A Week Folding

As previously reported, circumstances conspired in such as way as to make it more convenient for me to ride my Brompton folding bicycle to work and that's what I've been doing for the last handful of bike commutes. Here are some lessons learned:

1. Don't pack away your chain lube and leave it somewhere where can't access it. I plan to get it this weekend. My chain is noisy. I apologize. 

2. There are mechanisms on the Brompton that serve as excellent repositories for tiny rocks and bigger chunks of road salt and you can use a mechanical pencil to pick these things out and it'll allow your chain to run smoother, but it will ruin your mechanical pencil. You could probably also use other tools, but I MacGyver-ed it because...I hate mechanical pencils? Anyway, it seems like a design flaw in an otherwise well-designed machine. Maybe they don't have tiny rocks in the UK and only have Stonehenge size rocks and the problem never presented it until now. 

Park Tool sells these for $47
3. Plod plod plod plod plod plod plod plod plod up the hill. The bike tends to ask for more effort than the bike I normally use and this extra exertion really just isn't my thing. Hence the slowness. 

4. Biked in the "snow." It was fine. 

5. Today, my front brake got stuck and wouldn't release. I stop, fiddled with it and thought I fixed it, but the fix was temporary and two blocks later, it got stuck again. (It works now. I think the cold might have something to do with it. I don't know.) I ended up walking from around 15th and E to Farragut Square, when I boarded a bus which took me to work. 
Bike, bag, helmet, sad. 

Riding the bus, looking forlorn. *Not a campaign stunt. . 

6. Tonight is the WABA Holiday Party. Which holiday? I don't know. I think maybe Arbor Day, but with a dash of Bastille Day. I figure they'll tell us when we get there. Maybe you'll go? Cause if you're a WABA member, you can and if you're not a WABA member, you can join WABA at the door and then proceed to the WABA Holiday Party where we will celebrate trees or the French Revolution or both. A good time will be had by all, except for maybe loggers and members of the Bourbon family. 

7. Read this in Washington City Paper about the graffitist who stencils those delightful, bikey messages about the various bike lanes in town. Give the illegality of her work, she's remains anonymous, but goes by Bike Artist. But I think that itself is a clue to her identity, because Bike Artist is an anagram for like a billion things, but my favorite is Bar Kitties and that's probably a clue. The artist is actually a group of drunk baby cats. 

I'm going to keep riding this bike throughout winter. So far, it's been all right and in spite of the few mechanical issues, it's proven itself a pretty reliable commuter bike in some fairly crummy weather conditions. The bigger transition issue, I think, has been getting used to riding with a messenger bag rather than panniers. It holds less groceries and I have to condition myself to buy fewer things at the store. The other day, I was able to fit 2 bottles of wine, lentils, 2 onions and a half gallon of milk, but that was about maximum capacity. It's a good thing I don't make milky onion lentil bourguignon for dinner every night. 


  1. Before I moved to New York last year, I'd done nearly all my cycling in the UK, at a rate of around 4,000 miles a year. I can assure you that UK roads have an abundance of rock salt in winter and small stones at many times. Why, there were generally a few at one particular junction in Borough in South London that I used to negotiate regularly and I once nearly crashed on them.

    But I think you already knew this and just wanted to make the joke about Stonehenge, which was funny, so that's fine.

  2. @Invisible Man- You have found me out. I did suspect that the UK had many tiny rocks and they've probably been there ever since St. Patrick drove all of the tiny rocks out of Ireland. As for the salting of the roads, DC's current approach is to dump all of the salt in giant piles, irrespective of the likelihood or severity of any impending weather event. It's absurd. And it has both a corrosive effect on my bike and my morale. I haven't been victim (yet) as any salt-related crashes and I will do my best to continue to avoid them. Nothing like adding in salt to injury.