Thursday 31 January 2013

Interview with Brompton MD, Will Butler-Adams

A few weeks ago Top Gear's James May was kind enough to grant an interview in which he answered some questions about his Brompton. It has proved to be very popular. 

Hot on the heels of this, I asked the Managing Director of Brompton Bicycle, Will Butler-Adams if he would be prepared to answer a few questions. As I am sure you are aware, Will is an incredibly busy man but somehow he managed to find the time to answer my questions.

The brief was simple. I put 15 questions to Will, with the expectation that he answer only those questions he had the time or wanted to answer. I am happy to report that Will answered all 15 questions and his responses certainly make interesting reading.

1) What sort of Brompton(s) do you own? (M - type, colour, gearing). Was it off the peg or bespoke?

I ride an M3L which is about 15yrs old, black black. I got it out of the skip in my early days at Brompton when too much stuff was being thrown away and to make an example I took this one out that had been 'scrapped' and repaired it. It has done me proud ever since!

2) Since you joined Brompton, what for you have been the biggest changes in terms of manufacturing, the image of Brompton and sales?

The principals are the same we try to make a great bike that do what you ask of it and a bit more. We have applied more best practice to the manufacturing process and really nurtured and cherished the special elements of our bike, such as the brazing. On the sales front this come from our customers who like yourself are kind enough to tell others that the Brompton really does work!

3) When I have attended events such as the recent Nocturne Folding Bike Race or BWC, Brompton staff are always out in force and ultra competitive. Is this something that is encouraged or natural? Who is the most competitive?

We ride our bikes and like many Brompton owners love racing them as so many people don't realise what an effective bike the Brompton bike is. On the competitive front there is a lot of banter in the office about where we all come relative to each other and I am well and truly part of that. After a stunning ride in 2011 at the BWC I had a seriously bad ride last year and was beaten by a tonne of staff and am enduring the constant reminding on a daily basis. I am on a mission for BWC 2013, have started the training and for the first time have 'click in's'!

4) Why do you think Brompton owners (me included) are so enthusiastic about the Brompton brand and their bikes in general?

I am not sure that the owners are enthusiastic about the brand that is a side line.  What makes, you and me love our bikes, is that they are so incredibly useful and make our lives a happier place.

5) What is the best time you have achieved at the Brompton World Championships? Do you enjoy taking part in these sort of events?

2012, can't quite remember but on the web, I was about 90th out of over 600! I love it and it is serious but serious fun.

6) Brompton is doing very well exporting overseas. Do you see this as the future of Brompton's continued success? Is the domestic market still important?

The future is to keep innovating and making a product that does what it say on the tin and to look after our customers for the entire life of the product they buy from us. If we can do this we will keep having customers in the UK and overseas.

7) Occasionally strange rumours of what Brompton might release next seem to surface. One I heard was a 20 inch wheel version. What is the strangest rumour you have heard that definitely will not happen?

That we will get in to making push chance.

8) If Andrew Richie was pitching to 'Dragon's Den' about his idea for a folding bike, now do you think he would fair?

I suspect they would laugh at him and send him away. Remember he did in a way do a Dragons Den the 10 years he spent trying to get manufacturers and financial backers to support him, in their droves they all said no and it was only an enthusiastic customer Julian Vereker who came to the rescue!!

9) There is a serious amount of engineering behind the design and manufacturing of a Brompton bike. Do you think Brompton gets the recognition it deserves?

You are right the engineering in the Brompton is immense but most of our customers are not interested in this nor do they need to be. The important thing is that all that effort  delivers a product that is seamless, convenient and exceeds the customers' expectations.

10) Where do you see Brompton in five years time in terms of design, manufacturing and sales?

Making great bikes in the UK and continuing to evolve and support our customers.

11) As an engineer yourself, have you made a contribution to the ever improving design of the Brompton bicycle?

I have never not been involved in the development and design of the bike since the day I arrived. It goes with the territory.

12) How does Brompton get on with other manufacturers of folding bikes?

I would say that we are not really massively 'in' the wider bicycle industry. We tend to get on with what we are doing and worry about our customers. Much of the industry is involved in recreation and fashion, selling to bicycle enthusiasts. The majority of our customers are simply fed up with having their nose in someone's armpit in the tube or moving along at snail's pace in a car crossing a city and get so frustrated that they finally give the bike a go. Most bikes don't work for them as they are too inflexible so they give the Brompton a try and in many cases are liberated and love it!

13) As the MD / someone who works for Brompton, are you forever getting asked to try and get a discount for people?

Luckily not too often, in many cases thanks to the Bike to Work scheme which is hard to beat.

14) The Brompton Toolkit is a wonderful piece of engineering. How did it come about?

We wanted one!

15) Can you give the readers of my humble blog a snippet of inside information/an exclusive  regarding any of Brompton's future plans?

We now have over 180 staff and I am currently about 20 short of knowing all of our staff names but having been told that after 100 you lose track I am determined not to stop trying.
Business is good, we continue to have a lot of fun and plan to be around for a long time to come.

Some really great responses from Will and I am sure that lots of you fellow Bromptonians will like this interview a great deal. 

A very big thank you to Will for agreeing to this and answering my questions. He must be extremely busy but if anything he typifies the customer friendly approach that Brompton have become synonymous for.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Fuji X100 Shutter Button

I am really loving my Fuji X100. It is a brilliant little camera and as I have said before my other cameras are becoming pretty much redundant since I got it.

Apart from the excellent camera straps I bought from the eBay seller Footprint Straps - please see the link below - I decided to buy an orange shutter button to complete the orange theme.

I ordered it a few weeks ago from a seller in China. I paid £4.58 including postage and today it arrived. The picture below taken on my iPhone really doesn't do the colour justice. It is a very bright orange and not a million miles aways from the colour of my Brompton.

I love it and shooting with it makes things even more silky smooth than before. I really like it and it marks the end of my accessories for my X100. That is, unless you out there are aware of anything else one can get that would be of interest.

Click below to be taken to my X100 leather straps review.

Footprint leather straps review

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Customer Service!

A Brompton bike is not cheap but in my mind you really do get what you pay for. In that sense the prices are pretty good. I have two Brompton bikes and as you know, I love them. The shop you buy one from is a very important consideration as it could be the start of a long term relationship. This idea was certainly tested when a friend recently decided to buy their very first Brompton.

He went in to a quite well know shop which will remain nameless. The level of customer service was rather shocking. I will elaborate.

My friend wanted a titanium sage green. Telescopic seat post, Brooks saddle, firm suspension, P handlebars, rack, 6 x gears and Marathon tyres. It was a bespoke order and he was excited about all the options.

When at the shop he went through the various items and was told that they might be having a titanium bike in that colour delivered next week and that they keep those items in stock and could fit them at the shop. The sales person was perhaps trying to be helpful and allow my friend to bypass the otherwise 10 - 12 week wait. This is where things took a turn for the worst.

My friend said that actually he didn't mind waiting as he would prefer to just have it made at Brompton to his spec and delivered to the shop for collection. In addition to this the extra time might mean the new cranks would be fitted.

