Thursday 30 August 2012

SPD Pedals - part 2

It really is quite amazing how me posting that I bought some clipless pedals and attached them to my Brompton, induced such a response.

The first comments from The London Brompton Club were spot on, offering sound advice from people who had used them on other bikes and occasionally a Brompton.

It wasn't that long until I started to receive emails from people who told me in no uncertain terms why this was a bad idea. The upshot of all this after over 20 emails with tales of woe, I have totally lost confidence in having them on my Brompton for all but longer rides.

It must be over 10 years since I last used a version of a clipless pedal on a mountain bike I still have, rusting in my parents garage and it took 5 minutes to be reacquainted with these new ones. However, the damage has been done.

I really didn't expect any reaction and wasn't trying to be controversial but there certainly are strong feelings out there.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

SPD Pedals

Yesterday I took the plunge and got myself some SPD pedals and a pair of cycling shoes. I have been thinking of doing this on and off for weeks. I was toying with the idea of getting some for the Brompton World Championships but didn't. 

When I was out on some training rides with Harry and Phil from 'Small Wheels Big Difference' they both liked them and suggested to me that they make going up hills easier. They certainly seemed to work for Harry and Phil, however I do think both of them being ultra fit might have also had a part to play.

I opted for a fairly basic pair of Shimano M520's.  They are about 380 grams (so not adding a huge amount of weight) and come with everything you need to get started.

They are double sided, so whatever side it up you can always clip in quite easily. I believe that they are officially mountain bike pedals but chap at the shop I bought them at went into the staffroom to show me his Brompton with the exact same pedals fitted. He said lots of Brompton riders use them.

Together with the pedals I had to of course get a pair of shoes so I could clip in. I opted for a pair of Louis Garneau that were on special offer. They are really comfortable and provide a firm footbed. I like them. I also like the fact that there are no laces to worry about! I always seem to to get mine wrapped up in the wheel, regardless of how much I tuck them in etc.

One strange thing was that I had to get a size 12.5! Normally I'm an 11 but me trying them on was like a scene from Cinderella where the ugly sisters attempt to put on the discarded slipper! I will put it down to the fact that they just came up small, otherwise my feet are growing.

These shoes have a heavy tread and the cleat is recessed. This means that would can walk on them without feeling you have stepped on to an ice rink.

Taking the old pedals off was quite easy as was fitting the new ones. They don't in any way hinder the fold and the left pedal doesn't really stick out that much at all.

The all important ride. Riding off and getting clipped in was fairly easy after a couple of attempts. I practiced quite a few times, unclipping and then clipping in. Within five minutes I was fairly confident and even proficient at clipping and unclipping on inclines and hills.

I imagine that in the wet these pedals would be pretty good as there is a lesser chance of slipping. I did try and go up the odd hill to see if Harry and Phil were right in their enthusiasm. I have to report that it does seem easier with them than with the standard pedals.

The true test will come next week when my daily commute returns in ernest but for the moment at least I really like them.

Anyone out there with any tips on how to get the perfect adjustment for the cleats on the shoe, please comment.

Monday 27 August 2012

Just joined the 'London Cycling Campaign.'

Mrs Orange Brompton has just bought me membership to the London Cycling Campaign! I am rather pleased about this to say the least.

The London Cycling Campaign organised the 'Big Ride' that I went on in April. I have posted a link to that blog entry so you can read what it was about.

The Big Ride - London Cycling Campaign

Mrs Orange Brompton had thought about joining British Cycling, also very good as it had free mapping for members and was slightly cheaper. But the London Cycling Campaign had the edge.

Firstly it is London based and so are we and I did think that the Big Ride was a great idea. Other benefits include:

  • Solid campaigns on behalf of all cyclists in London.
  • Free third-party insurance.
  • Free legal helpline.
  • Free public liability insurance.
  • Up to 15% off at 120 London bike shops - that I might actually use.
  • Free London Cyclist Magazine.
  • Information about free rises all over Greater London.
All in all it is a pretty good deal as far as I am concerned. I would be very interested to hear from my overseas readers whether you have anything similar in your country / city.

The London Cycling Campaign Website can be found at:

Cycle events on a Brompton

With the Brompton World Championships behind me for another year, my thoughts have turned to what do do next? One event that isn't until next year that I really want to do is the 'Nightrider.' This was an event I wanted to do this year but for one reason or another I wasn't able to.

The Nightrider is quite an interesting idea. It is a 100km ride that takes place in London at night. You can start at either Alexandra Palace - North London or Crystal Palace - South London. The route takes in over 50 of London's most famous landmarks. Luckily there is a break every 20km (assuming you want one).

It is a charity ride and there are a few options. You can pay £39 to register but MUST then raise £200 for your chosen charity. The other option is to pay £99 up front with no obligation to raise any more money for charity but to try and raise as much as you can. As I have done a bit of charity riding this year, I would probably go for the latter option and just pay the £99. I feel you can only ask people for sponsor money so many times.

The event will take place 8th - 9th June 2013 and registration for places will start this October. It isn't a race but you do get a medal at the end. (I'm sure regular readers will know just how much I like medals)!

The route is quite heavily marshalled and you even get sent the route for GPS devices. Riders start at 23:00 and go off in waves of 100 riders every five minutes or so, from their chosen start point. Roughly 4,500 people will take partIt certainly sounds like quite an experience and the route is fairly tame. If I can get other Brompton friends to join in it would be even better but if I have to go alone I think I will.

Along with some other cycling events I have my eye on, it will give me the motivation to keep the training up in addition to my daily commute. I have just come back from a training run. The sky looked dark and threatened a downpour at any moment. It managed to stay off for the 30ish minutes I was out. Just as I was folding my beloved Orange Brompton to go inside, the heavens opened!  The details of my training:

Time - 30:02 minutes

Distance - 7.85 miles

Average Speed - 15.68 mph

Maximum Speed - 27.66 mph

Calories - 508

Ascent - 403.5 feet

Sunday 26 August 2012

Training Run of sorts - Richmond Park

This morning I drove to Richmond Park quite early, parked up and intended to embark upon two good laps of the park.

