04:36:50 pm on October 14, 2014 |
Of course there’s no such thing as free beer. But somehow, I’ve ended up getting involved with a local craft brewery and it’s a whole heap of fun.
Last year I started making “Turbo Cider” – it was a weekend project with the kids as G said my recycling bin was filling up too fast, and maybe I could make my own beer. We settled on cider as it seemed easier.
Anyhow. That, and the proximity of the wonderful Old Gate Hebden Bridge, a bar manager called Ollie who seemed determine to school me in the what’s and wherefores of beer. Moving to drinking halves from pints. And having a bunch of free time… I ended up somehow forcing my way into the largely family run Bridestones Brewery a few months ago.
Dan Tasker who runs the brewery is an interesting chap. He’s a marketing and business background, and grew up at the farm he still lives at above the valley in Blackshaw Head.
As a side project last year, he launched the Hebden Bridge Brewing Company brand, to make less mainstream, more edgy beers. The sort of beers that quite interested me.
I thought I could help with his marketing, brands, that sort of thing, and we’ve had a fun few weeks bouncing ideas around.
Our first new brew was a Green Hopped Bitter – which came about as the Incredible Farm in Walsden, near Todmorden, just up the road, called to say they had a crop of Northdown Hops, and did we want any?
We did! And to add to the “green” aspect, I decided to collect the hops by bike. So, to keep true to the ethos and echoes in the valley, I followed the ancient drovers roads and packhorse tracks of Calderdale to get from Hebden Bridge, to the farm, then up to Bridestones Brewery in Blackshaw Head above Hebden Bridge.
And recorded it all on Strava of course – http://www.strava.com/activities/202666208
The beer was brewed. Hops added. And then it was left to ferment.
Today, I’ve just collected one of the barrels, and delivered it to OldGate for their beer festival this weekend. It’ll be OK by Friday when it’s settled a bit.
That’s on Strava too - http://www.strava.com/activities/207183370
The beer is called Vertical. It’s great.
Oh yeah – and the other day I started a new bike company - http://pactbikes.com/
10:02:42 am on August 13, 2014 |
When I was 16, I got a Saturday job in Two Wheels Good in Leeds. It was the shop where I’d bought my first mountainbike, and, it transpired (I only found this out lately) my mum had rung them up to see if they would give me a Saturday job. They said yes, and John Stevenson called me up later that day to ask if I fancied working there. I bit his hand off, and started the week after. Arriving late, in ripped jeans. Not a great start.
I’d not been there long, but knew a fair bit about the stock. We had a good selection of clothing in stock, from Castelli to Been Bag, even some Scott Tinley, Cannondale… there was a fair bit of kit there. Something for everyone.
A gentleman entered the shop, just after lunchtime, and was browsing the shorts. I moved over to help him.
He was quite well presented, in his cycling kit, with a kind of “single man” smell about him. He said he wanted some new shorts… And so it began…
Him: “Yeah, so I ride to work every day. It’s about ten miles each way. And then I do a bit at the weekend too. But these shorts… they’re just not right. Seem to be wearing out fast. The last pair did the same. After about three or four months they just start getting really, you know, uncomfortable and start falling to bits on me.”
So, he was doing regular miles, not mega miles. They were, he informed me his only pair. And did he…
Him: “Oh yeah. I do the old, er, ‘no pants’ thing, yeah. Do that. No difference. Uncomfy. I suppose I do put the miles in. I guess it’s 100 miles a week, then another 100 or so at the weekends. I guess that’s a lot of miles over the three months isn’t it?”
Had he tried chammy cream?
Him: “Yeah. Tried that. Just made things worse if anything“.
So I took him through the range on display. Been Bag were making some shorts with a fleecy liner in. He didn’t think much to those.
Him: “Can’t see that working.”
Castelli were a wonderful racing bred short.
Him: “Bit garish and clingy those. No.”
So I moved on. To then, our favourites – the Cannondale ones. They had a brilliant construction with this cool one piece seamless chammy, and were our top seller.
Me: “So these, have a clever manufactured chammy. No seams. Really good synthetic construction.”
Him: “Synthetic? Synthetic! That’s great.”
I looked confused.
Him: “So I’d be able to wash these then?“
05:56:48 pm on July 24, 2014 |
I’ve had half an eye on Kickstarter over the last few whenevers. Was fascinating to watch Steve Domahidy of Niners new venture form and pass it’s target just hours before the end. It was dissapointing to watch Axey McBeardy, sorry, Jamie Hibberd’s Nu-Man magazine -βeta Male magazine fail. But maybe that’s because it’s hard to write Beta. Dunno.
I tripped over this project the other day – a truly amazing project – for technical reasons – there seem to be a whole load of mountains to climb there, and also for funding reasons – exceeding it’s lofty target by a significant amount – the Vanhawks Valour is an amazing machine. Quite unlike anything that’s on the market right now, and created by people who don’t seem to have any current involvement in the cycling business. I hope they get it sorted. It’s a breath of fresh air, and from the funding received, and the style of bike it is, it’s an indication in the market that there’s something amiss in the specs and ranges from many large manufacturers. I’m a bit sceptical though…
It’s not all fun and games – Nuseti seem a long way off their half million pound target, though have 36 days to run. It could all change.
The Universal Bike is cute, but solves problems that I don’t think most people even understand.
Dave Weiner’s Priority Bicycle ticks similar boxes to the Vanhawks. Something that the big brands don’t have in their portfolio, certainly not the ones that they’re pushing in the UK or USA to my knowledge, and by the sign up rate – the public seem to think so too.
