Radical Atavism is about sharing stories from the road, knocking the dust off your bike, and reflecting on an experience. These thoughtful reflections, penned by autodidactic raconteurs, are just one of the feathers we’ll proudly peacock in our caps. Looking back at the past twelve months, we’ve got a list of ten articles that stood out from the rest. Included are stories from the birthplace of mountain biking in the US, of FKTs, CKTs, events, and more. Don’t miss out on this nostalgic trip through The Radavist’s Top Ten Stories of 2022!
Each framebuilder has probably their own relationship with the Concourse de Machines. Mine is not monochrome.
On the one hand, there is the excitement of creating a product with soul and sharing it with the framebuilding family. Our profession is “socially” atypical. It is at the same time very solitary: us and our ideas, our tools, the calm atmosphere of the workshop. And it is also inevitable to expose the brand/our work on social networks, the only lever to promote ourselves autonomously, without counting on the press. During the CDM contest, this too virtual sphere becomes the timespan of a few days entirely palpable and real. I find in the other framebuilders a sensitivity, convictions, a listening that it is hard to find in someone who did not go through the same choice of professional life as me. For many, it remains one. The contest is also about that: talking about our joys, our doubts, our desires, our difficulties, and that makes it very attractive to me.
On the other side, there is this shell that I try to put on myself since the frustrations felt during the CDM 2019. I had a bad experience putting so much soul into a project to feel pretty much unconsidered. Too young, too shy to show off, not enough in the good papers. So I take advantage of each edition to remind myself that we are doing this competition above all for ourselves, to continue to invent ourselves. The look of others is sometimes pleasant and often relevant, but it should not affect our own.
Saying we woke up would imply sleep, which is a luxury the night before the Concours de Machines race hadn’t afforded us, owing to thick black clouds of mosquitoes that infested our van. I lit a church of citronella candles and closed all the doors and windows, while Josh rolled himself up in a sheet and slept outside on a decrepit shezlongé that sat outside the factory. Mosquitos spent the night screaming and raging in our ears while doing their best to tear us limb from limb. At 4 am they sat lining the window sills, fat and bloated, drunk on our blood.
I killed a dozen of them with an old sock in one limp sleep-deprived swipe as a tokenistic act of vengeance, knowing they’d be saving their strength for another assault the next evening. I stood in Andreas’ elegant la fraise workshop contorting my body to scratch bites between nerve endings on my back, craving coffee as the pilotes clip clopped in on road shoes. For many of them, road shoes were a terrible choice. The 204km route billed as a road with some cobbles and gravel somehow encompassed 1466m of short sharp climbs in an oppressively pancake-flat landscape, as well as some muddy singletrack. The singletrack must have caught teams rolling on 28c slick tyres off guard, and would prove catastrophic for some.
This is the second of two reports from the 2022 Concours de Machines. Be sure to check here for the first installment!
In 2018 I was invited to take part in the third edition of Concours de Machines as Dear Susan, in the medieval town of Bruniquel in the south of France. The Concours is a recent(ish) revival of a frame-building contest first organized in 1903 that ran up to the late 1940s. It was traditionally hosted in different locations around France, the goal of which was to demonstrate the superiority of artisanal “constructeurs” and their machines, over production bikes.
Before accepting the invitation, there were some red flags for me. For instance the idea of “better;” how you can numerically score one bike against another, especially if they’re designed and made around a particular rider for a particular course? There’s so much that just comes down to preference! Reading further into the scoring system, the seemingly arbitrary categories actually became quite liberating, in that scores were given based on abstract criteria rather than what constituted a good or appropriate bike. Limitations included things like: “the bicycle must have wheels with tyres, and a system with which to steer,” as well as point scoring sections like: “the bicycle must be able to power its own lights and it must have bags to carry everything you need for an overnight trip.”
This is the first of two reports from the 2022 Concours de Machines. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the second installment!
Today we’ve got another bike that was displayed at the French constructeur event, Concours de Machine. Built by Jolie Rouge Cycles, this all-mountain steel full suspension is outrigged with bags, racks, and more. As someone who owns a steel full suspension, it’s amazing to see the ante upped in this manner but that’s just the half of the weirdness that’s about to unfold for you so read on below for the builder of this bike, Julien Fritsch’s words and photos!
We are Manivelle, a framebuilder based in Strasbourg, France. Here is our build for the “Concours de Machine” 2021.
“Concours de Machine“, WHAT’S THAT?
The “CDM” is a historical event of the small French framebuilding world, born early in the 1900s, the golden age happened between 1934 and 1949 including Jo Routens and Rene Herse’s work. The Concours disappeared for a long time after the industrialization but is back to life since 2016.