Author Topic: The Constant Bromptoner


The Constant Bromptoner
« on: November 10, 2019 »
20ish Questions with Jenny Hung
Jenny rides a Brompton and takes lots of pictures wherever she goes and whoever she goes there with. I first met her under a dripping tree on a very wet Friday Night Ride to the Coast. She kindly agreed to answer my questions. Later, not under the tree.

Clockwise from left: Jenny, “Elephanticorn”, FoJ [Friend of Jenny's], poser nutkin.

0. Have you been interviewed before? This is a warm-up question.

No, this is the first time I have been interviewed for a hobby of mine.

1. Let’s start with topiary, a recurring theme of your photography. Have you ever felt like you’re being stalked by any of your fiercer looking subjects?

Not to date, maybe in the dark they would look fiercer. I spotted one on the Friday’s Manchester to Blackpool (in Bury, which looked like a dragon head, the lights in the distance then gave the images of fire breath… but of course that never looked like that in the photo).

2. What got you started on your never-ending safari?

I just like that someone has spent time and effort to create something creative for everyone to see.

3. Do you think this is a topic which doesn’t get nearly enough coverage on Gardeners’ Question Time?

Yes it’s like poor Cinderella! I visited Kew Gardens and was surprised there was no topiary in the gardens either.

4. Have you gotten artistic with a pair of hedge trimmers, yourself?

At my dad’s, many years ago. We were clearing the garden, and I was tasked with trimming down an overgrown bush. Not really thinking I created a big ball.

5. Do you ever fall into conversation with the owners of the topiary, and do they generally appear to be mild-mannered people, or do they have a certain gleam in their eye?

I have only ever seen one owner working on a hedge at the time…. I am fortunate to live in North London, where Tim Bushe has created some amazing work.

6. OK, time for some bike questions. Was the Brompton your first?

As an adult, no. I owned a cheap mountain bike some years back to cycle to work, but it wasn’t nice to ride and eventually I gave up cycling. I bought my Brompton in 2012 just ahead of the London Olympics to avoid all the extra spectators expected on the underground. In the end it wasn’t too bad.

7. What do you like about it? Is it all about that exquisite fold, or is it the size or how it handles?

I chose the Brompton because London was starting to see a lot of bike thieves. So I wanted a bike that I didn’t need to leave outside. Also I live in a small flat so didn’t really have room for a big bike.

8. You appear to collect Brompton owners. There is even speculation in some circles that one day you’ll lead a ride out of London and take all of them with you, leaving it a much less cheerful place. My question is, is it your goal to know every Brompton owner in the city on a first name basis?

I would love to know all Brompton owners by their first name, but my memory is not that good!

I find when commuting, everyone is too focused to really say hi. But at the weekends I will always say Hello to other Brompton riders.

You get a special shout out if I spot another yellow Brompton. They are quite rare! I have since been told that Yellow was the second worse selling colour for Brompton L.

9. Have you met inventor Andrew Ritchie, or been to the factory?

I met Andrew at a talk he gave about Brompton and got him to sign my Brompton at the end. I have also been to both the old and new factory. It was amazing and we all felt like kids in a sweet shop!

We’re almost halfway through! Here’s a video to celebrate.

10. Do you want one of those?

Not at the moment, but I do see the benefit of them. They have allowed couples of different abilities ride together, or I have known riders recovering from illness use them to allow them to still enjoy cycling.

11. How hard is it to get little tyres off when you have a puncture? What’s the worst mechanical you’ve had to deal with?

It definitely takes practice to change the tyres, but more because I use marathon plus and so punctures are rarer than on normal tyres. Which means stiffer tyres but also, I get less practice changing than if I was using slick tyres.

I have been fortunate my mechanicals have been mainly standard punctures. I have seen some real horror stories, from someone who hit a pot hole so hard that it buckled their back wheel and it was un-rideable to pedals shearing off the crank.

12. Have you ever fallen or been knocked off?

I have been very lucky and not been knocked off my bike, although there have been some close situations. I have fallen quite badly on my bike when I flew over the handlebars and hit the pavement at speed.

13. How long have you been riding? What’s the farthest you’ve ridden?

I started commuting in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2013 that I decided that I really enjoyed cycling and wanted to cycle more than my usual commute.

The farthest single ride I have completed is 207 miles, but I have cycled from Berlin to London, which took 2 weeks.

14. How is it on hills?

Not too bad. It’s slow going as I only have 6 gears, but I find hills are more about the mental strength and whether you want to keep going or not. I enjoy the challenge of climbing and enjoying the views at the top.

15. Do you get asked about your bike often, particularly when you’re folding or unfolding it?

People are always curious, especially when they see you fold/unfold it. The most common question seems to be ‘is it comfortable for long distances?’ – which it is!

16. Is there anything else you’d like to add about cycling and Bromptons that I’ve forgotten to ask?

When I bought my Brompton I was looking for a commuting bike which would store away neatly. What I did not expect to find was a great community of riders which all share the same love of a unique bike. I love that for a generic model there are some many customisations that group rides are always fun to see what hacks/fixes other have done to their bike.

Over the years, through cycling I have met some amazing/inspiring people who I am luck to call my friends now.

17. What do you do with the rest of your time? Work, hobbies, realistic daydreams, take your pick.

I have a full-time job, other hobbies are playing the piano and snowboarding. I do find if I am not cycling, I am spending a lot of time organising and arranging future rides.

18. Any desert island discs you’d like to share?

I can’t think of any of the top of my head. I find I listen to classical more frequently but that is probably more as part of my piano practice.

19. Desert island desserts?

I’m more a savoury person! You can’t go wrong with baked camembert.

20. If you were to write an autobiography, what would you call it?

Jenny's still thinking. Meanwhile, here's my suggestion:

PS. You try coming up with a title that combines topiary and Bromptons.