Sunday, 15 September 2019

34 miles on a Brompton fly by

The other day I was meeting a relative outside where he works in the buildings near St. James's Palace and as it was a lovely day I decided to take the scenic route. This would involve a 17 mile cycle ride.

Part of my route involved cycling on the Grand Union Canal. As I passed over a major road I could not help but be a little smug at seeing the lines of cars going nowhere, while I glided along at my leisure. I suppose part of the appeal of cycling is the freedom it brings.




Not long after I was feeling smug, my route turned cyclocross! A tree had fallen over and further along (not shown in the photo below) there was another one down.



After passing through my old haunt of Notting Hill I arrived at Kensington Gardens. As I cycled along I saw a young teenage girl walking quite happily speaking Russian into her phone. About 2 metres behind her were three rather scary looking gentlemen in suits following attentively in a delta formation, looking with suspicion at me cycling along on my Brompton and anyone else that veered too close to this young lady.






At Horseguards the Household Cavalry were getting ready to change. I cannot think how many times I have seen this over the years but when passing, if I have time I always stay to watch for a few minutes.





After a spot of luncheon with my relative as the day still looked lovely I decided the best thing to do was to cycle back a slightly different but equally scenic way.

Just off the Bayswater Road I past the building where Spike Milligan - I think - once lived and Eric Sykes used to have an office. Eric Sykes was a comedian, actor, writer and director. I recall walking up this street in my childhood/youth and always remember him being the most miserable of people every time I set eyes on him.






When cycling along in London you often pass locations you might not have been to for ages but have significantly changed. The properties on the street below used to be single dwellings with one family living there. Now they are all converted into several flats.




This is the beauty of a Brompton. Ride as much as you fancy and if the weather or inclination takes you, there is always the option of other forms of transport.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Thoughts on another new Brompton Special Edition

Over the last few years Brompton have released lots and lots of 'special edition' bicycles. I even bought one myself in the form of the black special edition which you can see in the photo below. I am very happy with it but the recent announcement of the new 'Brompton Explore' did induce me to raise an eyebrow!




Now I won't post a photo of the 'Brompton Explore' as I would be copying one from the Brompton website which isn't cool, so if you click HERE it will take you to the Brompton page all about this bike. (If I see one in the flesh I will of course post a few photos of it).

The 'Explore' is 'kitted out and ready for you to either find a new route, or plan your next escape.' They have teamed up with all round good egg and adventurer Alastair Humphreys to create a special edition ready for anything. 

The details of the bike are at the bottom of this blog post for the M6E version which costs £1525 and it is with some of this I raised an eyebrow. 

I would question why standard Marathon tyres weren't used as they offer better puncture resistance? Why no rear rack? In addition - although there is a mudguard version - why no mudguards? I am fortunate enough to know several truly hardcore Brompton riders, who have gone on adventures that many can only dream of. I am not sure the 'Explore' would be good enough with these omissions. 

Of course I would also question why a dynamo hub and lighting system was not fitted. This has been a godsend on many an adventure - not having to worry about whether batteries will last. 

The luggage looks great, as does the spares kit but I do wonder whether Brompton has rummaged around in the spares bin for discontinued colours and simply done what it has done for a few years which is non-standard paint job labelled 'Special Edition..'

Don't get me wrong, I am a Brompton fan boy through and through but the special editions are bordering on the comical. Many equally keen Brompton types often joke that the Costa Coffee, Greggs, Argos and Subway special editions are surely but a step away?! 

I suspect what people really want is a little more innovation. For things like a double chairing with derailleur or disc brakes for example you have to go to hardened Brompton fans or independent shops offering these enhancements. Should it be Brompton that leads the way on this?

The 'Explore' will be a popular bike and sell out quickly but if you own a Brompton already it wouldn't take a great deal of effort to kit your existing Brompton out so that it was ready for truly epic adventures.  


Bike
  • Edition: Brompton Explore
  • Model: M6E
  • Handlebar Type: M type (1015mm)
  • Gears: 6 speed
  • Mudguards / Rack: version E (no mudguards or rack)
  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Colour: Distinctive colour scheme - Forest Green with Explore Orange highlight front frame and bespoke graphic
  • Gear Ratio: Reduced (-12%) 6 speed with 44T chainring - Lower gear range aids climbing and luggage
  • Saddle: Brooks Cambium C17 - All Weather Saddle in special Giallo finish
  • Seatpost: Extended (inside leg up to 35 inches)
  • Lighting: Reflectors only
  • Tyres: Marathon Racer Tanwall folding tyres
  • Grips: Gum rubber grips - softer compound for increased comfort
  • Folded Dimensions: 565mm (H) x 585mm (W) x 270mm (D)  (22.2'' x 23'' x 10.6'')
  • Weight (approx.): 11.88 kg

