On a bright, sunny winters day, around 80 men and women dressed top to toe in their finest vintage attire, sitting astride cycles of all ages, congregated in Exmouth Town Centre for the 4th Ringtons Velo Vintage Occasion and Ride. Lorena Jones, dressed in her own vintage finery, was one of that number.
"Vintage bicycle rides, where the participants wear clothes and ride bikes of a particular time period, are becoming increasingly popular. They are a great way to enjoy cycling in a social and fun way, and are a relaxed alternative to sportives and races.
Unlike a lot vintage bike rides, the Ringtons Velo Vintage ride didn’t have any rules on the period of your bike or the age of your clothes – the focus was on more that you come along, join in and have fun! That said, everyone taking part went to an extra special effort to meet the theme, which was anything from 1930’s to 1950’s inclusive.
The ride itself was to take us through the beautiful Devon countryside for a leisurely 6 or so miles, with plenty of time to enjoy the view, chat and enjoy the delectable refreshments; no energy gels for this event, oh no!
The atmosphere was jumping from the moment I arrived, making the venue very easy to find; riders stood in period dress with smiles on their faces within an array of bikes that marked the departure point for the Ringtons Velo Vintage ride.
Walking past numerous stands full of treats and crafts within the marketplace that had been erected as part of the festival, I made a mental note to visit those I fancied for a proper look around on my return.
With a ‘tally ho!’ and a swift blow of a horn we set off from a side road in Exmouth Town Centre and headed towards the beach, where we were greeted with 40’s music, period cars and ‘Winston Churchill’ himself, who volunteered to coordinate the photographs.
There was much chatter between the participants on the way as we met one another and admired each others attire; from matching bikes with gramophones, to dog carrying sidecars, to flower filled baskets.
Spoilt with glorious weather, the scenic route was exceptionally beautiful, and as sun shone upon us on a chilly November day we were lead from the beach through tree lined paths into the countryside, spinning through rolling hills as we went.
What a wonderful day for a bike ride, and what a wonderful bike ride it was!
The attention to detail was evident throughout the ride, from the armbands worn by those leading the ride to the small mince pie and mulled wine tokens that were provided in our welcome envelopes, but none more so than the refreshment stop midway through the ride.
Three long tables stretched across the decorated hall, each adorned with sugar bowls, flowers, Ringtons tea guides and authentic newspapers dating back to the 30’s to 50’s in keeping with the theme of the ride. Tea was served in china cups, accompanied by an array of delicious homemade cakes.
As the photography session on the beach had taken a little longer than expected, it was suggested that we might have less time in the tearooms than originally planned. However, after my third helping of tea and cake, and with time still for the winners of the various awards to be announced – best dressed person, best dressed bike and such - I can certainly say I felt more relaxed than rushed.
Adequately refreshed and warmed we set off for the last leg of the ride and were met with the first real hill of the day. Although on a standard bike this small climb would have barely registered, on our retro bikes it proved a trickier obstacle to overcome. But spirits were high as was the level of encouragement and camaraderie we shared, and having given ourselves a good old pat on the back at the top we set off for our timely return to Exmouth town center.
Back in Exmouth, members of the public had lined the streets to join in with the, waving and cheering us home. It was quite the hero’s welcome! And having done an extra loop within the town to mark our return, we riders said our cheerios and headed off for the mince pies and mulled wine we had been promised earlier.
All in all, it was an excellent and fun event, and one I’d highly recommend!
If the above has piqued your interest, and you fancy joining the next Ringtons Velo Vintage ride, you’ll be happy to hear that there are two more planned for 2014 – one in the spring, and a winter ride in December.
There are whispers that next years event will have a number of route options too, thus making it even more accessible for people. With not a piece of lycra in sight, except perhaps in the wool, it was a pleasure to be a part of Ringtons Velo Vintage 4th Occasion and Ride, and I’d recommend it to all lovers of the bicycle, from racers to families alike.
Have a browse of our event picture gallery to see more photos from the ride (and gain inspiration for the next one!)