Errandonnee Events

Errandonnee: Part 2

Errand 8Category (2nd; second use):  Bike shop.  Ahh, much nicer than the experience earlier in the week.  I got a friendly greeting here, and so did others who came into the shop.


Sadly, though, no high-vis gloves, so Basil just checked out his non-folding compatriots, and we were on our way.  (Look at that guy — so compact!  So portable!  Not to diss big bikes; I’m sure they have their place.)

Learned/Observed:  Staff of this independent bike store is a lot more invested in being in this shop than was Mr. Chainstore Rep from the other day.

Errand 9Category (6th):  Personal Care (or possibly “Wild Card” if it comes to that).  This may be a bit of a fudge.  I actually made a “personal care” stop during Errandonnee: Part 1, trying to buy bath salts, but the store was so stinky, I had to leave, and didn’t write it up.

er-poI avoid hair salons, manicures and so on like the plague, and our (excellent, non-bank) financial institution is a 70 mile/112.6 km round trip on highways, so all of those were out as options.  Nonetheless, MG has allowed “personal finance” errands in this category, and I hope I’m not pushing the limits too much here:   I cycled to the post office to mail our bills.

Learned/Observed:  It was weirdly tricky to pose Basil next to anything that represented the post office while at the same time allowing a glimpse of him.  I’d never noticed how bare this lobby is.

Errand 10Category (4th 5th, second use):  Lunch.  Spring! Rolls!  (Spring . . . rolls!  Why yes, it will, as soon as these Arctic storms depart .  .  . .)

er-luA woman stopped as she passed Basil.  “It that a Brompton?” she said.  I was impressed; an accurate identification here in the hinterlands is unusual.  A great conversation ensued, covering folding bicycles, Minis (the cars, also British), and Bromptons in general.

Learned/Observed:  I’m kind of backward in the socializing department, but I’ll talk Bromptons forever!

Errand 11Category (6th 7th):  Grocery Store.  We stopped in for a few items at our organic market.  That’s just about 50% of the produce available — but quite a lot of it is from local sources.


Learned/Observed:  I bought a bit of produce, but wasn’t tempted by anything else.  The store, like just about every other organic/health food market I see these days, doesn’t exactly sell health(y) food. The aisles are full of processed foods (or, one might say, junk food) made with organic ingredients.  I guess it’s a step forward?  (Are chemical-free Cheeto-like “foods” really an advance?)

Errand 12Category (7th 8th): Dinner.  Basil and I went home and suggested that Dr. Diarist and Argyll join us for dinner at a local Mexican joint.


Argyll and Basil, with us, waiting to be sorted by the hostess.


I forgot to forgot to take a photograph of our actual dinner; these were starters.  The salsa was fine, but those tortillas were fried to perfection and the guacamole which followed was excellent, with diced, not smashed, fresh avocado.

Learned/Observed: Crispy tortillas and avocados, how I love thee.

Mileage:  12.00/19.3 km  Errands: 5   Total Categories:  7

Cumulative Totals for Errandonnee:

Total Mileage: 20.12 miles/30 miles  (32.38 km/48.2 km)

Total Errands:  12/12

Total Categories:  7/7  8/7

Edit 20 March:  While finalizing the control card, I realized I’d messed up my categories.  (Well, while finalizing the third attempt at a control card.) Counting and categorizing are proving a wee bit too challenging right now; perhaps my brain is in deep-freeze as a result of this past ferocious winter?  Corrections noted above.

And double whoops . . . I thought I’d planned this so that my next ride — to the market  for a more substantial grocery stop — would be errand 12, and would polish off the remaining miles.  This carelessness — wrapping up the categories and errand count before finishing the mileage — is impugning my geek cred.  I’m miffed, but shall persevere.

Errandonnee Events

Errandonnee 2014: Part 1

Errandonnee 2014 is underway, and Basil and I undertook our first errand run of the year a few days ago.  For each stop,  documentation is required:  a photo and an observation.  Here’s how the first run went.

