Monday, 11 September 2017

British Bromprix 2017 Inaugural Race

I shaved, full body and I had a haircut, aero style. I must be lite.  It is a must that I win the inaugural British Bromprix 2017.

I wanted to be the first to arrive and the last to depart at Cyclopark for I like to see the full picture on how the day's event will transpire.  Although I was driving at maximum speed, I feel I was still crawling along M25 (motorway encircling London).  It was my first time driving along M25 when I did not take a wrong turn or wrong exit. I was relieved I arrived not too late.

Go go go Zoomzoom - photo courtesy Michael Fouracre


As I pulled into the car park, I saw riders on their Brompton arriving.  They went to the town earlier and had pancakes, which I was told, was the size of my face, and now they are just arriving back.  They are well fueled, ready and eager to race. I should have come earlier.  Missing that pancake is my day's only regret.

Hurriedly, I unfolded Zoomzoom to meet fellow riders.  I was surprised that there are already many Bromptoneers around, in wonderful attire and all wearing a big smile.  I said "Hi" and Hello" to many riders who I have not met before, kisses and hugs to most familiar faces and a verbal threat that I will win this race to many of the strong win contenders.
Win contenders - Photo courtesy Michael Fouracre


But my greatest surprise was not seeing most of the London Brompton Club (LBC) admin.  Yes the people who approves your (facebook) membership to the club.  Yes the very people who cares most about the club. The Superstars. However I was overjoyed when I saw and shook the hands of the legendary Bumble Bee.  He is a founding member of LBC and his appearance alone confirms his unquestionable support and care for this brand new event. 

Club Founder Bumble Bee and Bromprix brainchild Steve Chopper

Our Hi's and Hello's were getting louder. Our curiosity to anyone's and everyone's Brompton setting and personalization became more intense. We were comparing everything from handle bars, bags, spokes and inner tube cap.  We were like 2 year olds.  Show me yours, I'll show you mine.  

Steve announced registration open.  I jumped to secure the "No 1" race number/label. I got to be number one.  However another rider told me that he is more deserving of the No 1 race number.  I reluctantly gave it away.  Sad I was not, for I randomly got the No 69. Easy number to remember. 

A lucky number. Easy to remember, said Steve.  Don't know why.

After a short thank you from the Cyclopark management and a quick safety briefing from the ambulance officers we all soon found ourselves ready to run to our folded Brompton neatly positioned at the the start line. It is a Le Mans start style race.

But first we had to do the costume parade.  This is equivalent to warm up lap, although we were more interested to make sure that our attire is not caught on the wheels.

Strictly no Lycra allowed. Costume parade, warm up lap. Photo owned by Michael Fouracre


Run... I did and unfolded the bike.  I practiced this million times but still I was left behind.  I saw half of the competitors gone before I finally pushed the pedal.  The guys in black and pink shocks were in front, powering ahead.  I wasn't worried.  I knew there are 8 laps and they will soon get tired.  After all, I bromptoned London to Cambridge and cycle the Surrey Hills a few weeks prior so I know I have the strength and speed.
On your mark.  Ready. Get set. Go  ( Photo courtesy Michael Fouracre)




There are only 4 riders that could snatch my victory.  And two of the four, I have already disregarded.  James Houston has been assigned as tail end marker, so he could never be the first to cross the finish line.  Steve Chooper is the checked flag waver/bearer.  I only have Jenny Hung and Graham Parks to really worry about.

I have cycled with Jenny many times.  I know she is strong and glides effortlessly up the hills but she is not terribly fast.  And I was a little encouraged when I saw earlier that she will be racing without her front bag.  I always suspected that, that 23 stone looking front bag houses the battery.  But what really worried me was she was wearing her famous high heal shoes.  That is a lethal weapon.  She always win the race when she is wearing that.

No 15 - Fai, / No 5 Jenny / No25 Graham ( Photo owned by Michael Fouracre)

For as long as the clouds hover above us, I'm fine with Graham.  He is no threat. But if the sun shines brightly, my victory will be doomed for sure.  It is because Graham has this gorgeous blond hair and when the sun shines on it, the sun rays bounce back and I get mesmerized and dazzled by the reflection.  No way I could pass him in that instance.

The first corner is a very tight corner.  I hesitantly have to engage my brake, otherwise I will crash over the fence landing right in the middle of A2 ( major highway) beside the Cyclopark. Once I negotiated the corner it is a nice downhill to the next wider corner.  Easy.  No, not really.  Because as I came down the track, a gale force wind seemingly from the hurricane Irma is pushing me back up.  It is more difficult to descent that to climb up.

