Monday, 28 December 2009

Christmas with the Brompton

I was away for Christmas but of course I packed the Brompton into the boot of the car with the presents and took it with me. The snow was gone by Christmas Day and I cycled back to Greenwich Park passing the runners and dog walkers. I cycled to the Royal Observatory which was free of tourists due to the holiday and I got a grand if cloudy view.

On Boxing Day the sun was out and I cycled to Ladywell Park. I saw more runners on the paths. I used to go for a run on Christmas Day, but I can’t run everyday unlike with cycling and I don’t need special clothing to do it either. In truth I am a fair weather runner.

I was given a copy of David Byrne’s book Bicycle Diaries for Christmas and I have just started reading. I am keen to know about his travels on his folding bike.

Walking in the snow

On Monday 21st December we got more snow. This time it fell on a wet surface so just beneath the white carpet is a layer of ice, hence the crunching sound underneath the wellington boots. Too risky for a bicycle or a car so I got out my paisley print wellington boots which are an old Christmas present. I only use them twice a year when we get snow.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Snow & the Brompton

The video is of the moment snow hit at midnight on Friday in South London. By morning we had the usual transport meltdown. Trains were running late, cars sliding in the slush, long cues at the bus stops. I had an appointment at Liverpool Street at 2.30 pm and I needed to carry four files of papers. At first I planned to use the Trek, because of the ice on the road, go to the railway station and then cycle from London Bridge. But as I said the trains were running very late. So I got out the Brompton and the large pannier I rarely use but it was perfect. I was able to get to the Dockland Light Railway which was working and make my way into town and back. No problems cycling on the slush and ice or cycling with a very heavy load in poor weather. It started snowing again as I was on my way back to Bond Street tube station. In poor weather I am always grateful for a folding bike.

Shame the snow came a week early. I bet we have a sunny Christmas day.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Bobbin Bicycles

I went to Bobbin Bicycle shop on Tuesday after work. They now have a lovely store in Angel full of traditional upright bikes. The last time I went they were in a basement in Clerkenwell, not too far away. You had to ring for an appointment so that someone could meet you for the sale. They didn’t have any baskets for the Brompton, I subsequently got one from Velorution. Now I have the Trek for my local journeys I wanted a proper basket for the front.

Getting the Trek from South London to North London during the weekday wasn’t too much of a problem as my work appointment was in the afternoon and I could travel on the train into Charing Cross outside the designated commuter travel times when no bikes other than folding bikes like the Brompton can travel. Then it was weaving my way through traffic from Fleet Street up to Angel via Holborn. I notice that I am less confident on the Trek than when I am cycling on the Brompton. The Brompton has a faster response time which is handy when you are cycling in areas when you are not used to the traffic flow. I had a Brompton cyclist whiz past me reminding me how of fast a Brompton can go when necessary.

My hands were really cold when I got to Bobbin and I didn’t want to stay long, but the staff were truly welcoming and friendly. They have a room full of baskets of all types including a covered Little Red Riding Hood type. Basket heaven! However the Trek is a hybrid and they are a little bit more difficult to fit. I brought the Trek into the shop and we tried out the various baskets until I found my perfect match. My basket clips on and off and I can use it as an additional bag. I also got a new bell. They had boxes full of bells and horns.

As for the bikes they looked beautiful and the prices were very reasonable. If I didn’t live on or around hills and if I didn’t have to carry my bikes upstairs to get into my home I would have gone for a three speed traditional bike as my second bike. Still I do love my Trek T30 Navigator and whoever designed it was taking their references from traditional upright bikes. With the basket on the front the Trek looked at home in the Bobbin shop.

My rating for Bobbin Bicycles is now a 9. The shop is a feast for the eyes. They spent time with me ensuring that what I wanted matched my needs and they did the fitting for free. I would have stayed longer to look at the various panniers and other bags but I had more shopping to do in Oxford Street.

Now I understand why I see so many cyclists in the Islington area, they are buying from Bobbin.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Snow & swans


We had snow today, but I went to Blackheath on the Trek. The snow didn’t really settle on the ground but I got iceflakes on my lashes. I was warm enough in the big fake fur coat I have for these occasions but my fingers got a bit cold. As I passed the pond on the heath at I saw swans and cygnets flapping around in the icy water. Just as I worrying about how they will get food and why haven’t they gone south, someone came out to feed them.

