September MBC Ride – Warm-up ride for Around The Bay!

Did I touch wood at just the right moment when reading the forecast for this weekend? Or did I throw a cat over my shoulder and not the let salt cross my path? Maybe it was because there were 8 of us on the ride…

However it was that today turned out to be so good when the forecast was for rain (and plenty of it), somehow luck came our way and no one was complaining about it, that’s for sure!

Gathering for our ride - I had thought it'd be raining today!

Gathering for our ride – I had thought it’d be raining today!

With our Around The Bay ride only two weeks away, this months’ ride was the perfect opportunity for a few of us to get a longer ride in before the big day. A 50km ride might not seem like much to some people, but we all have to start somewhere.

The ‘somewhere’ that we started today was Cow Up A Tree at Docklands. Say what you want about Docklands (and most people will), at least it’s colourful down there. Cory and Miss 10-and-a-half amused us with a game of imaginary table tennis while we waited for late-comers.

So close! But he missed the return shot! Table tennis at Docklands

So close! But he missed the return shot! Table tennis at Docklands

Reflections (Photo by Cory @baudmania)

Reflections (Photo by Cory @baudmania)

Ping pong over (I think they lost the ball) we decided no one else was going to show up and headed off to Footscray to follow the Maribyrnong River Trail. Making our way along Footscray Road it was impossible not to notice the large number of motorcycle riders roaring along. I didn’t think much of it until I noticed some of them seemed to be wearing suit jackets. Then when we stopped to cross the road, another wave of riders pulled up at the lights. I was fumbling too much with my phone in my pockets to be able to get a good photo of these smartly dressed folk on their mainly vintage motorbikes, but in answer to my “Are you doing a tweed ride?” as we crossed with the lights in front of them, the reply came back, “We’re the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride”. Although, if you’re prepared to dress up, ladies are also allowed to join in the fun!

Some of The Distinguished Gentleman's (and ladies) Ride 2016

Some of The Distinguished Gentleman’s (and ladies) Ride 2016 – not my best photo, I grant you, but I didn’t want to miss the traffic lights.

I hadn’t heard of The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride before, but it’s clearly a world-wide event. The ride raises money for the November Foundation, so good on them!

Group selfie - by Stanley @stanleytankh

Group selfie – by Stanley @stanleytankh

Riding along Dynon Road

Riding along Dynon Road

Unlike on previous rides, the Maribyrnong River Tail was very quiet today. No rowers in the river, not many walkers/joggers/bicyclists using the trail – it’s very clearly school holiday time. Even so, the path along the river is not quite wide – or deserted – enough to allow more than single-file riding food a good few k’s until we reached Chifley Drive.

Crossing the bridge to the north side of the river is your sign that the going is about to get a little tougher. There’s a nice switch-back section up a steep-sided hill, and five turns later when you realise there’s still more hill to climb, it can get tough…

Here they come! Miss 10.5 leading the way!

Here they come! Miss 10.5 leading the way!

But the view is worth it!

We all made it! (Without stopping!) Photo by @baudmania jnr

We all made it! (Without stopping!) Photo by @baudmania jnr

Cameras and phones came out to take advantage of the view, and shortly after that so did the snacks. And there we might well have stayed for even longer than we did, talking bikes, watching birds, eating Snakes (the confectionary kind!) had it not been for the cool breeze stealing our warmth.

The view is definitely worth the climb

Out of the sun the breeze definitely had a bit of a chill to it.

We didn’t go any further along the trail. At the bottom of the other side of hill the trail is unpaved, and given it’d rained pretty much all of last night, we’d be riding through mud. While I would have done so if the group wanted to, the thought of all that girt accumulating under my mudguards made me cringe – I’d already cleaned a Brompton this weekend! I was happy when we all decided to make the hill our turn-around point today.

Downhill! Yeah!

Downhill! Yeah!

Miss 10.5 showed off her cornering skills on the ride down the hill – you can really come a cropper if you try to take it too fast! – and proved that she too can ride a Brompton just as well as the rest of us! Whether the same can be said for Cory riding her bike, well… let’s just say one of the pair was more comfortable than the other with the swap.

Our little group split up on the ride back; Paul farewelled us at the bottom of the zigzag hill, Cory and Miss 10.5 waved goodbye shortly after we left the river. Stanley and I farewelled Greg, Adam and Monica on reaching Capital City Trail – they headed one way to get to the city via Docklands, we headed upriver and parted ways at Flemington Bridge.

On my own, heading for home at the end of another great ride.

On my own, heading for home at the end of another great ride.

If you’d like to see what riding along with us was like, check out Paul’s YouTube video:

While we don’t have an “official” time or distance for this ride, I’m sure we all enjoyed it (which is the main aim of all our rides). Good company, good luck with the weather, and another ride – our 50km Around The Bay – to look forward to in two weeks time!

If you would like to sponsor our efforts in this year’s Around The Bay, please click one of the links below. All donations – and ONLY the donations – go to support The Smith Family help needy children. The riders’ registration fees only pay for Bicycle Network to organise and run the event.

Cory / Velo Cycles Team (They’ll all be riding Bromptons!)

Dayna Andreussi

Paul di Sipio

Stephen Powell

Monica Wong

If you’re inspired to JOIN us on the ride you’d better get in quick! Register here.

