Besmirched. The other side of cycling.

Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in our own world here at The Bristol Bike Project. But every now and then, we’re reminded that we’re part of a loose and wonderful network of bike co-ops all over the country, all of us greasy and happy and doing good things with bikes. Each year, Bristol hosts the Bespoked hand made bike show, filled with bikes artisanal, beautiful and expensive. It’s an amazing show, but this year we were part of the inaugural Fringe: Besmirched.

Inspired by a gathering of the UK’s bike co-ops back in 2013, Besmirched was about showing and engendering connections between the amazing co-ops in the UK. It was an inspiring event: Jenni and Laurie at London Bike Kitchen spoke about the work they do in their Women and Gender-Variant (WAG!) nights, the Ape Project displayed their kids bike exchange program, and new social enterprise Makers and Menders had their incredible mobile tool trike filled with sewing, weaving and wood working gear, ready to run accessible workshops for all. Our good friend Jet McDonald talked about philosophy, and Johnny from Oxford’s Broken Spoke co-op guided a workshop on dealing with road violence. There were home made cargo bikes, and a bike made from a radiator…

As for us, we displayed a photo exhibition of some of the folk who have worked with us to earn their bikes, alongside a bike very far from the fancy bikes at the main show: a classic Earn a Bike, in all it’s basic, unglamourous, empowering beauty. Besmirched showed us again that we’re lucky to be part of a broad a beautiful network here on the other side of cycling.


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