It felt forever to complete the first lap.  Now 7 more to go.  Now, Jenny is within sight.  Up the hill, I knew I could pass her.  I did pass her but that was after I silently recited the lords prayer 10 times. My next aim was to be within sight of the front peloton.  Time to chase the men in black.

The men in black. Fai and Darren


Zoom zoom I pedaled furiously, surely the men in black are just around the next bend.  Sure it was.  But they were not in front of me.  They were behind me.  They were overtaking me. Noooo.  Still full of hope, I said to my self, there is still time.  They will tire and weaken, they will miss a gear shift and I will overtake them.  Then I heard people cheering go go go Zoom zoom.  It was Jenny and Graham from behind over taking me. I never saw them again until the finish line.


Ohhh nooo.....

The men in black overtook me few more times.  But on my fifth lap I caught up with them as they were chatting away.  I said to them, I gonna win this.  They said go go go.  Go for it.  They were 5 meters behind me as I approached the finish line.  But the checkered flag was waved behind me  which is in front of them as I needed 3 more laps to complete the race.  On my final lap I heard everyone shouting Allez allez, go go go Zoom zoom.

The Bromprix time trial event soon followed.   A very hotly contested competition.  First to go was Steve, then we had 1 minute interval each between start time.  We cycled as fast as we could.  It was so much fun.  The time trial was won by Hannah.

The battle for the time trial. The young and the young once.


What a fantastic day !  It felt like my last BWC in 2014 in Goodwood, where the atmosphere is more family affair, seriously fun race, no ballots, nothing commercial and uncomplicated procedures and restrictions.

The well earned badge. 


Well done and thank you Steve Chopper.   You are the brain ( and I might as well add, body and soul ) behind this event.  I don't know how you did it.  The effort and time you put into it is remarkable.

And thank you to everyone for coming.  And thanks also to those who took an effort to bring their family along. It is nice to see that this event is all inclusive for the young and the young once.

Hannah, Time trial winner.  Photo Courtesy Michael Fouracre


As I walked to my car and folded up my Brompton ready to go home, I can't help but look back to compare and analyze why Fai Leung won the race.  We both have similar physique, same height, same weight and same size.  Yes, leg muscles size.  I noticed that he also has shaved legs.  I can not think of any other factor why he won over me.

It can only come down to and  god knows, what else he shaved.  And that is his marginal advantage.

See you all at British Bromprix 2018.


Photo Gallery
Special thanks to Michael Fouracre for capturing perfectly the moments.

We are the champions.  We are the champions.

Natalie - the woman in tie dress.  Looking fabulous.  And Geoff with a gorgeous smile.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Isle of Wight Randonee on a Brompton

"Thirty minutes until 8.15 !" is what Sleebus posted on the Messenger.

As the hotel's restaurant opens at 8 AM , this would mean our morning meal would be more of a fast break rather than a breakfast. It would also mean that the full English breakfast served on the table overlooking the sea should not be eaten, rather, it should be swallowed in full.

But we did not mind, because we were all in a hurry to get to the start line at 9 AM for the start of the Isle of Wight Randonnee.

Another adventure for Zoomzoom

In an attire matching our colorful Bromptons, we flew out of the hotel like noisy parrots, escaping from a cage in glee, eager to reach a single destination, the checkpoint at East Cowes, to collect our brevet cards and to check in for the ride. The hotel must be relieved to see us go for it guarantees them a chance of peace during the day while we were out and about participating in the Randonnee.

It was a beautiful morning and the excitement was building up.  The streets were now littered with riders in all shapes, shades and sizes, on all types of bike.  The chorus was getting louder as the riders exchange morning greetings and a brief and friendly chat of what's lies ahead.

Class photo IoW 2016


Having collected our brevet cards, one would think that we were ready for the off.  No, of course not, not with London Brompton Club ( LBC ) people.  We still have to do one thing, that is to pose for a class photo.  No matter how far the ride, no matter how much in a hurry we are, we have to pose for photos.  Nice.

And off we cycled.  A flat 50 meter to the corner then right at the roundabout, up the street twisting up the hill and up and up and up.  Oh my lord !, I thought we were here to cycle the island.  I did not realize it was a launching pad to the moon.     

To conceal my slow riding up the hill, I took the role of tail end Charlie, pretending to look after the slower riders which in this case, the slow rider is only me.  This forces the group to wait for me at every turn and at every checkpoint. As the ride progressed Daniel and Neil kept me company at the back of the pelaton until the split point when Neil had to break away to follow the short 55 km route.

The highway to heaven


The ride up to the split point was very nice.  I enjoyed it so much.  The ride followed a clockwise directions, starting from city streets to a suburban roads, then on to a farm and country roads.  Even along the city streets, I felt safe, maybe because the motorists on this island are more forgiving as compared to London's drivers.

