Don't forget that randonneur is a French word and a French invention. I think sport riding was just as active in France as Britain, it just took a different form. And it was the French tourists who refined the derailleur for decades before the racers accepted it.
I like British bikes too and was just out in the garage swaping RD's between a Bates and a Caygill, hopefully both coming to Cirque.
> I think the French indeed did (and obviously still do) pleasure riding
> although not to the extent of the British. Certainly France produced the
> type of relatively sophisticated touring machines that I don't think one saw
> in Italy. But I am not sure if there was the degree of amateur time trialing
> and club racing that saw such a explosion in the demand for lightweight
> machines before the War and immediately afterwards in England.
> In the 1950s there was even a faint glimmer of hope that those arch
> cyclists, the Nigerians (if you think I'm passionate about Raleigh.. talk to
> a Nigerian!), would adopt cycle sport. In 1957 Raleigh sent Reg Harris to
> the Nigerian Independence Day festivities.
> Of course one of the factors in cycle sport is the condition of roads... we
> forget that one of the reasons cycling thrived to the extent it did in
> England was the extent and quality of well paved roads as well as cycle
> regulation and laws. Hence those still remarkable long distant records of
> the 1920s and 1930s that Mick Butler has referred to. Bert James, S.H.
> Ferris, Charles Holland were as famous as any of the Tour de France winners
> in their days and their exploits were contemporary to the early days of the
> Were these British riders and machines any good? Bert James in March 1938
> did 100 miles in 3 hours 45 minutes 51 seconds. On a Raleigh. With a
> Sturmey-Archer hub gear.
> Me, I'm ready to buy a Cinelli Super Corsa and see what I'm missing. I'm
> already on the cycleway to Perdition after buying a French bike, so I've got
> nothing to lose.
> Peter Kohler
> Washington DC USA