Sunday, May 19, 2013

Brompton Rack

I use the rear rack on my Brompton all the time, Mostly, though, I use it to roll the bike around a store or through a bus or train station.

I've learned that a light hold on the left grip lets it roll smoothly behind me. To turn to the left, I just pull left slightly. To turn right, I lightly push down on the grip to release the weight off the rear easy wheels, and the bicycle easily moves to the right.

And the other day I used the rack to carry cargo for the first time! I had riden to the local office supply store for printer cartridges, and realized that I also needed ketchup. The printer cartridges fit easily in my seat bag. The extra large bottle of ketchup from Aldi's would not fit.

And it strapped right on to the rack.

I have never regretted getting the racked version of my Brompton. I know it makes the bicycle a little heavier, and it adds so much flexibility. And I have big plans to use the rack for bicycle touring. My intent is to carry a backpack attached to the back of the seat resting on the rack a la Russ and Laura.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gear Review: Avenir Metro 2.0 Seat Bag

Since I first got my Brompton I have been using the touring bag for every trip, whether I needed all that space or not. I tucked my repair tools in one of the side pockets and used the bottle pocket to carry a water bottle. It was my only choice if I wanted to have my tools and pump with me and carry some water. It's about the biggest solution to an everyday need.

I considered other options for the luggage block, and right now, I just can't afford the smaller bags that are available through Brompton. I looked at saddle bags, and some are very slick. The Carradice Zipped Roll and Cape Roll are very nice, but I just wasn't willing yet to spend all that money on something I couldn't see and touch. (Funny... I didn't feel that way about my Brompton!) There's no dealer nearby that sells them. The Brooks saddle bags are totally sexy, but small and very expensive. When I was in Boston, I did see a Banjo Brothers saddle bag, but I wasn't sold on it. I wondered if it was too big.

In the end, I took the cheap way out to figure out what I really wanted. For less than $10 I ordered the Avenir Metro 2.0 Seat Bag. It's advertised as 140 cubic-inches but is in reality about 100 cubic-inches. That's about 1.6 L. It's made of a nylon cloth and is not waterproof or really even water resistent. One zipper opens the bag and two pressure buckles attach it to the Brooks saddle loops. It does have a place where I can move my rear flasher from under my seat to a loop on the back of the bag. There is a sheet of plastic that slips into small pockets on either side of the zipper to keep the bag in a roll shape.

It is certainly nothing fancy, and in it fits my tools and pump, some snacks, my wallet, my keys and a rain shell if it looks threatening. For the price, I'm very pleased.

I'm sure that in the future I would like to get something a little bigger. Perhaps I can buy a S luggage frame and fix up something that fits that costs less than the $250 for another Brompton bag.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Quick Training Ride

May 10, 2013

Did a quick ride today. On a quick training ride like this, I've finally stopped carrying the touring bag, because I've used the Two Fish water bottle cage and am using an inexpensive saddle bag for pump and tools.

217 feet total elevation gain, so this was really pretty flat.

13.85mi Distance
54:16 Duration
15.3mi/h Avg Speed
750 kCal

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Gear Review: Two Fish Quick Cage Water Bottle Holder

While in Boston I stopped at Community Bicycle Supply in the South End, looking for more of the items on my bicycle shop list. I asked about replacement crank bolt covers because I have managed to lose both of mine. The gentleman rummaged around in some boxes and gave me two for no charge. While he was looking, I happened across the Two Fish Quick Cage Water Bottle Holder.

It' s a simple wire cage with a velcro strap and curved polymer elastic mounting block shaped to provide a positive, solid attachment to different sized tubes. I liked that it could mount many places on the Brompton where it wouldn't interfere with the fold and would be easy to remove when I wanted.

Here's some photos of where it might be mounted.

It cost about $16 and I think it's worth it. I can mount a water bottle many places, remove it easily or leave it on, and best of all,  I can ride with a water bottle and not have to carry the big T bag, which was my only option before.

50 Mile (80 km) Ride!

May 3, 2013

I have been working to increase both my biking speed and distance. Today I planned out the longest ride I have ever done. The route follows an oval route  west to Warners, north to Baldwinsville, east to Clay and then Bridgeport, south to Syracuse then home.

I packed about 1.5 L of water, and it wasn't really enough. Warm, sunny and dry weather sucked the moisture out of me. I need to bring another 1L of water and still stop to fill up on these kinds of days. I also only had some fruit and nuts along the way. When I looked at the stats and realized I burned almost 4000 calories, I learned that  I need to be fueling along the way. I'm sure I would have felt stronger.

I severely regretted not stopping at this ice cream stand about half way through.

But I'm riding a really pretty bike!

When I turned east I hit a headwind that kept me at about 10 to 12 miles an hour. Turning south again, out of the wind, boosted my speed up to around 14-16.

The Etrex Venture HC did a great job. I, on the other hand, took a nap when I got home.

Ride Data

50.2mi Distance
3:55 Duration 
12.8mi/h Avg Speed
3849 kCal

climbed 823 feet

Oh, and I hit over 31 mph on a downhill!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Gear Review: Garmin Etrex Venture HC

I know, the Etrex Venture HC is certainly not the newest and sexiest GPS tracker. And I have been thinking for the last few months that I wanted to get a cycling computer. Well, the prices of the wireless ones put me off. I didn't want a wired one because of the fold. The prices of the new GPS bicycle computers totally put me off. I like the new Garmins and love all the features, but just can't swing the price. I have a daughter in college! I'm like a mobil ATM.

