Some days, it just happens to be your day. Every thing is going smoothly, and things effortlessly fall into place. Today was that day. After randomly searching Craigslist for bikes, which I have not done in a while, I stumbled onto a bike posting that got my attention. After a few emails, I ended the day with this:
This is a first generation Kona Ute cargo bike. You might be thinking, “Didn’t you just sell an Xtracycle cargo bike kit this year?” Yes. I moved the Xtracycle, and regretted it after it was gone. That thought, paired with the idea of a different cargo bike to haul the kiddos around, ended up with this strange twist of fate of finding this bike at complete random. Timing is everything right?
This bike is from 2008 I believe, and it has the newer style Ute cargo bags that are super large, and very heavy duty. Drivetrain is set up as a 2×8, which is surprisingly low geared. After a little tweaking this afternoon, and a small ride around the neighborhood, this bike is going to be in the stable for some time. Or at least a year or so…
Just keep spinning…
This past year I have really gotten into photography, and it didn’t hurt that I bought a new camera either. Here are my favorite shots from this past year or so. Some of these I have posted here before, some on Flickr, some not at all. These are just my favorites that I have taken this year. Keep in mind while viewing, I still have lots to learn about photography. I hope to keep learning and improve. Enjoy!
First ride on the Xtracycle.
Upper Falls at Hocking Hills state park.
Hocking Hills state park.
Lower Falls at Hocking Hills state park.
Rim Trail at Conckle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve.
Inside Conckle’s Hollow.
Waiting for Disney’s Electric Parade.
Sunset at Mohican State Park.
My daughter on her tricycle.
Cali moving the ball with her mind.
Big Red on a night ride.
Eagle statue at Eden Park.
Valley View Nature Preserve.
On the trail.
Sycamores and blue skies.
T500 avoiding the rain.
Troll ready to be blasted.
I should point out that there are three different cameras in use for these pictures. This year I used my old Olympus FE-20, an HTC Evo phone, and my Sony Nex-3. I am really loving the Sony, and in my relative newness to photography, it is funny to me that I have already found it’s limits. Granted, it was a HUGE upgrade from the Olympus, but I am already thinking of another camera in the near future. Just like bikes, the proper number of cameras in N+1. If you have any comments, or helpful tips, please leave them in the comments section below!
Just keep spinning…
Just finished boxing up the Xtracycle Freeradical for it’s long journey to Minnesota. Shipping this piece off it bittersweet. I really enjoyed the cargo option, it was very useful. But it was not as versatile as I needed it to be. Hence the sale. So, the end for the X, but the beginning for the Troll. The X’s departure will keep the Troll ball rolling. After dropping off the X at the post office, I will be heading over to my local shop to have them install my headset to further along this process.
So goodbye Xtracycle, you were fun. But your replacement is going to be even better…
Just keep spinning…
So now that I have finally secured the funds to start my new bike build, I am unfortunately at another crossroads. This time, I am still leaning towards the Troll, but also leaning towards a full fledged fat bike. I seem to go back and forth with this, over and over, and waiting is not helping me one bit. So, for this installment, here is the next round of my bike comparisons.
As for why I am leaning towards a fat bike, it all started with this:
Gary Fisher Rig SS
This was my first taste of the big wheels. Only ridden around 100 miles, in a haste I dismantled it and sold it off, only to buy another single speed to then sell off, etc. I regretted it after the fact, but hind sight is 20/20 right? Anyway, after riding this bike, I really wanted to try out a full on fat bike. So recently, in my planning stages for the new bike, I found a used Surly Puglsey on the local Craigslist that got my mind rolling on the big wheels again. Unfortunately I was not as quick as I should have been with it, and it sold. So that leads up to the comparison.
We will start with this:
This is the current model that I am leaning towards. I will not go into details, since I have talked about this frame numerous times, like here and here. The frame is very versatile, and I feel like it would be a great fit for my riding style, and also the type of riding that I have been doing. Also, it would give me a bike that is ready for the woods, which is what the Xtracycle was lacking, thus it’s departure. Two things make me not want to go this route though:
First, there is newer model coming out later this year. From what I have read on a cycling forum, it will be in the fall. The newer model adds bottle/cage mounts on the fork, and another bottle mount on the underside of the downtube. I would like those options, but I am not sure that I can wait until then. Patience is a virtue that I do not possess. This is not a deal breaker for me though.
