Monday 30 May 2022

RideLondon Essex 100 competed on an Orange Brompton

What a day!  I have wanted to complete the Ride100 event on a Brompton for years but was always unsuccessful in the ballot. I did get into the last one that would have been held in Surrey but the 'C' word took hold and we all know what happened thereafter. I was looking forward to this day, despite the fact I had done very little in the way of training and it sort of arrived rather quickly.

I started at an ungodly hour and totally misjudged how long it would take to get from NW8 to the start line. As such I had to pedal pretty hard and fast to get down to Pall Mall from where I could enter the start route. 

Once on the start route it did seem as if I need not have bothered to get to my early start window as riders a great del earlier and later than mine, rocked up and started together. The start was quite slow and we wheeled our bicycles along. On a Brompton, I was in a sea of road bikes and for the entire event I was to only see one other Brompton rider. Those of us attempting it on small wheels must have been very low in numbers. One theme for the entire ride was the considerable amount of attention directed my way by virtue of me choosing to ride on an Orange Brompton! More on that later.

I had taken part in the Ride46 and the start line for that was very much like a 'Club 18-30' holiday - music, loud music and audience participation. (Don't worry I have never been on one of those holidays). We were told to mount our bikes for the rolling start and with the chirps and bleeps of the machine that registered the timing chips we all had, we were off. 

In a previous blog post you may recall that I had been suffering from a bit of a cold leading up to this ride. Before and the actual day of the RideLondon, I had all but lost my voice. (I had felt okay apart from a sore throat). Because of this my speaking voice could be likened to Vito Corleone portrayed by the late Marlon Brando. My first utterance to being asked whether any other Brompton riders were doing this event and using the word 'family' to describe my Brompton friends was as ironic as it was comical!!

Throughout the entire ride - and I really do mean the entire ride - I was patted on the back, encouraged and commended about attempting the event on a Brompton. I do think that the bright orange bike and attire helped but the level of love and support was wonderful from my big wheeled cousins.

I didn't really stop at the official rest stops at all, in favour of being self-sufficient. (This was for me a test run for the Dunwich Dynamo in a few weeks time. I am glad that I did as I gather there wasn't a great deal on offer and some stops running out of what they had. 

I had taken my Orange Titanium with me and ditched the normal saddlebag in favour of my trusty Mini O front bag and a small and lightweight Brompton pouch attached to the saddle containing additional water. This setup worked really well and the Mini O bag (that I have been using all the time on my Cloud Blue Brompton) was brilliant. 

The route was lovely and undulating. We passed through some lovely little villages almost suspended in time and I resisted the instinctive need to stop and take photos! Almost!!

I only saw one other Brompton rider the whole day. He was on a Chpt3 and looking strong. He glided past and shouted out hello. I replied to my fellow brother and he disappeared into the distance. 

There didn't seem to be as many people out lining the route as I remember on the Ride46 but those that did were vocal in their support and even more so for a chap dressed in Orange on an Orange Brompton! As with many of the participants they could not quite believe it and I suppose I was rather unique compared to the thousands of carbon road bikes going by. I am always surprised at the patience of people living in areas where road closures for an even like this takes place. They need to be commended. 

There were a couple of points in a ride where things came to a stop. I would say that they must have been almost 30ish minutes in total. Sadly, these were for accidents. I am not too good at seeing these, so when we were eventually allowed to cycled on and I saw some poor chap on the floor with a bandage around his head, I went to my happy place, looked the other way and hoped he was okay. 

The last 25 miles due to the stops was perhaps my slowest 25 miles of the entire ride. It was also where there was some rather selfish cycling. Some cyclists went at top speed undertaking, weaving and having little regard for anyone else. The Tunnel near the end was rather scary because of this. However, it could not dampen the enjoyment of the day. 

The RideLondon Essex 100 turned out to be 102 miles but hey who is counting. The finish line at Tower Bridge was a lovely way to end things. We had to wheel our bikes quite a bit to where the medals were handed out and on the way I chatted to fellow riders, equally as pleased that they had completed the ride.

The medal was a little different in that it was made of wood and not metal. I quite liked this and the fact it was more environmentally friendly to make a win win. 

