Tours, Trails & Group Rides

Mid-Winter Thaw

. . . with tiny rapids:

It was as beautiful to hear as to see.


We Get It Right (With Tree)

I made an embarrassing slip-up when Basil and I attempted to replicate the Brompton logo a while back.

The second shot of the original series showed both of Basil’s wheels tucked in, when the logo shows them partially folded.  iCrazyBee, of Legend fame, commented and pointed out my error, for which I was grateful, even though it’s taken me months to correct it.

Of course, I’ve got a backlog of Basil’s cards with the wrong images on them.  I probably should re-print them, which will be a bit of a pain. In the meantime, it’s good to have salvaged Basil’s honor, and paid homage — correctly — to one of the best corporate logos out there.

My Brompton

[Basil] Soup Spotting

Basil received congratulations from a reader (and cyclist) last week, who discovered this while at The Cedars House Cafe in Philadelphia’s Fairmont Park:

Saul noted that “Basil had a soup named after him, much classier than a sandwich”.  Indeed, and Basil’s feeling quite honored!


An “M” Bag for a Brompton

The “M” is for “modded”, because this bag was made to fit my cut-down S frame.  This is the latest bag I’ve made in my never-ending search for the perfect bag for every conceivable cycling purpose.  (Everybody needs a hobby, right?)

This front bag is made to match Basil’s underseat bag, which accompanies us at all times.

The goal here was was to make a small bag I could use for all-day trips when I’d need to pack a little more stuff than I can get into the underseat bag alone.  But I also wanted a bag into which I could toss my tablet if I wanted to do nothing more than go and sit in a coffee shop and surf.

Inside, there’s a padded pocket for exactly that purpose:

The red ribbon goes under the tablet so that I can pull on the nylon triangle and lift the tablet out of the sleeve easily.  (I love being able to add the features I want to the bags I make!)

The long green flap below folds over the open tablet sleeve.  (It’s lifted out of the way in the picture above.)  I took the front flap off for this shot, so that the tablet sleeve cover would show up better.

I wanted pockets on the inside, but didn’t want to make them myself, so I used commercial mesh pockets I’d picked up at a back-to-school sale.

They worked perfectly.  I added zipper pulls cannibalized from an old bag, since the metal ones on the pockets are a little too small for convenient use inside a bag.

I added a D ring on the upper left for keys and such. (The bag is inside-out here.)

There’s a different sort of mesh bag to the left.  It’s for a water bottle.  I made the sleeve with a deep open hem at the top, so that I can slip a bit of plastic mesh screen next to the mesh, into the pocked made by the hem.

The mesh supports the sleeve, and makes it easy to pop a bottle in or out, without subjecting it to drag against the mesh fabric. Here’s the view from the top:

If I don’t want to carry a water bottle inside the bag, I can remove the mesh, in which case the netting collapses and is easily pressed against the side, leaving that much more room in the bag, as you can see below.

The screen is sufficiently small and light that it can tuck anywhere in the bag for future use.

There are exterior pockets on either side of the M bag.  These lie flat when the bag is fully open.  This photo shows the side of the bag before I added magnets.  (More about those further down.)

Hidden inside are clips for a shoulder strap:

The clips are off-center because the bag, when worn, is weighted slightly toward the frame. Putting the strap closer to the frame makes the bag easier and more comfortable to wear.

Hiding the clips not only makes the bag look more streamlined, but also helps keep the strap from flopping wildly when it’s attached.

I wanted to be able to use this bag infrequently as a wide-open rectangle, but wanted it to have a slimmer profile most of the time.

I sewed magnets to the each side of the bag so that it could be quickly switched from one configuration to the other.  When the magnets are flipped together, the bag is more compact.

I like the way the side pockets open a bit when the bag is folded, allowing ready access to their interior (these will be used for snacks, as a rule, so it might be nice to be able to reach inside easily.  When riding in some areas, one pocket will also hold an easily-grabbed small canister of Halt!, which I devoutly hope I never have to use).

The bag is closed with a single large buckle, hidden beneath the flap.  Taking a cue from the authentic Brompton S bag, I made the flap removable.

The flap is in both of Basil’s colors, and matches his underseat bag, but the bag itself is just green, with black binding.  The removable flap means that I can change the look whenever I feel like it, simply by sewing a new flap.  (Heh, heh . . . why, yes, I do have something particular in mind!)

Here’s the back of the bag, showing the modified S frame, and where the flap attaches to the bag with hook-and-loop fasteners.

(The flap’s not set perfectly over the fastener on the right, so you can see the soft loop fastener just below the strapping. I should check these things before snapping the pictures!)

The bag is lined with ripstop nylon, and all interior edges finished with twill binding.  Plastic mesh provides stiffening for the bag; it’s sandwiched between the main fabric and the lining.  The tablet sleeve is additionally padded with a sheet of closed cell foam cribbed from packaging that either came with my tablet, or with one of its covers.

I’m excited about the potential daily utility of this new bit of luggage, and eager to try it out.  By the time this post appears on the blog, I will already have done so, but as I’m writing this, I still haven’t even seen the bag on Basil!

(Edit: Yep, my posts are out of order, and, though I hadn’t seen the M bag on Basil when I wrote this, I have now, and so has everyone who saw Errandonneuring On a Brompton, Part 2. some days I just can’t keep up with myself.)



