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Wednesday, April 14, 2021


Freitag, the Zurich based bag manufacturer and Brompton have recently announced their collaboration in producing a new backpack, the F748 Coltrane. It is the perfect companion to a Brompton as it is designed to clip on to the front carrier block of the bike. Freitag is world famous for giving new life to used materials and the F748 is no exception and it is made of recycled truck tarps and shoulders straps and all straps and handles are manufactured using discarded seat belts.

The bag is 19L capacity, is water repellent and each one of them is a unique piece with its patterns and colours. It's a great backpack as it is but, if not used on the bike, it is also possible to remove the aluminium frame by unfastening a couple of velcro straps and sliding it out. As far as storage the bag is simple but very functional. In the main compartment you will find a pen loop holder, the nice touch of a matching leather mud flap, 2 thin compartment, one with padding material meant for tablets or laptops, as well as a zippered inner compartment. On the outside there is a zippered pocket for things you want to access easily, even while seating on the bike. The bag has a second zipper for easier access to the laptop compartment.

Retailing for £ 320,00, this is an expensive bag so what else do you get for your money?

For one thing you get Freitag renowned build quality which is apparent in the stitching and attention to details. With a little care you get a unique and trendy bag that will probably outlast you and bring a lot of joy into your commute with a Brompton. I was surprised at how comfortable it feels as a backpack despite the frame and how soft the seat belts strap feel on the shoulders. What I loved most though has to be the ease of shifting from cycling to wearing it as a a comfortable backpack, Brompton on one hand, able to walk easily into the office or grabbing a latte at my favourite café. Nothing could make it easier than this bag and a Brompton, they really are a perfect match.

Watch the video review here |


#frtg #ridewithfreitag





Saturday, April 3, 2021

Fascinating video on how to restore an old Brompton to its former glory. The M3R even though bought with a good price and running was really in a bad condition so I decided to just stripped it down and rebuild it. It is a good way to spend time also learning the bike mechanics. I had fun doing it and although the finish is not as good as a Raw Lacquer Model as expected from an amateur like me. I think it turned out well! Please enjoy the video! 

Watch the full video


Thursday, March 25, 2021


Follow this brilliant tutorial on how to pack gear on a Brompton for travel. Susanna Thornton shares her experience after years of experience touring with our favourite folding bike. 

Watch the full video


Thursday, March 18, 2021

Another very informative video by the guys at 2Bikes4Adventure. Very few bike multitools are compatible with Brompton bicycles, and here they review 3 of them plus a few additions to tools you may already own. A must watch for every Brompton enthusiast. Head to their Youtube channel and don't forget to subscribe!

Watch the full video here


Thursday, March 11, 2021


No matter how much we all love these little bikes they are not perfect. If there is one issue that disappoints most Brompton owners is their shifting system. Although Sturmey Archer is a solid and reliable gearing system, it is let down on a Brompton by poor shifters and plastic components that at times can get jammed and prevent from changing gears. When gears options are already limited with a maximum 6 gears available as standard, any malfunction in the ability to shift is quite limiting. 

Watch the full video here


Sunday, March 7, 2021

Follow Martin tracks on his first tour on a Brompton. Quite impressive to be able to cover 1500 kilometres on a loop that started and ended in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires. 

Watch full video here 


Thursday, March 4, 2021


139Km ride on the Round Island Route of Singapore of course on a Brompton Folding Bike!

Watch the video here


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

 In this video I share three easy tips that have allowed me to go for over 4500 kilometres on a loaded Brompton without a single puncture. They might be things you already know but what matters most is following them all and making it a habit in your cycling routine.

Watch the full video here



Head over to Everyday Cycling Youtube video for a thorough comparison between riding a standard Brompton and a Brompton electric. The test was carried out following the same road and comparing the different speeds on exactly the same grades and same route. A microphone was also installed on the motor of the electric Brompton to give a further immersive nature to the video!

Watch the full video here


Wednesday, February 10, 2021


Another interesting video by the guys at 2Bikes4Adventure. Here they show how with a little creativity it is possible to find an alternative front bag to the one sold by Brompton which as good as they are can be rather expensive. 

Watch the video here


Friday, January 29, 2021

Folding bicycles have a great advantage. A small footprint that makes it easier to pack them ready for transport. How you pack them depends on the risk you are willing to take and to a certain extent the type of tour you are planning.

