Sunday 2 August 2015

Brompton World Championships 2015 - Brutal, Exhilarating, Brilliant!

What a day! My title for this blog post pretty much sums up my thoughts and feelings about this wonderful Brompton event but please continue to read to find out what my take on it all was.

There are medals and there are medals (wipes a tear away)

The morning was a bit of a blur and I had a few family drop offs to attend to before I headed into central London. I was meeting John and Mark (King of the Hill) at 13:00 by the Eros Statue in Piccadilly Circus. Getting there was an interesting experience it itself...

I cycled the few miles from Queens Park and wearing my full Brompton World Championships attire certainly brought more than a few glances. I had people pointing, pointing and laughing, people who looked confused and people who fumbled for their phones to take a photo.

By the time I had reached the Edgware Road I was glad I had given myself plenty of time to get to Piccadilly Circus as a few times when I stopped at lights I was greeted by strangers wanting to have their picture taken with me.

Reaching Piccadilly Circus and standing near Eros - a time honoured meeting point - things got even worse! Tourists gratuitously stood and posed near me, some embraced me as if I were a long lost relative in the pursuit of the a selfie. I have to report that I got little in the way of support from Mrs Orange when I rang her and could just about hear faint laughter over the din of the traffic. I suppose I was asking for it.

Thankfully John arrived so my conversation with Mrs Orange and my youngest Orangette who had simply shouted out, 'dad!!' when I dropped her off at her Grandmas house (in said outfit) came to an end. It was good to see John but sadly he was not racing.

Soon after that Mark arrived and we decided to head into the Brompton area on The Mall. When we arrived there were lots of familiar faces and some rather kind people who identified themselves as readers of this humble blog.

I met some lovely people from 'The Brompton Mafia' who were here in London all the way from various parts of America. I was given some stickers which I was very pleased about and one now sits happily on both my Brompton bikes. (I'll want more at some point)!!

Mark and I put our bikes in a holding pen and were then able to leave them happy in the knowledge that they would be safe - great organisation.

With quite some time to kill we had a great view of the riders participating in the 'Prudential RideLondon.' This looked immense fun as riders of all ages, on all manner of bicycle for one day only were able to cycle a route in central London, traffic free.

The look on the riders faces told you everything you needed to know. It was inclusive and fun and it was lovely to see families out on bicycles enjoying the freedom.

Of course attention soon turned to the race. We had come specifically for the Brompton World Championships. Mark was looking pensive and I wasn't far behind. Mark was worried about a knee problem - more about that later!

All sorts of things raced through my mind. I was pondered upon whether I should have gone for shorts over trousers? Should I really have brought my camera with me or just stuck to my iPhone? Had I left the iron on after a vigorous and thorough pressing of said trousers? I was then back to the shorts over trousers...


As if by magic to take our minds off such trivialities, lots of familiar faces came into view. Harry from Small Wheel Big Difference (have a look back at my early blogs for lots of posts on them) was there and it was the first I had seen him in several years. He looked well and it was lovely to see him. I did say to Harry that it was partly down to joining Small Wheels on their training rides that spurred me on to do more myself.

David and Paul

I also bumped into Issy who I first met on a Small Wheels ride (which was also the first time I met my friend Geoff I think). Issy actually won the BWC in 2013 and in the meantime had the joys of starting a family. Back and looking in good form I had high hopes for her on a relatively flat and fast circuit. In fact my prediction was proved correct as Issy was the fastest lady! Well done to her and I hope she returns next year.

Also saw Steve D, yet another great character who was looking pretty sharp. Lawrence, a veteran of the Nocturne and BWC was also there. Mick, co-founder of our brilliant little London based Brompton Club was also there as a spectator as it was great to see him after far too long!! (Need to see more or you Mick).  Susan and David were also around (again we need to see more you two).  There were too many people to mention, both familiar faces and people kind enough to say they were readers of my blog.

The outfits of course were wonderful. Participants put in a great deal of effort and looked stunning. Mrs Orange and my Orangettes said that I might stand a better chance of winning the worst dressed man, if such a category existed. Perhaps I should suggest this to Brompton?

I hope he didn't reach like this!

Sam, with orange wig and the gift of a custom made orange bow tie, represented my pit crew and minded my bag. She is not only a lovely person but a great character and I only wish she had of been racing herself. I was however very grateful and more so when I heard her encourage me throughout the race itself!

Thanks Sam!

The time came for us to start to get our bikes from the holding area and take them to the grid. I still felt fine and Mark and I wished others good luck as we made our way to our allowed positions.

When the window of opportunity opened to sign up for the Brompton World Champions came, I did so as quickly as possible on my iPhone. You had to out in an estimate of the time it might take you to complete the eight laps. To my surprise I found myself quite high up on the pecking order. Again I said hello to the seriously quick Gavin Morton and was rubbing shoulders with lots of other highly regarded quick types. Further up was Joe B (another seriously fast rider) who won the best dressed man last year in a suit that should have won it again. Then there was me. I wondered whether the spectators opposite would, 'suss me out' to use common parlance? With this in mind I started to limber up a little and do some stretches...I mean isn't that what one is supposed to do!?

