Sunday, 18 September 2022

Close passes

My commute is quite short at just over 4 miles each way. Pretty much all of it is on very quiet roads where there are only a few cars ever seen - if at all. One very short section (possibly 150m) is on a busy road that I never cycle on. I simply get off and wheel my bike on the pavement. It doesn't take long. It was on this section of road that I saw a rather nasty close pass. 

When I had a look at my route, knowing that this road was a busy one I decided that I would not cycle on it at all, as I knew that after 150m I would turn into a road that was as quiet and more or less as traffic free as the preceding 3 miles. Last Friday morning when wheeling my bike along I saw a cyclist on a road bike and a bus that decided to overtake. It was very, very close and made me wince. The cyclist was shaken but the total stupidity of it all was that the bus stopped not far up the road after overtaking. It was a needless exercise on his part. The cyclist cycled on and spoke to the bus driver, much more politely than I might. The bus driver blanked him and wouldn't engage. One of his own passengers started to remonstrate with the driver and he just ignored them too. The bus drove on and that was that. 

I asked the cyclist if they were okay. He said yes and that this has happened to him before. I asked if he had a camera and he replied that he didn't. It certainly made me want to get one!

I really don't get some drivers and why they cannot give enough room? The bus driver certainly needs educating on what is safe and not safe. As for me, I pushed my bike along, crossed the road and carried on quieter roads until I got to work. I will continue to do the same! I have said many times before that I might get a camera and I just might this time. 

Stay safe out there people!

Saturday, 17 September 2022

London shutting down for Monday

London has been a little different lately - for obvious reasons. Over the past week the tube has been busier than it has been for ages and anywhere near Buckingham Palace, St James's Park, Palace of Westminster and queue along the Thames has been manic. This has been pretty much 24-hours a day. As such, I have avoided the areas mentioned as much as I can.

I have passed by Buckingham Palace at least once a week for more or less my entire life and never really given it a second thought. I suppose Londoners take a great deal of the touristy attractions for granted. In all the times I have been past, I never did see the flickering of a curtain for those inside to see what was going on outside in the real world. When things get quieter I will continue to use it  as the backdrop for the odd photo.

Monday will see the State Funeral take place and judging by the crowds out in the queue, viewing the flowers in St James's Park and those just soaking in the atmosphere, I suspect it will be one of the busiest times in London for several years.

Stay safe out there people. 

Saturday, 10 September 2022

Brompton Commute

I think that I have written about my Cloud Blue becoming my commuter hack recently and last week and all of this week has certainly put it to the test.

The setup is pretty simple. I have a hub dynamo wheel, Supernova front/rear lights and a Brompton Borough Roll Top Bag Large in dark grey (that goes well with the colour of the bike). I also have a Brompton Borough Waterproof Bag Large that doesn't need the rain cover when the wet stuff falls. 

While taking the photo below a couple of private security guards on patrol in their miniature car (they all seem to drive around in these) could not comprehend why I had stopped to take a photo of my Brompton. 

My commute isn't especially long, being just over 4 miles but it is a demanding four miles and that really does make things of interest. There is about half a mile of incline and then another 3 miles of climbing. The last mile of that 3 miles is demanding to say the least. The remainder is a fast descent all the way to work. The reverse is rather better but there is that grinding half a mile or so to overcome. It is a route I have grown to like a great deal. 

This week it rained and then rained again! One of the days last week, thankfully on the way home, I was drenched to the skin. The rain fell so heavily that by the time I got home I was akin to a drowned rat. 

The next day the weather did not know what to do. It rained for a bit, the sun shone and then it rained for a bit more! A rainbow shone for a very short while and moments after taking this photo, it was gone to be replaced by yet more rain. 

The side of a rather posh property

It has been a few years now since I used my Brompton for my daily commute but now that I am back to it again, only snow and ice will stop me from doing so. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Monday, 5 September 2022

A gift from Japan!

Some of you out there in the world wide web reading my humble efforts have been doing so for quite some time. I have corresponded with many of you from all corners of the globe - you know who you are - and more recently many of you have done so via Instagram @orangebrompton. One such person all the way from Tokyo, Japan has been Makoto and he recently sent to a lovely letter and gift. 

The gift was a waterproof card holder/wallet. Apart from being in a vivid orange colour, it will become rather useful for my Brompton adventures. I always have to swap wallets when cycling - especially on night rides - as I don't want it getting wet. This is a great solution. 

Makoto, apart from being a wonderful chap who has followed my efforts from about two days into my blog (one day he might explain he actually found it) he also has a couple of Orange Brompton bikes. He has very kindly said that this is all due to me, but there is a huge fanbase in Japan for all things Brompton.

So Makoto, thank you once again brother for this lovely gift and your 12 years of friendship - albeit thousands of miles away. 

Until next time, take care out there!!

