

-Correct.

0:41:300:41:34

And this is a 1948 Schwinn DX.

0:41:340:41:38

I transformed it into what I call a fireman's bike.

0:41:380:41:43

You would pull this, that would rub against the wheel, and it creates the...

0:41:430:41:47

HE IMITATES A SIREN

0:41:470:41:50

So you'd pull that, it would rub, then release.

0:41:500:41:55

They have a tremendous feel.

0:41:550:41:56

They make you feel like a kid when you get on the end of the handlebars.

0:41:560:41:59

Isn't that lovely?

0:41:590:42:00

What I it really like about bicycles is the way the rack is designed, the way the lines flow.

0:42:020:42:08

The colour patterns, the horns.

0:42:080:42:10

HONKS HORN

0:42:100:42:13

I'm just intrigued.

0:42:130:42:15

Once I'm done with this particular bike, it goes back with the rest, and I'll start yet another one.

0:42:150:42:20

It's my quiet time. It's just a pleasure, you know,

0:42:200:42:26

when I snap the tank together, and you just get that feeling.

0:42:260:42:30

And then, "OK, I want to do another section,"

0:42:300:42:33

but then it's back to the patience part of it, when you're building.

0:42:330:42:36

I'm popping back to Gravy's to pick up my brand new, hand-built wheels.

0:42:420:42:47

There's the rear one.

0:42:470:42:49

-My God!

-And here's the front one.

0:42:490:42:52

I gave you one of my old postcards.

0:42:520:42:55

-That's actually my hair, believe it or not.

-Is it really?

0:42:550:42:58

-Back in the day.

-Fantastic!

0:42:580:43:00

Just a little something to stick on your wall.

0:43:000:43:04

-Great. That's tremendous.

-Isn't that awesome?

-Yeah, it really is. My hoops!

0:43:040:43:08

-Your hoops.

-I'm so chuffed.

-You're so happy.

0:43:080:43:12

That's 360.

0:43:130:43:16

Gravy, thank you.

0:43:160:43:17

I can't wait to get these on my bike.

0:43:170:43:19

-I can't wait to see it, so you've got my e-mail address?

-I'll send you a photo.

0:43:190:43:24

I fully expect a photo, maybe a little blurb, a little video blurb of you riding it down the road.

0:43:240:43:30

Thanks, Gravy.

0:43:330:43:35

Have fun with those wheels.

0:43:350:43:36

Look at those wheels! Yay!

0:43:360:43:38

My wheels!

0:43:380:43:40

# Somewhere out on that horizon

0:43:400:43:44

# Out beyond the neon lights... #

0:43:470:43:50

I think there is definitely a return to craftsmanship.

0:43:500:43:53

People are looking for engineering excellence.

0:43:530:43:55

They're looking for components which have longevity and durability.

0:43:550:43:59

I can see that in all the component manufacturers that I'm talking to, they're incredibly busy.

0:43:590:44:04

Their order books are full.

0:44:040:44:06

You can probably relate that to a renaissance in quality bicycles.

0:44:060:44:10

People are looking for hard-wearing, beautifully-made components.

0:44:100:44:15

Which will last.

0:44:150:44:18

I've travelled 600 miles north of San Francisco, to the city of Portland, Oregon.

0:44:250:44:30

Straight away I feel at home here.

0:44:300:44:32

It's the most bike friendly city in America.

0:44:320:44:36

The city authority has invested over 100 million in bike infrastructure

0:44:380:44:44

over 10 years, adding 200 miles of cycle lanes.

0:44:440:44:48

The people of Portland now make more bike journeys per capita than any major city in the US.

0:44:480:44:53

A cycling revolution is quietly taking place here, and it's cause for optimism.

0:44:530:45:00

I've come for a coffee with Slate Olson, who works for a bike clothing company, and is heavily involved

0:45:030:45:08

in the Portland cycling scene.

0:45:080:45:09

He believes, whenever the world is in crisis, the bicycle shows its face.

0:45:090:45:15

What we've seen is, especially with gas prices last year really

0:45:170:45:20

raising the idea of a different mode of transportation.

0:45:200:45:22

Average people, normal people, they've left the car and started to get around by bike,

0:45:220:45:27

because they realise how simple it is.

0:45:270:45:29

They say that recession or rationing are the two sure-fire ways to get the bicycle industry moving.

0:45:290:45:35

We've really seen it.

