Sunday 14 April 2024

Getting ready for the first group night ride of the season

Friday will see me and several others embark on the first night ride of the season, Shoreham-by-Sea. This is a little over six miles from Brighton. 

The first half of the ride will see us cycling pretty much the same roads as Dr John, Geoff and I did a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully things will be drier this time round. There are no huge hills on this one but a few lumps - the ride up to Farthing Downs and then after the half way stop, Turners Hill being the two that I can think of. 

I will be talking my Brompton Electric with me and will decide at will when and where to turn the battery on. I look forward to that!

I was going to simply return via Shoreham-by-Sea railway station but sadly tickets are for specific trains. I will almost certainly cycle the 6ish miles to Brighton where my ticket will allow me to roll up to the station and get any off-peak train I fancy. I am almost in two minds whether to stay with the group up to the halfway stop and simply pedal on to Brighton. 

It will be great to be on a nocturnal adventure again and I will need to carry out the mini prep before Friday arrives. This includes:

  • Checking over my bike and tyres
  • Charging all the lights and the Wahoo
  • Packing a few snacks
  • Buying a train ticket back to London
  • Deciding whether I will break with tradition and actually have a breakfast before returning to London
It has been a few years since I cycled to Shoreham and it will be a welcome return. Nocturnal adventures of this kind are (as you have read many times) quite wonderful and I do look forward to them. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people.

Saturday 13 April 2024

I hereby name you, Terry Thomas

Since I took possession of my Brompton Electric I have likened it to a form of transport the late Terry Thomas might have employed. Many of the characters he played would have thought it a splendid idea to turn on the power when required and dash the hopes of others overtaking him up some sort of hill!

I have a close association with three London postcodes one of which is SW7 and knew that the late Terry Thomas lived on Queens Gate Mews from as far back as I can remember. As a small boy I only had one very brief encounter with him as he walked past Albert Court and I in the opposite direction with my mum. As we passed each other he caught sight of me obviously recognising him. He winked at me and said 'what ho!' I was overjoyed. 


The property the blue plaque sits on isn't a huge but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in location. Simply put, it is in a prime spot. 


I go past quite near to this location probably once a month and I decided stop and take a photo. This was rather fitting as you will discover. One of my dear readers all the way from Japan who has been reading my efforts for over 10 years, somehow managed to get me a few stickers bearing some of the many catchphrases uttered by Terry Thomas. 


I have already placed my favourite on my Brompton and there it will stay. When the battery is turned and the motor kicks in, it will definitely bring a smile to my face. Naturally, this particular Brompton is now named, Terry Thomas. 


Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Friday 12 April 2024

Brompton World Championships general ticket release

For those who did not get the early bird tickets when they were released or those who were on the fence, general tickets are now on sale.

There was some initial questioning and confusion among some (I cannot really think why). There was mention of 50x laps of the 900 metre circuit, rather than 5x laps it was meant to be. How you could think the BWC consist of 10x heats each covering a distance of 45 miles I do not know? Perhaps it was the initial excitement of it all?!

There is a little more information about the actual circuit. It is part of the London Cycle Festival and below is an image of the circuit from their website. Looks good.

There will be copious amounts of cycling ac tion to be had but let's acknowledge the rather large mammal in the room. The BWC will be the star on the dressing room door. It is just such a spectacle. 

So, whether you are there to race, saunter about. spectate, show off your outfit or all of these, now is probably the time to get your ticket.

Until next time, stay safe out there people!



Monday 8 April 2024

Lycra!

There are certain locations in London where you will be guaranteed to find the lycra-clad brigade on their carbon bicycles with combined components costing thousands. You know where and you know what I mean. I thought I would explore the choice of outfits many wear. 

Now, I will make a disclaimer. I do wear a pair of padded cycling shorts that has lycra however they have never been on public display and always, always covered with a pair of ordinary shorts or trousers over the top. I will also admit that lycra does have a place in cycling - usually in the professional and semi-professional arena. What I suppose I am trying to explore is the normalisation of this attire.