Luggage
  • Front Carrier Block: Yes
  • Explore Edition Metro Pouch:
    • New pouch, designed to fit under seat, on handlebar or inside larger luggage
    • Includes magnet to avoid bouncing
  • Explore Edition Borough Rolltop 28L bag:
    • Big capacity with lots of sections, ready for any adventure
    • Custom camouflage fabric
    • Fidlock closures on rear pockets
    • Integral water bottle sleeve
    • Laptop sleeve
    • Extra load strap system for securing other items
  • Spares kit
    Everything you need to keep you on the go:
    • 2 x Impac Inner Tubes
    • 4 x Spokes (2 front + 2 rear)
    • 1 x Chain Power Link
    • Replacement Brake Pads (front and rear)
    • Rim tape
    • 1 x 3-Speed Gear Cable
    • 1 x Rear Brake Cable
    • 1 x Marathon Racer Folding Tanwall Tyre
    • 1 x Brompton Toolkit with extra puncture repair patches
    • 1 x Brompton Pump


Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Seiko Watch Review

Your eyes did not deceive you. This is nothing whatsoever to do with Brompton bicycles or cycling, so if this isn't for you I have given fair warning.

If you are still here as the blog post title suggests this is a Seiko watch review. Before start I will perhaps provide some background.

In my formative years I liked action films, the sort of thing where James Bond or Arnold Schwarzenegger was saving the world and/or running around blowing things up. Watches play quite a part in many of these films. Bond has been seen wearing some rather expensive wrist attire from Switzerland - and I have been there too - but he also wore lots of watches from Seiko. In fact a Seiko watch used by Schwarzenegger in several films has just been updated and re-released (yours truly is equally excited) with the nickname 'Arnie.'

So you could say I have a bit of a soft spot for the brand. One of my favourite watches is a very simple mechanical Seiko called the SKX007. I have had it for ages. It has never been serviced but still works faultlessly. Perhaps the link with Brompton bikes is the fact that this watch has a cult following and they can be customised with infinite options to suit the owner.

My new watch is the Seiko Prospex Automatic Diver's Green Dial - SPB103J. Like lots of other Seiko dive watches it has the nickname of 'Sumo.' The specifications are impressive:





  • Premium sapphire crystal glass face protecting against scratches 
  • 6R35 automatic movement, with 24 jewels and a whopping 70-hour power reserve
  • Screw in crown
  • Uni-directional bezel
  • ISO certified 200 metre water resistance 
  • 45mm case width 
  • 13.7mm case thickness
  • Steel bracelet with security clasp and wetsuit extension 
  • Lumibrite markings that are bright and last for ages
  • That green dial and bezel!!!

The photos in no way do the green dial and bezel justice. It is gorgeous! More a British Racing Green, it picks up the light in different ways sometimes making it darker and at other times much lighter.






I am no James Bond or Schwarengger and the last time I did anything approaching diving was snorkelling in the shallows of a rock pool off the shores of Malta on a holiday with my mum and dad when I was 10 years old! However, this watch is certainly going to cope with me cycling at all hours, in all weathers and with the occasional knock.


Safety clasp

Wet suit extension


If this is anything like my other Seiko watches it provide years and years of faithful and reliable service and not let me down.

Lumibrite - wonderful stuff


I got this one from a company called 'WatchO' who are based in Milton Keynes. Have to report that they are brilliant. The price for this watch was very competitive but the current 15% discount made things even better. Delivery was lightening fast and when I returned a totally different watch for a refund as it didn't suit, it was handled with equal efficiency. I will certainly paying them another visit.

Link to WatchO

Since I got this watch it has not left my wrist and I have been enjoying that wonderful dial and bezel. For a mechanical watch is very reliable and it has been running no more than 10 seconds fast - pretty amazing really - so I am very pleased.

I very much doubt that I will utilise this watch to its full potential, unless I have to - for reasons unknown - leap into the depths of the Serpentine while cycling through Hyde Park! Still...nice to know my watch would be up to the task, even if I were not!!




Sunday, 25 August 2019

Early start, early finish Brompton London to Brighton

After what has seemed like ages, Dr John and I decided that Friday would be the perfect time/weather for a night ride to the coast - our favourite London to Brighton. As there had been some talk of train/tube lines been closed or disrupted, we chose to meet as close to 23:00 as we could and depart as soon thereafter.

