Regent’s run

We popped out on the Bromptons again yesterday, this time heading up the Regent’s Canal as far as Victoria Park and back.

Victoria Park was mobbed with other cyclists, runners, walkers and random toddlers who seemed determined to walk in front of someone. And there were the dogs! Victoria Park is beautiful, but as soon as the sun comes out, it can turn into a bit of an obstacle course for anyone moving fast than walking pace.

Good thing the Brompton is a nippy and very manoeuvrable bike! But no real opportunity to take photos in the park. Which is a shame, as there was so much going on. Picnics, live music, cricket and football.

Once we got back to Canary Wharf, our psychic connection meant that we pulled in next to 28 West at exactly the same time – thinking only one thing: “Drink!” The cycle had been thirsty work and the bar had outdoor seating with excellent views out onto the Thames.

One frosty pint of Diet Coke later, we were on our way home and after a bit of Brompton folding practice outside, brought the bikes back up into the apartment. Where they now live in our hallway closet, safely covered in bike bags.

A lovely Brompton ride for two

We took our Bromptons out for a quick spin yesterday afternoon. Only from Canary Wharf to St. Katherine Docks, but it was great to get outside (in advance of an evening in front of the TV) and enjoy a brief sunny interlude while enjoying a drink at Starbucks.

The only challenge? Dealing with the cobblestones we encountered all across Wapping. Not a Brompton’s best friend!

Looking forward to some longer rides in the near future. I’m really pleased with my new S3L – it’s a very nippy and comfortable ride and the additional of a great little carrying handle from OffyerBike.com makes it super easy to carry around.

I’m really delighted that the two bikes can fit really easily side-by-side under our hallway cabinet. They can also be stored, in their respective bags, in the hallway cupboard, completely out of sight. We were toying with the idea of getting a new cabinet to store them in, but this solution is more elegant – and a lot cheaper!

Only one decision left on my Brompton-related shopping list. I have some gift vouchers for a local bike shop. Should I used them to upgrade my saddle to a Brooke’s model, or get a Brompton S-bag for carrying around my stuff for work?

A Brompton change of plan

Unbelievably, my second order of an orange Brompton M3L was cancelled by the store, this time one in Wales. I was about to give up when @FrankDJS and I went for a look in a local bike shop and saw an absolutely gorgeous M6L in navy blue. I fell in love with the colour immediately, but felt conflicted about buying a bike from Evans after the pretty poor customer service I’d received previously.

A quick Google search revealed that Condor Cycles on Gray’s Inn Road had just the model I was looking for, and for quite a bit less! We rang, reserved one and made our way over to pick it up.

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Once I got there, I realised they had both an M3L and an S3L – the difference in model being how the handlebars are set out (‘s’ for ‘straight’). A quick fitting on the S3L and I opted for it straight away. Some riders report finding it uncomfortable, but as I’m so short (a blessing in disguise in this case), it’s just the perfect riding position for me.

The service in Condor was great – really friendly and informative. They definitely know their bikes and were very patient with my prevarication between the various options. I also picked up one of the new Brompton Tote bags to carry on the front of the bike. It’s effectively impossible for me to leave home without some form of bag

I walked it most of the way home, as @FrankDJS was with me, but let rip with a speedy cycle once we got off the DLR back in Canary Wharf. It’s a beautifully nippy little bike and the best bit is that it fits perfectly under our hall cabinet, meaning it can be kept in the apartment and there’s no need to buy any new furniture to house it.

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Love it and can’t wait to get out for a spin this weekend!

 

 

 

Awaiting this little beauty

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I bought myself a new Brompton last weekend and I’m really impatient for its arrival!

We’re conducting a bit of an internal ‘shuffle’ of bikes here at Casa MacPsych, with @FrankDJS getting my black M3L and me getting a new model, this time in an utterly gorgeous shade of orange.

I opted for classic black with my first Brompton, but within months, had a tinge of regret that I hadn’t gone with something a little bolder. As orange is my favourite colour, it was the natural choice.