0:45:350:45:37

A lot of people have lost their jobs, or are just looking to be smarter

0:45:370:45:41

about how they're spending their money. Among the easy ways to do that are car,

0:45:410:45:45

car insurance, gas and all of that.

0:45:450:45:47

As Portland's such an easy town to get around, there's such a culture, and bike corrals and all of this,

0:45:470:45:52

it's really a simple way for people to be smarter about where they're spending.

0:45:520:45:56

So you're seeing that right, left and centre.

0:45:560:45:58

That's interesting, back there, by the way. Sorry, I'm a bit distracted.

0:45:580:46:02

She just jumped on top of a lamp post there to have her photograph taken. Hello!

0:46:020:46:07

I don't think that's a tattoo, I think that's actually... it might be tattoo. I think it's pen.

0:46:070:46:12

It's all going on in Mississippi, that's all I know.

0:46:120:46:15

It turns out our tattooed lady is an art student, asking members of the public to draw on her body

0:46:160:46:23

as part of a living art project.

0:46:230:46:26

My hand was a bit shaky, but I couldn't resist the offer.

0:46:260:46:29

-Where am I going to draw this?

-I have a leg.

0:46:290:46:31

OK, perfect.

0:46:310:46:33

-Is my leg OK?

-That's absolutely grand.

0:46:330:46:36

You'll have to hold still.

0:46:360:46:38

It's perfect for Portland, yeah?

0:46:380:46:41

-Cool.

-Have fun.

0:46:410:46:43

Be good.

0:46:430:46:44

Well, there you go.

0:46:440:46:46

God knows where we are now.

0:46:530:46:55

The main reason I've come to Portland it is to buy a headset for

0:46:570:47:00

my bike from a company called Chris King.

0:47:000:47:03

Well, we're truly lost.

0:47:060:47:08

Do you know where Nela Street is?

0:47:110:47:13

-I don't know, you might ask them.

-Thanks very much.

0:47:130:47:17

Go down to 29th, take a left.

0:47:170:47:20

I finally found a man who knows,

0:47:200:47:23

or at least has heard of, Nela Street.

0:47:230:47:25

He said "It ain't much of a street."

0:47:250:47:28

But he knows where it is.

0:47:280:47:31

Chris King!

0:47:310:47:33

I can see it written on a truck. Hallelujah!

0:47:330:47:36

When I arrive, I'm told that the company owner, Chris King himself,

0:47:360:47:40

doesn't give interviews, and doesn't normally allow cameras in.

0:47:400:47:44

But the head of marketing, Chris DiStefano, kindly allows us

0:47:440:47:48

through the door for a quick but controlled glimpse of the factory.

0:47:480:47:53

This would be the culmination of almost everyone else's tour.

0:47:530:47:56

-In fact, everyone else's tour ends right here.

-OK, good.

0:47:560:47:59

But, because it's you and your dream bicycle...

0:47:590:48:02

-You're very kind.

-We'd like to take you past the red door.

0:48:020:48:05

Past the red door!

0:48:050:48:07

Like Campagnolo, Chris King is trying to compete in an aggressive marketplace,

0:48:090:48:15

and guards its patents carefully.

0:48:150:48:17

The headset joins the handlebars and stem to the frame of the bike,

0:48:170:48:21

and Chris King's are world famous for their craftsmanship and longevity.

0:48:210:48:25

We finish our whistle-stop factory tour just in time for lunch.

0:48:250:48:30

-Come on in to the cafe.

-Thank you very much.

0:48:300:48:33

You're welcome.

0:48:330:48:35

There's a very strong bike ethic at this company. Employees are actively encouraged

0:48:350:48:40

to commute to work on two wheels, rather than four.

0:48:400:48:44

One of the main ways that we promote cycling for our employees

0:48:440:48:48

is, when they ride to work, they get credit.

0:48:480:48:51

-And that credit can be used in the cafe.

-Oh. good.

0:48:510:48:53

Also, two months out of the year, we have a bike commute challenge.

0:48:530:48:57

Where, if you ride your bike to work and home every day, you get two extra days of paid time off.

0:48:570:49:02

After lunch, it's time for me to collect my headset.

0:49:020:49:06

Despite all the dazzling colours available, I plump for plain old silver.

0:49:060:49:11

Going for a touch of class.

0:49:110:49:13

Your headset's lined up, ready for your dream bike.

0:49:130:49:15

along with all these other headsets, they're going to go on somebody's dream bicycle as well.

0:49:150:49:20

-That's it.

-That for me?

-Yes.

0:49:200:49:22

Thank you very much indeed.

