101 Uses for a Brompton: Drawing a Crowd

Bigtown Cycling Campaign had a stall at the Environment Fair today, which meant an oh god start for a Saturday morning – and a ride down to Bigtown in the drizzle, not helped by the fact that my rain skirt was acting as a waterproof cover for for the Brompton basket which was holding all of our literature for the stall, instead of keeping my legs dry…

The Environment Fair is a big family event and the stall holders do a lot to provide entertaining activities (the guy opposite us was having kids making pencils out of wood which seemed to involve hitting them (the pencils, not the kids) with a large comedy hammer). We had rather more sedate activities involving identifying desire lines and barriers to cycling, but to compete with the pencil making we also had our secret weapon: the Brompton.

Now, just unfolding a Brompton anywhere except London is liable to draw a crowd anyway, but we went one further and decided to turn it into a time trial – timing people unfolding it and folding it back up again with a small prize for the fastest adult and child.* The Brompton had been specially washed and brushed up for the occasion and while a game few wrestled with the intricacies of ‘the fold’, we were able to pounce on those watching with flyers and impertinent questions about their cycling habits. I was slightly nervous that by the end of the day I’d find myself with nothing but a pile of disconnected Brompton parts but the bike seemed to cope with being manhandled in all sorts of extraordinary ways, and got me safely home, albeit into a headwind. I don’t know how it’s feeling now – but I’ve spent the rest of the day collapsed on the sofa. Talking to people is exhausting…

On the errandonnee front, I’m not 100% sure what category this comes under, but have decided to go for ‘Community meeting’. So that’s ride 2 under my belt now. 10 more to go

Errand: attending Environment fair. Distance: 16 miles (or 32 given Brompton miles count double). Category: community meeting. Observation: I can unfold and fold a Brompton in 34 seconds.

*this was to give the adults a chance as for most of the day pole position was held by a 12-year-old, who kept coming back to record a faster time if she saw herself slipping down the leader board.

Environment fair stand

The Brompton ready for action

8 Responses to 101 Uses for a Brompton: Drawing a Crowd

  1. Andy in Germany says:

    Bakfietsen have the same effect for crowds. Harder to fold though, I imagine.

  2. bertbeerpot says:

    Where’s the Strava segment?
    .. and what was the best time?

  3. Paul M says:

    I bought my first Brompton in 1988 – my boss had one, which he had used that day to ride in from Putney as there was a tube strike on. I couldn’t then, and I can’t now, envisage my old boss riding a bicycle but there it was.

    Back then every new Brompton had a block of tear-off tags attached to the back of the saddle, to hand out to people who gawked at it and asked “whassat then” or more to the point “where can I buy one of those excellent velocipedes”. My boss tore one off for me (made a change from tearing me off a strip) and I duly went out and bought two, for myself and Mrs M.

    We used to take them with us on holiday, mainly trips around the wine regions of France, where they were handy for touring the vineyards and growers as we believed (incorrectly, I gather) that there is no offence of being drunk in charge of a bicycle in France. We dispensed quite a few tags to admiring passers-by but I don’t know how well they fared, as I suspect Brompton had not then achieved its international reach.

  4. disgruntled says:

    @Andy – you’d have to give Bakfiets rides or something
    @Bert – fastest time for a non Brompton owner was 50 seconds. For a Brompton owner, 32 seconds
    @Paul – I could definitely have sold the Brompton several times over yesterday, but I needed it to get home

  5. 32 Seconds?

    Were they cleaning the parts as they separated them?

  6. disgruntled says:

    What can I say, we have a slower pace of life down here in the south west..

  7. […] Town Mouse also has a Brompton, and uses it to attend an Environment fair, and filed it under community meeting. (How many seconds does it take you to fold a Brompton?) […]

  8. […] without providing some sort of hands-on activity. For the last couple of years we’ve let the Brompton be the star attraction, but this year we’re being a bit more ambitious and are assembling a […]

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