Tuesday 28 May 2024

Epic cycling weekend part 2 - Ride100

I have completed the Ride100 event a few times now but it has not been on my radar at all since the last time I took part. It would be true to say my stance on it was, done that. An opportunity arose to get a place so I signed up. 

As you might have read on my previous blog post, being 100 miles I was not going to do any cycling apart from the Ride100 but ended up doing an overnight London to Whitstable as well. (I must be stupid). Perhaps even more stupid, I didn't even have my Brompton Electric to take with me. (Again see the previous blog post). 

So, I cycled the 5.5ish miles to the start that began on The Mall and worked my way down the start waiting area. I took my Orange Titanium with me in absence of my Brompton Electric. Now I have a knee issue that is ongoing and I surmised if I simply pedalled at a sedate pace and where necessary, walk up any hills I could do it. (This worked well and I didn't actually need to walk up any hills just by taking things carefully). 

The start point waiting area was lots of fun. There were many who could not believe or comprehend why I would do this on a Brompton. I told them why it would be all okay - but didn't mention my knee! I also said that they would probably see a few others while we were out. 

My wave set off with little fuss and as I cycled along many cyclists came to cycle along with me to ask about my Brompton. There really was a great deal of love out there for all the diversity in terms of the bicycles and riders.

There were a few occasions where the ride stopped. For the in the photo below I think it was just a bottleneck created by a sharp right turn ahead. 

A second stop wasn't really a grinding to a halt but more of a rolling start. Bikes had to be pushed along for a while before things started up again. 

The third and final stop took quite a while to get through. No one could really tell what had caused it but it provided more opportunities to have a chat with fellow cyclists. Some liked the colour coordination, some my Brompton, others went away believing that my name was Mr Orange. (Well I suppose it is really on several levels). 

I spoke to one older gentleman as we cycled side by side for a while. He was on a rather lovely Specialized Electric. I did not know this until he told me. His plan was to only use it for the first half and then see how he went. He could get 50 miles out of it. I explained that I had wanted to do the same with my Brompton Electric but had to use the one I was on instead. About 100 metres ahead a lady came off her bike and had a really nasty tumble. She didn't crash into anyone or go into a pothole. and was probably cycling along at no more than 14-15 mph. I think she just applied the brakes and lost control. The rider she was with came to her aid thankfully, otherwise I would have stopped. 

I didn't really use the official stops a great deal other than to fill up my bottle with water, have a snack and check the bike over. As soon as this was done and I felt my knee was okay, I headed off.

When we passed through villages there were lots of people out cheering us all on. It was lovely. The novelty of a chap dressed in orange on an Orange Brompton was a dramatic change from the ubiquitous road bike and as such the cheers of encouragement were enthusiastic to say the least. Many had set up little tables and offered water and free snacks. It was quite wonderful and I very much appreciated it. 

The weather was pretty good and it was not too hot and not too chilly. There had been forecasts of rain the thunderstorms. In fact, I was sent weather advice from Ride100 late in the week advising what to wear, what precautions to take and generally what one should do in a thunderstorm. I thought we had got away with it until the heavens opened. I had to put on my light rain jacket and cycle on through. It didn't last too long thankfully and I soon dried as the sun came out afterwards. 

There were lots of different bicycles out there. I saw a couple of Brompton riders. One gentleman on a black Brompton with rack was elegantly powering along. As he passed me, he turned his head and smiled. I shouting out something along the lines, looking good and keep going and he glided into the distance. Another rider, powering along can be seen in the photo below. Her bicycle was wonderful and for me another welcome change from the road bikes. 

The last 25+ miles seemed hard. There lots of ups and downs, nothing too terrible but this along with a relentless headwind really did make things hard. I just kept pedalling - albeit much slower - but a few cyclists needed to stop and rest.

It was on the last few miles that a few of the participants showed that they were selfish, dangerous and totally arrogant in their desire to get the fastest time possible. I saw stupidly close passes - one where a rider passed so closely they actually made contact. I saw another swear at a rider who was merging into a coned part of the road - with their hand out indicating right - because he and his friends were riding side by side and she was not worthy of the same road space perhaps? Thankfully it was a minority; everyone I encountered  on the ride was lovely. 