Despite the very cold weather in London over the last couple days I have seen plenty of cyclists still peddling around but with bags of shopping. Pedaling is the best way of keeping warm.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Bloke & Basket

I noticed this basket first as it was going across Oxford Street then I saw it was being carried by a man who was returning to his chained up bike. I had to ask him where he got the basket and he told me it came from the bike shop Bobbin as did his bike. I had been to Bobbin before but they have now moved to bigger premises in Angel. Bobbin sell traditional upright bikes and lots of accessories. I’ve been thinking about getting a wicker basket for the Trek so I think I will be making a trip to Angel to check out the new Bobbin shop.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Cycling at night

I had forgotten to get onions, tomatoes and potatoes (what was I thinking) so I had to make a second trip to the supermarket. I haven’t done any night cycling since I first got the Brompton. I mean choosing to wait until it is very late and then going out on the bike. This worked for me back then because I was still re-learning to ride and I felt it was safer to do it at night on quiet roads.

I took the Trek because I wanted a slow journey (still woozy from a Friday night out) and I had to get up the hills.

These are the Christmas lights outside the supermarket where inside customers were treated to a medley of Christmas songs. But I was listening to ‘Christmas Wrapping’ by The Waitresses on my iPod.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Cycling in thigh high suede boots

I have added another pair of boots to my collection. These are from Zara and are very long. No problems pedalling on the Brompton and I was very warm. On this journey I took my first Tram trip with the Brompton from East Croydon to Mitcham. Which made me realise that the only form of public transport I have not taken the Brompton on is a bus.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Bike baskets

Bike baskets are loveable but often not very practical. I admire all those cyclists who use them on a regular basis.

The first two were seen outside Angel Station and the other was outside Archway Station

Friday, 4 December 2009

Finsbury Park Cycle Park


I had an appointment in Crouch End and I took the Brompton on the train to Finsbury Park tube station and then cycled the rest of the way up Crouch Hill into Haringey. I found a large Cycle Park just outside the station across the road. You can’t miss the giant stainless steel sign of a bicycle. (Subtle and obvious.) This park is run by Transport for London and has an attendant during the week. The cost of parking is nothing compared to what it would cost to park a car outside a station (50p for 24 hours). Sadly cycle parking outside stations is bit like a ‘lucky dip bag’ you don’t know what you will find until you get there and you may get lucky or not. There are a couple bike stands outside my own station but I would never leave my bike (Brompton or Trek) as it isn’t secure enough.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Green Brompton

I caught this Brompton while crossing platforms at London Bridge. In fact I saw three Bromptons in the space of three minutes.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Cold fingers

It is now too cold to cycle without gloves. I got these royal blue leather gloves last year from Marks & Spencer with a gift voucher I had been given. I have only been using them occasionally because I was worried I would get chain oil on them. When I first got the Brompton I seemed to get spots of oil on my gloves which hid the stains because they were black leather. I was still getting use to folding and carrying the bike back then. But my black leather gloves have now split from age and use. I am reluctant to buy another pair when I have these blue ones and a pair in dark brown. I will have to wait for another voucher.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Back on the Brompton

This week I’ve been working from home finishing off a report and it finally went off by email this afternoon. I am now playing catch-up with everything. The Google Reader is stuffed and I will be surfing the net this weekend.

I took the Brompton out after sunset to go to my local Post Office with various invoices. I haven’t used the Brompton for ages and this was the first trip using just the battery lights. I didn’t realise how much I had missed cycling until I was peddling around the common.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Brompton lights - On Off!

I haven’t been on a bike for a week. At first I was unwell then it was the very windy wet weather and for the last couple days the Brompton has been at Compton Cycles as I decided to have the dynamo lights removed.

Thanks for all those who sent advice on lights, it made me realise that I really didn’t need them and I was fed up with the fact they had become unreliable. Compton Cycles confirmed that Brompton have changed the dynamo lights since I got my bike. The final straw for me was the wear on the rear tyre made by the dynamo.

I collected the Brompton today and I was so pleased to get it back. No charge from Compton Cycles (thank you thank you).

