Argyll Tours, Trails & Group Rides

Argyll Goes to New York

Argyll, Dr. Diarist’s Brompton bicycle, needed his post-purchase service and check, so he and I took the train to New York City.  (Dr. Diarist was otherwise occupied.)

any-stThis was not Argyll’s first time on a train, however.  He’d come home in January, in the middle of a snowstorm, but there was little documentation from that rather frenzied trip.  It felt odd to travel without Basil, but both Argyll and I took it in stride.


My T bag was stuffed, but I don’t have any trouble getting four days’ worth of clothing and gear into it.  Even a wimp like me can manage a T bag and a Brompton on a train; I sling the T bag across my back, carry the B in my right hand, and hold on firmly as I mount the incredibly infelicitously staggered stairs into the train carriage.

We watched a few trains go by before ours arrived.  Amtrak’s “Coach Class” cars always look spiffy.  I love the classic curve of the exterior, too.

any-akThe locomotives don’t seem to get as much love — or  maybe the life of a locomotive is naturally just a lot grubbier.

any-lcThis engine is pushing the train westward;  that’s a common configuration in our part of the world.  This particular train will head to Lancaster, Harrisburg, and possibly all the way to Pittsburgh.  Weirdly, the trip to Pittsburgh by train takes about ten hours, or twice the time required to drive it on the turnpike.

any-spThe exterior of SEPTA’s newest cars also tend to look pretty good, too.  The end of this particular regional line is at Thorndale; anyone wanting to go farther west needs to hop aboard Amtrak.


We were going eastward, of course.  It was a trip full of firsts for Argyll, and I did my best to record them.  It was very odd to see a small green Brompton on the train where I’m used to seeing Basil’s yellow.  Basil’s T bag served Argyll just as well as it has Basil, ensuring that he didn’t slip about during the ride.


Dr. Diarist sent me off with a new app on my Android tablet:  Trainz.  This meant that I spent some blissful time driving a train through the British Midlands while on the way to New York.  It was the best sort of cognitive dissonance:  The train I was on, and the British one, seemed to move in perfect harmony.  Good thing I wasn’t the engineer on the Amtrak train, though:  I got lost in the Midlands and had to backtrack.

any-indOutside, In Real Life, the sky was putting on a show.  All that drama above yards of industrial detritus!

any-idyMaybe it was the influence of Trainz, but it seemed to me that the view looked surprisingly like something that an animation engineer might have created.  That was a little worrisome .  .  . and inspired a philosophical moment:  What is reality, anyway?

any-plThe next view successfully distracted me from further musings.  There it was:  the unending sky, a plane, trains, and a Brompton.  The lure of adventure, symbolized in the nouns of the moment, and a fantastic roiling of clouds.

any-cgI’m not allowed to ride my bicycle inside the subway, or at indoor train stations, but a Brompton’s brilliant luggage block still carries the weight of my gear.  Argyll, just like Basil, transforms into an excellent luggage cart.

any-mrIn no time at all, Argyll had arrived in Washington Heights, and was having his portrait snapped in front of the mural where his sibling has posed so often.

any-grThen upstairs we went, Brompton and baggage, and settled into the home of the Manhattanites, to prepare for the next step of our adventure.

(Basil and I are out of town again this week, so response to comments and email will be slow — well, to be frank, non-existent — until our return.)

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.

Argyll Gear

Argyll’s Eazy Wheels

When we placed the order for Argyll,  there was some kind of a mix-up.  Although we specified “rack with Eazy Wheels” (several times over), somehow the invoice was written with the Eazy Wheels notation missing.  That was a shock on more than one front, since it hadn’t even occurred to me that a rack could be supplied without Eazy Wheels.

Argyll arrived with very small wheels attached to his rack.  So small, in fact, that any any attempt to roll him resulted in scraping both rack and bungee.  (Above, you can see the bungee squished between the rack and the floor, and dragging on said floor.)  This was utterly mystifying; why supply a Brompton with wheels that acted as an effective brake (while simultaneously destroying lovely B components)?

Clearance for the front set of wheels was only marginally better.  Here’s the little guy, resting on his weird, too-small, wheels and rack:

Zip clearance there.  I wonder why?

Dr. Diarist went to New York and picked up Argyll during one of the worst storms of the season, and as a result didn’t do much in the way of exploring his new Brompton’s capabilities.  He did briefly try rolling Argyll on his way to the train, but reported that something seemed to be wrong.   Once he was home, the problem was obvious.

So we got things straightened out, and, shortly, a set of Eazy Wheels arrived, along with a second surprise:  a bung.  That’s the plug between the wheel sets, in the package below.  The bung fits into the end of the seatpost and  acts as a brake when the seatpost is lowered all the way — a good idea, since a Brompton with Eazy Wheels attached will roll, unlike a Brompton with what I guess are “stock” rack wheels.

