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BUFFALO FOUNDATION | FIX ARTICLE

Quella has recently partnered with The Buffalo Foundation to create a one-off, branded version of it’s iconic Oxford bike.  Every Buffalo Foundation bike sold returns 25% of its sale price directly to The Buffalo Foundation.  In this edition of The Fix, we talk to founder, Jan Joubert, about the charity and its background.

The Fix:  So Jan, for those who don’t know about The Buffalo Foundation, can you give us some background?

J.J:  Buffalo Foundation is a charity that supports disadvantaged young people via sport, education, and life skills.  Sport & education is taken for granted by most of us, but in a world where people are struggling to make ends meet, it is not even on the menu.  We have a heavy focus on the townships in South Africa where I am from and we have plans to replicate this with academies we support in the UK in the near future.

The Fix:  Why do you feel that sport and education is so important?

J.J: .Sport takes many forms from a simple pleasure to an all-encompassing passion and our aim is to open the door to this world to people who wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity.  It is not just the pleasure of taking part but the structure that it imposes; the discipline, commitment, and the communication needed to make it work. Sport introduces some of the individuals we work with to these structures for the first time in their lives. In townships where life is chaotic and unstructured, just the process of involvement with sport is life changing along with the added benefit of supplementary education via our academy tutors.

The Fix:  Can you give us an example?

J.J:  One of our projects that we are involved with is the Kwano Cycling Academy in the Kwanokathula township in Plettenberg Bay. The kids at the academy understand the value of what the Academy offers them, they know that they must arrive on time, that the equipment needs to be looked after in order to perform well and homework complete before cycling training. They relish the rewards of their achievements as payback for their hard work and they flourish in the safe environment of the club away from the dangers of township life.Aside from the cycling itself, the club offers extra teaching and proper facilities for the kids to do their schoolwork.

The Fix:  Cycling seems to be at the heart of many of Buffalo Foundation’s initiatives, what is it about cycling that works so well?

J.J: Cycling is a very accessible discipline; it can be learned quickly and at its most basic level it instantly provides a method of transport as well as a route to improved fitness and wellbeing.  You literally get back what you put in and with some commitment, improvement is rapid and rewarding.  A bike also gives instant freedom, and enables self-sufficient transport whether it be to school, a medical centre or just to visit a friend.  The Buffalo Foundation recently assisted with fundraising to deliver just under 250 Qhubeka bicycles via the Murray High School into the community of Kwanokathula.

The Fix:  How has Covid-19 affected the academies?

J.J:  It’s been tough on the academies throughout the current pandemic. We are in the middle of additional fundraising campaigns to not only assist us with keeping the academies running at cost so they can survive through the lockdowns and new regulations but still be there for when some form of normality returns to life. We have several supporters who have coloured their hair, and beards in the 7 colours of the rainbow and we have also kicked off a campaign for employees to get their CEOs to either colour their hair or shave it into a mohican. Of course there is also our Buffalo Club for people who with to support us on a regular basis. This not only helps our academies survive but has also helped us provide food parcels to all of our academy families who have really struggled with food as they have lost their income as a result of the pandemic. Quella is a partnership we are super excited about as the funds raised will help us to not only maintain what we are currently doing but also help us make a difference to more young people including our UK academy plans. 

The Fix:  We know you are a committed cyclist yourself and have done some big rides here and back in South Africa. How has your cycling enthusiasm influenced your joint creation and support of The Buffalo Foundation:

JJ:   My key reason is I want to make a real difference to as many young people's lives as possible by giving them opportunities to flourish and enable their futures. We can have academies with any sport, it doesn't have to be cycling, but for me cycling has not only helped me keep fit and healthy but also provided me with various networking opportunities, allowed me to experience some of the most incredible rides around the world including within the areas of our current SA academies, and make lifelong friends. I’m passionate and strongly believe cycling has been a catalyst to making a difference to those that are part of the academies.

The Fix:  It’s been a pleasure Jan, we are delighted to be involved.

Take a look at a day in the life of Kwano Cycling Academy, one of the Foundation's project partners.

The Buffalo Foundation custom bike can be ordered on-line on the Quella website for £575.00 and for every bike sold £120.00 will be donated straight to The Buffalo Foundation.

RAD-RACE | LAST MAN STANDING

Team Quella rider Callum Jeandin was one of 150 riders let loose for the 2020 Last Man Standing race in Berlin to battle against some of the best fixie riders in the world. 

This incredible event takes place on a tight indoor go-kart track with 10 riders per race racing fixed-wheel bikes at the same time with no brakes - sound like chaos?? Yep, it is! It is fast and furious with lots of crashes - incredible bike handling as well as speed and fitness are the key to success.

Last Man Standing is organised by the amazing Rad-Race team and, as well as bringing together some of the world's best Crit riders, they managed to persuade former time-trial World and Olympic champ, Fabien Cancellara to take part. 'Spartacus' was looking very cool and definitely sprinkled some celebrity stardust on this high octane event. Another rider well known to the audience was James Lowsley-Williams from GCN who was here for a second helping having competed last year.

