Sunday 28 April 2024

15.5 mph not 88 mph!

Those of you who are of a certain age might remember the classic that is, 'Back to the Future.' Reminded of this by recently seeing an aging - but near perfect - DeLorean sitting in N6 as the garage door gently closed to spoil the fun of taking a photo, I recalled the magic 88 mph and could not help by think of my Brompton Electric. 

When I have had the battery powered on, seeing my Wahoo display 15 mph I know that the motor will do its thing until 15.5 mph. As soon as this happens, it is as if the Brompton Electric gently lets you know that you can do it. You are on your own but when needed the motor kicks in when you fall below 15.5 mph, giving you a little boost. It is all rather lovely. 

At the moment I use the motor sparingly and have reserved it for the ascent of hills. Doing do is quite simply wonderful. 

When the weather gets better - if ever - my Orange Titanium is coming out of its winter hibernation to join my Brompton Electric. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!


Sunday 21 April 2024

London to Shorehan-by-Sea overnight Brompton ride

Last Friday night into Saturday morning was the first of the larger group rides to the coast. This one - as I mentioned in a recent blog post - was to Shoreham-by-Sea, roughly five miles from its perhaps better known neighbour Brighton. 

I set off from north London with my journey to the start location about 6 miles away. Cycling at a leisurely pace I made it there by 23:40ish. Geoff was there but Dr John bailed as he sometimes does if there is engineering works that spoils the fun. Geoff and I were the only members of the old firm but there was Stuart, Recumbent Bob, Greg and many others who have been doing this sort of thing well before Geoff and I have. (More on that later). After the briefing by Rider Leader Jim, a couple of minutes after midnight we were off. 

It was a coldish night but it did not take that long to warm up. Our progress was good and we passed through the busier parts of London purposefully. Once we turned left onto Cathles Road it always seems to mark the point at which things get a little quieter. This perhaps magnified by cycling through the green bits of Tooting Common and along the edge of Mitcham Golf Club. 

Instead of cycling up to and then over Farthing Downs we kept south passing Chipstead and through Reigate. I could be wrong but this might have been a route we used many years ago? 

As always, we stopped at certain points to regroup and were not really kept too long. The moon was reasonably full and illuminated our way when the clouds obliged. At one point I thought I heard a Nightingale singing along quite beautifully but as I cycled by I put it down to a Blackcap perhaps. 

We reached the sanctuary of the scout hut at Burstow where the welcome was as always warm and friendly. 

I enjoyed the food put on offer and the hot drinks but I did actually start to almost fall asleep. In fact I found it very difficult to keep my eyes open, knowing that if they were to shut, I might well be out for the count!

A couple of participants sadly had to bail at this point. Each of them had a rear derailleur break, despite some best efforts, proved to be the end. 

When I could speak, Geoff and I considered how long we have been going on these rides. We could not quite believe that it was over 11 years! Time really does fly. 

At 05:00 I ventured out into the early morning and I felt cold. I put on a couple of snoods and once we started pedaling felt a little better. 

Up until this point in the ride, I had only turned on the Brompton Electric once to ascend a little incline. (Don't tell Mrs Orange). Turners Hill is not really that bad I was going to cautiously make my way up. Considering that this might be the time to use it, I leaned over and turned the power on. I made rapid progress. I actually started to ease off quite considerably as I would have overtaken the front of the ride. As I did, I looked down at the Terry Thomas sticker on the frame and had to chuckle more than a little. The Brompton Electric really does destroy hills. I have used it on pretty much all the famous ascents in London and it makes them easy. You still need to put in some effort but my goodness does it make things easier. 

Dawn approached the pack of riders thinned out slightly. Those times cycling a few minutes alone are rather wonderful in their own right. I was then jolted into the realisation that I had not really used the Electric bit of my Brompton Electric that much. I had 48 miles come up on my Wahoo so I turned it on and glided along. 

We passed quaint little villages with picture postcard views and the miles seemed to glide by quickly. 

Reaching Shoreham, we headed for the end the ride and the possibility of breakfast. 

