Unfolded: The Brompton Experience (Part 1 of 2)

Published: August 21st 2013
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My Two Favorites:My Two Favorites:My Two Favorites:

Coffee and the Brompton!
The sun flooded the sand for miles from right to left. Looking headon at the horizon about a quarter of a mile out, massive waves broke onto the shore, foam swallowing small surfers and bubbling into the sand. A cool headwind pressed against my feet circling through pedals as I went along the bike path that ran parallel to Huntington Beach, California. I was headed north, towards the Huntington Beach Pier which looked like a sliver of an open sore jetting out from the shoreline into the water.

There was a calmness that hung on the air and filled my lungs. I breathed in as deep as I could and welcomed the chills it brought up my spine. I would pass by walkers, runners and rollerblader, fellow bicyclers and skateboarders. The sand spread out like a vast playground. Volleyballs filled the air like popcorn, jumping sporadically over nets. Umbrellas and kites filled the horizon with color, almost overpowering the dull grey of the overcast. Feet scurried after frisbees, soccer balls and loose toddlers.

This was the same ride that my grandfather did every morning for almost 10 years. Grandpa John Shattuck biked 10 miles everyday into his 80’s. I would brag about him to my friends, saying I hoped to have his same commitment to health and fitness at that age. I had planned to join him for a morning ride when I visited in January, but he unexpectedly passed last September robbing me of that opportunity. So on my visit in January I dusted off his folding bike and took it down the beach to commemorate my connection to his journey. In these two weeks I spent in Southern California, I rode this path at least half a dozen times.

A New Travel Companion

Before I came down to southern California for my summer visit, I told my Uncle John that I would be a good home for the folding bike and that I would like to take it with me when I left. He said that I could and when I arrived he gave me the folder that contained all of the work, parts, and information about the bike.

By the looks of it, my grandfather had purchased the bike piecemeal and put it together himself. My Grandpa had ordered all of the necessary accessories as well. It was decked out with six
My BromptonMy BromptonMy Brompton

speeds. There was a rack on the back, lights, mudguards, a high pressure tire pump, and a bike seat that felt like clouds as it cupped the rear end. In the first week there, I read through the Brompton Manual. I made an exciting discovery: There was a bike lock stored in the hollow chamber of the handlebar stem that could be pulled out of the end of the right handlebar. My Uncle even had the records that contained the combination.

Transformers are real. And I have one.

Bromptons are an ideal way to get around. They are compact and can easily be folded up and brought onto public transportation systems or even checked as luggage on airplanes or trains. My bike is one of the heavier framed bikes weighing over 35 lbs. Still, carrying it for short distances is quite doable. I would load it into the back of my uncles mini cooper and head to the beach. Once there, I would pull it out unfold it and ride the coast. After the ride, I would come back to the car and fold it up.

How it works: After pulling the saddle as high as it
At the Greek TheaterAt the Greek TheaterAt the Greek Theater

Grandma Ann, Rene, and John before the Prairie Home Companion Show.
will go and lifting, the back wheel flips under and folds beneath the frame of the bike. Once in place, the saddle is lowered back into the bike. The rear rack, which now rests on the ground beneath the bike, becomes the kickstand that holds the bike up (Image 2 on the Brompton Logo). After unscrewing the two hinges towards the front, the handlebars folded down in an S motion over the front wheel at the same time the front wheel folds against the back wheel. Finally, the left pedal of the bike even folds in (Image 3 on the Brompton Logo). The whole folding process takes less than a minute.


I spent two weeks staying with my Uncle John and Rene and spending time with my Grandma Anne. I really enjoyed reconnecting and spend time with them. My Uncle John is a big guy. He is tall with broad shoulders and a quiet and composed demeanor that leaves the average person at a slight discomfort. His humor also often takes people by surprise (mainly because they do not see it as humor). He has a wealth of knowledge about guns, used to ride Harleys cross
At the RangeAt the RangeAt the Range

This photo is actually from my previous visit in January, but the outdoor photos are more fun than the indoor ones!
country, and if something breaks, he has the tool and skill set to fix it on his own. In all honesty though, he is a big teddy bear that loves music, long walks on the beach and taking care of his turtles. Rene is just as incredible. She is a creative genius. She mosaics everything from pots to furniture. She also paints some pretty cool pieces and can always be found with a needle in her hand. She makes very intricate and colorful quilts, and to top it all off she is a phenomenal cook. She has the gift of patience (which one needs when dealing with our family) and is always calmly prepared for any situation.

In the evenings we spent time cooking, relaxing, and going to shows. Most nights we all gathered in the TV room and talked about our days, family history and music. One afternoon, Uncle John and I went to the indoor shooting range and then spent the evening cleaning the guns. They have four large desert tortoises, two babies, and six box turtles, most of which roam the backyard. So one afternoon I helped hunt down and soak all of the pet turtles
Get it!Get it!Get it!

These little guys loved the hibiscus flowers!
while they packed for their upcoming trip to Zion. On my last weekend, the three of us went beach-combing.