Saturday, 3 September 2022

London to Oxford overnight on an Orange Brompton

It has felt like ages since I went on a night ride and that one was the Dunwich Dynamo a few weeks ago. Setting off into a rather mild night, I wondered whether I had enough layers to keep the cold out - should it materialise of course. This ride was London to Oxford a destination that I have cycled to several times over the years. 

My route took me over the Millenium Bridge, which was a hive of activity. Lots of people were taking photos of the London skyline and not to be outdone, I used it as a suitable background to compose a photo of my Brompton. 

My Brompton in question was my Orange Special Edition, recently back from Brilliant Bikes after having its rear triangle hinge replaced. There had been the tiniest amount of play and not wishing to take chances, they were able to fit me in last week to have the necessary work carried out. I have to say that it did seem to ride better.

I recently refitted the SON dynamo hub wheel and front SON Edelux II headlight. No particular reason for this other than me thinking it was a waste it all just hanging around used. For this ride I used this light exclusively, apart from one steep descent where there was gravel and potholes I wanted the extra illumination of my Exposure light. 

At the rear of the Tate Modern, I spied another suitable backdrop and proceeded to snap away. To my horror, a large rat scurried out, took one look at me and scurried back - thank goodness - to wherever it had come from!

The meeting point near the National Theatre and the entire area was heaving. Great to see again after the many lockdowns. Dr John arrived as did Simon on his recent London Edinburgh London bike that looked rather nimble. 

Our ride leader and all round good egg, Bob saw a couple of chairs on the walkway into an adjacent building and took the register of participants much like an old school teacher might have done. After the outline for the ride and safety procedures, we were off into what was still a rather mild night. 

There was quite a bit of getting out of London at first. As we cycled down Regent Street, my mind instantly thought forward about a Brompton Christmas lights ride. I will have to contact the powers that be to see if something can be put into the diary. 

Once past the BBC Broadcasting House Building we cycled through Marylebone and my beloved St John's Wood and Maida Vale. We passed the house my parent first lived in and the one where my sister was born. It was then northwest through Kensal Green, Harlesden and Wembley. Pressing on we passed through Harrow on the Hill, outskirts of Pinner and Northwood. After Rickmansworth things became a little more countryside as we cycled through Chorleywood and onto the halfway stop at Amersham. 

Our halfway stop was a particularly good one. Two members of the Friday night ride fraternity, Rachel and Stephen, gave up some sleep to put on some lovely refreshments in a church hall. 

This was all eaten with enthusiasm and there were a few occasions where I think I could have nodded off. Simon actually did try to nod of and laid down in the hall for a power nap. 

Very grateful and suitably refreshed we went out into the early hours. Amazingly it was still quite mild but a tad cooler, so I put on a thin gilet for good measure. Of course a few miles down the road I was too hot and took it off. 

Dawn approached slowly from the east and fog swirled in the distance. Normally this brings colder conditions but not this time. 

Our route took us on the Phoenix Trail. This is a 7-mile footpath and cycleway that mainly follows the route of a long disused railway line. It was really good and despite its gravel surface, it was fine. Birds sang away happily in hedges either side and gaps in said hedges provided some stunning views out to open countryside. 

For one long section of track there appeared to be almost earthquake fracture lines along the surface. These were quite wide in places and went on for quite a bit. 

On the outskirts of Oxford we visited the famous or perhaps infamous, Headington Shark. 

First appearing in 1986 it was commissioned as a protest by the then owner against American warplanes attacking various targets. Its survival was precarious but eventually it was allowed to stay put and very much a must see thing if you are in the area. 

Rolling into Oxford and its distinctive buildings, I was last to cycle in, so Bob gave me the task of group photo taker. 

Saying our goodbyes a few of us cycled the short distance to the station while the others went for a well deserved breakfast. 

My train was just after 09:00 I I had to wait a while for it. Simon and Dr John got on earlier trains. 

My train journey was okay and I sat next to a luggage rack, ever watchful. There were times where I know that I nodded off and I only hope that I didn't snore!

My train rolled into Paddington as advertised at 09:53 and I was hope before 10:45 which I was pleased about. 

This was a great ride. The first 40 or so miles involved a gentle incline and a few tasty hills but it was nothing too taxing. Many thanks to Bob for leading the ride and again to Rachel and Stephen for the lovely halfway stop. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!!

Thursday, 1 September 2022

New commuter Brompton

Today I tested out my Cloud Blue in its additional role as commuter Brompton. 

A few weeks ago I fitted a dynamo hub wheel and lights that I had not been fitted to any of my bikes and things looked pretty good.

I do like the Cloud Blue a great deal and will still use it for its primary purpose of toddling around London. My reasoning behind this is rather simply I suppose and I suspect many of you would guess. Orange is now a discontinued colour...again and I think it is better that I reserve the Orange Brompton bikes I have, for the sort of adventures/rides where you might expect someone called 'Mr Orange' to go on. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!!

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Would you leave your Brompton locked up?