Errand 1Category (1st):  Coffee/Dessert.   It was another brisk day, so we stopped for coffee first.

e1-cf Learned/Observed:   A hot latte is an inefficient method of warming extremely cold fingers.  Also: don’t take gloves off and expose fingers during a very, very cold ride, no matter how much adjustment your goggles need.

Errand 2Category (2nd):  Bike Shop.  Then we trundled over to a bike shop —  a chain/franchise with “support your LBS” sign. Their stock selection is OK, though jerseys, etc., are mostly in men’s sizes, but, sad to say, something is always just a little off at this particular store.


It is today, too.  They don’t have much selection in women’s biking gloves, so the guy wants me to order the florescent gloves I’m looking for.  He explains that the manufacturer will exchange them if they’re the wrong size (not that his shop will!). Then he tells me three times, too defensively, that he is just trying to save me the trouble of going around to “fifteen different bike shops”.

OT Rant, feel free to skip:  Why does this fellow think I mind going to bike shops? Why is this poor guy so defensive?  Why does he think I want  to order unseen gloves from him when I can do that myself, at home, and deal directly with whomever will exchange them, if necessary?  (Not that I would go that route anyway; gloves really need to be tried on, if they’re going to be satisfactory.  I may not mind going to fifteen different bike shops, but I would mind buying and exchanging fifteen different pair of gloves.)

Learned/Observed: This is not the experience I have at my own LBS, where the guys know and love bikes, and don’t have to be defensive about anything.

Errand 3Category (3rd):  Library.  Moving on, we headed to the library to return various items and to pick up the newly-mandated re-registration sheet.


Learned/Observed:  Re-registering a library card every three years is going to be a pain and seems like a silly bureaucratic expense. Why not just prevent check-outs when media is overdue?  I’m getting cranky; it’s time to move on and find some food.

Errand 4Category (4th):  Not A Grocery Store.  Then we went to a book store to buy magazine to read at lunch.  Dr. Diarist met us there, his schedule not permitting Errandonnee participation.


He ordered coffee (I’d already had mine) and proceeded to exhibit an unfortunately irreverent attitude toward Basil, saying  “I see you brought along a hat rack” and tossing his Tilley on top of my noble Brompton!  He followed this up by stuffing his tablet on top of Basil at a dangerous angle, fully aware that I am appalled by his techie reckless attitude toward his computer equipment.

Sadly, I gasped in horror at both transgressions, which he found most gratifying.  After all these years, you’d think I’d know better than to take the bait, but noooooo.

Learned/Observed:  I’m a slow learner.


Errand 5Category (5th):  Lunch.   Dr. D decides to accompany me and my beleaguered Brompton to lunch.  I eat a piece of pizza bigger than my head.

Learned/Observed:  Eggplant is perfectly edible if unrecognisable; also goat cheese makes anything tasty.  Dr. Diarist goes for chicken and bacon.  We leave fatter, but happy.

Errand 6Category (4th, second use):  Not A Grocery Store.  Onward:  I am  looking for featherweight packing cubes to use in Basil’s T-Bag.  Score!  (I bought then in a citrusy-green, though, since they are more consonant with Basil’s colors and his T bag, and also less likely to look grubby.)  We have a conversation with a multi-bike-owning employee, who has never heard of Bromptons, but is quite taken with Basil.


Learned/Observed:  The clerk at sporting goods store more engaged and interested in discussing bicycles in general than the one at the bike store.  That’s kind of sad — but fun at the sports store!

Rode around a bit just for fun; mileage for this set of errands is going to be unfortunately low.

Errand 7Category (1st, second use):  Cofffee/Dessert.

Then, craving cannoli, I stopped at Italian place, unsurprisingly empty in mid-afternoon.  There are no humans in sight, and no one appears.  Eventually I notice a sign: e1-it

The hallway in question is the full width of a huge building, narrow and dark.  (It’s the passageway to the left, there.)  Decide that this particular place doesn’t want to be bothered.  Decide I don’t either.


We cross the street and enjoy a cannoli elsewhere, which proves highly satisfactory.  I take most of it home; it’s too much to eat all at once, after a pizza lunch.

