Sunday 31 May 2020

Will there be another Brompton World Championships?

I wonder if the the title for this blog post had you worried? The Brompton World Championships is quite simply a wonderful event - the most fun participate in/watch and just a genius idea of mad Brompton-geeks racing their bikes! In recent years it has been massively oversubscribed with only the lucky few gaining a place.

The RideLondon event has of course been cancelled for this August, which means the Ride100 (yours truly was going to do that on an Orange Brompton) and the BWC which was part of it - and in my opinion the best thing about the whole weekend - sadly but understandably will not take place.

Where does this all leave the BWC for 2021 and beyond? Well at the start of the year the event organisers were searching for a new sponsor for the event after the contract with Prudential ended this year. To date I am unaware of any sponsor being appointed.

Almost a year ago the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London announced that the event organisers - London Marathon Events - had been tasked to deliver RideLondon, from 2021 to 2030. Good news.

Will Brompton be there in 2021? I would say that it would seem very unlikely they would give it a miss. Iconic brand, iconic event, iconic location, wonderful marketing opportunities...the list goes on and on. If there is to be an event for 2021 I would find it a surprise if Brompton weren't there. This is of course dependent on the 'C' word behaving itself.

Of course what you have to do now is stroke your lucky rabbits foot, make sure you have a four-leaf clover and start the training!!

Keep safe out there people!!

Saturday 30 May 2020

Orange Brompton goes to the Wimbledon Windmill

I had intended to go to Alexandra Palace this morning but as the sun was shining, I was up early and I fancied something different I decided to head towards the Wimbledon and its Windmill. The last time I paid it a visit was getting on for six years ago on a Brompton group ride with some of the old crowd.

My total milage was bang on 32 miles and my route was somewhat erratic at times - at least it seemed that way. I had to restrict myself to not taking too many photographs however as I had forgotten to take my larger water bottle this was not such as bad thing. Luckily I had a smaller 500 ml one in my saddlebag.

Over a small footbridge adjacent to a railway line running across the Thames, a little dog - one of those little brutes that resembles a fox but is just very small - launched itself at me in a full-bloodied assault! Its owner was more concerned with her phone call than my leg being punctured by several of its horrid little needle-like teeth!! Luckily I survived and 'Charlie' was called off.

The Thames looked lovely and as blue as the skies above it. I had no clue where I was other than I think it might have been Barnes? I have been there many times before, so I should know it I suppose. The little rows of houses and shops on a sunny day like today have always reminded me of the seaside for some reason??

There was a large section of gravel path that made its way to the windmill, requiring careful negotiation I can tell you. A few times I was was wheel spinning but I got there in the end.

The windmill came into view and as soon as I saw it, memories of that winter ride back in 2014 (can it really be that long) came folding back (did you see what I did there).

The windmill dates back to 1817 and is a Grade II listed building. It was a fully working windmill only up until 1864 after which its mechanics were removed to make way for people to live there. It really would be wonderful to see it working. Are there any working windmills in the UK?

After a few photos of my Brompton (and the windmill) I headed back. The former group rides with David at the helm really were the stuff of legend in many ways. You knew what the destination was going to be, but the getting there and back was always an adventure!

The Brompton groups rides still exist but the old crowd only occasionally attend - myself included. What is great is that I am happy to navigate myself - and usually Dr John and occasionally my partner in crime, Bumble B) on my own adventures.

One thing I noticed is that apart from people still queueing outside shops, the roads seems as busy as I remember them from before lockdown.

When I got to 'Charlie's' bridge I stopped to take a photo and saw in the distance Trellick Tower. I made a mental note to one day pay a visit to its counterpart in East London, Balfron Tower where its architect Erno Goldfinger (what a name) moved in to flat 130 on the 25th floor for two months!

Below I have posted a link to the ride I referred to where we visited the windmill back in 2014. Of all the videos I have made it remains one of the most popular.

Stay safe people!!

Link to the Winter Ride video

Friday 29 May 2020

Richmond Park open again to Brompton bicycles (an other bicycles)!

Richmond Park a favourite of Brompton riders (and other cyclists I suppose) far and wide is opening up again to cyclists from Tuesday, 2nd June 2020 after it was suspended due to the lockdown.

For the moment at least this will operate on weekdays only, before 10:00 am and after 4:00 pm. The areas around Broomfiled Hill and Priory Lane will still be out of bounds.

So if you fancy a spin and while the weather is still glorious, you might want to get your Brompton down there. Let's hope that the lycra brigade don't go and spoil things!

Stay safer people!!

Thursday 28 May 2020

Rattling rear Brompton mudguard

On the last few rides I have have noticed a rattling coming from the direction of the rear mudguard on my Orange Black Special Edition. This was evident when I gave both of my Brompton bicycles a good clean the other day.

My first thought was to tighten all the bolts and stays but upon inspection all looked well. There is one part of the rear mudguard that rivets rather than blots and that seemed to be the culprit.