Beyond the split point, Daniel and I  kept each other company.  I like Daniel. I will never forget him.  He is full of fun.  He saved me from doom, 2 years ago when I suffered a puncture, my first ever, during a Christmas midnight ride.  He supplied the inner tube because I was stupid not bringing my supplies and tools. I am now a learned man.

All smiles.


We were exchanging the back end place trying to catch up with the group.  I waited for him on the crest.  When he did not appear within few minutes, I decided to cycle back to check.  He mentioned earlier that there was a noise coming from his back wheel so this could be what was slowing him down.  When I reached him, he was already "Messenger-ing" the group to say that he will cycle back to the split point to take the short route instead because he had pulled a muscle.  It was a wise move.

Few LBCers know I am a masseur and I consider myself an expert in manipulating muscles.  Of course, I could have offered Daniel my expertise, but this is the sort of skill that I do not display in public, more so when the muscles concerned are those in direct contact with the saddle.

The group must have stopped or they must have pedaled slower,( as Daniel "messenger-ed" the group to say I was right behind ) , because it did not take me long to catch up with them.

There was no point for me now to assume the tail end Charlie role because really I was in the company of seasoned Brompton riders, the mile monsters, Steve C, James H, Jenny H, Sleebus J and Dr John M.

The mile monsters

Dr John M is considered the most promising Bromptonaut of the year.  His cycling fashion sense is unmatched.  If you are looking for quality cycling kit, no need to go online.  Just look at him.  His color combination matching is not a skill. It is a talent.

Jenny H, needs no introduction.  She is the woman on heels.  And when she is wearing those heels, be afraid, be very afraid.  That means the ride will go over many hills. I always assumed the reason why she could just fly over those hills on a Brompton is because she is lightweight.  Yes she is lightweight but she was carrying a front bag which was 3 times her weight.  God knows what is inside the bag. I dare not ask.

The heels, the bag, the Wonder Woman

The heel, the deadly weapon

These are the sort of Bromptonauts that would cycle 100 km in their pajamas with no second thought about it at all.  In contrast, I would have done weeks and weeks of preparation, bought the most expensive cycling kit, and recited the Lords Prayer a million times, just to get myself psych up for the ride.

We are in heaven


My Garmin indicated 60 more kilometers (of the 110km) to go, which I did not mind.  We were having the best time cycling up and down the undulating landscape of the island.  The terrain and the scenes are so beautiful and interesting. The route was so challenging.  The coastal road along the south west side of the island towards the direction of The Needles is simply breathtaking. And literally, cycle-wise, it will take your breath away as you pedal with all your strength to reach the top of the mountain.  That coastal road is a highway to heaven which if you translate to cycling lingo is a highway to hell. It just goes up and up as far as the eyes can see.

But this was where I have proven myself having a competitive advantage over Sleebus when cycling up the hill.  Not that we were competing.  I just sensed that it was not easy for us to climb up the hill.  Well, really, come to think of it, or even better, imagine it.  Sleebus does not have an aerodynamic body contour, nor have I.  However going downhill, it is another story.  He is the outright winner.  He knows how to take advantage of the gravitational pull.  No matter how hard I try to overtake him, I always come last and behind.

The downhill sprinter

On the way to Yarmouth, although, James and Jenny decided to up the ante by pedaling faster than ever because we needed to reach the finish line by 6 pm, we were still overtaken by the naked man on bike.

A flashback quickly reminded me of the LBC ride I did previously of which I mentioned about full moon.  But at this very instance if was definitely not about moons.  It was a real butt, white and beautiful, displayed, exposed and ready for inspection.  I noticed though that Steve cycled even faster.  I can only assume that Steve wanted to position himself in front of the man rather behind him, and I can understand.

Steve's dilemma. In front or behind.  James and Jenny on closer inspection


The naked man certainly succeeded in getting attention as he was in a mission to raise money for SANDS charity. I admire the man, not for his butt, but for his attention seeking technique.

I, as you can sense, was envious.  My good friends know I am a minimalist but to be honest I don't think I can go that minimum.  I am scared of chafing, although Brooks fans would probably have the answer for me.  But on the other hand, going naked would mean being minimalist and aero.  Interesting.....Now, you have been warned.

At 5.50pm we reached Cowes but we just missed the Chain Ferry linking East Cowes which meant we would not get to the checkpoint by 6pm closing time.  We finally reached the checkpoint few minutes after 6.  It was still open, so we had our brevet card stamped and we received our certificate.  Now I understand why Sleebus wanted us to swallow our breakfast earlier in the morning.  I have forgiven him. 