Learned/Observed:  Cannoli at the non-Italian place was excellent, the atmosphere warm and friendly.  Note to self:  Don’t plan to consume two rarely-eaten, marginally unhealthy, foods on the same day.


Basil and I took a train to an area where we could run these errands:  That’s totally legitimate, according to MG, though, of course, we can’t count train miles as miles cycled.  Multi-modal!  We had never stopped at this station before; this was a great opportunity to check it out.

Total miles:  8.12/30   Total Errands:  7/12   Total Categories:  5/7

Errandonnee Events


So much to catch up on — and I haven’t even yet posted about Basil’s first ride since the end of our cycling hiatus!  That will come shortly, but in the meantime I’ll be writing about a couple of timely events others might be interested in.


First up is MG’s annual Errandonnee, in which participants run errands on their cycles, in the cold, bleak, final (or so we hope) days of winter, and report back.

There are categories!  There are rules! There are challenges!

Check it all out here, and let the errandonneuring begin!

Barring another week of Snomageddeon-like events, Basil and I will be participating.   Curious about this excellent event?  Here’s what Basil and I did last year:

Errandonneuring On A Brompton Bicycle, Part 1

Errandonneuring On A Brompton Bicycle, Part 2

Basil might have been the only Brompton participating in 2013, but according to MG’s note, that’s @MrTinDC on the official Errandonnee image above, on his Brompton.  Will it be a Brompton sweep this year??


Do You Coffeeneur?

MG, of chasing mailboxes d. c., is the creator of a new cycling sport called “Coffeeneuring”.   There are rules — and technically speaking, there are winners — but it’s really just for fun.

This year’s rules accommodate the unusual situation on MG’s home turf, where clowns reign and there’s a consequent government shutdown.  You can read all about them — the rules, not the clowns — here.  The idea is to cycle for coffee, or a different hot  beverage, to seven different coffee shops, over the course of seven weeks. (Two qualifying trips allowed per week.) This is a weekend endeavour, but loopholes exist, for specific circumstances.

This is the third year for Coffeeneuring; Basil and I haven’t done this particular challenge, but MG also devised the spring Errandonnee, in which Basil and I enthusiastically participated last March, and which is recorded here and here.  We rode at night for the first time ever as a result of the Errandonnee; who knows how you’ll be challenged?

* Edited, per MG’s comment, for clarity. It’s not too late to start!

Events Iron Tour

French Creek Iron Tour 2013: Part the Second

(Part One is here.) The toughest inclines on this year’s version  (34 mile/54.7 km) of the Iron Tour seemed to occur before the first rest stop, and though there were climbs after the second stop, there were fewer.  For less-fit riders like me, having the rough stuff up front was a bonus!

Instructions were sprayed on the pavement at several points along the route.  Mr. Diarist, in a bow to my weak navigational skills, had driven the route with me the day before, and we had seen a volunteer stencilling the arrows.

The Iron Tour offers circuits for all levels:  10 mile/6.2 km; 20 mile/12.4 km; the 34 mile/54.7 km that Basil and I did; 50 mile/80.4 km; 64 mile/102.9 km; 75 mile/120.7 km; and 100 mile/160.9 km. The splits were well-marked.  I did have a cue sheet, and the tour offered GPS downloads, but it was very helpful to have these cues along the way.

Basil and I encountered these equestrians, but talked only to one of the riders. According to her, the horse to the left does not like bicycles; this was probably not a favourite day for this particular creature.

This was the second covered bridge of the tour.

This part of Pennsylvania is famous for its covered bridges.  Most of them, like this one, are made entirely, or nearly so, of wood.  They’re prized  for their picturesque contribution to the landscape, and their tourism value, so they are also preserved and maintained.

Basil and I had scaled this hill, and then I looked back; somehow these inclines never look intimidating in review. How could this mild stretch of road offer any challenge at all?

Sometimes I chose to walk the hills because I’d been so sick the day before, and was afraid that I’d burn my personal resources before I finished the tour, but sometimes I walked because it was faster than I could pedal.  We made up the time on the down hills, which, fortunately,  were just as plentiful as the inclines.

