At Bicycle Junction we get immense joy and satisfaction from hearing stories about the journeys our bikes get to embark on. Isabella Cawthorn from Confluence Consulting took one of our Bromptons down to the Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress in Christchurch and was kind enough to take some photos and put together this guest travel blog. Check it out below!
Folding and Flying: The Conversion of a Foldaway Hater
I love business travel to NZ towns, but I deeply resent the airport connections. The options aren't great; hope for the best with the buses, or get a taxi. I miss having a bike at hand on the ground, especially at conferences.
“No problem” says a fellow consultant, “just get a folding bike!” He points out that we’re seeing more folding bikes every day and I have to agree - especially on my train line that bans normal-sized bikes at rush hour. However, I have a counter point; no-one can look cool on a folding bike. At best, you're a circus bear.
Yes I know… but it feels like a step backwards: myFrocks On Bikes ethos runs deep. “Anything in your wardrobe is cycle wear” is revolutionary precisely because it frees us from thinking we have to look less than cool on a bike.
But I was headed to a cycling conference in Christchurch, NZ's most famously bikeable city, and hearing that Bicycle Junction has rentable Bromptons, it was time to see whether my vanity would triumph. This is the story of one foldaway-hater’s road test.
Now it’s posing at check in. Two minutes later it’s folded and I’m rolling it to the Oversize (yes, it’s got special wheels so you can roll it folded). I carried it folded quite some distance with ease: ergonomically it’s surprisingly good, and a mere 12.5kg (Yes, I love tape).
The Brompton bag, specially for the foldie, is a boon.
WIth it and a Crumpler courier-style shoulder bag, I carried all this: five days’ stuff including gear for rain, black tie function, and professional conference.
I love a bike bag that functions well on the bike, butdoesn’t look like a bike bag.
In the Christchurch airport a fellow traveller was fascinated and begged a go on the Brompton. In this photo he was saying “Wheeeeee!”
Gateway to the Cycling City - the road from the airport to town. The Brompton and I took to the footpath here, and a few other spots where my 'cool' felt ruffled being on the road. It was actually fine even when we encountered people on foot, as standard courtesy plus a foldaway makes one less of a Cyclist and more of an amusing odd person - “Hee hee! Mum look at the lady on the tiny wheel bike!”. Grins all 'round.
In Ōtautahi/Christchurch they’ve got some great cycling infrastructure, a lot of generally average biking experiences - lots of hi-vis and lovely paths in parks. It’s ALL FLAT! Yay!
During the four days of conference I rode the Brompton more than I expected, despite good bike-share stations quite near our venue. Turns out, a bike you can keep under the conference’s coat rack is superbly convenient.
Homeward bound via Nelson - and what a bike-friendly experience! The bike assembly point is quite public - lots of admirers for the Brompton's sub-one-minute “assembly” vs the mountain bikers’ 20 minutes.
Nelson airport to the city is nicely sign-posted and mostly off-road. Bliss! Definitely a good town to fly in with a bike, and the Brompton's three speeds handled the overpasses nicely.
Back in Wellington, it was a 45-second unfolding (gets quicker every time) and we were off, under the airport subway and through Kilbirnie to the CBD on one of those can’t beat it Wellington days.
All up, the Brompton folding bike is a star! I still think I look a bit like a circus bear, but thanks to Bicycle Junction I’m freed from airport taxis and the foreign city is my oyster. So, people, embrace the tiny wheel and don your shades: Foldie freedom is cool as.