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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 3:29 am 
Dirt Disciple
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:lol: Honestly, fine to read some of One Eyed Jim's posts. If I'm not intruding, I found some webpages with interesting quotes I'd like your opinion and anyone else's on what this writer says.

http://www.johnpiazza.net/frenchbikes.htm

Here's the quote, I may have some things to add later.

"...

Unfortunately, the status of France when it comes to this tradition of cycling seems to belong primarily to their heritage, as opposed to their present. On a recent trip through a good part of France, I was unable to find any evidence of this tradition that we hear so much about. Granted, I was not in search of cyclotouring communities, events, or shops. But in the entire three weeks, I failed to encounter hardly a bike shop or a cyclotourist. I even dragged my exhausted wife through two flea markets in Paris in vain. Perhaps this tradition has been relegated to backroads, alleys, and other out-of-the-way places, or only rears its head during cycling events like Paris-Brest-Paris, but I was unable to experience it. According to many, the tradition of building and enjoying these great bikes mainly lives on in the UK, America and Japan."

True or False? Eh??

There's a lot to the whole equation. I'll just keep it simple for now.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 12:53 pm 
Gold Trader
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Blame Decathlon :evil:

Andy


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 5:14 pm 
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FemtoMetre wrote:
True or False? Eh??

There's a lot to the whole equation. I'll just keep it simple for now.

That's an essay question!

There's certainly some truth in what you quote, but it's (of course) not the whole story. Culturally, the French are a pragmatic bunch, and while a British family might buy a crumbling provençal mas to restore, a French family would be more likely to let it crumble and put up a practical, modern breezeblock home next door.

There is a culture of bike touring in France [ see http://www.ffct.org/ for example ] but it tends to be overshadowed by the competitive fervour that surrounds the Tour and the classics. It's also true that most of the tourists you meet on French roads are British, German or Dutch, and very few French bike shops sell anything resembling a traditional touring bike.

There's a growing appreciation for the great contructeurs of the classic period, but very few of these bikes appear on the market, and they tend to end up in the hands of collectors in Japan and the States. Sarkozy owns an Alex Singer, but nearly all of Singer's current production is exported.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:50 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:55 pm
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You would be pretty hard-pressed to find a bike shop with touring stuff in the UK - I think that there are only 10 or so real specialists in England.

I've bumped into a fair few French tourists elsewhere: USA, Canada, NZ, Asia.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 5:07 pm 
Dirt Disciple
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hamster wrote:
You would be pretty hard-pressed to find a bike shop with touring stuff in the UK - I think that there are only 10 or so real specialists in England.

I've bumped into a fair few French tourists elsewhere: USA, Canada, NZ, Asia.


To an extent, http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/claudbutler.html asserts that in the 1950s Club cycling declined in the UK. I know these are different situations but maybe there are parallels as well. It really must have been fun if Club Cycling was really a big deal to do back then.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 5:11 pm 
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hamster wrote:
You would be pretty hard-pressed to find a bike shop with touring stuff in the UK - I think that there are only 10 or so real specialists in England.

Things have gone downhill then. Specialists aside, many bike shops would stock, or be able to obtain, a touring bike from one of the mainstream brands - Dawes, Raleigh, Cannondale even. In France I've rarely found that to be the case. Outside the big chains, you can struggle to find panniers and a rack.

As for French touring specialists ... Randocycles, Berthoud ... I'm struggling to think of a third. D Salmon? Maybe. Follis?

Quote:
I've bumped into a fair few French tourists elsewhere: USA, Canada, NZ, Asia.

Fair point. I was chatting to a taxi driver the other evening who'd been on the Paris-Pekin:

http://www.parispekinavelo.com/


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 5:43 pm 
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You are right that they usually can order one, often with terms like "You have to buy it and we won't take it back" :?

Also Dawes don't seem to be the force they once were - the Galaxy just doesn't seem as good as it once was.

Mind, there are great bikes now from people like Hewitt instead


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 5:58 pm 
Old School Grand Master
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FemtoMetre wrote:
To an extent, http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/claudbutler.html asserts that in the 1950s Club cycling declined in the UK. I know these are different situations but maybe there are parallels as well.

Of course. Europe was poor after the war, and the bicycle was a necessary means of transport - and the primary leisure vehicle - for many. You only have to watch "Bicycle Thieves", or look at the products of post-war industry - the 2CV and the VéloSolex - to understand that in those austere times, people took to the bicycle out of necessity. The return of affluence brought increased car ownership and a decline in the use of the bicycle for transport and leisure. In France, bicycle touring had become popular in the thirties when the government mandated compulsory holidays for workers. It declined when those same workers could afford motor cars.

Ernest Csuka, the boss of Alex Singer, told me that he blamed the SNCF for part of the decline. He says that the conditions of carriage imposed made it very difficult to transport a touring bike on long distance trains during the seventies and eighties.

Quote:
It really must have been fun if Club Cycling was really a big deal to do back then.

I presume you've seen this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyz5d3entBw


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 6:03 pm 
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hamster wrote:
You are right that they usually can order one, often with terms like "You have to buy it and we won't take it back"

I know that kind of thing can happen, but when I was in the market for a touring bike in Bristol circa 1999 there was plenty to choose from in stock - Randonneurs, Galaxies, Cannondales, Thorn just down the road in Bridgwater. I ended up buying a Raleigh Randonneur from stock. I know that that was ten years ago, but the difference when I came to France (in 2001) was striking. Things have certainly changed for the better here since then - but I wasn't aware they'd declined quite so much back home.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:07 pm 
Gold Trader / PoTM Winner / RB Rider
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Cyclotourist are numerous in france , but they just dont ride randoneurs bikes .

in my town of 26000 people on any sunday morning , you can get up to 100 riders , plus the audax ( slower group , older ) and a few on mountain bikes .

most of them ride modern carbon fibre bikes .


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