Do you see what is going on in other countries, a good or bad thing compared to what is happening in the UK?
As far as how the government has handled it? Well, they were super slow to react, and seemed to overlook care homes all together… but either way this thing was coming! Been reading some interesting things about susceptibility to the virus being related to all kinds of things, one being vitamin D deficiency! So let’s all make sure we’re getting out there for some sun! I’m fully expecting lockdown to be on and off for the next 6 months at least, fortunately, so far the NHS has not been overwhelmed, and we’ve gotta keep it that way.
How has the shop been doing at this crazy time?
In a word.. intense! After the initial lockdown we furloughed all of our staff, and were working purely on repairs, offering free labour to NHS staff, but we quickly realised that we were going to need more help! It got busier and busier over the following two weeks and has been crazy since! We have had at least 5 custom builds on the go at any one time, selling bikes like its going out of fashion (some of our brands have run out), we’ve had a two week backlog of repairs in the shop, and now brought back all but one of our staff! Adding to that we’ve been operating a 1 in 1 out system, disinfecting everything every 5 minutes.
We feel really lucky and appreciative that we’ve been doing well, and thank everyone for their support, but it has been bloody hard work.
Have you been able to get out and ride much?
Yes! we’ve been out loads! We’re lucky to be able to justify riding together as we’ve all been working in close quarters with each other, so a ride at distance is the least of our worries.
We get to commute to work through some of the most beautiful woodland and gravel the U.K has to offer, and we don’t take it for granted at all!
Tell us a little about your bike and current setup?
Been riding old faithful (my Singular peregrine) a lot, just love that thing, it’s so fun, nothing better than ripping singletrack on it, head down, in the drops. I’m currently building up a Brother Mehteh, it’s got a custom paint job, some Crust towel racks and a Son dynamo, pretty excited about it. It’ll be considered my ‘Fast bike’.
What are you currently working on and what do you have lined up for the future?
Hanging on in there trying to keep up with the demand at work, and once we’re allowed, regular camp outs! Also a bikepacking trip with Will from Brother Cycles that we’ve been chatting about for a while.
When you look at the photos from the Rough Stuff Archive and the bikes they use do you think the commercialisation of gravel and bike-packing has taken anything away for simple exploration?
Not for me! So good to look back and see that what we’re doing isn’t anything new at all. I think there’s so many awesome sides to the ‘Adventure cycling’ thing, i’m not even a massive fan of the term gravel, because it’s such a weirdly specific idea (riding on one particular surface)… for me the current vibe of what we do is exploring, riding all different bikes, without suspension, and at any pace we see fit!
I do totally appreciate the gravel racing side of things, but not really interested in it myself, having said that I also feel I should probably enter one one day just for the experience.
Do you think with the amount of events being cancelled the gravel/bike-packing scene is going to change? What are the plans for the Woods Cyclery Grand Rando?
No not at all, they’ll just be busier next year! People will be desperate to ride in groups and get drunk with friends! At present the ‘Grand Rando’ has not been cancelled, we hope we don’t have to, but realistically it’s looking likely… we’ll keep you updated!
What is the one positive thing you have been able to take from the current lock down?
One thing? I can think of a fair few.. Appreciating where you live! I feel so lucky to live 100 yards from the beach and a short pedal to amazing off road riding, I don’t know what I’d do if I was stuck in a city.
The number of people taking up cycling is awesome! I hope they all keep it up when things go back to normal, quiet roads have been amazing, and with the governments plans for cycling infrastructure improvements, it’s looking really positive for the future.
The environment is getting a much needed break, I really hope that this is an example that helps us quantify the effect that modern life is having on our planet. When the citys go back to being clouded in smog, I hope people look back and say ‘what can we do to make it go back to how it was during lockdown?’.
What are you looking forward to doing first when life returns to normal after lock down?
A massive ride with loads of friends, with multiple beer stops, and a wild camp somewhere nice.
Have you learnt any new skills or started any new hobbies/activities?
I’ve been sea swimming loads, it’s been a great way to get a good bit of exercise and a mental break, without travelling far or being out too long, (very important with a 7 month old, irrelevant of lock-down).