The first trip abroad with my three month old Brompton was as easy as could be. A few days prior to my weekend in London I bought myself a saddle bag. This since I read on the internet that the bike needed to be covered up, for it to be allowed on the Eurostar train. In the morning,I rode the bike to the Turnhout train station, which is like a 2 minute ride. There I casually impressed several bystanders with a fast fold seconds before I boarded the train to Brussels. Once at the Eurostar check-in, a friendly lady asked me if I would be kind enough to cover the bike up. Luckily I came prepared, so I put on his jacket! That last minute purchase immediately paid off. And for those that wonder how I managed to get the Samsonite trolley on the bike? Well, I didn’t. My girlfriend was kind enough to wheel it around. Hey, it was half filled with her stuff too.
After transferring to the tube in London, I decided to ride the last bit to Shoreditch, where we had booked a room in the Hoxton hotel. And then it happened, my seat post just slid down as soon as I sat on it, making me look quite a fool. Turns out that when getting my bike ‘competition ready’, I oiled up the seat post instead of degreasing it. A major rookie mistake that no spare handkerchief could solve. I decided to let it slide – pun intended – and enjoy the day with my friends. We spotted some nice street art, enjoyed brunch in the Ace hotel, did some shopping, had a mediocre diner and ended the evening with cocktails in the White Lyan, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Unfortunately for the cocktail buff that I am, the wannabe athlete took over. An early night it was!
Next morning we enjoyed a healthy breakfast at E5 Bakehouse, before I made way to The Mall where the competition was being held. It was such fun crossing a mainly car free London (thank you Prudential Ride) by bike. Every single turn I took, I found more cyclists on my way. At the hospitality area of the event one could enjoy a gin tonic or beer, have something to eat or just enjoy the sight of some 500 nicely dressed Bromptoneers. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. To be honest, I was on the verge of shitting myself while waiting for the competition to start. At least the Brompton mechanics had a quick look at my seat post, so that was that problem sorted, no?
The race itself started with a mad dash toward our bikes, which as you might imagine, needed to be unfolded. I think I did pretty well, but once unfolded, I struggled to get my feet in the toe clips as the pedals kept turning. Mental note to self (#1), go clipless! I had never ridden in a small pack before, let alone a peloton of this size, but at a certain point in the first or second lap, I noticed I was going about 40 km per hour, well above my normal average. I overhauled people on the right, but got overtaken as easy. It turned out my seat post was still sliding down, which caused me to stop to alter it. Twice! Sups that had cost me quite some time, I still managed to finish in a much appreciated 75th position.
What an experience that was, I had an absolute blast!
Still on London soil I decided to come back in 2017 – if they would have me – aiming to reach the top 50. The couple that accompanied us bought two Bromptons the week after the BWC and we also decided to buy another Brommie, one more suitable for facing. So that’s 4 Bromptons, which means we have a team ready!