2021 REVIEW. WELL THAT WENT WELL.
As we bid farewell to another year of the pandemic, Pearson looks back at some of the seismic events of the past 12 months. (And some not so much).
The period between Christmas and New Year is a time to take stock. Few stories better captures this spirit of reflection than Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Regular Pearson followers will know we’ve always felt a bit of a bond with old Charlie. After all, it was in 1860 that Dickens published one of his best-known works, Great Expectations. And it was also in 1860 that our founder (and great-great-grandfather) Tom Pearson opened the world’s first bicycle shop with that very sentiment in mind.
One of the great chroniclers of human life, Dickens’ reach extended far beyond the festive season. In a year of highs and lows (and moments of pure soap opera), his work seems more relevant than ever.
The new year began as the old one had ended, with the announcement of another lockdown. Yay. Joe Biden was inaugurated – and stayed awake until the end.
Covid continued to adapt in its bid to outsmart the various vaccines. With newer variants appearing in ever more countries around the world there would be Hard Times ahead, no doubt. Artists' impressions of a single virus are themselves mutated.
Supply-chain chaos. A little-known Dickensian novella is The Long Voyage, the story of a man recounting, well, a long voyage. The longest voyage of all in 2021 was that of the container ship Ever Given, sailing through the Suez Canal right up to the point where the captain failed to spot the length of the ship was greater than the width of the canal. We at Pearson had a vested interest in the vessel’s plight, as its cargo included a consignment of Pearson bikes. A case not so much of Mr Micawber (see below) but Mr Magoo. It was also the month Meghan and Harry were interviewed by Oprah. Zzzz.
Plans for a European Super League were announced, an enterprise shot through with Dickensian villainy. The proposed move threatened legal action to rival Jarndyce vs Jarndyce, the never-ending spat that is the backdrop to Dickens’ Bleak House. In other news, 11th April saw the first of Pearson’s four Inside Out rides, the Spring Edition.
The 104th edition of the Giro d'Italia started 8 May consisting of 21 stages over a 3 week race. Egan Bernal took his first Giro victory becoming the second Colombian to win after Nairo Quintana did so in 2014.
And just as football threatened to taketh away, so it gaveth once more, in the shape of the Euros. Ah, what giddy, crazy days. Germany, the old enemy, brushed aside; Ukraine (trickier than they look, you know) dispatched with ease. Then Denmark were sent packing, which just left Italy in the final. Football came home, grabbed a quick pizza, and promptly went out again. (At least we’ll always have the Inside Out summer edition in June.)
A far more significant sporting event took place this month, when a team of Pearson riders participated in the Duchenne Dash. A charity ride that traditionally takes cyclists from one European city to another, Covid restrictions meant this edition called for a bit of lateral thinking. Or circular thinking, as it turned out. Taking to the tarmac of Goodwood, in just twelve hours, a group of 300 cyclists (we had help) rode 40,000km, the equivalent of one circumnavigation of the globe. The Tokyo Olympics got underway, too.
While not a vintage Olympiad for British cycling in the velodrome, the arrival of young BMX guns Kai White and Bethany Shriever was a breath of fresh air. And not forgetting Charlotte Worthington and that 360-back-flip. Never in doubt.
For lesser mortals, 2021 was the year of the gravel bike. Perfect timing, then, for the opening of King Alfred’s Way, anew 220-mile off-road route than runs through Hampshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Surrey. The ideal way to observe Britain’s beautiful countryside, much like the questing travellers in Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers.
From a clear blue sky, Britain’s Emma Raducanu won the US Open. And from a deep blue sea, Britain pinched a nuclear-submarine deal from beneath French noses. A furious President Macron immediately telephoned Boris Johnson (#AUKUS, #awks). A far from sub Inside Out Autumn Edition rolled out on 25th September.
A postponed Paris-Roubaix (3rd October) turned out to be the first wet race for a good while. The latest edition of this quintessential Tale of Two Cities (see what we did there?) was won by Italy’s Sonny Colbrelli. In the same month, Adele released her first album in six years; Ed Sheeran wondered what she’d been doing with her time.
Big news, with the staging, on 13th November, of the final Inside Out. The Winter Edition. There was also the small matter of COP26, a gathering of worldly statesmen (and Boris Johnson) in an attempt to arrest climate change. Pearson continues to do its bit with a commitment to sustainable manufacturing.
COP26 marked a career high for a little blond boy who, much like Dickens’ Oliver Twist, only wants to be loved. Instead, he finds himself surrounded by cads and bounders and yet, somehow, always manages to land with his bum in the butter. Frankly, Bozzer could turn ‘Oliver’ into a one-man show, simultaneously the perfect Mr Bumble (wot it says on the tin), Bill Sykes (a swaggering menace who won’t see reason) and the slippery but pragmatic Fagin (career dedicated to lining his own pockets).
And in the interests of labouring a theme, were Bojo to pop up in, say, Dickens’ David Copperfield, it would likely be as the pathologically optimistic Mr Micawber. A man who endlessly clutches at straws for any up-turn in his fortunes, Micawber’s catchphrase, ‘Something will turn up’, seems positively Johnsonian. Unfortunately for Bozzer, that something wasn’t the right set of notes for his speech to the CBI. (Thank god, we say, for Peppa, George and Daddy Pig.)
And when, of course, something did turn up, it was most of the Downing Street staff to a Christmas party. (Yes, yes, it was last December but we didn’t know about it then.) Which brings us neatly back to Dickens’ seasonal classic, A Christmas Carol, with its messages of forgiveness and rebirth. In 2022, with Chris Whitty arming us with booster jabs and many predicting economic recovery, bouncing back looks on the cards.
The bicycle will play its part, for commuting, recreation and improved mental health. Next year and beyond, let’s hope we can ‘bike back better’.
Wishing you a healthy and happy 2022.
Will and Guy.