There are two main choices here. You could use a hard case or go for a soft bag.

Hard Cases

They use their hardcore shell to protect from damages and have lots of padding on the insided to further ensure your bike will be found as you left it no matter what happens. They are usually expensive, large and cumbersome but on the plus side quite comfortable to move about as they always include a set of wheels to roll it. Airlines charges do vary but as a general rule you will find that a bicycle carried in this type of luggage falls into the ‘sport equipment’ extra fares when they apply them, otherwise you will simply pay more due to the weight but also the size of the package as your luggage will often have to be checked in at special gates for Extra Large items. They do not have much space left for anything else beyond the bike. This means that you will have to carry much more weight in the cabin. Often airlines will not let you bring more than one bag for example and will also want to know the weight. You see where this is going. Yet again more charges as well as losing your patience in stressful negotiations!

As far as affecting what kind of tour you will be able to have, a hard case poses a practical problem too. You will have to store it somewhere when you start touring. A tour from point A to point B will only be possible if you take some transportation to return to the starting point when you have completed your journey.

Provided the above conditions are not too limiting, a hard case ensures that your bike will be safe and undamaged.

Soft Bags

Especially if traveling by airplane, they are not as good as hard cases in protecting your bicycle. On the other hand they give you all the freedom to decide where to stay and how to travel. As they are light and can be folded small and carried as part of your luggage you will also have the ability to use them should you need to take some transportation in the middle of a tour. You can find an effective bag for not much more than it would cost to buy a cup of coffee and being light, they limit the chances of you having to pay any extra fees during transport. 

The last thing we want as touring cyclists is to realise that our bike was damaged during transport. With a soft bag you have to put some extra attention and care in how you are packing. Put soft items all around the bike, and include further padding at the bottom. Another good idea is to insert some cardboard that you can cut down to size and can become another layer that can protect the bike further.

Soft cases are all that I have used for all my touring travel. Experience taught me how to compensate for their vulnerability with some of the ideas that you have just read and more that you will be able to see from my videos on the subject.


Thursday, January 28, 2021

Pam and Gilbert from 2Bikes4Adventure believe that you can travel the world on bicycle without quitting your day job. They’ve figured out ways to make this work for them and every year they refine their system. The overlap between cycle tourers and ocean cruisers is small. Learn more how we are narrowing the gap between those two extreme ways of seeing the world using our Brompton bicycles.


Saturday, January 16, 2021

In this video I discuss  what in my opinion are the best tires for touring on a Brompton and show you in details what you will need to do to replace them and adjust your hub gears.

Watch the full video here


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A trip with a Interrail train ticket and a Brompton foldingbike in June 2018. Ferry Malmö - Travemünde , train to Hamburg. From Hamburg a train in the night to Frankfurt. Train from Frankfurt to Appenweier. Biking to Strasbourg. Next day TGV to Marseille. Train strike changes plan, staying in Marseille overnight. Taking scenic local train to Miramas next day instead. From Miramas to Lausanne in Switzerland via Lyon and Geneva. Taking scenic lakeside train route to Olten next day. From there going to old scenic Gottard route to Bellinzona. And taking 57km Gottard base tunnel to Zurich. From Zurich taking the night train to Hamburg. And from Hamburg going home via Flensburg and Copenhagen.


Monday, January 11, 2021

Not a common event on the strong little wheels of a Brompton but if you do have to fix a broken spoke on the road or while touring it might be useful to have a look at how this is done. Good advice from an amateur mechanic and Brompton rider.

View the full video here


Saturday, January 9, 2021

One of the most common questions I get asked is how much more effort is needed to cycle on a folding bike compared to a touring bike. This is not surprising. At first sight my Brompton folding bike loaded with luggage at the back and at the front might look like a harder setup to ride. 

My usual answer is: “It is just a little harder."

It is a rather vague reply but it is my experience over the years. I have extensively toured with mountain bikes and touring bikes in the past. On a folding bike you trade-off a little bit of comfort but in most situations, you will hardly be able to tell the difference.

A more interesting question to ask would be:

“Is the ability to tour and explore places limited by using a folding bike?”

The answer to this question is a resounding NO. 

If at all, the curiosity to push the boundaries and see how far my Brompton could take me, has pushed me further than I would have done and I completed routes that I would have thought challenging on any bike. I am not saying that with a touring bike I wouldn’t be able to push further, higher and cover longer distances faster. Anyone interested in speed and performance, should probably not choose a folding bike in the first place, but what about those, that I believe being the great majority, who are more interested in experiencing the journey and its sights?

