Early last Wednesday morning , very early actually , around 5.00 AM Ray collected me and we headed off in the direction of Cork airport , destination Milton Keynes for this years Madison Ice-bike . This is basically a trade show , but seeing that Madison are probably the biggest trade supplier in the U.K it is always well worth a look .
We arrived at the train station in Milton Keynes and were picked up by Martin who also had one more collection to do before heading on to the show . We pulled up outside a hotel and out came Jack Parker and his daughter Helen of Parker International . Jack’s mother was from Nenagh and he grew up in Dublin so we had plenty to chat about , especially with his interest and respect for our local Pro – one S. Kelly .
Jack was telling us about following the Tour of Flanders in the car with Museeuw last year and we were enjoying the chat so much that we almost forgot to get out of the car when we arrived at Madison’s HQ for the show .
After registration off we set to explore the delights on offer . First up were the bikes , Ridgeback , Genesis , Commencal and of course Cervelo . Like all good roadies we were drawn like magpies to the shiny Cervelo’s which were tempting to say the least .
Then it was time for a look at some of the new parts and accessories . DT Swiss had their new range of wheels on display all of which were very impressive , especially their new full carbon offering . The alloy wheels such as the 1850 and 1900 , whilst not being super light were technically brilliant . A no tools required hub and free-hub body along with the universally acknowledged best spokes in the business and some super strong perfectly made rims really does seem like a great combination . The 1850 are €599 and the 1900 are €399 . The full carbon 1250 wheel-set are €2500 so probably won’t be a huge seller , although they are technically one of the best wheels in the world
Next up came the Garmin stand and the Edge 705 really caught my eye . It has full GPS with colour display , but also has heart rate and all other bike functions . You can even race yourself over the same route as it stores exactly where you were at every stage of a spin . It is also compatible with wireless SRM power-metres so it has to be the ultimate cycling gadget . It will be up near €600 but I really want one !
There was plenty more to look at but we next made a beeline for the PRO stand . PRO is a Shimano subsidiary and make a full range of products which work beautifully with Shimano products . The most notable area being the PRO range of handlebars which are angled perfectly to suit the Shimano STI levers . The full carbon Vibe range which many of the professional teams are using this year and the one piece Stealth bar/stem combo . They also do a good range of wheels using shimano hubs like a full carbon , four spoke or even a super-lightweight disc .
Next to them was the Shimano stand itself . Groupset wise there wasn’t anything really new although the Ultegra SL which we have in stock already does look good and the Dura Ace carbon chainset does catch the eye . But what was new was the range of wheels . I must admit that I have never been convinced by the spoke nipple at the hub set up but this new range with normal spoke nipple at the rim set up are spectacular . The full carbon models are light strong and stiff but for us what really caught our attention was the 7850 clinchers with alloy braking surface . They are similar to the mavic carbon cosmic but lighter and price wise should be in the same bracket . The only downside is the availability date which is late June . AAAAWWWWWW
No sign of the Dura Ace electronic groupset , and it was only spoken about in hushed tones ( I guess no one saw last weeks cycling weekly) but it was suggested that it may be available for early next year . No price yet though .
These were the highlights product-wise for us although there was lots more there .
In the afternoon we did the tour of the facility and we were both blown away by the size of the operation . The warehouse was HUGE , the size of a couple of football pitches and this was only one of two . There is another one the same size for bikes , wheels , bike boxes etc . Two to three forty foot containers leave each warehouse each day . It is so streamlined that it was like taking a walk into the twenty second century .
The show ended around five and as we waited outside Ray spotted his Dream Car – an Audi RS4 which even had his name on it so this was the location of the biggest drooling of the day for us .
We were back in Paddington station with lots of time to spare before heading out to Heathrow for the flight home so we went into Starbucks for a snack . My training regime dictated that I have a Grande Caramel Machiatto with a huge shortbread biscuit covered in rich Belgian chocolate chips whilst Ray’s training regime suggested a Grande Cappuchino and Scone with butter and jam . No prizes for guessing which of us is not racing this year .
At the counter as we ordered the butter from a nice Italian girl she pointed down towards a bin in front of the counter containing bottles of water . We both smiled and said , ‘no butter ‘ .
She then raised her top lip towards her left eye and seemed a little confused , so we repeated more slowly , in our very understandable Tipperary accents – butter (or boscher as it probably sounded to her )
With that she looked over towards her Nigerian workmate who was making the coffee’s . He looked up and said ‘ Budda’
She then went ‘Oh’ and smiled at us whilst handing over the change with still no butter . We decided to cut our losses and Ray had to eat the scone without any butter . It was probably better for his training anyway .
The Italian girl was still smiling at us as we left and now I think I understand why . When her colleague said ‘ Budda ‘ she must have took it for ‘Buddah’ and thought that we were two Tibetan monks bestowing a blessing on her . I guess anything is possible in the big city !
Back in Heathrow we met up with Brian Lynch from Douglas Cycles in Cork and his son Seanie who knew as much as any of us about bikes even though he is only 8 . Brian will be able to take early retirement with him around !
Home by 0ne am and another busy day over . Ray’s parents Sean and Margo looked after the shop for us for the day so everything was ship shape as I rolled in at 8.30 the following morning , still dreaming about those Dura ace wheels and that Garmin Edge 705 !