I drive this road often.

Through the wind, rain and snow.

Its my route to the South West from Yorkshire.

It’s nearly always deserted. Empty. But beautiful.

I see it at dawn, or dusk.

Or on a long bike ride on a Sunday.

This particular Sunday was the best day I have had on a bike.

This was Tour De France day.

I’m sat by this roadside. The Tour riders still a couple of valleys away.

I’m sat with all these other bike fans, picnickers, families, drunks (in the nicest possible sense).

I’m thinking we have made ourselves a little community here for a few hours here.

And transformed this pretty bleak place.

The race passes in a blast of noise and euphoria.

A magic experience.

These are the best sort of communities aren’t they?

Spontaneous in a sense, based around a point of need or experience in time.

Like market day in a town.

The race had gone, and this road was deserted within 20 mins.

All had packed up and headed for home.

Just the sound of the wind and the skylarks.

The default setting for the Pennines.

Riding home I was thinking about the glory days of the pop-up shop back in 2010.

When a pop-up really mean’t pop-up.

The power of the concept was in harnessing the #TDF Factor.

And after a while the concept stopped working.

Because the pop-up space must have a degree of anarchy about it.

It must leave room for the unexpected.

It needs a big cause for people to gather around.

It requires a company to have a big ‘purpose idea’ as Mark Earls puts it. In this case a massive sporting event.

And it needs to be an experience that leaves a warm glow.

Forcing people together who wouldn’t usually mix.

And attracting those who wouldn’t usually be interested.

Its one of the hardest things to pull off.

As proven by those who tried the pop-up, thinking it would be an easy route to creating a cheap space for their brand.

In reality there was more design involved that a standard space, maybe not in material things, but certainly in event management and choreography.

Something the Tour De France organiser ASO has had 101 years to perfect.

In trying to leverage the idea of the pop-up, business squeezed the life out of it.

Which is a great shame, because its probably to most powerful engagement tool I’ve seen in action.

This was the case on the 7th July on the Blackstone Edge Climb.

Maybe some future cycling stars were born that day.


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