Check out the video that we made from Rad race here - https://youtu.be/YDakFuexQfw

Despite the incredibly high standard of the riders, the backdrop is more like a rave than a pro-sport event with D.J's banging out pumping music, with full light and sound system, and LOTS of noise from a very enthusiastic crowd who make full use of the bar.  As well as the super competitive hard core riders, there is also a great reception for those riding in fancy dress or not much dress at all in some cases.  The format is brutal, after every two laps, the last rider is pulled out of the race to get down to 4 who progress to the next heat until, eventually, there is only a 'Last Man Standing'.  This means the standard gets higher and the races get faster as the evening progresses - it's a fantastic spectacle and a great atmosphere.  After holding his own well in his heat, our man in black, Callum, on his Quella Varsity had a minor crash which slowed him up and he just missed out on progressing but survived to tell the tale.  Huge congratulations to British rider Alec Briggs who made it to the top of the podium after some very hard racing - amazing performance!!  French fixie ace Margaux Vigie was untouchable in the women's event and always looked in control to take the trophy.  Once the racing finished, it was time for the music to get even louder and a proper after-party to finish things off.

Will we be back?  Yes, for sure, it's epic!!

Big thanks to Limar helmets for hooking us up for the event, check them out here - https://limar.com/?lang=en

Thanks to Henry Little for the film and photography, check his instagram out - @hen_piccolo

JAMES GOLDING | CANCER SURVIVOR AND RECORD BREAKER

The Fix talks to an old friend of Quella James Golding about surviving cancer, breaking world records, and his goal of being the first man to win Ride Across America.

We have known each other a while and we are very familiar with your back story and the horrendous health issues you have battled, but it’s inspirational stuff and it would be great to share it with our Fix readers.

I don’t mind talking about it at all because, horrible as it was at the time, it has brought about so many positives in my life and changed my perspective on almost everything.  I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and told that my chances of survival were bleak.  The following months consisted of some very gruelling treatment and a prognosis that I might well spend my life in a wheelchair.  As you can see, I managed to avoid that, but I did spend 4 months in one and then got a second diagnosis of another tumour 3 years later.  It was hard going but it was during those times that I developed a resolve to turn the negatives into positives and I will always be grateful for that.

Since your recovery, it is fair to see you have become a fairly bonkers cyclist.  Could you give the Fix readers an insight into what ‘bonkers’ about cycling means in your case?

Yes, bonkers is a good way of putting it!!  There have been so many big rides and so much training.  It is fair to say that some of the early smaller sportives I did after cancer also were some of the hardest at the time when my body was still massively depleted.  Since then, I guess some of the bigger ‘headliners’ are LA to Miami (3473miles), London to Edinburgh in 2 days, 9 x Haute Route 7-day trips across the Alps and Pyrenees, the Mallorca 312km and pre-running the Tour of Britain route. The most recent big one was the Ride Across The West in the States earlier this year which has qualified me for the Race Across America 2020.  I have definitely missed loads out, but they are all on my website.

And, you have raised a few quid for charity in the process – we know you are a modest soul but please tell us the magic number?!?

I like to think that I am modest, but I am also unbelievably proud to say that I have raised over £3million for charity since my recovery from cancer.

Huge congratulations on breaking the seven day world record, talk us through that.

In a word – hard - 1766 miles of hard!  As with a lot of challenges, it becomes a huge mind game.  Am I in real distress or real discomfort?  Discomfort – keep going!!  Do I want to stop more than I want this World record?  World record please!  I have learnt that if there is a clear goal, I can nearly always keep going.  I am definitely an endurance rider not a racer.

So the big project now is Ride Across America, where are you at with that?

I want to be the first British athlete to win and I am confident that I can do it.  Endurance races aren’t as well known as the Grand Tours but I can assure you that this is a monster.  It is widely recognised as the hardest bike race in the world.  To win, you need a proper team behind you and I have secured some great sponsors and we are well on the way but I am still fundraising and would love to hear from any readers who would like to get involved in helping a GB rider make history.  It’s a huge financial commitment as well as a personal one and cannot be done without a professional team in place.

Give us a few stats!!

There are many, I know them all far too well!!  Here’s a few – the total race is 30% longer than the Tour de France and is complete without any rest days. I’ll race 3000 miles total, approx. 375 miles per day for 8 days against the clock, average sleep per night 3 hours, over 17,000 metres of climbing up to a max height of 3309 metres (1.5 times Mont Ventoux!!)  To break the current record, I need to get from San Diego to Maryland in under 7 days and 16 hours!  Of all the stats, that final number is the one that I wake up in the morning thinking about.  Sadly, all the rest are out of my control!!

Bloody hell!!  It sounds horrific.  How’s training going?

