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Concours de Machines 2022: Backstage of the Adventure with Cycles Manivelle

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Concours de Machines 2022: Backstage of the Adventure with Cycles Manivelle

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.

2022 Concourse de Machines Part Two: The Race and The Show

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2022 Concourse de Machines Part Two: The Race and The Show

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!

2022 Concours de Machines Part One: The Contest and the Contestants

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2022 Concours de Machines Part One: The Contest and the Contestants

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!

2021 Concours de Machine: Jolie Rouge Cycles – Goat Rider

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2021 Concours de Machine: Jolie Rouge Cycles – Goat Rider

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!

A Look at Cycles Manivelle and Wizard Works’ Concours de Machine 2021 Entry

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A Look at Cycles Manivelle and Wizard Works’ Concours de Machine 2021 Entry

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.

Team Tourist in the French Alps’s Bostan Refuge

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Team Tourist in the French Alps’s Bostan Refuge

“We have four kilometers to go with six hundred meters of climbing.” “Well, we can always walk.”

Self-named French “Team Tourist” is sitting cross-legged on a patch of gravel. Regardless of the weather or terrain, Mathias, Sophie, and Elise are smiling and calm, ready to take on anything.

Rue finds a tick behind her knee and Sophie lends us a tiny pair of plastic pliers to get it out. Then, she gives them to us as a gift.

“My hope is that we’ll all regroup here.”

Gaby’s phone rings.

“Okay. Well, that sounds like a good plan. How much is it? Okay. That’ll work.”

It’s day one and Sami is onto her second e-bike of the trip. She burned through the first one near Samoëns. She’s getting ahead and shooting from behind to make a video about our trip. E-bikes are incredible tools for media projects. Ali, the local expert, took her to a bike shop there to see if they could get a new battery and they said for some reason, it was so fried it wouldn’t charge. Instead, she’ll rent a new one with bigger tires, more suspension, and better brakes. With one camera enclosed in a scuba diving protective case, another strapped to a carabiner on her waist, a full backpack, and a drone in her hip pack, she looks like Lara Croft. On the new rig, she’s ready to rip.

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Grew, Grow, Grohens: Flowgroh shreds with 8-year old Charles

With Flowgroh stuck in his home area in Les Vosges, France due to lockdowns, he chose to teach his family friend Charles the ways of MTB. Learning stoppies, schralps and hucks became a school for Charles, and he was a quick learner. So much so, Charles would be awake at 6 am waiting for the next ride.

Julien’s 2-11 Cycles MR4 Stainless Steel Gravel Bike

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Julien’s 2-11 Cycles MR4 Stainless Steel Gravel Bike

As I drive home to Barcelona from a photoshoot in the South of Spain, I dream about the next three days. They will be calm and tranquil while I worked from home. Then, my phone buzzes with a message from Mike, a friend and owner of a bed and breakfast in the Pyrenees Mountains in France. He needs help with a last-minute photoshoot further north in the Basque Country. By last minute, he means tomorrow. No time for a rest. I live for photoshoots. It’s my job. My passion. The lure of home will have to wait, as the car stays packed and continues northward toward France.

A few hours later I am in the French Basque Country, in the town of Saint Jean de la Luz. Mike has brought me to his friend, Julien’s house. It is like the rest of the neighborhood, an etxea, in typical Basque construction with white walls crossed by solid timber beams, covered with a clay terracotta roofs. And there in this iconic French village sits the subject for the day. It’s a fresh, stainless steel 2-11 Cycles. So fresh that it’s barely been out on the road yet.

Hutchinson’s Touareg Tires

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Hutchinson’s Touareg Tires

The Touareg is Hutchinson’s newest tire, designed for gravel, touring, and bikepacking bikes. This new tire comes in three sizes – 700×40, 700×45, and 650×47 – with the latter two also available in a tan sidewall. A fast-rolling tread profile with directional pattern makes the Touareg perfect for multi-surface rides. See these in person at your local dealer and check out more information at Hutchinson.

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Wish One Cycles’ SUB (Sport Utility Bicycle) is Made in France

Wish One Cycles is a framebuilding and engineering operation in France. They design, build, and paint their frames, with their most recent project being the SUB, a sport utility bicycle, which was tested in the high country in Colorado during the Steamboat Gravel Race. Be sure to check out their video from the event here, see more photos of the bike below and check out all the details at Wish One Cycles.

The Route des Grandes Alpes

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The Route des Grandes Alpes

A historical route and tourist attraction, the Route des Grandes Alpes allows one to cross the French Alps from Thonon-les-Bains (North) to Nice (South) via the most important mountain passes featured in the Tour de France: Cormet de Roselend, Iseran, Galibier, Izoard or even La Bonnette. On paper, it is a bit like the best-of of the Alps in one week, akind of pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela for cyclists. Something that makes cyclists all over the world dream and that the French have within reach, but the grass is always greener… Thus, among the fifty or so cyclists with whom we ride regularly in Paris, no one had “ticked” the box off this crossing, whose starting point is only four and a half hours by train from the capital. L’Amicale Cycliste (the name of our crew) had to set an example, but not in any which way: we decided to attempt it when the passes opened, i.e. just after the last snowplow passages that open these closed roads all winter and push the valleys into a summer as sudden as it is temporary.

Paris-Brest-Paris 2019: C’est Exactement ca et Rien d’Autre

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Paris-Brest-Paris 2019: C’est Exactement ca et Rien d’Autre

When I quit cycling for the first time in my life I was 21 years old. I´ve been loving it for some 18 years or so. But by that time, I was completely exhausted by a bicycle messenger scheme here in Germany that left me on the edge of homelessness. This was already ten years after I decided that the testosterone-fueled parental/official road cycling system of the same country was nothing for me…

How to Burn Your Fingers: A Special Rossman for Paris-Brest-Paris

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How to Burn Your Fingers: A Special Rossman for Paris-Brest-Paris

Paris-Brest-Paris is a crucible, a pilgrimage, a quest. Paris-Brest-Paris is a cycling event. It runs 1200km (768 Miles) from Paris to Brest on the coast and back. Out and back. 6,000 people participate. They start in waves, pulsing towards the French Coast in a chrome-fendered murmuration of wool jerseys, Berthoud bags, and dyno lights. Racers have to finish their migration to the coast and back in 90 hours. 90 hours, on a bike – that’s little to very little sleep. That’s riding pretty much straight through.

French Framebuilder Caminade’s Titanium ChillEasy Full Suspension MTB

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French Framebuilder Caminade’s Titanium ChillEasy Full Suspension MTB

Wow. We get a lot of emails from framebuilders, from all over the world, but rarely does something this interesting come across our inbox. Caminade is a French framebuilder and his latest project will melt your mind. The ChillEasy is a titanium full suspension mountain bike with a side-mounted rear shock, inspired by motos, which makes total sense since a lot of mountain bike technology has been adapted from motos over the years. Talk to Keith Bontrager about that one!

Check out more photos below and see the full spec sheet at Caminade.