Second, the Troll fits big tires. I plan on using the 26×2.6 Maxxis Ardents on the frame, should I get it. But this could be the opening of Pandora’s Box for tires. It could only lead to wanting a little more rubber (enter “That’s what she said” joke here) and the Troll would be maxed out. Not a true fat bike. The Troll would always be lacking in the tire department.
For the fat bike route, I will not go into too much detail again, since I will only be repeating myself. Click here to see my comparison of the Pugsley and the Mukluk, which would probably be the route that I would take. In a perfect world, I would buy both. Hmmm, if only…
The next few days will be tough on the cycling decisions, thankfully that is the worst thing in my life that I have to worry about. For that, I am thankful.
Just keep spinning…
Surly Troll picture from their site, click the link to the right to have your mind blown on their products.
Now that the Xtracycle has been disassembled, I am back to square one with my old friend, the Haro V3. This bike was my very first “real” mountain bike, from 2003 I believe. This bike has gone through some changes over the years.
For a while it was my MTB, geared with a Manitou suspension fork, and V brakes. That phase traveled from Ohio to Southern California and continued on for a bit. Then, after the Gary Fisher Rig showed up, it turned into a geared commuter with 1.5 inch slicks, then switching back to trail duty as a second single speed. Moved back East, and it found it’s way back to the streets, as a single speed commuter, this time with a Salsa steel rigid fork and disc brakes. It hung on the wall of the garage for a time, patiently waiting for parts once again. Finally came the cargo bike phase, via Xtracycle. Now, we are here:
Back to just a frame. What form should it take now?
I have to say, this bike has lasted far longer than I ever would have guessed. I couldn’t even begin to estimate how many miles it has logged over the 9 years or so that I have owned it. I am thinking I could piece together a cheap single speed again, but this time run some Schwalbe Big Apples just for fun. Anyway, whatever form this bike takes on, it has been the best $400 that I have ever spent. Thanks Haro!
This month marks a full year on the Xtracycle conversion. I have ridden the crap out of this bike, and now I feel like I can make an honest comment on what I like/dislike about it. So that said:
The Xtracycle Freeradical kit is a well packaged, all in one “hitch-less trailer” than makes any bicycle a useful tool for carrying stuff. And by stuff I mean a lot of stuff. The kit is rated for 200lbs or so of cargo, which I did not get up to that weight, but if you can pedal it, it will probably work. Weight is balanced nicely, say for example, if you load a six pack on one side and a load of firewood on the other. Getting started pedaling is a little awkward, but once you are moving you do not notice the vast difference in weight for the left and right side freeloaders(bags). If the weight is balanced somewhat evenly between the two sides, you do not notice the weight at all for the most part. Let’s be honest though, with around 75lbs on the back, you can tell there is some weight, but mostly only on climbs. With all of the extra weight, once you are moving, momentum is your friend.
I used the HaroX for commuting to work, going to the grocery, riding with my daughter, bike camping, road riding, and just about everything else you can think of. Only a little bit of off roading, but with it’s extended wheel base, what little bit that I did was quite fun. Not a fast off road machine, but a nice and slow, easy pace to enjoy being in the woods. I would say in total, I have around 1000 miles on the Xtracycle. It rode smoothly with a set of 1.5 slicks, but also very comfortably with a knobby set of 2.1s. I did enjoy it a little more with the larger tires, just because it gave you the option to hit the dirt if the occasion arose.
So with all of the good things said, here is what I was not so fond of:
Right out of the box, it is implied that the Freeradical kit includes everything that you need to get the bike rolling. That is true, but only if you are planning on using rim brakes, and an 8 speed drive train. Since I was using disc brakes, and a 9 speed system, I needed to buy extra cables and two new chains. It would have been helpful to know that from the start. Also, the disc mount of the Freeradical requires a 203mm disc brake rotor, something that I did not think of, since I was planning on using a normal 160mm rotor. All of these were a minor, but more pricey inconveniences that I did not expect. Once that was all taken care of though, it was mostly smooth sailing.
