Total Bike Forever- Cycling the World Making Music

When we first set out on this road to discovery, the premise was and still remains to uncover and champion the amazing subculture of creative souls that are drawn to this cycle life ( like a deodorant can to a village bonfire).  

So when we recently discovered and got lost in a story so unique and inspiring, we couldn’t wait to find out more.  Total Bike Forever are two bike packing, friend making, soul-shaking electronic music troubadours on a year-long bike packing and musical adventure.  A story so amazing, so captivating, so beautiful and banging, it will surely grace paper, movie and airwaves to come.  Why? Their plan is to write an incredible album of sonic exposition’s inspired, fused and spliced by the sights, sounds and souls they discover as they bike pack their way across the mountains, deserts and cities of this stage we call the world. 

 If you haven’t already been reading their incredible blog and adventures on Stolen Goat then let us introduce you to Tim and Adam.  They are one half of London Indie band Bear Muda and are now on the final leg of this amazing bike packing adventure.

As muso’s ourselves we couldn’t wait to find out how they are adapting and immersing themselves in the full writing, creative process as they traverse the globe on two wheels.

So without further ado here is our amazing interview with Tim and Adam.  Total Bike Forever. Turn up the tunes, grab some IPA and enjoy.

What was the genesis of the idea to cycle halfway around the world, playing and creating music as you went?

We wanted to cycle to Japan and we couldn’t dream about doing that without making music. It’s too long away from our beloved synthesisers! Then we thought ‘hold on! Let’s just do both! Let’s get other people involved and make something new and amazing.’ And we did and we are at this very moment!

How much planning and preparation went into both the cycling and musical aspects of the journey? Were there nights spent deliberating over the best bikes or panniers to use, and was there any pre-arrangements with venues or artists you’d meet along the way?
Cycling – we did plan, yes. We read the books and the blogs and then realised that as soon as you start it all goes out the window!
Route and gear wise we did prep, yes. There’s the boring crap like insurance but I think accumulating all the other stuff is really fun and gets you super excited to depart.


Musically it was all quite up in the air. It could have gone in any direction, and still is going in any direction! Playing live wasn’t part of the plan before we left for example. We were going to release a track a month instead of playing live which we’re glad didn’t happen. Playing is an amazing way of meeting people!
Gear

What bike and gear set up did you settle on for this gig?
Adam rides a Thorn Sherpa, Tim a Kona Sutra. We use Carradice panniers which are brilliant. Shout out to the ‘Made In The UK crew!’ It was a case of starting from scratch. We had little to no knowledge of what a trip like this would demand from you so it was all patched together on the hoof. A case of ‘stick it all in the bags and see if it goes’ a lot of the time!

What is  your music gear set up for the trip?
There was only one requirement for the gear: MINIATURE. You can’t go lugging around heavy machinery. We needed the smallest equipment for the biggest adventure and size really does matter when you’re pulling it up and down mountains around the world. Hardware wise we have a Teenage Engineering OP1, a Roland SH 1 a and a Make Noise 0 Coast. We then have a laptop that runs Logic + Ableton. And of course a trusty zoom dictaphone.


Packing to not only cycle the world, but also to record an album couldn’t have been easy.  Any tips?
Adam’s tip: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be creative all the time. You’re being influenced and inspired by everything around you. Eventually it’ll flow out of you and the results are usually magnificent. Everything you interact with generally inspires you but in ways you don’t usually expect.

If more people combined forces with other creative minded people with different styles around the world we’d make more interesting music.

Tim’s tip: Don’t feel like you have to have all the kit when you leave. Especially if you’re starting in Europe. It’s super easy to get stuff as you go and piece it all together as you think ‘damn, that would have been useful’. In our case that was camping stools! Man, I couldn’t survive without that now.

Which one thing did you leave out that you wish you had packed?
A decent drum machine. In fact we’re planning on buying one in Japan for our next adventure. And some IPAs for those low moments!! Beavertown, if you’re reading this: You don’t realise how much of the time we talk about drinking Gamma Ray. Well done for making the best beer in the world.

