Sunday, 19 January 2020

I've sort of gone off Rapha cycling gear when riding my Brompton

Over the years I have bought a few items of Rapha cycling gear but in recent times - like the blog title states - I have sort of gone off it. I'll explain why.

Rapha clothing is definitely a celebration of road bike cycling, with the entire range geared towards that genre of cycling. I suppose it was this very association that drew me to buying a few items from Rapha in the first place. I sometimes participate in events that are firmly geared towards the road bike. Imagine a chap turning up on a Brompton who also sports a few items of Rapha clothing. Apart from the semi-attention seeking nature of this, there is a little bit of a two-fingered salute to the roadie who tuts at the thought of non-carbon gate thrashing one of 'their events.'

If you ever go to Richmond Park early on a Saturday / Sunday morning (I am sure that you have your equivalent location wherever you live) you will encounter the best and worst type of roadie. The latter is a selfish bore, glad head to toe in Rapha, sitting on an ultra-expensive road bike who thinks that by virtue of expensive gear they are but a step away from a professional cyclist!

Having a look at the prices of Rapha gear this is the obvious elephant in the room. Even at sale prices with large percentages off, I just don't think their stuff is worth it. Yes the quality is there, they last well and they can withstand several washes however price is a factor. I keep coming back to the notion I can get better for less.

I suppose for me what it comes down to is the overall look, vibe or whatever you want to call it of having that Rapha label - as discrete as it often is. For me it is something I don't aspire to. I have not really been into cars but have strayed away from certain brands purely based on my perceived image of the type of driver that purchases such a make of car.

Wear whatever you want on your Brompton or road bike says I but for me I won't be rushing into the Rapha shop on Brewer Street in London or clicking online to buy anything else.

Your thoughts on this would be welcome in the comments section.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Orange Brompton to the Dunwich Dynamo 2020!

You might already know from several of my blog posts that I like nocturnal bike rides. I keep writing that 'there is something about them!' Well there really is and I still cannot really explain what that 'something' is to people who think it is beyond crazy to cycle through the night with no sleep. I do however have a bit of a love/hate thing going on with the Dunwich Dynamo.

At some point during Christmas I saw that the early bird coach tickets were on sale. Thinking long and hard about this, I bought one.

Last year was probably the most enjoyable Dynamo - perhaps as I decided to take the advice of Geoff and Mark (King of the Hill) and set off a little earlier. I rode the 2019 Dynamo, with the gentleman that is Geoff and that early start made things better for me.

This year I do not really know whether I will have any other riding companions. I hope that Geoff rides again this year (I think it will his 8th) as one a few occasions I don't think I could have competed it without him. I am very pleased that my dear friend,  Dr John has bought a ticket and will hopefully be able to go but it may well be me riding solo. This I find quite daunting for a ride of over 100 miles. Of course with so many other riders taking part you are never truly on your own however I am sure you know what I mean.

As the title of this blog post suggests, I will be riding on one one my Brompton bicycles. I haven't decided which will go - it's far to early for that - but I feel my Orange Flame Lacquer should really go as it hasn't been before. One certainty is that I will not be riding on big wheels. The prospect of putting my bike into a separate coach doesn't do it for me. Besides, I haven't used big wheels in anger for some time - the Brompton is just so much more convenient and dare I fun.

There are a few rides coming up in the not too distant future and I really must start to get out and put in the miles!!

I have posted links blog posts on the four times I have done the Dun Run if you want to get an idea of what these are like.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Video of Christmas Ride with the Night Ride to the Coast Peeps

To go with the photos I also too a little bit of video for the Christmas Ride with the Night Ride to the Coast Peeps.

Watch in the best quality you dare. It is available in 4K to those that have it.

Link to video

Christmas Ride with the Night Ride to the Coast Peeps

The Night Ride to the Coast peep normally meet on Fridays, at night and ride to the coast. Their Christmas ride was on Sunday, 29th December 2019, during the day and around London - so a little different. The meeting point was the usual one near the London Eye and it was a great way to work off some festive indulgence.

The ride leader was the all round good egg, Bob and after a quick ride briefing we were off for a London scientific themed ride.

I decided to take my Orange Flame Lacquer with me and there were many familiar faces - too many to mention - but Jenny and Simon were there on their Brompton bikes and Geoff (also on his Flame Lacquer) and his son.

We set off at conversational pace and people generally chatted away to each other, catching up on gossip, what people had been up to and what 2020 had to offer in terms of the highly additive night rides.

On Waterloo Place I spotted a Christmas tree kitted with coppery-orange baubles. I had to get over there and take a picture. In doing so I almost fell into a pothole so large I would have needed a miners lamp and a canary for good measure! The thing the Brompton user does for that photo opportunity!

Our first stop was Jermyn Street where Sir Isaac Newton - who did lots with the laws of gravity - lived while he was President of the Royal Society up the road.

As we waited for others to catch up and for Bob to give us his spiel, I realised that I was in fact standing with the Blue Plaque directly behind me. I had been oblivious to it until he pointed at it!

The Royal Institute was next. Founded in 1799 it has been in Albemarle Street for years and I recall going there for one of its famous Christmas lectures when studying O-level biology.

Our route was a good one and took in lots of the good bits of London. I particularly enjoyed cycling down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace and speculated whether anyone - you know who I mean - might just be peaking out from a net curtain and saying, 'oh look it's a Brompton!'

