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Commuting by a different vibe - Simon Bloomfield

Getting fat.

That’s what got me started commuting to work.

A career in advertising. A car spot. And KFC as an agency client.

Then I saw a picture of me with my youngest daughter at the Australian Zoo. With a python around our shoulders. And realised it was sizing up my chubby cheeks.

This was a bit over 10 years ago, and I realised it was time to start thinking about getting active. I got a bike off a mate (swapped for some home brew kit), and never looked back.

Since then I’ve had plenty of cycling adventures in many parts of the country and the world. But commuting has been a constant. It’s given me a base layer, and a routine. And it’s taken many different forms.

That said, this year’s been different. Routine’s been shot. Opportunities are short. Oh, and my office is now at home.

My only chance to commute at the moment is on Thursdays and Fridays, when I consult to a company in Darlinghurst, about 10km from my place.  

I’ve ridden a lot of different bikes over the years for my daily commutes – from a laid back cruiser to a variety of road and CX frames, even an old track bike – but recently, I “joined the fold” courtesy of a Brompton, and it’s been quite the experience.

Simon with his Brompton

My commute’s a combination of busy roads, backstreets and bike lanes. Relatively flat, with a couple of lumpy bits. I’d originally thought I’d ride the Brompton one day a week, and jump back on my Cinelli the other day, but to be honest, I’ve just found I’ve enjoyed it.

Rather than heads down, it’s sitting up. It’s less flat chat, more easy rollin’. But that’s not say it doesn’t have zip. It’s just not showy about it.

But it does catch the eye. The other day the old Italian butcher walked past it as I flicked the back wheel in to park in front of the local bakery. “That’s some machine,” he said, “only the English could make something like that.” And when I visit a friend en route to the office who runs a little Japanese-inspired homewares and design store, she admires the clean, utilitarian lines, the cleverness of its design, and wonders how one might look in her next window display.

It’s sensible too. But not in a Dr Scholl’s shoes kind of way. Just things like the satchel that slots onto the front so I don’t have to worry about carrying a backpack anymore. Or the pump that’s built into the frame – so I don’t have to remember a pump either. And when I was commuting home the other night and the weather turned on me – hey, it was cold, windy and raining, and I was completely unprepared; don’t judge – I could take the sensible option without a moment’s hesitation or guilt. I folded the bike down and jumped on a train.

Brompton outside the Provider Store

In cycling circles there’s a running gag around an equation to indicate the optimum number of bikes a person can have – N + 1 – with the N equal to the number of bikes you currently own. We’re always wanting that something extra. I hadn’t realised it before, but reflecting on it, I think it needs a little updating: N + 1B now seems much more appropriate. I think we all have room for a little Brompton in our lives.

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