Ben Travis/London trip

There's a phrase that goes along the lines of "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."
With that in mind, here is a photo book from my trip to London with Ben Travis (if you're on mobile, try this).

If you prefer your photos at 60 frame per second rather than 1 or 2, you can check out the video:

I'm a sucker for a pedal around London, and this trip didn't disappoint.

Ben hit me up earlier in the year about making that tedious drive from Aberdeen a bit more worth it by riding somewhere before the TartyBikes Weekender. We'd last ridden London together in the Phoenix Jam (video here) 4 years ago, and we were both keen to have another crack at the whip. When the Weekender was cancelled and we had an extra full day in London it was a no-brainer.

As mentioned in the "3 Days In London" book up there, if we're on a tight time scale and the plan is to get a video out of it then I'm usually keen to get a route or idea of spots to visit dialled in before we go. This time, as we didn't have much in mind for #content, we took it a bit easier. With an updated Maps spot list, 4G and occasional public Wifi, maps on bus stops and a vague sense of having been places before with Joel, we winged it and ended up riding some awesome spots.

I don't think there are many people out there who'd be comfortable with the miles pedalled:spots ridden ratio on this trip, but it served as proof that if you're willing to put the work in London is still one of the best places to ride in the UK. It seems that trials riders are creatures of habit though and don't really like exploring much (hence 'group rides' tend to be the same 3 spots in the same 3 cities, ad nauseam), which probably explains why I've already seen comments on the video from people in London asking where the spots we rode are.

Cutting through traffic and riding through busy streets totally immersed in some crazy, neon, technicolour sprawling mass is a lot of fun - it always feels really energising to me somehow. Admittedly having a massive tripod hanging off the side of your bag makes it a bit harder, and trusting that Ben was actually checking for traffic before cutting across a street was sometimes misplaced - still, it was a good time. We absolutely rinsed the phrase "There's got to be something" as we cut down all sorts of random alleys and side streets trying to get a feel for what was around. That thrill of the chase never gets old, unless it's about 4 hours since we last stopped for food and we're both fiending for some quality carb-based delights. In the interests of full disclosure we did get the train home from Central on the last evening of the trip, but that's because this happened:

So with that, some more random photos that didn't make the cut for the Inspired piece.

Wait, is this Instagram? Either way, being based in Hampstead it meant that we were more towards the affluent, middle class end of the breakfast cafe spectrum than the greasy spoons I was used to from Elephant. We ate like kings in the mornings, although we paid the price for it. See that rasher of bacon? £1.75. No joke.

Not compelling imagery, but it's purpose here is to make Ali jealous, and suggest coming on more trips...

We absolutely rinsed FlightRadar on this trip. I'd noticed we were getting some weird plane activity overhead when I was filming the 180 gap line around mid-way through the video, and a look at FlightRadar revealed it's because we were at the turning point for approaches to Heathrow. Cue phones out, in full nerd/tourist mode trying to get a photo of an A380 or Jumbo coming in.

Both signs from the same toilet. Mixed messages maybe, but you can't beat a really uplifting message mid-stream.

I think I'm on record in a video by Joel about how good London coffee is, and the importance of it in riding trips. These stop-offs from time to time were prime for getting motivation up again.

Worth it.

I have a pathological fear of going fast and my wheels leaving the ground, but even so Cantelowes was and is an absolute blast to ride. If you're in the area, just rip around the bowl. You won't regret it.

Phoneception. The Maps + maps combo is a winner in terms of getting around some of the further flung spots in London. I've still got an A-Z from my time in London with crudely inked in spot markings on it, and although it was fun to use to get around, just whipping out a phone and knowing exactly where you are is an improvement. Especially when you're in a dodgy estate in Paddington, with a pretty big group of dudes looking interested in our bikes...

This little guy had clearly had a bad time. Yes, I shot some Rich Forne inspired B-Roll with it. Yes, we helped it out to a nice secluded piece of vegetation afterwards. We're not monsters.

So the ender spot. We discovered this by chance just down from our hotel, on a ride back home after a late-ish night Cantelowes session. Being so close to the hotel, it basically meant it was either a 'first thing in the morning' or 'last thing at night' line. The former isn't ideal because to be slinging hooks and sizeable drops you ideally want to be feeling warmed up and ready to go, and the latter isn't ideal because to be slinging hooks and sizeable drops you ideally want to not have just done 25 miles (plus camera things).

This meant the pressure was on for the morning of the last day of our trip, so after finding a primo breakfast spot just up the road we headed down to give it a whirl. The hook itself was an awkward size, and with our high quality control standards meaning hops and Elvis legs (shaky knee balance lines) were out it took some doing. Some behind the scenes info - Ben is straight business time when it comes to getting things done. His 'go again' speed for trying lines is faster than anyone else I've ever filmed with, and it usually means that I'm barely able to finish deleting a failed attempt before hitting the red button again. However, when things are taking a while he gradually goes 'Full Scottish' and before you know it some fairly vocal "FUCK OFF BEN"s are getting let out. After a painful crash and a couple of aborted attempts at getting the second part of the line I could see it was getting to him, mainly because he was having to sit on his bike, not facing me, having a bit of a chat to himself between each go. This was all kind of amusing to watch, apologies for the chuckling Ben... Either way, as usual he made it happen, so aside from probably upsetting any pensioners within ear shot we're all good.

I said it in the book, but thanks again to Ben for making this trip happen. He's one of my favourite people to ride and film with for good reason, so getting out of the day-to-day social media/work matrix to play bikes in London with him was a real treat. Hopefully we won't leave it 4 years until the next time.


P.S. This is the 'new look' Clean. It's nowhere near as cool as the old days of type writers and scanners, but hopefully it'll mean regular updates and not me having to stress at dodgy, knock-off type writer ink ribbons. Although the phrase "better than nothing" is being stretched to it's absolute limit in today's social media age, I'm rolling with it for this...

If you filmed your last video in sun-drenched Barcelona, where would you go to top that? Apparently, the answer to that is Cardiff.

After going to Tarty Days, Ali decided to cruise over the Severn Bridge to scope out some new spots in Cardiff. Filmed over a week and a half in between gales and showers, this shows some of the riding on offer in Wales' capital city.

Special thanks go out to John Bailey!