Andrew is the founder and director of Realise: The man, with the original vision, driving the company forward for over a decade.
Andrew comes from a sailing background, and originally trained as a Naval Architect, but was ultimately drawn to changing the world through product design. He‘ll happily admit he’s more recently defected to skiing!
It was all Rob’s fault. One of our longstanding Realisers, Rob was leaving product design for a world cycling tour (I know, right?), and we had one last secret social planned for him.
On the morning of our long-kept secret, our fellow intern Callum enlightened us to the disasters of the Velodrome, explicitly crashes and injuries. Thanks Callum.
Now harbouring thoughts of this possibly being our last day in the office, or on earth, we made our ‘final’ Hart’s Bakery snack run and convoyed up the M4 into Wales.
On reaching Newport the secret could no longer be hidden from Rob, as a large building hove into view, clearly signposted ‘Wales National Velodrome’ (luckily he seemed very pleased).
The first thing you notice on entering the Velodrome is the sheer face of the first corner. If you know anything about track racing in a velodrome (of which I now know a little) the corners rise into a surprising level of steepness, bordering on a black ski run. These looming walls either end were nothing short of massively intimidating.
As most of us product designers had never imagined ourselves in such a situation, amongst the nervous laughs, you could see people making the mental decision to keep to the lower black line as our limit for the day.
With the adrenaline starting to flow, it was time to get involved. After breaking out our new matching ‘team lycra’, with plenty piss taking, and a sizing up of our ‘fixies’, we wheeled our new steeds up the tunnel into middle of the echoey arena.
There followed a quick fire registration and safety talk – outlining the deadly dangers of exceeding the limits of rubber grip and wood splinters – and before we knew it, we found ourselves sat on our bikes beside the track, feeling like school children in front of our coach (Matt).
And then we hit the track. Are we really allowed to do this? Within a few laps, we went from wobbling around the safe zone, to the white, to the black and then the blue. With each lap and the coaching from Matt, our confidence and speed grew.
We no longer worried about the sound of the tyres trying to slide out from beneath us. We no longer worried about the possibility of crashing or injury. All we knew was that the boards (the outer most part and the steepest part of the track) was all that stood in our way from becoming champions.
Gliding round in perfect formation we wound up the speed and lined up the heights where only those truly chosen could reach. Our time had come. There was no going back.
As the lead made their ascent we followed, each tasting the sweet cool air of such heights, hardly daring to look far below us to the inside of the track. The Realisers were flying. What a surprisingly exhiliarating feeling this was!
After an hour of all that exertion and glory, we were knackered. Without knowing it we had been pushing ourselves at quite a speed. It must have been the adrenaline of it all.
To comfort us we had chocolate bars, sugary drinks and anything else that might push you towards becoming diabetic, but ‘whatever’, we’d earnt it were hoovering it up.
However, amidst all this euphoria was a sense of poignancy.
Sadly, it’s time for us at Realise Product Design to say goodbye to Rob who has been with us for the past 3 years. Of course, with every ending comes a new beginning. Although Rob’s pedalling off into the setting sun and his epic new adventure, we are delighted to welcome David Aitken and the experience he’ll bring to our Bristol Product Design team here at Realise.
And fittingly Rob won the final big race to stand a top the podium. But he wasn’t the only winner. We’d all gone from zero to hero.