Well not really but, as far as it’s regular attendees are concerned, it might as well be. Bespoked 2021 will be held in Harrogate.
Covid 19 has a lot to answer for. All the racing, all the shows, and all of the cycling events have either postponed or cancelled this year. Only now are people managing to rearrange or start things up again. It’s been a tough six months for any form of events, and just as tough for event spaces and exhibition halls (the performance and arts have been hit especially hard, head to here if you need help). The uk handmade bicycle show was no exception, as was the venue with Brunel’s old station suffering closure.
This started the hunt for a new venue. Which initially was great news, it meant bespoked would continue (In my opinion the best bicycle show in the uk).
Now I suppose I could say I was lucky to have bespoked so close to me, it’s under a two hour drive to Bristol, and that the show was held too far south for most of the uk. I’d agree. Although a swing to the other end of the country may not be the best way to address that.
Whilst bespoked has international die hard visitors who would travel anywhere for the show, I can’t see them making up more than ten percent of the show goers. These guys will always be there, but surely can’t be relied upon to prop it up? Bespoked has been running for ten years in the same locality. Growing in popularity fuelled by being in easy reach (sub 3hrs) of London, the midlands, and wales whilst also being hosted slap bang on one of the most easily accessible rail routes in the country. With the south of the uk being the most densely populated area in the uk, it seems bizarre to move bespoked to a now 5 hour plus drive from London. You’d have to be pretty devoted to do 10 hours in a car for one day at a show.
In writing this I’m getting frustrated about suggesting travel by car to get to a bike show. I know I’m hypocritical as have traveled to bespoked by car for I forget how many years, being the easiest and cheapest option. To get to Harrogate we are now talking even more pollution and cost, for a lot of people.
I’ve driven to the Peak District from Bournemouth multiple times to ride Eroica Britannia, we have never completed the journey in under 6 hours including comfort breaks. Eroica was a three day festival (with different events over each day, not just the same exhibitors in a hall). Harrogate is another 2 hours up the road. 16 hour round trip for a day pass? Not feasible.
So like many others my trip to bespoked will now be a multi day affair. If I chose to drive a tank of fuel at circa £60 would be the first expense (providing you have an efficient car), alternatively flights from the south to Leeds are £200 return, then accommodation at the local premier inn would be £175 at least for two nights. To finish it off with food and show entry, a trip to bespoked for most regular south coast visitors has gone from £50 to £500. With the way that the economy is headed post covid trips like these will be the first thing to drop from peoples budgets.
This moves the show firmly off the menu for a lot of visitors, dare say it the majority. I don’t know if im going to opt for this over a potential holiday for me and the family. This worries me. We, as the uk cycling community, can’t afford the death of this show. It one of the only shows that helps to increase the awareness of our uk handmade bicycle makers. I really hope that there’s enough cycling fanatics in Leeds area to replace the deficit. Please get to it and support if you can, go see the fantastic machines on display, and sign yourself up for a life time or adoration for the skills of customer bicycle building. Good luck Bespoked.