Tuesday 31 May 2011

Brompton back from being serviced.

My Brompton was actually ready for collection late yesterday afternoon but I was unable to collect it from the Specialized Concept Shop in London.

I collected it first thing this morning and they did a really good job. I have an ML6 and I had noticed that the gear change was a little sluggish. When I gave it a test run all was perfect with an almost instantaneous change. In addition the seat pillar was sticky but it now glides up and down with ease.

Many people think that Specialized shops cater for racing road bikes or serious off road mountain bikes. They are also Brompton sellers and you can get your bike serviced there. The good thing is that being an authorised Brompton seller/service centre, they carry a good range of Brompton spare parts meaning most repairs can be carried out swiftly.

Tomorrow will be my first time out on my Brompton since the BWC launch event. I will be testing my new cargo cycling shorts and only hope that I have recovered enough to enjoy my newly serviced folding wonder.

Sent from my BlackBerry

Sunday 29 May 2011

Servicing my Orange Brompton

It has come to that time of the year where my beloved Brompton has had to go in for its six month service.

My Brompton has only ever had this once and that was its first 100 mile service when it was brand new. This is for real.

I took my bike to a Specialized shop in central London and the man there said that it was very clean. I said that I liked to keep it that way. For £40 they will tighten all the important bits, oil and grease where necessary, clean the chain and tighten any cables that might have become lose over the months. I'll let you know how it went once I get it back in a couple of days. I would like to one day be in a position to do some of this myself. I will have to take a Brompton maintenance course run by one of the bike shops in London.

While there I saw a few other Brompton's that must have been booked in for a service. One was that pale blue colour with black extremities. I think if I were to do it all again that colour combination might appear on my shortlist.

By the time I get my Brompton back I should be able to start riding again - something I have missed greatly. I have also managed to get a pair of cargo shorts that look like cargo shorts, have the cut of a pair of cargo shorts and to the causal observer are a pair of cargo shorts. They are however devilishly clever has they have a gel pack lining thus padding all the important vulnerable areas. They also don't look like baboons bottom which is so common in many cycling shorts I have seen.

I am going to have to get some serious training in for the BWC's. I have quite a short route to work of about 4 miles there and back, so I need to start putting in the miles. So, should you see an Orange Brompton in Central London, it just might be me.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

A new addiction BlackBerry?

Like many of you out there I have been a massive fan of the iPhone. In fact I am also an even bigger fan of my iMac, MacBook Pro and iPod. I have been straying recently however.

Readers of my blog will already know that I purchased an ageing BlackBerry Bold 9000 as I wanted to use it for all my worked related stuff and have the iPhone for fun and general larkiness. Of late I have been becoming rather attached to my BlackBerry.
I love the almost instantly received emails. I love the physical keyboard for typing out longer emails. I love the little leather wallet it comes in. In short I am sending more and more emails via it, than my iPhone. Have I turned to the dark side? Am I bordering on, CrackBerry status?

The battery life on this particular phone is shocking. The BlackBerry app store compared to that of Apple or Android is like something 6th formers at a local comprehensive did as a practical pleaseantry in ICT. Don't get me started about using one to search the internet! Not to put too fine a point on it - it's pants.

None of that really matters. BlackBerry phones work well and with an iPhone in one pocket and a BlackBerry in the other I can have the best of both worlds...can't I? What do you out there think?

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Cargo shorts made for Brompton riding???

I ventured into a Specialized Concept Store today. I have been to this establishment before when I was toying with the idea of a Brompton. At that time I was focused wholly on the joy that is the folding wonder and didn't pay much attention to anything else.

Looking at some of the price tags I was amazed by what I saw. £2500 seemed mid-range for the arse up, head down jobs. I know what some you might be thinking as I was - I could buy 2 x titanium Brompton's or my favourite colours in the steel variety.

The real reason I had gone there today was to find a pair of cargo shorts that has the padding on the inside, thus not showing the gel pack and baboons bum, as I call it. I am beginning to think this might be the Holy Grail as I have yet to find anything vaguely urban.

The pair I bought for the BWC Launch ride are not to put too fine a point on it, rubbish. Perhaps those of you in the know could offer suggestions.

Monday 23 May 2011

Customise your Brompton.

This morning I spotted a Brompton folded and locked to a bike rack outside a tube station. So what I hear you ask?

Well this particular Brompton had been heavily customised by the owner. Everything and I mean everything was black. Mud guards, wheel rims, peddles, mud guards, rack, handle bars (which were the S type) and seat pillar.

I didn't have a phone with me so couldn't take a picture but I suspect the owner might park there as part of their commute. (At least I hope they do as I want to get some pics).

Those of you at the BWC Launch Event might have seen the Brompton with the wooden mud guards. It's great that people do this as it really personalises an already bespoke bike even further.
So far the extent of my customisation is changing to a Brooks saddle. What about you out there. How have you customised your Brompton?

I will be at the tube station in question Friday so I will make sure I have my phone and try and get some pics.

Dress Code on a Brompton

I am quite happily on the mend but my attention has turned to my Brompton and lack of use. I am probably 10 days away from returning to the saddle and it cannot come quick enough I can tell you.
My attention has been drawn to the Brompton World Championships and more importantly, what to wear? The rules are quite simple. Jacket/blazer, shirt, tie and helmet.

I throw the floor open to you good people in internet land and would ask the question, what would you wear? Any suggestions would be very welcome and I may even consider them.

I am now off to purchase a better chair for my office at home as my current one is one of those hard ones from Ikea. In my current condition I have to employ the services of several cushions. This is okay but I find myself sitting a foot higher than I'd like!


Saturday 21 May 2011

Getting Better Military Style?

You will be happy to know that I am gradually getting better. I still walk with a slight limp which has caused some embarrassment.

Yesterday some work colleagues took me out for luncheon. Wanting to get back on my feet ASAP I decided to place the food order at the bar. I limped over and placed my order.

While doing this an older gentlemen engaged me in conversation. He asked how long it was until I was fully recovered. I said at least another 4-5 weeks. This gentlemen then proceeded to try and buy me a pint. I said thanks and explained that I didn't drink. I thanked him and returned to my colleagues wondering why he wanted to do this?

Later one of my colleagues was ordering an extra food and it transpired that the gentlemen had thought that my limp must surely have meant that I had recently come back from Iraq or Afghanistan minus a leg! I mean really. My colleague didn't embarrass the gentleman or me by revealing the truth as I limped out of the establishment.


Wednesday 18 May 2011

Vasectomy on a Brompton

The weekend was wonderful. Saturday was the launch event of the Brompton World Championships and as you can read on my previous blog entry, I loved it. How different a few days can make. Looking back the event on Saturday was almost like a last meal before a terrible fate. This terrible fate happened on Monday. Those of a nervous or squeamish disposition my want to give what will follow a miss. You have been warned.

My 40th was not too long ago. I have been happily married for 15 years and have two lovely children. We tried for a third but sadly it wasn't to be. Partly because of this my wife and I decided that a vasectomy was the easiest option as we didn't want to go through it all again. Mine was booked for Monday.

I Bromptoned to the tube, took the tube and then Bromptoned to the location where the vasectomy was to be carried out. There I met my father in law who had driven up and put my beloved Brompton in the boot of his car and drove off to find a suitable parking space.

I noticed that the location where my vasectomy was to be carried out was also a STD clinic. This induced me to speak louder than I normally would and state to the receptionist that I was here for a vasectomy hoping this would convey I was not connected with anything STD!

I waited for a very short amount of time and was shown to the vasectomy waiting area that contained lots of what can only be described as sun loungers with large blue towels on them. There my blood pressure and pulse was taken. I had to fill in a few form and given a brown bag that contained information and a number of sample kits that I would later send things off to be tested. I was very jovial and greeted everyone with a, 'what ho.'

There was only one other door in the room and I presumed it was the door to the place of execution. I was right as I saw a man walk out with a nurse to help him. It was at this point that I began to feel slightly worried as the man in question had the stride pattern of John Wayne about him or at the very least someone from Texas. He gingerly got himself onto the sun lounger and proceeded to say that he felt faint. A nurse with a quick pull of a lever sent the feet end of the sun lounger skyward and the last I saw of this poor chap was his feet. It was then a nurse called my name...

I was taken through the door of certain doom but to my surprise I came to a very small room 6 foot sqaure and told to take my shoes off. My quip that I would like to go out with my shoes on, fell on deaf ears. Shoes off I went through the real door or doom.

Normally the first thing I say to someone is, 'What ho,' or just a plain old, 'Hello. How do you do?' The doctor took one look at me, told me that his name was Kenneth and that I needed to pull my cargo shorts and pants down to my ankles and lie down on the bed. At least he had the decency to tell me his name. I suppose in this day and age people are quite familiar with each other.

I did what he said. He prodded around, told me that he was going to numb the area and that there was going to be, 'a small prick.' (I suspect this was a particular favourite statement of Kenneth's). Kenneth then started to chat for England. Within the next minute or so he chatted away and had asked me what I did for a living. He asked what made me want to do this job? I answered. There was then a slight lull in the conversation so I said, 'So Kenneth, what made you want to do this for a living?' After this I did not hear another word out of Kenneth for a while.

Kenneth started to prod around asking me it I could feel anything. I couldn't, thankfully. He then started the procedure. Even though I felt nothing I knew full well what was going on and started to feel light headed. Within a few minutes it was all over. Whilst still on the bed, Kenneth told me to get up slowly and pull my pants right up, so to aid support. Walking out to the small room I carefully and slowly put on my trainers and was led to the sun lounger. I felt I walked like Clint Eastwood rather than John Wayne and was quite please as I always liked westerns that he was in.

Soon a nurse presented me with a cup of tea and a packet of custard creams. A further two cups of tea and some ginger nuts later, I was still waiting for my father in law to collect me. The waiting area was starting to fill up and needing some fresh air I decided to give up my seat. Like Captain Lawrence Oates I said my goodbyes and said that I may be some time. Clutching my brown paper bag I headed out into the fresh air. This proved to be a mistake.

Standing was not the best of things to do. I saw a wooden bench not too far away but felt that I wouldn't make it. I ended up leaning on a lamppost to support myself. Eventually my father in law arrived. I boarded and was whisked home.

At home I received very little in the way of compassion, sympathy or understanding. From friends I received even less. Visitors came trying to hide their smiles, while other openly found the tale I retell here hilarious. I retrieved a bag of frozen peas and placed them on, as a close friend commented my crown jewels - for obvious reasons and sat there saying whoa is me! If my crown jewels had of been real I would have been a wealthy man as they had more than doubled in size!

Tomorrow I return to work. This may prove to be difficult as I still walk with a limp. I only hope that things calm down and that I can resume riding my Brompton. For the moment however getting on my beloved Brompton is something I definitely can't do!

Saturday 14 May 2011

Launch Event BWC on an Orange Brompton

Today like many of you fellow Bromptoneers I attended the Launch Event of the Brompton World Championships.

Last night I had made last minute preparations by pumping up the tyres and applying a thin coat of oil to the chain. I was excited! So excited that I bought a pair of those shorts with a gel pack that I think make ones posterior end look like a baboons bottom on a David Attenborough programme. I wore a pair of cargo shorts over the top of them. I mean, I couldn't be seen so close to home wearing, them!

This morning I made the short cycle ride from my house to the steps in front of the Duke of York memorial, leading to The Mall. There were only a few of us there initially but there was an aroma of anticipation.

Black and white, apart from my Orange Brompton
We registered and were all given yellow wrist bands not that dissimilar to those given out during my clubbing days. We waited.

The waiting

We caused quite a stir with tourists, who didn't know what to make of it all?

I saw 'Cycling in heels' whom I recognised by her feet. I wasn't brave enough to go over and say hello or that I was, 'My Orange Brompton' sadly. Maybe next time.

With near military precision we were given our marching orders and then we crossed The Mall and headed towards Buckingham Palace.

The off!
The general feeling of loveliness of cycling on-masse with over 100 Brompton riders cannot be underestimated. Brompton staff did an excellent job of marshalling the entire route which made the whole experience a relaxing amble through London.

As we passed Buckingham Palace tourists lined the streets trying to get a glimpse of the changing of the guard. The sight of us cycling through must have been a sight to behold, as many directed their attention at us. (Surely all Brompton owners are closet exhibitionists?)

Brompton Cemetery 
We moved to Brompton Cemetery for a short break and to allow those straggling at the back to catch up with the front of the pack and then over Putney Bridge.

Putney Bridge

As we rode adjacent to the Thames we saw all number of rowers either on the water or getting ready to do so. As we rode past we saw lots of cyclists either on Boris Bikes or their own. I felt sorry for them as they weren't part of the club. They weren't part of the fun. Dare I say it, they seemed a little dull by comparison?

The river Thames.  Lots of rowers out this morning

The sheer number of colours and colour combinations of Brompton Bikes and their riders amazed even me. I thought that this pink lady was very well colour coordinated. I could be wrong but I think she even had a matching iPhone cover?

A very fetching pink

Eventually we arrive at the sight of almost pilgrimage and more importantly the smell of freshly cooked food and the sound of very good live music! The food was excellent. I had bean rice, jerk chicken and a rather tasty curry.

The shrine for all Bromptoneers!

I was worried about parking my bike as I had brought my lock but forgot the key! I didn't have to worry as a number was stuck to the bike and I was then given the same ticket number to look after. The amount of bikes in the parking area must have been worth thousands but I was more impressed by the colours. Don't they look great!

What colour are you?  Can you spot my Brompton??

Food eaten, we chewed the fat for a while before being allowed in to the factory itself. The staff were very friendly and enthusiastic and only too happy to tell Brompton Geeks about how their bikes were made.

Any questions?

I had a great day! The bikes were good. The company even better and Brompton knows how to organise a great day. I left feeling even more enthusiastic about Brompton Bikes and wanted another. Perhaps that is sort of the idea? Either way many thanks to Brompton and all the staff who helped out today. It was much appreciated. Going to have to start training for the BWC in August!

BWC 2011 Launch Event

I am here. Lots of orange Brompton's here. Wonderful sight.

Looking forward to this. Should be good.

More later.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday 8 May 2011

S95 or LX5?

All you photography sorts out there, I need some help.

I have been carting around my trusty Canon G11 for a while but it is rather bulky and I am looking for something as good but more portable.

I have narrowed things down to two contenders. The S95 which is very small and looks brill and the LX5.

Which should I go for? Any advice from people who actually have one would be great.

Lamy safari Fountain Pen Aquamarine

I managed to get hold of a new Lamy safari Fountain Pen in glorious Aquamarine. This is a special edition colour and will only be available for a limited run.

I absolutely love Lamy Safari pens! They are virtually indestructible and although meant as a child's pen, they are more commonly seen in the hands of bigger children - if you know what I mean.

My favourite colour has of course always been the orange version but I have to say this new colour looks so good I have changed my mind.

I have pens that cost over £200 from such names as Pelikan, Mont blanc and Duofold but compared to the humble Safari they are, well, boring.

The other really good thing about these Lamy pens is that if you get fed up with a particular nib width you can choose from lots of different types and fit it yourself in less than 30 seconds. In addition they only cost about £4.

Lamy Safari fountain pens, ball pens and pencils are available at most high street stationers and specialist pen shops. Definitely give them a try. You're sure to find one that colour coordinates your Brompton or whatever else you're wearing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday 5 May 2011

What to wear at the Brompton World Championships???

I have been quite busy recently trying to get the odd sponsor for when I ride at the, Brompton World Championships later this year. So far I have amassed slightly over £140 which I am really pleased with. I will be riding for Breast Cancer Care and hope to raise a great deal more by the time I actually ride.

It has been rather chilly in the mornings in London and my normal attire of shirt and tie wasn't keeping the cold out. This morning I put on a jacket and thought that this would be pretty good prep for the BWC as one has to wear a jacket during the race.

I found that as far as aerodynamics were concerned, centre button definitely needs to be be fastened, otherwise everything is flapping about like a tent.

One other item of clothing required at the BWC is a tie. Now this does pose quite a few questions. Should I wear my old school tie? University college tie? MCC tie (part of which matched the orange on my beloved Brompton)? Old regimental tie? Decisions, decisions??? Perhaps one of you out there could provide your thoughts on this matter.

Talking of you out there, I now have 6 followers!! I am rather excited at this. Who knows if I keep this up I might even get to 10.

I will be making a more concerted effort to update my blog with posts on a more regular basis, but as I am is the case for many of you, work doesn't allow at the moment!