Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ergon Grip Disaster Fixed

Finally a sunny Saturday in Syracuse! Riding to just enjoy the sun and early Spring, I poked around the city taking photos. I'll post some in my next post.

While stopping to talk to some fishermen who had caught a 40 pound carp (where's the photo of that? duh... no photo... ), I parked my Brompton. Then it fell over. One of the fisherman was kind enough to point out that I had lost a piece. Sigh...

When my Brompton fell over, it hit on the bar end of the left hand grip. This cracked the plastic ring on end of the grip on which fastens the bar end of the Ergon grip. On the Ergon grips the bar end tightens down on the plastic ring on the grip and holds the whole assembly in place. This crack meant that the grip needed to be replaced.

Actually, I had been considering removing the Biocork grips to shorten them slightly. When I had installed the grips, I had used the full length. This moved the brake levers and shifters in toward the center of the handelbar. Everything worked, and I was happy. A few months later I shifted the handlebars a little farther away from the saddle. this meant that the brake cable pressed more firmly against the front fork. Because of where I had moved the brake lever, where the cable exits the lever was very close to the fork, causing the cable to kink more than I liked. Since the grips were longer than I needed, I thought I would cut about 3/4 of an inch (2 cm) from the grip to move the brake levers out farther and avoid the kink. So... this ended up being a good time. And I had a second pair of Ergon grips in my basement. I'd been meaning to put them on the S2E-X, but hadn't gotten to it.

These grips are the GP2 grips. The bar end is a little shorter than the GP3 Biocork bar end. The grips are the same length, only made of black rubber/plastic material instead of the Biocork. Here you can see where I cut the 2 cm from the end of the bar. After shortening the grip, I used a two grades of sandpaper to smooth the ends and round over the edge just a little before installing them.

Everything reinstalled and shifted slightly to the outside. I reinstalled the longer bar ends from the GP3 and tucked the shorter GP2 bar ends away, just in case. One of my common hand positions is to reach out farther and hold just the bar ends.

On another note, you can see where I have installed the Brompton cross bar on the M handlebars. This gives me a place to mount the bright CREE XML headlight when I'm cycling at night.

There's a lesson here. Park the bike more carefully or lean it against something more stable! I hate to hear my Brompton fall!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Blog I found...

This is a really fun blog! Perhaps I'm just enjoying the fact that not all of us are 5' 10" and 170 lbs...

That's not it; this is really well written and very clever and droll!

Fat Bloke on a Folding Bike

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New Syracuse Cycling Infrastructure!

The few of you who read this blog have heard me whine about the lack of bicycle infrastructure in Syracuse. While riding yesterday, I found the road construction that had torn up some of the east side of the city for almost a year included about 9 blocks of cycle paths.

This is the first path I've seen in the city painted to show it's a cycle path.

Then three blocks later we get to this. What if I'm riding my bicycle straight instead of turning right? Well, the cycle lane only turns.

What a truly lovely sight. This separated designated lane runs up the hill for 5 blocks directly to Syracuse University.  Unfortunately, the only other cyclist I could see rode in the street instead of using the pretty green cycle path. And it's only useful if one rides toward the University or away from the University.

And it's a start!

I did find another section of bike lake farther on near LeMoyne College. This was not as well marked, and after about a km I found this.

Rather hard to tell that there is a lane. Good thing they put up that sign!

I am very pleased to find even this little bit of cycling infrastructure!

Scouting out an S24O

March 36, 2013

Like Fernando from The Dirty Brompton, I'm starting to get the gear together for bicycle touring. I have been an avid reader of Russ and Laura's blog about extended bicycle touring because it combines two loves for me: bicycling and camping.

Today I took a ride to a state park on the other side of the city to get a measure of what it would mean to ride across the city. This morning was supposed to be a little cloudy and cool, 33F or 1C, but in the afternoon snow and rain were forecasted. I pushed off at around 8:45 a.m. and found that, yes it's cool, and no, it's not a little cloudy.

The sun tried to push through the clouds.

Then it started snowing more seriously. Seriously enough that I had to get out the waterproof kit. It rained and snowed on and off for most of the way to the park.