I took my beloved Orange Brompton with me and with good intentions started off. I was given the challenge of completing a circuit in 20 minutes - a very tall order, but always keen on a challenge I set off.

Before setting out I had some porridge, a banana and plenty of water. As I wheeled the bike to the park I had another banana.

The last time I came here I was with iCrazyBee who by his own admission found the hills demanding. I found that as I didn't have to wait for me partner in crime, I was just about able to cope with them, although flashbacks of the hills on the Brompton Marathon came back strongly in waves. Stupidly I left my Garmin Edge 200 (which is becoming indispensable) in the car!! I had to rely on my watch to time myself. I managed to do one lap in 27:48 but I have to tread with caution as it isn't as accurate as my Garmin.

Just into the second lap I heard my name being shouted out. I turned to see two friends walking their dog. My training was abandoned as I was convinced/persuaded to go to the nearest coffee shop to chew the fat. Typical. I regaled them with stories of all three Brompton events amongst other things.

Feeling guilty I have just gone out for another run. This time recorded by my Garmin:

Time - 30:11 mins

Distance - 8.19 miles

Average Speed - 16.26 mph

Maximum Speed - 26.11 mph

Calories - 532

Ascent - 334.9 feet

I do hope that I can maintain these training runs in the coming weeks. In the last couple of weeks I have lost almost half a stone. I have been eating more sensibly yes but I do feel that a large part of this has been the cycling. Ideally I'd like to lose at least another half a stone but we'll see.

Friday 24 August 2012

Sony RX100 - believe the hype

A few months ago there was a rumour that Sony were going to launch an enthusiast pocket camera that would be pocketable and yet have almost DSLR quality. Yeah, right I thought to myself, despite reading the rave reviews it was getting. I then saw some pictures that a friend had taken with one and could not believe that they were taken from a pocket camera. This camera was the Sony RX100.

I had a Panasonic GX1 and wasn't really getting on with it so I part exchanged it for a Sony RX100. Luckily I didn't have to add much and I am really glad I took the plunge.

The camera is quite small at 101.6 x 58.1 x 35.9 mm and weighs only 240g with memory card and battery inserted. I has a fantastic Carl Zeiss f1.8 lens, with a focal range of 28 - 100mm.

This is like a TARDIS as it has lots packed inside!

That f1.8 Carl Zeiss lens is gorgeous! 

It is unusual for a camera of this size as it packs a 20.2 mega pixel, one inch sensor which is huge for a compact camera of this size. I believe it is the same size as the sensor used in the interchangeable lens, Nikon J1.

It has all the manual controls one would want. Aperture priority, shutter priority, program mode as well as full manual. In addition there are two auto modes which as useful if you're feeling lazy or if you are new to photography, a panorama mode and movie mode. You can also shoot in RAW so you can play around with the files to your hearts content.

The LCD screen is wonderful and clear and useable in sunlight with 1.228 million dots. It has something called TFT TruBlack. Im not sure what this means but for my money the screen is better than any camera I've used.

With an f1.8 Carl Zeiss lens, low light performance is nothing short of excellent. The detail that this sensor renders is amazing. If you have a Mac and iPhoto you'll know that there is a zoom slider. When doing this on a picture taken with this camera, even zoomed in the detail is astonishing. All of the pictures below were taken as Jpegs with no editing of any kind.

Taken in very poor light at sunset.
The only light in this room was that created by the candles. I was deliberately trying to get bokeh.

The macro ability of this camera is excellent and it really is an all rounder. When zoomed in on my Mac you can see the hairs on the bee quite clearly. The Zeiss lens does a really good job of capturing super sharp detail.

Macro is great and look at the creamy bokeh.

The Sony RX100 also has lots of clever little in camera effects. The one below has everything in black and white apart from the blue of the sky.

This one creates a quite excellent diorama effect really well. There are many effects and functions to play around with, far too many to for me to write about.

The pictures below where taken from the top of Tower 42. It was quite a hazy, but the detail and sharpness is great. Dare I say it is better than my beloved Olympus Pen E-P3 and my old Canon 500D!

Shot to shot time is quick (even when shooting in raw), focusing is very fast indeed and it has the ability to shoot silently. When I say silently, I do mean absolutely no noise at all. This is great for discrete street photography. I managed to get 380 shots out of it and that was with me chimping at almost every shot, so battery life is good.

This is a great little camera and I can see myself using it for many year to come. If you are in the market for something small, lightweight but packing an incredible punch, this just might be the camera for you.  I really cannot be bothered with hulking DSLR's anymore and for once you really can believe the hype. This is THE best compact sized camera bar none and if if makes me think it actually has the edge over my Olympus Pen E-P3, it must be very good.

Thursday 23 August 2012

2nd highest skyscraper in the City of London on a Brompton!

Today was an interesting day, one that I had been looking forward to and one nothing in life prepared me for. When I left home this morning Mrs Orange Brompton and my children remarked that dad was even happier than his usual happy chappy disposition.

Regular readers will already know that I love London and every so often dip my toes into the world of urban birding. My children from an early age loved to go to places like Regents Park or Hyde Park and spot the many different birds and and wildlife found therein. Like any good dad, I made it my business to try and be one step ahead and know more than they did. I would try and recall my my knowledge of birds, from days as a child when I went out into the urban jungle armed with a pair of theatre binoculars (stolen by my brother) and an ancient bird guide. Today took me back to a time where I could be amazed and left almost speechless.

I travelled part way on my beloved Orange Brompton and the rest by tube (boo). My location was 'Tower 42' or if you are old enough to remember the 'National Westminster Tower.' I was part of a 16 strong bird group carrying out a survey to record the passing of migrant birds.

