Days 22-26, Sep 27-30, Exploring London Pt 2, and home.

London commuters seem to have a fondness for foldies, those little 2-wheelers that often takes less than 30 seconds to fold into a neat little package which they then carry into the subway train, and thence to the office, without a crease out of place on their suits.

This was, after all, the home of the Brompton, Britain’s celebrated folding bike that boasts quite a following around the world. I would see many commuters, some in full suits zipping past, many of them just out of the tube from Kings Cross station across the road.

This was a real find -- a rare 1986 Bridgestone Grandtech folding bike. Here, the owner has removed the seat as an extra step to discourage theft

This is what it actually looks like ...

... and when folded.

I'm very sure that if one is so inclined, one could simply go around collecting 'spare parts' such as these and simply build up a bike for nothing.

Near London Bridge, I chanced upon this bike shop that was housed in a beautifully restored pre-war building.

Very impressive inventory, too.

A fixie in typically garish colour

Some of these fixies sported a dual-cog wheel, one that can be quickly flipped around when a smaller gear is needed.

Oldies. Classics never go out of style.

Foldies. There was a pretty good range on display.

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I was finally at tour’s end and one of the things I had to do was pack my bike for the flight home. Unlike a foldy, I had to dismantle a few things to fit it into a bike box, for which I had to thank Evan Somu, fellow Malaysian biker who recently uprooted himself and family to work in London. He found one for me early on when I was still in Germany and had kept it for me until I arrived in London.

Thanks, dude. You’re the best!

Evan with the bike box atop his Volkswagon.

On the day of my departure, I decided to hire a taxi to take me to Stansted instead of my original (and cheaper) plan of taking a the Stansted Express from Liverpool St station. But with a big bike box, 2 smaller boxes containing my tent, sleeping bag, mat and 2 front panniers, while I hand-carried 2 big panniers and a handlebar bag, it would have been a logistical nightmare getting to the airport. But with this van, although it set me back £50, it was a breeze.

My precious took up the whole backseat.

At Stansted, I had to suffer AirAsia's incompetence -- 2 hours delay. But still, the thought of going home and having Mee Goreng and Teh Tarik tomorrow made it a little less frustrating.

Well, 26 days and 1300kms later, I was about to leave England for home. As I sat in the boarding lounge, I had plenty of time (thanks to the delay) to think about the whole trip. It was with mostly mixed feelings that I contemplated the days I had spent on the road. It had been a tremendously fun trip, and I  would not hesitate to do it all over again, albeit little less ambitious with the route planning. I was happy and sad at the same time — happy that I would be seeing my family again, and sad that tomorrow, I will not be waking up with the anticipation of seeing, and experiencing, new things.

Well, at least it had been a dream realised. And when I’m old and rickety, I won’t have to regretfully say ‘Darn, I wish I had toured Europe’.

So, my friends, if you’re reading this, remember … don’t let your dreams remain dreams. Set your mind on seeing it come true and the rest will fall into place.

There will never be a perfect time to make it happen, but there is time … while you still have it 🙂

Next: A rundown of what worked and what didn’t in my packing list.

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