The humble bicycle has given millions of people the freedom of the road.
And now Portsmouth art gallery Aspex has launched a programme of events to celebrate getting about on pedal-powered two wheels.
Called In the Frame, the programme revolves around an exhibition of more than 20 bicycles spanning a Victorian-era penny-farthing to cutting-edge velodrome sprinters.
‘I just love things on two wheels,’ says Tim Connell, who is curating the exhibition.
‘The concept of In the Frame was to take something we take for granted, put it on the wall and celebrate it.
‘Yes, the technology has progressed but there’s something for everybody in cycling.
‘Some love vintage bikes, others are into fixed-gear bikes and there are others who are enthusiasts of mountain bikes or BMX.
‘Cycling brings so many people together and it’s such a good club to be a member of.’
About 100 people were at a launch event to mark the start of In the Frame.
Tim, 30, from Stubbington, said that although Ports-mouth was already a ‘fantastic’ city for cycling, more could be done to encourage people onto two wheels.
He said: ‘We’ve got a vibrant cycling culture here, but it’s no secret that we don’t have a particularly good safety record.
‘Portsmouth lends itself to it after all, it’s a very flat city, so maybe we should celebrate it more often. There’s got to be better provisions, better cycle paths.
‘Let’s build on the momentum that’s already there and make it a mecca for cycling.’
Aspex director Joanne Bushnell said: ‘With cycling now one of the most popular participation activities in the UK, and people of all ages rediscovering the pleasure of riding a bike, this is the perfect time to celebrate cycling.
‘By taking bikes out of their ordinary context, we want to highlight how these bicycles are fantastic pieces of art in themselves.
‘There is a level of craft and design expertise involved in building a bike, whether you are talking about a penny-farthing or a modern racing bike. That is what we want to showcase.
‘We want to engage with people of all ages and backgrounds and remind them about the simple joy of bike-riding.’
The exhibition runs until July 26.
Adventures in the saddle
One of the bikes on display is a well-worn machine called a Humber Sports. It’s an adventuring bike belonging to 84-year-old Norman Baust, of Fareham, who rode it around Britain for more than 50 years, riding everywhere from Scotland to Cornwall.
Norman and his bike even starred in a film called Mind My Bike in 1949, which is being shown at Aspex as part of the exhibition. Norman said: ‘I’m proud that my bike is on display as part of In the Frame’. Visitors can also read excerpts from Norman’s cycling diaries, which include the passages below...
Sometime in 1963
My wife took the children to see their grandparents for a weekend. I opted to have a ride into town (Luton). Once there I thought, ‘How about cycling to Bedford?’. On the way, as one does, I put out a small grass fire on a golf course. Arriving in Bedford I walked along the banks of river Ouse and decided to go further afield to Cambridge.
Bear in mind all this was unplanned, I had no food, drink, bedding, tent, etcetera, although I vaguely remember having a towel.
I called in at a pub for food but made the mistake of asking for a cider first. They had no food. At next pub I put the request in the right order and got a small pork pie.
Further on, after I chose to camp by a potato field, I dug up a spud, eaten raw as supper. My cycle cape was both groundsheet and tent, the towel and maps were bedding. Unsurprisingly I woke early! Arrived in Cambridge just as public toilets were being opened. Glad to have a wash.
August 10, 1999
Strong smell of bacon and eggs; good breakfast. Back on A324 towards Looe but country lanes to Seaton then Looe; down steep hill, over bridge – where a photo includes a bit of my kit to prove I was there - and up steep hill on A387 heading west.
Small lane towards Porthallow but then west to A387 again, heading for Crumplehorn.
On that bit I was riding on pavement – must have been poor road/traffic – until elderly woman pedestrian approached (elderly? I was 68!).
I dismounted; as I walked passed she said: ‘You shouldn’t ride on the pavement, use the road.’
I didn’t explain my reason. At 1pm arrived at coastal campsite just outside Polperro.
The camp manager found a small place for my tent, next to a large motorbike perched, I thought precariously, on its kick-down stand. Hoped it wouldn’t topple in the night.
August 14, 1999
At Crewkerne had a bite to eat at the crossroads then on towards Sherbourne.
The route out of Yeovil is another climb uphill; going up, surprisingly, a car tooted as it went past. It then stopped a few yards ahead and out got the driver – my daughter, who somehow had recognised me on my bike.
She lived in Sherbourne, which is part of the reason for heading there but she didn’t know about my adventure.
She offered me a lift to her home but I turned it down because this was a cycling holiday!