While touring, my longest daily mileage ever has been 160 kilometres and it was done on a Brompton. The highest mountain pass I have ever climbed on a bike was 5300 metres and I did it riding my Brompton. I never meant to set records but these are clear examples that they are more than capable bikes. Provided you avoid, as much as possible, rocky trails or muddy roads where folding bikes perform rather poorly, the ability to go anywhere else is only limited by your willingness to adapt a little and by your mindset.

I am sure there are mathematical formulas that contradict what I say and tell you that according to physics, the resistance of a 16” wheel compared to a 26”, will make you a certain percentage slower but you won’t notice this as much in practice.

As far as other aspects that will make it marginally harder I will mention a few in an effort to be fair and as exhaustive as possible.

( 1 ) Aerodynamics They will play a part, especially if riding on strong headwinds. You might find that folding bikes usually allow you to take a position that is less aerodynamic and offer more resistance.

( 2 ) Handlebars Beyond what is offered as standard, they tend to be smaller and less customisable because they fit with the specific folding system of the bike. You will probably have more limitations in the hand grip and in the position your body can take while riding. While touring long hours each day this can contribute to a less comfortable ride. When your body position and the ability to change it is restricted, it becomes paramount to find a folding bike that is as comfortable as possible right off the bat.

( 3 ) Gears There are folding bikes, especially those at the higher end of the market, that offer wide ranges and lots of gears but these usually come at a higher cost. Generally, folding bikes are more limited in the number of gears they offer and less options will mean a harder ride at times. On my Brompton I tour with 6 gears only which means that I have less choices to adapt exactly the ratios to the terrain I am riding. If this might sound like a great discomfort, I would argue that you also do not need to have 20 or 30. A few gears with well spaced ratios that are soft enough to climb a steep hill and hard enough to push the pedals when descending are all you need.

While they might be a little harder to ride, my conclusion is that folding bikes are perfectly capable bicycles for riding a long tour provided you are willing to make small sacrifices for the flexibility they bring.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

We all agree that punctures are bad for cyclists. They stop your ride, delay you and get your hands dirty. For the latter, I always recommend an easy fix. Simply, never leave home without some DIY or even vinyl gloves. They are small and light enough to fit with your spare tubes in a tiny saddle bag and you will thank me later.

But what about the rest? All the huffing and puffing, the 'why all this happens to me?' Or the fact that punctures tend to happen at the worst of times and as you lean down for a repair, it will likely begin to rain?

I find that on a Brompton this is further complicated by the way the rear wheel is fixed to the bike and due to the hub gear. And, yes, in case you are wondering, a tyre puncture usually happens to rear wheel. 

Recently there are on the market airless tyres like Tannus, which are filled tyres without inner tubes and promise to fix this for good. The reality is that I personally find them not as comfortable to ride. I find they have more drag while riding and they are not as stable when cornering which I couldn't get adjusted to.

Over the years I have found that three main habits greatly help in preventing punctures. When I started touring with my Brompton fully loaded with luggage I would average a puncture every 500 kilometres or so. Since using these 3 principles I am happy to say that such a poor result is a thing of the past and I have ridden my bike over a 1000 kilometres of gravel and 3000 kilometres of tarmac on a fully loaded bike without a single puncture! Some of them will be of course things that you already do and know but following all of them made a huge difference to me.

1) Tyre Wear:

I use what are considered some of the best quality tyres for touring: Marathon Schwalbe Standard  as well as Plus. No matter the brand what is key is to keep an eye on how worn is the tread. When this is thin with lots of cuts in the rubber it is a good idea to replace it with a new one. If you are touring and would like to save yourself a little money when touring, use that worn rear tyre as a spare tyre that can be used as a replacement in an emergency.

2) Air Pressure:

Investing money into a good portable pump was worth every penny for me. While touring,  I used to rely on the Brompton standard pump that comes fixed to the bike. Before starting the tour I would go to a bike shop to get the wheel pumped up to a good pressure but after a few days riding this would inevitably decrease. Topping up air pressure with the Brompton pump is not really possible. It is a pump that is designed for nothing more than getting you home if you need to fix a puncture but it won't be able to bring the pressure up to an ideal 80 to 85 PSI. Now I use a portable Lezyne pump with a gauge which allows me without too much an effort to bring the pressure up to a level that would normally require a floor pump. Using it to top up some air every couple of days or so, ensures that I keep my pressure up to an ideal level especially on that rear wheel which supports most of the weight and pressure.

