Saturday, September 26, 2020

The longer I stay at home, the more I look as if I'm homeless.

Lately, I'm out riding as usual around Miami, but I've left my road bike at home. I'm becoming addicted to my little folding Brompton. It's cute. I can fold it and take it inside places with me. And, did I mention it's really cute?

Sometimes I wear a standard bike kit (padded lycra shorts and a cycling jersey). But I can take long rides on the Brompton without the traditional kit. More and more I'm wearing padded cycling liners under casual comfy clothes. (Which is my preferred outfit when I'm on a Running Away From Home on a Bicycle trip.) 

I try to pack very, very light for touring. My travel clothes are all mix and match, stuff that layers well with a little style. Easy to hand wash and fast drying. And padded bike underwear dries a lot faster than padded lycra bike shorts. Not to mention being much easier to hand wash.

I used to have a separate stash of clothes just for travel. No more. I'm not traveling what with COVID, but the COVID lifestyle has changed my closet. (Be honest. Raise your hand if your wardrobe is different these days, too.) Gone are the high maintenance tops, skinny jeans, and fancy dress shoes. Everything now is comfy. Stylish but practical.

Yep. The longer I'm stuck at home in Miami, the more I look like I'm on a permanent bike tour. (How great is that?)

Saturday, August 29, 2020

The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize. (Clairee, Steel Magnolias)

Screen shopping. Mostly it's recreational, online browsing as it were, looking at things I want but don't need. But with a CLICKfantasy can become reality. (It's practically magic.)

I enjoy looking at accessories for my bikes. Since I have pretty much everything I need, it's generally a safe way to spend some idle time. (Generally.)

One afternoon I found myself looking at the little wheels for my Brompton's rear rack. They come in different colors, styles, and slightly different sizes. 

I looked over at my Brompton. Its little wheels were OK. Functional and sturdy. (How boring.)

Then I saw some wheels with a little flair. Simple design, functional, but with enough detail to be a bit more visually interesting. They echoed the design of the bigger wheels and the chainring. They were a bit larger, too, so they'd roll a bit better. In my mind's eye, I could see those wheels on my little bike, an improvement I'd like. OK, I didn't need them, but they weren't that expensive...


(If you have bicycles you love, you understand.)

Saturday, August 22, 2020

I’m at a place in my life when errands are starting to count as going out. (Anonymous)

A Brompton can be used as a shopping cart. I decided to add a shopping stop to my regular Saturday ride. I wanted to stop at a specialty grocery store about 5 miles from my home.

When I arrived at the store, I half-folded the Brompton. Those four little wheels on the rear carrier rack (called Eazy Wheels) allow the Brompton to roll along as my shopping cart. I can use either the handlebars or the seat to push, pull, and steer my "shopping cart." I like using the seat.

This is fun! At the store, employees and shoppers acted like seeing the Brompton rolling down the aisles in shopping cart mode was totally commonplace. People made comments about my helmet and helmet mirror, but not one comment about the bike! 


Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Joy of a Bicycle Basket

I ordered my Brompton back before COVID appeared. Which is why I ordered a big Brompton bag for touring. I didn't bother with getting a smaller bag. My plans were all about travel. 

One of the great points about a Brompton is the luggage system. There's a luggage carrier block on the frame. Brompton has a large range of bags of all sizes and uses. Each bag has a sturdy piece that clips onto the carrier block. It doesn't move with the handlebars. That means the weight of the bag and its contents doesn't interfere with steering.

My big touring bag (a large Borough roll top bag) is a bit of overkill for errands and short local rides. The smaller basket bag (the Borough basket bag) is a better choice. So I ordered one in July. Times being what they are, I had to order it from London. I definitely like it. Perfect size. It folds. There's outside webbing for hanging stuff. (Like my little hand sanitizer bottle.) There's an inside organizing pocket for wallet, phone, and keys. It has strap handles that make it easy to carry as a should bag off the bike. Definitely better than my little backpack or a string bag, especially in the humid heat of summer in Miami. 

When the basket bag arrived, I clipped it onto the bike for a ride. I couldn't believe I'd gotten along without it. Perfect for quick shopping stops. Perfect for carrying a snack and my little thermos of espresso. 

