Saturday, 20 July 2019

Brompton Dunwich Dynamo 2019 Completed

When I rose early on Saturday morning the Dunwich Dynamo dominated proceedings somewhat. This would be Dunwich Dynamo number four for me.

My first port of call was Compton Cycles. I took the bike in for them to check over the headset and a little play in the rear wheel. (There probably wasn't anything wrong with the wheel but I thought it best to get it checked). Jim at Compton Cycles took little time in giving things the once over and in less than 10 minutes I was on my way again. It is a wonderful shop.

On the way to Compton Cycles I heard from Dr John and that he might not make the dynamo as his calf was playing up and he would tell me later. Not long after he confirmed that he was not going.

The rest of the day was busy. I had some family stuff to do as well as plugging every electrical item I was taking with me on the Dynamo into various sockets so that they would all be 100%.

Eventually, the time came for me to leave home and I set off. I reached London Fields in good time and even though I was earlier that the - sort of - official start time of 20:00, there were lots of cyclists about either getting ready, waiting for friends to arrive or just starting early to avoid the crowds.

Geoff had previously said that he would be riding the Dynamo (on big wheels) and like me would be starting earlier. Firing off a message to Geoff we arranged to meet a little further out from the start point. My hope was that I would be able to ride with Geoff as far as Epping Forest (or slightly beyond). To my delight we ended up keeping each other company for the entire 112 miles.

Pressing start on my Wahoo just before the blue iron bridge (sort of official start) I headed off and met Geoff at the Lee Valley Ice Centre.

The official, unofficial start.

It was great to see Geoff again. While I navigated via my Wahoo, Geoff was using the spoken tune by turn directions on Ride with GPS. Both worked well.

Geoff checking the route

As we cycled it gradually got darker and darker. In the distance on the horizon the setting sun threw up oranges and reds and the overall scene was one of great beauty.

Sunset in Essex 

The miles flew by on fairly quiet roads and before we knew it 44 miles were up and we stopped at Finchingfield. A pub was selling cheeseburgers for £5. It didn't last long as it was pretty good and just what was needed. 


At Finchingfield I saw one of the many bicycles adorned with lights. I always like seeing them but perhaps as we had set off earlier I didn't see as many as I have on previous rides.

Light bike!!

Pressing on after being suitably refuelled we decided to forgo the stop at the Sudbury Fire Station in favour of one a few miles up the road at Needham Lake. We parked our bikes overlooking the lake but as it was still dark the only thing we could make out were some swans fighting over the best floating spots.

At Needham Market there was a stall selling sausages with onions in a bun. They were wonderful and I seriously thought about getting a second!

The 100 mile mark arrived at 03:57 a.m. and it was the first time I have passed this distance on any bicycle for some time. In fact the last time I did was perhaps the Dynamo back it 2017!

I found the next 8 - 10 miles demanding. I had to stop to take on some fuel before pressing on. The last couple of miles I had a second wind and seeing a Brompton rider in front of me brought out the childish competitive streak in me and I had to overtake him. We reached Dunwich Beach just before 05:15 a.m. We had done it.

Needham Lake

Going over to see if I was able to get my ticket for the coach journey home I was told that they wouldn't be scanning the bar codes on our coach booking confirmations until 06:30 a.m. Luckily they started doing it a little earlier and I got my ticket just before 06:00 a.m. and I had a place on the 09:00 a.m. coach.

I made it!!

Geoff and I parked the bikes up and Geoff sat propped up against a little old beach hut/shed. It started to get colder and I felt absolutely frozen. Geoff was much the same. This lasted for over an hour before the sun made an appearance and started to warm things up again.

Just before 08:00 a.m. I said my goodbyes to Geoff who was going to stop off at a tea rooms for breakfast before cycling onwards to Ipswich Station.

The queue

I sat down where Geoff had and waited for the time to tick by watching the growing queue and the few brave cyclists who took a dip in the North Sea.