Peter, of NYCeWheels, had promised that the wheels would be “eazy” to install, and he was quite right.  Though rather IKEA-like, the instructions were very clear, and the assembly testimony to Brompton’s (almost) always amazing and resourceful engineering.

The only tricky bit is counting the tiny, tiny washers — they are used for spacing, and I found one hiding inside a wheel when I suspected I was one short.  Taking the existing wheels off carefully counts, too, if you want to save time; you’ll re-use some, but not all, of the original hardware, to install the new set if your B comes with a rack.

The front wheels are quite straightforward — just pop them on, essentially — but some attention is required for the rear set.  Counter-intuitively (and brilliantly) one rear wheel is set inside the rack, and one outside.  (That’s Basil, above, illustrating the point.)

Once considered, this makes sense, as the weight of a B is slightly unbalanced when folded.  The Eazy Wheel placement accounts for the discrepancy.  The shot below isn’t the best, I’m afraid, but see the angle of the bungee now, compared to the first two photos in this post?  Clearance!  Yes!

Not everyone will want Eazy Wheels, but we will use our Bromptons in so many different modes that they make a big difference to us:  Getting across a vast terminal is a breeze with a T bag on an Eazy Wheel-equipped Brompton, which pushes like a luggage cart, but with a smaller footprint.   They’re also a huge advantage when shopping, making efficient work of navigating grocery aisles.  And a set of Eazy Wheels can also make it feasible to wheel a Brompton in  areas where a unfolded bike might be banned.

And that bung?  It’s a great brake, but I’m surprised that it, too, isn’t supplied with all seatposts.  With or without Eazy Wheels, I like the idea that it’s rubber that hits the ground, instead of the seatpost itself, if I run the post down too far.   (Others may just learn more quickly than I to lower the post correctly!)

Argyll Brompton Duo

We Brave a Frozen World

With an initial success behind us, Dr. Diarist and I didn’t want to wait too long before getting out on our Bromptons again.  The weather was uncooperative, as has been its wont this year, so we jumped at the chance when a brief window opened.


Since our area was still covered in the white stuff and its hard, slick companion, we ended up on the Chester Valley Trail again.  Basil and Argyll waited patiently in the parking lot while we got our cold-weather gear around.


Argyll and Dr. D were off and running pretty quickly, though.  I don’t think Bromptons like this “sit around and wait” business much.

This trip, the trail itself was as clear as if it were high summer, in spots.  Not so the roadways, shoulders, and adjacent sidewalks.  The section of the trail in the photo below crosses a main road about 5 miles/8 km from where we started.

pdsnThat’s a pedestrian switch rising from the piles of ploughed snow at the intersection.  The button is just about at waist level on me.  (And that’s some dirty snow!)  Here in the mid-Atlantic states, we don’t usually get much of the white stuff; this year, there’s just no place to put the incredible amounts that have blanketed our world.


We were really impressed by how well-groomed the trail was, generally.  It’s narrower than when there’s no snow, but still completely usable by cyclists, joggers and pedestrians.

sldThe drainage channels beside the trail were filled with ice and crushed-ice-sludge, much of which flowed along surprisingly expeditiously.  That’s not a sight we see every day, either.

There were a couple of slightly more treacherous spots on the trail itself.


Above, that’s a layer of ice frozen to the trail, ice breaking loose above it, and water flowing over the asphalt.  There were only a couple of spots where this was an issue, though.


However, this stretch was a show-stopper.  That’s the trail — the entire trail — underwater.  Under a lot of very icy, very cold, rapidly-flowing, water.


Anyone familiar with these traffic cones will appreciate how deep the water is — the cones are marking the side of the trail, where the asphalt falls off.   That’s no place anyone would want to be, especially on a bike.  Flood, mud, ice and snow: a quadruple threat!

The open field next to the parking lot looked like a lost world: dead trees, flooding, and ice, lots and lots of ice.


It got late faster than we expected.  I had to get a solo shot of Argyll, though, to commemorate his second official ride.


This trip wasn’t quite as long as the last one; we logged about 14 miles/22.5 km, but it was still a good run — and a good save.  We’d first intended to ride the Schuylkill River Trail beginning in Phoenixville, but it was completely buried, with no access at all.  Chester Valley, you rock!

Argyll Brompton Duo

Argyll’s First Outing

And Basil’s, too, this year, now that I can ride again.  This was meant to be just a short ride, to see what kind of shape I was in after not cycling for so long.  I figured 5 miles/8 km would be enough for this initial run.

argbslThere was no way to ride where we live — too much snow, no place to put it — so we drove out to a trailhead.  That’s Argyll, in front, and Basil behind him, in the parking lot.

