Pizza, Camping and Lycra Clad Jealousy, Blog #4


Sun, beaches, bottomless drinks, relaxing by the pool… Nah I’ll take cycle camping around France for a week in the cold and the wet any day. That is exactly what I did. Some of you may of heard of the Avenue Verte connecting London to Paris via cycle paths and secluded country lanes ( many of you may have done it as well). Well, we missed out the UK part, after many recommendations from friends, we decided that the UK bit sounded stressful and, well, just a bit boring compared to France.

Friday night we left for Newhaven (by car) and spent the night living it up in a premier inn. The next morning it was straight into the ferry on our fully loaded bikes. We weren’t the only ones though, there seemed to be a couple of fully supported trips heading off on the same route as us. Of course, they were in full Lycra gear and were making us feel lazy when they boasted that they would be in Paris within a couple of days. We, on the other hand, hadn’t planned on getting to Paris until Tuesday.


Once off the boat fueled up with a veggie breakfast and lots of coffee (gave up on the veganism over that week) the fun really started. One thing I will say about the trail is although on the most part it’s well signposted, it was easy to lose track of where you’re going when you get into the towns and villages. Sure enough, this happened from the get-go. After 40 minutes winding around Deipe off we went. The first day was a smooth 30 miles of old railway track. After our first night in the tent, a pizza in town and one puncture we were ready for the next day and the inevitable hills. Not that the hills were massive – it’s no Alps, but when you’re fully loaded and unprepared the rolling French countryside hits you pretty hard. I now fully understand why we build our Bristol Bicycles with triple chainrings for when the going gets tough.

The whole route was really varied from railway tracks to muddy fields. Within the same day, we could be following a river and then pootling through woodland. This makes it feel as though you have traveled a long way even though it was only a measly (by other people’s standards) 300ish miles there and back.

Little top tip with bike touring: never look forward to an easy day. On the final ride into Paris we had done a long trip the day before so it was in our heads that it was an easy spin into Paris. So, confident in this we decided to have a celebratory beer halfway through… Biggest mistake of the trip! The rest of the ride was hard work. We had to follow the River Seine into the center of Paris. When God created the Seine I believe he went a bit over the top with the bends. It’s fair to say that when we got to our air B&B (I know it’s cheating) we were knackered and after eating yet more pizza we slept like a log (or is it slept like logs? Both sound wrong)

When cycle touring as a holiday it is not all about speed and miles, so take a day off! And where better to do that than in Paris. You will thank your self for the day off, it gives you time to recover and have fresh legs for the trip back. Fully “refreshed” after 20,000 steps around Paris we hit the road yet again. Well, technically we hit the train but that’s not got as good of a ring to it. Another top tip for touring is don’t feel guilty about cheating. After the headache of cycling into Paris, we made a very quick decision to get the train out of Paris. I must remember to learn the French for elevator as hauling your fully loaded touring bike down an escalator is not fun!


Once back on our bikes the riding started to get interesting. Rolling country roads soon turned to rutted tracks which quickly escalated into muddy fields. My bike was made for these kinds of tracks and with plenty of clearance and no mudguards I had no issues and the wheels kept spinning. On the other hand, my dad’s bike, although it’s a lovely Temple Cycles touring bike, has mudguards meaning he was forever stopping to scrape mud off his bike to allow the wheels to spin freely.

(For this you have to know my dads name is Paul…)


One more night in the tent and yet more rain, so we decided to treat ourselves to a hotel on the final night… it’s a holiday after all! Having pizza in a restaurant is great, but I’m not sure it beats pasta from a camping stove. One of the best new gadgets I bought for this trip was my Jet boil stove (well, a cheaper Planet X one). They’re great for quickly boiling water for that post-ride cuppa. Or even making everyone’s favorite camping convenience food: pasta.

Back on the ferry and the holiday was nearly over. It’s always a sad time as the end of a trip draws near. I had plans for future bike trips spinning in my head. Determined to make this summer the summer of bike tours the trip had fueled me even more. Getting this tour under my belt gave me a bit more experience to talk to some of you more hardened tourers in the store. It was only a week but it felt like much longer. Being greeted by rain and wind felt like a true British homecoming. Here’s to a summer full of smaller and perhaps bigger adventures on my bike!

Cheers, George.

PS, the French for escalator is espalier mechanique (who would have guessed?)

Bikeporn 101, Blog #2

Well, that went quick. A month in already, met a few of you but I’m sure there are lots out there I’m yet to chat to. What have I been up to? Month one has been information overload so sorry if your booking took slightly longer than normal.

You may have noticed a few new snaps of the Bristol Bicycles. I hope you have enjoyed them, please do let us know what you think. If you see me out getting photos don’t be afraid to say hello.

