Saturday, 21 November 2020

Brompton Christmas Lights 2020 - Part I

Earlier in the week Mark (King of the Hill) muted an idea of a Christmas lights ride at some point in the future - something I was already planning for. Mid-week Mark suggested that Friday might be a good bet. It was still lockdown, things would be quiet, the weather wouldn't be too I said yes. 

I parked my car in a posh part of Madia Vale, on the posh drive of a posh house of an old friend. A couple of gentlemen from a private security firm sitting in a small car parked on the road nearby viewed me with great suspicion until my friend and his wife greeted me enthusiastically from the doorway. Exchanging pleasantries from a distance I got myself ready and then headed off.

The meeting point was inside Charring Cross Station. The roads were quiet and inside the station it was all but deserted. Mark was there and we wasted little time in getting ourselves outside and off. 

The start

Our first port of call was the Tate Britain which has been decorated well and had attracted lots of other people who - like us - were taking photos. Despite there being lots of people on bicycles, it was only Mark and I who took a photo of our bikes with the building in the background. I suppose it is a Brompton thing.

Tate Britain

Riding across Vauxhall Bridge I wondered what the security services would have made of us riding across on two brightly coloured Brompton bicycles? I always think that James Bond is missing a trick there. Imagine a Brompton Q Edition!

Tate Britain from the other side of the Thames

Heading towards London Bridge we followed the classic route that our ride leader of old David devised back in 2015! 

The rainfall earlier and the slight drizzle made for lovely reflections and I was rather pleased that my iPhone 11 was able to take pretty good photos in dark conditions. 

Once over Tower Bridge we started to follow the classic Thames Path route that is a particular favourite of mine and many other Brompton rider here in London. 

As always, the Canary Wharf skyline at night is always a lovely sight and makes for wonderful photos (backdrops for ones Brompton)!

The skyline is every changing and new buildings seem to rise frequently altering the view you are familiar with. 

As we cycled through Canary Wharf, memories of the 'Winter Lights' ride came into view. This was one of the last group rides of 2020 where a sizeable amount of London Brompton riders came out in force for a sociable ride together. 

Some of the lights from the 'Winter Lights' lingered and the tree and light benches were a welcome sight. Naturally, I was drawn to the only one that glowed a certain colour, taking several photos.

The old Greenwich Naval College in the distance

Having cycled along the Thames we went under it too by ascending to the Greenwich foot tunnel. We had the tunnel pretty much to ourselves and it provided another wonderful photo opportunity. 

The Cutty Sark looked wonderful and with more photos taken we headed back into central London on the south side of the river. 

Reaching the Millennium Footbridge we crossed over to see that St Paul's Cathedral was not lit up. As went over the Thames London yet again looked quite resplendent. It was very quiet and normally there would have been lots of people on both sides of the river and on the footbridge. Apart from us there could not have been more than 2 - 3 others. 

We paid a visit to both Kings Cross and St. Pancreas stations for a tea/coffee but not unsurprisingly nothing was open. We had both brought a snack, so we sat down and had that before setting off again. 

Cycling down Oxford Street it felt like 03:00 on a Wednesday morning rather than almost midnight on a Friday night. There was hardly anyone about. There were groups of people on hire bicycles and I suspect they were taking advantage of the quiet roads to do pretty much what Mark and I were doing. 

The blue arches were back on South Molton Street which I was happy about. As we reached Bond Street it sounded as if there was something rubbing on one of my wheels. Not seeing anything I carried on. When we reached Cavendish Square I discovered that I had a rear wheel puncture no less. The location was rather ironic. More on that further on. 

With Mark holding the bike I had the wheel off and eventually managed to get the tyre off and inner tube out. Closer inspection revealed a whacking great shard of glass that has gone right through the tyre. Using a tyre boot (that was so old it wasn't really that sticky any more) I put it in place and got to the business of putting a new inner tube in and the tyre back on. Eventually I did it but found doing this 'in the field' much more demanding than in the comfort of ones home. 

