Monday 28 July 2014

My Brompton World Championships 2014 - Brilliant or what!

What a day! The day I, many had been waiting for had finally arrived. I had set the alarms at stupid o'clock but could not really get to sleep too much as transported to being like a small child, I was excited.

In the early hours when trying to bore myself to sleep, I saw that at some point very early into Sunday morning, there would be a live stream of the Didcot Power Station's cooling towers being demolished. I made a mental not that it would be quite a thing to see before nodding off. Strangely, I awoke during the two minute countdown and saw the three towers raised to the ground. This spurned me to rise and I was soon up and out and off to Goodwood.

I arrived in good time and made my way to the registration area. With goodie bag, time chip on laminated race number and participants wristband, I made my  way back to my car to get ready.

For this event I chose to take both of my Brompton bicycles. The Titanium Orange Brompton for the Sprint and the actual Brompton World Championships and my new P Type for the Meander. I would have to swop over the race number a few times, but armed with cable ties and wire cutters, I was ready.

As I wheeled my bike I saw Mark and Andrew who were nipping back to their cars to put some items away. Hearing that the track was open, I hastily made my way to the hallowed tarmac. On the track I accelerated hard and found my rhythm. There was a wicked headwind that slowed me down for some time and I hoped that it would subside before the big one!

Gradually familiar faces came into view - some to watch, some to take part in one of the three events and some to do the Treble - all three. It was great to see so many old hands and lovely to meet so many people from all over the world who were kind enough to say that they not only read my blog, but actually enjoyed it.

The first event was the sprint. A 500 metre full out blast to the finish line. After a brief, briefing we were let loose on the track. Lining up in 12's we positioned our bikes in the start position, ran to them and peddled like mad!

Mark and I were in the second batch to go along with some of the big names who had appeared as winners or in the top 10 of various events in the past. Glup! When the horn sounded I ran to my Brompton, flicked the back wheel forward and sort of jumped onto my saddle. It was far from dignified! I can only wager that an onlooker would have likened me to the highwayman, Dick Turpin rapidly making his escape from the Kings Men on his trusty steed, Black Bess!!

Seeing Dr Hutchinson and Gavin Morton in a YouTube video from last years BWC bend double as they pedalled in aerodynamic fashion, I attempted the same (when it struck me halfway that this was the thing to do). I have to report that I came in the top 24 overall.

The brief, briefing for the sprint

Mark (King of the Hill) ready for the Sprint

The first wave of the Sprint goes off

Taking my Titanium Orange Brompton back to the car, I exchanged it for my new P Type as the Meander was next. This would be a 26km cycle in picturesque countryside. The P Type was definitely the Brompton for this task. (Besides I was desperate to use it)!

After another briefing we were off again. Part of the route was a lap of the track. Once this was down we were out on the open road. The route was well marshalled and there never felt any possibility that I was going to get lost.

Meander briefing

Almost ready for the off

The countryside around Goodwood was stunning. I rode mainly with Mark but there were quite a few of us doing this event. I am glad to write that there was one long and sustained hill. I really enjoyed it and my P Type gave me the confidence that I could tackle anything. At the summit of this hill there was a pit stop where we were able to get some refreshment. I believe that it was locally sourced. A scotch egg was perhaps the best I have ever tasted! Very grateful for anything at all we headed off again.

Pit stop #1

There was a second pit stop where a different selection of food was offered, equally as tasty. It was all terribly British and I made a mental note to try and find out the name of company that made those scotch eggs!

Pit stop #2

When on the Meander I got talking to a really nice chap who turned out to be the Swiss Brompton Champion. He told me that he had cycled five days from Switzerland to be at Goodwood. Chapeau!!

There was a massive downhill section where I reached over 37mph. I could have gone much faster but had to apply the brakes as a few cars approached with incredulous looks on the occupants faces as a tall chap, on a little bike, dressed in orange, in the slipstream position flew past. I was pleased that I clocked it on my new P Type.