Our meet location was the usual one not too far from the London Eye. Dr John was there before me and after a getting routes loaded, lights turned on, we were off.

The weather was as predicted near perfect - warm, gentle breeze and very much short sleeves. The first few miles up to Clapham South we took at a slightly quicker pace as we wanted to avoid the clubbers, taxi drivers and pedestrians that fill the area and occasionally do unpredictable things. This worked well and before long we were on quieter roads.

Our pace was purposeful and the miles flew by as Dr John and I chewed the fat about all sorts - which is always one of the welcome features of our rides together.

The cattle grid at Farthing Downs in Coulsdon in the London Brough of Croydon always marks the point at which the urban really does change into the semi-rural and then rural. At the top we looked at views down to Croydon central. Gazing skyward we could see that it was cloudless with stars and constellations visible. I tried to spot a few from my memories of Sir Patrick Moore and his programme 'The Sky at Night.' Failing dismally, I used and app on my iPhone which indicated the Milky Way was to our right. I have had this app for a number of years and not used it in anger. Of course I could not see this with the naked eye but I was nonetheless proud of locating it for once!




As we cycled along Tawny Owls could be heard making their wavering 'boohoo' call. This was followed by foxes, bats and - the highlight - a young badger that ran straight in front of us.

Our normal halfway stop had formally been outside a scout hut in Burstow where we have brought our own food/snacks and eaten them while standing outside. Dr John did a little bit of research and found a 24-hour service station that had a seating area, toilet, food, snacks and a hot drinks machine. This came at almost 29 miles.  Sadly, the hot drinks machine was not working so we bought a cold bottle of water and bot of us had a chicken and salad sandwich - at least I think it was chicken! Feeling suitably refreshed we headed out to continue.






For the last few minutes inside the service station I started to feel cold. Dr John said that this might be due to the air-conditioning but I decided to put on a light packable jacket. I needed to as I felt really cold when I stepped outside. Added to this was the sudden appearance of fog. As soon as you hit it the temperature went down by a considerable amount. We pressed on towards Turner Hill, hoping the the exertion of making an ascent would warn us up. By the time we had reached the top it must have worked as both of us took off the boil in the bag jackets we had been wearing.

We were making wonderful timing and pressed on for perhaps the highlight of the ride - Ditchling Beacon. There are many climbs in the UK but Ditchling Beacon is rather famous - perhaps because of the annual London to Brighton charity cycle ride. At 0.9 miles it has an average gradient of 9% and a maximum of 16%. It isn't easy by any means and I suspect much harder on a Brompton!

The base of the Beacon came upon us quite suddenly and after a few last minute preparations we made our ascent in darkness. It was before 05:00 in the a.m. after all. We rode up the Beacon together and after its several false summits we made it. Still dark, with nothing to therefore see and take a photo of we cycled towards central Brighton.

Most of the last few miles are downhill and this was wonderful! Pedals could be turned easily on the flats and the last little bit into Brighton was all freewheeling. We decided to head for the station and at about 05.10 we had done it. With our train departing at 05:26 we had the time to buy a coffee and almond croissant before boarding our train - which must have been my earliest departure from Brighton.




The journey lasted a little over an hour for me and I spent some of this time calculating the quickest route home, barring in mind there were some part-closures of various lines. With my route sorted I said goodbye to Dr John and got off at London Bridge. I was home by 07:15 so was rather pleased.

Another great ride and many thanks to Dr John for agreeing to do this...again! I cannot think how many times I have written this but nocturnal rides are addictive. There is just something about them. Lots of people view the notion of cycling through the night to a seaside location and then getting the train back as insanity but they are great fun! Until next time...




Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Passing a test before being allowed to cycle on London streets!

I saw a recent article that was titled cyclists should have to pass a test before they are allowed on London streets.

The article asks the rhetorical question, who hasn't seen cyclists breaking the rules of the road - from jumping red lights to cycling on the pavement or using the phone while riding. It goes on to point out that drivers have to pass their theory test, requiring a knowledge of the Highway Code. This all raises some interesting issues.

I have always lived in London and when I first took my bicycle out on the open road, I lived in as central London as you can get. I didn't take a theory test and used common sense I suppose. I went on to pass my driving test when I was 19 or 20 and continued to make the odd journey by bike. I suspect this is a similar journey to most cyclists.

As someone who cycles frequently on London streets, yes I do see all of the above but I see a much bigger and more significant problem every time I venture out.

From my experience as a pedestrian, cyclist, motorist and occasional user of public transport I see motor vehicles committing all sorts of rule breaking, selfish and downright dangerous driving more so that any other road user. I am sometimes left wondering whether those behind a wheel have ever had a driving lesson in their lives, let alone pass a test!


