Saturday, 10 June 2017

Rapha Nocturne London 2017

Today was a day to remember for lots of reasons and the fact it was the 'Rapha Nocturne' and I was participating, certainly played a big part. This would be Nocturne #7 for your truly.

Setting off in good time in my full Orange Nocturne outfit and Orange Brompton through busy Saturday afternoon London streets certainly required a thickness of skin I can tell you! I had a couple of marriage proposals, a few people shouting out that I was gorgeous, that they loved the outfit, that I had brightened their day to people risking life and limb to take a selfie with me or ask...why?!

I had agreed to meet my friend and veteran of many a Nocturne Mark - King of the Hill near Barbican but I heard the familiar voice of Mark before I got there. We found  a suitable watering hole, sat down and chewed the fat for while.

As we weere sitting down a Penny Farthing rolled dow the street, closely followed by a chap on a riding his road bike with one hand while the other held on to a set of bike rollers! Only in London; only at the Nocturne!

Setting off before 16:00 and our registration we stopped to take a photo of our bikes in front of some sort of neon light. It looked pretty good.

On our way I saw 'Kai Wong' from DigitalRev and now doing his own thing. I was so happy to see him - as i love his videos - that I could not hide my enthusiasm. He was understandably a little taken aback by me in my Orangeness but we shook hands and I wished him well as did he with the race ahead. It later struck me that he may of thought I was being let out for the day as some sort of care in the community excursion!

Registration was quick and before we knew it were in Guildhall in the riders area. It was there that I saw my partner in crime Andrew who had sensibly come out to play. It was good to see him.

When registering we were given a 'Condor Cycles' bag containing a few bits and a water bottle. I made a mental note to use this bag every time I go shopping at Tesco until it falls apart.

Mark had brought mean of his fabled 'Beet It' shots. This was consumed almost exactly one hour before the race - as per the instructions.

With my Titanium Brompton sold I was down to one bike which was of course my trusty P-type. I put on some Kojak tyres and removed the mudguards - as that it what makes all the difference right - but kept everything else as normal.

With a riders wristband came the perk of a free Rapha espresso. Making our way to this I spied a JTL Condor trailer with Ed Clancy's Condor road bike. It dod look rather special!

Waiting in the queue for our espresso a DJ was pudding out all manner of sick beats to use common parlance.

The coffee machine was rather special as was emblazoned with the Rapha moniker everywhere. With our espresso in our hand we headed back to the the rider area and never did an espresso taste so good.

Joe from Brompton was sporting his two speed with an outrageous chainring. He would be quick on this for sure!

Andrew looked good in his usual yellow and black stripes and the pair of use were even interviewed on camera. I suspect the footage will go on the cutting room floor but it was nice to have about 2 minutes of fame.

It was great to meet lots of other Brompton riders, some of which were readers of this humble blog, although there has not been a great deal for a while.

Our time had come and the call was made for us to assemble. Mark looked nervous. I did not. There is of course a good reason for this. Mark is a contender and has placed very well in all the races he had entered. I have found myself respectfully placed in the lower down the batting order.

Drawing a number from a bag this signalled where ones bike would be placed own the grid. Looking for the corresponding number bikes then had to be folded and left while participants retreated to a suitable distance.

A gentleman should never run but I do make an exception for a sporting activity so when the countdown reached the point we ran like people possessed, I joined in and my gait - in SDP shoes - could be best described as mincing.

The race was certainly full on. I didn't get a wonderful start but knew that I would be able to make up a few places. The race was scheduled for 10 laps and I had to curb my enthusiasm in going too fast for the first couple of laps.

A few of the straights were brutal in terms of a strong headwind but I was carried along by a very enthusiastic crowd who gave me lots of encouragement as I cycled round as fast as I could. For some strange reason they seems to know that I was Mr Orange and shouted out lots of encouragement.

I don't know what lap if was but I saw a rider ahead who was roughly the same speed I was and wanted to cycle at. I decided to tail him and for several laps I did just that. The Terry Thomas in me came out on the last corner into the home straight as I overtook him and cycled furiously to the start/finish line about 200 metres away.

As we returned to the rider area the winners were announced and appeared on a big screen. Joe from Brompton placed second which was excellent.

Once recovered we headed out of the rider area to meet up with some familiar faces. We saw James, Alasdair, Chun-Han, Roger, Sam, Alex and the ever smiling Chris. It was lovely to see them all. Having to get back I said my goodbyes and as so often Andrew and I headed off. Hopefully there will be more adventures for the two of us in the very near future. Watch this space.

This Nocturne was perhaps my favourite of all the ones I have participated in. I really enjoyed it. Many thanks to the organisers for putting on a great event. I certainly want to be back next year!! Perhaps I should start the training now?

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Sadly no more St Crispin's Day Night Ride

This morning, thinking about some rides that might be coming up in the near future I had a look at the St Crispin's Day Night Ride site to discover some sad news.

The website states:


All goo things must come to an end and so it is with the St Crispin's Day Night Ride.

Commercial considerations and other business pressures mean we don't have the time to organise another event.

So although we've really enjoyed putting on the ride and we know from the feedback and meeting our entrants that they did too, thee won't be another.

The Minions and I would like to say a big thank you to all our loyal supporters and entrants. We loved meeting and laughing with you and to everyone who completed the Imperial Century. Chapeau!

Rob and the Minions!"

This really is a shame as it was a lovely event. I only managed to take part in it once. In 2015 I injured my hand a week before the event to had to pull out and last year the event was sadly cancelled due to low numbers.