3) Tyre Check

Before you start your ride each day or at the end of it, get into the habit of slowly spinning one wheel at a time, inspecting whether anything got stuck to their tread. Sharp objects don't always give you a flat tyre there and then; what can also happen is that they slowly pierce into the rubber the more you ride. If they are not sharp enough to puncture your inner tube they might still cause small cuts on the tyre surface which then is more likely to pick up further debris. Making it a regular habit will also make you more aware of how much the tyre is worn in the first place which brings us back to the first point.


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Interesting blog about travelling through Japan on a Brompton by using trains, ferries, planes, buses or any other transport if needed to connect the different places.
Visit the blog to read information that could be potentially helpful also for other bicycle travellers through Japan, such as list of bicycle roads, helpful web pages etc.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020


In mid September, I was still in Sweden. The nights were getting chilly, and a new Covid wave was breaking out across Europe. I needed to go back to the UK, and I wanted to cycle it. I wanted to try the route along the North Sea coast, which looked as if it would be very different from the inland route I'd taken on the way out. But what with one thing and another, I was hesitating, delaying setting off. Suddenly, however, I realised that a lot of campsites would close at the end of the month. So, if I was going to ride it, I had to go pretty much immediately. The weather forecast was bad - tons of rain - but I packed up the bike, and late one Friday night, I set off. It did feel a bit mad to leave our cosy sitting room and ride alone to the docks in the dark and the wet. But I was pretty sure that, come what may, I’d enjoy myself. Anyway, here's what happened! Hope you enjoy the film!

Watch full video here

Monday, December 7, 2020


I managed to get on the last Brompton Factory in Greenford for this year. It was a great experience. I definitely learned a lot about the Brompton Bicycle that isn't as obvious through their marketing. I definitely recommend doing this tour. Huge thank you to Nigel for extending our tour and answering all our questions.

Watch the video here


Friday, December 4, 2020


When the UK lockdown began in March, my husband was in Sweden and I was in London. Finally the restrictions eased and we could travel, but planes and long-distance trains still felt risky. So in August I took my tent and my Brompton, and I cycled through the Netherlands and Germany, and then sailed over the Baltic to Sweden. Before leaving London, I dehydrated enough meals for the whole journey, so that I could largely avoid going into shops along the way, apart from a couple of lovely bakeries, a brilliant sausage stall, and (quite a few) outdoor cafes serving apple cake. Before I set out, I knew little about the region. I found it super interesting. There's lots of history, good and bad - glorious old trade-route towns, as well as poignant reminders of the Nazi era. I found out that n the Dutch woodlands where I pitched my tent there'd been a labour camp from which people were sent to Auschwitz, and only a few miles south of my route in Lower Saxony was the site of Bergen-Belsen. The ride was beautiful, and really thought-provoking. Hope you enjoy the film.


Wednesday, December 2, 2020


Riding on a Brompton W12 on the magical island of Bali, Indonesia.

Watch the full video


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Sicily is a great place to bring your Brompton. Sunny and mild most of the year, amazing food and a good selection of roads from flat to more hilly and challenging. Follow this video of a 850km tour from Palermo to Siracusa following the souther coast of the island and taking in some of the best sights.


Friday, November 20, 2020

Check out another option for a suitcase that can protect your Brompton folder when you travel. This is a folding bike box from B&W - for folding bikes  and perfectly suitable for Brompton bikes. The video shows how it works, as well as weight and dimensions.

Watch the full video here


Friday, November 6, 2020

Here is our way of fixing a flat tyre on the Brompton. We think it's the fastest, simplest and easiest way to fix a puncture, but what do you think? After watching a few videos on fixing flat tires, we thought we would share the method we were always taught, and want to know what you think! Is this the easiest method? Watch the full video here

Wednesday, September 30, 2020


A nicely shot bicycle travel in West Japan. Traveling by Shinkansen or bullet train, from Tokyo to Kyoto, it gives an insight into the historical and calm city as well as beautiful Shimanami islands of Japan. This was done with a Brompton W12 Folding Bike.


