> Steven assertions about the British contribution to what I call CR Cycling
> (lightweight sport cycling c. 1940s-mid 80s) are jawdropping.
> The simple fact is that British produced more of what we like to collect and
> opine about, quality lightweights, than any country in the world. Indeed,
> most likely equal or greater to all of the others combined. And except for
> what was shipped to the USA, most of this was for dometic consumption. For,
> again, Britain had more folks doing what we like to do: sports and
> competition cycling, than any country.
Please supply your sources for these 'facts'. Given that I have worked for two British ex-pros (one from the 50's and the other from the 70's), I base much of my information on what was happening in Britain from the information that they have related to me. Both have said that during the time they were racing, competition in Britain was largely limited to a club or regional level and was in any case a long cry from the level they found once they left Britain to race in other countries. I also question your numbers regarding the number of British lightweights as a part of the total world output. But in this case, I think that this is largely due to the fact that your definition of 'lightweight' does not correspond to that which I have heard defined during my travels. In fact, your beloved SA bikes built during the CR would only on rare occasions be considered 'lightweights' among collectors of race and cyclotouring machinery.
> Just take the circulation figures for the major cycling magazines in Britain
> during the time and tell me Britons had no real interest in or talent for
> sports cycling! Or did they just read the mag for the ads for jock itch
> cream and bodybuilding regimens? 60,000 folks read "Cycling" every week in
> the 1930s. And that was one of four or five major cycling magazines.
The cycling magazine now having the largest paid circulation is the Italian Bicisport and their sole foreign readership readily eclipses your "Cycling" numbers. Furthermore, cycling as a national sport in Britain was not on a par with that witnessed in continental Europe. Likely due to the limitations imposed by law, cycling in Britain (again based upon what I have been told) was largely club based and local, with only limited national competition and virtually no international competition. Reporting on such events in national newspapers was therefore very minimal, so publicatiosn like 'Cycling' were often the sole source of information. Compare this to France or Italy where both the Tour and Giro are both the seed of a daily newspaper, dedicated solely to sports. In fact, the newspaper issues with the special sections regarding the Tour and Giro remain to this day among the best selling editions.
> Steven also mentions "international" championships and the dearth of British
> champions. Here, he forgets that British cycling was rather provencial and
> national... the country had its own major cycling races and countless local
> time trials. It had its own flourishing national cycle culture that predated
> that on the continent in many aspects. Heck the British invented the safety
> bicycle and were the first to mass produce it. To assert that
> "internationalism" denotes quality is absurd. Coppi never contested in the
> Milk Race but we won't hold that against him.
I have not forgotten at all that British cycling was mainly provincial and intra-national (as opposed to international). If you look back to what brought about my post, it is your own post where you categorically state that, for you personally, Japanese bikes do not hold any interest as Japan does not have any cycling history or racing culture. My post was not meant to be an attack on British cycling, but a simple demonstration of the fact that Britain and Japan have had very similar competitive cycling histories. A simple verification would have shown that Japan, exactly like Britain, has a long history of local, regional and intra-national cycling competition. Granted of course that the British histroy started before the Japanese. So, on one side, you deride Japanese bicycle culture and manufacturing, saying that Japan is not a cycling nation because they do not compete on an international basis and now confirm that the same holds true for Britain. While the Japanese did indeed get into cycling after Britain, they do have more than 100 years of history. As for your curious comment about Coppi, please be aware that Coppi would not have been able to dispute the Milk Race even if he wanted to. It was only instituted in 1951 and then solely as an amateur race. Coppi had already turned pro more than a decade before. It should also be pointed out that the race sponsors were trying to import the continental hysteria regarding cycling to Britain for their own benefit. The 'Milk' sponsorship was based upon economics and not generosity. Virtually all European tours predate the 'Tour of Britain'.
> During the CR period most of the "international" roadraces were not
> international but European. If your idea of an international event is three
> Italians, two Frenchman and a Dutchman heading a peleton, then you must
> think the World Series is just that.
I regret that I must say that you are completely mistaken here. Britain was one of the originators of the international competitive cycling governing body (now known as UCI). They are also among the few countries in the world that have remained a constant since the inception of this body in November 1892. It is this governing body that has always been the sole determinant of what you quaintly call World Series. Other original members of this governing body were the US, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, England, France, the Netherlands, Scotland and Ireland. Italy on the other hand was not originally a member.
> Again, my point is not that one country is or was better than another in
> cycling but that there is simply no question that certain countries--
> France, Italy and Britain--- had more of a defined sports cycle "culture"
> than others. If a zillion Chinese ride roadsters to work, does that
> translate into a sports cycle culture? No. Do a score or so talented
> American framebuilders and a core of dedicated and talented riders
> constitute a national cycling passion? During the CR "Period"? I wish. Then
> I could have joined my high school cycling team. Instead we had drivers ed
> and basketball.
Having been to school in France, I can tell you that there was no school cycling team at my school, or for that matter at any French school I am aware of. The same goes for the 5 Italian high schools where my wife taught, plus all the other Italian schools that I am aware of. However as Dennis Young has pointed out, his local school in Japan does have a cycling team... It is a truth worldwide that international competition will occur between all the top national athletes whenever economic and social impediments can be overcome. There have never been any major impediments to British cyclists competing internationally. The numbers in the CR period have however always been minute. Combining the greater cultural impediments with the fact that the top local cyclists could earn far more staying put in Japan, and you find that there is a logical reason for the Japanese champions to never have been noticed on the world stage.
> I don't think one can doubt that this cycling culture in France, Italy and
> Britain influenced the design and manufacture of the bikes we collect.
> Anyone out there who thinks otherwise, can exchange his Italian made
> lightweight for a Chinese made one, no questions asked. How you guys can
> cherish an Italian or French made bike and think it was just an accident it
> was designed and built by those unique cycle nations is just beyond me.
> You've all gone native in your "global village".
Over the long term, cycle development has had little to do with nationality. Granted there have been tangents tht may have held sway in a particular country for a period of time, but over the long term, teh products coming from all countries have been more or less universal. It has always been on a worldwide basis. This is why virtually all cyle related patents are international in scope rather than national only. It has indeed been the case of a global village behind this development, with at times the British being the contributors, at other times the Italians, the French, the Japanese and yes, even the Chinese. Personally, I do not look at the nationality in the least when I decide on whether or not bikes interest me. I have owned bikes from the US, Canada, France, Britain, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Japan, the Netherlands, San Marino and Czechoslovakia. I know where their contries of origin are, but this is not a determining factor.
-- Steven Maasland Moorestown, NJ
> Peter Kohler
> Washington DC USA