At Danvers Street in Chelsea we saw the house that was once occupied by discoverer of penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming. As we heard about this, assembled on mass, a lady peered out of an upstairs window opposite, with a bemused look on her face.

As with the usual night rides to the coast there were a vast array of bicycles out in force. Brompton, mountain, hybrid, road, electric, cross, recumbent - just about every type going. 

In South Kensington I was in very familiar territory and we stopped at Imperial College. Established in 1907 it has become a world renowned place of study and research. It was also the location where the rock group 'Queen' gave their first performance on 18th July 1970.

Part of the route took us along the Grand Union Canal near Paddington and we stopped at St Mary's hospital nearby, founded in 1845. This was the hospital both my parents spend their final moments and the ride was on some levels a trip down memory lane. Apart from this location, we passed the house where my sister was born, the house my parents first lived in after getting married, the last house they lived in and the school I used to go to as a very small child! I suppose if you have lived in London long enough this is bound to happen.

One location I passed quite frequently in my youth was Warrington Crescent. I was oblivious to the fact that the great Alan Turing - famed for being a code breaker at Bletchley Park and pioneer of computer science - was born there!

No far away from this was the lovely and very familiar sight of London Zoo. I cannot count how many times I have been there and even passing it brings a smile to my face. Opened in 1828 it was originally intended as a location for scientific study and it still goes on to this very day.

At the BBC buildings near Langham Place those with a Brompton could not resist the photo opportunity for a 'W1A' moment!

At 94 Great Portland Street we passed the building, David Edward Hughes lived in. He was the inventor of the microphone but I am shamed to say I had not heard of him before.

Our last stop was the Blue Plaque on the site of the Biological Sciences Building, University College London on Gower Street. Charles Darwin lived in a house on this site between 1838 - 1842.

This was a lovely way to spend the afternoon and with the ride over I said my goodbyes. Many thanks to Bob for a lovely route and interesting commentary. I cycled back the few miles quite happily and my thoughts were dominated with what adventures lay ahead in the year to come, especially sharing the road with many of the fine people who were out in force today...

Monday, 6 January 2020

Brompton New Year's Day Video

A short video that hopefully captures the essence of our recent New Year's Day ride.

Watch in the highest quality you dare. (Shot in 4K so you can get it in this depending on your browser).

Link to video

Friday, 3 January 2020

Nostalgic Brompton New Year's Day Ride

New Year's Day was to proved to be a rather nostalgic one as far as riding my Brompton was concerned. A club ride had been set and there were even two meet locations - King's Cross and Richmond.

Always an early riser I decided to get up and cycle the 16+ miles to King's Cross to meet Jenny and a few others there for 10:00. The plan was for us to then cycle to Richmond Station where we would meet the larger group at noon.

King's Cross

Our route to Richmond was lovely, taking us through central London getting busy for the Lord Mayor's Parade later that day.

Our pace was sedate and conversational and I caught up with lots of cycling gossip from Jenny. After over 13+ miles we rolled into the familiar territory of Richmond.

Jenny leading the way

The meeting point was the Costa Coffee near the station. I cannot tell you how many Brompton adventures and friendships have been made at this location. Instantly my mind was cast back to early Saturday mornings when we used to head off to all sorts. Lots of us headed inside for a hot drink and and snack while waiting for other participants to arrive.

There were so many old faces, Brian who loves on a canal boat with his cat Fabby, who in the past has been on all sorts of adventures, some where his rear wheel was basically falling apart. The always stylish Zoom Zoom who I was very pleased to see again. The gentleman that is Andy, who I last saw when finishing the Evans Cycles West London Sportive last year. Chris and her new arrival in the form of Daisy who was riding on a seat propelled by her dad Jack. Of course there was also Anne and David who I always love seeing.

Memory Lane!

Chris showing she still has it

Out route was 16 miles and took us out from Richmond along the River Thames past Twickenham, Kingston upon Thames, Hampton Court, Bushy Park, Teddington and back to Richmond.

Naturally, every so often photos had to be taken - which is what Brompton people do. In fact most of us look for a lovely location, place our bikes in front and take a picture - with the Brompton taking centre stage!!

Photo call - one of many

As I cycled memories occasionally popped into my mind of various locations, adding to the nostalgic nature of this ride.

Hampton Court

Bushey Park


One such memory was when we arrived at Bushy Park. I recall us using the pedestrian gate at almost midnight on our return from an evening adventure from Kew Gardens to Box Hill and back. I made a mental note to do that again when the whether gets better.

Bushy Park was one of our stops and again a few of us bought a drink and snack. I decided upon tea and a Bakewell slice and I have to report they were wonderful!

We arrived at the familiar Richmond Park. We formed a natural little peloton and it was a magnificent sight as we purposefully rode through, still chatting and still smiling.

Nothing like a Brompton peloton!

At Richmond Station we said our goodbyes and made plans for future rides. Thanks to Jenny and David for leading their parts of the ride. It really was a lovely way to start the New Year. Thank you to them and everyone else who attended.

I decided to cycle home from Richmond - another 13+ miles - letting my Wahoo do its magic of guiding me along an interesting but quiet route. I made it home in pretty good time. In all, I clocked up 59 miles. If I had of know it was so close to 60 miles I might have stayed out a little until I had reached it. Still, it's a good start to my 2020 tally.