Tuesday, September 29, 2020


With the increased popularity of Brompton bikes right now, some of you may be wondering if there are any accessories you can get for your new ride. From as little as 4 US dollars to over a hundred, this video shows you six accessories you can get for your Brompton.


Friday, September 11, 2020

 Terry Hilbert runs through a very light setup option for touring with a Brompton. Making use of a T-Bag and a large saddlebag he removes the need for a Brompton rack. Depending on much gear you are planning to take with you this might offer a good alternative.

Watch the full video here 


Thursday, September 3, 2020

Watch this video explaining in great details how Brompton gears compare to regular bikes and touring bikes when it comes to range. Pam and Gilbert, thanks to their experience in touring with Bromptons, offer and expert advice as to which gearing system is best if you consider touring with a Brompton.

Watch the full video here


Saturday, August 29, 2020

I have always hoped one day to be able to cycle from the UK, my adopted country, to my hometown in the Italian Alps. I was finally able to do it and complete a ride that vaguely followed Eurovelo 15 down the Rhine before a diversion into Bavaria, Austria and finally Italy. All in all 2500km of easy and flat terrain and cycleways for the most part of the trip.

Watch video here


Thursday, August 27, 2020


A video of a day trip around Kranji on my trusty Brompton, stopping off at many of the area's well-known tourist attractions. Kranji Countryside, shows an alternative side to Singapore filled with farms, trees, and a little bit of history.

watch the full video here


Saturday, August 22, 2020


Bicycle travel in the most beautiful and chaotic city Tokyo, Japan with a Brompton W12 Folding Bike. Place i visited; Okutama, Odaiba, Asakusa, Shinjuku and Shibuya.


Wednesday, August 19, 2020


I took my Brompton for a spin around one of the best loops the world has to offer. The scenery of the Italian Dolomites is so stunning that you are likely to forget how tough is the climbing. Leaving from the mountain village of Canazei I did a clockwise loop around the Giro dei Passi climbing for mountain passes that are in the history of Italian cycling. Passo Sella, Passo Gardena, Passo Campolongo and the most famous of them all, Passo Pordoi. 


Sunday, August 16, 2020


Some of the reasons why touring on a folding bike is a great and convenient way to cycle tour in your favourite destinations.


Monday, June 15, 2020

Watch the test and review of a very interesting touring bag for your Brompton.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Whether you are using your Brompton in a city or to travel around, clip on bags of various shape and sizes are a useful add-on for your bike. Get to know the new range of Brompton Bags available in 2020 from this video.


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Watch this exciting short video of two Bromptons cycling around India. A treat to the eyes and professionally shot it entices you to take your Brompton a little further...

Watch full video here

Thursday, April 30, 2020

I am pleased to announce the publication of a collection of travels exclusively on a Brompton. This collection of stories include trips that I have taken over the last seven years on my trusted Bronte. The bike is now retired and I am waiting for a suitable replacement to carry on with more traveling. The ten chapters including 50 original drawings, cover some of the most epic roads in the world such as the Karakoram Highway, Manali-Leh and the US Pacific Coast and many more.

The book is available right now on Amazon as a kindle ebook as well as paperback. If you would like a sample chapter, I have included a link to a PDF file you are able to download for free and read.



Thursday, April 23, 2020

Il progetto di viaggio del 2018 prevedeva uso di biciclette pieghevoli che solitamente utilizziamo  per andare al lavoro tutti i giorni o girare in città. Mi riferisco alla a bici  Brompton si tratta di  una city bike pieghevole e trasportabile, adatta per il trasporto urbano e per l’uso cittadino.  Esistono vari modelli, nel nostro caso si tratta di una 3 velocità manubrio ad H senza portapacchi peso della bicicletta 11,35 kg . 
Perchè fare una scelta del genere ?  Motivi molti il primo riguarda la trasportabilità della bicicletta in aereo, sicuramente più semplice delle mountain bike, quest’ultime dovevano essere smontate totalmente vs la Brompton che va semplicemente piegata .  Secondo riguarda sempre la trasportabilità in treno, questa tipologia di bicicletta non prevede il pagamento del biglietto e non serve prenotare il posto. Ultimo motivo perché no? Spirito di avventura e sperimentare un modo diverso di viaggiare.

Unico problema e che le biciclette  in nostro possesso hanno  solo 3 marce, quindi il percorso non poteva prevedere troppe salite, le tappe non al di sopra, sulla carta di 60/70 km, infine il bagaglio non deve superare i 9 kg. 


