This Sunday I had the pleasure of being the volunteer photographer for this year’s Vintage Velo bike ride. This was the fourth annual edition of the Tweed Run-style jaunt which is held each year as a fundraiser for the Bristol Cycle Festival. My bicycle Petal and I both got a bit dressed up for the occasion. You can see here Petal’s lovely bunting, which I made for her, in between snapping pics, at the ‘Bunt up your Bike’ stall near the registration area. She’s looking rather sweet, don’t you think? (There is no photograph of her rider, I’m afraid!) Well over 100 cyclists donned their vintage finery and took to their two-wheeled steeds (of any and all vintages) to ride through the sunny Sunday afternoon to our mystery destination… …which was the rather grand Kings Weston House to the north of Bristol. I say! All in all it was a lovely day, even if I did end up at one point stranded briefly behind a doubledecker sightseeing bus circling the Downs, after stopping to photograph my fellow cyclists. If you did want to see a photograph of me on the ride, you can ask the tourist at the back of the bus who took my photo as I pedalled to catch up to the group. I smiled very nicely! I do aim to entertain. Late afternoon, once I’d had taken in my fill of sunshine on the lawn, I departed for home, riding back along the Portway. I couldn’t resist stopping to snap a shot of our iconic suspension bridge. And our muddy Avon too. Bristol love!
Ahem, due to starting a new job last week, I have neglected to update my blog. But here I am, keeping up my (just about, if you squint) weekly posts.
Monday I cycled to work for the very first time. Love it! Especially since I have a route that goes along a river. More on that in a second.
And today I finally put one of the bike stickers I bought in Tucson several years ago onto the bike. Stunning.
My bicycle doesn’t have a name yet. I wonder what I’ll call her…
Really, I am finding it so much nicer to cycle to and from work than to walk. It’s like a little treat to top and tail the work day.
My riverside route does take me through clouds of gnats, though. I wonder things like: have I eaten any today? Are they stuck in my teeth? How many have smashed themselves on the windscreens of my eyeballs? Am I wearing any in my hair? Important questions.
Today I walked with my purple Peugeot bicycle to the recycling centre, waved goodbye (mentally, that is), and walked home alone.
‘Old Clunker’ – as I started calling her just yesterday as I selected my ‘new’ used bike – was secondhand when I bought her in Bridgwater, Somerset the better part of a decade ago. She has since moved house with me three times and was eventually the bike on which I had my first cycle training session last year (to build up confidence after years of not riding). Ultimately, and overall in her time with me, she was more symbolic of me as a cyclist than she was an actual practical tool of cycling. Her gear shifters were stiff, rust laced her purple sheen and the last time I rode her it took about five seconds to get tired with her seat too low and rust, of course, holding the adjusting bolt securely in place. I’ve honed my skills and confidence on a borrowed bike instead.
So, no I don’t believe I’ll miss her, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t matter to me. I just grew up a bit and had to say farewell to clear the space in my life for my new ride, who’s having her mud guards and lights fitted, and I pick her up on Tuesday! Now this is a bicycle for riding. I can’t wait…
In times of trouble you gotta do the things that make you happy…
The cycle training was a success. I can now ride my bike down the street without fear! I can use my gears in a halfway sensible manner! Gravity and hills are not my ultimate enemies! Wow, I am excited and inspired and just wish it would stop raining for long enough to let me get out there and keep practising the art of looking behind myself without wobbling.
Next lesson will involve venturing onto bigger, busier roads, a bit of route planning and who knows what else. It’s amazing how much of a confidence boost you can get in an hour. Even on a creaky old bike like mine.
I seemed to be a bit dazed for a while by all the ingredients in my cupboard and found myself making the same sorts of things I did while I was travelling around and staying in hostels. Nothing wrong with that but then I was like, come on Kramer, jazz it up a bit. But I’ve started to get back into my rhythm, inventing all sorts of dishes, some of which have been gorgeous to look at. Wish I had a photo of my veg stew with beetroot – a rainbow in a bowl. (Although the leftovers the next night were decidedly red/purple – that’s bossy beetroot for you.)
Then I decided I was going to bake myself a polenta pie. With spinach and feta, I think. Mm. Only thing holding me back is that the supermarket only had ready-made polenta. Not useful for my purposes, so I’ll have to wait until I can get to somewhere that sells what I need.
In the meantime, my other baking project. Tonight I’ve been sheltering from a rainy night in a warm kitchen – with Led Zeppelin blaring out of the speakers – and baking carrot bread. And by bread in this context I mean a sort of cake, but uh not carrot cake… It’s bread like banana bread is bread. If you’re American (or a quick study) you know what I mean. If you’re British, you’re probably not paying attention, as you’re too busy boiling the kettle at the mention of cake.
My tried and tested recipe comes from Nava Atlas’s Vegetariana but there are two extra ingredients I’ve introduced this time. One is tinned pineapple chunks. Just a few, for extra sweetness and moistness. The other, well… If you’ve read Like Water for Chocolate, or have seen the film, you may recall Tita’s secret is to make her food “with love”. I hope I’ve baked my bread with love too, but there’s more. I’m also inclined to believe this loaf will be extra good because it was baked with rock ‘n’ roll.
Wander into the mud with a camera!
One moment you’re marvelling at the glorious sunshine. A second later you’re eyes have completed one full blink and the heavens have opened. Ah, good, springtime in Bristol. Always nice to catch a few signs of the season on camera.