Monday 29 February 2016

Going to the Tweed Run 2016

Well, today at noon the tickets went on sale for one of my favourite events, namely 'The Tweed Run.'

I didn't manage to log in at the allotted hour - mainly as I had forgotten about it - but when I did,  I managed to secure a ticket. Yippee!

This will be Tweed Run number four for me and I have to say I have enjoyed all them a great deal. The idea is quite simple. Participants dress in their finest tweed themed outfits (and believe me some of them are outstanding) and amble through the streets on London. There is nothing fast paced about it and along the way there is a stop for tea and some refreshment. All very civilised.

In addition some of the cost of the ticket goes towards the organisers choose charity, which this year is, the London Cycling Campaign.

I suppose participants like being looked at as one of the more amusing aspects of this ride is the bemused look on peoples faces as several hundred cyclists in tweed glide past, doffing their caps and quite frequently shouting out a hearty 'tally ho!'

If you have not seen some of my blog posts on The Tweed Run, you might want to have a look and if you have perhaps remind yourself. You will find this in the labels section.

Previous Tweed Run events have been extremely well organised and the people behind it all definitely have their hearts in the right place. I am rather pleased at getting in and sure that it will proved to be a very enjoyable day.

Sunday 28 February 2016

Solo Morning Orange Brompton Ride

Evans Cycles has rescheduled their West London Sportive for today as it has been cancelled previously due to bad weather. I opted not to do it as I was pretty sure I would be unable to commit to an all day ride.

I was given permission to go out for a ride on the condition that I was back in time to collect Mrs Orange and the Orangettes from a shopping trip. So, I was up and out early and headed into Central London.

In town seems rather busy, especially for the time of day and there were lots of shoppers and tourists. By the number of people around it was almost like the run up to Christmas.

Once I got as far as St Paul's Cathedral things started to get a little less busy. Crossing the Millennium Bridge I headed off to familiar territory.

Stupidly, I forgot to take my Garmin 810 but wanting to record the ride data I had to resort to Strava, which I don't really like. Still, it recorded how far I cycled and plotted a route.

If you have a look on the various photography websites you will almost certainly see versions of the photo below. I was one of at least eight or so people with various cameras having a go.

At the headquarters of the London Mayor with views of the Thames and Tower bridge, a couple were having a very heated exchange to say the least. I in no way wanted to eavesdrop - they could be heard with me standing 50 metres away - but it would seem that they were no longer a couple but the time I took the photo below and headed off.

Reaching the views of Canary Wharf, the tide was out and lots of people were on the foreshore looking perhaps for historic items that are quite easy to find if you have the patience to look hard enough.  Joining them were quite literally hundreds of seagulls - mainly of the Blacked Headed variety.

Black Headed Gulls

A much larger Herring Gull surveying its empire

Two Russian ladies who asked for directions but might have heard about my navigational skills as they soon consulted the more reliable google maps

Almost every inch of the Thames has or will be built upon, mainly with flats and apartments. One caught my eye and I fancied the views from the windows looking about toward various points of the compass, at different times of the day would be rather special.

Greenwich soon loomed into view and I wondered how busy the foot tunnel under the Thames was going to be today?

There must have been three others apart from myself but once at the other end things started to get very busy as a huge party of tourists and cyclists came down the stair and out of the lift almost simultaneously.

There is an ever increasing amount of large public art along the Thames and most of it I like. A new addition - or at least one I have only seen a few times - is the upside-down pylon.

My goal was the Thames Barrier Visitor Centre and as I got closer I could feel a few spots of fine rain. Luckily that was it and if anything things started to brighten up a little.

At the Barrier I got a good view of one of the large metal barriers that swings into place to block the nightly Thames when the need arises.

The Thames Barrier Visitor Centre only had one customer apart from yours truly while I was there. I suspect this was because it had just opened. The other customer was a fellow cyclist on his way to Gravesend. He was a retired gentleman but looked very fit and told me that he cycles from Kilburn to Gravesend and back along this route once a week.

In the warmth of the cafe I had a mozzarella panini, latte and the contents of a plastic box below. It was all a bit tuck shop to me but I absolutely loved it because of it. I was joined by my fellow cyclist who was very interested in the night rides to the coast and liked the sound of it. He also said that he was considering getting a Brompton so that he could take it on public transport if he needed to.

Once outside I took two last photos before putting my camera away. I would cycle entire journey back without stopping. I managed to cover this journey of just over 16 miles in about an hour which was pretty good going.

