totally cyced

around the world in eighty days - cyced

i am geographically challenged. it's a situation of which i have been aware since second year geography lessons in the makeshift classroom in our high school playground (adjacent to the maths/statistics room). i do believe geography lessons have changed somewhat since those early days, now a tad more concerned with political and social aspects of a country, rather than where the towns and rivers exist. nonetheless, my only benefit to the class as a whole, was a demonstrable ability to draw maps, a skill of which many of my classmates took advantage. i'm happy to say, the subject abandoned me long before i had need of sitting any important exams.

however, in terms of where i am at any given moment, nothing has improved. i know where edinburgh, glasgow and aberdeen are located and i'm pretty sure that london is down south somewhere, but there would be no point in my attempting to join a university challenge team, just in case an unwanted, locationally-based question surfaced. in 2007 and 2008, i rode from london to paris, with absolutely no idea of where i was at any given moment. ten years later, that ignorance hadn't changed. when rapha invited me to scoot around provence, though my finest day's cycling ever brought me along the la nesque gorge, hand me a map of southern france, and i'm sure i'd fail to find the scene of my velocipedinal joy.

which is why the service provided by manchester-based cyced (psyched?) would have been ideal. mind you, as one who tends to discard the recorded garmin information on returning, i may well have been too late. for those who, like me, have not heard of cyced until now, i might point out that they offer to create large posters featuring any particular ride of note you may wish to recall in graphic terms. in addition to this printed output, they're also keen to create cycling hubs; not the type to which you'd attach spokes and a rim, but localised amalgamations of cyclists. currently these exist in shropshire, gloucestershire and south wales. still a bit unsure of what all this amounts to, i spoke to cyced founder, angus king, to find out more. for instance, how long has cyced been in existence?

"We've been going for two years now, but it was a little different back then. It started out during my time at the University of Gloucestershire and being part of the cycling club there really drove my passion for cycling and the industry as a whole."

as i have probably pointed out to the point of irritation, thewashingmachinepost has been invading the interwebs for just over 22 years, something that happened pretty much by accident, having arisen originally as a means to an end. yet, while i like to think of myself as a tiny corner in the cycle industry building, i've rarely found the impetus to create anything directly velocipedinal, something that might change the world forever. however, there can be little doubt that this status quo, if i may refer to it in such a manner, exists almost entirely due to a total lack of ambition on my part. happily, i believe i'm in the minority in that respect, otherwise we'd still all be riding penny-farthings. angus king is one possessed of this higher level of ambition, yet, from where did the cyced idea arise?

 cyced print

"As I mentioned before, Cyced had a different focus when it first began. I'm sure you, like many others, were like me when you first started cycling; telling every man, women and dog about two wheels and the thrills to be had. So Cyced was created originally as a blog to share my passion and things I learned about along the way. It soon became apparent, however, that there was an opportunity to bring something to life in Gloucestershire and so Cyced became a cycling hub for the area.
"Cyced's cycling hubs now cater for several areas and we're busy right now increasing that. When I say 'we', I refer to myself and Evan who showcases his incredible talent for writing and his passion for cycling through the content on the site. But back to the hubs; these were created to stitch the fragmentation of the cycling community in the area, to help newcomers and beginners discover cycling routes, bike shops, events and cycling clubs. And I really think that this is a problem across the nation where there's lots going on, but not a single source or website to tie it together. That's what we are still trying to accomplish alongside our cycling art.
"The bespoke Cyced cycling art was born out of apathy for the apps. You do your biggest cycle ride, create many a fond memory, and all you have to show for it, is a few kudos on your phone screen? We're trying to drive a notion that if you complete something that stretched your limits and is an incredible achievement, then it deserves to be celebrated! I think long and hard about how we pass things by, or compare ourselves to others way too much; we should stop and pat ourselves on the back sometimes. Hopefully our artwork offers a platform helping people do that. It's also a smashing conversation piece at that next dinner party."

as with most excellent ideas, it's the sort of thing that, despite my admitted lack of ambition, i'm kicking myself for not having thought of myself. no doubt there are at least one or two of you thinking exactly the same thing. however, my lack of ambition has brought a measure of questioning that tends to stop too many ideas dead in their tracks. maybe i too could make nice maps of favoured rides, but am i sure the perceived demand would be sufficient to keep me in the manner to which i've only just become accustomed? don't get me wrong, i meet a lot of cyclists, but i don't always get the impression poster maps are uppermost in their minds. is it possible that the dramatic increse in the number of uk cyclists has made a service such as cyced more of a viable concern?