Otherwise don’t forget these dates:

  1. September is almost over, therefore so is Brompton’s Demo Month and your chance to win a Brompton just by test riding a Brompton at your local dealer. More details in store. #TryBrompton
  2. If you can’t make the Around The Bay ride, Sydney is hosting their first Brompton Urban Challenge on Saturday 8 October 2016. Registrations close soon, so get in fast to enjoy this scavenger hunt-type ride around Sydney! Register here: http://www.brompton.com/Events/Posts/2016/Event-BUC-Sydney #BUCSYD
  3. Ride to Work Day is Wednesday 12 October – rain or shine, that is the one day you should definitely start (or re-start) your #Ride2Work goals for the year (if you haven’t already). Get some colleagues to do it with you, make it fun, grab some breakfast on the way. Velo Cycles is not just doing breakfast for those passing them on the Capital City Trail… they’re also taking care of people who #RideHomeFromWork! How fantastic is that?! #YourBikeYourWayEveryDay
  4. Our next end-of-month ride will likely be 30 October – we might even make it a themed ride (Halloween springs to mind again), but stay tuned for more details closer to the date.

Happy riding everyone! : )

Posted in Club Rides | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to clean a Brompton bicycle

A grungy sound coming from ‘somewhere below my saddle’ may just be what started my near-obsession with cleaning my Brompton. I’d only had my Brompton a short time, so to be told this worrying noise was simply caused by dirt under the rear guard was something of a shock, although given the fine (and damp) sandy/gravel surfaces I’d been riding it on, not too much of a surprise on reflection.

Mind you, Melbourne’s streets often don’t seem much better. A light rain shower and your brake pads to sound like sandpaper pressing against rims dirty from road grime. Some heavier rain and there’s sand washed all over the roads from tram tracks – along with other gutter muck.

Hmmm, a bit of mud accumulating there! The coating of #MelburnRoobaix mud went far beyond the girt accumulated on my usual commute

Hmmm, a bit of mud accumulating there! The coating of #MelburnRoobaix mud went far beyond the girt accumulated on my usual commute

It’s definitely time to clean your bike.

To do a thorough job, I allow myself a couple of unrushed hours. Cleaning my Brompton is a task I find relaxing and very satisfying, so I like to take my time. I do, however, appreciate that not everyone finds their zen in this fashion.

Pleasure or chore, cleaning your Brompton regularly means you’re giving it a close up inspection and potentially identifying a problem when it’s small rather than when it’s bigger and more costly to fix. A loose nut, a wobbly spoke, a bit of glass worming its way deeper into your tyre…

There are many ways to clean your Brompton. But first, here’s what NOT to do:

How to kill a Brompton - You should NEVER do this to you Brompton or direct any kind of hose toward your B's sensitive parts! #BromptonTorture #ICantUnseeThis

How to kill a Brompton – you should NEVER do this to your Brompton or any bicycle.

You do NOT want to get water in your hubs, nor do you want to force water into any other sealed parts such as the lower bracket, bearings or hinges.

Here’s what I prefer to use:

Brompton cleaning essentials

  • A clean, soft cotton rag to wipe off the dirt and grime. You can use paper towels if you have to, but you’ll go through a lot more.
  • Tooth picks to get dirt and grime out of hard to reach crevasses
  • Bicycle-specific wash for harder to clean bits and to wipe over the frame at the end
  • Brake & Metal parts cleaner for the seat stem – use with a separate, clean rag
  • Chain lube to re-lubricate the chain (heavy or light, depending on conditions)
  • Superglue to patch any holes in my tyres when I dig out fragments of glass
The other essential bit of kit, whether you use it on your Brompton or around the house or to open a beer, it's good to have.

The other essential bit of kit, whether you use it on your Brompton – or around the house – or to open a beer… It’s good to keep a toolkit in your frame.

Working from top to bottom, front to back, leaving the dirtiest parts (the sprocket(s), chainring and chain) until last, I clean or wipe over everything I see until there are no spots or smudges.

Don’t let the apparent simplicity of the front half of the bike misled you into thinking there isn’t much to clean. There are plenty of nooks and crannies around the brake calipers, getting the rag under the forks to do the guard properly, and don’t forget to polish up the headset and wipe grease from around the hinges.

Guaranteed to be dirty after any ride, the bottom bracket is easy to clean from the left side of your Brompton. Ensure the rag is clean if you wipe out the saddle stem tube.

I find a bit of bike wash on the rag really helps get some stubborn muck off the pedals.

The left (non-chain) side is always a bit cleaner (or less-dirty) so I do that side first. Release your rear triangle so you can inspect the frame from all angles as there is a lot to clean at this end. The spokes are much more likely to be dirty on the rear wheel due to their proximity to the chain, so definitely give them a wipe before you get to the hub.

After cleaning the frame parts, brake calipers, mudguard and struts on the chain side, it’s time to look at the chain tensioner and sprockets. A lot of grime builds up here, and there’s not much point trying to clean your chain if it’s just going to keep collecting grime from this area. Taking off the chain tensioner is not something I do every clean; you can still clean the sprockets to some extent with the chain tensioner still in place.

If you do take off the chain tensioner, why no go the whole hog and remove the wheel entirely. That’ll give you the best access to the inside of the rear triangle and the underside of the mudguard to clean!

If you have to take off your chain tensioner or rear wheel, it's a great opportunity to clean those hard to reach places

If you have to take off your chain tensioner or rear wheel, it’s a great opportunity to clean those hard to reach places

Chainring next; back, front and teeth.

And finally – the chain! Rub your cloth back and forth along the chain until it’s clean. If there are still globs of grim in between the links I use a tooth pick to poke them out. When I’m done cleaning off the grease, I re-lubricate my chain, wiping off any excess lube with a clean part of my rag.