Riders arriving

I boarded my coach just after 08:30 a.m. put my Brompton into the luggage compartment and retired to my seat. Wheels rolled about 10 minutes after the advertised departure time and not long after that I remember very little until we stopped at Chelmsford Services for a comfort break.

Once back on the coach I drifted off again for a short while and stayed awake thereafter. Getting to our stop near Millwall football ground was slow and cumbersome due to some rather selfish parking. We got there and once off the coach I got my Brompton from the luggage area, said thanks to the driver and was off to London Bridge Station not too far away. I was home and in the shower well before 14:00 which I was pleased about.

A VERY quiet coach journey!!

I didn't actually feel too bad the next day and apart from feeling a little like I needed an early night the following day, I was fine. I think that if I did this next year I would definitely pack a lot lighter. I packed quite a bit of food and water but I need not have. There were lots and lots of locations along the route where I could eat or top up fluids. I would also check the route on my Wahoo as I had a few differences in the official tried and tested route. In all though I enjoyed this Dynamo more than any of the others.

Thank you to Southwark Cycles and Andy who out on the coaches and got us home. Special thanks to Geoff - yet again - who allowed me to tag along. It would have been a very lonely ride without his company and I am not sure that going it alone would have gone down well with Mrs Orange had I not ridden with Geoff.

So, would I do it next year? I think I would have to say the chances are high.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Hiplok FLX bike lock for my Brompton

One of the many reasons people buy a Brompton is the fact you can fold it and take it with you. As such you often do not need the heavy and expensive locks that makes claims about how resistant they are to withstanding the the most determined thief. So, why am I writing a review of a bike lock I hear you say?!

My feet are firmly in the camp that say that if I am out on my Brompton and refused entry in a shop or establishment with my folded Brompton, I turn around and look elsewhere. This in itself is quite interesting. Recently (on rainy Sunday morning with no one about) I tried to enter a small supermarket outlet on Oxford Street to buy a bottle of water and was refused entry. Moments later I walked into a high-end pen shop on Bond Street to collect a fountain pen that was being serviced and they could not have been more accommodating.

What I am saying is that I don't really use or need a huge lock. My Brompton always comes with me and when I do leave it a few metres away from me, I keep a close eye on it, being ready to strike with the ferocity and speed of a coiled cobra should anyone get too close!!

Occasionally I do take a lock and for a few years I have been using a HIPLOK FLX. This is a very compact lock with a light and all integrated into a clip that can fasten to bags, coats, belts and jersey pockets. At 100 grams you almost forget it is there.

The lock has a light that pumps out 10 lumens and has a constant and flashing mode. The flashing mode lasts for hour and hours.

It is a combination lock, so no keys are needed. The retractable steel cable extends up to 1 metre and affords basic protection for low-risk areas. The cable is also coasted in a plastic cover so it won't scratch the paintwork.

I have used this lock on trains where my Brompton is sitting on a luggage rack and at times where I just want some peace of mind. It definitely isn't a lock that you could use to leave your beloved Brompton unattended but as a cafe lock it is very good.

The retail price of the HIPLOK FLX is £49.99 which I think is too much. Shopping around I paid £19.99 which for me was a price that works. This lock normally stays inside my saddle bag or is clipped to a pocket and complements the smaller is better vibe of the Brompton.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Brompton Overnight London to Brighton Part II

Just over a week ago I was all set for a Brompton overnight London to Brighton but I had to cut this short. CLICK HERE. With the weather looking wonderful and more importantly having the time to commit to this, I offered the ride to Dr John when he enquired whether I was free over the weekend to go on a Brompton ride. This Friday night was definitely Part II.

Our meeting point was the usual location on the South Bank not too far from the London Eye. Dr John was already there when I arrive at about 23:30 and thinking it was best to get going we headed off.

The weather was wonderful and I hope that it is as good for next weeks Dunwich Dynamo. Temperatures didn't really drop below 15 degrees and for a good part of it things were a little hotter.

I decided to take my Flame Lacquer Brompton with me for this adventure, mainly as it would be a ride of firsts for it. First time up Turners Hill. First time up Ditchling Beacon. First time to Brighton. You get the idea.

