“Hi Ian, it’s Graeme Brown. I am going to be doing a shoot in Barcelona next week, is there anything I could do for the magazine whilst I am there?”
“Leave it with me and I will get back to you.”
A few emails later and I am lined up to meet Anki Toner to have a look at his collection of cycling board games. Not what I had in mind but I’ll give it a go. I honestly didn’t know such things existed.
The address was Anki’s top floor apartment in the Sagrada Família district of Barcelona. A hallway, small lounge, kitchen and two small bedrooms crammed from floor to ceiling with books, cd’s and board games, with little bits of cycling memorabilia sprinkled in between.
Anki very quickly owns up to not really being a cycling fan but was interested in the board games. He has hundreds of different ones but clearly found something interesting and unique in the cycling variety.
My own favourite was a diorama of a mountain stage of La Vuelta that had team cars and roadside fans, and was a two foot square piece of profiled tin, complete with mountain side shrubbery – think a small scale model railway but with Ocaña, Fuentes, Oliva et al. I then spied a couple of German and Eastern European boxes and have to admit I got a little bit excited. The Peace Race.
I know that Rouleur has a certain affinity with the Peace Race and my own connection is to Billy Bilsland and the 1967 race where the fellow Glaswegian won a stage, featured in Issue 51. I could understand games based on the Grand Tours, but the Eastern Bloc stage race I hadn’t bargained for and the fact they exist is tantamount to the race’s importance.
The Peace Race games themselves were fairly rudimentary, but as with many of them, the detail of the artwork was pretty impressive. In today’s era of digital reproduction, it was heartwarming to see individual pieces of hand drawn and painted artwork in a simple board game. It got me hankering for more things artisan.
Time to dust off my Rolleiflex. Maybe go for a ride on my 1950’s Flying Scot…