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...







Thursday, 25 July 2019

Hiplok Z Lok Combo for my Brompton

When I was at the excellent 'Look Mum No Hands' this morning in addition to tucking in to their Eggs Benedict I saw that they sold the Hiplok Z Lok Combo. I had been after one of these for ages but hadn't got round to it so before I left I bought one.





I like ultra lightweight locks and Hiplok seem to be the ones I like the best. CLICK HERE for my review of the other lock I have from Hiplok.

The great thing about a Brompton is that you fold and take it with you. For me personally I would never lock it up somewhere and leave it. As such I have not felt the need to invest in one of those gold standard type locks - that tend to weigh a huge amount!

The sort of thing I use a lock for is to secure my Brompton to a luggage rack on a train - still with me sitting less than a metre away and watching it all the time - if I am enjoying a cup to tea or coffee at somewhere or for attaching things to bike in some way. This lock is a little like a cable tie and I can see lots of practical uses for it in this capacity.

The Hiplok Z Combo is not a lock that is going to win any awards for being able to stop someone walking away with your bike, but it isn't meant to be. It does have a steel core, 3 digit combination (so you don't have to carry a key), has a locking length of 430mm and weighs next to nothing at 80g.





I can see this lock coming in very handy and for its intended purpose it is very good. If you leave your Brompton locked up somewhere (I wonder why you would though) don't buy this! If like me you want to use it as a cafe lock or strong cable tie, it is quite excellent. Shop around and you can get these for anything between £15 - £20.


Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Back again to thoughts on the Brompton World Championships

For me you can forget all that cycling stuff that is going on in France at the moment. The premier cycling event - for me at least - is the Brompton World Championships. It is a wonderful event, however it does - for some - seem to be a chance for an annual whinge.

It is around this time of year I start to get the odd email (to my shame I don't look at them half as often as I should) bemoaning the following which is in no particular order:

  1. The Blenheim event was better 
  2. The Goodwood event was better
  3. Both Blenheim and Goodwood were more family-type events
  4. Both Blenheim and Goodwood allowed more people to enter
  5. I've tried for the last few years and haven't got in
  6. The London race is not for the average Brompton user
  7. Brompton only care about selling bikes
  8. Too many people from abroad are allowed to enter
  9. Too many Brompton staff are allowed to participate in the event and these spaces should go to the ballot
  10. It will not be full capacity and I could have entered if there was a better way of managing this.

I have no intention of addressing each and every one of these, as I have written about this before. However, I will comment on a few.

#2 
Always makes me laugh as when it was announced that Blenheim was being ditched in favour of Goodwood, loads of people moaned about that!


#5 
So have I and several of my friends! I think the last one I took part in was 2015. 


#6 
Mrs Orange and the Orangettes would say that I am an average Brompton user but that did not stop me from dreaming of winning. Who doesn't want to go a little faster than usual on a closed road circuit that is the Brompton World Championships?!


#7 
This always induces incredulity! What are Brompton meant to do? They make bikes. They sell bikes and hope to turn a profit and keep going. On the whole they look after their customers but I really do wonder what people expect?


#8 
Seriously!?


#9 
It must take a great deal of work to put on an event like this and still make and sell bikes. If I worked for Brompton and was told I couldn't enter, I wouldn't be pleased. Anyway it isn't as if half the field consist of Brompton staff.


#10 
There is always going to be people who pay and say they are coming and don't.

If you got in and are racing, well done, best of luck. You'll love it!! (Makes sure you practice the unfold).  If you didn't get it and are living in the past thinking it was better, it might be time to move on. The Brompton World Championships is once a year you have 364 other days to enjoy your Brompton. I didn't get in either but I know that at some point in August I will be up at stupid o'clock to have a go on the Brompton World Championship course. 






Monday, 22 July 2019

Brompton B75 Review

Fellow Brompton enthusiast and rider Simon bought a Brompton B75 a few months ago and asked whether I would be interested in him writing a guest blog post. Simon previously did the same when he reviewed the Brompton Electric CLICK HERE, so naturally I said yes. Below are Simon's words and photos. Many thanks to Simon for doing this. It is a great review.  


