Just as the city calms down after going pink-crazy for the Giro d’Italia, Belfast turns its attention to celebrating less elite varieties of cycling this weekend with the annual Fréd Festival.
Organisers say the the Fréd Festival is aimed squarely at ordinary, everyday cyclists who want to make the city a better place to cycle, in contrast to celebrating the racing snakes of the pro peloton.
The festival runs from June 6 to 22, starting this Friday with free coffee at Established Coffee followed by a Lunchtime Lecture in The Mac by Carlton Reid on his soon to be published book, Roads Were Not Built For Cars.
Lunchtime Lectures continue the following Friday with Philip McAleese (inventor of the SeeSense light) and conclude in Bike Week with Andrew Grieve, head of the new Cycling Unit who will outline the Government’s vision for cycling in Northern Ireland and in particular Belfast.
Other events include three tailored workshops designed to take wannabe spanner-wielders from from maintenance noob to zen master in just three weeks. There’s a trip along the eight-mile Comber Greenway to The Tudor Cinema to see classic bike racing movie Breaking Away; a Bike Beach BBQ on the coast where a number of glowing barbeques will be waiting for all manner of ingredients; the Ride on Belfast mass commute on the June 20; and The Fréd Awards will be opening for nominations.
Most events are free or have a small charge to cover costs.
Organisers say the festival’s name comes from the term ‘Fred’, “a derisive term used by ‘serious’ road cyclists to describe other cyclists who do not conform to serious road cyclists’ norms with regard to dress and equipment, and appear amateurish to them.”
Fred Festival organisers want to reclaim the term to mean “anyone with a deep passion for cycling” and have founded Fred CC to that end, an informal cycling club for folks who want to build a better, more vibrant bike culture and in turn encourage more people to use the bike.
All details can be found at www.thefred.cc.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.