Tag Archives: bromptoux

Mont Ventoux by Brompton – Kit and Planning

The Bikes

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We rode standard S6L Brompton’s, with -12% lowered gearing (the standard swap to the 44 tooth front chainring).

Both bikes had SPD’s and front carrier blocks fitted.

Kit

I split my kit between an S-bag (for the heavy stuff) and a Carradice Longflap Camper bag, which held my sleeping bag and bed roll. This was attached to the seat post via a Carradice SQR block. As a luggage system it worked extremely well, being stable and also easy to attach and detach.

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Alastair used two C bag’s, with one fitted to the saddle loops via the method described in the seven league boots blog. This worked ok although to be perfect it could have done with more spacing between the bag and the seatpost, in order to stop the bag hitting one’s legs.

For traveling on the trains, I used an Ikea Dimpa bag and Alastair used a specific Carradice folding bike bag. Both folded up small, enabling them to be transported with us on the bikes.

We took an old Eurohike tent, which was ok, but a specific backpacking tent would have been better since the poles were too long for any of our bags. Sleeping bags, sleeping mats, etc were standard hiking items.

We didn’t take cooking gear, and only a minimum of food, since we weren’t going too far from civilisation. Clothes were mostly merino wool to avoid the need for regular washing 🙂

Camera’s

As mentioned in my previous post, as well as a Nexus 5 smartphone, I also took an Autographer wearable camera. I was very impressed with it – the quality of the shots was good and it meant that there was no need to think about what to shoot when climbing up Mont Ventoux.

The Autographer mounted to the bike
The Autographer mounted to the bike

I got some great, adhoc, shots at the top which I wouldn’t have even thought about taking with a conventional camera. These were great after the event; reminding us of people we met and conversations that we had. The battery lasted for most of the day as well.

Planning

Most of the routes were planned using Google maps and then copied into Strava routes. These could then be used either on our smartphones, or downloaded to my Garmin Edge 200. This was used for most navigation.

We traveled by Eurostar to/ from Paris and from Paris to/from Avignon via TGV. The trains were very comfortable and on time. It’s worth noting that in the summer it is possible to get a Eurostar direct from London to Avignon but it only runs on Saturdays.

Mont Ventoux by Brompton – Prologue

Bromptoux Day 1
Stage Distance: 20 miles (approx)
Stage Start: 6:45am

I got up, had breakfast, fastened my bags to my Brompton and cycled to work.

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Enough kit for 4 days away?

Today was really no different to a normal day. In an effort to limit the amount of time off from work, I’d opted to go to work then cycle over to my friend’s house afterwards, where we’d stay for the evening before setting off for St Pancras early the next day. It did mean cycling through London traffic on a fully loaded bike, which made it more than slightly slower than my normal commute 🙂

I’d opted for a two bag approach. All the heavy stuff went in an S-bag on the front of the Brompton, with the lighter stuff (basically just a sleeping bag, sleeping mat and tent poles) in a Carradice Longflap Camper which was attached on the seatpost via an SQR bracket. I’m pretty light-weight so I figured a couple of extra kilo’s out back wouldn’t cause a problem. The S-bag was just below the 10kg weight limit for the front block. It meant taking only a few clothes but the essentials were included 🙂

After work it was just a simple case of riding down into Peckham, where my friend lives, before going out for dinner and some pre-ride drinks and planning. And a fairly early night since it was an early start in the morning 🙂

Recording Bromptoux

I’m taking a Nexus 5 with me for navigation and to take photo’s but I now have a bonus, and novel way, of catching some other photos as I go.

The guys at OMG Life have lent me an Autographer, wearable camera. It’s a great piece of kit. You can either wear it round your neck or clipped to your shirt, or leave in the corner of the room minding it’s own business. It takes images automatically,  using  very clever algorithms, and data from a number of sensors, in order  to decide when is the best time to take an picture. You can then stitch these into a timeline and re-live your experiences, without the need to think about taking photo’s all the time. Clever stuff.

I may try wearing it for some of the trip, but I’ll definitely have it attached to the bike when we go up Mont Ventoux. I’ve fabricated a bike mount so that it can be fixed to the handlebars, capturing my view as I climb, and climb, and climb…

Thanks to OMG for lending it to me.

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Autographer camera attached to homemade mount.

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Homemade mount.

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Brompton Touring – Test Run

Loaded Brompton

I packed everything I’d need for Bromptoux into my bags at the weekend and had a quick test ride to make sure it’s all ok. Seems to be – I have all the heavy stuff in an S-bag on the front, with my sleeping bag and roll mat, plus some lighter stuff, in a Carradice Longflap Camper which is attached to the seatpost using an SQR block. Given that I only weigh 65kg and the maximum rider weight of a Brompton is 100kg then I figure a couple of extra kg hanging from the saddle won’t cause any problems. I’ll probably try and put the tent poles into the S-bag as well for the real trip.

The Brompton is a standard S6L with lowered gearing. Hopefully lowered enough 🙂

Bromptoux

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At the beginning of the year I had an idea. I wanted to cycle up Mont Ventoux. The Beast of Provence. The scene of Chris Froome’s winning move in the 2013 Tour de France.

Once a decision is made then the rest is easy. Organise the right bike, organise the right kit, plan when to go, and book tickets. Simple. Too simple some might argue. Of course.

Getting There

Getting to Mont Ventoux is relatively simple, especially if you don’t have a bike with you. You could drive, which takes about 10 hours. You could fly. Or you could get the train. I like train travel. Train’s rattle along at a decent pace, you get to look out of the window at the world going by, and you can get up and walk about if you want. Decision made, train it is.

The nearest station to Mont Ventoux is Avignon which handily is served by TGV from Paris, and even Eurostar in the summer. Getting to Paris is easy, that’s definitely Eurostar.

Complications

Now for the complication’s – booking bikes onto Eurostar is a pain. Especially when the Tour de France is on. All the bike spaces were booked month’s ahead, and sending the bike on ahead would mean a delay in Paris. Taking a full sized bike on a TGV isn’t easy either, it needs to be packed up in a bike bag, and hauling a bike bag across Paris, then finding somewhere to leave it in the South of France is a pain.

The Solution is Brompton Shaped

I’ve had a Brompton for a year now. I love it, it’s easy to ride, quick, not too heavy and really versatile. I use mine every day to commute to the office, multi-modal, combining it with a train into London. I rode it round the Isle of Wight in May, so I know it can climb (hills at least). So now a change to the plan forms – “Cycle Up Mont Ventoux” is now “Cycle Up Mont Ventoux On a Brompton”.

I know it’s possible – one person at least has already done it.

Or Bromptoux as my friend is now calling it. He’s coming with me. Also on a Brompton 🙂