Really good thanks, notwithstanding a few domestic issues.  Louise, me, and our two kids moved to Portugal to give me easy access to the right training environment – better weather, quieter roads, and plenty of climbing.  The house desperately needed a new kitchen and a few other bits.  The local builders arrived and took it upon themselves to make their first job ripping out the old kitchen, so we are currently living in a house with two young kids and a makeshift kitchen in the front room.  The builder is now well behind on the project and Louise’s patience is wearing very thin.  Apart from that we love it!!

Is the Quella still getting a run out for the odd trip to the local bar?

Hmmm, I am sad to report that the local bar is not really on the agenda, unfortunately it's definitely more bananas that beer at present and my lovely Quella is hidden at the back of the garage behind the majority of my furniture, a large pile of building materials and a cement mixer!!  Get the house finished, ride across America, and then I will be back on my trusty single-speed and definitely enjoying a few cold ones!!  As usual, ‘One step at a time!!!’ 

James – as always its been an absolute pleasure.  We wish you the very best luck with the project and the fundraising – if anyone can do this, it is you!

James Golding is aiming to be the first British rider to win Ride Across America, the hardest endurance bike race in the world.  It’s a huge challenge and despite having some great sponsors on board James is still fundraising hard in between countless hours of training.  There are still some amazing sponsorship opportunities available.

If you are interested in helping James and promoting your brand, visit his website at www.onestepatatimeuk.com

OR

E-mail:  simon@jamesgolding.uk.com

DANIEL HUGHES | ON CYCLING ADVENTURES AROUND THE GLOBE

We caught up for a coffee and a chin wag with friend of Quella Daniel Hughes in the London suburb of Stoke Newington. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is DSC05370.jpgDaniel Hughes has had some amazing adventures in his lifetime - passing selection for the Special Forces, placed the first Red Nose and made the world's highest video call from the summit of Everest to the BBC Newschannel, raced two world Duathlon championships, raced as a pro-cyclist and flies around the world as a 787 pilot.  In recent times, he has combined his travel with his love for cycling and photography to create beautiful content for his website and Instagram accounts that has lead to sponsorship with some of cycling's top brands including Shimano, Silca, Panaracer, Hexa helmets and Strava.  When not riding one of his factory issued Basso bikes and filming in some of our planet's most extraordinary places, he can be found bombing around his home town of Stoke Newington with his wife Carali on a pair of Quella Stealths.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is nashville2-3.jpgYOU HAVE POSTED SOME INCREDIBLE FOOTAGE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD, WHAT ARE THE STAND-OUT DESTINATIONS AND RIDES?

I’m spoilt with all the places I get to go to, but this year I’ve had two really standout sets of riding.

Oman, the Al Hajar mountains.

Having flown to Oman a few times, I’ve always gazed in awe at these mountains, and at the beginning of 2019 finally got to ride them. Imagine three days of gravel riding, where you’re in valleys where no-one goes. Trails and paths where maybe a goat herder goes once a week. Super remote and totally epic riding, in fact I’m going to say it’s the best riding I’ve ever done.

Santiago, Chile – Valle Nevado Climb

I’ve actually done this climb a few times, but this year I went to photograph it for Cyclist Magazine and MAAP. 56 switchbacks, 3 valleys and over 3000m of climbing to get to the Ski lodge at the top. For me, this is a world top 20 climb and nothing can prepare you for the views as you cycle in awe of the majesty of the Andes.

There are loads more photos from Oman and Santiago on my Instagram @danielhughesuk (plug!!)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is chile.jpgANY TALES OF ADVERSITY THAT YOU CARE TO SHARE?

How long have you got! I’ve had a fair few near death experiences, from a near head on collision flying with the air force (civilian aircraft busted military airspace and tried to land on the runway I was taking off on!), twisted lines around my feet parachuting where I had to cut away the main chute, plenty of interesting experiences with the SAS and of course I’ve scared the shit out of myself plenty of times on my bike. Worst? Actually a car which deliberately knocked me off my bike in California and left me for dead. Twat!

IS THERE ANYWHERE COMING UP THAT PARTICULARLY EXCITES YOU?

I’ve had an amazing run this year, from the rides above, cycling on the great wall of China, gravel in Morocco, riding in Rio De Janeiro and more. I try to do at least one “badass” adventure each month to share with my partners and my channels. Coming up I’ve got 5 days of riding from Munich to Feltre with Rad-race tour de friends with 500 hundred riders, where it's not a race but one massive party involving bikes, after ride parties and climbs like the Stelvio pass!  Definitely looking forward to that one! Also got a week of riding in the Pyrenees, mapping out unchartered gravel routes in September and more gravel in October in South Africa where I’m doing the worlds only 7 day gravel race as a rider / photographer for Hotchilee.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Alps-3-1.jpgHOW IS THE BUCKET LIST LOOKING?  ANY BIG CHALLENGES ON THE HORIZON?