At this the sales assistant turned to quite an abrupt tone and said that the shop had qualified technicians who could easily carry out the changes with the parts they held in stock. My friend politely said that he wanted a bespoke Brompton and didn't want it that way.

In the end my friend was so frustrated with it all that he left the shop saying that he thought the customer was always right and that if he didn't see the problem in them just placing an order? In the end my friend went in to another stockist of Brompton bikes, went through what he wanted and was told to expect his new Brompton in about 10 weeks.

I don't quite know what went on in that particular shop or what the problem was of placing an order for what the customer wanted and was paying for? My friend plays with a very straight bat and him telling me of his experience has put me off that particular shop somewhat. My friend has said that he will not use that shop again under any circumstances and I believe him.

Wind on a Brompton!

Oooooh Matron! With a title 'Wind of a Brompton' I am sure you might have expected some sort of double entendre plucked from a Carry On film. I am of course talking quite literally about the wind. (Steady titters please).

The past few days have been interesting on my daily commute. I am sure you know where I am going with my choice of adjective - interesting. Yesterday it bucketed down. At one point on the way home the rain was travelling vertically up - possibly as the wind was blowing in that direction.

Today the journey home was arduous as I was cycling directly into a strong gust. Thankfully I have the sense to use a Brompton as its smaller profile does help in this regard. Roadies really did have to battle on the commute home and I almost felt sorry for them.

On Saturday I will be cycling from central London to Cambridge with a few other mad intrepid Bromptonians. This is merely a recce for the same ride which will take place in April. Weather forecasts seem to be all over the place when in advance and we will not really know what it will be like until nearer the time or the actual day itself. It would appear that the winds will remain. This will make things that bit harder, but for me even more of a challenge.

Sunday 27 January 2013

The Horrors of 'HELMET HAIR' On a Brompton!

The title of this blog entry would imply that the horrors of 'Helmet Hair' are confined to Brompton users. I suspect cyclists of any persuasion might have to endure this awful by-porduct of wearing a cycle helmet.

After my ride this morning I took my cycle helmet off and glanced in to the large windows of the Royal Albert Hall. To my horror my hair had formed into a French-type crop that Julius Caesar would have been proud of. I have been to the British Museum many times and my hair now resembled that of several Roman Emperors. As I turned my head to openly gaze in to the mirror like window, in full view of several tourists already drawn to me because of the bright orange Brompton,  I wagered that my hairstyle was not that dissimilar to a young Sir Derek Jacobi when playing I, Claudius! 

After coming home last week I had deep ridges in my hair that produced a hairstyle that can only be described as 'Leroy from Fame.' You know, the television programme from the 80's where you start paying in sweat! 

The awful thing about 'helmet hair' is that you never quite know what you are going to get? One of the reasons I stopped cycling in the early 90's (longer hair than now) was that I regularly had 'helmet hair' that somehow transformed my hairstyle to that of Liberace at the peak of his fame!

Dear reader, do you suffer from 'Helmet Hair' or is it just me? I would love to know what you think on this subject so please leave a comment.

Hyde Park Brompton Ride

This morning I was up bright and early and off to South Kensington to meet up with my riding partner iCrazyBee.

I rained quite a bit last night and on route it decided to pout down. Luckily, as soon as we met up and started to ride it stopped and the sun made a welcome appearance.

Going to Hyde Park quite early is the best option as later on it does tend to get rather busy. We more or less had the place to ourselves and I like to think we brightened the place up. Towards the southern end of Hyde Park the Household Cavalry rode past. Normally there would have been lots of people taking photographs but today it was just iCrazyBee and myself.

This was my first lengthy ride (apart from my commute) since the excitement of the Nocturne. It did made me think that I am really going to have to up my game as far as training goes. I have entered and will be participating in all number of rides this year and I want to increase my growing fitness levels further.

The Household Cavalry must have know we were coming?
I took the Garmin Edge 800 with me and yet again the screen that I have customised which displays a multitude of information was extremely useful.  I have it set to display:

Average Speed
Elapsed time
Distance to destination
Maximum speed

The great thing about this little 800 is that I have another screen at my disposal (obtained by a finger swipe) that displays fewer items but in a much larger font. Again that screen is fully customisable.

After I had been on the ride my bike was filthy! I had not cleaned it for a while and once we had been out and about on our travels I set to work giving it a thorough clean. There really is something to be said for having a winter bike and a Sunday best bike for fair weather riding.

Below you can find the link to the brilliant Garmin Connect website where you can have a look at the ride data and maps from today's ride.

Hyde Park Brompton Ride Data

Saturday 26 January 2013

It will soon be a sad farewell to the Garmin 800!

Next week I am going to cycle from London to Cambridge with a few brave friends - all on Brompton bikes - as a recce for the same ride with a larger number of riders (again all on Brompton bikes) later in the year.

Unfortunately it will also mark the end of my test run with the Garmin 800. As you may know, Garmin very kindly let me borrow one to test out and review. I write 'unfortunately' as I have loved using the Garmin 800. It has been a constant companion on my Brompton bikes and I will really miss it. The information it displays is so useful! Maps, speed of use, battery life and user customisation are all excellent. This in combination with the 'Garmin Connect' website in my opinion destroys the competition.  I will be putting the finishing touches to my review after next weeks big ride and navigating from London to Cambridge is going to test it to the limit. 

I can hear you say, if it is so good are you going to buy one? The simple answer is yes I would love one. It is definitely worth the money and I am going to miss it terribly when I send it back. Sadly, I cannot afford one straight away as Christmas has only just been and gone. (I want to stay married to Mrs Orange Brompton as I am extremely fond of her).  I will however save up for one, however long it takes.

Brighton with my X100

It was my intention to go out on a Brompton Club ride this morning but a puncture (that must have been slow and overnight as I used my Brompton on my commute yesterday without problems) meant that I would be unfashionably late. I therefore had to pass on what looked like a great ride.

We decided instead to pay another visit to Brighton, as it was such a lovely day. My X100 came with me. I really am loving this X100 and find that I rarely use the LCD screen at all.  The screen is excellent but the hybrid viewfinder is just so drop dead gorgeous sexy time, that I use it for 99% of all shots.

Brighton, I have decided is a rather lovely place. Last time it was in the rain and the better weather allowed us to explore that bit more. On the beach we tried to skim stones, while seagulls screamed their disapproval that we were throwing stones and not some sort of food.

A bit like the London Eye but on a smaller scale.

Cycling seems to be big in Brighton. There is a lovely cycle lane that runs right across the sea front, affording quite stunning views. Lots of cyclists were out in force. Everything from top of the range road bikes to rusty heaps that looked as it they had just been reclaimed from the sea!

The famous pier

While walking along the sea front I counted Six Brompton, two Moulton, two Dahon and two Tern bikes. It would seen that folders are quite popular in Brighton.

The King now advertises iced cream. 
 With the X100 I set the camera to record black and white jPegs and RAW in colour. I have placed the black and white pictures here but the RAW colour files are really good and with a bit of tinkering could be even better than straight out of the camera.

