Sunday 31 March 2013

Richmond Park Solo Run With Titanium Orange Brompton

I have lots of rides coming up in the next few weeks and I have been conscious that training of any description has been scant and almost non-existent. With London to Cambridge in less than a weeks time I need to start a more regular training programme in addition to my daily commute.

Yesterday was great fun and looking out of my bedroom window this morning it was sunny, almost as if the arrival of British Summer Time was beckoning me to go out for a bicycle ride. I was soon up and obligingly took up the offer. Richmond Park was my destination at a time whe most would surely be still in bed!

Richmond Park is not my favourite locations to cycle. I do prefer Hyde Park and find that there is more to see. Added to this is a certain sentimental fondness of the South Kensington side of the park which was on of my old haunts as a child. I have written before that as fair as training is concerned, Hyde Park is unable to hit the mark.

Richmond Park is frequented by copious amounts of Lycra clad roadies on their hundreds and in some cases thousands of pounds of cutting edge bicycle technology. Cycling clubs can often be seen there, riding swiftly in snaking pelotons in their distinctive club colours. They are there for a reason. Richmond Park provides a demanding ride. There are flats, lengthy gradients and serious inclines that really do test fitness, stamina and to some extent mental strength (especially true ascending the hills). Riding on the flats is one type of cycling but Richmond Park is a step up.

I drove to Richmond and parked in one of the car parks within Richmond Park that are free. I took my Titanium Orange Brompton with me unfolded and headed out. My blog posts are usually punctuated by the odd photo but not today. This morning was not about that. I wanted to complete a few circuits (or as much as I could) without stopping or any trivial distractions. I therefore have no photos at all.

Joining me on this early morning ride were dozens of other cyclists, who like me had managed to negotiate successfully the clock change. Road bikes dominated but I spotted a few mountain bikers and tourists on Boris Bikes. I was the only Brompton.

If you have read yesterdays blog post you will have read me signing the praises of my newly acquired Titanium Orange Brompton. It really is a great little bike. Today for the first time I carried nothing. No tools, Carradice Roll Bag, lights, spare tube or snacks. I only took my iPhone, car key and Garmin Edge 200.

It was perhaps riding the bike in this way that I could truly appreciate the weight reduction. My Titanium Orange Brompton felt like the S2L Raw Lacquer I sold a few weeks ago. The addition of the extra four gears made the sense of agility that bit greater. In short, I am loving this bike! On the flats I managed a top speed of over 26 mph using the 12T cog which I am enjoying greatly. The 12T cog really came into its own coming down the big hill as I managed 37.12 mph before having to slow down for cars.

My assertions in the past that some (and I really do mean some) of the road bike users at Richmond are among the rudest people you could care to meet were again justified. As I was slowing down for the car park I saw a family of three out on various bicycles enjoying Easter Sunday in front of me. A peloton of six roadies tore past me and were only inches away from my shoulder. The girl of about 10 years old, in front with her mum and dad was weaving a little left and right. As the peloton approached, they did not slow down or move over to allow the girl any space. One of their number actually shouted out at the top of his voice, "move!" Totally disgusting in my opinion and certainly backs up my assertion that some and I stress some of the roadies regard anyone not on a road bike as a lesser species.

My stats for today were as follows:

Distance: 8.64 miles

Maximum Speed: 37.12 mph (on the descent).

Average Speed: 15.82 mph

Calories: 553

I really enjoyed this morning and it has spurned me on to keep ticking away. I hope that wherever you are you are enjoying the Easter weekend and even if the weather isn't particularly good where you live, try and get out on your bicycle!

Saturday 30 March 2013

IBikeLondon Easter Ride On Titanium Orange Brompton!!

I was up quite early this morning - the benefit of having two daughters who helpfully reminded me at 06:00 in the a.m. that I had a ride today!

In fact getting up a little earlier was not such a bad thing as I wanted to change the tool I was told was the one for removing the bottom bracket on a Brompton - which believe me was not! On route I saw a lovely looking church that I am sure was used in a television programme a few year ago called 'Ultraviolet' which was all about vampires in London.

A rather fine looking church

At the cycle shop I got a refund but was told that it was the correct tool. I think they were tools! Soon I arrived at St Paul's Cathedral and saw my partner in crime iCrazyBee already there.