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Watch this travel movie about a Brompton Folding bike tackling the legendary rough roads of the Carretera Austral in Patagonia. Starting from the Chilean town of Coyhaique I headed south and after 575 kilometres crossed the border with Argentina to end my tour in the hiking mecca of El Chalten.

Watch movie here


Monday, March 30, 2020

Who said these bikes are not good for climbing...  I am sure it must be every Brompton owner dream to be one day able to climb the magic mountain passes of the Italian Dolomites. This video shows the 6th Edition of the event organised by Brompton Italia. Our hearts go to all our friends in Italy in such challenging times. Me these be soon over and let's look forward to the next edition in a glorious sun!

Watch 2019 edition video here.

Watch 2018 edition video here.

Some Brompton owners who purchased new models with the updated shifters ( 2017 model to date ) refer of an issue when the shifters are affected by extremely hot temperatures and humidity. During travels in hot countries users reports how their shifters happen to get stuck and unable to shift to a higher gears.

The solution is explained in this article but for a clear video on what is involved should you have to fix it Wilhelm created a clear video explaining the procedure.

Watch video here

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

For all those who like to modify their Brompton to suit their taste I have never come across such a through article explaining in details all aspects of customising your folding bike.

Read full article here

Watch this video showing how Brompton folding bikes are transported in a hard case.

Watch full video here

Thursday, December 26, 2019

 With a Brompton you can decide to tour a country using only the bicycle  exploring and cycling only the best parts. In this video of a three weeks tour in Sri Lanka train transfers and a bike are used in combination to make the most of both worlds!

Watch the full video here

Monday, November 11, 2019

Arctic Norway! A 10-day bicycle trip along the fjords, alone with the gulls and hills and sea, miles and miles between scenic fishing villages! I ached to begin. Then. Six months before setting off to cycle the Lofoten Islands, I was diagnosed with angina and atherosclerosis. My airline tickets had long ago been confirmed, the route throughly planned, the Brompton purchased and the hotels pre-booked. There was no way I was going to miss this trip. Kathy and I agreed that if I was cleared by the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL, I could go. After exhaustive testing and a consult with a wonderful Mayo doctor (and my promise to get off the bike and walk if necessary), we all agreed it would be possible. I adopted the Mayo Clinic Heart diet, lost ten pounds (I was pretty skinny to begin with), religiously took my statins, obtained an amulet for the nitroglycerin and carried on with my training regimen. I’ve been cycling since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, had ridden many national and international multi-week tours and, at age 73, knew my limitations; “as we age” was a phrase I was all too familiar with. This was the adventure to began yet another chapter in my love affair with travel and cycling.

I had chosen the Brompton for its simplicity and compactness; it would be taken on large and small planes, car ferries and small fishing boats, trains and possibly busses, in and out of hotels and walked up the steeper bridges and hills. My entire “ride” weighed only 46 pounds which included the bike, clothes for the ten days and all of my gadgets (camera, iPad, mobile phone, chargers, toiletries, medicines and my cane). Yes, my cane. A cycling accident, followed by not so perfect spinal surgery left me with nerve damage and a calf muscle that did not respond to my every wish. My six speed Brompton has been “souped-up” with a smaller, 40t vs. the standard 50t front chainring to accommodate my “as we age” cycling style and with large downhill mountain bike platform pedals that allow full foot placement over the pedal axle.

Tromsø (geo: 69.682778, 18.942778) was overcast and chilly for a Floridian when I landed. It took me only twenty minutes to unbox, unfold, and repack the Brompton for the six-mile ride to the center of town and my hotel. Tromsø was an amazing arctic city. Modern architecture along the waterfront contrasts with the traditional wooden houses of the side streets. The Norwegian government, wanting to reinvigorate the city, had founded a world-renowned university in Tromsø and stressed its importance as an international center for Arctic research.

“If you build it, they will come,” and the city is bustling and vibrant and young. The bike shop I went into for my last-minute tidbits had an amazing selection of both traditional and e-bikes. Although expensive, the e-bikes are used for everyday transportation in Tromsø. Since cars are so expensive to own and the town area quite hilly, the e-bike is seen as the perfect way to get around. During my explorations of the city, I wished my Brompton had been electrified.

