Trying to collect my wits after a whirlwind trip to Bespoked Bristol, the unprecedented Handmade Bike Show of the UK this past weekend. It was a rockin’ good time.
Start out, I’d like to confirm that Phil and Tessa Taylor have set a benchmark for organizing and assisting to make Bespoked Bristol 2012 one of the best bike shows I’ve attended. These two are pretty remarkable. When I was evaluating my participation, I have to say there were some initial doubts. Not about whether they were capable of putting together a great show, but more of whether the show would be a good investment for my one-man band. These two came through and put together a show that I wasn’t expecting: Richness in the atmosphere of the Bristol Temple Meads original 19th century-turned expo hall, easy access via the railway (the existing railway service is physically connected to the expo hall), and a program that was well thought out and true to what I believe custom frame builders would look for in a public showcase.
This show had the feel of NAHBS v.1. Yea, there were a few companies in the show (titanium and otherwise) that design in house and outsource their titanium overseas, but for the most part, the feel of the show is what I think made the event something special. I haven’t had that sensation since way back in the day when bike shows were about bringing what you make for your customer base and not jewelry (which is always nice to see, but is not a cross section of typical work). This show, for me, was about the people behind the bikes.
I didn’t get around to photograph bikes and details, time just didn’t permit. I preferred to catch up with some old friends and share what little time we had together to chat about work and family and then run back to the stand when the doors opened. What you’ll see in this entry is not photos of the bikes, but just some moments I was able to capture from my side of things. Shots from the hotel to the show, and back. I’m sure there will be many sources for the bike details on the net within the coming days. At least I hope so, because there were some really nice creations.
Some of my more memorable moments of the show, in no particular order:
- Bath Ales smooth-drinking session ale. Even if it wasn’t conceived as a session beer, I made it one…and I’d be looking forward to have the full ale line at the show next year ( wink..wink..Phil…). Look Mum No Hands did a great job with refreshments.
- Waking up to the full English Breakfast and eating it all, every morning. Then moving on to the Italian traditional breakfast of pastries and little caffe’s. It’s good to be bilingual and my English ancestry grandfathers me into such things.
- Meeting Mark from Milkbikes. He’s a good guy from South Africa and is getting in deep with the belt bikes. His work caught my eye and he’s a super-nice bloke to boot. Same for David Szabo’s Kurtz bikes. I’ve never had Unicum as an aperitif, but if it helps in EU diplomatic frame building relations between Italy and Hungary, I’m in..
- Metting Marco and Diego (a.k.a Bruno, Brunello, non fare una Brunellata) from Pegoretti’s shop. It was the first chance I got to meet them and I can say that they fit the Pegoretti environment nicely. They are professional, with a twist of artistic nuttiness that can only intensify the flavor of Dario’s work. I’ll be looking forward to see more of them at future events and around the shop.
- Catching up with Nicola V, Mauro Z, and Ale’ M (no, they are not DJ’s, just three of the most passionate cyclists I’ve ever met) over dinner and just hanging out at the stand.
- Madness and general nudity around the Broad Quay plaza after dark. Was it Carnivale there? What’s up with that?
- Seeing those Falz forks lined up like little soldiers. Man, those are hot!
- Seeing Robin Mather and getting a look at his show-stopping “Best of Show” bike and other selections from his studio. Robin is so nice it hurts but has hands of steel to make what he does. Robin is my go-to guy for my Rando forks (I haven’t touched a flame since 2001) and his bikes are even more impressive. He’s built for some of the most famous UK brands and “enjoys coffee and cake” as described in the show guide..even that is enough to convince me.
- Setting up my booth. I actually built my back drop the morning (not day..just morning) that I shipped it up to Bristol. I was rather anxious to see if it fit together as I didn’t get a mock-up run to make sure it held the sign, curtain, lights, and still supported itself. If it didn’t go together, there was no Plan B. Fortunately it did seem to work in some odd way and I didn’t harm any visitors or myself in the process.
- Deep, thoughtful discussions with Jeroen Van den Brand and Pieter d’Haens of VELOZINE. Just when you think you know something about bikes.. We had some great discussions over some pretty good beer and it is always fun to get some perspective on what I do, what my colleagues do, and what our industry does. These buds are some smart mofo’s (both engineers in the auto industry and simply unquantifiable how much smarter than moi) and keep me up-to-date on what’s happening outside my little framebuilding cave.
- Ted James of Ted James Design. He made made this thing of beauty (the little picture doesn’t even do it justice), which whispered to me repeatedly on my hourly pilgrimage to the beer tap (our wives must be about the same size). As well as some other objects that showcase is creative talent.
- Getting to discuss bikes with the enthusiastic crowd (and I mean crowd) that showed up. I appreciate the time and effort that these folks took to come see us and to chat about our work. It was nice to see 4-5 of my clients from years back, too, who came out for support and to catch up.
- Getting some recognition for the BEST OFF-ROAD BIKE. Thanks for the vote. I appreciate that and thank my collaborators and friends Michele Leonardi of Leonardi Racing, Giulio Mancini, engineer behind Leonardi’s components, and Cristina Wurdig of Brooks England for her generosity and support. Without them, I’ve just got a frame.