Having attended every edition of Rouleur's annual exhibition, it's always an absolute thrill and honour to receive the official email ensuring that Prendas Ciclismo would be present once again.
Here's our blog on what happened...
The exact location of the Prendas feature was pretty fluid right up until three months to go. After a brief conversation with Bruce and Chris, I booked a train and made my way to Victoria House during the Summer's heat-wave.
Whilst some might have thought travelling over two hundred miles just to take a few on-site photos and take some measurements a bit overkill, I'm a firm believer of the age-old saying: Fail to prepare - prepare to fail.
So having exact measurements meant all of the artwork would fit just as intended. The guys at BangOn once again provided an excellent service on that front helping us disguise the rather unsightly pipework covered by a photograph of our vast range of cycling caps that Charlie took one morning for our latest Rouleur magazine advert.
It also meant I was able to catch up with Rohan (aka Doctor D) once more, telling him why it was entirely his fault that I decided to build the Eddy Merckx bike with Dura Ace after seeing him work on an amazing F Moser steel bike through the 2017 edition.
Next was to decide exactly what our space was about. Our jersey washing line of 2016 was a big success, however, La Vélothèque of last year was a little too vague for many as we found ourselves explaining exactly who Prendas are too many times!
So that was the aim of our 2018 space.
Part of that was to really engage with all the visitors, and the selfie machine in part was thanks to Bruce's comments on how nobody looked as good as Miguel Indurain in a Banesto cotton cap.
Despite everything being planned in detail, it's always a relief when it all comes together. With all of our supplies arriving via DPD 30 minutes before we did, it was also very pleasing to see all the artwork up and in the correct place too!
After all the usual distractions, we then set about assembling the collection of cycling caps that were to provide a colourful backdrop for the selfie machine. Although we made sure that plenty of our top ten best-selling caps were on display, we also included some of our own personal caps that we've sold over the years to enable a bit of fun storytelling on the stand too.
Soon afterwards, John arrived with said machine, got it up and running providing us with a few test prints before leaving us in the very capable hands of Bronagh.
Surrounded by our friends at the Rouleur Classic including Santini, Rocket Espresso and Doctor D.
Another reason for us being at the Rouleur Classic is to try and provide a bit of history to everybody that visits our space. This year we decided to select some of our favourite riders wearing a cotton cap.
We did this by covering a 6-metre stretch featuring some incredible photographs by John Pierce in our #CapsNotHats Hall of Fame.
John has collaborated with us for years now and although and he tends to fly under the radar compared to the likes of Bettini, Vos, Watson et al, it's wonderful to see John chatting to visitors over the course of the show giving out invaluable nuggets of information about all of the photos on display.
Filmmaker Dominic Wade, was also in attendance with John, who brought us up to speed with his work-in-progress documentary Steel is Real, Carbon is Quicker.
When we are not working - we're looking at the exhibits too!. The collection of rear derailleur gears from Disraeli Gears was exquisite. The Paul Powerglide Rasta was a particular favourite!
With free booze, exceptional speakers and some of the best companies in the trade, it's no surprise that everybody had a great time during the opening night.
Once again there was a real buzz about the place, and even with Eddy Merck and Bradley Wiggins talking together on stage, there were still plenty of visitors walking around and enjoying the exhibits.
Our selfie machine was in overdrive, the demand for it we completely underestimated, thankfully we had Bronagh on hand to help usher people in front of the lens and people didn't have to wait too long to see the end result.
Where else can you see your former boss, a former pro/current DS and a nine-time winner of Le Mans talk about Thin Lizzy!
Before the doors open every day to visitors of the Rouleur Classic, there is much to be done, whether that's stock replenishment or simply making sure your space is looking it's very best.
Despite years working in the IT industry, getting the selfie machine back up and running was Andy's number one priority, which thankfully was a piece of cake with no panicked phone calls required.
Next up was getting together with Fergus and Ian Parkinson to record a segment for a future Rouleur Podcast on our Forgotten Races collection which was not only good fun but also gave an interesting insight on how Fergus approaches the design process.
Thankfully the organisers of the show also provided exhibitors with some decent WiFi (why is it that hotels find that so dam hard?) so that enabled yours truly some time to reply to emails and make some small yet essential adjustments to our online store.
Once the doors opened, I had two memorable highlights to mention.
The first was seeing John Degenkolb walk past the #CapsNotHats hall of fame recognising himself and smiling. He kindly spent a few minutes talking to us as well, so great to hear him speak so positively about his aims for 2019.
Kristof Santy was on hand all three days creating some fabulous artwork inspired by the show's speakers including Eddy Merckx.
There's a palpably different atmosphere on Saturday, which I put down to the fact that its free entry for kids on the final day of the show.
This year saw an improved line up of speakers for the final day too, with Roger De Vlaeminck's first visit headlining the event. Hopefully, Roger has forgiven us for handing out all those Prendas posters (and the odd black Sharpie) that featured him and others which hopefully plenty of you managed to get signed.
Closer to our stand was the appearance of former world champion and RVV winner Alessandro Ballan.
He was a great sport and certainly enjoy his time in front of the selfie machine.
Keen to repeat our lightning exit like last year, we managed to pack up and get to London Waterloo in a painless and efficient manner.
Even the RMT Union's strike didn't slow our progress with a train waiting for us on platform 10. Happy days!
As you would expect, Rouleur Magazine themselves covered the event in great detail including extensive video coverage of the speakers, which is great for fans who were unable to visit the show or for us exhibitors who missed them all!
If you're short on time, Matt Stephens and Stuart Clapp also hosted a series of YouTube highlight videos:
There's also coverage of the exhibition from around the web:
In 1961 Tom Simpson won the Tour of Flanders, something so far no other British male rider has ever done. That may change this weekend, of course, but this is how Simpson did it.