Working in a bike shop is 20% dealing with you the customer and then the other 80% taking photos of nice bikes. Ok, there might be a bit more to it, but a nice chunk of my time so far has been spent taking the bikes out and finding good locations to take photos. I’m not pretending to be an expert, I’m not even pretending to be a novice… but I thought I would share some ideas of what works for me.

A quick scroll through Instagram and you will see the trends and styles most used. You don’t have to stick by them, by any means, break the rules but there is a tried and tested way of taking a nice bike photo.

George’s Bike Photo Checklist

  • Drive side (the side with all the gears on) facing the camera
  • Pedals and cranks straight (parallel with the ground)
  • Good background (not too much going on)
  • Pick a good time (golden hour)
  • Get photos of the key parts (branded bits and bike graphics)

Taking your photos at the right time can be key. I tend to avoid the busy times of day as I know I will have to stop-start and there may be too many people in the background. Time also effects the light. Avoid midday as it will be very strong light especially on the rare sunny days we get. My favourite time is known as the golden hour. This happens for about an hour every day before the sun sets or if you’re up early enough just after the sun rises.

If you’re showing off all the swanky new parts make sure you get some close-ups. If you’re taking your photos on a nice camera, bomb the aperture right down (also known as the F-number) and get a nice blurry effect behind the component.

So you have your nice photos… what’s next? Maybe you suffer from a certain bike based vanity like me and you crave the attention of other bike fans online (no judgment here). My go-to social media platform for cycling is Instagram. It’s crawling with fellow bike geeks all eager to show off their trusty steed. When uploading to a platform like Instagram I will lead with the main bike photo, and then on the same posting add edition photos showing off the parts. Then to optimise your likes and interactions do some research into what other people tag and hashtag with similar photos, and just copy what seems to be popular. DON’T FORGET TO TAG bristol_bicycles IN YOUR PHOTOS!!!! That way we can repost your images on our own account. This goes for branded products too: tagging the brand into your photo will allow them to see the parts and they might use your photos on their own accounts ( crediting you of course).

I hope this helps you take some good photos! We look forward to seeing what you can come up with.

Instagram: @bristol_bicycles

The New Kid On The Block, Blog #1

Who?

I’m George the new fresh face at Bristol bicycles, well mainly fresh… depends on what time you catch me in the morning. I’m a fan of fat tyres and casual riding. I’ll often be found riding an unsuitable bike in off-road situations, be that walking it down precarious descents or getting funny looks from mountain bikers as I pass them on the hills (not that I’m particularly good up hill). With a background in film I’m hoping I can capture some pretty images and stories here at Bristol Bicycles.

Bike?

I currently ride a Brothers Kepler Disc frame set, with a few choice parts on it. Big fat tubeless tyres, wide flared bars and all the bosses for touring the world ( not that I am touring the world but I like the idea of it ).

Previous photos from traveling all over the world, on and off the bike (including, Iceland, Morocco and Holland)

Favourite food?

I’m all about the pizza! If you had to make me pick a type I’ll take anchovies and capers any day of the week. Ok, don’t push me, I’ll tell you the best place to get one. Bertha’s Pizza right here in sunny old Bristol. They do the best anchovy pizza this side of Naples.

Favourite place to ride?

Don’t get me wrong I love a good hill but I think Holland takes the top prize when it comes to cycling. It’s flat, the people are friendly and the bike paths are remarkable. After recently touring through Holland and Belgium whilst carrying my camping gear and drinking fine Belgian beer (their equivalent of a coffee stop). It’s amazing to see how friendly people are to those traveling by bike, so my favourite place to ride has to be just that.

What I’m hoping to do ?

I’m hoping to help grow the Bristol Bicycles brand and interact with many of you (the loyal customers). If you’re in store please do say hello! In the words of Billy Bragg “if you stick around I’m sure we can find some common ground”… especially if that ground is bike or pizza based. I think that’s the quote anyway. Please send in photos and stories about your Bristol Bicycles, or even just interesting bikes we have serviced here at Jake’s. I want to re-post and work with our customers as much as possible and continue to grow the Bristol Bicycles Family.

Best cycling accessory?

My new safety Pizza. What’s not to love…? Safety and pizza! For those not in the loop, a safety pizza is a hand-stitched luminous little pizza. It dangles off the back of your bike keeping you safe and highly visible whilst also showing your love for the humble dough.

What’s next?

Watch this space! I’ll be uploading regular blogs and updating Instagram and all other social media platforms daily (if all goes to plan).

My personal Instagram (for my all my previous work), instagram.com/georgedibbs/

The safety Pizza, www.safetypizza.com

Bertha’s Pizza, www.berthas.co.uk