"You know, it's really hard to say. We're bridging several pillars here: those that are interested in art, cycling, and data. Currently, data and cycling seem to go hand in hand, but we don't really know the percentage of UK cyclists who'd appreciate an artistic souvenir of their accomplishments. I think it's certainly quite high, however and the more sportive, Audax and cycle holiday enthusiasts there are, the more opportunity we'll have to help bring their accomplishments to life."

 cyced print

if i might briefly return to my opening dramatisation, i have pointed out that throughout my continental cycling adventures, i was totally ignorant of my place in the firmament. one of my cycling companions on last year's hot chillee london-paris, having forgotten to charge his garmin at the end of day one, was surprised to admit just how freeing it was to ride without any possibility of information overload. it became simply a case of following the maserati up front. thus, had i bumped into angus on my return and he'd offered to encapsulate my rode for posterity, we'd have reached something of an impasse, resulting in an empty space on my sitting room wall.

however, i realise i'm in the minority when it comes to recording any pertinent ride information. what sort of data does angus need to create a print?

"On our website we have two options: a single-day cycling art print, or a multi-day one. We ask for a Strava link/s (or GPX file) and then a personalised line as the title of the ride. However we have had all sorts through, including a JPEG image of a trip from London to Paris, and while it's a lot harder for us to produce it like that, we get the job done. It's also our promise to create art you'll love; we never go to print without approval from the customer. We always get a few amends or additions that they'd like to customise and I hope we always go that extra mile/Km to make sure it's right. Free of charge, of course."

though i no longer have the discovery channel on my telly box, i've watched enough travel documentaries to witness the hours, days and weeks of planning that go into getting from a to b, even if the convoluted parcours demands endless pen scribblings on a map. suffice it to say, the results to be gained from a cyced mapping are a darned sight more attractive than anything seen on a bothy table. presumably angus has more sophisticated means of translating that gps data into a poster worthy of admiration? is there software to take care of business, or are the maps created by hand?

"I could bore you with all sorts of API and map data talk, but essentially its a bit of both! We use offline mapping software that provides us with generated map styling (colours and place names etc.) and from there we work that into our design software to take care of the personalisation and graphic aspects of each piece of cycling artwork. Each map requires bespoke elements to make it work."

you will not be at all surprised that the thought of tracing a route on a map is an act that would fill me with dread. even a simple ride from lochranza at the north end of arran to lagg on the south, along the only road capable of getting me there and back created more awkward moments than it really should have. i'm a great believer in simply reading road signs, well aware that i could be miles off the desired route before realising. had there been need of sitting a map of islay side by side with one of kintyre and another of arran, it's more than possible i would have subsequently had to spend at least a few hours in a darkened room with a damp cloth on my forehead. the thought of a multi-day bike ride, planned solely by yours truly does not bear thinking about. do these provide any particular limitations? for instance, how would cyced have coped with mark beamont's round the world in eighty days?

 cyced print

by way of an answer, angus pointed me to the map shown at the top of the page.

we are fortunate, in the principality, to be visited by a number of cyclists for whom a ride on islay equates well with their continental excursions. as we ride past our ever increasing number of distilleries, most are happy to relate not only the locations to which they have travelled overseas, but the height of the climbs grimpeured with relish. it would be remiss of me not to mention that not all of those bicyclists are of uk domicile. given this mondialisation of cycling as both sport and activity, are cyced posters available solely to uk-based velocipedinists, or is this a worldwide venture?

"Right now we only ship to the UK, but we're looking at expanding. We have many UK cyclists choosing cycling routes abroad and our system does allow us to plot a route anywhere (as shown in the 80 days print). I anticipate Europe being a brilliant market for this, but right now there's work to be done by us in the UK. We're based in Manchester and as a small unit there's a lot of growth potential here."

at the risk of being the resident cynic, the chap who happily assumes the mantle of devil's advocate and asks what happens after angus has sold double-glazing to everyone (if you catch my drift), are there plans to expand upon the cyced portfolio?

"We're reviewing colours and styles currently and looking at other ways we can bring data to life. There is so much scope here and we're so excited to continue hearing cyclists' stories and seeing where theyve been!"


monday 13 august 2018

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................