How did the collaboration with cycling clothing company Stolen Goat come about?
We love working with those guys! We basically got in touch a bit out of the blue after seeing the awesome designs on their gear. It all came highly recommended as well, especially the bib shorts. We then partnered around our instagram and blog. They host our blog and the world watches us test their stuff to destruction as we drag it through Eurasia! We had an amazing video of a pair of bib shorts that was deemed too NSFW in which the material had worn so thin that they were 100% revealing.
Music

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Can you tell us about your song writing and recording process on the road?
Well, it’s quite fluid. We usually both start with bits then we kind of bring them together. There’s a constant collection of sounds going on as well and a hunt for collaborators when combined with our electronic sensibilities. That’s the beauty of moving through all these different countries (26 in all): Everything stays fresh.
We’ve also come to thrive in during live performances and sound checks have become vital moments to bring together new tunes and ideas. It’s hard to know how songs are going to sound on club systems when you’ve only listened to them on your bluetooth speaker!


Which one leg of the journey or experience has had the biggest impact on you personally and musically?
The more intense the place (cycling, people, culture) the more it brings out the best in us and our musical endeavours. It’s kind of happened that the music we’ve made in those places (I say those places I mean India specifically) has reflected the conditions and really ‘sounds like the trip’ to us which is a strange thing to say but it does transport you back to those moments and places.

Whats been the favourite gig or DJ set?
We played a couple of times in Busan and they were both brilliant. The first had a big audience and they reacted really well to the set. There’s a difference in taste between our style and the people of Korea we still managed to show them a real good time. The second was very quiet but we played a lot of new material and a lot of ambient stuff that we really loved.

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Have you adopted any influences, styles or sounds into your tunes that you have picked up along the way?
We’ve picked up a lot of sounds for sure. Influences and styles is a harder question to answer. Subconsciously, definitely. Consciously? Maybe sometimes. In fact we actually spend a lot of time trying to twist more traditional styles from around the world, to fit a more electronic style and pattern which makes in sound and feel more like the music we want to make.
What or where has been the most inspiring place you have recorded or jammed so far?
A couple of days after we left Istanbul, heading east, we climbed up this mountain and when we were going down the other side we could hear somebody playing drums from this village. We were flying down this mountain and, lo and behold, this guy was just sitting there with this drum kit playing. We instantly got all our kit out and we were playing with him for ages until everything ran out of battery. He was going back to Istanbul the next day. We would have gone back with him but we’d been sucked into the place for three weeks and really needed to carry on. We carried on chatting on WhatsApp and he was like, ‘I’ve got some friends who want to want to hear our music, just meet us in Trabzon in 10 days’ time.’ We were going that direction anyway and thought it was worth a punt. When we got there it basically transpired that this guy, called Berkay wanted to make a piece to apply to drum college in London and California and his friends ran a production company. They had a full production crew, we went into the mountains and set the instruments up and just played on the fly, making stuff up as we went. It was exactly what we wanted to do for the trip and almost like we’d premeditated it. It was crazy – so, so good. I think we cycled 1,000km in 10 days to make it happen.


From this adventure what have you learned about Cycling, Music and Friendship?

Big question! Cycling: It’s all about what you personally like. Everyone likes different things and has different goals for an adventure like this. For us it’s the music. If more people combined forces with other creative minded  people with different styles around the world we’d make more interesting music. As for friendship, It doesn’t matter what language you speak and where you are you can always make friends and find common ground.

Which three words best define this experience for you?

Total. Bike. Forever.

One drink, one party and one cycle leg from the adventure?

One drink: BeerLao (best lager in the world).   One party: Seoul. Every day was a party with those guys! Our Seoul family.  One leg: To avoid the tried and tested Pamir Highway answer I’m going to say the strange but amazing route we took through Laos. Basically we climbed a mountain a day for 10 days through the remotest part of the country. Awesome.

Do you plan to take this electro-cycling-musical on tour when your return to blighty? (A space disco powered by only bikes perhaps?)

Yes! We’re going to turn the bikes into a mobile stage and cycle them to venues and festivals around the UK and europe. More on that soon.

A huge chapeau to Tim and Adam for sharing their story and creations with us.  If you want to connect and follow their Journey click below.  Listen to their mix’s and tunes head to Souncloud and Spotify

Instagram

Total Bike Forever Blog

Soundcloud

Spotify

Happy Rolling

Daz & Craig

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Paris-Roubaix! What Would Tom Boonen do?

