A Sad Loss

NYCeWheels’ Peter Yuskauskas has confirmed the death of Bert Cebular, owner of the well-known, and famously Brompton-oriented, bike shop on New York City’s Upper East Side.  A memorial service was scheduled for this afternoon.

Peter has invited cyclists to join in a memorial bike ride tomorrow, Saturday, December 14. According to Peter’s email, the group will meet in the courtyard at Carl Shulz Park at 86th and East End Avenue at 11 AM.

Peter asks that everyone bring his or her own bike, or  ask a friend for a loaner, if possible, but email Peter at peter [at] if you need to borrow a bike, and then plan to meet at the shop at 10 AM (1603 York Avenue between 84th and 85th — just a couple of blocks from the park) to pick up a loaner.

I collected my Brompton, Basil, from NYCeWheels a little over a year ago, and have valued my experiences there.  Over that time it was my pleasure to speak with Bert on several occasions, once when he took notice of Basil’s unusual S flap.

Bert ran a fantastically busy and well-stocked shop, and, though often-harried, Bert and his staff always amazed me by their helpful and friendly responses to enquiries of all sorts — and their knowledge of their stock, particularly those wonderful Bromptons.  I hope NYCeWheels continues to flourish as a part of Bert’s legacy.

I’m still on medical hiatus, but if I were able, I’d be on a train early tomorrow, and Basil and I would be riding to say farewell — and thanks — to Bert.  I hope all who can will brave the cold and say farewell to the man who became, through his shop, his fantastic videos, and those marvelous Brompton bike tours, the face of Brompton in New York City.


Brompton Talk

Basil and I encountered Hugo, a Brompton evangelist, on the West Side Greenway in New York City. Hugo’s Brompton bicycle is a sleek white H6L

Hugo was extolling the virtues of the Bromfoot; Bromptons built before 2012 have a folding pedal that is smaller than the non-folding one, which has always been a bit of a bane for riders.

A Bromfoot replaces the smaller pedal, making it larger and easier to grip, and also protecting the frame from scratches. Basil is a 2012 Brompton; beginning with his model year, Brompton supplies a larger folding pedal, and added a “catch” so that the pedal fold doesn’t hit the frame unless it’s folded carelessly.

Hugo said he found out about the Bromfoot when riding in Central Park one day.  Another Brompton rider asked him how he liked his folding pedal; when Hugo made the obvious complaint, the other cyclist hauled a Bromfoot out of a pack, and sold it to Hugo on the spot.  He was Bromfoot’s inventor — and, apparently, a pretty clever marketer, too. Owners of beloved older Bromptons might want to check out the Bromfoot; I notice it now comes in colors, too, for a little added pizazz.

This was my first chance to take a look at the Ortlieb Mini O on a Brompton.  If you’re going for style alone, you probably couldn’t do better than Hugo’s combination:  The black-on-black Mini O looks smashing on that all-white B frame.

Seeing how small the profile is, and how easy it is to access the inside of the bag when it’s mounted convinced me:  I’ve since ordered one — it won’t look as nifty as this one does (no real Basil-compatible colors available), but I’ve had little success at making my own bags truly waterproof.  The Mini O should make it easier (and safer, as far as camera and phone are concerned) to ride in mist or rain.

Apparently Hugo is pretty good at sales, too, because he also convinced me to get my Ergon GP-1 grips, and to install them myself.  Even better, he’d purchased his at a small shop in Washington Heights — one I hadn’t known existed — so I was able to chase them down before going home.  As with the Mini O, seeing them on the bicycle — and being able to check the size —  made all the difference.

Hugo’s were set at a sharper angle than I ended up using for mine, but they are infinitely variable (within ergonomic reason), so it’s easy to customize the angle to any personal preference.

Hugo, on his Brompton, and I, on Basil, headed out in opposite directions on this beautiful day,  Basil and I with a list in hand, and an agenda:  Changes ahead for Basil!


Tunnel and Tracks

Basil and I (and sometimes, Mr. Diarist) occasionally ride past this abandoned passageway, which goes under the train tracks that run from western Pennsylvania to Philadelphia.

Disused now, and neglected, it has provided an opportunity for some to use up a lot of spray paint — and passersby can still cross the tracks beneath them, even if there is no longer an operating station in the immediate vicinity.

This area was once heavily industrialized, and is now near a terminal point for a regional rail line.  The tracks have a double rail here, so that trains can be shunted off the main line and moved elsewhere.

A train can be reversed this way, too, by pulling it off the main track, down a central one, and then re-routing it on the other side so that it can return to its original starting point.

The mechanism is very simple — jut a series of levered joints.

This building has been spruced up a bit, and is now an office, but I suspect from its size and location that it was once a depot.

Down the road, a traditional red caboose has been preserved.  It was once an ice cream shop, but, sadly, isn’t in use any longer, except as scenery.

If I recall correctly, these were little homes on wheels for conductors and porters. Those jobs have changed considerably, and, in any case, anyone working on our surburban rail lines is probably sleeping at home.

An old-time water tower sits behind and above the caboose; there’s not much call for these any more, either.

Nor for this railroad crossing sign, of a sort that once was ubiquitous.

Basil and I frequently travel on trains; I think we’d rather like to travel the country — any country! — in a nicely  kitted-out little red caboose, popping out to cycle and explore along the way.

Ice cream optional — but preferred, of course.