After discussion with Compton Cycles I am thinking about upgrading to Titanium but I am not sure I am ready to sell my Brompton. I love it.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Cycling in New York

I got this video by Street Films in a link from the London Cycling Campaign e-newsletter. I try to get to New York every other year and I was last there in 2008. I didn’t see any cyclists in Manhattan (I saw a parked folding bike) but I think the cycle lanes are on the outskirts of the city.

Good to see that NYC bike community is supportive of each other and it doesn’t matter what or how they ride.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Beryl Walker still cycling at 84

This is an amazing clip of Beryl Walker who at 84 cycles around the streets of Gloucester delivering newspapers. From what I can see it looks like she is riding a Raleigh Cameo bike too!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Prada Mary Jane shoes

These heart stopping shoes by Prada were seen on a rare trip to Harrods yesterday. I felt too shy to ask the price but I guess they are probably the cost of a basic three speed no frills Brompton. Mary Jane shoes are for me the best type of shoe, apart from boots to cycle in.

I had to go to Harrods to collect a book when I came across an exhibition of Red Shoes by various designers to celebrate the 70 anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland as Dorothy in her red sparkling slippers is an enduring film image. You can even buy a limited edition copy of the shoes and part of the money goes to a children’s charity. I did take photos of the various designer red shoes studded with crystal but a combination of harsh lights and glass cases meant none of them are clear enough to post.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Too wet to cycle

It rained for most of the day. Hard rain too. With all the hills I have to get over in South London I usually cycle in the wet with the brakes partly on so that I can stop in time. However I don’t think the Brompton is built for a lot of surface water so no cycling for me this weekend.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Burly man with Pink Brompton

I was walking down Regents Street this lunch time and I caught sight of this man making a turn onto this side street, jump off and then stroll off into the distance. The picture is a bit fuzzy as I was struggling to get the camera out the bag before he disappeared.

I’ve just noticed the woman with the Orla Keily bag in the foreground. I’ve been thinking about getting one of these bags which are made of vinyl and come in vintage prints.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Brompton dynamo lights

Sadly my Brompton dynamo lights have let me down again. The lights have not worked consistently since the bike got the service in August. I had a few hiccups at the beginning when I first got the Brompton but the lights worked fine after this. Now I get the front or the rear light, rarely both together. Because of the hospital trips I have not had time to get to Comptons to sort out the problem.

Luckily I have always had backup LED lights. I am not sure about the make of mine. I got them at the same time as the bike and Comptons just put them on. They are larger than the ones on my Trek bike but I was really concerned to be seen at the beginning and I used them with the dynamo lights. When the dynamo lights work you get a good bright light and the rear light retains light for about three minutes after you stop pedalling. I was never happy with the placement of these lights on the Brompton. I think they are too low, but where else can they go.

Now I am considering removing the dynamo lights. It will be less weight to carry. Not much, but less. I also don’t see the point of keeping them if they are not going to work. The only problem with the LED lights is that most of them have the habit of switching on when they get knocked in the bag and of course at the wrong time the battery is dead.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Cyclists who don't like Cycle Chic

I saw a link in a post by Sheffield Cycle Chic to a blog by a woman cyclist who doesn’t like cycle chic. It has of course whipped up a lot of attention. I read the post which included a photo of a woman cyclist who was undressed, that is wearing tight Lycra shorts and top with her midriff exposed, cycle shoes, speed helmet and gloves as the bloggers example of proper cycle attire. I started to read the comments but then stopped and left.

I stopped reading because it doesn’t matter that she doesn’t like Cycle Chic. She is entitled to have an opinion. From what I read she feels that cycling in heels is a backward step for women and looks strange. I applaud that she is a feminist but it is apparent that she did not know that the point of feminism was to give choice to women and freedom also means choices that to others may not appear appropriate. In this case some women may cycle in heels and some don’t. Does it matter if one group thinks the other strange when the real goal is to promote cycling in all it’s forms.

