19 May 2013

Four to the floor: VCG's new Colourbolt Bike...

Can a girl have too many bikes?! When I started cycling I thought one would be enough... fast-forward 3 years and I'm now the proud owner of my FORTH set of wheels, a Colourbolt Ratty Black.

As detailed in this post (originally published on the Vulpine Blog) this is how VCG has become a four-bike blog... yikes.

When you’re a bit of a bike fiend, nothing beats the pure excitement of getting a new set of wheels. Two weeks ago I pretty much combusted with utter joy after picking up a new addition to my family… a Colourbolt ‘Ratty Black’.

I’d first laid eyes on the bike in April at Bespoked Bristol. British bike builder and founder of Colourbolt Jay Pond-Jones and his colleague Kendal had Ratty on display alongside his other bicycles. I couldn’t stop walking over to their stand to check it out and ended up admiring it all weekend. I wanted to ride around on this bike so badly… but I didn’t see that going down too well in the crowded hall. The draw I felt to the bike was unusual as it was nothing like the bikes I own; a Pashley Princess – a big classic traditional Dutch style bike with its solid and weighty frame and the Clubman, a fixed gear retro-racer, also steeped in traditional design. The Ratty Black with its Columbus Spirit Frame and Carbon Fork was sleek, gritty and sexy. She looked urban and tough - not overdone with logos, just subtle details like the single red coloured chain ring bolt, the LightSKIN LED seat post and these amazing square pedals that stood out. It was the beauty of the understated modern design that really got me.

Three weeks later and I was back in the company of Colourbolt at SPINLDN. Ratty was back on show again for the weekend, and again I was admiring her.  Two days into the event and with a lot more space in the Truman Brewery, Jay kindly let me take Ratty for a quick ride. I couldn’t believe how much lighter, faster and how much smoother it was compared to bikes I’d ridden before. Ratty felt so good and my mind was made up… this bike had to come home with me.

On the last day of SPINLDN, Jay and Kendal fitted me for the bike, with final tweaks to the tyres, chain and handlebars done by John of Tokyo Fixed… It was like being an F1 driver at a pit stop! All set up and ready to go, I cycled out of the Truman Brewery with my new baby and a ridiculously massive grin on my face.

I’ve been riding around on her (yes, she’s a girl) for the past two weeks and already know I’m addicted to this bike. A world away from what I’ve known, I’m discovering a whole new riding style, which is blowing my mind. Pretty amazing that what started off as me staring at something unusual has turned into an exciting adventure. 

Thanks Jay for letting me have that test ride… you’ve started off a new cycling revolution in me.  


6 May 2013

Boy on a Bike - The London Tweed Run 2013...

Last month saw the 5th anniversary of The London Tweed Run. As I was unable to attend, The Boy (Ian James) went along to represent for VCG! Here is his report on the day along with some beautiful photography he did at the event... 

I was determined to be more prepared for the Tweed Run than ever this year. But it was always going to be a bit different as sadly Lady Velo was going to be out of town ogling lots of lovely hand-made British bicycles at Bespoked Bristol.

So, that left me, The Boy on a bit of a solo mission. But you’re never alone on the Tweed Run: it's a very friendly occasion. Each year it seems that more and more friendships are formed and there is usually a chance to hook up with those you met previously.

This year I decided to meet up with the Loughton Brothers; two lovely Northerners I've met on every Tweed Run we've attended, that were flying the flag (literally) for Lincolnshire. Being typical Northerners they love a good pint of ale so we met for a Friday night pre-ride drink, sinking a few jars, trying some of the great local ales and craft beers that London has to offer. This is where a plan was hatched to change a few details of the carefully planned arrangements that Jools had made. I was originally planning to ride her Pashley Princess with some lovely VCG bunting that had been custom made for the occasion...

I had got myself a three-piece Tweed suit from a costume hire company in Haslemere and something in my head was nagging me to swap to the Pashley Clubman Urban. It seemed much more in keeping with my attire and also it would be something a bit different as you don't tend to see as many of them on the road. It's certainly a steed that doesn't fail to draw admiring glances. 

Every year the route is different, with this year's starting in the quadrangle courtyard of University College London. A chance to fix ties, cravats, attach bunting and greet fellow Tweed Runners old and new happens at the meeting point. Then we were off, weaving our way up to Regent's Park.

It's always great looking at the array of bicycles and outfits; the Penny Farthing cyclists always inspire awe and wander and there was more than a few well co-ordinated Tandem duos weaving though the bunch.

Now four hundred Tweed clad cyclists tally-hoing their way through central London makes for some spectacle and it's always fabulous to see the look of surprise on the faces of Londoners and tourists alike as we wend our way past attractions like Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square! Even the frosty demeanour of the capital's taxi and van drivers is thawed as we breeze by honking our horns and dinging our bells.

We stopped for lunch at Lincoln Inn Fields, sipping tea from fine bone china cups & eating handfuls of crisps from ride sponsor's Tyrells. The Tea Stop is also where the wonderful 5th anniversary Tweed Run cake was unveiled! Having sacrificed the cargo carrying capacity of the Princess's basket I was rather bereft of lunch time supplies, so my thanks go to the Loughton brothers for sharing their Scotch eggs, sausage rolls and a rather decent bottle of ale from the Lake District. We also enjoyed a cheeky cocktail at the St Germain picnic saw us ready to ride once more.

It was only a short hop up towards our ending of the Tweed Run - King's Cross to the Star of Kings pub. This was a good job as the rather foreboding clouds passing overhead had been threatening to let go all day... the heavens opened just as we got into the shelter of the pub!

Yet again, Ted and Jacqui along with the excellent Marshals did a marvellous job of organising the Tweed Run. It was a fantastic experience and I'm thrilled to have been there for the days events. I can't wait to see what's in store for the next 'Run... and perhaps Lady V will come along for the ride.

The Boy.

More of Ian's stunning photography from The Tweed Run can be seen in his set over on Flickr:
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