Thursday, 8 August 2019

Camping in the Somerset Levels

At last a camping weekend. With members of the Backpackers Club, cycle camping, not the usual backpacking. I loaded the bike in the back of the car together with T bag, which easily took everything that was needed. I made my way on the Friday afternoon to Greenacres Campsite at North Wootton where I met up with others. An easy one mile walk down the lane to The Crossways for a drink in the evening.

The tent I took is a Tarptent Stratospire 1 which is just perfect for camping with a Brompton. Unusually for a one man tent, it has a porch on each side and there is room for the bike, folded, in one of the porches. It doesn't encroach on the living space and, when zipped up, is protected from prying eyes. I used the tent without the inner this time.

Next morning, with the promise of fine weather, the seven of us (just the one Brompton, a tandem and assorted other bikes) set off after breakfast on a delightful route along quiet, narrow lanes to skirt Glastonbury, then through Shapwick, Catcott and then Childen Polden where we were just in time at the village hall for Cornish pasties, cake and coffee, a monthly event found purely by chance.

From Burrowbridge, we followed the excellent River Parrott cycle trail which took us to Weston Zoyland which I recalled from 2009 when I overnighted on a site there on my Land's End to John o'Groats walk.

Our pitch for Saturday night was at Thorney Lakes Caravan and Camping Park, a little south of Langport.

On Sunday morning, we took a road route back up to Langport to Somerton where we had a coffee and cake stop at a cafe in the centre of the town. We then followed quiet lanes back to North Wootton.

Altogether a great weekend and the Brompton behaved impeccably and was admired. It handles very well with a loaded T bag on the front.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Backpackers Club Christmas get together

My first proper outing on the Brompton was a success. I strapped my loaded backpack on to the back. In fact, before I left home, I removed the bungee cord that can be seen in the photo as it wasn't necessary.

I cycled the half mile to town (although I pushed some of the way up the hill from the house), caught the bus to Banbury and then the train to Derby (only stopping at Birmingham New Street) and then bus to Ashbourne. From there, I reassembled the bike and found the start of the Tissington Trail.

Tissington Trail
It was then vaguely uphill for 10.5 miles to the camp site in Biggin where a number of other backpackers were already pitched - one other on a Brompton who had come down from Cumbria. Once at Biggin, the bikes were folded and left in the village hall all weekend as they weren't needed. The weather wasn't brilliant.

Come Sunday morning, it was back down (rather easier) to Ashbourne and the bus. I had to change at Birmingham but my train from Derby was delayed so I missed my connection but not a big problem. Arriving back at Banbury, there being no Sunday bus service to home, I cycled a quiet route, some of it on Nation Cycle Route 5 and it was very enjoyable, apart from one stretch which took me on an an uphill track through a field followed by a muddy track but this led eventually to a lane. There were a number of hills where I got off and pushed. I cycled the last hour in the dark but I loved it. I was impressed with the Brompton dynamo lights. The route was just over sixteen miles.

Interestingly, and this shows the discrepancy between manufacturers of bags, my backpack, a Gossamer Gear Mariposa, has a capacity in the main compartment of 36 litres; this and the various outside pockets (which I used) make a total of 60 litres. Apart from the food which I had taken and eaten, I managed to decant everything in my 31 litre T Bag so I could actually have taken that instead of the backpack. A case of a quart into a pint pot!

Thursday, 29 November 2018

First camping trip

I'm taking my Brompton for its first camping expedition this weekend. Just two nights static camping. I shall take a backpack rather than a Brompton T Bag and this holds everything I'll need. Having looked at a helpful video on YouTube, I've managed to mount my backpack on the rear carrier. I hope it holds.

From home, I shall ride the half mile or so to catch a bus to Banbury bus station, walk the short distance to the rail station and travel by train to Derby. From there, by bus to Ashbourne and then cycle around eight miles along the Tissington Trail to my intended campsite. The Trail north out of Ashbourne is generally uphill. I use a very good app called Komoot for route planning. It tells me that my outgoing route from Ashbourne will be 1hr 26 mins and return route 1hr 6 mins.

I shall post again next week and assess how well, or otherwise, the weekend goes.

Mine's not the only Brompton in town

Ridng up to my local health centre for a 'flu jab the other day, only a couple of hundred yards from home, I caught up with another Brompton. His two gears were no match for my six, it seemed. We stopped and had a chat. He's had his for a couple of years. I think it might have been a special edition, brazed joints, etc. It was rather smart with S bars. No doubt we'll run into each other again.

Monday, 12 November 2018

The maiden outing

For those who are interested, my Brompton is an H6R. The H refers to the type of handlebars. I opted for the most upright riding position as I have a slightly dodgy neck which doesn't like a position where my neck vertebrae are compressed for any length of time. The 6 refers to 6 gears and I went for the one with -12% lowered gearing for, I'm told, better hill climbing. Finally, the R means that I have mudguards front and back and a rear carrier with little wheels attached which make transporting it very easy.

I chose a Brooks leather saddle and dynamo lighting.

On Saturday, I applied some Brooks Proofide to the Brooks leather saddle. There wasn't much in the little sachet that came with the bike but presumably it was enough. I shall have to buy a tin although whether it is any better than the Nikwax I put on leather boots, I don't really know.

On Sunday, I went out for a spin of five miles. It seems fine, although there is one little problem which I shall have to ask Walton Street Cycles about. The seat post, although it seems tightened, slips a little when I am in motion and this is very annoying so, several times, I had to stop and adjust the height of the seat.

Apart from this, I think I am going to like the bike very much.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

My new friend

After a wait of about six weeks since placing my order, I received a call today from Walton Street Cycles in Oxford to say that my new Brompton folding bike had arrived, been assembled, and was ready for collection. I drove down to Oxford, parked, and walked the fifty or so yards to the shop. On saying what I had come for, the assistant in the shop exclaimed, "So you're the red and green one!" It seemed that everyone in the shop had been discussing the colour scheme. Anyone who buys a new Brompton must choose the colour or colours they want. One of the shop staff had said he definitely didn't like it whereas the others did like it, thinking it was rather Christmassy. I have to say, though, that after I had placed the order, I had second thoughts about the colour scheme and that perhaps I should have chosen all green (it's British Racing Green) as it would have been a little more discreet. Anyway, I didn't do anything about it and I actually like the way it looks. It's very distinctive.

I was taken through the folding and unfolding procedure which is quite straightforward and I will get the hang of it with practice. I paid and then carried it to the car. It was just starting to rain so I lobbed it in the back and dived into the car. Within a couple of minutes, the heavens opened.

I shall now plan some adventures. The bike will be taken to places in my camper van and so there be some overlap with my camper blog and there may also be an overlap with my backpacking blog. We'll see how it works out.

Anyway, here are some initial photos.

Weather permitting, I plan to take it for its maiden voyage tomorrow, just a spin of a few miles locally.

Camping in the Somerset Levels

At last a camping weekend. With members of the Backpackers Club, cycle camping, not the usual backpacking. I loaded the bike in the back of ...