I was in a bakery in N6 this morning and in walked a lycra-clad type, in a one piece number with World Champion colours across their chest and upper buttocks. The ensemble was so tight, so ill fitting, the padded area (and I am talking about the rear) was enhanced, enlarged and in your face. For a moment I expected Sir David Attenborough to walk into the establishment with a film crew to talk about the obvious feature of the fully grown male baboon and its buttocks in the mating season. Their friend was not much better. They had a gillet that was cut in a minimalist fashion and quite possibly sized for a small child. This rendered it to resemble a bolero top that was fashionable in the mid-1980's. 

I placed my order and while I did another entered the premises with a pair of cycling shorts that actually had such enhanced padding in the buttocks (more than the first first person) were magnified and actually separated the wearers arse into two hemispheres. I can only describe the sight I saw as being like that of a pair of Cox's Orange Pippin apples side by side!

By now, you couldn't move for cyclists (I blame Swain's Lane) and the last member of this merry band entered.  They sported bib shorts - the ones with straps over the shoulders - and a skin tight cycling top. This person had the zip of said top fully open, exposing their chest, nipples and belly button. My eyes! For a brief few seconds I likened it to something Kanye West's wife, Bianca Censori might wear. 

I can assure you that this quartet were not professional or semi-professional cyclists and I would question whether they would beat me up Swain's Lane with me on one of my non-electric Brompton bikes - and with my potentially dodgy knee! 

I am well aware that this type of clothing is more comfortable, less chafing and more aerodynamic but I would point out that you are not on the Tour! 

Wear whatever you like but don't tell me you have wear this stuff if you are serious cyclist! 

Until next time, stay safe out there!  

Sunday 7 April 2024

Cobblemonster 2024 on a Brompton Electric

Today was the Cobblemonster, an event that used to be called the London Classic. I think that my first one of these was back in 2013. Wow! Travelling down from North London was going to be just under 10 miles and I tried very hard not to stop and take photos as I wanted to get there for around 09:00. 


I did arrive a little after 09:00 and took a few photos of Herne Hill Velodrome. When I loaded up my route on my Wahoo, I was still left wondering how this place has survived the developers?


The route was a little different this time round, starting and ending at the Velodrome. Last year it was Brixton Cycles. As I set off I did feel that there were less participants than in previous years. I could be wrong of course but it did feel like that. 


Cycling in London is obviously something I do regularly. The trouble with this is the ever abundant things to take a photo of and use a background for ones Brompton!


This time round I took my Brompton Electric. The plan was to not to turn the battery on at all until the last few miles when the larger hills would feature. This worked rather well. 


There are lots of cobbled street still in London - a feature of the Cobblemonster -  but a few have been tarmaced over. Unless there is a preservation order, I would imagine that the cost of maintenance, health and safety etc.., would fall into play. Some were maintained well and looked wonderful. Others had potholes that people could probably descend into wearing boiler suits and head torch!


At Charterhouse Square I had to stop - as I always seem to to do - to take a photo of Florin Court. This was Whitehaven Mansions where Poirot lived in the definitive television version. 
 

'The Cottage' at 3 Hayne Street is another location I always stop at. It is a glimpse of what 19th Century properties might have looked like there. It was scheduled for demolition due to Crossrail but it has survived, for now. You can even see its left side from the platform of Barbican tube station. 


London was quiet which was a surprise as it was a lovely day on the weather front. A half marathon was taking place and at one point I cycled almost parallel with the many people taking part. They looked wonderful and I was pleased the conditions were good for them. 


When I reached Wapping, I headed towards the many little alleyways, leading directly to the Thames and the foreshore. Last year I had my Brompton sitting on the shingle beach. This time the Thames was high, with waves lapping the wall and steps down. 


At Rotherhithe I could not resist a photo of Dr Salter's cat and the lovely views of the city in the distance. Further on a Bascule Bridge looked great in its new coat of paint. 



At St Nicholas Church in Deptford I stopped mainly to get another photo of the skull and crossbones on top of the entrance gates. Nothing to do with pirates but fun all the same.
 


I stopped at this sign pretty much to look where I was on my phone. When I looked up I saw that it gave the distances to Greenwich, Lewisham and Catford. I have to confess to not really wanting to go to any of these locations and had a moment of longing for north London!


