Late November

I love autumn.  Perhaps I’ve mentioned this before?

On this particular afternoon, the shadows from the suburban trail’s fence looked like railroad tracks:

Late November; who would guess?

My Brompton

Shadows and Stone

Around 3 PM:

Basil, a little later, oddly, beneath a train trestle, on the same afternoon.  Without the shadows, there’s a completely different sense of light.

I love these arches, which are everywhere in southeastern Pennsylvania.  Basil’s almost invisible, though, beneath all that imposing gray.

My Brompton

An Unexpected Sighting

In a city park: A Great Blue Heron, looking for dinner.  What wonderful, prehistoric-seeming, creatures these Herons are.  I got a shot of this one flying from one area to another, but snapped it at just the wrong moment to capture the full glory of the massive heron wingspan.

He might have been disappointed.  This little pond is normally stocked, but seemed to have been emptied for the winter.

Just another ordinary day  . . . on a Brompton!

Basil posed, too, at another site. I have no idea what he’s standing on.  It looks like an industrial drainpipe, long disused.

That’s a decaying foundry in the background.

The sealed pipe probably has something to do with the foundry. Much of this area was once industrial, back in the days when there was a lot of industry in the United States.



My Brompton

Basil Rides Regional Rail

Basil and I took the South Eastern Pennsylvania Regional Rail system — better known as SEPTA —  to get to and from the Tweed Ride last week.  It was Basil’s first trip on a local commuter train (though on a Saturday).

Yeah, there isn’t much space even for legs, here.

There’s much more room for Basil (and people) in the newer cars which are now turning up on the line; we haven’t happened to ride in one yet.

In this older car, Basil slipped into the windowless area near the carriage door.  This worked fine on a day when the train was only crowded, not packed.  There are other options, though arguably less desirable ones, on these particular cars, at times when the carriages are more densely populated.

Days are still beautiful in a very autumnal fashion, but light fades early in the afternoon now.  It was twilight when we got off the train.

Tours, Trails & Group Rides

Changing Philadelphia

Years ago, Mr. Diarist and I had a membership at the Philadelphia Art museum, though we lived some distance away.  For several years, we’d meet at the Museum on Friday nights for Art After 5.  Mr. D. drove in from his office, and I took the train.  We’d picnic in the gazebo above the river, and then spend the evening at the museum.

The walk from the train station was a pain:  utterly un-pedestrian-friendly and grueling in summer’s heat.  All that has changed now.  When Basil and I took the train into the city for this year’s Tweed Ride, we got off at the 30th street station, and rode the Schuylkill River Trail along the river to the Water Works.  Quelle difference!

The new multi-use trail is gorgeous.  Talk about making a city livable!  You want beautiful Philadelphia?  You got it.

In general, though, Philadelphia is more gritty than effete.  Here’s effete: Boathouse Row, from the trail.

But I love the way that gritty essence is preserved along this trail.  Yep, that’s a freight train, in the middle of the city.

The trail runs between the river and the railroad track.

You’ve got yourself some cyclists, in-line skaters, pedestrians, joggers, trains and river traffic.  All, essentially, downtown.  Does “urban” get any better than this?

There’s really only one little quibble I have with the new trail.  Getting to river level from the Amrtrak station requires descending (and later ascending) three flights of stairs.  There’s a track for bicycles, but it’s only on one side.

Basil regards the stairs skeptically:

I used the track to go down, but I’m not coordinated enough to ascend using my left hand and arm, so I carried him up the three flights instead.

Here’s a view of the bridge you cross from the 30th Street Station to get to the stairs, which are on the other side of the illuminated arch.

There’s no obvious signage l directing the way to the trail, noting its existence, or identifying the stairs. That’s an oversight that should be corrected.  The trail’s a resource with which everyone, including out-of-towners, should be familiar.  Hey, Philadelphia, don’t hide your trail away!



Tweed Ride 2012: The Picnic

The Philadelphia Tweed Ride 2012 started at the Water Works, and wended its way  to Penn Treaty Park under the bluest and most temperate skies imaginable.  November 17?  The best of autumn, as it turned out.

The park is mostly field, with plenty of room to gather and frolic.

Small groups gathered as people meandered about:

Vintage games were played, including baseball, by lads in these excellent uniforms:

That’s a button-on yoke in front.  Here’s the back:

Note the cap. Modern sports uniforms just don’t cut it.


The landscape was littered with cycles.  And wool.  The crowd was easy-going, relaxed, and cordial.

Lots of bikes to oogle, of course, and plenty of great-looking garb, too.

There were a few pair of actual knickers about  (no snickering, you UK people — I’m talking plus fours, here, not what’s under your trews), but many of the lads tucked their trousers into socks, creating instant knickers.  Add argyle socks, and . . . well, the effect is just about perfect.

I loved this lass’s outfit — she’s ready for adventure, and would have been as well-dressed in the 1930s or 40s, as she was today.

These dapper lads were part of the organizing crew:

I think I’ve seen this spiffy-dressed lad in the New Yorker, haven’t you?

But honestly, for dapper, can you beat this fellow?  Note that he has pipe in hand, luggage in tow, and a Philadelphia map within reach:

He’s the navigator on this bicycle:

Which is as well (and cleverly) equipped as a cycle can get. Note the radio, which was playing music from an era when tweed ruled.

