All over the globe, there’s an ever growing number of people that own a Brompton. For most of them the bike is merely one that perfectly fits their needs, for others the Brompton is way more than that. On our adventures, we aim to meet some of the people that make the Brompton community the fun and welcoming bunch that it is. Presenting our ‘peoples section’!
When I was in Barcelona for the BWC Championship, I teamed up with Valéria Lopes for a little talk about the town, bicycles and Bromptons. Valéria – born in Sao Paolo Brasil and currently residing in the Catalan capital – is a freelancer who works in the hospitality sector. In the wondrous world of bicycles fanatics however, she’s known for the quirky bicycle bags she makes.
It all started in 2014 when she made a bag for her bike and posted a picture on Facebook. Besides the usual thumbs up, people also wanted to know where the bags could be bought. Three years later, Valéria has her own studio where she makes her bags and stocks other bike related accessories. Hence the aptly named website Valeria’s Bike Accessories, where the bags can be bought.
We thought it would be a great idea to have our little talk about ‘the bike that moves us’ in the Brompton Junction BCN, so we took a an empty seat in the cosy clubhouse and talked Brompton. Turns out Valéria has been riding Brompton bikes since 2007 when she purchased her first second hand Brommie. That bike changed hands when she lived in Italy, but in late 2013, she bought herself a shiny new 3M Apple Green Brompton.
And Valéria definitely puts her Brompton to good use on a daily basis. Whether she is picking up a group at the airport or when she’s delivering her handmade bags throughout the city, her trusty folder bike is always by her side. Oh by the way, if you see Valéria racing the track, you might notice she’s also sporting a meticulously tuned race bike (think tires, rims, crank, levers…the works).
Well, actually there were three reasons for Valéria to choose a Brompton as her two wheeled ‘weapon of choice’. For somebody who lives in Barcelona, a Brompton is an obvious choice since it folds up as compact as it does. It’s a very practical bike that doesn’t require a large stocking place, it can easily be used in combination with public transportation and you can pretty much take it everywhere you want. Doctor, dentist, bar, or even the cinema… you name it, Valéria tried it!
Another thing that intrigued Valéria was the beautiful story on how Mr. Ritchie started the company, which rubs of some extra charm on the bike. If you’re into the bike, David Henshaw’s book ‘Brompton Bicycle’ is a must read.
And last but not least, there’s this huge, worldwide Brompton community of like minded spirits to interact with, something Valéria really enjoys. However comfy the Chesterfield in the Junction Clubhouse might have been, the time felt right to ‘saddle up’. Valéria was meeting her Brompton buddies at the Montmeló circuit for an evening ride, and I was courteously invited to tag along. With the BWC Barcelona 2017 being a mere two days away, this was a more than welcome invitation. It just goes to show the Brompton community is one big happy family.
I couldn’t help but smile when Valéria told me that the beach side ride from Hotel W to the Forum (and back) is the ride she enjoys the most in sunny Barcelona. As it happens, that’s the exact same ride I do every time I visit Barcelona with family or friends. Everybody loves sandy beaches, the sound of seagulls and the sight of foamy waves crashing onto the shores, right? Combine this with a most welcome tapas stop, some cocktails or vermouth and the obligatory photo opportunities and you know why we all like this ride so much.
And unlike a leisurely beach ride, a visit to Barcelona’s numerous mountains will surely put your legs to work. So if you’re feeling sporty, why not head up to Montjuïc, also one of Valéria’s favorites. Enjoy the views, visit the castle, the Olympic site, Fundació Miro… Also remember that the most fun part of conquering a mountain with your bike is the speedy way down. Enjoy!
Words to the wise
You might have heard this one before, but when it comes to riding a Brompton in Barcelona Valéria advices to take your bike with you wherever you go, never leave it unattended (not even locked) as it can and will magically disappear in a matter of seconds *. And when you’re taking your bike out on a night on the town, make sure there’s a place where you can safely shelter your bike. If not, you have two choices: choose another place to go or leave your bike at home.
A Brompton – even when it’s locked – has the tendency to magically disappear. Never leave your B unattended, just take it wherever you go.
* Now Valéria’s advice might sound drastic, but it actually isn’t. When we rented two Bromptons in Barcelona in 2016, they didn’t come with a lock. Turns out they had too many locked Bromptons stolen.
As far as the future goes, you might spot Valéria while she’s racing the BWC Final in London. And even though nothing has been planned yet, Valéria has her heart set on doing a long trip around Taiwan. “In the end” she sighs, “all I want to do is travel the world and just ride with the Big Brompton communities. And one day, I will!”
Fun times were had in Barcelona (still more posts coming up). I can’t thank Valéria enough for her time and for arranging the pre comp test ride on the Montmeló circuit. Next up, the stylish city Milano! Let me know who the local heroes in Milano are!