101 Uses for a Brompton: Being Left Behind

I am in London for a couple of days, having barely been down at all for a year now. And this morning, as I was setting off, I decided to do something unthinkable and head off without the Brompton. I realised that there was no really obvious journey I would be making that wouldn’t, realistically, just be easier on public transport. And while riding a bike instead of taking the tube would save me money, equally not lugging a bike about would save me from collecting another fine set of Brompton bruises.

It felt a bit weird to be able to just hop on a train without the usual encumbrance, and it did mean that I could – luxury of luxuries – stop and buy a non-train coffee while changing trains at Carlisle, something that requires a third hand when also lugging a Brompton on and off the train. It also meant descending into the third circle of hell that is Euston underground and shelling out zone 1 money for my Oyster* and saddest of all, not getting to play on the new Superhighways, which weren’t quite finished last time I had to cross the Thames. But for every blissful traffic-free moment on the Superhighway, I would still have had to spend several eternities watching my own and other people’s lives flashing before my eyes on the rest of the route between Euston and Vauxhall (I am still scarred from watching a lorry overtake and then turn left across a woman cycling in front of me, forcing her to hop up onto the pavement to escape its back wheels).

So on balance, I think I made the right decision, although as the Brompton functions as much as a badge of office as a means of transport, I might have difficulty getting into the Cycling UK headquarters tomorrow when I show up for a meeting. Then again, they are in Guildford, which if memory serves is one of the least cycle-friendly places on earth, so they may be used to it.

* and the bastards charged me for going through the ticket gates at Vauxhall, realising I needed to go out again and buy something from the shop and then going back in again. Daylight robbery.


2 Responses to 101 Uses for a Brompton: Being Left Behind

  1. Paul M says:

    Firstly, just a tip – you don’t need an Oyster any more. You can use any debit card equipped with a RFID chip (that ))) symbol) and get the same fare structure.
    In my working life I always, always had by Brompton on the train with me, and since retiring my twice-monthly trips to town to meet my handful of private clients have always involved a little ride from Waterloo, occasionally in a raincoat and broad-brimmed hat (one hand on the handle bars, the other holding the hat down).
    I did however make my last trip of 2016 without bike. I was meeting a client in the tearoom at the National Gallery*, and it really isn’t worth the trouble of crossing from one bank of the Thames to the other on a bicycle, however you try to rationalise it. I still felt absolutely bereft. On my first trip of 2017, the other day, it felt so good to have my Brommie back, even though I wheeled it a fair way in company with a pedestrian companion.

    * This client has an office at his employers, but prefers to do his personal business away from it. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the places where you can have a proper pot of tea or coffee with a pastry, sitting down and served by a waiter/ress, without being totally fleeced. It would almost be worth working for him for nothing, just for the information.

  2. disgruntled says:

    Your client sounds like a useful man to know. I do know about the contactless card thing, but I prefer not to be fumbling around with my bank card in a busy tube station…

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