Bob, another great character who was not only doing the BWC but also the Ride100 tomorrow came over to ask if I had my camera with me as there was a chap he wanted his photo taken with. The chap in question was David Millar the former professional road racing cyclist. When lining up my iPhone to take the photo I saw Chris Boardman...I mean THE Chris Boardman. I pointed at him and said 'its Chris Boardman!' under my breath and shook hands with the man. Moments later I was also having my photo taken with Mr Millar with Chris Boardman in the background.

There was a large screen which displayed people being interviewed about the race. Knowing that I stood out (even at the Brompton World Championships) I was hoping the interviewer would gloss past me, as I turned my back to do more lunges and stretches.

Sadly this didn't work and my brief moment in the sun came and went. I cringed through the entire 40 seconds. I can only imagine what Mrs Orange and my Orangettes would have said had they of been there in person!

This continued until it got close to 17:00. With a less than a minute to go a silence descended. I felt my heart race and for the first time, the realisation that things were about to start I felt a few nerves. We were told that there would be a countdown and the few seconds waiting for this seemed like an eternity.

The announcer started the countdown, quickly joined by spectators and participants alike. We were off and the 10th Brompton World Championships, in London had begun...

I went to my beloved Titanium Brompton unfolded and set off. I got about 30 metres, pressed record on my Garmin 810 and before I could do anything about it went straight into the back of another rider. Should have paid more attention. I apologised and carried on as did he moments later. My front brake was knocked to one side a little and for a few metres rubber was rubbing on the rim but all was okay.

To my right I saw other riders crash into each other and a couple off their bikes. No injuries as they were soon overtaking me. This felt like a very fast circuit. For the first couple of laps I was averaging over the 20mph mark.

The circuit was brutal and trying to find a train to follow almost impossible. There were either riders too slow or too fast for me to keep up with, so I was resigned to going it alone.

Lap 3 I found it hard to breath and had to lower my pace a little. Feeling better quite quickly I upped the pace as much as I could, as much as I dared. This race was exhilarating and even this early on I have to say it was better than both Blenheim and Goodwood.

On several parts of the course I had spectators shouting out words of encouragement. This was great and I wanted to acknowledge them but couldn't see where they were as we we all zipping by so quickly.

On the Horseguards section a rider was down and for the next couple of laps we had to take care while she was attended to.

The going got pretty tough on lap 5 and 6 as I started to pass some slower riders. Trying to overtake them on the right proved to be difficult as many were doing the same. One had to be careful.

Lap 6 I overtook my riding partner Andrew. He looked strong and was motoring away. As I passed him I shouted out, 'come on Andrew!'

Lap 7 was to be my last as I was in lapped by the front of the pack on their 8th. The speed they went past was incredible and mighty impressive. With the checkered flag being raised we were guided off the track. My Brompton World Championships for 2015, the 10th anniversary and the first to be held in London was over.

The medal (always something I love getting) was extra special this year. It was a cog wheel! Such a fitting medal for this special year.

Sadly, when I looked in my jacket pocket to take some better pictures, it was gone! I suspect that it must have fallen out on my cycle home after the race. I was carrying a small backpack and stuffed what I could from the goodie bag therein and in my pockets. Running on the high from the BWC I didn't exactly poodle home and took things at a pace and this is probably why it went. Trying to think of a word to describe my feelings about this, devastated is probably about right.

How did I do? Well I managed to ride 9.39 miles in just over 29 minutes which I am happy with. I could have shaved off another 30-40 seconds off if I hadn't of been an idiot and crashed into the back of someone at the start, but these things happen. If I am lucky for next year:

  • Lose 4kg in weight
  • Shorts, not trousers
  • Kojaks on again (weather permitting) and not Marathons
  • Train harder and start this much earlier
  • More fluids before race
  • More fuel before race
  • Bigger chain ring
  • Remove the lining from my jacket in a nod to 3 x winner Dr Hutch

As for the others. Mark came 25th! Brilliant or what. Everyone else did really well too. David, Geoff and Bob recorded faster times than me and Andrew looked strong and I think put in his best BWC performance.

Seeing Andrew after I'd parked my Brompton in the pens again we went to get out goodie bags. These canvas bags contained all sorts of goodies and the big kid in me loves this sort of thing. I also bumped into Dr Hutch and was this time brave enough to have a brief chat with him. I thanked him for allowing to be interviewed some time ago and asked how the race went. Sadly it didn't go his way.

We chewed the fat for a while and talked about our races - which believe me were all totally different.  With others starting to do and with me having another engagement at 21:00 (another blog post at some point) I said my goodbyes and headed off as well.

