My Brompton Tours, Trails & Group Rides

Glory and Ignominy

First the glory, so that the ignominy is a mere footnote.  Basil and I were up before dawn, and on the train at as the sun came up, in order to meet up with our leader, in Philadelphia, for a group ride.

Lots of reflection through the train window, but you get the idea.  Great sky; glowing lights.

Apparently, ice cream is not for breakfast any more. Ben and Jerry’s was closed at 7:30 on Saturday morning at 30th Street Station.

Ice cream was unnecessary, though, as this was the Donut Run, the second in a progressive series of weekly rides which increase in distance by ten miles each week.

I resisted the temptation, but was sorry later.  The guys explained that these are no ordinary donuts; they are different, and better:  Philadelphia-style donuts, maybe with yeast, maybe without, but with texture to them.  Excellent texture.

Mike and Tim were all smiles — Tim was demonstrating proper donut consumption technique here, and Mike knew his were in the bag for consumption later.

The first ride in the series was 25 miles.  The second turned out to be 33, but Basil and I ride a bit to the meeting point, so I was coming up on 40 when we finished. Naturally I  couldn’t stop shy of forty, so I determined to go all the way, and did, in fact. ride.

Forty-point-thirty miles in all.  Whoo-hoo!  That’s the longest ride I’ve taken on Basil to date, and it was a wonderful!  Oh, the glory!

Based on my experience, no one need fear the Brompton as a longer-distance bicycle.  Basil performed like a dream, and the ride was smooth and comfortable all the way, with just the solid, sweet, soft purring of his rear wheel steadily clicking along.   Forty miles of pure bliss!

Unless we are stopped for snacks, I don’t usually get a chance to snap photos on these rides, but I did get this one of part of  the old canal system, along which we frequently ride.

The last quarter mile was, though,  as suggested above, ignominious.  I fell, for the first time, while riding Basil. Not for any good reason, either.  I was packing on that last little bit of mileage, hit my target, and prepared to make a U-turn on the path.  After carefully (hah!) calculating the distance between me, Basil, and an oncoming jogger, I made my move.

As I was watching Basil’s wheel go off the edge of the path, as planned, I realized what had gone wrong. Mud! I had forgotten that the asphalt path was lined on both sides with mud.  (And, apparently, I’d looked, but not seen, the mud I hadn’t remembered.)  I was holding Basil’s wheel at just the wrong angle, and we slipped sideways.

Oh, the ignominy!

The jogger ran up to us, and offered me his hand, and then helped Basil up, too.  I landed on the side of my knee, which was not happy, smashed the side of one hand, and bruised my arm . . . but that was all. Basil was completely unhurt, much to my relief.

I guess the moral is, if you’re going to miscalculate badly, do it at very slow speed — also, commit your folly within sight of a kind fellow human!  I was very grateful to have been pulled up off the path in a moment when I’m not sure I could have managed it myself.

My knee seemed to work, so I got right back on Basil, rode another eighth of a mile or so, and then parked and ate lunch.  There’s an egg salad sandwich with tons of onions and minimal bread hiding in that waxed paper bag. I’ve rarely been quite this happy to have an excuse to sit by a river side and eat.

We eventually made our way to the train, and home.

. . . where I discovered that Mr. Diarist had been busy in our absence.

Dolsot bibimbap for dinner!  Just the food to sooth the flustered spirit — and the aching bruises.

My Brompton

Tire Valves

Basil, like all Bromptons, came with nifty metal tire valves and these thrilling clear stem caps:

Alas, when Basil’s rear tire and tube were replaced, the more pedestrian valve was installed.

Well, maybe “pedestrian” isn’t exactly the right word, under the circumstances.

I had anticipated the potential loss of the lovely transparent cap, so I saved it, removing it before Basil went into the shop.  However, it snapped in two a few days later as I was removing it preparatory to checking the air pressure.  I was shocked when I realized how brittle the plastic is.

I stole the black cap from Mr. Diarist’s mountain bike. Don’t tell anyone.


Bromptons and Bathrooms

We hydrate. We need bathrooms.  But our Bromptons stay by our sides, and we are (quite reasonably) loathe to leave them out of sight.

No problem. “Disability stalls” are good for diverse people:  someone who is temporarily in a walking cast; anyone who uses a wheelchair; parents with a horde of small children; people wearing enormous coats; anyone using a stroller; and Brompton cyclists.