This shot is for Mr. Diarist, who is fond of a certain Pennsylvania micro-brewery.  The cyclist in front is wearing a Hop Devil jersey from Victory Brewing Company.  It’s a handsome jersey, and, though not high-vis, high-orange.  Mr. Diarist wears one.  I think the rear cyclist is wearing Victory’s Golden Monkey jersey.  Fine graphics on both.

We were promised two covered bridges on this tour, so this one, the third, was a bonus.  The interiors must be seen in person; they’re not easy to photograph on the fly, particularly as one shouldn’t hang about in a narrow, one-lane bridge.

I took this while riding Basil, and after a thorough check for oncoming travel.  The trusses, and the curve of the side supports, are just marvelous.

The second rest stop, at about 24 miles/38.6 km, was at North Coventry Elementary School.  I took no pictures, probably because so many people wanted to get a look at Basil.  Several  said that they didn’t know that bikes like Bromptons exist, and others were amazed that they’d seen me riding terrain like this on a small-wheeled bicycle.  I had to confess that Basil’s gearing was just fine with the landscape, and that my fitness was the real limitation.

Several people asked me if 34 miles was the longest I’d ridden on Basil. I pointed out that I’d often ridden longer, and had done one 62 mile/99.7 km ride with him — and I mentioned that if I’d continued just fractionally further, I’d have ridden a metric century.

And then — oh awful confession! — I proceeded to lie to several other people I talked to.  Yes, lie.  Inadvertently, but still, it was lying. (I’m horrified, even as I write this.)  I’m going to blame it on oxygen deprivation — all that climbing — but maybe I should just call it was it was:  non compos mentis.  I accidentally shortened “metric century” to “century”  It’s not true, folks!  I have not ridden 100 miles/160.9 km on my Brompton!  I have only ridden a (near) metric century!

The worst of it, of course, is that one doesn’t have to exaggerate what one can do on a Brompton.  I apologize to all concerned, including Basil. He deserves better (though that’s true for the humans involved, too).

The last 10 miles/16 km flew by, in spite of another couple of hills, and another couple of short bouts of walking.  Back at the fairgrounds, we were fed lunch.  I have never been so happy to see greens in my life; also, the hot dog (vegetarian!!) hit the spot, as did that lovely, cool, refreshing watermelon.

I asked to use the top of the caterer’s cooler to take this photo, pointing out that I had a blog, so was mandated to photograph everything I could.  The enterprising fellow asked if I would mention the Yellow Springs Inn, who were responsible for this excellent repast.  Naturally, then,I’ve done just that!

The hall was full of exhausted, hungry cyclists, and cheerful volunteers, who, along with the marshals, helped to make the day go so smoothly.

Basil and I started out a little after 9 AM, and finished just before 1:40 PM.  We had two breaks, probably totalling at least 45 minutes, but we owe what looks like fairly decent travel time — for me — to the fast descents.  (Why don’t road bikers go faster downhill?  Is that a bad idea on skinny tires?  Is it a worse idea than I think it is on a Brompton?  Is there something here I don’t know?  I kept falling back on the inclines, and passing the same people like mad when going down hill, but maybe I shouldn’t have been passing so aggressively?)

Afterwards, my feet were killing me.  My feet never bother me when I cycle; the uphill walking was obviously the problem.  If humans were meant to walk, Andrew Ritchie would never have invented Bromptons.  Clearly, I need to become fit enough to do all my locomotion on two wheels, as Ritchie intended!

Events Iron Tour

French Creek Iron Tour 2013: Part the First

Basil and I returned from a trip out of state just in time to ride in this year’s Iron Tour: 34 miles through northern Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Basil was most surprised to see this sign at the entrance to the grounds.  A level-headed sort, he took it in stride.

This event benefits the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust; cycling through preserved lands is a great way to remind us how much preservation contributes to quality recreation.

We hadn’t ridden far when we saw a casualty.