St. Paul's Cathedral

After a few minutes other Bromptonians surfaced and after chewing the fat for a while it was time to take some photos. For me the only thing worth looking at was of course my Titanium Orange Brompton. My journey to St. Paul's was the longest single journey I have made since buying my Titanium Orange Brompton. I had already decided by the time I reached St. Paul's that it was a great bike. I loved riding it and it felt agile. The titanium performed wonders on the uneven and potholed roads of the West End, dampening and absorbing vibrations.

What a sight. If it stayed longer it would be a tourist attraction in its own right

It was while we were waiting to go that a heard the telltale sound of a bike falling over. I glanced to where I knew I had left my beloved Titanium Orange Brompton, just to see if all was still good in the world... Luckily it was not my bike and I gave a sigh of relief. If it had of been my bike that suffered this awful fate, I feel I may have showed myself up slightly. I cannot say for certain what exactly this would have induced but I can imagine!

I suspect I might have placed a hand up to a furrowed brow. A quivering of the lip would have ensued, making the words I surely would have uttered that bit more embarrassing - "whoops a daisies!" Like one of those Victorian ladies with corsets strung too tightly I would have fainted. It would have been terrible and I can only take comfort that it wasn't my bike that fell over. Am I a little too precious with my new bike?

What a view! I am sure you know what I am referring to!

At 11:00 a.m. sharp we set off and with over 100 riders we certainly made our presence felt. As always riding on masse is quite an empowering feeling and it is only a shame that more is not done to get people out on their bicycles where possible.

Sorry. I am quite shameless when it comes to picture of the Titanium  One!

At Guildhall we circled the square and it was actually great fun doing so. Bemused security guards looked on as all sorts of bikes and riders nonchalantly cycled around in a large circle.

Add caption

Off again we passed through the ever growing City of London. We speculated whether the find would be found to restart the building of The Pinnacle? As we travelled east glimpses of famous buildings such as The Gerkin, Tower 42 and the Lloyds Building caught our eyes.

The Lloyds Building in the backgro

Before long we reached a spot on the Thames many of the Bromptonians had been to before on the Thames Triple Chaser (link below).

Tower Bridge - this time not raining

Travelling parallel to the Thames we passed the first of a series Victorian swing bridges. The first looked rather rusted and I am not sure whether it was operational?

The first of a few swing bridges

Passing St Katherine Dock and the Shadwell Basin we could only imagine how busy these locations along the river Thames would have been even 50 years ago. Goods and ships from all over the world would have been busy loading and unloading and a whole army of workers would have been there to make sure all went smoothly. Today things are a much quieter affair and the industrial look is very popular as accommodation.

Not orange but a lovely bicycle!!

Another swing bridge

Further east we came closer to Canary Wharf. A security guard at one of the many check points held his hand out and high-fived many who cycled past. I like to think that he was a cyclist himself and seeking solidarity with his cycling brother and sisters.

The north side of the Greenwich foot tunnel almost appeared out of nowhere unexpectedly, perhaps due to a different route to it than we had taken on the Triple Chaser? The Bromptonians put their bikes over their shoulders and ascended the stairs. The Titanium Orange Brompton felt much lighter and I made this fact quite freely to other Bromptonians in front of and behind me.

The Greenwich foot tunnel exit/entrance

Coming to a small jetty that reminded me of that bit from 'Titanic' I could not resist getting a photo of the Titanium one.

I'm the king of the world!

It was a very cold day but the views were excellent and crisp. On flat stretches I accelerated for as sustained periods I could. On one good flat section I reached 24 mph before having to slow down. I feel I could have gone faster still but I ran out of road. The 12T cog certainly does make a little contribution to the feeling of being able to go faster but it could all be psychological of course.

Today was a fairly short ride and the end point a pub called 'The Angel' in Bermondsey came upon us quickly. Taking a few more photos many of the Bromptonians headed west for sanctuary out of the cold and something to eat.

The end of the a great ride

Passing Tower Bridge we found plenty in the way of places to eat. We ended up at Cafe Rouge where refuelled and defrosted we had some food, chewed the fat a little more before going our separate ways.

Tower Bridge again

Sanctuary, warmth, food!

