Thirty years ago the idea of a Briton winning the Tour De France would have been unthinkable. But now the UK is a cycling tour de force, with sporting giants like Sir Bradley Wiggins, Laura Trott and Mark Cavendish winning golds and topping podiums across the globe.
None of this success happened overnight. For decades the British cycling scene was one typified by hard graft and little reward. You did it for the love of the sport.
Steel Is Real But Carbon Is Quicker looks at the grass-roots from which the vibrant and fast-growing British cycling scene has sprung. It celebrates the heroes who took to the road and proved that it was paved with British grit. People like Colin Sturgess, the individual professional pursuit champion at the world championships in 1989. Or Sean Yates, winner of a Tour De France time-trial stage in 1988 and one of the early architects of Team Sky. Or Phil and Grant Bayton, a father and son cycling dynasty.
Steel Is Real But Carbon Is Quicker also looks at the men and women who support the scene, not for glory but out of the sheer joy of the sport. Ace mechanic and bike collector Chris Weston, whose Isle Of Wight home is a paradise for bike junkies. Cycling photographer John Pierce and writer William Fotheringham give their insight into a rapidly changing scene.
And it is a scene. There’s a distinct style and culture, a sense of discipline and rigour at the heart of cycling. It’s a little bit Mod, a little bit retro, a little bit continental, a little bit avant-garde. From the Eroica Britannia, a gathering of pre-90s bike nuts, to the enthusiasts who use bleeding-edge tech worth thousands of pounds to squeeze a scant tenth of a second off their best track time, we applaud and celebrate the broad depth of the sport and the pastime.
We’re nowhere without the history, but we also want to celebrate British cycling now. There’s lots to talk about. From the exciting days of racing at Lea Valley or the Wales National Velodrome to the hundreds of cycling clubs across the country that are out in all weathers, Britain has embraced the way of the bike with a real sense of enthusiasm. The throngs of fans on the streets at the Tour Of Britain show just how far we’ve come in such a short period of time.
Dominic Wade has been an avid cyclist since he was a teenager. A signed-up member of the Bristol Road Club, his love of the sport informs every frame of Steel Is Real But Carbon Is Quicker. He has deep roots in the scene. He knows the people that matter. The men and women that have given British cycling a hard shove out of the gate. Dominic has been there, and puts in the miles every week. He understands that Steel Is Real, But Carbon Is Quicker.
Steel Is Real, But Carbon Is Quicker is currently in production.