17 June 2015

The Pashley Picnic Ride 2015...

VCG's ‘Summer of Cycling’ is now in gear, and was kicked off in style when I attended the Pashley Picnic Ride! After 5 years of owning Frankie, it has certainly been a long time coming, and thanks to the amazing people at Pashley Cycles, me and The Boy went to the birthplace of my bike for a splendid stay and cycling adventure in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Pashley started the Picnic Rides back in 2012, as a way to celebrate the heritage of the company and thank customers of the brand for their loyal support. Held in association with the Traditional Cycle Shop, the annual ride draws a large crowd, with over 100 Pashley owners taking to the country lanes of Stratford on this jaunt. Its also become a rather unique way for fellow enthusiasts to meet, make new friends and admire one another's beautiful British built bicycles.

Being there from the Saturday before the ride, we made the most of our time by having a wander around the town - after all the cycling we’d done earlier in the day, a gentle stroll was on the agenda! The glimpse we got of Stratford and it’s history was wonderful, so covering 12 miles of it on the Sunday was something to really look forward to. 
Of course a visit to the Traditional Cycle Shop had to happen too. Other than being run by an incredibly friendly team, the shop is also chocolate-box picturesque: located on the Stratford Marina and filled with beautiful bicycles and accessories, it's an ace cyclestyle destination. There were plenty of bikes there that certainly caught my eye, and a couple that I could have happily pedalled away on… 
In typical British summer fashion, when Sunday came, so did the rain! It was a slightly grey start to the day, but this didn’t dampen the spirits of everyone who turned out for the ride. There was a grand gathering at the Traditional Cycle Shop, and seeing everyone on Sunday morning for registration was quite a spectacular sight indeed... I’d never seen so many gleaming Pashley bikes all gathered together, along with their owners very much looking the part. It was wonderful to see the outfits all the riders came in - there was a great mix of vintage and modern, and a call to Midwives of years past...
Suitably fuelled up with hot tee and Prosecco that was laid on for us, AND with the rather handsome Guvnor's Assemby as our 'Ride Guides',  we all set off for the ride through the beautiful countryside. 
With a stop at an Airfield to regroup, there was a chance to catch up with some of the fellow riders, and admire more of the Pashley's on display, including a very special limited edition chrome Phantom...
Our 1st official stop was at the grand Charlecote House for a pre-picnic treat. After climbing a few hilly sections on Frankie, the cakes and drinks were a wonderfully welcome stop...
Gathering 100+ Pashley owners for a photo call outside of Shakespeare's House was an interesting experience, and an eye catching one for the people of Stratford too! Many cameras came out to get shots of us all, and I finally managed to get a line up with the Guvnor's!
A short ride after this, and we arrived at the lavish end - the picnic marquee Pashley had pitched up for the afternoon. The space was huge, and the amount of food and fizzy booze that was laid on was astounding! As me and The Boy were unable to bring a picnic with us for the weekend, I wasn't sure what to expect - this was nothing short of a feast, with musical entrainment provided by Mr Keith too. 
There was also a chance for me to have a cheeky spin on the prototype Pashley Pathfinder. When I spotted this displayed in the Traditional Cycle Shop, I quite fancied having a go on it... and was chuffed to see it being ridden on the picnic by the gentleman who designed it! It was a smooth ride and one that I could get very used to... I didn't want to give it back!

From the scenery, to the bicycles and the all the fun in between, the Pashley Picnic Ride was a fantastic day out, with a lot of thought and love put into it by the team. I'd highly recommend the event to any fellow Pashley owners out there - if it's possible for you to get to Stratford for it, do! I'm still incredibly bowled over by the generosity of "Mr Pashley" Adrian Williams: after meeting through a previous Tweed Run, it was a joy to spend the day riding with this absolute gentleman, and meeting the team he works with. 
Me and The Boy are already thinking ahead to 2016 for the next ride... if you're coming, we'll see you there!

All photography for this post - Ian James. View the full set on flickr.

Special thanks to Adrian Williams, The Traditional Cycle Shop, The Guvnor's Assembly and all at Pashley Cycles. 

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