Sunday 31 July 2016

Ride46 London

Today was the final day of the cycling fest that is Prudential Ride London. Having not got a place in the Brompton World Championships or Ride100 ballot, I did manage to gain a place on the Ride100's little sibling the Ride46. I still have absolutely no recollection of applying for this, but having paid the sign up fee I was in.

I got up at an ungodly hour as I needed to be at my waiting point between just before 08:00 and 08:30. With all the road closures I had worried beforehand about how I would get to the Olympic Park in east London. Thankfully, two things helped me. There were hundreds of fellow participants to follow and the organisers had helpfully put up large signs pointing you to the start. Brilliant.

I arrived in very good time and had over an hour to wait before my wave would start. The time went pretty quickly as the atmosphere was great. I chatted to fellow participants and we talked about all sorts from bikes, food, what we did for a living to what the medal would be like.

I had genuinely considered taking my S-type titanium Brompton for this event but thought better of it. My Condor Fratello it was and I know that I am biased, but gazing around and seeing a sea of fairly dull carbon, I was happy to bring something a little different to proceedings that for me won on the élan front/

Soon our wave was moved forward and this kept happening the closer it got to the magic 09:06 start. Other waves were sent off to the blasting of various music tracks that won the vote by show of hands by the wave waiting to got next.

There were a few people in my wave who looked incredibly nervous, having not done anything like this before. I found myself providing them with lots of encouragement and positive vibes which seemed to do the trick. With incredible precision at 09:06 to the very second we were off.

The first few miles were quite hectic. I found that on flat roads and no cars my speed increased greatly. I had joked earlier that it was not a race. I had no intention of racing but I did have to curb my enthusiasm at times.

With no cars it took a little getting used to ignoring traffic lights and cycling through red lights. The fact no cars were allowed on the roads we were cycling on was wonderful! This did not stop many participants from occupying all parts of the road, regardless of how slow they were.

It wasn't too long before I caught up some Ride46 riders who went off before me and some on the Ride100. My legs - and the rest of me - felt pretty fresh and I tried to keep my average speed at a consistent 19mph. I don't know why I picked this but it seemed to work for me.

I have already mentioned about the sea of carbon and I was indeed surrounded by it but a few participants commented on how they liked my bike. One fellow rider on a stunning Mercian Cycles bike, in a colour I can only describe as Ferrari red, shouted out 'steel is real!' before accelerating into the distance. I had these words now firmly implanted in my mind, liked them and occasionally repeated them to myself.

The miles seemed to fly by and before I knew it we had arrived at an old haunt, Richmond Park. There was lots of support along the route from charity staff, to relatives of participants to people who simply liked the spectacle of seeing lots of people travelling pretty fast on bicycles.

The hill proved little trouble and I managed to make my ascent pretty quickly. The gearing on my bike is rapid and there always seems to be a cog or two in reserve. I was even out of my saddle for a little bit - mainly to get the blood flowing.

One thing that for me was quite dramatic was my clothing choice. I decided to use a Rapha Brevet jersey that has a windbreaker panel on the front. This worked brilliantly at helping the chill away but the merino content kept me cool when things got hot. (Isn't merino just amazing stuff).

The dramatic thing as far as clothing is concerned, as the above is not that dramatic, was that I wore a pair of Rapha bib shorts. Nothing dramatic there I hear you say. No, the dramatic bit was we wearing just the bib shorts and not putting a pair of shorts over them! I felt like a proper cyclist, despite possibly having the baboon bottom I have always shunned! I have to report that there are bib shorts and then there are Rapha bib shorts. They are excellent.

At Kingston - I think - the ride slowed to a compete halt. We walked our bikes around for a while and then when we did go off we went round slowly. Just after we set off I saw a poor lady lying face down on the floor, not looking too good. Other riders had stopped to help but it looked as if it had just happened as there were no medical crews attending to her. It was quite sickening and I just hope it looked worse than it was and she was okay.

I had not actually stopped at all at any of the feed/water stations and with only half a bottle of water left I decided to stop at just before the Ride100 and Ride46 split. Once I set off I was sure that I saw the ever smiling Brompton owner Annie Panda. It was lovely to see her, said hello and wished her well.

With about 12 miles to go some of the riders who had begun the Ride100 earlier that morning merged and joined those on the Ride46. I have to say that this was perhaps the least enjoyable part of the ride. Some of these riders, with speed and fitness far exceeding my own seemed to treat the last few miles as a race. There was some very close passes from the left and right with no warning and some cutting up on corners. I let them pass and proceed behind various pelotons.

