My Brompton

Spring (Grocery) Shopping

Spring may happen!  Basil and I celebrated this cheery thought by running a few errands in a (mostly) ice-free world.

a4-shWe always gravitate toward the granny smith apples for an indoor shot.  Wonder why? (Something about that wonderful color .  .  .  )

a4-chBasil’s T bag was roughly half-full when I’d finished shopping:  giant carton of lettuce mix (about a pound’s worth in weight); bananas; cheese; five pounds of bread flour; yeast; a pound of almond flour and a couple of other things I can’t remember.

Altogether, the groceries added up to 12 pounds/5.4 kilograms.  I weighed it all when I got home, since I was curious to know what the weight was, compared to riding without any appreciable cargo.  Also, this was the first time I’d hauled six pounds of various flours.

a4-tbHere’s the thing about a Brompton bicycle, though: because the luggage is attached to a block on the frame of the bike, all the weight is carried there.  Steering is unaffected:  Move those handlebars, and the luggage has no effect at all on balance.  Brilliant!

I’m not well-coordinated, nor particularly strong.  If my bike used a traditional handlebar basket, I’d be lucky to be able to wrangle two pounds of cargo (less than a kg!).

a4-bgEven a partially-full T bag looks ungainly — but looks are deceptive.  Basil and I breezed home.

a4-gnNot without stopping, however, to admire the slight hints of green which are now appearing everywhere.


Reporter Meets Bromptoneers, Survives

Businessweek published a terrific article about Bromptons a couple of days ago.  Our own NYCeWheels supplied a loaner Brompton bicycle to the reporter, and sent him off, jet-lagged, to meet the cyclists of The London Brompton Club. 

The best part?  Quotes from Andrew, partner of the famous (some say “legendary”) Brompton Bumble Bee. (There’s another one at the end of the article. Read it; you’ll be happy you did!)

“We treat them like children, babies, literally,” says Andrew Barnett, one of the club’s co-founders. “I dry the bike off before I dry myself off.”

There’s a quote, too, from Peter, at Basil’s (and Argyll’s) home shop:

“The Brompton folds smaller than any of the other models,” says Peter Yuskauskas, manager of NYCeWheels. And it rides well enough to compete with traditional road bikes, he says. “It’s kind of our perfect product.”

It’s a great article, and I admit I blushed when I read this paragraph (it was almost like looking into a mirror! totally unexpected self-recognition!):

In Windsor, whenever the London Brompton Club stops, there’s just enough time for me to catch up and remove another piece of clothing. The other riders dismount and take snapshots with their bikes in the foreground, as if they are on vacation and the bike is a partner.

I don’t know, this guy sounds a little surprised.  Also, he’s put “cult” in the headline, viz.: “The Cult of Brompton Folding Bikes”.  Wonder what he means by that?

Errandonnee Tours, Trails & Group Rides

Whitford Station

As part of our Errandonnée explorations, Basil and I took the train to an unfamiliar stop.


Here’s Basil, all set to board the train.  Is it wrong that one of the benefits of riding a Brompton is the sheer pleasure of observing, over and over, what a beautiful thing — aesthetically and engineering-wise — is a Brompton?


There’s a wonderful old trestle at this very small station.  (Obviously, I’m predisposed to love metal .  .  .  )

And, hence, a long climb up to or down to those tracks.  Many of the train stations in the area specialize in inaccessibility; this one would be pre-eminent in that class.


It’s not surprising that there are no shoulders on the road; that, too, is commonplace in this area, but then there’s that sidewalk-to-nowhere at the bottom of the stairs.


Passengers who disembark on this side of the tracks find themselves stranded and facing a rather infelicitous jaunt to the parking lot, which is around to the back, under the tracks, behind the scene shown here.


Though this area isn’t very pedestrian-  bicycle-, or disability-friendly, there are some compensations, like unexpected, pretty, little views of meandering creeks and small bits of untouched woods.


Basil enjoys the views, too.  We spent a moment hoping this would be the last snow we’d see this year.  (Fruitlessly, I might add.)  Endless winter or not, it was still a lovely day for a ride, and we both went home well-satisfied.

Brompton Duo My Brompton

Spring: Skunk Cabbage Edition

In the waters and on the marshy banks of creeks in the area greenery is sprouting.


We think this stuff is Skunk Cabbage, but we won’t know for sure until we get a closer look.