I get asked that a lot…what’s next! And yeah for sure I’m always on the hunt for exciting things to do. I get excited and bored easily. I guess the gravel world champs in August, but other than that lots of mini adventures this year. Next year will be off the scale and have already mapped out most of it.

YOU RIDE A LOT OF GRAVEL AS WELL AS ROADS, WHY? WHAT'S THE ATTRACTION?  

Until 2017 I had never even heard of gravel riding, which I guess is like most people. It all started when I started flying out to Austin, Texas and met Colin Strickland who recently won Dirty Kanza. He is a beast of a rider, but our riding styles / way we train is very similar. Basically we like to do long rides where we bludgeon ourselves (290- 300w av for 100 miles), and the routes we’d do would involve plenty of gravel roads in and around the middle of nowhere.

It was this freedom and lack of cars which really appealed, it feels more dynamic and more adventurous than riding on paved roads. With a gravel bike you can ride pretty much anywhere, a swiss army tool of bikes.

From a racing point of view it really suits me also, I guess I’m a rouleur. I’m able to hold high levels of power for a long time, like a diesel motor, and that is definitely rewarded in gravel racing. The other rewards are that it's super chilled, but yet highly competitive nature. Dirty Kanza is littered with World Tour and Pro riders, but no-one is on rollers before the race. Most are enjoying a few beers the night before and everyone is there for a good time. But don’t get me wrong, as soon as you’re out of the neutralised area its full gas and most races the average speed is circa 20mph for 200 miles.

My racing? Well last year I served mainly as a domestique for Meteor Giordana, a Pinarello Factory team.  During that season, I was super happy (and I guess very proud) to win and set a course record on the South Downs Way race. Damn, that’s a hard course, both in terms of the surface and its challenging terrain and there’s a reason why people normally do it on mountain bikes. The surface is so brutal, your spine and body feels like it's about to snap. For sure, I took a lot of risks, and at times was going over 50mph on the grass and chalk descents but it was worth it to take the win!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is South_Africa-2.jpgIS A GRAVEL BIKE VERY DIFFERENT TO A ROAD BIKE?  WHAT ARE YOUR WEAPONS OF CHOICE?

Every manufacture builds their gravel bikes to handle different sized tyres, but everyone now is pretty much offering the same thing. Compared to a road bike, the differences are a longer wheel base for stability, more relaxed front tube for comfort and the ability to put large volume tyres.  You can even fit 47mm tyres on some models which is close to mountain bike tyre. The beauty about these bikes, is that if you have two sets of wheels you can have a pretty capable road bike with 28mm tyres and a gravel bike with 42mm tyres and flip-flop between the two in seconds. Genius!

What do I ride?  Well last year I was riding a Pinarello gravel bike, but have recently been sponsored by Basso, another Italian brand. I’ll be riding their Diamante SV road bike and their Palta gravel bike until the end of the season. Definitely excited about the partnership and hope to extend until the end of 2020. They join me with some other hitters such as Shimano Global, Silca, Panaracer, 100%, Strava and HEXR.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Stelvio_pass-2-1.jpgYOU WERE A SPONSORED RIDER FOR A WHILE, IS THE RACING CAREER OVER?

I really enjoyed my time racing with Meteor Giordana, and actually it was the other contracts that I was offered which meant I couldn’t race with them anymore. There’s nothing like pushing yourself to total destruction, hunting for the individual or team win.  However, the biggest gravel races are out in the USA (thousands and thousands of miles of gravel) and logistically that is tough. Over here in the UK there are gravel races, but when given the choice of doing a race compared with travelling to Girona or somewhere exotic for the week, I’m enjoying the adventurous riding more.

WE NOTICE YOU ARE A BIT OF A 'HILL HUNTER' - WITHOUT THE RACING, WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO PUSH YOURSELF SO HARD?

It is weird, I’ve actually turned into not a bad climber, I guess due to the fact most of the places I enjoy riding the most are lumpy / mountainous. In terms of pushing myself, I’ve always been able to do that. To take myself to a “special” place and totally destroy myself where after I’m physically sick. Is that healthy? Probably not! But I need it, much like I need carbs!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is great_wall-2.jpgWHAT CAME FIRST THE CAMERA OR THE BIKE?  DID YOU HAVE ANY PHOTOGRAPHIC TRAINING?

Hmmm good question! Well technically the bike as I’ve ridden bikes for as long as I can remember but, in terms of taking things seriously, I reckon the camera actually. I’ve always been snapping and been the photographer. I wish more of my mates would get into it, as they always get shots, and I don’t!  Formal training? No. All learned on the job so to speak.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Nashville.jpgHOW DOES THE 'SELF-PHOTOGRAPHY' PROCESS WORK WHEN YOU ARE RIDING ALONE?  WHAT KIT ARE YOU USING?  DO YOU WORK WITH OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS?

I get asked that a lot! I’m using a Sony A7 mk3 as my primary camera, and if I’m on my own I set it up to take timed shots. I do the same with a drone. 99% of the photos on my Instagram I’ve taken myself, and if not you’ll see a credit to the photographer.

