theraceforthecafe.com                             .

a journal - cycling, sociology, social media

Friday, 16 November 2018

Training with power - no soft tapping this winter.


To start this week's post on my first experience of training with power first a very brief summary of my 2018 season. It started really well and I was encouraged by my early results, always near the front and finishing in the top ten. In the middle part of the season the races seemed to get harder and my results got worse, too much racing, too much training and too much travelling - yep I had definitely overdone it, over trained? under recovered ? whatever it was, I was cooked. With hindsight thirteen races in May was maybe a little bit too ambitious, lesson learned. MayTourLVRC In the last third of the season after a period of recovery I felt back on form but the races were not going that well and usually under very similar circumstances.

                                                               Heading out, ready to press harder on the pedals.
Often in races I found that I was under pressure and sometimes lost contact when the road dragged up for more than a couple of minutes. I was just not strong enough compared to the best guys in my age category, especially towards the end of a race. AgeGroupRacing So one of the things I need to do is get better at this type of effort. There is an old adage that says if you keep doing the same things you will keep getting the same results ... or words to that effect, and after reflecting on my race season I decided that I needed to change the way I train to try and improve on the efforts that were letting me down in races.
Having talked to Jack (my son/coach) at length on how to approach my winter training we agreed that I needed to start using a power meter and do my winter training a bit differently this time round. You can read more about training with Jack, here Polarisedtraining and here HowElitesTrain. Jack put me in touch with the nice folks at Pinpoint Consumer Electronics who very kindly supplied me with a 4iiiiuk.com Precision power meter and a Viiiiva heart rate monitor to go with it.

I am trying to be realistic in terms of the benefit I can get from training with a power meter and I am not really expecting to find significant number of extra watts over the winter. In fact one of the reasons that I haven't  used a power meter in the past was that I felt that as I am sixty three this month I would potentially just be gathering data on my inevitable decline - not particularly motivating !
The 4iiiiuk.com Precision was really easy to install and set up as it comes already fitted to a new left side crank arm, old one off, new one on, wake it up by turning the pedals backwards and it pairs to your head unit. Position the cranks arms vertically to calibrate and that's it - sorted, it took me fifteen minutes max and as I am normally absolutely useless at stuff like this I was well pleased. A detailed review on the Precision power meter by CyclingWeekly4iiii here.
On my first ride I immediately noticed how sensitive the Precision 4iiiiuk.com power meter was to pressure on the pedals - I know that's blindingly obvious but I was still surprised ! If you ease of on the pedals the power meter instantly tells you and the second you stop pedalling - BIG FAT ZERO. This very simple realisation quickly changed the way I ride, no more free wheeling after cresting a slight incline, no more soft tapping when riding in a tail wind, no more easy pedalling on the wheel to keep the beard out of the wind, the power meter was a game changer almost immediately.
                                                      Only three weeks in and I've noticed a difference already.
Somebody said to me that using a power meter makes you a lot more honest about how hard you are actually training and yes I have probably been kidding myself in to thinking I was doing everything I could. So my training is going to be much more structured from now on and having already changed the way I ride my training time will be used much more effectively. To be clear though I will still be soft tapping to my favourite cafe The-Mockingbird-Deli-Yarm two or three days a week.

To set my 4iiii power training zones three consecutive days of testing started fairly appropriately with five minute efforts. The protocol was a progressive warm up followed by three efforts with thirty minutes of recovery between. This testing was done up a long drag, very similar to the sort that have been causing me problems in races. The efforts were really hard and I didn't enjoy them at all, the cool down to the cafe was OK though.
The second day of testing was the twenty minute effort done on our local time trial course out and back between two roundabouts in a crosswind, hard but I think I paced it just about right and was on my maximum heart rate for the last 2-3 minutes. Day three (above) required a long straight road with an even gradient, light cross-wind and legs feeling good ... well er no actually they didn't, but I did the test anyway, which was 3 x 1 minute efforts with 10 minutes recovery between, a lot harder than it sounds.
I got everything out on the final one minute effort, and I had my finger hovering over the lap button for the last three seconds desperate for it to be over, I had so much fun doing these tests ... not.
But, I hear you ask, if I don't expect to find much in the way of a power increase, then how do I expect to improve my 5 minute effort ? Well simply by doing lots of 5 minute efforts up longish drags at a specific power output over the next few months, and the power meter will enable me to do that accurately. What I hope will happen is that simply by doing them every week all winter at a specific wattage, I will begin to get better at them. In addition, I will have an accurate record of every effort I have done, so when it comes to my 2019 races I will know exactly what I can do for a given period of time. Hopefully I will have also improved my ability to repeat these efforts when fatigued towards the end of races, that's the theory anyway.
So before I finish and in the spirit of transparency here's what you really want to know, my test numbers. My 1 min effort was 370 watts, 5 min effort 235 watts and my 20 min effort 212 watts and by multiplying my 20 minute power by .95 I now know that my functional threshold power (FTP)  the average power that I should be able to sustain for an hour is 201 watts and that feels about right. Three weeks in to power training and I have already made a slight improvement on my 5 minute effort, its going to be a hard winter for sure and my old knees are starting to complain already but I am happy with our plan and more than happy with the 4iiii.com Precision power meter.