Re-attach the chain tensioner, put the Brompton pump back on and your Brommie is clean again! If you didn’t do it before, now is a good time to check your tyres for glass and other foreign objects that might be about to cause a puncture. This job is much easier if you fully deflate your tyres first; when you squeeze the sides of the tyre it makes it much easier to pry the glass out of the tread with a toothpick or pair of tweezers. Seal the hole with a dab of superglue. Be careful not to flick glass into your eyes!

Check for glass and foreign objects

Check for glass and foreign objects

Wipe over with a squeeze of bike wash on a clean rag because you’ve probably touched something clean with dirty fingers somewhere, and you’re done!

So that’s how I prefer to clean my bikes, but when it rains on the way to work I have only a fraction of that time to clean up, so in 20min I’ll grab a few paper towels and towel off the water from my Brommie, making sure to give a quick wipe over the:

  • inside of the front forks
  • bottom bracket
  • rear triangle and just under the guard where grit builds up
  • rims, from & back (I usually wipe over the Stermy Archer hub and rear spokes while I’m there anyway)
  • chain (and re-lube if required)
Arriving after a wet commute - time to wipe down my Brommie

Arriving after a wet commute – time to wipe down my Brommie

I don’t have anything fancy to wash my hands with at work, but I’ve found a bit of chain lubricant does wonders to lift the grease and grime, before a squirt of liquid soap or washing up detergent finishes the job.

Rub in a small amount of chain lubricant where your hands are dirty, before adding soap, to clean your hands properly after cleaning your bike

Rub in a small amount of chain lubricant where your hands are dirty, before adding soap, to clean your hands properly after cleaning your bike

Now both you and your Brompton are clean again, it must be about time to go get dirty!

Almost like new again

Almost like new again

Happy riding! 😀

Posted in Member Stories | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Melbourne Brompton Club Monthly Ride – 28 August 2016

In preparation for our upcoming 50km Around The Bay ride, this month we’ve planned a longer ride – back to the Brighton Bathing Boxes!

We fit comfortably along the front porch of Box No 8 - Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes

We fit comfortably along the front porch of Box No 8

Meeting Point: Federation Square
Meeting Time: 9:30am
Destination: Brighton Bathing Boxes, west end of Dendy Street, Brighton East
Estimated Distance: 33km
Essential items: Food and drink

As this is a training ride there won’t be frequent stops for group photos (yes, I will survive!) and we will be trying to lift our average pace a little.

While we won’t leave any stragglers behind, if you don’t feel up to the return trip due either to unfavourable weather conditions (it can get windy around the bay) or tiredness, there are two train stations near to our turn around point – Middle Brighton and Brighton Beach stations.

We are not planning to stop for breaks on the way there or back, so you would be advised to bring enough drink and a snack (fruit, muslie bar) to munch on when we have a quick rest stop at Brighton Beach.

Don’t be afraid to join in. We have not turned into a “finish first or die trying” group. We are still about having a good day out, but at the same time want to lift the average pace and finish in a reasonable time.

Don’t hesitate to contact me by leaving a comment below (doesn’t have to be public – just say so and I won’t publish it) or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Getting close to Brighton's Beach Bathing Boxes!

Getting close to Brighton’s Beach Bathing Boxes!

Posted in Club Rides | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Melbourne Brompton Club does Around the Bay

Around the Bay – Ride for a Child in Need (formerly, BUPA Around the Bay, formerly Around the Bay in a Day) is a bit of a Melbourne staple and, really, something that any ‘cyclist’ needs to check off their list.

The ‘real’ around the bay is 210km (or a longer 250km route is available), however they also run shorter 165, 130, 100, 50 and 20km routes.

This year, a crew from MBC, as well as some of our good friends from Velo, are taking on the 50km route – and of course, all on Bromptons! From Alexandra Gardens (behind the boat sheds) it goes over the Westgate Bridge and down to Altona, then back again. (Yes, over the bridge a second time).

Bromptons in Williamstown

Bromptons in Williamstown

If you want to come along, you can register here.  The event is run by Bicycle Network and is extremely well supported.  It’s all on-road, but there’s great signage, wonderful volunteers and even some bike-only lanes to make it easier.

If you don’t want to ride, you can still help out with our fundraising by sponsoring here. (The Smith Family help to provide education to kids from underprivileged backgrounds.  Many Around the Bay riders mistakenly think their registration is going to The Smith Family – alas it is only sponsorships they receive).

Posted in Club Rides, NEWS | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why I bought a Brompton

I saw a guy with a Brompton folding bicycle in Adelaide a few years ago. It was green and shiny and a fellow was wheeling it past the convention centre. I hadn’t seen a Brompton before but I was fascinated by it. As an architect I was impressed with the engineering and not only how she folded, but the aesthetics that were unified, curved and quirky.

Then on a recent trip to Brussels in June 2016 I caught up my friend Adrian, who is also an architect, who I’d worked with in London 25 years ago. He had a second-hand ‘Brommie’ he used to commute to the city via a train. He showed me the ‘fold’…..gave me a ride up and down his local footpath in Warve and I fell in love again with riding and the design of this bike.

Adrian's Brompton in Warve, Belgium

Adrian’s Brompton in Warve, Belgium

I rode lots of bikes as a child in the western ‘burbs’ of Brisbane with the usual number of crashes, skids and gravel rashes. I seemed to spend my youth with a ‘scab’ on at least one limb!

In London I would commute between West Kensington and Chiswick in the early 1990s with a wonderful ride along the Thames past Hammersmith.