Clicking on to the Brilliant Bikes website (if you are in the UK or perhaps beyond, I do think that they really do live up to their name) I ordered a new rear mudguard for £10.

Fitting a rear mudguard is pretty easy but does require the rear wheel and brake callipers coming off. When I first bought my Brompton, this job would have been near impossible for me to do but over the years I have accumulated enough knowledge to tackle most jobs.

I suspect the old mudguard must have had some sort of knock unbeknownst to me as it became very obvious once it was off just how much play there was. I now have a rattle-free mudguard and normal service has resumed.

Stay safe people!!

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Brompton archaeological adventure - Howard Carter #2

Today it was the second part of my Howard Carter themed ride and a glorious day it was too. With the sun shining down I decided to take my Orange Flame Lacquer as it always seems to catch the sun with its lovely orange-copper lacquer almost changing its intensity depending on the angle you look at it.

The first port of call was to pass another special place to me, the Royal Geographical Society. I cannot think how many times I have stopped for a few moments and looked at the face of the statue of Shackleton over the years. Today was no exception. I wonder what he would make of me starring up at him? He would probably recognise me and say, 'not you again!'


Of course it was all about Howard Carter and just up the road, overlooking the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal College of Music, stands Albert Court. This was where Carter lived for many years right up to his death in 1939.

He lived at number 49 and his apartment was over two floors with the usual five bedrooms, three reception rooms, three bathrooms and a balcony that the good ones had.  The lady I referred to in my previous blog lived on the floors below and from what she said, her one was better.

A friend told me a few years ago that it was actually up for sale for about £10 million so you'd need deep pockets to afford it and the £40,000 a year service charge.

Even back in the 1920's an apartment at Albert Court would have cost a fortune and it does make one wonder how Carter was able to afford it - whether that be renting or owning? I know someone who as a small boy when visiting famous historical sites often sought out a souvenir to take home with him - and I do not mean something from the gift shop. Quite shocking historical vandalism! Some say that Carter might have acquired a few souvenirs of his own from his Egypt days, that found their way on to the open market! Maybe this provides a possible answer?

This is an area of London I know extremely well and normally is would be teaming with tourists being of offloaded from tour buses, taking photos and generally getting in the way of the Brompton user simply trying to get from A to B! When it gets near to the Proms (which like everything else won't be happening this this) it is even worse! Today it was empty and I had the entire place to myself.

Back in Hyde Park, people walked dogs, jogged, cycled, tried to not fall off their electric scooters, pushed prams, spread out on the grass as if they were recently departed and had a stroll. I took photos of my Brompton, while trying to eat a chicken salad baguette I had brought with me.

Stay safe people!!

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Taking care of my Brompton saddles

Today was very much about cleaning my two Brompton bicycles and one job I normally carry out only a couple of times a year is making sure my Brooks saddles are looking good.

Both of my Brompton bicycles have leather B17 Brooks saddles fitted and I have to say, for me personally, I wouldn't have anything else.

One is a Special Edition, with the large copper rivets and titanium rails. It is a wonderful saddle and needed no breaking in at all. (I am convinced that the Special Edition versions are more comfortable out of the box).  The other is a standard black version, which believe me, did need some breaking in.

Like most leather products there is something to apply to keep the leather subtle and at its best. Brooks produce 'Proofide' and it really does do wonders.

First of all it smells rather nice and one tin seems to last an eternity as such a small amount needs to nee applied.

I only apply some Proofide perhaps two or three times a year, only putting on more if I have been on a particularly wet series of rides in short succession.

Special Edition, titanium

Of course I have a set of Brooks leather grips on one bike and some leather Ergon grips on the other, so they also get a little dose of Proofide too.

Standard B17

If you are one of the people who have only recently bought your first Brompton, a Brooks saddle is possibly your first upgrade. (Brompton upgrades really are a rabbit hole)! There are lighter saddles out there but I do think a Brompton looks good with a Brooks fitted. They aren't the lightest saddles - even my titanium frame version - but they really will last for years and it may be that when getting another bike, the Brooks saddle may well be transferred over!!

Stay safe out there people!!

Monday 25 May 2020

Brompton archaeological adventure - Howard Carter #1

Very early this morning, with the sun shining I set off for a cycle ride. As I passed the Royal Albert Hall (more about that location another time)  I was struck by memories that came flooding back of, for me the greatest archeologist bar none, Howard Carter.

Because of this thought in the back of my mind my subsequent route was a rather convoluted one that saw me heading towards Kew Green - and then with my mind made up to go on this adventure - heading towards Putney Vale Cemetery.

The Thames Path leading to East Sheen wasn't too busy - but it was very early. One strange feature of this short journey along the Thames was spotting a least three Kingfishers and what I thought might be a dolphin! Yes you read that correctly! I cannot be certain but it looked like one!

