Sunday, 11 April 2010

Michael Barry, the Pro's PRO

Michael Barry is described by many as the 'Pro's PRO', and rightly so. Being part of USPS, T-Mobile, Columbia and now SKY his services are rightly in high demand. The hard work and commitment to the cause is for all to see. We know he is tough, the work he did at the Ronde van Vlaanderen last week was there for the whole world to see. If you looked up on Wiki the definition of  'Super Domestique', Barry's name should be there.

If you have never had chance to take a look at Michael's blog you should do so. He has a new book coming out with photographs by Camille J McMillan. It's been two years in the making so I reckon it'll be a pretty special book. The words of Barry and the images of Camille should provide an amazing book. I feel it'll be more a bottle of red book, rather than a coffee table one as you may want to spend a lot longer looking at it than a mug of coffee lasts (and if you don't drink, maybe two coffees).

I was first really switched on to Mike by a friend of his Dad's called Bob Zeller. Bob was a bit of a journalist in his day and has written articles for many Cycling magazines both in the UK, USA and his native Canada (google Bob Zeller, cycling and a few things come up). He can tell a great story and those that he has told me about his experiences of interviewing some of the World's Greatest Cyclists are like nectar to a bee for me. He was also very gracious and encouraging when I first started to write/blog. I was (and in many ways still am) an over enthusiastic amateur in this arena, but spending moments with him where very precious.

As well as turning me on to Mike Barry Jnr, he also switched me onto Mike Barry Snr. Although I am not into retro bikes, I do love a well executed functional bike which has been created for a purpose. Mike (Snr) had a massive part to play in setting up .randonneurs ontario. Long distance French style cycling, while not racing par se, was every bit as tough and gruelling as some of the big one day Classics or shorter Tours. Mike (Snr) was also a framebuilder of some note, building bicycles for this and many disciplines. Unfortunately I became aware as he was winding down his business and is no longer making bikes. His work thankfully can be seen online here and I think that amongst the over macho names that fill the cycling world he chose one of the most beautiful, Mariposa.

The Mariposa (in English Butterfly) captures so much about the cyclist. At first we are all none cyclists, caterpillars who feed on both information and strange bars and drinks to encourage us to grow. One day it happens and we go into a cocoon and come out transformed into a Butterfly, or the Cyclist. This experience of the coccon isn't sleep driven, but it is driven by the experience of the ride, of the journey. That is the thing that changes the person. It can be one event or many events, and unlike the Butterfly whose experience is a once in a lifetime journey, as a Cyclist it is something we are continually on.

Thanks to Mike Barry for sharing some of his life, a life well lived and well written.

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