My only challenge now is waiting for its arrival – despite ordering it on May 1st, it could be another week until it’s here. And I would have loved to have had it this weekend, to whizz around in the sunshine. Looks like I’ll have to run instead.

What a fantastic idea!

Spotted this on my way into Warrington Bank Quay station this evening (I live the high life, right?): A dock where you can rent a Brompton

It says “£2.50 a day”, which sounds like an absolute bargain to me! Not sure how popular it is or how widely used in the local area – but how cool, right?

Anything that increases access to these nifty little bikes is alright in my book. Especially if you haven’t got hundreds of pounds to buy one.

Bromptoning by the river

Just in from a lovely potter about on the Brompton. According to the data on @FrankDJS’ Apple Watch, we covered 11.72 miles in about 1 hour, 49 mins. So, not exactly racing about!

We left Canary Wharf and headed to Limehouse, then north along Regent’s Canal. There was a real buzz along the canal, with other cyclists, runners and barge-owners out enjoying the sunshine. After a quick circuit of beautiful Victoria Park, avoiding dogs, joggers and toddlers on bikes, we headed back down the canal and over to Wapping, via the Thames Path and Shadwell Basin.

We were really lucky with the weather – it stayed dry, little wind and sporadic sunshine. Perfect biking conditions for this fair-weather cyclist. And quite a surprise, given it’s a Bank Holiday – when the weather tends to be arctic and wet.

We also saw a nice bit of nature – lots of wildlife out and about in the sun. The local swans were out in Shadwell Basin, geese and swans lined Regent’s Canal and we got close to a heron in the ornamental canal in Wapping.

    

It was great to be back on the bike and, considering I abused my joints during the marathon last week, I’m not feeling too bad at all. I made sure we took it easy, barey breaking a sweat. Time to start planning some longer excursions as we head into the nicer weather.

A canal adventure

I gave the Brompton an airing today. I didn’t want to run two days in a row, but did want to get outside. So @FrankDJS and I (he on his Boris Bike) cycled from Canary Wharf through Limehouse and up Regent’s Canal. I have to admit that in nearly ten years of living in Wapping and a year in Canary Wharf, this was my first journey along the canal.

It is a gem.

Okay, so it’s not pristine all the way along – we encountered a fair bit of broken glass on the cycle path at some points, along with discarded Chinese take-away cartons – but it was alive with other (equally useless) cyclists and some quite impressive (read: fit) runners. There was a real sense of activity and a positive vibe all along the route.

I managed to snag a few pics along the way, but really wish I’d managed more. For some reason, I missed most of the very pretty areas – probably too busy actually enjoying myself.

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The canal is chock-a-block with barges and house-boats. I have a thing for these, having worked on some in France one summer as a student. It’s a lovely way of life, as long as you don’t mind not having a proper toilet or shower. And noise carries over water like you wouldn’t believe. And there’s the constant smell of fuel.

But apart from that…it’s paradise.

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We even had time to take a cycling-selfie at the half-way point. When we weren’t navigating the path when it got dangerously narrow and I began to mentally work out how much it would cost me to replace me belongings if I accidentally cycled into the canal. No accidents, thankfully, but it was close at some points. Not all cyclists slow down when they see you coming – neither do all runners!

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It was my first time using the MapMyRide app and I can really recommend it. It was very accurate and comparable to Nike+ for running. I’ll definitely be using it for similar (and longer) cycles. It’s idiot proof and free. While there is a paid upgrade, I’m not yet sure if it’s worth the fee. I’ll see how the next few rides work our and if it’s worth my while. And it had a surprisingly limited impact on my iPhone’s battery, which is always good news when something is using Location Services.

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Next time, I’d like to keep going and make it all the way up to the St. Pancras Basin. Or spend more time cycling around Victoria Park. Seriously, I can’t believe this has been on my doorstep all this time and I’ve not experienced it until today. Just shows you…

Oh, and the fact that it was quite busy is a mixed blessing. Not great for getting up real speed on the bike (see the screen shot above for the evidence!) but fantastic for running. I never like running where I’m all alone – which can actually happen in London, all evidence to the contrary. Lots of runners out this morning and lots of great routes to take through Victoria Park.

