Sunday 8 December 2019

Brompton lights at Wembley Park

Last Wednesday was a very different Brompton adventure. It started off in the familiar territory of central London but its destination was of all places Wembley Park.

I was travelling in from north London with three choices of how to get to the meeting point outside the birdcage near Kings Cross Station: drive in, take the tube or cycle in. I opted to cycle the 15 miles or so as it would mean I could simply cycle back home from Wembley Park rather than cycle back into Kings Cross.

My route took me on the Grand Union Canal. The first few miles were quite eerie. It was dark and apart from the obvious wildlife I had the narrow towpath to myself. This was to change the closer I got to central London. At this point there were dozens of other cyclists and lots and lots of pedestrians - who walked along in total darkness. Rather them than me!

I think existed the canal towpath at the very familiar Ladbroke Grove and made my way to Kings Cross. I thought that I might be a little later than the 18:00 start so I fired off a text to ride leader Jenny (Mile Monster) to say that I would catch them up as I had the route. I need not have worried as everyone was there when I go there and we waited for Chris to arrive.

We set off and it was good to be back in a Brompton peloton. It was equally good catching up with Jenny and finding out about her recent Brompton adventures to Hong Kong.

Our firsts stop of note was the Hindhu temple at Neasden. This is a quite wonderful building and well worth a visit if you have the chance. It is a little of the Indian sub-continent in London and a stunner. After several photos of the actual temple as well as our Brompton bicycles we were off again towards Wembley Park.

I cannot think when I last visited Wembley Park. Deliberating over this I concluded that it was probably for the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at the old Wembley Stadium in 1992! As we rolled in the new stadium was partially lit up and we saw the first of the light installations.

There were a few of them doted around but for me the highlight was a light tunnel that had music pumping out with the lights sequencing with the temp of the music.

The famous Gwyn!

With a few photos taken I decided to make my way back home which would be about 8-9 miles away. Roughly two minutes from setting off I saw a bottle laid horizontally on the top of one of three bollards, on fire. Yes you read correctly, on fire! I cycled as quickly as I could past it and about 40 seconds later I heard a loud bang.

The rest of my ride home was thankfully uneventful apart from the cold. My hands and feet were frozen and I was glad to roll up to the sanctuary of home. The light installations were quite good but the company of Brompton peeps better. As I wrote, the last time I went to Wembley Park was 27 years ago and I think that's the way I'd like to keep things. Hopefully the Canary Wharf Lights will return in early 2020 so I will be able to get another light installation fix then.

Many thanks to Jenny for putting on the ride.

Saturday 23 November 2019

New Brompton Black Editions

As an owner of an Orange Black Edition I noticed that Brompton has decided to release a few black editions again. This time there is a difference.

A few colours are the same - Black and Turkish Green - but joining them is one in a rather fetching Rocket Red. For my money this is the best of the bunch for this launch.

The biggest difference to the Black Editions is that you can now get the Superlight version with the titanium parts painted black - a theme borrowed from the CHPT3 edition. If you like the idea of shaving off approaching 1kg of the standard Brompton then this might be your thing. I owned an Orange Superlight a few years ago and put lots of black part on it - apart from the titanium bits - but hated it, so for me at least this is way better.

As always with the Black Editions, if you are in the market for your first Brompton or getting a second, I'd commit to buying one of these sooner rather than later as they always seem to sell out after a while.

Until next time, happy pedalling.

Link to the Brompton website for details of their Black Editions

Sunday 17 November 2019

Last overnight Brompton ride to the coast?

Friday night is the start of the weekend. Going into central London you will see people letting their hair down - and sometimes a great deal more - as the working week for most has come to an end. I however associate Friday nights in central London with the start of a night ride to the coast and last Friday was no such exception.

The meet up point was was Hyde Park Corner which brought back fond memories as it used to be the start of many of my first foray into nocturnal cycling to the coast. Sadly Dr John looked as if the weather / time of the year had out him off so didn't come. The ride was actually the idea of my old friend Tom, who had left his Brompton Chpt3 at home in favour of one of his usual mountain bikes.

This time I set off with my wallet, plenty of cash and my mobile phone, as did Tom! (Read my recent blog post about a Southend run to find out why this was important if you have not already).

Earlier in the day/early evening it had been raining but as we set off it stayed away. In fact there was very little in the way of rain for the entire ride. It was chilly - well it is November - but Dr John pointing out that almost at the same point last year we had done the Brighton run in short sleeves! For this ride we both had a few layers on and winter cycling gear out in force.

London looked - as always - resplendent. Despite the chill and the earlier rain, it was busy and there seemed to be lots more people out and about than there normally is at this time.

Our pace was conversational and we caught up on things and as always when two old friends get together, took a walk down memory lane. At times the two of us were in hysterics at some of these memories and had to actually stop pedalling.

