Hark rumour outcast ghetto track,

Wood clack, rattle, quivering slat.

Orbicular ghost pedal whirrs,

Summon memory of victory cheers.

Crooked curtsy to spruce sentinel,

Abrupt celebratory firework crack,

Soft snowy silence answers offence,

Whilst night threatens overpowering pretence.

Unknown footsteps snap awake

Winter’s white recumbent state.

Stilted parapet truss ascends,

Adhering track slopes and bends.

Adoring homage to veteran majors,

Encompass curving circuit stage,

Distant races conquered, played.

Arresting ingress hinged by rubber,

Intersected ambitious artery inner.

Past summers linger on, browned,

Intruding shoots reclaiming land.

Nature’s seasoned right of way,

Moves forth over abandoned ground.

Lonely in wild December wood,

Forlorn cyclist forgotten, stands.

Ghettodrome is the result of a little side project I did whilst on residency at Arteles, Finland. The derelict velodrome in Tampere was mentioned by an artist I met and I went to check it out. The continual rain we are having here in Cardiff is a reminder of the enduring Finnish winters. This, and a feeling of isolation in the wilds inspired the poem.


Jacob Stead

Jacob Stead

A super talented illustrator originally from Bradford and living in Bristol is making up some visual treats for the art.spoke.soul. trail at Cardiff Cycle Festival this June. Jacob graduated from the University of West England with a first class honours in 2011. One year on and Jacob has illustrations in Boneshaker (above illustration), Wired, Oh Comely, and Radio Times.

Jacob finds Bristol an easy city to get about by bicycle and makes the most of good weather by taking the 13 mile off road route out of his metropolis to Bath on the connecting Railway Path. I certainly think I’ll give this a go when the rain lets up! For now as we’re stuck in an endless Winter, I’m writing something inspired by my December Scandanavian experience.

Find more of our gentleman’s illustrations here: Jacob Stead

The Trick Cyclist

Two wheel tricks have been performed since the birth of the bicycle. The first trick was filmed in 1899 by Thomas Edison.

This style of riding is the origin of BMX and we have recently seen a revival of fixed gear tricks. It is likely the unicycle evolved from the penny farthing once the rear wheel was dispenced and riders experimented with how better to balcance over the front wheel, preventing unexpected deathly dismounts.

Joe Jackson from Vienna was one of the first cycling clowns and was on the world champion bicycle polo team before adopting his white faced veneer in the 20th century. Photographer and performer Mark Robson will be exhibiting some shots of the Parklife show by NoFit State Circus in the art.spoke.soul. event at Cardiff Cycle Festival this year. Bicycles and unicycles were used in the show and some community participatory events because they are part and parcel of outdoor park life. A bicycle track functioned as a stage for the main event held across a number of UK parks. A group of BMXers in Brighton were convinced into trying out the track and impressed onlookers with their riding around the circular stage.

Unicyclist Malte Knapp has a staggering repertoire of balancing acts shown here in Sweden.


Road Rage

The automobile, once a portrait of freedom and independence, has since had its benefits outweighed by congested traffic. The term ‘road rage’ was coined by psychologist Dr David Lewis in 1985. This state of anxiety is something that affects 1 in 3 motorists. Driving is one of the most highly dramatic activities we hazard ourselves in regularly. The series of events and incidents such as changing lights, lane changes and near collisions require concentration, are sometimes frustrating, and often formidable.

The expectation of freedom only leads to frustration when drivers are held back from their destination by other motorists undertaking privileged journeys to fulfill their needs. Predictability and unpredictablity are conflicting structural elements of driving; a steady speed in one lane is safe and secure, whereas a sudden manoeuvre not signaled creates danger, stress and risk of an accident.

A large amount of frustration when driving is immobility and constriction, whether it be caused by roadworks, congestion, speed limits or traffic lights. Drivers feel like they are wasting their time simply ‘sitting there’. You cannot perform other tasks whilst behind the wheel, whereas a journey taken by foot or bicycle includes excersise, relaxation and a chance of social encounter, without being held up.

I sold my car a year ago with the commitment of using only sustainable transport methods or lift-shares. Agreed there are some restrictions, such as not being able to simply down tools and get to the waves when the swell is kicking off. But on the other hand, I have made friends through sharing lifts to the beach, have slept on the beach, and risen at dawn to hit the beach. Surfing has since become more of a social activity for me. I feel more freedom now than ever before. This is because of the limiting factors of driving such as regulations, loss of control and expense.

Whilst cycling, I am avoiding the hostility of drivers (I can ignore it more easily because I’m having fun), the defensiveness and territorial behaviour. I can predict exactly how long it takes to get from A to B and the chances of a disaster or break down en route are very slim. This avoids the stress of an unpredictable journey and the usual delays encountered. Cycling in heavy traffic is the faster option; a journey of 10 minutes on the bike can take 30 minutes in a car. There is always an alternative route to get to your destination than driving and is nearly always more enjoyable. If not; how much do you really want or need to get there?