Hammersmith Bridge on my London bike commute

Hammersmith Bridge on my London bike commute

The ride was a mixture of back streets and promenades along the river bank. I rode for a full year enjoying balmy summers and even some snow in winter. I had bought from the landlord for £20 an old dutch bike with the basket on the front which was fantastic for shopping at the Northend Road Markets on Saturday mornings. I remember those youthful days in London of early marriage fondly and bike riding around London was so easy.

Our old flat in London as seen in June 2016

Our old flat in London as seen in June 2016

Shortly after seeing my Brompton-owning mate in Brussels in June, he came with us for an office reunion in London. We met at an old pub, the ‘Bell and Crown’, and I did a sentimental walk with my wife Mary along my old bike route to work beside the Thames. Later, on a walk through central London I stumbled upon a bike shop full of Bromptons. The pressure in my own mind was building! I wanted one! But how?

View from the Bell and Crown overlooking the Thames

View from the Bell and Crown overlooking the Thames

Adrian (left) and me at St Pancras International Station, London

My Bromptoneer friend Adrian (left) and me at St Pancras International Station, London

On return in early July to Australia I did more research on the Brompton website and became obsessed with the ‘Build your Brompton’ page and then saw a local Brisbane dealer Epic Cycles who gave me a test spin. I rode around the Stafford Primary School on the footpath.

Build a Brompton - my bike!

Build a Brompton – my bike!

After two more weeks of self-inflicted agony (can’t really afford it at present) I went in and ordered one that I took delivery of within a week. I went nuts and got a helmet, the S Bag (glad I did) and some lights and picked some colours that matched my ‘Fulton Trotter Architects‘ livery with a black frame and lime green extremities. The helmet and S bag also had the lime green so it was a nice looking package.

My New Brompton

So why a Brompton?

I fell in love with the look of them and their beautiful curves and colours. The portable nature provided so many commute options that I had never considered possible. The fact that they were designed and continue to be built in London was just fantastic and I knew the quality would be there. (It would be a big mistake to build them elsewhere.) The whole Brompton Story is just fantastic and counter the trend to build cheaper, nastier and crappier products somewhere else. As an Architect I admire good design and quality and want to be part of that narrative. For me I am always prepared to pay a premium for something well made and all the third party reviews confirmed this was the case.

My Brompton as posted by the Australian Distributor 'before I saw it'!

My Brompton as posted by the Australian Distributor ‘before I saw it’!

I think my emotional connection to London and riding in that great city had something to do with it?

I also own a pocket yacht / trailer sailer and the bike can also come along for a ride on our expeditions. She will fit neatly in the cabin and can be used on shopping expeditions when you turn up to a new mooring and the shops are a long walk away.

Me and my Brompton in front of my brother Christopher's Clock in Boonah, QLD

Me and my Brompton in front of my brother Christopher’s Clock in Boonah, QLD

The Brooks seat was also hard to resist and the up-selling of all the accessories worked a treat on me. The price? Expensive but……you get what you pay for!

Stay British!

Stay British!

So don’t get distracted Brompton….stay British, stay the course! I may even persuade my wife to get one but that is a big hill to climb.

Paul Trotter

Posted in Member Stories | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brompton World Championship Final – London, 2016

“We’re going all the way to London, for less than an hour.”

“Yep.”

Two Bromptons are still smaller than a regular bicycle! See you at the other end!

Two Bromptons are still smaller than a regular bicycle! See you at the other end!

It was true; the whole reason for our holiday to London – halfway around the world – was for a bicycle race that would be done and dusted in under an hour. Well under an hour, as it turned out. But as I’ve previously blogged, having won the chance to race in the 2016 Brompton World Championship Final – right outside the front of Buckingham Palace! – I wasn’t going to miss out!

I'd be racing down here in just over a week. (No, Stephen's not trying to hail a taxi)

I’d be racing down here, straight at Buckingham Palace, the following Saturday. (No, Stephen’s not trying to hail a taxi)

Given the effort required to get there we decided to make it into a proper holiday. Arriving about a week before the race, we had time to get over jet lag, acclimatise (that didn’t take long!), and familiarise ourselves with our location.

Taking our transport with us made everything so much easier! Bromptons are perfectly designed for travel and city living. We didn’t have the hassle or expense of hiring (and parking!) a car. We chose to wear helmets while riding around (except on one or two occasions) unlike many of the locals. Compared those at home, London drivers are much more aware of bicycle riders, and are so much more considerate and tolerant of other road users in general, that exploring London by bicycle was a real pleasure.

All too soon the big day arrived. Saturday, 30 July 2016 – day of the 11th Brompton World Championship Final!

Was I ready?

There are two ways to approach a Brompton World Championship (“BWC”). The first is to train hard, spec up your bike (as much as your budget will allow) and ride to win! The second is simply ride to have fun!

Which ever approach you choose (I’d chosen the second option), there is one more consideration all riders face before race day: what to wear. With a strict “No (visible) Lycra” policy, the dress code for the BWC read as follows:

“…all participants, both male and female, must be completely clothed from neck to no shorter than mid-thigh in a costume that consists of a sleeved suit jacket, collared shirt and neck tie (men only). Shorts, three-quarter length trousers and skirts may be worn if preferred.”

I’d managed to find a woollen jacket to go with the rest of my green and gold-themed costume; just perfect for a mid-summer’s race!