By the time I reached the finish line I was glad to see it. The ride was over and I had done it. Tower Bridge was lined with spectators and the friends and relatives of participants. There was a great deal of love out there for all that passed by and I would like to think a little more vocal appreciation for someone doing it on an Orange Brompton. 

The medal was back to being made out of metal and much nicer than the wooden one I got the last time I did this. 

As I cycled back home, I had to negotiate the road closures for the Freecycle. I took things slowly and the legs and more importantly my right knee seemed okay. I do like the Ride100. Parts of the route are not that interesting but the atmosphere and the chance to cycle on traffic free roads more than make up for it. 

I would have loved to have completed this on my Brompton Electric, especially the last 25 miles. The good thing is that is has shown me that the altered approach to how I cycle has helped me with my knee issues. If I can do the Ride100, I can hopefully cope with anything else I usually do. Saying that, I doubt if I could have done both of these rides if I had not have used the Brompton Electric on the Whitstable run. As I type this I still feel okay and my body has definitely recovered. 

Earlier this morning I took my Brompton Electric into my favourite Brompton dealer so that they could have a look at its hub. I will let you know how I get on there and what they say. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Monday 27 May 2024

Epic Brompton cycling weekend part 1 - Whitstable.

Last Friday was the second night ride to the coast and one of my favourites to Whitstable. I had resigned myself to give it a miss as I had a fairly unexpected and last minute place on the Ride100. There was no way I could both? Well, you will need to wait a few days for the second part of this, as yes I did do both but a little drama on my Brompton Electric as I arrived home almost scuppered my plans. 

The meeting point was the usual one and I cycled gently the 6 miles it would take to get me there. Thankfully no strange going on as I descended Swain's Lane.

Our ride leader Kim was there busy ticking names off and soon Geoff rolled into view - always a very welcome sight. Kim remarked on a little confusion with regards food at the halfway stop. Tim - a former ride leader, magician and host for the best halfway stop refreshments bar none, send me an email about food choices while I was at work. A little confused at the offering of jam rolls, marmite or jam and peanut butter I replied. It seemed that I had picked the vegan option somehow - I say somehow but I have large hands and they sometimes don't always mix with an iPhone. I have nothing against vegans (I am all but a vegetarian) but I did find it funny. 

The night riding thing was still a joy. The weather was pretty good. No rain or real chance of rain and pretty mild. The sounds of just your bicycle doing its thing and that of others was pretty much the only sound to be heard, apart from the odd bird calling here and there. 

The first half of the route was different to that of previous year and I actually preferred the old one - along the Thames, Woolwich, The Call Boy pub... Cycling through Lewisham was not the best and I am glad we were cycling at speed. Someone was having a disagreement and attempting to throw a bottle at the window of a pub. It was a plastic bottle and as karma would have it, said bottle bounced off the window and hit them in the face. 

We reached the halfway stop in good time and a feast awaitied us. I had difficulty staying awake and conversation was pretty minimal from everyone. 

We emerged into daylight and as always a little chillier. A boil in the bag needed to go on for a few miles. 

At one point our path was blocked by deep excavations. Very carefully, the gap in the fence was moved, allowing us to pass through and the fence placed back into place before we left. 

The sun started shining and it was a glorious morning. I had not actually utilised my battery at all so far but it was nice to know it was there. 

The morning sunshine produced some great scenery and country lanes provided for some lovely cycling. 

When we got to view of the Dartford crossing, the phones were out for several photos. 

As we arrived at Faversham the church with its unusual spire came into view. Sadly, we did not stop there long enough for any more photos. 

The point came where we reached the last turn from which we could cycle at our own speed and ride ahead of the ride leader. At this I turned the power on and headed off. Perhaps it was being tired but it has not occurred to me that above 15.5 mph, I would be powering my Brompton! It was only when I stopped at a set of traffic lights when I arrived at Whitstable and them moved off, that the power kicked in. 

Arriving back at Whitstable station, I was on the 08:28. It was a very busy train and the journey took almost 90 minutes. A lovely nocturnal adventure. Many thanks to Kim for leading and also Claire who acted at temporary ride leader for a bit, Tim for the wonderful food, my fellow cyclists and of course Geoff. 