What an event this Brompton World Championships was! This was number five for me and I have to say possibly the best so far for several reasons:

  • Location, location, location - what a location!
  • The circuit - it was brutal but I loved it!
  • Organisation - the Brompton / RideLondon partnership worked well and this was a highly organised event
  • Brompton staff - friendly of course, but many out there in the thick of it racing just like everyone else

I absolutely loved it and even as I type this, the hairs on the back of my neck are tingling as I recall some of the memories. My suspicion is that Brompton will be back here in London next year. They would be mad not to in my opinion. This means that there will probably be a dreaded ballot. I only hope that I am lucky enough as I want another crack!

Brompton have done it again and put on an event that will allow us Bromptonians to dine out on for a good few months to come.  They are a company that always seems to be moving forward, not scared of change and willing to listen to us their loyal customers. I cannot explain why I am so devoted to brand Brompton but I am not alone. I have posed the question, what other company has anything like the Brompton World Championships before and I am still thinking of what that company might be?

For me the training for BWC 2016 starts now! I will come back stronger, faster, leaner, will find an even more hideous orange themed outfit to embarrass my family and most importantly have fun along the way. Riding a Brompton is fun and I intend to have lots of it in my prep for 2016! If in the next 12 months you are in London during the witching hour walking down The Mall after a night out, should you see some Brompton bicycles flying out for a chap on an Orange one!

Map and ride data recorded on Garmin 810


  1. Fantastic to see you Mr.O.
    Once my health issues are sorted, (Once and for all), I'll be out there, maybe not the faster rides, I still hate hills, but the gentler ones.
    I'm gutted about your medal, such a pity. Be safe, and speak soon Buddy.

  2. Congrats, Mr. O! This is definitely a nice event to partake in.
    I enjoyed the many photos and your report.
    Have a Great Week!
    Peace :)

  3. Dear Mr Orange, Thank you for a very evocative description of a wonderful day. It was an honour to join you and all the other Bromptoneers on the start line on Saturday and then race in such a tremendous event. I can now tell my kids that I’ve competed in a World Championship event on an Olympic course :-) This morning, my Brompton went back to being a commuter and took me to work in Manchester as usual. But it now wears its BWC 2015 race number sticker with pride. And the number will stay in place in memory of our Best Cycling Day Ever!
    Best wishes, TB-L

  4. Being unsuccessful in the ballot this year, it was interesting to watch the race. The three 10 second apart starts produced three very fast trains with a wonderful noise as they went past all working very hard together.

    I suspect the racing was probably better than usual with the relatively short laps adding to the spectacle, however I thought the usual BWC 'Garden Party' atmosphere was missing.

  5. I found your blog when I was looking for information about Bromtons. I was last week visiting London and I then I realised that what I really need is a folding bike. And soon after I googled options I knew I had to buy Bromton. I want to store my bike at home 'cos our bike cellar is too crowdet and it takes too much time and efford to take my current bike out and unlock it. I'm going to testdrive some Brompton models this week at bike shop. I'm undesited between 2/3/6 gears and back rack. I also love color orange, but that may change also. I think M handlebar is best for me and I can't afford titanium frame or don't even want to.

    I got some very helpfull information from your blog. Thank you very much!

    Greetings from Finland!

    1. Hello Tanja. Thanks for reading my blog and for leaving a comment. Glad you are considering getting a Brompton. If you're going to use your Brompton for longer distances or if your commute might have hills, I'd go for the 6 x speed. The M type is a great all rounder. The only thing to decide is colour. It has got to be Orange right!

      Let me know how you get on and if you are ever in London again let me know and I'll arrange a ride with lots of other club members for you.

    2. Hi! I'm not sure how long distances I'm going to ride but maybe this new bike will open new oppertunities and routes to me. Also abroad. I'm mainly going to bike to work, but there are some hills and deffenetly there are hills when I ride to city central. I live in Helsinki. So I guess 6 x speed would be best option. And I think orange color is very tempting!

      I'll let you know what my choice will be. And maybe I will sometimes have gourage to ride in London. It looked too scary! But I sure will come back there :) I't one of my favourite citys, despite the crowdet tubes.

    3. Great! (Crowded tubes are one of the reasons lots of people buy a Brompton, me included).

  6. Hi, I started 396 on my 2-speed. Finished 111th, or 1st 3 times ;-) As you say, a fantastic afternoon. My wife should have won best dressed guest :-)

    I too got lapped by the leaders - blimey they were motoring! Even if I convert mine to 6 speed, I doubt I'd keep up. Made me realize how much training I've never done. My 11 mile commute is obviously not intense enough.

    This was my 1st bwc, so I can't compare to Blenheim or Goodwoood. The only downer was the presentation being drowned out by the women's race PA. All else was brilliant, even if we weren't the main show.

    Here's hoping I'll get drawn from the hat next year, as a team with the wife, as she wants to enter as well!

    1. That is great going time in the top 100. Start the training now!

    2. I had a twinge in my right calf on my penultimate lap, so eased off. The guys I had been racing with made it into the top 100 :-)


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