Track of the goose:

Track of the Brompton:

Basil’s track looks awfully delicate compared to the rampaging (and large!) prints left by the feathered crowd.


Wire Basket, Edited

Basil’s wire basket came with a bail.  I thought I could live with it, but the truth is that it was a constant minor annoyance.

No matter which way I flipped it, the wire blocked the basket opening.  Then there was the comfort issue:  Although the bail has a plastic handle, it’s sufficiently thin and unergonomic that using it is really not much better than holding the bare wire.

So I removed it.  Though this required some finicky (and gentle) bending and pulling, it was surprisingly easy to do.

When the basket is attached to the Brompton S frame, it’s easy to carry it with the far nicer Brompton handle.  When the basket’s not in use, it doesn’t need a handle. Much better.


Neoprene Mitts Update

After a brief hiatus, Basil and I finally got a chance to run out for groceries, and to test his new neoprene mitts.  I made these after seeing some commercial examples because I couldn’t find any that would fit Brompton M bars, like Basil’s.

As suspected, getting my hands into and out of the mitts was no problem at all.  I was able to signal and shift without any difficulty, and with very little thought.

You can see why: There’s a lovely gaping maw into which one sticks the hands.  The mitts are anchored to the handlebars, so they don’t slip.  However, I didn’t realize until I got home that I’d set the left one lower than it should have been.  This, oddly, made no difference in use, but it did mean that my Garmin was a bit obscured.

The hook-and-loop fasteners belong above my light mount, not below it.  (Yeah, I don’t ride at night.  The light is in case I’m running late, and end up coming home on an overcast day a bit later than expected. Should I ever need it, the mitt will be adjusted appropriately.)

On this 32 F/0 C ride, my hands were quite comfortable in thin (though “winter”) gloves.  I loved not having to ride wearing my lobster claws — though, since this was the the first trial run for the mitts, I had them tucked in Basil’s saddle bag, just in case.  I much prefer the dexterity that comes with lightly clad digits.

That shopping bag has to go.  Basil obviously needs a polka dot shopper.

Related:  Neoprene Handlebar Covers for my Brompton




Cool Weather Cycling Shoes

My winter foot gear set up couldn’t be simpler.  I’ve been wearing these Keen Presidios since last fall, and I’m mad about them.  They’ve been a terrific cycling shoe for me.

I bought these a half-size larger than my usual Keen size — these are US 7/Keen EU 37.5.  That’s because I wear them with very well padded SmartWool PhD socks.  I wash these socks in the machine, dry them slightly by machine, and then hang them to dry the rest of the way.  This has made the socks even more dense than when I bought them, and they need the extra room in the shoes.

Incredibly, my feet have not been cold once this winter — even in 18 F/-7.7 C temperatures.  I may have to fuss and bother about layers everywhere else on my body, but I’ve never had to think twice about my feet!

The soles of these cycling shoes are SPD-compatible (though I don’t go there).  Keen also makes a Presidio walking shoe that looks the same, but doesn’t have the cleat plate (naturally), and presumably has a slightly less stiff sole.

The Presidio hikers would undoubtedly be the best choice for serious walkers.  However, I’ve wandered all around New York City for days in these shoes, in spite of their lovely stiff soles, and been quite happy wearing them as a pedestrian.

I’m a packing minimalist, and won’t take spare shoes on a trip if I can avoid doing so — and, even if I’m riding Basil on only one day when traveling, I take the shoes I want while bicycling, and wear only those for the entire trip.  These shoes have performed admirably, every way I’ve used them.


A Correction

Mr. Diarist noted a previous post, in which I commented that cellos were probably not useful for transport from train to, well, anywhere.  He suggests this may not be so.

Just ask James Bond.

(It’s from The Living Daylights, via Shrunken Cinema.)


Summer Bicycling Footgear

Still winter here, but in mid-February a lass turns to thoughts of spring.  I want to wear sandals while biking in the heat of summer, so I snapped up this Keen Commuter II pair when I found them remaindered recently.

If I remember correctly, the difference between the Commuter II and the Commuter I is that hook-and-loop strap across the top of the shoe.  The earlier version just had the bungee lock — which in my experience, isn’t much of a “lock” at all.  I was happy to see the more effective strip.

Covered toes are a must for me when cycling or traveling. Scraped toes rank high on my personal list of “horrors to be avoided at all costs”.  These not only have a closed toe, but a sturdy toe cap, so the digits should be well-protected.

These are true cycling shoes, at least in the sense that they are fittted out for SPD cleats.  I’ll never use this feature; I’m just too clumsy to trust myself in clipless pedals on a bicycle.  But this is the right sole for good power transfer, even if you’re a wimp like me.

I’m hoping these will be comfortable for cycling without socks, though I suspect that I may want liners on rides longer than about 10 miles.  Socks will look silly worn with the sandals, but I’m all about the comfort, so I won’t care if they are necessary.  Time will tell; I’m not testing these, sock-less, in the heart of winter.

Unlike my Keen three-season cycling shoes, I bought these in my usual shoe size: 6.5 US/Keen EU 37.  They are much narrower than most Keen shoes or boots, which works well both on my feet and on Basil’s pedals.  Off Basil, they feel great, and, in spite of the stiff sole, I don’t find them at all uncomfortable for walking, which means that they should travel well at times when I’ve got Basil with me but may also be doing some walking without him.