Once we had got past Clapham things started to get a little quieter and eventually urban gradually gave way to rural. Before long we arrived at the cattle grid on Ditches Lane where we cycled through Farthing Downs. This areas is a protected site that is home to several rare plants. It is also of archeological importance with finds showing human occupation back to the Neolithic period. At the top we stopped for a drink of water and took in the sparkling lights of Croydon in the distance.

We continued to make excellent time and about 26 miles we looked out for the Scout Hut which for us marked our halfway stop. As we cycled along we thought things looked familiar and soon the iron fence of the Scout Hut was upon us.

There we ate the food we had brought with us and again the weather made things very comfortable. With comestibles done we headed off.

Dr John had done some research and found a small service station that was open 24-hours and more importantly had a hot drinks machine. Despite the weather not really warranting the need for a hot drink, it was still appealing. At a roundabout not actually that far from where the Scout Hut was located, the service station came into view. Not only did it have a hot drinks machine, it sold sandwiches, snacks and every type of chocolate bar imaginable. In short it was an oasis. There was even a modest seating area. With a hot drink and a cold bottle of water I sat back and we both agreed that this would be our halfway stop from now on. Refreshed - for the second time - we headed off.

The next feature of the ride was Turners Hill. It was at the top of this location I recall sitting down, resting my eyes and actually nodding off. Dr John says that it was only I that did this but I remember Dr John dozing off just before I did.

Turners Hill arrived and we made our accent and both of us made very good time up. Dr John was to later inform me that its was his fastest time up it and I suspect it may well have been mine too.

Every now and then we cycled though some cold pockets of air. This was a rather strange sensation but a welcome one as they did not last long and was almost like stepping into an air-conditioned room for a few moments and then going back outside into the warmth.

From about 03:00 dawn was on its way and in the east we could see glimpses of light trying to peak through on the horizon. This time of the morning was wonderful. Birds sang and apart from the noise our bicycles made and our conversation, it was the sound of the dawn chorus that acted as a soundtrack to our adventure.

The light and colours at certain points was beautiful - especially the orange tones that blended with the blues, white and greys of the sky.

We were making excellent time and in the distance we could see the rising hills that signalled we were getting closer to the infamous Ditchling Beacon. Just after I look the photograph below, an insect so large I feared at first was a small bird, hit me in the chest. By the time I had finished telling Dr John what it might have been I finished by stating it might have been a young Red Kite!

We arrived at the car park at the base of Ditchling Beacon which queued me taking lots of photographs of my Flame Lacquer Brompton at various points.

After taking onboard some water and the odd sweet we made our way up to the top. We weren't in any hurry and did not really care what speed we made our accent. Dr John was up in front with me a few metres behind. As we cycled along the views to my left were wonderful. It was only with the greatest self-control that I did not get off the bike and start taking photos. As I continued up and up it occurred to me that for once there were no cars going up or down. We had the Beacon to ourselves and this really was a very good time to do this.

Finally we reached the top which was the start of more photos. This done we headed off to central Brighton. Again the roads were devoid of all cars which was wonderful. The last few miles into Brighton were free-wheeling and raving at the the seafront we had done it.

After a few more photos we headed straight for the station. With about 5 minutes before our next train, I collected my ticket from one of the ticket machines and we boarded our train. I was to get off at London Bridge at about 07:40, while Dr John headed a little further. Cycling to a nearby tube station I was home before 08:30.

This was a lovely ride. Dr John and I have now completed this route several times. Both of us like it a great deal and I suspect future rides featuring the half-way stop at the 24-hour services rather than outside the Scout Hut will add another dimension. Many thanks to Dr John for again being my cycling partner for this ride.

Next weekend is the Dunwich Dynamo. From now until then I will have to make sure that I am fully prepared and have a good think about what to take/not take with me. I am looking forward to it and I am sure Dr John (it will be his first Dynamo) will enjoy it greatly too.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Preparing Brompton bikes for the Dunwich Dynamo

As I type this blog post, the Dunwich Dynamo is just over a week away. Eek!!