SAG wagons were in evidence throughout the ride; I saw three, which was pretty impressive.  Registration closed at 18,000 riders; it’s likely these volunteers were busy.

I had vowed in advance to photograph each bridge, but immediately  missed the first one, distracted by attempts to orient to my cue sheet.  I was doing better by the time we got to the first covered bridge.

There were hills.  Many hills. Steep hills.

Basil posed while I rested. I have never walked so many hills in my life.  I was not alone, however.  My Garmin claims that we climbed a total of 1420 feet — quite a bit more than the previous highest tally, which was roughly 850 feet on the  5 Boro Tour last month.

I had been miserable the day before the Iron Tour, with the worst allergies I’d had in decades:  18 hours of sneezing, running nose, eyes itching, coughing, shallow breathing, and watery lungs.  It took forever before my body calmed down enough so that I could sleep.  Because of a long-standing medical problem, I cannot take antihistamines, so there was no option but to ride it out.  Worst of all?  The fear that I wouldn’t make it to the Iron Tour the next day.

When I woke up, though, almost all of the symptoms had abated; however, I’d not slept well, and was very tired, so I probably walked more than I would otherwise have done.  Nonetheless, these inclines were more than I could have handled even in my present top form.

It didn’t matter; the day, and surroundings, were beautiful, cyclists were friendly, and it was a fine event.

Covered bridges weren’t the only ones of interest.

This one had unusual slats, studded with steel.

Particularly after my recent New England trip, I was amused to spot this steeple in the distance.

The event organizers advised us to talk to any horses we encountered.  Apparently most horses don’t have problems with bicycles, but are troubled by the silent approach.

These two, and their companion, were having a rollicking good time, and paid no attention to us at all.

Basil was eager to dally a bit in the tall grass himself, though.

Pennsylvania has its share of stone dwellings.

I’m fond of these, where ever they are found. Though they house humans, they seem quite organic in these bucolic surroundings.

Our trees are not quite as dense, or as majestic, as those I had seen the previous week, but they are pleasing, just the same.

Though it may not be obvious from this shot, everyone worked those inclines!

Basil was tolerant of my human frailties, and posed against a fine Pennsylvania rock while I paused stopped to snap a few pictures.

Every now and then, in this part of the world, one encounters an intersection of stone buildings clustered together at the junction of once-busy thoroughfares.  Usually they are the vestiges of a former community, now re-purposed into private homes, or newer businesses.

There’s a third one here, that I couldn’t manage to get into the shot.  We don’t have a lengthy history here in the USA, of this kid of settlement, but I like knowing that these structures have been around for a century or two.  That’s a long time in North American architectural terms.

Our first rest stop was at the Vincent Baptist Church.  Gatorade, water, and a nice (and fulsome) spread of bite-sized foods were provided, along with grapes, oranges and bananas.  In keeping with the experimenting Mr. Diarist and I have been doing lately, I appreciated this real-food approach.

I had half a banana, along with my own provisions: Nutella on particularly dense home-made “French” bread.

I took a couple of pictures, including one of this Bacchetta — a recumbent I hadn’t seen before:

There were two at this event, but they weren’t together either time I spied them.

Another cyclist was riding his Dahon Zero G (?), with serious tires (this must be the mountain bike version!):

Then it was onward. I laughed when I saw this, but a passing road biker called out and said it was a different kind of hill — compared to the killers we’d already encountered.  This one started just after a right hand turn, and was short, but deadly.

That may be him on the left, he may have ridden up. Everybody else I saw ended up walking.

It looks so benign, doesn’t it?  It wasn’t — and there were more to come!


Event Photos

As a new participant in athletic “events”, I knew little about the ancillary processes that are part of the experience.  On the 5 Boro Tour, I discovered the joys and perils of registering months in advance, picking up packets, and making my way to the appropriate start corral. And I learned about event photos.

I’d only seen a hint of what these were about, on another blog, where the author complained about the high cost of the images, and posted a proof of herself with the photographer’s logo slapped across it.  (Don’t do that; you may not like the price, but it’s called stealing when you use someone else’s work without paying for it.)  The deal is this: for larger events, photography services are supplied.  Your picture is usually snapped at the start  and at the finish, and there may be some shots of you through the course, too.