Richmond Park was of course closed to cyclists so I had to circumvent it. After passing through Roehampton - which believe me I was very pleased to pass through quickly - the large wall of Putney Vale Cemetery came in to view.

The Thames Path

The grave of Howard Carter was quite easy to find. If you ever find yourself there, the map of the cemetery layout is easy to navigate and it is grave number 25.

Howard Carter was the archeologist who in November 1922 discovered the intact tomb of the boy king Tutankhamun.  Okay, why is Howard Carter so special to me and why did I bother going there? The reasons go back quite a long way.

In my formative years an elderly lady - who lived not too far away -  actually lived for many years in the same block of flats as the one Howard Carter used to live in. In the early 1970s this lady decided to 'downsize' to a property not too far from where I lived.

I was captivated by her stories of everything to do with Howard Carter and to this day no documentary about Howard Carter or Tutankhamun can hold a candle to the way she recalled it. Ever since I have quite literally eaten up anything to do with Howard Carter.

Despite his great achievements when Howard Carter passed away there wasn't really a great deal of fuss made and the obituaries in the major newspapers at the time still cracked on about the 'curse.' In addition no famous archeologists or curators of museums came to see him off. All a bit of a shame really.

The actual gravestone has definitely been changed at some point in the last 20 or so years as I remember it being a smaller, light-grey, stone memorial.

Also resting at Putney Vale is Bruce Ismay who was the managing director of the White Star Line and the most senior White Star member of staff to survive the sinking of the Titanic. While not quite a draw for me when compared to Howard Carter, I thought as I was there I may as well take a photo.

In all I cycled 36 miles and enjoyed every bit of it. One of the only good thing about lockdown is venturing off to see places that you haven't been to for ages, along very different and varied routes.

Stay safe out there people!!

Sunday 24 May 2020

Bicycle sales skyrocket during lockdown

During lockdown when I have been out and about on my Brompton for my daily exercise or when commuting to and from work, it is fairly obvious that there have been lots and lots of new riders on gleaming bikes. The extent of this however even surprised me.

Web-based shop 'Wiggle' say that UK sales have risen by over 190%. Halfords say that there has been a doubling in the demand for hybrid bikes among other that has seen their share price increase by up to 80%. Here in London, 'Sigma Sports' have seen a 977% increase in the sale of turbo trainers and static bikes!

Naturally Brompton has seen its sales increase fivefold since the start of the lockdown - perhaps helped by their introduction of their home delivery service.

If I didn't own a Brompton and was faced with the prospect of having to use public transport or take the car, as lockdown eases, I would ahem been first in the queue to buy one. I see lots of people on new hybrid, mountain or road bikes who might regret that if and when they consider cycling in to work. The Brompton just does this so much better.

Have you out there bought a new bicycle?

Stay safe out there people!!

Saturday 23 May 2020

Thoughts on the Brompton Blazer struck a chord with some

Yesterday I posted a blog in which I very honestly gave my opinion on the new £385 Brompton Blazer. It would seem that there are several people out there with similar views.

I don't do FaceFriend anymore and never really saw the point of it when I did but a few readers sent me a couple of screenshots of the Brompton Bicycle FaceBook page and some of the comments are less than flattering:

'Stick to the fantastic bikes. These jackets are ugly, square shaped and massively overpriced...'

'I'm not entire comfortable with the notion of Brompton becoming a lifestyle brand. Kind of makes me not want to ride my bike.'

'£385 is an an absolute pisstake!!! More innovation on the bike and less on the lifestyle add-ones please!'

'At the risk of opening up a feminist can of worms why is Brompton lifestyle clothing always targeted at men?'

There were of course some people who said that they liked it however the general theme was not really one where people seemed to be rushing to buy one.

The last quote is very true and I do wonder why half the population is excluded in this type of clothing?

I don't really think that I could be much more of a Brompton fan boy and I can usually be found singing the praises of Brompton bicycles, Brompton the company and what owning a Brompton can do for you wellbeing as well as fitness. However, I did agree with the person in the third quote.

I could be terribly wrong but there has been little in the way of what many people have asked for from Brompton - disc brakes, a lighter bike not costing a fortune, more gears. I remember at the last Brompton World Championships I attended (I doubt I will ever get into another one after this) there was a wall on which you could write down some wishes/suggestions to Brompton. I am almost certain that these appeared on that wall. That was several years ago and none have become a reality. It has been up to Brompton users and specialists to come up with these innovations and surely that is the wrong way round?

It would seem that Brompton have got into the habit of releasing 'Special Edition' bikes in various colours or collaborations with different companies - with bike in various colours. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of evolving the bike. Don't get me wrong, there really isn't a huge amount to improve, such is the genius of the design, but improve it you can.

Some friends have the view that Brompton is going down the lifestyle brand route to justify the cost of the bicycle. Some take the view that Brompton would like to be a luxury brand to justify the cost of the bicycle. I am not sure that I agree with either of these views but I too wish Brompton would focus on the bicycle rather than clothing ranges that no one I know riding a Brompton would be seen dead in. That includes me and on my commute - I am normally wearing a suit!

