Sunderland bike shop owner joins wacky racers

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A BIKE lover has taken part in a wacky race to celebrate the fold-up cycle.

Cycle shop owner Peter Darke donned a jacket made of artificial grass to take part in the 2012 Brompton World Championship.

Bromptoneers from across the world descended on the historical Blenheim Palace near Oxford to take part in three events.

Peter, who runs a shop in High Street West, Sunderland, completed the 13-kilometre track in 30 minutes to come 367 out of 750 competitors and also took part in a 300-metre hill sprint.

He said: “Iit was like a Le Mans start, where you have to run to the bike, unfold it and set off in two-minute intervals.

“I just did it for sheer bravado and fun and of course, Blenheim Palace as the backdrop for an event was fantastic.

“I was going to go dressed as J
eeves and Wooster, but it was just too hot.”

It is the fifth year in a row the world championship has been held in the UK, as part of the Bike Blenheim Palace Festival Of Cycling.

Its 750 places sold out in just two weeks and 34 nationalities were represented at the two-day event, which included the Brompton Marathon, the Brompton Sprint and the Brompton Marathon.

There were also off-track events to keep the crowds busy across the weekend, including a question and answer session with Andrew Ritchie, inventor and founder of the 
Brompton Bicycle and the famous Brompton folding competition, with Daiju Yokota of Japan wowing fellow Bromptoneers with a fold in 8.35 seconds.

The company was founded in 1976 and named after the Brompton Oratory, a landmark visible from 
Mr Ritchie’s bedroom workshop where the first prototypes were 
built.

Production ground to a halt in 1982, but in 1986, again with backing from friends and former customers, enough was raised to resume production on a larger scale.

In March 2009, Brompton Bicycle achieved a record monthly turnover of just under £1million.

Employees were rewarded with fish and chips.

Brompton folding cycles are based on the same hinged bicycle frame and 16 inch (349mm) wheel size.

The design has remained largely unchanged since the original patent was filed by in 1979.

Twitter: @janethejourno