Although I consider myself a solo cyclist, there is something to be said for the conviviality of small hotels and B&B’s. A few of my lodgings, although very comfortable, resembled shipping containers in size and others were spectacular. However, one evening, I had to abandon my planned (and paid for) guest house because it was so derilict, scary looking and just plain dangerous. I was saved by the Hotel Marmelkroken, in Risøyhamn, and spend a wonderful evening watching the fog roll in over the bay. The Quality Hotel Saga in Tromsø was great and served traditional afternoon waffles garnished with thin brown wafers. What was this? The Swiss woman next to me pantomimed that is was cheese made from a combination of cow and goat (or was that “baaa” a sheep?) milk with caramelized sugar. Her young daughter encouraged me to spread jam on top. I could get used to this arctic lifestyle.

The Art Studio, on Langøya Island, was the beautiful apartment of famed Norwegian artist, Britt Boutrous-Ghali I had a 3-room apartment with the cyclists dream, a bathtub. Not just a bathtub, but a giant bathtub. That day I had forgotten that most shops are closed on Sunday. So after cycling around Sortland in the drizzling rain, all I had found was take-out pizza. When I reached The Art Studio, I begged a beer from Britt’s son, Paul, and had pizza and beer in the tub. Glorious!

After a very plush night, I had a nice, leisurely breakfast and left around 8:00 for the 11:10 ferry at Melbu, 25 miles away. I met Paul a mile down the road and he beckoned for me to come and see his new project. He had purchased a 1938 wooden, gaff-rigged, 50-foot boat that had unfortunately sunk over the winter. The history of the vessel was fascinating. Built in Tromsø, it had been commandeered by the Germans during the war and used to transport prisoners around the Lofoten Islands. His plan was to have it trucked to his farm and restore it to be a floating classroom for the schoolchildren of Langøya Island. We got so wrapped up in the project that I lost track of time and finally discovered that I had two hours to travel the 24 miles to the ferry. I cycle like molasses in January. For the next 120 minutes I time-trialed to Melbu and the ferry. I arrived just as the last cars were coming off and I zipped onboard. I was pooped ! I had cycled from Langøya Island to Hadseloya Island over a crazy, steep bridge (another walk, and this was during a time trial). The ferry took me to Austvågøya, where Svolvær, my next stop, was. Needless to say, I dawdled the remaining 22 miles and arrived at The Scandic Svolvær hotel quite spent.

One thing cyclists love about the Norwegian towns is that there are specific bike/walk lanes into and out of each city. The path out of Svolvær went on for 6 miles, until we cleared the “burbs”. The next 10 miles were on the E10, the Long Island Expressway of the Lofotens; one lane each way with no shoulder. I just did my little-wheel thing and the cars and RV’s and busses avoided me and we all seemed to just get along.

In contrast the 815 was one of the most beautiful 24-mile stretches of road I have ever ridden. Craggy cliffs and meadows on one side, the sea and inlets on the other side, very few cars and great tarmac. I was in Brompton heaven. I took 3 1/2 hours to traverse this road; I stopped for photos, explored roadside art installations, turned down little side dirt roads to find quaint beaches and even found a cafe for coffee and cake. As I sipped my coffee and enjoyed the homemade chocolate cake (sorry Mayo) I enjoyed watching two children frolic in the icy water.

As I entered Stamsund and was literally right around the corner from The Live Lofoten Hotel, I stopped into a little gallery. What caught my eye was the art installation piece in the front yard. ULF M ( ) is a surrealist artist. He is one interesting fellow; has shown in a gallery in Chelsea (NYC), and his work is hanging in my hotel. We spent a good portion of the afternoon discussing Surrealism, Dali (St. Petersberg, Florida, has the largest Dali museum in the world) and his eclectic collection. He wrapped the poster I purchased in a cardboard sleeve and later, I wondered how I would get it home with my minimalist packing. That was the fitting culmination of one terrific day. Dinner was a hodgepodge of yoghurt and fruit and bread and nuts and beer from the nearby Joker Market.

