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Judging at Bespoked, Dartmoor, Ireland and Mountain Biking

The last week has been hectic. After getting back from Switzerland on Tuesday night, it was straight into a shoot for Met Helmets on Wednesday morning, with Dave joining me on modelling duties. The day was an absolute stunner, so we stayed closed to home to shoot some images for next year’s catalogue on our road bikes and touring bikes, taking photographer Joolze Dymond to Littlehempston for some shots of us climbing hills out of the ever-so-cute village, and then to Staverton Nurseries where I tried to keep my mind on the job despite by burgeoning interest in growing things.
 
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My legs were still feeling weak after so much time off due to flu, so I made sure to fit in some more riding in the evening, heading up to Dartmoor on my road bike to catch the last of the sun’s rays. I’ve been finding it hard not to get dismayed by how unfit those weeks of inactivity have made me as I had some races in my diary that I’ve had to strike off my list as a result… but cycling Dartmoor on a warm, sunny, spring evening is a sure fire way to raise the spirits. It’s a near physical feeling, that lifting of the heart.

I explored a new corner of the National Park over towards Avon Dam that I’m now delighted I previously neglected as it means I’ve a whole load of new vistas to discover. The whole place is like a nursery at the moment, with lambs gambolling in the fields and freshly hatched butterflies fluttering in the hedgerow.

After a couple of days getting stuck in to some copywriting and marketing issues, I then hot-footed it to Bristol to visit Bespoked handbuilt bike show on Friday evening, where my job was to judge several of the categories with a crew that included Ricky Feather of Feather Cycles, Robert Penn and Tony Farrelly.
 
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Judging turned out to be quite a tricky process as we all took the decision making extremely seriously, debating for a long time about each and every award with plenty of friendly disagreements. In the end, we presented the ‘Best New Frame Builder Award’ and ‘Best In Show,’ to Rowan Cycles, which of course is a very big deal for a frame builder showing for the very first time at Bespoked.

Another newcomer, Caren Hartley of Hartley Cycles snagged an award for her ‘Demi-Porkeur,’ the utility bike that she built for photographer Camille Macmillan which I recently wrote about for the Brooks blog.

Judging in the bag, I had just enough time for a pint before I called it a night in anticipation of an early wake up call on Saturday for my flight to Dublin. The weekend saw me visit the Irish Cycling Show with Met Helmets and Bluegrass, catching up with a few friends and of course, drinking Guinness.

Sadly there was no time to visit The Forty Foot like I did last time I was in Dublin racing in the Bluegrass Enduro Tour, but it’s probably a little chilly for sea swimming at the moment, in fact last time I had a dip in the sea I got mild hypothermia and couldn’t unlock my car door because my hands wouldn’t work. Roll on summer, when I’ll once again ride to my favourite wild swimming spot on the River Dart, bikini in my saddlebag.

 

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So post flu, I’m still not getting in as much cycling as I want to/need to and my work/life balance seems to be getting a little out of whack. Plenty of beer is being drunk as some kind of a substitute, but ultimately, I need to find more time to get on the bike. Luckily, there are now evenings to fill with cycling, so I made the most of it after work today and went down to Scadson Woods for a shred.

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