Stephen and I with our Bromptons

Stephen and I with our Bromptons

Fortunately the race was in the evening and the day hadn’t been overly warm. We’d spent a few hours participating in the Ride London FreeCycle event – with approximately 70,000 other riders, though only once early in the day did it feel particularly crowded. We ended up completing two laps of the 8 mile circuit, but people were free to do as many laps or as little of it as they pleased. It was a lovely way to pass the time, riding around the streets without worrying about cars.

As the afternoon progressed it was time to collect my registration kit for the BWC. The contents included race numbers for me (shoulders and back) and my Brompton (frame and handlebars) as well as a timing chip that was fixed to the front fork. And then it was just a matter of admiring other Bromptons, checking out modifications and rider’s outfits as they came in to the Brompton area, and meeting other people (including national champions from around the world) who are as passionate about these small-wheeled bikes as I am.

I now have a racing #Brompton! (without the bag, of course)

I now have a racing #Brompton! (without the bag, of course)

I was hoping to see Will Butler-Adams (OBE) here, but didn’t expect to nearly bump into him – quite literally! But there he was, a great guy to talk to, who doesn’t brush you off as soon as another group indicate that they need his presence. Better yet, he recognised “Melbourne Brompton Club” when I handed him one of our special business cards! How’s that?!

We also had the opportunity to talk further with Stephen Loftus (Brompton’s CMO), who’d lead our group on the Brompton Factory tour the previous day. Like Will, he seemed more than happy to discuss a wide range of topics – all Brompton related, naturally!

Seeing the lengths some people have gone to modify their bikes (and not to mention the associated cost), I felt very glad I didn’t come with my heart set on winning. The only modification seemingly not allowed in the BWC is any type of battery or electric/power assist. My lovely 2016 Lagoon Blue Black Edition was almost an off-the-shelf H6L (i.e. tall front stem, 6 speed, guards/fenders) except I’d switched the stock Brompton saddle at the last-minute to my ultra-comfortable B67 Brooks saddle from my red H3R Brompton (my usual commuter; tall, 3 speed, rear rack). A decision I was very happy with in the end as we spent many hours riding exploring London on our Brommies. I’m not sure that anyone else was riding around with a seat weighing 1kg (well, apart from the Belgian rider on the recumbent Brompton, but his whole bike is so completely different I’m not certain it counts), and if I was that concerned about how much my bike weighed I might have remembered to take out the toolkit… I’m sure those 200g counted for something! 😉

Ryuhei with his super light Brompton at 8.6kg! He's done an amazing job!

Ryuhei with his super light Brompton at 8.6kg! He’s done an amazing job!

Our race was the last event of the day. The warm-up act was the RideLondon Classique – the richest women’s one-day cycle race, and with a £25,000 prize for first place (out of a total prize pool of £100,00) you can understand why!

The women's Prudential RideLond Classique was the warm-up race for our Brompton World Championship Final!

The women’s Prudential RideLond Classique was the warm-up race for our Brompton World Championship Final!

Just before 7pm the call came for BWC riders to assemble according to our assigned categories – A (faster) at the front down to D (slower) at the back. Moving onto the race track, we lined up our folded Bromptons in front of our race number on the banners, then formed a line on the opposite side. The Le Mans start and the unfolding of your Brompton is a key feature of a BWC, and can give a well-practiced (un)folder a good edge over a competitor who may be their equal once riding, but who messes up the unfolding sequence. Thankfully we only had a dash of about 5m to reach our Bromptons (3-4m if you’d been a bit crafty about it!).

Excitment building as we enter the race track

Excitement building as we enter the race track

To avoid a jam of roughly 500 riders all trying to race off together, the start is staggered by category. Riders in Category A started with the hooter. With the crowd assisting with the count-down, 10 sec later another hooter was the signal for the Category B riders to dash to their Bromptons. Surprisingly, I still felt calm when the hooter sounded for Category C riders. Then finally it was our turn! The most important thing is to have enough room to unfold your handlebars, I think. Some people grab their bike and unfold in the middle of the track. Being right down the back of the field I seemed to have enough space to unfold where I left it. The moment I took to make sure I had my saddle straight and at a good height paid off; I had a comfortable ride!

Once I was riding the excitement really kicked in. I had a whole field of people I needed to pass to do a time I was going to be pleased with. Sure – I was riding for fun, but I was also going to do my best. Weaving past people still unfolding and just mounting their bikes, riding over the start/finish line, past the cheering crowd, past the media vans – The Mall had never felt as short as it did now!

Having a great time! - #BWC2016 #Brompton #PrudentialRideLondon #foldingbicycle #race

Having a great time!

I rode wide I wasn’t needlessly weaving – but not so I was blocking faster riders passing on the right – getting a good feel of my first Brompton race and the course for a couple of laps. I’d been cautioned about the corner turning into Horse Guards Road, but the fencing was so well placed to guide us around that it wasn’t too fearsome.

Slowly overtaking people I kept my pace steady; I did not want to tire too quickly and burn out. Approaching The Mall there is a slight rise up to the last corner of the circuit. Slight, but enough to warrant (for me at least) a change down to 5th gear; no point wearing out the legs, and better to keep the same cadence.

It took me a lap or two to find a “rabbit” to chase, but I mostly rode my own race. I lost count of the laps after number three, but by about number 4 (and definitely by lap 5) I was keeping an eye on the time, willing the lead riders to hurry up! The ride ends when the winner crosses the line; 8 laps of the park, and this year in just under 26 minutes. Everyone else gets to compete the lap they are on, but then the race is over.

(Source: Brompton Bicycle) A BWC is serious fun

(Source: Brompton Bicycle) A BWC is serious fun!

