Every now and again, an event pops up that restores your faith. It restores your faith in advocacy, confirms you belief in community and removes the blinkers on your imagination. Bespoked Bristol is one of those rare events.
We arrived on Friday in showery, gusty weather. Dougie’s hazard lights keeping the double yellow line police at bay. Temple Meads is not the easiest place to unload a (bike)shed load of storage equipment. We set up and the rain mercifully abated. At 5pm the doors were to open. By 4.45 our racks were almost full. Business was brisk. Roadies, commuters, advocates, tourers, fixies, chopper heads, trials boys, cycle chic’ers, mountain bikers, single speeders, mountain bike single speeders, urbanists, crossers, messengers, cargo bike enthusiasts; all the tribes were well represented and well served by this small, beautiful and growing celebration of the art of frame building. The expectation was high and none left disappointed.
Amongst the standouts, we were particularly impressed with ‘The Quarry man’ a steel cross frame hewn from the rocks in Snowdonia, two gorgeous frames from Erik Estlund (Winter bikes, Oregon) and some particularly lovely looking steel road bikes from Italian family firm Faggin. Though to be honest? You couldn’t really go wrong with any of the exotica on show (please note that when I say “exotica”, most of these frames are very accessible as long as you understand the lead-time implications of ordering a handmade frame).
I love it. I saw Ross of Cwmcarn Paragon and Owen of Abergavenny. Caught up with Mike from Boneshaker, two James’ and a Dan from the Bristol Bike Project. David and Holly Partridge stopped for a chat as they prepared to leave, by bike, for the long pedal to Australia (full details here). Merlin Crossingham, – one of the creative minds behind Aardman – trusted us with his homemade wooden bike on our Type 9 rack (pictured above and his website here). Chris Verbick, Artcrank London Director stopped by to catch-up. Huw, A long lost mate turned up. Ian Homer from Cardiff Ajax shot video for Road C.C. (below) and I owe more than a beer to Andy Heyward, John Plain, Craig Standage and Mrs N, all of whom turned up to selflessly lump around toastracks and remove the gazebo. Its that kind of occasion.
The down side? Hmm…..tricky!……let me think…..I suppose it rained a bit, which was a shame……There was that unrepentant shopper who locked her bike to one of our racks, didn’t realise that they were for Bespoked and gave Angela and Rhys kittens by not turning up until long after the show was over (all the while, Dougie idled in the truck desperately waiting to take them away and get back on the M5. Good job he’s got a lovely demeanour) ….and perhaps most distressingly, I discovered that I still don’t have nearly enough bikes – no tourer, no cargo bike and definitely nothing that once engaged in photosynthesis – and need to start saving again. Other than these tiny issues, the Odoni experience at Bespoked was absolutely first rate.
Phil and Tess – show organisers – should be rightly proud; they’ve put together a genuinely unique and worthwhile contribution to cycle culture in the UK. We look forward to returning next year (if they’ll have us).
Many thanks to Angela, Rhys and Andrew for passing up their weekends and serving on the frontline. Many thanks to friends and family for helping out with the kit. Huge thanks to all who used the racks and stopped by our stall for a chat.