This time last year I was “bricking it!”  The previous November, in a fit of madness I had signed up for the Paris Roubaix, Hell of the North Sportive.  I had convinced myself id have plenty of time to train and get fit for it and then Christmas had hit with all the usual cheese, port and chocolate.

By March, due to a combination of snow, hail, more port and more cheese I hadn’t managed anything over a few 60km rides and some commuting to and from work and was genuinely considering not going.  Two week’s before we were due to leave things got worse, I injured my lower back lifting a table into our new house and could barley walk, never mind cycle, so it really was touch and go wither I would be heading off for Hell.   I was due to be taking part with my good friends, and friends of The BCR Graeme and Iona.  A message from Iona asking me what Tom Boonen would do and the fact that The Hell of the North is the most iconic race on the entire calendar (not an opinion, a FACT) was enough to make me toughen up, stop whining and get on with it.

So two days before we were due on the start line I jumped in the van for the drive through to Graeme and Iona’s new flat in Glasgow.  When we all met we were all excited but also nervous, you hear so much about how brutal the cobbles are and how many crashes, injury’s occur during this race you’ve got to think it’s a bit mental wanting to take part, but if your into cycling and your in the know, Paris Roubaix and Flanders trump everything else, every time, they really are the pinnacle of the cycling year so the excitement was more prevalent than the nerves.  Also, what would Tom Boonen do?


From here it was a 4 hour drive down to Leeds, my back was getting worse, but what would Tom Boonen do?  A short stopover in a hotel including carrying bikes up 7 flights of stairs, my back was getting worse but what would Tom Boonen do?  Up at 5am and onto the bus.  Then stops every hour or so right down the entire country making something like 10 hours on the bus before reaching the ferry, my back was getting worse, you get the idea.   By the time we reached the ferry my pain killer stocks were getting worryingly low but, what would Tom Boonen do?  Stock up on the ferry, that’s what!

For me it was simply slightly wider tyres, 28c Gatorskins to avoid punctures if possible, double bar tape and my secret weapon, extra padded weight lifting gloves!

The ferry journey was 2 hours and then we had another 4 on the bus in France making a total of 16 hours bus journey.  Although an epic journey in pain, it was made a bit quicker by all the other cyclists heading for hell.  We met guys from Leeds, Manchester, London and various other places, all feeling the same mixture of nerves and excitement before heading over the precipice. All asking themselves, what would Tom Boonen do?  As you can probably imagine, much of the chat was around bikes and specifically wither there had been any adaptations to people’s bikes for this particular event.  Over the years the pro’s have had sponge seats, suspension forks, wider tyres and various other attempts at making the cobbles more barrable so part of the fun of taking part is working out how your going to approach the pain.  For me it was simply slightly wider tyres, 28c Gatorskins to avoid punctures if possible, double bar tape and my secret weapon, extra padded weight lifting gloves!  Other people had gone for specific bikes, wider still tyres, less pressure in tyres etc but everyone on the bus was completely amazed by Graeme’s decision to use his single speed bike.  Bonkers seemed to be the consensus which was a judgement I believe Graeme ending up making himself!

 Bang, my bikes rattling, my jaws ratting, I’m banging about bouncing up and down and clattering on full speed

To the event.  Thankfully it was a crisp but sunny morning as we again got onto the coach, this time it was only a couple of hours to the start line and as with travelling to other rides, this journey was over in a flash.  I was doped up and although my back was still sore, I could feel it through a fog of painkiller and the adrenalin was starting to kick in.  Our coach dropped us off about half a mile from the start and as we cycled towards the line, gradually the streets got busier and busier with cyclists.  There is always something exciting about cycling abroad, all the big races you watch on TV are in Europe, generally Italy, France or Spain and I always think there is something special about cycling with thousands of other cyclists speaking one of these languages.  Also means I don’t need to speak to anyone when im knackered.

confidence and speed help you roll over them a lot easier than you do if your tense and struggling

So we rolled off gently for the first few miles but it wasn’t long before Graeme, who is an light spring hare on the bike sped off into the distance, Iona and I rolled along a bit further before we gradually drifted apart in the crowds and then it was onto the first cobbled section.  Now as you approach, you are genuinely worried, the story’s about broken bones and the legend of these cobbled streets are in your mind and you cant help but think this is going to be hellishly grim but thinking, what would Tom Boonen do? I sped up on the slightly downhill approach and rattled into it as fast as I could.  Bang, my bikes rattling, my jaws ratting, I’m banging about bouncing up and down and clattering on full speed.  It’s a busy section and although im in a bit of shock I seem to be passing people and faring a lot better than everyone around me so I push on and after a few minutes its over and you release onto what feels like silky smooth tarmac.   It was a short section and only 2 star, 5 star being the worse but my confidence has been given a boost and I’m now enjoying myself and looking forward to the next section.