Although I thought I was doing reasonably well, although I knew a Brompton could go pretty fast, I was still stunned at the speed at which I was overtaken by the lead pack of riders. I lost track of how many times I was overtaken; I’m guessing twice if they did 8 laps to my 6, but it felt like more. There are some seriously fast Bromptoneers out there. Ok, so they’re mostly professional cyclists, and I’ve seen other BWC’s on YouTube clips previously, but to ride with (or rather, be passed by) these people in the same race… Sheesh!! It was amazing!

My final time was 27:35 for 6 laps. The winning men’s and women’s times were 25:54 (8 laps) to Mark Emsley (4th consecutive BWC Final title) and 28:09 (8 laps) to Isabel Hastie – though that was a photo finish with Sarah Phelps who officially received the same time. The times were very quickly up on the internet and (thanks to Cory back home) I was pretty stoked to be told I finished 48th out of 102 women, especially considering my training (i.e. riding to and from work) had notably reduced since the end of daylight savings time.

I made it! (photo by Francis Mulleady)

I made it! (photo by Francis Mulleady)

The best clip I’ve seen so far from this year’s race has to be by Michael Fouracre (you must listen with sound!):

Here is Brompton Bicycle’s clip (my goodness there are some fast unfolds there!). You can see me for a few seconds from 1:30 mark, if you don’t care to watch the whole 2:29 of it!

But the best part of the race was not over taking people, was not being amazed by the speed of the elite riders, was not finally crossing the finish line. It was having fun! It was waving to people I knew in the cheering crowd; Francis from Brompton Society, and a lovely lady from the Brompton Factory whom I’d only met the previous day but who cheered me on each lap, and my partner Stephen, without whom I’d never have even heard of Bromptons in the first place, let alone made it to London! It was a celebration of our love of Brompton folding bicycles; each so similar, yet all uniquely different.

Enjoying the opportunity to participate in this event is not one I’ll quickly forget. After all, it’s not everyday that you get to race around out the front of Her Majesty’s Palace (one of them, anyway), with the whole length of The Mall bedecked with Union Jack flags, on a bike made right there in London, with hundreds of other riders from all over the world.

Pretty special, really.

My #BWC2016 medal - #Brompton #London

Thank you to everyone at Brompton – from the renown brazers, to the mechanics, the admin staff, the designers, the big wigs like Will and Stephen, and everyone who worked long hours on and in the lead up to this day, to make the BWC2016 Final run as smoothly as a Brompton fresh out of the factory. Although we didn’t see him there, thanks always go to Andrew Ritchie, without whom we would not have come together united in our passion for these brilliant, small-wheeled folding bicycles. A final thank you goes to Prudential Ride London for their FreeCycle and overall organisation of this most enjoyable cycling festival.

Posted in Member Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Bumps, mud and fun – Melburn Roobaix 26th June

Eight years ago I received a message from a good mate telling me I was going on a ride with him tomorrow. I knew of the Paris-Roobaix, the most taxing and feared of the one-day classics on the cycling calendar.  He said it’s like that, but fun.  I’m not always sure if his definition of fun is the same as mine, so it was with some trepidation that I rolled out with him that morning – and that evening over a beer I think it was the best day on a bicycle I’d ever had.

Andy White is one of the most approachable guys you’ll ever come across, and he also has quasi-legendary status with many of the bike riders in Melbourne, or Melburn as he spells it. (For those of you from elsewhere, that’s a lot closer to how we say it – either that or Melb’n).  He’s been a graphic artist, a bike messenger in many countries, a photographer, blogger (as Fyxomatosis) and recently, just Fyxo – and it’s this side of him with his courier mates that had the genesis of the Melburn-Roobaix. He thought he’d pay homage to the Paris-Roubaix by running his own, in and around the cobblestone alleyways in his home town.  It was a success.  He ran it the next year, and it was massive. The next year, even bigger.  So now, in addition to refurbishing classic bikes and components, and selling his merchandise, the Roobaix is pretty-much his and his wife’s life.

2014 Roobaix - My 5th, but first on a Brommie

2014 Roobaix – My 5th, but first on a Brommie

I’ve done it on many and various bikes, but 2 years ago I did it on a Brompton.  I wasn’t surprised with how well the Brommie performed – what did surprise me was how accommodating it was – I didn’t quite feel fresh afterwards, but I felt fresher than I had on any other bike.

So, it was without reservation that I suggested members of MBC may like to give it a go this year.  I’d certainly seen other Bromptons each year – and the crew from Cheeky Transport have come down from Sydney – so I thought we could get a crew going.

Ticket, and musette

Ticket, and musette

Tickets can be purchased online on a key date, but historically the demand is so huge it crashes the system, so Andy does offer a small number for sale in person the weekend before so thanks to Dayna to getting on down to do the purchasing. The leadup to the big day had much miserable cold and wet weather, but the day itself had clear skies – with even colder temperatures.

We decided to meet up at Fed Square and roll down the Yarra to get to the start venue – indeed, I was asked where Hawthorn Velodrome was the day before and I don’t actually know – but I know how to ride there.  The registration didn’t take long – but that’s probably because most already had gone through.  That was good, it gives you plenty of people to follow, but it also has drawbacks which you’ll read later.

27841097971_a7e2f06c48_k

Following the herd

We had previously met Joakim at #BUCMEL and he flew down from Sydney to join our crew and Andy’s route did its best to show off Melbourne isn’t as flat as its made out.  The first sector was a little further away than in previous years.  You can navigate your own route from sector to sector, but we pretty-much just followed the herd, hopeful we hadn’t missed it.

