Tuesday 28 January 2020

Some bling for the Orange Flame Lacquer

You buy a Brompton and you make it your own. You really could go around saying that there are many like it, but this one is mine. This notion of making your Brompton personal to you is definitely a thing.

Along with the Brooks B17 Titanium and copper ended Brooks leather grips I decided to get some copper/golden hinge plates.

I have to say these ones are pretty good. The come with a pair of little springs that allow the plate to push itself out and not turn around.

I don't really go in for huge amount of customisation on my Brompton bikes and prefer more subtle enhancements. These fit the bill rather nicely.

Monday 27 January 2020

Video of Brompton Winter Lights Ride Video

You have hopefully read the blog post and you can now watch a short video that hopefully captures what it is like to ride your Brompton in London in a group.

It has been recorded in 4K so watch at the highest quality you are able.

Link to my video

Sunday 26 January 2020

Brompton Winter Lights Ride

The 'Winter Lights' at Canary Wharf - which runs until 25th January - has become an annual fixture of the the lovely London Brompton peeps. Having attended for a number of years I was pleased that a sizeable group had set last Friday as the day we would attend.

The meeting point was the London Eye and rather than take the car I decided to cycle just over the 18 miles to the start at 18:00. Part of my route took me on the Grand Union Canal and again it proved to be a little bit of a shock to the system! There weren't that many cyclists heading into London but there were loads cycling from it. Many had no lights, wore dark clothing and as such almost invisible - even with my lights blaring ahead.

I made it to the Eye with seconds to spare and my face felt the cold a little more than normal as any breeze enhanced the dentistry work undertaken earlier in the day on an upper molar!

At the meeting point most of the runners and riders were ready for starters orders and there were some familiar faces. Dr John, David, Anne, Zoom Zoom, Jenny and Andrew were there and it was great to see them again. All we needed was Geoff and Mark to have the 'old firm' complete.

After a quick briefing we were off, heading east towards Canary Wharf. The miles flew by as easily as the conversations. We caught up on all the gossip and planned the weeks ahead for more cycling adventures.

Every so often we stopped and took the odd photograph. I decided not to take my big camera with, opting for just my iPhone. Taking photos after dark is challenging but it coped pretty well.

Our route was very familiar territory and hugged the river Thames. With Canary Wharf - with its ever changing skyline - in the distance we knew that it wouldn't be too long before we reached the Winter Lights.

Naturally this was the moment a group photo was taken to prove that we were there.

At Canary Wharf things were busy. People mainly viewed the various installations on foot and again I felt the Brompton provided the perfect way to see whatever you wanted quickly.

First we saw '16 bits' which consisted of a wall of light that pulsed. It was somewhat hypnotic.

The next one was 'Sky on Earth.' This was a cross between a generous bubble bath and something out of a 1970's sci fi movie.

The 'Shish-Ka-Buoy' glowed various colours and was likened to something I cannot commit to this blog by a fellow participant!

The 'Mountain of Light' proved to be a riotous success by the number of people taking selfies next to it and in one case a person attempting to straddle it!!

'Liquid Sound' again proved popular and various pulses of water pumped out the the accompaniment of music that was definitely 'Radio 3.'

I took a photo of the 'Neon Tree' from a distance as it would have meant wheeling my beloved Brompton across grass. Even talk of an orange bra suspended from a tree could not induce me over across said grass.

'Constellations' was another hypnotic installation and the ring of light made made me think of portals or worm holes.

'Affinity' was again very popular with the selfie-taker and reminded me of O-level Chemistry and as such took an instant dislike to it.

The last installation I took a photo of was 'Pools of Light.' This were little plastic balls floating on water. The poor security staff were constantly reminding visitors that they were not to throw, touch or even think that 'Pools of Light' was an interactive installation! I felt sorry for them as they must have been saying the same thing all night and every night!

By this point I had seen all I wanted to see - my tooth was starting to let me know it wanted a hot drink - and I was pleased when David announced we were heading back. Our journey back to Waterloo Station was purposeful. At the Tower of London I said my goodbyes to the front of the Brompton peloton and made my way home.

Many thanks to David and Jenny for leading and acting as Tale End Charlie respectively. It was great to see lots of faces from the past as always wish I could see therm more often. I will hopefully see one of them - my dear friend Dr John - in less than two weeks for the start of several adventures. It will probably mark the start of cycling adventures proper for 2020.

Until then, keep riding and stay safe!

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. 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, it lasts 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, image, 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 in the past I 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...