I also wonder if she just had a problem with high heels off or on a bike. That’s ok too. Not every woman likes or wears high heels and neither should anyone feel they must conform to doing so. But never underestimate the power and force of fashion and style in our lives. People who are anti-fashion are just as caught up in being ‘anti’ as those who adhere to fashion trends but consider that they are not playing the same game. What we wear is important to our psyches and is a marker of our identity. Linda Grant novelist and academic outlines the importance of clothes in her great book ‘The Thoughtful Dresser’. The uniform of the Sport Cycle tribe sends the message ‘take me seriously because I take cycling seriously just like an athlete’. Economically this is a powerful group as a lot of money is spent on high end bikes, specialist clothing and accessories. So much money on looking just like other sport cyclists is odd to me. But then there is the comfort of fitting in when you wear a uniform. To each his or her own.

I also felt that perhaps she has missed the point of Cycle Chic which is to get more people back onto bikes and cycling just as an everyday ‘no big deal’ event. The Sport Cycle tribe attracts other people who wish to take cycling seriously. That’s great for them but I don’t want to be part of this tribe. I am not a cyclist but a woman who happens to cycle (in her own clothes) and I am interested in people who do this too.

It would be interesting to know the research of what type of cyclist attracts more non cyclists to cycling.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Cycling in the rain and the dark

I got wet last night getting home from a visit at Lewisham Hospital. I forgot to check the BBC weather site or the Yahoo weather report on my iPhone so I didn’t realise it was going to rain. I am a wimp when it comes to rain and I would have considered driving except that it is impossible to get parking space at the hospital and the surrounding area. If you manage to get a space it is also expensive. But at least there is parking for cars. There are no cycle racks for visitors at the hospital but I have seen hospital staff take their bikes (including a red Brompton) into the hospital. I had to lock the Brompton to the railing near the entrance. (I feel a letter of complaint coming on.)

If I had known it was going to rain I would have taken my big yellow rain cape. I wasn’t keen on cycling in the dark in the rain with Friday night traffic but it was ok. I did have lights, my reflector Sam Brown belt, reflector ankle strap and orange hat by Fred Bare. Still in the rain I would have preferred the cape.

Once again I have nothing but praise for my M&S suede boots which repelled the rain and kept me warm and dry all the way home.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Pink Shoes

I am still getting used to the cold so I decided to cheer myself up and go and try on shoes I have no intention of buying.

This pink patent courts are by New Look. They have a hidden platform so to the wearer they are not as high as they appear.

I think these would work very well on the bike as the pink colour would be seen on dull winter days.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Brompton bag vs Timbuk2

It’s been a busy week on and off the bike. After my recent post on the rack and front bags I got out my zip top Brompton front bag and used it on a recent journey to Dagenham.

I know why I don’t use this more often.

  • It is not big enough for all the stuff I like to carry around. It is like packing a suitcase that you don’t want to open more than once. I lost my first iPhone when I unpacked the Brompton bag to get out my purse and I left it behind. When I went back it was gone.
  • The Brompton bag has a dark interior means I can’t just look in and see where anything thing is. This a minor but important design point. The bigger the bag the more important the interior is a bright colour, especially if you are looking for things like keys. The Brompton zip top doesn’t have a key holder like my Timbuk2 bag.
  • I can’t get anything else into the bag should I stop off to do some shopping. With the Timbuk2 I can always get more in and expand the straps to everything hold in. As demonstrated yesterday when I had to get a t-shirt from H&M, stop off to get printer inks and then pop in to get lunch from M&S. All got thrown into the ever expanding Timbuk2 which was already carrying the bike lock, papers and my Asus Netbook.
  • All Brompton bags come with a frame that allows the bag to sit on the front block. It is a great idea, but in practice it is not comfortable when you have the bag slung across your back when the bike is folded. This is because it is not really designed to be used in this way so I can’t really complain. But the discomfort is enough to put me off using it.
  • All Brompton bag straps are too narrow!! Big no no. Even if you are not using the bag as a messenger bag at some point you do have to carry the bag because you are folding the bike and the strap just cuts into your shoulder. Brompton should have provided wider straps like those with my Ortlieb and Timbuk2. In fact the Ortlieb comes with a detachable pad for the shoulder strap which I use on my Brompton bags. I don’t need it for the Ortlieb which is nice and wide.
I am now so used to either carrying my bags on my back or strapping them on the back of the bike that I don’t find it easier to hook a bag on the front any more.