It’s amazing what you can achieve on your own, and once you’ve done it enough you know what shots will work, and I can grab a shot in less than 5 minutes. It would however be pretty sweet to have someone with me all of the time, but then in many ways I’ll be doing myself out of a job, as I do a fair bit of rider / photographer work.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Rio_drone-3.jpgTHANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING.  AS A FINAL QUESTION, WHAT DOES DANIEL HUGHES DO ON HIS DAYS OFF OR ARE YOU TOOK KNACKERED?

Day off! I tell myself often, that I should chill more. Put my feet up and do nothing, but I get restless easily. You’ll be happy to hear this, but getting a Quella has been a total riot. I really enjoy nipping around London to go see my mates on it, and run it as a proper fixed gear. Already I’ve scared the crap out of myself with a nice pedal scrap and gone to answer my phone thinking I could relax my legs. Wrong! Fun times…

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is DSC00696-2.jpg

THE BRISTOL BIKE PROJECT I AWARD WINNING COMMUNITY PROJECT

Bristol Bike Project is in its 10th year, The Fix talks to Krysia Williams, Community Co-ordinator to find out more.

Happy birthday to the project!  Congratulations on your 10th anniversary, that's quite an achievement.  For those unfamiliar with BBP, can you explain how it all began and why? Thanks! Yes, we’re really proud to be celebrating our 10th year! BBP was born when two friends came back from a cycling trip in Norway with the idea to do combine their new-found love of bikes with a desire to do good in their community. Through volunteering with Bristol Refugee Rights (BRR), they’d come to know of the acute need for affordable transport among asylum seekers in Bristol, many of whom were struggling to get about the city to make important appointments. They put up some posters asking for unwanted bicycles, and within days were spannering away and rehoming those bicycles with people from BRR. The mound of donated bikes grew as quickly as the number of people knocking on our door needing a bike themselves, and before we knew it we were settling into the vibrant workshop in Hamilton House which we still call home today. Our friend James from Touchpaper Productions recently made a film to tell the story of our 10 year journey. It’s a lovely watch, for anyone interested!We hear you are in the 2019 Lonely Planet guide, what sort of experience are you offering a tourist who turns up with Lonely Planet in their back pocket? Indeed we are! It was a lovely surprise to get that Lonely Planet window sticker through the post! The Project has definitely become a bit of a meeting point in Bristol, so it’s amazing to get this recognition on a national scale. For anyone, tourists or otherwise, interested to know more about the Project, I’d say don’t just come down to have a look. The real experience is by coming along and getting stuck in. You could come and fix your own bike at one of our DIY workshops, sign up for a maintenance course, or volunteer at a session to help others get out on two wheels! We also offer tours to people who are setting up their own bike projects, and we’re really happy to share our learnings to get people started. How many staff and volunteers work at the Project now? We’re a pretty big community now... There’s around 16 employees, mostly part-time, including our shop mechanics, coordinators for our community programmes, and office staff who keep busy making sure everything is rolling smoothly behind the scenes. We also have around 150 volunteers who give a huge amount of time and energy to get bicycles ready for our community programmes. Most of our volunteers are keen to get their hands dirty in the workshop, but we also have some fantastic volunteer support in the office, helping the business of the Co-op tick over. Oh - and all our directors are volunteers as well!Where do staff typically come from?  Do you take them on as trained mechanics or are they learning on the job? Many of the mechanics, and office staff, who are now employed at the Project started out as volunteers. We’re really keen to support people who want to build their skills, and volunteering with us is a really great way to get that training. Many volunteers actually say how getting involved in the Project helped them to realise that they want to pursue a career as a bike mechanic and have gone on to get jobs either at the Project or other bike shops in Bristol. It’s amazing to see people develop in this way! We don’t offer any formal training or apprenticeship schemes at the moment, but it’s something we’re keen to look at in the future. Does a job at BBP tend to be a start point for people wanting to move onwards in the cycling industry, like an apprenticeship type model? Yes, a number of our volunteers have started out learning here, and have gone on to work in great independent bike shops in Bristol like Jakes Bikes, Bike Workshop, Roll Quick and Bool’s Bicycles. Some also get jobs with us, or learn elsewhere and then come to work for us. I think being mechanic here is quite different from other bike shops - you’re working not to make a profit for the business, but to support our community programmes which help people with less money get out on two wheels as well. We’re also a Co-op, so everyone - yes, even the mechanics! - get stuck in with the wider business of the Project, like designing our community programmes, training volunteers and providing general support to the wider BBP community. How is BBP funded, is it possible to generate any surplus with a model like this?  What happens to any profits? We fund ourselves for the most part through our busy bicycle shop, where we sell refurbished second-hand bikes, and do all the usual bike shop stuff like repairs and services. It’s always been the priority to make our own money where possible, so that we’re resilient and not reliant on grants. We also get some grant money and have a successful Earn-a-Bike Supporters’ Scheme - we’re really grateful for all the donors, funders and customers who support us, ensuring we can continue to be here for our community. We’re a Community Interest Community, so all our profits are reinvested in our community programmes. We are able to generate surplus, which is really important in safeguarding the Project against any big expenses things that might come up - like our move this year! We understand a move is on the cards, for any potential landlords out there, maybe you could tell us what you are looking for? Yes, we’re really sad to be leaving our lovely home at Hamilton House, but the time has come to move onto pastures new. We are looking for suitable spaces anywhere in Bristol - somewhere accessible, reasonably central and affordable. To give you an idea on size, we currently have about 1500 sq ft inside for our shop and community workshop, and a further 900 sq ft externally for bike storage. We’d love to find a bigger space if we can, but we’re flexible and willing to be creative! We don’t have a clear idea of when our landlords want us out, but it could be as soon as February 2019 so we are looking for somewhere as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition.We know your efforts have been recognised with a few awards over the years but we understand that 2018 landed a biggie with the National Community Group Award - tell us more. We were pretty thrilled when one of our former Earn-a-Bikers, Essam - popped in a few months back to tell us he’d nominated us for MTM’s community group award, which celebrates the the excellence & achievements of Asian, Black & Ethnic Minorities. We were even more thrilled when we were announced as the winners! There’s so many organisations doing such wonderful work in Bristol, so it’s a real honour to be named for an award like this!    

