Rebuilding the long bus

A couple of years ago, Sarah and I bought a tandem. We thought it would be great for riding together – and in many ways, it was. We did have a lot of fun on our big – salmon – tandem. We linked it together with a trail-a-bike and even a trailer too. Let me tell you, that’s a BEAST to drive.

The key thing is that the tandem is actually a bit small for both Sarah and me. We are cramped. Sarah has started riding her single bike more and actually enjoys that more. I still tow Derek and Max in the trail-a-bike/trailer configuration – which is fun, but Derek is getting bigger and the trail-a-bike isn’t the best option any more. If we could just stop them from growing…. With Sarah on her single, that frees up a seat on the tandem. The problem is, Derek is actually a bit SMALL for the back of the tandem…. sigh. The tandem is what is called a “Softride Tandem” which means it as a HUGE carbon fiber beam that absorbs shock and makes the back seat more comfy. The problem is it is very unconventional and the seat only goes so low. Being a problem solver, I came up with several scenarios that involved complicated stuff like my friends fashioning complex new beams, welding additional tubes onto the tandem, modifying the cranks to make them shorter – let me tell you, I had thought through this all and SOLVED my problem.  Well, sort of.

The thing I didn’t think of is that many other people have solved this problem in the past.  There is a “kit” called a Child Stoker Kit that adds another crankset to the bike.  If you look at the picture on the left, you will see how it all sorts out. This effectively moved the stoker (person in back) cranks a bunch closer and makes it so they can reach!

Now – this kit sells for $350 – which is quite reasonable – but I am known for pulling random things out of nowhere and getting some good deals.  Off I go on m quest for at least “bro-deal”.  I call in a couple favors, search ebay and actually find the part I need.  I am pretty suprised – the guy wants $70 for it … I email him and say “Would you consider a buy it now?  I don’t get an immediate reply.  I continue the quest.

Late last night, I am online, minding my own business and I start chatting with my buddy Nathan.  I am telling him my Tandem story – laughing at myself for “over-solving” my problem.  About 1/2 way through the story he says – “You know, I have a child stoker kit out in my garage, you want it?”  I reply (literally) “no sh*t?”.  Turns out when he bought his tandem, it had the kit on it, he doesn’t need it.  He’s cutting the price in half – down to $30 for exactly what I need!

We do have a couple minor issues to overcome – like his tandem is aluminum and has a 31.8 mm tube, mine is steel and has a 28.6 tube.  Yeah, Nate’s got a bigger tube… pardon me – I digress.  This can likely be worked out with a semi-common shim available from most any bike shop.  I will have to investigate that a bit.  I plan on phoning a tandem shop today – I believe they sell the part for about $10.

I started the week with a $225 quote to fashion new parts on the frame.  By mid-week I’m at $40ish and everything will look good!  The long story made short – we should be shortening up our bus really soon.  It should make my life a LOT easier and make riding a lot more pleasant for the male popultion of the Georgia Pattons.  Heck – it will shorten the bus by at least 8′.  That will make us a cornering MACHINE ;-)

5 wheels + 1 wheel – how many bicycles?

So we decided to make life easier and “ride from home”. We still need a lot of work refining our getting ready routine, but we did it. Rode from our home… a victory in many ways. Sarah’s “lady bits” (my friend called them that) are not enjoying life so much today – but that can be expected. She did really good riding around our area which is hilly. I kind of think she is starting to respect what cyclist do a bit more as she realizes its not “just riding a bike”.

I impressed myself, dragging the kids (Derek on the trail-a-bike, Max in the trailer – 5 wheels) up 2 reasonably large hills (those who have been to my house, we made it to the house…). It was good.

Later, during nap time I took Derek with me and we went for some unicycling. I did really well today… in my down hill unicycling! (yeah, down hill). You see, the hard part for me is keeping the wheel rolling… and going down a slight grade, it helped. I bet I rode 15 feet two or three times!

I’ll get that thing figgered out!

Unicycling – it’s hard

So I got my uni back from Maryland.  I spent about 5 minutes on it last night – just cuz I had to ;-).  Today, I tried a bit in front of the house, then I came up with an idea – I would head over to Derek’s school playground.  They have a long fence and stuff … so off we went.  Max came for a jumping adventure, Derek came for a climbing adventure and Sarah came to remind the boys (all three of us) to be careful.

I tried various things to hold onto and feel as if I am making some progress.  I was able to mount the unicycle pretty easily today.  Get up on it  … wiggle around a bit … keep it upright and not fall on my you know what.  I did one fall that landed me on the ground, but no injury.  The fun/excitement came when I was able to ride form one “thing” to another “thing” that was about 3-4 feet apart.  I’d love to tell you how easy it was, or that I was totally in control but the simple fact of the matter is that – well – I got kinda lucky.  That is however, about 2 feet more luck than I had the other day – so that’s good?

The neat thing is I realized the playground is really a great playground for a unicycle… lots of things for me to hang onto, flat grass area to ride on (when it’s not wet) and ultimately, a running track to work on my “distance riding” once I get some more skills.

I don’t remember learning to ride a bicycle, but I will tell you this is pretty hard… I hope to get going soon!

Product Warning

I know I do some stuff that could be considered un-safe if done by an untrained individual, so even looking at what I am talking about here should be considered dangerous – but I am fascinated by the unicycle world right now and found a “two speed unicycle hub”.  Unicycles – by definition – are fixed wheel.  You pedal, it goes!  Well… with this hub, you can go FASTER!  I cant use it yet – cuz well – I can’t go.  The hub has a warning:=

Warning: Geared hubs can be dangerous due to the high potential speed and the risk of unplanned dismounts during shifting. Ride within your limits!

Thankfully, the product warning has saved me from a bad situation!  I feel safer already!