1.  Me with my second iPhone and M&S leather boots
2. The Brompton zip top front bag and frame.
3.  The Timbuk2, now approaching it's second winter

Monday, 19 October 2009

Brompton rear rack and bags

I got a question from J today asking me how often I use my rear rack.

Answer. A lot.

Although I wax lyrical about my basket I don’t use it for everyday ‘got to get to work right now’ setting. In fact I don’t use my Brompton pannier or Brompton zip front bag that often either. I will use my black front bag for the odd occasion when I need to look professional for work as it carries papers and folders and looks smart.

The bags I use most of the time are my messenger bags and now I have added my non messenger shoulder bag by Esprit. I used my Timbuk2 bag all through the winter last year. When I wasn’t using that I used the Ortlieb zip city which always provokes a where did you get that bag question from non cyclists.

You can see from the photos why I need the rack. I carry a lot of stuff or acquire stuff during the day. I start out in the morning with the bag on my back, but by the end of the day I put it on the rack for the final journey home.

Why use a messenger bag and not just the clip the bag on and off the bike at the front?

I prefer the look and style of a messenger bag. I find it surprising that Bromptons come in a wide range of colours but the bags are a little dull by comparison. (I have heard that this is about to change very soon.) It is also faster not to have to remove a bag and fold the bike quickly when I have to get on a train or the tube. Of course this doesn’t work when I have to strap a bag on the rack.

So if you aren’t going to need to carry a lot of stuff and can get away with just a front bag and/or a messenger bag then save the cash. I don’t regret getting the rack and I would do it again.

Buying a Brompton

A couple weeks ago I got an email requesting advice on buying a Brompton from someone in Canada. Here is the response I sent, but I don’t know if it was helpful as they didn’t let me know what happened.

Dear M

I have a 6 speed Brompton, M Type with tyre dynamo lights and Eazy wheels. As you can see I got the basic Black but there are lots of fabulous colours to choose from.

If I was starting again I would still go for the M Type, but with Titanium frame because I do a lot of folding and carrying of my bike when I am travelling across London and using public transport. I am now used to the weight of the bike but it is heavy to carry up and down stairs. For the first few months I was really tired.

I would also not have the dynamo lights to cut down the weight for me. I have additional battery lights and find LED lights are much better and safer than dynamo lights

What I found very useful was the Eazy wheels. When the Brompton is folded and you just need to push it along these wheels turn the bike into a little trolley. Be sure to check you have the Eazy wheels which are larger than the little wheels that come as standard on a Brompton. A few Brompton owners have asked me how come I was pushing my Brompton as a trolley much more easily than they could then they noticed they didn't have the same wheels. Oh yes I forgot I have a rear luggage rack too.

As for handling and cycling. The 6 speed has been brilliant for me as it gets me up most hills. Despite what I said about the weight of the standard frame for carrying, the Brompton is a fairly light bike for cycling and if you have the leg power and inclination you can speed along with the Sporty types. When cycling in rush hour in the city of London I have noticed that other non-Brompton cyclists are surprised that I can keep up with them or in some cases move faster, even though I have not trying to race them.

As you can see from my blog I also have a Trek bike but this is definitely a slower ride compared to the Brompton.

I haven't had any problems with the gears or the bike itself. It is tough. I have had to replace the seat. You will see that Brompton have now upgraded the seat and it is much stronger. I did have a few problems with the dynamo lights due to loose wiring but were easily fixed at no extra cost to me.

As for bags, I personally didn't like the Folding basket. I think is is a little overpriced for what it does and it is not as attractive as an actual wicker basket. The one I have is not by Brompton. When I first started cycling I got and constantly used the Touring pannier, which is easy to clip on and off, and does carry a full load of shopping. Eventually I didn’t want to carry something, which was that large, and I got a smaller Brompton zip top bag, which they don't seem to make anymore. I love mine because it comes with a strap for my shoulder. I think the new messenger bag on the Brompton site is the replacement.

While it is great to have a bag when you buy the bike, get the bike first and find out what your needs are before investing in a bag as they are expensive. You will then know whether you need or want a bag or whether you can get by with strapping an ordinary bag on the back or carrying it across your shoulder.

The one item I brought but never used was the bike Cover and Saddlebag. Some rail networks in the UK require your folding bike to be covered when you are travelling by train. But I discovered that this isn't a problem for any of networks I use in London.