Quella rides Critical Mass

Critical mass is often described as an ‘unorganised coincidence’. It happens when cyclists congregate in the same place at the same time and decide to cycle the same way together for a while. A social gathering to meet people and share stories from everyday life.  On occasions, it offers individuals the platform to demonstrate more concerning issues in society, albeit of an unorganised nature. Onlookers can do nothing but wait patiently until the procession of riders has meandered leisurely on through, and for a brief moment in time cyclists claim ownership of the streets beneath their wheels.  

On the last Friday of every month riders from all walks of life converge under Waterloo Bridge in Central London.  

Critical Mass has a global presence.  It is said to have officially gained recognition back in in San Francisco in 1992 and has since gained momentum to an ‘unorganised’ event panning over 300 countries worldwide. The UK summer of 2018 has been hot.  The blistering heat at times has been intense and prolonged, however in true English fashion when the day of the Critical Mass came in July the heavens truly opened. On our way to the gathering, we met up with Matt Derrick friend of Quella Bicycle and owner of clothing brand in the making Paloma Fixie.  Matt joined us from Farringdon Tube station as we headed over to Waterloo Bridge. The weather was changeable, and without notice we faced a downpour supported by huge lightning bolts that proceeded to lighten up the dark skies as we flew fixie style weaving in and out of the traffic in true alleycat fashion. Still pouring with rain we were drenched to the bone upon arrival at the arches, yet the community vibe that we approached could be seen humming with warmth in the distance.  It was an exciting feeling to see so many congregating under the shadows of Waterloo Bridge; the place was a buzz to the eclectic mixture of folk meeting and greeting one another. People from all walks of life talked in conversation whilst perched proudly next to their carrying modes of cycling transport whether Fixie, MTB, Road ….. All styles were present even the odd ‘Boris’ thrown into the mix. Right on cue, the rain eased off, the sun poked its face through the parting clouds and the uplift in vibe changed as hundreds of bell’s rang out an unorchestrated high-pitch melody.  It was time to head-off as we happily bumped shoulders with others eager to grasp our space and join the moving procession seeking to commence. Our mass exodus flowed through London, a wave of cyclists that stopped all in their tracks passing landmark after landmark.  For a brief moment traffic came to a standstill as without authority parts of the mass broke off and became stewards, planting their roots at junctions preventing the automobile industry from taking ownership of the tarmac that lay before them. A sense of camaraderie filled the group, the feeling of power to take over and ride the streets of London with no worries about oncoming traffic, a feeling of real exhilaration flowed within. Everyday, all over the world, people are resisting the problem culture of the car by getting on their bikes and riding, instead of driving. Critical Mass is a celebration of the alternatives to cars, pollution, accidents and the loss of public spaces and freedoms. Not an organisation or group, but an idea or tactic, Critical Mass allows people to reclaim cities with their bikes, just by getting together and outnumbering the cars on the road. Every Critical Mass ride is different.  With no set route, the direction is chosen spontaneously as people freely cycle along. Everyone is welcome and free to join or leave the ride as it pedals along. The ride lasts no more than a couple of hours (depending on the weather!) and usually ends in a conveniently placed watering hole, where refreshments are best served by the pint. Whether in London, San Francisco or Tokyo take part.  Most of all, they are peaceful, safe and fun! [gallery size="full" ids="5291,5292,5294,5295,5297,5298,5288,5289,5290"]

Elliot Jones | A Photographer on a fixie

'This is my bicycle, there are many like it, but this one is MINE' is a sentiment most cyclists are familiar with; your bike is precious and personal, a friend as much as a possession.  Like a lover, it might have 'issues'; a cranky personality, the occasional breakdown, and the ability to puncture your emotions from time to time.  However, together you make a beautiful partnership without the complications of bad sex and arguments about whose turn it is to take the bins out.