I must admit to tackling all cobbles rather gingerly and slowing right down. I think that this was me being rather precious about the motor on the front wheel. 


It was only at Canonbie Road that I turned the battery on for the first time. It still felt wrong to pass a couple of lycra-clad, carbon bike, sunglasses, roadie types but with the power on to setting 2 I did so with ease. Those feelings of ungentlemanly conduct disappeared. Upon reaching the top of Canonbie Road, taking a photo and see them still grinding their pedals I was rather triumphant. It was only with the greatest self-control that I did not shout out a famous Terry Thomas quip telling them that they were 'an absolute shower!' I really do think that I am going to have to name this Brompton, Terry Thomas!


The view from Canonbie Road as you cycle down from the top

I arrived back at the Velodrome sometime after 13:30 - I think. I took my lap but when taking a few photos and video I moved down the incline to safety before going back up again. 


The Brompton Electric is proving to be a rather good friend and it does look after my knee rather well. My knee does seem rather good at the moment. I cycled 53 miles today in total and only used the battery and motor for 7 of them. (I hope that Mrs Orange doesn't read that, otherwise I'll be in trouble). It really is wonderful to know that all that power is there at the touch of a button. 

I do hope that the Cobblemonster returns next year but if it didn't, I think I would just use this route and cycle it at roughly the same time in April. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!


Friday 5 April 2024

Police Call Posts seen by accident on a Brompton

The other day I was cycling around London - as you do - and I stumbled upon an old Police Call Box. These are almost mini versions of the larger ones made famous by Dr Who and his TARDIS. Perhaps unlike me, if you use buses, three come along at once. Well, it was a little bit like this, as after spotting one, another three came along!

These little call posts were made in the late 1920's and located throughout the City. Made of cast iron, they were used right up until the 1960's. They allowed members of the public to call a police station and to contact officers in the local area. In the mid 1950's there were 600 of them but decommissioned not long after only a handful now remain. 

The first that caught my attention was along Embankment. I had stopped to take a photo of the Thames but this became my focus. 


The second I spotted was near Guildhall. As I took the photo some tourists were more interested in my Brompton than this call box or the surroundings of Guildhall Yard. 
 

Thinking that this was all a bit of a strange coincidence spotting two, a third was rather spectacular and had its light set high up, very different to the other two. 


The last one I spotted - again totally by accident - was outside St Botolph's Church. This was the final one I saw and I still cannot quite grasp how my random cycle route seemed to somehow yield four of these. I suppose London is a little bit like that, insofar as you never really know what aspect of its history will reveal itself to you. 

Apart from the one at Guildhall and another near St Paul's (that I didn't pass by on this ride) all of these other call posts have remained in plain sight and almost invisible to me. These call posts have been granted Grade II listed status and as such now have some protection. I think that in the near future I will ride to them all and get a photo of each - with a Brompton propped up against them naturally!

Until next time, stay safe out there people!



Thursday 4 April 2024

The Brompton World Championships 2024 and so it begins

For those who have signed up for information about the BWC 2024 or perhaps those who have registered their beloved folding wonder and ticked that marketing box, early bird tickets are now available for the premier cycling event. 

The BWC will take place on Saturday, 22nd June as advertised previously and the race format will be rather interesting. The course will be in Coal Drops Yard, in Kings Cross and feature 10 heats with 50x participants in each heat. They will cycle 5x laps around a 900m circuit. (It reminds me of the old Nocturne around Smithfield Market but on a much grander scale). The top 50x participants across the heats will then compete in the final. 

Official Brompton events are always lots of fun. In fact the old Nocturne folding bike face was pretty much a Brompton event anyway unofficially with the amount of Brompton peeps taking part. 

I am sure that this will be a lovely day, celebrating all things small wheeled.

Until next time, stay safe out there people!



Wednesday 3 April 2024

At Brilliant Bikes for the 100 mile check of my Brompton Electric

Earlier today, I travelled all the way to Brilliant Bikes in Sunningdale. I went there to have my Brompton Electric receive its initial 100 mile check.

