Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Arrigut, Shipleh, Saltaire, Otleh, Adel n' Leeds


After flying my bike from Dublin to Leeds resulted in a cut tyre, torn tube, dented wheel rim and twisted brake calipers, I decided I wasn't going to risk flying my bike over again any time soon.
This meant, as the opening cry of happiness stated - BIKE SHOPPING!!!

There are millions of bike shops near where we live.
Harrogate (well Starbeck actually) is the home of Spa Cycles, a Mecca for touring/ audax cyclists, and as much as I'd love a Spa bike, these bikes are works of art, works of art which I can only afford to stand next to in the shop, pull the break levers and squeeze the tyres.

There's a few other places in Harrogate, including a Specialized 'concept' store, but again too pricey, unless I was willing to buy a triple - which I wasn't.
Can't understand why anyone would want a triple, all those gears - never being able to find the gear you want - no, not for me.
A Compact, 20 speed, 52cm aluminum frame with carbon forks and ideally a wsd (women specific design) with the smaller handlebars already fitted - that's what I wanted, in the most basic (read cheapest) form.
No flowers, no pink, no swirls - ideally black everything.

I headed off to Shipley calling into the legendary Ellis Briggs.
Eyed up some of their beautiful handmade Ellis Briggs bikes, but again, out of my price range.
I shuffled over to the cheaper 'factory made in Taiwan' section, looked at the Giants, but still couldn't really see anything.
John Briggs came over to chat and was very helpful, offered to order in a Giant Avail 3 or 5, but I wanted to buy there and then, so I left and headed down the road to 'All Terrain' in Saltaire.

The All Terrain bike shop doesn't have any of the history of Ellis Briggs, but wow, does a visit to this shop hit you with history!
It's the surroundings of the shop that ooze history and cry out for a TV mini series to be filmed there and shown of a Sunday evening.
Saltaire in itself is a World Heritage Site, due largely to the huge textile mills and houses built by Titus Salt in the mid 1800's. The mills were built on the edge of the River Aire, so Salt + Aire = Saltaire.
All textile weaving stopped in 1972 and the buildings fell into disrepair.
In 1986 an investor took interest, poured a whole load of money into regenerating the mills and the buildings sprang back to life.
The mills now house a visitor centre, cafes, shops and an art gallery, including an exhibition of works by Bradford born David Hockney.

In one of the out buildings there's a bike shop, a biiig bike shop which has a good amount of wsd road bikes.
If you're ever in All Terrain and need some help, look for a man with glasses on his head called Alan.
Think a cross between the guy who always says 'cheap as chips' and Michael O'Leary.
Alan must have taken every bike down so I could stand over them to check frame sizes. For about an hour I tried different bikes and not once was there any pressure to buy, any impatience, he was just there to help me find a bike that suited me.
In heaven, every bike shop will have an Alan.
But no matter how many bikes I stood over and pedaled backwards, it wasn't happening for me in Saltaire, and me and Alan had to admit defeat.

I left the shop, crossed the road, bought a pasty from the bakery, ate it, watched the crumbs going all over mum's clean car, and drove over to Chevin Cycles in Otley.

I must have been in Chevin Cycles a hundred times toying with the idea of buying a bike, they had a Lexa I nearly bought a few times, but something always stopped me.
And here I was again, stood in the same spot, looking at the same Lexa.
The owner looked over at me.

'Were you in about January time?'
'Looking at the same bike'?
'Why don't you just buy it'?
'Have you got it in a 52'?
'I don't think so no, think there's more due in next week'.
So I left, without buying the Lexa - again.

It was nearing the end of the day, I drove over to my last option: Crosstrax in Adel, Leeds.
When I got there, it seemed like it was women's day in there.
Crosstrax is a small shop, so to have 6 women in there was pretty cool.
Three seemed to be having a meeting, one was getting her bike fixed and one was in having a chat with Matt.
Matt saw me and remembered me from when I called into them over Summer with my bust tyre.
Matt will also work in Heaven's bike shop, he loves his bikes and he's genuinely very helpful.
We chatted about what I wanted from a bike and I stood over a L'appiere and went out for a mini cycle up the road, but it wasn't easy to tell if I'd be able to do a 100km comfortably from a 3 minute spin.
I asked him if he could just order me in a Scott seeing as they used to sell them and I knew that would definitely fit me, he said they couldn't, but JD Cycles over in Ilkley stocked them and if I didn't break too many speed limits I'd make it over before they closed at 5pm.

In the car again, now heading over to Ilkley I mentally decided that if they had a Scott, the same as the one I had in Dublin, despite the increase in price, I'd just buy it.

I asked several people in Ilkley if they knew where JD Cycles was, but Ilkley's so full of tourists no-one knew. Eventually an Australian gave me directions and there it was, hidden away down a back street in a residential area.
I stepped into the shop and one of the owners, Jamie (who could also join the Dream team with Alan and Matt), showed me upstairs to the Scotts.
I described the kind of bike I wanted and Jamie showed me what they had, unfortunately the only 52 frames in my price range, and even stepping up a couple of hundred pounds, were all triples.
So that was that.

My sister called me wanting to be collected from Harrogate, so I drove over thinking about my day.
No bike, but I'd spent the whole day in bike shops, in some the most scenic places you could imagine, and been helped by some really genuine, nice guys.
I usually hate shopping, today was different.

Ellis Briggs Cycles - still making their own steel bikes in the traditional way. You could buy a bike from Ellis Briggs and cycle it along that canal way to Liverpool, seriously - you could, that path goes the whole way.

Ellis Briggs Cycles, Shipley, West Yorkshire.

Ellis Briggs 'Super Tourist'

John Briggs, brother of Paul Briggs, son of Jack Briggs, grandson of Thomas Briggs (co-founder).
Steps going down to the Mills
The All Terrain bike shop is in the building under that big chimney

Main Entrance into Salts Mills

All Terrain Bike Shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire
1855 Gallery/ David Hockney exhibition

Salts Diner

Bookshop in Salts Mill

Exhibition of 'Rockstars in Yorkshire' Sandie Shaw

How the buildings would all be if it wasn't for the funding.

The Brilliant Crosstrax in Adel, Leeds.
Matt and the L'appiere I was trying. I think he said that woman (Helen) is a famous cyclist.
Women's day in Crosstrax.
JD Cycles in Ilkley

A few Scotts, but none in my size, or in my price range

Great idea, bike wash station at JD Cycles, Ilkley
My day trying to find a bike I wanted, at a price I could afford - summed up by that umbrella.