Stay safe out there people!

Friday 22 May 2020

Thoughts on the Brompton Blazer

Today there was a flurry of emails from Brompton - two identical ones in quick succession - informing me that Brompton were introducing the 'Brompton Blazer' by Oliver Spencer. Roughly an hour later my friend Dr John asked whether I would be seen around SW7 in said blazer.

A few years ago Brompton released a similar product called the 'Brompton Oratory' jacket. At the time I think it retailed for well over £200. Its abiding memory for me was it was just so beige! It was a corduroy affair and for me rendered anyone silly enough to buy it look like a Geography master from the early 1980's - who probably wore it with shorts, leather sandals and socks! The only people I ever saw wearing the Oratory were Brompton employees and even then it transformed them into a Geography master from the early 1980's - who probably wore it with shorts, leather sandals and socks! I didn't buy one.

The 'Brompton Blazer' is at least a better colour being navy blue but even that cannot detract from the fact - to me at least - it just isn't worth the eye watering price tag of £385. Who would wear this on their Brompton and why? I imagine that if the Brompton World Championships had not been cancelled this year, it would have again been Brompton employees.

I suspect the only people who will buy one of these jackets are those from overseas wanting a little piece of British quaintness that has in truth long since gone. The sort of person who probably thinks that Sherlock Holmes was a real person and that Oscar Wilde is still alive and living in a small flat at the top of Selfridges! I won't be buying one!

Stay safe out there people!!

Thursday 21 May 2020

Apple Watch recording rides done on my Orange Brompton

I am a little bit of an Apple fan boy. My fascination with all things Apple goes back several years and I have bought/or been gifted their computers, iPods, iPads and iPhones over the years. The Apple Watch never really did it for me and I didn't see the point of it. Getting a series 3 version last Christmas I genuinely didn't think I would find it useful. Of course things do change.

There are so many features on the Apple Watch I do not use but the ones I put to use are quite frankly excellent.

The first is the various activity trackers. in the lockdown I have done lots and lots of walking as part of my daily exercise and the watch can track heart rate, steps, distance, calories burnt and also produce a map of your route.

The second and perhaps most useful for me is the outdoor cycle tracker. This does all of the above and all the data it spits out at you is all rather good. The GPS tracking that displays your route on a map, logs your distance and speed is surprisingly accurate and not that different to the data produced by my Wahoo. I find myself recording my ride data on my watch.

I have no desire to upgrade my humble series 3 to a newer model and will keep it until it dies. Because there are two other newer versions of the series 3 out there, bargains can be found for the 3. Defiantly worth a look if you want to have a really quick and easy way to get heaps of data and it even tells the time!

Stay safe out there people!!

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Brompton RideLondon 100 cancelled

Today at just after 12:30 pm I received an email, from the charity I was going to ride for, the the RideLondon 100 has been cancelled. Roughly 30 minutes later I got one from the official 'Prudential RideLondon' confirming the same.

I had actually resigned myself to this ages ago and I cannot really understand why not took so long? I suppose it is a huge decision and involves a vast number people and organisations.

It had been my intention to complete it on my Orange Black Special Edition Brompton and under normal circumstances, during the build up to this event I would have completed lots and lots of night rides to the coast and more besides when my friend Dr John and I do a double act and head off to the coast at midnight in-between.

Dr John and I were speaking about this last week and I think we both knew it wasn't going to happen. I have to say that I would not have taken part regardless as for me there would have been far to many people about.

The familiar Ride100 route that has been going strong for a few years now may actually change for the future events - if of course there are future events of this nature.

I have completed the shorter Ride46 event twice, once on my Condor road bike and last year on my Orange Flame Lacquer. I would have liked to have competed the Ride100 on a Brompton and who knows I might be able to in the future.

Of course it also means that the Brompton World Championships will not take part this year either as it is very much part of the whole RideLondon weekend. A shame for all the small wheeled fans too. Hopefully Brompton will get it up again for 2021 - assuming we return to some modicum of normality by then!?

Stay safe out there people!!

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Brompton commute getting busier

The past few days have seen my Brompton commute getting slightly busier but in a slightly less obvious way.

Yes there were a few more cars than there were last week but what noticeable was the amount of cycles out in force. There were loads. Many looked new with the obvious sign of this being seats far too low for the height of the rider.

It is great to see so many new cyclists out and about but I do wish so many weren’t riding on the pavement. What would be great would be for more of the proposed pop up cycle lanes/routes became a reality. They might encourage newer cyclists to leave the perceived safety of the pavement.

I don’t know if there is a shortage of bicycles out there in London as I saw lots of riders in bikes you just wouldn’t expect them to ride. The older 50 something gentleman on a bright purple number with a shopping basket up front. Or the young 20 something on her BMX!

I am just very pleased to be on my Orange Flame Lacquer!