This was only my second Brompton puncture in ten years so pretty good going. The location. Cavendish Square was the location that I used to chain to the railings my mountain bike and later Brompton when I was at university. 

With the ride all but done I decided that my fairly godmother had spoken and that I should have set off for home before midnight. For me Carnaby Street was my last location. Mark continued to Covent Garden before cycling home. 

It was lovely to catch up with Mark and this was a great way to end a busy week. We caught up on all the gossip and as always had fun riding together. Hopefully we will be able to do something similar - perhaps an all nighter - in December and with a few more riders. But thanks to Mark for the idea and the invite. 

Stay safe out there people!!

Monday, 9 November 2020

Cheap imports after Brexit to spoil the Brompton fun?

A couple of weeks ago a few of the British bike firms that are left, were voicing their concerns that they might not be able to compete with state-subsidised rivals from China if Brexit results in an end to import tariffs.

Bicycles from China have an over 40% tariff place on them as the large state subsidies give firms in China an advantage that isn't exactly cricket.

A Brompton is a premium product and isn't cheap. When I bought mine I could afford it. If there was ever a day when I couldn't, would I buy something cheaper that is probably inferior? Having seen a Brompton copy a few years ago, I am not sure I would be happy to cycle across Hyde Park from South Kensington to Marble Arch let alone the sort of adventures I get up to. I think I would save up for a Brompton instead.

Having only recently bought my second Brompton in August, I have no plans for another at all but I do hope that Brompton can negotiate what will be a rather sticky wicket in the coming months and years!

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Lockdown MKII on an Orange Brompton

Last Thursday saw the start of another national lockdown here in the UK. There are lots of arguments for and against but us mere mortals just have to get on with things I suppose. 

Early this morning I ventured out from near SW7 and for my exercise. I cycled as far as Barnes and stopped off at  Gail's Bakery on Church Road near Barns Hight Street. It is well worth a visit. Glad that I had my Borough front bag, I stocked up on some bread and a few cakes. 

It was my intention to cycle across Hammersmith Bridge but almost immediately realised that it has been closed for some time. There is talk of it taking six years to have it up and running again. Six years!

As I cycled back - it still being quite early - there was lighter traffic than normal and I could see lot and lots of people walking, cycling, jogging...their daily exercise I suppose. The strange thing was that I did not encounter any other people on Brompton bicycles which is something of a novelty nowadays. 

Stay safe out there people!!

Thursday, 29 October 2020

End of the road for the RideLondon in Surrey after 2021

It was fairly obvious to me that the RideLondon events would be cancelled this year. There has been lots going on! It has now been confirmed that Surrey will no longer host the event after 2021.

I completed the Ride46 - once on my Condor road bike and in 2019 on a Brompton. I was to do the Ride100 - on a Brompton - this year, but it wasn't to be. 

There will be lots of reasons why Surrey didn't want the event any more and it wasn't popular with residents. I can actually appreciate why with all the road closures and disruptions. You will see lots of forums in which people complain that it is only one day and they are given a years notice. I wonder what their reaction would be if a similar event was outside their front drive?!

I don't think that there will be any event of this nature in 2021 and as far as I am aware there isn't even a sponsor. The way the world is at the moment, it really is quite insignificant in the big scheme of things. 

Doing an overnight ride with my dear friend Dr John on many levels is a much more enjoyable prospect anyway!

Stay safe out there people.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

London to Cambridge overnight on my Orange Brompton

Friday marked the end of a very long week and Friday itself dragged. The only thing keeping me going was the prospect of a night ride - not to the coast - to Cambridge. 

I decided to take my Titanium Orange Brompton with me for this adventure. There was no prospect of rain (always a deciding factor) but thinking things might get a little chilly I wore one of my 'Proviz' jackets just in case.

The route for this London to Cambridge run looked rather good and being relatively flat I decided not to get the tube in from where I had taken sanctuary. This meant a 15.5 mile cycle to the meeting point outside Euston station. 

