Thursday, September 27, 2012

Riding the Saratoga Battlefield (and Downtown Albany and Syracuse)

On the web I found a local cycling club's map for a ride from Congress Park in Saratoga Springs to and around the Saratoga Battlefield. The whole ride was about 75 km and more than I wanted to bite off without really testing the new bike. So I drove to the battlefield and was at the Visitor Center at 9:00 a.m. when they opened. Very friendly people gave me a map and brochure that, not only showed the park, but also briefly described the two major battles that occurred in 1777. Find the brochure here. Here is the link to the park's website.

The vistor center is located on a ridge that looks over most of the park and battlefield.

What a beautiful bicycle! Did I tell you that the owner of my LBS told me that mine was the most beautiful Brompton he had sold. :)

This was part of the American fortifications overlooking the road and the Hudson River. 

Wheels certainly have changed in 240 years.

The ride was about 17 km, but took a while, because I kept stopping to read the information posted along the way. The sun shone. The leaves had just started to turn. There was a light wind, and temperatures of around 60F (15C). The road was paved and smooth with only moderate hills. I didn't need 1st or 6th, but used the all of the others. I had been concerned that shifting the two systems, derailleur and hub gear would be confusing and difficult to learn, but that was silly. I figured it out very quickly and the bicycle is really very forgiving.

It was still early when I finished. On the entire loop I had seen no one else but two cars, one of which was the park service. Calm, peaceful, and relaxed on a British made bicycle. A significant difference to the carnage of the battles: 500 American and 1200 British casualties over the course of 3 weeks.

After an easy fold back in to the boot of my car, I drove down to Albany for a second visit at the LBS. Before the visit, I parked near the shop, and took a fast run down the hill to visit a favorite pub of mine. Stopping for a photo op at the New York State Education Department building. I'm sure I was having more fun than anyone working there. And I know a few working there that would have wished to be where I was going!

The Albany Pump Station is a converted.. pump station.. that years ago fed water to the city out of the Hudson river. Now, fortunately, the city gets its water from other place. I didn't have too much time, so it was a quick pint.

The bicycle nestled nicely next to my stool at the bar. :)

Just as I was getting up to leave, a tour bus showed up and disgorged many gray-haired people wearing name tages and labeling them as part of Jubilee Tours from Abilene, Texas. There were so many that they clogged the hostess stand and the doorway and spilled out on to the front steps. I had to "excuse me" my way through the crowd, caring the bike and dodging the people standing on the walk. Outside, I quickly unfolded to a growing buzz of interest from the Texans. I got on and pulled away and a few (apparently easily impressed folks) applauded. That's the first time this fat old man has been celebrated for just riding a bicycle!

After the visit with at my LBS, I drove back to Syracuse. I had an appointment at the Apple store to sort out a problem with my MacBook Pro, and I had made arrangements to meet family for dinner. Last week, this would have meant that we would drive two cars to get it all done. Instead, I rode the bike to the mall, folded it up, and rolled it through to the Apple store. Dropped the computer off, rolled the bike back through the mall and out. Quick and easy.

For the ride to dinner where I was to meet my others, I was able to use the Creekwalk path that leads from the mall to Syracuse's small restaurant and bar area. Glad I was wearing glasses; the gnats were out in force and provided a small appetizer.

I like how this works! And I was able to put in a lot of miles. Life is good!

The Day Finally Arrives!

As any prospective Brompton buyer can tell you, well, make that any recent prospective Brompton buyer, the wait time from order to arrival is interminable. This is partly because it takes a long time and also because, recently, it has taken substantially more time then the LBS claims. And, to be fair, it's not the LBS' fault. Over the course of this year BBL has increased the wait time for delivery from 12 weeks to ... sometime next year. Thankfully, I was somewhere in the middle.

I ordered my Brompton on May 31, as was told that it would be built in 11 weeks, shipped to the US, and ready for pick up in 12 weeks. I spent the next 12 weeks looking for photos on the web of a Brompton configured like mine, reconsidering the gearing, wondering about modifications, and reading forums and blogs about Bromptons. The week before the 12th week, I emailed my LBS and asked how things looked. They were very sorry, but it would be at least 16 weeks before the bicycle was done. Sigh... 

I waited 4 more weeks. I emailed again and was politely told it would be a little longer. Two weeks later I emailed again and was told that the bicycle was built but that BBL had lost the payment from LBS and would not ship until the payment was in hand. Fortunately my LBS expressed the payment, and we waited a little longer. Last week I got the email. And 20 weeks after order, I went in to pick up my M6R, racing green with black bits, Brooks saddle, luggage block, T-bag, and cover bag. I was so happy to return to my LBS!

I happily paid what remained after my deposit and brought the beauty to my car.

Of course I had come prepared for a ride and took a spin in the local park before folding her up into the trunk of my car. We took a quick trip to Saratoga Springs to meet some friends (one of whom thinks I am a little crazy for buying a bicycle that I carry. Shouldn't that bicycle carry you?) 

Saratoga is a wonderful little town in Upstate New York that hosts a very significate horse racing season for a month once a year. It boasts a number of conference centers and many excellent restaurants and pubs. I hadn't visited for  number of years, so I took the opportunity to take a quick ride through downtown to see how things had changed. The downtown is bicycle friendly with racks located in front of many buildings on Broadway, the main street. There is a lovely park in downtown, Congress Park. I found a brewpub that was new since I had visited last, Druthers. "If I had my Druthers, I'd like to have a beer."

I was surprised to find the bell integrated into the derailleur shifter mechanism. And I was impressed with the range and suitability of the BWR gearing. I had had my doubts, since I had not ridden a 6 speed before buying. I was convinced, but was concerned that I would spend most of my time in 3 and 4 and rarely use 5 and 6. 

While at the LBS, the sales person suggested that I might like a ride at a national park near Saratoga Springs, the Saratoga National Battlefield. I thought I might take a look.