Brilliant Bikes isn't exactly local to me in any way (it is rare for me to stray too far from north London) but it is one of the few bike shops I use, as their name pretty much sums up what I and many think of them. 

Dropping the bike off I retired for a cup of tea and a slice of cake at a suitable establishment while the various checks were carried out. I didn't really expect anything to be reported and as suspected my Brompton was given a clean bill of health and a firmware update. 

Apart from being a great physical bricks and mortar shop, their online store is probably the best there is for all things Brompton. (They do sell other non-Brompton stuff as well).  They also have a brilliant YouTube channel where you can see Hannah doing all sorts - how to videos, reviews, news and some crazy challenges. Definitely well worth a look if you haven't already seen it. 

They recently had an April Fool video in which they fitted a couple of pizza bags to the front and rear of a Brompton. It was a great video and wonderful to actually see it in the flesh. Strange thing is that lots of Brompton peeps out there would probably buy one of these - or both - if they ever became available! 

This now gives my Brompton Electric a clean bill of health for its next adventure on Sunday, namely the CobbleMonster. For the majority of this ride I will not use the motor at all. When the big hills arrive, I will. Should be good fun. 

Until next time, take care out there people!

Monday 1 April 2024

Terry Thomas up Swain's Lane

My very first impressions of my Brompton Electric I likened to something Terry Thomas might have used to gain an unfair advantage over other two-wheeled road users. The other day, I really feel like that. 

I headed to the bottom of Swain's Lane and made my ascent. Seeing a couple of roadies a few years older than myself, I saw them pass by as I took the photo below. 


Putting the battery on its power 1 setting, I was soon catching them up and not far from their rear wheel. However, seeing the entrance to the west side of the cemetery, I could not resist another couple of photos. Putting the battery onto power setting 2 I headed off and found myself gliding up Swain's Lane. I passed the two roadies and had already taken a few photos - two of which are below - when they made good their ascent and passed by.



One of the gentleman asked in a slightly crestfallen voice, 'please tell me that's an electric?' I laughed but didn't get to reply as they turned right onto South Grove. I headed left and no longer felt guilty using the considerable power afforded by the Brompton Electric, embracing the Terry Thomas that exists in me, a fellow North London boy.


Until next time, take care out there people!


Saturday 30 March 2024

New Brompton 12x speed thoughts

It is still rather early days for me as far as the 12x speed goes. The same can be said of the electric motor up front. I thought I would give a few initial impressions of it.

My bike came with the pretty standard 50t chainring. If you look at all the gear ratios and calculations many people much more knowledgeable than I, they will inform you that when ascending hills, it is the same as having a 44t (coupled with the largest 18t cog on the rear). From my nocturnal adventure in the early hours of Friday morning, I would say it felt a little better than this. Now this could simply be due to the fact that I was peddling up accents in a much more controlled (sensible) fashion. It could be that in the back of my mind I was comforted in the knowledge that by pressing a button, I could cycle up pretty much anything. I do not know. 

I am still going to quite happily use my other 6x speed Brompton bikes and I will see whether my new approach to tackling hills is the difference or whether it is having the 12 speed.

Until next time, stay safe out there people. 



Friday 29 March 2024

Brompton trio adventures in the dark, wind and rain!

For many different reasons it has been ages since Dr John and I ventured out on one of our nocturnal adventures. Far too long. Putting yesterday's date in the diary for many weeks in advance - and also inviting Geoff - we put aside yellow weather warning for windy conditions - to go on one of our favourite rides, London to Brighton overnight. 

My rather lovely Brompton Electric is still very much a recent addition to the fold, however I did want to get away from never using it in the wet. Having a look at various forecasts that predicted all sorts, I decided to revert to sticking my head out of my front door, conclude it would probably rain lightly and dressed accordingly. 

Making sure my little front Brompton Electric bag was packed and the rain cover (sensibly orange in colour) safely stowed away, I headed off for the meeting point not far from the London Eye. 

My plan of attack was not to use the electric motor at all until I came to an incline. I also packed rather light and didn't even use a saddlebag. 

