Travels with My Brompton (part 2)

For those of you waiting with bated breath to find out whether I got my Brompton to Copenhagen okay or not …

I got to the airport and packed up the bike, with my coat over the top as padding*, zipped up its cover, strapped it with the luggage strap and took it to the check in desk. At this point I was quite nervous because the bus driver had already wanted it covered before I brought it onto the airport bus so I had no idea what an actual airline official would make of it. I’d even scoped out the bike parking at the airport in case I needed to leave it locked up somewhere while I was away. They asked if I had any bags to check and I put it on the scale (16kg with coat, lock, burqa and front basket, if you’re interested).

‘I hope it’s okay, it’s my bike,’ I said, having decided that honesty was the best policy

‘Ooh, I’ve never seen one fold up that small,’ said the check in lady.

‘Ooh yes, is there really a bike in there?’ asked the check in bloke (it was almost painful as a proud Brompton owner not to be able to demonstrate the fold then and there but I restrained myself).

All I had to do was take it over to the outsize baggage area, where I had more or less the same conversation with the chap there. Job done. It turns out that when it comes to travelling by plane a Brompton is not so much a means of transport or a problem as a conversation piece. And it appeared unscathed at the other end: I would have been able to ride it right out of the airport into the city had I not had a sudden loss of nerve and got the train instead – not so much because of the distance but because of my non-existent navigational skills. This proved a sound move as, once at Copenhagen Central and with the help of a tourist map, the map at the station and my GPS, I still managed to head in precisely the wrong direction on my way to the hotel, and was in fact well on my way to the airport before I worked out I was going wrong. Cycle-friendly city or no cycle-friendly city, there’s really no infrastructure on earth that will prevent me getting lost if I really put my mind to it.

Since then I’ve been pedalling around trying to master the Copenhagen left, recce my route for tomorrow and not cause a seventeen-bike pile up by stopping in the wrong place to consult my many navigational aids. Amazingly, I even managed to find my way back to the hotel all on my own.

More on my return. Assuming I ever find the airport again, that is…

* when you realise that this is my very expensive (even in the sale) cashmere Jaeger coat that I bought to celebrate signing the contract on my first book, you will realise how much I love that bike


8 Responses to Travels with My Brompton (part 2)

  1. Bob says:

    Suddenly faced with, ‘driving on the Continent’ can be just as daunting as finding ones way in a foreign city. Although it may be slightly easier by bike, but only slightly.
    Happy pedalling.

  2. My mum-in-law had a Brompton, after she died we couldn’t find it anywhere, we even rang the bike shop to see if you had taken it in for repair or something… In the end we found it in the cupboard under the stairs, the reason no one could find it, is that my husband and his three siblings were all looking for something bigger.

  3. disgruntled says:

    Bob – I’m not sure it’s that much easier by bike (and harder in the UK where you’re trying not to get killed at the same time…)
    UHDD – they are quite small … did you inherit it?

  4. Paul M says:

    Congratulations! Like me, you will now no doubt be over the initial fear and confusion about taking a bike on a plane, and so be ready to do it again. I’ve done it a few times now, and the experience of transporting the bike has always been fine, although I still advise using some extra padding inside the bag.

    Apart from my first time, on BA to Nice (a very, very easy ride into town, only 7km on the flat straight along the Promenade des Anglais – you can’t miss it because the sea is to your right all the way into town, and to the left all the way back to the airport) my trips have been with charter airlines on package holidays. The worst it got was a check-in clerk arguing that my Brompton bag wasn’t “baggage” despite its very close resemblance to a large hold-all, and threatening an excess charge, but the supervisor quickly sorted that out. Generally, they are just too curious to think about whether it is more than their job’s worth etc.

    Often the biggest challenge is to get decent maps – the sort that shows all the minor roads so you don’t have to rely on fast busy main roads. Greece proved tricky, although I managed it with some planning, a search through Stanford’s website, and a lot of comparison of map with Google Earth to make sure that what is on the map corresponds with what is on the ground. (Quite a lot of it didn’t). Turkey is nigh impossble because maps are clearly considered to be a military secret. The best source of large-scale maps in fact is old Soviet military maps you can download from a site called

    And if you think you get curious glances in the UK or Copenhagen, you get long, gobsmacked stares in places lilke Greece!

    • Maps: OpenStreetMap is your friend. You can download it for GPS and phones (see Especially in remote places it’s usually considerably better and up-to-date than any other map. Any road worth cycling on or any place worth cycling to, and chances are that an OSM enthusiast has done it before you and mapped it.

      Of course the reason some people are better at navigating and others get lost all the time has nothing to do with the brains 3-d thinking skills, but with being geeky enough to carry a GPS at all times.

  5. disgruntled says:

    Of course now the other half will need one too!

  6. Charles says:

    How did you stop your coat getting covered in oil?

  7. disgruntled says:

    The chain is all tucked away when it’s folded, and the coat went round the outside. Also it’s a dark grey coat, so a few dabs of oil here and there just add a bit of character

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