We popped in to the Pavilion and even upon a second viewing the internal decoration had the power to leave one opened jawed.

The Pavilion - well worth a visit.
After having some fish and chips at 'Alfie Ramsden's' which was staffed entirely by Russians we headed back to the car and home. When the weather really gets better I think I might bring the family back to explore more on bike. On the way home we again went past Ditchling Beacon and I think that a group ride from London to Brighton is going to have to be a must. The Bacon would certainly provide a never to be forgotten moment!

Friday 25 January 2013

Achilles Heel

Coming up to 15 years ago I had the misfortune to rupture my achilles tendon. At the time I did not know that I had ruptured my achilles tendon and I actually hobbled around on it for two days before reluctantly going to local A and E to have it looked over.

I will not go in to any detail about what caused my tendon to rupture as it is a lengthy and woeful tale. All I will say is that is was a sporting injury. I had to have an operation to have the bits of tendon sowed back together and had my leg in a cast for eight weeks. Once the cast was off I started a lengthy period of physiotherapy. This was going well until when back at home I was merely hobbling from the living room to he kitchen, when I heard an audible and sickening ripping sound and an unimaginable pain. In fact I actually turned round to see who had kicked me in the ankle?! Of course no one had.

Another visit to A and E confirmed the worst. I have somehow ruptured the tendon again! Another operation was performed but as I had been in a cast for so long the previous time it was decided I wouldn't be allowed a cast this time. This meant that I had to be incredibly careful as my poor ankle was in contestant peril!

Thankfully, all went well and after seven long months I was able to walk properly again but my left leg would always be weaker than the right. It was a terrible time but I got through it, despite it meaning all contact or even mildly contact sports were completely out of the question from that point on. This was not a terrible loss as when playing rugby I hated getting dirty and along with some of my fellow 'gentleman backs' took great delight in finishing a game with rugby shirt devoid of mud.

After the Nocturne last week my ankle - the bad one - was sore. I was worried that I had done something. Upon closer inspection I discovered that the soreness was caused by my orange and yellow trainers causing a rather severe blister on the back of my ankle.

I have made a note to buy a new pair of cycling trainers at some point and buy a pair that are comfortable and functional rather than going for my Achilles heel - anything that is orange in colour!

Thursday 24 January 2013


Yes! 110,000 page views reached. That's 10,000 during the last 14 days.

Saving Weight!

Since the IG Nocturne last weekend I have been preoccupied with the weight of my Brompton.

As you know I opted to take my Raw Lacquer S2L which did provide a considerable weight saving anyway. By taking off the mudguards, Brooks saddle and fitting Kojak tyres instead of its usual Marathons, I managed to get the weight of the bike down to 10.3kg. (In case you are wondering how I weighed the bike, I used the excellent custom build tool at the even more excellent 'Compton Cycles').

This got me wondering. I looked at a M6L titanium to discover that if it was also in racing livery (Kojak tyres and mudguards off) the weight would be almost the same. Of course there is a premium for this weight saving but to have that lighter weight with all those gears to play with would be lovely!

Just picture it. An M6L X -orange of course - firm suspension, extended seat post, mud guards, Marathon tyres, front carrier block and a Brooks... I can but dream, but what a dream!

Sunday 20 January 2013

Bike Locks!

One of the great things about owning a Brompton is that you can take it anywhere. I know lots of Brompton owners who do not have a lock of any description for this very reason. It is very rare for me to actually lock one of my Brompton bikes up as I just couldn't bear not knowing it was safe and sound.

I will recall a tale from my past which has stayed with me and will stay with me for life! After coming down from university I worked in central London. Those of you who have read my blog long enough will know that I hate public transport with a passion. If it is busy I have a tendency to become uncomfortable to the extent that I have had to get off and walk! My salvation came in the form of a mountain bike on which I could cycle in to work on. (I did have a 1998 or 1999 Brompton but sold it).

At this time bicycle D-locks were fairly new. I remember Keith Chegwin on a Saturday morning television programme trying unsuccessfully trying to unlock and saw through one. To protect my mountain bike (which wasn't at all expensive) I bought a D-lock. Every day I cycled to Cavendish Square and locked my bike to the metal railings near the green taxi cafe hut.

All was fine for about three months until one fateful Tuesday evening. After work I went to where my bike was locked to discover that it was gone. I had become a statistic. What was worst was that my bike thief had, through secrets of the thief guild, managed to unlock my lock, take the bike and lock my D-lock back to the railings! He was either a skilled locksmith or a member of the Magic Circle who had perhaps fallen on hard times?

If mobile phones with a camera had of been widely available back then, I would have taken a photo. When I got home and told my parents they nodded reassuringly but my dad could contain his laughter no more and I thought he was going to die there and then. For the next few days every time he saw the D-lock which rested on the hall table, he went into fits of laughter.

Thankfully, technology has moved on. Yesterday at the Nocturne I had to leave my Brompton unattended so I locked it to the metal barriers using a meaty 'Kryptonite Evolution Series 4' D-lock. Pity they weren't around all those years ago!

I get to interview Top Gear's James May about his Brompton Bicycle.

James May needs no introduction to millions who tune in to Top Gear on Sunday evenings. He has also made some great television programmes on his own: James May Man's Lab, James May's Toy Stories, James May's Big Ideas and James May on the Moon to name but a few. His is famous for his extensive knowledge of cars and all things mechanical and is generally an all round good egg.

What you might not know is that James May is also a bit of a Brompton fan and this goes back a long way before they became 'trendy.'

I asked James twelve questions with the expectation that he could answer as many as he wished. He actually answered all my questions which I have listed below together with James' response.

1) What sort of Brompton do you own? (M type, colour, gearing). What is off the peg (bought from those in stock in a bike shop) or bespoke (where you have specific requirements and had to wait a few weeks for it to be made)

James May

It’s a dark green T5 from, I think, 1997. So it has the five-speed Sturmey Archer, mudguards and dynamo lights. It’s standard apart from the optional bracket on the front to allow the despatch bag to be carried. I have this as well, and its waterproof cover.

2) What made you buy a Brompton folding bike rather than a 'proper' bike?

James May

I have a ‘proper’ bike as well, but the Brompton fits in a car, which revolutionised my life. Moving cars around for work often leaves me slightly stranded, and car recovery after a night out in which I vowed ‘not to drink’ is greatly facilitated by a Brompton.

3) Brompton owners can sometimes be regarded as eccentric (being kind). Tell me what you think of this?

James May

I think this was very true when I bought mine. They tended to be ridden by oddballs, engineering lecturers, that sort of person. Now they seem to be very fashionable. I ride around shouting ‘I bought mine before they were cool you know’.

4) My best day when out on my Brompton was riding in a peloton of 17 other Brompton bikes on the way to Oxford. Describe your Brompton best moment.

James May

I once actually rode it into a posh restaurant. The concierge bloke simply took it from me, folded it up, and put it in the cloakroom. Didn’t bat an eyelid. Maybe it happens all the time.