Sunday, 18 August 2019

Bike theft in London

Sadly, if you live in London or probably any major city, bike theft is a bit of a problem. It does seem like there is a growing and worrisome new dimension to this all.

Up until recently bike theft involved you leaving / locking your bike upon somewhere to discover that someone had managed to break the lock, chain - or whatever else was used - to secure your bike and made off with it. There is of course a whole industry devoted to bike locks that compete with each other to be top dog.

The new dimension is that there are now reports of gangs (for want of a better expression) targeting cyclists as they are riding their bikes. Some of these are on scooters and some all but ambush cyclists going by. They use the shock value of actually knocking someone off their bike to then make away with it. In addition there have been reports of a considerable amount of violence used to achieve this. Some thefts of this nature take place in broad daylight.

The Brompton is an expensive item and therefore very attractive to those who would want to steal it. I am sad to say that there are plenty of people out there who would be more than happy to buy one second hand, with a shady provenance, if it meant they could save a few pounds!

So, what can you do? As far as someone stealing your Brompton if it is locked up somewhere, I just don't understand this when you can simply fold and take it with you? In fact if I cannot go into an establishment with my folded Brompton, I turn round and leave. (It is perhaps strange to note that the locations you would expect a folded Brompton to be unwelcome are the ones that are the most accommodating).

As far as riding your Brompton along quite happily and a couple of shady types trying to take it off you on foot or on a scooter, you would have to weigh things up very quickly. My 9+ years of Judo and Karate in my youth taught me that it is better to take flight rather than fight.

Some people go down the GPS tracking route but these have limited use in the real world. Firstly they are small and discrete and as such the battery powering them has a limited life, so even if you can locate your bike you probably won't have long. I am sad to say that I have my doubts as to whether the police would be truly interested or inclined to act upon you showing them the location of your bike on a mapping app on your smartphone.

If you have a Brompton you can register your frame and serial number with them which is a start. If you are in the UK there are also registering schemes such as 'Immobilise' or 'Bike Register.'

As I mentioned the police might not be that interested in the big scheme of things and you might have to do some of the detective work yourself. Ebay, Gumtree is where you might want to look. Telling your friends and family to look might also help. In fact a few years ago a Brompton that was stolen from outside a location was tracked down by an eagle-eyed Brompton owner.

Terrible that this goes on but it exists. My advice for what it is worth is not be try and be a hero. Get away - with your bike - if you can, but if this isn't possible (as hard as it may be) let it go. The bike can be replaced. You can't!!

I welcome your thoughts on this one readers so please leave a comment.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Amazing scenes at a coffee establishment.

Saturday morning should have seen me travelling back from a night ride to Whitstable but here in the UK there was a major electrical power cut to certain parts of the country on Friday which resulted in me being stuck in traffic - almost as if the apocalypse had arrived - trying to get back to London in time and failing. So, I had a little bit of free time to run an errand or two.

I started this by folding my Brompton and taking it into one of the generic coffee establishments that are just about everywhere in the world. On a table was a man with a laptop open, A4 notepad and pen (not of the fountain pen variety in his hand). Opposite him was another man. The laptop man was incredibly loud and it soon became apparent the he was interviewing the person opposite.

Now, I don't know about you but I have seem this happen several times. I have also seen people using the place as a mini-office, on the phone loud as you like, bleating on about something or other when everyone else is simply try to buy a drink or perhaps sit down and try and forget about the 9 to 5 for all of five minutes.

It was all too much for the lady in front of me. When the laptop guy asked a question, she would interject and offer - it has to be said a very good - response that the interviewee could use if they liked. Laptop guy said along the lines 'do you mind I am trying to conduct a meeting.' to which she told him in no uncertain terms that she was trying to buy a cup of coffee and didn't think it was appropriate for interviews to be carried out in a coffee shop. The barista at the till informed that laptop guy had been there since they opened and that this was interviewee number 3!

You really do see all sorts when out on your Brompton believe me! What are your thoughts? Who was right - laptop guy or the customer who objected?


Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Reply anonymous reader about Brompton World Championships

I have getting on for just over 1000 comments on this blog. When I look to see whether anyone had left a comment, some are published while some are deleted. The binned ones are usually selling something - enhancement pills, finding a local date... A recent comment was received on the day after the Brompton World Championships and was anonymous.

The gist of the comment was that they didn't get into the BWC and they weren't pleased about it as lots of participants who did were - and I quote - 'too old, too fat and too slow' did. Seriously!? What would this person suggest? That participants can only enter if they meet certain age, weight and speed requirements?  The writer of this comment misses the point about what type of event the BWC is, or for that mater the entire Ride London weekend. It is meant to be inclusive. We are all on the same team!

