The year is 1995, I am a 10 year old boy just about to really discover my passion for bicycles, but until that point, there was one other true love in my life...
Sega Rally Championship.
One car in particular really caught my attention as a young and impressionable youngster, and the specific colour and configuration of those instantly recognisable stripes had been imprinted on my brain from the very instant I first set eyes on them.
The sport of Rally appealed hugely to me, albeit at 10 years old I struggled to negotiate a shopping trolley around a super market never mind a race car at high speed on narrow gravel roads and through forests. I think it was this ability for a perfectly unsuspecting object (the motor vehicle) to operate on such terrain that excited me and planted a seed of mischief and abuse of machinery that still lives with me today.
In fact, I see a lot of parallels between the sport of Rally, and the Gravel Bike riding that we enjoy so much today. You don't need to look too far to find events such as the Dukes Weekender where participants attack super special stages against the clock on their trusty gravel bikes, all whilst covering huge distances around the Scottish landscape of rolling hills, forest trails and endless loose gravel paths.
I wanted to pay homage to the Martini Racing stripes that adorned that punchy little Lancia Delta Integrale that took this 10 year old boy away from the every day challenges of school life and into a world where speed and adrenaline were the sole focus. (not to mention the feeling of pushing equipment to a place that it was not really originally intend for).
It might not be quite as fast, or quite as noisy, but the experience I have on a gravel bike today goes some way to bring just the right amount of excitement, adrenaline, risk and reward as this now 37 year old needs in his life.