If the system works correctly, you’ll be identified by your bib number, which the photographer will use to sort your photos out.  A link is sent to each participant, and photos you might spring for are posted, watermarked by the photographer, along with purchase options.  In the case of the 5 Boro (over 32,ooo participants), there were also a vast number of unidentified photos;  about 45,000 the last time I looked.  If you’re compulsive about getting every possible photo you’d like, you could spend years trolling through the unidentified ones.

Here we are at  at the finish line.  It got warmer.  (I’m sad that the humongous bib obscured my lovely green jersey.  Basil looks terrific, though — Bromptons are naturally photogenic.)

Since I was curious about how this all panned out, I watched the pages for a while.  Over the week following the 5 Boro, more and more photos were identified.  In the end, I had a dozen of Basil and me; at that point, the “buy ’em all” download package seemed reasonable.  This was my first big cycling event ever; although I’m unlikely to make buying photos a habit, I’m glad that I have these to immortalize our great New York adventure.

(Tip from someone who has been there:  if a photographer is nearby, do not chug from your water bottle. I wasn’t good at spotting photographers.) (Yes, my oxford cycling shoes and wool socks are dorky when worn with shorts — but they were perfect for this ride.  Dork power, yes!)

It’s worth going over the buying options carefully; they can be structured a bit oddly.  Also, I wouldn’t purchase too early; it’s not clear if you are then entitled to images you may discover after purchase, if you’ve bought when only one or two are available.

(Another tip: to up your chances of finding your own photos, wear high vis; most people don’t.  To improve the odds even more, wear high vis orange — cyclists wearing orange really popped in the thumbnails, and there weren’t many of them.)

Cost?  Well, they aren’t cheap. On the other hand, scattering photographers all over a 40 mile/64.3 km course isn’t done for peanuts, either.  It’s a service, provided at a price.  I’m glad I got to see Basil in action; after all, I’m the one who can’t! Without the commercial service, that wouldn’t have happened.

(Oh, and one last tip:  for a less dishevelled look, knot your bib so that it more less fits.  I’m OK with earned dishevelled — sweat, grit, and messiness go with the territory — but the floppy bib drove me nuts. — and I do like that green, obscured, jersey a lot better than the bib!)


Last Ride Before the 5 Boro Tour

Before heading to New York for the 5 Boro, Basil and I took one more longish ride at home; this one was just 20 miles/32 km.

I tried unsuccessfully to locate the ambitious woodpecker who was dining in these branches. I’ve read that cyclists have more to learn from woodpeckers than you might imagine, as their head anatomy is designed to withstand amazing forces, unlike our own, with or without helmets.

Much of the greenery was still looking a bit woody, but trees were blossoming all over.

Pennsylvania rock is an all-season thing, though.

In the parking lot next to the trail, I met the owner of this brand-new ElliptiGO. She was having some problems with running injuries, and thought it would be a good tool for less-harmful cross-training. She’d picked it up the day before, and this was her first time using it.

When I saw her later on the trail, she was zipping along. I called out, asking how the ride was.  “Harder than running” she yelled.

We spoke to a gent in the parking lot who told us that he’d just bought this house, right next to the trail.  He claimed that he’d  happened to see the real estate agent put up the “for sale” sign, and hours later had made the purchase. I’d noticed earlier that there was a storage pod in the driveway; instead of unpacking, the proud new owner was already on the trail, checking out his new ‘hood.

5 Boro Tour Events

5 Boro Tour: Packet Pick-Up And Bike Expo

Oh, you reckless souls who wondered when I’d ever get around to writing about the 5 Boro — little did you know that, once begun, I’d just write and write and write about it!

In the interest of a complete record, here’s what happened on the Friday before the Tour. This year, Bike New York required that all packets be picked up in person — people who couldn’t do that on the Friday or Saturday before the Tour could prepare affidavits and deputize others to do the pick-up. Fortified with whatever documents were necessary, everyone had to show up at the Bike Expo to collect Tour vests and the identifying adhesive stickers we’d need for the ride.

