Since releasing our ‘Designed by Demand’ menswear range in 2018, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing men benefiting from FINDRA designs and innovations. So for October’s Customer of the Month, we caught up with FINDRA customer, Chris Yeomans who waited very patiently for a Leithen after his wife found us first!
Chris finally gets his hands on a Leithen
My wife, Dawn, and I are very fortunate to live on a hill in Wales, so being outside is very much a part of every day life. Being surrounded by wildlife has become normal for us; we own a couple of acres and since I used to be a shepherd we now have a few sheep, and this year we had a pair of tawny owls nesting in the tree outside the kitchen window. I work from home which is brilliant, but we all need to have a reset button and for me that means getting on my bike and riding the lanes and hills of mid Wales.
Exploring the outdoors has always been part of my life. Holidaying with my family in the New Forest or camping with Scouts were my earliest experiences. Later with our own four children we spent many happy nights under canvas. One memorable year we managed to fit in over 50 nights, between March and October!
Our first night wild camping was on top of the Malvern hills; at the time Kerri, our youngest daughter, was 5 months old. We were prepared - we had a tiny sleeping bag for her - and it set her up with a love of the outdoors. She is 24 now and you will usually find her running the hills around her home.
Now the children have left home, Dawn and I take every opportunity to get on our bikes and discover a piece of Wales we haven’t seen before. Lately we have been wild camping as often as we can. When Dawn tells her friends I took her away for the weekend and we slept behind a hedge it raises a few eyebrows!
I find that even when I have had a difficult week or I am just tired , as soon as I am on my bike its like a switch is flipped and my whole being is lifted. Add in a bit of wild swimming and I feel completely re-energised.
Dawn bought her first FINDRA top at the Bespoke Bicycle show in 2017. We had gone there because I was thinking of taking up frame building; I had been a blacksmith for nearly thirty years and was ready for a change. I was really impressed with the quality of the FINDRA products, but also frustrated that they didn’t have a men's range at the time.
So I started the frame building but had to wait for my own Leithen Merino top. Now I wear it whenever I can, be it on a bike packing trip on the Trans Cambrian Way or down the pub with friends. First time out wearing my Leithen top on a bikepacking trip. I found that I was changing layers less than the others, whilst they kept putting on different tops I always seemed to be the right temperature. Even as it got dark and they put on wind chill layers I found I was still comfortable. My FINDRA socks had got a full on soaking earlier in the day due to a messed up river crossing, I rang them out and carried on, by the evening they were pretty much dry again. I wore them all weekend and they still felt great, didn’t smell but were a bit muddy.
So I have finished the Blacksmithing now and I am making bike frames full time. If I had to say what type of bikes I want to make, it would be ones for people to have their own adventures on, whether that is a Sunday road ride or week long off-road bike packing trip. It doesn’t matter so much as the enjoyment they will get from a bespoke fitted frame which will last far longer than the latest bike fashion.
See more of Chris's frame building over on his Instagram.