Xtracycle Resurrection

I’ve had my Xtracycle for many years, but have hardly ridden it since we moved back to Washington. Especially since Benji was born, a cargo bike never worked as an efficient mode of transportation, time-wise. It’s hung in the garage, straining the hook and being kind of useless, for the last three years or so.

Now Benji is a little older, though, we have more time to get places, and we’ve used Benji’s trailer quite often to get to school. This reminded me of my Xtracycle and my long-term plan to use it for child transport. It has much larger cargo capacity than my trailer (perhaps equal to trailer plus my panniers), and gets Benji up and away from the road a bit. Plus I’m hoping that handling will go better, since at least I’ll only have two wheels to worry about, rather than four.

So, after discussing it with Ian, I took my old bike to the shop for a renovation. This process has involved replacing lots of things on the bike, and we have sunk a good bit of cash into this old bike, getting it back into good riding order and adapting it to carry a kid. I even went to a shop in Seattle especially to get the seat and Xtracycle conversion accessories.

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Now all we have to do is ride it. I’m both excited and apprehensive to try it out with a passenger.

Benji claims to be happy to have a “car seat” for the bike; he always protests getting into the trailer and says he prefers the car seat. I hope that’s true, and that this different seat doesn’t meet with the unmitigated protests that have accompanied every other thing lately.

Rental Bike Time

Day’s Verse:
Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.
Acts 9:22 (context)

I finally caved and rented a bike for the remainder of the time my Seven is out of commission. I’ve ridden the Xtracycle all week, first for fun on Monday with Mom — I took the day off after my Bike Expo weekend bonanza — and then to the Bellevue Transit Center on Tuesday, all the way 20 miles in to the International District on Wednesday, and then 9 miles that evening to Greenlake for the house/cat sitting we did Wednesday and Thursday night. The house sitting meant I only had to ride 9 miles each way Thursday and Friday morning.

I was already mentally gearing up for the arduous, headwind-y ride home (we’ve had a steady north wind since Wednesday at least, meaning I had a headwind every night, making the usual challenge of riding the Xtracycle just one notch more difficult) when I talked to Eric, owner of JRA Bike Shop.

I asked about rental bikes; they rent some sluggish bikes for tourists to tootle around downtown on, but that wouldn’t be much better than the Xtracycle. As we talked about it, Eric thought it over and said, “What do you think of that red one?” He indicated a red Cannondale Hybrid 600. Turns out it belongs to the shop; it’s a used bike they just built up with new parts, and he decided to let me rent that. So, for $150 a week, I get to ride the red chopper.

It’s a whole different riding experience, let’s put it that way. It’s got cruiser-style handlebars and incredibly low gearing. I can’t remember the last time I sat so upright on a bike — possibly on my first-ever bike? Aside from some saddle adjustment issues, the bike felt awesome. It was a ton of fun to ride, zippy and responsive and light feeling after the Xtracycle (but then, what wouldn’t be?).

The different position made the ride feel like a pleasure ride rather than a commute, a feeling enhanced by my meeting up with Ian about halfway home. We rode together the rest of the way, and that made it fun, too. We haven’t gotten to spend much time together, with my hectic schedule, so even riding a little ways together on a beautiful afternoon felt like a fun break.

Oh, and an assessor from Frontier Assessors came out and took pictures of my bike. I hope she doesn’t lowball me to Hertz. I just want to get my bike fixed, but I’m afraid to pay the $1,500 it’ll cost (plus, of course, the $150 I’m spending every week for the rental bike, a cost approved verbally by the Hertz rep via my contact at Oracle) without some assurance I’ll get reimbursed for all the costs.

Worse comes to worse I guess I have to call in John Duggan.

Bike Expo: Day 2

Day’s Verse:
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Acts 7:55-56 (context)

Funny thing; Day 2 of Bike Expo felt essentially the same as Day 1. I woke up so achingly sore from Day 1 that I could hardly stand up, let alone walk around. Conceding to my tired muscles, I agreed to have Ian drop me off and pick me up. Good thing I did; he dropped me off about 2 miles from the Expo venue, and even riding that flat, short distance took serious effort. I think I’m having a difficult time adjusting my mindset from Artemis — a fairly fast, zippy, titanium bike — to Charlotte — a very slow, very rugged, very utilitarian bike. It’s hard for me to shift from pushing to go a certain speed to just enjoying the ride and taking my time.