To the writer of this comment I wonder why you hide behind the veil of anonymity? I assume you own a Brompton? If you do perhaps you'd like to join one of our London rides where you will meet a diverse group - ages, sizes and cycling ability - that is welcoming and friendly. Maybe after a few miles you might change your view?


Monday, 5 August 2019

London Ride46 on a Brompton

Sunday, 4th August 2019 was the Prudential Ride46 (and Ride100) and believe me it was a day to remember.




I got up at an ungodly hour and headed off to central London with everything I felt that I needed. London was very quiet when I arrived there just before 06:00. Putting the location to near where my wave was starting at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park roughly ten miles away, I headed off at a very sedate pace.




The route it took me on was all but the same as that to get to the start of the Dunwich Dynamo. A few other cyclists where along following this route and we exchanged wishes of good luck.





Knowing I was early - as I did not want to be late - I looked for a few photo opportunities. The first came in Victoria Park. As I took the photo below I jogger went past in quite literally bra and pants - not of the sports-clothes variety. Being the polite sort of chap I am, I simply said 'morning...lovely day for it' as she passed by.







Part of the route was on the Greenway Cycle Path that I have been on several times before with the Brompton crowd. I arrived at the Olympic Park in very good time - still too early - so decided to park the bike up and watch the world or in my case cyclists go by.







My last bit of the route to my start point was back on the road again and it didn't take too long to find it. I arrived a few minutes before it officially opened so I sat down and waited.







I had decided to take my Orange Flame Lacquer for this ride. I took the view that my Orange Special Edition went to the Dunwich Dynamo, so it was only fair I bring my new addition out for a spin. I tried to pack as minimalistic as I dared. One water bottle and a incredibly small Specialized saddle wedge that held my spare inner tube, CO2 bottle and a few other essentials.





The waiting then began. It was during this waiting I actually started to get nervous about the ride. It would be true to say that 46 miles is not really anything to me. I have cycled this just to take some photos of my Brompton bikes. Perhaps tit was the excitement of the ride ahead and being keen to get going but the butterflies were there. Fellow Brompton rider Jenny who was doing the Ride100 posted on her Instagram feed that she was feeling the nerves too. I have to say that I would have been feeling them too had I being doing the longer distance.




A few people were kind enough to say that they liked my Brompton and asked about it. This was to happen quite a bit throughout the entire ride and I felt at times like an unofficial ambassador for brand Brompton!

As I gazed around I was in a sea of carbon road bikes. Almost all were lighter, had more gears and would complete the 46 miles quicker and with less effort. As I looked at my Flame Lacquer Brompton I could not help my biased opinion that it was better, more stylish, more original and dare I say, less dull.




A good 30 minutes before the official start time of my wave we started moving. This made the time fly by. Before we knew it we were close to the start line, music blaring out and countdowns to be heard of the other waves getting off. I wanted to get going and was excited.







The moment came and almost to the very second we were off on the advertised start time for our wave. The first few miles were glorious. I was in my element and cycling along at well over 20 mph. I relished in cycling at speed and keeping up with and in some cases overtaking some fellow participants on road bikes. One roadie commented on whether my Brompton was one of the new Brompton Electric bikes as he seemed amazed a Brompton could roll along at over 20mph and keep up with him for a while.

For the first ten or so miles I was averaging 19 mph - which is what I had done on my Condor road bike the last time I was fortunate to participate in the Ride46. To do this I had to work hard. My brain started to engage and I realised - with some disappointment - that there was no way I could sustain this pace. As such I eased off...slightly!

At Richmond Park I was on familiar territory and it was wonderful seeing so many cyclists all around me and in front of me.





The many people lining the route were wonderful. There were cheers and incredulous glances when I rolled past...on a Brompton. Lots people were lining the route, with posters up for their loved ones. It was also quite humbling that many riders were riding to raise funds for charities that were very specific and personal to them.

For some reason the hills that I remember from last time - the one near Wimbledon especially - didn't seem half as severe. I like hills and have had lots of practice this year and made my ascent steadily. A few roadies also on the Ride 46 were off their bikes or quite slow. One rider was not pleased - not in a joking way - that a Brompton had overtaken him and shouted out 'bloody Brompton!' Later on when we made the descent he overtook me, shouting out 'not so fast now!' I took the view that he must have several issues!

I stopped for water twice and boy did I need it. The volunteers running all the water stations were excellent and it was great that a few of them were Brompton riders as well and giving me encouragement for the rest of the ride.