With central London in sight I knew that the 46 miles would be coming up quite quickly. With cheers and roars from the many people lining the route I headed into the home straight that is The Mall. I have to say that the people cheering and cheering were brilliant. They might have had one particular person they were cheering on but they universally encouraged everyone.

I crossed the finish line at 11:34 and pressed the stop button on my Garmin. I had done it. The first Ride46 had been conquered.

Walling my bike along I was handed my medal and later a goodie bag with drinks and food. I rang Mrs Orange to tell her of my triumph and how much I liked Condor road bike and was greeted by laughter.

This was a lovely event and well organised. The Ride100 participants really do have a very demanding route but I really liked the simplicity of the Ride46. Could I have done the Ride100 today? Maybe. I feel pretty good and the legs certainly feel that they have more miles in them but I do think I would have to put in a great many more miles before I would have answered, yes.

The ballot for the Ride100 2017 opens in a few days time. I would like to have a go at it and would have a year to train but I'd be very happy to get into the Ride46 again - assuming they offer this, which I hope they do.

There are lots of fellow Bromptonians doing the Ride100 today in addition to Annie Panda - David, Anne, Zoom Zoom, Graham, Chris, Dina but a couple Jenny and Simon on their Brompton bikes! Also on the Ride46 was Daniel. I hope that everyone enjoyed themselves and the route and you never know, I might rock up on my Brompton if I ever do this again!

Many thanks to the rider organisers and volunteers and for all the people to cheered us along the route.

The map and ride data can be viewed via the link below.

Map and ride data

Friday 29 July 2016

Brompton World Championships 2016 - Good Luck!

Sadly I will not be participating in the Brompton World Championships in London this year as I was unlucky to gain a place in ballot.

For those of you that are I wish you the very best of luck. You will have a wonderful time in a wonderful location on a great course.

The only advice I can offer is to make sure your bike is race fit, practice the unfold and pedal hard. Needless to say enjoy!

I hope to see you next year but we will have to see.

Thursday 28 July 2016

New ideas from Proviz

I have been a big fan of Proviz and their jackets over the years and own their Nightrider,  Reflect360 and Reflect360+ jackets. The Reflect jackets in particular are quite simply excellent for night riding and really do make you stand out and that bit more visible.

Below I have posted links to my reviews of these three jackets.

Reflect360+ Jacket Review

Reflect360 Jacket Review

Nightrider Jacket Review

Of course, always innovating Proviz have recently announced that they have a new jacket that they are launching via Kickstarter. The new jacket is called the Reflect360 CRS.

This jacket is very similar to the original Reflect but the difference being they will come in five colours - yellow, blue, green, black and red - but still have all the 100% reflection that the original one had.

There are still some options available for you to back this project by pledging a certain amount of money that can get you one of the jackets for half the regular retail price.

Estimates for delivery look to be sometime in November and this can be anywhere in the world. I have posted a link to where you can find more information about the new jacket and back the project if you wish.

Prove Kickstarter link

I have to say that I am very interested in the green version as it will go rather nicely with my new Condor road bike. You never know that might even release one in the future in orange?

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Bikeathon 2016

The Bikeathon is an annual event that raises awareness and funds for the Bloodwise charity. Bloodwise has been working on ways to combat blood caner since the 1960's and believe me they are doing an excellent job in this onerous task. The Bikeathon is a 52 mile route through parts of London, along the Thames and out to Richmond Park and then back into London for the finish.

Despite having cycled almost 63 miles overnight on Friday/Saturday, I - and my legs - felt pretty fresh and I was more than happy with the prospect of another 52 miles. Setting out early I made my way to Southwark Park for the 08:00 start.

On route

Yes I know, yet another bicycle photo

Things were buzzing when I arrived and many participants were eager to get going. There were all manner of bicycles, riders and many who were riding to raise money for loved ones lost or celebrating the fact they they were in remission.

Already getting busy

The first wave were set off and I awaited my turn. I knew that there were a few friends taking part in this ride but we weren't riding together. Soon our turn came to roll up to the start line and with a photographer furiously taking shots of anything that interested him, we were off too.

Progress of painfully slow for the first few miles but it wasn't a race so didn't matter. Sadly this did not deter a few participants who I suspect regarded it as a time trial and were as selfish as they were dangerous riding far too close to inexperienced cyclists who were not taking part to be the fastest.