Getting lost was not an option; cheerful volunteers were all over the place, displaying these lovely red arrows and pointing the way to the newly — what? established? re-named? — “Basketball City” — a cavernous building that looks just like every other cement-floored expo site I’ve seen.

I joined the line ten minutes before the Expo opened on Friday morning; these people (and I) were about two blocks from the entrance.  There was a security checkpoint to enter the Expo — no surprise, after Boston — but things moved along pretty well until we got inside.

At 10 AM the entire space below was packed with impatient people who were sure that they were going to die if they didn’t get their packets immediately.  It was a little weird; nobody seemed nearly as tense while waiting for the actual event to start the following Sunday.  I didn’t take a picture of the irritated masses; the one below was taken about noon.  Procrastination would have been the best plan on Friday morning, if one cared about such things.  Waltzing in at noon would have meant a quick pass through.

In fact, I thought the whole process of checking IDs and delivering the packets went very efficiently.  Various food vendors (Food Should Taste Good, Lara Bars, etc.) handed samples — really generous quantities of samples — to the testy line-dwellers, which probably contributed to public safety, since those who snacked appeared to mellow as they ate.

Once our ID had been checked, we were directed to tables for Blue, Red or Silver registrants.  Our data was on cards in boxes, above which were signs showing a range of registration numbers, so all we had to do was find the correct section for our individual number.  The person who helped me inexplicably tried to locate my card by name, which is a poor approach when everything’s been filed numerically, but a colleague helped her out, and soon I was on my way, toting my rider vest and a sheet of three stickers — wrapped around a can of Red Bull.

In retrospect, that was kind of clever, not just from a branding perspective, but because it made a solid package out of what otherwise would have been a very light, flimsy, and probably hard to sort, packet.  I returned the drink, though, knowing that someone else would be happy to take an extra home.

Then it was on to the Expo. Top marks goes to Timbuktu, San Francisco purveyors of nifty bags, for their ferris-wheel like contraption, crafted of old cycle parts. Timbuktu bags were hanging from the wheels, rotating thanks to human pedal-power.  Cobbling this thing together must have been fun!

Timbuktu’s wasn’t the only stationary cycle at the Expo, though. The Cabot cheese farmers were confusing people like crazy by endlessly blending bananas and yogurt together, using a fleet of electric blenders, and this amusing device:

Yep, it’s a Holstein stationary cycle — and blend-o-matic.  There were plenty of volunteers who were happy to pedal away, blending yet another banana smoothie using human energy instead of electricity.  Every time I passed the booth, I heard people asking what Cabot was doing — probably because, in spite of the amazing production line, no smoothie samples were being offered around.  (Tasty cheese samples were on offer, though.) I finally asked: The Guinness Book of World Records was stopping in, and Cabot was attempting the World’s Largest Smoothie.  Afterwards, they planned to sell off the stuff, in individual cups, and donate the proceeds to charity.

Manhattan’s Bfold, the folding bike dealer (and Brompton seller), was at the Expo, but I didn’t get a picture (probably because they didn’t have Bromptons out front!), and so was the new Red Beard Bikes, from Brooklyn, with a lot of Bromptons, which they were demonstrating enthusiastically.

I had a great conversation with Susan, of Cleverhood, whose products I’ve admired for a long time. Sadly, they are huge on me, but for people of average size or larger, they are a dashing solution to those vexing weather issues.  Susan suggested I use my flash for this shot, in which her classic and sophisticated grey tattersall cape magically turns into a marvelous reflective garment.

Outside, Citibike was offering demo rides, in advance of the imminent roll-out.  I doubt I’ll ever be a customer (but who knows?) so I was delighted to have a chance to see how these bikes handle.  The answer?  They’re not nearly as lumbering as I thought they would be.  The handlebars take some getting used to; I didn’t take a picture, but there’s so much stuff across the top that they feel a little like a cockpit.  The front luggage rack is very sturdy, but also quite small; my city bag is wedged in there — there’s barely enough space for it, even mashing it quite a bit.  Good thing it wasn’t full. The bungies used to hold it in place are so strong that anything without serious structural integrity inside the bag would have been destroyed.  But the ride is easy; the bike doesn’t feel nearly as heavy as it looks.

