Origami Phoenix Ride

13th September 2003 - Visit to The National Cycle Collection at Llandrindod Wells

Although most Origami Rides are start from Meriden, we do sometimes visit other locations, and this month we went further afield than usual. The idea was sparked by an email from Dennis Duggan of the Moulton Bicycle Club, and we eventually fitted into our busy Origami program for 2003. Llandrindod Wells is a lovely spot, but a bit off the beaten track for most of our regulars, so we were not too sure how many people would get to this meeting, and train travel was not especially easy, with only a very limited number of trains each day. For those coming from the Midlands, there was in effect only one realistic train out to Llandrindod, and only one coming back. Despite this, 4 of us took the train option and travelled together from Birmingham/Wolverhampton, and were joined at Church Stretton By Chris Eley, who was Youth Hostelling in the area.

The train journey was incident free and on time, and we disembarked at Llandrindod in bright sunshine, followed by a very short ride to the National Cycle Collection.

We found several other enthusiasts had already arrived, and we were joined by more later, bringing the total number to 19, producing our own display of folders in the entrance hall - mostly Bromptons, with a couple of SPs and one Bike Friday.

Although we had hoped for rather larger numbers at this event, this was a fair turn out given the location. Quite a lot of people opted to travel by car instead, and a bonus of the different location was that we met some people who do not normally attend our Meriden meetings - Mark and Celeste were particularly welcome after making the long journey from Devon, and it was good to see Jenny and her Bike Friday Gnu - she seems very pleased with it, and after a short trial run on it Celeste seemed to smitten as well! Dick Hanson had travelled from Cheltenham by motor cycle with a number of  (motor) biking friends, and they seemed to find the collection just as interesting as the rest of us, and were particularly interested in the small motor cycle section.

Moultoneers were much in evidence as usual, and the display of F-frame Moultons attracted a lot of attention - Paul Grogan was busily checking frame numbers.

A special display of folders had been put on for our visit ...

and there was also a special display of Airframes, with the first prototype, two later versions, and also one of the new Airframes. I took this new machine out for a short ride. I found the frame quite flexible by comparison with a Brompton or any of the other folders I use, though it certainly isn't as flexible as a Bickerton. Like a Bickerton, though, I'd suggest that the best way to ride it is to let it flex - if you try to fight it, it only feels worse. And also like a Bickerton, the first impressions should be given a chance to wear off - it definitely felt less peculiar after 5 minutes of riding than it did when first starting off.

An unexpected bonus was that John Barnes turned up with the folder he designed in the 1960s (see pages 89-91 of "It's in the Bag!"). This was a machine that I don't think that any of us had ever seen in the flesh before, so it really was rather special.


After lunch, we took a very short ride in the beautiful local countryside. Unfortunately I got a thorny twig caught under my front mudguard, which not surprisingly resulted in a puncture, though the effects only became significant about 500m from the station, so I chose to push the bike the remainder of the way, and repair the puncture while we waited for the train.

Our return train journey as far as Shrewsbury was problem free, Chris leaving us en route to continue his weeked tour. In the last couple of weeks he has fabricated a rather ingenious front rack which clips onto the standard Brompton block, but allows him to use normal front panniers.


Our train from Shrewsbury unfortunately arrived quite late and was very full, which made our seat reservations very welcome. Further time was lost on the journey, and it was terminated at Wolverhampton, rather than continuing to Birmingham. I was only going to Wolverhampton anyway, though the late arrival meant I missed my planned connection, and had to wait half an hour. The others were able to get a train to Birmingham within about 10 minutes.

Overall I think this can be judged a successful outing. Thanks are due to The National Cycle Collection for their hospitality, and for putting on a number of special exhibits for us. I'd also like to thank all of you who were able to support the event by attending.

Copyright (C)2003 Ferrets Anonymous
Last updated: 14 September 2003