For over 40 years, Brompton has made the same type of bicycle and kept the customers returning through a combination of incremental improvements and limited editions. Improvements to the brakes and gears are all welcome, but with these there has been a steady increase in weight and cost.


So what is the new B75?







It is the latest special edition made by Brompton and it has been made to a price to make the bicycle more accessible. It also comes with a finance package to spread the cost out further. To keep the cost down, it uses older parts, comes in one colour, and has no default options like mudguards. There is no front carrier block so you will have to buy one to allow you to fit Brompton's excellent luggage system.





In summary, it puts back the clock in terms of price and functionality
So what does it look like? 
Let's talk about the colour. I love it and it was one of the reasons why I bought the bike. I would say that you have to see it in the flesh as it is a subtle combination of blue and green. It is a really hard colour to photograph, even Brompton’s own publicity photographs and videos show different shades.





It is currently a contemporary colour and if you look around you will see lots of graphics and adverts in that shade. The colour alone could be a reason to buy. It was for me! 
So how about the bike? 
It works, it cycles! It is still a Brompton, folds the same, rides the same, and whilst it just does not feel quite so good, it still gets you from a to b. It can still act as your faithful companion, opening up new opportunities for travel. To me this is the key part of Brompton ownership, what new places can you go? Getting to your destination is easier and faster, all powered by yourself with no additional costs! 
The things that they have changed are a non folding pedal, no mudguards, and old style brakes, gear shifter and handlebars. The saddle has also been cost reduced but is still, well a bike saddle, and of equal comfort to the standard one.





Depending on how you use the bike, you might not miss those features, but do you really need them? 
The folding pedal is essential if you commute. When the pedal is folded it does not stick out, and makes the bike easier to carry, takes up less space on the train, and if you put the bike in your car boot, makes it lie flat. 




A folding left hand pedal and the matching right hand pair cost £45, or you can get something from MKS for slightly less. 
On the subject of commuting, there are no mudguards. Whilst fine for summer, commuting on a mudguard-less Brompton during winter is not fun. Even if it is dry, muck from the road gets kicked up covering you and your bike. It was interesting to note that in Brompton’s own publicity video they say “get an Uber when it rains”,  but in the long run buying some mudguards are cheaper, even at £65.
So the price of the bike is creeping up to £860 but now you have a bike that can be used all year round.
The final essential suggestion for upgrading are the brake levers. If you commute on the flat, the standard ones are fine, however by changing them to the more modern metal levers you dramatically improve the feel and efficiency. Stopping and responsiveness are just better. These cost £40. The pads and callipers are fine, it is just that squeezing metal rather than plastic gives a better response
So we are now at £900. Yes the price has crept up, but the bike is now usable year round, is smaller to fold, can be taken more places and is nicer to ride. Despite spending more on top of the basic price, it is still cheaper than buying a regular Brompton which costs £1025!
There is more you can do, for example change the handlebars for a lower sportier position or replace the back wheel and make it a six speed. Swapping the seat-post to titanium and getting a lighter saddle is a good way of saving some weight as well. But now we are talking about one of the key aspects of Brompton ownership. It is up to you to decide what you want to do. Every Brompton is different, customised by their owners to their particular needs. 





For example, my B75 has a lightweight BWR wheelset, Kojaks, folding pedals, front luggage block, low straight bars, carbon bar ends, white grips, Ti seat post, Fizik racing saddle. Still a B75, just….. ;) 
In summary 
The true genius of Andrew Ritchie's original design and Brompton Bicycles subsequent refinements and marketing are that one design can meet many needs - from commuting to touring. By creating a basic bare bike as a low cost entry point, not only has Brompton widened the accessibility of its product but also created a great starting point for customising the bike to your specific needs. It gets a definite buy from me either as a first Brompton to get you started or as a second bike to adapt to your needs. Did I say I love the colour!



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. 



Finchingfield


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.