At a certain point in the ride (I cannot recall when) the Ride46 and Ride100 split. As I cycled along I was in awe at many of the cyclists who had almost broken the back of the Ride100 and yet looked fresh.

The last 7-8 miles I started to speed up again and resisted the urge to either chat to people about Brompton bikes, take photos or videos! This is something I really have to suppress on rides like this! With The Mall coming into view I got my phone out to take a short video and photo of the finish straight. I tried to take a selfie as well - it is the modern way - but ended up taking a blurred photo of my feet.  I have spared you that one! I did it. The Ride46 was conquered.









It took a little while to get my medal due to the huge number of people also finishing but with my medal round my neck I walked the bike up towards Hyde Park Corner and then cycled home. 

This was a lovely event and I am really pleased I got to do it a second time. The organisation in the build up and on the day was excellent, so many thanks to the many people that make this possible. 

Ironically as I waited in line at the start I got an email informing me that you could sign-up for the Ride100 in 2020. I did. If I was lucky enough to get in, I think that I would have to have a go at doing it on a Brompton and try and raise some funds for a couple of charities. So, in the meantime I think that it is only prudent to cycle the Ride100 route on one of my Brompton bicycles as a way of preparation just in case! Hope to do this before September if possible...




Thursday, 1 August 2019

Collecting my ride numbers for the Brompton Ride46

With the Ride46 happening on Sunday, today was the day I went to collect my ride numbers at ExCel in east London.

Getting there was a fairly painless affair and I arrived just after 10:30 a.m. There were lots and lots of people doing the same and as such when I boarded the Docklands Light Railway train from Canning Town to Custom House, almost everyone was either on the train to do the same as me or go to the Cycle Show that was also taking place.

Making my way to the registration area I could see that the Ride46 was very much the country cousin to the Ride100. There were only four booths where you could register for the Ride46 compared to those of the Ride100 which had lots and lots.




Registration was quick and simple and the staff were really friendly and helpful. In less than a minute I had my clear plastic drawstring bag, containing my all vital ride numbers and I was off.

I had a very brief look around the Cycle Show but there was little of interest to me. A few years ago I remember this location being the home to an indoor version of the Nocturne Folding Bike Race.




Brompton were not there but a pop-up Evans Cycles store was and had a few of them dotting around. I had another look at the Brompton Electric. It really does look great but almost £3000 price still causes me to take a sharp intake of breath.




I didn't cycle to Excel but had thought about it. I decided against it as I knew I had to be elsewhere where even a Brompton would not be welcome. One very strange sight was seeing a pigeon walking up and down a tube train carriage, with no intention of leaving. I think it was on a Circle Line carriage. How it got down there I do not know?




Before heading off to my meeting I stopped off at a non pop-up Branch of Evans Cycles to buy a 'Rixen and Kaul' bottle klick. This allows a more traditional bottle cage to used on a Brompton stem. I do like the Monki Clip that is currently on there however I want to be drink while cycling which is much easier using the Rixen and Kaul.

I haven't trained for the Ride46 but I have certainly put in more than enough miles to cope with it. The 46 miles doesn't really hold a great deal of fear for me and as long as I can fill up my water bottle at certain points I'll be happy.

If you are at the Ride46, Ride100 or just watching out for someone who is. should you see chap on an Orange Brompton, shout out hello as it may well be yours truly.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Gentleman's Guide for the Brompton World Championships

A few readers have contacted me to ask whether I could offer any pearls of wisdom as far as the Brompton World Championships is concerned. Sadly, I won't be going as like may of you out there I didn't gain place but please find below something that you may or may not find of use.

Blazers / Jackets


There are several types of blazers and jackets out there, Sadly, the bespoke tailor-made variety are a rare sight. If your blazer or jack is off the peg, do not worry unduly. Follow these simple steps. (If you have the double-breasted type, I suggest you seek some help. A guiding hand under the elbow as you walk along to find something more suitable may help.

For a two button blazer/jacket, the top button is all that is needed to be fastened. If both are done up you risk being labelled a cad.

For three button blazer/jackets, the middle button should be fastened. If all three are one up, people may tut quite freely.

Running 


Brompton allows riders to run to their folded bikes. A gentleman does not run! The only occasions a gentleman should run is during times of war or if he is late for a wedding.

Being overtaken by faster riders

To be blunt, unless you are a semi-professional cyclist, you will be overtaken. Now this is not something you want to hear and seeing someone whiz past you may induce one to let fly a profanity. Control yourself. This is not the conduct of a gentleman! If you must say anything at all, you might want to consider the following - which should not be said out loud but under ones breath:

'Oh dash it all!'