This is a route I have now done many times. I know that I should try pastures new but I do enjoy this one so much. There are lots of options to keep things interesting - coming back via the Thames Clipper, using the Emirates cable car, returning the other side of the Thames to name a few.

I enjoyed this solo morning ride and made it back with lots of time to spare to collect Mrs Orange and the Orangettes.

No usual map and ride data but I did take a screen shot of what was record on Strava. Until next time.

Thursday 25 February 2016

ONE MILLION Page Views...Thank you!

At some point in the early hours of 25/02/16 my humble blog passed one million page views. This is something I knew was imminent and the fact I have now passed this mark makes me rather happy.

I could have passed the one million mark some time ago but as many of you know I drastically cut down the number of blog posts I put out there from the second half of 2015.

Some of you have been there from the very start. Some of you have only started following me recently. Many of you have even gone on to buy your very own Brompton bikes.

This blog was started as an online diary so that I could look back now and then at all the adventures I have got up to. When I look back at some of the rides I have participated in I can hardly believe it happened but the evidence is there in this blog.

Quite often I mention a few names in my blog posts and you will see that there are a few that crop up quite often. It is partly because of them that I often have something to write about or photograph! It is only proper that I take the time write about a few of these people.

There are many I could mention but I would have to start with my Partner in Crime, Andrew, who as you know has his own excellent blog. We almost started our respective Brompton adventures at the same time and has become a valued friend.

David has been the leader, organiser and pace setter for countless adventures and without him leading so many rides I would have had a great deal less to blog about. Along with his partner, Anne we have been on countless adventures and again have become valued friends.

Geoff, Mark and Dr John are true gentlemen. I have been on countless nocturnal rides with Mark and Geoff and always enjoy their company and the pleasure of friendship initiated again by the shared interest of cycling and a certain folding bicycle.

Bob, a wonderful character is a formidable cyclist and seems to know just about everyone in the Brompton scene. It was via Bob that I heard about the night rides to the coast that I have come to enjoy so much.

There are many more wonderful people I could mention but this would go on for ages.

Last but by no means least is you out there. Thank you for reading and continuing to read my efforts and for many of you to take the time to contact me. I only hope that I continue to keep you amused and that you might use my example to go out on your own adventures.

The very kind people at Brompton have kindly donated something that you the reader can win. As yet I do not know what it will be. Please do not expect it to be a Brompton bicycle! Whatever it is, it will be directly from Brompton HQ and that alone is special enough. So keep reading my blog to find out what it is and how you can win it.

Thank you again!!

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Brompton commute home signals a change in mood

Regular readers may know that I have have reported loosing my mojo - for want of a better expression - as far as cycling has been concerned. For various reasons there have been times when I just haven't enjoyed it.

Recently I have signed up for a few rides and my much beloved night rides to the coast will certainly feature throughout 2016. Looking forward to the nocturnal coast rides and the return of some favourites are all helping to restore my enthusiasm to former levels.

My commute home this evening paid a small part in all this. There were blue skies and the sun although almost about to set made things bright and airy, perhaps signalling that spring is almost upon us.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Your much!?

On my way to work today which unusually involved taking my beloved Brompton on the tube for a meeting, a member of the public came up to me to enquire about my bicycle. For a good ten minutes of my journey he asked lots of questions which I was happy to answer.

This is of course nothing new. I have said in the past that I am like an unpaid Brompton employee sometimes. The time came when I knew he wanted to ask the question, how much? I told him about the options - base model and optional extras - but his response my answer was something new.

When we got to the vulgar part of discussing exactly how much money would change hands between you and the cycle shop he actually said, seems quite reasonable from what you have said about Brompton bicycles.'

I have been here many times over the years but this was the first person to actually weigh things up and come out with that response.

I wonder whether this person will bite the bullet and get one in the future. From what he told me he would certainly like to have a little more freedom in terms of personal transport.

Before parting I informed him about this very blog. So, if you were the person on that tube carriage this morning and you decide to get a Brompton...its going to be an orange one, right!

Monday 22 February 2016

Two punctures on commute home!

My partner in crime posted recently about a puncture in his tyre that consisted of several mini punctures likely to have been caused by glass. Today after a long day I work I suffered a similar fate.

Just as I was about to leave I felt that my bike was not steering well and soon discovered a front wheel puncture. I returned to my office where I had the wheel off and replaced it with another inner tube.