As soon as we passed Clapham the ride took on a different vide. From this point it was almost as if the urban was left behind. Traffic got less and less to the point that cars etc.., were a rare sight. Climbing up and reaching the cattle grid with views of Croydon was quite eerie as the first of many blankets of fog hung around us. At times it was a little like a Hammer Horror set and our front lights were rendered next to useless at illuminating the path ahead. The light they produced bounced off the fog and offered little insight to what lay ahead. A full moon, dogs howling in the distance and owls hooting all added to this rather gothic atmosphere.

The halfway stop was at just over 25 miles. Tom had brought enough food with him to feed an army and this we ate outside the Scout Hut at Horley. Tom had a pannier rack and bag, in which he had the secret weapon - a 2 litre thermos flask with hot water therein. (This brought back memories of Geoff doing the same on a ride to Burnham on Crouch). After a tea and coffee and some lovely food we were off again.

Turners Hill was about 8 miles from the halfway stop. I ascended pretty quickly but Tom with a massive rear cassette - the biggest ring of which looked like an old 12 inch - meant he motored up with ease.

One of the great things about night rides is cycling along with few distractions. The only thing to hear is the sound one ones bicycle and any nature lurking around either outraged at being disturbed or simply letting you know it is there. At these moments you think about all sorts and have - to use a modern word - headspace.

The moon was our contact companion and as we approached the 50 mile mark Ditchling Beacon was but a step away. Reaching the carpark at the base of the Beacon we readied ourselves. Again I made good time up the Beacon but I simply went at my pace. Tom's incredible gearing meant he could have  almost ascended a vertical climb but he found that he was spinning quite a bit until he found the gear he liked.

We did it. With the Beacon done we cycled the last few miles into Brighton central. This is a very pleasant few miles as almost all of it is downhill and freewheeling. At Brighton we headed for the station where we bought a coffee and a bite to eat. Our train journey back to London was quick and we more or less had the carriage to ourselves for the entire journey.

Back in London we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Tom invited me to join him on one of his nocturnal off-road adventures as he prefers them to road cycling. That was a maybe from me as I prefer road cycling. Many thanks for the invite and the company.

I titled this as my last nocturnal ride to the coast for 2019. I am toying with the notion of doing one more - probably London to Brighton. I love this route and getting back into London is a doddle. I will have to have a think about this one though. Until next time...

Sunday 3 November 2019

Brompton brings back Orange!

Brompton recently announced that is was bringing '...back by popular demand..' its ever popular 'Signal Orange.' As you can appreciate I was rather pleased about this.

A few years ago Brompton took the decision to discontinue orange as a colour you could choose to have your Brompton in. At the time I raised an eyebrow to this and could never quite understand their logic. Several months later orange was back as a 'Special Edition' and yours truly bought one. More recently there has also been the introduction of 'Flame Lacquer' that I absolutely love.

I do wonder when Brompton will bring back the option to have a Brompton in yellow? It too has been discontinued and not even available as a special edition. I have a friend who would be very please if they did.

So, if you are in the market for a new Brompton, orange could be a option for your shopping list. Just remember though, there is only one Mr Orange!

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Unintentional 100 mile overnight London to Southend and back!!

Late last week a of friend put forward the suggestion for a an evening ride to Southend. The idea was a simple one. Start off after work from central London and head off towards Southend. Once at Southend we would get the last train - just after 23:30 - and be back at Fenchurch Street less than an hour later. Simple. Can you guess what might have happened?

The meeting point was Hyde Park Corner early Saturday evening where I was to meet my old friend, Tom who was a new convert to the Brompton. His new bike was a CHPT3 and he liked it a great deal but knowing Tom as I do he will probably tire of it and move on to another one in another colour or something totally different. 

I was about to take a photo of my bike - that's what Brompton people do - however searching my pockets and everything else I could not find it! After a momentary fit of the vapours in which I fancied some London footpad had pilfered my phone, it dawned on me that I had left my iPhone up the road in SW7. In fact in my haste I had also left my water bottle and small wallet. This wasn't an issue as Tom assured me he had his phone with him and we could buy anything we needed using it. We headed off.

London was very busy when we set off shortly after 18:00 and things didn't really get any calmer heading east. Tom was loving his new Brompton and it was strange to see him on anything other than his usual mountain bikes.

We arrived at the usual halfway stop, Junction 31 services off the M25 in very good time and things were very different than when I have usually arrived there at about 03:30 in the a.m. on night rides starting at midnight. Then, little is open and no-one is around. This time a great deal more was open and the place was really busy. Tom treated me to a coffee, muffin and sandwich.  We happily ate this content in the knowledge that we were making excellent time. In my mind I was already planning the day ahead. 

Tom is no stranger to nocturnal rides but this was his first on a Brompton. He can normally be found on one of his many mountain bikes - that seem outrageously expensive - doing lots of night trails. His favourite is a London to Brighton route that he claims is more than two-thirds all off-road. On his bike he had a huge Exposure light the brightness of which was astonishing. Pointed down towards the road, so as not to inconvenience drivers, it illuminated the road ahead for both of us.