5) Why do you think many Brompton owners are so enthusiastic about the Brompton brand and their bikes in general?

James May

I think Bromptons have always been a bit of a cult, and the owners are a bit evangelical about them. There are folding bike pretenders, but the Brompton folds most convincingly. That’s the point of a folding bike.

6) Have you ever been to the Brompton World Championships? If yes please let me know what you thought about it? If not yet, would you consider attending in the future?

James May

I’ve heard about them, but never been. Maybe I should. Do people do wheelies on them?

7) Do you think your colleagues Mr Clarkson and Mr Hammond would ever use a Brompton? What would they say about it ?

James May

I’m not terribly interested in their opinions of my stuff. I suspect Hammond would like it, because he likes bicycles. Not sure Jeremy can actually ride one.

8) As someone known for their fondness/knowledge of motor cars how do people react when they know you like/have a Brompton.

James May

Incredulity, often, at least if they’re unenlightened. I particularly hate road sectarianism. It’s all personal transport, and we have enough enemies from without.

9) Some Brompton owners are fully clad in Lycra cycling gear while some just wear normal clothes/ suites. What do you wear when out on your Brompton?

James May

I wear what I happened to have on, which is what was clean when I woke up. I think the point of a Brompton is that it can just be incorporated into normal life. They’re not good if you’re wearing flares though. Apparently.

10) What is the longest journey you have ever made cycling your Brompton? Where was it?

James May

When I was younger, I did some truly massive rides on ‘proper’ bikes, but I’ve tended to use the Brompton as a local transport solution. But I have ridden it happily across London.

11) My brother has an MG and whenever he sees another MG owner while driving he always beeps the horn/flashes his lights. More often than not they do the same. When I am on my Brompton and see another Bromptonian I always ding my bell. Any thoughts/comments on this? Is it just is British thing, exclusive to the owners of cult machines?

James May

I used to do this in the early days, when Bromptons were still quite rare. Less so now. But it is nice when, during conversation, you discover that someone else has one. It’s a great bonding moment.

12) There is a serious amount of engineering behind a Brompton. Is this important to you?

James May

Yes. It’s a clever bike, definitely, and you can’t really change anything significant without corrupting its foldability. I met Andrew Ritchie once, and he explained his thinking to me. He’s the sort of person who would ride a Brompton even if he hadn’t designed it.

I am really grateful to James - who I am sure is a very busy man - for answering my questions and providing some great answers! Many thanks James. Special thanks to Fiona at 'Arlington Enterprises' James' agents for arranging it all!

Richmond Park Spin in the Snow!

After yesterday's excitement at the Nocturne folding bike race I decided to take the family to Richmond Park for an early morning spin.

It was quite beautiful, although very cold - mainly due to the wind chill. Despite the weather cyclists were out in force braving the elements. Richmond Park really did look quite resplendent in its winter coat. The red deer that occupy the park, nonchalantly carried on their business while the snow fell, dog walkers ambled about almost being the servant to the master and cyclists spun round.

My two Bromponettes were not overly impressed by the weather and cycling combination but had a good go. They seem very adept at ascending the hills. Mrs Orange Brompton decided that to cycle in such conditions was bordering on insanity, so watched from the sidelines.

2013 has certainly started well. It looks as if there are quite a few rides stacking up which can only be a good thing - assuming I am allowed out to play?!

Friday 18 January 2013

The Night Before the Nocturne Ben Hur Like Track!

It is the night before the IG London Nocturne Folding Bike Race taking place at the London Bike Show. To paraphrase Sir Michael Caine, "bloody hell!"

I am beginning to feel the nerves, despite looking forward to it all. Today would have gone slowly but as it snowed in vast amounts, even in London, it provided an interesting distraction to prevent concerns surfacing.

The track does appear to be quite terrifying...terrifying I tell thee! In fact, the tight hairpin turns reminded me of Ben Hur! As photographs started to appear today, posted by people who had gone to the Bike Show, I became gradually more concerned. Visions of modified wheels (the sort that nasty Roman had in Ben Hur) drifted by. I am sure it won't be that bad! (It will).

I have written before when writing about the Brompton World Championships that a gentleman should not run. I believe this and have been indoctrinated to try and pass it on. In case you are wondering the only exceptions are: if one is late for ones wedding; it is a time of war or if you are engaged in some sort of sport. Well, I suppose tomorrow is perhaps some sort of sport but I will reluctantly canter rather than gallop to my bike!

I have decided to take my Raw Lacquer S2L tomorrow. It is a bike I don't use often enough. I am a huge fan of its elegant two gears and the significant weight reduction that the absence of a hub gear makes. It will have its advantages and disadvantages but I did use it at the last Nocturne, so it seems only fitting I use it again.

One is meant to have a good nights sleep before a big event but I am not sure I am going to?! I still have a few things to get ready for tomorrow and pack the essentials. I know that I will actually enjoy doing all this.

I will of course let you know how I get on and if you can brave the elements and are going, please say hello.

Tally ho!

Thursday 17 January 2013

Raw Lacquer S2L on Secret Test Track

After work today I headed back to the secret test track but this time with my Raw Lacquer S2L. I must have behaved well enough on Tuesday as I was invited back! Again, many thanks for the hospitality.

My Raw Lacquer with Kojak tyres is a very different machine to that with its normal Marathons. It is a firm and very responsive ride to say the least and takes some getting used to. While there I made some adjustments to the saddle, as I took off the black Brooks to replace it with the original (and lighter) Brompton standard sadlle. This bike is just over 10kg and the bike feels lighter in every way.

The test track I rode on is flat with little in the way of incline. One lap took next to no time. One thing I noticed is that on this short and tight track, I began with the starting off gear and quickly moved to the second gear and then didn't move out of it at all. I think this was a bad move on my part as I should have perhaps moved to the first gear when powering out of the corners. I also missed the extra gears that my beloved Orange M6L has.

Decisions, decisions... I still haven't made up my mind fully about which bike to take with me but I will sleep on it and make a final decision tomorrow when I get home from work.

My thoughts this week have been dominated by the Nocturne: what bike to take; what to wear; how to get there. In many ways I cannot believe it is but a day and a bit away!

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Almost ready for the IG Nocturne Folding Bike Race

As you may be aware I bought some Kojak tyres recently in preparation for the IG Nocturne Folding Bike Race this Saturday.

I am nearly there. I decided to fit my Kojak tyres to my Raw Lacquer S2L. I have also removed the mudguards. The bike looks pretty mean in its full racing trim. If I decide to go with the S2L I will remove the Brooks saddle and refit the original Brompton one - which will reduce the weight by a couple of hundred grams. I have even take off the rear Brompton battery light to save some weight!

In fact this weight saving lark is quite ridiculous as I am contemplating taking off the front carrier blog, which I reliably informed will shave a further 81g off the overall weight!

