Short Trips & Errands

Pennsylvania Dreamin’

Although I’m loath to put the brakes to the vibrant discussion engendered by the recent chain posts (!), move forward I must.  Thanks to the press of ordinary life, the lassitude that is summer, or perhaps innate disorganization, I’m still trying to publish posts from more than a month ago.  Basil probably expects better from his amanuensis, as indeed, he should.  Onward, then!

When I decided, late one afternoon, that I wanted to run an errand, I took Basil, my Brompton bicycle, from the coat closet, and set off with no fanfare at all.

lla-grWe detoured a bit just to enjoy the greenery.  Is it “dappling” when the shadows form stripes instead of patches?  Beautiful, just the same.


Basil and I rode to a local bike shop, and picked up this chain cleaner, which fit neatly into his Mini O bag.  The Mini O has turned out, most unexpectedly, to be my go-to bag for short trips; it holds far more than you’d imagine, and is small enough to be unnoticeable on the bicycle.


Nearby streams were still quite swollen from the recent torrential rains.  California is suffering one of the worst droughts ever, and we have more water than we can use.  Where’s the justice?


What a lovely mess of branches reflected in the water!  Actually, it is quite a mess, what with so much debris left by the storms.


We stopped in at a local “natural foods” store where I had a drink — non-alcoholic, though is there anything inherently unnatural about, say, vodka, for example?  It’s just potatoes, right?  (Though I’m pretty sure the co-op doesn’t have a liquor license.)  The magazine was full of enterprising people saving the world, one block at a time.


Hordes of adults were out getting fresh air and exercise in a park.  Bicycles aren’t the only way to live well, it seems!  Green space goes a long way toward making a community feel friendly and liveable.  I’m guessing we owe virtually all of our local green spaces to people like the ones in the co-op’s magazine:  those who save the world, one park (or trail) at a time!


Further down the road, a train zipped by, and left me dreaming.  Late afternoon light; trains, and Basil . .  .  what a perfect confluence, evoking worlds of possibility!

15 replies on “Pennsylvania Dreamin’”

The fanfare was a quiet “riot” from within, in anticipation of the journey, wherever it might lead and whatever CHAIN of events might transpire.

amanuensis, indeed. Ah, but you do so much more than take dictation and copy manuscripts, even tho I’m sure Basil speaks to you.

What a coincidence! I have been riding by volleyball courts recently as well. I love the green in all the photos.

My nephew, who is very thoughtful, gifted me a chain clean for Christmas last year. Now that I have one, I use it to clean Brahma’s (my Brompton = Brahma) chain. Very handy tool to have.

Hope the rest of your weekend is a fun one as well!

Peace :)

An entrepreneurial consideration may be a trail-side Cyclone chain (there’s that word again) cleaning and lube center. Who knows, there may soon be a chain of trail-side chain cleaning and lube centers.

I love it, Saul! Somewhere recently we noticed someone had put up a card table with iced water bottles next to a trail (maybe the Chester Valley Trail?). One day, when everyone bikes, maybe the trail-side will resemble cycling strip malls, and all bike chains will be forever clean, thanks to the convenience of trail-side maintenance . . .

Were it not for the tag hanging from his seat, Basil would be virtually invisible in the third pic.

That’s Basil’s Amtrak tag, sometimes attached when he’s traveling, and apparently sometimes not removed when he gets back home. As soon as I saw the photo, I removed it. Basil was much relieved; who likes to wear a vinyl tag?

“Although I’m loath to put the brakes….” which brings us to the topic of STOPPING, often a very important consideration when dealing with cycling and its forward motion.

As per the late great Sheldon Brown:

Stopping is not so much of a challenge for most cyclists, but there are still some bad habits to lose and good habits to teach yourself.\

Shift Down First

If your bike has derailer gears, it can only be shifted while in motion. It is very worthwhile to cultivate the habit of shifting into a fairly low gear as you glide to a stop, so that you will be in a suitable gear for starting up again. Usually, this will involve shifting the rear derailer onto the lowest (largest) sprocket, and the front onto the second largest chainwheel. Naturally, in an emergency, panic stop, you’ll just stop, and not worry about the gear, but for normal, controlled stops, you can teach yourself to do this downshifting automatically.
When To Put Your Foot Down

Perhaps arising from a desire to assist the inadequate brakes with shoe leather, some cyclists have a tendency to put a foot down too soon, which may be painful.

When stopping, you need to rest your weight on one pedal, (which will necessarily be at the bottom of its range, if your bicycle is equipped with a freewheel.) Your other foot shouldn’t touch the ground until the bicycle is pretty much stopped.

If you put you foot down while the bike is still moving along, here’s what happens: You’re already slowing down with the brakes, and the brakes are slowing the entire bike/rider unit. If you put a foot down and transfer your weight to it, the brake then only needs to slow the bicycle, which is much lighter than you. The amount of braking force that was slowing the bike and rider at a controllable rate will be sufficient to bring the bicycle alone to an abrupt halt. Meanwhile, your body’s momentum keeps you in motion, until you whack a delicate part of your body on the handlebar stem of your suddenly stopped bicycle…ouch!

A useful tutorial, for certain. I took the liberty of adding the link to Sheldon Brown’s website, Saul, since it’s becoming increasingly obvious that everyone should visit there!

Of course, you also don’t want to brake by getting anything caught in your……chain, be it just cleaned and lubed, or not.

Although beautiful this ain’t the easiest blog entry from which to create and maintain a thread.


I would just like to say how delightful it is to find the word “amanuensis” in a blog post about bicycles. (Literacy should be applauded wherever it’s encountered.)

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