An immense international bike race conceived as a monument to international fraternity and solidarity. Entrepreneurialism from a liberated Eastern Europe. Ingenuity from a small country that’s willing to take on and beat bigger, better-resourced rivals. The iniquitous consequences of toxic masculinity. The baleful influence of gangsters on sport and the wider world. A bike that promises a world without hydrocarbons. All this and a disappearing penis.
Conquista Issue 27. Take that, Vlad.
Also available in print here.
“Any nation can take part in the Peace Race. East and West, guys who know all about cycling and others who can barely stay upright. Teams from all over the Soviet bloc will be there, of course, but so were many others, such as Great Britain, Holland, Finland, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. Also, surprisingly, the German Federal Republic and even the United States send teams. And other, more exotic cycling countries. Mongolia, for example. Or India (one rider competed in a turban). Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco, Mexico, Cuba. As many as you can think of. With no time cuts. The brotherhood among the participants is the main thing.” Marcos Pereda tells the extraordinary, neglected story of The Peace Race: Legends beyond Fraternity.
Long-distance transport without batteries, particulates or CO2 emissions – and without paying Putin for the privilege. Trevor Gornall investigates the tantalising possibilities of hydrogen-powered cargo bikes in The LAVO Bike.
Čestmír Kalaš withdrew from elite level racing at 29 to spend a quiet retirement raising a family, riding 120km a day to his job as an auto electrician, racing on the Masters circuit and coaching the national cyclo-cross squad. So far, so Stakhanovite. But when Toni Maier mentioned that he was looking for someone in Eastern Europe to start manufacturing for his Assos brand, Čestmír wasn’t about to be put off by something as trifling as a complete lack of time, resources, experience, staff, qualifications and money. Trevor Gornall tells Part One of The Kalas Story, in which a tiny firm from Slovakia rises from nothing to supply kit to elite professional and national teams – even British Cycling.
‘Number 8 Wire’ was 19th century New Zealand’s low-cost solution to the problem of escaping sheep, subsequently used to solve many a practical problem. These days it’s shorthand for Kiwi ingenuity on a budget. But there is nothing low-tech or provincial about Glenn Catchpole. After discovering track cycling while a student of Industrial Design, he quickly started improving on existing equipment, from chain rings to turbo trainer parts. But when he turned to handlebars the world sat up and took notice. Russell Jones picks up the story in Velobike – Not Quite a Number 8 Wire Story.
In issue 26 we reviewed his extraordinary new book End to End, a history of riding from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and concluded he was ‘an obsessive who is obsessed with obsessives, making him a sort of obsessive cubed.’ Last year Paul Jones indulged a previous obsession. It rained and rained. It was so cold that a sensitive part of him briefly shrank into nothingness. But after taking on Winnats Pass at The National Hillclimb Championships another part of him – his heart – is still on that hill.
‘Rude in his behaviour, rude in his speech, ruder to himself than to his collaborators, Henri Desgrange saw life as a permanent fight.’ (Jacques Goddet). What are the true ideological roots of the Tour de France? And does its present form still reflect the prejudices of its founder? Suze Clemitson digs deep into Sex, Culture Wars & Toxic Masculinities.
In Conquista 10 Matthew Bailey attempted to tell the story of Japan’s keirin racing, attracting the attention of publisher James Spackman, who was looking for someone to do a proper, book-length analysis. Happily, in Justin McCurry – the Guardian’s correspondent in Japan and South Korea – he found someone who was qualified to do the job. And what a job he has done, covering (among other things) keirin’s roots in global conflict, the plight of women riders and members of ethnic minorities, gambling and the role of Japan’s yakuza gangs, the indefinable spiritual connection of the Japanese people and competitive dumpling eating. Bringing things full circle, now Matthew reviews Justin’s War on Wheels. How very Zen.
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