Proof that happiness can be found in the little things in life.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020


My Brompton has fenders. Getting the fenders was the easiest way to get the rack with wheels. (The wheeled rack with fenders is an option when you order the bike. And I'm all for easy.) The wheeled rack lets you move the bike easily when it's folded. It also becomes a stable bike stand for the partially folded bike. 

It turns out, fenders can be handy. This week I got caught in not one, not two, but three downpours on a single ride. The neighborhood roads I was on quickly turned into shallow lakes. I picked my way around the worst spots, but I had to ride through a lot of water. 

On my other (fenderless) bikes, my kit would have been splattered with road filth. But all the water that got to me was rain coming from above. I was soaking wet when I got home. But that was it. Wet. No filthy stuff all over my legs or back. 

Fenders do look quaint. But maybe, just maybe, I'm going to learn to love them.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Time is the longest distance between two places. (Tennessee Williams)

It's been 5 months since I traveled anywhere. I'm still trying to get used to the idea of being in the same place day after day, week after week.

My original plans for this summer and fall had included some trips with my new Brompton folding bicycle. I had planned to spend a few nights with friends in states up north. Like these friends, I'm in my 70s. The travel plans and the visits have all been moved to next year. The short and simple story is the Brompton and I won't be traveling together for almost a year

Even getting the new bike felt different this year. New bike! What's not to love? But I got anxious, irritable, and depressed every time I tinkered with it. The problem wasn't the differences between the Brompton folding bike and my other bikes. After all this isn't my first folding bike. (It's my third.) 

The Brompton is going to be my utility bike for errands and such in Miami and a travel bike. I just needed a little adjustment time to tamp down my excitement about the travel part and ramp up the fun of the Miami utility bike part.

I made a list of little jobs the Brompton needed. Seemed like a good place to start. The jobs were easy. I cobbled together a seatpost light mount that I liked better than the original. I needed a way to mount my Garmin. I located a spare quarter-turn Garmin mount, and, with a lot of effort and a good deal of colorful language, fitted it on the M handlebar. I made some minor adjustments to the position of the handlebar. Working on the bike got me excited about riding it. So that's what I did.

So, a month after its arrival, I'm giving myself a do-over: I've got a new bike! It folds. I can take it into stores and offices. (No more searching for a safe place to lock my bike. No more worrying whether it will still be there when I come out.) And it's cute. It's been a while since I've had a decidedly cute bike.

What's not to love?

The new Brompton. My third folder. So far, I love everything about it!

Our first folding travel bikes, Bike Fridays.

Our second folding bikes, inexpensive folders, were easy to carry inside the car on trips to the city back when we lived in the boonies.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Satan called. He wants his weather back. (Anonymous)

It's 7:30 AM. Al and I are pedaling down the road. And it's freaking hot.

How hot? To use my favorite Southernism, it's so hot chickens are laying hard-boiled eggs. The ride has barely begun, and I am soaked with sweat.

Half the fun of biking during a heat advisory in South Florida is cataloging the comments from friends. There's the usual squad that expresses fears that you've lost your mind. There's another crew that itemizes the exercise opportunities that can be done indoors or in a pool. Then there's my favorite bunch. They just think it's hysterically funny.

Why are we out there? Well, Al and I keep our lives moving along by trusting in rituals and routines. Rituals are little actions performed almost automatically before an activity. Like checking the tires on your bike before heading out on your ride. Or going through a little gear list (phone, wallet, keys, water, snack). Rituals calm you. Routines are the bigger picture. Like how we ride 4 days a week. Always the same 4 days of the week.

Routines are powerful things, the things that drive both your good and your bad habits. Because of Covid-19, Al and I have lost our group rides with friends and our travel. Those are on hold. There's a very real heartache for that loss. Still, we follow our routines to whatever extent we can because it gets us out on our bikes riding the miles we want to ride.

After our hot, sweaty ride, I'm chatting online with a friend. She's telling me about taking her dog bikepacking with her. I tell her about our ride and how hot it was. "Idiot," she says. "So you had fun, huh?"

"Couldn't be happier if I had good sense," I replied.