Naturally there were jerseys, gear, and bikes all over the place, as you’d expect.  Basil is well-outfitted (and so am I, at this point), so I only bought a couple of small things.  One was a visor for my winter helmet — the watermelon Nutcase.  I thought the visor was too small to be of any use, but the Nutcase booth (stocked with brightly-colored peanut M&Ms, by the way, which suited Nutcase’s madcap image perfectly) had one installed on a helmet to try out.  It really did seem to make a difference; I’m looking forward to using it next fall.

I was tickled to learn that Nutcase is a “prize sponsorship partner” for the Brompton World Championship this year — that seems like a natural fit to me!


On the Greenway, Returning from the 5 Boro Tour

After the 5 Boro Tour, and the ferry ride from Staten Island to Manhattan, Basil and I headed homeward, back to where we stay in Washington Heights. We immediately discovered that the first two subway stations we encountered were barred to bicyclists, and guarded by MTA employees.  But the  further we rode, the less I wanted to go underground.

I heard someone mention the Greenway, that wondrous path that now winds most of the way around the island — and it dawned on me that there really wasn’t any reason Basil and I couldn’t just cycle back to Washington Heights.

Anyway, Basil and I just hadn’t had enough cycling! And what a perfect day it was for noodling around on two wheels . . .

There’s a bonus landmark on the West Side Greenway at 125th Street: Fairway Market (“A Market Like No Other” — and is it ever!)  Naturally, we stopped.  (I think Basil was torn between the ignominy of riding in a shopping cart, and being, quite properly, proud of his versatility.)  Navigating Fairway requires a battering ram; a grocery cart is the better weapon than a Brompton-as-trolley where violence may ensue.

We headed directly for the cheese counter. Our WH hosts are quite fond of cheese.  We’d travelled quite lightly for the 5 Boro (no luggage allowed), so, once again, the emergency shopping bag, and those nifty twist ties, came in handy.

Does your grocery have a view like this directly across the street?  I thought not!

The Greenway is behind the trees; the asphalt in front is Riverside Drive, which runs alongside Fairway.

Shortly after our departure from the market, the Greenway terminated unexpectedly.  But, hey, no worries! They’ll have it open again for the winter holidays! (Also, who is Mark, and why is he out?)

We turned around, and discovered that the snarking may have been unwarranted.  The detour was brief, and we were promptly back on the path, revelling in the greenery once again.

Plenty of others were enjoying the day, too.

The Little Red Lighthouse was basking in the sun, and getting a fair amount of attention from visitors, too.

Late last year, when Basil and I rode this way, I was disappointed that I couldn’t cycle up the incline beneath the George Washington Bridge; I wasn’t strong enough, or knowledgeable enough about managing Basil’s gears.  This time, we went up without a glitch. Slowly, it’s true, but up, just the same. This photo doesn’t do the incline justice.  It’s short, but steep.

After the climb, there’s a brief (and shady) respite, and then, around the corner you can’t quite see at the end of the path here,  another steep incline. That rise involves a hairpin turn or two. We’re still walking it.

Here’s a view of the top curve, from above. It’s amusing to watch pedestrians hurtling downward; the path looks far more innocuous than it is.

Back on the road in Washington Heights, we ran into a crew filming a scene from  A Walk Among the Tombstones, a Liam Neeson film. A  production assistant asked me to move along, not having realized that Basil and I had already moved out of the range of the scene they were about to shoot (and that we were headed in the opposite direction).  Her request did successfully curtail any further attempts I might have made at getting a better shot of the scene, though.

We were within blocks of “home” at this point, and rode back. This shot of Basil has already appeared in the post about the 5 Boro Tour; he’s on the 5th floor landing, at the end of our 5 Boro Tour cycling day.  Altogether, we rode over 53 miles on the tour and in other parts of Manhattan.