Archive for Curiosities


When Arianna and I returned to the parking lot after that last ride, I spied these two delightful people, cavorting on their shiny, super-sleek Trikkes:

Ken and Dana are very friendly — and great sports, too, as you can tell from their willingness to pose so that I could capture the essence of them and their Trikkes!  (Or is it that Trikkes just naturally make people joyful?  They have that effect on me . . . )


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Effete Cycling

I’m in New York City quite a bit.  The cultural and life-style differences between that thriving metropolis and my own dwelling place (soccer-mom heaven, or the largely bland mid-Atlantic suburbs, whichever description you prefer) is ever-fascinating.  In terms of cycling, the major difference between what I do, in the hinterlands — 25-mile-plus rides — and city biking — 3 mile commutes — is huge, and replete with interesting implications.  One such consequence finds its perfect incarnation in the bike shop Adeline Adeline.

Adeline Adeline is the antithesis of the gritty neighborhood bike shop of antiquity.  It’s a boutique, really, and has much in common with a chic dress shop, but with bicycles.  For one thing, it’s so full of pretty things that the eye boggles:

This shop is mecca for the chic cyclist movement:  the perfect store for city women who are cycling, as fashionably as possible, in street clothes, to work, to dinner, out for drinks.  The bikes are beautiful, European or vintage-y in flavor, and designed for short runs, or riding where there is little elevation, (i.e., mostly single speed, with a smattering of three-speeds).

This means, of course, that they’re best suited for the lower regions of the island.  Up north can get hilly, if not properly mountainous.  Adeline Adeline addresses other needs, too, though, in the flatter geography, with Bakfeits cargo bikes, and several rather neat solutions for hauling children around, including a Bakfiets with three small child-seats attached front and rear.

Some of the accessories are mind-boggling, like this one, useful if you are taking a bottle of wine to dinner:

The shop is full of gorgeous bags, ranging from tiny tool cases to full panniers, but I’m still baffled at the thought of spending a hundred dollars for an adorable little underseat bag — and then installing it on a bicycle that will be parked on NYC streets.  Have you seen the lock jobs to which cyclists resort in New York?  (Take a look at  this bike, for example whose rider has employed two U-locks and at least one long cable through the frame and helmets.  Massive chains are also commonly deployed in the city in attempts to ensure that a bike stays put.)  I’m guessing that a buckled-on Brooks leather accessory bag has a half-life of just around five minutes on an NYC street.

On the other hand, Adeline Adeline has an excellent selection of bells, many quite reasonably priced, and other, hard-to-find, accessories for a practical cyclist.  I’ve purchased three . . . but more about those in other posts.

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In New York City last month, I spotted this bike under the High Line:

It’s a Tonino Lamborghini Leggenda in brilliant orange. What caught my eye wasn’t the name or the frame, but this:

It’s a second saddle, for the little guy who was tagging along with dad. (You can see that two helmets are locked up in the middle of the bike’s frame). I’m not sure where the boy puts his feet while dad is cycling, but, if you look closely, you’ll see that there’s a plastic tube modded onto the stem as grips for the small hitchhiker.

Dad’s also added a coordinated plastic crate — large and light — for cargo. If you look closely at the top image, you’ll see that he’s also used dense foam to pad the handlebars where the little guy might hit in an accident or during a fast stop. Interesting, thoughtful, mods. Gotta love the matching helmets, too, and the evident overall aesthetic flair.

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New York Trike

Look what I spied on a quiet street in New York (UES, I think):

It’s a predecessor of my Pegasus; a Worksman trike.  And it’s a folder!

The head badge is just a decal, but it seems to have withstood the test of time (or at least use) with no difficulty:

“Worksman Cycles” “Ozone Park, NY” “Since 1898”

The lever for adjusting the handlebar height  is nearly identical to the ones on wonderful little late-1960s folder I own:

This tricycle is a one-speed, of course, but that’s obviously been just fine, for many years.  The basket’s a Wald, and though it’s a bit warped, it’s clearly doing the job, too.  It’s sitting on a very sturdy platform.

I was really annoyed by the presence of these trash bags, but I guess you gotta have trash collection, especially in the city.  Anyway, here’s the trash bag shot, since it shows the shape of the tricycle’s handlebars best:

Love this vehicle!

Worksman is still making tricycles, and  they’re still making a tricycle folder, too, called the Port-O-Trike, though it’s not currently available in this wonderful chrome yellow.  (It is sold in three other fine colors, though.) The Worksman factory is still in Ozone Park, and, interestingly, Worksman still manufactures their cycles in the United States — a claim that few cycle companies can match.

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Family Transport, NYC Style

It’s sad that I can’t take Pegasus to New York.  I’m not crazy enough to ride in traffic in Manhattan, but I would love to spend days cycling around Central Park.  When I’m there, then, I keep my eye out for cycling curiosities, since I’m not riding one myself.   On a recent trip, I spotted this in Chelsea:

There’s an upholstered bench seat, with a harness for the passengers:

And a small compartment behind the seat for parcels:

The rather charming seat pod was custom-made by the folks at HUB on a Worksman tricycle chassis.  The owner pointed out that hauling the weight of the vehicle, along with two kids, was quite a workout, but said that she loves her wheels.  She was beaming, and looked fit as can be.  Obviously, trikes have their place in New York City, too, even if mine won’t be visiting.