It was run and organised by David Lindo, 'The Urban Birder.'  For those of you who don't know, David Lindo is a birding expert that specialises in the urban environment. He writes books, articles, leads tours and appears on television. I first heard of David Lindo when he appeared on 'The One Show' many years ago. My eldest child ran to get me as there was a guy taking about birds and wildlife at a place in London we go to. The rest is history. We went to that location the very next day and my family's urban birding began in ernest. I have provided a link to a blog entry I made last year regarding his excellent book.

David Lindo - The Urban Birder

At the base of Tower 42
Those attending gradually started to assemble near the entrance of Tower 42 and it wasn't long before we were on our way inside. Security was naturally very tight and once this was done we made our way to the two lifts that would take us near to the top. After that it was up a few ladders, through a hatch in the roof and we were greeted by the most incredible sight!

What a view!

Even St Paul's Cathedral looked tiny from up here!
It took quite a while to take it all in and seeing London from this incredible vantage point was I have to say overwhelming. I could make out dozens of famous landmarks: Tower Bridge; Crystal Palace; Alexandra Palace; Battersea Power Station; St Paul's Cathedral (looking very small from this height); Canary Wharf. The list could go on and on. Even the new and ever rising star on the London skyline, 'The Shard' looked quite small from up here.

One of my favourite buildings with Canary Wharf in the distance.

The view of the 'Gherkin' one of my favourite buildings was wonderful and it was looking at this that I spotted a Lesser Black Backed Gull and Cormorant flying past - shamefully, my contribution to the survey. There wasn't a huge amount out there...honest. Someone shouted out that they had seen a bird and we all had a look  Turned out to be a Buzzard no less.

I have always wanted an excuse to try out the tilt shift function on my Sony RX100 and today found the perfect  view.
Through a scope I was able to see a Peregrine Falcon perched on a ledge towards the top of the Tate Modern.  There were rumours of a Black Kite that was seen flying high from the east but alas we weren't to see it this time.

We were up there almost two hours by 12:00 p.m. I sat down looking out at this view while having my luncheon. Before long we had to pack up and make our way down. It had been a brilliant experience and one I hope to repeat again when I can.

Our leader/organiser David Lindo was great and a big thank you to him. (Why doesn't this man have his own television show)? I also think that the owners of Tower 42 also need to be thanked for allowing us up there!

The Urban Birder - Keep looking up. You never know what you might see!
When I eventually got back to my Orange Brompton and cycled home I still couldn't quite believe where I had been today. When I told my children about it all, showed them the pictures and about the birds I had seen and might have seen, I was told by them in no uncertain terms that we were going to the London Wetlands Centre...tomorrow for a spot of urban birding!

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Garmin Edge 200 mini review

If you have read my account of the Brompton World Championships which took place on Sunday, you will have hopefully seen a link to the Garmin Connect website that contains the information my own little Garmin Edge 200 was busy gathering as I took part in both the Marathon and World Championships. I thought I'd write a mini review of it as quite a few people have commented on it.

The Garmin Edge 200 retails for £105 - £125 and at the moment you can get a £30 cash back from Garmin if you submit a picture of your old cycle computer and send your receipt in. A pretty good deal.

This particular version does not store maps or will give you turn by turn directions (they cost a great deal more). What it does do is provide very accurate information:

Actual speed
Average speed
Time travelled
Distance travelled
Elevation / descent

It comes with a wall charger, USB cable, a couple of handlebar mounts and lots of industrial rubber bands to attach the mount to the bars.

The mount is brilliant and stays in place and did not come lose at all under demanding conditions at the BWC. Place the device in the mount, turn and click into place and it is locked in. Simply turn the other way to take off. Very simple.

The device is very small and lightweight. The display is large and visible both day (including sunshine) and at night, due to its backlit display as seen in the picture above.

The battery lasts 14 hours so even for longer trips you shouldn't have to worry about it running out of juice. Charging can be via USB attached to a PC/Mac or via mains charger.

When turning the device on it locks on to the GPS signal very quickly. I put it to one side and unfolding my Brompton, mounted it to the handlebars and it was ready to start mapping.

One of the great features is the ability to download your rides to the Garmin Connect website and look at lots of statistics, graphs and maps of your routes. I really liked this and looking at the BWC data I can see what/where on the course I could do better next time.

As I said I really like this GPS device and as it requires no sensor or magnet attached to the wheel, there is a great deal less fuss. In the future I might upgrade to a mapping unit but for the foreseeable future, this little Edge 200 will be attached to whatever Brompton I care to take for a spin.

Please see the links on my Brompton World Championship 2012 blog entry for the Garmin Connect links for the Brompton Marathon and Brompton World Championships data.

My 2012 Brompton World Championships

Sunday, 19th August 2012 was certainly a day to remember. Epic, to use a word frequently used today, actually doesn't quite do it justice.

The day started very early. I was up much earlier than I needed to mainly due to the anticipation of the day ahead. I set off just before 06:00 and even at this hour you could tell it was going to be in BBC Weather terms, a scorcher!

I arrived in good time and registered for the day ahead. With bravado, a rush of blood to the head or a fit of the vapours I entered all three events:

The Brompton Marathon - 26.2 miles partly through the grounds of Blenheim Palace and then on to the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

The Brompton World Championships  - the big one! A full out race to be the quickest you can over a demanding 8.2 mile course.

The Brompton Marathon - a pure out and out sprint over a 300 metre inclined course.

The Brompton Marathon

Getting ready for the Marathon
With race pack and generous goody bag I attached my race number (with timing chip attached to the rear) to my beloved Orange Brompton and headed off to the Marathon briefing.