The other day I was rummaging through a drawer in my bedroom looking for a cable for the kindle. I found the GPS I had bought over a year ago to use for geocashing. I had used it a few times, thinking I would be able to do more searching without burning down the battery on my iPhone. I found it clumsy and hard to use for geocashing, and it ended up in the drawer.

When I found it, I powered it up and looked at the trip computer page. That page showed nearly everything I wanted for a bicycle computer, and I knew I could modify the page with a couple of dozen choices. All I really needed was a mount for the handlebars.

Found one on Ebay for $15. It arrived in two days.

I had added the cross bar a few months ago to mount my CREE XML head light. I also like it to use to pull the bicycle when in folded position. With some old tube as a spacer, it mounted well, a positive and solid mount.

It's a little bigger than the sexy new ones from Garmin. But mine was free. :)

I have the screen set up to show compass heading, time of day, total moving time, moving average, elevation, odometer, current speed and current milage.

There is a feature to shift to large numbers which shows only the moving time, speed, and odometer. It sits far enough away from me that, with my failing reading vision, I can still read the small numbers easily. I've only had it out a few times to test it, and I'm pleased so far.

I will have to look into seeing if I can download saved tracks that I have ridden to the Garmin website.

This screen shows me half way through a 50 mile ride. :)

Gear Review: Brooks Saddle Cover

While in Boston, I stopped at the Broadway Bicycle School to check to see if they had a new Brompton demo bike and look for a few bits and bobs I might need.

I found the ParkTool chain breaker for my repair kit and found the Brooks saddle cover for my B-17 Special. I spend a lot of time in fall and winter riding when it is wet. I wanted something to protect the saddle from the rain and snow.

The cover comes all rolled up together and bound by a velcro strap.

The cover slides on over the nose of the saddle and fits the nose tightly. There is a pull cord and cord lock that tightens the cover around the rear of the saddle. The fabric is waterproofed, although the gentleman at Broadway Bicycle said that it looses the waterproofing after a while. He uses a plastic bag under the cover to keep it waterproof. I'll have to wait and see. :) The cost was about the same as the Aardvak cover, and I'm a sucker for anything Brooks.

I haven't ridden on it yet. I'll let you know how it works out when I do.

Boston Strong: A Brompton in Boston

I had reason to be at Harvard University last week, and I took advantage of being in a very bikey, very beautiful metropolitan area by packing the Brompton and riding around the area nearly every opportunity I could find.

Cambridge and Boston roads frequently have bike lanes and sharrows, a very pleasant change from Syracuse, New York. The density of cyclists is high enough that cars are calmer and more careful around cyclists.

And the area is beautiful in the spring!

A view across the Charles River toward Cambridge. Look at the beautiful trees in bloom!

The path along the Charles River on the Boston side is wide and busy with cyclists, walkers and runners nearly all day long. It gets more busy during rush hour with the commuters.

I burned with jealousy riding along these beautiful paths.

And along the bike lanes in the South End.

And there was a great cup of coffee and a croissant at Render Coffee in the South End. I felt a little hipster here...

I finally saw my first other Bromptons on the roads around Boston. An Aussie gentleman was walking his black M6L. A woman in Watertown road a lovely M3L in raw laquer. While driving out of the city I saw the third in sand and teal. I know that for those of you who live where Bromptons are more popular, this is not a very big deal. I have owned mine for eight months and these are the first other Bromptons I have seen.

Boston Strong: that phrase flys proudly all around the city. Yes, the city took a serious hit on April 15 when the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon, and Boston is a city that comes back fighting. And those killed and injured had not been forgotten.

This memorial was set up in Copley Square. One cross set up for each for the three bombing victims: Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, and Martin Richard. Just before I took this photo, a woman had lay flowers on each memorial. While I watched, people walked by, stopped, prayed, and wept.

For some reason, this collection of ball caps, some new and others obviously well loved and well worn, left along the edge of the square took my breath away.

Life continued as usual in the city for most. I rode from Copley Square to the public garden to find the Make Way for Ducklings statues.

The joy of children always raises one's spirits. These children called off the duckling's names as they walked down the row.

Here I found the statue to Paul Revere and the Old North Church in the North End. Boston Strong!

And this is the craziest little Italian street food place I have ever found. The Galleria Umberto serves only lunch starting at 11:00 until they get tired or run out. Then they close the doors. And the food is wonderful!

Pizza, rice ball with meatball and peas inside, and a potato croquette. $7.50. $8.50 with a bottle of water. Wow!

Oh yeah, the panzarotti had mozzarella inside. Too much!

I rode through the West End and over the bridge to the MIT campus. While there had been a very strong police presence all day in the city, after I crossed the bridge, a number of police cars came flying by and a team of law enforcement closed down the road. I was waved through after a few moments and found the road along the Charles completely closed down. Speaking to a police officer, I found out that they closed the road for the memorial procession of Sean Collier, the MIT police officer killed by the bombers. All the respect paid him was due and appropriate and pleased me to see. We all must honor those who choose to take up a weapon in protection of their community or country, especially when they pay the ultimate sacrifice.

The sorrow, pointlessness, and courage showed all around still makes me tear up.

This dimmed the sunshine for me a little. I found the Cambridge Brewing Company for a glass of water and to check out their menu. It just occurs to me that I never really stepped foot in the place. I sat in the sun in the courtyard outdoor seating and spoke to a very friendly and nice waitress.

Hops growing in containers. Truly a lovely sight. :)

Here's a great bicycle that made a great couple of days possible. Cambridge Commons is a sweet little park.

I want to go back. Nearly perfect weather, the easy biking, great food, a plethora of bike shops (including one that sells Bromptons!), and the presence of a strong bikey culture makes Boston a great place to visit.