As you can tell I enjoyed this ride a great deal. I cycled on my own but I chatted to scores of people on the way, albeit wheezing like Vito Corleone!  I managed to get round in 7 hours 50ish minutes. The moving time on my Wahoo was a great deal less than this. I didn't realise that your time would be stopped when you entered two of the stops, so I should have used them instead of stopping wherever I liked. The whole timing thing is the one aspect I don't really care for. When I do the Dunwich Dynamo in a few weeks time, the distance will be greater but the time aspect will not be a factor. With this there will also be a huge number of Brompton peeps taking part. Would I do this all again? If I could get in, I just might. 

This morning, after a very good nights sleep, I don't feel bad at all. The legs are telling me that they have cycled 102+ miles but apart from that no issues at all. Many thanks to the organisers, the people who live along the route and had to put up with road closures and to my fellow participants who took a shine to a chap on an Orange Brompton. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Saturday 28 May 2022

Naked Bike Ride?!

The 'World Naked Bike Ride' is set to return to London on 11th June. With a distance of about 9 miles it is an even that has always puzzled me.

The broad aim of the ride - apart from riding a bicycle as perhaps nature intended or not - are to:

  • protest against the dependancy on oil
  • celebrate freedom 
  • obtain rights for cyclists 
  • demonstrate the vulnerability of cyclist on the street 
  • curb car culture 
I do recall making my way to another cycle ride a few years ago and seeing a few participants wobble past. Apart from having to stop myself from shouting out 'my eyes!' but I did feel that some participants would have benefited from more clothing. Lots of clothing!

Even as I type this I recall several body parts bouncing around like a couple of ping-pong balls! It also struck me that a few participants (who were not really naked at all) were filming and photographing those that were, perhaps for their own gratification. I also suspect that a few participants cared not a jot about the aims of the ride but were more out for their moment in the sun and look at me. I could be wrong?

I for one will not be participating in this event on the 11th June but wish all those who are the very best.  

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Friday 27 May 2022

Ride London almost here

I think that it would be true to say that not completed any serious training for this event that takes place on Sunday. It has crept up on me rather suddenly and I will need to carry out some last minute prep before I set off early on Sunday morning.

My only real prep has been the few night rides to the coast i have been on this year, some Brompton rides, errands and the odd bit of commuting. I do feel I will be okay however (despite getting over a head cold) and more than capable of completing the 100 miles. (Famous last words).

I would imagine that some the lycra brigade will be treating the event as if they were at that famous bicycle race with French origins. They are welcome to do so as long as they don't come too close to me, endanger others or mind when at 75 miles in, I glide past because they have run out of steam. 

My Ride100 will be completed the sensible way, on an Orange Brompton and I am very much looking forward to it. There will be a few of my fellow small wheeled brother ands sisters doing the same and I really hope that I see a few. If you are taking part, see a chap in orange dinging the distinctive sound of a Brompton bell, it might be me!

The route looks to be pretty good and the only real concerns I have at the moment is how to negotiate my way to the start as there are several road closures and only one real way to get to it. Apart from that, I am good to go. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!!

Sunday 22 May 2022

Brompton Sevenoaks Weald Tour

Last Saturday, my friend of old Mark (King of the Hill) lead his Sevenoaks Weald Tour that started and finished in Kemsing. As it was a Saturday (I rarely do Sunday rides) I was willing and able to attend and by the end of it all, I was very glad I did.

I started in NW8 and rode the not too great distance to Victoria Station where with a few other Brompoton peeps we boarded the train bound for Kemsing. Perhaps like me you have not heard of Kemsing before but it was the station after Otford (the usual start from many a Kent adventure). 

Looking our of the window as the train departed I took a quick photo of my beloved London as it slowly drifted out of view. 

Mark was to join us a few stops in and it was good to see him, Geoff and Ian (who had come all the way from Sheffield). I cannot think when I last saw Ian but it must have been several years. 

Mark had decided on us all starting at Kemsing as it was very much in the Kent countryside straight away. He was right about this and within seconds of us departing, picturesque views started to compete with each other. 

The welcome sight of oast houses with their distinctive architecture appeared within five minutes and many of us had phone cameras at the ready to capture as many of them as we dared. 

There were over 25 riders I think and for the most part we cycled quite tightly packed. I enjoyed marking the odd junction and then cycling back through the pack up to the front to have a go at doing it again. 

Kent is really, really pretty. When on a ride in Kent I always think this and always come away thinking it. This ride had a lovely route that took in quaint little villages, almost suspended in time. 