Night rides are wonderful anyway but this one was particularly fun and made better by all my friends who took part.

Events like this must take a huge effort to organise and it is understandable that people with the commitment of full time jobs have to put that first.

It was a great concept and it would be great if some of my friends - who have more navigational prowess that yours truly - might consider putting on an unofficial version in its honour.

A big thank you to Rob and the Minions who were always friendly and enthusiastic about their special event.

Below is a link to my blog post a few years ago of the only like I managed to participate in this great little ride. Fond memories...

Link to my blog post

Monday, 8 May 2017

The Tweed Run 2017 on an Orange Brompton

Saturday, 6th May was 'Tweed Run' day and as I rose from my slumber,  I was filled with a sense of glee as said event is always guaranteed to put a smile on ones face.

Up and out bright and early I headed for the start point, Northampton Road in Clerkenwell. Cycling to/from the Tweed Run is in my opinion part of the fun as bemused members of the public speculate as to whether you are eccentric, part of a cult, an extra in a period drama or someone who is making good their escape from some sort of institution.

Consulting a map before heading out from near High Street Kensington I was rather proud to see the 'Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings' fall into view which meant I had made it the start point without a wrong turn.

The start

With a good few minutes to spare before the big off I decided to take lots of photos. As always the outfits were wonderful. I cannot imagine participating in one of the lengthy night rides to the coast in anything other than lycra-type material but I must stay everyone looked so much more elegant in their tweed!

Always happy at the Tweed Run

People in their finest outfits

The Tweed Run in case you are unaware is a metropolitan bicycle ride through London (although by popular demand they do similar events in different locations now) at a sedate pace and where participants where as much tweed as they can. Anything old fashioned is popular and I suspect many participants raided the wardrobes of their grandparents, searched the local charity shops or simply went out and bought something traditional.

There did seem to be loads of Brompton bicycles on this Tweed Run but of course there were some pretty fine classic brands and vintage bicycles on show.

The one thing that has been the same for all of the Tweed Run events I have been on is that there seems to be an even split of men and women. This is great as cycling events tend to be male dominated affairs. It was also lovely to see lots of children (many in great outfits) out with their parents.

Air kissing was the order of the day

There was definitely a buzz of anticipation in the air the closer we got to 11 a.m. which marked the start of the event. I spotted the familiar face of Bob - who looked very well - and we chewed the fat briefly. He was a Marshall so would be at the rear making sure everyone got through junctions safely - and knowing Bob, quickly!

At just after 11 a.m. I heard the booming voice of Bob telling everyone that we were off. The off was slow. Anyone thinking it would be quick was going to be disappointed. Getting about 1,000 cyclists through narrow streets is no mean feat. Everyone was in good spirits and chatted away to each other.

Lots of bells were dinged and horns were hooted as we made our way patiently to the open road. Periodically there was the sound of cheers in the distance and even bugles sounding out.

The Tweed Run rolls along at a sedate pace and I always think that this is best as it provides onlookers the chance to get out their phones and take photos / videos of all these cyclist going by.

While I stopped by the side of the road to take some photos and video I spotted some familiar faces who were taking the star of the Tweed Run, 'Gwyn' for a lovely day out. I heard Gwyn barking excitedly and saw that she was running alongside the bike.

Two gentlemen leaned out of their window as we stopped to regroup and could not quite take in what they were seeing.

"If I can make it in Londinium...I can make it anywhere!"

We stopped for tea at Saint Pancras Gardens. Somewhere in the gardens is a bench where in 1968, 'The Beetles' sat down during their 'Mad Day Out.' I could not find it however.

Tea for two?

I decided to take my Brompton today mainly as I knew it would be better in confined spaces and more manoeuvrable in traffic. I had fitted the new rear roller wheels a couple of days ago but have to report that they are coming off as soon as practically possible and Ezy Wheels going back on. The inside of both left and right cycle shoes caught these wheels and were ripped. Not impressed!

After about 30 minutes we exited the gardens and proceeded with out journey; almost through time.

As always the route on the Tweed Run was carefully thought out and took us on mainly quiet roads. When we did go on busier ones, there were so many of us together causing a visual commotion / spectacle, other road users just slowed down and joined in with taking photos and wishing us well.

The route

"What are you doing?" was the question that was asked most.

Many who replied were taken aback and couldn't respond with more than, "just cycling for the fun of it."

As we cycled along embankment I saw the London Eye and decided to take a side shot photo. I didn't really have much hope that it would be any good but it seems I had a shot in a million as the photo below is the one that came off the SD card. It was framed pretty well and quite level.

There were huge crowds on Westminster Bridge and people lined up to take photos or cheer us on. A group of cyclists coming the opposite way could do no more than smile confused at what they saw.

One chap who was obviously a press photographer was a little like Boudica on a chariot. Like many Iceni before him he negotiated the streets of Londinium quite skilfully.

We stopped at the Imperial War Museum for luncheon but knowing that I needed to make my way home I headed back. More strange looks and the grabbing of phones to take photos dominated my cycle home.

The Tweed Run is a wonderful event and I loved it. There is a huge mix of people attending. Some are not really cyclists and this event may represent their only foray into cycling. Others are hardcore and cycle every day. Some just like the idea of dressing up in period costume. Some like the attention it brings. Most, like me, enjoy the fact that they can cycle in a huge group, see London in all its glory and participate in an event that it totally unique.

Many thanks to the organisers and those who volunteered to be a Marshall and keep us safe and moving. If I am able to get a ticket next year I will be there and I am going to sort out a much better outfit just in case.

Link to my the video I made of the Tweed Run 2017