Regular readers will know that I have gone on and on about my Raw Lacquer S2L being nippy and quick. Lightweight and super efficient in its gear change. It is all of these things but I could not bring myself to use anything other than my Orange M6L. Deep down I also knew that for me, those extra gears would be needed. (But the real reason is that orange matched my outfit.

The Brompton Marathon was an event I wouldn't forget in a hurry. We were arranged into three pens. Those who felt they'd be able to go at a fast, medium pace or slow pace. I chose the medium. I used my Garmin Edge 200 (which I am loving by the way) and pressed start so that I could record my efforts. I have attached a link so that you can see lots of stats and graphs regarding it. This may also help to visualise what I am writing about.

We started more or less at 09:00 with the fast lot going off first.  A couple of minutes later we were off. I started off with the intentions of riding in a peloton with a few riders I knew but this was soon dashed as we lost each other amongst the many riders who were also taking part.

The course was demanding and the heat that was already making its presence felt made things that bit harder. I had a water bottle tucked into the rear pocket of my cycling shorts and was glad that I'd brought it - I almost forgot to bring it.

The course certainly wasn't flat as you can see by the elevation. The scenery (what I saw of it) was beautiful, picture postcard stuff. As we headed out of the grounds of Blenheim Palace I started to overtake a few of the people who were ahead of me at the start. At times they overtook me again and vice versa. This happened for quite a few miles.

Using the Garmin I tried to maintain a 13 mph pace. The Garmin Edge 200 is great as it has a little section that constantly displays ones average mph as well as current speed. If I could maintain 13mph I could complete the Marathon in about two hours.

A just over 8 miles into the course we hit the mother of all hills. Not only was it steep, it seemed to go on forever! If you have read my exploits with the, 'Small Wheels Big Difference' chaps you will already be aware of my horror of hills. I am rather proud to report that I did not dismount for this hill or any on the entire Marathon course. I dug in and just kept going. (So glad that I brought my beloved Orange with those ever so useful 6 x gears)! If I had attempted this last year I would have been walking up this and many of the other hills on this course. I felt fitter this year.

At 17 miles of thereabouts we hit another hill. It wasn't as long but it was much steeper. It was on this hill that many were forced to get off an push. Luckily I was able to keep going. It didn't seem too long after this until I saw the 'only 5 miles left' sign. I knew that from my training I could do 5 miles in just under 20 minutes, so I could see the end in sight.

Another incentive was that at the briefing we were told that we were to collect one water bottle and our medal. Our medal! I am very easily pleased but I was so excited at getting a medal saying 'Brompton Marathon' on it!! With the end in sight I cycled as fast as my legs would allow over the timing mat and stopped the Garmin Edge 200. It said that I had done it in just over 1 hour 46 mins. My actual time was a little under 1 hour 45 minutes. I was very pleased and actually felt okay, considering I had just cycled 26 miles!

This was a new event and I think it was a great addition, especially those of us mad enough to do it. I hope that Brompton have this for next year!  (I also recorded the majority of this ride with my GoPro and I will post a link to a speeded up version of what I managed to film before the battery died, as soon as I can).

Please have a look at the stats for this this ride in the link below.
Brompton Marathon Analysis

The Brompton World Championships 

After the Marathon I headed back to my car and got changed into my BWC outfit. This outfit caused quite a stir and those who saw it wouldn't forget it in a hurry. Together with my partner in crime iCrazyBee and his equally eye watering outfit, we must have looked quite a sight for the innocent!

I missed the briefing for the BWC as I was waiting for iCrazyBee, who bravely persevered with the Marathon (despite him having second thoughts and been warned about it and those hills on the way to Blenheim by a friend). He finished about an hour after me and once he had changed into his BWC outfit we made our way to the starting grid.

The race was delayed slightly for reasons unknown. I was in the last group to go and while I was trying to get into the zone (I didn't really, but feel with hindsight I should have) I saw a couple of film crews. One was filming Rory McGrath and another actor who's name escapes me, taking part in the BWC as part of a Channel 5 programme on eccentric British Sports. I had a brief chat with him and for a celebrity he seemed okay. (I am no fan of celebrities but that it another blog).

The delay in the start allowed for some  tweeting or texting

Getting ready before the off
We were given the standby and the first, group went off. The tension and pent up energy could be felt. The groups raced off until it was our turn next. When we went off I refused to allow myself to run to my bike. A gentleman does not run! So I walked to my bike, turned on the GoPro, attached the Garmin Edge 200 to the handlebar, got on and peddled. Some spectators took a shine to my outfit, offering cheers and shouts of:

'Go orange and yellow man.'

'Go MCC Man'

I was off. Last year my first lap was too quick which meant that the second was much slower. I resisted the urge to go flat out and paced myself. Not too far into the first lap I encountered heavy traffic from slower riders, which is also something I encountered on the second. Unfortunately this meant I slowed down somewhat. One particular lady was rather irritating to say the least and insisted on riding on the right or the middle of the course, despite being a great deal slower. One rider trying to overtake on the right nearly took her and himself out as she stubbornly rode where she shouldn't. Luckily I was able to overtake her eventually.

Last year a chain off on the second lap on the big hill forced me off my bike, but if I were honest I would have got off and pushed at that point anyway as my fitness just wasn't there. This year I didn't get off at all and powered up the hills. The Marathon earlier in the day made these hills seem like nothing.

I was hoping for a time of about 30 minutes and I was very happy that my Garmin showed a time of just over 32. I actually managed it in just over 31 minutes, four and a half minutes better than last year! I am very happy with this time and do think that without the traffic I might even have scraped 30 or slightly under. For next year that will be my target.

The bikes parked and ready to go
With medal placed round my neck and hand shaken by an enthusiastic Brompton employee I felt elated. I'd done it. Two Brompton events, two Brompton medals. One more event to go.