Stay safe out there people.

Monday 18 May 2020

Brompton T-bag is cavernous!

No along after getting my Orange Flame Lacquer Brompton, in addition to a black Mini-O bag I also bought a T-bag so I could carry a bigger load. Today I used it in anger for the first time.

This morning I had a vast amount to take with me to work. I managed to cull a few items but there was still quite a bit to carry. 

What I carried wasn't necessarily heavy - although it did weigh a good few kilos - but it was bulky and I was amazed at how much it could carry.  The other great thing about it is all the little storage pockets all over the place. 

I have a larger orange and black Ortlieb bag that I really like however it cannot compete with the load capacity of the T-bag.

Brompton now have the 'Explore' bag which has replaced the T-bag which if anything is even better. I might have to give that a look.

If you look around as the T-bag is on its way out in favour of the Explore, you might be able to bag a bargain! (Did you see what I did there). 

Hope that you are all keeping well out there wherever in the world you are!

Stay safe people!!!

Sunday 17 May 2020

Does the congestion charge for the Brompton user in London matter?

In order to help fund London's transport system the congestion charge is being brought back from tomorrow under the terms of a Government £1.6 billion bailout of Transport for London, which Mayor Sidiq Khan has agreed. It will also see a rise in price from 22nd June from £11.50 to £15. The hours it operates will be also be extended to between 7am and 10pm. It did occur to me whether this matters to most London Brompton users?

Lots of the rides I go on start and end in central London. I have been doing this on a Brompton for almost 10 years. There have only been a handful of occasions where I have had to take a car and I have either used the tube to get back home or simply cycled back - my preferred method.

I cannot think why anyone would want to drive into the the congestion charge zone for work, unless you have some sort of staff parking. You otherwise run the gauntlet of trying to find a parking space and even if you do, some will cost about £6 per half hour!

The powers that be are saying it's is your civic duty to avoid public transport but for many it really be there only way of getting in to work. 

I imagine that many families will not want to use public transport for some time and the option to drive into London over the weekend to visit museums, art galleries, attend events, go to the theatre, see the sights, go shopping...will be halted somewhat as they won't want to pay the £15. 

I don't think many of my fellow Brompton friends will care too much about all this and will just add the extra miles to and from the start/end location as part of the ride. I know I will!!

Saturday 16 May 2020

Brompton St. John's Wood loop

Today I decided to stick to familiar territory, starting and finishing near St. John's Wood, a location that I lived very close to as a child and up until the point I got married. It is a place that hasn't really changed a huge amount as many of the buildings in the surrounding area cannot be changed a great deal.

I headed towards St. Paul's Cathedral and as I knew the route so well there and back, my Wahoo was simply a means to record the route.

I cycled as far a Tower Bridge and there really wasn't a huge amount of traffic at all. From Monday the Congestion Charge in London goes up to £15 pounds and will soon be charged 7x days week which I would imagine will proved very unpopular by those having to use their cars to enter central London.

I decided to take the Grand Union Canal back as it offered a car-free route almost all the way back to St. John's Wood.

Unlike the awful section I tried to used to get me to Windsor recently that was so terrible I abandoned it, this part of the canal is lovely. Wide enough to pass other users comfortably and with a surface that is very Brompton friendly.

What I didn't bargain for were the number of joggers (I use that term loosely as some simply lolloped about) also using the canal path.

Soon I reached the section where London Zoo can be seen. I didn't see much activity in the large netted aviary but over on the other side of the canal I did see an African Hunting Dog sitting down, watching the world go by.

In all I cycled almost 15 miles - pretty tame really - but still very enjoyable.

Friday 15 May 2020

Civic duty to avoid public transport - take a Brompton?

Yesterday the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps claimed it was your civic duty to avoid public transport, while urging people to go back to work.

Speaking at the daily press conference we have had here in the UK since the 'C'word took hold, he appealed that people should drive or cycle to work to avoid putting pressure on public transport.

In my blog yesterday, I mentioned that I had noticed more cars on the road since Wednesday. I noticed much the same yesterday and today, if anything a little more.

Some poor people really don't have any choice but to use public transport. They might not have a car, live too far away from their place of work to cycle or not own a bicycle. It is easy for me to say I would rather cycle. I could cope with a few miles and sued to London streets in rush hour. Many people have not cycled for years (or not at all) and over the weeks of lockdown I have seem my fair share of new cyclists, who just about coped with almost deserted streets.

It is going to get rather busy out there over the next few weeks. I do think that there is going to be a massive surge in cycling and many more people taking to human powered two-wheel transport. However, I also think that this will go hand in hand with a huge increase in car traffic just about everywhere.

If you are cycling, whether a seasoned old hack or a brand new cyclist, be careful out there!

Stay safe people!

Thursday 14 May 2020

Exercise any amount you want to, on a Brompton

Yesterday the some of the lockdown restrictions were altered to allow unlimited exercise rather than the just one that had been in force for several weeks.

