Logo

We could be heroes

“Barry!” people keep shouting as I ride past. But I’m not Barry.

Photo: Mike White

Barry is the bike. A sleek, vintage machine named after the great Barry Hoban, who once held the record for the most stage wins in the Tour de France by a British rider. I’ve borrowed Barry (the bike) from retro cycle hire experts Glory Days in order to ride the glorious L’Eroica Britannia. Eroica is a bike ride and a fancy dress party combined, part cycle event, part village fete, part music festival. And importantly, your bike, like Barry, must conform to Eroica’s strict rules in order to enter – built pre-1987, shifters on the down tube, toe clips instead of clipless and so on.

Photo: Mike White

Based in beautiful Bakewell in Derbyshire, a choice of three Eroica ride routes circle out and back across the Peak District. Barry and I are riding the 55-mile ‘medium’ option, alongside the Brooks England team. Brooks have very kindly invited Boneshaker along to enjoy a jolly weekend of gin, gentle riding and general appreciation of their rather fine saddles and luggage. Here we all are, just about to set off.

Photo: Liz Seabrook

This is Eroica’s second year on British soil – it originated on Tuscany’s strade bianche, and now has partner events all over the place from California to Japan. A reported 50,000 people have come for this year’s festival experience as a whole, of whom some 3,600 are actually riding. The rest seem happy to camp and laugh and wander among the stalls laden with bikes and bike parts old and new, or just to flop down with a large Hendricks gin, which seems to be everywhere. No bad thing.

Photo: Thom Heald

Photo: Thom Heald

There is a smattering of live music (everyone loves a brass band), a tween-screaming funfair and a mini-cinema tent screening cycling movies. Oh, and about a million dogs, many of them wearing tweed. Really.

The days running up to Ride Day had brought chilly winds, banks of ominous black cloud and the occasional flurry of rain. We shivered as we stepped off the coach from sunny London.

Photo: Mike White

But Sunday brought glorious sunshine for the most part, and the ride itself wove through spectacular scenery – if you’ve not yet ridden in the Peak District National Park, add it to your to-do list immediately. We climbed brave and windswept peaks, bounced across gravel and even forded a river. I took this a bit fast and almost ended up face first amongst the fishes.

Derbyshire’s answer to the strade bianche proved to be the Monsal Trail, with white packed gravel offering authentically dusty ruggedness.

Photo: Thom Heald

Much of the Monsal follows the former Midland Railway Line making it pleasingly flat, with a series of impressive viaducts and dark, dripping tunnels.

Photo: Thom Heald

The on-road sections were mostly quiet and even where we did meet traffic, sheer force of cyclist numbers meant motorists seemed resigned to sharing the road with good grace. As we rolled through picture-postcard villages with butchers and bakers and red telephone boxes, it felt as though we’d pedalled back about sixty years. All the plus fours, flat caps and ancient bicycles around only served to enhance the sense of timewarp.

Photo: Thom Heald

The band of Brooks riders were a disparate bunch: journalists, bike retailers, Brooks staff and Eroica organisers from Europe, the US, Australia and Japan. We all rolled out together happily enough, with much admiration for each others’ bikes. High-end Japanese cyclewear brand PEdALED equipped us with matching socks, whilst Brooks England supplied suitably retro-styled woollen cycling shorts and jerseys. Suffice to say we looked awesome.

Photo: Thom Heald

As the ride progressed we’d separate and regroup, especially at hilltops (where the views really deserved savouring) and the feeding stations, which seemed to pop up in a flutter of bunting every 5 minutes, offering local ale and other sports-performance fare including sausages, stilton and masses of Bakewell tart.

Photo: Mike White

Penultimate pit-stop was in the grounds of Chatsworth House, where plentiful free champagne from Rapha made the final hill a good deal more challenging than it really deserved to be.

eroica chatsworth

Barry performed impeccably, and we all agreed afterwards that riding old bikes is a lot of fun. Mind you, riding any kind of bike is usually pretty fun. The Brooks saddle, brand new though it was, revealed itself to be extremely comfortable. And I’m not just saying that.

Despite its name, Eroica proved not to be heroically hard work. It was very much a leisurely day out on two wheels, more like the great cake-fuelled British institution that is audax than the more performance-focussed sportive.

Indeed, it was all very British, in the nicest possible way: friendly, inclusive, international, with plenty of tea and cake. And gin.

Our friend Thom Heald took loads of wonderful photos, so feast your eyes on the selection below – and perhaps we’ll see you in Bakewell next year?

eroicabritannia.co.uk

brooksengland.com

Photo: Thom Heald Photo: Thom Heald Photo: Thom Heald Photo: Thom Heald Photo: Thom Heald Photo: Thom Heald Photo: Thom Heald Photo: Thom Heald Photo: Thom Heald Photo: Thom Heald

Photo: Thom Heald

 

 

 


The strange and beautiful bicycles of Bespoked

This weekend Boneshaker had a blast at Bespoked UK Handmade Bicycle show. It was a brilliant showcase of the range and quality of contemporary bicycle building. Our little stand was wedged in between Quoc Pham shoes, Brooks England’s bags and Vulpine’s stylish cycle clothing.

