Tours, Trails & Group Rides

Spring Bliss (and an OT gripe)

This was another lovely ride along the Chester Valley Trail, about 24 miles/38.6 km.  The world still looks a little bare, but things are changing rapidly.


I took only these two pictures, perhaps because it was just so fine to be out on the trail on a beautiful day, and such a good thing to be with cycling buddies again after the long winter!

We stopped at Wegman’s, as is our habit, and got a bite to eat.  I meant to snap a picture of one of their new individual cheese trays, but forgot to.  The serving was delicious and generous enough that I took a portion home for snacking later.

hb-12(That’s one of Saul’s steeds, posing with Basil in Exton.)

This paucity of photos may also be due to my unending frustration with my smartphone, which is one lousy camera.  (Or maybe smartphones are strictly selfie-phones? Ugh.)

After this ride, I vowed to keep carrying my clunky little point-and-shoot.  You know, the kind with a viewfinder that is usable in daylight.

Response to comments and email will be slow or non-existent until early next week, as Basil and I will be travelling — and riding in our third 5 Boro Tour.


Argyll’s Inspiration: Name This Brompton!

Like so many other prospective Brompton riders, when contemplating acquiring Argyll, Dr. Diarist spent quite a bit of time considering what color he should be.

Naturally, Dr. D consulted the NYCeWheels configuator, but in the end Argyll’s colors were chosen after the owner of Click-Stand sent a photo to us, featuring a Brompton kitted out in Racing Green with Sage Green extremities.

In one of those wonderful quirks for which the Internet is well-known, it happened that the owner of that beautiful Brompton contacted me after I wrote this post about my Click-Stand.

Tom and his B are a bit more hardcore than we wimps here.  He’s ready for touring, in rain, no less, above.  (Note how well the Click-Stand works!)   Below, you can see the gear without the rain covers:  That’s the excellent Brompton T bag on the front, and the rack sack on the back.


Tom’s Brompton is a 2013 M6R, so it isn’t exactly a twin to Argyll, who is a 2013 M6H, but the close kinship is undeniable.  Tom’s Brompton is unnamed, though, and he suggested that Diaries readers might come up with some suggestions.  Anything, he says, but Cedric.

What do you say, Brompton readers?  Who is Tom’s handsome M6R (other, that is, than Not Cedric!)?

Tours, Trails & Group Rides

Winter’s End

Or so we’re claiming.  A bunch of us got together earlier in April — like several weeks ago, sorry Lisa! —  to ride together for the first time in far too long.  Saul was with us originally, and we lost a few others, too, to previous commitments (or maybe to the horrendous wind — a bane on the outgoing trip, but a boon on the return).

gr-grAs a result, I only got four of us in this photo, midway through our ride.We took the Chester Valley Trail from Devon to Exton and back, a distance of about 24 miles/38.6km.

Along the way, we made some pretty thrilling discoveries:  At Exton, where we turned around, we found a combined human/canine water fountain (that’s it behind Basil). The gap in the top of the column is an indentation and spout for filling water bottles — a nice touch!


But that wasn’t all.  Around the corner, Mike discovered a mechanic’s station, complete with a bike stand, an amazing collection of tools, and a tire pump with both Presta and Schrader fittings.

hc-mgThis one is a Dero Fixit station. Don’t have a clue how to proceed?  If you have a smartphone, you can scan the QR code to find out what to do.  Brilliant, isn’t it?


This one was donated by Malvern Federal Savings Bank.


There’s another, bright orange, Fixit station in front of the PNC bank just around the corner from the Target/Wegman’s complex at Route 29 on the Chester Valley Trail, donated by PNC.  Now that’s community banking at its finest!


A Canal in Almost-Spring

Whenever I take a road trip, Dr. Diarist always suggests that I take Basil with me, however unlikely the opportunities for cycling may seem.


This practice always pays off.  There’s no down side:  After all, if no chance presents itself, we’ve lost nothing.  On the other hand, if there’s any chance of a bit of a ride, Basil and I are ready to go.

So when we found ourselves in upstate New York, just after our own last snow, but before New York was quite finished with winter, we were able to do a little exploring.

pt-gsWe rode in the opposite direction to the one we usually take on the Erie Canal towpath.  Snowy banks in spots along the canal looked like the last remnants of winter; certain geese were gearing up for spring nesting defense work.  Not persistently, though; we passed without incident.


It was a fine day to be out, and both Basil and I were overjoyed to be moving once again.

Parts of the towpath were looking more spring-like than others.  That russet blush was a treat to see, even if the hues are more usually associated with autumn.