The only other downside for me with this project was the weight. The all steel frame of the Xtracycle adds quite a bit of weight to your bike. Weight that is needed, of course, when you are planning on hauling things. But still, it is damn heavy. Once you are moving it is not as noticeable, but if you need to lift the bike for any reason, or stopping and starting, wow, is it heavy. Honestly though, this is a downside that is also a positive, because it makes your legs strong. But on some rides, I was wishing for a lighter ride.
Add that weight to anything that you might be carrying, and you start to get the commonly observed, “Xtracycle shimmy.” Just a slight, annoying wobble that happens from time to time when carrying weight. I have read that using Xtracycle’s Whatcamacollars helps fix that a bit, but that adds another expense to an already expensive package.
So, would I buy the kit again? You bet. It has been a game changer. Cycling has gone from a sport, to more of a way of living. The bicycle has become a practical tool to use for day to day things. This has probably been one of the best cycling moves that I have made in my cycling life. Very cool product.
That said, I am disassembling the bike, and planning on selling the Xtracycle. I know, lots of praise, then sell it? What the hell? Yeah, a little contradictory. But, I am planning on building a new bike, more of a “do-it-all” bicycle. I love the Xtracycle, but for mountain biking on it, that is not going to happen. My cycling life is needing a lighter, more versatile bike, so the plan is to pull all of the parts, place on a new frame, and sell the Xtracycle and Haro frame as one. Someday, I will build another one…
As for the next bike, I am really excited for it, but I will wait before I let the cat out of the bag…
Today’s ride was of a different pace. I have been putting in some miles here lately, and my tires have taken the brunt of it all. Yesterday’s rides both had flats, on both the T500 and the HaroX. So for today’s ride, Big Red got the call from the bullpen.
Not much on the mileage today, just had enough time to run a couple errands on Big Red. It has been a month or two since Big Red has seen any action, but as usual, pull the bike off of the rack and ride. Nothing ever really needs fixed or tuned, just pick it up and ride. Maybe since it is a beater bike, I just don’t care to fix it up, but it sometimes is the most reliable bike in my stable. But it always is one piece away from a total catastrophe. That is part of the appeal though.
Today’s errands had me down to the local bike shop, Bishop’s Bicycles. Picked up a couple tubes for the busted bikes, and chatted a bit about the allure of a Brooks saddle. I can see a B-17 in my future for sure. From there, it was off to pick up some photos and then back home. Only around 3 miles today, but it was still time on the bike. Tomorrow morning, back at it. Half way down…
Along the Little Miami scenic path.
Perfect weather today in SW Ohio, very unusual for this time of year. Normally, this would be the start of clearing away snow from the sidewalks, but today was around 60 degrees. Perfect day for a bike ride.
This afternoon, I started out on the T500 to get in a good ride through nearby Indian Hill to tackle some hills. After about 3 miles, I realized that I had a flat rear tire, and no spare tube, tools or pump. Luckily, I had briefly chatted with a friend at the trailhead parking lot, who graciously picked me up to spare me the torture of walking back to the house. Moral of the story: Be prepared.
After being dropped off at home, I switched out my Magicshine from the T500 to the HaroX and took off once again. Determined to take advantage of this great weather, I once again started off into Indian Hill. Not a long ride by any means, but still a bit of climbing, and one long descent which really makes the ride. After the long cruise out of Indian Hill, it was home for dinner.
Racing the sunset in Indian Hill.
After dinner, I received a call from my brother-in-law who had the urge to test out his new Cannondale for the first time, and asked if I felt like a night ride. For sure. So, once again, on the bike path for another round, this time again on the HaroX. Unfortunately, something was amiss in the rear wheel, which ended up being another flat tire. Luckily, this time, I had a spare, and the proper tools to fix the problem, and ride home without issue. Seriously, two flats in the same day? That has not happened in a while, and I cannot remember the last time that I had a flat. But at least I was prepared.