I do love my Brompton and it is always a thrill to see another owner when I am out on the bike. If I got another one I would go for a colour, like, orange or blue.

Finally, I do have a super strong (and heavy) D ring lock. But recently I have not been carrying the lock with me because I can fold the bike and push it into a shop. At work I just fold it completely and it can be tucked away in a corner or under a desk. When I went to the Tate Museum recently the bike was put in the cloakroom for free. When folded the Brompton is smaller than a lot of suitcases and lighter too.

I hope the above has been helpful. Enjoy your test ride

Suede shoe.

Above is a photo of my Brompton when it was all shiny and new, with the large pannier I now rarely use, the old saddle before it split, and the bike pump before it got mangled.  Still loved by me.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Looking after shoes - the bare minimum

Looking after shoes is painless compared to a bike. First thing I do with a new pair shoes is to spray them with a leather protector. This keeps the rain and light dirt off. If I spray well enough it should protect the shoe in a good down pour. I mean a light spray that is then repeated an hour or more later. The only pair of shoes I haven’t sprayed immediately are my new M&S black suede boots which come ‘protected’.

I keep most of my shoes in boxes. I will use the box they came in until I get a set of shoe boxes from Lakeland. These are clear and I can see where each pair are. I now have boot trees to support my boots when I am not wearing them, but before this I found that a couple of thick magazines rolled up does the same job.

I use a wire brush for any suede shoe and for leather shoes I will eventually use one of those sponge polishes in neutral.

Easy work.

'Tate Shoes' by the Spanish shoe company 'Art'.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

It's getting colder and darker

I can’t deny it any longer, autumn is here. How do I know this? 1 The large range of coloured tights that has appeared in H&M. 2 I went out to get groceries on the Trek at 3.30 pm when it was daylight but had to get out the lights at 6 pm to get home.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Raleigh Cameo

I almost fell over when I saw this bike parked beside my Brompton outside Selfridges in Oxford Street yesterday. It is a Raleigh Cameo which was the second bike I brought and owned until I sold it 1992. By this time I had passed my driving test and I didn’t think I would be cycling anymore. Before I got the car I did most journeys on my Cameo. My bike was made in the early 1980s but I am not sure when Raleigh stopped producing them. I had a quick trawl on the web and I can see that there are a few around for sale because they are beautiful classics.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Satelite navigation and cycling

My work commitments send me all over London and I am always printing off maps to take with me on the bike. This works well for 99 percent of the time. I have recently discovered the joy of my Google Map satellite navigation application on my iPhone. Twice when I have found myself cycling in the wrong direction I got out the iPhone and hey presto I could see exactly where I was and make the necessary adjustment.

It’s great that I can pinpoint precisely where I am, but I also find it slightly unnerving in a Will Smith Gene Hackman ‘Enemy of the State’ kind of way.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The Cycle Show

I went to the Cycle Show at Earls Court yesterday. Not sure, is my verdict. Lots of events and bikes but not a lot for everyday slow speed cyclists like me. But the purpose of the event was to promote cycling in all it’s forms and that is a good thing.

  • The Brompton bike park. Brompton was one of the sponsors of the event and it provided a free secure space for everyone to park their bikes.
  • The Ortlieb stand where I got a new catalogue and was able to see the full range of bags. I feel a purchase coming on.
  • The multi coloured Pashley bikes and the very cute child’s tricycle called Pickle. I wished I was 4 again.
  • The Transport for London, bike for hire stand. Bikes you can hire will soon be available at various points in London. Can’t wait. Not that I plan to use them, but I hope the scheme will get more people riding.
  • The Brompton stand. I talked with R. one of the guys from the workshop who I met last week and he advised me on how to upgrade parts on my existing bike to titanium and make it lighter by 1 kg (2.5 lbs).
Will I go next year? I don’t think so. As I said the event is to promote cycling in general and the event is mainly geared towards sports type cyclists. These cyclists spend more money on their bikes, special clothes and accessories. Slow cyclists just get on any old bike in what they are wearing, find a suitable lock and off they go.

