Like you, like me, like everybody, this has been a year which has pitched and rolled us through waves of gloom, despondency, fear, concern, fascination, optimism and all other emotions besides.
I’ll be honest. When we saw the cycling calendar collapsing around us, we feared that we might not be able to produce a viable volume of The Road Book to sit alongside the fabulous 2018 and 2019 volumes.
Then, when the UCI announced, and re-announced their autumn programme, we gazed at the raceless months to come and crossed our fingers more in hope that belief. I commissioned writing from Laura Weislo, Bert Wagendorp, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Max Leonard which all meditated in one way or another on the absence at the heart of our shared passion.
It was only after it slowly began to lift off again, first with Strade Bianche, that we started to address our challenge with renewed vigour and urgency. It didn’t take long before we knew that not only did we have a book to produce, but we had to create something equal to the stature of this unique year.
That was when I started to write my Editor’s Introduction. It occurred to me, as I thought back to the pre-Covid innocence of January, that the Australian wild fires had been a terrible portent of what was still to come. So vast, so terrifying, and yet, I had almost forgotten about them.
I began to write.
‘It started with a fire.’
That image sparked a separate thought. For 2020, we should design a different emblem to replace our normal “RB” design. I thought about the image of a terrain which has been scorched and cracked by the passage of fire, tearing fissures and prising gaps. This was the brief we presented to our team of designers who took the idea and ran with it, until they’d reworked the standard logo to tell just that story; of a damaged thing which nonetheless holds together, which still remains recognisable.
To that we added the simple words, ‘A Year Apart’.
2020 has been just that – a year which has held us distant from one another. But a year that will forever be remembered in a category all of its own.
My fervent hope is that this book, marked with this image on the spine, will do it justice.