It is 4am and the second time I have woken up this morning. This time the mental 'to do' list building in my head has got too big. I have given up, got up and decided to start work.
I am asking myself 'why launch a new bicycle show', again? It is two weeks until the inaugural Rouleur Classic bicycle show that runs at Vinopolis in London from Thursday 19 November to Saturday 21 November. It's a very exciting time, but nerve-wracking and there is still lots to do as we reach the final straight.
First a bit of background, I am the Managing Director of Gruppo Media Limited. We publish Rouleur - the world's finest road cycling journal. It comes out eight times a year and is read by the most influential road cyclists in the world. We also have a website that is a an online compliment to the printed journal and exclusive, curated online shop. We were very fortunate to have been launched and originally owned by cycling success story Rapha, and we witnessed the phenomenal growth of their wonderful brand at close hand. Over the last 10 years road cycling has seen huge growth. It's almost unrecognisable from its blue collar past in the UK, with more and more people taking it up every day. Market research agency Mintel even invented a name for new 'born again' cyclists - MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra).
Anyway - back to the question, 'why launch a new bicycle show'? There are two reasons:
1) I love bicycle shows.....
My Grandfather used to own a chain of bike shops in North and West London called Clarks Cycles. To this day, I still get a buzz and wave of nostalgia when I walk into a bike shop. The smell of the tyres, the gleaming new racing machines, the colours, the lycra and so much more.
Bicycle shows do the same for me. I am fortunate to work in an industry I love, having been involved in Rouleur for almost seven years. Every September when the stream of trade shows begin, the old hands of the cycle industry heave a sigh of dread. Not me. I get excited. I cannot wait to see all the new kit being launched, making mental notes on what upgrades I am going to make to my collection of bikes or decide if next year will be 'the one' - the time for a new bike. I work hard too - but it does not feel like that.
2) No-one currently puts on a bicycle show for my customers
The idea for the Rouleur Classic has been gestating in my mind for about four years. There are many bike shows, and they may be very good at what they do, but they are not focused enough for me to give up valuable time away from work, my family or - of course - my bike. They are too varied, damned noisy and held in big, soulless venues - not environments I would choose to spend my free time in. I wanted to create an event that was based in central London, in an interesting venue, focused 100% on my passion for road cycling, with the attending brands, seminars and talks to all be about performance and the premium end of the market. The show should have more in common with an art exhibition than a bike show, looking amazing and having the very best content.
Working on the basis of Rule #12 from our friends at Velominati - the correct number of bikes to own is n+1 (while the minimum should be three) - the event will showcase all the very best that is on offer for next season. Taking place in November - as our best bikes are packed away for winter and thoughts turn to the Spring Classics and the following season - it will be the perfect time to assess and evaluate our next investment.
Rouleur's Publisher Andy Hill has been a big influence on the Rouleur Classic. A lifelong cyclist and club rider, he is a man with marques like Colnago and Campagnolo indelibly ingrained in his life, and he owns an enviable and ever-growing stable of the aforementioned. Throughout the development of the Rouleur Classic, I have always asked myself: "Would Andy come to this show?" Being a man who lives out of London and gets in more miles a week that I can dream of, I knew this show had to be something very special for him to give up a weekend club ride. I am confident the Rouleur Classic will pass 'the Andy test'.
The Rouleur Classic Theatre will host interviews and presentations from the sport - taking attendees inside the peloton. Our sponsor for the Rouleur Classic is Maserati. Their support sets the tone superbly for the event. Maserati is an iconic, luxury brand that is renowned for engineering the most beautiful cars in the world and fits perfectly with the aspirational cycling brands that will be taking part in the event. Our partners at Telegraph Events are highly experienced in producing the very best exhibitions. Their 'Bespoke Division' has influenced the Rouleur Classic most. The wonderful Salon QP event takes place at The Saatchi Gallery every November bringing together an exceptional collection of leading watchmakers and is a key date in the luxury calendar. The Rouleur Classic will become its equivalent in the bicycle market.
So will it be worth the hard work, long days and 4am mental check lists? Of course - just a quick glance at the pro riders past and present sets this 'fan boy' weak at the knees. Eddy Merckx, Mario Cipollini, Fabian Cancellara, Lizzie Armitstead and David Millar will be joining us over the three days, with many more booked and even more still calling us to come along and get involved. That, along with all the fantastic aspirational brands exhibiting their exciting 2016 products, suggest it will be worth it all and much, much more.