Tuesday 21 August 2012

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 


  1. Well done! Love this re-cap, though what's missing is a photo or two of you and iCrazyBee in full regalia.

    Lovely medals -- Brompton really do a nice job.

    I think I spotted you both in the BWC pics -- hard to miss, really! Thought the two of you looked quite wonderfully flash, though perfectly appropriate in your blazers.

  2. Pictures of me in my blazer would dash my real plans for world domination.

  3. Hi there, I am seriously thinking about taking part in the BWC 2013 with my orange/British Racing Green Bromie. The only problem is that I have to catch a bus in London at 5 p.m. Do you think this would work out with the time of the race, picking up the medals etc? You seem to be very experienced :) - could you please help me on this? Many thanks in advance. Simone

    1. Hello Simone. Thanks for leaving a comment. The race usually starts about noon or soon thereafter and the medals are given to participants as you finish. It is a very slick operation from Brompton. I suppose it all depends about how you're getting back to London but in theory you could leave the BWC buy 14:00 at the latest - after you've had the food all racers usually get.

      There are I believe still places available so get one while you can - it's a great experience.


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