Saturday, December 12, 2009

Above the fold

I had a nice ride today. The sun was shining and I was happy to see a fair amount of bikes out and about in spite of the cold. Stoplight conversation with other cyclists is a rare pleasantry come mid-December, so a brief chat in West Hartford brightened my mood even more. I rode Route 4 west past the reservoir to Route 10 south into Plainville. This is a good route to ride, especially if you stray from Farmington Ave. and take Talcott Notch Road to bypass the less scenic part of Route 4 where traffic bottlenecks coming off of I-84. This detour, while hilly, is a great way to go to the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival in the summertime without choking on exhaust fumes. This is also an especially fine way to meander into Collinsville, if you hang a right off Route 10 after you pass Miss Porter's School. As nice as all of those diversions could be, I took the more prosaic and direct 4-10 line, as I was on a recovery mission.

I had to pick up my scooter at the scooter shop in Plainville. El Prez was kind enough to loan me his Xooter Swift for this purpose. This particular Swift has been personalized quite a bit. It has seen some handlebar swaps, custom fit modifications, field improvisations and so-called Yankee ingenuity (or Met ingenuity, as I believe El Prez's sympathies are with New York's N.L. franchise [which is as it should be]). Aside from the uncomfortable-to-me seat, which is one of the most subjective pieces of any bike, I was impressed. El Prez has been hammering on this thing for some time now, and it has proved quite sturdy through daily use and at least one Eel race. I feel like I've seen it everywhere for years, but this is the first time I ever actually rode it.

I loaded the front rack with my motorcycle helmet and my ginormous cargo bag (folded and nearly empty at first) and brought some extra clothes. It made for less-than-optimal weight distribution, but the bike rode just fine (it was nigh-impossible to lean it upright on anything, though). With my combined schlepping I put about 20 miles on the bike, which easily quintupled my lifetime total miles ridden on folding bicycles. I liked it. I have been wanting a folding bike for a while and have been thinking more about them lately. Between the approaching holidays and some potential educational pursuits, I will be spending some time in the New York City metro area and possibly visiting Boston at some point. I'd prefer to make these trips without driving, and folding bikes are the best bet for toting along on a bus or a train without a hassle. Today's little trip has reinforced my folding bike aspirations.

At my destination in Plainville, I set about readying for the return trip to Hartford. With the front wheel removed, the folded Xooter fit most of the way into the cargo bag, at least enough for the straps to fasten. I hoisted it clumsily into place and plied it with tie-down straps until it seemed unlikely to budge. I slung my crappy freebie messenger bag over the protruding bits of Swift frame and garnished this increasingly ridiculous-looking assemblage with a stretch-net.

I had to sit awkwardly close to the front of the seat to accommodate the ungainly bundle, but other than that, the return trip went well. I have seen the folding-bike light, so you haven't heard the last of me going on about them. I have a potential folding bike project in the works. More on that soon.


Kerri said...

That final picture depicts a deplorable and unnatural act banned in 45 states. Since when do we promote interspecies relations?

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a similar "promotion" by my friend Dave, who is a participant in the CritMass Hartford rides. He came out to Cape Cod one October to visit us at a rented house, riding his Goldwing, a large, heavy touring motorcycle. Strapped to the back of the Goldwing was his mountain bike, sticking out a couple feet on each side. The bunch of us promptly bicycled the Cape Cod Rail Trail, 40 degrees, pouring rain. The stuff memories are made of. Brrrrrr!


Anonymous said...

Oh, you should get a Montague folding bike, they're awesome. They fold down to fit in a carrying case, but they unfold to be full-size for riding. It'd be perfect for NYC and Boston...