Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Stiff Upper Lip!

If 2011 saw the best of the weather, this year we saw the best in our merry band of pédaleurs. All weekend the forecasts had been growing steadily more ominous, and they did not disappoint. 

 We toyed with the idea of cancelling the ride, but there was a general feeling that doing so would be conduct befitting the white feather. Besides, enthusiasm for the ride appeared undiminished from some quarters, with one subscriber to the mailing list exclaiming "I, Sir, am an Englishman, and I will not be driven indoors by the weather!"

Photo: Martin McDonnell
In the event around forty riders assembled for the second edition of the Vintage Velo - around one third of the number registered, but around forty times the number we were expecting. Some sacrificed vintage attire in favour of more modern outerwear, while others kept things fully authentic, with one participant effecting a particularly striking turquoise 1980s Raleigh rain suit.

Our first stop was planned to be the Mansion House in Clifton for an appointment with the Mayor. Unfortunately we missed the Right Honourable gentleman, as it was imperative to keep moving to stave off hypothermia. We proceeded though the sheltered suburbs of Clifton and Westbury, arriving at Blaise Castle, where the staff had kindly opened up the Dairy for an indoor tea stop.
Photo: Martin McDonnell
Then it was on to Shirehampton Public Hall, where a magnificent spread of food and drink awaited, along with some much less bedraggled participants who had wisely decided to skip the riding part of the day.
Photo: Martin McDonnell
We gave away, amongst other things, a lovely bike, several unique and as yet unmade bags, cinema tickets, bike accessories and a very nice bottle of wine.

The coveted Dapper Chap award deservedly went to Paul Wheatcroft, dressed as Francois Le Facteur from the classic comedy Jour de Fete, who radiated enjoyment and bonhomie throughout the entire day. The Chapess award was hotly contested, with many a gamine young lady taking to the stage. We were entertained by lemon jousting, the excellent DJs of Shellac Sound, wild klezmer from Fromage en Feu, and a lady doing an interpretative dance with a stuffed tiger.

Then it was time to pack up and wend our way back to Bristol. Some hardy souls had even dried off enough to ride there.

Our thanks go to all the volunteers who made the day happen, the hall team, all the marshalls, Richie for being a compère without compare, Ian at Blaise Castle Estate for looking after us so well, Posh from Taylored Cycles for sorting numerous mechanicals, and the Lord Mayor for being very gracious about our no-show.

Our sponsors laid on an incredible array of prizes and a particular thanks to Bath Ales for letting us return our unsold beverages. Do have a look at their Biking Bonanza event in June.

And finally, thanks to our fantastic subscribers, for spitting in the eye of the weather and enjoying themselves regardless.

As you may be aware, we are planning to restage the ride element of this event later in the year, so do please stay in touch and fingers crossed for a sunny weekend.


  1. I doff my white feathered cap to you all for carrying on regardless of the horrendous weather that day. Bristol's biggest bike ride last year was similarly afflicted. It seems as if cyclists are truly the chosen ones and must pass these divine tests before true spiritual enlightenment is achieved...

  2. So who won the prizes and can you post a link to Martin's photos on Flickr please .

  3. Had such a great day and winning best 'chappess' was the icing on the cake!! A very kindly gent was so kind to lend me his gloves during the cycle and I still have them. I think his name was Tom. If you know him, let me know and I can return them.