Monday, November 30, 2009

All the Leaves Are Brown

Looks like the foliage season is officially over.

All the leaves are brown (yes, and the sky is grey la-la-la). And while I would not go so far as to say this makes me dream of moving to California, I do find myself curious - for the first time in my life - about what it would be to like to live in that year-round cycling paradise where the Rivendells roam free with the carefree riders upon them wearing nothing but the thinnest layer of soft merino. But these are just idle thoughts really; I need seasons and I love the winter. It's just that this bleh season between the beautiful leaves and the arrival of snow can be a little dreary.

As you can see, Eustacia Vye is doing well, and the gray weather does not bother her too much. She is especially proud of having perfected the act of carrying my satchel in her basket. We have figured out a way to shove it in sideways and diagonally, so that only a corner sticks out. I am hoping that my next laptop (the current one is slowly but surely dying) will be the smaller MacBook Air, which will solve my transportation difficulties altogether.

One thing I keep forgetting to comment on, is cycling in a long coat. All of my cold-season coats are long - with the hem ending either just at the knees or below. I was nervous about cycling in them, but I am glad to report that it's been just fine. My Pashley and vintage Raleigh have skirt-guards, but the Globe I rode in Vienna did not, and even that was problem-free. I think that wool coats are too stiff to fly into the spokes, but I am curious whether other people have had this happen? Also, I find that the heavy wool texture of my coats has excellent non-slip properties, so that I can wear even the silkiest skirts underneath and not worry about sliding on the saddle. So really, give it a try - winter outerwear is great!

17 comments:

  1. I can't believe the difference in size between the basket on your Pashley and the one on my smaller 17.5" frame! Craziness. Mine is pretty but dinky. I've been carrying my laptop on my back in a lightweight messenger bag but it's pretty, not functional, and is not sufficiently waterproof for riding to my office in all weather, particularly as it gets crappier and crappier out. I hate technical looking things, though, and can't bear to get an actual laptop bag.

    I am curious -- did your Pashley come with a strong front rack? Mine most assuredly did not. It's so weak that I would be concerned about using a bigger basket without better support. I'm considering upgrading to a Nitto front rack and using one of the Sackville slicker sacks from Rivendell, but I will miss the basket look.

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  2. It was such mild morning for the trees to be so bare and the skies so gray... I always have more of an issue with the dreary nature of the damnp and cold Spring more than late Fall.

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  3. Fall and winter are my very favorite times to ride, even though in Portland it's mostly just grey and drizzly from October through March (with the occasional bright, clear day in winter).

    A nice wool coat and hat make light of all but the really heavy rain (which only happens a few times per year), and then I just have a poncho I throw on over whatever I'm wearing. I have long coats as well, and even on my old Raleigh, which doesn't have skirt guards, I've never had any problems getting them caught in the wheels.

    For me personally, I'm just so happy it's not summer any longer, that the weather could do just about anything and I would love it :) I'm weird, I know.

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  4. Totally off topic: How long is the strap on your satchel? I have a very similar bag. The strap is quite long and looks elegant, but I'm thinking of having it shortened because it currently rubs against my pockets, but I just can't seem to pick the right length. Any advice?

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  5. I really enjoy cycling in what passes for winter here but I'm not sure how I would cope with snow - I shall follow your winter journeys with interest! I also think that winter weather makes me appreciate spring all the more when it rolls around - that first day when you can head out without a coat is always a landmark. A long way off yet though!
    Eustacia Vye looks beautiful among the leaves and I absolutely *love* your satchel!

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  6. Giffen - The strap is very long (need to measure it), be we "messenger bagged it" by punching extra holes.

    Thanks Jane - I think I will review and compare several satchels in an upcoming post. Some really work on a bicycle, and others do not.

    portlandize - I also prefer to cycle in the Fall compared to the summer; I really can't stand the heat. November is fine overall; we've just been having a really long stretch of bleak rainy days lately.