My journey to Euston was plain sailing and things definitely seemed a great deal quieter than they should be. Stopping to take a photo of my Brompton in a dark, atmospheric passage was a rather eerie affair as a large crow cawing was just about the only noise that could be heard echoing but not seen.

Somewhere further along I caught sight of someones front garden that was on many levels far more sinister that a Victorian alley. The garden was filled with potted garden ornaments. I took a couple of photographs, initially oblivious to the fact that through the windows a television was on with people watching it, watching me. I pondered on what sort of people would have such a front garden and quickly pedalled on!

Reaching Euston station in good time I made my way to the front entrance. The station itself was almost devoid of people and the only ones I did see were security guards. It was unusually quiet. Waiting for me was our ride leader Nick, along with fellow participants Gordon and Dr John. The others that would have made up our six bailed so it was to be the four of us. 

We set off just before midnight, riding in London streets that were more like 03:00 a.m. on a Monday than just before midnight on a Friday night. It was all rather strange. 

Our route took us through Holloway, Finsbury Park and on to Enfield. The further we cycled the more we started to leave the urban behind. By the time we passed Hoddesdon and Harlow things started to get quieter and street light gave way to the many lumens on our various front lights. 

For several miles I was alone in my own thoughts, getting some (and I hate this word but will use it) headspace.

At one point I really felt the cold and was actually shivering. Pulling up the zips on just about everything that possessed a zip I carried on and only felt better a few miles thereafter. Luckily this feeling did not linger and for the remainder of the ride I did not experience this again. 

We were one of I believe five separate groups most of which followed a slightly different route. A few minutes after we arrived at the service station off the M11 in Bishops Stortford  a small but perfectly formed Brompton contingent arrived. Socially distanced we had a chat while consuming our various items of food and drink. This was at roughly 37 miles in which meant we only had 30 miles remaining. 

After saying our goodbyes we stepped out into a chilly and still dark morning. I put on a snood but didn't really feel the cold and the pedalling helped to keep any feelings in this direction away. 

At 50ish miles we reached the highest point in Cambridgeshire, Little Chishill. This is reached by a long incline that takes one up to St Swithun's parish church. Some of the American readers of my blog are always amazed by the age of some of these buildings I mention in my blog that most people living here wouldn't bat an eyelid at. This church was founded in 1136 with parts of the current building surviving  from1275. In daylight I would imagine that there would be some pretty good views but sadly as it was still dark, we just had to imagine what they might be.

Sunrise is one of the main draws of nocturnal rides. Experiencing the change in light, the dawn chorus from the many unseen birds lining the route and the beauty of the sun emerging from clouds is a joy. This morning was no exception, with the colours being particularly beautiful.

With the back of the ride broken the sight of the 'DNA' path - 10,257 lines of four colours representing the sequence of the BRCA2 gene - meant that Cambridge was but a step away.

At Cambridge station we saw some riders from a different group who beat us to it. Dr John and I said our goodbyes and thanks to Nick and Gordon and we bound the 08:03 train from Liverpool Street. At 09:15 we arrived back in London and shortly after Dr John and I said our goodbyes too. I arrive back home before 10:00 a.m. which I was rather pleased about.

In all I cycled just over 83 miles and as I type this I feel pretty good. My Orange Titanium Brompton was a joy to use and along with my Orange, Black Special Edition I feel I have a wonderful stable of Brompton bikes for many adventures ahead.

Many thanks to Nick for the great route and being our ride leader and to Gordon and Dr John for their company. 

Sadly, this might well be the last night ride of this type for 2020. October does traditionally mark the end of the night rides to the coast anyway, so it will probably be March 2021 before I can experience of the joys of these again. However, this will not stop several more adventures before the year is out.

Stay safe out there people!!

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Orange becomes a stock colour

Back in the day, if you wanted an orange Brompton you had to pay extra. For reasons only know to Brompton HQ, orange was discontinued. It then became a Special, Black Edition, colour and then back to one you paid extra for. It seems that it is now a stock colour. 