Manoeuvring around inexperienced cyclists - many of whom had brand new bicycles - could be likened to the Millennium Falcon negoiating the asteroid field in 'The Empire Strikes Back.' I'm sure you know what I mean if you have seen it.

The start

The route was very well marked and even though gpx files were posted for participants to download to their navigational devices, you really didn't need to. I however was trying out the new Garmin 820 which the lovely people at Garmin have made available to me. I have to report it was a bit of a revelation. I like the fact that is has all the features - and a few more - of the 1000 but in a smaller body and is fast but one feature in particular stood out. When connected to your phone it provides audible turn by turn directions! I will post a blog about this wonderful device at some point but I managed to get my way around the route deliberating not paying any attention to the route markers!

In the distance I saw a familiar Brompton that could only belong to Jenny. Jenny has the moniker 'Mile Monster' and on her Brompton she has little fear of taking part in some seriously long distance rides. It was lovely to see her and we rode together for a short while before I headed off.

There was mean to be a water / snack stop before Richmond Park but I missed it. Soon I was heading into very familiar territory and seeing Richmond Park - a location I have not been to that often in the past couple of years - was a very welcome sight.

Richmond Park

As usual the park roads were dominated by cyclists. As I cycled along I saw that a few participants had laminated photos of loved ones. The dates of birth and death told everyone all they needed to know. One of the good things about a ride like this is chatting to others taking part. The motivation for some to take part in this event was quite moving and it was awful to hear about some wonderful people, whose lives were tragically and unfairly cut short.

As I had missed the water stop I decided to have my own impromptu rest before the hill we would have to ascend. The weather was lovely and for a few moments I watched as cyclists zoomed past.

Having a snack

Not long after I had set off the road ahead was blocked by several stags crossing the road. Quite rightly they cared not a jot about anyone else and sauntered along at their own pace.

Deers everywhere

Heading back in towards central London I soon found that I was travelling along very familiar territory, especially when heading out towards Canary Wharf. Near Popular I stopped at a newsagents to top up my water and buy a bar of chocolate.

A cyclist outside - not part of the Bikeathon - was tending to a puncture. Asking him if he needed any help he said that his inner tube had a hole in it and he had not spares or kit to repair it. Diving into my toolkit I produced a small stick on patch. I applied it to the small tear and he was good to go after pumping the tyre up. He was so grateful that he wanted to buy me some more snacks from the newsagent. I just told him to pass it on and do something for someone else.

As I was just about finishing my 'Starbar' - I love these when cycling - I saw Jenny going past shouting out my name. I was to later catcher her up and I saw the ever stylish Zoom Zoom passing the other way.

The final water stop was on my favourite Thames route to Greenwich but now not needing it I peddled on. The end came at about 48 or so miles rather than the billed 52. To a few cheers and smiles I was handed a medal - which was a beauty by the way - and my Bikeathon was complete.

The medal 

The Bikeathon is a lovely event and always well organised. The route is not the most demanding but it is fun. Perhaps the most important aspect is the fact that funds are raised and awareness of Bloodwise is increased. I have attached a link to their website under my usual map and ride data so you can see what they are all about and  what they get up to.

Map and ride data

Link to Bloodwise

Tuesday 26 July 2016

London to Newhaven overnighter

All of Friday I was looking forward to another night ride to the coast. The weather had been forecast - as is usual in the UK - to rain and as such I got my Brompton and my Condor road bike ready so I could hedge my bets as it were. As far as I was concerned when I stuck my head out of the front door late that evening, it was going to be dry, so Condor big wheeled bike it was.

Ready for another adventure

Again I decided to head into London via the overground train and then cycle the rest of the way in. My journey to the station confirmed that it would indeed be a really lovely night as far as the weather was concerned.

The journey was uneventful but glancing up the carriage I could see a rather strange sight. A gentleman was sitting quite nonchalant, reading a newspaper but with both his feet in a plastic carrier bag? I can tell you that when I saw him giving his ankle an itch, he had no shoes or socks on? I speculated as to what happened to him but my thoughts turned to what he would do when he reached his station? Would he hop? Would he simply take the bag off and walk, bare footed? Sadly I did not find out as I got off before he did.

Why? What happened?

