"BIRTH OF THE BIG RED" - MJ JACKSON
When Ned Boulting and Cillian Kelly introduced the concept of the Road Book to us in Rouleur’s offices we were immediately intrigued. As a creative agency immersed in cycling we are fortunate enough to receive plenty of briefs that pique our passion for the sport, but less often the opportunity to create something truly landmark. The lack of an annual results bible in a sport so obsessed with data is astonishing, so the prospect of creating for cycling what Wisden has for Cricket was compelling.
There is a romance in bike racing that isn’t lost when distilled to the pure facts. The story pervades through finish times, accurate to the second, through detail about wind direction and profile elevation and tables of classifications. As designers we relish the challenge of delivering this information as readily as we do arranging beautiful photography and our favourite white space.
We were determined from the off to devise a robust layout system that would help organise the large amount of content to be published. With results, reports and statistics from every race from Grand Tours to domestic British Tour Series to include we were tasked with the balance of elegance and legibility. Our initial inspiration came from the great catalogue designs of Vitsoe and Braun, with their unsurpassed skill of finding beauty in simple Swiss Typography and grids. The language here is Emil Ruder and Dieter Rams, the graphic design equivalent of Coppi and Anquetil.
The pagination is decided chronologically, rather than organised hierarchically in order of race significance. With editorial pages, photographic gallery, infographics and team profiles to weave into the mix the importance of order cannot be understated. We wanted this book to be equal parts reference and entertainment – the reader should be able to source a specific result easily whilst being able to pick any page at random and find it absorbing.
Ned in particular was singular in his vision for a timeless tome with a nod to heritage. From the classic, clean cover to the playful illustration style we worked hard to create an established feel, imbued with irreverence and wit. One of our favourite elements was the lino-cut character we commissioned to embody the spirit of the Road Book. Dubbed ‘The Chap’ or ‘Little Jay’, this cyclist with matinee idol chiseled jaw is equal parts cycling’s history, enduring style and dependable Patron.
Page layouts are kept clean with repeating elements aiding familiarity for ease of navigation, stage profiles and weather symbols in fine lines are coherent and avoid intrusion whilst mixed typefaces allow for pacing and page hierarchy. The typography mixes Suisse BP International, a clean and sharp grotesque with Plantin, an expressive, transitional serif and Titling Gothic, a bold an authoritative sans-serif.
From the Road Book’s brand identity through to cover design, text style guide and illustration art direction we have created a look and feel that will abide for a publication that will be around for as long as road racing itself. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with Cillian, Ned and the whole team to produce cycling’s first almanack.