Brompton to the Rescue! (Again)

There are times when travelling with a Brompton does feel like it’s more trouble than it’s worth – such as when you’re in Chester station sprinting* up and down the stairs after your third platform change in 20 minutes, or indeed when you get to the barrier at the shiny new Kings Cross and discover that you can only top up your Oyster card by going down more stairs to the underground station and back up again because obviously integrated transport systems are for wimps with poor upper-body strength.

But I’m still glad I brought it with me this trip because on Friday, after the conversation had somehow turned to cycling (can’t think how that happened), one of my fellow trainees revealed she’d never ridden a bike as where she grew up it was considered not done for women to cycle. Half jokingly, I suggested she have a go on my Brompton. To my surprise and slight trepidation she readily agreed and so on Saturday during a break in our training I found myself teaching an adult to ride a bike – a first for both of us.

Now the Brompton isn’t always the easiest of bikes to ride, being a bit lively (some might say squirrelly) about the steering. But riding a bike is all about balance and my pupil had beautiful posture, which was half the battle. There was a long straight tarmacked driveway with a gentle downhill slope and I stood in front of her and walked backwards as she rode towards me. After one false start she was away and pedalling like a good un and there was only a little screaming, which quickly went from fear to delight. By the time she had got to the bottom of the drive and back up she was ready to buy her own bike and accompany her daughters on their rides in the park. In fact, once our lesson was over, I had a bit of a job to get her to let go of the Brompton at all…

So, although I now have a terrible case of Brompton shoulder from all yesterday’s lugging about – and undoubtedly a fresh set of Brompton bruises on my leg – I wouldn’t have left it behind for the world. There’s nothing, but nothing, like seeing someone experience the freedom of cycling for the first time to remind you that all the pain and angst and aggro of cycle campaigning is worth it because riding a bike itself is nothing but delight. Now all we have to do is create the conditions so she can ride her new bike on our roads, as well as round the park.

* and by ‘sprinting’ obviously I mean staggering up the stairs with it resting on one thigh.

8 Responses to Brompton to the Rescue! (Again)

  1. I thought about you and your Brompton at breakfast this morning, there was a full page ad in the Guardian, about Brompton working with the government… here you go.

    When my mum in law died there was a bit of a panic when we couldn’t find her Bromptonbike in the house, we thought she’d taken to be repaired, but we didn’t know where; eventually we found it, in the cupboard under the stairs, we’d all been looking for something bigger

  2. disgruntled says:

    Ah but do you ride it now?

  3. John Gibson says:

    Now I come to think of it, I cannot remember any girls riding bikes when I was growing up.

  4. Bob says:

    Good for you. One more convert.
    On the subject of UK train stations in general, I did find that one needs to be in some sort of “shape” to get from platform to platform. Gawd help you if you choose the wrong one.

  5. disgruntled says:

    @John – ah, I was always a cyclist, can’t remember it being a boy girl thing
    @Bob – they do normally have lifts but they can be a bit slow and cumbersome when you’re sprinting for a train

  6. Charles says:

    The concept of sprinting for a train is a very rustic concept. Surely in another life one recalls trying to stagger through a London commute without murdering anyone?

  7. disgruntled says:

    Ah, but when I was commuting, I always – but always – sprinted for the train. The first rule of commuting is that you get on the train you see, because if you don’t it may be the last one that ever runs that day

  8. Enjoy your blogs! Got my Brompton here in Bangkok recently, enjoying it a lot so far.

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