Almost the half way point for the month, here are the maps of today’s rides, minus the 1st ride:
All in all, such a great time today on the bike. Even thought there were a couple flat tires, I was still out enjoying the weather, and enjoying the spin. That is what it is all about, and now this is starting to become a habit. I am cool with that. Hope you got out and enjoyed this great weather!
Continuing the theme for night rides tonight. Temperature in the low 30s, but luckily no rain. Tonight also brought out the HaroX instead of the T500. I feel very fortunate to be able to switch from bike to bike when ever the feeling hits. Today’s ride was filled with lots of thinking about what new bike or frame to buy, but then all the thoughts came to a head with, “Be happy with what you have, that you have options.” With that said, here is some bike lust for you:
Jones steel diamond frame and unicrown fork
Thanks to the current issue of Dirt Rag, this is my new bicycle obsession. Jones bicycles, you might have heard of Jeff Jones before? Let’s be honest, you probably have not. He is a custom frame builder, building rigid specific frames and forks, that are meant to be ridden hard. His most noticable work would probably be this:
Jones titanium Spaceframe with truss fork
Back to Dirt Rag. In their latest issue, they have a review of the diamond frame, and from the write up, I would love to have one. I will be honest, most of Jones’s products are out of my price range, but the steel diamond frame could be built for a decent price. I won’t go into too many specifics, but check out Jones’s website for more information. If anything, there are some amazing photos and lots to read. And be sure to check out Dirt Rag’s website, lots of good stuff going on over there in Pittsburgh.
Anyway, tomorrow brings another day of riding. It has been one week straight, 3 more to go. I am sure it will be another day of thinking while on the ride, and being thankful that I have options. And also thankful that I can spin on two wheels…
If you are on Twitter, I am posting links to the Map My Ride stats @codsow. Check it!
Photos from Jones Bikes.
New route for day four. Pleasant, unusually warm temperature at around 47 degrees this morning, I would bet that not too many of these days are left. Checking the forecast for the next few days solidifies that thought. Thankfully, I am starting to figure out my clothing situation a little bit better.
While out on early morning rides, your mind starts to wander. No traffic at 5am, so you can go from thought to thought without much thinking about what you are doing. Not that I would suggest zoning out while riding, but sometimes it just happens. Horrible songs get stuck in your head. Christmas songs are sung to the tempo of your cadence. Lots and lots of thoughts dance in and out of my mind while riding, which almost clears my head out completely. I admit, it is a nice way to start the day.
Today had me thinking bikes. What are my future bike plans? How do I plan on riding in 2012? This is what I came up with:
First, move all my Xtracycle parts over to the T500. I enjoy the bike, and by making it a cargo bike, it would be used even more. I like the idea of having a front rack along with the Xtracycle, and the fork on the T500 is just begging for a front rack. Problem solved. Now what to do with the HaroX?
All of the parts will be pulled off of the Haro, and placed on one of these:
I have been contemplating a Surly Troll for quite some time now. Click here for my last thoughts on the Troll. But now, I feel is the time for the Troll. I like the idea of buying the complete bike from Surly, but I really enjoy the parts that I picked out for my Xtracycle conversion. They work well together. I feel that they will do a great job on the Troll frame, possibly a bit better than the stock Troll. Maybe not, but I am really comfortable on the bike with it’s specific parts, so that is what I am leaning towards. Also, the complete bike is around $900 more than the frame. I think that settles it. I probably will not finalize any bike ideas until 2012 hits though, so for now this is the plan. Let’s just see for how long! It will probably change while out tomorrow morning.
Another day down, and many more to go. This morning’s segment was especially tough due to having to work today. Normally I am up around 5:15am on work days, but today I awoke at 4:50am to get a decent ride in. Not as long of a ride today, but a ride nonetheless. Any time on the bike is what counts here!