I’d never seen these stone bridges before; they’re not a typical feature of the towpath in the opposite direction where we usually cycle.  This view looks like a CAPTCHA; in a month the bridge will be completely obscured.

pt-sbThat lovely arch, all stone, is echoed further down the canal by a matching bridge, and reflected in the water below.


Not-winter, not-spring is such a good time of year, if only because of what trees look like, just before blooming, against blue skies.


A massive amount of work was being done along the canal, including some housing construction, trail improvements, and various repairs.  New docks were going in, too.   Basil liked the view over the desiccated (and perhaps still frozen) mud flats.


Later in the summer, the canal will be completely full, and those banks will be entirely submerged.    Further down, we saw an entirely different view:  The canal looked like over-salted asphalt.


That was no saline deposit of course, but ice, and plenty of it, in spite of the sunny day, and in spite of so much of the canal being clear elsewhere.

We rode alongside part of the Genesee Riverway for the first time, and even explored a short spur that led to  .  .  . Costco?


Yep, directly to a Costo retail warehouse, currently under construction.  Could I transport a giant bale of paper towels  on Basil?  Hmmmm .  .  .


That kind of experimentation is for another day, perhaps. In the more forbidding seasons, especially, it’s easy to forget how close urban amenities are when cruising beside a nearlly-empty canal.   On this day, that was a good thing: Costco can wait for another time and another day.


By Horse, Not Brompton (!)

Dr. Diarist had a meeting recently in Lancaster County, about an hour from our home.  I went along, as I often do, and since I’d have to occupy myself during the time he was busy, I planned to take Basil and tour the countryside for the first time in months.

(This photo: Wikipedia)

But, as it happened, the day was going to be an infelicitous one for cycling, so I did a little research and found Landis Valley Farm and Museum nearby. (That URL hasn’t worked for me for weeks, but you may have better luck?  It does appear to be the correct one. I reported it; no one seemed interested, and it still doesn’t work for me. )

I reluctantly left Basil home, and quite unexpectedly had a very different sort of transportation adventure.  It was a particularly cold day, and few visitors had made their way to the farm.   While strolling around, I saw a woman driving a fairy-tale carriage, and, on a whim, asked if she took passengers.


She did!  She is a volunteer at the farm, and was practicing handling the horse and buggy for an upcoming wedding.  We took several turns around the grounds while she patiently answered my questions.  Nettie May, named for the sister of the founding Landis brothers, gently pulled the carriage.

Another wagon was making the rounds, pulled by Hank and Henry (named for the brothers themselves).   My guide suggested that I should hop on board, as a more experienced guide was settled in the back and might be able to provide more information about the farm.  Naturally, I did!


But my questions were soon forgotten; the driver asked me if I’d like to a chance at the reins . . . Would I?  Would I?  Oh yes, indeed!  When would I ever have an opportunity like this again?

Let me say for the record that huge, powerful, well-trained horses are responsive, but not as responsive as a Brompton.  Also, squeaky voices are not necessarily authoritative in a horse’s ear.  But what a wonderful experience!


I drove the team (with a vigilant genuine driver right by my side) around the farm several times.  Then I mentioned that I had to leave (Dr. D’s demo was over, and he was waiting to be collected), and asked to be dropped off.  It was suggested that I might like to drive the team right to my car:  Never has traversing a parking lot been such an unfamiliar pleasure!

I wasn’t very happy about having left Basil home, but the end result was most unexpected, and most extraordinary.  Another time, perhaps Basil himself would enjoy a ride in the carriage or wagon?  We’ll have to see; I’ll be back.

There’s lots going on at this “living museum” even if you don’t get a chance to drive a team of horses:  demonstrations; events; classes; re-creations; a heritage seed project; heritage husbandry and more.  As a side note, the requisite shop is the most intelligently stocked of any I’ve seen at similar venues; it’s well worth a visit all on its own.


Basil’s Events Bag

When I made Basil’s “M” bag, I made the flap removable so that Basil could wear whatever sort of ornamentation struck his fancy.; naturally, he was going to need an Events Bag to mark his formal cycling adventures.  He’s been sporting this new bit of luggage for a few rides now, and it’s worked out very well.


For this iteration of the M bag, I made a new flap, and added a few modifications to the original bag, based on how I’ve used it.

eb-fpThese front flaps are basically shaped like chubby letters “U”.  The tabs at the top have soft hook-and-loop closures on the reverse side, which connect with the bristly hook-and-loop sections sewn to the back of the bag.

ev-vcWhen assembled, the front flap wraps around the Brompton frame, and the flap sides are secured around the frame’s handle.  (The frame is a cut-down Brompton S frame.)

eb-frHere’s how the new flap looks attached to the bag.  (Those two “ears” on each side are open pockets, just large enough for snacks, dog repellent, and the like.)