You may have spotting me writing, '...if I decide to go with the S2L...' I must confess that I still haven't made up my mind yet. I have no qualms about taking the Kojak tyres off and fitting them to my beloved Orange Brompton. This job is easy now that I have the ParkTool bike stand. Knowing me I will make my final decision as late as Friday night!

A new nylon hook had to be purchased as did a small metal plate to prevent the front brake cable rubbing against the front fork. The fold is not affected but the bike is less stable when folded as it doesn't have the mudguard to act as a stabiliser.

Mean Machine

I can almost hear you ask, what is it like with the Kojak tyres? I have taken it out for a test run and the first thing to say is that it feels a great deal lighter than before. It is about 800g lighter than my M6L anyway but it it noticeably lighter with the Kojak tyres and mudguards off.

As far as the ride is concerned - what can I say. The 115psi makes things very nippy and responsive, perhaps enhanced by the slender profile of this tyre. It is a quicker bike with them on and muguards off - it is as simple as that. Not only this, having them on gives a phycological boost that you are going quicker even if you are not.

Do I like them? In a nutshell, yes. I have always wanted to try Kojak tyres and even though I doubt if they will see much use after this race unless it is dry, I like them a great deal. I certainly see now why many people swear by them and say you will never go back.

I have to say that my Raw Lacquer S2L is a good looking beast. Many say that it is their favourite colour. Whenever I use it I always get people asking about the unusual colouring and brazing and complimenting it, but in its racing livery to my eyes at least, it looks stunning.

There are only a few days to go now and I am really looking forward to just taking part. Reducing the bikes weight is really just a bit of fun. I have no illusions that it will make the slightest of differences to my performance on the day but I can but dream!

Specialized No Longer Stock Brompton Bikes

A friend was at a Specialized Concept store this afternoon with the intention of placing an order for a  Brompton under a cycle to work scheme. (Yes I convinced him that Brompton was the way to go). He came away rather disappointed.

It was his intention of buying a M6R, black main frame and Turkish Green extremities, Brooks saddle, Marathon tyres and O Bag. Unfortunately he was told that Brompton bikes were no longer being sold at Specialised. He didn't provide any details on whether the decision to end this came from them or Brompton. 

I have bought both of my Brompton bikes from Specialized, mainly as it was the most convenient location for me to get to at the time and I have always found them pretty good. If the decision to no longer have Specialized as one of the approved dealers has come from Brompton, I am sure they have their reasons. Perhaps one of you out there knows why?

My friend was rather dejected as he has been looking forward to this moment for ages. A search via the Brompton website made him happier as there are lots of alternatives not too far away from where he lives. He went to one of these and left with a piece of paper containing a breakdown of what he wanted. He now has to give this to his employer to start the ball rolling.

The many cycle to work schemes do seem very complicated. If anyone out there has bought their Brompton or other bicycle using it, please comment and let me and the other readers know.

Tuesday 15 January 2013

The London Bike Show - Say Hello!

On Saturday I will be going to The London Bike Show at London's Excel. This runs from 17th - 20th January. I am going primarily for the the IG London Nocturne Folding Bike Race as I have written about. (Rather excited about it all as you can guess).

Apart from racing at the Nocturne I am going to have a look at all the exhibitors and see what is hot in the world of cycling. (See it doesn't all have to be Brompton).

If you are going and spot me, please come over and say hello. How will you spot me I hear you say? I will be the one wearing bright orange socks and a striped orange and yellow blazer. Believe me, you will not be able to miss me!!

I may not bring my beloved Orange Brompton however. I haven't fully made up my mind yet but I am thinking my nippy two speed Raw Lacquer S2L might be just the ticket. Beside, when I raced at the Nocturne in 2012, it was the S2L that I used.

From the list of competitors it is clear to see that Bromptonians will dominate among those taking part and quite right too. The course is going to be lightening fast and with the top 15 going through to the final from each heat, I have no illusions of getting through. This is more about experiencing the nerve racking buzz of competition and the atmosphere created by the large crowds.

So, if you are going on Saturday and spot me, please come and say hello. If you're staying for the race itself, save a cheer for me!

I take my Brompton to a Secret Test Track!

This afternoon I went to a secret test track at a secret location, in preparation for Saturdays IG Nocturne Folding Bike Race!

While I cannot reveal the location of said track, I can say that having a blog with over 100,000 page views has brought me to the attention of a few interested parties who kindly invited me to their facility. To those people I can only say I am very grateful and thank you for inviting me!

The track wasn't that long, oval and a little longer than that for the indoor Nocturne circuit. What it did have was a couple of tight turns with one being incredibly tight. This I suspect is going to be very similar to that we will experience at the Nocturne indoor track.

I found negotiating the corners difficult at first and kept running wide. After a few test laps I found this better but at speed proved to be another learning curve! For me it was difficult on my own as I was the only person on the track. I cannot image what it is going to be like with another 30+ riders all wanting to go as fast as they can. It will be nothing short of terrifying!

I went round the track at full speed for ten laps - the number we will complete at the Nocturne - and found this demanding to say the least! I am not sure my fitness will carry me through to maintaining a more or less flat out speed for all ten laps!

It is all quite a scary prospect and though I am looking forward to Saturday, this experience has left me slightly anxious with a few butterflies in my stomach. It has also confirmed in my mind which bike I will take with me!

Again, to the owners of this track thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedules to not only think of me in the first place but to allow me to visit your wonderful facility and provide me with lots of useful tips. I really am quite humbled.

Sunday 13 January 2013

I mean Business at the IG London Nocturne!

As the IG London Nocturne is an indoor race, with a tight and fast circuit I knew that I wanted to finally get and eventually fit something I have coveted since buying a Brompton. Kojak slick tyres.

I have seen Kojaks on lots of Brompton bikes and admired them from afar. They are certainly lightweight.

Kojak                230g               Max psi 115
Marathon          420g               Max psi 110
Marathon Plus   480g              Max psi 95

This of course means that both Kojak tyres are almost the same weight as one of the Marathons. It doesn't stop there. The 115 psi will provide and even sportier feel to proceedings. The slim profile offers less rolling resistance to the extent that gearing is lowered sum 2.5%

They do have a RaceGuard protection strip along the middle of the tyre but one does have to be careful about the surface your ride on. Roads are generally okay but anything rougher and they wouldn't be particularly suited.

Kojak's are tyres I have always wanted to try out but i have not been brave enough, until now. I cannot wait to fit them but the bike that I fit them to is still under debate.

Regular readers will know that I have two Brompton bikes. My beloved Orange Brompton, an M6L and a Raw Lacquer S2L. For the Nocturne in 2012 I opted for the S2L as I felt it was a nipper and sorter ride. Kojak tyres would look stunning on my S2L and take the weight overall down to roughly 10.4kg as apposed to my M6L would be about 1kg more.

I will have to deliberate long and hard about this but if you out there have any suggestions or opinions about which Brompton I should use, please feel free to comment!

Lost the weight of a Brompton!

Regular readers will perhaps know that I have lost a little weight since the Brompton World Championships in August 2012. This morning I weighed myself for my now weekly routine and saw that I was 12 and a half stone dead - slightly under 80kg.

