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!

Friday 26 August 2022

How good is the Brompton Toolkit in use?

A Brompton Toolkit has lived inside the toptube of all of my Brompton bicycles when I have been out and about. It has sat inside the top tube quite happily for years going for the ride, silently waiting. Luckily I think that I have only used it once to deal with a puncture - I have been very fortunate. I did however put it to use earlier in the week when a friend I was riding with had a visitation from the puncture fairy.

My friend was on one of his three CHPT3 bikes.  The rear tyre of his CHPT3 let out a loud wheeze and it was obvious within moments that his tyre was flat.  Asking whether he had any tools (I already knew the answer) he confirmed that he didn't. I too was travelling quite light but did have my Brompton Toolkit and a spare inner tube. I also had my new Brompton pump . 

Using the toolkit, the rear wheel was off quickly and so was his Schwalbe One tyre. Could only see a little tear in the tyre that perhaps betrayed a small piece of flint or glass. A new tube was put in, tyre mounted and wheel back on. The new Brompton high pressure pump was used for the first time ever and I have to report, it's good. Really good. The Brompton Toolkit does exactly what it is meant to do very well. 

The Brompton Toolkit does seem to be hard to find at the moment. Unsure as to whether it has been discontinued or just not around for the moment. Mine will happily reside in whatever Brompton I care to take out - just in case. 

Speaking to a fellow Bromptonian when visiting Condor Cycles recently, who knew that I was that Orange chap rather quickly, he was telling me about a different version of the Toolkit that Condor is selling, It is certainly a little bit of bling. The unfortunate thing is that normally stowed away, few will get to see it...unless you or a friend as a puncture!

Until next time, stay safe out there people!!

Friday 19 August 2022

James Completes the Transcontinental Race!!

Well at some point last night, James completed the Transcontinental Race on hbis Brompton! This really is epic and puts James in the legendary category. I do suspect however,  knowing him, the next time I am pedaling beside him he will be incredibly modest about it. 

I think that James is the first person to complete the TCR on a Brompton but there have been a few who have tired in the past but didn't get there due technical issues. Roger Seaton had a go and it was only the bad luck of mechanicals that prevented him from finishing. Saying that James had a crack in his ear triangle but managed to get it sorted out. 

Again, a truly incredible achievement and well done to James. He needs to have some time to recover and take it all in but I imagine these memories will last a lifetime. I wonder if he will ever do the 'Trans Am Bike Race?'

Tomorrow I will be cycling along the Grand Union Canal, crossing the River Thames from north to south and traversing the wilds of Hyde Park. Not quite the TCR#8 but in honour of James I will post a photo of the most exotic ice lolly I can find!

Until next time, stay safe out there people!!

Thursday 18 August 2022

James H almost there on the TCRNo8!!

The gentleman that is James H has been taking part in the Transcontinental Race - on his Brompton - and I have been doing a little bit of dot watching since he started. 

He has cycled over 4500 km so far and has a little way to go. Many have tried and had to call it a day for lots of reasons but James has stoically kept going, positing some great photos and videos along the way. 

This really is an incredible thing to do on a road bike, let alone a Brompton. My fingers are crossed that he makes it happily and safely to the end point.


Wednesday 17 August 2022

Number plates and insurance for cyclists?

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps has said that cyclists should be insured carry licence plates on their bikes and be subject to the same speed limits as motorists. Later on he said that he is not attracted to the bureaucracy of number plates for cyclists. Confused? Of course these are mere proposals but they have sent the cycling community into a frenzy. 

I don't run red lights, I do stick to the highway code and I do not exceed any speed limits. In fact everyone I cycle with (that's a great deal of people over the years) are the same. There are of course exceptions. 

I very much doubt whether this will go anywhere, at least I hope that it won't. Would we be the first country to do such a thing? It also sounds a little big brother to me as well. What's next, registration for pedestrians, horse riders, joggers, mums with prams, people on mobility scooters? 

Perhaps, while Grant Shapps is still Transport Secretary, he could tackle the 1x million uninsured drivers out there in the UK?

Stay safe out there people!

Sunday 14 August 2022

Sunday morning London Brompton ride

I was up early this morning. I am generally an early riser but the heat throughout the night did help to rise out of bed. It was my intention to pay a visit to Kensal Green Cemetery as it has always been a rather special location. 

On the way, part of my journey saw me cycle along the Grand Union Canal. I am not that big a fan of cycling close to water. I am not use why and I am a strong swimmer? Today wasn't too bad as apart from two dog walkers - one of which was sensible enough to comment that they loved my bike - I didn't really encounter that many people. 

I stopped at a boat that has a rather strange rear stern! It made me think what my reaction would have been if it had of been dark and I only had a light illuminating the path ahead!

I exited the canal via a little bridge near Ladbroke Grove and once on the road I was back familiar surroundings that I know very well. 

Arriving at the the gates for Kensal Green Cemetery, I had got the timings a little out. I had thought it was open at 09:00 but it was actually 10:00 for Sunday. As I had arrived 10 minutes early and not wanting to wait over an hour, I decided to go for a little cycle wherever the mood took me. I will of course return to this location soon - and at the correct time!

Anyone who has lived in the areas surrounding Kensington and St John's Wood, if they know where to stand, can usually get a good view of Trellick Tower. It is a building I have always loved. 

Opened in 1972, it now a Grade II listed building. Designed by the architect Erno Goldfinger (quite a character) its Brutalist style divides opinion. I have already given away what I think of it. 