As I approached the finish line I could see the familiar sight of Bob. It was only fitting that he gave me my medal!

With the Meander done and another medal for the cabinet in my pocket I took stock of my new prize. In short I love my new P Type. I like the looks an I like the handling. The SON dynamo light is going to be worth its price as soon as I do some night rides and when winter approaches.

Loving my new P Type

I also managed to find some Brooks leather bar tape which matched by luck my saddle. I put them on, first inserting a thin layer of gel at crucial points. I think they look rather fetching.

The Brooks bar tape looks better than the all orange grips I think

The chainring bolts added another subtle orange touch and I doubt if I will bother with the orange chain guard that I have fitted to my Titanium Orange Brompton.

With the Meander completed we had a few hours to spare. I went back to swop bikes for the last time.  On the way I again met some lovely people who enquired whether I was 'Mr Orange.' It really was quite lovely meeting so many people, all with the shared interest of Brompton bicycles.

As time passed things got busier as people started to arrive for the main event - the Brompton World Championships itself. Some of the outfits were great.

Oh I say!
Very stylish

Joe in his winning outfit

The lovely Anne, elegant as per usual

A band tirelessly played to entertain the growing throng and many had refreshments provided to participants. I got a cup of tea and a box of tasty sandwiches, a couple of brownies and a jam pastry. It was an added bonus and I really enjoyed it.

At 14:00 the final of the Sprint took place. Convinced that my Garmin Edge 810 may have created the necessary drag to slow me down, I vowed to not have it attached to my bikes handlebars next year. Realising that this was utter nonsense I turned to watch riders at speed zooming past the start/finish line.

Here come the Italians
The time had come for the main event. The call was made for bikes to be positioned on the start line. I took it to my peg and I was to be in the first wave. Standing nearby was for the second year running, the uber fast, Gavin Morton. (I had my fingers cross that this would be his year). Being in such illustrious company I flippantly quipped that I would let him have a head start! Oh if only that were true!! Mr Morton was off into the distance before I had time to even reach my bike!

On the starting grid

There was a rumour that jackets were optional. It was hot and humid and I decided that my jacket would be off. Not only this, I took my shirt out and had my cuffs dangling as I had forgotten my cufflinks. I am thankful that my dear Mother neither reads this blog nor was present to witness this. I fear the shock would have been too much and probing questions about the company I keep would have been forthcoming! There was worse to come...

At the pre BWC briefing, we were told that jackets needed to be on. O to the M to the G (much to my Mothers disapproval probably) were the words that came to mind!! John M had kindly agreed to look after my jacket, meaning he had it and I didn't!

Texting and then calling John as the race, the first wave was about to start he informed me that Mark had got the jackets (John had his as well). Ringing mark, he informed me that he had left it at my bike. I was now at the back of the first wave!

The horn went and as for previous years (and my Mother would have been delighted) being brought up a gentleman I refused to run. I walked - minced more like - to where my jacket lay, like the tunic of the Unknown Soldier. Putting it on and taking the time to pull my cuffs out, I then put my Garmin on the handlebars and my Garmin Virb camera into its mount. Only then did I walk, yes walk my bike out of the paddock and onto tarmac.

Under the impression that the timing would start from the timing strip under the start/finish line I continued to walk along, like someone strolling to an idillic picnic spot in the Cotswolds. The timing actually started when the horn sounded...dash it all!!

My first lap was my quickest, of that I am certain. It needed to be! I was one of last out and wanted to catch up Andrew. He was some way ahead and it wasn't long until I caught him up. Overtaking him and ensuring that he didn't overtake me was my first goal. Andrew was looking pretty dam good and as I passed him I was certain he was going to do well!

Finding someone to ride behind or work in a group proved to be difficult. For the entire race I was on my own. I did however provide the buffer for a charming young lady (#20) who stayed in my slipstream for the race. She later thanked me.