Mark's last ride into Kent had a complete lack of food stops. If anything, this one had took many! (There is no pleasing people)! The first stop was at the photo below. As we entered the seating area, other cyclists on larger wheels) were also having some refreshment. The sight of some 25 Brompton peeps might have been viewed by some of the clientele in much the same way perhaps a London chapter of a certain motorcycle gang!

I stopped to take a photo on a small bridge so that I could use another as the background for my photograph above. The water was calm and all very tranquil. After we had got some refreshments (in my case the rather lovely ice cream you can see in the photo) going back over that same bridge the sluice gates had been opened with water thundering out and through the arches you can see below at quite a speed and force. Sadly. I mum and her three young children (perhaps from a nearby holiday camp) had waded out moments before this happened and stood trapped at the base of one of the arches. People made an attempt to rescue them as we cycled by. 

As we cycled on the views just seemed to get better and better. The route was so lovely, I do think that I will have to repeat it again with anyone who will come with me. 

Our Brompton peloton was a sight to behold. There really is nothing quite like being in one or seeing it glide by. For both, it just brings a big smile to your face. The next stop was a branch of Sainsbury's where sandwiches, drinks and various other items were purchased for the simple job of replenishing energy. That done we were off again into the wonderful Kent countryside. 

The next stop was at a vineyard. Being someone who does not drink, it was wasted on me but those who did spoke very highly of it. Geoff and I (Geoff doesn't drink either ) used the time to catch up and plan the odd cycle ride. We talked about the forthcoming Ride100 (which is next week) and our start times. Sadly, it is unlikely we will see each other as I start about an hour before Geoff does. Saying that, I will be on a Brompton and Geoff on big wheels, so you never know?!

Our final stop was a very old pub called 'The Man of Kent.' This was quite crazy inside. I had to bend over to get through the doorway and once inside it was not that better, with low beams. A bag of crips and a cup of coffee later I overheard another ride talking to Mark about the need to get back to London. With only one train an hour from Kemsing back to Victoria I decided to go - along with Geoff and Amy who must have thought the same. 

We had about 10 miles to go and there was to be a steep little climb before we got to the station. With the route in my trusty Wahoo, we set off with about 40ish minutes to get there. Thankfully we did and got the train back. It was delayed a little as someone who was on the train decided to walk onto the track when we reached the first stop. Luckily it was all sorted out and we arrived only a couple of minutes late. At Victoria we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. 

In all I cycled just over  50 miles - including the 47 miles for this ride. Many thanks to Mark for leading and to all the other Brompton peeps for always making these rides so much fun. 

My next ride is the Ride100 next Sunday. As I type, this time next week I hope that I have not only completed the ride but home as well. I have not really carried out any specific training for this ride and hope my fitness and the day itself will me enough. Watch this space for my blog post on that one!

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Sunday 1 May 2022

May Day Brompton Bimble

Early this morning I ventured out for a short 10 mile spin on my Cloud Blue. This particular Brompton of mine does seem rather well suited to this task. As usual for this bike I was dressed in normal clothing - apart from the SPD shoes. (More on that later). 

I started off at a very posh garage door in NW8. The owners paint this quite regularly but in all the years I have been past - getting on 35 years - this had been the first time I have ever seen it painted blue. Naturally, I had to stop!

London was quiet with only the odd tourist out and about. I saw a few people on bicycles but I was the only Brompton rider I saw while out. 

The further I got into the City, the less busy things became. I do recall cycling through during that first lockdown and it was perhaps one of the strangest experiences I have ever had. It all felt wrong for such normally busy locations to be all but empty. I am glad to see that things are more or less back as they were. 

I bought a new pair of Ergon grips specifically for this Brompton and they did feel rather comfy. As mentioned pedals earlier, I am considering whether to refit the original Brompton pedals on this bike? If I were to do this I could use whatever footwear I liked, which does appeal to me. I will have to have a think about that one as I have been using SPD pedals for so long I am not entirely sure I could go back to anything else. Watch this space on that. 

Near St Paul's Cathedral, Ludgate Hill was having some resurfacing done. Despite the signs informing drivers of this well in advance, a few didn't believe it until they came upon it. I saw a car doing a very dangerous, rapid and unexpected three point turn almost knocking over a cyclist in front of me and a couple of pedestrians. 

As I reached 10 miles, the air had that smell it gets just before a thunder storm. A few drops of rain did fall but nothing more than this and I was able to make my way back without the need of a waterproof or to take sanctuary somewhere!

Until next time, stay safe out there people!