Of course, for the moment at least, trying to get hold of any Brompton - if you are in the market for one - is not an easy task. It is a case of best of luck trying to find an Orange one!

There are now lots and lots of orange Brompton bicycles out there but the strange thing is that in certain parts of London I occasionally get the odd person asking me if I am Mr Orange. The label on the bike sort of answers their question I suppose. 

One day I will write about why the colour orange is so important to me but as yet I don't think I have revealed this to even my closest Brompton cycling buddies. 

I am hoping to get out and about on one of my beloved Orange Brompton bikes much more next week and already I look forward to that prospect.

Just a word of thanks to those of you who left a comment on my last blog post and to the many more fo you who sent me an email. Really appreciate it!

Stay safe out there people!

Monday, 19 October 2020

Ten years of 'My Orange Brompton.'

My relationship with Brompton goes back a great deal longer than ten years. When at University a 1989 / 1990 Brompton was gifted to me. I used it all the time and loved it. Back then I even remember chaining it to the railings in Cavendish Square and leaving it for hours. I was eventually to gift it to someone else and didn't buy another until ten years ago. I think that it is true to say that it has certainly been a positive move!

My first Brompton was orange framed with black extremities and I loved it. I cannot tell you how many adventures were made on that bike and the friendships made - that last to this day. 

The original Orange Brompton

I eventually sold it for a P-type, that was closely followed with a titanium number. 

Orange Brompton P-Type

My first Titanium that I didn't get on with!

These were also sold and I am back with two Orange Brompton bikes - one an Orange, Black Special Edition and a fairly new Titanium Orange Brompton - that I am already very fond of. 

Orange, Black Special Edition

Back with another Orange Titanium and this one I like!!

I cannot really think of me getting any more Brompton bikes for some time and think that I have reached the point where I am happy just replacing parts as and when needed, rather than sell and buy new. 

Owning a Brompton has brought me into the heart of an near-near-subcultre of fellow enthusiasts. As I have said it has been nothing but a positive experience for me. I have become fitter, made several friends, been to wonderful locations and embarked upon some adventures, the memories of which will stay with me. 

Owning a Brompton has also been a source of wellbeing. When I need to unwind a quick spin on one of my Brompton bikes generally does there trick. More recently with the 'C' word abound, it has helped to keep me sane. 

I own larger wheeled bicycles that are wonderful in their own way but cannot really compete with a Brompton (especially in Orange) in terms of the smile it puts on your face. 

Some of you out there have been with me on this journey for the full tens years and I am very grateful you have stuck around. Some of you are newer readers but I am equally grateful for your support. 

So, keep reading and spread the word.

Stay safe out there people!!

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Looking forward to the last overnight ride?

This weekend yours truly will be embarking on a night ride. Not to the coast this time but it did get me thinking as to whether this would be the last night ride of 2020?

The weather is starting to get a little chillier of late and I suspect that the ride this weekend could well be the last this year, as much to do with the weather as anything else. However, I did think about the march to Christmas and I will almost certainly do an all night ride in London, taking in the Christmas lights.  I may be able to join some fellow Bromptonians for this ride or get a few roped in. If I can't I will probably do it myself. 

As this week progresses I know that I will be eager to get out for another night ride and look forward to the preparations that seem be a part of these adventures.

Watch this space for a write-up.

Until then, stay safe out there people!!

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Could there be another lockdown to halt Brompton adventures?

Well, the way the wind is blowing it seems as if there may well be another lockdown of one sort or another.

Head in to central London and things are still quiet and less hectic than usual. Some workers in the square mile are still not back at work, with the decision made weeks ago, that they will not be back in their offices until January at the very earliest.

Currently the rule of six means that groups can only ride in...groups of six. This means that there is a mad scramble to try and gain a place on a ride before you are placed on the reserve list - if at all. I have more or less given up trying for these rides and if anything have been doing my own thing. If there is another lockdown I just hope that it doesn't restrict to the 1x form of exercise.