Anyone who has owned a bike will know the pain felt when some undeserving, low-life swipes it whilst resting and vulnerable.  It is inconvenient, expensive and annoying - really, really annoying.  

Elliot Jones, a 22-year-old photographer and content manager at website basementapproved.com, had owned his Quella Nero fixie for precisely 489 days.  It had whizzed him across London from Tufnell Park to Shoreditch hundreds of times, always beating the traffic and the tube.  Sure, it had thrown him a couple of punctures, one of them in the pouring rain, and it lost its chain bouncing out of one of London's 'infinite' potholes, but it was a good'un - extremely good looking, low maintenance, reliable and steady.  So, when he emerged from the pub after a quick post-work sharpener to find what little remained of his lock lying on the floor, he was very, very hacked off.  He had lost his loved one to a thief.

Luckily, Elliot is a resourceful fellow and a talented photographer, so when he was told a couple of days later that his insurance company wouldn't pay out – because the bike hadn't been locked in his garage – he came up with a plan.  THE PHONE RANG AT QUELLA and Elliot pitched his intent “What if I provide some great photos of your new Varsity range and we work together on some Fixie art prints for the website, could we have a deal on a bike?'. A new partnership was born.

A brand-new chrome finished Varsity Imperial was dispatched and it was time to 'move on'.  The old Nero had been great, but the Varsity was a step up. In Elliot’s words;  'This bike really is the business, I love riding it and the chrome frame gets comments every day.  I am chuffed to be working with a brand like Quella on an on-going basis, and, as well as the general photography, we are going to partner on some limited edition, 'fixie themed', urban art prints, which is a really exciting project.  Getting my bike nicked was a massive pain but every cloud...'   

It all sounds like a happy ending, but if you are the grubby 'tea-leaf' that nicked a Quella Nero from outside The Prince Arthur, be very careful you don't get spotted riding it around anywhere near Elliot Jones.  We have met him, he is a big lad who's definitely been around the block, I wouldn't fancy your chances.

 Elliot's work can be seen at www.quellabicycle.com and on his own website www.photojones.co.uk.

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2 Wheel Gear | The brand that bikes to work

2 Wheel Gear was founded in Calgary, Canada with product manufactured using a borrowed sewing machine.  18 years later the brand is selling successfully throughout North America and has just landed in the UK for the first time as part of a partnership with Quella.  The Fix finds out more:

Reid, thanks for talking to us, firstly tell us how a bike luggage brand from British Columbia ended up working with a UK fixie brand? ‘A good buddy of mine, Chris Ford, who is heavily involved in the Whistler mountain bike scene introduced me to Mike from Quella, having met him on a recent cat-skiing trip in Canada.  We hit it off straight away and it was clear we had much in common, with a very similar ethos and a shared passion for cycling.  Quella will make a perfect partner to support our entry into the UK and European market.

Tell us a bit about 2 Wheel Gear’s background?

The founder, Craig Coulombe worked in downtown Calgary as a geophysicist. His daily attire would typically include a starched white dress shirt and smart pants to the office but got fed up of pulling out a wrinkled set in the locker room following his morning trip to work. Ahead of the trend, Craig would regularly cycle to work, however, there were very few options to transport clothes. Backpacks made his back sweat and were uncomfortable. Panniers at that time were nothing more than open sacks for dumping everything in one place. He decided to make his own way. The first step was asking his mother-in-law if he could borrow her sewing machine!

What was the first product?

In 1999, a very rough looking Classic Bike Suit Bag was born, and It was the first garment bag that kept clothes pressed on their hangers and strapped to the bike rack. Craig knew he had created a new way to bike commute and teamed up with longtime University pal, Ken MacLean to start selling the bags. For years, the Classic was sewn one by one in Calgary and assembled with hand rivets to order.

 When did you join the party?

I was brought in by the guys to manage the business in 2010 as a fresh-faced business graduate. I strongly believed in the movement that Ken and Craig had started and felt both the product and brand had a much greater market appeal than its current audience. It was quite low-key to start with, working mainly from my basement on the side of a full-time career.  In the early days, a local delivery normally involved me taking an extra suit bag on my commute for delivery on my lunch-break.

When did things start to get serious?

We all agreed the business had great potential from day 1 but required a full-time commitment to be successful. In 2012, using my life savings, I purchased the company outright from Ken and Craig. It was tough to start with but in 2014 we had really broken into the North American market which is when I moved up to Vancouver.

 In 2015, Two Wheel Gear started working with MEC, Canada’s largest and most trusted retailer of outdoor and cycling products. The focus is to create the very best bags in the world for professional business commuters and to keep pushing boundaries with bike commuting gear. Our focus is straightforward and simple. We want to make it extremely easy to bike to work.

