Meet Norman of Squadra Porcini

Meet Norman of Squadra Porcini

The graffiti on the side of Reilly Cycleworks’ workshop says NORM. Surely, it’s a sign…

Inspired by Robert Millar’s epic win at the Tour De France, Norman started peddling back in 1984. First as a road racer, then seeking out his own trails through his native Scottish landscape on his old Specialized mountain bike, via 6 years as a bicycle courier, a stint studying in Birmingham when “I felt like I was the only guy in the whole county riding a bike” and now on his soon-to-be-christened Reilly Gradient T47 with Shimano GRX 1x groupset.

“I love the look of the Reilly,” says Norman. “I especially love the craftsmanship that goes into a titanium bike. I have a carbon Colnago and it’s a great bike, but it’s from a carbon mould. Knowing that someone has handcrafted a titanium frame is great. There’s a guy in Scotland called Big Al, his company Wheelcraft makes wheels and everyone knows him. He’s a true craftsman and his shop is absolutely jam-packed with stuff. People go there just to hang out and chat about cycling for hours. I love that.”

“I’m 95% gravel riding these days,” he tells me. “Gravel is so much more sociable; everyone can do a gravel ride together, whatever their strengths and weaknesses. I’m not great at descents, but I can ride with those who go downhill like maniacs.” Norman rides with Squadra Porcini that go out every week into the forests and trails around Aberfoyle, one of the UK’s leading destinations for gravel riding #gravelfoyle. “There are some really fast riders in the group, but one guy hasn’t even got a gravel bike and is still cycling his mountain bike and that’s OK too.”

His inaugural ride on his new Gradient will be the 130km Dalwhinnie-Corrour Loop this Sunday. “Although it will be a social ride, the hills will be well fought over.” I ask him if he is still competitive after all these years cycling? “Very,” he replies almost immediately. I get the feeling that Norman is far from the norm…