Please have a look at the stats for this this ride in the link below
Brompton World Championship Analysis

Brompton Sprint

There wasn't really a great deal of time to recover from the BWC race until I was getting ready for the sprint. I said hello to a few familiar faces and some new ones and headed off for the briefing.

The Sprint was devastatingly simple and great fun. Run to your partially folded Brompton, unfold and then pedal as fast as one could up to the finish line. My legs were quite ropey by this point and I tried my hardest. We raced in 3's. I got a good start but one of my fellow competitors raced ahead into the distance and the other was a good 10 metres in front of me.

At the finish line I was given my third and final medal of the day and perhaps I am easily please but I absolutely loved the medals! I had done it all and completed the 'Brompton Treble.' When registration opened for the BWC I initially opted for just the BWC. A few moments later I had added the Marathon and some more moments after that I added the Sprint. I am glad I did and I will defiantly enter all three next year.

With the races over I went to get my complementary cream tea which was lovely and gratefully received. The announcements for the prizes revealed some good news. No, I did not win the best dressed male but it was won by Alan  Morris, a Brompton Club member. It was great that @issystweet who was on the London to Cambridge ride (see blog for that) was the third fastest female at her first BWC. I can't say I was surprised as I have already seen how fast she cycles!!  I was very happy to see the Small Wheels Big Difference chaps took third place in the team event. Again having seen Harry and Phil cycle into the distance up the steepest of hills at speed, I wasn't overly surprised.

I mingled with some friends old and new and thought of how much fun I have had since buying my Brompton bikes. Originally I bought a Brompton to commute to and from work in order to get fitter and have the flexibility of personal transport that I could take anywhere. The BWC looked like fun so I entered last year and loved it. Through owning a Brompton I attended some training runs that took me on distances I thought I could not do. I entered other cycle events and gradually got fitter in the process. More importantly owning Brompton bikes has  allowed me to meet fellow Brompton owners and make new friends.

Some great bikes and lots of orange ones
This rider from Japan was very please to have someone take a picture of his beloved bike
It was a  fantastic day and yet again Brompton were able to provide a great day of fun filled events, organised incredibly well! Brompton really does need to be commended. I have written before that it is a wonderful marketing/PR exercise seeing so many Brompton owners competing in a fully fledged race, which of course it is, but speak to Brompton employees and you soon discover they have an enthusiasm, loyalty and pride for their product to match any of us slightly mad owners.

With the Brompton World Championships over, one could feel a sense of anticlimax or maudlin. I mean, what the bloodly hell are we all going to talk about now?! The answer is of course clear. I have to get ready for the BWC 2013 and in 2013 I'm going to win...

The 'Brompton Treble' which was hard work to obtain 

Saturday 18 August 2012

The wait for the Brompton World Championships is almost over!

Well, the waiting is over. The Brompton World Championships is almost upon us. Like many I have written and talked about this for ages and it is now less than 24 hours until possibly THE cycling event of the year takes place.

Yesterday I went for a final training run with my partner in crime iCrazyBee. We went to Hyde Park in London and did a few circuits. I took with my a little, Garmin Edge 200 which I bought second hand from a work colleague. It is pretty good and the statistics and charts from Garmin Connect are quite amazing. Expect a mini review when the BWC is over.

All of this week I have gone out on little training runs just to keep things ticking over. It is my intention to continue this as much as I can as a post BWC legacy. I honestly do not know if I am any fitter than last year or whether I will post a better time? The Marathon, 26.2 miles takes place before the BWC and I do want to complete it but I will ride at a fairly sedate pace.

I plan to take my GoPro with me and will try and finally get some footage on here or have a link to somewhere that has it. I have three options with regards where to place the GoPro:

1 On top of the helmet.

2 On the handlebars.

3 On top of the main frame near the Brompton logo.

Having testing all three positions, I think that it is going to be option 3, despite the fact you get a view of the handlebar stem. For me it provides the best view.

My outfit is all ready and waiting and waiting it will as I have no intention of putting it one until after the Marathon. This way it won't get too dirty from the exertions of 26.2 miles in what should be a very hot day!

So, there really is nothing left to do but get the final bits and pieces together and try and get a descent nights sleep. I get up very early tomorrow and it should be a great day.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

A Gentleman's Guide for the Brompton World Championships

Brompton put out a tweet today asking people to come up with some tips for the Brompton World Championships. I along with many others offered my suggestions and some were even retweeted by Brompton. It did get me thinking about putting together a little guide for the discerning, gentleman rider.


There are many types of blazer/jackets out there. Sadly, the bespoke, tailor made are a rare sight. If your blazer or jacket is off the peg, do not worry. Follow these simple steps. I must state that I am referring to single breasted blazers/jackets. (If you have a double-breasted type, I suggest you seek advice elsewhere).

For a two button blazer/jacket, the top button is all that is needed to be fastened. If both are done up you run the risk of being labelled at best a cad.

For three button blazer/jacket the middle button should be fastened. If all three are done up people may tut.


Brompton allows riders to run to their folded bikes. A gentleman does not run! The only times a gentleman is permitted to run is in a time of war or if he is late for his wedding. I will not be running.

Being overtaken by better riders

Let's be blunt about this. Unless you are semi-professional, you will be overtaken. This may induce one to let fly a profanity. This is not the conduct of a gentleman! If you must say anything at all you might want to consider the following, which should be said under ones breath.

"Oh dash it all!"

"If that doesn't take the giddy biscuit!"


With modern fashions as they are there has been a move towards not shaving and cultivating stubble. I suggest that gentleman rider shave before departing. This will have two benefits. First, the absence of stubble will increase aerodynamic efficiency. Second, it will ensure people do not mistake you as being a member of the criminal classes.

The bike

Your beloved Brompton does need as much attention as you can give. Tyres need to be inflated to the correct pressures. The chain would benefit from some oil and generally you need to give things the once over. Of course the gentleman rider will leave this to someone else, as I have done.