On closer inspection I could see a small tear and looking at the tyre (standard Marathon) a small shard of glass had gone through the tread  and the green guard layer. I pulled it through for the inside and after checking for anything else replaced the tyre.

Heading home I didn't get a mile before I could tell that to had gone again. At the roadside I used the last of my inner tubes that I was carrying and made good my repair. About 300 metres later it went again. With no more inner tubes I was forced to walk my bike home.

After my dinner I had the wheel off and with a much better inspection under proper light I could see that the inner tube had tears in two locations.

Initially I thought U had not more spare tubes but managed to find a brand new one still boxed. Not wanting the same thing to happen tomorrow morning I decided to bin the old tyre and put a brand new one I had stored away.

I will of course have to place an order for a few more tubes and with some of the rides I do, I don't fancy being stuck in the middle of nowhere!

The only good thing in all this is of course that I can repair a puncture quickly and easily. What a change this is from a few years ago when I quite literally had not the slightest idea where to start!

Saturday 20 February 2016

London to Gravesend or should I say Otford!

Mark (King of the Hill) had planned a really good ride from Charring Cross to Gravesend. It has been a ride that I have done before and have always enjoyed it. This ride would take us on our route to Otford which Mark, Geoff and Dr Chris have all done on our way to Whitstable. This fact would hold some irony later on.

I travelled to Charring Cross by public transport and despite the fact it was early and a Brompton was build for this type of multi-modal transport, I hated it. With all sorts of cancellations and works going on I had to take an altogether different line and was subsequently late for the meeting time of 09:00. No sooner than I arrived we were off.

There were some familiar faces, a few not seen for a while like Guy and some new ones who have yet to bite the bullet and purchase a Brompton and therefore used bikes with bigger wheels.

Our progress out of London seemed slower than previous sojourns however as we have always set off at 07:00 for those it was not altogether unsurprising.

As we travelled down Whitehall and towards the Houses of Parliament, tourists were already going about the business of being tourists.

One thing I saw almost had be turning back and heading for home. You know those skinny jeans with the knees cut that you see ladies and teenage girls wearing? Well, walking towards us as bold as brass was a man in his thirties, wearing a similar pair of trousers. I mean really!

With David not participating on this ride because he had a bad cold, my muse was Mark. He was quite obliging and performed several poses.

My sense of direction as you might have gathered if you have read my blog posts for some time, is next to useless so once outside central London I cannot say with all accuracy where the following photographs were taken.

With Crystal Palace (I know that much) in the distance the hills started to make themselves known and it was a sustained climb up towards there top of a hill where wonderful views were afforded.

There were a few more hills to ascend but what goes up, must come down. There was very long descent but as things were busy with traffic, I made my descent in a not that dissimilar way to an 80 year old member of the Woman's Institute, cycling on her merry way to the daily coffee morning at the local church.

Stopping at the same point we had done on our longer rides to Whitstable we regrouped, had some water and snacks before heading off again. The weather was quite pleasant and was quite mild. The rain that was predicted held off but was definitely  going to arrive at some point.

Soon the vestiges of urban gave way to suburban and eventually countryside. This part of the world has some quite stunning views and I was thankful that the rain held off so that I could take some photos. Being prepared however, I had also packed my waterproof camera for when the rain did come.

From our previous rides we know that this route is a very popular one with cyclists. We constantly saw them either overtaking, coming the other way or at the roadside fixing a puncture.

I really should have concentrated on the cycling but being someone who loves to take photos I could not help myself. View after view was just so pretty. You will be thankful perhaps that I have only shared a small section of the 274 photos I took today!

In the photo below you can just make out a narrow road going from right to left. We were heading this way and it would result in me reaching my highest speed for the day, in addition to it being great fun.

Zoom Zoom certainly has élan

At another familiar stop point for those of us who had done this route before we go ourselves ready for the last little push to Otford and luncheon.

In the distance, surrounded in haze (which meant rain) Mark pointed out the outline of Canary Wharf and the London skyline.

About 2 - 3 miles from Otford my phone rang a couple of times. As it was packed safety away in my mini O bag I didn't really want to stop and answer. Once at Otford I saw a couple of messages which meant I would have to abandon the ride immediately and head back to London. It was nothing drastic but I had to go.

It was a rather lonely journey back to Victoria which seemed to take longer than it should. As wonderful views passed by I only wished that I could have continued. I also longed for food as I was starving!

Many thanks to Mark for leading the ride and hopefully there will be more adventures in Kent in the future.

Link to map and ride data