Thanks for reading, I will do an update towards the end of the winter and you can also see how it goes on MyStrava and on Instagram @tony_rees123
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Sunday, 4 November 2018

Art appreciation: A brief encounter with the Vielo V+1


The cycling market is evolving rapidly and one of the things driving the change is that a lot of buyers now want a bike that is tailored towards what they really want to do. At a time when pro racing and bike racing in general are becoming less relevant for a lot of people discerning buyers now want a bike that is not just different, they want a machine that opens up a whole new way of cycling for them, a bike that actually changes their riding. For those riders who want to experience a bit of everything there are now an increasing number of options. Of course a big part of the fun of cycling is going fast, so performance is still key and a bike that allows you to cover a lot of ground quickly over all types of surfaces is now the ideal for many serious cyclists.


Generally speaking in this sector it's not the big brands but the small companies that lead the innovation and last month I went to visit one such company and to test ride a very special bike, the V+1 from Tyneside based enterprise Vielo.cc. Designed specifically for the British market (and British roads) the V+1 is a performance bike for road riders who want to do it all and on the V+1 you can do it all in considerable style... at a price.
Describing themselves as an Indy-Boutique brand father and son team Ian and Trevor Hughes along with a small but passionate team of associates have created something really special in the V+1 by applying incredible attention to detail and incorporating intelligent design and engineering to every part of the bike. (Instagram @vielo.cc)


Casually loitering behind the ByTheRiverBrewCompany in Wood Camo jersey courtesy of Paria.cc and admiring the details on the V+1 shod with 650b wheels and 47 mm WTB ByWay tyres, a 170mm disc at the front with a 140 at the rear. With the V+1 you can use what ever wheels are best for the ride or race you are doing, a mid-week crit ? stick your deep section hoops in and away you go.


The Vielo V+1 pictured at the BackYardBikeShop alongside another incredible local creation, this specially commissioned Geisha inspired artwork was created by an artist called Hush (Instagram @hushartist). Newcastle based Hush who trained as a graphic designer at Newcastle College of Art is world renowned for his contemporary depictions in which he re-invents historical female figures. Its quite an artistic coup for the boys at the BYBS to have this piece as Hush was recently included on a list of the worlds top twenty up and coming artists and he has exhibited his work at galleries in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, London and Berlin. 


Just the best applied bar tape I have ever seen that's all, this silicone tape from fabric doesn't lift as you move your hands across it so it can be applied from the centre out over, meaning there is no need for a wrap of tape in the middle of the bars and check out those Vielo branded headset spacers, and the cable routing, just a few of the really neat details that are every where you look on the V+1. This demo machine was protected by something else that I was really impressed with, invisiFrame it's a shame you can't see it, it's invisible ... obviously.


No the chain and cassette are not dirty they are actually sparkling clean, its a SRAM X01 XG-1195 10 x 42 black cassette paired with a KMC DLC11 Diamond Black chain ... very shiny, very black and very expensive ! Keeping the black theme going if you look very closely you will see that the lock nut on the tyre valve is also black and shiny ... because for the detail obsessed the guys at Vielo.cc a silver one just would not do. What about those bridge-less seat stays ? more precisely the 'passive rear suspension' and the flattened, up-curved chain stays, absolutely beautiful.


