Friday, 23 May 2014

May The Fourth Be With You

Photo: Tracy Kramer

Sometimes in life, one looks back upon an event or circumstance and thinks "How on earth can I top this?" This year's fourth edition of the Vintage Velo was one such moment.

Photo: Tracy Kramer
Assembling on the Downs on a glorious spring Sunday lunchtime, we knew from the first that it was going to be a good 'un. The usual mix of repeat attendees and fresh faces were assembled, before we headed off across the Downs into the delightful leafy suburbs of Sneyd Park.

 As with our last two editions, we kept the ride element of the day short and sweet. An expedition deep into the countryside is all well and good, until the realisation dawns that you have to cycle miles to rejoin civilisation, while wearing a floaty dress, riding an extremely heavy and overgeared bicycle, and having overdone the gin to boot.

Photo: Tracy Kramer

After a stop for ginger beer, the ride skirted the edges of Shirehampton before diving down a leafy lane to our destination, Kingsweston House. Originally built in 1719 for the diplomat Edward Southwell, the house served as a stately home, a military barracks, and finally a police training centre, then fell into disrepair around the turn of the millennium. Saved from demolition and recently purchased by new owners, the house was easily our grandest end destination yet.

Photo: Tracy Kramer

This year as well as games, food and drink, the entertainment on offer included some basic dancing lessons, which were to prove invaluable when cutting the rug to the Bruce-Ilett Six. There was also a thoroughly entertaining re-imagining of Cluedo, courtesy of Splash and Ripple.

The day ended, as is now traditional, with the award of the coveted Dapper Chap and Chapess prizes. It was very pleasing to see the winner of Best Chap become so over-excited that he jumped on his bike and started doing laps of an appreciative crowd. A veritable cornucopia of prizes were also given away courtesy of our lovely sponsors.

Photo: Amanda Edmondson
 Our thanks, as ever, go out to our team of volunteers for making this happen, Norman and the staff at Kingsweston House for making our event possible, the Bruce-Ilett Six and Swing Dance Bristol, our generous sponsors, and of course all our subscribers. Chapeau!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

A word from our sponsors

We're pleased to confirm some more excellent prizes from top-notch local businesses. Enter our raffle, or push the boat out with your attire, and you could get lucky!

Bristol Bootlegger (pictured above) have very kindly laid on a voucher for dinner and wine for two. With their 1920s speakeasy-themed bar, it'll be the perfect setting for a dapper date.

The redoubtable People's Republic of Stokes Croft have thrown some commemorative china into the tombola (not literally, we hasten to add), while the excellent repository of creative art Here Shop have contributed a stylish bicycle journal - perfect for recording your thoughts, or writing them a thank you note.

Further up the Gloucester Road, Grape and Grind have donated an extremely nice bottle of wine. On the other side of town entirely, The Old Bookshop  are offering free tapas to one lucky subscriber. And finally a special mention to Watershed, who have added a pair of cinema tickets to our groaning prize table.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Prizes, prizes, prizes

As well as a smashing day of riding bikes, top-notch entertainment, and fine food and drink, we like to spoil our subscribers with a dazzling array of prizes, for participants in our competitions and our raffle. Previous editions have featured fine wines, custom-made musettes, and more, and this year promises to be the best yet.

All stylish ladies need cufflinks
If you come along this year you could win a delightful assortment of lifestyle accoutrements, including a lovely pair of ladies' cufflinks, courtesy of sallydove from Makers Bristol. It takes a certain insouciance to deploy cuffinks as daywear, but we're sure that the vast majority of people capable of doing so will be in attendance at our ride.

We also have an Uppercut Deluxe wash kit from purveyors of perfect partings Angry Daves (including pomade, and that chap's essential, moustache wax), and a book token from Bloom and Curll (pictured right). Any bookshop with a prominent selection of PG Wodehouse gets the nod from us, and we're sure it'll provide one lucky subscriber with a more engaging browsing experience than any new-fangled internet trickery.
Fancy a browse?

We're also extremely excited have a much sought-after entry to L'Eroica Britannia, "The most handsome bike race in the world" up for grabs.