After the halfway stop the roads were quiet and the simple joys of cycling along in the middle of nowhere, chatting away about all sorts, hearing the sound of ones bicycle working and unseen nature all around made the miles fly by.

We made excellent progress along a tried and tested route and as always my Wahoo made navigation effortless. I was initially worried about the slick tyres on Tom's CHPT3 being puncture prone but my fears were unjustified. They seemed pretty good.

Southend came up very quickly and was extremely busy. The seafront was heaving. There were brides and grooms on hen and stage nights, taxis waiting for customers and generally lots of people out and about. With a train to catch and roughly 15 minutes to spare we headed for the station and the last train to London.

Heading to the ticket machine Tom attempted to pay for our tickets using his phone. This is where disaster struck. After several attempts he was unable to pay using it. Without enough cash between us (I only had £3 in coins) and the last train about to depart, there were few options. Using the last of my money to buy some water and a chocolate bar I reversed the route on my Wahoo - which reminded me about one-way streets - and we were off.

The first few miles felt very strange. I didn't actually feel tired at all and I was thankful that the route to and from Southend was more or less flat. It was as if the ride had just started but the difference was that after just a few miles it was very quiet.

Arriving back at Junction 31 services more or less at the same time night rides starting from London arrive there, seemed very strange. It was a crisp outside and we welcomed the warmth and sanctuary it afforded. We decided not to stay long and headed back outside. Layering up - as we both felt the cold - we set off, only to take the layers off after a couple of miles as they were making us too hot!

We approached the outskirts of central London at about 0600. I was glad to be back! The photograph below - taken with Tom's phone - was on the Millennium footbridge just before we went our separate ways. Many thanks to Tom for the idea, the company and the adventure.

In all we clocked up just over 108 totally unintentional miles. I have often thought about cycling back from one of these rides, with Southend always seeming like the best option as there aren't too many hills, but have never got round to doing it.

As I cycled back, London was empty and no-one was about. I suspect that this will sadly be the last of the night rides to the coast for this year and I will probably have to wait until a few weeks into 2020 before they resume. What a way to end the 2019 season though!!

Sunday 22 September 2019

London Car Free Day with come familiar faces

Today was a Car Free Day in London - well part of it - and as there was a Brompton ride with some familiar faces not seen in a while I decided to brace the elements and attend.

I set off in good time for the 09:15 meet time and as I cycled through Hyde Park the heavens opened (of all of about three minutes) and the bits of me not covered by my boil in the bag lightweight rain jacket was soaked.

As I neared Hyde Park Corner a cyclist asked for some directions. He wanted to go round the large roundabout rather than through Wellington Arch - the safe way. I did tell him that even at this early time of the morning it can be a little like tackling the North Face of the Eiger in a pair of espadrilles. He didn't listen and several beeps, shouts of expletives and then him riding up next to me as I waited at the lights after passing through Wellington Arch, told me I might go been right!

I arrived at the meet-up point, Kings Cross in good time and saw the familiar sight of my partner in crime, Andrew already there. With him was Chris B not seen in ages, Guy and Chris M. Not too long after that our ride leader and mile monster Jenny arrived.

We set off at about 09:20 heading towards Tooley Street near London Bridge. The rain was around for a short while and then things turned out rather nice and the sun obligingly came out.

Short rides of only a few miles are not really something I do very often now. I am more attracted to something longer and possibly with the odd hill here and there. I do however love rides like this where lots of Brompton riders are out in force. It again made me wonder whether I am missing out on excluding myself from them?

As we cycled along I chatted to some of the old crew and it was great to catch with them. We have to some extent, almost like a very successful rock group of old, gone our separate ways to work on solo projects. Despite this however, when we are back together it is like  old times.

We arrived at the Galleria opposite London Bridge Station and headed for a cafe that the lovely peeps at Brompton HQ had provided a complementary tea, coffee or whatever took your fancy. Thank you Brompton.

Andrew and I caught up with each other about what had been going on and as usual made provisional plans for a ride or two in the not too distant.

After a while the final members of the old group - David and Anne - arrived and it was lovely to see them again and catch up. Anne showed me some of the photos she has taken and they were stunners. It made me think that I really do need to get the big camera out and about again!

With my coffee and a particularly good maple syrup and pancakes eaten we headed off to the Brompton stand that was part of the Car Free London.

A single parking space occupied by 42 Brompton bicycles certainly made one think.

With some many Brompton riders around there were several photo opportunities and we were organised into various formations that the Red Arrows would have been proud of.

After the Brompton stand we headed off toward Covent Garden and the Brompton Junction store. Some members of Brompton staff were going to lead us to their other store in Westfield Shopping Centre.

After chewing the fat for a while I decided to call it a day, said my goodbyes and headed off.

It was a lovely way to spend a few hours and even better to catch up with some of the members of the old firm. Hopefully it won't be as long before we do something like this again...

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.  

  • 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

  • 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...