The original M bag flap was  asymmetrical with a buckle underneath; the inner bag was completely open.  The new one attaches around the handle with the same hook-and-loop fasteners , but there’s no buckle in the front.


Magnets are now sewn to the underside of both flaps to hold them in place when Basil flies down the road.  This particular bag is designed to collapse at the top when it’s not full, so I modified the bag body with two rows of magnets on the front of the bag, corresponding to the larger and smaller positions.

The bottom row of magnets is visible when the bag is fully open, but that’s not a concern:  Function before form!


I’ve been using the M bag in its original configuration with no problems, but decided that I’d like to have some way to close it completely under the flap, to make sure that small goods didn’t go flying, and to allow over-loading it when I might be tempted to do so.

This go-round, then, I added a nylon ripstop cuff, with a drawstring,  When it’s not needed, this extension tucks into the bag around the inside edges, leaving the opening quite accessible.


All in all, this version is a lot more functional than the earlier iteration.  I’ve become a big fan of magnets as closures — they connect automatically and stay put, whereas the chunky buckle I had used previously was sometimes a pain to close, and always a bit of a bother, due to being hidden under the flap.

About Those Patches

Finding embroidered patches isn’t always as easy as you’d think — the 5 Boro doesn’t sell them, for example, so I had to get creative to snag these.

At the 2013 5 Boro Tour I spied an embroidered luggage tag, and snapped it up.  In 2014, I bought a baseball cap (!) (at a clearance price, go figure) from which I cut that lovely embroidered shield.

MG supplies great patches for her Coffeeneuring and Erranddonnee events; those were much more easily acquired.

I somehow always get patches slightly lopsided when I sew them on, but have decided it’s a feature, not a bug.  It’s the human touch!  Patches always seem kind of rambunctious anyway, don’t you think?


That Victory patch?  Oops. I’d sewn it on before I remembered that we’ve failed to make Victory’s PASA event every year so far.  (It usually occurs when I’m out of town.)  I bought the patch reflexively when we saw them in the Victory store.

I don’t actually drink beer, so I’m declaring that the “event” for this badge is the run Basil and I make to pick up Victory Brewing Company’s Hopped Up Devil ice cream.

Trust me, there is no better ice cream (cayenne! coffee beans! chocolate!); acquiring and consuming it is an event-worthy experience, and a much more worthwhile activity than wrestling with removing a bunch of tiny stitches that hold an admittedly slightly illegitimate patch on Basil’s new flap.

In fact, I think I’ll just find my way to the freezer right now; Basil and I can pick up more on our next  trip nearby.  It’ll be an event!

Errandonnee Events

Errandonnee 2015: DNF

Well, that was a bust:  we Did Not Finish. I had high hopes, though.  Schedules were tight, so I knew that succeeding at Errandonnee 2015 would be tricky.  To start, Basil and I set out to knock off as many errands as possible on a very short ride.

err15-mgFirst we headed to a bookstore, and checked out the biking magazines (Errand 1).  (We weren’t too impressed; they seem to be getting less relevant and less inspirational every month.  Of course, Basil is a Brompton, so why would I need a buyer’s guide.  Heh, heh.)

err15-libThen we headed to the library (Errand 2), where Basil shared our books with a couple of very cold children outside the front door.

err15-cofWe stopped for coffee (Errand 3) — iced coffee on a cold day, my favorite! — and then rode a nearby trail for a bit, stopping to admire the end-of-winter scenery.

err15-aqAfter popping into a sporting goods store (Errand 4) in search of a wool Buff (a fail; they’re hard to find in stores; also I forgot to take a photo), we got lunch (Errand 5) at a pizza place.  (“Mediterranean Salad”, yum!)

err15-pzOn the way back, we stopped to admire the icy waters of a pond.  Ice: that was this winter’s theme, all over our world.

err-15icWe managed five errands, covering only about six miles/9.6 km.  Unfortunately I had only one day free left during the challenge period to complete the full slate of 12 errands and the remainder of the 30 miles/48 km required.

All would have worked out fine if that particular day hadn’t coincided with our final storm of the season.  That storm was a doozy — a doozy which vanished in 24 hours, but, even so, that was a day too late for us.

No matter; Coffeeneuring is next up, in the fall, and next March we’ll give Errandonneuring another go.