27305838564_c23e911ef1_k

The start of the first secteur (which is actually the 10th, because they count down).

After a ride through a small suburban park, there it was.  Plenty of people were stopping to regroup, or to take in the enormity of what they’d set themselves.  For me, it was a quick pic, and then into it.  For those who are unaware, the trick is to keep your weight quite light on your bars, and certainly don’t grip too tight.  Speed is your friend as you can bounce over the cobbles instead of hitting each one.  Finally, the Brompton’s rear suspension can do wonders in taking the sting out of a lot of the bumps, but being out of the saddle at times can be beneficial, as you can imagine.

Cory pumping it up on the pump track – #MelburnRoobaix #Melbourne #Brompton Club

Instead of heading into the city, we headed away, alongside the Eastern Freeway to descend towards the river and quite a long stretch of dirt track.  Now, we started a little bit later than most so by the time we rode, it was well and truly chewed up.  It’s the first time I can remember using my snow/ice driving skills on my Brompton (no sudden acceleration/deceleration, easy turning) but it worked a treat.  Again, the long wheelbase makes all the difference.  We happened across a small pump track and many were doing a lap or two before continuing on.

Second-toughest climb of the day, which was nothing compared to the steepest one.

Second-toughest climb of the day, which was nothing compared to the steepest one.

Coming back out from the valley, it was steep into Ivanhoe.  There was an initial ascent from a car park (pictured here) and then a pedestrian route which provided the toughest climb of the day.  At its base I was hanging back to get a bit of a run up to it, but others were rounding me to the get off their bikes and trudge up, so I yelled “stay left, I’m on your right” and just went for it. A few more “On your right”s and by that stage most had got the drift and were doing the work for me.  Did I make it?  Well, I’d love to say I did but right at the very top I had to duck around someone a little further to the right and clipped my pedal on the gutter and I stopped about 2 metres short of the road.

"Needs more Sisters" - OK food and very slow service.

“Needs more Sisters” – OK food and very slow service.

It was around lunchtime, and we were long-overdue for a coffee so we grabbed the nearest cafe.  I won’t besmirch the cafe in question but I will say it needs more sisters as it was over an hour before we got rolling again.  Thankfully, (for me) this was a little more familiar territory and I although we needed to keep looking at the map to see where the sectors were, I could navigate around pretty easily.

27640307880_63b59f523e_kOne of the sponsors was Temple beer so it was a given we were going to go there – and the fact that a sector finished at their rear entrance sealed it.  We answered the question, entered the raffle and grabbed a beer.  A that time, I took a look at the time and did a quick mental calculation.  We were going to struggle to complete the rest of the sectors before the finish started at 3:30.  So, what was it, leave and significantly pick up the pace, or stay for another beer and miss the most westerly sector (and probably the steepest/gnarliest one). No-one was prepared to call it, so a coin flip came up beer. (I think secretly everyone was pretty happy about that).

The rest of the sectors and navigation was largely uneventful, and we rolled into Roobaix (this year, alongside the Harrison St Velodrome) just a few minutes late.  Unfortunately, too late for most of our number to submit their manifest and get the free Velo USB Rear Light gift.

Still – a great time and most of us are looking forward to next year! (more pix below).

Courtesy of Fyxo

Posted in Club Rides | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The ride that was (and wasn’t) meant to be – Melbourne Brompton Club Ride, 12 June 2016

Already rescheduled three times, it was track works on the Lilydale train line that put the final nail in the coffin of the Warburton Rail Trail ride on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Defeated only for the time being, we will try to ride this trail later in the year.

Still keen for a ride, we decided to meet at Federation Square (our “usual”) and figure it out from there.

Stephen’s proposal was to follow the Yarra River down to the Westgate Bridge, then continue around the bay to St Kilda. His plan was uncontested, so we set off – after the obligatory group photo, naturally!

It wasn’t long before we caught up with other Bromptoneers! By pure coincidence we had happened upon four Brompton riders currently on holiday from Singapore! We knew they were in town because they stopped in to see Cory at Velo Electric & Folding a few days before, and he posted a photo on our MBC Facebook page. They were surprised to see us because they knew that we were supposed to be riding the Warburton Rail Trail today. When we explained the train situation, it turned out one of their friends was also unable to join their ride for exactly the same reason.

As they were headed in the same direction (but were planning to ride further down the Bay Trail to Brighton) we decided to ride at least the first part of the way together.

Our route took us across nearly all of the shared bicycle/pedestrian bridges as we made our down-river: Sandridge (previously), then Seafarers and lastly Webb Bridge.

Reaching the end of the apartment buildings along the waterfront at Docklands it was now time to hit the streets. There isn’t a bike lane along Lorimer Street, but on the other hand there isn’t much traffic of a Sunday either, so it was a pleasant ride all the way to Westgate Bridge, with Stephen acting as our local tour guide.

The bike path at the end of Larimer Street took us through Westgate Park – which I’ve only ever seen from above before, looking down from Westgate Bridge as we head back towards the city.

The lake wasn’t pink on this occasion, or we’d have definitely stopped to take a few photos! We exited out the south-east side of the park; from there it’s just a short ride along Todd Road to the Bay Trail and on to Princes Pier.

Princes Pier is an icon of Port Philip, and a location favoured by photographers. Having a decent number of brightly coloured Bromptons to play with was certainly fun. And we you can’t not check out each other’s mods. Sure, the dealer stickers aren’t exactly “modifications”, but damn they look good!

