Sunday 23 August 2015

Zoomzoom to Boxhill

I would not want to miss it again. That is why when David Parkinson, our ride leader, created this provisional event for London Brompton Club (LBC) few weeks ago, I signed up immediately and hoped it will go ahead.  And it did.

Of course I was nervous and the name Box Hill denotes pain and sufferings.  But the lure of fabulous dinner, views and a ride with the crazy people of LBC are enough for me to ignore the negative side of the equation. Also, this ride is in my necks of wood and I thought, whatever happens I can easily get back home.

This is my first time to Box Hill.  As as you know there is always that heightened excitement on anything first time.  ( Yeah.  Now I got you thinking.)  So I did not really know what to expect.  But one thing I am sure of, is that I will have fun. 

I always like Fridays.  Friday gives me a sigh of relief knowing that I made it through the week and that week end

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