I think what I would like is a Slow Cycle Show. With Dutch type old fashioned bikes, or just general slow speed (nothing over 6 gear) bikes. I would invite Copenhagen Cycle Chic to provide a photo or slide display and instead of celebrity gold medal cyclists I would invite celebrities who just cycle like, Will Self, Vivienne Westwood and Zandra Rhodes.

1. Purple Brompton - favourite colour this week.
2. Transport for London Bike Hire Stand
3. Green bikes by Dutch ID
4. Blue Ortlieb Zip City
5. Baskets at the Bikecruiser stand
6. Pashley Pickle trike.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Camper boots

I am very happy with my recent boot and shoe purchases but that doesn’t stop me from looking at shoes and boots and thinking about the next pair. I am wearing my M&S black leather boots so much they will wear out by December.

I tried on these boots by Camper and they are called Helena. I like Camper shoes. I have always wanted a pair of Camper shoes. I have tried on many pairs over the years but I haven’t made that first purchase.


They are beautifully made and well designed shoes but I think the styles look better on small feet. I don’t have small feet. They always have my size, but their shoes don’t look as nice in my size on my feet. Well, that’s my theory.

These boots are ok but I didn’t get a thrill. They would have to be very cheap before I got them and Camper shoes are not cheap.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Brompton World Championship -The London bike ride

At 6.30am on Saturday 3rd October I found out there was to be a cycle ride in the afternoon for Bromptons in London as part of the Brompton World Championship. A big race for Brompton owners which happens every year. This year at Blenheim Palace and hosted by Brompton. A reader had kindly sent me details about the race but it was full up when I went to check it out.

The cycle run started from Jubilee Gardens by the London Eye. About 50 Brompton owners turned up to cycle around the Southbank, Fleet Street, Bank and back again. Everyone I met had travelled either from outside London or from abroad. I met people who use their Bromptons, in Geneva, Milan and New York.

I felt guilty about not using the Brompton beyond London when clearly this bike can be taken around the world. I heard a rumour that the Championship is considering going to Japan. I will like to go to the Championship next year, if it is still in the UK.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Refund please

I arrived at Woolwich this morning with the Brompton to discover that there were delays on the Docklands Light Railway. The indicator stated 9 minutes until the next train, then went down to 8 and back up to 9 minutes. In the end I had to get a main line train into London Bridge at an extra cost to me because I can’t use the Oyster card. I was given a form to apply for a refund but I suspect that there may be some loop hole that says I don’t qualify.

I can’t wait until the New Year when the Oyster will be valid on all London networks.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Just had to get on the bike

I spent all day writing a report at home and by 5pm I needed to just get out, get some air and complete some errands (buy shampoo, post a letter, sign off on a storage unit). So I got on the Trek and started pedalling uphill and down.

I used Woolwich Church Road which is a fast moving road. I made a mental note to avoid it in future during the weekdays during the evening rush hour as this is the I must get home now traffic. It is fine at the weekends and outside the morning and evening peak traffic times.

My red Mary Janes go very well with the new purple raincoat.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Looking after a bicycle - the bare minimum

A thousand years ago when I got my first bike  l learned from a book how to fix punctures and replace tyres.  The bike I had back then had a basic three speed Sturmey Archer hub and removing a wheel was pretty easy.  But as  I said that was a thousand years ago. The only flat tyre I have had on the Brompton was when I damaged the valve recently.  If I do any real damage to this bike I can just fold it up and take it where I need to get to and put it into the boot of the car and take it to Compton Cycles for any repair. 
I am now more lazy.  I keep putting off booking a place on the cycle maintenance class that runs on a Tuesday evening in my area.  I now have the Trek and it will be easier to learn to change the tyre and do a repair myself than walk around London with a flat. 
In the meantime I keep up, when I remember, with the bare minimum for bike maintenance.  Keep the tyres at the optimum pressure.  This stops unnecessary tyre wear as well as keeps you speeding along.  I learned the hard way that you work twice as hard with a poorly inflated tyre.  I also learned that I don't have the strength to pump a tyre with a hand pump and I think they are only designed to re inflate a tyre to get you home after a puncture repair. The one I got with Brompton got twisted up in the spokes when it slipped off and I haven’t bothered to replace it.
My new standing pump does the job but is more effort than my foot pump. I feel as if I’ve been working out in the gym every time I use it.