We left the Singaporean girls at Princes Pier with tips for continuing to Brighton (and the return home) and continued down to St Kilda for lunch – fish ‘n’ chips on Acland Street.

Lunch was the end of our group ride, and from Acland Street we each made our own way home. Stephen and I chose to head directly back to the city via St Kilda Road. I hadn’t bothered to stop Strava so you can see most of our ride, but from Federation Square to Acland Street in St Kilda (the bottom point of the red line) we’d ridden 19km.

Our route from Federation Square to St Kilda, then Stephen's and my route back to the city via St Kilda Road

Our route from Federation Square to St Kilda, then Stephen’s and my route back to the city via St Kilda Road

Thanks to Monica and Jane for their patience – and keenness – in seeing this ride through it’s various incarnations. Apologies to those who were unable to make it this time.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Melburn Roobaix – 26 June 2016
Registered participants received an email with “Everything you need to know” for this year’s event. If you are participating, planning to ride your Brompton, and wish to ride with us but haven’t yet let us know please do so!

Brompton Luggage Launch – Velo Cycles, 9 July 2016
Finally, (FINALLY!) Brompton’s 2016 range of luggage has arrived on our shores, and who isn’t excited?! Even if you think you’ve got all the luggage you need, you should come along to Velo Cycles (815 Nicholson Street, Carlton North, Vic, 3054) to have a gander at the goods, a chinwag with some fellow Bromptoneers, and some delightful tea and scones.
Definitely one to put in the diary!

Wall of Brompton Luggage at Velo Electric & Folding

Some of the new Brompton Luggage at Velo Electric & Folding

Until next time, happy Bromptoneering everyone.  🙂

Posted in Club Rides | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail – Melbourne Brompton Club Ride, 12 June 2016

UPDATE: Warburton Trail Ride is now this Sunday, 12 June 2016.
All other details on the original post remain unchanged.
Thanks everyone. Happy Bromptoneering!

MELBOURNE BROMPTON CLUB

On the Saturday of this year’s Queen’s Birthday long weekend (i.e. THIS coming Saturday!) we are riding part of the Warburton Rail Trail (“WRT”). The broad-gauge railway line closed in 1965, but thankfully the route is open to cyclists, walkers and horseriders as a rail trail, allowing us to discover the history and beauty of this section of the Yarra Valley.

Warburton

While it is certainly possible to ride the whole trail in one day (it’s 40km from Lilydale to Warburton), we’re not out to accomplish that feat on this ride. Our pace will, as usual, be determined by slowest members of the group so that everyone enjoys themselves and no one feels left behind.

A rough itinerary of the day is as follows:

Meeting point: Lilydale Train Station, Lilydale
Meeting time: 10:30am

Options to get to Lilydale Train Station

  1. Drive to Lilydale Train Station; or
  2. Catch a direct train from Southern Cross Station (9:09am, Platform 10)…

View original post 342 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail – Melbourne Brompton Club Ride, 11 June 2016

On the Saturday of this year’s Queen’s Birthday long weekend (i.e. THIS coming Saturday!) we are riding part of the Warburton Rail Trail (“WRT”). The broad-gauge railway line closed in 1965, but thankfully the route is open to cyclists, walkers and horseriders as a rail trail, allowing us to discover the history and beauty of this section of the Yarra Valley.

Warburton

While it is certainly possible to ride the whole trail in one day (it’s 40km from Lilydale to Warburton), we’re not out to accomplish that feat on this ride. Our pace will, as usual, be determined by slowest members of the group so that everyone enjoys themselves and no one feels left behind.

A rough itinerary of the day is as follows:

Meeting point: Lilydale Train Station, Lilydale
Meeting time: 10:30am

Options to get to Lilydale Train Station

  1. Drive to Lilydale Train Station; or
  2. Catch a direct train from Southern Cross Station (9:09am, Platform 10) or Parliament Station (9:16am, Platform 4); or
  3. Catch a connecting train from Flinders St Station (9:12am, Platform 8), changing trains at Richmond Station (9:19am, Platform 9).

Lunch stop / Turn around point: to be decided to on the day. The Yarra Valley council has a website with a brief summary of each leg of the ride which also notes the facilities at each location here: yarraranges.vic.gov.au. Finding a place to stop for lunch shouldn’t be a hassle.

COG Bike Cafe (in Warburton) have even provided an elevation map of the WRT – very kind of them.

Return to Lilydale Train Station: Approx 4pm, but that is entirely dependent upon how far we ride, and what pace the group is comfortable with.

As the trail surface is gravel (fine to medium, from the pictures online), it is recommended that you bring a toolkit and puncture repair kit (a Brompton toolkit, of course, includes patches for your inner tube) just in case you find yourself with a puncture. Don’t forget your Brompton pump too, if you take it off the bike.

If the weather looks a bit iffy (but we still decided to proceed with the ride), please make sure to lubricate your chain the night before. There’s nothing quite as cringe-worthy as trying to ride with a chain that’s clunking because the oil’s washed off. (Ok, maybe there are, but that one’s fairly high on my list of things to avoid.)

Please let me know if you are planning to join this ride by commenting below, accepting your invitation on the Facebook event, or contacting us on Twitter.

And now a quick reminder of an upcoming event, definitely not to be missed:

2016 Brompton luggage launch! Velo Electric and Folding are having a special event on Saturday, 9 July 2016 to launch to the new range of Brompton luggage. I’ve seen it online and can’t wait to see it in store! Looking forward to seeing lots of Bromptoneers there. (And in case you need even more incentive, there will be finger food provided!)

Happy Bromptoneering everyone! 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment