Can anyone tell me how this is supposed to sell bikes?

At bike shows there are rules.

Fixies must be bling.Bringaexpo

Electric motors must crop up slightly unexpectedly.Electric MTB Bringaexpo Budapest

And somewhere there must be a lovely Bianchi in celeste blue.Bringaexpo Hungary

These are given.

The company will remain nameless for discretion’s sake, but I have to say this is the very first image as you walk through the door at the Bringaexpo today in Budapest. Another rule – at every show there must be one piece of marketing that makes you go “what were they thinking?” Bringaexpo Budapest

Padua is a great place to be a cyclist – and with added Cycle Chic

Padua cycle rideAlthough it is much less well known than some of its more famous neighbours Venice and Verona I think Padua is a great place to ride a bike and should make a good stopping point for any passing cycle tourists or advocates interested in seeing a fully traffic calmed city in Italy. (Thinks out loud “Padua for my English readers or Padova out of respect for its proper name? No idea – use a bit of both.”)

Last week in Verona I was lucky enough to be guided and helped by the cycle tours organised by local volunteers but here in Padua the local FIAB volunteers were flat out proving cycling fun for children visiting the Padova Expobici cycling show so I was a bit more on my own.

However they did provide the equipment, a mountain bike that was a reasonable steed for the cobbled streets throughout the city centre. Unfortunately when I first collected it from the hotel baggage room it had a flat which did lead to one of the most entertaining misunderstandings of my ventures into Italian.

My hosts asked me to bring the bike to the children’s try out area at the show where the volunteers had said they would stick in a new tube. So of course along I pop pushing the bike and wander up to the desk. Unfortunately the chap on the desk was the one person not in the know and he was convinced I was a 50 year old juvenile who wanted to play on the kids track! I was sent off to play with the big kids despite all my attempted explanations.  It was all resolved with considerable amusement a bit later by the rest of FIAB Padova.

Arch in PadovaAnyway back to my trips into the city.

The photos here come from two excursions into the town which I fitted around my work at the Expobici. On Saturday morning when the flat tyre was discovered I walked the city which led to my early discovery of the great contrast with Verona that I blogged about last week.

I keep mentioning in my posts how much  I like mornings, there is something quite different about a city waking up, especially when the dominant noise is the rattling of bicycles and the shouts of the market traders , not to mention the fact that you can actually smell pastries and coffee everywhere.Padua cobbles

On Saturday evening I also had a ride into town but unfortunately no time for photos as I was off to dinner with my hosts. This gave me a ride through the city from north to south and a great chance to zig zag around the narrow alleys and short cuts. However I was stopped in my tracks when I emerged into Piazza Prato della Valle. It is the most enormous open square that I have ever seen in a city of this size. I was immediately reminded of Plaza de Espana in Seville but this seemed even bigger.

This gave me the itinerary for my Sunday morning ride because I really wanted to see the Piazza in daylight, even if the morning was a bit gloomy. But this time because I had a bike I was able to take a slightly longer route and I decided to circle around the branch of a river which serves as a historic moat around the inner city. Riding along waterways you often see bits of architecture and heritage that survive from different eras and the water itself can be great. Turned out that Padova was no exception, the western branch of the river took me along quiet streets with some gorgeous old bridges, buildings and perspectives on the city.Padua cycle ride by river

padua architecturePadua housesPaduapadua by bikeWith time running out I swung back towards the centre of the city along the ample cycle lanes and came to Piazza Prato della Valle again. The translation is “Meadow of the Valley” so I can only imagine that at one time this was a vast open space leading to the river. Today it is a formal square with a ring of water features, statutes and seats in the middle and a vast open expanse of walking and cycling space. At one end Abbazia di Santa Giustina is a huge church and abbey but even it seems lost in the corner of the open space.Padua

The cyclists mooching through the square just showed the scale, they looked tiny and even a club group of 20 road riders turned out in immaculately matching club colours could not make it look busy.Cycling Club group Padua

A check on Wikipedia after returning tells me this is indeed the largest square in Italy, some claim when you consider something like St Peter’s in Rome.

Great place to ride a bike. And on a human level some final thoughts. When Venice was a city state Padua was its university town, a tradition it keeps up today. So the first thing I noticed about the cyclists and pedestrians was the large numbers of young people, something cycling shares with other great university centres, surely something we must keep building on throughout the world. Padua

And also in keeping with the great cycling centres of Amsterdam and Copenhagen I am sure that a significant majority of the cyclists I saw were women. Padua

PaduaAs advocates we are always told that when you make your cycling cities female friendly you are on the right path, Padua cycling culture must be a great example because it is young, female and wearing ordinary clothes.. The Cycle Chic movement writ large, excellent.

Now if only the cycling shows could understand that ….. But that is another story.

Mario Cipollini – new “Bond” movie from cycling’s best showman

I was going to publish a few pictures from the Eurobike trade show over the weekend.