'If that doesn't take the giddy biscuit!'

Grooming 


With modern fashion there has been a move towards not shaving and cultivating stubble - or heaven forbid one of those beards not that dissimilar to those seen on the Pilgrimn Fathers as they made their homes in the New England region of the United States of America. I suggest the gentleman rider shave before departing. This will have several benefits. First, the absence or stubble will increase aerodynamic efficiency. Perhaps more important, it will ensure that people do not mistake you as being a member of the criminal classes.

Queensbury Rules


As you travel around the course, remember that a sense of fair play and abiding by the rules is a must. So, don't stray into the middle of the circuit just for the sake of it, as faster riders may well want to overtake. Keep to the left. 

The bike


Your beloved Brompton does need as much attention you can devote to it. Tyres need to be inflated to the correct pressures - preferably maximums. The chain would benefit from some oil and generally you need to give things the once over. Of course the gentleman rider will leave all this to someone else.

Shirt 


Before reading further, I must warn you that the following advice may cause destress. Please steel yourself for the worse!

Okay, if you are still reading here goes. The shirt is a very important item. As the gentleman rider will almost certainly get hot and perspire, it would be better to wear a short sleeved shirt.

A short sleeved shirt is not really something a gentleman should wear in this country and at best would only be acceptable if visiting the tropics, however for the Brompton World Championships it is acceptable - just! It will keep the gentleman cooler, which can only be a good thing. Please note however that for older members of the public - especially in the St James's area - may regard the wearer of a short sleeved shirt as someone who is probably well known to the police. 

Tie


The tie is a very important item indeed. Old school ties, sporting clubs, university etc.., are all acceptable, as are ties colour coordinated to the colour of ones Brompton. Under no circumstances however wear a bow tie unless you possess a Ph.D., in Geography or Media Studies.

Meetings and greetings


Today when you meet someone modern street talk greetings may include:

'What's up bruv?'

'How's it going?'

'Word to your mother...blood!'

This really won't do. To use common parlance, come out with any of the above and people might say, 'oh my days!!' A shaking of the hand is traditional and a greeting of 'what ho!' will cover all initial social interactions.

Nutrition 


The night before the Brompton World Championships try and eat some pasta and drink plenty of water. On the big day have a good breakfast - nothing too heavy - and again drink plenty of water. On the way have a banana and continue to take a little water. By doing this you will not be like the sickly child with a note from Matron sitting on the touchline. 

Timekeeping 


Arrive in good time so that you are not late. If you are you may panic and feel the need to run. (Please see above)!

Follow these steps and you will surly have a wonderful Brompton World Championships. 

On a serious note to those taking part on Saturday, have a wonderful time!! You will be fine and will love it!! There is something very special about this event and remember once you have taken part, you can say you took part in a cycling World Championship event and you are now an international athlete!!









Monday, 29 July 2019

Using a Brompton on canal towpaths

A recent article in 'The Guardian' caught my attention and got me thinking whether I agreed or disagreed. The article was titled, 'On roads, cyclists are vulnerable - but on towpaths they're a menace.'




The article tells of the huge increase in cycling (surly a goo thing) many of which choose - in large numbers - to cycle on canal towpaths that are narrow, uneven and bolt during the Industrial Revolution for horses to slowly tow boats. It goes on to state that cyclists using canal towpaths as a key commuter route is not sustainable. 

My experience of using towpaths in rush hour is limited. Yes they have been busy but not a problem. he section I always use is that from Ladbroke Grove to Primrose Hill - which is perhaps on of the busier routes. Ask any cyclist they they are using this particular towpath during rush hour (or perhaps any other section) and the answer will be quite obvious - no cars, safer, feel more confident. 





The article goes on to subscribe to a trial ban on cycling on canals at peak times, with on-the-spot fines issued at various checkpoints for those who ignore this. This I really cannot agree with. Make roads safer and continue to invest more in the cycle infrastructure and those using towpaths as their commuter route will almost certainly switch. Prohibiting cyclists from using their bicycles on canal towpaths during peak hours may result in many abandoning their bikes altogether. This wouldn't be good at all.

When I cycle on a towpath, I always give way to pedestrians, dog walkers, joggers etc..,  and do so to other cyclists when and where appropriate. I try to be courteous and polite at all times. In doing so I have not had any issues or been the cause of any. 



