The end of the summer means many things to many people; for me it is the reality of returning to the classroom after six weeks of freedom from teaching French… so it’s nice to have a few good things to look forward to in the early autumn before the clocks change and we all go into hibernation mode. For cyclists, one of those things is, of course, the annual Cycle Show at the NEC in Birmingham that takes place from the 25th to the 28th September. It is, according to the organisers, ‘The UK’s #1 Cycling Show‘ so if you’ve never attended such an event before, it’s a good one to start with.
I went along last year expecting it to be very much like the educational and language shows that I occasionally attend in my other life as a teacher. But there is a difference and it’s an important one. Yes, there are all the stands from the bike manufacturers and distributors (with some beautiful bicycles on display – if you are into your bike porn, you won’t be disappointed!) and you will find every aspect of cycling addressed at one of the many hundreds of stands (here’s a full list if you want to check it out), from safety to security, from to travel to adventure, from to commuting to clothing, from nutrition to tracking… (you get my drift). The list isn’t quite endless but they do seem to have every angle of cycling covered. That’s all the ‘standard’ stuff that you would expect to find. What I found more surprising were the active elements of the show. Should you choose to do so, you can actually get on two wheels and try out some of the bikes and accessories that are being showcased. If you are into your mountain biking, there’s a 1.6km track for you attempt, you can test out an e-bike as well as commuting bikes and children’s bikes. Here is the full list of activities taking place. You’re not going to get bored!
A few practicalities; the show spreads across halls 10, 11 and 12 of the NEC in Birmingham – an easy place to get to either by car, by train (get off at Birmingham International) or indeed by plane – the airport is just next door. You could even, dare I say, cycle… Adult tickets are £13 in advance with the usual concessions of course – more details here – but you can buy your ticket on the door when you arrive. There is a lot to see so you might want to consider booking yourself into a nearby hotel such as the Crowne Plaza to maximise the amount of time you have to explore the show.
Last year I went on the Saturday, which was probably the busiest day of the event although with a place the size of three giant halls at the NEC to fill, it never quite gets to the point of being uncomfortably crowded. If I could, I would probably aim for the Friday but for many of us who work during the week, that’s simply not an option. I suppose spending a day at the NEC and then exploring a few of Birmingham’s other attractions on a second day might be an option. Here is the Visit Birmingham website if you want to find out what the country’s second city has to offer (or is that Manchester?). Enjoy!