A couple of weeks ago we decided to do something a little different and we joined a gathering of the London Brompton Club in Sheffield – where a couple of members had planned out a full day's cycling around the city and we thought it sounded like good fun! We were also largely persuaded by the promise of fine weather – not yet being in possession of wet weather gear, knowing it would be a warm, sunny day meant that all we would have to worry about was our own fitness levels.
We may our way to Sheffield and before we had even left the station had bumped into three other Brompton-eers (auts?). We wandered out to the lovely plaza at the front of the station to the designated meeting point and we waited.
As we waited, we were joined by yet more bikes and their owners:
We were approached by a gentleman called Jeff who runs a site called Sheffield Cycle Chic who asked if he could take my picture for the site! They champion people cycling in normal clothes on hills and I'm extremely gratified to have been thought stylish enough to be worthy of a picture! Although of course I don't particularly think I looked it. Shamelessly borrowed are the pictures they took of me:
I love how my bike looks in that last pic!
While all this was going on, a couple of people started to tweet about this strange gathering of Bromptons in the square outside Sheffield station. They even posted pictures:
Our numbers continued to grow:
While we were waiting for more people we got a good look at several of the surrounding bikes – giving lots of ideas for accessory potential. Here are some of our favourites.
Bikes that look like animals! The already famous Bumble B…
And a titanium Tigger…
My favourite bike was probably Janet's with all of the flowers and butterflies – looks perfect on that background and she had an awesome wicker basket too!
This I believe is the Lady GaGa bike – everything in black or pink…
A titanium bike in the beautiful Raw Lacquer finish. Check out the brazing on those joins!
We came across many a special Brooks saddle:
Some good Carradice saddlebags – another British legend!
Eventually it was time to think about setting off and we all gathered round for a bit of a pre-ride briefing/pep talk:
We all lined up for the obligatory thirty-odd-Bromptons-all-in-a-row shot:
And we set off!
We hardly took any pictures on the move, as we haven't mastered the art of cycling while taking pictures, like some have, so again I have borrowed photos from others.
We got to visit the birthplace of stainless steel and hear how the steel trade has changed in Sheffield over the years.
Almost every picture ever taken of me has me with my eyes closed and/or my mouth open, so it's nice to see others continue in this vein, although the subsequent picture of Trev is nice!
We stopped before lunch at the soon to be demolished Don Valley Stadium and Trev climbed up inside some large metal thing to take pictures:
Finally it was time for lunch! We had an epic meal of fish and chips – although my having a fish cake, with curry sauce seemed a controversial choice. I'm still struggling to get used to fish cakes containing both fish and potato up North, whereas down South it's all just fish! Tasty, nonetheless.
My redness here can be attributed to both sunburn (yay, finally – I normally get my first bout of sunburn in March, so was feeling sad to have waited so long!) and extreme unfitness. I'm going for more of the former
Serving over thirty hungry riders was a challenge, but the shop managed it admirably!
After lunch we rode up a LOT of hills. So many hills, to the point that while I never got off the bike and walked, I thought I was going to collapse in a heap on the Tarmac and not get up again.
But, the prize was some nice views over Sheffield – this is what you see if you stand at the Cholera monument and look across the city:
More hills later, we made it to the Sheffield branch of Edinburgh Bicycle Co-Operative, where we were all presented with goody bags and our bikes felt quite at home in the sister store of where we ordered ours. We had lost a few riders by this point but were still thirty-strong:
Our final real stop was at a coffee place/pizzeria called Nonna's, which has a racing culture all of its own. We were given truly amazing free pizza and free espressos – much needed at this point in the journey, although unusually for me I was too tired to really eat anything.
Thank you the lovely staff of Nonna's!
Not long after this we made our way back to Sheffield station via the city centre, where those of us with the time enjoyed a well earned pint before saying our goodbyes and heading home.
We had an absolutely brilliant day – cycled over 18 miles in the end and needless to say ended up feeling completely shattered but very satisfied. The LBC are already in talks planning another ride in Yorkshire, but in the meantime we're looking at other events we can attend. It was really lovely to meet new people and make some new friends and we can't wait for the next time!
A big thanks to Graeme and BumbleB for giving permission to the group to use their photos.