My Brompton

A Screw Loose (and lost)

Dr. Diarist and I, and our Brompton bicycles, Basil and Argyll, took a jaunt on the newly opened section of the Chester Valley Trail on a blustery day.

a8cvWinds were about 16 mph/25.7 km, with gusts to 25 mph/40.2 km, but you’d never know it from looking at this photo.

a8-cpThe trail wends next to corporate parks and next to a major highway.  Someday, once it is completed, this may make a good commuting option for the vast number of employees who work in the valley.

a8-sbHuge ugly concrete walls line portions of the trail.  They function as sound barriers, blocking the noise from speeding (or gridlocked) vehicles on the roadway.

Along some stretches of the trail, they also block other things.  That’s the back of a Barnes and Noble bookstore (and coffee shop) below.

Books and coffee: so near, and yet so far.  There’s no way to get to them from the trail!

Basil considers the issue:

a8-ctlIt is perfectly obvious that a small Brompton (or two) can easily slip through the rails of this fence and make its way down the short hillside to the parking lot below, and, from thence, across to refreshment of various kinds.

Basil and Argyll were all for it, but more responsible assessments prevailed.  It’s not nice to destroy the new turf alongside a new trail. But gosh, all that’s needed for access is a relatively small set of steps.  Barnes and Noble, you’re missing a trick here!

Nobody had any qualms about crossing a construction lot at the end of the trail so that Argyll and Basil could pose with a conglomeration of enormous metal spools.


Then it was back to the trail, where I happened to snap Dr. Diarist just as he rode along an uncharacteristically empty stretch of the highway.

a8-hwWhere there no sound barriers, highway is all too evident.  I’m not sure which is worse, visually.

This particular highway is a pet peeve of mine.  Every few years it is rebuilt (and regularly enlarged).  It’s a critical commuting corridor for suburban dwellers, but a far better solution to the continual re-vamping would be to put a light-rail system down the middle.  (Or beside the road; I’m not particular.)

Thousands of commuters would be grateful to be spared the hell that is this roadway during commute hours (and the endless construction), and the consequent reduction in pollution and gas consumption would be huge.  But nooooo . . .

a8-clFortunately, there are other things to observe on the trail.  That green sign above says “Contention Ln”:  it’s naturally appealing, especially after mentally ranting about the highway.  I don’t know which I like more:  the decaying bridge or the name of the lane.

a8-pdWe were just about three-fourths of the way through our ride when disaster struck.  I lost a screw from one of my Zefal toe cages.  They’re recently installed; I haven’t had a chance to post about them yet.

a8-tlRemoving the disabled cage required the second use of our lovely, elegant Brompton tool kit in as many days. That’s probably the most beautiful ratchet wrench I’ve ever seen.  Or used.

I went looking for the missing screw, but the wind was high and the bit very, very small, so had no luck.  a8-gr

While waiting for me, Dr. Diarist made an interesting discovery at the intersection we’d just crossed.  The grimy grid above is a plate laid between a sidewalk and street; apparently it’s meant to warn pedestrians that they are about to enter an alternative travel area.

Dr. Diarist hates these plates because they are used between trail and roadway, too, and are awful to navigate on roller blades.


We had both thought they were concrete, but we learned on this day that they’re actually some kind of vinyl.  A really poor quality vinyl, apparently, which is disintegrating messily.  I’m guessing this is post-consumer waste, but maybe making infrastructure of such rapidly degrading material isn’t a very practical use, even of waste products, after all.

We stuck the now-useless toe cage into Basil’s saddle bag and headed onward.


We hadn’t noticed previously that this underpass was lit; a lot of work has been done at this point on the trail so the lights may be truly new, not just new to us.

The trip from the Exton commerce park parking lot to King of Prussia and back is just over 22 miles; a perfect mid-week exercise run.  I made a note to pick up some thread-locker before the next outing; it’s possible to ride using just one toe cage, but the experience is a bit odd.

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