Monday 31 January 2022

North London hills on a Brompton

It isn't often that I go on Sunday rides. For me Sundays are family days. Saying that, Saturdays are too, but you get what I mean. By the end of this particular ride, I was very glad that I did attend. 

The meeting point was outside Kings Cross Station at 09:00. This wasn't too far away for me so I cycled the couple of miles and got there more or less bang on time. After saying hello to familiar faces and newer ones, we were off on a crisp Sunday morning. The sun was shining, the sky blue and the few clouds that were out glided by as if they had somewhere else to go. It was a lovely morning. 

It was great to see Mark (King of the Hill) again and catch up, hearing about his plans for a summer Paris ride and a certain new Brompton bicycle that will hopefully arrive in a few months time. 

The ride was billed as one that would contain hills. I do like a hill and although nothing on the batting order filled me with fear, I welcomed them nonetheless. 

We stopped near Jack Straws Castle - a former and famous pub - waiting for the tail to catch up. With a small lake and reed-bed, it provided the first of many opportunities for the photographing of ones Brompton!

Quite soon into the ride we stopped at Hampstead Pergola. This clever raised walkway dates back to before World War One (I think). I speculated as when the last time I paid it a visit and I think that I must have been 7 or 8 years-old. It really hasn't changed a great deal from that time apart from the spiral staircase at one end looked to be an updated version. 

This day marked the birthday of Bob and with Jenny's the next day it was only fitting that there was a mini celebration. This was lovely for them and each had a cake that was later shared out among the assembled riders. 

Naturally, a slight pause in proceeding signalled an excellent photo opportunity. 

Guy - professional Toastmaster - provided a speech and some interesting facts about their respective birthday dates. With that done we were off again. 

Having lived not too far away for my formative years, I have always (for reasons unknown) disliked Hampstead. I cannot put my finger on it apart from it suffers from being the haunt of superficial showoffs who always try too hard and scream, look at me. It has therefore been very popular with actors and those in the arts for many years. Rolling down Hampstead High Street I recall the time when a branch of McDonalds eventually opened after years of protests. To my shame I remember being elated when it finally opened. I recall going out of my way to pay it a visit, order a burger and fries and consume it outside, standing on the high street with enthusiasm. It has long since gone. 

Like the Duke of York from the song who marched up the hill and down again, we cycled up one to look at some rather good views of the city skyline, only to come cycling down again. 

Next was Swains Lane. A famous hill in North London but not really anything to be too scared of. 

Graham brought his little dog with him. She was happily carried around in a front carrier and rucksack by various participants. Not caring for dogs - who seem to know that all too well - I didn't volunteer. 

Our next stop was an old cycling haunt of Alexandra Palace. After a few photographs of the views (well worth the visit just for that) we went inside the cafe to order some refreshments. 

Birthday girl - tomorrow. 

I ordered a pizza and handed a little pager that bleeped when it was ready. After about 15 minutes it was collected and eaten swiftly. Yum. 

With another group shot we headed back towards central London, taking the scenic route. 

Jenny, regularly cycles this route - almost daily - and I can now appreciate how effortless she makes every ride (regardless of distance) seem. 

After Alexandra Palace we had about 7 miles to go and this went really quickly. In many ways it was a shame that the ride was over. I certainly enjoyed it, to the extent that I made it to the end of the ride without bailing on route! In all I cycled about 28 miles all in.

Another great ride so many thanks to Jenny and to all the other lovely Brompton peeps for their company. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Monday 24 January 2022

Lezyne Caddy Sack perfect for Brompton advenures

If like me you cycle in all weathers you might occasionally need something to store items inside that would otherwise be exposed to rain. I have used various pouches but by favourite has always been the simple and inexpensive 'Caddy Sack' by Lezyne. 

As you know I regularly participate in night rides typically 60 - 70 miles. On these I rarely take one of the many Brompton bags that are waterproof. Despite my phone now being waterproof, one rides where the rain constantly comes down, I do put my phone and small wallet into one of these. I also have a mechanical watch that although possessing some limited waterproofing, I will always put into one of these just in case on the rare occasions I am wearing it. 

They are very effective and give the utmost confidence that whatever inside will remain dry. Being quite small they easily fit into a jersey or coat pocket and also into a saddle bag. 

