While riding my Brompton in Vancouver I realized my road cycling helmet didn’t quite match my bike. You could tell I was a road cyclist riding a commuting bike. That’s okay but I was also riding the Brompton in skirts and dresses and sandals. No road cycling shoes either.
The pink Brompton requires a different cycling aesthetic. I wanted something cute. I googled fashionable adult bike helmets and found sparkly ones. I have a bit of a thing for things that glitter and sparkle. I ordered one and I love it.
I know it’s a luxury. So too is the Brompton. But I can’t walk very far these days and I’m happiest, more joyful if I’m moving. I’m riding the Brompton to meetings, taking it into movie theatres. We even went to dinner together, me and my Brompton. So, for me, in this context, matching matters. The Brompton is about fun and about an active lifestyle, not really a serious fitness thing.
I know that here on the blog and in my book reviews, I’ve been critical of the “look cute” imperative. Tracy likewise tackled the “pinkification” of women’s athletics six years ago. You might think something has changed but it hasn’t. Not really.
I’m still all about choice. If you find looking good while working out a thing you enjoy, go for it. I’m still wearing scruffy t-shirts to the gym. But the Brompton, for me, is about everyday movement. And sometimes, when it comes to everyday, I’m enjoy pink and cute and sparkly.
My new helmet is made by Sawako. I’m wearing it to Pride festivities this weekend. When I shared photos of my new helmet on social media this week, Danielle from Guelph’s College of Arts social media and communications team commented with this gif. It’s a motto is can get behind.
One question that everyone asks about my new Brompton is how it handles every cyclist’s favorite landscape feature, hills. The answer is, not as bad as you might think. The bottom gear is pretty spinny. I took it to Vancouver this week for Congress and enjoyed riding it around town. The ride to the University of British Columbia was 12 km. There and back twice equals 48 km of Brompton riding, plus some bonus “getting lost/exploring” kilometers. I was super glad I brought it because even if I’d taken the bus to campus, it’s a huge sprawling campus and things I needed to get to were kms apart.
💖Highlight of riding Brompton in hilly Vancouver: Chasing road cyclists up a hill and staying with them for longer than I thought possible. They looked around and smiled. I think my helmet might be the giveaway that I don’t usually ride the Brompton.
😞 Low point: When my heart rate finally recovered after the hill chase effort I was passed by a runner going uphill. He also smiled and suggested a race. I declined.
It’s true that on hills I was working hard. My heart was pounding and I could feel my legs working. That said, I was able to climb everything I encountered and even passed some people going uphill.
Four more random thoughts about riding the Brompton about town. First, it’s not an introvert’s bike! People love to stop and admire the bike and ask questions about it. Second, I had no problem bringing it in everywhere I went. It’s small and cute enough enough that it doesn’t get that immediate “no bikes allowed” reaction. Third, I love being in a city with bike lanes and so many cyclists. Fourth, so many e-bikes on the road here and I totally understand why, The commuting distances are big and then there are the hills. For many people it would be 20+ kms to work. I can see wanting an e-bike to extend the range of what’s commutable and also not arriving at work tired and sweaty from the hills.
Here are some more photos of my very scenic Vancouver commute.
I did it! I’m now the proud owner of a Brompton folding bicycle. Instant love.
I decided (finally) to buy one while in New York. Sarah and I got home Monday and checked to see if it was in stock at Curbside. Sarah picked it up Tuesday and I flew with it Wednesday and I’ve been riding around Halifax, giddy and grinning, while here for the Canadian Council of Deans of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.
(Catherine’s traveling with a Brompton story wasn’t quite so happy. So it’s not all kittens and rainbows in the Brompton world.)
Have you ever done a thing and instantly known it was the right thing? Thought maybe you should have done it years ago? That’s me and this bike. I started browsing in earnest last year but I’ve been thinking about it for ages
❤️ So far I’ve had great experiences riding it, folding it, and taking it in places. Zero objections so far and so many smiles. I will say that it’s not a go fast road bike and I was a bit nervous that I couldn’t accelerate and change lanes across traffic if I needed to. On the other hand, I’m upright and more comfortable around pedestrians. I can take it on the sidewalk if I need to.
It feels great in bike lanes and riding around the city in traffic.
I’ll write more later about riding it, folding it, and taking it places.