Whilst we announced what we were doing at the Rouleur Classic in 2016, actually getting there and executing it was a different matter!
The germ of the idea was not actually ours as it happens. Managing director of Rouleur Magazine Bruce Sandell first pitched the idea to us back in January - his vision being trying to re-create the front cover of Issue 10 of Rouleur where the GiS Gelati, Peugeot Michelin, Mapei GB, TI Raleigh Creda, Molteni Arcore, Fiat and Moreno Argentin's Sammontana / Campagnolo Italian Champion jersey all featured on a wind-swept washing line at Paris-Nice.
After having visited the previous year's exhibition at Vinopoilis, Bruce was keen to show us the new space, so on a trip to London in May, we first saw Victoria House. There was little doubt that Bruce had picked a winner for the new location for the 2016 edition, it was the beautiful art deco ballroom that stuck in our minds that would be the location for the talks and interviews.
We were keen to make the very best of this fantastic opportunity, so the first thing we embarked on was getting some accurate jersey key rings designed that featured some of our retro peloton. After much discussion in the office, we settled on the ADR, Z Vetements, Molteni and La Vie Claire.
Getting them delivered on-time was challenging at times, but thankfully they arrived in time for the Rouleur team to add them to everybody's goody bags!
Being at the exhibition all three days, we wanted to have a unique give-away for people that do took the time to visit us and our space. After a cuppa tea and some further thought, we contacted Fergus who was keen to help us bring our ideas on a cotton cap design into reality.
The idea behind the cap was to have most, if not all, of the logos and lettering of the jerseys that we planned to display. We also wanted to have a product that we could sell after the event in case regular customers didn't want to miss out.
We were delighted with the result and we'd say that visitors to the show were also happy too - given people's reactions when we thrust a free cap in their hands - a fair few people asked for extras for their riding buddies too! You also really know you've done a good job when fellow exhibitors ask for one too!
Our location was pretty much perfect with the addition of our friends Rocket Espresso Milano sharing our space. We've known about Rocket Espresso since 2009 when Mick purchased a machine and since then Andrew has been incredibly generous and helpful in allowing us to use their name on the Rocket Espresso team clothing that has generated royalties in-excess of twenty thousand pounds for the very worthy Dave Rayner Fund.
Andrew from Rocket invited La Fabrica Girona owner and Orica-GreenEdge pro Christian Meier along to be his assistant Barista for the duration of the event. Christian worked tirelessly throughout the duration of the event to bring great espresso to everybody who walked through.
I'm not sure if it was Christian's plan, but thanks to a smart new haircut, he largely went unnoticed by all of the visitors including numerous autograph hunters who had to be persuaded it was actually him!
We set off from Poole train station at 0907 and the 24 jerseys actually arrived before us, but thankfully Ben from Rouleur was on hand to take delivery of them and store them in a sensible place.
From the outside, it seemed like organised chaos with a huge number of exhibitors, specialist exhibition staff and tradespeople all onsite working towards the common goal of being up and running for 6pm!
Jim and his team helped us erect the washing line, making sure we didn't leave a single mark on the white walls whilst at the same time ensuring they didn't fall down half way through either!
We'd also spent a fair bit of time photographing all of the jerseys and borrowing some text from Andy's Art of the Jersey book to decorate the walls.
The show was a amazing and we enjoyed our participation immensely.
It was actually nice to be able to talk to people - existing customers and other visitors who had no idea who we were - without the pressure of having to "sell" anything. Apart from the 2016 Drops jersey (which was included for comparison) - it's only the Brooklyn, Cilo/Aufina, La Vie Claire, Peugeot/Shell and KAS we currently reproduce as replicas as part of our retro peloton.
It's fair to say that after 3 days, everybody was keen to crack on and breakdown the exhibition at 4pm after the doors closed.
After the jerseys had been released from their securely fastened washing line and carefully packaged away, all that needed to be done was to help the Rocket guys get their two gleaming machines safely in the back of a waiting transit van.
Easier said than done, but with 1 burly van driver and 4 not so burly cyclists the 200kg+ package was safely stowed away for it's onward trip - along with some new decoration!
All we had to do then was to get ourselves on a train from Waterloo. Easier said than done as it happens! Mick has had an ongoing problem with his right knee which gave out on him completely just after he'd got Sean Kelly to sign our KAS jersey!
Some painful steps to a waiting taxi, we made good time to Waterloo (despite the doom and gloom predicted by the otherwise jolly cabbie) and even managed to get on a train previous to the one we had planned!
Back at home with a glass of red in hand all before 9pm! Result.
The lead photo in this article was kindly provided by Gary Blesson who as a first time visitor wrote up the Rouleur Classic for Lexham Insurance.
Brian Palmer at the washingmachinepost has also produced a great write up of the event.