We stopped after roughly 5 miles/8 km and got a bite to eat.  Our Bromptons are small enough that we didn’t fold them all the way while we ate; the aisle was wide, and there wasn’t any need to.


This image below is a documentary shot; the light’s too low, but there’s an important question that needs raising here:  We noticed that our Bromptons automatically rolled to a stop next to the beer.


Is this just something that naturally occurs when two or more Bromptons gather? I don’t even drink the stuff, but maybe Basil’s trying to tell me something, now that he’s got reinforcements.


I’d thought that a short ride would be all I could manage, but it was so wonderful to be back on Basil that I just couldn’t stop.  We carried on to the end of the newly-opened extension to the Chester Valley Trail, which suddenly ends in King of Prussia, next to a small construction site.


It’s not picturesque, but I’m not complaining.  I suspect this lot is what we’ve got to thank for the trail extension, which means that it’s now possible to log over 20 miles/32 km by bicycle, round-trip, from King of Prussia** to Exton (or visa-versa), on the trail.  That’s a terrific development!

Dr. Diarist and I (and our Bromptons) logged 22 miles/35.4 km this trip.  That wasn’t the best thing for Dr. D, who isn’t yet used to his Brompton saddle*, but it felt like sheer bliss to me!  That 5 mile/8 km goal turned out to be piffle!

*Dr. Diarist isn’t used to any saddle; he’s a mountain biker.  This is a whole new world for him.  Fortunately, he seems to be adjusting well, and Argyll?  Argyll’s perfection . . . naturally!

**Yes, there really is a town in Pennsylvania called King of Prussia.  Go figure.


Basil’s Got a Brand-New Friend

His name is Argyll, and he’s an H6R Brompton.

Here he is, in the late afternoon, with Basil’s Mini-O bag on his luggage block.  (He’ll have one of his own soon enough, I expect).

Back in December, Dr. Diarist and I took a whirlwind trip to New York, and stopped in at NYCeWheels so that poor Dr. D, who had been chained to his desk just about 24/7 for the previous year,  could test ride a couple of Bromptons.

Yes, sad though it may seem, Dr. Diarist has never ridden Basil.  There was never a good moment, and, at this point, Basil is so completely identified with me (and his fittings scaled to me) that it was just never going to happen.  Happily, NYCeWheels always has a stable of Bs on hand for any similar situations.

That’s Dr. D above, on an M3R. He was dubious at first, and I briefly wondered if I’d been mistaken about how right a Brompton would be for him.

Then he tried an S type — he rides a mountain bike, and thought the straight bars might work for him — though he was pretty sure that he’d want to travel with a T bag, which the S type does not accommodate.  But the S set-up wasn’t right for him.

The he tried this M6R, and it was just right.  Dr. Diarist came back from this trial run grinning.  He loved the 6 speed gearing, and said that he couldn’t understand why anyone would settle for the three-speed hub when they could have the six.

In no time at all, we’d ordered his Brompton-to-be.  Argyll’s color scheme  — racing green frame, sage green extremities — had been previously debated, and then clinched when we saw a photo of a the same scheme on someone else’s B.

When it came time to pick up Argyll, we  had thought that we were on a tight schedule between trips, so Dr. Diarist made a quick one-day turn-around trip to New York to pick up Argyll.  Unfortunately, the only available time slot turned out to be another Snowmageddon day.

He and Argyll fought their way back to Penn Station, and then homeward through a paralyzed NYC and some pretty serious snow at home, too.

As it turned out, the expected upcoming trip was cancelled, so that unseemly haste turned out to be unnecessary.  We were just as happy to have Argyll home, but as a result of the rather sketchy adventures on the day in question we don’t have any good pictures of Argyll’s arrival. We did manage the above shot of how he looked right after he got here.  Immediately after, though, everyone was busy brushing snow off both Argyll and Dr. Diarist.

Here he is, later, a lot less snowy. And drier.

One of the coat closets has now been appropriated as a full-on Brompton Garage.  Basil and Argyll fit quite nicely, along with cycling garments, helmets, and the expanding collection of Brompton bags (which are above, on a high, dark, shelf).

Argyll arrived nearly a month earlier than expected (!), which meant that his own saddle bag is still in the works.  The fit in the garage will be a little chummier once he’s wearing his, but I don’t think either one of them will mind.

Indoors or out, two Bromptons make a very compact package.  None of us are really cycling yet — un-iced and un-snowy blacktop is quite the rarity around here these days — but all four of us are ready to go.  It’s already pretty cool to be a two Brompton family.