The breakfast location was called 'Port Kitchen.' I rarely stay for breakfast and usually head for the nearest station. The sun was shining and the food smelled really good so I decided to stay. Besides, I would be able to chew the fat with Geoff a little, we could cycle together to Brighton and get the same train. The breakfast was wonderful. The photo below is actually Geoff's breakfast. Mine disappeared swifty before I gave thought to things such a photos! 

Geoff and I made out way to Brighton and the station and boarded our train for London Bridge. The journey went quickly taking a little over an hour. A dog and their owner were seated not far away. It appeared friendly and got strokes from just about everyone close by - including Geoff. I eyed it with some suspicion as it looked at me and pretty much gave me the same look. It didn't come over to me, perhaps sensing I was a cat person!? At London Bridge we parted ways. Geoff was down the platform before I could say goodbye as the steps down to the exit lay ahead. I cycled back with my Brompton Electric on power setting 2. Things were pretty flat until I reached a road near a famous cemetery. A poor roadie looked broken when I glided by saying, 'lovely day for it.' 

I enjoyed this first nocturnal outing proper - the one a couple of weeks ago ended up being halted halfway. The route was a good one and the breakfast stop worth visiting instead of just getting the train home. This route might even feature as a ride I do outside of the group rides? The ride was just over 62 miles and as I type this entry, I feel fine. The knee is okay and my more cautious approach to inclines and cycling in general seems to be paying off, along with the power of the Brompton Electric. (I do need to use that power a little more than I do though). 

Thank you to Jim for doing an excellent job in leading the ride, the Tail End Charlies, Burstow Scouts and to Geoff for his company. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people. 

Monday 15 April 2024

A few old haunts on the Brompton Electric

Early yesterday morning  I took my Brompton Electric out for a little spin. The rather strange thing is that despite cycling just over 26 miles in total, the battery was not turned on once! Still, good to know it is there at the push of a button when needed. 

It was about 9 miles from N6 down to Brompton Cemetery and the weather was rather lovely. There weren't really too many people about and thankfully far too early for delivery drivers on various two-wheeled forms of transport. 

I do like Brompton Cemetery. It opened in 1840 and one of the Magnificent Seven Cemeteries established by an Act of Parliament in 1839. These include: Kensal Green, West Norwood, Highgate, Abney Park, Nunhead and Tower Hamlets.

For me it cannot really compete with my particular favourite, Kensal Green and its close second, Highgate. 

It does have the grave of Emmeline Pankhurst, political activist and organiser of the suffragette movement. It always seems to have some lovely flowers laid respectfully and occasionally - as was on this day - a ribbon tied around the headstone. 

I went over Hammersmith Bridge going south over the Thames and later back again heading back home. For many Londoners, this is their favourite bridge. Quite by chance my route back took me quite close to where is designer, Joseph Bazalgette once lived on Hamilton Terrace. It opened in 1827 for the first version and 1887 for the current version. Sadly , in 2019 it as closed indefinitely to all motor traffic. It is currently open as a foot bridge and for cyclists. 

As I not too far away from Mortlake, I decided to pay a visit to the church of Mary Magdalen where you can see the quite amazing tomb of explorer and writer, Sir Richard Francis Burton. 

Both Sir Richard and his wife Isabel are buried in the tomb - designed by Isabel - in the shape of a Bedouin tent. There really isn't anything else like it. 

Sir Richard was one of those people who seemed to be able to hear someone speaking a foregin language and be able to pick it up incredibly fast. It was said that he could speak over 25 languages. He was a colour character. At Oxford he was said to have challenged another student to a duel for mocking his moustache. He was famous for translating 'The Arabian Nights' the 'Kama Sutra' and 'The Perfumed Garden.' Shamelessly, he also documented his journey to Mecca in disguise pretending to be a Muslim. 

To the rear there is a fixed ladder leading to a viewing window through which you can see into the tomb itself. On the left is Lady Isabel's coffin and on the right Sir Richard. There is usually some reflection on the glass, unless you pay a visit near sunset - not advisable!

I was trying to think back when I last paid a visit to Brompton Cemetery and Sir Richard's tomb and think that it was quite possibly during one of the lockdowns.

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

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


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!