Full of Facts

Daniel Ulf-Hansen’s cycling infographics yelled at me from the walls of Sho Gallery during the 2011 Cardiff Design Festival. It was actually his work that inspired me to create the art.spoke.soul event this summer. I jotted his name down and got in touch with him inviting him to participate in making some work for this year’s Cardiff Cycle Festival.

Dan’s currently studying graphic communication at Cardiff Metropoliton University. His portfolio ranges from branding and typography to animation. He has a penchant for vintage rides having restored a 1980’s Peugeot and has landed a summer project to restore his 1960’s police bicycle.

Daniel Ulf-Hansen

c.Daniel Ulf-Hansen

Along The Wye And Hay Bluff

Following the River Wye from Monmouth to Hay-On-Wye, the road climbed gently for 7 miles to Coleford before turning off towards Lydbrook. Lydbrook is a charming little town with lots of history, nestled down on the banks of the Wye. From there, I skirted past Kern Bridge to Ross-On-Wye and found some scenic lanes to Hereford that ran directly adjacent to the river, although slow going, a little rough, and hilly.

From Hereford to Hay, approaching half way was the most gruelling part of the ride. Facing a fair headwind with nearly empty energy levels, I couldn’t wait to reach The Town of Books for a gooey chocolate brownie and mocha. Despite the damp weather, crowds of literary folk were out and about, giving the town its unique atmosphere. I couldn’t help but be slighty anxious about whether or not my tired legs would carry me out of Hay-On-Wye and up the 2000 ft Hay Bluff climb. But they hadn’t failed me yet and reaching the dramatic peaks still capped with snow, I had more energy than the start of my ride. Nothing like a mountain to lift ones spirits.

From there on was a long descent along the single track lane through Capel-Y-Ffin and down past Llantony Priory. This was Rob Penn country and I enjoyed every second of it, feeling very surreal about having reached the Black Mountains since cycling in the Forest of Dean just hours earlier. I couldn’t believe how far my own legs and determination had carried me. People often ask me; ‘Why do I want to cycle for so long?’ and ‘What do I think about whilst out on the bike for 7 hours?’. I set out on this ride with the idea of knowing my land. The Wye Valley and Monmouth is my home and I wanted to hug the river from there to Hay, discovering its meandering bends and over looked, under treasured view points. That day, lacking any company, the river felt like a friend. Also, I’m sure 80 per cent of my cycling pleasure comes from the mountains. They simply fuel a desire in me and it’s mostly the environment in which I ride I am thinking of; taking in all its beauty, feeling its currents, sighs and moans, sharing its Spring revelry and fresh winds. I appreciate it and feel a sense of stewardship; it belongs to all of us and is there to be loved. A day spent out on the bike is heaven to me.

Leaving the mountains behind, I was homeward bound passing through Abergavenny and taking the old road back to Monmouth where a steaming bath would be waiting for me. I’m beginning to think it’s not all about the bike Mr.Penn; it’s all about the mountains.

Your Local Bike Store: Reg Braddick Cycles

I’ve previously had some unsatisfactory experiences of customer service from some of the larger cycle chain stores where rushed sales staff offer inadequate advice and after sales service. I felt it wasn’t personal. Buying your trusty steed should be an enjoyable episode and the first step to a happy relationship with your two wheels. This week, I caught up with Suzy at Reg Braddick Cycles with the intent of familiarizing myself with my local bicycle stores.

With 65 years in the business, Reg Braddick Cycles have a wealth of knowledge to offer about bicycles and cycling in and around Cardiff. The running of the business was passed from father to son and granddaughter; originally started by Reg, a competitive cyclist and butcher’s delivery boy who participated in an olympic time trial and the Empire Games in Sydney.

Reg Braddick cover all disciplines of cycling and have noticed that riders today are enjoying a varied range of riding, often a road and mountain biking combination. It seems like ‘one for every occasion’ is the new way to stock your shed. There has been a recent increase in cycle use as transport and the shop stocks a range of town and electric bikes; a great way into cycle commuting, giving the confidence to build fitness with an extra kick up the hills where necessary or to speed you along to that post-work cuppa.

Suzy’s advice to someone beginning cycling is “Make it easy for yourself. Get a good quality bike that is efficient and a pleasure to ride”. Like your friends, choose your bike wisely and it will serve you well. If you are considering making a new purchase, your local bike store is a great place to seek some advice. Think about what you want to get from a bike and the staff will understand your needs, offering the best advice for you.

The workshop offers servicing, repairs, rebuilds, wheel truing and wheel builds. There is no need to book, simply take your bike in. An after service is provided within four weeks of all bike sales for readjustments. Reg Braddick also have an online notice board where riders are offered free advertisement of their bikes for sale. The cycle community is at the heart of Reg Braddick and Suzy is keen to get riders to ‘buddy up’ and share their experiences, whether it is trying a new route or helping a novice rider begin cycling on roads. You can find this information on their website: Reg Braddick Cycles. Be a part of the hub and find Reg Braddick on Facebook.

Reg Braddick Cycles 63 Р65 Broadway Roath Cardiff CF24 1XJ Tel: 029 2049 0137