The Dunwich Dynamo is an annual cycling event, starting at Hackney Fields in London and finishing at Dunwich Beach, some 112 miles away.

Last Sunday by way of starting the preparations for this event I decided to give my Orange Special Edition a good clean. (It was still dirty from the very wet Whitstable run a few weeks ago). I knew that the next few weeks will be very busy for me and if I didn't start the prep now, it would all end up being last minute.

The first big decision is what Brompton to take with me? There are plus and minus points for each of my two Brompton bikes.

Orange Special Edition

  • Better front dynamo light
  • Older so less likely to be bothered by a summer downfall

Flame Orange

  • Front and rear dynamo lights have built in reflectors - but front light not as powerful
  • This bike has a Brooks B17 Titanium Special which is really, really comfortable

In truth there is not much in it.

The big thing I need to do is fit a pair of standard Marathon tyres to my Orange Special Edition. I have had Marathon Plus tyres fitted since the bike was new and although they are much better than the older versions I remember, I still prefer the standard Marathons. A brand new pair arrived today so I will hopefully fit them over the weekend.

Next is water. In hot weather I seem to need a fair bit, so I will need to carry a few bottles. Hopefully I will be able to stop along the route and fill up somewhere.

The final thing to do will be to check the bikes over and make sure I am happy with everything. I actually like the idea of having two Brompton bikes that I can choose from. Once this is all done it will be a case of turning up and pedalling into the night.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Your new Brompton - Expectation vs Reality Part II

Back in 2014 I wrote a blog post titled 'Your new Brompton - Expectation vs Reality.' CLICK HERE A great deal has happened in the almost five years since this post was written and I thought I would write a part II.

Expectation #1

To make your Brompton unique, you customise it in some small way. This might be fitting a new Brooks saddle or new grips. You don't need to go too far.

Reality #1 

Customising your Brompton is a trip down the rabbit hole! Before you know it you'll be looking for upgrades sourced from the Far East offering exotic materials such as titanium or carbon fibre!

Expectation #2 

Brompton bikes rarely get punctures and if you do, you'll get your Brompton Toolkit out of the frame and have your Marathon Plus tyres off in next to no time. I mean how hard can to be?!

Reality #2

Unless someone has told you how to fix a puncture or you have had a practice run beforehand or are just mechanically minded, you stare at your rear wheel puncture first in disbelief and then horror. You all but become a character from a Jane Austen novel, ready to faint at any moment. With the wheel off - eventually - you get the tyre levers out of your Brompton Toolkit (that you bought at the same time as your Brompton but never thought you'd actually use for its intended purpose). Onlookers think that you are perhaps in training for 'Worlds Strongest Man' as much wrestling and effort ensues. As you attempt to get the type off the rim, the only thought in your head is that this must look like you are competing in 'Worlds Strongest Man!' At this point you seriously consider whether your AA, RAC or Greenflag breakdown cover will stretch to Brompton punctures!!

Expectation #3 

You have bought your new Black Special Edition. To match your new Brompton you buy one or two colour coordinated items of clothing. When choosing Brompton luggage you  opt for more of the same. It is only one or two items - just to compliment your bike.

Reality #3

Along with Reality #1 this is a rabbit hole. Before you know it you are head to foot in black and anything not black, you want black. Heaven forbid, but you might actually become know by the colour of your Brompton!!

Expectation #4

Your Brompton is built like a tank and able to cope with the grind of a daily commute in whatever weather. Nothing will stop you...nothing!!!

Reality #4

You seek out and install several weather apps on your phone and pay more attention to meteorological matters. For the first few weeks of ownership you dare not take your Brompton outside if there is even the slightest chance of precipitation. In fact you consider a second Brompton for such an occasion, justifying it by the notion of you needing a summer and winter Brompton.

Out on your Brompton your worst fear is realised as a bead of water hits your head and then...your Brompton. You pedal faster as the rain starts to fall. Tat least the rain will help to mask the tears!!

Expectation #5 

You buy your Brompton and with it or soon after a Mini O-bag. You find this great to carry your essentials.

