You may have seen several people in town riding those small wheel bikes – the famous Brompton. Indeed all the volunteers who run this site use them for commuting, shopping, taking on trains and buses, pulling trailers and most of all having fun, fun, fun. The Brommie rider’s grin is well known.
With a fold taking around 10 seconds the British made Brompton bicycle is an icon in the world of design.

So it is no wonder that in true British spirit, a unique event to applaud both the bicycle and its riders has been developed – akin to cheese rolling and conker championships.

For three years the grounds of Blenheim Palace have hosted the Brompton World Championships, where hundreds compete for the honour of taking the gold.
The event is so important on the international scene that it has even seen top continental professional cyclists taking part – with triple Tour of Spain winner and Tour de France rider Roberto Heras winning last year’s event – and in true style too.

Yes, style is what this race is about. Gone are all traces of lycra and tight fitting jerseys, for the main rules require all riders to be properly attired. All must wear a Jacket, a Collared shirt and a Tie, like true British gentlemen – or women!

Review from last year’s event:

So yesterday, the intrepid Bromptoneers of Whitchurch, had a representative to test the water (well, it was raining!) for perhaps a town team onslaught next year.
Despite the pouring rain a correctly attired Mike Stead of Newbury Street charged his trusty steed around the water-logged course. And in true style he wore tweed…

And so to the race report:

We now leave it to Mike Stead Esquire to report in his own words on his attempt to wrestle the coveted World Crown from the shoulders of Roberto Heras.

What have I let myself in for!

The weather was perfect for a close-knit mid-weight Tweed and Breeks, the Yorkshire check worked a treat in what were drizzly yet mild conditions. A Silk Mill limited-edition Jane Austen oakleaf matching tie and handkerchief rounded the outfit. Being a race bicycle helmets were compulsory, however I managed to dig out my 1970’s vintage Goodies Ecky Thump sparring cap which did the job.
Competitors started in waves of 150, with a Le Mans-style run to their folded bike, unfold, run to the road and then over the start line where your race against the clock began. The 13km rolling course was fast and sketchy due to wet leaves, and strict adherence was required to the passing rules. This being a Brompton event etiquette was of course foremost in everyone’s mind, and the distinctively cheery ‘ding ding’ of the Bromption bell rang out as riders passed each other throughout the race.
I believe my time was under 30 minutes, making for an average speed over hilly terrain of 26kph. Not bad on an origami treadly.

The Bike Blenheim Palace event is in support of Breast Cancer Care.
Many, many thanks to all the Whitchurch folk who have given generously to this worthy cause and you can make donations for the next month at TWEEDYMIKE

Rain, Steam and Speed

Mike completed the course in 162nd position from 582 finishers, in 29mins 01 secs, with an average speed of 27.1 km per hour.
Not a bad result at all!