Hauling Couch

July 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Advocacy, Gear, How To, Lifestyle, Outreach 

8ft couch with kickouts.

8ft couch with kickouts.


I took the challenge of moving a couch, by bicycle.

It started with my wife’s desire for a new couch, ours was getting pretty, well, not pretty. It was about 10 years old and it was time. She picked one out this winter and we ended up making room in a corner to store the old one. My friend was having a garage sale across town recently, time to get it out of the house.

I designed a heavy trailer for towing behind the Xtracycle, tested it with something lighter, then, planned the big haul.

The couch was an 8’ overstuffed with kickout recliners on both ends. It wasn’t light. Not as heavy as a sleeper, but close.

I strapped the two hundred plus pound couch to the trailer and got rolling. At that weight, I had to use the granny ring in 3rd and 4th cogs on the flat road.

It was a pretty good slog (sorry, the word slog is the best descriptor I can think of). The sale was 7 miles away.

Made it with no problems, even felt I could encourage the sale by offering to deliver it.

It did sell, I did haul it, though twice as far as I had written on the tag (4 more miles slogged). The buyer was a bit surprised.

Would I do it again? Yup. Maybe not over 5 miles though. I crawled up a few short hills with that thought we all have when we are doing something kinda crazy, but made it.

Why did I do it?

Well, because the bike can…

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Grandma’s pretty tough…

July 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Advocacy, Commuting, Gear, How To, Lifestyle 

TrikeTremp

The classic delta tricycle, AKA ‘Grandma’s Trike’.

In an earlier article, I described having broken my left clavicle. Having a deep desire to ride, I’m on a trike with one arm in a sling.

This is the classic Schwinn single-speed delta style trike, borrowed from a friend of mine. It has a rear drum brake on the drive axle and front cantilevers. The gearing is low. 80 RPM spinning gives about 8 MPH. That is all there is to this machine, just a simple three wheeler.

It needed a good test ride, so I gave it a quick going over with lubrication and adjustments, then loaded with bike gear.

The ride. To the state trail, then through several towns on the trail and back.

The first few miles had me thinking the title of this article. I am a seasoned rider and was wondering what I had taken on. Hulk Hogan would have quite a time pedaling one of these this far.

I found the ride to be pretty jostling compared to the standard bicycle. The rear wheels would hit a bump or hole and the whole bike would launch me from side to side. I am tall so with the seat all the way up, it really amplified the effect.

Riding on the bike trails of Wisconsin (limestone), one wheel in the track and two wheels in the grass or middle. Bumpy ride. Riding the streets was better.

During the ride I did some calculations in my head which equaled to many hours of pedaling and the chant in my head of ‘what have I done?!?’.

Once I found a rhythm though, it wasn’t a bad ride and ended up being very familiar to riding any other bike, just slower.

I even found myself out racing a storm.

You may have done this. If not, keep riding and you will. You’re looking behind you at the approaching ‘wall of rain’, looking ahead saying to yourself, ‘where is this place? It must be right up here.’

Looking back and forth, wall of rain, street address, wall of rain, heart pumping, thoughts of getting absolutely drenched, wall of rain, cranking on the pedals…

Now think of doing that on Grandma’s Trike, one handed…

I did make it by about 30 seconds and it really downpoured.

TrikeSwim

I also went swimming with it (PLEASE don’t do that to a bike. I did a complete overhaul the next day, water was in everything, even the sealed bearings). The trail was flooded and being tired with no desire for the two mile detour, I swam it.

We’ve had a lot of rain and the marsh trail was under water. The water went almost to the top of the 26” tires for about 30 feet. Again, Grandma’s Trike got through, seaweed was lodged and hanging all over it. It made for a fun picture, but a lot of work during the overhaul.

The trip totaled 44 miles starting at 10:30AM. Got home at 6:30PM (4 stops for beer and a lunch).

Sitting bolt upright on a stable platform feels being a passenger along for the ride, like cargo in the basket. The handling is best at slow speeds, a bit more squirrelly when going faster. Sit, pedal, go. A tough go to go far on, not something for long trips, unless you just are not in any kind of hurry. The defining word is: slow.

Conclusion, the single-speed delta trike is a worthy machine. Not really cool or fast, but well maintained, it will keep you rolling, haul lots of stuff and get you there with a bit less stress.

No matter what you think of the Grandma Trike, it’s better than walking…

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Moving a House(hold) on a Bicycle

June 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Advocacy, How To, Lifestyle, Outreach 
Hauling couch

Hauling couch

I watched this video showing someone being moved, from one residence to another…only using bicycles. Think about that. Hauling all your stuff from your house, across town, to another house. Seemed impossible, even watching the video. I still had a hard time believing it worked. They hauled boxes and beds and couches and tables and lazyboy chairs. Everything by bike.