    Astroluc - Yes, in early March it can feel as if the chill and damp get all the way into the bones! Not to mention the dirty melted snow everywhere. Maybe it's the transitions between seasons that are the worst?

    neighbortease - Yes, the 17.5" frame has a much smaller basket. It can't have the larger one, because the headtube height won't allow for it. You may want to try a basket with the same height as yours, but a wider base, such as one of the Basil wicker baskets? My Pashley did not come with a front rack; just the black basket-holder attachment. I should note that I wrapped that with a thick layer of black electric tape, so that it would not scratch the paint on my top tube. I also secured the basket to it more than it already was with zip-ties. Even when fully loaded, I have found that I don't really need a front rack, and that the basket works fine the way it is; it is very stable.

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  7. California Dreaming that song took me back to a time when I actually did not live here... and I wanted to so very much ;)

    Oh, go enjoy your chilly New England weather! In the meantime I'm pining away to get a chance to wear my tweeds and especially my new (very heavy wool and very long )tartan cape! Please let it be cold enough by Christmas, please!

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  8. neighbortease- How about a custom made basket from David Hembrow? I love my Hembrow basket.

    http://hembrow.eu

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  9. "Basket envy" here too from a 17.5" Pashley owner. Neighbourtease, have you considered rear pannier bags for your laptop bag? Basil makes some pretty funky ones and a very elegant if rather large leather and canvas one that would suit a Pashley perfectly. I'd be nervous about riding with my laptop in a front basket - too many opportunities for it to bounce out!

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  10. I had to shed my long-sleeve shirt yesterday on a short 10-mile ride in favor of the short-sleeve polo I brought along... simply too warm.

    But then we California riders don't get the exquisite autumns (well, they're not half bad, really) or the sense of satisfaction that must come from riding where "year 'round" is actually saying something.

    Besides, your gorgeous bikes were made for Old World weather and wouldn't look right beneath relentless sun.

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  11. what beautiful photos!
    i wear a knee-length wool coat when i ride in colder months, and it has been okay thus far (despite the inevitable death of my old, rusty vintage chain guard).

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  12. Winter, seasons - those are very important to me, too, although the yucky rainy period before the snow is not fun.

    Your leather bag is a classy addition to the basket. One problem I have with a basket-lid is the inability to fit larger bags like yours. I agree with you about wool coats being too heavy to get pulled in spokes. I've never had problems with my winter wool coat that comes just above my knees, although usually I'm riding my Dutch bike with skirt guard.

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  13. I must ask: what kind of leather satchel do you have? Where did you find it? I've been looking for something similar for some time now, but I haven't managed to find one that I can be happy with in terms of looks AND utility.

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  14. p.s. Slighty off-topic question, sorry. Do you plan on buying another Mac? My 5-year-old IBM Thinkpad has been on life-support for years (literally, I cannot unplug it or it dies!) and I'm seriously considering a Mac. I've had so many problems with PCs. Everyone I know with a Mac loves hers, including Trisha. What's your experience - thumbs up or down?

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  15. Carinthia - in the wicker front basket, an interesting thing happens to the satchel: because the satchel is so large, it gets lodged in the wicker weave really well and there is zero bouncing. This is probably not ideal for the basket's longevity, but it is quite secure for the satchel. The suspended wicker also acts as a shock absorber, which you wouldn't get if the satchel were to be strapped to a rack.

    Eliza - The satchel is a Scaramanga Satchel from the UK, the "large, wide" model, with handle (which is an optional add-on). You can see on their website that they have many variations and sizes. These are great quality, durable satchels. Just be aware that they do not have built-in padding for laptops, if that's an important feature for you.

    Dottie - The short answer is that I recommend Mac laptops and would never go back to a PC. I have been using both PCs and Macs since 1996, and have generally preferred Macs yet still saw PCs as being good for some things. However, a few years ago Mac has made further improvements to their system which were quite dramatic, and in my view Macs are now superior to PCs in all ways and without question. The Co-Habitant has been a PC person for almost 20 years, and he too has recently switched to Macs and has not looked back. He has the snazzy MacBook Air, which he loves.

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  16. We're very pro-Mac here, and it will show... :)

    No question for me about the Mac vs. Windows choice for a regular (or casual) computer user who is not already committed to Mac or Windows: the only people who shouldn't be using Macs are those who can't--those who have special software, hardware or other requirements (and thus know about them implicitly from the activities that set these limits).

    I can comment in more detail, but I shall stop here for now and just say that I am very impressed with resent versions of Mac OS for a variety of reasons.

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