One of the many great benefits of this self imposed challenge is that I am slowly figuring out my cold weather clothing situation. Today, with the temperature in the thirties again, I was overdressed, and even sweating on my short four mile ride. Today’s setup:
For my upper body, I started with an older polypropylene base, followed by my old faithful military wool sweater. Over those was a Polartec fleece vest, and topped off with my Mountain Hardwear soft shell jacket. Down below I started with a pair of Lycra riding shorts, followed by Under Armour tights, track pants, and lastly a pair of Columbia snowboarding pants. This arrangement was way too warm! I feel that this setup will work wonders in the colder months ahead, but for the thirty degree mark it is just too much.
Tomorrow I will experiment further, and hopefully I will have my layering system figured out by the end of this month.
Stay warm out there!
Now that the Thanksgiving holiday is over, it’s time to get back into a cycling routine. November was an off month for me exercise wise. Which who really stays in a routine during the holidays? I sure didn’t.
Time to get back into a regular cycling routine though. I am not the most motivated person out there, so I need to set a goal, and make it public. That keeps me honest, and opens myself up to ridicule if I fail. That’s a great motivating factor. Anyway, here is the plan:
My plan for the month of December is to bike or run every single day.
Yeah, I said it, every day. This will be tough, with the colder temperatures, less sunlight, and more holiday time coming up, but I think it is doable. Scratch that, it is doable. No thinking about it, just do it. (Enter cheesy Nike commercial)
So to start it off, this morning I was out before the sun on the HaroX. Air temperature was in the mid 20s, and lots of fog out. Just a quick ride to warm up the lungs. I have to say, it was a great way to start my morning. I am looking forward to this.
Keep checking back to see some progress, or check on Twitter @codsow. I will be tagging the posts with #monthofbiking, and posting up the Map My Ride ride/run reports daily.
Only 30 more days to go…
It’s funny how things change a bit once you start getting older. Granted, I am no old man by any means, but things are WAY different now at thirty than when I was twenty. My life has made a complete 180 degrees in those ten years. But I am starting to get off track, that is a totally different topic altogether.
Let’s just think about bicycle time at thirty rather than twenty. Gone are the days of thirty mile epic mountain bike rides that last all afternoon. Gone are the road rides that last all morning from coffee shop to coffee shop. But in their place are new rides, that for me are just as exciting. Rides with my daughter to the playground, or just around the block are a couple new rides that I find absolutely amazing. Another interesting ride that I have been doing more and more of is the grocery ride:
Thanks to the Xtracycle, I am able to squeeze in a ride to our local grocery to pickup a weeks worth of “life supplies.” Tonight was one of those nights, a nice little jaunt to pick up a few of the daily essentials that we so desperately needed. Not a long ride by any means, but fulfilling nonetheless. These are the types of rides that I am starting to enjoy more and more as I get older.
By doing this type of cycling though, you are spending more time on the bike, and that is what it is all about.
Every now and again I get to fit into my schedule an epic ride, but the grocery run has become a staple in our household.
Just some thoughts, just riding along…
Finally review time for this piece of equipment. I have been using the iBert Safe-T-Seat for around a year and a half, and sadly, I feel our time has come to an end. Here is what I think about it:
The iBert Safe-T-Seat takes a different approach to hauling kids on bikes. Instead of mounting the seat over the rear wheel, it mounts directly to the stem, in between the arms of the rider. This might make some uncomfortable, but here is why I like it:
The iBert gives your child an unobstructed view of the bicycle ride. Now, you no longer have to make your child stare at your back, or backside, while taking them for a ride. While on our rides, we actively talk about what we are seeing, squirrels, birds, other people, etc. It brings me great joy to roll alongside a team kit roadie type, and have my daughter wave and say hello. It breaks even the most die hard, serious cyclist out of their “zone.”
Another perk of the iBert is if your child falls asleep, you can see where they are leaning, and normally, they will be leaning onto one of your arms. That is a huge peace of mind to me. Think about your child on a rear mounted seat, leaning to the side, and who knows where those little sleepy fingers might end up. No, not your backside, I am talking about spokes here. That would be a tragic incident, even for my full grown adult digits. That in its self is worth the price of admission.
