Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

19 October 2014

Light Along The Way

I tend to remember scenes, places and situations by the feelings I associate with them.  Those sensations are very much influenced by the light around them.

Although yesterday’s ride took me through places I’ve cycled many times before, I think it will become a Fall Classic, if you will, in my memory.

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge always does interesting things to the hues of water, sky, sun and clouds:

and to newly-denuded limbs exposed to the wind that stripped them so that they could only open themselves to late-day sunlight trapped in a cloud.

At the end of the day’s fading light, across the water, a boat

follows the setting sun

Is it headed for a fjord of fire?

18 October 2014

Why Did The Fill-In-The-Blank Cross The Road--In My Path?

I’m still thinking about the cat that smacked into my front wheel and caused me to crash.  The bike and I are OK, but I wonder what happened to him/her.

Other cats have crossed my path as I’ve pedaled.  One or both of us get out of the other’s or each other’s way.  At least, that’s how it worked until that unfortunate feline

Dogs are different.  I’ve been chased by a few; others jumped and tugged their leashes.  Some have walked up to me when I’ve stopped, and I rescued one that was wandering around in the middle of an intersection not far from where I worked.  I carried her in one hand while I steered with the other.  She stayed remarkably calm as I pedaled through traffic.  If I didn’t already have two cats—for whom I had to plead with my landlady for permission to move them with me into the house in which I was living—and had a bigger living space, I might have kept that cute little Yorkie—at least, I think that’s what she was.

As for other animals, I think most can be placed in one of two categories:  the ones who do whatever they can to get out of our way and the ones that barrel ahead in a straight line, completely oblivious to any cyclist who might collide with them.

Deer are in that latter category.  Several have bounded across my path; a riding buddy and I came within a tire width (or so it seemed) of splattering ourselves against the side of one that darted across the road at the bottom of a steep hill we descended.  In Bucks County (PA), no less.  You can’t make this stuff up.

I’ve seen moose, ibexes and mountain goats act in the same way:  straight ahead, with blinders on, across the road.  I wonder whether all ungulates behave that way.

Animals that avoid you include cats (most of the time), squirrels, chipmunks, lizards, armadillos and, believe it or not, snakes.  At least, the three snakes that I can recall crossing the path I was riding slithered away. 

Every one of those animals I’ve mentioned has entered upon “my” (Talk about a sense of entitlement!) riding space as I approached. 

In Florida, I’ve ridden paths and roads that rimmed or transversed swamps.  I’ve seen alligators, but none came near the road or path.  Do they avoid those things altogether, or was I just lucky?

Why did the alligator cross the road?  Well, actually, this one didn’t cross:  It was just standing there, on a street in DUMBO as I rode by.  I can’t help but to wonder:  Did it somehow just end up on the street in that position, or did someone leave it there?  

17 October 2014

Another Winner From RuthWorks SF

A few days ago, I wrote about the excellent (and, in my opinion, beautiful) randonneur bag Ely Rodriguez of RuthWorks SF made for me.

I photographed it on Vera, my twin-lateral Miss Mercian mixte.  If you looked at the photos, you probably noticed another bag hanging from the seat rails.  I’m going to tell you about it in today’s post.

As you can probably tell, it’s also Ely’s work.  He made it around the same time he made the Randonneur bag.  So far, I have used that under-seat bag on three of my bikes:  Vera, Arielle (my Mercian Audax) and Helene (my other Miss Mercian).  It was a great complement to all of them.

How can I describe it?  Well, first of all, I’ll mention its capacity.  I don’t have an exact number, in cubic inches or liters.  But I can say with confidence that it’s somewhere between the Gilles Berthoud GB 786 saddle bag and the Carradice Barley: two bags I’ve used.

What that means is that it would probably do you well for a long day ride, or one that could involve changes of clothing or necessitate raingear.  You could also carry iPads and small cameras in it; if I were to carry a single-lens reflex camera with extra lenses and filters, I’d feel more confident with the Randonneur front bag ( or anything similar) with a small rack underneath.

Now, you could use it alone on a ride like the ones I’ve mentioned, or on a brevet or a long summer weekend ride for which you’re packing light. 

Well, perhaps I shouldn’t say “packing light”.  “Low-volume” might be more like it.  The bag is very strong, being solidly constructed of cotton canvas duck and leather.  (Ely can make a vegan version of it, if you prefer.)  And it offers a couple of options for mounting:  through the loops of a saddle like the Brooks B-17, or with a strap around the saddle rails.  Of course, you could use both if you’re carrying a large or heavy load.  Whichever you use, the bag is stabilized by a strap that fastens the bag to your seatpost, stays or rack rails, depending on the size and configuration of your bike. 

I would imagine that you could also install the mounting system Gilles Berthoud uses on its largest saddlebag, or fashion your own version of a decaleur.  Speaking of which:  I would also imagine that it would work as a handlebar bag, although I have not tried it myself.

Having said all of that, I will say that you probably won’t need to go to such lengths:  I simply pulled the long leather strap tight around the body of the bag, and it stayed snug against the saddle rails on all of my bikes, whether the bag was packed to, or far from, its capacity.  

All in all, I can say:  1.) I am happy with this bag for, essentially, the same reasons I’m happy with my other RuthWorks bag and, 2.) This particular bag is a good one to consider if you need something larger than a basic tool pouch/wedge but don’t want to buy a Bagman, rack or other hardware.  And, also like the other RuthWorks bags, it’s something to consider if you like a “retro” look and traditional materials and construction methods, but you want it your way. As I’ve mentioned in my posts about the other bags he’s made for me, Ely offers a variety of options (and even does custom designs) as well as materials and colors.