Grandma Anne is my mom’s mom. Spending time with her is like getting secret glimpses of where my own mother is from. Grandma Anne is socially and politically active. She is also crafty and creative. I got to spend some quality time with and also help her organize her office. It was really good to catch up and reminisce about our old visits in Garden Grove as a child. One clear and cool night, my grandma took all four of us to the Greek Theater where we had a pre show picnic in the parking lot and saw Prairie Home Companion in the outdoor amphitheater. The next day we listen to the same show as it aired on NPR!

Aerial Fitness and Acro Yoga

Orange County, CA

After taking an aerial silks class earlier this year in Asheville, NC I was hooked. In Orange County I hunted down a place to continue my training. At Aerial Fitness Orange County, Lisa La gave me three sessions in my two weeks there. Two of
Flying Pidgin Flying Pidgin Flying Pidgin

At Aerial Fitness Orange County
the sessions were one on one and she really opened my eyes to the “art” aspect of the silks. Her direction, positive encouragement and teaching style had me trying tricks I thought way beyond my beginner level. At Aerial Fitness I also got to meet some really cool people interested in acro yoga, including Val and Doug. I went down and met up with them for a jam session of flying and counterbalancing.

I also made a new friend on the trip. Her name is Ashland and she is Rene’s granddaughter. We spent some quality time drinking coffee and talking about life experiences; we went to parks and played around with acro yoga; she came with me to an aerial silks class; and she even accompanied me on my beach bike ride a few times. On one ride in particular, we stopped on a grassy path and gave some pedestrians an acro show. It was great to reconnect with her as well.


Laguna Beach, California

Earlier this year Laurie Fahey hooked me up with my first hardcore surfing lesson. I had hoped to get my Dad out there to show me a thing or
Surf's Up!Surf's Up!Surf's Up!

Eddy and I after our lesson.
two, but it was January and his days of winter surfing are long done. We met up at the at the Thalia Surf Shop in Laguna Beach. I met my instructor Eddy, got suited up and carried my longboard down to the beach. Eddy was a super chill guy. He was very good at explaining the process and also making it fun. I felt more like I was hanging out with a buddy than teacher. He started me out with the basics onshore, then we were ready to make our way out. The hardest part was getting past the breaks. With every two waves I successfully overcame, another would crash on top of me, or the undercurrent would almost steal my balance.

Once out there, Eddy instructed me on how to sit, paddle, and wait. We waited. He had me start paddling in for a few waves. After I was close he would give me the push I needed to actually catch the wave. After numerous wipeouts I was actually able to get up and ride a few waves….briefly. I would chase my board down the foamy shore and then bring it back out through the breaks to try all over again. Eddy was encouraging and genuinely enthused with my progression. After over an hour, my feet were officially freezing and shoulders burning. I am so grateful to both Laurie and Eddy for the experience!

Hitting the Road

Before I could continue my travel adventure up the coast with my new companion, I had to find it a case. However, the customized case made for Bromptons was about $300. Eager to keep my travel costs low, I spent the few weeks I was there searching secondhand stores and craigslist for an alternative. Eventually on craigslist I found a hard travel case meant for sound equipment for $20. It had wheels, foam lining, and locking capabilities. Most importantly, the bike fit in like a glove.

A few days later, Bompton and I began our journey up the west coast!

Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


Dana Point Tidepools Dana Point Tidepools
Dana Point Tidepools

Beach Combing at the Dana Point Tidepools
Sea GrassSea Grass
Sea Grass

Beach Combing Find
Escape!!! Escape!!!

Baby Desert Turtle
Snack TimeSnack Time
Snack Time

Ashland and I at one of our beach excursions.
Eye See YouEye See You
Eye See You

Holy rocks on shore

Ashland looking like a pro on her first day at Aerial Fitness Orange County
Flying Doug Shulein!Flying Doug Shulein!
Flying Doug Shulein!

Playing with some acro yoga at Aerial Fitness Orang Country
Lisa LaLisa La
Lisa La

Making it look easy at Aerial Fitness Orange County
The SetThe Set
The Set

Prairie Home Companion Show at the Greek Theater

21st August 2013

My old stompin grounds..............
OMG, Rebekah, I grew up in Lakewood, California, and did not leave home until I got married to come up to Anchorage, AK. I use to go to Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, and Laguna all the time. My dad use to take me to the Hunting Beach pier so that we could get ice creme. Take care and keep me posted. Thank you for sharing. Bette Morrison - HR AHFC
22nd August 2013

aerial yoga
you look gorgeous in your aerial photos. miss you!
22nd August 2013

nice work beka i love you and keep me posted
22nd August 2013

Don't forget me
I want to follow your travels and experiences, so I'm writing on your blog. Sounds like you've had a full summer--it was really great seeing you last week. Keep up the good work, kiddo!
22nd August 2013

Hey! Your trip sounded amazing, so glad I got to take part in your Southern California: The Brompton Experience! :) I didn\'t know you did so much while here, quite the adventurer for sure.
23rd August 2013

Did I finally do it right?
Seriously, I never cease to admire you for all the life you squeeze out of relatively short periods of time, along with the immense variety. Love ya and look forward to seeing you here soon. R
23rd August 2013

Just a simple note to say "thank you for sharing" your travels, your adventures, your family and friends, your thoughts and dreams and ... so much more.

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