I didn't actually get out on one of my Brompton bikes at all yesterday, however I did see lots of people out and about - more than once - enjoying their cycling. Some were old hands and others new converts.

This is of course great news as there are time where I do want to make more than one journey on one of my Brompton bikes during the day. 

Once thing I won't be doing - like I suspect many of you out there - is folding my Brompton and carrying it on to the tube or a bus. As I have said many times over the last few weeks, I am not  a fan of public transport as I really don't fancy a crowded carriage anytime soon! 

Luckily, getting to my haunts in central London is not a long or onerous journey and if anything more enjoyable. There is one trend I noticed yesterday and today which is car usage is definitely up. Now this could simply be because people can now drive to the the location where they exercise. I do however think that the predictions that people will turn to their cars will come true. To be honest, I cannot blame them if it meant using public transport otherwise. 

Stay safe people!!

Wednesday 13 May 2020

A link between Brompton ownership and cat ownership?

Over the years I have met and become friend with lots of great people. The common bond of owning a small wheeled folding bicycle has been strong. Dig a little deeper and there does seem to be another one too.

I own quite a few cats and I suppose I am a cat person as apposed to a dog person. In fact, if you have been reading my ramblings for a while, you will already know that I don't always see eye to eye with our canine friends!

Lots of the people I know with a Brompton seem to also own a cat - or two - and it occurred to me that there might be a little bit of a thing going on here. So, I thought I would throw this one out there and ask the question, is there a link between Brompton ownership and cat ownership? Leave a comment or email me to let me know. I would be very curious to find out.

Stay safe people!!

Tuesday 12 May 2020

Cleaning my Orange Brompton bicycles

I regularly get ribbed about how clean my Brompton bicycles are and when out in public I didn't want my reputation tarnished. So today I didn't do any cycling at at and instead I set about giving them a really good clean.

I always clean them in the following manner:

  • Hose down with water
  • Clean the chain with a chain tool filled with degreaser
  • Apply one of those muck removal sprays
  • Hot water, sponge and various brushes to get rid of all the muck
  • Hose down with water
  • Dry using kitchen towels
  • Apply dry lube to the chain
I bought a Park Tool work stand years ago and this has served me well. Similar versions are available widely and definitely worth considering. 

I now have two gleaming  Brompton bikes ready for action. 

Stay safe people!

Monday 11 May 2020

Following an idiot while riding my Orange Brompton

My daily exercise consisted of a fairly tame 8ish mile cycle ride today but it was one that proved to be very eventful for all of the wrong reasons.

My route was a simple 4ish miles there and 4ish miles back and it was on the way back that I spotted one of those all black Dutch-style cargo bikes with the wooden box up front. You see these from time to time in central London and today was no exception. This one - you could tell - was brand spanking new and ridden by someone who I wager is a total prat in all walks of life.

The chap in question wasn't wearing a cycling helmet and neither were the two small children sitting up front in the wooden box. Of course there is no requirement to wear a helmet but I merely point it out - you'll see why.

This idiot was on the open road and in my humble opinion hadn't a clue how to ride a bicycle. He weaved this way and that, didn't care about other road users and when he came to a set of lights either cycled straight through them or worse still, moved on to cycle on the pavement. Yes you read that correctly.

I guess you can see where this is going. On one occasion he veered onto a section of pavement far too narrow for his quite large bike with box. A couple who were jogging faced the bicycle head on, with the cyclist (I don't really want to call him a cyclist) in avoiding them crashing into a parked car. The two children weren't hurt too badly luckily but were both crying and shaken by all this.

The joggers remonstrated with the cyclist, who seemed more concerned that his front wheel was buckled, had a burst tyre and was wedged under the rear (and damaged) bumper, than the welfare of his two children! In addition to the joggers a black cabbie got out of his cab to see if the children were okay. I can't say that I was impressed.

From Wednesday onwards where people can go out for more than one form of exercise, if we have idiots like this (who I suspect would be idiots behind the wheel of car too) out and about, heaven help us!!

Stay safe people.

Sunday 10 May 2020

Narrow canal paths...not this this Orange Brompton

This morning I set out quite early with the intention of getting to Windsor. Things didn't really go the way I had planned.

Now, I just point out that I am not really a fan of Windsor. For me it has the castle, the park and that god awful school nearby. Apart from that I - and I wouldn't really care to see / visit any of those - there isn't really a great deal I can say about Windsor, except it is not for me.

So why cycle to Windsor I hear you ask? With lockdown I am keen not to spend hours and hours on the bike. Windsor was a spur of the moment thing with me thinking early this morning, where shall I go that I haven't been to for a while.

Part of my route took me on a section of canal that was so narrow and in such poor condition I rode all of 50 metres and headed straight back.

No! No way!!

The section of the Grand Union Canal from Kensal Green, Ladbroke Gove onwards into Paddington is wonderful. It is wide enough for bikes and people to pass and the surface is very Brompton friendly.

