Feedback on the Concours de Machines 2016 [1/3]

Feedback on the Concours de Machines 2016 [1/3]

Before talking about the technical choices and the building of our light randonneuse which won the Concours de Machines 2016, we would like to come back to this event which gathered for the first time nineteen French handmade bikes builders, from the 1st to the 3rd of July.

First of all we would like to explain our role concerning the organization of this contest. We assume to have taken the organization upon ourselves and then to have been a participant since it was not incompatible with our participation.The idea to make born again the great technical contests which helped the French builders to become popular during the first part of the 20th century, came thanks to Jan Heine’s books like René Herse or The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles. These events with a unique concept between technical challenges and trials in the field have clearly made cycling gain ground about 70 years ago.

Contrary to the other European countries (Bespoked UKBerlin Farradschau...) or America with its famous NAHBS, France did not have any event gathering cycling builders and highlighting their work. It was thus important to organize something like that since there is enthusiasm around handmade bicycle these last years. In this way, the project to make the Concours de Machines be born again in 2016 began last October. We have been quickly joined by the magazine 200 and his editor Alain Puiseux, and at the beginning of the year by Christophe Courbou, fond of randonneuses and of cycling history. He is also part of the Bicycle Quarterly team and the designer of the books quoted before.

The latter worked hard to create the judging system, searching in his archives to draw his inspiration from the first Concours. Also well done to the members of the judging panel to have been there all along the weekend just by passion.

We only had a few time to organize this event. We were welcomed by Christian Miolane and the 750 volunteers of the sportive Les Copains. With more than  20 years of organization, they were an important support for us. They brought a logistical support and great route for the three trials. Thus many thanks to them for the welcome and their work. 

Finally, this competition would have been nothing without the nineteen builders who joined the adventure with their riders. Despite they were busy with the customers' orders and the short time to build the machine, they honoured their invitation. We are very grateful to our colleagues for their investment.  

In the end, we won the first re-edition of the new Concours de Machines, the ones we invented a few months ago. We understand that some people an be suspicious when they do not know how it works. Building this event was a good challenge but it would be also a big disappointment to not take part in the competition. That is the reason why not competiting was never imagined. Rookies or experienced builders, organizers or not, we were all equal at the start of the contest. Our first  rank was reached after the three days of trials thanks to our regularity on several criteria: technical work, reliability, weight (we had the second lightest bicycle ex-aequo with Grade 9), average speed during the different trials (our rider finished respectively 8th, 5th and 3rd) but the votes counted for 50% of the final result. We finished at the 1st place concerning the builders and the judging panel and 2nd concerning the public vote behind Julie Racing Design.

We spent a lot of time to organize this event and synchronize all the participants in order to have the best event. We also communicated about the event and we highlighted a profession and nineteen artisans. That was not a communication campaign aimed at favor us as some people say. Each of the three organizers invested time and money for the profession. The welcome of the public and of all of the builders made us very happy.

Because if there is a victory, it is the one of the profession. For the first time, the artisans of cycle were able to meet each other, exchange and discover respectively their work. Thus they could also learn to know people despite simple brands. It is the same thing for the public which could directly speak to the builders and admire their creations during these three days.

When we decided to launch the Concours a few months ago, we dreamed of a « friendly competition ». The result was more than what we hoped. The atmosphere was great all along the weekend during the trials but also after. On Friday morning while the day just broke what a joy to see all these riders on their machines with their turned-on lights, ready to ride during 235 km. We will remember the atmosphere in the mist of morning, just a few time before the terrible hill towards Saint Victor sur Arlanc, where we were alone, the few kilometers with Sophie and Fabienne from the Cycles Cattin (they ride fast!) and the supports after long times of solitude in the col de Chansert and the col des Supeyres. The rise of Béal too with the racers of the sportive who made fun of us at the foot of the pass because of our laden randonneuses. Then, they came to see us at the summit, surprised by their performances. We had the feeling that everyone was happy to be there and even if just a few people knew each other before, we were all a little bit sad to leave on Sunday.. 

All of this confirms that this event had a legitimacy  and that we need to sustain the momentum. The acquired experience of this year will enable us to bring the necessary improvements for the future editions who will be organized by all of the builders.

If you want to know more about the event, you can go on the Facebook page of the Concours de Machines (in French):

At last, if you use Instagram, you can find a lot of photos with the hashtag #concoursdemachines2016

Find in Our Creations section the complete bike-check of our light randonneuse:

The other episodes of our series about the Concours de Machines are available here:

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