Despite having enjoyed a good working rapport with Tony in particular for a good six years via telephone and email, the opportunity had never presented itself for us to meet. Neither in my years as a cycling journo had I made the pilgrimage to Euro bike. No particular mystery to it, by nature I’m a quiet, fairly shy yet sociable freelancer who spends much of his time testing kit or tapping at a hot keyboard long into the night…Something in my psyche you might say. Imagine my delight at being invited along with the gang…However, I hadn’t bargained on four of us sharing a very bijous Hymer caravan. Yes, four fellas sharing a very confined space on a gravel campsite. That said, it was a time of both enormous productivity and equal hilarity. Getting in and out proved rather challenging and highly amusing to bystanders thanks to a slightly idiosyncratic lock.
The serious business of planning, photographing and reporting on one of the industry’s most significant bike exhibitions was interspersed by team building and good humour on tap. Well, you’d have to be good humoured to share a confined space with yours truly who can snore like the proverbial horse-although TR generously described mine as rhythmic and soothing… I daren’t invite comment from the others.
Now, communal facilities and the timing of showers in particular required a period of adjustment. Within forty- eight hours we’d had our shower gels misappropriated from the shower block. Enjoying a pre campsite breakfast shower demanded precision timing- up before seven, otherwise you’d be stuck in a very, very long queue.. However, some unrelated campers of a very clearly masculine gender sporting copious facial hair thought nothing of brazenly using the women’s facilities and as for the toilet block, well… think baked bean tent scene in blazing saddles and you’ve got the idea!
Two French women simply blundered through the Hymer’s open door asking if they could stay with us were followed by an older German gentleman who popped in before announcing he was in the “wrong tent” provided further moments of astonishment and hilarity.
On the subject of breakfast and indeed, food generally, Germany is not good for vegetarians and pork is very much a staple-served with seemingly everything. Mercifully, the team proved sympathetic to my dietary requirements but I’m sure a few eyebrows were discretely raised on discovering I am also tea total. I make no apologies for this and more than compensate with my inability to resist road path fixers, rough stuff tourers with flared drops, bar end levers, and other curiosities.
Come rain, shine or massive electrical storms we were at the press office for nine, formulating the day’s agenda, strategy and a bit of copy too. Tuesday was demo day and ferociously hot to boot as we approached the steep inclines of the Austrian border whereupon my biodegradable plastic bag did just that rather unexpectedly.
Mercifully TR’s rucksack saved the day and further embarrassment and I returned the favour in the form of pedals…Yes, I leant him my much-loved 1992 Look. Had I known these would be the cause of much derision, I would’ve bought the Lego type purchased as an impoverished student for my winter bike back in 1994!
That aside, we got to play with two similar, yet surprisingly different top end road bikes. Keeping to the editorial brief in the main, my legendry deviations towards the obscure-a quirk that is usually met with tolerant amusement, I spent a fair bit of time extolling the virtues of Magura hydro-stops, drop bar mtb based tourers, not to mention those bar end controls and of course, Waxoyl.
Summing up, I left the show with only a huge grin and bulging memory cards but have since developed strange and overwhelming urges to procure a high-end fast, four season’s commuter like this Idworx. Complete with integrated carbon fork, XT grouppo, pursuit bars, bar cons, Magura hydro-stops, guards, rack and dynamo lighting; it’s a mighty competent bike-as-car package-Wunderbar!
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)