Arriving at the meeting point fashionably late as I had totally misjudged the how busy the traffic would be, I saw Dr John and Geoff waiting. It was great to see them both again - especially Dr John who I had not seen for over a year I suspect. With the route eventually loaded, we were off into a chilly night, but thankfully was without the really strong winds that had been a feature of the that day and early evening. 

Nocturnal mode engaged

The rain came down not long after we had set off and was to be a feature of the remainder of the ride. At times it was quite heavy but the common theme was it being relentless. 

My strategy of not using the motor worked rather well. There were long ascents but going through the 12x gears meant that I always seemed to find one that was just right. Of course I wasn't going too fast.

At Farthing Downs just past Coulsdon I decided to turn the motor on and set it to power setting 1. I zoomed up to the top in next to no time and having cycled up this several times, it was very noticeable how easy and quick it was and what a huge difference it made. 



I didn't take too many photos but did take the two above of Dr John and Geoff on the top of Farthing Downs with Croydon twinkling in the background. I didn't take many photos as my hands - and feet - were freezing, to the extent that it was becoming difficult to change gears!

The rain increasingly became heavier and heavier. This did not mix well with country lanes. It made potholes invisible as they filled with water - that seemed to be everywhere! It was in one of these that Dr John went into and fell off his bike. Thankfully, both he and bike were okay but it made it clear that with 16 inch wheels, the ride was over. 

The nearest station was Gatwick about 9 miles away. With this destination punched into the Wahoo we were off. A couple of miles away from Gatwick, I spied a station which turned out to be Horley. We boarded our train and soon we were saying goodbye to Geoff at London Bridge and me to Dr John at Farringdon. 
Dr John and Geoff's Brompton bikes

My Brompton Electric did perform really well. Strangely, one of my rear lights died and I had to use the lights that came standard on the bike. This didn't seem to be a drain on the battery at all. Once I reached Farringdon I put the battery on power setting 2 just to enjoy the power of that motor and it was as if a couple of gentlemen's gentlemen were giving you a little push along. It is quite wonderful.  

There is rarely a dull moment riding a Brompton on a nocturnal adventure! The Brighton run is now obviously unfinished business. When schedules permit and dry weather is a guarantee, I am sure we will do this again. Many thanks to Dr John and Geoff for their company. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!
 
My Brompton Electric survived





Thursday 28 March 2024

Out on my Orange Brompton Electric

I have been getting acquainted with my Brompton Electric since I bought it and took it for a spin on Sunday morning. Heading down from north London I had not particular location in mind and just cycled for the pleasure of it. 

I rolled down Swain's Lane and thought it a good idea to cycle back up once I reached the bottom. Carefully and slowly I made my ascent, first without the electric motor, wanting to test out the 12x gears. They do work rather well. Back up on power 1, I had some work to do but much less than I had previously and I ascended a great deal faster. 


I eventually crossed the Thames for the first time over the Millenium Footbridge, taking a few photographs for good measure. 




I passed Cross Bones and stopped for a look. This is a disused burial ground with over 10,000 people believed to have been buried there. 


From there I headed south towards Canonbie Road. This is quite a climb and tackling it in power 2 was wonderful. I ascended quickly, nonshalontly in an almost ungentlemanly way - in that it felt a little like cheating. (That last feeling didn't last very long I can tell you). 


On the way back I heard someone shout out 'Orange' from across the road. (I cannot tell you what road it was). It was the gentleman that is, Ross from the Fridays. It was lovely to see him and I hoped he was out in London finding some interesting location for one of his Sunday rides. (They are my favourites). Later I found out that he was indeed. 

So, still very much early days with the Brompton Electric but so far I am loving it. It seems that it will serve my purpose well. On the the flatter bits I won't need the motor at all - the 12x gears very much assisting with this. When the lumpy stuff arrives, the motor will go on. Today I had the motor on for about 22 miles, maily on power setting 1 and then power 2 when I wanted it for steeper inclines. When I got home the battery was showing 68%. That is rather pleasing. I suspect the maximum range stated by Brompton of 45 miles to be a conservative one, although I doubt it will be much more.

Until, next time, stay safe out there people.