There were a couple big trailers for beds and couches, but otherwise just standard cargo bikes and kid trailers.

I found several other videos from many cities in the US and Canada, same concept.

The most interesting thing, almost no one on a bicycle knew the person they were moving.

A call goes out to the local cyclists (many who did know each other) and they show up. One person commented on how you have to get to these events early to get the big stuff. She was hoping to get the couch!

The standard cost…Lunch and beverages.  

On one move, the owner said it only took only 3 turns to move her. She said it normally would take her all weekend to move herself by car.

Sounds like fun,
I’m in, anyone else?

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Des Moines, Iowa. A Pleasant Suprise

June 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Advocacy, Lifestyle, Outreach 

I recently spent the weekend in Des Moines, IA. I took my mother for a marble convention/show and decided to look into the local bike scene.

I found a well organized group (DMBC) which had put together a community bike shop (very professional looking) with store front, bike stands ect. They were closed when I had time to ride over but I did look in the window and was very impressed with the setup. Carl Voss told me they started in 2008 at a different location, moved to the new location last year and now have 13 workbenches.

They also ran a bike valet during the Saturday Farmers Market (Awesome market!) which runs 26 weeks through the summer. In a corner of a parking garage right on the street the market was on were a couple volunteers (Jacob and Dan) handing claim tickets and parking bikes. I got a chance to chat with Dan for a bit and enjoyed a great bike conversation. They set a record a few weeks ago, 411 bikes, which proves Des Moines is a great place to ride.

Jacob hooked me up with his dad to point me to great places in the downtown area for my evening exploration. Jenifer also gave me several great suggestions for eating and was planning to catch up with us. I checked most of them out and found the downtown to be a fun place to hangout.

The favorite is el Bait Shop. This is the place for the beer connoisseur. If you can’t find a beer you like here, you don’t like beer. Beer News recognized them as most beers on tap at 130+. They have a bike parking lot to die for with 100+ spots and a bike repair station, lots of outdoor patio seating and are supposed to have good food (I regrettably wasn’t hungry having been subjected to the equivalent of Chuck E Cheese).

The city has lots of bicycle infrastructure. Lanes, paths and bridges (one really impressive one!). Riding around was easy, even with one of my wings in a sling. The people were nice and I didn’t feel worried at all cruising around at midnight. The city seems to be working toward a walkable, ridable downtown area.

The downtown on Saturday night was alive with music and many beer gardens. It was a lot of fun.

Sunday morning I found my way to Mullets. Right on the river and bike trails. Yelp said best bloody mary. Ah no… It was a mix and just above standard having rim spice and the ability to add Tabasco from the at the table trays. They do have a selection of good beer on tap, nice atmosphere with upper and lower patio decks and lots of bike parking. The food smelled pretty good (I had to wait having to go somewhere else for brunch).

I would like to thank everyone at DMBC for showing me their city. They are very proud of the cycling culture they are cultivating (sorry, couldn’t resist the Iowa corn joke) and I look forward to my next visit.

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Spot’s Parking Lot

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Guest post by B.C. Brown, La Crosse resident and author of “Spot’s Parking Lot”

I have great admiration for the determined and courageous individuals who make their commutes and other trips by bike in all types of weather (like Mike) and on all types of roads (where legal, at least).

I’m afraid, though, that I fall into more of the fair-weather, sometimes brave, but sometimes cautious-cat category. Some potential trips just make me go “nah.”

They’re usually to sprawled areas, and besides the multilane roads and high speeds at which people are driving, part of what makes them unfriendly and dangerous-feeling to the unmotorized is the overly generous amount of space dedicated to parking. Those seas of asphalt that must be crossed. It’s always nice when establishments offer bicycle parking near the door, but sometimes getting to that door is, well, rather daunting.

If we want places that feel walkable and bikeable to larger numbers of us, we need to reconsider this development pattern.

“Spot’s Parking Lot” is my recently published children’s picture book wherein a terrier does the considering. Donald Shoup, author of The High Cost of Free Parking writes: “Spot’s Parking Lot will not only entertain children but also subtly educate them about cities, economics, and the environment.”

More info and related bits of writing (more for adults) are available at http://www.espressopress.com. The book (softcover, $8.99) is available for purchase locally at the Myrick Hixon EcoPark gift shop.

B.C. (Bridget) Brown, b.c.brown@earthlink.net
(Not to be confused with B.C. Brown the multigenre novelist in Indiana, or Brigit Brown, Wisconsin State Trails Coordinator…)

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