I headed back to Oxford Circus with my riding partner iCrazyBee and another sensible orange Brompton owner, Steve before saying our goodbyes and looking forward to the next time we can go out on an adventure. 

The Titanium Orange Brompton is a lovely bicycle to ride. I cannot really add any more adjectives as the list would just go on and on. I suspect it will be coming with me on many an adventure and I really must get over this not taking it in the rain lark! The whole point of buying a Brompton is to use it whenever you want. Riding it today has left me feeling I want to ride it all the time, perhaps only not using it in really grotty winter weather? I suppose I can use it in whatever way I decide. It might be a fair weather bike and it might not be. I am just glad I have two Brompton bicycles!!

I really enjoy the IBikeLondon rides. They are are great bunch of people and the rides are relaxed, welcoming, well organised and great fun. Going on one of their rides you are always assured of seeing something different. Today was no exception. If you are a Londoner or within reasonable commuting distance, you might want to go along to their next ride. If you see me, say hello! 

Friday 29 March 2013

Brompton DIY!!

Today was the day when I wanted to take off the old chain set and bottom bracket and replace them with the 2013 updated version. I will explain how I got on.

Removing the plastic covers at the centre of the crank was easy and it revealed some rusted 14mm bolts. Using a 14mm socket and wrench I managed to get the bolts off fairly easy.

I bought a park Tool crank remover, the CCP-22 and it certainly looked up to the job.

Using the Park Tool CCP-22 crank remover I must say was a great deal less complicated than I had originally thought. Screwing the device into the centre of the chain wheel as fair as it went  I didn't have to tighten things up much at all.

Turing the handle until I met resistance was where the fun began. The bolts I took off earlier were quite rusted on the surface and this might have explained the hard job it was to actually remover the chain wheel.

Eventually it was off revealing the bottom bracket. Turing it slowly I could hear a faint crunching sound, which is perhaps why I have been getting all that noise occasionally when pedalling?

With the crank arm on the other side removed I my Original Orange Brompton looked quite bare. It was hear that things ground to an abrupt halt. The bottom bracket tool that I bought from 'Evans Cycles' a few days ago was obviously the wrong one. I was not best pleased as I had asked the technician standing in the bike repair bay, in full view of all the tools available, which tool was required to removed the bottom bracket on a Brompton. Not impressed at all! I will be taking it back tomorrow before I go to the IBikeLondon Ride. I have always found Evans to be pretty good so I am sure it will be fine but I'll let you know how I get on with that one!

So, things have unfortunately ground to a halt. The good thing is that taking off the chain set wasn't half as bad as I originally thought. Shame I couldn't get the job finished but I am sure once I have the correct tool for the job I will be able to.

Tomorrow the weather forecast looks as if things will stay dry for most of the day. In any event, if I want to attend the IBikeLondon ride tomorrow I will have to take my Titanium Orange Brompton!

Silicone Front and Rerun Lights for my Brompton

On the recent all night London Brompton Monopoly Challenge I made a mental note to look in to buying a few more lights - front and rear. I did this as I will be going on quite a few night rides in the coming weeks and well, you can't have enough of them.

When I went to a cycle shop on Saturday to look for a pair of gloves, I also had a good look at lights. There were lots on offer but the price of the small, lightweight silicone lights was quite high.

Yesterday I was at he supermarket (Tesco) buying a few essentials and I spotted these lights.

They are a fairly simple affair. They have two modes, flashing and permanently on and are encased in a silicone outer cover. Batteries can be replaced and they produce a bright light from their two LED's.

Fitting them is easy as they just loop around handlebars or seat posts without leaving scratches or marks.

The price I hear you ask. Well, I think the price for this set was very reasonable at £4. Time will tell whether or not they are any good of course but past form on a pair of similar lights about two years ago is good. These ones were not the silicone type and were velcro fastening but they are still working.

I intend to keep these lights until I next go on a night ride and I will let you know how I get on with them. They are obviously not lights to use on their own but more as sparkling extras to be seen rather than to see.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

160,000+ pages views!!

At 23:31 I glanced at my page views to discover I had passed the 160,000 page views. The last 10,000 have come in 9x days!

I wanted to post someone about this last night but I was half asleep and needed the rest.