We have done it.  We have done it on a Brompton.  We completed the Isle of Wight Randonnee.  It was a wonderful day, truly unforgettable. It was unbelievable.


Oh yeah.  We did it.

It was a sweet achievement.  But what made it sweet is because we done it on a Brompton.  Judging from the many funny comments and compliments we get from people, I can safely assume that they think we are a bit eccentric. They maybe right.  For you could only be eccentric doing the 110 km Randonnee on a Brompton.  There is not much difference really with the naked man.  We were equally eccentric. Actually I am suitably sharing this title with a dear friend Susana Luz.  She is full of life and full of fun.  She rode the 110 km route with Gywn, her lovely 7 kg dog in the front basket.  That is a real achievement. 

Safety first, Gwyn the dog wearing Specialized helmet

We congregated at 8pm for dinner at the hotel's restaurant where we joyfully re lived the day's event. We felt accomplished.

As I looked back, I thought of what made this event extra special and unforgettable. It comes down to the fact that I was in the company of beautiful and real people. Yes, I could have done the Randonne on my own, on big bike, but it would not be as fun as being with fellow LBCers and not as challenging as on a Brompton.

Staying a night on the island prior and after the ride also made a big difference. It puts me in a holiday mode and it gave me time to soak it all in.

A day prior.  At a local pub.

What I like about the Isle of Wight Randonnee is that this event has a soul.  It is not a charitable event.  Nowadays those charity events, I find, are really commercialized charity events.  The IoW Randonne is a free entry event organized by the Wayfarer Cycle Touring Club.  They are able to run the event thru the generosity of their sponsors and donations from riders.

Well deserved dinner after the ride.

Well done WCTC.  Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you to my fellow LBCers and their other halves.  We had such a great time.  Nice to see you too Graham P, Chris B and Jack N and friends.  Thank you all for your company.

I am looking forward to another "30 minutes until 8.15 with the parrots" when ever and where ever that may be.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Overshoes Scott AS Shoes Cover

Not another review, I hear you saying.  Yes, it is not a review. I am not an expert to scrutinize this product.  This is merely my own personal experience in using this overshoes.

Do you call it overshoes or shoes cover?  Whatever, let me call it an overshoes.
Scott overshoes and Specialized Rime shoes

This is my second, well actually  my third pair of overshoes since I started riding my Brompton bike. The very first pair I had, I bought from Aldi last winter.  It cost about £5 or £7.  It was good. It lasted the whole winter of 2014. This winter I bought another one, again from Aldi, because it was cheap, but I did not like it. Well I did not like the look of it.  It looked like an overshoes worn by Neil Armstrong when he landed on the moon. It is not snugly fit.  Although I must admit it served its purpose. I still have it, but I doubt I will wear it again.   

Over the succeeding months, in my perpetual quest to look "cool", I finally decided to get a proper cycling shoes.  I bought a Specialized Rime Shoes, although, I have no intention of attaching a cleat yet. I am not confident yet.  I am not that cool yet.
Yeah, my cycling shoes without cleats. Not cool ?

I like this shoes and I like it to last, so I decided to get myself a better overshoes.

I was quite surprised that there are a lot of choices, but I ended up buying the Scott As Shoecover.  Below is the item description which I copied without permission directly from www.wheelies.co.uk webpage. They will probably castigate me for doing so. 

----------------------------

An easy to use shoe cover with an outside zipper. The inside zipper flap helps keep the weather out while keeping your feet warm and dry

Fabric:
  • Shell: 88% polyamide 12% elastane
  • Shell insert: 100% neopren
Features:
  • Shoecover in bi-elastic fabric
  • Re-inforcement fabric on lower part
  • Preshaped for better fit
  • Left & Right laser cut label for easy use
  • Outside zipper location for easy use
  • Inside zipper flap to keep the weather out
  • Reflective Scott print for increased visibility
  • Small, Light and packable to fit into every pocket

------------------------------------------
 
Nicely packed.

Buying online has disadvantages.  You can not touch it. You can not smell it. But nevertheless I bought it because I thought it looks nice, neat and minimalist. It comes in 4 sizes.  Small (35-38), Medium (39-42), Large (43-46) and XLarge (47-50). Reference.  Since my shoes size ranges from 39 to 42, I opted for the Medium, which was spot on.

I wore this overshoes when we did the the Heathrow Airport Loop few weeks ago where part of the route was along the Grand Canal.  This was, I considered the most challenging ride I have ever experienced.  It was wet, and wet and very wet.  It was windy and raining.  We were virtually riding on water and thick mud.  
I like the reflective Logo

A week after that I joined another London Brompton Club ride where we traced the lost river of Effra. Again it was wet, windy and a lot colder.  It was about 6C.  

