I took a roadtrip down to Somerset for the weekend for a little bit of west country ‘cross training and to have a look around The UK Handmade Bicycle Show in Bristol. There was far far too much to stick in one blog so I’ve split my blog into three parts, each focusing on a couple of my five favourite builders and/or bikes…so, in Pt.1 I looked at a road bike from Swallow and a mountain bike from Eighteen Bike Co, now we continue with a cyclocross bike and my vote for best in show,…plus a day in the wilds of Somerset;
There were quite a few tasty ‘cross bikes at this year’s show, but one that really drew my attention was a little gem made by Slate. As the name suggests slate cycles are based in the north of Wales and the bike has been designed with both forward thinking and the weather in mind. Bags of clearance internally routed disc brakes and top routed gear cables all come together to make an elegant and clever solution. Really the only thing that could make the bike better would be Di2.
I wasn’t a massive fan of the colour scheme, but its muted greys and gold’s clearly echo the surroundings that it has been born in – I can imagine the evening sun glinting off the wet slate quarry and the bikes colours replicate this perfectly.
The choice of paintwork leads me nicely onto my favourite bike of all from the show. Upon entering the new builders room I wasn’t expecting too much but actually everybody in there was exhibiting amazingly beautiful bikes. One in particular blew my mind. ERA (Ped Baker) has produced in my mind the perfect do-it-all bike and then topped it off with just about the finest paint at the show. The paint is of course based on Barry Sheene and his motorbike from the late 70’s.
This “almost ‘crossbike”, was designed with the intention of being used on mixed terrain, i.e. go out for a road ride but if the moment takes you head on up a bridleway or bike path without worrying about if your bike can handle it. The reason that I love this concept so much is because it’s exactly how I set up my own commute bike, albeit my bike is a bit of a hash, where as this one is stunning. This is only Ped’s fourth frame so I reckon we can expect big things from him in the future. You can get in touch by visiting http://www.eracycles.com
So for me Swallow get the best road bike award, 18 Bikes Co get best mountain bike, Slate get best cross bike and ERA win best bike in show. With that sorted but in no way counting toward any actual award I made my way into the drizzle of Bristol to search for some trails!
Some impromptu wild camping found me waking up at the top of cheddar gorge, so before I looked at the weather and thought better of it I changed into my riding gear and set off into the wet Somerset countryside. I rode up the last part of the gorge and then picked up a bridle way that took me all the way over the hills and back down into the marsh. Jumping back onto the road for a couple of miles I made my way further into the marsh and with the sun shining (briefly) I felt like I was riding toward Roubaix.
A few more off road sections coated my bike in thick red gloopy west country mud and then it was time to make my final attack on cheddar gorge itself. If you’ve never ridden here I would seriously recommend a trip down – in general the riding was fantastic but the gorge is the icing on the cake. By the time I was up to the second hairpin I had the biggest smile on my face and all that was left was for a burger (with cheddar) and a pint of the local ale.
Glen runs THE.TRIBECA.SPORT.WØRKSHOP which is based at 28 London Road, Southborough, TN4 0QB – 01892 533 339 – firstname.lastname@example.org . The shop specialises in precision servicing, race prepping, 3D bike fitting and high quality bikes and equipment. Drop in, give us a call, visit our Facebook page or browse our website for more details. He also runs the shop race team and club as well as racing ‘cross, road and cross-country nationally.
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