Taking place in the beautiful Peak District between 20-22 June, the event is open to riders of "heroic bicycles" (i.e. those over a certain age) and offers a choice of routes through stunning British countryside, plus a three-day vintage festival. The entry also includes complementary camping for up to three people.

This is by no means the definitive list, so check back soon for more exciting swag.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

I say old bean, it's 2014!

We're exhilarated to announce that the Vintage Velo is back for 2014.

The dateline is Sunday 18 May, so you've not got long to get your tickets. Purchase them here, polish your velocipede, don your spats or culottes, and prepare for the most enjoyable bicycle expedition of the year!

Details of the day are falling into place as we speak, but it'll be as enjoyable as previous years, and features what is unquestionably our most exciting end destination yet. Departing from central Bristol at around 11.30 am, we'll take you on a genteel ride along a lovely route, have some fun and games along the way, then finish with a sophisticated knees-up at a mystery destination, with top-notch entertainment, reasonably-priced food and a well-stocked bar.

You don't need a vintage bike to take part, and we'll leave dress code up to you, although effort will be appreciated and rewarded. There will be good times, dapper chaps and chapesses, wonderful prizes to win, and all the proceeds will go towards making the fifth edition of Bristol Cycle Festival happen this July.

Meeting point and route details will be confirmed nearer the time. The cycling part of the day will be an easy ride of 45-60 minutes duration, with the option to get the train home if you've overindulged.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

In glorious Technicolour

With the gloom of Autumn encroaching upon us, here's a reminder of this summer's fun, courtesy of estimable cinematographers Stick In Mind.

Relive the marvellous ride, the hat-tossing, the cocktails and the lemon jousting!

Vintage Velo - Bristol Cycle Festival 2013 from Stick in Mind on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Mad dogs and Englishmen

Much as we love the entertainingly variable weather that typifies our lush little isle, towards the end of last year we grew somewhat weary of being constantly micturated upon from above. And so it was with great pleasure that we woke on the morning of this year's Vintage Velo to find that the sun had finally overcome last year's shyness, and was gracing us with an extended stay.

Photo by Sam Saunders
Some events happily tread water, but like a rare shark, we feel the Vintage Velo must move forward, or die. Thus it came to pass that this year featured a new start point, a brand new route, and a new destination, more of which later.

Due to the heat, dress standards were slightly more relaxed than usual, with an agreeably slouchy feel to the whole affair. Many of the attendees were familiar faces from previous editions, along with a healthy dollop of ingénues.

After a stunning circuit of the Downs with views across the Avon Gorge, we crossed into Ashton Court, enjoying a breezy descent through the estate. We adjourned for a picnic on the mansion lawns, where a few rounds of the Vintage Velo favourite "lemon jousting" kept us entertained.

Photo by Roger Harbord

 Unfortunately one chap's Ordinary was incapacitated by an encounter with a particularly sturdy tussock:

Photo by Roger Harbord

But a quick telephone call later, and he was back in the game, on a smaller version of said machine. It's always heartening to see people take such mishaps in their stride. Such indomitable spirit puts us in mind of Thomas Stevens, the first man to circle the globe by bicycle, who set off on a high-wheeler and undertook such a long and arduous journey that the modern safety bicycle was actually invented while he was off on his travels.

As is traditional, we photobombed a historic building:

Photo by Stick in Mind
Before heading off to somewhere more bijou and affordable - in this case the marvellous Milk Thistle, which threw open its doors especially for us. With two floors of otherworldly décor and a mean cocktail menu, it was the perfect end destination.

We were entertained by the Shaky Hand Hangover Band (who played a special set of suggestive 1920s jazz standards), a Moustache Museum, and a most dapper chap and chapess competition, in which a friendly scowl triumphed over some slightly awkward parasol-unfurling (by the chap).

One of the many mind-bending exhibits at Madame Melski's Moustache Museum

By this point most people were starting to wilt slightly in the heat, so with a final restorative Dark and Stormy under our belts we bade farewell to another wonderful ride.

Our thanks as ever go to our excellent organisers, particularly James from Cycle the City,  Amanda, and Madame Melski, our marshals, our excellent sponsors, and of course, our wonderful subscribers. Here's to next year!