I don't know for sure but when at the BWC I suspect my weight was a little over 14 stone - roughly 90kg.  I have noticed some subtle changes. The trousers I wear to work have more room in them to the extent that I have had to tighten my belt a couple of notches. I have lost a few inches across my chest. As I say, these changes are subtle and as I have lost this weight slowly over a long period of time, it isn't that noticeable. However the scales do not lie.

Since going on more and more rides and for longer distances I have felt fitter but this is also due to the weight I have lost. I have maintained 12 and a half stone for several seeks now and feel that yes I could lose a little more, but that I have probably plateaued. 

To lose this weight I have't gone on any crash diets or joined WeightWatchers. In fact if you saw a before and after shot, I suspect you might say I perhaps look a little slimmer - but nothing dramatic. I am not even on a diet. I have merely cut back on some of the bad stuff, tried to eat a little better and cycled more frequently. 

When I looked at the scales this morning it did get me thinking. I have lost 10kg which is not that much more than my Raw Lacquer S2L! I find this thought quite sobering to say the least. In fact I have just stopped typing this to go and pick it up. To think that I was more or less carrying this extra weight is nothing short of amazing to me.

When I have been ascending the hills at Richmond Park or wherever they have occurred on my adventures, I find them a great deal easier than I did previously. This is of course for the simple reason that I am not carrying the weight of another Brompton as well as the one I am riding!

There does seem to be quite a few people out there who have bought or are thinking buying a Brompton for the purpose of getting fitter/losing some weight. If this applies to, all I can say is that so far, it has worked for me! I would love to know how you are getting on.

Police, Camera, Action on a Couple of Brompton Bikes!!

One thing I omitted from my write up of yesterday's great test ride for the Greenwich Loop which is officially called the 'Thames Triple Chaser' was some shady, dodgy goings on near London City Airport.

As we rode along the Thames we came to a section that ran parallel with London City Airport. In fact as we cycled alongside a plane was taking off. All very impressive stuff. There soon came along a problem in the form of a locked fence with gate. What were we to do?

After scratching of heads it was decided that we would climb over said fence and pass bikes and bags over. Once on the other side we would be able to continue our journey.

I offered to be first over the top and although I allude to the bravery of people from the past who did just that, I was not. The spot I was going to go over was deemed not to be the best place to perform this task by Mark. He offered an alternative location I could begin my attempt of mount fence. (I suspect he has done this sort of thing before).

To my surprise I negotiated this obstacle pretty well and was happy that it offered a new form of cross-training for the Nocturne next week. With S-bag and both bikes over we resumed our journey.

The docklands location reminded me of those 1970's police television programmes where fences are overcome on order to catch the baddie. I don't quite think that the car chases often seen in these programmes would have ever had as much impact as two people pursuing a criminal on a pair of Brompton bikes?!

I doubt whether our antics will appear on those, 'Police, Camera, Action,' type television programmes but if they do, can I say now that I am very sorry, I won't do it again and please do not tell my Mum and Dad!

Saturday 12 January 2013

Along, Under, Over and On the River Thames!

This morning I was up bright and early and off to meet fellow intrepid Bromptonian and Club member Mark. To get that extra bit of training for the IG London Nocturne next week I actually cycled from northwest London to central London. (I must be mad as this was over 11 miles).

When I reached London proper I tried to get some cash out of a cashpoint but it ate my card and refused to give me my cash! A very helpful member of the public standing nearby on his mobile, did not tell me that this particular cashpoint was easting cards for breakfast, as I later found out that he had just had the same experience, not five minutes before I cycled up!

Not really knowing what to do I waited around a little and luckily a member of staff was there opening up the branch. I didn't get my card back (will be sent to me) but I did get my cash and a receipt. This made me late for my 08:30 meeting at Trafalgar Square!

I used the Garmin Edge 800, from Garmin to navigate me to London which it did faultlessly. I had uploaded Marks' route but unfortunately due to my incompetence in either loading it/using the Garmin I somehow lost this route. Should have looked at the manual!

Before long we were cycling east and over copious cobbled streets. These certainly made us give them our fullest attention as we carefully negotiated our way across them. In the distance we could just about see Canary Wharf and we pressed on.

Along the river Thames

We soon arrived at the Greenwich foot tunnel. A wonderful piece of engineering and something we didn't manage to do on our last Brompton ride. This really is a must. The lift is positioned so that when the doors open the tunnel snakes its way directly in front of you. There is another foot tunnel further up river at North Woolwich, which I believe is slightly longer.

Going doen this tunnel was reminded me of opening credits of 'The Prisoner.'

Under the river Thames

At the other side of the foot tunnel we had a very quick photo opportunity at the Cutty Sark before pressing on to the Royal Observatory. The cycle up to this was quite a hill but great training for next week.

Picking up the pace a little we cycled towards the Emirates Air Line - a cable car experience over the river Thames. Again a must do!

BOKEH on a Brooks saddle.

Over the river Thames

Nearly at our journeys end we saw a perhaps proposed cycle path that isn't quite ready yet. We placed our bikes so you can imaging what it might look like one day.

Arriving back at Greenwich we retired to a pub where we had a pretty mean coffee and chewed the fat about next week, our worries and concerns about next week and what we were going to do in the next few days to prepare for next week. The IG London Nocturne was very much in our thoughts.

I decided to take the Thames Clipper back to London (so that I could say I have been along, under, over and on the river Thames) but due to it being high tide, they were only going as far as Bankside.

On the river Thames

The view from the Thames Clipper

Once of the Thames Clipper I put a post code into the Garmin Edge 800 and it took me to where I wanted to go effortlessly. This little Garmin is great. I had the backlight on virtually all day and the battery still had plenty of life in it. (I must now learn how to use it properly and read the manual, rather than like Luke Skywalker on the Death Star run where he just used the Force).

In all the ride was 25 miles but added to the journey there and back I have covered quite a bit today. Another good day out and luckily the weather, although cold was dry.

The next week is going to go by at a sedate pace I suspect. Thoughts of racing at the Nocturne will I am sure dominate my thoughts.

You can see the ride data collected by the Garmin Edge 800 by clicking the link below.

Greenwich Loop Test Run Ride Data

Friday 11 January 2013

Brompton to Unveil???

At the London Bike Show, Brompton might unveil something new. There have been a few tweets and hints, teasing us loyal devotees of the said brand. This has caused quite a bit of sooth saying, speculation and predictions.

Some have said it might be a lighter Brompton. The words carbon fibre have been banded about, more of a dream than anything else. I doubt if this would happen due to cost.

Others have mentioned disc brakes. I haven't had too much of a problem with the brake on both my Brompton bikes. The new brake levers look great and are quite new. Besides, would there be much of an advantage to be gained with the small wheels of a Brompton and disc brakes?