On both rides, the Scott AS Shoe Cover made my feet remained dry and comfortable.

So there you are, I highly recommend this overshoes.  The bit of downside thought is, it is not easy to put on.  But once it is on, it stays on.  

SUMMARY

Pros:  Neat and minimalist look.
Cons:  Not easy to put on
Zoomzoom Rating:  5 out of 5 stars.  ( Zoom zoom only give one rating - that is 5 star )

But one thing I have not told you, the rides that I mentioned above, I was also wearing a waterproof socks.  I bought it from Wheelies.co.uk.  Why?  Because they offer free postage and free return. 


There you are.  Highly recommended.  You must agree that I am now "cool".



 
 

   

Monday, 2 November 2015

St Crispin's Day Night Ride 2015 on Brompton

With a big smile, James Houston let me hold his banana.  It was still firm but cold, very cold.

I never thought I will say "no" to a banana, but that exactly what happened on midnight of Saturday or in  the early morning of Sunday the 25th of October during the St Crispin's Day Night Ride.

Bushy Park.  This is next to heaven


I have heard of this night ride since I bought my Brompton bike 18 months ago but I never really given it a thought. But as I participated in many London Brompton Club (LBC) rides, the topic about St Crispin's  always come to the fore.  I became curious and I came to a conclusion that this kind of ride is only for riders who are mad if not totally mental.

Really, who in their right mind would get up in the  middle of the night to cycle 161km ( 100 miles ) along the streets of London and into the dark country roads of South West London? And in the cold month of October ? No way, Jose.

I listed the many "what if".

What if:

.. I get a puncture.
.. I get left behind.
.. I get off course and could not find the way.
.. it rains.
.. I get exhausted and could not finish.
.. it is too cold.
.. if I get separated from Brompton group.
.. if my front light is not bright enough for me to see the road.

Despite all the uncertainties, I signed up.

This is where we collected the wine and had a nice meal.


As the event day got closer, my excitement grew proportionately with my worries.  Can I really do this?  The longest ride I have done is 100 km (60 mile).  To add another 60 km to it seems impossible.  And doing it on a Brompton, a small wheel,  is next to suicidal.

The Facebook postings on the night of Saturday is going into crescendo.  From the most current whether forecast, last  minute putting on a mudguard, checking the front and rear lights, last minute dash to purchase an overshoes and postings to say they are on the way to the meeting point at Wellington Corner, the excitements are all building up.

The Brompton is taller than the Windsor Castle.


I have made a mental preparation during the day on what I was going to wear for the night ride.  I knew it could be a cold night as the forecast was 9C high and 6C low. I put on my best tights, my best soft shell jacket, my best waterproof shoes.  Well, I say my best, because I only have one of each really.  Every time I go for a ride I wear this same kit.  For me it is almost like a uniform.  The only kit that I change is the base layer.  And for this particular night I put on a base layer for deep winter.  And I was glad I did.

I contemplated on riding to Chiswick where the ride starts but when I realized it will take me 54 minutes to ride there or about 29 km I decided to bribe someone from our household to give me a lift in exchange for a bottle of wine. Yes the St Crispin's wine.

James H.  Appropriately attired.


I arrived with plenty of time to register and have a nice chit chat with other riders.  The first one I saw and said hello was John M.  Like me it is his first time doing  this ride and like me he is as worried as hell and yes, excited.  Tom S was also one of the first to arrive.  He brought his big wheeled though not his Brompton.  He has more sense. Soon the rest of the gang who met up at Wellington Arch arrived. It was also nice to see Tony D, who despite an injury wouldn't want to miss the fun and excitement at the starting line.  He joined us up to the Tower Bridge.  It was a fantastic atmosphere.  I can sense the feeling of excitement in everyone, the enthusiasm, the fun and agony that lies ahead. I have totally forgotten all my "what ifs".

The last thing I remembered at the start line was when David P prompted me to turn my lights and devices on as we were ready to pedal. And pedal we did.  It was a wonderful feeling as we all rushed away towards the City of London. The sights of blinking rear lights, the sounds of cleats engaging and disengaging, the friendly noise of conversation among the riders are but music to my ears.

Simon S.  He must have a DNA of Polar Bear if not a crocodile.  He doesn't feel the cold.


