21 April 2013

Brompton meets the Madrid trails and cycle lanes

I've come down to a warmer-than-usual Madrid, and given I am due to ride the infamous Bryan Chapman Memorial in a few weeks time, I could not face two weeks without pedalling. The Brompton came in handy, as I could (just) fit it in a large suitcase and take it along with me as checked baggage.

Indeed, I thought its folded size was quite tiny at first, but when it came to putting it in the suitcase, I found that everything ended up poking out one way or another. Front bag block, seatpost, pedals and some of the folding mechanisms had to be taken apart, but in the end, I managed ok and made it in one piece to Spain.

Anillo ciclista map (taken from en bici por Madrid blog)
The anillo ciclista (or cycling ring) is a relatively new cycle route that takes you pretty much all the time on cycle lanes around Madrid. Its total length is about 62 km, most of which is pancake flat. It's been on my to-do list of things for quite some time. There's loads of information on the internet, so I will just post a few pictures of the most scenic bits, which is from Principe Pío (or further south, along the Río Manzanares following the Madrid Río corridor) up to Montecarmelo.

Dedicated bridge over the A6 
A6 highway, the Sierra de Madrid (Madrid's mountain range) in the background
Most of it uses this type of cycle lanes, shared with pedestrians
We started off at 6:30 pm and ended up at 10 pm, having taken a short-cut on the way back cutting across along the river Manzaneres along the Madrid Río corridor. Overall it is a rather pleasant, but not too scenic, ride. Clockwise from Montecarmelo to Entrevías is all much the same: new developments which look exactly the same, with young families and kids playing around. Good for commuting I reckon, but way too packed at the weekend and perhaps a bit bland for the keen cyclist. However, it's the perfect option to take family and/or friends that aren't used to cycling or traffic, as it is well-paved, has plenty of feeding options if need be, and it's also relatively easy to navigate. Also good for those of you who come visit Madrid and fancy of bit of pedalling (there's plenty of rental places along Madrid Río).

But I was also curious to take the Bromtpon on the trails I used to cycle on when I lived in Madrid. Or put it in a different way, I wanted to do a bit of off-road and the Brompton was my only option! Obviously I did not go for the singletrack and technical bits, but in the end I rode for almost 20 km of wide paths with occasional short hills that the Brommie tackled without much trouble, despite its limited internal gearing.

Green and yellow fields, and the Sierra in the background, with plenty of snow in mid-April (yes, it does snow in Madrid!)
Madrid skyscrapers in the background
Railway through El Pardo, Madrid in the background
Railway crossing on the way back
I had a great time riding along well-known paths and enjoying the scenery. The temperature was just perfect, with about 20 degrees and plenty of sun. The Brompton is not ideal for trail riding, but I was surprised how well it handled the bumps (well, it has a bit of a rear suspension!). However, with the low bottom bracket typical of a bike not intended for the trails, and the very short wheel-base, it felt a bit nervous at times, so you've got to be careful with your handling!

1 comment:

  1. Good luck on the Bryan Chapman - a tasty route!