I arrived at Hyde Park Corner in good time and Dr John was already there - on his Brompton - along with the always jocular, Greg. Zoom Zoom arrived not long after on his road bike.

Hyde Park Corner

Soon, participants started to assemble. This would be a slightly lower turnout but it did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm and buzz for all things night riding. Five of the group would be travelling on to Paris via the Newhaven Ferry. The rest of us would be finishing at Newhaven to return back to London once we had reached our destination.

Mark (King of the Hill) on his way home from work stopped off to say hello. When I saw him I half hoped he was going to join us but alas he could not make this one.

Our ride leader was Olaf, a cyclist with a passion for long distances, with the Paris-Brest-Paris under his belt. After the obligatory safety talk and as close to midnight as humanly possible, we were off.

We're off

Time for a selfie 

It was a warm night and was to remain so for the entire adventure. Again I have to report to liking my new road bike a great deal. I have not totally neglected my Brompton bikes and used them a few times when I have gone on errands into central London.

The ride seemed to go at quite a good pace. There were only a few mechanicals and punctures and the lower numbers taking part might have also helped with this.


With the moon partly illuminating our way we made very good progress and the miles just seemed to fly by. That extra light added to the various front lights on bicycles, allowed us to see all sorts on the road ahead. There were snails and slugs - soon to be squashed, voles that darted across the road with unseen legs and adding to the squashed theme a rat, fox and something unknown!

Our halfway stop was at the 24-hour McDonald's near Gatwick airport. This for me was a comedown from the cheese sandwiches at, 'The Cabin' in Faygate but welcome nonetheless.

When we got ready to go dawn was fast approaching and there was a slight chill in the air. I had not brought any additional layers apart from a light rain jacket but as I was too lazy to get it out from the depths of my saddle bag, I took the view that pedalling hard would warm me up in no time. (This worked)!

As always on these rides there were a few miles of cycling alone, with only your thoughts for company. Downhills and flats all helped to increase speeds and as a result the miles were eaten up in no time.

We regrouped at a familiar spot, where on Brighton rides the dreaded Beacon wouldn't be too far away. On this ride we would not be going that way sadly. I write sadly as I relished the chance of seeing how I would fair ascending Ditchling Beacon on big wheels.

As we cycled along the sun was out but so were pockets of freezing fog/mist. Going into these was like natures air-conditioning and I welcomed it immensely.

It really was quite strange as the countryside looked as if a ghostly blanket had been draped over it. Then moments later you passed it by and it was gone.

Well worth cycling all through the night for this view

With a final push and 60 miles coming up we knew that Newhaven was not too far away. At just over 63 miles and waiting on a bridge over the River Ouse for the others to arrive, we had done it.

I said my goodbyes as I had to try and get back home as soon as I could - to get some sleep and the go to a family event later on Saturday afternoon. Zoom Zoom came with me while Dr John stayed for breakfast and was on a later train.

This was another great ride and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt pretty fresh for the rest of the day and as I type this - Sunday evening - I still feel fresh, considering I did another 52 miles on Sunday!

Many thanks to Olaf, the tail end Charlie team and to Dr John and Zoom Zoom for their company.

The bridge over the River Ouse at Newhaven

Map and ride data

Sunday 17 July 2016

70 mile London to Felpham overnighter

This weekend is the weekend that the Dunwich Dynamo runs. I had signed up for this several months back but made the decision a few weeks ago that for this year I would not be participating. With my coach ticket sold on, that was that. However, there was an alternative in the form of a London to Felpham overnight ride that would be 70 miles. I was in.

I have been trying to get better at using public transport as far as night rides go and it was with some trepidation I stood alone at an overground station, bound for London. The night was glorious and the prospect of rain looked remote. I was taking my big bike out for its first night ride after all!!

This big bike business is still very new

I got off the train and cycled about 6 miles to Hyde Park Corner. The past few rides I have been terribly late for one reason or another and for this one I was terribly early - a position I am much happier being in.

A soldier stands watch

Sitting down looking out at Hyde Park Corner I took a few photos of my new bicycle and was rather pleased at the reflective logos and elements.

Reflective bits

A couple on roller skates were having an almighty row about whether they were lost - they were! They wanted to be at Marble Arch, they informed me. I gave them directions but they headed off through the arch in the wrong direction, lights on their skates blazing away until they were gone, quite literally lost to the night.