But probably the best show of the week was on a giant screen set in a large stylish black booth in the Italian hall. It takes a lot to overshadow Colnago and Pinarello, but if anyone was going to it would be Super Mario.

Us cycle racing fans of just a few years back just loved the Saeco red train which was virtually the first time we saw the mass leadout on our TV screens. And the emotion of the Italian team when they finally united behind him to win the world champs at Zolder was great.

Some may think he was just a showman – but I think he was great for the sport, so this one goes in the video library.

Bodensee, Allgäu, Southern Germany, bicycles and crimes against cycling

Test ride carbon fibreI am at the Eurobike trade fair for work. Mostly bike fairs involve being plunged into a morass  of competing booths and emerging blinking into the light after three or four days in complete exhaustion. Click the “Cycle Shows” tab below to catch a different flavour of the shows I have experienced since taking on my new job.

SwitzerlandBodensee ferry and bicyclesBut Eurobike has a treat in store. By an accident of history Europe’s largest bike show ended up in the town of Friedrichshaven on the shores of Lake Constance, the Bodensee in southern Germany. The industry types who have been coming here for 20 years or more moan and groan about the lack of access and hotels and the traffic jams because the town isn’t set up for a show in this scale.

But – but, but, but. You have to get here. And in many people’s case this means coming via Zurich. Two hours on Swiss Railways, then the ferry across the Bodensee from Ramshorn or Konstanz. As you cross the ferry you can also see the evidence of the booming cycle tourism culture building in the area, each time I come I see more and more cyclists – much better than my first lonely ride as a student visitor in 1984.

And you get to stay out in the small towns of the Allgäu with family run hotels in immaculate settings with restaurants set out on the traffic free market squares.

And demo day? A 30 minute bus ride up into a tiny town in the Allgäu hills where 2000 bike shop owners, business people and hangers-on like me get to try out hundreds of bikes on waymarked trails.

What’s not to like – especially as this year we were treated to roasting hot temperatures. We took two really nice road bikes from Ritchey out onto the road route which gave some lovely images of rolling hills, beautifuly kept farms and very smooth roads. We also tested two of the new range from Tern which were very impressive, and much more relevant to real life in Brussels!Allgau scenery

Allgau sceneI also noticed that even the smallest settlements had a lot of solar panels – showing just how far ahead of most of the rest of the world this aspect of German life is. All in all a picture of civilised living.

However what is unforgivable is the Australian who conformed to national stereotype and brought only flip-flops to a cycling demo day. (They are called “thongs” to Aussies – please avoid confusion with a piece of string pretending to be underwear, which could in fact be a worse sight on a bike).

Actually an even worse crime was committed here- actually trying to justify the “thongs” by telling the staff on the booth that Cadel Evans dresses like this at the weekend. Sorry – no, Cadel has some class.

What is it that tells me that this global car company really doesn’t have a clue?

Taken today on the Opel stand at the ISPOBike cycle show in Munich:

*”Wir leben autos” originally mistranslated by me as “we love cars”, actually “we live cars” – which is probably worse. Thanks Marco for the correction.

Taipei Cycle Show (2) – “madness motel”

I was going to add a post today about the start of the cycle show. But I just have to write about our hotel.

Ibis Hotel, Taipei

Ibis Hotel, Taipei

See anything odd?

Just your everyday anonymous square box. But the web site bills it as a “boutique hotel”. Well to my understanding that means a hotel with a bit of a twist, often a conversion from a previous use that gives it some interesting features.

Standard foyer, marble and plants, alright so far. But then some slightly complicated instructions about going through two doors and the room needing to be “opened up”.

To my astonishment on the 4th floor I stepped out of the lift area into something that looked like a 1970’s night club. Very dark, with some reflected neon lighting bouncing off a strange concrete stairwell, made up of a circular ramp.

To my left what appears to be a set of garage doors, the first of which was open with a door at the back, with my room number on it. And yes they are plastic fish hanging from the ceiling.

IBIS Hotel Taipei, garage room

IBIS Hotel Taipei, garage room

And then it hit me. I am in a multi-storey car park. This is the nuttiest motel I have ever seen. You can drive your car up the old access ramps and park it in your own private garage, in front of your room. Behind your personal garage, your room.

The room is nice enough in terms of decor, but I just can’t get over the fact that I’m sleeping in a car park. Actually the other odd thing is that none of the rooms are joined to the windows you see, they are either fakes, or shine on to service corridors. My room is truly sleeping in a concrete box, even if a well decorated concrete box. And apparently one target market is Chinese couples who come here for their wedding night. Not exactly my cup of tea.

Manfred Neun from ECF has come up with a solution of course, we need to get some bikes from the Cycle Show and park them outside to make a statement to the other customers. Or maybe not, let’s just celebrate the madness.