Drop me an email or leave a comment to tell me about what it is like in your part of the world.

Stay safe out there people!!

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Euston Road cycle lane to be removed

The Euston Road in London isn't the most pleasant of avenues at the best of times but it was made much better for London's cyclists by the addition of a pop-up cycle lane. Sadly, it looks as if this is set to go.

During lockdown lots of pop-up cycle lanes appeared as many wanted an alternative to the car, bus and tube. I think they are great but as the numbers of people using cars increases they might well be removed one by one - if not several at a time.

I have always avoided Euston Road as it is horrid to use on a bike however even I used it a few times purely because of the cycle lane.

These pop-up lanes were of course meant to be temporary and I think this one would have gone anyway next year due to work being carried out on the new HS2 railway line.

It is of course a shame and I just hope that they do not get rid of the cycle lane on Park Lane anytime soon...

Stay safe out there people!!

Monday, 5 October 2020

No, I don't want to sell my Brompton

Cycling in London can leave you feeling, only in London. I am sure that this is true of several cities across the globe. An encounter this evening left me with this feeling.

A quick errand which didn't require the car, would take too long on foot was better served by an orange Brompton. On my way back - and yes I managed to avoid the rain - a pedestrian came over to me while stopped at some traffic lights to enquire whether or not my Brompton was for sale. Politely, I informed them that it was not. This did not deter them and they asked again and whether I knew anyone who was selling one. I advised them to try a well known online auction site. 

Thinking our encounter was at an end and willing the traffic lights to turn green they asked what I would sell my bike for if it were for sale. By this time was all but done with niceties and couldn't really be bothered with them any more. As I pedalled on I shouted back that they should google it. Only in London!

Stay safe out there people!!

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Rain and lots of it on a Brompton

The last few days has seen lots and lots of rain. It almost seemed as thought there was a constant supply of it all of Friday, yesterday and today!

I did venture out on one of my Brompton bicycles - the Orange Black Special Edition - and got soaked when I travelled from one end of Hyde Park to another. 

I now have the full sized Borough front bag in addition to its smaller relative and I have to report that it is quite brilliant. I write a post on my thoughts at some point in the near future. I was able to transport all my belongings - some of which were electronic - safely and with confidence, knowing all would be kept dry. 

London still seems to be pretty quiet - especially true the further you travel into to central London - and the rule of six still applies to any social cycle rides. 

I did travel to a rather special location that is just over 4 miles from the Royal Albert Hall and took about 20 minutes to get there on my Brompton. When I took this photo is was rather hard to believe that I was in London and not somewhere in the countryside somewhere. If you want to try and guess where this location is please leave a comment.

Stay safe out there people!! 

Guess where this is?

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Brompton secondhand prices

Getting a new Brompton from a shop at the moment is a little like pushing water up hill. Finding a super light, titanium version is like spotting a unicorn flying over the Royal Albert Hall! The prices on the secondhand market are nothing short of ridiculous at the moment. I wonder what sort of person would part with the vast amount of folding stuff for an old Brompton?!

There have been reports of a few Brompton dealers out there selling some of their stock of Brompton bikes online, perhaps cashing in on the inflated prices. If true it is of course rather naughty and Brompton probably won't like it one little bit.

The trouble is if you want a folder that can get you to work, without having to resort to public transport and you want it to be built like a tank, the Brompton is your first choice. I have seen one poor person with a lesser brand that had snapped in two at the hinge. I won't tell you what they paid for it! 

I have no advice or pearls of wisdom if you want a Brompton. If I were in the market for one, I think I would pay a little over the odds. However, there are some people that are to be blunt, taking the p@#*!!

Stay safe out there people!!

Monday, 7 September 2020

Think carefully when buying your second hand Brompton!

This blog post isn't about taking care with serial numbers, provenance or possible damage when buying a second hand Brompton. No. This is about what sort of Brompton you end up with on a purely superficial and flippant level.