We love some of the imagery and video you guys have done, how did that come about?

“What do you have there?” Was a common question at 7:30 am while changing in the men’s locker room in my corporate days.

Half or fully naked 40 somethings would always be asking me about my bike bag while towelling off in the men’s change room.  I would be pulling my suit out of my Classic Garment Pannier and the bike commuters at the company had never seen anything like it before.  I would often go into a full product demo while keeping my eyes up at shoulder height. These moments were the inspiration for our ‘locker room’ comedy footage that everyone loves.

We wanted a strong brand and knew that we wouldn’t create an impact unless the imagery was unique, and our videos generated attention. Our vision was to mix both style and humour across our social media platforms. We have created some great practical photography and video to help explain the product. They both work in different ways.

 

 

Finally, how do you see things developing in the UK?

I know that Quella work with some great distributors and they will use those contacts to give the product exposure through retail channels, as well as marketing the range on their website.  A Quella bike with a 2 Wheel Gear garment pannier must be the perfect commuter combo!  We aren’t expecting miracles, but we truly believe that the product is well-suited to the UK, particularly in the larger cities.  If people are worried about the weather, you need to remember that we launched this product on the North-Pacific Coast of Western Canada, no one gets more rain than us!

Thanks Reid – we look forward to seeing you for a few beers in the UK soon.

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The Eroica Festival

L’Eroica is held on the Strade Bianche (white roads) of Tuscany. The term meaning heroism dates back to a bygone era when competitive riders would battle the elements on brutal cobbled surfaces compelling them to an iconic ‘god-like’ status. We talk to Gian Bohan, the founder of the Eroica festival in the UK, about this growing movement and his inspiration for creating an annual celebration of its existence within the heart of the Derbyshire countryside.

How long have you been involved in Eroica Britannia? 

We are now in our 5th year of EB and I have been involved from the beginning. It was just an idea over a beer after having completed the Eroica event in Italy back in 2012. How was it and what made it so memorable? The Eroica event was totally different from anything else we had experienced in cycling. It was tough 220 km route which takes over 12 hours, on pre-1987 bicycles taking in the Strade Bianchi of Tuscany. There were food stops along the way, laden with local procure; cheeses, salamis, local soups and even the odd drop of wine. Not a gel in sight. Everyone had gone to such effort in their attire, not to mention the artistry in their facial grooming and of course there were some amazing bikes. The stars aligned and after a few years of doing the Italian event, we thought how incredible it would be if we could replicate such in the UK. How did you decide on a location? Our cycling backyard is the Peak District with our own version of the Strade Bianci, the old Monsal trail, High peak trails and amazing quaint villages. So the idea was born of Eroica Britannia. The villages and community welcomed the event as it was so different from the normal sportive of everyone racing through incredible scenery but not taking the time to enjoy and appreciate it. Were you always interested in cycling heritage?  Or, simply attracted by the opportunity to wear woollen shorts and grow a stylish moustache? I was always attracted to having an adventure and an endeavour on a bike. When you add in being able to don a great outfit and drink Chianti and Beer, the battle of cycling on uneven, cobbled surfaces with unpadded attire becomes less daunting and frankly more enjoyable. My road into the cycling bug came from doing the Dallioglio Cycle slam for a few years riding around Europe for a few weeks. The odd drop of beer also passed our lips as you can imagine. Tell us about your bike?   My collection continues to grow however my heart sways to an old rare Red Bianchi from Italy. I have to admit I’m not a tech geek, I just love my aesthetics and getting out where ever I lay my hat. We noticed a number of Italian 'Eroicans' took part in the Paris-Roubaix when our Quella ambassador, the parathlete Garrett Turbett completed the sportive recently. They were riding old, heavy single speed bikes from the 20's and 30's which was impressive.  Is this common?   You will see Eroican’s popping up to events all over the world. They’re an enthusiastic bunch of Italians and are unmissable due to their great retro kit, accessories and classic bikes. What is a typical Eroica bike? It has to be pre-1987, with gear levels on the down tube, no toe clips and brake cables arching gracefully over the handlebars. Riding an old bike is a whole new experience, add the gravel roads with a few lumps and bumps and it can get exhilarating.  What can visitors to Eroica Britannia expect? When we were in concept stage we visited the Goodwood Revival and quickly thought let’s make EB the Goodwood of the biking world and created a 3-day festival. We’ve included Family rides, The Twilight ride – where there is a ride to the pub – and a plethora of music, entertainers, merchandise, food stalls, bike brands and we have even created our own Pub on site, The Britannia Arms! Is it just for serious cyclists? The great thing about EB is that it appeals to all generations. From cycling fanatics who want a real test and to experience the beauty of fatigue with the 100-mile route, to those who have only recently sat on a bike. Those wishing to have a more relaxed and indulgent affair can simply kick back and enjoy the vintage atmosphere.