0:49:220:49:24

-Thank you for putting that together.

-No problem.

-Very kind. Chris...

0:49:240:49:27

-All right.

-I really am very, very excited to have this in my hand.

0:49:270:49:31

Now, pack that up, fly over, and we'll do a ride here.

0:49:310:49:34

-Great, that would be lovely. I'll be back.

-Great.

-Thank you.

0:49:340:49:38

The city of Portland celebrates the bicycle with an annual event called the Bridge Pedal.

0:49:420:49:47

The major bridges and the city centre are closed to cars.

0:49:470:49:51

18,000 people turn out on bikes in an emphatic statement of the city's commitment to two wheels.

0:49:510:49:58

It makes a powerful impression upon me.

0:49:580:50:00

# When I'm out on my bike It's a different mood

0:50:020:50:04

# I leave my brain at home Get up in the saddle

0:50:040:50:06

# No hanging around I don't diddle-daddle

0:50:060:50:08

# I work my legs, I pump my thighs

0:50:080:50:10

# Take in the scenery passing me by

0:50:100:50:13

# So come on Get up on your bike... #

0:50:130:50:15

You really have got the full spectrum of the cycling world out today, which is wonderful.

0:50:160:50:22

Guys on their hand-built recumbents, and people on some pretty obscure tandems, right the way through to

0:50:220:50:28

kids on their bike, and people who get their bike out of the garage once a year for this.

0:50:280:50:32

And it's really, really lovely to see.

0:50:320:50:35

The full spread of humanity on bicycles.

0:50:350:50:39

Riding around Portland.

0:50:390:50:40

American cities are still enslaved to the automobile,

0:50:430:50:46

but Portland is proof that, if you create the right environment, people will ride bicycles.

0:50:460:50:52

Health concerns, climate change, oil prices,

0:50:520:50:54

these things are driving the bicycle back into public consciousness.

0:50:540:50:58

I've got my wheels and my headset, it's time for me to leave America and head for home.

0:50:580:51:04

Portland's not the only city enjoying a renaissance in cycling.

0:51:140:51:18

In London a new era of the bicycle is dawning, heralded by its own celebrity mayor.

0:51:180:51:23

# London calling to the faraway towns

0:51:250:51:28

# Now war is declared And battle come down... #

0:51:280:51:32

Around 50,000 Londoners have hit the streets for the mayor of London's Sky Ride.

0:51:340:51:39

The bicycle is right up there with the printing press and the

0:51:430:51:47

internet as one of the great liberating forces of humanity.

0:51:470:51:50

With the automobile itself.

0:51:500:51:52

It's clean, it's green, you can look up at the trees, you can absorb the beauty of the city,

0:51:520:51:58

and you feel good.

0:51:580:52:00

You get to your meeting or whatever you've got to do,

0:52:000:52:02

with your endorphins coursing through your bloodstream, in a good frame of mind.

0:52:020:52:07

Ideas popping out of every orifice. You're there to work.

0:52:070:52:12

It's a fantastic way of commuting, and obviously we hope very much to increase it.

0:52:120:52:17

We might, perhaps, be at the dawn of a new golden age of the bicycle. Do you get that sense?

0:52:170:52:23

-Don't forget, that in about 1904, 20% of all journeys in London were made by bicycle.

-Is that right?

-20%.

0:52:230:52:30

But we're now back down to 1 or 2%.

0:52:300:52:33

We need to go back to the future.

0:52:330:52:36

We need to rediscover the joys of this brilliantly simple machine.

0:52:360:52:40

The number of cyclists in London almost doubled between 2000 and 2007.

0:52:400:52:46

Once famous for its congestion and smog, London is slowly earning a reputation as a cycle friendly city.

0:52:460:52:53

What do you think about when you're riding your bicycle?

0:52:530:52:56

I think about absolutely everything.

0:52:560:52:57

I compose poems in my head, I think about the next meeting, I have ideas.

0:52:570:53:02

What I really feel is a sense of sympathy and sorrow for those

0:53:020:53:07

-who are stuck, pointlessly, on their own, in motor vehicles. In traffic jams.

-Aye to that.

0:53:070:53:12

Bending their steering wheels like pretzels in frustration,

0:53:120:53:15

-and I really urge them to get out and get on their bikes.

-Brilliant.

0:53:150:53:18

OK, love, you ready? Follow me.

0:53:180:53:21

I've come back to Rourke's Cycles, where Brian's son, Jason, is going to paint my frame.