I arrived back at Victoria station and headed for home. It would be almost 7 miles and the power was on and I loved it. As I neared home the rear was not doing what it should. It was as if the wheel was stuck. Upon closer inspection the rear hub is definitely f@#%ed internally. No way that it should have gone like this on a new bike. I will now have to take it to a dealer and see if the fabled Brompton after care is what people say it is. I will let you know about that one!

So, I was unable to take the Brompton Electric on the Ride100. I will post a blog about that in a few days. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Friday 10 May 2024

Brompton be seen lights

To go with my new Brompton Electric I decided to get a set of the Brompton 'Be Seen' lights. These are a small and compact set of light, front and rear, specifically designed for the Brompton.

The lights come in the buff packaging that most Brompton bits seem to come in now and have all the part and bits needed to fit them. 

The front light sits on a little bracket in front of the brake lever. It is a clever design and works rather well. I have my Wahoo mounted on the handlebar directly above this light and it doesn't get in the way at all. 

The rear light has a bracket that fits perfectly into any Brompton saddle. On my Superlight saddle this is seamless and works really well. 

Operating the lights is via a small button and one quick press and the lights do their thing. The lights also remember what mode you were last in, which is very handy.

Charging is via an enclosed micro USB port and takes 1.5 hours. (One cable is enclosed in the pack). It is a pity that the lights are not charged via USB C. I suspect this might a thing in a future version perhaps. 

Both lights do a very good job of doing exactly what they are meant to do. They can be seen from quite a distance and all the modes work well.  There are four modes. High (lasting 2 hours). Low (lasting 5 hours). Flash (lasting 25 hours). Pulse (lasting 10 hours). I tend to leave them both on flash mode and they are good for both day and nocturnal cycling. 

Naturally, I do beef these lights up a great deal when cycling at night with other much more powerful lights - front lights that illuminate the way ahead. I do like these lights and both almost disappear on the Brompton, becoming part of it. Definitely worth a look but of course if you have anything other than a Brompton saddle the rear light cannot be used. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Sunday 5 May 2024

Brompton amble in London

The other week, still testing out the motor and battery of my Brompton Electric, I went for an amble in London. I had no particular place to go - a little like the song - but headed vaguely south from N6.

I started my ride taking a photo of my Brompton leaning against a lampost. To my back, is a house owned by ex-Python Terry Gilliam. I have yet to see him wave from one of the windows after several years. Surely just a matter of time!

The weather looked changeable and in the distance, the London skyline was hazy - a sign that inclement weather might be on its way.

Heading past Belsize Park and towards Primrose Hill,  I stopped at a block of flats I have always liked for the stairs leading up to the upper floors. 

I got to Westminster at bang on 10:00 am as you can see in the photo. To my left there is a collection of old red telephone boxes, tourists patiently queue up in a long line to wait and have their photos taken. I cannot think of anything worse but perhaps - like most Londoners -  I take living in London and its many sights for granted. 

Normally I head across the Thames and cycle along the Thames on the south side. Today I decided to cycle along Embankment and stopped for a few photos. 

Rather than take a photo of Cleopatra's Needle - that dates from around 1450 BC - I decided to take one of the two bronze faux-sphinxes. Many say that if you deliberate hard enough, you will probably think of a family member or friend who has a face quite similar to them. I pondered this as I cycled further on...

London was rather quiet. I suspect that this is a throwback to the dreaded C word. Many city workers work from home now and parts of the square mile are much quieter than they were.

I stopped to take a photo of Tower 42. A few years ago I was fortunate to be invited many times by the Urban Birder and gentleman that is, David Lindo to go to the very top and take in the incredible views for several hours. I was supposed to be there to contribute to a bird migration survey but I think David knew I was sort of there for the views.  As I took the photo a few memories played in my mind of this. If you search my blog, there might be a couple of posts about this, from the many times I went up there. 

One of my first blog posts where I Brompton I bought arrived, saw me amble around London with my then new Brompton. The photo below almost recreates - by accident - almost the same location I took one all those years ago. When I think of the sort of rides I like doing, night rides and ones like these in London, are probably my favorite. 

At the Lloyds Building I stopped taking photos and decided to turn on the battery for the Brompton Electric and put it on power 1 - my preferred setting if I am going to use it. My knee has felt pretty good of late and I have found the motor to be my safety net. For most rides, so far I have found that I do not need it unless I am ascending a bit lump in the road. When this happens the ability to cheat is wonderful!

Until next time, stay safe out there people!