The only downsides to the iBert in my opinion would be minor. One, the little plastic clips that hold the padding to the plastic seat pop out easily, and become lost pretty quickly. I think we only have one of the three left. Not a huge deal, but I feel it should be mentioned. Another downside, which is one of the perks as well, is the front mounted position. This puts your child in a very bad situation if you would happen to wreck your bicycle. But with most things cycling related, just use some common sense and everything will turn out just fine. 3 foot gaps are landed easily, 6 footers are more of a challenge with the iBert. Kidding! I would not even dream of jumping with this seat.
This seat works best on paved surfaces, but on occasion I have ventured onto light, smooth single track, which is a blast. Slow and steady wins the race, stay away from super technical riding/racing, and the iBert will do what it is supposed to do, hold your child safely.
My daughter in Bicycle Times, actually her second appearance!
Again, my daughter and I have used the iBert for around a year and a half, and sadly our time has come to an end. She will soon be switching to a seat on the back of the Xtracycle, hopefully a PeaPod. She is almost too large for the seat, weight wise she is still okay, but unfortunately she is too tall for it. Luckily my On One Mary bars have a nice bend to allow her long legs to be comfortable for the time being.
Our experience with the iBert has been amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to give their child a first person introductory view to cycling. Just don’t try to jump anything…
When you think of bicycles, normally you think of them as something that you would use for exercise, or possibly recreation, or maybe even for transportation. Would you think of them for hauling cargo? Thankfully, there is a shift in cycling culture in the US. More and more people are starting to use their bicycle as a tool to accomplish tasks that you would normally use a car for. The bicycle is no longer just something to burn off a few calories, it is now your mini van, or your pickup truck. It is used to drop off the kids at school, or to pick up a weeks worth of groceries. It is used to take a week long vacation, or just to ride to work. What is the meaning of all of this random text? I stumbled upon this video, and thought it needed to be reposted:
This is a pretty awesome summary of what it is like to have/ride a cargo bike. It is life changing. It is epic. It is exercise. It is environmentally friendly.
Everyone wants to help save the planet. Not many people however seem to mention how practical and environmentally safe it is to use a bicycle. Want to save the world? Ride a bicycle. Want to do even more, like carry a lot of stuff that normally you would need a car for? Ride a cargo bike.
Much love to the companies and folks who are out there doing this very thing. I am so glad I converted my old MTB to a cargo bike. Want to know how? This is a good start: Xtracycle
Some other links that might be of interest:
Trek Transport Sale price here in the Cincinnati area, 20″ frame with a small ding in the down tube for $840! Normal MSRP $1259.99! That’s a deal!
Surly Big Dummy
Black Sheep Bicycles Very pricey custom cargo bikes among other beautiful bicycles.
Since the overnight bike camping trip, I have been putting in quite a few miles on the HaroX on all of the local roads here in the Cincy area, and I am starting to think that a road bike would fit the bill a whole lot better than the cargo bike for these type excursions. No way, am I talking about selling the HaroX. I am just starting to realize that putting in a bunch of miles on the cargo bike takes a lot out of you. It is amazing though, climbing on the HaroX, but I feel that I would have fresher legs for more miles at a time on a standard road bike. I guess I should not say a “standard” road bike, I have always fancied a Rivendell. Too bad they are WAY out of my price range. Some of the other bikes that I think would be pretty solid are:
Surly Pacer/Long Haul Trucker
Older Kona Honky Tonk (1st version if I remember right, powder blue w/down tube shifters)
See a common theme here? Steel. Clearance for wider tires. Mounts for racks and fenders. More upright riding stance. In no way am I looking for a racer type bike on skinny skinny tires. That is not how I get down.
Anyway, just thinking…
And here is a short video I did the other day of my cargo bike:
On Wednesday, I set out on my first bike camping trip. My plan was to ride from here in the Milf, up to John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs along the Little Miami bike path. Just a basic bike path overnighter. I finally today mapped it out on the website Map My Ride, Click to see the route. Overall it was a great experience. Lots of miles, thunderstorms, friendly people, beautiful surroundings, etc. Such a great learning experience. Hopefully this is the first of many. Here are a few pictures from the trip, I didn’t take too many, forgot that I had the new camera with me…
So what did I learn from the trip?