Queensbury Rules

As you travel around the course whether it be the Marathon, the Brompton World Championships itself or the Sprint, remember that a sense of fair play and abiding by the rules is a must. So, don't stray into the middle of the course just for the sake of it as you may be mistaken for a cad and bounder. Keep to the left.


Before reading further I must warn you that the following advice may cause a great deal of upset. Please steel yourself for the worst.

Right, if you are still reading the shirt is a very important item. As the gentleman rider will almost certainly get hot, it would be better to wear a short sleeved shirt. 

A short sleeved shirt is not really something a gentleman would wear in this country and at best would only be acceptable if visiting the tropics, however for the Brompton World Championships it is perfectly acceptable. It will keep the gentleman rider cooler, which can only be a good thing.


The tie is a very important item indeed. Old school ties, sporting clubs, University etc.., are all acceptable as are ties that are colour coordinated to the colour of ones Brompton. Under no circumstances wear a bow tie unless you possess a Ph.D., in Geography.

Meeting People/Greetings

Today when you meet someone I believe some people use the following 'street talk:'

What's up bruv?

How's it going dog?

Word to your mother, blood!

This really will not do for the discerning gentleman rider. A shaking of the hand is traditional but a simple greeting of, 'what ho!' will cover all social interactions.


The night before the Brompton World Championships try and eat some pasta and drink plenty of water. On the big day have porridge or a couple of poached eggs and again drink plenty of water. On route have a banana and continue to drink water. By doing this you will not be like the sickly child with a note from Matron, sitting on the sidelines.


Arrive for your chosen event in good time so that you are not late, panic and feel the need to run.  (Please see above).

If you follow these easy and simple steps, you will have a fantastic Brompton World Championships. See you on Sunday!

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Out training on my S2L Raw Lacquer Brompton

Have just come back from another little training run. My STATs are as follows:

Duration 30 mins 46 seconds

Distance 8.15 miles

Calories 408

Average Speed 15.89

Maximum Speed 28.35

Elevation over the 30 minutes 70 metres

It will be good to see how these figures look when I get my beloved Orange Brompton back from being serviced.

Well with five days to go I feel a little bit more prepared than I did last year. On the outfit front there is nothing to report other than I have everything I want to wear, bar one item which should arrive in the post well before the end of the week.

Since going on my healthy eating regime, combined with the training I am doing for the BWC I have managed to lose a little bit of weight, which I have to say I am very pleased about. The trick will be sustaining this into the future.

Monday 13 August 2012

What to wear???

The Brompton World Championships is but a step away and I have been deliberating and cogitating about the all important question what to wear?

Regular readers will of course know that I already have my outfit ready and waiting. All the finishing touches are complete and it is a case of put it on for the big day. I actually tried it all on so that
Mrs Orange Brompton and my children could see me in all my glory.

Now I must stress that Mrs Orange Brompton has seen and approved every item I am going to wear on an individual basis. Upon seeing me decked out in the full Brompton World Championships outfit it induced a two word review/summation. "Jesus Christ!"

I took this as a complement as was pretty much the response I expected and if I am being brutally honest, wanted. It did make me think however... If I am to wear this outfit for the Marathon I feel I am going to get and become too hot, despite the weather conditions. I might therefore wear something else for the Marathon and change into this little number for the BWC onwards. For me it certainly makes sense.

This view was further strengthened after a training run this afternoon in which I wore a T-shirt and shorts and got very hot and sweaty by the end. My SATs for the ride were as follows:

Distance 6.24 miles

Duration 23.59 minutes

Average Speed 15.64 miles per hour

Maximum Speed 32.62 miles per hour

Calories burnt 318

I used the Raw Lacquer S2L and did want to stay out for 30 minutes but the heavens opened so had to stop. The ride was over fairly flat ground but quite a few inclines of significance that were about 200 metres each.

So, I think that it is going to be two outfits for me. What do you out there think?

Sunday 12 August 2012

Richmond Park World Brompton Championship Training

This morning I met my partner in crime iCrazyBee for some top secret training for the Brompton World Championships, which are this time next week!! I say secret but I can reveal that it was in fact Richmond Park.

Richmond Park is a 2,360 acre park and one of London'd Royal Parks. In 1625 Charles I (the one who had his head chopped off) brought his court to Richmond Palace (not there anymore) to try and escape the ravages of the plague in London. The area was turned into a hunting park for red and fallow deer.

In the distance you ca make out the London skyline and the plague inflicted City Charles I tried to escape.  
It was a glorious morning. The sun was shining, with a light westerly breeze. We met up shortly after 09:00 and made our way to the Park. Richmond Park is vast and is a popular haunt of cyclists. When we arrived the roads through the park were dominated by cyclists. I do not know if it is normally like this but perhaps the weather and our success in the Olympics brought out more than usual.

I took my Raw Lacquer S2L and on the hills as I have found on my daily commute, I managed to keep up with the posh and rather expensive road bikes. Of course, with only two gears once on the flat, they vanished into the distance.

The Raw Lacquer S2L. Best colour Brompton do - after orange of course!
The ride at Richmond Park is quite demanding to say the least. The gradients are quite tough in places. I think that because I had been on a few training rides  this year with the, Small Wheels Big Difference chaps, I was able to cope with them better. I certainly hope that when I encounter the hills at the Brompton World Championships, this will all help me and I will be able to post a better time?

At one point on a sustained, flatter part of the park I followed iCrazyBee in a peloton. This appeared to work when I cycled closely to his back wheel. Just to see if I was imagining it, I eased the pace and then accelerated to ride close to the back wheel in front of me and found that there was a discernible difference. This is something I might be able to employ in the Brompton Marathon event if I can find other willing participants - and can keep up with then!

We intended to do two laps but we were happy with the one lap we managed which we tackled aggressively. We cycled back to Richmond Station and made our respective ways home. It was great seeing iCrazyBee again and we were both excited and looking forward to next week.

