Travels with my Brompton

In an exciting interruption to my rural existence, I have to go to a meeting … in Copenhagen. This is extra exciting if you’re a cyclist and long time reader of Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic, the two blogs that first opened my eyes to the idea that riding a bike doesn’t have to involve dressing up like a day-glo Christmas tree and going out and doing battle with the cars. Unfortunately, the meeting has nothing to do with cycling, and will take up most of my daylight hours, so I will only have a brief afternoon to experience what has become one of the world’s most renowned cycling cities.* Obviously I could go out and explore the city on foot, but I know from my recent trips to London that there’s nothing worse than plodding about on two feet when everyone else is whizzing past on two wheels. And while I could rent a bike, it was all looking a bit complicated and time would be short.

My Brompton. There's no real purpose for including this picture but you can never really have too many pictures of Bromptons

My Brompton. There’s no real purpose for including this picture but you can never really have too many pictures of Bromptons

Coincidentally, I then stumbled across this and it struck me that the best chance I was going to get to explore the city in daylight was to actually cycle from the airport. Which meant bringing my Brompton – after all, what is the point of having a nifty wee folding bike if you don’t bring it with you wherever you go? The only problem would be getting it onto the plane. Twitter suggested a couple of useful guides but they involved packing the Brompton into a big bag with all your other stuff, with the implication that you’d unpack everything once you arrived and then go for a bike ride. I wanted to be able to just unfold my bike at the airport – preferably without scattering my underwear across the terminal floor – and ride away. My next thought was just to check the Brompton as it was, on the grounds that the baggage handlers might actually take better care of it if they could see that it was a bike, rather than some anonymous lumpy package. But I wasn’t sure the airline would be happy with that, as it was a BIKE and hence all a bit complicated and it might tend to catch on things, and besides they’re just a wee bit too nickable for me to be entirely comfortable sending it on its way naked, as it were.

Bike? What bike?

Bike? What bike?

Fortunately a friend has a sort of burqua for a Brompton, that conceals its dangerous bikey-ness from any transport related jobsworth, and indeed its seductive curves from any thieving toe-rags and he kindly lent it to me. The plan is to use this and a luggage strap to pack it up along with its bag and lock. Hopefully it will survive the trip – and won’t come up against any hitherto unknown rules banning partially clad bikes from airline holds.

I probably could have taken it without the cat's help, but like Bromptons, you can never have too many pictures of cats

I probably could have taken this photo without the cat’s help, but like Bromptons, you can never have too many pictures of cats

I shall keep you posted. And meanwhile, worrying about whether the bike will be allowed, and whether it will make it, and whether I’ll be able to find my way from the airport, will be a useful distraction from my usual dying-in-a-plummeting-fireball worries that accompany most flights.

More on my return, if I am spared.

*I’m sure it has many other good features too.

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9 Responses to Travels with my Brompton

  1. One minor tip – either remove the hinge clamps completely and tape them to the bike, or do them back up tight whilst the bike is folded. I’ve had them vibrate out of the frame when it’s been travelling ‘in the belly of the beast’ so to speak.

  2. disgruntled says:

    Cheers, I think I’ll take them right off

  3. Jenny Mayhew says:

    Ha ha. Let us know how you get on. Nice cat!

  4. disgruntled says:

    Thanks! She’s the neighbour’s, really, but she borrows us

  5. PaulM says:

    You don’t say which airline you are flying with, but: I know BA allows one bag and one “item of sporting equipment” per person without extra charge. They accepted my Brompton bagged up as the “item”, and didn’t demand deflated tyres either.

    My tip would be to stuff some cardboard around between the bike and the bag – old wine bottle boxes work well – to cushion it a bit from small knocks. You can dump the cardboard at the other end and try to get some more for the return.

    The “burqa” looks just like the blue bag, open with a drawstring at the bottom, which every Brommie came with when I bought my first one in 1988. The other accessory was a small blue bag you hung off the saddle, into which the burqa, folded and rolled, snugly fitted.

    The third accessory was a stack of cards hung off the saddle, which you could tear off one at a time to give to all those people who made goggle eyes at it and asked “what’s that then?”

  6. disgruntled says:

    Sadly not BA, but BMI. I think I’m lucky to be allowed one checked piece at all…

    that third accessory made me laugh!

  7. misspiggy says:

    Ooh yes, please put some padding in if you can. After seeing what baggage handlers have done to friends’ wheelchairs, I worry what could happen to your poor bike. Perhaps take some form of repair kit in your hand luggage?

  8. disgruntled says:

    you’ll be pleased to hear it got padded with my coat. And arrived unscathed

  9. [...] cycling injuries. Five lessons from the world’s most bike friendly city, winter edition. How to travel with your Brompton. Looks like next year we can look forward to the Giro d’Eire. A look at the five best Hollywood [...]

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