Reality #5

It's another rabbit hole. Along with #3 your look for ones that colour coordinate your Brompton. Next it is bigger bags. After that ones finished in different materials. Before you know it you have more bags than you can use!

If any ion these ever applied to you please leave a comment and let me know. Just remember, you are not alone!

Sunday, 30 June 2019

7 reasons why owning a Brompton is good for you

I can honestly say that owning a Brompton has been nothing but - and continues to be - a positive experience. Lots of my fellow Brompton riders would almost certainly agree and I thought I would give you seven reasons why riding a Brompton is good for you. Here goes. In no particular order:

#1 Health benefits

If you comment to and from work or go out for the add Brompton adventure you are almost certainly going to burn some calories. Do this often enough and you could lose some weight. This will in turn cut your risk of heart disease and cancer. It can also help to strengthen your immune system. There have been reports to suggest cycling can help to give better lung health, which in turn helps reduce incidents of the common cold.

#2 Save time

Having a Brompton can definitely help you to save some time. At its simplest level, if you get the bus, train or tube to work it will cut down on your walk to the station or bus stop. It will also cut back on the waiting around to catch one of these. A simple example of two journeys I have taken might illustrate this best.

Non-Brompton journey - Walk to the bus stop. Wait for a bus. Get on the bus, Walk to destination.

Brompton journey - Unfold. Cycle. Fold. Take your bike with you to your destination.

#3 Better mental health

Cycling to work had allowed me to process ideas and concerns. Cycling from work to home has given me the chance to unwind and pack the day at work away by the time I reach home. It is of course a physical activity and doing do releases adrenalin and endorphins that would otherwise not be. All have been linked to boosting your mental health. Being quite often a social activity, riding your Brompton can increase your circle of friends. This certainly helps with your mental wellbeing and work life balance.

#4 Muscle

Cycling your Brompton over time builds muscle. Muscle is leaner than fat and more muscle results in more calories being burnt.

#5 Sleep

It might be fairly obvious that cycling on you Brompton for a good few miles will tire you out a little and help you sleep that bit better.

#6 Friends

Cycling on your Brompton can be a solitary activity but it can also become a much more social one. I have gained several friends purely and simply from owning a Brompton and joining a group ride.

#7 Save money

A Brompton is not inexpensive and many might gawp at its cost. However with a cycle to work scheme or with Brompton now offering 0% finance the cost can be spread a little thinner. If you replace your regular commute with a Brompton, it won't take too long before all those savings on fares will pay for the Brompton and you might benefit from all of the above.

There you have it. My top 7 reasons why owning a Brompton might be good for you.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Brompton overnight London to Brighton Aborted

Last night was all set. Dr John and I had agreed that we would do one our respective favourites - London to Brighton overnight. Train tickets had been bought, Brompton bicycles prepared, snacks purchased but events conspired to scupper our plans.

If you have read this blog before you will know that for me - like many others - photos and Brompton bicycles go very much hand in hand with each other. The photo below was the only one I took.

Our meeting point was on the South Bank of the Thames not too far from the London Eye. Dr John was there before me and I arrived about 23:30. After a quick check of our bikes were off earlier than our scheduled midnight start. This was in many way quite fortuitous.

The night was warm with a gentle breeze and near perfect cycling conditions. After a very busy week at work I had been looking forward to this ride - as had Dr John. There was however a problem.

My youngest Orangette had been sent home with a sports injury - nothing serious but enough to be sent home. I had left home a couple of hour before midnight and while I was on the tube Mrs Orange decided to take our Orangette to A & E as a precaution as she was worried. When Dr John and I set off I told him about this and said that I may have to stop and make/take the odd call. Not a problem.

We progressed well. The ride really hadn't got started but it had all the prospects of being a really love nights riding. As we approached Balham I rang Mrs Orange to get an update. It was that there would be over a five hour wait. (It actually turned out to be a great deal longer)! Turning to Dr John I had to tell him that I would have to bail and return home.

