Haulin’ Plasma

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Freshly-converted Xtracycle with Doggyride mini trailer

 

 

So I got my old Specialized bike converted to an Xtracycle a few weeks ago. The conversion is taking an existing bike, and then adding what they call the Free Radical to it. It extends the rear of the bike, and lets you carry lots of stuff, including passengers.

It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time. So far I’ve taken the dogs for a ride (above), gone to Costco, Pet Store, Smart and Final, etc. The Xtracycle can handle 350 lbs including rider, so with my current 211 lbs :(, that means I need to keep the cargo at 130 lbs max.

 

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Loaded up with 8 gallons of distilled water and 40 lbs of ktty litter. Approximately 120 lbs dry weight.

The big challenge was hauling my 2004 Pioneer 44″ Plasma TV to the E Waste at Goodwill. It was one of the earlier ones, so it weighs close 100 lbs. .Just getting it on the bike by myself and not having it fall over was a chore in itself.

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To counterbalance, I put the stand, which weighs about 6 pounds on the other side. I stuffed some shirts I was going to donate on that side as well, and set off.

The Goodwill was only two miles away on flat ground, but as soon as I got going I the bike started to shake alarmingly . This is somewhat normal with a longtail bike, but it was exacerbated by so much weight being on  one side. I was carrying less weight than when I brought back all the water and kitty litter, but that weight was distributed much better.

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With careful riding, I managed to keep the shimmy down to a minimum, get to Goodwill. 

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As I was gingerly getting off the bike, I heard a young guy say, “That’s so cool!” and gave me a thumbs-up when I looked over. In any case, I managed to offload the TV without the bike falling over, fill out my paperwork, and head home. The bike felt like a carbon fiber Trek after all that! When I got home, I cracked open a nice frosty KCCO beer (my new favorite) and congratulated myself on a job well done.

Would it have been easier and quicker  to use the car, sure. 

Would it have been a slightly nail-biting adventure, heck no!!!

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plasma tv causing bike to sway alarmingly (which you can’t see, work with me people!)

 

 

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To clip, or not to clip…

Tikit with clipless peddles

I ‘ve been debating some time about clipless vs. platform peddles. I’ve always used platforms, and have just resisted the whole idea of being “locked in.” However, after jumping into randonneuring last September, I noticed that nearly everyone who was into long-distance cycling was using them in one fashion or another.

I do fine on most of my brevets, not remotely fast, but I keep going steadily along. However, I do seem to lag on the hills. Part of this is probably training, but I am gathering that I am missing a significant advantage by not being able to pull up when locked into clipless peddles. Plus, I hear of other advantages too, such as not having to spend energy keeping feet on the peddles, being secure over bumps, not having feet slip off peddles in the rain, etc.

I asked the San Francisco Randonneurs Google Group for their recommendations and advice regarding the whole subject.  The SF Randos are a great group of people, so I was not surprised by huge outpouring of emails. One member, Gintautas, offered to loan me his Shimano SHM021 shoes and SPD 520 clipless peddles.

Gintautas’s Shimano shoes.

I met him at the Montgomery Bart station next to my office, and then went to Huckleberry Bikes to get them installed on my Bike Friday Tikit on the way home. Zach, who did my bike fit a few weeks back had urged me then to at least consider them.  My thought was I would try them on my commuter bike for a couple of days, then put them on my Salsa Casseroll for a longer test on the weekend.

While there, Keven, ace mechanic and service manager,  was kind enough to give me a lesson. It seemed pretty easy, but he did caution me to unclip whenever I came to a stop or light. He said it would eventually become second nature, but be careful and remember to do it, otherwise I might flop over.

Well, it actually came to me pretty easy. I rode through commuter traffic in downtown San Francisco, clipping and un-clipping at lights and stops on the way home. I had no problems at all and felt very smug as I pulled into the Caltrain station and prepared to go to the train to head home.

I pulled in and saw the concession stand and thought to myself, “You deserve a beer! (legal on Caltrain) You did a great job! You are clearly far superior to the rest of the un-coordinated types, who all struggled took a long time to get used to these pedals! Yes, you are awesome! You got it right away!”

So I get close to the beer stand, un-clip my right foot,  lean to  the left to reach for my wallet and…. slowly… topple over,  as my left foot was still clipped in, and I couldn’t remember how to get it loose. I remember thinking, “Oh, f*ck….” , frantically pulling at my left leg, as I fell to the ground in slow motion.

Amazingly accurate photo recreation of my fall.

I hit the ground, felt like an idiot, and hoped nobody saw me, when a couple of very nice people came over and asked me if I was ok. I said, “Thank you! I’m fine! Just a little user error!” One, a kindly senior citizen had a perplexed look on her face, clearly not understanding why I would fall over from a dead stop.

So, I got my beer, now not a self-congratulatory beer, but a consolation beer and headed home on the train.

“Back in Black,” a black IPA from local brew-pub 21st amendment, in hand. Delicious!

Consensus on the peddles?

So far, I like them! I absolutely can feel a  difference when I climb
as well as just trying to crank hard into a headwind. It is a
conscious effort to pull up, when I do I can feel the effect. It
is undeniable, so I don’t understand the view by a minority that it
makes no difference. No question in my mind that they do.

I’m not sure at this point if I want my Tikit to have them all the
time. I use my folding bike for quick trips to the store, and am not
sure that I want to change shoes every time I go for a quick jaunt to the store. But then I worry that I won’t be “used” to them for weekend rides if I don’t use them during the week. Something to consider…

I’ll keep using them for a while for sure. I really haven’t put in nearly enough miles for a full evaluation, but so far, so good!