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!