You will never know it is midnight in London, as the traffic is as heavy as anytime of the day.  The only hint that will prompt you that it is midnight is the sights of  beautiful women (and men) in their mini skirts, despite the single digit degree temperature,  queuing outside at the door of a pub/night club.  They don't seem to be in a hurry to get into the door though, and they chat with each other as if they are addressing the world. You can hear their voices as far away as Manchester.  I can not understand why they looked intoxicated even before they get in the door of the pub. They look happy and that's what matters.

The riders though were in a hurry to make a u-turn at the Tower Bridge.  I can only assume they want to reach the country road soon for a more relaxed and peaceful ride.  As always the traffic lights in London seem to turn red as I approach them.  I was trying to keep up with Bumble Bee and Geoff because I knew they know the way.   I had my Garmin on but it is still nice to know that we are heading in the same direction.  In one instance, I must have jumped an amber traffic light ( silly me ) which made me get away and ahead of the rest of the Bromptoneers.  I carried on pedaling because I know they will catch up soon anyway.

Photo courtesy:  Steve C.  At the start of the ride


I saw Steve went pass me like a rocket.  Apparently he was caught in the middle of the roadies so he thought he might as well keep up with the pace.  But when he saw me, he slowed down and he kept me company.   We continued cycling towards Richmond in a good pace anticipating that at any moment the LBC group will be right behind us.  I even had a visit to this nice luxurious open planned toilet overlooking the Thames River designed with no element of privacy.  Actually there are many of these in the country side but only open at midnight when no one is around.

We waited for the group but because it was getting cold, we pressed on.   We will just wait for them at the first coffee stop.  Steve and I had a great chat.  We talked about his recently concluded 12,000 km ride of the eastern side of USA which I found to be very interesting.   Yes it was on a Brompton.

Zoomzoom enjoying the view at the coffee stop.


We kept pedaling.  Although we were anxious to reach the first coffee stop, we could not help but appreciate the fun of riding at night along the country roads. I have done 2 or 3 night rides before and I failed in every attempt to explain the joy of riding at night.  Night ride for me is wonderful.  It is surreal. It is an intoxicating cocktail of fun, sense of peace, exhilaration and a feeling of freedom. Or in other words, it is madness. 

Steve dictated the pace, fast, very fast.  At one point I felt we were doing 100 kph.  I thought at this speed I will not last if not crash.   But thank goodness for my son dynamo front light.  It saved me from destruction.  'Though, Steve dictated the pace I controlled the speed.  It was because I have a better front light than him.  So whenever we are in the dark, unlit road, he has to wait for me.

We finished and we were signing off. 


With a promise of cake, cookies  and hot drinks, we were getting more and more anxious to reach the coffee stop.  But the coffee stop is nowhere in sight.  I was getting hungry and thirsty and yes exhausted. We stopped at the pedestrian bridge in Eton at the foot of the  magnificent Windsor Castle.  I had many happy memories of this Castle.  The first time I saw it was when they opened it to the public to raise fund to rebuild after the fire. But none of these came to play in my mind because I cared nothing except to eat something.  I was hungry, very hungry.  Just as well as Steve does not look like a hot dog, otherwise, I would have eaten him.  We really should have stopped earlier.  But we didn't because we thought we were near the coffee stop.

We found a nice bench.   With no hesitation I grabbed a banana from my mini O bag.  I swallowed it in less than 60 seconds. I was just getting comfortable sat on this bench when I felt a sudden chill.  We had two choices.  Freeze while resting or continue riding.

All Smiles at the finish line.  Photo owner Jenny H.


About 10 minutes into the ride, I was starting to panic.  I could not feel my fingers.  It felt like it is encased in ice.  I was freezing from inside out.  The 6C degree forecast seemed incorrect.  It must be  minus 2C degree.  But I dare not check my apps.  I could not feel my fingers let alone feel the button on my iPhone. Scary thought were playing in my mind.  I thought, I can not afford to lose a nail, let alone a finger.  I am a masseur and my fingers and my hands are my livelihood.  I was going to ask Steve to hold my hands to save it and give it warmth. He will probably obliged but I don't think he will understand, more so because we were in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.

At last we reached the stop.  We reached Twyford.  Yes, we missed the first stop. I checked my Garmin.  We have ridden 106 km ( virtually ) non stop. I said hi, to David P as he was coming out from the hall to do the return segment of the ride.  Tom S and Graham P on their big bikes were also on their way out.  

Bacon roll at the end. The famous Jenny selfie.


The sight of other riders, resting, chatting, eating, preparing for the next segment and the hearty hot meal chicken ( that looks like ) casserole with tomatoes,mushrooms and olives, prepared by St Crispin's lovely people made me forget instantly the fatigue and the cold temperature outside. After the meal I collected my trophy.  It is the St Crispin's Day wine.  My most precious wine.

