Saturday, 3 September 2016

Top 10 signs that you are a road bike fan boy/girl

I have owned a Brompton - more than one in fact - for several years now and I am sure you are aware I have dipped my toe into the bathwater that is road bikes. Now displaying a few of the following doesn't necessarily mean your are a complete road bike fan boy as far as road bikes are concerned, but the more you have, the higher your score on the fan boy scale.

#1 Fashion

Let's face it, cycling can be expensive. If you have spent a wad load on you bike and general cycling paraphernalia the amount of disposable income you have for normal day to day clothes might just suffer. The pursuit of owning a particular brand of cycling jersey, or bib shorts has meant you care more about looking good on the bike than you do when not on the bike.

Another worrying trend is the quite terrible affliction that causes you to actually wear items of cycling apparel recreationally - cycling caps, king of the mountain get the idea.

#2 Talking too much about cycling

With your new road bike you might just start to talk a little too much about cycling. When asked at for example work what you are doing or what you did at the weekend, you find yourself providing a substantial recount of your cycling event, route and how many miles you did. Heaven forbid you might even mention things like cadence.

In polite conversation you might steer the conversation towards the above so that you can again, talk about cycling.

#3 Online

You find your internet habits are ones that are dominated by cycling. You are on forums, cycling retailers looking at more cycling gear and even looking at cycling videos on YouTube of people ascending the Aple d'Huez or descending a perilous narrow knife-edge track in Bolivia!

#4 Treating your bike gear like a small child

You find that a speck of dust or bead of water almost induces a panic attack. A box of cleaning products are out as soon as humanly possible in order to polish, clean and make sure your precious bike, cassette, drive chain and wheels are spotlessly clean.

#5 Other embrace the fact you are into cycling

If #2 is taking place it won't be long until others notice you are into cycling. When it is your birthday or Christmas you get cycling themed cards or presents.

#6 Bib shorts

Now that you are a proper cyclist on a proper bicycle you ditch the waist cycling shorts you used to use and invest in pair of bib shorts. Standing in the mirror in perhaps the most unflattering of tight fitting garments, resembling a wrestler from the 1970's you care not a jot! This is what the professionals wear and if it is good enough for them... The terrible thing is actually wearing bib shorts and jersey for a short cycle down the road for a pint of milk.

#7 Farmers tan

If #6 is taking place in the summer months you will develop a farmers tan. lifting up the tight line of your bib shorts you will notice a contract between a tanned thigh and one that Elizabeth I would have been proud of. A similar contrast awaits you when you lift the sleeve of your jersey.

#8 Cycling cafes

Via #3 you have probably found a range of cycle friendly cafes with the words veto, pedal, lock, cycle in the name. While there you partake in latte and espresso and perhaps an almond croissant. Sadly, there isn't always a cycle cafe where you want it and you try to convince yourself that in selling coffee 'Greggs' and 'Wenzel's' are sort of cycling cafes!

#9 Clubs and sportive

It isn't good enough that you own a gleaming road bike. Soon thoughts turn to joining a club. Before that though you enter a sportive and/or charity ride which allows numbers 2, 3, 6 and 7 to run wild.

#10 You need to cycle

You pretend to be interested in doing other pursuits but really you are in fact thinking about cycling and where you might go next. Cycling is addictive and is good for the mind, body and soul and you cannot wait for your next big ride.

Friday, 2 September 2016

High view of London

This morning I was rather pleased to have the opportunity to get some birds eye views of London. The one thing I was not so pleased about was having to cycle on my beloved P-type Brompton to an underground station and get the tube.

The journey was hellish. If you have ready my blog, you will already know I hate the tube - mainly as I am not too good if the tube gets really busy. I remarked that the standard to attire for the city gentleman has slackened somewhat since I had to endure the square mile when I worked there well over 20 years ago. The order of the day was shiny and skinny suits that rendered the wearer an estate agent look.

Where I was going my Brompton was not allowed and not wanting to do the crazy thing of locking it up somewhere, I asked a favour of an old friend who lives in Barbican whether I could leave my Brompton there until I returned. Thankfully he agreed.

The first building I always try and take a few photos of is 30, St Mary Axe - commonly known as the Gherkin. This iconic building is where some of my fellow Bromptonians go for a meal now and then. The architects were Foster and Partners and even though it was opened in 2004 it still remains fresh to my eyes.

The much loved Gherkin 

Barbican Towers where my beloved Brompton was sitting waiting for my return

Looking towards St. Paul's Cathedral I could just about see some tourists on the outside of the dome getting a different but equally impressive view of London.

The Thames and St. Paul's Cathedral

Lots more people were getting good views from 20 Fenchurch Street or The Walkie-talkie as it is commonly known.

My view is better as I am not looking through glass

You can gain access to its Sky Garden for free by booking a ticket in advance. Well worth doing and I aim to do so after dark at some point in the future.

The BT Tower, a building completed in 1964 used to have a restaurant that rotated. Sadly this is no longer open to the public and plans to open its rotating restaurant - although being muted a few times - has not come to anything. A shame really.

The Shard, the tallest building in the UK and fourth tallest in Europe dominates the London skyline for miles. There is paid public access to the viewing platform for around £30. I did this not long after it opened to the public and found the whole thing a little bit theme park. In addition, despite my best efforts, I still don't really like it and for reasons I cannot explain just regard it as tacky.

A panorama

After a few hours of happy viewing and many more photos than I dare to include on this blog, it was time to leave. I retrieved my Brompton from my friends abode and knew that I had to take the tube for at least part of my journey back.

The joy of having a Brompton is that when things get too busy for me, I simply get off and cycle the rest. It is one of the best things about owning one. I cannot tell you how many times I have done this or decided that things are too busy and just cycled the long way home.

In case you are wondering I took these photos with my GH4 and its 14-140mm lens. The panorama was with my iPhone SE.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Best cycle friendly cafe ever...shuush!

Being a lovely sunny morning and having an errand to attend to near an old haunt, I took my trusty P Type Orange Brompton for a little multi-modal travel. With my errand completed and feeling I needed the reward of a cup of tea I was about to look for one of the high street brand names where one can buy such an item. In doing so, I stumbled across perhaps the best cycle friendly cafe, bar none!

The cafe in question was an independent family owned and staffed affair and although not one of the trendy cycle-specific types, was more than happy for me to bring my Brompton in. Inside I was greeted by friendly staff and a section of cakes I was informed, all home made.

I ordered a slice of pavlova, the size and quality of which was impressive. This was washed down with several cups of tea from a pot that sat happily on my small table. The cafe was quite busy despite it being 10:03 on a Tuesday morning.

I should tell you where it is. I should tell you its name. I should do all these things...but I won't. For the moment at least I am like Howard Carter upon discovering the steps leading down to the tomb of Tutankhamun's, covering them up again so that his benefactor Lord Carnarvon could see them a few weeks later.

In a few weeks I will almost certainly reveal to the world - or London - the name and location of this oasis but for the meantime I will just have to keep it to myself.