I found my Garmin of great use. Last year I knew my average moving speed was 19mph. If I managed to keep it above this, I'd have a faster time than last year. Of course, I was still oblivious that my start was at the sounding of the horn and not crossing the start line. 

The real battle was trying to maintain something above 19mph and search for a train to latch on to. When I found none after a couple of laps, I pressed on. I remember last year being windy in certain places and this year was much the same, though not as bad. For me at least it was warmer, perhaps more humid.

With one lap to go I made a final push, despite tired legs I crossed the line and stopped my Garmin recording, when I remembered to, a short while later. My average speed was 19.4 mph and it was just over 29 minutes. I hoped for a sub 29 minutes time...

With a Brompton staff member placing my medal around my neck, shaking my hand and saying well done I felt elated. My fourth BWC and the third time I had completed the Treble. After this we retired to the rest area and compared tales of racing around Goodwood and congratulating each other.

The super fast David not only obtained a very good time, he did so after stopping to retrieve his Garmin Virb camera which had fallen off mid-race. Chapeau!!

While we were waiting, I visited the Brompton merchandise stand. As Brompton were forced to move the entire event to Sunday rather than it including the day before, it undoubtedly caused disruption to many. Acknowledging this Brompton very kindly placed a £20 voucher in with the goodie bag to spend on the day if one wished. I used it to get a couple of pairs of rather fetching BWC socks. Credit to Brompton for doing this.

The winners podium

The race results weren't available at first but eventually we were able to congratulate all the winners. I was pleased to see that Joe B won the best dressed male in a quite stunning outfit. A great rider, great outfit and a lovely chap.

Goodwood was again host to the the Brompton World Championships - last year was excellent and as you can see from the title of this blog, I certainly enjoyed it this year! This World Championships nearly didn't happen as one of the main organisers for whatever reasons were unable to proceed. Brompton, being Brompton (brilliant) charged an employee the enormous task of picking up the pieces. She was rightly and publicly praised for her hard work by Brompton MD, Will Butler-Adams. In fact all the Brompton staff need to be commended for putting on another great event! Again I am struck that even if it is wonderful marketing (and it is) Brompton continue to put on these events. Anyone reading this who can think of another company that does anything like this, please let us know by leaving a comment.

As I type this I am still on a high. I love this event! If I could sign up for for 2015 right now, I would. I also know that I will for a few days at least have some withdrawal symptoms. This will be easily rectified by putting an event in the calendar or simply getting out one of my Brompton bikes and going for an adventure.

The common theme for an event like this is the fact that lots of people have Brompton bicycles. The variety of owners in terms of age, country of origin, background etc.., is vast making for an even more enjoyable event. This was a stunning event and my favourite so far. I loved it.

For next year I would like them to go back to timing us all from the second we cross the start/finish line, as apposed to the horn sounding. I know that a lot of people have got quite heated over this issue but for me it provides another aspect to train for...running to my bike rather than mincing to it!

For me the two Brompton strategy worked well, although perhaps three would be better? As always I have started my training for 2015 already. One thing I am certain of is that I won't be alone.

Thank you yet again're Brilliant!

More medals - love these!!
My beloved Orange Brompton bikes!

The map and ride data for the Meander and BWC can be viewed by the links below.

Meander map and ride data

BWC 2014 Map and ride data


  1. Great report, Mr. O!
    Just the right amount of detail for someone like me.
    Your new bike is very well appointed.
    Peace :)

  2. Your bikes look awesome!
    Great post!

  3. I really must do this next year. Sounds fantastic!

  4. Mr.O - I noticed your Titanium Orange Brompton has an orange suspension spring. Am I missing something as I cannot seem to remember you mentioning this addition in your blogs - care to divulge ?

  5. were results ever published in 2014? i rode and did around 28 mins but no idea of position

    1. They probably were for all of fives minutes. 28 mins is a pretty good time.


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