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An Unexpected Discovery

The Uwchlan Trail appears to peter out in a subdivision, but if riders continue follow the asphalt path beyond the Pennypacker Country Club, they will encounter a rather Potemkin-looking commercial development, called “Eagleview Town Center”.  It’s pretty grim — rather vacant and uninspired, in spite of liberal use of brick-like building materials, but look what is hiding down the drive:

It’s a little gem of a bookstore!  New books and used; attractive displays, coffee and pastry — and library ladders

beautifully arranged, inviting seating sections

and lots of light

The children’s nook features over-sized cushions on the floor

and this tempting display (the sign says “Please Play With These”:

Oh, and there’s a rare book room, presented with great economy, but perfectly outfitted with two club chairs, and a chess board, set up

It’s like a dream library . . . with refreshments, and all sorts of engaging tidbits scattered here and there.  Why not start at the Struble Trail, pick up the Uwchlan Trail and stop for a spot of refreshment and book shopping before heading back?

The book selection looks excellent; this is not your local chain book store — not by a long shot!  Wellington Square Books is the name (it’s technically in Exton, apparently); there’s lots of content on the website, and they’re apparently open on weekdays until 7 PM, making them an excellent destination for evening rides all through spring and summer.

It’s a beautiful little bookstore, but my second visit wasn’t a good one.  I stopped in mid-way through a recent ride, and asked the only visible employee, a young-ish woman,  if I could get a cup of coffee.  There were only two other customers in the store — a woman and a small child, who were in another section — and the employee had to leave her paperwork to help me.  She seemed distracted, and didn’t welcome me, either when I walked in the door, facing her,  or when I asked about coffee.

She seemed annoyed or confused when I asked for “half-caffe”; another employee materialized, and said something to her, apparently clarifying what I’d said; the employee got the coffee and gave the mug to me.  She’d forgotten that I’d asked for room for milk, though, and it was full nearly to the brim.  More signs of mild irritation when I asked her to pour off some coffee to leave room for milk.  She brought the mug back, and I had to ask for the milk, which is kept under the coffee bar.  More obvious annoyance from the employee.

I said, quite neutrally, “I’m sorry to inconvenience you”, hoping that she’d offer some kind of explanation for her disengagement.  You know, something along the lines of “Oh, I’m sorry.  I’m a little distracted today” with, you know, a mitigating smile.

“You’re not inconveniencing me” she replied, unconvincingly.  Then she walked away, and I had to call her back to ask the price of the coffee so that I could pay her.  No apology, no smile, just complete disinterest.

Five (six, if you count when she had to turn back to let me pay her)  opportunities to interact positively with a customer, and she failed them all.

Ironically, while all of this was going on, another customer entered the store, ordered a coffee, and began discussing, with the other employee, how difficult survival is for independent bookstores.

There are a couple of espresso machines at the coffee bar, but purists who order plain coffee will not be pleased that it comes from a vacuum pump in the back.  In spite of that, I liked the coffee:  it was strong and robust.

However,  I won’t be going back.  Not only did I not feel welcome, I felt entirely in the way.

There’s no good reason to break up a beautiful cycling trip ride with an experience like this.  Too bad; not only do I drink coffee, but I normally read three to four books a week, and I own an extensive personal library, all of which I — you got it — purchased.  Regulars may love this place, but newcomers like me, who hope to become regulars, may find the going less than congenial.  A small business, especially a bookstore, shouldn’t be a club where only the employees feel at home.

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Pedal-Assist, 1899-Style

Bonhams, the British auction house, are set to auction off this very contemporary-looking motorized bike tomorrow.

The “Motor-Wheel” was patented in 1899 by Perks and Birch, then produced on the Singer frame in 1902-1904.  This particular model was restored in 1999.  Beautiful, isn’t it?

That’s a gas tank hanging from the top bar of the Singer bicycle frame:

The bicycle has a fifty-mile range.  Fifty miles, of course, with a gas tank between your legs, but still . . .   Moving the tank to the top bar made it accessible, as Bonhans notes:

The a.i.v., four-stroke engine, its low-tension, oscillating magneto, a spur-gear transmission and a combined carburettor and fuel reservoir giving a fifty-mile range, were, it must be admitted, rather inaccessible – remedied by Singer, who made the wheel single-sided after taking over production of the design in late 1902 – but worked and worked well.

The motor itself is housed in the rear wheel:

Bonhams estimates that the bike will bring between $31,00 to $37,000 USD, and note that of the few models which have survived, most are in museums, but this one, fully restored, is completely functional, just ready and waiting for a new, private, owner, and a spring tour.  It’s (probably) not too late to bid!

Update:  Sold!  For 26,000 pounds, British, equivalent to 43,000 dollars, USA.

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