They will typically set you back £8.99 for the medium version but shop around and you might be able to get one as I did for £3.99. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Sunday 23 January 2022

Brompton night time Thames Bridges ride

Yesterday was my first outing on any of my Brompton bicycles since I was free from Covid. Mrs Orange was worried that I might overdo things and wanted me to take things easy - she know me all too well! 

I set off from my base in NW8 and cycled the short distance to Baker Street tube where I met Dr John at the Wetherspoons. We had a good chat and a pizza and after that we cycled to Brompton Junction in Covent Garden to have a look at the all new Brompton 'T Line.' (Have a look at the last couple of blog posts for thoughts on that one). 

After Brompton Junction, we headed towards the meeting point at Liverpool Street Station. When we arrived there were lots of participants there and it was great to see so many Brompton riders. There were new faces and many familiar ones. 

After a very brief introduction by our lovely ride leader Jenny, we were off. The sun had not set but it was not too long until daylight became darkness. 

For this ride as I had been elsewhere previously, for once I decided to wear non-cycling specific gear. To my surprise I actually found it as comfortable and warmer. When cycling on my Cloud Blue Brompton I usually only ever wear normal clothes, so perhaps I will do this more often?

The ride was quite slow paced (nothing wrong with this) but one thing I enjoyed greatly was marking a junction and when the 'all up' was heard I cycled off to join Jenny at the front again. I did get carried away with this and must have totally missed a turn and ended up near Shadwell Basin a couple of miles off track. A quick call to Jenny to see where they all were and I was told Tower Bridge. I must have broken my personal record for that distance as I arrived at Tower Bridge just as a group photo was being taken. My shout out of 'all up' made Dr John chuckle!

We progressed over Tower Bridge and were joined halfway across by Sam. The night was getting colder but by marking the odd junction, stopping to take photos and then catching the front up, I stayed comfortable. 

Ronnie had a wonderful disco light to go with his speaker that pumped out various tunes. I will have to ask him where he got it as it would be brilliant for the Dunwich Dynamo! 

As we neared Waterloo, Dr John who was getting cold, said his goodbyes as the rest of us headed towards Battersea Power Station and the mini light installations around it. 

Battersea has changed greatly over the years. The Power Station was left derelict for years but had been redeveloped into expensive flats. In fact the area all around has seen a facelift. 

I don't know anyone with a flat in or on the power station side of the river but I do know someone with one on the opposite side, not too far from the photo below. When they bought their flat the views of the power station, the much larger footprint and the lower price meant that they didn't even consider a flat inside the power station itself. I tend to agree. 

As we crossed Battersea Bridge the evidence of the area being developed was still very much in evidence, with several construction sites all around. 

Once near the station we all started to roam around taking various photos. I started to think of the Pink Floyd album that used the area as a backdrop. 

The whole area looks lovely and the light installations made up for the once we were originally going to view at Canary Wharf. 

It did occur to me to speculate as to whether cyclists with big wheels firstly have as much fun as us Brompton peeps and secondly whether they line their bicycles up for photo opportunities as much as we seem to? I think you can tell what my answer might be. 

After several photos I said my goodbyes and headed back to NW8. This was a lovely ride and great to see so many and be part of a large group of Brompton riders.  Many thanks to Jenny for leading the ride. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!!

Brompton T Line Update

Yesterday just before a Brompton ride, I popped down top Brompton Junction to see the new T Line - this time from inside the shop rather than starring outside. 

In fact, before going in I did stare again at the bike sitting there in the window and my first thought was that it was a bit like Charlie Bucket gazing into the sweetshop window at the 'golden ticket.'

Once inside I got a good look at the bike itself. It is lovely! Picking it up the weight seemed unnaturally light.  


For me the addition of colour (and you can guess where I would go with this) would be good but I do have to say that if Brompton NEVER released this bike in different colour scheme, it wouldn't be a bad thing. In fact now I think more about it, I am coming to the conclusion that the only colour this should come in is the one presented here. 

The 4x gears might be an issue for some used to 6x gears but there are tens of thousands of single, two-speed and three-speed Brompton bikes out there which will not be an issue for so many users. 

Again, too many new things about this bike to mention so head over to the Brompton website for more details. 

As I wrote yesterday, Brompton will sell thousands of these. I would suggest they have guaranteed sales for as many as they can make. I would love to have an extended test run on one of these, not because I would buy one, but more to experience all the effort Brompton have put into it. 

If you are in the market for one of these, my only advice is to be patient. There will be lots and lots of people in the queue to get one all across the world. Again, top marks to Brompton!

Until next time, be safe out there people!