We talk bikes, time lapse video and find out just why the headline race this year is called the HSBC UK | Lobster Pictures Bristol Grand Prix with Robbie Allen, Managing Director of Bristol’s own Lobster Pictures.
Lobster Pictures is a world leader in high quality remote time lapse camera systems, delivering cost savings, PR material and stakeholder engagement — all in one package. They design, deploy and manage bespoke time lapse and monitoring cameras and software for large construction, engineering and architecture clients, working with some of the world’s biggest businesses from their offices located in Bristol’s historic and iconic Queens Square.
What do you love about riding in the South West?
The variety. Whether it’s a gentle potter down the Bristol-Bath cycle path with the kids, the mountain bike trails in Leigh Woods, a Sunday morning spin over the Severn Bridge to some mild Welsh mountains, or 25 miles around Bristol with my fellow MAMILs — the ‘Lanterne Rouge’ as we’re known, after the last-placed competitor in the Tour de France — there really is something for everyone. Plus, I grew up in Scotland and there’s a lot less rain here.
What do you ride?
For the daily commute — a HOY Shizuoka hybrid.
For fun — a Canyon Endurace Carbon Fibre SL, which weighs virtually nothing. Both have disc brakes, which still amaze me — there’s no going back to calipers!
What is your favourite ride?
At the moment, a 30-mile circuit: Bristol Saltford Pensford Chew Magna Bristol.
Special mention must go to the ‘Two Tunnels’ under Bath — they’re amazing, with atmospheric music and lights every hundred metres or so.
Tell us a bit about what you do?
At its simplest – Lobster Pictures makes time lapse for construction projects — so if you see a film of a building going up (or coming down), there’s a good chance it was us who captured and created it!
However, the cameras and software that we make do much more than ‘just’ time lapse; our viewer — Lobster Vision — is a monitoring tool, so people can log in and view and compare images to see progress, and download high-resolution images and a two minute automatically generated time lapse video of their project so far.
We work for a huge range of clients. In the week running up to the race we’re on an airport terminal roof, at Buckingham Palace and 40 storeys up a half-built skyscraper in London. We have to have every kind of safety training you can think of and more to do our work, and we’re proud to work for nearly all the big construction companies. We’ve installed and managed cameras all over the world, from Beijing to Bolivia and all points in between.
How has cycling and bike culture in Bristol improved?
The work that’s been done to make this a cycling city is astonishing. The council — backed by an enthusiastic population of cyclists — have done a lot (and continue to do so) to make the city centre accessible and safe by bike, though I think we should be a bit more pragmatic about motor vehicle access to the centre.
Without easy vehicle access, ‘maker’ companies like ours, who make things, as well as software and services — move out to more industrial areas. This risks the centre of our uniquely creative city being dominated by professional services and student accommodation. It’s a balance that other European cities — Amsterdam being an obvious choice — manage much better than we do.
The work that Sustrans — who have their Head Office here in Bristol — do, is amazing. From the Bristol-Bath shared path to initiatives all over the UK, they work really hard to get people out of cars and into healthier, more sustainable and less polluting modes of transport.
What are you looking forward to at the 2018 Bristol Grand Prix?
Mainly, the fact that everyone can join in — we all get to have a spin round a ‘professional’ track for the Let’s Ride event, which I’m really looking forward to, though I might not want to see my time!
The location of our office — the corner of Queen Square — is a great location, as it’s right between the ‘smooth’ road and the cobbles — so we’ll be out in force watching the riders navigating that tricky part of the course.
Can you explain your involvement with the GP?
We’re thrilled to be the headline sponsors for the 2018 Bristol Grand Prix. We’re sponsoring the men’s elite race, which will now have the catchy title of the HSBC UK | Lobster Pictures Bristol Grand Prix. We’re definitely a cycling company — with many keen cyclists in our ranks and a good handful of us cycling to work each day.
When we entered the BID competition to win sponsorship for the race, we never thought for a second we’d win… so when we found out we had, we were delighted. To enter, we suggested our cycling dream team.
As you may have guessed, we are proud of our wonderful city, so we felt it was only right to have a Bristol slant to our dream team:
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
As a company who provides time lapse monitoring to the construction industry, it would be fair to say Isambard is a bit of a hero of ours. We’re not 100% sure how aerodynamic that tall hat of his would be, but at least he would be able to fix anything that went wrong with the bikes.
Wallace and Gromit (on a tandem)
Even a great team needs motivation, and these two would have us chuckling along during the long hours of training. We’d probably have to sort out that green knitted pullover though, it doesn’t look like it would do a good job of wicking moisture.
Let’s be honest — we’re pretty sure we’d be lagging behind the main pack after our first two riders have finished fixing components and eating cheese respectively, so we need someone to make up time… and fast. Who better than World Record holder Fred Rompelberg to close the gap, whistle past the frontrunners at break-neck speed (166.9mph to be exact) and take us to victory.
The HSBC UK | Lobster Pictures Bristol Grand Prix is the headline race at this year’s all day festival of cycling. The race begins at 10:30am.