I was enjoying it, I was high, I was hyper but the constant banging, bouncing and brutal jarring gradually wears you down and it does get hard

Over the next hour or so, through however many sections I start to get into the swing of it, I think the fact I do a lot of mountain biking helps and I’m used to picking lines over roots, rocks and whatever else.  Lots of the professional looking roadies were clearly really struggling with the constant jolting and having to pick lines, avoid gaps in-between cobbles and keeping their line in the crowds.  I also think that its true what they say about the cobbles, confidence and speed help you roll over them a lot easier than you do if your tense and struggling.  Most of all through I think that weight helps.  Unlike Graeme the Hare, I’m more like a Hippo on a bike and the combination of my weight and, still being fresh, a bit of power really helped me fly though the morning, so much so that not long before the first feed station I looked into the distance and actually saw Graeme bouncing around over the next section, we caught up over a drink at the station and then normal service resumed with him disappearing into the distance again, however me actually catching him at all was a sign he was struggling over the cobbles on his single speed and it does show that the route is more for the bigger, powerful rider as appose to the fly weight climber.  Its also pan flat!


After that initial 3rd of the route things got a bit more like normal and the excitement begins to wear off.  The sections of cobbles blend into one and the wearing down process kicks in.  For the first few sections I was enjoying it, I was high, I was hyper but the constant banging, bouncing and brutal jarring gradually wears you down and it does get hard.  I cant really differentiate between any of the sections from here on in apart from Le Trouee d’Arenberg, The Trench.  Images of the first world war, fighting in the trenches, barbed wire and mustard gas come to mind and watching the pro race every year, fighting to get in position under the famous bridge and then the carnage as they hit the Trench isn’t dissimilar.  Ok, that’s ridiculous but its sometimes pretty bad!   I personally made it through unscathed but it was definitely the worst section in the whole route.  The trench is through the middle of the d’Arenberg forrest and the surface of the cobbles is therefore wet and almost mouldy, its slippery as ice and this combined with the camber and the gaps, bumps and holes in the cobbles makes for absolute carnage.  I witnessed 3 crashes around me as I went through this section, two separate guys sliding off to the right and through the tape landing on the dirt track and 1 guy coming down right in the middle of the cobbles, at the peak of the camber taking out 3 of his mates in the process.  Having cycled through here I’m looking forward to watching the Pro’s through this section even more than previously!
To be honest, from then on in it was hard, due to lack of fitness I’m really struggling by this point and its just a case of plodding on and finishing.  The cobble sections now that I’m exhausted are much harder as I don’t have the energy or power to rattle through them and I seem to feel every bump and jolt.  The things that help in this event as appose to others through are the crowds along the route.  The pro race is the day after and the route is already filled with camper vans and fans out to watch and they cheer and encourage everyone as if it’s the actual race, it makes it a fantastic atmosphere and a special event.  My one regret regarding this is that I actually passed Didi the Devil cheering me one with his Trident and I never stopped to get a picture with him.


One more incident that happened not long after this was someone trying to cut me up around a corner, I just held my line and he crashed into me and hit the deck.  I just kept on cycling, hope he was ok.

I dug and finished the route and I’m so glad I did, the end in the stadium is amazing, again, like on the route there are fans in a day early cheering you on and all the other participants who have finished hang about to cheer people over the line.  You come into the stadium, just like you have seen on Eurosport and do a lap to the cheers of the spectators.  Some riders are waving, riding round no handed (not me after a previous incident in another event) and some go for a sprint finish but it’s a real festival atmosphere in which to finish.  The weather was great and it felt like a real achievement to have completed the route of one of my favourite races.  I really would recommend this event to anyone.