1. Putting in this many miles for me was very humbling. My knees are a little tender as I write this.
2. Always practice setting up your gear at home before you leave, that makes setting up camp in a thunderstorm a little easier.
3. Recumbent bicycles are everywhere, and they are a little creepy.
4. People love the Xtracycle. Even if they do not understand what it is. I should get paid for how much talking about my HaroX that I did. Lots of people wanted to stop and chat to try to understand just exactly what was going on with my bike.
Cant wait to head out on trip number 2!
Spending lots of time on the Xtracycle here lately. I have been putting in quite a few miles, loaded and unloaded, trying to get ready for my upcoming bike camping trip next month. Still not too sure on my route, but it will be a 2 or 3 day journey. I have never done anything like it before, so I am really excited about it. Anyway, I have been trying to tackle all of the tough hills in the area, and last night, I conquered probably one of the best hills in the greater Cincinnati metro area. Cunningham Rd. from Camp Dennison going into Indian Hill. The photo below does not do it justice. Very steep.
Today, I scored a new bike. Technically, just half of a bike. Finally bought a unicycle! I have been wanting one for quite some time now, and I found one on the local craigslist for $25, so I bought it. Quite possibly, one of the hardest things that I have ever tried to do. Tonight, I spent around 40 minutes just trying to balance on it, to no avail. I did end up going as far as two pedal strokes, but man is this hard. I will be lucky if I can ride around the block by the end of the summer. But, that is my goal, baby steps with this bike. I will say though, in just that short amount of time, it wore me out. Crazy.
Nice commute today on the HaroX. I will be the first to admit, that it is WAY overkill for my daily commute. All I ever really carry is one of my SealLine dry bags loaded with my clothes, toiletries, phone charger, and lunch. I could easily fit one of those bags on the rear rack of a “normal” bike. But seriously, what fun would that be? It is pretty amazing how nice it is to know that I am ready for whatever. Find something cool being thrown out? Strap it down to the back of the bike. Need to stop for groceries? Roll on in. Give a lift to a homeless person? No problem. It is an amazing setup, and I really wish that I would have done it sooner. Just an example of how it is ready for whatever: I get home from my 15.5 mile (one way) commute, and my wife needs some things from the grocery. So, I unload my dry bag, and head on over to the grocer. Good stuff. Thank you Xtracycle!
If you haven’t checked out their site,check it!
I have to admit, Cinco de Mayo was quite different for me before I had my daughter. I would have been a day full of drinking, doing something outdoors, and probably more drinking. Granted, I did have a few brews yesterday, but nothing to the proportions that have been consumed in the past. Here is basically a run down of what happened yesterday:
The day started off with Goose and I taking the XtraHaro down to the local doughnut shop, Ms. Cheri’s, to get a few pastries to start our day. Quite a few people were intrigued, and also confused with the entire family bike/van setup. Very comical to try to explain it to non cyclists, but at the end of the trip, I think most people got it. I guess that is the draw back to being only one of a few Xtracycles in the great Cincinnati area.
After spending the morning tooling around on the cargo bike, the afternoon brought some sitting on the patio, enjoying some Hudy Delight. This is a local Cincinnati beer, or was since it is now brewed in PA. I do believe that they will be producing it here in Ohio once again in the next couple of years. Anyway, just a light beer. Nothing fancy. Since the weather is getting warmer, it makes me want a lighter beer, and this one does the trick. Plus, it is cheap, and has more flavor than a Bud Light. Works for me.
Once the evening set in, I retired to my garage to work on a few bicycle related projects that I have needed to do. The first was to get Big Red back up and running. I ended up putting on a set of Maxxis Crossmark 26×2.1s front and back, and a new Wippermann single speed chain. The Crossmarks do fit in the back, and in the front there is a little bit of rubbing, but for this town cruiser, I do not mind. It was nice to take a little spin on it last night.