As always thank you for reading, wherever you come from and whether or not your own a Brompton.

Keep coming back and commenting on anything you find of interest. I have lots of adventures coming up on both my Original and Titanium Brompton so here will be plenty more to read about.

Many thanks!!

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Updates for my Original Orange Brompton

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will perhaps already know that I recently upgraded the wheels on my Original Orange Brompton to the new 2013 double walled rims. (See link below) 

I have to say that I am really pleased with them and not too long ago I managed to get hold of the new 2013 chainset - the same one that is on my new Titanium Orange Brompton. (See link for my review of this new bike). This newer chainset is a significant improvement over the original and will be another 2013 update to my Original Orange Brompton.

I was also able to get hold of the new bottom bracket to complete the set, which arrived yesterday after a little wait.  At the moment the original is creaking away at times.  I now need to either get the tools to try and fit them or better still find a friend who had the tools and is able to guide me though the process.

The updates to my Original Orange Brompton will have to be done in stages as and when the new 2013 parts are released. Assuming I can get someone to help me the bottom bracket and chainset could be replaced soon. I am waiting for the new brake levers and until I get them the new cabling, handlebars and 2013 grips will have to wait.

By the time I have finished my Original Orange Brompton will have all the 2013 updates. It will also have new cables which definitely need to be replaced. Some of you may be wondering why I am doing this when I have just bought a brand new Titanium Orange Brompton. The simple answer is I want my original bike to be kept up to date. It is a bike I will not sell. I have had many an adventure on this bike and I want to continue to do so when I am not out on my new one.

Please click on the links below.

New 2013 Double Walled Rims

Full review of my new Titanium Orange Brompton

Karrimor Dry Bag

Karrimor are very much the bargain bucket type of manufacturer but I saw this 5 litre dry bag for the not unreasonable sum of £1 so I bought it. My motivations for buying it had nothing to do with the fact that it is orange!

It is quite a simple design. There is a top opening with a strip of plastic that bends in the middle. One stores items inside and then folds the top strip over at least three time. Once then fastens a small plastic buckle. It is well made and the waterproofing is good as initial tests proved very favourable.

At £1 is was a bargain.

This bag will come in handy on some big rides coming up in conduction with either my Carradice Barley or Zipped Roll bags. First it will provide added confidence that certain items I carry will be relatively safe from the elements. Second, being bright orange it will allow me to find it in whatever bag I take that bit easier.

 At the moment its main use if going to be carrying my iPad to and from work. I have to use either the C-bag or S-bag for work due to the large amounts I have to carry. Until I bought this bag I had simply wrapped it in a carrier bag. This is a much better and safer solution.  At £1 you really cannot go wrong!

The fact it was orange in colour did not induce me into purchasing it!

Monday 25 March 2013

Cycling Socks

As part of my prep for the recent Monopoly Challenge - link below - I had heard that discount supermarket chain Lidl were starting to stock various items of cycling clothing. I decided to pay them a visit.

I wasn't expecting too much as I have found that with cycling gear you really do get what you pay for. When I saw some of the items I have to say I wasn't overly impressed and could not see myself buying anything but the socks at £2.50 seemed okay

I bought a couple of pairs and wore some when on the Monopoly ride. On the packaging they have a picture of the sock with nine numbered points to explain what they are all for:

1 Highly flexible and comfortable trim.

2 Natural evolution footbed - socks are left and right to better follow the shape of ones foot.

3 Achilles tendon cushioning (this can only be a good thing).

4 Heel cushioning.

5 W-ring bandage - stabilises the metatarsus and supports the muscles.

6 Instep cushioning.

7 Ankle protection.

8 Toe cushioning.

9 Elastic-flex cushioning - remains crease free during movement.

I am not overly sure what much of the above means but I can say my feet did feel more supported in my trainers did feel more comfortable than the socks I would have worn.

Looking at the vast array of dedicated cycling socks out there the prices are in many cases quite shocking. At least at £2.50 a pair they won't break the bank and they are a great deal better than just a normal pair of socks. I for one will be getting a few more pairs as these seem pretty good.