I have even heard of a 20 inch wheel version. I think not however. The whole point of a Brompton is that it is perfect personal transport and the 16 inch wheel and folding package perfect for this. Added to this is the fact I'd still prefer the convenience and dare I say it the look of the 16 inch Brompton. (I once owned a Dahon Speed 7 and although a good little bike for what it was, a Brompton killer it was not. As for convenience and portability...I think not!

A hybrid pedal has been muted. Same as we have now but incorporating some sort of cleat system. Not overly sure about his either.

There you have it. I don't really know what Brompton will unveil but I am sure it will be worth the wait whatever it is. In the meantime you can continue to speculate.

Have you heard of any other rumours? What do you think of the those I have mentioned? It would be great to get some comments on this subject.

Thursday 10 January 2013

Day 3 with the Garmin Edge 800

Since getting the Garmin from Garmin I haven't changed the screens and just kept them on the factory settings.

Today I decide to alter them. Changing to suit your tastes and what information you'd like displayed takes seconds and is a great way to makes thing bespoke to your tastes.

On one page I opted for 8 sections. I liked this a lot but might change the 'Accuracy' for something else tomorrow.

You have the option of creating 5 pages, all displaying whatever you decide. I made page 2 only have five sections.

One of the things I have really liked about the Garmin 800 is how easy it is to use. It is very intuitive and (to my shame) I have not consulted the instruction manual once since getting it. If I needed advice on how to use or customise it, there are dozens of high quality videos on YouTube to view at your leisure.

As I wrote yesterday I am liking this 800 too much for my liking. I have seen other bike computers, navigation devices but to these eyes, they cannot really hold a candle to this Garmin.

IG London Nocturne January 2013 - I'm in.

I entered the IG London Nocturne in 2012 and last summer I had a fantastic day at a fantastic and well organised event. Several weeks ago I heard that there would be a special event at the London Bike Show, where a version of the IG Nocturne would be held indoors as part of the event. Naturally enough I applied and this evening I found out that I have secured a place!

Happy is an understatement! This is set to be an excellent day all round. The Bike Show will I am sure be excellent to see but the prospect of a folding bike race it more than the icing on the cake.

For last years Nocturne I took my Raw Lacquer S2L and it was pretty good around the course. This time I am not sure - S2L or M6L? Decisions, decisions! 

One thing is for certain I will certainly stand out in the crowd with what I intend to wear to the race! There isn't really a great deal of time left as the race will take place next Saturday, but I will try to get in a little training in from now until this time next week.

I am about 10kg's lighter than I was at the 2012 Nocturne and I hope that this together with slightly better fitness will combine to make things all the more enjoyable. There will be two heats and I suspect the top half of each group will go into the final. If honest, I am just happy to be in the mix but I would love to get into the final as I managed in 2012. It is of course a different circuit and a different race, so we will have to see.

This event is just the start of an exciting line up of events I have got planned for this year. I'm really looking forward to this and next week is probably going to drag a little as I will just be too excited about it all!!


100,000 YES!!!!!

The moment I have been dreaming about, hoping for has finally arrived. I have reached and in fact surpassed 100,000 page views!!!

This major milestone was something that I thought would be surmounted after 4 -5 years of blogging. At about this point last year I was at 15,000 page views. I actually managed to reach more than that in the last month alone!

Perhaps the most important thing in reaching 100,000 page views is that it is solely due to you out there reading, commenting, emailing me and encouraging me.

I want to thank you if you have been a loyal reader from the start, just started to read or perhaps only read a few entries! It all counts.

2012 was a good year but 2013 will be better. I have lots of rides to go on. Some of these will be as part of a group and some will be on my own. I have an increasing amount of products to review - with companies occasionally sending me items to test out. There are also lots of other projects and plans in the pipeline for me as a blog writer but more of that another time.

Thank you again and I hope that I continue to get you riding a bicycle and having your own adventures (but of course a Brompton is the best for this), entertain occasionally and sometimes put a smile on your face.

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Day 2 with the Garmin Edge 800

It has been Day 2 of using the Garmin Edge 800, Garmin has very kindly let me borrow.

On my commute home I used a feature called Virtual Partner. This is a brilliant feature that allows you to have a race against yourself. You tell the Garmin what speed you'd like to maintain and then the device displays a person on a bicycle going at that speed. You can see your progress - faster or slower - against this virtual partner. It also shows you how far behind or ahead you are.

This is a great little feature and would come in very handy for training for racing events or to maintain a certain pace. I enjoyed using it and again glancing at the display was not distracting and felt quite natural.

Last night I downloaded a route a friend had emailed to me quite easily. All is stored away and on Saturday morning I will press go and let it direct me. You can almost certainly read about that trip sometime next week.

I am beginning to like this little Garmin a bit too much for my liking!

The Ultimate Camera Straps For My Fuji X100

Regular readers will already know that a late Christmas present came in the form of a Fujifilm X100. I am totally loving this camera to the extent that nothing else has got a look in on all my Brompton related adventures.

The strap that came with thew camera is perfectly okay but I remember seeing a leather strap on someone else's X100, then on a hulking DSLR and even on a Ricoh GRD IV. I asked them where they got it and was told that it was bought it on an exclusive eBay outlet. After a few searches I discovered that the eBay shop was called, Footprint Straps. Reassuringly, they have a 100% feedback score over of 800 and reading the feedback, you soon discover hundreds of people rate these straps, the service and the company that makes them very highly.

The straps come in many colours and when I discovered that you could actually choose the waxed thread binding as you can see in the photos, I had to have orange! I placed an order for a neck strap - black leather and orange bindings -  and again you can specify the length of strap (within certain restrictions).

Footprint Straps started about a year ago. The leather used to make the straps are sourced from two of the countries finest UK tanneries - J & E Sedgwick, West Midlands and J & F Baker in Devon. The straps are made and put together by one man in his workshop and his straps are sold to currently over 24 countries!

Once the order was placed I waited with eager anticipation. The strap arrived, beautifully packed and was wrapped up in red tissue paper. The smell from the leather was wonderful! The strap itself is pure an unadulterated quality. The ringed eyelets are easy to put onto the camera lugs and a rubber ring protects the sides of the camera from the strap rubbing against it.

The rubber rings (included) prevent the strap rubbing against the  side of the camera - a very clever idea!

The strap isn't much heavier that the one that came with the camera but it is so much better. Carrying the camera across my body (the best way I have found when cycling and my preferred way even when not) is extremely comfortable.  As far as looks go, it enhances an already very handsome camera. The strap was gorgeous and as if from a bygone era when quality mattered.

The strap cost £24.99 with £3.99 postage and packing to the UK. I think for what you are getting this is great value. I was so impressed I also acquired a matching wrist strap for times when I am on two feet and doing a bit of street photography.

The wrist strap is of just the same high quality and again comes with the rubber rings to stop the strap rubbing against the camera body.

One of the rubber rings can be used as an adjuster on the strap to slide up to make the loop smaller and therefore making the strap tighter on the wrist. The wrist strap is £14.99 with £1.99 postage and packing to the UK.

If you are not in the UK an overseas order shouldn't be much of a problem as they already sell to currently 24 countries!