As I was recuperating I realized what made me feel so cold during the last 30 km.  It was the banana.  I remembered the banana was so cold, it felt like I swallowed a solid piece of ice.  I learned my lesson.  Never again will I eat a cold banana.

Our Bromptons ready for more ride as we were having a breakfast.


We waited for about 2 hours until the Brompton gang arrived.  I was looking at James H holding up a banana to create a space for his wine in his bag.  With a big smile he offered me his banana. I held it.  It was still firm but cold.  I said "no thank you".  I can't believe I said no to James' banana.

Together again we made our final 60 km ride back to Chiswick. It was a more leisurely pace.  It was day light when we left Twyford.  As always it was fun riding with Brompton people.  We were like two year olds.  Starting and stopping, taking photos of us and our Bromptons.  James banana was still on offer but this time I went for Geoff's jelly babies.  We stopped for a class picture at Bushy Park.

We finally reached the finish line at around midday.  We were probably one of the last bunch.  We posed for photo yet again, as an evidence for finishing the 100 mile ride. We enjoyed the complementary bacon rolls and hot tea.  We reluctantly said our goodbyes. 

Another of those famous Jenny selfie.


St Crispin's Day Night Ride was such a fantastic even.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. And doing it with the London Brompton Club  was even more fun and enjoyable.  It was my first 100 mile.  A ride I thought I could never do.

A big thank you to the people behind the St Crispin's Day Night Ride. It was a friendly event and well organized. They gave us a cap with a Brompton logo printed.  We felt special.

Thank you too to the beautiful people of LBC.  You are gems.  You are such fun people.

I am looking forward to the next year's St Crispin's.  But next time, I will not be bringing a banana. 



Our cap with Brompton Logo.  We are special.  Banana anyone?

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Brompton World Champtionship 2015 - You are in or out.

Simon Smith is the most important person for me at yesterday's Brompton World Championship 2015 (BWC).  I have been monitoring his movement all day from the time he boarded his train on the way to London from Hertfordshire.  He told me that his ETA (estimated arrival time ) at a station in London is 12.45pm.  I am anxious to met him for he has the "guest pass" that he no longer need but which I desperately require to gain access to the hospitality area along The Mall where the Brompton Bike race will take place.

Zoomzoom admiring The Mall
I have never met Simon before. But thanks to his London Bromptons Club (LBC) Facebook posting, we finally met at 3.33pm as he handed me the all important guest pass over the fence at the entrance to Brompton enclave. I was relieved.
The Belgian contingent

Without fear of hindrance and with high sense of being privileged, I walked confidently into Brompton hospitality area with Zoomzoom.  In plain English this is the area where the riders and their guest congregate before the start of the race, the exact area I want to get access to.  This is where I will be able to rub shoulders with the riders and say hi and hello to the lovely people from overseas I met during last year's BWC at Goodwood
Mac Beltran and friend from Italy

As soon as I stepped into the arena, I was in party mode.  I made sure I was dressed up for the occasion and as if I was going to participate in the race. As you know Lycra is a no no in Brompton Race.  So I wore a pair of expensive looking soft light gray leather shoes and Desigual shirt I bought in Barcelona, a dark blue summer suit and red shorts from H&M and a bow tie in navy blue with a touch of red and yellow.  I thought I looked smart casual.

From Japan
It was a very happy and festive atmosphere and everyone exchanged pleasantries.  My head turned into a rotating robotic head as I did not know where to look first.  Everyone was beautifully attired.
Everyone was looking young and beautiful.  Men were mostly in suit and tie and in fashionably cut shorts.  Oh no, it was not like those boring and almost uniform liked suits you see during FAMAS award nights.  The attires on displayed  were very individual in all exciting and personalized shapes and colours. The lady riders were equally impressive in their choice of gear.  My favorite was the lady wearing a full wedding gown accompanied by her groom. They are from Italy.

Representing Brompton Mafia from USA
The scenes were a feast for my eyes.  Everyone was so friendly and obliging when I asked permission to take their photos. I had a wonderful time chatting and taking photos of riders from Japan, Belgium, Barcelona, Norway, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Switzerland, France and Bristol and from other exotic parts for the world.

Valery Lopez and friend from Barcelona
I was also very happy to see David Parkinson from LBC finally getting a place in the race.  I almost lost my voice shouting and cheering for him and the rest of the LBC gang.  Jenny Chung was super.  She was flying over the race course effortlessly like a little swan. I was going to describe her as legendary but that word has been patented to Bubble Bee and of course Bubble Bee is the darling of everybody.  I was also so happy to see again a couple from Canada, Jon Rivero and partner.  I met them briefly last year and we promised to see each other this year.  It was a pity we had very little time to chat as the race was soon underway.
From France

In no time, the riders were in position and at the strike of 5pm, the first wave of riders were off like bullets, except for one rider who had difficulty unfolding her bike. She however, earned the loudest applause as she finally got it going.  I would have died from embarrassment but she took it in stride and pedal along cheerfully.