I snuck away one afternoon and tried to capture a flavour of all the bizarre and beautiful bikes on show. Using my shitty phone, and surrounded by people. So the pics are a bit, well, amateur. But the bikes more than make up for it. Feast your foolish eyes!

How’s this for a saddle? Mmm, comfy.

corinca painful saddle web

A frame that adjust to fit you: ingenious stuff from Hickman:

hickman amazing seat tube

Cofa Engineering‘s custom off-roader looks like it was built for the Terminator:

terminator bike by cofa engineering local

while this race machine from Sword cycles comes equipped twin machine guns.

sword cycles flight deck web

and Bowers Kustom‘s foldable shopper has snakeskin tyres.

bowers kustom snakeskin tyre by sweetskinz

 

Our pals at Restrap teamed up with Woodrup cycles to create this Transcontinental race bike, complete with a

completely strapless magnetic frame bag.

woodrup restrap continental

 

Cambridge-based Satoma Cycles went all Rennie Mackintosh:

satoma does rennie  mackintosh

 

Whilst Dear Susan created this faithful realisation of Edward Gorey’s Epipleptic Bicycle:

dear susan epileptic bicycle gorey

 

There was lots of lovely lugwork on show, like these chrome beauties from new builder Hilton Cycles.

lovely lugs by hilton

 

And these hearts ‘n’ diamonds by Woodrup.

swallow lugs

 

This colour-coordinated porteur by Robin Mather set onlookers swooning,

mather porter

 

as did Saffron Frameworks‘ prizewinning cross bike. saffron cross bike

 

Koushou Kinugawa (aka Helavna Cycles) had travelled all the way from Tokyo with his lovely machines:

helavna chrome helavna cycles koushou kinugawa tokyo

and then showed us a magazine that revealed just how inventive Japanese framebuilders can be. Check out this snow bike:

map bike mag snow bike

and this more summery barbecue bike:

map bike mag bbq bike

 

Like to relax while you ride? Try lying down:

japan bike mag lying down bike

Mind you, cycling whilst actually lounging in a hammock looks even more laid back:

map bike mag hammock bike

 

 

Finally, a feast of forks. Really long ones, on a chopper by Bowers Kustom:

forks bowers kustom chopper

Polka dots from Rusby cycles

dotty forks rusby web

 

Tattooed forks on the Toccata Track bike by Merenyi.

forks tattoo forks on toccata track by merely

 

Lovely colourplay from Field Cycles

forks field cycles sheffield

 

Another fabulous fork by Field

geo forks by not sure

 

Rainbow forks from new builders Dear Susan.

forks dear susan

 

…astonishing thread-wrapped frame and forks by titanium specialists Nevi

forks devi

 

and naval camoulflage-inspired paintwork from Tom Donhou:

 

forks donhou

 

 

It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend, with so many happy bike memories – not least the response to our brand new issue: Boneshaker #16 (available from Apr 21 via Newsstand and from our fabulous stockists as soon as we can get it to them), which we launched, hot off the press at Bespoked. Here’s a sneaky peek in case you missed it:

BS16_Sneak-Peak web


The Vague Direction Book

Friend of Boneshaker, Dave Gill, wrote a fantastic piece, The Ups & Downs of a Year-Long Bicycle Tour for issue #15 and has now gone and written a book about his year-long spin across the states. It looks set to be a great read – go on and support it here!

A natural storyteller, Dave’s ambition is bigger than a mere bicycle tour: it is to grapple with the heft of human existence, to explore notions of contentment and doubt, regret and hope with the many fascinating people he encounters along the way. Boneshaker Magazine


Issue #16: first glimpse

cover printing web

The brand new issue of Boneshaker is whizzing off the presses as I type, ready for launch at Bespoked, the UK Handmade Bicycle Show which runs from 17-19 April. The show’s based at two venues in Bristol this year: the mighty Brunel’s Old Station near Temple Meads and at the Arnolfini arts centre by the docks.

Boneshaker have bagged a stand in the Arnolfini – there will be loads of bicycle-related stuff going on in there, and entry is free all weekend.

Come down and say hello and grab a copy if the fresh issue while you’re there!

If you can’t make it to the show, look out for Boneshaker very soon at one of our fine stockists (badger them if you can’t find it) or order online via our pals at Newsstand (their website looks dated but their service is great).

In the meantime, here’s a sneaky peek at the new issue in all its glory:

BS16_Sneak-Peak web

 

and a couple of photo spreads to whet your appetite…

OpeningDPS web

 

Bikes_HiRes_3 web