Footprint Straps can be found on there eBay shop via the link below. They even have a flickr page where you can view the many different colour combinations they do. The flickr page is possibly the best to visit as you can click on the many of the pictures to link directly with items available. (The eBay link is for a current item so will expire when the sale ends).

I think they are a brilliant product and can see myself buying another in a different colour of leather. For my money they certainly beat the boring branded camera straps that come with the camera and give things a more bespoke feel.

eBay item

Footprint Strap Flickr Page

Tuesday 8 January 2013

The Garmin 800 Arrives from Garmin!

The Garmin 800 has finally arrived from the great people at Garmin. This delay was entirely my fault. Garmin sent it super fast and we were out when it was initially delivered. A redelivery was set but Mrs Orange Brompton had to go out to collect our youngest from school. It arrive 10 minutes after she left? It was delivered today - this time to my place of work.

I have seen the Garmin 800 many times before as a few friends have one. However, having on in my hand, on my Brompton was an altogether experience.

The model they sent was the city navigator version. This has full UK / European road maps, and candice sensor and a heart rate sensor. I am not sure I will use these as everything looked brand new and I know I'd feel somewhat guilty opening and using them.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Yes, you out there. The updated model the Garmin Edge 810 has just been announced. Why am I getting excited about this model? Well, the 800 won't be put out to seed just yet. It will continue to be available for some time - perhaps at a reduced price to that of the 810. Yes of course the 810 is a better model as it has several updated features but the 800 is still an excellent little number.

Going home this evening I was rather excited. I tapped in the postcode for home and a route was found it seconds - very similar to my Garmin car Sat Nav. Following the suggested route was easy and not in any way distracting. Like my smaller Edge 200 (shown in the picture above) it produced a huge amount of data for the ride. Mileage, maximum speed, average speed, calories used.

Garmin have very kindly allowed me to keep this unit until the beginning of February and I will be putting it through its paces virtually every day from now until then.

I will post mini updates on how I am getting on with it and a larger review in a few weeks time. Even though I have only used it going home today, first impressions are very good. I think I'm going to enjoy this!

Back To Work Made Better By Cycling

I have been back at work for a couple of days now after the Christmas holiday. The thing I find about returning to work after a holiday, is that any back to work blues are more or less over with by lunchtime. In fact the holiday is usually a distant memory by that time too.

The one thing that I actually look forward to in the morning is getting on my Brompton and cycling off to work. On my commute I can ponder the day ahead. I can catch a glimpse of myself in a shop window and think, Brompton bikes are lovely. I can catch a glimpse of myself in another shop window and admire myself on my Brompton.  I can pass the many who are in a car or on a bus often looking miserable.

After a hard day at work the last thing I'd want to do would be to get inside a car and end up in traffic. Worse still would me having to resort to using public transport! Those few minutes before I leave for home are happy ones as I know that I can unwind, ponder a bit more, catch more glimpses of myself in shop windows.

If you don't normally commute by bicycle perhaps give it a go? I am sure you'd find it somewhat therapeutic - even if is wasn't on a Brompton!

Monday 7 January 2013

Misty Richmond Park Group Ride

Yesterday morning I headed back out to Richmond Park for a group ride rather than a training session, however the two frequently get merged as far as I'm concerned.

The day started with the customary meeting point of Costa Coffee adjacent to the railway station. Welcomes over we headed for the first challenge of the day - Nightingale Lane. This is a location I have passed, heard about but not yet cycled up. Recently I blogged about lovings hills, well Nightingale Lane certainly tested that.

It is a 20% gradient - in other words, it's steep! I suspect this location is a warm up for some of the roadies, as there were three in front of us when we got there. As I went through the gears, the incline got steeper and steeper. A roadie in front and clipped in was struggling in his efforts to ascend this beast of a hill. His struggle up the hill was made worse perhaps as he was passed by yours truly and two other Bromptonians. A quite lovely, warm glow type feeling!

Once at Richmond, it was as busy as it was yesterday in terms of the number of cyclist out and about. The forecast was for cloud but what we actually got was a mixture of fog, haze, dampness and drizzle. As I have written before, rain does not bother me so I enjoyed change in the scenery provided by the weather.

Luckily for today the deer kept their distance. I found rather disconcerting to see several people walking ever closer to the deer in order to obtain a better picture. Some were perilously close to them.

Again on the hills the Brompton proved itself yet again as I and a few others were able to attack and overtake a few roadies as soon as a serious incline gifted itself to us.

After over 9 miles inside Richmond we retied to a cafe within the park and chewed the fat for a while before making our separate ways. Hopefully, there will be another big ride to look forward to soon as the calendar is looking terribly sparse up until February!

For the ride data from my trusty Garmin Edge 200, please click on the link below.

Misty Richmond Group Ride Data

Sunday 6 January 2013

Brompton World Championships 2013 - Where?

It is 2013 the start of a new year which can only mean one thing - I will have to get ready for the Brompton World Championships! However, a dark cloud has approached. Mystery surrounds. Rumour is rampant! Brompton owners up and down the country are loosing sleep over the prospect of where the Brompton World Championships 2013 are to be held!!

Okay, okay things aren't exactly that bad. However, the word on street (to use common parlance) is that Blenheim Palace will not be the venue for this red letter day. This has yet to be confirmed but you heard it here first - unless this is already common knowledge and I'm the last one to know!

I have attended two BWC at Blenheim and throughly enjoyed them. Last years event was by far the best as there were three events you could enter. Wherever the new venue is I am sure that Brompton will choose wisely. Hopefully it will be in this country - for me a move abroad would not be welcome. British made bike, so the ultimate set of races/events should be in Britain. I also hope that wherever is chosen, the three events remain as they were great fun.

So, if you are fretting, find yourself biting a finger nail, reminiscing over memories of past BWC's I wouldn't worry too much. Brompton, in the events I have attended, are masters at organisation. They really do know how to put on a great event and whenever they decide to announce the venue, I suspect concerns will disappear. 

In the meantime, it is game on. Think about the all important, what to wear. Start training as 2013 could be my year and this might be the year that I win!?

Saturday 5 January 2013

A Windproof Jacket to Burn Out Your Retinas!

A few weeks ago I bought myself a black Altura Night Vision Windproof Jacket. I have been very impressed with it. Today I managed to get a slightly updated orange version - and my goodness it is orange! Brilliant!!!

The jacket has:

Stretch, Windproof, water repel front, shoulder and sleeve panels.

Stretch thermal rear panels.

Full front zip with garage.

Three open rear pockets and a zipped security pocket. (All well positioned and extremely useful).

Velcro light stick LED mount.

Critically positioned reflective panels and trim (some of which you can see in the photos).

It is lightweight and could not be used in its own right as a winter jacket, but as part of a another layer, it really come into its own. In addition with a T-shirt underneath it would be perfectly okay for chilly spring/summer mornings/evenings.

I say updated, as it seems to be a much softer material than my black version and I must say, I do prefer it.

They really are great little jackets and I am sure will prove its worth on the many trips I am going on in the coming weeks.