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The Copenhagen Cycle Chic blog is a superb resource for the style-starved cyclist, (particularly , like me, you’re in the UK) offering a refreshing respite from the gear-headed lycra brigade. It’s a photoblog recording people just riding bikes in their normal clothes, suits, jeans, skirts, high-heels… not all at once I hasten to add, and looking fabulous. The blog is based in Copenhagen, but sometimes there are offerings from other cities around the world. Read and enjoy.
Had a meeting with Colin French of The Warminster Cycle Group yesterday to discuss a summer bike event for 2009. Colin and the Warminster Cycle Group are planning a bike day on Sunday 14th June in Warminster, Wiltshire to promote and celebrate cycling. It’s early days yet, but it promises to be a great event with something for everyone, from BMX displays to maintenance advice and riding masterclasses. There’ll be food, a cycle tour, trade stands, kids events and plenty of competitions and workshops. It’s going to be fantastic.
The event is called the Warminster Wobble and you’ll be hearing a lot more about it over the coming weeks and months. Keep that date in your diary free and stay tuned.
Oh look, a rough poster I put together just for this post.
Congratulations to Tom Stubbs and Michael Smith, directors and subjects of the film Light and Dark which I blogged about here and here in connection with another film ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (on bicycle)’. They won the Current TV Best Documentary Award at the Night of the Living Docs event in London. They came away with a rather splendid trophy and a grant to make another film. Both directors had no idea they were in with a chance of winning and were by all accounts suitably gobsmacked when receiving the award.
Light and Dark is a phantasmagorial autobiographic film exploring the minds of Michael Smith and Tom Stubbs, both have alter-egos, but whereas Michael’s Alter-ego is a muscled anthromorphic fox with a taste for sex, dark humour and violence, Tom’s Alter-ego is an earnest, technology obsessed video engineer.
It’s the contrast between the two alter-egos that really makes the film, with Tom’s alter-ego (mustacheoed video engineer Graham Lightside) ultimately presented in a similar heroic framework to Michael’s Dark Fox. Graham Lightside is Tom’s reaction to the overblown technology obsessed male who one meets in the media world. I remember Tom and I seeing documentary photography students at our college wearing military commando vests and SWAT team boots as they photographed old ladies in the streets of Newport, South Wales, we would surmise that in their heads they imagined themselves on the streets of then wartorn Sarajevo. There’s a lovely shot of Graham exclaming “It’s render time!” in a low voice as he clicks a button on his mouse, Cue diving electronic tone and close up of the timebar on his mac.
Michael’s alter-ego, the Dark Fox, is perhaps an outlet for his frustrations as a young man who is somewhere on the Autistic spectrum. Creativity is bursting out of him in the form of his artwork and the attendent stories his characters live through, his humour is dark and unconventional, even socially unaccceptable (we see him delight in the reactions of his youth worker to his artwork), yet he and Tom’s alter-egos have more in common that you might think.
Through a combination of animation and live action, talking heads, documentary footage, the film-making process laid bare, costumes and even a song at the end, the two directors talk about, and act out their alter-egos. All within the space of ten minutes.
I’ve also seen some wonderful extra footage of Tom explaining his teenage artwork to Michael, which I hope will one day be included in an extended edition or something.
Here they are with the award in London.
And here is a piece of video I shot of Tom’s band My Two Toms performing on stage after the showing of Rime of the Ancient Mariner (on Bicycle) and Light and Dark at the Cube Cinema in Bristol (October 17th 2008). They are joined by Michael Smith, who is drawing on acetate and projecting the results onto a screen as the music plays. The camera was my old Kodak compact digital, very poor quality, bad focus and noisy mechanism. The quality of filming is not helped by the laughter of the audience in the immediate vicinity. The camera went the way of all circuits later on in the evening when I dropped it on Tom’s kitchen floor whilst trying to take a pic of his household bicycles. Without any further ado, I give you a very poor quality film of My Two Toms Vs Michael Smith. If you can’t read what Michael has written on the acetate due to the poor focus of my camera, leave a comment and I’ll give you a transcription.
If you’re interested in seeing Light and Dark by Tom Stubbs and Michael Smith (and I really recommend you do, it’s funny, moving, funny, beautifully made, inspiring, funny and did I mention that it’s funny?) it’s exactly 10 minutes long and I believe DVDs may be available at an extremely reasonable price. Leave a comment expressing your interest and I’ll get details from Tom.
For more on what Tom does, go to http://www.biggerhouse.co.uk which is the artists collective he works with.
Thanks to Novemberfive for the pointer on this one. Words fail me when confronted with the ingenuity of the people who set this up and created it. They’ve recreated the world of guitar hero – the little dots and on screen instructions and the scores and milestones, and applied it to a bike ride. The timing is perfect, but the set up to achieve it must have been incredible to organise. Even if this does turn out to be a viral marketing film (which wouldn’t surprise me) it’s still a fabulous piece of work and obsession. Hats off to the creators, whether they be an ad agency or a genuine group of Guitar Hero fans.
Way way back in October I rode to Bristol for a great evenings entertainment courtesy of the Cube Cinema and my chum Tom Stubbs. I advertised the Rime of the Ancient Mariner (on bicycle) event a while back, but I didn’t mention that I was going to cycle there. I thought it would be poetic to arrive at a showing of a bicycle film by bike. Having set off a little later than planned, I realised that I would have to cycle considerably quickly to get to Bristol on time. Not a problem, despite barely cycling at all recently, I made good time on the road between the village and Bradford on Avon, before turning onto the canal path. It’s difficult to get speed up on the towpath, not least because of the danger to pedestrians, other cyclists and wildlife. There’s no reason to go fast on a towpath anyway and I knew I could make time up on the Bath/Bristol cycle path, so I just spun the cranks at a nice even pace and enjoyed the ride. Particularly pleasing was the scent of woodsmoke from the various barges and narrowboats. I was on the Lemond Etape, which provided a none too smooth ride over the various surfaces, cobbles, gravel, dirt, broken tarmac. Suffice to say that on arrival in Bath town centre I was wishing I’d decided to wear padded shorts. I had a change of clothes in my panniers (and a change of shoes), but had elected to leave the padding at home. Bath town centre proved easy to navigate, mainly because the cycle route is so clearly and regularly signposted. Quicker than I expected I was riding along the smooth tarmac of the Bristol to Path cycle way. For a long time this was (and may well still be) the jewel in the crown of Sustrans, a beautiful route following one of the old railway lines, dipping through meadows, woodland, over valleys and rivers, very picturesque in any season. The weather was good and the riding very pleasant. Leaves lay in drifts over the path and crunched pleasingly beneath the tyres. Here are two cats I saw en route:
All the way along, the route was busy with cyclists and walkers. As I arrived at Staple Hill Tunnel, a postman slotted in behind me and began drafting close on my wheel. I yanked out my cronky ol’ camera, which was giving up the ghost the screen had malfunctioned, and took a bit of poor-quality video footage:
Music provided by My Two Toms, who I was to see playing later on that very evening.
I approached Bristol deep in the gloaming, necessitating the use of my lights. Many, many cyclists were using the path and in places it became quite congested, but unlike being in a car, it felt great. Everyone was all smiles and ‘after you’ ‘no after you’. Hipsters with messenger bags mixed with grannies on Pashleys.
It took me a while to understand Tom’s directions, but soon I was ensconced in The Cube cinema, enjoying some terrific films, chatting to people about cycling and listening to some splendid tunes courtesy of My Two Toms and Bucky. The film maker and artist Michael Smith stole the show with his introduction to the film he and Tom made, and also his drawing along live to My Two Toms music. It was a great evening, and nice to find out afterwards that a Highway Cycling Group reader, Mair had turned up and enjoyed herself.
Back at Tom and Katherine’s, we stayed up until three, drinking and talking. During an attempt to take a picture of Tom and Katherine’s bikes I dropped my ailing camera on the stone floor and destroyed it. Ah well, goodbye old friend. A few hours sleep, then we were out on a visit to the famous Bristol Sweetmart, then on to Tom’s studio. Finally, I cycled to the station envisioning a nice sit down on the train, only to find trains on that line were cancelled due to engineering works. Buses were supplied but they wouldn’t let my Lemond Etape on. Wearily I cycled the thirty two miles home. A great weekend.
Why, here are some pictures: