Saturday 30 June 2012

200th post - A Brompton Transformation

iCrazyBee has recently posted on his blog some innuendo about possible customisations for his already wonderful Brompton.

I can reveal here that I too have been busy behind the scenes with something I feel could be quite exciting. Unique even.

All I can say is that it has nothing to do with the customisation of the two Brompton bikes I already own. Regular readers of this blog will know that i favour keeping things original.

No. What I plan is something quite special with a third Brompton yet to be acquired. If I go ahead with what I plan it will be the start of 2013 or slightly beyond. It will involve the United States of America and the Brompton I might eventually have will be spectacular.

I cannot say more...yet!

Farewell to my Sunday School Teacher

Today I heard the sad news that my old Sunday School Teacher passed away and I felt compelled to write something about her.

Firstly, I must state that my relationship with Church and religion is fairly lapsed but there was a time when I attended a local Church almost every week.

The area of London I lived in was fairly affluent some 40 years ago and has become more so as the years have gone by. It had the distinction of having a large Afro-Caribbean community and as such was a vibrant and interesting place to grow up in.

My Sunday School Teacher, who I will call Mrs G was from Jamaica and had come to England in the 1950's I think. She was a wonderful lady. Despite not having a great deal of formal education, I can tell you that Oxford and Cambridge theologians could have come to Mrs G for advice about the Bible. She was a very clever lady and didn't stand for much nonsense.

Her Sunday School was fun and interesting and looking back I wish I had appreciated it more. It was certainly more interesting than the service that droned on when the Sunday School departed to their classroom after the second hymn!

At the Sunday School I was the only white child and was not made to feel different or excluded in any way. It was perhaps the simple belief of Mrs G's that we were all God's children that helped me to view my fellow man as just that, without the first thinking of race, creed or colour.

My fondest memories of Mrs G was when we had Church Fetes or special evenings. At these Mrs G would entertain us with songs from the Caribbean and if we were very lucky the chance to sample some Caribbean cooking.

To my shame I hadn't spoken to Mrs G since heading off to university a long time ago. I have however thought of her from time to time and always had fond memories of attending Sunday School. Finding out that she has passed on took me on a journey back into the past. My past.  If there is a Heaven, I suspect Mrs G is making it a much more vibrant and interesting place to be, bossing everyone around and welcomed with open arms.

Monday 25 June 2012


I really must stop this but over 32,000 page views! Right not another peep about numbers until 40,000...promise!

GoPro Hero 2

I managed to get hold of a GoPro Hero 2 about two weeks ago. This is a piece of equipment I have coveted from afar for some time. I have finally got one.

The first thing to notice is how small it is. The actual camera sits in a clear, waterproof case and can be mounted to just about anything. I went for the outdoor edition which gives you lots of mounts and a strap that can be attached to cycle helmets. (I bet you can guess what it's will be used for)!

The camera can shoot in lots and lots of different modes and qualities. 1080p at 30 fps. It can even shoot at 160 fps so that you can replay later in glorious slow motion. (I was bursting balloons filled with water).

One of the more interesting modes is the time lapse. With this you can set the GoPro to shoot a photo at 11 megapixels every 10, 30 seconds etc. Great for then joining together and watching the world go by.

I took the GoPro to the Nocturne and filmed my races. The results were really good but positioning meant that I didn't capture the angle I wold have liked. The addition of a small LCD screen eradicates this problem.

So far It it early days but I absolutely love it. Customer service is excellent too. I broke the battery door two hours after I opened the box (all my own fault). I emailed GoPro in America and received a new one in the post 5 days later!

At some point I will post a few videos for you to have a look at. For me though I think it is brilliant.

Turning a M-Type into an S-Type

As you know I have an S2L and an M6L. I have recently been toying with the idea of turning my Orange M-Type into an S-Type.

This is something I have thought of before but this time my thoughts are more serious. All it would take it the S-Type stem, flat handlebar, grips and maybe new cabling.

Since buying an S-type I have enjoyed the ride more and more. I have taken my S-Type on several longer rides and find it comfortable and responsive. Would my beloved Orange Brompton have a new lease of life in a different form?

I will give the matter more considered thought but if I do decide to do this it might be the Orange Brompton that goes to the BWC with 6x gears in its S-Type livery?

London Velonotte

On Saturday night I participated in the first London Velonotte. This is a bicycle ride with a difference. The difference is it is at night and it focuses on the architecture you pass along route.

The event started at 23:30 and participants assembled at Brushfield Street near Spitalfields Market. I was late! For some reason my iPhone took me to Smithfield Market and I relived part of the route of the IG Nocturne before heading to the correct location. iCrazyBee was also attending and I fired off a text to say I'd be late.

Luckily they didn't start going going just after midnight and consequently I just about made it. iCrazyBee greeted me and took it very well when I realised that I had forgotten to bring some tyres I had promised him.

The weather was terrible the whole night and early morning! A constant drizzle and heavier rain now and then. Even with waterproofs I did get a little wet in places and made a mental note to self that I must buy some newer wet weather gear!

We cycled at a fairly sedate pace, passing people who were either ending a night out or just about to start. It seemed every where we went the mass of cyclists taking part created a traffic jam. some onlookers and motorists viewed the sight of dozens of cyclists happily travelling in the rain with amusement or curiosity. Others found us a great inconvenience and angrily hooted their horns or reported to a verbal tirade at anyone they thought as listening.

Participants were asked to bring a radio as there was a broadcast to coincide with the Velonotte. I didn't bring one but lots of riders had theirs on speaker so that the lazy amount us cold listen to the commentary about the locations we had stopped at.

Quite a bit the route took us along narrow toll paths along the Grand Union Canal (I think). I must confess to hating cycling anywhere near water. I hate it during the day but doing so at night certainly concentrated my mind and banished any thoughts of tiredness!

Eventually we reached Canary Wharf and had the chance to rest. The Trinity Laben String Orchestra played for 50 minutes and were pretty good.

For some reason I had got it in to my head that we would also get a cream tea at dawn? The cream tea must have been a figment of my imagination as there wasn't so much of a cup of tea let along anything else. I was glad that I brought some of the Red Bull I had got when doing the Nocturne.

At about 05:30ish we left and iCrazyBee said our goodbyes until next time. The Velonotte was a very interesting event. I suspect better weather would have brought out many more cyclists rather than the truly hardcore or mad who laughed in the face of over four hours of contact rain!

I managed to cycle back to central London within 50 minutes after a few wrong turns. Going through Canary Wharf made me think that it might be a good location to return in order to take photos.

Would I do this again? I suspect I will probably do this all again next year - if it is on but hope for better weather.

Monday 11 June 2012

Small wheels, big difference

It is only a few days before the Small wheels, big difference team embark n their epic journey - on Brompton folding bikes - from Lands End to John O'Groats.

Please pay a visit to their website where you can read about how it all started and all the adventures they have been on in the build up to what will surely be a demanding few weeks.

If you can, please make a donation to help them achieve their goal of raising £50,000 for three great charities!

Sunday 10 June 2012

30,000 page views!

I will have to stop keeping an eye on this but 30,000 page views!

The IG Nocturne on a Brompton

Yesterday I took part in my first IG Nocturne. It was quite a day!

I was up early and already excited at the prospect of racing a Brompton. With a good breakfast of porridge, poached eggs, a banana and lots of water I felt fuelled up.

I decided to take my Raw S2L instead of my Orange M6L and I am glad that I did but more of that later. I did pay some homage to my beloved Orange Brompton with some orange accessories.

Heading off perhaps earlier than I needed to I made my way to Smithfield Market and signed in at the registration tent. With that done I was allowed inside the rider area. In here there were all sorts of bikes and riders. Brompton, other folders (not as good of course), penny farthings and out and out road bikes.

The "Brompton Team' were out in force in their burgundy blazers with Brompton livery. They meant business and for my money looked a great deal more formidable that other manufacturers.

It was great in the riders area as I got to speak to lots of other riders entered in the folding bike race. Some like me had not done this race before. Some were just out to enjoy themselves. One chap had bought a black S2L Brompton that very morning, just to compete. There were of course those who were very serious and intent on getting through to the final.

This artist was really talented and he sketched a furious pace!
 The penny farthing race was a sight to behold. I have of course seen them ridden on the Tweed Run but not as this ferocity. They raced for 30 minutes and I was out of breath just watching. The winner was an American gentleman who had flown in from New Zealand to compete.

At 16:00 we were allowed out on to the course for a warm-up. I soon detected the beaming smile of the legendary @iCrazyBee a fellow member of the London Brompton Club in the crowd.

After a couple of laps we retuned to hear the race instructions. It was getting serious. It was getting close to the race starting. We were slit into two groups. The first group larger than the second and I was in the second. We watched as they made their way to the start, folding their bikes and walking up to the starting point. With a shout and cheers they were soon off, unfolding and going. The pace looked fast and the Brompton Team flew by in a blur. We waited...nervously....excited.

Our turn. We did the same and parked out bikes in the folded position and walked the 30 metres to the start. With the wave of a Union Jack flag we were off. I had a GoPro Hero 2 strapped to my head and pressed record. I ran and unfolded. I was off. The course was demanding and although not long required concentration. Soon I was over the start finish line to the cheers and banging on advertising boards on the barriers. The crowd were wonderful and created a great atmosphere.

After my three laps I was tired but on a high. It had been brilliant. I didn't expect to get through to the final - I wasn't really there for that but I wanted to know. After a furtive wait the names and positions were revealed. I got 16th place in my group and I was in the final! Bloody hell! The smaller group was almost divine intervention and might have helped me.

With a few hours until the final I returned to the riders area. I had a Red Bull drink - which were free and chilled with the other riders. Not long after I teamed up with @iCrazyBee and we watched the races.

The time came for the final. There was a tension in the air. Veterans of the race had regaled us with stories of crashes around corners but I was unconcerned. I was going to enjoy this - I may never get into the final of this particular erase again! I pressed record on the GoPro and got the cowbell @iCrazyBee had acquired ready for later.

A camera crew interviewed me briefly but I cannot recall what I said. A couple of riders were told to fold their bikes fully as they had left bits unfolded. Tut! (None were Brompton bikes I hasten to add).

The final. Tension behind those smiles!

The flag went down and we were off. I raced through and got into my medium-paced stride. Coming round to the start / finish straight I was so grateful for the cheers of the crowd that for lap two I got out the cow bell and rang it for dear life to the cheers of the crowd.

For the third lap I high-fived as many as I could. I was enjoying this. On the dangerous tight bend after the start / finish straight I saw a rider on the deck. He must have been okay as he raced past me a lap later.

Eventually my five laps were done. It had been a great race and a great day. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would love to have a go next year! The highest complement I can pay is to say that it was nearly as much fun as the Brompton World Championships and believe me that is high praise indeed.

Friday 8 June 2012

The Nocturn - tomorrow

Tomorrow I go to the London Nocturn. The more I read about it or view clips on YouTube the more daunting it seems.

It will be over quite quickly as the course is 1.1km per lap and the three laps will be rapid.

Thoughts do turn again to what Brompton to take. The route seems fairly flat and the simplicity of just two gears does appeal.

There are heats first which and if you are fast enough you might be lucky to progress to the final. That would be great but we'll have to see. One slight disappointment is the fact that there doesn't seem to be any sort of medal etc.., for taking part. (I am easily pleased).

I will also be attempting to film my exploits with a GoPro Hero 2. Heaven knows what this will turn out to be like but I suspect I will bore my family to death with its footage in glorious 1080p HD.

Monday 4 June 2012

A new home for my Brompton Bikes

With some spare time to kill I spent a few hours tidying the pit of an office I have at home. It was quite shocking but after some hard work all was well in the world.

My Brompton bikes which used to live under my desk and in the corner respectively have now been moved on top of a storage cabinet. The new location is pretty good as it keeps them safely out of the way and frees up some more space.

The cabinet is about a metre and a half high and the bikes are securely locked together just in case. This is perhaps an unnecessary addition as we have an alarm system the British Security Services would be proud of.

The Jubilee celebrations are still in full swing but I haven't yet felt the compulsion to venture into central London despite it not being that far away.

I hope to go out for an early morning ride and get some arty photographs of sunrise. I also have a cycling event n London I am really looking forward to but I will keep that to myself for now.

Saturday 2 June 2012

IG Markets London Nocturn on a Brompton

A few weeks ago I signed up for the Markets London Nocturn. Yesterday I received an email providing details about the race which hopefully means I am in. I use the words hopefully as my online registration still says pending.

This race is similar to the BWC - but no way as good! It will however provide a good training run for the BWC.

I intend to take my S2L and test it out under race conditions. This might help me to decide which to take for the BWC. Although knowing me I will take both and decide on the day which to use. (I might even use a different bike for each of the three events I will partake in - if inclined and if allowed).

Those of you entering the BWC have you sorted outfits and if so what will you be wearing. I am my readers would love to know. In the meantime I hope that the training is going well. (I have started my training at least three times and then lapsed).