Basil fits anywhere a full-sized stroller can.  Some public bathrooms are so commodious (heh, heh) that it’s possible to take a picture of a Brompton without even showing the fixtures:

Over-sized stalls. Architecture for the common good, and the uncommon cyclist.


January Day

The thing about cold weather cycling is that, if you’re moving, you don’t stay cold.

Which makes enjoying days like this one, easy.

There’s a new sign on the “pedestrian” bridge.

Basil and I came in under the weight limit.

My Brompton

We Run Errands

I popped the S bag on my Brompton, and tucked the errand list, some newly-paid bills, and a small package inside the bag. The first stop was the post office, where I forgot to take a photo, but  I did get a picture of Basil at the next stop, an office supplies shop.

Then we picked up a critical item or two from the hardware store.

Last stop was the grocery. Cheese!

Then Basil waited patiently while I indulged in a snack in the grocery’s “dining” area.

When I run errands in the car,  can’t wait for the trip to end.  When I’m doing the same things on my Brompton, I’m always sorry when the list is complete, and it’s time to go home.

Gear Tips

High Vis Hands

Stacking the odds in my favor appeals to me, so I ride in screaming neon virtually all the time. It’s no problem finding jackets, jerseys, vests, and tank tops in fluorescent colors, but gloves are another matter.  My hands are smallish and my fingers more stubby than not, so fitting even women’s gloves can be problematic.

It’s obvious that a hand in a neon glove is a lot more noticeable than one in a black glove.

When I went out recently wearing another top with super-long sleeves and thumb holes, I realized that I had a built-in solution to the “make the hands visible” problem:  Pull the cuffs over the gloves.  Perfect!

In the spring, I’ll just make a couple of  “sleeves” from neon spandex, with thumb holes, so that they don’t shift, and wear them with whatever, ending, presumably forever, my endless search for ready-made high visibility cycling gloves.


Trains, and the Romance Thereof

Modern trains are nothing like their romantic counterparts of the past, yet there is still something so compelling about train spotting, even if the train is only sitting at a station.

Is it like seeing a winding path ahead?  It’s so easy to imagine the train pulling out  . . . heading for anywhere, heading for a new adventure.

This particular train came from Harrisburg, headed for Philadelphia and New York. When it arrived, the stationmaster came out to chat with the conductor, just as thrilled to see the train as I was, though he sees them all the time. But then, you probably wouldn’t be a stationmaster if you didn’t love trains, would you?

My Brompton Tours, Trails & Group Rides

Inside View

On a recent train trip on regional rail, Basil rode in a cutaway spot in a second-row seat.

The seat directly in front is shorter than the others in order to allow the car’s door to open fully.  This makes a perfect slot for a Brompton, with the added advantage that neither the door nor the aisle are obscured by Basil.

For the first time in memory, the conductors on this train opened several car doors simultaneously.

Because Basil and I were sitting behind the cutaway seat, we got this great view all the way through the car in front of us, and beyond.  It’s easy to forget how long train carriages are; this sight made it look as if the car went on forever.

My Brompton

Basil Gets Dirty

On a recent January ride, Basil and I encountered mud and a smattering of ice, both new experiences.

Basil’s mud flaps are earning their keep.

Tidying up involves checking the nooks and crannies, and under the fenders, as well.

We’re earning our all-weather stripes — though I should point out that “all-weather”, so far, excludes both snow and serious rain.  Those will come!



My Brompton

A Progressive Program

I’ve been taking the train into Philadelphia to meet up with members of the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia for group rides.  It’s not easy (or sensible) for me to do lengthy solo rides out in what amounts to the country, where I live, and the club gives me the opportunity to take those longer rides in company.

Basil and I have to hop the train very early to arrive in time for the newest series of rides.  No problem!  I love trains, and watching the early morning light is a great way to start the day.

These latest rides are a progressive series, starting with a 25 mile ride, and then adding ten miles to the length of each every week during January.  The idea is to gain stamina and speed.

I’m not sure that I care much about speed. It’s all about the journey, for me, not the getting there, and I like taking in the scenery more than I care about zipping around.  But stamina — I like that.  I want to be fit enough to take 40 miles in stride without blinking.