Tom Lynch MBE
I have two bicycles at home with me. A 22 year old prototype of an ambulance bike that Jules and I were designing at the time for an incredible client and friend to all of us, called Tom Lynch. And coincidentally, a No22 Drifter. Tom’s idea was to form a specialised ambulance strike-force for London, that would get to every incident first, without drama or danger. Tom was ex-European BMX Champion in his youth and knew what a bike was capable of in trained hands. He was also a Cyclefit client - we looked after his front-line post-competition, battle-scarred body and biomechanics.
Converging Parallel Lines
In the early days of Tom’s revolutionising idea, he came to us to see if we could think about what an ambulance bike would look like. Jules and I made a few prototypes as I remember, of which this is one. I am not sure if any of our design ideas went into final production, but we did look after all the Cyclefitting duties for the new ambulance squad when it first became active. Tom Lynch has the intelligence, determination and downright bloody goodness and magnetism, in a parallel universe to be a CEO of a blue-chip company or a cabinet minister. What he got for his heroic efforts and thousands of lives his initiative saved, was an MBE (why not a knighthood or ennoblement?). Not bad for an ex-champion BMX’r but in a way this speaks to the heart of the crisis we are now in. The neo-liberal free market finds it easy to reward some good folk very well indeed but has traditionally struggled and stuttered to correctly evaluate the self-deprecatory heroes and geniuses like Tom and so many who work in our NHS. Maybe I shouldn't conflate Tom's good name in this way and maybe he wouldn't even agree. But we remember how tirelessly Tom worked and campaigned to achieve something he knew to be right and in all of our interests. The NHS is a wonderful organisation but it is also a stubborn oil-tanker that needs plenty of rudder inputs to change course. And Tom provided all those inputs himself with infallible logic, intelligence and wit. We take the ambulance bikes for granted now in big cities, like they have always been there. But they are only there because Tom thought it was in all our interests that they exist. The current crisis is where the parallel tracks of the neo-liberal economy and healthcare are on a social and philosophical collision course - one can only hope that some good will emerge from the inevitable clash. Theresa May in her 2019 Honour List sent five or six conservative staffers to the lords. I am sure they are honourable and thoughtful people, but I can’t help thinking that we would be a better country if someone like Tom Lynch were there as well. Polemic over. Almost.
Riding The Monster
It is the two decade plus-old unloved clunker that I have dragged out from behind the lawnmower to ride with my daughter and our dog (yes I know I could have chosen the No22). Near to our house is Winter Hill, so called because it faces north over the Thames Valley. There is a climb/descent beloved by local runners called The Big Monster. My daughter dared me to ride up and down on my Tom Lynch Special (TLS) – which would normally be fine, but after 22 years, only had one working brake (front), semi-operational rear-derailleur, a heel-kick operated front-mech, oh and 35kg of golden retriever who is ever eager to turn anything into a competition – my daughter recorded it for posterity. It was a wonderful denouement to a lovely little ride, and not what I would expect to be doing on Friday afternoon when I should be at work and my daughter ought to be at school. It is an undeniable silver lining to a bleak situation, and I suspect, a ride we will all remember when the bad memories have long faded. Plus, it made me think about Tom again and motivated me to re contact him again after so long.