Most of the riding involved suburban and urban riding into then through then out of Downtown Syracuse. I have not riden from where I live on the west side of Syracuse to the east side in 6 months or so. There have been a few changes, positive changes! I'll show these in another blog post. I rode on roads the first 10 miles or so and traffic was not as busy as it could have been. Careful city riding makes it possible.

On the east edge of the city, the Old Erie Canal Trail picks back up. This trail runs along the Old Erie canal and right next to the entrance of the state park, about 6 miles farther on.

Again, I'm out riding a little too early in the season. The trail is crushed limestone and very wet and soft. I rode about a mile on the trail and got off, going back to the roads. Unfortunately, the roads are not as direct as the trail, so I had to ride farther.

The waling path around the lakes had been tended, removing the snow. I could see were people come to walk dogs and enjoy the scenery, but it's really too early at the park.

After a relatively easy ride to the park, given the weather, so I think an S24O to Green Lakes State park as  a first swing at bicycle touring is a great plan. Next, a 45 mile ride to Verona Beach State park, and then a ride around Lake Ontario. :)

Given the soft, wet Old Erie Canal Trail, I made a decision to ride a different way back. Turing right on 290 took me through Manlius Center and then along some nice wide but busy roads to East Syracuse and then back into the City in Eastwood. I only had one unpleasant interaction with traffic. I had taken the lane to make a left hand turn and signaled to the person in the van waiting at the stop sign. It was my right of way, and as I'm rolling into the turn, he pulled out right in front of me. Fast application of the  brakes! I really wanted my car horn... I shouted, and asked, "what are you doing!" He drove away, unconcerned.

As I arrived back home, the sun came out. Turned out to be a lovely afternoon, cloudless blue sky. Syracuse weather is crazy.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Another Snowy Ride!

March 15, 2013

Today I had the opportunity to meet a friend of mine in Utica as he started his Spring break from the college where he teaches. I had made arrangements to get a ride back from Utica to Syracuse the next day, so I rode to the train station, trained to Utica, and rode to my friend's house.

This trip started out overcast and cool, like most of my Winter rides have been.

Most of the snow had finally melted, so I didn't think this would be as messy a ride as I had taken recently.

Here's the Brompton all packed up on the train platform.... and the train was 30 minutes late. Had it not been for the damp cold, this would have been okay. And had it not been that snow was starting to fall again.

A view of from the platform to the station. This is also the regional bus station as well.

After an hour trip to Utica, during which I sat next to and shared entertaining conversation with a very nice author of young adult literature, I climbed off the train and unfolded. Now the snow had changed to big wet flakes.

I stopped under an overpass to put on warm gloves. I considered gearing up with my rainlegs, but I decided that I only had another 2 miles. I soldiered on.

After I arrived, I wished I had dressed in full kit. I was more than a little damp.

On the bright side, my English PHD friend is a home brewer, as you can see from the lauder tun next to my Brompton. So I warmed up with a lovely fresh brown ale from the keg-o-rator!

Lovely Afternoon

March 12, 2013

My lovely sister, about whom I wrote in my last post, has been visiting my mother. We met for a early lunch date and a short Brompton ride.

She, of course, had seen more Bromptons than I have, living in Belgium, but she had not ever ridden one. Having two, we parked outside of the city and rode along the Creek Walk path to lunch. The weather had been threatening rain all morning, and just as soon as we pushed off, it started to sprinkle. New York weather mimicking a Belgian winter.

After a short ride, we found the pub where we would have lunch. They had kindly (and unintentionally) kept a table free for us!

We neatly tucked the Bromptons behind the table...

and I tried to no avail to find a pint of beer that could compare with those my sister usually gets in Belgium. All of the American Belgian styles were gone on the day we visited. We did find a great cheese and charcuterie plate and friendly people with whom to talk.

The rain started in earnest while we sat there, so we spent a great couple of hours talking and laughing. On our ride back to the car, my sister pointed out how useful it would be for her to have a Brompton. She rides the train 20 minutes then takes a bus another 30 minutes to her work. She thought that if she had a nice folding bicycle, she could get off the train a stop or two sooner and ride the last 20 minutes to work, saving herself time and getting in some exercise. And, she said, if it rained on either end and she didn't want to ride, she could just take her bicycle on the bus anyway. I wisely nodded my head in agreement. I'll let her think it's all her own idea.

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Brompton Story?