After that was finished, I started to add some protection to the Xtracycle frame. Basically, I just cut up some old tubes, and zip tied them to the frame, to act as a chain protector. It is not flashy, but it will do the trick. I think after all of the miles that I have put on, that gave me a decent idea where I am getting chain rub. Also, it was free. It pays to stockpile old tubes for this reason!
Since the V Racks were off of the HaroX, I decided to clean it up a bit. I don’t normally wash my bikes all that often, so I made sure that it count. Also cleaned up the Haro Mary SS, since she might be leaving this weekend. We shall see. All in all, a very productive, awesome day!
So I have kinda neglected my blogs for the time being. I basically had no motivation to do anything with them for the last couple months. Also work was being a little bit of a hassle. On the brighter side though, the XtraHaro has been performing beautifully! I have had quite a few rides on it. Basically, it is the only bike that I am riding now. I am riding it with my daughter, riding it to work, doing road rides on it, running errands, and hauling things. It is an amazing bike, and I wish that I would have converted my bike earlier. It has really made me realize some things though. It has made me aware that I should sell my mountain bike. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE mountain biking. But in this stage of life, it is very inconvenient. To get to any trail in the area, I am looking at a 30 minute drive. Gas is now $4 a gallon, and that is just not worth it to me. Especially when I can leave directly from my house on the XtraHaro, and get an awesome mixed surface ride, and spend zero cash on getting to the ride. Maybe I am getting older, but I feel it is streamlining my life a little bit. Just rambling…
By the way, shoot me an email if anyone is interested in a 29er SS…
So, I have had some time to put in a few miles, what can I say. It’s pretty awesome. Yesterday did around 10 miles before the newest snowstorm hit the Cincinnati area, and everything feels really good. Maybe its the fact that the bike is long, or that I have more gears than I have ever had, but this bike climbs really well. I am also surprised how well the Maxxis Crossmark tires roll on pavement. These tires will give me some options when the nicer weather rolls around. Here are some pictures of the complete bike as it sits…
Got the XtraHaro back from Bishop’s Bicycles, had to have new derailleur cables and housing installed. The included kit did not work unfortunately. Another thing that did not work was the chain extension, which was not a nine speed chain. So I had to buy two new chains. Bummer. At this point, I don’t care. The bike is now functional!
Only a quick ride home from the shop, so not a true shake down, maiden voyage, but I plan on hitting the streets tomorrow once I am home from work, and of course some better photos. Here are a few teasers:
After just four days of waiting, the Xtracycle kit came today! Pretty speedy shipping from JensonUSA. I ordered from Jenson, instead of directly from Xtracycle, only because Jenson was in stock. Xtracycle would not be shipping anything until February or March. The only difference with my kit than from the company itself is that the freeloader bags are the older style. I’m fine with that.
The big heavy (19 lbs) box arrived around noon today, so my daughter and I took it down to the basement to at least open things up to take a look. I’m not sure if anyone has ever tried to do bicycle maintenance with a toddler around, but it is not too easy, and nothing every really gets done.
Once out of the box, I was amazed at how long the Freeradical is. It was as long as the Haro itself, at least the frame. After briefly looking through the included manual, which was very well done on recycled card stock it seems, I had a window of a few minutes to bolt everything together. All that I can say, is wow. This thing is long. Crazy long.
After my daughter lost interest, I patiently waited until my wife was home from work and tried to finish everything up. A couple interesting things to anyone interested in this kit. 1) The cables and housing that are included are ready to go out of the box for v-brakes. I am running discs. 2) You will need a larger rear rotor than a 160mm, the frame says 203mm. These are just two minor inconveniences, but still a little bit of a bummer. After I discovered these items, I took the rolling chassis down to my local shop Bishop’s Bicycles to have them finish everything up for me. They are a great shop, and they seemed jazzed to have a long bike roll in.
So that’s where the project pauses for the moment. I hope to have the bike back in the next day or two to really try it out, and see how this thing works. I am already stoked, and I haven’t even rode it yet, it just looks comfy and practical. Can’t wait to put it to use this year. Makes me think of a great Dr. Seuss book, and how it starts…
Today is your day.
You’re off to great places,
You’re off and away!”