Anyway, for Bike Expo, Sunday did feel slower overall than Saturday, and we never got the kind of overwhelming rush of people that we had to deal with on Saturday. I’m glad, because by Sunday I had started feeling really, really worn out, and at the urging of miscellaneous coworkers (I think at one point 3 of the 6 people urged me to take time off after Bike Expo), I’m taking today off.

Here are a couple pictures of our booth during a lull time on Saturday:
Bike Expo Booth 1

Bike Expo Booth 2

Saturday I didn’t have time to take in any of the entertainment — I basically only left the booth to go to the bathroom, which, handily for me, was all the way across the building. That meant that I could legitimately meander through all the different stalls and areas on my way to or from the bathroom. However, I probably spent 30 total minutes out of the 9 hours going to/from the bathroom and incidentally looking at booths and vendors. On Sunday things were slower, and on one trip to the bathroom I happened to have my camera. The trip coincided most fortunately with the incredible display of bicycle gymnastics put on by the world-famous German cyclists:

German Acrobatic Cyclists 12

German Acrobatic Cyclists 5

German Acrobatic Cyclists 1

German Acrobatic Cyclists 2

Seeing those people in action made the weekend for me. I spent the entire demonstration in awe.

Actually, I think what really made the weekend for me was receiving the People’s Choice award for our booth. The volunteers who were there, including the President of the Board, attributed the nomination to my enthusiasm and friendliness, and said so to the Executive Director, who was also there. The Board President said something along the lines of, “The booth may have won, but it wouldn’t have without Katie.” I felt very gratified to hear that, and to know that people who passed through our booth actually remembered us and remembered us positively as a result of my hard work.

Bike Expo: Day 1

Day’s Verse:
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
Acts 6:7

Today I spent 9 hours at the Bicycle Alliance booth at Bike Expo, handing out maps — hundreds of maps — and Share the Road postcards, Bicycle Alliance brochures, and even more maps. My throat is sore and my voice croaky after an entire long day of basically hollering at people over the noise of the crowd. Actually, the space where our booth is located is not overly loud at all, but the sound of hundreds of people talking all at once just adds up after a while. Also, standing on a concrete floor for all those hours started taking its toll by the end, and my legs and back feel quite sore now, too.

Some of that I may have to attribute to riding the Xtracycle 26 miles, well loaded, into a headwind, up gentle but endless inclines. That was hard work, no question, and I was proud it only took 2 hours all told. As you commenters have pointed out, it’s not about speed on an Xtracycle, and that’s something I like about it. However, when I really just want to get to my destination in as short a time as possible, it’s not the bike for me. I did get a lot of compliments on the bike, though, and it did a fabulous job hauling and holding my food, changes of clothes, cable and U-lock, SLR camera, and extra bike clothes. Ian rescued me this evening by picking me up and taking me to Kidd Valley for dinner, where I got a veggie burger with bacon. The strange looks were so worth it, seriously.

Anyway, I have lots of pictures, but I’m totally wiped out and I have another 6 hours to do tomorrow. I’ll just say that I got to see lots of friends and people I knew from all over the place: Dean from Pedal Dynamics; Neil Jander, a guy I grew up with; John Whitlow, my dad’s cousin and on the Board of the Bicycle Alliance; Jean from KDOG; a number of Cascade staff people, which makes sense since they run Bike Expo; Jon, an AmeriCorps member; Leo, from the LCI Seminar class I helped co-teach; and a selection of Bicycle Alliance volunteers and supporters. I talked to probably hundreds of people today (I’m horrible at estimating how many people I talked to, but if you say 20 an hour, which would probably be conservative, we’re still over 100) and I think I managed to stay cheerful and enthusiastic the entire time.

I enjoyed myself for certain, but I have to admit I’m utterly exhausted. If you define an “introvert” as somebody who finds social interactions draining, and an “extrovert” as somebody who finds social interactions energizing, I’d fall firmly in the “introvert” category. It doesn’t mean I dislike talking with all sorts of different people — I’m finding that to be quite enjoyable, actually. I’m just so tired at the end of it all.