Further adventures in rough stuff
To read the marketing guff of today’s modern cycling media, you’d think riding drop handlebar bikes off-road and in the most unlikely of places, while festooned with luggage strapped to frame and saddle bags galore, has only just been discovered.
Known as bikepacking, while the portmanteau is modern, the activity has heritage.
One organisation has famously championed the pursuit of exploring off the beaten track by bike since its founding in 1955: Cycling UK affiliate group the Rough-Stuff Fellowship.
The RSF can arguably claim to be the first off-road cycling club in the world, and has been having fun and laughs on its explorations ever since its founding.
Now the fellowship is looking to release from its archives further evidence of these adventures over the past 66 years, showing that you only need a bike, a map and an inquisitive nature to go exploring.
The first archive (see review in sidebar) was launched in 2019 on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, and was an instant classic. Since then the archive has grown massively with the addition of a further 25,000 slides and other ephemera.
The second volume promises to capture the spirit of the first, and will be organised by the different regions of the British Isles, and abroad, where the club members rode. Expect images of beach riding from the 1920s, Alp-climbing in the 1950s, hike-a-bike in the 1970s and chain walks in the 1980s, as well as accounts of classic rough-stuff routes.
Adding to the history of British riding and touring, there will also be written accounts of classic rides such as Lairig Ghru in the Cairngorms and the Wayfarer Pass in the Berwyn Mountains of Wales, with accompanying photos.
Max Leonard, the driving force behind Isola Press the publishing house behind the Rough-Stuff Archive books, explained his passion for the project: "The riders in the photos are ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and the club is an amazing community that is still going strong.
"Its history is an important part of the history of UK cycling and, more widely, of British outdoor culture and style.
The photos tell us so much about work and play, and our relationship to the countryside over the past 70 years.
Max Leonard, Isola Press
"The photos tell us so much about work and play, and our relationship to the countryside over the past 70 years. Plus they’re just beautiful, beautifully taken, and sometimes hilarious too. So many of these slides might have just been thrown away without Mark's work, and the books will hopefully keep them alive for a wider audience."
“Further Adventures in Rough Stuff” was again launched on Kickstarter, and within 48 hours had met its target to cover its publication and distribution costs, with the money raised used to pay the RSF and the photographers, as well as helping to ensure the slides are digitally recorded.
The funding success means the volume is likely to be printed and distributed in autumn this year.
If you have not supported the book’s publication already, there is still an opportunity to secure a copy of the second volume, along with other items celebrating the book’s launch, including a special edition Carradice Super C Longflap saddlebag, prints, postcards and a special hardback edition on Kickstarter.