Leaf Motif

More autumnal shots as the season progresses. Autumn has been particularly picturesque this year, and cycling in New England is a real treat right now.

Fallen chestnuts are everywhere. I noticed how perfectly they match my brown Brooks Flyer saddle, including the colour variations.

As an aside: I like the Brooks Flyer, but for some reason mine is taking a long time to fully break in. I have been riding on it for months, but it is still quite hard and has not done the taking the shape of my butt thing yet. This has no impact on comfort levels during shorter rides, but after longer rides (20 miles+) my butt and tailbone sometimes hurt. I am hoping that it will break in soon and this will stop.

Cycling home through a network of small side streets before reaching my house, I roll through this magnificent carpet of colour. Too bad this only lasts a month before bleak November sets in.


  1. Beautiful! I love the chestnuts on the bike bag :) Great accessory. I've found myself taking lots of leafy pictures, too. Fall is so short in the north, we have to capture as much as we can quickly.

    Now you've got me thinking about gingerbread lattes...

  2. The fall colors suit Marianne nicely!

  3. Are those the sweet edible kind of chestnuts or the really bitter ones?

    They are everywhere in Portland too and we picked them up during our first Fall here, but they turned out super bitter. We really thought they were the normal chestnuts, so we were very disappointed. They do look nice though.

  4. Mumbleboy - I've never found edible chestnuts growing in the US, only in Europe. The ones growing here are horse chestnuts, which are not only inedible but poisonous. See here about how to tell the difference!

  5. Hmm...Looks like I'll have to swap my honey-coloured Brooks saddles for Antique Brown ones. ;-) I love the way yours looks alongside the chestnuts.

    I recall being in the Vosges at this time of year. A little confisiere made marrons glaces from chestnuts the proprietor picked just outside her door. C'est savoreux!

  6. Horse Chestnuts aren't for eating - they're for playing conkers with...

  7. Virtually all barns and a good many houses in the older new world used to be made of chestnut. It's a wood with wonderful properties and the trees grow straight, tall and without branches for tens of feet. Just right for making beams. Now the only place to get such wood is reclaiming it from pre-20th century barns being taken down.

    Early in the 20th century a fungus blight (apparently imported from Asia) hit the American chestnut, killing billions of trees. There are some isolated surviving clumps on the west coast and one in Georgia, but other than that the chestnut is gone from America. New shoots succumb to the blight before they are 10 feet tall.

    A nursery near me is involved in the project to create resistant trees (either through breeding and/or genetic modification) and replanting them, but until such time edible chestnut trees, once a mainstay of America's forests, are virtually extinct in America.

    Anyone interested in such things (or who simply has a reverence for wood) might wish to read Eric Sloane's lovely little book "A Reverence for Wood."

    We used to use conkers a bit different around these parts. We conked each other with them; vicious little guttersnipes that we were.

  8. Have you Proofided your saddle? That is supposed to help with the breaking in process and keep the leather in good condition through the changing seasons.

    What wonderful conkers, as an overgrown British schoolboy all I can think of is how good they would be to play with!

  9. i'm also wondering about the proofide treatment... in my experience it's not sufficient to proofide treat only the top saddle surface. i use a toothbrush to apply a thick layer to the underside of the saddle, making sure to reach into all the nooks and crannies around the frame. i don't buff it off, but leave it to soak in. also, i found that the top surface needs several treatments of proofide over a few weeks to fully work in.

    even then, i too have noticed that new brooks saddles take a while to break in-- longer than a few months of casual riding.

  10. Just a guess on the saddle... but looking at the photo of Marianne vs your other rides, it looks as though the nose of her saddle is tilted a bit lower. Do you find yourself sliding forward? If so, it's possible that your sitbones aren't staying in that one spot enough of the time. This may also happen if your reach to the bars is a bit long.

    My Brooks didn't break in fully until I did a bike tour because most of my trips are so short. But it never hurt me, either.

  11. Lament of a bicyclist:

    I wish I do not, at this moment , have to spend so much time in an aeroplane, arrival hall, a train, or someone's posh car!!

    I'm feeling claustrophobic ...Help! Help!! :-(

    I want to be like you, now ... see the colorful (falling) leaves , breathe in the crisp country air and be on the go on the saddle of my trusty bicycle!!

    But alas ... have to do that which keeps my body and soul together! :-P

  12. Keri: You're right about the Brooks saddles. I think they're really made to be ridden level or with the nose tipped ever-so-slightly upward. In my experience, men tend to prefer that position more than women, which may be one reason why men tend to like Brooks-type saddles more than women do. That said, I ride nothing but Brooks saddles (Professionals on my road bikes and a B-67 on my commuter).

  13. Justine - It's the Special, with copper rivets. The copper shows up much nicer on the darker brown than on the honey colour. Never been to Vosges, but marrons glaces sounds good right about now!

    townmouse - good point : )

    kfg - I'd be interested to read more about that; thank you.

    Frustrated Applicant & somervillain - I've not proofided this saddle yet, because it tends to darken the colour and I really like the colour of it as is. But I think at this point it may be time for the treatment. My other saddle is a B66 and it broke in in 2 weeks, after considerably less riding than I've done on the Flyer.

    Keri - The nose is level, definitely not downpointing. I ride this bike in a leaned over position, so that I am not actually sitting on the saddle as heavily as I do on the upright Pashley, so that may be part of the reason. But I've put in hundreds of miles on it within several month of ownership, so I was hoping that by now it would break in! How long was your tour?

    cyclemaniac - I too spend more time on airplanes and trains than I like, and soon it awaits me again. I understand!

  14. All the colors of Fall just must be beautiful this time of year ... Lucky you! Enjoy your rides which it surely looks like you are.

  15. filigree,

    i don't think the proofide will darken the brown significantly. my experience is that proofide only darkens leather that has become weathered and faded. it doesn't seem to darken leather that is still new, or leather that still has its original color tone.

    also, don't be alarmed if it looks like the leather is darkening as you apply the proofide. it is temporary, and once the proofide is buffed out the color returns!

  16. somervillain - It darkened my new-at-the-time B66 quite a bit, and the colour is returning only very gradually... I will go ahead and proofide the Flyer and will report if any colour changes happen.

  17. if you're concerned about possible darkening, how about just treating the underside? doubtful it would have an affect on the topside, but may help in the break-in process...

  18. Filigree,

    Yes, sounds like, your riding position could be the difference in experience in saddle break-in between the bikes.

    My tour was 7 days, 350 miles. By mid-week the saddle had formed those perfect soft spots under my sitbones. Previously, I hadn't ridden the bike more than 15 miles at a stretch or 30-some miles in a day. I'd had the saddle for about 6 months.

    My LHT is also not an upright bike, so I lean forward on it. I had to tip the saddle quite high to keep my sitbones in the right spot. It looks higher than the saddles on my other road bikes, but it's comfortable.

  19. MORE PROOFID. It should not take months to break in a saddle. Especially with the amount of riding you seem to do.

  20. Flex it with your fingers and pound it with the heel of your hand. Oil or water the underside of the saddle. Eventually it will give and you can teach it your shape.

  21. An update on the saddle: I did a very thorough Proofide treatment (underneath and on top, generous amount of product). I waited a day, then went on a 25 mile ride. The saddle did feel a bit better while cycling, and seems to have broken in ever so slightly more. But it is still not where I need it to be and my tailbone area hurt once again after the ride. Am considering proceeding to a careful application of Neatsfoot oil.


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