This was a tough winter; the evidence is everywhere.  Recently uprooted trees are lying across the streams, and broken branches, small and very large, are scattered across the landscape.

uw-piAlmost exactly a year ago, I took pictures of Basil and Dr. Diarist’s mountain bike in this same area (and next to this very tree); the ground was clear then, and we had to lean both bikes next to a tree for the picture.  This year, there was enough debris to keep Argyll and Basil upright even on a slope.

Argyll fell over, though, when posing for his solo shot, and his mirror buried itself in the mud and muck — loosening quite a bit in the process.  I thought I had the right size allen wrench in Basil’s saddle bag, but was quite wrong.


Happily, Argyll was covertly transporting the elegant Brompton tool kit, which turns out to be as functional as it is beautiful.  (More on that later; I’m a bit behind on writing about Brompton paraphernalia.)

Winter isn’t entirely over.  We took the Uwlchlan Trail the other day, and greenery wasn’t all we saw.  (It’s pronounced with an “ooch” as in “mooch” and then “lan”:  “ooch-lan”.  Or should it be “ooulch-lan”? Is it Welsh? Somehow I think it should be.)


There are still mounds of grubby snow around, looking, at this point, rather like permanent fixtures.  This is residual from a parking lot near a train station. It’s going nowhere fast, in spite of the 60 F/15.5 C temperatures.


Dr. Diarist spotted a solid block of ice under the tracks.  Closer inspection revealed that it was melting from within, thanks to a drain pipe located in the track bed above, from which a few desultory drops of water slowly fell.


Water can be soooo destructive.  And messy; is that swath of black due to a high mineral content in the local water?


The ice pyramid doesn’t look as impressive from a slight distance; as we rode by I thought I’d see a crumpled piece of plastic out of the corner of my eye.  Those fluffy white bits didn’t register as snow, either, probably because I’d long before shed my light jacket.

The trail goes past a park, then alongside a country club, and into a neighborhood, where a slightly less organic display of flora — not skunk cabbage — testifies to someone’s belief that freezing temperatures are gone for now.


It’s kind of rural-urbia in this area; Basil is checking out a field, here, that is next to a pretty ordinary suburban development.


There’s an old grist mill along the trail.  Basil introduced Argyll to the pleasures of posing on top of things; they’re nicely framed in what once was either a window or an opening for a loading chute.


The ruins date from 1811.  That’s antiquity for those of us here in North America.  (Well, “antiquity” for a purpose-built structure that’s managed to survive.)

Southeastern Pennsylvania is dotted with similar ruins; one of the pleasures of the area is running across them unexpectedly.  How better to find them than on a Brompton?  (Or two!)

Argyll Gear

Argyll’s Brompton Mini O Bag

My Mini O bag has turned out to be far more useful than I’d imagined, so we outfitted Argyll with one as soon as we could.


I emailed Brompton, hoping that they would tell me that a racing green version was in the works, but they replied promptly and told me that they have no plans to release the Mini O in “classic” colors.   All those  currently available wonderful colors, it seems, are strictly for the faddists!


So all-black it was — and all-black was just as difficult to find this time around as it was when I went looking for Basil’s Mini O last year.  We bought this one where we found Basil’s — at Portapedal in Arizona.  Donna and Al are incredibly nice people to deal with, and got our Mini Os out to us in record time, both go-rounds.  (Search tip:  look for an in-stock waterproof bag where there are deserts!)


However, we needed a way to tell the two Mini Os apart, since Dr. Diarist and I pack ours differently.  I had a (color co-ordinated — take that, fashion mavens!) shoulder pad handy, so I slipped it over the one that came with the Mini O, and voilà, instant identification.  An incidental bonus is that the new pad is just bulky enough that the strap is contained when looped through the handle — no need to detach it to ensure a tangle-free ride.


Originally, I got the Mini O because of its waterproof nature.  I’ve since discovered that I favor it a surprising amount of the time.  The small and low profile means that I notice no wind drag when riding, and the inside is surprisingly capacious; it’s an ideal bag for small errands. (Above is Basil’s, lightly loaded.)


I use a variety of bags and/or luggage for the many types of riding I do; so far Dr. Diarist uses only the Mini O when riding locally (at this point, his rides are all recreational).  He’s been very pleased with this little accessory, which has plenty of room for discarded gloves, jackets, and the like, while at the same time, seeming to be hardly there.