“There’s no point buying a Brompton, then have it collecting dust like everything else. Are we sure we’re going to use it?”
I remember Stephen suggesting that we walk up to the shops. I remember most of the conversation – well, the important bits anyway (i.e. everything after he said he wanted to buy me a Brompton that afternoon). Usage was the last hurdle to overcome to justify the purchase.
Turns out neither of us need to have worried. One year on and not only do we now have four Bromptons (more on that later) but I almost never leave the house without my original ‘Brommie’ (who doesn’t have a name, but occasionally I think of as “Red” – yes, very original, I know).
Going to work? Brompton & Game Bag
Going to the shops/into the city? Brompton & Folding Basket
Going to the gym? Brompton & Mini O
Going on a club ride? Brompton & either Folding Basket or Mini O
Going away for a weekend? Brompton & Game Bag (or T-Bag) plus rear Rack Sack
Going on a longer holiday? Brompton & a suitable front bag
In fact, the only time I don’t take my Brompton is when we go out for breakfast or dinner – well ok, that has been known to happen now and then, too.
And there’s seemingly no end to the range of Brompton-themed accessories you can buy to remind you of your awesome Brommie while you’re not riding it. Here’s two I’ve acquired so far:
But it wasn’t like this right from the start…
The very long discussion about possibly buying a Brompton for me (and maybe even one for Stephen) was mainly because we thought my bike would just be used for weekend leisure rides, and to enable me to keep up with Stephen we he went for a run (jogging is not my favourite activity).
Despite my initial doubts, I found (from my very first test ride at Velo) that riding a Brompton was really fun! So much fun that Stephen had to get one too – I wasn’t going to be denied this pleasure – it was his turn to keep up now!
Soon after acquiring our Bromptons, we met Stanley and Elsie (whose idea it was to set up the Melbourne Brompton Club “MBC”), and along with Cory we’ve kicked the whole thing off as a proper group doing bike rides, not just a Melbourne-based Facebook fan page.
With everything coming along well, we agreed to start a Melbourne Brompton Club blog post, and Twitter account, and I really started to feel the whole Brompton-goodness vibe.
But my riding was still limited to weekends. I would catch public transport to work – a combination of trams, trains and walking. Both directions would take over an hour (often depending on what time I left home or the office and pure luck), but it was far better (and cheaper!) than driving a car! As for riding… I’d heard that Melbourne roads are dangerous…
And so the status quo may have continued, except Stephen was away for a week in August, and I was left to my own devices. Out came the Brompton.
I was sensible. I took the safer and easier option to get to work, riding into the city using bike lanes, catching a train out to my closest station, and riding along the back streets to work from there. Quickly getting the hang of this, it wasn’t too long before I was riding the whole way to work, learning from the other cyclists around me what’s safe – and not so safe – to do.
I’ve learnt a LOT from riding my Brompton. With MBC I’ve explored more of Melbourne than I think I would have otherwise. I’ve learned little tips and tricks that only other Bromptoneers know and share amongst themselves – things you don’t think of until someone asks the question.
I’ve learned how to fix a puncture and change both of my tyres – both of which go hand-in-hand with how to adjust my gears. How to swap a saddle, how to remove my seat post, how to tighten my brakes (small adjustments, anyway), how to clean and lubricate my Brompton properly, how to signal my intentions to those following, or warn them of hazards…
I’ve learned when I’m riding on a busy street that my ears are pretty good at being the eyes I need at the back of my head, since I’ve already got one eye on the cars parked on my left, and one eye on the path/road and one eye on the cars driving on my right (and I only have two eyes!). I’ve learned that most drivers will respect your right to share the road (especially if you clearly indicate your intentions), but poor local planning and our addiction to private motor cars can foster hazardous situations. I’ve learned to be thankful of my small wheels and neat turn which have saved me from one or two mishaps…
I’ve learned that the only time I really need a car is when we go on holidays. I used to rely on public transport (PT), now I think it’s a waste of time (to catch it the whole way, at least) – especially since riding to work is faster, cheaper and I arrive more alert and in a better mood. Not to mention that solely relying on PT is a wasted opportunity to ride my bike! No longer will I be stuck if there’s a traffic incident or broken tram, or train delays. I’ve learned to love the independence my Brompton gives me; I understand why people are so addicted to their cars – I feel exactly the same way about my Brompton! Only the more I put in, the more I get out of it.
I’ve learned that when I don’t have a choice I’m happy to ride anything – but nothing makes me as happy as my Brompton does.
Of course, I’m still learning things all the time. But the absolutely best thing I’ve learned this past year is that the more I ride my Brompton, the more I LOVE it!
It’s not quite the same Brompton that rolled out the front door of Velo 12 months ago; it’s now got a rear rack (a MUST for anyone who regularly shops with their Brompton or pushes it around folded) and I’ve recently bought Marathon Plus tyres because the streets I commute on are full of glass. I dare say over time there will be one or two more modifications, adjustments or replacements made.
Not only is my Brompton not “lying around, collecting dust” as we worried it might, we’ve gone so far as to buy two Back-up Bromptons (or BuB’s for short) just in case we have a surprise flat tyre (and no time to fix it) as we’re leaving for work of a morning, or one of our original Bromptons is at Velo for a service, or some of my family decide to visit and we want to take them for a ride on ‘proper’ bikes.
(Yes, we got in quick and snatched up two of the 2016 black editions – an M6L (orange) and a H6L (blue). If I wasn’t so attached to my Red B… What lucky family I have!)
Having come so far in just one year, I can’t wait to see what this year brings! More Brompton adventures, for sure. If you could see my thoughts, I’m sure they would look something like this (click on the image for a larger picture):
But there’s always room for more Brompton-goodness! Bring on 2016!