Bespoked is the best. It’s tonnes of work, anxiety, preparation and money. But it’s the best: I always feel simultaneously drained and reinvigorated by the show. More than anything, I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of it in my own little way. It’s my fourth year exhibiting there, with 2020 missed out due to the pandemic you might have heard was happening.This might be the year when I’ve felt most comfortable being there. “The imposter syndrome is strong with this one” said John from TBA when I told him, chuckling to himself. I remember the first year I showed, feeling totally out of my depth but nonetheless welcomed. Then each year since feeling… totally out of my depth but nonetheless welcomed.
This year was awesome. There was a real sense of community among the builders, everyone was really excited to be there, and there were some times when it felt like we were all hugging each other or something. I spoke to hundreds of visitors who were all engaged and knowledgable, and as excited to be there as I was. Periodically we would pause mid sentence as a flash of riders pulsed around the track in our eyelines. Being in the centre of this cycling amphitheatre was a unique experience for me. I’d never even seen a velodrome before, so the scale of it was impressive. I worried before the show that it might feel echo-y in the middle of a wooden bowl, but actually, it felt cocooning. It was pretty fun.
I talked tube bending with Tarryn from Black Sheep, gnarly customers with Ted from TJD, 3D printing with Ralf from Huhn, and factory setup with Mark and Andrew from Prova and TBA. I loved Etoile Cycles approach, met some Belgian bike punks, got invited to see Moulton‘s fixtures and Konstantin from Drust gave me one of his head badge. Me and Ricky from Feather Cycles talked pricing and pinch bolts, and Robin Mather and I shared brass tales. I had various people I’d taught at TBA come say hi, including an entire class who were having a reunion there! I took literally zero photos because I’m rubbish. I lost my voice and sounded like, depending on your cultural references, Ted, or a 3 packs a day smoker. I loved it.
The off road tandem I exhibited was awarded the SQlab Choice award, and one of my Carriers, on the Wizard Works stand, was awarded Best Touring Bike. Among such amazing work, it’s a real privilege to have my work recognised this way.
The UK handbuilt scene, all these little businesses, all those people interested in buying a bike from a builder, are so lucky to have this event. Thanks Josh and Petor, it was rad.