A Commuting Life – The Brompton Man

The Brompton Man appears to be of his of time, concerned about the carbon footprint and setting an example to his four wheeled counterparts. You can see him every morning on his approach to the station, teetering at the end of his never ending saddle, with his head in the clouds and curiously detached from his furiously pedalling feet.

There’s an obvious sartorial divide between the “Bromptie” sporting his high visibility jacket, colourful helmet and tight velcro smugness and the sedentary suit wearer glowing with four wheel drive, live for today warmth; the latter who will happily sit in a sweat free, conscience clear bubble, even if it means he’s a moral yard behind his two wheeled damp backed travelling companion and their obsessive quest to keep a lid on the dreaded calorie count.

The “Bromptie” (occasionally referred to as the Charlotte Bromptie by the more literary wise-crackers) has a degree of vanity and will look to personalise his eponymous mode of transport whether it be with a resonating bell to announce his presence or a lovingly extended mud guard ready to deflect any mud foolish enough to threaten his pristine Velcro rump.

This vanity bleeds into competitiveness when it comes to the dismantling and reassembling exercise. The focus he gives this activity closely resembles the professionalism of a Formula 1 pit crew and no doubt timings and technique are reviewed, and the data stored for future analysis, at the end of the working day.

Once compressed to the size of a deluxe pizza box the metal packages are casually discarded by the carriage door much like the last slice of our favourite Italian take-away – a functional but transient source of pleasure. In the comfort of a warm carriage the Bromptie quickly forgets his monk like dedication to the pursuit of fitness and reverts from superman to everyman as he competes for that rare reward a season ticket buys you – the luxury of a seat.

Meanwhile his bike becomes the scourge of the health and safety police as sleep walking passengers trip over its lifeless form.

On arrival the re-assembly process is completed with the dexterity of a surgeon and the last phase of his battle for human powered supremacy begins as he confronts the rigid bicycle. These are the non-collapsible types whose size and shape would only every resemble something portable if dropped from a great height onto something very solid.

They are the poor relations to the style guru of the cycling fraternity, casually discarded at the station every night, these grunge types are unwashed and unloved with a relaxed approach to life who respond reluctantly to the threat of exercise before breakfast.

However these distant relations to the Penny Farthing are still , much like their riders, resilient and proud of their heritage and refuse to be down-trodden by their flexible friends. They vie for position at the ticket barriers ready for release onto the open road and their fight with the one true enemy, the car driver.

Possibly we’re over thinking this though and the Brompties are actually not the pedalling eco-warriors we’ve been lead to believe and are infact pragmatic sorts simply saving their car-parking money for the take-away at the end of the week. The stylistic, jack in the box mode of transport may be, much like batman’s cape, a clever disguise hastily discarded on Friday evening as they morph into the comfortable four wheel driver they long to be.

A chameleon wanting the best of both worlds and leaving the rest of us to our one dimensional lives and the curse of the calories? We’ll probably never know, but as they ride off into the sunset at least they know they’ve earned their evening meal.