The top of a serious hill!!
Next week I plan to get in a little more training. Nothing too serious, but enough to keep things ticking over. I have a few bits and pieces to get ready for next Sunday and hope to have everything in place by Thursday at the latest. All the talk and writing about the Brompton World Championships is nearly over and the countdown really begins!

Thursday 9 August 2012

The countdown to the Brompton World Championships starts

This morning I headed back to London from our holiday at a rural retreat in the heart of the English countryside for a meeting only to return back to our rural retreat 90 minutes later. On the return run I received an email from Brompton that caused much excitement.

The email is of course the big one participants receive just before the big event to tell them about the procedures and timings of the various events. Nothing concentrates the mind more than this. Brompton really are slick and well organised and it was great to get this. In the email I was given my race number and told about some of the do's and don'ts.

After my meeting in London I took my Orange Brompton in for a mini service and it will be ready in the middle of next week. My beloved Brompton
has done quite a few miles since it was in last. It needs some brake pads on the rear, derailer tweaking and brake cables tightened. Once I get it back I will give it a major clean, oil the important bits and not ride it until the big day. Tyres will be pumped to the correct pressure on the day itself.

I plan to go on a training run this Sunday with my partner in crime iBumbeBee and thereafter I will go on a fairly gentle set of rides every day, just to keep things ticking over. Last year I do think that I went out far too quickly on the first lap. This meant that the second was hard! This year my first lap will be at a fairly even pace - if I can - and then get progressively faster for the second. I only hope that I don't suffer my chain coming off this time.

I made one final purchase today for the last item in my BWC outfit. I hope that it arrives in time?! What people will make of this, heaven only knows? It is certainly bright and you will certainly see me coming!!

With regards my healthy eating, so far so good. I have not suffered too much from cravings or a need for sweets/chocolate and I hope that this continues.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Thoughts of Brompton World Championships halts night feast!

I know what you are thinking. He started the day with porridge. Well I can report that I did nothing of the sort. I started the day with 'Special K Red Berries.' So there.

The addition of the red berries was a good one in terms of flavour but they did not make me feel fuller. As I ate the bowl that sat in front of me, I gazed at the blurb informing me that if in addition to consuming 'Special K Red Berries' at breakfast, I also ate it for luncheon, I would drop a dress size in two weeks. This, I am sure you will be happy to read, would be a bridge too far. I love the Brompton World Championships, but not that much.

As I sat scraping my bowl to pick up the last nourishment therein, my thoughts turned to the early hours of this very morning. I was woken from my slumber by the growls of my own stomach. I ventured downstairs to the fridge of the holiday collage we are currently residing in to get a drink. As I may have already reported, inside the the fridge sat a family sized bar of Cadburys Dairy Milk, which had now been opened.

Upon opening the fridge I was greeted with the full on smell of chocolate. Perhaps the removal of all things chocolate for the last three days has heightened my sense of smell for this cruelest of foods. My hand moved towards it and was then withdrawn. I went for the bottled water instead. When I put the bottle back I hesitated and took a lungful of chocolate smell and displaced the air with a hand drawn from the chocolate to my nose. What the hell have I become?

On a happier note, from afar I have booked in both my Brompton bikes in for a full service early next week. I want them at optimum performance for the World Championships.

My outfit is all there apart from one finished touch, if I can get it. The more I think about the BWC the more it dominates my thoughts. What will be particularly good this year is that I will get to meet fellow members of the London Brompton Club. This in itself would be worth going for. In the meantime, if I survive the night and the next few days I hope the cravings will start to diminish.

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Trying to stay strong for the Brompton World Championships!

This morning I again started the day with porridge. Porridge is a great start to the day. Full of goodness, it releases whatever it is it releases, slowly so that you can be ready for what they day has in store. Having porridge means that those mid morning cravings are banished!

I have to report that by 11:30 I had come to the conclusion that this was a great big pile of utter rubbish. I was starving again! Visiting the local town centre of where we are staying, I passed a young lady providing free taster samples of cinnamon flavoured donuts. O to the M to the G, to use street parlance! The smell of these was like tempting a crack cocaine junky. With a self control I did not know I possessed, I stoically walked past.

They had that Keith Chegwin school of enthusiasm and persevered, offering me, tempting me with their calorie infused badness. I don't know how I didn't grab their tray containing said donuts and make off with them. It was only me asking the hypothetical question in my head, would Sir Chris Hoy eat one, that stopped me. To my disgust I turned to see Mrs Orange Brompton and children tucking in and wholeheartedly enjoying the sampled donuts. I mean really!

The next few days are going to be hard but I will try to be strong and continue the lonely path I currently walk. I will let you know how I get on.

Monday 6 August 2012

Starving to death for the Brompton World Championships!

My training for the Brompton World Championships has taken on a very serious turn believe me.

My healthy eating regime has consisted of me having porridge for breakfast, a healthy luncheon and a healthy dinner. No in betweens have passed my lips. I even turned down a chocolate digestive biscuit this very a.m.

I have drunk lots of water to ensure I am hydrated and replaced my desire for chocolate with an apple or similar. I think I am going through the first stages of cold turkey. Every advert I watch on television, listen to on radio or see in magazines, seems to have items I would like to consume but dare not to. This is only after one day. What I am going to be like by the end of the week is anybody's guess.

As I sit typing this blog entry my stomach making a noise that is trying to communicate it is hungry and needs feeding. In short I am starving! Do athletes have to put up with this?

My calorie intake today would have filled the Wartime Government of the 1940's with glee as I have rationed myself with enthusiasm. I know that on the top shelf of the fridge downstairs in the holiday cottage I am now staying at, sits an unopened family sized bar of 'Cadburys Dairy Milk.' I have just watched the last episode of, 'The Walking Dead' on Channel 5 and wonder in my lust for fresh chocolate whether it will survive the night!