Link to Brompton Monopoly Challenge Blog

Sunday 24 March 2013

All Night Brompton Monopoly Challenge

Monopoly Challenge Board Designed by Anne M

There are times when you look forward to something quite a bit. The fact that when you tell others what it is you are looking forward to only to induce a reaction of, "you must be crazy" only serves to make the thing you were looking forward to, even more of a thing to look forward to! The 'thing' I refer to was of course the all night Brompton Monopoly Challenge.

All of Saturday I was thinking about what was to come later on in the early hours of Sunday morning. My idea of straw to simply have another all night Brompton ride in London, like Rumplestiltskin was turned into gold by navigator extraordinaire David P. We would travel around as many locations of the Monopoly board we could in the early hours of Saturday night / Sunday morning - in the hope that traffic would be slightly diminished.

With Mrs Orange Brompton kissing me goodbye at our doorstep, she left me with the words, "you must be mad!" I thought to myself, am !? I swiftly came to the conclusion that I wasn't but I can understand how one could come to that assessment.

The meeting point was McDonalds in the Strand. This branch is open 24-hours a day and seemed like the best start as it is fairly central for some of the other locations on the Monopoly board. I parked a few miles away and met up with Mick B who had done the same. Travelling down to the Strand was fairly easy but even when we set off at 23:30ish it was still busy and London showed that it didn't want to go to sleep just yet.

One of the reasons for people saying that I was mad was perhaps due to the recent weather during the preceding days. It has been very cold and Saturday was no exception. Looking at several different forecasts there was a combination of sleet, snow, rain, cloud, low temperatures and strong head winds! It was for these predictions that my Helly Hansen balaclava was packed. This simple addition to my kit list would have some pretty dire consequences...but more of that later on.

At the Strand all riders met up and the number of the brave was six. Arriving at the Strand McDonalds at this time of night was quite a sight. Revellers were out in force. Some had only just come out to play while for others it was home time. One 20 something who really should have known better was comforted by her friend - another 20 something. My initial thought was oh dear, like an Adele song there may have been some sort of unrequited love to account for a friendly hand across the shoulders and back. I was terribly wrong!

The 20 something I initially thought was a jilted lover bent double and was violently and I really do mean violently sick. The Exorcist was my first thought as the most incredible qualities of fluid exited at speed. Perhaps to console my mild distress thoughts turned for some reason to the words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson but his words altered slightly with the scene the presented itself to me.

Vomit to the right of them,
Vomit to the left of them,
Vomit in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with carrot and smell,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six Bromptonians.

It was was this point that I again confirmed once and for all in my own mind that I had indeed had a sheltered life! We set off into an early morning London that like the six, was not quite ready to go to sleep.

The early morning was bitingly cold and snow and sleet fell for a few hours as we travelled around the various Monopoly board locations, with a temperature not rising much above zero. Out first photo stop was HM Treasury. Dotted along the front of the Treasury building were four of the famous red telephone boxes. That position on the board done we cycled past the heavily guarded entrance to Downing Street, home to the Prime Minister. We said good morning to the police officers on duty and they responded in kind. Luckily the sight of six Brompton bikes lit up like Christmas trees did not arouse suspicion.

The Treasury

Classic red phone boxes. Who needs a mobile?

Passing back through Trafalgar Square we made are way to a very special location that I was rather pleased to see. Not strictly on the Monopoly Board, Orange Street was lovely and I took several photos to mark this location.

Trafalgar Square 

I believe it was near Orange Street where yet again my beloved Original Orange Brompton was dashed to the floor like a discarded tissue. All was okay but it is not a sight I welcome!

Such a great name for a street!

Travelling along the Strand we passed the Central Criminal Courts and eventually we found our way to the infamous Old Bailey, build on the site of the even more infamous Newgate Gaol. We took a few photos but didn't hang around too long just in case!

Be good. Be very good!

Battling through the cold, sleet, snow and strong winds we reached North London and the Russian WWII tank I first saw on an IBikeLondon ride. Last time it was in the process of being painted and now it looked finished. As we illuminated a nearby tree I suspect we inadvertently fooled a poor innocent Robin that it was dawn. It sang away that familiar song often heard as part of the dawn chorus. Luckily this didn't last too long and it flew away to find sanctuary on the other side of the tank.

No it's not dawn yet. Sorry!

Crossing over Tower Bridge in the early hours of the morning I expected it to be quiet but it was very busy for this time. This would remain throughout the ride.

