29 April 2012

Big Day Out: Brooks Saddles and Vélobici...

A couple of weeks ago, me and The Boy had the pleasure of visiting the Brooks Saddle Factory! Thanks to the brilliant organisation by twitter friends @CraftieDutchie & @_Blixa_, the plan was to get together with some fellow twitter-cycling friends and have a tour around the plant, along with a cycle-stop or two for lunch and drinks.

It was a big day out for sure: a 06:30am meet with the lovely @thefixedfactor was arranged outside of the RFH, to load up our bikes into the van we'd hired with him. Although it was an insanely early start (setting off from East London at 05:20am), it was so worth it... just to see London bathed in those dusky hues...
...and of course having such clear roads was a treat.

A few hours later (and a few sleeps in the van for me), we arrived in Smethwick and met up with the rest of the cycling-crew:
From left to right: @offthelevel, @cycleslikeagirl, @evilgordon, @CraftyDutchie, @thefixedfactor, @_Blixa_, @grobelaar, @EdwardHealey - wonderful to put real faces & bikes to twitter handles after all this time!


Stepping into the factory was amazing: it's an intimate operation, with just under 50 people working the production line - all of whom are at different work stations but all knew one another. This isn't something that occurs often in a workplace, and was magical to see...
(Courtesy of @_Blixa_)

Steeped in tradition, there is an overwhelming sense of pride with each Saddle made by the Brooks team. I love every element of my Pashley, so it was very special to see where my B66s was made, and meeting people from the team who would have worked on it. 
Our two hours at Brooks was fascinating: meeting the workers & seeing how much effort goes into each piece and has made me appreciate my Saddle even more.

After a quick pub-stop, me, The Boy and @thefixedfactor I  headed off with @_blixa_, who had organised a meet-up and cycle through Market Bosworth with Chris Puttnam, one of the founders of Vélobici, and his friend Matthew. Another British company, Velobici make high-end cycling clothing and accessories - all of which are designed to be used for "cycling, socialising or working". This is something that strikes a chord with me when it comes to cycle-style, so it was a pleasure to meet Chris & discuss the ethos of his clothing!

Market Bosworth is a beautiful town to cycle though; so peaceful and picturesque...
I had a lot of fun cycling with the fellas, but as you can see, my Pashley isn't quite the calibre of speed machines they were on! There were also some false flats that caught me right out... it was quite an effort for me! My legs were certainly worked by the end of that ride - damn! 

A lovely and very generous surprise at the end of the ride was dinner at The Black Horse Restaurant, owned by Chris' brother Mike. Joined by Matthew's lovely wife & kids, we gathered in the bar for a very special preview of the upcoming new line from Vélobici (stunning!) and then sat down for 'Pie and Wine night'... oh my gosh, did I NEED this...
(Pie shot courtesy of Ian James)

This was the perfect ending to a wonderful day out on the bikes: A massive thank you goes to Chris for his immense generosity, thank you Brooks for having us and showing us the workings of your factory and a special thank you to @_blixa_ & @Craftydutchie for organising such a brilliant day! 

More photos from the day can be viewed here.
Many thanks to The Boy for photographic assistance again x

3 comments:

michieblue said...

A VERY NICE READ.

Campfire said...

Interesting. I really must put my own Brooks on the bike.

Dottie said...

Looks like a fun and beautiful outing. Who needs a speed machine when you have the best looking and most comfortable bike out there?

I would enjoy visiting Brooks, since their saddles have been so kind to my behind. :)