No. I must be strong. This is good for the Brompton World Championships and it will be good for me in the long run. Any words of wisdom, encouragement or otherwise would be gratefully received.

Sunday 5 August 2012

Early Morning Brompton Training Run

Well, my training has actually started. I would like to think that when we reach the other side of the Brompton World Championships I will keep this up as I intend to go on a great deal more organised and impromptu cycle rides.

Today I simply headed off into central London with no particular route planned but just a vague idea of where I wanted to go and more importantly avoid. I took my Raw Lacquer S2L. Passing Marble Arch I could see that the preparation for the marathon race was well under way, despite it being so early.

There really is a buzz in the air in London at the moment. I thought that London would be deserted at 06:00 but believe me it wasn't. There were large numbers of tourists out, taking photos of London landmarks, themselves and my Brompton folding bike.

I was not alone cycling. The success of our wonderful cycle team has perhaps helped to induce people to get out on their bikes. Lots of Team GB cycling gear was on display on all manner of bicycles. This can only be a good thing however I hope that the infrastructure for safer cycling is also a legacy of these Olympic Games.

What I must do now is try and sustain this training. I am doing it for the Brompton World Championships but the reality is of course that with less than two weeks to go, nothing I do from now until the big day is really going to make much of a difference.  As I alluded to at the start of this blog, my real hope is that I will be able to sustain a healthier regime beyond the greatest cycling event of them all.

Brompton World Championship Prep

My outfit for the BWC is virtually complete. It is so bright and violently garish, I hope that it will induce those riding near me to stare incredulously and thus slow down.

My bikes will both go in for a final full service just in case. I will almost certainly ride my beloved Orange Brompton for all events but I'd like my Raw Lacquer S2L with me just in case.

I have no plans to modify any of my bikes but I might changeover my brown Brooks saddle back to the Orange Brompton.

Training and more training for the Brompton World Championships!

Today out of necessity I succumbed to eating a 'KFC Wicked Zinger Box Meal.' We had come back from a week away and didn't have the time or inclination to make something. I have not eaten a 'KFC Wicked Zinger Box Meal' before and I did enjoy it but every single bite brought thoughts of the Brompton World Championships.

Watching the Olympics I am sure that Farah, Ennis, Hoy, Pendleton to name but a few did not embark on their Olympic preparation with a 'KFC Wicked Zinger Box Meal.' I enjoyed it. Is that wrong? In fact I thought it was very tasty however with a high there is always a low. By the end of it I felt terrible, dirty, tainted, guilty.

Tomorrow the training starts. This includes a much more healthy eating regime. The Brompton World Championships is going to come round very quickly so my training must begin in earnest!

Watching the many documentaries about the Olympians training schedules one could get worried as some have taken two years to prepare! Bloody hell...the BWC is on the 19th August!

Thursday 2 August 2012

Totally submerged in the sea wearing a Brompton T-Shirt!

Regular readers will doubt to aware that I am very much an urban animal. There are times when yes, I do stray into the countryside but they are few and far between. I would go as far as saying that Hyde Park or Regents Park are as much as I can take. The great thing about these locations is that they are but a step away from the ultimate urban experience.

For our summer holiday my family and I have gone to the seaside here in England. It has been brilliant and we have enjoyed things greatly. A particular joy has been having a wonderful beach within 10 minutes walk of the cottage we are staying at. A beach that in the early morning and from late afternoon is totally devoid of anyone else. Picture golden sands stretching out over 200 metres before the sea cascades gently on the shoreline. It is an idyllic scene. Things took on a very different view this evening.

My two children - both in wetsuits - paddled quite happily in the gently shelving shoreline. Mrs OrangeBrompton sat watching the view, our children and occasionally joined them. I did much the same and also took lots of arty photos of clouds, sea and shoreline with my Sony RX100 (a wonderful little camera that I will write about another time). We stayed for about an hour before packing up and heading back.

As we returned home the tide was/had been coming in. We knew this. Unbeknown to us however was the fact that the tide in this part of the world also flows around the very large and wide beach, thus forming a substantial body of water blocking our route back. We walked along for quite some time but if anything the width of the water was wider. Surely it cannot be that deep we said to each other?

Mrs OrangeBrompton and eldest child were first in. They were first as I was packing up various items - phones, wallet, camera etc.., in carrier bags and storing them away in my backpack. Youngest child was with me and about to have a piggy back all the way across was looked like the Serpentine at Hyde Park. As I watched Mrs OrangeBrompton and eldest child walk out into the abyss I could see that what we had walked over not 80 minutes ago took on a very different view. Mrs O was up to her armpits in water, while eldest child (who thought wading was a silly idea in the first place) started swimming the short distance they had left.

I started to laugh at this sight until I realised that my turn was next. I was wearing my 2011 Brompton World Championship T-Shirt. My goodness, I am going to get it wet! Before piggybacking youngest child I pulled up my coveted T-Shirt so that my midriff was exposed. I suppose any onlookers would have thought I was trying to get the look of a female beach volleyball player from the Olympics. With youngest on my back, bossing me around and telling me which way to go I stepped forward.

Quite soon the water was past my waist and heading further. I found it incredulous that what had appeared like flat ground could now be so covered in seawater! The last few steps were on tiptoe and youngest jumped off my shoulders and was safely reunited. I had 3 or 4 steps to go when like Oliver Hardy I took a step that resulted in me being totally submerged. As I moved forward and out of the water I heard a chorus of laughter. Luckily the inside of my rucksack was all dry but my T-shirt was sodden with seawater.

I think that I will try and get a better understanding of tide times from tomorrow as I certainly don't want to go through that again. Apparently, if we had of kept walking by the side of what looked like forming mini-lake, we would have come to a crossing point of higher ground, at which we would have only got our knees wet. Typical.