0:53:250:53:31

It's the moment I've been dreading most of all, as I finally have to decide on the colour.

0:53:310:53:36

That's been popular over the last few years, that sort of dark grey.

0:53:360:53:39

-Has it? Really?

-That's the colour we've just done Muhammad Ali's bike.

0:53:390:53:43

-The colour of blood.

-If it's good enough for Muhammad Ali, it's good enough for you!

0:53:430:53:47

Pink?

0:53:470:53:49

Pink, no! Purple?

0:53:490:53:53

20 years ago, I'd let you have that colour.

0:53:530:53:55

That Bianchi blue, is it? It is quite nice, that, isn't it?

0:53:550:53:59

-You talked about a dark blue, didn't you?

-Yeah.

0:53:590:54:02

There's a dark blue.

0:54:020:54:04

-How would that go with the orange, do you think?

-I wouldn't go that way.

0:54:040:54:09

-We're never going to agree on this, are we?

-No. It's my idea of hell.

0:54:090:54:13

I'm great at procrastinating about which socks to put on in the morning,

0:54:130:54:18

now I've got to choose what colour my bike's going to be. Oh, no!

0:54:180:54:23

-Here we go!

-There's a few more.

0:54:230:54:25

Where's an orange? Give me an orange!

0:54:250:54:27

-Electric orange?

-Electric orange, come on!

0:54:290:54:32

That's actually, as Jeremy Clarkson calls it, ASBO orange.

0:54:320:54:37

I have got a slightly brighter orange.

0:54:390:54:42

-So that would come out brighter, would it?

-Yeah.

0:54:420:54:45

After an hour of agonising deliberation, I finally make up my mind.

0:54:490:54:54

OK. Blue and orange.

0:54:570:54:59

-I'm going for it.

-Let's do it before you change your mind.

0:54:590:55:02

Hang on!

0:55:040:55:05

I'm joking.

0:55:050:55:07

I really like it, I just hope it goes with the blue.

0:55:160:55:20

Look at that!

0:55:290:55:32

With its final coat of lacquer, my bike is hung up to dry.

0:55:320:55:36

At last, it's time to assemble all the parts I've collected from around the world.

0:55:360:55:43

Brian's lead mechanic, Matt, works his magic on building the bicycle.

0:55:430:55:47

My dream bike is finally coming to life.

0:55:530:55:55

It's cost me just over four grand, and a journey of 11,000 miles.

0:55:550:56:01

It might just have the largest carbon footprint in the history of cycling, but I'm not that worried.

0:56:010:56:06

I'll be offsetting it daily for the rest of my life.

0:56:060:56:10

There's an element of sadness, of course,

0:56:160:56:18

because it's been a great journey we've been on,

0:56:180:56:21

and this really is the culmination of it, the bike being put together.

0:56:210:56:26

But, with that, there is also a silver lining to that cloud.

0:56:260:56:32

And the silver lining is, this millimetre-perfect

0:56:320:56:38

incarnation of one of mankind's greatest inventions.

0:56:380:56:42

My bike!

0:56:420:56:45

I'm about to go on my new bike for the very, very first time.

0:56:570:57:01

Again, enjoy the ride!

0:57:050:57:08

This bike reflects my lifelong love affair with the bicycle.

0:57:110:57:15

It also carries my future hopes.

0:57:150:57:16

You make a covenant with a machine like this, to look after it for as long as it spirits you away.

0:57:170:57:24

We're equal partners, then, in a relationship that will last decades.

0:57:240:57:29

It's very alive.

0:57:290:57:33

Alive with the...

0:57:330:57:36

skill of the people who made it.

0:57:360:57:39

Beautifully balanced.

0:57:390:57:41

It feels very tight, obviously, because it's brand new.

0:57:410:57:44

It's magic.

0:57:470:57:49

Absolute magic.

0:57:490:57:51

I want to ride around the world!

0:57:520:57:55

Everything I've seen on this journey suggests the bicycle is in good hands.

0:58:050:58:10

Our ancestors thought it one of their greatest achievements.

0:58:100:58:14

This idea is coming back into fashion.

0:58:140:58:16

Guided by craftsmen, expert engineers and innovators.

0:58:160:58:21

And by the strong communities that exist wherever the bicycle thrives.

0:58:210:58:27

We are at the dawn of a new golden age of the bicycle.

0:58:270:58:30

Long may you ride!

0:58:300:58:33

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:430:58:46

E-mail [email protected]

0:58:460:58:50