We looked at our options. It was 0:33 in the a.m. and our choices were pretty stark. Nothing seemed reachable in time but Dr John spotted a train leaving Euston that would be perfect for both of us, leaving in about an hour - assuming we could get there!

Putting Euston Station into my Wahoo we set off. We had about 10 miles to cover. Now ten miles in an hour was doable, but we knew that when we hit the Clapham area there would be clubbers and lots of traffic that would slow us down. As we peddled hard to make our train, the traffic we predicted was there. Traffic lights almost conspired with each other and as they turned red, I fancy I could almost hear mocking laughter.

The route was a good one and tried where possible to take us on quiet roads but I did make a few wrong turns which slowed us down a little. Knowing we were close we made a last desperate effort and rolled into Euston at 0:29 a.m. We had made it by the skin our teeth.

The train journey was interesting. There were lots of people worse for wear, only too happy to engage in polite conversation. After three stops - I think - I got off and said my goodbyes to Dr John who had a stop of two to go. With about another 4-5 miles to get home I pressed on.

Youngest Orangette rolled in at about 06:00 a.m. and straight to bed, sore but okay. As soon as my head hit the pillow I was out for the count.

I have written before that owning a Brompton has allowed me to meet lots of great people, many of whom have become dear friends. Dr John is very much one of them. We sadly didn't have the adventure we planned this time and from him there were no complaints, only support. A true and valued loyal friend. I feel very lucky.

Two weeks today we embark on the Dunwich Dynamo. This really will be an epic adventure and despite not getting in this last little nocturnal dress rehearsal, I am sure we will both be okay.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Possible changes to Royal Parks through motor traffic

The Royal Parks looks after several of the best loved green spaces in and around London. A strategy discussion paper launched early this month puts froward seven draft movement principals on which you can give your feedback.

The Royal Parks are some of the most famous in London and include: Kensington Gardens; Green Park; St. James' Park; Hyde Park; Regents Park; Richmond Park; Greenwich Park and Bushy Park.

Richmond Park

Greenwich Park

The seven draft movement principals are:
  1. We will protect and conserve our parks' special qualities.
  2.  Our parks are for people.
  3. We will encourage the use of more sustainable ways to access our parks.
  4. Our park roads are not intended to be commuter through routes for motor vehicles.
  5. We will make evidence-based decisions.
  6. We will be proactive in our approach to future transport challenges and opportunities.
  7. We will be proactive in our approach to the future transport challenges and opportunities.

Of these #4  rises to the surface for me. If you have ever been to Richmond Park and to some extend Regents Park in rush hour, you can see lots and lots of cars using it as a cut-through to somewhere else. They certainly aren't visiting the park. 

Not sure what the implications of #4 would be in the long-term or whether vehicle traffic would be restricted in some way or the other but it would certainly make cycling, jogging or walking in these parks more pleasant. 

You can comment on this by clicking on the link below and you'll have until July 14th to do so.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Take care when cycling on your Brompton in Richmond Park!

I have taken my Brompton for a few circuits of Richmond Park more times than I can remember over the years. On almost every occasion I have spotted the deer that live there. I have always tried to repress shouting out 'Fenton!' at the top of my vocie when I have seen some Red Deer there - look up 'Fenton Richmond Park' and you'll understand why. It does seem that I will have to keep an every watchful eye out from now on!

Last month, a former Olympic triathlete shattered his pelvis after a deer collided with him as he cycled down Broomfield Hill. Poor Stuart Hayes flew off his bicycle after the collision, smashing his hip, having to undergo surgery.

I will him well, hope that he makes a speedy recovery and is back on his bike again in the near future. I hope that my future encounters with deer at Richmond Park continue to be what they always have been - deer not too far away, walking slowly across the road and providing plenty of notice!

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Plans for a new cycle and walking bridge across the River Thames halted

Sadly, it was recently announced that a proposed cycling and walking bridge crossing the River Thames between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf have been abandoned.

It looks as if the costs - getting on for £600 million - have meant the bridge was not feasible. Understandable as that is a a great deal of money but it is a real shame as it is a lovely part of London and would have surely enhanced the area surrounding it.