I usually take a photo of it when I spot it and I probably have hundreds of them taken at different vantage points, times of the day and in all sorts of weather. The dream is to one day visit one of the flats higher up in the building to have a look inside and also at the view.

Taking this shot was rather fun. A few joggers couldn't quite believe that I was taking a photo of my bicycle. 

There are several streets in London that have Mews Houses. These were built in the 18th and 19th century with the original intention of stabling horses with accommodation above for servants. The larger grand houses were usually not too far away. Now, almost all of these have been converted into several flats and very few remain intact as just one property. 

Over at Parliament Square things were unusually quiet and not a great deal was going on. 

At the National Theatre I stopped to take a photo as this is the start of many a nocturnal adventure. 

Today, I didn't cross the Millenium Bridge and instead took Southwark Bridge instead. As usual, the closer one got to the Square Mile the less busy it became. 

I stopped to take a photo of this magnificent view - of my Brompton! That done I looped back towards NW8. In all I cycled 22 miles and enjoyed every minute of it. I know that Like me, many of you out there have told me about you doing something very similar in your own cities. Keep sending me those. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!!

Friday 12 August 2022

Only in London on a Brompton

It has been rather hot of late and as I type this entry peering out of the window in my study, the sky is a rather lovely pale blue, there isn't a cloud in sight and it will be another lovely day. The heat can of course make people do the strangest of things!

This morning in NW8 a rather well dressed gentleman in his early 60s I'd day, wearing a polo shirt, tailored shorts and a garish, solid gold swiss wristwatch was making a bit of a fuss. This was up the road from Gail's Bakery I had just been to. The gentleman in question was well dressed apart from one thing, a lack of shoes. As I cycled along, and I must confess to slowing down, I heard him screaming to a younger gentleman with him that his feet were burning?!

I did wonder how someone's feet could be on fire on Hall Road not far from where it joins Sutherland Avenue and began to speculate. Had someone actually set his feet on fire? Was this the start of spontaneous human combustion? From what I gather, he was just too hot and the combination of absence of shoes and bare feet on the pavement, which I presume he felt was hot, caused him to shout out and let the world know. (Or NW8 and W9 know more specifically)!

This was all amusing enough but the younger gentleman was instructed to pour water from the bottle he was carrying over the older gentlemans feet! Now I didn't think that he would oblige to this request but he did. It did not however make things that better as older gentleman shouted out that they were still on fire. 

I cycled past but had to get off my Brompton for obvious reasons and wheel it up the road until I regained my composure - which didn't last long. My only wish is that I had of been brave enough to film what I had witnessed. I have every confidence that placed on the right form of social media, I could have derived a small but regular stream of income. Only in London!

Until next time, stay safe out there people. 

Thursday 11 August 2022

Joining the start of the Avenue Verte London to Paris on a Brompton

Last Monday, Mark (King of the Hill) asked what I was doing on Wednesday as he kindly invited me to join him and Dr John for a few miles of their London to Paris adventure. Initially, I didn't think that I could go as I had a few family things, but with some careful maneuvering and organisation I managed to free up some of Wednesday. 

The start point was the London Eye - always a great meeting point for any cycling adventures - at 08:30. I took the scenic route from SW7 today and made it to the start to see Mark there almost to the minute. Dr John, who had stayed in a hotel in Kings Cross, was there a few minutes after. With the greetings done and the route eventually loaded up, we headed off. 

Mark and Dr John were taking the classic route to Newhaven. Later in the evening they would take the ferry over to Dieppe. Their route would be just over 85 miles and I would join them for just over 25 miles of that. 

Even at this time of the day it was shaping up to be a lovely day. The sky was blue and the sun already out. We passed The Old Vic which brought back memories of night rides to the coast. Going straight ahead with the larger group rides and right with Dr John on our duo rides mainly to Brighton. Sadly, due to a combination of timing and more recently rail strikes we haven't been able to go on any of these. Hopefully, we will get a few in before the year is out. 

The route Mark had chosen looked a good one and did avoid lots of the busy stuff getting out of London. 

A highlight for me was passing through Deptford Market. I speculated as to when I had last been here and it must have been over 20 years. To me, not a great deal seemed to have changed (a good thing for a street market) and if truth be told I could have happily walked up and down a few times to soak in the atmosphere a little more. Another time perhaps - and not another 20 years!

It didn't take too long for us to reach what could be described as countryside and things were starting to heat up. It was going to be a hot few miles for Mark and Dr John but they did have until 22:00ish to make it to Newhaven so they could take things reasonably easy. 

On the ascent of on of the smaller hills I had had to stop as I seemed to be down to only two gears. I tightened the cable after selecting second gear but it did take me a few attempts before I managed to get three gears again. Thankfully that seemed to do the trick and I was very grateful all was working again.

Just before reaching 25 miles at Oxted, we cycled down a really steep section of road. I say cycle, but with a 17% gradient it was a fast freewheel. I did see some poor unfortunate roadie grinding up at a snail's pace and did think that it didn't look like anything approaching fun!

I asked Mark and Dr John to pose for a photo before I said my goodbyes. As I did I heard Mark yell out 'quitter! and just about heard Dr John chuckle. I love those guys!

The train gods were shining down upon me as my train for London Bridge arrived about two minutes after I arrived on the platform. The journey back was quick and once back in the big smoke I was able to get back home very quickly. 

I cycled only 25 miles with Mark and Dr John which was far too short really and I could have cycled more but I had family stuff to do and family is everything. 

Many thanks for Mark for inviting me for part of the journey with them and surprising it on Dr John and I wish them both happy and safe pedaling. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!