Several years ago now, I was very fortunate to stumble into buying a Brompton folding bicycle that has fundamentally changed my life and continues to have countless unimaginable effects.
I’d already shown signs of developing into an avid cyclist and was using a Dahon foldup bike to slice my then two-hour each way commute into thirds when a Brompton-riding co-worker inspired me to get a Brommie of my own.
I didn’t realize that I should be caring for it and putting effort into maintenance, which is really dumb and naïve, but totally on brand.
So, after finally getting gainful, permanent employment for the first time in the better part of a decade, I forked out hundreds of thousands of yen (about 250,000 yen to be a little more precise) to get a Brompton, my reasoning being that if an 8,000 yen mamachari never broke down, something costing 20 times that just had to be more durable.
Well, it has been enduring in more ways than one, but not so durable. I have had to have numerous repairs carried out, and now carry out most of my own repairs and refurbishments because the cost of using a bike shop is so prohibitive.
But having outlaid such a princely sum for a bicycle (it seemed unthinkable at the time, but now seems like an entry level outlay), I was determined to get my yen’s worth.
So, I rode and rode and rode. And rode. The Brompton loved being ridden. And when I didn’t ride, I’d fold her up, chuck her on the train and ride that until it was time to ride the bike again. Then, knowing that I was capable of riding, I got into more serious cycling.
This enabled me to make the discovery that cycling somehow had a therapeutic effect for addiction recovery. I don’t know what it is: the repetition, consistency, or maybe just the dopamine it generates? Whatever, I’ve noticed a lot of recovering addicts cycle. The late Robin Williams is a case in point. My regular AA meeting before the pandemic used to be packed with cyclists, too.
Anyway, I digress.
The Brompton seems to have it’s own little world. Even though I am not really a sociable type, my bike attracts others who love Brommies and drags me out of my shell.
After owning a Brommie for a few years, I got into racing. My very last race on Sodegaura Forest Raceway saw me finish 17th of 650, which was a pretty fair effort (doubly so considering I was in a tiger-striped suit!)
I also got to attend clubs, like Brompton in Palace, where Brompton owners get together and exchange information and other pleasantries.
My Brompton has made me friends from all over the world and it’s an ice-breaker.
On my final day working in an office so far, I even managed to find a Brompton being thrown out in the trash and I rescued it and gave it to my step-daughter, bringing her and her husband into the Brommie fold, too.
Yesterday, blessed by amazing weather, I was delighted to make another new friend via the Brommie, when a beautiful woman who had been taking photos of her bike asked me if we could take a shot of our bikes together. I was absolutely delighted and we got on like a house on fire. Our Brommies will meet again at a Brompton in Palace club meeting next month.
We met at the Hamura Tulip Festival, which was simply stunning. There were dozens of fields filled with colorful tulips, creating a spectacular display of hues under a blue spring sky.