The Vielo V+1 a high level bike on the High Level Bridge and to you observant blog readers - yes that's a RockShox Reverb dropper seat post (on a 'road' bike !) an optional extra that is seamlessly operated from the left hand double tap SRAM shifter allowing you to lower your saddle slightly or give it the full 125mm drop in one go, so trick.

                                                                                 

Two beautiful birds one beautiful bike, just by chance my day on the Quayside with the V+1 turned in to a bit of an art tour. I came across this beautiful piece in Ouseburn, it was created for the recent Great Exibition of the North and it's in a car park under a railway arch, luckily there was nobody parked in front of it when I passed. If you have never visited the Ouseburn Valley in Newcastle its well worth a trip up there, loads to see and do, I really like it.



More 'artwork' in Ouseburn, or is it just graffitti ? I think the difference between the two is simply permission, with permission traditional painted graffitti becomes a form of public art. There are lots of good examples of it in Ouseburn and I was spoilt for choice of places to lean the V+1 to take pictures, I took this one with the IPhone on a tripod, in case you were wondering.


Not too difficult to get good pictures of the V+1 with fantastic weather and the beauty of the Newcastle quayside. My final stop of the day just a couple of minutes pedal from Ouseburn was the Cycle Hub right on the riverside. I have been to the Hub a few times, it's in a great location, there's always a nice friendly atmosphere and they sell good coffee. On such a fabulous day there were loads of cyclists enjoying the weather and the V+1 attracted a lot of attention, even with its fairly low key colour scheme people seemed to immediately realise that it was something very special.


So how good is the Vielo V+1 ... really ? well I only had the bike for a few hours and during that time I was a bit distracted trying to take in all the details and getting the pictures for today's blog. Though on the half hour ride back to Vielo HQ to return the bike I gave it a little bit of a test and rode it hard on the road, on cycle paths and over cobbles and I loved it ! its an absolutely brilliant machine, but don't just take my word for it.
Remember Guy Kesteven from my last blog who raced the Cannondale 'leftie' MTB up a car park at Rampage Leeds ? you can read about it here CarParkRacing Well Guy has been testing bikes for magazines and websites for over twenty years and has put the V+1 through an extensive test, his verdict ? "One of the most stunning bikes I've ridden in 21 years !" pretty impressed then ! you can see his detailed review here GuyKesTV - Vielo V+1

Thanks for reading, see you next time for some power sharing with 4iiii
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Sunday, 14 October 2018

Car Park racing: Rampaging in Leeds with Paria.cc


Entering a bike race in a multi-storey car park ! what on earth made me think that was a good idea ? I had a sneaking suspicion that my race wouldn't go that well and I was right, but that's not to say that I didn't have a brilliant night out in the Victoria car park Leeds. Food, drink, music, entertainment and a bike race - seriously, what's not to like ? There was a really friendly atmosphere at the RampageLeeds and I got chatting to loads of people from the Yorkshire cycling scene and definitely made some new friends.


One of my reasons for entering the Rampage was to catch up with the lads from the newly formed Paria CC Race Team. PARIA.cc are a Leeds based company who have been good enough to provide me with some excellent kit that I will be training in over the winter. I have shared some pictures of the kit on my Instagram and they are going to share the blog on their website - seems fair. Sam Morgan is the owner of Paria and an interesting guy, a bit different, very direct, strong beard game, partial to a pint, in fact a man after my own heart, some more on Sam and what his PARIA brand is about later.


The Rampage is part hill climb, part time trial and part criterium from Level 6 to Level 11 of the Victoria car park, which is possibly the nicest multi-storey I have ever raced in. I was a bit dubious as to how suitable it would be for bike racing but it was actually ideal, a really grippy surface, corners you could pedal around with decent length straight section between them. Two riders started together and the fastest went through to the next round, simple - last man standing wins. The Rampage was organised in support of a good cause Land Aid a property industry charity working to end youth homelesness in the UK.


Two way traffic in the car park and the first couple of riders are off. I usually use my own pictures on the blog but this week I am using shots from Leeds based cycling photographer Joe Cotterill whose pictures are top class and way better than anything I managed to get on my IPhone. Check out his work HERE Josef Cotterill Photography I saw Joe's pictures on Instagram @jcz_photos so I messaged him to see if it would be OK to use a couple on the blog. Joe was happy for me to use his pictures and more than that he sent me a file the next day with all the images from the night in high resolution, not only a great photographer but a nice guy - thanks again Joe. 