Saturday, 27 July 2019

Preparation for my Brompton Ride46

Miracles sometimes happen. Lightening sometimes strikes twice. The stars align in the right position. Occasionally kismet works in ones favour. I am of course talking about me getting a place in the Prudential Ride46. (Sadly, all of these didn't quite work for me securing a place at the Brompton World Championships this year). 

Next Thursday I plan to pop down to ExCel London where I will pick up my ride number and bits and pieces needed to participate in the Ride46. Also on at the same time is the Prudential Ride London Cycling Show where lots of cycling related exhibitors will be showing and perhaps selling all sorts of gear.

I have been deliberating which of my Brompton bicycles to take with me. At the moment I am coming down on the side of my Orange Special Edition rather than my Flame Lacquer. Saying that every time I gaze at the pure loveliness of the Flame Lacquer, I instantly change my mind!

One thing I won't be doing is turning whatever bikes I end up using to eating spec. So, there will be no change to Kojak tyres, removing the dynamo wheel, swapping out the saddle for a lighter one etc. It will just be the bike I normally use. Saying that, what I will do is to try and edit down what I take with me. My tool kit will be at a minimum as will the items I choose to carry with me. It will just be a case of making sure I give the bike the once over - and of course that it is sparklingly clean!!

As far a strategies go, I haven't got any. The Ride46 isn't a race and I will go as fast /slow as I feel I want to. I only wish that some of the other participants would take the same view. The previous time I took part in the Ride46 the last few miles weren't that pleasant as several roadies who had started the Ride100 earlier in the day, rode selfishly and stupidly obviously wanting to record the quickest time they could. 

I am very much looking forward to it all and I know that there are a few other Brompton riders also taking part. If you see me, do say hello!



I wonder if the 2019 ribbon is orange?!



Friday, 26 July 2019

Beating the London Heat on a Brompton.

It has been hot the last few days and even broken records for the highest recorded temperature here in the UK. Yesterday I went to meet my Partner in Crime, Bumblebee and initially things didn't go to plan.




We were to meet the London Eye at 08:30 but having difficulty getting to sleep in the heat, I turned off the alarm that sounded on my iPhone and slept for another 90 minutes! When I awoke I fired off a few texts to Andrew to change the meet time to 09:30!

One of the great things about owning a Brompton is that it is truly multi-modal. Get fed up waiting for a bus, train etc.., and you can simply unfold and pedal away. Get fed up pedalling and you can fold and get a bus, train etc. You get the idea. If you have ever read my blog posts before, you will know that travelling by tube etc.., during rush hour is not something I like to do. So I decided to cycle the scenic route to the London Eye. A more direct route would be a great deal less miles but my Wahoo is quite brilliant at always choosing quieter - and it has to be said much more interesting -  routes. I therefore alway put faith in it and take its more scenic route option.

I cycled just under 18 miles and I enjoyed seeing a few old haunts that I have not been to for a while. I used to live not far from Portobello Road (if you have ever seen the film 'Notting Hill' with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant lots of it was set in and around that area) and it was great to see the old place again. It brought back memories of me visiting Portobello Road market early on Saturday mornings with my dad buying all sorts of food items. 

Arriving at Hyde Park I cycled past Kensington Palace and for once a Brompton rider cycling in the opposite direction, dinged their bell to say hello. They were on a rather nice looking greyish Brompton that might have been a W12 edition. 

As I passed near St James and Downing Street there was a heavy police presence and in the distance I could hear someone shouting about Brexit but apart from knowing they were shouting something about Brexit I couldn't tell what they were actually shouting.

I arrived just after 09:30 and Andrew was waiting, having watched the world go by until I arrived. It was hot! All my water had gone and I suggested to Andrew that we retire for a suitable snack somewhere. 

As we cycled along the Thames it seemed strange that there were actually lots and lots of people about. Previous rides we have been on have normally been at the weekend and quite early when less people are about. 

We ended up at 'Look Mum No Hands' and wasted little time in ordering some food and cold drinks. It was Eggs Benedict for me which didn't last long. 






It was great catching up with Andrew again and I finally was able to hand over a set of brand new Marathon Plus tyres I had surplus to requirements for which he bought off me. 

Feeling the need for more fuel I ordered a Chelsea bun which like everything else in 'Look Mum No Hands' was brilliant. 




After that we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways - agreeing to do this all again when we were both free and able.

Knowing that rush hour was well and truly over I cycled to nearby Barbican tube station and made the short journey to ironically Ladbroke Grove which is but a step away from Notting Hill. There I found an old haunt, ordered an iced mint tea and sat down watching the world pass me by before venturing home. The wonderful thing about owning a Brompton is that you can do this effortlessly, knowing it is just sitting by your side, safe and sound...