My sister lives in Belgium in a lovely little village about 45 minutes by train from Brussels. She has lived outside the US for almost 30 years and, thus, has a very different perspective about public transportation and bicycling... and food... and beer. She speaks French, Dutch, and German, as well as English, like a true Belgian.

I visited her and my nephew last January for two weeks. During that time I visited Brussels, Leuven, Louvain le Neuve, Antwerp, and London. I used public transportation nearly exclusively (except for the time I missed the train in Brussels and so missed the last train to the village). I was astounded at the number of bicyclists riding in the cool, rainy Belgian winter weather. And even more astounded at the thousands of bicycles I saw parked in and near the train stations. One of the reasons I have a Brompton, well, two Bromptons, is watching the cool Brompton owners rolling their folded bikes along the train platforms and then standing waiting the 5 minutes for the next train. I road shank's pony. Everyone else road a very cool bike.

When I returned to the US, I had been encouraged to ride more, and I did. And the old Trek 700 Singletrack I had bought at a consignment shop for $16.00, converted to a commuter bike, and didn't really maintain, just was no longer up to the task. Broke some spokes, gear shift levels would no longer adjust, rust!, bottom bracket was grinding, front derailleur needed replacing... I decided it was time for a new bicycle. I lusted after the Breezer Uptown 8 with the Nexus 8 speed rear hub, but remembered those lovely little Bromptons. It's all about the fold!

In the US things are just father apart than in Europe. My sister can hit the commuter train with a rock from her front steps. I have a 5.25 mile ride to the train station. Trains run every 30 minutes all day past her house. There are four trains each day along the east-west corridor between Buffalo and Albany, and no trains run north-south in this part of the state. There's not even buses that run north-south in this part of the state... wait, that's not true... there's one bus a day. You can't get to the Syracuse Airport on public transportation except by taxi. I know, because I made a point of using public transportation to get from my home to the airport, and I walked the last 2 miles on very busy roads with no sidewalks. In my part of the US there is no problem with public transportation having too many people try to use it. It just doesn't go where I want to go most of the time. Yet, I can use public transportation to connect the distant places I want to get to if I can fill in the large gaps at the beginning and the end. I'm not talking about a 2-4 km ride like I hear people discuss in the forums and blogs. I need to fill in 10 to 15 km or more. And the Brompton works like a charm.

And I can fit two plus luggage in the boot of my car, providing for a great opportunity to ride someplace new like Long Beach Island. Many of my friends and relatives have thought I was a little crazy for spending so much on these little bicycles. I have been nothing but pleased!

St. Patrick's Parade

March 9, 2013

I know, March 9th is not St. Patrick's day. Except in Syracuse, New York!

I only have a couple of quick shots for the parade. Really, I had forgotten the parade was taking place. I  got a text from my son telling me that he was downtown with his lady friend. The weather was actually pretty nice, so I took the Brompton for a spin that did not include snow and slush for once.

I know; it's not a very interesting photograph. I'm not the artist that many others are and I'm just using my iPhone.

This young gentleman was kind enough to pause so I could get his photo in front of the Niagara Mohawk - National Grid building. Another time I'll have to get a good photo of the architecture of this building, very Art Deco.

My son was kind enough to have a pint of IPA waiting for me. We stood around and watched the parade and the people for about an hour, and he and the lady friend met some others. I road down to my favorite downtown pub to see the action.

And I am so lame for not getting a photo of the two block bar and pub area of Syracuse with the entire street and sidewalks mobbed with St. Patrick's day celebrators.

One story: While I was unfolding on the street to meet my daughter (who needed some cash, can you believe it?), a gentleman asked me about my Brompton. I briefly told him about some of the features, and then he asked if he could ride it. Well... firstly, the street was too full of people to ride anywhere and secondly, he was pretty deep in his cups. I gently declined his offer. He persisted and offered to show me his badge as an FBI officer to prove his trustworthiness. I gently declined again, pointing out that he was in his cups, and he asked again. I finished unfolding the bike and putting my helmet on, looked at him, and told him that he could ride my Brompton if I could spent the night with his partner. At this point he lost interest and went back to drinking.

Does everyone get asked to let strangers ride your Brompton? I do offer to let people ride it, but strangers? This bicycle is really just too precious!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Weather Changes!