My schedule was quite casual and the daily mileage ranged from 30 to 50 miles. With sunlight all day, I was able to meander along and not worry about what time I arrived at my evening’s destination. I cycled with my camera always at my side and stopped often to capture the spectacular views. My only logistical concerns were catching the numerous ferries that connect the islands within the Lofoten archipelago and finding my lodging by using Lat/Long coordinates since the houses do not always have street numbers. I was also never stressed about losing time when I had to walk up a particularly nasty stretch of road nor the very steep bridges that connected some of the islands; whistling kept me company. My daily routine, once I recovered from jet lag, was to have a leisurely hotel breakfast of homemade bread, salmon, herring, granola, yoghurt, fruit and those luscious waffles and nice flavorful, black coffee, pack up the Brompton and be on the road by 10:00 (or perhaps 11:00). My exhaustive research ( I love that little yellow gal on Google Maps) had prepared me for point-to-point rides with no services along the routes. Arriving at my destination town I would check out the local Joker or Coop, chat with the locals, and prepare for dinner. Most of my hotels did not offer any dinner, so I dined on canned sardines or kippers (note the repetition), fruit, peanut butter (when you see it, buy it!), bakery bread and a local beer. If armies march on their stomachs, cyclists pedal with their protein. Not knowing any Norwegian, I sometimes found myself eating canned something or other that I thought were sardines but actually... I still do not know. When I was lucky
enough to find a resort restaurant along the road, I engaged with culinary passion. One such experience came as I was cycling down the western side of Andøya Island. I happened upon an unexpected restaurant overlooking a beautiful lake and stopped in for lunch.

On the restaurant chalkboard - Dagens suppe: Potter med Hval

Looked good. I caught the word soup and it was a tad chilly. I ordered the suppe, bread and coffee.

Waiter: How was your soup ?
Me: Very nice. Was that potato and mushroom?
Waiter: No sir (they call me sir here) potato and whale.
Me: Excuse me?
Waiter: Potato and Minke whale. You can also have that as an entree.
Me: No thank you, I’ll just have the the check.

It did taste just like mushroom.

I had read about the numerous tunnels in Norway and was prepared with front and rear lights and orange outerwear for the dim but always lit passages and I always pushed the “sykkel” button to let the vehicles know I was in there. There was so little traffic along my route that I was never anxious about being in the tunnels, some of which were almost 2 km in length. When I did encounter a car or RV, the drivers were extremely courteous and waited patiently behind me for a safe place to pass (just as in Florida). I was able to bypass the notoriously dangerous Nappstraum Tunnel, connecting the islands of Flakstadøya and Vestvågøya, by taking advantage of an entrepreneurial fisherman who set up a ferry service during the off fishing-season. The 76-year-old cod fisherman ferried cyclists between Ballstad and Nusfjord in his traditional 34 foot, diesel-powered, fishing boat. Fishing since he was 14, he piloted his boat (during my only very rainy day) through a seemingly endless maize of reefs, fog and small rock islands. Cod fishing, which takes place during the winter, is a lucrative, but dangerous occupation. Sailing alone and setting a line of 1500 baited hooks, he goes out most days and, by law, must not spend the “night”. This, of course, is during the Arctic winter when there is nothing but “night”. We landed safely and I continued on, to the end of the tarmac in a village called Å. Taking a photograph of the Å signpost (I guess it’s like dipping your front wheel), I backtracked the few kilometers to The Lofoten Rorbuhotell in Sørvågen from where I could catch the ferry in
Moskenes to Bodø the next morning.

My original plan was to take the ferry to Bodø, which is on the mainland, where I would continue my journey by train to Oslo and meet Kathy. Plan B. There were no sleeper cabins available for the two-day trip, so remembering my promise to Kathy to take it easy, I decided to fly from Bodø to Oslo. Luckily, a Red Cross thrift shop in town had just the right chair cushions I needed to safely pack the Brompton in my Ikea “dimpa bag” for the flight. The airport was close to town, and after a 30-minute fold and pack, the bike was checked onto the plane and my journey was completed.

Relaxing in our apartment in Oslo, I collected a Brompton carton from the very nice people at Spin Bicycle Shop in Majorstua, and shipped the bike home using ShipMyBag, whom I had used on my previous trip to Scotland. Easy peasy. Kathy and I then set out to enjoy Scandinavia for the next five weeks.

Did my “condition” alter my touring style? Yes. My daily mileage was about half of what I had done in the past, I was very conscious of my diet (lots of fish, whole grains, nuts, few pastries and no red meat) and when the road became too vertical, I walked. The alternative, to stay home and mope, was not even considered. “As we age” can be a wonderful adventure.

By Peter Forde

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Follow this Brompton tour on the spectacular Hebrides Islands. Who said Scotland is too wet and windy to be cycled on a folding bike!

Watch the full video here


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