On Jan 5th this site carried a small story on the bikes displayed at Londons Millennium Dome. At that point, BikeBiz hadnt actually visited the Dome so it came as a pleasant surprise yesterday to see not just the odd bike tucked away in a corner but loads of the things...

Theres no place like Dome

The Ford-sponsored Journey Zone features and this is just a selection a Cannondale downhill beast, two Stridas, a Brompton, two electric bikes, including a Powabike, a Shimano Nexus concept bike, three Condor road bikes, a square-tubed Pace, a unicycle and a recumbent.

But wheres Raleigh? asked Bob Chicken.

Why isnt Britains flag-waving bike supplier here at the Dome? Its a huge missed opportunity.

BikeBiz was at the Millennium Dome to take photos of Bob and Kees Courrech Staal, export manager of Vredestein, and Grant Young, co-owner of Condor Cycles of London, all of whom were visiting the Dome for the first time.

Despite the negative press the Dome has received since it opened, the three bike trade representatives thought it lived up to its marketing.

I dont think people should knock the Dome, said Staal.

Its big news in the Netherlands and people in the office were really interested that I was going to visit it. Britain should be congratualted for having the bravery and foresight to put on such an impressive event.

Bob Chicken could see bike trade references everywhere. The mammoth winged insects used in the headline twice-a-day sound-and-light performances use bicycle wheels for propulsion.

Thats a good demonstration of two wheels in action, said Bob.

But, from forty metres away, could Staal spot whether the tyres were Vredestein tyres?

No, not the right size, joked Staal, who can obviously size a wheel from a great distance.

One of the most surprising things about the cycle content of the Dome was the relative dearth of information on the National Cycle Network. As you walk in to the Dome theres a huge illuminated map with all the local and national projects that have benefitted from Millennium Commission cash. The National Cycle Network but not Sustrans gets just a fleeting mention despite it being one of the few long-lasting, truly national projects for the Millennium year. This map is probably one of the least used of the Domes attractions as its right inside the front door and visitors are eager to get inside and start playing with all the interactive stuff. Standing on a light switch to illuminate a giant map isnt one of the most exciting of the Domes many attractions.

Sustrans should pull a few strings to get themselves featured more heavilyy. Theres precious little information to take away from the Dome leaflets on the exhibits seem to be banned so it would be too much to hope that Sustrans could whack a few leaflet dispensers up but a big information panel in the bike bit of the Journey Zone would be a good start.

However, this gripe aside, cycling comes out rather well in the Dome. And, anyway, cycles or no cycles, the Dome is well worth a visit. Heres a tip: even those Zones which seem a bit too worthy when there are virtual reality rally car rides to queue up for, can have a sting in the tail. The Learning Zone sounds like a yawn and the film in the school assembly hall is a bit heavy on the metaphor front but stay until the end, youll get one of the biggest surprises of the whole day.

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