The card handed about by the pilot of this magnificent craft explains each component; it was brilliant of him to have printed up the cards. As a result, I can tell you that this is a TREK Lime, automatic 3-speed with custom wood fenders.  The radio is a 1950s Tom Thumb with an amplifier and a mini-disk player; the panniers are converted 1960s Swiss ammo carriers.  Quite a neat accumulation of wonderful things, no?

The navigator was not the only one of his species to ride along.  Meet Ringo:

Ringo co-pilots this marvelous cargo bike:

This gent carried all the necessaries on his person:  a flask and pipe.  He’s obviously a resourceful fellow; he even made his own vest!

I like his idea of a rear pannier, too.

The Bicycle Chef’s  traditional picnic basket was decked with autumn leaves, along with the handlebars on her nifty Schwinn.

She had brought a picnic-for-two, intending to share — a terrific idea!

A lovely picnic it was, too.

I’d brought my favorite egg salad sandwich (extra onions on request!) from the  Old Nelson Food Company at the top of the SEPTA ramp at 30th street station, but I was happy to be introduced to something I didn’t know existed: Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin Ale.  I’d have never tired it, and that would have been sad . . . thanks, Bicycle Chef, for sharing, and inspiring me to picnic properly next year!

Eventually, it was time to go.  These intrepid cyclists got in some all-terrain riding, as everyone headed off to Rembrandt’s for further imbibing and refection.

Thanks, Tweed volunteers for pulling it all together — what a great excuse to come to Philadelphia and cycle!


My Brompton

A Milestone. Of Sorts.

I headed out yesterday morning, before a busy day began, intending to knock off a couple of errands, and, not incidentally, complete my first 200 miles (nearly 322 km)  on Basil.

However, it seems that I was a little sloppy with the math. When I got home, my total recorded mileage for date was at 199.99.  So near, and yet not there. Or, at least not there officiallly.

7 AM. Frost on the grass. Shopping finished.

Of course, I failed to “resume” more than once when I first got my GPS, so Basil and I have actually cycled somewhat over 200 miles together, but it sure would have been nice to see that figure on my GPS report today.  The recorded stats seem so much more valid, somehow.

I doubt it’s going to be a problem to make up that missing .01 mile.  But still . . . the champagne is on hold, at least until later today.



Tweed Ride 2012: Starting Scene

The Philadelphia Tweed Ride 2012 assembled at the Water Works, just below the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

You can see one wing of the museum looming above the Water Works here:

Here’s a view of the musuem from the Water Works plaza, from whence we departed on the Ride.

It was a picture post-card perfect day.

We were an awesome sight as we rolled out from the Water Works.  I thought that at the time, but knew it for sure when I saw thoroughbred21’s videoTake a look — you’ll be glad you did!

That’s a muzzy still of the Bicycle Chef, her Coffee Schwinn, and me, on Basil (and a slew of other tweed-clad cyclists.  You can’t tell from the image, but I’m already beaming. And why not?


Tweed Ride Philadelphia 2012

It looked as if  Tweed Ride 2012 might not happen:  A call went out in the summer for volunteers to run it, nothing was ever posted on what had been, in previous years, the Tweed Ride web page.

The Ride finally surfaced on Facebook, but the location and time weren’t posted until barely a week before the event.  Nonetheless, a large group of lads, lassies, and cycles turned up for this leisurely and thoroughly enjoyable event.

Seeing so much wool in one place just makes the heart sing.

Lots of chatting before the ride:

However, there was more to enjoy than sartorial splendor. Arriving early for registration meant having time to scope out the wheels. Tandems, for example, like this Sting Ray version:

There was an amusing triple:

Although I didn’t see it in action, someone brought a recumbent with a wind fairing:

I spotted three folders, including Basil:

This Tern D8:

And this Moulton:

The Bicycle Chef and I struck a conversation about her amazingly suitable, practically tweed, helmet (a rare Giro)

and ended enjoying a most pleasurable ride together.

Accessory spotting was just as much fun as the other visual treats.  I loved this lassies’ outfit, and was very amused to see that her tweed bag was a Keen:

Like her outfit, the bag combines a nod to vintage, while remaining completely contemporary.  Neat trick!





A Different Kind of Folder

Another cyclist was out on an unusual vehicle while Basil and I were riding on the Erie Canal towpath.

It’s an ICE HD Adventure FS — about 37 pounds (17 kilograms, more or less).  It folds in the middle; That’s a joint, and lever, below.

The cyclist says it is no problem to fold and load solo into her vehicle.

Like a Brompton, these can to be customized according to the owner’s preferences.  This cyclist wasn’t taken by the twisting action required to change gears, so she added flip levers to her ICE instead of the twist grips.

Here’s another view.  (You can see Basil in the background.  He looks positively diminutive by comparison.)

The ICE, and cyclist, were whipping along the towpath with ease.  A third cyclist stopped when he saw two cycles stopped on the trail, fearing that one of us had had a breakdown.  He was riding a mountain bike with fat tires — probably an excellent machine with which to tackle the towpath.

After quite a pleasant chat, we all went on our respective ways.