The guys from the Paria CC Race Team waiting to start, on the left Torquil Hall AKA @torqtime and Tom Harmer @tommyharmer23 on the right. The Paria team kit looked great and a bit different from a lot of team/club designs. Paria apply a design aesthetic that avoids block colours and overly prominent logos to try and bring a different fresher look to team kit. 


  Above, another great shot from Joe Cotterill @jcz_photos, and on the far side making a fast start is Tom Harmer of Paria CC Race Team. On the subject of the Rampage start here's a little tip for you just in case you decide to enter next year, it's a really good idea to get clipped in at the first attempt, just as Tom has done in the picture above. Not like me at the third attempt as you are entering the first corner, result ... race over before it started, although trying to put a positive spin on it, I did take second in my heat fairly comfortably. After chatting to the Paria lads it was obvious that they were pretty serious about what they do and what they want to achieve with the team, but at the same time they came across as being chilled out and up for a laugh.


Talking of being up for a laugh, not everyone at the Rampage was taking things totally seriously and a highlight of the event was watching Dave Burns do the ride of the night on a bike that was, well, a touch small for him. Dave is a man who knows a thing our two about bikes and bike riding though, as he runs a company called I Want To Ride My Bike a cycle tuition, training and coaching business in Harrogate and a really nice fella he is too. This picture courtesy of someone else who I got to know at Rampage Paul Bulmer @the_man_of_distraction on Instagram - great picture this from Paul and it sort of sums up the event for me really.

As well as supporting the Paria CC Race Team Sam Morgan here on the left also sponsors Amsterdam based crit racing outfit Team Trouble and he generously donated the winners jerseys for the Rampage. I have got to know Sam quite well and he is happy to concede that in certain situations he sees himself as a bit of an outsider, which is where the idea for Paria and the company name came from as PA-RYE-AH  literally means social outcast. Sam and I hit it off as soon as we met and he is actually very easy to get on with, as long as you like the company of straight talking, honest as the day is long no nonsense northern blokes, which I do. A key tenet underpins what Sam stands for which is, in his words 'don't be a dick' and 'pay it forward' a simple philosophy and typical Sam. (just in case your not sure what he means - UrbanDictionary)
Another reason why Sam and I got on from the start and decided to help each other is that we view the social world of road cycling the same way. During our first conversation Sam talked about what he saw as the inherent elitism around road cycling culture, a feature of the scene that he wasn't really comfortable with and didn't feel a part of. He was referring to those unwritten rules that we all know about and seem to adhere to, from how you should wear your sunglasses, to what kit is deemed to be acceptable or unacceptable. In fact exactly the same topics that I have attempted to explain sociologically in previous posts on the blog HERE Symbolic Violence and HERE Who Has The Power ? These were issues that came up time and again when I was researching racing cyclists for my PhD and became important themes in my my thesis, so I suppose it's no wonder Sam and I get on - we see the world in much the same way.



Did I say earlier that people weren't taking the Rampage too seriously ? Well seriousness levels ramped up considerably when 2017 World Junior time trial champion Tom Pidcock turned up and signed on along with brother Joe.

                                                                                         Another of Joe Cotterills great pictures.
There were bikes of all types being raced at the Rampage, full on race machines, flat bar hybrids, cyclocross and gravel bikes and one of the more unusual (and expensive) was this seven and a half grand Cannondale Ocho F-Si  Hi-MOD World Cup mono fork  'leftie'  being ridden by Guy Kesteven. Guy is another man who knows a thing or two about bikes and bike riding, he should do he has been testing bikes and components for cycling magazines and websites for over twenty years. Guy also has his own rough cut video channel on YouTube, check him out here GuykesTV - Rampaging to see a riders eye view of how absolutely mental Rampage car park racing is, its only 5 minutes long and definitely worth a watch. There's also a glimpse of Dave Burns furiously pedalling his 'mini bike' and my other new mate Paul Bulmer coming in a close second to Guy on his 'leftie'.


Final pic this week from Joe Cotterill of Tom Pidcock demonstrating the cornering ability that helped him take the win at the 2017 National Circuit Race Championships, but despite his skills it was equally talented, and incredibly fit sibling Joe Pidcock who took the overall senior win on the night.