A beautiful smile. 
The race was terrific. It was electrifying.  The front runners were so fast.  You blink and they disappear.  The race was soon over after the first rider crossed the finished line in just under 30 minutes.  Phew.... I was more exhausted than the riders for shouting and yelling and cheering.  I should have brought an amplifier.

Representing Malaysia
Slowly the riders descended unto the hospitality area once again exhausted but happy, exchanging their 30 minute race experience and carrying around necks their much earned medals. It was a nice medal.  I liked it.

A happy and lucky couple.  Both got a place in the race.
I had a nice time and I enjoyed cheering with few LBC members.  I stayed awhile then said my quick goodbye. 

As I hesitantly headed towards the exit, a little sadness crept into my senses.  For it confirmed in my mind that BWC 2015 is the beginning of an end of an era.
Jon Rivero and friend from Canada.  Nice to see you both. 

An era when BWC is more of a fun day out. A time when the whole Brompton family is one and united, when there were no barriers, no fences, when you can still say with certainty "see you next year".  It was an event when you see couples in matching costume, a bunch of riders in similar attire, a senior gent and ladies just happy to enjoy the ride instead of being there to race.  An era where the  the spectator is not segregated from the participant.

Flowers in a basket.  It won't be BWC without it.
Earlier before I stepped in the hospitality section, when I was waiting for Simon to hand me over the guest pass over the fence, I got into conversation with a young gentleman from France.  He told me that he is outside of the fence because he does not have a guest pass to join his girlfriend who got a place in the race. When I introduced myself, he gave me a big friendly smile and he said he had read my blog.  Zoomzoom's cruising and riding adventures.

From Scotland
I felt sorry for him, being outside, left alone and segregated. He was resigned to the fact that he will be watching the event from outside the fence on his own, away from his girlfriend. I decided to give him the guest pass that Simon gave me.  He was so happy and he could not believe his luck.

Representing Bristol
That guest pass was actually for a friend of mine who was in the same predicament as I was.  He too did not get a place in the race.  During the day we did the Freecycle together and the plan was after the Freecycle, we would separate.  I will join my LBC friends in the Brompton hospitality area and he will just wait for me somewhere until the race is over. But when I heard that Simon has a spare pass I grabbed the opportunity to have it for my friend.  My friend decided not to use the pass in the last minute because he said there is really nothing for him there.  He was not racing, I was not racing and he hardly know anyone there. He felt he would just be a hanger on. 

Switzerland ?  sorry I can't remember.
He was also disappointed and bitter about how Brompton carried on with this year's BWC.  This business of lottery where everyone is supposed to be have the same equal chance of getting a place seems to be more of a theory than a practice. He felt that your chance of getting a place increases dramatically depending on your age, your country of residence, and if you are well known to Brompton manufacturer. I share his sentiment. It was very noticeable that there were very few oldies among the riders as compared to last year's.
The young Frenchman I met outside without a guest pass.

I also saw a little disappointment in other people eyes.  I saw quite a number of couple where only one partner was wearing an attire.  Last year they were in matching attire.  I missed the other fun people and those "little eccentric" people from last year.  Moreover, I missed the Brompton family atmosphere.  

Well done David . So happy for you.  I will nick that nice medal.
This year's 10th BWC without doubt was held in the best venue imaginable.  The Mall, The Buckingham Palace, The Green Park are excellent location.  It is in the center of London if not the center of the Universe.  To be racing along the streets around these icons is an experience in itself.  I am almost certain Brompton will hold BWC championship again next year at this same location.  And why won't they?
Jenny Chung, Samantha Skye and friend. LBC people

However I find this year's BWC more of a polished public performance by Brompton Manufacturer via selected 500 privileged few, directed towards mass audience. It was not an event for the Brompton family of owners as the previous years.

This years BWC ,will be hailed as the best ever BWC.  It is true and I agree.  It is the best ever BWC to a beginning of an end of an era.

Guest pass.  You are in or out.
If this year is a template for next year's BWC, I for one, will not be looking forward to it. For even in the remote possibility that I get inside the fence, I will be thinking of those people close to my heart who will be outside the fence. To me, happiness is still happiest when shared. It is not easy to share when you are segregated.

All the best for everyone next year.  Will you be in or out the fence next year?

Bag of goodies giveaway as you exit the hospitality area