One of the great thing about all things Brompton ownership is the fact you can fold it up and take it with you to most places. I don't know about you, but I do not own any locks. I was in a location at the yesterday, that will remain nameless, at which I saw a truly shocking example of locking up ones prized folding friend. 

Now, to be fair, the owner of this Brompton had good reason to be fairly confident that their bike would still be there when they got back. There are broadcast quality camera everywhere, a gated entry/exit and security guards patrolling. Despite this, the photo above does betray a shocking level of locking up. In the wrong location, this would have been pilfered in a matter of seconds. The worrying thing to consider is whether this owner would lock it up like this elsewhere?!

Would you leave your Brompton locked up and unattended? Do let me know.

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Monday, 29 August 2022

Topiary on a Brompton?!

Saturday was an all Brompton club ride where we would cycle, with some hills, in the pursuit of all things topiary. The ride leader was Jenny and she did say that you had to work hard for your topiary, hence a few hills. 

The meet point was the Birdcage outside Kings Cross Station, so I decided to cycle in the 17 miles from where I was staying. It was a lovely day and I knew that I would not be able to complete the entire ride as it started at 13:00 and I had some family commitments later on. The extra miles getting there and getting back would make up for it. 

Part of my route took me on the Grand Union Canal for a few miles before I got to the sanctuary of the road and the more familiar Ladbroke Grove. I am not a fan of the canal towpath, despite it being fairly quiet and having no cars. 

I stopped to take a photo of my Brompton with graffiti in the background, mainly for a fellow Brompton rider from Germany who posts some excellent photos. You'll see this one and some of his via my Instagram '@orangebrompton.' Please follow me if that is your thing. I have enjoyed corresponding with many of you via the messages. Click here.

I was able to get another shot of Trellick Tower while a few floats were being prepared and sound systems tested for the Notting Hill Carnival. 

At the meeting point there were lots of riders and by the time we left I think there were over 30 of us - many familiar faces and plenty of new ones. 

Once the briefing was done, we were off in the pursuit of all things topiary. 

I have written before that there is nothing quite like a Brompton group ride and the peloton that forms is a sight to behold. It just brings a smile to the face of everyone participating and to those that see us glide by.

Our first topiary was...well to be honest I cannot remember what it was now and at the time I think that I might have uttered, 'really?!' when told what it was meant to be.

The slightly dubious nature of the topiary did nothing to curb the enthusiasm of participants and we eagerly moved on to the next. At a few junctions I stood with my Brompton pointing in the general direction of travel and when I heard the 'all up' call I cycled back to the front to do it all again if needed. 

Graham had brought his dog, Emily with him and she had a little run while cycling or sat happily in the front bag on Graham's Brompton. 

The next items of topiary was one we had seen on a cat ride lead by Nick. We took lots of photos trying not to block the path of bemused and amused pedestrians. 

The third was sheep and the naughty schoolboy in me instantly giggled at what I thought the sheep were doing. I will leave it to you to discover whether your mind is as corrupted and juvenile as mine!

The first of the hills was up next but it was pretty tame really. I was in awe of Jay on his Brompton Electric which allowed him to power almost effortlessly up the hill. It did make me think that in a few years from now - assuming Brompton make an orange version - it might just be the thing when I am too old to get up the hills using my own power. 

At the top, gentleman that is, Ronnie provided a great photo opportunity as he took his own photo of the views. 

At first glance, I again could not offer any realistic suggestions as to what this example of topiary could be? Viewing from a different angle, it became obvious. 

Another hill, this time worse than the one before, was beaten and were were greeted by an ice-cream van and a street party that was just getting itself ready.  

Ann punching the air in triumph 

At the top, many bought, lollies, ice cream and slushies. I decided to resist the temptation. 

Next up were some ships on an ocean that I could make out quite clearly. 

Only a few houses down, a rhinoceros that was perhaps in need of a little touching up. 

There was a great deal happening on this on street! Over 30 Brompton riders, descending and taking photos and the sound of music pumping from one of the participants portable speakers that I think was Laura Branigan's, 'Self Control.' Added to this was a white Rolls Royce with a bride off to get married that had the unexpected pleasure of a few cheers, applause and me saluting as she drove past. It was at this point I glanced up and saw a lady looking out of her upstairs window. I suspect she may have thought that some sort of biker gang had descended upon this normally quiet, middle-class street (I mean they have two types of topiary metres apart) and probably uttered, 'bang goes the area!'

Further on was what looked like a caterpillar or possibly Hogwarts Express. I didn't dare to get too close as a large beast of a dog came strutting out and didn't seem that pleased. 

We moved on to Alexandra Palace where we had some refreshments before heading up to the famous building and views. 

It was here that I knew I would have to part company and head back. Not wanting to get the tube, I cycled back and clocked up a tidy 39+ miles in total for the day. I gather from Jenny that some of the really choice examples of topiary were to come but I am sure that I can get the route from her and see them at some point in the future. 

Another great ride and many thanks to Jenny for leading. I now look forward to a night ride next week that won't be to the coast, but I am sure will be rather good. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!