The Rampage will be back next year and I have heard that it is going to be bigger and even better. I for one will definitely be having another crack at it, obviously I will be practicing my clipping in technique over the winter ... or should I go MTB and flat pedals ? anyway I've got a year to decide.

I have some really varied stuff coming up on the blog in the next few weeks so please call back, thanks for reading. Until next time, as my mate Sam would say 'pay it forward'.

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Sunday, 30 September 2018

The Plane Spotting Edition


I have to confess to have developed a bit of a thing about planes during the summer. It started on Instagram when a random picture of a 'crashed' jet popped up on the explorer page and before I knew it I was frantically searching for its mystery location. After some fairly extensive research on Google Earth I found where it was and thought to myself ... I am going to have to go and have a look at that. So that's how I found myself in the middle of a moor in north Northumberland taking pictures of this.


I had a rough idea where the plane was located and set off on my gravel bike hoping to ride straight up to it. Unfortunately that plan didn't work out as the ground conditions made riding the bike completely impossible. Despite the fact that I was up on the moor after the driest few of months of weather for years the ground was still a complete bog. So once I caught sight of the plane in the distance it took an hour of real struggle to get to it carrying my bike, of course leaving the bike and just walking to it would have been a lot easier but where's the fun in that ? and the Instragam pictures wouldn't have been as good either.                                                                                        (Instagram @tony_rees123 click on the right or see my previous Instagram post here)



The plane is a 'T-Bird' a Lockheed T33 Shooting Star sub-sonic jet trainer. Although it appears to have crash landed on the moor a more likely explanation, especially considering it is in the middle of a bog is that it was probably dropped in by helicopter. The wreckage of the jet is on the edge of an RAF firing range so it was probably placed there as a dummy target.

At this point you might be thinking that leaning my bike against a plane that is used as a target wasn't the most sensible thing to do but as you can see it's in really good condition and despite the fact that it has apparently been there for thirty years it doesn't look as if they have managed to hit it yet, so I wasn't too worried.


The metal straps over the cockpit have been added to discourage people from climbing inside. I should stress at this point that the plane is on open land with a small road not that far away. I didn't have to climb over any fences to get to it although there were some raised barriers with a sign saying 'NO ENTRY WHEN DOWN - LIVE FIRING' ... even good Instagram pictures wouldn't have tempted me to ignore that message.



On Tuesday evenings through the summer I compete in the TLI organised races at the Croft motor racing circuit near Darlington, a former RAF base which is still used as a private airstrip. In the twelve year that I have been racing at Croft this was the first time that I had actually seen a plane. I had a really good chat with the pilot and part owner who was just as interested in my bike as I was in his plane.


The plane was was built in 1965 in Germany and is owned by a syndicate of four friends, they paid £16,000 for it, flew it back from Germany and spent another £4,000 bringing it up to UK specification. So 5K each and they are up and flying, which sounds like pretty good value to me.          I was third in my age group in the race that night and took home £5 in prize money and immediately decided that from now on all my winnings would be going in to my 'aeroplane fund' ... shouldn't take me too long.


So on the hunt for a secondhand bargain I popped up to Teesside airport to see if there was anything available and look what I found a 'doer upper' ! It's a bit lop-sided I know and clearly needs a bit of work, but how hard can it be, really ? I mean it was only a few weeks ago that I single handedly put a new derailleur hanger on the 'Cafe Bike' (in under two hours) The only problem I could see at this point was that they were probably going to want a bit more than was currently in my 'aeroplane fund' - yep still only a fiver. 


A couple of weeks later while out training and with the heat wave continuing I happened to be passing another airstrip, this time the home of our local model flying club - so obviously I had to pop in to check out the planes. I spent a very enjoyable hour chatting to a smashing bunch of fellas, all members of Stockton Model Flying Club.The club has been going for over fifty years and has 150 members who own the 14 acre site where their airstrip is located.  My visit got me thinking that getting in the air with a model plane might be a bit more of a realistic option, especially as yes you guessed it, still only £5 in the winnings !


The Ribble Pro Cycling Aero 883 gets even more aero with the addition of what's left of one of the planes after a crash landing ... oops that looks expensive, maybe even a model plane is going to be a bit out of my price range ? I wonder if one of the nice chaps would lend me a plane ? 