So all in all, a lovely morning cycle – one I’ll be sure to repeat.

Meandering by the river

I spent most of this afternoon cycling around by the river. From Canary Wharf along the Thames Path, through Limehouse and Wapping out to St. Katherine Docks.

The sun was out, the bike needed an airing and I was keen to avoid staying in all day – despite the symptoms of chemical warfare my hay fever seemed to represent. Dosed up to the eyeballs on antihistamines (delicate flower that I am) @FrankDJS and I began our wander out westwards. With him walking, I was challenged to maintain a similar pace on the bike, but it’s all good practice for negotiating slow moving traffic.

We encountered another Brompton rider, out for a test drive on a lovely looking orange version of my own M3L. I’m still a little sad I didn’t go for a brighter colour over black – the orange in particular looks great. Maybe on the next model…

It was great to feel the sun on my face and to stop now and then to take a quick picture of anything interesting or striking. After a relaxing drink and a chat with a friend at St. Katherine Docks, we headed back, taking a slightly different route to see the progress at the old New International plant in Wapping. In short, they’re tearing it down quick-style. Can’t wait to see the developing that’s going to take its place.

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I took the above shot from the western end of Shadwell Basin, looking back towards Canary Wharf. There were the usual fishermen, but also groups enjoying barbecues and even some people swimming – something I’ve never seen before. Not sure exactly how clean the water is or how safe it is, but they looked like they were having fun.

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Over at St. Katherine Docks, the place was (as usual) busy with tourists and groups of foreign students from language schools. The latter travel in packs, so it was usually easier to walk with my bike than to try and cycle it. I took a quick pic of the ‘Gloriana’, which you might remember from the very, very wet Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. At least I think it was the Gloriana – I don’t think  there are many of these just floating about in London these days.

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The view back along the river, towards the City. It was beginning to cloud over quite a bit by this point, so I think we timed our return very well.

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My ‘faithful steed’ for the afternoon, my Brompton. Now including a new handle to lift it more easily when in the folded position. Works like a charm and adds next to no weight. I also attached some ‘easy wheels’ to the rear for wheeling it when folded. They make a big difference, so I’m looking forward to trying this out in a more applied setting – e.g. a railway station or shop.

All in all, a lovely couple of hours by the river – reminding me how lucky I am to live in this part of town.

London in the sun: can’t be beat!

A Sunday Brompton Meander

Today’s weather was perfect for it, so we headed out for a brief cycle around the Isle of Dogs. I on my shiny new M3L Brompton and @FrankDJS on a Boris Bike.

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It’s still taking me a stupid amount of time to get the thing folded and unfolded, but I’m definitely faster than on day one. And I’ve since bought the Brompton folding basket for the front. It’s excellent – lightweight, holds a ton of stuff and folds to almost flat for storage back at the apartment.

I had a lot of Amazon vouchers left over from my birthday in February, so I also splashed out and got the Brompton O Bag for commuting. That hasn’t turned up, but I’ll post a review once I’ve had a chance to use it. All the same, the basket held a messenger bag, a couple of sweaters, some drinks and various bits and bobs. As it’s attached to the frame, not the handlebars, the weight is centred and steering isn’t affected at all.

I have to admit, this took a little getting used to – I’d turn the handlebars, but the basket didn’t budge, which is very counterintuitive! I kept thinking I wasn’t going to turn, or that the handlebars had somehow become detached from the front wheel.

Yes. It’s been a while since I cycled.

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We took it very easy. @FrankDJS  being Dutch, has cycling virtually in his DNA. But I’m less confident, so we stuck to the river path and avoided the traffic. This took us all around the Isle of Dogs and back home. We passed some scenic spots like the O2, Greenwich and some lovely houseboats.

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After that, it was back to Starbucks for a coffee. I have to admit, I found it difficult to operate the bike in “shopping cart” mode and had to carry it around instead. Something else to practice. All the same, folded up, it fit perfectly under the table in Starbucks.

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Looking forward to more and longer trips in the coming weeks.