At the weekend I got chatting to a new Brompton owner in SW7 about their new pride and joy. Now I must point out that the person in question was a lovely lady who was very enthusiastic about her new bike. She was only just over 5 feet tall and at first I thought her bicycle was one of those custom Americana-types that resemble a Harley-Davidson (low seating position and very high handlebars)!

This lady had bought an H-type and it must be said was totally wrong for her height. She actually realised this herself and said as much when I spoke to her and I suggested that she could simply fit an S-Bar which would help with this. She was however so keen to get a Brompton that anything would do. I won't tell you what she paid for it but for a 2014 model (I think it was that year) in pretty ropey condition, she was robbed!!

As she cycled past the Albert Memorial, I speculated as to how far she she would be able to cycle as things must have been very uncomfortable?  I just hope that she took my advice on the S-Bar!

Stay safe out there people!!

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Monopoly Board locations - possible Brompton ride

During the height of lockdown I remember looking at an old ride from a few years ago in which we visited the Monopoly board games locations. More recently I have seen that there have been a few rides doing just that.

Over the next few weeks I am going to get a route together that takes in as many of the board locations as possible. As yet I have not decided whether this will be better done at night or early on a Sunday morning. I suspect that the latter might be better as things are pretty quiet in London if you are up early enough. Naturally there will be several photographs to accompany the ride and now that I have written this, early Sunday morning will probably be better.

Stay safe out there people!!

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Larger Brompton group cycling numbers allowed

Up until quite recently the number of riders that could cycle in a group was restricted to just six. From last Thursday this has been increased to 15 people!

In England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland 'Cycling UK' has issued new guidance that allows the number to rise from 6 to 15. This is good news. I have enjoyed some of the rides I have been on with just 5x other riders but that freedom to have more has meant that some were unable to attend.

Hopefully in the near future I will be able to see a Brompton peloton again in all its glory - with more than 5x people in front of me!

Stay safe out there people!!

Saturday, 29 August 2020

Central London still quiet

Take a stroll into central London and things are still pretty quiet. Some of the large city institutions are shut and there are still low numbers of people milling around compared to what it is like normally.

Many office workers in the larger companies have been told that they will not be back in their offices this side of Christmas. One wonders when it will return to some form of normality?

For me personally, if people did start to use public transport in larger numbers, I would still be cycling there and back on one of my Brompton bicycles. It all seems a little chicken and egg at the moment.

Stay safe out there people!!

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Greeting other Brompton riders on your travels

In the early 1990s I was gifted a Brompton. Back then on the few times I saw anyone on another Brompton pass by, it was almost like meeting a long lost relative. There wasn't just a nod of the head or ding of the bell but stopping to chew the fat for a while! Things can be very different today.

There are so many Brompton bike out there. If for example, you were cycling through Hyde Park either end of rush hour - and quire possibly in between - you will see lots of them. Some people ding their bells, others say hello, some nod their heads as they go past and many are either oblivious or don't care about such things.

For me personally it does depend on what I am doing. If it on my commute I rarely acknowledge other Brompton riders. If however it is when I am on one of my Brompton adventures, I do.

If you have a Brompton what do you do?

Stay safe out there people!!

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Wonderful overnighter to Whitstable on my Titanium Orange Brompton

Last Friday was a nocturnal ride to one of my favourite night ride to the coast locations, Whitstable. Many describe this as the Queen of rides and I would have to agree. It is one of my favourites and with only limited places available - due to the 'C' word - I was lucky to get a slot.

I decided to cycle in rather than take the tube and I am glad that I did. There still a breeze in the air - it had been very strong at times throughout the day - but it was much gentler.

Passing the Guards Memorial opposite Horse Guards Parade I stopped to take a photo and pause for thought.

In my formative years I pretty much passed this every day. In fact I would say hello to each of the five soldiers.