I am certain that if it had been built you would have seen lots of Brompton photographs on all forms of social media posted by the many London Brompton owners that do that sort of thing.

How far can you cycle on a Brompton?

This question is one I have been asked quite a few times. As I was asked this very question by another cyclist (on a road bike) at a set of traffic lights on High Street Kensington yesterday evening, it got me thinking.

In short, for me at least, I don't really know the answer to this question! Now I know that this is probably not what you want to read and thought I would have a full and detailed answer...but I do not.

The furthest distance I have ever cycled on my Brompton was a few years ago when taking part in the Dunwich Dynamo (which incidentally is only a few weeks away, with yours truly taking part). For this if I added the milage cycling to the start and then cycling home at the end - as well as the milage of the Dunwich Dynamo - I clocked up a few yards shy of 150 miles. Thinking hard, I don't think I have cycled further. For this particular event this was the limit for me but I remember taking part in the 100 mile St. Crispin's Day night ride thinking that I had many more miles left in the tank.

My night rides to the coast are typically 60-70 miles and these I can complete quite comfortably. Could I break the 150 mile barrier? Probably, but I would wonder why? I'll come back to this later.

There are lots of Brompton riders out there who cover huge distances. For example, James H took part in the gruelling 2500km 'Atlantic Way Race.' Roger Seaton participated in the Transcontinental Race. Lots of other Brompton riders have taken part in audax rides of 300km. I think, how far you  can cycle on a Brompton is down to the rider and how far they are willing to pedal.

Coming back to yours truly, could I break the 150 mile barrier? If the route wasn't constantly demanding I suspect I could. Saying that I don't think that I would want to. I really enjoy cycling distances up to 100 miles and breaking the 100 mile barrier now and then but even on a road bike, I am not sure I'd want to be in the saddle for the the several hours needed to cover 150 or 200 miles.

The wonderful thing about owning a Brompton is that many underestimate it. They regard it as a quirky commuter bicycle and little more. Lots of Brompton owners - and yes I am very guilty of this - actively look for routes, rides, cycling events that are more geared towards road bikes. Consequently, when rocking up to an event where everyone is cycling a specific distance, in others peoples minds it sometimes makes them wonder whether or not the person on a Brompton is at the correct event. The question, how far can you cycle on a Brompton is one that does crop up.

So at the traffic lights on High Street Kensington, when I answered the question with: London to Brighton, London to Whitstable, the Dunwich Dynamo...I was met with an incredulous look. I fancy that this was magnified further when the lights turned green and I was off a great deal faster than he was able to muster. Brompton bikes are very good at accelerating off the lights, but that is perhaps another blog post...

London to Brighton

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Car-free day in London for September

Today is Clean Air Day and to mark this the Mayor of London  announced a car-free day for London to tackle air pollution.

On Sunday 22nd September, London will be able to enjoy its biggest ever car-free day in an effort to raise awareness of the downsides of toxic air and try to encourage Londoners to venture out without the use of a car.

The 22nd September looks set to be a day of celebration with lots going on including walks, treasures hunts and live music events. In all over 12 miles of  streets will be closed in Central London.

For me this is a great idea and I look forward to the prospect of some traffic-free cycling - whatever the weather. I do appreciate that to many this will be a major pain however being such an important issue it might help us pause for thought and consider what state we are leaving the planet for future generations.

Shimano PD-T400L SPD Pedals

I have been using SPD clipless pedals on all of my bicycles for several years now to the extent that I am so used to them I doubt if I could ever use anything else. For me there are few downsides with SPD pedals but their only Achilles heel might be the fact that they few have reflectors - a legal requirement here in the UK.

The Shimano PD-T400L is an a clipless pedal like many of the others I have on my bikes - in that it has a double sided entry, tension adjustor for how tight you want to be clipped in - but is also has a plastic cage on which reflectors are integrated.

Along with the pedals you get a pair fo 5M-SH56 cleats and the pedals weigh in at about 500g for the pair. There isn't really a huge difference in weigh between these and other Shimano SPD pedals I use.