Just for information, if you ever do the event yourself, it doesn’t finish there.  The next day at the pro race, if you have completed the sportive and have your medal they have a special section in the centre of the velodrome for you with beer on tap and a perfect view of the end of the race.  Seeing the world champion ride into the stadium and hearing the roar of the crowd for him and the only rider able to hang onto him till the end just topped off a fantastic trip and I also picked up my souvenir cobble, just like Tom Boonens.


The miracle of all this was that from crossing the start line until the next day my back was cured, like Jesus curing a leper, Tom Boonen had cured my back!   A 17-hour bus journey put paid to this however and it was almost a month incorporating massive amounts of drugs and two trips to casualty before I could even sit on my bike again!   Worth every bit of pain, anyone up for Flanders next year?

 

Happy Rolling

Graham

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Want to get into the spirit of Paris Roubaix.  Come along and join us at the Canalside Pub And Grill and see the race hit the velodrome. What would Tom Boonen do?

 

 

Paris ROubaix

Latha Duncan – The Attorney

10 minute read

 Ten blocks of ice are attempting to make perfect circles in a jerky dissociation from my limbs as my motor functions rapidly slow with the wind chill.  A wind chill so fierce it will strip any remaining layers of dermis exposed.  Head down I advance, meter by meter, shielding myself from the whiplash and turbulence of passing vehicles.  Like an Olympic swimmer, I’m rhythmically twisting my head in search of pockets of life-supporting clean air to sook in.  Through the road spray, every breath is dual purpose- Filtration and oxygenation.  Car headlights are creating a dazzling, yet blinding ‘Aurora Crash-e-alas’  of flashes in my field of vision.  This is no longer about the journey.  This is purely about the destination.  A destination I eventually reach in a cold-suffering hypnotic daze.  A daze that I’m broken from by a single life-affirming question. That question ” What Ice Cream Cone would you like?” asked the Igloo Ice Cream Van Driver ‘two cones, One scoop each, both with Nutella drizzle please my man” I mutter without my lips or face moving.  I have twenty minutes before I undertake another Zwift training session and I have just made the perilous 50m expeditious winter journey from my front door to the parked ‘Igloo Ice cream Van’ down the street.  Yes, regardless of the weather this Ice cream van does the rounds in rain, hail, snow and on the odd occasion, in the sunshine. I might be racing the volcano circuit soon but the ice cream is for the kids..honest!  I trudge back to excited children, handing over their windswept and diluted ice cream, before disrobing the winter garb and heading to the man cave.

I would like to be outside riding my bike but yet another bad weather protocol has forced it indoors.  We are blessed with many things in Scotland but Winter riding is not one of them.  It generally veers from one extreme: Wrapped up like Scott of the Antarctic, to taps aff 1 stripped down to your bib shorts and heart rate monitor for another totally tropical turbo session.

I clip in and start my warm up. With the fan blasting my face and my better looking virtual avatar on a pootle around Central Park,  my mind inevitably wanders.  I look to the cocoon of four walls and dream about winter riding in the glorious sunshine.  As the clock counts down but my speed and heart rate picks up, I scroll my Strava feed to fire a few obligatory Kudos into the community.  Keep the motivational spirit strong before I start.   A logged ride piques my interest. The profile carries a  St Andrews flag.  The sun-kissed pictures capturing shore line’s and panoramas that are most definitely not Ayr beach but a portal into a beautiful parallel universe 5,126 miles away from here.  I need to know what this cycling winter wonderland is like.  Curiosity and the seed of an idea for a guest feature Q&A on the BCR takes hold. I decide to reach out to the Strava Athlete.  He may be on the other side of the world but nothing ventured nothing gained eh.  I receive some very’ good vibrations’ in return(couldn’t help myself with the beach boys nod and wink) and this is where our story takes flight across the Atlantic pond

Enter stage left Mr Latha Duncan.
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Latha hails from Beverly Hills where he lives with his Girlfriend and is of Scottish descent (gone yirself). He Studied Law and Political Science. When he is not cycling he is an Acquisitions Lawyer for Lionsgate, one of Hollywood’s major entertainment players.
He is a true force of nature in the Strava community with over 10K followers.  A benchmark many a world pro rider has yet to amass.   Latha is going to give us a little snapshot into his cycling life in and around The City of Angels.  Along the way, we dive into wine, music, his own cycling website and a surprise ride with Geraint Thomas current Tour De France Champion.