Reaching Fenchurch Street Station another photo stop beckoned. Soon we took refuge from the cold at the former site of London Electricity Board. No longer used for this purpose it is used occasionally as television and film shoots but will perhaps one day see itself turned into flats.

Former London Electricity Board building.

We soon arrived at the high walls of Pentonville Prison. This imposing slightly pre-Victorian prison was opened in 1816. It has had some very famous guests staying there: Oscar Wilde; Dr Crippen; John Christie; Boy George and George Michael. It also has a gruesome past insofar as it was an execution site, with its final execution taking place in 1961.

Pentonville Prison

Not too far away the Water Company with its elegant frontage has now been transformed into flats. I really liked the doors and frame.

At just over 20 miles we stopped to get warm and collect our thoughts at another station location, this time St Pancras. The station was empty apart from the sleeping, almost zombie-like people perhaps worse for too much drinking, who sat propped up sleeping where they could.

For some reason in my search for a toilet I came across this piano. Not sure if it works or why it is there?

You hum it, I'll play it.

Refueld and warmed we set out into the cold again and headed for our next station, Marylebone. Like so many stations and buildings from the past there is a touch of élan to their construction sometimes lost on modern developments.

The front canopy of Marylebone Station 

Before long we reached Oxford Street and I took a picture of Selfridges while waiting at a set of traffic lights.

Selfirdges on Oxford Street

Cycling on Pall Mall and the Mall we stopped at Buckingham Palace as sunrise started to illuminate London for another busy day ahead.

Buckingham Palace just before dawn breaks.

Passing the Wellington Arch we made our way through Hyde Park. The last time we rode this way was on our first all nighted. Than time it was pitch black.

Wellington Arch

We've been along here before

Our final Monopoly destination was Marlborough Street which meant that we had almost done it. Further along the Michelin Building, currently undergoing some restoration looked to me like somewhere I would like to see again when all the scaffolding has been taken down.

Michelin Building. When the scaffolding is gone I'll be back,

Fittingly, we ended up with our last photo being of the Brompton Road and the Brompton Oratory. After this we headed back to go - The Strand - and made our separate ways. David P and his partner Anne gave us all a souvenir Monopoly Board and location sheet which was a very welcome and nice touch. (Seen above and below). A big thank you to them and especially to David for organising and navigating a very good ride/route!

Brompton Oratory

Brompton bikes on the Brompton Road
Mick B, my riding partner iCrazyBee and I decided not to go inside the McDonalds on the Strand and instead made the short journey to an alliterative. There we had a breakfast, chewed the fat for a while before heading for home.

It was a demanding ride, mainly due to the weather conditions but I really enjoyed it. Whenever I play Monopoly next I can regale my fellow players with tales from this challenge. My new SealSkinz gloves more than proved themselves and overall were excellent.

My Helly Hansen Balaclava on the other hand, worn for over six hours brought about a quite terrible variant of the dreaded 'helmet hair.' Flattened down for tis length of time made my hair take on the appearance of a a marble statue I have seen many times in the British Museum of the Roman Emperor Trajan!

When I took this photo, little did I know!

Monopoly Challenge location sheet

When I got home a hot shower was all I really needed. I didn't feel that tired, although this may of course come later as I have't slept since Friday night / Saturday morning. There are of course some lessons to be learnt for future rides, especially the all night rides:

First, there were times when I felt cold. I thought I had enough layers on but I should have packed the extra top half base layer instead of leaving it and thinking that I wouldn't need it. I would have had room in the saddle bag and weight would have been almost unnoticeable.

Second, my footwear possible caused my toes to be almost permanently cold. They are Merrrell approach shoes with a mesh upper. This allowed the cold air to go straight in. I will have to investigate some cycling shoes that can be used with or are specifically designed to be used with flat pedals.

The next few weeks are going to be pretty packed with cycling events and a few other bits and pieces I will let you know about if they come about. The ride data from the ride recorded by my Garmin Edge 200 can be found by clicking on the link below. In addition to the Monopoly Challenge route it also shows the route near to where the car was parked and back again. If you have a Monopoly edition for the city you live in, perhaps you could try something similar?

Monopoly Challenge Ride Data