One benefit from these pedals - apart from the built in reflectors - is that you can use the pedals with normal shoes or trainers if needed. I don't think that this is something advertised on the tin as it were however you can. I have used them quite happily with trainers and smart work shoes.

These pedals aren't for everyone and most cyclists using clipped in pedals riding at night do not have reflectors on their pedals. I do wonder whether the law needs tweaking for this reason - there are so many other reflective bits on cycle gear. At the moment I have a pair of these on both my Brompton bicycles and I plan to definitely get a their set to go on my Surly Disc Trucker. I do lots of night rides and just like the idea of the extra bit of reflection

They retail at £39.00 but shop around and you can probably pick them up for the £25 mark.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Choosing my wave for the Ride46

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from the people at RideLondon telling me that I could choose the wave I would like to ride in. After forgetting to do this initially I decided that it would probably be best to get this done.

When I logged in I found that  you could choose to ride in the same wave as family or friends already entered into the event - a nice touch.

I choose the individual wave. I don't know anyone - as of yet - who also got into the Ride46 but I always seem to bump into someone I know.

The RideLondon people have been sending lots of emails that are pretty helpful. They include how to fix a puncture and training tips. With a ride length of only 46 miles I won't really need too much training, other than what I am already doing, but they are a good idea.

Since finding out that I gained a place in the Ride46 it has been put to the back of my mind in many ways. The Dunwich Dynamo looms and I feel I need to get ready for that more than anything else. Still, choosing the wave has certainly brought it back in my consciousness and I do look forward to it and the chance to ride around on 4th August on traffic-free roads.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

5 reasons why owning a Brompton is different to any other bicycle!

Brompton owners - in my experience - are a different breed of cyclist. Even though many also own other types of bikes - road, mountain, hybrid - the fact they own a Brompton often makes them different. I'll try and explain why.

#1 Colour

Many riders kit themselves out in cycling gear and accessories that go with their bicycles. Nothing special there. Many Brompton owners however take this to another level. The choice of colour for many is a very important and personal thing and as such when buying cycling gear it must be of a certain colour that compliments their Brompton.  I know some Brompton riders who are actually...ahem...know by the colour of their Brompton!!

#2 You're one of us now!

If you go to Richmond Park on a Saturday or Sunday morning you'll see roadies cycling around happily together in friendship groups. The bikes they ride will almost certainly be different brands. Brompton riders across the world seem to find each other and ride together in groups - sometimes very large groups. Many are members of Brompton specific clubs. I cannot think of other bicycle groups that have so many people across the world doing just this?

#3 Racing

Brompton ownership allows the user to enter the fabled 'Brompton World Championships' which now appears in several countries across the world. There are many bike races and and events happening all the time  but I doubt whether you would be able to find up to 550 riders of certain bike brands to rock up to an event in the same way.

#4 Customisation 

Many people buy a Brompton bicycle and do nothing to it. There is nothing wrong with this as any Brompton - whatever the spec you choose - is a bicycle for a specific purpose which is to ride, fold and take anywhere. There are of course thousands of people out there who have customised their Brompton in some way or the other. For some this is very subtle, while for others it is much, much more. Again, I cannot think of a another bicycle brand where so many of its users do this in such large numbers and with such enthusiasm.

#5 You did what!!!?

A night ride to the coast of 65 miles, 100km audax, sportive, race, Dunwich Dynamo...isn't really that big a deal if done on your ultra lightweight carbon road bike with copious gearing. However, done on a Brompton and it all takes on a much more epic dynamic!  100 miles on a road bike is of course demanding and deserves a certain amount of kudos but do the same on a Brompton and it becomes something more special (perhaps as a road bike can cover a distance quicker and with less effort). Many Brompton riders sign up for events that are geared towards road bikes and by doing so know it will be special, that it will be an achievement. The reaction from other participants (not on a road bike) ranges from amusement, scorn, bewilderment to disbelief and many Brompton riders hear 'you did what!!!? after recalling what they did at the weekend.