Today did serve another purpose. Part of my initial route was blocked - possibly due to the 'C' word and I turned on for the first time the re-routing function of my Wahoo. When I used to have a Garmin this was so terrible to try and use I turned it off. I have to report that the Wahoo's efforts are just so much better. A blue set of chevrons indicated the alternative route, which was bike friendly and didn't take me too far off my original route.

Here in the UK we await our Prime Minister to address the nation to see what is happening with regards lockdown. It really is a hard one to call. On the one hand things do need to get back to some sort of normal.  On the other, with reports of countries experiencing rises in the numbers of CO19 cases because they might have lifted restrictions too quickly, it isn't an easy one!

Keep safe people!

Saturday 9 May 2020

Brompton B75 review

Last year one of my fellow Brompton Club riders Simon bought a Brompton B75, which I suppose is very much the entry bike into the rabbit hole that can be all things Brompton.

He wrote an excellent review and I posted it on the blog back in July 2019. I am posting a link to it again in this blog post for a couple of reasons. First, I get quite a few people asking about buying a Brompton but not being able to afford one. Second, it seems lot so you want to go down the two-wheeled route for commuting rather than sit on a bus or the tube.

Simon's review is excellent. I think he is thinking of selling it - possibly to use the money he gets from doing so to fund other bicycles.

Click here for the link to B75 review

Friday 8 May 2020

No Orange Brompton Dunwich Dynamo in 2020

Not that long ago Dr John and I had a telephone conversation in which we discussed life after lockdown. The Dunwich Dynamo came up. I said to Dr John that even it it were running I wouldn’t be going as my only route back was via the coaches Southwark Cycles put on and I didn’t fancy a crowded coach!

Today the people at Southwark Cycles announced that they had taken the decision not to run the coaches. A very brave, commendable and understandable act. Things are still going to be be quite lively with the ‘C’ word, even I suspect as far away as 4th July, so it’s the right decision.

There is always next year but I am sure many - if lockdown restrictions are lifted - will cycle to Dunwich beach and ride back.

Keep safe people.

Thursday 7 May 2020

Orange Brompton goes mountain biking!

There are occasions where you try out a new route, take a wrong turn and end up somewhere unexpected. Today was that day.

I should have know. The road turned into a gravel track. Gravel track turned to bridal path. Bridal path turned to a grassy track. In between all of this was a VERY steep incline, similar to one I experienced a while ago, but this being a great deal steeper!

Trying to cycle up this on a Brompton - my Orange Flame Lacquer - proved all but impossible. If the surface had of been tarmac, maybe but this was soil, laced with stones, leaves, the roots of trees and large dollops of horse manure!

I pressed on and had to push my bike up the hill once I got halfway up. At the top I was greeted by an open field so I decided to turn back.  Being a foolhardy sort I cycled down gingerly and at the end a chap on a mountain bike started his ascent. He took a look at me on my Brompton and just said, ‘well done for getting down that in that!’  I took it in the spirit it was meant.

The next time I will stick to letting my Wahoo plot my route, rather than me try and do it very badly.

Stay safe people!!!

Wednesday 6 May 2020

You might see more Brompton bicycles after lockdown!

There was a report today in which Transport for London indicated London could see a tenfold increase in cycling. I can't say I'm surprised!

When the restrictions on lockdown are eased there is going to be an expectation that more tubes and buses will be running to help with social distancing. Right! I wager that all of these will be mega busy. For me personally - someone who dislikes public transport at the best of times - I would rather saddle up a pony, assuming I could find one, if there was no other way of travelling a fair distance.

This might all result in the construction of wider pavements to accommodate walking routes and cycle lanes. The one positive from the dreaded 'C' word (if one can even suggest such a notion without offending) is that there might be a drive to actually increase the number of routes available to cyclists and walkers. Let's see how this one develops.

Keep safe people!

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Get your Brompton on a cycle to work scheme?

Yesterday, my forced Dr John sent a message saying that he had read that there will be a relaunch of the cycle-to-work scheme to encourage and attract people to cycle to work rather than use public transport or the car.

I used one of the cycle-to-work schemes in the past to buy a Brompton and it was fairly easy to manage but I have not done it since on any of the other bicycles I have bought.

There are different companies offering what amounts to more or less the same scheme. All involve more or less the following steps:

  1. Register with a cycle-to-work scheme
  2. Choose your bicycle (a Brompton surely) and equipment from the agreed shop and get a quote
  3. Sign in to your cycle-to-work website and submit the quote
  4. A hire agreement goes to your employer you you and they sign
  5. Your company makes the payment to the cycle-to-work company and they send you a voucher to buy your bicycle 
  6. You take your voucher and collect your new bicycle
The amount you save is taken off your monthly wage and spread over 12 months (some schemes are longer). After a year the bike is sort of hired to you and after 4x years you have the option of paying a final fee and then the bike is yours. The saving depend on what tax bracket you are on.

If they could make it all a little less complicated, I think it would appeal more - it would be me. It might be a way of getting a Brompton that otherwise you might not have considered due to cost. 

Of course the elephant in the room is that you could get a bicycle for free but if you aren't comfortable cycling on the open road, it doesn't matter what savings you make. It is likely that when the lockdown is eased, the masses will head for the tube, bus, train and car. An increase in  car traffic in particular will make things a little bit lively for us cyclists.  What is really needed is an increase the  funding of safe cycling lanes/routes and making the prospect of cycling in cities that bit more enjoyable. 

At the moment, cycling is bliss as traffic has been reduced greatly. My advice to those who have recently rediscovered cycling is to book yourself on a free cycle awareness course. Cycling in London with its normal compliment of traffic is going to be a bit of a shock otherwise!

Monday 4 May 2020

Orange Brompton Flame Lacquer to Alexandra Palace

My last little adventure as part of my daily exercise to Alexandra Palace was very agreeable. As I took my Orange, Black Special Edition last time, I felt it only fitting to take my Orange Flame Lacquer with me today.

If anything it felt a little warmer today and there were certainly a lot more people out and about. There were more cars! Part of the route involved getting across a really buy road. Normally this would have been easy as there was a subway underneath it. Of course in lockdown these are blocked off and shut, so I looked for a set of traffic lights. I found these pretty easily a few hundred metres ahead but I almost winced when a chap on a road bike dodged the traffic, rather foolishly.

I knew what to expect with regards hills and I looked forward to the challenge of getting up them today.

At the top in the shadow of Alexandra Palace there were loads of people about. There were also lots and lots of police - in vans and on foot. I don't know what they were all doing? Perhaps watching us?

As I said it was aware day but there was little in the way of haze and as such the view were wonderful. I spend a few moments gazing into the distance, thinking about the buildings I could see and all the routes and places I would like to pay a visit to once the 'C' word has subsided. 

My Flame Lacquer is fitted with a Brooks Titanium, Special Edition saddle and I am convinced that these 'Special Edition' ones are more confutable. Have I gone mad or does anyone else out there agree?

Wherever you are in the world, stay safe people!

Sunday 3 May 2020

Cycle all the street in the centre of London!

Well, if you are bored during lockdown and fell you have nothing to do, you might want to follow in the pedal strokes of a man from Latvia who spend five years cycling every street in central London!

During a recent telephone call from a friend overseas, he told me about a gentleman from Latvia. He moved to London a while ago and completed most of the journeys, that was eventually allow home to say he had cycled all the streets in central London, on his way to work. Quite an achievement.

The Brompton would definitely be the way to go if you wanted to do this sort go things however I can't help but think there are lots and lots of streets in central London I would never want to see let alone cycle down.  Each to their own.

Keep safe people...keep safe!!

Saturday 2 May 2020

Orange Brompton Alexandra Palace and back

It seems like ages since I have been on a decent ride with a few hills to keep things interesting, so with the sun shining early this morning I headed off for an Alexandra Palace loop.

Setting off early the roads were fairly quiet, although there were definitely more car than in previous weeks and sadly speeds were up.

I decided to take my Orange, Black Special Edition with me in favour of the Orange, Flame Lacquer mainly as I had not used it in a while. There is no real difference in how the bikes ride/perform but I could swear the titanium part on the Brooks saddle on my Flame Lacquer makes the ride a little more comfortable?

Trusting in my Wahoo to provide an interesting but quiet route, again I wasn't disappointed. I enjoyed seeing new roads and scenery.

Arriving at Alexandra Palace in pretty good time I took in the views. The actual building is Grade II listed and is now a venue for various sports and music events. Back in the 1930's it acted as a transmission centre for the BBC.

The views, on a day like this, were stunning and I could make out the buildings of Canary Wharf as well as the Shard and Walkie Talkie. A more welcome sight was seeing a near uninterrupted view of the dome of St Paul's Cathedral.

The last time I cycled to this location on a Brompton was when I completed the 'Night Rider' event a few years ago. I remember finishing one of the two times I did this with my partner in crime, Andrew. The photo below is pretty much where we started and ended the ride.

In my youth I remember cycling up to Alexandra Palace on a Peugeot mountain bike. I remember that I found some of the hills a challenge, even on a bike with 27 gears. Either I have got fitter or in comparison to my Brompton my Peugeot mountain bike was rubbish but I found it much easier on the Brompton!

After a good few minutes taking photos of the buildings in the distance, my Brompton and then some more photos of my Brompton I headed back.

There was one huge downhill on the way to Alexandra Palace that even I did not look forward to ascending on the way back however I need not have worried. The Wahoo gave me a route that bypassed it completely! Very clever.

Hoping to get out on the Brompton again tomorrow as part of my daily exercise. As yet I don't know where that will be.

Keep safe people!!