Final (model) plane of the summer and of this weeks blog a Spitfire taking off over the Ribble Aero 883  and another sunny training ride interrupted by my plane spotting obsession, and this one doesn't even fly, its on a pole !


That's it for this week and hopefully that's it with the plane spotting thing, thanks for humouring me and reading this far. 
Next time on the blog: Bike racing in a multi-storey car park, its fast, its furious and it hurts ... a lot !

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Sunday, 16 September 2018

A bike shop under a bridge ... and a brewery.


The Backyard Bike Shop is somewhere that I have wanted to visit for a while but not managed to get to, so when I heard that the business had moved from its previous location in the Ouseburn Valley on the north side of the river Tyne to the south side of the river it seemed like a good opportunity to pop up for a visit. I must confess that I was a slightly puzzled why Nic Vieri  had decided to move his business from the upcoming Ouseburn area, a cultural and creative quarter to the east of Newcastle city centre to the quayside in Gateshead, which on the face of it didn't seem like an obvious location for a  bike shop - well I was totally wrong there and the reasons for moving to the new location were immediately obvious as soon as I got a first look at the location.  


A glorious July afternoon on Tyneside just taking a moment to enjoy the view of the magnificent Tyne Bridge and on the right a first glimpse of the creative container community that I had come to check out. Picture by Collab Media

Nic has moved to become part of a brand new independent container community nestled right under the iconic Tyne Bridge on the Gateshead side of the river. The community has been developed around the By The River Brew Company a micro brewery with an  adjoining tap room.  



Its just as well I was driving or I might not have even made it to the bike shop, as twenty craft beer keg lines in the tap room represent an awful lot of temptation, anyway getting a bit carried away there talking about beer time get back on track and talk bikes.


Nic Vieri owner of the Backyard Bike Shop is a proper bike guy and it was great to spend some time chatting with him about all things cycling. Nic's strategy for the shop is to specialise in repairs and high end custom builds and over time he has built up a network of reliable suppliers allowing him to source even the rarest and most unusual frames, wheels and components.


One of the Backyard Bike Shop recent creations combining classic Italian styling with up to date components. This Tommasini X-Fire is kitted out with Simano Dura-Ace on Kryserium Exiliath wheels and completed with Deda finishing kit. I am not really a fan of Italian bikes as a rule but this one I like ... a lot.


Literally underneath the Tyne Bridge, if anyone knows of a cooler location than this for a bike shop then please let me know where it is. Of course anywhere you suggest must also have a coffee shop/cocktail bar, brewery and a tap room oh, and a restaurant, did I mention the restaurant ?



Along side the bike shop is TRAKOL an eatery specialising in primitive outdoor cooking  indoors ... apparently. Didn't get a chance to sample the food unfortunately but the restaurant looked great, and serves only British produced meat cooked on British charcoal in an open kitchen.



Nic was a great host and gave me a full guided to tour of the development - including the very impressive brewery and tap room.


Just tell the guys at Backyard Bike Shop what your dream bike would look like and they will make it a reality. To make dreams come true Nic has a couple of expert mechanics on his team who both also race bikes at a high level. By coincidence I know one of them, Zeb Kyffin a real rising star of north east cycling who just happens to ride for Ribble Pro Cycling - small world is cycling.


Another recent build a Cinnelli Superstar with Campagnolo Record 12 speed, Miche SWR wheels and finished with Deda Superleggero, I really like this picture and this build.

 
The coffee shop adjoins the bike shop and is only separated by a mesh screen so you can enjoy a coffee while you watch your pride and joy being worked on. 



When the guys in the bike shop down their spanners for the day the coffee shop transforms into a really cool cocktail bar. Above a house special the Nitro Cold Brew - could easily become my new favourite drink. 


 Capturing content on the quayside and plugging the blog with help from Collab Media 



As if a brewery, tap room, bike shop, coffee shop, cocktail bar and a restaurant were not enough every weekend the vibrant Hawker Market opens for business. Right next door to the Backyard Bike Shop it's a great place to go for craft beer and a fantastic selection of street food from a range of independent traders. 


Final picture this week, a night shot of the container community under the Tyne Bridge where the Backyard Bike Shop is located. If this image doesn't make you want to pay them a visit I don't know what will. 
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