Grab a glass of the good stuff and get prepared for a healthy dose of Vitamin D with our Q&A With Latha Duncan. Continue reading “Latha Duncan – The Attorney”

Richard Moore – The Writer

It’s difficult to say when I first started listening to The Cycling Podcast.
I believe it was sometime around the 2014 Tour De France, which kicked off on the crowd-laden roads of Yorkshire, saw Chris Froome abandon on the cobbles of Northern France, and Vincenzo Nibali seal an easy win (he would be in yellow on all but two race days, and the gap to second place would be over 7 minutes) with victories on La Planche des Belles Filles, Chamrousse, and Hautacam.

If memory serves, it was part of a drive to immerse myself in the milieu of the race – to be surrounded by the noise, the stories, the chatter, and the behind-the-scenes info of the race itself – which caused me to look beyond what television could provide in its very action-centric coverage.
Podcasting, as a medium, although having been on the go for a number of years, was still somewhat niche, and far from the Joe Rogan-shaped, true-crime-drama filled behemoth it has now become.
The iTunes store was not exactly packed with options, so after a search for “cycling”, I just picked the first one that caught my eye.
It was a good thing I did because I’ve been hooked ever since.

Continue reading “Richard Moore – The Writer”

Aviemore 100 – The Morning After The Day Before

Sunday- The day after the day before

As I rouse, the legs are achy, the sunburned skin is as crisp as an overcooked Christmas Turkey and the liver…well, the liver should be pickled in a jar on a mad scientist’s laboratory shelf.

It’s the morning after the day before.  Where Derek, Mark, Sherpy and myself took part in the Aviemore 100. A day of mixed emotions and success. Continue reading “Aviemore 100 – The Morning After The Day Before”

Brian Smith. TV pundit and British Road Race Champion

Brian Smith – The Coach

He’s a former Olympic Athlete. He rode a Grand Tour(94 Giro). He’s been crowned British Road Race champion not once, but twice!  He has won races from as far afield as Tucson, Denmark, all the way to(wait for it) Girvan. As Director Sportive and General Manager, he nurtured a fledgeling World Pro tour team from contenders to multiple Grand Tour Stage wins.  You’ll see and hear him on Eurosport as ‘The Coach’. His commentary and analysis dissecting the strategies and moves often before they occur, thrusting us the viewers, straight into the pulsing heart and thrum of the peloton.

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The Coach

Ladies and Gentleman, Brian Smith. Grab a big bottle, pour a wee dram (or weapon of choice) and enjoy Brian’s life in cycling. Continue reading “Brian Smith – The Coach”

Time Trial

A long, pensive look from big, bloodshot eyes…
A deep, massaging stroke of a long, stubbly chin…
A tired, resigned loll of the head…
“Aahh, probably started in fucking 1994″…
A sardonic, chastening laugh, followed by a correction…
“…1992!”
A figure’s illuminated head and neck stands out starkly against a solid, black backdrop. A scene which looks interrogatory in nature, but has the tone of the therapists couch.
The figure is David Millar, professional cyclist since 1997. The topic of conversation is his entry in to the sport and his love for its biggest event.

Continue reading “Time Trial”

Finlay Pretsell – The Filmmaker

He’s a Producer.  He’s a Director. He’s a BAFTA award-winning Filmmaker.  He rode Mountain Bike for Scotland. He stood on the podium in National Cyclocross.  His award-winning short films span a myriad of diverse and fascinating subjects; Track Cyclist’s, Bench Press Champions, Prison hairdressers and Ballet slipper makers to name a few.   Ladies and Gentleman, without further ado, the incredibly talented – Finlay Pretsell.
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Grab your Popcorn, Nachos with plastic cheese, Plant pot Cola cup or alternatively, treat yourself to something a little stronger and enjoy our chat with Finlay.
We discuss his passion for cycling, movies and filmmaking process. Including his latest critically acclaimed feature cinema release  ‘Time Trial’. Featuring former Tour De France stage winner, Maillot Jaune holder and Scottish Cycling Legend David Millar

Continue reading “Finlay Pretsell – The Filmmaker”