Bikes should be simple, and so many are not. Brands that offer zillions of combinations of slightly different thing. Does a mountainbike brand need eight styles of handlebar, each coming in five or more colours?
Anyhow – Rhys (not Reece) who works evenings at Old Gate Hebden up the road plays drums in a band called Leopards that are trying to raise some funds to do an EP release. It’s not on Kickstarter, but it’s on a music thingy like it.
I’ve backed them. Rhys is great. Maybe you might like to back them too.
10:24:13 am on July 16, 2014 |
Just sorting a few things out in my office. Well, my dining room that’s a mess. Tripped over my reference from my first “industry” job at Two Wheels Good in Leeds, which I ended up with after my mum rang up John Stevenson to see if there were any Saturday jobs going. There were, he rang me back, and I didn’t find anything out about their conspiracy until last year.
Two Wheels Good was a great environment. A CoOperative, with a frame building workshop on the top floor of the building in Call Lane, Leeds. Andy Morris, one of the partners, patiently assisted my teenage enthusiasm for lathes and brazing, and let me loose on making stems and even frames. Malcolm assisted in teaching me about geometry. And Stevenson was Stevenson.
12:21:00 pm on July 14, 2014 |
Reach is often claimed to be the be-all-end-all dimension to help sizing, but staring at it too hard can be the wrong thing to do:-
1) Adding 10mm to headtube length, with a typically slack head angled bike shortens reach by 4mm (for the same front centre).
2) A hardtail at ride height will have an effective reach that’s perhaps nearly 20mm longer than it is statically.
I still think that hardtails should have geometry shown clearly at ride height. It’s only saddos with iphones and no mates who care about static hardtail geometry.
And then there’s the issue of disparate-travel full suspension frames. But they’re daft, clearly.
08:10:51 pm on July 10, 2014 |
My shower’s been leaking. It’s always done it, and even when I put a new shower tray in, and loads of silicone sealant, it was still leaking after a few weeks.
It got so bad that the floor in the bathroom went all wonky and floor tiles started lifting. I didn’t know that’s why the floor tiles were lifting, but the damp had got out of the shower room, into the floor in the bathroom which made the adhesive on the tiles fail.
The reason why was obvious when I went in the shower with my glasses on. Which I don’t normally do, but anyhow…
Though I had lots of ceramic tiles on the wall, the grout that connected them together and sealing the cracks, and making the water run smoothly over them? It wasn’t there. I’d forgotten to grout the tiles.
The business motto is this, I think… It’s all very well having your key employees in place. Key employees are like the tiles on my shower wall. They can be boring white ones, the cheapest that B&Q have, or they can be those funky rectangular ones with bevelled edges, or those expensive natural slate ones. Whatever they are, they’re utterly useless unless they’re all grouted in place, connected, and solid. Thankfully I was able to grout my tiles, and things are much better in my shower room. There are a few cracks in my downstairs ceiling, but things are solid now.
I don’t write this sort of business bollocks very often, but I thought this was worth a post.
10:07:07 am on July 9, 2014 |
Last summer, I was in China. I had been at an alloy frame factory, and was heading back to Shenzhen to meet my girlfriend who was flying into Shenzhen airport. She’d been working in China, moving an exhibition between two cities, and was meeting me there, to come and see some carbon fibre factories. Her idea of fun. Anyhow.
I’d got some general industry spam a few weeks earlier from a company that said they could make us things in carbon. I’d politely replied, and said I’d drop in to see them on my trip. I’ve worked with a lot of factories – this was a new one.
The journey from the frame factory to the carbon factory didn’t go that well, and I was a bit pushed for time. So I got there late, embarrassingly late – and was met by ten people. The CEO, GM, Head of Production, Head of Sales, Sales Assistant, R&D manager. Loads of people. And just me and my rucksack. And the raging horn to meet up with my girl who I hadn’t seen for three weeks.
Anyhow. They started showing me round. The usual stuff. Powerpoint presentation. Chiller room with carbon. Cutting room. Layup room. Molding room… All the usual stuff. They made “sporting goods” – not just bike parts. As well as the very high end Euro TT aero bars, they also made golf clubs. And baseball bats.
Their prices for carbon frames was off the scale expensive. Their rims seemed pricey too. I don’t always try and work with every factory, but these people seemed good. But I couldn’t work out what to do. And so, I high tailed it out of there, with their sales guy in the car. His english was great. And we were chatting.
I was thinking back over the stuff I’d seen. Golf shafts being tested for stiffness. Baseball bats that had tough outer coatings. And that’s how the Knuckleball bar was formed.
I remember seeing some very flexy carbon stuff way back when, when I was at MBUK. I remember John Stevenson having a flexy carbon post snap and nearly impale him. I knew people were offering carbon bars which could “absorb trail shock”. But hey – I couldn’t remember anyone making the same bar, in two stiffness moduli. A stiff and springy version. “Hard and Chewy” said William. Like candy!
And so it started. That’s the On-One Knuckleball Bar.
07:40:32 pm on July 8, 2014 |
Odd to appear nearly a week after I left, and on the day the Tour rolled through town, but hey…
Very proud of what we did there, bringing amazing value bikes to people.
“infectiously enthusiastic ” – that’s a good thing, right?
08:37:35 pm on July 3, 2014 |
Just sparkled out at me from the Marc Riley show on 6Music. Just amazing to have been created nearly 40 years ago.