The meet point was not too far from the London Eye and the first group of 6x riders were getting themselves read to leave. One of their number was Sam who I had not seen since the last time I did the 'Tweed Run.' She looked well and was like everyone looking forward to the night ahead.

Our group was to leave a short time after. Our leader for the ride was veteran and all round good egg Ross. After a brief safety chat we headed off into a warmish night.

Our progress was swift - perhaps as there was only six of us - and we reached the familiar sight of the Old Vic theatre. On our Brighton rides, Dr John and I normally turn right at this point but se would go straight over.

Ross does lots of London themed rides in addition to leading the odd night ride to the coast and this was evident when we made a quick detour to Mandela Way to see the Russian T-34 tank that resides on the corner of Mandela Way and Page's Walk in Bermondsey. It seems that many years ago a gentleman was unable to gain the necessary planning permission to redevelop the site and decided to put a tank there with the gun turret pointing in the direction of the council buildings. Only in London! It has been a while since I have been there but the tank - which frequently gets repainted - was a totally different colour when I did.

We passed Greenwich and the Cutty Sark in what seemed like next to no time and soon arrived at Woolwich. On the distance the passenger ferry that takes passengers across the river Thames free of charge was illuminated. These are new and I have yet to travel on them. Every time I see them I say that this is something I must do!

The weather was very kind to us and it made for lovely cycling conditions. There was only the faintest of breezes throughout and made the entire experience that more enjoyable.

We stopped briefly the the bus stop on the Kent Fastrack and I could not resist the temptation of propping my bike up against the wire statue and taking a photo!

Not long after this, in fact on the stroke of 03:00 in the a.m. we arrived at Harmer Street with its clock tower striking the hour quite loudly. Sadly the pub called 'The Call Boy' had large wood coverings put up. I would imagine that it is in the process of being redeveloped. It will be interesting to see what it becomes the next time I cycle to Whitstable.

The photos here - if you look very carefully as they were taken in darkness - is of a Russian submarine...yes a submarine. This found its way into private hands and after being moored near the Thames Barrier and later Folkestone, it is now sitting on the River Medway in Rochester. It was formally a museum open to the public but is now in need of some TLC.

Our halfway stop was in Strood in the familiar and very welcome surroundings of the Church of the English Martyrs. Ride to the coast veteran and facilitator of the best halfway stop bar non, Tim, had got up at stupid o'clock to provide us with some lovely refreshments.

Strangely we had somehow beaten the first group to it and they arrived about 15 minutes after we had. Socially distanced on separated seating areas we consumed cheese rolls, tea, flapjacks and quite possibly the best slice of Victoria cake, south of the River Thames!

The first group left before we did and not too long after that so did we. Normally I feel the cold after resuming the cycling after the halfway stop but on this occasion I was perfectly fine, requiring no additional layers.

With dawn on its way the countryside was illuminated in all its glory and things got very picturesque to say the least.

With the sun rising, it was very obligingly casting an orange glow in the distance making just about everyone get out their phones to snap a few photos.

Arriving at Faversham and its rather interesting church with that rather interesting spire, we didn't have too much more to go.

The last left turn towards Gravney Marshes normally means a sprint to the finish for anyone who wants to do this. This time we kept together but upped the pace slightly. The air was fairly still and if anything it was behind us, ever so slightly pushing us along.

We made very good progress and when reaching the last stretch towards the end and breakfast stop, I waved my goodbyes and headed off straight for the station.

I got the first available train and with the carriage more or less to myself settled back until the train rolled in to Victoria. From there I had a few miles more to cycle - as I had vowed not to use the tube to get home.

London to Whitstable was 67.5 miles but with the extra milage I totalled up 104.5 miles, so pretty good.

Another great ride and many thanks to Ross for leading, my fellow participants and Tim for the lovely food stop/refreshments.

There really is something quite addictive about night rides to the coast. In paper many people stare in disbelief at the prospect of me doing these and there is little I can do to convey just how enjoyable they are. Perhaps it is something you have to experience for yourself?

Stay safe our there people!!