Nick Livermore explores the delights of Bristol’s famed cycling café, the Mud Dock Cycleworks, where you can buy a new bike, get it set up and enjoy a dark, flavoursome coffee all at once. Bliss.
Housed in an old dockside warehouse – now extended to include a modern workshop – the Mud Dock could scarcely be a more historical and picturesquely industrial setting in which to enjoy a strong, full-bodied pre-ride espresso or refreshing post-ride pint.
Based on the rustic, beautifully converted first floor, the café is decorated with wood throughout and furnished with glass-topped tables made using disused bike components and reclaimed chairs perforated with the letters ‘MD’. Hanging from the rafters? You guessed it; an old BMC, alongside countless old, interesting and well-ridden specimens. It certainly makes for a compelling start/finish line.
Whereas inside provides the perfect spot to warm up, discuss or catch up on some live or vintage racing on their wall-mounted screens, the large outside terrace is the perfect place to sip at one of the Mud Dock’s expertly made hot drinks, while making the most of a warm summer’s day.
Alongside a good selection of tea and flavoursome coffee is an offering of delightful pastries and cakes. Though I doubt the croissants or pain au chocolat are homemade – we’ll let them off there – they are of good quality, displayed well and served fresh as a daisy. A good kick-start to your ride the Mud Dock will provide.
Downstairs you’ll find the cycleworks, cycling shop and bike shed; a comprehensive offering indeed. Though not the focus of this review, I’ve heard very positive things about Mud Dock’s bike servicing and the shop is well stocked with a wide range of bikes and accessories, with brands like Trek, BMC, Cannondale, Bontrager, Assos, Giro, Continental and GoPro on offer.
Fancy something a bit more secure, or somewhere to store your bike on a daily basis? The bike shed service on offer here – including hanging space for your bike and a locker – starts from £2 per day (less if you book it in for a week, month or year). Need a shower? They’ve got that covered too…
Apart from sometimes being so crowded that service is occasionally a little slower than I’d like, the Mud Dock is a faultless choice when deciding where to start or end your ride. The coffee dark and complex, the pastries well-prepared and the beer refreshing – though their own-brand bitter isn’t my favourite – perhaps my only qualm is that there isn’t an identical café out there in the wilds at which to stop.
The Route – 30 Miles, 400m Climbing
Heading west out of Bristol through Long Ashton this route quickly overcomes its potholes, taking you on a tour of some of the area’s faster roads. Continuing on to Wraxall, along the slightly undulating B3130 you quickly reach Nailsea, before swiftly heading out to the north along to the never-ending Tickenham.
Just before reaching Clevedon, take a left along possibly the straightest road in the South West; toward the Hand Stadium. Change course at the crossroads and head left along Nailsea Wall, a great Strava segment to have a go at if that’s your sort of thing.
From here the route is incredibly simple, taking you straight up Brockley Combe; a gentle but long ascent. Continue past the airport – on your right – until you reach the busy A38. Taking care head left, but almost immediately turn off right and head down to Winford. Upon reaching Winford hang a left back in the direction of the A38.
Following signs for Barrow Gurney you’ll soon rejoin the B3130. Quickly take a right and follow the track back round to Long Ashton and home. If you’d rather avoid A roads, you can cut through Ashton Court and follow the marked bike paths all the way back to Bristol’s Mud Dock Café.