Hyde Park Corner, definitely not Marble Arch

Soon my fellow participants started to arrive. Dr John, David and Anne were there - John being the only Brompton rider of our little group. I have to say I missed Geoff. I had been pestering poor Geoff to do the Dynamo but just did't think my fitness was there.

This ride was 70 miles with a few hills, stunning views, excellent breakfast, easy return home and the opportunity to see what my new big bike was really like.

Getting ready 

After the safety talk and at the stroke of midnight, we were off. That wondrous sound of cleats clicking into place and various GPS devices bleeping to let their owners know the ride was being recorded for prosperity could be heard over the sound of the traffic.

The off

At Clapham Common we stopped to regroup. I was already liking my big bike a great deal. It felt incredibly comfortable in a way my Brompton bicycles cannot and I was able to glide along at higher speeds with less effort.

Clapham Common

Dr John has also made the plunge and a big bike is on order. I have been fighting the urge to buy a big  bike for over a year. This is my first road bike and I have only ever own a mountain bike and another Brompton when at university. I have been shocked at how much I like it and the speed of which other fellow Bromptonians are taking a similar path.

In the distance Epsom?

Our route was another good one and despite our halfway refreshment stop being at the now familiar 'The Cabin' in Faygate we arrived there from yet another direction. Very clever.


We arrived at 'The Cabin' before 04:00 and had to wait a short time until they opened up. Inside was a the sanctuary of a seat, cup of tea and a doorstop cheese and pickle sandwich. After taking a few selfies and tittering over the results - yes three middle aged gentlemen can do that - we got the signal from our ride leader that we were to go in five minutes.

Outside dawn had well and truly broken and it actually felt quite warm. No need to layer up. It was simply a case of pedal briskly for a few hundred metres and any coldness was banished.

At the front the pace was purposeful and I commented on the fact that Anne who would be taking part in the Ride100, would have no problems at all. She was a flyer! David, who was a little under the weather could usually be found with the ride leader or marking waypoints.

The views were stunning and it was a shame that I couldn't devote more time to taking some photos of them. In truth I was enjoying the cycling too much to do that.

Those views

Loving this bike

Due to recent poor weather an initially planned part of the route had to be abandoned as things were too muddy. This meant that we would have to ascend 'Bury Hill' near Arundel. This is quite a busy road with about an 8% gradient that goes on for about a mile. The surface isn't wonderful and cars zoom past at speed. I remember doing this on a night ride when it did nothing but rain and as such was not pleasant.

My road bike afforded me a certain amount of confidence that Bury Hill would be no problem at all. The gears worked well and I still had a cog to play with, just in case. In addition to this I could adopt several hand positions from the hoods to the drops to the top bars. This was great. The icing on the cake - although I didn't need it - was that I found riding out of the saddle was quite easy and knew that if all else failed I could stand and power my way up.

The push for breakfast

At the top of Bury Hill the views were incredible but alas the road was so busy with cars speeding by I dared not stop. Eventually I found a little place where I could and took a couple of photos.

With the back of the ride broken, it was time to turn on the after burners and get to the breakfast stop. A good amount of this route was downhill and I felt more confident at maintaining a higher speed on the descents. I think the disc brakes also helped with this as they did an excellent job in controlling my speed and slowing me down effectively when I desired it.

With 70 miles showing on my Garmin and 'The Lobster Pot' in view, we did it. Breakfast was ordered quickly and not long after this, a particularly fine breakfast was brought over and eaten with much glee.


The views over breakfast

With a  few quick photos take of sea views, Dr John, Anne, David and I headed for Bognor Regis railway station. We boarded our train and nearly 90 minutes later we arrived at Victoria - having said our goodbyes to David and Anne a stop before. Dr John and I muddled our way to Euston where we parted company.

This was a brilliant ride. My big bike was a revelation. After 70 miles I genuinely felt as if I could cycle another 70. It was also such a lot of fun and the only analogy I can make is that at times it was almost like flying. There are huge differences between a Brompton and a road bike of course and they are for different purposes - although yours truly has done this route and longer ones on my Brompton. I am left with the feeling that for distance rides, why bother with a Brompton at all? I know that on the next night ride to the coast, should I opt to take one of my Brompton bikes I would be longing for my road bike. Perhaps my Brompton will be just for commuting and shorter journeys, with the odd longer rider now and then?

David on his big bike

Many thanks to Adam who was the ride leader and to my fellow riders who kept me company through the night Dr John, David and Anne. Until next time.

Map and ride data