Pride Month 2022: Our diversity and inclusion commitment to celebrate Mark Reilly's legacy

Pride Month 2022: Our diversity and inclusion commitment to celebrate Mark Reilly's legacy

In 2021, we lost Mark Reilly, the UK framebuilding pioneer who founded Reilly Cycleworks in 2014. Mark developed ground-breaking bike frame geometry, designed and hand-finished in Brighton by cyclists for cyclists, embracing diversity in design to be inclusive for all.

To mark Pride Month 2022, we are celebrating Mark's legacy and renewing our ongoing commitment to being a beacon for diversity in cycling supported by Brighton's amazing community.

We are known for sporting a rainbow logo all year round, and our iconic rainbow bike will be out in force at this year’s ‘Reilly Rides Out’ bike ride in memory of Mark Reilly which will take place on Sunday 7th August 2022. Reilly invites cyclists from all backgrounds to take part, including those from the LGBTQ+ community.

Mark was one of the few openly gay men working in the UK framebuilding trade. A disciple of master frame builder Ron Cooper, his 30-year career spanned workshops including Omega and Enigma. He founded Reilly Cycleworks (originally Nerve Bicycles) in Brighton with longtime collaborator and industrial pattern/model maker Neil FitzGerald in 2014. Mark will be remembered for his celebrated geometry and world-class frame designs that remain the basis of Reilly bikes today. 

We kicked off Pride month by supporting inclusive LGBTQ+ cycling club Pride Out, supplying a specially made rainbow titanium bike for the nationwide #BikeIsBest campaign.

The bike’s artwork was handcrafted by Faye Bishop, a custom painter for Mercedes AMG F1 team. This year, the bike will be front-and-centre at the ‘Reilly Rides Out’ bike ride, taking place in memory of Mark Reilly on Sunday 7th August 2022.

Chris Ratcliff who took on the role of Business Development at Reilly Cycleworks in March 2021 and now owns the business with co-founder Neil Fitzgerald is committed to building on Mark’s legacy. He says: “I first met Mark when looking for an adventure bike for a fundraiser for HIV charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust, a cause close to Mark’s heart.”

“He loaned me a Reilly Gradient, for the 1400km Roscoff to Santander bikepacking trip. That was the start of a great working relationship. Mark was a ‘one of a kind’ character and we are determined to build on his legacy, maintaining Reilly’s values as a truly diverse brand with a level of customisation that puts the individual back into the bike.” 

Ratcliff adds: “The rainbow bike was created to celebrate diversity in cycling and to send the message that cycling is for everyone. This honours Mark’s decision to move his framebuilding business to Brighton in the early 2000s to embrace an LGBTQ+ lifestyle. Openness is central to how we operate as a business and we will continue to proudly bang the drum for greater diversity in the cycling industry.”

 

Brighton's a bright beacon for cycling inclusivity

In 2020, shortly before Mark’s untimely death at the age of 53 last year, Mark asked Elaine Burroughs (pictured above), chair of Brighton Mitre Cycling Club, to be one of the first ambassadors for the brand, which she accepted without hesitation. She is passionate about championing diversity among all, including women and the LGBTQ+ community, and believes Brighton holds the key to providing truly inclusive opportunities. She says: “Mark understood that highlighting the stories of women in cycling through social media was important to address some of the barriers faced, by highlighting the positive experiences I’ve had as an ordinary cyclist that’s experienced some extraordinary adventures.”

“There is a perception around cycling that you have to be an elite athlete, which I’m not, and I’m passionate about raising awareness of just how accessible cycling can be, after all, it was a skill most of us learnt as children. I’ve managed to convince women to switch from tarmac to off-road and they’re now happily reliving their youth by adventure biking.”

“I love wearing my Reilly rainbow bike gear as part of reflecting my identity and sharing news of my off-road adventures, but sadly I have to make decisions depending on what part of the world I’m racing or riding in as to whether this level of LGBTQ+ visibility will make me a target for harassment and abuse.”

“We’re lucky in Brighton that we have such an established community that is inclusive and supportive. Inclusivity in cycling should be a norm and I’d like to see a time where we don’t have so many barriers to diversity, when you think about how cycling itself is such a diverse activity. Whether it's popping to the shops with a bike basket, commuting to work or enjoying gravel trails, there is something for everyone. Brighton can be a beacon for inclusive cycling.” 

“For anyone living in Sussex who hasn’t been on a bike recently, or has only cycled on tarmac, I’d invite you to consider giving gravel biking a try across the Downs this summer for some ‘moving meditation’. Getting away from the traffic and reconnecting with birdsong and nature can’t be beaten.”

Sharing your #ReillyPride story

We want you and the Reilly community to share your celebrations of Mark Reilly and your very own LGBTQ+ stories on social media using the hashtag #ReillyPride. As a thank you, we're offering the chance to win a bespoke custom painted rainbow bike fork. Simply share your photo and caption with the hashtag #ReillyPride before the end of July 2022 to be entered into the draw. T&Cs

Book your place on the Reilly Rides Out memorial ride on Sunday 7th August via Eventbrite https://reillyridesout22.eventbrite.co.uk

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