March 9, 2013

Finally the heavens opened and displayed the bright shinning warm object that has been gone from us for nearly beyond memory!

And my work was to, first, clean up the very dirty Brompton.

I truly love my Park workstand. Santa was kind to me at Christmas, and I have certainly never kept a bicycle's chain as clean as I do now.

The second job was to go for another bicycle ride :)

I've been reading the Brompton blog written by My Orange Brompton. I have to tell you just how jealous I am that he has all these other Brompton riders with which to plan and take rides. I believe I'm the only Brompton owner in my city. I have seen only a few other foldies. And the cycle crowd is nearly entirely made up of the lycra crowd.

Perhaps I'm just ahead of my time?


Multi-modal to Albany Again

March 7, 2013

This trip turned out differently than I had expected...

I had some business in Albany, so thought I would ride to the train station, catching the train for my trip. Train was 45 minutes late. Public transportation in the US is not known for keeping to schedule. 

Brompton tucks in with the other luggage.

While I rode to the train station under the threat of snow, it held off. 3.5 hours later upon disembarking at the Schenectady train station snow had started to sift down lightly. I put on my rainlegs, expecting things to get worse.

And worse things did get, over the course of the 11 miles between the train station and the hotel the snow went from a few flurries to heavy wet snow that put nearly 2 inches (4 cm) on the roads. I stayed amazingly dry because of my jacket and rain legs, but the snow and slush made the Brompton a sloppy mess.

I will certainly do the ride again when I need to be in Albany. Maybe not in the sloppy snow, if I can help it!

Planet Bike Blinky Superflash and CREE XML Headlight

When I bought my Brompton, I purchased the battery light set. There was no way I could have afforded the dynamo lights at that time. And I have found the basic light kit... basic. The rear light that fits under the rack has a great look and has been solid for me to this point. But it is mounted low and only has a steady light.

So I bought a Planet Bike Blinky Superflash.

The light has three ways to attach. The bracket can be attached to the seat post, to a stay on the rear triangle or clipped to a bag or jacket. I attached under the seat in the space between my extension seat post raised to my proper seat hight when the lower section is all the way extended. This mounts it high and makes it easy to see from the rear.

The light has two settings: blinking where the larger LED blinks alternating with the two smaller LEDs below and steady on. I use it as a blinking light.

The front Brompton light does not have enough brightness to be used as a light to see by. As a blinking front light, it shows up enough for oncoming traffic to see and that's really all, so I bought a 1200 Lumen CREE XML T6 Bulb LED through Amazon.

The light attaches to a lithium ion battery pack that recharges off the mains. Seating the light at the bottom of the U of my handlebars didn't really work because of interference with the cables. I have ended up installing a crossbar and installing it there when I need it. This light is BRIGHT. The downside is the weight of the battery.

The light has four settings: 3 brightness settings and a flashing setting. This photo shows the bright setting. See the snow? :) The signs that are lit up are over 100 meters away.

This system works for me. I don't ride very often after dark. Sometimes I get caught when I stop at the pub... so this really lights up the path!

Brompton Winter Riding

The winter refuses to end!

While I have been very bad at updating this blog, I have still ridden when the weather has cooperated and sometimes when the weather has not! I don't mean to be a whiner, and still...

So here's some photos of winter in Syracuse taken January 12, 2013.

This is the path I frequently ride along the lake. about 5 miles along it joins up with a much larger path that through a park. Unfortunately, this part of the path is not maintained during the winter. What you see is the snow that has partially melted after being packed down by snowmobiles. This is impossible to ride through and means there is walking and pushing involved.

The winter storms have brought down a tree onto the path, although this part was a little more rideable, because the thaw had cleared off more of the paved surface.

The main part of the path runs through the park and is plowed clear of snow for use year round by cyclists, runners, and rollerbladers. The local governments are working to complete the path so it circles the lake. I hope when they do that the path on the other side of the will be cleared in the winter. There are so few places to ride in Syracuse that are not on roads shared with cars. It would be great to have this path around the lake!

Cycle life under the gray dome. I don't mind the cold so much; gear can deal with the temperature. It's the ice and snow that is messy and sloppy. This part of town is clearer. I had hoped that the snow would be done. Hopes were dashed!